May 2009


these photos were taken a week later, on 31st May 09… behind the cut as per usual.

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I’ve been busy working on the garden, and on my family history research, although i’m making more progress with the garden than i am the research at the moment…

Anyway. garden update – photos behind the cut…

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… some things just don’t change….

Newspaper article from 1898, spotted yesterday while searching through archives. Apologies for the quality of photograph - it was snapped on a microfiche.

Newspaper article from 1898, spotted yesterday while searching through archives. Apologies for the quality of photograph - it was snapped on a microfiche.

ENGLISH DIET – IS IT WHOLESOME?

That is a question which has frequently exercised the minds of doctors. We eat too much heavy food — too much meat. We do not, as a nation, take to the lighter and more varied viands of our continental neighbours. That practical humourist, Mr G. R. Sims, evers that England owes much of her greatness to her roast beef and honest beer, but it is a question whether a little less of those excellent commodities would not be a step in the right direction. Heavy foods, however well cooked, produce a feeling of repletion not consonant with healthy mental and physical energy. Moreover, it tends to a sluggish condition of the liver, which has much to do with our admitted lack of life and spirits as compared with our lighter-eating and lighter-hearted friends across the English Channel. There can be no denying this fact, but at any rate there is a remedy at hand. Our sluggish system must be made to act more energetically, in a natural way, without our having recourse to deleterious pills and purgatives..……

…… some things, thankfully.. blessedly.. do. In the UK, at least.

newspaper article from 1898 spotted today in the library. apologies for the quality - it was displayed on a microfiche.

newspaper article from 1898 spotted today in the library. apologies for the quality - it was displayed on a microfiche.

A MOTHER’S VAIN SACRIFICE.

A pathetic story of a mother’s vain sacrifice is reported from Blackburn. A coroner’s jury on Wednesday recorded their opinion that Lettuce Ball, the wife of a bricklayer, had starved herself to death in order to feed her children. Yesterday the coroner received information that one of the children, aged three years, who had been removed to the workhouse in a terribly emaciated condition, had also succumbed.

I’ve seen many heartbreaking records in the archives while i’ve searched. The husband and father who lost his wife and 9 day old child at the same time. A child who was found dead, just a few hours old, in “Radcliffe Road”, buried with no name, no love. I’ve seen humorous sights too – from the wedding that had to be cancelled for 24 hours because the groom turned up drunk, to the man who came back to the church 20 years after he was married to insist the vicar alter the archives because “he didn’t know his own name at the time he was married”. I’ve learned about the corrupt vicars who sold burial plots more times than they should’ve, so instead of 6 people being buried in a grave plot, there were 9 – and as a result, burials in the area are a complete mess, with many not being recorded. I’ve learned about the young people who were often told, when they wanted to get married but couldn’t afford it (or when she fell pregnant, and they couldn’t afford marriage), to live together as though they were married, and .. well.. they’d sort the paperwork out when they had the spare cash (marriage was an expensive business in the 19th C – you had to pay the vicar, the registrar, and the use of the church, and you could only marry in a church of england church for many years).. quite the contrary to the straight laced image that so many have of the Victorians.

Everything changes.. and nothing does. And i find both thoughts somewhat comforting…

something occurred to me the other night.

the old fashioned idea of a woman’s place in society is coming back into play. You can see it in various places, if you’re attuned to it: in fashion (the current fashion for large belts, cinched in waists, full skirts and heels is just Dior’s 1947 new look revamped – and i don’t think its any accident that its hitting just as we’re heading into one of the deepest recessions for a long time), on TV – Kirstie Allsopps’s “homemade home” series being a classic example. There seems to be a rediscovery in growing your own, making do in a way that our grandparents would’ve been familiar with under the motto “make do and mend”, the whole recycling movement, in home crafts, in womanly ways. Women are starting to take a pride in looking after their home in a way that they didn’t, for many years, and it seems that, at long last, society is recognising not only the very important role they do play in providing a home for their menfolk and children, but that its okay to be “a homemaker”, a “housewife”, a “stay at home mum”, in a way that it hasn’t been for a long time.

Yes, there are a few that take this the wrong way – just as there are those greenies who use the whole green movement as an excuse to show up the neighbours and be the greenest person on the street by throwing lots of money at it all, to have the BEST compost bin, and the best recycled nappies – and who completely miss the point in recycling, making your own and creating a home from home (and much as i love Kirstie Allsopp, some of her series i’d put into that category, given the sheer amount she spends on things!) and there are certainly those who will still denigrate a SAHM, just as there are women who, when asked, will apologetically say “oh i’m a housewife”.

But, and here’s where its different to how it was 50 years ago – although things are cycling around, this time, its not something you have to do. Women are free to choose – to be the high flying career woman – but also to be the housewife. Don’t get me wrong, this world still ain’t perfect – there are still too many women who are paid less than there male counterparts for doing the same job, for example, despite it being illegal to do so – and there’s a long way to go, but after years of women feeling that they had to have a career, to be SuperWife or SuperMom, to Have It All… its nice to see the pendulum swinging back again.

And i, for one, am loving the recent fashions. Women are allowed to be women again. curves are in – and i’m willing to bet there’s an awful lot of women out there who are sighing in relief with me.

It’ll be interesting to see how the pendulum swings next. Will it swing further? will women be encouraged to stay at home, to create more space for men in the workplace, just as they were in the post WWII period? or will it swing back again, back towards the career driven, money orientated society that we saw after the terrible recessions of the late 70s and early 80s…? I, for one, hope not, but we’ll have to wait and see…

the last couple of weeks have been… difficult (i like that word. it expresses volumes). Its taken all i have just to put one foot in front of another: to keep up with the various things around the house, and not to lapse completely into the darkness altogether. Which sounds very over dramatic, but i think my regular readers will know what i mean.

I think i’m coming out of it now. The fact i’m writing this alone is a good indication of that, although there are others too. I went to Bolton yesterday, and today, to the central library there – finally made myself do what i’ve been swearing i would do for the last 4 years or so. Part of my family (one of my greatgrandmothers) comes from Bolton, although she moved to London when she was a teenager with the rest of her family, where she met and married my greatgrandfather – and lost touch with the rest of her family (why, no one knows, although i’ve been told that my greatgrandfather (a teacher and church minister) “saved” her from a really hard life working in the cotton mills, so perhaps it was that). I’ve done work on other parts of the family history, through the internet and family resources, but with Bolton being so close, and within the Greater Manchester area (where i can travel for nothing thanks to my concessionary card), i’ve promised myself i would use local resources to find out more about her side of the family – maybe trace burials, houses they lived in, and so on. Very often central libraries hold things like parish baptism, marriage and burial records that aren’t available on the internet, and then there’s things like newspapers and so on, so there’s a fantastic potential for research – and if you want to get into geneology seriously, at some point you have to do this kind of research. (and frankly, to do this for the rest of the family, while its something i want to do at some point, its lengthy and time consuming, and this will take money – for travelling if nothing else. this is a lifetime hobby!)

so yesterday i finally dragged myself over to Bolton. I’d never been there – its a pretty town, and the people are so friendly! Every single shop i walked into had shop assistants asking if they could help me – and not in a sarky “stop wasting my time” way either – and the people in the library itself are nothing short of wonderful. i only got a couple hours research done yesterday, so i went back over again today and got more done. The more you do, the more you want to do. Its addictive, frustrating and wonderful all at the same time – there are mysteries, where you have to reconcile different records – if you can find em to begin with – and battle obscure handwriting, strange references, and multiple instances of the same name… The gentleman i’m researching now is a “James Greenhalgh” – Greenhalgh is one of those names that’s peculiar to one town or region, in this case, Bolton.. and there are a lot of Greenhalghs. there’s a lot of Jameses too. There’s even more Johns – his son is a John… you begin to get the picture.

For all that, though, i feel better, like i’ve woken up. my brain is engaged again, and that’s a huge relief after the black hole of the last two weeks. I even wore makeup today – which is quite rare, for me – and pulled on nice clothes, a skirt and vest with a cardi, instead of slobbing in jeans.

I have appreciated the messages that have been left in the last couple of days, i do want to say  thankyou to everyone that left those messages. They’ve reminded me that i’m not alone in this, and that there are people that care. Linda – regarding talking to someone, part of what makes this so hard to cope with is that there’s usually nothing “wrong”, as such. sometimes there is, but usually, nothing i can put my finger on, which is the most frustrating part of all this – if i knew what was wrong, i could do something about it! This time has been like that – Its frustrating for Michiel as well, cos he’ll ask what’s wrong.. and the answer is that nothing is wrong, but i still have a face like a wet noodle. Still, you’re right, and i will try to talk to people where i can. thankyou. 🙂

Wendy, to answer your question – the garden is fine, everything is growing! There’s some stuff that needs doing – grass needs mowing, few seedlings that need planting out, but that apart, its looking good. i reckon a couple of weeks and my tomatoes and courgette plants will be able to go out. i’m hoping we get a nice spell, when i can get on with that. We’ll see.

so hopefully, that’s the end of the black spell for a while… and it’ll be a long time before the next one hits…

Regular readers will know what the gap means. The blackness has descended again. I’m not gonna go into description, it just means that life, at the moment is feeling very difficult. The only reason i’ve blogged at all is because of B.A.D.D., as per my previous post, and i’m not happy with that, i think i could’ve done much better but it’s done now, so i’m letting it go. One thing i hate about the nature of this is that it really does differ from day to day – i can have a black week, then, like the weather, things change and i wake up feeling absolutely fantastic and i have a great day. Its totally unpredictable and this makes it hard to cope with. I’m trying to stay ontop of things like the garden, food (like making bread), and keeping various projects going, but its hard, and i’m not doing them with the joy that i normally do. Hopefully it’ll pass soon.

I’ve updated the photo-a-days, and backposted them. The photo-a-day for 26th is particularly lovely, another guest photo from mum, which i fell in love with when i saw it.

Its a new month which means a new header: i hope the nursery rhyme brings back memories to everyone else too.

Hopefully soon i’ll be back to normal….

Today is B.A.D.D.: and i’ve been racking my brains for the last couple of weeks, trying to come up with a subject to blog about. This is part of the problem of doing this every year – you eventually run out of subjects, especially when you think about your disabilities as little as i think about them.

However, each time i’ve thought about it i’ve come repeatedly back to a post by Goldfish, not written as part of B.A.D.D. (although it could’ve been), but well before this, on Susan Boyle. And since many many words have been written about Susan Boyle in the blogosphere, and in the media, i’m not going to add to them. But still… her post, and a couple other posts she linked to,  troubles me.

What was it she said?

However, it is fair to say that the same thing happens to other disabled people all the time. We aren’t admired for the talents we happen to have or the things we happen to do, and we aren’t respected just for ourselves. We are admired and respected because we defy expectations. Expectations being so low, most of us defy them at least some of the time. When we fail to do so for some reason, we are no longer afforded the basic respect to which everyone is entitled.”

We’re admired and respected because we defy expectations. And that admiration, that respect, is another form of disabilism.

Hmmm.

This makes me think. See, i’m deaf. Severely deaf: for the hearing people out there, my deafness is such that i can stand next to the speakers at a nightclub without my hearing aids quite happily, i can hear the music but it doesn’t – pun unintended – deafen me. Its not uncomfortable for me in the way that it probably would be for people who’s ears are working perfectly (The vibrations from said speaker, however, is another thing altogether).

However, i’ve worn hearing aids almost all my life – since they discovered i was deaf when i was 4 – very powerful hearing aids. I was brought up in a hearing family, an only child, and my parents devoted a lot of time to both teaching me to use my hearing aids to the full, but also to speaking clearly. I had speech therapy for much of my early life. This means that now, if you were to meet me, unless you were specifically aware of such things, there’s a reasonably good chance you wouldn’t even know i was deaf. My speech is – mostly – that of a hearing person, there’s just a few sounds i have trouble reproducing (And this brings its own problems, but that’s not for discussion here).

Because of this, when people realise i’m deaf, they often compliment me on my speech. And me, being a well brought up young lady (as my mother would say), would thank them for the compliment and go on my merry way.

But now, Goldfish’s blog has made me stop and think about this. About the attitude behind such a compliment. The expectation is that as a deaf person, i shouldn’t speak – or at least, i shouldn’t speak very well. Is this a reasonable expectation to have? Is having expectations of someone who is disabled a good thing? I’m trying now to put myself outside of my own knowledge of deafness.. asking myself: ‘if i saw someone in a wheelchair get up and walk, would i compliment them on their ability to do so?’. I have to say, my answer is no, but then… again, i’m somewhat better.. educated on the reasons that people might use a wheelchair than the average joe public might be. There comes the point where you ask yourself too: is this a reasonable opinion to hold, or am i being oversensitive?

But then, I certainly wouldn’t compliment someone in a wheelchair who’d just gotten up and walked on their walking ability because such a compliment is patronising in the extreme. I can *see* that, even without the knowledge that some people might use wheelchairs because although they can walk, they suffer from, say, fatigue related issues that mean that they can often do more if they take to a wheelchair for part of their day.

So really.. is complimenting someone for being able to speak well despite their deafness really any different?

So then the issue, for me, becomes… when someone does compliment me in such a way.. how do i respond?

I could educate them on their disabilism. I’m not sure this would get me anywhere since a) people often don’t want to hear about this because it makes them feel bad and b) do i really have to do this? I mean.. it is not my personal responsibility to go around correcting the world’s opinions and viewpoints on disability, or even on my own disability. This is something else Goldfish has touched on, today, in her post on “A living, learning experience“:

Well, I know a few things now, but I am not duty-bound to teach. I am not obliged to spend my life answering inappropriate questions or confronting ignorance whenever it arises.

Yes, of course, if i want to – if the person expressing such a viewpoint is someone i consider a friend, then yes, i probably would put the time and effort in anyway. If it was someone i didn’t know well, or was never likely to see again, then i could be quite rude, i suppose. But then, i’m not that kind of person: i have to be very angry to be rude to someone, and even then i often berate myself for it later.

So i’m not quite sure how i would respond. Maybe “thankyou very much” is a cop-out, but for someone who you don’t know well, perhaps someone who has indirect power over you (e.g. the boss’s wife), perhaps someone who you might never see again… maybe its the easier way out. Is there any shame in taking that easier route?

“I am not duty bound to teach. I am not obliged to spend my life answering inappropriate questions or confronting ignorance whenever it arises.”

Words to remember, for me, at least.

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Previous year’s entries on B.A.D.D.: 2008’s I don’t suffer from disabilism, B.A.D.D. – the best of and 2007’s prejudice from your own kind.