Monday, 5 October 2009

Autumnal ramblings

I'm warning you now – this blog is going to be a jumble of thoughts and musings! My mind is leap-frogging from one thing to the next but is totally reflective of the way I'm feeling right now.

Last month, I went to the Brompton Hospital in London for my routine check-up and had a CT scan of my lungs to”update your records”. Nothing to worry about, I was told, it was just that it had been over 5 years since the last one. I haven't the energy to bore you with the details but the upshot is that I have some marks showing on my lungs and they don't know what they are. More scar tissue from the fibrosis caused by my Scleroderma? A pneumonia-like infection? TB? …..... and the dreaded question: cancer?

Further tests were quickly carried out: a bronchoscopy with lung wash and biopsy. The results: inconclusive. Negative for TB. Negative, currently, for cancer which should make me jump up and down with elation but, as they can't say what it IS, they won't rule it out. I'm popping antibiotics and steroids and have to wait until 10 November for a repeat scan. If it's still there, I shall have to have a needle biopsy, which carries the risk of deflating the lung – great. Limbo....... fear and dread and, above all, a kind of numbness.

My usual exuberance as my favourite season, Autumn, arrives is not there. I'm still doing my normal things: hedgerow foraging, preserving, gathering in the wood, lighting the Rayburn, putting throws over chair backs and changing cushions, but there's something missing this year. I'm doing it all on auto pilot and it makes me feel sad.

Normally, there's nothing better than picking the last of the blackberries in the autumn sunshine, listening to the buzzards calling over head and smiling as the robin lands on a nearby branch to make sure I leave some for him, cocking his head at me to show his button black, beady eye. I talk to him and he chirrups back at me before he flies off. The woodpecker flashes by – a streak of green and red and then all falls still, save for the gentle chomping of the cows over the hedge as they tug at the grass. They are Gloucester cows and belong to my neighbour, Charles Martell, who milks them for his cheese. He is most famous for Stinking Bishop, but I prefer the single Gloucester and Hereford Hop – and so does my fridge!

Returning home, the kettle is gently steaming on the Rayburn and I make tea as I sort out containers to freeze this last picking of blackberries. My cupboards already hold jars of jam – damson, strawberry, blackcurrant and plum, alongside kilner jars of chutney which will be ready at Christmas. Christmas: it seems a long time away in my mind at the moment but, in reality, is just weeks away. By then, I'll know, won't I? One way or the other. Part of me is terrified at finding out, the other part just wants to get on with it. Is ignorance really bliss, when it stops you “feeling” properly; when it numbs your senses?

The logs are chopped and stacked in the porches as well as the log store. This is the first year we have been properly self sufficient in wood and we are so excited. We have a proper “tree coppicing timetable” now and our next session will be in November. The oak, ash, hazel, holly, plum and apple trees are all ear-marked for attention and the pruned limbs will provide next year's wood. And, of course, nothing beats the smell and sight of wood smoke curling up from your chimney and the anticipation of walking into a room with the fire or log burner on. We collected our first batch of sweet chestnuts from down the lane at the weekend – small and sweet, roasted over the fire and then the sound of cracking as J throws the shells onto the flames and all traces of our snack are gone.

Outside our bedroom window, the hawthorn berries are turning darker red – not yet their final ruby red colour - and each morning I watch as the birds dance along the branches. They haven't started eating them yet (they're not quite ready) but, when they are, I love to watch the blue tits hanging upside down as they pull a luscious berry into their beaks and gobble them down. The blackbirds love them too but they are too heavy to get at the ones on the end and, sometimes, they try to fly like they are treading water, hovering near the end of the branch to pull the last ones off. The finches (green, gold and chaffinch) love to eat the rose hips from the roses growing by the gate.

The other weekend, it was the monthly flea market held at the Malvern Three Counties Showground. We don't go every month but this time I came back with a gorgeous “granny blanket” - a bargain at just £12. It's huge and more than covers a double bed, but I use them over the backs of chairs and sofas for when the evenings get really chilly. I love to light the fire, make a mug of tea and curl up at the end of the day with a good book and a blanket over my lap, especially on those damp, misty days when all you want to do is retreat indoors. J bought some medals and military buttons and I also got a lovely old oak framed picture (I am going to change the actual picture inside) for £5 !!

This weekend, apart from the blackberry picking, I made lots of tomato and basil soup with the left over ripe tomatoes, and froze it down ready for warming lunches. Oh! And I made banana cake with the 2 dead bananas in my fruit bowl! My neighbour popped in to say “Hi” and commented that the smells were wafting down the lane from the open windows, making him so peckish he had to come and investigate! That's a first!

Until next time......... enjoy the autumn sunshine.xx


Elizabethd said...

What a gorgeous blanket you found. I can just imagine curling up in its warmth.

ChrisH said...

Lovely to hear from you Woozle. I hope that all will be well with you - I'm sure it will with all of 'us' behind you. I loved reading about what you've been doing... until I got to the soup. Bleurgh! How I hate tomato!

Woozle1967 said...

Aw, Chris, I only like my own!! Can't bear shop bought. Is that tomatoes full stop, or just soup?

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Helloooooo you - have been reading your posts at work and have been unable to comment but have been thinking about you lots. I had to have the TB tests in March after a really vile chest infection - they are still inconclusive, so I know where you are coming from. Anyway take care and fingers crossed from Shropshire - just up the road like

LittleBrownDog said...

Oh, Woozle - all that uncertainty must be horrid for you. I do hope you get some good news soon. It does sound as though they're keeping a very close eye on you though.

Beautiful descriptions of birds on the hawthorn, and how well organised you are with all your jams and chutneys. If I were your neighbour, I think I'd be round every five minutes. Love those blankets, too.

pinkfairygran said...

Thank you Woozle, for leaving comment on my blog, and for this wonderful blog posting. I got a sense of sadness in there at times which is only to be expected with this medical problem hanging over you. I DO know what that's like, though that's no consolation I know. All your followers and friends will be waiting to hear your news, anxious to know that all is well.
Loved the blanket, the sight of all that wood and the images of fires, snuggly blankets, cups of tea and good books. Bliss....

CAMILLA said...

Dear Woozle,

It is the waiting that must be a worrying time for you, I am praying that the news will be good news in November dear Woozle.

Gorgeous blanket and how I love to see the plentiful supply of chopped wood ready for the fire, all snug and cosy.

Yes to home made Tomatoe soup, one of my favourites.!

Lovely pictures to your post Woozle, the sofa with blanket and cushions looks soo comfortable.!

Thank you kindly for your heartfelt good wishes for my Grandson.


rachel said...

Such a lovely post, certainly not written on autopilot. Hopefully the tests will show that despite all the worry, there isn't anything seriously wrong. Best wishes to you.

lampworkbeader said...

Woozle, how rotten you have such uncertainty to cope with. I enjoyed reading what you've been doing, even the tomato soup ChrisH

prettyshabby said...

fingers crossed for you,lovely lady..I do hope it all gets sorted out,being in limbo is horrid.The waiting for answers can seem endless some days.(I speak from experience!!)
The hospital sound pretty laid back about it all so that's a good sign.
I'll be thinking of you on the 10th. x

ps we were at the flea-market too recently! Massive isn't it?

Calico Kate said...

Oh Woozle am thinking of you and am really hoping that all will be well. It sounds like you have everything in hand I am so impressed with you regimented rows of preserves. And as for your wood and fires and the Rayburn... well I can't speak for the envy of it - it all sounds so wonderfully cosy.

elizabethm said...

What a beautiful reflective post and how hard for you to be in limbo. I have been thinking about you over a lot and hoping all is well.


Oh Woozle, how I understand how you feel. I simply cannot settle to anything when I am in limbo - and given the nature of your 'in limbo-ness' I also understand your lack of appetite for the things you normally love so much. But well done for trying to keep going - keeping the home fires burning, literally! Your home-made jams and soups and things sound really fantastic - and I LOVE tomato and basil soup! My tomatoes are still green...sigh. In fact, as I write, I realise I was meant to make elderberry and apple chutney today. I'd better scuttle off and do it...!


PS: forgot the most important bit: thinking of you, and fingers crossed that it will all be ok. I'm sure it will.

Paul Swalwell said...

How very quaint. Very pleasent British blogging, always a pleasure. Enjoy autumn.