Friday, 9 March 2007

Right - I am sorry but it looks as has a more interesting set up than the Yahoo 360. So I've decided to move over. I didn't want to lose all my previous entries - so have just cobbled together a few entries and copied and pasted them.

Life is made up of many sad memories [entered on 4/03/07]
It's such a wet windy grey day here is East Devon with many flood alerts. Even Black Velvet was straining at the leash to get back home - and I didn't disagree with her. It's a day to curl up in the warmth and enjoy a traditional, lazy Sunday. While the lunch was cooking - Pork Casserole with roast potatoes - I got in the car to go and get a couple of Sunday newspapers to while away the afternoon. I chose the Sunday Times and the Mail. Having just read the Mail I was sad to read of the death of such a pretty young girl - Josie Grove
"Any man's death diminishes me ..... Ask not, for whom the bell tolls ....."
We lost a young nephew to this illness. Anthony, like Josie was diagnosed with AMLeukaemia when he was 14. He enjoyed many years full of hope and laughter; fun filled years in between the gruelling periods of treatment but sadly he died a few weeks short of his 21st birthday. We all still miss him a great deal; he is still in our minds as a laughing, sparkly eyed, mischievous teenager with a sense of empathy and compassion beyond his years. 'They' say "the good die young" and so it seems. Josie started a charity before her death and if you can, do click on the link above so that you can read the heart warming article. Or you could click on this next link to be directed to the charity that is set up in Josie's name.
Although life is made up of sad memories and feelings of loss; we are all the richer for having had the love and affection of some really special people. How sad it would be to pass from this life with no one to miss us or regret our passing.
This is a beautiful short film if you click on this link it may give you pause for thought on the meaning of life and how you spend your time. Do spend it wisely. It is a precious asset - not to be wasted. Remember, this is not a rehearsal. Do not waste your time. Enjoy and savour as much as possible. Take time to stand and watch the daisies growing on the lawn [well not today may be, but in summer!] Remember to tell your family and friends how much you love and appreciate them. Live each day as if it will be your last. Becasue, one day - it will be .....
"What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare ...."

I'm Worried about Tony [dated 22/02/07]

Well, maybe he has been blogging and checking up on any sites that mention him by name. It's not good to get so hooked on the computer into the early hours of the morning. And as I've still not had my personal email from him yet maybe he's still busy on the Outlook Express trying to get all the mail out - that can be a bit of a bugger. I know, when I was trying to send out 12 Christmas cards at once - those lovely ones with the little dancing santas - you know? Anyway - they were a job to get them all to go at once as the Virus Checker or the mail server or the whatever kept sending me a message "timed out". If he is like me [and he has 1.75 million to go] you get hooked on fiddling with the settings and convinced that they'll go this time - but no within a few minutes up pops the little error message - and so you have another go - on and on.
I know he was up early this morning to talk to John Humphrys on the Radio 4's 'Today' [or do you think it was pre-recorded?]. He also had a big day in the House yesterday and he was too busy to attend the unveiling of Mrs T's statue [that was probably when he got on with the emailing again] but when I saw him on Sky News [don't know what it was about as the sound was muted] I thought he looked poorly: haggard, grey and so old. Mrs Booth-Blair should take his PC away or put a parental lock on it and make him have an early night.
Anyway, going back to the radio interview, John Humphrys mentioned that he would no longer be PM in a few months. That's when I'm sure I heard a kind of swallowed gurgle. Now I'm not sure whether that was a choked back anguished sob or whether it was a cut off giggle. But it did set me wondering. I've often thought that I've not heard Tony Blair say that he will stand down as PM - has anyone else? I have heard him say that he would not address the Party Conference and the Unions etc etc as leader . Now, I don't know the rules of the Labour party but, is it possible he intends to step down as leader of the party but remain as Prime Minister "for the full term"? If anyone knows whether this could be done then I'd be interested to know. It wouldn't surprise me - nothing this prime minister says is all that it seems - he has a lawyers way with words. He also forgets what he says from one year to the next but some of us lowly public have V E R Y L O N G memories. Some of us think too. I may go to the bookies and place a bet on our having TB as PM in 2008. I wonder what the odds would be.
David Cameron doesn't strike me as much good either and I'm still considering the idea of whether he's entitled to say or not about his use of drugs - soft/hard or whatever. The only ones who seem to have any credibility in the Conservatives are William Hague and David Davies and don't get me started on the Libs. If there was a vote tomorrow I'd probably close my eyes and stab the ballot paper with a pin - or write rude words all over it.
I must get out more - need a trip out somewhere tomorrow - not healthy thinking all this politics stuff. But if it's wet then the next blog page I'll write about my dog and my spouse. I'm very attached to one of them and the other I tolerate,clean up after, feed and care for - but that's for another day.

Entry for 18 February 2007
Sidmouth - Heaven's waiting room- I cannot escape the place. I returned to the town again when I found out an old friend was recently discharged from hospital and is now resident in a nursing home. As I drive into town I hear an old pop tune on Radio Devon "we've gotta get outta this place - if it's the last thing we ever do; we gotta get out this place ..." I know the feeling .... .
I find a parking space in the Ham car park and go in search of a gift. But what do you take to someone now living in a home 'where all needs are met'. That's a puzzle. I head for the disabled shop and ask if they have any 'Independence' in stock - but the shop assistant doesn't appear to want to play along, she either has no sense of humour or I'm not as funny as I like to imagine. More's the pity. They don't seem to encourage 'browsing' in the shop so I find it hard to see if anything will suit as a gift. The shop has a large selection of motorised buggies outside on display. Prices range from as little as £200 to nearly £1800 - no wonder so many people seem to be whizzing around in them. More money than sense. Maybe the £200 models don't have brakes? I amuse myself by spending time inspecting and considering the pros and cons of 3 of the pricier models. I imply I'm considering buying one as a gift for my friend. After an hour I bore of this ploy and leave with the promise to 'think it over' - maybe next time I pop in the sales assistant may reward me with a little smile at my jokes?
There are so many OLD and infirm people in Sidmouth. Most of them seem rude and imperious - maybe it would be kinder to call them determined or independent. Perhaps when one is very old and it takes all your energy just to get from A to B [from the bakers, to the bank to the butchers] then maybe you just don't have time for old fashioned manners - shame. I've never felt so inclined as to just let a door fall shut on someone as the scowling person pushing their way into the shop with their shopping trolley cutting a swathe behind them - like Ben Hur's chariot. I was also lucky enough to leap out of the path of one of those aforementioned buggies. They really do move very swiftly; they're silent and deadly. I begin to dread being run over by one or hitting one when I'm driving. Some buggy drivers can't seem to make up their minds whether they are drivers [give way to the right and follow the rules of the highway code] or pedestrians. Some are a mad mixture of both. One minute terrorising everyone on the pavement and the next swooping down the curb and onto the road - round the roundabout - and then crawling up the road holding up car drivers.
As it was lunchtime I buy a bun, a bottle of water and picnic in the car while observing elderly drivers spend an inordinate amount of time shunting in or out of parking spaces. I buy a display of potted flowering plants to take with me and head off to the nursing home. Beryl's old - and doddery but she is a well mannered lady. She's 92 but doesn't need to be rude to people around her to enable her to retain her sense of independence. We enjoy a gossip and the visit with her restores my liking for older people. Maybe we wouldn't find old folk irritating if we knew them and I don't know many people in Sidmouth. But maybe, it's just that the people I happened to meet are just plain rude, selfish and ungracious.
Then again I'm not at my best at the moment - I'm tired, depressed and stressed. Maybe my tolerance levels are on the low side.

SPEND, SPEND, SPEND - A Little Self Disclosure
Well, it's raining again and I didn't feel like going out - mainly due to a bit of a stomach upset - and the desire to stay within a short dash of a clean and comfortable toilet. i had felt a bit off yesterday with vague aches and during the night I was awake with a Devon version of Delhi belly. But enough of me - well maybe not - but so long as you don't pass on this to anyone else I'll tell you a bit about myself.
I'm crawling towards 60 when I'll become a state prisoner [sorry, -I mean pensioner]. But when that day dawns I'll only be entitled to 75% of the basic state pension. Also, as I've only worked in various low paid jobs in the caring profession [the NHS and Social Services Departments] in a variety of locations I have not built up a large pension pot. Now I don't know how you have managed but since I first met the 'Man of My Life' we have been saving for our retirement. He's like that my man is - save for a rainy day, save for our old age, as you don't know what the future will bring. Well, I now have some glimpse of the possible future and I'm not sure I like it much.
We moved south to East Devon to settle down, make a home in the area in readiness for our retirement in 2010 when we would start to relax, enjoy ourselves and have a few modest holidays - get out and see the world. Then my man unexpectedly lost his job. It was a great shock to him. He tried to get back into the professional market but at age 58 was told too old, too much experience, too qualified. He went into a decline and is being treated for depression. I'd not been working as I got the house renovation underway and was busy trying to suss out our new locality and making new friends. Once my man became ill all thoughts of returning to paid employment myself came to a halt.
The trouble is that with no income coming in we had to delve into capital to pay off the large mortgage and continue to draw on our savings to finance day to day living, utility bills and taxes. With savings we are not entitled to any benefits. So I now have regrets that for 30 years of married life we only had 4 holidays, 2 house moves, 4 cars, 1 fridge, 2 freezers, 2 cookers, 3 washing machines, 1 dishwasher and 3.5 TVs and 3 new beds. We only replaced things when equipment was too old to repair - not for us the latest gadgets and gizmo's. If we wanted something modern like an upgraded Hi-Fi or camera or computer then we often had them as a birthday/Xmas present. New carpets were weighed up against the cost of a holiday - invariably the carpet won as being the cheapest option and of more long term value.
But now I can imagine having to sell my home if we should need to go into residential care. I resent the thought that I could be paying for a room in a residential/nursing home - sitting next to a resident who has enjoyed her life to the full with holidays, seen the world, driven fast cars and had fun but ended up in her old age with no savings - beyond £16000. She who has 'lived' life without a care in the world is sitting comfortably in the same home being paid for by the authorities. Envy is the root of all evil.
The poor in today's Britain do not go without the necessities of life - the more you have and the more you have saved the more they take in taxes: taxes to fund the feckless, the thoughtless, the inadequates, the 'couldn't care less' citizens.
So what I say to all you youngsters out there now - earning and saving - forget what the Government tell you - don't save - SPEND, SPEND, SPEND and enjoy life to the full - save a bit for a 'damp day' but not so that you end up over the means test limit. Until the government change the rules so that the older generation are not penalised for being thrifty all their lives then WHAT REALLY IS THE POINT OF SAVING?

Doctors are now called the Obese Police
I see from my cartoon style image of myself that I look a bit of a tired slob - true - but this image is not as fat as I am. I am at my most relaxed when in my dressing gown [I have 3] cuddling up on the sofa with the dog and a mug of hot chocolate. All round comfort. But as I need to lose 3 stone [depressed carer syndrome and neglect of self] then I'm also hoping that typing this blog will stop me eating as much. I've given up sweets/cakes for Lent - so far so good but Easter feels a long way off. I expect you are beginning to get the impression that I have high hopes of blogging. You may well be right on that.
I have just acquired a digital camera [I'm on the spend, spend, spend route now] and once have mastered it and have a decent photo I will place a proper one - but only if I lose some of this excess fat. Generally I do eat a healthy diet of more than 5 portions of fruit and veg etc but when it is so relentlessly depressing at home and when walking on eggshells, unable to talk properly to my man then I get lonely and sad, and cheer myself up with unnecessary treats.
I sat and thought yesterday about how long this has been going on: over 5 years.
I suddenly remembered that the day of Queens' Jubilee celebrations were there first time my husband and I talked about his mood swings and how it was affecting me. He had become very noticeably withdrawn, uncommunicative and irritable, full of anxieties. It was a bit up and down from then on but at some point after that June day in 2005 it has been one long, gradual decline. I think my natural optimism started to run out of fuel towards the end of spring 2006. Now my 'optimism tank' has been running on empty for the last 10 months. I worry that this may be as good as it gets and I don't know how much longer I can keep living this way.
I find it difficult to confide in local friends as I've not known them very long; it feels disloyal to 'harp on' about my man. Long term friends live miles away and I only phone to chat when I feel able to be 'upbeat' also I have no privacy as he is always around when I start to talk to friends. Well, he's always around - I have to go out to get any privacy - that's not quite the same is it? I sometimes fantasise about living separately.
I'm now reading a book called "How You Can Survive When they're Depressed" by Anne Sheffield. I've only started it so will report back later. I also read the Caroline Carr book "Living with the Black Dog ......." [this title particularly amuses me] it was very simply written - I read it in a few hours - but has one or two good points which I'll try to put into practise.

Entry 31st January

I'm not sure that I can get used to this not working kind of life. Now that I'm not shooting out the door each day at 7.30 the day stretching ahead holds so much promise but of what?? It's quite a benign kind of day - fresh but still with a hint of sunlight. After an early morning dental appointment I decide on the spur of the moment to head over to Sidmouth again. Not so many wreck watchers today - does that mean it's not more than a 7 day wonder? I take a couple of photos of the cargo ship as it lists at a crazy angle with the cranes towering over it - not much sign of activity - no swinging containers being lifted from the ship. A passing gentleman informs me that 'they' only removed 3 containers yesterday - I try to do a little mental arithmetic and decide that at this rate the ship may be unloaded by this time next year - but will the work get faster as the uneven load is reduced - in which case it may be unloaded before the end of the year. Why have there been no more press conferences to tell everyone whether the rate of the work is going as expected? My new friend tells me that Sidmouth has been lucky not to have been affected. I hope he's not counting his chickens. We both agree that everyone should pray for calm seas for the next 12 months. Most of the folk I do see on the front have binoculars and seem to spend hours gazing out over the wreck but then some real excitement - the lifeboat is about to dock with its submersible tractor and we all decide to stand and watch this for a while as the binoculars swing from the east towards the west.
Why car drivers are unable to reverse into car parking spaces I have no idea but I now stand with mouth open in amazement as the lifeboat crew manoeuvre the dinghy in reverse mode [sorry I don't know nautical terms] into a kind of cage that is attached to the rear of the tractor - all this with the swell making everything rock and bounce around with every wave - it looks as if it is accomplished easily enough and the tractor then slowly hauls the lifeboat back to its station at the other end of the prom where everyone spends and inordinate amount of time washing and polishing it ready for its next outing. I hear some young men say the tyres are "filled with water" and wonder whether that's true or not? But beyond dropping a few coins into one of the buckets held by a plastic dummy - I can't be bothered to wonder whether I'm interested enough to find out the answer . I decide it's too cold to hang around any longer and head for town and a warm drink.

Entry in Yahoo 360 on 30th january 2007
Well - who would have believed that a possible environmental disaster would turn into a 'tourist attraction'?
You can almost hear Sidmouth/Beer hoteliers rubbing thier hands with glee at the unexpected influx of visitors so early in the season. But the Innkeepers in Branscombe probably fear that visitor numbers will fall. After all if you choose such a peaceful holiday venue as Branscombe [can anyone find it without a sat nav device?], then surely you are hoping for a break-away and want to sample the 'quiet life'. In which case will you want to risk meeting a rampaging mob rushing from the beach with ill gotten gains looted from the latest container that has been washed overboard?
Since the MSC Napoli beached off Branscombe beach just over a week ago, the locals don't know if they are coming or going. We are all wrecks watching a wreck fall apart and pondering on the "meaning of life, the universe and everything" and the answer I've found is that it's not 42 [sorry Mr Adams] - its 50+.
That basically is what this BLOG will be about ... the meaning of life etc .... and the authorities response[s] - or not - to emergency happenings!

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