Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quirks

This post from the most fabulous Savannah started me thinking about quirks; my own in particular. When you walk into the Palais de Roses, you'd be forgiven for thinking I'm a lazy, good for nothing shite. There are piles of unopened post by my front door. It's generally messy. There are usually piles of unwashed dishes stacked in my kitchen. Housework is one of those things that I get around to eventually; and eventually hasn't quite happened yet.

However, there are somethings which I have to do, or have to have or Life suddenly becomes unbearable. Things that drive me nuts. I realise I'm not so lazy, laid back or accepting. I am prepared to go to war for these things.

I must have my smoking tin organised. The papers have to be a particular thickness, the brand of tobacco can not change and the filters must be the extra-slim. Additionally, I must have a particular brand of match to poke the tobacco down and I can't use anything other than the Poppell click brand of lighters (I prefer their blue and dark green lighters).

I must have one good cup of coffee to start my day. No suprise to you, I'm sure. I can cope with all the instant crap in the world, but if my day doesn't start with that first cup of ground, filtered coffee I might as well go back to bed.

Toilet paper must be positioned on the roll holder so the paper drapes over. I have been known to go to other peoples' houses and re-position their loo rolls for them. No, it's not negotiable. Yes, I do recognise peoples' rights to be wrong and misguided, but no, that's the only proper position for a loo roll.

I can't abide newspapers, books or miscellaneous items on sofas, chairs or futons. I collect them and put them on the floor or nearby table. Drives me nuts. Don't ask me why, I have no idea. I don't have a problem with a messy floor, I do with a messy couch.

I will straighten pictures hanging on the wall.

I am especially fussy about stationery. I will not write with anything other than a purple pilot V5 pen in my Moleskine journal. I will take into places of work, my own pens, mechanical pencils and eraser and God help the person that tries to walk off them. I nearly committed violence yesterday when I realised one of my clients walked off with a pen. Black ink for work, blue for personal correspondence.

I will only wear silver jewellry. I always wear my new moon. I will take it off for massages, but that's it. I don't wear a watch and don't like bracelts, they always feel like handcuffs to me. I wear one silver ring on my 'status' finger, even though I am neither married nor engaged. It confuses the hell out of people and I have no problem with that.

When I read books, I don't fold down corners to mark my place or bend the spine. I won't lend my books to people who do. Most of my books look like I've never read them, when in fact I've read and re-read them. I will only let go of text books or books that are so awful that I've never finished them, or would never read them again. Probably why I have 5 book shelves, double stacked in places. I'm still in mourning for the books I had to leave behind in Trinidad, I just didn't have any room for them. No doubt, Amazon will be getting another large order from me soon. When I find an author I like, I will buy up their entire list, credit card allowing. I have to read series in order from the first one. I don't borrow books from the library because I like to have the books sitting on my shelves waiting for me. Yes, it means I occasionally get caught with a complete dog, but I'm still not willing to change, even with my credit card moaning pathetically.

In my study, I have three corkboards upon which I pin lyrics from songs, poems, quotes, cards and mementos from good times: train and plane tickets, posters etc. They are pinned with ladybird pushpins (thumb tacks for you over the water). I can't not have the ladybirds. Every Samhain (31st of October), I strip the boards, put all of the bits and pieces away in a box file and start again.

I paused in my writing, to go over and edit. I'm going to stop now. I think I understand now why I'm single.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Walk on the Wilde Side

Now, I'm not one for competitions. Firstly, I'm not terribly competitive. If you want to dash across that field, go ahead by all means. No, I don't care how far you can throw that stick. Excuse me? You want me to run? Secondly, I'm not much of a gambler. I did do the Trinidad National Lottery when there was an oportunity to win $13 million TT, and spent a pleasant afternoon spending the imaginary money, but wasn't terribly suprised when I didn't win. I don't even bother to do the Lottery in the UK. Quite frankly, I have more chance that Robert Downey Jr will walk into my local cafe, catch sight of me and fall madly in love. And let's be honest, that ain't never gonna happen. Blog competitions, I tend to pass on. Mostly because MJ is really scary when she wants to win something and I'm really not woman enough to take her on.

However, on the 22nd of July. XL changed my mind. He was offering an Oscar Wilde action figure. I thought 'bugger it' and entered. Of course there was the inevitable cat fight and I'm not sure Savannah has forgiven me. Ladies and Gentlemen, I won! No, really. I won. How excited was I?! I had to explain to my brother's family why I was jumping up and down and squealing like a teenage girl. They still thought I was bonkers. I don't think that has anything to do with my winning Oscar though.

XL posted the winner on the 28th of July. You may remember that I was in Trinidad at that time, caring for my father. Bless him, XL offered to post it out to me, which would have meant I'd never have got him. XL and I had a brief flurry of e-mails. I asked him to hold on to Oscar until I made it back to the Cold and Grim. Pretty much as soon as I landed in London Gatwick, XL was asking if he could post Oscar over.

Last week Monday, I got a note from Royal Mail telling me they were holding a parcel for me. Queue much girlie squealing. But, I was going to London to visit a friend on Tuesday and I knew I couldn't get to the post office for a couple of days. My night out in London turned into a few days as my friend and I got hideously drunk (my liver has written a letter of complaint to my MP) and staying on seemed like a good idea at the time. I finally staggered back to Norwich Friday night. Second thing, Saturday morning I went and picked up Oscar.

He was lovingly packaged, along with a really sweet note from Lola, RJ and XL. I was especially touched to find, Oscar hadn't got bored and munched the box of chocolates. XL had kindly included some postcards for Oscar to write home, which he declined to do.

Since then, Oscar has been regalling me with his famous quotes, the most applicable to me being:

'I can resist anything but temptation'.

The one that had me in stitches was: Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.

Many thanks to XL for Oscar, he looks quite content next to my laptop.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hi Hoooooo!

I have a well earned reputation for being a Lazy Shite. Given any opportunity I will assume The Position on my sofa, which is very, very comfy. I don't like mornings and will happily potter around smoking and drinking my coffee until...well...the afternoon. My Get Up and Go, got up and left years ago, slammed the door on it's way out and hasn't been seen since. Not even a postcard.

This reputation has been shaken and stirred Ladies and Gentlemen. I am once again gainfully employed with The Alternative Healthcare Practice. I have a long history with them. When I was doing my Creative Writing qualifications that led to my degree, I would be their emergency receptionist. When I wasn't working for them I was sampling the many treats of accupuncture, osteopathy and hypnotherapy. Earlier this year, I thought some accupuncture would be good for me. And it was. After a treatment, I casually dropped into the conversation that I would be available again for any work they could throw my way. The few days work then turned into a 2 day a week job. Before I had the chance to get to comfortable, I got the phone call from my brother, saying it looked like my father had lung cancer.

I went to my employer, explained the situation and then said I was going to Trinidad for 2 months. Any other sane employer would have thanked me for my time and bid me farewell. He did not. He sent me off with his blessing and said the job would be waiting for me when I got back. I did say to him if he got someone he liked, to hang on to them. It's a small business and they can't afford not to have a key member of staff. I understand the pressures that running a small business brings.

As soon as I was coherent the day after I landed, I rang to say I was back. Did they still want me? Would they mind if I had a week to get my shit together before I started (if they still wanted me back)? Yes, they wanted me back and of course I could have a week before I started. Not only that, but if I needed to take more time, I could have it. I was both suprised and pleased.

The Monday after my return, I went along to have a financial review with my financial advisor. In the course of our meeting, after he finished telling me off for going through my cash reserves like a wolf in a sheep's pen, he offered me a job. Temporary, for the other days of the week I'm not working. The temporary part is a convenience on both sides. We need to see if we like each other and to see if it's going to work.

So much for continuing my life as a bum.

Since I've come back from Trinidad, I've gradually been getting the house and garden sorted. Jobs which were piling up have now been dealt with. I've not been terribly energetic about it, less blazing and more of a gentle pottering, with Couch Time being factored in.

I still have no idea what I want to do when I grow up. For the moment, that's okay. I'm not in a position to make any long term decisions right now. One way or another, this year has been hard work. I've been battered and blown about. That's okay too. I've learnt a lot and I hope with the learning I am a wiser and stronger woman for it. Time will tell. Everything is as it should be.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Our Survey Says

I have been suffering from a lot of spam recently. Must get some pills for that - oh yeah, I can get cheap pharmaceuticals from viagra to panadol, a Russian doxy to mud-wrestle the Nigerian Princess who wants me to launder her inheritance, to compete for the honour to feed the pills to me, while I drink margueritas on the island I bought with that suprise prize draw millions courtesy of Microsoft.

So it was with some trepidation I opened the e-mail titled: Internet Research Project. What can I say? I walk on the wild side. I opened it up and was curious to see the contents. Not curious enough to follow the link though. Instead I sent an e-mail and asked if the sender was a real person as I had enough pills, Russian babes and money. Very quickly, I received a reply. It is indeed kosher research for a PhD thesis on the personality traits of bloggers. After I did the survey, I asked whether the PhD student would like me to put her survey out there. I've copied and pasted the contents of the first e-mail. It would be really cool if you bloggers could follow the link (sorry lurkers)and complete the survey. It would be even cooler if you would copy and paste the link on your blogs.

Go on, make this your good deed for the day.

Dear Blogger,

I am a doctoral student in the psychology department at the University of Texas at Arlington. I am completing my dissertation research on the topic of the personality characteristics of bloggers. One of my goals for this study is to contact actual bloggers and record their self-reported personality traits, and view information posted to their blogs.

I am writing to ask you to take a few minutes to participate in this study. As a participant, you will be asked to follow the link in this e-mail to the Survey Monkey website, where you will complete several personality questionnaires, and provide some information about your typical internet use. At the end of this survey, I will ask you to provide a link to your blog so that I can match the personality data that you provided with information that appears on your blog.

It is important for you to understand that no personal information will be collected in this project. You will not be asked to provide your name, address, e-mail, or any other identifying information. I will ask you to provide the URL to your blog so that I may access it after you complete the survey, and record information from your profile (such as gender, age, and location). I will also download two of your blog entries for further analysis; however, identifying names and information will be redacted. I will not specifically identify any single blogger in the reports of this research. In other words, I intend to talk about bloggers in general, but not any one individual in particular.

If you are interested in participating in this study, please follow the link below to the Survey Monkey website:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/L7M59GV

Thank you very much for your time. If you have friends or colleagues who you believe might be interested in participating in this study, feel free to forward this information on to them. You may also contact me with any questions that you have about this research project.

Best regards,

Monday, September 13, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Catching Up

Sooo....how has Norwich been while I've been away?

By the looks of it, nothing's really changed apart from the seasons. It's definitely autumnal out there. Boy, his mate and I walked into the city centre. There are more shops shut, but lots of people bustling about.

We went in to look at televisions. Ours was a hand-me-down and the time has come to bid it farewell. It's huge and while it was good to have, it's time for a change. We trooped into the electrical store that sorted out my white goods last year before we moved to the Palais. Buying stuff can be such fun. I was expecting to have to fork out a small fortune and was pleasantly suprised once I did some negotiating, how much I saved. The brand spanking new, flat screen, HD ready idiot box will be delivered and installed next Friday. I also negotiated with them to take the old tv and stand away as well. I am very pleased.

I gatecrashed coffee with Alix and her family and Gee's second son. He's off to his second year at uni and was saying goodbye. I then walked back with him to have tea with Gee. She is the sister of my heart. It was fantastic seeing her and her family again.

After the visit to the orthodontist yesterday, I'm back on soft foods. When the Great Ursus and his lovely dropped Boy back from school, Lovely and I went for a walk to do some shopping. I had an urge to make some soup. I went to the butcher and he sorted me out with some chicken bones. I made the stock from scratch and then went on to make a sweet potato soup from intuition, rather than recipe. It wasn't a bad attempt (if I say so myself). It can't have been that bad, because Boy and mate finished off the lot this morning on their return from a sleepover. Tonight it's a lentil, potato soup thang.

Comfort food is a wonderful thing and I'm really enjoying cooking in my own kitchen again. Though, I'm constantly finding Boy used the necessary ingredients and hasn't replaced them. I've been very indulgent and am having Sainsbury's deliver a mahusive shop tomorrow. The idea of pushing a trolley around a supermarket for a couple of hours fills me with dread. Just can't face it. On-line shopping is definitely the way to go.

My body clock is still on Trini time and my sleep patterns are shot. But it's early days and I'm finding great comfort in being home again.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Shaking With Rage

After 27 hours of travelling (it's another story), I've made it back to 2 months worth of post and 2171 e-mails waiting in my primary e-mail address which I've been unable to access whilst I've been away. After a poor night's sleep, a smoke and a cup of coffee I settled down in front of my laptop and ran the gauntlet. All of the posts and comments from my two blogs are directed to my primary e-mail and as a rule I always save them. I'm a hoarder by nature, it runs in the family. As I waded through the mire, mostly Facebook, spam etc, I've come across quite a few e-mails from Anonymous. A couple have been from new readers who haven't plucked up the courage to say hi in their own right and that's fine. When stepping into the blogging world it can be quite scary and I'm cool with that, we all have to start somewhere and I do my best to make everyone welcome. Most have been spam, I can't be arsed to delete them off the old posts, I've got too many to wade. I delete them when I find them. And then I found one which has my blood completely boiling.

One of the issues when blogging, especially when putting personal stuff out into Blogland, is that it's open to interpretation. I don't expect everyone to agree with me or even to like me. I'm big enough and ugly enough to take it on the chin. However, this comment was completely out of order. I believe I know the person who left the comment personally. What pisses me off (amongst the other issues) is that they chose to leave the comment anonymously. If you're going to be personal, own up to it. Say it to my face.

Many thanks to eros who did see it and did reply.

The comment was left on Confirmation. My brother, the vet tested a sputuum sample provided by my father and found small cell lung cancer present.

This is what Anonymous said:

to be fair, you haven't actually had confirmation. no offence to your brother, but he is a vet. if they were as good as regular doctors, why aren't they allowed to treat humans?your dad should speak to his doctor. yes treatment for cancer can be very draining, and can sometimes be worse than the cancer itself, but treatment for other problems can be much less invasive - like the antibiotics he is already taking for example (PLEASE don't tell me your vet brother provided them/wrote the prescription, that is illegal, not to mention potentially very dangerous).get a diagnosis from a proper, qualified doctor, and then (and ONLY then) your father can make an informed decision about any treatment that may be available to him.scarred lungs can be caused by infections or injuries/disease other than cancer, so do not presume the worst until you have no choice. after all, aren't we always told that positive thinking is instrumental when dealing with ill health?
17 July 2010 00:09

I am incadescent, but will try to take this in a logical fashion. Forgive me dear readers if I go straight into rant.

Firstly, after my father endured the trip to the medical centre to have the x-rays done, there were three doctors present: my father's lung specialist, my father's GP and my brother. My father's lung specialist had the x-ray from 2 years ago to compare. There was a mass, pretty much encompassing his left lung. The way the mass presented, my father's lung specialist was 99.9% certain it was lung cancer.

For the 100% confirmation, my father would have needed to have undergone an MRI and a lung biopsy.
My father found the whole experience exceptionally distressing and chose to stick with the 99.9% diagnosis. In days before MRIs, it would have been sufficient. A biopsy would have been painful and distressing for my father and also risky. Quite frankly, given my father's fragility it could have killed him off there and then. My father, on the basis of that consultation with his lung specialist and GP decided he would not undergo the trauma as HE didn't want to undergo either chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Surgery, given his poor lung function would not have been an option. Of the people with the diagnosis that he had, 75% die within a year of diagnosis. It is an exceptionally aggressive cancer and highly resistant to treatment.

My father felt that treatment would not buy him any more time or any quality of life. He felt at 73, he'd lived his life. He wanted to die at home, in the environment he felt safe, with the people he loved and who loved him around.

My brother, the vet has a state of the art practice. He remains at the cutting edge of medical technology, his is the practice other vets send their patients to when they want intricate blood tests, ultrasound and x-rays.

Eros is right, it is easier to become a human doctor than it is a vet. Quite frankly, I would rather see my Cat's vet than I would my own GP over here. GPs over here aren't interested in their patients, they just want to keep to time, keep the numbers up and hit the stats laid out by the government.

My brother's training enabled him to work with the specialitists and my father's GP. He understood what they were saying and when my father struggled, he was on the phone to them, able to accurately describe the symptoms, to be able to follow their advice to the letter. He absolutely did not write out prescriptions for my father.

When my father was fading fast, he begged my brother again, to let him stay home. He did not want to die in hospital, subject to a medical system's regime. He didn't even want nursing care. He wasn't in pain, he just couldn't breathe. He was on oxygen constantly in the last 10 days of his life. Oxygen, that my brother was able to source and hook up, because of his training and his practice.

Anonymous, and I believe I know who you are, you should have said this to my face. I don't know who you think you are to question my father's care; or who you think I am that I would let this slide. You are very much mistaken.

If you think we should have packed him off to a hospital to be prodded and poked and put through a whole lot of stress and pain which would not have made a difference to the outcome, against his wishes, well that's up to you.

My brother and I respected my father's wishes: to die in comfort, at home, with us.

An apology wouldn't go amiss. Let's see if you've got stones enough for that, shall we?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

So Long, Farewell...

The time has come. No I'm not packed. I've got half my suitcase filled and another three quarters waiting to go in. I hate packing. So, I procrastinate. That, I do exceptionally well.

The last few days I've been saying goodbye.

I spent the weekend with my aunt and cousin. My cousin took me Down de Islands for a last trip and we had an absolute ball. We rang his partner-in-crime as we were heading down the road, he dropped everything, grabbed his stuff and came to join us. We all piled into my cousin's boat, went Down de Islands, picked up partner-in-crime's daughter and fiance and headed out to fish. Once again I was reminded it's called 'fishing' not 'catching'. Even though we only had one bite and didn't manage to land the fish, we had a fantastic time. Yes, there are pictures. When I get home I'll put them up.

Sunday, I spent with my aunt. She gave me back a piece of my childhood, when I would go and spend the afternoon with her, we talked and talked. Saying goodbye was so hard. I really, really did not want to leave them. My cousin has been such a support to me. He doesn't do emotional intelligence, he does that big, gruff, manly thing. But it was just what I needed. I could be exactly how I was and that was all that was necessary. He took me out and about. We teased each other, nagged each other and got very, very drunk together. I will never forget him standing behind my father's coffin, sweating in the heavy wool suit, trying not cry.

Today, my brother and SIL headed off to work. They can't make it to the airport. That was hard. I'm going to miss them so much. I'm going to miss Trinidad so much. But I miss my Boy, the Cat, my friends and Norwich dreadfully. I know it will be good to be home.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Day at the Races

The Grim Times led to my father's death and funeral and all of the chaos and confusion that surrounds these events. I did try to hop on a plane to get back to the UK a week earlier, but British Airways and I have a difference of opinion about the definition of 'amendable'. The travel agent and I will be having words upon my return.

In the meantime, I have been trying not to mope. My cousin to the rescue. He's just been fantastic. He's the one who has the boat and took me down the islands, where I ended up camping on a dock for the night. I will just say he's been very bad for my liver and lungs, but very, very good for my heart. While he's not on the oil rigs, he stays with his mother (my aunt) here in Trinidad. Basically, my cousin has been picking me up, taking me out, getting me (very) drunk and then I've crashed in his mother's spare room.

On Tuesday, Trinidad celebrated it's Independence Day. He decided he would by hook or crook, get us into the VIP stand at the Arima Racecourse, to watch the day's races. He told me I had to be smartly dressed: no jeans, t-shirts or flip flops. What a drag. So I dressed to impress. We had a blast.

We rocked up in time for the 3rd race. The stand was boiling hot, boy was I glad I wore a skimpy dress, any more cloth on my skin, I'd have melted. The balcony of the stand over-looked where the horses were walked before the race, and where they got the colours and jockeys. We tried to assess the horseflesh, look in the racing catalogue for the stats, the names and make our choices. I would go and place the bets and then, we'd make our way to the other side so we could watch the race. My cousin said he brought lots of cash with us, but in the end we bet $105.00 in total. We finished the day with $120.00, not bad for a couple of novices. It was fun. We ate, we drank, we smoked, we were merry.

One of my cousin's horses decided it didn't like the jockey and left him staring at the sky at the starting gates. Another spooked itself when the gate opened and threw a right girly strop, good thing neither of us parted with good cash for that one. The point is: my friend Gee used to work in a betting shop. She horrified me at the stories of men coming in with the Title Deeds to their houses. That's a mindset, I just don't get. To risk a huge amount of money, to risk your house on a four-legged temperamental creature, that might just be having a shitty day, I don't understand it. Actually, I don't want to understand it. I can cope with hard drinkin' and smokin' kind of men, but a man who could one day come home and say 'honey, pack up. We have to be out of here before 9 am tomorrow morning'. Nah. That's just a whole new level, I couldn't deal with.

I can't believe in a week's time I'll be back in the UK. The time here has gone so quickly. I'm going to miss my Trinidad adventures. Hopefully, there will be a few more before I leave next week.