Imagine – He towed them 775 miles!

IMG_3218Larry Kivlin popped a letter into our letterbox the other day, and I’m so glad he did. My Mum and Sister had seen him not long before, sadly this was when they went to his wife Janet’s funeral. He and my Dad were great friends for a long-long time. One of my early memories of Larry is being in his shop in Caledonian Crescent in Dalry, which is in Edinburgh. He had a few ice-cream vans which were all called ‘Caley Ices’. The shop was really a small warehouse for keeping all the stock in for filling up the vans, along with an office. My Dad had a few ice-cream vans too and his were called ‘Gerry’s Ices’. You can see now why they were such good friends because they had a lot in common. This would have been away back in the early seventies and I always remember the fun and camaraderie between everyone. There’s no wonder I’m self-employed today and I’m sure it’s down to the strong influence of my own parents, along with Larry and Janet. It’s just what I grew up knowing,

The letter was a lovely reminder of a memory from 1975. It was Summer-time, and the two families all went on holiday together. Not just any old holiday, we travelled from Scotland all the way to Spain and back again, in two cars. Larry’s was an automatic car, an estate car of some kind, and my Dad’s was his trusty Volvo estate, which happened to be painted the brightest orange colour you’d ever seen. I loved that car and I think my Dad did too. He bought it brand new and I think it was his first brand new car, if my memory serves me well. So, on this holiday, Larry’s car decided to break down. We ended up towing it all the way home, because it was going to take too long to get fixed. This was the end of the holiday after all, and I would imagine all the adults were in a hurry to get back home and to get back to work again. For some strange reason the story went into the newspaper. It’s funny how you forget things, and it’s weird how I remember feeling scared that my Mum was running out of money on the way home. I remember feeling worried. When I explained this to my Mum yesterday she told me she had a bank card, so why was I so worried? I think I was only twelve years old, so probably I didn’t understand these things too well, and I was and am to this day such a worry-wart. I truly remember thinking we were never going to get home, and we would probably have to stay in France forever. I even imagined having to learn French and start school there.

I think I had a huge imagination away back then, just like I do today! Thanks Larry for the lovely memories.

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Some more poetry

My Mum said to me the other day, ‘Sharon, your poems don’t rhyme.’ I had just read out the two poems on this page, and sadly this was her reaction. I don’t think my Mum gets me, which is something that’s bothered me for a long time. So instead of being bothered by her remarks, I decided to have a think about why my poems don’t rhyme. It wasn’t something I had ever thought about before, so imagine my surprise when a little while later I felt like I knew the answer.

Now, keep in mind that I had written a Petrachan Sonnet in my past, which was rhyming to such specificness, it pained me to do so. I had achieved this because it was part of an assignment, but believe me it would never have happened if I had been given free reign to do as I pleased. The thing is, poems reflect how we feel about life. Whether its about a place, a person or anything really, but that is in general what they are about. Well, I’m afraid my poems certainly seem to reflect my feelings on life, and somehow at this time in life there seems to be chaos in the world, and I feel my poems are a reflection on this point of view. It’s not as though I conduct my whole life around chaos, because I have lived quite a structured life, certainly nothing too extraordinary or wild. But that doesn’t mean to say that the chaos isn’t there, because it definitely is.

Chaos is in my mind, it’s in my soul, and how could it not be? We are living through knowledge of our dreadful history, of our dreadful present and more importantly of our dreadful destiny. We are like ants, destroying our planet, destroying each other and it can’t seem to stop. We live with the knowledge that to us simple souls there are good and practical ways to make the world a better place, but no… our leaders and power houses around the world do it their own way, which only leads to more chaos. I make no apology for my un-rhyming poems, and I certainly make no apology for the chaos that could describe my poems. Perhaps they are all over the place, but I like this, and it’s what I’m trying to portray.

So, here’s to poetry and words that can bring joy or pain, make us laugh or cry or even sigh….

1- There’s a beastie in my shower.

I don’t want a beastie in my shower
No sleekit, cowran or tim’rous nothing….
So flowery
As the bard himself, his whispering words
Torments me in my morning glory
Makes me feel bad, an inner voice says
Pick it up, set it free
But no,
I cannot touch that beastie in my shower
No flowery words from times gone by will uncover
My inner desire to stop and stare
I shampoo and rinse, lather in all the right places
But I still don’t want a beastie in my shower
I rinse some more so the water overflows
And sends my wee beastie down the overflow
I feel a little sad for my little beastie.

2- Time to get up

I don’t like to get up at the crack of dawn
Because this would make me another pawn
Of life…
Cracking the whip, the alarm screams
Into my dreams
I’m snuggled in bed, cocooned from the world
I’m safe from my life, I’ve escaped from time
The everyday drudge, the repetitive grudge
That can only be described as life.

Arthritis is such a pain to live with….

I’ve had Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was twenty four years old. I had just given birth to my first child when I knew that something wasn’t right. The pain was just there, a dull ache that never seemed to leave. First it started in my lower back, then it spread to other places. The doctors were kind of useless at the time, so there wasn’t a lot I could do about it.

When Shaun was five months old my husband caught the chicken pox (John had never had the chicken pox before, because he had been brought up in South Africa, where it seemed children didn’t catch these things,) and so Shaun caught the chicken pox as well. I remember feeling pretty well defeated in life at that point. The three of us were sick in bed. John lost his job at the time, and taking care of a baby as well as everything else was not the easiest of things to do.

Luckily, or not so lucky some would say, I woke up one morning to find that my right ankle had swollen to double its usual size. I say lucky, because now I had some physical evidence that something wasn’t right. At last the doctors listened to what I was trying to tell them, so they took a hefty three tubes of my blood to find out what was wrong. I just couldn’t work out why they hadn’t done this months ago. The results came back with the news that I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. The doctors were full of apologies to me, since I had been right all along. I wasn’t just imagining pain, and I hadn’t made anything up. Previously the Doctors believed that I had fallen over on my ankle causing it to swell up like a balloon. They looked at me accusingly, as if I could just forget doing that to myself. I think they felt so bad for not taking the tests in the first place that they came around to our flat to make sure I was ok. They told me I was to go to see a specialist in the Rheumatology department in a hospital that doesn’t even exist any more. If my memory serves me right, I was nearly on the verge of staying overnight, but luckily they knew I didn’t want to be apart from my baby or John, so I was treated as an out-patient instead. On the whole, doctor’s and hospitals are never my favourite things in the world. My mind immediately thinks of the worse case scenario and I’m put into a state of panic just thinking about it. I’ve still got this issue today, rightly or wrongly so.

This was all a long time ago, a life-time really, and it was the start of a never-ending road to taking prescription drugs that would only get stronger and stronger as time moved on.

I’ve been on Indometacin since I was first diagnosed with Arthritis and nowadays I can add methotrexate to the mix as well. When I first started using the indometacin it used to knock me completely out. Now, it doesn’t seem to do anything, although it might be, I just can’t tell any more. But for sure, I’m completely used to it now, and I only take it once a day, which is good. At certain points in my life I have taken fifty milligrams up to three times a day. This was when the arthritis gets out of control and usually my joints have been inflamed also. The indometacin is from the NSAID family of drugs, which means something I’m sure. If you read all the contra-indications attached to taking this drug, most people would be put off using it at all, let alone a person who is cynical and nervous about chemicals going into her body like I am. Mind you I was in a lot of pain, so I chose not to read all the information about all the bad stuff attached to the medicines. The pain overtook all of my ideals about drugs, and it still does to this day. The conclusion is, I take them, they control the pain, and I just try my best to ignore the rest. My niggling doubt is always in the back of my mind though, it never goes away.

Along with the drugs I also had to get cortisone injections into the various swollen areas where they had to first of all extract the fluids with a large syringe. This happened a few times to me, once to each of my knees, and my heels also. My two wrists have been done as well and each of my shoulders. This was a few years ago now, and I haven’t been in an unstable condition for a while, which is good. I am not going to say the injections weren’t sore, because they were. But the thing is, the pain was acute in the first place. And to be honest, it did work for me, so at least that was another good thing.

I wasn’t able to be the same person I was before the disease. The prognosis took me a long time to get over. I knew I couldn’t do the things that I had been able to do before and that sounds like a simple thing, but of course it isn’t. Along with knowledge of the disease comes a depression that has come and gone throughout my life. Is the depression all linked to my arthritis? Or is the depression part of who I am? I don’t know the exact answer to that question, maybe it’s a bit of both. This is all just a part of who I am now.

The thing is, I have seen children who have this disease and that’s when my own illness is put into a better perspective. I feel humbled by these kids, and rather ashamed of my own aches and pains.

I think I cope better living from day to day by ignoring the disease to the best of my abilities. Of course its always there and every winter is another reminder. Time doesn’t go away and every year the disease seems to get worse the older I get. But for me, I try and cope by taking my medicine and I don’t dwell on the negative stuff.  I think I’m very lucky anyway, I can stay in bed for longer every morning if I have to. I can take my time to get ready and my illness can be accommodated around my business and life. This wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for George my business partner, and of course my husband John. In many ways, they have lived through the ups and downs of this disease as well.

A week ago, George saw a Sky news report for a cure for arthritis that had been carried out in Holland. He was very excited telling me about this cure because the people who had been on the trial had been completely cured and were not taking any medicine any more. I looked into the news article but unfortunately found out that the top Rheumatologist who founded the cure in Holland was now working for Glaxo-Kline furthering his research. So, the news was still good, but perhaps not for just now.

I know that I’m luckier than most, I’ve been very fortunate in life. But still… this damn disease hasn’t half changed my life. The best way to describe living with arthritis is that you wake up every morning and go to bed every evening feeling like you have the flu. Sometimes the flu feeling feels bearable and at other times its not bearable at all. So, getting out of bed every day can be a challenge in itself. These simple things that we take for granted can be harder for people like myself.

Staying strong and mentally positive is another challenge because the depression of having this disease and all its limitations lurks around the corner at all times. But lets face it, its not the worst thing that can happen in life… not by a long shot.

My Dad

My eldest cousin on my Dad’s side, Alex, wrote this. My Mum showed it to me today, and I asked her if I could put it on my blog. Another important memento that shouldn’t go to waste, so here it is. Thanks Alex for the kind words. Many years have gone by since he passed, in some ways, it seems like yesterday. At other times, it feels like a life-time ago. My Dad had a wicked sense of humour. He always tried to find the funny side of life, perhaps not always where his three kids were concerned though. My Mum and Dad together were a great team, they worked well together. I think that was one of the most important things my parents taught me. They also conveyed to us that we could try to do anything we wanted in life. I hope I have been able to pass on that same message to my own children….

 

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To shave or not to shave.

When I gave birth to my daughter seventeen years ago, I vowed to myself that I would pass on some good snippets of information to her along the way, as time went by.

I kinda stuck to my plan, always telling her how beautiful she was (this is a MUST, for all Mother’s with daughters!) and trying to make her feel as though she could do anything she wanted in her life. Of course, encouraging her to do anything she wants in her life was not just for my daughter, I had tried my hardest to pass on that life-choice to my sons as well. I also told them how important money was in life because without it their choices would be taken away one by one. This applied to creative ventures as well, and to be honest I can’t be any prouder as a Mum for that one.

Anyway, to get back to the subject of shaving. Me, in all my wisdom tried to explain to a seven year old girl how she mustn’t shave her legs above her knees, EVER. NEVER EVER in fact. Well, to me it was great advice. I had been left to just figure out these things by myself in my teenage years, no discussions, no pros and cons, just well…. life is a box of chocolates, so just go figure it out by yourself, type of style. I even had an older sister, so you would reckon some sensible discussions on those matters would have been a priority, but no, it didn’t happen. (What on earth did I talk to my Sister about when I was growing up? Hmm, can’t quite remember that one, so I suppose it couldn’t have been that important.)

Every year summer came around, and every year I explained to Justine the importance of not shaving above your knees. The trouble was, she would look like she was listening to me, she’d sort of agree with me, but looking back I suppose it still went in one ear and out of the other.

Yesterday, I was watching my two grand-daughters for a while. It’s summer time, and guess what? Yep, I found myself telling them the same story about why girls shouldn’t shave above their knees. I know they are only five and three, but still…. I thought to hell with it, it didn’t sink in with my daughter, so you never know. Perhaps I might get lucky with the next generation? On second thoughts, I got such funny looks from the two of them that perhaps I was barking up the wrong tree again? But luckily we were all out sun-bathing (under an umbrella don’t ya know, which is of course another essential thing to pass on to your daughters ,the reasons why sun-bathing is not good for you,  AT ALL!) So, I digress, the point was, this time I had all the evidence to prove my point. Justine was sunbathing in all her glory, while I was hiding under-cover. I asked Alex to feel my upper leg, then to compare it with Justine’s upper leg. Ha, I saw something click in Alex’s face. She said ‘Justine’s leg is smooth this way Granny, but not that way. It’s a bit rough Granny.’ James, Justine’s boyfriend, then had a feel, and I could hear him mutter something similar.

Well, I never. Imagine my face when Justine looked up and me and said, ‘I only shaved them yesterday, so of course they feel like that!’ That was my point, of course, which was always doomed to be lost on my precious daughter.

The thing is, there’s too many airbrushed adverts. There’s too many adverts shoving shaving products our way. ‘Get rid of all your body hair and you too can look like this.’ It’s rubbish. When will women learn, and I really wish they would, that the more you shave, the more you HAVE to shave. And more importantly, men don’t behave like this, so why should we ladies? Not that I like the hairy armpits of women any more than the next person, but still, perhaps less is more.

Women, unless you have completely dark hairs on your upper legs, just don’t even go there. Try your best to keep the razor away. Your legs will stay smooth for ever more, and you will save yourself so much time in the shower, you won’t believe.

Sometimes, Mum’s are right. And sometimes, Mum’s forget to pass on simple nougats of information ,because lets face it, we’re kind of too busy these days. Of course, sometimes children still ignore their Mum’s. But, at least there’s always the next generation. And somehow, I think this time my point came across beautifully.

 

Picasso and me!

Picasso and me!

My love of art started when I was a teen in High School. I came across one of Picasso’s paintings one day, and I fell in love. I fell in love with the colour, the shapes and the freedom of it all.

One of my best friends at the time, Morag, bought me a comprehensive book on Picasso, and to this day I still treasure it. Thank-you Morag for that wonderful gift, a life-long gift in fact.

One of Picasso’s famous sayings was that we should all paint like children, and as adults we lose that sense of freedom that children have. That’s not a direct quote, but it was something like that and it stayed with me forever.

I’ve put some of my own art works in this blog, which have been painted over quite a few years. Some were painted fourteen years ago. I haven’t painted for a long time now, even though I sometimes get a strong urge to do so.

Painting makes me happy because I took Picasso’s words to heart. Since I never had any formal training to go by, I have allowed myself to go with the flow. A part of me that is a free spirit is represented in my paintings.

Nowadays my paintings are all wrapped up, collecting dust. Some of them have such beautiful frames that were bought in a lovely gallery in St Andrews. I love the chunky frames and the golden hues of the wood. One day I imagine these same paintings sitting in a charity shop, and somebody coming along, spending a fiver for the frame alone. They’ll be getting a bargain for sure.

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The largest painting. I was into gold leaf, copper leaf, and orange colour at the time. I think this was painted in 2005.

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This is one of my favourites. I have painted her several times in different colours. Gold and silver resonate through most of my paintings somehow.

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I think this is my Alien Angel. 

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Gold and silver, yet again.

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Some texture in this one.

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What can I say, more gold and silver. Red, I love red as well.

 

Scotland 2014 – The Turnaround

I’ve been thinking of the vote again, who isn’t? It’s one of the most talked about things in Scotland just now. I’ve heard of old pensioners views, and friends of friends. I’ve heard of sensible reports, the whole blooming works. But, somehow, my mind was changed and I suppose I’m the most surprised at that….

Scotland 2014 – The Turnaround

My ancestors seemed to summon me

To taunt me, to torment me,

While I tossed and turned in my bed

More specifically my Dad was there

Reminding me of our past, reminding me to be true

To the spirit of Scotland, the Freedom of Scotland

And let’s forget all the rest.

 

But in the morning I tossed some more,

I swore some more, and then a strange feeling

Began in the pit of my stomach

A tiny, tickling itch, a morning snitch

Which seemed to grow and grow

To hell with my brain, to hell with common sense

My gut was taking over

My heart was won over

And with my mind made up, I was a complete turnaround

My NO was now a resounding YES!

 

The thing is, it’s not all about Salmond

It never was

For there’s far too many years that will follow on

In the heart of Scotland’s success

The people are great

The country is extremely braw, the weather can be raw

But, I diverge,

So, this might be my last chance to put things right

Our last chance to bring back our hope

For a better future

A brighter future

For the next generation, time after time

Forgive our last Queen, for she didn’t know

How could she know she’d be the last of her kind?

Mary Queen of Scots, we do this for you

And of course, Bonnie Prince Charlie too

For our greatest writers, there are a lot

For our brilliant minds, there’s too many to mention

For our oil, for our lochs, for our fish, for our Scotch

On the rocks,

But most of all, for you and you and you.