Sunday, 13 November 2011

Time for a rethink

It's a gorgeous day here.  Bright sunshine, blue sky with no clouds in sight, and dare I say it, almost warm.

Of course, I can't get outside to enjoy it - I'm sitting at the desk, looking out, my plaster casted leg propped up on a bag stuffed full of clothes due to go to Oxfam, the next time I'm fit enough to pass by.

Howard is out in the garden, hanging out the laundry, tending to the hens, and planting my Spring bulbs.  As I usually do all the planting and sowing, I wrote him out step by step instructions for flower bulbs, alliums and overwintering broad beans and peas.  This included information on the potting compost mixes for each.  Now,  I'm not one for precision, but Howard, being a graphic designer, is used to working in millimetres.  So three parts compost to one part grit or Perlite to me means for every three scoops of compost, add some grit.  If it doesn't feel right, add a bit more of what's lacking.  Howard measures things EXACTLY.  Mind you, I should have known.  When we started at the first allotment, ten years back, he used a ruler to space the seed potatoes.  And the completion of the pruning of the Southernwood along the front path will wait until I am fit to do it myself - without a ruler.

I can't complain really.  He's had to everything around the house since I've been laid up, rather than just his usual tasks.  Every morning before leaving for work, he's made me a packed lunch plus healthy snacks to keep me going through the day.  Until buying a spare electric kettle late last week, he was also making a couple of flasks of just boiled water so I could have tea throughout the day.

As I'm relatively immobile, I'm not expending the usual amount of energy.  Therefore, I don't need the usual ration of carbs.  But if you're bored, frustrated and being punished with daytime TV, what lifts your spirit?  Cake.  Or biscuits.  It's a struggle to get downstairs to the larder, and I need both arms to brace myself when I drag myself back up the stairs, so I have to make sure my ration for the day is eked out.

This has meant a re-think of my diet, concentrating on lean protein, vitamin rich fruit & veg, plus good sources of calcium.  So lots of fish, chicken, vegetables (especially brassicas) and good quality cheese.  Any bread we eat is the best quality - sourdough, rye or sodabread.

It has been enjoyable sitting down together and planning what we both will eat.  We try to put thought into what we eat anyway, but having to adapt meals for someone who needs to build up strength without adding extra calories has meant we cannot fall back on traditional simple comfort foods.  That said, as a reward for so much hard work, I ordered a pizza on Friday so Howard didn't need to cook.  I ravenously knocked back my share and had heartburn till the morning.  Lesson learned.

Howard is a good cook, though he does prefer the reassurance of instructions.  I have no complaints about the catering.  Last Sunday he made a Spanish style casserole of chicken, tomatoes and butterbeans.  He managed to stretch it to make two lunches by setting aside the chicken thighs and pureeing the rest of the dish to make a soup and a salad.  Last night we had a panfried fillet of Mackerel, with a warm salad of bacon, fennel & carrot.   The rest of the carrots and fennel, along with some onions, leeks and celery, will be finely chopped and turned into a soup to last us for a couple of lunches.  The first day it will be finely chopped veg in a broth with pearl barley, the second day it will go through the blender to make a thick soup.

Once we've had a successful new meal, I'm trying to write down the details and keep it on file, along with the written instructions for garden tasks.  Howard is going to do the same for the various tasks I delegate to him, plus emergency info, such as the location of stopcocks in the house.  So if both of us are indisposed, the poor creature who has to look after us will know what to do to keep the house ticking over.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

I was a sickly child.  Asthma often kept me at home, stripped of energy, though rarely bedridden.  These were the days before daytime TV as we know it - just news, Watch With Mother and sometimes a film.

So days at home we spent reading or playing with my Britains farm models - especially the horses and riders.

I still read vocariously, though now not always because it's the only thing that doesn't sap my strength.  Those farm animal toys are now collectable, and I have probably more of them than I had as a child, though some elude me.  Little gifts my Nan bought me to cheer me up - the chimps tea party and the milkman, pony and cart for instance, now go for huge sums on eBay.  There are even scale models made  especially for collectors - I think a spin off from war games scene makers, and I confess to adding to my collection from those.  I mean, if some grown men can get away with train sets.......

So here I am. Stuck at home, immobile for the next few weeks.  Much of my time will be spent reading and writing, but I also have tv, dvds and the internet.  Even so, I feel frustrated by being stuck indoors.  I feel like I have been separated from the real world.  Looking out of the window at the woods, listening to neighbours in the street if anything makes it worse.

Not really a huge fan of Robert Louis Stevenson, apart from one small passage in Treasure Island, when Ben Gunn is asked what he has done with all the time spent alone and he replies "Dreaming of cheese, mainly toasted", and this poem.  I can identify with both, fully.:

The Land of Counterpane
When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Confined to quarters

Forty nine years and three months.  All that time I could proudly say I had never broken a bone, thanks to including quality dairy rich foods in my diet.

Well that's over.  Last night I slipped in the dark on the way home, and turned my ankle so badly I have fractured it.  Spent most of the evening in A&E, before being sent home with a temporary plaster cast.  That was taken off today, but due to the ligament damage I'd also done, my foot was too swollen to have the proper cast, so I have temporary cast No. 2 on for a week.

Been given crutches which are impossible to use on a slope, so stuck indoors for now.  Actually, stuck upstairs, and the stairs are near impossible to negotiate alone.

Suspect I may do a good impression of Jack Nicholson in The Shining before the six weeks are up.