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Archive for June, 2008

My big news

Posted by --- on Saturday 21 June, 2008

Tomorrow – or rather today –  is a BIG DAY. I see my L.

In April (the day before his 20th birthday) he went to visit his girlfriend and hasn’t been back since. It’s a long story and one that I don’t want to pour out online but it looks like he’s left home… I think… if I ask him he says he hasn’t and is just spreading his wings a bit but he has now rented a room and is no longer with his girlfriend. He talks of getting a job there or going to uni. He’s met lots of new people and it sounds like he’s having a great time; I wouldn’t change anything but I miss him so much. I sobbed for weeks. I cried so hard I could hardly stand or breath sometimes. I couldn’t talk about him to anyone and he would come into my head at the most inconvenient time – standing on the playground waiting for the twins, in a queue in Asda etc – and my eyes would fill, a huge lump would form in my throat and tears would spill down my face. This has only stopped this week and mainly because I only gloss over him when I think about him (if that makes sense) If I actually think about him and that he won’t be here anymore, bouncing about and chatting and laughing with me then it kills me again – just writing it has set me off. I’ve lost my son, my friend, my confidant, I miss him telling me about his day, his dreams, the new people he’s met, the new experiences he’s had. I’ve watched him turn into this amazing man and I’m so proud of him! But now, I think, he’s gone.

Then out of the blue, he texts me and says that he will be quite close to home on Saturday (which is also Litha – the summer solstice which is another story about wanting to go to Stonehenge but that can be next year) and can we go and see him. I would love to and am going to but at the same time I think it will set me off emotionally again – not that that will stop me! I think it will be hard for the twins too. Poor K can’t speak to him on the phone without sobbing and crying so hard he can’t talk (not that we’ve talked much – twice). J handles it better but said tonight “When you say L, you do mean my brother L don’t you? Are we really going to see him? I thought he’d left for good. I don’t think he’ll ever come home and I never thought I’d see him again! I can’t wait till tomorrow now!” He’s asked me to take some of his work to show people for interviews which all points to his new life away from us. He will also be with a new friend and the friend’s parents which I will find really hard to cope with. Not because I’m jealous of them but because I’m embarrassed about myself. I’m so big now. I don’t look at my reflection anymore but I went to buy new clothes for tomorrow and went into the changing rooms. It had a full length mirror and I was devastated by my reflection. I have an image in my head – not that I actually picture myself often – but it doesn’t compare to reality. Its about 10 years and 5 stone out of date… I really need to do something but I don’t know what. I looked up my points for ww ( I used to go so have all the books etc) and as before, I don’t eat enough to make up my daily points allowance. If I tried to match it I would gain weight I’m sure! I have been cutting down on things and have lost almost a stone but that’s not going to help my self image for tomorrow is it? Also, I’m told that the parents of L’s friend are quite wealthy, well travelled and a higher social class (posh was the term…). We have never travelled, aren’t in poverty but not well off and are working class. With my confidence at such a low level, I’ll just feel as if I’m not good enough, out of my depth and feel as if they’re judging me. I’m not unintelligent and I know that they probably wont be but that won’t help as I’ll be judging myself harshly in their eyes and probably unfoundedly as I’m sure they aren’t that shallow. Oh well, scared as I am, I want to see L so I’ll be there no matter what.

My other news for this week is about teeth.. yep teeth. A month or so ago one of my molars, in fact after the mistakes of a previous dentist, one of my few remaining molars, had a huge piece drop out. With my characteristic love of dentists I decided that as I felt no pain, I’d ignore it. Then the pain started. I’ve had a run of bad luck with dentists who seem to make mistakes with my mouth. They’ve pulled out wrong teeth (yes plural), perfomed major (and I mean major as in 5 lots of surgery under general anaesthetics to correct a facial injury I had as a child) operations that left me eating out of a straw for months on end and then lost all of my notes and left dentistry so that I can never have normal teeth due to the damage done to the roots. I had one dentist attempt the removal of an infected tooth with an abscess without anaesthesia with a nurse pinning me down, I’ve had fillings put in that have covered the teeth beside the one filled so that I can no longer floss, fillings that have eroded my gum line as they were over filled.. and more… Anyway, my confidence in dentists raises nothing about zero. I’m not saying there are no good/nice ones but those I’ve seen have been in situations that I can’t see them regularly. My last dentist was supposed to be specialised in people with dental phobias but made you feel like he wasn’t interested as he was far too busy. Ok whine over (though with dentists I’m only just starting!)

So, yes pain… I’ve been taking paracetamol and ibuprofen which is no longer working. I dont want to go to the last dentist I registered with so went about looking for another. The UK dentist problem is well documented but I was lucky to find one accepting new patients and less than 10 miles away. I rang, registered and was told the earliest anyone can see me is August..! No that’s not a typo. It’s now June and I can go in 7 weeks. The pain relief is no longer working and tonight I took codeine and wine… seems to be taking the edge of but last night I was up till 4am with it, managed to fall asleep. Woke at 7 with my face throbbing, took more pain killers and tried to sleep again. Our local hospital have a service that will see you if you are unable to register with a dentist but I went before (one of the good dentists – the other was at Stafford hospital and if I could find out who he was and where he practices I would travel the country to be his patient as he was so good and really put me at east.) and the last time I rang they said that I have had time to register at my own dentist and I should go and find one instead of seeing them. I’m hoping that they won’t react the same this time. I can’t go tomorrow anyway as its my BIG DAY and I don’t think they’re open on Sunday. It means I need to cope till monday and I’m not really sure how. Nightimes are the worst. I’m doing ok right now but thats alcohol and drugs for you, in fact I feel more spaced out than anything (prob why I’m typing so much on here too!) but another 3 days isn’t appealing at all.

OK now I’ve realised that I’m inebriated and waffling I’m going to finish here. Wish me luck with my BIG DAY and a succesful dental outcome wont you? ~x~

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Elderflowers

Posted by --- on Saturday 21 June, 2008

I actually got around to syphoning the wine from out of the shed tonight. It’s rice and raisin, very dry and has been there for months as I didn’t know what to do with it! I will update all the info properly when I find my notes. I think it had an SG of .990 after its initial fermentation so I added sugar to make it sweeter and was trying to get my head around C.J.J. Berry’s chapter on Specific Gravity and sugar content. He talks about alcohol content though and I’m more interested in taste than strength – I’d much rather have a weaker wine that is to my palette and I enjoy drinking than one that isn’t as nice but blows your socks off! The wine in the shed still seems to be fermenting as the lid was bowed out with the internal pressure.

I bought a lidded bucket (for elderflower recipes) and some new rubber bungs (for the airlocks on the rice and raisin) from the market today; £3.95 for the bucket and 5 bungs at 30p each. K went to a friends party and J went to work with S (delivery indian take-away) tonight so I made a sugar solution with 1lb of sugar in a jug mixed with enough wine to make up to 1.5 pts. I then added 1/2 pt to each demijohn before topping them up with the racked wine. I’ve no idea why I’ve done this – it just seemed like the right thing to do lol. I’ve numbered them 1,2, and 3 in order of how they were filled – number 3 may have some sediment in it. I then added airlocks, cotton wool to deter the fruit flies and put them back in the shed. Number 2 looked like it was still bubbling away but I’ll check tomorrow.

After fetching K back from the party we spent 2 hours in next door’s jungle trying to get to the elderflowers. The garden is an overgrown mass of brambles, nettles and grass covered bricks, blocks, and fencing. The weeds are taller than I am and it’s quite treacherous under foot but we managed to get enough flowers to make a start on elderflower wine and elderflower cordial.

The recipes I’m using are from users on one of my favourite places: the selfsufficientish forums which I’ll post below.   There are other recipes about such as the one in C.J.J. Berry’s book First Steps in Winemaking, and one at Wiccan tradition . The SG of my wine with the sugar added is 1.115 at a temp of 68.

I’d like to try fritters (and here) but I don’t have any more flowers… 😦

I have an elder in a pot but it’s too small to produce flowers. I will put it into the ground when I can. I will also take some cuttings from next doors plants as this site says they grow well from cuttings.

Elderflower Cordial

An easy to make drink that can be frozen in plastic bottles, leaving room for expansion, so it can be enjoyed all year round. It will keep for almost a month if just bottled, although is best to drink within 2 weeks. To ensure no mould, it is better that you freeze elderflower cordial and it can be enjoyed as a christmas drink.

Ingredients

  • 20 elderflower heads
  • 1 sliced lemon
  • 2 tsp of citric acid (ask at your chemist or winemaking supplier)
  • 1.5 kg (3.5 lbs) of sugar
  • 1.2 ltr (2.5 pints) boiling water

Method

Boil a kettle for the water.Fill a bowl or small bucket with all the other ingredients.
Pour the water over the other ingredients and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Skin the surface of the water to get rid of the scum that can arise.
Cover with a cloth (mine has a pillow case over it).Stir twice a day for five days.
Strain though a fine sieve though a fine sieve or through muslin cloth and decant into sterile screw topped bottles.
Refrigerate.
As with other cordials dilute with 5 parts water to serve .
Experiment with it and add it to some of your favourite spirits. It is really nice as a gin mixer.

Elderflower wine

Ingredients

  • Grated rind of one lemon
  • 500mls (1 pint) of elderflowers – to obtain this pick or shake of the elderflowers and place into a measuring jug. Don’t push them down but do shake them down. Be careful not to add any of the bitter green stems.
  • 3.5 litres (8 pints) of boiling water
  • 1.3kg (3 lbs) sugar
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 25g (Half an ounce) yeast

Method

Put lemon rind with the elderflowers and pour over boiling water
Allow to stand for 4 days, stirring occasionally.

Strain through a fine sieve or muslin cloth
Stir in sugar, lemon juice and yeast
Keep at room temperature to ferment, try not to let it go down to 18c (65f)
When you are sure all the bubbling has ceased, stir the wine and allow to settle for 3 days
Strain again carefully
Put in a demijohn (not bottles)
After 3 months maturing, put into bottles.

other links
lucs winelog

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Specsavers continued

Posted by --- on Friday 20 June, 2008

Well J went back for her 2 week check last Tuesday and I must say I’m impressed. I was dubious that she needed them before but now that her vision has improved I have to admit I was wrong. SHe is suffering from a lazy eye but the glasses are doing their job fantastically well and instead of having a follow up in 12 months, she can go back in 6 to review being weaned off them. I was so pleased. He said she is also long-sighted (as is my mom) and that she may need specs for close work but we’ll see.

I thought J would be pleased too but she “lost” her glasses the next day. Then on thursday night they turned up broken. I managed to superglue them but they broke again today. I’ll have to take them back to specsavers.

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Specsavers glasses

Posted by --- on Tuesday 10 June, 2008

After our trip to specsavers last week this has been playing on my mind.

To be honest, regular eye checks never entered my head. I thought most were done at school and left it at that. I remember we had them as kids. K. however, started complaining that he sometimes struggled to see the interactive white board so I booked up all in.

It was a mix up to be honest. J said before we went in that she was scared; I assured her there was nothing to be afraid of and said she would only be reading things or looking at pictures. We went in and waited for over 15 minutes after our appointment time before we were called to start pre tests (where you look in a machine at an air balloon and I had puffs of air blown in my eyes). After I’d had mine they asked me about our details and I was called away to fill in and sign forms. Note that I never leave my kids – ever! I hate not being able to see them at all times. That may seem paranoid or over defensive to you but that’s me. I don’t like it. I remember letting L go to the toilet at a supermarket when he was about 12 and some weird guy started getting too friendly with him – luckily L felt the questions he was asking him were too much and ran out.

Anyway, back to the opticians. While I was filling in all the paperwork the kids came back to me. At the same time as being asked all these questions for the records, the two optometrists came out and also started asking stuff so I was trying to answer questions from three directions! One of the optometrists suggested that as time was short, they split us up and I go in with one child and the other go with him. I wasn’t really happy but J said she was OK with it (after telling me she was scared!) I said that she was nervous before and I was surprised at her reaction which got a laugh and felt too silly to raise an objection then so I agreed.

So I went in with K and started having the test first so he could watch. Again, more questions, family history etc. Midway through my tests the other optometrist came in with J and started asking family history questions and he only just managed to stop himself telling me I should have had eye tests before now with a history of lazy eyes (amblyopia) on both sides of my children. He said something about suspecting she had it and that her vision wasn’t that good because she’d come back with negative readings on the air balloon machine. He asked if he could put some drops (atropine?) in her eyes to relax the muscles as they were compensating for her reduced eyesight? He said it would take around 50 minutes for the drops to take full effect and in that time, he sat her outside in the waiting room/shop (that has completely open front on to a busy town centre) on her own while I was in the room with K for the next 45 minutes! He did say something about her sitting in with us I’m sure but there was that much going on that it was overlooked – or maybe he didn’t and I imagined it. Either way I wasn’t really concentrating on the next lot of tests for K or I but I was trying to and trying to answer questions about K that were important.

The optometrist I was with was very good and I was very happy with him. K couldn’t read the bottom line of the test but he assured me that many people couldn’t and that it would not affect him in his life. He suggested a pair of glasses with anti-glare for K to help with his reading and computer work but very cleverly (without K getting the gist) told me that they were more like a confidence booster and hoped they’d work a little like Dumbo’s feather.

i was glad to be outside with J again. She was saying everything was very blurred with the drops in and her pupils were fully dilated. She laughed when we held up our hands as she said the fingers were all short and fat. Their friends from school were there so they wanted to chat with them. Then the optometrist called J back in. This time K was left outside so again I couldn’t really concentrate on what the optometrist was saying as I was half listening for K outside. The tests this optometrist did were different to the other optometrist. I’m not saying they were wrong but different. So I couldn’t compare the two. J couldn’t read the last line but neither could K. The optometrist said that her eyes were pretty bad and she needed 8x (??) glasses full time. J didn’t quite follow and I didn’t understand why. He said he wanted her to go back in two weeks for further tests (which I booked). I really don’t get it at all. She’s in the top group for literacy, she can read and write ok, she never complains that she can’t see things, nor do I see her squint. The school have never raised an issue either. I find it hard to see how her vision is so bad. When J realised that she would always be wearing glasses she was very upset. I tried to tell her it was very important and that they would help her but I’m not convinced. I don’t know whether to go somewhere else for a second opinion or what. At the moment I’m thinking of waiting until her next appointment (next Tuesday) and asking the optometrist to explain it completely.

Back at school and things aren’t going too well for her either. The optometrists said that she would need to rest her eyes after having the atropine in and not read or write or watch telly etc until the next day. They said it was probably best that she sleep which we laughed about because food and sleep are her favourite things! They also said her vision would probably be affected the next day and she may have difficulty reading the board at school. I wrote a note to the teacher to that effect and he was great about it. But this wasn’t her normal teacher. The next day her teacher came back and J lost her golden time to do home work she should have done. J explained about the eye test but he teacher said it wasn’t good enough. I know that she could have done it the night before but geez! Give her a break. Not only that but it didn’t take other kids long to jump on the name calling band wagon. As soon as they got wind of her wearing glasses – before she even collected them – she became “the four eyed freak”. Yesterday one boy defended her and I could hug him for it, making the other boy feel bad and apologise.

Funnily enough no one has said anything to K. As many of you are aware, they are twins. Since last year they have been in seperate classes but there aren’t that many in their year ( I’m sure less than 60) and the majority have been at the school since nursery age (3). They pretty much all know each other. J has never been quite as popular as K though and seems to get the rough end of the stick all the time. She does have a bit of an attitude problem but sometimes you wonder if that is the reaction not the cause…

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