The last two weeks have been challenging, illness in the family and a small though ultimately helpful change in my personal circumstances have meant what I would previously have called   “a flurry of activity”  except that these days the best I can really manage is a stately, breathless waddle. This has made matters slightly more drawn out than I would have liked but is making positive steps forward.

A new medication is making a significant difference although in a sense it has merely adjusted the order of things. Instead of being tired all the time I reach an event horizon and just cut out; which is fine as long as I am indoors.

I miss not being able to walk out in the wilder places but there is quite a lot to see in the woods behind the house and recent visitors include foxes, hedgehogs and red deer, a slightly more unusual sight although they drift in like ghosts pre-dawn and I haven’t managed to get a suitable photo yet because of the poor light. The hedgehogs are hunting for places to hibernate. The toads have moved on although they hung around a little later into the year, availing themselves of the warmth in the polytunnel greenhouse to sustain them. They are welcome guests though as they dispose of the slugs.

The downside of all this though is that the predators are starting to get hungry. The majestic buzzard is alarming as a wee white cat would make a neat snack and the rooks are starting to hunt in gangs leading Samuel to spend a lot more time curled up on the bed or by the fire. He arrived home after his post breakfast wander this morning resembling the mythical “Burryman” having dived through the undergrowth to avoid them so we had to have a longer grooming session than normal. The local Autumn tints are proving spectacular but tactile.

Some changes have also been needed inside the house to help deal with my condition. I have had a small makeover for hypo-allergenic fabrics. Perhaps not before time. I missed TigrX so much whilst choosing new curtains but at the same it was nice to indulge my own tastes. A local warehouse clearance sale meant I could have matching curtains, cushions and complimenting rug, all under the price I had expected to pay for the curtains alone. The colours are much lighter too though not so bright, mint and lilac rather than blue, red and green.

There’s an impending surge of tests and scans, it is possible a biopsy may be recommended but I am feeling a lot more positive and also more inspired.

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Season of Soups, Stews And Baked Potatoes

My week has been inspirational.
One of my lovely poet friends took me to Glasgow Cathedral on Thursday and Ealasaid and I ventured up to the school for the Village’s Food Festival yesterday.
I can feel a shoal of words gathering in the back of my mind preparing to swim on to paper. I feel more like my old self.

It may perhaps be down to the new medication that the hospital ordered, although that doesn’t seem to have stopped me being breathless the feeling that I am drowning every time I exert myself has lessened and I am sleeping a bit better.
It may just be down to the turn of the year because I have always been much more alive in the Autumn. To me it’s the most colourful season in the year.

The visit to the Cathedral was a little difficult both in terms of accessibility and in emotional terms. There are a lot of stairs but I did make it to Saint Mungo to pay my respects and discovered some medieval Graffiti of which there is very little left this side of the border. It was a lot like old times though and I will admit that later at the onset of evening sat quietly with Samuel my spirits descended somewhat.

Yesterday we watched the varied demonstrations at the festival, learning about how Mozarella and beer are made and followed with fascination our talented friend Alison’s cake decorating methods. Lunch was a delicious sweet potato soup and feeling fortified and inspired we repaired to the local store and raided their reduced fridge and shelf. Our biggest prize was a packet of red wine sauce mix for the slow cooker (cost 12p) in which our reduced price chicken pieces and red onions are now happily stewing. A reduced packet of  “specialty stuffing” made with crumbed ciabatta has replaced the breadcrumbs in the dumpling recipe today, they will be added shortly and it all smells amazing.

This prepared, by being unceremoniously dumped into the slow cooker and the Sunday morning ritual of coffee and pancake completed, I have now decided to curl up and write and possibly start a visualisation collage to fill time until Ealasaid arrives to eat the dinner later.

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Autumn arrived right on cue this morning with a chill in the air and a lightening of the dark woods behind the house.
It’s been over a year since I last felt inspired to write, without Tigrx there’s been nothing to trigger the words apart from his loss and the words arising from that will be for another time and place in company with his own.

My surgery took place in January, proved not to be what had been anticipated once they got in there and the repair they have done has been successful so far. As always though there’s been a downside too. Monitoring for the heart murmur (which fortunately is not too serious at this point but will need to be checked frequently) revealed a collapsed lung which has only partially recovered to reveal deeper scarring. I feel somewhat angry over the doctor in Melbourn who insisted my breathlessness was “an exaggerated panic attack due to my circumstances” that evaluation prejudiced much including the chance of an early diagnosis. The wait for the respiratory clinic has been a long one. It’s been a “false year” A year of false starts, false alarms  and false promises. Its hard when the only thing you really trust is yourself and even that is failing you too.

This morning though the wind has changed, there’s the slight hint of decaying foliage and smoke on the air. It’s cooler meaning I can breathe a little easier. Since Tigrx departed I have barely been able to tolerate music but in the last few days that has changed; my written words are starting to flow again, I am starting to add random sentences to my scratch book once more and maybe tomorrow will finally bring some answers.

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Diary Extract 11 pm Thursday 18 August 2016:

Today something changed.
Recently I have felt restricted and frustrated by my poor health. My conditions have had to be “managed” my day defined by routines of medication, this time my own. Thankfully though the list is nowhere near as impressive and demanding as Tigr’s was. In the last few weeks I have been reducing my pain medication, not the frequency but the strength. It hasn’t been without its consequences but I am sick to death of the brain fog.
Today though I felt ill, was physically ill.
Today I struggled.
It would have been so easy to pull up the covers and give in.
Instead I fought back, I made myself take action in response to that.

At 5.50 am, after an uncomfortable, disrupted and sleepless night, I walked out of the door.
I went and I did something I had been considering doing, but under advisement both medical and concerned had ruled out as impractical if not impossible; possibly stupid, certainly unwise.
Reckless by dint of having to up the strength of my painkillers from mildest to strongest with no intermediate progression; reckless to tackle a journey alone; doubly reckless in saying nothing until it was done.
It was difficult; it was painful.
But it was something that I very much wanted to do, I did it – and it changed things. Tomorrow I am going out to buy two books.

  • Thursday 18th August was a heavenly day from hell but an inspirational one. I experienced two performances*and later on a documentary* which just happened to join some dots for me personally, they set me thinking, the first continued train of thought I think I’ve had since TigrX died.
    *Equations For A Moving Body
    *600 People
    *The Secret Life Of Waves
    ** I won’t comment further on their content here as all three are still available to watch at the time of writing.
  • Friday 19th August I paid the price for my recklessness but I also made it to WH Smith and in the event I bought more than two books.
    *I Am Dead. Now What?
    This is an extremely useful book – It comprises a guide for relatives when you die, it gives guidelines on what information they will need, various agencies to contact and gives you space to fill in the information for them – Although I won’t be filling in any passwords or account details I shall ensure they can get them when they need them.
    ** Three substantial notebooks.
    My thoughts have spawned three potential projects and though two of them share some ground they need to be clearly separated

Robin TigrX was a very strong and positive influence on both my life and my creativity, he never interfered with my making but he always added a polish to it once I was finished that added an amazing quality. Whilst rehearsing “Silver Dating” he halted me at one particular point and asked “How would you be/are you feeling right now?” I responded “I feel like having a damn good cry” Tigr said “Then say so”. Adding those eight words to the script made it real, made it human.

When Tigr died someone sent me The Physicists Eulogy but on quoting it to someone it was quickly derided and debunked and I forgot about it. It deals though with two
subjects which these three presentations deal with in different contexts. Humanity and Energy.
If I hadn’t seen all three on the same day I doubt whether the impact would have been the same but I did and as an old nemesis was fond of saying “There are no coincidences”.

At the time of writing I am facing quite starkly the possibilities of my own death. I require three fairly major surgical procedures (women’s things. You don’t need the icky details. At the pre-op however a gynae nurse-practioner concluded one of the chambers in my heart was “unresponsive”. She sent me for an ECG, it bore out her opinion and so I now await a summons from cardiology before anything can proceed. I was also informed that a loose tooth should be removed as a pre-op precaution. This led the dentist to discover a bacteria which whilst not causing me immediate problems could potentially lead to fatal post operative infection should heart surgery be necessary. Since there’s a strong possibility that this could happen suddenly, though not now quite so unexpectedly, I am having my teeth removed as a precaution, three at a time as they don’t want to risk two general anesthetics in close proximity.

I am under two conflicting masters – The diet I require and the diet I can manage to consume.
Additionally I need to exercise but have to fight my competitive urge to “push harder” to get beyond breathlessness. Now when my chest constricts I have to stop until I can breathe again.
Recently I have felt restricted and frustrated by my poor health.”

On Thursday 18 August 2016 this changed because what I learned that day changed my perspective, now I have questions which beg answers; questions which have changed, not so much my way of life but my way of death.
Questions which, at the time of writing I potentially have only five and a half weeks to fully formulate and answer.








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What a night! Very broken, back to the two hourly incremental dozes with what I call “waking dreams” because they’re so realistic, There have been times when I have woken with an actual injury sustained in this ‘otherworld’ carried back to this, though not on this occasion thankfully.

I went to sleep very fast after a tiring day and dreamed I was talking to a man in a somewhat indistinct location but the thing about these dreams is not just sight but scents, taste, touch and sounds. Summer sounds, bees, aircraft overhead, children playing in the distance, scent of fresh cut grass. We discussed a festival he was planning and he wanted a story performance using this very distinctive medieval bridge at the intended festival site. I left after agreeing to research and prepare a suitable piece and costume, with a very firm handshake from a strong cool hand.

Because I had to make a journey by public transport several times this week, for therapy, the hospital and to put affairs in order here before my surgery I had become dehydrated. On arriving back last night I drank quite a lot of water and tea somewhat later in the day, consequently I woke suddenly from my dream and had to dash for the bathroom.

It was somewhat harder to get back to sleep this time, the owls were chatty and had disturbed the sheep so it was noisy outside as well.

When I eventually drifted off I dreamed again. I was packing bags with two young lassies. I was calling them by my daughter’s names and I suppose they were them but younger than they now are. We were having problems with a red folding camp bed. Eventually we got everything packed into a large suitcase, a large though elegant lined Hessian bag a clumsy handbag and a small white soft leather coin purse which seemed to have way too many things in it and kept getting lost throughout the rest of the dreams. We finally boarded a bus and after an uneventful journey we arrived at a place overlooking a river mouth inlet crossed by a bridge, similar in appearance to the terrain at the Kessock Crossing but different type of bridge. There were a film crew on the water by the bridge filming a galley and sea monster so we watched a while until a young man came for us. We were shown up to a big house which was clearly in a state of restoration and shown a room, shared with others where we could put up the bed and leave our things. The two girls ran off to play with the other children and I began to sort out our bedding and personal items. With help from the neighbouring bedspace I got the camp bed up and then went to find the girls. After losing the purse twice I found them and we came back to make the bed but the Hessian bag was full of daisy heads instead of provisions though our clothing was still in it when we opened it. The case which had the bedding in it vacuum packed when we left, had sleeping bags  that were sodden and full of stagnant water and there were more daisy heads in the bottom of it. Someone called us to come have some of the food provided at a barbecue which tasted very real. I woke suddenly again.

This time somewhat less awake I staggered my way to the bathroom again, knees starting to stiffen up seriously now so taking more pain killers I literally fell back on to the bed.

This time I was walking across an old bridge from a medieval castellated house, the borders style of architecture. I made my way, barefoot and in peasant dress through a crowd of people, some in modern clothing others in costume to a haphazard collection of portacabins below the far side of the bridge from the house. The purse from the previous dream was missing again. I found it on the bar in one of the cabins which had been made into a temporary pub. As I thanked the man behind the bar for finding it the guy from the first dream came up and asked if I was ready as my storytelling performances would be at 11 and 5 and would be being filmed. He asked me about it and what it was called and I replied “The road to plum hill” Although I could recall that I had prepared the piece I couldn’t remember my opening line, this happens sometimes so I went to look for the handbag from the second dream to refresh quickly. As I stepped out of the portacabin I stepped on a small stone, I bent to brush it off my foot and discovered a hamster with a sore nose scampering past. It stopped, I picked it up and it jumped up and bit into my eyelid, I felt the warmth of my blood at which point I woke up. 

At this point I decided coffee was a plan.
The main conclusion I have drawn so far is that counting sheep is very overrated esepcially if they’re noisy sheep.
These dreams have tended in the past to be quite literal and happened at life changing times in the past but any attempt at interpretation is welcome. Meanwhile I am off to research bridges…






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I did, I shall.

Old black dog has her teeth sunk deep this time.
This blog won’t be long.
Words escape me. I sit to write and I can’t.
I find words on my scratch pad I don’t recall writing that weren’t there two hours ago.
I don’t mind people but I don’t want them.
I’m sick of hearing “You’re doing well” “You mean so much” “You have achieved”

An election flyer came through the door with a list of what my current incumbent “Had achieved”.
I don’t want to know what you have achieved I want to know what you will achieve, what I can achieve under your administration. Can you open the door?
I’ll be back when you’ve put the dog out.

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Last night I knew exactly what I would write today, as I dozed off to sleep the whole thing assembled in my head but now I can’t recall a single word.
There were things I should have done today… there’s a real sense of urgency about something…
…I have no idea what it is and it’s stressing me out…that thing I ought to remember and can’t.

I went to the doctor about my memory some years ago. He assured me it was “all part and parcel of the menopause and it will get better with time”
It hasn’t.

My forgetfulness has been laid at the door of hormones, medication and grief. I stopped taking the medication for nearly six months, it did nothing to improve things though.

My days consist of making lists, once they were helpful but not so much now. Writ large was “collect prescription” on Thursdays list.
On Saturday when my pills ran out I remembered.
I realised I needed to make bread this morning when I went to make breakfast and there was none.
It was on Friday’s to-do list.

This morning I laid out two plates, I got as far as making a tea and a coffee again before it sank in that TigrX isn’t here to drink the tea. Sometimes I manage to recognise it before I add the water and can rescue the tea bag. Today I got as far as adding milk and sweetners…
…perhaps I should stop getting sweetners…


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