Sunday, 27 June 2010

Looking Up

I've started swimming twice a day now.

I went at 3 pm the other day, and was outside for 30 minutes and got sunburned! So I won't be doing that again. It was cooler than normal for 3 o'clock due to the rain in the morning, but still the concrete was too hot for bare feet.

At 8 o'clock in the morning the temperature is the same as a hot summer day in Britain. Very pleasant, but the concrete is too hot for feet. I now put on sunscreen. I got a natural one from because the skin always absorbs whatever is put onto it, so in my opinion, if it's not safe to eat, then it's not safe to use on my skin. The sun is shining onto the pool and the sky is blue, the trees are green and the water is warm, but not hot.

At 7 o'clock in the evening, the pool is in shade, the concrete is just about OK to stand on in bare feet, and the water is warmer than the morning. So that is when I'm having my second swim of the day.

The pool is a perfect depth for me. It goes from 4 foot to 4 and-a-half-feet, so wherever I am I can easily stand. Although I can swim I do get a little nervous when I'm out of my depth. The pool is 2 lanes wide and the length is longer than a normal width, but shorter than a normal length.

I did 20 laps this evening then I floated on my back to relax and enjoy the view. A tiny white aeroplane went in one direction, whilst birds flew in al the other directions. Dragon flies also came into view and something that I haven't identified yet. It's either a large insect or a tiny bird. It goes too fast for me to see it properly. I'm hoping it's a humming bird. All this is framed in a beautiful blue sky by the green leaves of silver birch trees that are tinged with gold as they catch the last of the sun.

And then I became aware, as I gazed at the blue, of being able to see the water on my cornea. The water did not look very clean, or maybe it was the chemicals in it. If you've ever seen a puddle that had some oil in it you'll have noticed that the oil is formed into shapes on the surface. The water on my corneas looked a little like that with several shapes in my vision that didn't move much. As I gazed I also saw many tiny dots with tails darting everywhere. The dots were transparent and they only seemed to be visible because the light as shining off them. They looked like they might be microscopic organisms in the water that were constantly moving. I wasn't a particularly pleasant thought, that they were swimming around on the surface of my eyes but at the same time it was really fascinating.

So next time you're swimming, lie on your back and see what you can see.

Thursday, 24 June 2010


During my first week at Thurloxton Manor the weather was quite hot and the owners invited me to swim in the outdoor pool they have at the bottom of the garden. The thought was infinitely more lovely than the deed, due to temperature of the water. It took me a very long time to immerse myself, and I couldn't swim for long because my feet went numb. I'm told the water gets hot by August if there's been a warm summer.

By contrast I went swimming yesterday in Louisiana. The pool water was as warm as a pleasant bath. I'm planning on going every day. However It's raining today, and I learned from living in North Carolina, that it's dangerous to swim outdoors in the rain in case a lightning bolt hit the water and electrocutes you. I swam in the rain in an outside pool in Britain when I was a child. It was fun. British rain is rarely accompanied by thunder and lightning - only if it's been particularly hot weather.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


[I've changed the title of this post from "Being Let Go" to "Redundancy", because I'm told the former phrase means being fired. As far as I recall, I've never been made redundant before, and hadn't matched the word in my head to the event.]

My job started out part time. My main shifts were Saturday and Sunday 8am - 4pm, then 6pm -8pm. But I also did 3:15 - 4pm and 6pm - 8pm on Mondayd and Fridays. the first 12 hours of each week was unpaid because it was to cover my board and lodging. This did not work out to be enough money for me, so the owner, Charis, gave me all the ironing for the holiday cottages. She had hoped I would be able to do this ironing within the hours i was already working, but her mother Grace, was taking up an increasing amount of time so this was just not possible. i was then given the responsibility for helping Grace to bed each evening so the person who did the supper shift could concentrate on that. This ended up with me working 7 days a week but on some days it was just for one hour. Then Charis wanted me to do the extra ironing from 4-6pm so there was someone on hand to help Grace with the toilet if she needed it.

The person who had the job before me had only ever lived in an orphanage and then other people's homes whilst looking after them. So when her friend got her her own house, from the Housing Association, she was very anxious about having the responsibility for everything including the bills. At the age of 62 it was all too much change for her. So she came back to visit and told Charis all this. Charis felt an obligation to help her and decided to have a reorganisation of the staffing. She had been losing money on this part of her business and her mother needed more care so she decided the person doing the live-in job was to just work 4 hours on Monday and Friday, and 2 hours each of the other days, whilst her mother was still alive. She knew I would not want to do that as I needed to earn more money than that. Especially as the first 12 hours worked were to pay for the board and lodging. So, there i was out of a job again. Charis was very keen to give me a good reference so that was OK. I was surprised, but understood her reasoning.

So it was packing up, back to my mother's and looking for another job.

Then my daughter Helen, on hearing I was free gain so soon, invited me over to the USA to live with her for a while to look after my granddaughter.

Looking After Grace

The owner's mother, Grace is dying, although I'm not sure she knows it. I was there one month and I noticed a great deterioration in her ability to care for herself. When I first arrived she managed to get herself to her toilet with only a little difficulty. Then she started needing help getting there, then she needed help with her hygiene, then she could only use the commode if it was near her, then she couldn't get onto to the commode by herself, and then I left, so I wasn't involved in the next step.

It became my job to help her get ready for bed each night. This was a pleasure because she was such a gracious lady. She went to a private school as a girl and had participated in many sports. She had married a clergyman who was a Greek scholar and had lectured at a theology college. Even though she was now living in her daughter's house, she had brought some of her furniture with her. They were all beautiful and unusual pieces, probably antiques. Her clothes were equally elegant and of good quality. She wore mainly pink and purple shades but her daughter said she did not like pink. She told me she called the colur she wore, mauve.

She didn't like losing her mobility and was often in much pain. She often said, "Getting old is no joke."She was bleeding within her digestive tract and so in the morning there was often a lot to clear up. She would apologise for creating so much work, but I really did not mind doing it and i would tell her so. But I remembered that people like their feelings acknowledged, so I told her that I understood she felt uncomfortable.

Thurloxton Manor

I wrote a blog post on the first day of my new job in May but for some reason i didn't post it. so here it is now.

My first morning in my new place - I bring the curtain rail down as I open the curtains. My room is a little dark because there is a clump of trees outside my window. It's lovely to see the green. The old, rambling manor house is surrounded by green. The house has been extended throughout the years and so has a higgledy piggledy arrangement of rooms.

The owners live in the main wing, with high ceilings and majestic stairs. The other residents, three old ladies and myself live in the other wing, the one with all the extended bits, quaint narrow stairs and a sloping landing floor. There is a step up to my room and a step down to my en suite bathroom which has a sloping low ceiling and therefore no shower, only a bath. One old lady lives upstairs and she uses the stair lift.

(I found out later that the part I was living in was in fact the original building and as the owner or owners became more wealthy, they built the imposing manor house part. And then someone added quaint bits onto the original old part. I the vestibule of my part of the building there is a bread oven built into the wall. This was no doubt the main living room when originally built.)

I appreciate when the lady on my floor, and the one under my room are watching the same TV program. I also appreciate that they go to bed at around 8 pm so I can have a quite evening,

There is a beautiful dog here called Hugo. He has a very gent;e personality which belies the fact that he will kill and present birds and small mammals. He has a person come in each week groom him, which is more than the ladies get. their hairdresser comes once a fortnight.