Friday, October 31, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Blue

Shades of blue

A lake in the Rockies, Canada

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick


Happy Halloween

Younger Son and his friend are going drinking tonight, in the personae of international rugby players, Duncan Jones (Wales) and Sebastien Chabal (France).

Be very scared!

Friday bits

When I was in prison this week I was issued with an alarm thingy to hang on my waistband. Afterwards I was told that if I'd pressed it, thirty big strong prison officers would have come running to my rescue.

Ah well, there's always next week.

* * * * * * * * *

I'm so tired and my eyes have such huge bags that when I was in Sainsburys yesterday I bought some Champneys Eye Rescue Gel (on special offer). It sounded ideal, promising to reduce puffiness and shadow.

I applied it after showering this morning. I guess I wasn't made to be a style icon: I ended up going to work with greasy bags and eyelids that stuck together and to my hair.

Why does this always happen to me?

* * * * * * * * *

We're off to Silverton tomorrow for a flying visit to Daughter and Son-in-law. That's assuming they haven't been washed away in the freak storms that hit Devon yesterday. She hasn't emailed me today and that's unusual.

She's probably reveling in the fame of being featured in Marketing Week

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Heebie jeebies

George has got a bad case of the heebie jeebies tonight. He keeps staring up at windows and barking. What with that and our hall light going on and off it's like living in my own little House of Horrors.

I wonder if it's a full moon tonight. We noticed that it affected Harvey. He would go and sit in the garden and stare at it.

Thinking about suicide

I read Calum's post about suicide and was going to comment there but my thoughts got a little garbled so I decided to do a post here instead.

But even when I was pondering this while walking George, I was still finding it hard to get any shape to my thoughts. I considered analysing reasons for suicide and the whys and why nots - or maybe that should be who nots - but it's such an enormous topic, and one I think that has some basic principles that nearly everybody would go along with i.e. there must be controls and protection for the vulnerable and unstable.

But when I try to imagine how it would if I were terminally ill and in dreadful pain, if I weren't living as such but being kept alive, if I were a burden to those around me - however much they might protest otherwise - then i really don't know how I would feel.

And this is where if I start to explain I'll ramble so I won't. I'll just concentrate on one aspect, the religious angle.

I'm a Christian. I don't think I've ever received any teaching about suicide but I get the impression the general idea is that it is a sin against God - and in some people's eyes means the person wouldn't go to heaven but to hell. But I think it's very presumptuous of us to say who will and won't get to heaven. Or, more particularly, who won't.

I suppose the sin is doing one's own will rather than God's but I can cite examples of me doing my own will rather than God's most every day. I am human; I fail. One sin is no worse than another; suicide isn't an unforgivable sin.

But God asks that if we sin, we repent. So I suppose if we commit suicide, we don't have opportunity to confess and say sorry, so we go to hell?

I'm sorry but I cannot believe that my God, who loves me and gave his son for me, would give up on me at that point. He will have known my situation, the struggle, the battle, the guilt, the pain, the anguish. No, I refuse to believe that the loving God that I know would condemn me.

Stronen crawks

I do wish George wouldn't get the heebie jeebies in the middle of the woods. He stops and starts barking and staring into the trees. It's very disconcerting and results in me looking over my shoulder for George's bogey-man every 3 minutes for the rest of the walk.

* * * * * * * *

Has anyone else noticed that the verifier words are looking more like words these days?

No, I knew I shouldn't have asked. But just take a look at them. Instead of the qgqwtykzq that we used to get, we now get almost proper words like peoplem or quantic. Sometimes anyway. More often than not. I'm sure the person who is sitting up there, in the virtual sky, setting up the verifiers got bored and starting creating his own language. I would if that were my job.

ABC Wednesday - O

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da was released by the Beatles in 1968.

Ob-la-Di,Ob-La-Da, life goes on,
Lalala how life goes on

This photo must have been taken in the spring of 1953 on the steps of the house in which I was born and grew up. It shows me on my my great-gran's lap, with my grandmother on the left and my mother on the right (as you look at the photo). Tra la la, how life goes on ...

(That's my grandfather at the back and two of my cousins in front.)

To take part in ABC Wednesday visit ABC Wednesday Round 3.


ABC Wednesday - Not yet

Flipping nora, it was cold this morning wandering round the garden waiting for George to find the perfect place to poo. I think it's time to revert to my long dressing-gown.

And I am struggling to to find an ABC photo this week! Will it be Ob-la-di ob-la-da or Octopus's Garden? This could take me some time ...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gary's shepherd's

I had some of the young people from church round for a meal tonight. In between going into prison and going to Zac's. Yes, you're right: planning isn't my strong point. Still it worked out okay.
I made Gary Rhodes's shepherd's pie, which I think is delicious. Admittedly it did contain best part of a bottle of red wine ... Postscript
I noticed in the group photo that it's men on the sofas and women sitting at their feet on the floor. We teach that in our church: submission of women to men. What do you mean you don't believe me?!

An existentialist post-modern moment

Or it might be if I knew what that meant.

Yesterday in work Chris asked me if I had any one-sided paper.


Remember my missing tin opener? Well now the bag of odd socks has gone missing from the airing cupboard.

Police are looking for a mutant giant centipede with a penchant for baked beans.

Monday, October 27, 2008

This *!@#!^ dog

Did I say it would take a day or two for him to find a new escape route? It took him 20 minutes.

I wouldn't mind - well, I would - but I was watching him.

He had gone behind some bushes. 'That's okay; he can't get out there. I can go and get a tissue.' I return 10 seconds later and he's gone. There's no sign of him so I fetch his lead and walk down the street calling, 'George!'

I spend 25 minutes doing this. There is absolutely no sign of him. I am beginning to get anxious. He has a tag on with our phone number and I'm sure if someone finds him they'll call us. But what if he's been dognapped? He's a very good-looking dog. He could fetch a good price from someone who doesn't know him.

I get in Betty and begin to drive around our most frequently used routes. I am praying hard now. He's not in the adventure playground. I go back on myself and try the other entrance to the woods. I park and ask a workman if he's seen a retriever. No, he hasn't. I hurry into the field only to be called back by the workman, 'He's up here!'

I rush back and leap into the car. The workman says he's gone down the drive by the top lamp-post. As I drive up George and a little friend appear out of a garden. The friend is a female bull terrier. I stop the car, open the door and call George. He looks surprised. His friend leaps into the car; George stays on the pavement. George gets into the car; his friend gets out. George gets out.

Meanwhile I am desperately trying to grab anything I can get hold of. George and his friend run around on the pavement and then start again. She jumps in, he jumps in. I close the door and wonder if I would get in trouble for dog-napping if I take the other dog home with me. Just as a temporary measure you understand.

I decide that driving even a short distance with 2 dogs jumping around in the back of a Beetle probably isn't a wise choice. I open the door a little and let George's friend out while keeping a firm grip on George's collar. I jump in the car, shut the door and breathe a sigh of relief. George's friend sits on the pavement and looks at us sadly. George sticks his nose out of the window. I close the window just in case. I open the quarter-light and say sorry then drive home.

Judging by the effort George puts in to try and get out of the gate before I can close it after us I wonder if the bitch is on heat. But he's not supposed to be affected by that, is he?

Monochrome Monday

When we first saw this building in Vancouver we thought the image had been painted on the side, but on our trolley-bus tour of the city, the guide said it was built using different coloured bricks. Can you imagine how much planning went into that?!

To take part in Monochrome Monday, visit aileni and go to the Mr Linky page as well.

A bright spark

My boss was working at home this morning; I was working in work. She emailed me to ask me to go downstairs and turn off the heating. Let me explain: our central heating controls have gone kaput so, at the moment, we've got little manual timers that have to be set and reset every day.

I went downstairs. the heating wasn't on. I went back up and emailed my boss to tell her. 'Ah but,' she emailed back, 'I meant that you were to switch off the timer.'

Back downstairs I go and discover that, according to the timer, the heating should be on now. Back upstairs and I phone my boss this time. This is rather serious as, although it's half-term and we don't have the usual classes, we do have a big health screening event tomorrow.

A number of phone calls follow with different suggestions being put forward for solving the problem. Each one involves me running up and down stairs. On about the fourth trip I work out why the heating isn't coming on as it should. (We're no longer interested in turning the heating off being more concerned to find a way to make it come on.)

I phone my boss. 'I think the reason the timer and the heating weren't working might be because, um, I didn't notice before, but the plug is switched off at the socket.'

At this point, Chris, who is working at the next desk, collapses snorting, with his head in his hands. He tries to tell me he was reading a funny email. Yeah, right.

* * * * * * * * *

On an electrical theme, our house is preparing to turn itself into a haunted house for Halloween: the lights in the hall keep going on and off.

I point this out to Husband. He says that it's just a dodgy connection. He's right. I only have to hit the lightbulb with a tea-towel as I pass and it comes on.

Early morning activity

Husband has erected another stop-george-escaping barrier so this morning I sat and ate my cereal at the computer confident in the knowledge that I didn't have to watch him every minute. (At least not until he has found another escape route and that usually takes a day or two.)

I am happily reading Dr Stu's post about the horrendous Sarah Palin when I hear a car horn and a dog barking. My heart leaps into my throat and I jump up, run upstairs to drag some clothes over my nightie, and bump into Younger Son. He guesses what I am doing. 'Yes, it sounded like George barking after the car horn,' he says.

I am downstairs about to leave the house when YS calls down, 'It's all right: he's still in the garden.'

Sudden shocks first thing in the morning. That dog is going to be the death of me.

A few minutes later I watch his attempts to climb over the new barrier. He whimpers pitifully when he fails. 'I want to be free!'

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Isn't this wonderful?

"If you live in central Illinois, you can tune to the local television station and get the "Woolly Worm Forecast." Weatherperson Judy Fraser gathers information from a number of area volunteer "woolly worm reporters" and bases her annual prediction on their sightings."

From Prairie Rose's blog. I just love it!

Nobody told me

More importantly nobody told George that the clocks went back last night. So at 8.45 george-time, he started woofing for a wee. That would have been a good time for us to wake up but it could have been even better. I don't have bags under my eyes so much as packing crates. Husband had forgotten too. He said, 'They didn't issue a reminder on TV last night either.'
'You were watching a DVD.'
'Oh yes.'

Last night, over dinner - at the table - Husband, Younger Son and I were discussing James Bond films. How many can you think of that have one word titles?

Husband had heard the question on the radio but he must have misheard the answer because we thought of another one. The radio and, indeed, all the media are doing a lot of Bond talk at the moment with the new film about to come out. Husband said he hadn't seen the last one yet.
'Yes, you have,' I said.
'No, I haven't.'
'Yes, you have. It's the one with the big poker game, you know.'
'No, I don't.'
'Yes, you do.'
That's the trouble with Husband: he never remembers what films he's seen. We often have these arguments and then he watches the film and about halfway through he realises I was right and he has seen it before. But he was adamant last night. So adamant that he found the DVD and sat and watched it. And he still claimed he'd never seen it before.

James Bond films with one word titles:
Goldfinger, Thunderball, Moonraker, Octopussy, Goldeneye

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Garfield would be ashamed of me

You would not believe the time and effort it has taken me to get that 7 second video up on the previous post.

Thanks for the suggestion, Furtheron. It seems lots of people were having the COM surrogate and Runtdl (or something) errors way back in January 2007 with Vista. Whatever it is and does, it means I can't upload videos at the moment. I had to resort to saving the film onto a stick, taking that upstairs to Younger Son's room and using his (my old) computer to upload it. And was it worth it? Well, I think it's quite fun. For 7 seconds.

* * * * * * * *

Last Saturday Tim, a friend, said to Husband, 'I hear Elder Son's coming down next weekend.'
'Is he?' said Husband.
On Sunday, Carol said to me, 'Elder Son's down next weekend, isn't he?'
'Is he?' I said,

Elder son and Carol's son are best friends and were in Birmingham university together. If I ever wanted to know what Elder Son was doing, I'd ask Carol. Her son communicated with her.

So, yes, Elder Son and Daughter-in-law are down, although we're not seeing much of them as it's more of a friends' gathering than them coming down to see the parents. But they're having lunch with us tomorrow before they go back to London.

I decided I'd make a lasagne today ready so I can just pop it in the oven when I get back from church tomorrow. In Sainsburys I mentally checked off my list: mince, vegetables, cheese, Dolmio extra spicy sauce. Yes, I had everything I needed. Have you spotted my mistake yet?

My sauce was merrily bubbling on the stove when it struck me.

Lasagne usually works better when it has pasta sheets in it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Scary

Alongside the town of Banff in Alberta, Canada, you''ll find Sulphur Mountain. A gondola - cable car - carries visitors up to the summit at 2,281m (7,486 ft) above sea level.

We decide we'll get the cable car up and walk down.

Husband to boy on ticket desk, 'Four singles, please.'
Boy-on-ticket-desk, 'Sorry, you can only buy singles at the top.'
Husband, 'But we want to get the cable car up and walk down.'
Boy-on-ticket-desk, 'We only sell singles at the top because it's easier to walk up than it is to walk down.'

We go into a huddle and discuss this logic. We decide he has an honest face and we'll walk up.

When we must be three-quarters of the way up at least I ask a hiker on his way down, 'Are we nearly there?'
'Oh, no, you're not even halfway there yet.'

I would swear at Husband but I am polite. And I must save my air to breathe.

As the path zig-zags under the overhead cable cars, I think how terribly unlucky someone would be if they were killed by a falling cable-car. I make a point of running - okay, walking faster - underneath the wires.
When we reach the summit all I want is a bed, intravenous tea and an oxygen mask. I don't care it's a world heritage site.

In the cafe we plan what we will do to the boy-in-ticket-desk.
Then it's time to go down. In the cable car. Now this is the bit I am really not looking forward to. This is going to be SCARY!

Yes, that's me squeaking even though I had my eyes closed as we disappeared in the void. But I did open them later and here's the shadow of our cable-car on the trees - a photo taken by me! Wasn't I brave?!

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick.

For Katney

We have a quilting group that meets in Linden twice a week and once a month. Last week they had a guest speaker and some quilts on display; I took these two photos as examples of their marvellous work. I am in awe as I hate sewing so much I would rather discard a garment than sew on a button.

Table Manners

Husband didn't arrive home from Reading last night until about 8.30, after I'd returned from circuit training. I'd started - and Younger Son had finished while I'd been exercising - making a curry for dinner. Husband, tired and grumpy, flopped in front of the television. I said to Younger Son, 'We'll have our dinner on trays.'
Younger Son was indignant. 'No, we won't. We'll sit at the table properly to eat it.'

Instant slimming

I'm sort of in-between sizes.

If I wear the smaller size trousers they are tight and I feel fat.

If I wear the bigger size trousers they fall down and I feel thin.

Why didn't I realise this before? I don't need to diet; i just need to wear clothes too big.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


My COM Surrogate has stopped working. It stopped working the other day too. Not only does it stop, it gets itself in a big loopy knot. I don't think a new computer should have surrogate anythings. My tin-opener has also gone missing. I wonder if the two are connected.

* * * * * * * * * *

You wouldn't have to walk far into my home to realise that tidiness and neatness are not my strong points. I blame George; he's handy in that way.

But there's one area where I am slightly obsessive. (Can you be slightly obsessive? Or is obsession ones of those words like unique? Either you are or you aren't.)

Anyway, I am whatever I am about my mugs. This photo shows how they look when someone else puts them away. And this photo shows how they look when I've re-arranged them. It's not quite so obvious because they are some mugs missing from this photo. Normally I would have another Kelloggs mug next to the three on the right, followed by a Duncan Jones rugby mug, followed by a white mug with black dogs on.

If they're not in the 'right' order I can't just ignore it: I have to re-arrange.

Is that normal?

The only tin opener we can find in the house is a weird one that neither Younger Son nor I can work out how to use so I'm going to have to go and buy a proper tin opener before I can finish making curry sauce for dinner.

Is that normal?


I don't have to buy a new tin-opener. At least not this evening. George bit it and Younger Son knifed it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More on purple pots

According to Delicious Organics:

Purple Potatoes also called Blue Potatoes or Delta Blues truly are naturally purple! This is from the same powerful antioxidant that give blueberries their brilliant color. Purple Peruvian Potatoes were some of the first potatoes harvested. They were saved for Inca kings. Used in Mexican cooking, purple potatoes are gaining popularity in the U.S. They have a naturally creamy flavor and texture and hold their shape well for salads.
My jumper keeps rising up over my tummy. It's really awfully attractive, you can imagine.

We haven't had any Canada photos for a long time, have we? I realise I haven't shown you the land animals yet - and there's so much more ...
Daughter and me by a lake in front of some mountains.
Lake Agnes near Lake Louise. And purple mash as served in Baker Creek Bistro in Banff (I think). Very nice it was too.

I had a brilliant time in prison yesterday!

You know sometimes how life just goes along? My life, or rather my writing life, has been doing that for months now. For years actually. It's been a case of just hanging on in there, dealing with, and persevering in spite of, rejection after rejection, ignored submissions and lack of success.

But suddenly it's perked up.

I have a new website to write for - and that means getting paid! Yay! I know being paid isn't necessarily a mark of success but it doesn't half help your self-esteem.

A photographer I contacted about a possible book collaboration has got back to me and is very enthusiastic; we're meeting to discuss it next week.

A non-fiction manuscript I submitted to a publisher is being considered: they emailed me to tell me so and when you're used to not getting a reply at all that's almost as good as a 6 figure advance. (I'm easily pleased.)

And I had a brilliant time in the prison yesterday! I met with three inmates and we're going to be working on some pieces for the Christmas carol service. They were so enthusiastic and up for it, it was just amazing. I feel really privileged to have the opportunity.

And last night at Zac's there were some interesting thoughts on developing the community there, and that's great too! And Ros and I spent the latter part of the evening avoiding talking to each other and saying goodbye. At last, when it was very late, I said, 'I'm going now, goodbye.' We hugged and then went back to pretending it wasn't happening. So that's all right then.

Tra la la.

Quick grumble

Why is everyone and his auntie sending me free pens? Along with a letter asking me for money.

Do they really think that a cheap pen is going to make me send them money? Why don't they save their money and use it for something useful?

Grumble over.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

ABC Wednesday - N

When the Beatles released Nowhere Man in 1965 (on the LP Rubber Soul), it was said that it came out of the philosophical soul-searching musings of John Lennon, although John himself apparently said it was the end result of an uninspired night of failed song-writing. You can read what you like into the words, but when I was going through Beatles songs beginning with 'N', and came to Nowhere Man, one person sprang into my mind. It was the title rather than the lyrics that made me think of him although most of the words fit him well too.

My Nowhere Man is a drunk. He sleeps under a bush in the park or in the cemetery, in a grave if there's one available. He comes to Zac's for bible study every Tuesday and is always the first to read aloud. As soon as he's read, he usually goes out for a cigarette, because, 'Sean, you just goes on too much.'

Doesn't have a point of view,
Knows not where he's going to,
Isn't he a bit like you and me?
Nowhere man, please listen,
You don't know what you're missing,
Nowhere man, the world is at your command.

The only line that doesn't fit is the first one. My Nowhere Man most definitely has a point of view to the point of drunken arrogance on times. But he doesn't know where he's going.

You can't help but wonder what his past is, and fear what his future will be.

To take part in ABC Wednesday, go here.


Ros and the children begin their journey home to Australia on Wednesday. Glenn is already back there and has been for a couple of months. For the last two and a half years they've been living and working in Swansea and providing vital support for Sean and Zac's Place.

I think I sort of thought that Glenn would decide he didn't really want to stay in sunny Australia and that he'd rather be in wet Wales, and he'd come back and they wouldn't move. But he hasn't and he didn't and they are.

So last night, Ros, Lucy, Wendy, Rachel and I met for a final farewell meal in a local pub, and we had a wonderful time. Our conversation started normally but soon deteriorated into a comparison of 'bad time time to fart' experiences. Let's just say that mine involved 6 men, the floor and some abdominal curling, while Lucy's ... well, she can tell you that herself.

Ros has said she will call into Zac's at the end tonight. She isn't looking forward to it and doesn't want it to be a drawn-out goodbye. We're going to miss them both for all they've been and meant to so many people. There aren't any words that will do.

Welshcakes update

I know many of you are regular readers of Sicily Scene. Welshcakes is still in hospital having lots of tests. She is missing Simi very much and is longing to be home and well again.

Let's all bombard the heavens with prayers and good wishes for her.

Grandma wannabe

Daughter has written several new posts on her kitchen diary blog. In one she invites readers to take a tour of her kitchen and she points out a card on her dresser shelf. It happens to be one I sent her.And she writes this:
Just in case you didn't get a good look at the card in front of the tea caddy: yes, it really does say that. There is no low to which the woman will not stoop to secure her first grandchild. I plan to make her wait a LOT longer, or at least that's my story.


Monday, October 20, 2008

George wasn't well

George was poorly yesterday evening. He didn't even want his tea. He kept barking to go out and then seemed to be retching a little. His tummy looked quite large and felt firm. I asked Husband, 'Did he eat anything on his walk this afternoon?'
'Only grass and horse poo.'

Later it occurred to me that when I'd dished up his dinner, the bag of food that we keep in the pantry was wet. Our guess is that George called in there after his walk and gorged himself.

If only we could feel confident that now he would have learned.

P.S. He's been fine today.

Monochrome Monday

I love the Severn Bridge. The 'new' 1996 Severn Bridge. When we're going anywhere that involves us crossing it I always make the effort to stay awake until we've gone over - and that's really something for me as my head starts to droop the minute I get in the car. I don't know what makes it so beautiful, whether it's the lines, the colours, the surrounding view of the river or, more likely, a combination of all those things.

To take part in Monochrome Monday, visit Aileni.

New computer

The computer transition went remarkably smoothly: Husband hardly swore at all.

Until you make the changeover, you don't realise how many programs you use that will need re-installing. (That should be 'one' not 'you' but that always sounds so officious and pompous.) I imagine I'll go to do something one day and realise that the program is not here but, at the moment, all is well. Although I have a new edition of Word, which I haven't looked at yet and I'm sure that will take some getting used to. Alun has it in work and today, while he was out, Chris was using his computer. We both stared at the Word page for ages without succeeding in finding out how to print from it.

Now I am going to try to find a photo for Monochrome Monday ...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Family

I'm doing Photohunt very early because Husband is dismantling my puta tonight and installing the new one. I hope.

A couple of years ago someone from the Welsh Assembly called to see me so I could do a survey for them. She asked lots of questions about the area in which we live, our home and facilities round about. At the end she said, 'What is the best thing about living in this house?'

I suppose she meant was it the location, the schools, the shops or something like that, but without hesitating I replied, 'It's a happy house, a family home.'
She looked up and said, 'Do you know the first time I came here (she'd called once before and I'd been out) I walked up the steps, looked at the house and thought, "This is a happy house."'

(Do you think our family house is smiling in this photo?!)

It's not that we haven't had any hard or anxious times, but both Husband and I grew up in good homes and I think - I hope - we've made ours a happy home, one where we love a lot and laugh a lot.

And this is the family when we gathered together September last year to bury Harvey's ashes. It could have been a very sad time but we drank a champagne toast to him, grateful for so many good memories.

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick


Me, the prison governor and the dog

I had an appointment at the prison yesterday. Just as I was rushing out I remembered I was wearing the same clothes I'd been wearing to Zac's on Tuesday. It was too late to change so I had to hope that:
a) nobody in Zac's had been smoking anything that might be considered illegal;
b) they wouldn't make a visitor to a prison governor run the gauntlet of the drugs dog.

It might sound a bit over the top but one of our old church leaders helps with breakfasts for the homeless and he's sometimes gone straight to do prison visiting afterwards. Twice he's been stopped by the drugs dog. Thrice and it's a lifetime ban so he's having to be more careful now.

But all was fine and dandy yesterday. Quite relaxed in fact and I will soon have news of some exciting developments ...

I'd better clarify

When I said people didn't reply to my emails I meant editors and publishers, not friends! So please don't think I'm getting at anyone!

Anyway, I got a t-towel with my cheese. The trouble is it's black. (Collier = miner = black) How can you dry dishes on a black cloth? It's just not natural.

It's like Lenor's new black fabric conditioner. Has anyone bought it? Would you add a black liquid to your washing?

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I do wish people would reply to my emails.

Even if it's just to say, 'Sod off.'

While they don't reply I have hope and hope is a terrible thing.

* * * * * * * * * *

Would you believe it? Now I've found a baby slug slithering up my sink.

* * * * * * * * * *

I've also been infected by an evil cleaning bug. While cleaning the lounge this morning (did I mention I was cleaning ...?) I was possessed and tore off the sofa cover to put it in to wash. 'It's a sunny day,' I said to myself. 'Covers have to be dried naturally so it's an ideal time.' I said all this knowing full well that the heat of the sun at this time of year is not strong enough to dry the cover so, come this evening, I'll be muttering under my breath - and out loud - about stupid ideas.

And as if that wasn't enough, then I put my dusters and polishing cloths (i.e. old t-shirts) in to wash.

'Go away, nasty cleaning virus! I hate you!'

I've had enough; I'm going out now.

Flowers in my eyes

Cleaning the lounge today (do you notice I always manage to mention any housework I do?) I realised something: it is just about 20 years since we moved into this house.

It was within the first year after that, I am fairly sure, that we decorated the lounge and had new curtains made. So it is for 19 years that I have loved and hated those curtains in almost equal measure.
I say 'almost' because I do love them dearly, even though they disturb my equilibrium.

I bought the fabric from Laura Ashley and took it to a local curtain shop that employed a seamstress to make lined curtains. We have three large windows in the lounge, including French doors, and, although it was expensive, it was cheaper than having them made at Laura Ashley.

I picked them up just a few days before Christmas, when we were having family to stay, and, excitedly, hung them up in our newly-decorated lounge - and then exclaimed in despair, 'Oh no!'

She had joined the material in completely the wrong place!

But she'd obviously done it very carefully as it was the same on all 6 curtains.

Of course I should have taken them back.

But ... it was Christmas in a few days' time; we needed some window dressing. And I couldn't see what on earth she could do about it. We would lose some of the length if she had to unpick it and rejoin in a different place and we'd end up with curtains that didn't fit properly. Unless we bought new material - which cost a fortune. And I was worried that she'd have to pay for it. Or she'd lose her job if we kicked up a fuss.

So every time I draw the curtains I make sure the fold hides the mis-join. And if I go and sit in there and notice the exposed join, I can't relax until I've got up and adjusted it.

And that's been going on for 19 years!


jay is a positive wonder, a fount of information!

She tells me that Spid is probably Spidy and is a tegenaria domestica. Jay also suggested I set her free using the old paper under a glass trick.

I have to say that Spidy wasn't awfully co-operative, refusing to budge from her position on the bendy side of the bath until I 'encouraged ' her, and then it was all systems go. Which mostly meant a lot of squeaking and not from her. But without an overly amount of undue stress I got her to the window-sill in my bedroom and here she is waiting to be set free.

And here she is deciding she doesn't like the look of the big outside world and would rather cling on to my book. And that's where I left them both.

Jay, aka The All-Knowing One, also suggested that the mystery flower could be an angel's trumpet. I compared it with google images and I think she could be right. I emailed Butchart Gardens yesterday to ask them to identify the plant for me; unless they say otherwise, I will bow to Jay in her wisdom.

She also loves Johnny Depp, which makes her indubitably wise in my eyes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And what's more

Younger Son's computer has been broken for some time now. He's been using mine. Now I don't mind throwing him off when he's on facebook or playing poker or football but it's a bit guilt-rendering when he's doing college work. So I said to husband, 'We have to do something about his computer.'

And that's when Husband had his brilliant idea.
'We'll buy you a new computer and he can have yours.'

Yippee! It arrives tomorrow between 8 am and 1 pm - according to the machine that phoned me. It's so exciting. Although I'm not having a new screen. Does that mean I won't have Vista? Alun has Vista in work and it looks a bit confusing to me so I won't mind if I don't.

But I'll also need a new chair. Younger Son will want to take his back up to his bedroom and mine has lost its ouff so I look like a titchy little pixie sitting at the desk.

We are more than conkerors

Every year it's the same. I cannot control my desire. I have to collect conkers.
I would say it was the hunter/gatherer instinct but I don't do anything with them. They just sit in a bowl until they shrivel and I finally throw them away. But, when fresh, they have such a glorious rich glossy shine to them. They look just as I'd like my hair to appear.
Husband is the same with frogspawn. Every Spring you'll find him browsing in ponds and collecting sloppy handfuls of the stuff. At least there is some purpose to frogspawn: it turns into frogs and they're good for the garden. Or normally they turn into frogs. Last time I looked in our pond at the baby froglets, they were still legless tadpoles. Enormous tadpoles but legless and showing no sign of morphing.
Did I tell you about the frogspawn and the school pond? Yes, I'm sure I did. But we were under a lot of pressure at the time.

Come on, mum!

George was pinned down by a nasty little bitch today. She was less than half his size too. I would say he was being a gentleman but then this is the dog who is regularly frightened by tree stumps and plastic bags. Bless him.

How long can spiders survive without food?

Scroll down for ABC Wednesday!Of all the baths in all the towns in all the world, he walks into mine. You can't really see the size of him in this photo but take my word for it ...
I'm no good with spiders; Younger Son is no good with big spiders. Will Spid survive if I leave him in the bath until tomorrow evening when Husband comes home?

What do spiders eat when they're not stuck in baths? How do spiders get stuck in the bath? Do they come up the plughole?

Many years ago Husband was building an extension on our first home. Over several nights we became aware of a scratching noise. We called in the pest-man and he said a rat had got into the cavity wall. The pest-man put poison in the attic but for a long time I lived in fear of sitting on the toilet only to have a rat stick his head out of the water.

I don't suppose he could have done that really ...

P.S. Can you see Spid's antennae? Do spiders usually have such huge antennae? Do they have them at all? Is he a genetically-mutated spider? Or an alien taking on the guise of what he thinks is an innocent family pet?

Once, on a writing course, I had to write the first couple of lines of a story in a genre I didn't usually write. I chose sci-fi and wrote something like this:

It was unfortunate that the aptly-named Chameleon spaceship happened to land next to a portaloo on the construction site of the new London Olympics stadium. It turned out to be doubly unfortunate as, centuries later, astronauts reported sightings of builder's bum in the farthest reaches of the universe.

Can you identify this plant?

Kim asked what these enormous flowers are. I have no idea; any suggestions?
The plant, which we saw in Butchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada, must have been 5 or 6' high with trumpet blooms larger than my hand.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ABC Wednesday - M

Come on a Magical Mystery Tour (released December, 1967) with us today.
It was certainly a Magical tour and the Mystery is: where is it?

Hold your mouse down and run it over the space below for the answer.

ANSWER: Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada

To take part in ABC Wednesday, go here.


I took Betty

It rained.

A few years ago, a friend and I met regularly to pray. Our 'success' rate was such that we reached a point where, if someone was ill and asked us to pray, we said, 'are you sure you want us to pray for you? Are you willing to take the chance of hospitalisation?'

Sometimes I wonder.

But then God moves in mysterious ways. Betty's windscreen wipers started working.

George of the Jungle - Director's Cut

The full version.

Husband was working from home yesterday and he came for a walk with George and me. When he spotted the vine, he leapt on it and started swinging. That was enough to persuade George that this was a good idea. Unfortunately yesterday I didn't have the camera with me (unusually) and missed him tumbling off the edge of the river-bank. Today I took my camera in the hope of encouraging George to do a repeat performance.

He didn't need any encouragement.

Decisions, decisions

Is it going to rain this evening?

Betty's windscreen wipers don't work in the rain. Well, they don't work in the dry either but that's a bit less bothersome.

Shall I take Betty to Zac's and hope it doesn't rain? Or shall I move Betty round the front, get Alfie out of the garage (and that involves opening the garage door, and that's a half-hour job in itself), take Alfie and then go through the reverse procedure when I get home?

Not really a choice is it?

I'll take Betty and pray hard.

George of the Jungle

Bother, this hasn't worked properly. I'll have to try again later.

I've come over all queer

I have been so dynamic this morning! I need tea.

I've finished my play excerpt (more in a minute), emailed asking how to submit it, emailed a photographer suggesting a book collaboration, emailed a publisher to ask about submitting another ghosted autobiography - and prepared it for submission - and it's not even 12 noon yet. (Well, it is but that's dramatic licence.)

Remember before I went on holiday I said I was going to use the time on the plane to write a play? No? Well, I did say it and I did do it. Although I cheated a little.

A few years ago I wrote a monologue that is very well-received whenever I read it aloud. I sent it to BBC Radio but they said, 'Nobody likes monologues,' (unless the author is Alun Bennett), so, on the plane, I decided I'd re-write my monologue as a play. And that's what I've done. At least I've written the first half, which is all that is required to be submitted to the Play-Offs.

The Play-Offs happen once a month and give local writers the chance to see a 10-minute excerpt of their play performed by amateur actors. The winning plays go through to the final and then - get forgotten about usually!

So, are you impressed with my industriousness? I am. Very. Oh, and I didn't include the compiling of a list of topics for another website I'm probably going to be writing. My word. I need a lie-down.

Let's get political

'If Prime Minister Putin can release a video, so can I,' says British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.In an attempt to restore his failing ratings, Gordon Brown has released an instructional video in the art of Scottish country dancing. 'Manners - and the ability to dozy-do - maketh man,' said the dour Scot at the launch.

Supporters of the prime minister are enthusiastic about the video. 'It will get young people off the streets and into the church halls,' said one source close to the prime minister.

No-one at Conservative Central Office was available to comment but it's rumoured that David Cameron is currently away filming a 'How to talk like they do in Eastenders,' video.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monochrome Monday

Last week I posted a wedding photo posed on the steps of my old family home. This week's photo of my great-gran and me is taken about 20 years later. See how cool I was then?

Oh, I loved those steps.

To take part in Monochrome Monday, visit Aileni.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Lazy

Lazily relaxing in front of the log fire in our room in Buffalo Lodge in Banff. I wasn't really being lazy: I was exhausted after having walked up a mountain at least twice as high as Everest that day.

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick


We opened the box and look what we found!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I don't think the operation worked

I've noticed, since he's been back from kennels, that George has developed a peculiar habit. (Yes, another one.)

When we're out walking, he waits for the muddiest, slipperiest bit of path by the river, the bit that takes all my concentration to avoid falling in, before he charges full pelt and leaps up, muddy-pawed, at me. If he hadn't had the operation I'd be convinced he was trying to assert his alpha male dominance but surely he's not supposed to do that now?

Yeah, like he's not supposed to wander any more.

He'd run on a bit ahead so I didn't see him being set upon by another dog. I just heard the squealing and saw him running back to walk casually by my side, carefully keeping me between him and his attacker. The owner of the other dog was most apologetic and must have thought I was an uncaring so-n-so when I said, 'Pah, don't worry about it. He needs to be taught a lesson.'

Worse than a Beetle?

I gave Glenn a lift home from circuit training this evening. He was quite excited. 'I've never been in a Beetle before.'

He then spent 5 minutes sitting in a Beetle while I tried to make my seat belt work.
'Would you like me to help you?' he asked.
'No, it's okay. It just needs fiddling with. It's one of her little foibles.'

When we eventually got going, the glove compartment fell open.
'Ha ha, that's another of her little foibles.'
He said, 'It's okay. We had an old American rust-bucket when we lived in Cambodia. It even had its own bullet holes. The only good thing about it was that the air conditioning worked. The day that packed up was the day we knew the car had to go.'

Gissa job, mate!

Younger Son signed on at a job agency yesterday. They straightaway offered him 10 hours work: 5 hours training this afternoon followed by 5 hours work next Thursday. He duly turned up for training today only to find the tutor had gone home sick and the class was postponed until next Monday - when he has lectures in university.

He got home to a telephone call from the club with whom he had an interview last Saturday: he came second after a woman.

It's just not his week workwise. Actually it's just not his year.

My new hoover arrived

It's the wrong colour. It's silver not red.

When I ordered it I checked with Customer Services and they said they didn't know what colour it would be but that I could send it back, free of charge, if it wasn't red.

But if I do:
a) will I be able to find one anywhere in red - bearing in mind they only had silver in the local shops - or is there a world shortage?
b) will I be able to match the cheap price?
c) will my carpets ever get cleaned again?

The alternative is to keep the silver one and sing while hoovering, to cheer myself up (the reason for having a red one in the beginning).

I guess we both know the sensible decision. And the decision for someone who is just too idle to phone and arrange pick-up and start all over again.

One inuksuk, two inuksuuk, three inuksuit

In 2010 the winter Olympics are to be held in Vancouver, and the logo for these, the 21st, games is an Inunnguaq, which is an example of an inuksuk.Inuksuit (pl.) are stone structures that have been made for hundreds of years throughout the Arctic areas of Alaska, Canada and Greenland. they've been used as a method of communication for generations of Inuit and some lichen-covered inuksuit well-built centuries ago can still be found.

Inuksuit may provide directions through the snow-covered landscape, point to good fishing or hunting places or even indicate where food has been stored. They're also used as memorials and are treated with great respect by the Inuit people.
We passed this one on our trolley-bus tour of Vancouver. I'm afraid I can't remember if it were in Stanley Park or further around the coast. (Sorry it's a bit blurry.)

And here's the one I made at the edge of Lake Maligne. Like the Olympics logo it's an inunnguaq (meaning 'like a human figure'.)And to get it into perspective ...I doubt if mine will last many years: it was probably knocked over by the first strong gust of wind. They're not as easy to make as they might appear!

To quote from The Inuksuk Book by Mary Wallace, 'Today as traditional ways are changing into contemporary ways Inuit, and even non-Inuit, sometimes build inuksuit simply to mark their presence ... in their travels outside of their homeland.'