An early start….

The crazy dog braved the stairs again. I say braved because she’s small and doesn’t like stairs. She also doesn’t like ‘dry tomatoes’, you know the ones that haven’t first been rinsed before they’re given to her (don’t wash and dry them – she won’t eat them, they must still be wet), similarly, or should I say, contrastingly, she can’t stand wet cucumbers, they must be dry cucumbers, or she’ll turn her nose up and refuse point blank to eat them. Even if she’s hungry. I heard my husband telling her the other day, cucumbers are 90-odd percent water! He’d accidentally wet the cucumber instead of the tomato and the dog was peeved.

This morning, the crazy dog braved the stairs again. Then I heard her tiny paws pitter-patter over the landing excitedly, after all she’d achieved her feat. Then she knocked on the door. Really. I think she’s not developed far enough to actually scratch the door with her claws, so the scratch stops at a polite tap, or knock. Normally two or three ‘knocks’, truth be told. Then she pauses, and waits to see if you have been paying attention.

I had been paying attention for about five minutes because before all of that the dog had barked. I’d looked at my watch, it was only 4.52am and I was like, what the fuck? What the fuck was the dog doing in the entrance hall? Headlights had flashed by and awoken her from her blissful sleep and her day had started. And ours. I said, quite calmly considering, to my husband, “Why did you leave the dog sleeping in the front hall?” I may have had a slight waily note in my tone, I can hear it now, as I remember back. I felt him blink repeatedly. Me and my better half are pretty in sync, so stuff like that happens, even in the dark and without glasses on. Then as he answered, I could feel a huge apology on the edge of his tongue, “Was it..? Was it me who came to bed last?” His voice was all uncertain. Oh bugger, nope it was me. I hate the bloody menopause. My brain is like holey cheese. I can’t remember anything any more.

By that time the brave dog had reached the door. Pretty much simultaneously, both hubby and myself noticed our bladders awakening. And as I was the blame bearer, I strode off to the very excited-to-see-me dog, picked her up and carried her back downstairs. I was relegated, naturally, to the downstairs loo. The dog drank a ton of water, having been locked out from her bowl all night, and then of course needed to pee. I opened the door to a horde of birds chattering, which further excited the dog. By the time she re-entered the house, she was in full bounce around mode. Not only had she been a very brave dog and again mastered the stairs, step after scary step, but she’d been greeted by a celebratory choir while doing her first business of the day.

I’m recovering well. But I can’t look at the screen for too long as my eye starts to hurt and then my head starts to hurt. Hence I haven’t got back to you re my eye surgery. I can see, but something is still not right. It might be that they inserted the wrong lens the first time round. It may be something else. I have to wait until my eye is fully recovered to know for sure, which takes six to 12 months. Then it’ll be decided where we go from here. So, still a way to go. They won’t start on the left eye until the right eye is finished and it’s clear I have the same fault on the left eye so there’s a good chance things will go wrong during the cataract surgery then too. But, as long as I wear really strong glasses, I can see stuff again. I can see my beautiful husband, and my beautiful kids and my crazy bouncy dog. I can’t chop onions yet. But I’m heading in the right direction.

A bit more info…

I want to thank you for your for your kind responses to my last post. Several readers wrote and asked me about the surgery.
Here’s what I understand:
I have a mechanical fault in my eye. It was discovered after cataract surgery I had last year. After the surgery I couldn’t see any better and then things started to get worse, so various doctors did lots of tests. The mechanical fault had caused my retina to tear during the cataract surgery. The tear is now a hole in my retina.
My surgeon’s plan is to do keyhole surgery in my eye. They’ll remove the fault and the liquid from my eye and fill my eye with gas bubbles. The removal of the fault stops the pulling of the tear and hopefully stops it tearing even more. The gas bubbles apply pressure so the hole may try and heal itself. I will have to stay in hospital for a couple of days so they can monitor the level of pressure in my eye.
After about two weeks, the natural liquids should refill the eye and the gas should dissipate. Hopefully the hole will heal, but I need to be prepared that it can be a lengthy process.

After all of that, then they can start working on the other cataract in my left eye. They now know in advance that that eye has the same mechanical fault. Therefore the same thing could happen again.

But I’m keeping all of my fingers and toes crossed that it won’t!!

Again, thank you for your kind words after my last post. They were much appreciated.

A wobble is not always a bad thing

I’m a little nervous about my upcoming operation, next week. Over Christmas it was easy to find good distraction techniques. There were lots of people around for one thing. My husband had quite a lot of leave due to him and so we spent a lot of time together.

But on Monday he went back to work. Actually, I was absolutely fine on Monday. I got to Tuesday before it hit me and I had a bit of a wobble. Of course, it’s not nice getting any kind of operation. But I think it’s the uncertainty really. I have no idea how much I’ll be able to see after the my keyhole surgery and even if there’s improvement, it will take time. Weeks, maybe even months. And then there’s a good chance I’ll have to go through the same thing all over again with the other eye, once the cataract is removed, because they’ve found it has the same mechanical defect. And the surgeon told me even if it doesn’t happen during the cataract operation, it’s a ticking time bomb, and could just happen at any other time. Well, he didn’t actually say the words “ticking time bomb”. But you know what I mean.

Then again, when I was in my very early 20’s my left lung collapsed, three times over a period of 10 months. I had some cysts on the lung and they would pop, I’d feel them, and then the lung would just collapse. I almost got to the operating table for a medical intervention to try and stop the cycle, but the anaesthetist asked me a whole bunch of questions. I’d done a whole bunch of pregnancy tests prior to my admittance. Five to be exact. Four were negative. But they stacked the odds on the positive one being the correct one. So they did a blood test and sure enough Joni saved the day. She was only a little bunch of cells. But she still managed to be a superhero and save me from the scalpel. It wasn’t that the operation would have harmed the cells, they said, it was just that I would have required lots of x-rays and x-rays and foetuses, as we all know, don’t mix well.

The purpose of this tale is not to ramble on about my near-scalpel experience. No. It’s to tell you this: that doctor, who, by the way, was one of those super-duper, highly regarded specialists, told me that what happens to the left lung usually happens to the right lung. That was after Joni was born and I’d miraculously had no more collapsed lungs. So the postponed operation stopped being postponed and just got cancelled. However, the whole appointment didn’t carry an excited air of optimism, more one of doom and gloom. But it didn’t happen!!! My right lung and my left lung, from that day on, stayed fully inflated. The only real consequence I had was that I wasn’t allowed to push any of my four babies out of, what seems to me, like a very small hole. Instead I had my tummy literally cut open four whole times in a pre-planned, quite orderly manner, with a bed reserved each time in intensive care because no matter which hospital I went to, doctors always assumed that’s where I’d end up, after the big cut. I never did though. I always just healed surprisingly well.

Given that I now have an autoimmune disorder, I’ve figured that my body just gets really excited when there is something to fix and it tends to do a splendid job. It’s when it has nothing to fight against, that’s when I have a problem. I think it gets bored easily and creates itself a task to deal with.

I’m trying not to be too optimistic about the operation. I know it won’t be a walk in the park. And I need to be in a mentally ‘safe place’ in case it’s more difficult than I hope, so I can cope. But my natural instinct also tells me not to be too pessimistic. The doctor at the hospital told me there’s not a choice really, if I don’t do the operation, chances are, I will lose my sight completely. Maybe it’s strange, but that feels a bit like a safety net. Like, by doing the operation, I’m giving myself the best opportunity possible.

My husband has been great. I told him on Tuesday evening about my wobble. He responded that it’s fair enough to have a wobble. That what I’m going through is a big deal. And that I should have a wobble. And he told me not to block it and push it down, but to let it through, and let it out, it needs to be.

He’s a wise man my husband. He really is.

2023. I wrote the date for the first time the other day and I actually wrote the year correctly. Normally, at the start of the year, I’m all confused and keep filling the previous year in. You could be mistaken for thinking I was somehow trying to hold on to it. Nowadays, I’m really not. For more than a decade I’ve always been quite fed up with the year we were in, long before Christmas. I’ve been particularly keen on a fresh start. A reset.

I would like to see: peace in and the start of the rebuilding of Ukraine.
I would like to see: governments pulling together and working on answers to our climate crisis.
I would like to see: the Corona virus become something harmless, like a mild cold.
I would like to see: various politicians finally get their comeuppance! Huge losses, defeat, and criminal charges where appropriate.
I would like to see: properly again.

Christmas is coming!!!

Ready or not, it’s just around the corner now. So I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry one.

My presents are all wrapped. Our tree is up. As are our penguins. I know that’s a somewhat bizarre thing to say. My friend told me the other day, she said, “It sounds really weird when you say that!!” So for clarity, some people have snowmen lit up (or perhaps snowladies), others have reindeer. We have penguins. You can actually see them again now too. A couple of days ago they were nearly buried in snow. Then I said odd things like, “The penguins are buried!” Or after a windy night, “A penguin is face down in the snow!!” But I digress…

It may seem like I’m very organized. I even have my exact menu planned for the three Christmas days. And an exact list of last minute ingredients to buy. But that’s all superficial. The rest of the house is upside down, as when my son moved out, we didn’t even sneeze, we just jumped straight into the renovations.

Little did we know, which next crisis was heading straight towards us. To be fair, had we known, I, at least, would have been organized. I suppose, really, that’s one of the reasons it was/still is such a crisis.

Earlier in the year, I was diagnosed with a cataract. Nothing too serious. Considering I live in Germany and cataract operations are successfully implemented like a million times a day. Plus, normal people take ages to need surgery. So I bobbed along. Drove my car. Yanked up carpets. Made plans. And then suddenly it just got much worse. As in much worse. As in I could no longer drive my car. No longer leave my house alone. No longer see the faces of my family members. So the good doctor rushed me off for surgery.

My cataract had, however, grown so thick, so quickly (all down to last year’s Crohn meds apparently) that they could no longer take accurate scans of my eye. So they were going in blindly, so to say. The blind leading the blind could also be said… Anyway… They removed my pirate eye patch the next day, and I could see bugger all. Well I could see a blurry mess. But that was it. To cut a long story short, they have now discovered that due to a medical condition, which they hadn’t been able to see during the scan, I now have a hole in my retina and only 20% vision in my right eye. My left eye felt left out (ha!) so it grew its own cataract. It’s a fast growing one too, but by hook and by crook they managed to get a scan done and discovered that I have the same condition in that eye too. So I could also have the same problems when that cataract is removed. It’s a dilemma for everyone involved. But now the executive decision has been made at a special, specialist eye hospital that I should leave the left eye well alone for the time being and that they will operate on the right eye and hopefully in a few weeks or months my eye will finally get better. But it’s by no means clear (though for me, nothing is at the moment!) that there will be any improvement. So I’m just keeping all my fingers and toes crossed. Though not when I’m walking about. I was already prone to falling over while fully sighted. I am even more prone now with a minuscule amount of vision. Hence my hand is also bandaged after miss-seeing the step and taking a tumble.

Luckily my husband is amazing. He is running about doing various jobs at 100 miles an hour. I hope he gets to slow down somewhat over Christmas. And laugh. And feast. And sing. Or at least play his guitar a bit.

Are you a sublime hot flusher or in need of refrigeration?

I was watching a TV show with my youngest the other day when I yelled, rather over enthusiastically, “She’s having a hot flush, I swear it!” I think I may have been rather consumed by the camaraderie of it all, to be honest. And I was somewhat in awe. The woman, despite her predicament didn’t have a hair out of place.

My offspring looked at me (I’d like to say in awe also, but the look was more, well, sceptical), “What makes you say that?”
By that time I was already clicking on my phone, scanning through the omniscient Wikipedia for further info. “Yes”, I fist-bumped the air. “She’s 48!” I stated, “Definitely at least perimenopausal!”

“But what makes you think she’s having a hot flush?” My child looked challengingly at me. The way a teenager just needs to.

“Because she left the building to go outside and removed her coat!” I concluded.

The expression on my young one’s face revealed that she still required some convincing. But I know I was right. The history documentary couldn’t have been filmed on a hot day otherwise, why was she wearing a long coat?

I jubilated at my own cleverness for a while and the fact that I AM NOT ALONE. But I can understand my child’s unconvinced stance. The presenter is an absolute consummate professional. Who knows what she did right after they said CUT! Maybe she threw herself into the nearest lake? But for the shot, she managed to keep her composure and simply removed her jacket, which was a signal only to those of us ‘in the know’.

In contrast, my child witnesses scenes like this:

Yesterday I hardly slept. I woke up time and time again, sweating. I thought I had a fever at some point, which made me think I might have Covid. Although I am almost the only person in my suburb still wearing a mask voluntarily and I am avoiding contact with actual people, so I will be able to go on holiday. And my warning app hasn’t turned bright red and sung “You were standing next to an infected person on such and such a date.” Leading to me puzzling away for half a day exactly where I was a week ago.
I tossed and I turned and I took my socks off. I always wear socks. Always. I have bad circulation and they prevent cramps. Well, I don’t wear them in the shower. Or in the pool. Or when I wear those red shoes. I also wear them during sex. Unless it’s a special occasion.

Anyway, the socks came off and I dangled my feet out of my side of the bed. I threw my quilt over my man. Who’s a naked sleeper by the way. I always wonder what will happen if he has to go into hospital as he doesn’t own any pyjamas… Then I clearly remember whining somewhat. My man does as well. He doesn’t get much sleep once I finally climb into bed nowadays. We are travelling through my trauma together.

Morning arrived. Dishevelled, I looked for my socks. Then decided on a fresh pair. I staggered downstairs to the tap and the Covid tests.

And then it started. What I like to call my ‘rolling flushes’.

A brief explanation: a ‘rolling flush’ is when you have one hot flush, which subsides after a few minutes, but you go straight into another one.
After a ‘normal hot flush’ you can take a little time to properly cool down, you may even get to feel cold, as the sweat on your skin chills you. That never happens during a rolling flush, as you never quite make it back to normal temperature before the next wave comes. In my experience this can go on for as long as an hour or more.

I got my little battery operated fan out but it just wasn’t up to the job. I overheated my cooling scarf. I entered a self imposed bra ban – no need at all for extra items of clothing. My son advised me to go out in the cold rain, so I ran out onto the terrace, my half open linen shirt flapping around, but I only contributed to global warming. In a supportive attempt my poor son joined me, battery operated fan in hand. But neither the wind nor the rain nor a well meaning son could help me. I re-entered my hot-house, soggy socked and moaning. And raced to the fridge. I opened both doors (it’s a French double door fridge – the French are wise people) and I shoved my head in there for a bit. To no avail. But while I was there opportunity struck: I spotted a ready chilled bottle and I had the glorious epiphany to hold that to my naked skin. The flavoured water inside even contained some ice crystals. Hooray!!
Suddenly my linen top, hanging by then off shoulder, revealed a kind of hammock shaped carrier and I realised I could actually lie the icy bottle in there, directly against my naked boob and perhaps, finally, find some relief.

Me, my shirt and bottle wandered around for a while. Coexisting. Cooling. Occasionally wailing. My damp thinning hair made the word dishevelled feel tidy.
Then the bottle got fed up and threw itself to the floor. I grabbed it, quickly, and thrust it’s icy loveliness to the nape of my neck. Sticky, sugary flavoured water trickled all the way down my back.

I’ll finish with two points.

One: thank fuck for HRT gel.
Two: I understand exactly why my baby didn’t associate that incredible woman removing her long coat with a hot flush.

To warm your cockles on yet another very hot day

There’s a man who doesn’t live in our street but visits it regularly. Like pretty much every day. He used to live here as a child. I know that because his sister is a neighbour and she once informed me that the reason she stares out of her window at us all day, is because she used to live where our house is, and the land around about was all part of her parent’s farm.
I’m not sure she really meant to tell me that she stares at us all day, but she was fairly pickled at that moment. And I’m not sure I really wanted to know either. Generally, I’m so absorbed in what’s going on around me that I don’t look up at the neighbour’s window. Though, I do admit, some visitors have complained about being stared at from precisely that window (and indeed from another balcony – but that’s another oddball neighbour and another story for another day). In the spirit of honesty, I can tell you that my repeated attempts to console those guests with jokes like “we live in a zoo!” failed miserably.

The man isn’t generally visiting his sister, he’s visiting his allotment, which is directly opposite my garden. So I see him a lot.

For 15 years, no matter how often I have greeted him, he has totally blanked me. He never once smiled or said hello. I don’t think it was personal. I never saw him smile at anyone else either, even his own family. In fact, he just looked downright miserable at all times.

Once, a few summers ago, a small infant went missing from our street. My daughter was playing outside and came running home with the news within moments of the poor family’s terrible discovery. I yelled for everyone in the house to leave their rooms and we raced into in the street. I told my kids to knock the door of every neighbour and tell them to come out and search. Apart from the fairly busy road at the back of our street, we all directly overlook the river. So the panic was valid when a not yet two year old went missing. Most neighbours responded well, if in my opinion a little lethargically, and started looking. The grumpy man appeared at the top of the street on his bicycle. And in my hyped up state you could really say I had accosted him. I stood in front of his bike and refused to let him pass and told him it would be very useful if he cycled around to look for the child as he would be much faster than us lot on foot.

He didn’t refuse me. True to form, he just didn’t say anything at all. He did stop his bike, as I was stood in his way, but it was the only acknowledgement I got at all that anything was amiss. Once I moved he drove to his allotment and acted just as he did every other day, seemingly without a thought for the missing child.

The child was found quickly and unharmed. All was well again. And I didn’t think about the grumpy man too much.

Springs, summers, autumns and winters flew by and the grumpy man continued to tend painstakingly to his allotment.

Last year my husband and I were out walking the dog and we saw him again at the top of our hill with his wife. That in itself wasn’t unusual. Sometimes he arrived by himself on his bicycle. Other times in a vehicle and others on foot with his wife.

What was exceptional was that he was smiling. And not just a slight grin. He was positively beaming!! He saw us and the dog bounding towards him and greeted us warmly!!

After 15 years of being completely blanked, we were astonished. Automatically we greeted him back and afterwards I wondered why. Especially after the missing child incident.

My usual rule for myself is not to invest in people who aren’t good for me and this man had ignored us all for 15 years. Even when we’d asked for help. I’m not revengeful, I just have learned that I should protect myself and save my energy.

But still his smile seemed infectious somehow. And my thoughts lay on what had changed for him in his life to bring such a turnaround?

Fast forward a year or so until today. I haven’t actually seen that much of him in that time. But today as I was walking over to my car, to drive to my sports class, when he started shouting over the high hedge of his allotment to catch my attention. Just hello, but repeatedly. To help you realise just how bizarre this was, I couldn’t even see him as the hedge is so high. Then he walked over to the entrance of his allotment, which is right opposite my carport and waved at me. That’s when the penny dropped. He’d rolled out a pushchair containing a contented young child. The two of them then waved at me incessantly the whole way to my car, during my reverse and my departure. Both grinning. I felt like the Queen in a parade. Though I waved a lot more haphazardly.

A grandchild. A grandchild has brought real joy into his life. He’s a new man. It’s like medicine.

I really wouldn’t mind one.

Is optimism overrated?

I’m struggling a bit more than a little to connect with my inner optimist at the moment.
And I’m quite agitated about a few things.
Just like everyone else I know, I am sick and tired of Covid. I’ve been lucky enough to have my four injections and now I want to go back to living life as usual again.
Just like everyone one else I know, I ventured down the path of ‘everyone is just going to get Covid, some people several times, I’ve been jabbed and that’s all I can do, so I’ll just go through it, hopefully not too badly and without catching Long Covid and then I’ll come out the other side’. But last week our health minister said: “No! Still avoid getting Covid! Still wear masks (it’s no longer compulsory). And dread the autumn, because guys, it’s going to be really bad here in Germany!”

I want him to be wrong. I really do.

At the start of Corona my Crohn intensified rather dramatically. My instinct says that being under the protection of constant lockdown wasn’t too good for my over-excitable immune system. I had an exhausting amount of tests, was poked and prodded thoroughly and put on a treatment plan. It worked somewhat. A few weeks ago I discovered the steroids had pushed down the Crohn moderately and encouraged a cataract. I was told to do yet more tests and I’ve now been informed, by post, not by my doctor, that I have achieved the ranking of being both lactose and fructose intolerant.
This news may make you think shit, even more trips to the doctor. But after calling them today, apparently not. Apparently I am released from all appointments. Forever. No blood tests. No stool samples. No scans. No cancer checks. I am no longer a patient.

I wouldn’t say I feel free. I feel more like an overplayed iron on the Monopoly board who has landed on Go To Jail. Go Directly To Jail. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Receive £200.

I swear to you that I am not a difficult patient. Quite the opposite. I am British. So I am exceedingly polite and generally restrained at appointments. Take the last appointment for instance. I didn’t complain at all when the doctor only had a minute to do a quick ultrasound (I swear, he would win a competition for speediest scanner, hands down) and no extra minute at all to discuss my continued symptoms or other results. Even though I’d waited patiently outside his office for almost two hours.

I’ve been flummoxed all day. What do I do now with no gastroenterologist?

Then there’s our heating. It’s on its last legs. We spent a chunk of last winter financing repairs. One concerned heating engineer after another gave it their very best shot. But it’s a goner. Finito. A lost cause. A dead duck.
Apparently now, due to Green policies we need to get an Energy Adviser to come out before we can replace the heating. The Energy Adviser examines your whole house and tells you what you must agree to do in order to replace the heating. Our preference is to go as green as possible and hopefully get some kind of heat pump. But the engineers said they won’t work properly in our property. Besides you can’t book an Energy Adviser to appear at your door anyway, not for love or money. Masses of people are freaking out about the probable upcoming gas shortage and have bought up all the existing pumps, and pre-ordered all the hypothetical ones. So it seems unlikely we can locate one. Even if it would work. Temperatures are regularly minus here in the winter. I’ve even experienced -18°C during the daytime. So heating is an essential.

That brings me to Putin. I am SO angry with him. Apart from the disgusting abuse he’s inflicting on the Ukrainian people (and his own people). The ripple effects of the war feel more like a tsunami.

And then we have Querdenker – ‘out of the box’ thinkers who began demonstrating against Corona Measures at the beginning of the year. Demonstrating against government measures believing them to be forms of oppression. Now advocating Putin’s actions!!!

Have people gone stark raving bonkers?

I am calmed slightly by the fact that when Boris tried to do a Trump and overturn democracy, he was held to account, finally, by the system. Though it seems likely they won’t opt for a moderate replacement.
Wishful thinking let’s me dally with the idea that maybe the Republicans will see sense and stop enabling a corrupt liar.

Still an optimist after all.

Changing lives

When we arrived in Germany, all those years ago, one of the first things we did was to go to the school to register the children for the next term.

On arrival at the school I was shocked!! Where was the wall or the fence? Everything was open!! Even the main entrance door was open! You could just walk in!!

I quizzed the headmaster. How did they keep the little children safe? Did the children not run away? I think he was surprised by my interrogation. I may have spent my childhood in the UK being caged in for ‘my own protection’ but he had spent his German childhood being free. He did his best to soothe my worries, but to be honest, I remained a little nervous.

In just a matter of weeks after starting school though, those worries melted away and I looked at my little ones with new eyes. How lucky were they to attend a school in which they were free? No locked door. No wall. Just grass. And street. And an area to play. No one kept them in. They just stayed. No one placed a barricade between them and the rest of the world. They just sat in their classrooms and learned.

Now, there have been issues here. There have been a few school shootings. Sadly, there are (in my opinion, far too often) threats, generally by students, to rampage through the school, harming fellow students and teachers. The police take those threats extremely seriously.

But no walls are built. No doors are locked. And children remain generally free and feel pretty safe.

I never heard a politician here say, “Let’s arm the teachers.”
I never heard a politician here say, “Let’s allow anyone, in their right mind or in their wrong mind, to buy a semi-automatic weapon, no questions asked.”
I never heard a politician say, “It was mental illness and not a bullet that murdered your child.”

Issues with mental illness are dealt with here with high quality therapy. With a bit too much medication for my personal liking. And with far too long waiting lists. But not with a license to kill.

Be brave.
Choose another path.
Don’t vote Republican.
Save your children.

I sometimes think my car is possessed…

I sometimes think my car is possessed. Yesterday I ran out to do a quick errand and I noticed both the passenger’s window and the driver’s window were slightly ajar, just a couple of inches, but enough to let in a small breeze. I’m not complaining, it was hot outside after all, and the airing the car gave itself really was good for me also. But it was slightly unnerving, because I’m telling you: I DID NOT OPEN THE WINDOWS!!!

And, to be honest, it’s not my first strange event with the car. A few weeks ago I went outside and the boot was wide open. I hadn’t opened it, and irritatingly I didn’t actually need it to be open. So if my car was trying to help me in some way, well, really it was more of a hindrance. I had no idea just how long it had been open for. Had small animals made a nest inside? Had rain got in? Had something been stolen? Tentatively I assessed my car, and discovered all was well. But I had a slight irk in the pit of my stomach. Why the hell was my boot open?

I do try my best to be polite to my car. I say thank you if she peeps at me if I go over the speed limit and I immediately reduce my tempo for example. But we do find ourselves getting into these huge arguments.
She says, “Turn left at the next junction.”
I answer, “What? That’s not the quickest route! Where are you trying to take me?” And I drive on, all assertively.
She responds, “Turn around when possible.”
And I say, “Fat chance!”
She becomes so insistent, “Make a u-turn!
Then, after I ignore her, “Turn right in 2km, make a u-turn and turn left, back into this road and follow the road back for a little more than 2km and then turn right into the road I told you to turn into before.”
It’s not just determination that I hear in her voice, I’m sure I notice a little bit of ticked-offness.
Sometimes, just sometimes I do yell back at her. I bawl, “Look love, I’m not making a bloody u-turn, I’m driving this way whether you like it or not. Last week you may have managed to convince me to take a detour down that no through road, which, by the way, I’m still sure was private property, but I’m not taking it anymore. I want to drive this way and this way I will drive.”
I admit, at times, I do use more profanity.

Do you think she’s retaliating?

Happy New Year and I need your help!!

2022 Hooray!!

Let’s hope, as a year, you will be much kinder to us all than 2021 was. Or 2020 for that matter!! All our hopes (and dreams) are riding on you! Plus with so many twos in you, I am convinced you must be going to be a good year. Though that might be my optimistic nature….

I wish us all good health. That includes a cure for Covid-19. A cure for cancer. And a cure for the bloody menopause.

I also wish for a cure for stupidity, but I think I might be pushing it on that one…

I wish us all much joy and laughter.

I wish us all to find the strength we need when times are tough and to have good friends around to catch us when we start to fall.

On a personal note I need to come to terms with the fact that I will turn 50 this year. And I want to finish my book (nearly there), finish the work on my house (just need a builder), be healthier (might require a new body for that one) and just find my inner balance again.

On that note, one of the hobbies I’ve taken up in recent years is photography. I’m no great photographer but I keep taking pictures and if I take enough, I finally get a few good shots.
Of course, I take blurry photos of moving objects like the dog and the kids. But what I really love is nature photography. There is something truly relaxing about it. And I have a strong feeling of inner peace when I look at specific pictures.
With that in mind, I had the mad idea a couple of years ago of starting a gallery of ‘annual favourites’ in our house. That is, I would choose one beloved photo from each year and have it made into a gallery style print and hang it up on the wall. It’s a mad idea because we have almost no wall space left, especially not for a growing number of photographs… But I’m striding along with the project anyway.
The most difficult part is trying to whittle down my favourite four/five/six pictures of the year to just one. I truly agonize over it. It’s so tempting to just print them all off, but that would be too expensive and as I said: there’s not enough wall space.
So this year I thought I’d share the final pictures with you and ask you what you think!!

Autumn leaves
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