Sunday, 30 September 2012

My Weekend

30th September 2012 Sunday

The pussy cat did pee -  yesterday on the sitting room carpet. Today he tried to on my husband’s boots but I lifted him off in time. I talk to my brother in Holland for advice. He says we don’t know why the pussy cat is still holding on when his body is clearly failing but still to trust he will go when he’s ready and we don’t need to intervene.....

Felt very emotional yesterday with all my dear cousins and their families at our yearly get together in a church hall in Bristol. Everyone brings plates and bowls of food to share, the little ones run around in the sunshine outside.  Last year my father was with us. My aunty who is ninety-nine says she prays for my husband and me every day along with her daughter who has Altzheizmer’s. My eldest cousin’s husband says the same. We talk to my cousin who has prostate cancer about Mindfulness Meditation which he practises. I’m so moved by his resolution, his humour, his lightness of touch in the face of his illness. And the pain in his family.

My husband doesn’t recognise anyone’s faces but he knows he knows them. He does a great job washing up after the lunch. He says it’s easier than making conversation. I worry he might say something inappropriate like he did last time.

Later he doesn’t say much at all when we are sitting round my nephew’s table with his wife and my big sister, tucking into a deep purple red Borsch soup, melting Camemert cheese and fresh crusty bread.  But he loves being with my great nephew who is a sweet delight - taking us on a tour of their garden, squashing blueberries in his little fists, banging a mini frying pan on top of his cuboard stove, playing with my sister’s necklace, laughing a mischevious laugh and sitting on my lap turning the pages of a book. A being of pure joy.

Today I feel washed out and don’t feel like doing anything - especially not my life. The decorator comes with  paint samples, we start making a book of photos of friends and family and write their names next to the photos to help my husband recognise them. But I don’t think it’ll work. We walk by the river at Otterton, have delicious black bream for lunch, discover my husband has sold one of his pieces at the gallery and celebrate with a black cherry icecream cone at Budleigh. 

It’s the Tribunal tomorow. I’m dreading it.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Pussy Cat Pee and Shakespeare

28th September 2012 Friday

My day doesn’t start well. Even before I’m dressed the pussy cat starts peeing on my old brown suede boots in a corner of the ironing room. When I realise what he’s doing I snatch him up and rush him to the bathroom but he pees on the white rugs and the carpet on the landing, and me, all the way there. 

It’s not the carpets really that bother me but why he did it - he’s peed on the bed before - it’s always a sign of distress. But I don’t know what he’s trying to tell me. Or if he’ll do it again - if I don’t get the message -  whatever it is. Maybe he senses that we are going away next Friday for two weeks. I’m anxious about leaving him for so long when he’s so not well - maybe that’s it...I could trust that whatever happens will be for the best.

We drive over to the tile shop again  - the tiles I chose before were’t the right colour - didn’t go with the stained glass in the bathroom which is a beautiful design of deep sage green, amber, gold and a spot of pink.  We come back with more samples. One of them is perfect.

While I scrub the veggies we pulled at the allotment this morning - long pink radishes, stubby hairy carrots, heavy oblong beetroots,  yellow patti-pan squashes  - and cook up a compote of blackberry and apple for tomorrow’s extended family party -  my husband visits his aunty for tea.

He comes home with a bag of clinking wine bottles and tins of tuna for the pussy cat.

I had to go to Shakespeare for it, he says.

Do you mean Sainsbury’s?

Yes. Where’s Shakespeare then?

I tell him and we laugh. But he won’t remember for long...

I hope the pussy cat has forgotten where he peed this morning. I’m keeping that door closed just in case.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Running Away

27th September 2012 Thursday

This turned out to be our freebies anniversary.

This morning two free cups of coffee at Debenhams because we had to wait to get new batteries fitted in my watch. Coffee horrible but views of the Cathedral and beyond from the top floor were spectacular.

Two free cinema tickets for ‘Hope Springs’ with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones because we renewed our membership at the Exeter Picture House. Marvellous performances by both of them -  moving, touching, poignant. Story easy for my husband to follow.

Tonight two meals for the price of one at Bella Italia because my sister sent us a voucher. Pizzas light and crisp, my chocolate pud a bit too chocolately but luckily they brought two spoons so my husband helped me out.

The film sparked our conversation about marriage and intimacy. He wants more togetherness, has more time, doesn’t want to interrupt my busy busy life.......makes me feel sad about how we got to this point.....he says he felt we were more together when he was working even though we probably spent less time together. I liked it when he was working.

Not sure what I’m running away from so hard.... something in me that's for sure .....but I probably won’t find out till I stop still and look....and forgive it.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Lost in the Kitchen

26th September 2012 Wednesday

I lost myself in the kitchen today....

The house smells of chutney - the spiced vinegary aroma has seeped into the carpets and curtains - even the bubbling volcano of Rhubarb and Ginger jam I made this morning hasn’t masked it. Yesterday’s chutney - Tomato, Tomatillo and Apple -  burnt on the bottom of the pan - the beautiful new maslin pan my husband bought me for Christmas last year - leaving a thick black crust pitted with charcoal raisins and mustard seeds. I rescued most of the chutney -  and the pan -  but was super attentive to the Aubergine and Red Pepper Relish I cooked today and didn’t leave the kitchen the whole time.

I’m being inspired by a book on Jams and Preserves from Lakeland which I bought my husband a few birthdays ago when he was the chutney maker (and burner of the bottom of the pan) in the house. Also a book called Edible Gifts which a dear friend gave me 30 years ago and which has wonderful recipes in it like Kumquat Chutney Sauce, Lemon Shrub, and Peppercorn Jelly. I want to make them all, and more, for my table at the one day Christmas Fayre my sister is putting on at their farm in November. And I want to find ways to use up our apples before they go rotten in the shed..... and all that garlic too......

It’s our 26th wedding anniversary tomorrow. I love sharing this date now with my niece and her husband who live in Beirut - it’s their 4th. And there will be another date to celebrate next month when their baby is born.....

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Still Here Still Breathing

25th September 2012 Tuesday

Didn’t blog last night  - spent most of it on the sofa with the pussy cat. I thought it might have been his last night.  I went down to feed him about 11pm and found he’d been sick and his breathing was weird - raspy and clicky and he was very still. I sat with him on the kitchen floor for a long time then carried him into the sitting room and made a bed for him on the sofa and one for me on the other end with blankets and cushions.  In the early hours he woke me once with dry wretching but he wasn’t sick and his breathing wasn’t so weird so I went back upstairs to our bed.

This morning he was just his usual quiet, big-eyed, skinny self. He drank a lot from the dripping tap in the bath, got his tail soaking wet, lay in a wide patch of sunlight on the carpet in our bedroom and later ate a big bowl of horrible Felix cat food. Now he’s curled up behind the futon chair in my study making that wierd clicky breathing sound again and occasional coughing snuffling noises.  But he’s still here.

Yesterday my husband and I went foraging for blackberries down by the estuary accompanied by the sound of a huge flock of Canada geese in the water meadows beyong the bramble hedges. We got scratched and stung by nettles and even though the blackberries were unsatisfyingly small and sour we came home with purple stained fingers and a big plastic boxful - enough to make jam and crumble.

We stopped off at B & Q to buy paint samples for the bedroom - I’m thinking about  Dulux Jade White for the walls - and seeing a shelf of light bulbs I asked my husband if we needed any as he is the one who always replaces them when they blow.

What are light bulbs? he asks.

He doesn't see the light bulbs that I'm looking at so my question comes at him left field, a curve ball stunning him. They could be anything unless I point to them or explain.

I’m supposed to be getting used it now but it pierces me every a little electric shock in my solar plexus..

Sunday, 23 September 2012


23rd September 2012 Sunday

Still happy. It’s like I shed a skin yesterday -  my tight crysalis tomb which has kept me small with fear and false I even love the soft rain following me like a constant background waterfall where ever I am.

This morning I oversleep but still manage to make my dish to share for lunch -  a red and green rice salad  - roasted peppers and tomatoes, spring onions, chopped basil and parsley swirled through the grains and topped with toasted cashews for crunch.  I love being in the company of our Course in Miracles group especially without my old restrictive skin dissolved by gratitude and love.....My husband calls it my Miracle Mind group....

While I’m there he walks with a dear friend - avoids the rain by visiting one of the Artists Open Studios - brings back post cards of Heather Jansch’s amazing life size sculptures of driftwood horses...makes me want to have one grazing in the garden under the apple tree...

Later my husband makes cheese on toast for their lunch.....I bring out the fat Tribunal file and we sit at the table while our friend reads through all the submissions and doctors letters and evidence. He makes notes and asks questions so that he can be a witness for us at the appeal in a week’s time. He says he can even use some of my blog to build our case....I feel so uplifted by his support.

Much later, in the bath, my husband spins into a spiral of pain and loss about not understanding the conversation with our friend, about having to look up words to play scrabble and not remembering what they mean, about not following a TV programme, Family Guy, that he used to  enjoy, about feeling fat.

I sit on the egde of the bath listening to him and recieve his grief -  a precious gift that he’s offering me and hold it for him till it’s time to let it a piece of driftwood tumbled  smooth in the waves of the shoreline.....

Saturday, 22 September 2012


22nd September 2012 Saturday

Too happy to blog tonight!  I’ve had a wonderful day in the company of my family. If I wasn’t so full up on a feast of sunhine and presents and flowers and such words of loveliness from the Dear Ones in my life and of course the  Beetroot Risotto, Lemon Salmon and Green Beans, and Ginger Apple cake and all that cream and Prosecco - I’d be  walking on air.

Actually I’m floating on a duvet of deep love and gratitude and acknowledgement and feel the luckiest nearly 60 year old in all the world.... Thank you thank you...

Friday, 21 September 2012

Listening for Bubbles

21st September 2012

We stay a long time in the bath tonight carrying on a conversation we started with a dear friend this afternoon. He’s learning about NVC - Non Violent Communucation - we practice listening to each other - how different it is to be heard with no judgement, no interruption, no suggestion, no advice. How easy and how hard that it is.....

I see how not listening though, not paying attention to the one you love, is a kind of violence.....against both of you.

I say to my husband,

I want you to use the word ‘I ‘not ‘you’ and talk about your experience and not the theory of  stuff because I want to be more connected to you.

He says he’ll try.

And that’s the sound of champagne bubbles popping in my ears.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

A Flying Visit

20th September 2012 Thursday

Because I’m going to be 60 soon and on Saturday some of my dear family are giving me a birthday  lunch - I’ve been thinking of how to thank them and let them know what a joy they are and have been all my life. They are both the joined cupped hands and the water they hold - sustaining me always and forever. So I’ve started writing them a letter.

Which means that today I have been unsettled by visiting that country of my past -  remembering so much and also forgetting so much  -  like the chronology of my life - like when did those first lines appear round my eyes? I find a black and white photo of myself when I was about sixteen with a smooth chubby face and my hair a curtain down my back and even white teeth....but with only a few droplets of experience in my rucksack... I’m so glad I’m not that girl any more....

It’s not good to linger too long there - in the past - which luckily is gone. So it was only a flying visit and I’m grateful to spend tonight in the company of dear friends -  my other extended family -  meditating in a room full of love and healing and music.  With the prospect of my homemade carrot cake and tea for afters..... 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Helper or Helpee?

19th September 2012

Feel edgy, unsettled all day  - do more stuff around my husband’s tribunal  - letters, emails....a dear friend has volunteered to be an expert witnesss on the day....I feel so grateful, supported... 

A woman comes to measure up for the bedroom curtains - she has a wonderful mane of glossy dark hair but her long metal tape measure doesn’t work. I lend her ours. I hesitate when she gives me the quote which is huge. But I love this material I’ve chosen  - it’ll be like lying in bed and gazing at the sea and the sky behind a tracery of twining leaves and tiny flowers. And I know my mother would approve - it’s her money I’m spending on me.

A  man arrives from Age UK to talk to my husband about having a buddy, a volunteer to come and spend time with him a few hours a week - doing anything he wants. It’s a voucher scheme - aimed to give me a break too. My husband is subdued, non commital. When the man describes the scheme and then says,

It’s not as dry as it sounds,’

my husband asks him what dry means.

He says he’ll go along with it. He takes the man upstairs and shows him all his weird and wonderful ceramic creatures. The man is impressed and says he thinks he knows a woman who is an artist who would be a good buddy for my husband.

When we are having lunch I ask my husband how it was for him. He looks upset and says it reminded him that he used to have clients coming to the house and it was easy to help them. He knew what to do.

So you’d rather be the helper than the helpee?

Yes of course, he says.

Me too. But I think I’m getting better at asking. Just have to remember not to be attached to the outcome....

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Mundane & Random

18th September 2012

I’ve just been bitten on the side of my jaw by a mosquito.

The temperature has dropped tonight - the bathroom tiles are icy cold under my bare feet.

My husband is in bed - I’m blogging - means we have separate bedtimes now.

I hear the muffled clunk of the catflap - the pussy cat will be sitting in wet grass. He’s vomited up his food the last two days -  so I'm back to the routine of carpet cleaning.

The students are back - Freshers week -  late night talking in the street.

I’m writing these mundane and random things because I don’t know what to say about today.

This morning my sister wanders round the tile shop with me helping me to focus - I’m in love with the shimmering glass mosaics all over the walls - sheets of dragonfly wings trembling in sunlight.

At the lunch table I feel my husband’s loose-endedness emanating from him like a silent melody playing over the plates of avocado and roasted tomatoes - familiar and hopeless. This time I listen to the tune and stroke his back but I don’t change my afternoon plans. 

Monday, 17 September 2012

Peppers and Badgers

17th September 2012

Knackered tonight - even dropped off in Lorraine Pascale’s Quick Fresh and Easy cookery programme so I missed most of it. But I know her recipes aren’t nearly as wonderful as the lunch I had today at Riverford Farm Kitchen with two delicious women for an early birthday treat.....sweet carrots with caraway, roast potatoes with long cooked fennel, cabbage with  parmesan and a buttternut squash pie with feta and beetroot. Followed by a  crumbly light chocolate almond torte streaked with raspberries - unforgettable....

At the Farm shop we find a bargain  - huge organic red peppers on their way out with a few bad bits on them, but at five for a £1 we buy ten each. We talk recipes in the car on the way home - stuffed or roasted or chutnied? Tonight I lay some of them under the grill and blacken their skins -  then blend them into a bright orangey red sauce with garlic and tomatoes.

Not hungry enough for supper though, so just gnaw at a piping hot sweeetcorn cob slathered in butter and speckled with black pepper.......which reminds my husband that we won’t have any sweetcorn this year - yesterday the badgers got through the clingfilm cage at the allotment, knocked down all his plants and chewed up the young cobs. The first licence to cull badgers was granted today in Devon....they say it'll be humane but I don't believe them....

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Pearls Of Grace

16th September 2012 Sunday

A grey-cloud Sunday morning - breakfast with my dear cousin and his wife.  Coffee scenting the air and on the table, cranberry granola, ice cold poached apples, toasted bread and clear ruby red plum jam. Our conversation takes us into the realms of how you engage with the time bomb of disease - yours and your loved ones. My cousin’s son lives with shizophrenia, his brother lives with cancer which has spread to his bones.

Shizophrenia. Cancer. Dementia. Names, labels which can’t tell the whole story. Like lids sealing jars full of heavy of grief and fear and pain....and other untold things that you must sift through, let them snag on your raw heart till you find a nugget of gratitude, a seam of joy, a strata of trust to carry you through to the next moment....and the next.....

.....threading pearls of Grace through the long hours of your day.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Counter Point

14th September 2012 Friday

Loved being in the kitchen most of today - cooking for our weekend visitors - on a vegan theme -  using lots of luscious vegetables. A perfect counter point to thinking about tribunals or how to be good and kind and patient.

Head down instead, knife on chopping board, slicing carrots and celery, or sifting cocoa powder into egg free cake mixture, or charring the skins of aubergines for Babaganoush or tossing red and yellow and orange tomatoes in garlic and olive oil or stirring dried cranberries into warm crunchy granola......being my own non celebrity masterchef.

Later I cut the grass and water the garden pots which are drying out in this Indian summer sunshine.The pussy cat sits on the mat by the open back door. He looks small and hunched up -  his fur thin over his bent legs. The vet says his tumour is growing bigger. I’m glad he does’t know that.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A Far Cry

13th September 2012 Thursday

Talking late last night with my lovely nephew over the washing up...he arrived earlier in the evening like a big gulp of fresh young air......he assembled the stand and the pedals for my husband’s keyboard with great calmness and skill and husband said he could have done it himself but then he would have had to read the instructions....

This afternoon my husband and I sit at his computer and try and compose a letter or rather three letters to the GP, the neurologist and the psychologist asking for yet more clarification as evidence for my husband’s tribunal. We argue back and forth, disagree about every sentence - get locked in a cycle of despair and rightousness. It takes hours. I feel raw and guilty about how  impatient I am with him, how close I come to screeching rage. I don’t believe any of it will make the slightest difference to the outcome.

Finally we escape  - drive to Sidmouth in blinding sunshine and walk along the sea front -  still arguing - this time about deck chairs and if they are free or not. I say you have to pay he says they are free. Then I realise he’s talking about the benches and calling them deck chairs. We sit on the rocks licking ice creams and remember the cold March day we sat in the same place with his sister’s little family - the day of his mother’s funeral.

My resolution of yesterday to listen to my husband with an open heart disappeared today like the far cry of a seagull snatched up by a gulp of wind.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Golden Prods

11th September 2012

Three Good Things  about today.......

The joy of being in a curtain shop - revelling in the glorious colors and designs and feel of the fabrics....wanting them all.....holding a tiny square of our  blue/grey bedroom carpet .....trying to match it.....and not being able to decide....loving the most expensive ones made of silk.....

Exquisite listening in my coaching session.......saying how it crap it is sometimes........being heard without judgement......makes me realise how I could listen to my husband a bit more and not defend myself so much.....

Buying a poety book in the Oxfam shop by the wonderful quirky Selima Hill - her mad wild words like golden rods prodding me to reach beyond my little horizons....

Monday, 10 September 2012

Food Memories

10th September 2012 Monday

Tonight’s supper inspired by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s new book called Three Good Things on a his idea of simplicity - although he does use lots of seasoning ingredients as well as the main trio. Also my fridge is rather empty at the moment  - veggies at the allotment are wearing thin. 

So while my husband sings in his choir I catch up on iplayer with Celebrity Masterchef and a plate of waxy potatoes cooked in stock and garlic, a mound of spinach and broccoli, a soft poached egg on top and a dollop of mayo on the side. Close enough to three good things....and not a pigeon breast or lobster in sight.....

I write a letter in a card to my oldest schoolfriend today. Her mother, well into her nineties, died on Tuesday. Found myself remembering her and our African childhood - and all those hot afernoons I spent in her house, sitting on her bed and eating slabs of a dense, moist cake her mother used to make which we called Chinese Spice Cake. Which I’ve never tasted since.

Odd the things that stay in our memories.....and all the ones we forget. I notice that food memories are a kind of anchor for me - I can pull them up any time and re-live the occasion of all those wonderful tastes and textures and aromas.....and remember the beloved peope sharing them with me.....

Sunday, 9 September 2012

No Gold Medal Day

9th September 2012 Sunday

I watch the shining smiles of the Para-Olympians holding up their gold medals....feel so inspired by what they must have overcome to reach this point......

The mean part of me says if it’s a physical disability you can find a way round it - like having a false leg....and if it’s a mental disability  - like my husband’s  - you can’t halt its downward spiral however slow.........

I asked him today when we were walking by the river if repeating a word a lot or trying to find a way to remember it like weaving a story around it, helps to fix it in his mind. It doesn’t.  Especially if we are talking about places or people eg. Tiverton Canal, it will only stay for a few minutes or less in his mind. 

And sometimes it’s like all the wires in his head have got re-routed. We are sitting in a cafe garden. He orders a date slice. When it comes I say,

It looks more like a date crumble.

He’s quiet then he says,

What’s a date?

What you are eating, I say pointing to his plate.

Oh, I thought you meant like going on a date and it all falling apart..... 

 We laugh but the trouble is is that I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like for him. I want to see the gift in it all. Maybe the equivalent of a false leg for my husband is discovering his big open heart and living from that instead of from his head.

I do want that  - but today I didn’t remember it and I just felt impatient and irritated and tired of explainig everything and sorry for myself.  Not really a winning formula for a gold medal.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Apples And The Pussy Cat

8th September 2012 Saturday

It’s the day to pick the apples - warm and  dry and no other plans. For some reason I always associate this day with my uncle in Canada who was visiting us a few years ago around this in the album of him with us all in our sitting room and the next photo is me squatting on the kitchen floor sorting the apples into boxes.

My husband climbs the ladder with a plastic bag tied to his belt and when it’s full he hands it  down to me and I start the job of grading the apples according to size and ripeness and blemishes. There are loads more than I expected as we lost so much of the blossom this year.

In between apple sorting I start pruning the waving wands of honeysuckle and branches of the old climbing white rose which is reaching for heaven. I notice the pussy cat keeps visiting the same the spot under the escallonia bush. Then I smell it across the whole garden and I know he’s having a problem. I clean him up.... ring the vet.....go and collect another tube of kaolin paste...get some down his’s supposed to help diarrhoea. 

It maybe the lymphoma has spread to his bowel - no way of knowing without more tests. Living with pussy cat sick on the carpets is bad enough, living with pussy cat pee on the bed is awful but living with random pussy cat poo is my worst nightmare. That’s probably why I’ve got it.....the next thing to face.....

Listening to The Last Night of the Proms makes me cry - all those old familiar tunes embedded in my husband recognises some of the music but not the lyrics or the composers. It suddenly feels lonely being the only one on the sofa who knows the words to  Auld Lange Syne.....

Friday, 7 September 2012

Snakes In The Attic

7th September 2012 Friday

 We are de-cluttering my husband's office. It's a hot bright blue morning.  Spewed out in front of us on the carpet is a jungle of wires and cables - years and years worth of leads and connectors and adaptors for phones and computers and printers, CD players and radios. For me they might as well be a coiled nest of vipers. We are searching among them for the lead for the old keyboard and trying to choose what to keep and what to throw away.

In the end my sister, who is holding me together in this  seething sea of technology, suggests we put them in a big box in the attic so we don’t have to make any final decision. Every time my husband picks up a book or a file or an ornament or a piece of equipment she asks the vital de-clutter’s question,

 ‘Love it, use it or chuck it?

Sometimes I leave the room and go and make us a cup of tea when I see how my husband is struggling to decide or to remember what something is that he is holding in his hand. Like a fat file full of printed papers and screeds of his hand written notes. On the front of the file it says NLP - A Practitioner’s Course. He studied it for a year in London.

Any idea what it is? he asks.

I explain Neuro Linguistic Programming but fortunately he throws the file away - making space for things he does want and can use. Like paint brushes and a piano.

We never find the lead for the old keyboard which my wonderful sister takes away in her car along with a many other items from my husband’s old life to give to the charity shop.

Later we haul the box of cables up the ladder and into the loft. Just clever bits of plastic and wire - not snakes in the attic after all.

Thursday, 6 September 2012


6th September 2012 Thursday

Awake in the night  burning up with feelings of shame. Realise how much I tied up my identity with having money and status through my husband in the life we used to have. It meant I could be generous. Even though I know it’s not true and it never was, take all that away and how do I still live an abundant life? Forge another me out of the ashes.....

Luckily I spend all day with a roomful of people in the presence of a wonderful inspiring man - David Hoffmeister - a practical mystic  - who travels all over the world sharing his wisdom. He’s a totally inspiring example of someone who is living a life of love and trust. He made me think I could do that too - start to put my trust in the Divine......

Tonight  in the cinema my husband and I watch a film called Samsara, the Sanscrit word meaning the endless cycle of birth, suffering, death and re-birth. . A film about the insanity and the beauty of our world. A film alive with music and image but no words. If you get the chance go and see it - it’s truely amazing....

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

It's Only Money

5th September 2012 Wednesday

Feel unreasonably tired just headlines.

16 jars of  Victoria plum jam glistening on the kitchen counter -  the colour of dusky pink roses.

Discover the pussy cat will eat cod if I roast it in the oven and flake it into his dish when it’s still warm. But he won’t touch the dry food he has been eating for the last 2 years. I order a different variety from the vet.

I open a letter from HM Courts and Tribuanls Service expecting a new date for my husband’s appeal. Instead it is a letter saying that all the letters we supplied from the GP and neurologist and psychologist and CAB are not relavent to the period of appeal and the original decision from the medical assessment still stands. Not sure what to do now. Feel like giving up. I leave a message for the lady at the CAB who is helping us.

My husband receives another email from his accountant about the tax bill. The amount is still unclear but it keeps going up  - it sounds like Monopoly money. The bill is from 2 years ago - when we lived another life. In that life  my husband could make money to pay the bills. Now it feels like when the savings are gone there’s no way to replenish feels draughty in this new place.....

But as a dear friend always used to say to me - It’s only money not drops of blood.....

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Piano Man

4th September 2012 Tuesday

This afternoon I bought a piano for my husband.  Actually it’s a keyboard piano which also sounds like a harpsicord or an organ if you press one of the other buttons. We went to the piano shop with his old keyboard to buy a cable for it but discovered it was defunct.There was too much writing on it anyway - too complicated, too many buttons.  We are calling this one his early birthday present and I’m calling him Piano Man. I love the sound of this music in the house - even the sound of practising.

This morning at nearly the end of the session with our lovely clinical psychologist ( who told us scary stories about cuts in the NHS) we mentioned that my husband started to play the piano again last week while we were away. He said that musical ability is located on the right side of the brain and it remains unaffected by disease. Even people with severe Altzheimer’s respond to and recognise a tune. My husband’s disease affects the left side of the brain and as he has a musical talent it seems a good idea to encourage it. Better than trying to watch TV or read......

I was going to make jam this afternoon but it seemed more urgent to get my husband’s fingers on those keys... unlocking the music in without words. 

Monday, 3 September 2012

An Indian Summer Day

3rd September 2012 Monday

When I get up in the night it’s bright as daylight. I catch sight of the full moon beaming through the open bathroom window, a perfectly round silver ball, alone in a luminous sky - almost feels as if I’m spying on her. I always think of my niece in Beirut when I try and write about the moon - her moon poetry is a shimmering silk robe, makes you feel like royalty when you wear it.

Victoria plums for breakfast. My husband brought home a huge heavy bag of them from the allotment. Thankfully not as many as last year but still plenty to make jam and crumbles with. I slice them first instead of biting into the gorgeous pink blushed skin - wary of those little wriggling worms which secrete themselves in their gritty grooves next to the stone.

It’s a blue sky Indian summer morning  and I walk into town for a coffee and a catch up with a dear friend. We end up talking recipes and sharing green tomato stories. Even Monty Don on Gardeners’ World has suffered blight in his green house and lost his crop which makes me feel better about our red tomato loss.

Salad lunch outside. I sit under the shadow of the umbrella while my husband prefers the sun and the pussy cat lies his boney fur next to the brick wall  - his head under the shade of the trailing rosemary bush.

Proper tea in beautiful Wedgewood cups with another dear friend in her lovely home. We end up talking colour schemes for the bedroom which I’m planning to have re-decorated. She opens up a cornucopia of possibilities for me. John Lewis enters the coversation...

This eveing I bring in the washing, not completely dry, water the geraniums in their pots, and start chopping veggies for supper - an overgrown courgette which is nearly a marrow, hard whiskery carrots, bright lights chard, purple beans and crisp sweet onions - all grown by my husband - a triumph of persistance and slug pellets. 

Later he comes home all sunburnt and compost smeared after an afternoon on the allotment. And for a little while everything feels normal and I forget that I’m supposed to be forging another kind of normal. The one that starts and finishes with how it is today and not the one with footprints into the sunset..... 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

On A Farm In Wiltshire

2nd September 2012

Happy to be home after our break in the wide rolling landscape of Wiltshire. For a week we borrowed the lives of some lovely friends while they were on holiday. We were in charge of  their silk-eared dog, a sweet natured whippet. We walked him every morning and evening through grassy fields on the farm, along an avenue of beech trees, past velvet-nosed horses and home again -  always pulling on his lead, us trying to keep up.

Their five rare chickens gave us two bright yellow yolked eggs for breakfast. We picked pale pink tomatoes in the greenhouse and let them ripen to red on the kitchen window sill.

My husband sat at the beautiful sleek black piano in the music room, picked out tunes from Mama Mia and improvised his own -  bringing a new sound into our lives -  the possibility he could  start playing on the keyboard languishing unused in a cupboard at home.

My sister and her husband joined us for a night and two days. On the second day she helped me, with her big practical heart, decide what to do about our pussy cat who was getting worse in the cattery. So  while our husbands walked in wet hills, we made a mad dash back to Exeter on a pussy cat rescue mission and took him to our vet. This vet who has worked with lions and elephants in his own country, South Africa, called him ‘Big Man’ and gave him a cuddle, an injection and a tablet and cleaned him up. He said in theory he should be dead by now with the tumours he has. I think it’s all that love and healing he’s been getting from Fiji and other places...

Today my sisters and I and celebrated the birthday of a dear friend who is the brightest and most inspiring 80 year old I know. We sat round our table with other dear friends and shared fresh tomato soup, a roasted tomato tart, luscious salads and then a carrot cake with birthday candles on it. I feel so grateful for all this huge generous love in my life -  sustaining me, nourishing me......

Tonight the pussy cat leaks poo again while we are sitting on the sofa.....this is just how it is now......another lesson for me in  how to surrender.