Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quick farewell.

Off to Amsterdam tomorrow. No time to blog. So here are three of my best pix from June, just to give you something to look at while I'm away.

Summer strawberries up the allotment. Plus girl. (She likes strawberries...)

Woolfest. Dazzling as usual!

And the Boys. Are they not adorable? Look at that cuddle! I'm thinking of putting this one on Lolcats. Any suggestions for a caption?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Good times and bad times - Pt1.

I've been a bad blogger recently. I have been doing endless amounts if blogworthy things, but do I post about them? Nope...basically I've been too busy doing to have much time or energy left to blog. Oh well...

However, there have been a few things lately which are compulsory blog fodder. Woolfest, the allotment, recent meetups, recent acquisitions and yup, some bad times. So let's do that one first.

I turned 50 last year so am now old enough to be called in for routine screening mammograms under the national breast screening programm. Everyone seems to have a horror story about these so I was not looking forwards AT ALL to this when I got an appointment for three weeks ago, because I've got big boobs and couldn't quite imagine how the squashing bit was going to take place without much pain. Well, it was fine. FINE. It did not hurt. Bit weird, but no pain.

The pain arrived two weeks later when I got a recall letter. They don't tell you why in a letter, obviously, apart from that you have something that needs double checked and that 7 out of 8 women don't need anything more than a second check. Which leaves the other 1 out of 8, obviously. My appointment was six days from the receipt of the letter and yes, I was worried.

Anyway I was there at 9am on Monday and yes, the mammogram showed I had a lump in my right boob. Tiny lump the size of a pea that even the doctor couldn't find manually but it was there. More mammograms, and an ultrasound. Then yet more mammograms because Pea was sneaky and kept wriggling off screen. A lot of waiting around....

Finally the verdict. The doctors are 99% sure it's a benign calcification. Nice word that, benign! However they decided to do a needle punch biopsy to confirm the diagnosis 100%, which was fine by me too. In half an hour or in two days? I went for the half-hour option.

I'm not saying this hurt either. Lets just say that being clamped into the mammogram scanner and told to stay Absolutely Still for nearly thirty minutes is the kind of experience that I don't want to repeat in a hurry. At the time, it was fine, if boring. But two days on I still feel stiff and achy and I have a really sore neck, ouch. I want to say again though for the benefit of anyone going for this DID NOT hurt. The bit that did hurt was when they rotated part of the machine and my thumb got caught in it, but that was my own stupid fault, lol.

Anyway, the doctors are happy to let me go off to Amsterdam next Monday for three wweks. They're happy to give me the biopsy results over the phone. They used the expression "confirm the benign diagnosis". They said "99% sure". I know the way oncologists tell you things and the words they use to qualify themselves every second sentence. I'm happy..well, 99% happy!

Normal service will resume tomorrow, or even perhaps tonight if I get the photos crunched down to blogging size. I never did show you the things I got from Woolfest, did I?

Oh, and go for your mammograms when it's your turn, ladies. It's less bother than a smear by a long way, and given that breast cancer is a lot more common than cervical cancer well, it would be daft not to go, surely?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Automatic watering and a felted cat.

It's hot here. To have temperatures of over 25'C in Scotland is pretty rare, I can tell you. Usually we're still wearing cardies in July. So it's a bit of a shock all round, especially to the veg patch. For the last few years we've practically been cutting drainage trenches round the veg beds in an effort to keep them from flooding.

This year however it's been very dry the last couple of months and the allotment is turning into a dustbowl. I've never seen it so dry, not at the start of July anyway. I don't normally water crops...I prefer to keep them sturdy and self sufficient. But this year it's different.

Anyway, after yet another hour with the hose last week I took a thought and went hunting in the shed. Eight years back one of our local DIY warehouses shut down and sold off a lot of their gardening stock f0r really silly prices, like the water butt I have for £1. I bought a lot of stuff, including eight rolls of "leaky" ie drip irrigation hosepipe, reduced from £18 per 15m roll to 10p, mostly because each roll had a load of useful hose fittings which are expensive. Me being me though I'd shoved it all in the shed and forgotten about it.

So now I have 120m of leaky hosepipe set up over my favoured beds on the allotment, linked together by short runs of scrap piping. It sounds a lot but really this only covers five beds so I've only put it on beds with thirsty plants. When I visit the allotment I connect up the hose end to the tap and hey presto, the beds water themselves. Cool, eh? I just wish I could put it on an automatic timer but that's not allowed. But it's a fun system. I have plans to extend it further next year and maybe link it to the water butts, but then again, it will probably rain solidly for the next five summers....

On a lighter note, Paws is really suffering in this heat under his huge bear coat. He lies in front of the fans and looks pained. Ollie, with his lightweight coat, is fine, but Paws has started to felt. He has really fine fur round his britches, it's obviously an area that gets a bit of friction and he's sweaty. Thus, he's felting. I do comb him most days but he's never been keen on getting his nethers combed (would you???) and now he's matting up. I'm keeping the felted bits at bay by a combination of clipping them out and combing the bits he'll let me comb, but still. A felted cat, lol. How appropriate!