Monday, May 11, 2009

Sad Family News & Notes from the Asylum

It's been a roller coaster few weeks here, with some exciting highs but also some terribly sad family news and related family tensions.

My brother-in-law, David Harper, died on the 2nd May, in Canada, his adopted country, following a short battle with pancreatic cancer. David's death was unexpected, as the news until then had been that although in hospital, he was fighting well and expected to make a good recovery, but I gather that complications with his lungs set in and in the end it was all too much. Our thoughts since then have been very much with David's partner Barbara and his four children, and my own concerns have also been for Jon, who is dealing with his big brother's death with quiet strength and dignity.

Jon's passport has expired and although we were ready to head to an emergency renewal appointment in order for him to be able to attend David's funeral in Canada, my elderly father in law, who lives with us, pretty much emotionally blackmailed Jon into not attending - for reasons that make me spit with fury and which I shan't go into here.

Sadly, my relationship with my father in law has become ever more strained since the news of David's death - at one point, he accused us, behind our backs, of ignoring him and not caring about his grief, despite the fact that he never has anything to say to us other than to complain or belittle us, and despite the fact that when invited to join us at any time he's usually totally uninterested and rates watching TV far more important than being with us. Oh, and despite that fact that he couldn't care less about Jon's grief for his big brother, even moving Jon to comment the other day that he feels he may spend the rest of his life being blamed for not being David and that his father perhaps feels that "the wrong one" died. I'm disgusted with the way father in law has behaved.....but as anyone who's read here for a while might now, this kind of behaviour from his is sadly nothing new. I can make allowances for grief causing people to behave oddly - but for him, I'm afraid it's normal. I could rant for hours, but out of respect for my brother in law's memory, I shall - temporarily - leave it at that.

Jon was asked by The Henley Standard to write an obituary for his brother, as they grew up in the Henley area and David was well known in the community there. I'll add a link to it when it goes into this week's issue.

On a happier note, Jon's first paranormal investigation on the 1st May went exceptionally well. I'm so proud of him. He had no idea where they were going right up until the time the arrived but he was able to tell the investigating team, among other things, details of the floorplan of the ruined building (which room was the kitchen, that there used to be a walled garden in such and such a spot, etc, all verified), information about the landscape of the area before the building existed and details of various spirits who were communicating that night. Notably, he gave the names Rosalind and Samuel and told how Rosalind was searching for two children who were not her own, but for whom she was the nursemaid; further details emerged from his spirit link about how Samuel (who it turns out was Rosalind's young boyfriend) had been looking after the children during a flood during which one of them drowned and that he had been full of guilt and remorse. All of this was verified too.

During the investigation, the team took lots of recordings, both video and audio. On the audio recording, there's some very clear EVP, including a voice saying "Jon, go now, it's my fault" and repeating again "It's my fault". Fascinatingly, this took place during the time at which Jon was holding a "conversation" with the spirit contact Samuel and the EVP on the recording is hear during the pauses after Jon speaks each time, during which the people present heard nothing. I gather from those who've heard it that it's spine-tingling stuff! On the night, the team noticed that during Jon's pauses, as he was listening to spirit, their sound meters were recording spikes in the gaps, even though nothing could be heard.

There's a report about the evening on PP Paranormal's site here. We're all exceedingly chuffed and very proud of Jon :-)) This Wednesday, Jon is going out on another investigation with the team, again to an unknown but apparently prestigious location, this time with the press present and an audience of staff members from wherever they're going too. Can't wait to hear about it!

The other week, Jon took Emily out and about to the Newark Air Museum, which she much enjoyed, and we've also been to visit The Deep with friends. We had to cancel a planned trip to the National Parrot Sanctuary for a variety of reasons, but will be going soon. Meanwhile, Jon came back from a shopping trip the other day with a sparkly surprise - he'd had his ear pierced :-)) Well, re-pierced, since he'd had it done before as a teenager, but had been wanting it redone for ages and hadn't got round to it.

Emily's at her kickboxing grading tonight before visiting friends. She had a mini trauma earlier this week when she half knocked out a molar tooth, leaving it at a very weird angle and bleeding profusely. She has quite a fear of dentists, so that caused a few tears, but ultimately the dentist advised down the phone that there was no need to attend unless it didn't come out on its own within a couple of days. It did, eventually and as an added bonus the matching one on the other side also popped out this morning, with no warning, lol.

Home ed wise, things have been progressing nicely. Emily's been doing lots of maths and English, and a fair bit of history and science too. We didn't get all that much done last week as we were all somewhat thrown by news of David's death, but we're starting to get back on track now. Towards the end of April, we did do some fascinating microscope work, more of which will follow soon as Emily loves doing that. Some photos:

Emily's cheek cells, stained blue so you can see the cell nucleus.

Blood cells....mine, lol. Emily didn't want to volunteer her blood, even in the interests of medical science ;-)

SandTable salt

Fashion designer has apparently gone on the back burner, career-wise - Emily has decided, very seriously, that she wishes to become a vet. Lol, probably one of the most academically demanding things she could have chosen - I read on one of the university vet school sites the other day that they had nearly 200 applicants for every place this year. Eeep. Whereas we could most likely have found a way around formal qualifications for entry into a fashion course, I really don't think that Emily's going to be able to waltz her way into an incredibly competitive vet degree course without at least some of the relevant bits of paper. For which, we're talking a minimum of seven As at GCSE, plus top grades in biology, chemistry and either maths or physics A levels. Double eeeeeeeeeep.

Should Emily still want to go down this route in a few year's time, we'll have another serious think about qualifications and I'll talk to admissions tutors etc about home education....and yes, we have plenty of time...and yes, of course she might change her mind....BUT in the meantime this does back up my instinct that faffing about for the next six years "hoping" that everything will be OK doesn't quite cut the mustard. We'd already decided that we were going to be knuckling down to some serious work, so we still will. It may or may not ever lead to any formal exams and bits of paper and hoops to jump through, and time will tell in that department, but for now we're going to focus on plenty of science (and lots of sewing, lol, should fashion design make a comeback).

Oh yeah, and before anyone goes away thinking what a terrible mother I am for putting all this pressure on my sweet little ten year old....I'd like to point all that all of this "career focused" stuff comes from the little ten year old herself. She's very aware of her future and very determined and actually wants to work hard towards a goal. None of it was put into her head by us. Some ten year olds haven't even thought about any of this kind of thing, which is great. Some have, which is also great, and mine has. *Steps off soap box but is tired of feeling that I have to defend my home ed approach*

I found some brilliant and rigorous "old fashioned" science books, one each for chemistry, biology and physics. My Dad was going to do lots of physics with Emily anyway, so that's sorted, and we'll take our time working through the biology one. As far as chemistry goes, I found this amazing book which goes into enormous detail about what you need to set up a "proper" chemistry lab at home and where to find the equipment and chemicals. The shop bought chemistry sets are all very well and good, up to a point, but quite frankly health and safety stuff has dumbed them down soooo much that you have to wonder why they bother at all. If Emily's still serious about the vet thing by the time she's, say, 13, I think we will go ahead and kit her out with some proper equipment.

Jon's been working very hard in the garden and it's looking absolutely divine out there. The vegetable patches in particular are pretty impressive, I think. We have a huge variety of things growing out there :-))

Web of tiny spiderlings, from the greenhouse. Ugh. All very well and good, but Jon left them out of the greenhouse during a windy next thing we know, there are hundreds of tiny spiderlings....everywhere. Double ugh.

Lulu is now nine months old, and after a very wobbly week during which the stress of everything else didn't exactly sit well with a very demanding parrot, we've finally figured out that apparently the parrot "terrible twos" can start around now in African Greys. Indeed. And they have. Our beautiful girl is adoring and loving one minute and an absolute little devil the next. She's figuring out where she is in the pecking order and acting up, pushing the boundaries, just like a little toddler, bless her. It's infuriating at times.....but now I know that it's normal at this age, I can relax a little bit more and not get so stressed about it. Lulu's a real handful sometimes....but if we won the lottery, I'd still want a houseful of parrots, so I guess she can't be all that bad!! She's just being a parrot. She's doing her job. It's our job to understand her natural behaviour and work with it rather than trying to stop her being a parrot. We're getting there.

And some tabbies, to finish with. Kibby Juliet, looking rather alarmed, plus a rare sight these days - the two tabbies, Romeo and Juliet, together in the same place and not hissing at one another. They were inseparable as kittens, but they seem to have taken a dislike to one another recently. Funny moggies.


Frances said...

Hi Nikki,
Sorry - a lurker unlurking to possibly bring something to your attention! :o)

I hope you don't think I'm being presumptuous, but when I was surfing round the home ed blogs, I clicked on Emily's Facebook tag and it looks like her profile is set to public, with anyone (not just friends) being able to view everything on it. Wasn't sure if it's intentional, but thought I'd let you know in case it was something you weren't aware of and wanted to change.


PS Hugs for all the family rubbishness :o(

Elaine said...

Sorry to hear your really sad news Nikki. Bigs hugs to you and your family.

Love all the educational stuff - good for Emily to even be thinking about her future. Vet - wow, I heard it's tougher than becoming a doctor, but well worth it.

The microscope piccies are brilliant. We have an ancient microscope that we found lurking in my grandma's cupboard years back. Looks great but is hopeless at magnifying! Where did you get yours? Chemistry link looks good. Ben's into all this but we hardly use our Cambridge chemistry set as he didn't find the experiments that interesting - shame.

Take care. Thinking of you.

Nikki said...

Frankie, thank you, appreciate it.

Elle, our microscope is a very old one, from the 50s or 60s, think my father had it at university. It was certainly around when I was growing up in the early 70s anyway. It's a beautiful old thing in its own little lockable walnut cabinet with lots of different lenses and bits and bobs. Somewhere we've got a modern one (I think from national geographic) but it wasn't a patch on Dad's. It's very hard to take photos though.