Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Nights Are Drawing In...

There really isn’t much to report this week after the “excitement” of last Saturday and Halloween. To just continue with that to end the story, we put my jack-o-lantern in the front window along with some other candles and it made an appropriately spooky display. It turned out to be a clear night and you could see the full moon rising above the moor across the hill so even that made the perfect backdrop. We tried to take some pictures with my digital camera and Robbie tried to take some with his phone camera but they didn’t turn out as well as we would have liked. I couldn’t figure out how to turn off the flash on my camera so it made the pumpkin too bright and Robbie’s phone pictures turned out a little blurry. I’ll try to upload the pictures to Facebook soon (or I may have done it by the time you read this).

We also got two trick-or-treaters (or "guisers" if you want to use the local vernacular) which is two more than last year. We had picked up a couple of bags of candies and small bagged snacks to give out. They have a thing called Hula Hoops over here that taste like hard Pringles in a small ring shape. We had kept the candies and the Hula Hoops in the cupboard in the kitchen, not expecting anyone and nobly willing to sacrifice ourselves and eat them ourselves, so the two girls who came to the door surprised us.

We were watching TV (“Strictly Come Dancing”) and since my chair faces the window I suddenly shouted, “Kids at the door! Kids at the door!” as they came up the front steps. Robbie, never having much experience at this, jumped up from the couch as I was heading for the kitchen but just stood there for a few minutes, confused before finally going to the door. Between us, we finally got all the bags open and dumped in a bowl and he took it out to the girls. I never did see them or what kind of costumes they had on. I looked out the window and they were at the neighbors’ but it was dark by then and I couldn’t see them very well. And that was that, the end of the Halloween fun.

Robbie had been complaining of a sore throat and he had been coughing since Thursday and it was because of his coughing at night that I had taken to sleeping in the spare room. Unfortunately the mattress on the bed in there is beyond firm to “rock hard” and so up until last night I’ve had a week or more of not so restful nights. You can’t sleep in one position for long on that bed, so tossing and turning is a requirement. We are going to have to sort that out and get something better for our next guests or before Ben comes back to visit.

Because of his coughing and saying he didn’t feel well, I was telling him to take it easy, stay in bed and he didn’t want to listen to me. The man even argued with me when I told him to buy cough lozenges and cough medicine and Paracetemol (“No, I don’t need that, no I don’t want to spend the money...”) so that by Sunday he had no choice but to stay in bed. The weather was horrible, rain literally poured down all day and night and the wind was cold so he definitely could not go out in that. Surprisingly, can you believe it? the world kept turning and the church didn’t fall down because he had to stay in bed. And if he had any duties, someone else actually filled in for him! Imagine that...

I think he actually enjoyed some of his forced confinement. Once when I came up to get on the computer to check my email I found him listening to soccer on the radio and watching Formula 1 racing on the TV with the sound muted. I remarked that he seemed to be in “hog heaven”. Other than fetching him tea and toast and soup I took it easy myself and enjoyed being inside with the bad weather. It really has gotten colder so winter seems to be creeping in.

Robbie is better now and he finally gave in and got an appointment with the asthma nurse. Any time he has any kind of germ that makes him cough it’s a worry with his asthma. He tried to convince himself that he had swine flu but I kept telling him that he wasn’t sick enough! He never ran a fever or experienced body or muscle aches. He just told me he felt “bad” but I think that he needed to drink more fluids. He had been balking all along at drinking water like I told him to because he didn’t want to go to the “loo” so much. The asthma nurse gave him a new inhaler and that seemed to help both his breathing and his coughing.

Mostly this week my “getting out” consisted of going out to the garage to do laundry. With the weather and my general laziness last week I had a mound of laundry to go through that took me almost three days to catch up on. That and cooking and vacuuming and dusting have all been the extent of my activities. I tried a new recipe for “Messy Burritos” because I wanted to do something Mexican last week and they turned out pretty well. I got two thumbs up from Robbie anyway. On Sunday when Robbie stayed in bed, I made us creamed chicken and biscuits from the leftover roast chicken. Since I don’t have any Bisquik I have to make biscuits from scratch and I didn’t have any buttermilk so I used yogurt instead. Passable but not perfect. Robbie liked it and it was mild enough for his stomach then.

Later in the week I seemed to get hit with a feeling of discouragement. I noticed some red spots around my bandage on my leg and I also felt an itchy sore around my ankle. My biggest fear is that I’ve got it infected again and that might mean another round of antibiotics or, even worse, another stint at the hospital. I just got that feeling again that this is never going to end. I even shared this feeling with the nurse when she came to change my dressing Wednesday. All the nurses remark how well it’s doing and how much it’s “coming along” and she added that she’s seen other people with similar injuries take even longer to heal. It just seems like it’s taking such a long time! What I have to remember is that this is nothing like I’ve ever had before and I can’t judge it by, say, a cut on my finger. I also have to remember and be grateful that this is something that will eventually heal and improve.

Still, I didn’t feel any better and part of it might be my lack of sleep from sleeping on the hard bed in the spare room. I wasn’t looking forward to my appointment this week at all because I was afraid of what she might say about my spots. I hadn’t seen Tanya for two weeks because she had been partly on holiday and partly on training time away so I wasn’t sure what she would make of my newest spots and red marks. She seemed quite positive and said that the wound looked good after not seeing it for the two weeks and it seemed that the bandage was rubbing my leg in places and that was causing the red marks. She changed the bandage to a foam rubber type that’s a little less secure but won’t rub so I’ll just have to be careful when I’m sleeping or taking a shower.

I did get to talk to one of the nurses I had seen but hadn’t really spoken to because she hadn’t been a part of my care so far. She took me in the room and did the prep for Tanya so we got to chatting of course. I had to tell her the whole back story—Are you American? What are you doing here? How did you meet your husband? Do you like it here? How did you hurt yourself?—the whole lot. Tanya was a little delayed so after all that, we got to discussing candles of all things mostly because she had used and sold a type of scented candle like Yankee Candle. I think it started when she asked me what I had done back in the US and I told her about working for QVC that we started talking about shopping channels and her experience selling these candles.

When Tanya came in she brought a student with her, a young boy so I became a demo. again for yet another student (wonder if I can claim education credits for all this...). She said what I thought was, “This is a man” and I thought, “Well, ok, but a very young man” but what she was telling me was that his name was Aman. Again, I went through the whole story of what happened and Tanya filled in with treatment and other technical notes so I think Aman got a good enough lecture.

Robbie had to go over to the Centre, which is a big shopping complex in Livingston, and find a post office and do some banking and since we had to get some groceries as well we decided to give the WalMart/Asda a try. I’d never been in it before because the place is huge—like a WalMart and a grocery store in one and even bigger than the Super WalMart in the States. I know the WalMart back there kills me because there’s so much walking to get into the store and so much walking in the store and then the long standing in line so I have tried to avoid them in the past. This one was no different. I walked not even half of it getting the few things we needed and was soon dying to sit down.

We ate our lunch/dinner in the café there but the food wasn’t as good as Morrison’s café even, so I was a bit disappointed, like I always am when my one meal “out” turns out to be unsatisfactory. It was cafeteria food at its most mediocre and I even had to drink instant coffee (blah! :p). I knew I should have gotten tea instead! Came home, watched “Dancing With the Stars” (we’re about 2 or 3 weeks behind you I think) and that was that.

So that’s it for a rather dull week. I think one of the things that make this a more dismal time of year is that it gets dark so early. What they call “the nights are drawing in”. After Halloween there’s the usual warmth and smells of Thanksgiving preparations to look forward to but we don’t have that here. One thing they do is celebrate Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes’ Day (“remember, remember the 5th of November”) and for some people that’s a big deal but I really don’t know what that all entails. I think it’s a cross between a football homecoming bonfire-type thing with the fire and food (sausages and maybe burgers on the fire—kind of a cookout) and the Fourth of July with lots of fireworks. Here they sell fireworks everywhere to anyone—even the children get sparklers.

Here in Fauldhouse you had a few people setting off private fireworks and you could hear firecrackers going off all week but nothing special at the McCord household. I can imagine the combination of readily available fireworks and booze here are lots of fun for emergency services and hospitals! They were advertising a brand of canned chili con carne for your Bonfire Night celebrations so I might make chili for our dinner tonight and that will be my nod to Guy Fawkes. I’m sure (and I know) there’s more to it all than I’ve said so far but I don’t want to take the time now to go into it. Like all holidays, lots of history and tradition have now boiled down to chili, fireworks and booze to most people.

Well, early darkness, colder, gloomier weather—we’re all going to have to work extra hard at making ourselves feel cozier and cheerier. I also have got to transplant and get some of my flowers in before we have a freeze. I guess, like I told the nurse, I’m going to just have to keep lighting some of my scented candles and do some more baking to keep our spirits up. And, no, I don’t even want to BEGIN to think about Christmas yet...groan! Although, driving to the hospital yesterday I saw that Blackburn had their Christmas lights up already and as we walked into WalMart/Asda they had a dancing singing Santa on display. Oh dear....