Monday, 28 April 2008

Vivid Green

Is it me or is everything a lot greener this year? I hear that one of the joys of withdrawing from benzos is that you get colours back. It's like there's a gradual notching up of the colour and contrast settings in my brain. Brilliant!

There are no photos to go with this observation as I was out unexpectedly for a walk along a canal towpath and didn't have my camera. Even if I had I feel I would need to have spent some time in Paintshop to achieve the level of greens my eyes were seeing :-)

How the hell did I get anywhere near a canal towpath from landlocked Brum? Well, apart from it having more canals than Venice it was my Mum's birthday. I made it out to the pub for a meal and as it was so quiet and trouble-free (just how I like meals out) I had enough energy to walk by the canal for a few mins. It was a joy. There was a bloke painting his 70 foot longboat. I asked him if he lived on it and he said yes, for about two years. I told him he looked well for his new life, and he remarked that though in many ways it was harder he was happier.

Good on him. In other news, we have frogspawn. Much excitement. Some will be transferred to a tank indoors so my son gets to see the whole cycle before we release them into our new pond...which is yet to be dug and no sign of the digger but oh well. Hasn't stopped me watching my gardening DVDs and planning, even if it takes forever.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Miss, Mrs, Ms

My need to examine this latest dilemma has only arisen by accident.

As many of you will know, commenting on BBC blogs such as Ouch now requires a quick and easy sign-up to the BBC in general. A couple of minutes and you can comment anywhere and post on BBC messageboards.

This is something I had been doing for a while over at BBC Gardening (yes, I know...I don't actually garden but I do want to know stuff sometimes) and sometimes at Ouch, but I had to use another name as Seahorse was taken.

Well, I want to use Seahorse at Ouch now it's needed for commenting as I've guested for them, so MsSeahorse was born. And actually, I use Ms in other areas of my life so why not my online identity? Yes, plain old Seahorse would have been great, but because the BBC is so massive it had already been bagged as an ID.

I used to think people who used Ms were somewhat pretentious or had an inflated opinion of themselves. Well, that surely can't apply to me now can it? So I've changed my mind. I'm the other side of a separation and too old to be a Miss anyway so it seems quite appropriate. And I have acquired a certain haughtiness which I attribute to being in pain a lot.

For what it's worth I think Miss should never be used as it's quite old-fashioned really, and irritates in much the same way as Mademoiselle - how patronising to refer to a young woman in such a way. Mrs is something I will never, ever consider evereverever, so Ms it is.

Friday, 18 April 2008

BADD 2008! Soon!

Hurray, it's that time of year again. May 1 has so much more meaning since the birth of Blogging Against Disablism Day

Two years ago it was this event and occasional and very selective blog reading in the months around it that sparked my interest in, well to be honest, life and the outside world again whilst I was still in the depths of a deep depression and physical meltdown.

Really, it was that important. Reading blogs on disablism, disability awareness and most importantly the ups and downs of living with a disability meant that I was not alone. So I started to emerge from depression and now I regularly subject people to my wiffling here, and occasionally at Ouch. Life has changed and writing again is life affirming. It was a joy (and that is sincerely meant) to be able to contribute to BADD last year, and it will be a joy to do so again this year. Goldfish many people love you for doing this.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

It's a Frog's Life

I went out into the garden today to check out the pond on a whim. I know very little about pond maintenance, other than that ice and choking blanket weed is generally not good for pond life. Both have been a factor in recent days, the blanket weed being the more persistent problem.

Having spent two whole days in bed I felt blessed with a little energy, and couldn't resist the urge to grab a rake and poke about a bit. Soon I was gingerly extracting both blanket weed and silty and very smelly leaf matter from the bottom of the pond.

Nothing, but nothing, could be alive in this quagmire I thought rather bleakly to myself. I felt a wave of disappointment, remembering the tiny froglets that hopped about (with Ralph our cat hopping about after them) last summer in all that rain.

Then, suddenly, a head appeared. Then another, and another.
Stirring up the sediment clearly hadn't agreed with these rapidly appearing creatures of the deep and I quickly realised they needed some help. Fortunately my son arrived back from his Dad's just as I started flapping. He grabbed a bucket, we washed it out and had soon created a safe haven for no less than five adult frogs whilst the pond settled after being cleaned.

And two of them were mating!

I feel it's a little unfortunate my whim coincided with their breeding (which I read later happens over only one or two days a year) and I do hope my efforts to 'help' haven't done any harm. But I confess it was really thrilling for my son and I to witness a pair of frogs in a firm embrace (the male didn't let go the whole time, even as they hopped in unison trying to escape the bucket). The females in the photos are bright red and I have learned that this is their 'in season' colour before they return to plain old green. Well, wearing red always worked for me so why not frogs?

These two were clearly attracted to each other...

But just couldn't get it on...

Though I have to say, would you be feeling particularly amorous under the glare of a lens in a garden bucket?

Takes all sorts. My snapping away certainly did nothing to stop our more amorous pair inviting a third to the party...

This totally unexpected encounter with nature has left me enthused once more about getting our garden sorted. I have a renewed determination to somehow get hold of some wood for raised vegetable beds and enlist some help in creating a proper wildlife pond. That means the existing one (which is small and rather badly positioned) can be the nursery pond to the larger one.

New project? You bet. And to think, I was reading about creating an outdoor aquarium to photograph your pond wildlife only yesterday. It's perfectly okay to gently transfer specimens such as frogs, newts and pondskaters into a tank for half an hour whilst you whip out your camera. How do you think David Attenborough and team got all those marvellous underground and underwater shots? A lot of trickery was involved that's for sure. Sometimes living in the city gets me down, and yesterday I didn't actually believe anything was thriving in our garden. But I was so wrong.

Back in the pond, it was business as usual.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Climb Every Mountain

Unless your mountain happens to be a set of stairs and you are all of a sudden given the green light for a stair lift. Whoosh!

Well ok, not whoosh. The rep showed me the seatbelt that is 'advisable' on 'helfnsafety' grounds. I laughed my head off and asked him what speed it does. "About one and a half mph," he said, with a perfectly serious countenance, which made me crease even more.

My brain has entered new realms of deep sea fog so I've not been keeping people up-to-date with developments this end. But now social services are all of a sudden (that's in terms of weeks sort of sudden, not months) giving me a stairlift and I feel compelled to share the news.

What astonished me is when they measured the incline of my stairs. I made some quip about staggering up at 45 degrees, and the guys measuring up shot back "No, actually they are 50 degrees."

Bloody hell. No wonder I'm so knackered. Apparently stairs just don't get built that steep these days. Forty degrees is about your limit. Gosh, it's amazing how an hour in the company of a stairlift rep and social services bod can teach you so much about stairs.

I knew they were a problem. And yes, it has been suggested that I move house. But I moved house a year ago, when I separated from my ex. When I looked round this place my mind was on a million things at once and the stairs...well I know it sounds stupid but I just didn't notice. I was thinking about how close the place is to school, the shop, the surgery, my son's friends. Now there have been many adaptations, like dropped kerbs, grab rails, and soon a talking toilet. That's what I've called it anyway. I can't remember what it does, but it seems to do everything but talk back to your arse, so the talking toilet it is.

A year on and thank goodness help is on the way. One of the main problems I have is memory lapses causing far more trips up and down the stairs than should be necessary. Forgot the phone. Bugger. Forgot my cup of tea. Bugger. Forgot to lock up. Bugger. Left lights on get the picture.

Soon I get to sit and glide, serenely I hope. And it has a key so I can lock it and stop it becoming an in-house fairground ride for my son and all his mates. But then at 1mph, it's hardly going to be a rollercoaster ride.

Bath running. Bugger.

Sunday, 6 April 2008


It was the way the sun and blue sky looked against the snow that took my breath away when I opened the curtains this morning. It's still snowing now. It really does make me feel five again.