The Gift of Laughter #BlogBattle#shield

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I have always prided myself on being able to use humour to cope with life’s peaks and troughs.  “Whatever life throws at you, bat it away with a laugh or a chuckle” – that’s my motto.  Use laughter as a shield to deflect all the rubbish that lands at your feet in copious amounts on a regular basis.  It seems to have worked quite well so far.

Until serious illness hits your child.  It’s pretty hard to find the humour in that.

Seeing your son laying in a hospital bed with tubes and pipes everywhere, being pumped with horse-strength doses of nasty but vital meds, every day a battle to find something that works.  That’s terrifying.  As his big, blue eyes reach to find yours and he utters in the weakest voice possible, “I’m so frightened”, and all you can do is stroke his cheek and reply, “Me too.”

So that’s how we spent our summer.  I sat by his hospital bedside every single day, taking it hour by hour, willing him to get better.  The first week was utterly dire, not helped by a sudden heatwave engulfing the country and making the critical care ward hotter than Satan’s sauna.  The poor nursing staff found it a real struggle – it’s not an easy job at the best of times, but when every single one of your patients is running a high temperature and you don’t know if that’s due to infection or them overheating, it can complicate matters a little!  Ever the professionals, they rotated cold compresses like a production line, slapping them on the patients with one hand whilst mopping the sweat from their own brows with the other.

We had a daily tour of the hospital, with a whole barrage of tests and investigations being carried out in quick succession, with ruthless efficiency. Blood tests were another matter – they were giving blood transfusions in one of our boy’s arm and taking numerous vials of blood from his other on a daily basis (one day they actually took 12 vials – I felt like suggesting they cut out the middle man – our son – and just took it directly from the drip stand before it reached the cannula).

New plumbing

Son no 1 was most impressed with his multiple plumbing lines

As time went on, and we settled into our surroundings, we began to listen to the people around us.  One day an interesting chap was brought in and shown to the bed next to us.  When I say ‘brought in’, I mean he was handcuffed to a burly police officer who never left his side.  The doctor came round to ask for his medical history (the man’s history, not that of the police officer – I’m not sure that would have helped). “So what brought you in here?” asked the doctor.  “He did!” the man replied, nodding towards the police officer.  After some dialogue that son no 3 would have described as ‘banter’, the conversation continued… “Well, there was a knock at my door, so I opened it because I have nothing to hide (cue honest expression and a shrug of the shoulders) and the police arrested me and took me to the station.” “So why did you come here?” asked the doctor, checking his watch and wondering how many more hours he would be able to spend on just the one patient.  “Well I just felt crap,” came the reply.  Not sure there was a box to tick for that one.

After 10 days, our boy was more stable so he was allocated a bed on a general ward.  And what a ward that was.  There were 3 men facing us in the bay (but not in the same bed – that kind of thing wasn’t allowed on the ward).  I shall call them A, J and P.  A was one of those people who you need to meet in your lifetime – a straight talking scouser with a heart of gold and a sense of humour that belonged on the stage.  He had us laughing from day one on that ward.  The 3 men didn’t really enjoy the hospital food, so they often ordered a take away to be brought in by a relative or even delivered to the hospital entrance.  Many a day, they could be found huddled over a menu, deciding which burger to pick.  They each needed their blood sugar testing several times a day too.  It was reminiscent of a mini lottery as each man tried to guess the other’s result before it was revealed.  The prize?  A jelly baby or two.

A had been in hospital a long time and took great delight in telling us that not only was he approaching his 100th day in there, but that he was going to have a party to celebrate.  He didn’t disappoint.  His family came in and decorated his bed with “100th” banners, flags and fairy lights. He wore a large 100 badge and piled on his bedside table was a vast array of cakes and sweets – enough to feed every single member of staff who had helped or treated him since he’d been there.  Unfortunately on the same day, our boy had a visit from the nutritionist as he was very malnourished.  She didn’t notice A’s stash of food until she finished talking to us and pulled back the curtain – there was A, surrounded by every kind of forbidden food you could think of.  She gasped loudly, but then had to laugh when she saw the look of horror on A’s face.  “It’s not all for me!” he protested.  We lost count of the amount of people who called in to see A that day – many just because they saw the ‘100’ signs and couldn’t believe how young he looked for such a grand age – he was quite put out since he was actually only in his 50’s.

One day, A and P were selected to trial some new hospital beds.  We couldn’t think of a better pair to provide honest feedback.  They quickly realised that these beds had a large range of movement – from lowering just 40cm off the floor to rising so high that A quipped he’d be able to “do a Sistine Chapel job” on the ceiling.  One of the nurses was particularly short, and A and P decided to play a joke on her.  They both raised their beds to the maximum height and then called her into the bay.  How they laughed as she berated them, wagging her finger as she shouted up at them, before striding off whilst shaking her head, albeit with a wry smile on her face.

One weekend, we were lucky enough to receive a visit from a rather distinguished, semi-retired Professor who was doing the rounds.  “You are on the ice cream and Mars Bar diet, young man!” he exclaimed.  A discussion about food followed, during which our boy said that the hospital apple crumble wasn’t as good as my home made efforts.  “But I’m always in here with you, I don’t get chance to bake,” I replied.  The Professor looked at me.  “For Goodness’ Sake woman, go home, get some sleep and bake the boy an apple crumble!” he bellowed.  I did just that and rose at 6am to bake a fresh apple crumble.  Upon my arrival at the ward, A called across, “I’ve just ordered custard for lunch, nothing else.  That’s right, isn’t it?”  My son and I looked at each other rather puzzled, and then back at A.  “You’ve brought in a large crumble,” he added, “I assume it’s to share!”

As the days rolled by, we felt buoyed by the joviality in the ward.  All the patients received an anti-coagulant injection as they spent most of their time in bed. One day, after the nurse administered an injection to A, he muttered just loudly enough for us to hear, “Trousers down, oh just a small prick, full of insults today, how rude…!”  I could write a book of all the goings on in that ward – maybe one day I will!

Some days there may have been negative news for one of the patients.  A subdued respectful silence would fall upon the ward, each man lost in his own thoughts.  Then someone would pipe up with some gentle words of encouragement, the shield of humour would gradually be raised and the mood would slowly lift again.  It worked well.

All the staff at the hospital were amazing, from the nurses, doctors, consultants, radiographers, phlebotomists… to the porters, catering staff and cleaners.  Each played a vital role in getting our boy well enough to come home.  We could not fault a single one.  But the icing on the proverbial cake was the support given from the other patients on that ward, in particular A.  He made a difficult and frightening situation so much easier to bear, restoring our ability to laugh through the pain.

A, this post is for you.  So glad we met.

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Fluffy Festivities

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Who me?

Gloria Chufflepuff Braveheart the first!
You might be a cutie, but you’re by far the worst
for fluffy attitude and arsiness and grumpiness galore,
when you don’t get your way and we shout out, “No more!”
as you cavort round the house, knocking things on the floor,
swinging from curtains and causing uproar.
Stalking the birds as you stare at the skies,
then running to hide from the big, bad magpies.
Splashing in water that you’re meant to drink
and shouting out, “Ham!” as you sit in the sink.
Swishing your tail and shaking your floof
with your nose in the air as you act all aloof.
Until darkness falls and you creep to my bed,
where you snore and fidget and sleep on my head
– one paw in my mouth, another up my nose.
Who knew that cats had such sharp elbows?!
But today is your birthday! I’ve tried not to shout
when you leaned in to kiss me but gave me a clout,
when you nuzzled my head and then spat in my hair,
when you coughed up a furball and fell off the chair.
Because we all still adore you even when you act tough.
Happy Birthday you infuriating bundle of fluff.

Blowing raspberries in the garden

 

Floof

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img_7358Ever wondered what your cat does all day?

I know exactly what mine does.

She floofs.

Everywhere.

I’d only been out for the afternoon.  I’d left a relatively tidy house.  Yet I came home just 3 hours later to a white, mohair carpet.  It was like an explosion in a candy floss factory, minus the pink.  Floof central.

Strangely enough, the cat is grey, which goes nowhere to explain how my carpet was covered in white floof.  Plus the sofa.  And the curtains.  The table too.  Come to think of it, the standard lamp was also rather skew.

Domestic duties

As I surveyed the scene, in sauntered the chuffin cat – not looking bald as I had expected, but maybe a little dishevelled.

“Holy moly!  What have you been up to?!”  I yelled.

Gloria gave me a withering look, then looked at the floor.  There I spied a mangled fly.

“You spent 3 hours chasing a fly??” I exclaimed.

Wa ha ha haaaaGloria let out a sigh.  I got the impression that she would have rolled her eyes if she could have.  Instead she adjusted her tufty paws, swished her tail (oh look, more floof) and stared at the fly again.

Then I understood what she meant: she had spent 3 hours waging war against a monstrous man-eating menace, who had threatened to destroy the house and everything in it.  So what’s the problem with a bit of floof and a few broken ornaments?

Satisfied that I now had an accurate grasp of the situation, she stood up and nonchalantly padded to the door.

Then with a turn of her head, she cast her eye across the scene and fixed me with that familiar glare, the one that says, “Look at the state of this place, human staff member, you really should perform your housekeeping duties to a higher standard.  No feline needs to spend her day paw-deep in discarded floof!”

Peek a boo!

#BlogBattle Loss of Marbles

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My cat has lost her marbles
It’s pretty clear to see
she’s as nutty as a fruitcake,
as moronic as can be.

She doesn’t climb like other cats,
hugs tree trunks like a bear
to hide from birds and squirrels
and pretend she isn’t there.

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My cat has lost her marbles,
she’s just stark raving mad,
using my poor stomach
as her personal launch-pad.

Don’t move your head too close to her
and mind those tufty paws,
for when she gives a head massage
she uses teeth and claws!

My cat has lost her marbles,
she’s a little bit ‘cuckoo’.
She cavorts around the bathtub
and then tries to lick the loo.

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She doesn’t drink like normal cats,
but uses both her paws
to throw the water everywhere
then lap it off the floor.

My cat has lost her marbles,
it’s fairly safe to say
She’s demented, daft and dizzy
in a bonkers sort of way.

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She’s checked under the sofa,
with a wiggle and a bound,
to alleviate her loss although
no marbles can be found!

But I love my potty pussy cat,
my fruit-loopy feline.
She might be cracked and crazy
but she’s special and she’s mine!

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I wrote this post as an entry for the February #BlogBattle as seen on Blog Battlers and reblogged on the excellent Anita Dawes and Jaye Marie, where I found it.  The word prompt is ‘loss’… but Gloria twisted my arm with her fluffy attitude and rather than writing about something entirely different and rather sombre, the post naturally became all about her … as always! 

Just a thought but after being Gloria’s Chief Human Staff Member for 4 years, maybe I’m the one who has lost my marbles…

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Enjoy.

How To Be a Successful Rooster. Or Not. By Marlon Fandango, King of the Disco Ball

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  • Always peck at shoes – food will fall from the sky if you do.  Purple shoes are the best.
  • When outside in the garden, look up to the sky at regular intervals whilst shaking the feathers on your head.  Spin round in circles and flap your wings.  Don’t worry that this makes you stagger round the garden like a drunk at closing time; it’s called swag.  All the best cockerels have it.

Marlon and Barbara nesting together (2)

Sharing is caring

  • If one of your hens lays an egg, go and sit on it immediately.  It then becomes your prize possession, your very own butt nugget.
  • In fact, if one of your hens is in the nesting box, go and join her.  In the same nesting box of course.  There’s plenty of space if you sit on top of her. She will certainly appreciate you breathing down her neck as she squeezes out an egg.
  • If one of your hens shouts at you, run and hide.
  • Spend hours perfecting your dance moves round the disco ball.  It will really impress your hens.

Marlon proudly helped me to write these guidelines, long before I had any idea of the ludicrous events to come.

You see, one morning I was summoned down to the chicken coop by the loudest cacophony of squawks I had ever heard.  It sounded like a drunken brass band on speed, and then some.  Down at the coop, the thick chickens appeared to be participating in a somewhat uncoordinated tribal dance, with Marlon Fandango leading the way.

Hoping to keep neighbourly complaints to a minimum, I opened the door and walked into the coop, to try and calm things down a little.  Instead I found myself at the centre of the celebrations as Marlon proceeded to do his best Scottish reel, twirling in ever decreasing circles whilst shouting loudly.  Then events took a decidedly stranger turn – Marlon began to barge into the hens, rubbing his head and neck against each of them in turn.  I was hit with a sudden moment of dread: was I caught in the middle of a chicken gang bang??  Feeling desperate to make my escape I tried to move towards the door, but Marlon blocked my way.  He let out an almighty holler, then squatted on the ground in front of me.  When he stood up I couldn’t believe my eyes… for there on the ground was an egg.  An actual egg.  Laid by my rooster.  My… rooster??  I’m not sure who was more surprised – me or Marlon.  The coop fell silent.  I looked at Marlon, he looked at me.  The hens looked at each other as if to say, “Well, this is awkward.”

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Then, being chickens, they got on with the serious business of foraging and kicking dirt about, leaving me in a state of bewilderment amongst the dust.  So Marlon is now a hen?  This rooster who grew bigger than his sisters, grew hackles on his neck, long saddle feathers on his tail and a magnificent crest on his head, who had spent 2 years crowing in a morning… this is actually a HEN?  (We can ignore the fact that he’d grown a beautiful beard – Joyce the Voice had grown an impressive one too, and she’s 100% hen!) But Marlon had certainly laid an egg – I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t witnessed it before my eyes.  And no, I hadn’t been drinking that morning!

IMG_6369Suffice to say that in the weeks to follow, Marlon continued to lay eggs: not every day, but regularly enough to prove that it wasn’t a one-off event.  He laid them on the floor of the coop and if I didn’t pick them up early enough, he would play football with them.  He’d also lay eggs in the garden.  It was almost like a party trick – “Hey listen to me crow, now watch me lay an egg!  Go me!”  The hens were getting a little fed up of the entire debacle by now.  The chuffin cat gave him an even wider berth than usual.  Nobody likes a show-off.

IMG_4361Upon seeking advice, it seems that Marlon probably had an excess of male hormones for the first 2 years of his life; these levels have now dropped for some reason and his ‘true form’ has finally revealed itself.  As you go down to the coop nowadays, you are never sure who you will find down there – “Marlon Fandango, King of the Disco Ball”… or (in a deep voice) “call me Marlene, anytime…”  We’ve even had a crow in a morning followed by an egg laid at lunchtime and a touch of flamenco dancing at dusk.  It could only happen in my household.  But we still call him Marlon – that’s a hard habit to break and he seems to prefer it.

Of course, to Gloria a bird is a bird.  Be it male, female or confused, it would still taste good on a plate with a side of tuna for good measure.  And yes, I do still shout, “Friend, not food!” as she eagerly hotfoots it down to the bottom of the garden to spend the day hobnobbing with the various inhabitants of the chicken coop.

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Teeth and Fluffy Trousers

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Today I had an argument with the chuffin cat.  It wasn’t a pleasant experience. I have the scars to prove it.  That’s the last time I try to wrestle a piece of holly from her armpit. Until next week that is, when I’ll have to do it all again.  But then it will probably be a bramble stuck in her bum fur, just to change it up a bit. Maybe I should sell ring-side tickets to watch the battle.

Anyway, keen to put our differences aside, I bought her a catnip ball.  Not a tatty, fabric shape infused with 3 solitary leaves of catnip.  No, this was an entire ball constructed of compressed catnip: a deluxe treat.

IMG_5480As I handed the peace offering to Gloria, she eyed me suspiciously.  Two minutes later, having wrestled with it, batted it, pummelled it, dribbled on it and sat on it, she promptly stood up and cast it aside.  Then she flounced off outdoors without even giving it a second glance.  Assuming that put an end to our disagreement, I made a well deserved cup of tea.  As I headed outside with my mug, I felt content in the knowledge that I would be able to sit peacefully in my bear chair, without the worry of being clawed through the wooden slats by a revenge-seeking tufty paw.

Ten minutes later, I received an unexpected present from Gloria in return – a plump, soggy, brown mouse deposited carefully at my feet.  A very much alive mouse who promptly took two large gasps of air, and then waddled off at a brisk pace.

The face of disapprovalGloria looked from me, to the mouse and then back to me again.  Clearly she was expecting some form of action.  We watched together as her ‘offering’ disappeared back into the undergrowth, like a mini spy on a secret mission, having infiltrated enemy lines. He was only missing the dark glasses and briefcase.  Maybe he’d left them in the hedge earlier.

Gloria threw herself on the grass in front of me, an air of disgust hanging like a dark cloud over her fuzzy head.  She glared at me.  I glared back.  And thus we ended up right back where we started from.  In my role as Chief Human Staff Member, I had yet again failed abysmally in trying to live up to Gloria’s high expectations.

Note to self: you can never win a fight when teeth and fluffy trousers are involved (just to clarify, both of those relate to the chuffin cat and not to me).

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Is Anybody There?

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Hello!  IMG_5900

Remember me?

Chief Staff Member for Gloria Chufflepuff, the chuffin cat, Head Poo Picker for the thick chickens, referee and chef for 3 fetid boys.  Yes, that’s me – ring any bells?

It’s been a long time.  Too long.  This poor little blog has been neglected and filed away in a dark corner with only spiders and the odd errant mouse (Gloria’s latest house guest) for company.  I think it’s time to bring it back – who agrees with me? (‘It’ being the blog, not the mouse, if you’re listening Gloria).

It’s been something of an enforced break, but more on that another time.  For now, I’m sure you’re all desperate to hear the latest news.

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Gloria is as rambunctious as ever.  She has grown bigger and poofier, as has her attitude.  Her headbutts can knock you into a neighbouring room, particularly with 14 pounds of force and sassiness behind them.  She was out in the garden yesterday, now that the sun has finally made an appearance.  As she patrolled across the lawn, tufty feet pounding the ground, tail wafting in the breeze, I noticed that her belly fur was actually touching the grass.  Bearing in mind that I recently mowed the lawn, it made me realise that she’d been caught unawares – her summer body is a long way off (I know the feeling!).  That’s what a prolonged winter does for you.  Well, that and a voracious appetite for Dreamies treats…

IMG_4294The thick chickens, of course, moulted in the middle of winter, with snow heavy on the ground.  As I ran around the coop trying to collect up the discarded feathers which were being buffeted by the hurricane-strength winds, I did wonder whether to sew them into mini jackets for the hens.  I mean, obliging little souls that they are, I didn’t really want ready-plucked frozen chucks, even if it was Christmas-time.

 

The boys have also grown.  In size and in noise.  And in messiness.  My cupboards are always bare as they manage to eat every single morsel they can find, however well-hidden it may be (even my Mint Choc Club biscuits from the secret compartment in the fridge – how very rude!) Have you ever seen a boy inhale a jaffa cake?  I have.  And don’t even get me started on the husband.

So I’m still here, and planning to do lots more writing.  Which leads me to my main question: is there anybody left to read this?

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