Sunday, October 31, 2010

Raptured away

I saw Janet arrive in church this morning and then saw her go upstairs to take Sunday club with the children. I looked out for her afterwards to ask how her holiday had been - but she'd didn't reappear.

The only explanation I can think of is that the rapture happened and Janet was the only one taken.

(Some Christians believe that before the world ends, or Jesus returns, or the thousand-year war, I'm not sure precisely, that Christians will be sort of whisked away to heaven in a cloud. This is what's meant by the Rapture. So if Janet's the only to go church is in a sorry state. Although we wouldn't expect Chris to get there, would we?)

Not a natural born shopper

Yesterday I went into town early before the hairdressers so I could look for boots and a new coat. I lost interest after about half an hour.

I've intended to buy boots for the last three years but couldn't be bothered to to go and try any on, so, yesterday, I made a special effort. I went into the shop and tried on 2 pairs. But wasn't convinced.

And now I'm thinking: do I really want boots anyway?

I also didn't get a coat but I have ordered one that I may like.

Meanwhile Husband went to Sainsburys on his own! I didn't even give him a shopping list. I said, 'You've been coming with me for long enough; you should know what to get by now. And you can plan dinner for the next few nights; I've done it for 32 years so it's your turn.'

He was a little bit anxious so I did write down a few things I knew we needed and then sent him off while I was in town. And he seems to have done all right. Except ... he got to the checkout and discovered he'd left his wallet at home.

He is so going to get slapped

In church this morning Chris reminded people that unplugged was on at Red Cafe tonight. He said, 'Scotty's playing and Captain Cat & the Sailors and' - at this point he looked straight at me - 'it'll be a great evening.'

I confronted him afterwards and he said, 'Well, I didn't mention you because we want people to come.'

I wonder if Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate, has this trouble.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Next time ...

... I have a 'bright idea' I'll keep my mouth closed until I've thought about it. Or better still I'll send it straight back where it came from.

It was me who suggested to the organisers of unplugged that a poetry bit would be a good addition. And me who said, 'Yes, of course,' when they said, 'will you do it for us then?'

But thanks to people here and on facebook for their encouragement and ideas I've decided on my 'set' and I'm not going to change my mind again. Remind me I said that when I start dithering and saying, 'should I do this instead?'

I'm off to the hairdressers this afternoon - a girl has to look good for her public - and, instead of enjoying a supply of Hello magazines, I'm going to learn one piece off by heart.

If these butterflies in my stomach would just pupate everything would be hunky-dory.

Friday, October 29, 2010

But GrandDaughter's crawling!

She did a couple of steps when we were with her on Wednesday but today she's really taken off. Daughter sent us a video to see. Poor Holly Dog's life is going to be a misery.

She's one year old next month (November). What incredible joy she's brought us in these eleven/twelve months. My popsit, my delight. I love her to bits and back.

I'm performing!

Remember a few weeks ago I said that I'd volunteered to read at what is normally a music event? Well, it happens this coming Sunday evening at Red Cafe in Mumbles.

And I'm trying to decide what to read. So I ask Chris and he suggests Roger McGough. This is:
a) not very encouraging to a writer;
b) not showing a lot of faith in my writing;
c) defeating the object? I'm not a performer; I'm a writer who reads.

I ask Husband and he says, 'What about Pam Ayres?'

What is it with these men?

A few weeks ago I was supposed to be going to a Creativity in Church event but couldn't at the last minute but Chris told me that the speaker had almost reprimanded musicians for not encouraging writers, actors, visual artists and dancers to take part in the worship.

We have a writers' group in Linden and over the years I've tried to encourage people in it to bring writing, if it's appropriate, along to the Sunday morning service to use during the meeting. And I've tried to lead by example.

But each time I have an inner battle and have to convince myself that it's not showing off. Which is very odd. I don't for a minute think the musicians are showing off when they play, sing, do solos or their own thing. It's perfectly normal and acceptable for them to use their talent or gift. So why is it any different for writers?

The answer is that it isn't. It just feels as if it is.

I've always said that I can be assured when I read my writing aloud because my confidence is in my writing not in me. So I should be looking forward to Sunday evening. But right now any faith I had in my writing has dropped to an abysmal low.

And my stomach is in a tight little knot. Not helped by the tension of the day in work. I need to punch something.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tony for a tenner

I don't have any problem believing that Cherie Blair sold Tone's signature on ebay; what I find hard to believe is that she refunded the price paid. Of her own accord.

That must have been the influence of the PR people.

Church in a pub - where have I heard that before?

Just been listening to a fabulous version of In the Presence of The Lord - I have finally found a way to live in the presence of the Lord - by Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood. Banksyboy posted it over on his blog.

His blog led me to In Christ Alone and also to waving or drowning? as mentioned in my last post, and to think about the secular sacred divide - or not.

I'm not a great one for Christian books - even though I'm a published author of Christian books - and much prefer a good novel, and I really enjoyed the Susan Howatch Starbridge books. After the initial series she continued to use some of the characters in books that vaguely followed on from each other but could be read individually with no loss of context or meaning. My absolute favourite is The Heartbreaker. It tells the story of the redemption of a male prostitute. It is potent evangelism by another name. (I have no idea whether that is the author's intent.)

Just using the word 'redemption' makes it sound like a Christian story but I am fairly certain this book won't be found in Christian bookstores: the language and descriptions are far too prurient. But then you probably don't get many non-Christians in Christian bookshops ... and I suddenly find myself wandering into another arena hosting the same argument when I'm not even supposed to be blogging anyway; I'm supposed to be finishing the bedroom.

But one last thought. I've been helping in the community cafe today. A few doors down is The Antelope, a once flourishing and popular Mumbles pub, now empty and up for sale. And I'm thinking to myself: now that's what the church needs to buy ...

Waving, drowning or possibly both

Husband is currently insulating the greenhouse with bubble wrap but I persist in my belief that we are not in the least odd.

I went to visit a new blogger (Waving or Drowning?) today and he returned the compliment. He has some splendid posts about Christianity; I am talking about false boobs and being semi-naked in the forest. I feel I should run after him and say, 'I'm not usually like this,' but I'd be lying.

False boobs and goggles

It's scary on top of our wardrobe.

With the false boobs, thigh-high black leather boots, size 9 gold stilettos and WWII pilot's goggles, if you didn't know us you'd think we were odd.

Not to mention the pistol.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Killerton collage or How Great Thou Art

Using the calories

I'd like to make it clear that I was pulling the pushchair UP these steps! It was a mild day and as I began removing layers Husband got excited at the prospect of reaching the top of the hill with a semi-naked wife. Which probably explains why his offer of help was not very enthusiastic.

He and GrandDaughter thought they deserved a cream tea outside Killerton tea shop after all their exertion.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dinner tonight

Steak and mushroom pie. Mmmm.

What kind of idiot ...

goes to the library without her glasses?

But it was all right. As long as I stood well back from the shelves i could read the authors and titles. So I had to choose names that were familiar and titles that weren't.

I've ended up with Fannie Flagg's Can't Wait to Get to Heaven and Victoria Hislop's The Return. I've read lots of Ms Flagg's books and Victoria Hislop's first novel The Island was recommended to me (but they didn't have that).

I have a theory that in Swansea Library more books with authors who have surnames beginning with early letters of the alphabet are borrowed than those written by P. G. Wodehouse for example. Just because of the way it's laid out. By the time I get to H I am suffering from a surfeit of choice.

Made it!

I hit the 9 st mark in slimming class this morning. And that was with my clothes and shoes. Yay!

So I'm well within the healthy weight for a woman of my age and height. My BMI's 21 and visceral fat (around organs) 5%, so all well and good. So good I've just eaten 2 date flapjacks to celebrate.

That's the trouble: when we celebrate we usually go out to eat, have a special meal or munch chocolate. And we bring our children up saying, 'if you're good I'll buy you sweets,' thus indoctrinating them in the same way. If you're good you can have an apple doesn't have quite the same effect.

I'm sure there are lots of other enticements that trendy mums use - like a handful of sultanas or sunflower seeds - bleurgh. But the good thing about this diet I've been on is that it's encouraged me to use a smaller dinner plate and eat less, and it works: I'm generally eating less.

If I can just maintain it for life ...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Desiccate is one of those words

You see I knew it wasn't right.

When I typed it I thought it was wrong but dessicated is one of those words like occurring where I'm never sure how many of anything there should be. So when Blogger didn't pick it up as a spelling error I assumed I must be wrong in thinking it was wrong.

I should have trusted my spelling instinct.

I found desiccated leeks down behind my vegetable rack.

Me paranoid?

Swansea Bay was breathtakingly beautiful this morning as I drove to work. The tide was in and the water glassy, the sun shining in the bluest of blue skies. My joie de vivre lasted approximately 10 minutes until I reached the door of the office when the big black cloud that is paypal descended.

But I think - just think - that I may have got the better of it. Thanks to my animal cunning and chicanery that is not thanks to paypal. But I don't want to say too much in case they are spying on my blog ...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This is my 3501st post ...

... so it should be spectacular, deep, meaningful and intellectual.

On my way to church this morning I had to stop for a pigeon.

He sort of flopped onto the road just in front of me and hobbled across it. What could I do? Just because it was the main road and there was a queue of cars behind me ...

The first thing I noticed in church this morning was ...

Ben's green shoes. Ben's very green shoes.

That aside it was an excellent morning - and that's not something I say very often.

When I arrived I wasn't really there and it took me a while to tune it. Frequently I don't succeed but the worship was appropriate and good and then Sue explained the Palestine Israel situation using the analogy of a quilt - and that suddenly made sense.

And then Ben came to speak about the beatitudes - part of the sermon on the mount and the bit that goes along the lines Blessed are the ..., and he was really excellent. Very challenging and thought-provoking.

Jesus said blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted. A list so far removed from what is me that it had me squirming.

It's what I aspire to - sometimes. Other times I don't even bother to try. The public face of my Christianity can be so different from the private me. So I could have come away feeling totally condemned and guilty, and possibly driven away from God rather than drawn closer, had Ben not ended by saying that the gap between private and public can only be filled by the grace of God.

Yes, Christianity is about being transformed but for me and lots of us that transformation will be a lifetime task. And God knew that. That's why we need Jesus to step in the gap.

Thank God for Jesus.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Purple pots

Look what I found in Sainsburys!
That's right: purple potatoes! Purple Majesty to be precise. I've never seen them here before although I did have them in a restaurant in Canada.
It quite made my day finding them. Not that it would have taken much to improve my day.

Since he's retired Husband has taken to coming to Sainsburys with me. That and the trips to B&Q are his only outings so he looks forward to it, bless him. But today I escaped on my own. So I didn't have to put up with his 'if you bought that one instead it would save a penny,' and 'what's wrong with Basics bacon?' (It's basically all fat is what's wrong with it.)

But strangely enough I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. (Apart from finding the purple potatoes.) It must be love ...

I really shouldn't show you this

It's amazing what you find in your pantry.
Dessicated leeks for example. Okay, you probably don't find those hidden behind the vegetable rack in your pantry, but you may find old spices. Ah, yes, I see you nodding.

Amazingly enough my collection wasn't too hideously out-of-date. Not once I'd decided I'd keep pods and seeds not more than 2 years past their Best By date, and anything I'd used recently even if it were old. I did throw away the chili powder from 2001: I can't imagine how the bottle lasted that long as it is one of the spices I use regularly. It must have been hidden away at the back. Stock rotation doesn't rank highly in my Must-Do list.

I'm keeping the tabasco sauce that is about 4 years past its Best By but that's because I don't believe anything could happen to tabasco to make it inedible.

P.S. Yes, I do know spices should be freshly ground else they very rapidly lose their flavour.

Hormonal death throes

Yesterday evening I was sitting at the computer when I was struck by the hottest of hot flushes. It only lasted a moment or two but was followed shortly after by another. Then in bed I had the most hideous dreams. I blame it on my hormones having a few final flings before giving up the fight.

And this morning I felt - still feel - eeuwrgh. Alternating between 'You want a fight? Come on if you think you're hard enough,' and 'Aw, I want to curl up in a corner and rock gently to and fro.'

Last time I felt like that I went out and bought a black and white sparkly toilet seat and look where that led. So really I should have thought twice before doing what I did.

It all started off innocently enough. I knew I had lots to do but was indecisively dithering (is there any other way to dither?) so decided I'd start quietly by tidying the kitchen. I took some things from the work surface into the study (not put them away, you understand, just took them in and left them on the desk) and then came across three bottles we'd bought on one of our regular trips to B&Q a few weeks ago. (And they'd been on the work surface ever since.)

You may remember me saying that I'd never have had these floor tiles in the kitchen if I'd known how impossible they were to clean so when I spotted this ridiculously expensive Heavy Duty Tile Cleaner, Tile Sealer and Tile Polisher, I had to have them.

Now the kitchen tiles run into the pantry so the floor in there needs to be empty too before all this tile sealing can happen. 'Husband, can you move these tins of paint etc from the pantry, please?'
'I will do when I've painted the pantry.'
(Last November we had the kitchen done; this little job has been 'on the list' ever since.')

So there I am, with a dodgy mindset, in the kitchen looking at the tile stuff and the pantry. 'Husband, as it's raining, would you like to paint inside the pantry today?'
'Yes, that's a good idea.'
'I'll empty it then, shall I?'

That was 4 hours ago; Husband is just beginning to think about what he needs to do in there. 'I'm not going to be able to paint today of course; I'll have to rub down and prime stuff first.'

It's not that he wasn't doing useful stuff on the computer all morning - 'It's important money stuff' - it's just that he picked the wrong moment to push me closer to the edge.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bits and pieces

According to a charity ezine:

A Chinese millionaire has pledged all his wealth, currently estimated at more than £280 million to charity, and is making it his mission to encourage other rich Chinese to be more giving.

Chen Guangbiao, 42, says that his two sons will have to be happy with their spiritual wealth when he dies and that he, and others in China have to be grateful to Chinese society for the economic reforms that made it possible to get rich, and to repay society by devoting energies to helping China and its people.

Mr Guangbiao is also known for flying to disaster zones to personally carry out aid work.

* * * * * * * * * *

Do you listen to The Blackburn Files on BBC Radio 7? It's very good. It's about a redundant miner who takes up private investigation and his trusty sidekick, Tracy. It was originally written by Ian Mcmillan, poet-in-residence for Barnsley FC, although I notice tonight's episode credited other writers as well. It's very funny and fast - in a wordy way. Tonight's episode, for example, featured the case of the potentially prize-winning chrysanthemums that go missing from an allotment.

Not entirely successful dinner

My nut roast was ... well, tasty but more of a nut splodge than a roast. Allowing for the burned bit on the top, and the bottom and side bits that stuck to the pan, there was just about enough for 4 helpings. This from a nut roast that is supposed to serve 6-8. And the bits I dug out I had to press together to make look edible.

And my chocolate and raspberry muffins are sort of toughly chewy if you know what I mean.

Ah well. 'Tomorrow is another day.'

A scary mop

Last night the now frequent phone call came from Sister-in-law saying that Mother-in-law is in hospital so Husband drove up to Derby today to see her. And bring her home from hospital this afternoon.

It was the usual thing: not using her oxygen properly so not enough to her heart with the resultant chest pains. She says she's going to start using it more now but we shall see.

Anyway Husband will arrive home late this evening so I suppose I'd better move the booby trap from the top of the steps.
Twice this afternoon, since I've been home from work, I've had run into the garden yelling, 'Don't you dare, George!' as he's clambered onto the front bit of garden and been about to make his escape over the side wall.

There used to be a bit of fencing keeping him out/in but Husband removed it when he began work on clearing the front, thinking that George had got over his Great Escapee tendency. It's going to have to go back.

And I realise my booby trap doesn't look particularly terrifying but George is scared of the mop as it sometimes falls on him.

How did we do today?

If people are employed on a Help Desk to write replies in English, they should surely be able to write, if not grammatical English, at least clear English.

I'm not blaming the people: I couldn't write clearly in any language except English. It's the employer I find fault with, in this case, yes, you've guessed it, Paypal.

And so it goes on.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Better than yours, mum

I was a bit anxious about making lasagne this week as Younger Son had it in Italy when he stayed with Girlfriend's family recently. Girlfriend's mum made her own pasta and own tomato sauce and YS said it was the best lasagne he'd ever had. 'Even better than yours, mum.'

As Girlfriend is living with us currently it was with some trepidation that I served my lasagne (with sainsburys pasta sheets and Dolmio sauce but with lots of extra vegetables and secret stuff - okay, tomato ketchup) for dinner on Tuesday. Husband said it wasn't as good as usual but he and Girlfriend both had second helpings - although I think GF was just being polite as she's a very nice girl.

As I said previously I was making an extra dishful for Zac's at Gerry's request but I have to say that he was lucky he got any, at least in his mouth rather than over his head, as he was so obnoxious during the bible study.

But he was very grateful.

Let's forget about paypal ...

and think about yesterday's trip to Devon. We had a lovely mid-afternoon walk in the grounds of Killerton House, a National Trust property.
And collected some nice fat chestnuts that husband insisted on bringing home to roast. He's looked chestnuts up on t'internet and apparently they're very good for you and much lower in fat than other nuts, being starchy rather than fatty, and more like a cereal than a nut.
Outside the farm shop GrandDaughter looks to Granny for reassurance that although the pumpkin may be bigger than her it's not as pretty.

The Long Scream

And now I've discovered that when Husband updated me to Windows 7 he lost Microsoft Word along the way.

It was bad enough that I can't find Spider Solitaire ...

I am going to breathe deeply and calm myself down before I go and look for Husband and get him to come and find it. And before I SLAP HIM.

Gaunt? Moi?

People keep telling me to stop losing weight. Correction: men keep telling me to stop losing weight confirming Husband's belief that men don't like skinny women. Or as Steve said, 'Stop losing weight now. Women are supposed to have curves.'

In circuits last week a women who hadn't been for a while commented on my weight loss. She said something else too but my breathing was so heavy after boxing that I didn't catch it but my partner, Pat, said, 'Oh, no, you don't look gaunt.'

That's the second time in a month that the word gaunt has been used in the same sentence as my name. I've never been gaunt in my life. Gaunt and I don't go together in the same sentence!

In fact, when I look at myself all I see is my fat tummy. I know I'm slimmer as my trousers keep falling down but apart from that - and the scales - it isn't obvious to me. Which is strange. It's odd that it is obvious to relative strangers. I suppose it's about the way we see ourselves.

I can only hope that people looking at me also see a better person than the one I know is me.

Younger Son said, 'Yes, you are looking gaunt. You should stop dieting; in fact you should put on weight. And I'm not saying that because I want food in the house that isn't healthy low fat crap.'

I have a headache ...

from banging my head against the brick wall called Paypal.

I have just spent an hour composing an email to them. I admit I made some mistakes initially in setting up paypal accounts for church but nothing like the mistake I made in thinking it would be simple to remedy them.

Twice I've tried calling the Help Desk. The first time I explained my problem and the man said, 'You shouldn't have done that.'
'Well, I did it.'
'You shouldn't have.'
'I realise that now so what do I do?'
'You shouldn't have done that.'
And so on.

The second time the man said, 'Your name's not on the account.'
'It didn't ask for my name.'
'It would have asked for your name.'
'It didn't ask for my name.'
'Your name's not on the account.'
'It didn't ask for my name.'
'It would have asked for your name.'

And the thing is that they have £1,000 intended for Mutende Children's Village in Zambia and they've had it since the start of September - and they won't let me access it until I've corrected my mistakes which I can't do until they do what they've said they'll do. Or rather what they've said they've done but haven't.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lasagne on toast

I forgot to go back and tell you about something that happened at Zac's last week.

There was a new man at the bible study - at least I haven't seen him before or if he's been it's been on and off. We'll call him Keith. He was amiable, unsteady and helpful.

He joined in the discussion a bit and then, towards the end, he began to tell us a little of his story. An alcoholic and addict he'd been trying to get clean when his wife died and the downward spiral began again. He said, 'But the Lord has got his hand on me and is looking after me.'

When he'd finished, he apologised but Sean thanked him for his honesty and openness. He'd made himself very vulnerable. The discussion of the bible story gradually carried on but Gerry, our regular alcoholic, stumbled over to Keith and put his arm around his shoulders. He bent down and muttered some words, and offered him a roll-up - a big gesture giving away tobacco.

One man consoling, understanding, empathising with another. One man who could do it because he knows what it's like.

At the end of the evening Gerry asked me when we were having lasagne again. He said, 'You can buy them in Iceland but it's not like yours. I'm going to have it on my gravestone: Lasagne on toast.'

How could I refuse? So instead of cake tonight I'm making lasagne.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Now that I'm older

I received this in an email from a friend and thought it was too good not to share.

Sometimes I wonder ...

I had resolved to be more proactive regarding Novel Number 2 and had decided to submit it to an agent. From my previous foray into the world of submitting and being rejected I remembered one agent had been positive. I looked it up in my records and found that I'd noted by her name: rejected but nicely.

That's positive in my book, especially when the best I was getting from most agents was the standard rejection. So I rummaged through the folder I have containing all my literary correspondence; oh my word, I should not have done that.

Did I mention I was rejected a few times?!

Anyway I found her letter, right at the back of the file, where what she'd actually said was that she'd liked my writing and would be interested to see another novel. Excellent.

But I before I print off the 34 pages I decide to check to make sure she's still alive and in business. Here follows the good news and the bad: she is still in business but now works for another agency that only deals in non-fiction.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

A certain inevitability

A strange man just came to the door. He had a dog on a lead with him. I thought, 'That dog looks just like George.'

It was George.

We hadn't even noticed he'd gone walkabout. And we don't know how he got out.

And the strange man wasn't a strange man at all but the son of my friend across the road. He used to be Elder Son's best friend but we haven't seen him for years as he's been living away.

Found Jesus?

This is the card I gave Ffion. You may have seen it on here before as I posted it when I bought myself a copy, which is still on my bookshelf.

It makes me laugh.

A quick dip

Husband came along specially to film the baptism and he must have pressed the record button twice because he missed the talky bit where Ffion explained why she was being baptised. I didn't shout at him. Too much.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tomorrow's coming

I am getting a little anxious about baptising Ffion tomorrow. I keep asking myself: how hard can it be? All I have to do is dunk her without knocking her head on the wall, drowning her or falling in myself.

Oh dear.

I tried to get her a present in town this afternoon. I only thought of it today but I knew what I wanted. Unfortunately that wasn't a good thing as no-one had it. Even though I walked around town 4 times re-visiting all the same shops just in case I'd missed it first time round.

One man said he had it in his back room but wasn't getting it out until Tuesday.

Oh dear.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sweet things in Devon

I really didn't intend to have a cream tea but we were in Devon and I had just pushed a pushchair up a big hill ...Then Daughter made us a yummy sausage and spinach pie for dinner. And that was delicious.
But yummiest of all ...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The choice

George goes under the fence; I go over the stile; Husband goes through the gate.

It's just the way we are.

It's only taken 23 years

Twenty-three years we've lived here and Husband has finally fixed the front gate.

No longer do you have to bang it with your bum to get in. No more will I get phone calls from people saying, 'I'm outside your gate; I can't get in!'

Life won't be the same any more

Late for prison

Late for prison, my trousers were falling down and my nose was running faster I was. By the time I got there I was breathing more heavily than a pervert.

But we had a great afternoon beginning the now-annual preparation for the prison Christmas carol service.

And I was offered a job. Several times. (They're desperate.)

If I have many more mornings like today's I might consider it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Big Day cometh

Ffion asked if I'd decided what I was wearing for her baptism. I said I was still considering it as it was an important decision, 'because, after all, at your baptism, everyone will be bound to be looking at me.'

Ffion raised her eyebrows in a 'yeah right' manner but they will. They'll all be waiting to see what I do wrong.

What do I say again? We baptise you in the name of ... who was it?

Is this heaven?

While doing research on herbs - yes, still - I discovered that gingko biloba, which I take, shouldn't be taken with happy pills, which I take, as the combination can cause the fatal condition of serotonin syndrome.

So I could be dead today.

As Younger Son likes to point out, I did wake up one morning and think I was dead so maybe I am. Maybe this is heaven ...

If heaven's like Pwll Du this afternoon then I won't mind going there.

What we did this afternoon

We went to Goonland. And watched a passing snail.

Pwll Du was deserted apart from a yoga-practising gnome - or so I thought.

'Husband,' I hissed, 'there are people over there.'
'I know.'
'Why didn't you tell me?'
'I did.'
'Have I done anything embarrassing?'
'You fell on your bum.'
'That's not embarrassing; that's normal.'

Enough clever

It's hard being an occasionally pedantic grammar freak.

Driving to Zac's last night I was listening to Rod Stewart singing from The Great American Songbook: I love all those sort of songs.

Rod'd just sung, 'It seems so right ...' and I knew what was coming next and before he can say it I'm screaming at the CD, 'NO! NO! NO!'
But he carries on regardless, 'holding you tight.'
'NO! NO! NO! Hold is a doing word; it needs an adverb to describe it. Holding you tightLY. Tightly. Please.'

I'm not blaming Rod; Cole Porter - whose music I love - in the little introduction to Every Time We Say Goodbye wrote the lyrics,
'We love each other so deeply that I ask you this, sweetheart:
why should we quarrel ever,
why can't we be enough clever
never to part?'

Enough clever? Enough clever? You'd think he was Welsh.

Spot the difference

It's Ric's birthday today so we had cake last night in Zac's.I'll write more later about what was a particularly moving experience. I need to swirl it round a bit more first.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The official opening


I put on a pound this week.

I wasn't surprised as I haven't been Gettysburg as much exercise and I had mushrooms in garlic butter and the biggest bowl of the creamiest risotto in the world on Saturday when we went out for a meal. Plus other little extras.

In fact I think our slimming teacher might have been following me around this past week. Her talk this morning was about a day in the life of a struggling slimmer called Paula (who bore a striking resemblance to Minnie Mouse) who thought she was being very good and trying very hard. But she didn't count the bits of left-over grated cheese that she squeezed together into a little wedge and ate, or the tiny cubes of free samples in the supermarket, or the bit of left-over pizza crust that was only a mouthful.

Teacher pointed out that all the little extras if repeated daily would add up to 3,500 calories in a week - or 1 pound of fat.

Don't you hate it when people catch you out?

P.S. Gettysburg?!!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Smartest breeds of dogs

Researching something else I came across a list of the smartest breeds of dogs. It's based on the book The Intelligence of Dogs by Professor Stanley Coren, who assessed dogs by their ability to understand new commands and to obey on the first command.

1. Border collie
3. German Shepherd
4. Golden retriever
5. Doberman
6. Sheepdog

If I could stop laughing long enough I'd make a comment on number 4.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Old age doesn't come alone

It was Mother-in-law's birthday on Friday. She phoned us to say thank you for the flowers and the present.

We didn't send flowers and we have her present here waiting until we go up because it's heavy.

This forgetting-things thing could work to our advantage. If we were unscrupulous. Which, of course, we're not.

Autumn leaves

Sitting in the courtyard I noticed the early evening sun on the leaves of the tree that overhangs our garden (but that's another story). I couldn't capture the glow but I hope you get the idea.

You see? This is why I get stressed.

Instead of doing what I'm supposed to be doing i.e. writing articles, I'm stripping moss. And blogging about it. And in the grand scheme of things moss stripping doesn't rank high. In fact in just about any scheme of things moss stripping is at the bottom if it's there at all.

And when I step back and look at what I've done I realise:
a) I've only done a tiny bit of the courtyard;
b) I only know it's been done because I've done it. I mean, no-one else would come into the courtyard and exclaim, 'Oh my, what a moss-free courtyard you have!'

Oh, look! The blueberries I'm eating were grown by Mr Wilczewski in Poland. Ah, isn't that nice? Fiddle, it says to wash before use and I haven't showered yet today. Or washed the blueberries. Ah well, what's a bit of pesticide between friends - and I feel I know Mr Wilczewski enough to call him a friend.

I'm going to write now. About dogs and herbs.

My new career?

I wonder if there's a call for moss strippers with the personal touch.

Although I've already decided to give up being an administrator and writing in favour of becoming a 'Wise Woman of the Village'.

Now I know everything there is to know about herbs I've discovered the secret of life: sex and gingko biloba. So being a wise woman would be easy. Whatever anyone asked me I'd say, 'Are you getting enough sex?'

If the answer is yes then I'd say, 'Take gingko biloba'; if the answer's no I'd say, 'take gingko biloba.'

And if you want to live forever take my secret potion.

(As I know you won't tell anyone I'll share the recipe with you. Take a handful of grated ginger. Mix it with a handful of finely chopped garlic. Throw in a generous spoonful of ginseng and an even more generous spoonful of gingko biloba. Add half a pint of coconut milk, shake and serve chilled with an ice cube into which you have frozen thin slices of chilli. Drink daily until death.)

My name is Liz and I'm a ...

I didn't intend to get addicted but I suppose that's what they all say. It all began innocently enough with one weed. One little weed ...

I pulled it up from between the paving stones in our courtyard. A bit of moss came up with it. So I tugged at another bit and more moss came up. Soon I couldn't stop myself. I was pulling more and more.

My cup of tea went cold and I didn't care, not while there was moss to strip.

Husband said, 'Use a scraper; it'll be quicker,' but where's the fun in that?

I imagine it's the sort of task they would have given to lunatics in asylums in the old days - repetitive and mind-numbing. But, oh, the satisfaction when a really long strip comes up in one go. Just like wallpaper stripping, it gives you a warm fuzzy sense of achievement.

And to think it all started with one little weed.


I hate myself for so many reasons. My lack of will power, selfishness, hypocrisy, writing this post.

Husband said, 'Loving you doesn't make sense.' So he chooses not to think too much about it.

My life goes in cycles, rather like the seasons, except it leaps directly from balmy summer to the bleakness of the darkest winter's day.

Don't worry; I'll soon get over this. Too soon. I should learn from it but I never do.

Edit: Hate is too strong a word. I don't do extreme emotions. Regret is more like it.

Saturday, October 09, 2010


Younger Son and Girlfriend took us bowling last night. Girlfriend hadn't been before so I didn't come last.

Out of 3 games Husband won 2 and YS won 1 but YS had the highest score of the evening. Husband has lots of trophies for bowling, the result of his mis-spent youth. (Actually bowling was probably the healthiest part of his youth.) And he takes it very seriously, choosing his ball carefully and standing at the end of the run-up for ages, psyching himself up.

So the best part of the evening was when he followed his ball down the alley face first.

He blamed his shoes, claimed there was something sticky on the bottom. He also blamed them for his poor performance.

It was good fun though.

(Husband wants me to point out that YS only had the highest score by 1 point.)

Well, I woke up this morning

I woke up this morning feeling edgy. Feeling that life was taking me over. Too much to do, to many things I want to do and commit to, and not enough of me to do it. Feeling guilty for doing things and feeling guilty for not doing things.

Deep breath. Breathe in, and out, slowly.

Younger Son and Girlfriend are celebrating their first year together today and YS is cooking a meal tonight. So he wants us out of the way. We decided we'd go out for a meal but you would not believe how stressed a stressed person can get over deciding where to go. Still haven't decided. Will probably drive around until we come to a pub.

Deep breath. Breathe in, and out, slowly.

(Husband just came in and said, 'Let's go to Castellamare,' so that's settled.)

So not a very intelligent post today. What do you mean you don't come here for intelligence?

But here are a couple of images from an email I received today. The first one's very clever and I love the second one.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The loneliness of the long distance runner

See him?
Is this better?
George was more interested in his stick.

How long this time?

This morning - or maybe later depending on Royal Mail - the first three chapters and synopsis of my first novel will be landing on the desk of a publisher.

It's the first time I've submitted it anywhere for several years after receiving rejection after rejection after rejection. There are only so many times even the most confident of writers can cope with that. When I'd reached the stage of submitting just so I could see how long it would take to come back - and whether it would beat my record - I knew it was time to stop.

But I do still like my novel: it makes me laugh! And I've revamped it from a diary-style format to third person narrative, so we shall see.

I have another couple of projects on the go - a second novel and a biography - as well as website articles waiting to be written, including one on herbal sexual therapies. (If you have any experience of them and you're willing to tell me, confidentially and anonymously, I'd be pleased to receive. Is it safe to write that here? Will I be inundated with weirdos?)

So let's get writing!

After I've cleaned the bathroom.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

What is Auntie coming to?

A reporter on the BBC News at Ten just referred to someone as 'this bloke'. This bloke?!

Alvar Lidell would turn in his grave.

I blame GrandDaughter ... and Betty

I'm not one for flashy Christmas lights or musical seasonal gizmos so I put this aberration down to having a granddaughter. That and the fact that we'd just been to fetch Betty home after her terminal diagnosis and I needed cheering up.

On Sunday, when we went to The Range, Husband pointed out to me (that's an important point to bear in mind later) a black Christmas tree complete with falling snow! Now, that doesn't sound brilliant but it was really pretty - and on special offer. 'Where would we put it?' I asked. Common sense prevailed and we went home empty-handed.

Today, on my way back from collecting Betty I stopped off at The Range and bought one. I got home and Husband said, 'What?! I'm retired; we're supposed to be economising.' (His current mantra.)
'You said I could buy it.'
'No, I didn't.'
'Well, you said we could put it in the dining-room window.'
'That's not the same thing as saying you can buy it.'
'Well, you knew I was going to get it. I said I was going back to the shop.'
'I didn't know what you were going there for.'
'What else would I have been going there again for?'

Honestly, men.

GrandDaughter will love it; and so will George when he eats all the polystyrene snow.

I also couldn't resist this advent calendar with little wooden boxes to fill. I suspect GrandDaughter already has one so we'll have to keep this one here.
And it's just occurred to me that GrandDaughter is coming down just before her birthday at the end of November so we can put the snow tree up then. Snow trees aren't just for Christmas.

A proposal

I plucked up my courage to make a comment during the study and afterwards, as he was leaving, Martin said, 'I liked your comment.'
That coming from Martin, for whom I have a lot of respect, is praise indeed.

It takes me ages to summon up the courage to open my mouth. I have to plan and prepare carefully in my head what I'm going to say . And even then it often comes out wrong.

And what I say is always brief. (I can't remember long sentences!) Which makes me fairly intolerant of people who rabbit on, especially when it goes off the point. I stop listening. Which is why I'm not a good leader. By the time someone's finished talking I'm somewhere else, like what I did wrong with the brownies. (Cakes not small girls in uniforms.)

Incidentally Blossom suggested I should make my brownies deeper, cut off the crispy bit at the top and cover with melted galaxy. As an alternative I suggested heating a brownie and adding a large dollop of clotted cream. Blossom said, 'Marry me?'

That's the first marriage proposal I've had for ages!

A bible study!

Acts 19:23-41 Subtitled, the riot in Ephesus.

A few paragraphs about local tradesmen - who made their money out of making idols and souvenirs for tourists - rioting because so many people were becoming Christians that it was affecting their livelihood. And how the riot ended peaceably when the local Mayor or equivalent pointed out that the Christians hadn't actually broken the law or if anyone thought they had then it should be pursued through the courts.

So a bit of a non-event until you consider that in about three years, what started as a tiny group of Christians, in a town of maybe 200,000 people, had had such an effect that people weren't just started to talk but were up in arms.

Do we as Christians have that effect today?

Oh and, as the mayor pointed out, the Christians hadn't blasphemed against the Greek gods or damaged the temples. In fact they had befriended, and had the respect and support of, important local Greek officials.

Plenty of lessons for us. If we're willing to learn.

A normal night at Zac's

Where to begin?

With the fifteen-breasted goddess who fell from the sky?
With Blossum's dog who ate 16 bars of chocolate on Christmas Eve?
With Gerry blaming a power cut for both a first century riot and Sean's four children?
Or just a normal night at Zac's?

You've got to visit, really you have. My literary abilities aren't up to fully describing the wonder of a church for ragamuffins.

I love it.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Surrogate granny

Daughter tells me that her friend's mother, who lives in the same village, has offered to look after GrandDaughter for a couple of afternoons a week so Daughter can get back to work.

That's fine. It is really. It will be good for Daughter and it will be good for GrandDaughter as she will be with another little girl. And just because she will be spending time with someone else's granny doesn't mean that she won't love her own granny. Does it?

Betty Beetle is in hospital

She's been there for over a week now. Initially the prognosis was good: a few minor procedures and she'd be good as new. Further investigation has shown deep underlying conditions that require very major surgery. The consultant has advised us to think carefully about whether we want to put her through this.

Husband and I are hoping to meet him tomorrow to get a clearer picture but I think Husband has already made up his mind.

I am trying not to think about it.

Husband had a deprived childhood

There was lots of veg left over after Sunday dinner - truth be told I did extra so there would be - so I had fry-up for lunch today. (I get weighed Tuesday morning so have a bit of a blow-out for the rest of the day.) Husband is on a health kick and is eating bran flakes for lunch so I had to, positively had to, eat it all myself. A huge plateful. Although I did leave the roast potatoes and some parsnip for George.

I had pickled onions with it. And as I was putting the just-opened jar away I noticed that it had a Best Before date of 2nd October 2010. Best before for pickled onions? Surely the point of pickling is so that you can keep them? Load of nonsense.

And now I've got 2 trays of brownies cooking. I thought I'd better make extra as Younger Son and Girlfriend are now home too. As we all know, bowl-licking is calorie-free but as I was squeezing my tongue around the curves of the ladle Husband said, 'My mum never let us scrape the bowl. She said it gave you worms.'

Bowl scraping is one of the treats of childhood. I've done it all my life and I've never had worms. I bet she just said that so she could keep it all for herself.

What do you do with ...

this many green peppers?
And especially my favourite: little cold-nosed pepper.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The wedding of the year

Hulla and Bobo cutting their wedding cake - which survived the Royal Mail journey from Wales to Scotland. Don't they look gorgeous?

Mine's higher than yours

Husband and I synchronised pedometers at the start of circuit training; at the end his read 2205 while mine was on 3109.

Which suggests not that his, as he would claim, is broken, but that I worked harder.

Yay me!

I've developed a rattle

But it's not life-threatening. It's just the pedometer I'm wearing on my waist.

Several people in slimming class use them and when I mentioned it to Husband he reminded me that we had three in the drawer in the hall. It turned out all three needed batteries and Husband broke one trying to open it, leaving us with two that we had free from Walkers crisps.

I'm not sure how reliable or accurate they are. Husband wore one for his walk today and it recorded 7,000ish steps; the same walk last week took him 9,000ish steps. I said it was because he didn't do the tap dancing in the middle. He said, 'I don't do tap-danicng.'
Oh, no, that's me.

Recommendation is for 10,000 steps in a day. So far today, after being in work, I've done 4,756 but I have circuit training tonight so I should just about make my target. Not good for those days when I'm not in some sort of exercise class though. Although I walk George more then.

One of the ladies in slimming class wears her down her cleavage.

Would I wear anything outrageous?

Ffion said, 'You're not going to wear anything outrageous for my baptism, are you?'
'I was thinking, maybe, bikini?'
'As long as you wear it under your clothes.'

I don't even have a bikini. On the other hand, I could go for the Miss Wet T-shirt look ...

Saturday, October 02, 2010

I am very excited!

Two weeks tomorrow I'll be helping to baptise Ffion!

I am so thrilled that she asked me and feel very honoured and privileged to be part of her special day. Her Roman Catholic friend, whose name is Emma I believe, is helping too and the three of us are meeting with Chris tomorrow after church to talk about it. Chris, as well as being employed by the church and thus my boss, is part of the leadership team, and he has some reservations about Ffion's choice of people to baptise her.

I can understand his concern: putting me in a large stone pool full of water is an accident waiting to happen. I would hate to inadvertently drown someone.

Ffion, who is a very intelligent girl, has already promised me chocolate if I bring her back up out of the water so taking care will be definitely be my priority.

I asked Ffion why she hadn't chosen A to baptise her; she said that, in her Christian 'walk' (yuck, jargon, sorry!) she hadn't been very influenced by A.
'You mean I have had had an influence on you?' I asked, slightly concerned by this revelation.
'Well, it seems to work for you.'

Very perceptive. Yes, I suppose that's about right. I'm not one of these very emotional, (should-be-)carried-away, experiential Christians. A very unobvious Christian in fact. Laden with doubts, questions, lack of answers. To quote U2, I still haven't found what I'm looking for, but what I have found works for me.

I'd love an amazing damascus road experience that changed me dramatically into ... just a better person would do for a start, but if that never happens, I'll hang on in there, partly because it's worth it and partly because I can't see any alternative.

So ... that should give Chris plenty of ammunition should he need it.

P.S. I've just remembered that sometimes people take seriously what I write on here. So I suppose I should make it clear that Chris doesn't really think I'll drown anyone. He just wants to talk to us ...

P.P.S Spoke to Chris: everything is fine. Baptism goes ahead as arranged. All I have to do now is remember the words ...