Sunday, August 31, 2008

Flowers on Mumbles Hill

Because of its exposed position, most of the flowers to be found on Mumbles Hill are low-growing little ones, the names of which I know not. Except Georgius Gorgeosia, a rare form of life not seen in the wild frequently enough (in his opinion).

Drilling for oil

Okay, so it's not a drilling rig. Judging by the scaffolding around the lifeboat house, what I was told about it being rebuilt must be true. Apparently they're checking the slipway as well to see if it's still in good condition and strong enough to hold our new lifeboat.

When I was a little girl my Uncle Dan worked on the skee rolls at the pier and, later, my grandfather worked in the ticket box at the entrance to the pier. I spent a lot of time there. For a long time I was scared to walk along the pier. I didn't like being able to see the sea below me. My Auntie Gay (Dan's wife) would tell me that the pier was strong enough to hold the Queen Mary. Well, she convinced me.

Today there are parts of the pier that wouldn't even hold me: they're fenced off and in need of repair.

And if the pier was scary, it was nothing like as bad as the narrow bridge from the pier out to the lifeboat house. The lifeboat is open to visitors when it's not out rescuing someone, and it's a very impressive sight in its house. I have been there! But only a couple of times was I brave enough to cross that walkway. It's strange as the sides are high and should feel quite safe, but I think it was the narrowness of it that scared me. I am such a wimp!

Last weekend, when we were away, it was the annual Mumbles raft race. This has happened every August for as long as I can remember now and draws crowds of spectators from all over Swansea, and participants from all over the place. Some take it very seriously and are only in it to win; others, especially pub teams, use it as an excuse to drink and dress up! Sinking in the middle of the bay is just part of the fun. I must post some photos if I can find any as some of the rafts have been quite spectacular in the past. It's one of those events that makes the village seem like a village again because everyone goes to watch. I can see people I haven't seen for years there.

Anyway the proceeds from the collections are given to the RNLI and this year it was a record £21,000. It constantly amazes me that the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute) relies on voluntary contributions to keep it going. In most lifeboat stations it's only maybe the cox and engineer who get paid; the rest of the crew risk their lives voluntarily to go to sea in sometimes horrendous conditions to rescue those in distress.

In 1947 Mumbles lifeboat was wrecked when attending a ship in distress; all 8 of the lifeboat crew lost their lives. Four lifeboatmen were lost in a rescue in 1883, and six of the crew died in 1903. But it has saved over 800 lives in its 170 year history. (I wrote more about it on April 16th, 2007.)

The photo is taken from the top of Mumbles Hill. I did take some close-ups but wanted to show a little of the construction of the pier. See why I was scared?!

Two weeks and counting

I went shopping yesterday. Not Sainsburys - for a change - but real in-town shopping. I bought trousers, two tops, a cardi (but very trendy because 2 very young sales assistants in Debenhams said, independently, how nice it was) and 2 pairs of shoes. Well, one pair of sandals and one pair of flatties that I was encouraged by the young assistant in Faith to buy because 'if you buy two pairs of sale shoes the second pair is half price again and even if you don't wear them this year you can wear them next and it's too good an opportunity to miss really', which meant that I had two pairs of shoes for £15. I also bought proper M&S socks and knickers, a fact that will especially please jmb and leslie.

Now you're asking why especially those two? Won't the world in general be pleased if you're able to go out without falling-down knickers. That's probably true but at least I won't embarrass jmb and leslie when I meet them for lunch two weeks tomorrow!

Yes, I'm going to Canada! How exciting is that? For me anyway; you're probably not that bothered. This time two weeks today Husband, Daughter, Son-in-law and I will be on a hairyplane to Vancouver. We're in Canada for two weeks starting with Vancouver Island, where we're hoping to see whales, and then travelling in the Rockies, where we're hoping to see bears (jmb and leslie, please get that arranged for me! Thank you.)

I've wanted to go to Canada for a long time but Husband and I are useless at planning holidays but then Daughter decided they'd go too and she's organised it all. Husband sorts out all the money and important stuff and I just have to go along and wave majestically to the bears. This is sort of a belated 30th anniversary present to ourselves.

The only downside is the long flight. I'm not wild about aeroplanes. I have this stupid - I know it's irrational and illogical - puzzlement about how planes can stay in the air for so long. I just can't understand how they don't sort of 'get tired'. I know: I said it was stupid. It's been explained to me but my brain won't take it in.

But assuming the plane doesn't get tired and stop to take a nap en route, we'll be landing in Vancouver on Sunday, 14th, afternoon. Oh me oh mi.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Beautiful

Deciding what to use as my Beautiful image for this week's Photohunt was hard. Living on the edge of the Gower Peninsula, the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to be designated in Britain, we're surrounded by fabulously beautiful countryside.

Or what about beautiful brides? We have a daughter and daughter-in-law who both fit the bill but maybe lots of people will do brides.

Then there's George, my puppy, but he's gorgeous rather than beautiful.
I had just about decided to post a photo of my beautiful family, when, discussing it over our meal, Husband brain-stormed, 'Beautiful Mind,' and my dilemma was solved.

This is my beautiful daughter. She is not only physically beautiful but beautiful in mind and spirit. She's very intelligent, creative and capable, but more importantly she's loving, generous and encouraging; she's totally supportive, caring and thoughtful. We are so proud of all that she is.

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick

Oh and Husband recalled that when was in school he was taught a rhyme to help him remember how to spell beautiful. It goes like this:
Mrs B
Mrs E
Mrs I
It must have worked as that was nearly 50 years ago!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The art of stick choosing

Size isn't everything, it's true, but length is the most important factor I believe.

Unless a stick is long enough it won't have the momentum (my scientific explanation) to carry it any distance. But weight, or rather, circumference is also crucial.

Too light and it'll be blown the wind's way however I throw it; too heavy and I won't be able to throw it.

A rough end is to be avoided as it will scratch my hand as it flies out of it. Rotten wood is also a no-starter. Literally as it breaks as it leaves my hand and drops in two pitiful pieces on the floor at my feet.

Speaking personally I like a bit of a bend in the end. I feel it gives more power to my throw.

And George likes any stick he can chew.

So you see there is an art to stick choosing. Discus throwers at the Olympics have it easy. They know what weight and shape they're getting and they will have a good idea of its path of motion. They just need strength and any old muscle-bound Bertie can get that. I am of the opinion that discus throwing should be replaced by stick-in-the-wood throwing. This would obviously include finding your stick first. But it would be a far fairer test of mental and physical agility. I shall write to Boris and suggest it for the 2012 games.

An aside
I am not into sport except rugby and I didn't watch the Olympics but 'Ping pong's coming home' has fired my imagination. I know some people have been critical of Boris but can you imagine if it had been Ken in his place? Boris and I might wear different colours politically but I can't help liking him, even if he does think Wales is in England. He's such a buffoon he can get away with that; anyone else would have been first against the wall.

Thought for the week

I get a weekly newletter from some writing site and here is this week's
Thought for the Week

"Put it before them briefly so they will read it,
clearly so they will appreciate it,

picturesquely so they will remember it and,
above all, accurately so they will be
guided by its light."

~ Joseph Pulitzer

I like that. I do brief well.
So I was standing at the front door watching George - not doing this:he does that in the few seconds I don't watch him - so where was I? Oh yes, at the front door when I hear the fridge in the kitchen begin to gurgle.

I will put a good spin on this and suggest that something amused it rather than upset it.

Meanwhile George, having come in with me to see what the fridge is doing, is now eating his rug.
'If you eat that, you won't have anything to sleep on!'
He gives me a teenage shrug.

Now I feel like my granny

I am glad I don't start every day with a long sloe screw up against a wall, followed by a quickie on the beach, complete with buttery nipples and a screaming orgasm. It brings me out in a hot flush just writing about it.

And I haven't even included some of the ones with bad words.

I think I'd better get back to me allergies.

Picture this

It's 8.15 on a grey and wet Welsh morning.

George is halfway through the hole he's made in the fence behind the bush.

I am hanging onto his tail. I am wearing slippers and bed-socks, and my shortie bright cerise dressing-gown. My hair, which needs washing, is sticking out punk-fashion.

Can my day get any better?

Oh yes.

I'm standing in the shower - you don't have to picture that; I don't want to put you off your coffee - when I glance down and notice I'm paddling in an inch or so of water, water which is also lapping perilously close to the edge. That doesn't look right. Fortunately Superplumber is always on the job.

I leap out of the shower and pad my soggy way across to get my trusty plunger, which is never far from my side: after all a girl never knows when a good plunging migt be called for. And with a slurpy sucky plippy plopping, all is well again.

They say things come in threes but I don't believe that ...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What were you thinking of?

Do you ever wonder how Google decides which ads are relevant to a particular web page?

This evening I was researching cocktails (yes, me a non-drinker!), checking out the ingredients for a Slow Comfortable Screw. The adverts on the side of the page included several along these lines: Importers of Ball & Lead Screws to the UK.

A psychiatrist would have a field day with the word association that must have gone on there ...

Knickers, blisters and Teacosy Pete

Why is it that I only get 10 yards from the front gate before my knickers start falling down? They've been fine all day. I was wearing trousers so it wasn't a problem, just uncomfortable, so as soon as I got on the tip I stuck my hand down the back and pulled them up. And this time they stayed up. It's a mystery to me.

And as for my wellies. I might as well have gone barefoot for the numbers of holes they have in them. I haven't worn them for a while as I had blisters but my skin had healed so I thought they'd be okay. I was forgetting that my wellies were the reason I had blisters. By halfway round our walk I was limping and groaning. The only ways I could proceed without uttering a little 'eeurhh' with each step was if I walked flat-footed with my toes gripping the front of my wellies, or on tippy-toes with my heels raised. Neither was sustainable for long. Or if there were other people about. I thought seriously again about going barefoot.

I must buy some new wellies. And walking shoes.

On our way across the tip we encountered Teacosy Pete. The tip is usually deserted and, in that respect, quite lonely, so it's a bit disconcerting to see a bedraggled old tramp coming out of the bushes. But as soon as I realised who it was I was okay. Pete is a bit of a legend in Swansea. I believe someone has even set up a Facebook or MySpace page about him. I've seen him on the tip before, in the early morning, so I think he must sleep in the woods sometimes. He's famous because he walked a long distance to return a wallet of money he'd found to the owner. There are various stories about his background and how he came to live out but he's a private man. We each have our own story.

So far today

Today I have a day working at home. So far I've written about children and allergies, and chocolate brownies, and I'm just working through Romanian wine. There are two big problems when I'm working at home:
1) George;
2) George - no, that's not fair - food.

1) I have to keep getting up to: let George out - he's very not tired today; see what George is doing that he shouldn't be; following George round the garden; bringing him back when he escapes; running to fetch the camera because George is doing something cute (and naughty) etc.

2) Getting up for George means I have to go through the kitchen and that means I think about food. So far today I have eaten, in reverse order, 1 yogurt, half a bag of grapes, a slice of melon, 1 nectarine, 1 banana, 1 bowl of Frosties, several handfuls of Frosties, 1 plum, 1 bowl of Bran Flakes. See how healthy I am?! And how I cannot be losing weight when I spend so much time on the loo I don't know.
And I wonder why it takes me so long to write anything. Oh, yes, I should have added blogging as my number 3 distraction.

sweet peas

I was wandering round the garden - yes, following George to make sure he didn't escape or eat my raspberries - and I noticed the sweet peas were flowering more profusely again. I wish you could smell this vaseful I have on my study window-sill.

I'm turning into my granny

Yesterday I was volunteering in the community cafe our church runs in the school holidays. We're very child-friendly. One half of the cafe is set out with tables and chairs; the other half has sofas, toys and computers.

We were very busy and towards the end of the afternoon several mums and children were sitting in the 'cafe' bit eating and drinking when one of the little boys - probably about 18 months - began projectile vomiting. His mum started the cleaning up with paper towels and then I moved in with a bucket and mop. It wasn't a problem; you have to expect the odd accident if you cater for children.

They all moved on to another table, except for the mum who began changing her son's sicky clothes. As I mopped around her, she continued her chat with the other mums, completely ignoring me. I don't know if she was embarrassed but she didn't make eye contact and it was if I didn't exist. I didn't get the impression she was embarrassed as she was telling her friends, 'I took him to a party on Sunday and he was sick then too. It was probably my fault that time as well as he'd been stuffing himself and then I started dancing with him.'

As she was changing his clothes, he was happily tucking into a bag of crisps.

I don't know. Mothers today!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

ABC Wednesday - F

My Beatles song this week is Free as a Bird. In today's Orwellian surveillance-obsessed society is it possible for any of us to be really free? Or are we destined to be as shackled as the bird of prey in the photo, with only our spirits being truly free?

Tee hee, how pretentious is that?! I can't be that serious for long so I'll explain my collage of photos.

As I explained in an earlier post I was too scared to go round photographing cctv cameras for fear that MI5 would come and take my computer away. (See how the situation has worsened? At first it was only the local police; now MI5 are involved. By tomorrow it will be heavies with baseball bats.) So the cctv camera images I took from the internet, which is where I found the Beatles record sleeve too. The central image is one Husband took when we were on holiday in France in July.

To take part in ABC Wednesday Round 3, go here.
Or go and visit the originator, mrs nesbitt.

One of us is an antique

Back at the end of March Husband sanded and varnished the hall floor. After he'd done it I said, 'Right, I'm going to buy a floor polisher.'
'You don't have to do that: we have our old one in the attic.'

Yesterday, five months later, he went up in the attic and found it for me. Now I should point out that it came with the house and this has been our home for about 20 years now. But, oh, joy, it works.

It's a Hoover and I don't know if you can read what it says on the little plate:
By appointment to the late King George VI
Manufacturers of Electric Suction Sweepers

Hello, hello, hello

I was thinking about my photo for ABC Wednesday tomorrow when I had a brilliant idea. But it involved me taking lots of photos of CCTV cameras. And I started worrying that if I did that, the police might come knocking on my door and confiscate my computer. How appalling is it that I should even consider that a possibility?!

But maybe, to be on the safe side, I'll think of something else ...

Monday, August 25, 2008

George goes seeking God

At least that's what I assume he was doing.

Younger Son took the phone call. 'We have your dog at the main gate.' By the time I got to the main gate of the Bible College George was running around the grounds again.

But he was really good when we were away and that's what you always hope for from your children too, isn't it? That they won't show you up and misbehave when they're out. George was wonderful. He waited until he was on his way home in the car before he started eating the duvet we'd taken for him to sleep on. (At home he has to sleep on a rug - which he's gradually eating his way through - because he eats every bed we give him.) He carried on from where he'd left on when we brought the duvet in the house too.

Oh, George!


The weekend away

So we've been to Derby this weekend for the in-laws' diamond wedding anniversary Sunday lunch party. And a good time was had by all. On Saturday evening we went to Husband's extra-rich sister's show-house home for a meal, which was very nice. George came with us and he was so well-behaved!

The only trouble is that not only are sisters-in-law smarter than me, they both work and earn lots of money. So what with the teasing because I'm an idle kept woman, and coming back to a home with cobwebs and a half-painted hall, I am an even bigger mass of complexes than before.
But don't worry; it'll pass soon. Meanwhile here's me - minus shoes - with Elder Son (left as you look at the photo) and Younger Son. (I did wear shoes but they hurt so much I left them off for as long as I could.) Daughter couldn't attend because Son-in-law was on call. It was a shame but couldn't be avoided: you never know when people are going to crash in their car and need a new bit of face made.

Oh, yes, I nearly forgot. When Husband saw me dressed up for the lunch party he said, 'Moo.' How to make a girl feel good! I've suggested he take up counselling as a career.


Before we went away I made some blueberry muffins to Sally's recipe (thanks, Sally!). Knowing I'm always on a diet Husband asked why I'd made them.
'Because I had blueberries that had to be used up.'
'Why did you have blueberries?'
'Well, duh, I bought them to make blueberry muffins.'

Honestly husbands can be so thick sometimes.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Wrinkled

The only wrinkles I'm prepared to show: what I like to think of as laughter lines around my eyes!
To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick.
I'm posting early this week as we're away for the weekend. That also means I won't be able to do much visiting.

What the Russian said on Radio 4

... could have been a secret code.

I can just see a man in a trench-coat, turned-up collar, trilby pulled down over his eyes, sidling up to another man in a smoky bar and saying, 'Ze only free cheese is in ze mousetrap.'
The man at the bar replies, 'Zanzibar is 'ot at siss time of year.'
They both glance quickly around before a brown envelope exchanges hands and trench-coat man leaves.

I'm surprised Eddy Wotsit didn't pick up on it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


The sun has been shining since about 1.30 this afternoon; it is now 4.15 pm. It is a momentous event and worth a blog post all of its own.

I don't believe it!

My hoover has stopped working again. When I was in the middle of hoovering the lounge.

Last time I think someone suggested it might be over-heating. I'll let it have a little rest and then try again.

We're going to my in-laws' diamond wedding anniversary lunch on Sunday in Derby. I have two sisters-in-law who always look better than me however good I think I'm looking, so I've just been to the hairdresser and tonight I'll bleach my moustache and tan my legs.

The hairdresser did that, 'Have you any other plans for today?' bit. I said I'd noticed there was a sale in Debenhams so I thought I'd pop in. I was thinking about my holiday but he said, 'Looking for something to wear to the party?'
'Well, I wasn't but now you come to mention it ...'

I've bought a dress. I blame the hairdresser. I don't usually do dresses because I'm a funny shape but this looked okay. And I thought, 'I can wear my strappy black sandals with it.' It wasn't until I got home that I remembered that George ate my sandals during our New Year party.

Responding to comments

Stu asked why I was scrupulously ignoring the Wales 1 Georgia 2 football result last night. The answer's simple: I knew nothing about it.

I'm not really a football person. An international match can take place in my city and I am blissfully unaware. But since Stu's mentioned it, I can see it was obviously a gesture of solidarity from one small nation bullied by a larger neighbour to another. And nothing to do with the fact that Wales can't play football.

I'm also unaware of most of what goes on either in the world or my locality.

Driving to church the other day I thought, 'Good heavens, the end's fallen off the pier!' Staring a bit harder - not easy looking out to sea when driving - I could see it wasn't the end of the pier but what looks like a drilling rig. 'Good heavens, nobody told me they were drilling for oil in Swansea Bay.'

I've since been told it might be to do with repairs to the lifeboat station in readiness for a new lifeboat. 'Good heavens, nobody told me we were having a new lifeboat!'

* * * * * * * * *

After reading about Badger, Rose asked if I'd given George an extra hug. Well, Rose, I kissed him so much and hugged him so tightly he said, 'All right, all right, I get the message. Can I go eat my way out of the garden now?'

Five minutes later
Just been to retrieve my retriever from the road behind out house. I'm sure anyone reading this must think we are very neglectful owners but believe me when I say every time we think the garden is impregnable, George finds - or makes - another way out. Electric fencing is the only answer.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

George and Betty

While I was sitting at the computer yesterday afternoon the phone rang.
'I have your dog in my kitchen.'
'oh dear.'

So the old door that Husband wedged in between the wall and the bit of fence isn't enough to keep George in. I went to collect him. The lady who had him said she had three labradors. Which is very strange as I couldn't see or hear them and I've never been aware of three dogs living just behind and across the road from us. I wonder if they are imaginary dogs. Probably a lot less trouble than real ones.

Younger Son did a repair job on the fence repair job Husband had done previously. Today I caught George trying to eat his way through it again. I am still waiting for his operation to take effect hormone-wise. (I am really hoping the disappearance of testosterone will remove the urge for a young alpha male to leave home and start his own pack.)

* * * * * * * * * *

On the way home in the rain this afternoon Betty's windscreen wipers stopped working again. Now neither Younger Son nor I have a car with working wipers. We blame it on the weather. Overuse.

Goodbye Badger

We've never met but I have a feeling we would have got on well. You'd probably have given George a clip around the ear when he started being a pest! I know your life will have been fun with Dragonstar, Aileni and Stephen, and they're going to miss you lots. I'm sending them love (and licks from George too).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

ABC Wednesday - E

My Beatles song for ABC Wednesday E is ... can you guess?
Answer (Eight Days a Week - look at the days on my carefully-constructed calendar!)
Run your mouse (holding it down) over to see it.

To take part in ABC Wednesday Round 3, go here.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Cutting pills

Specially ordered for me at Boots, a pill-cutter for £1.99. And it works.

I remembered!

But it wasn't very interesting.

I was going to say that one of these days I'll get round to updating my blogroll and putting it in alphabetical order. it takes me ages to find anyone.

Now, the nice news: Katney over at Katney's Kaboodle has given me not one but two awards! Thank you so much, Katney! And the really exciting news is that Katney has also awarded George! With the "I've got friend in you" award. Katney says she'd love to meet George and give him some wise advice. I would be really happy for you, Katney, to give George some wise advice; I would be even happier if he would take it!

I'll have a think, when my brain is less dead, about passing on the awards. A lot of people at the party last night had eaten before coming so there was food left over. I took two trifles and brought one home with me. I had trifle for lunch today. And I had trifle for dinner. Because:

a) there's only me and Younger Son here and Younger Son doesn't like trifle and it needs to be eaten;

b) I was so busy concentrating on cooking for last night that I forgot I had to eat for the rest of the week and there's no food in the house.

More bloggy problems

Suburbia can't get onto my blog and hasn't been able to for about a week. A real-life friend has been unable to access my blog as well. Can you get on? Oh, no, silly question. I'll rephrase it: are you having problems visiting me?

Not that I have the slightest clue what I can do about it.

Loading time seems to be a bit quicker now from what people have said, so it's just if you can get on here or not, and I suppose if you can't, you won't be able to answer this question, so this is a silly post really.

I was going to say something else too but I've forgotten what it was.

Glenn's leaving party

Last night there was a party at Zac's to say goodbye to Ros and Glenn (although it's only Glenn who is going initially). There was a great turn-out demonstrating the effect they've had on all sorts of people - Zac's regulars including street people, God Squadders, members of bike clubs including outlaw clubs, and others who've just come into contactwith the couple - in the two and a half years they've been here.

I was responsible for some of the catering and here Blossum samples the coq au vin (or chicken stew). If I never see another chicken thigh it will be too soon.
Of course a night at Zac's wouldn't be complete without Gerry's drunkenness tipping him into meltdown. Blossum and Bas gently escorted him outside and stayed with him until he'd cooled down. That's Bas in the middle of this photo of God Squadders (Christian motor-bikers), from left, Tony, Glenn, Bas, Sean and an Aussie whose name escapes me, sorry.

Glenn and Ros will be so missed for all sorts of reasons including Glenn's handyman's skills and Ros's weekly cakes. But far more for their love and respect, their attitude and compassion, and their spirituality expressed in practicality, prayers, and a hug.

I pray that God takes them safely home to Australia (although I am quite annoyed that God hasn't told them to stay here longer!) and that what they've been part of here will be of as much benefit to them as they've been to us.


George's latest escape route

Now we're barricaded up to our eyeballs George is having to think of ever more cunning ways to escape.

"I know. I'll just shin up this fence and eat my way through."
"I'm a big boy now and I chase big boy sticks."

One of those days

Every morning I take a cocktail of pills: my happy pill plus cod liver oil and glucosamine for my joints, evening primrose for my ladies' bits and whatsitcalled for my memory. Yesterday morning, while swallowing them I was distracted by George. He'd seen a monster in his drinking bowl and was knocking and tapping it until he managed to get all the water and the monster onto the floor. I'd taken the final pill when I thought, 'Gosh, that one was sweet. They're not usually that sweet.' Then I realised I'd taken the sweetener I'd got out for Husband's tea.

That should have been warning enough, but, undeterred, as I arrived early at church I joined Jane who was on welcoming duty. A group of four arrived: two men, two women. I knew one of the couples and the other woman looked so much like the first that I said, 'I can see who you are; you look just like your mum.'
She laughed. 'She's my sister.'

On the bright side, at least I didn't say it the other way round.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Colourful

You want to tell these hunky French rugby players that pink is a bit girly?!
To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Brian Beetle had to go to the garage today for a paint job. Younger Son, driving Betty, came with us so he could bring me home. Betty is parked in front of the garage so they went ahead. It was only as we were driving there that I wondered whether I'd told Younger Son that we weren't going to the usual garage but to a bodywork place.

I hadn't. As I turned off I tooted Brian's horn frantically. Well, like a frantic mouse. Squeak, squeakity, squeak. there was about as much chance of YS hearing it as me getting a strike in bowling.

Luckily Younger Son is smarter than I am and he noticed my manoeuvre even though a car had squeezed in between us.

If I had even an eighth of a brain I'd be grateful.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Do unto others

I was at an event recently. It was a very Christian event, with hand-raising, and resounding Amens. People knew the words of the songs and the praying was suitably line-toeing.

I found out later that some of the most fervent hand-raisers were shunning a family member who, in their eyes, had sinned. I am still trying to find the bit in the Bible where Christ says, 'Judge others and have nothing to do with those you find wanting.'

* * * * * * * * * *

Ros and Glenn have been part of Zac's for a couple of years now. they came over from Australia and have played an important part in the development of all that Zac's is. Sadly, they've now decided that the time is right to go back to Australia. Glenn leaves next week; Ros and the children fly out later. Last night was Glenn's final Bible study evening in Zac's.

Gerry, the in-house drunk, was there as usual. At least he was partly there, in both mind and body. He wandered in every so often, abused someone or another and wandered out again. (He did that walk. You know the one. Standing legs akimbo, his body slightly tilted forward, arms at the side like a gun-slinger ready to draw. He focused on the door and slowly took one step, then another. Then a few hurried steps before the door got away from him.)

At the end of the study, Sean prayed as usual and then Gerry asked if he could pray. Everyone looked at him, and then at Sean, waiting for his response. 'Yes, of course you can, Gerry.'

I can't tell you exactly what Gerry prayed; the words blurred with emotion. I only know it was an incredible tribute to Glenn and a fantastically moving recognition of the work done by Glenn and Sean and the others in reaching out and loving the unlovely. Ros, who was sitting next to me, was in floods; Glenn was struggling to control his bottom lip. I - the renowned hard-hearted non-crier - had tears trickling down my cheeks.

It was just one of those precious Zac's moments.

George and the mud

The vet prescribed a long course of antibiotics - one and a half pills twice daily for three weeks - for George. She also gave me cream to apply and said he mustn't go swimming.

Two problems:
a) I can't break the pills in half. I phoned to ask if I could give him one and two instead. The receptionist said I should get a pill-cutter.
'A pill-cutter? Is there such a thing?'

b) We live in Wales. Even when we're not in the middle of the wettest August since the universe began it's hard to walk a dog anywhere there isn't a dirty puddle of some sort. Our walkies now happen to the accompaniment of a constant barrage of screaming from me, 'No, George! NO, George! GEORGE, NOOOOO!!!!'

Finger on the pulse

You remember that broken hoover? the one that prevented me cleaning last week? Well, at the weekend I said to Husband, 'Can you fix my hoover, please?'
'What's the matter with it?'
'It just stopped.'

So he plugged it in and switched it on and, yes, it started straightaway. 'How did you do that?' I asked.
'I just switched it on and it started.'

For the last two days I've been grumbling at my hair straighteners because they wouldn't work. Today I discovered they have an On/Off switch.

I am just not made for this technological world.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

ABC Wednesday - D

To explain a little: after seeing Mamma Mia, I resolved to live my live as a musical. Reading that, Mrs Nesbitt challenged me to do ABC as a musical too. So, for the soundtrack to my life - and to ABC Wednesday, I'm choosing songs by the Beatles.

This week, for the letter D, with my home of Mumbles being a seaside village, I could have opted for Day Tripper. On the other hand, being a wannabe author, I could have written a letter to Dear Prudence. But then the ideal solution offered itself.

A young couple were married in church on Monday. They borrowed Brian Beetle for their wedding car. Tim, one of the church leaders and a highly respected consultant surgeon in his other life, played the role of chauffeur. So I said to Tim, 'Baby, you can Drive My Car.' Nice car, shame about the hat.
C'mon, Brian, please start!

They're away!
To take part in ABC Wednesday, visit ABC Wednesday Round 3.


Flowers in the garden - in spite of the rain

Rising strongly?

On The World at One on Radio 4 just now the presenter said, 'Prices are rising strongly.'

Can anything rise strongly? I was so distracted this by this question I failed to listen to the rest of the report. I blame dubious grammar for my lack of topical news knowledge.

When I went to the car boot sale a few weeks ago it was as much as I could do to stop myself getting out a felt pen and correcting all the misplaced apostrophes and spelling mistakes on the various signs on tables and car boots.

If I had been born a few years later I would probably have obsessive compulsive behaviour disorder. It's just as well they didn't have it in my day.

Poor me

We took George to the vet again this morning. He has another nasty patch of dermatitis at the back of his head.

Honestly, George has been to the vet more in the first eleven months of his life than Harvey went in the first eleven years.

Dog walking is good for blogging

It gives one time to think. I planned my ABC Wednesday entry while walking George yesterday. And I decided what to say on Sunday.

Last Sunday, Chris asked a number of us if, next Sunday, we'd talk a bit about Bible verses that we've found inspiring. My mouth said yes but when I was walking yesterday I was struggling to think of any Bible verse. I'm not a Bible scholar. Even if I know a verse I won't know where to find it.

But at last I came up with something I could use.

Going on for twenty years ago now, Husband had cancer. It was a bad time. One day I read psalm 18 and it really made an impression on me. It became 'my psalm'. It was what I kept going back to.

On the good days, I knew that, whatever happened, God would see us through it; on the bad days I would read the psalm over and over. It wasn't an instant panacea; it didn't even make me feel better. But it was something to cling onto.

It seems that for some people their faith provides a permanent high. (Although I'm not always convinced of the authenticity.) For most of us, most of the time, it's just there: a solid foundation, a base to return to, a straw to cling onto. Personally, I'd say a lot of my faith is of the fingertip variety.

Anyway, when Husband was well again, I attended a writing course and one of the things we were asked to do was to rewrite a psalm. Psalm 18 - or part of it at least - was my obvious choice. The psalmist is looking back on how God got him through a bad time and is able to do that from a position of being in a good place again. Would I have been able to rewrite this psalm if things had gone badly wrong? I like to think that I could have. Certainly not as soon after as I wrote this, but in time. Thankfully I didn't have to find out.

It's quite a long piece of writing but I think I'll include it here as well as in my long bits. I won't write anything after it so if you get bored, you can stop reading without fear of missing a precious word from my fingers!

Psalm 18 Verses 1-19
I love you, O Lord, my strength.

Where would I be without you, Lord?
You’re the ground I stand on —
and more than that.
You build walls around me of pure granite,
walls to shelter and protect
and, as if that was not enough,
you place yourself between me and the world,
forestalling my enemies and safeguarding my path.

I remember a time, Lord,
when I cried out to you
and you rescued me.

It was a time when everything I hold dear was under threat,
when my enemy towered, leering, over me,
when malignancy, and death itself,
came creeping on its slimy belly
and wormed its way in,
gloating, hinting, tormenting.

What could I do but call out to you?
In the realms of heaven,
amongst the honeyed choruses of angels,
you somehow heard my puny cry.
It had no poetic beauty to move you;
others would have laughed at its lack of fluency.
But you moved heaven and earth to come to my aid.

I can see you now, the original braveheart,
leaping to your feet, arms raised, fists clenched,
your face gripped with righteous anger,
sweat and tears mingling as you storm,
roaring, from your throne room
and stride through eternity.
The forces of nature have seen this before
and cower, trembling, before your approach
but my enemy, oh foolish one, is too intent
on his own schemes to give heed to the signs.
And is caught unawares when you stamp on him.

You could have left it there, warrior king,
but no, with anger spent, there was another job for you.
You lifted me gently in your hand,
closed your fingers around me
and whispered oh such words,
words of reassurance and peace,
words without sound
which told of your joy in me.

Then you took me to a meadow which stretched
as far as I could see, a lush green pasture, and you told me
I was free.

Me, the drunk and the boat

When we were out on Saturday night I spotted, across the road, Jim and his dog, Freda. I said, 'He lives in a tent by the river.'

Then, in the car on our way to the Indian restaurant I pointed out Gerry. 'He's Zac's in-house drunk. He lives under a bush.'

Husband looked at me. 'It's a bit disturbing that you are on first names terms with Swansea's down and outs.'
'Oh, Gerry doesn't know my name. Every time he sees me he says, "I know you. You come on the boat with us."'
I've given up arguing with Gerry, even though, as far as I am aware, they're all men on the boat.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Haven't lost the knack

We went ten pin bowling last night. It was the first time we'd been for years and I'm pleased to report that I haven't lost the knack: I came last twice. Magnificent scores of 60 and 67. Husband won the first game with 140; Elder Son won the second with 147.
I was very excited because I spotted Duncan Jones, Wales and Ospreys prop forward, playing a few lanes down from us. Younger Son was suitably embarrassed when I asked the international rugby player if he'd have his photo taken with him. 'He gets mistaken for you, ' I explained.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Dark

I was struggling to find anything for this week's Photohunt but finally came across
these two photos. Then I couldn't decide which one to use:

the dark bush against the setting sun

or the dark fishnet tights!

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

I have a puffy foot!

I just looked 'puffy foot' up on the Internet. I should not have done that. I am way too much of a hypochondriac to ever look up a symptom.

Now I have decided I have a bad heart. Either that or it is old age. I refuse to let it be old age. I am jiggling my feet continually now to try to make sure blood gets there. It's all to do with veins being lazy, y'know. Husband would say it is typical of me to have lazy veins; they fit in with the rest of me.

And my hoover stopped working in the middle of the lounge.

I took the plug apart and changed the fuse - amidst much muttering and grumbling trying to find screwdrivers and fuses - and it still doesn't work. So it is added to Husband's to-do list. But it was quite impressive that I knew how to change a fuse in the first place.

To find out if I had a bad heart I needed to climb a mountain. I didn't have a mountain but walked up a big hill quite quickly and I didn't have a heart attack so I guess it must be age or heat or both. THe thing is, if you have a heart condition you get sympathy; all you get for growing old is laughed at.

P.S. I'm not making light of heart problems - I know some people have terrible difficulties - just mocking my own hypochondria.

I'm supposed to be cleaning ...

but I've been cruisin' and looking cool, baby! He he.I had to take Brian Beetle to the garage to see if they could do some paintwork on him, and the sun was shining, and I was having so much fun, we went cruisin'!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Over a year now

I phoned the kennel today to book George in for our holiday. They asked if he'd been before and I said no, but our old dog had. They asked my name and straightaway said, 'Oh, was it Harvey?' He didn't stay there that often and not at all during the last few years of his life so he must have been a memorable guest.

It's been just over a year now since he died (July 31st) and I still call George Harvey sometimes, and we talk to him about his predecessor. For example, if George walks into a door we say, 'Harvey would be proud of you!'

George is still at the 'I want to be friends and play with everyone' stage; Harvey during his lifetime, adopted the 'I'll just pretend I'm a statue and no-one will notice me' line of action, when we were out and we'd see another dog. The size of the dog was irrelevant; Harvey didn't like to take chances. He'd been caught out too often.

So when he stayed at the kennels they let him occupy a kennel near the door so he didn't have to walk the gauntlet between two rows of barking dogs to get out to run. That probably made him memorable. That and the fact he was the handsomest and loveliest dog in the world.
Not to be outdone, George does his 'sitting at ma piano jest the other day.' And I realise I have absolutely no idea where that phrase comes from.

Postscript: Found it in Wikipedia.

British comedian Eric Morecambe would occasionally break into an impression of (Jimmy)Durante on the Morecambe and Wise Show while wearing a plastic cup on his nose, miming piano-playing and putting on a fake accent to say: "Sitting at my pianna the udder day..."

Something is happening to my feet

You know the way old people shrink as they get older? Do they slip down into their feet?

I can't think of any other reason for my feet to get bigger, and they must be because all my shoes are rubbing me.

I usually wear my tatty old trainers or wellies to walk George and, as a result I have blisters on both heels and my extra toe. Today, even with my sore bits padded, I couldn't wear either trainers or wellies.

I dug my old walking boots out of the back of the cupboard. I don't like wearing them as it feels as if I have clodhoppers on my feet but they were my only option today. The good news is that they didn't rub my heels or extra toe. Unfortunately I now have blisters on both big toes as well.

And they leak. So I don't have a single pair of shoes that I can wear for walking that don't leave me with pruny feet. Let's hope it stops raining soon.

Bloggy brilliant but not necessarily naked

Some of the Bloghounds blogs are awfully intelligent. I say that although I don't actually know it in fact as I don't understand what they're talking about. But they use big trendy words and sound as if they understand what's going on in the world. I do try to visit occasionally but I'm usually overpowered and speechless. On the other hand I can't imagine for one minute that they'd find anything of interest in my blog so we're square. (Or more like oval-shaped really in my case.)

I have just read Calum's blog and finds that he aligns himself with me, as being those who expose themselves. To derision of all things. Me? I ask you: what is there to deride or laugh at in my blog? It records my life, which is a serious burden, with, and through which, I struggle. Falling-down knickers are not to be - oh, no, no, no, I was going to write sniffed at, but no, no, no! - taken lightly. Such is the stuff of tragedy.

* * * * * * * * *

I know a man that I have always thought of as well-meaning and, in many ways, quite innocent. But a few things have happened recently that make me wonder whether he is, in fact, manipulative and hiding it under a cloak of naivety. I shall watch him with a new wariness.

* * * * * * * * *

Shall I take a photo of my fingernail? It's awfully long and it's sure to break soon. Even though I keep stroking it and talking nicely to it. You see, I bite my nails so one that grows is an exception to be adored and fussed over.

An uplifting time at Zac's

At the end of Zac's last night a few of us were gathered round the coffee bar talking. The conversation went from neighbours to Neighbours to weight watching to exercise. Nic said he tried to go for a run once a week. I said, 'I can't run.'
'Of course you can run.'
'No, I'm the wrong shape for running. I have to hold my arms across my chest if I run.'

A discussion followed that involved chicken wire bras and Madonna. Steve, who'd been arguing that a little discomfort was a small price to pay, was getting up to leave, just as Sean, who'd been half-listening while carrying on another conversation, joined in with the suggestion, 'Beach volleyball.' Steve sat down again.

What is it with men and beach volleyball?!!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

ABC Wednesday - C

Continuing ABC Wednesday on a Beatles' songs theme.

A few weeks ago we went to France with Daughter and Son-in-law. SiL was taking part in L'Etape, the amateur stage of the Tour de France. Part of the stage involved cycling up and through the Col de Tourmalet, the highest pass in the Pyrenees. When SiL did it, the weather was abysmal: freezing cold, pouring with rain and very poor visibility. A few days later we took him back up in the sunshine to see what he had cycled over. The photo is of Husband and me at the Col de Tourmalet, demonstrating Can't Buy Me Love (but for everything else there's Mastercard). To take part in ABC Wednesday, visit

Monday, August 04, 2008

What I did in work today

Part of my job as church administrator is to produce the weekly notice sheets. A few weeks ago Chris, one of the leaders, asked me if I could start creating short films, drawing attention to particular details from the notices, to show on Sunday mornings. Well, I have to say that my films have become the highlight of the meeting. Eat your heart out, Spielberg.

As I said in an earlier post, I find it hard to be serious for too long so, as you can imagine, my films have a touch of humour about them. Not to mention surreality.

Alun works for the church and we share an office. We tease each other unmercifully. A stranger coming into the office and hearing us abusing each other would scratch his head and think, 'Is this really a church office?'

So one very popular feature of the Sunday films is where I make fun of Alun by doctoring photos - putting his head onto other people's bodies etc. This week I found a photo of Superman. I'd just stuck Alun's head on when I was struck by a moment of conscience. 'You really should mock yourself sometimes as well,' I said to myself.

So it was back to the net for another appropriate photo and I found this cartoon, which was just tooooo good to resist.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Not on your side, Mr Bush

Phew, I'm worn out after my mammoth post writing session but I have to add one more thing.

During last Sunday's talk, Chris mentioned a verse I'd never heard before. It's such a vital verse that I can't believe that it's not referred to more often.

Before the battle for Jericho, Joshua met 'the commander of the Lord's army'. (Some say this was an early appearance of Christ; others say it was an angel.) Joshua asked him whose side he was on. 'Are you for us or for our enemies?'
Now the Israelites had been led out of captivity, through the wilderness, and many hardships, and were on the verge of entering the land the Lord had promised them. You'd think it would be pretty obvious to most people that God was on their side.
But the commander of the army of the Lord said, 'Neither.'

God's not on America's side. He's not on Britain's side. He's not on Iraq's side. He is God. He is on the side of the unloved and the unlovely, the hurt, the weak, the lost, the lonely, the sad, the bad, and the mad.

Does God sanction genocide?

Last Sunday morning Chris and Alun spoke in church about Joshua and the walls of Jericho, and they asked if God, by giving Jericho into the hands of the Israelites, sanctioned the mass killing that followed.
They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it - men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys. (Joshua 6:21)

Apparently - I'm not very hot on the Old Testament - if was Moses who had ruled that the Canaanites, which included the inhabitants of Jericho, be executed for their idolatry and moral corruption. And I'm not sure of his authority i.e. whether that came from God or was his interpretation. And that's one of the things about the Jewish scriptures: they're very open to interpretation. The rabbis love to discuss and argue over points.

But that isn't really what I was thinking about.

As I said, Chris and Alun spoke and they put forward various ideas, explanations, reasons, excuses, for this massacre. And that's what they are. Just guesses, an individual's theory. Not one can be proved to be right or wrong.

A few months ago I had a discussion/disagreement with Chris in the office. I said my faith was simple; he said we should question everything. He repeated that idea in regard to the genocide theories. Question; don't just accept; try and find out.

When we'd talked he'd beaten me down with his arguments. He's very intelligent and good at debating. My mind goes blank until three days later when i think 'I should have said ...' And it had the same effect on me at first on the Sunday morning. But then I thought about it some more.

It's not that I don't question; it's not that I just believe everything I hear; it's not that I'm gullible and open to any idea that comes along.

I do question. I have no idea whether God sanctioned this mass murder at Jericho. I don't understand why bad things happen to good people - or even to bad people. I do shout at God at what I see as the unfairness of many things in life.

I don't know the answers. And it doesn't really matter. No, that sounds terrible. What I mean is that I don't know and I won't know in this life, but I do know Jesus. I do know that he is the visible manifestation of the invisible God. I know what he did when on this earth, how he lived and what he taught. I know what his message was, his attitude and his response. And that matters more to me than stressing out over why.

So I say that my childlike faith - God loves me and I am forgiven - is no less valid than that of the man who will sit down and discuss for four hours the importance of a comma in the book of Nahum, chapter 2, verse 3.

That's all I wanted to say really. It's more to get it clear in my mind than to persuade anyone else. So if you've read this far, well done.


A week ago Husband and I had this conversation.
Me: Is Midsomer Murders on tonight?
Husband: No.
(I didn't say it was going to be an interesting conversation.)

So we watched a film.

Now we have one of those magic digi-boxes and last night we were flicking through the list of programmes we'd recorded to decide what to watch when what do we find on the list but Midsomer Murders. From last Sunday.
Me: I thought you said it wasn't on?
Husband: I thought it wasn't.

Because digi-box is cleverer than Husband, it recorded MM anyway as it was set up to record the whole series. Excellent. We settled down to watch it in eager anticipation of at least five murders - the quiet English countryside is anything but quiet in the Midsomer area.

It was getting close to the end and Detective Inspector Barnaby was about to work out whodunnit or who was about to do it when ... the screen went blank.

The digi-box is foolproof but, sadly, not idiotproof. Husband, not realising it was recording last Sunday, had switched the digi-box off at that point.

So if you watched Midsomer Murders last week - the one about magic and loopy people - please tell me who the murderer was. We have our suspicions - the mild-mannered solicitor - but that is all they will remain unless someone can set us right.

Pick of the week

My blog writing and visiting have all gone to pot this last week with Husband home sick i.e. I've had to do some work instead of telling him (from a distance) I'm working when actually I'm blogging.

He's much better though and is back to work and Hook tomorrow. George also had his stitches checked on Friday and he's declared fit again so all is back to normal. Good thing too as my head is fairly bursting with posts that seemed so important - but that now I struggle to remember.

As I've said before, I write my posts in my head usually while walking or showering or doing something else, so it doesn't take me long to get most of addle-brained thoughts out. The occasional more serious ones need time to write out but before I start on that I must mention a couple of things..

Tonight I was listening to Pick of the Week on Radio 4 while I was ironing. Every week I say I won't listen to it again because it gets me annoyed that I've missed so many fascinating programmes. So here's my selection of Pick of the Week ...

A farmer in Devon has given up pig-farming in favour of pig-cuddling. He finds it a much more lucrative business letting townies into the pig pen to cuddle a pig.

Exercise done in time to music i.e. synchronised, uses 7% less aerobic energy than that done not in time to music. I think that's what it said but I should check because it sounded as if it should be a good thing but if you use less energy then I'm not sure if it is. Not if you want to use up lots of calories. I think I must have got that wrong.

At Buckfast Abbey they have an Iraqi beekeeper. He trims one wing of the queen bee so if she tries to fly she falls to the ground, and the bees all give up and go back into their hive. Which sounds a little cruel. (I don't think the fact that he is from Baghdad is anything to do with this practice; I just mention it out of interest.)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

And more clouds

The Photohunt theme of clouds reminded me of a story I wrote a number of years ago. It won second prize in a local writing competition. Daughter came first. I think there must only have been three entrants and one of those was the judge's sister.

At the prize-giving ceremony, our stories were read by professional actors. I thought mine was quite poignant but when it was read aloud, the audience kept laughing!

I had the same trouble when I was doing my writing course. My tutor would tell me off as I'd be writing a very serious story but I wouldn't be able to resist putting in something silly. 'You build up the mood and then destroy it!' she said.

This is a taster of the story. The whole of it can be found on My bits that are too long.

The day we saw Elvis
Mam was making chips when she burned down the house. It was the first time she’d made chips since Da had died eight years earlier. Before that she’d always made chips on Wednesdays. It’d been egg and chips for tea on Wednesdays for as long as I could remember. I suppose in the beginning it was because Da didn’t get paid until Thursday then it became habit. She stopped making chips when Da died. It was too much effort, I suppose, to make them just for her.