Monday, 22 September 2008

The Toil Continues Down At Plot 51

Saturday, being another gloriously sunny day lent the perfect opportunity to get down the allotment to continue preparing the ground, clearing the weeds and getting the pathway finished.

Three weeks have elapsed since I last went there and fearing the worst, having visions of two foot high weeds that I encountered the last time I left a lengthy gap between visits, I was immensely surprised to see that where the ground had been prepped previously, not a single weed had grown. It just goes to show the difference between namby pamby surface weeding and proper digging over.

To add to the joy, Michaela had bought me two rhubarb plants as a belated birthday present plus some strawberry plants that have produced runners, so they've now been put in the soft fruits corner. A gap has been prepared for the apple tree, I just have to get it from Mum's house to the plot. The red gooseberry has taken well and the blackcurrant is well established.

Sam gives the raspberry bushes a drink

Madeleine and Eleanor digging for leftover potato tubers

Sam and Joshua preparing the holes for the transplanted raspberries

In addition, in amongst the weeds on the other side of the allotment, we found an extra raspberry bush, so that was uprooted and transplanted. Then Michaela found more along the path edge where the roots had grown under the path from next door and had shot up on my side. So, up they came too. My original two raspberry bushes have now increased to six. Whether they'll take is questionable. There wasn't much rootball on any of them, but I'm hoping with a bit of TLC and the autumn/winter period to hibernate, the spring will see them perk up and yield enough growth through the summer to provide a good supply of fruits.

Michaela digging up the newly discovered raspberry bushes

The path is now halfway through the plot and the gravel that was taken from the front garden at home has now all be transported to the plot to infill the path. It's a bit wonky but it looks really good. The plot is taking shape now and I'm beginning to personalise it. It feels like my plot now, not just a piece of rented overgrown ground. There is still a lot of clearing to do and one boundary needs erecting but this will come in time.

And, I finally got to meet Sid. Sid is an a retired farmer and Sid has lots of machinery and Sid has offered to rotovate the bits of my plot that need digging over next spring, ready for the planting and sowing season. I like Sid.

More leeks were harvested and now some tubs of leek and potato soup are stacked in the freezer. The cooking apples that were scrumped last time we visited have been peeled, cored, chopped and frozen ready for winter puddings. Some have been stewed down to make apple sauce and more blackberries were picked from around the perimeter and are laid on trays in the freezer.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Missing My Boy

I miss his conversation.

I miss his perpetual questions that drive me nuts.

I miss seeing him working on his warhammer models.

I miss not tucking him into bed at night and plumping up his pillow before he sinks his head into it with a great big thud.

I miss not helping him with his homework.

I miss him playing and larking around with Sam.

I miss him having a strop when he has to do homework before doing his warhammer.

He's only been gone since Wednesday and he's home this afternoon.

What the heck am I going to do when he leaves home?!!

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Apron Strings Loosen

It's a sure sign your children are becoming independent when they start to look forward to NOT having you around.

Joshua's going away on a residential school trip tomorrow and he CAN NOT WAIT.

The school have come up with all manner of scenarios to play through if your child is anxious, nervous or worried in any way. None of them are of any use to me as he's not anxious, nervous or worried. I'm not sure whether to be worried that he's not anxious, nervous or worried, or congratulate myself on bringing up a confident well balanced boy.

I'll opt for the latter.

They can take a toy with them for bedtime - he won't be seen dead with a teddy. They can write home if they're feeling homesick. I offered to give him a stamped addressed envelope, paper and pen. My response was a 'no way, you must be off your nut, mother', look.

I can cope with that. I don't mollycoddle my children. Maybe I should. Maybe not.

They're not allowed to take aerosols. Joshua likes to put on deodorant for discos etc. and they have a disco on the last night. I offered to buy him a roll on - not cool. 'Roll ons are for girls', was the reply I received, after the initial, 'urggh' he offered.

Plus this week, I let him walk to school on his own for the first time. I thought I'd be cunning and keep up just enough to watch him from a distance.

He was more cunning - he shot off like lightning, realising that he could move swifter with his rucksack on than I could with a buggy and two others in tow.

So, at the tender age of 9 my eldest is growing up and becoming independent. I'd like him to stay my boy just for a bit longer but I can already feel the apron strings loosening and whilst it's bittersweet, I'm looking forward to witnessing the incredible young man he's going to become, because he's an already incredible boy.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Who Owns Me?

I don't carry a donor card. I used to but over the years I seem to have misplaced it. I used to give blood until I was told to take a year out due to my body piercing. Time has rolled on and I've done nothing to revert back to carrying the card or offering my blood again.

I had a rethink this week when the government rolled out plans to consider the opting out of organ donation. Transplant waiting lists are long and people are dying every day who have perfectly good organs that could save a life or many lives in some cases. In the UK we have a poor rate of organ donation as opposed to our European neighbours. To this respect do we have the right to retain ownership of our bodily parts after we die, or is it ethically right for the medical profession to harvest them after our death if we have not specifically barred consent?

So, if the legislation goes ahead, do I opt out and prevent them taking what they want, or do I remain as I am and allow them to assume that as I haven't opted out, I'm happy for them to have whatever is needed at the time? It's an emotive decision as it doesn't just involve me. Or does it? When does my body not become my own anymore? I like to think that my body is just that, mine - to do with as I please. But at some points in my life legalities have taken that right away from me. Up to 24 weeks of pregnancy I retain ownership of a baby growing inside me. At any point until then I can destroy that life and have it removed from me without any recompense or worries of legal action being brought against me. After 24 weeks, no matter how I feel, I have no option but to accept that a part of my body is now 'owned' by a national establishment. When the baby is born I resume ownership as I then have the choice whether to keep the baby or give it up. In cases where mothers are mentally incapable of bringing up a child the decision is made for them, but my argument here is with people who are fully in control of their mental faculties and completely aware of the decisions they are facing with regard to ownership of their bodies.

So, where is the line drawn? If I choose not to opt out, I'm giving permission for the surgeons to open me up and take what they like. Can I choose to specify what they can and can't take? Would it be judicious for me to do this? For what reason would I be selective? My husband has always said that he would allow my organs to be taken, but not my eyes. It's a part of me he doesn't want removed from me. When speaking to him earlier this week about his feelings regarding this I asked him whether it was fair to allow this sentimentality to prevent somebody else from having the gift of sight. After all, they're no use to me or him when I'm gone - so why not let somebody benefit from them - surely it would be better for a part of me he loves to live on in another person?

I firmly believe that when I'm dead, that's it. I have my own thoughts about my soul, but my organic body - what use is it to bury me complete? Why waste me? By allowing the state to claim ownership of my body prior to burial makes sense. It relieves my family of responsibility. Their job after my death is to dispose of me - not drag out ownership. Does it really matter that they bury only 60% of my physical body or whatever is left of me after my useful bits have been removed? Surely their obligation in their memory of me is to the person I was when I was alive, not what's left remaining in a box.

Developing this thought further, I do believe the opt out scheme is feasible. Many people oppose it. They worry that doctors will declare deaths much sooner knowing they can get in there and harvest organs. They worry that the extent to which a life will be fought for will diminish and life support machines will be turned off earlier than they would have been in the past. I don't believe this. There is rigid set of tests to confirm the presence of brain death and I truly believe these will still be adhered to, no matter where the law stands with regard to organ donation.

For relatives I believe the pain of having to make the decision during a time of unimaginable grief will be lifted. It's hard enough to deal with losing a loved one, especially unexpectedly, without having to be rational about somebody cutting them open and removing bits from them. Knowing that your loved one could be increasing somebody else chances should bring comfort, especially as with the current system of opting in the percentage chance of being a match via a random selective process is minimal. Imagine the increased percentage match if more people were deemed to be suitable.

But where does suitability lie? Do we live our lives knowing that one day a surgeon will be looking at our organs making choices as to whether they're good enough to put inside someone else? Will this make us aware of what we're doing to our bodies? Will it make us look after ourselves? Will it give people with low self-esteem a bit of a boost knowing that some day they'll be invaluable, even when they're not aware of it? If you feel good giving blood, imagine your euphoria at knowing your body can save at least six people. It certainly gives incentive to stop people abusing themselves.

The debate is continuous. I could ask about ownership of my childrens bodies. Do I have the consent until they are legally able to take that decision for themselves? What if I'm mentally ill - does the person with power of attorney over my affairs have the moral and ethical right to make that decision on my behalf? Where does ownership lie? If I'm pregnant and lie brain dead does my partner have the right to insist on me being kept alive to allow my child to grow and then relinquish ownership when the child is born? Where is the line drawn?

But one thing I am certain of. If I choose to opt out and deny another person the right to increased life expectancy, then I have absolutely no right to expect to receive an organ during my life should the need arise. If I opt out of donation, then by association I believe that should be viewed as opting out of receiving and I forfeit the right to organ transplantation.