2014 Rewound.... and Fast Forward 2015 - Happy New Year!

It's one of my favourite times of the year - New Year's Eve. I know plenty of people who don't like it, in fact I usually ring it in alone. But I like it and I honour it every year, in my own positive way .... and am not afraid to open my hall door at midnight, glass of wine in hand - obviously,  and shout out a  'Happy New Year' to all and sundry - or to an empty street - before scuttling quickly back inside!

I actually find it exciting, to say goodbye to the year that's been, no matter how good or bad it was, and to welcome with open arms the new start that a New Year brings. It's refreshing I find .....

As I've explained before I don't do 'New Year's Resolutions', preferring to set myself goals instead. I've just re-read my New Year's post 2014, and my subsequent mentioned written list of goals and aspirations. I'd like to say that I did my list proud but I didn't really. Although in fairness a certain injury had a major effect and a whole five months of the year was wiped out as far as exercise and weight-control was concerned. I did okay on some of my goals though, in particular knitting and crochet which got a boost from said injury, and find that writing them down is very motivating and cathartic - and makes for a very humourous read-back twelve months later! And so, I will do the same for 2015 and I have similar goals in mind, but I will have to find new ways of achieving some of them!

As far as this blog is concerned I've had my ups and downs, and my very silent moments, when I could find nothing, neither in life nor in my head, to write about. Yet again a certain injury gave me an unexpected boost and material, enabling me to bore you all for months about my trials and tribulations!! I have yet to write that extended HSE/ A & E disaster post, although I did write this one, under the influence of severe pain and medications. Nothing has changed with A & E trips or MRI scan waits in this country, in fact it got worse as the year went on....

So, what did I find to write about in 2014 then? At this point feel free to skip on if you wish, this is more of a cathartic look-back and motivator going forward for myself, if I'm to continue blogging!

Well, the closing of the Irish Thomas Cook offices gave me the opportunity to share my trip to Bermuda in 1980 with you. I also took another nostalgic look-back at Parenting- Through the Swimming Years  and I wrote about Teenage Adventures and Coming of Age.  All the years we spend nurturing our water-winged toddlers/young children and how they suddenly grow up on us....

In February we sadly said goodbye to our gorgeous budgie Sunny, we still think of and talk about him. The plan was to get another one in the summer but, that pesky injury got in the way of our plans yet  again!

I told you all about our amazing Florida Holiday  -  so nice to have this all recorded in one place.

I tried to be funny when sharing some 'interesting' moments, like getting Lost in The Woods and about a certain 'treatment' I received !

Oh, and for an apparently 'silent blogger' I was quite gobby at times during 2014!

I told you all about the dangers of Pilates Classes - Top Tip: go to a class run by a Pilates-specific (or better still a Physiotherapist-Pilates trained) instructors.

I gobbed about the fate of Stay-at-Home-Parents and how little they're thought of at times, especially by successive Governments,  in The Perfect Family and In The Forgotten Worker. I firmly believe in every word I wrote....

I ranted about Water Charges and how I can see people cutting back on water usage to the extent that our whole nation becomes a Dirty Old Town. And on how much I believe peaceful protests to be the more appropriate way to go.

I fumed about the unfairness of circular 0030/2014 and it's effect on Inclusion of our Special Needs Children  and about Mental Health Awareness. The latter being very pertinent with regard to the recent Cork tragedy. It's not good enough to send patients home from hospital when they're well enough to be cared for by community care, when that care is not sufficiently available... for both the patient AND the family.This is sadly not the first tragedy of it's kind and this article from a mum, with whom I totally agree, is worth reading. We must give more to Mental Health Services in this country and help prevent such awful tragedies. Now there's a worthwhile goal for 2015.

And finally I raged about residential abuse in Care Home Concerns., another issue that can be a goal for 2015 : give the vulnerable a voice and ensure that it's heard.

Gosh, all this rewinding is making me all gobby again isn't it?! I'd best stop now.

And look forward to 2015 with positivity and determination. But I need some motivation too, something to aim my recovery at. To get dancing again.....

And look what I found. Hip Op eration - a dance crew from New Zealand aged from 67 to 95! They've even traveled to the Hip Hop championships in Las Vegas!

So I'll leave you with this video, feeling that there's plenty of hope for me yet!

You know where my dance brain is going with this, don't you?!

Thanks for joining me on my ramblings this year. May you find your positivity, determination and motivation for 2015, wherever you can, and may the brand New Year be all you want it to be.

Happy New Year!

Take care,

Christmas 'Reasons to be Cheerful' #R2BC ......

I've always loved Christmas and am lucky to have such a lovely store of Christmas memories, from childhood on. Not that the presents were huge when we were children - they really weren't - or that we had lots of money - we really didn't. We always appreciated what we got though, and the time we spent visiting all our relatives on Christmas morning. Getting to meet all my cousins at both Grandparent's houses was always such a special highlight.

Fast forward a hundred a few years or so and while the traditions may have changed, we are now creating memories for our own children. I have lovely memories of Christmases tinged with Santa magic for my son, but now that he's fifteen I do wonder how special his festive memory bank is? And I wonder if he'll remember this Christmas as being especially nice? Given that it was a bit of a Gypsy Christmas, insofar as the visiting we did and the lovely Christmas dinners - yes, plural - we had quite literally, handed to us on a plate!

Midnight Mass

For me, the festive feelings kicked off as usual with the great Irish tradition of 'Midnight Mass' on Christmas Eve.... at 8 pm! Although I was very uncomfortable sitting in the hard wooden pews this year it was still the usual, special part of our Christmas festivities. The packed church, nice singing and the usual sense of community was just right for the special, religious night, that it was. And all finished off nicely with the new tradition of a quick Christmas drink with friends.

The 'Private Visit'.

Christmas Day dawned gloriously, both weather and family wise, starting with a small family visit to my mother in her 'care home'. She was so nicely dressed in her new Christmas clothes that I had laid out for her. She and her fellow residents were also very well attended by smiling and polite staff who, having left their own families at home, faced a long shift that day. We were grateful to them, and to the fact that my mam was in such great form and enjoyed her Christmas dinner with such relish. She is quite the miracle. This was yet another Christmas we weren't supposed to have and, whatever is to come, I will have the lovely memories of this special visit for always.

Peace and Calm

Some Christmas Day winter sun made for such lovely views to instill some inner peace and calm on our travels that day....

Family Time

The family time continued with time spent with other close family members. Sumptuous and plentiful food was accompanied by both flowing wine and conversation and such lovely company. It really was the most enjoyable and relaxing way to spend both Christmas and St Stephen's Day.

Home Sweet Home

No matter how enjoyable the Christmas was - and it really was - there is nothing like finally coming home sweet home. To enjoy another lovely quick stroll and flop around in sweats to enjoy more food and some festive TV viewing.

And yes, there were some lovely presents, even if  the 'Santa' online order did go horribly wrong and has yet to arrive, but there's more to Christmas than all that.

I hope the teen festive memory bank is awash this year and that his patience is rewarded.

And wherever you are I do hope you had a lovely Jazzy Christmas too!

Note: I doubt there's an #RTBC blog hop this week, and if there is I can't find it! I'm going ahead with this anyway as I do feel cheerful..... and very grateful. 

UPDATE: I was so cheered by and grateful for my Christmas this year that I've been quite cheeky and tagged this post onto the New Year's #R2BC Linky over at Ojo's World!

I've already written my New Year's post and wish you all a positive 2015 with many, many reasons to be cheerful....

Take care,

Dear Son.....

I know you like History so I thought you might like to know some of the prominent world events on this day fifteen years ago: December 22nd 1999.

  • The world feared the forthcoming brand-new Millennium, terrified of the damage it would do to computers globally, branding it: Y2K. Something I know you find hopelessly hilarious today.

Oh yes, there was most definitely a shining light in that 24 hour period.

However, neither you nor I were really taking notice of these world events on this day back then.

We were most definitely otherwise engaged.

I had spent two days walking around hospital corridors and up and down any stairwell I could find, in a desperate attempt to get you to introduce yourself to the world. Well, at the very least to get you to introduce yourself to us, your parents!

But you had other ideas. A sign of things to come perhaps?! You were very comfortable where you were, thank you very much, but I however was not! You were getting bigger and bigger and leaning on things you really shouldn't. It was time to move out, Buster! Actually, I believed you were holding on for another nine days just to be a aluminium Millennium Baby, but I wanted to finally see your little face.... NOW!

And finally, after much ado and serious prodding and monitoring - I swear, there was more going into me than coming out that day! -the light shone that bit brighter in the world, as you came into it.

You were gorgeous. Perfect. With your little rosebud mouth in a perfect 'O', as you gazed all around you when you were finally placed into my arms. A neighbour was later to use the word 'exquisite' to describe you. He was absolutely right too and I should know, being your completely unbiased mother and all.

Now I'm sure that somewhere in this country there is an air and gas machine that was rendered completely useless, and an anesthesiologist who still has the indelible marks of my hands on his wrist from that day. Although I do recall him telling me that his were the last hands I should grab . Good advice really, given that he was mid-epidural-injecting at the time.

But none of that mattered now that you'd finally arrived, a whole ten days late and a few ounces heavier.

You've brightened our lives, given substance to our world and made us very, very proud since that day fifteen years ago. Now, if you'd just clean your room and 'get off that screen' without being incessantly nagged, all would be absolutely perfect! But you're a teenager and your resistance is to be expected :-) 

We've been on an incredible and inspiring journey with you in the last fifteen years son. we've watched you grow into the lovely, handsome young man that you are becoming.

I sense that you are now entering another, more maturing, chapter in your life and we very much look forward to travelling this road with you too.

It promises to be very exciting. Especially if your 'Santa List' and your plans with it come to fruition. This could actually be quite a defining Birthday and Christmas present this year and I really hope that it is.....

You are fifteen years old today, Dear Son, which makes  me fifteen years older. But we won't dwell on that, oh no, not for a tiny minute.

Instead I will simply wish you the happiest 15th Birthday and the Merriest Christmas ever.

May you have a lovely day and may all your dreams and wishes for the future come to pass.

Lots of Love Always,

Mum and Dad


Just a Simple Little Stroll.....

It's amazing the things that one can take for granted.

Like donning coat and trainers before leaving the house, simply to close the door on the stresses and strains of your busy day and take a simple little stroll.....

It's been quite a while since I've been able to that you see. I guess you never miss something until you find it's been taken away from you. And although I have been doing a lot more walking recently, albeit still with my crutch, it's been more of the functional kind of walking. You know, around supermarkets and massive malls for grocery and festive present buying.

I have actually enjoyed the present buying this year - being able to do something you thought you wouldn't can change your perspective somewhat - but I've really missed just going for a simple little stroll.

So today for the first time since last July, I donned coat and trainers, closed the door on the festive stresses and strains - and more importantly on my crutch - and set off on my maiden, unsupported simple little stroll. Down to my beloved beach...

It was a glorious December day today, a mere five days before Christmas and I took my time. Time to smell the sea air and to take in all the glorious, timeless scenery that surrounded me. Views that I will never, ever tire of....

I stopped to admire and gather some Holly to make an oasis centre-piece, and noted that there were no berries at all on the Holly, in this mild winter month...

It was a relaxing little stroll, allowing time to stop and chat with neighbours I had not seen in quite a while. And I finally got to meet one of the regular dog walkers I'd encountered on my pre-injury walking days. and his new Golden Labrador. I really wanted to meet his new dog as his older Golden Labrador had died a few months back.

The slices of life and it's people that you miss out on, when you lose your simple little strolls.....

And finally I took the time to stop a while to soak up the jewel at the end of winter-sun-dappled country lane, and to feel the tepid warmth of the sun  on my upturned face.......

And I made a promise to myself.

To make the time to take this simple little stroll every day over the Christmas holidays.

To rebuild muscle and stamina..... and healthy head space.

Now that I can :-)

Take care, 

Care Home Concerns

It's being going on for years now, yet it still fills me with dread every time I see a report about a care home that has mistreated it's residents. 

The latest report is about the mistreatment of people with Intellectual Disabilities in a care home in Co Mayo, which was televised on RTE Prime Time on Tuesday night. By all accounts it made for some pretty horrific viewing.

I haven't watched it yet myself and have now decided that I won't . 

As the daughter of a parent who is a longtime resident of a care home it would be far too upsetting. And I can only imagine how the parent of a child with disabilities, who may ultimately need the facilities of a care home, must feel on watching these reports.

How many of these programmes do we have to watch before something is done?

I for one was glad when HIQA was set up in order to keep controls and to unearth unacceptable behaviours in our private and state run care homes. It is comforting to know that someone is calling unexpectedly - and sometimes by appointment - into these facilities to check them out. It is comforting to know that you are not your loved one's only advocate. I have studied recent reports on the care home we use and found them to be quite comprehensive, I actually feel that HIQA should have been harder on them over one particular and very serious issue. However, HIQA has been instrumental in instigating some helpful social activity changes and resident questionnaires, but it has also enforced what could be considered an administrative nightmare. One that has brought about an additional daily 'administrative charge' being passed on to residents in our case. HIQA has spent time analysing this cost, and the term used to apply it, and finds it unacceptable. They insist on it being changed and it would appear that an awful lot of paperwork has gone into ensuring that this happens.

Meanwhile there's a care home in Co Mayo where residents are being regularly and horrifically abused. What analysis was done in this home?

The decision to send your loved one - be they young, old, disabled or elderly - into a care home is one of the toughest decisions you'll ever have to make. It's one that, after nine long years, still doesn't sit easy with me. The fact is however, that it's not always possible for a family member to give 24/7 intensive care to one loved one while looking after everyone else in the family; and whilst also giving young children, who may have special needs of their own, their optimum chance in life.

Once you make the decision you then hope that they are always in good hands - especially when you can't visit. You make unexpected visits of your own, at differing times, and even stand outside their room if carers are in with them - secretly listening for any possible issues. You also listen to your loved ones concerns and complaints and investigate those that you can, while trying not to fling unsubstantiated accusations about. While it is very difficult if your loved one cannot verbally express themselves it is also difficult to deal with those who can. Mental Impairment can make distinguishing between fact and perception extremely difficult. 

The care home we use is very good, but it's not perfect. I've seen such loving care and gentle, yet quite firm, responses being administered in many different situations here over the years. I've even seen things I've not been happy with and was easily able to bring them to discussion. I've seen wonderful changes, particularly in the area of social activities, brought about by HIQA visits. I've also seen my own parent brought through diagnosed end-of-life stages, at least three times in as many years. It was excellent nursing care that made this happen, against the odds. And an indomitable fighting spirit and the incredible will to live of the patient herself, we must not forget that!  

However, no-one knows what happens behind closed doors when there no visitors, be they from HIQA or personal, around.

So, what can we do? 

There have been calls for imprisonment of the abusers. I do agree that these abusers must face investigations and be ultimately held accountable for their actions, but they must also face due process. This point is very well, and generously, made by a family member of one of the Aras Attracta residents .

However bringing the abusers to account is not going to completely solve this.

Closing down care homes because of abuse doesn't stop it from happening elsewhere either.  Although re-opened after some time, Leas Cross was closed down in 2005 and yet we're still hearing of  residential abuse today.

Personally speaking I think that maybe more consideration should also be given to the following:

Hiring: Qualifications, References and Training: It would seem that we need to pay more attention to these areas in our Private and State run facilities. We need to consider this very strongly for all nurses/carers in our system, no matter their nationality. Although the abusers in the Aras Attracta case were all Irish I would question if foreign qualifications are equal to our national ones? And indeed are our national ones sufficient? The same must apply to the hiring of management to run state facilities. Staff training for all should be regularly updated.

Owners and Management: Owners in private run facilities need to take a hands-on approach to running their own care homes. They must see their care home for the 'caring home-from-home' that it should be, and  not the tax relief investment they might prefer. The difference in the provisions of my mother's care home was very noticeable when the owners got fully on board. Police it yourself, don't wait for HIQA. Bring on board family members. Do night shifts. Unannounced.

The HSE must be very particular about whom they hire to run our state facilities. These managers should also do night shifts. Unannounced.

Staffing Levels: There should be no excuses or allowances made in any care home, private or state owned, for not employing the relevant, best practice, carer and nurse:resident ratio. Whatever the cost.

Camera Surveillance: There have been some suggestions of this online. We need to deal with any privacy issues and give this serious consideration,

HIQA: Personally speaking I'm impressed with the reports that I have read and the changes they have instigated; and I feel very re-assured that they continue to inspect. Any 'Administrative Nightmares' notwithstanding. However, perhaps we need to review how successful, or not, this authority has been in unearthing and tackling residential abuse; and in ensuring the delivery of 'Safer Better Care'? And then we need to make any necessary changes. Now.

Advocacy for Residents: All vulnerable residents in our care homes need to be given a voice and their voices need to be heard. Whatever the nature of their disability, or reason for needing such levels of care, their dignity and humanity must be preserved and respected.  Family members can only do so much. HIQA seem to attach a lot of importance to this area of care and inspect individual plans and their implementations with regard to resident's personal requirements and challenging behaviours, but clearly more needs to be done by some care homes themselves.

And finally we need to keep these stories in the limelight. 

Keep it fresh so that something is done and so that more assurances can be given to those who need these facilities - and to those who love them.



Since posting this last night I learned of a new care home abuse story in Stamullen, Co Meath .
I have also read this article contending that HIQA was 'deliberately misled by care homes'. This makes sense to me. As I've said above we need to know why they didn't unearth this abuse.... and then make any necessary changes.

Take care,

Crafty Jazzy......

Well, with banned walks, exercise classes and some housework duties too, I had to find something to occupy my time while in recovery. I don't 'do' sitting doing nothing, especially when watching TV, and it would be so easy to just let the Social media world take over.

I wracked my brains and eventually decided that as I was knitting and crocheting a lot I may as well put that past-time to good use. So, I decided to put some items together for my son's school Christmas Fair.

It was quite the learning curve I can tell you and it it didn't quite work out as planned. In fairness I've never done anything like this before.

I tried to pre-judge the demographics you see, which is no easy feat, and to knit/crochet a variety of quick-to-make items to suit everyone. Such as.....

Fancy Scarves for the Mums, Aunties, Grannys etc, made with 1 ball of Tivoli Weave wool per scarf. The pattern is on the back of some wraps, and is available here, but basically using 6mm needles (UK) you just cast on 3 stitches and knit every row (ensure to go under both threads at top of wool) until you run out!

And then, for variety I knitted some Ravelry Drop Stitch Cowls/Neck Warmers; for teenagers, mums etc. Followed by some Coffee Cosys, pattern courtesy of Sarahbevan11designs , for those on-the-go-thermal cup carriers!

I also attempted some newborn baby hats, pattern by LisaAuch, and some mittens from this YouTube video. I did intend doing more beanie hats for a variety of ages but ran out of time.
I did however find time to make two ladies hats from a pattern in one of my many Art of Crochet magazines. I really enjoyed making these!

However the items I enjoyed making most of all were these Pretty Snowflakes by Julie A. Bolduc I crocheted the day before the fair. My very first attempt! Unfortunately the starch hadn't dried in time so they never made it to the fair. They may make it on to my Christmas Tree though.... or in some Christmas presents!

In fact there's quite a few items that may make it into some Christmas presents!

I think I may have mis-priced my items and mis-judged the crowd, you see.  It seems that everyone wants a bargain, they want something for nothing! But they also want something different.

I learned a lot from the experience though and I really enjoyed it too.

I'll definitely be back next year and I will have more time to get some ideas together. And to buy wool in the sales. It can be very costly all this knitting and crocheting you know!

And now it's on to my next project.

It's a fairly big one and I only have three weeks to do it in!

Stay tuned......


The Woman of the House ........

I've never quite seen myself as any of the stereotypical monikers like 'her indoors' or 'the woman of the house'.

Nor do I see myself as the 'housewife' or the 'home carer' - although the latter does kind of come close; and I'm happy to allow that particular moniker to apply if it means a lowly Tax Credit from our self-monikered 'family friendly' Government. Harumph.....

Although the 'stay-at-home-mum' is my moniker of choice, I'm not quite sure that I completely see myself as that either.

I'd like to think that these monikers do not define me you see, they are only components of the complete me. All except the first two, of course, I was never either of them!

Actually I've not had cause to pay any real attention to any of the above until this week...

This week being the one filled with dusty air and dust-sheeted stairs and with wiring, piping and noisy kango-hammering being the order of the day. For days. However you can't make an omelette without cracking some eggs, so I'm happy to let the continuing parade of hard-working tradesmen through my house to, well, crack on.

And crack on they did, in more ways than one! It was interesting the many different personalities, all tinged with good old fashioned - and tamed down - tradesmen humour!

There's always one that has an old fashioned view of women in the home though, isn't there? Well, one that should know better than to show it, that is!

Now I'm not thoughtlessly putting this nice and very polite man into this particular stereotypical slot. Oh no. He was quite capable of doing that all by himself. The first sign was me arriving home to the steamy sounds ... of a kettle on the boil (steady people, steady) and the strains of 'oh here's the woman of the house' floating at me down my very own staircase! With accompanying hints of 'I like mine with a little milk and two sugars please' - now remember this was the cup of coffee he was quite willing to make all by himself when I wasn't there! The big tell of course was his proud admission, within mere minutes of the above, that he 'comes home from the pub to his dinner on the table'.

Oh dear. I've lived with one of these men for many years, from birth actually, and thought - well hoped really - that they (the type, not the person) had disappeared from our evolutionary gene pool. Forever.

Clearly not!

While I was confident that I had his stereotypical slot completely on target, I wondered how he thought he had done with the one he had mapped out for me?

I mean, there was no apron permanently wrapped around my middle, there was no ribbon in my hair and no constant homely smells of lovely home-baking to float through the very dusty particles. Any time he popped his head into where I was, when I was at home that is, I was to be found ensconced on the sofa either reading my kindle or on my laptop, and with the TV on in the background. On one occasion - almost, but not quite, to my shame - I was even found asleep on the sofa! Actually, passed out through exhaustion after crawling, foetal style, into the corner of the sofa was a more apt description, if it would make any difference to Mr Neanderthal! Joking.... he's really a very nice man!

See, looks can be deceiving, He wasn't to know all the things I had done this week, things that wouldn't normally floor me yet did. Yes, a new hair-do was one of them but I've waited a very long time to be able to sit long enough to get one! There were physio trips too and parent visitations and school meetings and pick-ups to attend to also.

And I can only imagine the shock on his face when my husband, straight home from his working day, was dispatched by 'the woman of the house' to ask if he'd like more coffee.... and then deliver it him! All because I just couldn't bear to make another trip up those dust-sheeted stairs.....

He must have thought me the laziest woman alive.

And I must confess to a little 'stay-at-home-mum' guilt.

But everyone got fed and no-one has run out of washed and ironed clothes. Yet.....

And all will return to normal when I am fully recovered.

Or a lot sooner.

All that dust........!!


On Peaceful Protests and Having Respect.....

It was quite disconcerting answering the door just before lunchtime on a midweek day. I thought I had figured it out you see. The optimum time to play 'Avoid The Cold Caller' and not answer the door under any circumstances, is just about dinner time. Preferably just when you're about to lift up the dinner, or just when the cheese on that pizza is almost bubbling away to perfection. That's when you hear the dulcet tones of your ringing door-bell. It's not usually at lunchtime, unless it's a Saturday.

Saturday is usually 'Jehovah's Witness' day, so therefore I was so surprised to open the door at lunchtime this Tuesday  to see two women holding Bibles. With one lady standing on the step, almost in my face, and both waving leaflets they were quite intent on ensuring I take. I declined. Politely.

But like the sucker I usually am when I don't follow my own 'Avoid The Cold Caller' rules, I had to listen to them for a while - it's a fact that cold callers are cold to any attempts you make to get them to understand that (a) you don't have the time, (b) the dinner is burning or (c) the cat is about to eat the goldfish. They insist on having their say anyway. It is very annoying.

However the ladies today raised a couple of questions I'd been wondering about recently. The main ones being: What is wrong with our world? and: Can we make it better?

Now I'm sure they were making a more global reference which perhaps pertained more to Syria, Iraq and the Israel/Palestinian conflict etc.

Although these issues do of course concern me my recent thoughts were more closer to home.

In particular: What is happening to our little corner of the world?

While I am absolutely delighted that finally, after years of recession and austerity measures being continually flung at us by our 'partners' in Europe (The Troika) - all of whom dress exceedingly well and look like they've no worry about where their next meal is coming from, Ireland's citizens have finally found one issue to stand up and be counted on. That issue being 'Water Charges'. Now, if you're reading this from another country and are thinking 'but we pay water charges, why doesn't Ireland?' please know that these Water Charges are the proverbial straw that broke the backs of the Irish people. This protest is about far more than Water Charges. Did you know that Ireland has paid 42% of the total cost of the European bank crisis?  That's despite the fact that we only make up about 0.09% of the EU population and our economy only makes up 1.2% of EU GDP.

Sure no wonder we're angry.

No wonder we're - finally - protesting.

However, based on accounts of some recent protests I do wish we could take the bitter anger out of our protestations and think long and hard about how best to get our point across.

I thought that the original and recent street protest marches were outstanding and peaceful.

It's the 'pop-up' ones that I abhor. The one at Coolock which subsequently moved to Coolock Garda Station and sounded terrifying.

Then there's the more recent ones in Santry, Sligo and Tallaght where protesters have taken to surrounding Government Minister's cars. While I appreciate that this is a prime opportunity for protesters to make their very valid points I do not think it appropriate to surround a Minister's car for two-and-a-half hours.

I don't think it appropriate to hold anyone, be they Irish Water Meter Installers or Government Ministers, hostage in their cars or vans for hours with no access to food, water or toilets. What if someone became ill, had a panic attack or was hit by a flying missile?

And while I thought the surrounding of the Garda Station (these are Government employees with families at home) was appalling I also think that the reported incidents, if true, of how our Gardaí are dealing with the protesters are completely unacceptable.

Seriously, did that beefy Garda really have to lift up this small young woman only to discard her by flinging her aside , like a finished coffee cup, to the side of the road; where she could be clearly heard banging her head off a metal bollard? Could he not have just put her on the foot-path?

I do not agree with a lot that comes out of our 'great leader' Enda Kenny's mouth but I do agree with his assertion that there is a 'sinister element' to these protests. I had said something similar myself earlier on. In my experience there is usually a cohort of people who will join your Dáil protest, shouting slogans in 'support'. But they have their own agenda and can seem quite intimidating. And of course then there are the people who are just gagging for a fight....any fight.

The result of these out-of -hand protests is that beefed up security measures will now be in place..... with the taxpayer footing the bill. And while the Gardai are busy minding our Government Ministers and the Irish Water Meter Installers who is going to mind the public?

It seems to me that we, the public, need to re-iterate the need for peaceful protests and disassociate ourselves from the 'sinister elements'. And our Gardaí seriously need to review how they treat members of the public who are protesting.

Maybe my bible thumping callers were right and the answers to 'What is wrong in the world and how to fix it' is in the bible.

Or maybe the answers lie within ourselves and how we treat and have respect for one another.



Recovery from a back injury can be such a painfully (pun intended) long drawn out affair. It is all about taking things easy for such an interminably long period of time - especially when one is more used to running one's daily life at breakneck speed.

Recovery is then clearly for patient people - or patient patients if you like - and definitely not for impatient ones. Like me!

Recovery is about rejoicing and embracing all the little, minute improvements that you may experience on any given day ..... Ooh look, I can now walk up the stairs with no crutch!

Recovery is also about pacing yourself.... Just because you got can now walk up the stairs - ahem - crutch-less doesn't mean that you can suddenly go for a 30 minute walk! Be patient Jazzy.... be patient.

Recovery means that when when you feel a little better you can allow yourself  to do something you enjoyed doing in your pre-injury days. Like a simple and short trip to a popular local General Store, all by yourself. The General Store where, you know, where they sell stuff other than groceries.... like clothes for example! And recovering from a back injury means that you are limited in what you can wear so you might need new clothes. To make you more comfortable like, and to cheer yourself up!

Recovery means that although you may now be able to get to the shops all by yourself, for small groceries .... or clothes .... or even pretty little ballerina Christmas decorations!.... you also have to give a lot more thought to getting the items you desire from shelves, or rails, to checkout.... and then back to your car!

Recovery most definitely means totally re-defining the meaning of the word 'heavy' - even the tiniest item can cause overload and strain on your back. 

Recovery means being careful to avoid basket-carrying and trolley-pushing busy shoppers, and shop workers too, all of whom are far too busy to notice the careful shopper with her small basket and crutch! (It's actually quite scary - I may even have to develop a 'look' to give them!) I do appreciate the apologies but please try not to bump into me in the first place, I fear for my back you see......

Recovery offers the opportunity to meet some lovely, kind people. Kind enough to push your purchased items in their trolley to your car, which is a long way away from theirs... in the lashings of rain! Thank you kind, post-crutch user, shopping angel.....

Recovery means that I will also have a much kinder attitude to crutch-users when I am fully recovered. And I WILL be fully recovered. All in good time Jazzy, all in good time....

Recovery means having your ups and downs, your good and bad days and trying to remember that this is normal. And also remembering to keep the emphasis on the 'ups' and the 'good'.Things WILL get better Jazzy, they simply must....

Recovery is all about glimpsing that tiny flickering light of hope, gently burning down the very long tunnel and remaining positive.

Recovery is all about listening. To your medical practitioners, your body ....... and yourself. Your opinions count you know and you're so right to examine the possibilities that potential therapies may have to enhance your own recovery.

Recovery is therefore about being proactive. It shouldn't be all about the medications. Ask those questions, find those other complementary routes.....

Recovery means being very, very thankful that you never dropped your Health Insurance. It really is the 'security blanket' that advert professes it to be, no matter the provider. Shame on successive Governments for making this so.....

Recovery is about discovery. Like discovering all those hills that have suddenly popped up in nearby towns. I'm quite positive they weren't there in my - ahem - crutch-less days ......

Recovery is about solving confusing conundrums. Like keeping mobile, while also being sedentary. And thinking: it's all very well having a litter-picker to help pick up dropped items (I drop things, a lot) but what happens when the litter-picker itself falls down? What then, I ask you?!

Recovery is limiting. Especially on mid-term breaks and on being sedentary. What is one supposed to do then, eh? Well.... I guess there's baking and cooking for the home-cooked goodies loving teen on his Mid-term break - with his help of course ......

And there's a myriad of completed, semi-completed and barely started crochet and knitting projects - more of which anon - that I sincerely hope are completed in time........

Recovery is therefore all about hoping that one gets better .....  FAST.

Or else this Desperate Housewife is in serious danger of transforming into some kind of  a deranged, mutant Domestic Diva!!

And we really couldn't have that, now could we?!


Note: And finally, Recovery is about finding an outlet to release your thoughts and fears. It's very therapeutic and for me my blog is my main outlet. So, apologies for all my recent injury-related blog posts, it's all I seem to be able to blog about. But then ...... it's my blog, my rules :-) 

Why I am Strictly a #strictly Fan.....

There are so many of these competitive, make-me-a-star, raise-my-profile type TV shows these days, aren't there?

For me it all started with Pop Idol in 2001 which was subsequently 'replaced', as such, by The X Factor show in 2004.

There are tons of these shows. I should make it clear at this point though that I'm not particularly a fan of these type of shows per se, despite what my twitter feed may currently indicate on Saturday nights! And although I do watch it, I particularly dislike The X Factor show, mainly for the mentor game-playing they sometimes engage in and the fun they make of the 'weak' contestants - those they let through to the live shows for that reason - and how those with a back story have the best chance. Makes for better entertainment 'dahling', I'm sure they'll tell us.

The shows that I enjoy best though are 'Dancing on Ice', sadly no longer on our screens, which brought the fabulous British Ice Dancing stars Torville and Dean back into the public domain, making Ice Dancing cool again; and  Britain's Got Talent, which I love for the zaniness of the characters

However my absolute favorites are Got To Dance and Strictly Come Dancing. Mainly because they don't engage in the afore-mentioned game-playing, and also because they are, well, dance-based!

Myself and Looking for Blue Sky were chatting recently and a question was raised:

How come a programme about Ballroom Dancing, once a niche activity, has become so popular?

A very valid question that I'm not sure I can satisfactorily answer Blue sky, but I can tell you what I get from it and why I like it so much.

Anyone who knows me, or who are regular readers here, will know that dancing is my thing. You'll know that my love for dancing started with a chance TV item when I was three years old. From then on I watched any TV show that had dancing in it, which in my era consisted primarily of 2 shows: Top of the Pops and....... Come Dancing! This show was quite demure, staid even, and developed from following all of the many Ballroom Dancing competitions throughout the UK. The format evolved over the years and ultimately became the one I was familiar with. Groups of contestants (sometimes large, sometimes small) dancing around the floor, with the TV camera highlighting them one by one. Stunning costumes, in glorious colours with reams of satin and taffeta, feathers and sequins. With the men all in their suits and boleros, with ne'er a bare chest or rippling muscle to be seen. Through this programme I was introduced to the many different styles of ballroom dancing; the beautiful waltzes, the lively foxtrots and jives, the passionate Pasa Dobles and the sexy Rumbas and Sambas! Made such wonderful family viewing on a Saturday night!

My favourite part though, the one I lived for, was the more eclectic style - which allowed for more free-style dancing while also being technically correct -  the Group 'Formation Dance'. This was dancing-on-the-edge stuff, the highlight of the night, and I loved it!

Who could have known back then what this traditional dance TV programme would ultimately mature to be?

And that's exactly what happened with the introduction of the many competitive 'make-me-a-star' TV programmes. It worked for music so why not with dancing? I think that by applying this on-trend format of TV entertainment to the old style 'Come Dancing', they did for Ballroom Dancing what Riverdance did for Irish Dancing - they made it more popular and introduced it to a whole new audience. They made Ballroom Dancing 'sexy' ...... 'dahling'!

This show differs from The X Factor in that they invite 'celebrities' from all walks of the entertainment industry - thereby cutting out the 'game-playing'. Although the contestants have talent it is not usually (for most of them) in the area in which they are competing. They get to learn a whole new talent, one that takes as many forms as there are dance styles within this genre of Ballroom Dancing. There is a whole chemistry and bond, based on the most basic element there is; one that must exist if two people are to successfully dance together, i.e. trust. That is wonderful to watch. To see all of that develop, as well as the rapport between all of the couples and, of course, their dancing skills, as the weeks go by is another thing that attracts me to this show.This revamped dance show also provides a platform for the professional dancers and helps to highlight their phenomenal talents.  Of course I LOVE the choreography that these professional dancers bring to the show, and, although it can be a tad over-frenetic at times, I do love their more modern version of the 'Formation Dance', which is less restrictive and more creative than ever before.  And still the camera pans in from low on the dance floor, similar to how it did back in the day......

So for me it's not just the dancing; Strictly Come Dancing has such a history attached to it, it has risen from the ashes of Come Dancing and has been on our screens for ten years now. Ballroom Dancing is not that much of a niche, not really. Certainly not when compared to Ice Dancing and besides, as I've said above: there are many different dance styles encompassed within the title 'Ballroom Dancing'.

Ballroom Dancing is also a whole industry within itself. There are still many, regularly held, dancing competitions throughout the UK and Ireland, and the US too; for whom I'm sure Strictly means a lot.

The Strictly format has also become a hugely popular mode of fundraising for sports clubs, schools and charities here in Ireland alone, with this Fundraising Events Group being a hugely successful one-stop-shop for making your event happen!

And one day, hopefully soon -when my injury has totally healed, I will get to dance in one of these events.

It's on my to-do list after all!


#SilentSunday 26/10/2014


On Thinking Thoughts and Talking Small....

It was a kind of surreal conversation that surrounded me that day. It was like I was there, which I was - right there stage centre, can't miss me - but they were acting as if I wasn't. I didn't know what was expected of me you see. Should I try to join in from my precarious centre stage position, or should I just let them carry on..... ?

I guess it was something like being in a Doctor's surgery, or at the hairdressers - where there is an expected amount of small talk to be engaged in with every person that comes in contact with you. Exhausting, but it does put everyone at ease and makes the time fly by. Besides, in these situations the conversation signals are easier to read, you just join in - or pick up a magazine when they're blow-drying your hair so that everyone knows that conversation is no longer expected.

But this situation was entirely new to me. Eventually I just gave a wan, lop-sided smile, from my awkward tummy-lying position; hoping that this was a middle-of-the-road response that would cover all angles. Then everything went black........


I was just lying there, having smiled at everyone I came in contact with and engaged in the necessary - and sometimes unnecessary, it must be said - small talk. I was nervous you see. Very nervous. Even though I had no reason to be, not really. I'd been through this a few times before, But now I was relaxing, nodding off even, while I awaited my 'treatment'. And then suddenly, before I could even gather my thoughts, along came the person to bring me along to the next stage.

As I was wheeled in and out of lifts, and up and down, and along bright and sterile corridors, my mind began to wander.....

It meandered between what we'd have for dinner later that evening, to hoping that the Teen Boy had remembered, - and not lost, thrown away, eaten?,  - his hall door key, to 'please God, please let me come out of this in one piece. Better, if at all possible .... oh, and a few highlights and a bit of nice make-up would be lovely too'.

Unfortunately though, this was not a treatment of the beauty variety that I was being brought to, but rather one of the hospital kind. And one that required a rather large needle too. Well, there was another needle or two before the rather large needle was injected into my back, and not a million miles away from my spine either it must be said. Sure no wonder I was nervous.

I was delighted though that one of the needles would contain 'lots of lovely sedation' , as I said to everyone that I came in contact with, lest they'd forget and wouldn't give me enough. Or not give me any at all. Although I very much doubted they'd ever do that to me again. I've no doubt that the day they gave me this treatment without sedation is a day that has gone down in the annals of this hospital, never to be forgotten or repeated, ever again. In case my reaction would again frighten other patients waiting in line, like an injured human conveyor belt, for their 'turn'. It might even make this procedure completely obsolete! Oh no, sedation it most definitely will be.

So anyway, back to the corridor where I'm being pushed in a wheelchair with my thoughts going to places they had no right going, and thinking of the 'lovely sedation' that I was absolutely going to get. And then I thought: 'I know a General Anesthetic has more risks but what if I don't wake up after the sedation? Sure that couldn't happen, could it? I've too much left undone in this world, sure I'd have to come back to do all my 'jobs', especially one very important one. Nah, it'll have to be okay..... but what if it's not?

Okay, so if it's not what would the last things I'd see and hear on this earth then? See, I told you my mind went places it had no right to go.

'Well, I wouldn't want it to be that boring hospital notice over there,' I thought to myself. 'Nor that official sounding one on that door,' I mused.

'Oh, wait a minute,' I exclaimed in my mind as I was pushed through the double doors, 'what's that notice on that board I see.... 'Don't forget to.... bring your... Christmas Party.... deposits in this week... €10'. Ah yes, a Christmas Party, now that's more like it!'

So that was that all sorted then, I thought happily to myself.

Except it wasn't. I still hadn't reached my final destination you see, and instead was left in a kind of ante room to the operating theatre. *Gulps* . When the beeps stopped beeping then it would be my turn... on the table, so the speak... I was gleefully informed. *Gulps again... BIG ones*

I then flicked through some magazines desperately trying to distract myself again. Something here that would be the last thing I'd remember?..... ooh look, a pretty photo of my friend, Lisa Maree Domican !! Now, that really did distract me!

Then I was told that the radiologist would be here soon to give me me my 'lots of lovely sedation'. Okay, I can do this, no bother, I thought ...... and then I remembered.... OH CRAP..... it was a radiologist who gave me that treatment before wasn't it? You know the one I told you about above.... the one with 'Marathon Man' written all over it. - I refer of course to that movie with the sadistic dentist, except in my case it was a 'misinformed' ( chronic pain means CHRONIC PAIN Mister, so treat with due consideration!) Radiologist, and the pain inflicted was 'Marathon Man' multiplied by a factor of TEN, at least. My shocked sobs and screams lasted for a very long time after the procedure, and must have reverberated through the theatre and beyond for far, far longer.......

And then suddenly my radiologist appeared, fingers itching to get all sorts of wires etc linked to the canula which had already been inserted into my arm. And I breathed a huge sigh of relief on seeing that it was a different radiologist, and I was indeed getting 'lots of lovely sedation'.

Then things happened very quickly. I was wheeled into the operating theatre where there were lots of nurses and assistants buzzing around, following the usual routine for the next injured human on the conveyor belt, i.e. me! With great difficulty in preserving my dignity, I hauled my injured body from one trolley to end up tummy-down on another, and without further ado I was attached to all sorts of contraptions, while I listened to the conversation around me.....

After all the small talk and ensuring that I was well informed at all stages along the way,  they were all now suddenly ignoring me! My Consultant, that would be the one who was about to stick a rather large needle in my back not too far from my spine, and his head nurse were discussing the ways of getting out of changing the duvet covers with their other halves at home! I was fascinated.....

Apparently 'but you're so good at doing it, much better than me' is the best, and safest way to do it.

And apparently these would be the last words I'd hear on this earth....... then everything went black.

But of course the weren't the last thing I heard, else I wouldn't be here to tell the tale now, would I!

It appears that post-Nerve Block procedure I now feel slightly better than I did before.......... but I still need highlights and some face-paint.

But that will be a whole other story....... and a whole lot more small talk!


Note: For any of you needing Nerve Block procedures here's what I learned:

                                      Nerve Block 'Highlights' (!!)

The thing about these procedures is that the patient's reaction dictates it's success while undergoing the procedure - i.e. if the patient screams they've hit the spot. 
  • A Pain Management Consultant (some of them, not all) take a more humane approach and sedate you, so that you're just under, will still respond, but will not remember.
  • A radiologist's skills and the way he/she does their work means that they've a much more targeted way of hitting the nerve to block it. But they don't sedate you. 
I felt that the Pain Management route is the most humane, and while the radiologist's technique ultimately gave me the most relief (for a while) it was excruciatingly painful and the memory of that pain stayed with me for a long time afterwards. I've had 4 nerve blocks now and it's the sedation route for me if I need any more.

The choice however is yours to make.

The Forgotten 'Worker'.......

I don't know why I put myself through it, yet still I did it ..... I listened to the details of Budget 2015 the other day. It was a slightly better budget compared to those of more recent years, and it was jokingly thought to have been yet again translated from it's mother language, i.e. German!  There were little presents to the lower and middle income earners of Ireland in the form of extra tax relief and an increase in child benefit. It did irk me a little that all the calculation examples quoted on the evening news programmes added the tax relief due for Water Tax, even though this relief isn't claimable until 2016, and didn't reduce any gain by the cost of said Water Tax charges to reflect this budget's true net effect. In fact this Budget was pretty much neutral. For some, for others it was a loss, due to some anomalies.

Later that evening I listened to the comments and concerns from the sample panel of a small cross-section of our society, and I agreed with their points of view. 

I also heard the usual argument against the universal way that we allow child benefit to all, including the 'rich'. People would have preferred that it be given in the form of childcare relief, to facilitate mothers (it's usually the mothers) who work outside the home.

I also listened to, and agreed with, the working mothers who put their points forward with regards to the costs of going to work ie childcare.I listened to, and agreed with, a mother who is a Carer to her son who has 'additional needs', who now has options to either work or to do further study. The obstacle in her path for both was also the cost  of childcare.

In recent years the cost of childcare is highlighted again and again and again. And rightly so. All Governments in the past decade or so have resided over a policy of ensuring that mothers who's children were at school to get out there and get a job. That policy pervaded in boom and bust years alike, and I believe that that policy is Individualisation.

Now also during the above period there were mothers who either financially needed to work or preferred to be a working mum. It's entirely irrelevant why the mother is working really. Working mothers contribute to the working ethics of this country and to the state coffers (as well as taking care of home and child duties.) If childcare costs are seriously affecting any mothers choice to work then we should recognise that and make any tax allowances that's required. 

But we should not abolish child benefit as it stands and replace it with a childcare allowance, or Tax Credit.

Not unless you also grant it to those who don't 'work' but provide another form of childcare. 

And it's this group of Irish citizens that has been repeatedly ignored, in budget after budget, year after year.... also ever since the introduction of Individualisation. In fact this group of mothers very rarely get a mention, so much so that they don't even have a voice anymore. And that really saddens me. I'm also very much concerned about how Government after Government seems to see the preferred family unit as one where both parents work, if jobs are available. 

Yes, this group I refer to are of course those mothers who by choice or necessity stay home all day to mind the children.

And like working mothers it's also entirely irrelevant why they are stay-at-home-mums. The fact that they don't contribute to the state coffers seems to have a bearing, I don't believe that any Government in the past 14 years has ever acknowledged the contribution that a lot of these mothers also make to society (via extensive voluntary work in schools and parishes etc;etc;etc,) as well as to home life. Besides, as I've said before 'Not all contributions to our society can be measured in financial or economic terms. 

You may wonder why I blame Individualisation as a problem for both women who go out to work and women who stay at home. Well, I'll tell you why:

  • Individualisation replaced the aggregation form of taxation for married couples and was introduced in Budget 2000. One of the reasons it was introduced was as I've said before: 'it was felt that women were incentivised to' seek economic independence' .
  • In fact the effect of this new way of treating married couples, which meant a financial hit to those families where the mother stayed home, was that a lot of women with children went back to work as they couldn't afford not to. Older couples whose children were fully grown up were also affected in this manner. It may have suited some of them to do so but that's not the point.
  • Then along came the recession in approx 2008 and a lot of jobs were lost. A lot of these jobs were part time jobs. And a lot of these part time jobs were filled by women.
  • Individualisation helped fill all those vacant positions from 2000 (Fianna Fail either planned this -and I believe they did - or it was an unexpected huge bonus) and when a lot of those positions were no longer there Individualisation was still retained.
  • While this Individualisation did recognise the stay-at-home-parent by introducing the paltry  'Home Carer Tax Credit', the Government of the day only granted it  due to the uproar caused at the time; the one and only time that the SAHM's very loud voice was heard.
  • While most family tax credits have received a tweaking over the years, the Home Carers Tax Credit has only been slightly increased once in the 14 years since it was introduced. Despite salary increases and tax decreases during part of that time, all Governments continue to value the work that these parents do to the tune of approx €14.80 per week.

So, what do I want? I want to see a Government that encompasses and values all family choices as regards working in or outside the home, and all forms of childcare. 

I'd like a Government that makes any necessary adjustments that makes it financially viable for a family to choose whatever form of childcare or work choices that they find suitable, or necessary, for their family unit., 

I want us a society to not value one over the other, to see the value that both working and Stay-At-Home-Mums (or dads) bring to our nation and to the future of our society.