dear diary >> another day, another birthday

Goodness don’t the years roll by. Another birthday has landed today, another year older… though probably not any wiser.

I was up and about at 6am to enjoy the cool air in our back garden. Breakfast outdoors is quite a novelty for us as normally it might be too cold, cloudy, wet or windy – today it was just right but even as I type the temperature is increasing and very soon we will be scuttling back indoors to cool off; our living room being the coolest part of the house once the sun moves round.

Some friends are coming round early to beat the heat. I have decided against making the fruit scones I had planned – it is far to risky to put the oven on – the kitchen will be like an oven soon enough. What a shame we cannot bottle this heat for the winter months to save on our bills!

I had a complete overhaul at the osteopath’s yesterday – my back problems are not doing too badly but in the course of conserving my back I have managed to do something to both my shoulder and knee whilst bending and over reaching. Added to which my neck is so tight and this has affected my jaw and I have woken up a few mornings with it a bit displaced. My lovely therapist worked on everything yesterday to try and bring some relief to the discomfort but I find any movement at the moment quite difficult. Walking, which was good for my back is now aggravating my knee, the cat / cradle exercises I did daily for my back are not possible because of my shoulder. I feel I am falling apart and learning to moderate my activity and movement to prevent further problems is a struggle.

DH, meanwhile, stripped the beds yesterday then washed and ironed the sheets and duvet covers. My contribution to the housework is limited to the dusting and writing a shopping list.

Our improvements in the home and garden and to life in general continue. If you remember Improvement is my focus word this year – some improvements are bigger than others but all of them have added quality to our life in some way. Painting the greenhouse has been on the list a while but often when we have the time the weather is against us. This week DH managed to apply 3 coats to the front and one side but has had to lay his brushes down at the moment due to this intense heat. It now matches the shed and I love the transfromation. It should also preserve the wood at the same time.

The back garden has a few pretty corners amongst the mess. I planted bush tomatoes, cougettes and potatoes this year as well as a few varieties of salad leaves and radishes.

Thank you once again for all your lovely comments – both those of well wishes for my ailments and for the hand made cards. And yes Sue we learn just how much we need our backs to be good and strong and in working order – I am slowly learning how to use mine better. It is not easy after giving it a lifetime of abuse…too much gardening, bending and sitting at computers.

My computer time is limited now so I am using the time to post rather than comment or answer comments at the moment. Normal service might well resume one day!

Have a good day x

Creating >> ScrapHappy July

Hello, everyone and welcome to my ScrapHappy challenge for July. BBP (before back problem) I had spent a lovely afternoon in my craft room making a few scrappy cards. I am sure, like me, many of you crafters have quite a few bits and pieces of scrap papers lying around and rather than waste these scraps I often have a session to try and use them up.

I also found a box of ‘left over’ pressed flower heads that needed using up as overtime they fade and become too dry and start falling apart. So I got out my 3 boxes of assorted card blanks – (the brown ones were left over from my daughter’s wedding a few years ago) and began.

These aperture trifold cards are brilliant for setting off very simple designs with flower heads when set against a vibrant coloured background. I decided against stamping any wording onto the front of the card to keep them quite simple. The card on the right is a colour copy of a watercolour sketch from my sketch book – I took half a dozen copies and made some very useful Thank you cards and although my painting is not brilliant cropping and framing can do wonders for a little sketch.

For these cards I firstly printed out the Happy Birthday onto some textured paper using one of the new caligraphy fonts and then just decorated around the wording with a few of the flower heads.

I had a packet of tiny handmade paper cards in my stash that I had bought years ago and I thought they might make nice gift tags. So nothing is wasted I used some of the tiniest scraps of handmade papers to create the chequered background onto which I placed just one contrasting flower head in each square and collectively they now make quite an attractive design. Even tiny bits of fern can be effective when mounted.

Whenever I pick a fresh batch of flowers to press I always collect a few forget-me-nots they are my favourite but quite delicate to mount. As they are quite dainty I find they are best grouped together in some way for a better effect.

And lastly I always keep old birthday cards and salvage any useful pieces of wrapping paper from presents I have been given – they seem far too good to just throw away. Some of the cards I pass on to a lady in our village who turns them into ‘new’ cards for charity but I also crop some of them, re-mount them on scraps of printed papers or pieces of used wrapping paper that is still in good uncreased condition onto a card blank. Dotty backgrounds are always good.

With the cost of cards these days in the shops this is a very frugal way to make your own and anyone can have a go at making some. You can use any scraps of paper, wrapping paper and card to make some lovely cards – I keep a box of scraps – used old cards, pages from glossy magazines, pieces of packaging and wrapping paper to create mine – the only outlay is the card blanks.

Take a look at the other lovely blogs in the ScrapHappy challenge.

Kate, Gun, Eva, Sue, Lynn, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys, Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen, Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol, Preeti, Edith, Debbierose.

dear diary >> my first day out

Once again thank you for the lovely messages and advice / links and well wishes. It all helps.

I couldn’t help myself though in the last day or two and did far more than was good for me….so today will be a rest day to recover. I so want to get back to normal, but my back problems soon let me know if I over do it and put the brakes on or rather… turn the pain on, and that quickly puts a halt to any ideas I might have of attempting too many housekeeping chores. I find it more painful mentally not being able to do even the most mundane of jobs around the house and I cannot chance anything at the moment that might ultimately prevent me going on our holiday with the family and grandchildren in August. Being well enough for then is my priority goal.

This weekend we had planned a little test run of a short outing to the nearby village of Emley who were hosting an Open Gardens event. It was to be my first proper day out – well not quite a day – just a couple of hours.

Emley must be one of the highest villages in the local Huddersfield area and nestles besides the famous Emley Moor mast which is a Grade 2 listed building and the tallest free standing structure in the UK. The views from there are amazing. Emley has a population of just 1,500 compared with my own village of 8,500 and has retained that wonderful community spirit. As I knew I would not be able to walk around all of the gardens we chose a few clustered around the church so that when I needed to I could have a rest inside the church and a cup of tea. Before we left we drove to the last garden because it was a little way out of the village and this turned out to be my favourite.

As many readers may know wandering around the open gardens has become one of my leisure pursuits during the summer and has been the activity I have missed the most since I have been out of action. It was an absolute joy to spend a couple of hours soaking up the delights of each individual garden….I felt quite intoxicated by the time I had to finally give in and call it a day but the effort was worth it and any discomfort I had during the evening was outweighed by the pleasure.

Even though I have been lounging about DH has been busy and now I am able to help with a few more of the household chores he has been able to get back to his own mounting task list – one of which was to finish the little greenhouse that we had installed in 2020. He has added another shelf to the back wall.

This lovely poster came in a little pack of old gardening leaflets from the Preston Park outdoor museum and I have mounted it on cardboard to hang in my greenhouse – it seems a shame to keep it hidden away.

Last week he managed to recover an old pallet from a neighbour’s skip to put in some more staging. I love the vintage look of the wood from old pallets and even though we are going to paint the greenhouse the shelves will remain unpainted.

Yesterday, we bought the paint as it was on offer at the Crown Decorator shop in town and whilst the dry weather holds DH hopes to make a start.

The garden as a whole this year is a mess. The patio has a heap of stone on it that we found advertised on our local Freecycle site ready to build a small retaining wall around part of a border that slopes away so there is not much room on there for sitting out. Bit by bit with his help I have been emptying some of the many pots and planters that have accumulated around the garden. I can only manage to do one or two at a time so it is slow progress. A lot of the pots only contained self-seeded plants and weeds where the original plant had long ago died. I had decided to cut down on the number of pots we have at the beginning of the year BBP (Before Back Problem) mainly because there were too many for our lovely neighbour to water when we are away and with water in our butts being limited during these hot spells and too expensive from the tap it seemed a good decision.

I am at my limit now for sitting – I apologise in advance that it might be a bit incoherent and littered with any number of grammatical errors but it is an attempt to try and start blogging again and as my posts are certainly going to be erratic anyone who would like an alert when I do manage to write just click the follow button. xx

dear diary >> just catching up

It has been awhile and so long since I have written anything very much that I am finding it hard to put pen to paper so to speak and my camera is feeling quite forgotten lingering on the office desk as I haven’t taken a photo for weeks….quite unlike me.

But firstly….how is everyone – very well I hope and enjoying the summer and getting life back to some kind of ‘after Covid’ normal. Though I know of more people with Covid at the moment than ever before. From time to time I manage to have a little catch up with the blogs I follow and find everyone seems busy in their gardens, or decluttering and I know some of you have even left jobs and moved house.

I am still hoping that normal or some kind of new normal will happen for me soon now I have my results, at long last. You may be curious to know what has kept me away so long (I know I would be); it really is no secret…..at the time whilst I was waiting for scans and results no-one had any idea of what might be wrong and it could have been anything from the return of the cancer or just something quite trivial – though my symptoms were not suggesting the latter. I came back from Scotland at the end of March and sitting in the car for such a long journey was the start of my symptoms as a day or two later I could not bear with pain all down my back and my feet and legs became quite painful and numb too, to the point when I could no longer function and just had to lie down.

Well, the results from the MRI scan have shown a right lateral extruded disc at L4 and L5 level but they also found something called a Tarlov cyst on the left at S1 level growing on one of the spinal nerves in the spinal canal. These cysts are quite rare, often don’t produce symptoms until they grow in size…. which is what has happened to me – it had been aggravated and enlarged quite rapidly. So presently I have a lot of nerve problems going on as both the herniated disc and the cyst are pressing on the nerves that run from my lower back down my legs to my feet making them both painful and quite numb in places. As the disc heals the feeling should come back to my right side but the cyst is not something that is easily dealt with as it consists of cebral fluid that fills the nerve root and expands to then compress on surrounding nerves. Removal of them as you can imagine is only done as a last resort and can cause irreversible paralysis, draining them is a more usual procedure but one that doesn’t have a good outcome as they just fill back up again over time. The cyst is aggravated by continuous sitting or standing – walking is not quite so bad and it is a condition that is managed rather than cured. When the discomfort gets quite bad lying down is my only release.

It is the reason that I cannot sit for very long these days to write a post, edit photos or read and comment on your blogs. At its’ worst sitting to eat a meal was too much but gradually this is getting a little better. I have spent so much time lying flat reading and watching mindless TV when of course what I would really like to do is cook and garden and even go for a day out somewhere. Travelling in the car is almost a complete no go area and the most I have managed so far is a trip down to town. We are not even able to go up to Scotland and I wonder what the future holds for us now with our retirement cottage. I am not sure at this point if gardening will ever be something I can do again and DH is finding it a struggle to keep up with everything himself both in the garden and the house, though I must say he irons beautifully (something I never knew!!).

I am now having physical therapy on my back for the disc problem and with a mixture of gentle exercise, plenty of short walks on the flat and rest periods during the day it gradually seems to be healing itself. I am hoping too that the cyst might settle down if I am not aggravating it anymore with constant gardening and travelling.

So that is my story so far and a big thank you to everyone for your lovely messages they have really helped to keep my spirits up and hopefully as things begin to settle down I will be able to post a little more often.

Until then have a lovely summer. xx