Monthly Archives: September 2021

A Post that took a Week to Write

I’m not sure whether to be happy or sad. Even after thinking about it for a week I’m not sure.

Last  Sunday we laid my parents’ ashes to rest in a  Lancashire churchyard. On the day I was glad that the weather was good, my knee held up and my 91-year-old uncle was well enough to be there. Since then, I have been thinking, and suffering mixed feelings.

They wanted their ashes to be together, and as they were married over sixty years that seemed fair enough. When I agreed to it, I hadn’t really assessed all the implications. My sister, for instance, has been looking after mum’s ashes for the last five years, which has always felt slightly uncomfortable. Dad died about 18 months ago and we have been waiting for a convenient time to meet, allowing for the various problems with lockdown. We were going to meet a couple of weeks ago but both my uncle and I were ill, so we postponed it.

They are in the churchyard in Chatburn. It’s next to the school where they met, and it’s the church where they married in 1952. The vicar officiated, and it felt serious enough, without being overly formal. This was particularly true when the vicar found the second set of ashes to be significantly heavier than the first and my uncle remarked, “That’ll be our Jim.”

The black stone on the right is the grave of my great-grandmother and great-grandfather. One of my aunts is also buried there and their son Bill is commemorated on the stone, although he is buried near Ypres. You can see it from the front in this post.

One day I should research the family history of the churchyard. I know I have at least three great grandparents buried there, two aunts, a cousin and now two parents. I’m sure there are more but I have to admit that I have never researched it or kept track of the fate of modern ashes.

It was a great day from the point of weather and views and the sense of a task completed. However, it was also sad, and raised some questions in my mind about the wisdom of delaying such things. I wouldn’t mind being buried with Julia, but I’m now wondering how fair it is on the people who have to carry out these wishes, as it does prolong the sadness. In the week leading up to the ceremony I did feel a lot of the same feelings that I had done in the week before the funerals.

On balance, I’m glad we did it the way we did, but times change and I’m going to have to think things through regarding my own ashes.

Julia’s dad had the right idea, I think. The neighbours planted a cherry tree as a present for Julia’s mum when she retired from volunteering in the village. One night after she died, Julia’s dad buried her ashes under the tree. Later, after several moves, he died, and the family was able to sneak out under cover of darkness and bury his ashes under the same tree. They are together, but there wasn’t the element of delayed sorrow I had with mum and dad.

Meanwhile, if you are ever in Chatburn, and you might be one day if you ever feel the urge to visit Pendle Hill, do call at the Brown Cow for lunch. I had the best steak pudding I’ve ever had and my sister’s cheese and onion pie looked excellent.

The church. Another uncle Bill is on the war memorial. He never lived in the village but my aunt did and had his name put there.  He is also listed on the West Witton war memorial, where he lived for some years with his grandparents. If you research memorials you will often find cases like this.

They are now buried in the walled off section at the bottom of the churchyard and are, as the vicar said, part of the history of the village. If you look across the Ribble Valley the hills you see in the distance are the Forest of Bowland. If you could see over the ridge you would see Slaidburn, a village we have already visited in the blog.

A Pleasant Surprise, a Haibun and another Senior Moment

Today, the 19th of September 2021, I had  pleasant surprise. I opened up Drifting Sands Haibun and found my haibun on the front page. I added the date because it will change over time. We are due for a new issue soon and it will change. But for a short while, I was there. Forgive my unseemly glee, but after being accepted a number of times it is difficult to set a new target, and getting to the front page of Drifting Sands was one that I had set myself.

For those of you reading this too late to see it on the front page, you can try here. Don’t get too excited, I think I posted the link before. It’s just the one about the crow and the ants.

Now, I know you are all wondering what I have done in the matter of Senior Moments. Well, some months ago, I had trouble with my emails, and nearly missed some emails from an editor. We managed to sort that out, but didn’t actually find the cause. Last week I finally started looking at my submission diary (remember I have been ill/lazy for a month) and realised that I should have had some contact from editors. I checked up and found that I had a haiku in a magazine. This was a surprise, but more evidence of the fact that I wasn’t getting emails, or I would have known it was being published.

This set up a panic reaction, because I don’t want to miss the chance of publication, or have editors think that I am rude or inefficient. I am both, but I don’t want people to think it . . .

I have just spent my afternoon writing to the editors who may have emailed me, explaining what happened. It’s a tricky email to write (three times) because there is always the chance that they may not have thought me worth responding to.

Earlier in the week I started to realise what I had done but, prodding around with my email controls in an unstructured and ill-informed way, managed to make it worse. Anyway, I have finally found the answer and corrected it.

I had reset my spam controls a couple of months ago to block a particularly irritating advertiser. In doing so, I had also added gmail to my list of blocked domains. This was clearly a bad move. However, it is unblocked now, explanations have been sent and I am a wiser man.

 

 

The Middle of the Night

I felt tired, so I fell asleep in my chair.  This is a bad thing to do, for many reasons. I then woke and went to get the pain killers from my desk. I still need them to get a good night’s sleep. While I was there I noticed the computer was on, so sat down and had a look at my emails. Over an hour later, I am still here and am now writing a blog post. This, if you needed any further evidence, demonstrates the deeply ingrained nature of my bad habits.

The good news is that my leg is looking good and it is likely that I will be released from the grip of the nurses in about two weeks if things continue as they are.  They are all nice people, and I enjoy our chats, but it will be nice to get my life back.

My diet is not going quite as well as it was, as Julia is intent on making sure I eat properly (by which she means “more”) and I want to eat as little as possible. I have definitely cut back, but the quicker I lose it, the sooner I can start to enjoy the benefits of being lighter. I’m never going to be slender, but it would be nice to lose weight.

The downside (there always has to be a downside) is that my trousers are now too big for me and I need to get a better belt or start moving the buttons on the waistband. It’s not a bad problem to have, but it does show the advantage of elasticated waistbands. If I lose weight I may go back to Chinos and elasticated waistbands.

The header picture is the pond that inspired one of my haibun. Lavinia mentioned it in the comments so I thought it was good opportunity to re-use the picture.

Getting Better

Sorry, I’ve not been keeping up for the last few days, and have a let another deadline pass. It’s about time to get back into the swing of things but I’m going to do it in a relaxed manner. Sunday involved five hours of driving, which I don’t find as easy as I used to do, and tomorrow is going to be my first full day back at work.

Fortunately I have managed to sort of the knee problem myself. Originally I had to wait until Friday for my telephone physio appointment, so I decided I had better do something about it myself, as I couldn’t take another week of it. I’ve had a similar problem before and all the evidence was pointing to the problem being caused by having my leg elevated, even though I was being very careful to avoid straining my knee. The second part of the problem was that I couldn’t get into a decent position to push myself up, which was also putting strain on the knee.

This was easily solved. I removed the makeshift footstool and rested my foot on a rolled towel on the ground. This seemed to give me the most comfortable position to sit. It also allowed me to use the cushion from the footstool to raise my sitting position and to get a good straight push on the chair arms fro standing.

That evening I noticed a difference and two days later that part of the problem is nearly gone. I have not had the knee brace on since Sunday, which is even better news.

All this is made even better by the news that my physio “appointment” has been moved back to Friday 24th. I still have plenty to discuss but I won’t be in pain for the next two weeks as I wait.

The featured image is the one of gold-plated Buffalo Nickels that we had a complaint about several weeks ago. We supplied the customer with coins which were exactly as described, and the owner even agreed to a discount as he was taking them all. When he complained we said he was free to return them if he wasn’t happy. This was despite the fact were had done nothing wrong. He didn’t return them and instead gave us negative feedback, which is annoying. Someone else has also given us a negative because the post is taking a long time. This is not our fault, but he has decided it is. You can tell I’m getting better when I start talking about the evils of letting idiots bid on eBay.

 

Random Jottings

I’m not quite ready to report on Sunday in its entirety, though I will get round to it in a day or two.

The driving went OK, helped considerably by a knee brace. I suffered a little last night, but the knee recovered as I slept and wasn’t too bad today.

Had my dressing changed this morning and progress is looking good – new skin forming and I’m hopeful that another week should see things just about healed.

Then I had a pneumonia vaccination, which was a surprise, as I didn’t think I could have one until I was 65. It’s always nice to get something for nothing.

Went to work and did another half day without a problem. Planning to do full days on Thursday and Saturday.The return to work is going quite well.

Adjusted my seating arrangements at home. I’m no longer putting my leg up, but this puts less strain on my knee, so it’s a good trade off. I have a telephone consultation booked with a physiotherapist on Friday to discuss this further.

The return to writing is not progressing quite as well as I had hoped, but it is progressing, even if it is very slow.

Asked my uncle about the day the school was bombed when I saw him on Sunday. It had occurred to me that although I knew my Mum had been there, my uncle and one of my aunts must also have been there. He was there, so I have another note to add to the family history.

Number One son reports that he is a little stiff from doing the Great North Run yesterday and that his time was in the top 5.000. As I’m a little stiff from just sitting in the car, I wouldn’t mind swapping with him. I’d be happy to be in the first 50,000.

Tried a few photos when I got home, but mostly blurred by a mix of wind and poor photography.

Teasel

 

 

Return to Work and Another Senior Moment

I went back to work yesterday after having my dressings changed. You can tell I’m going to the doctor too often because the receptionist just shouted across “Take a seat Mr Wilson, I’ll book you in.” to save me walking to the desk and back.

Everything is healing well. I have a selection of photographs showing the development of the problem, followed by the progress towards healing, but I think this probably falls in the area known as “over-sharing”.

At work I lost my camera cable. I know I had it when I arrived because I had it in my hands. Then it disappeared. For three hours I looked for it, worried about it and muttered. Eventually, as we left, Eddie said “Simon, what’s that hanging round your neck?”

It was the camera cable, in a safe place, and hidden by my lockdown beard. I really do need a trim.

Unfortunately, my knee was quite tender so, to ensure more comfortable driving experience, I bought myself a knee brace. I am currently having a free month on Amazon Prime and was able to order it with free next day delivery. I’m wearing it now and it is doing some good. I’m going to try a new route tomorrow, using as much motorway as possible. It’s another stage in the aging process – making sure you know where the toilets are.

Today, having heeded the warnings of my doctor when discussing my return to work, I got up and moved about more. As a result I feel much better. I’m aiming to do full days on Thursday and Saturday next week, so I was pleased today went better than yesterday. I’m aiming to be fully fit and back at work full time in two weeks, so am keeping my fingers crossed.

Back to work, fully fit and free from senior moments may take a little more work.

As I wrote that line, one of the neighbours brought us some figs off her tree, so I re-used the picture from last year. I’m quite fond of figs.

Overdoing it

Yes, you guessed. After weeks of sitting with my leg elevated, I finally, after a week of building up to it, managed to overdo things. After my haircut and shopping I spent the rest of the day gradually deteriorating as my knee stiffened and my leg throbbed. Maybe “Back to Normal” was a bit optimistic. Just one more day on the zig zag of recovery.

It’s at times like this that you appreciate the magic of WP. I’ve been reading about Captain Moonlight, dining out and the Dave Clark Five over the last few days. Life would be a much poorer place without this ability. I don’t use the internet in the living room these days, as |I’m trying to restore the art of conversation (which is basically me talking while Julia grunts and uses her laptop. To be fair, she does take her work seriously, and does do a lot of planning, even though the general culture of the organisation is to take the money and do as little as possible.  I won’t go on, but as I watch her fill out forms, do training and plan sessions for hours every evening, I do a lot of thinking about the unfairness of life.

I’m going to go to the doctor soon, then will go to work for the first time in just over three weeks. I have grown lazy over that time. It hasn’t been like lockdown where I had plenty of time to do things – most of the time was spent sitting down like a vegetable, unable to concentrate for more than a few minutes at a time.  Four pages of a book has been a struggle.

In the last week things have improved and I’ve been writing again, though I haven’t actually typed or submitted anything. Good news is that I just had a haibun accepted, so things are still working their way through the system. I am able to write, but so far haven’t typed much. I’m going to have to start the whole, dull, copy typing process again if I’m going to get back to making regular submissions. I need to get a couple of submissions knocked into shape as the end date for two magazines is 15th of this month – five days is cutting it fine even by my standards.

Generally, despite the up and down nature of my recovery the week has been a positive one and I’m better now than I was when I started. Even yesterday was a positive, despite the knee pain – it was me that caused the pain by trying too much. My immune system just keeps chugging along and healing as fast as it can.

Back to Normal

I went for a haircut today.  Julia’s orders. Because of my lack of dress sense she’s keen on my looking as tidy as possible in case someone mistakes me fora tramp. I was going to do my own hair (it hasn’t been done since the start of lockdown) but it can be tricky getting it right so I agreed. I haven’t actually had my hair cut by anyone else for about ten or twelve years, when I had it done on a whim while was in the barber with the kids. For some reason they would never let me cut their hair.  The time before that was about 25 years ago. It’s saved me a fortune. Anyway, after enduring a conversation that hasn’t changed a lot in the last 25 years (despite the fact it’s a different barber from the one that did my hair in that shop 25 years ago), I was then charged a price that hasn’t changed a lot in the last 25 years. To be honest, I may start going there regularly as it’s so much tidier when someone else does it. And I had my eyebrows touched up. That’s when you know you are getting old.

The nurse who took my blood this morning is the mother of a kid who went all the way through school with my kids. He joined the army when he left school, went to work on cruise ships and liked the sea so much he’s now joined the Royal Navy. Quite an adventurous life so far. It was nice to catch up.

I also went shopping. They ask you to be considerate to their staff by wearing a mask (and most people do). Sadly, two of their staff and a security guard couldn’t be bothered to wear a mask. Makes you wonder why you bother. Also makes me wonder what message they think they are sending.

I’m now going to think about trimming my beard. If I’m careful I can tidy it enough to satisfy Julia whilst leaving it long enough to scare small children.

Oh, the shopping? I bought her some flowers. And a quiche. I’m back at work tomorrow and I fancy a slice of quiche.  also bought steak. I’m going to cook tonight. Baked potato, steak, salad. Looks good, virtually no effort. That’s my sort of cookery.

Zig Zag

If yesterday was a zig on the zig zag road to recovery (think of one of those cartoon-style graphs as you read,) today is a bit of a  zag. It’s not bad, but I’m definitely not as perky today. OK, I’m not generally known for being “perky” at the best of times, but I use the term comparatively.

Considering that three weeks ago I wasn’t entirely sure who I was, and that two weeks ago I was a festering wreck, I’m not doing badly. Most of my faculties are back, my walking is back to where it was and although I have to sit with my leg up, I’m nearly back to the state of imperfect health where you normally find me.

Nothing brings this home as much as a nurse saying they will have to “do something” about something you regard as being perfectly normal. They love tinkering, do nurses and, unlike doctors they never take no for an answer. I discussed the statin question with a doctor and they told me that even where cholesterol is good they like to put certain people on them as it might help. I looked at the figures on the NHS website – yes, they reduce your percentage chance of having a stroke or heart attack. By a couple of percent. What they don’t tell you is the chance of them interacting with other medication. or it being something else for the pharmacy to get wrong. We have agreed that I won’t take them. I will look at my diet again and see if I can lower the level that is causing concern.

Yesterday in the surgery I was listening to people being told that they couldn’t have liver function tests because we don’t have enough blood tubes. Only about a year ago they stopped prescribing my arthritis medication because I was behind with my testing. Double standards, or what?

Road to Recovery

As part of the process of hardening myself off to get back to work I set myself a 30 minute target on the computer this morning. I have already had breakfast, been to have my dressing changed and had a drive in the country.

After waiting for the computer to start, checking emails, reading a the headlines and checking comments, I now have 17 minutes left to either read blogs or write one. As I haven’t been writing many posts recently I thought it was time to write again.

Medical news is that I am much better, the leg is definitely healing, the swab showed only normal bacteria, my weight is decreasing and everything is returning to normal. Coming downstairs this morning after another good night’s sleep I really felt wonderful. By the time I got halfway down the stairs my legs were feeling a bit heavier, and things weren’t quite so rosy, but it was still good.

There were butterflies on the shrubbery at the surgery – a Speckled Wood and a Meadow brown, which was good as I have struggled to see anything other than whites this year. The front garden is still full of bees and hoverflies, though deficient in butterflies.

I’m currently concentrating on nature haiku and am having to write about what I see from the house windows, so it was good to get out for a drive after seeing the nurse.

Talking of which – I let several deadlines slip by in the last couple of weeks, but if you aren’t feeling 100% is it worth putting out substandard work? I decided not. I did have some bits I could have sent, but the filing system is a little chaotic and there was a risk of sending things out that I’ve already sent elsewhere.

As I have recovered I have been writing more, but haven’t typed a lot, which is also something I need to take in hand. In the next few days I’m hoping to send some submissions out, which will be a sign that I’m back to normal.

Sorry it’s a bit rambling, but as it’s not unusual, the only excuse is poor focus. This is one thing  can’t blame the illness for.

Picture is a Speckled Wood from about this time last year.

My timer just went, by the time I have added tags etc I will have done about 35 minutes on the computer. It’s a start.