Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dogs can't climb trees

They can, however, climb 4' high wood and wire mesh fences.
If they're very determined.

Saturday Photohunt - Self

Three bloggers for the price of one. Last October Shirl (centre), Welshcakes (right) and I met up for lunch.

To take part in Photohunt, visit tnchick

Thursday, May 29, 2008

It's already too late for me

In Thrive (circuit training) tonight, I asked Jules, the trainer, if we could do extra bottom pertening exercises. He replied that we already did (long list of exercises) that are good for gluteus maximus.

Oh dear.

Gone to a higher ward

I went to visit Auntie Maud yesterday. Had an 'Euerrch' moment when, walking down the ward, I realised she wasn't in her bed. 'She's died - or gone to a higher ward!' But when I got there her name was still on the bedside cabinet. A gentleman visitor at the next bed said, 'She's gone to hospital, hasn't she?'
'Yes,' the lady in the bed said. 'She could be gone some time.'

I hope she's back by this afternoon.

I'd changed and had just picked up my car keys to go to see Auntie Maud when the phone rang. It was Gina, Auntie Maud's daughter, saying she'd been moved to a different hospital. Her scan results came back this morning and they confirmed that she has lung cancer and that it's spread to her liver. The doctor said they will do what they can to make her comfortable.

I was watching my bottom this morning

It's not that it's particularly huge; it just droops. It rises a good inch and a half when I clench it.

The question is: when did it drop? Did I get up one morning and it just decided enough was enough and it couldn't be bothered with the effort any more? I don't remember a sudden 'flop' as it collapsed wearily in the direction of my knees. Maybe it was never pert.

My tummy's always been lazy; I'm aware of that. Maybe I just never paid attention to my bottom. Maybe it's always dragged along behind me like extra baggage. Maybe the answer is to permanently clench.

The bags under my eyes are especially grey this morning too. When Husband is away - which he is every week - I stay up late and read until even later. This morning George decided he wanted to poop at 6.30. It was a beautiful morning and it was tempting to stay up (yeah, right) - but I made myself go back to bed. Like I told George, 'It's all right for you. You can sleep all morning. I have to get up and blog.'

I can't even blame next door's alarm: they got home at about 9 last night. I think their holiday must have been rained off.

Can you tell I feel very old today? Don't worry: it'll pass.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I need new wellies

Thanks to the holes in my wellies and the puddle outside the back door, my feet were wet before we left the garden on our walk today. Then, over the tip, the path was totally waterlogged. I resigned myself to waddling along in water-filled wellies. By the time we got home my coat, trousers, socks and t-shirt all needed wringing out. The only things that weren't wet were ny bra and pants.

I was hoping to get through till autumn without buying new wellies. It's nearly June, for heaven's sake.

* * * * * * * * *

Younger Son was asking me about the people who go to Zac's on a Tuesday evening. I told him and he said, 'They're the sort of people, if you see them on the street, you try to avoid looking in the eye. Don't you get scared?'
'Good grief, no. I feel perfectly safe.'
I told him I was probably one of the most normal people there. He looked me up and down and said, 'That's bad news.'

You know what it's like when you're talking to someone and you think, 'This person seems fairly stable,' and then, as you continue the conversation, little signs start flashing in your brain and you think, 'hang on a mo ...' When my gran was in hospital many years ago there was a lady in there with whom I would exchange smiles and hellos. It wasn't until I saw her pouring an imaginary cup of tea and talking to an imaginary friend that I realised there was anything unusual about her.

* * * * * * * * *

And that bleeping alarm is still going. I need a sharp shooter.

ABC Wednesday - S

S is for scrapbook, used as home for my cuttings. To join in with ABC Wednesday, visit mrs nesbitt's place.

The Lord moves in mysterious ways

I stole this directly from Nick; he does a Monday funnies post and they provide a cheerful beginning to every week.

Little note

Undoubtedly God moves and heals and does wondrous things; equally undoubtedly in my mind, at some large meetings there can be hype and hysteria built up. We need to be open to God but aware of human interference.

Which sports car are you?

Saw this over at cherie's place.

You're not the fastest, nor the most nimble, but you're cute and you have style. You're not intensely competitive, but when you pass by, everyone turns to look.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stunted development

After the storm of the weekend, the paths in the woods are carpeted with greenery. A few trees have been brought down and this is the best one:It goes across the path and is just the right height and has the right amount of flexibility to make it perfect for 'Ride 'em, cowboy!' Husband and George pretended not to be with me. Not that there was anyone around to see.

This afternoon a stray dog joined us in the woods for a while. He was a boy dog and every time he cocked his leg I said, 'Look, George! See? That's what you're supposed to do.'

Most dogs we meet just growl at George in a 'Clear off, you horrid rumbustious puppy' sort of way so George hasn't had a role model. Husband and Younger Son have refused to demonstrate the principles to him so I fear his development may be stunted. In fact, it probably already is. I am like a pushy parent: Is your baby walking yet? Talking? Cocking his leg?

* * * * * * * * * *

I am going to bed now. We had a brief power cut this afternoon and since then next door's alarm has been going off. They're on holiday so I guess it could be a long night.

Chocolate cafe

Bank Holiday Monday was such a grey day I decided to have a baking spree. Our community cafe is open again this week and I was on duty there today so I made some goodies to take with me. In the photo above, we have chocolate raisin slice and chocolate chip muffins (a la Nigella). I'm not a great fan of chocolate cake but I have to admit those muffins were very nice - and they looked dead professional.
We'd decided previously that we'd try quiche on the menu so I took this asparagus quiche along (or most of it - I only saved a bit for my dinner tomorrow). It sold well, so we'll be offering it on the summer menu - assuming we can get enough volunteers to make it!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Just as I am

These words were written by Brennan Manning, an ex-Franscican monk. He's the author of The Ragamuffin Gospels, and if you ever get the chance to go and hear him, do go. Maureen read these words at the end of the services.

God loves me just as I am and not as I should be.
He loves me beyond worthiness and unworthiness.
He loves me beyond my fidelity and infidelity.
He loves me in the morning sun and the evening rain

Without caution, regret, limit or breaking point.
No matter what I do, He will not stop loving me.
And this is grace.


So, prison

It didn't have a very promising start.

Members of Prison Fellowship attend the first service. They do prison visits and befriending and tend to be older and from the more conservative end of the church family. While we were waiting to be taken over to the chapel one of them was holding forth about the preaching that is done in many churches these days: "It's not based on the word of God. It's far too liberal." Maureen, the RC chaplaincy representative, tried to discuss this with him but he said, "You can argue with me until eternity and I won't change my view one jot." Hmm, right. And I was about to speak, suggesting a more sympathetic view of Judas. A totally unbiblically-based view.

Anyway, apart from a mildly-stuttering Doris Day the first service was fine. Oh, and apart from the fact that the singers on the recordings Alun had downloaded all sang at a slightly slower pace then the prisoners were used to so we all got a bit out of sync. But as Maureen said, "No-one understood what was said on the day of Pentecost either."

At the end Mr Critic shook my hand. I don't know if it were a sign of approval or an 'I'll pray for you, sister,' handshake but I didn't care. One of the young lads, as he left, said, 'Thanks, Miss, that was a great sermon.' Way-hay! That was far more valuable.

The second service of the morning is a RC mass. I asked if I could stay in for it and I was amazed at the silence and the respect with which the young men behaved for what was a simple spoken service. There are things I don't agree with in the RC faith but I was happy to go up at the end for a blessing. I couldn't take the host (bread) not believing that it had become the flesh of Christ but there's no such thing as too many blessings!

Then it was time for the third service and Mo and me again. I'd asked Maureen to read some Bible verses first time round; one of the prison officers asked if he could read some in the third service - that was a first! Also during the mass Maureen had some written prayers that she asked for volunteers to read. I thought this was such a good idea that we included it in the third service too. This time Doris got a serious case of the judders: ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-admiration, but by that stage nothing could bother me. I think I had a mild case of hysteria.

So all in all it was good morning although I dread to think what the chaplain will say about these women running amok and messing up his neat services as soon as his back is turned ...

Oh, yes, and Maureen asked me if I regularly led services at my own church. I laughed and said, 'No'; I didn't add what I was thinking: 'They wouldn't trust me!'

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Saturday Photohunt - Shoes

Spot the difference?
The one on the left is the one George ate.
To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick

I could be gone some time

You may be aware that I'm part of a team that helps in the prison on Sunday mornings. Every 6 weeks we do a presentation. That means that 3 or 4 of us go in and take the whole service, twice. Well we're doing a presentation tomorrow - or rather, I'm doing a presentation tomorrow.

Yip, just me.

I wouldn't mind but I wasn't even down originally as part of tomorrow's team! But thus is the lot of the organiser. Anyway I won't be doing it entirely alone. The two chaplains are away so Maureen, the Roman Catholic lady on the chaplaincy team is the 'facilitator'. That means she would normally let us in and introduce us and let us get on with it, but she's said she'll do any readings or anything I ask her to do.

One minor problem is that we won't have a musician. And my voice would frighten grizzly bears. But Alun solved that for me yesterday by downloading some songs from the internet.

So we'll starting the service accompanying well-known Muslim teacher, Yusuf Islam (once known as Cat Stevens), in Morning has Broken and we'll be ending with a reggae version of How Great Thou Art.

I'm rather glad the chaplain won't be there as Maureen and I will go with the flow and 'wing it', and I suspect the chaplain might be a bit doubtful about that attitude.

But if I don't blog again after tomorrow, you'll know they'll didn't let me out:

Saturday Photohunt - will have to wait for a few minutes

I just uploaded a photo and wrote a post for Photohunters - then discovered I was a week ahead of the theme! So I'll be back in a bit if I can find a photo for Shoes!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The innocence of youth

I went for my mammogram today. When I got back, Younger Son said, 'Where did you say you were going?'
'For a mammogram.'
'What's that?'
'It's when they put your boobies between two metal plates then squish them together until your eyes pop out.'
'Oh. It's not like a strippergram then?'

My mum

When I tried to upload photos into the previous post, it messed up my line spacing - thank you, blogger - so these photos will have their own post.

My mum was in the WAAF during the second world war. She spent some time in Egypt and was a staff sergeant (possibly - my memory is a little wibbly wobbly).

I don't know who the man is in the second photo but he appears in a number of photos in her old album. I'm guessing he is the man with whom she was in love but who was killed. I only know this much because my uncle told me about him. I was just 19 when my mother died and, as she'd had to go out to work to keep me, I was mostly raised by my grandmother. My mum left for work early in the morning and wasn't home until the evening. I hardly knew her.

Today isn't a special day for precious memories: I have very few. It's just a day when I happened to notice the date.

I'm not a poet

It would have been my mum's birthday today. If you've been reading this blog for more than 2 years - maryb is the only person who springs to mind in that category: she was my first then-unknown visitor - you might have seen this poem before. As I say in the post title, I'm not a poet.

Twenty-second of May, 2001
My mother would have been eighty today.
I only realise this sitting listening to a reading.
The poet, a tiny American professor, is speaking
of her mother’s seventieth birthday.
I don’t recall the words.

Earlier the same day my son calls.
His sister has told him to, he says.
She’s worried because I’m sad.

Tangled threads, twisted together.
Meaning and reason
hidden in a knot.

A time to be born, a time to
make sense, in its own season.

I was nineteen, you were fifty one
when you died. I might have been
one for all I remember of you.

After the bubble burst, and blood flowed thick and red
through the crevasses of your mind,
flooding your memories,
you said to me, ‘You’re not Peter, are you?’
But I didn’t know you
long before you forgot my name.

What was your favourite colour? Or flower?
Did you still dream of could-have-beens or
glimpse happiness from the upstairs windows of buses?

You loved to garden, I remember that,
to nurture, to tend. And to party.
Eighty is worth a party. Tonight
we would have celebrated and I’d have
watched you gathering my children around you,
your eyes full of pride and love.
No suggestion of shame or guilt.
Your store of that was spent on me.

If I choose to tread overgrown paths,
or return to blacked-out rooms
will I find out who you were or why I am?
I don’t know,
But for now I’ll do as the professor says.
‘Do something with it,’ she says, ‘you must.’

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Do I look like someone who knows?

I took Alfie Porsche to the garage today to fill him up. When I went in to pay, the lad at the desk said, 'Will you be needing any oil today, madam?'
I looked at him and laughed. 'Like I'm going to know!'
'Okay,' he said. 'Do you have any little red flashing lights?'
'Naah, mine are multi-coloured.'
He gave up then.

* * * * * * * * *

Does anyone else like undressing their Maltesers?

Walking the line

If you've been reading my blog for a time, you'll know that special things happen at Zac's Place but sometimes, just occasionally, other things happen too.

A week ago there'd been some discussion about Judas, and the various ideas expressed helped me to write a Judas monologue that I read at the beginning of last night's meeting. As I was about to start, Terry, who was very drunk and standing just outside the open door, began talking. Sean suggested he come in, sit down and listen, which he did. And he sat quiet as a chapel-goer throughout my reading. At the end he shook me by the hand and said, 'Respect.' (He also said other things that I couldn't decipher.) But then what for me had been a pleasing moment threatened to turn into something much less pleasant.

Now Terry has usually had a drink when he comes and is normally disruptive but amiable. Last night he was very disruptive, not allowing Sean to speak, and aggressive in his language. His behaviour upset several people, some of whom were verging on aggression themselves. The atmosphere was very heavy when Sean stood up, walked over, took Terry by the arm and led him outside for a chat. When Sean came back in, Bas went out to continue chatting to Terry, threatening as he went to 'kick your backside.' (I don't think he did. No, I know he didn't. )

After that the study continued and there were some good exchanges and interesting thoughts put forward, and all was well.

The ethos of Zac's is that everyone is welcome no matter what state they're in, and everyone is treated with the same respect. But along with that goes the unspoken obligation to treat others with the same respect. And that means listening to them, allowing them to speak, and allowing them to listen. It's a very difficult balance to maintain. Last night it got wobbly.

No doubt next week Terry will be back to his usual amiable drunken state and will tell us we're all sinners and that he's been there, done that and got the t-shirt. And Jesus will love us all.

Sean added: By the end of the night Terry and one of those getting rather narked ended up sorting out some work together and then I took them both home in the same vehicle: one to his bedsit, one to his bush. Marvellous!!

The inevitability of it

Did I mention that 8.15 yesterday morning found me out the front with hammer nails and fixing a fence? No? Well, it did. And a good job I made of it too.

That added to all the extra mesh Husband put up at the weekend has turned our garden into a Colditz. For the time being at least. Until George eats another piece of fence or digs his way out under one.

So, I've been feeling quite confident that George is safe in the garden and wasn't leaping up every 2 minutes to check that he was still there. You know what's coming next, don't you?

Some idiot left the gate open.

I wandered down our bit of road looking and shouting to no avail. He'd probably been out for some time so I was getting a little anxious when I noticed workmen at the back of the terrier's house (I think the terrier and his owners are only there at weekends). I waved the lead at them to indicate I was looking for a dog (there was a lot of noise going on) and they signalled me that he was there.
'He's been here for ages,' they said. 'He's fine, just sitting out here with us. He's eaten Martin's yogurt; he's having a good time.'

They thought George was with the electrician, who was working inside; they thought he'd let him out of his car for some fresh air. 'He can stay here,' they said. 'He's quite happy.'

It was tempting ... but I dragged him back home - or to prison, as he calls it.

You wouldn't want to meet me on a dark night

Kick boxing is great fun - and kicking a pad is a great stress reliever - but it's playing 'avoc with me 'ips. Walking's okay, as is kick boxing itself. It's just sitting down that's causing me problems.

ABC Wednesday - R

Two images of Wales for ABC Wednesday this week.
Rhossilli Bay on Gower.Rugby is the national game of Wales and here is the Welsh rugby team for the game against Italy earlier this year. They're part of the triumphant Grand Slam squad. (That means Wales beat England, Ireland, Scotland, France and Italy in the 2008 Six Nations Championship.)
To take part in ABC Wednesday, visit Mrs Nesbitts Place.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm a granduckma!

Remember those ducks on the river in the woods? The ones that frightened George? Well, they've had babies!

On to a better place

Auntie Maud had her MRI scan yesterday. It wasn't as bad as she anticipated but it did wear her out. So much so that today she was in a 'It's time for me to go home' mood. And she didn't mean her little flat.

I should have taken that as a sign and made my excuses and left. Instead we spent my visit reminiscing about all the members of our extended family that have died over the last forty years.

At one point, talking about the lady who'd been in the next bed, Auntie Maud said, 'She's gone to a higher ward.'
'Oh dear,' I said, thinking that, as this was a one storey building, it was a euphemism meaning she'd died.
'Yes, up to Ward 1 as she's going home soon.'
Course that could still mean ...

On my way there the car started slowing down. The harder I pressed the pedal, the slower it went until it stopped completely. My motto in these cases is 'Don't panic! Just because you're potentially stuck in the middle of the road in a car that won't go, is no reason to panic. Switch off and try starting again.'

Which I did and it did. And then I realised I'd had my foot on the brake instead of the accelerator.

Now me and him are going for a walk in the woods where I plan to practise screaming.

Monday, May 19, 2008

George wants to be a paramedic

You bring the broken arm ...
he'll bring the plaster!

How to handle a woman

Husband brought The Times home for me again last week. No naked rugby players this time but an article on Getting More Efficiency out of Women. Originally published in 1943, this guide was intended to help male supervisors of a female workforce. I thought you - especially any male bosses out there - might like to hear a few of the tips.

3. "Husky" girls, those who are a little on the heavy side, are more even-tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.

6. Give the female employee a definite day-long schedule of duties so that she will keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. ... women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but lack initiative in finding work for themselves.

8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.

9. Be tactful when issuing instructions or in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive ... Never ridicule a woman -it breaks her spirit and cuts off her efficiency.

11. Get enough size variety in operators' uniforms. This point can't be stressed too much in keeping women happy.

Question Time

Yesterday morning, as part of the meeting, we had a Question Time. Some of the young teens group had asked some questions and nominated people they wanted to be on the panel to answer them. The panel was introduced as those they saw as being the wise ones of Linden. And I was on the panel!!!!

As I said, when I answered my first question, I am convinced I was chosen simply for comic value.

Afterwards one of the young men from church said to me, 'I can't believe they chose you as a wise one!' He did have a huge grin on his face so I think he was joking. Partly. But then I said the same thing to someone else - I mean I said, 'I don't believe they chose me as a wise one,' - and that someone else said, 'They probably didn't know anyone else's name.'

Eight hours later I thought, 'Hang on, that was a bit cheeky!' It's all very well me saying I'm stupid but I don't expect others to agree with me!

That is the logic of woman. This woman anyway.

To prove my wisdom I'll tell you the first question and my abbreviated answer.

'Did Adam and Eve have belly buttons?'
'No, I don't think they did. They were not of woman born so wouldn't have done. However, if you mean, did the first people have belly buttons, and you're looking at it from an evolutionary viewpoint, then, yes, they would have had belly buttons as they were mammals. Although,' I added, 'I couldn't find a belly button on my dog yesterday. But then I'm not convinced he's entirely normal. So my answer to the question, did Adam and Eve have belly buttons, is no ... or yes.'

Now you understand why they chose me for the panel, don't you?

Friday, May 16, 2008

The ultimate sacrifice

George Bush decided, as a mark of solidarity with the troops, he would give up playing golf. He said, "I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."

Really he was just fed up of getting beaten.

Bleeding Heart

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Spot the anomaly

Is anomaly the right word?

George eats my laundry baskets (plastic and cane); he eats lager cans, yogurt pots and horse poo. I don't call the vet.
George eats margarine; I call the vet.

Their poison department calls me back. They've checked the ingredients and there's nothing poisonous there. Well, that's good to know. Though actually it was the quantity rather than the quality that concerned me. Heaven knows, I like a nice thick layer of fresh butter on crusty bread but I don't dip my finger in and eat it raw, for goodness' sake.

We've just walked in the woods. I was hoping some would be evacuated but only a little appeared as far as I saw.

I did see something almost amazing though. I said to George, 'Look! A little tiny holly branch growing out of this tree. Isn't that amazing?'
George looked. 'No.'
'Yes, it is. It's as if nature grafted it on.'
'It's a holly tree, stoopid!'
'Oh. Well, you're a fine one to call me stupid. I'm not the one who ate a tub of margarine.'
'Nothing stupid about that!'
'Are you going to tell them about the 'monster' in the woods?' George asked.
'The monster who turned out to be a man with an umbrella! Ha ha ha.'
'Oh shut up!'

Outsmarted by the dog. Again.


George just ate nearly 1 kg of olive oil margarine!
I knew I shouldn't have ignored him. I heard him making a noise but thought, 'Nah, there's nothing there he can eat.' I was forgetting this is George I'm talking about.

George and Bungle

Thought for the Day

James has been doing a daily Thought for the Day. Yesterday he quoted George Orwell:

At 50, everyone has the face he [or she] deserves.

I'd like to amend that slightly.

At 50, everyone has the table he [or she] deserves.
I have a solid wooden table. I like nothing better than to have my children (birth and by marriage) gathered around it, eating food I have cooked.

P.S. I just polished it so I think those marks in the middle must be on the camera.

Just one brief mention of cleavage

May I tell you something? (I'll assume the answer is yes.) I have a BSc and an MA. I am standing in the pantry picking dry Frosties out of my cleavage. That's all. It just suddenly struck me. Good grief!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Seriously, ladies ...

I do hope no-one has been deterred by my tales about being fitted for a bra. You really should be if you haven't been. (Just re-read this. What I mean is that you should be fitted not deterred!)

As a devotee of Trinny and Suzannah, I swear by their maxim - and occasionally by George - that a woman's most important possession is her bra. (Did they say that? Or did I make it up? If the latter, put it down to dramatic licence.)

It's a well-known fact that many women are still wearing the wrong size bra, with the most common fault being having a size too big and a cup too small. And, let me tell you, I was that woman - until I saw the light, sister (Can you hear me proclaiming in a loud American voice?) Mah cup did truly runneth over. (Okay, cut the American evangelist.)

Being properly fitted can change your life so go get fitted. Think of it as being like a cervical examination: embarrassing but vital. You can always talk about the weather.

Admittedly if you're on the larger size, most modern fashion isn't designed for you, and men will occasionally talk to your cleavage but that's their problem.

Take pleasure in your body! It's the only one you've got; you might as well make the most of it. As Leslie said in her comment to a previous post: if you've got it, flaunt it!

Two points on a big bosom theme

One advantage of a cleavage is that you always have somewhere to keep a tissue. One disadvantage is perhaps less obvious.
Jules, our circuit trainer, is grooming us to be the perfect fighting creatures he'll need in his army to take over the world. We've got the fighting stance; we're practising ducking and bobbing; our right hooks are powerful; and as for our upper cuts ...

Now, he's progressed to teaching us how to kick box as well. And this is where my problem arises. Gravity, large boobs and kick boxing just don't go together.

ABC Wednesday - Q

Now bear with me as my photo for today's letter needs a little explanation.

I live in Wales and I'm Welsh, so here are some interesting facts about the Welsh alphabet:
a) the initial letter of one of the most common surnames in Wales isn't in the traditional alphabet;

b) it has 28 letters - although some alphabets now count the borrowed letter J (as in garej or Jones), making 29;

c) there are 6 vowels including y;

d) some consonants are two letters e.g. ll, ng, rh, but they only count as one;

e) the alphabet doesn't include K, V, X, Z or Q!

I did some searching on the web and only one site mentioned an alternative for the Q sound, which was cw. I'm not entirely convinced but I decided to go with it ...

Just up Swansea valley you'll find Cwmtawe (valley of the Tawe). If you follow the river down to the sea, you'll come to Abertawe (mouth of the Tawe). Abertawe is the Welsh name for Swansea, hence, here is my photo for ABC - Q: Swansea! (Did you follow that logic?!)

To take part in ABC Wednesday, visit mrs nesbitts place

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

That's mah boy

I asked Younger Son if the lizards could spare him today so he could dog-sit as I knew I'd be at the hairdressers for a long time (making me look gorgeous is seriously time-consuming as well as finance-eating) and I wanted to do some shopping as well. When I got home he'd gone but had left me a note telling me what he'd done. He finished his note with P.S. Your hair looks nice.

I've trained him well.

How to tell a pervert

Walking back through the woods alongside the river I spot a man on the path ahead of me. That is, I spot the top half of a man, a top half that is naked. Because of the windy path and the bushes I can't see if a) he has a dog, or b) he has trousers. My thinking is that if he has a dog then, even if he doesn't have trousers, he is less threatening than if he had neither.

Fortunately he has both.

A new me

I've spent most of the hottest day of the year sitting in the hairdressers, simultaneously trying to stay awake and dissolving into a puddle. Still, I'm gorgeous now!

Especially as I have a new bra too! Yes, I plucked up my courage to visit Madame Foner (my only slightly dramatised account of bra-buying is to be found here); it was a less than usually hands-on affair, and I ended up buying a bathing costume as well ...

And I happened to notice that the lady in the next cubicle was being handed bras size 46G, so that made my 34F seem dainty. Okay, perhaps voluptuous is a better description. Eat your heart out, Jordan. Mine are all natural.

Of course, then, when I'm sitting in the hairdressers I read Vogue and discover that the best thing to do, fashion-wise, when you have large breasts is to 'minimise them'. Apparently M&S sell a very good minimiser bra. And M&S can keep it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Poor George

George was set upon yesterday by those two nasty Jack Russells again. They pinned him down and were biting his mouth and ears and back while he yelped in pain. Vicious little dogs.

* * * * * * * * * *

Younger Son called in for a shower this afternoon. We haven't seen much of him over the last two weeks as he's been lizard-sitting. He has to turn their lights on and off. He's also spider and fish-sitting but that's less of a commitment.

But I'm not the only one

I finally get to work this morning two hours late.

My boss is there. She is involved in fisticuffs with mobile phone operators. When she finishes she is going through the numbers on her phone and discovers she has two Lizes. 'Which one is you?'
'I don't know.'
'Well, what's your mobile number?'
'I don't know.'

We have a little think. Jan says, 'Phone me then I'll have your number.' We have her number because it's written on the wall so I ring that. Nothing happens. We realise neither of us has a signal.

If I get very close to the window I can get a weak signal. Jan says, 'Phone the office and I'll do 1471 to get your number,' but before I can do that, my signal disappears.

We go out into the car park and wander round trying to get a signal. I get one under the tree and dial the office. We rush back upstairs before anyone else can phone and ruin all our good work. By the time we get up there, both of our phones have a signal. We come to the conclusion it must have been a passing aeroplane diverting the waves.

Now the only number I don't have is mine.

Sometimes I am so blonde

With apologies to any blonde friends.

Betty had a flat tyre. Husband pumped it up and I was dispatched to the tyre repair shop this morning. As I'm driving there I start to feel her rolling as she did when I first noticed the tyre was flat. I carry on driving but realise that I am leaning away from the poorly tyre - as if to compensate and relieve the load on it. See what I mean about being blonde?

Anyway first tyre shop doesn't have the right size; in the second tyre shop they say can do it in 30 minutes or so. So I leave Betty there and go to the Post Office to have my passport renewal form checked. I am rejected because my fringe is too long; Husband is rejected because his eyebrows are too high.

I go back to the tyre shop. They haven't started so I settle down to read a trashy mag. Tyre man comes in and say, 'Do you have the bolt?'
He can tell from my face that despite my red-brown hair I am really blonde. 'Come and see,' he says.

The wheel should be held on by 4 bolts; there are only 3 in place. He will not change the wheel because if he sent me out with 3 bolts and I had an accident I could sue him. 'Can you replace the bolt?' I ask already knowing the answer.
'No. You'll need to get one from a VW supplier. But once you've got that it will be a quick job as it's the valve not the tyre that's gone,' he says. 'Listen,' and he wiggles the valve. 'Hear it?'
'Yes,' I lie.

I give up, go home and will leave Betty's repair until next weekend when Husband will be home to sort it out.

Global Day of Prayer

There were probably, I don't know, 300 or so people gathered in the centre of Swansea yesterday as part of the Global Day of Prayer. The initiative started in South Africa a few years ago with one church and now it's estimated that 250 million people from across the world take some part in it. Part of the focus was on praying for the world - hence the flags in the photo - in general and Burma and Zimbabwe in particular.
Later one of the local leaders shared some inspiring stories about what happens when ordinary people pray and then got the crowd to pray for people who were sick or in pain. That's something I have a problem with. Is it my lack of faith that stops things happening or is the lack of results that impedes my faith?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

George is naughty

Last night we went to the theatre to see a production of The Graduate. We were a bit late getting there (because of traffic and not my genetic late programming no matter what anyone says) and had to run but I couldn't. I said, 'I can only run with my right foot.'

I put that down to my peculiarity and didn't think to check but this morning I discovered that George had eaten part of my left sandal strap. My best sandals. Okay, my only comfy sandals that I've had three years and wear all summer, but that's not the point.

Excuse me a minute. 'What?'
George says he thinks he should have his own blog so he can tell his side of the story but I tell him, 'There isn't a "your side of the story"; you're just naughty.'
'I'm a puppy! What do you expect? If you leave your sandals where I can get them, I'll chew on them. But really you should be aware that I'm only doing it because they smell of you and I love you.'
'It's no good looking at me all soppy-eyed and gorgeous! It won't work. No, really, stop it!'

Saturday Photohunt - Anything

A few years ago a ship was grounded in Swansea Bay. Because the tide goes out a very long way, we were able to walk out to the ship but I didn't want to get any closer: it was a bit big and scary! I mean, what stops it from falling over?

I have published this photo before but not in Photohunters and not for a couple of years so I think it will be acceptable.
If you'd like to participate in Photohunters, visit tnchick.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Single and a bookworm?

Then Swansea library is the place for you tonight!

Swansea Central Library has recently moved into its new home in the newly-named Civic Centre (it was County Hall when we had that county council thing briefly before they decided that it was a level of government too much) and amongst the new and exciting events they have organised is a monthly Singles Night.

When you get there you just tell the librarian that you're there to pull and she'll give you a little pink badge to make you easily identifiable to other singles.

It sounds ideal to me. The advantages of a library over a nightclub are:
a) you can see who is there;
b) you can see, without the rose-coloured glasses of alcohol, who is there;
c) you can be assured that they're the sort of people who prefer a cup of cocoa and a night in with a good book to a night on the town;
d) you can narrow it down even more by staying within your own favourite aisles;
e) you can hear and be heard.

And being able to see and hear is a definite plus in my book. (Geddit? My book? Oh well.)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

George thinks he's still a lap dog

Would you like a strawberry?

These were delicious and rounded off my lunch a treat. Sitting in the garden in the warm sunshine eating them, why, it could have been summer! George enjoyed the one I shared with him too. Although before that he'd been quite happy eating a cricket ball. (I wonder: where did a cricket ball come from? None of us play cricket.)

For lunch I made myself a BLT only without the L. And the T was actually sauce so I guess I had a BTS. It was okay but not as nice as the strawberries.

(Interesting. The spellchecker recognises BLT, but not, obviously, BTS.)

(Am I the only person who notices these little quirks? Or, more to the point, mentions them? Maybe I should get a life. Or at least think about it. Thought. Nah, too much bother.)

He knows me well

'I'm bringing The Times home for you,' said Husband when he phoned me last night.
'Don't you want to know why?'
'Yes, of course, I do.'
'It's got a photo of a naked rugby player in it.'

I love my husband.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The aliens have landed

This wasn't here yesterday. But it was here today. Undeniable proof that an alien space craft landed here over-night (they have to travel at night as it's too hot in the day time). They might have come back to pick up the little ET egg that was left here on their last visit. Or maybe they're checking up on its progress ...

ABC Wednesday - P

P is for portent.

Red sky at night, shepherd's delight;
red sky in the morning, sailor's warning.

Okay I know I'm pushing it a bit calling that a red sky ...

To take part in ABC Wednesday, visit mrs nesbitts place

It's Wednesday!

That means it's ABC Day - and I forgot. It's Monday you see; it's confused me. I don't know what day it is. I think the letter is P so I'll have to try and find a P photo later.

Come back soon, y'all!

Or maybe omega

I put some eggs on to boil for my lunch and, while they were cooking, I left two slices of bread sticking out of the toaster ready to be toasted. I left the kitchen and came into the study. Shortly after I heard a noise: George had stolen and was eating one slice of bread.

So much for my plan of eating before and in front of him in order to establish myself as alpha dog. Delta dog is more like.

And, what's more, the bread I'm eating is Kingsmill's new seed bread. Husband likes it but I feel like a parrot!

Explaining myself

On the sidebar I've added a glossary of Welsh - although they may be used elsewhere - terms primarily for Winston. If I use expressions you don't understand, please ask!

A precious moment

If you've read any of my posts about Zac's, you'll know, I hope, that it's a special place. Last night, in that special place, there was a very precious moment.

Glenn and Ros came over from Australia a few years ago. They came to Britain without really knowing why, except that they believed it was the place they were meant to be. When they arrived they heard about Zac's, and they've been here ever since, providing much-needed support for Sean. They're a lovely couple: Ros is open and chatty while Glenn's quieter (on the surface).

Well, last night we were continuing with the study of John's gospel and we'd reached chapter 13. Judy, a rough sleeper, was completely plastered. (See glossary in side bar.) Usually she sleeps but last night she was particularly vocal. She was interrupting every two minutes although, strangely enough, her questions, on the whole, were sensible (-ish). Terry was also there. He's another rough sleeper, who knows a lot about local history (or he knows one bit and tells us often) and current affairs, and likes to share his opinions, including the fact that 'we're all sinners, see.' Fair enough.

One or the other, and Sean can usually cope and we can progress through the study; last night Judy and Terry inadvertently worked together to cause total mayhem. Things weren't helped by Ruby who was sitting next to Judy and alternated between shushing her and having the giggles.

Judy, Terry and Ruby also took it in turns to go outside. It was a very warm evening so some people were saying 'leave the door open' and others wanted it closed. When it was open, the noise of the talking outside added to the disturbance; when it was closed, it only stayed closed until someone came in again.

Like April who came in to walk through the room to go to the toilet. Followed by Joe who went through to the corridor to rummage amongst the secondhand clothes bag for items that would fit him.

None of this bothers me - it just makes me smile - but there are some more fragile souls in the room who can't handle the disruption and get edgy, and Sean is aware of this.

So I think it was just after April had been to the toilet that Glenn got up and headed for the kitchen. Sean carried on trying to answer Judy's question about what humility means.

When Glenn came back he was carrying a bowl of water and some soap. He crossed the room, knelt at Judy's feet and asked if he could wash them for her. He took off her shoes and socks and gently bathed her feet.

Sean didn't have to say anything else about the story of Jesus bathing his disciples' feet that we'd been trying to look at. He just prayed.

Afterwards Glenn said he'd done it partly because he could see that Sean was struggling and that he thought it might shut her up. She was certainly over-awed - but she began singing 'Jesus loves me this I know.'

Judy refused to put her dirty socks back on afterwards (and they weren't any spare ones in the store). She'd been washed; her feet were clean; she wasn't going to besmirch them with soiled garments.

I asked Glenn later if it had been horrid. 'Oh yes,' he shuddered.

I heard someone say, 'Well we didn't get far tonight, did we?' I just smiled. I wanted say, 'Not far? Didn't you see? We got to heaven.'

A live wire

Of an evening Husband sometimes likes to relax on the sofa and listen to some music. He decided this was how he'd spend Bank Holiday Monday evening before having to set off early the following morning, but where there should have been music was a deathly silence.

A little investigation showed this to be down to an eaten-off plug. This raises several questions:
a) How did George get behind the sofa? It's up against the wall and he's quite large now.
b) How did he get behind the sofa without us noticing? He's not allowed in there on his own - unless he went there when younger Son was in charge.
c) Why? This question and George go together like rain and Wales.
d) Most importantly, how did he manage to avoid being electrocuted? The plug was in the socket and, unlike the phone charger, switched on.

At least it answers the question, 'What's this plug from?'

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Book Thief

A book narrated by Death doesn't sound like the most instantly appealing novel but Death, it turns out, is a lovely gentle character whose heart is often touched by sorrow.

The story is set in Nazi Germany, and the book thief of the title is a small girl. The story revolves around her, her foster Mama and Papa, a Jew, her best friend and the Mayor's wife.

It's strange - and totally stupid I know - but I'd never thought of German people having to go into air raid shelters or being bombed and killed, and forced into things they couldn't avoid.

Of course there are some characters in the book who support Hitler but most are just trying to survive.

It's a sad and lovely story. Apart from Death himself my favourite character is the best friend, Rudy, 'a boy with hair the colour of lemons'. He's cheeky and daring, brave and devoted, faithful and loving.

I'd recommend this book.

The best news I've heard this week

I stopped following George around for 5 minutes while I got ready for walkies and when I was putting on my shoes I noticed him walking past the front gate. On the outside.

One-shoe-ed I followed him down the road to the house of the two Scottie dogs. Their mum was in the garden, and it was she who imparted to me the news that made my day.

She said, 'Yesterday he (pointing to the black Scottie) stole a chicken from the next door neighbour's house.' Yay! Someone stole a chicken and it wasn't George!! I'm under no illusions that he wouldn't have, given the opportunity, but in this instance it wasn't him. Hallelujah!

She also said that she frequently has to go out in the mornings, clad in pyjamas and rubber gloves, to clear up the rubbish her dogs have raided from other people's bags. It was music to my ears. I'm not revelling in someone else's misfortune but I did have a smile on my face as I went for a walk.

But the training process has begun. My copy of It's Me or the Dog has arrived and will be, now that I've finished The Book Thief, essential bedtime reading.

I've already flicked through bits. Namely the bit that says, "Get your dog 'done'". The author says that, rather than thinking you're being cruel to your dog, think how much crueler it would be to allow hormonal rushes and urges to assail him when he's allowed no relief. It convinced me.

So George will be going for the snip. But Daughter and Holly Dog will be down in a fortnight and that will mean lots of leaping and bounding for George so probably best not to have stitches then. I'll have to book him in for after that.

When we did get out, we were in the middle of the woods when I went all wibbly wobbly. I put it down to the fact that it was dinnertime and I'd only had fruit for lunch. Trouble was the only edible things I had on me were George's milky biscuits. They began to look more and more tempting.

But then I was distracted imagining there was someone following me. I kept doing that 'spinning round quickly to try and spot them before they hide behind a tree' trick. It's a good job they don't have CCTV in the woods. They would have me marked down as Local Loony and no mistake.

Stomach like iron

We used to have food delivered for Harvey from Kevin, the Oscar man. This afternoon I phoned him to ask him to start calling again.

He said, 'We recommend that you change foods gradually, so that, for about 5 days, you mix what he's having now with our food so that he gets used to it. Occasionally a change of food will affect the dog's stomach.'
I said, 'He's sitting in front of me eating one of those scritchy things that you use in the shower. On the floor are the remains of the lager can he ate. Across the room I can see the remaining half of the chair, the bit he hasn't eaten.'
'So you're saying you don't think a change of food will upset him unduly?'
'What do you think?'

If it's not one,

... it's the other. I wonder what traumatised tadpoles grow into. Mutant revenge-seeking frogs maybe?

P.S. The chair is on the raised flowerbed to stop him digging it up.


One day I'll get it right

On Saturday morning I put my phone on to charge. Sunday evening Husband said, 'Did you switch it on?'
'You have to switch it on?!'
'At the plug, yes.'


George goes for a paddle

I am George's worst nightmare.

Everywhere he goes, I am there.

Usually with my camera.
He will have a shock if he tries to do this when the winter cover is removed.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Not in the same league ...

as Calum's complaint but a grumble about the NHS.

Auntie Maud is in a convalescent hospital now. She is better than she was but the consultant is concerned because her cough isn't going. He fears the pneumonia shadows may be concealing something nasty and wants her to have ... um ... one of those things when you go in a tube. (It's 10.30 and past my bedtime.) She doesn't want to.

Anyway she can't go to the toilet on her own so has to rely on the nurse to bring her a bedpan. On Saturday she asked the nurse at 10.50 am for one. The nurse said, 'hang on, I'll be back now.'
At 1.20pm, Auntie Maud called her again. The nurse snapped, 'I only have one pair of hands.'
Auntie Maud isn't one to be snapped at so she told the nurse what she thought but by then it was too late and she'd wet herself.

To be fair to the nurse there were only two of them on duty, looking after about 18 elderly ladies, but that doesn't excuse rudeness.

Auntie Maud is 88. She deserves respect and, even more importantly, to be allowed to retain her dignity.

As I said, nothing compared to the treatment meted out to Calum's wife, but it is symptomatic of an understaffed institution.

Round-up of my life

I called in to vote on Thursday on my way home from circuit training. It wasn't until I was in the little booth that I realised I didn't have my glasses with me and couldn't see whom I was voting for. (I could make out the logos so I think I voted for the right parties at least.)

Today I'd offered to make lunch for the students and for people getting the church building ready for a wedding tomorrow. I made two huge casserole dishfuls of Moroccan Lamb and was going to take a photo but it all got eaten before I had a chance. I'd also assumed there would be plenty left for Husband and me to have for dinner tonight. Not to worry; I'm very happy with beans on toast.

And there isn't really much more to say except we went out on Saturday to buy some more fencing to try and keep George in the front garden. Husband put it up Saturday afternoon; Sunday morning George escaped around it. Husband fixed up more wire mesh. This afternoon George found a titchy space around the back of the house that he forced himself through. Determined is his middle name.

Suddenly the leaves are bursting out all over. Every year, the suddenness of the change surprises me. And the freshness of the green delights.

Two letters I received:

a) An invitation to test drive an Audi A3 coupe. What makes anyone think I am the sort of person who buys a new fancy car is beyond me. But I must be on someone's list. in the past I've been invited to test drive a Land Rover and a Jaguar (now that was tempting but I figured they'd take one look at me, realise I wasn't the sort of person that bought brand-new Jaguars, and send me away hurriedly before I gave their forecourt a bad reputation).

b) An invitation to a mammogram. Oh goodie.

Oh, yes, and this new post-dated posting thing that Blogger is so proud of. I always change the time so that it's the BST time I'm posting it. If I do that now, then Blogger tries to save it until it's that time where Blogger is (wherever that may be). If you see what I mean. So all my posts will have the wrong time on them. Which may not matter to you but it matters to me in my obsessive way. Has anyone else discovered this quirk?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Happy Birthday, Spam

It was thirty years ago today that the first spam was sent.

Gary Thuerk, an employee of a now-defunct computer company, invited 400 people, living on the west coast of America, to a presentation about new addictions to the company's range.

However, it wasn't until April, 1994, when two immigration lawyers, Canter and Siegel, sent a commercial spam message to more than 6,000 discussion groups, that the floodgates were opened.

Today 80%-85% of all e-mail is spam and more than 100 billion spam messages are sent every day.

P.S. It was 1993 when unsolicited commercial e-mail was given the name of spam by Joel Furr, who allegedly got the name from the famous Monty Python sketch.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Please visit Calum's blog

Please visit Calum's blog. For years he has been fighting for proper and compassionate treatment for his wife from the NHS. In his latest post he records the dreadful way in which she has been treated. Please read what he has to say.

Spot the fib

Ages ago Suburbia tagged me with a meme. I am doing it now instead of the ironing. I will tell husband that is why he has no ironed shirts. Because of Suburbia.

Q. What were you doing 10 years ago?
A. I’m 55. I can’t remember what I did 10 minutes ago let alone 10 years..

Q. Name 5 snacks you enjoy.
A. Chocolate, grapes, bananas, chocolate, frosties.

Q. Things I would do if I were a billionaire
A. Husband could retire and spend all his time working in the garden. I’d have a new paint job on Betty. Buying houses for children goes without saying.

Q. Five jobs that I have had
A. Waitress, computer programmer, pole dancer, administrator, shop assistant.

Q. Three bad habits
A. Biting my nails, procrastinating, laziness.

Q. Five places I have lived
A. Mumbles, Morriston, Shirley, Sketty. That’s all, sorry, and that’s only because I’ve used little place names instead of Swansea and Southampton!

Q. Five people I want to know more about:
A. I think most people have already done this meme but if you haven’t and you feel so inclined, then please do.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Wood for the trees

A few weeks ago towards the end of the meeting in Zac's, Sean spoke about not restricting God, not limiting him. It reminded me of a piece I'd written a few years ago. I re-vamped it and read it the following week. It's about God being everywhere if we look. This is an excerpt from it (or rather two excerpts from the beginning and the end). The rest can be read here.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
I used to keep God in a box. Well, actually it was a tin, a Golden Virginia tobacco tin that my grandfather gave me. I kept the tin on the bookshelf in my bedroom next to Five Get Lost at Sea. Every night before I went to sleep, I’d take down the tin, open it and talk to God.

Then one day, a few weeks ago, I was in a meeting, and listening to someone speaking. Actually I was half listening because I was looking around at the same time. At the other side of the room I could see a man with a beard. He was making coffee for someone who’d just arrived late. Standing next to him was a man with a shaved head and lots of tattoos; I’d seen him deal gently with a drunk. Sitting at one side was a woman. You can see from her face that her life hasn’t been easy but her eyes were shining. Near her was another woman. Her eyes were closed but her skin that only months ago had been furrowed was smooth. Across from them were two lads who, despite having their own troubles, help others in charity shops. And then there was the man whose wife is seriously ill. And the girl whose intelligence and thoughtfulness can stay hidden unless it’s looked for. And the woman who doesn’t often speak but when she does, you want to listen. And the man and his dog who share everything. And the woman who’s come into the warm to sleep. Then I caught the eye of the speaker and he’s grinning as he talks over the snoring.
And suddenly I realised. I’d been looking so hard I couldn’t see.
God was in church, just as real-ly as he is out on the cliffs. And maybe he does smell of coconut or tobacco or mints - or alcohol.


Is that real?

On Tuesday I made a cake to take to Zac's. It had been April's birthday the previous week and her story and her tale of knocking down a would-be mugger really captured my imagination so I thought I'd take her a belated birthday cake.

While she's at Zac's for breakfast every day she'd only just started coming to the Bible study so I knew she might not be there. She wasn't.

Sean said not to worry as it was Ruby's birthday that day and, if she came, it could be her cake. She didn't come.

We ate the cake anyway.

And it was interesting. I overheard two comments.

Steve said it was the first time he'd had fresh cream since the night before his bypass operation. Hm, slightly worrying.

And someone else said they only had fresh cream at Christmas. Just a tiny thing but I think it demonstrates the enormous gulf there could be between some of us. But I don't think there is; I hope there's not.