I have started the process to make my head space a bit better. This includes 2 sessions at the hospice where I melt down to the extent where I break down so far I cannot breathe and make a horrendous noise trying to force air into my lungs.I consume large quantities of paper handkerchiefs and then can’t find anywhere to put them other than in the hand of the nurse. She takes them without a word or grimace. We decide on a few groups I can attend, one of which is called Words & Pictures because she couldn’t think of anything else to call it. It sounds like a nursery class but I gamely go along, because it might be good and I generally get a good driver to chat to. The car service drivers are usually in their 70s and have a sense of humour and a long list of anecdotes which I like very much. There have been a spate of signs put up recently in red and white, saying ER and looking very official but no explanation. Apparently they are Escape Routes should we get flooded. Another driver took a different view and thought they were something to do with terrorist attacks. I query whether the escape routes are for the general population or the terrorists. The penny drops and we laugh.
Words & Pictures proves entertaining, too. There are two men who are wheeled in and who seem to have dementia and two ladies in their late sixties. I am made a cup of coffee by a lady who was once a client and I used to train for when I ran my own training business. She remembers me and it seems a surreal experience. We play games with words and pictures, as promised in the title, and it’s actually quite good fun. Then we are set homework, to write a poem about something that’s really important to us. I’m not sure how some of the group members will manage but they’re all lovely, smiley and twinkly. After the session I have my first hand massage which is so relaxing and finishes off the session beautifully.
We still have so many visitors to the house; some to do with Brenda, some to do with me, some are for Mr Mason and I and some are for Mr Mason alone. I can’t remember which visitor it is but I know Brenda, thankfully, wasn’t there. The woman sat in the sitting room and was loving Lark who was loving her back and obviously decided she deserved to see one of her jewels. Lark’s jewels are the things she buries in her crate, hides in the baskets of clean washing or buries in the garden. The woman merited one of her highest jewels. one from the garden. Mr Mason and I are in the kitchen making tea and so forth when we hear a cry “Your dog has just put a dead bird in my lap!” Amazingly, she does not have a fit or crawl behind the sofa but when Lark sees we approach with the intention of removing her jewel, Lark snatches it back and tries to bury it in her crate in the hope we won’t see it. Ha! Sometimes we are smarter than a dog and the small bird, presumably killed by Freya, is removed and given a swift burial in the garden recycling bin. Lark sulks for approximately 10 seconds and then is loving the visitor again.
Our second bird story involves Jan, our cleaning lady who has has a few shocks with the dogs in the house (remember the time Lark ate the conservatory blinds when Jan was in charge?). Mr Mason and I had gone to see Brenda and when we got back, Jan was quite twitchy. “We’ve got a bit of a problem” she said and then proceded to tell us that she had heard a noise in the big sitting roon and thought there was someone in there. The layout of the house means that the thick walls stop sound carrying. From upstairs, you can’t make someone downstairs hear you (or so Mr Mason tells me). We cautiously opened the door to see chaos – china and pottery thrown about the place and 2 enormous crows in the room. One was still trying to crash through the windows and the other was lying on the ground, dead. We closed the door wondering how on earth we were going to get the live bird out. I had visions of being attacked if I tried to move the dead bird – Hitchcock all over again. The bottom windows don’t close and repeated battering of the top windows, even when open, had resulted in one dead crow. Of course, at this point our trusty ex-SAS gardener arrives and immediately takes control of the situation. He opens the front doors (which are double), stations Mr Mason at the bottom of the stairs so that the remaining bird won’t fly upstairs and shoos it out the front doors which is does as though trained for this moment. Mr Mason and the gardener set about cleaning up all traces of crow and another bird goes into the recycling bin. I bet the cats were kicking themselves for not ambushing birds trapped in their own house. The chimney breast gets stuffed with paper as far as it can and we hope we have no more visitors of that kind. Unless they get so far down, make a nest on the cardboard and then die of starvation…Hmm. I don’t think there’s an answer to this except to get some roofers to put cowls over the chimneypots.
You may have noticed that it’s been an age since I posted. Writing is one of the things I enjoy doing so it’s a shame I don’t get more of it done but one thing that prevents me is tiredness. You may relate to this. You’re sitting on tube after work or in bed after a long day and think you’ll just get a book out and have a look and before you know it, your eyes are closing and you’re breathing evenly and deeply, well on the way to sleep. It might sound strange but when I wake up, I’m well on my way to sleep. I spend quite a lot of the day trying to stay away. The oncologist says this is because I haven’t had a break from chemotherapy for nearly 2 years and it’s using up my reserves of energy. But I have noticed that I spend more days in bed these days – usually one or two – and the other days I have to go out, get some fresh air, walk around a bit, anything but lie in bed although it’s calling to be even now. Sometimes I’m writing and find my eyes are shut and my hands are still. but I can’t live my life asleep. So we go walking in the woods, trawl through antique shops and the 2 fabulous department stores nearby – Oldrids & D0wn Town and Eve and Ranshawe. The former sounds much more exciting than it is. The Down Town part is in an industrial estate on the fringes of the town and sells the lighting and obligatory furniture. I once went up to a desk to compliment them on a member of staff who had been exceptionally helpful and the two women behind the desk held up their handbags to ward off the evil spirits they thought I was bringing. The other department store, Eve and Ranshawe featured on a Mary Portas series on how to make your shop increase takings and how to find out which member of staff was really mucking the whole thing up by being a cow. Job done. Cow not seen since. My average waking day is around 6 to 8 hours although I do count resting hours in bed as sleeping, mostly because I can’t get comfortable downstairs and will definitely be asleep by 4, waking several hours later for a late supper. I’m hoping this is just a phase and that I’ll recover enough strength if I rest as much as possible, boring though it is.
So that’s the contorted and convoluted version of the last few weeks. I’ve left out loads, some deliberately and some by accident but I aim to write the next blog sooner. Night night. Yawn……zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Lovely to hear from you. We often talk about you and Mark, whilst paddling. We were back on the River Thames at Marlow, yesterday, following a long absence as the river has been on red alert all year! Following Eddy and Ciara’s move to Berkshire, and the arrival of baby Seren, it’s much easier for them if we paddle there. I find it preferable to paddling at Docklands – easier journey and the scenery is more pleasing. We are preparing for our third Vogalonga and feeling a little hesitant as we haven’t been on the water together, as much as we had hoped and Ciara has entered us into some races! We were thrashed as the Cookham Regatta in the autumn – racing is not our speciality! Karen and I are stroking this year, which make a change from being ‘the engine’.
Briefly met Janet and John last week. they were on their way to Devon, to ‘parent sit’ but we agreed that we would love to come and visit you and Mark, after Vogalonga – end of May early June?