Another day

Another hot one. One more day then proper weather sweeps back in.

Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s overthinking. Maybe it’s these crazy times. Maybe it’s lack of sleep. Maybe it’s feeling just a little bit alone in this fight. Maybe it’s just one of those days. But today has been on off day. A down day. A misfiring day. A depressed day. I get these days. Not as many as I used to but it doesn’t really help when they strike. These days it definitely feels like good weeks and bad days. So it’s a bit of a surprise when the bad days sneak up on you. All the more frustrating because there is not a definite cause. No warning. Just wake up feeling this way.

A day when

  • The mojo has gone on holiday.
  • Life feels hard and unremittingly uphill.
  • Just feeling yucky.
  • Everything is an effort.
  • The daily workout was completed but never got out of 1st gear.
  • You just want to sit and slouch.
  • That smile is an effort.
  • Routine things become annoying.
  • Those various body injuries just hurt that little bit more.
  • An old photo which made you smile yesterday today brings a tear.
  • That inner demon is just a bit stronger today. The negative voice is just that bit louder.
  • Definitely a little snappy and quick tempered.

Basically low and deflated. It will pass but until it does then it’s no fun. I was going to swear but I won’t. Let’s get through the day and see what tomorrow brings. If it’s the same feeling then maybe a bit of shock therapy is required. I think I will ask son to fill a huge bucket with cold water then fill it with ice cubes and whatever else he fancies. Then he can dump it over me. It worked last time I was like this, maybe it will work again. Only one way to find out….

Lost Friends

And another rose photo…. I have to say out garden is blessed with weeds and roses. Each year they appear and they always feel like the return of friends.

Last night I had another weird dream. This time it took me back to my university days. It started off by showing that my career path had been influenced by a slip of a pen. I had applied to do a degree in Economics but had been put on a Home Economics course. A degree in cooking for the worlds worst chef, OK.… But the main part of the dream was centred around friendships. All my college friends were on the course but no one recognised me. As hard as I tried, nothing. I was just blanked by them. Most unsettling.

As ever the weird dream put an end to my nighttime sleep hopes. So it was time to drink tea and think. A quick search on the internet found recent pictures of some of my old college friends. I just about recognised them. Would they remember my face which is perfect for radio – probably the same I guess. But here’s the key thing. These were really close friends. Yet when was the last time we met up in person. Our careers and life’s moved us apart. I’m not sure it was even this century. But it doesn’t stop there

  • I haven’t seen my schools friends since I first left my childhood home to go to University.
  • One really close school friend I did keep in contact with. We would meet up every few months. But again our life’s drifted further apart and the last time I heard she was living in Israel. That must be over 20 years ago.
  • My climbing friends still keep in touch via letters. Yes letters – how old fashioned does that sound…But we haven’t been climbing together in 6 years.
  • I still keep in regular text contact with a good friend who I went to football matches with. But I’ve stopped going to games now due to circumstances, so we don’t meet up in person.
  • Work and parenting friendships have come and gone.
  • Friends in the village have dwindled. Some have moved away, some have sadly left this world.

So in terms of actual physical friend meet-ups it’s down to one chap I normally work with. He occasionally drags me for a game of golf. There are so many stories right theremy golf career is about as good as my cooking career. But due to the pandemic I have not seen him since the start of March.

Life and my choices have sent me down this path. Living in a rural area, bereavement, single parenting and autism in the house have all contributed. But it is was it is. A huge element of personal choice comes into the mix as well.

Yes this is sad but I am so lucky. The gaps left here have created space for blogging friendships. I’m doing the best job in the world – parenting. Job is the wrong word, it’s more a privilege. I have a great life. But I do so worry for others. Feeling alone can be such a dark place. Alone and yet claustrophobic. No one to reach out to. No one to interact or grow with. Some choose that option freely. But many are forced into it by circumstance. Illness, age, special needs parenting, single parenting, location, social factors, fears and yes a pandemic. It’s so easy and unfortunately very convenient to forget about those who drop off the grid. Last night was a timely reminder for me.

Take care my friends.

His eyes

It’s been a few months since I went trail running along this route. The first time I did this route I remember thinking that the route will gentle meander up the hill. Wrong. A direct, straight up mud fest.

When we came walking here with the dog I remember telling our son that the route was into the trees. Straight up and then down the other side. His response

Why don’t we just walk round the base of the hill. We will eventually end up in roughly the same place. Makes more sense to me.

That is the perfect metaphor for life and parenting. It’s something I’m desperate to learn from.

Each person, each child is unique. What works for one person may not work for another. My path might be right for me but is it really the right path for our son. The answer is probably NO. So why should be follow me up that hill path. He sees the world through his eyes not mine. He will see and interpret things differently to me. He has to find the route that works for him. That’s the way he becomes the person that he was meant to be. Not the person I, or the government or society believes he should be. He has to live his OWN life. Become the person he is most at ease with. His true self.

Dad why wasn’t I christened?”

Because that has to be YOUR decision not OURS…..

I might be convinced that homeschooling is best for him. But only HE really knows, so it has to be his call. If in September he decides that school is safe and that it’s where he wants to learn then he will go back.

It’s tough for the parent. Trying to find the right balance. I probably get it wrong every single day. But the secret is to learn from those mistakes. Parents should learn just as much or more from their children than we teach them. So hopefully I can stop myself from saying things like

  • You need to do…
  • This is what will happen…
  • This is best for you…
  • That is wrong for you…
  • This is the truth…

Replace these phrases with

  • What do you think…
  • How do you see things…
  • What is your heart telling you…
  • What works for you…
  • This is only my opinion…
  • It’s your call…

Ultimately it’s HIS life. It’s the ultimate privilege that he allows me access his world. To sometimes act sometimes as guide and but more often just as a companion. But it’s a two way process. He also guides me. More than he realises. Until he decides to spread his wings and fly, then I’ve made the life choice to be that companion and occasional guide.

Monday

Just a touch of summer. Well for a couple of hours anyway.

So Monday arrives and no trip to the garage. The car needs some repair work. It’s been waiting for parts to arrive from China for months. Finally they arrived in the country last week. Now the big problem, how to get the car repaired while keeping son’s anxiety levels at an acceptable level. Two options. Son stays at home while I go or he comes with me. Both options are not great and potential stress storms. We have had a long chat over the last few days about the situation. It was clear that son’s stress levels where going through the roof. No obvious way to deal with this. Son is ALWAYS the priority. So I took the only viable option – cancel the repair. The car can wait. It’s not as if we will be using it much over the coming weeks. A few miles if that. Will probably have to wait until either son goes back to school (September – if in fact he does go back) or more likely wait for the garage to start the car pickup service again. Speaking with the garage that might not be for several months.

At least we are minimising our Carbon Footprint.

And I don’t have to fork out for a really expensive repair just yet.

AND SON is a lot more relaxed again. – That’s the key.

So we move on. I know how the phrase goes – meet your problems head on. But sometimes the circumstances dictate that the head on approach will create too many adverse consequences. So if that means doing a sidestep and coming back to something, then so be it. Maybe circumstances will change and the problem becomes much more manageable.

“Dad what’s the latest date for the car to be fixed?”

Well if we are not using it then I guess it’s March when it has to have its annual test.

You never know by then we might have won the Lottery and then you can just buy a new car.”

That’s true.

It gives you 9 more months to earn some money to pay for the repair.”

Yep

It’s gives you loads of time to clean the inside of the car. Not sure a repairman would venture in there currently. It’s a bit messy.”

It looks lived in….

Dad, it looks like a skip.”

It drives like a skip….

Maybe that’s the plan Dad. If we don’t use the car then you keep moaning about not having enough wheelie bins. The car could be a motorised wheelie bin. I bet many would like one of them.”

I like that idea. It’s a moving bin that plays music and has a heater. It’s even got air conditioning for the hot days. It’s a winner.

Needs work

Another moody Yorkshire summer afternoon. Everyday it’s such a blessing to wake to this view. No wonder my partner fell in love with this house within seconds. And as ever she was on the right side of the conversation. The ‘needs work’ line was a little weak. Actually it still needs work but that view is still here. Tell me what’s more important.

Looking back my line about ‘needs work’ was more about avoiding change. Sticking with what we had. Avoiding that leap of faith. That’s been a theme of my life story so far. I always think my past climbing hobby is a perfect reflection of life. Many goals set but never attempted. It was easier to avoid them, find excuses. Too much caution climbing routes. Using fear and self doubt as an excuse to avoid those more challenging climbs. Backing away from leaps of faith. Yes I had fun but what could have been.

Now the life safety net has been removed. Single parenting and being without that person who held my hand on those big steps. Life has changed but so am I. It’s a slow process but it’s happening. Now is the time to face some of those fears which have held me back. Time to start ditching those constraints that have grounded me. Time to re-evaluate myself. Only by doing that can I be that parent our son truly deserves. Yes the one who protects him but the one who also encourages him to truly flourish. To be that person who he truly wants to be. To live his life.

Not my berries

Wild strawberries get everywhere. Now they have found a way into the large tub which contains the old blueberry bush. This raises one of the great life mysteries. Wild strawberries are cropping up all over the garden. Even on the stone drive. Yet I find it impossible to grow them when and where I want them to. Nothing ever happens with my strawberry seeds. Most frustrating….

So officially no work until September at the earliest now. I guess it gives me more time to tend my strawberries. But we are SO fortunate compared to many others. We have beautiful memories. We have a nice (if slightly chaotic) garden with a lovely view. We are relatively secluded. Son can feel safe here. We can scrape by and pay the bills. We can still have fun and enjoy life. Yes another 3 months of this self contained world can at times seem a claustrophobic thought. But that thought is there only if I let it exist. In reality I’m losing a few brief encounters, some knee jarring runs and an occasional trip out. Counter to that – Son is gaining a feeling of security. For that security I can more than cope with a few inconveniences. Everyday we still have the ability to create memories and live out our dreams. Maybe not my frequent night dreams featuring talking cows and dinosaurs. But you know what I mean.

So let’s be thankful for what we have. Let’s use what we have. Let’s remember to live.

Let’s take the time to watch the wild berries grow…

The other thing about the wild strawberries is that they don’t last long. The are stripped bare by our frequent garden visitors. That’s fine with me. I guess they were the ones who brought the seeds here in the first place. So they grew them, so why not let them enjoy the rewards. And the answer to the great life mystery. I should leave the gardening to the experts. The wildlife. Having said that – they don’t seem very willing to cut the lawn.

Day 123

I clearly have too much time on my hands because I’ve been counting

It’s Day 123 of our lockdown…

Normally I do a weekly post – what have we found out this week from schooling at home’. But this week in honour of the 123 day milestone let’s do a special ‘what have we done withoutpost….

  • That’s 123 days without the school bus or ironing a school shirt,
  • That’s 123 days without missing the school bus,
  • That’s 123 days without a school bag,
  • That’s 123 days of not forgetting to pack a really important school item,
  • That’s 123 days without the carefully packed ingredients for food technology deciding to empty themselves over the other contents of the bag,
  • That’s 123 days without the school bag zipper becoming stuck,
  • That’s 123 days without having to patch up school trousers,
  • That’s also 123 days of not using his new trousers – bet they won’t fit now…
  • That’s 123 days without losing items of sports kit in the school changing rooms (but strangely they still find a way of going missing),
  • That’s 123 days without son combing his hair (ok that’s an exaggeration but it certainly looks like it most days….),
  • That’s 123 days of son not meeting another person except me,
  • That’s 123 days of me not going into the work unit,
  • That’s 123 days of not emptying the work unit bin or checking for out of date milk in the work fridge. As I’m the only one who does – I just dread to think what alien life maybe germinating in there,
  • That’s 123 days without a run (not counting the garden runs as they are more akin to a game of twister than actual running),
  • That’s 123 days of my mountain bike being sat unloved in the garage,
  • That’s 123 days without a trip to the ice cream parlour or a food takeaway,
  • That’s 123 days of not popping into a coffee or cake shop,
  • That’s 123 days without an excursion,
  • That’s 123 days without a trip to the zoo,
  • That’s 123 days of not going out then worrying constantly if I did remember to lock the front door,
  • That’s 123 days of living in shorts, sarongs, running leggings and tracksuit joggers (don’t panic they are getting washed) – I might have fibbed on one of those..
  • That’s 123 days without having to buy a car parking ticket,
  • That’s 123 days of not feeding the car petrol,
  • That’s 123 days without using a cash machine,
  • That’s 123 days of desperately not searching for my car keys and wallet,
  • That’s 123 days in which our entire world comprised only of the house and garden.

But even after 123 days, if I look hard enough I can still find something new to photograph. That’s shows how lucky we really are. Even after 123 days of lockdown.

An old trip out

This is from a couple of years back. A two hour car drive to the west side of Northern England. The Lake District. A place that sometimes feels just a little bit Alpine.

We stopped off at Castlerigg Stone Circle. One of the countries finest historic sites set amongst the countries highest mountains. It’s was erected in the Neolithic period. Sometime around 3000BC. Yes even before I was born. It’s one of those special places. Yes it’s popular picnic site now but it still has an atmosphere. It just feels different. Many years ago after a days climbing, I spent the night here. Just sat on the ground in the middle of the circle. I’m not sure why. Maybe waiting for a ghost or something. Didn’t see anything but when I walked away after sunrise, I had never felt so calm and relaxed. It’s that type of place. I could so imagine a great fantasy author coming here for inspiration.

What struck me about the second photo is the look on my two faithful companions. New visitors had just arrived at the site. The four legged one, I suspect was eagerly checking them out for food or toys. The young boy was definitely not so eager. Once the site started to fill up a little then it was most definitely time to go. Crowds and Aspergers are not great bedfellows. That’s why the time to visit places is such a delicate scheduling task. The choices tend to be

  • Go when the weather is bad,
  • Go just before they are closing,
  • Arrive super early. Try to get round before the masses start to arrive.

As a result visits tend to be fleeting. They also sometimes require really early starts. In this case we set off at 5am. That’s not ideal but needs must. One definite advantage. Nothing better as you drive away from a site and passing the traffic queues waiting to get in. Does that thought make me a bad person….

Labels

It’s yellow rose time.

It’s simple being a rose. Just got to worry about getting the colour of the petals right. Can’t have a White Rose suddenly going red. That’s just a no no in Yorkshire. Would I trust myself to be a rose – probably not. Hopefully the gardener would attach a label to remind me what colour I needed to be.

For the last few years I’ve labelled myself. First of all I labelled myself as a WIDOW. Initially I was a YOUNG WIDOW but the young bit was stretching the truth a little too far. I was also labelled a SINGLE PARENT. Son also correctly labelled me a MUPPET.

I can think of a few other labels I could go for but sadly they would not be widely accepted…

  • Chef
  • Gardener
  • DIY expert
  • Multilingual
  • Musical
  • 6ft tall
  • Thor like.

I can think of a few more labels which are more applicable to me..

  • I’ve been called a Socialist before – with some of my views, I probably am,
  • Plant Killer – oh yes,
  • Weapons Grade Cook – can’t argue with that,
  • Metal Head/Headbanger – the cd collection and the Iron Maiden T-shirt gives that away,
  • Newcastle United Fan – otherwise known as a Loser….
  • Little Bro – yes I am the youngest sibling but bizarrely I am the tallest…

But last week I was reading a post by a wise blogger who can actually call himself a gardener. Suddenly I came across another label. A label which potentially fits as well.

BACHELOR

I call myself a widow but in the eyes of the law, I am not. We were together for nearly two decades. Living as close as any couple. But we never got round to get married. We (I) thought we had plenty of time. My worst ever call. Going to take that mistake with me to my grave.

So given that fact then yes I am kinda a BACHELOR. It doesn’t sound right to me. It’s bizarre that until last week I would never have thought that label applied. Never crossed my mind. I know that I’m starting to overthink this. It’s only a silly label. It’s what’s in the heart that matters. But it did unsettle me for some reason.

Does WIDOWED BACHELOR sound any better.

Movies

We are running out of sun cream this summer….. So need protecting from the unbroken sun beating down on parched Yorkshire……

Over time you find ways to protect your inner self and your family. Unlike sun protection, these things are needed frequently here. With Son’s Aspergers he can suffer with severe anxiety attacks. To be fair I struggle as well. But over time you find ways to block out the anxieties for a little while. For me the best blocking techniques are running, exercise, music and climbing. With Son it’s dreaming, talking and watching wrestling. One thing that works for BOTH of us is watching movies.

I remember being told by various parents that I should limit screen and TV time. It’s bad for all kids. Apparently it’s ok for the same parents to watch as much TV as they like. Ok. We need to remember that all kids are different. Unique personalities. What works for one child may not be suitable for another. In the case of our Son, movies help brake the downward descent into an awful anxiety whirlpool. So when he needs to, he can watch a movie. If it takes two movies, then it’s back to back cinematic viewings. I guess the ultimate would be to watch the entire Marvel Universe in one sitting…..

The other upside to movies is that it helps with my anxieties as well. It’s good sometimes to forget the current world and just escape. Son tends to be in full control of the movie schedule. His choices will work for me. Often these are cartoons. That suits me just fine as I’m a big kid at heart. Nothing better than 90 minutes of ScoobyDoo or Ice Age. Part of me secretly would love to be deposited in one of those cartoon worlds. They always feel so much safer and more fun than ours.

Well the other night we both needed a bit of cheering up. So we sat in front of the TV and Son scanned the available options. Which Scooby movie would he pick. He might even pick a Marvel epic. This is going to be so cool…. Five minutes later we were watching the Playmobil movie.

Now that was not what I was expecting. Son hasn’t played with a Playmobil toy since he was about 4. Ok I will just grin and bare it. Well I will go to the bottom of our garden. WE both loved it. So much so that when I couldn’t sleep during the night, I watched it again. Ok that’s my rock and roll credentials blown out of the water but so be it. Yes its not going to get any Oscars but it certainly wins on the anxiety blocking scale. Now am I too old to get out the Playmobil figures……

Unbelievably while writing this ….the sun has come out. Where is the sun cream.