Saturday, 31 October 2009
I commissioned a friend and superb artist, Sarah Riseborough, to paint this beautiful picture for the Farmer.
Of course I haven't known him for all that time, having only been around for almost forty years myself, but the Farmer has turned sixty today. A treat indeed, as he was introduced into the world on 31st of October 1949. He was 51 when we got together. I was 31. The age gap meant nothing, and still doesn't. Love however, means everything. I was a little shocked at first when he told me his age, as I had thought he was around his early 40's. But after a while, I realised that no matter how many years were between us, it was so irrelevant compared to the way we felt about each other. As each day dawns, I love him more. Together with Amy, he is my world and I know that he always will be. He lifted me from darkness, just after my dad had passed, and even though I still have issues with that event, those eight years have been the best of my life. It is no secret that there were many difficult days in which we got through, when we shared our home with my late father-in-law. There were many times in which I could have walked away, thought it wasn't worth it, asked if I had jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. But I didn't. When I met the Farmer, I realised I had been given a chance of true happiness, and I took it. Nothing and no one was ever going to stand in my way of realising that my dream had come true. That last piece of jigsaw was placed in my hands and it was up to me to find its final resting place.
The Farmer shares his birthday of course, with Hallowe'en. Pumpkins and glitter decorate the house as two children dress up hoping to scare the adults. Hope you all have a great time on this scariest of scary nights and don't encounter too many ghouls on your travels.
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
So the truth is, I've been writing the book recently as you know, churning out the odd blog posts which have been pretty rubbish, and finding that I haven't got time to read. I try not to use the computer after 7pm as I have had it on for most of the day and I really feel I need to give my eyes a rest (plus I like watching telly), so I have been very reluctantly neglecting my blogging buddies. And for that, I really do apologise because it hasn't been intentional. Amy's off school this week but I will dip in now and then, see what's what in blogville, and hope I haven't upset anyone for being so one-sided. And I will spend a couple of days next week, reading my loyal followers and regular bloggers. Of course, some of the followers which you see in the sidebar don't have a blog to read, and some don't seem to exist. So if you want me to read your blog, stick yourself on my followers list, let me know you're there, and I'll be straight over.
And thank you for being faithful to my blog. Without you, I wouldn't be here. Nor would I have met you. Which, in itself, would have been a huge shame.
Love CJ xx
Monday, 26 October 2009
I must just tell you, Amy's just asked me if Christmas existed "in those days, the ones in the 70's and 80's when you were young". How old does she think I am? Do all our children look at us as though we used to live in caves? lol... I really need to get 'with-it', start listening to the Top 40 again, and get my hair dyed.
And moving on, the reason why we had the dictaphone out was so that Amy could record a list she's devised including activities she wants to do on Halloween. We bought a couple of pumpkins over the weekend to be hung, drawn and quartered before being set aglow to entice the spirits of the night to make contact. I do hope we will get some response this year. Last year a book fell off the book shelf on spooky night, and I felt a strange atmosphere in the house. But the list Amy has goes a bit like this: play with the dogs outside; bake a cake in the shape of a pumpkin; have lunch; find candles for pumpkins; colour in spooky pictures. We won't forget the Farmer of course, as he turns 60 on Halloween. And I have something very special for him to open. Now, now.
Friday, 23 October 2009
Plaster peeled from ancient walls, once applied with a loving hand, perhaps once admired by proud eyes. A small heap lay upon concrete floor; damp, forgotten. Visible patches of stone greeted me as I touched its crumbling walls, my fingers excavating years of standing decay. Tiny paw scurried beside by feet, a desperate wish for freedom, a life still to live. Cobwebs wrapped around my hair, tearing strands whilst I trailed a long ago creature from sleep. Steps almost gave way beneath me, clear danger looming should I have lost control. My hand needed to grasp for safety, a rail of aged wood and early craftsmanship. Descent to darkened rooms in trepidation, the unknown as was always my existence. I had learnt not to fear, to look forward with challenging mind, embrace with anticipation. With flickering candle I made my journey, a short wait before the unknown would be familiar territory. From days gone by I could feel my thoughts drowning in residual energy, a possession becoming too close for comfort, too many spirits vying for my attention. I wanted only one. Yet I was not sure which one. I knew my heart rested with a male entity, I knew he once lived in this house. My frustration played on my ever potent mind but I was drawn, beckoned by a force too strong to resist. My destination would soon become clear, light would shine upon perishing rooms and my eyes would see the love which continued to overwhelm me. Just a few more steps to take. More deterioration from an unoccupied space. I wanted to know who sought me from the depths of Rosehill; which soul still lived to protect me in my home; and why.
I arrived in the first room, a large pantry, shelved and mouldy. The open door clung to a hinge, determined not to fall to plaster-ridden floor. Two square sheets of glass at the top, thick with dust, dark brown wood flaking, woodworm having lived within for too many years. Old and murky bottles stood on a top shelf, cobwebs encased around them. Putrid tins with lid intact, broken glass, rusty pans, all shared space upon shelves, memories recorded by servants’ hands. The candle continued to flicker, I cupped my hand around its flame, the darkness would have been too thick for me to wander these desperate rooms. More scurrying, orbs, perhaps dust, whispers from another world. I made my way into the next room, a large space filled with a debris littered floor. The room was staggeringly cold, my heavy coat unable to warm me. A small light shone in one corner, alerting me to a possible presence, and my potential find. I transfixed my eyes to the light as it grew, a steadfast glow increasing in intensity whilst arrogantly performing before my eyes. A shape began to appear, a body first, legs following. The light became the figure of a man, to which I felt I had been invited to witness. My breath was evident, my hands were frozen to the bone. I did not feel afraid though I was cautious, the atmosphere adding to my apprehension.
The light now shone against the head of the figure that stood before me, seemingly unwilling to show a face. It was the same outline as the spirit man I had seen often around the house, still shy of allowing me sight of his identity. A little frustration grew inside me as I asked, quietly,“who are you?” I stayed cautious, I did not want spirit to think I was prudent. Spirit will only show themselves if they choose, it is their prerogative.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
There are certain subjects in which Amy finds difficult to digest information, her concentration levels will prevent her from understanding. However much she tries. The slightest disturbance will attract her attention and she will be unable to return to the job in hand. Reasons why she has a support worker. I have said it so many times, probably to everyone I know, that the support is helping Amy tremendously and without it, she most certainly would not be doing as well in school as she is currently doing. The subjects in which Amy finds most difficult will be cut from her curriculum, this may only be for an hour a week, it could be for two. Of course these won't be primary subjects such as maths and English. In their place Amy will do various activities which will enable her to become more accustomed with every day life such as going to the shops and dealing with money, walking in a town and looking for pedestrian crossings, basic food preparation, making phone calls, experiencing age appropriate activities in which she finds difficult. Amy tells me and everyone that we must not talk to strangers, yet she talks to everyone she meets. She asks them how old they are, what their name is, where they live, do they have brothers or sisters. She cares not about who they are. She just assumes she is being friendly.
She can find her way around the Internet, switches the computer on and starts to type a letter on Word, prints out pictures of interest to her; her current interests being desserts and pyramids. I have an office full of loose sheets of A4 with a picture of a cactus or a pyramid. "Look what I printed off," she says, excitedly. "How many times have I told you to ask me first?" I say, for the hundredth time, before agreeing that her picture is very good so as not to disappoint her mood. But it makes no difference. She just does it anyway. Just like so many things on a daily basis. She has a mind of her own. I wish I could get inside it one day.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
But I have digressed somewhat, as parent's evening always brings back those horrific memories of my own school days. I say horrific because I hated school, and my behaviour left a lot to be desired especially in the first few years of high school (aged 11-13). Probably a mixture of growing up with a large helping of my hatred for a place I only associated with horrid kids who bullied me. I started smoking and causing havoc in class, turning up late for lessons, wearing skirts you could mistake for belts, clattering around in stiletto heels. I was quite the tearaway back in those days. A period in my life I would prefer to forget, but occasionally rears its ugly head. I used to dread my mum and dad returning from their meeting; I would be sat at my desk in my bedroom, pretending to do homework, waiting anxiously for the report. It was never as bad as I expected, but was always one of those "she could do better if only she would try" lectures. Mind you, my mum was on first name terms with the headmaster due to the amount of times she spent sat in his office.
But I doubt Amy will be dreading tonight's return as I come home and hopefully report that she's doing well, has settled in great, and doesn't smoke behind the bike sheds (so you were reading). She tells me how lovely her teachers are, talks about the many friends she has made in a short space of time, and even though she doesn't do any homework, she does seem to enjoy school, much more than I ever did. We should be introducing life-skills to Amy's curriculum soon, I shall go into detail about this in the next few weeks when hopefully it will take effect. Amy's condition prevents her, as you know, from accepting the real world. The bubble she lives inside will never burst, but with the right support, we can make it clearer to see through. We have the statement review in January, a few months earlier than originally planned. The reason for this I do not know at this stage. But with 26 hours of support a week, Amy has come a long way since starting middle school. Take some of this support away and there is a risk she will fall behind. Perhaps when I was at school I could have done with support too; it makes one think.
Monday, 19 October 2009
Thursday, 15 October 2009
And now, for someone who earns virtually nothing, and I mean nothing, there's a possibility that I could be robbed of my carer's allowance too. How fair is that? Is it anyone's fault that Amy is autistic? Am I not allowed to be a self-employed farmer and choose to be a full time carer to my daughter who is classed as disabled? What a load of bollocks. I know times are 'ard, an' all that jazz, but why the bloody hell do we carers have to constantly fight for our right to care? The forms I have to fill in, every year, contain questions such as, wait for it, "how much do you spend on post?" and "give a breakdown of your electricity, gas, water charges; fuel and bank charges." This is because I am self-employed. I fail to see what any of these, plus several other questions, have to do with caring for my daughter. I just want what I am entitled to, nothing more, nothing less. Would it have been better if I had been unemployed, claiming every benefit under the sun, ripping the country off left, right and centre, and sponging from the tax payer for step ladders? I have already sent in my draft accounts. Sit down when I tell you, they have been lost, gone astray, misplaced. By a junior. I got told this at 6.40pm yesterday. Don't you find it a little disturbing that documents as important as a set of accounts have gone astray. What I find amazing is how a junior was blamed. So now I have to send in another set. And then I will be told, in writing, whether I will continue to receive carer's allowance. I am a carer. I earn sod all. And I am very pissed off.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Monday, 12 October 2009
It's nearly time for the tups (or rams) to be put into the fields with the ewes. I must say, they do look bored as they watch the world go by, waiting for their next meal. And, cough cough, rather well endowed, don't ewe think. Of course, typically, the tups have it easy; a few months amongst the ladies before they're taken back to their own abode to rest for nine months, having fulfilled their duty and helped supply the farm with the patter of tiny hooves. Don't be fooled however, the fields become somewhat of a brothel over the winter when it's not unusual to find ewes sniffing over their visitor rather than the other way round. I have visions of finding a line full of washed stockings and suspenders and a knackered tup lying upright with his legs in the air.
The field in which the tups reside for their nine months of rest is just beyond our garden gate and it's quite comical to find two collie puppies sat watching them in amazement. Meggie in particular, doesn't seem fazed by their size and we have often caught her yapping at the one nearest the fence. They always look quite fierce to me, I'm not their number one fan, and the Farmer has come in on numerous occasions with bruises on his legs having been charged by one of them at meal time. They cost a fortune to buy as well. I know they service a large number of ewes but really, I do often wonder if the price is justified. We're talking around £600+ for one tup (and that's cheap), compared to @£130 for one gimmer, (a young ewe). And let's face it girls, who really does all the work? The ewes even have to buy their own gear....
Saturday, 10 October 2009
But typically, after three weeks of school dinners and choice, it has come to light that my faddy-filly has been leaving more than she ate, unless the food in front of her was a pudding of some sort. And so it's back to packed lunches. She tried her best but I guess it's the way I butter the bread. But I was quite enjoying the freedom of not having to think about what to put in a packed lunch every day, hoping to give my star pupil a bit of variety. She likes carrot sticks and apples, chocolate mousse and crisps, and if I'm lucky, she'll eat a ham sandwich. I want her to enjoy her lunch, feel full for the afternoon and not lacking in energy so it's important to me that she eats it up. Having just done an online shop at ASDA I had to wrack my brains for variety; my question to Amy of "what would you like in your lunch box for next week?" was replied by, "chocolate, crisps, err, don't really know." Err, great. Another job for me then!
Thursday, 8 October 2009
I guess the lady made me think; most of us choose to do the job we do whether it be office work, factory work, management or donkey work. Some of us choose parenthood, for others it is bestowed upon us. But during the hours of 9-3, I personally, could be a lady of leisure. Apart from not being able to afford to be such, I chose to write and do the farm admin, two things I take seriously and two things I would hope will one day reap rewards. Okay, the farm admin isn't particularly fruitful but maybe the writing will be, eventually.
I suppose the beauty of working from home means you can pack up your briefcase whenever you feel like it, within reason of course. And turn your hand to the next job on your list. But working from home never ends. Meals to cook, kids to see to, washing to do, cleaning, tidying up, you get my drift. If I'd have told the receptionist that I'm a writer, a mother, a farmer and a domestic engineer, she might have wondered where I find time to sleep. So I was wondering; of all you mums/dads who go out to work full time, where do you find time to sleep? And if you work from home, don't you think that taking on that all-important role of parenthood is the most rewarding of all your tasks? Perhaps I think too much.....!!
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
We had a beautiful weekend in Scotland, no surprise there. Just one problem; it went too quickly. Having stayed at the Hilton Dunkeld before we knew what to expect, and to be honest, I was a little nervous with Amy, she isn't known for her tact or a quietly spoken voice. But I had no need to be. She behaved like an angel; impeccable manners throughout, making us laugh, chatting to the staff. It was one of those "let's give it a try" decisions when I first booked the weekend away, and boy, am I glad we did. She had everyone in giggles just 5 minutes after checking in when she spied a bowl of apples and asked rather loudly, "are these apples free?" I looked around at the sea of faces near us, fortunately with an appreciative expression as the receptionist told her to go ahead and choose one. The room was spacious, clean and well equipped with a huge television; a home from home. As I had booked dinner, bed & breakfast, we were able to enjoy a first class meal each night. Amy and I went swimming in the hotel pool on Saturday and Sunday morning which we thoroughly enjoyed mainly because we had the pool to ourselves. The Farmer went fishing all day Saturday, my mum's birthday present to him. He didn't catch anything but had a wonderful day nonetheless.
I hope you like that photo, I nearly knocked myself out against a tree to take it, when on my way back up the steps from the shore I tripped over a large protruding tree root. The scenery is so beautiful, whenever we go we always find it difficult to leave. On the Sunday we went to Killin to visit some friends of ours. They made us lunch and we chatted the afternoon away, always a pleasure to see them.
This picture was taken on the banks of Loch Tay in the village of Kenmore. A delightful spot, and one I shouldn't be surprised is used by many photographers.
The next few photographs were taken by Amy.
Friday, 2 October 2009
We're booked in dinner, bed & breakfast and as it's quite a posh pad, my intention is to dine earlier rather than later. One never knows what Amy will say next. Or do, for that matter. So I'll see you all next week with a report on our weekend and a doctor's note. Now, where did I put my wordsearch book?