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Cat, Bird, Fish

When I was a child, I wanted to learn how to sign, like Deaf people. I didn’t know any Deaf people, so I don’t know why I wished that. Later, I joined the Girl Guides. To earn a badge, I learnt the signed alphabet. Many years went by. In the mid-1980s, I was given the opportunity (another story) to start learning British Sign Language. As part of the learning process, I regularly attended the local Deaf Club where I made a group of friends. My signing improved, and I started taking BSL exams.

I live on the south coast of England, my daughter lives in highlands of Scotland. In 1988, my first grandchild was born – with multiple special needs, including the inability to speak. When she was around five years old, she began to learn a simple sign language called Makaton so she could communicate her life needs. My grand daughter came for her first visit around that time, with her mum. As well as other special needs, she has a form of autism, and being in a strange house with everyone milling around began to distress her. I took her out into our garden.

We walked carefully and silently up the garden until we came to the pond. We sat down and watched the fish. She gave a deep sigh and began to relax. She looked at me. I said, “fish”. This was clearly not a word on her life needs list. Then I signed ‘fish’, pointed to the fish, and signed ‘fish’ again. She signed ‘fish’ and smiled. I signed it back to her. Then a neighbour’s cat joined us. Actually, it was there to hook a fish out of the pond, if it got the chance, but with me there it settled down to wash itself as if that were its purpose for being there all along.

Birds like our garden for its insects. My grand daughter added two more signs to her vocabulary. Turns out she adores cats. “Cat, bird, fish!” became our greeting to each other after that.

By the end of the 1990s, my grand daughter had created her own form of modified Makaton, and I had become a CSW – communication support working with Deaf students in schools and colleges, Deaf professionals in the workplace, and as a tutor to special needs students with hearing, like my grand daughter, but no speech.

Life has taught me many things. One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is that language is so much more than words, and words are so much more than language.

“Cat, bird, fish!” to you all. Stay safe and well.

When I see we made it through another day

Abigail's blah blah

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It feels like ages since I last wrote but is in fact only 3 weeks. Again time is being weird and those three weeks feel both like 3 minutes and 3 years.  There has been plenty of adjusting to the “new normal” and in doing so time keeps ticking along. It feels like quite a lot is happening but I suspect a casual observer would think not very much is happening at all.

Some weeks ago I gave up trying to get up the stairs at the end of the day to make it to my own bedroom.  I was just too exhausted and it was not helping my mood, at all, to stress myself out so much at the end of the day. I had a hospital bed installed in the dining room and it makes getting in and out of bed, and getting remotely comfortable to sleep, considerably …

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Book Review: A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson

I don’t know how I ended up reading Bill Bryson. I think a colleague recommended him with something along the lines of: “You just have to read him!” I think I asked why; what kind of stuff he wrote and if my friend wanted to suggest any specific book but I just got the same kind of response: “Just read him! Any book – they’re all brilliant!” Well, I tend to trust my colleagues (at least the ones I like) so I figured such an all-encompassing recommendation must be worth something.

I never actively sought out one of his books. But I ended up with this one – A Walk In The Woods – when I came across an Audible sale. Still, I hadn’t heard of the title, just the name of the author and figured, Here’s my chance!

This book is about the Appalachian Trail (a pretty famous…

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Delivery

Today at 12.30h. Conflict: external and internal.

Grocery delivery van arrives in our narrow, single lane road.

Delivery Man offloads weekly victuals and leaves them in designated socially distant area.

Door of cabin swung shut and locks delivery man out. *Engine still running.

DM cannot find his keys. Distressed, apologetic, needs to call depot.

I mask up and wash my hands; he masks up. I give him our landline phone. He ‘phones home’. E.T. comes to mind.

“They will be here soon.”

It’s mid-day. The weather is meltingly hot. I give him a huge umbrella and a bottle of water. We can’t invite him in: we’re in the ‘vulnerable and shielding’ bracket.

DM sits on the ground up the road in the shade of a neighbour’s fence. I feel a pang of guilt.

The large van is obstructing traffic arriving and leaving.

I send an apologetic email to all the neighbours.

Two hours creep by.

I give him another bottle of water all the while secretly worrying that he will want to pee. I make preparations for that eventuality. Hand sanitiser by the front door. Check. All doors to the nearest loo wedged open. The loo is given its second thorough sanitising of the day. Fresh towel. Check. Anti-bacterial soap dispenser. Check.

I continue to feel guilty that a delivery of food to the house has caused this mayhem, and the poor man is in all that heat. Best Beloved rolls his eyes. “Not everything bad that happens in the world is your fault.” Not the first time he’s said this over the 50 years we’ve been together.

DM finds the keys in one of his pockets (they’re like bags sewn on the outside seams of his trousers). He’s excited! So am I.

He puts the key in the lock and tries to turn it. It doesn’t work. He goes to the passenger door and tries again. Nope.

The cavalry arrives in the shape of a short stocky chap in a high vis tabard, with keys and a number that has to be entered into a gizmo that he’s brought with him.

The cabin door opens!

DM returns the umbrella with thanks, scrambles into the open cabin before it slams shut again, and drives the van away to the nearest gas station, across the valley.

“I might cry.” 

Another eyes rolling response.

“Go and put your blower thing on and cool down.” Best Beloved says. Then he makes me a mug of tea.

I’m in the lounge, sitting at my computer, enjoying the breeze from the fan, with tea a few inches from my hand. 

All’s right with the world.

*One thing continues to puzzle us: how was the engine running, if DM had the keys in his pocket?

Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks

This is the most beautiful blog I’ve ever had the privilege to read. Thank you, Abigail.

Abigail's blah blah

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Two weeks ago today, after a week of “maybe this week, maybe tomorrow, maybe not before the weekend” I was finally allowed home from the hospital.  After 3 weeks, of only leaving a small room for the occasional scan or test.  It felt so good to be out in the big wide world. Better yet was seeing my family and getting some of the very best hugs known to man. There were plenty of tears.  It was as hard for them worrying about me  being by myself in a hospital as it was for me being woken up every two hours and eating mushy food, not being able to shower, etc etc.  It’s a period of time I care not to repeat.

I was sent home with a bucket full of painkillers and diuretics, lotions, potions and told to get on with it. Before I left I was already referred…

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Post #2: The 14 Elements of Story

I do hope Katie will share some more of her wisdom, this sounds engaging.

THAT KATIE COONEY

“What are the essential elements of a good book?”

Two years ago, if I’d been asked that, I would have babbled the following example of rapier wit: “Uh, conflict? Characters? Oh, plot too! And a strong theme.” (I would’ve tacked on theme to sound extra knowledgeable and impressive.)

“And why are they essential? What do those terms mean? How do you create them? What makes them essential?”

To this, I would’ve responded by ripping up my notebook, throwing it into the air, then vanishing in a cloud of crappy writing.

I knew the terms. But I didn’t have a clue what they meant. I somehow believed that knowing them was enough. This is ludicrous to say, but it didn’t feel ludicrous. While reading a book or watching a movie, we instinctively know what’s good and what’s bad; consuming stories is as natural as breathing. So learning that we don’t understand…

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50th Day in Lockdown

We’re keeping busy creatively and practically while we limit our exposure to the daily news bulletins. We’re aware that the virus has our species at the top of its ‘tasty snack’ list, regardless of status, creed, or colour, so we’re staying as safe as possible.

Birds who are resident in surrounding trees, and burrowing, foraging animals who are raising their young in back gardens are a constant, and comforting reminder that we humans share the environment with them, we don’t own it.

We have much to be grateful for, and we truly are.

Mothering Sunday

image from gardenia.net

I grew up without parents. Mothering Sunday meant nothing until I met my best beloved’s mother in 1971. She taught me everything I know about love, compassion, endurance, and the simple joys of life. She was such a gift to the world. Her favourite flowers were freesias. She was gathered in 1996, just before her 80th birthday. Every now and then, the scent of freesias is in the air even when there are none around. With the logical part of my brain, I know an olfactory memory has been stimulated. In my soul, there’s the comforting, fragrant warmth of love from my mother-in-law.

Book Review: The Shining by Stephen King

I might read this myself, now I’ve read this review… 🙂

I doubt this book needs any introduction, but just in case: Family moves into hotel to look after it on the off-season. Hotel is haunted. Family becomes hotel victims.

I really like King’s writing style for this. It’s a much shorter book than IT which I recently read, and feels more akin to The Dark Tower series in the pacing and flow. There’s lots of background story and scene setting, but it’s done with a different kind of grace and speed. I really like it.

I think however, that this book has become a victim of it’s own legacy. I went in as blind as I could be, but I had of course heard of the book. And I’d heard about the book.

I’ve heard it’s the scariest book ever. I’ve heard of people who had to stop reading it. I’ve heard of people who had nightmares for weeks after…

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