Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's three years today ...

since Harvey died. Or rather since we made the decision to take him to the vet. For months we'd been putting up with his loss of control over his back end, and helping him up steps and clearing up after him, but we'd agreed that he wasn't in pain and he seemed happy. His spirit was still there: we only had to touch his lead and he'd be struggling to his feet even though he could barely manage once very slowly around the edge of the paying field.

But inevitably the morning arrived when we came downstairs to find he could hardly lift his head and was struggling to breathe.
It was November before George came into our lives. A fitting period of mourning for the dog we loved so much. And George is, as it says in the sidebar, Harvey's great-great-great-great-nephew. Can you see the likeness? In some ways they're very alike; in others quite different. Both individuals who make a great impact on and difference to our lives.

Mother and daughter

Friday, July 30, 2010

Still beating

After Dr Stu's comment on my runny nose post (that it's a symptom of low blood pressure) I remembered that the nurse, when I had my bp checked a few weeks ago, said I should keep an eye on it as it was borderline low. So, on the way to Devon yesterday, we stopped at the doctor's so I could go in and do-it-myself.

I sat down, stuck my arm through the sleeve and then paused a moment to relax, as it suggested, before pressing the Start button. I took the piece of printed paper with the result on back out to the car and showed Husband. 'What?!!' he exclaimed.
'What's the matter? Am I dead?'
'That can't be right,' he said. 'It must be a misprint.'

I was just getting worried when I realised that he didn't actually know what it was meant to be.

Still 85 over 38 was less than 100, which was the magic number I had in my head from the nurse so I called in to check it again this morning.

I did three readings on different arms - two different arms - and they were all different. But they were all above 100 so that was okay. Unfortunately it pulled the feet away from under my theory that I needed more food and in particular more chocolate.

I must have taken the instruction to pause a moment and relax way too seriously yesterday.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I suppose it might be worth a try

You know when you're just publishing a post on blogger and it tries to suggest some products relating to your post? Well, following my nose post it recommended something to stop nose bleeds, exercises for an ageing brain and dog food.

Dog Food?

My nose is ridiculous

No matter what time of year or day it is, my nose runs. And if I have to bend over to do something it's as if a tap has been turned on.

I've always been unable to go out without a hankie and I used to think it was normal but it appears that other people don't have permanently runny noses.

I am reminded of that Grey's Anatomy episode where it was discovered that a patient's runny nose was his brain leaking out.

It would explain an awful lot ...

Is it me?

Sometimes I think it must be me.

I get into Betty Beetle. The seatbelt seems trapped. I try to open the door to release the belt but the door won't budge. Nothing I do will make the door open.

I sit patiently until a good-looking man walks past. I quickly wind down the window and say, in my most helpless female voice, 'I'm stuck in my car. Could you open the door for me, please?'

He pulls the handle and the door opens immediately. 'O-o-o-o-h! It wouldn't open for me honestly!'

The good-looking man opens the passenger door and gets in. I realise it's Husband.

I start driving while he struggles with his seat belt. I'm just speeding up (i.e. doing 20 mph) when the glove compartment flies open of its own accord. Simultaneously Husband's seat belt comes free.

Tell me, really, is it me?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Taking the missionary position

For one so young, Samuel has already had an amazing life, and is soon to depart on his latest 'adventure' working with disabled children in a Muslim country. He is a very humble - and brave - young man and it was wonderful to hear him speak so simply of a life devoted to others.


You'd think that somewhere within two huge boxes of Lego I'd find an explorer. I wasn't expecting to chance upon a missionary; that would have been too coincidental. But these little fellows were the best I could up with: armless murderer from The Fugitive, mod in tank top, Norman soldier with luminous cycling helmet, space warrior, and two members of Village People.
I am particularly concerned by the one in white on the end.

Remember that fall I was headed for?

I didn't lose any weight this week.

Teacher's cut down my calorie allowance. Deep sigh.

But I'm going to make a cake now anyway. One of the Zac's regulars is going to be telling us tonight about the travels he's off on so I thought I'd make an appropriate cake. Sean thinks he's going to Libya, which is unfortunate as the only thing I know about Libya is Colonel Qadaffi.

I suppose I could do it all in black and white checks like his t-towel.

(Just checking: Libya is in Africa, isn't it?)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Has someone declared war on us?

I had one of those automated voice phone calls in work today.
'This is not an advertisement. Please don't put down the phone.'
Just as I was putting down the phone, the last thing I heard was, 'This is a public service announcement.'

Then I spent the next ten minutes wondering if I should have listened and if war could have been declared and whether the government would use a phone call to tell people if it had.

Then I made a cup of tea and forgot about it.

I didn't have a lot of admin-type work to do so decided to get on with the clear-out. I need counselling. I had to keep telling myself: you're the administrator; you're in charge; you don't have to ask Janet if you can throw that away; Janet doesn't work here any more; you can do this.

And if we haven't used something for six years we're not likely to need it now.

Until next week.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The fear of short things

Did I tell you about the time George was chased by a three-legged dog?

Or about the time he refused to walk past two Jack Russells?

To be fair, history has taught us to be wary of the small and those who appear weak.

But it didn't say to watch out for dodgy plastic bags. Or tents.

Strange but true

I was talking to a man today who was in his late thirties before he found out that he was circumcised.

And now I really must stop thinking about circumcision.

No shoehorn needed

I made Husband take a photo of me in my mini-skirt just because I'm proud - and we all know what pride does* - that I can get into it without the aid of a shoehorn. Not that I'm intending to wear it; I'm too old for mini-skirts. No, it only gets an airing at fancy dress parties.*comes before a fall.

Butterflies in Parc le Breos

Whereas margarine never leaves the ground.

We also saw a sludgey brown one that came out fuzzy in the photos and a flirtatious white one who teased me but wouldn't settle long enough for me to get a piccie.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Treating women as equals

So, where was I? Oh yes, Jesus and women.

Well, we need to go back a bit first to a week last Tuesday's bible study at Zac's. The leaders of the early church had been discussing whether circumcision was necessary for Christians; they came to the conclusion it wasn't. 'After all,' James (brother of Jesus) said, 'let's not make it difficult for gentiles to become Christians.'

Put another word in the place of gentiles - addicts, prostitutes, Muslims, homosexuals, take your choice from any number - and the message is the same for today's church. Let's not give people numerous hoops to jump through. Concentrate on what Jesus said was important: loving God and your neighbour as yourself. Many of us have enough trouble loving ourselves.

Now let's go to prison last Sunday morning. The chaplain was talking first about the good Samaritan (another story from Jesus about what is a neighbour) and then the sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus had gone to visit them and, while Martha was busy being the hostess, Mary sat at Jesus' feet to listen to what he had to say.

This was going against the ways of the day when only the men could listen to a rabbi teach and a woman's place was to wait and serve. Martha was tired and grumpy and she complained to Jesus that Mary should be helping her not sitting around doing nothing but Jesus replied by saying that Mary had chosen the best way.

In other words he was turning custom on its head by treating ethnic minorities (the Samaritan) and women equally with Jewish men.

He is such a lovely man/God. He turns everything upside down. 'So the last will be first ...'

Getting back to circumcision

Ric wanted to know how they knew if someone had been circumcised or not. The only answer anyone at Zac's could come up with was that they looked to see. So today I consulted the Wise Man of the West (aka JT) who is the biggest biblical scholar I know. He said, 'Oh, um, yes, they must have looked if necessary.'

Why would it be necessary?

In chapter 15 of the Book of Acts it's established that circumcision isn't necessary for Christians but in chapter 16 Paul sends Timothy to be circumcised before they set off on their travels. The best reason put forward for this is that it would give him the credibility and authority that he'd need to talk to senior Jewish figures. Which is when the question about 'how would they know?' arose.

Enter Sherlock Hinds. Now you need to follow this carefully.

So Timothy has a Jewish mother and according to Jewish law that makes him Jewish but his father was Greek and he hadn't been circumcised as a baby. Jewish men had to be circumcised to take part in the Passover or any other rites. (It was a sign of being one of God's chosen people.)

Paul was in the habit of going to the temple to talk to influential people. The outer courtyard of the temple was for gentiles and was separated from the inner courts by a barrier called seroq. The punishment for a gentile crossing this line was death. So you'd have to be pretty sure of your Jewishness if you wanted to go any further.

Timothy and Paul could tell anyone who challenged Timothy's right to be in the inner temple that he was indeed a Jew, and maybe the scar of circumcision was just added proof if it were needed. A bit like showing your passport at border control. (see postscript)
This doesn't answer the original question but it gives another reason. Without looking, I don't see how else they could possibly tell whether someone had been circumcised or not.

The bit that interested me, when I was googling this question, was the layout of the temple. The further in you progress - or not- the more important you had to be. Inside the court of the gentiles you get the court of women, beyond which lay the bit where men could go and then priests and then the Holy Place. But the four corners of the women's court are set aside, two for storing oil and wood for the sacrificial fires, one for lepers and one for Nazarites. Which says a lot ...

I'll come back to what Jesus says about women in another post.

Postscript: "In ancient times, the mikvah was used by the holy priests prior to performing sacred temple services and by both men and women to purify themselves, before going into the holy temple." The mikvah is a very specialised type of communal bath.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I write like ...

I write like
James Joyce

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Over on
Maryb's blog she has a link to a fascinating little writing analyser. I fed in a blog post (How to tell if someone's been circumcised) and it concluded that I write like James Joyce. Before that I tried an extract from my latest novel, a work in progress, and it came up with Cory Doctorow (I've never heard of him/her) and from my childhood memories blog post it compared me with Kurt Vonnegut.

I can live with Joyce or Vonnegut.

It's fun but rather addictive. Apparently it was devised by a Russian software programmer and it's based on key words rather than style or structure. There are currently only 50 authors in its database but more development is promised.

Give it a try and tell me which famous writer you are! Oh, and pay Mary's blog a visit. It's brilliantly written and always entertaining.


Of pigs and Conservatives

I write articles for a variety of websites. They affect my life.

I write about cakes; I make cakes.
I write about cocktails; I host a cocktail party.
I write about pigs; I want one!!!!

I'm not really considering getting one but it does sound like the most fun you can have in the mud. Did you know it's illegal to feed pigs any meat at all? Or that female pigs, gilts, are subject to the whims of their hormones? Or that they like to wash their faces in the water trough?

I've also been writing about libraries today.

Did you know, that in 1849, Conservative MPs opposed the introduction of the Public Library Act partly because "people have too much knowledge already: the more education people get the more difficult they are to manage"?

And also because it would be the middle and upper classes who would have to pay for it while it would be mostly the lower classes who would benefit.

I am an air pellet of useless information.

And then there were three

Goldfish Number 1 has taken his last swim in the great pool of life and is, even now, making his way down the drainpipe of death.

We're awaiting post-mortem results but suspect cause of death was attempting to swim against the flow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


So Ali asked, 'The word gentile - could it be from genitalia intacta? What do you think?'
'I think you should have asked Sean that last week. I think everyone's picking on me.'

Google is a wonderful thing.

Gentile is from the Latin 'gens' meaning race or clan. It was translated from the Greek 'ethnikos', which in turn was a translation of a Hebrew phrase that I forget meaning non-Jewish nations. (I think. If I understood correctly. Although it doesn't seem an altogether logical progression.)

Anyone else got any awkward questions?

And I nearly forgot ...

We have four new family members. They live in the pond and, no, I haven't given them names. Not yet anyway. We only bought four as we want to see how they survive George, the pigeons and life generally. At least one of them thinks he's a salmon as he keeps trying to leap up the waterfall; another one - or maybe the same one - got himself stuck in the fountain pipe.

And George has decided that fish food is tasty. So really we're not holding out much hope.
Yay! I lost a pound and a half this week making it one stone and one pound altogether and earning myself this certificate! Ideally I'd like to lose another half stone but already my clothes are loose and I feel so much not better.

Mumbles Pier has seen better days

My family has a long connection with Mumbles pier. My great-uncle Dan used to work on the skee rolls and, later, my grandfather was ticket collector in the pier kiosk. Even my great-auntie Connie worked there as a girl when, apparently, there was some sort of light at the end of the pier and she had to climb up it to light it.

Naturally I spent lots of time down there as a child. Because I was nervous about walking along the pier and seeing the grey sea whirling around underneath, great-auntie Gay would tell me: this pier could hold the Queen Mary! I'm not sure if that were strictly true and even today I tread carefully.

In fact today, or last Monday in this case, I was wise to tread carefully as, sadly, the pier has seen better days and is in a state of some disrepair. Not that it bothered these sea-gulls (or kittiwakes as we discovered them to be).

There were loads of fluffy baby kittiwakes huddled along the ledges just under the pier. Kittiwakes were described in the bird book as having benign faces and they're certainly less aggressive-looking than many of the ordinary herring gulls we see around the place.

How to tell if someone's been circumcised

Sean and his family are enjoying - I hope - a well-earned break so, last night, he'd left Martin and me to lead the bible study. 'No problem, Sean,' I said. 'We can do that.'

We were continuing to look at Acts and circumcision reared its ugly head again. Last week when Sean covered it, the subject was treated in a orderly and sensible manner; this week we got all the jokes and rude comments.

After the study, Bert wanted us to pray for him so Blossum and I took him aside. Bert is an alcoholic and Blossum knows him well so he began by saying, 'Yes, we'll pray for you but what are you going to do about it?'

As he kept on along these lines I could see Bert, who has a history of violence, getting edgier, so I quietly took a step back and then another: I didn't want to be within arm's reach if he happened to lash out. Blossum's big enough to take care of himself but I'm rather fond of my jaw as it is and didn't fancy a rebuild. I'm a girly Christian not a hero.

After praying we went back out into the coffee bar to find Gerry standing there naked from the waist up.

I put my head in my hands and muttered, 'Come back soon, Sean!'

Yesterday was a strange day

At lunchtime I was in Morgan's, Swansea's only 5 star hotel, and in the evening I was in Zac's. If you have to ask which one I felt more at home in, then you don't know me very well.

We took the in-laws to Morgan's for lunch and we discovered that while the hotel might be 5 star the restaurant certainly isn't. It started off badly on entering and being 'greeted' by a snooty woman. I think that one of the attributes of a 5 star hotel should be that it makes its customers feel comfortable; she didn't.

The building is Grade II listed and used to be home to the port authority. The rooms are high and ornate, and beautiful but very bad acoustically. It's currently the graduation season and the restaurant was full of proud parents and graduate children and it was very noisy. The round table we sat at was huge - fabulous but made conversation almost impossible when added to the background din and deafness of some of us.

The food, on the whole, was very nice. Our order was taken by a sullen waitress but my Caesar salad and potato omelette were good. Unlike Husband's so-called rib-eye steak, which was tough and probably not rib-eye. Now you should understand that Husband eats everything and never complains: he left half of his steak, told the truth when asked by Ms Snooty if everything was all right, and got an apology - and two free desserts. Which doesn't really make up for a disappointing meal and experience.

We won't be going there again.

Head needs emptying ...

Phew, my head is fit to burst so full is it of things I haven't blogged about.

Husband went up to Derby to collect the in-laws on Saturday and the plan was that he'd take them back next Saturday. However, by Sunday afternoon Mother-in-law was asking when she could take the train back. It was eventually agreed that Husband would take them on Thursday but yesterday it became today.

I must be a very bad hostess!

Anyway, now I have a chance to get on the computer and spend some time emptying my brain. The question is shall I do it chronologically or as it comes? Blorg, as it comes is probably sensiblest. (Yes, blogger, I know sensiblest isn't a word you recognise but I like it. I understand the rules so I can break them.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sex on legs

I've just spent an hour and a half on my knees, scrubbing. But doesn't it look lovely?

And Tom is singing, 'If you want my body and you think I'm sexy,' and I'm thinking, 'Sexy? You want sexy? You should see me, Tom.'

On my hands and knees, in my baggy shorts, striped socks and open-toed sandals I am sex on legs.

The only question is, 'What sex?'

George is hopeful

George is really hoping I'm going to turn my back. For just a minute. That's all he needs.

This rhubarb cake has turned out more as I expected it. Just hope Father-in-law likes rhubarb now.

Speaking of George, he's not my favourite animal at the moment (course he is really but I'm not letting him know that).

We have a fox who regularly takes the same walk through our garden. There could be more than one fox, of course, but they all walk along the same track. For the last two nights George has got us up at 4 am so he can go and reclaim his garden, rushing out, barking and following the scent. I don't believe he can hear the fox so I think Mr Fox must be standing outside the window, hissing through the glass, 'I'm in your garden, na nah na ne nah.'

It's all right for George; he can have a nap during the day.

Tom must have had a reprieve too

We borrowed Tom Jones' Greatest Hits from Daughter and each time I've listened to it I've been troubled. I finally got round to googling the lyrics of the Green, Green Grass of Home and I'm right: he has left out a verse, a crucial verse. He's turned it from a tragedy into a sweetly nice song.

The missing verse:
Then I awake and look around me,
At the four gray walls that surround me,
And I realize that I was only dreaming.
For there's a guard, and there's a sad old padre,
Arm in arm, we'll walk at daybreak.
Again, I'll touch the green, green grass of home.

You see? A significant change from the original. I wonder why.

Now I really must stop finding excuses for not scrubbing the kitchen floor ...

I've had a reprieve

Husband drove up to Derby this morning to fetch his parents who are coming to stay for the week. I had a list of things to do while he was gone:
prepare lasagne - done;
prepare lower-fat lasagne for me (phooey) - done;
make rhubarb cake - done;
go to butcher - done;
walk George - done;
clean sink and work surface in the kitchen - done;
get down on hands and knees and scrub kitchen floor - ummm, that's what I should be doing now but Husband phoned to say there'd been lots of traffic and he was late leaving Derby so they won't be here for another 3 hours. Yay!

I might even have time to tidy the study before showering and sitting back relaxing. 'Oh yes, my home always looks this immaculate.'

Thursday, July 15, 2010

We've been to the vet again

When George was a puppy they said, 'do you want to take out pet insurance?'
We said, 'No. We never needed it with Harvey.'

George has a mucky patch of dermatitis under his chin. He's been shaved and we have to give him pills and apply cream. And that cost us £63.

The vet asked if we'd changed his diet. I didn't bother mentioning the kidney beans; I didn't want him thinking George was completely stupid.

Apparently the weather's right for dermatitis: warm and wet. Not helped by George's fondness for dirty puddles.

Husband had a bad dream

He said, 'I dreamt I was really angry with you.'
'Why? What had I done?'
'Just the same as normal: dithering, dawdling, doing the wrong thing.'

* * * * * * * *

Husband has been cleaning paintwork all day. Now he feels ill and has gone to sit down. He's waiting for me to take him a cup of tea.

Nothing like a bit of Tom when you're cleaning

Would you believe I call the folder I keep these ... drawings in Artwork?

Childhood memories part 2

My mother very thoughtlessly died when I was nineteen. I say thoughtlessly because I hadn't got to know her and have to rely on other people for my view of her. She was an unmarried mother and had to go out to work to support us so I was brought up largely by my grandmother, with whom we lived.

My memories of my mother are sketchy but according to those who knew her, she was wonderful, marvellous, such a good person. The only thing she did wrong was having me. (I don't mean that she shouldn't have done or that I wished she hadn't but simply that, in those days, having a child out of wedlock was frowned upon.)

It's very hard living with a memory of perfection. I assume she loved me. I'm told she did. 'She wanted you.' 'She loved you very much.' But I don't remember her touch. It's thirty-eight years since I last felt it; why should I? But shouldn't I? Shouldn't my lasting memory of my mother be of her love? I know she loved me. I'm told.

I don't remember sitting curled up with her having a bedtime story. But she worked. Her day was long and ... my memory is poor anyway.

I do recall the ultimate sin: showing off. Two occasions in a life of 18 years when my natural inhibitions slipped and the real me escaped long enough to make people laugh. 'Stop showing off!'

It's taken me - oh - so many years to find out that I'm allowed to, sometimes, 'show off'. That I can make people laugh and it's not wrong.

It's easy though, isn't it, to blame someone else, especially if that person is dead? Rather than looking inwards and ... I don't even know what I'm looking for. Reasons for a cocoon of bricks.

And did I love her? Of course I did: she was my mother. I cried when she died. She provided for me and did all the right things. She gave up life for me; her own aspirations had to be packed away after she'd had a child who had to be explained.

Yes, I loved her. She was wonderful.

But how dare she die so inconveniently?

Will anyone read this far? A babble of self-pity asking for sympathy. My finger is playing over the publish button. Do I really want to publish this? Is it enough that I've written it? Will the knot in my stomach release itself if I don't?

P.S. I should add that, as Kris says, I know my mother did the best she could do under the circumstances. She must have been hurting and damaged herself.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

On the cliff path today

Still on the eve of destruction

The reworked version of the famous 60s' anthem. You can hear Barry Maguire singing it live at Zac's Place on 21st September. Ticket information from the zac's place website.

Hospital for sinners

When two people are guaranteed to rub each other up the wrong way and those two people are in a room together, you can be sure that sparks will fly.

Still Zac's wouldn't be Zac's without such people. And Sean managed to keep control and we got through the bible study, albeit with a hum of sub-talk.

Before we started a couple of very hungry youngsters came in. One was almost incapable and, once again, I am left wondering what sort of childhood, what happenings led her to the life that she now leads. And would she choose to be out of it if she could, and what stops her.

The other, a lad, had been getting his life sorted. I can't remember what Sean said had happened but he's back on the streets. But he stayed quietly for the study. He is the type that brings out the mother in me.

Another, a regular, was chattier than she'd ever been before and was telling me about the emotional roller-coaster she was on. She has, I suppose, some sort of learning difficulty or impairment, but she's very intelligent, has lovely hand-writing and can surprise me with her insights. It would be so easy to judge her on her appearance - and I have been guilty of that - but there's far more to her than that. (Learning difficulty isn't the right description but I don't know what is.)

Just another week at the hospital for sinners - as opposed to the museum for saints, as Sean described it.

The ultimate compliment

The rhubarb cake went down well. (In that no-one took a bite and spat it out or complained - and believe me there are some that would.) Sean said, 'That cake was good; you can make that again.'
'Thank you. The rhubarb was home-grown.'
'Rhubarb? I don't like rhubarb. I thought it was apple.'

Last week I took some lasagne in for Gerry. He'd been asking me (Lasagne Lady) when we'd be having it again. Last night he thanked me for it again and said to Blossum, 'I'd have married her just for her lasagne. And if I'd married her for her lasagne I wouldn't be an alcoholic now.'

And perhaps he'd have remembered my name as well. (I wouldn't mind but he knows everyone else's.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Today is Childhood Memories day

Apparently. Which seems a good enough excuse to wallow.

You know what it's like when you have something in your head that needs to come out? It won't let you go until you've written something. Even if that happens to be against your better judgement.

A few things have come together to culminate in this post - see how I'm still avoiding writing the actual post? - beginning at the weekend. That secret society meeting was really just a poems and pints evening; I'm not quite sure why those present decided it would be secret but it's quite fun belonging to a SS.

Anyway we had to take poems with us to read. All the previous P&P I've attended have involved reading our own writing so I took some of mine only to find that everyone else there had brought along Dylan Thomas, Roger McGough etc. Undeterred by being in the presence of such greatness I read a monologue and two of my own poems. I'm not a poet; I should make that clear here, although it's irrelevant to this post.

One of the two poems was having its first public reading and I was surprised at its effect on me. (Not on the audience who were polite but unenthusiastic.) So its words stayed with me.

If you recall, a couple of weeks ago I went to a funeral in which it became apparent that the deceased had been an absolute saint.

Then I received a blog visit a day or so ago from The Periodic Englishman. Being a polite sort of blogger I returned the courtesy and read several of his posts including one about his uncle in which he describes his uncle's worst qualities while qualifying it by saying that he still loved the old man.

And now it's Childhood Memories Day. You're probably meant to recall favourite toys but hey.

Bear with me (or bare if you prefer). These things will all come together any moment now.

The poem was about my mother. You can read it here if you really want to.

Now I have to go and cook tea. That's probably just as well; all this will serve as an introduction to my post proper. ("I mentioned the war once but I think I got away with it.")

Not quite what I expected

We've a good crop of rhubarb coming in the garden so for Zac's tonight I'd decided I'd try a new rhubarb cake. It didn't turn out quite as I anticipated ...It's a sponge base topped with rhubarb and covered in a crumble-type mixture. I expected the topping to stay more crumbly but maybe I put too much baking powder in my adapted version of the sponge. Making a larger cake than the recipe is intended for has its own difficulties. Doubling quantities is easy but adjusting temperature and timing is more complicated that you'd think.

It tastes nice though.

Rediscovering the library

The house I was born in - and lived in until I married - was just yards away from the local library. For a solitary child it was the perfect escape and it became my second home, where I spent hours choosing books for myself and, in later years, for my grandfather. He liked murders, which I chose solely on the basis of the picture on the cover.For various reasons I haven't been to the library for years but when Husband retired he joined the new Central Library in town and last week he took me with him.

Child and toyshop are words that spring to mind. All those books! To take away for free. And not just books but cds, dvds, and audiobooks too. I didn't know where to start.

AND it has magic checking out machines that can read isbn details through the covers!

Of course I love to have books of my own and a house isn't a home without books but borrowing allows more freedom. I can try authors I've never heard of and if I don't enjoy them, it doesn't matter. I don't have to feel obliged to read it as I didn't have to pay for it. Even though a large percentage of the books I have these days were sourced from car boot sales or charity shops. But there's a certain predictability about the books you're most likely to find in second-hand places: authors like Danielle Steel, Jackie Collins and Lee Child all feature heavily.

I'm sure I'm preaching to the converted saying this but it's been such a wonderful - I was going to say revelation but renewal of a friendship is a better phrase.

Nearly there - well, not really but it's a start

A pound again this week. That's okay although I was hoping for a pound and a half to make my stone. But shall I tell you the really annoying thing?


He also lost a pound last week. And he eats like a ... monster! Take last Thursday for instance ...

I'd decided we'd have ready meals so I chose a Weight-watchers curry. Husband couldn't choose between ordinary curries but then he noticed the Sainsburys Meal Deal: two main meals with rice plus a side dish for £5. He decided he might as well have that. And he ate it ALL! (I lie: I only let him have 3 of the 6 onion bhajis.)

I know the weight is coming off because he's retired and now spends his days doing manual labour in the garden but still ...

Oh, yes, and last night I made chicken and stir-fried veg. I even cooked Husband's chicken in sauce so it wouldn't be too boring for him. He emptied his plate and half an hour later he went and made himself a prawn sandwich.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Secret society

We had our first secret society meeting last night. Good poetry, good food and, best of all, good company. I can say no more on pain of death.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

George is feeling much better

Especially since receiving this postcard from his friend, Raki, in Devon. George says, 'Woof, woof woofity woof!' which loosely translated means, 'Thank you, Raki!'And thank you, Devonshire Dumpling, for helping Raki to write the message. George is already packing his bags and asking when we can go.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

George is poorly

And feeling sorry for himself.But what can you expect when you rummage through the rubbish bin and eat large quantities of old kidney beans?

According to the 'which foods are bad for dogs' website, red kidney beans are poisonous for dogs as well as humans and cause vomiting, diarrhoea and weakness. Yep. The good news is that it should pass in a few hours.

Maybe George'll learn from this experience.

No, I don't think so either.

An appeal

He's not really called Nigel

Nigel was in Zac's on Tuesday. That's not his real name but for some reason I have him marked down in my brain as a Nigel. It's odd as the Nigels I know have long bushy beards and he doesn't, but he said, 'You can call me anything you want if you're going to feed me muffins.'

I digress. He's an old friend of Sean's who trained for the priesthood in later years. He's now chaplain on an RAF base, the one that bodies of British military are flown home to. Sean said, 'You can tell he's had a bad week when he comes to Zac's for a rest.'
Afterwards Nigel corrected him. 'I don't come for a rest; I come for restoration.'

He was saying that he'd planned to come to Zac's but when he'd got home from work had felt tired and grumpy and changed his mind. It was only after he'd eaten a sandwich that he decided he would drive the hundred or so miles down to Swansea (and back the same evening). 'And what did I get? Andy telling us about speaking to inmates about his prison conversion and Gerry telling us about being taken to a church on Sunday and being moved to tears by it. I come feeling rotten and I leave smiling.'

He went on, 'People ask me why I go all the way down to Swansea and I say for a bible study. And they ask what we do and I tell them we study the bible. And they don't understand what's so special.'

You've got to be there.

It's later than you think

We were listening to the Best of the Specials in the car yesterday on the way down to Devon (we hadn't seen GrandDaughter for 10 days and were in need of a fix). What a great song this is!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Blood pressure, belly dancing and baking

I saw the nurse this morning and she checked my blood pressure: it was very low. 'You don't want to let it get any lower.' Her suggested remedy is to drink lots of liquids.

And she gave me the form to take to the path lab for a cholesterol test. It routinely includes a blood sugar test so I have to fast before it. So you know what's going to happen, don't you?

Last time I had my cholesterol tested, I was just coming round again, when the little man left in charge of looking after me, said, 'Did you have breakfast?'
'That's the problem then.'
'But I wasn't allowed to!'

And let's face it, breakfast or lack of is hardly likely to make much difference to the woman who almost passed out last time she went to the optician's.

Straight from the nurse to slimming class where I was Slimmer of the Week again! Yes, you may applaud! I was joint SotW as two others had each lost 2lbs as well.

Instead of our usual warm-up exercise routine we did some belly dancing. I don't have so much belly but I still have the boobs and bum for it. (Which reminds me: I found a bug crawling around inside my bra yesterday, and before anyone else says it, no, he didn't have a lot of room in there.) A little shimmy here and a little shimmy there, a pelvic thrust and 'NO sniggering!'

Then back home to start baking. As we've got raspberries in the garden I decided it would be raspberry and white chocolate muffins for Zac's tonight.
We've got a really good crop of raspberries which is just as well as we have a dog who likes to graze on them. George is of the opinion that any raspberries within his reach are his.

Monday, July 05, 2010

No calories

I just put together this birthday cake.

I am absolutely convinced that there are no calories in the scrapings of the mixing or cream bowls.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

George, the bird and the flower-pot

If you recall, we took George to see a doggy therapist when he was younger. Part of his problem she put down to boredom and suggested making his meal-times longer and more interesting by scattering his food around the place. (He has dry food so it's easy to do.)

Well, we've done that ever since, sometimes throwing it around the garden, other times just around the courtyard.

Yesterday we were watching him eat his food in the courtyard when a blackbird darted behind a flower-pot, Mission Impossible style. He emerged the other side, ran forward, grabbed a nugget and dashed behind the pot again.
Husband said he'd seen him do the same thing in the morning, and had, in fact, alerted George to the fact that his breakfast was being stolen. What was so funny about the evening repeat performance was the way the bird snuck up behind the flower-pot.

George remained blissfully unaware and it seemed harsh to tell tales on such an enterprising creature.

By the way, I notice the bird in my drawing, if to scale, would be roughly the size of an albatross. It was only a little, probably young, blackbird.

Oooh, I could eat her

It may be Independence Day but I wish the Americans could spell

I just put a link on Facebook and the prove-you're-a-human word-thingy-wotsit included the word 'recenter'.

Recenter? Surely you mean recentre? Or recently or more recent. Everything in me screamed at the computer, 'I can't type that!' Knowing that if I didn't, it wouldn't let me put up my link.

Even Blogger has picked it up as a non-word. Just because it's logical doesn't make it right. After all, this is the English language we're discussing.

Why I need crumble

You know the feeling: you stand up too quickly and get light-headed. Well, I'm like that every time I stand up, quickly or otherwise. I put it down to lack of food so I thought I had better have a little bit of the rhubarb and raspberry (both from our garden!) crumble that I made this evening. With an even littler bit of raspberry ripple ice cream. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

Husband says I should go and get my cholesterol and blood pressure checked. Just because he read an article on the BBC website saying poor people have shorter life expectancy thanwealthier. (And they spent money researching that?)

One of the reasons is that 'middle class' people go to the doctor more and kick up a fuss and generally take better care of their health. Hence his suggestion that I go. 'They'll ask you why you want your cholesterol checked,' he said.
'Because my husband says so?'
'Because it hasn't been for a long time.'

I suspect that this will involve having a needle stuck in me. Now I come to think of it, last time I did have my cholesterol checked, I fainted.

It always amazes me how much fuss people in hospitals kick up if you faint. Honestly, you'd think they'd never seen anyone faint before. Some of us take it all in our stride.