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Friday, December 28, 2012

and then I was back on my native soil.

Soon as the pilot parked our plane into its parking spot everybody leaped up to grab their stuff out of the overheads.  I had been worried about if I could walk through Heathrow's terminal 5.  It's a big airport and sometimes I have trouble getting about. I had requested mobility assistance before flying, just in case.  Soon as I tried to stand up I noticed I felt stiff and sore, so I decided to opt for the assistance.  BIG MISTAKE.  I could have done fine because I was only sore from sitting so long...but I never know these days.

There was about ten or more of us in our gang of Crips and only two wheel chairs!   A little scuffle broke out.  The British Airways wranglers started to sort us.  I was herded with about five others through the posh part of the plane, where I noted the seats were comfy like the cheap seats were in the olden days of flying.  Then we were made to go out the door where the food is loaded and into some sort of contraption.  I thought about bolting back to follow the healthy passengers, but it was too late...I had been culled.

I won't go in to too many details here but there was a lot of shouting between some eastern Europeans and a British Indian.  I took the Brit's side because he was so little and had a cute scowl - sort of like an angry kitten, and besides the eastern Europeans couldn't speak a word of English, so I didn't know what they were on about.  It later occurred to me that they didn't need mobility assistance and were only trying to make their connecting flight to Budapest, (they kept showing me some tickets and their passports) and were instead being forced into wheelchairs.   We had to wait in this building and be hauled off one at a time because they only had one wheelchair.  I told the wheelchair man, (who happened to be an American from Baltimore) when he came to get someone else, that I was going to do a runner and he told me it was a long way to go so I'd better stay put.  It was a bit of a humiliating blur, but do remember being wheeled through immigration waving my passport in the air and shouting "I'm British" when I thought they were making me go through the part for foreigners.  In the excitement of being hauled around heathrow and then ending up with a mad bugger who drove us all to baggage claims shouting "Keep calm" every time someone asked him something and yelling at people to get out of the way as he almost ran them down, I lost track of how much time had passed.  I thought I was there ahead of the other passengers from Seattle but in fact they were long gone and so was my suitcase.

After I found someone who spoke English (London has really changed) I went to the BA desk and told them I was sans suitcase.  To my joy the lads there were all English and one ran off to get my bag, which I told him was easy to spot because it was flying our farm's colours...baling twine.

Nobody at all manning customs...typical when your not being a drug mule.  Out in the public area I started to wander around and then I heard, "Mum Mum"!  I started to looked about and then remembered I wasn't the only mum in England and then I heard it again, "Mum Mum".  There was my oldest son Keegan up in the sky walk with the small British Airways posse he'd put together.  Poor lad had been hours waiting for me and couldn't understand what happened to me because the plane landed right on time.

I thought it was funny that he picked me up in London in the same car that he picked me up in Oklahoma City a few years ago!  He took me to Suffolk where I stayed for a few days.  On Saturday, when my granddaughter Amelia was out of school, Keegan took Amelia and me to the place where I was going to spend the next six mum and dads house!

Almost as soon as we got there Amelia, Keegan, my mum and me hiked to the woods.  It wasn't till afterwards I realized that was four generations of us on that walk and we didn't take a picture!  When I was very little, about four years old, I would go on walks to the same woods with my (maternal) grandpa and his dog Rover.  I loved it.  When Keegan was four years old, my (maternal) Nana walked to the woods with us.  So I guess it's a tradition now.  I showed Amelia how to pick blackberries from the hedgerow.  She loved them and would have ate them all if we had let her.

These are some blackberries from the bottom of my mum and dad's garden.

While I was taking pictures of blackberries, a butterfly wanted to be in the shot.

Below is a British Robin, the original Robin Red Breast.  This little guy lived in the garden and would sing outside my window every morning.  I chased off a hawk who was after him one day.  When I was gardening, he would follow me around and was pretty fearless.  No zoom was used in this picture, although I did crop it.

Throughout England and Wales, there are Bridlepaths (bridleways) and footpaths.  People have a legally protected right to travel on them over privately owned land.  Some of these paths are hundreds of years old.  The footpaths might have stiles going over fences and if there is a gate on a bridlepath, it will be convenient to open and close from the back of a horse.  My pony Brandy and I rode many miles and had many an adventure using these paths.

This is a bridlepath near mum and dad's house.  The hole is bigger than it looks in the picture.  Horse and rider can fit through.

Many a time I have ridden this path.  It is almost 50 years since the first time I rode a pony across here.  The little doggie is Katy, my parents dog.

One morning my mum took me on one of her longer daily walks.

Even though she's in her 80's now she can really cover some ground.  She even had a little run!

We went around the outside of this wheat stubble field.

There are paths around and through the middle of a golf course.  This looked to me like a pony race track.

Oh, it would have been tempting to race Brandy across the golf course!  I notice they have banned dogs from it, but ponies aren't mentioned.

When Brandy and I traveled these paths it was a lot different.  There was no golf course, public park, play ground or shopping center.  Things were a lot more natural.  They put a fence up around the woods in the late '70's and said NO HORSES ALLOWED but Brandy and I jumped over the brook and got in anyway.

The next four pictures I took standing in the same spot looking in four directions.

This now goes between the golf course.  I used to ride this way to the village of Ravensden.  There were fields of crops on the other-side of the hedges.

On the right is the woods and the brook where I'd catch sticklebacks and collect frogs eggs as a girl.

On the right is the bridlepath and then more golf course to the left.  The golf course used to produce wheat when I rode along here years ago.  One day Brandy and I were having a really good gallop along this bridlepath and suddenly a man appeared in front of us.  Brandy just spun out in another direction and I went flying into the wheat field.  I remember that tumble well because it knocked the wind out of me and that felt really weird.

In this direction, just down this path, is the way to a public park, a school, lots of houses and a small shopping center.  I never went down here because I like to remember it as it was years ago.  I remember the pretty hedgerows, county lane, the golden wheat fields, horse pastures and the old farmstead.  England's population is increasing at a rapid pace since it joined the European Union and a lot more of the English countryside is going to be developed for houses.  I'm not sure how the county plans to feed itself in the future.

Something really wonderful happened while I was in England, my sarcoidosis went into remission the whole time I was there.  I don't understand why and I can't help but wonder if I had stayed longer would my subcutaneous granulomas have started to get smaller.  More about my adventures with my family coming up.  Stayed tuned.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mystery in the snow.

I haven't been able to write due to my aches and pains.  If I had been able to sit up long enough to write, I'm afraid it would have been nothing but complaining and every sentence ending in "ouch".  As soon as I think I know everything that sarcoidosis is going to throw at me, there is something new and worse.  The doctor told me that the sarcoidosis has caused a lot of inflammation in my body and nerves are being pinched.  

Sunday morning I woke up almost pain free and able to move.  This inflammation can almost disappear overnight, kind of like a switch is flipped.  I was thinking how to spend the day while watching William and Teddy go off to feed the cows and horses from the comfort of my comfy chair.  After about an hour they came back with Teddy looking so pretty and bounding through the snow ahead of William.  William walked into the living room and to my horror said, "There's a lot of blood outside and it wasn't there when I left".

First day back on the job of feeling normal and ...this.  Right away I looked at the cats - all sleeping in the living room and all accounted for.  I thought the victims must be the birds...Ducky Boy or Ducky Girl, our gallant brave Rooster Jet Lag or his girls.  We went outside and saw the blood in the snow.  I said it must be Jet Lag's because he is a fighter and wouldn't go down without a fight.  William took a look in the hen house and saw ALL the birds in there, including the traumatized looking ducks, who normally don't hang out in the hen house.

It seemed like we had a real mystery on our hands.  The snow fell during the night and so it was pretty pristine except for the crime scene.  The paw prints where the blood was were coyote's along with deer and several quail tracks.   I started putting the evidence together and I concluded it was a murder involving a deer, a quail and a coyote.  The deer might have just been a innocent bystander and I suspect the quail was the victim.  I also threw in a interesting twist; the deer could have been injured and the quail had nothing to do with it.  I doubt the coyote was the victim though.  

The photo below is rather horrible, but is the least gruesome.....

You can see it is a multi-species crime scene.  Those are my boots and the porch is to the right.

Brad and I followed the coyote tracks.  I had to keep telling Brad not to walk in the evidence.  I was so happy that I could walk about again and take part in an investigation.

We saw the deer ahead of us but we never spotted any coyotes, only coyote tracks crisscrossing the trail.  When we got home I had another look around and noticed more coyote tracks in front of the house and more blood.  It seems the quail flock were jumped and chased under our porch by more than one coyote!   All the time I was sitting in my comfy chair by the window.  All that action right under my nose and the porch and I missed it.   I think birds are easier for the coyotes to hunt in the snow.

That night the wind picked up and it was sleeting really heavy.  We lost power for four hours.  Now the higher temperature have melted all the snow.

I will post pictures of my English adventure next :)