Friday, February 28, 2014

This Post Is Shit

If shit and very old people are not your thing do not read on.

Yesterday I wrote that Pearlie has been having a difficult time. Like many elderly people (or so her helpers tell me) she is obsessed with her bowel movements or the lack thereof. For most of her life she has relied on laxatives and one of the struggles we had in the early days of managing her medication was weaning her off the harsher ones. We took medical advice and got her on to a healthier regime that still (mostly) worked.

A few months back the health care team made a change to her care plan that has had a very detrimental impact on her quality of life. They decided that she did not have the upper body strength to support herself on a toileting sling and that there was a risk she might fall through it. This meant there would be no more daily sits on a commode. All elimination would take place in a pad. It also meant no more weekly showers. Since then things have become more difficult for her and for us, but mainly for her. When things build up she yells and she roars and she squeals. She is in pain and she finds pain impossible to bear. Hannah has suggested that part of the reason is that she is expressing emotional pain as well as the physical. The doctor has been to see her and up until two days ago I've felt the visits have not helped much. There was a week of ease for which we were all very grateful and Pearlie seemed happier than she has been in ages. Then, two days ago, it started again. I called the doctor and she came almost immediately. She could find nothing obviously wrong but decided to send her to hospital just to see.

Margaret accompanied her. I have mentioned before that Margaret, Bert's cousin, is Pearlie's closest friend and confidant. So, we were very glad about that. I'm told that Pearlie screamed for three solid hours in the A&E. Some tests were carried out and it seemed that a blockage was the reason. She was hoisted on to a commode and, as the doctor told Bert, the results were 'monumental'. She immediately stopped screaming.

I'm going to confess something here. When hospital was first suggested, I felt a sense of hope that perhaps they'd keep her in for a while, do some tests and maybe we'd get a few days respite. Yet, when Bert arrived home and told me what had happened and that she was coming home in an ambulance I was relieved. Relieved that it was over and glad that she was no longer in pain.

Now I'm going to be just as obsessed with her bowel movements as she is. It's going to be tough for she won't and cannot eat the sort of food that would help her. Fingers crossed, prayers, whatever, that this will never happen again.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

It Will Be Alright!

On Tuesday

Miss Evie and Granny are going today
To Belfast on the train. 
The weather will be inclement
But we'll LAUGH in the face of rain.

Evie perusing the children's section in the War on Want bookshop on Botanic Avenue.

We were lucky. There was rain but not too much of it. And we were both dressed for it, Evie in her snow suit and me in Bert's North Face jacket. We spent most of our time in the Ulster Museum where Evie said she'd like to see "the pigs". And when we did see them, she said,

"Don't like the pigs."

We also went to see the museum's famous mummy. I asked her if she thought the mummy looked like Pearlie and after some consideration she said she thought not.

Without a doubt, one of the highlights of our visit was the sausage rolls in the museum restaurant. Not one crumb was left by either of us.

Is it yummy? Yes!

The night before our expedition I found myself worrying about silly things. Would I be able to manage toddler and pushchair, would we get a seat on the train? Needless fears. The next morning I told myself that all would be well, if there were problems people would help. There were no problems and people helped. I need to make Bert's motto my own.

It will be alright! 

No more needless fretting.

For the next day was a tough one for Pearlie and Nellybert but I'll leave that story for another day. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Watching The Detectives

I've been enjoying Hinterland recently but then I do generally like a crime drama. But there is one thing I have noticed that happens in all crime drama series and it is this. The detective/detectives come round to a person's house or place of work to interview them. That person will almost always carry on with whatever it is they are doing. So they are skinning a rabbit. Even when the detective is asking them all sorts of questions they continue skinning that rabbit, or baking that cake, or fixing that engine, or chopping those onions, or sorting that photo album. And the detective has to follow the person around while they are doing the stuff. If it was me getting questioned by a police officer I'd be pinned to the spot answering all their questions and trying very hard not to appear guilty.

I've been interviewed by detectives a couple of times in my life and I always gave them my full attention. I did not knit, or work on patchwork, or do Suduku or prepare a meal. I put my life on hold for a little while as I helped the police with their enquiries. Am I typical?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Botanic Gardens and Other Fine Places

Today I escaped the rain. The butcher told me that it rained and lashed and mizzled all day in Cullybackey. Belfast stayed dry.

The train was absolutely packed. There were so many people standing that the conductor was not able to make his way through the train to collect fares. I'd imagine NIR lost a few pounds today. But not through any fault of mine. I purchased my (free) ticket at Botanic. It's easy-peasy being honest when honesty comes without a price tag.

I met a very pleasant lady on the train. Turned out she was a fellow SmartPass holder although I'd have guessed her to be at least 15 years too young for it. We chatted about the general delightfulness of free travel and she told me this story. A retired couple she knew from the Castlerock area went for a trip on the train every day! Apparently it got them out of the house and saved them a fortune on central heating. Personally, I don't think I'd enjoy it so much if I did it every day.

Once on Botanic Avenue I headed towards the Ormeau Road and the Asia Supermarket. Non-descript from the outside, it is a hive of activity inside. The staff are very helpful. One young woman, I think she may have been Polish, went out of her way to find me gochugaru. My recipe (from The Guardian) recommended that this could be sourced online. Not a-tall! Just head over to the Ormeau Road. Asia Supermarket is also a great place to get woks, fryers, knives and other kitchen equipment at very reasonable prices.

After finishing my business in the Asia Supermarket I took a stroll along the Stranmillis Embankment past the Holylands, scene of a famous St. Patrick's Day riot in 2009. I think I may be related to at least one of the rioters but, as I have over 50 first cousins, around 150 first cousins, once removed and about 17 million second and third cousins, it would be hard not to find kin among them. Anyway they were all well educated people so nothing to be ashamed of.*

I then strolled through the Botanic Gardens and called into the Ulster Museum. I didn't stay long as it was mid-term break and far too many over-excited children that I wasn't related to. As far as I know anyway.

 Portrait of Seamus Heaney by Barry McGuire

Peter Edward's painting of Michael Longley

Then couldn't resist a quick peek into the Palm House where I saw a glorious display of highly scented hyacinth interspersed with cyclamen and cineraria.

Then a quick bowl of soup and a coffee at The Little Cupcake Cafe** and it was time for the train home. I arrived in Cullybackey to a minor drama. Our 14 year-old godson was AWOL in Ballymena and there was an irate (and worried) parent in Antrim. It all worked out. He safe. He grounded.

All in all a very good day out.

* Heavy irony.
** I had a cupcake too.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day

Previous post. Eamon came to no harm. The wean just got a bit of salt spray in her eyes and panicked.

So moving on. I've been on a steep learning curve this week. Most of what I've learned has been much too profound to write about near midnight so I'll leave it to another time.

I'll share this. I learned not to go to Belfast without checking the weather forecast. Moments after leaving Botanic station today I was soaked. My plan had been to walk to Asia Supermarket on the Ormeau Road, then stroll along the Stranmillis Embankment and make my way through Botanic gardens, stopping at the museum for coffee before heading to Great Victoria Street and home. Instead I ran dripping into the Oxfam Bookshop, bought Bert some clarinet sheet music, myself a map of Belfast, then to some other charity shop where I bought a Viyella zip up cardigan before racing to Great Victoria Street and the train home. That would be the completely free train home. I love my SmartPass.

Then tonight Bert went off musicking leaving me the television all to myself. A rare treat. I watched Hinterland. And when Bert came home he brought two pieces of the most fabulous Valentine's Day cake that was ever made in County Antrim. How fortunate are we to know someone studying the Culinary Arts? Thank you Kelly Ann. It was sublime. Chocolate covered strawberries, heart-shaped candy, strawberry cheesecake pieces... oh lordy, lordy!

Kelly Ann's wonderful Valentine's Day cake

Monday, February 10, 2014

And Now, The Weather

The news this month is all about the floods in England and Wales. According to Met Office statistics it's getting far rainier, more often, if that makes sense? I am actually a wee bit annoyed that it is called the Met Office. Talk about dumbing down! How hard can it be to spell meterlogical... metorlogical... meteorlogical... meteorological...?

I do feel sorry for all those people caught up in it but there are some things that annoy me about the news coverage. Such as:

Pictures of people taking little children to view storm surges and scary waves. Not so much the potential danger that adults put small people near, but the hectoring tone the media takes. For instance:

What sort of a reckless fool father takes two young children this close to a sea front being smashed by huge storm waves

I know! I know! As an anxious granny type I'd eat the bollocks of him myself but if I were one of his two children I'd be thinking this, my da is one hell of a great da for showing me all that exciting scary weather stuff. And as long as he was holding my hand tight I'd feel as safe as can be. Although I might worry about the brother up ahead there, not holding Daddy's hand and running on in front of us and there's a big wave of water crashed all over the wall. I gasp, I stopped breathing for a second and we're soaked to the skin Daddy and me. But... where's EAMON!!!!

PART 2 tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Iffy Toes Indeed!

Happy birthday Dede! Glad your eyes straightened out. It was only looking at that jazzy cardigan I knit you made them like that!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Rice Krispie Buns

The girls had a sleepover last night and it was great fun. apart from the bit were they woke up at 6:30am. By this time they were both in my bed so, excuse any typos for I am exhausted. Martha came in about 2am, complaining that she "didn't like dogs walking on her hair". Judy and Jess both have a tendency to patrol the bedrooms during sleeping hours. Evie followed at around 4am.

I managed to persuade them to stay in bed another hour and after breakfast and baths we made Rice Krispie buns. It kind of defeated the purpose of baths, face-wise anyway. While the chocolate treats were hardening in the fridge they headed out for fresh air. Soon afterwards I heard Evie crying. I went to investigate.

What happened? Did you fall?
No. Marfa hit me.
Did you Martha? Come inside now. We need to talk about this.

We go inside. I notice that Evie looks a little red about the face. I ask,

Martha. Did you slap Evie's face?
No. I didn't. Because if I'd slapped her face my hands would be all chocolate and they're not.

And she held up her innocent, chocolate-free hands to prove her point. I had to admire her forensic reasoning.

So what did you do?
I hit her in the stomach.
She was trampling on the snowdrops.

So we had a talk about how snowdrops are really tough flowers and it didn't matter if Evie walked on them. And how it wasn't kind to hit her and then she said sorry to Evie and everything was OK.

So apart from that, and the getting up early and Evie getting 'touched' by the pigs we all had a wonderful time. Can't wait for the next sleepover.