Thursday, April 10, 2014

Part of a bigger picture

I called George to get his attention and when he was looking I threw a stick. He continued to stare blankly at me.
'Go and fetch it, you silly great plonker!'
'Oh right.' And he lolloped half-heartedly down the beach. 

I despair of my dog sometimes.

Following the winter storms there is a lot more sand on Swansea beach. There are also, coincidentally, an awful lot of tiny shells. I'm sure it coincidence as they were there before the storms.
It is wonderfully pleasurable walking on shells. I love the sensation and the crunchy noise beneath my feet but also the feeling that I'm part of something much much bigger. I'm doing my bit for nature, helping the erosion process so that my grandchildren (to the power of 10 at least) will still be enjoying a sandy beach. 

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Yesterday we enjoyed lunch at Verdi's with my 'old' blogging friend, Shirl and her husband, Pete. They called in on their way back from visiting family in west Wales and we were delighted to see them.

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And now I'm off to prison for my weekly dose of inadequacy and feeling like a bad Christian. It's slightly worrying that I feel more at ease with offenders than I do with Christians, lovely though they are.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Pope is offensive?

What I was thinking in my head
The Pope upset a lot of people with his comments about the rich and bankers and how we should be looking after the poor. And a good thing too.

What came out of my mouth
'The Pope is offensive.'

It wasn't until, well, this morning that it occurred to me that could be misunderstand if you weren't privy to what had gone on in my head. Which no-one was.

I can't even blame speaking on the spur of the moment as I'd thought it about it for a while.

We were looking at a passage in John's gospel where Jesus says, 'Do I offend you?' My point was that sometimes some people will be offended by us if we're standing up for those unable to defend themselves. And that we should be 'offensive' in that way, the same way as Jesus.

Sean hastened to clarify things by saying that when we offend it should be for the right reasons and not just because we're being obnoxious superior Christians. And Ric said to me, 'Tell me when you're gong to be offensive because I really want to see that.'

Split infinitive alert!

Sean: What do you think it was about Jesus that attracted people to him?
Visitor: Probably wasn't drugs so was he giving away women?
Sean: That's one possible explanation but I'm inclined to think it was something else.
Visitor: Herbs and spices?

Definitely not your average bible study.

We celebrated Paul's birthday. And we would have celebrated James' too if he'd been there.
Afterwards another visitor asked me what sort of cake it was; I told him 'just sponge'. He ate it and then declared, 'That wasn't just sponge; that was wonderful sponge like my mother used to make.'

Oh yes, I make a tidy sponge.

As last Sunday was the first in the month we had our monthly gathering, which turned out to be unusual for me. We hadn't long started when Paul, who was standing outside chatting to Nigel, stuck his head around the door and said, 'Can we have a lady out here to talk to someone?'

I looked around expecting someone else to get up but realised I was closest and couldn't really offload it so went out. And then spent the next 30-40 minutes sitting in the foyer with a distraught individual. I had no idea what to say so, as I sat there, I prayed, 'Please, God, give me words to say.'

He didn't. Which I think was probably right. My role was to listen, let the individual talk. And I don't think any words on mine would have fallen on receptive ears anyway. But at least I don't think I said the wrong things, which in itself is a miracle. 

And I didn't make a joke. Why would I make a joke, you ask, in what was obviously a non-funny situation? Because it's my natural response. My writing tutor used to tell me off because after I'd created a poignant or dramatic scene I'd go and spoil it by throwing in a joke. I don't deal well with bad or sad. Sometimes, depending on the situation and people, a joke is fine; other times it's the worst idea in the world.

So in this instance I didn't joke or say what I felt like saying about the person who was causing so much pain. ('You tell me their name and I'll send the boys around.')

But this was the fourth instance of 'something different' since I've left Linden and committed myself to Zac's, the latest example of what it means to really be church and demonstrate Jesus in the community, to be truly involved. It's scary but I love it.

Daughter sent me this video about empathy and I was trying to recall what it said on Sunday.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Answers on a postcard

Now take a look at this.
If you were setting the automatic cooking thingy wouldn't you think the hand would mean stop cooking time?It doesn't. In fact I'm not sure what it does mean but the empty dish is the stop timer. 

I'm not good at icons. We have a fancy photocopier in work that can do all sorts of things. I'm told. I use it for single and double sided copying and I had to be shown several times how to do the double-sided. You see you choose the function you want from a selection of pictures labelled 2-3, 2-1, 1-2, etc, and the logical meaning for each of those i.e. the one that makes sense to me, isn't the right meaning.

I had long arguments discussions with Alun who was working with me at the time about the irrationality of the icons. He understood them all perfectly, which just goes to show. It's a man thing. Or possibly a me thing.

It's probably why I'm not good at Guess the Emoji. For those who don't know that's a game on Facebook, a but like television's Catchphrase where you 'say what you see', except in this case you say what you see and then try and come up with something completely unrelated. Some of the clues are ridiculously easy and some - most - are unfathomable.

I should stick to what I'm good at which is ... um...

Monday, April 07, 2014

that's another fine mess

The wood walk is pretty muddy at the moment and there is one bit that is definitely challenging. I think it's where there was a small water flow that gradually has become wider and muddier. A few logs and stones provide some foot steps but the mud is taking over and the step up to the bank on the other side getting higher and higher. 

Today we'd reached the 'just throw yourself at it and hope for the best' stage. So I did. And promptly fell back down.

My shriek even made George look up though I suspect less out of concern for me and more in the hope that I may have dropped some treats that he would be able to get at before I could. (I hadn't.)

Emerging from the wood I fell into step this time with an elderly Irishman who was carrying his dog. He asked if I'd walked this way on Friday and had I seen the all the police cars. Apparently there were five policemen who all pounced on a man returning to his camper van. 'They handcuffed him so I'm thinking it must be serious.'

Excitement and I missed it. My Irish friend pointed out that he'd been walking this way for forty years and had never seen the like of it so chances are I never will now.

* * * * * * * * 
On a separate note I was having a discussion with someone about poo. Apparently there is a man in Linden who only poos twice a week. That cannot be healthy!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Eating like an Italian

Husband spends a lot of time listening to local radio while working on the house so when he heard the offer of restaurant vouchers worth £40 for just £20 he couldn't resist. We were fairly selective in the restaurants we chose to purchase vouchers for but still ended up with 3, which have to be used by the end of May, so, what do you know, we just have to go out and eat occasionally.

Last night we went to Salento, a new-to-us restaurant located in Swansea's marina. This is the view we had from our table.

And this was my main course, Linguine carbonara mare, which was nicer than it looks although I couldn't bring myself to eat the baby octopi.
The waiter/manager is Italian and he explained the ethos of the restaurant is to serve real Italian food as eaten in Italy by real people. He and the chef - who apparently doesn't speak English - come from the region in the heel of Italy that gives the restaurant its name. The menu was certainly different and had an authenticity about it. 

Sadly my aubergine parmigiana wasn't as good as that I had in Rome but the panna cotta was delicious. Husband, on the other, hand made excellent choices with his spicy seafood soup, which was laden with fishy bits, followed by traditional Salento lasagna made with meatballs.

Would we go there again? Oh yes, definitely. We shall be taking YS and Nuora there when they return home for a real Italian's verdict.

Another day, another rejection

Two in one week is pretty good going even for me though.

When I go to the library or bookshop I am encouraged to see so many published books especially when many are only as good as or worse than my novels. I am equally discouraged for exactly the same reasons. 

You think that if you're good enough you'll be recognised one day but do I really believe that? If I do does it mean that I'm not good enough? If I don't, why do I keep on trying? 

I'm sure that, just as there are hundreds of wonderful singers who sing out their hearts in local amateur productions, and hundreds of skilled artists who tout their wares in local craft shops, there are hundreds of very good writers who will never be professionally recognised and published just because.

Tomorrow I'll try again.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

A short unexpected detour

'Have you got sat nav?' Shirl asked.
'No,' I said, 'but I've got a bit of paper with instructions on.'

Which got me to my destination just fine. It was the fact that some planner had the brilliant idea of putting a slip road on to a motorway immediately next to a slip road off the motorway just where I was expecting my left turn to be that caused my problem. 

Hence my trip to Bristol turned into a trip to Bath. Do you know how far it is from junction 18 to junction 19 on the M4? Fifteen miles that's how far it is. That's fifteen miles before you can get off and turn around and come back again.

Take a deep breath. Okay, my visit to meet Rosie to find out all about her project, Beloved, was brilliant, giving me loads of help, stuff to think about, pray about, and the offer to go back and out on a visit with them at some time. Masses to pray about in fact. But really exciting.

I came away from our meeting feeling so upbeat that, in spite of messaging Shirley earlier in the day and saying I wouldn't be able to call in and see her, I decided I had time after all. Which did mean the challenge of finding another location in Bristol, which turned out to be a doddle, to someone now an expert on the Bristol ring road.

So two fab visits in one day. How was your day?

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The assassin in the park

Before Husband retired it was my job to walk George. On retirement he largely took over that role but since YS and Nuora left for Malaysia and Husband has been working on their house it's fallen to me again. Which is great as I need the exercise and enjoy the time out. On the plus side it means I'm getting fitter: I can make it to the top of the first lot of hill steps without stopping to 'admire the view'; on the negative side it means that I have to fit an hour and a half to two hours (if you include getting ready and the cup of tea and a little something afterwards) into my daily schedule. But, hey, I'd only be cleaning otherwise ... (yeah right)

Today we went on one of our new favourite walks: up the hill in the woods, across the top to Clyne Gardens and then down and back along the sea front. It's unusual to see anyone in the woods but Clyne Gardens is a very popular spot. Except today. While we were walking around we only saw a couple of people and that was at a distance. It wasn't until we were leaving that we came close enough to  say hello to anyone ... and he had killer eyes! Come to think of it he was carrying a bag that could easily have been a folded-down rifle. He didn't return my greeting, just looked at me. I'm glad I was leaving.

I have to have these mental adventures you understand; George isn't the most sparkling of conversationalists. In fact he can be downright rude. Only the other day I said, 'George, I'm starting to look very old,' to which he replied, 'What do you mean starting?' 

There's no need is there?

And he embarrassed me by taking a householder's friendly wave as an invitation to go and investigate her food waste bin. 

* * * * * * * * *
In other news, I can't be alone in thinking that Blandings should be on television every day. 

Monday evenings we do circuit training and afterwards, as a treat, we eat dinner on trays while watching television, the last six weeks our viewing pleasure being the episode of Blandings that we'd recorded the previous day.

Clarence, Duke of Emsworth is delicious, someone who knows what's important in life, and Constance, his sister, comes out with the most wonderful put-downs. But what are we going to do now it's finished its run?

P.S. Looking for the link for Blandings I noticed that it had some dreadful reviews. Don't listen to a word of them! True, I haven't read the original PG Wodehouse stories and they may be badly adapted but that doesn't take away from the delightful humour.