Thursday, November 29, 2007


A few years ago, on a cleaning spree, I bought a bottle of glass cleaner, the type with a spray nozzle. Going to use it, I twiddled a few times with the nozzle before peering at the writing on it. It said, 'NO.' So, obviously, that meant it was off and I would have to turn it the other way to make it spray. It took me quite a long time and a lot of grumbling about new-fangled technology before I realised what I was doing wrong.
Who got too close when mummy was washing Betty then?

Bicycle clips for me

In an attempt to remove temptation from George's way, I've put Husband's bicycle clips on my sloppy in-house trousers to stop them waving around as I walk.

I must remember to wash today. It completely escaped my mind yesterday.
I went to bed feeling bleurgh. Not because I hadn't washed but with an attack of the 'Gosh, I'm useless at everything' blues.
I'd come across a piece of paper with a story idea scrawled across it so, last night, I determined to 'do some writing'. It wasn't working; I went to bed.
This morning I awoke refreshed. The sun is shining, George is gorgeous and I have my bicycle clips. And instead of a story I'm going to write a play.
So tra la dee.
But first the cleaning. Oh bleurgh. Oh oh, Younger Son is MSNing me: he has a dilemma.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I'm sorry I haven't done much blog visiting of late: blame George. I'll try to get round people very soon.

Right now though there are two Council workmen on the road outside with strange hand-machines and I can't work out what they're doing. It is such a burden being nosey.

I didn't expect to see you here!

There's a post on Nourishing Obscurity upon which I meant to comment but James is so prolific that it disappeared off the page before I had a chance!

In his post James looks at [churches] new directions a cause for concern. He lists a number of issues including exclusivity.

"5. The notion of exclusivity is a huge problem, theologically and socially. Are those of another faith, e.g. Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, condemned to hellfire because they don't accept Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah?

"Logic dictates not. Logic dictates that these people would be categorized as innocents and who knows, maybe they're given another chance later. Maybe when all is revealed, the true nature of affairs will encompass all of these anomalies.

"Through the gospels run compassion and concern for one's fellow man. It's most certainly not manifested in condemnation until one comes to Paul, with whom I have great problems. This is why I prefer to stick to the gospels although Paul did say some intelligent things."

Firstly I agree about Paul. He is not my favourite person. Give me Peter the blunderer any day.

But exclusivity. Jesus himself said, 'I am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.' That seems fairly straightforward. And exclusive.

But I don't know.

Rabbi Lionel Blue used to be on the radio a lot. I always enjoyed his talks as he was both amusing and intelligent. As far as I could judge, he had a relationship with God that was very similar to mine. But if that was the case, and Jesus is the only way, why didn't God say, 'Hey, Lionel, you've got it wrong, you know.'

You can't say he was innocent (lacking knowledge): he probably knows the stories of Jesus better than I do. Yet given the option of choosing Jesus, he declined. Where does that leave him?

Fundamentalists would say destined for 'hell'. Just as Saul, who was persecuting Christians, was until Christ met him on the road to Damascus.

Is there a final choice? One that is offered at that instant between life and death? Does Jesus himself come to meet us? I have no idea.

I know there are people who have prayed faithfully for years for their partners, children, parents, friends to come to know Christ. Will those prayers be answered? Even it happens beyond our knowing?

I believe Jesus is the only way.
I believe we each have to make a choice.
I believe we will be very surprised to see who will be in heaven with us.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made

I nearly didn't go to Zac's tonight. I was in my usual 'Oh, I can't be bothered,' mood. I'm so glad I did go.

I'd only been there a few minutes and we were still in the chatting and coffee drinking mode, when there was a banging. Everyone went quiet and looked to the back where the noise was coming from. Micky was banging his mug on the table.

Micky is an alcoholic. Until recently he was a reformed (is that the right word?) alcoholic. He had a job, was going to church and was living with a lovely young woman. They'd bought a house and he was doing it up. Then I don't know what happened, but he began drinking again.

He was pretty far gone tonight and there was just a slight uneasiness and glances were exchanged in the moment's silence before he spoke. When he did speak his speech was slow and laboured. It was difficult to understand each word he said but it became clear he was reading from the Bible.

It was psalm 139 and, as he slowly ploughed his way through, the room was completely silent. He became more emotional towards the end but refused someone's whispered offer to finish it for him. He was going to do it, however long it took.

At the end he apologised for reading and said it had just come to him. Sean said there was nothing to apologise for. Micky wasn't the only one with tears in his eyes.

Psalm 139, as well as being a cry to search the writer's (David's) soul, is a wonderful testament to the worth of each individual.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

It's a conspiracy!

I was in the shower this afternoon and a huge daddy-long-legs came hurtling down the bathroom wall. I kept one eye on him - difficult when you've got soap everywhere - to make sure he didn't approach my towel.

* * * * * * * * * *

When George gets hyper and starts biting me more than his chewy toys I shut him in the kitchen for a few minutes to calm down but I have had a better idea. I am going to make him sit and watch 101 Dalmatians so he can see what Cruella de Ville does with fluffy puppies.

Alternatively I might get a water pistol as suggested by Ros at Zac's tonight.

* * * * * * * * * *

On the news tonight I heard the announcer say, that in Burma, 'Any incarnations without government consent have been declared illegal.'

I can't put my finger on it but there's just something adrift with that sentence.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What I am doing this morning

The pen pot on my desk fell over. It was a little over-full but every time I take out a pen to use, it doesn't work. So I decided I'd sort out the ones that work and throw away the others. And what do I find? Nearly all of them - the ones in the centre - work!

Also in my pen pot I found: three scissors, loads of elastic bands, three screwdrivers, one connector-pluggy thing, an old packet of incense and a catapult.

Now I still have too many pens so I'll sort them into blue and black. I don't like black ink.

The smell of freedom?

In prison on Sunday morning, not doing anything, just as support. One of the inmates, every time he sees me, reminds me of something I said when I spoke months ago. That's sweet, but then he sat next to me, which was fine, until he decided to take off his shoe. I discovered there's only so far you can lean sideways on a chair without a) making it look obvious; b) falling off.

A round-up

I haven't had time to blog for a few days so I have so many exciting tales to relate. (Bear in mind that I am not one to sail single-handedly around the world nor wrestle with hippos, so my idea of exciting might not be yours.)

Where to begin? Yesterday morning I think.

Picture this: woman in shower. Now, gentlemen, drag your minds back from images of Claudia Schiffer or Ann Widdecombe or whomever, and concentrate. After getting the worst off with a small towel, woman wraps bath towel around her. Woman becomes aware of a drip running across her back. After a moment she thinks, 'Across my back?' Woman screams, flings towel to floor, and rushes out of bathroom. Woman creeps back into bathroom and carefully unfolds rumpled towel, all the while ready to make quick exit should it be required. It isn't. Spider appears squashed and lifeless. But woman doesn't take any chances. Keeping an eye on spider, she cleans teeth, then leaves bathroom and towel for big brave man to sort out.

In work yesterday. Husband works from home on Mondays so I have changed my work day from Tuesday so I don't have to leave George alone for a long time. Not that that is relevant to this part of the story.

To get to work I have to turn right across the busy main road. Now I realise some of you would consider my idea of a busy road to be a country lane in comparison with what you drive through, but at 9 o'clock in the morning, it's busy for me. It's two lanes of steady traffic to get across. Yesterday morning we arrived at the junction, one car in front of us, and a big gap coming up. The car in front of us pulled out - and Betty stalled. And wouldn't start again until the gap had ended.

So we're sitting there, traffic building up behind us, me getting tenser and tenser. Betty you must understand, wouldn't be a bank robber's first choice for getaway vehicle; she wouldn't even be last choice. He'd probably rather run. So we need a bigger space than most. At last the closest thing to a gap appears. The car on the inside lane is turning left and there doesn't seem to be anything coming up fast in the outside lane. I say, 'Okay, Betty, this is it. Let's go!' I press down hard on the accelerator, close my eyes and pray. When I open my eyes, we're in the central bit. Yay! We made it. Well done, Betty!

Can you cope with any more excitement? Okay, last thing.

I went Christmas shopping in the afternoon. I've picked up a few bits over the weeks and, over the weekend, I checked out what i needed and what i had. Including the gifts I bought last year and then put away and forgot about, I was doing quite well. I also found the travel sickness pills I knew I'd bought for our holiday in September. But you want to know about the highlight of my day ...

I had to use a £20 note to pay the machine for £3.60 of parking. Ker-chunk, ker-chunk, ker-chunk ... I could have been in Vegas. 'I've won the jackpot!' I said to the lady standing behind me.
'Are you going to be long?' she said.

It's these little things that keep us going.

Brief interlude now while I disappear under the desk where George is eating wires.

George, don't do that.

I'm beginning to sound a lot like Joyce Grenfell, for those of you who remember her monologues.

After initially seeming to get the idea of going outside for lavatorial purposes, George has now decided it's more comfy to pee on the carpet. In between that and bonking his little doggy toy, Bungle, he's beginning to think his name is George-don't-do-that.
Elder Son paid a flying visit at the weekend. He was in Cardiff for the match so he was able to come and meet George.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Someone isn't so popular tonight

So I was sitting on the floor, as I always do, watching Wales get whopped by South Africa, when George comes and lies down beside me. He casually twists himself around so he can squeeze in between me and the sofa. Then he bites my bottom. Not a gentle little nibble but a crazy-vampire mouthful. Drawing blood and scarring me - quite probably for life.

I refused to talk to him for all of, ooh, two minutes. It's a good job he's gorgeous.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Changing the bed this morning I thought again how much I love my bed. It's absolutely the most comfortable one I know. Maybe that's to do in part with its age and condition. The way it accommodates me and the way I sleep. No matter which way I rotate or flip it, there is still a little dent in the mattress where my bottom goes.

That's because: Husband is away during the week so his half doesn't get as much use; and I wriggle a lot. It has nothing to do with the size of my bottom.

* * * * * * * * * *

Trinny and Suzannah this week, in their programme, Undress the Nation, looked at women's shapes. They concluded there were 12 standard shapes and all could be modelled by a household object.

I didn't fit exactly into any of the standards. I'd like to think that I'm an hourglass but, of their 12, cello is probably more truthful. Although, actually, double bass would be more lifelike.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Puppy proofing

We don't usually keep cushions down the sides of the television.

George thinks I am getting obsessive. Every time we go outside and all he wants is a great big adventure, mum says, 'Do you want to do wees or poos? For mummy?'
'No, mum, I want to throw myself off this wall ... whoops! Don't laugh! I meant to roll over like that.'

He is definitely descended from Harvey's line: I caught him chewing a sock stolen from my washing basket.

Radio and television

There's phrase that ladies of a certain age use a lot: it's my hormones. This morning, muttering to myself about something, I said, 'It's my cobwebs.' Cobwebs?!!! Now that must be down to my hormones. Or insanity.

I heard part of a programme on Radio 4 yesterday about insanity and the effect of the moon. It used to be thought that lunatics were affected by a full moon. Over the years loads of studies have been done, fairly inconclusively, although there were a couple of interesting theories mentioned.

a) Epileptics were treated as lunatics and kept in asylums that tended to be built away from the rest of humanity. Without electricity, nights in gloomy asylums would have been very dark so nights with a full moon would have been exceptionally bright. Epileptics can be affected by light so it's possible that this did cause fits.
b) The moon has an effect on tides. The human body is largely comprised of water, thus it's possible that the increased pull of the full moon had something to do with it.

The second one is less likely admittedly. But I think, although I only heard part of the report, that the most recent and extensive research showed that 34% of 'mad moments' happened when the moon was at its fullest. So not conclusive but a hint that it might be involved.

But I only heard this in bits. I bet you love it when I tell you about things I heard on the radio as I only ever get half the story.

But I did get the full story in The Archers. They're doing their bit of pro-turkey propaganda. It is safe to eat turkey at Christmas in spite of bird flu. Every year, Eddie Grundy, the struggling rapscallion of the show, raises turkeys and relies on their sale for a large part of his income. (Along with the sale of stolen holly and mistletoe.) (And poached rabbit.) This year his orders are at a much lower level than is normal for this time. He fears it could be a hard Christmas for the family. Go and order your turkey now! Rural livelihoods are in danger!

And I haven't mentioned Cranford. BBC's adaptation of Mrs Gaskell's novel began on Sunday evening. I haven't read the book and suspect that it would be rather too detailed for my taste - which is unfair and I should check it out properly - but judging by the first episode, this drama is going to be wonderful. Full of the best of British actors, it was just fantastic, detailing the nuances of pernickety etiquette-led lives of small town women with nothing to do. But women who will turn round and defy etiquette in favour of compassion. Brilliant.

Just to finish off I'll mention Grey's Anatomy. Husband bought the second series on DVD for my birthday and I settled down last night with George to watch one episode: it became two. Wonderful show again. I am the least hospital-drama-inclined person you could hope to meet, susceptible as I am to fainting at the sight of - or thought - of blood, and to hypochondria, but some of the incidents are so far-fetched as to be beyond even my imagination.

Last night there had been a train crash and two people were brought in held together by a steel pole that had gone right through both their middles. They sat face to face, skewered together, on the stretcher. It looked funny, especially as they were both joking, numbed by shock and a pole through the spine, but it had a tremendously moving ending. And then there was the pregnant man ... It's not a comedy but it has a lot of West Wing about its style, pace, humour and drama. Not to mention dishy doctors.


(in a museum of Resistance and Nazi memorabilia)

Way-worn by Oslo
one Sunday afternoon
our feet sought out
a museum's gentler pace:

a museum of shoes,
regiments and regiments
in row on neat row
of children's shoes,
removed and set down in and orderly manner
before the little ones were gassed of an afternoon.

So bereft of meaning are shoes without feet.

Stout little shoes,
shoes with laces and hardly worn -
unsplashed through puddles,
unscuffed against bark,
not a toecap grazed to bewail a fall,
no leather creased into durable smiles
by the deft percussion of tiny soles;
shoes hinting of

And that's how
there erupted this blister -
through bearing witness
one Sunday afternoon
to a people and the manner
they met their end
so noiselessly
in their stockinged feet.

By Menna Elfyn, translated from the Welsh by Nigel Jenkins

Reproduced after viewing the Poor Mouth's photo here.

There's one tried and trusted answer

And it doesn't matter what the question is.

There's a phrase that people of my children's generation use. I never use it myself because I am a lady and I am polite, but needs must when the devil something or others.

I recently read something the author of which is so up his own arse that he needs colonic irrigation. That's all. I won't be repeating that phrase. Unless I get very annoyed.

And, as you all know, the answer is chocolate.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I don't believe it!

I've done it again!

While on holiday in September I came across a story competition in my writing magazine. Being on holiday and in relaxed mood, I came up with a storyline to write up when I returned home.

Of course, on coming home life got in the way and the story wallowed in a deep recess in my brain. Then, as things on the Asian cooking writing front have gone quiet, today I decided to finish writing and submit it.

I've just about completed it but wanted to check on the actual theme of the contest to make sure I had it right - you know me and getting it wrong - so I rummaged through my old magazines until I found the correct one. I had the theme right but, yes, you've guessed it: the closing date was 19th November.

No matter how many times I check my calendar it's definitely gone past that date. I am such a plonker!

Does this look familiar?

I have photos of Harvey sitting in the doorway. I was outside taking the photo and (unsuccessfully) encouraging him to join me. At least this morning George co-operated - once he'd sat and viewed the scene for a moment or two.

(Notice the half-decorated walls. And the dustbin that can't be left in the kitchen with George.)

Unconditional love

An interesting theological discussion nearly took place in Zac's last night. Blossom is of the opinion that you can ask for forgiveness in advance. ''Look, December's coming up. I'm going to drink too much and do things I shouldn't. Doesn't it make sense to get my sorries in first?'

There's not a lot you can say to that, hence the discussion nearly but didn't take place.

What was discussed more was the idea of loving one's self. Jesus tells us to love God and to love our neighbour as our selves. If I don't love myself, how can I love my neighbour? Occasionally this is taken to extremes and becomes arrogance but I think that there are far more Christians who struggle to love themselves. Even those who seem most secure and confident often have deep-seated hatred - or certainly dislike - for themselves.

This can be the result of upbringing, of never being shown love, of being constantly put down, or of an experience of 'love' of the most vile kind.

Or it can be an awareness of sin in one's life and not being able to totally comprehend and accept God's forgiveness. Not being able to quite believe that God can love someone so imperfect. Which is the crux of Christianity.

Grace. A just God giving us what we don't deserve (forgiveness, love) and not giving us what we do deserve (punishment). I know it's something I haven't properly grasped yet; I struggle with liking myself - because I know what I'm really like.

Deni did a neat summing-up of what God's love is that included the word 'unconditional'. That's the difference. God knows what I'm really like and still he loves me. If only I could believe that.

We never let dogs sit on the furniture

But this is an old chair. And it's in the study. And he has been poorly. And he'll soon be too big. And, anyway, I wasn't there. Younger Son took this photo.

We took George back to the vet this afternoon. She wanted to make sure the treatment was working and he wasn't in any danger of getting blockages. I was able to report that he'd not been sick since the night before and that he LOVES chicken. He's never going to want to eat ordinary dog food again. When I was getting his lunch today he made more noise than you would have thought possible for a tiny puppy. He was very excited.

There was a large black dog in the vet's waiting room. Everyone was waiting for him. To be sick. His owners had got home and found that he and his brown brother had got into the living room and eaten a bag of chocolates. The vet gave them stuff to make them sick. And it turned out that the black dog was innocent: all the chocolate had been eaten by the chocolate-brown brother. Talk about the sins of the brother.

A couple of people have asked, 'Why George?' Well, no real reason. Younger Son, Husband and I had spent some time arguing about names and George was the only one on which we could all agree.

It took Husband and me six weeks to agree on Younger Son's name so George was settled on quite quickly in comparison.

Did I mention that I could get boring?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Isn't blogging wonderful?

Last week mdm sent me a link directing me to a Fox news site. On there was the story of an American fighter plane lost during world war 2.

Apparently the Lockheed-P38 Lightning crashed when its engines cut out while taking part in secret exercises. The pilot survived only to go missing in action three months later in Africa.

The plane has been buried by sand ever since but surfaced briefly in July and was spotted by beach visitors who reported it. The full story can be found here (the BBC report) or here (Fox News).

Members of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (Tighar) have visited the site and hope to recover what they've dubbed The Maid of Harlech. It's believed to be the only P-38 Lightning in its original condition.

And I wouldn't have known about this going on in my country if a blogger in America hadn't told me.

Haven't had a photo for two posts

Isn't it always the way? You think your child has malaria at least and when the doctor arrives, your child is up, running around, and demanding food. It was a bit like that with George. By the time I took him to the vet he was full of beans.

The vet has given us some different worming powder to use three nights consecutively and some probiotics to help calm down his tum . She suggested adding warm water to his food to make it smell more attractive, and also cooking a little chicken or rice to try and tempt him to eat. I did point out that he seems quite happy eating stones, fluff and leaves, both fresh and fallen, but she didn't think it was a wholly appropriate diet for a young pup.

He definitely has Harvey's genes. We would always make sure Harvey had a bowl of water indoors but he much preferred to go outside and find a dirty puddle from which to drink; George is doing the same.


Monday, November 19, 2007

A day of appointments

It wasn't meant to be; that's just the way it has turned out.

I was so (oh so) poorly when I woke this morning that Husband said I should go and see the doctor. My throat is very tender and it hurts when I talk. Otherwise I'm okay, apart from the snuffly nose that will probably be with me for months. The snuffles like to hang around I find: my nose is large and comfortable for them.

The doctor looked at my throat and said he didn't think it was a bacterial infection adding, 'But we doctors usually get it wrong.' I don't want him to tell me that! I am probably one of the few people who still has faith in doctors. I don't want to think that they could be wrong. Anyway he gave me a prescription saying not to get it for 24-48 hours to see which way my throat goes.

He also asked if I was feverish or hot. I replied that I was hot in the night, but acknowledged that 'at my age that could be anything.'

Enough of me; over to George. We're taking him back to the vet this afternoon as the poor little thing has (whisper this) worms. He is subdued and not eating. He is supposed to have been wormed before we had him but they must not have done it properly. Bless his little cotton socks, he is so gorgeous and coochy.

I've had porridge for lunch. I've been craving it for days so being poorly seemed like a good excuse. And now I remember how yummy it is, I will eat it more often. Made the proper way with milk and served with sugar, of course. I'm Welsh not Scottish.

Och aye the noo

There was an item on tonight's Feedback on Radio 4 about Scottish voices. (Feedback responds to listeners's letters.) One lady said (more or less), 'It's not that I don't like the Scots but do we have to have them on Radio 4?' Another lady said she couldn't understand what they said. They were amongst a number of people who've been complaining about the recent increase in Scottish voices.

I love the Scottish accent, and I've not noticed any more of it. But then again I don't think of James Naughtie as Scottish so maybe I'm not the most observant of creatures.

But for people to actually take the time to write in ...

Getting bored yet?

More on George

We have discovered from the pedigree chart that George is Harvey's great-great-great-great-nephew.

I think we might be able to see some resemblances already.

George isn't registered with the Kennel Club but both his parents are. We met them when we picked George up and they were both lovely, happy and healthy dogs. George had a check-up with our vet yesterday and he declared hm to be a healthy little (big) puppy. We had the choice of four puppies: it was very difficult. I would have quite happily taken two home with us but Husband is more sensible.

Above: George on the left at 8 weeks; Harvey on the right at going on for 15 years.
Below: George on the left at 8 weeks; Harvey on the right, probably at about 12-14 weeks. He was already 12 weeks old when we had him.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday Photohunt - I love ...

... my brand new Golden Retriever puppy!
Eight weeks old, collected today and as yet un-named!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Puppies ... and stuff

Oh, my, we're going to see some puppies this evening. Well, very soon, in fact. I am practically bursting with excitement.

I could become boring!! You know what proud mums are like.

* * * * * * * * *

Circuit training was fine last night. At the beginning I told Jules, the trainer, that I was coughy and snuffly and that I might not last the evening. As it turned out I was still better than some of the men there!

We're doing a lot of boxing these circuits. I'm no good at jabs or under-cuts (upper-cuts? under-cuts? whatever) because my left hand is an unruly as a teenage glue-sniffer but my hooks are dead good. I bet I could give Enzo Macaroni a run for his money hooking.

* * * * * * * * *

It was cold going to work this morning. The steering wheel was especially cold. I was in the black car and it has a heat vent by the side so I adjusted it so it was blowing at the wheel. Then I - wait for it - turned the steering wheel to get it closer to the air vent.

I went to Sainsburys and ...

I forgot my phone. But I did remember the 'Happy Birthday, Mrs Hinds. Have a free box of Sainsburys Taste the difference Belgian Truffles from us,' voucher. I get my priorities right.

And on the way there, I happened to call into Pet World. I mean, we are going to be getting a puppy soon so I thought I should be prepared. The puppy could sleep on Harvey's old new cushion - the one he had last Christmas that was so high and puffy he couldn't climb onto it - but it's so big it would far too scary for a little puppy. And as I was buying a bed, I thought I'd better buy the puppy a little companion as it's sure to miss its siblings.

While I was in the shop, I picked up and started reading a book about Golden Retrievers. It listed a load of questions you're supposed to ask the breeder before you get a puppy. They gave examples of good answers and bad answers. I doubt if Husband asked any of those questions when he bought Harvey, and he was just about perfect so I'm not sure if it matters too much.

Also, I was sort of leaning towards a girl puppy but reading the book, it suggests that you should choose not on gender but on personality. Pick the one that has the characteristics you like and that would fit in with your family. So, that'll be like Harvey then: stupid.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A suitable epitaph

In one of my birthday cards a friend wrote, 'Thank you for making me smile'; my writing buddy, in an email, said, 'I love getting messages from you, Lizzie, because they make me smile.'

I would be happy if that went on my tombstone: She made us smile.

Alternatively, 'She died as she would have wanted, choking on a Malteser.'

* * * * * * * * * * *

I have a coughy-cold. Coughy-colds make me drink a lot; coughy-colds make me cough a lot. Ordinarily I have problems doing star jumps in circuit training; with this extra burden, I won't stand a chance. I wonder if Sainsburys sells continence pants.

Did someone mention Maltesers?

On my shelf I have a collection of cards. Some have been sent to me; others I've bought just because I liked them. This is one of the latter.

Malteasing by Sarah Jane Szikora, produced by the Washington Green Card Company, from the Fat & Fab range.


Playing off

At the last moment this evening, having been dithering all day, I decided I would go to the Play-offs. This is a monthly competition for 10 minute snippets of 'work-in-progress' plays by local amateur writers. Writing Buddy, Derek, and I have been planning to enter for ... oh, years, and this summer we actually started writing. But we've stalled so I hoped attending the play-offs would give me a kick-start and that I, in turn, could kick Derek.

But, as is my wont, I left it to the last minute to decide, then sprayed on some perfume as I didn't have time to wash, and rushed out the door. (I had Maltesers for dinner.) Betty has been behaving for a few days now so I wasn't worried when she stalled. I turned the key and she grunted. Now, I was a little worried. I tried again. This time she put in a bit more effort before giving up. Panic levels were getting dangerously high by now. Then she started. It was a relief. Breaking down in the outside lane at traffic lights is rarely recommended. Especially when it's very cold and you don't have coat. Or your phone. (Note to self: put phone in handbag! NOW!)

Five excerpts were performed, or rather, read through. A lot does depend on the actors involved and if they have any idea of the script, but all the same, there were two clear winners. They now go on to the finals in December. At the end I spoke to Binda, who organises the play-offs and he said to get our script in and it could be included in the March event. So we'll have to do that. Judging by the quality of some of tonight's plays, we'll be in with as good a chance as anyone.

Boris the Morris (dancer)

It has taken me so many attempts to upload this post complete with the photo that I was beginning to think I was the victim of a conspiracy. But I am cleverer than I look.

What I was trying to say was this.

Boris has written a book of verse. So inspired by it was Dr Stu that he was compelled to write this little ditty.

There was a young poet called Boris
And he should have stayed in the forest
'stead of running for mayor
of London! My prayer
is to see him just dancing a Morris.

Prayers answered quickly (when Blogger allows); miracles take a little longer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Did you hear them?

You must have done: they were loud enough, the little voices coming from the Maltesers box saying, 'Let us out! We weren't meant to be kept wrapped up in cellophane. We were made to be free ... and eaten!'

Why I'm not doing what I should be

I am supposed to be writing about planning and serving Asian meals. It is very hard to concentrate on anything when there is a box of Maltesers in the other room.

Also I think my brain may be leaking.

And I have emailed two people about puppies.

Oh, yes, I remember. On Shades's blog there is a thingy that you can go to and it will tell you the reading level of your blog. I tried it out after first guessing what mine would be. I was right: Elementary School. A simple soul, me.

Smelly feet

Shirl, the V.O.B., sent me these chocolate-scented socks for my birthday. I invited several people to sniff my foot but they all said they'd take my word for it.
That Thai restaurant we visited gave departing ladies an orchid. Now there's posh for you.

By the way, Shirl's going through it a bit at the moment. Prayers or thoughts would be appreciated I know.

Making it up

Last week Chris, one of Linden's leaders, came into the office. He'd been to a seminar with a Jewish rabbi and he he told Alun and me some of the things the rabbi had said. This, of course, will be what I remember Chris saying and that he remembered the rabbi saying. So allow for interpretation!

The rabbi said that Christians like things to tie up, to be neat, while Jews much prefer it when they don't. 'Jews love to argue and discuss.' He also explained that the first five books of the Bible were written - I can't recall if there was a word for it - without spaces between words so there is a lot of room for discussion and arguing over what is actually meant. (I think I have that right; no doubt someone will correct me if I'm wrong!) He talked about midrash. I just looked that up and here is what was said:
Midrash minimizes the authority of the wording of the text as communication, normal language. It places the focus on the reader and the personal struggle of the reader to reach an acceptable moral application of the text. While it is always governed by the wording of the text, it allows for the reader to project his or her inner struggle into the text. This allows for some very powerful and moving interpretations which, to the ordinary user of language, seem to have very little connection with the text. The great weakness of this method is that it always threatens to replace the text with an outpouring of personal reflection. At its best it requires the presence of mystical insight not given to all readers.

Alun has been researching for the series of Sunday morning talks he's been doing and yesterday he said to me, 'I don't know where my faith is right now.'

The Bible isn't one book. It's a collection of books, written at different times by different authors. It's history; it's songs; it's love poetry; it's advice; it's stories. Matthew's gospel was written after Mark's and is based on Mark's. Matthew adds to it from his own memory and, in places, extrapolates from it, using what had happened previously and what was likely to have happened. In other words, he makes it up. It's the Jewish way.

But this was what had been causing Alun the problem. Until he realised something. 'It doesn't matter. I love God. That is what my faith is based upon.'

The Bible is a pointer, a guide, a help. It's not infallible; there are inaccuracies and inconsistencies. It may help someone to come to know God but if faith is built on facts then it's not faith and at some point it will crash.

In Zac's last night we heard about the man who'd been a disabled beggar for 38 years. Jesus healed him and the man got into trouble with the authorities for carrying his bed roll on the Sabbath. That led to a short discussion about what day is - or should be - the sabbath. One participant in the discussion was very concerned that the Sabbath had somehow been hi-jacked. It wasn't the time to say, 'It doesn't really matter.' She'll get there, in God's time.

And finally

On Friday evening we saw Spamalot, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Beforehand we were treated to a taxi ride with a well-informed driver. He pointed out to us the site of what will be No 1 Knightsbridge. The block of flats that will be there is barely taking shape and the top penthouse, our taxi driver told us, has already been sold for £85,000,000.

The fireworks display that the Lord Mayor arranged just for my birthday was spectacular. Launched from a barge in the middle of the Thames, the fireworks had me oohing and aahing to my heart's delight.

Sunday evening Husband took us to the Blue Elephant, a posh Thai restaurant that he'd previously visited nearly 20 years earlier. On that occasion Richard Branson was also eating there. I don't think anyone famous was there on Sunday but it was a bit hard to tell in amidst the jungle. Apart from the papaya - smelled like cheesy feet - and the green jelly - just vile - it was all very delicious.

As I said, before we left we visited the old churchyard wherein George Vancouver was buried. While we were searching for his grave we found many belonging to Lords and Ladies, including a Marchioness of Queensberry, but I was delighted to find this very old tombstone. I couldn't read what it said but I like to think it was a pirate's final earthly resting place.

I didn't get lost

On Sunday we went to Hampton Court Palace, just up the river from Richmond. Originally it was the home of Cardinal Wolsey, but he gave it to Henry VIII.

Hampton Court has two Guinness World records: one for the oldest vine in the world and one for the oldest maze. Planted by Capability Brown in 1768, the vine still produces hundreds of pounds of grapes each year, and they're sold to visitors to the palace. Now I think about it, the vine itself may have two records: it may also have the longest recorded branch.

The photo shows me with Elder Son and Daughter-in-law at the centre of the maze. I'd like to say that it was my navigating that took us there but I just followed. I get a bit anxious in mazes.
From the website: The famous Astronomical Clock made for Henry VIII in 1540 by Nicholas Oursian, Devisor of the King's Horologies (clocks) shows the hour, month, day, number of days since the beginning of the year, the phases of the moon and the time of high water at London Bridge - vital information in the days when tides governed travel to and from the palace. The sun revolves around the earth as the clock was designed before the discoveries of Galileo and Copernicus.
It's currently been taken down while repairs to the tower go on.


The Lord Mayor's Show - just for me

The Lord Mayor's Show was an amazing parade of all sorts. Soldiers, bands, floats from schools and colleges, different country representatives, animal charities, old vehicles, new vehicles, armed forces, old and new, young and not-so. And Worshipful Companies of ... basket-makers, paviors, farmers, you name it, they had someone dressed in their livery. I need to look that up as I'm not sure what it all means. The parade also contained lots of aldermen in carriages, many waving hand puppets - to amuse the children apparently. (Oh, I just finished my packet of Maltesers without noticing.) These photos just give you a little glimpse; it took about an hour for the parade to pass and that was without stopping. You would be incredibly bored if I showed you all my photos!


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I think of you

... even when I'm away having a wonderful time.

We stayed in a hotel on the top of Richmond Hill. Just across the road is a promenade that overlooks Richmond water meadows and the Thames, as well as a lot of west London. They have one of those panoramic photos that tells you what and where everything is. I noticed on it that we were just up the road from Petersham, which is 'the most elegant village in England'. (For elegant, read rich. Not what I would think of as a village, full of very large, posh houses, but beautiful architecture - a mix of Georgian, Edwardian etc.) Furthermore I read that, buried in the grounds of the local church was 'Captain George Vancouver who discovered Vancouver Island.' (That must have been a coincidence coming across a place that had the same name as him!)
So I made Husband join me in a search of the churchyard to find the grave just so I could take a photo for jmb. We were on the point of giving up and leaving when we spotted a tiny sign pointing to the grave. Our mistake when searching had been to look for an old grave and ignore the one or two modern tombstones. But here it is.
And now here, just for Mutley, are some genuine antique pies from the kitchens of Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace. I saw them and thought of you.

Lots more to come!

Happy Birthday to me!

Thank you to everyone for the birthday greetings! I've had a wonderful weekend and birthday today. I even went circuit training tonight (necessary after the weekend of eating I've had) and we finished off with a run that turned into a race and I have to say that I did pretty well for a 55-year-old!

Full of chocolate now and I'm off to bed. Lots more to follow (chocolate and photos).

Friday, November 09, 2007

Happy un-birthday to me

It's not my birthday today. Some people may think it is but that's because Mutley misread 12th for 9th. An easy mistake to make.

Thank you anyway, Lord N. I shall carry forward your greetings to Monday!

Husband is taking me to London this afternoon. We're going to see Spamalot tonight and spending the weekend between seeing Elder Son and Daughter-in-law, and doing touristy things. Then we come back on Monday. So I shall be quiet for the next few days.

Quiet blog-wise, I mean. In real-life I will be doing a lot of excited squeaking. For a middle-aged woman, I get way too excited about my birthday!

Have a good weekend. I will!!!

I have just found out that the Lord Mayor of London (not to be confused with Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London) is having a special parade and spectacular firework display tomorrow - just for my birthday! Isn't that wonderful of him?

Did I mention that I am excited?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I have a rash

No, don't rush away! It's not contagious. It's not even a physical rash. It's a blog rash.

There's a blog I visit occasionally and each time I do, it drives me to distraction. It is almost complete twaddle! I resolve to stop visiting but it's like a rash: I know I shouldn't scratch it because scratching will make it worse, but sometimes I can't help myself.

Perhaps I need a strait-jacket.

On a cheerier note: big Happy Birthday to JMB today!!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Our delivery boy

I've been having trouble (have you noticed how many of my posts start like that?) with Blogger not uploading my photos. But it's finally done these two small ones. I think you can click on them to enlarge and get a better look: I didn't like to risk trying to persuade it to give me a bigger size.

Anyway the one on the left is our delivery 'boy'. I was getting worried watching him come up the steps as it looked as though he wasn't going to make it. He must be tougher than he looks though, wearing shorts in this weather. With black socks.

The photo on the right shows Betty's interior and her new seat cover. She only has one as I wanted to see if it fitted. And she won't be getting any more if she doesn't start behaving. We could all blame the cold weather for our sluggishness but most of us don't get away with it.

I think I would like a job as a millionaire. How does one go about applying?

I was sitting here typing away this morning when my hand started hurting. 'Ouch,' I said. I looked down and I had a cut on my hand. It looks just like the sort of jaggedy cut you get from a vicious bramble bush. I have no idea where it came from.

Yesterday Younger Son became aware of a pain in his hand and he too found a cut. His was bleeding profusely. Which wasn't good as he was knocking doors at the time and knocking on doors with a bleedin' hand isn't good door-to-door etiquette.

I suspect it is the work of an aggrieved fairy who is taking out her fury on innocent bystanders. As far as I am aware I haven't upset any fairies recently.

Have I mentioned Younger Son's bedroom? Really it's not the sort of thing I want to mention but I need to here to make the point of what I am saying. YS has my 'I'll just leave it here for now and put it away later' gene, and when one's bedroom is quite small, this leads to some - what only can be described as - mess.

He has been driving his work mates around recently as they've all been doing door-to-door-ing. His colleagues are eating in the car and leaving their rubbish there. YS complained to them. So next time they stopped and ate in the car, when they'd finished one of his colleagues opened the car door and put his rubbish outside. 'What are you doing?' YS remonstrated.

'You told me not to leave rubbish in your car.'

'Yes, but you're not supposed to leave it on the pavement! Bring it back in.'

I am very proud of my son.


What is a Christian?

When I was thinking about this post I initially thought I could list what being a Christian isn't, but that seemed very negative, and God isn't into negatives. So instead, I'm saying what, for me, being a christian is.

Very little is black and white in my faith. Three things, I think, are:
Jesus died for me;
Jesus is the son of God;
God is.

I suppose I could add that I believe God is the creator of all things, that Jesus rose from the dead, and that he was born of a virgin. And I guess, if I thought about it, I could go on and list lots of other things that I believe, but the important words, the ones that sum up my faith, are in those first three phrases. God. Jesus. Me.

Because Jesus died for me, I am able to have a relationship with God. A personal, living relationship. And it's nothing to do with me and what I've done or haven't done in my life. And it's nothing to do with anyone else either. It was instigated by God. All I have to do is choose to accept and believe.

And that conscious decision-making, to turn away from self and to God, is an act of faith.

And a lot of faith is just about holding on. Oftentimes in spite of, not because of. Holding on in spite of the arguments, the logic, the unbelief; holding on in spite of the pain, the doubt, the seeming absence of God.

Is it worth it? Yes. Not for the promise of what is to come but for what is now. Unconditional love. Grace. Forgiveness.

Sometimes the hardest thing is to accept a gift. It's much easier to accept a reward if you've done something to deserve it. But there's nothing I have to do: Jesus has done it all.

A room by the lake

I just switched off the little fan heater and asked myself, 'Why is the music still playing? I've just switched ... the little fan heater off.' That's why the music is still playing. Hey ho.

I'm dancing to Reelin' in the Years by Steely Dan. Sitting in my chair-type dancing, you understand.

On Sunday afternoon Husband fell asleep in the bath. He only woke up when he got cold because the plug wasn't in properly and the water had run out. Now that's old!

I'm not that old. Although I did something on Sunday afternoon that I haven't done for a long time: I watched a film on television. I thought I was watching Hotel du Lac but it was Room with a View. It's an easy mistake to make as it's written by the same ... different authors. But the actors in them are the sa ... different. It was that woman with the long thin face in Hotel du Lac. Not Helen Mirren. I don't think I'd like Helen Mirren but I can't remember what makes me think that.

I've just been out to the shops. Betty doesn't like winter; she has started stopping again. I have to speak severely to her. And, at the weekend, I bought her a smart new seat cover. It is black with pink flowers. I shall take a photo tomorrow.

Now I am going to make butternut squash soup to Daughter's recipe.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Just testing, not working

My computer is so slow it's driving me around the bend. I'm trying to podcast my little talky bit but it doesn't seem to be working yet. I have to do some other work now but in the words of Arnie, I'll be back.

No, my podcast isn't working but if you pop over to my sidebar you can hear my little talky bit!! If you really want to. And later on I'll upload the monologue I read: narrated by Sarah when Abraham and Isaac have left to go to the mountain (for the sacrifice).

Later still
Now I've uploaded Sarah's monologue for anyone who'd like to hear. Alun and I split the morning between us. He recapped on what's gone before and gave a bit of historical context regarding sacrifice, then handed over to me. I read my monologue, then Alun talked about the prophetic aspect of the story. How Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son was foretelling the willingness of God to give his son. It's even thought that Mount Moriah, the site of Abraham's sacrifice, was the same place as Golgotha where Christ was crucified. I finished it off with my talky bit about sacrifice now. And that was the morning.

Monday, November 05, 2007

An all round good day

So the morning in church went well and I got home and found an email telling me an article I'd written had won me $100! And the article was about ... football!!!!

For goodness sake, I know nothing about football! The site, for which I write about rugby, was asking for articles about the weekend's big game between Manchester United and Arsenal. This was on Thursday. I quizzed Younger Son who happens to be an Arsenal supporter then sat down and scribbled out a piece.

I finished it off on Friday afternoon, read it back and umm-ed and aah-ed about whether to submit it as my lack of real knowledge was going to look pretty obvious. 'Hey, what the heck?' I thought and sent it off.

Arsenal and Man U helped my case as they didn't play well - apparently - and the result was a draw, which was what I'd sort of anticipated in my article. So go me! Although Younger Son thinks he deserves a share of my prize. (Fat chance!)

* * * * * * * * * *

Then this afternoon Husband booked a London hotel to take me away next weekend as a birthday treat. And he booked tickets for Spamalot. What a lucky girl I am.

The only disappointment is that we couldn't go and see a puppy this weekend but we might be able to on my birthday. Life is good.

As predicted

Lots of people encouraged me before this morning saying, 'You'll be fine,' and I was. No, that sounds wrong. I mean that I said what I wanted to say without stumbling or forgetting or making too many mistakes.

I'm going to try and get the tape but, in the meantime, Ian asked what conclusions we'd reached, so I thought I'd precis my talky bit. Although if I precis it too much it'll be non-existent!

I started off by saying that, no, I wouldn't kill my child. I continued by saying that if I were 100% convinced that God was telling me to, and that others agreed, then we'd be a cult and be arrested. And quite rightly. God doesn't want human sacrifices; Jesus was the human sacrifice to end all sacrifice. In dying he did it all for us.

Then I considered what God had asked me to sacrifice in my life. I couldn't think of anything. Either God hasn't asked me or I didn't hear him. Or I pretended not to hear.

I went on then to look at what others have sacrificed and that varied from their lives to good jobs to their record collections. And these are the last three paragraphs of my talky bit:

"Sacrifices come in all shapes and forms; it’s not one size fits all. The sacrifice God asks of you might be to give up a good job to work with addicts or in a slum. Or now might not be the right time for that particular sacrifice. Now maybe all he wants of you is to give some time to a friend who’s lonely. Maybe that’s the biggest sacrifice he’ll ever ask of you. Sacrifices don’t have to be huge.

"In Psalm 51 David wrote, 'You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.'

"I guess God had no intention of allowing Abraham to kill Isaac; he just wanted to see how great Abraham’s trust was. And I think what God wants from us most of all is a willingness to trust him, an openness to hear him, and a generosity of spirit.

"I wonder if rather than view sacrifice as a giving up, a hardship, we should perhaps think of it as a giving up to God of our time, our energy, our money, our passion, our compassion. He was willing to sacrifice everything for us; what are we willing to give to him in return?"


Sunday, November 04, 2007

Final touches

It's 10:42 pm and I'm just putting the final touches to my talky bit for tomorrow. Little touches like making sure the print is big enough for me to read it without having to wear my glasses (vanity, thy name is woman). Not that I'm planning on reading it: I just want it there to remind me in case I go blank.

I practised it in the bath tonight. The taps didn't say anything but they didn't boo either so I took that as a good sign.

Time for bed now. Nighty night.