Thursday, 31 December 2009

And Now its New Year already

Its New Years Eve again did I get here so soon?
I have been off work for a whole week......a whole week I can't believe it. All those plans I had for writing and walking, going into the office for a few hours to get work prepared for the new year. where has the time for all that gone?

Boxing Day I had a few hours of solitude while the offspring were with their other parent. Ideal time to write. I cleared the kitchen did some laundry tried to get some inspiration, resorted to reading my new book of humourous quotes. Nothing! I was just getting my second mince pie of the season when the phone rang......can you pick us up now please.

The rest of the week has been no better. If I wasn't giving ET a lift into work or shopping (yes I have visited asda and sainsburys) I was paying money into the bank (not only mine). Oh I did get myself some new shoes in the M & S sales. Surely you didn't think I would get through the week without some new shoes ..............purple ones to go with all my purple tops. I do like to be colour co-ordinated didn't you know. I have visited my mother several times and done a few errands for her. Including taking her to hospital for her pre op blood test.

Mother did tell me yesterday as I drove her home in her are a good girl doing all this for me. ha ha I do try to be good when I can (I'm not naughty all the time).....I have accepted that I have reached that time in my life when I am still running around after my children but now also my parent (I only have one left). Nobody needs to know of the not so good thoughts I sometimes harbour.

I was just chatting to Forest comparing notes about conversations we have needed to have with our respective eldest child during the festive season. I told him that these are the times I hate being a parent. His reply ..........'these are the times they need us to be parents'. You see this is why I adore Forest not just for his body but he is also great to talk to. Even if he has got wharped ideas at times. Earlier I received a missed call (it rang once) from a very strange number obviously not a British phone number so I googled it. To my suprise I got a result..........a female filipino looking for hotel work. Forest predictably suggested hiring her to earn money for me.

It hasn't all been running around after others I did go out for lunch with Plumber on Tuesday. It was nice to spend a few hours together with no pressure of time or anything else just talking eating and drinking. I amost forgot that I had promised to collect ET from work at 5.30 it was 5.20 when I realised and we were sitting in Plumbers car chatting up on Winchester Hill in the growing dark. We quickly drove off to fetch ET (he only had to wait 10 mins or so). A quick kiss before I ran indoors. I had forgotten what it is like to kiss him. We have agreed not to wait so long before we go out again.

I won't pretend any of us received or gave many presents this year but Christmas day was good and we all appreciated what we did get, but I do want to share one gift with you. It is probably the loveliest gift I have ever been given.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been reminded that I have some wonderful and generous friends too. Which has led me to realise what my New Year resolution must be.

My New Year Resolution is to accept help when it is offered. I did think another resolution might be to actually ask for help but on considering that I realised that to expect that might be asking a little too much.

Here is my favourite photo from Christmas Day. After my mother's first visit to my house in a long time (she can't manage the stairs very easily and our bathroom is upstairs) I took her home we both forgot her basket but our cat Nipper decided to adopt it.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

weather and all that

It is no exaggeration to say that I have never seen anything like it.

Setting out at 6.45 am I slid gingerly along my garden path onto the public footpath. It only took 2 steps to realise I would be better off walking along the crisp frozen grass crunching along until I had to cross the pavement to grab hold of a neighbours garden fence. When the fence ran out I had no choice but to launch myself across the back ice topped tarmac down onto the road to where my car was parked. Slowly making my way around the car with scraper in hand, working to remove the ice from the windows. Icy rain making everything colder and wetter. Driving very very slowly skidding at the bottom of the road we crawled to the main road.

Carefully we made our way into town observing that pedestrians were without exception using the road rather than the paths. By the time I got ET to work we were a little late but at least we arrived in one piece. I was about to return home when I decided to pull over and phone my friend/neighbour/colleague PB to warn her what the roads were like. This was a bit of a mistake as I then couldn't get my car moving at first. However perseverance helped and with in a few minutes I was on my way again.

Calling into the local petrol station I found the forecourt being guarded by a man in a high visibilty coat standing next to a large sign proclaiming 'seriously severe ice'. He told me that they were open but be very careful. After filling up and completing my business I returned home passing PB as she was just leaving. Turning my car around I saw another neighbour (who I worked with a few years ago) with container of salt in her hand. She told me that she couldn't open her garage, as she couldn't stay on her feet. She had fallen and hurt herself already. Parking up I again managed to skate from my car to the pavement grabbing hold of my neighbour's fence I hauled myself along until I reached the grass (still crunchy even though it had been raining for some time by then). Once I reached my path I launched myself across the great devide that was formerly the pavement now an ice rink. Hanging on to the fence post geting a faceful of frozen wet leaves from the shrub that overhangs my side of the fence. (thank heavens I had cut it back about a month or so ago).

I left the house again at 8.40am for an audiology appointment at a local health centre. This time it was light and I could actually see the ice. There was not only ice on the road and footpaths but on the fences everything. Everything that was exposed to the elements was coated in solid ice. Never in my life have I seen so much ice everywhere. Again I crunched my way along the grass then holding onto the fence. Skating to my car I could see the frozen footprints where I had earlier stood to scrap the ice off which had now frozen again. Our road was still very icy but the traffic had by now churned the ice up to frozen slush. Even on the main road traffic was moving very gingerly. I didn't have far to go to reach the health centre. I noticed that the few people who were either brave or stupid enough to venture out were avoiding the paths still. As I attempted to turn into the health centre car park I saw that the gates were closed with a sign saying 'car park closed dangerous ice'.

On the one hand I could see the sense in that but on the other hand it was stupid. Perhaps there would be people falling over in the car park which like everything else was dangerously slippery. But where better to have a fall than in a place where there are doctors and nurses. Instead patients were forced to park across the road where there is a small parade of shops. I parked my car in one of the few remaining bays slid across the road running along the parade. Up onto the ornamental paving hanging onto the metal railings that surround the beds of shrubs that decorate the area. I made my way to the gap that led to the outer pavement lining the main road. At this point I had no choice but to let go and free slide to the edge and step into the road. Luckily there was still not much traffic (a mere fraction of normal) and those cars on the road were moving slowly. Reaching the opposite side of the road I joined about 4 others who were gingerly picking their way from gate to door of the health centre.

Once inside I was suprised to see an old friend working as a receptionist. I waited for heer to finish a protracted telephone call before greeting her. To my utter amazement she told me that she is now a granny (twice over), I assumed that this was from her daughter from her first marriage but no both her sons have become fathers. Her sons were school friends of DC and OJ. In years past there were often weekends when I had one of her boys sleeping over while she had one of mine. (in fact I had not long collected OJ from there when he fell out the window ripping open his armpit, about 9 or 10 yrs ago).

Anyway she made a note that I had arrived although it took her a while to find my name on the list as she was looking for LiR not my real name of Lady. (ok so that is not my real name but you get the idea). I then sat in the waiting room reading my book. Mother phoned me to tell me not to go out because it loks very icy, I shouldn't go to work (I would normally have been at work almost an hour by this time). I had to cut the call short when I was called in by the 'trainee scientist'. It was my time for my early christmas present. The young lady who didn't look much older than DC explained that she felt I would benefit from a different type of aid from the one originally planned for me.

I was hooked up to a computer via various wires connected to a machine that made noises at me. After an age during which she fiddled with her computer whilst I sat staring (as instructed) at the speaker emitting noises that would not be out of place on an episode of Dr who, she was satisfied that she had set the appropriate levels for me. This device I shall be wearing from here on in is a clever little thing. Not only has it been set reasonably quietly to give me a chance to get used to the new sounds I shall be able to hear but it gradually increases the volume over several months until it reaches the optimum volume. But I can adjust the volume according to various situations and it will remember those changes and make those adjustments itself next time I am in a similar setting. Armed with my new 'open fit' hearing aid, spare batteries, tips, tubes and leaflets I was now free to get off to work.

Although it was gone 9.30 by now it was still extremely icy outside. How I managed to stay on my feet I really don't know as my feet did slip countless times on my various trips to and from my car. Anyhow I made it safely back across the two road to my car and set off to work. Once I got back to the main road I was ok but I did still see others struggling. I made it to work without incident unlike many others according to my radio. This being our last day before we broke up for christmas I prayed we would be let off early today (in the hope the roads would have thawed and not refrozen). We were in luck, stock take completed we finished at 3 pm. Armed with my christmas cards a bottle of spiced rum and two bottles of shiraz I bade my colleagues christmas wishes and departed.

I didn't go home I collected a few items from a local store and called round to see my mother and collect the turkey. I was just leaving mother when OJ text me asking for a lift home from his soccer match at 6.30pm. That was an hour away, first I collected ET from work. While were were driving home there were flashes of lightning in the sky among the dark clouds. It was drizzling but nothing worse, the ice had eventually melted whilst I was at work. However when I was driving home with OJ the drizzle had become heavy rain that turned to hail. By the time we were half way home (its about 2 miles) the road appeared to be covered with snow. The hail was so thick everything was now covered in a blanket of white at least an inch deep. Hours later this carpet of white was still there. Adding to the excitement of our short journey was the sudden crash of thunder accompanying the sky splitting lightning.

This is one day I shall remember for the weather for a long time yet. How was your day?

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Difficult decisions

A cold reality has been slowly dawning on me and I don't like it not one bit.

I have been struggling with my finances for years and every now and then I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But right now reality is biting hard as it always does at this time of year. It is hard enough struggling for the rest of the year but the lead up to christmas always makes it worse. The realisation that I can't afford to buy any treats for my boys hurts.

Following the recent episode with my bank account I have found that I am several weeks in arrears with my rent. I am also in arrears with my Council Tax and sewerage rates. Every single month is a struggle. Every month I tell myself that next month will be better.
But I have come to the realisation that I simply do not earn enough to cover all my expenses even though I am very careful to keep spending down to a minimum.

I have a choice, I can change my job for one that pays more. That is not going to be easy besides I am one of the lucky few who has a job that I enjoy, working with people I like. Or I can continue with my current job (I have checked and I am earning the average amount for similar work) but take on a second part time job. I get tired easily so that would put an extra strain on me. But it would get me out of the house meeting other people. I could look for bar work a couple of evenings a week but that isn't going to make up the difference of £600pm between my current income and that of a year ago when I was on higher child tax credit and family allowance. Or as a family friend has suggested, a local coach firm are looking for more drivers particularly women. This would give me more money but would the greater number of hours be too much for me.

I have decided to apply for part time work with the coach company for the moment and see what happens.


Finally I am back

My laptop has been away for repair for 3 days which ended up being a couple of weeks. It is now almost virus free and after having windows reinstalled it is faster and cleaner. I haven't really missed it too much. I have been using JA's old desk top which doesn't let me do much but at least I could check my emails and go onto facebook to get my fix of bejewelled the game I play a lot.

I have recently got back into reading books, something I have not done much of in the last couple of years. I'm averaging one every week at the moment compared with one a year which is what I had been managing before.

I don't have anything exciting to tell you. There have been no dates to tell you about. No great social events to describe. My life has been a tad monotonous in that I go to work then go home.

I did drive upto Gloucestershire with my mother for a short visit to my grandmother a few weekends ago. She will be 91 on 27th December, although she is getting frail she still lives alone in the home she shared with my grandfather before he died at the start of 1994. When I last saw her in April I found it very difficult as she had problems with remembering names not just people but places and things too. Since then she has been assessed and is now on medication which has helped her a great deal, she doesn't get so confused and can now say names (even if she does get her sister and daughter muddled).

This time next week my boys will be home from Uni after their first term away. DC ran out of money a couple of weeks ago but OJ has managed his money much better. On Thursday he is getting the train home and we are going back to his college for awards night where he will be getting an award for his A level Law. Afterwards he will go back to Uni which finishes on friday then I will go up there to collect him and his belongings on Saturday. I can't believe it has been a whole term already, we have hardly had time to miss them as they have both been home a few times.

A couple of weeks ago I had my last oncology check up and have now been discharged after 8 years. I have also had a couple of audiology appointments and on 23rd December I should receive my new digital hearing aid. This is being tailor made to my specific hearing unlike my old hearing aid which just amplifies everything. The result being that I hear every noise around me clearly but still struggle with voices especially those people with low voices.