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CFM Babs from Chorley FM


Brief Encounter Of The Third Kind Part 2

Posted by CFMBabs , 08 May 2008 · 826 views

Third day!

I organised a few little trips to several beauty spots and interesting places. I wanted to take Bill to all the surroundings where I grew up! We got along like Sister and Brother! He took his camera just about everywhere and the highlight of the trip was when we went to the English Lakes for a whole day.

It was one of the most enjoyable weeks I'd ever spent. Time just flew and soon he was returning to campus vowing to write as soon as he got back. He kept his word! We continued to write and when the winter holidays came round -- he came back up North to spend the celebrations with us. He gave me two music albums. The Sound of Bread --Bread and Simon and Garfunkel. I still have those very albums to this day, though nothing to play them on.

My friends treated Bill like one of the crowd. We all went out together and as disco was quite rife in those days, that's all we seemed to do. I was so sorry to see him leave knowing that this was his last year at college and soon he would be returning home for good. His home was Alabama. He talked so much about his parents, his home and what it was like to live in the southern states of America. He talked about New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico and I so wanted to go but I was 21, didn't have much money and I was rather shy!

He returned home in 1982 but true to his word he continued to write. Now the letters were even more special -- Air Mail! I still had the same sense of excitement as the little blue envelope dropped through the letterbox. I couldn't wait to read his news and couldn't wait to write back with mine! We continued to write. It was 1985. I was with a new group of friends and because I'd passed my driving test, this meant I could travel further afield. I met a very special person in 1981 but in 1985 I met my soulmate. I wrote fewer letters mainly because I was never at home very much. Bill wrote occasionally and then slowly they dwindled and then stopped. I got married in 1989!

The rest of the story is now history -- the birth of my daughter, then illness struck! It was 1995 I was beginning to suffer with what I now know as being scleroderma. The years that followed were what I like to call my wilderness years. Trapped in a downward spiral of misdiagnosis and sickness. I gave up a business that I started in 1996 but we bought our first computer because of it. I was diagnosed as having scleroderma in the year 1999/2000. All those years not knowing what it was that made me so ill.

There was very little literature and I was advised to surf the computer for information. I found this website, totally dedicated to the condition. I spent hours just reading personal accounts of ordinary people. I couldn't believe how close I felt to some of those stories. Times I thought I was going mad only to learn that other people had gone down that same route.

It was late one evening -- nothing on TV and my husband was working through the night on a shift rota. I logged on to the computer and picked up where I left off the previous evening. I came across one particular story which grabbed my attention with absolute awe. It was a caregiver's story and the name was more than familliar to me! The Author was Bill Jordan -- No! this couldn't be the very same Bill, could it? I read on and with every word I felt sure it was him. There was a photograph, I was sure it was him but how could I approach him after all those years?

That same tingle ran through my body. Like the very first meeting and the first letter I ever wrote. His email address was there in front of me. I pondered for a while and then took no time to write an email. If it wasn't him, I'd simply apologise and that would be the end of it. If it was, then I'd have found my long lost pen pal just because I had the same condition as his girlfriend.

My email simply said Hi, remember me? I signed off with my name and then clicked send! I checked my email daily, but nothing appeared from Bill. I began to wonder if I was wrong and now I must have seemed like a crank to some poor unsuspecting person. A week passed by and then one day it appeared in my mailbox -- Hi! I nervously opened the mail and there he was, my Bill! He'd been looking online for years, hoping to find me! And there I was only I found him first. Coincidence, maybe! Fate perhaps. I found my pen pal and now know that no matter where you are in the world, friendship always finds a way through.

The only two ladies he'd ever really known, both affected with scleroderma! How rare is this condition again???


Brief Encounter Of The Third Kind --Part 1

Posted by CFMBabs , 07 May 2008 · 752 views

Put a lined sheet of paper and a pen down in front of me and I can't resist it! I tingle with excitement. I don't know what it is, I've never been able to put my finger on it! I just love to write. I've never been a clever person, I flunked quite badly at school. Numerics were to me what letters are to a dyslexic person -- I often think that I'm dyslexic with numbers!

I could hold my own in English language. I was never brilliant but I sure could write a story, even if it made no sense at all, pages and pages of the stuff and I tingled with excitement even then, as far back as I can remember.

I left school in 1976 with very few qualifications. I started work on the Monday in a factory full of sarcastic women and egotistic males. I spent 15 indifferent years there until I left in 1991 to have a family. My interest in writing fell by the wayside. I had a baby girl and no time for anything else. She was my entire world and I was so wrapped up with love for her that everything else was just immaterial. I never remembered that I had a little secret, a pen friend in America! which began in 1981.

I was 21 years of age, unattached and not looking, but generally enjoying a very full, and lets say eventful life! I still had this passion for writing short stories alone in my bedroom, but I screwed many of the sheets up and threw them in the bin because I thought they were rubbish -- most were!

"I need a pen friend" I thought! so from that very moment I set about finiding one. There had been an advert in the local press which caught my eye it simply said. "Pen pals worldwide, send for a brochure" I'd never done anything like this before and I never told anyone in case they thought I was geeky or weird! I posted my request and sure enough I recieved a reply!

It was asking for a fee, a very small amount and I was prepared to pay to feed my hunger for writing. I never quite got round to posting my payment that week but strangely enough I recieved a reply from an American guy -- Bill Jordan. He began by explaining that he was studying in England and wanted a pen pal to keep him sane throughout his stay. I wrote back and never did pay any fee! To this day I wonder how they gave him my name!

We wrote to each other every week. I eagerly awaited the postman for the familliar envelope. We became great friends, it was like we'd known each other for our entire lives!
It was fast approaching the Spring break. Bill was spending the school holidays in his dormitory in Cambridge. He asked me to come down to Cambridge to see him, but I had a much better idea!

I asked him to come to Lancashire instead and spend the holidays with us. I didn't think for one moment that he'd agree but I was wrong and he was so excited about the opportunity to meet and stay with an English family. That was that! it was decided that we'd meet at the train station in Manchester and then take the next train home.

I stood nervously on the platform that day. I watched every person step off the train. We'd never met, never exchanged photos and the suspence was just awesome. Would he run a mile when he realised it was me? What would he expect, a beautiful blonde, a luscious brunette? I was neither! This figure walked towards me, rucksack on shoulder and sporting a bright blue jacket suitable for the himalayas. Was this Bill? He walked past and then stopped, gazed around the station like a little boy lost. "Bill" I uttered and this shy young man answered "Yep ma'm" I smiled broadly as he picked up his bag and came towrds me.

"Barbara, it's me Bill" His accent unmistakably American. "How are you?"

"Fine, did you have a good trip?" I was lost for words and couldn't find the right ones to say. I'd said so much in my letters, it was like I'd exhausted all my efforts in one fell swoop and was struck dumb!

"We need to catch the next train" I said, not wanting to sound too pushy and I pointed towards the ticket desk. Bill nodded and we bought two tickets home.

The journey home was quite reserved. I didn't want to say the wrong thing, didn't want to spoil the moment because up until then it was the bravest thing I'd ever done. I felt a strange sense of contentment mixed with a degree of uncertainty, it was a very strange feeling indeed! A blind date with someone I knew -- how strange is that?

We arrived home. My parents welcomed him into our home and in the evening we watched some TV and then spoke a little and then finally decided to go to the local pub. I introduced him to some of my friends and to English beer, I don't think he remembered much more of that first evening after that. He kept muttering "I'm known as one beer Bill back home" Well, here he was known as several beers Bill! because he sure took a liking to our amber nectar.

Another day and another episode! Bad head and feeling like he'd been hit by a truck! That was Bill's second day!


Mad Dogs

Posted by CFMBabs , 06 May 2008 · 742 views

Phew! Respite indoors -- are we never satisfied? It's true that the English prime topic of conversation is the weather. It's too hot, too cold, too wet -- never just right. Is it that we are a nation of moaners? -- perhaps!

We happily jet off to warmer climes and never complain about the sun -- oh no, because we know that in a couple of weeks we'll be back home to the freezing rain and inclement weather conditions. We bake ourselves in the heat of the mid day sun whilst other European buddies take refuge in the shade. The Spanish take siesta, so do the Greeks and we wonder why there's no staff on hand to serve us ice cold drinks because we are losing hydration under the heat. Mad Dogs and Englishmen may be a song but never a truer word was spoken!

My exploits tonight will be more brick cleaning -- actually we've progressed to stone! The old wall was 2ft thick, filled with even more stone and sticky lime mortar. We have quite a way to go yet before we hit the foundations and I'm laying odds that those will be very difficult to raise.

My hubby moaned through the night -- "I'm stiff, stiff as a board!"

And I, like the doting wife that I am, turned over and grunted.

"You'll be okay in the morning -- go to sleep"

Fact is, those stones are like boulders and very difficult to move -- Me, I'd have got an excavator on the job but not my hubby, oh no! We need to take it down carefully! Ughh!

Call me impatient but I just want it built. All this kerfuffle before we start is practically doing my head in! Three weeks, yes! Three weeks later and we're no closer. With a vacation to Greece ever looming, our home security is in much doubt. No point locking the doors and windows. Any mindful thief wouldn't have a problem entering our abode if he so wishes. I can't envisage him wanting to break the front door down or climb through a window if he has an open gable to waltz through.

I suddenly find myself thinking and worrying about this wall or rather lack of one!


Simply Spring

Posted by CFMBabs , 05 May 2008 · 703 views

Today is simply gorgeous! If you could look through my eyes you would see that I'm looking at a picture of spring. The birds are singing, cockerel crowing -- in fact my two exuberant males are having a competition for the loudest crow! The sun is just coming up over the hill -- picture this: Grass with a sprinkling of dew glistening like a dark green sheet of paper with a hint of dust! The old oak tree waving in the gentle breeze and a myriad of colours in the hedgerow. Blossom on the cherry tree -- pink and white. Soldier rows of rhododendron with their red, white and pink balls of flowers all burst and looking towards the sun.

A chicken slowly passes by the window with one, two, three, four, five, six ---- Hang on! where did they come from? Seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve chicks -- and I lose count! They must have hatched overnight! We had 5 chickens -- now we have more than 20 and another chicken sits in the cabin on ten more eggs.

The goose sits behind the old shed on who knows how many eggs? They'll be out soon. The goats are bouncing playfully and the two billies lock horns and crack their heads -- so much activity for 8am!

I love Springtime. The weather report suggests a high of 74 degrees today and I just want to sit in my garden and soak up all this grandeur. I'm crawling out of hibernation from a winter that was wet, cold and very dismal. No matter that my house stands unfinished, it will get there in the end! And even my huge hole in the gable looks kind of okay this morning.

Off we go to college! The short drive through the villages along the route. People walking with their kids to school, summer dresses and children chasing each other whilst parents chat with arms folded in small groups at the school gate. Gone have the brollies, the heavy coats and miserable faces. The cottage gardens are laden with blossom and sweet perfume fills the air, and those with time to spare are preparing the lawns for the first cut of the season. A traffic jam slows down progress to the college -- the usual hustle and bustle of a quarter to nine. Windows wound down and an orchestra of music from the young drivers thumps from every car.

"See you later mum," she says as she climbs out of the car and spots her friend in the distance. With face beaming she collects her bag and walks at pace towards a girl who's waving madly -- oh, to be young again!

My drive home is much quieter, and I arrive home to the solace of birdsong, fresh air and an occasional honk from the goose that bit my husband yesterday. Yes, they do bite! They have teeth.

Of course the denial that our geese do actually bite was thrown out of the water as he came indoors clutching his arm having suffered a nasty nip from that horrible gander. He never believed me that he was such trouble. I've been known to kick out on a couple of occasions, even grabbing the thing by the neck in order to prevent a bruise or two. Now he's had the pleasure of his mean side and I've watched my hubby take the long way around instead of facing the gaggle. That'll teach him!

Chair in hand -- garden here I come! Housework can wait. I have waited long for this moment! Happy days ahead, let's hope this is the first of many!


Still No Wall!

Posted by CFMBabs , 05 May 2008 · 749 views

Spring has finally sprung, my daft hubby said
Sure the birds are singing and waking me from bed
But to start a project of massive scale with all but full attention
We're taking down a gable end and part of an extension

Now not being gifted with all that many brains
My hubby set about the job avoiding any rains
But this being England they're never too far away
And when they start falling they're definately here to stay

The wind was blowing up a storm and dust flew everywhere
I had a mini sandstorm brewing on the stair
Every door we had to lock for fear of blowing wide
It was like being in the open, only we were inside

Every part of the house was creaking, the situatuon dire
It was almost 70 degrees outside but we still needed a fire
I could see the hills outside my home without looking through the glass
And anyone could look inside as through the fields they pass
I testify to see the stars I didn't need a scope
How on earth does my hubby expect old me to cope

Oh! hole in the wall I see thee, and wish you were not there
The house and renovation is becoming too much to bear
Roll on the day when it is done and I will call it home
I shall have nothing to say not even a little moan!


Starting a local support meeting!

Posted by CFMBabs , 01 May 2008 · 736 views

I've been thinking about this for a while. I attend a meeting in Manchester, which has roughly 10 members each month. We've all become great friends as well as raising funds for The Raynauds And Sceroderma Association here in the UK. I live some 25 miles from the meeting place and quite frankly it's becoming too much travelling for me of an evening. Sometimes it's quite late when I arrive home and then I don't feel like driving home most times!

I thought it would be great to start my own local group as most of the other meetings tend to be in the cities. I asked the Association for some help and they placed an article in the quarterly magazine which featured my request for a local meeting, plus my contact details. Last night the phone rang and it was my first lady who was very interested in helping to run the group! She said she was quite elderly and had battled with sclero all her life -- would she be of any help? I gave a resounding yes! I went on to explain that there are a lot of younger people with the condition who, without mincing words were scared for the future -- she was living proof that sclero can be managed and can live a full, evenful life if not healthy!

I'll keep this blog updated ----- Watch this space.


Pamper Day!

Posted by CFMBabs , 30 April 2008 · 749 views

Yikes! Must get some corn for my chickens -- greedy lot ate the full sack! I'll call at the local corn mill on my way home from my daughter's college.

Must remember to pay the coal merchant, need to get some ham for dinner and finish off a small project I started last night. There's piles of rubble all over the area and frankly I'm going to break my neck if it doesn't get cleared away. Last night was quite pleasent weather wise and a good opportunity to tidy the very place which will become my new wall. I did approximately 10 mins then had to sit down -- I didn't feel too good! I felt as though I'd run a marathon, legs like jelly and breathless. I felt so faint. I sat down on an old oak beam and couldn't move for a while afterwards. This has been happening too frequently and I'm getting a bit scared.

My nature is to carry on regardless, but is that being too harsh on myself? I ignore so much of what my body tells me, it's almost like my brain doesn't want to know. Give me the chance to do anything normal, although building isn't one of them, and I'll go ahead and do it whether I can or not! I'm so unrelenting.

I think it's time to give myself some TLC. I'm not happy being ill or suffering any effects it may throw at me but I think there comes a time when you have to give in to yourself and if I'm honest I think that time is now! I'm taking it easy today. The wall can wait, the cleaning can wait and my family can survive one day without my intervention.

I don't feel on top of myself at all and it takes quite a lot for me to say that! Perhaps I'm a little scared and who would blame me after spending almost 2 years in hospital. I thought I was doing well and by all accounts I was. My friends tell me I look wonderful! And I always reply "I am!" If anyone really knew me they'd realise that I'm not that good at all. I don't think that nearly falling backwards into a supermarket freezer is that good. That's what happened to me recently. If the frozen chicken compartment hadn't been there I'd have been in the freezer head first!

This business of partialy fainting is a worry because one day I just might go the whole hog and fall to the floor. Knowing me it will be in the most public of places and it would be anything but graceful. In fact landing in a freezer head first is probably the foreseen future, legs up in the air and probably the one and only time I decided to wear a skirt! My underwear will not match and instead of having my skimpy underpants on, I'll have on my polker dot Knickerbocker Glories that come up to the waist. My padded bra would be dented so as to make my chest look deformed like a deflating beach ball, I'd have this wierd look on my face and an attack of Raynauds the like you'd never seen. That's me in a nutshell!

Hooked up to my nutrition, and my lifeline strapped to my back. I've never had a life less normal for over 4 years and I can't remember how life was to be, well! -- normal! I couldn't envisage myself indulging in a whopping great meal for instance -- the very thought makes me gasp for breath! I can't remember how it feels to go out and have drink in the pub and not worry about getting slightly tipsy. The thought of that makes me clutch my stomach in sympathy. The fact is, any alcohol gives me pain and I struggle to drink a cup of coffee, never mind half a pint!

I think, on the whole, that I manage quite well! I keep my inner thoughts just where they should be. I shoudn't complain, there are people far worse off than myself all over the world and at least I'm in a country that provides treatment even if it's not always the best! So much to be grateful for and so much to grieve over. I suppose life's like that with or without a chronic illness so why am I any different?

TLC today and a good old pamper. If I feel sorry for myself -- I won't apologise this time. Call it lazy or just plain plain old selfish -- today is the start of me!


Useless Me!

Posted by CFMBabs , 29 April 2008 · 807 views

Sshhhh! The sun is shining, I must say this quietly not to upset Mr Ray! I woke this morning with more than expectations. The remainder of the wall, however small will be demolished today! So with small hammer in hand, little chisel, hardwearing gloves and a heart as big as a pumpkin, I set about taking down the last 10 or so bricks. I thrust my hammer at the chisel -- missed and hit my knee. The air was blue and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both! The phone rang so I limped indoors to find it was a spam caller -- Urgggh!

Back outdoors, knee throbbing, I attempted a second blow, -- Bang! -- Ouch! a piece of mortar flew in my eye, so now I had one bad eye and a limp. All I needed was a parrot to sit on my shoulder and a crutch to look like the proverbial pirate. I settled for a chicken who had waddled its way over to see what all the commotion was about, then left as it realised there was nothing remotely interesting and no worms!

I rubbed my eye which isn't a good idea but it's the only thing which brought relief. Tears began emerging down my face and then the mobile rang! I fumbled around in my pocket to the sound of a baby's laughter -- my daughter got me this cute little ring tone! I felt the situation was very apt considering I'd just turned slapstick on what should have been a relatively simple operation.

"Mum, don't pick me up early from college just the usual time, okay! bye!"
Mmmm! So much for any sypathetic conversation!

"Bye Steph" It ended with a sniffle and a trek indoors in order to wash out my rather irratable eye.

Third time lucky, I thought. My face was smeared with dirty cement -- I looked a proper twirp and awful glad that no one had come around to pay a visit! Face washed, eye half open but working, limp improving, I ventured back to the wall.

"Right you piece of rubble -- Have it!" I swung my hammer, hit the chisel and one brick fell away with ease -- right on my toe! Didn't hurt though, I had very good boots on my feet. I hit another brick and it fell away too, at this rate I'll be finished for lunch and I can proudly boast to my hubby that I demolished part of the wall today!

I'm aching all over! My shoulders hurt, my chest hurts, my wrists and my neck. I can feel all my muscles stiffening. I have a limp and a bruised knee, a sore reddened eye and a little blister on my thumb -- I'm useless! 10 bricks later and my contribution has ended. So much for my demolition day, but I have the scars to prove that I did actually do my bit, although it was actually, only a bit!

My hubby will come home and ask if the wall has gone. I'll say yes! but I hurt myself in the process. He will say, "Well you should have waited until I got home" No sympathy, no thanks and in the next breath he will say "What's for dinner?"

Builder, blogger, mother, wife and head cook! That's me! Would I have it any other way? Well perhaps I'd like my house to be finished, not to have scleroderma and to be able to do a day's work without any pain. So yes! I'd like that but would I swap my life? No, not a chance!


Kill or Cure!

Posted by CFMBabs , 28 April 2008 · 726 views

Just when you thought it was safe -- the weather turns back to winter! My Gran always used to say, "Never cast a clout till May is out" She was right of course but then, she always was! We've lost the old values of our grandparents, so many "Old Wives Tales" happen to be true! Like the month of March -- Comes in like a Lion, goes out like a Lamb! It did! And now we've got April showers that will probably last till September!

There happened to be many berries on the trees last fall. Their significance bearing a bad winter, and for once the statement was right. Too many buds will spoil the fruit -- scientifically proven to effect yield!

I wonder what she would make of my condition, no doubt it would be because of my choice of attire that I feel cold so frequently. I guess she would sit smugly in her chair with a wry smile,"I told you so!"
As a child I remember the things she used to do and say. I can remember walking around with a long sock and a warm onion placed inside, unceremoniously strapped around my neck! This pagan cure was for a sore throat and it worked as far as I can remember because you never admitted to having one once you'd had the treatment! A cure for sure!

Warm bread an milk for a cold, warm lemonade for flu, and when I had chicken pox I was covered head to toe in calamine. I looked very much like a mummy, but the embarrasment of it all kept me indoors until all the sores had healed. Butter! for a bump on the head. A greasy spot of the stuff smeared over the forehead, it stunk and it made your hair an oily mess. My grandma was medievel but a national treasure!

Eating too many nuts would give me an appendicitis. Too many sweets, not rotten teeth but worms! And a finger wagging warning, "You wouldn't want to have them!" Cutting my toenails would give me gangrene, washing my hair too much would give me a head cold and too many baths pneumonia!

When I look back, it's no wonder I'm ill! If I wasn't I'd be an hypochondriac. Just imagine going to the doctor with those kind of statements. I'd be sectioned for sure! Kill or cure was the one thing my Gran lived by. I wish she was still here, life would be so much more interesting!


Wet Sunday!

Posted by CFMBabs , 27 April 2008 · 755 views

Wet Sunday morning, expectations are low
The day will never get going it has no place to go
All the plans we made last night suddenly in free fall
We'll never finish this old house or that stupid wall

Puddles of dirty water collect in driven rain
looks like the sun will never come out again
This is good old England I say! as I squeeze my sodden mop
When it starts raining here, it doesn't know when to stop!

The skies look grey and heavy, and the outlook isn't good
All we need is a thunderstorm and then there'll be a flood
It's not a wall we'll be building but a ship to be precise
And all that's left to stop us is a bit of snow and ice.

My motto in life is no regrets but I'm afraid I have to yield
A great big hole on my landing staring into the field
It isn't very private and boy! there is a draught
To take away the gable seems to be quite daft

All in the cause of renovation that never seems to end
A huge and timely project for us to try and mend.

Rain, Rain go away and please give us some sun
Cause bulding in the pouring rain sure is no fun!

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