It’s to not myself I am referring but my next-door neighbour. If my readers will remember I mentioned she had been taken to hospital in an emergency after she had difficulty in breathing. She had been and still does rely on her oxygen bottles else she would die. Her condition has been brought about by smoking and not being able to desist after being repeatedly told by her doctor to stop. She is I think around 81 years of age. After being informed she would be coming home then later told she would have to stay in hospital and later still that she would have to spend the rest of her days in a care home. Finally on Monday last (4 th) she came home late in the afternoon. E and I didn’t pay her a visit until the following day that is after she had settled in. Though she is at home she receives palliative care and is visited daily by care workers and a district nurse who visits less frequently. E and I visited her again today, that is Sunday as I write. She is upbeat about her situation and for someone who is seriously ill she is as lively as ever. Physically she has lost quite a lot of weight though she wasn’t well-built in any case beforehand. Whilst we talked with her she kept losing her breath even though she had her oxygen supply. Any exertion, even slight and she is gasping for air. It is a sad affair but little more can be done for her other than what she receives. She is always happy to see us though and we keep her laughing and in good spirit. Obviously we help in any way we can. She hinted that she would like the tv up on the wall so I told her I would fit a shelf to take it. Buying a special wall bracket, if one could be purchased for that tv would be too expensive and not worth it. I will also help her son to remove the old and faulty built-in fridge/freezer so we can install the replacement unit. Both jobs are simple and shouldn’t take long to do. E and I will continue to keep an eye on her and help as we are able.
….and tomorrow a new month. I write this on the last day of April. It is Monday and the start of a week of unknowns. Despite not having any definite plan for the day I was very busy. I had ordered clothing, floor paint and a cordless vacuum cleaner but only one of those was scheduled for delivery that day, the vacuum cleaner. I wanted the paint delivering as soon as possible so that I could finish the cellar storage room project. As I write this I still have no idea when it will arrive. The clothing should be here within the next couple of days. There was a small amount of painting to do around the door on the inside of the store-room which was the first thing I did. Following that I went into the front garden and using a watering can and soluble plant food I fed all the plants, dug out weeds then swept the pathways. It was approaching lunchtime when that was done so I stopped work and went indoors just in time to unpack and assemble the new vacuum cleaner. I am considering purchasing another for use on the upper floors but will see how this one performs first. After lunch I made myself busy by first of all sweeping up the leaves, lots of them, from the paths in the rear garden then mowing the lawn. Next, I got out the hoe and gave the flowerbeds a make-over removing the weeds. It was late afternoon when I had finished and I spent an hour in the sunshine relaxing on the patio. When I returned indoors our next-door neighbour’s son called to update us on his mom’s condition. Late on Sunday afternoon she had been rushed to hospital with a collapsed lung and could hardly breathe. She has advanced emphysema and relies on her oxygen bottles to get through the day. The prognosis wasn’t good and the doctors thought she wouldn’t survive. Her son was calling to let us know that she had perked-up somewhat and could possibly return home. She is at death’s door and the doctors practically indicated that so even if she can return home she would need palliative care. For the moment she remains in hospital. We invited our neighbour’s son inside for a chat and he stayed awhile. That was basically my day and I was tired after it all.
When we talk about the thin end of a wedge we are usually referring to the start of something big. Sometimes those things may be good and sometimes they may not. The wedge I am referring to is a good one, the project I have been engaged with over the last few weeks, the gym room. I am now at the thick end of that wedge where it all comes together as a finished work. There is still more to do but the major part of the work at least is over. It is now Tuesday 20 th and this morning I was busy at it again. I wanted to paint the doors of the boiler cupboard in the red colour we had chosen for the woodwork in the room. This I did first of all and I was going to give them another coat later in the day to finish that part of the work but I didn’t get around to doing that on the day. While the paint was drying I set about clearing out the room cupboard and began working on the inside of it. First of all I had to insert a brick in the wall where there had been a hole. I could feel a draught coming from the wall’s cavity. I cut the brick and mixed some mortar with which to set it in the hole (Top right beneath and above new ceiling in picture below). Next task was to remove the loose plaster from the exposed laths of the cupboard ceiling and tidy up the mess. Finally I was able to construct a false wooden ceiling making the cupboard ready for a few coats of paint.
E had been to the hospital for treatment and returned just as I was finishing the work. I had agreed to pay for her computer repairs so I got changed and we drove down to the shop to collect it. By now it was approaching one-thirty so I decided we might dine out. E of course never declines such offers so we drove to a carvery and had a full-sized meal. On our return home we called in to see our neighbour who is chronically ill with emphysema. She struggles to breath at times and has oxygen cylinders to hand at home. She was happy so see us and grateful for the visit. As far as my working day was concerned it was finished but Wednesday beckoned!
I wrote yesterday about our neighbour’s panic attack after she had discovered her dog had died. She doesn’t enjoy good health and is reliant upon her oxygen bottles else struggles to breathe some of the time. E and I were concerned that she was over-stressed but she finally calmed down whilst we were there. Today, Wednesday I called in to see her after I had earlier phoned to see if she was alright. Thankfully she had settled down and was her usual self. I had been exercising on the gym equipment soon after getting out of bed but at that time it was too early to call next door to check upon her. After my breakfast late in the morning I decided to sort out what pieces of electrical equipment I had in stock with which to build the circuit for the garage light project I have been mentioning in previous posts. Finally I was able to gather enough bits and bobs to make progress…..It always seems the way when searching for the right parts I have some of them but not all of them. I then find I have other suitable parts but not all of them are usable with the first lot. An example would be a reed switch which is only suitable in low-voltage situations., as here… That means a transformer is required and also a low-voltage relay. A low-voltage relay would use an alternating current and could be used directly with the transformer, if I had a suitable relay. I found I had a low-voltage relay which uses direct current and therefore added to the transformer I needed a rectifier too! Fortunately I did possess all the parts necessary after salvaging them from redundant electrical gear I had. I even found a suitable box in which to install them, see picture above. I left off working on the project as it was by now lunch time and after lunch I had some gardening work to do. First of all I had to sweep up more leaves again and it was then I began to notice montbretia and bluebells here and there in the flowerbeds. Once again I set about digging them out. This is an ongoing task. Most were removed early last year but I always knew there would be more appearing for a time.
On Monday evening I set my alarm to rise early on Tuesday morning and went to bed but not feeling as tired as I might. I use my mobile phones’ alarm feature having not had an alarm clock for many years. I didn’t invest in a new clock when the old one gave up the ghost because by then I had a mobile phone.
Anyway I found it very difficult to get to sleep even though I had been busy during the day but did manage a few though interrupted hours. As usual for me I awoke fifteen minutes before the alarm was due to go off so I cancelled the alarm and arose shortly afterward. I didn’t fall into the trap of going back to sleep because it was prayer time and I had to be up anyway. I would be taking the van in for its MOT Test at eight-thirty. Again, as is usual for me I arrived fifteen minutes beforehand. I had asked E if she would pick me up soon after eight-thirty but on my arrival I was informed that I could wait as they would have the test completed within the hour. I phoned E to let her know she could remain at home. It was just as well I phoned when I did because she was about to exit the front door. The van passed the examination and I was soon driving back home. Normally I would have gone for a walk but decided to take a break instead. I had other things to do anyway. In the afternoon I spent some time dismantling an alarm unit I had manufactured many years ago in order to salvage some of its internal components. I had been thinking of getting to grips with the garage door project to automatically switch on the light (see older posts). Having finally come up with a practical solution I needed to source the components. By late afternoon I took a break from that and watched some television, that is I watched a program on BBC iPlayer which I had previously missed. About three-quarters of the way through E came downstairs in a bit of a panic and asked if I could go next door with her. Something had happened regarding our neighbour and my first instinct was that she was in desperate need of help. She has been suffering with emphysema for a couple of years and has to use an oxygen bottle several times during the day. She is very poorly. We were there in minutes. Our neighbour was in a state of panic too and she could hardly breathe. As we have a key to her house door we were able to enter without her having to let us in. She was immensely distraught. We immediately set about calming her down and getting her to use the oxygen cylinder. After a few minutes we were able to find out what the problem was. She struggled to tell us that she had found her dog had died two hours earlier and she hadn’t noticed. Her son had already taken the animal to the local vet. Rigour mortise had already set in. He arrived back home a half-hour later and we chatted a while before we returned home. Thankfully this time our neighbour was alright.
So what was I going to do on Monday? It was only a matter of a few months ago when I would be off somewhere doing an electrical job on a Monday morning. Now I can please myself but I have set myself a routine nevertheless, a routine to keep me in good health through exercising. Although I did exercise beforehand I had to fit that in between my work schedules, now it is the other way round, I exercise first then do whatever needs doing later. After getting dressed in my sport’s clothes I spent thirty minutes on the treadmill which I now do every second day and occasionally on other days. Likewise, if I take a long walk, which I do also every second day, I still take short walks on other days too sometimes. I almost never take a long walk if I have spent time rigorously working out on the treadmill. The plan on Monday was to use the treadmill and perhaps take a short walk in the afternoon but things didn’t quite work out that way. Having changed into normal clothing for the rest of the day I decided to remove a faulty floodlight on the rear wall of the house and replace it with another further along the wall which too often was affected by the operation of the house boiler. Although it was distant from the exhaust of the boiler it would still be triggered to switch on sometimes so I thought it best to remove it altogether. There are still four remaining floodlights on the rear of the house which is adequate. I used an old ladder to do the work of removing the good floodlight but used one section of a much lighter aluminium ladder to do the rest of the work. The first ladder, which is constructed of galvanised steel, was far too heavy a ladder for general use and I wanted to be rid of it. I did that just after lunch. Another section of the same ladder is still hanging in the garage (see picture, it has yellow and white industrial bags stored on it) and I will get rid of that next time I visit the tip. When the electrical work was finished I got the hacksaw and chopped the steel ladder into two pieces so that it would fit on top of the van. I fixed them to the roof rack and then filled the van with other items we were getting rid of, a gents bicycle (in good condition), an exercise bike (faulty), an old computer screen, two printers, an old electric drill and the tray from my neighbour’s faulty dishwasher. I took the gents cycle to The Salvation Army as it deserved a new owner being as it was in good condition. They took it from me.
I was about to go indoors for lunch when my neighbour called and asked if I could disconnect her faulty dishwasher as she was getting a new one later in the week. I was dressed in my overalls so took the opportunity to do the job then. It took me ages to remove the old washer from beneath the worktop as she had an old carpet on the floor which couldn’t be removed. Finally I got it out and removed the cable, the drain hose and the water supply pipe. However the valve controlling the supply water was faulty and I had to replace it temporarily so the water supply to the house could be maintained. She would use a plumber to install the new appliance. I took the faulty machine outside ready for collection but I wanted to see if parts of the tray could be used as spares for our own dishwasher. Unfortunately they couldn’t so that’s how it ended up in the back of my van ready for the tip. By the time I had returned from disposing the items it was approaching four in the afternoon. I’d had enough for one day.
Have you got good neighbours? Are you on good terms with them? Do you help them when they are in difficulties and need some help? The world would be a better place if we truly loved our neighbour, it is a commandment but there are times when our neighbours make it hard for us that we just make ourselves scarce sometimes. I have a neighbour who often asks if I can help with one thing or another. Usually I just go and do it, in fact I never refuse unless I am genuinely unavailable. My neighbour is a widow, she is around 80 years of age and suffers with emphysema so is incapable of doing many things. She does have a middle-aged son living with her who is long-since separated from his girlfriend but he is incapable too, so he says and in fact I believe him. He is an inspector in the police force and that is about all he is capable of doing and that by his own admission. Whilst his mom is alive I am only too glad to help her but I will be reluctant to remain available once she passes away except for emergencies. He I am afraid is going to have to dig into his pockets and pay someone else do it himself when things need attention. I am not getting any younger and though I will always lend a hand when there is a real need I refuse to be the neighbour who will jump at the chance to fix something for those who won’t help themselves. Last year my neighbour had a new bathroom fitted but couldn’t properly figure out how to use the electric shower and called the plumber several times to check it out. He kept telling her that there was nothing wrong with the shower and indeed there wasn’t. Not satisfied with the plumber’s assessment she asked if I could check it out. There wasn’t a thing wrong with it but I talked them both through the process of how the shower actually works. Well twice again I was called and again found nothing wrong and at the same time showed them how to use the shower describing what to do under certain circumstances if it wasn’t behaving as it should. On Friday she called again and asked me to check it out but I didn’t go there, instead I reiterated over the phone what was happening when the shower water wasn’t heating up. It is all about water pressure. Unless the pressure is above a minimum the unit will not heat the water. It is a safety issue in case the user gets scalded because the heating elements are set high. All that is needed to reset the unit is to turn up the water flow. I keep telling them that the water flow determines how hot the water gets at a given electric element setting. I mentioned to E later that it would be easier to train a chimpanzee on how to use the shower than to have to repeatedly tell her son. Neighbours eh?
What a nice and quiet day Monday was, well almost. Early rise then breakfast, a little later I was placing one foot in front of the other as I walked to the north of town along the seafront. It started bright and sunny but soon after I began the walk it turned cloudy and somewhat cool, which I didn’t mind. The wind had changed and was now blowing from the north-west, hence the coolness. It was way too early for lunch by the time I got back home so I sat out on the patio with E with a coffee for the sunshine had returned. Because it was around noon the shadow of the house had now covered most of the patio but E was able to sit in the sunny part. An hour later and the patio was in full sunshine again and would be for the next three and a half hours if it didn’t turn cloudy again. It didn’t turn cloudy during the remainder of the day. We returned indoors for lunch by which time it was hot and humid outside. Now I could have done some work, which I was wanting to do but because of the weather conditions I decided against that idea. I spent the afternoon in the garden either on the patio or pottering about around the garden itself removing weeds and debris, nothing strenuous of course. Around five o’clock I got the hose and watered the plants before finally going back indoors to do some domestic chores. E had gone out, taking her mom they spent a couple of hours in town doing some business and window-shopping. When I was outside I had left my phone indoors. I sometimes do that so I am not disturbed but I check to see if anyone has called. Our next-door neighbour had called me three times on the mobile and twice on the house phone. E had just returned and before she came inside I told her about the calls thinking a parcel had been left with our neighbour which sometime happens. When E came back she told me our neighbour was having problems with her electric shower! Although it was now approaching meal time I told E I was going next door to see if I could help with the shower and she then told me that I should take note that our neighbour’s gates were stiff to open. Sure enough the gates were sticking together at the bottom. All had been quiet until our neighbour put a spanner in the works, lol. I knocked on the door and was invited inside. I went upstairs along with her son and checked the operation of the shower. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it just as it was when I checked it a few weeks earlier. The problem was they didn’t know how to use the controls to get the best from the shower. I explained how the shower works and the link between water flow and pressure to the heat of the water. The heat settings only switch on the elements either high or low. Water control does the rest. Finally the penny dropped and they could now see what they were doing wrong. I asked if they had an adjustable spanner (wrench) and the son fetched one. I took them both to the gates and showed them what the problem was with them sticking. I had the adjustments made in twenty seconds and all was fine. Maybe next time (though there shouldn’t be a next time after my adjustment) they could do it themselves, or rather the son could. It would be a first.
It had been quite a pleasant weekend with plenty of sunshine but we could see the weather was about to change as had been forecast. It was now early evening on Sunday, the sun was still shining and what clouds there were numbered few. There had been more clouds during the late afternoon however and soon they would return. I was relaxing in front of the television when our next-door neighbour called asking me if I would check out her twin floodlight at the rear of the house as one of the lamps had been flickering. It was getting late, it was Sunday so I explained that I would have a look on Monday morning. I did ask why she hadn’t called a day or so earlier when the weather was fine because rain was forecast to fall on and off for the next few days. She asked if I would call later in the morning as she didn’t arise until after eight-thirty. No problem but when I looked out of the window the following morning around nine o’clock I assumed that she had gone out in her car! I thought this because her gate was open and her son presumably was fast asleep which meant his vehicle was still parked at the house. Why did I think he was in bed? I had to go into the rear garden and I noticed all my neighbour’s upstairs curtains were still closed. Soon after I had eaten my breakfast at nine-twenty I saw a very large branch had snapped off the huge lime tree that stands in the garden at the rear of ours. It is forever losing small twigs and branches and is becoming rather a nuisance. Fortunately its own branches had broken the fall of the one that had landed in our garden and there was no damage to the plants along where it fell. I had to get rid of it. Unfortunately I had been that intent on removing it I neglected to take a picture but here is one of the offending tree taken soon afterward. Click on image.
As you can see it dwarfs all the other trees except maybe the sycamores growing around it. It took me some time to heave it all over the wall to rest with the numerous other branches we have had to throw there in the past. The owners of the lime tree do very little in regard to maintaining that corner of their garden and accordingly it is overgrown and in an awful state. They are the same family we had to inform about the Japanese Knot-weed they had growing just the other side of the dividing wall between us. They take little interest in their garden. So, as I was returning to them what was rightfully theirs it began to pour down with rain. Well thanks very much but hey it is only water! I returned indoors to dry off and write this post. Well now it appears her son (a police officer) had gone to work at six-thirty and had forgotten to open his curtains. I only know this because I called my neighbour to explain why I hadn’t called to check her floodlights and of course she was at home. We chatted a while and she told me the floodlight was now behaving itself! I will still check it out sometime when it stops raining. She was telling me about the price it would cost her to have the outside walls of her house painted again, around £3000. Her husband when he was alive used to do it every five years. I told her I didn’t think it needed painting (it doesn’t). A little time later she called back and asked if I did painting! What a cheeky neighbour I have. I pointed out that no, I do not paint the outside of houses on such a scale as hers is and that I am seventy-one years of age! Too old to be lugging around ladders and scaffolding, especially by myself. I think she was being cheeky to even consider asking me.
Life can be so hard sometimes but it can be so easy too. Things often seem more difficult or hard to deal with than they actually warrant. We ourselves can make life’s situations more difficult but if we could just stop and think things over we might find no problem really insurmountable. In every area of our lives this is so. However, it is one thing to overcome everyday situations we feel we could not previously handle and another when it involves others. Relationships with fellow humans can be fraught with difficulties especially where there is a clash of personalities, ideas, beliefs and so on but it shouldn’t be that way. It is a matter of how much we really love the other person, do we humble ourselves and put them first even if we know they are wrong? As Christians we are told to love one another, to love our neighbour (which is everyone else living on the planet) and in doing so honouring Christ. It doesn’t always work that way as anyone will tell you. I was watching a television program whilst waiting for another program to begin and it was called ‘Nightmare neighbour next door’. Many in the UK will probably have watched it themselves. The title is somewhat self-explanatory but in essence it reports relationships about people living next to each other who for one of many reasons just don’t get on with each other. Often the friction is one-sided and often it is based upon trivial concerns. As outsiders we can see the whole story and the stubbornness of people who simply cannot see their way to make an effort to resolve their differences. It is about love and putting others before ourselves but at the same time we shouldn’t simply let others take advantage. Being humble doesn’t mean being servile. Whilst watching one incident between two neighbours it seemed obvious that only one of them, a woman, was the source of the problems between them. The guy who lived next door had to put up with her unbelievably bad behaviour and for some time until one day he took complete control just using words. At this point I fell about with laughter at what he had said. Leaning over the wall which separated them he calmly said to her face ‘God you are ugly’ and then walked away. He had no further problems from that day forth. Now I wouldn’t advocate being verbally abusive to anyone but I had to admit he had made his hard life a lot easier with just a few words.