Wednesday, January 31, 2007

You think?

I took the 'Which religion is the right one for you?' quiz, and this is what it came up with.

Your views are most similar to those of Christianity. Do more research on Christianity and possibly consider being baptized and accepting Jesus, if you aren't already Christian.

Although I rated pretty high on paganism too.

Answers on a postcard, please

I still haven't worked out what to do with this chafing dish.As I hope you can see, it's not the sort of thing you can lose easily in the back of a cupboard.

Definitely going to work now. No more blogging.

to-do today

In case you think this blog's been taken over by all things god-like, I'll change the subject.

Although, actually, I'm going to talk about Jonny Wilkinson so maybe not too far removed from god-like. (There's a question on - I think - Moristotle's blog about God having a sense of humour; I am in deep doo-doo if he doesn't!)

I've made a list of things to do today and amongst the numerous items is: write a piece about rugby.

The Six Nations starts on Saturday. (For those of you not rugby-inclined I will provide the link to the article I'm writing - when it's written; it might explain a bit. Especially to me.)

Hip, hip, hooray, Jonny Wilkinson has been named in the English team. Husband is a great English supporter so having Jonny playing will give me some reason to watch the England games (without spitting too much).
But I also have to write about cakes - without eating any. It's a hard life.

God's not fair

For goodness sake, Blogger has a worse memory than I! I've told it my user name enough times and asked it to remember, but does it? Does it heckaslike.

Anyway, I wanted to think about Zac's last night before I wrote anything.

First thing: I joined in the discussion! Now that might not seem like much but it's a big deal for me. I talk a lot on here but in real life, I'm a shy little thing. I think i was helped by a quote I read on
Winston's blog. "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." (Dr Seuss) (??)

It's something I've told myself before but reading that just kick-started me to think it again, so thank you, Winston.

At Zac's, we were looking at things that were lost and found, like the sheep, the coin and the son - the prodigal. In that last story, younger son takes his half of the inheritance, goes off, blows it and ends up crawling home to dad, who is thrilled and throws a party for him. When older brother comes home from work, where he has been every day while younger bro has been living it up, he is, to quote Jenny, 'pissed off'.

Jenny and I were in a minority last night as we fully understood older brother's feelings, and felt it wasn't fair. It was suggested that the older brother's motives might have been suspect: he might have stayed home and worked out of a sense of duty rather than love; he was jealous of younger brother; and so on. Again all reasonable emotions and don't necessarily make him a bad man, but, as was pointed out, this was a parable - a made-up story - Jesus told, and, as such, had hidden meanings.

Okay, that's fair enough, but Lucy and I were still a bit hmmm about it.

Then I remembered the story of the farmer who employed men to work in his fields. Some started at 9 o'clock; others turned up and lunchtime and were employed; still more turned up at 4 o'clock and were given work. At the end of the day, they were all given the same pay. Now every time I read this story I want to shout, 'That's not fair!'

It wasn't until I was getting ready for bed last night - and I'd switched off the computer or I would have written it then - that I had this flash!!

God's not fair.

If he were fair, and playing by our rules, I'd have been given a red card and sent off long ago. But he's not fair; he's playing by his rules. If I want to benefit from that,then I have to allow others to as well: I have to play by his rules.

Thank God for that.

Navel gazing

It's strange how some people can seem to be doing the right thing but can really irritate you and then you realise it's because it's for the wrong reasons. They take on a strut, an arrogance, a listen to me I'm doing all this, aren't I wonderful, so much better than them, stance, that they don't see themselves. Don't see that in so doing, they are becoming exactly like them.

But maybe we're all like that. It's so much easier to see the grit in someone else's eye than the boulder in your own.

One thing in my favour is that I am scrupulously honest with myself. I know exactly what I am doing and, more importantly, why I am doing it. And more often than not I know I'm doing things for the wrong reason. It doesn't stop me; just makes me like myself less.

It's too late for all this befuddled meditation. Sorry.

* * * * * * * * * * *

At Zac's tonight Jenny and I were trying to remember the missing line:

Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner
................. pie.
He stuck in his thumb
And pulled out a plum
And said, 'What a good boy am I.'

I had to search the web when I got home. 'Eating his Christmas pie.'

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Look at that!

I just registered for YouTube and uploaded the Harvey film show I made last year. (It was available through a link at the side but it's not there any longer.)

Gosh, I feel pleased with myself and it was very easy to upload it; I thought it would be much harder. Isn't technology wonderful?

What can I do next, that's the question? A trip round Gower? Hmmm, this could be way too distracting!

Harvey: My life as a dog

Dream on

There were two new girls in circuit class tonight. Jules, the trainer, put them with Aly and me, saying we were the 'dream team'!

And I don't believe that Jules says that to all the girls, no matter what Chris says.

Actually it just means that we've been going for so long we know what to do, not that we do it well, but yay! I'm in the Dream Team.

Do you know this man?

In church yesterday we had a guest speaker. His name was Phil and he told the story of the pharisees bringing to Jesus the woman 'caught in adultery'.

They asked Jesus what they should do with her (the punishment required by law was stoning).

Jesus didn't say anything; he bent over and started to write in the sand. It doesn't say what he wrote. He might have written, 'Where's the man?'

Phil suggested that the reason Jesus wrote anything was to draw the crowd's attention away from the woman, who would have been shamed and fearful.

When he was sure he had all their attention, Jesus said, 'Let him without sin cast the first stone.'

Gradually they all drifted away until it was only the woman and Jesus left. He turned to her and said, 'Go and sin no more.'

You see, that is the God I worship. The God of forgiveness and love.

I have trouble recognising the God portrayed in anti-Christian rants, the one blamed for the fundamentalists and extremists.

The God I know cares not only for the big things but for the little things too. Yes, Jesus saved her life, but he also cared enough about her immediate humiliation and fear to give her some freedom from that, and some dignity.

That is the God I love.

He only needs a mac

Honestly, if I didn't know who was following me, I would swear it was a dirty old man. Harvey has perfected the art of heavy breathing.

We only walked round the block and into the tip a bit today as his back leg was dodgy yesterday and he kept tripping over the long grass in the playing fields. Bless him, he's not as young as he was. Yes, I know I'm not either ... no, okay, I'm sorry, I won't embarrass you again ... all right, you don't have to go on about it ... look, if you're not careful I'll tell them about some of your other habits ... you know what other habits.

That's better. And don't mutter.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Wine on tap?


It will be written on my tombstone, 'Well, she tried.' And probably graffiti-ed next to it, 'She was very trying.'

There has been a new lady in church for the last few weeks; we have made eye contact and exchanged smiles. This morning I spotted her sitting three rows in front of me. I determined that today I would speak to her properly.

At the end of the meeting, she got up and headed across the room. Undaunted I jumped up, followed her, and put my hand on her shoulder. 'Hello, I'm Liz; I've been meaning to talk to you properly for ages.'

She looked at me blankly.

Did I have the wrong woman?

She politely gave me her name and then said, 'I can't see my little boy; I'm sure he's wandering around.'
'Is that him?' I pointed at a small child.

I definitely had the wrong woman.

She made an excuse to go and speak to someone else, and I went in search of a cup of tea.

Ah, well, the intention was good. (Roads to hell etc)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Have you submitted your tax return?

A week or so ago I had a phone call from a lady at the tax office. She said she had noticed that I hadn't submitted my tax return yet and was I aware it had to be done by 31st January.

I said yes I did know but it was very kind of her to be concerned and I would write myself a big note to make sure I remembered to do it.

It's nice to think that they take such a personal interest, isn't it?

Now I didn't want to let her down - imagine her disappointment if, come 1st February, she checked and my form wasn't in! - so this afternoon I sat down to do my accounts so accountant, aka Husband, could do the online bit for me.

It took me all of half an hour and the back of an envelope.

Our scales lie

They must do.

I have had a good eating week so there is no way that I can't have lost weight. I mean, how many calories can there be in a buttered toasted teacake, tube of Maltesers and a slice of cream sponge? Not many, precisely. Humph.

Perhaps I should write to Morrisons while I am grumpy.

They have an enormous advert outside their store saying, 'The smart way to eat healthier'. Not only is it wrong grammatically, it sounds dreadful when you say it aloud. Honestly, people get paid loads of money to write that drivel. Right, where's the Morrisons' website?

There, I've written to them!

Is that very sad?

Ah, well, better to write than eat chocolate.

Also I noticed that Tesco advertise the fact that they recycle their car-cleaning water. It's probably best to get in there early in the day then, before it's had too many dirty cars to wash.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


Just heard from a magazine I had approached about writing a feature; they said no.

I am so FED-UP of that word.

But at least they replied.
What I feel like doing. I knew I should have bought chocolate.

Do unto others

William Wilberforce said, "God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners."

He wasn't so bothered about punctuation though.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Sexy skin

I'm waiting for a cake to bake.

I might have mentioned Dave, who works with us, and it's his 21st birthday tomorrow. I thought I'd make him a cake. I bought the ingredients and had it all planned and then forgot until 10 o'clock tonight. Which is why I'm sitting here blogging instead of being in bed sleeping.

Having already mentioned, or implied at least, the state of my wardrobe shelf, I wonder if I should tell you about the cupboard above my eye-level oven. Ah well, you probably already have an idea of what sort of woman I am. So, do any of you have the sort of cupboard that necessitates you having to put your hand over your head before opening it ... just in case?

The thing is that I keep all my baking tins above the oven so it's not nice if they fall out. On my head. Or clatter noisily to the floor.

It's not entirely my fault (I am not quite of the faultless generation). Baking tins come in all sorts of shapes and sizes; it's very difficult to stack them neatly.

And I still haven't decided what to do with this chafing dish.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Talking to someone today I discovered that we have a mutual acquaintance in Nigel Jenkins. He is poet with a deep, resonant, Welsh, musical voice.

He was one of the tutors on my writing course and I had occasion to read aloud a short story I had written. It included the phrase 'the skin on the rice pudding', about which Nigel made some comment. Later, talking with other women on the course, we all agreed that we had never realised it was possible for skin on rice pudding to sound sexy.

It's a braw bricht moonlit nicht the nicht

Happy Burns' Night to Dr Stu and any other Scots reading. Hope you're piping in the haggis and drinking its health with wee dram of malt, or two.

Did you know you can get vegetarian haggis? (Haggises? Haggii?)

You can hurl the haggis here.


Months ago Dr Stu suggested I join a meme doing panoramas from the window. This is a cheat as it's from the sea-front just down the road from us. I took another 8 photos to encompass the whole bay but couldn't get them to join up properly. (I only managed this much thanks to Sarchi's help.)

The first big building from the left is the hospital, with wards nearly all at the front overlooking the bay, and then you get to the university (the next few tall buildings). Most of the city centre is in the gap between the hills.

Not only do you get a view from your hospital bed, you get good medication too. My 91-year-old uncle is in hospital at the moment. He reckons that, each morning, he has seen an elephant in the university playing fields.

Who you calling a MUT?

Fiddle. I've been shouting at Harvey because he kept barking for no reason but now he's gone quiet and that means I am going to have get up and go in the kitchen and make sure he is still alive.

He is.

It has been the afternoon for snazzy sports cars to drive past. Our house is on a little sort-of lane just off the main road. there is no reason to drive along it unless you are coming to one of the five or so houses or you are lost. But two cars, both with personal number plates have driven along. The first one was dark blue and had the numberplate G10 GAV: the other one was M11 MUT.

The first one must have been Gavin Henson's car! He plays number 10 (sometimes). but I don't know about the second.

My theory (for them both being along our lane) is that the rugby club are running a treasure hunt that has led them to our house. I can even imagine a clue: what name does Luxembourg's house have?

You see, our house has a name, Lonisa, and a number, 208, which is also the wavelength that Radio Luxembourg used to be - and possibly still is - on.

It works for me.

But I still haven't worked out who MUT is.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I should have stayed out of the kitchen. I disturbed Harvs who is now standing next to me barking.

Before going out this morning, while rummaging in the top shelf of my wardrobe looking for a scarf, I came across a cardigan and a skirt and I am convinced I have never seen either of them before.

The skirt is brand new and still has its shop tag on it. If it wasn't for the fact that it was in a shop carrier bag I would think I had taken up shoplifting in my sleep. I do hope I haven't. Would they accept the fact that I was asleep as a good excuse? I doubt it: they like to 'make examples' of people.

It's not even a nice skirt.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I was wondering how to label this post.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Portrait of the author as a young dog

The girl from Ipanema

Listening to the radio in the car this morning I heard a programme about the latest health fad: acai juice.

The acai berry comes from the Amazon jungle, is said have amazing health-giving properties, and is the favourite tipple of bronzed Ipanema beach boys.

What should I see on the shelf in Tesco's but a carton of acai juice. After such a build-up I had to buy some, so if I start flexing my pecs and slapping on the baby oil, you'll know what to blame.

Taste note: this particular juice is blended with mango and pineapple and is rather sweet and syrupy

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I thought I was going shopping ...

but I had an adventure!

It started in Borders, which is always a treat in itself. Bearing in mind Husband's admonition not to spend ANY money, I - almost - only bought cards I needed rather than cards I just liked the look of. And a book. Or two. But they are presents so they don't count.

Then I went to Tesco. Boring in itself, but I went through the self-service checkout! Yes, scanning items and weighing them just like a real checkout operator. It was like being a little girl playing shop again. It was so exciting, oh ... do you think I should get out more?

I know it's not funny ...

but how can you not smile when you hear on the news that someone made a bomb out of hydrogen peroxide and chapatti flour?

I wonder if organic wholemeal would have worked as well.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Also on the news was the fact that the number of pet dogs in Beijing is rising rapidly. The Chinese government has ruled that families must not have more than one dog. One man said he had four but that they stayed with other families. I suppose that is easier than farming out extra children.

* * * * * * * * * * *

A flamingo has been blown away from a zoo in south England. Florence has been missing for a week now.

Get with the beat

I was just sitting on the toilet playing my knees.

I had my first drum lesson last night.

I used to go to a drumming group but it clashes with Zac's, so when I had the opportunity to buy some lessons, in an auction the church held in aid of its fund-raising for Mutende Children's Village in Zambia, I went for it.

Husband wondered if Pete, the teacher, had any idea what he was letting himself in for. 'Does he know you have the co-ordination of a blind wombat?'

(Why a blind wombat particularly I don't know. Maybe they are renowned for their lack of ball-handling skills, a disaster in a cricket-loving nation.)

Anyway I had my first lesson. For homework I have to practise a drill.

First tap your right hand on your knee to the count of 4. 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

Now add in a tap of your right foot on 1

Then a tap with your left hand on 3.

This, apparently, is the basic rock beat that is most often used.

I have come to the conclusion that my right foot has a will of its own; it doesn't like being left out. It adds in a tap whenever it feels another limb is getting too much attention.

(Limb? Is a hand a limb? What else is it called?)

We also tuned my bongos.

Not only do i lack co-ordination, I am tone deaf.

Pete said, 'Hear the difference?' as he tweaked the skin.
'Yes,' I nodded. Ha ha ha.

Still I am looking forward to the day when I join music group one Sunday morning in church and suddenly let fly with ba boom biddy boom ba ba barum bas shum tum pa rum pa boom chitty boom ba boom babadoom! Keith Moon, eat your heart out.

Like the Queen

Harvey has two birthdays, and today he becomes a centenarian (or is that centurion?) - yes, he's 100 in doggy years!

Happy Birthday, Harvey!

He's lying behind the front door waiting for the postman to bring his telegram from the royal corgis.

(Do postmen bring telegrams? Do telegrams still exist? Should he be on the lookout for a regal email?)

I will take the birthday portrait later.

Blogs you might like to visit

Dogs might like to recommend to their humans a visit to The Vegetable Kitchen Diaries

Moristotle is running a small religious survey prior to a meeting with a former Muslim; if you'd like to pop along and take it, he'd be very grateful.

Dim bloggio - NO!

I thought I should explain a little more about Welsh ways.

If a word doesn't have an existing translation in Welsh, we have a tendency to create our own. So we have signs saying Dim Smocio, Dim Parcio, where dim means no. I'll leave the rest to you to work out.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Male logic

We have a new photocopier in work, have I mentioned that? It must be a Welsh one: it's called Workio. (You probably need to have some familirrity with Welsh ways to understand that.)

It's also male.

You can tell by its logic ... or lack of.

It's very clever, there's no denying that. It can do all sorts of things our old photocopier couldn't. Actually that would be most things as our old one struggled to reproduce just one page, but this one can do double-sided printing.

Now if you have two sides and you want them to come out, double-sided, on one sheet of paper, wouldn't you think that would be 2>1?

Nuh-uh. It's 1>2. Alun says that is perfectly logical; I disagree (as you can probably tell). What do you think?

P.S. The Spellchecker thinks that familirrity in the first paragraph is an okay word. It should, of course, be familiarity. (Strangely enough it is picking it up the second time but still ignoring the first usage. Must be male too.)

On my way to work this morning

Monday, January 22, 2007

What a mug!

On her blog, Parenthetically Speaking, Serena writes abut having a favourite mug. Some years ago Daughter bought me this mug:
But I'll forgive her, as, some time later, she bought me this one:

But Harvey is 90% dog

You Are: 90% Dog, 10% Cat

You're a dog at heart - and it's not a bad thing at all!
You love unconditionally, and you're extremely loyal.
And while you may act silly at times, you're really quite smart - and a good learner!

70% Doggy, that's me

You Are: 70% Dog, 30% Cat
You and dogs definitely have a lot in common.You're both goofy, happy, and content with the small things in life.However, you're definitely not as needy as the average dog. You need your down time occasionally.

What to do, that's the question

While sorting out the dining room on Saturday I came across two Christmas presents we'd been given. 'Came across' isn't quite accurate: they've been sitting in the corner, staring reproachfully at me, since Christmas Day.

They're both physically large and probably fairly expensive. One is decorative - though not to my taste - in nature; the other has a more practical - for the once-a-year occasion - usage.

I have given in and put the one on display, in the hope that I will grow to love, or even like, it.

The other, I admit, would be useful, but where to keep it for the 364 days that it's not being used; it is, as I said, large.

But what else could I do with it?

Sell it on eBay? High postage costs would deter potential buyers. Give to a charity shop? A possibility. Give as a present? YES! Elder Son gets married soon!!!! Two birds.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Harvey must be the only dog in the world who gets a round of applause when he comes in the house. (For getting up the backdoor step on his own.)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Day sleeping

It seems that not only do I sleep through things at night, I also sleep through things at day.

Alun mentioned Geoff.
'Who?' I said.
'Geoff, in church; the man with one arm.'
'There's a man with one arm in church?!'

* * * * * * * * * * *

A girl came to our door yesterday. She was selling 'organic horse manure'.

Does she mean from horses not fed on steroids or is it a good marketing ploy?

The Spring has sprung (or is springing)

He was warned

Husband said, if Harvey barked again, he would get suds on his nose.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

I blame it on Valerie

Our electric toothbrush gave up. Stopped bristling. Ceased cleansing. So I bought a new one.

With it came a wall rack and this rather dashing carry-case:

The trouble is that I don't carry my electric toothbrush anywhere. if I go away, I take an ordinary toothbrush. So I have a dilemma.

What shall I do with the case?

Throw it away is the obvious answer.

But then part of me says, 'Ah, but what if, one day, you decide to take your electric toothbrush away with you? You'll need it then.'
'Don't be so stupid. If I decide to take it somewhere with me, I can just pack it normally.'
'Okay, but think what a waste it will be if you throw it away.'
'Yes, but what can else can I use it for?'
'Think! There must be something. You can't just throw away a perfectly good, white plastic container. What about your glasses? You've lost your glasses case.'
'Yes, but this has got little ridges in the wrong places. It's no good; I'm going to throw it away.'
'I'm going to say one thing to you: Valerie Singleton.'

For the benefit people not brought up in this country and those not of a certain age, let me explain who Valerie Singleton is.

From 1962 till 1972, she was one of the presenters on the children's television programme, Blue Peter. The show started in 1958 and is still going strong with its mixture of news, facts, cooking, stunts, travel, pets, gardening, fund-raising and gift-making. 'Here's one I made earlier,' is a catchphrase that has gone down in history, usually referring to a delightful gift for mums or aunties, made of toilet rolls and glitter.

But that 'Blue Peter' mentality is precisely the reason I find it so hard to throw things out: they might come in useful one day. (Completely ignoring the fact that I am one of the least skillful craftsmen you could hope to find.)
So I'll keep the toothbrush case in the tall boy - just in case.

Word games

Ian of Shades of Grey pointed me in the direction of the Imagined Community who, in turn, has borrowed this parlour game from elsewhere.

The idea is to read down the spine of a book to make a sentence from the title and author combined. Some of the ones listed on Imagined Community are:
Fear L. Ron Hubbard;

Byzantium Endures Michael Moorcock;
The Cider House Rules John Irving;
The Plague Dogs Richard Adams.

The best I can come up with at the moment - and it involves cheating a bit - is: I, Claudius, rob graves.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Going back to my previous post about punctuation, last night, in Writers' News, I read a snippet, taken from the Guardian. In it, Simon Jenkins says, 'Young people have evolved both a new script and a cost-effective reason for using it. They are breaking free from spelling dogma and expanding the alphabet with emoticons.'

Bah, humbug.

The Tempest and the Woman who Slept

'Why didn't you tell me a tree had fallen over?' Husband asked.
'I didn't know it had. Which one?'
'The one outside this window (the study).'

It's fallen down over into next door's garden. A tree right outside our bedroom window.

I did this before. In the great storms of 1987, when we lived in Southampton, I slept through a tree falling down across the road outside our house (again in front of our bedroom). Husband was away at the time so I was on my own; I was amazed when I got up in the morning to see this huge tree lying there.

'How could you sleep through it?' people asked. I shrugged.

A friend stayed here on Wednesday night. When we got up in the morning I asked how she slept.
'Not very well,' she said. 'Did you hear the storm?'

One thing I'm good at is sleeping.

Don't shoot the panda

I think I am moderately good at grammar and punctuation. No, actually, I think I'm very good but I'm trying to be modest. But then I listen to Lynne Truss and I realise I am a mere amateur.

I read Eats, Shoots and Leaves ages ago but last night I listened to it on CD while I was doing the ironing (2 hours of it!) (Ironing that is.) The in-laws saved it for us as it came free with one of their Sunday papers. (The CD not the ironing.)

Commas I am okay on, although I am possibly a bit liberal in my usage; full stops are no problem; even apostrophes are manageable: it's the colons and semi-colons that get me. Probably lots of other things too but I don't want to get too hung up about it.

Until I read Eats etc, I didn't use semi-colons. I preferred, in my ignorance, to use full stops or misuse commas. Now I litter my writing with the winking one.

And that brings me to the real point of this post - yes, there is one.

A long time ago (or it might have been in Eats etc) I read that the exclamation mark is most often used like canned laughter. The author is pointing at what he has written and saying, 'Laugh here; this is funny.'

I quickly stopped sprinkling my writing with them.

Much of what I write is intended to be funny - certainly not to be taken seriously - and I hope that comes across to the reader. If it doesn't, I am failing as a writer.

What Lynne Truss doesn't deal with in her book is the new punctuation of the internet. Exclamation marks themselves are being replaced by LOL, ROTFL, :) and ;).

We - writers - need to have confidence in our writing, allow it to speak for itself. (There, now, should that be '... writing; allow ...'? Yes, I think it should. The semi-colon would leave more of a breathing space between the two parts of the sentence, giving the second phrase more emphasis.)

Try reading it, first with a comma, then with a semi-colon.

We need to have confidence in our writing, allow it to speak for itself.

We need to have confidence in our writing; allow it to speak for itself.

I could go further and write:
We need to have confidence in our writing. Allow it to speak for itself.

Or even:
We need to have confidence in our writing. Allow it to speak for itself! (Deliberately using an exclamation mark as a defiant call to writers. I'm slamming my fist down on the desk as I say that, can you tell?)

How did it happen that schools in Britain went through a time of not teaching grammar and punctuation? What happened to the brains of the people in charge who decided that?

It is far easier to misinterpret the meaning of words written down than it is to misunderstand the spoken word. Punctuation is vital.

A woman, without her man, is nothing.

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Poets beware

When the children were small we lived in Southampton, and Daughter and Elder Son attended primary school there. Being that much-maligned, involved sort of mother I volunteered to help produce the school magazine.

One of the features in the magazine was a page about books and one day I had the brilliant idea of asking two of the teachers for their favourite poems, bearing in mind that they were going in the mag and that it was an opportunity (I thought) to bring poetry to children.

This is the 'poem' the reception class teacher, who was also responsible for English teaching in the school, chose:

My mother said,
I never should
Play with the gypsies
In the wood.
If I did,
She would say,
Naughty girl to disobey.

Even now, nearly 20 years later, I am astounded at her choice - for all sorts of reasons.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Harvey has caught on to my wiles.

He has learned that if he stands close enough to the open door I will grab his front legs and put them outside before lifting his back end out to join them. He knows I'm not strong enough to carry him any distance so he stays just that little bit back.

He wants to go out really; I know he does.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


It's a good job we have a mattress in the garage.

Younger Son is using Betty Beetle to go to work so this morning, as I was going to shiatsu, I had to move Betty to get Alfie Porsche out of the garage. Betty's reverse gear is on the left; Alfie's is on the right. I started Alfie and drove forward straight into the mattress.

It should be compulsory for all cars to have gears in the same place.

I probably shouldn't have cut my fringe either. Not without my glasses on at least.

What kind of feminist am I?

You are a Housewife feminist. On the surface you resemble a 50's housewife but underneath beats the heart of a true feminist.

AMENDED Take the Feminism test here

I think that should work now!

Church and chocolate

According to Radio 4, Moscow is experiencing its warmest January since records began. Temperatures are 15 degrees above normal for this time of year. The bears in Moscow are struggling to hibernate and Muscovites are depressed because it's been so long since they saw the sun. Doctors are recommending bananas and chocolate. I can go along with that.

However the Russian Orthodox Church is suggesting that the warm weather might be a punishment from God, and that people might want to repent and pray for snow. (They didn't say 'repent'; I added that because they probably thought it.)

Talking of church, here is the building in which I work.

Alun and I share the office, the window of which you can see above the door. The green colour doesn't look too bad in this picture (or maybe it's because one of the lights in the study isn't working and I'm in half-darkness) but it was fairly universally detested when it was done.

The name on the front and the cross on the wall inside are all that tell people that a church meets here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cakes for my sweet (boy)

Here for those who asked for cake are some date flapjacks. They are possibly the yummiest thing in the world.
My good intentions to have them ready for Younger Son when he got home from work went slightly awry when I realised I didn't have all the ingredients (but I only realised this half-way through making them).

I had to pop into the shop after circuits - all red and sweaty and in my Eric Morecambe shorts - to get coconut and oats. But they are so worth it.

Tonight, Matthew, I have ...

I woke in the middle of the night with a vile headache. And that's the worst time: you immediately - correction, you are probably a rational, sane person - I immediately start to think I have a brain tumour. Although for some reason last night I decided I was about to have a haemorrhage.
In truth I knew I was just dehydrated after not drinking enough before, during and after circuits. But try telling me that at 4 am.
Aren't these tulips lovely? A friend brought them for me last night.

Monday, January 15, 2007

And another thing ...

I am doubly proud of myself today as I just said, 'No.'

Each year for the last few years I have been phoned and asked to have a pound coin collection card for a charity for brain-damaged children. I always say yes even though: a) I never ask anyone who visits to contribute (which I think is the idea) so I end up just making a donation myself; b) I prefer to choose for myself which charities to support; c) I don't like people who intrude into home time (either on the phone or at the door).

So this time I said no, sorry.

And I knew I shouldn't have written about it because now the guilt is dripping off me.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Younger Son has his first day in work today. I should make a cake to welcome him home. That is a good excuse - I mean reason.

A relic from the past

That's me.

Feminists should look away now.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

I am so proud of myself this morning: I have changed a fuse! Look, I've always had someone there to do it for me and, as they say, why keep a dog and bark yourself? (No, Harvey, I'm not talking to or about you.)

Husband hadn't long set off for Winchester when the lights in the kitchen and study went. (Only half the kitchen went, and the hall, which is between kitchen and study was okay; our circuitry is a mystery with very little logic to it, it seems to me.)

I emailed Husband asking him to phone me.

Some time later he called and gave me instructions:
Go out to the shed. Get the ladder out. Move the mower. Stand the ladder up so you can reach the fuse box. Put the switch to the OFF position. Pull out the two white fuses. It is one of those. Replace the wire running through them. Find the fuse wire. It is either in the kitchen or in the second drawer in the shed. No, not the second drawer in the cupboard, the second drawer counting the drawer that is above it. I've got to go to a meeting now.

It took me a while - and a little cursing under my breath - to find the fuse wire. Then it took longer again to find a screwdriver. It took even longer than both those combined to try to thread a titchy piece of wire through the fuse. The only thing it didn't take me long to do, unusually, was find my glasses.

The window men arrived just as I was struggling with my second fuse, the first change having made no difference. I wanted to do it without help. I rushed while they carried stuff in. I really didn't want to have to admit defeat.

Yes! I did it!

I am a genius.

I don't think I'll take up electrical work though. There is far too much - like life and death - depending on one thin piece of wire.

Little green dots

Why do some of the Blogs I like to visit have little green dots next to their names?

And why has my cursor taken to flying off the screen at the drop of a mouse?

Curry and cawl

Yesterday I decided to make a proper curry for the first time for probably years. I browsed through Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible, chose a recipe and bought all the spices I needed (rather than use the ones in my pantry marked Use by Apr 2003.)

I was busy grinding and grating when Husband wandered into the kitchen. 'I don't know why you're bothering,' he said. 'Curries made with (shop) paste are fine.' I waved my grater at him threateningly.

He changed his mind when we ate Shani Murgh Korma. 'This is yummy; you can taste all sorts of flavours.'

Younger Son and I agreed it was yummy - once you got past the numb mouth stage - it was very hot.

(Harvey just got confused and tried to eat my finger on the mouse! He is very apologetic now and nudging my elbow for cuddles.)

Tonight we're having cawl (Welsh stew). I'm sure most countries have their own stews but this is mine.

Brown cubed lamb, tossed in flour and seasoning, (I use neck fillet) in a little oil. Remove from pan. Soften chunks of onion, carrots, swede, parsnips and potato. Return meat to pan with 2 pints of lamb stock and lots of seasoning. I use a pressure cooker and cook it for about 16 minutes. Meanwhile wash and slice leeks and make dumplings (4 oz self-raising flour, 2 oz suet and water to mix) and put them in a large pan. Pour the cooked stew over the leeks, bring to the boil, add the dumplings and simmer for 20 minutes. Enjoy with crusty bread.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Are you going to tell them pink is for cissies?

For a man to wear pink he must be very secure in his sexuality; for a whole rugby team to wear pink is ... unusual.
We went to watch the Ospreys play Stade Francaise today. By half-time we'd seen more mistakes from the Ospreys then you'd see in an under-10 team game and the French side was leading 16-6; we were wondering if it was worth freezing for the second half.

But it was the old story: I don't know what was said to them at half-time but,in the second half, the Ospreys remembered they were there to play rugby.

The score stood at 19-19 when we had a penalty. The stadium of 13,542 (total 13,550 but that included 8 French supporters ) people went awesomely quiet as James Hook stepped up to take it. As one we held our breath then let it out in excited cheers as the ball sailed over. With five minutes to go the Ospreys were in the lead for the first time in the match.

We were counting down the seconds when Stade Francaise got a penalty inside their own half. Up came the kicker and indicated he was going for goal. Some people settled back comfortable in the certainty that he wasn't going to get this. He did and the game ended up a draw.

It was a crucial game in the Heineken Cup. The Ospreys aren't out now but they've made it very hard for themselves.

But at least they weren't beaten by the boys in pink.

Spot the player sent off for crimes against fashion.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

You heard it here last

David Beckham is to be paid $50,000,000 a year to play football in America.

I read this on the front of a newspaper when I was in Sainsburys last night. When I reported it, in a suitably shocked and dramatic manner, to Husband he said, 'It's been all over the news for the last two days; where have you been?'

I don't blame Beckham (I've got a soft spot for him), but it is ridiculous. When you think what a small charity could do with one week's pay ...

Who can need so much money? Who could use it? There must come a time when you can't spend any more.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Yesterday when I was in work Younger Son MSN-ed me. 'The men are here doing the windows.'
'Cleaning them?'
'No, doing them.'

Back in the summer we got Wayne the Windows to come and measure up. Some of our replacement windows needed replacing as the seal had gone and moisture was getting in, and our kitchen and small bedroom windows hadn't been done originally, and now the wood was rotten.

I was pleased they were finally doing them but I wished they'd warned me. 'Where are they now?' I asked Younger Son.
'Your bedroom.'
'Oh dear. Did you notice: was there 'anything' on the floor?'
'Didn't notice.'

There was only a bra. Not too bad. At least it wasn't dirty knickers. Even the phrase is embarrassing.

It was only this morning when I realised that they'd done the window in the spare bedroom as well. The bedroom that houses the dirty clothes basket - that I'd emptied and sorted into piles and left all over the floor. 'Twill teach me not to be a slut. (Except it won't.)

* * * * * * * * * * *

We have told YS that we will lend him money to buy a car (so that he won't have to drive my Betty to work). Husband and YS are now engaged in a disagreement over what car to look for. Husband has suggested a Corsa as it's reasonably priced and practical for what he needs; YS says it's a girly gay car and he doesn't want to be seen driving one. I will let you know what is resolved.

Receiving not giving

I went to Zac's Place this week for the first time since before Christmas. With it being a new year we're looking at rebirth for a couple of weeks.

Sean asked how peoples' lives had changed since becoming a Christian. Several people had very dramatic turnrounds to tell about. Their lives had been extreme before so I suppose it was likely that the change would be extreme. Me, I can't really say that my life changed much. Indeed I am very aware when I do something totally unChristian how bad an example I am showing Husband.

I know God loves me; I know I am forgiven. But there is a big gap between knowing in my head and knowing in my heart. It's that gap that keeps me quiet, makes me wonder. And I don't know how to bridge it.

Someone said that everyone's experience is different; someone else said that it's a journey we're taking. I have turned round and I'm on the right path, but I have a very long way to go.

I started going to Zac's because I thought I could give support. I find I am more screwed-up than most of the regulars, and I'm the one who is receiving not giving. I am grateful.

Friday, January 12, 2007

So many questions

I'm supposed to be writing about occasion cakes from round the world but I can't think of any so I'm blogging instead.

Part of me is wondering how Harvey can go so long without a wee. Must be 24 hours at least.

I've just found the answer: he didn't. Although Harvey seems as puzzled as I am.

Another part of me is wondering why there was a yellow spot on my arm when I got up this morning. I wonder if I've been marked out by aliens for abduction like Mr. Wladyslaw.
Yet another part of my brain is occupied with the question: why is the back of my neck so itchy? Do I have a rash or nits?
So many questions.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

And for lunch today

It's very windy today but that hasn't stopped a few determined individuals from visiting the bird feeder.

Squirrel is finding it harder to chew his way through our new all-metal feeder but it doesn't stop him trying.

Meanwhile Little Tit (or Blue or Coal or Greater) is clinging on for all he's worth.

The very first crocus has just appeared!

Don't leave it until tomorrow

On her blog today, Welshcakes writes of the death of a cousin with whom she had lost touch. Her attempts to find him had come to nothing and it is only long after his death that she hears of it from another cousin.

I grew up without a father. He and my mother weren't married and, to my knowledge, I never met him during my childhood. As I grew older I began to wonder more about him but my interest waxed and waned with the moon.

In the 1980s I discovered that he had moved to the Carmarthen area and was probably still living there, although he had been ill.

At the end of the 90s I began a Masters course in Trinity College, Carmarthen. Out of curiosity I looked him up in the phonebook and found he was still listed. Every time I drove to college I passed his house.

I wondered what to do: should I sit outside and see if anyone appeared? Phone and pretend to be a researcher of some sort in order to find out more about his situation. I would never make a private eye; I am far too honest and easily embarrassed. I didn't know how much he knew about me and whether, if she was still alive, his wife knew about me. The last thing I wanted to do was to cause any trouble. I did nothing.

Then a few years ago I had the opportunity through a BBC programme about family history, Who Do You Think You Are?, to make a
digital film. As a result of this Husband became interested in genealogy.

With the right software and the internet, he has been able to trace different branches of my and his families back to the 16th century. He discovered that my father's family history had already been well-documented by someone. According to that he had a wife and daughter - but there was no mention of me, unsurprisingly.

Making the film had aroused my interest again; I wanted to know more about where I came from, who I am. After I'd dithered for a bit we emailed the lady who had done his family tree. After she'd asked some questions, she said that my father was dead but that his wife still lived in the same house and that they did indeed have a daughter who was called Sarah. She, the genealogist, offered to act as an intermediary if I wanted to make contact as she knew the family well.

After dithering again I said yes, please, I would be grateful if she found out what she could.

She soon came back to me.

My father's wife (whom he married some years after my birth) knew about me but wasn't willing to meet me; she had now told her daughter (my younger half-sister) about me but she didn't want to know me either.

My father died in 2001. If I'd acted when I was in college I might have been able to meet with him. I don't know whether he'd have agreed or whether his health would have allowed but I missed that chance.

I thought hard about posting this but understanding Welshcakes' regret, I wanted to urge anyone who's lost contact, or never had contact, with a relative to take the chance if it comes along. You might do it and regret it but at least you'll know.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My theory ©

It's been on the news again today about global warming and cutting down our carbon dioxide emissions. However it's not only CO2 that is to blame. There are other gases involved, the major one being methane.

The reasons for the increase in CO2 are well-documented; however I believe a significant factor affecting global warming has been ignored.

Consider, if you will, what a majority of women (and a number of men) in this country - and probably the Western world - are doing at this very moment: dieting.

With the exception of Atkins, diets urge you to eat more fruit and veg; indeed, the government tells us to eat at least 5 portions a day. And everyone knows what fibre does in the digestive system: it creates methane. This in turn has to be released - or escapes. QED

Dieters, for the sake of the environment, nay, of our world, eat more chocolate!

P.S. Curiously enough the Lib Dems are thinking along these lines but more from inside the box. Last week their Environment Spokesman called on farmers to change the diet of their cattle to reduce the amount of methane they produce. Dieters, remember, you heard it here first.

P.P.S Kangaroos don't produce methane.

To be added to the list

... of places we can't take Harvey any more: anywhere that is excessively muddy. And in Swansea in January that means most places.

I thought we'd go to the river today. Crossing the field leading to the path down to the river, Harvey slipped and couldn't get up again without help. The river path no longer seemed a sensible option.

We walked back over the tip instead.
The tip, the valley and its hillsides were once our most regular walk place. Until about 22 years ago the tip was still being used to accommodate Swansea's rubbish; now nature has reclaimed its own. As well as wild roses, foxes, tadpoles and woodpeckers, we've even seen a heron there.

Here Harvs is just admiring the scenery.
* * * * * * * * * * *
The good news is that the baking website owners liked my article and are commissioning me to do more. This very morning I have described how to make the Perfect Carrot Cake (don't tell me, I know it's not as good as yours!) and this afternoon I'm going to be looking at Classic Cakes (whatever they may be). Writing and getting paid for it: heaven!

breakfast time

Messrs Robin and Blue Tit meet for morning peanuts.


I have, on the side of my blog, a Blogpower logo and list of blogs. I signed up for this just before Christmas but I have realised I am dreadfully out of place there.

Blogpower has lots and lots of very intelligent people commenting on politics, the media, the news and PR; I comment on cars breaking down, dogs poohing, chocolate over-indulgence and rugby-players's thighs.

Perhaps I should start my own blogroll for people with similar interests.

Browsing through them a little while ago, I did notice that I had been tagged on Shades of Grey with the '5 things about me' meme. He picked my blog at random, you understand, not because of my outstanding intellect, but I still got very excited.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

There was an article in last Friday's Independent about Andrea Camilleri and his creation, Salvo Montalbano. Now, you see, I wouldn't have read the article if it hadn't been titled 'Once upon a time in Sicily', and I hadn't been learning about Sicily through Welshcakes's blog. I will say it again: blogging is good for your education.

The books about the 'food-mad sleuth' sound good. Has anyone read or can anyone recommend them?