Wednesday 30 July 2008

Feeling well and song lists

We went off shopping, and I am still feeling well. We had a second breakfast out as a treat before coming home. I spoke to Pete and Toby who is still feeling the effects of jet lag.

I did some gardening, and Mas did a few house chores. The weather is still very hot, and we sat in the garden for a while. Later we watched The Bill, and Ghost whisperer.

When I went to bed I felt compelled to list all the songs I like best in order of preference, which is odd as generally songs are not my favourite kind of music, after what seemed like ages I came up with this list, but not especially in any choice order:

Ghost Riders in the Sky, by Frankie Laine
Besome Mucho, sung by a man
Moonlight in Vermont
Canadian Sunset
La Vie en Rose
Windmills of your Mind, by Noel Harrison
Wild is the Wind, by Nina Simone
Ne me Quitte pas
When I am laid in Earth.............

I gave up at this point, not being able to think of any more, but realising that I prefer sad songs which is odd as I really like funny films. Then I had to stop myself making a film list, and eventually went to sleep!

Tuesday 29 July 2008

Toby arrives and more treatment in hospital for me

Toby is due to arrive at Gatwick at 9.30 this morning from Toronto, while I am seeing the doctor in the hospital. It was decided that I should have a 20% reduction in the strength of the chemotherapy that I have to take. I went upstairs, feeling like a lamb going to the slaughter, but luckily things went smoothly and I left feeling less shaky than the last time after the session. Mas picked me up from the hospital, luckily without parking, and being fined as we were last time.
The weather had turned very hot. I spoke to Pete and Toby who had arrived without incident and avoided the predicted thunderstorms on the way. Later Mas and I watched Pie in the Sky and a Frasier before going off to bed

Monday 28 July 2008

not living in 'interesting times'

On Saturday and Sunday I pottered about generally feeling well, got out our juicer and decided to do apple and carrot juice, and made some soup, and we did a bit of gardening and catching up with friends and family. The weather was very hot and humid, but we sat in the garden in the evenings which was pleasant.
On Monday I went down to Edgware and topped up my mobile phone, and got a bit of shopping, and later wrote some letters. Mas still has a bad back, but I was unable to make an appointment with the doctor as the phones were constantly engaged....not a very good service! Despite his back hurting so much Mas spent time clearing up our garden shed which had become so untidy it was hard to find anything.
All rather unexciting things, but it was a relief to be feeling so much better again, and cheered Mas up quite a bit.

Friday 25 July 2008

surprise orchids and neighbour's garden

I am feeling much better than I have for a long time, and for the first time coffee tasted like coffee again, and it felt good to be alive.

We spent some time in the garden as everything seems to be growing really fast. Later found I had a long and happy email from Jana, which made me glad too.

Our neighbour invited me to his garden to look at what he has been doing with it over the last two weeks.

Wednesday 23 July 2008

Colony Collapse Disorder in honey bees

I used to be a beekeeper many years ago and have always been interested in bees. Apparently the bee world is in crisis, and they are dying out worldwide; China, Argentina, Europe and America. France has lost ⅔ of it's agricultural bees, and the USA ⅓.

The name given to this is Colony Collapse Disorder and the cause is at present unknown, and there is no cure. It is speculated that there may be a variety of reasons for this such as :
1. A parasitic mite called Varroa which has become resistant to the chemicals formerly used to kill them. The mite also carries viruses which are constantly mutating, and they infect the bees.
2. Crop spraying
3.The practice of moving bees hundreds of miles to pollinate specific crops. The physical process of being moved is very stressful to bees, and it is thought possible that they are becoming undernourished as they are feeding on specific crops rather than being free to chose their own wide variety of food, so their diets may have become deficient.

Should the decline continue at its present rate it is estimated that all agricultural bees will be dead in about seven years. Although bumble bees and others are helpful in pollination, because of present farming techniques the are also in decline. It is reported that Einstein said if there were no honey bees the world would survive for about four years.

When I had bees of my own I joined a bee club, at first there were only six of us, but the numbers quickly increased. Pete and Toby would sometimes come to the informal meetings where honey cakes were served with tea, and sometimes mead. Members became very passionate about their bees; one time we met at the vicar's house and two of them were arguing about the best time to move bees from one place to another, and then began punching each other in the vicarage garden, egged on by their laughing wives, until the vicar separated them!

The local council had my phone number to call if there was a bee emergency, such as a swarm, which I would go off and collect. It was a valuable prize at the beginning of the season, either to sell or keep for honey production. It occurred to me that it would be a good idea if Pete, suitably kitted up, would collect swarms as a way of making some extra cash. One hot summer Sunday I got a call, and took Pete to watch how it was done.

It was a humiliating day, and despite the heat I was glad I was in disguise in my bee suit. The swarm was in a quiet West Hampstead cul-de -sac. All the neighbours got deck chairs out into the street to watch the fun, while they were drinking lemonade. One of these people happened to be a rather handsome and popular TV actor.

I could not catch these bees, and they kept decamping and moving to yet another garden. I spent all afternoon trying to get them, and once everyone had drifted off I at last got the queen and a few others, and had to set the box up so that the rest of the swarm would eventually follow the queen, and all go into the collecting box as it got dark. Pete took a dim view of the whole proceedings, and my idea was quietly dropped.

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Pete's visit to home and hospital followed by pizza pie

On Monday I did a few essential things, and made some phone calls. I am glad as I am feeling better today. In the afternoon Pete arrived, and we had a nice time talking all afternoon and evening, and Mas made one of his tasty tamale pies.

Pete and I managed to get to the Royal Free at the right time in the morning. I did the blood test and them saw my doctor who, in view of the strong reaction I had had to the chemo, decided that I should have another week to recover before doing another course. The nurses and doctors in the outpatients are so pleasant, and there is such a good atmosphere there that it takes the sting out of the whole procedure. I had mentioned to Pete that I would really like to eat a pizza, and before long we were both looking forward to one.

We left the hospital, Pete much relieved that I had not been railroaded into taking more chemo before I was better. We ate tasty pizzas in the conservatory in Ask at Belsize Park, and then we went our separate ways home. When I got home Mas was happy that I had another week to recover. He is having a horrible time as he has backache, and a pain in his foot that seems to travel up the sciatic nerve and is finding it difficult to get out of chairs and change position. He has not the 'time' to go to the doctors to get it sorted out despite anything I say to him.

Florence called me, and we talked for about an hour, and were laughing about times we used to work together. Mas and I watched Pie in the Sky, and went to bed rather early

Saturday 19 July 2008

Mas and the Mouse

Today we ventured out and went to the pub for lunch, I was surprised how tottery I felt walking down the road, but felt better after a meal. I was pleased because the range of what I can bring myself to eat is gradually expanding. We got a small amount of shopping, but when we got back I had to rest, the pills I am taking actually make it quite hard to hold my eyes open most of the time, and my eyesight seems to be slightly out of focus.

I spoke to Pete on the phone, and managed to email Ruth before we watched The Bill on TV, and I went off to bed again.

On Sunday I felt a bit better, and actually managed to do some gardening. The field mouse is now living in our garden shed, and has eaten a hole in the bird food container; sometimes we see him in there as well. Mas was a bit concerned that there would soon be lots of them in there, and decided to tidy up the shed and give the mouse his marching orders. After this talk I was surprised and amused that Mas had instead put a dish of food for the mouse, and a container of water beside it!

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Pete left, friends, family and other animals communicate.

Feeling slightly better today. Pete nervously left after breakfast, worried he may have bought a cold into the house hold, but luckily he did not get one after all which he mentioned when he called later. Diane called, and I explained what had been going on as we had missed a get together while I had been in hospital again. She was rather shocked to hear what a time it has been, and offered any kind of help that Mas or I might need, even just to talk, which was very touching.

Toby phoned too, and said he would be over at the end of next week, and would stay at Pete's so as not to add to the confusion, bur would be available whenever needed, and just to visit too. They had a really nice holiday in Argentina.

Later while resting I noticed we have a blackbird who does his usual song, but finishes his phrases with a loud cat's miaow. Thank goodness he isn't doing a car alarm which some of them do!

Tuesday 15 July 2008

sickness and confusion

I became increasingly nauseous, and to add to the aggravation I put my back out, and could not stand upright, so took the correct pills and stayed in bed until the muscles stopped spasming and I could move again. My friend Pat was going to visit, but we had to put her off until I was a bit better.

Pete came up, and gave a hand with all the housework. He was so worried about me that when he left I phoned the hospital, and they admitted me again. It seems I was dehydrated and had lost all kinds of vital salts from my blood. They ran all kinds of tests to make sure I had not picked up an infection, and replaced all the things my blood was missing by drip. I felt as if I was tethered to the wall like a goat on a chain, and was relieved after four days when I was disconnected from the drip machine.

It seems it was the chemotherapy causing all the problems. I was given a huge supply of pills to take home to also keep hydrated and replace salts and vitamins also I was advised to drink Coca Cola as it has so much sugar in it that it helps in water absorption .

I came home on Tuesday the 15th. Mas had been visiting me every day, spending £6.00 a day on the parking fees, and on the last day also paid the fees and a fine of £60.00 for not parking in exactly the right spot because there were no spaces left!

Pete visited again, and he and Mas were relieved to see me looking better again, and Pete wrote up a schedule of which pills had to be taken and when as it was all very confusing. Later we had a nice relaxed evening with me going off early to bed as it is hard to keep awake with these pills I have to take.

Monday 7 July 2008

More medications and Mex visiting for the afternoon

On Monday the 7th of July I went off to the hospital to collect some different medications as I had been feeling increasingly nauseous.

In the afternoon Mex came round as planned, and we had a really nice time catching up on all the news and talking. Mex bought me some beautiful red flowers and a turquoise , blue and lime green glass dish that picks up the exact green of the Maidenhair Fern and Hibiscus plants in the sitting room. Mas made a light lunch, and we were having such a nice time, and looking at pictures of the elderly character cat that she has recently inherited and were surprised to see how the time had sped by and Mex inadvertently missed a meeting she was going to.

Bollie the cat

Friday 4 July 2008

Laughter, landscaping and escaping

Independence day for Mas! I bussed off again for an hour to get a few things from the shops, leaving him to answer all his emails. On returning I saw Maheena as I was walking to the house; we stopped and talked for a while, then Glen ran out to talk to us as well. We had a few minutes where we were laughing at everything we were talking about.

When I left them, my next door neighbour invited me into his garden to look at all the gnomes, and the landscape he is giving them. He certainly has been working hard, and the sunburn on his buns proves it. He is very happy with the garden which will take another week to finish.

Florence phoned, returning my call. It was nice to hear from her and catch up on all the news. She was rather shocked at mine, which was what I had tried to avoid. Later I went into the shed to get some more bird food to put in the feeder, only to find the little field mouse having dinner on some of the spilled grains, he ran over my hand to escape.

In the evening we watched some Frasiers, and a Frost before going to bed.

Thursday 3 July 2008

Minor irritations and good friends

Yesterday it was a little cooler and I managed to do lots of irritating things that had to be done, including complaining about household bills that were incorrect, and taking steps to block nuisance phone calls which will take a month to take effect. It is amazing how much time simple things take to organise. Later I went off to Edgware, by bus, as my feet have become rather painful and red due to the pills I am taking. Later Diane called while I was resting, and she arranged to come over next week which will be nice, we have not had a 'get together' for a long time.

Today Mas and I got some shopping in Stanmore and looked in at the pub there. There is a new manager now and it was immediately apparent! We decided to have lunch before going home again, and relaxed for a while.

I spoke to Pat who I have not seen for ages. It is a shame how easy it is to get taken up with the routine of daily life, not making enough time for friendship. Next year I will try to make up for this waste of time.

Tuesday 1 July 2008

Birds watching on a hot day

We spent the day at home today, Mas doing some essential kitchen cupboard door repairs, and I pottered about in the garden doing battle with some Virginia Creeper which has rampaged over everything. It was the hottest day of the year today, and we spent time sitting in the garden in the shade with cool drinks. In the evening we watched some essential Pie in the Sky.

This is a special unicorn bird as it has a little horn on its' head.

This young bird kept watching me despite the noise I was making watering the plants.