Monday, 31 December 2012

Auld Lang Syne (cover by Danielle Ate the Sandwich)



When I first came to Scotland over forty years ago there was little fuss made over christmas here and people were back to work almost straight away afterwards and back to normal unlike in England where more fuss was made and the day after was always a holiday too.

In England little fuss was made of new year’s eve whilst up here everything usually stopped to allow parties to go on for days and hangovers to be recovered from before restarting trains and everything else on the 4th. It was not unusual for people to be invited into homes for a drink after midnight on new year’s eve especially if they were carrying a gift or a bottle of strong drink… Getting your first foot, first visitor of the year was important. 

One year I was escorting an Australian teacher who had just arrived for a years exchange with a cousin and it was only right to invite her to a new years eve dinner party to welcome her to Scotland. In the early hours of the morning I had to show her where she lived! On the way I decided to demonstrate the new year’s eve openness and got us invited into a house where we were still drinking fizzy wine hours later!! 

These days it is much quieter, houses stay dark and fewer are about and those who are seem to prefer to go to larger events like that in Edinburgh with bands and fireworks laid on by the city at great expense.

Now both countries seem to have been infected by each other’s festivities and many now have holidays from christmas eve until early in the new year and if they are lucky they spend it far away where it is warm and sunny…

Since the 20th we have been visiting friends far and wide or going to parties, quiet affairs due to our age, and it continues with a lunch party tomorrow then we shall see what happens. Soon all will be quiet again and we shall have our heads down waiting for signs of spring but knowing that just because the days are getting longer the coldest weather is still probably yet to come…

Happy New Year to you all.

.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Nuts...





For many years I have been collecting up to a couple of buckets full of walnuts which dropped from a tree at the end of the street. Most passers by and the teachers who use it as a handy parking spot just crushed them into the ground so I had to be watchful of the weather for a wind which would blow them away from the garden where the tree grew, the tenants of the cottage never even bothered with those which fell into the garden! They were so fresh and juicy compared to anything which you can buy but they are no more. The cottage which had been owned by the same person without any renovations for nearly eighty years has finally been sold and the first thing the new owners did was make a foul mess of the trees buy simply hacking off all branches which could have hung over the street. 

So now we have butchered trees to look at and I have had to buy nuts at horrendous prices, how else can I lay down a little protective fat layer?

Today I just wanted to close my eyes and hibernate! The wind is so strong that rain has been thrashing against the windows all day and gloomy was as bright as it got… Perhaps we have just been too lucky with a fairly dry period and clear nights with bright moons lighting up the world hardly any less bright than we have had today. After a long spell of clear starry nights it finally clouded over in time to block out any chance of seeing the recent meteor showers, seems an age since I have seen them in any number.

Early in the week I went to bed only to find that I felt more awake than I usually do during the daytime! This happens on and off, these days usually months between events. Usually it is just for a night or two though once thirty years ago it lasted over a week with only an hour nap each day. For several years as I made my slow transition I would come here to tap on the keys, skipping from one link to the other until tiredness came so it was often three, four or five in the morning before I forced myself to try sleep. The only sure fire way I know how to get to sleep is to drink a cup of strong coffee and try to watch a documentary about something which interests me, deep sleep before I know it! Lying in bed to this day I have no idea how to induce sleep, it just happens mid thought if I am lucky.

If I am unlucky the invisible switch is illusive and the mind is free to race. For an age thoughts of hopelessness and helplessness were endless holding most positive thoughts at bay. It was like the constant loud noise on the streets of a busy city when you cannot converse with someone walking along side. On the night in question I lay there for a while waiting for unconsciousness and apart from the tinnitus there was utter silence. There were no pressing problems to think about and all the transitional nonsense and associated depressions are distant memories. After a while I just had to get up and wander about the cooling house. I worked on the dripping cistern, flimsy plastic bits are failing after about seven years whilst the WC at the back door still works fine with hardly any effort applied to the chain pull and it is nearly one hundred and twenty years old! Then I came here to check on emails and blogs. There is less and less activity on those as the months and years pass and my urge to read up every tempting link is gone. I was even reduced to clicking on my own photographs for a while before abandoning this screen for that of my Kindle.

When the clock struck five I gave in and resorted twosome herbal sleep inducing pills. The chemical pills had such a list of scary possible side effects I stopped keeping them in the cabinet...

Perhaps I should have been tapping out this post then but when the head is so calm and empty the urge is just not there. I would never have imagined during all those decades of torment that one day I would ever feel so content...

.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Yule be happy to know that my toes are fine...



Smart seafront restaurant  with Sophie.

I ended up helping my friend Adrienne for a couple more days after the last post, various other folk came and went. A few guys were necessary for brute force whilst we kept things organised and tidy and prodded them with encouragement and suggestions. Nobody really noticed that there was frost on the ground since we all worked so hard, the coffee and Panettone helped. Final loading of the huge flat bed truck was delayed when it broke a brake line on the way to us so I donned a reflective jacket and headed to where the farm road joined the main road to be a human signpost, just as well since the sun dropped quickly and he arrived with just enough light to get organised with his parking. Fork lift trucks were borrowed from the farm for the loading and the frosted ground came in very handy. The guys praised me for being a “magic wifey” which I take as a complement and Adrienne was thankful for my calming influence especially as all the ill assorted pallets were being loaded and she had to loose control to guys with big machines doing what guys with big machines do while we concentrated on packing her large van solid. It was late into the evening before all was loaded, folk were on their way and we could finally lock up.

My heart was heavy as I waved Adrienne off. She is a new grandmother now and her daughter lives not too far away so she will be back but our playing together days are probably over...

After four attempts to keep an appointment my local health centre finally got both a doctor, who likes to see a little of his patients blood, and a nurse together at the same time and off came both of my big toenails. Shame that after all the failed appointments at the centre which I can see from my bedroom window I have had to attend the centre in the next village for the minor op and subsequent dressings using up valuable favours for lifts in doing so! They are now a seasonal juicy red with only the left throbbing slightly. Poor guy found one of them a bit tougher than usual to get off, it being so strong and horny! I just hope that the phenol killed off the nail bed this time… Now al who follow the story of my toenails with close interest are right up to date.

My poor toes...

With the toes in the air we invited a friend, whose wife was on a business trip and dog away being spayed, to spend a couple of nights so long as he brought a bag of films on DVD. Perhaps not quite as quiet a time as I should have spent and we did over feed him!

We have a bundle of Yule cards, thanks DRU, but each will probably need a letter to go with it so that should keep us busy for a few days. The postal service has been determined to reduce the numbers of items in the yule post without affecting their profits by raising the stamp prices by many times inflation. The best investment anyone could make this year in the UK was to buy pre increase stamps marked “first” or “second” class since they would be useable after the price increase. Just proves that going to school was a complete waste of time since even the statement that the only thing which you could not take advantage of by buying up just before a price rise was a postage stamp and now you can! Always on the lookout for a saving I bought about enough for this year’s Yule post but next year it will be nearly all Yule emails…

Finally for the “ you have got to laugh” section, my niece was showing her father snaps from her recent Scottish holiday which ended up with a few days with us and he asked who a certain person in the photographs was. Well I thought it was funny!

Nearly sunset from the restaurant, St Andrews.

.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Best laid plans...




I knew exactly what I should be doing right now. My large toenails have been due to be removed for a while now and the appointments manager had assured me that the 28th. of November was the last time it would be rescheduled for but with a few hours to go…! I should be resting up reading books, catching up on TV recordings made for such an eventuality and perhaps musing on my ten months post op and tapping out my thoughts here but… My hair appointment carefully booked well in advance has had to be cancelled and as I expected the place is booked up until christmas so I am going for a slightly longer look! If the next toe appointment fails it will have to be in the new year since it will not heal in time for the battle with the christmas crowds. We are told constantly that we are in a recession but there is still something of a mad frenzy in the air and all we want to do is carry on much as normal.

For nearly a week my French niece and her boyfriend were here at the end of their three week Scottish tour. They live in heat, he does projects which take him to Africa for weeks on end so they found it quite enjoyable in Scotland where you can get every season in one day or even during a couple of hours as they found! Sophie had found an old B & W super 8 movie of her mother at her age cavorting in our bath during a visit with the guy who is Sophie’s father, when she saw how I had filled it with flowers for her she was delighted and was determined to recreate the scene… Not sure that we shall be seeing the results...

I have spent the last few days out in the freezing cold helping my friend Adrienne close down and pack up her glass making studio which is in a picturesque cottage ornĂ© which was an old farm dairy. As cute as you could imagine with curved ends and a five foot shaded veranda all around to keep off the sun all supported with rustic rough trees which was all the rage then. She has been there for fifteen years and we have had fun together photographing her work and became good friends. Sadly she has decided to move back to Ireland where she was able to afford a home in the country with a barn which she will need to store all the stuff she has collected over the years. Yesterday was amusing because there were three of us there most of the day with a skip to fill and you would be hard pushed to find three people more likely to be found taking stuff out of skips! Jim, a bodger, who was helping even proudly showed us his custom steps which are designed specifically for skip access and never leave his van. I was strong willed and only “saved” one heavy piece of cast iron, rusty but a thing of beauty in the eye of this beholder. I am a recovering skip diver but Jim has it bad, I just got pleasure by finding all the things I worked out he would be interested in just to see his eyes light up.



Much of the time I spent easing glass creations off the windows. Over the years they had collected and whilst many had been put up for easy sale during studio open days many had been fixed for all time! She knows my cunning and obstinacy when faced with problems like this but thought that she would have to abandon hundreds of pounds worth of pieces. After a couple of hours work encouraged with a toasted cheese sandwich not one item remained though the studio had lost it’s soul…



So her I am almost ten months to the day since I was reborn. All healed up but with one suture line slightly raised, better than I had hoped for since I don’t heal up easily! There are still breast growing sensations and tenderness so perhaps there is more to come, they certainly are getting past the pert teenager look. I have never been keen on large breasts generally so I think that I shall be more than content with what I grow myself whilst a while back I have to admit to wavering about wether I would get enough to satisfy though I have no idea how I would find the relatively large fee for a little enhancement. Guess we are all different in what will make us happy but don’t give up too soon on what will come naturally.

Day to day I am just me, just getting on with my quiet life as the me I should always have been. No drama, no hassles. Sometimes misgendered on the phone but more often even friends think they are speaking to Julie when I answer. In a way it is handy if cold sales calls get through and they make the mistake, I can pretend to take offense and tell them that the call is at an end!

It is almost four years since my first post. How could I have imagined how I would feel four years on? I still lay awake at night, head spinning with what ifs and wondering if it might just be better to apply one of several well thought out plans to end it all and vanish from this world. I would be up on the net sometimes ‘til the sun came up searching out others round the world working through the same anxieties, collecting countless pieces of the jigsaw and trying to make sense of it all and how I could fit in.

During those four years it has been like riding a roller coaster during an earthquake at times. Moments a pure joy as someone you have encountered makes real progress or just finds happiness and leaves. Others who like I once was find themselves trapped part way or standing on the edge of the maelstrom wondering if it is worth the risk of jumping in, those stories bring on a tightening in the chest and a feeling of great sadness but not as great as that for those souls who have died along the way. A number of those I have been in contact with directly are gone all through natural causes, many friends of friends have died and a few by their own hand. On the whole suffering from random brutality and suicide has been a lot lower than the bare statistics would suggest, this could be an age related factor since many of us are past the first flush of youth and not out clubbing late at night or living amongst a hostile population, something to be thankful for…

Every day logged on you never knew what cocktail of emotions you would be put through but without the online presence of others and their highs and lows this journey would be a much harder one than it has been.

It reminds me of the time caught in a sudden rip tide and nearly drowning and without the will to look away from the safety of the beach and concentrate on one job at a time, get to the surface, float, get energy for next attempt for the shore… It seemed impossible, easy to just give up but I made it through and glad that I did. Still don’t know how but I did, both at sea and here on land…

This blog is my “social media” and I shall be around, though with less and less transitional material I suspect, to see what happens to all those friends and followers I have met along the way who still wish to post and comment.