changeling times

trials and tribulations of eclectic chicken

catching up January 9, 2013

Someone sent me a note of slight concern today as I’ve not been blogging… they were worried about me being bogged down by my chemo.

Actually its quite the contrary… the last few days (maybe as much as a week – lucky me)! I’ve felt pretty much normal… the urge to try and fit three weeks worth of life into a weeks worth of having muchos energy has been almost over-whelming.

But no…. I know to try and conserve my energy… as I start to run up stairs I say ‘no -walk!’ to myself…. and remember to eat proper regular meals – we don’t want all those additional calories to go to waste before they are really needed, do we?

Feeling chipper has made me realise just how little I’ve been out of the house (other than for hospital appointments). So highlights of the week have included a visit from ‘he who shall not be named’ bringing Christmas presents, bonhomie and a trip out to a local pub for a sandwich. (and a slice of white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake).

An overnight stop at Annies for veggie sausage, chips, fried egg, cheesecake (can you see a theme here?) and a game of charades and general larks. Can’t remember when I last laughed so much… the boy at supper time asked who was the prettiest person at the table (bear in mind three gorgeous teenage girls were present)…so I put my hand up and said I was and with perfect comic timing he quipped – “not you baldy!”

And then yesterday Meg and I went and brunched at our local bikers caff (or ranch house as they prefer to be called) and stuffed ourselves with a build your own breakfast, mug of tea and a piece of excellent key lime pie (wot no cheesecake!?!) each…. I felt totally food satisfied and even braved baked beans!

…and then today… back in for my third chemo session (hopefully that puts me at a hypothetical half way mark)… I can feel the poison creeping round my body already (no morphine to numb or distract this time). When I got home I took the dog for a short walk…. it could be my last walk in the fresh air for a week (though i have the treat of IT chemo tomorrow back at the hospital).

deep breath…and round we go.

Feels horrid… feeling so healthy and then having to go down into the cycle again.


code red to amber November 11, 2012

Filed under: cancer,home stuff — eclectic chicken @ 8:09 pm
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mentally I guess it’s just taken this week to make that shift…. I’ve still not heard from the oncology department (hopefully tomorrow or i’ll be chasing them) but this week my team of web monkeys have been busy.

When I say web monkeys I mean most everyone I know who cares about me and is computer literate…. having heard that for the first time ever in the history of the intermeweb I am avoiding google through sheer terror – they have been googling by proxy.

Now everytime someone rings me up to say I have an 82.something% survival rate over 5 years I tell them wikipedia isn’t as any fule knows a reliable resource… but I do quite like the figure they’ve all come up with that out of the 120 people who died from lymphoma in the last year a 100% of them were over 60…or 65…or something.

It’s good to have friends.

On the down side my sympathy wringing is now known as being totally tongue in cheek…. and people are being nice to me becuase I’m going to be having a shit few months ahead as opposed to I might be dead by Christmas….

In fact give it another week and we may find out I’m one of those people who react well to chemotherapy and then I’ve got no chance of anyone being extra nice to me.

I guess deep down and despite wikipedia certainty there’s a part of me which is still very very scared…. its scary when your body rebels… a bit like old age in extra fast forward.

It cheers me up to cope with the worst case scenario with humour…. I’ve expressed very loudly that I want a coffin shaped pork pie on the funeral buffet and Wreckless Erics Final Taxi at some point in the proceedings… and I want to be buried in my wedding dress a gimp mask and a wicker coffin….

some of these things will be remembered when my time eventually comes hopefully in about 40 years… others will fade…and no  doubt i’ll grow back out of my wedding dress again.

But I’m doing what lots of people try not to do… I’m thinking about my own death and to be honest the only thing that really scares me is how it will make those feel who I would leave behind. (damn my vague belief in a sort of general reincarnation)

So if all I need to do is stay stubbornly alive whilst they fry my insides I think I can do that… especially with so much help and support around.

And becuase i’ve spent so much time this week thinking about  the people I love I cadged a lift up to Sheffield yesterday to see the best of my web monkeys… me and my daughter had a wonderful evening catching up on this series of Walking Dead and eating sushi and then I was in bed by about half eight.

Code red and I know my life was worth living just to be able to leave her in the world to prove I was here.

Code amber…and we’re going to have many many more sushi and zombie nights 🙂


lurching into the final furlong…. August 29, 2012

Filed under: home stuff — eclectic chicken @ 9:29 pm
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Well, as we lurch towards the end of the summer holidays and the new school term looms a mere week away I can look back and we’ve had a summer break mostly well spent…. last(ish) but not least was a visit en famille to Cheshire, primarily for the boy to spend some time with his one and only cousin… but also for me to spend some time staying with my sister (as opposed to my mum) [they live very close to one another].

Jane’s main reason was to attend Manchester Pride and she decided a small boy can’t attend enough events where they give away whistles, flags and stickers and took him with her… allowing me an afternoon with da bear (whilst relatives drove home from Cornwall).

I hate short visits with my cigar smoking bear…. but a short visit is better than no visit and we managed to squeeze in a canal walk with Lucky.

Strange to think its been a full year (give or take a couple of bust ups)… managing a relationship over a largeish distance can be a tricky biscuit… made slightly easier by it being a secondary relationship I guess, we both have plenty of stuff going on in our other lives to distract us – But who’da thunk we’d have got this far?

A few drizzly days of further canal walks, a trip to Delamere Forest, some time down the pub and a couple of short visits to my mum and a few longer conversations about what we’re going to do about our mum (more of that later no doubt) and a few days passed quickly.

Back home…countdown to school… new shoes needed…. good bedtime habits to be re-established… and we’re in the downhill scramble towards the new term.


good weekend all round July 16, 2012

Filed under: home stuff,out'n'bout — eclectic chicken @ 10:13 am
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The household divided into two this weekend as Jane took the boy off down to Bristol for the Pride march and some general sightseeing.

The boy’s highlights seem to be nearly being kettled and arrested, helping a knife juggler and having some rice and prawns in a restaurant in the shape of an igloo (the rice – not the restaurant).

Jane assures me that the kettling and near arrest are an exaggeration. But, the boy, harangued our local friendly community liason officer last week about the Hillard brothers case whilst he was on a school visit…. so I do wonder. 🙂

Meanwhile at home… the dog and I were visited by my cigar smoking bear… honoured indeed as it’s rare he’s lured from his lair (…even with camembert).

I cooked steak, potatoes dauphenoise and wilted chillied spinach… (so you can tell how pleased i was).

Saturday was glorious, we went to take a look at Ely and lunched by the river looking at boats… had a swift look in the cathedral and spent a long time queueing for ‘donuts’…. my advice is never queue for donuts in Ely.

The tiny wee caravan is run by two old ladies… the one at the public interface had a moustache almost to rival the bears and the one at the cooking the donuts interface had a lovely finger sucking habit going on to keep her fingers free of sugar (I didn’t like to point out its the sucking wot makes the sugar stick).

The donuts when they eventually arrived were simultaneously burnt, raw and saturated in ancient fat.

No wonder those fenlanders eat eels (or rather good burgers down by the river).

We got home….paused briefly to get the dog and then went for a long walk in the evening sunshine.


Sunday… the bear insisted on attacking the garden with both strimmer and lawnmower… it was sunny… I walked the dog, had a shower and then sat around wearing a sundress on a sunny sunday morning watching a man work hard… double bliss.

Nay…triple bliss… but brings home again how much I miss having a man around. He made more impact in an hour or so than I’d have made in a week.

My neighbour came over and lent the bear a billhook and suggested he visits again.


…destressed in various ways March 7, 2012

Filed under: trans stuff — eclectic chicken @ 12:48 am
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I’ve had a wonderful few days getting rid of some of the stress I’d  built up before ‘the documentary’ aired.

Firstly I watched it over at Annies… i knew that way i’d get a hug if i got upset (which i only did once… the point that gets me every time – ‘Jane’s transition is more important than me’)… it also meant i could watch the whole thing and then talk about the whole thing as opposed to what Jane had been wearing…. how she came accross… what she said… and a million other conversation starters the terminally self centred have.

Then a few days over with my cigar smoking bear…. who actually with hindsight didn’t smoke any cigars. We had our usual bedcentric time, full of laughter and conversation…. his own insight on the documentary was that it was a tale of two halves… the NHS  and the private route. I’m not sure if that was an intended strand to follow by the director… but it was definitely there.

jane floating down harley street…. a pillar flanked shiny door

michelle…. staring at 1960s utilitarian prefab

I was horrified that our travelling 1st class to Brighton had added to this mimeme…it was clear from the seats- i’d like to clarify at this point that the only way they would let us film on the train was if we were in first class (farcical as it was in the same carriage as standard and consisted of six seats, one mended with yellow sticky tape – the only distinguishing feature being the paper headrests with 1st on).

It is also the case that a fair number of GR surgeries are done at the nuffield (where Jane went), by the same surgeon… and no doubt their patient care is consistent and they tell the visitors of NHS patients where the free hot chocolate machine is.

But I’m digressing….

Dissipated i dissipated some further nervous energy via the art of sleep… the first night, punching a glass off my bedside table and running like a lurcher after dream rabbits…legs going like billy-o. The second night…shouting… various things, but finally as morning came -“SIX BUTTONS”. (answers on a postcard if anyone knows what THAT was all about).

We had a day of sleet and snow and biting winds in York, and a drive in glorious sunshine to Widnes (sometimes the cookie really doesn’t crumble right does it)?

And then home again today in time for a massage…back and Indian head…. my massage lady can never find much muscle tension… maybe I always work my stresses out in my sleep in vigorous and violent ways.

So…life is back to ‘normal’ – onwards and upwards.

ps. thankyou to everyone who has sent, kind, loving, supportive messages over the last few days… much appreciated and the whole experience I think has helped click a few things into place for me. Best of all is that there have been lots of instances fed back to us, of the documentary acting as a catalyst for all sorts of positive moves forward for all manner of people and it started many many sensible conversations… thats heartening…thats what it was for.


….and breathe January 21, 2012

Filed under: home stuff — eclectic chicken @ 2:47 pm
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…but no ‘the conversation’ hasn’t happened yet.. it now feels like one of those things built up to be bigger and more important than it can ever be in reality.

But we do have central heating back on and not only a new (definitely more effective) boiler and pump [the latter really wasn’t meant to be making ‘those’ noises] we also have two new radiators where none existed before… One in the dining room which used to have some weird sort of semi comatose convector heater on the wall (no wonder we rarely eat in there in Winter) and one in the main bathroom!!!!! yay!!!! There used to just be a heated shiny towel rail thingy but it really didn’t come anywhere close to heating the actual room – which with two teenage girls was actually no bad thing as it kept them from living in there. Nowadays the boy and I use that bathroom (leaving the en suite to Jane and her objets de trans and her increasing clutter of female ecoutrements) and it’s sheer bliss having it a)warm enough to be naked in for more than 3 seconds and b)warm enough not to instantly and totally condense up the whole room at the merest sniff of hot water.

So thats the minutiae of our heating solutions which you all obviously called by to catch up on.

What else is going down in the house.

Things are back on with the cigar smoking bear… What’s that? I hadn’t told you they were off?

Sheesh, I can’t tell you everything…. a misunderstanding….some confusion… a lack of faith in my own judgement. See thats another thing all this hooha with Jane has done…a long term thing…. I’ve always prided myself on my instincts with people and in my ability to trust and to just bounce when trust gets broken. But by god …things have changed.

I’ve found it harder to trust… I’m always looking for what may be going on under the surface that I don’t see… I always suspect maybe I’m wrong… like I was with Jane. I find it so much harder to take what people do and say at face value.

No doubt it’ll take time… and time (I’m told) is something we have lots of.

So those of you who have noticed a lack of tales of hotpot and cigars can rest assured there will be more.

And I should be a bit more cheery again.


Round trip with hotpot November 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 7:39 pm
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Another busy few days…. first back over to Annie’s by train, we are planning a retreat which will incolve knitting, wine, arty farty stuff, bleak seascapes and probably more wine. We spent a day on the intermeweb trying to find a cheap cottage in November…. who in their right mind goes away in November? Everyone it seems.

But we found somewhere…Annie and her magical phone manner brought the price down to pretty much half the original amount and so we are off next week…just the two of us and a dog. More later of that I suspect.

Then onwards to Cheshire for another visit to the cigar smoking bear… more hotpot and high jinks.  I’m very fond of my ciger smoking bear… and he does remind me of badger from Wind in the Willows. I toyed with making him an honorary badger…. but he suits his bear hat more.

Eventually I ended up at my intended destination which was my mums house… and had organised a lift back home with my brother in law…. with mum in the back seat supplying copious amounts of midget gems.

She’s here for a week…. so far so good. She’s 85 and often confused…. but I’m 44 and often confused… so I think we’ll get through the week.

Then on Friday I’m driving her home again…. I can almost smell the hotpot.


my kingdom for a sock October 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 1:58 pm
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Smell is so important… when I was little I used to warm my dad’s slippers in front of the fire before he came home from work. He’d come in, bringing the smell of cold outside and engine oil from work and sit in his rocking chair…. I’d remove his shoes and then before putting his slippers on I used to sit and sniff his socked feet.

I know…I know…. it’s a little bit weird… and no I havn’t grown up to be a foot fetishist.

It’s the same with those we are fond of… those we love…. I love the smell of my children….and everyone loves the smell of babies heads (thats the noggins of babies, not steak puddings – though those smell good too).

I used to have a boyfriend who smelt of wild sage on a dry mediterranean hillside… it was pretty much all he had going for him as it turned out.

Jane used to smell lovely as John…. now…. she smells lovely mixed with your favourite aunt.

Somewhere I think I just like the smell of men… no…no..not heavy sweaty nasty smelly men on the tube at the end of a day…. but the clean smell of underlying testosterone… snuggling into someones armpit in the morning… or indeed the smell of relatively clean socks.

So anyway…. my man bear smells of lovely men things…. of cigar smoke and aftershave with underlying ‘man’.

(I’m not getting to fixated on this man thing am I – do let me know if I am)

We were lying in bed the other day -in post trifle contentment probably  – when I found myself asking him for something strange.

A sock.

He obliged -happened to have one handy on the bedroom floor even.

I sniffed it.


Took it home.

The next morning I lay in bed sniffing it (actually I was happily wearing it as a bandito moustache whilst greeting the morning – but that sounds even too strange to be one of my habits…. and a habit is something one does regulary…right?)

At this point if anyone wants to point out a father figure thing going on…. or moustache envy…or any other sort of mental instability I suggest you come round and look at my house as the bear tells me it screams madness in several languages. But I forgive him becuase his socks smell so damned good.

But today I am sad – I appear to have lost said sock…. it wasn’t powerful enough to be making its way homewards to Nantwich but I suspect it may have ended up lying around just looking like a dirty sock and it could well be that Jane has washed it.

I may have to go out and hunt down someone who smokes cigars to stand behind them quietly a while and smile happily to myself instead.

Or ring up the man bear and ask him to send the other one of the pair.


Away days…more hotpot….and the road to Wales October 26, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 5:33 pm
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I’ve been to Cheshire, started off with a visit to my cigar smoking bear, which apart from talking about hotpot needs its own anonymous ‘X’ rated blog somewhere…. but i will mention the food at the Cholmondeley Arms where we cosied up by a fire, with a somewhat pretentious sign on the mantleshelf telling us what sort of wood they were burning (but no information on how long it had seasoned for or from whence it came)…we shared something called a ‘starting plate to share’ which contained delights such as whitebait, sausages and potted rabbit and pheasant and only just had enough room after to share a chocolate brownie and ice cream between us.

Then on to stay with my relatives…. which was fine. I managed a night out with my sister which is something we probably havn’t done since we both had children a year apart and spent lots of time with my mother who I’ll kindly describe as ‘confused’ or in my sons words ‘totally bonkers’. My sister is amazing for coping with mum on a daily basis without resorting to matricide…. I manage to maintain some sort of calm amidst the mandlebrot spirals of conversation for a couple of days….

do you want toast Andrea?

yes please

{mother puts toast in toaster}

would you like some toast?

theres some in the toaster mum

oh yes {pops it up}

its not done

no you just put it in

would you like some toast?

{pops toast down}

yes please

i’ll put some in

{looks down}

oh theres some in there already…would you like this toast?

etc etc

We then decided to have a run out to a garden centre and buy a plant for my daughters university room (as consolation for my reducing her bonsai to a twig again – though i am just hoping its merely Autumn)…. its a seven mile trip ending a few hundred yards from my cousins house, where we hoped to have coffee and a visit.

After about 15 miles I began to suspect my mother had lost her way, though she wouldn’t admit we may have gone ‘a bit wrong’ until the roadsigns turned into Welsh.

That evening I started digging an escape tunnel to see my bear…. but gave up and used a walk to the bank as subterfuge. He picked me up on the corner of the road…. took me home…. put me in bed and put a cup of coffee in one hand and a bowl of trifle in the other…. and after forty minutes I felt sane enough to go back.

And then today…. a beautiful sunny day… the boy and I drove over the Snake Pass to Sheffield… Alabama3 loud and the windows open… I couldn’t have been happier. The boy was awe inspired by hills (poor little lowland lad he is) and learnt that when two people go for a wee in the wood… the one on the high ground has the upper hand and then was delighted to be told that his wee with any luck would filter through to the reservoir and people in the cities would drink it…. who knows what boys wee in homeopathic quantities could do to a towns population.

It was lovely but brief seeing the daughter…. I need to spend time in Sheffield… not only for the joy of my daughters company but also the chinese bakery and there is a museum of glass I believe and the boy spotted a museum of police and fire as we were leaving.

We ended the day in MacDonalds back in Stamford…. my daughter still won’t set foot in one having been brought up by me in my first incarnation of a parent (no Disney, no Barbie, no CocaCola…no MacDonalds)… the boy does them all except Barbie. Sometimes it feels like my son (with his 12 year age gap from his sister) is some sort of control experiment.

But we are home now….and that always feels good.



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