pear tree log: I started this blog to keep my younger son, Jonny, in touch with life in Lincolnshire, while he spent a year working in China. That year turned into five! Now he is home and training to become a physics teacher. This is simply a patchwork quilt of some of the things I enjoy - life in rural Lincolnshire, our animals, friends, architecture, books, the gardens, and things of passing interest.

Thursday, 15 August 2013


Ming Ming and Jonny returned to Shanghai last week - how quickly those three weeks flew by.
The place seems very quiet without them.

Xitang - February, 2013

I often ask Jonathan to let me have some photographs - my requests fall on deaf ears.   
 Ming Ming, however, willingly shared her photographs with me.   
Thanks, Ming Ming.

I really like the look of this ancient water city, Xitang,
which is located near Shanghai.

I love the peace and tranquillity of this scene
 although I bet the reality was a bit whiffy and rather more noisy.

With so many lanterns, and such a lot of  red around
 it has the air of a festival of some sort.
As night falls it looks magical with the lanterns reflecting in the water.     

Lanterns everywhere.

See the tree growing through the roof of the porch?

The spirits of former inhabitants is said to come
back to reside in the grass growing on the roofs.

Back on shore all is hustle and bustle.

Xitang is an ancient water town dating back to around 700 BC.
It is built at the point where nine rivers converge
and is famous for the covered walkways, lanes
and beautiful bridges which
span the rivers.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

My Brother and Toby Too

My older brother, Steven, and his wife had come to stay for a few days.  This was the first night of their visit and his condition had rapidly deteriorated, he was struggling with the mechanics of breathing and was going into crisis.

It was 4am and it felt like a cast of millions were bustling about.   Someone was ringing for an ambulance, giving clear directions on how to locate us, decisions were made about who should go to hospital with him, mobile phones found up, loose change located.  

George took himself off to wait by the roadside, armed with a large torch, determined that the ambulance should not miss our turning.   Others were hurriedly pulling on clothes,  preparing to go in the ambulance to be with Steve - ready to explain his condition,  for speech was beyond him.

As everyone bustled about Steve sat on a bench out on the patio,  struggling to hang on.   His desperate need for air had driven him out there to sit under the moonlit sky.    The coolness helped, a little.

How he kept as calm as he did, I shall never know.

I sat beside him and I knew the end was very close and there was absolutely nothing which I could do for him.     I can honestly say that I sensed Mr  De'ath was waiting nearby.    I silently shrieked at him to keep away from my big brother.

I held Steven's hand and told him that it was important that he knew how much I love him, then I lost the use of my voice.        I found myself tracing a pattern of small circles on his knee - each being one and a quarter turns - unconsciously using the technique which is so soothing and calming for dogs.    I was completely powerless to help, useless.

Rapidly progressing Myasthenia Gravis (bulbar) is a cruel disease.

Luckily, Steve did make it and has received wonderful treatment, for which I thank the NHS.   It won't cure him, but it helps to bring a semblance of 'normality'.    He lives to tell the tale, and I am happy that he has more time.     Our younger brother, Owl, has been there for him all this time.    Visiting, entertaining, keeping his spirits up, driving, fetching, carrying, giving support and showing his love in the most practical of ways.

I have two wonderful brothers...we don't always see eye to eye, we have vastly different opinions and perspectives for we are three very different people, but there is an extremely strong bond of love.

Talking of love - I found this photograph, taken on the preceding afternoon.

Steve had just met Toby Too for the first time...

Toby Too likes to take his time to get to know people and yet here he is snuggling up to Steven, after just ten minutes,  as though he has known him forever.      Poor Steve looks dreadfully ill in this photograph.

Do dogs show empathy?   I think so.

Moving on, my next post will be somewhat cheerier.

Ming Ming very kindly gave me lots of photographs before she and Jonny returned to China, I hope to share some of these with you.    I may even get around to showing you some of the wonderful meals which she cooked for us - thanks, Ming Ming! x

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Thank You for all Your Well Wishes & Help - an Update on my Brother

What a week it has been.     The much anticipated and planned-for visit from my older brother, Steve, didn't quite go as we had hoped. I had prepared a fridge full of very easy to swallow food, with lots of other dishes planned, ready to be created should he fancy any of them - and for that I must thank all of you for your wonderful suggestions.

Alas, it very quickly became clear that his condition was rapidly deteriorating as speech, swallowing and breathing gradually became more difficult than 'normal'.   At 4am we had to call for an ambulance.   

Because we live on the Edge of Nowhere that doesn't mean an instant response.   It involves careful explanation of how to find us, and someone has to go out on to the road with a big torch to help the driver locate our driveway.      It took a long time, more than half an hour - an unimaginably long time with someone who is struggling for air.   

Luckily, the call was also answered by a First Responder.   She arrived like the cavalry and got to work, spreading calm and creating a positive atmosphere.   I cannot thank her enough.

Twenty or more minutes later the ambulance arrived.

To cut a long story short, Steven is now in an excellent hospital on the other side of the country and is receiving virtually every treatment they can throw at him.   He has been fed through a tube in his nose and is being administered a whole concoction of drugs and plasma.   His condition is still very serious, but he is responding.

Ian, my younger brother, is over that side of the country too.   He is supporting Steve's wife, driving her to and from hospital and generally keeping things going.     I have no doubt that he is also keeping Steve entertained, with his wit and humour,  during visiting times!    

As far as Steven's condition goes - this is Ian's latest report on Fb...

Just got back from visiting Steve today, and he's well into his IVIg therapy and responding very well. His swallowing is going to be tested on Thursday and if he "passes" he may actually see some real food, albeit pureed or mashed - and the thought ischeering him up mightily! In hospital for at least another two weeks while he's monitored on this cocktail of drugs and IVIg. His voice has come back too, so long as he doesn't over-work it. So far so good! Fingers crossed for remission. Cheers guys'n'galleons, I've passed your kind comments on to him (after I explained what Facebook is)!