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Barbara Lowe's Life with Scleroderma

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It was so beautifully put by Barefut: writers we are! And we owe it all to Carrie, AKA Jefa, for making it possible for us to express our feelings in a blog and not making the whole thing an unreadable sham,which would be the situation in my case.


Not since high school has my English been more called for. It's a long time since I donned my school tie and skipped off merrily through the gates. That wasn't the case -- oh no! in fact I hated school and everything in the classroom, even the teachers and most of the pupils. I hated the school uniform, the shoes we wore (well they were like walking on bricks) and the whole scenario of a boring Math lesson with an equally boring teacher. Much has changed, thank goodness, since then. My best friend happens to be a teacher and now all I wish for is to go back and have the chance to listen more carefully.


I've had writer's cramp this week. It's not that nothing has happened, in my life something always does! I just kind of dried up like other things I have going on but I won't go into that! I've spent far too much time in the greenhouse and as a result I've got a sore finger, so much for green fingers, eh! It's red and cracked and I can't bend it, can you hear me snarling? Anyway my plants are doing well, Yay! and I'm well on my way to producing self sufficiency in the veg department. I find myself glued to the TV -- the gardening channel. My daughter walks out of the room in a huff as I switch channels from boom, boom na,na,na! to some old gardener with a limp and slow voice explaining the knack of pruning your plums! Funny but I remember doing the same when I was young -- how boring was a gardening programme then?


I've learned a lot -- who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks, or is it something you evolve into as you grow older? The need to grow plants and potter around in a greenhouse is definitely a plateau you reach in middle age, I reckon! I never saw myself going down that road and here I am, not only going down it but sweeping it as well, with mucky nails and sore finger to boot!


I sat in the greenhouse yesterday, marvelling at all the little seedlings and urging them to grow. You see that's just me -- impatient! If I could wave my magic wand they'd be growing faster than Jack's beanstalk but that's fiction I know, but what a pity!


You definitely need patience! I'm learning to calm down and not disturb the soil to see if the seed has split, but the suspense is killing me! If they don't come up in a couple of days, I'm hovering over the seed tray with two little voices in my head --"Go on have a look, you know you want to!" Then comes reason, "Don't peek, be patient, they'll emerge when good and ready!" I usually walk away at this point as the temptation is so strong but I'll be back an hour later to see if they've sprouted -- what am I like?


So I'm an impatient gardener and an almost dyslexic blogger. Carrie can you grow things as well because I need some help?


Whine By The Glass!

Cheers! Barefut. Bottoms up! That whine certainly hit the spot! Oh how I empathise with you, although I no longer have that time of the month -- one less womany thing to worry about eh? I do however, have all the aches and pains of something we still share --Vintage Sclero!


The memory thing too has me wondering about my sanity. Things that I associated with the elderly or the absent mindness that a woman of a certain age falls victim too, are becoming too frequent for even me not to forget! I'm pinning my hopes on my age followed by sclero and hopefully not on the unmentionable word that won't go away since my mother died of dementia! Silly I know, to think that I may be going down the same road but when it happens to your nearest and dearest, there's always that nagging suspicion!


Battling with a cough and a nose which runs like a tap, I can also empathise with your situation. Do we not have enough to bear? Not only am I fighting battles of my own, but I'm battling my father's corner too! The fact that since September he's been at home no more than 5 weeks consecutively, then back into hospital for another dose of sympathy whilst I run around like the proverbial lap dog, visiting him and doing his laundry on a daily basis. Oh it's not that I mind, it's just that it's expected of me being the dutiful daughter. I drew a line under the present hospital stay because by my reckoning I was more needy of the bed than he was! Suddenly I'm the uncaring daughter who's duty to kneel before him is in question!


I'm just waiting for the first snide remark from his medical attendants then I'll let go! Do they realise that I run on rationed nuitrition and the fact that I may also be slightly ill. My dad has COPD so I'm not suggesting he's faking illness but loneliness certainly plays its part.


Thank goodness I no longer work for a living. I simply wouldn't have time to do all the things that are expected of me!


Tomato Bug

I can't seem to shake off this cold! Just when I thought it was merrily on it's way; it came back worse than before and dare I say has ruined my chances of becoming a radio presenter for this week anyway! I could hardly air my croaky, bunged up voice, could I? So instead I'll cough and splutter my way around until I'm germ free.


I have no patience with anything. All I want to do is sit close by the fire and it's a real shame because we've just had the best week of sun for over a year! My poly tunnel is beckoning me -- a new addition to my garden as well as the green house. I have lots of plants waiting to be planted but I'm afraid they'll have to wait until I get the better of this bug.


My tomatoes and cucumber are all at seedling stage and coming on quite well. A few more weeks and they should have more leaves and be well on their way to planting in the green house or poly tunnel. I get quite excited at the prospect of home grown tomatoes. The smell is awesome and one I remember from being quite young. For me to reproduce that same smell will be a test of knowledge -- let's see how much I did learn and how closely I listened to the old master which was my Uncle John, who learned his ability to grow tomatoes from my Granddad (His Dad).


I kind of miss the constant visitors who came to buy his tomatoes, but he did have 4 large green houses full of plants. I can see them now, all in a line with just a little passage through the middle. They all seemed to be suspended in mid air-- on string! and the smell- Mmmm! Pounds of little red tomatoes swayed on branches as you passed by and I could never resist picking one or two as I went. They were so good it was like eating apples. Firm and juicy not soft and squidgy like the ones you buy in the shops -- and the taste -- like the strongest tasting fruit exactly as they smelled -- tomato! no mistaking.


If I can re create that same smell in my green house then it's a tribute I'm willing to pay to my family of tomato growers. I've managed to get 50 or so seedlings from one packet of seed, more than enough to fill my green house. I guess we'll be eating tomatoes all summer long and I can't think of anything better -- can you?


Bunged Up!

So much for blowing my nose through a forest of tissue paper-- this cold is wearing me down. I'm bunged up, can't breathe and I sound like I've had a helium blast on account of my nose not performing. It could not have come at a worse time! I know that there's never a good time to catch a cold but when I'm on the brink of stardom in my own right, I'm gonna sound pretty awful on the radio!


It's an old cliché -- "It might be hayfever." A good example but I don't and never have had hayfever! It's just a common cold and I know that in a couple of days I'll be more like myself again, even though I've had this nuisance for over a week! My daughter just rang from college.


"Bumm, hav got a cold, by dose is blocked up -- all your fault!"


My squeaky voice echoed down the line. "Dever bind love, just keep blowing your dose -- ab sorry for givin it to you!"


Of course my hubby has had a much worse dose. You'd think he was suffering the Bubonic Plague with all the moaning he's done. Demanding chicken soup was one thing but I warned in advance that I would not mop his brow!


A lovely day in prospect. The place to be is outdoors with my germs instead of breeding them in here. I could always potter around in the greenhouse this afternoon and watch the world go by. My tomatoes need thinning, so too my beetroot. What a way to while away a few hours and think of Greece -- Hey! I haven't mentioned Greece for ages, so there, I just did!


Greenhouse Sanctuary

I'm having a bad day! You know it's gonna be bad when the blog I've been writing for half an hour, disappears in one click. Argghh, no! I can't be bothered writing it again!


I'm suffering from a cold --- sinusitis actually. I resemble a mucous projecting monster and speak like by dose has a clamp on id! But I saw Barefut's blog and her envy of my greenhouse and it sort of perked me up a bit knowing that I may have introduced a fellow blogger into a botanical and horticultural pastime --- yes the greenhouse is a very handy retreat!


When I've had enough of the world (or enough of my better half that is), it's sanctuary to sit and cool off however ironic that sounds. In my case it does both: my temper cools off, my hands and feet warm up -- what more could you ask? My little chair placed with enough room to stretch out and enjoy!


Having a greenhouse is a "must have" if you suffer from Raynaud's. It not only provides warmth but a break from doing nothing constructive. At the end of the day you may have an array of goodies -- if the slugs don't have them first -- and an attractive display for your friends to envy.


I think they should be available on prescription. Gone are the days when you thought the greenhouse was for grandparents and their prize dahlias. It's a health tonic and lifesaver!


Growing Pains

The sun shone and out came the masses. I've never seen so many folk wandering around in one day as I did yesterday. I think the bad winter drove everyone deep into their caves and the general feeling is one of hope and feeling the sun on your skin.


I was very much in the limelight yesterday; surprising how much attention one gets whilst in the garden. I wasn't exactly in the garden all day though; for most of it I was down the road with my spade and a bag full of bulbs to plant. My idea that next spring and indeed through the summer, there would be a parade of colour against the new fence.

My biggest problem was setting about doing it! Every time I stuck my spade in the soft ground a car full of people stopped and asked if I was doing a spot of planting? Well why else would I be stood, not in Sunday best but in boots, old jumper and pants that had seen better days, holding a bag of daffodil bulbs in one hand, spade in the other, if I wasn't about to plant something. Sometimes you have to wonder if nosiness is just all it was or we have a nation of empty heads!


I must admit that I resembled a scarecrow; perhaps they were just a bit curious -- but as the day went on I grew tired of people asking questions; even if I was about to grow something in my greenhouse. By 3pm I was the village celebrity, "She's about to grow something!" By 5pm I gave up, came indoors and wondered why I'd bothered entertaining the masses for free -- who needs local radio?


Today we have rain -- good news for the plants I managed to get in the ground -- and by all accounts I may get something done today. My tomatoes are growing, cucumbers are well on their way and I've put in peas,

carrots, cauliflower and celery. My potatoes are ready to plant so I might just sneak round the back, if no one is looking and put them in cautiously before anyone sees me.


My biggest problem is picking out the seedlings. I reckon I lose most of the packet trying to grab them with my stupid fingers. My trick is now to use more trays and less seed in each one so I can get them out easily.


I think the old term of "Growing Pains" describes my situation quite well!


Never Give In

I was asked to do a radio stint -- me to do a show?

I'd been doing it some years now so I couldn't say no!

Me to sit in the hot seat broadcasting on the waves

Who knows what new horizons this little action paves?

Okay, I have scleroderma but no one will ever see

I'm just a voice on the airwaves, little ole me


So I place the headset over my ears and then begin to speak

The microphone quite close to me, I watch the needle peak

I hear the music playing, my voice is loud and clear

It's kind of surreal me just sitting here

I'm talking away to no one, yet thousands hear my voice

I have to play the music of everybody's choice


I can't believe I'm sat here doing my own bit

They said I was done for, can't work -- not fit

Yet here I am in media, something I've never done

It's like a little battle fought and know that I have won

You're never too old to party, show an old dog new tricks

Well let me tell you folks I'm a DJ who lays bricks

I've built my own cottage, and so far made it through

Don't ever let the doctors tell you what you cannot do


I sit back at the table for I am mighty proud

See I told you that you can never be too owd

And if you think you're done for -- never ever give in

Coz each day dawns a battle waiting for you to win


Miss Pronunciation!

I'm gonna have to be careful with my lingo over the next few weeks. What can a person do when she can no longer eat, drink or make merry? -- swear; that's it that's my only vice!


Of course others would disagree but overall I don't think I'm that bad of a person. Okay, my accent may be a bit strange -- certainly strange if you're not from the UK! My "A's" sound much like "H's" No good when you're on the radio live on hair! I actually said this last week -- can you believe? I said "Beat some hair into it" I was referring to making a cake and hair was not on the list of ingredients. I think I need some elocution lessons!


The DJ had some problems with my simnel cake.

"Simmer cake" she said.

"No, simnel" I said.

"Simner" she asked again.

"No -- S I M N E L" I spelled back.

"Oh! Simel" she smiled!

"Oh forget it, It's a fruit cake with marzipan" I clarified.


It was quite a funny sketch, quite unrehearsed -- there with her posh DJ accent and me with my unpronounceable simnel cake, made good listening if you're from Lancashire, it's the DJ they don't understand!


I try and pronounce my English slowly but it sounds worse when you're trying to be someone you're not. And that's where DJ training will come into it. I think I have to develop a rather nasal approach and speak rather quickly with a bit of gobble-de-gook thrown in. Most of the DJ's I currently sit with, chew the microphone and sway on the chair whilst talking -- is this the specified requirement I wonder?

Usually the desk will light up with all manner of bulbs and then the phone goes wild -- how do you concentrate with all this mayhem?


One feature I will be introducing is Compost Corner and 80's 90's and Now; Compost Corner being a humourous take on gardening by my personal gardener Bill Tuttle -- fictitious of course! And the 80's 90's and Now run down -- 3 songs from that era back to back.


It all kicks off tomorrow when I begin my training. On air from 11 and then back next week co-presenting a show. After that I'm on my own -- oh, my! Then the fun will really start!


Do they know what they've let themselves in for?


Radio Ga Ga!

The phone rang constantly yesterday, in fact I lost circulation in my arm just keeping the receiver raised to my ear. When my my mobile rang too I let out a small scream of desperation! luckily it was a number I recognised from the radio station and happened to be that of a DJ's private cell phone, so I knew it was a call I must take.


I wasn't prepared to hear that I'd been chosen to host my own show. There was some talk about it long ago but I either didn't fit the criteria or it had simply slipped their minds I will never know but here I am panicking wondering what to do for my first show? I repeated myself several times, "I need some training." It's not all about playing tunes you know -- there's a deck with computers and all manner of switches just waiting to be pushed.


My hubby thinks it's just a matter of spinning a record. It's at that point that I remind him of his 50 years; he lives so far in the past, I'm sure he thinks we use vinyl 45's and 78's! Well since we are a local station without funding and most of the DJ's have certainly past their sell by dates and given the fact that we are volunteers, I can forgive him for thinking we use terms such as "Fan Dabby Dozy!" or "Groovy Tune, Man!" I may even throw in some floral shirts, moustaches, bell bottom pants and neon lights but this is not a 70's disco show!-- I always knew I had a face for radio though.


The deck looks more like the controls of the Starship Enterprise and we have a "Scotty" to boot! He's one of the DJ's on the Sunday show. I might just be screaming, "Beam me up!" by the end of the day! So you see it's not as easy as you think, this old radio job. I may be creaking a bit and I'm a bit grey around the edges but I intend to rock the place and I hope the listeners take kindly to me!


So what do you talk about for 3 hours! Mostly rubbish and things you never needed to know! I don't even know what the number one chart tune is at the moment -- no doubt I will find out! My forte has to be the eighties, it was kind of my era and fortunately there is renewed interest in music of that period. I can't do a whole show of Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet, though, so I'll have to catch up to date with my daughter's prized CD collection.


On the whole my hubby thinks it's quite cool to have a wife on the radio! My daughter just shrugs with embarrassment. I'm fairly sure she won't tell her friends -- I think she thinks I've finally gone round the bend! And with that I heard a great statement yesterday which kind of makes me empathise with it. Man flicks through his wedding album with his son. Son says, "Is that the day mum came to work for us?" I thought it summed it up quite well, although I think I'd add my bit and say, "No that was the day he won the lottery."


Now where did I put that Donny Osmond LP?


My nearest neighbour is three fields away, lucky you I hear you say! I'd go as far as to say we have no neighbours and sometimes it's a good job that we don't -- imagine living next door to a menagerie and a self styled DIY-er; I shudder at the thought and we happen to be the perpetrators.


Well considering that our neighbours are three fields away due south it's not surprising that we hardly know anything about them. We've got as far as their name and would recognise them if we happened to meet but that's about as far as it goes. I nearly crashed my car this morning when I saw a huge "For Sale" sign in the field as I passed. Not only is the house for sale but the land too and stating that it is potential building land. YIKES! My land lies directly besides theirs and is far bigger and dare I say more picturesque! I raced to the college in order to get back quickly to see if I was mistaken -- I'm not!


Now I'm not a Hooray Henry type conservationist but this is a sad day. It's not the fact that I shall have neighbours closing in on me, they'll still be three fields away, but it's another chunk of rural England being ripped up. My hubby's eyes lit up with pound notes when I told him the news, the fact that our land is now considered more of the same and eligible for development, got him making plans in his head far removed from roses round the door!


No doubt there will be much controversy and I for one will object -- my hubby will be well on the other side of the fence; the fact that he keeps muttering millions, is scaring me! I thought he was going to hand his resignation in at work the way he predicted the future at lunchtime, and when my daughter realises what it could mean for us, she'll have her coat on already, dreaming of shopping and fast cars!


I did a really sneaky trick, well you would if you were me I'm sure? I rang the estate agent and asked for a price, pretending I was a potential buyer. I'll stop the blog right here because my action as proverbial nosy neighbour has shook me to my boots. My head is buzzing and the likeliness to join my hubby over the fence is ever more tempting. Those millions my hubby had in his head weren't far out, put it this way, I couldn't buy that place if I won the lottery and it would take something like that to purchase it -- what on earth is our place valued at then?


I said I was going to end the blog and I am! I'll go and stick my head in the sand somewhere and hope it all goes away! -- Can I open my eyes now?


Green Fingers

My greenhouse is filling up with all manner of plants. I spend quite a lot of time in there with the excuse of warmth; in fact it's lovely to just potter around in a Raynaud's free environment for a couple of hours. My cucumbers are just peeping through but my tomato seeds are still sleeping -- I'd just love to dig one up and see if they've begun to split but that's my impatient side of nature and not my green-fingered one!


It's very blustery today and it rained earlier. The day looks more promising with blue skies over the horizon. The old saying "March, In like a lion out like a lamb!" I hope it's true? Fact is you can never tell these days if spring or even summer has begun because all the seasons are the same except winter is much colder! I can hardly remember when we had a really good summer, it must have been when we first began rebuilding the house and if it was then, that's 5 years ago!


I'm well underway with my usual day. Backwards and forwards, to my Dad's and to the college for my daughter. It's parents' evening tonight so I may just have enough time to sit down and relax once inside the college. Her report was outstanding -- see how I boast about that one! I can't ask any more of her. She's doing really well and I'm quite looking forward to the tutors' comments.


Ahhh! the sun. At this point I'm sat in the chair next to the window with the warmth beating through. I'm like a basking lizard -- recharging my batteries; in fact there was a documentary on TV last night about the hottest place on earth in Ethiopia. My daughter commented that it still wouldn't be hot enough for me -- I'd still need my jumper. She's probably right, I'm sure I'm the only person in Crete on the hottest day sat with my towel around me not daring to go into the pool and refusing cold drinks.


You'd think that by now I'd be as hard as nails and not feel the cold. I've had plenty of practice when you consider that my home is half finished and I still have a great hole in my wall. I'd defy anyone with or without Raynaud's to put up with my situation!


Well, in 10 minutes time I'm off on my travels. I've put my heavy boots on since I'm highly likely to get blown away in these gusts. I've begun putting on the layers; honestly people think I've put weight on when in fact I've lost a few more pounds recently. They reserve judgement now until I've stripped off my outer layers. I'd be a great participant for a slimming campaign, from hefty to zilch in minutes!


Okay, enough is enough, jumpers on, boots, scarf, jacket, gloves and a reluctant heart to go outdoors. Roll on summer -- I've said that before somewhere.


Mum's Day!

"Lazy Sunday Afternoon!" except it's morning. Today is special, it's Mothers day in the UK! Of course it's not quite the same now that Steph has grown up -- I miss the morning awakening; her excitedly jumping on my bed with a huge box of choccies or a bunch of flowers. Nowadays it's more "Here, Mum" and a card with a smile. If I'm lucky, I'll receive a box of chocolates or a CD of an artist both my hubby and Steph like, ever heard of N Dubz? -- no, me neither, but I know who they are now and guess whose room they're in in a CD rack? I drew a line under that one when I learned my hubby and Steph liked a particular group this year who drive me mad each time they appear on TV, aggravated Rap I call it, in your face and can't tell a word they say!


This year is different because she's got me a massage treatment at the local beauty parlour. I reckoned that would be the cheapest for her as a make over would cost the earth. They'd need a construction company in to sort my face out! So sometime this week I'm off for a massage. I can't say I'm looking forward to it although the prospect sounds like the best thing for me at the moment. I saw one of the technicians leaving the shop as we passed by. I'm sure she's a female WF wrestler or into Sumo or something. If she's the masseuse, she'll no doubt put me in hospital by the end of the day--- Just my luck!


The day is looking quite nice. Perhaps a BBQ later "Barbeque?" I hear you say -- "In March?" Well why not? this could be as good as it gets this year if I compare with the previous. I can't see us sat out, more drawing straws who runs out to flip the burgers. It could be quite fun! I'll keep quiet and maybe I'll get away with being an onlooker.


The geese are in a funny mood this morning. I've seen feathers flying past the window -- there's trouble in camp! The dog's keeping well away and I don't blame her. I guess this Spring thing is having an effect on all the animals. We awoke yesterday to a very strange noise in the loft only to find a pigeon was looking for somewhere to nest. "Hoppit, matey." I thought, the last thing I wanted in my loft was a family of cooing pigeons! to add to honking geese and bleating goats.


My bath water is running. Steph is with the Brownies this morning as we, parents that is, receive presents from our little darlings. 10.30 am we assemble, so best clothes on and an early start -- well at least it isn't raining!


Fairy Story!

"It's freezing mum!" My daughter walked into the room with a yawn and still in pyjamas. She shivered, rubbed her eyes and asked what we'd be doing today. There was only one thing on her mind and that was shopping. True there was a frost early dawn. My hubby moaned as he got out of bed, in fact he's moaned all week -- he has gout! I feel sorry for him as he limps around with a toe which is inflamed and swollen; it does look very sore!


He won't tolerate pity, won't ask for help and will not go to the doctor, so what can you do to help him? I read somewhere that cranberry and pomegranate juice is good for gout; also blueberries. I made a trip to the local supermarket and bought those items in the hope that they might work. He's spent the entire night on the toilet and the result is a total bowel clean out and an even painful toe with the amount of to and froing he did -- so much for my natural remedy then!


I'm not saying he's soft, in fact quite the opposite, but he does moan a lot more than I would I'm sure. I've never had gout but I feel like I have, wincing every time he does and Arghh - ing! each time he screams. It's like a comic book. Me with my infected tube site, him with a sore toe and Steph has a cold! The whole family is "Unclean" -- put an X on the door!


My daughter reminds me that the fire has not yet been made. My life mirrors that of Cinderella, but I'm not saying that the rest of the family are the ugly sisters. The only difference between me and Cinders is that the shoe never fitted and my Prince never came to whisk me away -- what a thought! So for now it's back to the fire grate. Thankfully, I don't have to rub two sticks together but the rest is hard enough anyway.


So before we freeze to death, my quest this morning is wood for the fire. Happy Days!


Speaking To Strangers

"Are those big white ducks yours?" asked a lady this morning as I posted a letter at the local post office.


"No, I don't have ducks," I answered.


"Yes you do, you live in the bottoms don't you -- have goats as well."


"Erm, yes I do live in the bottoms but those ducks you're on about are geese!"


"Thought so -- Are you rebuilding that place?"


I was in a hurry to get Steph to college, the last thing I needed was to prove justification to a complete stranger but of course not being the type to seem standoffish, I told her that we were trying to bring the place back to its former glory. I didn't feel too good either. A visit to my doctor yesterday evening proved that I had an infection around my PEG site and he gave me antibiotics. My sole ambition was to get to college and home as quickly as possible but somehow geese always get in the way!


I cut the conversation short as I hurried back to the car. My daughter asked who I was talking to and when I said that I didn't know, she scorned me with a reminder from her childhood about not speaking to strangers -- funny how kids bring back those little flippant warnings.


It's a grey day, far removed from the blue skies of yesterday. I went outdoors without a jacket and then realised I shouldn't have. I spent the whole journey to college with the heater on full. There's an old saying. "Ne'er cast a clout till May is out." I was victim to that this morning.


I had a strange number -- missed call -- on my mobile when I got home. I'm tempted to call it back but what I didn't need was a Double Glazing salesmen or the news that I'd won an exotic holiday to somewhere I never wanted to go. I reckon if it was urgent they'd call me back!


My fire is looking a bit pathetic and not giving out much heat! I didn't think we'd need the fire as much since the weather was as warm a Crete yesterday and the day before -- imagine that! As warm as Crete. I bet it won't be in a couple of months though. I'm hoping that we actually get a summer this year in more ways than one. I don't think I could stand another year like the last one and I'm beginning to sound so negative! I must look forward and be positive for a change. This house will be finished, my drive will look a million dollars, I will have huge gates, and more importantly no hole in my wall!


I've just planted my peas and sown my tomatoes, next I'll sow the carrots. I'm waiting for my greenhouse to be finished, guess it will be weekend before I can play with my new toy. There's something satisfying about growing your own veg although patience is needed especially when you can't remember what you put in and where! It's always a surprise in the end, thinking that those beans are actually peas and the cauliflower is really a cabbage. I know what an experienced gardener, or indeed anyone with a bit of the old grey matter would say, "Label the plants in rows." Well it's pretty obvious really but I must admit I like the suspense.


I've sown 100 tomato plants "What are we going to do with all those?" said hubby "We can only fit 6 plants in the greenhouse."


I hadn't really thought about that but I remarked "We'll have to get another greenhouse then," to which hubby huffed, shook his head and went outdoors. Must have been something I said. I don't exactly have green fingers -- blue ones to be exact and since my fingers are so cumbersome and not a bit dexterous any more, it will be one **** of a job trying to single them all out when they come through. Goodness knows how I'll be able to pick the seedlings up and place them in another pot -- 6 plants is probably all I will get out of 100 in any case.


Time is getting on and I've got loads to do today. Better go and feed the ducks -- er, sorry, geese!


Can't Believe It!

One of my pet hates is surely a trip the the bank! I can't stand being told where to put my money -- our money I should say! How is it that when you have a deposit over a certain amount, you suddenly need a financial advisor? The very fact you have an amount to invest, surely proves that you don't need someone to tell you how to do it! So when I went to the bank this morning, the last thing I wanted to do was wait in a small room until someone I didn't really want to have a conversation with burst in with an armful of paper under one arm and a laptop in the other! "Sorry," he said as he fumbled and juggled.


He sat down opposite and assumed that my cheque was going to be handed to him with a handshake. I held my handbag tightly, squeezing it every time he mentioned a long term investment. Fact is I just wanted to put it in our account to pay for all the building work planned for summer!


Why is it that I have a story to tell whenever I hit town? How can a situation like this give me anything to write about? Well as I sat facing this man, listening to his advice, he suddenly heaved and vomited in front of me! I was in a state of shock, not half as much as he obviously was and what do you do in a situation like this?


I felt so sorry for him as he sat with a red face and making apologies. Did I have that much of an impact on him that he was sick? or was it that I decided to stick it in a normal account, least ways I felt very guilty and wanted to hand him the cheque to make him feel better.


I left the bank after this sickly man decided to call it a day. I'm sure he couldn't have cared if I'd took the money out in cash and spent it on a once in a lifetime holiday or given it to the local cats' home! Anyhow I did neither, I just stuck it in our account and left!


I went to the market after that. I saw a little stall which sold garden equipment and on it was a spade and a fork which was very reasonably priced. Since hubby had broken the spade and bent the fork, I reckon we needed new ones, so I bought them. Fortunately it was only a short walk to my car and I giggled to myself when a man with a sense of humour shouted "Hi, Ho!" as I passed by.


I was quite happy to get home. I was missing a lovely day! My daffodils are out so it's officially Spring, but I can't get that man at the bank out of my head. I thought that I was the only one who could vomit in public, I'm quite relieved to know that this could actually be normal! Poor man, poor bank, poor me now I'm financially a bit lighter!


The Garden

Sunday Morning, perfect day for doing whatever you wish and might I add it's the perfect weather to do it also! Spring has certainly hit town this morning and I feel light as a feather -- who said that? Ah yes, Mr Scrooge! Well I share that feeling with him. Blue sky, sun shining, birds singing, are you getting the picture? I've been waiting for the daffodils to burst open, to me that's the first sign of Spring. It makes me want to get out there, roam the fields like in the Sound of Music, only I won't be singing, I'll spare nature that and leave it to the birds!


I have so many things in my head. I'm late putting my seeds in, tomatoes being one of them! There's nothing tastes nicer than a freshly plucked home grown tomato and it immediately takes me back to my childhood. Of course these days it's just the aroma when you touch the plant that sets my heart racing.

My granddad used to grow greenhouses full of tomatoes and cucumber! I have to admit that cucumber was never my favourite! I used to sit in the warmth whilst granddad picked all the little red tomatoes. Fact is I probably ate more than he had collected -- they tasted so good.


They don't taste the same these days. My granddad used proper manure not the sort out of a plastic bucket. He put chicken in the greenhouse in winter to scratch the ground and fertilise it and then in February he took wheelbarrow loads of dung and spread it all over the ground. Phoarh! it stunk so much.

Nevertheless come summer we had so many plants with this fantastic tomato smell filling the air. People came from miles around -- you have never tasted better believe me!


His greenhouses were Victorian, half brick and half glass. He had pipes all around which ran from a coal fired heater. He grew a grape vine and all manner of exotic plants. Whilst most kids in the 60's didn't know what a melon or a capsicum was, I'd had them and knew what they were all about. He grew most things veg. Carrots, potatoes, cabbages, cauliflower, onions, raddish, lettuce, peas -- oh peas! I'd sit in the garden popping pods of peas like eating sweets, they were so sweet.


Kids today can sit at their computers and we can say we never had anything like that when we were kids! We weren't so fortunate to have all this technology. But I think life was much better then and memories are much nicer when you remember the old folk and how life really was. I think we were the lucky ones!


Back In The Days!

Sitting here reminiscing makes me feel quite ancient actually! My daughter was asking me about my grandparents for a project at college. Suddenly all those lovely memories came flooding back and I remember asking my mum exactly the same question when I was young. My grandmother on my mother's side came from Ireland, my grandfather from a place near Liverpool -- they met at the docks. My grandmother was on her way back to Ireland -- funny, I can't remember her having an Irish accent. She was a tiny framed woman with a huge smile whilst my grandfather was tall and very imposing.


He was a farmer and had a small holding quite close to where we now live. He kept pigs, grew stuff and had hundreds of chickens. He bought this place in 1919 after he left the army as a cook in the 1st World War. In fact that was when he met my grandma, on the docks coming home from France. My grandma hated farm life. There was no electricity or proper sanitation here in those days and when the animals went to slaughter, she cried for weeks.


I remember as a child, visiting my grandparents. The smell of burning wood, new mown hay and manure still sticks in my mind. My granddad used to take me in his greenhouses. They were warm and full of greenery. And when the cows came down for their feed I was off like a shot. Those big thunderous animals with tails swishing and slimy noses, headed straight for the farmyard whilst I was somewhere up field. I remember being chased by a cockerel and then falling in a patch of stinging nettles wearing hot pants and a strappy T Shirt. Well it was the 60's!


My grandparents on my fathe'rs side, lived in a Lancashire Mill town. My grandmother's mother originally from Durham and granddad's parents -- somewhere in Scotland/ I could never remember him having a Scottish accent either! They were both born in the town where they spent their entire lives. My great grandma was head cook in a large house -- in service as it was called. My great granddad was a manual worker in a rubber production factory. My gran was a large lady, white hair, red face and lovely smile. My granddad was small, thin, black hair, quite Italian looking and walked with a stick -- no he wasn't Charlie Chaplin, but I could see the resemblance! Both were retired!


My grandparents looked after me during the week when my parents worked long hours in the cotton mills. I went to school from their little terraced house in the centre of town. There were rows of shops across the street and you hardly ever saw a car. My grandma cooked real dinners, made bread and cakes and the smell was just awesome. I remember a coal store in the middle of the house -- coal hole they called it. The coal man used to deliver each week. He used to scare me with his blackened face with only the whites of his eyes visible. If I was naughty my gran used to say, "If you don't behave --- the coal man will come and get you!" I was absolutely terrified but it worked and I was as good as gold.


I had the most wonderful childhood! Never short of anything. Okay there wasn't much in those days, but I reckon we did just fine. The farm stands in a sad state. One day I hope it will return to its former glory. It's a long time coming but we'll get there eventually -- Fingers crossed!


Window On The World

Must get a wall for that hole! The whole situation has gone way beyond a joke. It's mid March and I'm still waiting. This never ending house renovation is finally telling on my nerves. An adventure it is not, a pain in the backside is surely is! If I hear one more goose honk at he bottom of my stairs -- I'll shoot the thing! Being close to nature is one thing -- nature being close to us is quite another.


I have little birds fluttering around like I'm living in some kind of aviary. They build their nests in the rafters and then poo all over the place. There is an old saying "Muck for luck!" Believe me it's not true because if it was I'd have won the lottery several times by now! The March winds are playing havoc with the building. The blast of air you get in a morning almost knocks you off your feet. It's a wonder how we've survived one of the toughest winters for years virtually unscathed. I said to myself last week, "If you want it doing love -- do it yourself!" or words to that effect! I feel like filling the cement mixer and grabbing the trowel!


We've simply outgrown the two rooms in which to live. The kitchen and living room are the only rooms of normality. The kitchen by far is the best; the front room is okay if you don't look up -- the ceiling is unfinished. We have no central heating system and my hubby has burned a forest this winter on the log burner that continuously belches smoke from the chimney. I'd throttle anyone who scorned me about the environment -- one of my pet hates at the moment!


Supermarkets are guilty of trying to make me feel guilty! They package everything in plastic and then lecture me at the checkout if I don't use my own bag and choose one of theirs. It infuriates me and almost earned me a round of applause one day when I arrived at the checkout, was about to pay for my items, and the checkout girl asked if I needed bags? Well I couldn't put the stuff in my pockets could I? I answered "Yes" and she began a rehearsed script about how they were going to phase out plastic carrier bags and make us use our own, environment friendly she said!. At that point she tried to sell me a biodegradable bag in favour of the supermarkets own free ones! I shook my head and said "When supermarkets stop packaging everything in plastic, I'll buy an earth friendly bag"


There was nodding all round and I thought that other customers were about to cheer. She rummaged under the counter and produced the carrier bags without another word. So me and this environmental issue stuff don't get along. Sure, I worry about the planet, but it's someone higher up also needs to get their act together, not just me. I could argue my case for and against all day. I reckon I do my bit in my own way!


The wind is howling this morning and I have a lovely colour in each finger -- Blue happens to be my favourite! I'm contemplating making the fire and looking at the pile of logs by the fireside. My carbon footprint must be huge, but when needs must, I have to keep warm. With a great hole in my wall --- do you blame me?


Raynaud's Limericks

I'm turning into quite a fidget

Trying to get blood to my digit

My finger's gone white

My hand looks a sight

I think I might need a widget


My toes are feeling quite numb

I can't even feel my thumb

I moan quite a lot

They're the only ones I've got

No wonder I'm looking so glum


I look so silly in clothes

All you can see is my nose

With one woollen hat

What do you think about that?

And thick socks to warm up my toes


At night I sit by the fire

The flames jump higher and higher

No one can get near

When I'm sitting here

Won't move until I perspire. (Which is never.)


My skin is constantly blue

What would anyone do

People don't understand

That my fingers on hand

Are the same as my toes in my shoe


I really am quite rare

They tell me that I share

A strange little name

And you have the same

And I don't think it's fair


They call it scleroderma -- what?

A name that is easily forgot

They told me a lot

Just what I had got

But I couldn't remember it not


And I have Raynuad's as well

I guess you could probably tell

I have no circulation

Go white on occasion

If anyone's buying -- I'll sell!


I guess the gist of the matter

Is to remain as mad as an hatter

For humour gets me through

What else can I do

I have nothing else left to flatter!


Friday The 13th

Several cups of coffee later, seems to be doing the trick! I feel almost human, perhaps a little hyper but I've made it through the first half of the day with limited energy and blank expression. I never made it to the radio station, I had other pressing business to attend to. With panic over and a minor problem sorted I can now sit down and reflect upon the day.


It never occurred to me that it is in fact Friday 13th! Perhaps this may have something to do with my inability to run my life to schedule today. I feel pretty bad that I let the radio station down but I just didn't have the time in the end and family comes a firm first! My daughter commanded the early part of the day -- on placement at a nearby retirement home! My Aunt needed my help at the bank, not easy when she can't sign her name or speak properly on account of a stroke she suffered 10 years ago. It's pretty hard for me to remember her actual year of birth and because she no longer has any viable ID, I knew the whole situation would be quite difficult.


I didn't feel my absolute best -- I think you have to look businesslike whenever you want something from the bank. Tracing an old account was going to be difficult even if she had ID but having none at all except one sheet of paper with her name and address upon it and only limited speech was going to be nigh on impossible in my book. Well, we sat in the little office waiting to see someone. The script was going through my mind -- how was I going to explain this one? She has a small pension, doesn't know where it's going, we think here! Doesn't know how much is in the account, it hasn't been used for over 10 years and we had no idea of account numbers. I'd have said right then that locating the account was going to be a foregone conclusion!


In walked a young lady no older than my daughter and I began to explain. I could tell by the look on her face that we were going nowhere fast so I decided right there and then that I wasn't going anywhere until we had her money and her account details. Perseverance wasn't going to be my best attribute today and I think she sensed that because she gathered all the information and wandered off for what seemed like ages, returning with several sheets of paper and a sly smile. I was amazed to learn that I'd achieved the impossible. My knowledge of her past life matched everything they held on her.


My Aunt left the bank with a huge lopsided smile and was so overjoyed that the twinkle she once had in her eye returned. My good deed for today was achieved from an impossible situation and almost a dream. I've woken up since then in the satisfaction that at least one member of my family is happy on Friday the 13th!


Can't Get No Sleep!

Skip the coffee, sit down, yawn, stretch -- "Ouch" What a night! Tossing and turning one way then the other, hubby snoring --"Urggh!" -- Need the toilet, feezing floor, freezing toilet seat! I climb back into bed shivering and tug the cover back over to my side which leads to a huge groan from hubby!


One of those horrible nights that never end and every hour marked with a "Dong" from the old clock downstairs. The geese kick off and I pull the cover over my head. My neck is hurting, my shoulder, back, leg and even my little toe throbs with every breath. I have an acid attack in my gullet and I feel like getting out of bed but I'm tired so I keep on sighing and tossing until hubby wakes with a huge snort and angrily turns over with a sound like a wart hog!


So here I am looking like I've been out all night! My hair is spiky, in fact I have horns and resemble one of the goats. My eyes are mere slits and my head won't turn. Every bone creaks and cracks and I have to do a radio show! Sure I'll hide behind the microphone and no one but the DJ will see me, oh! but what a sight!


No mood to write this morning, in fact I'm not in the mood for anything! I might just be sleepwalking!


Learner Driver!

Yuck! Just made myself a rotten horrible coffee, or is it my taste buds that are not up to it this morning. I really should get out of the habit -- get up, kettle on, coffee!


I'm sat here in dressing gown and slippers waiting fer her majesty to rise, for she has spoken! "Mum will you take me to the shops?" The shops being of the clothing type, in the next town and accessible only by car.

Oh how I wish she was more advanced with her driving; truth is and she'd kill me for sure if I told you -- she's not very good! She's had 10 lessons on the road. I thought that she'd at least be able to stop the car safely -- I thought wrong. The fact that she drove from the local shop in 2nd gear and then raced up the hill towards my home with me pinned back in my seat, like I was flying supersonically! And when she slammed on the brakes at the gate I almost had whiplash, leads me to believe that either she's not ready for the open road or the instructor needs a good dose of my scorn.


Her skill as a driver leaves a lot to be desired. My hubby keeps asking "When are you putting in for your test?" My daughter just sulks and walks away! No wonder really. Of course the episode with the terror ride from the shop was somehow my fault as always with teenagers! I didn't tell her to find her biting point on the clutch, actually I was more concerned about the brake! I kept trying to explain that when you need to stop it's not always instantly. You can if you wish, slow down, use the gears and foot brake, but oh no, slam on the brakes, stall the car, get out and sulk. My days as a copilot are over -- better confront Mr Driving Instructor!


I'll be driving to the next town of course. My daughter thinks it's "Ace" that I can park almost in front of the shops. The only thing is, I use my disabled badges for the cause and although great for me, it's not so "Hip" for Steph. "Take em off Mum, that's Phil over there and he's with his mates and Oh no there's Katie somebody or other---Quick hide"


I'm not ashamed of using my badges but I find myself cowering and looking the other way -- Hold on what am I doing? Those badges are for my benefit -- like it or lump it they're staying and I don't care what Steph's friends may think!


No doubt we'll be coming home with bags upon bags of stuff -- all hers I might add! If I hear "I've got nothing to wear for this weekend," I'll scream. Her wardrobe is bursting and she's got drawers that won't close. I have all her cast off clothes in my room and there's no more room in my wardrobe for mine and Steve's clothes. In fact Steve's clothes are folded and stacked on a chair which caused a minor row last week when he opened the wardrobe door and several items of clothing fell out.


I have to admit that we only have the bare minimum furniture. I refuse to buy good stuff or more of it until the house is finished. Steph has one single wardrobe, we have one double so it's easy to outgrow. Never the less the clothing problem grows each week with Steph wanting something new to go out in, and before I condemn my daughter's interest in clothing, I have to look back to my teens and Yep! I was just like that too.


Back to the driving. I shan't be letting her loose behind the wheel today. My nerves have just recovered from yesterday. I've never approached my home like a guided missile before or ever sat next to a squadron leader. It was a wonder she managed to stop 1cm from the gate without hitting it. I think I'll drive into town and show her how it's really done. With clothes on her mind it will be in one ear and out the other!


Back to the drawing board I think!



I hate going shopping and with good reason too

I can't think of anything I'd much rather do

For once a pleasure, a womans perogative they say

Is now just pure torture on a cold blustery day


To stand at the stall grasping your purse

Perish the thought there's nothing worse

With hands like ice and fingers so numb

It's hardly a wonder I'm looking so glum


The pain unrelenting no relief will commence

Fiddling with coins and dropping the pence

Got rid of the purse with the horrible clasp

But still have a problem with coins I can't grasp


I feel so clumsy that much is true

I get odd looks when I'm in a queue

A wave of embarrasment whilst waiting to pay

I'm sure they are saying "We haven't got all day"


Fingers frozen, feet like ice

A hot drink would be nice

But I can't go to the cafe coz I can't walk any more

The walk is too far and my feet are too sore

My hands are just throbbing and home is so far

I think I'll get back to my warm little car


Standing frustrated--- "Oh silly me"

I don't know which pocket I put my key

With fingers so white I can't feel at all

And then all bags on the floor they fall

With onions rolling and out come my wares

A man beside me just looks and stares


A shoppng nightmare and all too surreal

That's how a normal day for me woud feel

I'm really no use when my fingers are dead

It affects my whole body and even my head

I act so stupid, folk think I'm dumb

Surprising what happens when your fingers are numb


Finally home and so grateful I feel

Driving the car without feeling the wheel

It's even a challenge to open the door

And I'm not going out any more!


Typical Day!

If there was ever such a thing as a typical daily routine, then I guess Tuesday has go to be it! The local outdoor market sounds like one to be avoided if you have Raynaud's especially in winter! So why do I persist in making a journey to the car parks, get out and walk round like I didn't have a care in the world. Of course my fingers by then would be completely white, numb and painful and no amount of rubbing or shaking would make them feel any better. I fumble with keys and always end up weighted down like a deep sea diver with pockets of coins and the reason for that is, it's easier to give bank notes than mess around for change in my purse!


I go to the cheese stall, my favourite! Real Lancashire creamy cheese, I buy 1lb. The lady say's "£3.62." I have a £20.00 note. "Oooh have you nothing less?" My pocket is bulging with copper and silver but my hands are numb. I smile and delve into my pocket, a wilderness of hard objects, must be coins or keys. I grab a handful and with it comes paper, a button and small change. I can't pick it up, my hand frozen like a statue.


"Can you take the money from me?" I ask rather pathetically!


"Oh look at your fingers," said the lady -- "Are they painful? I don't want to touch you!" She gently picked the coins out of the rubbish I had in my hand, counted it and then handed me my cheese. I felt so helpless.


"Shall I put it in a bag for you love? Here, let me help you!" I felt so guilty, here was I "Miss Independent" allowing someone to help me. I thanked her with a smile and then scurried off into the crowd.


The next challenge was to be opening my car door. I knew I had my keys somewhere in my pocket but which one? I rummaged, fumbled, delved, dropping my bags in the process -- there goes my onions! one rolled under the next car and the rest, well just rolled! My ham shank was wrapped but on the floor, so too was my bread and cheese. "Urgggh." The frustration. "Where are those rotten keys?" My finger scraped a sharp object. "Ah ah, my keys!"


My frozen fingers clenched the fob and then they fiddled with the key. Into the lock it went. I turned my whole body with the key like I was unscrewing the tightest jar. I picked my onions up, except the one under the next car, and placed my bags on the rear seat. The boot would have been a challenge too far.


On my way home the fuel light flashed and the needle pointed to almost empty -- could I make it home or should I make a trip to the station? The petrol station drew closer and my dilemma was turn in or go home, I turned in!


My heater had been on full since leaving the market. My fingers were still frozen and throbbing really bad by now. I really didn't want to put fuel in my car but what else could I do. To run out on the way home would have been worse. I switched my engine off, removed the key and got out of the car next to the pump. The wind cut like a knife, my hair blew into my eyes. The pump handle felt like ice and my petrol cap was almost welded on. I struggled. Tears ran down my cheeks with cold and pain, until finally the cap came off and I managed to fill the tank.


At last, on my way. The heater was warm and both vents were turned to blow on my hands. My feet felt numb too but since all they had to do was press the foot pedals I wasn't too concerned. My home looked so inviting until I looked at all the shopping on the back seat of my car. I decided to just go inside, leave the bags and get warmed up before struggling again.


Typical day in the life of a Raynaud's sufferer.



What would you be doing on a Sunday afternoon -- putting dinner in the oven, going for a nice drive in the car, even relaxing with a book or a soppy film on TV? Oh no not me! I'm putting beams back up in the kitchen, painting the ceiling and having one of those "If you won't do it -- I will" moments. I was venting my anger at hubby who without saying a word got out his hammer drill and blew off the cobwebs!


The weather was appalling and not fit to do anything structural outside. Not phased by another seemingly wasted day, I started moaning about the kitchen and the unfinished ceiling, not to mention the lighting above the cooker which was permanently disabled because there was nowhere for it to terminate. To say it was like cooking dinner in a cave is probably a good way to express it.


The kitchen had been left unfinished for almost 3 years, with wires hanging from a ceiling by a hair. My nagging finally paid off when I jumped up, grabbed a paint brush and manoeuvred 6 heavy oak beams into the room all numbered and ready to go back to their original place. For fear of making a mess, my hubby got the point and relented. It took a full afternoon but now I'm more than thrilled to say that I actually have a kitchen fit for a queen with bright lights which now show dust in places I never knew I had. I no longer have to rely on Braille to read my cook books or remove pans from the hob and place under the central light to know when a meal is cooked properly. In fact I need sunglasses and sun lotion under those lights and I never realised my hubby was so bald, not to mention the true colour of the cat!


No more expeditions in the cupboards or hunting for a utensil in a drawer that's been out so many times it's hardly worth putting back! My domain is probably the kitchen and now it's finally the kitchen of my dreams.

Now I realise that the only way to finish this house is to threaten my hubby with my DIY skills -- now where did I put that builder's trowel? I may even fill the cement mixer tomorrow, you never know!


I'm so tired that bed seems so inviting. Two jobs completed this week. Roses round the door seems a likely prospect sooner rather than later!