Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Meantime, Down in the Deep Dark Dell…..



With all the rain of the last few weeks - and more today - there’s been plenty of growth in the lawn.  I think ours is a ‘field grass’ lawn, with a few bits of better class turf which have been bought in along the way to bolster the gardener’s morale.  What we actually need is a robust, low-growth, sturdy, fine-leafed, dog-pee-proof, maintenance-free, hen-proof type of grass which grows extremely slowly…….  Any suggestions?

Having pulverized said grass into submission with the mower I now find I need to crash on the sofa for 6 hours. … well, for 30 mins minimum.  Just taking the dog out has a similar effect. This fatigue and lethargy may relate to the recent finding of raised blood pressure, which will be addressed with doc tomorrow morning.  That Easter Wipeout Virus may be involved, as a persisting erratic cough has been surfacing intermittently since then.  And the recent growing realization that the HRT was probably a significant factor re headaches, low morale, increasing irritability, poor quality sleep, joint pains and recurring hot flushes instigated a stop……. some relief for 5 days, but then the sleep and flushes got even worse, so back to the formula of several months ago which made a HUGE difference – for about 2 weeks…………. Oh, to have been born male………

I guess this current ‘deep, dark, dell’ holds a few insights as well as multiple chewy beanstalks for the old cow ….(reference to my Latin teacher’s attempt many moons ago to remind her pupils of the vocal stresses considered necessary when reading pentameter verses out loud….. visit ‘ChickPea Risotto’ to read the rhyme)………

As a teenager I lived for several years in deeply distressing gloomy despondency.  My teenage friends didn’t seem to relate to this at all, so it was mostly held within.  I confided a little in my parish priest, a kind and wise gentleman (with a wife and 3 daughters) who did his utmost to guide, support and encourage my spiritual journey and development through those troublous times. 
As my family didn’t even begin to acknowledge or communicate about ‘internal stuff’ I don’t suppose they had much of a clue, really – I was just their moody Youngest who wouldn’t ‘snap out of it’ (….like there was a choice, eh?)
For me, it was just how/where Life Was.  It never occurred to me that there might be a REASON for it – like the hormonal shifts / imbalances which assail some at puberty.  I hope that today’s parents, priests, GPs and youngsters are better informed.  But I now realize that the Dark Places I have been bogged down in for these last many weeks of Great Grief seem to have a very similar terrain to those swamps encountered in teenage years.  Hormonal Gymnastics seems very likely to be a related, and maybe the causal, factor.

Insights like these don’t feel like a lot of help, however.  GP or Specialist just says, “stay with these tablets a bit longer and see if it all settles down”, or, “well, I have just the answer to the sleeping problem – take these”……. so the joint pains return, irritability sneaks in below the radar and escalates into epic proportions before muggins notices Something Is Amiss.   

Fortunately I have generous friends who accept me as I am.  Such kindness is a gift more precious than anything, and such Friendship is awesome………

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Depths of Doldrum Duvet.......

ChickPea is wandering around in the Doldrums and has lost her map at the moment. Somewhat bogged down and struggling to find a way forward thru tangled briars, bindweed and stinging nettles…..

It is a well known fact of Life that unresolved anger can hide quietly in the internal dustbin until a new, maybe exceedingly trivial annoyance, lifts the lid and allows the whole shebang to explode with a response completely out of proportion to the triggering incident.  I grew up with a Much Loved who held such anger, and it is not an easy one to live alongside.

But I don’t think I had realized that Disappointments and Sadnesses can have a similar cumulative effect. 

Disappointments and Sadnesses can appear to have been fully  accepted, dispersed and assimilated into your Life’s Rich Tapestry……… but nonetheless there can be a heap of accumulating disappointments getting bigger when you’re not looking – you’re just doing your best to get on with survival and putting one foot in front of the other. …..

And THEN there’s the possibility that such a heap will reach a point where it just topples over and overwhelms you…….

Horrid “illness” bugs, working too many hours in the week, childlessness, bereavements, lost jobs, missed opportunities, public ‘fluffs’ in rare solo singing opportunities,  friendships that have foundered – or seem to be foundering, personal potential that hasn’t found a way of nurture or development …….. generally accumulated clutter.............. and far, FAR too much rain………. and, no doubt, age and hormones………

 All of these seem to feature in ChickPea’s current landscape, blotting out blessings and blurring perspective.  Most had been lying down, so quietly slipping under the radar…….. seemingly ‘sorted’ (as Glasgow would put it) ……but ALL now jumping around with great vigour ....... proving a little tricky to handle and impossible to ignore………… worse to catch and deal with even than recalcitrant hens ……..

I guess some sunshine would help………. (it would certainly help the hens).

So I guess this is by way of apology to all who have any contact with me……… I haven’t been blogging, I haven’t been visiting around the blogosphere, I haven’t been my usual interested, outgoing and affirming self, I really haven’t been much fun to live with, and, I guess, I haven’t fully been ME……. 

I know the grass will grow over all, but it may take a bit longer yet to create a lawn ………

Friday, 22 April 2011

A Most Mighty Mystery


For much of my life, the ‘Easter Season’ has been a major focal point of my life.  Lent, Holy Week and so to Easter…….. a yearly recurrence with ecclesiastically structured prompts of silence and solitude to stop, review, reflect, assess and reassess ……  meeting myself……..who I am…… what I am……… where I am at ……..  Not an easy process, and rarely a comfortable or enjoyable undertaking.  But, sure as light follows darkness and eggs is eggs, this time of year seems to require of me a certain engagement with the essence of mortality…… a kind of ‘head to head’ with fundamental reality. 

For me, this Lent has involved a looking back over my shoulder, whispers from the past, glimpsed shadows of The Loved But Lost  who have passed on to eternity …….. renewed recognition that Water Passes Under The Bridge, and the twigs and ‘Pooh sticks’ of everyday existence catch in the reeds for a moment, then swirl away out of sight and into the far distance………….        The hopes and dreams of what the future just might hold fading in the harsh glare of Time’s headlights.

And so we reached Palm Sunday last weekend, then on into Holy Week. 

Today we approached the Maundy Thursday liturgy.  Stark contrasts of a rich sung mass (this year to be the Rheinberger setting) with the slightly embarrassing simplicity of feet being washed; the clash of fancy ornate robes and vestments with the everyday action of taking, breaking and sharing bread and wine.  So much Big, Bright, Shiny and Lavish……. and then the shocking and harsh removal of all our accustomed church furnishings and embellishments ……..  the solemn procession to a symbolic garden……. and then a darkened, chastened church…… and silent vigil …. the waiting for the end of it …….

So it would be, as so many times before.  The rituals stirring up the hearts and minds and feelings of the assembled congregation in so many ways……. some engrossed in the act of worship…….  others just there for the music….. some appalled at the time it was all taking…….    others perplexed by the sheer drama……. Tumultuous, as at Gethsemane.

So it would be, and, I guess, so it was. 

TH has been floored by an ‘upper respiratory tract infection’ for the last two weeks or so, sore throat, hacking cough, sleepless nights, papertrail of tissues…….. not a chance for him of singing the glorious Rheinberger this time. 

Ten days behind him, finally feeling flesh succumbing to the inevitable last Sunday,  I thought I would at least manage to be a part of the assembly tonight.  Rehearsing tonight I realised this hope was futile.  The voice was strained, and though in tune (so far as the dull deaf ear could tell) was probably not particularly pleasant and doubtless far from reliable. Risk assessment  for the occasion indicated strategic withdrawal was mandatory.

So I took the dog out to romp with her canine companions in the gathering dusk, marvelled at the beauty of first-laid eggs from our junior hens, and moped with my husband. 

Head to head with the disappointment and devastation of not being where I wished to be, nor doing what I wanted, and not even feeling up to returning later on to creep in to the dim and desolate silence, finally sheds yet another perspective upon fragile Mortality.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

NB. Backing up your computer – just DO it………….

As Scotland finds snow and low temperatures* are maintaining a vice-like grip, my computer has been rebuilt and I can now get online again……….. 

The hard drive turned up its toes in a terminal fashion just days before we went to Kirkcudbright for a brief holiday.  TH kindly arranged replacement surgery while we were away, and then dealt with loading of the many essentials and necessaries (what a kind and lovely guy he is), so now I am tracing lost email addresses, etc …….. and finding this requires more time and energy than is available  just now.  It all demonstrates, rather too well, that backing up your computer is never a waste of time………

(*Temperature of -10 degrees centigrade at 5pm this evening)

Bramble counting sheep on holiday near Kirkcudbright (with thanks to gordonrasmith for the photograph)

Saturday, 2 October 2010

And NOW.........


Dearest Reader - Greetings.  Sorry to be away so long.  Here is a ‘catch-up’.

My left arm is now nearly healed after the final fracas 3 weeks ago with the Springer/collie cross dog that we had been trying to re-home.  My right hand is healed but quite sore at times after the first fracas within 24 hours of his arrival with us 6 weeks previously.  He is a beautiful dog, an excellent retriever of tennis balls, and shows strong evidence of some previous obedience training - but he also has serious issues which the Dogs’ Trust at West Calder promised would be addressed carefully before they would consider any attempt to re-home him again.  (So I am not at all sure why he was re-advertised just 2 weeks after we had returned him with a full and honest report.  I sincerely hope he doesn’t bite again, because he wasn’t messing about).

We now have another new 4-footed member of the family.  She is a black,13 and a half-weeks’ old, Standard Poodle puppy called ‘Bramble’, who went on holiday with us to the Ardnamurchan Peninsula for a few days, and is just gorgeous!  She is fantastically soft, very cuddly, will now (usually) ‘sit’ to command and has learnt ’lie down’ over the past 2 days, retrieve a ball from across the room, stay dry all night till her toilet trip into the garden the next morning, and falls asleep whenever the chance arises.............

Last Saturday saw us take a trip towards Biggar to replenish our depleted feathered flock, returning home with 3 new hens, currently too young to lay.  However, Meena did NOT appreciate newcomers to the coop, shouting her disgust to everyone within earshot......... continuously......... this was upsetting the 3 newbies, upsetting both human heads of the household, and in serious danger of upsetting the neighbours. Meena can also be a bit of a bully, and the smallest bird, at just 14 weeks, is still really quite small and likely to be quite vulnerable.  So Meena and Myna were removed to a box in the back room for the first night, being returned to the outside run an hour after the others were up in the morning.  Myna got on with having her breakfast, but Meena was still not having it.  Continuous shouting saw her returned to the indoor box for the morning.
Rapid arrangement of alternative accommodation for the 2 mature birds was necessary, to give the newbies chance to settle in and grow a bit bigger before the Big 2 get back to the regular henhouse again. The shed was therefore emptied to find the spare pen and erect this next to the house, with a new carpet of bark chippings, feed, water and a night/laying shelter for Meena and Myna.  The established henhouse and run was also cleaned out and refurbished with fresh bark, feed and water for the newbies. 
A couple of hours remaining before Evensong allowed re-potting of the geraniums for over-wintering indoors. There had been ice on the car windscreen that morning, so this seemed like a good move.  We will do the same for our lovely bay tree once we have some fresh compost - having barely survived the low temperatures of last winter it probably has no chance at all of getting through another winter outside..... tho survival indoors is probably also unlikely .......
Master Catlet thought the whole proceedings were for his entertainment, creeping around and checking out the newcomers – these were ‘perching’, so were evidently ‘birds’ and required serious scrutiny, as opposed to the ground-loving older hens who are noted for standing their ground when Bart gets closer than they consider respectable.
Bramble wanted to join in too and ensure a riotous melee....... She was most disgruntled to find herself removed to the kitchen until all activities had been completed.

What hilarity ! 

We have yet to settle into a harmonious routine.  Further re-arrangement of hen-housing will be necessary for the winter, as the back of the garden is further away and quite chilly when the temperature drops.  Names are being discussed. And we have the luxury of another week of holiday to be scheduled before the end of the year - hoping for a few days near Kirkcudbright to give Bart his first holiday and allow  Bramble to run on the beach every day.

I shall try to be back soon.  All best wishes, x

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

And then it all went wrong.......

Since I last wrote, we have been having further problems with Hannimal Hector – serious biting (without any warning), and a major tail-bushing fracas between Dog and Cat (fortunately Cat is young, VERY fast and relatively sensible, so remains uninjured....not so ChickPea........).
We were loathe to give up on the dog without first trying to properly – and appropriately - address the behaviour. So a fully validated behaviourist, provided by the Dog’s Trust, visited us last Friday, spending a significant amount of time with us, giving us most valuable advice and a very clear programme of exercises to follow. She was kind, and very sensible. “Be safe” was her Ultimate Directive.
All seemed to be going nicely over the weekend as TH worked with the programme. Dog seemed quite comfortable with the first exercises, gradually progressing from Day One to Day Two of the set regimen.
Come Monday, after he had been breakfasted and well (and quietly) walked by ChickPea, she felt the time was right for her to start on the earliest exercises with him too. Not so. Dog was NOT having it.

So Hector went back to the Dog’s Trust at the beginning of the week.

It was the only option. Each time he bit someone he was building his confidence, and under-mining ours. Not the way to a happy, safe or joyous future for the four of us (let alone bringing the hens into the equation). He had made some good progress with us along the way – he was beginning to walk more comfortably on the lead, he was a little less restless in the house, he was allowing TH to touch him a little - but we were not up to giving him what he needs just now to deal with the biting issues. We hope that returning him to the rescue centre with extensive reporting of the issues which arose will assist rehabilitation for his future.

But we are still sad that he had to go, and the home is desolate without a canine member of the household..........