Saturday, January 31, 2009

Drama, chocolate and God

A ten-minute excerpt of my play is being included in February's Play-offs at the Dylan Thomas Centre. That's on the 11th, which is a week next Wednesday. Last night I went along to a rehearsal. (Which is held in Zac's as the drama group hire the hall there - the relevance will be important later in my story.)

Half of the cast weren't there and the man who's agreed to direct it had to go halfway through the evening, so ... my play didn't get rehearsed. Which undid the good done by the Wispa bar earlier. I had to have a bowl of Frosties when I got home. I shall simply discount yesterday on my mini-skirt diet.

One of the actors/group leaders - let's call him Man A - is hoping to be able to get the cast together for an extra (extra?) rehearsal before the final one next Friday.

Take a deep breath, Lizzie. Don't think about chocolate.

Anyway when Man A was talking to me, Man B came up and muttered something to him, to which Man A made a comment along the lines of, 'It's all extra Brownie points on the road to heaven.'
To which Man B replied, 'I'll still never get enough.'

Now usually I would have just smiled and left it at that. I was with people I hardly knew and well out of my comfort zone in all sorts of ways, but I was in Zac's, which I realise has become my 'spiritual home'. My mouth opened and out came the words, 'You don't need brownie points; heaven is free.'

This led to a brief conversation between Man B and me resulting in Man B saying, 'I did 3 tours of duty in Northern Ireland. I saw religion in action.'

At that point someone came and interrupted and needed Man B so I said goodnight and left. As I was walking to the car I was kicking myself, saying, 'You should have said that religion has nothing to do with God.'

Which isn't true in the strictest sense but religion is man-made; God is outside religion. There was nothing religious about Jesus mixing with thieves and prostitutes. there was nothing religious about Jesus washing his disciples' feet. There was definitely nothing religious about Jesus being whipped and crucified.

And there's nothing religious about God and me. And I thank God for that.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Saturday Photohunt - Furry

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, go to tnchick's blog.

Then I got home

I had a good day at work. Then I got home. And the world rained on my parade.

Husband wasn't there but he had left me a note and that note along with 3 - no, 4 - emails drove me to chocolate. Seriously it was that or violence.

I don't think I'm a grumpy sort of person - though Husband may argue with that - and I usually take things as they come, but when they come in 5s, it's not on.

So I bought myself a Wispa bar. And I've just eaten it. Yum yum. And well timed too as Husband has just come in ...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Awards Gala

I'm delighted to say that suburbia considers me a blogging friend.

From Joy of Joy of Six I had The Van Gogh's Ear Award, which was created by Roger of Idaho Photo.

The point of this award
"We are all artists in our own way be it art, photography, writing, philosophy, comedy, blogging and we all go a little crazy sometimes. But if you ever feel so crazy to cut off your ear and give it to a prostitute 'Seek Help'!"

This Wild Woman award came to from Hippy Mama. I think it's self-explanatory.

And I'm still trying to find time to work out to whom I should hand them on. I take these things seriously you know.

George is a slow learner

He got bitten again today. By a small white dog. It's his own fault. Most dogs quickly learn that bared teeth and a snarl mean 'get out of my face!' George gets bitten, yelps and hides under a bush for a few moments before he thinks, 'Aw, you didn't really mean to bite me, I know; you want to play really. Come on, let's play!'

He got me up at 3 this morning too. But it was sort of my fault. No, really, it was Younger Son's fault.

Younger Son had left some indigestion tablets in his trouser pocket. I didn't notice until I'd washed the trousers and found the strip in the washing machine. I removed it and left it on the work surface. I should have thrown it away straightaway. Or at least before George could go on a surface-clearing mission. I'm a slow learner too.

In the past I'd have phoned the vet to make sure he'd be all right; now I just sigh.

The sum of the squaws on the other two sides

I saw this over at dr stu's blog. I'm with Billy on this one definitely.

{Incidentally dr stu was saying that his daily visitor stats had gone down recently by about 100. If mine did that, I'd be in negative figures. }

But what I was going to say was about maths. Dr stu writes a lot about maths; I don't. I have maths A-level but most days I find it hard to add 7 and 9. In fact i find it hard to add 7 to anything. It's a strange sort of number.

Husband is wont to say, 'Kids today have got it easy with their computers. I had to work everything out with a slide rule.'

I'm only a little bit younger than him but even I didn't have a slide rule. (But perhaps that was for a different subject.) I did, however, have a log book. (I googled that to find an image but had to search again for logarithm book.)

I do not and did not not have the slightest idea what sines or cosines are. I used them in maths (geometry maybe?) but I was following instructions. Do this and you get that. What I got I have no idea. As Billy says in his video, who on earth uses algebra after they leave school? Of course I need to add up and take away, multiply and divide, but I've never reached a point in my day to life where I have to work out the square root of 15a + 3b cubed.

Latin would be more use.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's for dinner, mum?

When Younger Son comes downstairs soon and asks me, as he inevitably will, 'What's for dinner?' I'll be able to reply confidently, 'An adventure!' Which won't be the answer he'll be expecting.

I've donned my thickest parka and delved deep into the farthest recesses of the freezer and pulled out a package, that, even as I write, is being defrosted. That's what we're having for dinner. Or one of us is depending on what it is and how much there is.

I really should label these little packages but there aren't actually that many of them. This was the only one that appeared to be already cooked although there were a few mystery meat bundles. Left-overs aren't for long in this house and I'm not organised enough to cook in bulk.

It'll be exciting. I'll tell him that. He'll be convinced I know he will.

We haven't had a photo of George for a long time

We saw the postman this morning for the first time since Christmas. He thanked George for his Christmas card. He said, 'I've thrown most of them away but I kept the one from my wife, the one from my daughter and the one from George.'

Georgitis must be infectious.

George likes to keep an eye on what's going on outside. His head is just the right height to be able to rest it on the window-sill.

It was a very good night

I'd made the chocolate cake to take to Zac's last night. Younger Son said, 'They sleep on the street; they'll be grateful for any cake.'
'You must be joking,' I said. 'They're fussy so'n'sos and if it's no good they'll tell me so.'

I watched anxiously as Jim took a mouthful. He munched it slowly then turned to me. 'You make this?'
I nodded.
He gave me the thumbs-up. Phew.

It was a really good night in lots of ways. We've been looking at Paul's letter to the Corinthians for some months now. Sean's been explaining lots of the background and we've been reading The Message (a modern translation). I'm not always that keen on The Message but last night's chapter was very well done. At the end I said, 'I'm almost coming round to thinking that Paul is okay after all.'
Sean said, 'You're starting to like him?'
'I wouldn't go that far!'

Jim had brought his girlfriend along for the first time. They came and sat on the bench next to me and Jim introduced us. You could see he was well-chuffed to have a lady on his arm, and she seemed really nice - and concerned for him too.

Then at the end I was talking to - or rather I was listening to - two others discussing their situations. Both had been in prison but one, while there, had made a decision that his life was crap - he'd gone from children's homes to borstal to prison - and had cried out to God, not knowing if he even existed. God had answered his prayer and he'd turned his life around. He'd given up drink, drugs and cigarettes and he's been clean for the last fifteen years. (I have to admit he still looks quite scary - or would do, I imagine, if you didn't know him - but he has a gentle face - if you look closely - and a heart for others.)

The other is still on the drugs, the drink and the cigarettes and he's recently split with his girlfriend and has nowhere. He's seeing drug people this week and is hoping to get into rehab, maybe next week. He's a smart guy and knows where his life is headed but, I don't know, I felt that he's not quite ready, he's not desperate enough for the change. That's not fair: I don't know him well enough and I shouldn't judge him. I really hope and pray that he gets into rehab and that he can stick with it. He is a lovely guy; I really like him. Please God help him.

I feel so incredibly honoured to be part of the community at Zac's and to be accepted and trusted so that people will talk to me. I am completely different from them; I have more materially than all of them and I have no real idea of that life. They could so easily ignore me or view me as a conscience-cleaning do-gooder, which maybe is what I am, but I am absolutely blessed by them.

Yes, it was a very good night.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

ABC Wednesday - B

From Webster's Dictionary (probably from 1864).

In the inlets around Tofino, Vancouver Island, at low tide the bears on the isles come down to the seashore to look under rocks for crabs.

Meanwhile, in British Columbia, one bear is happy to graze in a field!

To take part in ABC Wednesday, go here.


I'm not talking to George

I got up at 5 this morning to go to the toilet.
At 6 I was woken by Husband getting up and going.
At 7 George started barking to go out.

Tonight I was going to have baked potato for dinner. I went to the kitchen and discovered George had eaten both baking potatoes from the pantry. (And was tucking into a carrot.)

I told him, 'I am so not speaking to you.'

The wonder of cream

Send chocolate

I was doing some research for something or other - I start off finding out about one thing, get distracted and follow another trail, and end up with loads of useless trivia - when I found a list of 'Symptoms of malnutrition'. It was very long - there must have been at least 50 points - and I have every one of them. So that's my problem then: dieting isn't good for me. I need chocolate.

Good grief!

I've made the flattest chocolate cake in the world!

I was trying out a new recipe and - wait for it - I'm supposed to slice each piece in half to make a 4-layered cake. I think I will have to settle for cutting them in half the other way and having a reasonably tall semi-circular cake.

This will call for some creativity.

* * * * * * * *

A few people have been very kind and given me awards. Thank you, and I haven't forgotten about them; I just haven't got round to thinking about the next recipients.

George and God again

When we were starting on our walk this morning I had to remind George to be God-like. 'Don't walk ahead of me; don't walk behind me; walk next to me.' Although that analogy doesn't really work as God does sometimes go ahead to prepare the way and he often has to follow me, picking up the pieces. But I didn't want to confuse George. He was going to be confused enough very shortly.

We arrived at the adventure playground and George went into 'Icanseeamanthatmeansadogimgoingtoplaywithhim' mode and belted off. I could see a man but, as George soon discovered, no dog. George was left sitting on the path looking bemused. I could hear his brain working.
'man - rain - woods - dog - no dog - NO DOG?! - no dog? - ummm - oh - stick - eat.'

George reverts to a very basic thought process when we start out on our walk. It's not until he's well into it that he can consider Descartes or Nietzsche. Or even Mair.

Trying to make rugby attractive

From the BBC website.
England player Paul Sackey is one of several rugby players taking part in a new advertising campaign.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Our first snowdrop

Monochrome Monday

To take part in Monochrome Monday, visit aileni.

It's a green day

Last Thursday, on our walk, George and I couldn't resist peering into various green bags left out for recycling collection. I have to report a depressingly high number of Daily Mail readers in our locality. I should also add that no-one else had quite as many bottles as we did.

Two or three houses did, however, have bags entirely filled with shredded paper. Who on earth is paranoid enough to shred all their paper? Or should that be guilty enough??!

I've had a very satisfying morning in work clearing out stuff. While I am a terrible hoarder at home I have no compunction about throwing out stuff at work.

Now I was going to put George in the car and go round the cliffs but I think we'll head for the tip instead. And take Mair with us.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

When a win isn't enough

So the Ospreys beat Leicester 15 - 9 but had to wait until this afternoon to see how other teams did before they knew they'd got a place in the quarter-finals of the European (Heineken) Cup as one of the top runners-up.

It was a dowdy game. That's the word that sprang to mind thinking about it. Leicester took to the field with the sole ambition of losing by not too many points, and took every opportunity to slow down or break the flow of the play. It was a bruising game, no doubt, but the little men in track-suits ran on to the field every time play stopped for a second. All the points came from penalties and neither side came really close to try-scoring.

It's really frustrating: the Ospreys make up most of the Welsh team - the team that won the Grand Slam last year - and yet they've never seemed to reach their potential as a regional side. On paper they should be amongst the top; in reality as we saw this weekend, they're in to the top 8 because of what others have or haven't done.

Now, serious matters, anyone got a spare ticket or two to the Wales v England game on 14th February?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Just another Saturday in Wales

Remember my splinter? Jay suggested using magnesium sulphate on it - and it worked! Thanks, Jay. It's like magic. I put the paste on a couple of times and it's drawn the splinter to just below the skin so I can see it. It's like a sort of magic sucky stuff. I wonder if black holes are made of magnesium sulphate. All I have to do now is stick a needle in to break the skin and get it out ...

As I write this George is outside eating sprout leaves. They're all that remains from the rubbish he set free from a black bag and was happily tucking into when I found him earlier in the week. I cleared most of it up but figured sprout leaves and carrot peelings would make good compost. Looks like they won't last that long.

We have a new door mat outside our front door. George doesn't like it. He jumps over it. Or tries to eat it if I'm not watching. Another reason for him to be phobic about going out the front.

In about half an hour we're off to watch the Ospreys play Leicester at the Liberty Stadium. It's a crucial game with a place in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup at stake. The Ospreys have to win by a clear 8 points to be sure of getting through. Judging by recent performances there's more chance of George turning down a snack. Ah well.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Saturday Photohunt - Chipped

Chipped off the old block.

'A chip of (sic) the old block' was first used in the seventeenth century and is applied especially to a son who resembles his father in appearance or character. (As in a small piece of wood chipped from a larger block has the same characteristics.)

Husband resembles his father in character very much. He'll argue his point and, if in doubt, make up facts. And he's a great dad.

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

All about Mair

Since you asked - well, you didn't but I know you want to know really - I'll tell you about Mair. I mentioned in a previous post that she'd come for a walk with George and me. In fact, when George and I go out, she nearly always comes with us these days.

Mair's about 20 and she comes from a small town in the Welsh valleys where she lives with her parents and her brother, Barry. She's currently unemployed. Although she's not the brightest star in the firmament, she has a kind heart.

She likes to wear either her denim mini-skirt or white jogging trousers with a shiny stripe up the side. Unless she's in Cardiff dressed up for a night on the town she only has a couple of gold chains round her neck. And if this was one of those forms when you have to list identifying marks, I'd say she has a winged heart tattoo on her left boob; you can just see it above her favourite black strappy t-shirt.

And yes, as you'll have guessed, Mair is a figment of my imagination.

On Saturday, 7th February, there's a talent evening in Linden. It's a fund-raising concert type thing featuring the best talent that Linden has to offer. And me.

I'm going to be 'performing' a monologue in the character of Mair. Normally I just read my monologues; I've only performed once before and that was in front of people I didn't know (after which I was asked if I'd be interested in doing an after-dinner performance at a rugby club; I said yes but they never got back to me ...) so doing it in front of all the people I work with and know from church is going to be a bit different. And stressful.

So that's why Mair comes for a walk with us: I have to learn my words. Fortunately there aren't many people on the tip as I march along, spouting forth. Just George. And he's heard it so many times he's lost interest.

And now I'm on a nearly-really serious diet to make sure I can fit into that mini-skirt on the night.

Tuesday's walk on the tip

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Handy Hint No. 42

If you're going out and your shirt needs pressing but you don't have time to get the ironing board out, hair straighteners work just as well.

Of course you can't do large areas with them but if you're only worried about the front of your shirt, the bit that people will see, they're perfect.

Oooh, I think I'll send this to a woman's magazine: there must be lots that give you money in exchange for handy hints. But which magazine? Not The Lady obviously as people who read The Lady have servants to do their ironing. No, it'll have to be one of the 'I married my husband then I married his son' ones.

In which I have an industrial injury

On Monday in work I was making tea for Janet, Alun and me when I knocked the lid off the sugar pot. It shattered and shards of china flew all over the work surface. I mopped it up and then ran my fingers over to make sure it was free of bits. Ouch! I found a splinter and removed it straightaway but another tiny and malicious one must have buried itself deep into my thumb. And it's very tender!

I might have to have my thumb removed.

I still can't see the splinter, just a red slightly swollen blob. I was talking to Elder Son on MSN this morning and telling him about my invisible splinter. He said, 'Do you know the vague area?'
I said, - wait for it - 'No, is it in London?'

I nearly fell off my chair laughing! I told my joke to George but he didn't think it was funny. But then he doesn't grasp the concept of places having areas within them.

But that was just a by the way; what I was going to say was: do you think I could sue? I only had the sugar bowl out to put sugar in Alun's tea and he is the health & safety officer so I think there must be blame there somewhere.

After all, it couldn't possibly be my fault.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

ABC Wednesday - A

So a new round of ABC Wednesday starts today (or strictly speaking, tomorrow). I decided I'd have a theme again and never being one to choose the easy option my new theme is quite complicated.

A few posts ago I wrote about dictionaries (which reminds me: Chambers never did reply to my email) and it reminded me of the old dictionaries that have sat on our bottom shelf for ever.

When I was a little girl, my mum was private secretary to the general manager of what was then South Wales Transport. One day she brought home from work, having been given them by someone who was clearing out, a pair of dictionaries. Webster's International Dictionaries, volumes I and II (although, unfortunately not Morocco-bound).

Today I tried to find out how old they are. The first couple of pages are missing but there is an 'Editor's Preface to the Edition of 1864' at the front so I would assume they could be about 140 years old. The pages are littered with lots of wonderful little illustrations, so I've decided to feature an illustration for the each week's letter followed by a relevant photo.

This first week, for the letter A, I've selected Aggregate.

(I did auto-correct on the dictionary photo to make it clearer and it's changed the colour of the page, which is really very yellow and aged.)

To join in with ABC Wednesday Round 4, go here.


Nag Champa's question

Under 'George's progress', Nag Champa asked a question that I realised I hadn't answered. She/he asked about bringing a dog into a cat household.

When we moved into this house it was already owned by a cat. The previous owners were concerned that he'd get lost in a new area. Toby'd been a rescue cat and was quite set in his ways, so we agreed to keep him rather than let him be subjected to upheaval. We told friends we were buying a very expensive cat who had his own house.

When, a few years afterwards, Harvey, the golden retriever, joined our family as a puppy, Toby took one look at him and snarled. That set the tone for their relationship.

Harvey would try to play with Toby; Toby would hiss and lash out. Harvey would bark at Toby, begging him to join in the fun; Toby would look disdainful.

At the time we had a large floor boiler in the kitchen and Toby took to sleeping on top of it, putting him at an ideal height to take crafty whacks at Harvey as he passed. Harvey soon learned his place in the pecking order and it was below Toby (but just above me). Toby was very much the boss. Harvey even had to give up most of his blanket if Toby wanted to sleep there!

Daughter, on the other hand, has a cat called Charlie. Charlie is quite a feisty girl but when Holly, the springador, went to live with them, Charlie moved upstairs. If she happens to bump into Holly at the bottom of the stairs she hisses but I don't think she's frightened. It's more her natural miserable attitude! (Daughter will be mad at me for saying that but Charlie isn't the coochiest of cats!)

So, finally, in answer to Nag Champa, I guess it depends on the cat, but I think that a cat and dog will adapt to living together one way or another, especially if the dog is introduced as a puppy rather than a fully-grown Rottweiler with cat issues.

I'm so organised

Saturday was the birthday of one of Husband's nephews, followed yesterday by the birthday of another one. Early last week I bought cards and wrote them so I wouldn't forget. On Sunday Husband asked me if I'd remembered.
'Yes,' I said, 'of course I did.'

What I didn't mention was that I couldn't remember posting them.

I've just found them on my desk underneath a pile of books.

Monday, January 19, 2009


For those not familiar with the term, chav is a fairly derogatory name given to a particular sort of person. If I were to say that I'm a hippy, you'd have a picture in your mind of what sort of clothes I'd wear and what my attitudes would be. And so it is with chavs. Only no-one wants to be called a chav.

Yesterday in church I asked Rachel if I could try on her boots and if I could borrow them for a couple of hours one evening. I said, 'I want to dress up like a chav.'

Even as the words were slipping over my tongue I was curling, embryo-like, into 'oh no not again!' mode.

'Okay, well, I won't take that as an insult,' Rachel replied hesitantly.

What I should have done then was to explain not run away. I'm good at thinking - afterwards - what I should have done.

I hope she'll still lend me her boots ...

How are you feeling today?

According to misery experts ('And what do you want to be when you grow up, little boy?' 'I want to be a misery expert.') today, January 19th, is the most depressing day of the year (or according to the Daily Mail, the most depressing day in history).

Well, I'm fine - or at least I think I am. I'd better check out the reasons why I should be depressed. They are:
Lousy weather - it's fine here.
Post-Christmas debt - no more than last Christmas.
Failed New Year's resolutions - didn't make any.
Time elapsed since Christmas festivities - huh?
Motivation levels - I'm raring to go.
The need for something to look forward to - what's wrong with 2009?

And I'm still fine. But if you're in London and depressed you can go and see a free comedy show put on by the Optimists' Society.

Oh, whoops, sorry to depress you Londoners further, but you've missed it: the show was at 1 pm. (The number for the Samaritans is 08457 90 90 90.)

I can understand feeling particularly down in January - I've been there myself - but to pick on one poor little day and give it such a title; does this sound like a self-fulfilling prophecy to you? (Is that what I mean? Yes, it is.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to be silent in Irish

The lady who was speaking in church this morning showed a short Tearfund DVD at the end of her talky bit. You know you have a menu page on DVDs? Well, this one gave the following options.

With voice-over
Without voice-over
With voice-over (Ireland)
Without voice-over (Ireland)

It's very hard to concentrate on what is being said in a film when all you can think of is what it would sound like with an Oirish voice-over. Or, even more peculiarly, whether 'without voice-over (Ireland)' sounds any different from 'without voice-over.'

Friday, January 16, 2009

Saturday Photohunt - Hat(s)

From the sublime ... to the cor blimey!

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

George's progress

We're emerged from the Slough of Despond although we still have our paws in the City of Destruction.

Our doggy therapist, Clare, and many of you, recommended a Kong (pictured left). It's a dog toy with a useful purpose.

One of George's problems is that he gets bored. His ancestors and even his parents were working dogs and because he doesn't have that stimulus he needs other distractions. The Kong helps provide this by exercising his brain. The idea is to stuff treats into it and he has to work out how to get them out.

Yesterday I put a snack bone at the bottom and wedged it in with some bread. I did another layer the same and gave it to George who disappeared into the garden to enjoy his treat.

A little while later he came back in. He dropped the Kong at my feet and woofed at me. I picked it up and peered inside. He'd managed to get the first layer out but was stuck on the next piece of bread. I gave it back to him. 'You've got to work out how to get it.'
He tossed it around a bit and then dropped it on my foot again. 'Woof. woof, I can't do it! Don't be mean! Help me! Pleaaase.'
'No, you've got to do it yourself.'
This happened a few more times before he picked it up and went to the kitchen. I could feel the sense of injustice rising from his very soul.

P.S. He managed in the end.

I didn't take my camera!

I nearly always take my camera with me on walks but today was a boringly grey day, and, as my pockets are always bulging with doggy bags, treats, hats, gloves, tissues and keys, I decided I wouldn't today. After all you've seen lots of photos from our cliff walks.

However the day that was boring in our back-garden was full of energy round the cliffs. The tide was high and there was a big swell so when the waves crashed against the rocks the spray rose high as the cliff path in places. And on our way back the clouds parted to allow a circle of yellow morning light to break through and illuminate the white horses out at sea.

So that's what you missed because I forgot my camera.

I much prefer the cliffs in the rain. No, not prefer exactly. It's just different. Wilder, exhilarating and, best of all, no miserable Sunday walkers. Just me and George ... and Mair. Who's Mair do I hear you say? She's someone I'll introduce you to in another post.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Totally unforeseen

I checked on Chambers website and I'm pleased to say that it does have a definition for foreseeable. However my dictionary is only 15 years old and I'm sure foresee has been around longer than that, so I've emailed Chambers. I will tell you what they reply.

In the meantime, I spotted these wonderful words in their sidebar:
abibliophobia noun the fear or anxiety that one will run out of things to read
epeoloatry noun the worship of words
hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia noun a fear of long words

P.S. My dictionary does have unforeseeable.

It wasn't foreseeable ...

that foreseeable wouldn't be in the Chambers Dictionary.

How very odd.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

ABC Wednesday - Z

After the perfection (!) of last week another contrived entry this week for ABC Wednesday as we reach the final letter, Z, of Round 3.
It's been a challenge finding Beatles' songs for each letter of the alphabet, but a much greater challenge finding a photo to ilustrate them. Not unexpectedly, there isn't a song title beginning with Z so I've chosen to go down the Zzzzz - as in sleepy-head - road.
Often when I sleep I dream and that leads me nicely into this week's photo. I'm snooZing on Middle Beach, Tofino, on Vancouver Island and, Like Dreamers Do, I'm dreaming of ... who else?Like Dreamers Do was written by Paul McCartney in 1957. The Beatles sang it at their unsuccessful Decca audition in 1962 and a cover version of it, recorded by The Applejacks, reached number 20 in the UK singles chart. It was later included on a Beatles Anthology and was attributed to Lennon and McCartney.
To participate in ABC Wednesday, go here.


Surely a summer-blooming climbing rose shouldn't be flowering in January?

I can resist anything ...

except temptation. (Oscar Wilde - Lady Windermere's Fan)

The problem with writing articles for baking websites is the temptation to bake.xx

More medication, please

Over at the Depp Effect, Jay has a post about her collection of mugs, inspiring me to show you my current favourite.I bought it in a wonderful little shop in Victoria on Vancouver Island. More medication anyone?
Do you have a favourite mug?

Monday, January 12, 2009


Gladys has just been to the hairdresser. She is proud of her hair. ‘It was so long I could sit on it when I was a girl,’ she says. She feels sorry for her sister Violet whose hair is thinning badly. ‘Poor Vi,’ Gladys says, patting her thick wire-wool grey curls.

‘You could have put some coal on the fire, Jack,’ she says to her husband. ‘Do I have to do everything round here?’ Jack sits silently, invisibly behind a pall of smoke, in his armchair next to the nearly-out fire. Gladys goes to the kitchen, collects the bucket of coal, and brings it into the living room. She shovels it onto the fire. ‘Wait till I see that coalman,’ she grumbles, ‘giving me this English rubbish.’ She builds up the fire with the dusty bitty grit of coal knowing it will soon go out again.

She stands up, straightens herself and rubs her back. She looks at her husband.
‘You’re whistling again,’ she shouts at him.
He smiles and nods.
‘Other people don’t have this trouble with their hearing aids. Give it to me.’ She gestures at him. He looks puzzled. ‘Give me your hearing aid,’ she yells. He starts to take it out of his inside pocket. She waits for him to disentangle it and then grabs it. She twiddles the knobs. ‘It must be the batteries,’ she says. ‘I’ll get some more when I go down the village later. It’s a waste of time, it costs a fortune in batteries and you still can’t hear me.’

A child comes into the room. She hands a packet of ten Players to Gladys. ‘Where’s my change?’
The girl gives her the money. Gladys counts it.
‘This isn’t right,’ she says. ‘This isn’t the right money. Have you spent some on sweets?’
The girl knows better than that.
‘You’ll have to go back then. Tell Billy this isn’t the right change. I gave you ten shillings. Go on, get along, what are you waiting for?’
The girl slowly retraces her steps out of the room.

Her face is thin and drawn, her hair still thick and white on the pillow. She is holding my hand tightly; she doesn’t want to let go. She doesn’t know who I am but she’s scared. ‘I’ve got to go now,’ I say. ‘I’ve got to pick up the children from school.’ I slowly withdraw my hand from her still strong grip. ‘I’ll come and see you tomorrow,’ I say.

She dies that night, alone.

A tasty bit of stuff

I was just reading some jokes on Saintly Nick's blog about Obama and his Hawaiian holiday. Or more particularly about the photos of Obama splashing around in the sea. Mmm, I thought, and googled for photos.

Then I googled for photos of Tony Blair on a beach holiday.

I had my post all set up and ready to go when I stopped. I thought, 'Is this pc?' Would I approve if someone compared swimsuit shots of Maggie Thatcher and Mrs Obama? I probably wouldn't mind but maybe I should.

So I didn't post the photos.

* * * * * * *

It's raining. The first rain we've had for weeks. It's much milder of course but not as pleasant for walking.

George and I played Find The Bone in the garden this lunchtime. I hid it and he had to find it. Well, it wasn't so much hidden as lying on the grass as it was his first time. I thought I might have to give him a clue but he found it no problem. He took a sniff of my hand, ran out, sniffed about and quickly traced it. He is a clever dog!

* * * * * * *

Daughter, Son-in-law, Holly Dog and Charlie Cat came down for the weekend so I made a hazelnut cake. It originates from the Cuneo region of Italy, from whence Ferrero Rocher source their hazelnuts. And it tastes quite praliney and truffley.

I accidentally gave the chocolate a long whiz in the liquidiser instead of a short whiz so the texture was stickier and the flavour more wholly chocolatey than it might have been otherwise, but it was very delicious. Rich - you couldn't eat too much - although Husband did manage two pieces for breakfast - and a bit different.
This photo of the two of them is deceptive. They had been on a very long walk during the day. When they're together they spend most of their time charging around, each trying to chase/get away from the other. (Mainly George being a pest and Holly getting fed up.)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How clean is your house?

This afternoon we moved the sideboard back into the hall. That meant emptying it and then, of course, putting things back. Are you like me? Do you have loads of ornaments and 'things' that you'll never use but you hang on to for sentimental reasons?

Like the black pottery that belonged to my great-aunt, or the knick-knacks that came from my childhood home? Or the candle holder that was given me by a dead friend. (She was alive when she gave it to me.)

I should de-clutter, get rid of all the junk. Clear out my cupboards, make space for ... stuff.

Maybe I'll do it. Tomorrow. Or the next day.

It seemed like a good idea ...

when I booked the tickets to see the Ospreys play Munster at the Liberty Stadium last Friday night. After all, Doug Howlett, ex-All Black and generally gorgeous man, plays for Munster. But that was before I knew what a rubbish game it was going to be. I don't think even seeing Dougie in the flesh made up for the game, which was won, just, by Munster, although neither side really deserved to win.

And somehow I'd managed to get us tickets in amongst a small but very vociferous group of Munster fans. That was okay: there weren't many of them and they needed to make a lot of noise. No, what really upset me was the Ospreys 'supporter' sitting behind me who kept up a continual commentary using the whole of his vocabulary of five words, three of which were expletives while the other two were 'English' and 'referee'.

He wasn't being aggressive or nasty but was out for a night on the town that had already started. I wish I'd been brave enough to turn around and say, in most regal voice, 'Excuse me, we don't say things like that in rugby!' Not amongst the spectators anyway.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Eats, shoots and leaves

I have been pulled up twice about recent posts.

Daughter grumbled about my ABC post because I used the phrase 'a moment in time'. It is one of her pet hates because a moment is, by definition, in time. I can see her point but still think that it adds emphasis to that particular moment. However if you all agree with Daughter - who does have a first class honours degree in English - then I will amend it.

The second complaint, upon which I have already acted, was from Dr Stu. I said that I was about to throw George's dinner 'round the garden'. He suggested that it should be 'around'; I agreed.

I must try harder.

In my dreams

I was woken last night by George barking. I peered at the clock. 5 o'clock. He must desperately need to go out. I stumbled out of bed and pulled on my dressing-gown. It was upside-down; I tried again. Hurrying to get downstairs I walked into the wardrobe.

But I eventually made it downstairs in more or less one piece and opened the kitchen door carefully, expecting George to be standing behind it ready to run out.

George was curled up in his usual place, and looking at me, bleary-eyed and blinking at the light. 'What?' he said.
'You want to go out?'
'It's the middle of the night! Why would I want to go out?'

When I got back to bed Husband asked why I'd got up. I told him I'd heard George barking. 'Didn't you hear him?' (Husband has much keener hearing than I do.)

Is this what guilt does to you?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

George's problem - or is it mine?

So, am I a bad mother? You see how I am taking lessons from the Jewish mother? It's all my fault.

The psychologist was lovely and very encouraging and helpful. All we have to do is remember and put into practice all that she said.

Such as throwing his dinner around the garden. Why? I hear you ask. (Do I?)

George is first generation family pet. His parents were both working dogs on a farm. We met them and they were lovely but they had plenty to keep them busy. George is showing signs of frustration. Dogs in the wild would spend something like 70% of their day looking for and devouring their food. George spends 2 minutes. So to make it more of a challenge and thus use his brain and physical energy, throw it around the garden. Similarly hide leftovers or little treats behind bushes; this makes the garden a more interesting place to be in and should make him less likely to roam. He doesn't try to escape if we're in the garden with him as he has things to do.

He's showing signs of anxiety in his reaction to us when we take him out. I haven't mentioned it but he's been quite bolshy and aggressive on occasion. The psychologist said this is a last resort; all his other methods of communication had been ignored. Signs of stress like licking his lips, yawning, panting, as well as more obvious body language like tail dropped and ears back.

So we have to learn to hear what he's saying to us before he gets to the aggression. But for the meantime try to avoid things that cause him stress until we can gradually help him to overcome his fear. The thing that most appears to cause him stress is going out for a walk from the front gate. So we have to go out the back gate. (Okay, now he's beginning to sound like a neurotic but there is logic honestly! The front gate is nearer to the road.)

And we have to begin the training again because we'd lapsed pretty badly on that.

Keeping him busy, distracting him, making what we want him to do seem interesting - all these type of things we have to work on.

We'd also been getting some things wrong. We'd been advised that if he growled we should pin him down. This is a no-no. She explained things about positive and negative reward and punishment but I got a bit confused. Fortunately Claire (the psychologist) is sending us a report and in the meantime has given me lots of standard advice sheets.

Also the dominance thing. Claire explained that he doesn't want to be dominant: he would rather have decisions made for him because he doesn't have the experience to judge and make good decisions. So he'd rather have that taken out of his hands but he has to learn that he is able to trust us.

Oh, so many things she said. Collars with a calming hormone. Feeding tubes that he has to work food out of. Giving him attention when we want to and not when he wants it. (That's very hard. I talk to him all the time - even though half the time, does he listen to his mother?) But she also said, 'he's lovely.'

The psychologist said ...

George has anxiety issues.

Now I have guilt issues.

How could I not tell this? How cruel am I? What a bad mother I am!

I'll tell you more later but now I have to go and throw George's dinner around the garden.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

ABC Wednesday - Y

I've waited 25 weeks for this. One of my incentives for choosing Beatles' songs for my theme was the knowledge that I had a photo of a Yellow Submarine!

So all my previous ABC Wednesday postings, contrived or just plain weird, have all been aimed at this one moment in time. I have no idea what I will do for Z but for now I will sit back and rest on my oxygen tanks.

To take part in ABC Wednesday go here.


mini biog

Last night in writers' group we were set the task of writing a biography/autobiography/obituary in 20 words or less. I think I've seen something similar on some blogs. Anyway, this is what I came up with.

Her story
The beginning: unexpected
The middle: underway
The ending: unknown

Before writers' my circuit training sessions started again. First of all Jules, the trainer, explained the circuit, then we warmed up, then we had to pair up ready for action. There was a new lady, about my age, in the class and I thought I'd offer to be her partner but before I could do that Fi had come and grabbed me. Fi's biography in 20 words or less:
Fi, fifteen, feisty and fit.

I swear she only picks me so she can humiliate and laugh at me ...

But I'll get my revenge. When she least expects it ...


What, would it kill you to sit down for one lousy second?

We're taking George to meet his therapist tomorrow. I hope she is nice.

One of the books I requested and received for Christmas is called How to Raise a Jewish Dog.

I'll quote some of their advice.

Instead of physical punishment they suggest Situational Martyrdom. First for mild misbehaviour, try the Ingrate Inventory.

After prefacing with "This is the thanks I get," recite a list of the treats and luxuries you give the dog. Be sure to maintain a vocal tone that is oddly calm and devoid of emotion.

For more serous offences try Prolonged Being-Very-Disappointed-in-the-Dog

Don't say anything. Don't even look at the dog. Deny that anything is wrong to people who ask, and, especially to the dog.

But what if your dog gets depressed?

Today's owner understands that the dog has a point.
She realises she has been oppressing the dog in exactly the ways in which she was oppressed when she was a child.

For instance your dog may express his depression by lying, unmoving, with his head between his paws. What he is displaying here is his belief that he is taken for granted, unappreciated and a failure. To remedy this the authors suggest positive affirmation. The owner needs to recite to her dog, several times a day, I have perfected the position where I am ready to pounce. I am a genius. The owner should keep reminding her dog of this until he snaps out of his depression.

George has always suspected that he is really god

"Look, mum! I can walk on water! I AM god!"
I never should have read those Bible stories to him when he was a puppy.
But I pointed out that he couldn't be god because god wouldn't eat horse poo.
'Why not?'
'Because it's yucky.'
'It says in the Bible that no food is unclean.'
I looked at him for a moment. I was surprised: I didn't think he liked the writings of Paul. Then I pulled myself together. 'Ah, but it says food. Horse poo isn't food.'
'I eat it therefore it is food.'
George's logic is sometimes frighteningly infallible. I hope he isn't really God. Does it say anywhere that in the second coming God won't be manifested as a dog?
P.S. I am glad God created me and understands my humour. I think some fundamentalists probably wouldn't. God is so lovely. He's groovy. And cwtchy. And on a bitterly cold day the knowledge of his love warms me like a glow that spreads out from my very middle.
And it's not a sweet sentimental love though I may be making it sound like that. God can be angry and fierce and sorrowful and he often allows things that bemuse me, but under it all is that amazing love that isn't pink fluffy pillows or hot water bottles or cuddly teddies but is a horrible painful death. But he's good for cwtches too.

In which George discovers a new delight

Frozen horse poo.

When mummy shouts and chases, he can run away carrying it in his mouth like an ice lolly.

Monday, January 05, 2009

It's not that easy, Ms Bacall

"You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow. "

I don't think I have a particularly quiet voice but I am often ignored in conversations. (I assume it's because I've not been heard but people may just be ignoring me ...) As you'd imagine my shouting is more like an irritated flea's than an angry bear's, so, today, when George was off at the other side of the adventure playground and heading in the opposite direction, I thought whistling might be more effective.

Put your lips together and blow. Pah!

Monochrome Monday

Walking round the cliffs the other day I looked down at the ebbing sea and the rocks it was leaving in its wake. I love the way you can see the layers in the rocks, the way water lies in fingers in the more eroded gaps between layers. It is awesome to think that these layers are actually lying on their sides; that millions of years ago the layers were horizontal and one on top of each other. And that, even before that, each layer was formed from compressed and eroded shells and stones. That once what is now rock was living.
To take part in Monochrome Monday, go here.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Another reason to regret the demise of Woolworths

Took down the tree this afternoon. I carefully collected each strand of lametta and put it back in its little bag. Natural wastage means that even with my careful recycling there won't be enough one year and what will I do then? The only place I've been able to find it in the past is Woolworths and now, like Christmas, that's gone.

Lametta is much better than tinsel I feel, giving the tree more of a sparkly spider-web look. I think it's meant to represent the spider in the stable. Or am I thinking of Robert the Bruce in a cave? If at first you don't succeed ... bother, now I have Homer Simpson saying, 'give up,' in my head.

Tidying after un-decorating I found a chocolate down the side of the sofa! Such was my joy that I ate it even though it was a coconut eclair.

A new series of Lark Rise to Candleford starts on television in a few minutes. It's ideal Sunday evening viewing that doesn't require a brain so that's me settled.

Beggars can be choosers

On Boxing Day in Zac's, when people came in for lunch, they were able to browse through neatly sorted piles of clean jumpers, scarves, trousers and so on.

I was trying to help Shamus find a jumper. Shamus has long matted hair. The clothes he was wearing were dirty and slept in. I held up a thick woolly v-neck. 'No,' he said, 'I don't like v-necks.'
'What about this then?' I held up a warm collared shirt.
'No, I don't like collars. I just like it like this.' He gestured to suggest a round-neck.
I tried another one. 'This is a lovely warm jumper.'
'No, it's not me. A man's got to have his own style, you know.'

I'm glad he insists on selecting clothes he likes. It teaches me, a do-gooding middle-classer, that beggars aren't necessarily going to be grateful with any old cast-offs I might care to pass on. They still have their pride. And their style.

Ephesians 4:11

And God gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to jump in feet first and be a warning unto others. Guess which group I fit into?

So this couple come to church this morning. They used to be regulars but left many years ago to attend another church in Swansea. The male half of the couple used to lead our music group so I'm sitting behind him and I'm thinking, 'He's a musician. We're desperate for musicians to go into the prison especially as one of our most reliable has just left to work in London. I wonder if he knows about the prison work. And how will he know if he wants to do it if he hasn't been told about it?'

It is a mark of my desperation that at the end of the service I don't go up to him and say, 'hello, it's nice to see you. How are you? Happy New Year' etc. No, I say, 'hello, would you like to go into prison?'

That's when I discover that it's the first time he's been to church for six years and he hasn't played his keyboard in that time either. So do I stop then? No, I say,' It's probably like riding a bike, isn't it?'

Did I say I was desperate?

Poor man has given me his email address. I haven't tried it yet: it could be a false one.

Doctor Who

On the left, William Hartnell, the first Doctor; on the right, Matt Smith, the eleventh.
My theory.
The next incarnation will be the Doctor in his mother's womb, thus clearing the way for a female Doctor.
A pregnant female Doctor.
A pregnant female Doctor with morning sickness.
If there's one thing a cyberman hates it's vomit on his wellies.
Picture this.
An alien spaceship intent on invasion has its landing co-ordinates misaligned by the earth's magnetic field and it materialises in an ante-natal clinic. You wouldn't need guns. Not when you have a room full of threatened hormonally-challenged mothers-to-be. Nothing scarier.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The new Doctor

Matt Smith.
Not Sandi Toksvig then.

Don't mess with me ...

If I were still having periods I'd say I was pre-menstrual. As it is I don't have an excuse for wanting to kill people.

Not a good state to be in when going to Sainsburys.

So when the man came over the tannoy saying, 'Hot Cross Buns, freshly made in our bakery today. Buy one pack, get another free. Why not treat yourself today?' I replied, 'Because it's not sodding Easter.'

It wasn't until a nearby shopper turned and stared at me that I realised I'd said it aloud.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Saturday Photohunt - Hope

I haven't done Photohunt for a few weeks and I didn't know until I checked on tnchick's site that this week's theme is Hope. Only a few days ago I published a piece of writing I'd done about that subject. Sorry to those who have read it but I'll post it again here with the photo to illustrate it. I'm afraid the photo isn't what I saw in my head when I pictured it but this was the best I could do.

And you would not believe what trouble I went to to get this rubbishy photo! Let's just say I'll never make a good arsonist. And it must have looked very suspicious, me outside, in the dark burning papers ... The fire’s out now and you stand alone in the wasteland of your life. All around you see the remnants of your past and your future. Helpless, lost, numb, you’re barely conscious of crimson icicles wrapping themselves around you, stifling the screams in your throat. A bitter-sharp blast of wind whips your face and tears rush, unbidden, to your eyes. Torn fragments of lost dreams circle and disappear with the gust, which whispers a melancholic dirge as it passes. “It’s finished, it’s finished.”

No. You’d shout if you cared. You rake half-heartedly through the ruins, searching for ... what? For something that will persuade you that this isn’t the end. For something that will make you believe in the impossible.

You’re bleeding now. Needle-sharp shards have pierced your heart, life is slipping away.

The light in your eyes grows weak. Your body is wracked by stabbing pain.

Then - something. At first you refuse to acknowledge the warmth but it’s there, just. You look but can’t see the source. It must be there. Now, suddenly alert, you grab at things, scattering rubbish, shifting debris, cutting your hands as you dive into the wreckage. Just as you’re ready to give up, too weak to go on, you find it, camouflaged amongst the rubble. The wind that took your dreams blows softly on it and the darkness itself is lit by the glowing ember, the fire that can’t be extinguished, that’s always there, the hope that makes the difference between living and dying.