Category: Relatives

Headless, Heedless, Reckless and Restless (by )

I feel a burning restless desire to just do something but have no energy and the thought of choosing anything is hard at the moment. I feel like I am wondering aimlessly - like my head has been cut off. I am just me but who is me and what do I do now? The last few years have just been absorbed with caring and doing and before that just surviving - it has been a rough run through grief and miscarriages and hitting my own mortality more than once and then both parents gone as brackets around a global pandemic. And I am still here looking at my beautiful family knowing it is only a fragment and that they each of them is hurting and fighting their own battles and a chunk of that - what ever they say is my fault weather through my fault be it genetics or circumstance.

My heart isn't just broken, it is pulversized - it is raw meat - it is a bloody pulp that I am not sure can be revived - I want my babies and I want my parents - but I have Al and the kids except I feel I am loosing them - this is only right for the kids they are growing up and I can not cling to them because the ones in-between are missing. I feel that I sacrificed my last bastion of motherhood to look after my Mum and yes I resent that and I know people think I am selfish for even considering more babies. I am just a tattered remnant now - I look at all the things I am supposed to enjoy and I just think "but do I really?" I am doing better with this but still not sure it is not obligation.

Alaric says they just want me to be happy but - what is happiness - all I ever wanted was to feel safe and secure - to not be in pain. Apparently that is not happiness and I have struggled with pain my whole life and I'm no longer sure that I will feel alive without it. What would that be like? No pain? I am sure there must have been times of no pain but my memories are riddled with it. Sitting on the wall waiting for a bus at 17 my back burning, standing doing my shifts at the Union at 21 my pelvis and hip aching, 11 year old me in a Guide game crying because to sit like that made my knees feel like they were being crushed. And I didn't know others did not also feel this. And just to ease it often robs me of thinking capacity as the pain killers space you out but then so does lack of proper sleep.

And I think of my mum and the pain she endured and I get so angry - incandescent and this rage... it scares Al - it scares them and they need me and I can't be there for them and I know this has broken them. There has been so much lose for both of us - during all this Al also lost friends and family members and had to make decisions they never expected to have to make. They said they are sick of me almost dying and they are sick of death - it is eating our lives this bereavement merry go round we have been living. 5 years now - 5 yrs of lose and medical dramas and it sticks in our throats and it is scouring our bones and we are tired. The year before the pandemic Al ran out of leave days to take for funerals - last year they had to have months of compassionate leave to help me look after my mother and it was harrowing - the thing we all found the worst was when she was calling for her mother and reaching her arms up to us like a toddler but it came and went and the week before they discharged her I was hopeful even when they took her back in after the disaster of a discharge - I still thought... it doesn't really matter... things either don't matter or the smallest of things seems so frantically important.

The sunsets have been amazing lately - because of storms and dust and climate change - things that were once rare - specific light and cloud formations are now a regular thing and they are beautiful and breath taking but they are born of turbulence. I vibrate now - it is weird and part of the Graves Disease from my understanding - my whole self just kind of hums and the dreams are bright and real and in those dream I am retrieving my parents from weird distorted gardens or trying to get out of zombie filled shopping centres whilst trying to retrieve children I have left behind and sometimes Mum is already dead and sometimes they sit up after embalming and they have trouble thinking and I see the photos of her from when she was young and I think of the person she never got to be - the person she actually was beneath the damage and that hurts most of all - because she poured those regrets on us in the last year - she told us about her loves and wants and wishes.

I wonder if the vibrations are the after shocks of turbulence - like there has been an Earthquake and the sea floor is still cascading as minute shifts in currents prod the now unstable surface and everything slips - crashing down into the abyssal plain smothering fledgling life that dared to try and exist on the edge. This is my life now - it is a new stage - a phase as yet unseen but I have no idea where I am going and I am not sure I am even steering. Our electric car broke down on Friday and I had to steer as it was pushed round the corner but really I was just making things easier for those pushing I was following directions and I don't even think it really mattered if I'd done it completely wrong. I am on that hummocky bit of the river after the full force of the rapids - but I don't know where the river leads so there could well be more to come or a water fall or slow meandering rivers or back waters that snag and down you.

All I know is the more you love the more pain there is to feel - there is no way around that - no way at all. So all there is is loss really. It grinds you away. Sometimes I think I am just echos of all those I have loved that I still love and that fill my heart and mind - they are there but where am I? What am I? How can I ever be? I have always felt I only really come into being around others - that doesn't mean I don't want to go off and have time alone but there are still those people there for when I return - I am still tethered - but now... I feel like a none person. I had to spend the weekend on my own and I realised I am 41 and no one can remember me being on my own in a building at night - not once - room yes building no... there has nearly always been room mates for a start from siblings to cousins to my nans to my mother to other students to Alaric to the kids to sleep overs with friends - so I went to invite people round for a sleep over and realised it sounded completely in appropriate and so I didn't send the invites and then I had to face being alone. My friend visited for the afternoon after I cracked and asked what are you supposed to do on your own? No really I don't get it and I didn't like it if I hadn't had the animals I am not sure what I would have actually done.

All of this I know is part of the grief but I am also really not sure who the hell I am and I long LONG to run and climb and jump and I know that is realistically unlikely at best - I watch my friends caving videos and I can't even manage weeding my own garden at the mo - for the first year since university I am not growing veg or herbs - I have planted nothing just scattered some flower seeds and bought already growing plants to pot up to try and make things look ok - but they don't because actual work needs to be done and sometimes I can't even get myself into a vehicle without help.

I am so tired but thrumming with energy at the same time - oh I want to go to the skate park and fail at doing stunts - I want to join the armoured combat group - I want to canoe in the canal.

Instead I plod along with crutch or sometimes crutches and slowly amass the kilometres to add to challenged I've paid to get medals from - I am walking 100 Km for a medal I've personalised for mum but it isn't even a proper charity walk or anything - its just a shiny medal I thought would fit. People like telling me what to do - I am struggling to even want to listen to them - I would say I am running of regardless except I am not but maybe this is the way to go - maybe the river knows - I was after all born of the Muddy Waters, I have the Estuary in my bones - I have found a part of the Severn to sit and be by whilst Mary is in dance and a robin has befriended me and tries to steel my chips - hovering in front of my face and I love the birds there - I see herons and swallows and house martins (well by the houses I do), and I get to see the mud banks and think about how I used to go down on the Thames foreshore with my dad and find bits of broken doll and weird green crabs that didn't belong and needed the warm water from one of the factories to live. I remember the big chunks of chalcopyrite they put in when the docks had gone and I'd planted trees there with politicians helping with the digging and how important I felt planting those trees were even though I had a huge chest infection and shouldn't have been doing anything - I remember my mums students doing an art project on the rivers and waters ways and how it was tied into those trees and then whilst sorting things for the funeral me and and my brother went to parts of it and my friend who works on it told me about the new larger project that takes into account the fens and marshlands and I just remembered my dad taking me to see the wolves in there large enclosure and how the one I liked to watch with their piercing eyes would trot over and look at me though the fencing and follow me as best it could and the walks learning about all the uses for nettles and that I don't think I've taught my kids to identify the trees well enough and that I loved the marsh with its hidden Iron Age footings and the little owl with apparent ears. And I miss all of this.

After Dad died I felt he was some how Old Father Thames - that was how I saw him in my dreams - but I live far from my rivers except it turns out there is a tunnel connecting the Thames and Severn so I felt/feel that that makes them one thing - but kind of not as well - I liked that connection and I longed for the sea and estuary during lock down and I love walking by the rivers and seeing and photographing their multitudes of life - I feel I am part of them - I am the will o whisp that is the marsh light and I am the girl who played in the river and went to the river ever day and who went to get their dad to rescue the kids who did not know or understand the river or when you should not go in. I first found rocks on our river bend and I dream of my river realm regularly - I showed Mary water plants so that they could know where not to tread and at my place along the Severn we were told the tide was coming in - that the bore was coming and so we waited and Alaric got bored and wondered off but me and Mary watched and Mary got excited as the mud banks were swallowed and I realised watching the calm shallows become chopping muddy hills of water - that this brackish world trapped and interlinking two worlds - the sea and the river - this is my world - with salt marsh to boggy patches of unknown depth and the wide wetlands with hill struck island and I feel the boats calling me and the reeds waving and recall why I love Wind in the Willows so so much though I probably am Mole.

The rivers gave me pebbles and pets that were wild from foxes to badgers to ducks to my new robin friend - and I am those cross currents and calm water turned to power churn - I can go against the flow or with - I can choose - but there is life and danger in this.

Recently as I walked down to the river to earn this gold heart with my mums name on it that is probably spelt wrong because I made it but thats ok because I always spelt it wrong I thought about Sabrina or Hefren as my dad called her and of how she is the river Severn and I can help but here the eulogy Alaric created from my mothers own words about the boats and the adventures here and dad had had and hoped to have again - the rivers connected but separate are them and I miss donning a wetsuit and swimming in brackish waters that tend to salt and going in little boats up the river. My brother is into canoeing at the moment and has my granddads boats - I wonder if he too feels this connection with the rivers and I know that sounds stupid but I have always been called to water as to rock and fire.

Maybe spinning around trusting the currents is the way to go and maybe backwaters and rapids all have their place though I would like very much to have my family whole and be picnicking on a sand bank as we used to do.

The Orphans Club (by )

My mum died in the early hours of May the 1st she hadn't really woken up for days and had mostly been in hospital since January. The last 7 months have been a strange kind of hell where there were no good decisions because all the options were bad. People kept telling me things would get better and I tried to explain that they couldn't because what ever I did there really was only ever going to be one out come. They did not understand.

In this time I lost myself and was just a conduit of care and rage - I don't argue, I am non confrontational and yet I have been arguing with everyone from drs to friends to family to my mother and even myself over what is best and what is to be done. We spent a lot of money getting a room and ensuite put in - a job that had been postponed due to covid - it was for my mum and we moved it downstairs and it was built as quickly as it could be. She spent one night in it - she liked it and I think it was important for her to see it and to see how much effort we had put in.

Stuck in a wilderness of ethics and unknowns it has been unbearable with visiting restrictions that changed on a sometimes hourly bases and days eaten up by sitting on the phone just waiting with the incessant elevator music droning away. Then there were the times the hospital lost her and didn't even know where she was in the hospital and the turning up when we were booked in to be turned away and other times when we were told we could not visit and then had mum on the phone in tears because we weren't there and the nurse saying of course we were allowed to visit...

Then to the arguments about treatment and capacity and what care was actually needed with me in the middle of a three way argument and having to make decisions I am not sure I was qualified to make whilst taking into account the medical information and my mothers wishes plus the added bonus of a respect form which I never saw that apparently contravened what she had always said. In the end all of that was mute as she'd reached the stage she'd always said she didn't want to be kept alive in and also the treatments had all stopped working.

She'd opted not to have invasive treatment about 2 months ago when cancer was found in her ovaries ie no operations - I was supposed to be phoned by the cancer drs and palliative care team but I didn't know this and it didn't happen - this was part of the last and most ridiculous and heart breaking discharge from the hospital. The genetics dr had spoken to me so I knew that the cancer might be hereditary and mum has 5 granddaughters not to mention sisters etc.. and of course me.

Her discharge was not explained and the ambulance crew had to explain it - she was to no longer go back to hospital but there was no respect for and even if there was we had not been given the correct care package to look after her - the care package that we had been waiting and waiting for and the fiasco with equipment and the arguments with hospital Occupational Therapists verses the Complex Care at home OTs and so on. It was a frigging living nightmare and we all paid a heavy price for it including the kids.

They wanted to take her straight back in but she was understandably desperate not to go so I said I couldn't send her back but the next day she was so ill she was asking to go back in - there is a lot more why she needed to go back in but I don't yet have the strength to share. She told me I had to tell what it was like and that I had to tell the hospital off, district nurses, carers, OT, stroke nurse and one lot of ambulance all agree that I do indeed need to tell the hospital off about this and indeed I have been telling them off in various ways and places through out this whole saga and that makes me feel awful as well.

Mum was grabbing at feathers we could not see as infection raged in her system causing an on and off delirium, she was asking for my great aunt and calling out for her mum. This was the state she'd been in in January so I still had some hope she'd be coming home again and I told her we'd make flower crowns for the Jubilee - mum would tell just about anyone who would listen that she'd been a flower girl for the Queens coronation when she was little and that later she had even been to a garden party or three and met the queen.

Feathers were so important to mum with a belief that they belonged either to the wings of loved ones or their guardian angles and when those normally white feathers float down our loved ones are near. We have pigeons nesting in our chimney and often feathers would drift into the living room - before the hospital Mum would always state that it was actually my dad or her mum checking in on us.

She asked for prays or a candle lit or song sung for her from those who are religious or spiritual - she believed it was all people finding God in their own way. She asked for healing - not for a miracle cure but to ease the passing. We have her favourite foods we rushed out and bought when they said she was being discharged and we have presents that she never got to see. Yesterday the kids automatically tried to get her a present to take to the hospital - they mostly got lost in ward moves and sometimes there were colouring books we hadn't bought which she asked us to give to the kids.

My friend phoned me up to welcome me to the orphans club - between us we've lost a parent every year in basically the first quarter for the past 4 yrs, plus the death toll of friends and so has been high. They joked that we needed to rescind our memberships and really if only that could be so. I am not going to pretend that death is this magical instance of nature that we need to roll with because it is crap and there is a hell of a lot of preventable death - but equally the way our society hides it away as a thing to not be spoken about, to be hidden to be mourned in the private - that is also alien to me and feels so very wrong. Dad would have wondered what impact this sort of thing would have on life extension tech and upload stuff, mum would have rolled her eyes at him.

With the jubilee around the corner I find at the time I resent the Queens longevity - not because she has it but because I am sure a large chunk of it comes from having health care quickly for the minor things so they never get to be the big things and also the getting of treatments and to be honest just good nutrition that people like my mum were not afforded in their youth. It isn't the everything but I am pretty damn sure it has a huge impact. Mum loved the Queen and Royal weddings her favourite actually being Megan's - we watched it together and there were flags and things in Gloucester.

Its weird for me because since dad died everything has centred on mum and her care so I am a little lost at the moment - what am I supposed to do - at the moment there are still phone calls and paper works but nothing like what it has been. But what do I do now? Who do I fight for or with? Everyone keeps telling me to focus on me and getting well - I became quiet poorly due to covid and trying to look after mum - I was already sick - I'd never recovered from the miscarriages and that plus dad going and covid and other auto immune things meant I got Graves Disease along with bought of anaemia and the worst pain and fatigue I've had in years. Chest pains, problems breathing and the sinking realisation that the help I needed to look after mum just was not there.

She had a stroke in October and they sent her home without the equipment in place including a downstairs bed our OT was saying don't let them discharge her but the hospital did not listen and it was horrendous and resulted in mums foot being injured as she predictably fell off of the make shift bed. The fight for equipment and the keep dropping off of the system was soul destroying and everyone says everything is everyone else problem - you literally get sent round in phone call circles bounced between equipment, district nurses, GP, ambulance, social services etc... round and round we go with computer outages and equipment stuck on ships in transit and waits for ambulances which beggered belief - 17 hrs I think was our longest for a high priority call. Some people where waiting 70+ hrs and though this is being reported in the news - the wait times mentioned are nothing compared to what we actually experienced - including for the stroke - the obvious stroke.

This has been a perfect storm of everything being wrong - including us as I tried to look after mum my hands and mobility got worse and worse she ended up with bed sores and infections and I missed how ill she was because I thought she was grumpy about me watching Marvel for my birthday instead of what she wanted to watch. She drove us made with Death in Paradise and I thought I'd never get the opening theme out of my head - but I had hoped that this year it would be playing on her TV in her new room and its absence hurts because we tried so hard but it was beyond us and I can't even really pin point why.

But not just that it affected the kids and we ended up in meetings with both schools as me and Alaric who's firm had given him a lot of compassionate leave to help me, were consumed with trying to care for mum post stroke - they said she was pretty much independent and were even saying she didn't need the help we'd been promised in September pre stroke but she needed help with everything - initially she couldn't sit herself up or feed herself - they said this was our fault for taking so long to pick her up from the hospital (but that is another story and involves promised hospital transport they then said they would never have promised and security guards having to help us get mum in the care).

The schools were fab, especially as both kids own health has taken a bit of a battering with autoimmune system problems being switched on and their own adjustments to that - but we were being bad parents with Jean ending up basically looking after Mary whilst we tried to sort my mum out. And that was before it got really bad - I ended up with social services offering me a care package as I got so poorly I could no longer dress myself but I kept pointing out what we needed was care for mum - why was it being so hard to get?

They dropped her off the list twice and I had to argue for reassessments - it went from 2 careers 4 times a day to 1 carer twice a day to none then back up to twice a day, to me agree to 1 once a day just to get her out of the hospital. When they finally did the assessment having been told 1 carer twice a day it was ruled completely inadequate and a failed discharge for so so many reasons like the fact we did not have the right equipment to look after her.

It is all heart breaking and she spent basically months in hospital crying to come home and then it was a complete disaster - and of course the people I would have moaned about all this too, would have been my mum and dad - but they either were no longer there or it was for them and I know I had them for far longer than some of my friend had their parents for and my granddad died when my dad was a teenager and I know it is nothing like that but still all I can think at the moment is - Damn The Orphans Club.

That Which Does Not Kill Us…. (by )

I used to write about "The Curse" a lot - so many damn things go wrong for us that it has just become a kind of on going sitcom comedy type situation. I tried to twist things round and be more positive and things were great for a while... then they weren't but it was the Head Injury and the migraines before it and the recovery and I generally forgot about the curse.

And of course this year has had lots of wonderful, amazing things in it but it is also a dark time for us. A sad time, a devastated time - the last 2 and a bit years have been full of tragedy and pain. I haven't felt up to sharing a lot of it... the people we are missing, the physical after affects of miscarriages and the shake up of domestic things to try and make sure everyone who needs stuff has it.

It is too depressing in many ways.

But I do want to be sharing stuff a bit more again - and there is joyous, wondrous and creative stuff in the mix but I am afraid that is not what this post is about - nope - this is about the crap!

Not the deep sorrow stuff just the crap.

Where to start?

Well my new computer (not new now I know but still not exactly old) has never really been fast and I have had issues with stuff just working on it, with email and the spam thingies stopped working on my blogs and I have over 20 so my emails got broken by all the spam, some of the blogs got broken with the spam, our wifi is periodically being blocked by something that likes to move channels and therefore follows our attempts to get away from it. This means that a) it as well as emails was hampering work greatly and b) has meant my phone bill is a lot higher than it should be because I wasn't checking what it was using and it was on roaming data whilst I was watching videos in bed rather than on our wifi :/

Yes stupid me.

I did amazing arty things in the summer and mostly it was absolutely a positive experience but some of it was really soul crushingly negative and had me not wanting to go to events and thing - such nastiness does not belong anywhere let alone the creative sector. This was multiple things and they all bundled up and have made me hacked off with Gloucester and I don't want to be hacked off with Gloucester - it is my home.

On top of that I still have not been paid for three different things I did in the Summer - let alone my autumn stuff - this has had ramifications and has seen me having to trek out to bank meetings - fitted in between physio for Jean and other medical stuff for my mother (I need to book my own appointments and just haven't managed!). Bank meetings where fun!

Here is the Facebook comment I made about it:

Due to multiple people having not payed me - I had to go to the bank to try and stop credit card spiral debt - I explained the situation but nope... they would rather lock me into a spiral of debt than give me a loan to pay off the credit card I'd had to put stuff on and then cancel the card - reason is they won't cancel the card but are worried I'd just rack the same debt up again as my spendings been erratic - well yes because I wan't paid when expected by multiple people and I thought the money would be through before the end of the first month and I am now getting to more than four months down the line and the interest is now more than I spent in the first place. I've found a way around this but only because I... am married to someone with a high end job and even then when I say sorted I mean we've just stopped the spiral being unmanageable but I'm still going to be paying the bank back about 4 times min what I actually spent - and none of this would have happened if I'd damn well been paid on time. I am so annoyed - I tried to sort it out the first month when it looked like the money was going to be on the card a while but we couldn't prove who I was - AGAIN - so proving I exist has been fun :/ I hate banks - oh and the spends where so I could continue working not random shizzle. Interest rates make a huge difference to debt management - hence wanting the loan - but also they don't like freelancers.

The support I've been offered from family and friends over this has been amazing but I feel embarrassed that it has come to this :/ And worse - if this was the money that paid the mortgage and/or food rather than DIY and festivities and vets bills and opticians then we would be screwed.

Incidentally I need new glasses desperately - the anti scratch coating got scratched in the summer - probably all the rock handling sessions I did - blooming meteorites! But obviously I have been putting it off until I get paid... and so it goes and goes around again :/

Wednesday was supposed to be the big Christmas shop were we go up to Bristol and make a day of it and see friends etc... but what happened was that I found 3 of our new hens dead. I have never lost them in a batch before which had me contacting hen experts and asking if others had experienced the same on forums and facebook etc... the conclusion is that they were either sickly to begin with - they weren't from the rescue org I normally go with and where a direct rescue via a friend so that was very probable or Mr Fox had scared them to death.

Illness in live stock is a serious thing and bird flues etc... can be passed on to humans so this was a bit of a stress and involved poo picking and of course a little hen funeral 🙁 Also just be extra disturbing some chickens have a tendency to have movement after death - hence running around like a heads chicken - they really can do this - I have in fact seen this as a kid but this was the first time I'd seen it in one of my chickens - it is very disturbing.

The dead chickens where bad and stressful enough but there was an added issue - the kids are supposed to check for eggs in the morning and feed and water the chooks after school - they are very slap dash about this so I tend to go out at lunch time to do a check up and remove any packaging from pellets etc... that the kids have left behind. So the chickens should have been found by the kids - obviously it kind of a good thing they were but... it means that the kids didn't check on them that morning.

I set a trap by which they could lie and dig themselves deeper but both independently told me the same thing - the crooks had been very "chickeny" moving about and chasing them for food but they had forgotten to do the chickens - I was actually impressed with their honesty and they were very upset about the chickens but the duty of care to the animals is very important and can not be shirked. This means they are not in as much trouble as they could have been but combined with some other things I had to call a family and put the entire house on chore lock down.

I will confess I can not cope with the housework and Alaric is great but is finding he can't even start helping with dinner because the kitchen needs cleaning before he can start so dinner is getting later and later.... so everyone has a semi screen ban - the xbox, blue ray and fire stick are unplugged and tablets and phones are rationed - for everyone - including the grown ups, including Nanny.

There is more laundry to do that before and I am trying to work and take my mum out on a regular basis - Mum has had two lots of cancer and is in her 70's and still heart broken from the loss of my dad. Domestically we are in a bit of a pickle as I try to fit another house into my already cluttered home - the kids toys are currently covering the living room being culled and sorted etc... and it is taking me forever because I too do not have motivation, time or energy and so have had to set a time when we all just plough into this sorting and cleaning. It falls to pieces every time I have to disappear out of the house for events - nothing gets done and that is something that can not continue - I have mobility issues and mum is a wheel chair user and we have had to have a stair lift and stuff fitted - things can not be left on the floor or in piles in the way - it's just not going to work and is unsafe.

Sadly this is a source of stress for Jean as she has a lot of home work some nights having started her GCSEs and it takes her ages and hurts her due to what now appears to by her version of the hyper-mobility that plagues the family. She felt she had no time to begin with - so we have had to sit down as a family and draw up a plan of exactly how this is going to work and work best for everyone,

So we didn't do our big Christmas shop - this is normally the big outing that gets the bulk food for December and January plus some treaty things and presents and is our family outing with pizza (I have jacket potato these days due to that whole not being able to eat the yummy foods anymore).

So that was Wednesday then there was Thursday - I try and take my mum out and about every other day but sometimes it's only once a week - and Thursday was the only day I could really do this an we went to Dunelm to get her some house thing - we ended up with house things too - because you always do when you enter such shops! This was an extended lunch break for Alaric who then has to make the time up later - but this seems to be working ok at the moment.

Anyway she decided she wanted to push the boat out and get her medicines by herself. So Alaric dropped her off at the ASDA as they have a pharmacy - this was the first proper out on her own that she'd done since my dad died in April.

Her scooter had been fully charged but then she didn't come home and I began to fret - it was starting to get dark - she didn't have her phone on her - it was in her bedroom :/

It was now starting to rain - I started opening the door to check for her - I ended up getting the neighbours to look for her... she was fine she'd gone to look at the cloths in ASDA as well but by the time she turned up I was frazzled and she was being sleeted on and was cold and wet even in her big yellow Mac and me and Jean just helped her into the house and were fussing about making her warm drinks and getting her dry cloths. When I went back the scooter was gone - I thought Jean and Al had put it back in the car... I was wrong.

The mobility scooter - my mum's life line to going out of the house had been stolen. From our front garden and taken down to the carpark at the end of the road and smashed up. Of course I wasn't going to find that out until Friday evening.

Friday I had been given the opportunity to attend a free training course and series of talks including on photography - it was also a networking event with free lunch!

Yay! Things were looking up - I was a little stressed due to running slightly late but my friend and co-story teller was also running late - in fact later than me so other than ending up in an awkward seat it was fine. And I got an entire pack of biscuits to myself - yay for the no gluten or yummy food thing - also the biscuits where yummy.

I met lovely people and was leaning things and had bought a blanket so I wouldn't get cold etc...

Lunch time arrived and I had HOT food and the session I really wanted to attend was after lunch. I ate my food and then took the lift down to the toilets - leaving my phone behind me because I am being paranoid about bad things always happening to me unless I have my phone on me and this was a safe space - so pikachu was relegated to guarding the note book.

I was saving my energy for the event so was using the lift - I am still having to use a crutch to walk any distance at the moment.

All fine... I get into the lift to come back up - the basically new lift in the refurbed historical site and it shonks out... "going going going going going up" reeeee "going going going..." The door won't open to let me out. Dude at the desk spots me and comes over and does magic reset and the door opens and I want to get but think I am just being daft - being trapped with no way out is a big thing for me - just writing this makes my pulse quicken and the panic in stomach and throat start. It's not claustrophobia as I am perfectly happy with small spaces and the trapped in space can be huge and I will still be panicking if I can not see an escape route.

Anyway - he's reset the lift so it should all be fine and I give him the thumbs up and up I go until CLONK it comes to rest almost exactly between the two floors - so that now I can't even see out of a window - there is maybe 20 cm of the window for the ground floor visible at the bottom of the lift. I hit that alarm button until muffled voices appear and the faff starts...

The events organiser appears and I have to tell him that I have seizures and the chances of seizures goes up with stress levels and I don't like being trapped. I say it all calmly and I was working very hard on calm because the last thing I wan't was to have a seizure and plus my instincts tell me to kick and climb my way out of such situations - in the natural world this makes sense - in a lift in a building that is not on fire - it doesn't

I end up sitting on the floor because standing up is too much hard work - literally my legs start shaking with fatigue and I am in pain and now sitting on the floor which I was trying not to do because I know the chances of me needing help back up are really high and Alaric is not there and I can't phone him or even play Pokemon go and there is a poke stop just out side - damn me and trying not to be taken over by my paranoia!

Any way the events organiser stayed by the lift taking to me to keep me calm and then the engineer was there and fixing things - but it seemed like forever - I think the whole thing was half an hour maybe 40 mins and the engineer worked really hard to fix the lift for when I needed to come back down but I opted to go slowly down the stairs.

I had missed the rest of lunch and most of the photo workshop but the talker gave me his contact info so I could ask questions later - I was shaky and got hugged lots. I was going to walk home to a) do fitness and b) to hatch pokamon eggs but I phoned Al and he came and got me.

Then we found the scooter was bashed up and then there was contacting the police and then Saturday we took Mum out in the wheel chair to a caftfair - we have to be careful with the wheel chair as Alaric has sciatica and issues with his back and Jean has issues with her wrists, neck and back.

The craft fair was lovely... the cafe however was very busy and our large lunch order.... well after waiting for over an hour they had to come and give us a refund as they'd run out of food!

Fortunately there was a chip shop but there were hanger issues occurring (angry because you are hungry!) - so yeah that is kind of where I am - it's been one hell of a week

Shooting Stars (by )

Last night I watched the Geminid Meteor Shower - my great Aunt died the morning before and I feel isolated and cut off from the family that surrounded me as a child - she was the last link I had to that really - to that older generation - we all knew she was ill and in her 80's but somehow it still sliced as a knife and I cried and I wasn't sure weather I was crying for her or crying for my nan or the child that was or something else but I just remember all her jewellery and sitting around the kitchen table and darting between hers and my nana house - they were in the council houses at the base of the tower blocks and my great gran was just over the road in the old peoples home and sometimes we'd all go and see her and take her food.

This year has had death and life in it sometimes that spell in-between did not even get to birth. And I am dwelling, the sorrows piling up and threatening to drown me and an apathy is calling as I see the pain once more of those who chose to leave transferred and intensified in those who they have left behind.

So many things to worry about and I can't seem to help stem the tied of hurt and pain and death, I am still trying but the trying is getting harder.

I made mulled cider, hot apples and chocolate milks of varying temperatures and invited people round - they were already invited but I enhanced and kept it that way so as not to disappear into a ball of misery. I had canceled the plans of the previous day as a void yearned and pulled at me and the tears poured from my eyes with both intensity and numbness and there was just me in a pool of warmth that I know was my husbands arms but I did not really see him.

And so I had to make sure we still did something so we watched the stars, my little ice gems of twinkling sky that I know are hotter than fire and ring like bells and the shooting stars are rocks that I love the crystal patterns of and the ripples of cold melt that coat their surface once they have - if they ever do - reach the ground.

When I came to try and write all of this, to share with others what the night of light smudged night was like, it came as a poem.

I watched the shooting stars with my family and friends, there were a few around at in the early evening though the youngest grew bored. The meteors were glorious later on - everyone else had buggered off including my family to great Morpheus or sleep or a warm bed at least - so it was just me and bits of burning rock from space and the mortality pain hit - all of this wonderfulness often over ridden by pain and anguish and all that getting to know the world and just as life fits like a well fitting shoe no long giving blisters - whoompf you are gone to goodness knows where - maybe riding the back of those steaks of light or sitting with the sky daddy, or to be cradled by the arms of Gaia or just a nothing.

I watched the shooting stars remembering that like me they too were star dust and named them after the loved until I ran out of names and then I beheld the others as the lost ones I could not or did not want to know, held them as the sorrowful lonely deaths because though we all ultimately face death alone some of us have to face life on our own in desolation and that is a bone chill blood curdle of a thing that slices at the very humanity of us.

I watched the shooting stars and they reflected in my tears for the losses of this and all years and tears of gratitude at the wonders and spectacles and love that those same years have also brung. I watched the sky rocks blaze. And then folded strips of paper to glow in the dark as wishes, they were of course what we have decided is a star shape though it is pointy and not spherical. Tonight again I will watch the shooting stars.

Mary Leakey – The Puppet! (by )

Cuddly Science has a new puppet 🙂 Mary Leakey - an paleoanthropologist who along with various other members of her family and team found alot of the early homonid fossils and moved our understanding of our own evolution on in leaps and bounds.

Mary Leakey the puppet reading one of her favourite books

Mary Leakey was one of my science heroes when I was a teen - during my GCSEs and A'levels I read all the books the library had or could get on her discoveries. And she was in the original list of ten puppets to make for Cuddly Science. My Mum and Dad worked on her mainly in secret for me, knowing I was uber busy with things.

Mary Leakey the puppet with one of her creators Angie Pym

She also doubles as a general geologist, archeologist and explorer! Which is just what I needed with various archeology festivals and geology based workshops coming up this summer!

Sarah Snell-Pym Cuddly Science Cheltenham Science Festival

The puppet was in fact barely finished before it was being whizzed off to the Cheltenham Science Festival to help explain the Cheltenham Hackspace's magic sand box!

Geology Puppet showing off the sand projector

This 3D projector that maps the sand contours in real time and projects and ever updating graded colour system on top was amazing! I do have video but haven't worked out how to extract it from my phone etc...

Geologist puppet is at the sand

We had over 10, 000 kids through the Makers Shack at the festival which was amazing and also exhausting! Mary Leakey and Ada Lovelace both enjoyed their outings and I have a hell of a lot more photos and vids to put up from the festival including trying to launch a robot into near Earth orbit! But for now I shall end with this pic of Mary Leakey chilling and relaxing behind the scenes.

Mary Leakey the puppet chilling behind the scense at the Cheltenham Science Festival

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