Friday, 6 January 2012

Pollyanna says...

I read enough blogs to know that many bloggers like to remind themselves regularly that they have reasons to be cheerful/ grateful/thankful, and the more I read the more I like this positive attitude. 
I watched the film Pollyanna over the Christmas period (a fairly recent UK TV version) and found myself smiling through a lot of it, mainly because it’s the teasing name by which I refer to my oldest and closest friend, Michèle – about whom much has been written (and photographed) on this blog.  She’s relentlessly cheerful and positive, even driving me to grumble occasionally that she can just leave me alone to be grumpy once in a while.  And yet… right now she has a very big reason to be cheerful and thankful for the fact that she’s relentlessly cheerful and thankful, as I’ll tell you.
My reasons to be positive right now are:
1.   My blog.  I’m loving every minute I write in it, whether it’s a story or a chatty post.  I’m grateful that it’s read from time to time, and apologise to those who find my posts too long or too full of unnecessary information.  The object is not to improve the stats, but to acquire readers who like what I write, or who agree with what I say, or enjoy the pictures I upload.  Even if it takes years. 

The lovely honeysuckle painting in the header is being used with the permission of the artist, Ann Harrison-Ray, for which I thank her very much.  (Do take some time to browse through the lovely pictures on her site.)   I’m grateful that Joyful of Snap That and her brother in Canada have brought to life the image I had in my head about the blog’s new look.  I’m delighted with what they did, and I thank them warmly for the time they spent on it.  A thank you goes too to Rahim Shabbir here in Bristol for making it all appear on the screen.  He works in IT here at the hospital, has enjoyed getting involved, and hopes to further his knowledge of working with blog design.
2. I have for some time been involved in another project which has nothing to do with the blog – transcribing the letters of Aunt Winifred, a great aunt who travelled to Argentina in 1912 and stayed there till 1919.  During that time she wrote weekly letters home to her family in Oxford, commenting about the events of World War I, her daughters, the books she read, the world around her, and her beautiful garden.  She was also an instinctive and gifted sketch artist, so her letters abound with amusing little drawings.  
Sadly, they had to return to England in 1919 when her husband was drowned in a river which was in flood after heavy rains, dragging rocks and uprooting trees in its wake.  He had been hurrying back home to his wife and babies riding on horseback by night and did not realise the danger posed by the storm. The detritus killed his horse too. 
One of her two daughters, now in her nineties, asked me to make the letters up into a book, and over the holidays I’ve had the most absorbing time uploading them onto, with Aunt Winifred’s scanned sketches, some photographs and notes from the web on the events to which she refers, and about the books she read over those years.  It’s reached 220 pages, and I’m so looking forward to handing over to her daughter the finished product – who thinks I’m going to bind typed pages together, and has no idea that one can self-publish to quite a high standard.  I know I’ve said it before, but it’s the best present you could give anybody.  I’ll take pictures of it for the blog when it’s finished.
3.  New camera.  I’m a spoiled brat and no mistake.  My partner John has given me a new digital camera for Christmas, a big step up from my current one.  It has a video facility, and I can’t wait to start practising with it, and with the macro lens which is on its way.  The camera is said to be particularly good for sports shots requiring very fast shutter speeds.  I’ll see if I can make the cats streak across the lawn...
4.  Great Nephew.  He is now a two and a half year-old little boy who is train mad.  His Gorgeousness jumps about with delight when he is taken to a railway station, and he nearly swooned recently when it was arranged that a train driver should wave at him from his cabin while the train was stationary.  He was standing on his grandfather’s lap at the window of the car and said doting relative reports that he had to hang on to him tight or he would have fallen out in his excitement.  It was wonderful to catch up with him just before Christmas, particularly as it was obviously his first Christmas of absorbing the magic.  Look at this picture taken by my niece...

5.  Food consumption over Christmas.  I was so engrossed with my aunt’s letters that I hardly stuck my nose out the door for nearly two weeks, and I certainly couldn’t be bothered to brave the rainy, windy elements to go out in the car looking for chocolate.  The distraction factor also played its part, and consequently I didn’t eat much over the period, except of course on Christmas Day.  Strangely, the less I ate the more restricted I felt, and I had to go very carefully anyway.  I’ve lost a few pounds – nothing dramatic, but I’m pleased to learn that when distracted by other issues my brain seems to stop nagging me for the pleasure foods I normally crave.  I loved being at home, and I strongly feel that the day I retire I shall gradually lose weight naturally.  With the help of the band of course.

I leave the most important – and the best - to the last:-
6.  Selina.  Michèle’s younger daughter Selina is 25, and last October she was involved in a very serious car accident near her home in Argentina, as she was on her way to college.  It was a head-on collision, and by a miracle the driver of the other car walked away without a scratch.  Selina however suffered multiple injuries and remained in a coma.  
The reaction among those who knew and cared about her was dramatic.  Her three brothers and sister rallied round, and with her parents almost set up camp in the canteen of the hospital in Buenos Aires to which she had been taken.  For the first few days there were a couple of hundred people milling about the hospital, all waiting for news, as one painful life-saving operation after another was performed upon the young girl.  Michèle and her older daughter Nicole (my god daughter) remained by her bedside.  
I asked Michèle in a phonecall whether the crowds of visitors and well-wishers were unintentionally adding to the stress, and she replied that on the contrary, they were buoying her up and keeping her going throughout the nightmare.  Only two people were allowed with the patient at any one time, so the canteen had to suffice.  But they came and stayed for many hours, they prayed and showered affection and support on the family or just kept them company, while Nicole kept us all updated on FaceBook.  
When Selina had undergone the surgical interventions required for her recovery, she was moved to a rehabilitation centre in early December, and since then the task has begun in earnest to bring her out of her coma.   The signs of recovery are all there, and she is gradually responding more, particularly in the last few days.  
Loyally supported by Nicole, Michèle has been everybody’s rock.  The rehabilitation centre’s rules are that a family member lives with the patient 24 hours a day to aid with recovery, and she has being singing to Selina, reading her stories and taking her around the grounds in a wheelchair several times a day.  The family made her birthday in November a special day with birthday cake and guitar singing, and in December they decorated her room with a Christmas tree. 

Her eyes are open; they can tell that she perceives what is going on around her, and not for a minute has my wonderful friend doubted that the recovery is going to happen.  Michèle is like an express train going at full speed hardly looking left or right, and yet she’s aware of the possible difficulties looming ahead.  She’s keeping a journal of the extraordinary journey on which they all find themselves, and marvels at the qualities this event has brought out in herself and those around her.   A true modern day Pollyanna.  

God bless Michèle, Nicole – and specially Selina.
Selina in 2011, by photographer unknown


Photo Finish -
from Lonicera's non-digital archive

Andes foothills in Salta

La Boca, Buenos Aires

Entre Ríos





Joyful said...

Thank you Caroline for mentioning my brother and I. I'm very happy that you enjoy your new blog look.

I can see you have been so very busy over the holiday too with worthwhile projects and family and friends. Your little nephew is so adorable and I love the innocent expression of wonder on his face. I pray for Selina's speedy rehabilitation and for continued strength for her family. All these issues do tend to take their toll but it helps to remain as positive as possible.

Finally, I'm so glad you've got a brand new camera. All of your photos are wonderful and so clear. I can only imagine what magic you will conjure up for us with your new found toy. Enjoy!

OneStonedCrow said...

Beautiful!!! - I love the new look of your blog - it's stunning and well done to all involved in it's design ..

What a great post too Caroline - really inspiring for this jaded old soul ...

My thoughts are now with Selina - please keep us updated on her progress.

Tina said...

Wow...I have fallen behind but just did a big catch up on your latest posts. I love you new look. I love Pollyanna (but always watched the old disney version-I have not seen or heard abut a new one).

Congrats on the Christmas prezzie and I hope we get to see many lovely pics from it.

Best wishes for the recovery of your family friend and that your God daughter stays strong for her sister and close family. I have been helping my aunt and uncle out in a similar situation these last several months and know how exhausting the waiting, worrying and ups and downs can be. Do keep us updated and hugs from this side of the pond for you and your friends in Argentina.


Lonicera said...

Thanks Penny! And for the good wishes. I'm still getting used to the new camera, which is substantially heavier than my previous one. So many fun things to do... if only I didn't have to go to work!

Lonicera said...

Thanks Graham - comment much appreciated (Penny take a bow!). I'll update about Selina from time to time. Yesterday was three months since her accident.

Lonicera said...

Thanks Tina - being a Hayley Mills fan I adored the original version of Pollyanna. This TV version was more down to earth, and the child not as cute, but still very believable.

Matvi. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matvi. said...

Hello, Caroline.
I've been somewhat away from blogging, but it's always great coming back to your site.
Selina will recover, I´m sure.
Aun Winifred´s letters must be quite a delight to read, please post some of that material. Many of your followers would be grateful if you do.
Un abrazo patagón.

Lonicera said...

Thank you Matvi! Actually, I miss your posts and old photographs... I hope you'll catch up on your blog soon.

Zanna said...

About to go off and read your post but your comment about the bog roll made me laugh out loud! If you look closely I've actually got the menu in my hands - I can't remember what that roll in the middle of the table was - it was either tear off napkins or tear off placemats - but I admit it does look a bit like a bog roll - I'd never noticed that when I picked the picture. Zxxx

Lonicera said...

Zanna - you're a good sport!!

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