Wednesday, 10 December 2008

A Busy Turn Of Events

Since my last post, in late August, my husband and I have been swept along on a tide of events which has taken up the majority of our time and energy. People matter most in life, and in my book, family comes before everything else. When it comes to a choice between giving up our time when they are facing major difficulties and upheaval in their lives, or spending time writing about the story of the Barleycorn garden, without question, their needs will always take precedence.
Those of you who have been in the habit of reading the Barleycorn blog must have noticed how sparce the stories have been this year compared to the previous. This has been due to the amount of time taken up each week visiting my husband's elderly parents and seeing to their every need. Their frail health has taken priority over everything else in our lives, including our personal hobbies and interests.
As this year progressed, the health of my husband's step-dad deteriorated to the point where, for the entire month of August, we found ourselves travelling 80 miles every day to visit him twice daily in hospital. As if our lives weren't busy enough, we were also very busy, in the throws of preparing for a trip to France, where we were looking forward to participating in the wedding celebrations of our younger son and his new bride.
However, to add to our already busy schedule, and to complicate matters even further - bearing in mind there were only three days left before we were due to leave for Brittany - we received a very sad telephone call from the hospital, and found ourselves, therefore, madly rushing around, trying to organise a funeral. I'm not quite sure where the extra energy we need in times of crisis comes from, but we were certainly filled with enough adrenalin, from dawn till dusk on those three days, to make all the necessary preparations.
Around that time the weather had been poorly, but, on the day of the funeral the sun shone brightly. The Service of Thanksgiving was a happy one, for the eulogy, written by me, was full of humorous stories and concentrated on celebrating a life well spent. Late into the same evening, my husband and I did not forget our manners, and took time to express our thanks to many people, for we knew we would not have the opportunity to do so the following week. Three days later, we arrived in Brittany, feeling more than a little drained, but, happy in the knowledge we had been available to do all that was necessary and spare my husband's mum, who, at her time of life, would not have coped by herself.
After breakfast on the first morning, six of us decided to take a stroll. There we were, a happy little group, chatting about the beauty of the town with its picturesque houses, busy harbour and beautiful floral displays, when, all of a sudden, my left foot jarred, turning my left leg to jelly. I found myself careering along sideways, like a crab, at a speed of knots, trying to keep myself upright and prevent myself from falling.
Unfortunately, the pavement was sloping down towards a steep kerb and onto the road, where the inevitable happened. I landed on my left side with such momentum, I immediately ricocheted onto my back where I lay motionless for a minute or so. After a little while I felt able to be hauled to an upright position by the three strong men in our group, and after checking to see no bones were broken, I was able to stand.
From the fierce impact, I knew I would ache from head to toe, and I did. But, since I was able to walk, and everyone agreed it looked as if I had, at worst, nothing more than two staved fingers on my left hand, I determined to cause little fuss so as not to detract from the wedding celebrations, which were three days hence. We made our way to a nearby chemist where my hand was strapped up and, like a good Brownie, I used my scarf as a sling.
The next morning I awoke to a rainbow-coloured left hand, which I continued to nurse throughout the holiday, and a stiff, aching body, which I was able to ease with hot showers. Just as with the funeral, I was now blessed with an inordinate amount of adrenalin, coupled with the excitement of looking forward to the wedding and the part I would play in the celebrations. I am convinced both of these factors helped to give me an even higher pain threshold than normal, because, fall or no, I was determined nothing was going to spoil the wedding.
The day before the wedding we were visiting a nearby coastal town, when I happened to chance upon an old lady crocheting a pair of those dainty little lace gloves which Brittany is famous for - and perfect for disguising an unsightly hand. The weather, on the few days leading up to the wedding, had been a bit dull at times, with the threat of rain. But, in the morning, we awoke with excitement and looked up into a beautiful blue sky.
One of our favourite memories of the day was when my son and his bride were standing in the doorway of the church with the bells ringing, two Breton pipers playing merrily, confetti of rose petals falling around them, and that special glow of happiness on their faces. The bride was a vision of understated French elegance. Our son stood beside her, proudly showing the world his beautiful new bride. Her surprise for him was a rose, made from the tartan of our clan, in her hair. His surprise for her was the French tricolour ribbon pinned to his plaid. Both signified a new marriage, a new life together, a new merging of two cultures. They never stopped smiling the entire day. It was all so romantic! We were so proud to be there sharing in their joy.
When our holiday was over, I went to the Casualty Dept of our local hospital and had my hand x-rayed, just to be safe. I did, in fact, have a break between my ring finger and my pinkie. These two fingers were taped together and I had a plaster put on the following week, which then came off three weeks later. Since then I have been doing exercises, from my physiotherapist, to straighten my pinkie and make it mobile. Initially, I was unable to close my left hand and make a fist, as my pinkie stood upright.
For the three weeks the plaster was on, whenever I needed to be at the computer I used my right hand only to type and used a lot of cut and paste to save me typing the same information over and over again. During this time my husband and I received another call to say his mum had collapsed. And so we were on the treadmill yet again, travelling 80 miles each day to visit her in hospital.
With the accumulation of events, we both found the travelling more tiring the second time around. I was wearing my plaster all this time, so could not share in the driving. The bruising had started, two weeks after the fall, to come out all the way down the left side of my body, which had taken the impact of the fall. The weather was cold and raw, or blustery and wet. In the hospital nothing pleased my husband's mum. Everyone and everything was at fault. She had had enough, having nursed her husband for the best part of six years, followed by the month of hospital visits culminating in his funeral.
However, after three weeks she was allowed home. We then began travelling to her home, on a daily basis for the first two weeks, then, after that, thrice weekly to see to her needs. She progressed from the stage of us doing her shopping, to being able to come with us, to going independently. I had cleaned her house before she had gone into hospital and she was making great progress. Great, we thought. Breathe a sigh of relief. All's well with the world again.
But life is not that simple. I don't think I could make up what happened next! For fact is often stranger than fiction. When we got home from church one Sunday there was a message on our ansaphone to say there had been an explosion at her flat. We rushed down to discover water pouring down through the light fittings in four of the rooms. We needed wellies to wade through the mess!
We brought her home to stay with us till we ascertained the problem. It turned out to be a faulty gas coupling in the flat above which had caused a gas explosion and burst the water tank and all the pipes. It was good fortune indeed that neither of the occupants of the two flats had been hurt in any way. My husband's mum didn't seem too bothered about having to be moved to a new flat.
And so began the removal of her belongings, lock stock and barrel. She is happily ensconced in her temporary abode, with a beautiful picture window overlooking a park, till after the New Year. We are thankful she is well, and happy, and looking forward to a permanent new home, smaller than the previous one as she is now on her own. Being fiercely independent, she wants to remain in her own place and not live with us.
I did not imagine I would end the year writing about catastrophes in my life, rather than another episode in the life of the garden at Barleycorn. But, throughout all the disasters, I have never failed to appreciate the changing moods of the garden, which have sustained me and uplifted me. On dark days, when things felt a bit weary, the reflections in the ponds have charmed me. Being serenaded by the birds each morning has kept my spirits up. Jack Frost has sprinkled his glitter across the bare bones of the garden and created a magical landscape. Who could fail to smile and count their blessings living in a paradise such as this?
God's in his Heaven -
All's right with the world!
Robert Browning.
Plant list
Betula Pendula Youngii
Betula Pendula
Betula Ermanii
Rosa Fruhlingsmorgen
Berberis Darwinii
Cornus Alba Siberica
Click on each image to enlarge and read its common amd botanical name.


swallowtail said...

Blessings to you and your family. What a story you have spun for us, more importantly, you have been immersed in it. Yes, the garden is there for you and because of you. Paradise is what is real. I am glad that you are back in blogland, blessing us with your insight, commitment, and the the beautiful images of winter in Barleycorn. Thank you.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Such beautiful photos! I found your blog after you began your hiatus, so didn't suffer withdrawal. I do hope life levels out for you now, and look forward to more posts.

shirl said...

Well hello again Wildlife Gardener :-D

I have been wondering if things were okay with you. Good to hear from you :-D

So sorry to hear of the hard knocks you have had this year! Pun intended to make you smile (I hope). I do hope your hand improves and your bruising heals ASAP. I understand completely the drain of your hospital visits and the travelling back and forth. It is so difficult to support the patient at times too. I am sure you did so beautifully.

So thrilled too, to hear of your Son’s marriage. I know how much that day would have meant to you and how much joy it would have given you :-D

Yes, without a doubt your family comes first. It is wonderful that you yourself were able find support in your garden with all its visitors, from the birds to butterflies, that you support all year round. Your garden has outstanding beauty and this year you will have appreciated it to a different degree I am certain. It is looking quite magical at the moment.

Sending you my very best wishes - and a hug of course too xo

Jeanne said...

Much love and many blessings to you my precious friend.
I am glad you have posted on your journal with updates and more glorious photographs.
Love and hugs
Merry Christmas

Sally said...

Hol-E-Cow! First of all - my deepest condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father-in-law. And I'm certainly happy that your mother-in-law was not injured in that explosion and that she will have a nice, new place to live. And, as for your fall, you're lucky you didn't break a hip lady!! Sheesh.

Let's hope the new year brings back your peaceful, uneventful, life in spades. Take care, W.G. There's only one of you, ya know?

Anonymous said...

As I often do, I clicked on your blog to see if you had posted. Today I was rewarded with these wonderful fosty photos of Barleycorn. It's nice to see you in print again.
What an eventful year 2008 has been for you..! Filled with both the happy and sad events that make up the fabric of our lives. Methinks perhaps you need a restful vacation with hubby, where someone can cater to your every need and you can recharge your batteries.
May your Christmas be Merry and the New Year be overflowing with good health and happiness.
Love Sheila (Canada)

Libby said...

It is so lovely to see you posting again. My condolances to your husband for his loss.
You have had a bumpy (excuse the pun) ride this year. It has always happened like that for us to, if its not one thing its another and another and so on.
But we come through, stronger, closer, and by the sounds of it your mother in law seems to be doing just that. In fact her move may help her alot as there will be few reminders of her husband.
I hope you have a peaceful and restful Christmas and look forward to hearing from you when you can.

Libby xx

The Garden Faerie said...

Wow, Wildie, so much has happened in your lives. I'm sorry to hear about your f-i-l, glad your m-i-l is doing well with you, and happy to hear of your son's wedding, and of your recovery from your fall. The garden photos are lovely, as usual; the rosehips in frost are particularly striking. I'm thinking of you and sending good karma for the coming year!
~ Monica

Cheryl said...

Dear Wildlife Gardener.....It is good to see you back again...
You most certainly have had a difficult time but we do get strength from our faith and our family......I knew in my heart something was wrong and have been thinking of you.....

I am so glad that through the sadness, your son and daughter in law had a wonderful day. They seem very much in love, this must give you much joy. I wish them every happiness.....

The photographs of Barleycorn are beautiful.....

I wish you all a healthy and happy 2009.......

A wildlife gardener said...

Good morning, Everyone, and welcome to the winter wonderland of Barleycorn. My compliments of the Season to you all. Happy Holidays :)

* Lovely to meet you, Swallowtail :)

Four of your friends nest in our barn every year. It is great to be back and I'm happy to have your company as Barleycorn. Pull up a chair and have sa glass of mulled wine while we sit down and watch the wildlife :)

* Great to meet with you once again, Michelle, and all the way from Shetland, too :)

You will be tired after your journey. Come and sit with us at the window overlooking the back pond where Mr Fox passed by yesterday. I wonder who we will see today? :)

* Hello, my dear friend Shirl :)

It's lovely to speak to you after my temporary absence. Thank you for all your supportive and encouraging comments. You are the best kind of friend to have. Come, let me take your coat, as you sit by the fire. Come and meet the others, and let's catch up again :)

* How wonderful to see you again, dear Jeanne :)

How was your flight from Canada? Not too tiring, I hope. Would you like a glass of punch or a hot chocolate? When you have warmed up we can take a walk around the frozen ponds :)

* I have been through the wars, so to speak, haven't I, Sally?

But I am back, and hopefully, 2009 will be kinder to us all. Come and meet all the gang :)

* I'm so glad you could make it, dear Sheila, all the way from Canada :)

It's great to see you again. This is so nice, we should all meet up more often. Let me give you a warm Christmas hug and wish you and yours Good Health for 2009 :)

* Hello, Dear Kindred Spirit Libby :)

You, too, know what it is to have a bad spell and to be happy to be through it. Come and have a glass of wine, and, as we wish each other Merry Christmas and Good Health in 2009, we'll catch up with our news :)

* My garden needs good fairies, and none more so than You, Dear Garden Faerie :)

A warm welcome to you on this cold day. Thank you for scattering fairy dust around the and your friend Jack Frost have been busy decorating the trees and shrubs with garlands of pretty. Bring your magic wand inside and we'll scatter a ray of blessings on one and all :)

* Dear Cheryl, how wonderful you could come :)

Christmas would not be the same without you. I agree with you entirely, our faith and our family sustain us in our lives, and, never more so than in times of adversity. We have many blessings to be grateful for. Let me give you a warm Christmas hug :)

At this point I would like to say, 'Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy and Peaceful 2009 to Everyone. Hubbie and I are off for a little holiday in Paris till the New Year. See you all then :)

bondbloke said...

My deepest and most heratfelt sympathy goes out to you...

They do say that things happen in threes, so I guess that you should now be in for a quiet period...

Thank you for sharing both your thoughts and your garden...

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I am in fact even farther -- I raise Shetland sheep in Amity, Oregon, USA!

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Welcome back Wildlife Gardener. It's been awhile since we last heard from you and now we know why. You have been through quite a few rough patches but fortunately there was some happiness (your son's wedding) as well. Glad to know that your mother in law is doing much better now, she also had quite a lot to deal with.

Sending you best wishes for a thorough healing of body and soul.

joey said...

My heart swells knowing you're near. I've so missed your posts. God knows, life is filled with many twists and turns, and having been a caretaker for my recently blind sister for the past 2 years, believe me, I hear your heart. Your warming words and photos, always a joy! Happy Holidays in your Winter Wonderland!

Bimbimbie said...

What a roller coaster ride you have been on WG. Wishing you a restful Christmas, just like your garden*!*

Barbara said...

I'm so sorry to read about all the "downs" you had this year. But I do hope for you that body and soul will soon be your "old" one. Good recovering to you! I see that in spite of all these negative experiences you made, you didn't loose your eyes (and heart) for seeing and feeling all the beautiful things around you...proof are your beautiful winter pictures of your garden and its surroundings.
Have a good time now and all the best wishes for the Holiday Season!

A wildlife gardener said...

Good evening ...or should I be saying, "Bon Soir" since I am now snug and warm in my younger son and his wife's beautiful flat in the heart of Gay Paree!

* A warm welcome to you, Blondbloke :)

It's lovely to hear from you so soon. Glad you made it in time for Christmas :)

* Hello again, Michelle! I have relatives where you are, and they are decendants of the Orcadians :)

* It's so lovely to be back, Yolanda Elizabet. Thank you for your good wishes, and I wish you Happy Christmas :)

* You are an angel, dear Joey, and I would not begin to compare myself with you. Thank you for your lovely comments. Happy Christmas to you and yours :)

* Hey, Bimbimbie! It's wonderful to hear from you too. Have a Happy Christmas :)

* Dear Barbara...I need another 'fix' in your beautiful garden in Sxitzerland. I'll pop over soon; In the meantime, Happy Christmas to you :)

I will come and visit as soon as I can. Happy christmas, and Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Q said...

My Dear Friend,
So glad you are snug and warm with family having a nice break from the stress of life. Barleycorn is a magical place and you will once again be full of joy in 2009.
Thank you for the update. Life is always full of all sorts of ups and downs. Do take good care of yourself.
I too would never be able to make it with out the gardens, the bugs and the birds. Family does come first, always. Thank you for holding your friends close.
I am sending blessings for you and yours for this Holiday season.
Happiest of New Years.

Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

Life has a way of taking us to places we never would have dreamed or even wanted to go if we could choose! I am glad that you have made it through the year fairly intact! ;-)

Your frosty pictures of Barleycorn Garden are beautiful, and make me think of frost fairies and Christmas. I hope yours is merry and the new year holds better times ahead for you.

martin said...

Hope you both have a wonderful Christmas. The gardens look fantastic...xx

A wildlife gardener said...

A warm welcome from a cold night in the centre of Paris...

* Dear Sherry, it's wonderful to be in touch with you again :) Blessings to you and all those whom you hold dear this Christmas and for 2009 :)

* How lovely to meet you, Morning Glories in Round Rock...I love your choice of name :) I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too, and life's richest blessings for 2009 :)

* Hey, Martin! Great to see you again! How's France treating you? I bet you don't miss London! Merry Christmas to you and the lovely Wendy and those gorgeous boys :)

Bimbimbie said...

... re the comment you left me, I just looked in at Sorrow's but didn't see your request?

A wildlife gardener said...

Hi, Bimbimbie, I've been back and sorted it :)

Bimbimbie said...

Thanks WG I truly hope one's on the way x

Kylee said...

Oh my goodness gracious! To wish you a Happy New Year takes on a whole new meaning for you this year, doesn't it? I certainly hope your trials and tribulations are over for now. You need a break in the worst way, my dear! I truly DO wish the best for you in the coming year.

Your photographs are absolutely gorgeous!

Big hugs to you!

A wildlife gardener said...

Good Morning, dear Kylee, on a mild day, here in Paris :)

We have only been here for four days, but, already, the stress of the past four months is quickly melting away into the dim and distant past :)

Blessings to you for 2009 :)

bondbloke said...

Hey, it just occurred to me (I am a bear of very little brain you know) didn't our pats crossat a blogmeet in Glasgow some time back now? I do remember that I was not at my best that day :)

A wildlife gardener said...

It must have been another wildlife gardener, Blondbloke...not me. I have only ever met up with one of my blogpals and that was when my hubbie and I were in London to visit the Chelsea Flower Show a couple of years ago :)

Border Reiver said...

I'm convinced there are things happening this year we have no control of. This year for me, and many around me has been just awful and to read your blog update, it seems you are also enmeshed in this negative state which things happening one after another without a glimmer of something good happening. A friend of mine said everything will improve at the end of November, it seems to be doing so, with a friends baby today being released from hospital after 2 months in a dependent care unit. I do hope you improve and feel well again yourself, and life improves generally. As you say, having wildlife around you to distract one from the chaos is what keeps many of us going.

I hope 2009 is a better year for you, I'm sure it will be for many of us. Best wishes BR

A wildlife gardener said...

A warm welcome, Border Reiver :)

The gremlins have certainly been in my area recently. Let's hope 2009 will blow the cobwebs away and usher in a calmer, more tranquil environment in which to live and work :)

Blessings to you in the New Year :)

linda may said...

G'Day, I am pleased I dropped by to check if you were back.
You are amazing!
You have been through so much and are still bright and positive. Good on you. And your photography is amazing too. Merry Chrsitmas.

A wildlife gardener said...

How wonderful to meet up again, Linda May :)

My hubbie and I are in Paris for Christmas and so, although I keep some addresses on this page, most are in my Favouites on my home computer, under 'Friends in Blogland'. As a result I will need to pay my respects in the New we say in Scotland, 'Go first footing' :)

Thank you for stopping by. I wish you Merry Christmas and blessings in 2009 :)

Z said...

What a time you've had! I'm so sorry for your injury, and condolences on the loss of your father-in-law. You managed to stay on top of things, however hard it was and I hope that 2009 is much more settled and less stressful.

Lovely pictures, thank you very much.

Happy Christmas!

A wildlife gardener said...

Great to see you again, Z :)

It's amazing the effect of a few days away from home can have...what day is it today? We have spent the best part of each day walking ...along the Seine, the Champes Elysées, from Les Invalides to the Eiffel Tower...cold, crisp, fresh air soon blows the cobwebs away :)

Happy Christmas, Zoe, and blessings to you for 2009 :)

a friend said...

Winter's crispness refreshes and brings forth the spring of renewal.
Have a wonderful Christmas and may your 2009 bring many joys!

A wildlife gardener said...

A warm welcome to our little corner of paradise, Friend :)

I so agree with your sentiments. Happy Christmas to you and yours, and blessings for 2009 :)

Miranda Bell said...

I just popped by to wish you a very Happy New Year and sorry you've had such a bumpy ride these last months - things never seem to happen in ones do they!? But as you say when you go outside, somehow you're reminded of the many blessings we have - for me it's the place where you get the best perspective of life no matter what's going on... this last week during a very cold spell in Brittany, it's been wonderful to see all the birds we have here - I'm sure it's the same for you! I was very interested to hear of you coming to Brittany - where abouts did you go - we live about 20mins south of Dinan! All the best for a good 2009 ... a bientot Miranda

marmee said...

this is my first visit. what a story. first let me express my condolences on your loss. also congratulations on your sons marriage. it is amazing how we get the necessary energy for what we need be it a wedding, helping others in need or arranging a funeral or so many other things life hands our way. good for you that you were able to enjoy the wedding even though i am quite sure you were in a lot of pain.
i love your photos accompanying your story.

A wildlife gardener said...

* Welcome, Miranda...or, should I say, 'bonjour!' We were in Loctudy in September. It is so pretty there...concarneau, Quimper, Pont L'Abbe, Sainte Marine and Pont Aven...we were spoiled for choice... :)

Happy New Year...Bonne Annee :)

* A warm welcome to you, Marmee. Lovely to meet you. we've been away so long it is now Happy New Year to you :)

Miranda Bell said...

Bonjour... - that's amazing - we stayed in Lesconil for 4 nights at the end of September - not so far away I'm guessing - it's a beautiful area down there! Miranda

Kathleen said...

Hello Wildlife Gardener. I'm so glad you're back. I had checked on your blog from time to time too then gave up for a while. Today I was thinking of your tadpoles ~ don't ask me why?? But I'm glad I was for it made me check your blog again. I'm sorry for the tumultuous year. I hope 2009 will be better and that you are healing well by now. Thank goodness for gardens, I think they heal many things.

Sandy said...

Oh wow, what a time you have had ....all my best to you and those around you!!!