Saturday, 25 August 2007

Everything in the Garden

Metaphorically ~ Everything in the Garden is not yet lovely; but I am optimistic. The Local Government Ombudsman's Investigator has written that he has received "initial comments" from Dorset County Council social services and will keep me informed. Well, I am quite happy to let it ride for the time being. It is good not to have to do anything just now, about social services' delays to disabled facilities and adaptations. I haven't fallen recently, just a few minor stumbles, its warm indoors and out, so pain and stiffness is slightly less. I have not had to engage in written correspondence with anyone official for a few weeks, so I am content. I am calm, relaxed even, which is a pleasurable place to be.

Literally, now everything in the garden is lovely and it is warm and sunny, 25 degrees C and clear blue skies. The leaves pictured above were picked in the grounds of Kingston Lacy last week, and not photographed but the live leaves arranged and placed on the scanner and sent straight to my laptop. Literally life size on your screen. I don't yet have a digital camera, so this is my current favourite option.

I have been reading Medieval Gardens by Anne Jennings*; lots of pictures from medieval illustrations, and quotations. Bartholomew de Granville wrote in the 13th century:
For trees move not wilfully from place to place as beasts do;
neither change appetite and liking, nor feel sorrow ...

He was describing the difference between plants and animals ! The view below of Kingston Lacy house is very familiar and I have done many pencil sketches of the magnificent cedar with the white circular seat around its base and the house in the background (the tricky architectural detail variously hidden by branches). Last week it looked different - had it moved ? The tree with the seat around was different. Took me a while to realise; they had moved the white circular seat to be around another tree close by, so the original cedar must be getting wider as well as taller.

Kingston Lacy, Dorset - National Trust

I know how it feels (width not height). Its summer - I eat lots of fruit and healthy raw vegetable salads, but sitting outside in the shade with a pot of Early Grey, has to be accompanied by cake ! I am good: clotted cream on my scones only once this summer.

My garden is very green and lush, as it has been raining since May and only stopped last week. Paul who cuts my grass (and who is a straw bale building consultant) struggled to make it wheelchair friendly last week, but it looks more chopped than mown. No matter. Usually at this time towards the end of summer it is sparse and more brown than green; but together with the cut hay meadow beyond, is unseasonally but pleasurably green. Hugh of Fouilloy (c 1132-1152) wrote:
The green turf which is in the middle of the material cloister refreshes encloistered eyes and their (the monks) desire to study returns.
It is truly the nature of the colour green that it nourishes the eye and preserves the vision.

Paul, who has been keeping my garden under some control for almost fifteen years, is a very interesting man, and often has fascinating nuggets to share. This week he reported seeing two ravens on his land , which is on the slope of one of the great Dorset hills, and commented that a few years ago a raven was captured from that hill and taken to the Tower of London. There to have its wings clipped (as all the Tower ravens have) so that it might extend the breeding stock of Tower ravens. Imagine how the raven must have felt - one minute minding its own business, sailing along in the thermals admiring its birds-eye view of the Dorset landscape, then netted; wings clipped, incarcerated in the Tower for no good reason (such as treason or other fellony) and expected to perform.

This wet summer is not kind to those who rely on the the seasons to perform in the expected way. Paul's plan to import mature olive trees in response to recent hotter dryer summers, has not got off the ground this year. Maybe next year. We all hope. A friend, who is almost self sufficient in vegetables, has lost her crop of Pink Fir Apple potatoes to blight, even though she grows them in raised beds and many others have reported their problems with courgettes and tomatoes. My Bump's Plum trees are laden though and the blackberries in the overgrown bit of my garden look promising, but others' runner beans are either heavy cropping or slow to get going and flower due to the cold and wet. I am glad that this year I did not sow and have planted (by Paul) my usual row of runner beans - I would not have been able to get the wheelchair onto the soggy garden to tie in the young growths. I decided in March not to sow runner beans this year (which is the only vegetable growing I can manage these days) as I truly thought that, after five year's delay, surely this spring building work would begin for adaptations. In April it became obvious that the delays were continuing, hence my request to the LGO to investigate Dorset County Council' social services department delays.

All Enjoyers of gardens in soggy England hope that autumn is postponed by a late summer of gentle September days. But already there is a change; this morning I was awake unusually early, and at a 6.30 am a thick white mist, lit from above by the already risen sun, shrouded the garden beyond a few metres. As the sun burnt it off, the first of the autumn coloured dry leaves fell from the twin trunked ash tree just the other side of my garden boundary, a tree that appears on Ordnance Survey maps from over a hundred years ago.

It is too soon yet to be thinking of autumn. I am just beginning to enjoy the summer.

(* Medieval Gardens - Anne Jennings - Published by English Heritage ISBN 1-80574-903-5)

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Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Daily witterings

'Blackmore Vale' - Jake Winkle

A lovely meander around the back roads of north west Dorset, not to the Gillingham and Shafetesbury Show, as the mud would have defied the wheels. Shame that. Through the lovely Blackmore Vale. Narrow slow roads, wide verges, wide thick hedges enclosing varied shaped varied greened fields, oaks and silver poplars, stone houses, deep streams (as deep as January, but its August, so what will the streamside roads be like after the winter rains !).

On to a nearby town to follow up my Bump's recommendation for a new pillow.

There is a whole subset of vaguely cripped not-strictly crips, who stress about their pillows; a different subset to those crips who do similar about their beds or sheets (yes, Charles that's you).

One of the many aspects of Meniere's Syndrome hyper-accussis is the noise that pillows make. Well, I have at last found a solution. Its that NASA-inspired stuff Tempur and not only does it not make a noise in my ears as I fidget to get comfortable, and dissuades me from fidgeting, it even silences the full volume pulsing roaring whooshing sound that comes, unbidden unwelcome, once or twice a month and stays around for a few days rendering me incapable of sitting still and listening to it, or getting to sleep at a reasonable time.

Now I want the matching mattress too. And, bless me, I thought it was just the lack of love that made me sleepless.

Some new information, well new to me, detailed here for the record for other travellers on this noisy tinnitus deafened route, trawling the blogosphere for information on Meniere's.

I have recently found the evidence* for my belief that Meniere's, which I have had for decades, is all the fault of my Lupus, which was diagnosed almost one decade ago, but I now understand has been around for most of my life. Its called Auto Immune Sensoreonuro (nah, not going to work is it, the spelling, I'm just going to have to get up and find the printed article).

*Autoimmune Hearing Loss. Author: Elaine Moore. Published March 30, 2007. (Found where ? Sorry, lost the source.)

The article was found via my blog site meter; if I follow a query that led to my site, often I find interesting related stuff to what I have been blogging on about.

In this case, the article discusses Auto-immune sensorineural hearing loss and is not focused on SLE, indeed it only crops up as: "... other causes of auto-immune sensorineural hearing loss such as ... Systemic Lupus ... should be rule out before a diagnosis of auto-immune sensorineural hearing loss is made." Complex because I don't have any hearing loss, and this 'almost as an aside' reference to Systemic Lupus in the picture, is the closest yet I have come to finding proof for my belief in the connection between the two conditions. Because I have not got an official ENT signed diagnosis. The Meniere's Society have been my only source of information.

I gave up on the ENT (ear, nose, throat) consultant years ago, when he began to go down the same route as my then (male) GP: Female, no obvious cause, therefore neurotic. Thankfully my female GP has always supported my belief and been happy to discuss Medscape articles with me, once she realised that I do not visit the wilder shores of internet medical diagnosises (sees ?) and cures.

The meandering route today through the Vale in my new vehicle, was to train my posture in the new driving position, to encourage my joints and muscles to adjust to a new seat and steering wheel configuration. My WAV is beautiful, and I don't wish to be heard complaining , so I will whisper this:
the seat is very uncomfortable and unsupportive but I am sure, given a month or three, I will get used to it and stop whittering on about it to anyone who happens by to admire the new wheelchair accessible vehicle. It does not help that everyone who sits in it enthuses on the wonderful seats -well, all I can say is: VERY short torso and VERY L O N G L E G S may equal average height but it don't fit the average seat.

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Friday, 10 August 2007

This has been a Good Day

To be truly representative of today as a very Good Day, the birthday candle should be sat on top of this (which arrived yesterday):
And, be accompanied by one or three of these, which it was (chilled Chablis mmm zing mmm):
added together with my daughter's company, her wonderful blueberry birthday cake, some thoughtful presents and a few hare birthday cards:

Made a lovely happy stress free day. I am 54, a trifle tipsy, and content.

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Friday, 3 August 2007

Wave at my WAV - as it disappears - then wave off the PM.

Because the silly little nincompoops (which sillyness saves me swearing) didn't do it right did they. Nitwits.

The vehicle converting company got everything right except the hooks to hold the rear wheelchair restraint straps out of the way when the wheelchair is exiting the vehicle. Which is what they had measured for last October, oh, and January too. I don't suppose anyone is interested in this little technicality but I am putting it here to vent frustration. (I look forward to the day when there is nothing left to whinge about, yes I do, and I'm sure I will still find something to blog about.)

The rest of the VW Caddy conversion is rather beautiful though. CD player, aircon, cool remote opening tailgate (sounds like it belongs in a 'machines are taking over the world' horror movie), beautiful colour, clever things to slot the front inertia reel wheelchair restraint straps into when they are detached from the wheelchair frame, so I can leave the vehicle. Shiny karabinas (spelling, any mountaineers out there know the spelling ?) for the rear restraint straps to hook onto the rear of the frame (for which they forgot the hooks), and lots of little VeeDub touches and great wing mirrors. Its a dream to drive but quite big, like a proper van, so I sailed stately down the middle of the country lane for a test drive, with a grin from ear to ear, and confirmed that it is very quiet to be in, no booming internal sounds which can be a problem with an open van, with no jingly clunking noises anywhere from the conversion or wheelchair related accessories.

But its not mine yet. They took it back to the factory, as I refused to sign for it until all was in place and fixed according to the specification agreed with Motability. Hopefully it will be re-delivered in time for my birthday and definitely for the G & S country show the week after, which I am so looking forward to, provided the car parking and show fields have dried out from the lakes they became in the deluges of the last few weeks.

And now there is a a case of foot and mouth not that far away on this little island called England. The last outbreak had a huge negative effect on country life, so fingers crossed that the government and its DEFRA has it contained better and quicker this time.

It is a good sign that plans to contain an outbreak have begun; the Prime Minister has cut short his holiday after only one day and returned to COBRA. (Combined Operations Briefing Room A - aren't you impressed I know that? No ? Oh you know it too.) I don't think it was just a dastardly plan to get him out of Dorset - we don't want too much attention down here, Dorset might get too well known, and crowded.


Thursday, 2 August 2007

And ... relax ! Tea ?

Thank you for your good wishes and support.

It is all fine. Its scar tissue. OK, lots of scar tissue in a big lump that was not there, discernibly, a month ago, so I have another bump in a different place, not hidden by the nascent fringe, much smaller than the original big osteoma, and this new bump may not go away. Or it may, or get bigger, or smaller, or stay. So, its a good thing I am not vain. Ish.

Very efficient service at Wessex Neuro. Quiet clean calm. Sign me in, shift things around so there is room for the wheelchair, inject the contrast medium (left arm vein) pop me on the narrow metal body-shaped thingy, truss me up so I can't move, CT scan (2 quiet minutes), un-truss, restore power (= restore me to the powerchair!) take some bloods (right arm vein) and have a cup of tea.

Tea. The ritual of tea. The reassurance of tea. If I am drinking tea it must be alright. If I am drinking tea they are assuming, or have decided even before the scan results are through, that there is nothing drastic to do today.

I am sorry if I was alarmist. It is what I felt.

There is just a little tinge of 'what-if' in case the bloods show anything underlying - any minor inflammation. I go back to Neuro in a fortnight to be re-assured again.

I have to react 'worst-case scenario', in case it is a 'worst-case scenario', because there is no-one else to organise things for me, to look after me, or mine. Just me. So sort it out as soon as possible. Or have it sorted out as soon as possible.


I am reminded of Charles Dawson's reassurance last November when I was struggling with the 30-or-so glinting staples across my head: "Remember what the Guide says: DON'T PANIC"

Thank you again blogging Friends for your comments.