Friday, 31 August 2007

One that got through...

Night night, love you too

A text from my son. God I've missed him this week. Reception has been virtually non-existent down in Cornwall, which I suppose is a good thing as it means there can't be too many mobile phone masts wrecking the scenery down there.
My ex and I are gradually learning to holiday separately, as we have separated, which means phoning now feels inappropriate. When we were still together, there were many trips that had to be taken without me, but lots of phonecalls.
Yes in truth I want be able to talk to my son anytime, but I feel that this week was Dad time.
It's been a long week. But the main thing is that they have had a proper holiday. And maybe now the ties have been cut, it was guilt free, unlike in previous years.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Up a gear

I have v little energy but wanted to say that I found out this week I qualify for the high rate mobility component of DLA, after much battling.
So whilst I am still creaking from the other day, at least I now have many and varied new mobility options open to me that I am in truth yet to get my head around.
First up, I whizz around the board and collect a Blue Badge immediately, having languished in jail for several goes, despite appeals to my consultant to release me by writing to the Blue Badge people. He didn't so I only now get a badge.
Second up, I can afford to pay for taxis for at least a few more turns whilst I consider options three and four, involving Motability, which I know v little about at present.
Being on high rate mobility also might convince social services that I need slightly more help than they are currently proposing, which amounts to not a lot.
But I really can't write about it at length at the mo (thank goodness, nuff said).

My friend came over yesterday and being one who understands only too well the energy expenditure/pain payback thing, we were soon frankly having to laugh over how incredibly knackered I have made myself by having a garden strop in a straw hat. She's had similar moments of frustration, with similar results. And because she knows how I'm feeling she:

Went to the chemist to collect me a prescription
Got me some food because I ran out and can't face doing an online order
Made lots of tea
Told me to try softly punching cushions next time

And she told me that although I can no longer drive, someone else can drive a car on the Motability scheme for my use. Is that true? I can hardly believe it. Is the tide turning, I wonder?

Freedom seems such an alien concept I'm almost scared to push on and achieve it. Is it possible that in the course of becoming disabled we can sometimes become stuck in a particular way of doing things, even if it's not the best way, because it's all there has been for so long? If so then doing things differently means changing bad habits that have arisen more through deprivation than lack of concern for oneself. I am used to things being impossibly difficult. I will almost struggle if things become easier. This seems ludicrous.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Scene from an English garden in summer

Yesterday I was out in the garden, in my deckchair. The next minute I was ripping up weeds and chucking things about in a fit of temper. Including the deckchair.
It amused me to read logging on today that there is now a video link on the blogger toolbar for posting clips. If only, I thought, I'd got yesterday's outburst on film. I was wearing my wide-brimmed sunhat and one of those long flappy dresses and was feeling as serene as a Merchant Ivory extra sipping tea. Then my mobile went.
The person who prompted this sudden ill-advised outburst of white rage is several hundred miles away in Cornwall with our son. Nevertheless, and despite our recent separation, he is still able to produce in me an ire that simply cannot be contained. It comes over me like a tornado, and I just thank God we no longer live together, for everyone's sakes.
And so today I find I can hardly move, and I predict it may get worse for a few days, so I thought I'd better post before it really kicks in, even if it's just to say I won't be posting until my pain levels return to tolerable. And that makes me even crosser. More with myself for being so stupid in the garden than anything else.
He will never change because he thinks he is perfect. I can change because I know I am far from perfect. Knowledge is power. Therefore I win. Hah.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Charity Junk Mail

I have spent a lot of time since returning writing to over 50 charities on behalf of my Grandma. I recently discovered she has been sending donations going into hundreds of pounds per month in response to an ever-increasing deluge of mail coming through her door. For those new to this blog, my Grandma has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Of course, the more you donate to charity, the more mail you get. And I have been surprised, really shocked in fact, at the tenacity of some of the campaigns. At least one organisation I discovered is under investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority. But even charities I considered well-known and reputable are using what I would describe as questionable tactics for extracting donations.

The worst ones are the fake memos sent by supposed secretaries to heads of charities, marked urgent, and then 'copied in' to the recipient in the mailout.
Or the ones enclosing 'secret' documents revealing ambitious project plans.
Or the truly dreadful 'written for you' replies saying 'Dear charity, thank you so much for my free umbrella. I realise how important your work is (blah blah) and so I enclose a donation of (amount already circled for you, say £25? how convenient)...
They must be aware that many of the people who donate by post are elderly.

In my Grandma's case, she is now at the stage where we have had to get joint Enduring Power of Attorney. And so, with the realisation that money much needed to pay for her future care is being given away, has come the need for intervention. It has been a marathon, but a necessary one because I also discovered that simply informing the Mailing Preference Service won't bring about a quick solution. It does stamp out most unwanted mail in the end but it takes weeks.

We needed action to be immediate. It has felt uncomfortable asking these charities not to write again, but I decided to leave in place any standing orders or direct debits to charities my Grandma set up before her judgement became impaired.

And now we get to the question of autonomy. This has been my first act as attorney. It feels both wrong and right. I feel uncomfortable about making a decision about who my Grandma chooses to donate her money to, but I feel it is right to combat the often manipulative and wheedling mailings that are landing on her doormat daily.

I am going to complain about at least 10 charities to the Advertising Standards Authority. I just can't believe the methods used to get donations. And I feel sad and angry that my Grandma has been lost in a fog of confusion over which charity to give to, which cheque to write, to the point that she just started giving to all of them.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Hey Mickey!

So glad to be back. Why I felt the need to be away so long I don't know. But then maybe that's the sign of a good rest. I certainly had that. No forms, no fights, no stress, nothing to worry about, all meals prepared. My mum is fab, even if she does keep giving me her Saga magazines to read and has no computer (aagh). But I got home last night, and it felt like home. It's been nearly six months since I moved. I can't believe it. I sang "Hey Mickey!" all round the kitchen. Because I can. Only why "Hey Mickey!" (the Toni Basil original)?
It's just so ludicrous but lots of fun:

So I came Hey Mickey! and a fledgling blackbird. Ralph doesn't always eat his offerings, particularly if they can fly away, which this one made every effort to do.
I walked in and the first thing I set eyes on is a sea of feathers on the kitchen floor, all through to the hall in fact, and deposits of bird poo here and there. Great. But I thought it was dead, eaten, gone, digested, forgotten.
And worn out by singing in a quietly punky style I went to bed.
TWEET. 8am the next morning. I sit bolt upright. I am very noise sensitive and had only just removed my earplugs. After the relative quiet of my mum's I was bracing myself for a bit of traffic noise. TWEETTWEETTWEETTWEET. God, it was like an elephant trumpeting from the next room. Ralph lazily looks up...

then rolls over and assumes the ridiculous posture he reserves for deep and relaxed sleep (legs in air, belly on full view). I think he'd spent a good few hours in between his last feed and my return trying to catch his prey, only to be outwitted at every turn. So he gave up. Leaving me at 9am groggy with my grabby stick, trying find the owner of such a very large tweet and coax it out through the back door.
9.30am My son returns from his Dad's, our joyful reunion somewhat curtailed by a TWEET from the kitchen. Aha.
With the aid of a waste paper basket, some cardboard and the grabby stick, we gently persuade our fluffy friend (no actual grabbing necessary, I hasten to add) into the basket and on to a branch in the back garden.
Ralph stays upstairs for the whole episode. Such wanton abdication of responsibility could not go unchecked.
I had also returned home to find him jumping and scratching in that way cats do when infested with fleas. So at 10am Ralph is given a thorough flea treatment. Oh how he hated it. Much growling and spitting and then out into the garden. By 10.30am I was ready to crawl back to bed, but a friend came over! Too much excitement.
Later this afternoon whilst building a huge stack of twigs that we may burn if we dare... we found our bird dead on the grass. Such is nature. Either Ralph finished it off in a sulk, or it just expired. Sad, but fledglings can so easily make the wrong move, such is their inexperience in life. Meanwhile Ralph is now sitting on my mouse waiting for me to eat my porridge so he can have some. Did I mention he is getting fat?
Tonight, after a happy and really quite varied day my son said:"It feels like I've been back for ages. It's like when we moved in. I actually feel like I've been here for years."
It's called home. And getting it right.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Away for a while

Back next week. Love to you all.

Monday, 6 August 2007

This Is Where I Want to Be

Still there

Should summer blogging be different as An Unreliable Witness pondered. Should we do it at all? Well I think so, if the mood takes you. And there are plenty of people still reading. Here, I've decided to continue recreating Shropshire because life here is very difficult at the moment. My Gran has senile dementia and may be going into a home imminently. This has brought on a whole heap of emotional responses, having to be managed amid trying to be sensible and ensure that she is looked after well if she does decide to move.

Back at the cottage, the kitchen was simple and cosy...

We quickly felt at home (I am famous for leaving mugs everywhere)...

There were some beautiful wrought iron fireplaces, no doubt produced locally about 100 or so so years ago...

And a back door that opened on to chickens and pasture. The farm dog would wander in to say hello on occasion

I thought a lot about my Gran whilst there. The cottage had a feel to it that takes me back to the house my mum grew up in. Same smells, lack of white goods, no TV. Just books and games. It was great.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

An English Hedgerow

I have been back in the city for a week and my heart really aches for the countryside. So I'm going to ditch chewing over the minutiae of urban battles and celebrate some still fresh memories instead. I've always liked photo essays, so here goes.

There is so much life to be found in an English hedgerow in summer, and indeed at any time of the year. They are their own ecosystems, everything growing and thriving under the shelter of centuries. These pictures were taken whilst my son and Mum were walking. We'd parked up with a panoramic view for me to enjoy as I waited for their return. But I got bored, and got out my camera, leaving the car with the express purpose of capturing what was immediately around me. You don't have to go far to find these riches. Shropshire yields mile after mile of microcosmic wonders, in hedgerows, fields and woodland. It's as mind blowing to me as an infinity of stars.

Leaves luxuriantly wet with rain...

A stately coronet of cowslip seedheads...

A snaking briar bejewelled with raindrops slashing its purple stem across the gentle green...

And tiny wild flowers wrapped in the gossamer thread of an anonymous weaver.