Friday, September 30, 2011

Mm, that's better

Praline pecan and honeycomb. Uh-mm.

Natural born something but not a housewife

When walking George I saw a woman cleaning her fascias with soapy water and a mop on a stick.

If I lived to be 99 the idea that I should do such a thing would never enter my head.

I used to give a lift to a young woman who lived with her parents. One day she told me that they were on holiday so she was cleaning the skirting boards as a surprise for them.

Clean the skirting boards?

I'm suffering from post traumatic stress

I'm not really and I'm not belittling the severity of the condition, it's just that when I was walking George after work it occurred to me that it was an apt description for what I was feeling.

Through Husband's first pains, the diagnosis, hospital admission, the will-he won't-he have an operation, the operation and the immediate recovery period I was fine; in fact I wasn't even worried, which maybe I should have been according to the report mentioned in my previous post. But this afternoon it feels as if I've been holding my breath for two weeks and someone has suddenly said, 'You can let it out now,' and it's foul and cumbersome.

I know people have to suffer much worse and for longer periods but, tough, this is my blog so I'm entitled to have a little grumble. Anyway this is all just so I can justify buying more chocolate. Or, oh yes, we'll drive to Verdi's this evening, and eat ice cream sitting on the prom!

I feel better already.

Never on a Sunday - or a Saturday

If Husband has any fault to find with his medical treatment it's the fact that the GP who saw him in the early hours of the first Saturday morning didn't admit him to hospital straightaway. However, having heard a report on the BBC news last night, he's rethinking that complaint.

According to the Royal College of Surgeons of the 170,000 people who undergo emergency non-cardiac operations in a year, 25,000 will die, and if it's emergency abdominal surgery then you're talking highest mortality rates. The report also says that 'the chance of a patient dying in a UK hospital is 10% higher if they are admitted at a weekend rather than during the week.'

So maybe it's a good thing that the first GP just gave him paracetamol and sent him home.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

ABC Wednesday - K

Swansea marina with Kilvey Hill in the background.
To take part in ABC Wednesday go here.

Parlez-vous Francais?

Younger Son has started his new job in Devon. It's not an ideal job but it's work and he gets paid so it's fine. Trouble is the job is full-time and he's only just heard from the university that he needs to do 2 taught modules during the first year of his PhD. He could have coped with doing his own research in the evenings and at weekends but he won't be able to attend regular university lectures. As a result he's decided to postpone starting his PhD until next year in the hope that he can get funding that will enable him to give up his job. He's being very sensible even though he's disappointed.

I was telling someone this and their response made me think about education and its value.

Husband and I both went to university as did all three of our children. We took it for granted that they would want to. On the whole the people we mix with have done some sort of further education and the question that gets asked is not, 'is your child applying to university?' which goes without saying, but rather, 'is your child applying for Oxbridge?'

We still like to think that a degree helps you get a better job in your chosen subject although that's a bit of a fallacy these days with just getting a job being a struggle, but a university - or other - education is more than that.

Education and learning for the sake of it is equally valid I believe. Not just for those who will go on to make a tremendous difference in the world through their invention or their art, but just because. It's the reason old age pensioners learn how to send emails or get degrees in their 80s; it's why adult evening classes in French, art history and flower-arranging are so well-attended.

So when someone says to me, 'It'll do him good to join the real world,' I bite my tongue and pray that Younger Son clings onto his dream and brings it to fruition.

The end of the world

Outnumbered is one of the few television programmes we watch and it's usually on on a Friday evening. This week it's on tonight. I said to Husband, 'Why is it on tonight? Is it the end of the world tomorrow and no-one's told me?'
'No, that's not until 20th December, 2012,' he said.
'What?! How do you know?'
'It says in Wikipedia and, more importantly, Dan Brown says so.'
'And his credibility rating after The Da Vinci Code is sky-high so it must be true!'

But I can't allow it to happen and for a very good reason.

My friend, Carol, who reads this blog, was born the same year as me but not until late in December. If the world ends on 20th December, 2012, we shall go through eternity with her as 59 and me as 60. I cannot have that. Who do I have to apply to to have it changed?

We could be in the south of France

If it weren't for Swansea docks in the distance. Husband decided he could manage a short stroll along the prom and back through the marina this afternoon, en route to the library. Although the promenade looks empty here there were lots of people enjoying the late sunshine on the sandy beach. I can't help feeling these fishermen have a long wait ahead of them though ...

What good news?

We've started looking at the gospel of Mark in the tribal gathering at Zac's on Tuesday evenings. I missed the first one (had to go hospital visiting for some reason) but was there this week. We take our time going through the study so we'd reached chapter 1, verse 14, where Mark talks about the calling of the first disciples. Sean suggested that Mark's would be the equivalent of the tabloid version of the gospel; he tells short snappy stories and doesn't mess around with analysis.

The thing that struck me most about this reading was in the first verse, which said that Jesus went into Galilee 'proclaiming the good news of God'.

Good news can be a hackneyed or clichéd phrase in Christian circles. It's one that we standardly use but I don't think the sense of it had really struck me before. The good news of God. That was Jesus' mission on earth: to proclaim the good news of God. Not to threaten or terrify with tales of a angry unforgiving god but to demonstrate the loving forgiveness of God.

But if the news is so good why is it that the message is roundly scorned by millions? Why are the messengers mocked, abused and still today tortured and killed? (Actually I think the reason for state persecution is rather different from the reasons why your average Christian in Britain is avoided or laughed at by the man in the street.) Why does the mention of Christianity stir up strong emotions, sarcastic argument and even downright rudeness?

Sadly, I fear it's because of the messengers.

My first thoughts on Tuesday evening were that it's because of the ones in power who misuse that power or who give out the wrong message, sometimes in what they preach, more often in how they live. Too many church leaders don't demonstrate Jesus; but then again, too many Christians don't. It's not just the fault of the ones who appear in the media when they screw up big time; it's the responsibility of all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus to live up to what we proclaim, to demonstrate the good news of God.

Later in that paragraph in Mark's gospel Jesus tells the first disciples to 'follow me'. Not believe in me or pray to me or use my name as an excuse, but follow me. In other words, copy me, do what you will see me do. Which was, take the side of the underdog, defend the poor, feed the hungry, love the unlovely, and stand up to hypocrisy. (The only time Jesus used harsh words was to the hypocrites.)

But it's flipping hard. We're human and imperfect. There are so many times I've wished I hadn't done something or hadn't said something, or I've regretted not saying or doing what I knew I could have, should have. I hesitated about writing 'should have' then as God isn't about shoulds or shouldn'ts. He knows my weaknesses better than I do myself - and I think I'm pretty honest with myself - and hopes for our best but forgives our less-than.

So I suppose what I took from the study was not something new but a different perspective on it. I'll continue to try - and often fail - but I don't want to be someone's excuse for not even looking at Jesus.

Man recuperating

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A 'love'ly worm cast

Gower in late September

If you enlarge this photo you'll see the bikini-ed sunbathers on Langland.

I just realised that I haven't told you that Husband came home from hospital yesterday. He's very fragile but happy to be home. I tried to persuade him to come for a walk with us this morning - meaning he could sit outside the cafe while we walked around the cliffs - but he decided he'd rather sit in the sun in the garden.

Not entirely a duff decision as it was like Debenhams on a sale day around the cliffs. I've said it before but I'll say it again: you get a much nicer class of person walking the cliffs when it's a miserable day. Best of all is when it's wet, wild and windy. Then you get the loopy ones who grin while saying, 'better batten down the hatches,' and 'lovely weather for ducks,' and the like. I kept smiling cheerily and greeting fellow walkers and only poked my tongue out at those who ignored me.

What was slightly perplexing is that some who blanked me said hello to George. It's not as if I were looking particularly scruffy: I could even have shown them my knickers matching my t-shirt if they'd asked. But nobody asked.

As it's still September George wasn't allowed on Langland but when we got back to Limeslade and it was empty we decided we'd risk law-breaking so George could cool down in the sea. A decision that George agreed with wholeheartedly.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Liz's Lovelies

Wales had a convincing win over Namibia this morning. I use the word 'convincing' in the way that commentators use it meaning they whopped them.

I was a little confused when I started watching the game - it was 7.30 am - as all the Namibian players were white. Isn't Namibia in Africa? I had to google it at half time. It is but just next to South Africa so I suppose there is the same Boer influence. Wales had more black players. (Is black p.c.? I can't remember.)

Anyway almost all the Welsh players managed to get onto the score sheet - except the ones in my Fantasy team. By the way, I should explain that I don't mean these are the players about whom I fantasise (Dan Carter excepted) but players who feature in my team in the Fantasy Rugby League (current position of Liz's Lovelies in the league: 43,854th).

Overheard in Mens' Surgical

Visiting Husband in the mens' surgical ward it's almost impossible not to overhear snippets of conversation.

'He's got a rectum but no intestine. Just a rectum.' (I'm still puzzling over this one: why not sew it up? Otherwise things could go ... oh, I think I won't dwell on this.)
'I've got thrush on the end of my penis.'
'Oh look! There's a little bit of poo coming into the bag now!'
'No, he hasn't farted yet so he has to have soup.'

Really, there are some things that should be kept between a man and his doctor. As I'm leaving the ward I make a point of studying the floor: I don't want eye contact with Gutless Man. (Fortunately Thrushman was discharged the next day.)

Husband is much improved in that he's sitting in the chair and eating a little. I got it wrong when I said he'd had a bit of intestine removed. What happened - and I may have got this wrong too - was that the scar tissue from his appendectomy 30 years ago gradually grew, creeper-like, and entwined itself around his intestine, causing it be squeezed. The surgeon was able to remove this without cutting into the intestine itself.

I'm not entirely happy with this idea of alien life spreading thus inside Husband. It sounds altogether too Hollywood. If his head starts spinning I will not be amused.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Can you hear my teeth being ground?

Remember how I got up at 6 am to record the rugby for Husband?

Well, it turned out that he watched it from his bed in hospital.

It's fine. I am not in the least put out. Honestly.

This could be why I can never find anything in my handbag

So I've sorted it out and only put back the stuff I really need. Like my glasses. And a spare old pair in case I forget my glasses. And a pen. And a spare in case. And a notebook and my purse. And some paracetamol in case, as well as my prayer pebble, to remind me to pray. Not that I need much reminding at the moment. And GrandDaughter's book for emergencies.

I probably don't need the Springsteen cd, conkers, a tape measure, doggy bags or several pay slips. Not to mention numerous out-of-date Sainsburys vouchers, nail strengthener, Husband's MP3 player or empty mint packets.

I love technology

Nine o'clock and I'm on my third pot of tea of the morning.

Husband had his operation yesterday morning. A big incision running down his abdomen and a chunk of intestine removed, but it appears that nothing nasty or suspicious was found. When I saw him last night his eyesight was blurry; the young doctor seemed to think it was a side effect of the anaesthetic, so, hopefully, it will quickly right itself. The doctor also said that he could hear a heart murmur. But he was quite young and nervous-looking so, again hopefully, if there was one it will right itself soon.

Husband was still a little groggy and high on morphine but he managed to tell me what changes I had to make to his Fantasy rugby team before this morning's games. And give me strict instructions to make sure I recorded the England game.

So, wouldn't you know it, last night was the night the digibox decided not to work. Elder Son suggested switching it off and on again, which I did. Several times. It stuttered into life but still wouldn't let me set it to record.

Thus I was up at 6 this morning to manually set it, and hence my three pots of tea.

Such love. It's a good job I have these lovely sunny sunflowers - a gift from Sean and Jayne - to cheer me up. They also gave me a large bar of chocolate - that I ate last night. All of it. And delicious it was too.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Call the ball engineer!

A number of goal kickers, including stars like Dan Carter and Johnny Wilkinson, in the rugby world cup have missed what would normally be, for them, routine kicks and as a result there've been complaints about the balls. A new type of ball is being used but it's not completely new to the players: it was used in both the Six and Tri Nations tournaments.

The Rugby Board has announced itself satisfied with the new ball. They said, 'Every ball sent over for the tournament has been hand checked by our Ball Engineer.'

Ball Engineer? They have Ball Engineers?
'What do you do for a living?'
'Oh I'm a ball engineer.'

I wonder if they do degree courses in ball engineering.

* * * * * * * * *

Officials are being labelled 'kiltjoys' for their refusal to allow bagpipes to be played at Scotland's games.

* * * * * * * * *

A painting of Jesus as an All Black was sold almost as soon as it went on display in St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral in Wellington.

And a man who erected 15 flagpoles in his garden to support the All Blacks caused a power cut when he damaged cables.

Medical updates

Husband is worse again today. As I write this, at 10.00 pm on Thursday night, I'm waiting to hear if the surgeon has decided to operate tonight or tomorrow or not.

On the positive side, Daughter had her 20-week scan today and all is well and growing as it should. They decided not to find out the sex of the baby and I'm pleased about that.

On a less pleasant side, tomorrow I go for my routine mammogram. Boobs squeezed between 2 metal plates until you think they can't can't squeeze them any more. And then they do. Joy.

Shall phone the hospital now. No reply. Will try again later.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ABC Wednesday - J

One of the surnames you'll hear most often in Wales is Jones, Tom Jones for example. Duncan Jones, Wales and Ospreys rugby player, is another. We spotted him bowling and I asked him to pose with Younger Son (right).
The particularly interesting thing about this is that the traditional Welsh alphabet doesn't include the letter J. It has 28 letters and, yes, the double letters count as one in crosswords for example:
a, b, c, ch, d, dd, e, f, ff, g, ng, h, i, l, ll, m, n, o, p, ph, r, rh, s, t, th, u, w, y

J is sometimes included in Welsh dictionaries now because it's used in words that we have 'borrowed' from English, such as jam or jar or garej.

So if there's no J in the alphabet how come there are so many Joneses in Wales?

Jones isn't of Welsh origin so to solve this mystery we have to go back through the centuries.

In 1536 England and Wales were united politically and the Acts of Union prohibited the use of the Welsh language and required all official documents to be written in English. Common Welsh names like Ioan or Ieuan or Sion were sometimes written down as John or Jones, those being the English names that sounded most similar.

So that's why we have so many Joneses without a J.

But, tell me, now are you surprised that there is some antipathy between the Welsh and their English invaders?

To take part in ABC Wednesday go here.

Or was it Sir Lancelot Spratt?

George is the one who should be in hospital with a blockage considering what he eats. I've just done poo clearing and in the last couple of days he's passed two plastic bags.

Meanwhile Husband must be getting better; he's blaming me for his problems now. 'You shouldn't feed me so much.'
'You don't have to eat it.'
'I do if you give it to me.'

And, of course, he has to eat all the left-overs and the snacks and the nuts during rugby games and ...

(He was looking much better this afternoon although he's not had any solid food yet and that will be the test.)

I went to the hospital shop to get him a drink and I was scampering down the corridor when Hattie Jacques' Matron's voice shouted in my head, 'No running in corridors, nurse!' It's a bit much when you're told off by a Carry On character.

Needless to say I stopped running.

To explain why I was watching Jeremy Kyle

Husband was admitted to hospital on Monday morning with an intestinal blockage. The GP got very excited and said, 'Can I go and fetch some students to listen to your stomach?'

Since then he's been in hospital on a paracetamol drip and oxygen with tubes everywhere. He hasn't eaten since Friday (and has been very sick since) and has only been able to sip drops of water. As you can imagine he is very uncomfortable, weak and tired. Today they think things might be clearing up of their own accord so an operation won't be necessary and they're trying him with a little food.

Meanwhile the consultant surgeon tells the nurses to 'watch out for that man's wife: she's a nutcase.' I mean, have you ever known me to do anything that could classify me as such? I mean, it wasn't entirely my fault that I sat in the wrong waiting-room watching Jeremy Kyle when I could have been elsewhere with Husband. Mostly my fault. Or possibly totally but hospitals are confusing places.

By the way, the consultant surgeon is also one of of our church leaders ...

I'm da man!

After days of rain it was wonderful to walk from Brandy Cove to Pwll Du this morning. So good I had to frolic.
Halfway along the path George hissed, 'Psst, stop skipping!'
'I'm not skipping; I'm galloping.'
'Whatever, just stop. There's someone coming.'
'Is he skipping?'
'Everyone should be skipping on a day like this.'
'You might think that,' George said, with the you definitely in italics, 'but not everyone is like you.'
'Did you say thank goodness then? Under your breath?'
He shrugged.
'This is fine talk from a dog who eats horse poo and is scared of bendy gates.'
'What's that got to do with anything?'
'Um ...' My mouth struggled to come up with some words. George waited then raised his eyebrows in that way he does and we carried on our walk, both convinced that we'd won the argument. (Although secretly I think George came out better.)
We had the beach to ourselves. George was especially pleased as it meant no-one was there to see me do my 'Who's the man? I'm the man' song and dance after I'd successfully leapt onto a log in the middle of the stream and safely onto the other side.

It was a lovely walk.

Monday, September 19, 2011

In which I see Jeremy Kyle for the first time

I saw Jeremy Kyle for the first time this morning (for reasons I'll explain in a later post). I am appalled! Do they pay huge amounts of money to get people on the show? Although there wouldn't be enough money in the world to make up for that humiliation. And is it mandatory for the woman to go off weeping at some point? And for the man to believe he's God's gift to women?

Then I saw a bit of some Morning programme with Philip Schofield. They were doing a piece about a gypsy encampment that is being moved on or something. They had a traveller who was quietly spoken, articulate and polite; and they had a rabid councillor who I swear was foaming at the mouth.

The traveller made some dubious claims, which the councillor could have reasonably disputed. As it was any viewers like me who could see both sides of the argument would surely have come down on the travellers' side after listening to both.

Morning television was an education. Who watches it? And why?!

The cheeky magpie not to mention the dog

This bird and his friends try to steal George's food when we scatter it all over the courtyard (as suggested by George's therapist). And poor George is so busy looking for the food morsels that he doesn't notice the thieving magpies. Now wonder he's tried to escape three times in the last four days.

I say 'tried' when actually I mean he's escaped. Husband found his escape route and blocked it. Not to be deterred George dug a hole in the fence. That's blocked up now but still he managed to escape yesterday. We haven't found that hole yet.

He hasn't had this wanderlust for ages and he can rid himself of it again as soon as he likes. I'm fed up of walking the streets calling him. Everyone in the neighbourhood knows his name. I find myself sneaking around the garden after him when he goes out to wee, and hiding behind bushes, hoping I can catch him in the act of escaping.

It's quite strange because we originally saw the therapist because he didn't like going out through the front gate. Now he'll go out through any means possible.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Going back to Pink Floyd

The fact that they sing, 'We don't need no education,' suggests to me that they do. Or are they being ironic?

Am I thinking too much?

No exaggeration

Husband likes to - frequently - remind me and anyone who listens how I made him stay up all night when I was in labour with Daughter. 'It was all right for you,' he says. 'You had a bed and you could sleep.' (Through labour?) 'I had to sit on a hard chair all night.'
Next time he does that I shall mention the time he kept me in a hospital waiting room all night -okay, it was only an hour but I can exaggerate as well as he - when he had a little bit of an upset tummy.

Not to mention the time he was rushed off to hospital with appendicitis in the middle of the night leaving me with two screaming babies to get back to sleep.

Oh yes, I can exaggerate with the best of them.

In which I conquer a fear

I was walking in the woods with George today when I realised something: I am scared of exaggeration. (But not any more you see.)

I was, as is my wont, writing a blog post in my head as I walked and it was fine until I came to the bit where I had to say 'exaggerate'.
'I'll have to think of a different word,' I said to George. 'I can't spell exaggerate.'
'So you're going to run away from it?' he asked.
'Yes. That action has stood me in good stead in the past.'
'Wouldn't it be easier to learn how to spell it?'
('Oh, I can spell "it"! Boom boom!)

I stopped mid track. Learn how to spell exaggerate? Is that asking too much of a woman of my age? Can I do it? I can but try.
'Thank you, George, that is excellent advice. I shall look up exaggerate in my trusty Chambers dictionary when I get home.'

Exaggerate. It's easy: 2 gs, 1 x and 1 r. And it stays that way for exaggeration too.

Are there any words you're scared of?

Me, Pink Floyd and a hospital waiting room

It all began at about 9.15 last night when Husband suddenly groaned, 'Oh, my stomach.'

I'll fast forward through the 'excruciating pain' and the trip across Swansea to Morriston Hospital where Husband is 'sicker than I've ever been in my life before' to getting back to bed at 3.30 am, being unable to sleep and composing blog posts in my head.

Who, I wonder, made the decision to play Pink Floyd music videos on the television in the hospital waiting room? If I'd been feeling ill before I'd have been positively suicidal after sitting there for an hour.

Maybe it was a tactical decision, a way of reducing hospital waiting lists (Yes, I know this isn't the waiting they mean when they say that): nobody who's not seriously ill will stay here out of choice. I never liked Pink Floyd when I was young; I certainly don't like them now.

Husband is feeling a bit better but washed out this morning. I remarked that it was similar to the stress-related stomach bouts I used to have in my teens and twenties.
'Oh no, it was much worse than that!'
'Of course it was, dear.'

But Husband has been worrying a lot about Younger Son and Fiancée and how they'll cope financially. I'm a romantic; I say, 'They're young, poor and in love; they'll manage.' Husband is much more pragmatic.

Right now I'm too busy worrying about Wales playing Samoa tomorrow morning, a game they have to win to maintain any realistic hope of getting through the World Cup qualifiers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

In memory of the four Welsh miners who died

In 1928, while appearing in Showboat in the West End in London, Paul Robeson met a group of miners who had walked from South Wales to draw attention to the suffering of the hundreds of unemployed miners and their families. He visited and sang in South Wales many times after that.

In every year from 1952-57 he was invited to sing at the Miners’ Eistedfodd but was unable to because the American government had withdrawn his passport because of his left-wing and anti-racist views but in 1957, via a secret transatlantic telephone link, he was finally able to participate.

In 1958 at a reception given in his honour by the South Wales National Union of Miners he said, ‘You have shaped my life. I have learnt a lot from you.’

All through the night is a traditional Welsh lullaby, also known as Ar hyd y nos. The words Robeson sings of the second verse aren't the usual ones but seem particularly fitting tonight.

Sleep my love and peace attend thee,
All through the night.
Guardian angels God will lend thee,
All through the night.
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping,
Hill and vale in slumber sleeping,
Now the Lord his watch is keeping
All through the night.

Love to thee my thoughts are turning,
All through the night.
And for thee my heart is yearning,
All through the night.
Though sad fate our lives may sever,
Parting will not last for ever,
There's a hope that leaves me never
All through the night.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Poo today, gone tomorrow

Since I haven't manage to work out how George escaped this morning I'm watching him when he's in the garden.

So this evening George is sitting on the front step; I'm in the study keeping an occasional eye on him. (Can one have an occasional eye?) It's getting dark and suddenly I notice he's not there. I leap up and peer out of the window.

George is pooing but my sudden movement makes him turn his head and look at me. When he's finished I call him in and as he comes through the door he is muttering, 'Isn't a dog allowed to poo in peace these days?'

'Huh!' I say, 'You know what it will be though: poo today, gone tomorrow.'

I fall about laughing at my own 'joke'. It's a good job I make myself laugh; I don't make anybody else.

There is a certain inevitability about my life

If it is possible for something stupid to be done I will do it.

There is a place on the river near the end of our walk where the river widens and it's one of George's favourite swimming places. Strangely for a wood, there are rarely any sticks to be found there so, today, a long time before we reached this point I spotted and picked up a good stick.

There is a tree at the edge of the bank and in a storm one of its large branches broke off and now leans against the tree resting in the river. The point where it rests against the tree is a little above my head height. Standing maybe 2 feet away from this tree I threw the stick I'd carefully carried with me for so long.

It got stuck in the branch.

This is what I mean about inevitability. I sighed; George looked at me and shook his head sadly.

And then there was yesterday.

For once I noticed before it started beeping that my phone was low on power. I rummaged around to find the charger and pulled the wire and ... oops, that wasn't supposed to happen.

And then there was this morning.

Husband is visiting his father but I stayed here to catch up on stuff, which is what I was doing i.e. blogging, when George went outside. Some time later it occurred to me that he'd been out there for quite a while.
'George,' I wandered round the garden, in my nightie, calling.

He was gone. All the gates closed but he'd got out somehow.

It's the first time he's escaped for ages but he managed to get a fair distance before he was spotted. A man in a car pulled up beside me as I wandered along, lead in hand, muttering to myself.
'Have you lost a dog?' he said. 'He's along the road up there.'
'Thank you. I'm going to shoot him.'

I finally found him sticking his nose in a fortunately empty rubbish bin.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baptisms on the beach

Apologies for the noise of the wind!

If you can't trust a horse whom can you trust?

George is a wimp.

Today we followed a path we used to use regularly but haven't been on for ages. George normally bounces ahead but on paths that are unfamiliar or a little overgrown he hangs back and does his 'I'll watch your back' trick, which doesn't fool me: I know he'd just rather it was me that gets eaten by the gruffalo and not him.

At the top of the hill having safely manoeuvred past potential monsters including a feeding trough and a log - walks for George are full of hazards - we stopped to talk to some horses. I said to one, 'You're a fatty; are you pregnant?' She nodded. Then I said, 'This one's a handsome fellow; is he the daddy?' And she nodded again.

But when we walked on a little I discovered that she was lying to me! She wasn't a pregnant mare, just a fat boy.

At least I think she was. She/he had a flappy bit, which could have been indicative of you know, something.

My education is sadly lacking. I wonder if I should do an animal husbandry course. Or perhaps there's a gender identification course, which would be all I'd need.

Now I'd better get the potato from the top of the gate post.

What a brilliant night!

We had a fantastic night of baptisms in Swansea bay. The weather was ... perfect. Yes, it could have been sunnier and hotter and less windy but to quote Sean,
... had a great evening baptizing some of our folks from Zac's in the ocean last night - cold wind, choppy waves, turning tide, full moon, sun setting - hugely symbolic of life amidst stormy waters. Strong rips that push you around, but a determination to battle through. A real milestone for all those involved and much to be thankful for ...
Sadly I didn't get to go into the water (I think it was sadly: it was flipping cold!) as my lady didn't turn up. We found out later that she had the best and worst of reasons for not being there: she was in hospital where her daughter is on life support. Please pray for April and her daughter. She just doesn't need any more tragedy in her life.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

ABC Wednesday - I

I'm pushing a little today with my choice for the letter I. (In my defence, may I say that 'i' isn't used much in Welsh.)

So I'm going for Iron and Industrial Revolution. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales is a monument to the Industrial revolution as it was one of the earliest aqueducts to use a cast iron trough. It took 10 years to build and was opened in 1805. It's 39 metres above the river Dee and carries water to Cheshire. Canal boats travel across it and there's a footpath too.
I tried to walk across it but had to turn back very quickly! Too scary. I was fine when we crossed it in the canal boat though.
You see the footpath and the railings on the right of the boat in the photo and nothing on the left! It's a long way down!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The moment when I seriously thought I could be losing my mind

I had a birthday card to post today so, when I was on my way to work and I spotted a postman collecting letters from the postbox, I stopped the car and got out. As I was crossing the road to take my letter to the box he locked it and began to walk away. At that point what I should have done is said, 'Excuse me!'

What I did was squeak. My panicky 'eueuh, eeuh, oeoh,' squeak.

It worked though. He stopped and took my card. I just left feeling a bit silly.

Anyway I got to work and was in need of a cup of tea so put the kettle on, got the teapot and the teabag ready, found a mug I liked (I'm very particular about the shape of the mug I use), went to the fridge to get the milk to discover - shock horror - there was none there.

I couldn't believe it: there is always milk in work left over from the Sunday morning. I opened the fridge several times just to make sure I hadn't missed it but it definitely wasn't there. I sighed and poured myself some squash.

Later on I had to begin battling with the website and I really couldn't do that without tea so I popped to the shop. I was only gone five minutes and when I got back I put some milk in my cup and then took the carton to the fridge, opened it and - found a carton already in there!

There were no cars in the car park but I crept into the hall and looked around. There was no obvious sign or sound of anyone. I returned to the fridge and looked again: definitely two cartons there.

And this was the moment when I seriously wondered if I might be losing my mind.

Monday's Odd Shots

It seems I'm better at growing things in my pantry than in my garden!
For Katney's Odd Shots.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

He's leaving home, bye bye

Fiancée has found herself a part-time job in Paignton Zoo beginning tomorrow so today they packed up to go and stay temporarily with Daughter until they get the go-ahead to move into the apartment they found yesterday. And Younger Son will continue to look for work to support himself while starting his PhD in Plymouth.

So finally my baby is leaving home. When he's gone in the past it's been to university or to work abroad and he's always been coming back. This time it's different. He's starting a new life and this time next year we'll be in Italy getting ready for the wedding. When he comes home in future it will be to visit.

I hope all our children will always think of this as their home but second not first. It's a strange feeling but watching them - all of them - take the next exciting steps in their lives is satisfying too. It's all we really want I suppose, to see them happily settled with good partners and making their own lives. It's what we've brought them up to do and I hope given them a stable foundation from which to step.

But I'll still miss my baby!

I shouldn't have done that

I thought I'd take a drive down to the bit of sea front that the baptism is happening from on Tuesday. This is what greeted me.
On Tuesday the sea level will be higher, the highest in September in fact. We'd better hope it's calmed down a bit by then!

Although if we just go along the prom a bit it comes to an end and the beach begins. Because of the shape of the bay the waves are always smaller in that direction as well so it'll be fine. And anyway it's going to be a lovely calm evening on Tuesday. No worries. Although I confess I did yelp a tad as I was driving towards the Civic Centre and I could see the waves lashing over the promenade ...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Sunday matinee

Today - Saturday - I've watched rugby, cleaned the bathroom, ironed ALL afternoon and prepared a roast dinner.

And I was thinking back to when I were a girl of maybe 10 or 12 and Sunday afternoons were spent watching the film on television, usually a musical or cowboy. Everyone, even hard-working granny, sat down on a Sunday afternoon and relaxed. We don't do that any more. Oh we walk George of a Sunday afternoon and that's very lovely but to sit down in the middle of the day and watch a film - when you're not ill - is an unheard-of luxury.

I'd planned the roast for tomorrow but found out that Younger Son and Fiancée won't be here then so decided to have it today. It turned out Fiancée was working so it was just the three of us anyway. Younger Son was miserably silent, depressed because he's failing to find employment to support himself when he begins his PhD. I tried to get him to take a more positive attitude while Husband sat and chomped down his dinner.

At the end, of what I have to say was a very nice Sunday roast, did Husband say, 'Yum, that was nice, dear'? Did he heckaslike. He said, 'That was too much.'
'You didn't have to eat it all.'
'I did if it was on my plate. It's your fault for giving me too much.'

Just wait. When YS and Fiancée move out we'll be living on beans on toast; then he'll be sorry.

Oh no he's not!

After lunch Husband was looking at the latest theatre brochure and he mentioned the pantomime this year features special 3D effects.
'Oh!' I cried. 'We'll have to go and see that!'
Husband looked at me slowly and then said, 'It's the theatre: it's all 3D. You can't get more 3D.'

Okay, well, little Jimmy Osmond's in it so we'll have to go. I still remember seeing ... whatisname? Jess Conrad! Do you remember him? He was gorgeous. I don't recall which panto it was though.

I love the panto. I am so looking forward to having grandchildren old enough to go. And maybe we should go this year to get some 'He's behind you' shouting practice in.

P.S. I just checked the Jess Conrad website; apparently he was Jack in Puss in Boots in Swansea.

Friday, September 09, 2011

The approach of hurricane katia

Next Tuesday is going to be a very special day for four of Zac's regulars: three men and one woman are being baptised.

I asked Sean who was going to be doing the baptising, willing him with all my might to ask me to be involved. He said, 'Do you fancy helping to baptise April?'
'I would LOVE to help baptise April.'

At dusk. In the sea. At high tide. Approaching the very high tides of the autumn equinox. With the remnants of Hurricane Katia forecast to be hitting our shores. Hmmm.

Afterwards I analysed my motives for wanting to help. I realised it was more to do with me and my need to be thought of worth and value, not to mention the blogging material it would provide. So then I began to think about the person who is really important.

In today's society, we judge people. We assign worth to them on numerous doubtful grounds. But God's grace is free; no-one has to earn it or deserve it. I didn't and neither does April, yet if I view her in human terms if there was anyone who is more deserving of God's grace than April I would like to meet her. April has been to hell and back, literally dying three times. I've told a little of her story before and gradually as I learn more and more of the life she's ... suffered I stand in awe.

She has come to know the God who saved her life and who has a reason for that. And when she goes under the sea and comes up again on Tuesday she'll be demonstrating the wonder of God's love and power to bring about change.

I can't wait!

Let's get the flock out of Blaenymaes

Sean was back in Zac's on Tuesday. Big sighs of relief all round. He phoned me earlier in the day to find out how far we'd got and because he'd read my blog posts and was worried about me.

I was able to tell him that I felt much better than I had when I'd got home the previous week and I'd even managed to write a parable based on what I was given.

And someone suggested that we write our own parables as well so I did that too. Unfortunately no-one else remembered ...

Both those parables can be found here if you're interested.

The difference between the English and the Welsh

When asked for their predictions for their teams' progress in the 2011 Rugby World Cup the English fan said, 'I don't think we'll get to the final'; the Welsh fan said, 'I'll be glad if we get through the first stage.'

First game for England tomorrow and for Wales on Sunday. England has an easy group; Wales has a hard group. Well, in theory it shouldn't be that hard but we have Fiji and Samoa and both have caused us problems in the past.

But the past is gone; this is today.

The Welsh team is fitter than it's ever been. If we can just get the line-out sorted ...

By the way, that's a purely extraneous photo of Dan Carter (New Zealand All Blacks).

Monday, September 05, 2011

I'm very excited

I have a new rolling pin!
It's super long - for rolling icing to cover cakes - and doesn't have a broken handle. When I told Husband I'd ordered a new one he said, 'What's wrong with the old one?'
'You mean apart from the fact that I inherited it so have had it at least 35 years and it's been broken for as long as I can remember?'

We also have a new camera but that's less exciting because it's the same as the old one only different. And it doesn't have the scratch/blurry bit in the sunshine. Oh, yes, and it has sat nav. I mean GPS. I asked Husband if that meant we could find out where it was if we lost it but apparently it doesn't work like that.

Bee on flower - is what it says in the title

Monday's Odd Shots

It's usual to see a milk bottle on a doorstep but an iron?

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Devon through the seasons

Traumatising children

It wasn't intentional.

I should make that clear from the start although I know that you know that I wouldn't deliberately traumatise GrandDaughter.

Mummy dropped her off on our bed and while Husband got up to go and make me a cup of tea GrandDaughter and I chatted. And that's when I happened to mention the monster living under the duvet. 'Watch,' I said. 'See if it appears.'
And what do you know, there it came, peeking out and wriggling around.

When I realised that GrandDaughter was a little bit anxious I quickly pulled my toe back under the duvet and reassured her that the monster had gone. I even threw back the duvet to show her there was nothing there. It wasn't until the afternoon when she came up to the bedroom with me to get something and she made me check under the duvet again that I realised how disturbed she'd been.

On reflection I should probably have shown her that it was my toe and not a monster ...

I can see her now in years to come in therapy, 'You see, doctor, there used to be a monster living in my granny's bed.'

Someone call Childline.

Catch up

Back from our little jaunt. Although it was only the day before yesterday we left Devon it feels like an age ago. Perhaps we've passed through a time warp ...
Anyway we had a lovely time with children and grandchildren and the weather's been beautiful, really warm and sunny. The beach, the garden, the river and the park, we've done them all in the last 3 days.

GrandSon, who's 2 months old today, is growing well and giving gorgeous smiles. I think he might be in training for the London Olympics the way his little legs work so furiously when he's lying down. Oh, couldn't you just eat them?

And Younger Son's presentation at the RGS conference went very well. Elder Son went to watch and support him and he was of the opinion that his little brother was the best of the three speakers in vaguely the same field. He didn't have a huge audience (last thing on a Friday afternoon) but those present were interested and asked questions. All in all YS was pleased. Now all he has to do is find a job and somewhere to live when he and Girlfriend move to Plymouth so he can begin his PhD.

He's come on a long way from the uninterested depressed lad who dropped out of university first time round a few years ago. He's worked hard, met and got engaged to a lovely girl, and has a new future to which he can look forward with enthusiasm.

Life is so good.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Quick post

We're off to Surrey via Devon today but I wanted to mention the fact that Younger Son is presenting a paper at the Royal Geographical Society annual conference tomorrow in London. We're very proud of him ... and now I have to rush as Husband is nagging me!