Toads and lots of pain…

Today I got a wonderful email saying that my poem in One Hundred Memories will be illustrated. The original illustration will be mailed to me after the book launch.

This morning I was expecting the gardener to whom I gave my piano, to come and make some changes to my garden. I want some some of my gravelled area returned to flower bed so that I have less pots. While I was waiting, I started plant some bulbs and somehow lost my balance as I was peering into the far corner of a raised bed I made earlier this year, when I felt myself toppling over. I landed on my knee and my trousers were filthy so I went and had a shower. Simon and Stuart turned up some time later, and started weeding as I described where I wanted a triangle of flowerbed. Simon moved the cement mixing tray that I grow succulents on, and a toad was revealed. I was thrilled.

I went in to do work and terrible pain started in my left hand. I thought it was the cold at first, and then my left arm started to be painful. I excersised it but nothing changed, so eventually I took painkillers. I can still feel it, so will monitor it. I’m aware that I could hear the windchimes for the whole time I was outside, which causes me pain.

So now my path is clear of weeds, which I allow to grow to provide habitat for insects. They will soon grow back.

My damson tree and a climbing rose were planted.

I had another phone call for Quay Living. I asked who had given them my number. They would not give a name but provided enough information to tell me who it was. The police have been informed.

I’m no longer looking for places to move into. The apartment with the roof terrace has gone so nowhere else interests me and I love my home.

Pain, garden and anthologies…

I have to say that since I was told an attempt will be made to get my neighbours to take down the wind chimes, I have found that they cause me to be more on edge and more pain. I don’t know when it will happen, I will only be told afterwards.

I know this could be psychosomatic, but also the effects of the windchimes have been cumulative. I have managed so sow some seeds, and dead head some flowers. I cry out in pain, but the pleasure of my garden is a pull, even in this very cold weather. Tomorrow the gardener to whom I gave my piano is coming to put back some flower bed near the house. I won’t have so far to carry my watering can, but drought tolerant plants will be planted anyway.

I’m looking forward to this. I love designing flowerbeds, I like swathes of colour. I have mislaid my spring bulbs but hope to find them tomorrow. I have a lot of plants in bloom out of season, but although scary due to climate change, I’m enjoying them.

In twelve days One Hundred Memories, an anthology for the Alzheimer’s Society is launching. I am a contributor. It will be great to have a copy. I’ve been in several anthologies, but this will only be the third one of which I will own a copy.

Tips for expectant Mums

I believe this too. Except pink. But pink does suit me.

Today is cold. It’s supposed to feel like 7C out there (about 45 F) but it feels colder and the temperature is dropping. I realised I had forgotten to alter the heating timer as the clocks changed at the weekend. There’s always one thing I forget to change. And because I have a new duel fuel cooker, I have already discovered that I don’t know how to use the timer, so it will stay on British Summer Time unless I remember and get round to looking at the instructions.

Anyway, I have a couple of friends expecting babies so I thought I would share some tips on early motherhood, dispel some myths, and help to be a bit environmentally friendly.

Giving birth completely changes a woman’s body. It already changed radically by conceiving a baby. Hormones have raged and then settled.

So now, having given birth, your hormones will rage again. This is because your body is producing colostrum and breast milk, and is recovering from the hormone that equipped your body to push out a baby from a usually narrow passage. If you had a caesarian you will still feel the effects. Generally, this is a tendency to have tears fairly easily when normally you would not. The sight of your baby may make you tearful though you are really happy to have him or her. You may feel sensitive to comments from your partner, family or friends. You may find a midwife makes you tearful- they are all different and one may seem very supportive while another may be quite different. When I had my daughter there was a sister on the ante natal ward who was months away from retirement and had never had a child. I dreaded her coming in to my two bed room (for which I was very grateful). She seemed devoid of empathy.

You will get support in learning to hold your baby so they can latch on to the breast. Never worry that your baby will suffocate against your engorged breast, their noses are designed to prevent this. At first you may experience some pain. It just means baby is not latched on properly. You will feel discomfort in your tummy area. This is your uterus shrinking. Breastfeeding reduces the size of your enlarged womb.

Muslin cloths – I never got any and didn’t need any. Breast fed babies rarely sick up. You can use a clean tea towel, or pillowcase.

Changing tables – easier to use the floor with a changing mat or oil cloth. Then you can put all you need nearby and baby won’t fall to the floor.

Baby wipes – a no no. They are too strong for your baby’s skin. Use washable cotton cloth and water. Use a good baby cream, like Sudacreme, to prevent nappy rash. Don’t use a perfumed moisturiser, baby’s skin won’t like it.

What kind of nappies- that is your choice. Disposable ones take thousands of years to biodegrade. On the other hand sterilizing terry cloths pollutes. There may be a nappy service in your area which will collect a certain type of nappy and deliver them back, laundered.

Bathing – just use warm water and let it run over baby’s head with your hand. Baby won’t be dirty so keep it short.

Talcum powder – No no. Babies inhale it and get asthma.

You don’t actually need a baby bath. A clean bathroom basin or sink is fine.

If you get sore or cracked nipples don’t use ointment. Wear something loose and let the air heal them.

If you decide to express breast milk you don’t need a sterilizer. Drop your breast pump and bottle into a large ice cream container or a bucket with boiling water and a Milton’s tablet.

Buy a bamboo hairbrush with very soft bristles. Get a bamboo toothbrush with soft bristles. Baby will enjoy the soft sensation on his head. After two months or so, start to brush baby’s gums. Tooth hygiene starts before teeth appear.

Baby monitor – I never used one. If baby cries you are going to hear it. If baby wakes, he can wait until you go to him.

Nap while your baby sleeps. You will get very tired.

You can sleep with baby unless you are drunk. My daughter slept on my chest a lot.

On their tummy is OK. If your baby gets colic, laying them on their tummy lets the warmth relax their stomach. I used to rub my baby’s tummy but she never had colic.

Winding – whatever suits you. At your shoulder, laid on your lap, or sitting baby on your lap leaning over your hand, and rubbing their back.

Don’t rock baby to sleep – this will make a rod for your back. Start a go to sleep routine early. It may be singing lullabies, and laying them their cot and putting on music before you leave.

Nightlight – I never used one.

Pacifier – I never used one. They ruin a child’s teeth.

The best you can do for your baby is love and cuddle them. This develops their brain.

Your hormones will take a year to settle down. You will not go to the toilet alone for two years. It’s all worth it though

Still grateful…

I found another paragraph I wrote five years ago. It was a year of stresses, as my daughter sat major exams and I had to have the ceiling in her bedroom replaced.

I am grateful for those people who I do not know personally who always return my smile. In the street, or a store, a garage etc. I am grateful for the help of strangers at times when I have needed an ambulance, a phone call made, an extra penny, directions or a bed to sleep in.
I am grateful for the wonderful people who help care for my Dad. They help give me peace of mind and hug me when I have tears.
I am grateful for my GP. He is one in several million and has taken the time to understand the rare disease that has caused so much distress. He is always compassionate, understanding and helpful.
I am grateful for certain people who know who they are who have been there for me in times of breakdown, grief, heartbreak and anguish. They have my unconditional friendship.

Today I went out for some air and odds and ends. I happened to drop a loaf of bread. One lady stopped to tell me I had dropped it and gave me advice, another lady picked it up for me. You can guess who I felt gratitude towards.

I’m very grateful that Ebsworth did not stay. I only saw brief glimpses of the man I’d begun to fall for, but that man was kind and thoughtful and showed me a lot of kindness. I’ll always be grateful for that. I was vulnerable after my Dad died and stricken by the death of my sister, and then my beloved dog a week later. Although, conflicting, is that he was able to sexually assault me. I wish I’d never withdrawn the complaint.

Some good news….

I forgive many times, but I won’t have fake friends…



Yesterday I had a visit from two people who may well be able to sort out the problem with the wind chimes. I had a very positive meeting with these people and I feel an optimism that some other things will be sorted out too. I will say more about this in due time.

Quay Living, the letting agent for next door, have some how given out my number, so I have had a total of fifteen answered calls from their clients and several missed ones. This is very odd indeed, and if our numbers were similar, or it was any other entity in the town I would not suspect anything. It is now with the police.

The skin irritation that alerted me to the side effects of my medicine has come back. Again. Every time I think it is gone, it just slyly starts to reappear. I am treating it with the ointment, which came in a generous amount, but every time I feel a tiny bump on my skin anywhere on my body, I get paranoid that the irritation has spread. I will need to phone my doctor for advice. I feel uncomfortable with this paranoia. I need it to end.

I had another good night of sleep last night. I cannot emphasise enough how important good sleep is. When my daughter was a baby, I napped whenever she did. Housework will always be there and it’s amazing what can be done with a baby on one’s hip. It’s no good depriving oneself of sleep when so many other factors steal it anyway. So I’ve overall been feeling good, and more able to cope with stresses.

I planted up a large planter in September. I put in an odd mixture of plants because at the time I had nowhere else to put them. Now I have violets and wild strawberries in bloom and poppies in bud. It’s most odd. It’s climate change. Next week the gardener to whom I gave my piano is coming to make some changes in my garden. I’m looking forward to that.

I’ve embedded my sound cloud page here now. Just sharing the link gave some problems, I’m not at all technical. Although yesterday I was able to pass on some of the little knowledge that I do have.

On Gratitude…

Today I had occasion to visit facebook, and in my notifications was a prompt to look at memories. I found this:

I am deeply grateful for my Dad. A gentle man who can mix which rich and poor and not be changed, who taught me manners and right from wrong, who has given me hours and days of laughter and hiking, who carried me when I was so near to death and wept for my suffering. A man who has stood for something all his life and taught me to stand and be counted. My Dad has my undying love and admiration. He is my only hero.
I am truly grateful for grace. Perhaps not everyone will understand. Grace has kept me strong, been a source of mercy and sustenance and will help me in the difficult times ahead. Grace has renewed me when I have reached the end of me, and made relationships endure.
I am grateful for my daughter Lara who is an amazing person. She is to me like a fragrance, refreshing and attractive in essence as well as looks. She has so many talents, is well loved by many and will go on to many more wonderful things. I feel such a feeling as her abilities far exceed my own in so many talents of sport, dance, charisma, hiking, leadership, choreography and pure presence. She has achieved more in her 16 years than some bother to try in a lifetime, despite some difficult circumstances that were beyond our control and my declining health. It’s a privilege to know her, let alone to be her mother.

This is still true today. My Dad is my plumb line in almost everything I do, the one difference is that he was in the S.A.S and I belong to CND and lots of other anti-weapon and anti-war movements. I’m so grateful he was my Dad.

Last night I had the most deep and recooperating sleep. I was dreadfully tired Wednesday and slept from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. Then I had difficulty getting to sleep later and did not sleep until after 8am.

Yesterday I got a second wind and popped out while the sun was shining. I ate good dinner and then scoffed a pack of brioche rolls. I went to bed at 9.30 and woke at just around 8am this morning. I felt great, and as the only appointment I had today was not until after lunch, I went back to sleep for a while.

My medicine always makes me very thirsty, so I keep two glasses of mango and apple cordial beside my bed, and as I work from my bedroom it keeps my thirst slaked all day.

Physically tired…

The last couple of days I’ve been out to meet friends and have done some planting in my garden. I’m thrilled, because on Monday morning a chaffinch was in my greengage tree. He had found the nesting box, and was trying to reach the bird feeder, but was a little too shy to come so close to me. Later the birdfeeder was empty which thrilled me as for 10 weeks there have been no birds in my garden since my neighbours destroyed the bird cover. This one had come from the other direction. He made my day.

Yesterday, I went to the hairdresser. I had left it for a while as last time I had too many layers cut into my hair which meant my hair curled. Medicine has altered my hair, which is a real blow to my self esteem. So yesterday I had it lightly trimmed for the length, and the shape tidied up. I had my fringe cut again, as I haven’t had one for about a year or so. I feel myself again, hair wise. It feels good.

When I got home, I did a bit more planting and then had a warm shower. The day was unusually warm and I felt exhausted. So I’m going to take a nap now, as I also have pain from the wind chimes.

About who I wanted to be…

I’ve written about what I have done with my life, but that is not what I set out to do. I never thought I would become a psychologist or work with an NGO. This all came from the cloth that was cut for me.

At school I did very well in English, French, and German. Despite having had German as my first language, because I was teased at school, both my sister and I did not want to speak German at home. I wish my mother had continued to speak German to us, even if we had replied in English. (I used to speak to my daughter in German when she was tiny and sing to her German lullabies and nursery rhymes.)

I loved learning and using languages. I was ‘top’ of the class in French and occasionally knocked to number two by the friend I sat with. We would pass notes in French between us. This often led to her collapsing in giggles, while I, having a dry sense of humour, would perhaps smile. It caused some quick thinking to give a reason for her giggles but sometimes she was able to turn it into coughing.

My rival at German, was a boy who also had a German mother, and his parents were loosely acquainted with mine. He was a little big headed but although he would never admit it, he was somewhat protective of me as I was the subject of much teasing and ridicule after my brain surgeries, because of my appearance.

So I was very shocked when my mother refused to let me stay to do Sixth Form ‘A’ level English French and German. My sister had done Sixth Form at college where she did a pre-nursing course and went on to fulfil hr dream of becoming nurse.

I had dreamt of going on to do a degree in modern languages and become a translator, maybe with the Foreign Office or a holiday rep overseas, or possibly teach ‘A’ level languages.

My mother told me I had to get a ‘profession’, a paid job, as she was not going to support me through two more years of school. I was devastated. A profession would need sixth form at least. So I found a job at the Head Office of an international branch of a well known bank, and put myself through college one day a week. It was Business Studies, but got me an HND, even if it was a long way from my ambition.

Day-release at college is no easy ride. You do the same amount of work as a full time course. Many in my class did not return for the second year. It was hard work. I remember once I fell asleep at my desk, and woke to find my face on my work book, the lecturer saying my name and apart from that dead silence. The lecturer was not compassionate, but making jokes about me. I didn’t care, though I was embarrassed. If I had to burn the candle at both ends, I was determined to get the qualification.

One of the guys with whom I worked, would sometimes let me crib his homework when I’d struggled with maths. I have a phobia around maths, as I was once good at it, and after missing two and a half years of school while I was very very ill, had brain surgeries, and some recovery, I was put back in the top set. Of course, I struggled and failed and was utterly humiliated. To this day I can’t do anything except the most basic maths in front of another person without anxiety, stress and mistakes.

After I had worked at the bank for four years, I decided to go and work with an NGO that a housemate had gone to. This would be my work for three years, visiting five countries and seeing unnecessary poetry, disease and death. I was also involved with pastoral care for those around me, and felt a degree of frustration in my ability to give the right support. Then I heard about an opportunity in southern California, where I could attend lectures at USC and after certain amount of time and enough credits, would be able to work with a certified recovery programme. This was in Alta Loma, where by weird coincidence one of my great poet contacts lives, Frank Mundo. He believes in me as a writer and poet, and he rocks.

So that is how I came to be a psychologist. I discovered I had enough credits to have gone half way though a Masters when the accredited link with the place I was working at folded, but by looking for a tutor I was able to write my Doctorate.

During this time I was a counsellor, and an assistant house-parent. I loved it when I was de-facto houseparent especially, as I could feel the love of the people I was responsible for. They would change the oil in my car for me, they would like it if I was on meal prep with them. And some of them would always come to sit where I was, whether in the house or outside. When I was assistant or deputy, I would take a group to have frozen yoghurt, or to the video/DVD rental shop. I would organise car washes to raise money for someone who had a particular need, or to buy sports equipment for the house. I was always on the lookout for fun recreational activity that would not be to competitive individually. When you are responsible for people recovering from addiction, PTSD, people with various mental illness diagnoses, there is need to stay with team sports. I was very dismayed when I played baseball for the first time, having loved rounders, that the diamond was gritted, not grass, and my sneakers were not suitable and I slipped.

There are people who still stay with me. A man who was silent and had frozen his fingers off because of his shame of masturbating. A recovering alcoholic who asked me to go with him to an AA meeting and I said he should go alone. A woman who walked into the kitchen, announced she had taken 40 tablets and was going to to lie down. I told her no, put salt in a glass, added water, made her drink it, and go 2 of the most reliable residents to walk her around the garden while I phoned the Sheriff. Another woman would eat a pack of 12 bagels in the night and then be in agony because she did not purge. We had to have a lock put on the food store and make sure the fridges did not contain anything she could binge on. Locking them was not a good option as the climate is so hot and dry and cold drinks needed to be available.

I have a memory of coming to the house and finding the original houseparent talking to a bathroom door, saying ‘if you want to commit suicide, go somewhere else’. I emptied the drawers of kitchen knives, and hid them in our hiding place.

There were occasions when I had to wing it. Two kids set a fire in the garden. I thought I heard rain, but it was 10 ft flames. I had to call the fire service and organise the most mentally able to soak the lawn between the house and fire with a hose in the hope of containing the fire until the truck arrived.

I had a tiny office which was really a walk in closet. When things got on top of me I would go and sit on the floor with the door shut. I would breathe deep and slow, and pray. I would pray for inner peace, pray for each of those in my care, I would pray for wisdom, I would ask the Holy Spirit to come into the house.

More Neruda…

Image may contain: sky, outdoor, water and nature

·  Tonight I Can Write by Pablo Neruda

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, ‘The night is starry…
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.See more

Looking forwards…

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the last few weeks I have found myself looking at property in the nearby towns. I found a wonderful apartment with a South facing balcony looking toward the beach. The trouble is one has to go up an external flight of stairs, and then some internal steps to access it. This would be difficult with shopping. And there would be nowhere to charge my trolley. I would be nearer to some friends, further away from others, but could get to more poetry events and other gigs more easily.

This desire is what we would term a ‘geographical’- moving in order to change ones life when in fact one’s life goes there too. Wherever you go, there you are.

I have been feeling like this because of the wind chimes that are so badly affecting my health. I have been in so much pain that I literally jump when there is a spike of pain. And I wince, which is hard to hide. My neighbours are very unpleasant people as they know I am caused pain. Their letting agent couldn’t care less as they have a low opinion of me because of the malicious lies told by the female previous tenant. If only I had not dropped my complaint to the police about Ebsworth’s sexual assaults. I would never have fallen for him.

He said to me recently ‘we have nothing in common’. We do. We had a relationship that was mainly each other’s company and very little intimacy. We talked, we laughed, we enjoyed each other. And then he and the person he shares an address with did a geographical.

I will not be moving. My home is filled with memories and I still need to keep sorting through my late sister’s possessions and my Dad’s possessions. It’s hard to let go, but in the end they are only things. I will continue to sell and take items to charity shops.

It’s hard being the last of my nuclear family which I grew up in. I would give so much to go back in time, but that kind of think achieves nothing. When ever I am writing and I have a brown bang of nuts and dried fruit in my line of vision, I think it is my dog. It’s a continual reminder of him.

Ebsworth threw his family away. His Dad won’t speak to him because he has told stories about himself that happened to his brother, and because he left a long term relationship to be with malice. He gave his dog, Sprock. He’s not sure if his brother has a child. He does. Her name is Ruby.

How does someone just give up one’s roots? I feel rootless, having lived in so many places, but I have loved my family and been there with them when they needed me. I have supported my cousin who lives at the other end of the country. We are in close touch.

I don’t know what will happen about my health. If the wind chimes don’t come down soon, I can’t imagine my future. The pain and the medicine I take alter who I am. I become irritable and short tempered, and sometimes appear rude. I hate this. I am not that person. It shows how much the environment can affect a person. And medicinal chemicals acting on the brain. Some of you may remember my rash on my face in the summer. That’s what caused me to look at the information sheet in the box, It was a side effect together with aggression. (I was never aggressive, just said very odd things that made my friends wonder if I was O.K.

So I continue on this journey with my diagnoses, and be as brave as I can. I know a lot of people care about me. I wish that many of them weren’t on other continents.

The press got me nowhere. They didn’t mention my petition and the lack of background information made me sound like a whinging woman. I have lodged a complaint.