Thursday, 28 October 2010

How to carve a pumpkin for Halloween

          Anyone need to know how to carve a pumpkin? This is a link from Tesco, one of the biggest grocery chains here to let people know how to do this unusual thing! Last year I was laughing at one of the morning show hosts who was learning how do make a Jack o'Lantern because she had never done it before! Apparently only in the last few years has Halloween been of any kind of interest because they think of it as a "American" holiday. I talked about this in length in my blog post last year so I'd suggest you can go back and read that rather than my having to repeat myself (link to previous blog is after the pictures).

Pumpkin 2009-Decided to go with the vampire theme 

Halloween 2009 looking out the front window. 

My 2009 pumpkin from the outside of the house

          Try this: close your eyes and think of living in a place that doesn't know anything about Halloween, Thanksgiving or Fourth of July. No turkey, cornbread stuffing, pumpkin pie, candied sweet potatoes, summer barbecues, corn on the cob, ribs, baked beans and fireworks. It's hard to imagine isn't it? Ok, they have turkey here but Thanksgiving is just another Thursday. Turkey is usually eaten for Christmas with roast potatoes and brussel sprouts (don't ask me why brussel sprouts--I can't figure out why either). They have fireworks but usually set them off on November 5th, Guy Fawkes Day. Oh and by the way, fireworks are sold in just about any store along with alcohol--good thinking there.
           What I'm trying to say is one of the harder things to adjust to is the difference in holidays. Family and tradition and sometimes national identity are so much a part of how we celebrate special occasions. When that is taken away or different it can really make you feel like an outsider--very alien (and I don't mean from outer space, but then again...). All I can try to do is keep as many of my traditions alive that I can and try to assimilate some of the traditions of my new home. I do, however, draw the line at sprouts. I don't hate them but I will never consider them "celebration food".
          Last year I was able to get a pumpkin and carve it for our window and even taught Robbie how to carve one for himself. It was his first time--can you imagine being over 50 and never having carved a pumpkin? But, as I said, I wrote all about this in my post last year  so I won't go into it all again. I'm just looking forward to being able to do it again this year. Hopefully tonight when we stop at Asda after my clinic appointment I'll be able to get a couple of pumpkins. I haven't gotten one yet. All the ones I've seen here have all been small like the one she shows first in the video. I've never been able to find a big pumpkin like you usually would get for Halloween back in the US.
          Also, must buy candy....just in case...  Have fun everyone!! 
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Saturday, 2 October 2010

AM I CIRCULATING? And Other Events of Interest

Thought you might like a little Scottish music to get you in the mood today! Robbie Burns sort of updated. Ok, this really has nothing to do with my personal life but I was just humming it this afternoon for some unknown reason so I thought I'd start the post out with a song! Actually I was playing with my settings and learning how to change my blog and my ability to add links and enclosures, so there you go, some Scottish music updated to a bit of a modern tempo. If you want to see the words to the song go to:

You too, can sing along!

So, along with playing with the features and finding out how to load video clips, I have, as I'm sure you've noticed, changed the whole look and background. I think the rainy glass look pretty vividly reflects life here! I know a lot of you, my friends and family, are dealing with the same type of weather. Back in Virginia they've been having some really severe storms. And, NO, as I told Ben on the phone, I did NOT send the rain over there to you!

This is not us, of course!
 Doing all this for my blog I've been learning all kinds of new things and getting experience in web design--or at least so it seems. Setting up a web page can't be harder or more involved that what I've been doing here lately!  Robbie is taking courses at the Open University here to learn the mechanics of web sites and I'm playing around with the creative side. In other words, he's learning out how to make the car run and I'm picking out the color and hopping in and driving it--which is how it should be!

Wow, between Robert Burns, Scottish music, rain, web design and now pink convertibles I have really strayed off the subject I was meaning to write about which is my previous medical tests. I suppose I'm dithering because I don't want to be one of those people who have nothing to talk about besides their medical conditions, operations or tests, etc. etc. Nevertheless since so many people have kindly inquired and to keep you all updated I'll get started. Anyway, come to think about it, what else has been going on here lately that I can talk about? Not the rain...again...

Friday, the 24th of September I had a mammogram scheduled. They call it "breast exam" over here. Guess there's no reason to dress it up! Speaking of dressing, I always like to make sure I dress appropriately for these things so I decided to go bra-less under a sweat shirt and coat (it was a chilly morning after all). Well, they always make you take it off anyway and hang it in the cubicle. Without getting into any more details, the test itself is just the same as over in the States. 

I guess the only thing remarkable about this experience for me is that first of all, it was TOO early! As I had said before they set the appointments for you and the person that did it clearly didn't know that I'm not a morning person!  Allright, allright, I know 9:00 isn't THAT early but really, would you rather have a nice cup of coffee and croissant at that time or go get a bosom squishing? Really

Now I was convinced that that was the time on the card I got in the post but when we got to the little temporary trailer they had set up, there was a notice that they didn't open until 9:15. Robbie claims he thought my appointment letter said 9:45 or something and I swear I saw 9:00 but since he lost the letter neither of us can claim to be right. We drove down the main street so Robbie could go to the ATM (or as they call it here: "cash machine"--see, I said they don't dress some things up) and picked up our dry cleaning. We just went back and waited in the car for them to open which was closer to 9:30 than 9:15. They took us as we came in so I was second anyway no matter what time my letter had said. Eventually there were 5 of us rather "mature" ladies sitting around in what was essentially a large, converted Winnebago waiting for our squishing. 

And that's enough of that. I think I'll draw the curtain, so to speak,  on the rest of the experience for the squeamish in the audience. Hopefully my curtain will close, unlike the one in the "camper"(boy am I glad I dressed appropriately). Oh, and here's something for you to remember if you're ever over here and want to rent a camper or if you see one: they call them "caravans" here. 

Before I get sidetracked again, I better talk about my Doppler test on Monday the 27th. What they wanted to check was the circulation in my legs and see if that's what is making it more difficult for my leg to heal after all this time. If my circulation is in any way compromised they planned to try using a pressure bandage on it to see if that will help the healing process. The test itself consists of taking my blood pressure on both arms and around both ankles and comparing the numbers, doing some calculations (math in the morning--could anything be worse? Groan!) and presto! you get a percentage level of the circulation in my legs. 

Now when I say "take your blood pressure" I'm not talking about the rather benign way of doing it in the doctor's office that is uncomfortable enough. Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the sonogram probe and the lovely cold gel! What they do is find the pulse in your arm (I'm not going to give you the medical names of the veins mainly because I don't know what they are) by being able to hear it with the sonogram. They then pump up the blood pressure cuff until it is so tight you can no longer hear the pulse beat sound. They then take the reading where that occurred. Next they do the same thing twice on your ankle because there are two main veins that go down your foot (I didn't know that), one on the front of the foot and one that goes around the back of the ankle. The reason they use both readings is that for most people one or the other is hard to get. 

I really didn't expect it to be as painful as it was but sometimes when they had to keep pumping and pumping tighter and tighter to cut off the sound it really hurt! I was desperately trying to remember my Lamaze breathing techniques (way too long ago!) and at one point I let out an "Oh boy!" which is the closest I guess I can come to a scream of agony. They did my left ankle last and by that time I was a little twitchy with anticipation. I don't know if I was able to hold as still while they did that one as I was with the others so the reading might not have been as accurate as it might have been. 

Bottom line of the results is that I have 70% circulation in my left leg and 90% circulation in my right leg. Because the result in the left leg isn't as bad as it could be they have decided to try a "semi-pressure" bandage on my leg. I kept mistakenly calling it a "semi-precious" bandage (slip of the tongue)  which Robbie thought was funny. Then he corrected me and said that if it was on me it would have to be a "precious" bandage. Yeah, that Celtic poetry in the soul comes out now and then!

All of this, however is moot (yes, Ben I'm thinking of Joey's moo point & laughing:)

The hospital doesn't have the semi-pressure bandages and they have to order them from the manufacturer. As of my usual clinic appointment on Thursday, they still weren't in, so we're carrying on as usual. The district nurses here have to make their own orders for them so who knows when I'll have them put on, if at all. I have to think that 70% and 90% circulation don't sound so bad for an old gal like me! 

By the time I got home that day I felt like I had been beat up. I was really tired because not only had I slept badly the night before but also the night before that! For some reason I woke up in the middle of the night Saturday and got all panicky about not waking up in time for my appointment. At 7:00 I jumped out of bed and was rushing around trying to get things and started to go downstairs to make coffee when Robbie asked me what I was doing. Testily, I said, "I have to get ready for my appointment, you know that!" and he quietly said, "It's Sunday." Deflating like a balloon (and there should have been a deserved pffffttt sound) I just realized that I'm losing my mind! So after it was all over I was really worn out, physically and emotionally. It took me until the next day until I felt recovered. 

I better end all of this here. As I said, I'm learning about making my blog easier to read and more attractive with a more interactive aspect. I'm hoping to get a new mobile phone with a good camera so that in the future I can take pictures of things I've been doing or places I've been and then can show them to all of you. Watch this space. 

Everyone try to stay dry!