Tuesday, 31 May 2011


This time last year this elderly lady came to stay with me for her retirement. Although she had known me for the whole of her adult life, it had been as one of a crowd ... she knew my scent and my voice, so when I collected her one early morning in late May, she was trusting, but very unsure of where I was taking her. Being bathed on arrival didn't help. But her first breakfast was her favourite raw meat and biscuit and so began the trust in this stage of life, gradually finding her place was as top dog in a household of none, and a companion in me who understood her needs and who spoke a language familiar to her.

Confidence grew indoors and out. Initially she believed I was emptying this little space to provide a dark shelter for her, but my priority was sorting out the stationery cupboard, which she turned into a game, the first return of her sense of humour.

The grass is greener over the other side of the hedge, and the scents stronger, and this day she discovered that front paws on the low wall gave her a little height advantage. One evening, out for the last piddle, she began the tone of bark that was calling my attention to something, but I only had vision, not her scenting nose, so I could make nothing of it. The following morning's walk along the far bottom of that field brought us both into the scent line of a fox, and I'm sure that, at that point, she looked round and up at me, saying: Told You !

This bush flowered for the first time yesterday which, at the end of May, is a whole month earlier in the summer than when I took the photo at the end of June last year. Then the fresh dusty concrete wheelchair accessible path held little scent, but owl droppings under the oak tree were always worth a sniff.

High summer passed quickly in a succession of her first discovering and then eating wild strawberries, gooseberries, redcurrants and finally apples. The berries being carefully and daintily picked off the bushes within reach of her teeth, the high apples waiting for them to drop. First the green hard ones, just testing really to see if they were ready to eat as they fell, then testing her patience until they got bigger and tastier, finally the excitement of finding a new fall each morning and getting to them before I did. Daily walks became, for her, slow progressions, as I stopped the Tramper at each location of blackberries along the hedgerows, her views across the fields stopped by the by-now high maize crop, her quiet waiting rewarded with a handful of the gathered fruits.

She discovered beer, in glass jars, left on the ground by the Morris Dancers one evening when we returned home from a long cool late walk, and found them in the pub car park. She was used to men standing around drinking and talking, but when they started jingling and jumping and flinging handkerchiefs around, she climbed up and hid on the Tramper footbed, safe between my knees to peer round the Tramper's front to see what all the noise was about.

Over the summer she got fatter, lost her trim waist, enjoyed toast crusts after my breakfast, vegetable leftovers from my supper and further supplemented her diet of meat, biscuit and berries with crumbs of anything dropped during food prep in the kitchen.

With the autumn came longer exercise, walking up behind her friends but never letting me out of her sight, secured by the extending lead to me, and secure in the knowledge that she would be going home with me to her comfortable retirement home.

An early fall of winter snow brought treasure to the surface - those forgotten apples that were covered by autumn leaf fall with their scent lost amongst all the other rotting vegetation. Now they were resurrected when the snow killed all distracting scents excepting those of the soft ruddy brown of well matured squishy apples - another feast.

Winter weather did not bother her and she shook off all attempts to put a waxed dog jacket on her back, even one memorable day when the temperature stayed at minus ten degrees centigrade all morning. That day I only managed to exercise her for twenty minutes on the Tramper down frozen lanes before I was seriously concerned at my fingers' chances of remaining attached to my palms. The gloves off just for a second to hand the camera to a passing villager who couldn't believe his eyes, never having seen a Tramper before.

During her retirement with me came something I hadn't expected, even though I'd had dogs before - the hound dialogue; over the months we passed from my use of words she was used to obeying (LEAVE IT !), onto her first days of learning: Go To Sleep; Toast !, and other such important information, through to one day I was thinking of calling her and she came back through the door and looked at me: asking, replying, as she did when I called her in the tone that was calling for fun, or an apple. What Mum ?

She died in January, at a very good age. Trusting still.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Cordial it is not - Elder is my favourite tipple


PRE-SCRIPT ~ There have been visitors to this blog page using the search term: thunder bugs in my elderflower cordial. Me Too !! So, after experimenting today (a week after the post below) I have the answer. So, please read this post, then go to the new post on my blog page for an update at www.lifeintheshire.blogspot.com Its easy to deal with thunderbugs in your precious elderflower cordial !

The elder is in flower, basking in the sun, the lemons and oranges are waiting, the Tramper is ready to go and .... Boots the Chemist are not being cordial towards their customers - down here in deepest Dorset they have taken over all the local independent chemist shops.

This really is the last straw ~ Boots reacting locally to considerations global, such as bombs and illegal drugs. Boots have taken away one of the many benefits of living rurally, that of independent shops. There used to be three chemists in the local town; all three have been taken over by Boots, who closed one. None of the Boots stores in any of the local towns I have tried have any stocks of a necessary ingredient to enjoying summer in the countryside.

Independent shops have local independent knowledge and are independent of the views and stock ordering protocols of large conglomerates. Local independent chemists know that as soon as the elder is in flower, locals will want to buy CITRIC ACID ... not for bombs (well, maybe bathbombs !) or for cutting in with heroin or cocaine, but for making non-alcoholic summer in a bottle.

Would I have been suspected of such nefarious activity, wheeling in with my smart sun hat and latest bit of jewellery ? (what a fab excuse to indulge in sparkly stuff ... Medic Alert !) A local independent chemist would have been able to judge my reason and sold me for the princely sum of £1.19 a little pot of this essential ingredient of Elderflower Cordial.

Buggeh Boots. Online it is. LINK

Just don't let it rain and ruin the elder flowers until I have harvested my 30 heads of creamy sumptiousness. We need the rain, oh how we need it and my water butt is drained dry so the beans and courgettes are having to put up with tap water, as are the birds in the bird bath, but rain will ruin the flowers, so please not rain just yet. Until the postman has delivered the means to the end result and I am sipping the heavenly cordial. So, actually, thinking again, not let it rain during the day, only overnight, as sipping inside out of the rain is not quite the same as sipping outside in the dappled shade amongst the flowers and birdsong.

For a recipe click on this LINK or go to www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/elderflowercordial_6465

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Abused, Again, and too late for BADD

Two streams of thought from diverse sources have informed today's experience of abuse.

Firstly, the esteemed Charles Dawson, recalling his original blog, commented on the Goldfish's BADD 2011 post: " ... the abuse ... was nothing to do with you. The need to abuse is projected out of the personality of the abuser, onto the nearest available victim. You just happened to be there, in the line of fire."

Secondly, comments on tv programme from Lottery winners: that their good fortune attracts hatred, in all its diverse forms; threats, violence, robbery, vandalism, from neighbours and others in the lottery winners' communities.

No, I haven't won the lottery, well not literally although metaphorically, sat in my garden enjoying the view, I feel as though I have - I am exceedingly fortunate - not lucky because my good fortune has been hard won and earned, but relieved and at peace that finally, some eight years after first requesting wheelchair access into my home, I have achieved it. Thanks in no small part to the hard work by my social worker in finding a shared ownership housing and support organisation that could help me achieve it.

My lovely new wheelchair accessible home was hard won, and support from fellow bloggers through 2006/7/8/9 was an important part of my ability to cope and continue, eventually assisted by a Local Government Ombudsman investigation, to Fight the Good Fight, when no-one should have to fight against disabilist policies by budget fixated negative so and so's.

Anyway, today I discovered I have a jealous neighbour. Last summer I politely asked my neighbour to cut back their boundary leylandii hedge which is doing what leylandii hedges do. Eight feet high and venturing over a metre deep into my vegetable plot. The neighbour agreed, but didn't. Last week I asked the shared owner/housing and support organisation to act on my behalf and ask the neighbour to cut back their boundary hedge. Yesterday they sent me a copy of their letterheaded letter sent to my neighbour. Today, I learn, my neighbour rang the housing and support organisation that provides the lease for my shared ownership wheelchair accessible home and spouted confabulations and outright lies (and I say that in full confidence without the need to add 'allegedly' anywhere in that sentence). First abuse.

Second Abuse: I returned home late this afternoon, after the second of three medical appointments this week, to find a scary email from the housing officer at the housing and support organisation, listing as if fact, all the lies (and confabulations *) spouted by my neighbour today and warning me that such behaviour on my part is in breach of my shared-ownership lease.

Charles was spot on about the First Abuse: projected out from my neighbour's personality. The Second Abuse was the worst. I felt my home was threatened. My foundation. My Anchor. My Safe Haven. Because firstly the housing officer had given my neighbour the opportunity to abuse me then, secondly, passed the abuse on and built on it.

I have referred the housing officer's actions to the Director of the housing and support organisation, and called my social worker for advice. And taken prescribed drugs to stop the fear. And PTSD.

Tomorrow is another day and after the third and final medical appointment of this week, if the weather is as good as today, I will again take my mobility vehicle and camera down the meadow to the mighty river (pic above) and say to myself: This too will pass. Hopefully.

On a lighter note, which comparatively it is ... when I left home for the medical appointment, I left my OT in charge of a gaggle of men installing an automatic system on my wheelchair access door ... auto open/close/lock/unlock. This is the third day they have been invading my peace and sanity, hacking at my new front door and pristine walls and scuff-free threshold to fit it, but my OT was confident all would be well. As I turned onto the drive I said to my PA: two plips and I am in .... first plip (remote control) to open the vehicle rear tailgate to let me out in the wheelchair; second plip (remote control) to open the new automatic front door to let me into the house. Ha !

Another thing to sort out tomorrow and the wheelchair stayed in the vehicle. It is indeed fortunate that first; as I now have two front doors I could use the other one and second, that I can walk into the house !!!

I think its that which really gets to my neighbour.

(Mimi Cummins's blog for BADD and following comments consider the use of assistive technology and what I refer to as 'walking-wheelies')

(* Collins Dictionary - Confabulation: Psychiatry. to replace the gaps left by a disorder of memory with imaginary remembered experiences, consistently believed to be true. )

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Disablism - BADD says it all

Lots of thoughts, but not a lot of brain this month /this time round ... but others have, so join me in spending the day visiting.

For the brain tired, to ease your navigation, click on this coloured LINK

For previous BADD years' posts, click on the link word BADD below.

Thank you for visiting.