Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The lodge

I love my lodge. I do, at least when the sun shines and the birds flock to the feeders that I put out for them, and the sky is a promising blue, or when the fire is lit and the living room is cosy. When it is cold, I certainly know about it.

I have cried before. That was the night before my electric blanket arrived; the temperature was -3 degrees. I dread the cold, which has my hands and feet turning interesting hues of blue, white and red. My blood circulation, which has never been good, has been declining over the last few years and I end up with crippling pain and the threat of chillblains.

I have a choice, I know I do: to stay in a wooden lodge, no more than a few planks of wood from the elements, or I could move into a real house and be sheltered and warm. Choices are never so easy, nor as black and white as they seem. If I moved from the lodge, would I miss the closeness to nature? It is unique, isolated and peaceful. We have pheasants walking up to the windows and an acre and a half of garden to enjoy. 

Soon it will be summer, and the winter will seem far away. I am looking forward to bbqs on the veranda, and long strolls in the countryside. After the summer, maybe even after autumn, I probably won't be living in the lodge...I can't go through another winter like this one. I am done with cold places. But the idea of leaving makes me sad.

The problem is, I can't see myself living in a "normal" house again either. It is strange; as the lodge has transformed into a home, I have transformed along with it. The lodge is me, an external part of me. It is how I have always wanted to live: a wooden home with the bare essentials. If I could have a choice, I would build my own wooden house with insulation and eco-friendly heating (always heating, heating is never over rated), so that I can mix the world I love with a world of the essential warmth that I need.

Here's dreaming of finding a way...

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Catsitting and studying

I am housesitting again. A friend from work has had to go away for a few weeks and I agreed to help out for one of those. I don't mind it so much, especially as I get to look after two very cute cats. One is a Persian, the other a Selkirk Rex (known as the Ginger Ninja).


There was a time where I seemed to be catsitting more than I was at home. That was last year before I moved into the lodge. Sometimes I was paid, sometimes I wasn't. It was just a break from living in shared accommodation with someone who was not mentally well, and who smoked too much cannabis for his own good. Now, I don't really have to as I have a home that I like, but the advantage is that it is close to work and it saves me a fortune in fuel. Plus...the cats are cute. Did I mention that they are cute? ;-)

There are few distractions in this place. Like my own home, there is no T.V., although there is actually internet (always a distraction for me, but I'm doing my best). I have a lot to do: I only have 20 weeks left until two very big exams for my course, so I have to study; I have a photography job to finish; exercise to do; a book proposal or two to write... But, somehow, I just enjoy sitting by the fire relaxing. It isn't so much procrastination as willful neglect of my responsibilities. Sometimes, you get more done after a bit of rest. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.

It is ironic about the course. It is actually one I started about 3-4 years ago during a negative relationship. She was doing it too but got frustrated and angry with me when I could pick it up so easily while she had to work hard at it. I gave it up, but when I started working in IT I realised that I needed proof that I could do the job (you have to think about your C.V.). The thing is, now that I do IT day in day out, the course doesn't really cover any new ground for me, I just don't remember specifics (why would I...Google is my friend!). I did, however, choose it specifically to help me move into IT management, which is already where a third of my job lies. The thing with IT management is that you don't have to know everything, but you do have to know enough to make sure a contractor isn't screwing you over (I can't tell you the number of times men try to pull the wool over my eyes because they think that, as a woman, I know nothing. I actually enjoy that game...because I enjoy the look on their faces when you let them know that you know).

I have set myself a fairly easy study program, so easy that I haven't actually started it yet. I can see myself cramming before the exam... it's like my degree all over again. I never learn.

I have promised myself that I will study today, although it is hard when the Ginger Ninja is lying beside me wanting cuddles. I could just have another lazy day...there's always tomorrow, right? ;-)

Saturday, 9 March 2013

To Good Health and friendship

I had a health scare. It was only a few weeks ago but the word biopsy sends shivers through me even now. It wasn't dramatic, but for a moment I experienced fear. Fear of the 'C' word. 

I have been through this before, 5 or 6 years ago. Same sort of thing: a lump where lumps should not be. It was fine! I had my ultrasound and they told me that I didn't have cancer. The end. I have never even thought of it since, until I found the new lump which felt...different. A scary different.

Things have changed in the NHS since the last time. For a start, things take a lot longer and there were far more women being shipped through the same process. Then I had the biopsy sprung on me (I was expecting to be told I could go home, and I felt myself shaking as they told me. I'm not scared of things like that, it was the shock). It hurt.

I received a non-diagnosis. This is the NHS' way of saying 'we don't see any cancer but we aren't going to say you haven't got it in case you sue our arses if, on the remote possibility, you do and we missed it'. It does not comfort you.

I was also told that I'm suffering from stress (well, it was a stressful situation...). The consultant asked me about my lifestyle and job. He was very passionate about stress in the work place being the cause of so many illnesses. I didn't realise that it can increase the risk of cancer as well. I have always just accepted that my job can be stressful and carried on.

Over the winter, I have not been out exercising like I used to. Sure, I still go to kung fu which can burn up to 1000 calories in an evening, but that's pretty much it.

Exercise for me is like water to a plant: I need it. Even S commented on that fact when we were stuck in the car for hours travelling up to Scotland. Without it, my stress levels increase, and I get a bit grumpy and restless. So, stage one is to get back into running (no problem. In fact, I have been waiting for the lighter evenings). I went out on Wednesday and it was really good. Oh. and I seem to have been signed up for a half marathon. I don't know how...

Because I am virtually in constant pain, I have been told to change my diet. I don't know why but I am rebelling. Being told to do something for your own good is fine...but being told you can't have something makes you instantly want it. Why is that? 

The irony is, other than caffeine and the very rare piece of cake I managed to acquire from work, I had no interest in these bad foods before I was told "no". Now I find myself running around work hunting for biscuits like a ravenous vulture searching a desert for carrion. I am not impressed but I can't help it.

I am hoping everything will balance out in the end.

Rebellions aside, the whole thing has taught me a number of lessons. 1. Life is much more fragile than we choose to think. 2. good health is important. 3. friends, who are there for you no matter what, are the most precious gift.

I also discovered the people who aren't genuine friends...people who actually didn't really give a shit about my situation and cared more about themselves and the fact that I wasn't there to help them with their dramas. I'm 33 and I'm still learning.

Friendship is a two-way thing. Some friends are always going to be transitory (i.e. you need that kind of friendship then you move on) , and other friends are with you for life.

My friend, M, sat with me for the full four hours of the first hospital session. I knew other friends were there for me if I needed to talk. That is friendship.

So two things you shouldn't take for granted: your health and your friends. You wouldn't do very well without them.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

I have been to Scotland; Edinburgh then Loch Lomond. What a beautiful place, the mountains and the water.

It would have been ideal but I couldn't seem to shake off the shadow of work. Then I got a stomach bug on the way home.

The thing is, I couldn't drive home on Sunday as planned so I had to do it yesterday when I felt well enough. I knew how bad this would look: like I wanted to skip an extra day off, keep the holiday feeling alive for 24 more hours. But what can you do? Show photographs of you projectile vomiting?

Back-to-Work meetings seem to make it more stressful somehow. I am informed that it is to make sure that I am ok, but secretly I think it is to make sure you're not taking the piss. I like my HR manager, but I am uncomfortable with what is written down (the smallest detail).

I returned to work today before I was well enough. (I wasn't contagious, just exhausted and achey). I am paying for it now, after a 14 hour day working and doing my course. I have realised that if I didn't spend so much time worrying about what other's think of me, I may have allowed myself to recover somewhat. My honesty should surely speak for itself...shouldn't it?

In today's world, though, too many people are faking illness rather than go to work, so all of us have to pay for it.

Anyway. Grumbles over. I did rather enjoy Loch Lomond and I am sure I will visit the area again soon, though maybe via plane next time.