Daily Diary: ‘Stay at Home’ Day 3

Here we are, day three of our national ‘Stay at Home’ strategy, and I feel unsettled, out of sorts…

It’s not the being at home bit that bothers me, that I’m always happy with. It’s the not knowing, the waiting for whatever happens next in our global Covid-19 crisis, with no real end-game in sight. The thing is, it does seem inevitable that we all need to catch it at some point in order to gain our herd immunity, so it feels like ‘when’ not ‘if’. I understand the importance of slowing it down, stopping a peak of infection that our health services simply cannot cope with, but the sheer nothingness of waiting… just interminable waiting… is what I’m struggling most with right now.

I can’t help but worry about my family – in particular my two elderly parents both with serious underlying health conditions, who I already haven’t seen since the end of January as I’ve had a succession of annoying colds and things I was trying not to pass on to them for exactly that reason. But what if something awful happens to them and I haven’t even seen them recently? And then there’s my husband’s family currently in self-isolation at home in Louisiana, apparently one of the US Covid-19 hot-spots – right now that feels like a really long way away.

There’s also my own ongoing health to consider – I’m technically bordering on the ‘at risk’ category having asthma, and with everything I catch always going straight to my chest we’re being careful with unnecessary contact. Thankfully I’ve been furloughed from work, although my husband now works in a local supermarket so will be continuing to cover his shifts for the duration. The plan is to come straight in, have a shower and change his clothes before even giving me a hug, so caution is definitely the name of the game for us right now.

But in the meantime I’m trying to count my blessings and stay focused on the positives. We have a lovely home to live in, with our own garden front and back, and we live in a beautiful part of the world that is not overly populated. We always have a well-stocked store cupboard and freezer (an old habit from me living for years in the middle of nowhere with not much transport) and I love cooking, so we’re not suffering through no longer being able to eat out anywhere for now.

And although we now live close to most of my family (who of course we can’t see at the moment), because we lived in London for so long we’re all used to keeping in touch virtually so already have all those technologies in place so feel ahead of the curve in that regard, which certainly helps. So we’re all dealing with it all as best we can, looking out for each other remotely, virtually, keeping in touch and giving moral support as much as anything. As a family we’re currently sharing a strong feeling of all being in this together, and that is strangely comforting in this scary time of global crisis…

Weekly Prompts: Daily Diary

My Boy Next Door

Fandango’s Provocative Question asks this week – How did you meet your spouse, boyfriend/ girlfriend, or significant other? Ah well, now there’s a story to tell!

In 1973, the year I turned 10 and my husband turned 12, North Sea Oil was big business and my father in law moved his family from Louisiana to the North of Scotland to open an oil rig construction yard close to where my family lived. We became near neighbours that summer, and soon my dad also began working for the same company.

We were all friends the way neighbouring families are friends, socialising together in either our house or theirs, and when I was 14 and my husband 16 he fancied me but I couldn’t stand him. Then when I was 16 and he was 18, I fancied him but he was no longer interested romantically, but we stayed friends anyway.

His parents went through a very acrimonious divorce, and my husand left school and moved away. I stayed close to home and married someone else and had three children in quick succession. But still we stayed friends, and kept in touch. Stuff happened, I got divorced, years passed, life carried on for both of us and we grew older, but we always stayed close friends.

And then in our late thirties, we decided that maybe we loved each other after all, so we got together as a couple. We actually lived together for thirteen years before we finally decided to get married, and here we are seven years on, having just marked twenty years together, and this summer we’ll have been friends for forty seven years… 🙂

No Treatment…Just Tears

If only there was some kind of treatment for vascular dementia, but sadly there is not.

My dad is 83 and has had four strokes over the last few years, each one leaving him a little more physically debilitated, a little more mentally confused every time. Most of the time for now, dad is still recognisably dad in his own mind, but nevertheless occasionally his brain fails him completely with no warning, catching us all by surprise.

Sometimes he forgets how to co-ordinate his two walking sticks and two arms and two legs just to be able to walk across the room – sometimes while he is halfway across the room in question. Sometimes he forgets where he is even in his own home, becomes lost or disorientated, or thinks he is somewhere else from his past. And sometimes he forgets who we are, or how we are all related.

Sometimes he knows I am Ruth, but is surprised to find out I am his daughter. He asks my mum in confusion – if he is my dad, who is my mum? Yet at other times dad’s memory seems sharp as ever – well, to be accurate, as rambling as ever. I grew up more often than not being called Edith, who was my dad’s eldest sister. So to be called Ruth so regularly by my dad these days is, in itself, odd.

It hurts so much to see him fail, my strong, unfailing dad. Dementia is such a cruel disease… We all rely on a lifetime of memories crafted cumulatively in our mind’s eye to create our sense of self, anchor us firmly in the present. So when our precious memory fails us so catastrophically, when the shutters come down so suddenly, who are we then?

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Treatment

Hide & Seek with Monkey

Meet Monkey – she’s six inches tall from the top of her head to the tips of her toes, has little magnets in her hands and feet, and she spends most of her time hanging around in our kitchen. When I worked in an office, she used to be my office monkey but for the last five or six years she’s definitely been a house monkey. I bought her originally in the Natural History Museum gift shop in London years ago, and since we moved back to Inverness from London, she’s found a new fun game to play.

Every time our grandchildren come to visit, monkey is deliberately hanging in a different place, so they all run through to see where she is this time – sometimes on the fridge freezer, on the washing machine, clinging on to the back struts of a dining chair, and once even hanging down from the kitchen ceiling light – cheeky monkey! Anyway, when the grandchildren come to visit, monkey likes to play hide and seek with them.

The seekers stay in one place and the hider hides monkey somewhere in the house. Then the seekers try to find monkey, using a series of clues as necessary (depending on age) to help locate her – first which room she’s in, is she on something or in something, is she high up or low down in the room, and eventually we resort to the old trick of ‘cold’ and ‘hot’ to indicate proximity, so the game never grows stale or stalls no matter where monkey is hiding.

On Tuesday, we had a wonderful double dose of grandchildren visiting – eldest daughter had a medical appointment so her two youngest came to us while she and her partner were at her appointment. Then as youngest daughter’s son also had a doctor’s appointment later that morning which both parents hoped to attend and schools were off due to in-service training, her two girls came to us too for the duration. Inevitably we played hide and seek with monkey, and oh what fun we had!

So my Weekly Smile this week is the sheer joy of playing hide and seek with monkey and several giggly grandchildren. Honestly, it’s so much more fun than people hiding themselves, because realistically there are only so many places even a small child can hide – but a six inch monkey with magnets can get into all sorts of creatively clever spaces, especially when either me or my husband are the hider – and well-placed vocal clues help even the youngest join in as easily and enjoyably as the eldest.

I remember reading somewhere that we don’t stop playing when we grow old, but we grow old when we stop playing, and with having our grandchildren around I can see just how that might just be true! 🙂 🙂 🙂

Crochet Blankets and Me

I first learned to crochet as a child, ill a lot and looking for something interesting to do while I was waiting to get better. And oh, there seemed to be such a lot of waiting. My mum and my Grandmother both knitted a lot, but for me two needles and multiple stitches to drop created far more frustration than fun, and instead I found wielding a single crochet hook (thankfully only ever holding one stitch at a time) gave me the practical creative outlet I needed. It used up all their leftover yarn, too, so it was a win-win all round for all of us.

So fast forward several decades and I find there’s still nothing better for me as a winter warmer than sitting on the sofa with a growing blanket hanging off a hook, all draped cosily over my lap. As a result I always have several crochet blankets kicking around the house, all multicoloured, all slightly different, and all made by me over the years. Some are bigger, some are smaller, some are rectangular, some are square, but all are exceedingly simple in design. Nothing fancy, just warm and practical blankets we use all the time.

But sometimes I wonder if I could maybe try to make something else other than blankets, experiment with new pretty (usually meaning fiddly for me) stitches more, try following more complicated multiple row patterns that build up slowly, or maybe even try creating some delicate crochet lace? The older I get, the more I’m finally learning to have some patience with things that take time, so maybe now is the right time for me to explore developing my crochet skills further… Hmmm… 🙂

Weekly Prompt: Home Crafts

I Saw the Piggies First!

My maternal grandmother never learned to drive, so in her later years whenever we were in the car together I would generally be driving, with my eyes clearly on the road ahead. At particular times of the year along the road between my grandmother’s home and mine – or my mum’s for that matter – we would often pass fields of farrowing pigs (mummy pigs giving birth to baby piglets).

One of my grandmother’s favourite silly games during the journey was for whoever saw the pigs in the field first to shout out ‘I see the piggies first!’. Of course, being the passenger in the front seat, she generally always saw the piggies first, but nevertheless the game was played by all in the family with great alacrity.

Roll forward a decade or so since we lost my grandmother, and I recently found myself a passenger in my daughter’s car, driving along that same road on the way to visit my parents (who still live in the same house), and to my delight, although it was foggy I managed to capture a couple of shots of pigs in a field next to the road! Woo-hoo! Finally after all these years I have actual photographic proof that this time, I saw the piggies first! 🙂

Weekly Smile

Accommodate

One of the huge differences in living in a three bedroom house rather than a one bedroom first floor flat is having the space to accommodate multiple people at one time! Not necessarily for sleeping over just yet but definitely for socialising. We sleep in the master bedroom, the second bedroom is used as a computer room/study, and what will eventually be the guest room is currently a storage room (until we replace the old minimal loft insulation with thicker, better quality stuff, put down a section of safe flooring and store our excess boxes and bits and pieces up in the roof space).

We have a lovely square living room at the front of the house, and an open plan kitchen/ dining room across the full width of the back of the house, with a small conservatory leading off from the dining room. The conservatory is currently closed off for the winter months (and is still full of packing materials from our move that we haven’t quite got rid of completely yet) but in the summer it will hopefully be an extra social space to spend time in – and we can even overflow into the back garden!

But even without using the conservatory or garden for now it’s lovely that when people come round – especially our growing family – we have ample space to accommodate everyone without feeling claustrophobic and overcrowded. And we don’t have to worry about being too noisy and disturbing any next door party wall or above or below neighbours in the building either, because there’s only us living in a whole detached house all on our own – woo-hoo! 🙂

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Accommodate