Family Zoo

Family Zoo

0 comment Thursday, 17 April 2014 |
Sprog off to his dad's today, and school begins on Monday. Excuse my WHOOHOO moment, but that was a very very long two weeks! I've got a lot on for the day so a quick update and photo of my toms and squash plants which, hopefully, I can get out into the garden in two weeks.
LATER:
The reseeding did not go ideally; even though I used my compost, some of the builder's sand (buckets of the stuff from the front, then up the stairs, then down the stairs, rinse, repeat) and even pulled some soil down from the back, for the most part there's just a bunch of seed lying about, barely covered. The birds are eyeing it, but my method is to put just too much seed down for them to possibly eat, and a few shopping bags to rustle and maybe scare them off. And water. Lots of water. By hand, I'm afraid as I don't have a hose, but basically whenever I go outside I water it, and that seems to be doing the trick.
The brutal truth is I need a LOT more soil to do it properly, but I just don't have it right now. I have added this to the petition to Gardening for Disabled trust as we're easily talking in the tonne-range for dirt at this point, and I don't drive (not to mention I don't have a few hundred quid lying about spare for the stuff!). However, it's sort of necessary as this is not the sort of soil you can grow anything in. I didn't even bother seeding the lawn near the fence as it's nearly all flint. I guess that's where the beds can go!
Still, I'll keep watering and hope that at least some of the seed will take. And then have a very very long, hot bath as I've done myself in.

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0 comment Wednesday, 16 April 2014 |
An autism tangent:
The thing which really makes dealing with a child with autism so incredibly difficult is the unpredictable factor. Life by its very nature isn't predictable - accidents happen, things change, people evolve. To the child with autism, these are mountains, even if they're molehills - a familiar person getting a haircut, a chair moved to another side of the room, are changes which can cause a meltdown. When the familiar becomes unfamiliar, it is frightening, and the results can be catastrophic.
My son was watching his favourite show and I was cooking sausages on my very dodgy grill - I have problems with a lot of the supplied appliances in this house as it seems most of the house is a DIY/bodge job. I've had to be careful with my cooking, but this morning I was distracted, and the grill managed to catch alight - and in such a way that flames were soon licking up the face of the oven toward the paste-board cabinet above.
Now, we've gone through Fireman Sam videos and safety things with sprog before, so I felt confident that I could get him out of the house. I told my son to get outside - and enforced it with "just like Fireman Sam."
But my son, with no sense of alarm, called back "No, I'm watching my movie!"
I couldn't believe it, but I kept trying to urge him outside as the house was now filling with smoke, and he was refusing. There was no time to argue, but he was arguing with me. He didn't want to leave his movie. I bodily dragged him out of his chair and away from the laptop, and he started screaming while I grabbed his wellies - he insisted I go back and pause it so he could watch it later (an uninterrupted movie, even if it's on DVD and easy to start over or rewind, is another of my son's issues). I had to propel him out of the house, still yelling about his movie and needing to watch it, even while we were both coughing. I managed to slam the oven door shut as we passed and then shut the door behind us.
Even when he was outside, he kept trying to get back in - the thought of his movie playing without him there to watch it took precedence over the fire, and he panicked, still fighting me to get indoors. I was actually trying to figure out how in the world I was going to try and deal with the fire and my son at the same time, and was on the point of yelling for my neighbours (who were probably wondering what all the fuss was) when I realised the smoke had slowed considerably and I couldn't see any fire through the window.
I managed to get my son calmed down and ventured inside (stupid I know). The fire was out - my closing the oven door had at least managed to cut the oxygen and it had burned itself out. I opened windows and aired the place out best I could, but even outside, my son was still yelling for his movie. The fire meant nothing - or at least didn't seem to mean anything. I was scared and angry that he could be so fixated on something so trivial, but after calming my own nerves, I realised that this was just Sprog's own panic-behaviour mechanism. He had fixated on the movie - as he will often fixate on something completely trivial - when the world has overloaded his mind and he can't get to grips with it. Like a needle of a record player stuck in a scratched groove (anyone remember records?), he literally cannot think himself out, but just goes over the same thing, over and over and over. I sent him to his room - and he didn't want to go, he never does - but that's one way of resetting his sensory overload by sending him somewhere quiet and familiar.
He came down after ten minutes, shaky and scared, and I tried to talk to him about the emergency - but again, it wasn't getting through. He still only cared about getting back to his movie. So; inspiration. I told him if there was ever an emergency, he was to go nextdoor - he knows W pretty well and she's familiar with his behaviour. I told him to go to her house if there was a fire or trouble. He wanted to question getting me or getting Ludo and I told him no, when I say "trouble" he needed to run right away. We will have to practice some drills with that - I will have to give her a checklist of things to do to calm him. But it will work, I hope.
I've been raising and working with my son all the years of his life, and I have rescued him out of various dangerous situations that he didn't realise were a threat. The scariest thing about autism is, just when you think you have all the bases covered, you realise that you don't. I've got autism cards for sprog to show to people in town if he gets lost, I have emergency numbers distributed round for people to call if they see my son wandering. I thought I had the fire thing covered, and emergency-999. But I couldn't possibly have forseen that if a movie was playing, my son would rather stay and risk death than leave it. Running to W's house, he might insist he has to have a certain pair of shoes before he'll go. And he will do what he always does when I tell him to do something that disrupts - argue and say no, even when there's no time. So I now have to completely reconstruct a new plan, from the ground up, taking into account that I can never know how my son will react, and yet, if I want to keep him safe, I have to construct simple, easy to enforce concepts - and then just hope to all the gods it actually works.
Life itself is pretty unpredictable, but autism...good gods, what a crapshoot.

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0 comment |
The weather is turning decidedly toward winter now; it's been cold and blustery and no longer the Indian Summer type stuff - this gets right into your bones and stays there. I've been making fewer and fewer trips outside as a result, but today I managed to bundle up a bit and head outside to check and see if the uppermost apples on the tree fell in all the wind, and sure enough they had.
I've been wanting to make Dorset Apple Cake for a while now but most of the recipes I've seen make something a bit too dense cakewise. Finally found something that would fit the bill and diced up both apple and pears I had lying about and into the oven it has gone.
However, it also occured to me that I was out of bread, and whilst I'm almost out of spelt flour as well, I did have some light pastry flour (not quite the same really). Still, a loaf of something breadish is better than none, so that went on the rise whilst I mixed the cake.
And then...well, I don't know how I got it into my head, but as I rummaged around for cake supplies, I realised I had several leftover pieces of baking chocolate. My brain said "cookies!" and I said "Sure, why not, may as well while the oven is on."
So, with the spicy bean soup with local sausage is now finished simmering (I put it on earlier this morning) the bread is done and cooling under my handmade teatowel, the biscuits are in the final stages of being baked and the cake is cooking away in my cast iron skillet. It will be time to put the kettle on and sample the wares, as it were.
This is something I am thankful to have the time and energy to do. The past month and a half hasn't been kind (I was fighting yet a second infection) and my energy level is at an all-time low. Today was the first time since late September I felt up to doing anything more than lying on the daybed and stare out at the world.
When times are uncertain and we're all being told to buck up and tighten our belts, we're all in this together, blah-de-blah, I have looked at how my life is currently managed and what I can do to improve it. There are benefits I haven't bothered claiming, but I will be doing as I'd rather get on them now than wait until they absolutely tell me "no". The strange thing is, my finances on paper look absolutely a mess - I live on approximately �10,000 a year, well below poverty line, and this is supposed to cover two people.
By all rights, that belt of mine is about as tight as it will go, however I'm confident I can manage. I know how to cook from scratch and make delicious meals, make clothes and crochet handwarmers for my son, plant a vegetable garden. The stockpile is pretty well sorted, with a few tweaks and upping a few things - we were frozen into our homes around mid-December and my son missed out on a load of school, so I'm prepping for the possibility again. I had stockpiled last year but I'm doing even more of it this time round, expanding my repertoire of recipes, trying new things and introducing sprog to them as well in the hopes he'll approve. Currently about 50/50 on that but I'm happy with that percentage.
The house smells absolutely lovely right now, and I have bread for toast in the morning, biscuits for sprog's after-school snacktime, some cake I can freeze whenever I have a bit of a need for something sweetish, and some very nice bean soup in a bowl close to hand. It's not all brilliant of course - my long-taped glasses finally gave up the ghost today and I'm trying to figure out when I'll get the money to replace them, and I'll have to spend everything I saved being self-sufficient today on a taxi to and from sprog's swimming lessons as I can no longer stand long enough for the bus to get us there and back. But I'm feeling better than I was, and whatever challenges life has in store, I've done enough surviving on next-to-nothing that I don't fear for either sproggo or myself.
It's a good day.

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0 comment Tuesday, 15 April 2014 |
Yes, I'm ill. Again. Child is in London being babysat but some unemployed bloke with no credentials - but it's either that or he'd have to be in care for a few days. Nothing else for it as I have been struggling to breathe and had to call an out of hours doctor last night to give me treatment as I couldn't even stand.
So, recovering. Again. Will be back when I can manage.

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0 comment Monday, 14 April 2014 |
I am not a huge daffodil fan, I readily admit (I don't really like yellow - maybe that's it) but I do have to say I am overjoyed to see daffodils everywhere right now. Spring is springing! I'm overjoyed and watching eagerly as bulbs appear all over the garden and bluebells force their way up through the soil. The fruit trees are budding away and while they're a bit behind due to microclimate, they're still making a showing. The strawberries in my tubs are starting to show some interest in growing as well and everything is coming up and getting into Doin' the Spring Thang.
The cats have all been feeling it as well and my garden lately has been swarming with cats all looking to expand their territory. I have been allowing the three lads outside more and more often for longer periods in order to establish themselves in the grand feline scheme-o-things; no I have no idea how it works but they seem to, and while there have been some stares, hisses, standoffs and tense moments where all three of the boys have disappeared entirely for a while, they come back looking smug, tails high and demanding lunch.
Today is so amazing-gorgeous out there that I have decided we'll hook up the garden hose and child can honour the hallowed tradition of Watering the Plants; he's been asking for a few weeks now and I have put it off as when Sprog waters plants, he also waters himself, the trees, the laundry next door, the sky, and whatever else he can reach, so it needed to be a decent day where he wouldn't freeze!
I've planted the first of the spuds in their growbags and realise I really need to get some more topsoil. The tomatoes, chilies and squash seed are now getting busy to germinating indoors and I'm hardening off the cuttings of the osteospermums I took last year. They're not very robust but if last year was any indication that won't be a problem - they'll grow like mad regardless! Marigolds are also hardening off outside and I'll chose a spot for them to carry on and reseed in a pot or two.
As a matter of fact I have a load of pots at the moment, and very few of them have anything in them! This must be remedied and I think there's a garden centre trip in my near future.
It's all looking like spring is finally here, and soon will be the first mow of the garden, the first picked salad, and the first nicely chilled cider with an al-fresco lunch for the first time.

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