My Nemesis…

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I am sure that everyone has a nemesis of one kind or another.

Something that has never been easy, but seems to get harder every time you try to do it?

Mine is the massive hedge in our back garden.

Seven feet tall and nearly three feet wide, it runs the length of the garden, some 100 feet. What makes it hard to cut are all the different species of hedging plants it contains. I counted at least eight of them, and all with widely varying habits. Some grow faster than the others do, and some develop thick branches that my shears cannot cope with.

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I used to stand on a stepladder to reach the top, but over the years, this has become hazardous to put it mildly. The last time I lost my balance, I ended up embedded in the hedge in my attempt to avoid hitting the ground!

I invested in one of those decorator platforms and this was a lot safer and far more stable. All I have to do is not keep walking of the end and so far, I haven’t. It isn’t very high, so I still struggle to reach the top of the hedge.

Last year I actually reduced the height of this monstrosity by several inches. It was hard work and took several days, but for a while it made cutting it so much easier. It needs lowering again, unfortunately, something I am not looking forward

It must be nice to have a decent hedge, consisting of one manageable slow growing  specie. A hedge you could shape into something interesting, instead of an overgrown brute that fights back hard every step of the way.

One of these days, I will be too old to cut it, and have to pay someone to do it for me for there is no one in the family that could help me out, as they are all much shorter than I am.

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Just down the road from me is the perfect hedge. A truly beautiful work of art. It is cut into the shape of a dragon and has been for years. It must take a labour of love to keep it that way…

The Journey…

We are all on a journey, whether we like it or not, so we had better learn to like it.

Even love it.

But a lot of people never do. They think it’s their life’s work to hate and detest every single minute of it, ruining all the possible good stuff in the process. I suddenly realised I was fast becoming one of them, the signs were all there. Increased depression, lack of committed concentration and the most important one, the inability to relax and enjoy what I did have.
I really had to do something about it.

How can you get to be seventy- three years old before you have such an epiphany?
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I remember reading (and thoroughly enjoying) Valerie Poore’s book ‘Watery Ways’ about her life on a Dutch barge, and how it made me stop and think about everything I used to love about living.
Despite how hard my life sometimes was there were some of those simple moments mixed in there. You know the ones, where you feel ‘right’.

It seems a long time since I felt like that, even for a second. However, I came close this morning.

I always used to read for a while in the mornings those days, (gives my old brain a chance to get going – before I insist that the body follows suit.  These days I write, but the effect is the same.
For a blissful hour, I walked with Val in Rotterdam as she looked for a suitable barge to make her home and it was wonderful. I love water of any kind, rivers, canals and the sea, and I always wanted to live on a houseboat. The closest I ever came was a holiday on the Norfolk Broads.  This story, Lazy Days is currently with our beta readers!
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Two glorious weeks with the family on a large uncooperative boat that never seemed to want to go where you wanted it to, but I loved every minute.

I have discovered that when most of us look back at our lives, you only remember the good stuff in small bits and pieces. That’s what brought on my epiphany this morning.

I suddenly realised that I was guilty of trying much too hard, figuring that ‘more effort – better results. But trying to force something to happen just will not work, not even with the best will in the world. (and mine is getting pretty worn out nowadays!)

So, and I have said most of this before I know, I will stop frantically searching and studying for that one magic ingredient that will bring some measure of success  – and more importantly, I will stop worrying about it.

I vow to concentrate on what I know I can do (and enjoy), reading, writing, walking when the knees allow, and some craftwork, for the sake of my soul. And if I can get on a boat now and then, that would be my idea of heaven…

Best wishes and see you next week…

 

The Perils of Gardening!

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I always thought gardening was supposed to be a therapeutic occupation, soothing and good for the soul, that sort of thing and in the past, I have enjoyed the process.

Until I moved to Hampshire that is, everything grows wild down here and fast!

I have written about our herculean efforts to trim the mammoth hedge that runs down the length of our garden before and what happened yesterday was yet another battle. After another of our mad, frenzied bursts of ‘we will tame you and bring you into line’ sessions, we had chopped and trimmed everything that even hinted at being unruly, until we had a mountain of garden waste.

It was a good job done. Hedges and undergrowth were now of manageable proportions and looking less like an army of giant triffids was hell bent on reaching our back door.

But what on earth were we supposed to do with such a huge mountain? We had a garden waste collection bag, but what we could stuff in there wouldn’t diminish the huge pile in the middle of the lawn in a month of Sundays.

Then we remembered what we had to do last time. (yes, we had been here before, and swore never to let it get out of control again!)

We had piled as much as we could onto an old bed sheet and rammed it into the back of the car, once the seats had been lowered and this had worked really well.

This time, it took four trips to our local waste depot, but at least we got rid of it all. That was when we stopped for a cuppa and I surveyed the damage. There were three of us that day, but I was the only one bleeding. Most of the pruning chopping involved a thorn bush along with the proverbial brambles thrown in for good measure, and they hate me! They had fought back bravely, and my arm was a bloody mess, having suffered the brunt of the attack. I always wear strong gardening gloves, but maybe I should get some that reach my elbows!

Sometimes I wonder why we should be trying to reclaim what we consider to be ours. That maybe we don’t have the right, the garden is nature’s domain after all.

I usually love the wildness of Nature, just not in my own backyard, but I am weakening. I am getting too old to battle the brambles so I might have to settle for a wilderness I can look at through the window!

The Mind of a Killer!

 

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I am in the middle of a technophobic meltdown at the moment, and barely keeping my head from exploding with frustration. I want to take an axe to every piece of equipment in my office and take up knitting again. (not really an option!)

Everything computer connected has been driving me nuts for a while now. Crashing, buffering or just plain ignoring me. So I decided to change browsers. Don’t ask me why, but I thought it was a good idea at the time. Well, you have to blame something, don’t you?

I switched from Firefox to Internet Explorer, only to discover I was no better off, and in some cases, worse than before. And in the process, I have lost all my bookmarks, and several programmes that I use a lot, like Buffer and Grammerly.

It has been suggested that I upgrade to Windows 10, and/or get a faster hub, all of which sounds like madness to me, but might be the way forward one of these days.

So I have spent two whole days and most of my evenings, trying to sort myself out again. Nothing else has been achieved in the mean time and I am not happy about that at all. Right when I was getting everything uncluttered and streamlined to help my appalling eyesight and failing brain cells!

But as they say, this too shall pass, and the sooner the bloody better!

What passes for normal service around here will, no doubt resume sometime over this weekend, and I am truly looking forward to it!

Muddy Waters…

 

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Getting an appointment with my doctor is becoming impossible these days, as he must be the most popular person in Petersfield, that’s all I can say. For several days I tried, finally giving up and making do with another doctor.

I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest, for me and doctors don’t normally get on. I swear they think I am a malingerer or something.

To be fair, she did check me over quite thoroughly I thought and did her best to assure me that there was nothing in my head that shouldn’t be there. The earache and four-week-old headache were dismissed, as it didn’t keep me awake at night so couldn’t possibly be that bad.  I don’t think she believed a word about my constant giddiness and nausea.  When I tried to describe the way my brain seems to ‘slide’ sometimes, I could tell she thought I was barking. A typical hypochondriac with possible dementia thrown in for good measure.

I left the surgery with a prescription for something to help with nausea, and when I got back home, I checked this drug out on the internet. Turned out to be a strong antipsychotic, not be given to the elderly or anyone with dubious brain activity. Taking it under these conditions, they said, “could result in death.”

Needless to say, that prescription found its way into the bin a bit sharpish. Whatever is wrong with my brain will just have to get on with it, or go away. I know which I would prefer!

In an endeavour to ease my symptoms, I decide to cut back my workload and time spent on the blessed computer. The optician had offered to darken my reading glasses to help with the glare, so I thought the future could be doable.

Once I took a good look at the situation, I realised I was on my own, regarding my future.  Assuming of course, that I had one. It was up to me to find a system that would work, as the alternative didn’t bear thinking about. War had been declared between me and everything I wanted to do.

My eyes would grudgingly allow me a little time at the PC/laptop/kindle before throwing in the towel, so I had to come up with a decent routine.

The problem with my knees was more easily solved, a comfortable pair of kneepads and I was good to go. Something I was pleased about, for I tend to do a lot of work on the floor. (don’t ask!)

The constant tiredness, headaches, and arthritis would be harder to manage, but not impossible with the help of copious amounts of soluble paracetamol.

After a cold hard look at my workload, I realised I had far too many balls in the air, or irons in the fire, whichever you prefer. I had to get out the pruning shears and cut back some of the things that really weren’t getting us anywhere.

All that searching for the magic answer/angle had to stop too. My life had to be simplified if I wanted to come out of this mess in one happy piece!

A further post about how I chopped and pruned may well follow, once I get past the pain of deleting and unsubscribing all the dead or dying wood in my forest!

Happy New Year!

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Like last year, this year didn’t start too well for me, but I think I can finally see the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. I deliberately didn’t make any resolutions. Well, I tried not to, but they were all there in my head anyway, driving me crazy with all the possibilities.

It has been a year since they discovered a lump in my breast, a lump that turned out to be the worst kind. One year on and I wait for the results of my recent mammogram. Then two weeks ago, I tore a ligament in my knee, restricting my movements and doing little to improve the state of my mind. I am beginning to hate the sight of my local hospital!

The knee is feeling better now, after one of the most terrifying procedures I have ever been subjected to. The swelling had to be reduced they said, and out came one of the largest hypodermic needles I have ever seen. I waited for them to numb my knee first, but to my horror, this did not happen. The doctor swabbed my knee with antiseptic and plunged the 3-inch needle straight into my knee. I waited for the pain to blow my head off, but to my surprise, I couldn’t feel anything. What was this magic? Everyone had delighted in telling me just how painful it was going to be, but I honestly couldn’t feel anything.

After removing two full tubes of fluid, he injected something into the knee, saying that it would make the pain go away immediately. I was ordered to stand up, and then walk about, and he was right, the pain had gone. I could walk! I glanced at the crutches leaning against the wall, knowing I wouldn’t need them anymore.

Then it was the day of my oncology check-up. I was just two hours away from knowing if the rest of this year would be worth having. It had better be, for I’m in the middle of two books, and a ton of promoting needs to be done. Besides, I’m not ready to hang up my boots or anything else for that matter.  If I can just make these worn out old eyes go on for a bit longer, everything will be fine. (I won’t be escaping the hospital for long, as I have a cataract in progress, and it will have to come out eventually.)

Turns out that I am fine… I have a pain free knee and a clean bill of health from the breast clinic. 2017 was a bit late starting for me, but the sun has finally come out, and I feel the enthusiasm flowing through my veins once again…

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To celebrate, we have created a trailer for Anita’s book, Secrets. We argued long and hard over this one, but Anita knew what she wanted, so that’s what we did.

She would love to hear what you think!

Giving Up!

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It’s not often that I give up on anything. Being one of the most stubborn people on this planet, means that I usually persevere or (drive myself and the rest of my family insane) until I master whatever it is I want to do.

But giving up doesn’t happen often, and I am ridiculously happy to be able to say that. I gave up on a job once. It was well paid but strenuous, and after two weeks, I was forced to admit that it was slowly killing me. I gave up on my marriage for roughly the same reason.

What this usually means, is I regard it as a personal failure, rather than the acceptance that it was a mistake and not for me. It has to be my fault, you see, that I had to run away/or give up.

And yesterday, I gave up on my first mobile phone.

Sounds silly I know, when you consider that I have tackled the world of computers, the internet, self publishing and the vagaries of Twitter, to mention but a few.

I had wanted a mobile phone for a while. Everyone I knew had one, so they couldn’t be that difficult to use, I thought. What I didn’t realise, was you are essentially looking at a computer system in a very small box.

“Just charge it up and switch it on…” the attractive young man in Carphone Warehouse told me. Adding, with a smirk, that I could return it inside two weeks, if I changed my mind. And that should have alerted me. For if it was that easy to use, why would I need to change my mind?

I chose a Samsung, nothing too fancy, assuming it would be easier for me. It had a nice big touch screen, and I remember looking at it in the shop and wondering how on earth it could be operated with just the one button.

The first day, I opened the box and stared at the phone for most of the morning before switching it on. I was immediately assaulted by several messages – all requiring me to do various tasks. I tried to understand what they wanted, but after just one hour of insanity –I switched it off in disgust and not a little frustration.

I had been assured it had an instruction manual, but a small leaflet explaining how to change the battery did not cut the mustard!

On the second day, I tried again. After several attempts to enter the required information, I gave up again. Mainly because it logged me out after two attempts. I moved on to more interesting subjects, installed a few apps and explored a bit. But even with my stubborn streak operating at full throttle, I ended up switching it off again.

Undesirable traits.

The damned thing goes into stand-by mode every time you stop to think.

It also makes countless annoying bleeps, for as yet unknown reasons.

None of the menus appear to work, switching you to other screens as and when it feels like it.

I eventually found the help screen, but even following the advice to the letter, nothing helped. The instructions were concise but didn’t seem to be referring to my phone. And even when I found something to actually try, it didn’t work.

I was beginning to feel increasingly more stupid than usual, so I decided to quit. I didn’t really need some crazy, non functioning nightmare accessory to highlight my faults, so I put it back in the box and went back to my regular means of frustration. Most of which has already learned who was boss…

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PS:  Just a little mention that Books 1& 2 of Jaye’s crime thriller series ‘Lives’ are now on #Instafreebie !   FREE copies for everyone !

Click on the links:  bit.ly/2ifRwBU      bit.ly/2i930ah