not your average memories…

Wherever I write about food it’s never that well read. I don’t know whether I lack the skills to adequately describe it, or people don’t expect me to write about it, but this time this post is to do with food. For me though, the important bit is the people I am sharing my favourite meals with. I generally love something I have not had to make myself!

My favourite meal about 4 months ago was fairly simple. I was at my favourite pub, at a table at the back of the restraunt, in the corner. Someone I thought I was in love with was holding one of my hands, and chatting away, leaving me free to eat with the other hand. To save myself some embarrassment  I had picked finger food I thought I could eat with one hand. Perish the thought that I might have to spoil the first date/meal out/pub date by asking my date to cut my food for me! I had taken a risk and chosen messy food. Risky strategy for someone with cerebral palsy. Dare I take a risk and say there is something a bit sexy about messy food?! (TMI??!!) cheese, nachos, salsa, sour cream, guacamole. A huge plateful meant there was no need for chips, a starter or a desert.

I do not remember what we talked about. I just remember the general things. How it felt to finally hold hands, to see the face the voice belonged to, to have the opportunity to do such a human thing and feel ‘normal’. The food sounds remarkably plain, even if you add in a half of draught cider. In my opinion, good company can make the plainest of food taste amazing, especially if it’s something I make for others and it turns out well, no matter how simple it is. It is often such a delight to do something for other people for once, instead of me being served.

I have no idea how long we stayed in the pub. I remember the minutes we waited for the taxi. I will spare you the details, save to say I was glad I hadn’t eaten a massive meal when my date decided it might be fun to lift me. We are no longer in touch, because things came to a natural end. I hope one day I get to have a first date with a gentleman who may be ‘the one’ as this person did not prove to be. For now though, I remember it with fondness and satisfaction, and somehow separate from the rest of it.

The next time I went to this pub, I went with friends, and had what was my favourite meal from my childhood. SCAMPI, (shrimp?) and chips. Homemade scampi no less, and the obligatory half pint of cider. It more than just satisfied my hunger, as it proved to live up to the memories too, of countless childhood fish-shop suppers. Hot, salty and delicious. I wonder who I will visit my favourite pub with next time?

hanging on for dear life…

Image

This is what I see

I wanted to write a short story based on this picture, but I lacked the courage! I noticed the couple first, then the graffiti, then wondered what the buildings were further down the street, are they shops? They certainly look inviting, whatever they are. Then I looked at the couple again, but then I looked away, as in embarrassment,  as though I was staring at something private. To me they look like they are clinging on for dear life, time has stopped, all they are aware of is each other.

Gate-crashing a private moment

I haven’t ever felt like this… not as fully anyway. Somewhere near it recently, though not the real deal, as the feelings have faded. I cannot get the picture of the couple out of my head. It was some time before I noticed the ground they were on was actually steps. They almost look pretty. I briefly wondered how long it would take me to descend them, if I passed the couple. I can’t shake the feeling of looking in on a private moment. It’s almost a PDA (Public display of affection. I HATE PDA’s, for the record.) Everyone else in the picture looks as though they are going about their business, tourists on the other side, deciding where to go, what do first. Still I cannot forget about the couple.

The picture makes me…

Looking at them makes me feel wistful. A bit wistful that I wish I had what they have, but mostly because more than one friend I considered myself close to has recently found The One and with the exception of one, haven’t seen the other for ages. They were, are, friends I relied on partly because they’re ace and I loved them to bits, partly because they were sympathetic to my semi-housebound state and would visit gladly, and often.I’m having to readjust my feelings, make other friends, find other ways of coping. Does that mean I relied on them too much? This doesn’t necessarily mean I am lonely, it just means I miss them, LOADS. When I wrote about my friends last year, two of them were most definitely in that group. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy for them, I absolutely am. Which I why i am leaving them all alone for the most part, to get on with it, and missing them from a distance. Sometimes, I leave a voice-mail, and sometimes I suggest meeting. Mostly, it doesn’t help with missing them, but hoping this feeling will fade. Of course, I’m also hoping it’s my turn one day, as I wrote in an earlier post. For now, I will let the people in this picture get on with their day, and I will go back to mine, leaving the couple in the picture to enjoy their embrace in peace.

p.s. It also makes me want a holiday somewhere in Western Europe. Definitely time to go back to my day!

This post is in answer to the ‘Weekly Writing Challenge’. If this picture inspires you, why not write your own post, I’d love to read it!

I’ll always remember these things….

Image

Let’s get the tough ones over with, shall we?!

This is another post where I could write an epic! There’s been quite a few teachers who influenced me for the better or worse. Starting on a bad note, there have been teachers mostly nearing retirement who made life difficult for me, probably without meaning to, although my parents did go in and talk to one of them.

There have been several who made a difference, including an English teacher at high school. I don’t think they particularly encouraged me with my writing, I just remember them cos I got on well with them. There’s another English teacher who I sent a Christmas card to and ask after because they go to the same Assembly Hall as my grandparents. Another teacher who I really liked is one allegedly ran off with a pupil of another school a few years after I left. I felt so sad, for one reason and another, when I heard that.

Mr G!

My favourite, teacher of all has to be Mr Grant, who taught me for a few months in my final year of Primary School. He left because he got a promotion to Assistant Headteacher, in a different school in the region. We all loved him. That year was a turbulent one for me. My class contained more pupils than was allowed, so they had to split us up somehow, and I was one of the ones left, with people I didn’t really get on with at the time, as well and the same teacher my parents had to go in and talk to. In the end, I got moved classes because the school’s reason for keeping me behind was reason for complaint and I moved. It was such a horrible time. The teacher was hurt I think, but was horrid to me, and then so were the pupils in the class I moved to who said that the teacher hadn’t wanted me in his class but had no choice and all these things. All of this still stings now, and how many years was it?! Heapies and Heapies!

Anyway, Mr G was an AMAZING teacher, the kind who should have one an award. I remember getting extra help with P.E. by being allowed to practice netball in the school hall at break-time, and once scoring a goal in the playground! I also got extra help with Maths. I will write soon about some of the early years, but I wasn’t supposed to finish primary school at all, especially in maths, so the extra help then, and with the maths/reasoning side of Biology classes in 4th year at high school from the wonderful Mrs B made SUCH a difference.

Mrs P!

Primary School was not the same without him, though in that last year, the rest  taught by a job share with Mrs F, and the headteacher, who went with us on our class trip to an outdoor adventure place. i remember snapshots of that week well, good and bad, but do not wish to go into that here! The bit that sticks in my head is that Mrs P was fabulous that week but later showed the school photos (on acetate and OHP!!) of me reaching the top of the climbing wall, and absenting and the like. I’ll leave you with that thought….

how long have I got?!

Oh my goodness, today’s been one of those days where I haven’t got off my soap box. Spent lunchtime with a new friend waxing lyrical about the state of some parts of the Kirk and the Church, north and south, and how things can be a bad witness and all that… and about the different paths we’re walking and wheeling and where God is in it all, and before that I was on my soapbox about how various MPs, and job-seekers should spend a day with me or one of my wheelchair using friends, cos they’d soon realise the error of their ways, (that’s the hope/dream/delusion!!) 

I got home, and saw yesterday’s daily prompt and my first thought was, it’s one of the ‘I could write nothing, something, or Hundreds of words on!! 

Helplessness: that dull, sick feeling of not being the one at the reins. When did you last feel like that –- and what did you do about it?

The kind of helplessness I often feel is something I am kind of stuck with as in there’s nothing I can do with it, or about it, except learn to live with it and allow it to help mature me. I’m helpless without my six-month old phone, which has just died and death, and I can’t do anything about till Thursday  I was helpless last when uncomfotable with spasms and pain, and no re-positioning the bed would help, until I was so tired, I didnt hear the intercom at all this morning. Fortunately two friends were staying overnight and one of them let the carer in! I often feel helpless about my singleness, as I wrote a day or two ago. So far, I have no control over my singleness, my pain levels, my spasms, my mobile phone; I’d love to work, but don’t have a choice about that either, as I’m just too medial complicated at the moment, and off to kip as soon as this post is done. Though I may have my sixth cup of caffeine today and soldier on! 

So, as there are so many things I feel helpless over, or not it control of, when I can stay calm, how do I do it?? well, as you can see, I love to talk, verbally or in  writing, but the main thing that helps? I remember my Lord Jesus, helpless twice, once as a wee baby, and again on the cross, and all that was for me.  

I also find things to give thanks for, for there are many of those! A saviour who loves me, and who died for me in order than my sin may not be barrier, so that I might be his. A working, customised wheelchair. Healthcare free at the point of need. Food, to the point where I had to make a resolution to lose weight, my friends, and my family. I’m sure there are more. See, starting to feel better already!

friends, family and favourites

oooh, this is awkward…

Today’s daily post is an awkward question to answer, as I don’t actually have a favourite person, if we’re talking ‘significant other’ as it were. I talked this over with a friend, and they say said, why didn’t I immediately say Jesus was my favourite person?  True enough, that’s what I should have said. As a Christian, I should  put Jesus first, before anyone or anything, my first love. Time I walk away is still harder than time with Him. I can answer the question a different way…

Jesus should be ‘my favourite’?

 

I know, looking back He’s enabled me to me walk through so many difficulties in the past few years. Things I’ve already written about, including failing my teaching degree, being ill and trying to pass a Master’s degree. Add to that, complicated major surgery, becoming a full-time wheelchair user, starting to need carers two-three times a day, and managing The Bag. There’s no way I’d still here without Him and I know He’s there for me every moment of every day, and in the happy moments too. In these times I’m reminded I am to rejoice in everything, and have joy even in the tough times. I’m still learning those things!

As I’ve written before, many of my friends are my favourite people, along with my parents. I still feel quite dependent on them, really. Odd, considering I live independently, and for the most part, have done since 2001,  That said, I owe everything to them, for lots of reasons, and often miss them. My Gran’s another favourite person as we’re quite close, and she’s a kind of mentor to me.

 

waiting

 

Maybe, just maybe

who else? Well… I haven’t met them yet, and they haven’t met me. That is. if there is someone, or if God has something else, something he considers better for me. These things aren’t easy to write. Traditionally, there’s a focus on family, in churches, and usually, Christians who hold similar views to me marry young. My parents try to encourage me with anecdotes of women they know who are older than me and still faithfully waiting for the person God has for them, and if they do not show up, they will not settle for less. Oh how I admire their discipline. I know I don’t want to compromise  but sometimes the temptation is great.

which is ‘better’; single or married?

 

According to some friends I’m good at being perceptive about people in their lives, but by my admission, sometimes hopeless with my own. I’m also aware, if I marry the wrong person, being with them, and coping with all my health problems would be hell. It feels like so much pressure sometimes, and a bit of a relief to stay single. Other times, I’d like the someone special… especially when I look at friends who have found ‘the one’ but at the same time, it hits me that I should keep waiting because it might be worth it eventually. I’m hyper-aware of the tendency to ‘over-share’… enough now.

They’re special, my friends (part two)

“The type of friend you attract is determined by the type of friend you are.” #friendship

I’ve really believed this, and tried to live it for the last few years. I cannot tell you when it began. It started with a slow realization about all the people I’d hurt in the past through mood swings, things I’d said without thinking, or just for the heck.of it. There was times I was awful in school, even though I claimed I was a Christian. Once or twice it was because people egged me on to say things, and I wasn’t strong enough to say no. I was even worse when I was about 6 or 7 and onwards. I was a bossy little madam, among other things. I lost a lot of friends, as I did at other times too. It all stayed with me as I didn’t even try to change. I’ve said all this backwards.

Anyway, I gradually got to the stage where I really believe the kind of friend you are can help bring you the kind of friends you would like to have.  If you are happy in yourself, and generally peaceful, I’ve discovered this is helpful too.  I’m not sure what else. I also believe it works the way the quote says too. I have such amazing friends hopefully makes me a better friend too  I LOVE my friends. I wrote about them recently for a differently daily prompt and I can’t top what I said then. To every last one of you, thank you.

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This is a response to the daily prompt for 4/1/13

They’re special, my friends!

This is in answer to the daily prompt for today. Bit of challenge for me, this one…

friends linking arms

I suppose if you asked any group of people, most would say some of their friends are great. However, my friends are in a different league altogether. I feel very privileged to have as many friends as I do, from so many places, ages and stages, and with so many gifts and abilities. Not only that, but one or two have been there for years. Maybe there’s nothing unusual in still having a childhood friend, I have no idea.

Of the friends that live near me, I have friends I only see every 6 months, and we can pick up again as though it were yesterday. Others visit regularly, including one special lady who fills my medicine dispenser box every week. Some come for a drink, others for tea, and some even bring tea, or cake, or even cake that they’ve made. Now those are friends worth having! Others write, email or only phone occasionally. Some I have never met in person, including those through Facebook or Twitter, but I have a connection with them, especially those in a same-but-different ill and/or disabled situation because of mutual support and information sharing.

I love when I’m able to give  to my friends and not just receive. Those who’ve stuck by me. To me,  my friends go the extra mile, more often. I’m hardly ever able to meet them in town, or at their houses. I love relaxing over coffee or hot chocolate and a shared slice of cake! Though it’s exhausting, I also love days where it’s, one person comes into my flat as another one leaves. I love times like that because I love people in general, especially my friends, no matter how exhausting it gets or how much energy it costs. They’re worth it — every last one!

The one with the ‘curlywurly’

An ordinary start, to an ordinary week!

Given the exertions of the previous week, a restful week this week would have been the sensible thing! Not a chance… It was such a long week that I can barely remember Monday. The two or perhaps three staff that are about to leave haven’t yet left, and still they needed to send a carer from another area to cover the respite sit/PA time. Fortunately, this one was lovely and allowed me the same flexibility I have with my regular carers. I bought my usual shopping including said ‘curlywurly’ (chocolate covered toffee in a curly shape, in case it’s not available in the US!)

I got to go horse-riding on Tuesday, which I love as it gives me so much freedom. It’s time out of my chair, it gets me off my estate where I live, and because the horse is so tall, I have an amazing view of the countryside. For the moment the benefit of horse-riding out-weights the horribleness of the pain I am in, and helps with aches and pains because of the movement of the horse. I have a special saddle, which means I mostly sit ram-rod straight, which is good for my posture. I also have great banter with the people who help me. So far so good, until lunchtime.

The ‘curlywurly’ moment

Tuesday was day two of the D-I-E-T. I decided after the trauma of Sunday that I needed to lose weight to help with the back pain and needed a sweet treat fairly low in calories, and that didn’t feel like a ‘diet chocolate bar. Sounds great. Unfortunately, in went the curlywurly, out came the filling, leaving me with a such a large space in my tooth that I kept hitting it with the tip of my tongue. Fortunately, I manged to get an appt to fix it temporarily within only a few days, which is a bit of a rarity in this country. Before all that, I had to get home. More of that in a previous post, as it’s part of a bit of a saga

Mind-mapping…

By this point I was shattered so had completely forgotten about a appointment. My new OT arrived to do a sort of mind-mapping thing of where my head was at this point… great timing. We decided to focus on what my ‘roles’ were… so I am a daughter, sister, friend, listener… to carers as well as friends. It was so helpful to do that. The OT words were that it helps to ‘validate’ things I do manage to do, and where I want my priorities to be. As it turned out, the things I like doing and want to spend my energy on were on the left hand side of the page, and the things I end up spending my energy on were on the right hand side of the page. Things like appointment, being a service user (of several services) and all that entails, and trying to ‘people manage’, which I have ended up doing all of as I don’t yet have a ‘Joint care manager’, after more than four months of NHS funding. My OT told me that after some investigations, my file has disappeared into the either… welcome to my world dear readers, par for the course for me, however pessimistic it sounds. If you aren’t currently working due to being ill/sick and/or disabled, I’d recommend mapping out what your various roles are because it will help to see what you do manage to do and work out what else you might manage to do or to refocus where you are spending your energy. I spent the rest of Tuesday recovering from it all!

A new hobby

On Wednesday, I tried and failed to find a recipe to cook and freeze and decided to make bread instead. This means with me mostly directing, and the carer mostly doing. Somehow I ended up with more flour on me than the carer did! According to the carer, the bread looked like ‘sick’! However, it smelled like bread as it was cooking and tasted like bread when it was out of the oven… result! Odd, that I felt I’d accomplished something new when my carer did most of the handiwork! I’m definitely making it again as it is so much nicer that shop-bought bread and easy to do.

Me, the Social Flutterby

Thursday arrived, and I had a busy day planned, but fortunately this was a Good Day. Lots of banter with the morning carer, which as I explained before makes a big difference. I had a chance to rest, followed by an appointment to update my care plan. Just after this I got a welcome surprise visit from two lovely ladies who are volunteers with the local social enterprise who teach me to horse-ride. We had a great time catching up and there were lots of laughs. They worried about tiring me out, which happens very easily, however,I had time to rest before I went to a well know eatery with the bread-making carer and a dear friend. I left the carer and went to the nearby cinema with my friend to watch the film “Brave” the new Disney/Pixar animation. Caution: skip this part if you’re planning to see the film as this next part contains spoilers. I’d heard nothing about it before I watched it, but quickly realised most of the stronger characters were female. It’s basically about a mother/daughter relationship, and about being careful what you wish for! The moral in the tale is about finding your destiny within yourself rather than from a fate (or higher being?) which I don’t agree with, but I liked film and how it had strong female role models. All the Scottish accents kept me amused thought the film, and being Scottish myself meant I picked up on more of the jokes than my friend. Or, maybe I just have an odd sense of humour. I’d highly recommend Rachael Held-Evans Review of the film, which you can read here. After all of this, it’s hardly surprising I fell asleep in my wheelchair in the early evening.

Friday morning started uneventfully, and I got ready to go and meet my friend. It was fine, until I tried to leave. It being Friday lunchtime it was difficult to get a taxi. I tried to get my manual wheelchair to my carers car, but realised the wheelchair was completely busted. I ended up deciding to put my walking frame in my carers car and wing it. It’s crazy that I had to walk and put myself at so much risk when I have an electric wheelchair, and can’t get a taxi. I had a enjoyable catch up with a dear friend over a pub lunch, but an still suffering the consequences of trying to walk, even though I only crossed the shopping centre, street, and square, and back again. My feet are red raw, I’m exhausted and in so much pain. I really have to get the transport situation sorted. The rest of the day was a bit of a struggle due to medical issues and fatigue. I just completely crashed when I got home.

Drama, Drama, Drama

I’d hoped the drama would stop today but I started the day with a broken washing machine. These things are part of running a household but I have a smaller washing machine because the kitchen units are lower than normal. Absolute pain as I wasn’t informed of this when the kitchen was designed. However, I’ve made things worse as I didn’t fill in the guarantee. Off to start sorting it out so I can party later!

Yesterday…

Group of friends

My favourite bit of yesterday was when I had a group of friends round. We ate biscuits and chocolates and talked Jesus for a couple of hours. Just a ‘normal Christian activity’, whatever that is. If ‘normal’ and ‘Christian’ belong in the same sentence! I ended up needing an hours nap to recover!

We’re working our way through a study about women in the bible. We’ve looked at Ruth (predictably?) and Hannah. Yesterday though, we looked at Abigail, how she responded to a crisis in her life, and then how we respond to our own crises. If you gave me a list of names and asked me which ones were names of women in the bible, I possibly could have told you she’d made the cut, but not anything about her, except that she wound up married to King David.

According to 1 Samuel (vs 2-44 if you want to look it up she was “beautiful and intelligent”. Just his sort of woman then! Before then though she was married to Nabal… a ‘fool’ because he was happy with his riches and unwilling to share them, and because he had the wrong response to a crisis. Since he refused King David’s request for supplies, his life was on the line. Abigail was the one who went to David (with the supplies this time!) and pleaded that their lives be saved… thankfully the request was granted. The study was talking about our response in a crisis (even when our lives aren’t on the line!) How do you react to a crisis? What’s your survival strategy?

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Anyone for coffee?

A time to rest…

This week has certainly been quieter. I can’t even remember what Monday was as it feels so long ago. Tuesday also passed quietly. I was unable to go horse-riding, as the main person who is teaching me was on holiday. It was good to rest as I knew the remainder of this week would be busy. I guess for once I’ve been fairly successful in pacing myself, as I am encouraged to do in order to reduce my levels of fatigue.

More trying times

Wednesday was another story however as I had to trek into town to collect my new glasses. Given what had happened last week, I was somewhat dreading it. However, I am relieved to say it passed without much incident. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the rest of the day. I had my Electric Wheelchair with me which severely limited the the number of places I could meet a lovely friend for coffee. We ended up at one of the branches of a major chain. I’m fairly sure the disabled access for this building was added on later, rather than being purpose built which meant access was via the fire door. The staff had left this open, so far so good. We managed to find a table I could use, Jo found us, and we settled in for a good catch up. Two coffees later, I needed to make use of the facilities. I’d remembered from previous visits that these were upstairs but knew there was a lift. I’d forgotten how small said lift was though. If my chair was a millimetre longer I wouldn’t have fitted into it. I lifted my feet so as they didn’t scrape the side of the lift but fortunately there were no injures, and later I left the building unscathed. It brought back memories of a lift I used at Stirling Uni years ago which I and my friends christened ‘scary orange.’ It was a tiny, noisy platform lift which often broke down and we all hated it so much we mentioned it at disability access meetings. People were queuing up to say it wasn’t them who’d put the lift in, and no one would take responsibility for replacing it. I hope it’s not still in existence!

On Thursday, I needed a break to recover. Between Twitter and Facebook I asked people to vote on what I should do with my afternoon; bake a cake or head to the gym! The answer to unamimous, cake won! These days it is much easier to delegate and supervise… deciding when the mixture had been beaten enough, and when it was ready to go in the tin. I was rather impressed with the results! The contained I needed to store the cake in was miles above my head. I hadn’t remembered that till I was on my own. I tried climbing on a chair to retrieve it to no avail, much to my night carers disgust. She got the container with help from the mop handle and safely stored it away for Saturday.

Good Chaos!

Friday morning was rather chaotic, but definately good chaos. I have writing about the decking out of the flat here. Along with my friend Bryony, my friend Emma was also visiting with a young charge. As with the cake making, I whizzed about supervising another friend who was filling the UFO with medication, making sure everyone had drinks and London 2012 cakes! The morning was so much fun, the best in ages. It is so lovely to have those normal times with friends. It makes such a difference. Friday afternoon was back to normal with yet another appointment, however this one was fine. I have more changes to make to my ever expanding list of medication, but hopefully will have less pain at the end of the experiment.

Saturday morning, and a friend I haven’t seen in years arrived with her baby daughter for hours of chat, tea and cake, and more chaos. It’s always lovely when you can pick up where you left off as those we’d seen each other recently, rather than only keeping in touch over facebook, as we had done. I guess the jury is out as to whether online or offline friendships are the most beneficial. Have read, and written a couple of different posts, and am still thinking about it. Was great to see my friend and meet her lovely daughter. These visits make my week. If it wasn’t for loyal friends my social life would be so much more limited. I spent the rest of the day finishing my latest post for The Bible Bible Project. Not sure yet when it’ll be published.

 

Today has been one of those days when I found it difficult to be motivated, arriving late for church. I had managed a decent quiet time this morning, and am greatful that semons appear online later in the week. It helps make up for not concentrating this morning. Have spent the rest of the day catching up with coverage of the Olympics and writing. Is lovely to feel so peaceful and am hoping this will be a good start to the week. Definitely time for coffee tho…!