Laughter

Most runs around here end up with one last slog up this winding hill. A number of cycle clubs use it for races. The British Universities use the hill for their national road race championship. The 25% twisting ascent is a real leg sapper.

But on the bright side it’s a rapid, helter skelter of a descent. On one cycle decent I lost control and ended up in the farmers field. Still not as bad as one cyclist you apparently was rescued after being found face first, stuck in the roadside hedge. You could only see his legs sticking out. That would have cracked me up. As Monty Python would sing – Always look on the bright side….

Over the last couple of years I’ve learned the importance of laughter. It really has been a life saver some days. Really dark thoughts have been broken by a random laugh. A few weeks after my partner and my mums funerals I was as low as I have ever been. But a random chance encounter with Python’s Holy Grail movie lifted my spirts. It was bizarrely the scene where Eric Idle was collecting the dead bodies on the cart and John Cleese tries to get rid of a ‘not’ dead old man. It just touched a nerve and I laughed a lot. It just seemed to brake the spell.

Yes laughter breaks the spell. It’s distracts me. In computing terms it seems to reboot my system. The problem is that often when you need that reboot the most. At your lowest ebb. The hardest thing to do is laugh. The mindset is that your not allowed to enjoy a bit of life. Laughing is just not acceptable. Almost as if it makes you a bad person. Really. For me the two of the nest things I’ve learnt about grief

  • It’s really ok to cry AND
  • It’s really ok to laugh as well.

The news is unremittingly grim at present. Nothing like a pandemic to bring out the worst in our leaders, our media and sections of the population. Today the media was full of misinformation and photographs of empty supermarket shelves. Panic buying has started. So with some trepidation I ventured into the supermarket for a bottle of milk and a loaf of bread. What a pleasant surprise to find a well stocked shop. Then one last gift. With a sense of humour the store was running a promotion on Corona Beer. Clearly with shoppers loading up with the stuff that it was selling really well. Certainly better than in some parts of the world. It’s a shame that I’m on the wagon and that I never liked the stuff anyway. But it did get me thinking – maybe the World Health Organisation should continue naming viruses after products. Especially if it leads to heavy discounts. Maybe the next pandemic could be called the Cadbury’s Cream Egg Virus. I look forward to that discount….

Always look on the bright side of life….

Hanging on

After all the bad weather. The floods. The driving rain. The damaging winds. After three storms. Conditions which have proved too much for the early daffodils. The snowdrops are still hanging on. They are truly wonderful little delicate flowers.

Hanging on applies to the humans as well.

Son’s anxiety levels are definitely spiking now. He is returning to the outside world after 10 days of safety within the confines of his house and garden. Days of not needing to build rickety bridges between his world and the world of others. It’s been wonderful to see a kid enjoying being a kid again. Seemingly without a care in the world. But soon school will open the gates to its hostile environment again. As hard as I try the smiles are harder won and often just a little too forced now. Today he is hanging on.

His Dad is just hanging on as well. Son’s anxieties are sending shock waves through my system. A system which is operating on too little sleep. A system which is facing its very own localised storm. A Grief Storm. These storms don’t last as long as they once did. But they still can have an intensity which still takes my breath away. Sucking the life force out of me. They often sweep in without warning. Turning seemingly light into dark. It takes me back to my climbing days. Happily climbing looking into a dry sunny cliff face, blissfully unaware of the raging blizzard which is screaming towards my back. Within seconds I am are grimly hanging onto the rocks trying not to be swept into the oblivion beneath me.

I strongly suspect this Grief Storm was germinated in my fears as a single parent and the growing prospect of homeschooling.

  • Is it the right decision?
  • Am I taking on too much?
  • What happens if my work levels and our income are adversely effected by factors outside my control. My role is heavily dependent on community and sporting based events. These are likely to be curtailed if a certain virus takes hold in the UK. That would make our financial position even more precarious.
  • Are we giving up on school too soon?
  • How will I find the time to do those things which currently help get me through the day. Homeschooling is likely to make activities like running a bit of a rarity.
  • And on and on

Wrestling with these factors on my own. Thoughts then increasingly turn to the gaping hole left by my partner. Suddenly it’s a full on a Grief Storm. So I end up just hanging on. But at least I am still hanging on and that’s a start.

Bird Of Prey

Today’s run was turning into a nightmare. Wasn’t planning to go but another power cut prematurely ended work for the day. Thirty minutes later I was trying to run uphill into strong headwind. Already my mojo was rapidly ebbing away. A glance to the heavens (maybe for inspiration) stopped me in my tracks. A stunning predator was circling almost immediately above me.

Given how badly my running was going I’m surprised it wasn’t a vulture.

For a wonderful few minutes it was man against beast. A perfectly designed flying acrobat versus a muppet with his mobile phone camera. Only ever going to be one winner. So the photos are a little lacking in sharpness.

My running struggles were long forgotten.

Five minutes later my new feathered friend was off.

Now on my own the quick realisation that standing still in this icy gale force wind was not great for exposed legs. What possessed me to wear shorts. I was absolutely frozen . The prospect of a warm shower contributed to a rapid return run. My mojo was definitely healed by the encounter. We are so fortunate to have birds of prey hunt in the farmers field behind the house. It’s such a thrill for our Son. To get glimpses of these spectacular birds and not have to leave the safety of his garden.

Our Son has always loved animals. Of all his toys the birds of prey were always amongst his favourites and centre stage in his games. He developed an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things to do with falconry. When he was a little older he got the chance to handle some of his most loved birds.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen kids with Aspergers bond with birds of prey.

From about the age of five Son started to struggle at school. Suddenly he was withdrawing from group activities, becoming more insular and ill at ease with society. He would avoid physical interaction and all eye contact. So utterly unsure of himself and lacking in confidence outside of the safety of his home. Yet here was the same kid who was at ease and completely relaxed in the presence of these mighty hunters. Happily handling them. Intense, unblinking eye contact with Peregrines and Hawks. Face to face no more than a few inches between them. Complete confidence. Utter love.

Birds of Prey are truly majestic creatures who have another wonderful trait. They don’t harbour any misguided notions of prejudice.

Old

It’s been one of those days when I just feel old. Lack of sleep doesn’t help. Fighting a cold which I just can’t shake certainly doesn’t help. The weather most certainly doesn’t help – a bitingly cold gale force wind. Work was a slog with everything going wrong and the computer just saying NO. School was definitely very vexing. Now even the school governors have given up responding. I guess I must be on the official naughty list. My run was hard work. Slow, cold and a real effort. At times it seemed like one step forward and two back. Even the view failed to lift my spirits. It just provided an excuse to stop for a minute. The post school garden football was an effort. Not so much Messi or Pele, more like a knackered three legged giraffe trudging about in a vat of thick treacle. So yes today I felt much older than my 339 years. I’ve used this body up can I have another one please.

For sons mathematics exam he did really well given the lack of dyslexia support. He came second in his class. Just over 70% in one paper and high 60s in the second paper. That’s not too shoddy for a kid who could only read some of the words on the question sheets.

As I couldn’t read some of the questions I wonder if I would have got a similar mark if I had sat the maths paper but it was in French. Wouldn’t it save time if you could just combine subject exams so you could sit two at the same time. French & Maths, Science & Art, History & Drama, English & PE, Geography & Cooking.”

I could sign up to that. I would combine my worst subjects and get them out of the way in one exam. So I could do Drama and Cooking in one sitting. Or maybe I combine a really good subject with a bad one – PE could drag up my French score. It’s definitely a winner.

Dad are you sending an email”

“Yes I am. I am emailing the Prime Minister”

“Oh. Your not telling him about my sitting two exam in one go idea!”

No Son. I’m emailing him a question about dyslexia support.”

Do you think he will answer it”

Well let’s see.”

You didn’t have a go at him.”

“No I was very polite”

Well you weren’t very polite playing football. You said some naughty words when you tried to run.”

“I am getting older. Sometimes running hurts. And I didn’t use naughty words. I used my special made up words. Those which might be naughty but no one will ever know. Scully. Jellycup, Fumf.”

SO YES I FEEL OLD TODAY. ITS SUCH A JELLYCUP SCULLY FUMF……

Pink legged German

He survived his challenges today. Staggeringly our French telling the time trick probably picked up a few marks. To be fair to school son was provided with a scribe for the English exam. No scribe for French. Will have to find out why.

I survived today’s challenges. Made it out in one piece from the bizarro world which was work. Then made it round the 12k run. Once again the view helped lift the soul.

Well clearly the bizarro work world had rubbed off on to me. On the run I was listening to my German language course. It seemed to be the right thing to do as son would be currently sitting his French exam. It was basically going in one ear and straight out of the other one. A passing cyclist then flagged me down and asked if I knew where the nearest cafe was. I suspect he wasn’t expecting the following response.

Guten Tag. Es ist diese Straße runter. Über 5 Kilometer

As I noticed the cyclist’s bewildered I just repeated my amateurish German but this time a bit slower and a bit louder. Then it dawned on me. What a wally. All very embarrassing. What was even more embarrassing was that when I finally switched to English I’m not sure the cyclist was any more the wiser. Although we where in Yorkshire he clearly didn’t understand my Yorkshire accent. As we speak the poor man is probably lost somewhere on the moors cursing that useless German in his pink leggings. Still it took my mind off Son’s ongoing French based anxieties.

I will leave the last words to a modern day Philosopher.

Well Dad I survived. The problem with the French Exam was that it’s basically in French. English is hard enough but French. It might as well have been in a foreign language.”

Memory tricks

You get sone days when running is particularly tough. Tough physically and certainly tough mentally. On those days I need to set mini goals to tick off on my run. Memory tricks to convince the body to keep going. On this route it’s to reach 9k. At 9k I get this view. Doesn’t matter how many times my little legs take me past here, this view never fails to deliver. The view is lost way too soon and it’s back on the slog again. A couple of hill climbs are fast approaching. I’m not the spring chicken I once was. Those hills hurt. Currently the only thing that works (apart from using a car) is to count. When the climb starts it’s about counting from 1 to 100. The deal is that I can only stop running up the hill at 100. So far every time I have got to 99 I have reset the count back to 1. Don’t say 100 or skip past it really quickly and I must keep going for a while longer.

These little tricks help me. Now we are searching for another one.

We all have blind spots.

One of mine was historical dates. I’m normally good with numbers. I can memorise phone numbers really well yet I just can’t remember dates. As hard as I try those dates just won’t stick.

Son has a few blind spots. He’s good with numbers but can’t get his head around decimal places. Ask him to work out 24×37 and he can do it ever so quickly. Yet ask him to add 1.3 and 3.8 and it’s impossible. Whatever we try just doesn’t work.

He can remember dates with ease yet times are a different matter. He struggles with the concept of time. He struggles to tell the time. Digital clocks are problematic while analog clocks are impossible. Everything we have tried has basically failed. So now we come to this Sunday.

It’s the Year 8 French Exam tomorrow. One of the areas which is bound to come up is telling the time in French.

Dad if I can’t tell the time in my own language what chance do I have in telling the time in something which probably isn’t even my second language.”

Everything we have tried has failed. In the end we settled on an educated guess approach.

Learn parrot fashion il est ….. heures ….

Then assuming he can’t work out the right time in English he will put the first number he sees (converted to French) after heures and the second number before. If he can only see one number then that goes before heures. That gives him a chance. Ok it doesn’t work with every time but it’s the best he can manage. He’s found his own way of trying to get through this challenge. It convinced him that if he’s sees time questions then he still has a chance. It’s worth having a go. Gives him hope and belief.

So tomorrow at the same time he is enduring his exam I will go for a run. I will suffer with him. Let’s hope both our memory tricks work.

Took its toll

A brief few moments of calm and mellow light before the dark clouds rolled in and it absolutely chucked it down – AGAIN. A photo sometimes doesn’t tell the entire story. It doesn’t show the person behind the camera. Caked in mud and water dripping off his sodden clothing. The lane in the distance looks inviting through the lens. Really! In practice it was stream. Torrents of mud and water making it a runners nightmare. But for these brief moments it did look pretty.

The other thing the photo doesn’t tell you about the lane is the surface condition. It’s a dirt track. Trying to navigate the exposed bedrock, ankle breaking potholes and badly eroded surfaces. I first ran down this path in 2010. The new nursery was close by so I could occasionally squeeze in a quick run before it was time to pick up our Son. Then it was a beautiful lane to run down. The surface was in a wonderful condition. Flat and ever so forgiving. Clearly the decade took its toll.

Sadly it was not the only thing that the decade took its toll on. As my MP3 player had run out of juice, pondering on this helped take my mind of the battering my knees and ankles were taking.

  • The Dreamer has seen his soul darkened,
  • The thick mop of black hair now more resembles a badly worn corridor carpet,
  • The body once fluid is a little more wooden,
  • The knees once strong are a little squeaky and in need of oiling,
  • The reliable feet now most definitely over pronating,
  • My pert bum is definitely more rounded. To the extent that it has developed its own gravitational pull.

But that’s life. I can still smile. I’ve still got my best feature – my long eyelashes. I’m probably stronger and fitter than I was back in 2010. I was drinking far too much in 2010 and now I’m completely tea total. My excellent sartorial taste is still with me – bright pink leggings today. I’m certainly more resilient these days.

So yes the decade has definitely taken its toll on me but that’s not to say that actually I might be a better person for it. Which neatly brings me to saying thank you to Di for tagging me for the Ten Years (2010-2020) challenge.

Play Along Guidelines

Please share a link to the creator of the tag-jesusluvsall.wordpress.com

Share some highlights for you over the past decade and if you want, a few low points

 Tag whoever you wish to.

Ask them some questions

Use any picture appropriate for such a tag.

Going with the last guideline first, I’m also going with Rory’s choice as it works on so many levels!

So here goes then….

Is there any year in the past decade that stands out as the best?

2010. Son was a bundle of joy and energy. This was probably the last year my partner was truly healthy. Best winter in ages. Plenty of snow which hung around for two months. It was properly cold. Didn’t feel like Yorkshire. It was a dry cold. More Alpine. It was snowman central in our garden. The first snowman lasted 10 weeks.

Has your taste in music changed in the past ten years or do you think music in general has changed?

Went into the decade a metal head who liked classical music. Left the decade as a metal head who liked classical music and who plays a little bit of Leonard Cohen.

Are you heavier or lighter than you were ten years ago?

I have much improved muscle mass density with some incremental drift on the biometrics …. in other words heavier….

How many cars have you owned in the past decade?

Two plus my partners car for 2 months until it was sold. I think she would have been smiling down at me as I tried to drive her automatic which was the size of a glove compartment.

Highlights of the decade

  • Son
  • Switzerland
  • Partner

Low points

  • Death
  • Constantly trying to push up hill on support for Son
  • Rupturing Bicep

Grief and muddy puddles

A brief respite before the next storm arrives. Grey, cold and very muddy. Soon to be grey, cold, very muddy, very wet and stormy. It’s been one of those winters. Constantly just trying to avoid deep muddy puddles. Today I failed. My old running shoes have hardly any tread left on them. As I tried to sidestep a large puddle my foot slipped and I ended up standing in 4 inches of dirty water. Lovely. I really should buy a good pair of trail shoes but money is a little tight. Expenditure is prioritised. They will have to wait their turn.

If you we’re like me then you tried not to think about death and grief. I knew it would strike at some stage (that’s life) but best not think about it too much. I could understand the emotions as I had experienced losing my Dad when I was quite young. But I was shielded from much of the fallout. I really didn’t have the faintest idea about the practicalities. Years passed and I avoided thinking about death again. Then my mum died. This time no shield. Suddenly I was grieving again but this time I was also dealing with practicalities. So when my partner then died 6 weeks later. I was doubling up on the emotions and doubling up on the practicalities.

That is what’s tough about losing someone so close to you. At your lowest emotional point you are saddled with practicalities. You can’t think but you are trying to organise

  • Registering the death
  • Informing people
  • Organising a funeral
  • Sorting out your job
  • Sorting out your partners job. Returning work assets and documents.
  • Trying to work out finances
  • Trying to find the will and wade your way through probate
  • Dealing with Government Departments, Banks, Utility Companies
  • Trying to change the deeds to the house
  • Going through personal items and enduring countless trips to charity shops
  • Trying to change car ownership so I can sell her car
  • Sorting out what to do with the ashes

Your not even warned that the ashes come back in a glorified giant sweet jar. I wasn’t expecting an Egyptian Sarcophagus but I certainly wasn’t expecting a sweet jar shaped thing.

Like grief the practicalities tend to stick with you. As we were not married probate was brutal and took 15 months to finally bottom out. I didn’t expect that. I never considered that my career would have to be ditched quickly as it became incompatible with the now number one priority – single parenting. Suddenly two steady incomes dropped to one zero based hours contract income. Where did that practicality come from. I should have realised really. The sudden loss of someone your intrinsically linked with is going to send seismic waves through the very foundations of your life. Stuff will fall down. Things will change. Seismic waves – guess whose been trying to help son with Wave Theory for school.

So here we are in 2020 and I’m still dealing with grief. Still dealing with practicalities. I have managed to kinda stabilise the new post death financial world. But things are tight. Very tight. Again something I would never have immediately associated with losing someone close to you. But it is what it is. You prioritise the essential stuff. Unfortunately brand shiny mud loving trail shoes are not essential. So I guess it won’t be the last muddy puddle I end up standing in.

I guess I can forgive myself for not seeing that particular connection. Grief and muddy puddles.

Vanish

A wall which needs to be crossed, damp moss and a spare pair of trainers with hardly any tread left. That my friends is a recipe for disaster. Today’s woodland trail run was blocked by a tree felling operation. Either that or Yorkshire is clearly the location for Texas Chainsaw Massacre 25. The deafening roar of multiple chainsaws close by. For what ever reason the trail was taped off. So two options. Turn back or cross the wall. An attractive downhill path swung the decision in favour of the green wall. Twenty seconds later I’m lying face first in a muddy puddle. Forty minutes later I am stood semi naked in front of the washing machine trying to work out how much Vanish I need to add for caked mud clothes. Two hours later a fully clothed Neanderthal is now surveying the wonderful job Vanish had done to my running kit. My once blue leggings are now a mottled light blue psychedelic design. The dark blue leggings colouring had now jumped ship and transformed my once white running top. But the muds gone. That Vanish is good stuff.

For that time when the runner has gone thud

And his clothes are covered in filthy mud

When soap and water won’t do the job

And that runner doesn’t want to look a slob

In need of rescue after that mossy wall

Which hero are you going to call?

With just 5 scoops your colours will banish

But that mud will be gone thanks to VANISH.

I was lost for an idea for the returning Chelsea Owens Terrible Poetry contest. But thanks to chainsaw wielding lunatics and a mossy wall a terrible poem was born.

If you fancy a go then this weeks rules are

  1. Let’s start off with a fun Topic: commercial jingles. Pick a product and *wow* us with an awful little diddy.
  2. Most commercials have a short runtime, so keep theLength fairly short as well.
  3. Do you need to Rhyme? No, but catchy tales bring in more sales.
  4. Look, chum: just Make it terrible. Make your audience sit up, take notice, and frantically push the Mute button until the horror passes.
  5. This needs to be appropriate for General Audiences. Write accordingly.

You have till 8:00 a.m. MST next Friday (January 10, 2020) to submit a poem to Chelsea’s site.

One final irony. Vanish normally comes in bright pink containers. I went on Amazon to see if I could find a cheap pair of running leggings. One pair stood out. Unbelievably cheap. And the colour. Bright Pink. Yorkshire you have been warned…..

It’s such a hard life

Time for some random words.

Subservient Tudor Expect Discipline Chaperone Accused Suspicious Breadwinner Complicated Stereotypical Shakespeare Elizabethan

A few beauties from this weeks school spelling test. Is this really a level playing field for kids with dyslexia. I remember joking that in a few months he will have to learn the spellings of dinosaurs. Dinosaurs like Micropachycephalosaurus. Well the way these spellings are going I’m not ruling it out now.

A bit of a test day today for me. Trying to work from home completing jobs usual done at the work base. Reassuringly it went well. So well that I managed to complete about an hour ahead of schedule. With an empty work list I managed to go for a run. A chilly and very windy run. It was also quite a ‘hurty’ one. I was convinced that my knee and foot were playing up. At the end the real reason became apparent. Thankfully not my body. The shoe soles had worn completely through. Might as well have just run in my socks. Captain Chaos was in raptures. Two old trainers and a pair of running socks to chew and bury. After a frantic hour of digging and re-digging the poor chap was tired out. He needed a few quiet moments with his teddy.

It’s such a hard life….

Maybe I don’t need to replace my running shoes. If and when homeschooling kicks off my opportunities to go out running will be severely curtailed. May need to think about looking out for a second hand treadmill. When Son caught me looking at eBay he added to the shopping list. So on top of a treadmill apparently we need a second hand cinema sized TV, a slush puppy machine and a chef. Maybe we could find a chef who specialises in funny coloured iced drinks. With that thought swirling in my head it was time to take The Cap for his walk. Luckily I do have an old pair of trainers which still have some tread. But strangely I couldn’t find them in the shoe rack. Oh hang on. Worryingly I found the sole-less running shoes next to the dog basket. So exactly which shoes did he bury then. Bugger. Yes in a hole in the garden are my one usable pair of trainers.

It’s such a hard life….