Tomorrow

Yesterday the clouds put on a free show.

Thank you to everyone who sent such kind wishes. It was so greatly appreciated and made the day a little easier to take. Yes it was only another day. We have have had over 1000 of these days. But something deep inside of me told me this was going to be a particular tough one. It did turn out to be a tough-un. I am still not 100% sure why that should be the case. Maybe on previous birthdays we have had a special trip out as a distraction. Who knows but it feels like I learnt a little more about myself yesterday. Its also clear that I still love my partner and this grief journey has still got a distance to go.

Spending the day with our son without any outside distractions did tell me one thing. It’s so easy to get complacent in life. To think your hitting all your marks and targets. I assumed I was giving our Son the attention he needed. Yesterday disproved that. He needs and wants more quality time with me. He will get that… His human world is a very sparse place at the moment. Since the lockdown started in March he has had so few interactions. One telephone conversion with one of my sisters, a brief chat with his health lead, a couple of nice email exchanges with friends and his online dialogue with teachers. That’s it in over two months. When I’m invited into his world then no ifs or buts, I need to go. Not only is it a responsibility, it is an honour. No guarantees that those invites will keep heading my way.

It’s now the next day and we move on. Changed probably yes. But still moving on.

Battered Rose

This rose bush was here when we first moved in. So it’s at least 18 years old. Given the state of it even then, I suspect it’s been here much, much longer. The changes it has seen over those years. Some good, some bad, some happy, some sad. It’s in a really annoying place. Right next to the front door. Constant pruning required to stop your arms and legs getting lacerated just trying to get into your own home. I dread to think how many times it’s been smashed and broken by washing machine and furniture deliveries. It’s regularly attacked by the local wildlife and pets. So yes it’s had a challenging life.

Yes it’s a tad battered. The roses are never perfect these days. Always a little worn at the edges. The foliage is getting a little thin in places. But it’s still here. Just like we are. I can’t speak for you but in my case I am so like this bush. A bit old. The body has taken one too many hits. Definitely battered and a little frayed round the edges. You could even argue that I’m starting to take root. But currently I am still here. Still trying to live. I will give thanks for that.

Finding Popcorn

The very observant amongst you will notice a plant pot which looks remarkably like a drum from a tumble drier. Best and safest use for those which had a habit of catching fire. Ours did get modified to make it less likely to explode (after many months of waiting) then promptly died one day after the new warranty period ran out. So better get some use out of it. So we acquired a large metal plant pot.

Some things are more challenging to find and acquire.

Things like Popcorn. It’s a staple part of our Saturday Night Home Movie Experience. Well it has been until now. At the moment it is like gold dust at the supermarket which is our only real pandemic option. For two weeks it’s been sold out. Maybe it’s become the new currency of the survivalists. Replacing bathroom paper (toilet paper). As a result I suddenly have a real urge to go popcorn hunting. Must be able to find some popcorn somewhere. Must have a rummage.

Another challenge which is far less enticing and attractive is the prospect of trying to get our son to venture past the front gate. So far the tentative attempts have failed. Even just venturing onto the road, just a few paces from the front gate is proving a challenge for him. This won’t be just isolated to this family. So many others will be in a similar position. Trying to deal with these issues largely without any help. Our leader of the opposition party has been pushing the need to address the mental health consequences of the last few months. Sadly our government doesn’t seem to get it. The response seems to be well we have released the lockdown, just go out and act normally. Unfortunately that response is typical of the last 10 years. Mental Health funding has been one of the easy targets for government cutbacks. This has led to untenable waiting lists for some essential children services and worse. Many parts of children and adult support have just disappeared. You can just see the likes of Johnson and Hancock smirking while telling us

If you have the money then you can buy help, if you can’t then tough. It’s your fault for not having massive bank accounts. Let’s think of the real issue. How can we get our hands on the profits from a switch to a US type health care system.

So we will keep trying to take those little steps. Trying to raise awareness of this issue. This is going to be a long and very winding road. Importantly it’s a road which will be driven by our son. He will decide when and where to take those steps. He has to find his own way and be comfortable with it. Today he won’t be going down that road. That’s for another day.

So I will go back to dreaming about popcorn hunting.

The forecast

The weather forecast is saying it’s clear blue sky and no rain today.

The clouds and the showers would beg to differ.

Another inaccurate weather forecast. It’s clearly the forecasters fault that it’s raining …. It always is. I remember going to a Test Match (Cricket) between England and India. It had been a good weather forecast. But it was chucking it down and play was suspended. With perfect timing the main TV weatherman came onto the pitch to do a weather forecast. I’ve never heard anyone get so many boo’s. It was his fault that it was raining.

To be honest we get many incorrect predictions. Leaders saying a pandemic will just go away. Those pension salespeople saying that you will be able to retire at 50. Being told that Betamax and V2000 would be the best video recording formats. No one would be daft enough to vote for Trump or Boris. My Dad saying Status Quo wouldn’t last as they can’t sing or play. Brexit was easy and could be sorted in days. The Sinclair C5 was the vehicle of the future…..

Basically life is to unpredictable. You just never know what will happen. What’s round the corner.

I know this all too well. One day your talking about the next family trip to Switzerland. Discussing trying for a second child or adopting. Then 3 weeks later I’m leaving the crematorium with my partners ashes. A broken single parent. That wasn’t in the forecast or the plans.

We often learn this lesson far too late. I did. Don’t assume there will be a tomorrow. Remember to hug those you love today. Start ticking off those bucket list items, right now. If something special to you is broken, then try and fix it today. Today, speak to those you care for. Make sure you live today.

Lecture over…. And yes it’s still raining here. I blame it on the weather forecaster.

Saturday

A Bee with purpose.

I know I’m not the only one who feels like this but this morning I just can’t get going. I should be sat here writing a post after finishing my morning workout. Raring to go with today’s fun and mayhem. But no. Not even got my gym clothes out of the washing machine yet. Just can’t seem to get going….

The Sun is shining and it’s quite warm, so I can’t blame that.

I just feel like a computer stuck in safe mode. Only operating on reduced power. Just going through the motions, slower than normal. Feeling a bit sorry for myself.

  • I’m tired, didn’t really sleep last night,
  • I’m fed up with the thought of having to wear a chemical and biological warfare suit when I want to pop out to buy some chocolate or post a letter,
  • I’m sick of living in a country run by self serving clowns,
  • I want to hear news which does not involve a virus,
  • Annoyed at the thought of forgetting to do routine stuff. Stuff like probably forgetting to press the washing machine ON button last night….
  • I want to go running in the hills without having to stay alert and measure out my safe distance,
  • I want to have a car that basically works and one which has a replacement brake system which has been stuck in China since March,
  • I have had enough of walking into the kitchen and not finding any food which is even vaguely suitable for IBS,
  • AND I am so frustrated at seeing my beloved Son not feel able to venture out through the front garden gate and experience any of the beautiful world we live in.

Well that’s it. Time to start living. Writing those grumpy cat words have done the trick. I finally feel motivated to get my gym stuff out of the washing machine (don’t care if they are unwashed). Going to do some exercise then going to get my big backside back in gear. Going to have some fun. Going to make Son happy. Going to watch some German Football. Going to root about the bottom of the freezer for some nice food. Going to talk to a real good buddy and see if they fancy playing an online game. Then the day will finish with a great movie night, eating full fat crisps and watching a very silly film.

We can do this…..

What are you doing…

What are you doing…..

This morning’s workout was cold, breezy and often damp. It’s odd. If I had been running across the fields, I would quite enjoy those conditions. It makes me feel so alive, help blow the cobwebs away. But when I’m restricted to the garden. When I’m trying to do push-ups and throw a kettlebell about – it’s not fun, not fun at all.

So why do I do it?

The obvious reason is fitness. Another key reason is that I need to stay as fit as I can (for as long as I can) for our Son. When he wants a game of football, I don’t want to be found wanting. He doesn’t have friends in the village to pass that responsibility on to.

But there is another reason for being cold and wet while trying to lift weights above my head. It’s very like my Dad and gardening….

Dad left this world many years ago. In the end it was a blessing as he was clearly in pain. The things he enjoyed doing were now beyond him. One of which was gardening. He would spend hours outside or in his greenhouse. Regardless of the weather he would be gardening. I can see him in the pouring rain, clearly cold and very wet finding some plant related task to complete. He would go out stressed and clearly not happy with life. A few hours later he would return relaxed and smiling. Yes he would often rush to the fire to try and warm up, but he was in a much better place than he had been.

Dad clearly struggled with his life. Pretty sure with depression. He suffered in silence. Talking about the D word was just not the thing to be done in those days. One of the few things that worked for him was gardening. It was his release. The thing that could help release the demons. His medicine. That’s why he went out in all weathers.

Exercise is my release. Whether that’s trail running, hill walking, weight lifting, cycling, CrossFit…. that’s my medicine. Sometimes activities like climbing have to stop, but they get replaced. It’s my daily release. It’s an anchor to help maintain life balance. People like The Rock have talked about this better than I ever will. We are all different. What works for me may not work for you. I guess we all have to find our thing, that activity which becomes the anchor. Maybe that is sport, maybe it’s writing, or music or knitting or cooking or gardening. Whatever it is, we need to find it. We then need to find the time to do it. That’s why tomorrow morning, whatever the weather is like, you will find me outside, running round the garden. Yes it might look odd but it makes perfect sense to me.

Moonbathing

Under the right cloud conditions, a Full Moon can end up looking like the Sun. Especially to my old iPhone camera.

I had yet another weird dream. A weird dream which was so weird that it caught our Sons imagination when I told him about it. The Sun was going through a profound and long lasting quiet phase. It just was just not heating our planet up enough. The world was entering a new ice age. So the scientists decided to reflect giant lasers off the moon to warm things up. The Moon became the new Sun. As a result people would sunbath during the night, moonbathing. Full Moons became huge public holidays and communities held giant night street parties. Beaches and parks only started to fill up at midnight. Our world was forced to shift.

I guess that odd dream had a message that applies today. When things happen sometimes we have to change and adapt. The old way of doing things just stop working and we have to develop our own New Normal….

Dad have we got any graph paper. I need it for science.”

Strangely our massive school stationary cupboard doesn’t seem to have any stocks of graph paper to hand. Music is coming up soon, what on earth will that require.

Music Sheets

Flutes

Drum kits

Violins

Grand Piano

But we have learned to make do. To improvise. The days of just popping into the shops to stock up have gone. It’s one shop every few weeks and you just work with what you have. That’s the new normal. As is…

Dad this weekend since we can’t go anywhere shall we do something in the garden. Shall we turn it into the beach again. Maybe we can camp out on the lawn and imagine we are in the mountains of Scotland. Having our very own moonbathing party.”

That’s a great idea. That would be good for the both of us. The danger currently is that we are just not going anywhere. We don’t even manage to walk through the front gate anymore. Our world has contracted. Days merge into each other. Time passes us by. Even in these strange times, that is such a waste.

Reading between the lines many UK pupils will not be returning to school until September. An attempt will be made to get some younger kids back into Primary School during June. Those older children with key exams next year may get a few weeks of direct teaching time during July. That’s it. So it looks like we won’t have to face the ‘does he return to school’ question for several months. Not going to school has become the new normal. March through August will be completely without classroom teaching. That’s a long time. Such a long time especially when the only part of the world you experience is your garden. But that’s how it is, the world has shifted. So it’s time for us to adapt. Make the best of what we have. Like we had to a few years back. When loss destroyed our wonderful world. We had to adapt to becoming a one parent family.

We did it once, so I’m sure we will do it again. To find ways of stretching our horizons without leaving the garden. Maybe we call that moonbathing.

What the day brings

It’s another day. It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s windy but at least we have a few breaks in the clouds. A few blue patches above and masses of red below. That make such a difference. So let’s see what the day brings.

Just maybe the swimming against the tide will be easier today.

Maybe a day for being more understanding of my own limitations. More relaxed being just me.

So let’s see what the day brings and embrace the inner self. Shall we say embrace the inner Muppet.

The boiler decided to stop working the instant the cold weather arrived. Not ideal at the best of times, but during a pandemic….. Getting someone to come out and look at it is an equivalent challenge to building a nuclear arc reactor while at the same time finding 2 toilet roles at the local supermarket. The repairman is the last step in the repair process. First and most important step is working this through with our Son.

Trying to explain to him that a stranger has to come into the house is the main challenge. It’s his space, his safe area. His Aspergers friendly world. Even before the virus hit, allowing visitors into his safe space was carefully managed. While he was physically in the house it’s been restricted to two of his favourite Aunts in over a year. When he was at school, that was the time to arrange for strangers to call. The school day was the boiler repair time. Not an option currently.

The meltdown hit. It was inevitable. This is someone who has not been through our garden gate and into the wider world in over 7 weeks now. His safe personal area is everything to him. It’s something precious which we need to protect. So the bottom line is a repairman can only venture into the house in full stealth mode. As I can’t afford to pay for the service option which includes full Klingon Bird of Prey Cloaking technology, then it will have to wait until son is out of the house. Back at school looks a distant prospect so it will have to coincide with a trip out to one of my sisters. Also not easy at present. So the repair is not happening anytime soon.

On the plus side it helps as money is very tight with no work. On the plus plus side, my limited mechanical skills have managed to breathe some limited life into the boiler. It will now fire up and will run for 10 minutes before shutting off. After cooling off for an hour, it I can fire it up for another short burst. It’s enough to warm the water and the radiators. We have electric fires and an old Immersion Heater – effective but so so expensive. Fingers crossed it keeps going until the repair man can eventually call.

Life is all about priorities. Sons wellbeing is paramount.

Wearing comfy jumpers (sweaters) and every hour pressing a boiler reset button is a price well worth paying for protecting his safe zone. Maintaining the sanctity of his world.

Swimming

Yesterday the sun was shining and the garden was filled with colour. Today the sun is gone. It’s cold, very cold. A biting strong wind blows across a grey landscape.

The weather matches my mood…..

After days of care free smiles, today the smile is a little forced. Thoughts are a little darker. The world seems a cold and increasingly lonely place. Rather than thinking of memories as precious blessings, all too easily my wanders to thoughts of what has been lost. What is no more. Waves of self doubt crash in. Problems outweigh opportunities.

But that’s life. Just like the weather you get good days then bad days. In my case the secret is to try and make sure it doesn’t turn into Good Days and then Bad Weeks. That’s the risk with my depression. It’s so easy for me to fall into that negative mindset. Nothing comes after the Bad times. Life becomes a never ending slog.

I look out of the window at the awful weather and what do I see. Yes no sun, but the white and red flowers are still there. They still have colour and beauty. That reminds me that the weather may change but hope can always remain. Got to keep working at this thing called life. Bad times will pass and the sun will return. Yes even in Yorkshire.

As I get older, I become more convinced that life, bereavement, whatever journey I’m on is like swimming. Swimming to an ever receding islands. As hard as I swim, that island can never be reached. If I stop trying then I will definitely start to drown. Somedays the waves are heavy, the tide against me. Swimming is so hard. But if I keep going then eventually the waves will ease and that tide will change. Flowing in my direction. Still have to work but suddenly swimming becomes enjoyable. Enjoy those moments, live in the moment.

So today the swimming is hard work. But got to keep going. Got to keep aiming for that island.

Flight

Such a rare site these days. A plane…. According to the flight app it’s on the way to Houston. I wonder how many are on the flight? With so many unseen enemies I don’t imagine it’s a particularly pleasant experience.

I was never the greatest of flyers. I was always one of those who kept one beady eye on fellow passengers for unusual behaviour and the other on the structural integrity of the plane. Luckily I never had too many bad experiences.

  • A landing at Geneva which was a tad extreme. I heard one flight attendant say – that’s the co pilot, he drives his car just as bad….
  • An argument with English Border Security why they were body searching our 3 year old toddler who was holding a cuddly dinosaur and his 73 year old granny, yet waving through adults my age. I wonder if that got me onto the security watch list….
  • A last second aborted landing at Leeds Bradford. Sudden pull up with feet to go. Then 10 minutes circling at an extremely low height with no pilot update. Finally the pilot announced that the power had gone out at the airport during the landing.
  • A year later circling Leeds Bradford airport for far too long waiting for the wind to drop. The pilot didn’t help the mood by announcing that the plane was low on fuel so they could only circle one more time before they he would have to find another airport that was open.

But then you balance that out with great memories

  • That first glimpse of The Alps through the plane window.
  • On a flight to Amsterdam telling son a story about a talking mole who would sneeze so hard he would blow clothes off washing lines. People and other talking animals would stand in front of the mole hoping for a sneeze and a free journey. A mole whose best friends are an overweight tea drinking cheetah and a crocodile who was scared of everything. When I finished I heard the toddler behind us laughing her head off. Her parents asked if I would tell another one for her. Ended up doing stories until we landed.
  • Our toddler son telling the the flight attendant on a Lufthansa flight that the in flight cakes were the best thing he had ever had. Just before we left the plane, the flight attendant returned with a huge box of the cakes. Kept him going for months.
  • As we boarded a Swissair flight the pilot clearly took a shining to our son. Seconds later son was sat in the pilots seat with her pilot hat on. He was shown how to fly the plane. That’s an awful lot of things to look at.
  • Swissair was always so much fun. Just before you landed they would dish out free goodies for you to take with you. Free chocolate, free small wine bottles, free sweets and a free soft toy for the kids. Sadly they went bankruptI wonder why….

Back to that one flight in the air heading to Houston. It got me thinking about when I would fly again. The question rapidly changed into if I would ever fly again… Aspergers and modern flying are not natural partners. Too many people squeezed into confined spaces. In your face security. Never ending queues. Unpredictable timings designed around the planes rather than the individual. The sensory overload and lack of personal space or quiet areas. Maybe the answer is never.

If and when travel resumes for the world…. if and when travel resumes for us then we have options. Train journey is still not subject to many of the burdens that go with flying. Car travel can be so much fun …..just need a car that could make it out of Yorkshire. And yes air travel may still be an option.

Or maybe I can find a talking mole who has a talent for massive sneezing. Maybe mole sneeze induced travel is the eco friendly option for the future.