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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Christmas Comma

This year, at the last minute, The Man begged off attending the Midnight Service on Christmas Eve. Instead we trooped off Christmas morning at 10.30 for the Family Service. It began with the well-known old carol, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.  It's not my favourite of the traditional carols -- partly because it never made much sense to me. In my imagination I pictured a Dickensian scene of jolly, red-faced and rather rotund gentlemen with beer mugs in their hands enjoying themselves on Christmas Eve -- rather 'Ho, Ho, Ho,' for a church service -- or so I thought. But that was before I heard the Vicar's sermon for Christmas morning!

He pointed out that in the first line of the carol -- one of the oldest -- there is a comma after the word 'merry'. As long as I have been singing that carol, I had never noticed that. It means that it's not at all about 'merry gentlemen', but that we should 'rest joyful' that 'Christ our Saviour was born on Christmas Day.

It's still not one of my favourite carols, but I can't quite get over the difference that a comma can make! I hope you have all had a very Merry Christmas and send my very best wishes for a very happy New Year 2014.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Third Time Still Lucky...

And so the  two weeks passed. Thanksgiving was a lovely day, turkey and the usual trimmings and pies! My sister and her family arrived loaded down with the essentials -- I bought the ingredients for succotash! We laughed a lot and my mother thoroughly enjoyed her grandsons who enjoyed hearing her tell them about my father and the early years of her marriage. By the time Thanksgiving weekend was over -- and no I did not even attempt to shop on Black Friday, never-mind Thanksgiving Day itself -- my visit was almost over-- time to think about packing for my return.

Two days before I was to leave I was able to take my mother to her former home town to meet friends for lunch. The weather had not been very conducive to taking her out, but on this day she was really ready to get out and about. She has become much more frail over the past year or two -- and is now reluctant to venture outside of her apartment except in a wheelchair. However, it is not possible to take the wheelchair in the car and she would need to use her walker instead to get from her apartment to the car. And she did it without batting an eye! She really enjoyed her lunch and the company and was animated and lively. It was a wonderful day.

The next day I would return to the town to meet a good friend and do some Christmas shopping. Kent, Connecticut is the quintessential New England town -- the sort of place if you had never been to New England you would imagine it would be. So I met my friend and we had lunch and then browsed around the shops. As darkness fell, I thought it best to be on my way so that I could have my last dinner with my Mom. The way back is a beautiful scenic route along the Housatonic River and takes about 45 minutes. I thought I would be back just in time for dinner -- around 6.00. As I approached a junction about 5 miles from my mothers place, I did so with caution as it a hairpin turn -- meaning that it is necessary to turn oneself carefully to the right to check on-coming traffic before turning left. There is a stop sign at the junction and I duly stopped and was just about to continue when there was a terrific WHAM from behind as I felt the unexpected impact of what turned out to be another vehicle.

Initially, I sat there in absolute disbelief! Then I was overwhelmed by the feeling of not knowing what to do and wanting to burst into tears. It seemed like a long time, but was probably only minutes when I decided to get out of the car and find out what exactly had happened. The car that rammed into me was a total wreck and the driver, a man, was trying to find his way around the airbag which had gone off. My European phone was not working and I asked  him if he could call for help, which he said he was trying to do. He told me that he had not seen me! I then returned to my car and thought to turn on my hazards! Not long afterwards a man appeared, he asked if I was hurt and said that the state trooper was on his way as well as an ambulance. To this day I have no idea who he was or where he appeared from. But I suspect he might have been from the gas station, which was located at the junction.

It was not long before the State Trooper appeared. He was very kind and after ascertaining that I was not seriously hurt, asked me what happened. I explained as best I could and within the next few minutes a lovely lady from the ambulance appeared and said they wanted to check out my vitals and I went to the ambulance and was checked. I was shaken and stirred, but felt no need to go to the hospital and after they reiterated that if at any time I felt worsening symptoms I was to call them. You can imagine that all I wanted was to get back to my mother, who I knew would be worrying, and to get on the plane back to England the next day! The fellow who hit me went off to the hospital -- he seemed in a bit of a daze and his car was being towed away. My car, however, was still drivable and was looked over by the tow truck guys and the trooper. We discovered when I got back into the car that an airbag in the head rest had gone off -- which probably explains why I only suffered a few minor aches and pains the following day.

As I got into the car the state trooper said the magic words -- "Don't worry, you are not at fault"! Fortunately, I had taken out full insurance coverage when I rented the car. The next day I was able to drive back to the Enterprise office and turn the car back. The rear end looked a lot worse in the daylight -- the trunk would not open and the rear end looked like it was beginning to separate from the main part of the body of the car. The agent said it would cost thousands to repair!

I then got into my sister's car and she drove me to the airport. All my planes were on time and I had once again a seat to myself on the final leg home from Philadelphia to Manchester. Funny thing, little did I know that there was a major storm brewing in England. The plane due in 5 minutes before mine had been diverted to Edinburgh! There was a slight bit of turbulence, but nothing out of the ordinary -- I had no idea  until I met my husband and he told me!

From an appendicitis scare to a car crash, with an allergy scare in between -- it was a funny old trip!

Friday, December 06, 2013

There and Back Again!

I am sure many of you have heard about the old Chinese, "May you live in interesting times"!  My recent trip to the States for Thanksgiving with my mother was very interesting! Fortunately, the illness I had just before leaving England was not appendicitis and the antibiotics what they are supposed to and rid me of the urinary infection and ache in my side. I did, however, arrive with a cold, which soon resulted in an unexpected and unpleasant outcome.

In order to stem the tide of my streaming eyes and running nose I moseyed on down to the drug store to seek a cold remedy. As tends to be the case, I was overwhelmed by choices in selection but soon settled on one that said it was for people with high blood pressure. "Ah", thought I, "Just the thing for me!" And, indeed, the cold symptoms abated within a few hours...

At two in the morning I awoke, feeling very uncomfortable, rather hot and very itchy! When I looked in the mirror I was absolutely horrified. I was covered from head to toe in a red weals and totally uncomfortable. I was also worried that I had something contagious while staying in a place with many elderly people, including my mother! Every morning at around 5.30 a nurses' aide comes to my mother to put special support hose on her legs. So when she came in I stopped her and explained the situation to her. She thought it looked like an allergic reaction and called a nurse to come and have a look. The nurse agreed and brought me an antihistamine, Benidryl, and I waited. I also stopped taking my newly acquired cold remedy, Coricidin HBP Cold & Flu.

Happily, 24 hours later and the redness and weals and itching had all but disappeared. Later that day, while talking to my sister she said that she had only once had such a reaction and it was when she had taken some cold medication many years ago! The same medication!

By Thanksgiving I was completely recovered and we had a lovely celebration. You know, though what they say about troubles coming in threes? There was one final element to come -- but that was waiting for me as my visit was just coming to an end -- and no, I'm not going to relate that -- just yet!