Finishing Law School

Finishing Law School

0 comment Tuesday, July 29, 2014 |
One day left!
This is a good thing because I have hit the proverbial "wall" of my endurance and patience. The lego set I bought sprog, thinking it would last for several days, was completed in one. Impressive, but I'm exhausted. Sprog, so used to having me to himself all week, refuses to allow me to answer the phone or check on my neighbour without immediately butting in and throwing a tantrum because he's no longer the centre of my attention. I've tried to keep him as occupied as I could, and I even included him in sewing some muslin cloths (which I intend on selling along with soaps and stuff), however the pain has kicked in with interest and I am now walking about with my cane at the end of the day.
Attempts at tidying up the garden was similarly thwarted by keeping the dog in check and then by keeping sprog from trying to talk to every single person who walked by - I wouldn't normally bother but people tend to react to this so poorly that I have tried to discourage him from talking to anyone he doesn't know, with little success. Needless to say, with the dog scratching a passer-by by jumping like a loon and sprog jumping up and down yelling at the top of his lungs to try to get all our attention focussed on him instead, gardening didn't get done much.
Behaviour classes for the dog are now being scheduled, and still working on the garden plans and grantwork and plotting and child entertaining and clearing out and making soap and...yeah you get the picture.
Today would be a good day to run off to the Maldives.

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0 comment Monday, July 28, 2014 |
After yesterday's sun, it was rather dreary today with lead skies and even more rain. The glads outside were looking a bit battered, and the dahlias so laden with blooms they were starting to droop, so I brought a bit of colour inside - and then realised when I took the photo I'm also showing off the pile of laundry I am currently working through folding-wise. Such is life here!
Today is a bit touch-and-go - weather change means child is whingy and weebly and everything is being countered with a "Whyyyyyy" "But I want-!" and the demand for the dozenth viewing of old Muppet Show episodes. I suppose I needed something to balance out the very good day we had yesterday but it's not even 2pm yet and I'm ready to tear my hair out. Back to school tomorrow....inhale, exhale.
To counter the rubbish skies and the weebly child I decided to use up the last of my fresh toms in a goulash - using some of the fresh local chicken I had from yesterday's carcass, some local lamb, and my own peppers, onions, tomatoes and squash. I realised as I cut open the Hungarian Hearts that I did not grow enough tomatoes! These smelled amazing when I cut them open, and you'll notice there's a bit of a gap in the sliced Hungarians because I couldn't resist and ate one fresh right where I was standing. Even my son was amazed at the fragrance though he refused to touch any of them. With a qualm, I must admit these were the last - it's only the beginning of September and I'm already out of these wonderful tomatoes; obviously three plants wasn't anywhere near enough! I'm already turning my mind to somehow finding a way to dedicate an entire bed to the things, they were just THAT good.
So, goulash on the stove, fight to get child to eat his lunch won (it took an hour!) and I've now decided that with one battle sorted, I'm going to concede the war, and he can watch more videos today. Hopefully this means I can get him to shut them off later and we'll be able to read a book instead. And I'm sure I'll be in a better mood when I eat something as well - two slices of toast and a cup of coffee didn't fuel the tank for long, as I noticed I was starting to get the low-blood-sugar shakes a few minutes ago. Food won't be long now however!

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0 comment Sunday, July 27, 2014 |
After finally coaxing Sproggo out for a walk (it took a while, he's really wound up with the start of school only two days away) I found a massive stash of rosehips growing wild on an unused track. Bonus! Tomorrow we'll go and pick some for some rosehip sirip, but I also noted the elderberries were in full blush, and decided today would be a good day to get them boiled down for some sirip as well.
I had some rosehips from my own dog roses, and so I managed to throw a few of those in with some elderberries from the tree outside.
We had our first frost today - at least a month early! I'm now looking nervously at my squash and wondering if I shouldn't just haul them in even though there's no chance of them reaching full maturity. The apples will have some more time, as they improve with a bit of frost. Brambles are still trying to produce some fruit, but with the colder temperatures, they're going to have a big catch-up game. I still have enough blackberries leaning over from next door to make a pie or two, and so into the freezer they will go. Apples will go into a cardboard box and get stored, but I want to dry a few into rings. We'll see how far I manage with that.
On top of this I've got more sewing to do, still have to chase up whatever happened to my physio referral, and I'm going forth with my Mad Scheme and enrolling in a course to refine my technique in art and drawing with paints and pigments. Just going to get some childcare coverage and hopefully I'll be able to keep up with it.
In the meantime, my house smells wonderful; if "your mother smelled of elderberries" I honestly wouldn't be too offended!

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After my chamomile and mint tea experiments, I found myself thinking "I haven't been to the local Whittards in ages." We nearly lost that chain as the recession has closed most of Whittard's stores, but the consumers in Salisbury protested so much to the closure, our store remains, and after a quick explore round yesterday, I realised I still love the place, and really want to make more of an effort to have nice tea in the house (especially after a week of drinking nothing but decaf Typhoo).
So, since today is market day, that will feature in my shopping. I have to say, I love the tradition of going to market. My Tuesday market isn't quite as local as I would like (it's the Charter Market) but I do know just about everyone with a stall, so it's almost a social thing as well. People at market have seen me pregnant and when I was carrying sprog in his Tigger suit on my hip what seems like an age ago. One of the stall sellers died a few years ago and this warranted a moment of silence at his stall for fellow stallholders and customers alike. I barter chai tea mix for a bit of free produce (though I haven't made chai in a long time due to a real lack of supplies). I sometimes barter bottles of homebrew. If my son runs off, everyone knows who he is by now and just points me in the right direction or they keep him occupied till I come, panicked yet relieved as sprog sits happily eating free olives, as the stallholders know to ask to see his autism card and call my mobile.
However, on days like today, sprog is in school and I can take my time; a trip to Whittards, a stroll over to a bakery to inquire about buying some fresh yeast. I can browse a few of the cooking shops for more cooking utensils (my knives are rubbish and I'm still looking for decent ones). I can have a chat with my local chicken farmers as they ask about child and dog, I can get the ubiquitous cheese straws for my son, have another chat and barter some chai tea mix for olives at the Mediterranean stall. I love these days where I can see old ladies with shopping carts saying "coo-ee" to their friends and chattering away, people enjoying their tea in the sun, and the first British strawberries start to appear (my favourite time of the year).
There's a Wed market as well with much more local produce; local lamb, even bison and red elk, which I hadn't tasted since I left the US but the only bison farm is here in wiltshire. That market however has higher prices, and while I desperately try to support local as much as I can, I only do the Wed market when I have a little extra money to treat myself. I have to be careful of this market as well - there are "old guard" farmers who tend to take in meat from poachers (illegal of course, but it happens all the time). The poached meat is almost always spoiled and you'll never know until you open the package and catch a whiff. I managed to get food poisoning from some locally made chorizo and the two birds I bought both went to the dog as they were off on the day of purchase.
Even with drawbacks like this, the market experience is a huge contrast to going to Tesco; bored people, crying children, stressed out, washed out, thinking they're saving money (and gods knows they need to, just like I do). But I don't get it; the market's fruit is loads cheaper than the worst-quality economy buy at the supermarket. The meat is better quality at market, and so less is more - I realised I bought twice the amount of meat at Tesco because I couldn't actually taste anything; it was just texture, not flavour. Everything is better....why shop at the Tesco when the market is hardly 100 yards away? Not that I don't get sucked in as well - I have to go to Tesco for things like dishwasher detergent and bin liners. And then, of course, all the bright and shiny packaging tries to convince you that you also need this, and this, and this, and that too....I don't get as suckered into that kind of thing as I used to, but it is very easy to do.
When I get home, I'll immediately set to work on several recipes I am very keen to try, in between catching up on my laundry and getting together the formulations I want to work on this week. I've got another order for shea butter to make, and I've got to check the weights on some soaps and possibly rewrap and relabel them. All this I intend on doing with a cup of posh tea and possibly one of my fresh-baked creations to fortify the constitution, as it were. Sprog has asked about lamb curry (which he may or may not eat) so I'm on a mission to fulfill my "one new meal a week" obligations to try and introduce him to something other than sausages and chips (and yeah, the sausages are locally made, the chips organic potatoes, but still....).
And off we go!

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0 comment Saturday, July 26, 2014 |
I haven't quite filled every sill with seedlings but I'm getting close! The dining room sill is loaded with leeks, zinnias, some early peas and hollyhocks, as well as my dragon plant and palm in desperate need of repotting.
The asters on my kitchen sill are doing nicely, and I've got some very trimmed coriander which I started from seed a few months ago growing away. The small stub of a plant in the pot to the left is ginger; several cuttings are already doing very well and that sprout has just started. I just planted ginger I got from the local market which sprouted on me, and it's doing well!
The morning sun was so lovely this morning, and sprog managed to get a good photo before going to school. This is from his "breakfast seat" - he always sits at the end of the table. I've been trying to buy flowers (even if they're not visual florist perfection) every week to keep his love of flowers and colour alive. Seems to be working.
All in all a beautiful day, and now that I'm mostly recovered from a very rubbish cold, I'm doing some serious cleaning today, and maybe will even manage to get outside this weekend for the beginning of garden tidying. Here's to hoping!

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Made some gnarly dandelion wine; it's been on the ferment for two days. It's "gnarly" because this isn't the refined fruit-wine I tend to make; I literally used whatever brewers yeast I had on hand, picked the dandelions myself, brewed it on the stove and let it sit, threw some yarrow fronds in as this is a libation wine, and did half sugar, half local honey for the sugars. This is some rough-and-ready country wine, the likes of which your granddad probably used to make (and more than likely just as lethal to drink!). I might be pleasantly surprised as it smells absolutely amazing and almost like a melomel, but I'll age it properly and rack it a few times, clear it with finings and at least do my best to get it to drinkable for certain holidays during the winter months next year.
Just limbering up the wine-making muscles again as even though I don't drink that much these days, I do like to crack a bottle during certain times of the year. It takes a while for fruit wine to be drinkable but they're invariably worth the wait. However, because I find corking a bit of a struggle and can't afford a big corking machine, I'm going to stick wine into beer bottles. Horribly uncool, I know, but I've got bottles and caps aplenty, may as well use them!
For my now-and-again needs when it comes to pints (when I can actually have pints), I'm going with the strawberry cider again this year. It's economical and I've got storage space. If I can't drink it, there's the added benefit of being able to use it for barter sometimes, where it comes very in handy (even the 'girly' strawberry cider goes down well).
So I turn my eye to my plants and planted hedges, watching and waiting for flowers and fruits, whispering encouragement and feeding them well and hope they'll reward me this year with a bit of bounty. Partly because the end result is rather nice, but mostly because I find the whole process rather fun, really. May as well admit that.

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0 comment Friday, July 25, 2014 |
This will be my last entry in this blog. It's run its course...and in a way so have I.
I'll just out and say it: after much soul-searching and realisation that no, the council really isn't going to help me and no, the LEA really HAS denied our son going to a special school and yes, it IS actually getting nearly impossible to walk now and, probably, ATOS is going to put me through the appeals process before I get a scrap of funding to be mobile...my son is going to live with his father in September. Possibly sooner as I don't think I can make it through summer break. Gone, the garden. Gone, the house. Gone, the child.
End. Done. Game over.
I have "been strong" - for years I fought for my son's education as ex was too busy working/shaggingwhoever to be around for it. I have hung in there and tried not to give up, tried to keep working at home even when the evidence was quite clear working was probably the last thing I should be doing. I have done everything I could, transforming a crap house into something decent and running all about trying to make various arrangements to at least attempt to have a normal life. But with all the cuts which are currently happening it's becoming more and more clear to me just how much is disappearing; transport to and from school being cut, anything to "prevent family breakdown" is now gone, refusal to move me to a more suitable house, DLA for self, potentially DLA for child....all gone. What I contributed to when I was working, thinking it would be there when I needed it, has all quietly been axed, and nothing remains.
In utter bogglement, I have discovered that my social worker seems to think the reason my son goes off in school is because I'm abusing him at home. I'm ...well, speechless. I cannot believe that the triggers which I would have thought even a blind weasel could pick up (hell, even the ex picked it up in the minutes that the examples would set sprog off and he's not that observant) are ignored, and instead there are constant questions about where child goes on weekends, about him coming into school angry (the explanation that this may be because he HATES school is ignored entirely), and querying about whether ex would take child in if need be. I have been attempting to warn ex that the questioning is obviously going in the direction of shifting all blame to us rather than to the school but I'm ignored. Actually, I'm pretty much ignored no matter what I say to anyone I find.
Is ex the best choice? No, not really. But in this case, I'd rather the devil I knew than the devil I didn't; putting my child into care means hell would have to freeze first. Nevertheless, I predict after about three months of full time childminding ex will hire a nanny because he "can't cope". Sprog will be raised by a stranger and I will only get to see him once a month as he won't transport my son down to see me. Once a month, for one day, I'll see the only thing that kept me going for seven years when everything else fell apart.
But I cannot think of what else to do - the one school we looked into as a good possibility, the transport isn't there to get him to it. And even if it was there, how do I get through the half terms? The summer breaks? More and more evidence crops up that this damn disease has put so much stress on my liver and kidneys that there may be some damage. Discussions of pads and, if need be, dialysis, are kicking around. And that's only what the most common symptoms imply: there's all the fun stuff they haven't found yet. What chances of me surviving through six weeks of Wumping whilst having to go for test after test, observation after observation? If I had a shred of help, I might have been able to...but I don't.
I am applying for sheltered housing - chances I'll get it? Slim to none, but I won't be able to afford this house anymore, and it's too large for just me. I might even need to rehome my cats, which will just kick the pieces of my already broken heart, but I'll hope and pray I don't. I've been homeless before. It isn't pretty - I don't think I could do it again and survive, but if it comes to that, I want to get my son clear, even if it's dubious it's the better choice.
For seven years I sacrificed everything I had to raise my child, and I will be left with nothing. If there's anything to "be strong" about now, it's the bloodymindedness to just keep breathing in and out. Quite honestly, there's nothing to live for. Offer me no platitudes and chin-up speeches. You have no idea how hard I've been sobbing whilst I've been typing this. My heart is shattered and I cannot even possibly conceive of it ever coming together again. And unless you have EVER been right where I am standing, do not tell me it will. Don't you fucking dare.
Yesterday on a forum I belong to more and more disabled parents made the announcement that their own lifelines had been cut and they didn't know how they were going to manage; housebound, bedbound, paralysed, didn't matter - they are not the mythical "most vulnerable" we hear about so much but have never met. One woman wrote what I can only presume was her suicide note. I'm pretty certain the organisation volunteers tried to contact her, but we received no news on whether or not she was all right. I can only assume the worst - she wasn't asking for help because she knew, just as the rest of us do, that there isn't any. She was saying goodbye to us, and to her three children.
I'm not that far gone...not yet, but I cannot deny the possibility hasn't surfaced now and again. I force them back as I know the stress is making the lupus-brain-involvement worse, but since I have yet to convince a GP I have lupus I have no drugs to treat it with. Not even sure with my dodgy system more medication is the ticket anyway. Too many questions, not enough answers, no matter the urgency.
This is not a post I want to write. This isn't the way I wanted this blog to end. But I post this as my testament to what Big Society has become, and what it costs. This is what the cuts look like - a former legal professional and athlete reduced to biting her lip so hard it bleeds so her child upstairs won't hear her sobs as she goes over the paperwork to send him to be raised by strangers. Broken and aching in every joint in a way no medication touched any longer, she plots out how to spend the rest of her days rotting away out of sight of the public eye.
This is the truth of cuts. Cuts bleed. I'm lightheaded from blood loss and begging for a transfusion - the public walks over me, mutters something about scroungers, takes a photo on their mobile phones to show their mates on Facebook...and keep going.
I've nothing further to say.

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