Bereavement and grieving

Apologies for the lack of updates over the last couple of months.
Shortly after my last post, in the small hours of January 2nd, I got a frantic phone call from my brother telling me to get back to London as quickly as I can because our father had a heart attack. I couldn’t get there in time and he passed away before I arrived.

I’d always known that one day I’d have to deal with his death, it’s been my biggest fear since losing my mother as a child but wasn’t expecting it to happen just yet. He was only 75, he’d recently retired, had a new ‘lady friend’ and was enjoying his life.

I have not been coping well with the loss at all. I had what could best be described as a mental breakdown at the end of January. It’s triggered abandonment issues that I had when I was younger, I’m terrified to let Jack or Lucy out of my sight. I’m scared to go to sleep in case I don’t wake up. There was one night where I must have woken Jack 5 or 6 times because I was convinced he wasn’t breathing – the morning after was when he took me to see a doctor.

I’m seeing a therapist, I’m going to grief counseling, I’m on anti-depressants and sleeping tablets. I’m used to being the one caring for a loved one going through a mental health crisis, not the one in crisis. Throw in the guilt that I feel like I’m letting my family (and my students) down, and combine that with the knee-jerk reaction that I’m somehow too old to have this kind of inability to cope. It’s exhausting and terrifying and I’m completely adrift – Jack is my anchor

But I also know I will get through this. I know it’s going to take a number of months for me to adjust and start to heal – and that the healing and grieving process can take years. My doctor is confident that prescribing my anti-depressants should be a short-term help, but as she put it, depression makes it difficult to grieve properly – and that as I work through the process, my body will be able to find the reserves to fight the depression, that I can’t do it all – not alone, and not at the same time.

I’m also finding writing this is embarrassing to admit to yet logically I know that keeping it all bottled up inside isn’t helping. I have a physical journal that I’m writing in every day and I’m posting this as a first step towards becoming less isolated again. Collapse

So this is 50?

I have the best husband in the world who has spoiled me ridiculously. I wasn’t expecting a huge present for my birthday, never do with it being so close to Christmas and him having bought me a season ticket. But, apparently Jack had listened to how much I’d been waxing lyrical over Lucy’s new Kindle Oasis… and he bought me one for my birthday! ♥

Lucy got me an awesome glow-in-the-dark cover for it, with shooting star patterns, and a gorgeous print of a solar eclipse that’s going up on my office wall. She also got me a desk organiser.

My dad continued the Cardiff Blues theme from Christmas and bought me a home shirt 😀 My brother got me some amazon vouchers and I got him a recipe book for the instant pot we got him and his wife for Christmas

It was a good birthday all round. It was great to see my dad, my brother, his wife and their kids. We don’t see them often enough and that’s something I want to improve on in 2019. Dad spent the whole time feeding us. He cooked a big fry-up for breakfast on Saturday morning, and Saturday night he ordered Chinese. You can only begin to imagine the sheer amount of food that was delivered for 6 adults and 2 teenagers!

We got back home yesterday evening and we’re having a lazy start to this last day of 2018. Lucy and I are talking about resolutions and goals – Jack’s rolling his eyes at us. He doesn’t get the new year/new start/blank page idea; to him it’s just another day and if you wanted to do/change something, you’d do it then and there, not on a randomly appointed day. I can see it both ways – but still like goal setting none-the-less. I suspect there’ll be another blog post about that later on today or tomorrow

Obligatory Christmas post

Christmas Day was wonderful. We all had a lie in, Jack went out the dogs, Lucy rang her sisters, and I made breakfast. We all settled down in the family room and opened presents. I was very spoiled indeed – and you may notice a theme going through these
From Jack, I got – and can I just say I really love that man – a mid-season ticket to see my Blues ❤
From Lucy, I got some Jason Momoa DVDs, a stargazing book and an astronomy log notebook.
From my dad, I got a Cardiff Blues rugger jersey. And very comfortable it is!
From Polly & Esme (Lucy’s younger sisters), I got some vanilla marshmallow body shop prodcuts which smell divine.

Jack & Lucy were thrilled with their gadgets – Jack & I got Lucy a Kindle Oasis and a Marauders Map cover for it. And I got Jack a Fire HD 10

I also got Jack RAF sweater, a Man City book and a John Williams CD
Lucy gave Jack a Man City hoodie and an RAF Haynes manual book.
My dad got him a book on the 100 years of the RAF
(noticing a theme here? Anyone would think Jack love the RAF and MCFC!)
Polly & Esme got him some fishing gloves and a guided journalling book.

For Lucy
I got her a notebook and some fineliner pens she’d been cooing over and a throw blanket with a map of Narnia.
Jack got her the Bullet Journal method book and a Hufflepuff glove/scarf set
Polly & Esme got her some books on Steampunk
Her parents got her a Great British BakeOff cookbook and her other siblings got her amazon vouchers, and my dad got her an angel keyring and a set of unicorn socks.

Jack & I got a card from Lucy’s parents which is an improvement on our relationship with them!

We ate far too much food, drank too much wine, sang badly to carols and played scrabble and monopoly all afternoon. It was a lot of fun.

Then yesterday, Jack’s son came round. He got his dad a stadium tour of Man City and he got me some amazon vouchers. He and Lucy still have a vaguely awkward relationship, I can’t see that ever-changing and I do understand it, but they don’t buy each other gifts, which is fair enough. The men went out and Lucy & I cuddled up to watch Jason Momoa on TV

Tomorrow we head to my dad’s. My brother, his wife and their children will also be descending on him, ready for our (brother & I) birthday. It’s always strange going back there, he’s still in our childhood home and I feel like I’m being transported to another time when we go. Not necessarily in a bad way, just weird. The worst is that me & Jack end up in one bedroom and Lucy in another 😦

Christmas Eve

I think we’re about as ready for Christmas as we’re going to get. All the necessary prep and shopping is done, the house is clean – time to kick back, relax and enjoy spending time with the family. I went to an aquafit class this morning, that was a lot of fun but we have no more plans other than that.

Lucy’s younger sisters are joining us on Christmas Day. That caused a mild moment of panic because we hadn’t got them any presents – we managed to find a lush giftset for Esme and a leather jacket I’m know Polly will love. They’ve also offered to cook which is very nice of them, although Lucy’s not sure she wants to let them lose on her kitchen.

Jack’s son is coming to visit us on Boxing Day – we’ve got him some Amazon Smart Home lighting switches and lightbulbs; he’s in the middle of fitting his flat out with Smart technology and that’s what he’s asked for.
If Esme & Polly are still here on Boxing Day that could potentially be awkward because Jacks’ son is… rather enamored with Esme and flirts with her outrageously.

On Friday we’re going to my dad’s for a long weekend – a birthday tradition, with my brother, his wife and their kids joining us so we can all celebrate my brother and I’s birthday together. Part of me is hoping we find time to go to the National Gallery, I haven’t been in a long time… I might try the fluttering eyelashes and ‘but it’s my birthday’ and see what happens haha.

Back home for New Years. No plans which I’m kind of regretting. I think maybe 2019 we might have to invite everyone round for a party but that’s still a long way off. I like it as a plan though.

If I don’t get back online again – Merry Christmas to you all

…science the shit out of this…

Once again we braved the crowds and headed out into Cardiff, this time down to the bay area. Rookie mistake number one because it was utterly freezing. Beautiful and my Doctor Who loving heart adores it there but it was very cold. And I swear there were twice as many people in the city as there were on Tuesday.

We met up with some friends, Daniel & Claudia, who Jack and I have known for years. In fact they first introduced us to each other 21 and some years ago. The 5 of us get on like a house on fire – once upon a time, before we met Lucy, there may have been a foursome. It was a lot of fun, we were curious about it, that was that, and we’re still all friends. They live back up in Manchester though so we don’t see them very often – sometimes only a couple of times a year. This year’s been one of those years, it’s only the second time we’ve seen them

We explored some of the Christmas happenings at the Millennium Centre, had a lovely meal overlooking the Bay, ate some amazing steak, I drank a little bit too much wine but we had so much fun. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard. We really need to make a more concerted effort to see people next year – not just Dan and Claud but all our friends. It’s hard, everyone’s working but it’s always worth it and today reminded me of that.

I had a little wine-induced nap and now I’m eager and excited to talk about what’s happening on Mars. You have no idea how thrilled I am right now. There is a thing on Mars that was not there before! It’s the first time a robot has picked up an instrument from its deck to place on the surface of another planet! It’s the first seismometer on the surface of another planet.

And this seismometer is an incredible piece of technology. It detects vibrations as small as a hydrogen atom. It’s so sensitive that during testing in Colorado, they had to filter out the Pacific AND Atlantic oceans (& track any time anyone at facility opened a door)

If Mars as much as hiccups, it’ll know!

But wait! Mars doesn’t have plate tectonics, you’re thinking, so why bother with a seismometer? Well, many things produce seismic waves! For Mars, we expect:
cooling contraction
interior heat
heat flow probe self-hammering

But you know what’s really, really cool? Over the coming months & years we’re going to get data to actually draw scale diagrams of the inside of Mars instead of bluffing. And we’ll know what’s the deal with it’s core. And mantle.

And we’ll know this inside my lifetime.

Right now every drawing of every planetary interior you’ve ever seen except Earth has a fair chunk of us making shit up based on ranges of plausible explanations to fit limited data. But now we’ll have seismic data. That’s a 600lb gorilla of constraining internal structure.

We make a lot of assumptions based on Earth. Yet Earth is clearly the oddball of the solar system with its plate tectonics & all that water, so maybe we shouldn’t use it as our standard for ‘normal’

I’m going to freak the fuck out if it’s gooey. How could it swish around and not generate magnetic fields?! Some cold lil nugget reflecting on a bygone era of fabulous volcanism would fit my mental model much easier.

This whole mission is just fucking astonishingly COOL!

Walking in a winter wonderland

What is it about the best laid plans?
Today was supposed to have included a second trip to see Aquaman and catching up on Dreamwidth.


I have been hobbling around like an old woman today. We’re ignoring the fact that turning 50 next week does actually qualify me as an old woman.

You see yesterday we went to Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland and Lucy & I went ice-skating. We tried to cajole Jack into coming skating with us, I even tried to bribe him with offers of a good spanking, but as he quite rightly pointed out, it would be a bad idea with his back and knees. Also, he can’t skate.

How have I known the man 21 years and not know that he’s never been ice-skating?

Today my body has been protesting the hour spent on the ice – and a few falls included in that. I have a black and blue thigh, the leg I broke last summer has been aching and my back has been very stiff. This is a very new sensation for me and it’s made me quite grumpy. There was a hot bath this morning, lots of cuddles on the couch and some painkillers have been taken.

I’m now in bed ready for an early night, one knee still aching and swollen (thinking I might have twisted it when I fell?), more painkillers taken


That was written at about 9pm last night. Ir appears I fell asleep before posting. It is about 4:15 am on Thursday, I’ve just been to the bathroom, picked my tablet up and found this still open

Notw to self: tag tomorrow

Saturn With No Rings?

I can’t decide whether the discovery that Saturn may lose its rings in 100 million years because they are literally raining away into the planet’s atmosphere is the saddest or most beautiful thing

We only discovered the phenomenon back in 2013. It’s incredible how much we’ve learned since then.

(This was supposed to be a post about our outing to Winter Wonderland. But I had to share that instead. I can always write tomorrow about what we did today)