Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Hip Happity Hop … and I get to grow – how cool is that?! Hardwick makes a requested visit …

St Hilary’s Day has rolled around … another year has passed … and life is hip hip hipping forwards very fast.

African tea lights

I am hip-hopping off to hospital for a hip op on Saturday … it’s all go round here!  Birthdays where do they feature?  Hospital visits today – such is life, when they fast track you.

I suppose I could convert the rhyme: 

told on Friday
partied on Saturday
worried on Sunday
dusted on Monday
rushed on Tuesday … 
     ... just so you can’t think about getting a year older
or greyer!
moved furniture on Wednesday
dashed about on Thursday
panicked on Friday and ...
collapsed for op on Saturday

Dancer - hands on hips by
Antonio Canova 1812
I’ve been in some pain for a few years … decades … but as I’ve always played fairly serious squash – not at the top level, but next level down … and was always playing leagues, or different friends, or in tournaments … a hip problem?  No!

Anyway having exercised, tried various therapies, checked out my back – eventually I had my hip x-rayed early last summer;  it obviously wasn’t serious as I wasn’t called in and was happy to wait – I wanted to take Jenny (86) round England in October and to visit relatives etc

Saw the doctor after Jenny had returned to Canada, got sent off to the consultant – with the words … well you’re not taking pain killers and you can walk … my comment: well I need to know what’s happening -  I’m in pain and it’s getting worse.  The doc is not unsympathetic … and I don’t do pills, if I can avoid them ... and I cope usually – so I’m an 'unusual bird’.

My colourful sofa!!

Consultant’s visit – I eye the two hips on the x-ray screen: right one looks solid and nice, left one looks flaky and pittedly weak.  Brief discussion: it is congenital – I told him about my 67 years of life (as of today) – and how much squash I’d played and how I’d always been happy playing ball games – tennis in those early days. 

That seemed to stop him in his tracks … a brief silence ensued … his arm reached in his drawer, extracted a yellow form … sign here and we’ll give you a new hip.

Did you know, by the way your left leg is an inch shorter … and we’ll give you an extra inch!!  Yay – life improves I get taller – everyone else gets shorter!!  Sadly, I was brought back to earth … it balances out and it’s only half an inch.  Then when I had the early pre-assessment last year … I’ve already shrunk an inch – must be blogging … all the blame is on you lot?!

Fun wrapping paper -
present still to be opened!

Normally we are given 4 – 5 week’s notice … Friday I was rung up – by the time I rang back – the hospital lady, I needed to speak to, had gone for some lunch.  I was partying on Saturday and needed to go out to shop ... so said I’d be back by 3.45 or so …

Late Friday pm … would I like to have my hip op on 17th November … this somewhat non-plussed me … laughingly I said “November” … she, I think, was quite pleased I’d laughed … said "oh no January" … I said “Saturday”?  Yes – we operate on Saturdays.

So I’m going to the posg hospital – when I replied to the text message I’d had – of course I realised what posg meant: posh!
Hardwick resting ... 

So today is hospital visits and assessments … and chaos reigning … they only phoned me after lunch yesterday … so as I’m on my own – life is interesting to say the least … working out what’s needed.   Some things have slotted into place – others still need to.

Their system is different to the general hospital, and to the other private clinic (that does National Health work) that I have some information on … so now I need to adjust to the way their method of process works.

Hardwick's nose
This will be my last post for a while … I’d like to do the Ubuntu blog-hop if Michelle Wallace organises, and I thought there was something else, but brains are addled at the moment, then the A-Z theme reveal in March … so I may just quietly stay on the side-lines til the A-Z rocks around.

Give myself time to completely recover and get my hip working fully … and be ready for the future …

Hardwick with his Santa hat - Christmas 2010
in my mother's room

Betsy of My Five Men … asked about Hardwick, so he’s come out of retirement briefly … he needs some air … and it’s good to have him around for my birthday … and the many memories of him on my Mum’s bed for all those years.

Right that’s me done … I will happily hip off to sort this motley life out … and get the post up – so please go gently on me re commenting and being around … I’ll be here – but a break will do me good …

Mandela Apron

… the A-Z will kick me back into gear (hopefully not breaking the new hip!!) … and Ubuntu will remind us of who we are and what we should be embracing in life … “I am; because of you” or the Zulu word ‘Londolozi’ meaning “Protector of all Things”  - my post ishere, which includes a TED talk.

Hip hip hooray to me … and to all of you for nurturing my blogging interests … I might even be looking to get a little into FB and Twitter … now that will be a shock to one and all!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 9 January 2015

Bones of Good Contention!

After so many of your comments about the ‘horror’ of having bones in your meal – be it fish pie or other … I thought I really needed to address the goodness of ’dem bones!!

Star Gazey Pie see here

Most of the information in this post will have come from PaleoLeap … and really enlightened me … so please pop over and look at all the goodies found in ’dem (our) bones.

The classic statement … do not judge a book by its cover: is so appropriate to bones.  Locked away inside that hard shell is a wealth of essential nutrients …

You need more bones, onions, leeks ... for a good bone broth

  • Anti-inflammatory and gut-healing proteins
  • Healthy fats, and
  • A wealth of minerals just waiting to be used.

Wild animals always go for the bones … but we – after our evolutionary changes - need to utilise our clever human brain to devise ways to access the boney goodness.

from the Colon Club

My mother always used to have a stock pot on the go … bones and joints would go in and the resultant stock would be used for soups, sauces, gravies … waste not want not – was definitely a maxim when I was growing up.  

Where bones went to after that – not on the compost heap, and we had no dog … perhaps into the chicken run … just not sure!

That broth made from the bones continues to help strengthen our skeletal system … and heals us in times of fever …

T-bone steak .. with a
little marrow

The best roast … is the joint roasted on the bone ... all the goodness is sealed in … the resultant pan juices are an added luxury … while the bone will give that broth a rich dark glow of luxury.

We all know what Chicken Soup for the Soul can do … two years ago when I was malingering with a mighty virus and felt ‘frot’ … when I eventually got myself out to buy some fodder – the first thing I did was buy a whole chicken, some leeks, an onion, a couple of carrots, some potatoes … with the much needed goal of making Chicken Soup for the Soul …

… a one pot chicken wonder pot … and I did feel better!  Whole chicken, all the veg chopped and added, half fill with water and gently simmer til done … the meat will come away from the bones … but there’s that lovely jelly-like stock … all good for the body system: lots of servings with no extra work …

Our digestion is helped with bone broth …

Roasted Leg of Lamb with the marrow
from the leg bone showing

As the site says ... bone marrow is criminally delicious – I’d agree … it wasn’t around much when I was growing up – but came back into fashion ... and is really so tasty.  It’s also full of essential nutrients.

Minerals too are found in bones ... we all need calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorous, while fish bones also contain iodine.  All these mineral goodies are in the bones or, on cooking, are leached out into the stock … which is why it is so good … or the roasting pan dishes are just superb and make excellent gravy.

There are other benefits … the proteins are anti-inflammatory … helping with wound healing … the fats are good too – we need some fat … it melts down and we can use it for thickening sauces, gravies etc …

Using those bones can save us money, and they stretch a joint into a few meals … or as in this verse:

Vicarage Mutton:

Hot on Sunday
Cold on Monday
Hashed on Tuesday
Minced on Wednesday
Curried on Thursday
Broth on Friday
Cottage Pie on Saturday

Check out the Paleo Site … and any of those early cookery books where recommendations for invalid cookery always suggest chicken soup … and it certainly was what I craved when I was struck down two years ago with that very nasty bug …

Fresh vegetables and meat bones ready
to be made into stock

So those bones are essential to us – they keep us alive … while we can trace our early ancestors, as their bones reveal so much about their history …

This post I wrote nearly 5 years ago goes into the detail re the investigations made to establish the whys and wherefores of skeletons found in Stirling Castle … what they ate, where they came from, and their ‘job’ … from their muscle development …

Roasting bones with marrow

The questions asked in the comments were also very enlightening and I had to do some homework!  But add to the post … 

The Paleo site ... "Eat This: Bone Broth"

Bred in the bone ... a saying "what's bred in the bone will come out in the flesh".  A natural propensity cannot be repressed ... it's a part of our nature. 

Chicken casserole - giving soup
for the soul

Our bones make us ... yet we need the nutrients from those animals we’ve surpassed as our brain has become bigger … and we’ve moved from being hunter gatherers into the human beings we are today.

Do not contend with your bones …!!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories 

Monday, 5 January 2015

Our Year Ahead ... the Weather ...

Sara Coleridge, Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s daughter, grew up at Keswick in the Lake District with the Coleridges extended family and their close neighbours the Wordsworths at Grasmere, … was an English author and translator … who wrote the poem: “January Brings the Snow”.

 Flanders and Swann, who we were brought up listening to, parodied the poem … and I linkacross to YouTube – so you can hear them sing their “Song of the Weather” …

I’ve always thought this is such a good way to start the year …

February's Violet
April's Sweetpea

Freezing wet December, then 
Bloody January again!

January brings the snow,   
Makes your feet and fingers glow.

February's ice and sleet 
Freeze the toes tight off your feet.

Welcome March with wintry wind
Would thou wert not so unkind!

April brings the sweet spring showers, 
On and on for hours and hours.

Farmers fear unkindly May
Frost by night and hail by day.

June just rains and never stops
Thirty days and spoils the crops.

In July the sun is hot. 
Is it shining? No, it's not.

August, cold and dank and wet, 
Brings more rain than any yet.

Bleak September's mist and mud
Is enough to chill the blood.

Then October adds a gale, 
Wind and slush and rain and hail.

Dark November brings the fog
Should not do it to a dog.

Freezing wet December, then 

Bloody January again!

July Delphiniums
Sara Coleridge’s original is more gentle, more genteel … and was a children’s verse entitled “A Calendar” …

Works Project Administration
Poster - 'Back to Books'
It seems that recently her works have been collected and edited by Dr Peter Swaab of University College London, who has after 150 years of waiting given us an opportunity to appreciate her work …

January brings the snow;
Makes our feet and fingers glow.

February brings the rain;
Thaws the frozen pond again.

March brings the wind so cold and chill
Drives the cattle from the hill.

April brings us sun and showers,
And the pretty wildwood flowers.

May brings grass and leafy trees,
Waving in each gentle breeze

June brings roses, fresh and fair,
And the cherries ripe and rare.

July brings the greatest heat,
Cloudless skies and dusty street.

August brings the golden grain:
Harvest time is here again.

Mild September brings us more,
Fruit and grain for winter store.

Brown October brings the last
Of ripening gifts, from summer past.

Dull November brings the blast:
Down from the trees the leaves fall fast.

Cold December ends the rhyme
With blazing fires and Christmas time.

I particularly like the last verse … Cold December was, I hope, for you all a time of blazing fires and Christmas time … warmth emanating from the family hearth.

Pearl for June:
Pearl Tiara of Empress Eugenie (1853)
featuring 212 natural pearls - in the Louvre
I don’t wish the year away anyway remotely … but away with grey skies and onto April sun and showers, driving open the wildwood flowers will be wonderful … once we’ve marched past February and March …

Let’s head into those months full of hope and expectation for a good year …

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Happy New Year and Year End Thoughts …

As 2014 ticks away and we are gathered up into the embrace of 2015 … so often we are thinking of our goals, our ambitions for the year ahead …
Happy New Year to 2015

… this year I’ve been struck by messages from the Queen, the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa’s new book …

We agreed the Queen’s Christmas Day speech was a good one – yes it reflected British things, but importantly as head of the Commonwealth she reached out beyond our shores to her people, and then there was the wider audience of those who respect Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, as one of the great leaders of this era in history.

The United Nations encompassing logo

The Queen touched on Reconciliation, Truces, Sport as a way to bring peoples of different nations together … the form of Reconciliation was thought about … Ireland, Scotland, war zones, Ebola …

Then she mentioned “Christ’s example has taught me to seek respect and value of all people of whatever faith or none

The rainbow peoples of this world
… with finally to the haunting sounds of “Silent Night” a reminder to us all that even in the unlikeliest of places hope can still be found as in World War One when the Christmas Day football game in the trenches in 1914 took place, when the War was meant to be over.

The Pope has not been frightened to take the bull by the horns (I wonder if that’s where the term ‘Papal Bull’ comes from? – I doubt it!!) … and to quote from Kathleen Kelley Reardon’s Big Think article “What ManagersCan Learn From Pope Francis’ Christmas Missive”:

It takes courage to stand up to powerful others who can make our life miserable.  That does not appear to be Pope Francis’ concern.  He knows the mission of his church and has every intention of saving it from the hands of those who have lost sight of why they’re there.

The Archbishop of Canterbury was recently out in Sierra Leone supporting the Ebola health workers … disease does not have any truce, nor does persecution of Christians …

We can do more, when we are healthy

This down-to-earth man, our Archbishop, who was a business man, knows about leadership and reaching out to one and all … to lead by example the peoples of this world, who are or who will be inspired by his faith …

… sadly he has pneumonia and was unable to give his Christmas Day sermon – a lesson to us all that our health and balance of all things needs to be remembered too – in the daily fulfilment of our duties and life.

I just liked these phrases/ ideas / steps ... 

I will hold notes on Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s new book until our Ubuntu post in February, which I am led to believe Michelle Wallace, Writerin Transit, will once again instigate next year.

Taking time out to reflect, to think, to read in different areas will enlighten us the more as 2015 starts its journey … may you all have joyful, successful and blessed 2015s …

The Archbishop's Christmas Day Sermon

Happy New Year to you all - may we have healthy lives, an easier time ... give more, need less ... see you in 2015!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 19 December 2014

The DejaVu BlogFest - Ubuntu, Survive and Thrive with the Big C, FoodBanks and the loss of the A-Z Swedish lady maestro …

Such a difficult decision … I cannot chose – I would probably go for one of my A-Z articles on the British coast … but instead I will  link across to some posts which impacted on me …
D L Hammons BlogFest

Michelle Wallace’s Ubuntu bloghop … “I am; because of you” or “I am what I am because of who we all are” – this latter phrase I prefer.  Michelle will be doing this again in 2015.

Londolozi – a Zulu word meaning “Protector of All Living Things” … after which a Game Reserve in South Africa has been named.

Boyd Varty’s TED talk – one of Londolozi’s owners …

c/o Londolozi

Survive and Thrive Blogfest articles where I linked back to my (and thus our) Cancer posts – and I listed all the conditions bloggers had written about …

Remember the food banks …

Then lastly … Tina, the Sunflower Lady – whose light went out on 23rd August … she was a master administrator for many of us who participate in the annual A-Z challenge in April

As Tina would say ... Life is Good … live life, be generous and thoughtful, encourage everyone, be flexible and help where you can …

c/o Barnados - card designed by
Harry, aged 8, who is supported by
Barnado's Actions with Young Carers

If you haven’t visited one of four blog posts then please check in … thank you …

Happy Christmas, Happy New Year, lots of happiness and joy in 2015 – and here’s to success with your writing, your projects, your art, poetry ... and all creative ideas …

For other participants please visit D L Hammons blog

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories