Friday, 25 March 2011

River Walk

The weather has been too good to miss this week. We even had temperatures in the mid-high teens. And I'm talking Celcius here. It was gorgeous today, so I took the dog along the River Severn to Stourport. It took me over an hour because I kept stopping to take photos and to talk to other dog-walkers. What a fabulous way to spend the morning.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Crickley Hills Country Park

It is time for the flip side of the coin. The days are longer than the nights. There is more light. The sun is shining. The world is spinning.

We went down to Crickley Hills Country Park on Sunday. It was a gorgeous day - blue skies, clear views. We decided we would have to come back and take a long walk there some time in the summer. Maybe with a picnic or a barbeque.

I've surprised myself by applying for two jobs recently. There is always the possibility I might actually get them. It's been a long old winter with no work, but spring is in the air. Change is a-coming.

Sunday, 20 March 2011


I drove XX to the hospital for the update on the pancreatic biopsy. Actually the doctor tells me it isn't a biopsy, it's a something else where they suck out cells instead of taking a core sample. Whatever. We were expecting the worst, having been mentally preparing for it as much as you can.

It was a total surprise when the doctor told us the result had come back normal. Normal! Thank you gods! It feels like a total reprieve (even if we still have the breast cancer to worry about). We went for lunch at the George to celebrate. The world has shifted slightly again, but maybe the run of bad luck is easing. I hope so.

Meanwhile the stalker struck again - this time pretending to be a wrong number and chatty friend. I am fed up of Mr Teacher Spanky and I wish he would just get a life that doesn't involve pestering me. The police think they might be able to prosecute him for Criminal Harassment, once they have traced the number.

I can't believe how fast the spiring equinox has swung around. It seems only last week that it was Imbolc. The weather has certainly improved over the past couple of weeks though and there are flowers on the trees, so everyting feels lighter and brighter. Or maybe it is the reprieve that has made the world a sunnier place. I don't know, but it is good.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Cat is in the Dog House

Yes, it's getting crowded in there. After the dog's disappearing act, the cat has had to up the ante to make sure he gets a slice of the attention too. Moving on from leaving puddles on the dining room floor, Fergus (white, with ginger bits, senile, incontinent, half-blind, not stupid cat) decided to p*ss on Mel's bookbag.

For those of you not in the know, a bookbag is a thin nylon satchel-shaped bag, just big enough to hold an A4 book. Primary school kids carry their reading books to and from home in them. They are invariably stuffed full of the day to day lives of the child - scrap paper, notes from the teacher, permission slips, sweet wrappers, marbles, broken pencils and one glove. This collection of items was what Fergus mistook for a toilet.

Nick did his rabbit-in-the-headlights panic attack and I heard various shrieks as the cat was chased, still leaking, around the downstairs. The hall carpet and dining room floors both gained cat dribble at this point. The cat was finally ejected, and Nick raced to save the contents of the bookbag.

Oh boy.

He grabbed the dripping bag and took it to the sink. But the sink had washing up in it. So he put it on the work surface, where it formed a small pool of urine. Dragging the contents out, he realised there was nowhere to put it. He stuffed wet books and dripping worksheets wherever he could find a space - in between the dirty crockery, on the floor, on the cooker. The p*ss was now everywhere. Devastation complete.

Madness, chaos, mayhem. My work here is done.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Learning to Live with It

The week accelerated towards the end, sprinting for the finish line. Wednesday was parents' evening, where the kids' progress was assessed. Needless to say, they were all working in character. Mel is improving loads, despite the dyslexia and is top of the class for maths. Donny is working three years ahead of the average for literacy. Saskia lives in 'Saskialand' according to her teacher (we always called it Planet Sasky, but I guess it's the same place) and consequently has a great imagination and a total lack of grasp on logic/reality/current events. Eartha could be top of the class in everything but refuses to do anything she doesn't like doing and will only do it her way, even if she does! Bit of my dad in that one, I think!

Thursday, after doing the library books for S&E's class, I got to take Mel and friend Dan to a maths workshop at another school. They are part of a group of eight primary school kids developing a maths treasure trail around Bewdley. It's going to be a spy story and they have to write clues for people to work out. It will be on sale from about Easter in tourist info.

I spent most of the workshop sitting outside in the cold. The cough I've had since the weekend moved into my middle ear, making the world spin madly. It was a horrible feeling and lasted most of the afternoon. I finally blasted it with Sinutab on the way home from Donny's Strings group.

XX finally had her appointment to see what the thing on her pancreas is. We had to go to the big hospital in Birmingham, where she tootled off for a relaxing sedative and snooze, while I sat in the foyer, listening to Capercaille on my headphones. I did spend some time wandering around the University, but it was a lonely sort of trudge down memory lane. I'm not part of the place anymore. It is nearly a decade since I graduated with my PhD and whilst it looks the same, people have moved on.

So, I sat in the foyer for a couple of hours and wondered what exactly it is I should be doing with my life. I don't think I came to a conclusion, really, but I toyed with a whole load of ideas. I mean, I'm middle-aged. Surely I should have sorted out a career by now?

Well, the fact is, I've started on two (Scientific Research and Teaching) and walked away from both of them for different reasons. Did you ever read Somerset Maugham's book 'Of Human Bondage?' The main character, Phillip Carey, tries out a wide number of careers before he finds the one that suits him. I think he managed it before he got to my age though.

Anyway, finally XX came out of recovery and the doctor debriefed us. He pointed out that the mystery item is 'definitely a tumour' but they are trying to find out if it is cancerous or not. This is an example of the incremental drip-feeding of information that comes out from the NHS. Up until this point I had assumed that there was still a chance that it was some sort of cyst. Clearly, they have never held that opinion, but were keeping the information to themselves for whatever reason.

I know what malignant pancreatic tumours mean. The prognosis is about 3-6 months. Pavarotti managed a year, whereas Patrick Swayze lasted a phenomenal 18 months. My friend's mother died with a week of diagnosis.

There are times when everything is OK and I can put it to the back of my mind. After all, my days are filled and busy enough to be distracting. Other times I am consumed with fear. It creeps into my mind like a fungus, its hyphae infecting every pore of my being. XX is very philosophical. She says you have to die of something and everybody does it. She says she is not bothered in the least, though how much of that is for my benefit, I don't know. I find it tricky to be so calm, when the possibility of so much loss and grief are heading for me like a train wreck.

So, I did some washing, climbed the Malverns, discovered that my newish printer has stopped working (add that to the list of defunct electrical items in my house) and generally tried to get on with the business of being alive. Learning to live with it. I don't think I have enough time left to be able to learn to live with it. Things move faster than my internal state.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Dog is in the Dog House.

You must have had those mornings, when you have a whole load of things to get on with and fate conspires against you. After dropping my jet-lagged kids off at school, I went for a walk with Elaine and the dog. I listened to the 9am news as I waited for Elaine to park the car.

It is fairly cold this morning, just above freezing, but I have gone back to wearing my old coat, as the new one I got before Xmas has broken the zip. I already took it back once because the hood ripped, so I am not going to be buying that brand again!

The dog stayed with us for most of the walk and we got back to the cars just before 10am. The dog was nowhere to be seen. It happens quite often, but he tends to turn up within a few minutes. Elaine headed off and I went to get a cup of tea.

Well, I waited and waited and after an hour I gave up and headed home. Just as I was leaving I had a call from Donny and Mel's teacher to say that Pal had managed to arrive at their school, two miles away, and could I come to collect him!

He must have chased something and managed to get himself really lost this time. He was quite pleased to see me though he is definitely in the dog house right now.