Sunday, 12 October 2014

Last week we experienced a miracle.

Our children having grown and flown, our dogs are our children now.  We have two beautiful toy poodles, Phoebe who is four and Lola who is nearly two.  Lola is the smaller, weighing only 2.5 kilograms, just over half the weight of the average cat. They are lovely, bright, friendly, loving  little dogs, who in spite of their small size are very good watchdogs.  We go everywhere with our dogs, they mean the earth to us.

We have builders at our house at present, putting in a loft room.   Last Tuesday morning my husband Colin, needed to tell the builders something so he climbed up the scaffolding to call them.  On the way down his foot slipped and he dislodged a section of scaffolding that had been standing upright against the main section.  As usual Lola was right at his heels and the scaffolding, weighing some 20 kilograms, landed right on top of her.  I was upstairs on my computer when I heard an almighty crash them heart rending screaming.   I ran downstairs shouting out ‘What happened? Who’s hurt?’

Colin said ‘it’s Lola’ then I saw her, her little body twisted like a pretzel, her head on one side and these screams coming from her mouth.  I grabbed Colin’s fleece, which was the nearest thing on hand and wrapped her in it and we headed for the car.  I didn’t stop to put on shoes, or take my handbag, or lock the doors.  Colin drove as fast as he could to the vets – asking me continuously to check that she was still breathing.  When we got there he ran ahead and told them what had happened so the vet was waiting.  He took us into the consulting room, unwrapped her, said ‘she’s convulsing!’ Neither of us had recognized the strange disjointed movements accompanying her screams, not having seen them before.  He said he’d put her on a drip and took her away, saying he would call us.

It was the longest afternoon ever.  At four o’clock the call came – one of the vet assistants who said Lola was doing really well but the vet wanted to see us at 6 o’clock.  Colin and I took the dogs (we had a friend’s dog staying for a few days) for a walk and came back in time to get to our appointment early.  Neither of us felt like talking much – the vet’s summons sounded ominous.  We were both sure he’d want us to make some sort of decision.  On the way there we discussed that we had to do what was best for Lola, not for us.

When we got there, somewhat early for our appointment, the assistant said we could see her, that she was awake.  There she was, looking very shaken, and attached to a drip, but very happy to see us.  I held her on my lap in front of her cage and we cuddled and spoke to her.  She seemed almost normal – it was hard to believe.  When the vet came he said he was amazed at her progress, he had had to anaesthetize her and had given her cortisone and pain killers.  He said she’d been X rayed and there were no bones broken.  He said she wasn’t out of the woods yet but he was cautiously optimistic.  He said they would see how she was overnight.  He did say that it was easy to lose these little dogs – a sudden bleed to the brain could cause it.   He said I could call them at 8:30 next morning .

That night neither of us slept much, though we both prayed a lot, as we had been doing since the accident.  I remembered that on the Sunday, two days previously we had had a sermon on St Francis, whose saint’s day had been on the Saturday.  I don’t think I have ever prayed to a saint before but I prayed to St Francis all night, to intercede for little Lola.

 At 8:25 next morning , gathering all my courage, I phoned the surgery.  The assistant said she had been about to call me.  ‘Lola is wonderful’ she said – you can come and get her.’

Neither the vet we had seen first nor the one I saw on Friday when I took her for a check up could believe it – she seemed absolutely fine – no sign on any injury, no sign on brain damage, just nothing!   She is a little diffident, and nervous near the scaffolding but that’s only to be expected.  She seems to sleep a lot, perhaps a little more than usual, but that’s presumably her body telling to rest – she had the incredible trauma, plus an anaesthetic, both of which can put enormous strain on her little body.  The vet said she seemed remarkably resilient – but we know the truth.  It was a miracle.

Till next time J

Friday, 21 March 2014

You couldn’t make up stuff like this. I know I wouldn't dare.

Or you could but it would be shot down in flames as being far-fetched and unrealistic.   Has the world gone mad?  All I know is that people, even people who purport to find the news depressing, have been glued to their seats watching the TV news as it unfolds. 

I feel quite sorry for the press – generally if there is one big story it’s a lot but this month we have three 1) the continuing Ukraine – Crimea – Russia saga, with Putin appearing to thumb his nose at the west, who are making paper gestures.  Where this could lead is too frightening to contemplate.

Then of course 2) the baffling question of flight MH307.   Was there a catastrophe on board?  Was it hijacked?  Was the pilot making a political statement?  Was it taken by aliens, is it under the Indian Ocean? Or possibly it’s now in a parallel universe, having gone through a worm hole (seriously I have both heard this one and read of It, though how tongue in cheek I wouldn’t like to say).    But the families are getting more and more desperate.  I know if it were my family I would be praying that the plane had been taking by hijackers and was now in Pakistan or Afghanistan or somewhere, because that way there would be a chance, however slight, that the passengers have survived.   But as the days go by this hope must be slowly fading.   My thoughts and prayers, as well as those of most of the world are with them. But is seems it might be years till the full story is known.

And 3) here is South Africa, we have the eyes of the world on the Oscar Pistorius trial.  This one is really over the top.  Beautiful young couple, him a world icon, both a Paralympics and Olympics sporting star, her a rising TV celebrity, as well a law graduate.  Then another St Valentine’s Day Massacre.   You couldn’t make up a story like this.   Now the South African judicial system is on trial too, being judged by the world, to see if one of our icons can received a fair trial.  I know the SA police are stretched (what police force isn’t?) but generally I think they’re giving  a good account of themselves.  I didn’t expect to find the nitty gritty of the court case so fascinating (perhaps I should have, being a life long fan of legal fiction) but I do.  When the court is in session I am glued to my chair, waiting only for the commercial breaks to cross over to the BBC news/CNN/Sky News to see how the other dramas are panning out. 
I don’t know how much longer we can take all this excitement.  Though when it’s all over I am sure we will find our usual fare of corruption, local politics, gang and drug warfare, just a little dull.  As I said perhaps the world really has gone mad.  And what do we learn from it?  Don’t trust Putin.  Avoid flying (easier said that done when one’s family lives half way across the world).   And the whole gun culture is really dangerous, especially in the hands of a loose cannon – but we knew that anyway, didn’t we?

Till next timeJ

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

New Direction

Last time I wrote I was pondering the three deep questions about my life and its meaning and direction.  I can’t say that I’ve really reached any great conclusions but I have taken a few small steps.  I have enrolled for a short course called Basic Astronomy – just a series of 5 lectures, which I am finding really fascinating.   Somehow compared with all that’s out there our little worries and concerns seem very small and trivial indeed.  I am now enrolling for a slightly longer on line course called Introduction to Astronomy, through Duke University ( ) – this is 12 weeks and includes homework (6 to 12 hours per week, they say).  Later in the year I am taking another short on line course called Philosophy and the Sciences, through The University of Edinburgh this time ( ).   Both look very interesting and it will be fun to study again, after a gap too large to mention!   Amazing what is out there, and these are all free too.  I think I might like to be a perpetual student!
The other thing that has happened is that at the end of January we reached our 10 year anniversary as raw vegans.   It’s just a way of life now.  The health issues that prompted it initially are just a distant memory, and this is how we eat.   People have been nagging me to actually get down to writing a raw food recipe book – I always say there are hundreds out there – often written by raw chefs.  But then I thought , I own quite a few of those and often the recipes are just too complicated or the ingredients are just too expensive so I tend to do my own thing.   So now I am tentatively working on a new book.  A book of fairly simple straightforward recipes which don’t take days to prepare nor break the bank.  I also try to use all fresh produce, rather than packaged.  To me it goes against the grain to use, for example, garlic powder when fresh garlic is available. 
So, if I am not actually solving the great mysteries of life, I am keeping myself busy and my brain active, though playing bridge, doing Sudoku and crossword puzzles help there too.  Also keeping myself physically active, with Kundalini Yoga twice a week, aqua aerobics twice a week, and a home exercise programme.  Colin and I recently completed the 30 Day Plank challenge, ( –  found the last part very tough going, but we now plank for 3 minutes three times a week for maintenance.    So, though I consider the word retirement, to be a dirty word, and aging not even a real word, I am still doing my bit at total denial.  
I do have several ideas for more novels, have about three partly written but nothing that grabs me so much I am prepared to miss meals to write.  There have in the past been occasions when Colin is reading in bed, and wants to turn out the light and  go to sleep but I am still banging away on my laptop.  When I get an idea that inspires that amount of compulsion no doubt I will drop everything else and write it but there’s nothing like that at the moment.   However, watch this space!
Till next time J

Monday, 6 January 2014

Food for Thought

I seem to get on numerous people’s mailing lists, often newsletters I had no intention of signing up for.  Every now and then I do a big purge and follow all the instructions to unsubscribe, though some people are very persistent and don’t make it easy. 
But I do keep some that I find interesting, although I often just skim and then delete.  One that I have hung on to, although I really don’t  remember how I got on their mailing list is from Adoley and Jim.  And right now I’m very glad that I did.  
I have been feeling a bit unsettled, as I often do when a new year comes along (and by implication a clean slate).  I have been wondering whether I should make some major changes in my life.   One change that I am making is in my volunteering.  I have regretfully decided, after quite a few years, to stop helping with a children’s literacy programme at a school in a severely underprivileged area.   I loved the children (and loved the fact that they tend to be touchy feely kids who always come for hugs and cuddles),and loved feeling I was being of some use to them, but unfortunately I have found that I have picked up so many viruses and bugs that my health seemed to be being compromised.  All children seem to carry lots of infections but it seems much worse with these children, many of whom live in tin shacks so it’s hardly surprising.    I seem to have had numerous infections over the last few years, far more than I ever had when teaching full time, and the severe chest infection and asthma that I had in October was the final straw.  So I reluctantly decided that this form of service was not for me any longer.  I am still exploring avenues where I can be of use but where I will not be exposing myself to so many infections.   I’ll have to leave this one to people whose immune systems are more robust.

Back to the point I was trying to make.  At the start of this year Adoley asked what she called ‘three critical questions’.  They were
1.  What do you do that really matters?  (this one attributed to Mother Theresa)
2.  What do you want to experience this year?  What feeling or quality do you wish your (area of life) to express?
3. If you were to die today, what is the one thing that you didn't get to do that you would regret?

 I have been doing some deep soul searching on these.  The first question seems to pertain directly to my volunteering – I really need some clarity on that.    The second one I’m not sure of – I do intend to work on various areas of fitness and core strength this year – I have already embarked on a home exercise and stretching programme in addition to my twice weekly kundalini yoga, and my twice weekly aqua aerobics (though this one is still on Christmas break).  I am also giving serious thought to completely changing my writing – the genre, the location, even to writing under another name.  I have several ideas but haven’t quite narrowed them down yet.

It’s number three that I am spending most of my time on.   What would I regret most?  It’s not travelling – I really have never had the travel bug.  While I enjoy seeing new places I accepted years ago that you can’t go everywhere (try telling our elder daughter that! J).  Perhaps it would be never having held my grandchild, but that ‘s really not up to me.   We have two amazing daughters for whom I am grateful every day of my life.  They have given us so much happiness that even if they don’t give us grandchildren we can have no cause for complaint.    So perhaps it should be something  that I can actually control. 

 Then is occurred to me that perhaps what I am doing wrong is thinking that the three critical questions need three separate answers.  Perhaps if I can find the right answer to the first question it will answer the other two as well.    Whatever it is I shall keep on with my soul searching.  Thank you Adoley – you have really given me food for thought.

Till next time J