Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Neither "Waving nor Drowning"


The past weeks have not been a total joy, however, I felt it was time to stick my head over the parapet again, just to prove I could.

The 'eye' problem is now resolved, three pairs of spec's in various places so I am never without their essential company.

A more pressing and longer-lived problem is a horrible rash on my arms and legs and various other parts of the body, huge and blotchy as well as a scattering of smaller spots.

They are itchy (though not unbearably so) and very very ugly.

They first appeared late last year, eased off a little in December and January and increased since then with no apparent cause.

Blood tests have proved unproductive and I am currently awaiting an appointment with the Dermatology dept of the localhospital.  Not holding my breath since waiting lists are long.

It means that despite several burst of very warm weather i have to remain 'covered up' or people will be expecting me to ring a bell crying "Unclean", or something similar.

That's my excuse for failing to appear in print  (self-absorbed or what?'.

Last week we had the annual quiz night with fish and chip supper, on Saturday 19th.  This unfortunately clashed with the 'close' annual BBQ.

Since i had committed myself to the quiz night some months ago there was no decision to be made, however, I miss having the chance to chat with all my neighbours.

The next day we had our usual Eucharist service - a very long one - an hour and 40 minutes, which left many of us wishing we could just go home and lie down.  This was not possible as there was an RAF Freedom of Aylesbury parade at which we sang Jerusalem.

This involved parading over the cobbles down into the Market Square to stand in blazing hot sun for over half an hour fully robed and al.ready with legs aching from the morning service.

It is an honour to take part in these civic services but I do wish it didn't always occur on the days when our long-winded incumbent decides to add endlessly to the morning service.  He has no concept of time whatever and nothing short of a fire alarm will stop him once embarked.

Right, that's the moaning out of the way, and something good to look forward to is this coming Sunday (Trinity) when we will be singing the wonderful "Hymn to the Trinity" by Tchaikowsky.

The clip at the head of this post is one of the many on you tube.

For me the alto part (really very low) is the most beautiful thing I have ever sung since joining St Mary's choir.

Sometimes there are compensations for the not so good days, this should be one.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

To Blog or Not to Blog?

It has been a while since I felt any inspiration to put any of my scrambled thoughts into print, but felt that perhaps I owed some sort of explanation to any readers i may have left.

Life has been more than a little trying in the past few months and I didn't want to pour out my moans and groans into the daily soup of misery most people have suffered this past Winter.

My Parkinson's has caused a loss of energy and the accompanying low spirits which would have made my writing a 'turnoff' for most people.

In addition I have had my second cateract operation and have not been very happy about the result.

My left eye (operated on last August) is my 'lomg-sighted eye and I have always used it to full advantage when out and about. 

The right eye is my short-sighted eye and i have always used it for any sort of close work and much more importantly, for reading. 

Imagine my shock after removing the dressing the day after the op on my right eye to find myself unable to read.

Neither library books, TV programmes, music (words and notes) nor any of the day to day purposes for which I have always used this valuable asset are now possible.

When I  had  my telephone post-op check-up I poured out my unhappiness at this turn of events adding that I had believed that the operation merely removed the cateract and replaced the biological lens with a clear glass one.  (That may sound niaive but was what I thought).

This it was explained to me was not the case as they apparently assess what they perceive to be the right level of magnification (or whatever) and use the appropriate lens.  Making the patient either able see well at close quarters or at a distance.

They had chosen to make my eye in essence, more like the left eye, and while the clarity of vision at a few feet is excellent I will now need to have glasses in order to read etc.

The consensus seemed  to be that the fault was mine rather than theirs for not making plain to them that I had always been able to read without glasses and would prefer to keep that faculty.

Since i had no idea what lay in store I cannot agree with that opinion but have to accept that from now on I will never again be able to simply 'look and see'.

For anyone who has always worn spec's the operation must be hugely valuable, for me it has cost me one of my senses.

It will be a few weeks before I can have spectacles made but meanwhile I am in limbo using a pair of spec's prescribed about 10 years ago for reading tiny print and never previously used.  Without them I would be unable to use the computer as well as all the aforementioned things.

Forgive me please for this long miserable diatribe, I'm sure this feeling won't last much longer and I'll try to be more cheerful next time.

Belated Easter Blessings to one and all.

Oh and the photo above is how I looked at 18 long before sight or anything else much, was a problem.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Balloon Birds

The awful weather we are currently experiencing has produced a garden full of enormously inflated and very hungry birds.

Anyone who has read this blog for any time will be aware that I am passionate about feeding birds.  All year long, and in bad weather almost continuously.

This is a very rewarding but also very expensive habit (I won't call it a hobby, it is much more than that) but there is a lot anyone can do without breaking the bank.

The colder it gets, the harder it is for their little engines to operate and thousands of birds die every winter from cold and hunger.

Their first defence is to puff out their feathers so they resemble little footballs.  Some of them tolerate any number of other species in order to have a share of whatever food is available.  Some sadly have few survival skills and need our help to get through the worst patches.

When I have filled all the bird-feeders and thrown out other odds and ends the next step is to search cupboards and fridges to see how to add to the feathery food bank.

In winter I always keep packets of shredded suet (I don't bake), and the largest cheapest packs of mixed dried fruit the supermarkets can provide.

Yesterday when the snow was really heavy I found a huge chunk of cheddar cheese cut it into small blocks and am feeding these (grated), a small handful at a time.

Whenever I eat an apple I leave at least a third of it which is also thrown out for the birdy banquet.

The bird-bath is frozen solid and will stay that way for a week or two,  but I pour a jug of lukewarm water on top of it a couple of times a day which stays liquid for a short time.

In the great scheme of things these are very small aids but may help some of our feathered companions to survive this bitter cold.

Please help if you can.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Under Siege

The picture on the left is a few years old but, today we have had just about twice the amount of snow pictured.

It has been getting increasingly cold for about 6 days and today it finally snowed.

Like much of the country we have had plenty of warning but it still somehow comes as a surprise that we can have so much snow so quickly.

Luckily for once, i had listened to the warnings and have done 2 or 3 hefty food shops. 

If it goes on too long it will inevitably show up the deficiencies in my planning but just for the moment, I am feeling fairly smug.

Having done my Monday morning stint at St. M's yesterday and shopped afterward I had thought all would be well for a few days.  I can cancel my Wednesday stint if need be but would rather not have to miss Friday evening's choir practice so am hoping it will be a bit better by then.

The TV forecasts are not promising (some even warning it may go on to the middle of next week) so we'll just have to hope they have got it wrong, or that the Siberian winds fail to meet the more Southerly ones which could cause mayhem.

At one time such Winters were the norm in our Island home,  but recent years have seen a slow warming up over the worst months and we have been taken by surprise.

As I speak it has stopped snowing and the sun has come out.

Really, is it any wonder that we as a nation are preoccupied with our weather?

I'll go and fill the bird-feeders while I have the chance.

Stay safe and warm folks, and spare some thoughts for those who have no such luxury.


Thursday, 22 February 2018

Throw your money away if you must - but don't let yourself be robbed

This is not a joyful post despite the picture.

February is not my favourite month and i hadn't intended to blog again until I was in a better frame of mind.

This morning however, the latest attempt to part me from my bank balance made me so mad I thought I had better get it down on 'paper'as it were, before I imploded.

8.59 am phone rings and is answered warily (rather early, not bad news I hoped),

Mrs Barn-ez?

Oh no, I really can't bear it here they are again I really thought they were gone for good.

"Barnes" I barked.

"Yes hallo maam and how are you today?"

"Fine, whatdo you want?"

"You have recently asked the Telephone preference service for help with nuisance calls, and this is to confirm that from tomorrow morning you will only get calls from friends and relatives and people you want to hear from"

"Good, glad to hear  it"

Much more of the same then they  asked me to confirm that my address is ...... and then asked me to
confirm that my Visa card is in the name of Mrs Ray Barnes.

My antenna immediately snapped to attention "Yes" I replied.

"And it expires before 2021"

"Yes"  I rep;lied

Will you confirm on what date it expires?"

"No" I replied "If you want me to confirm the date you tell me what date you have"

"You must confirm the date" was the reply.

"Not on your life" I said, and put the phone down.

The prefernce service is a free service and no one will ask for any financial information at all but i thought I would just confirm what they had already said (they knew my name address and phone number, so  I wasn't giving them anything they didn't already have,

They still know as much as they did before and not a thing more.  Much good may it do them!!

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Grace is my middle name

Anyone who has read my blog for more than 2 or 3 years will be aware that I am more than averagely clumsy, accident prone, an injury magnet.

This morning, house tightly shuttered against last night's howling gales I looked out, saw that it was dry (then) and opened the back door.

Big mistake,  It flew out of my hand, crashed back against the tumble-dryer wall outlet and there was an ominous crash.

I looked at said piece of plastic - or what remains of it from previous crashes - and could see nothing.  Not really reassured, the noise had been considerable, I poked around the back door-step and found a large triangular object on the ground.

To cut it short, it was a lump of my cat-flap old and yellowed but still in place ten years after the demise of our last cat.  I now have a dilemma on my hands.

Since it is set into the door do I try to find someone who can locate and replace it with a similar one, though I have no plans to take on another cat, or do I have to replace the door (double glazing as well)?

As it stands the door is now vulnerable to access by any large strong animal or even, I suppose a small skinny burglar. To say nothing of possible weather damage.

Enough for  one day I thought, went to get my shower, stubbed my foot (yet again) and now have a nice navy-blue toe.

It hurts, is swollen and is about the tenth time I have performed this particular trick.

Is a suit of armour the answer, or should I  carry on regardless but take our personal injury insurance.

Answers and advice welcome.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Prayer versus Performance

It is possible I may have raised this issue before but last Sunday's  eucharist reminded me forcibley that it is a very real bone of contention.

If, as I am, you are a life-long performer, old habits die hard.

Used to singing either as a soloist or as part of a group, member of a chorus or of a choir it seems normal to expect and receive applause after a performance.

Singing in a church choir is a very different kettle of fish, where music is an integral part of the service and some would say, a type of prayer in itself.

Therefore in the Anglican church the music 'happens', and is seamlessly absorbed into the liturgy with no recognition (at the time), though on occasions when we have sung particularly well, with a few compliments after the service.

On just a very few occasions - for example on Christmas Day - we have sometimes put in an extra item (The Halleluja Chorus) or something similar and received a huge volume of applause.

This is very heart-warming and is usually very welcome since this is after all, the culmination of a hefty programme of music over a lengthy and very tiring period of time.

Last Sunday, about one third of the choir turned up and for the anthem sang unaccompanied the work by Lully arranged by Bizet, known for choral purposes as "Far Away".  This we sang, though I say it  as shouldn't, very well indeed.

We were astounded by the reception, loud cheers and rapturous applause.

Although it was a lovely tribute it felt (for me anyway) completely out of place.

Which raises for me yet again, the old question.  Where does performance end and prayer begin?