Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!


January is named after the god 'Janus' who had two faces and could look forward to the new year and back on the old one. Once more I find that I will be glad to see the back of this last year. It has been a year of ups and downs and for a time there I wondered if I would ever get through it. Like everything though, 2008 too, has passed and like a shares chart (and unlike our economy) I find my stock rising after one of my lowest ebbs.

At the start of the year (and for a good few months) I was dealing with the emotional fallout of the preceding year. Looking back I now realise how emotionally drained I was and I honestly do not know how I didn't have some sort of breakdown and quite frankly I think the old joke is true: I just didn't have the time or the energy to have one. My relationship with my family is still distant and I am still persona non grata with my brother (and that suits me fine actually as I have come to realise that I actually do not like him). 2008 has been a period of time where I have been deep in review and have examined many things that I once held true. I have changed the things I could not accept and accepted the things I could not change. It has been a long road but I have travelled it and I am STILL here.

I could not accept the stress of my last job (sabotage of my projects, covering for my boss who was off ill with no support, long hours etc.) and so I dug my escape tunnel and changed jobs in July, and hell I even got promoted. I also got my MBA Masters Degree after 5 years of studying. I have come to accept the situation with my family and the things that happened in 2007 (so much loss, so much meanness, so much pain). I have come to accept that I cannot change the way they behave and so I have healed relationships with all but my brother who refuses to behave reasonably. I accept this too though I do not like it. With acceptance has come the first feeling of inner peace I have felt in a very long time.

I already know that 2009 is going to initially bring me something unpleasant in the shape of surgery (9th Jan), but that will be the end of Hector (my thyroid lump) and I am hoping for good news once the test report comes back from the path lab.
I will also celebrate a milestone birthday and rather than dreading it, I intend to celebrate with a big holiday somewhere. The rest of it I will make up as I go along and I hope to be better equipped to cope with anything else that is thrown at me. I am certainly stronger a year on than I was at the start of the year.

I am sincerely optimistic that 2009 will be a kinder year and that my stock will continue to rise. I do not make New Year resolutions but, like Janus I do face the coming year with hope and the resolve to put 2008 behind me where it belongs. I wish all of you a prosperous New Year, filled with health, wealth and happiness, especially for those of you whom I know have also had difficult times. I wish it for myself too.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

On the First Day of Christmas...


...the NHS did give to me, an appointment for surgery.

This wasn't exactly what I was hoping for and it wasn't on my list to Santa, but on Christmas Eve I received notice that I am to go into hospital for surgery to remove Hector (my lump) and half my thyroid where it resides. As experience days go I do not think it will catch on as a gift idea somehow:

Congratulations!
You have been given an all expenses paid trip to hospital.
Your experience day will start at 7.30am prompt where you will be assigned to your ward, and includes an overnight stay in one of our beds. You will receive one surgical procedure and path lab report and the anaesthetic is included in your gift! We will provide a stylish backless gown for you to wear and meals during your experience, but don't forget to starve from midnight the night before!
We are looking forward to seeing you on the 9th January.

Don't get me wrong. I am pleased that things are moving quickly as Hector is growing quite quickly and also if it is a tumour I'd rather they took it out sharpish and treated me. I'm just quietly dreading going into hospital. I hate anything medical and I hate sleeping in rooms with strangers. Luckily if all goes well I should only have to stay for one night.

My other gifts were much more pleasant. I had a gorgeous necklace with amethyst, garnet and tanzanite cut stones set in white gold (thank you M), I got some curling tongs, a cosmetic bag (useful for going into hospital), a couple of DVD's, a fun book from CrazieQueen (hugs - also useful for hospital), a beautiful calendar from Old Old Lady of the Hills (thank you dear Naomi) and a selection of wonderful Molten Brown shower and bath gels (they smell divine). All in all I had some lovely gifts and it is always nice to receive a gift from someone as it's nice to be thought of. It gives me a warm feeling :) It counteracts the hospital related fear a little.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

My Christmas Tree (Dec 2009)

I love Christmas. I always have. I believe it's because I have such good memories of Christmas as a child. I love the good old Christmas songs, carol singing, trimming the tree, giving cards and presents (note the skating nun wrapping paper !)and receiving them too and just the whole warm feeling I get this time of year. I love the sight of brightly wrapped presents under the glow of the lights from the Christmas tree. I just love Christmas.

Of course, Christmas is not really Christmas without an appearance from Santa, and mine takes a well earned rest under the tree.


My tree is trimmed with fruits in reds and gold with garlands of berries and ivy. If you look closely you will also spot the odd glittery star and some birds. In fact a white dove of peace sits atop my tree. (A wider view of my tree cna be seen on my photo blog).

One of my favourite things is to sit with only the lights from the tree and mantle piece on with a nice glass of wine or port and watch a film or read. In fact that is exactly what I am going to do next this Christmas Eve. I've even bought some Belgian chocolates as a treat.


And so as I take up my glass I make a toast to all my wonderful blog friends who lift my spirits when it is flagging and make me smile. Goodwill and peace to you all and wishing you a very Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

No news...

Artwork by Charlotte Ahlgren

I'm in limbo. Or at least that's how it feels. I went to see the consultant only to be told that the results of the test were inconclusive and that they would have to remove Hector to find out exactly what sort of lump it is. Apparently, this is often the case so it begs the question: 'If FNA's are often inconclusive in cases such as mine WHY ON EARTH DID YOU SHOVE A NEEDLE INTO MY THROAT?! Personally I would have been happy to forego that experience and go straight to the surgery seeing as that was always on the cards anyway. It appears that in this case, no news is...well... no news.

So, I will be going for surgery in the New Year where they will remove Hector and the half of my thyroid where it has taken up residence. Once removed Hector will go to the path labs for tests. If Hector is benign then that will be that (other than a blood test to check my half-a-thyroid function). If however Hector is 'suspicious' then I will have to go in and the other half of my thyroid removed and undergo radio-isotope therapy and go onto hormone therapy for the resdt of my life.

My plan is to try and put the whole thing out of my mind as much as possible until after Christmas, but at the moment I'm still a bit miffed. I do not like not knowing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

For what we are about to receive...

... May the Lord Make us truly thankful!

Prairie Dog ~ Bristol Zoo, December 2008

I go to the hospital tomorrow for my test results and finally find out what kind of lump Hector is. Thank you to everyone who has stopped by or sent me good wishes, thoughts, prayers and positive vibes since Hector took up residence in my thyroid. Even if Hector didn't take the hint immediately they all helped to buoy my spirits and were truly appreciated.

The photo of the prairie dog was taken on a recent day out at the zoo. The Prairie Dogs had recently been fed and I enjoyed watching them squabble over choice bits of food. I snapped away as they dined and when I got home I noticed that this little fella had his eyes closed. For all the world it looked like he was saying Grace.

I'll post again when I have some news. I'm hoping and parying for the good kind.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Another message from our medical correspondent

It’s a fact. I can confirm that Doctors lie. I saw the consultant the other day who sent me for a Fine Needle Aspiration and an ultrasound. He told me that it was no more painful than having a blood test, but in my throat rather than my arm. The consultant who did the FNA also confirmed this and so, I was ready to believe them. They fibbed. It hurt! The needle going in was fine, it’s when they took it out. It felt like I had been viciously attacked by Chuck Norris with a karate chop to the throat.

Obviously this procedure angered Hector the lump. He's still a little sore and afterwards it was painful to swallow. Harumph. Note to self, the pain scale that doctors use is way different to that of the general populace.

Unfortunately, the ultrasound has confirmed that Hector is not a simple cyst but that it is a hard sizeable nodule. The next step is to get the cytology results back so we know what kind of cells it is made of. This leaves me with two options:


Rock: The Hector nodule is made of normal follicular cells and I go in for surgery in January to have it removed along with half my thyroid.


Hard Place: The Hector nodule is made from ‘suspicious cells’ and I go in for surgery and potentially have the whole thyroid removed, possibly followed by radio-isotope therapy and then go onto hormone therapy for the rest of my life.


This news left me a bit subdued. I was hoping for the most likely and the simplest to cure option of a cyst. Neither option thrills me. I hate hospitals and the prospect of staying in one with ill people and where I must sleep in the same room as strangers fills me with quiet dread.


I find out the cytology results next week. Until then I find it hard to get my head around Hector being anything else but benign. That kind of thing only happens to other people, right?


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Super PM

Our Prime Minister has been keeping a well kept secret...up to now, when he dramatically revealed his secret identity as Super PM! I wonder if he wears his underwear over his trousers? What a horrible thought!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Bagpuss & Co. Say Goodbye

Bagpuss and Oliver Postgate editing

As I was driving home from work today, I was listening to the radio when I was saddened by *this story*.

As a small child I grew up with Oliver Postgate's creations. He and his friend, Peter Firmin co-created loveable and strange charaters in familiar and yet strange worlds where they would act out heartwarming tales for (or so it seemed as I watched entranced in front of the television) my pleasure. Characters like Bagpuss, The Clangers, Ivor the Engine and Noggin the Nog among others. Even as adults these characters have stayed with the generation(s) that grew up with them; who have held these characters close to their hearts as childhood friends. I know several friends who have their own 'Bagpuss', a character that always especially appealed to me, having developed a love of cats (and indeed all animals) at an early age through my dear long departed grandmother.

A few years ago I read Oliver's autobiography. It was a touching, humourous, interesting and sometimes sad read but most of all it conveyed the life of someone who loved his family and making programs for children and enjoyed what he did. His characters are his legacy.

I have posted a video of The Clangers below for (hopefully) your enjoyment. The fact that I grew up loving these characters perhaps explains much about me :)

Friday, December 05, 2008

A message from our medical correspondent...

Last week was a bit of a medical related week for me. I started the week off with a bit of a sore throat which rapidly descended and set up home in my lungs. Breathing shouldn't be something you have to work at so I knew it wasn't a good sign. Anyway, having suffered with a really bad chest infection that lingered for weeks a few months ago I was eager to nip this one in the bud and send the bug squatters packing before they could claim rights. So, off to the doctor I trot who prescribes me the chemical equivalent of a fly swat in the form of antibiotics and steriods for my asthma and gives strict instructions to stay warm and rest. Happily this all seems to be doing the trick.

At the end of the week I had my ultrasound appointment to check out my thyroid lump, Hector. As usual when I get to the hospital it is like a rabbit warren and the sign posting is apalling. I spend several minutes wandering around and trying to follow complex directions from various people which I had no chance of remembering, but through a serious of asking and following and asking again I managed to home in on the ultrasound department just in time.

I need not have worried however as the appointment clearly included a 'long wait' in their lavishly appointed waiting area (plastic chairs and copies of magazines which are months out of date) where I languished for 50 mins. This explained the extortionate amount of £2.00 for 'upto 3 hours' I was charged in the car park. They obviously realised a short stay wasn't on the cards. The ultrasound was over quickly however, and now I just have to wait until next Wednesday to see the consultant. Fingers crossed.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Escapism

As a child my nose was always in a book. Even before I could read properly I would look at the pictures and tell the stories from memory. I got my love of books from my parents who would read to me at bedtime. Books became some of my most treasured possessions and I have always had great difficulty parting with any to make room for more. They represent knowledge, ideas and possibilities. They are full of experiences that otherwise would never be open to me, they offer the thrill of danger from the safety of my sofa and I get to travel on a journey with people whom I get to know as the story unfolds.

When I was studying for my MBA I had trouble finding time to read for pleasure. My spare time was taken up with essays, projects and reading text books and journals as well as finding time for everyday matters. I studied for 5 years and in that time I probably only got through a few books. I am now getting back into reading for pleasure. For me this is very different to the type of reading I do for studying or work where I scan read for pertinent information. When I read a book for pleasure I like to digest every word, to catch every nuance and build a picture in my mind of the land I am visiting and the people I meet there.

It seemed apt then, when I came across this meme at the lovely Diane's at Forks of the Moment (a blog well worth visiting). Taking part is simple:

Display the badge on your blog and pass it on to five other bloggers. Tell them to open the nearest book to page 46. Write out the fifth sentence on that page, and also the next two to five sentences. The closest book, not the coolest, or the one you think will sound the best. THE CLOSEST!!!

The book next to my bed is currently 'The Winter King' by Bernard Cornwell. It is the first book in the Warlord Chronicles Trilogy and according to the cover it 'sheds new light on the Arthurian legend, combining myth with historical accuracy and the brutal action of the battlefield'. Cool. So here is what is on page 46:

'I have been instructed ,' she told Morgan, and when Morgan shrilly demanded by whom, Nimue just smiled. Morgan was double Nimue's size and twice her age, but when Merlin had taken Nimue to his bed the power in Ynys Wydryn passed to her and in the face of that authority the older woman was helpless. She still objected to my going.

If you want to know more then you'll just have to read the book, but it is a compelling read with a great feel to it. Isn't escapism great?

I am not going to tag anyone but if you would like to do this meme then feel free and I will come and take a look. Don't forget to display the lovely button!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Somewhere between a rock and a hard place.

I went back to the doctor today. My lump in my neck has got bigger over the last 2-3 weeks and is now easily noticeable. I'm starting to think I should name it or something. Perhaps Hector? Yes, Horrible Hector. Humongous Hector! Hector the unwelcome.

My doctor decided he isn't happy with Hector, (join the club says I), so I am being referred to a thyroid specialist. Urgently and this time they mean urgent as in 'next week'. That's pretty darn quick for our Health System. 'Urgency' can be roughly translated to 'seriousness' so alarm bells start ringing in the back of my head. Before they can drive me nuts I ask the doctor questions:

'What happens next?'
- I will get an appointment and be seen very soon by a specialist. It is likely I will need a biopsy and a scan but the specialist will decide when he sees me.
'What is it likely to be?
- Can't tell until the test are done, but it's most likely a cyst. However, it could be something serious.

Gulp. Serious?

Apparently the odds are very much in favour of the cyst option and given the choice so am I. It's not nice and is likely to need either fine needle aspiration or surgery but it's the best outcome and most likely. So it looks like I have an appointment with a man or woman with a penchant for plunging needles in people's necks. Not an attractive option but better than the something serious. Do I really have to be there though?

I'm currently trying not to think about it. Any of it. I hate anything medical and hospitals fill me with dread. On the other hand I hate Hector. I can feel him there now, like an unwelcome guest. I also hate not knowing so hopefully by the end of next week I'll have some more positive news and Hector's days will be numbered.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Running

I have been researching treadmills. It's high time I took charge of my fitness again. I used to go to the gym regularly but cash flow issues post divorce and time with my work over the past year or so have made regular gym visits a thing of the past. So I have been rethinking how I will keep fit. In my gym-going days I used to dedicate blocks of time of 1-2 hours at a time to exercise. This simply isn't a feasible option for me any more and so I need to be more flexible in my approach to getting and keeping fit.

Enter the treadmill idea. I already have an exercise bike which I use, some weights, a balance ball and exercise mat and a punch bag which is sadly slumped in a corner. With a treadmill this is enough for a small home gym. A home gym means I can fit in small blocks of exercise more regularly. Just 20-30 mins a day is better than nothing. I feel that this is more important than ever with my current health problems and so now I just have to identify the right treadmill at the right price! let's face it, if a prawn can do it, then so can I! :D

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Autumn Verse

Photo from the internet

It happened so quickly this year
Overnight it seemed
All was laid bare
Where once a verdant carpet

Covered the sky

Suddenly a fire
Swept that lofty meadow
And Oh! What a blaze!
Hues of amber, gold and crimson
Filled the sky
Leaping up and flaming high
Bright as jewels

Then, in the blink of the eye

The wind blowed
The fire was out
Leaving the sky a steely grey
Skeletal arms
Reach for the heavens
Trying to hold
Onto what once was.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remember


They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning.
We will remember them. - Laurence Binyon

Today, 11th November is Armistice Day. It is the time when we remember those that have given their lives in all wars so that we may enjoy the freedoms we have. We remember their sacrifice through two minutes silence on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

Armistice Day commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Rethondes in France for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning and hence why we use this time to put aside two minutes to remember.I come from a family with a military heritage and so I get quite angry when people do not show this small act of respect. It saddened me a few years ago when I was at a shopping mall and the two minutes silence was underway when a gaggle of teenagers burst out of a shop and said “Why has everyone stopped?” quite loudly. I was saddened that they had to ask. It highlighted a massive hole in education which I do not believe has been addressed.

I think everyone is more enlightened these days though, due to the conflicts in the Middle East where we get far too regular reports of another life given in service of their country. It is heartening that people are once again honouring the military on their return from conflict with parades. Surely this, and two minutes silence once a year is the least we can do?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Feeling Like Rocky

“Life hits harder than any man can, and one's ability to keep getting up until the final bell rings is the true measure of self.” ~ Rocky Balboa

A cheesy quote? Perhaps, but it hits home for me at the moment (no pun intended). Work continues to keep me busy, as does the everyday niff naff and trivia that surfaces. As ever I have had little time for blogging lately but this week or so I have not felt like it much. It’s not that I have nothing to say, but that I haven’t got the energy or inclination to discuss it. I’m pre-occupied I’m afraid.

I found a sizeable lump in my neck. At first I thought it was a swollen thyroid as I have been feeling tired as well as having a few other symptoms that match this kind of problem. So I went to the doctors. He immediately ordered blood tests and an urgent scan (which I have to wait 5-6 weeks for before a diagnosis can be made). I did not like the use of the word ‘urgent’. Apparently it’s most likely a cyst that is having an adverse affect on my health but (and here is where the doctor became tight lipped) it might not be. I’m trying not to think about it but at the back of my mind is the nagging little thought…’what if it is something else?’ Mind you, if it is a cyst it’s not exactly a barrel of laughs as the treatment involves medication to control my thyroxine levels and possible a fine needle biopsy, and drain or surgery to remove it, depending on what is revealed by the scan.

I can’t help but feel a bit picked on as it seems as if I just overcome one thing to be faced with another challenge. I know that railing at the universe and shouting at windmills solves nothing but its all part of the process. For now I am resigned to waiting. I don’t like not knowing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Shoeboxes

So... my estrangement from blogland has continued. But I cannot simply blame work, although that continues to be busy since we lost two people from the team to cover an urgent project elsewhere in the organisation (and are still expected to keep all the balls in the air!). Sure there are the usual never ending chores and the feeding and cleaning of my animal family but that's not just what has kept me away either. There have been two things that have kept me away. The first is organising things for the historical fencing club I am a member and administrator of. I have recently started a newsletter for the club and edited the first edition and am also organising a trip to an Armoury.

The second is that I have been filling shoe boxes. Every year, Operation Christmas Child, organised through Samaritans Purse send shoe boxes filled with little gifts to underprivileged children across the world. Children who would not otherwise receive anything for Christmas. Children who have very little of their own. I have been collecting bits and pieces all year and have managed to get enough things together to fill six shoe boxes (five of which are in the photo below). I also got the team at work involved and have been running things to raise money to buy more items and to cover the cost of sending the boxes. I hope to send 18 boxes this year.


The boxes are filled with the most basic of items. Things that are cheap to us, things that we take for granted like toothpaste and toothbrushes, combs, soap and flannels, pencils, gloves and woolley hats and scarves. Pens and other stationary (some of these children cannot go to school unless they have their own stationary), little toys like yo-yos, playing cards, soft toys and toy cars. Some boxes go to families so poor that they take the wrapping paper off the boxes and decorate their home (a shack in a slum) with it. They use the box and the rubber band that holds the lid on. Nothing is wasted.

Why do I do this for children I will never meet? The reason is quite selfish I'm afraid. I do it in memory of my niece who was killed last year. I spend the money I can no longer spend on her on these children because I wanted something good to come from something so sad. I do it because I had wonderful Christmases as a child and I find it sad that some children don't get a Christmas. I do it because it makes me feel good. And really, in the world we live in these days, what's so bad about that?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Home zoo

Say hello to Dessie, the newest member of my household. This is what happens when I'm given a bonus at work and I treat myself to something I would like!

Dessie is a Bearded Dragon and hails from Australia. At the moment she is still a baby at about 10 inches long but she will grown to about 2 feet (including tail). Just look at those markings down her back - isn't she beautiful?

Dessie is not the most active of creatures, choosing to mostly bask under her heat lamp on her favourite branch. She comes down for her twice daily feed which includes crickets and veggies, though she much prefers the crickets. She is extremely docile and hand tame and enjoys watching the fish in the aquarium. So far Bob the cat has not really shown much interest and as long as he doesn't have to share his food I don't think he's bothered!

I have quite the home menagerie these days with Bob, the fish, the two geckos and Dessie. I like having animals in my life.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thinking

My mind has been working overtime. When I haven't been working it seems my mind is not content to rest. It seems that just because things happened in the past, my mind treats time quite differently, recalling events and bending time so that things that should be in the past are in fact very much of the now. It makes it difficult to move on. It is hard to go forward when the past is anchoring you to another time like an umbilical cord reaching back. It makes it impossible to forget.

This last year has not been particularly traumatic. It has been very stressful, but not traumatic. An outsider could even say I have had a successful year as I gained my Masters degree and got promoted at work. These events passed by uncelebrated however with no congratulations from my family and somehow the the wind was knocked out of my sails.

Some of you know that I have been through a couple of traumatic years prior to the last 12 months. I have been through surgery, divorce where I lost not just a husband but friends and security, the loss of my niece in a car accident, and the additional stress of carrying extra work while my boss was ill for 9 months (not to mention my mothers illness and hospitilisation). Hot on the heals of all of this came the personal attack from my brother followed by the closing of ranks from the rest of my family. I felt like I lost them all. I am not being dramatic when I say a piece of me shrivelled and died because that is exactly how it felt. So much loss.

A year on and I have realised that my mind has been trying to work things out. Analysing what has happened, trying to make sense of it. In short I have been looking for closure (awful phrase but so very apt). The truth is I don't really know why my brother launched such a personal attack on me at a time when I was so very vulnerable. I don't really know why my family turned their backs when I asked for help (because I have gone over it and over it and I did not deserve it). I don't know why my marriage ended with so much bile and why the person who once promised to cherish me let everything go with no attempt at reconciliation and no discussion. No closure.

I have been trying to second guess because no-one would talk to me. Every time I tried I met a brick wall, so my mind has been patiently beavering away for over a year now, trying to figure it out. That's a long time to be living in the past.

Of course, me being me I have blamed myself for everything. I felt unlovable and so it must have been something wrong with me, right? Wrong. The problem comes because I have no other explanation. Sure I have guesses and suspicions. I suspect my brother was hurting from the loss of our niece and took it out on me, I suspect his pride stops him from apologising (though this doesn't explain his other mean behaviour), I suspect my ex and I were going different ways. I suspect my surgery and other events placed a strain on my marriage. I suspect my family would rather avoid an emotionally difficult situation and hope it goes away. Truth is I just don't really know and the most awful thing about living through all of this crap is that I have been left to try and figure all this out on my own. To try and put it behind me and move on.

So, I have to accept not knowing (very difficult for someone whose favourite question since being a child is 'why?'). It is time to snip that umbilical chord to the past events and just deal with things as they are now. My new estranged relationship with my family makes me sad but when I look at it I realise that they haven't changed, just my perception of them has (though this was my world and so it's not surprising that it has felt like it has shifted on it's axis). I think I should stop being so hard on myself and if no-one else wants to celebrate my recent achievements then it's up to me. I hereby give myself permission to pat myself on the back and say 'well done. You did good kid, despite everything you still came through'.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Remember Me?

Remember me? It’s been awhile I know and I have no defence other than the fact that my previous level of busy-ness escalated for awhile but has now settled down to general chaos. All my good intentions to post and visit over the last couple of weeks have simply contributed yet another paving slab on the road to hell.

I have missed the interaction with my blogging friends and fear that my status as AWOL has meant that some previously well trodden virtual paths between my blog and some others are well and truly grown over. For those tenacious souls who have dropped by just to say hi, I want you to know that I truly appreciated your thoughtfulness. Thank you.


I am afraid I haven’t done much except work or chores or sleep so in the absence of anything interesting to blog about I thought I would share some quotes from a page a day desk calendar I have on my desk at work (given to me by CrazieQueen last Christmas). Everyday it provides a quote about friendship and while some are sickly sweet some are worth sharing:


“A true friend never gets in your way – unless you happen to be going down”

~ Anonymous


“A good friend – like a tube of toothpaste – comes through in a tight squeeze”

~Anonymous


“The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are right”

~ Mark Twain


“True friends are those who really know you but love you anyway”

~ Edna Buchanan


“The loneliest woman in the world is a woman without a close woman friend”

~ George Santayana


“You can always tell a real friend: When you’ve made a fool of yourself, he doesn’t feel you’ve done a permanent job”

~ Laurence J. Peter


“No people feel closer or more friendly than those who are on the same diet”

~ Anonymous


Based on these I think I can count my real friends on one hand, but then I have never been one to keep associates.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I'll do it tomorrow...

This is what I tell myself everyday. I'll get round to it tomorrow; I'll have time tomorrow, I'll definitely do it tomorrow. Of course, for me at least, tomorrow always seems to be, well... tomorrow.

So another week has passed where I haven't been able to get round to blogging. Sure, I've managed to visit some blogs over a sandwich at lunchtime and have promised myself that I would return later and comment and then just haven't had time to visit again. I am finding it all quite frustrating and I am missing the virtual interaction I have with my blog friends.

The reason? Work of course! As you know I started a new job in July and it has been a pretty steep learning curve. Add to that the fact that two of the projects I am looking after (I provide technical advice and assurance to projects) have turned out to be far more difficult, with extremely challenging deadlines and difficult personalities involved then this has turned my steep learning curve into a vertical take-off! I have been coming home feeling very drained, very tired and a wee bit snappish on occasion. Twice I have been given projects whose emergency has become my crisis and twice I have had to rearranged my workload last week. I am old enough and experienced enough to know that last minute changes are the norm in life but I do feel that I have had more than my fair share given my newbie status in this job. Gripe over.

Anyway, the long and short of it has been that I have had less time and energy to blog and do other stuff as well. This week is going to be another corker but I am hoping that things will settle down after this and my vertical take-off will cease before I reach orbit. Thanks for popping by and I will be by to visit as soon as I can.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Darwin Candidate

The fluffy innocent looking bunny in the picture caused a bit of a stir this week. In fact, one woman thought it was nothing less than an emergency. She called the emergency services to complain that the rabbits ears were not floppy, as advertised by the person she bought it from. Discovering this story led me to pose several questions, which accosted my mind in quick succession not least of which was what on earth was going on in her head?

Worryingly this woman isn't alone. Emergency call centre staff have reported cases of people phoning to get telephone numbers and to report getting soaked by a passing car which drove through a puddle! Lordy, if there were ever cases for the Darwin awards then I think these folk are ideal candidates. I never cease to be surprised at how stupid people can be, nor how selfish, as while there is certainly an amusing side to this story, while these selfish and deeply deeply stupid people are having their own personal crisis someone somewhere may be in genuine need of help and not able to get it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Double trouble


I have always been fascinated by reptiles. Even as a small child my favourite toys were a large cuddly crocodile (which was meant to be a draught excluder for the door but which I adopted as a best friend) and a rather long cuddly snake which was made for me. I always wanted my own pet snake or lizard but my mother was not exactly keen.

Well, recently my childhood dream came true. I visited a small shop specialising in aquariums and reptiles and got talking to the owner. I must have seemed keen as he let me handle one of the juvenile leopard geckos. She was so small and sweet that I wanted to take her home and that is exactly what I ended up doing. She is an albino leopard gecko, similar to the one in the picture above (from the web). I called her Bianca.


A couple of days later Isabel joined her from the shop. She was her tank mate there and so it made sense to me to have them both as they got on, rather than try and introduce a stranger later on. Isabel is a ghost leopard gecko which refers to the muted colouring she has which is similar to the one in the second picture which I found on the web. At the moment they are both far too shy to photograph and being nocturnal this would be a challenge anyway!

Leopard geckos are very docile creatures and are fairly undemanding in terms of care though handling live bugs to feed them takes a bit of getting used to. Good job I'm not squeamish! My two are still juveniles and only a few weeks old so are quite timid and hide a lot. They are already becoming more bold however and will calm down a lot by the time they reach adulthood. I'm looking forward to watching the m grow.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Last Year

Today is the day it happened. One year ago today my niece was knocked off her bicycle by a car and died in hospital less than 24 hours later from her injuries. She was 11 years old. One year ago today I wrote this.

Tomorrow, September 9th is the day my niece was pronounced dead. A year has passed and my thoughts are drawn back to that day. Last year on that day I wrote this.

We all miss Jessica. She was a bubbly girl who was chatterbox and a half and loved dancing. My family is going to present her dance school with a plaque to be awarded to the student who improves the most, in her memory. She is sorely missed there as she used to help all the younger children learn the steps to the dances.

My family all miss her very much.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rule Britannia!


In June I went away for a few days to Edinburgh, which is now home to The Royal Yacht Britannia where she is moored as a permanent exhibition. HMY Britannia was launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 16th April 1953. During her career as Royal Yacht she conveyed the Queen, other members of the Royal Family and various dignitaries on 696 foreign visits and 272 visits in British waters. This included a honeymoon cruise for the Prince of Wales and Diana in 1981. One notable guest about the yacht included US General Normal Schwarzkopf, who commented when he saw the engines: "Well, I've now seen the museum pieces. Where are the real engines?" as Britannia's engine room was always kept spotless by the crew as a matter of pride.


I couldn't pass up the chance to visit such a piece of British History while I was in the city so we made our way to the Ocean Terminal, Leith where she is now moored. The photo above is of the bridge and is where the tour begins. I had no idea how big Britannia was until I saw her for myself. Somehow you never really get the 'bigness' of something when you see it on the television.


The tour took you on a specific route throughout the yacht, but otherwise you were free to do the tour in your own time with the auditory guide providing information on each room. It covered both the Royal Family quarters and the crews. The photo above is of the officers bar, which linked to their lounge. It is the playing field of a little known sport called 'Wombat Tennis'. The aim was for two sides to get control of the wombat and get him on the ceiling fan. The wombat was a gift from one of the ladies in waiting and he still resides there on the ceiling fan.


This photo is of the crews sleeping quarters. A large part of the yacht was given to housing the large crew that was needed to keep the yacht running smoothly. Britannia was also designed to be converted into a hospital ship in time of war, although this never happened and she had medical quarters including a small ward and surgery. She was used to evacuate over 1,000 refugees from the civil war in Aden in 1986 though.


The Royal living quarters are in sharp contrast to those of the crew, being much more spacious and rich. The photo above is of the family lounge where they liked to gather after dinner for tea and coffee and play cards and other games. The photo below is of the sumptuous dining room where many a distinguished guest from around the world was entertained. The walls of the dining room are adorned with various gifts that were given the Royal Family.


The photo below is of one of the Royal bedrooms. Britannia had adjoining bedrooms for The Queen and Prince Phillip and across the hall was a room containing a double bed which was bought on board the yacht by Prince Charles for his honeymoon cruise with Diana.


A couple of weeks ago I ran a contest asking 'Whose bedroom is this?' and so the answer is of course HRM Queen Elizabeth II. Two people got the answer correct so I will send each a postcard as their prize as promised. They were Niall from Dancing for Beginners and Rashbre from Rashbre Central. Both have excellent blogs and are well worth a visit. Niall does some amazing art simply using tiny dots and Rashbre is a great photographer. Guys, if you would like to claim your postcard then send me your postal address via email on my profile page. It was difficult to get a decent shot of the yacht where she is moored so I thought I would post a stock pic of Britannia from the web so you can see her in her full glory.


Before I go, thanks to everyone who has wished me well while I have been ill. I went back to the doctors and this time came away with a cocktail of drug that are pretty strong but seem to be doing the trick. I have been signed off work for ten days to rest and quite frankly that is a relief as the side effects from the tablets are pretty awful and include trembling and shaking, hot flushes that leave me clammy, dizziness and lack of sense of taste. But hey, at least I can breathe again and the cough seems to be on the retreat. At last.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bring on the trumpets! Apparently.

Thanks to all those who stopped by and left well wishes. I can honestly say I haven't felt so awfully ill in a long looooong time. I am much improved though still far from well, weak as a kitten and still having difficulty breathing properly and that darned cough is still here. I've been coughing for over a month now and the novelty has worn off somewhat shall we say. Enough for me to go back to the doctors next week if needs be despite really hating going anywhere near anything medical. And this time I will refuse to see Dr. Deaf if they give me an appointment with him.

Anyway, I am still working on a post from my trip to Edinburgh (there will be a couple eventually, I promise), but in the meantime I thought I would leave you with this little video. It's an advert for some very tasty natural sweeties that have recently been launched in the UK. It just tickled me is all. The humour is right off the wall and right up my alley :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Doctor Deaf

I didn't take this advice. Bob seemed unwilling and quite frankly his fur tickles my nose so I stuck to regular tissues despite getting through a box a day for the past couple of days. Of course it has to be the aloe balm ones as my nose is sore enough as it is, a sure sign that the 'slime monster' has come back for another party bash in my head. This time he has bought reinforcements in the shape of Headache Horace, Achey Al, Temperature Teena and Coughin' Colin. Actually, Colin was already here, I guess he never really left when I was ill this time last month. It appears that my bronchi are inflamed somewhat and this is playing merry hell with my asthma and I'm wheezing like a pair of old bellows.

All this prompted a return visit to the doctors which is somewhere I hate to go. I've never been fond of medical people due to a couple of negative experiences when I was younger, including one when I was getting headaches nearly everyday only to have the doctor write 'HYPOCHONDRIAC' on my notes. I know that he wrote this as years later I took a look and saw it there in capital letters. The thing is, soon after he wrote this I was eventually diagnosed with migraines.

The doctor I saw this week reminded me of that doctor. I tried to explain that I have had a cough for about a month, and that I had just got much worse but he was not listening. He had read on my notes that I have asthma and that was all he could hear. I tried to explain that I no longer considered myself asthmatic as it never bothers me unless I am ill but all he would do was say my asthma was playing up. I then asked if I could have an airomir inhaler as it's difficult for me to use a normal one at the moment. He refused saying they were too expensive (why do I pay my National Insurance contributions?). I left feeling very frustrated and discontented with the whole experience.

So here I am, off work and pretty much sofa/bed bound. I am bored beyond belief but my head hurts if I use the computer too much. I am working on an Edinburgh post at the moment which I hope to have finished soon, meanwhile I have a photo of an orangutan on my photoblog if you feel like taking a look.