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Archive for the ‘better spirits’ Category

A week ago I managed to grab a few days by the sea, courtesy of my sister and brother-in-law:)

Exhausted by the constant round of health practitioners, I was worn out and desperate for some ‘down’ time.  When I finally arrived and unpacked, I fell into bed with a good book, and believe it or not, there I remained for 36 hours.  I ached in every muscle and was just too tired to do anything but sleep and read.  Luckily I had taken home-made soup, burgers and veg/salad so had no need to go out unless I wanted to.

However, I finally came ’round’ and was able to relax and enjoy the fabulous view from their windows.

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It is such a pretty and comfortable caravan with stunning views:

 

A walk round the site and the surrounding countryside gave an overview of the site itself:

It is a mature site with hedges and trees surrounding the caravans which is lovely!!

In some sheltered sunny spots I saw lots of butterflies, Red Admirals in particular.

 

 

And one can walk directly from the caravan on to the cliff path through lovely countryside towards Bempton Cliffs which is an RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) site, of which I am a member.  We had violent winds and rain for part of each day, followed by glorious sunshine.  Which, of course, gave us lots of rainbows.  This was the view from the Dining Area of the Caravan of one such, looking towards Bempton Cliffs:

 

 

Of course I took myself for a happy day’s bird watching:

 

 

 

 

 

There is a huge colony of Gannets, but I also saw Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Herring Gulls and others which I did not stop to identify, as I was just glorying in walking and smelling and watching, in the sunshine and the wind and the sea air.

In this next one I can actually see some of the colours which Monet saw in water, all the purples, aquamarines, mauves, greens and blues.

 

On one day I went to Flamborough village and bought fresh fish from a fisherman, and it was simply gorgeous.  I bought some fresh runner beans from the local greengrocer and had a super chat with both her and another customer about goose eggs.  Then I called into the local coffee shop for a cup of tea and some homemade tea-bread: dogs were allowed in which was fun and a pleasant change from all the ghastly health and safety hype.  How can you ever develop a good immune system without coming into contact with germs?

All in all, I had a wonderfully relaxed trip with no unexpected events (bliss) except that one very sad and lonely widower propositioned me!!  He said he was looking for a rich widow, and I could truthfully explain that I was neither:)

Ho hum, I rather thought that I was safely past the age when such things could happen!!

 

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. . . and still on the Rollercoaster, but I think I am now travelling up one curve at the moment: fingers crossed that we continue slowly to the top and plateau there for a good long time.

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I have worked hard and made some decisions and am feeling rather better.  But am under no illusions.  At least, I don’t think so.

After further research, and following messages and comments so kindly sent to me, I have made appointments with several people.

  1.   PTSD – I found a lady on the internet whose website I really liked.  We then spoke and seemed to get on well.  After I had made an appointment to see her two other friends mentioned that they either knew her personally or of her work and they spoke extremely highly of her.  She practices EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) by tapping on acupuncture meridian points as one recalls trauma, to change learned emotional/body synapse response.  Image result for PTSD Emotional Freedom TechniqueI am told that this has really good results for many people and has become accepted treatment for many ex-service personnel.  If any of you have experience of this I would be grateful to hear of it.  My husband is sceptical and thinks it is some form of hypnosis:)

2.  I am seeing a tutor of Pilates who is going to help me develop the muscles around the area which will be removed so that I  will have some muscles left to help me move my leg.  Toes crossed this time, for success.

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3.  A local cancer charity provides taster sessions of various therapies free of charge so that one can find out what helps: so I have made an appointment with  a Medical Herbalist/Dietary Consultant who also happens to have a really good reputation and, it turns  out, is a friend/ex-colleague of another friend  of mine.  I am hoping to get some support for my Immune system to help combat the cancer cells and also to help me with my chemical allergies.

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4.   In a similar vein I am having a conversation with a Homeopathic doctor just to explore the situation and get a feel for which way I  want to tackle my  current problems.

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5.   Finally, I have just had a lengthy conversation with an oncology nurse in the USA who has devoted her later career to exploring all the ongoing research and experimental trials in process.  After 20 years working with seriously and terminally ill cancer patients she felt that there were too many alternatives and adjuncts which were not being included in mainstream treatment.  She appeared to  understand my current medical situation at once, as well as understanding how I may have come to this point; certainly her  interpretation of my metabolism and the long term effects of past surgery fitted exactly with how I feel about things.   She suggested some tests which are not offered in the NHS and if I can afford them I think they may be very worth while. I  just may have to join Eddie with the crowd-funding!!!

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Since I have no large intestine and only a little part of my small intestine left, she and I feel that 50 years of impaired absorption leading to imbalances and/or deficiencies may have had  an effect on my immune system.  I also know that I have a SNP on one chromosome which prevents me from metabolising toxins.  Clearly not helpful.   She felt that this fact was a fundamental part of my current problems.  In other words, ‘my bucket is now full’!

So, one test she suggests would check to see exactly what the nutritional condition inside my cells is, rather than what is merely circulating in the blood as there can be many a slip ‘twixt blood, receptors and cell interiors!!

The second test would check a blood sample for any cancer cells which may be circulating: these are then cultured and 150 different  chemo, radiation, immunological and biological factors are tested against the cancer cells to see whether any of them appear to kill  the malignancy.

I am hoping that after speaking to all these people and taking the tests I will feel better informed to make a treatment plan which I can use, apart from or as well as, the surgery.

My feeling is to support and repair my immunity and nutritional status so that the tumour ceases to grow:  then I hope that the surgeon will agree to monitor me for several months more while I trial some of these approaches and see if by any chance the tumour will slowly decrease.   I know he will say there is no chance other than surgery which will be a difficult conversation.

However, since the accepted wisdom is that they have no idea what causes this type of cancer, and since none of the treatments available have any effect at all on it apart from repeated surgeries, I feel that my approach is as good/bad as theirs.

I have to make some decisions about what I am prepared to live with versus mobility/ability to do all the things which I am desperate to achieve.  This is going to be tricky as I do not want to be irresponsible and risk losing many years of good life, but neither do I want to be crippled and lose years to recovering from major surgery and living with an even more debilitated immune system.  I fear that all the drugs which would be used during and after surgery, may finally finish it off.

In the 1980s, when I had six surgeries and general anaesthetics and rounds of antibiotics in eight months, I was left unable to leave my bed for nearly three years.  The medical profession gave up on me and my then consultant just told me that I had the body of an 80 year old woman.  I was in my early thirties and was left to heal myself.  It took me a great deal of research and work to get out of that bed, and I was a much younger woman then.  You can see why I am not immediately trustful of medics.  No criticism intended, but if you do not happen to have an orthodox metabolism or fit the general mould it is hard to find someone who can relate.  Clearly I am some kind of evolutionary throwback.

It is true that action and decision-making makes one feel more in control and therefore stronger.

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Thank you again to everyone who left me comments and who messaged me: the support feels tangible and very real.  I am still worried, scared and feeling inadequate to the task facing me but one step at a time.

PS All the images in this post are from Google Images: none are my own.

 

 

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Trying hard to exude confidence and calm I had a lift to the station and registered at the Assistance desk.

I was very heartened to be met by a young woman who greeted me by name holding a form with my details on it. I was whisked away in a wheelchair accompanied by a rather worried husband, and put on the train, followed by my suitcase. We set off gaily waving goodbye to ‘other half’ who says he is looking forward to some bachelor time!!

The first part of this trip was completely uneventful and when we drew into St Pancras there were two young women waiting on the platform for my coach. Apart from having to look in my suitcase to find my Eurostar ticket which I had mistakenly packed (senior moment/nerves) all went smoothly and I was wheeled straight to Eurostar Assistance.

However, here we met with a problem. My suitcase was weighed and came in at 21k. The weight limit per case had been changed (I was told it was hidden in the small print) and although I could have taken two cases totalling 30 k my one case was not acceptable. To have the case go with me on the train would be an extra £30.00 each way. To add insult to injury I had specially chosen the one case as being easier for those helping me. And it was half full of medical supplies, not geegaws or nicknacks!

I had a good chat with the luggage booking clerk the upshot of which was that he disobeyed all the rules, refused to take payment saying he felt it was discrimination and insisted on taking it to the train personally and putting it on for me. He said that some of them still had a heart despite the corporate ethos. We ended by discussing particle physics, the state of health of his mum (why does everyone appear young nowadays?) and he said what a shame I did not have longer before my train or we could go for a coffee and discuss string theory!

Once again I was helped onto the train and happily settled: my gluten-free meal came as ordered and all went smoothly until Paris where two gents were waiting for me as the carriage drew in.  They whisked me and luggage straight to the taxis where they had already booked me a taxi which was waiting at the front of the queue.

There followed a drive filled with panache, hooting and hand gestures during which I sat back and enjoyed the tree-lined Boulevards, the Circulation, the Seine, the bridges, and so many old haunts.  We flashed over the Pont Royal, past the Musee d’Orsay, down the Left Bank and turned into the 7th Arrondisement where nary a riot or strike was in evidence

Quel surprise!

My friend had arrived earlier that morning from the airport and opened up the flat and came down to open the door for me after the driver had reassured himself that someone was meeting me.  He held up the following traffic for me and the crutches to get out of his taxi insisting that there was no hurry at all.

So there we have it: all my fears were groundless and in fact I was bowled over by the kindness and patience of strangers (exactly as Jocelyn predicted, omniscient woman!)

So, here I am, back in Paris, with my great friend, and we will just have to see what I can manage. Or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It was some time before I could even get into a vehicle to go and have the MRI. This was a worry but using a fearsome leg brace (all straps, metal and Velcro pads and looking like something from the first world war) I managed with pain and difficulty to get into our son’s car and be ferried to hospital.

I was duly transferred to the waiting area where a nurse enquired whether I had anything metal about my person. I explained about the leg brace and her immediate response was that it would have to come off.  I agreed that in a heavily magnetised machine it would not be a good idea but that it would have  to remain in place until I was lying on the bed of the machine.

She exclaimed in horror that this was not possible as the metal in the brace would interfere with the magnets!! I was equally adamant that I could not move even half  an inch without the brace because of the pain.  Stalemate.

At this point I was getting upset and tired from the efforts I had made to actually get there as well as the pain levels so Isuggested that I went home.

“But you need the MRI”, she exclaimed. Well, yeah . . . .  Duh?

I remained silent and immovable, not hard in the circumstance, leaning against the wall pinned to my crutches.

Luckily she gave up at this point and said she would go and speak to the Radiologists. 20 mins later and no signs of anyone so once more I was preparing to leave: by this time I and the wall had been making friends for over an hour.

When, out of the blue a handsome young chap in his early thirties came hurrying down the corridor and reminiscent of Apollo 13 said, “I gather we have a problem?” He was one of the Radiologists. I explained and he grinned and said there was alway a way round everything and that he  and his colleague were two strong young men and he was sure they could cope. I almost fell into his arms then and there:)

So I hobbled into the anteroom of the MRI machine and was asked to leave my crutches at the door, whereat each chap took an arm and I was regally escorted, hopping like a rabbit, towards the magnets and the flatbed of the machine.

Very slowly I inched my way onto the couch, oohing and aaahing the while until finally the leg was in position.  Then the fun began.  I was just about to remove the brace when they urgently asked me to stop.

The lovely blokes said that they would have to take the leg brace off together, on the count of three, one holding each end to avoid it being whipped away and dragged towards the magnets and into the machine.  The whole process was so funny as they gingerly undid the straps while holding onto the body of the brace for dear life and then in one smooth movement pulled it away and took it out of the room.  So gentle, kind and understanding and making no issue of the process at all.

From then on all was plain sailing and an hour later I was ringing to ask for my lift home.

The results came back ten days later, I do not understand them yet but I gather that a lot of damage has been done and I have been referred to an Orthopaedic consultant. Given that I have allergies to painkillers,  antibiotics and anaesthetics I am unsure as to my options.  However, one lesson I learned from this scan was that with a willingness to find a way through hopefully all is not yet lost:)

Here’s a toast to helpful young men (and women) wherever they may be. Cheers chaps!!

 

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Life has been complicated lately: I have had a couple of accidents, nothing in themselves but the accumulation of trauma has caused an old injury on a knee to re-assert itself.  So I have not been able to sit, lift or drive.  Walking is compromised and going to the loo is cause for imagination and extra dexterity!!

Husband is not himself either, so all in all, we have had some weeks of abnormal home life.  At  least, I insist that it is abnormal and not the beginning of new ‘normal’ around her.

I have had to cancel a couple of trips to see close friends, one in Ireland and the other in Oban, much to my disappointment.  And also had to cancel our appointments with the Supervet to take our two dogs for consultations:(

There is another trip planned which I will tell you about in another post, so fingers crossed it will come to pass.

But I wanted to share a short video with you of the most inspiring and wonderful person who has helped me enormously this year while I was feeling so helpless and desperate.  I identify so much with her and regard her as a role model.

I hope you enjoy this too:)

 

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I have felt hugely supported by those of you who have contacted me.  Thank you so very much.

I have had comments here on the blog, on Facebook, phone calls, emails, and a wonderful bunch of Spring Flowers sent to me through the post.

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It has been a surprise to realise that some people actually quite value this little blog: very humbling but also so encouraging:)

And you all struggle to improve your part of the world and spread help and compassion as you are able.  It is inspiring.  And although I feel rather self indulgent having written about my own struggles as if I were alone with my feelings it has been hugely helpful to have this concrete proof that I am not alone in feeling thus.

Some of you have explained to me how you manage with these feelings:

Several have said that they find it necessary to keep some distance from events in order to avoid becoming submerged or immobilised by the cruelties and unhappinesses we hear about.

Unfortunately I was born/developed without firm boundaries and seem to be on one end of the empathy spectrum which has become unhealthy for me.  I have always felt a deep connection to, and embedded in, the world around me and find that distancing myself is not an option.

I have heard of instances of friends deliberately ‘passing the baton’ to the younger generation and allowing themselves to take a back seat after a lifetime of work and struggle to improve situations.

But I was born a fighter: I have always had to fight, I know no other way.  It has got me through some terrible times but it leaves an impossible feeling of impotence when one comes up against a fight that one cannot win.  This is a large part of what is upsetting me at the moment.  I don’t understand the point of my existence if I cannot make a difference.

Others blame social media, in fact media in general, for spreading so much hyped news and melodrama.  There is a huge amount of truth in this.  Reading all the petitions that come my way has exposed me to knowledge of injustice and cruelty that I would never have known about without these organisations.  In fact one friend just signs and never reads because she says she cannot survive the huge amount of unhappiness they represent.  Others never sign because they cannot take any more exposure of the harsh side of life.

Based on your and others’ comments I have been doing some research.

Professor Nicholas Christakis from Yale (Director of the Human Nature Lab at Yale) makes the point that Networks will magnify whatever they are seeded with.  His research has demonstrated that meanness will ripple through Social Networks, as will altruistic behaviour.  Networks will magnify Ebola and fascism and violence and unhappiness but also they will magnify love and altruism and happiness and information.

He is the author (with James Fowler) of Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives.

Here’s his TED talk:

He makes the point that much research (as well as common sense) shows that the people around you influence your behaviour. In fact, they influence it a lot more than you might think and probably more than you’re comfortable with admitting.

But here’s the really unexpected part: not only do your friends affect your behavior, so do their friends. And their friends’ friends. Here’s Nicholas:

“Across many different kinds of behavior: voting, cooperation, smoking, weight loss and weight gain, happiness, cooperative behavior, public health behaviors, we and others have been able to show that people are very meaningfully affected by the behaviors of other people to whom they’re connected. And here’s the kicker: they are also affected by the behaviors of people to whom they’re not directly connected.

When your friend’s friends quit smoking or your friend’s friend’s friend become nicer and more cooperative, this ripples through the network and affects you. Similarly, when you make a positive change in your life, when you start running for example, or you participate in our democracy and you vote, it ripples outward from you and can affect dozens, hundreds, perhaps even thousands of other people.”

So, these are my thoughts going forward.

Instead of being influenced and manipulated by Media Networks I am going to try to do good and improve what I can through them.  I don’t mean that I am going to try to somehow change all you readers of my blog: you regulars are already way ahead of me in trying to do your bit in the world.  But I do want to try to shed the occasional ray of light into dark places and catch some of the occasional visitors here who may not know some of the worst practices.

Instead of being beaten down by all the petitions illustrating tragedy, I am trying to change how I view them: thank goodness for people who are turning a spotlight on these dark parts of life.  They have found out, and are trying to publicize and change, the horrific practices going on.  Without these petitions the cruelties would still continue but unabated and without possibility of change.  I will contribute a small amount where I can and circulate the news and offer emotional support.  Not much, but better than nothing.

I have discovered so many kind, compassionate people in other countries who devote their lives selflessly to helping people and animals.  They have been there working tirelessly, I just did not know about them.  Now I shall search them out on the Internet and through word of mouth, and not be a passive recipient of the News that someone else decrees I should know about.

I have taken out an annual subscription to a newspaper (now in magazine form) called Positive News. 

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When I first picked it up in a local hospital I was suspicious of the title: is this another bland “Everything is fine, everything will be alright” kind of journal.  But it is not: it was begun by one of our most respected BBC Foreign Correspondents, who went on to become an Independent Member of Parliament, and is now the Patron of the paper.  It just tries to give a more balanced, less dramatic and more informed view of news, instead of regarding good news as no news.  I find it a wonderful counterbalance to the usual stuff pedalled by our 24 hour news culture.

Although I find it a hard fact, everything in this world is recycled eventually, one way or another.  And this includes both human institutions and human behaviour.  Everything tends to decay and corruption and needs to be remade or renewed.  This seems a waste of experience and effort as well as being painful: but it is what happens and I must come to terms with this.  This is why accurate history teaching is essential in education.  So whereas I will do my best to help maintain the good that has been achieved I must accept that the process will necessarily involve some letting-go along the way.

I have been reading about life in the UK in the C10 and C11.  When you could literally not call your soul your own: when you could not decide which crops to grow: where to live: whom to serve: whom to marry: where there were no options for most people: when cruelties and tortures were rife.  We have made progress for the majority of the population in this country although in recent years some of these safeguards have appeared threatened.  The wheels of history grind so slowly.

Despite the bad weather I have made contact with more people than usual, as a result of the adoption of our two Romanian stray dogs:-

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1 In my last post I mentioned the kind, unexpected gift from the woman at the call centre for an international hotel chain.

2 When investigating dog harnesses for the car I spoke to the Managing Director of a company.  It turns out that she has adopted strays from Greece and the Gambia and supports a Rescue in Spain.

3 When staying in a hotel with the first of our strays all the staff came over to fuss here and fell in love with her.  A guest passing through saw her harness which mentions the Dogs Trust and complimented us and said she contributes every month.

4  The Dustmen stopped their cart for a chat and wanted to know all about the dogs and what was happening in Europe to unwanted animals and children.

5 At the vets the nurses came and crouched down and were so kind to these poor, mistreated pooches.

6  When out walking people stop and talk and are so interested and kind.

7 I have met the wonderful people who foster these animals as part of their resettlement programme.  These people are not rich but devote their lives to helping others.

8 Friends have come over to help look after our other animals and help me socialise these dogs.

9 The landlady of a pub came over to meet the dogs and to make a fuss of them.  They were welcomed warmly, not turned away as ‘unclean’.

10  On several occasions parents of children in a local park have brought them over to make friends saying, “That dog looks like a friendly one”.  The care and gentleness of the small children who asked which part the dog would like stroked and could they give them a treat.

I have met all sorts and all kinds of people in the last few weeks: all working people, mostly not well-off, but full of the milk of human kindness.  I have found it to be true, that those who have compassion – have it for all: it is such a fallacy to say that people either like animals or humans.

And religion and culture are not the definition of compassion either: some people from cultures who do not value dogs have been interested and surprised and happy to make friends with our dogs too – despite an initial hesitation.  I have learned about the people working hard in Romania, Greece, Spain and the Far East, to mention just a few, rescuing, treating, combatting cruelty, often at considerable danger to themselves.

Through research I have discovered so much good being done by so many:-

For example, the ex-soldier from the UK who has raised the plight of the lone children refugees in Europe, despite being taken to court for his compassion.

The unfailing efforts of Greek Islanders who leave their own work to pull drowning refugees from the Meditarranean.  Over and over and over again.

The Palestinian men who are striving to rescue their Zoo animals from slow starvation and illness despite the troubles in their own country.

The brave whistle-blowers in Thailand who are slowly winning round their Government to halt the deliberate torture of animals for food.

The people offering free health care, legal advice, physical care and food here in the UK.

It is a disgrace that so much evil is allowed to flourish in the world: but the bad news is totally unrepresentative.  There are legions, literally, of good, kind people, quietly and determindly helping.

They are not sitting back comfortably in the UK as I have been doing, feeling depressed and hopeless.  They are out there working hard.  I am so grateful to have discovered a little about some of them.  They, and you, have saved my emotional sanity.

This blog will go forward, but will try to highlight some of these wonderful people, alongside my own little sorrows and joys.

Thank you, thank you, to all of you, and to all of them.  I’m OK now:)

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I don’t mind admitting that I have found life difficult over the last ten days:

A dear friend who has been my support and refuge in dark times is moving away.  Seeing the cottage being emptied and cleared and smelling the old familiar smell of wood smoke from the evening fires when we used to settle in to talk and watch DVDs is upsetting.

I have real concerns for two loved ones whose health looks to be seriously compromised.  We await test results.

Another close friend has been in an accident and is off her feet for some weeks.  Her husband has to have another round of chemotherapy.

My favourite farmer with whom I exchange memories of the countryside 50 years ago when I go to buy feed, has been in hospital, lost one kidney to cancer, caught a hospital infection, now has breathing problems and the surgeon is concerned over the health of his remaining kidney.

We are noticing our energy levels are decreasing with age but are not mentally ready to give anything up, but we can see the beginning of the writing on the wall.

The Robin is practising his Autumn song: not much yet, just a few notes, but it is on the way. I am not ready for the wistfulness and poignancy of Autumn.

I have been weepy and wanting to hide in corners and pull covers over my head.

So the mood around here has been:

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;

Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;

Change and decay in all around I see.

So yesterday I went to see my doctor and reminded her that the last time I had felt so bad she had offered me HRT.  Then I went to the chemist and begged for the prescription straight away before I cut my throat.

And this morning? I slept well, the sun is shining, and we are having a glorious, sun-soaked, golden day. The kind of burnished gold that comes in late summer when the sun is lower than at the height of the season. The air is humming with insects, the bushes are bright with butterflies, some cyclist went past and commented, “What a lovely garden!”

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Nothing else has changed, but the hay is cut and the smell is wafting down the valley, nature looks productive and happy, I have spent the morning sowing seeds – Lamb’s Lettuce and Miner’s Lettuce for winter salads – my turnip and kale seedlings are nearly ready to plant out, my winter planting of garlic is on the way by post, and we are all bright with sun and blue skies and lovely smells and activity.

When I walked up to the hay field, the sight of the cut hay drying in windrows took me back centuries.  Hay has lain drying like this since humans began to farm.  The cutting mechanism may be different, the baling may be different, but the look and smell on the field is timeless.

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Butterflies were patrolling up and down like drops of jewelled light and I sat in the shade of the hedge that I planted in memory of my mother, and remembered descriptions of this scene in music and words, that has entranced so many before me.

Wherever I end up in old age, I must be somewhere in the country, where I can be soothed and healed by such sights.

I am taking a day off from worrying and sadness today.  It would be sacreligious not to.

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