Monday, 5 November 2012

Life's lessons.

Four weeks ago I went for an MRI scan, The Central Pain Syndrome has been getting worse and then came a new pain that has caused cramp and red hot pins and needles in my left shoulder and arm, The diagnosis came back that I have stenosis in my cervical spine and unless I want surgery I will have to endure. I was upset with the diagnosis, but relieved that something had actually shown up. I will never know whether the pain in my arm has actually always been spinal stenosis because I have had two MRI scans of that area and have never been given a  result. The reports went "missing" once and the image was blurred on the second.

I knew that something had shown up because the woman in the Xray room was very kind when I got out of the awful machine - I nearly had a panic attack and a few times had to remind myself to keep breathing! My head was actually clamped and I think it was the feeling of being totally trapped that added to the panic!

One of my friends now has a diagnosis of a tear in one of her lumbar discs so now she is starting on the long road to recovery and I know from bitter experience how it is going to be. Perhaps I should write a book about THAT! All the books about bad backs concentrate on excercises and physio etc. but there isn;t a book that explains how to deal with back pain in a domestic setting - how to sit, how to lie, how to get walking, what to do around the house, what to avoid (lifting!!), what to do about shopping and so on.  I remember all too clearly having to walk with crutches as my back injury slowly healed. I can't remember now what I did to hurt myself so badly and at one point I never thought I would be able to walk without a stick again.

I wonder about living in pain and whether it has taught me anything at all. Sometimes I think it has stolen the life I should have lived, and sometimes the 20 years seem the only life I could have lived. I wish I could stop worrying about small things and just concentrate on enjoying the life I do have. Most of the time I am happy. I like to get out into the countryside - that makes the biggest difference, and I love to go and watch the sea come in especially when the weather is rough.

What I don't need is to listen to my mother in law saying "How the other half live...."  when we tell her that we have made holiday plans.
What I don't need is unnecessary stress.
What I hate is dark rainy weather.

What I do need is warmth, laughter, music, a good book, a wonderful day out, and the love of my husband above all.
What I need is space and time and the feeling of being cherished.

What I need is to be allowed to laugh and be free of sadness. The grief never goes away but like the pain I am in - it is absorbed into one's life so that this is now the only life I can envisage. Pain and grief follow some of the same patterns - the shock, the disbelief, the long slow road to some sort of recovery of self. I had never thought of the two that way and it is something that I ought to explore.

Perhaps this post is incoherent and I should delete it, but I will let it stand for now.

Sunday, 4 November 2012


I labelled this blog "musings"because I originally intended to use this space as somewhere to muse, to ponder, to give voice to some ideas. I had not thought that it would be a picture blog but it seems that thats what is happening. I always intend to blog what is current, and yet - and yet- it seems that when the time comes to write I find myself resisting the call.

I read somewhere that if you have a call that you strongly resist - that is the work you should do and it seems that writing here is what I ought to do so that I can return to writing. I am not sure why I stopped. No, that isn;t true. I just wonder, when or if I write, who is it for, what does it matter, will anybody anywhere read what I write? Talking to my philosophy guru Geoffrey Klempner recently I mentioned that I wanted to write my memoir and he asked why I thought anyone would read it. I don't think he was being unkind. I have to ask the same question. Why does it matter? What do I intend by writing a memoir? Revenge? That is unkind. Sympathy for me? I don't want sympathy. Information? Possibly. A good read? Well yes, definitely!

I would love to return to writing seriously. Perhaps the call is getting stronger. I think I will have to go and answer.

Autumn days

 We have had some beautiful days out this Autumn around Cheshire and North Wales and although my camera is not particularly good I have taken some photos that I quite like. Lots of photos of the natural world because it is in their final defiant display that trees and plants are both beautiful and fragile. And the colours have been stunning this year.
 I love seeing ornamental cabbages used as plants. They always look so cheerful!
 This photo was taken late in the afternoon (the day that the clocks went back!) and we were at Audlem following the Tour(Taith) of South Cheshire.
 This lovely ethereal view was taken from a pub we found above the Cheshire Plain - we think it was called The Pheasant. Fabulous views and the food looked good as well.
 Beautiful fragile leaves/
 A late sunflower.
 The trunk of a Scots Pine - and now they are under threat as well,
 These views of trees makes me wonder what the effect of losing Ash trees and possibly Scotch Pines will be on the landscape.
 Just a quick reminder of one of my favourite areas in North Wales.
 And a picture of a Maple. How stunningly beautiful at this time of year.
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Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The beauty of the natural world.

I think these photos speak for themselves. I am not a wonderful photographer, I don't have a wonderful camera, and my hands are not always steady. But I love taking these snaps to remind myself of the wonder of this world which nothing but human stupidity can spoil.
 Sunset on the Lleyn Peninsula.
 These leaves looked so fragile.
 Sunset from the beach at Wallasey. If you click on the picture you get some idea of the scale of the view. The views are enormous and when I am away from the sea I long to be back, windy weather an'all!
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On not studying ethics.

I am having an argument with myself at the moment. It goes something like this...

Last year was spent happily doing the Introduction to Philosophy course at Philosophy Pathways run by the wonderful Geoffrey Klempner. I have been struggling to find the mental energy to do the next course which is an ethics course. I seem to have run out of steam.

 Partly this is because the Central Pain Syndrome, with which I struggle,  has become so much worse. The pain medication I take knocks me out - we have great days out, but without them I couldn't cope at all, as they serve as distraction therapy, as does dyeing wool, crafting, reading and just gently pottering around the house which is something I enjoy doing as well. Pottering is a good description. Some of this and some of that.

I feel that to study ethics is to study human nature. I am not entirely convinced that there can be any one conclusion about any situation - but then there has been so much lately that has been, in my eyes, morally reprehensible, from governments to individuals, and perhaps there is no point in studying moral philosophy as nobody appears to behave in a moral way.
If ethics can't change the selfish way in which we live, then what is the point of studying ethics?

And if the bad people always get away with it - whatever it may be - then is there any point at all in being good?

Of course, if you are Lance Armstrong you might not think that being bad has actually succeeded, but of course in some sense it has, because the whole sport that he represented has now been tainted with the scandal. Jimmy Saville's name is becoming synonymous with nastiness. Our millionaire politicians have no idea whatsoever about how people really live and our PM used the death of his own son (unbelievable) to make his party trust him whilst he and his fellows in government make the lives of disabled, sick and vulnerable people even worse.

Meanwhile the party in the Middle East goes on apace. And Barak Obama is fighting for his job in the USA and heaven help us if Romney wins.

Where does classical ethics fit in to all of this? And will it even begin to answer the question that always haunts me - how to come to terms with the Holocaust? What meaning can possibly be derived from the loss of so many people? And so many others who died in that war?

So I open the course material and I think - yes it is interesting, and yes I can understand most of it, but how does it actually help me to navigate the life I actually live? Perhaps it is not merely a lack of energy that holds me back but a growing sense of futility.

I will have to decide what to do soon. I would hate to give in or give up so I will have to find my way through all of this mental obfuscation.

A day out - and some wool.

 This was the rainbow we saw as we approached Castle Howard yesterday. I am sure the pot of gold must have been somewhere close-by. This was taken through the car window in a hurry so the quality isn't very good. The whole road ahead was shimmering in the light of the rainbow - I have never seen anything quite so magical.
 This is a view from the garden. The sun was shining at this point so we walked on into the grounds.
 This was the sky shortly afterwards...
 and here it is looking even more like a storm might be on its way. We managed to walk round, have a coffee outside and take photos in spite of the damp and the gloomy light. I always love photgraphing stormy skies. They look wonderful through a camera lens.
 I bought 400 gms of 4 ply and want to make a lace cardigan with it - I have the pattern. I dyed the wool simply by placing two colours into my dyeing pan and then putting the wool in. It is very random and I love not knowing how things will turn out. If I do more yarn dyeing I will have to weigh and measure, but I am not a weighing and measuring type of person. I have to knit some of the wool I have before I can justify buying more to dye!!
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Monday, 15 October 2012

Some days out this summer

 We went to Gawthorpe hall - a beautiful house standing in some sad remains of a garden. It makes me want to get out my gardening history books and start making the outside as good as the inside. The best part of the visit was the opportunity to see part of  the vast needlework collection that it houses. Racheal Kay Shuttleworth started the collection and it has everything from historic garments and fine embroidery to contemporary pieces. I could spend the rest of my life in their archives if they but knew it. I wonder how I could get involved there? I will have to think about it.
Next is a view of the famous Liver buildings which face the Mersey. The photo is taken from the new Museum of Liverpool which turned out to be an absolute treasure trove of information about the city. What I finally like about Liverpool is that it is a city that wears its heart on its sleeve. I can't imagaine anyone in Leeds being emotional about the place!!  The museum manages to convey this quality - emotion - without being overtly sentimental. We spent two afternoons going round Albert Dock and visiting the tall ships and then the museum and then we found that we had only scratched the surface of what it has to offer. We will be going back .
 This photo was taken at New Brighton on yet another rainy afternoon. New Brighton has undergone a major transformation in the last few years and now has coffee shops, an ice-cream parlour (!) a cinema and a supermarket. I thought that New Brighton would be spoilt as a consequence but I was completely wrong, and it is fun to go there to walk Martha, and have an ice-cream watching the shipping come and go along the Mersey.
 Talking of Martha...
 We took J's mum out for the day and went to Ruthin craft centre where I took this photo. These days out are precious and will be a store of memories in years to come, something which sadly I will never have with regard to my own family, but which makes me appreciate these days on J's behalf. We went to Nant-Clwyd house . had lunch and finally made our way home via Moel Famau, yet another favourite place.
 I love the colours of autumn. I can never have enough photos of the trees as they almost defiantly put on their finery before their long sleep.
 Castle Howard was a surprise. We have visited twice, once to do the house itself and the second time to see the grounds and gardens. The house itself is wonderful - gaudy, overblown and yet utterly grand, although it spent a great deal of its life in a state of dereliction.

More to follow!
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Friday, 24 August 2012

Summer's end approaches.

This evening we had to put the lights on at 8.30pm and it felt early. When the days lengthen it seems to take forever for the minutes to be added on, yet the end of summer races by.

I am just not ready this year. I am still waiting for summer to begin.
I am waiting for sunshine.
I am waiting for the laughter I expected when all my family was around me - all two of them plus one hubby.
Nothing was as expected, and yet everything was as expected - or feared.

Never mind. Just carry on.

Quilt Show in Birmingham

 On Saturday I went to Birmingham with my friend Hilary Nagashi, and we had a wonderful day looking at all sorts of quilts, traditional, modern, made by children, groups, and so on. I was attracted to a lot of the more modern quilts with their lovely distressed looks although I do wonder whether they will a) survive well and or b) be just trendy and therefore date very rapidly.
 Be those considerations as they may, I am blogging just a few images of parts of the quilts as I don't really know whether I am going to break any of the copyright rules.
 I loved the pieces hanging off the bottom of this particular quilt.
 And the way it was made of so many strips and with words scattered around.
 This quilt was stitched as well which added texture and interest. I love stitching so this was a particular favourite.
 I like these art quilts but I don't know where the distinction lies between quilt and embroidery and even just artwork.
 This is a particular question when it comes to paper quilts although this particular artist was absolutely wonderful. I loved her work but it isn;t quilting to me, it is art on paper constructed as a quilt.
 I bought these particular lovelies for my friend Hilary to say thanks for driving.
 We drove home under a wonderful sky which turned to fire as we approached home via the M53,
 The sky was just amazing!
 And so ended a lovely day. What a treat!!
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