Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ireland 14 - 13 England

For once in my life I was seriously cheering England on. Or I would have been if there'd been anything to cheer.

As it is, Ireland is still on course for the Grand Slam. Wales can still win the Triple Crown (by beating Scotland, England and Ireland) and that match is the final game of the tournament on 22nd March. And judging by Ireland's performance today they don't deserve the Grand Slam either.

And now we're off to friends' for an Italian evening. Ciao!

the adulterous woman

Tomorrow in chuch, Alun and Anna are looking at the story of the woman condemned to death for adultery, and Alun asked me if I'd read my monologue as part of the meeting. This is just the beginning of it; the rest is to be found on my bits that are too long.

I was condemned. Found and condemned with no chance to explain. No chance to explain that it wasn’t my fault. That I’d been forced into marrying an older man. A man who didn’t love me or want me for what I was. His only use for me was as a woman; I could have been any woman I meant so little to him. A trophy to be worn on his arm.

But that’s no excuse I know; excuses are meaningless.

I could say that I suspected he visited the local women of the night; that he rarely shared my bed; that he often came home smelling of sickly perfume, not the perfume I used; that other women looked down on me pityingly. I could say all of that.

But I said I wasn’t going to make excuses.

I was guilty. Guilty of the crime.How could I not be when they found me in the committing of it? When the door of my bedroom was kicked open and they burst in as I lay with my lover. I was guilty.

Friday, February 27, 2009

France 21 - 16 Wales

It's almost a relief.

But how come France has such a gorgeous hooker?

Saturday Photohunt - Thankful

As it's the day of St. David, the patron saint of Wales, on Sunday, 1st March, it seems appropriate that I should be thankful for being born Welsh.

Every day when I wake up I thank the lord I'm Welsh
From International Velvet by Catatonia

To be born Welsh is to be born privileged.
Not with a silver spoon in your mouth,
But music in your heart and poetry in your soul.
Popular Welsh quotation, adapted from an original poem by Brian Harris

In Cardiff, Wales' capital city, on international day with Cardiff castle and statue of Nye Bevan, Labour MP for Ebbw Vale and chief architect of the national health service, and an abundance of Welsh flags in the background.

Fit for the game

Goodness knows where the rest were but there were only two of us in circuit training last night: John, who's 6'2" of solid muscle and me who's 5'4" of floppy flab. 'It's not a competition, Liz; you don't have to keep up,' Jules, our almost personal trainer said. Yeah, right. After about 20 minutes, death would have been a welcome visitor!

Still on a sporting theme, it's a big game for Wales tonight. The first time ever (I think) that a Six Nations game has been played on a Friday evening. Wales, having won their first 2 games, take on France In Paris.

{Six Nations - a rugby tournament played in the Spring between, Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy. If one team beats all the others it's called the Grand Slam.}

Back in the seventies Wales had a great team. I remember those days fondly. The following few decades were miserable for Welsh rugby, and as rugby is the national sport of Wales, it was a hard time. But in one way it was an easy time.

Because each game was approached with very little chance of winning, we didn't get too disappointed. True, there was a grey cloud that hung permanently over the principality but this Wales: it rains.

But last year Wales did the Grand Slam. For the second time in three years. Suddenly we have a team that is being acclaimed as probably the best in the northern hemisphere. And the pressure ...

I don't know about the players but for the fans it's immense. Alun has been stressed about this game since the beginning of the week. I didn't really enjoy beating the English because it was too stressful. Jules sweats - literally.

So think of me this evening as you sit back, relax and enjoy that end-of-the-week feeling. I'll be on the edge of my seat, my stomach knotted, holding my breath for eighty minutes.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I am what I am

I've seen this meme at a few places and decided I'd do it quickly with first answers.

I Am: me
I Want: grandchildren
I Have: more than I need
I Wish: I had grandchildren
I Fear: not having grandchildren. And spiders and snakes
I Hear: badly but better now that I’ve fixed the telephone in work
I Search: for my keys regularly
I Wonder: if I’ll ever have grandchildren
I Regret: nothing except …
I Love: my dog
I Always: misjudge time
I Usually: am late

I Am Not: good at talking
I Dance: In my Kitchen
I Sing: badly
I Never: say I never because sometimes I do
I Rarely: cry
I Cry: rarely
I Am Not Always: an idiot but quite often
I Need: to get ready to go to circuit training
I Should: be so many things that I’m not that it doesn’t bear thinking about.

Read the previous post first. Or don't ...

'So I decided that for Lent I would make an effort to say something nice to someone every day. And I began today.'

I was telling the men who'd come to the chaplain's hour in prison about how I'd accidentally given up chocolate for Lent last year - I don't know how it happened but I suddenly found myself committed to not eating chocolate for 6 weeks - and that this year I was going to do something more positive for Lent.

'So, this afternoon, when I was in Tesco's I was standing next to a lady and I started sniffing. I said, "You smell nice." She looked at me like she'd just realised she was standing next to the loonie on the bus and she said, "Do I?" "Mm, yes." She paused a moment and then smiled. "Well, thank you."'

So I think I told the story quite clearly but at the end of the evening, several people said to me, 'Good luck on giving up chocolate.'
'No, no, I'm not giving up chocolate. ... Am I?'
The girls who'd come in with me to sing thought this was hilarious. 'You've done it again,' they said. 'You're going to have give up chocolate again!'

Incidentally one of the men started asking me questions, which would have been all right if a) he hadn't known the Bible better than i do; and b) I'd been able to understand everything he said. As it was I had to give an answer to a question that might not have been the one asked.

I must have done all right though because before he left he came and shook my hand and said, 'I like you. Will you come in again next week?'

At least he didn't walk out halfway through like one of the others.

Fat and ashes

It was Ash Wednesday yesterday, the start of Lent, in the old Christian church calendar. We don't commemorate Lent in Linden but I was asked to go into the prison last night for chaplain's hour so I thought I'd talk a little about it.

I grew up in the Anglican church so I am familiar with the customs but refreshed myself - and found out new info - by doing a bit of googling. You can skip over the rest of this post if you know all about Lent.

Ash Wednesday is the seventh Wednesday before Easter and it marks the start of the 40 day period known as Lent (from old English, lencten, meaning to lengthen i.e. more hours of daylight in the days). The smart amongst you may think, ah, but surely that's more than 40 days, and it is. But Sundays don't count.

Ash Wednesday takes its name from the habit of making the mark of the cross in ash on a believer's forehead in a service during the day. The day before Ash Wednesday is, of course, Pancake Day or, more properly, Shrove Tuesday (from the verb, to shrive, meaning to confess your sins and receive absolution). It's also known as Mardi Gras (fat Tuesday in French) and Carnival (goodbye to meat in Italian).

Shrove Tuesday is a day for penitence, to think back and say sorry, and feasting. As it was traditional to fast or abstain from meat, eggs, fat and milk during Lent, they all had to be used up the day before. Hence the pancakes.

Why fast? Because the 40 day period is to remember Jesus who spent 40 days in the desert, fasting and praying, before he started his ministry. Are you still with me? Parties and festivities weren't allowed either. I'm currently reading The Boleyn Inheritance, by Phillipa Gregory, about Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard, Henry's 4th and 5th wives, and Katherine Howard, who is only a spoiled and silly girl, complains because she can't dance or have new gowns during Lent.

Today few people will fast for Lent but very often people will give up something they enjoy, like chocolate. Alternatively some prefer to take more positive action.

A little round belly

There was a slight problem feeding George this morning.

Last night he got into the pantry and ate all the food left in the dog food bag. Probably 3 meals at least.

Luckily for him I had a tin of little puppy food in the pantry given to us in one of those 'Puppy Bags' from the vet, provided by manufacturers trying to persuade you to use their products. George approached it tentatively - he's used to dry food - but when he realised he could eat it, he thought his birthday had come.

(Yes, I know if he ate 3 meals last night he shouldn't have needed feeding this morning but try telling him that.)

Now he is full of beans and dog food and is currently digging to Australia via the front garden. Each time I yell at him, he stops straightaway, and sits up, wearing his most innocent face. 'Who, me, mum? No, I'm not doing anything.'

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Oh no you're not!

Come and join me in the group wot I've set up: I'm rubbish, I am

I'm thinking it could be the BIGGEST group in the world and I could sell it one day for millions of pounds, like google.

But I'm not banking on that ...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

One for sorrow, two for joy

I also saw twenty-three, yes 23, magpies in a field this afternoon. I only know the rhyme up to nine but I'm hoping it goes like this:

Five for silver
Six for gold,
Seven's a secret never to be told,
Eight's a wish
And nine's a kiss ...
Twenty-three's a best-selling novelist.

See, if even almost rhymes - if you slur your words a bit.

Off to make pancakes now for Younger Son and Zac's. Will reply to comments later.

What a wonderful walk!

Usually when I spot a kingfisher in the woods it darts down the river and into the bank so fast all I see is a blur of blue; today a kingfisher was nice to me!
It kept flying down the river just ahead of us and landing on one branch after another, allowing me to sneak up and take photos. Admittedly I did think I might have to show you photos of empty branches and say, 'That was where the kingfisher was, honest,' but these two came out okay.
Kingfishers just have such an amazing colour, almost fluorescent blue. I was so delighted. And it wasn't just seeing the kingfisher that made the walk wonderful.
I was contemplating the events of the last few days. If I'm honest the hoohaa over the pope's thong upset me more than I'd like to let on, and I have so many arguments going on in my head that it's abuzz with fors and againsts.
As I mentioned, it was a great pick-up when Sandra contacted me and asked if she could use one of my stories on her blog. But it doesn't take long for my head to start saying, 'Yes, well, it was just coincidence; it doesn't mean you're not rubbish.' The good thing is that God knows me through and through so it's not one reassurance I get but three. Sean asked me to take my Corinthians writing to Zac's to read and Alun asked me to read one of my monologues in next Sunday's meeting.
But, you know, even then, if I let it, my head will take me down the 'you don't really believe them, do you? that you're any good?' path.
But today in the woods I imagined what God might say to me. I'm never confident (or arrogant) enough to say without doubt, 'God told me this,' but I do think this is what he might be saying to me.
'For goodness sake! What do I have to do to convince you, you stupid girl?! Yes, you're stupid, and silly. You're selfish and funny and lovely and unique. You're the child I made! You're the child I love! Now, for pity's sake, please get on and be what I created you to be. Do the work I created you to do. Nobody else can do it!'
Then I imagine he sits back and wipes his brow, shaking his head, saying to Jesus, 'I hope she gets it this time.'
P.S. I think I might set up a Facebook group called 'For anyone who's ever thought they're useless'.

The summer of the Rosenbergs

One of the first pieces of homework I had to do on my writing course was to write a short story beginning with the words, 'It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs.'

It's the first line of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. I hadn't read the novel and I didn't know anything about the Rosenbergs. Rather than find out and do anything as sensible as use facts in my story, I went my own sweet way, and this is what I came up with. Or rather this is the start of what I came up with. (Oh yes, and I changed the first line and the names later.)

I remember the summer of the Carvers’ execution; it was the summer I met Ziggy. Two momentous things happened during those three short months, the first being that I fell in love.

The Carvers were husband and wife. They believed they had a God-given mission to purify American society. At the trial, in his defence against the charge of first degree murder, Jimmy claimed that an angel had appeared to him and told him to rid humanity of the scourge of homosexuality. To accomplish this, he would frequent downtown nightclubs and lure young men back to his fourth floor apartment where Nancy had prepared and left out poisoned wine. Having killed their victims — there was some doubt about how many — they got rid of the bagged bodies in their waste disposal. They were only discovered when one larger than usual victim became wedged in the shute. It was so simple, it’s only a surprise that more people haven’t tried it. Or maybe they have.

(Continued on the bits that are too long)

On the good ship beddybyes

I woke up in the middle of the night with a rotten headache. The sort that makes you think, 'Oh, my head is going to burst!' I rummaged in the drawer next to my bed for some pills and was about to pop some in my mouth when I thought, 'Hang on.' Even at 2.30 am something didn't feel right. I turned on the light and discovered I'd been about to take sea-sickness pills.

They'd have been helpful for some of the dreams I've been having lately but the one I'd just woken from involved robbers and murderers and scary people. A baseball bat would have been more use.

* * * * * * * * *

I haven't signed up to Follow any blogs (keep meaning to check it out but always get distracted) but I notice, gratefully, that several people are following mine. For ages the number stayed at 11 then over the last week or so it climbed to the heights of 17. Until yesterday. When it dropped down to 12.

I wonder what happened to make people change their minds. Was it something I said?!

* * * * * * * * *

Oh, yes, and when walking the cliffs yesterday I came up with a good beginning for my novel! Yay! I will write it later on today. After the ironing and chocolate articles. Definitely.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What did George find in the bushes?

Gower cliff walk

From Langland.
To Caswell.

George was wondering how much had to be paid in bribes to get planning permission for the monstrosity just on the edge of the beach. I told him it was built in the late sixties and was probably considered tasteful then. He looked at me doubtfully, 'Could that ever have been considered tasteful?'
I have to admit he speaks a lot of sense sometimes.

Monochrome Monday

The path leading to Exeter cathedral.

To take part in Monochrome Monday, go here.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mutley the dog

I am feeling much better today. In fact, I am back to my normal hoppity-skippy self.

I thought I was safely past hormonal downers but it appears that yesterday might have been just that.

So thank you for your sympathy - and yah boo sucks to mutley for his unsympathy!

You're rubbish, you are

I don't know about you but when I'm a bit tired and low I turn in on myself and head on the downward 'you're just rubbish anyway' trail. I'd reached the 'nothing you do is any good' point yesterday while cleaning when I stopped for a cup of tea and a quick glance at my emails.

There was one there with the Subject 'Your stories!!'. I didn't recognise the name in the From column so opened it tentatively, expecting a spam-type mail. It turned out to be from a lady called Sandra who had read my stories on The bits that are too long, liked them and wanted to use one in her blog post for today.

A timely coincidence? Or reassurance from a loving God?

If it's coincidence, it's odd how timely these coincidences are.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


That's better!

Oh me

I feel very tired, old and depressed this morning. Oh yes, and fat. I put it down to the fact that I'm tired, old and fat. And the fact that I have cleaning to do, followed by a trip to Sainsburys. I'm sure the thought of shopping, deciding on dinner and cooking it shouldn't give me the screaming habdabs ...

I'd better go and take a pill.

4.30 pm
Well, I've done lots of cleaning and showered. Husband said he'd go to Sainsburys for me and Younger Son will cook dinner!

But I've decided that Husband can take me to Sainsburys: he needs to go to the DIY shop for some strange light bulbs and he can drop me off, get the bulbs, then come and join me shopping. It will be easier that way. Otherwise I will have to write a list.

And I think - I don't know for certain, mind, but it could be a possibility - that a large bar of chocolate may leap into my trolley.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Saturday Photohunt - Warm

Although really this is hot not warm.

One evening, when we staying just outside Jasper National Park, we went to Miette Hot Springs. For over a century people have travelled there to enjoy the hot spring water - the hottest in the Rockies, coming out of the ground at 54 degrees before being cooled to a bearable 40 degrees.There were two hot pools and two small cold dipping pools. We were quite happy sitting in the hot water under the stars in the crisp night air when we started chatting to a German. 'You should go in the cold pool.'

We'd heard the screams. 'I don't think so.'

'No, really, you should. It is very good for your health. I go every week I am here and I am never ill.'

So we were talked into it - and it was flipping freezing!

It was literally a quick dip in and out and then straight back into the hot pool, feeling very righteous. And even more so the next morning, talking to fellow guests over breakfast who hadn't dared the cold pool. 'Oh, didn't you? We did. It's very good for you, you know.'

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The pope's thong

The first email I opened in work this morning was from 'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells' complaining about the church movie notices last Sunday. I'd included a photo of thongs with images of the pope on them. In retrospect I should have realised that it would be a thong too far for some people. (I don't know if it were the thong, the pope or the combination that did the upsetting.)

But what gets me is that people who write to complain seldom write to compliment.

However I am suitably chastised and will do better in future.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What shall I do this evening?


Read magazines about writing?

Watch Grey's Anatomy on DVD?


I could work on rewriting the beginning of my novel as I don't like it as it is and I want to send some of it off soon for some critique-ing. But I haven't decided how I want to start it. And late evening isn't always the best time to think.

Read magazines about writing
More useful than it sounds as there are sometimes writing opportunities or competitions in them.

Watch Grey's Anatomy
Just relaxing.

Big pile needs doing. If I don't do it now when will I?

Decisions, decisions.

I was thinking about sex

'I'm sorry, George,' I said, realising he was looking at me ignoring him, wide-eyed and wanting to be stroked. 'I was thinking about sex.'

Which isn't normally what I think about at 12.15 on a Wednesday lunchtime.

I'm working on my novel (hooray! at last!) and I've reached a bit where I can't decide whether the hero and her partner will have sex or not at this precise moment in their story. And I get all flustered just writing about it even in the most indirect terms.

I think I need a cup of tea. And, in the absence of chocolate, some lunch.

P.S. I just had beetroot and smoked mackerel on toast for lunch. Does that sound as odd to you as it does to me?

There is a conspiracy afoot

Tuesdays to Thursdays I work at home. Last night and last Wednesday evening, with no urgent deadlines to meet, and feeling very tired, i decided I wouldn't set the alarm but would let my body wake me when it was ready.

Last Thursday morning my body woke me at 6.30. I was not happy with my body. I gave it a serious talking-to and finally dropped back to sleep to be woken at 7.15 by George barking to go out. I gave up and got up.

This morning my body tried to wake me at 6.45 but I battled and managed to ignore it. At 8.30 there was a knock on the door.
'Did I wake you?' said the (rather good-looking) workman.
'No, I always wander round the house in my dressing-gown with my hair on end and an exceptionally vacant look on my face.' (I didn't really say that.)

Love is ...

It was Daughter and Son-in-law's sixth wedding anniversary on Valentine's Day. (Yes, sixth and still no babies! I am doomed to be an ancient grandma.) And last night in Zac's Bible study we'd reached one of the most popular wedding readings: 1 Corinthians 13.

For Daughter's wedding I was delighted to be asked to write something and, based on that chapter, this is what I wrote.

Love is patient. Even when you change the television channels so fast it looks as though Alan Titchmarshis giving the Queen Vic a flouncy frilled make-over and Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen is phoning a friend, even then love is patient.
Love is kind. I know you don’t like to be too hot in bed so, because love is kind, I put my cold feet on you.
Love does not boast, even when Wales beat England, 23-15, it doesn’t boast, not even mention it, not once.
When I get the dance steps right and you rumba stumblingly to a halt, love is not proud.
Love is not rude, and never mentions bald heads or expanding waistlines.
Love is not self-seeking - except possibly when dishing up the chips.
Love is not easily angered, and I do not drive too close to the car in front!
Love keeps no record of wrongs –you’ve spilled red wine on my clean tablecloths 243 times but I’m not counting.

No, love isn’t easy. And sometimes it hurts.
And a mother’s desire is to protect her children from those hurts, to shelter them from pain, to scatter petals before them, to make their paths beautiful. Were I to pray for an easy life, for easy love, for you, would I be sparing you heartache or preventing you from experiencing the richness of love and life in its fullness?

I ask instead that God will be the rock on which you stand and your strength, that the knowledge of his perfect love for you will be the security that frees you to walk into the future, hand in hand, with your love and laughter being the only ties that bind.

Love is hard work.
And it costs.
Wrinkles and grey hairs the world sees; the tears it doesn’t.

Love takes effort but if you can see your own and each other’s faults and love yourself and each other in spite of them, you will understand more of the power of love.
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

We're going to FLY!

Betty is in the garage having new wings fitted.

This morning the mechanic phoned and said, 'We've taken off one of the wings and we've found two holes that need welding. It will be easier to do while the wing is off; would you like to come and look at them?'
'And me looking at the holes would be of what benefit exactly?'
He laughed. 'Okay, would your husband like to come then?'
'Naah, just go ahead and fix them, please.'

Honestly, like I'd have any idea.

* * * * * * *

I was on my way to the woods with George when I realised I was still wearing my slop-about-at-home trousers instead of my get-filthy-muddy trousers. I couldn't be bothered to go home and change but it hadn't been raining so it was only in a few places that I needed to tuck my trousers into my knicker legs.

I was just glad I was wearing knickers with proper elasticky legs.

It all began when I said

'We ought to get the back yard paved and put some tubs and plants out there. Something to make it look better.'

In truth a bomb dropping on it would make it look better.

Husband immediately started coming up with bigger and wilder and more expensive ideas for extending the house outwards. And the days went by, and the months went by, and the years went by, and still the back yard looked a tip. In fact it got even worse now it was under a 'we can dump it here for now as we're going to be improving soon' curse.

This is what I see when I open the back door:

Not a pretty sight. So last night Wayne came to see us. I'd asked him to call and give us some ideas and a price for a conservatory-type utility room. There's no point having a proper conservatory because, as you can see, we have no view and not that much sunlight.

So Wayne looked and thought and said, 'Yes, we could do what you've suggested but what if ...' and he came up with idea of making it a little wider than we thought and creating a more useable room.

Now Husband has said that as I arranged for Wayne to come, I can make the decision. So do I opt for:

a) no extension but just paving stones and pots (which we can still have either way);

b) our original slim lined-up with the house extension;

c) Wayne's wider more room-sized idea?

I don't think the cost of the smaller one would be much less than the larger as all the basic work would still need to be done and it's not that much less material, but do we need what would be an extra room? Indeed, do we need a utility room at all? And if we do, do we go for how it looks or for usefulness? And if ... oh, I could go on and on. Flipping Wayne making it even more difficult.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I was given two copies of this book for Christmas. Which wouldn't have been so surprising if they hadn't both been from Husband.
Anyway I wrapped one up and gave it to Daughter for her birthday and I finished reading the other last week. It is utterly delightful.
It's a mix of 84 Charing Cross Road and Diary of a Provincial Lady with, as one of the blurbs says, a bit of 'Allo, 'Allo' thrown in. ('Allo, 'Allo was a sitcom set in occupied France, which, when I think about it, is a strange subject for a sitcom.)
There isn't really a great deal of plot but a whole crowd of wonderful characters with their own little stories. A light and engaging read, which I thoroughly recommend.

Oh George!

Well, George, you should have good eyesight at least! (Stolen carrot from the pantry.)
I'm not going to ask what you've been doing!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Richard Hooker and friend, outside Exeter Cathedral.

To take part in Monochrome Monday, go here.


Wales 23 - 15 England

Wales were the favourites to win this game and win they did - but it was a flipping tense game!

England, in their previous game against Italy, were rubbish, and Wales are on form so it should have been easy but it was England and I never relax when we're playing England. It's the game that matters most, more than any other. "As long as we beat the English, that's okay."

England played well and we made some silly mistakes letting them get through for two tries but we won - and that's what matters. It was a hard game - but one that was remarkably free of injuries - but we came through it.

And after two weekends of competition there are just two teams who can do the Grand Slam: Wales and Ireland. It's going to be an exciting tournament.

I'm sorry I can't write very lucidly about the game: I spent too much time jumping off my seat or eating my fingers.

We've been in Devon for the weekend

It was Daughter's birthday last Monday so we went down to stay with her and her husband for the weekend. Of course the real reason they wanted us down there was to do some digging on their allotment!! That's me hard at work. Seen through the snow-damaged fruit cage.

After the game (separate post!) we enjoyed a delicious leek and squash risotto Daughter cooked for us. It was yummy! She is a very good cook.
A jigsaw scene at Bickleigh.

Then today we took them for lunch at Michael Caines' (not Michael Caine's) restaurant in Exeter where we sat in in the window and people-watched while we ate (food that wasn't as good as Daughter's).

Crocuses in the cathedral garden.
The sun setting behind the steelworks (at 70 mph!).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Supporting survivors

Hippy Mama is making bags to support Deb on her website Scarves for Survivors where Deb is selling hand-made scarves and other goodies to raise funds for Rape Crisis Centres in England and Wales.

Please go and visit Hippy Mama or Deb to see what's for sale.

Thank you.

Goodbye, Hope

It is rather disturbing to see a fire engine parked outside the crematorium.

We were at the crem first thing this morning to say goodbye to a child we'd never met, a girl who died in her mother's womb. To have to give birth to a baby you know is dead must be one of the most destroying things.

Her parents named her Hope.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Have you found Jesus?

I sent this card to Elder Son for his birthday last year and it tickled me so much I had to buy myself a copy to put on my shelf.
Traces of Nuts by Whyatt (Gibson Hanson Graphics)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why w?

Why is there a 'w' in answers? It isn't necessary. Ansers on a postcard please.


Thank you, hippy mama!

I just received this in the post!

Thank you, hippy mama!

A bit of a ramble about self-worth

Last night in Zac's we were looking at bits of the body.

For a human body to work as it is intended it needs all its different components. Paul, the apostle, was using this analogy for church, meaning for a church to be living it needs everyone in it to play their part, and everyone is of equal value. Yes, some people are natural leaders and others are natural tea-makers but the leader isn't more important than the tea-maker. That's what Paul says.

Several of the people in Zac's are there because they've bad experiences with regular church and they were quick to point out that some leaders think they're a lot better than their flock. I'm fortunate in Linden that it's not like that. Oh, we've a couple of people that may think they are - but in truth that is more likely to be my view of them rather than reality. No, I think the problem in Linden and in probably other churches is not inflicted from above but self-inflicted.

You can tell the tea-maker one hundred times, a million times, that she is just as valued as the speaker but does she really believe it?

We've just started on a new Sunday morning teaching series on Jesus and women. Alun and Alice introduced it last Sunday and as part of it they got all the women present to go and stand at the front. Then Alice asked us to say what we thought was valuable about us. Alun and I were discussing it in work the next day. Alun said, 'There I was, looking at this group of strong, resourceful, intelligent, creative, accomplished women ...' he stopped and looked at me, 'I'm not including you in this by the way ...'
'Thank you, Alun.'
'And not one of them could come up with one valuable thing about herself.'

Was it natural modesty? False modesty? Or do we all genuinely believe there is nothing good about us? If we'd been asked to find something good about each other we'd have had no problems.

When we become children of God we put on his cloak of worth. We are valued. God doesn't prefer Alun to me because he's male, or funnier, or smarter. He places an equal value on each of us.

Many of us struggle with the issue of self-worth, whether it's because of our past, our present or our nature. We often find that even the most confident amongst us puts very little value on herself. Yet we are valued by God and to deny that is to miss out on such a lot. And I'm talking to myself here.

It's a bit like the jumper Auntie Mary knitted for me for Christmas one year. It's a perfect fit but I'm not convinced that it really suits me. So I said, 'Thank you very much. It's lovely and it must have taken an awful lot of effort,' before I put it in the back of the cupboard and only get it out when all my other jumpers are dirty and I don't have anything else to wear. And when I do people say, 'that jumper really suits you. You should wear it more often.'

The Australian bushfires

On the wall in Zac's is a poster, a collage of faces, celebrating the 25th anniversary of God's Squad.

God's Squad, Christian motor-bikers' club, was started in Australia by John Smith, and it's run on the same lines as other secular - and outlaw - biking clubs, where you have to earn your colours (the right to wear the badges).

Last night Sean pointed out two faces amongst the many in the collage. Buffalo, who's lost his home in the bushfires, and Brouss, who's lost his two daughters.

I can't begin to imagine what that's like. I don't want to try.

I've only been vaguely aware of the fires - I watch very little television and hadn't seen images - but seeing someone with whom I have a link, even if it is in the most roundabout way - makes them become all too real.

God, be with Brouss and his family. Be with Buffalo and all the others who've lost family, friends or homes. And let the rains come, lord.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My home town

The city of Swansea was built around the mouth of the river Tawe. From the docks the river winds up the valley, with its incredible industrial history. It's only fairly recently that the river and the water in the bay have been cleaned up after years of having pollutants tipped in.

When I was growing up we swam off the promenade at Mumbles. By the time I was a teenager there were signs saying 'don't eat the cockles in the bay,' and the sea regularly failed all health and safety tests.

It took a lot of investment and determination to get it cleaned up but today even the bays that were most polluted (near the now-diverted sewage outlet) have a Blue Flag for clean water.

As Swansea grew, its residents spread out, mostly over the hills to the west. Eventually the town encompassed outlying villages like Oystermouth, Killay and Sketty. Swansea was made a city I think when the Prince of Wales was invested, but it might have been later than that.

Cefn Coed, the psychiatric hospital - or as we called it when I was growing up, the loony bin - is perched on top of one of Swansea's hills. It's the red building with the clock tower in the centre. If you had to be in a psychiatric hospital, at least you'd have a good view.
The perspective on the photo below looks very odd. The square building in the centre is on the university campus, which isn't as close to the city as it appears. The tall white building just behind and to the left of it is Swansea's newest tall tower. It's apparently going to be the tallest residential building in Wales.
When I first heard they were building this block I was as horrified as many others but, I have to admit, it's grown on me. I've become quite attached to it as I've watched it develop. It still has scaffolding on the top floors and then there's a tilted sort of glass thing on the top.
You can just see the remains of the snow on Kilvey Hill. All these photos were taken from near the top of Clyne woods.

What became of Mair?

The second - and final! - part of Mair's story.

Sorry, I'm very behind with visiting and I will try and catch up soon.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Monochrome Monday

The old 'Roman' bridge at Blackpill.

To take part in Monochrome Monday, go here.


Mair's story

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Meet Mair - my alter ego

Thanks for all your support. My monologue went fine: I was just about word perfect! I didn't get as many laughs as I'd hoped but it's over and I ate chocolate to celebrate!

I'll get something on youtube soon - maybe later this evening.

Scotland 13 - 26 Wales

Photo from the BBC website

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Me anxious? Never ...

I am not in the least bit stressed or anxious about tonight. I always spending Saturday cleaning like a maniac while repeating the mantra, 'don't worry; it'll be fine.'

I've bleached my top lip because, obviously, when I scramble onto the stage in my mini-skirt with a tattoo on my left bosom, my top lip will be the first thing everyone will look at. 'Does she have a dark shadow?' will be the question at the forefront of everyone's minds.

I'm wondering whether to have a practice tattoo session. The rugby will be on soon so I'll probably wait until afterwards when I shower. I can still do a practice one on my shoulder first.

Now, don't worry; everything will be fine.

By the way, Wales play their first game of the Six Nations tournament tomorrow and I have a special photo of star winger, Shane Williams, to post. Courtesy of the BBC.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Saturday Photohunt - Bridge(s)

I've used these photos before in posts but I make no apology.We have Welsh, English, Australian and Canadian women blogging in Wales, England, Sicily and Canada, brought together in real life by friendship forged in a vrtual world. Such are the bridges built by blogging.

To take part in Saturday Photohunt, visit tnchick.

My theme tune

Alun, who's organising the talent concert tomorrow night, had the good idea of suggesting that the house band should play a little theme music as each act makes its way to the stage. Like 4 Poufs and a Piano do on the Jonathan Ross Show.

I spoke to Aly, who's leading the band, to suggest that she uses We'll Keep a Welcome in the Hillsides or something similar for me. She said, 'Thank you, but Al and I have already decided on a tune for you.'
'What is it?'
'That would be telling!'

I asked Alun in work today and before he had a chance to refuse to tell me, Chris piped up, 'The Lady is a Tramp?'
To which Alun replied, 'No, but I wish I'd thought of that!'

And they call themselves Christians.

A most attractive sight

I had a good idea. Denim gives as you wear it, doesn't it? So I've come home from work and put on my mini-skirt. I am sitting here, barely able to breathe, in a mini-skirt, sequined slippers and pink flying pigs socks. Don't you wish you could see me?!

No chance!

Which is, apparently, what the carpet fitters said when they came to fit our stair carpet today. Most of it is done; we're just left with a bit at the bottom for which they didn't have a large enough piece.

One day, one day, we'll get the hall finished.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Missing: one coil, last seen ...

Inspired by a post on hullaballoo's blog I decided to republish something I wrote on this blog nearly two and a half years ago.

I was having my contraceptive coil checked by the doctor. Now normally it's a case of hand in, a quick how's your father, and, 'see you next year.' This time it was how's your father, how's your auntie and how's your granny's cat? And she's still rummaging.

Meanwhile Ms Hypochondria is getting the first pangs of panic. What has the doctor found? Something fatal? Of course it is; that's why she's taking so long.

She speaks to the nurse. 'Bring the light a bit closer, please.' It's too dark; that's the problem. No need for me to worry. I breathe a little easier.

The doctor calls the nurse. 'Nurse, come and have a look.' Oh, no, she's found a tumour so big she can't believe her eyes; she wants the nurse to confirm what she's seeing. Ohmigosh, it's probably inoperable, too late. What shall I tell the family? When shall I tell them? I'll keep it to myself, there's no point upsetting them. They'll find out soon enough. I wonder if they'll cry at my funeral. I wonder if anyone will come to my funeral.

The doctor looks up and speaks to me. 'Have you noticed anything coming away?''
'Coming away?'
'Yes, anything ... unusual?''
'No,' I squeak.

She goes back inside.

I am just wondering if anyone will have anything nice to say at my funeral or whether they will simply list all the mistakes I made in my life - it was a short life but a stupid one - when she withdraws and switches off the light. She takes off her gloves and looks worried. She looks worried? I'm the one who should look anxious: how am I going to break the news to Husband?

'I can't find it,' she says, after an age.
'You can't find it?'
'No, it seems to have disappeared.'
'Disappeared? (Panic always bring out the parrot in me.) But where could it go? I mean there's not exactly a lot of room for it to hide down there.'
'Well, it might have made its way somewhere.'
'Somewhere?! Do you mean I could be like a magician and produce it from behind my ear?'

The doctor tells me she will send me to the clinic for an ultrasound scan to see where it's got to , but, in the meantime, she suggests that I use an alternative form of contraception. It's my turn to look at her.
'And how long ago might I have lost it?'
She shrugs.
'And now you're suggesting I should use an alternative contraception?'
Words like horse and stable-door spring to mind.

And I leave the surgery knowing that I really have lost more than just the plot.

Two and a half years later I can tell you that the coil was exactly where it was supposed to be, but my hair is significantly greyer for which I blame the doctor.

Do you live near Minehead?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

My bad back

I am sitting here with a hot water bottle stuffed down the back of my trousers.

I was in Sainsburys earlier and all of a sudden, with no warning or reason, my back twanged. But don't worry, I'm fine ... as long as I don't stand upright, lift anything or climb stairs. Oh and deep breathing is a no-no too.

I had to go to Sainsburys because our cupboards were bare and I feared Younger Son would start eating me if I didn't but the place was heaving. I had to drive around the car park twice to find a space. I think everyone is preparing to be snowed-in for three weeks at least. I've just about got enough for three days.

Mmmm, this hot water bottle is nice ...

I am not happy

Two and a half weeks after the start of my mini-skirt diet, how come it's EVENSODDINGTIGHTER?! Excuse me, I don't usually swear - at least not out loud - but honestly.

A light came on!

The bulb above my head lit up the woods today! Eureka! I've worked out what's wrong with my monologue.

There are sentences that I stumble over each time I practise it. Now I know why: because they're laboured, they're not natural and they just don't work. So it's red pen time. Now that may sound obvious but when you've written something and nurtured it, it's sometimes hard to spot the fool's gold.

But there's genuine gold in West Wing. Younger Son has just started watching season 1 and it's making life very difficult for me. Every time I pass the television when it's on I have to stop and watch a bit. And a bit more. And a bit more.

Are you slow today?

Has anyone else been having really slow internet connection for the last couple of days? I know lots of sites connected with weather and travel have been crashing because of overload and I wonder if it's affecting the net generally. Or my connection at least.

Or is it just me?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

ABC Wednesday - C

It was very easy to choose a picture this week. Almost the first image I spotted in my Webster's Dictionary was of this little chipmunk and I had the perfect photo to go with it.
To take part in ABC Wednesday Round 4, go here.


George and the snow

The thing I always forget about snow ...

is that it's flipping cold. Especially when it's blowing off the sea, horizontally into your face.

I was so excited this morning when I opened the curtains and saw the snowy fleece covering the ground. George and I went straight down to the beach. (I was supposed to be going to the hairdressers but he rang and I said I wouldn't go so he could go home and play in the snow! Actually it was so I could play in the snow.) Another thing about snow is that when it's snowy outside I want to eat lots. And not do any work. But as I'm working from home I don't really have an excuse. Husband had to drive to Reading this morning. I kept telling him he shouldn't go but he pooh-poohed it. Just like Elder Son yesterday who travelled from London to Newcastle - to find no-one else had bothered.

Women Centre Stage but not me

Last year I took part in a Women Centre Stage event where I read a monologue. If you were reading my blog last year you may remember that my toilet humour was very tame compared to the singer praising her girlfriend in very Old English terms and the poet enraptured by Sheela-na-gigs (carvings on old churches of the exposed genitalia of women).

Well, when the new Dylan Thomas brochure arrived last week, I noticed that there was another Women Centre Stage happening this year. (Obviously someone had forgotten to tell me about it ...) I quickly emailed the organisers asking if they wanted me to perform again (it had obviously slipped their minds how good I was ...)

Yesterday I had a reply. 'Thank you so much, dear, but our draft programme is full. May I put you on the reserve list?'

I'm tempted to tell them what to do with their reserve list. But I won't. I'll say, pathetically gratefully, yes, please, and thank you.

A right testiculator

In work yesterday Alun told me about a new word that has been added to the dictionary.

Testiculate (v), to wave one's arms round wildly while talking balls.

We agreed that we both knew a lot of testiculators.

Speaking of dictionaries, I had a very nice reply from a lady at Chambers dictionary regarding my query about foreseeable. She explained what had already been pointed out to me that all the fore- words are listed together under fore-. But she did add that they were always reviewing the way words are listed and would take comments into consideration.

* * * * * * * *

On Sunday Husband set up the video camera so I could film myself rehearsing my monologue for next Saturday evening (yes, next Saturday!) I waited until he was in the bath and Younger Son was out before I began and then it took me until yesterday evening to pluck up courage to watch any of it. Oh my, it is so embarrassing watching one's self on film. And I am so bad. I am a right testiculator; I need to practise lots. It's strange: I can do it with no problem in the middle of the woods.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Monochrome Monday

This photo was taken from the side of a hill looking down through trees to the lake at the bottom - in which you can see the upside-down reflections of trees. If you look carefully! You can just see the little wooden jetty at the foot of the hill.
To take part in Monochrome Monday go here.