Thursday, 24 August 2006

Jumbled Answers

I really thought I had outwitted Blogger and got it right.
Part 1 gives answers to Qs 1, 2 and 3.
Then scrolling down gives you Part 3 with answers to Qs 5 and 6
Part 2 Q4 comes after Part 4 Q7.
Now I hope it is not just me who is confused.

Ta Dah ! ... Answers at last - Part 1

Ages ago I asked how I could have done some things in my life, and invited inventive answers. Thank you Blogging Mone and Charles for your stupendous efforts !

Since setting the quiz, Blogger has been a nuisance in not always letting me add the pictures as I composed the answers, so this has taken days and days. Here at last are the answers, posted in episodes to thwart Blogger. This is part 1 of 4. Please scroll down to the rest of the episodes.

Question 1 ~ I stroked a Polar Bear

( This picture is not the same stuffed Polar Bear that I stroked when I was small.

How 'my' Polar Bear got to Sheffield City Museum via the taxidermist, I do not know.

It was very big and not all white but tinged with yellow. Its mouth was closed, so it had probably lost all its teeth. It felt sad.

So I stroked it. My aunt lived close to the Museum, so I visited it, and stroked it, whenever I could, because no-one else seemed to.

Question 2 ~ I tobogganed clouds

A sleigh is not a sledge and a sledge is not a toboggan. This is a sledge:
In descending order of comfort, a sleigh is sprung and high off the ground, cushioned from bumps and generally pulled along on flat ground by horses (or Rudolph). A sledge is what I progressed to, from the highly unsatisfactory, not to say dangerous, tin tea tray. I was only small, the tin tea tray was smaller. That was the hard winter of 1960. A sledge is designed for whooshing down snowy slopes, avoiding humps and bumps were possible, which results in spillage of passengers.

A toboggan is flat on the ground, bumps and all, which is why a Microlight Aircraft is said to be tobogganing clouds.

Many years ago I was offered a ride in a microlight aircraft by its owner who was an RAF test pilot. How could I refuse the ride of a lifetime. The seat was small; the pilot owner instructed me "don't touch that, that's the fuel cut off; don't touch that, you'll detach the wings; if you want to hold onto anything, hold onto me" !

A summer evening, low cloud, still air. Using the turbulence caused by the clouds for lift; swooping up, just as a toboggan would go bouncing over bumps and hummocks hiding under the snow.

Although I had experienced turbulence in airplanes, I did not know
that those white fluffy clouds have a density (pressure?) that cannot
be got through by microlights, where the pilot and passenger are
sat in open seats breathing the same air as the birds.

So in order to go up through low cloud the pilot had to find a hole in the clouds and once above the cloud base, the pilot had no idea where we were. To come back down, after tobogganing the clouds, we had to find a hole in the clouds to go back through, then visually get our bearings; by peering down to the ground ! Coming down was a whole lifetime of fear worse than going up. Going up, you are looking up and it is beautiful. Coming down, you are looking down and it is not good. In the top picture I am sat behind the pilot, in helmet and goggles. In the bottom picture, in the centre, I am describing how I had left my stomach behind in the clouds.

This picture, taken while I was at College, is irrelevant, but was scanned to my laptop together with the next picture, which is relevant, and is inseperable until I can find the originals and do them seperately.

If nothing else, it proves I was once young. I am so much changed, being older, that it cannot possible identify me now.

Back to ... Question 3 ~ I drilled for oil.

Drilling for oil, well not quite, but operating the working scale model of the newly invented automatic drill bit replacement mechanism at the Offshore Oil International Exhibition at Olympia in London, in the early 1970s. Before this invention, digits, limbs and lives were lost in oil exploration. This bit of kit is common-place now.

Another bit of kit from this era was the telex machine. This picture from, not from my album.

I had a varied job as PA to the Directors of a firm of Oil Contract
Consortium Leaders, in swish offices across the road from Westminster Abbey and one aspect of my work was to operate the Telex machine. From the 1930s to 1970s, in the days before fax machines and the internet, telex was the only alternative to slow letters or expensive international phone calls. Telex machines had a mechanical keyboard to record on paper tape communications sent by telegraphy at about 60 words per minute. Real time two way conversations took place via the receiving telex operator. I took dictation at the keyboard, and typed questions and answers between my Directors, or their Saudi, Iranian or Geordie colleagues, to partner organisations all over the world.

Answers to How and Where - Part 3

Question 5 ~ I had an Anchorite's vision.

Julian of Norwich circa 13342-1413.
The greatest English mystic, occupied a cell adjoining the church dedicated to Julian in Norwich, as an Anchoress. We do not know her given name. At the age of thirty, suffering from a severe illness and believing she was on her deathbed, Julian had a series of intense visions, which twenty years later would be the source of her major work Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love believed to be the first book writen by a woman in the English language.
This from

Migraine auras have variously been used to explain Anchorites' visions and UFO sitings. Hildegard of Bingen who lived in Rhineland in the 12th century began to receive 'holy visions' at the age of 32 and now some neurologists attribute her descriptions of what she saw to the classic symptoms of migraine auras.

Much as I esteem Julian of Norwich and am intrigued by the possibility of UFOs; I do not ascribe religious attributes to my migraine auras. An interruption to cerebral blood flow is thought to result in cortical spreading depression. The patterns of my migraine auras are similar to this picture from

They are riotous scintillating flashing black, white and silver patterns that overlay my ordinary vision and come before the head pain. The scintillating moving pattern begins as a small area of no vision, a fuzzy hole with nothing in it, from which the pattern emerges gradually spreading around my whole field of vision as shown here. As at this point there is no pain and it can be marvelled at and I can very well imagine the effect it had on a religieuse of the 12th century.

We cannot know if this is what Anchorites' visions were caused by, and I don't image they had access to the chocolate and red wine that used to be the trigger for my migraine auras. However, I can imagine from my own experience, that they believed they were seeing angels, or the majesty of the diety they worshiped. From that their own mystic insight could progress.

Julian of Norwich wrote: 'And thus I saw when we are all in peace and in love, we find no contrariness, nor no manner of letting through that contrariness which is now in us.'

Question 6 - I danced a Cretan circle

These lovely clay figures of ladies dancing in a circle around a lyre player, come from Palaikastro and can be found in the Herakleion Museum in Crete. My information is from the archeological guide purchased at the museum.

Many moons ago I regularly danced with a group of Circle Dancers in Dorset who practised authentic dances to recorded authentic music, and my favourite dance was Kritikos meaning 'Crete'.

A few years later, on holiday in Crete, I talked to two ladies (in English) in their jewellery shop and asked about this dance. They were excited
that their Cretan dances were danced in England, and were able to
explain the symbolic meaning of the steps. As the shop was quiet, the three of us danced together Kritikos. It is an energetic dance, but slower dances that form meanders are to be found in many cultures, but meander necklaces formed from Cretan gold, are best found in Crete, like this one from
This is not advertising, but acknowledgement of the source.

How and Where - Final Part 4

Question 7 ~ I communed with a hare

Look at this lovely big hare I spotted from a quiet farm track, just over the border in Wiltshire. The line of trees on the horizon is a busy main road.

Many people think hares are rare, an endangered species, because they never see them. They never see them because they walk footpaths with dogs or wear brightly coloured jackets or hats, or talk as they walk.
Hares are in fact numerous in rural areas.

This is a favourite spot of mine, and because I often saw hares in this field, I took the camera along and waited patiently. After a short while this hare came and sat with me. Look what happened next, a few quiet patient minutes later ...

The hare communed with me

It just turned round and sat looking at me. Hares rely on sound first before vision, hence the big ears, and cannot see as far as they can hear. I was sat unmoving in my car (that is the edge of the wing mirror on the right of the frame), so the hare would not have much sound to locate me with, so I believe that we made eye contact. It stayed there for a long time, and the hare sat long enough for me to change from binoculars to camera.

When I am out in my wheelchair I believe I come closer to nature's inhabitants that I did when walking. Horse riders say the same; that animals and birds react cautiously to walkers, but are not frightened off by horses walking along, nor with the riders if they are quiet. It is the same in my wheelchair which has a quiet motor, whether in my garden or further afield.

Another blessing of disability, to compensate for the physical abilities lost, to add to the blessing of time to do these things.

Answers to How and Where - Part 2

Question 4 ~ I found a devil's toe nail

When my daughter was small we lived in Leicestershire near Charnwood Forest. We had bought a new house from a developer of a green field site. Digging to create a new garden brought to the surface these fossilissed bi-valves which the local children called, no - believed were devil's toe nails.

The photograph on the left shows the one we kept which measures 4 cm.
The picture on the right for comparison is from

I am no geologist, but my understanding is that through a process of uplift and erosion, the Precambrian 600 million year old rocks were brought to the surface in this area of the midlands, which led to these fosils appearing to thrill and scare the children.

Sunday, 20 August 2006

A Book Meme from the Shire

I am pleased to have been tagged by Charles Dawson for this ...

1 ~ One book that changed your life

Two books by M Scott Peck: The Road Less Travelled and People of the Lie because one follows the other and if the first is taken to heart, the second becomes necessary. TRLT shows where we come from; the what, when and why, and the way forward. The second book makes sense of the worst.

2 ~ One book that you have read more than once

Carl Gustav Jung: Memories, Dreams, Reflections.
His autobiography, where he describes his intense experiences of childhood which led to his career, his association and dis-association with Sigmund Freud, the development of Jungian psychology, his travels searching for insight into the minds of other peoples, other tribes, in Africa, South America, India and Europe, and also his quests into alchemy, mysticism and life after death. His was the wisest and the greatest mind of the 20th century; accessible, thought provoking, affirming.

3 ~ One book you would want on a desert island

The Norton Anthology of Poetry (5th edition), all 2,182 pages of sumptious reading, from Caedmon's Hymn circa 658 to poets born three decades ago; with instructions on Versification, Poetic Syntax and biographical sketches. I would be accompanied by all humanity.

4 ~ One book that made you laugh

Other bloggers have already meme'd some favourites, and John Mortimer's Rumpole legal stories are always a delight, but how about being reminded that men always were and always will be, men, and females were and are sublime, in Homer's The Odyssey.

5 ~ One book that made you cry

Erm..., being a fragile flower, I avoid those I think might, but Antonia Byatt's Babel Tower, got to me for my own reasons which may not be anyone else's. She is a favourite author, for short stories (The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye) and long; a northerner, not just with soul, but also a mighty mind.

6 ~ One book you wish you had written

The Touchstone by Edith Wharton, in fact anything by this insightful writer.
"We live in our own souls as in an unmapped region, a few acres of which we have cleared for our habitation; while of the nature of those nearest us we know but the boundaries that march with ours."

7 ~ One book you wish had never been written

This prompts thoughts of how the existence of a particular work has changed things for the worst; for the individual or for a society. There is no book that has had that power over me but I wish I had not read Deus by Philip Boast - but only for the negative that is in it not for all of it.

8 ~ One book you are currently reading

Hilary Mantel's fludd. She writes comic novels with sinister leanings, fearlessly, funnily, and with a Derbyshire accent. For instance: "Soon after, the school term ended. ... It was a poor summer on the whole, with many lives lost. The thunderstorms and gales of 27 July returned two days later; trees were felled and roofs blown away. On 5 August there were more thunderstorms, and the rivers rose. On 15 August two trains collided in Blackburn Station, injuring fifty people. On 26 August there were further fatalities after violent electrical storms. In early September the children went back to school." Well, it rains a lot up there, must be all those hills.

9 ~ One book you have been meaning to read

The un-read swathes of C G Jung The Collected Works

10 ~ Now tag five people

For explanation of why I cannot seemlessly put in the links below, see my post Tired, tired or tired. I now tag Paul; Hope; Spotted Elephant;
and ...
the 'unknown' who visits my blog daily (you know who you are) - come on in, the water's fine.

Answers to Questions How and Where

Nevermind Bognor - B. . . . r Blogger I say.

Out of four attempts, only one resulted in successfully uploaded pictures and photographs, but only a third of them so far. I will post the complete Answers when Blogger lets me.

Its worth waiting for, truly.

Monday, 14 August 2006

How and Where

This is a Quiz. I am bored of resting; I have to rest in order to do the things I want or need to do later in the week. So during this week's down days I looked at my laptop pictures and made up this quiz. (Humour me !)

Can you work out how I could have done these things ?
Correct, or inventive, answers will be rewarded with pictures and a brief explanation.

Question 1
I stroked a Polar Bear

Question 2
I tobogganed clouds

Question 3
I drilled for oil

Question 4
I found a devil's toe nail

Question 5
I had an Anchorite's vision

Question 6
I danced a Cretan circle

Question 7
I communed with a hare

Thursday, 10 August 2006

On this Day part 2

Blummin' dastardly so and so's.
They are calling it 10/8 in the news, trying to bring it up to the level of 9/11.
It was bad enough my mother planning to bury my father on my day,
but please Media, don't refer to it as 10/8.
And Georgy hiding behind the Bush said, yes actually said:
" I would like to thank Tony Blair's Government for their ..."
Well I prefer to be old fashioned and think of it as Her Majesty's Government.
Pedantic I am, and I am sure there are arguments to support his statement as correct,
just as there are arguments that show he continues his buffoonery.
I am not a political animal
I am not a political animal
I am very tempted.
If the security services got it right, I am thankful.
If it is a smoke screen for what is going on elsewhere, I am not suprised,
but please; not '10/8'.

On this day

This is the first poem of Rainer Maria Rilke that I read many years ago when life was a struggle.
He wrote it on this day, 10 August 1926.

No intellect, no ardour is redundant:
to make one through the other more abundant
is what we're for, and some are singled out
for purest victory in that contention:
no signal can escape their tried attention,
their hands are wieldy and their weapons stout.

No sound must be too soft for their detection
they must perceive that angle of deflection
to which the dial-pointer scarcely stirs,
and must, as might be with their eyelids, utter
reply to what the butterflies out-flutter
and learn to fathom what a flower infers.

No less than others they can be extinguished,
and yet the must (why else were they distinguished?)
feel even with catastrophe some kin,
and, while the rest are helplessly bewailing,
recapture in the strokes of each assailing
the rhythm of some stoniness within.

They must be stationed like a shepherd, keeping
his lonely watch: one might suppose him weeping,
till, coming close, one feels his piercing sight;
and, as for him the speech of stars is clear,
for them must be as intimately near
what climbs in still procession through the night.

In slumber also they continue seers:
from dream and being, from laughter and from tears
a meaning gathers ... which if they can seize,
and kneel to Life and Death in adoration,
another measure for the whole creation
is given us in those right-angled knees.

From 'Rilke Selected Poems'
Translated by J B Leishman
Penguin Modern European Poets

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Trains of Thought

Two things re-read today, prompted by thinking of my childhood. Reading today because I have thinned out the diary, cancelled things that happen relentlessly one after the other, too tiring, I cannot keep doing it. So, reading in silence, the luxury of following a train of thought from the originating prompt to the place where my mind takes me to thinking about.

The harm done to us in our childhood; hidden emotional harm, unconsciously or in self-justification by our parents; this inheritance of those of us nearly old who were the children born to parents soon after the Second World War. The harm done to children always by parents who are un-trained, un-licensed, unfit for the job, un-seen. Still today.

So, two peoples' writings that linked for me today:

Firstly, James Fenton's poem in The Memory of War and Children in Exile:

'What I am is not important, whether I live or die -
It is the same for me, the same for you.
What we do is important. This is what I have learnt.
It is not what we are but what we do,'
Says a child in exile, one of a family...

... They have learnt much. There is much to learn.
Each heart bears a diploma like a scar -
A red seal, always hot, always solid,
Stamped with the figure of an overseer, ...

Where would we be without books on our shelves; ignorant, map-less, forever going round in circles on the same route-less track. Next I re-read:

Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet (in translation by M D Herter Norton, publisher W W Norton) written in May 1904, before the social upheavel and societal interuption of two world wars:

We are only just now beginning to look upon the relation of one individual person to a second individual objectively and without prejudice, and our attempts to live such associations have no model before them. And yet in the changes brought about by time there is already a good deal that would help our timorous novitiate.

The girl and the woman, in their new, their own unfolding, will but in passing be imitators of masculine ways, good and bad, and repeaters of masculine professions. After the uncertainty of such transitions it will become apparent that women were only going through the profusion and the vicisitude of those disguises in order to cleanse their own most characteristic nature of the distorting influences of the other sex. Women, in whom life lingers more fruitfully and more confidently, must surely have become more fundamentally riper people, more human people, than easygoing man, who is not pulled down below the surface of life by the weight of any fruit of his body, and who, presumptuous and hasty, undervalues what he thinks he loves. The humanity of woman, borne its full time in suffering and humiliation, will come to light when she will have stripped off the conventions of mere femininity in the mutations of her outward status, and those men who do not yet feel it approaching today will be surprised and struck by it. Some day (and for this, particularly in the northern countries, reliable signs are already speaking and shining), some day there will be girls and women whose name will no longer signify merely an opposite of the masculine, but something in itself, something that makes one think, not of any complement and limit, but only of life and existence: the feminine human being.

This advance will (at first much against the will of the outstripped men) change the love-experience, which is now full of error, will alter it from the ground up, reshape it into a relation that is meant to be of one human being to another, no longer of man to woman. And this more human love (that will fulfill itself, infinitely considerate and gentle, and kind and clear in binding and releasing) will resemble that which we are preparing with struggle and toil, the love that consists in this; that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other.

My trains of thought are not your trains of thought but maybe we have sometimes stood on the same platform waiting for similar approaching trains.

Friday, 4 August 2006

Tired, tired or tired ?

Tiredness, fatigue, whatever, is a feature of the lives of many people with chronic health problems. Today I was asked, by someone genuinely interested, and for all the right reasons, what sort of tiredness do I have, what is fatigue and what makes it different to extreme tiredness ?

We discussed feeling tired, feeling drained, feeling heavy; the tiredness from physical exertion like power-walking, swimming, completing (37 years ago) a 24 mile all night Oxfam fund-raising walk; the muscle tiredness from standing all day, gardening, hedge-clipping, ironing; sleepy tiredness and limb tiredness and tiredness from being bored. The other person described the extreme physical tiredness from building cob walls, winching in sails, lambing, the things that person has done.

None of those things, that I have done, that that person has done, are quite like my daily fatigue. My fatigue, and perhaps yours, is profound. Some days it is quietly next to me or profoundly accompanying me, other days it is sat on top of me and I cannot move without dragging it along with me. When it is exacerbated by systemic inflammation it is the weight of a cape draped from my shoulders and a skirt hung from the hips, made of lead, heavy lead, hot molten lead, leaden. When it is masked by a systemic steroid injection, for two months it is merely a pain, that does not stop me from doing too much, and it just hurts.

Synchronistically, that question to me today about my tiredness, linked with The Goldfish's post I read yesterday. Relevant now, is that if I stop to recall how to put in the link to The Goldfish's post, I will loose the thread I am currently pulling out from my brain and, lost forever, it will not be recoverable. That is why I sometimes do not do things that I can do, and have done before. I cannot do them again without going back to them to revise, or even sometimes, to re-learn them.

Many people with Systemic Lupus have 'brain fog', and those are the Lupus patients who do not have Central Nervous System Lupus. We keep detailed reminder diaries, carry Filofaxes, rely on laptops, post-it notes, lists. We write explanations for ourselves of how we did something today in case we do not know how to do it tomorrow. We have a folder with the title: My How To Do. We have visual reminders because our brains do not always retain the memory of what we have, what we know. We continue to be who we are if we were originally able, creative, intelligent, capable, because we make these extra efforts to continue to be ourselves. We consider ourselves fortunate to be able to do so.

Physical fatigue creates brain fatigue. Physical tiredness renders me unable to speak coherently. Sometimes I am in the middle of something, and know it is about to happen, so I can take time out briefly, to recover, to stop getting to that stage. Sometimes I have reached that stage but, because I live alone, I do not know I have reached that stage until I answer the phone, or the door, and the words the other speaks make no sense to me, they flow into my brain, where they do not get sorted into sentences, but remain a sense-less jumble of sounds. Or sometimes my words don't flow from my brain to my mouth, or the wrong words flow, or the words flow from the brain (I am thinking I know what I am saying) but my mouth doesn't say it as I am thinking it, or does not keep up and my speech is slurred. So, in those situations I just say: I am sorry, I am tired.

People understand; often they get tired. They can relate to my explanation. It is enough for the few minutes I am in contact with them, that they understand that. Others that are in contact with me for longer, need the longer explanation. Also, I need the longer explanation, to remind me on down days why I am like this, that it is real, that I have this reason, this excuse. This is written now, in the real time, fixed time, of a post on my blog, for those times in the future when I need something concrete and real outside of me, to tell me where I am. I can come back and re-visit, revise, where I am, what I am.

Its late, many people went to bed ages ago, why don't I go to bed and be sensible then I won't be so tired ? I go to bed late at night, I sleep late in the morning. At this late hour it is quiet, the world outside my immediate space is empty. There is no noise outside my room, my cottage. Just the owl. Just the creature in the loft or in the cavity wall having a good scratch, its elbow banging against a hard surface. You would not hear it, my Meniere's related hyper sensitive hearing does. It really is quiet. The tinnitus is subsiding. So I can think straight without outer, or inner, noises jumbling my brain. In the daytime the world is busy. The milk, the post, the farm vehicles, the birds, the neighbours, the commuters, the dog walkers; all make a noise, all increase the tinnitus white noise, many have the potential of entering my world, through my door, through my window, all take up energy, take away energy from my brain. At this late hour its just me and you via my laptop.

Two days a week the transient Lupus related brain fog gets denser with the neuro-toxic effects of the weekly drug that manages Lupus, and then I go deep; the me inside my head is negative. The world is a different place that is dark, has the potential never to get lighter, and I really ought to take notice of the dangers and dark facts that I only know, that only I know, on those two days every week, and act accordingly. I am usually too physically tired, drained, to act, so it passes.

Your drug sheet may say: do not operate machinery if affected; my memo to self says: try to take no notice, it will pass.

Additionally, any day when I am physically very tired (as opposed to averagely knackered) I am depressed in spirit, in outlook. Physical health related tiredness dampens my mood in all aspects, dampens down the jolly te-he-ness that comes naturally to me. I become older than I am, rather than my usual sense of feeling younger than I am.

When very very tired, I cannot let anything from outside, in, because I don't react to it naturally, as me. Music, television, books of words, books of pictures, friends, companions, letters, blogs; I cannot rely on reacting to them safely. Then the only thing I can safely take in is looking outside, through the window, or being outside, in the air, looking at or being in, calming nature - which is safe, consists of colours that are good for the mood; blues, greens, and which does not intrude on me, or ask anything of me. It just is. Outside in the world the inhabitants of nature ask nothing of me, they just are.