Tuesday 29 June 2010

Deep Cleansing Today?

Photos copyright: Maggie May

It was some weeks ago that I took pictures of this blossom in a lovely part of Bristol called The Downs. There were many trees covered in either white or pink.
I had just started to recover from my sixth session of chemotherapy and I can remember that I walked quite a long way without having to sit down and I was encouraged to get well by the visual effects of the blossom and the lovely views, as well as my rising energy levels.

I have much more energy now but several things are bugging me.
The state of my house for one thing. My house is fairly large by modern standards so quite a big place for me to keep up together.
I am visiting so many blogs that are in an enthusiastic state about deep Spring Cleaning. This is one bug that I would really love to catch. So far it has evaded me.
I am trying to catch up on months of neglect because I really couldn't do much before, so I am attempting bite sized corners (clearing up one muddle from one corner at a time.) Why is it that when I do these things, I inevitably transfer the muddle to another corner?
Much of the problem has been housing Ash. He has a large shelf in the alcove with his cage on and all his equipment is stored underneath the shelf. Well that isn't too bad at all. However the problem arose when we bought him a playpen for him to exercise in. To save me having to take it down and then re erect it each day, we (or rather I,) decided to remove a chest of drawers from another corner and put his playpen there, as a fixture. So now I have all the contents of the chest of drawers in little boxes waiting to be sorted. The chest of drawers has fitted into a spare room upstairs but because I have the tendency to hoard, I am waiting until I am in the mood to be ruthless and halve everything. In fact we really need to halve everything in the house....... so the minute I finish this post, I am going to re-organise the house and have a thorough Spring Clean! I have the day to myself and no children's duties whatsoever. There is no excuse today for idleness and I have to admit to my energy levels being very satisfactory.

I went back to the After School Club yesterday evening and it felt just as though I had never been away. The children asked me about my hair re-growth and I showed them the back of my head and how the hair was growing again. They were very accepting and interested.
I am going in again tomorrow. I shall just do two evenings for now and see how I feel by September.
Talking of hair, all you people who read this blog who have been through chemo and come out the other side, I wonder if you can tell me if you suddenly started to have prolific hair growth on the sides of your face? Seems to be growing faster than my head hair. Yesterday on impulse, I picked up Harry's electric shaver and got rid of it. Yes....... I have a problem now, as it is stubbly as it regrows. Fortunately for me, it is very light coloured hair, otherwise I should be embarrassed.
It is bad enough to have little on top, but to be a bearded lady as well....... that is drawing attention to myself.

Thursday 24 June 2010


Photos Copyright: Maggie May

I have always loved wind chimes......... Well with a Japanese influence in the family it is no surprise that I have been introduced to them over the years. Now they seem to be popular in England too.
I already had several small ones that I accumulated over the years, as well as a large wooden one that I rescued from a neglected garden that I was once tending.

I quite love the sound of them gently chiming out in the breeze. I find it very soothing.
There was only ever one neighbour who referred to them as noise pollution in a half hearted kind of way but she has moved out of the area now.... not because of my wind chimes, I might add.
Anyway, last Sunday after Church, I was very surprised to be presented with the large chimes in the first photo, from a lovely friend who has just come back from a Cornish holiday.
They have a really lovely mellow sound. She said she thought I would like them!

I have been, and still am very busy looking after Amber and Millie while Sam is in Southampton. It has been an action packed week but my energy levels are quite high and I am only tired by the end of the day, which I think of as normal tiredness.
We have had some lovely conversations, the girls and I....... done spelling revision and looked up things on the net for homework projects and I have taken them in the late afternoons to their after school activities, fed and bathed them and wished they'd go to bed earlier.
They have helped me feed and clean out Ash the rabbit and kept him entertained.
They have spoken to their Daddy on the phone every morning and Skyped every evening, so I think they have had as much of an action packed week as Granddad and I have done.

Sam comes home late on Friday afternoon. He has passed the tests so far this week, though his important exams will be when he goes again to Southampton for the third session, as yet at an unknown date.

I surprised my self by signing up to do two evenings a week in the after school club, starting from next week. If it is too much for me, then I can reduce the hours but I can also go back to my four nights if I feel up to it later on. I will not be going back to lunch times yet as I have to adjust to things very slowly after being at home for so long.

Sunday 20 June 2010

Through The Gate

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

The grass is greener, the saying goes, on the other side.
In this case everything was more yellow because while walking round Westonbirt Arboretum, my friend and I saw the lovely sight of buttercups through a gate. I had to go and look and thought the field of yellow was a feast to my eyes.

This week I am looking after my granddaughters again while my son, Sam, returns to Southampton to do another week of fieldwork and to take an exam at the end of the session. He seems to be getting on well with it and Granddad and I are only too happy to help him out in this way.
I might be busier than usual and will get back to commenting as often as possible.
I am hoping that we are both in a much better state of health this time.

Ash the rabbit has obviously grown but is still smallish. He is a willful adolescent now of 10 weeks and can jump quite high. He seems a contented animal and is very friendly and likes lots of company.
We have had to alter our lives a bit to fit in with him. He has a rabbit playpen and because of his tendency to rip up plastic tablecloths that I put on the floor, we have had to buy a large piece of vinyl floor covering to protect the carpet. Obviously he likes to dig, being a rabbit.

I keep finding a huge amount of large feathers in the garden from collared doves that have been plucked and eaten by something, so obviously I will not entertain the idea of Ash going outside. The culprit is probably the fox because those birds were rather big for them to be the victim of cats, but you never know.
Ash has learnt to use his toilet tray all the time for a wee and a fair amount of times for poops. I am pleased with his progress. I am also relieved that I didn't get the rescue rabbit now because it would have been impossible to train an adult one to use a tray.

All things work together for good....... Rom 9 v 28 NRSV

Wednesday 16 June 2010

Making Roots

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

When a friend asked me if I would like to go to Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire for a day trip, I jumped at the idea.
I had been once before in the Autumn time when the trees were all reds and yellows and copper colours and leaves crunched underfoot. On that occasion I had gone as a school helper and the small group of children that I was given to look after, were a lively bunch and ran off in all directions. There hadn't been any time at all to soak up the beauty of the surroundings. I was far too busy catching up with them and making sure that I didn't lose anybody.

This time, being June, there was a completely different feel to the place and there were rhododendrons in bloom and everything looked bright green. I went armed with my camera and D and I stopped many times to take pictures and gaze at the beauty of the place, noticing the contrasts of light and shade on the many different colours of green and quite often on the coppery red colour of Japanese Maples.

We went armed with all sorts of equipment to stave off the rain because it had been forecast and the sky looked somewhat over cast at times.
However, as the day progressed, it became obvious that we were going to be lucky with the weather.
The grounds are quite vast and were once owned by a private family but have now been opened to the public.

D and I walked a good few hours and it was wonderful to see the beauty of the place and to be part of it for a fair sized chunk of the day. We ate our sandwiches and drank our drinks before walking some more and going back home.

Whilst looking at the wonderful array of beautiful trees, I started to think how sturdy they are and how long they must have been standing there. A good few were much older than my 68 years. What a story they could tell if only they could speak. All the changes that had happened and different people that they must have seen, if they were able to see over the years.

I also started to think about their roots.

The roots on all the big trees must go down very deeply and spread out widely.

People also need to make roots in their lives. We need to be firmly rooted in our friendships and our beliefs, anchoring ourselves down so that we would withstand all but the most ferocious storm. Spreading out our friendships and sharing our beliefs.

All these striking differences in the structure and the colour and the leaves, makes me think how wonderful it is that we are all so different and yet we are all part of the same *forest.*

*The trees of the Lord are well watered.* Psalm 104 v 16 NIV

Sunday 13 June 2010

Grave Yards

Photos are copyright: Maggie May

I wonder if anyone else likes to browse round grave yards like I do? I can spend hours on my own looking at the stones themselves, looking at the names and how old people were when they died and also looking at the beauty of the place. There is a peace about a grave yard, especially very old ones that are a bit run down. These headstones were very old and had been moved to the wall to make more room I suppose.

They were found outside an old church in Topsham, Devon, when I went on a trip with my son and granddaughters back in the summer.
The girls found these little headstones while they were playing in a little green square just off the High Street and I couldn't resist a few photos. I think the stones are very decorative.

When we recently went to Clevedon on our day by the sea, Sam and I found ourselves in the very old graveyard high on the cliffs. We had taken a short cut through there but ended up looking at the head stones and eventually getting to chat to another man who was doing the same.
My husband thinks it is a morbid fascination.
What do other people think?

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Ash and my Birthday

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

You can see that Ash is getting tamer as he now lets other people pick him up and stays still for longer. He has brown eyes but the camera caught his retina and made it look red.
Some people asked why we picked his name.
My daughter and I liked it. My grandsons inform me that the name Ash is the second most popular character in Pokemon and also the bunny must have been born around the time of the volcanic ash and the air problems. So it is a mixture of all those reasons really. Mainly because we liked the name.

I bought a large run for him to exercise in. I used some Birthday money. It was a one off thing putting him straight onto the carpet. I have plastic to go over it now. I learned quickly that I needed to do that.

Ash is enjoying that box and is supposed to use his blue toilet tray that you see in this picture for wees.
I think he is having a bit of a laugh as he uses that for sleeping in. I did put soiled sawdust in there from his cage, just like the book suggested. I reckon Ash needs to read the book!

I expect you remember on my Birthday last month, Harry and I were both quite ill and I never did get to write about it.
Sam bought me an alto recorder but then I went and cut my little finger and I still can't press onto the notes with that finger. I did want to learn and it is one of my *to do* things before I die. However not in the same room as Ash as he is totally freaked out by high pitched squeaky noises.
Lucky that we have a large house.

I also received lovely things for the garden and in the picture below you will see that I had a total surprise of a pretty mobile that my friend/neighbour made for me out of glass and lead.
I have had several wild birds commit suicide by flying into that window, so I do put butterfly stickers against the glass to try and stop them doing this. The mobile is just perfect for that purpose, as well as looking very pretty.
So you will see that I did very well indeed, apart from being too ill to celebrate the actual day or even week.

Saturday 5 June 2010

My Rasta Cap

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

Last Sunday, I went to Church in a grey cap, spotted with tiny black polka dots. People seemed to either love it or hate it. The people who liked it, said that it looked like a fashion hat and they felt it suited me and made me look well. Thankfully the people who didn't like it, didn't remark about it anyway, so maybe there weren't any people there who didn't like it after all.
Because I wore the grey cap last week, I was recently given this cap in the photo by a friend at church, who bought it on impulse and maybe didn't have the nerve to wear it. She has similar colour taste to me, so she knew that I would like it.
In reality, the colours are stronger than the photo gives credit for, but Harry took the photo and this was his fifth attempt and he was getting a bit fed up with trying, so I decided to use it.
I have worn the hat ever since J gave it to me. My daughter said that it was *really me* and my son calls it my *lovely Rasta hat*.
Millie the youngest granddaughter asked me why I was wearing a funny hat, so maybe she is telling the truth and everyone else is flattering me. Children of six years old most often tell things the way they are.

Anyway, ever since having chemo, I have got used to people staring at me and I have got a bit hardened to this and take no notice, although at one time I would have been very embarrassed to be stared at or to wear anything unusual. Chemo has made me be able to look people in the eye and walk tall, so some good has come of it.
Anyway, I like the hat and have no problems whatsoever going out in it. If I get chatting to people, I usually tell them I am recovering from chemo and they seem pleased that I am feeling better.
So far people haven't said to me, "Oh I do/don't like your hat." Rather, they have said,"You look exceptionally well."

Some people are asking me via email how Ash the black bunny is getting on. He is really fine and I am taking him out of the cage and handling him several times a day. He is not so jumpy and skittish now. He lets me take him out and snuggle him against me and I am trying to get him to sit quietly on my lap to be stroked. He seems to be allowing me to do this for longer periods of time. Suddenly he will have enough of that and he tries to leap off my knee. I have to be careful that he doesn't end up with a broken bone. So far I have been quicker than him and I let him be the judge of how long he tolerates the stroking and cuddling. He is in charge of that.
I love him to bits.
Harry, who was never going to let a rabbit darken his doorstep let alone be housed in the dining room, suggested we go to a large animal centre yesterday morning, to look at rabbit toys!!!!!!
We bought Ash a tinkly ball that he tosses about his cage, and a reed mat to sit on and some wooden toys on a chain to chew on.
I have heard Harry say *hello* to Ash on several occasions when the rabbit is out of his sleeping quarters and he says things to me quite excitedly, like, "Ash is all stretched out at the end of the cage, really relaxed." So I guess he is secretly making friends with him. How about that.

Footnote: If there are any Rastafarians reading this, please note that I am not making fun of your hats. I love this one. It is just that my fair skin and lack of dreadlocks or hair of any kind, makes mine seem a little unusual for me.

Thursday 3 June 2010

Avon Valley Country Park

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

While my daughter, Deb, was here with our grandsons, from the East coast, we had several action packed days.
We were fairly lucky with the weather and managed to all go off together with Sam and the girls, as all the cousins get on so well and love outings together.
One particularly successful day was when we went to Avon Valley Country Park. This is a farm with rides and walks as well as animals. Something for all age groups.

This beast is one of the residents there.
The farm is in a lovely setting near the River Avon and we walked all along the edge of the fields where lots of different animals were grazing...... from sheep to llamas.

One of the things that happened to me was that I fell in love there..............
I made the mistake of going round Animal Corner, where there were rabbits and guinea pigs in need of urgent homes, as the farm take in rescue pets for resale.
Well a rabbit is a rabbit, isn't it? Nothing extraordinary about them.
Well then, why did a certain little rabbit tug at my heartstrings? This little rabbit was white with brown ears and rings around its eyes. It was tiny and had small ears. I had never seen such a beautiful rabbit before. It was different from all the others.
I went back and asked about it. It turned out to be a Dwarf Netherland. I was told quite firmly by Harry that I couldn't have it. The children wanted me to have it and I kept going back to look at it. My heart told me that I wanted and needed this rabbit, although I had been perfectly happy when I got up that morning to live in a rabbit free zone.
My head told me not to get the rabbit as I hadn't got a hutch or any equipment to put it in. In my mind I had named the rabbit Miffy and I thought about it constantly.
Eventually we all went home and Harry was hoping that I would forget about it.
I couldn't. I decided that I would have to get a Netherland Dwarf.
Two days went by and I had researched on the net just how to look after such a rabbit.
I rang up the farm again and told the person in pets corner about Miffy and asked if she was still there. She was......... but.......... when I told them about my plans to have an indoor rabbit because of my mangy fox and the fact that we wanted it in the house for company, they told me that I would have to get a baby rabbit because Miffy (who was a boy anyway) was 18months old and was an outside rabbit who would not adjust to life indoors.
I thought that would be that. It was Miffy I loved.
Deb, decided to take me to a rabbit breeder in the county, just to look at different types of rabbit. Not to buy, of course.
I thought I probably wouldn't be interested in any other rabbit but it would be an interesting afternoon out.
When I got there, I was looking for a Miffy replica. Well there wasn't one.
Inside the shed, was a little run with baby rabbits not quite old enough to leave the breeder all sitting together. They were minute and some had been reserved for £5. I was told I could do the same if I wanted.
There were none like Miffy but I was allowed to pick up several little ones that were still available. Three little ones, a smokey grey with curly hair (lion head) and a sort of patchwork one the same didn't really do anything for me. The breeder showed me a white one with red eyes that I really didn't like. Then I spotted a pure black smooth one who was really beautiful. It was a boy and I was told that it must live alone but would make an excellent house rabbit. I picked him up and cuddled him. He was a Netherland Dwarf crossed with a Lionhead but he was smooth furred with bright brown eyes. I paid my £5 deposit and thought that would give me time to get the cage and accessories and I would have to ask Sam to come back and collect it in a few days.
The breeder was taking my details and she then told me that it was due to be released in two days time, so that I could take it that day if I wanted as two days wouldn't make any difference.
I told her my predicament about the lack of a cage.
No problem. She had one that I could buy.
This little bunny was no Miffy so we thought of a suitable name for it and came up with Ash!
Now how is it possible that I could go from a white Miffy to a black Ash? Well you must believe me, when a rabbit gets under your skin, you just sort of love it.
Harry has got used to the idea now, even though he thinks I am slightly mad since chemo, but at least I didn't get a yearning for the longhorn cow. That might have caused a problem.