Monday, December 05, 2011

Different cultures different ideas?

As you may have gathered if you've read my recent posts, in the kindness of strangers part 2, I fell out my chair. Now, I know that you non chair users are all shocked and the chair users are sitting there snickering a bit in a 'been there done that' kind of way, but the truth is I wasn't hurt. Actually (in an attempt to gain some sympathy), I did end up with a bruise on my arm (from where it hit the wall) and my back was very sore the next few days. Now, before you panic, I need to be truthful here - none of that is so out of the ordinary for me, since if I'm not falling out my chair I'm simply falling over on a regular basis...

Anyway, hubby resisted the temptation to laugh or take pictures of my upside down chair and me acting like a beetle on my back and grabbed the chair to right it as I sat up and leant against the wall. I assessed my body - was did anything hurt (more than normal), was I concussed, bleeding or shocked? My arm seemed a bit scraped from the wall, which was by then acting as my friendly support and a man rushed over to help. He stood and looked at me - I smiled back, which I guess reassured him a bit and then he looked on as I fussed with the chair (putting brakes on etc) ready to get it. Did he interfere? No. What he actually did was say to me "Do you need help getting in? Do you need me to lift you?" I said I was fine, but he stayed close by until I transferred into the chair at which point I thanked him and he headed off to the bar.

It was an odd experience for me - the perfect offer of help and it got me wondering about stuff - a practice that I am sure I am quite famous for, by now!

The thing is, this friendly helpful chap, wasn't British and my experience of this kind of thing while on home soil usually results in one of two things:
1. People completely ignore you, making sure they are looking the other way and 'didn't see anything (guv!)'.
2. People rush to help, grabbing you by the arm (please don't restrict the bits of me that actually work fine - thank you!) and ignoring all protestations of "I'm ok, please let me do it on my own!".

So, the question is, why the difference? Is there better disability awareness in other countries? Do other countries have better manners? In fact, this guy was German and they aren't widely renowned for their good manners are they? (Although I base this observation purely on the fact that they are famous for putting towels on sun beds early in the morning *1 and don't wish to offend any German readers at all) Do they have more respect for the elderly (and possibly infirm)? I just don't know, I simply don't know the answers to any of these questions. Let's face it, if I did I wouldn't be wondering about it either...

The strange thing is that it extended further than the German guy. I was wheeling down beside the pool and as I approached a gap between the flower bed and a sunbed, the (Russian?) lady indicated 'was the gap wide enough?'
In Britain, I am more used to:
1. People completely ignore you, making sure they are looking the other way and 'didn't see anything (guv!)'. Or
2. People leap to their feet, moving their sunbed, their partner's sunbed and anything else within a ten foot radius ignoring all protestations of "Its ok there's plenty of space"

These are just two examples, but I could give you many more. They all make me wonder why things are the way they are. I actually think with Brits, that those who ignore you mostly do it because they don't quite know what to do. They don't want to appear patronising, and so they do nothing so as to allow you to be independent. Other people go to the opposite extreme - they are desperate to help, but don't know how much (or how little) to give and so go over the top. In all cases, I think that people are basically kind and helpful. But then...the big question is, just why are people from the continent so different? Any ideas anyone?

*1 which may in fact be just due to the fact that they get up early in the morning maybe?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A life well lived.

I know that many of you are aware that my FIL had a stroke on Good Friday and I now have to report that he passed away. In the end, he caught yet another chest infection and just wasn't strong enough to fight this one off. We will miss him very much, but in some ways we all know just how much of a release this is for him as everything has been a struggle for him since Easter. In the end, as he needed continuing full nursing care, we found a really nice home for him and they gave him a lot of love, care and attention over the last few weeks of his life.

I was wondering just yesterday, just what an impact my FIL had on my life and the lives of the people around him and thought I'd tell you a little bit about the man behind the acronym. 

My FIL was a small man, who probably only ever lied about one thing in his whole life - when he claimed that he was a whole 5ft 1.5" tall on applying to the army! He was very proud of his time in the army but apart from that, never really strayed too far from home - he never owned a car and spent all the time he could with his wife...who he adored. I sometimes think he never really got over her death in January and that's so sad to relate. His stroke took so much from him; so many times when we visited he wasn't with it at all, but through it all, he remained remarkably cheerful. From the time he saw the wild dogs running around the ward(!) to the time he was off out to get the car (when he couldn't drive) and all the other strange places that his confusion took him, he chuckled his way through most of it.  In fact, all the time I've known him, if you asked me to name one thing that was the essence of him, I'd say it was his little chuckle. He'd be telling us about a TV programme and he'd give that little chuckle as something had amused him - he saw humour in many things - and that's not a bad way to be.

So, short in stature he may have been, but that didn't stop him being a loving father and the most devoted husband you could imagine. Like my MIL, he was just a really nice person and I don't think I ever met anyone who didn't like him. That's not a bad epitaph, is it...just being universally liked? Do you know, I think most people would be happy with that.

20/12/27 - 16/11/11

Friday, November 11, 2011

Aaargh, aargh....and balm to the soul.

I've been quiet, I know, but just for once, it isn't my problem!

I'm not sure how many of you are aware, but I have an iPad and I do most of my blogging on that. I have small hands and the virtual keyboard just seems to fit me perfectly. I love the way that I can balance it on my lap, or sit almost anywhere and just write as the mood takes me.

For some time now, I have been using an app called Blogpress, not only to write with, but also to save drafts locally and then upload whenever I am happy with them (and have a wifi connection!). So, all was well in wwland and a little while ago, I had really busy time, with ideas flowing out of me and onto the screen. I am what I like to think of as a 'bash it out' writer. I write as I think as I speak...minus little things like spelling and sentence construction. I then (once I've got the initial stuff out my system) go through it, correcting it, removing people's names and adding in links etc. it's the way I like to work. Back to the busy time....

You see, there I was, creative juices flowing and away from wifi and I wrote half a dozen entries. Came home, backed up my lovely device and then discovered ios5, the new operating system was out. I installed it - the installation went perfectly and I was happy until I tried to open Blogpress. Aaargh (number 1) - it did nothing but crash and I couldn't get to my entries at all. I checked the developer's website, no mention of crashing. Checked other people online (don't you just love Google!) and found it was a common issue. Emailed the reply. Emailed the developers reply....and the same response a third time too. Bad, bad support....hmmm, sorry, I meant no, no support, didn't I?*1

Never mind I thought....I can at least work online directly through Blogger and write a new entry, just to let you know what's going on. So I did....I wrote, then I hit publish....and then got a snotty message saying they couldn't publish my work. And then...Aaaaargh (number 2).....they lost my work!

Last night, after no joy with Blogpress and the iPad problem with Blogger, I decided to download Blogsy. It won't get me my written entries back (maybe one day the upgrade will come*1) but at least I can get blogging again. Nice app this Blogsy...and it means i can bash out all those thoughts, feelings and wonderings. As I said, balm to the soul!

*1 The app store states that they have submitted an upgrade for ios5, but there's no sign of it yet.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The kindness of strangers (part 2)

Its funny, but when a day dawns bright and sunny I always find I am full of optimism again - regardless of how many steps there are where I am staying! As long as I can get down them and have good coffee inside me, I am ready to face the world. There was only one problem that day and that was that we needed to collect some towels from the hotel next door. Hmm....remember the ramp? The one I need a hero for? Well, if I went next door to get towels, then I wouldn't be able to get back up the ramp, so hubby needed to go with me. Poor thing, with his poorly leg too...but it had to be done. It was on our way to reception of that hotel, that we discovered another (steep) up-ramp and I was determined to have a go at getting up it on my own - after all, I'm a big, strong independent girl, aren't I?

I must admit, I managed to give it a good go, if I say so myself, but a good go is sometimes not enough and about half way up I suddenly felt like I'd hit a brick wall. I know when to admit defeat (yes, I do, so stop sniggering!) and so I gripped the wheels lightly to lower myself back down the slope. I guess I gripped a bit too hard and misjudged it completely and so I found myself flipping over backwards - and landed on my back, legs in the air, showing my knickers off to the world! Hubby stood back and waited, only getting hold of the chair to stop it flying off in to the swimming pool. He knows I need a few moments to compose myself and do my own diagnostic check of my body to see what I've done now. Turns out I hit my arm on the wall on the way down, but little else - and I couldn't complain about my bruise after looking at the state of hubbys leg!

I was almost rescued anyway by some nice German man too, who offered to get me up - and who was really nice about it. Of course, I was too stubborn to take up the offer and climbed back into the chair on my own. Towels had to wait until I could a) swallow my pride and get a push, or b) find another route!

Who ever would think that just getting a few towels could be so complicated? In the absence of any other comment, I have decided to mark the occasion in points out of 10:
Accessibility 5/10 (for at least installing a ramp)
Slope angle 1/10 (since I could get halfway)
Legs in air photo opportunity 8/10 (my legs aren't that good!)
Bruise quotient 5/10 (definitely had more spectacular)
Towel colour 6/10 (orange, JIC you care!)
So...all in all, could do better...

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The kindness of strangers (part 1)

So, we decided to go on holiday - we needed a relaxing break after a long summer (you only have to read my last entry to know what sort of a summer it's been & we thought we were due a break). Those people who know me well (and many who don't know me that well), know that I am an organiser and a planner and so, before booking anything I checked all the facilities of the hotel online - especially those relating to accessibility. I emailed head office, I emailed the disabled help department and I emailed the resort as well as phoning the specialist helpline to let them know I was a wheelchair user before we travelled. I checked Thompson's website (oops, did I name and shame?) and I did everything within my power to make sure that we were going to have the most chilled and relaxing holiday ever, with nothing left to chance.

A week before we were due to go, the unexpected happened (I guess thats what makes it unexpected - you don't often say the expected happened, do you?) and hubby had an accident where a huge lump of timber fell on his leg. At the time, the emergency department were amazed it wasn't broken - it was that bad (I can post pictures if you like really gory stuff) and we were immediately worrying about whether to cancel the holiday or not. Well, over the next few days the leg improved a bit and so we decided we wouldn't cancel, but hubby (abandoning the crutches issued by the hospital) still needed to use a walking stick. He was (kind of) ok, but as my normal helper, was suddenly unable to help much, which was a bit of a blow.

We arrived at the hotel at stupid o'clock in the morning and discovered a ramp up to the front door. Now, this ramp, was some ramp - it looked like at least 45 degrees so I manned (womanned?) up and took a run at it. I two thirds of the way up; ran out of steam and found myself travelling backwards at an increasing rate of knots, desperately hoping I wouldn't trash whoever was coming up the slope behind me! Hubby was struggling with a stick and 2 cases and couldn't help and so some hero just dropped his bags and ran to push me up the ramp...and the next ramp ....and the next ramp. To be truthful I probably could have managed the last one, but it was late, I was tired and he was doing a great job ;-)
Anyway, we got to our rooms (my hero went off with his wife!) and we crashed out...exhausted.

The next day hubby's leg was worse - (not good news!) and so I headed out on my own to a welcome meeting. I should have known it was a bad omen when it was up some steps, but in the little optimistic world that I live in, I just managed, with some help to get my chair up to the top, and then on the way out, just chucked my chair down the steps and climbed back in at the bottom (to be fair, a nice lady did stop it from rolling clean across the lobby...). After all, these things happen...

Back to the room, collected hubby and went to find the dining room. Guess what? It was down steps (lots of them!) - ok, so out of chair, random man carries chair down (hubby just struggling to get down on his own with his stick), get back into chair and have lunch. Decided to go to the pool. Guess what? Pool is up steps (only a few) - so, abandon pool idea, decide to go to bar instead but guess what? Yep, you got it, the bar is up steps (different ones)! Anyway, hubby struggles to the bar (probably feeling that alcohol will anaesthetise the leg a little) and gets a couple of beers - for a while, life is good. I then decide that the toilet might be an idea, but guess what? Yep, you guessed it again. The toilet is downstairs!

To be fair, I did talk to a lady who said that if I headed down past the pool and around the road (there was no drop curb to get onto the road and no footpath), that I could actually avoid most of the steps - but - remember that ramp at the front door?, well, the road took you round to that....and there's not always a hero around when you want one!

Two things came out of this start to my holiday. One was that Thompson have a load of lessons to learn about how they market their hotels (I don't expect everywhere to be accessible, but I do expect the disabled helpline to tell me if they aren't) and the other is that people generally are wonderful and helpful. From the hero who pushed me up the ramps, to the lady who caught my chair flying across the lobby and the men who carried my chair up and down steps all over the hotel - they were all fab! I just hope they come across my blog and realise I am talking about them. If you have - this is a very heartfelt thank you!

Monday, September 26, 2011


I know, I know, I've been very lax lately - no funny stories, no disability rants, no wondering of any kind. I'm guessing that my followers out there in blogland are wondering things about this on my behalf, assuming of course that a) I still have any followers and b) that they are wondering about me at all.

The thing is, I have an excuse and it's something to do with what seems to have been a long summer for our family. Way back just before Easter, my FIL had a stroke. It was a bit of a shock (to say the least), as my MIL only passed away in January and we hadn't really finished getting over that. It was especially tough on my BIL as he lived in the same house as them both and suddenly found himself in the house on his own, dealing with all the paperwork, laundry and such silly things as putting the bins out on time. For us, when it happened, it was deeply unsettling and worrying, but we really didn't know what was to come or really even what had happened.

My FIL is pretty tough; a few years ago, he was rushed in to hospital with heart problems and before we knew it was having a triple heart bypass. The surgery went well, but immediately after being transferred back to the ward, he stopped breathing and ended up being ventilated for some weeks. All in all, with the visit to intensive care, high dependency, an internal bleed in his stomach and exploratory surgery and a dose of C-difficile, he was in hospital for months. It was tough, but he battled though it all and entertained us frequently with all his stories of heroic derring do (of the things he had hallucinated whilst under the influence of morphine after the op), where most often, he was a fireman rescuing children from burning buildings!

I think, after all that, that we almost expected him to pull some miraculous recovery out of the bag after his stroke. To start with, it didn't look likely - he was paralysed all down one side, and could only say yes or no (and even then not in the right places!), but his speech recovered quite quickly and he started to get the use back in his right arm. Physically things have improved, but the type of stroke that he had means that some of his brain tissue has died and even though brains are very clever and can rewrite pathways, sometimes they can't and he's pretty confused much of the time. Mostly he displays all of the symptoms of vascular dementia which is very sad for everyone. It's sad for him, it's sad for his friends and family and the people that visit, to see a man who has lost such grasp on his life.

So, here we are, many months on and now it is clear that my FIL won't be returning home. We are currently trying to find him somewhere nice to live where he can be looked after in a way that any of us would be unable to do.

Forgive me then if blogging is a bit sporadic...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Are there voices in my head?

I turned up the other day to a small gaggle of people, all egging on CUB*1...."Go on", they urged, "Tell her....tell her about the voices...." - and so she did. This is her story...

It was a Wednesday night like any other, apart from the fact that CUB was away with her team and was in a hotel. She was sharing a room with WMW*2 and they were both in bed, having turned the lights off and were warm and cozy and just dropping off to sleep. CUB was tired and sleepy and just dozing off when she heard a rustling sound from somewhere in the room. Puzzled and half asleep, she lifted her head off the pillow and thought she heard a whisper - a whisper that sounded like someone was softly calling her name. She turned to WMW, who seemed oblivious to the noise and so she thought maybe she'd imagined it - she was after all, half asleep and so she started to settle back into bed.

It was then, that she heard her name again...a bit louder this time. She sat up wildly and put the light on. Now she really was freaked. She started throwing questions at WMW - had she heard it?...where was it coming from?...OMG...OMG. She heard her name again and was now pretty frightened. She got up...where was the noise coming from? She made WMW check the phone and she rushed over to the dressing table where she thought the noise was coming from. It seemed to be coming from her glasses case, so she picked it up and looked inside. In her sleepy and befuddled state, logic had completely deserted her...and still, she could hear her voice being called...

It was at that point that she spotted a small hole in the wall and scrambled over to it. The voice changed and suddenly told her to look at the wall and then she really panicked. She thought of peeping Toms, she thought of how she was wearing Disney pyjamas and how she looked without makeup and what had she been wearing when she came out of the shower. She was so frantic that WMW started to get really worried...........and cracked! She wandered over to CUB's bed, lifted the end, and retrieved the walkie talkie that had been hidden there!

Well, CUB was furious and screamed down the walkie talkie - "I'm gonna kill you!!!!!" - without even knowing who was on the other end....all she heard was Click! as the person the other end rapidly flicked the off switch!

Well, who was the culprit? In the end it turned out to be none other than the BMB and our new MIC*3 and WMW had been in on it, having been the one who hid the walkie talkie. How she kept a straight face I will never know!

I am just hoping now that this isn't some kind of new hazing ritual - one where we will all be subjected to something similar in time. I must admit though that I will be checking under my bed for a bit...and I bet CUB will too...!

*1 CUB stands for completely utterly bonkers...which she is!
*2 WMW - Warped man's wife. WM has his own blog.
*3 MIC - Our new Man in Charge

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Priceless? No, not really...

A while ago (a long while ago now, but it's been a long summer*1), we went away with PTV and HLW. It's not the first time we've been away together and I hope it's not the last, because I, for one, had a lovely time, but it's the longest we've been away together. You always do that thing, don't you, where you'll be away for a bit, where you hope it all works out and that you're not at each others throats within three days, but I needn't have worried at all as it turned out. One of the worries with other people is that you won't agree on what to do or what to visit, what to eat or even where to eat and even in this we didn't fall out, even when we fancied a drink stop and HLW picked the closest cafe.

Now, we should have guessed it was expensive from the people we saw exiting, as we stood in line waiting to be seated (by a man in a full suit with bow tie). On his way out was Michael Keaton (at least it looked like him, but in Vegas, who can tell...!), and several very rich looking people accompanied by burly men wearing sunglasses indoors and with suspicious bulges under their armpits, where they might be carrying a perfectly legal, concealed weapon. Of course, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it was beautifully decorated, real birds were swooping around the open windows and it all looked very swank to me...

Eventually, we were seated and looked at the menu. There was a sharp intake of breath as both hubby and PTV looked at the prices and did their best impression of a car mechanic/ electrician/ plumber/ builder before submitting their best estimates for work. HLW and I were captivated by the description of the cakes...a Tuile with strawberry, with ganache and fine patisserie and all sorts of other things which sounded exquisite...with or without ice cream.

I only wanted coffee, but hubby pointed out that coffee at $15 a cup and cocktails at $20 a glass almost cost the same and so, that was how we found ourselves drinking cocktails at 11 o'clock in the morning. The thing is, even though we didn't go in wanting cake, there were all the wonderful descriptions and so we decided to share 2 cakes between us - partly because we only wanted a taste and partly because they were stupidly expensive.

We went for one chocolate option and one strawberry option. PTV and I had the latter and it seems a light sponge with a soft mouse of strawberry topped with real cream ice cream and a spun sugar birds nest (complete with lots of French words I can't remember) looks very posh. The thing is, it was early and we were drinking cocktails - you just knew things were going to get silly and predictably it was PTV who started it. The thing is, our birds nest of sugar was spiky in a prickly way - the kind of prickly way that loft insulation is prickly and some conversation ensued about why there was such a need for such a spiky topping. In the end, I think we decided that it was protection for the cakes from the birds that were flying around and ended up laughing so much that the rest of the very posh clientele all turned around and looked at us.

So, is this story so funny that I had to tell you? No, not really, as it was actually one of those things where you had to be there. Was the expensive cocktail and cake worth it? Well, maybe not in themselves, but for the memories they provided, they were worth every penny and more besides. I guess sometimes it proves that if you do something unexpected, the rewards are unexpected too!

*1 For reasons that I will tell you about at some time...I promise!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Clever car...?

A few years back we went to Arizona and were heading out for the day. There were a few of us and we all piled into an MPV which had been hired for the purpose. As happens so often when anyone is going out, there was the inevitable load of questions before we could go. These questions seem to vary depending on whether you are on holiday or at home, but there's always some mix of the following:

Home (on leaving)
~~Have you turned the gas off?
~~Have you locked the door?*1
~~Have you got your keys/ glasses/ walking stick/ teeth/ coat/ umbrella/ insert as appropriate?
Home (on leaving with children)
~~Have you been to the toilet?
~~Have you got your mobile/ iPod/ DS/ PSP?
(If visiting grandma)
~~Have you combed your hair?
~~Are you wearing the jumper you were given for Christmas?
(If going on a date)
~~Have you brushed your teeth?
~~Have you got 'something for the weekend?'
(On holiday)
~~Have you got your camera?
~~Did you shut the room door?
~~Have you got/ handed in the keycard?
~~Have you got the map?

Well, you get the picture... we fired all these questions at the driver (as well of asking, of course, "Are we were there yet?"!). Something tweaked a nerve and the driver felt compelled to go back in to check and left us all in the vehicle. You know how it is...we were in a foreign country, in a new hire car we hadn't seen before with all sorts of interesting knobs and buttons that we didn't know the function of. We were bored, waiting for the driver, and since they'd taken the keys (no doubt suspecting that we might go careering round the car park on two wheels) we pressed all the buttons, trying to see what would work without keys.

Well, we were in luck, we found the radio and we thought it was pretty cool that under the radio was a little display that seemed to give you information about the car. "Open Door" it said - so we did. We then shut the door only to see that the display read the same. We tugged on all the doors - they all seemed to be shut. We opened them all and then shut them all again - it said the same! We got out and checked the boot (trunk), got back in, opened all the doors, shut all the doors, opened each door in turn, shut each one; opened them and slammed them really really hard - the display didn't change and we figured that we had somehow managed (in all the button pressing) to have broken the vehicle (or the doors at least). We started to panic since our driver was going to get back any minute and we thought we'd be in trouble...what to do....what to do?

It was at this point, that the next record was played on the radio and suddenly the offending display changed - it now read "She Loves You" and we realised that this was some new fangled radio that none of us had seen before - one that cleverly tells you what track is playing! Doh!

Well, in our defence, none of us had ever heard of Open Door - what would you have done?!

*1 I once failed to ask hubby this, only to find out when we returned (6 hours later) that the front door was wide open and had been all day!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

What a clever postie...

We have a really nice postie - his name is Nigel (yes, just for once I am using someone's real name!) and he is about 40 (or possibly a bit older - it's hard to tell and I've never asked him!). He has red hair too - not ginger, not auburn, but red - the kind of bright pillar box red *1 that comes out of a paint box (or more likely, a box of hair dye) and ... wait for it.... he has a Mohican!

Now I am sure that you all think that I am making all this up, but believe me, my imagination just isn't that good. Nigel is real, he's lovely, helpful and friendly and as our 'regular' postie, he knows just where to leave parcels when we are out and always leaves a note to say he has done so.

It was no surprise to me then to come home the other day to find a note from Nigel pushed through the door saying that he had left me a parcel round the..... *2 . I went and collected it (as you do). I was surprised to see that it was something I had ordered, but since it hadn't been delivered in time, had already been replaced by the company I'd ordered it from. I was even more surprised to see a Post Office sticker on it stating that it had an 'incomplete address' - hence the non-delivery I guess in the first place. So, I peered closely at the little box to see what was wrong and this is what I saw:

The first 2 letters of my christian name followed by half of the 3rd letter.
The next letters were missing.
The last 2 letters of my first name were there (well, sort of).
My surname was missing completely.
The address line just read:
d (I think the 'd' is the last letter of Road)
The first part of the postcode was intact so I guess they were able to tell the town and area well enough.
The second part of the postcode read:

Ok, so here we have a fairly intact postcode that will give the rough area of a town, a 'd' indicating that it's a road (not an avenue or close) and 4 letters out of an 11 letter Christian name. Oh, yes, and it was actually my parcel too - not just something random that had turned up by accident!

So, forgive me for mentioning a real person by name for once on my blog - as I think our postie is amazing and you should all know!

*1 *Very* appropriate given his occupation
*2 Well, you didn't really think I would broadcast to the world where our parcels are left, did you?

Friday, July 01, 2011

Just how do you get tomato soup out of a speaker?

I was sat at dinner this evening with SBB (secret bad boy) and ETS (I can't tell you what that stands for or I'd have to kill you!) and we were finding out more about each other. Anyway, we were talking about 'stuff in our lives' (including ETS's alleged alter ego) and I turned to the person next to me and asked him if he'd tell me a secret from his childhood.

Curiously, he said "Sure!" (how many people would do that?), and started with the tame stuff, telling us a story of when he turned the taps on and flooded the conservatory, before he moved on to juicier stuff that he had tried not to own up to and wanted to keep secret... Incidentally, although his mother claims he did it deliberately, he was only 3 at the tap-turning-on occurrence so I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt for that one...after all, I'm thinking that maybe at that age, secrecy isn't something you have a strong grasp of.

Anyway, apparently, when he was a bit older, he told us that he put a golf club through the window - also in the conservatory. He didn't say if he was still confined there as punishment for the tap issue or if he lived in the conservatory, but for sure, it's featured heavily in his early life. Actually (as a bit of an aside), I don't think he's much of a stone thrower, so I'm wondering if he did spend a  lot of time in there... was around this point, he paused in his storytelling and looked rather pensive. I had two choices...push him into the really juicy story, or let him be...I was very good...and did neither, but waited for someone else to push him gently into the real dirt...and dirt it turned out to be...

He drew a deep breath and asked - "Do you know how far tomato soup goes when it explodes?"

It seems, that the kitchen was being refitted and so a makeshift kitchen was set up in the living room - the fridge was there, freezer and microwave and food - everything you need. So, SBB decided he fancied tomato soup for tea. For some reason known only to himself, he decided that the microwave was not a suitable piece of equipment for reheating soup (I think this is a man thing, as hubby wouldn't use a microwave for that either), and so, as you do, decided to use his camping stove. My first thought was that camping stoves and living rooms don't really go hand in hand, but my fears about curtains and naked flames were completely unfounded as it turned out. It seems SBB put the soup into a pyrex dish and put it on the camping stove (I hear the sound of a sharp intake of female breath at this); it started to heat up nicely and was almost at the perfect temperature when...


...the pyrex dish exploded!

The soup exploded outwards from the dish - onto the walls and the ceiling...and the curtains and the carpet...and onto the TV, the video cabinet and the stereo...and inside the stereo speakers, down the side of the sofa etc etc.

Now, I don't know what you'd be thinking at that point, but I guess it might revolve around the mess and how you were going to clean it up - but what did he say? He said "There I was, wondering how I was going to get out of that one....!" He really is a SBB, isn't he?

For EO’s MY

So, while I’m away MY*1tells me that he reads this blog – which surprised me a bit ‘cos I thought most people had given up on it a long time ago and I was just spouting drivel for:
  1. my benefit and
  2. the amusement of poor foreign people who pick up some obscure link and find themselves on another planet altogether.

Anyway, MY tells me that he not only reads the blog, but also enjoys it (strange man!) although gets a bit lost from time to time with all the acronyms so I thought I’d do an post and hope to catch you all up with my amazingly diverse friends who have such wunnerful nicknames. *2. Anyway, here goes:

  • Hubby – start with the easy one. My husband of course…
  • PTV - This guy. Hubby’s best friend of years ago and now a good friend and e-mail confidant to me too…
  • HLW - His lovely wife (PTV’s that is)
  • BMB - My best male buddy
  • BUF – The best useful friend. She called herself this so don’t blame me. She is one of my dearest and closest friends in the whole wide world.
  • VNSO - Very nice significant other (belongs to the BUF and is a good friend in his own right). He is also known as my dancing partner.
  • EO - Eeyore’s owner – obviously not Christopher Robin(!) but her Eeyore has been all over the world…
  • E2O - Same person as above, but her new name after she got another Eeyore for her birthday!
  • A & T - This referred to my best friend A and her hubby T but sadly I lost A in January 2008 to pancreatic cancer. T is still in regular contact with us.
  • SPF - Sports psychologist friend (yep she does and yep she is…)
  • BML - Bureaucratic monster lady (otherwise known as the administrator in the hospital who makes all the appointments)
  • M - female of the rodent variety ='.'=~~~~ Also a soon to be famous author*3
  • FIL - father in law
  • MIL - mother in law (spot the theme here?)
  • BIL - brother in law (I guess you can see where this is going, can’t you?)
  • SIL - sister in law
  • Ly – lovely lady over the pond who bakes cake and had the same op as me. She had a blog.
  • B Brandi, another lovely lady over the pond who had the same op as me.
  • P@NGD - The guy at the garage who fixes my car and doesn’t rip me off
  • Grace - one of my cats – not her real name, but she is graceful…
  • Bugalugs aka Clumsy – Grace’s brother
  • ND - New dad, one of our friends.
  • NDW - New dad's wife (and unsurprisingly mother of his children)
  • DG - Disaster girl - one of the most interesting drivers I know.
  • FNG - Friday night guy. Not surprisingly, a friend who comes round every Friday night.
  • MY - Master Yoda, leader of the Horde and close friend of E2O
  • PMB - my brother
  • JTG - Joe the Gym - the guy in my gym who tortures me...
  • MIB - Mad Irish Bird - one of the group....
  • DP - daft pensioner
  • CWP - Canadian with pipe
  • SBB - Secret Bad Boy
  • ETS - Sorry - can't tell you as then I'd have to kill you...

So, I hope I’ve remembered them all, if there are any more, that you haven’t figured out, (or want me to start using), then let me know.

*1>* Master Yoda
*2I shall put a link to this post too on the side bar so if you ever get confused again…..

Friday, June 10, 2011

29 Ways to a Meme

OK, I admit it, I stole this from Paperback Writer , but I kind of liked it, so here are 29 ways to be creative....

1. Make lists.
2. Carry a notebook everywhere.
3. Try free writing.
4. Get away from the computer.
5. Quit beating yourself up.
6. Take breaks.
7. Sing in the shower.
8. Drink coffee.
9. Listen to new music.
10.Be open.
11. Surround yourself with creative people.
12.Get feedback.
14.Don't give up.
15.Practice, practice, practice.
16.Allow yourself to make mistakes.
17.Go somewhere new.
18.Count your blessings.
19.Get lots of rest.
20.Take risks.
21.Break the rules.
22.Don't force it.
23.Read a page of the dictionary.
24.Create a framework.
25.Stop trying to be someone else's perfect.
26.Got an idea? Write it down.
27.Clean your workspace.
28.Have fun.
29.Finish something.

Paperback writer says that Facebook and Twitter kind of killed the meme, but also suggests that if you're looking for something to blog about, copy the list, bold the items on the list that you're already doing, cross off the ones that don't work for you, and star the ones you'd like to try. Here's my meme version of the list - which I've added some comments to (in italics) ...for both your and my amusement:

1. Make lists. (...and oh boy do I do lists...!)
2. Carry a notebook everywhere. (How else am I going to write all those lists?)
3. Try free writing. (Only because I don't know what it means...)
4. Get away from the computer.*
(Actually, I'm not so sure about trying this...I love my computer really)
5. Quit beating yourself up. *(I'd truly love to be good at this)
6. Take breaks.*(and this)
7. Sing in the shower. (but only if there's no one around to hear!)
8. Drink coffee. ( the bucket...)
9. Listen to new music.
(I love to do this - it's how I discovered Green Day, Nickelback, 3
Doors Down, Shinedown, Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse & Beethoven)

10.Be open. * (Isn't this a depends who with question?)
11. Surround yourself with creative people. (Gosh - you'd have to ask them...)
12.Get feedback. (Although if it's the BMB I don't always welcome it -Lol!)
13.Collaborate. (Hubby & the BMB probably see the best of me in this...)
14.Don't give up. (Just about everyone sees this in me...)
15.Practice, practice, practice. (...and this...)
16.Allow yourself to make mistakes. * (Jeez, I'm useless at this...and I know it!)
17.Go somewhere new. (I always like to do this)
18.Count your blessings. (I like to do this too!)
19.Get lots of rest.* (However hard I try, life conspires against me....)
20.Take risks.
(Just find this too scary financially - otherwise, well you tell me if I do...? I
mean, I haven't been on a big roller coaster since I had my back fused...)

21.Break the rules. (Well, I did when I was young....!)
22.Don't force it.
(This doesn't really apply, I only blog when I want to - I don't have a target timescale after all)
23.Read a page of the dictionary.
(Not done this for inspiration, just because I don't understand....)
24.Create a framework. (Well, it's just another kind of list, isn't it?)
25.Stop trying to be someone else's perfect.
(is that perfect or prefect? That's back to breaking the rules, I never was a good enough kid to be a prefect!)
26.Got an idea? Write it down. (Well, it's just another kind of list, isn't it?)
27.Clean your workspace.* (It's on my list...)
28.Have fun. (You only have to read my blog...)!
29.Finish something. (This!)

Although this meme is obviously aimed at writers, I feel that it could equally apply to lots of
things in life. Some of them I'm relating to my blogging, others to, well, other things in my
life. I'm sure that those of you who know me well will smile wryly at some of them, laugh at
others and hopefully just go Oh! at some of the rest. Please enjoy and feel free to
steal....just like I did !

Monday, May 16, 2011


As promised in this blog post , here is my USOPA (Universal Scale of Pain & Agony). I can't be having with this idea that they use in hospital - please rate your pain on a scale of 1-3 where 1 is pain free and 3 is screaming agony - in whole numbers only please! So, this is what I think they should do....when you go into hospital, they should give you a little table or chart which has a listing from 1-10 and it should read something like this:

  1. I am fine. In fact, I shouldn't even be in hospital as there is clearly nothing at all wrong with me. In fact, I am so well, that you clearly shouldn't even need to ask me how I am as I look the very picture of health!
  2.  I am fine thank you but I do have a little bit of a pain when I poke it here - I am instantly cured by not poking it.
  3. Now this clearly is some kind of an ache. It hurts even when I don't poke it and I'm sore if I try and twist or turn it. It is pretty much cured by avoiding twisting and turning.
  4. OK, I admit it, this is pain. It's not awful, but I think I ought to take some kind of over the counter medication. I'm sure that will make me feel well enough to be able to carry on doing whatever I want.
  5. OK, so maybe the over the counter stuff didn't really do the trick, or maybe it was the fact that I tried to carry on doing whatever I wanted without taking a break. I am officially 'a bit achey'.
  6. I am starting to get a bit grumpy now. My thoughts are turning to slightly stronger drugs. I don't want to move but I am stubborn enough to keep going anyway. 
  7. This is definitely 'sore'. I'm squirming when I sit stand or lie down just to try and find a comfy position. I am dreaming of my heat pack.
  8. Right, I'm getting fed up with this now. Aren't these tablets supposed to be doing something? I am having fond memories of PCA pumps and wondering if I can mug any person in the local hospital in order to steal theirs. 
  9. I wonder just how much pain the human body can take before you thump someone out of sheer frustration - even if it would probably really hurt to do so.
  10. I think I might actually be dying here....
  11. Really I mean it, I really do think I am dying...

Of course, I accept with the higher numbers you may need to just point since your strangled cries might easily be misinterpreted.

Now, doesn't that make more sense that 1-3??

Saturday, April 30, 2011

BADD2011 Blogging Against Disablism Day

So, BADD has been going for long enough now that I feel vaguely guilty that I have never contributed and this is for 2 reasons:
A) I have a disability and
B) I have a blog

The thing is, do either of these things actually qualify me to speak 'for the disabled' - in fact, on that subject, who are 'the disabled'? Are these disabled people we are talking about, individuals, with hopes and dreams and likes and dislikes, or are the disabled some kind of sub-group of society who are all somehow rather alike - joined at the hip by a shared set of values and needs? Well, let me give you a couple of examples from my day today....

First thing that happened was that I saw a friend. He has spina bifida but you might not realise it to look at him - sure he has a bit of a limp, but it's so mild that you might out it down to poor posture. He is a great guy, loves Iron Maiden and has the maddest hair I know. Despite his disability, he helped me unload my car, which was very sweet and earned him a cwtch. Within a few minutes I was grabbed by a lovely lady I know who is deaf - she is mad keen on cars and has just had her (long) hair cut short - we spoke about her new hair and new job - her hair isn't mad in the slightest and I don't think she goes for Iron Maiden at all. After talking to a few able bodied people, I talked to someone temporarily disabled by a torn leg muscle - she was using a stick and was having to sit down a lot - we compared notes on painkillers and talked about dogs (which neither of us own) before I started chatting at lunchtime, about gardening, with a full time wheelchair user. I saw a lady I know a little and said hi - she has tunnel vision and is registered blind - I don't know a lot about her, but I am guessing she's not an Iron Maiden fan either!

So, we have different likes and dislikes and are affected by different disabilities too, disabilities which make us full time chair users, stick users, hearing aid users and guide dog owners. Its true that our common thread is that we all have a disability - we are all people with disabilities. The only thing I know that links us apart from that blanket description is that we all have good and bad days. Now I can hear you all saying that everyone has good and bad days and of course, that's true, but imagine that being completely able bodied and fit and beautiful, sexy and intelligent is 100% (nope I don't know anyone like that either!) - anyway, try and imagine it...So, if you are fit and able bodied you operate at 100% - maybe if you have a bad day, you're suddenly operating at just 80% - so not great. OK - let's take my disabled friend with the spina bifida - he's probably only 80% to start with - if he has a bad day, he drops down to 60%, which is only a bit more than halfway to great - and that doesn't sound great at all. The thing is, he's a top bloke - he helped me unload my car after all - and he doesn't complain, so he's suddenly down to 60% and he hasn't said a word about how tough that can be. So, that's what I think 'the disabled' have in common, they start on the running track with their blocks set behind everyone else's, to start the race of life. It's what is often missed by people who assume that a hearing aid or a wheelchair levels the playing field when in fact it doesn't - it doesn't make up for the 20% (or more) that you're missing - it just makes it a bit easier to catch up than it would be without it.

I hope all of this makes sense and doesn't just sound like mad ramblings. It's late after all, and I hit my 60% some hours ago...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spiny Norman

We have a hedgehog! Actually, I don't know if that's true as I am not sure if having a hedgehog visit your garden actually counts towards your ownership of it. A while back we had two hedgehogs who came in and shuffled around the base of the pond, where it's damp and full of slugs, and then disappeared again. At the time I couldn't figure out where they came from as we have quite an enclosed garden...that was until the day I came home to find one of them run over in the road outside. I guessed then that they had come from the park opposite and were just nocturnal visitors, out on a bit of a jolly - until the sad day when it all went horribly wrong for them and a tragic accident (leading to the running over of hedgehog number 1) ended their nighttime frolics. That was the end of the hedgehog visitors...or so we thought...

A week or so ago we were out in the kitchen and the security light went on out the back of the house - we looked out and there was a hedgehog, running round and round in circles, on our lawn. Why the running round in circles I don't know, it may be a hunting thing I guess, but I wondered if it was hedgehog Number 2, still distraught at the loss of hedgehog 1, still running round frantically, either trying to find it's mate, or just squeaking and wailing in grief.

That hedgehog came back the next night, and the next, and the next. He came back so frequently, running round in circles and setting off the security light every 5 minutes (and I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to my neighbours on the hedgehog's behalf) that hubby started calling him Norman - after Spiny Norman don't you know! Anyway, it's funny the way your brain works sometimes (it's even funnier the way my brain works!) and somehow, I started wondering about Norman...

I was already wondering about the running around (and possible squeaking) but then I got to thinking about where Norman lives. I mean, back when they were hedgehog 1 & 2, they lived in the park, so I'm guessing Norman doesn't actually live with us, he just visits. But, and here's the mystery, how does he get into our garden at all? We have gated side access, so no entry there and we live on a hill, with walls either side of the garden. Unless Norman is about to win prizes for high jumping (can hedgehogs jump?) he's not getting over next door's fence (it's 6ft high!) or over the wall on the downhill side as the height of the wall + the change in level is definitely too much. Hubby suggested the only way he could do it, would be to jump down from the uphill side as the wall is at ground level for them and about a 3ft drop into our garden - that's definitely do-able. The thing is, he then needs to get into next door's garden so that he can do the drop down thing - and they have gated side access too. They are the end of a terrace so next door to them has no side access at all - and of course they are still on the hill, with the uphill/downhill problem thing and the same wall issue....

We thought this through....for some time. The conclusion is this - Norman is plainly very energetic. He leaves his home in the park, heads uphill for the end house, goes around the side of their house, under the gate with the convenient gap under the bottom, runs round in circles on the lawn (squeaking?), jumps down from the wall into the next garden, runs round in circles on the lawn (squeaking?), jumps down from the wall into the next garden, runs round in circles on the lawn (squeaking?), does this for 6 houses until he reaches our house where he does the same, with the added excitement of setting off the security light, then carries on down the hill, alternately jumping running and squeaking through another 10 gardens until he gets to the bottom of the hill, where he heads out of their rear access, into the lane, pops round the corner, up the pavement, across the road and back to bed for the day, too exhausted for anything else!

Of course, all this could be idle speculation and maybe Norman isn't energetic at all and just lives in the bushes at the side of our garden...what do you think?

Friday, April 08, 2011

On pain...

Every so often I write a blog entry on pain or at least I think about doing so. I guess it's not surprising, since pain is a part of my life, not a pleasant part, not a good part *1, just a part and it's a part that I just have to get on with. Ironically, it's the 'just getting on with it' that makes it difficult for others to really see or appreciate. My normal response to "How are you?" is (as cheerily as I can manage) is "I'm fine!" Probably not the most helpful answer for hubby who is trying to judge how up for anything I am, but it's really the only answer I know how to give. I see the alternative as providing the listener with a list of my woes, which bits hurt worse today over what and just how many drugs have you taken today?!

That's one of the things that people don't see - the drugs...those wonderful little pills that keep me going day after day after day. There are the orange ones that keep the nerve pain*2 in my leg under control and then there's the codeine based stuff without which I don't know what I would do to manage. On top of that there's all the other stuff, the heat packs, the special comfy chair and, of course, the regular physiotherapy and treatment. People don't see this behind the veneer of 'I'm fine!', but nor do I really want them to. I want them to see me as a strong capable and independent person and I don't want the almost inevitable sympathy that comes with 'Oh, it really hurts...'

Anyway, I am sure you are all wondering why I decided to write this today if I've been 'meaning to do it for ages'. Well, as in all things, something triggers you to do so and in my case it was a conversation with someone recently who was telling me what a high pain threshold they had, but a recent condition had left them in agony. They had never had a painful condition before and I couldn't understand how they could determine their level of 'pain threshold' without having a standard of comparison. I also felt that they were trying to compare our levels of pain, like schoolchildren saying that 'my dad's bigger than yours!'...'my pain's worse than yours'...By contrast, I was talking to MIB who I know struggles silently in much the way I do - both of us straying away from 'Fine' occasionally to say 'I'm just a bit sore today', or 'little bit achy, you know...'

There ought to be a universal scale of pain, didn't there, like the Beaufort Scale for wind. The only problem there is that the Beaufort Scale was designed to be used without any instrument recordings, so I guess it's all a matter of opinion then...which is all that pain is. It's a strange thing really - I can't tell you if I hurt more than you, because I can only feel my pain, I can't feel yours and, funnily enough, you can't feel mine*3! The idea that there is a 'threshold' at all, seems an odd thing to say in circumstances where there is no way of directly comparing anything. Anyway, as I said before, it's all very strange, but I do think something needs to be done. I remember when I was in hospital, the nurses kept coming round and asking me how my pain was on a scale of 1 to 3 - with 1 being no pain, and 3 being agony - I kept saying things like, "Um, 2 and a quarter?", which was really not much help to them. I just don't think 3 levels is enough somehow grin

I think this should be left with me...I'll give it some thought and come up with my very own USOPA...*4...just watch this space...

*1 I don't have those kinds of tendencies!
*2 So much for being airily reassured after my surgery that that would disappear after 6 months, oops sorry we meant a year, ah, it could be two nauseum...
*3 Ooops, that came out bitchier than intended... wink

*4 - Universal Scale of Pain & Agony

Monday, March 21, 2011

Good doggy, clever doggy

I was talking to someone I know recently (SL *1) and she told me a story that I just had to share. I quizzed her too about how real it was, I didn't want this to be a story that someone told someone that told someone and turned out to be something that anyone could disprove with a simple Snopes search! Anyway, she assured me it was real and I can't find it on Snopes, so let's just go with it.

SL works with a lot of athletes and one of the people she knows is a marathon runner. The marathon runner (BMR*2) is a blind man which although not common, is more common than you might think. Let's face it, you only need to watch any Paralympic athletics event to realise that there are events for all kinds of distances for blind runners. I must admit, I always feel sorry for their partners (they have a partner who guides them) - I mean, the partner always has to cross the line second and I'm sure I'd find that really frustrating. Can you imagine me (assuming I could run at all) seeing the line and putting a sprint on in order to beat my own partner...only to realise I'd just disqualified us both...oops!

Anyway BMR went into town with his guide dog to buy a new pair of shorts for running. He went into the shop and found a really good assistant who found him the shorts, described the colour and pattern to him and he had a good feel to see if they were what he wanted - something loose and silky to keep him cool. He decided to buy them, reached into his pocket and discovered that he had forgotten his wallet and so arranged to leave the shorts there with the assistant (so that she could keep them behind the counter) until the following day when he could get back into town.

The next day he and the dog were back. They went into the shop and he found an assistant (not the same one). He explained that he was collecting the shorts and the girl said she would check behind the counter. She did but they weren't there. She asked the other assistants but they knew nothing about it either. She asked the manager - no luck there too and so Jane (name changed to protect the innocent) was blamed as she had been on duty the day before, but wasn't there on this day. The girls then tried to find which shorts he wanted (bearing in mind of course the fact that being blind, he had never seen them).

"They're blue", he said, "Blue, short and silky" - "Blue?", they questioned. "Are you sure? I don't know if we have any blue ones in our silky models." He assured them that he had been told they were blue. They were mystified. He went on to try and pin them down further "They are very soft and satiny...ideal for keeping you need that you know when you are running..." "Running?" they asked... "Yes, running", he said, "I'm a marathon runner". They huddled together and started whispering and he couldn't quite make out what they were saying. Eventually they came back to him. "Um..., we think you may be in the wrong shop". "Wrong shop? But this is where my dog brought me yesterday and he's really good about these things..." "Well, maybe he's having an off see, this is Ann Summers, the sports shop is next door...!"

*1 Ski Lady
*2Blind marathon runner

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Five years fixed...

An anniversary just passed me swam by me while I was getting on with life and even when PTV wished me a happy anniversary, it didn't quite impact on me. It's only now, 20 days later that it somehow hit me.

I think today had something to do with it. Today, I went to give a talk to the Women's Guild - a talk entitled "Nothing is Impossible". Now many of the ladies there were elderly, several of them were, apparently, deaf and some of them looked like they'd be unlikely to last the hour. In fact, the lady who booked me was so vague about the location of the hall (it was, she said, at the bottom of the know the one, well, it's there) that I was concerned about the possibility of her being senile. Considering that the talk was in a town I rarely visit, telling me that it was at the bottom of a hill that she didn't know the name of, in the church hall, she didn't know the name of, was not exactly, well ... precise and when I spoke to her husband (yes really!) he wasn't a lot better! Anyway, I digress (as per usual) - I was really going to mention the talk...and the anniversary...and why they are linked.

I got to the hall (still don't know the name of it) and by dint of trying every door on the street that looked like they might go into a church hall (the first two were locked!) I found it with (almost) no trouble and with ten minutes to spare. I did the talk, none of the ladies fell asleep (amazing - maybe I did something right?) and they laughed in all the right places. At the end, I was surrounded by a little gaggle of women, all wanting to say something or to pat me on the arm and one of them even pinched my cheek in a grandmotherly way (or possibly a great-grandmotherly way). I was a hit!

The thing is (and this is where the anniversary comes in), in my talk, I spoke about my scoliosis surgery. I also spoke about my spina bifida and a whole heap of other stuff, but it suddenly hit me what PTV was saying...good golly gosh and all that, but it's 5 years since my back was stuffed full of metal - that's FIVE YEARS!!! Blimey...

After five years, I have a failed bone graft at the top of my fusion and I have days (like last weekend) where I get seriously grumpy with the amount of pain I still get. On the other hand, as I told the ladies today, I am so straight compared to the way I was, I can breathe evenly and strongly and my stomach is no longer squashed up under my diaphragm. Yes, I'm awaiting more surgery and yes, I use my wheelchair more these days, but all in all I don't regret having my surgery for an instant. There I was today, showing those little old ladies my x-rays and how my curve was progressing over those last two years before my surgery and I realised just how lucky I have been in my life. I've been lucky to have a great surgeon and supportive friends and family and a (more or less) straight body.

Happy 5 year anniversary me...I think I'll go and buy myself a tree...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Whoa we're going to Las Vegas!

Now we were going to Las Vegas with PTV & HLW and we got to check in where the lady was very nice.

"You'll be wanting extra leg room" she said, looking at me. Now I thought that was odd for two reasons:

A) I am very short - less than 5ft tall in fact and
B) I was sat in my chair anyway, so I have no idea how she could tell.

Anyway, I nodded and agreed that I did indeed need extra legroom, since I thought that PTV and hubby would both lynch me if I didn't agree to it!

We got on the plane and there we were, in that very first row with the bulkhead in front of you. They are the seats with the cute little pull up TV screens that get caught behind your legs and the tables in the arm of your chair. You know the ones - they always catch in your sleeve on the way out, or you break a nail trying to get them out or something. Still, it's all exciting stuff, cos there aren't many seats like it on the plane and you get various different gadgety things to play with and try to break.

One of the unusual things is the sort of flap down area in front of you and when they brought the drinks around, HLW tried to flap it down to use it as a table. She was discouraged from doing so by the steward type person (they have special names these days don't they - so trolley dolly won't do?) - "Oh no madam, that's not a table" they said before moving on the next person.

HLW turned to me - "Well, what is it?" - I started to try and explain it was something to do with small children and completely failed to remember the official name for it that (it's a carry cot support I remembered too late). I said that you put small children on it and then - having a bit of a silly moment - suggested that you then folded it back up into place until you reached your destination.

"That's right", interjected hubby helpfully, "it's a panini machine for babies!". HLW looked at him, with a vaguely shocked expression....for all of about 2 seconds! Trouble is, I'm never going to be able to remember the correct name for it ever again. I just know that somehow I'm always going to think of it as a baby panini machine....

Thursday, February 03, 2011

That's two lessons...

A little while ago, I bought some shampoo - a fact that I am sure you are all really interested in! Seriously, I bought this shampoo, used it once or twice, decided that my hair did not bounce or swish *1 but instead left it looking pretty dull and lifeless *2 and left in in the bathroom for the bottle to go dusty. Have you ever noticed that? It normally happens with the smellies that Aunty Thingy gave you for Christmas - you leave them in the packet for ages, thinking that Lavender, Honey & Lilac is not quite your thing - and eventually (usually when the packet is really dusty), you run out of whatever it is you normally use, rip open the pack in desperation (sneezing from the dust in the process), pour it in your bath, wrinkle your nose from the smell (thank goodness you can't smell too much from all that sneezing!) and then make sure you top up on your favourite next time you go shopping. Poor Aunty Thingy's bottle sits on the side of the bath, unloved and unwanted and just gets grubbier and dustier as the years go by...until maybe you move house, or in my case, until my mother comes to visit and I rush around the house trying to clean everything in a frenzy!

So, my mother was coming and I found the dusty shampoo bottle. I grabbed it with determination and took it downstairs while trying to decide what to do with it. I wondered, is it wasteful to pour it down the sink? - at least that way I can recycle the bottle - and so the decision was made! I poured the whole bottle down the sink. Actually, I poured it into the sink because the washing up bowl was in the way, but you get the idea. I then ran the tap (bet you're all riveted by this story huh?) and sloshed the foamy stuff round a bit. I then looked at my was absolutely gleaming. All that money on kitchen cleansers and my sink never came up that shiny...if I'd have thought it would be that good, I would used it a bit more sparingly!

Ah well, at least I learned two useful things:

1. Shampoo makes great sink cleaner
2. Never pour the whole bottle of something away before testing it on an inconspicuous surface of something first - you never know what will happen!

*1 It's actually unlikely to do this anyway, since I have such short hair, but it is what all the adverts claim!
*2 As I understand it, exactly what shampoo is not supposed to do.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sad news

I know its been ages since I posted, but January is a bit like that anyway, when people start back to doing things after Christmas, but we have had more than that to worry about.

Our Christmas was a little different, as the MIL had been pretty poorly and had to cancel at the last minute so we had my family over on Christmas day and just the BIL and partner on Boxing Day. It was nice and I have a great photo of the BIL peering inside an Addict-A puzzle ball and using a torch to see what to do next. It was one of those quiet, but Nice (with a capital N) Christmases.

I think at that stage none of us realised what was to come so soon after, although I guess some of the signs were there...

My MIL was diagnosed with breast cancer early last year - they treated it with tablets and TBH, it didn't change physically too much from first diagnosis. I think my MIL always saw it a little like a time bomb and feared that her days were numbered, but she carried on with life in much the way she always had. Later in the year, she had some (unrelated) problems with breathing and that affected her dramatically - even talking on the phone was a struggle and it was the reason that she hadn't been able to come Boxing Day. The doctors were looking into it, she had hospital appointments to go to and they were trying different medication. Through it all, she quietly struggled and my FIL and BIL did everything they could to make life easier for her. She carried on, being there for us all, a central point who everyone moved around - albeit at varying distances.

I guess my news for not writing, is that my MIL, the quiet lady in the corner, died last week. It was all very sudden - taken in to hospital with a chest infection one day and expected to be out in a few days, to dying of pneumonia the following day. We were there with her and just before the end, she opened her eyes and saw hubby (her eldest son) and looked so surprised to see him. She closed her eyes again and passed in just a few minutes. In common with so many other people, it seems that my MIL was just waiting until she had her family with her.

I know that I will miss her. Its not that we spent lots of time together, or talked for hours on the phone; we didn't even really have that much in common apart from hubby, but she was lovely. She was kind and nice and generous and lovely and kind and nice. Yes, I know I am repeating myself, but these were her qualities and I don't know if anyone could ever say anything bad about her - I just don't think she had a bad fibre in her body - she was NICE in the real, old-fashioned sense on the word and I think she deserves to have all capital letters!

Will be greatly missed by all her family and friends.