Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ABC Wednesday - O

My fingerprints prove I am an Original.

The dust proves I am a slatternly housewife.

To take part in ABC Wednesday, pop along to mrs nesbitts place.


A delicate matter

The last time I followed the Slimming World red day/green day diet, although it worked, it did cause me some problems, and I'm finding the same thing this time round.

I am carefully avoiding sharp pointed objects. I am fearful that were I to be punctured I might go into orbit.

In the bluebell wood

It started raining when I was getting ready to walk George but as the rain that had begun when I was hanging out washing lasted barely 5 minutes, I wasn't too concerned. I should have been. It poured down on us. Still as it's the first time in ages and ages that our walk has been rained upon I "mustn't grumble". Indeed I wouldn't be grumbling now - I don't mind walking In the rain if I'm prepared - if the rain hadn't kept plip-plopping down the back of my neck.

In the rain the bluebells took on a darker hue and the scent was more powerful. I always want to lie down in amongst them.

I don't think it's possible to describe the colour of bluebells to someone who hasn't seen them: it is unique. There is almost a luminescence about it. Photos never do the colour justice.

I wonder if it it could be described though to a blind person. It would have to be done using sensations to which the blind person could relate. Let me see. I think the colour of bluebells is like the feeling of early spring sunshine on your skin or the smell of freshness.

Taken in last week's sunshine.

On our way home we encountered a woman who was holding an umbrella down over her face. George normally walks on my left but as she approached, he skedaddled round the back of me so he could be on my right and have me in between him and this strange phenomenon. I don't blame him. I hate umbrellas.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

sweets - non-fattening - for my sweet

All morning I've been dithering over whether to hang out the washing. It's grey and cloudy but windy. I finally decided I would and I hadn't even finishing pegging it on the line before the rain started.

* * * * * * * * * *

Is it possible to overdose on bananas? My Slimming World diet encourages us to eat fruit of all sorts and I do, but bananas are so easy to eat and have just that nice bit of sweetness to them.

Which reminds me of a programme on radio 4 last night. Apparently, 30 years ago, a company was on the verge of bringing out a new natural sweetener (made from miracle berries) but they were stopped at the very last moment and in an unorthodox fashion by the US Food and Drug Administration. It was suspicious and looked very much like the FDA had been got at by the sugar/artificial sweetener industry. Today another scientist is working on developing it and he is hopeful that such a conspiracy couldn't happen now. But the industry has just as much, if not more, to lose today than it did then.

You can listen to the programme here.

* * * * * * * * * *

I filmed George eating the wire mesh fence this morning. Elder Son said, 'Did you not think that stopping him might have been a better idea?'

'It was more fun filming him. And he didn't actually eat any wire.'

* * * * * * * * * *

Yesterday in work Chris was reading poetry to me. It's not everyday that someone reads poetry to me. Particularly when I'm in work.

* * * * * * * * * *

Ah, what a little angel.


I've been a bit lax on visiting especially over the weekend: I didn't even do many Photohunter calls. Apologies. I was a bit stressed on Saturday.

We were taking the services in the prison on Sunday and I was doing the talky bit. We'd met to plan and decided we'd look at Doubting Thomas and darkness. Saturday lunchtime I still hadn't got a grip on the subject and what to say. It wasn't until later in the day - after I'd considered playing ill, calling someone else and begging him to do it, having a service completely made up of singing - that I got my head around it. Sort of.

I wrote Thomas's story from his viewpoint (you can read it if you wish in The Bits That are Too Long) and after reading that, linked it with what I really wanted to say. It was a very seamless link I have to say. Mainly because there wasn't actually one but if you blather around long enough no-one notices.

What I felt was the important message to get across is the message that Sean presses on us at Zac's, the message that I'm finally getting, that God loves us just as we are.

On a sort of aside, when I posted Thomas's story on my other blog, I realised that there are comments on the first story that's there. I hadn't been back there for a long time so hadn't responded but I'm grateful for your kind words. It's perked me up no end at a time when I'm a bit in need of either:
a) a kick in the pants;
b) a lift up from the floor.

It's also reminded me that I don't have a link to it in my blogroll. I am so dozy.

Blogger and stuff

1) Why are the word verifiers getting harder to translate? Squiggly, squashed, they're impossible!

2) When you're writing a comment, but you've forgotten to click in the Comment box, only you don't realise until you're three sentences in because you don't look at the screen when you're typing, where do all those letters that you've typed go? Is there a half-written novel floating in virtual space? Would a half-written novel comprising a bizarre collection of sentences and words be more successful than my fully-written one?

* * * * * * * *

Dragonstar wondered if the earlier photo was of Blackthorn as opposed to Hawthorn. I only have Husband's word for it but he is usually pretty reliable, however I would advise that you keep close to hand any clouts you cast, for the time being at least.

* * * * * * * *

Why would ONE of Younger Son's socks be in Betty Beetle?

He can't get round it,

he can't get under it ... so he'll go over it. George's latest escape route.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A bad start to the day

Going to the work this morning I drove down the drive, signalled left and began turning left. Then it struck me, 'Oh my gosh, I'm going the wrong way!'

Eventually getting to work I went to make myself a cup of tea and there was no milk in the fridge and the biscuit tin was missing. I was ready to go home to bed. (Fortunately I found both.)

Now, let me reassure those of you who remember that I'm on a diet that biscuits eaten in work don't count. Especially when they're stolen from the Sunday school cupboard. And they were only titchy little Nice biscuits and how many calories can there possibly be in those?

Clouts may be cast

The Hawthorn (also known as May) is in blossom.

When I was a little girl and we had a warm and sunny Spring day, I would ask my granny if I could take off my vest (or liberty bodice). She would invariably reply, 'Ne'er cast a clout till May be out.' Which meant 'no.'

There's some uncertainty about the meaning of the rhyme, in particular whether it refers to the blossom or the month of May.

The earliest written record of it comes from 1732, from Dr. Thomas Fuller's Gnomologia:
"Leave not off a Clout Till May be out."

It possibly originates from a Spanish proverb, "Do not leave off your Coat till May be past", as recorded in Captain John Stevens's A New Spanish and English Dictionary, published in London in 1706.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Unique/funny signs

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick.


Scientists in California have made a wetsuit for a penguin who was being bullied because he was going bald.

I'm not going to say anything.
Photo from somewhere or other, possibly yahoo news.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Think more, eat less

Last night on PM on Radio 4, there was an item about some research done by scientists.

They took two groups of people. One group they asked to write a description of a favourite meal; the other they asked to describe a journey. Then they gave them all piles of biscuits and told them to eat as much as they wanted.

It was found that those who had written about food ate less than the other group.

So thinking about food makes you eat less.

However the scientists were keen to point out that dieters who think about food tend to eat more.

So all that research proves ... exactly what?

Do you ever find yourself checking that it's not April 1st?

Little Mrs Men O'Paws

I was reading on Gattina's blog about a search for her glasses and it reminded me of a story I wrote a long time ago. This particular story was a different take on a proper short story of mine that was included in an anthology of new Welsh writing, Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe, published by Parthian.

Little Mrs Men O'Paws

Welcome to Happy Family Land. In this land all the houses are spotlessly clean, shirts are washed and freshly ironed and the cupboard is always full of home-baked cakes, except in Mrs Men O’Paws’s house.
In Mrs O’Paws’s house, there are cobwebs in the corners, dirty shirts on the floor and cupboards that are bare.

One day at lunchtime when Mrs O’Paws was just starting to eat her Marmite and chocolate spread on toast, the phone rang. It was Mrs Potty.
‘Where are you?’ Mrs Potty said.
‘I’m here,’ said Mrs O’Paws.
‘No,’ said Mrs Potty, ‘I mean why aren’t you here?’
‘I am here,’ said Mrs O’Paws starting to feel confused.
‘You can’t be, I’m here and you’re definitely not.’
Mrs O’Paws had a think then said, ‘Well, if I’m not there, where are you?’
‘In the restaurant where we’re supposed to be having lunch,’ Mrs Potty said.
Mrs O’Paws laughed, ‘We’re not having lunch till Thursday, silly.’
‘It is Thursday.’
‘Is it? Oh dear, I’m sorry, I forgot,’ said Mrs O’Paws.

The next morning Mrs O’Paws and Mr O’Paws were having breakfast in the kitchen. They were having dry corn flakes and black tea because Mrs O’Paws had forgotten to get any milk.
Mr O’Paws was reading his newspaper. He looked at Mrs O’Paws.
‘It’s a lovely morning, isn’t it?’ he said.
Mrs O’Paws burst into tears and ran upstairs to the bathroom. She stood behind the door sniffling. Mr O’Paws followed the noise.
‘What’s the matter, dear?’ he said.
‘Nothing. Everything. I don’t know.’

Mr O’Paws thought it would be sensible for Mrs O’Paws to visit the doctor. When she arrived at the surgery she tried to open the door by pushing the one that said pull.
‘Oh dear,’ said Mrs O’Paws.
She told the doctor about all the things that been happening. He said, ‘It’s your age. Take these pills. Goodbye.’
Mrs O’Paws took one pill but then couldn’t remember where she had put the bottle and soon forgot what the doctor had said anyway.

One morning the postman came early. He brought a letter for Mrs O’Paws. Mrs O’Paws loved to receive a letter but she needed her glasses to read it. She looked on the table, under the table, on the floor, down the back of the chair, next to her bed, on top of the microwave, in the dog’s bed. She looked everywhere but Mrs O’Paws couldn’t find her glasses.
When Mr O’Paws got home from work that evening, he was hungry and he decided to make himself a sandwich He opened the fridge and took out the cheese box but there wasn’t any cheese there. Instead he found Mrs O’Paws’s glasses.
‘I must have put them there by mistake,’ she said, ‘but what have I done with the cheese?’
They looked everywhere but they couldn’t find the cheese.
‘Oh dear, I’d better go to the supermarket tomorrow,’ Mrs O’Paws said.

The next day Mrs O’Paws got up early to go to the supermarket. The supermarket was very big with lots of aisles and lots of different sorts of food.
Mrs O’Paws couldn’t remember what she wanted but she thought tins would be useful. She put in her trolley tins of baked beans, broad beans, green beans, kidney beans, white beans, has beans and a bar of chocolate. All the tins had given Mrs O’Paws an idea.
She started to empty her trolley. She put the tins on the floor next to each other. When she had almost made a circle of tins, she put another layer on top and then another layer and so on until she couldn’t reach any higher. Then she sat in the middle of her tin tower and ate her bar of chocolate.

The supermarket manager was very understanding and sent for Mr O’Paws to come and take her home. Mr O’Paws said sorry to the supermarket manager who said, ‘That’s all right. We get a lot of ladies of a certain age in here.’
Mr O’Paws thought it would be sensible for Mrs O’Paws to go and see Mr Therapy but Mrs O’Paws laughed.
‘I don’t need to see Mr Therapy, ‘she said. ‘I feel much better now I know what to do.’

So if you’re ever in Happy Family Land and you see someone building a tower of tins, you’ll know who it is, won’t you?

George does a Jesus

The last two mornings I haven't set the alarm but let myself wake up when I wake up (as I've been tired). This morning I needed to get on with things so set the alarm and got up early. I shouldn't have bothered.

In half an hour I've: retrieved George once; blocked up the hedge; grabbed George by the tail and pulled him back through the hedge; blocked up the hedge again; tried to persuade him he can't walk on water.

The winter cover is over the swimming pool. Because we've had a bit of rain the cover is sagging in places below the water level. George thinks this looks more tempting than water from his bowl. George is very stupid.

Fortunately the cover bore his weight but paddling on it won't do it any good at all, and is most definitely something To Be Discouraged.

But I do fear you are getting the wrong idea about George. He is a puppy after all. He might be rather large but he's still learning. And he is very lovable and gentle. And, on the plus side, this morning he cried to go out so he could be sick. I think that shows very good manners. I don't know if eating your own vomit is quite such good etiquette but it doesn't seem to have done him any harm.

Now this blog is becoming very george-centric. I will try not to write about him for at least ... oh, five minutes.

George has aspirations

I have come to the conclusion that George secretly thinks he could do better than us as a family. He thinks there must be someone out there who would love him devotedly and adoringly and be his slave. If only he knew: this is as good as it gets.

But working from that premise, I can understand why he has to go and see (inspect) people when we're out or visit neighbour's gardens.

At least we've met the neighbours through his escapades. I was retrieving him this morning from the house next door but four. The owner is American, it turns out, and they have a terrier. 'Once you've had a terrier, you never want another sort of dog. They're so lovable,' he said. 'My father, my sister and all my family have golden retrievers and they're such stoopid dogs. They're hairy and they slobber.'

There wasn't much I could say to that. I suppose I could have pointed out that, while we'd been talking, his terrier, which is about half George's size, kept pinning him down and snarling and snapping. Okay, he was defending his territory but retrievers don't do that. I could have said retrievers are friendly. And lovable.

But it could be that I'll have to apologise some time in the future because George has eaten their rubbish, pooped on their lawn or dug up their plants, so I felt it wise not to cast any nasturtiums. Once cast they can never be conquered.

I'll bide my time until George is perfectly trained.

(Don't you dare laugh! He will be.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ABC Wednesday - N

Nuts are a great garden attraction. First visitor is the Great Tit. Then the long-tailed tit. I love these sweet little birds. They usually come in pairs, and have these little fluffy bodies and long thin tails.
And where there are nuts, there are greedy squirrels!
To join in with ABC Wednesday, visit mrs nesbitt's place

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How to be Top Dog

Eat your meal in front of your dog and before you feed him.

P.S. The facts that you will eat so fast you'll get indigestion, and feel so guilty that you won't know what you're eating anyway, are secondary to the training process.

George, taken by Rob, at Easter

A tail of destruction

We lay the hoover across the bottom of the stairs to deter George from going up the stairs. Look closely at the plug.

I've warned him. When it's gone, it's gone. He's not having a new chair.

Retrieving my retriever

I thought we'd been doing well as George hadn't escaped for four days. I was beginning to think that he'd accepted his lot living with us. He hadn't; he was just biding his time.

When the postman - who is one of George's favourite people - came to the door, this morning leaving the gate open behind him, George belted out BETWEEN the postman's legs.

The postman helped me retrieve my retriever. I stood in front and the postman crept up behind him and grabbed his collar. At the time George was eating someone else's flowers.

Ethical shopping

I am well aware of the benefits to the local economy and the world in general when I shop locally. What isn't mentioned, though, is that, when you return to your car heavily-laden after shopping locally, your arms are 3" longer than when you set off. This does mean you can scratch your feet without bending over, which is a useful attribute to have if you're prone to itchy feet.

What is interesting though is the realisation of how much I'm actually spending on fruit and veg. When I shop in Sainsburys, it's all in together and I have no idea what proportion is attributable to what foodstuffs. But spending on fruit and veg is good ... isn't it?

A day for telling-offs

I was severely reprimanded in work yesterday for making fun of the less fortunate and then, in the woods, a man told me off for letting my dog be attacked by his. (I grabbed George, saying, 'I'm sorry; he's very stupid,' and then as I walked away I thought, 'Wait a minute. Why am I apologising?')

It was one of those days.

Monday, April 21, 2008


One whole year! Do you remember? Elder Son and his bride gave me (and the mother of the bride) an orchid plant. I posted a photo of mine then and was taking bets as to how long it would survive in my company. Well, it's lasted a whole year so far. Admittedly we're down to just one good flower but Husband has been tending it lovingly and we're hopeful that new growth will start shooting soon.

And just because it's a good excuse, here's a photo of the happy couple of their wedding day, one year ago today. Happy anniversary both!

Would you make an award-winning wildlife photographer?

You are in the middle of a river in Russia photographing the salmon. You turn round and see a bear has crept up very close to you. Do you:
a) Scream, fling your camera in the air, turn and begin to splish-splosh run down the river, fall and get eaten?
b) Take a photo of the bear, calmly walk away, and become an award-winning wildlife photographer?

* * * * * * * *

There were some amazing photos in the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum, including some by very articulate and talented young photographers. You have to be very patient, brave, hardy, fit, lucky, stupid (delete as appropriate) to make the grade.

Calzaghe triumphs

We left George in the care of Younger Son for the weekend. Younger Son was planning on staying up to watch Joe Calzaghe fight. I don't know how many friends he had round to watch with him but I hope it was a lot. Either that or he and George got through a fair number of bottles and cans of beer on their own.

And Joe won too. See how I am on first name terms with him? It's a Welsh affectation. We instantly adopt our sporting successes as our best friends. I heard him at a press conference afterwards. He was surprisingly articulate for a boxer. He must not have had all his brain cells knocked out yet.

Weekend in London

We've had a lovely weekend visiting Elder Son and Daughter-in-law, spending Saturday afternoon at the Natural History Museum.

It is amazing that it's free to enter and wander round such an incredible place. I pestered everyone all afternoon: what was the name of that film? You know, the one with the dinosaur? And the little boy. Somebody's stolen our dinosaur? Or something like that.

After bombarding me with silly ideas like Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Monsters Inc, they all insisted they didn't know what I was talking about. It finally came to me: One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing.

Husband is a typical man. He knows all sorts of stupid things, so there am I getting excited and saying, 'Wow, that's amazing! Did you know that blood leaving elephants's ears can be 9 degrees cooler than blood arriving there?' And he says, 'Yes, of course. That's what their ears are for.'

Pah. I also found out that carnivores, like lions, don't see in colour so stripey and spotty animals are well-camouflaged against their background. And I discovered that a full-grown African elephant weighs about 56 times as much as I do. However in the process of discovering that I also found out what I weighed, something I've been trying to avoid for some time. Serious, serious diet starts now.

The most fun to be had in the Natural History Museum, however, is people watching. All these terribly earnest middle-class parents dragging their offspring round, saying things like, 'Look at the size of the tail on that blue whale, Justin. Do you think that helps it be a better swimmer?' And 'Look at how many blood vessels we have in our body, Molly,' when all the children want to do is rush from one interactive exhibit to another, pulling levers, pushing buttons, making noises for the sake of it rather than education. Which was what I was doing mostly too.

There was a very graphic display about human reproduction. I learned a lot. Especially after spending a good few minutes staring at one exhibit before I worked out what it was: a cutaway of a man and woman in coitus. 'Oh! That's what it is! Oh, oh! Is it hot in here or is it me?'
Front of the blue whale skeleton from below.
Then today Elder Son and Daughter-in-law cooked lunch for us. Spinach and ricotta stuffed pasta with spinach, and bruschetta with sun-dried tomato pesto, goats' cheese and serrano ham. And very yummy it was too in spite of Elder Son grumbling that it was a failure because the pasta wouldn't stick together properly! Daughter-in-law also made us a Nigella Boston Mud Pie Cake (I think) that was also very delicious but I forgot to take a photo! You'll just have to take my word for it.
And just for Welshcakes, here's a photo of the bottle of Limoncello that Daughter-in-law brought back from a trip to Milan last year. Alongside their wedding photo - and it's their 1st anniversary tomorrow!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

We're off

I had to check the contents of the first aid boxes in work today, and compare them with the list of recommended items for a small office environment. I couldn't help wondering what sort of small office environment the health & safety people were envisioning when they suggested 4 triangular bandages be included. I thought they were for broken arms. I know Alun and I indulge in a little arm wrestling when the day gets boring but we seldom break more than one arm at a time. (Alun's obviously.)

* * * * * * * * *

We're off to London this evening to visit Elder Son and Daughter-in-law. If you recall last time we went to London the Lord Mayor laid on a special parade and fireworks display as it was nearly my birthday but I don't think he's planned anything this time. To be fair to him, we only decided last weekend that we'd go so it was a bit short notice.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn dies aged 92

Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,

Furnish'd and burnish'd by Aldershot sun,

What strenuous singles we played after tea,

We in the tournament - you against me!

Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,

The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,

With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,

I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,

How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,

The warm-handled racket is back in its press,

But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.

From A Subaltern's Love Song by John Betjeman

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The eroticisation of chavs

My problem - one of them - is that I do things by halves. I half-listen, half-read, half-pay attention. So I never get the full story. But that doesn't stop me passing bits on.

I was spreading my sultana bread with Lite Flora and thinking, 'Oh, the texture just isn't right,' when i half-remembered the article I'd half-read in the Big Issue about trans fats. They're in lots of processed foods and they're not good for you. (People who read intelligent newspapers could probably tell you more.) I'm going to stop buying it.

Then I remembered the story I'd caught half of when I switched on the radio yesterday afternoon. Apparently student and gay night clubs are holding 'Meet a chav*' nights. The intellectuals were calling it the eroticisation of chavs and comparing it with the appeal of Lady Chatterley's lover - a bit of rough. Common working men have better bodies and are better at sex. Allegedly. You just have to get past the shell suit, the bling**, the beer belly and the Stella.

*Chav (n) (slang) - a young person, often without a high level of education, who follows a particular fashion; Chavs usually wear designer labels including the chav favourite 'Burberry', and if they’re girls, very short skirts, large hoop earrings and stilettos. They wear huge fake gold jewellery**, say 'innit' and their thongs are visible over the top of trousers.

Find out your chav rating here.


Over on the wardman wire, there's a post about the new range of stamps being issued by the Royal Mail (is it still called that?). They're very lovely all featuring endangered British insects.

It made me wonder how much longer we will have stamps. When I take a letter or parcel to the post office, the lady (it's nearly always a lady) behind the counter just puts a sticky label on.

I wonder what philatelists think of that.

And who am I?

I am an electrical genius! Any fuses you need changing, just call on me.

I am not, however, Top Dog. And that is the problem. With George anyway.

Shiatsu is an holistic treatment and my session this morning concntrated more on my mind than my body. My practitioner asked how I would define myself. The first thought that came to mind was 'by George'.

It used to be through my children. 'I'm a mother.' Now, although I have walked a clearer path over the last few years, I am still struggling to clarify who I am. I wnat to be defined through my creativity but I'm not sure that I am. Does it matter who I am? Should I be defined as anything other than just me?

Husband doesn't come to church or Zac's or writing courses, so most of the people I mix with don't have the idea of me as Husband's wife. And, now children have grown, no longer Children's mother. So what do others see me as?

Because my mother went out to work to keep me, I was largely raised by my grandmother. I hardly knew my mother when she died when I was 19. Now, 36 years later, my memories of her are really other people's memories.

If I were to wake up dead tomorrow, I wonder how my children would remember me in 10, 20, 40 years. Probably for asking stupid questions like this!

I think I'll stick to changing fuses: it's less complicated than this navel-gazing.

He stuck in his thumb

My gran was a great traditional cook. She made wonderful pastry and pies. She showed me how to make pastry but I still can't make it like hers.
Do you like - can you see - my smiley-faced steak and onion pie? Younger Son said that George did when he stole the last remaining piece.

Wait until dark

I've just come back from the Wednesday Playoffs. Once a month, five amateur writers enter excerpts from plays. These are performed (reading from script) and the audience votes on the two winners to go through to the final.

At the beginning of the evening the compere reminded us that we were voting on quality of script not acting - as everyone is an amateur and some are (much) better than others.

The writing in one of the plays was on a level so much higher than any of the others that I gave it both my votes: there was no comparison. And it wasn't a winner!!! I couldn't believe it. The plays that won were okay but used stereotypes and predictable jokes. Oh, honestly, it really made me mad.

I was thinking that the play wot me and my writing buddy are (supposed to be) writing was a bit carry-on-like, but I think we could be onto a winner with these audiences. If we ever get it written.

* * * * * * * * *

I've come home to a dark upstairs. A fuse went this morning and I emailed Husband because I couldn't remember how to change it. My Outlook is being overly-cautious and sending lots of my mail, including his reply, into the Spam folder. Meaning I forgot about it until I got home now in the dark. And changing the fuse means venturing into the outside shed, standing on a chair and threading fuse wire through little holes. (No, Stu and Winston, we haven't got round to changing our fusebox for a modern one yet - I recall your remarks last time this happened - I must have a good memory - for some things.) So getting ready for bed could be an adventure.

* * * * * * * * *

I shouldn't have given this post that title. I remember the first time I saw the play, Wait Until Dark, in the theatre. It frightened the life out of me. I hope Younger Son comes home soon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I'm from Venus

There was a new girl in Zac's. She'd moved into the area and had come along with a friend. Afterwards we were talking and she asked me where I came from. For some reason I couldn't work out what the question meant.

I suppose I was vaguely thinking, 'Does she mean which church? Or where do I live? Or where was I born? Or Venus?' Whatever, I was staring at her vaguely. Eventually Bas, who was standing next to me, said, 'Swansea!'
'Yes! That's right. I'm from Swansea.'

She must have thought I was a complete pillock.

April showers

Sean introduced me to April last night. She's a rough sleeper, a little dwt of a woman. April was telling us she'd had a bad day for a variety of reasons including the fact that she'd called an ambulance for a young lad she'd found slumped, and she'd ended up spending a long time with him in hospital. It had been that sort of day so when she was walking through the park and a man jumped out of the bushes at her, she was ready. 'I'd had enough. I left him lying there. I couldn't be bothered by that then. I'd had enough.'

With her stature she can only be half my weight and she'd knocked a grown man to the ground. Good for her. He won't be trying that again in a hurry.

Afterwards Sean told me a little of April's incredible story. Most rough sleepers have them. They don't end up on the road for fun.

This morning George ...

has escaped twice;

brought in the mail but I didn't realise until he'd eaten it;

drank water from the toilet.

ABC Wednesday - M

For this week's letter M, I've chosen this photo of mum and me, taken in the 1950s. My mum died 36 years ago. At the time of her death she was employed as secretary to the general manager of the South Wales Transport Company. From the mass of floral tributes sent to her funeral I remember one card.

The flowers were from a woman I'd never met, who worked in the SWT canteen. On her card she'd written, 'Good night, gentle lady, sleep tight.'

To take part in ABC Wednesday, go and visit mrs nesbitt's place.

I can believe it's not butter

I was putting sultana bread in the oven on Sunday evening when Husband came into the kitchen. 'Why are you making cake when I'm away all week?'
'I'm on a diet.'
Husband looked at me strangely. 'And making a cake helps?'
'A girl has to have a little treat.'
Husband rolled his eyes.
But sultana bread is quite low-fat. Until you spread a thick layer of butter on it. Which I don't of course.
Although a little butter is probably better for me than these Lite Diet spreads full of strange ingredients and spellings that I use. But there's the nub. Those two words: a little. I can no more do 'a little' butter than I can do 'a little' cheese. Or 'a little' treat.
But sometimes only a piece of cake will fill the gap. (I am so good at dieting.)
P.S. you know these labels that Blogger lets you assign to your post? What's the point of them? Are they for my benefit or for search engines? Should I fill them in more helpfully?
P.P.S. Now I'm going to have a look at feeds and see if I can work out how to find out if my favourite bloggers have updated their sites. I think it was jmb who told me how to do it but I've forgotten again.
P.P.P.S. I already had a Google Reader set up with some of my favourites! What do you know?!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Good chatting to you!

The lovely Suburbia has presented me with a Good Chat award. Thank you so much!

I have been trying to decide which of the blogs I regularly visit qualify as chatty. I looked for blogs that are updated regulalry, that contain more personal than political or other news, and that entertain me. It was difficult but I've decided to pass the award onto:




and Cherrypie.


He's no oil painting himself

I'm walking down our lane. A workman from a neighbouring house looks at me and says, 'You look knackered.'
I snarl.
'It's that ruddy dog, isn't it?'
'Grugh, eegrgh.'

I have added 'recapture George' to my to-do list. I've done it twice today already.

P.S. The first thing I did when I got back in the house was look in the mirror. I don't think I looked that bad.

Monday, April 14, 2008

I cannot believe the cheek of my dog

I was eating breakfast at the computer; George was sitting on the grass outside the window. I glanced at the computer screen then looked out of the window: George had disappeared. That's okay; we have a large garden he can wander round. But I had one of those gut feelings that all was not well in the house of Hinds. I went outside - in my nightie - and called him. No response. I wandered all round the garden calling. Still no response. I went in the house, upstairs and dragged clothes on over my nightie. Back downstairs I couldn't find my slippers so went outside in my bedsocks.

George was just coming down the footpath by the side of our house. I called him; he ignored me. I called him again; he took off down the lane in front of our house. I chased him. He stopped to sniff some bricks. I crept up on him in true Glasshopper-fashion - and grabbed his collar. He sat down. If you've ever tried to drag a large seated dog you'll know how difficult it is.

I released his collar and started the good cop routine. 'Come on, George, let's go and get you a TREAT.'

Each time I mentioned the word his ears pricked up but he didn't. Then he ran onto the brambly weedy muddy bank opposite. On the other side of this bank is a road that is busy at school-times (which this was) so there was nothing for it but for me, in pale cream bedsocks, to wade in after him. I grabbed his collar and this time I didn't let go until I'd thrust him back in through the gate.

We walked up the steps. George looked at me. Then he looked at the hedge. Then he looked at me again. Then he headed straight to his escape route and burrowed out. I was so amazed at his audacity that I just watched, speechless. But he'd blown it now: he'd revealed his secret and I could block it up again! Ha ha ha.

So he's safe in the garden now. Until the next tunnel.

Guilt and the hot pasty

Popped in to see Auntie Maud on the way home from work today. She's not so good but I'm pleased to say that lady in the next bed is still alive.

On my way I bought a pasty for Younger Son. I'm not entirely sure why but I had a sort of guilty feeling about him. I've come to the conclusion that guilt is fertilised at the same moment as the egg. When the embryo's in the womb, mother feels guilty for not playing it enough classical music and thus damaging its potential, and guilt flourishes from there.

But what I meant to say was that I can't remember the last time I bought myself something as unhealthy as a yummy hot pasty. My diet is fairly good. So the only conclusion I can reach as to why my weight isn't dropping off is not that I eat the wrong foods but that I eat too much of the right foods.

Oh, and Uriah Heep walked in front of me today! Or if it wasn't him then it was another of Dickens's characters.

Real or Delia?

This is definitely my last post tonight!

Just received an email. In it Delia's advice was compared with Real Woman's. My favourite was:

Delia's Way
If you have a problem opening jars, try using latex dish-washing gloves. They give a non-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.

The Real Woman's Way
Why do I have a man?

(With apologies to feminists and strong women.)

Otherwise known as Gandalf

Saw this on The Poor Mouth. Me to a 'T'. I've only got to get within 2 miles of a goblin for my antennae to start twirling and my eyes spinning. And that's just the start of it.

lizhinds --

A person with a sixth sense for detecting the presence of goblins
'How will you be defined in the dictionary?' at

A very Big Issue

This is an abridged extract from an article in the Big Issue (March 31 2008), written by a vendor.

'I had entered one of my bleakest periods ever. A street worker suggested counselling and handed me a leaflet. 'In crisis, in despair? Call Crossways.''

After the man had arranged an appointment he discovered that it was a religious organisation. This didn't worry him; he was just desperate for some help.

'I was ushered into a classroom-sized room where in the corner, by the window, were two chairs facing each other.'

A woman was sitting in one. She invited him to sit in the other and then sat smiling at him for a minute before asking what his problem was.

'When I'd finished, she gave me a treacly smile and said, "Trust me, the only solution to your problem is to accept God into your life." ... she entered what I can only describe as a sermonic trance. She just prayer and prayed, and then prayed.' I'm sure for her, flinging myself off the nearest bridge was not the problem. The problem was that I met Jesus before I jumped.'

He left the room while the woman, oblivious, continued to pray.

How angry does this make me? Very. Angry and sad.

When Jesus met people in need the first thing he did was meet the need, by feeding or healing or whatever was necessary. He demonstrated God's love in the most practical way - before anything else.

I'm writing to the Big Issue. I want to say sorry to the vendor; I want to invite him to Zac's; I want him to experience a better side of church and Christianity. But it's probably too late.

How to avoid Alzheimer's

For goodness sake, is it meant to be a test? If you can spell it, you haven't got it? Anyway I digress, you want to know how to avoid it. (Alzheimer's is a very hard word; how do you spell it? IT.)

Steve stood up in church this morning. He said, 'Everybody stand up.' We obeyed - we're obedient like that in church. (Ha!) Then he said, 'Now stand on one leg, the leg you don't use to kick a football.'
Well, that could have been either leg in my case but I opted to stand on my left leg as I'm right-handed.
'There, nicely balanced?'
'Yes, Steve.'
'Now close your eyes.'
Whoooaaa. Instantly grab back of chair in front rather than person next to me who is falling in the other direction.

It's very strange. Steve compared it to faith. You can be pottering along, with everything going well, and your faith is fine; then you hit a black patch when life starts to fall apart. Suddenly faith seems to disappear. The good news is, in the case of standing on one leg with your eyes closed, that practice makes better. You can probably work out the analogy for yourself. But - and this is what I'm finally getting to - Steve said that, allegedly, standing on one leg (he didn't say if you had to have your eyes closed too but I guess you do) helps your brain in the fight against Alzheimer's.

So altogether now, let's ... what was it he said you had to do?

Good sports

We watched the DVD of Cars on Friday. The first 20 minutes were a bit slow but it improved after that. At the end I said to husband, 'I really cared what happened to those cars!'
Husband said, 'Not only are they cars, they're cartoon cars! You can't care about them.'
'I can.'

Doctor Who was better this week too.

And I've just noticed that Swansea football team have clinched (as they do in football commentator parlance) promotion to the Championship League. This apparently is what the Second Division is now called, with the first being the Premiership. Raking my memory I remember once in my life that the Swans went top of Division 1. That was when there was no higher division and John Toshack was manager and slim. I think they only stayed there for 1 week but it's one of those things that will no doubt be recalled at a time such as this.

And this afternoon Arsenal are playing Manchester United 'to keep their premier league title hopes alive.' It's been a bad fortnight for Arsenal and their fans but from what I recall from reading Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch, that's the way it is if you're an Arsenal supporter.

I think I'm all blurbed out. No, actually, I have an award to pass on and a serious post to write but they'd better wait for a bit. George wants to go walkies.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Don't trust old women

I might have killed someone yesterday. I don't think I did.

Auntie Maud is in hospital. (Actually she's my cousin and her name is Elizabeth but I call her Auntie Maud.) I hate hospitals; I especially hate geriatric wards. (Auntie Maud is 86.)

I was there the same time as Auntie Maud's son and daughter-in-law. They sat on the bed while I sat on the chair next to the bed. So it was me that the lady in the next bed called out to. 'Excuse me, can you pass me my bottle of water?'
'Yes, of course.' I got up and handed her the bottle that was on the far side of her bedside table. Then I sat down again - to be greeted with an urgent whisper from Auntie Maud. 'I don't think she's supposed to drink anything!'
'Oh. Oh dear.'
I stood up again and suggested to the neighbour that I put her bottle back.
'Are you allowed to have it?'
'Should I go and ask the nurse?'
'No, don't tell the nurse! She'll take it off me.'
And during this brief conversation I was trying to wrench the bottle back out of her hand. She had a surprisingly firm grip for an invalid. I sat down again.
'It doesn't say she's not supposed to drink,' I said.
We all sat there and umm-ed and aah-ed for a minute then daughter-in-law Joyce said she'd go and ask the nurse.

Sure enough she returned a few minutes later with the nurse who scolded the lady and took her bottle away. 'You know the doctor said it's very important that you don't drink!'

So you see, I don't think it would have killed her exactly but what if she'd asked me for something else? Something that would have been bad for her? And I'd innocently handed it over?

These old ladies in hospital should have a warning above their beds: Beware Conwomen and Liars!

Ole, ole, ole, Ospreys!

The Ospreys beat Leicester to win the EDF Energy Cup at Twickenham yesterday, 23 - 6. Yay! I have a thing against Leicester, nasty little cheats, so I was even more delighted than I would have been anyway. (Photo: BBC website)

As all else has failed, Leicester's New Zealander, Tuilagi, resorts to schoolboy tactics to try to deter Ospreys's little Shane Williams, described yesterday, as 'probably the most exciting player in the world at the moment'.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Twisted

Ivy tendrils twist and trail their way up the tree.
And a pink root twists itself around other exposed offshoots.

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, go and visit tnchick

Friday, April 11, 2008

In which George is frightened by ducks

Whenever I spot people in the woods, even before George has seen them, I start shouting, 'George, don't jump up! George, don't jump up!' It's more to warn them that it is a possibility rather than in any real hope of my command being obeyed.

George has perfected the art of being simultaneously wet and dirty. Not a lot of dogs can do that.

'Or spell it.'

'Quite right, George.'

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I've got the bleurghs

A few weeks ago I began re-writing my novel. On this blog I recorded the fact that I was sailing along and feeling good about it. After that, life intruded and I didn't pick it up again until this morning. And now I'm feeling bleurghy.

I thought my novel was really good; I thought I'd have no problem finding an agent; I could even see the film. Then it was rejected by at least 15 agents. One was quite interested; two made positive comments about my writing. And I put the manuscript away for over a year.

Looking back on it I can see all sorts of weaknesses. I can understand why it failed. I thought I had the ideas to change it, make it new and better. My enthusiasm was renewed. I cut out great chunks that I loved but that didn't move the story forward.

And now today I'm working half-heartedly on it. Can I really do this again? Before submitting it initially I worked and re-worked it endlessly until I thought it was right. And I was wrong. What's to say I won't be wrong again? My hopes have been rebuilt: can I face them being shattered again? And again?

With each rejection, there's an accompanying dagger in the heart. (That sounds dramatic but, hey, I'm a writer!) I laughed each time I told someone I'd was just waiting for the next rejection slip.

Perhaps I should: start on a completely new novel; look at old stories and try to find a market; stop blogging so much!!

Oh look, it's 10 to 1, lunchtime - I'm not feeling bleurghy: I misinterpreted hunger pangs!

It' so simple

In most churches, if a member of the congregation starts to nod off, his or her neighbour will give the snoozer a surreptitious nudge; on Tuesday, Annie snored loudly throughout the meeting at Zac's.

I've been going to the Tuesday evening Bible studies for about 18 months now. When I was thinking about going, my thoughts went like this: I am a fairly mature Christian; there will be lots of poor desperate people at Zac's; I could provide help and support for them and Sean.

Sometimes we just fool ourselves. I went thinking I could give; I have received far more than I could ever repay.

My faith has re-blossomed. I've fallen in love with God all over again - no, more than ever before.

Don't get me wrong: I'm happy being a part of Linden Church. I love the people and the way of doing things. I love the fact that no-one says you must believe this, you mustn't do that, you must say this. But it's a different sort of 'congregation' with different needs.

At Zac's, it so simple. God loves us. Just as we are.

The joys of modern technology or How I stopped worrying and learned to love the remote

Last week our digibox died. That's the thing that allowed us to watch several free television channels. Oh, and digital television. So we needed a new one and decided to buy one of these super-techy ones that allow you to stop and start live television. Which is still a mystery I haven't been able to come to terms with.

But enough of my inadequacies. Husband works away and spends his evenings in the gym and the bar so was going to be missing The Apprentice. 'Record it for me,' he said.
'Um, yes, okay. I'll try.'
'It's easy. All you've got to is press the Record button.'
'Yes, okay.'

I studied the remote.

Not a Record button in sight.

I found the instruction manual. It said, 'Press the Record button.' I looked at the remote again. There wasn't a Record button.

I went and found Younger Son. 'Have a look at this,' I said, thrusting the remote in front of him. 'Can you see a Record button?'
'Yeah, there.'
'How do you know that's the Record button?!'
'It's red.'

I gave up and went away.

We continued the discussion over dinner. 'Red always means stop,' I said.
'Not on remotes. The Record button is always red.'
'Well, why doesn't it say Record on it?'
'Because everyone knows the red button is for recording.'
'I didn't know! Red always means stop!'
'The square means stop.'
'So does red.'
'Okay, what means Play on the remote?'
'The arrow.'
I could see I was going to lose this argument. My logic was already looking flawed even to me. I gave up.

Bah, humbug.

P.S. I quite often mistype 'that' as 'atht'. Spellchecker asks me if I mean it to be 'at ht'. Why on earth would I want to write at ht? It's not even Welsh.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

George of the jungle

George and I decided to follow a new path in the woods today.
'Ahem, you decided you mean.'
Okay, I decided we'd follow a different path. When he's on an unfamiliar route, fearless George walks just behind my heels.
'It's only fair. You made the decision; you should be the one to fall into heffalump traps.'

So we headed off along the less-trod path. Which was a mistake as it came to a dead end.

Undaunted and armed only with our wits and a machete, we set about following the sun and forging a new trail through the forest. (That's a bit of a fib; we didn't have any wits with us.)

After what seemed like days, we reached a point in the woods that was completely, totally and absolutely unfamiliar. and the sun went behind a cloud. 'We're doomed, George!' I cried.
'Doomed? Doomed? We can't be doomed,' he said. 'I haven't had my lunch.'

He grabbed me by the throat and said, 'Pull yourself together! You can't give up now!'

So we ploughed on ... and got to the path and home in time for lunch and The Archers.
* * * * * * * * *
Someone had a photo of wild strawberries on his blog but I can't remember who it was. I was thinking it was too early for them when I spotted these in the woods today.

Another of the rogue rhododendrons in the woods.

Houdini Hinds

I was just writing my ABC post when there was a knock at the door. A young man was standing there. 'Do you have a white labrador?'
Big sigh. 'Yes.'
'He's down the street.'
Another big sigh.

By the time we got to the top of the steps, George was sitting outside the gate looking the picture of innocence. I don't know what we're going to do with him. I shall have to keep him on a long bit of string.

When we were thinking about getting a puppy we considered a a bitch, partly because they aren't supposed to roam so much. When we saw the puppies all sense left our heads and we chose the most gorgeous.

He will be going back if he isn't careful. There's only so much that gorgeousness can compensate for!

(No, he doesn't believe me either.)

ABC Wednesday - L

You know how people like to buy holiday souvenirs? Well, when we visit places I like to buy souvenir socks. So, for ABC Wednesday, I proudly present Liz's Lucky Leprechaun socks.

To participate in ABC Wednesday, visit mrs nesbitt's place.


'Twas ever thus

You know what it's like. You're expecting a phone call or a delivery and you know the minute you leave the room, the phone will ring. You want to go to the toilet but you keep hanging on, thinking you'll can wait until after the phone call. But eventually you can't wait any longer and you have to go. You've just started when there's a ring-ring, ring-ring. Because you didn't do your pelvic floor exercises properly you can't stop mid-pee so you sit there squeezing it to come out faster, and you're just pulling up your knickers when the ringing stops.

Or you've just got out of the shower dripping wet when there's a knock on the front door. Because you don't want to traumatise the postman you pull on your dressing-gown - on top of the drips - and pull off your shower cap and run downstairs, tripping over the dog barrier as you do so, ending up flinging open the door, while grasping your wrap across you and hopping because you banged your toe. The postman backs away, passes you the parcel and leaves quickly.

Not that that sort of thing ever happens to me, you understand.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

What's a Hin du?

The big story in The Archers at the moment concerns Alan, the vicar, and his Hindu girlfriend, Usha. They've decided to get married and are very surprised to find that their families don't approve.

Alan's first wife died and he and his daughter are very close to his mother-in-law - we never hear about Alan's parents - who helped bring up her grand-daughter. Mabel is a black evangelical Christian, who likes Usha, but cannot approve of Alan marrying a Hindu. She is praying for Usha to convert to Christianity.

Usha's family are cutting her off as they too disapprove. Meanwhile friends of the couple in Ambridge are very happy for them as is Alan's Bishop.

So I've been pondering this for a while and wondering what I think and I'm still not sure.

Some of the friends have been laughing at the fact that Mabel is praying that Usha becomes a Christian, and that is probably the bit that concerns me most.

If you've read this blog more than once or twice you will probably know that I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus. Although there are many things that I am unsure or wishy-washy about, I am sure that Jesus is the only way. And, if Alan, as a Christian, is concerned for Usha's eternal soul, he should be praying for her too.

I have great respect for other religions and people who practise them; most religions seem to me to be based on good moral foundations. And if that is all there were to it then it wouldn't matter which one we followed. However I believe that Christianity is different in a very fundamental way.

In most religions, as far as I understand, it is about people who are searching for something: meaning, fulfilment, in whatever form that takes, be it a higher being, a supreme power, a state of mind. In Christianity it's the other way round. God comes searching for us. He reaches out to us.

He chose to give his son for us so that we don't have to do anything except believe. And sometimes that's the hardest thing.

Now where am I? How did I get here? Not philosophically or physically. I mean how did my train of thought get me to this point and where do I actually want to be? Ah, yes, so do I think an Anglican should marry a Hindu?

One scripture that is sometimes quoted in regard to 'mixed' marriages, is from the second letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians. In it he says, 'Don't be yoked with unbelievers.' Now as I've said before, I'm not that keen on Paul, and I take what he says with a pinch of salt, but I talked to a young lad from church about this and what he thought about non-Christian girlfriends. His opinion was that having a girlfriend who is also a Christian means that they would have more in common with each other. She would understand his motivation, his reasons, his way of life.

A lot of the Bible is about making life easier for us. The ten commandments make good sense. There are guidelines - rather than rules - that are for our benefit.

I'm married to a non-Christian. I became a Christian after marriage although I'd been brought up going to church. I was christened and confirmed in the CoE (or rather Church in Wales). And, yes, I pray, as do others, for Husband to become a Christian. I want him to be in heaven with me! But Christianity isn't just about the after-life; it's about life in its fullness now.

(You see this was why I was reluctant to start this post. I knew it would entail lots of explanations and going from here to there and back again, and I was afraid that you'd get bored before I finished. And I'd keep forgetting where I was.)

Husband and I have very different ideas about most things in life. But if Christianity were about being a nice person, then Husband would be a far better Christian than I am. But it's not. It's about having God in my life. It's about being forgiven, and being loved unconditionally. My faith is an essential part of me, of who I am. It's a part of me that Husband doesn't share. But he supports me in it.

And I suppose that is where I finally get back to Alan and Usha. Ambridge could have a man alone trying to do a job, supporting others, often during the worst times in their lives. Or a man doing that job but being supported himself by a loving helpmate.

Jesus was asked what was the most important commandment. He said, 'Love God and love your neighbour as yourself.' This was what Jesus thought was important. (And very hard to do when many of us don't even love ourselves.) He didn't say, 'Don't marry a Hindu.' In fact, that thought never even crossed his mind. He talked to enemies of the Jews. He went to look for them. He went out of his way to touch the untouchables, reach the unreachable.

So now I know what I think. This post has helped me work it out in my own mind. If you've got this far, well done! If you've understood, please explain it to me!

(I do understand really!)