Thursday, 28 August 2008

It Comes and It Goes…

A weekend playing hide 'n seek with the sun meant a slower pace, very useful for recuperation but not so good for the coffers.

A bright spot was the arrival of some new Otter Ferry postcards specially made for us. Although the photographer had a grey and cloudy day, she managed to make this little spot look peaceful and atmospheric.

They have been well received by customers and the first batch has almost sold out – always a good sign.

The patient is taking it easy, needing occasional reminders to not take the stairs two at a time and only having to be dragged from the workshop once ;◦) Although this has not been our first experience of cardiac crisis (in 1994 M had an Angioplasty), we certainly hope and pray it will be the last. To this end, we have wound down the work a bit and adjusted diet and exercise once again and I was shocked to see how far away from the old guidelines we had strayed.

Living out here we should have slowed down a lot, but like workaholics everywhere, we dived right in concentrating on opening the shop, setting up the carpentry workshop, trying to manage Internet sales, all spare time spent finding interesting stock. Since last Friday when time stood still, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about quality of life; old wisdoms that previous generations lived by; the worsening economy, the lack of time, the erasure of basic survival skills (like being able to cook wholesome food) and above all, the lack of joy in our daily lives. Some of the new links lead to web pages written by women who have found a quieter, more considered way of life and found great satisfaction along with it. And I suppose this means that I’m still on a journey, albeit a detour on the way as the destination shifts and changes. A destination glimpsed now and again…the oasis through the sandstorm…

Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all.

~Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Homecoming Heroes (ermmm, Heroines?)

Fortunately the empty spaces here didn’t stay that way for long before M was back; realising that anxiety about being so far away was causing his patient much distress, M’s cardiologist sent him home for rest and recovery (and a bit of Olympic fever).

The wonders of modern medicine are such that some clots and blockages can be busted from the outside in and the injections that left such impressive bruises on M’s abdomen, were the weapons of this battle. The blockage, leaving its permanent mark on his ECG from Friday onwards, was gone by Saturday night and he was ready to come home! This doesn’t mean that the war is won; tests and specialists appointments are going to become part of our lives for the foreseeable future not to mention a concentrated re-commitment to diet and exercise.

Getting the man home from the hospital presented a new set of problems neatly solved by a dear friend and neighbour. Having spent most of Saturday helping a very spaced-out me (after four hours restless sleep) to manage the shop and do some dreary chores, she was quick to spot that I was in no condition to drive and volunteered to get me back over the water to take some of M’s things to him. When I got the call that he was being discharged, a stop at a supermarket was arranged so that I could get essential supplies.

And as if that wasn’t enough, this good Samaritan arrived to pick me up, bearing a freshly baked quiche for our supper!

A neighbour, a friend, a very special person…Thank you from us both.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

~ Winston Churchill

Sunday, 17 August 2008

In A Heartbeat…

It was a beautiful morning…enough clouds for coolness and the promise of lots sunshine later. Warm and slightly humid with a gentle breeze, just enough to keep the midges at bay, perfect!

Community Ladies coffee morning, only a few ladies, summer has the community working hard and we only catch up now and again, but we could sit outside!

Five young men having breakfast on the beach, kayaks drawn up on the sand, plates of scones and banana loaf, lattes and cappuccinos fill the table.

A reporter from the local paper looking for a story, catching M and I as we bustle past with coffee and pots of tea, some quick pictures, then we’re off again.

Customers in and out, quick sales - a book here, some wine glasses there – good weather means good business.

A lovely busy morning…

As we wave goodbye to the last departing guest and settle into the lull over lunchtime, M says he’s just going to sit down for a few minutes. The man has been going all morning, we both have but he has done double duty so that I could grab a quick cup with the ladies before they left. I’m making us a lunch snack when I hear him on the phone and something makes me stop what I’m doing and go through to the office…my husband is sitting there, his normal healthy colour now a grey shade of putty and he’s wet, sweat sticking to his brow and dark patches on his shirt!

He’s already called the doctor and taken the spray kept for such emergencies. I race to close the shop – no time to bring in chairs and tables, plants and tools, just the signs and lock the door…. a “gone to the doctor” sign for afternoon customers hurriedly taped to the glass. Into the car and we’re off – in this remote part of Scotland, it can take an ambulance two hours to reach you, better to get to the surgery half an hour away and wait for the paramedics there!

The pain is getting worse, he can’t talk, just concentrating on every bend of this road we now know so well, thirty minutes might as well be three hundred minutes, who knew the road was so long, but we make it. At the surgery, oxygen mask on, drugs are given, needles put in, and ECG read, the ambulance comes, more drugs and finally the pain is down enough to move him – the paramedics strap him in, I climb in beside him and we’re off on the long, winding, single track road to the nearest town to what our paramedics call a cottage hospital. When did this road get so long, so bumpy? The paramedic is great, making sure M’s stable and quietly (calmly) chatting to us both about everyday things all the while keeping an eagle eye on the machines monitoring blood pressure and heart rate, but the oxygen and the drugs are doing the work and the pain is manageable now. Into Emergency at the hospital but they won’t keep him; another ambulance is summoned and we’re off to the ferry across the Clyde to the big hospital. Four hours after the first phone call, my precious husband is finally admitted to the intensive cardiac care unit…

Hours later I’m in a taxi racing to catch the last ferry back. M is in a small ward with professionals at beck and call, resting and mercifully stable. Three hours later, (12.35am) when I finally get home and call the ward, he’s sleeping…

Lives are changed; turned around, lost in a heartbeat…I’m so grateful mine remains much the same. Oh, there will be changes to be sure…but nothing we can’t handle because we’ll be changing together…

So much to be grateful for...

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


Summer 2008…in this northern hemisphere, a season of contrasts, brilliant sunshine, sparkling water, people everywhere. Days so busy we work ‘til we’re dropping – bake, clean, serve, smile – rinse, repeat. Amazing how this tiny patch of Scotland attracts visitors from all over, American, Canadian, Dutch, French, German, South African…and of course the Scots themselves, all out and about, sharing in this special summer magic. Never too hot in the glorious sun, a breeze off the sparkling water and so they come in cars and boats, on motorcycles and bicycles, on foot, mostly on holiday, mostly happy!

But these sunny days are special, above all rare, leaving us greedy for more; for every day of sunshine, a little rain must fall and fall it does. Precipitation here is a creative concept – how many ways does water have to fall? Come to the Highlands to find out. There are the heavy, straight-down downpours of a summer storm, the gossamer drizzle of low-lying clouds, the gentle, steady rain that settles in for days and many combinations in between. The quieter pace of wet weather has a profound impact on the amount of traffic we see in our little shop where six friendly folk can have cappuccinos in cosy comfort but seven is a crowd.

On those wonderful days – dry enough to put the tables and chairs outside – the parade of interesting boats up and down the loch adds to the already spectacular scenery. The photos show some of the local traffic, keeping M and his camera busy in the last month or two.

This is The Waverly, a regular sight in the summertime. Last year I wrote a little bit about the history of the Clyde Steamers and their long tradition. You can read that story here.

~~~ Absolute tranquility at the end of a summer day... ~~~


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