Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Looking back, looking forward

Change can come suddenly, unexpectedly, catastrophically. Change can creep slowly, erosion over time, unnoticed until comparison with the past forces focus. Today, it was the cheese. As I ate my lunch and my supermarket Stilton, I had a moment of regret, of noticing.
One of the life-style changes we actively embraced on moving from suburbia to rural was our weekly trip to the village market: the fresh fruit and veg. from the greengrocer and a new cheese as well as a favourite from the cheese van. It's one of the little losses that have slipped away in the last year. I don't realise how poorly I've become and how furious our current pace of life is until I remember that we always went to the market on Fridays and now we just don't have time. My energy levels mean that I get much less done in much more time and my partner has far more on her shoulders than is equal. Growing a business in which our product is ourselves, our time, our energy and our motivation and running this business in two locations, three-hundred miles apart takes its toll.
We are counting the weeks: six until our last work-trip South; eight until surgery; thirteen until the last exam paper is marked and we head on holiday to Scotland and a caravan on a quiet island where otters play.
Then. Then it will be different. We have to make it so. We have to remember the life-style we chose, reject the adrenaline rush of busyness and the other-people-impressing activities and possessions. We have to remember the list we wrote when we moved in of all the things that life here was supposed to be:

Candles and shovels when we're snowed it
Dinner at The Farmer's Arms
Old hats and scarves for snowmen
Sitting in the sun, reading
Sitttng by the fire, reading
Snuggling up watching T.V.
Home-laid eggs
Swimming in the Swale
Lots of walks and hills and hot chocolate by the fire and talking
Playing hide-and-seek
Driving an off-roader
Catching the bus to Reeth

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Daffodil Whisky Pigeon anyone?

Having taken the plunge to get back into my blog, I think it's important to keep going. It's just that life is so, so busy right now. Having arranged an Easter Revision week with my students in London a long time ago, I have now taken on many more students in the local area and so am fully booked this week too. Not that I'm complaining and we have treated ourselves to a coffee machine as an Easter "bonus". It's so lovely to be working from home, the sun is shining, the Dale is beautiful and the lambs are frolicking.
The children are happy to be home and kept us amused on the last part of the journey home with wild tales based on three random nouns chosen by the others - chocolate lamp-post muffins, ginger raccoon jumpers, daffodil whisky pigeons...
It's a little thing, but moments like those give me a warm glow - somehow I think that our lifestyle and home ed has nourished these imaginations, this confidence and these easy relationships in a special way, and the fruit of that is three laughing children in the car at the end of a long journey,

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Calcium - who knew?

It's a long time since I've been here - a really long time! The last photo is of my son's 14th birthday and I am now mulling over what to do for his 15th. It's tricky, because I'd like to take him to the theatre but I will only just be out of hospital and, possibly, recovering from open chest surgery. And that, I guess, it's what has really defined this last year.
I have hypercalcaemia, caused by an over-active parathyroid gland.* I'm tired - all the time. I don't sleep well, which makes me tireder. I can't quite think straight and I have to lie down if I walk more than a few miles. And I'm tired. Did I mention the tiredness? Gradually my life has got smaller and harder and just a little darker. One of the symptoms is anxiety and depression. And I'm anxious and depressed about how little I can do, how hard I find everything and how little energy I have. I'm losing my sense of what's real.
I'm also working too hard. I moved up to Yorkshire at Christmas 2012, keeping on my work as a private tutor in the London area and committed to commuting twice per month. It's worked, it's worked just fine, but gradually the work in the North has picked up and I can leave London behind in September and my partner and I - Bespoke Tutors - can base ourselves entirely at home. So we have taken on every student enquiring in our local area while still holding down a full timetable in the South.
It's all good. I love our life. I walk the dogs (that's another thing, another dog, and another two on their way in June - one to keep and one to train and sell) along the bridle-path at the back of our house every morning - stopping to feed our free-range chickens and check for eggs - and am astounded by the fact that I live here, this is my home. I get to live here every day. I love my life, I love my children, my partner, my dogs, my home and the countryside surrounding me.
But it's hard; It's really hard right now. I don't Home Ed the way I would like to. I don't run any more; I don't read; I don't paint; we don't do days out. And I don't blog. Well, I am now. A dear friend of mine said she'd be mentioning my blog on hers and it's motivated me to show up - I don't want people clicking over and finding that the last time I wrote was last June! What will the neigbours say? And it's a way of getting a little something back. A place to reflect on the good things that are happening, my three children who are thriving and to build up my goals again for that time on the horizon which glows with hope and opportunity - Post Surgery.

*Last June my GP told me that my calcium levels were high. Not a problem, I thought, just cut back on the cheese and yoghurt. No, one of my parathyroid glands has gone into overdrive and needs removing: minor surgery. The appointment to see the consultant was not until September and he sent me off for more tests. These took a few months and I finally saw the surgeon in early December. At this point I was still, naively, wondering if I might get squeezed into the Christmas period. It wasn't to be. My gland gone rogue: in the consultant's words, it is a "cheeky monkey". I have had two ultrasounds, a radioactive tracer test and a CT scan, which have all been very interesting to an A Level Physics teacher, with no positive result. Instead of key-hole surgery, the operation is more like a search and rescue. If opening my neck up with a four-inch incision doesn't find it, a heart surgeon with a video camera will come and help. If he can't find it with the camera then he'll be getting the saw to my sternum! Because the heart guy has to be available, scheduling the op became difficult task and, only by cancelling our family holiday to Spain, has it become possible to find a date in the first half of this year.