Which way to go?

14 04 2012

Is there a good way to die? I have just finished reading a great book ” The time Travelers Wife” and if you haven’t read this or might be planning to stop blogging now, in which a guy called Henry flits to and fro through time, popping in and out of his soul mates life. Henry’s soul mate Claire first meets Henry when she is about six and he is a grown man, there must be a reason why Henry is drawn to her as he has no choice where his time travel takes him ,so it must be some kind of Kismet. Their relationship ,purely platonic at this time, twists and turns along untill they finally meet when they are both in real-time and are adult. Their love, although encapsulated in this bizarre scenario is so believable that you naturally expect a happy ending. During a recent bout of insomnia I decided to read the next chapter of this romance and was surprised to find myself sobbing into its pages, never has a book moved me so. Henry has realised that he has never time traveled and met Claire as an old woman, he realises, and you would need to read the book to truly understand how likely this is, that during his travels he has died. He knows the year, which is some time off but is unable to tell Claire! I can’t begin to tell you how unbelievably sad this part of the book is but it did leave me with a burning question, would I want to know when I Was going to die so I could prepare for my own demise or would I like to just slip away unexpectedly?

Oddly while at the hairdresser’s today this subject came up. My hairdressers father had recently died from leukaemia and she was about to run the London marathon in his honour, this is going to be tough for the poor woman as she hadn’t expected to be accepted on her first application and is now training like mad. Had he been ill for long? No she said, he had only been diagnosed about six weeks before and wished he hadn’t known what he had.
On the other hand the mother of a close friend died last year of a heart attack, Carole had been fit and active, a non smoker and appeared to be in the best of health. Her family were devastated! So many things unsaid, so many gaps in their lives that Carole usually filled and they had not had time to consider the impact that her leaving them would have. But she would have hated a long slow death, so I suppose we should rejoice that she was spared that and remember her vitality and how she shaped the life that we still live in her memory.
In contrast, some people battle on with long illnesses for what seems like a lifetime. My sister in law Sue was diagnosed with a terminal tumour on her kidney, she was very brave and struggled on for many months. Unfortunately, or so it appeared to me, she was unable, even though she knew her time was short,to enjoy the remainder of her life as she was totally absorbed with looking for a cure, strange Australian herbs, visualisation, spiritual healing, hoping for not the impossible but the unlikely. Perhaps understandable as she had a young daughter who needed her, but very sad that her final days where so….that she could not have had more fun.
A good friend, Verinda, was cured of breast cancer, but I felt she was always waiting for its return. Unfortunately she was right and many years later it has returned. Verinda however seems relieved, I saw her recently and it was as if all her cares had fallen away, she looked so well and vibrant, full of life she seemed to have looked death in the eye and challenged it to spoil her fun. She will be missed, I hope I am as brave when my time comes.
Like many I have seen elderly parents fade away, I think welcoming an end of days. So many ways to leave, so many different paths and doorways, which one will be chosen for each of us? If you could choose , How would you like to go?


Huston, I think We have a Problem.

11 10 2011

Does my bum look big in This

Poor Doris had a prolapse, in layman’s terms her bum fell out!

I let the hens out of the coop for a run and her bits had fallen out of her vent. My first reaction was oh my god, what on earth is that because she had  a swelling the size of a Golf ball hanging out of her. Ahhhhh the internet must have the answer? After much surfing I came across http://littlehenrescue.co.uk/after.aspx and this seemed to have all the instructions I needed.

Admittedly I was a bit short on some of the Materials

*Flexiguard bandage (equestrian product), or any bandage that sticks to itself and has elastic material? Nope but I do have a crepe Bandage and a safety pin

*Haemorrhoid cream, thats ok big tube of Preperation H upstairs

*Surgical pad? Oh dear, Sadly I seem to have a rather inadequate first aid kit. But… i do have a panty Liner.

*Surgical gloves? luckily I am good at improvising so one of the dogs poo bags worn over my hand will have to do.   Poor Doris, Her bum Fell out!Right equipment gathered, what next. It seems I must stick my finger in Poor Doris and poke her prolapse in. OOOOOH I am not sure I can do this,but what are the alternatives? Another hefty Vet bill or Wring her neck? Not sure I can do this either, so back to the internet. After some lengthy research and having read many smallholders forums it would seem that this is not an  uncommon event in the chicken world and  many have home helped their hens.

Don’t worry Doris I will be very gentle.

So there  I was, Knelt on the lawn on an unseasonably Warm October day.Hen between my Knees with its head up my skirt so she doesn’t struggle, Poo bag, generously lubricated with the preparation H on Hand with Nurse Monty happily leaping around eager to assist.                                                                         Monty thought he might like to helpRight, Gently push the prolapse back in inserting your finger a few centimetres. I took a deep breath and went for it,. Doris wriggled a bit but actually it wasn’t too bad, nowhere near as gruesome as i had expected. Doris did her damdest to push both the lump and my finger back out which was a bit weird, but I began to feel quite confident that I could do this, but every time I took my finger out the prolapse came back out.

Back to the little Hen instructions, if only I had fully read these in the first place. Push it in then hold the vent closed for five minutes.

OK back in the kneel, Chicken, Skirt formation, I poke Poor Doris’s  bits back inside her and hold closed the vent, Which from this position I can only describe as looking like A female Chicken Foreskin, if you get the picture? Stage two requires that I put more Ointment on the pad hold it in place over the vent while securely bandaging it in place so that the prolapse is unable to escape. This, the web site suggests is a four handed procedure, I unfortunately only have Two and a very unhelpful Canine Nurse. Now as anyone who has tried it will tell you, Bandaging a chicken is not easy. The Bandage unravelled all over the place, Doris was doing her Squawking best to escape my clutches and me two hands short when Nurse Monty decides to chase an imaginary cat out of the Garden, pulls a muscle in his leg and Joins the cacophony, Yelping and squealing in pain. Summoning as calm a voice as I could manage I persuaded him to lay down until I could get to him. Having secured Doris’s  truss with a big safety pin I stood back and couldn’t help but giggle as she staggered about in her new Pants! It Would seem that without Her wings for balance she cant stand properly and every few steps resulted in her laying on her side unable to get back up. For her own Protection I put her in a Big Cardboard box and the next Morning took off her bandages in case she needed to lay an egg. Not quite healed but improved we kept her on her own for the day in case the other, somewhat brutal hens, decided to peck at her. Any wound or scratch seems to be fare game to them.

I am now pleased to report that after a repeat procedure the next night Doris is now Fixed! Monty is still Nursing a sprained leg as he will Not stop charging about, but now is on a course of very expensive anti-inflammatory  stuff from the Vet.

Today I am a Chicken Fixer! Maralyn

Today I am going to be an Artist!

20 07 2011

Well staycation over now, back to work. Just in case anyone is interested Beach Art, My final holiday project went well. I will need time to write it up but here is a little Taster.

Scrapbook – Tide, Time and living in the now. 

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Chicken Pie

9 07 2011

On Thursday, as part of my staycation experience week I decided to be a Baker. Nothing very unusual there, this is something I do regularly and although I enjoyed the experience I didn’t think there was very much to share with you all, so decided not to write about it.

The next day I went out with Doug and Monty for a walk and got to discussing my earlier post from The Turner Gallery. We talked about how you can look at something and not really see what is in front of you unless you look more deeply and take moment to think.

Oak Leaf

A leaf on the pavement is just another leaf until you really look, See the veins that run through it and as you look closer more tinier veins that carry nutrients to its tip. What wondrous symmetry natures programming has put in place to repeat this form over and over again and the texture and colour as you gently rub your thumb over its surface is not fully acknowledged untill you make a conscious effort to see it. We talked of how the simplest of things give you pleasure but often experiences and opportunity are taken for granted. So I am going to share my baking with you.

10 oz of self-raising flour,I sieve this vigorously into a bowl, gentle clouds billowing above and covering the kitchen worktop, hands, in fact anything within its range with a fine dusting, getting finer towards the edges like a soft powdery illustration of a nuclear fallout pattern. Quite appropriate really as hubby always says the kitchen looks like a bomb has hit it after I have been there.

5 oz of margarine straight from the fridge cold and tacky in my hand. I cut it into pieces which create little craters as they plop into the flour, forming their own little cloudburst of wheaten smoke.Girl sieving flour

The salt hard and crystalline, sparkling in the sun that shines through the kitchen window  goes in next, 1 tsp. Then in with the hands, the flour cold and soft at the same time on the backs of my finger as they plunge into and under, reminding me of  the soft down on my Mothers cheek as I gently stroked it to say my last goodbyes. Cold and Hard usually go together like Ice, cold and soft i find unusual.  I select the first pieces of fat to be gently squeezed and rubbed between my fingers and thumbs, Like Fagin testing the quality of a silk Handkerchief newly picked from a rich mans pocket. The flakes that flutter gently down from between my fingers getting smaller and smaller as I plunge my hands again and again into the now warming flour, repeating this motion until only small fine crumbs are present in my shiny metal bowl. I am unable to complete this task without making a chewing motion with my jaw, like a cow chewing the cud. Why I do this is a complete mystery but I always have, a reflex, like opening you mouth as you try to spoon feed a child, irresistible. Luckily baking is usually a solo pastime so there are not to many witnesses to my Kitchen Gurning.

Water is then trickled in like little rivers in a barren white sanded desert. I do not know how much, just how much is enough. My favorite tool for this next bit is my grey handled knife which I swizzle around the bowl, enjoying its scraping metallic tune, until no water can be seen and the crumbs are all clumped together in moist little boulders in the bowl, a cratered, free form lunar landscape. Back in with the hand, only one this time. my Fingers swizzle the same way my knife did I hate the way that the dough attaches itself to my fingers. I use only one hand for this as I need to have one clean hand to turn on the tap to wash it off. Gently I gather the clumps into one soft but not wet ball and use it to mop up any stray bits of dough that are left in the bottom, slightly turning the forming pastry until the basin is clean and the dough is smooth. As I pick up the bowl to make way for the rolling I notice an un-floured void where it had stood. perfectly round and unnoticed until this moment, it cries out for a smiley face to be drawn inside but i resist the urge. Were I to walk away with my bowl and desert the kitchen like the Mary Celeste it would be clear what homely task had been taking place here.

The first 2/3 of the dough I roll out to line the pie plate, my favourite Pie plate, a tin plate, Black enamel speckled with white the kind you might find on a camping expedition. Mine is quite deep with a small rim so as not to make to bigger crust, the same Tin Plate I have used for twenty years or more to bake pies for my Family. It is like an old friend its familiarity cheers me as I hang the rolled pastry over the rolling-pin and place it gently over the plate allowing it to settle into the dish and over hang the edges. I  flour the worktop again flinging the flour around with free abandon, there’s nobody here to witness the disaster zone that my kitchen has become, before rolling the pie lid. Succulent chunks of chicken and white sauce are placed in the pie the light catching it like a sunlit milky pool. Two rashers of Bacon snipped into pieces are added like little pink fishes to the pool while lily pad slices of Mushroom float upon the top. Right, ready for the lid now, softened in the warmth of my Kitchen, it resists being placed and crimped atop my sumptuous filling.

Fresh from the Coop a big Brown egg. I crack it sharply on the side of the cup before prising the now broken shell apart and emptying it in. It sits there in the bottom of the cup, golden-yellow yolk plump and proud floating in its thick viscous snotty egg white. This I beat with a fork ,watch the sunny yolk leak out into the albumen before combining into a honey coloured liquid which will turn my paisty looking pastry into a Bronzed sun-kissed creation that will tease the senses before being gobbled up with pleasure.

Baked to perfection My Chicken Pie emerges from my decrepid old cooker as proud and handsom as its pre baked aroma has promised. wrapped in a familiar red and white tea towel I carry it down the street before presenting  it to my son and his family for Dinner.

A dinner we sit and share together, this is a special time as they have just brought home their new baby, our grandson. My old Pie plate, beautiful Baby Max and Chicken Pie. Simple pleasures not taken for granted by this Nanny.

(isn’t he adorable? I can’t take my eyes off him)


17 12 2010

>We are expecting a baby!!! Not “we” as in Hubby and me but “we” as in, my son and his partner are expecting a baby. this is fantastic news, there hasn’t been a baby in my family for quite some time. Well not one that I get to hold anyway. I was amazed at my response when they told me the news, I squealed, for those of you that don’t know me I am not a squealy sort of person. In fact recently I have some times thought that maybe I have forgotten how to have fun. I watch the squealing women on the TV screaming over stuff, Film stars, game shows, getting drunk and dirty falling out of bars, Christmas…….. and I wonder, What are they getting so excited about? Is anything that exciting anymore? and then I heard this wonderful news about the baby! I cant wait, I know I will have to wait, I know it’s not my Baby but WOW what a feeling as they say in the song. And then I started to dream a little, then I started to remember the moment I saw my Granddaughter for the first time. That was the day I became a believer. No, not the god thing, the day I became a believer in love at first sight. You love your own children, you laboured and brought them into the world surrounded by anxiety’s and doubts, Worries that you cant take care of them properly, wont know how to feed them, dress them, get them to sleep through the night, afraid that if you don’t manage to snatch 6 consecutive hours of sleep at least once this week you really will start to behave like a Rabid Mother Gerbil and eat the tiny offspring, so it would be a damn swindle if you didn’t get to love them. Grandchildren are different, they are like a perfect sugary gift that smell of something indescribably wonderful and baby Talc. You know all the right things to do, even if it is forbidden to let the new mum in on your secret, and when you get to hold the new baby a warm glow spreads through you as you see a little glimpse of the baby you where to anxious and tired to fully appreciate the first time around. Anyway after I recovered from my initial excitement I pondered my own baby’s and pulled out some old photo’s. Oh how sad they make me feel, what amazing little boys they where, I feel a sense of loss that I can’t remember more of their growing up, I would love to savour the joy of watching them sleep without the fear that I may wake them. Share their glee at painting my Freezer with gloss paint while i wasn’t watching, without the feeling of guilt that I had taken my eye off of them, they where so proud of their handy work. I would like the chance to do it all again and not rush them to grow. I cant wait, did i mention that already, sorry. I am sure I will mention it again soon.

The Photograph

Captured in a moments glee
My tiny son stares back at me.
His hand on hip so glad to pose
I don’t think he even knows
The future that I see.

That photograph is put away
To pause and look another day.
The essence of a mothers Joy
Captured in that little boy.
The hope that’s kept at bay

The Image when again is found,
reminds you time has turned around.
Those dreamy childhood moments passed,
A proud young man he is at last.
To wonder and astound.

How did those years slip by so swiftly,
Slip away, pass so quickly.
Is that a tear of pride I cry,
For a forgotten memory of my boy.
For the man I knew he’d be.

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