Wednesday, 31 March 2010


It is a long time since I have had a spooky premonition but last night the wind was worrying me and felt sure that some tree was going to come down in the garden, I could hardly sleep for these thoughts racing through my head. Trees do not fall in the garden and the wind was nothing like what we often get so what was this nonsense all about, I slept fitfully then when the wind dropped at about 6 am I fell into a deep sleep only to find myself having what seemed to be a nightmare as Julie chatted just out of hearing on the phone, long before any hoped for waking time.

Soon it became obvious that this was a real nightmare and my favourite tree, a laburnum soon to have formed a cloud of yellow in the sky had been blown towards our neighbours house and he was none too pleased. After only three or four hours sleep I was in no fit state to do much about this but...

The whole country is in chaos once more, we are lucky to be one of the places not deep in snow once more. Help from insurance company? get your own tree surgeon and send us the paid invoice for reimbursement but they are all out working on trees.

Garden clothes feel a bit like drag even though they are my wife's cast offs but needs must. I started at eight something, too sleepy to notice exactly, and started to trim off the lighter branches which were still catching what breeze was left. Luckily the tree had hardly touched the house but landed on the garage roof after bringing down a large chunk of stone wall which probably softened the blow. It was eleven thirty before I was ordered in to get some breakfast!

Ten minutes later I am back out cursing my one broken nail and the ruination of a beautiful set of gold nails now chipped beyond redemption but the tree was nearly stable since there was no word back from all the woodworkers contacted. this was also the day my friend with a chainsaw was found to be away and another who would have helped for some cash in hand was getting his heart checked out in the hospital and I discovered that you can no longed rent a chainsaw because of elf and safety regulations! Laburnum I know from having had to remove this tree's mate many years ago is as tough as iron but I set too with a bow saw on the thicker sections till I had the over one foot diameter tree solid and resting on solid prop supports. I stopped when the saw and my arms would no longer work and went in for a well earned lunch brake just as the phone rang with someone saying they could come and assess the situation in ten to fifteen minutes, saved!

Once he knew the insurance was paying he cheered up and I think the price went up too. He did not seem too put off by the evident danger once the first cut was made releasing it's rest on the garage wall, he was more concerned by the wear on his chains this brute of a tree was going to cause. He said he too needed some lunch and more tools and would be back within the hour and true to his word there he was with a sweet petite woman as helper. In two hours he had earned his small fortune, I had a pile of logs for my friends woodburner and he had three blunt chains!

know this looks like I am just trying to keep up with Melissa but I am not! I could have done without this today and every muscle seems to ache. Our bath hardly ever gets used since we got a shower. for me it is just too short for comfort but today I plugged in the ipod and had a long soak with relaxing bath salts, may not have done if I had realised how difficult getting out is when the muscles are in this state.

A few tons of stone is now piled next to the logs at the side of the drive and someone is to come on tuesday to let us know what can be done. I don't much care so long as the neighbour is happy with what is suggested, I am going to plant a holly hedge to regain my privacy and they never seem to fall over.

How I feel right now.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Le Radeau de la M├ęduse

Sometimes it feels like our small band are just survivors on the Raft of the Medusa.

We cling on for dear life and hope that we shall survive the ordeal and be able to end our days in peace, happy with our lot in life. Some of our fellow survivors see a chance and take a boat and cut free others are swept overboard never to be seen again or perhaps they swim for it and find safety on their own.

The trans world is perhaps not quite as precarious as life on that famous raft but when the small band of survivors looses one of our stronger supportive members who feels they have gained enough strength to make it alone many of those remaining cannot help but feel a great loss.

Today Lori surprised us and left. Her leaving will leave a much bigger hole in many people’s lives than she can possibly imagine. I can only wish her and her family the best for her new life, the life which we all dream of.



Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Not many photos recently since our snap machine went into death throes. Taking advantage of the two months of no local tax and the absurdly fast turn over of new models to buy one no longer made at greatly reduced price on the interwebnet. Little did I know that it would have to come all the way from LA! Once the order was processed, one week! the box was in the air and by the wonder interwebnet shopping you could follow it's journey right up to the point where I was woken by the delivery! Nobody delivers that early, must have thrown it out of the plane as it flew overhead to the local office, impressed.

Now just have to figure out how to go it, 158 pages in the book but at least I get a book! I knew I had a memory chip which did not work on the old machine, amazing ow much you can get on one wee chip, if you can find it. Ten minutes was impressive since I expected to give up and only find it when I had bought a new one.

Charged up the battery, poked in the chip, slid across item number 24! to switch it on, waved it around the room then pressed number 23! the shutter release and got a snap. Didn't even have to format the card. Took a second pic of the pattern of my skirt and lo and behold it gets sucked into the Mac without going near the disc they sent. Perhaps I am just being stubborn making old fashioned prints slowly in the darkroom, this is so easy. Now wondering what gems of wisdom are buried in the instruction book that I need to know. Not my best snaps ever but a glimpse of what is hanging on the wall and from my waist. I see from the numbering that they expect me to take ten million less one with this camera, what confidence.

Friday, 19 March 2010

New life.

No I did not rush straight to the chemist first thing this morning since I had an appointment to remove a nasty lump off my knee at the local health centre in the next town. Catching up on fixing all the irritating flaws now that life seems worth living! A breeze after the first injection but we were all surprised by the size of the lump which came out! Like an iceberg so much was hidden, no wonder it was such a nuisance. The Doc was surprised at how little bleeding there was, so was I since I just hate to clot. This seemed a bonus so I drove away happy and with plenty of time before my next appointment 15 miles away so I decided to pick up my patches. The odd sensations on my leg I put down to the numbing injections but when I looked my clean pale linen slacks were turning a strange browny red! High tailed it home and headed to the bathroom to investigate and sure enough the dressing was soaked in blood and the lower leg was covered in the same. I quickly decided what needed to be done and it was not fix the leg! Heck I have waited nearly forty years for the hormones and I don’t see the point of waiting any longer. The read me sheet is the size of a newspaper so I gave that to my wife to read and slapped the first sticky patch on my hip. For the record the new phase of life started at 10:17 GMT on 19th March 2010. Blood is what girls are better at and I am now officially slightly closer to that designation and therefore better qualified to fix the leak which I did quite quickly since I had to go off to be shown how to breathe, more about this another day.

No doubt this will take a while to start showing signs of working, I will not miss the hot flushes once they stop, if you have anyone suffering these, give them sympathy, they are sometimes interesting but can stop you in your tracks in an instant or leave you sleeping in a warm puddle! Not everyone takes to the hormones, I certainly hope I do not have that problem having waited so long and knowing what awaits me if I ever have to stop.

As if to celebrate with me the first rhododendron decided to burst into flower today and so many of the other shrubs have buds glinting with signs of new life after this harsh winter.

Lots of new life starting...

Thursday, 18 March 2010

A grand day out.

Yesterday I got sired a couple of times by the same person in the most emphatic way.

We had a cultural day out in the big city and took a friend with us. It was a bit like a military campaign with four venues three people and conflicting interests. As driver and the one who knows their way around the city of Edinburgh quite well I provided a drop-off and pickup service to separate and coagulate us throughout the day. We all got together for a show of photographs from the early days of Antarctic exploration, fabulous old prints from the Queen's collection in a really beautiful exhibition space at Holyrood Palace. If this was the general standard of exhibitions life would be greatly enhanced, 10 out of 10 for this show. The after a convoluted zigzag in three dimensions through the old town and just about everywhere else we finally got Julie off at the Royal Scottish Academy, a show I would normally have gone to see since I used to be a vice president of one of these societies but today it was my job to stick with M and visit and other photographic show.

As soon as we arrived at the next gallery we headed to the cafe and a quick lunch. It was during this time that M suffered what looked like a mini stroke but soon recovered and carried on as though nothing had happened though looked a little agitated for a while. M is one of the few people who knew me before the facial hair started to arrive in my early 20s, we met at some photographic function in the city when I was about 19 and a student at the University and he had just returned from a year's study at a photographic college in California at the tail end of the 1960s. He had noticed me before because he worked in the audiovisual department in the photographic shop where I had become friends with the owner and without anybody ever actually making an agreement acquired an infinite line of credit, the guy knew that I had always paid him first when I got each terms lump of cash then I paid my rent and starved if necessary afterwards! If anything M was more hippyish than me with his bead necklaces and bracelets and delicate shoulder bags, we got together immediately at the photographic event because we were so much younger than nearly everyone else and left together to walk home chatting. Everytime I said well I have to go this way he seemed to stick with me and by the time we were standing in front of the building where I had a one-room apartment we had become good friends with shared interests in photography and cinema. I asked him where he lived and he pointed to the building across the road where he too had a one room apartment. Soon we became good friends spending many evenings at the cinema together. At first I had a suspicion that he might be gay since nearly every guy whoever spoke to me was gay and was after something I wasn't interested in providing. As it turned out he provided the perfect evidence of where his interests lay when I took up with a girl and he couldn't keep his hands to himself! Words were said and he disappeared in a huff for a couple of years only to reappear with a well-off wife who could keep him in a life of great comfort! We became great friends again even though his wife hated my girl! I have heard him say to people that I am his best friend but clearly he hasn't been looking closely for a long time, I could blame the partly on the cataracts he has just had removed! Now he has better eyesight than he can never remember and use it yesterday to spot the studs in my ears hence the mini stroke.

What does it take for some people to notice their friends have changed? I have removed a full dark beard from my face which in itself has subtly softened, the face is now framed with the long hair I have always had that it is now delicately shaped by a hairdresser at the first time in four decades, for the past decade the long nails I've always had have sported a vast range of colours and finishes from my collection of nail polish and little adornments of rings brooches and occasional bracelet have appeared along with ever more feminine female clothing. None of that had any effect but two little golden ear studs with sparkly red centres finally did the trick!

Part of yesterday's deal was that M's wife would cook a meal for us all for our return, and we had a fine time except for a couple of exaggerated "sirs" dished out with the food, clearly this is all got under his skin and has caused some irritation and consternation. I look forward to what he is going to say to me in the near future. One thing is sure the siring has to stop!

A strange dream where cats were lying on top of me while I slept, I never have cats in dreams!, was disturbed by the telephone ringing. Julie tried to transfer it to the carrier about the house phone but got defeated by the technology, it was the doctor's surgery trying to tell me that they had sent a prescription to the local pharmacy for me to collect, I just hope it's not for something like paracetamol!

That's just over five weeks for a letter to be written and travelled 90 miles east, the Victorians could do it better hundred and 50 years ago and it would only have cost a penny to send a letter! The last 2 1/2 weeks had started to get to me, annoyance and a little anxiety put me on edge wondering if they would ever get this simple procedure in place, I know when I feel bad like this, I can measure it with a set of scales! My gentle weight loss had not just flat lined! Looks like a new chapter in the adventure begins ...

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

another day

I haven't seen my general practitioner for over months now, there is a big toe not seeming quite right I decided it was time to try and get another appointment. This is a sort of initiative test set by the NHS, they say you can telephone that I tried that many times and have never yet managed to get through in the early morning, once the several telephones on redial I managed to try 80 times in 10 minutes and never once got connected, fortunately for me the health centre is in the street where I live so I only have to get up and stand outside the door just before the telephones are switched on. Easy I thought, just set my old PDA to alarm and wake me up quietly, worked like a dream, well nearly it was still set on British summer Time! If you know the time I go to bed normally it will come as no surprise to hear that I rarely wake up so early.

First in the queue and got my appointment to see my cheery GP. It is always a joy to meet her, she greets you like an old friend and now that I stick to just the one GP she knows me and my problems without having to say much. We can get through the work and chat. She finally seems to have got my blood pressure under control we both had a big smile about that it has taken so long. The toe was not feeling quite like it should have been given something to help it along, yet another pill but only for a week. Since it is nearly 4 weeks since I went to the clinic in Glasgow I asked her she had got a letter yet, they told me it would take two or three weeks. She had the report from the first interview that had not heard from the second year and that's the one she needs before she can write me a prescription. She is enthusiastic about the project we are running together so is going to ask them to fax through the letter as soon as possible and try and speed up the sticky patches. It's like trying to wade through treacle, the whole system seems to go at half speed at best while the two of us are trying to get the project on the road. Some promise though so I'm hopeful that I will finally get the patches soon.

Tuesday this cheap at the cinema and since we have the 3-D specs now we decided to go and see Alice in Wonderland. I hated this book when I was a child and could not identify openly with any of the characters. Naturally I wanted to be Alice, the sensible girl! I could not understand all these nonsense characters around her. There are plenty of faults with this film especially the latter part which is a bit too much Lord of the rings battle scenes for me personally but there were plenty of interesting performances to make it entertaining. 3-D seems to be the in vogue thing at the moment but I remain to be convinced that it is not just a new gimmick adding cost and slowing down production.

I did a quick run through all the blogs I'm set to follow, just trying to work out how many had ground to a halt in and remind myself of those who post infrequently. The really strange thing was the number who had chosen exactly the same style as mine, spooky.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Sore toe and seed

A strange week, the tone seems to dry up and crust over and you think it's healing. At night or if wearing socks I apply a special dressing only to find that it started to ooze again so this is a bit of a curse. Not as much of a curse has the enlarger which has constantly broken down. The light source was supposed to be a computer-controlled colour head except computer bit is now 18 years old and constantly getting into strange modes where it would drive the colour filters drove them to the parking position but would not stop and instead rattled like it was dying, the lamp also refused to come on when instructed or came armed with no colour filters in front of it and was therefore useless. I tried using an independent transformer just for the lamp but somehow the computer managed to switch it off occasionally and not let it switch back on then finally wouldn't work at all! By now I could strip down the entire head as fast as anybody in the world and decided to completely dismantle the whole system and remove anything electronic! From now on we were going back to the dark ages of simple electricity. At last I have a system which seems to work with the simple below lens filters for altering the contrast grades of paper, this is the system I can work with happily so fingers crossed I can now get back to printing some pictures and you can all breathe a sigh of relief that I will no longer have to post boring stuff like this.

Suddenly life has become quite sociable visiting friends for afternoon tea only to stay for a meal with them for someone else on the way home! We visited one such couple who had built themselves a house using a friend recommended as architect, we felt quite bad about this after the suggestion in case it all went wrong, most clients hate their architects by the end of the project that by some miracle these have all remained friends and love their new house while we only got a cup of tea out of this we have an invite to come back for meal when they can round up some more interesting people. Today was just a drive out for morning coffee at the garden centre where I met my young garden help to choose what we were going to grow in the vegetable plot this year, a small fortune was spent as usual but no doubt will repay us handsomely at harvest time. Poor Liz will have to do most of the work this summer while we lounge about in the Mediterranean sunshine.

With the toe throbbing and not too inclined to work long in the darkroom each day so it's good to see that the calendar is fast filling up with lunch parties, I think this is going to be our best week ever, nothing planned for Saturday yet wonder what went wrong! Despite seeing so many people this week nobody has noticed any change to my ears, not sure what to make of this, as they all so unobservant or are they all just wearing the wrong glasses. Even Liz a normally observant 14-year-old teenager sat feet away across the table in the cafe and chatted to 20 minutes and noticed nothing. The sooner I'm able to wear something dangling the better!

I wish this was a bit cheerier, at the moment there seems to be the lowest point of misery for the blogs in the corner of the net where I exist. 20% of them have ground to a halt completely whilst many people are suffering in these harsh times and have nothing cheerful to post about. Even those who are making progress through their transition have encountered more than their fair share of problems and pain. The miserable winter seems to be drawing to an end and the new shoots as usual are poking through last year's dead growth which should have been cleared away! The days are getting brighter and longer even though they are still freezing cold that the promise of spring is definitely there now.

You will be pleased to know that my snapshot camera is as reliable as the enlarging head and only works when it feels like it so there are no pictures of the toe to post to this blog, sorry.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Big toe

This blog has evolved from an introspective analysis of memory to an online diary like a series of letters telling a friend about my life. It's nice to know that some people are interested enough to follow and even I get a thrill when number goes up. It is small enough group who had the good taste and interest to sign on so when my number drops I am intrigued to see who has disappeared. I have stared at the list for over 10 minutes and I just can't place whose face has gone. Thought mine was one of the cheerier blogs around at the moment, oh well.

Sometimes the world gives you signs. My one real treat is my sauna, something had to hold the wall of the shower and a sauna is what I used! When you've been working in the garden there's nothing better than to warm up the muscles and stretch a little in the heat. The last time I warmed it up the light had gone out by the time it was up to temperature, that didn't faze me because I had to spare bulbs with the strange screw fitting but neither of them worked. I'd never had a session in the sauna in the dark before it was quite interesting, absolutely no distractions, womblike. The mind wandered further wider than usual until the kitchen timer buzzed to tell me I was done, I quite liked it. At some point I was going to need about six weeks without using the sauna, perhaps this was the signal to get on with that project.

Our local health centre likes to do minor surgery, few sadists there I suppose! On Monday I had an appointment first thing in the morning, they asked me what I'd come in for and I said take your pick, since I first asked two years ago several other lumps have arrived but instead of choosing a lump the doctor decided to take off the nail of my big toe. Shame my snapshot camera is so unreliable and I am not carrying it about. I could've taken a whole series of interesting pictures, first it went a kind of purply blue when tied off with a ligature after the deadening injection. Then it was a lovely gory red when he eventually wound nail off like taking the lid off an old sardine tin, he cursed about how tough it was, like a piece of old horn which is why it's given me so much trouble. Yet again some kind of phenol liquid was applied to try and stop it growing again. I'll believe that when I see it, it didn't work last year which was a shame because I quite like not having the toenail and had visions of being able to get my feet into shoes.

So now I have a sauna with no light and the big toe which can't get wet for two weeks. So this was the best time I was ever going to get for my project. Project is properly to bigger description for getting ears pierced but there are six weeks of after care while the first studs are in and being metal would burn the ears in the heat of the sauna.

I had to go back on the second day to have the toe examined and redressed so took advantage of the car being out and went into the city in search of the tattoo and piercing studio which I had looked up on the web, I figured they do this all day everyday so might be better than a jewellery shop, don't want to be tempted by jewellery with my limited budget. Julie went to an art gallery no surprise there and I parked the car near the studio, when I entered the door that made six of us in the waiting area, this was as busy as any shop I've seen in years. I was asked what I was interested in and told it could be done quite quickly, I could queue jump those who are waiting for more complicated things just fill in the form of consent. While I was doing this more and more people kept arriving, some stayed others drifted off saying they'd come back later. A youngish girl came in with her mum, she desperately wanted a navel pierced but was scared of the pain and wanted anaesthetic which was applied and then she was told to come back in quarter of an hour. I didn't have too long to observe the other clientele, my request is obviously going to be the dullest one of the day! In this northern town you don't often find someone who is black with a guy doing the piercing on this day is probably the blackest guy in town and also one of the most charming you could hope to meet. We chatted about what I was after that I really wanted a piercing for dangling earrings, and was a little bit of grumbling about how little earlobe I have two work with but he took his time marking up positions until we were both happy with the placement. I had gone in thinking I would just get the simplest plainest studs to see me through the six weeks but at the last moment in a girly moment my eyes were drawn to a sparkly red thing in a gold setting. He said it was going to hurt a little but briefly but enough that many guys leave with just one! I said anybody that had electrolysis on their top lip was not going to worry about a little hole going through the ear and it was almost nothing. Got my cleaning instructions and a bottle of medicated saline solution and was off to meet Julie in the gallery cafe.

I found her sharing a table with an old friend of hers who had been given early retirement at 50 before the administrators had done their arithmetic and worked out that that was a stupid thing to do. She had been enjoying a life of the last 10 years of freedom, she was there with her friend had just retired as a teacher and made jewellery, she was wearing lots of interesting things so I got chatting! Two more names to go on the dinner party lists!

Three days on and Julie exclaims that one in my ears is red and I have a moment of anxiousness, are not the greatest healer and I have heard that this doesn't always work but soon I realise that Julie hasn't realised that I took the sparkly red option! All I have to do now is find the file which Marie sent about where to buy dangly earrings with cameras for me to wear at my exhibition opening in May.