Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I am a bad Christian

bible cartoonI could give you lots of reasons why but I'll just focus on two.

1) I can't cope with over-enthusiastic Christians. The sort who view everything - and I mean everything - as a blessing. Sure they may be blessings but do they really warrant numerous repeated squeals, a hallelujah, a 'praise the lord'?

2) I don't view the bible as a sacred book. The words in it are precious and important but the book is just a book. It deserves respect as any book does but sacred? Sorry, no. 

Invisible without the aid of a cloak

I was in the shower this morning and I'd just got nice and wet when I thought, 'Oh. Bother. That's not why I came upstairs. I didn't mean to shower.'

I was supposed to be getting dressed for exercise class hence no shower first.

So, anyway, during my second shower today I was thinking about being invisible.

At one point over the weekend I began to wonder if I had ceased to exist. Now it wasn't like the time I woke up and thought I was dead. I knew I wasn't dead as I had only recently spoken to someone and I think they would have noticed. 

This time I was in a room with a man and another woman. We all knew each other very slightly but the thing that made me doubt my ongoing existence was the fact that man only spoke to the other woman. 

You know if there are three of you the speaker usually looks from one to the other of his listeners (to make sure they're still awake?) Well, this man didn't look at me at all. Even when I tried to join in the conversation and said something.

Being ignored cartoon
At least I think I said something. Maybe I'd been temporarily absent from my body or my body was temporarily absent from my brain. That's not something that happens to me frequently incidentally, in spite of what Husband says about me never listening.

If that were the case I wish I'd known: I could have gone somewhere interesting, somewhere I'd have been appreciated.

Halloween? Bah, humbug!

I am whatever the appropriate term is for a Halloween Scrooge.

I do not like the celebration of the dark arts and I don't think children should be led to believe that threatening others is acceptable on this one night of the year. 

Am I taking it too seriously? Possibly but I still don't like it. Fortunately when my children were young this American import of trick or treat was in its infancy in this country. Nowadays it's a different story. 

When the children were young I was a fairly new Christian and the church I belonged to sometimes held an alternative Light party. I think on at least one occasion I dragged my children along but they weren't very successful. Who wants to to go a church event when they could be getting free sweets or enjoying a halloween disco? 

These days Husband and I do our best to ignore and avoid it. There aren't many children in our road and the path to our house is quite dark - especially if we don't put the outside light on which we don't. One year next door's children did knock and I think the best I had to offer them was a slimming world chocolate bar. They didn't come back after that although for the next few years I did buy in a (large) tin of sweets just in case. And, what do you know? I had to eat them all myself.

This year, with Halloween on a Tuesday, I shall be at Zac's leaving Husband to fend off any daring trick or treaters. Good luck to them for that.

Interesting P.S.
I asked Nuora about the celebration of Halloween in Italy. She said it doesn't really happen there. What does happen is that November 1st is celebrated as All Saints' Day and is a national holiday and a day when Catholics are supposed to go to mass. The next day, 2nd, is All Souls' Day when deceased members of the family are remembered but I think,as far as I recall, Nuora said that her parents will combine it with All Saints' Day and visit family graves after mass. That's the tradition in her part of the country, Piemonte.

The love of books

Hunting of the snark book
A few weeks ago I took GrandDaughter1 and GrandSon2 to the theatre to see The Hunting of the Snark. They both enjoyed it so I ordered a hardback copy of the book for them - well, mostly for GrandDaughter at this point in time.

I gave it to her on Sunday and she was delighted, not only with the present but with the book.
'It's so beautiful. Look it has shiny page edges. And the author's name is shiny too. And I love the illustrations. Did you choose it specially? Were there others?'
'Yes, but I liked these illustrations best.'
'He is my favourite illustrator. And it has a ribbon bookmark.'
'Yes, books sometimes have those.'
'Not very often.' She cuddled it to her.

I am so pleased she has inherited my love of books as items as well as for reading. I still remember the first time I saw Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diary. I was working in the bookshop at the time and I experienced the same awe at the beauty of it. A pleasure to hold, flick through, read and maybe even try a recipe.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Husband is a genius!

He has mended the washing machine!

In his usual pessimistic way he says, 'Who knows how long it will work,' but I'm happy just to get my pile of washing (knickers) done.

Meanwhile I must have working too hard because I broke the sweeping brush.
Which took its revenge on me.
I soon forgot about it though when I went for a walk with Nuora and GrandSon4 in Brynmill Park.
Brynmill lake in autumnal colours
I forgot to show you this or rather these oyster shells. Four of them welded together to make, depending on which way you look at it, a bird's head, a puppy's head or a roundhead helmet.

Not that I'm envious

I mean, think of the cleaning!

Building work has been going on just on the side of the main road to Mumbles. When we drive out that way Husband and I have been watching it with interest. Or we're nosey, take your pick.

At first we thought it may be a hotel or exclusive retirement apartments. It turns out it's a house. One house. One gi-nor-mous house.

And recently they cut down some trees in front of it so the home-owners will have a better view. That's the charitable opinion. I think it's so passers-by have a better view and more opportunity to be amazed at the splendour and wealth. (And it's worked with me obviously.)

Anyway here it is at the moment.
Of course the rumour mill is working overtime. Last I heard the owners plan to keep sharks in the basement. (Piranhas are so James Bond, you know.)

I just hope they reward our curiosity with an Open Day before they move in. It's the least we peasants deserve.

P.S. It's even bigger than their near neighbour, Bonnie Tyler's house.

I have excelled myself

In four days I managed to upset three people.

On the plus side, they always say things go in threes so there shouldn't be any more. On the other hand, maybe I should just hibernate. I'm inclined to that view at the moment.

Husband's answers were : a) you mix with too many sensitive women; and b) you should be like me and not bother with anyone.

sensitive woman cartoon

Friday, October 27, 2017

Grannies are great ...

Shell face in the sand
Because they have all the time in the world for walking on walls, inspecting squashed slugs, throwing stones in puddles, paddling in pools, making shell pictures in the sand, studying sticks, reading stories, rescuing ants, and having cuddles.

Don't use the ty bach!

So Husband came home, I told him the problem and he bombarded me with questions. Beginning with, 'Where's the manual?'
'Where's the manual?! Are you feeling well, dearest? You never consult a manual!'

But he did - after I'd found it - only to discover their advice was to do exactly what I'd done. Except the turning it off before sticking fingers in rotating wotsits bit.

I went out leaving him to it. 

I came home to find an un-repaired washing-machine.

And the proper repair man can't come until a week Monday and then it'll cost £250.

Husband is looking at replacements instead. We've not had any problems with it before and it is eleven years old so fair play, it's done well by today's standards.

In the meantime who'd like to do my washing for me, please?

ty bach water closetP.S. While Husband was failing to repair my washing-machine I was enjoying myself at Gower Heritage Centre with Younger Son, Nuora and GrandSon4. While there I visited - but definitely didn't use - the Ty Bach. It's a listed Ancient Monument, possibly the smallest in the country. Cosy though with accommodation for two.

I need a man!

It grieves me to say this but, 'Where is Husband when I need him?'

I went to get the clothes out of the washing machine and opened the door to find it making a most peculiar noise. A light was flashing, a light I hadn't seen before. I tried to read what it said. Then I went indoors to find my glasses so I could read what it said. (Old flipping age!)

Check Drain.

Oh, okay. Um. Come on, you can do this. Do I look under this little flappy thing? How do I open this little flappy thing? Gets scissors and with careful use of brute force prise it open. 

There's a thing to turn inside it. I turn it and water rushes out. Whoops. Turn it back the other way and find a receptacle. Try again. Gently.

Along with water what I thought at first glance was a piece of glass and a mini motorcycle fell out.
found in the washing machine
On closer observation it turned out to be a piece of glass, a coin and ... something else.

Then I stick my fingers in to see if there's anything else there. Word of Warning: do not stick fingers in a spinning thing. (I am very well up on the correct terminology for bits of machines.) In my defence I didn't realise it was still spinning. Although I could have worked it out by the sound. But don't panic: my fingers are intact. It just gave me a fright.

So, after turning off the machine and thus stopping the spinning I probed again. Probe - that's a good word. Go on, say it slowly and clearly. Probe. 

Couldn't find anything else obvious so switched the machine on again. It's not telling me to check drain but isn't working either. 

I am rather disappointed that I couldn't fix it but I fear there may be a ball of George's hair stuck somewhere inside. Hurry home, Husband! There's a woman here who needs you.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The radio and the atom bomb

old wireless radio
I love listening to the radio.

I don't do it often enough. I listen in the kitchen when I'm preparing food and I listen in the car. Mostly I tune in to Radio 4 Extra, which plays old comedies and quiz shows, but every now and then I cross over to Radio 4. 

It's amazing the programmes they have on there and the subjects with which they deal. If I saw or heard an advert for programme entitled African Hair, for example, I'd skip it. 'That sounds boring.'
But now and again I will switch on in the middle of a programme about something obscure and end up being sorry I missed the rest of it. (Admittedly these days I could 'catch up' on iplayer but I rarely bother.)

Today for instance a young woman was talking about her problems in finding a hairdresser who is willing to deal with 'Black hair' with its different problems. Outside of the M25 and in Europe she said it's almost impossible to find a hairdresser and it's not that easy in London. She was also talking about how young white model fashion their hair African style and it's lauded while black women have been mocked for having the natural look. It's taken her years to learn to celebrate her hair and her own culture. To be proud of who she is. A new European. 

And the other day there was an item about the new Prime Minister of Japan. I just looked it up and he's actually the old PM but he held a snap election to get a mandate for his policies, one of which is the rethinking of Japan's post-war pacifist constitution.

I didn't know they had a pacifist constitution but apparently it's something the Japanese people feel strongly about. It's interesting, I think, that the country that has lived through Hiroshima and Nagasaki is pacifist. They have experienced the horror of the alternative.

I hope we don't all have to experience it for ourselves before we too see the nonsense of nuclear deterrents. 

P.S. The Japanese ruling party isn't popular but there isn't a viable alternative. A 'Support No Party' party won 125,000 votes in the election

A new purpose or rather a rediscovered purpose

library book shelves
Sometimes I go to the library and find nothing I want to read. No, actually, that's not true: I always find something. But sometimes I find too many books that are all begging to be read. Like today.

I ended up borrowing four including one new book that's on one week loan so I have to read that first and quickly. But there were lots of others I could have picked as well. At least with four if I don't like one it doesn't matter; I have others.

I visited the library after women's bible study. I was leading it and after an initial, um, frank exchange of views it went well. After Jesus rose he went to see the disciples and he gave them three gifts: peace, power and purpose. And I've come away with a clearer view of my own purpose.

The purpose of the church is to make sure people know about Jesus so they have the option to follow him or not but I believe there's a more individual purpose that we each have in addition. God gives us different abilities and talents and he wants us to use those. My gift is writing and I realised this afternoon that I really want to get on with the new autobiography I'm ghost-writing and to do that I need to make time. It's no good making excuses; time is what I need. 

I have time if I use it wisely. I didn't go to the study or prepare for it expecting anything myself so this clarification and new enthusiasm is a bonus.

Which is why I'm sitting here blogging instead of writing ...

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The trouble with Facebook.

Well, that was easy. For some reason Facebook will not upload this photo for me. I've tried all sorts: uploading from the camera again, putting it in a different file, giving it a different name, anything to try to fool Facebook but it won't be fooled!

It's meant to be my day 3 entry for the Daily Nature Challenge. I've tried uploading other photos too and Facebook just won't let me. Why does it hate me today?!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I'd better not stand still for too long

As a young man Husband invested in high spec top of the range music equipment.
Akai reel to reel tape recorder
It's been in the attic for many years now, Husband occasionally toying with the idea of disposing of it and then thinking better.

Finally in our latest declutter splurge he decided to bite the bullet so to speak, but what to do with it? The easy option was to take it to the tip. No bother, no time wasting, no going back. But surely it deserved better than that?

The conclusion: Husband would sell it on ebay.

Today the auction ended and it sold for ... £56! Which is roughly what Husband paid it for it initially.

My only concern is that Husband will now get the bug and look around for more things to sell. I could be next ...

The best ratatouille in the world

A lovely weekend visiting Elder Son and family in Surrey. Important things first: Elder Son cooked a version of his almost prize-winning chilli on Saturday and it was delicious - full of flavour and warmth but not the harsh burn - and on Sunday he made the best ratatouille I have ever tasted - probably due to the incredibly large amount of olive oil he used. 

Apart from that I had a lovely time playing with the grandchildren and Toby, their puppy, who took a liking to my vivofit and kept trying to chew it on my arm.

Saturday afternoon it was a quick walk and play by the river Thames. Both grandsons wanted to take photos. Over the weekend we took 293 photos between us, some of better quality than others! I think these were all taken by GrandSon1.
The river Thames at Egham

Sunday we went to BirdWorld.

Snowy owl

Not long-eared owl but Striped owl
Then yesterday morning before leaving we went for a walk in Windsor Great Park - and it really is. It would be so easy to get lost there.

A Halloween themed toadstool
Home now and trying to get back to normal - and the diet. But no food in the house hence it was left-over tuna, beetroot and over-ripe pear for lunch. And, no, it didn't taste better than it sounds.

Friday, October 20, 2017

New moon, new nightmare

Irish jig
New moon again. My weird and vivid dreams definitely tie in with the new moon. I can say that based on my careful calculations and recordings - all three readings.

Anyway, last night I dreamed I went to stay with one of my favourite American bloggers. When I was there another one turned up with her family and do you know what? They all ignored me! And then I got lost, in New York I think.

I'm still upset when I think about it. Which I know is stupid. Insecurity complex running wild again.

* * * * * * * *
When your 7-year-old grand-daughter says, 'You need to go to the hairdresser's, Granny,' you know you can't put it off any longer.

So I've spent three hours there today. Read lots of my book but what make it perfect would be if you could lie down and go to sleep while they just did their stuff to your hair. That way you wouldn't have to talk to people and you'd catch up on much-needed rest. Although I'm not sure why I'm tired as I get a lot of sleep. Oh, yes, I remember: I was getting lost in New York last night.

* * * * * * *
I was looking for an image to use and I discover that the new moon is time to 'set your intentions for the coming month,' and to 'dig into the moist earth of your spirit and plant your seeds.' Oo-er, Missus. It might also entail dancing in a circle wearing a short skirt and wafting your arms around. No, wait, that's an Irish jig.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

You looking at me?

The optician has written to me. He hasn't seen for two years so thinks it's time we got together again. I think he could be right: I've been getting headachy after writing on the computer a lot.

I have three pairs of glasses: upstairs, downstairs, and outside.

I use the upstairs glasses for reading. They're two years old and were supposed to replace my downstairs glasses but I can't use them on the computer.
The downstairs glasses I use for computer work. They're four years old.
My outside glasses are also two years old but I've only recently started wearing them for driving, when I remember. And also for watching television sometimes.

Is it any wonder I get confused?

Forgetful? Who's forgetful?

This morning I left the house setting off to pick up Dawn to go to bible study. Helen was leading the study and Lily was cooking lunch. I was free of responsibility! I was very relaxed!

I was so relaxed it wasn't until I'd gone two miles in the wrong direction that it hit me. 'Crappity, crappity, crappity, crap! I've forgotten to get Dawn!'

forehead slap forgetfulI was already in town by this time. I panicked. I couldn't decide what to do. So I stopped at the side of the road to think. I tried to phone Dawn but no success. I could go straight back and get Dawn but if I did then everyone would be left waiting outside as I have the keys. So I went and picked up Lily, unlocked Zac's and then drove back to pick up Dawn. 

Just a minor hiccup.

On a more positive note: I bought my birthday present from Husband today. I have given it to him to hide until my birthday next month. On today's experience I will have forgotten what it is by the time I get it. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

God, the prat and the banana cakes

(I am cheating today and putting the same post up on this blog and my slimming blog. Or rather my 'attempt to slim' blog.)

banana cakes
I made banana cakes for Zac's last night. Banana cakes have two things going for them:
a) they use up over-ripe bananas;
b) I hate them so won't be tempted to eat them.

I haven't made anything with bananas for thirty-two years. That's a very precise time I hear you saying. Well, yes, because I have good - or perhaps bad - reason to remember it clearly.

Younger Son was a tiny baby and I had made some banana flapjacks. I ate one even though I wasn't keen on anything flavoured with banana - even though I adore bananas in themselves, as long as they're only just ripe. It was ... alright but I didn't eat any more of them.

Then, that very same day, I was struck down by a bout of vertigo; for a week I was in bed with a spinning head. But before the spinning started I was sick and all I could taste as I vomited was banana cake. Oh yucky.

Hence my refusal to eat cooked bananas again.

It seems other people don't have my horror though as they went down very well and, indeed, people said they were yummy.

Zac's bible study went well too. I had prepared very thoroughly, people joined in the discussions and all in all it was a peaceful gathering. We've had a number of these now where our more, um, disruptive guests have been absent. I can't help feeling we must be due for an eruption.

I was praying about the study on my way to Zac's. I was chatting away nicely to God when suddenly I said, 'Oh, you prat!' I had to quickly explain to God that it wasn't him I was addressing in that rude manner but the driver of the big car coming towards me taking up three-quarters of the narrow road. He didn't seem to mind. (God not the driver who was oblivious.)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mysterious happenings in the woods

Somebody - not me this time - has been having fun.

But this one puzzled me.
Fortunately I had an instant answer from a passing student. He is doing his dissertation on how birds feed, from which angles they approach their food, and he was leaving these tasty bites up even when he wasn't there to get the birds used to the target.

And as for me, well, I wanted to prove how hard it is to catch a falling leaf ...

Music: Lucky Day by RogerThat

Saturday, October 14, 2017

First annual Libraries Week

Flu jab this morning though it seems like it happened days ago. Last year I was invited in error and we had to think up an excuse so they could still do it - I was classed as a carer for looking after my grandchildren - but this year, as it's the year in which I will be sixty-five, I really am entitled to it. Surprisingly sharp needle.

Followed by a flying visit to Homebase to pick up some paint charts: we are about to redecorate our bedroom. Two things to note regarding that sentence: I say 'we' but I mean Husband although I make the important decisions like what colour; and the fact that having a colour chart doesn't necessarily mean the bedroom will get painted in the next few weeks or even this year. It's been on the autumn to-do list for a few years now.

From there to Sainsburys and to the - best bit - library. Today is the last day of Libraries Week and spotting a frame just begging to be used - even though it was partly hidden on a window sill behind a table - I took the opportunity.
first libraries week
I do love libraries. 

Home for lunch - yet more carrot and leek soup. Good news: there's only one bowlful left. Then off to Caswell to join Daughter and family on the beach. The tide was in so there wasn't much beach and what there was was highly populated both with people and jellyfish. 

Much discussion over what was what. I am fairly certain this isn't a Portuguese man o'war.

This on the other hand probably is although it's a lot smaller than I expected.

And this was a beautiful stone I found ... that GrandDaughter1 then buried never to be seen again. Stone not granddaughter.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Better than me?

Grammar nerd
My last post leads me nicely into this one as I included the phrase '.... my children are all smarter than I am ...'

I was writing that post in my head when walking George and I began an argument with myself - with George originally but he lost interest very quickly - over whether it should be 'smarter than me' or 'smarter than I'. In my post I got round the problem by writing 'smarter than I am' but
I think smarter than me sounds better. But does it matter? 

There was only one thing to do: I consulted Mr Fowler and his handy guide to English usage. (I wouldn't trust the internet on an important topic like this.)

According to Mr Fowler it depends whether you're using 'than' as a conjunction or a preposition. If as a conjunction then it's I as you are 'implying the ellipsis of am after I'.
To wit, if you write 'smarter than I' you're pretending 'am' is there.

If than is being used as a preposition then it's 'smarter than me'. Mr Fowler agrees this is less formal but perfectly acceptable. 

Mr Fowler goes on to say you can avoid the problem by using a reflexive pronoun, in this case, 'smarter than myself', and I'm sure you'll agree with me and the good gentleman when we say this is 'less than satisfactory.'

In answer to the question I posed earlier - does it matter? - by now you've probably come to the conclusion you don't care whether it does or not. But being a college-educated woman I am happy.

They'll learn much more than I'll ever know

Listening to Louis Armstrong on the radio the other day set me thinking.

"I hear babies cry, I watch then grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know"

Will they?

I'm not sure. Yes, there is more to know these days. More has been discovered, invented, learned; teaching methods have changed and hopefully improved; and the internet is a wonderful resource for research. But some things will stay the same: the maths I learned at school still applies today.

But what I think is different is the way children are living. Today's children don't have the freedom we had to play outside - not that they'd want to when they can play on their tablets. (Or so the media tells me.) So it's possible that children could miss out on a lot, most importantly, the development of an enquiring mind.

We take our grandchildren to the woods and the beaches. We encourage them to jump in puddles, climb on trees, pick up things, both living and non-, we ask questions, we answer questions, we definitely favour getting dirty and trying. 

Schools do a wonderful job but one teacher shared between twenty to thirty children can't possibly devote as much time to a rather boring piece of stick that a grandparent can. 'It's not a stick! It's a conductor's baton: listen to the music! It's a magic wand - I can make you disappear! It's a .. light sabre? Okay.'

So I wonder if they will know more than we do. They'll have the chance and the resources to find out and learn more but will they have the curiosity, the enquiring mind, the inventor's creativity?

Having said that I know my children are all smarter than I am but I like to think that's because we gave them a good start. And Husband's brains.

Death cleaning

Uncle downsized first from a large house in Nottingham to a cottage in Mumbles and then to an apartment so he had already disposed of a lot of life's clutter before he died. I had comparatively little to sort and throw but it did make me aware of all the junk in my own home. So since then I've tried to begin de-cluttering or death cleaning as the Swedes prefer to think of it. 

Broken irreparable Fitbit
I'd taken a short break but today I began again with a vengeance. I began with my Fitbit. Broken, apparently irreparable and useless - my Fitbit not me - I was still reluctant to throw it out. But I did. 

And I followed it with my cow. It's been on my bookshelf in pieces since two Christmases ago when a grandchild dropped it. I was living with the hope that, one day, Husband would turn up with the superglue and all would be well in bovine world once more. Looking at it today I realised it's in an awful lot of pieces. I think it would take a master potter to mend this broken cow.

I also discovered evidence of my slimming history.

Apparently I joined Weightwatchers in 1998. I say 'apparently' because it has my name on it but I have no memory of it. It didn't last long: I weighed 9st 12lbs on joining and 9st 11 and a half lbs on leaving five weeks later.

I tried again more successfully in 2011, this time with Rosemary Conley.

It's fascinating what you forget.

Mindless drivel

Lunch today: carrot and leek soup (again - the benefit/disadvantage of making a big panful), cucumber, melon and two hard-boiled eggs (I really needed something substantial). Odd but at least I'm sated. Bored but replete.

* * * * * *

I've noticed that the only time I am really tempted to say, 'Oh for f's sake!' is in bible study. Not sure what this says about me.

* * * * * *

I shouldn't be sitting here writing drivel. It would be much more beneficial to my surroundings and thus to me if I got up and did ... something.

I'll do it now in a minute.

Trying to be a politically correct granny

Fisher Price dolls houseGrandDaughter2 came to play on Wednesday morning. We keep a selection of toys under the table in the lounge with easy access for such occasions. the toys are either from charity shops or from my own children's growing-up. Some last better than others obviously but Fisher Price is a reliable favourite.

The dolls' house may be a bit tatty but all the grandchildren love it and have played with it. The people have got a bit mixed up: we seem to have a construction worker and the circus ring leader living with the family now but that's okay; we're very in favour of communal housing.

So, anyway, we were playing with the people. I set the chairs and table out for dinner and GrandDaughter2 added the people so we ended up with this arrangement.

'There's Mummy coming home from the shops with food to get dinner for Daddy and Baby,' I said. And then I checked myself. 'No, I mean, there's Mummy coming home from work ready to sit down to dinner that Daddy's cooked for her.'

It's difficult. I was a stay-at-home mother and my grandchildren all benefit from the same with their mums so the thing they, indeed we are most used to is the idea of mummy shopping and cooking and daddy going out to work and I reflect that in my words.

But I realise I must be careful not to set any constraints on my grandchildren, not to make them assume that's the norm and what they should be expected to do, especially the girls I suppose.

Fortunately both my sons are keen cooks and do a lot of the cooking in the home and Elder Son cooks with his boys. (I'm sure Younger Son will too but at 13 months GrandSon4 is bit little to be let loose in the kitchen yet. Although considering his great enthusiasm for food I think they might have a job keeping him out of there when he's a bit older.)

So I shall try. I suspect that GrandDaughter1 may be the one to keep me in line anyway. She is a very independent and original thinker and at seven is already refusing to be like everyone else.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

I passed!

With flying colours! Even though they asked me lots of questions.

My ECG showed my heart was fine, my blood pressure was perfect and all my answers were excellent. And a chat with the anaesthetist reassured me, after Husband had scared me by suggesting that if they did keyhole surgery I wouldn't be unconscious. 'I shall have to warn them,' I'd told him, 'that I may be conscious at the start of the operation but very soon I won't be.' After all, I've fainted in blood tests, the optician's and even hospital visiting. And I've been banned from giving blood. I applied to join the International Fainting Goat Association but they turned me down on the grounds that I'm not a goat.

Fainting Goat Association

Now I just have to wait for a date, which could be in two weeks or two months. I thought about asking if I could wait until after Christmas as a) I've joined Slimming World and paid up front; and b) I have an exercise class until Christmas. But I guess it's better to get it over and done with. And it may not happen for months anyway.

No pics please

I'm at hospital this afternoon for a pre-op assessment. I've never had one before so I don't know what it involves.

I hope they won't look me up and down and say, 'Oh, no, I don't think so.'

Or that it's not like an interview where they ask me lots of questions. I've never been successful at interviews.

Well, I'll find out soon and don't worry: I'll be sure to update you later! I know you can't wait ...

P.S. Just looked on google for a suitable image. Only succeeded in terrifying myself.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

An update on my non-stick pans - because I know you really want to hear more

Walking in the woods it occurred to me that if flaky non-stick pans are dangerous I should get rid of both of the old ones. Husband had already ordered me to dispose of one. 'If you're getting a new one, throw away an old one,' a theory he is less than adept at sticking to himself I should add. But the cupboard is getting full so it makes sense.

But if I get rid of the other one too then I can get a new big non-non-stick pan! Win, win. Like this one.
Le Creuset frying pan stainless steel
Which I discover is a Le Creuset stainless steel pan and costs £125. Big sigh.

A rolling stone gathers no Moss

I felt like moss in the woods. I'll write that again correctly. I felt like Moss in the woods. You see people say these things don't matter but they obviously do. Moss and Moss are completely different.

Anyway as I was saying, in the woods a man over-took us and, as he passed, we exchanged pleasantries.
'Lovely day,' he said,
'Yes, beautiful.'
'A bit better than last week,' he continued as he sped past.
'Oh gosh yes, much better.'

Did you spot it? My last statement: I have absolutely no idea what the weather was like last weekend. And I immediately thought of Moss.

Let me tell you a bit about Moss. He is a character, played by Richard Ayoade, from a television sitcom called The IT Crowd. Moss and Roy are computer nerds who work in the basement of a large company. They are managed - loosely by Jen who knows nothing about IT - and the comedy's strength I think lies in the two main characters.

A typical - and very clever - nerd, Moss lives at home with his mum and never has a girlfriend but sometimes he likes to pretend that he's just one of the lads, so when the mailman comes in Moss engages him in football banter, fed to him by a computer program. (It would probably be an app on his phone these days.) Somehow as a result of sharing this with Roy they end up being invited to a football match with the lads.

To stick or not to stick?

tefal non-stick pan
That is the question I should have asked before going shopping.

I have only very recently embraced non-stick pans.

Yes, I know, a bit behind the times, but I do like a pan you can scrub with a bit of wire wool. But having somehow acquired two non-stick frying pans (old - possibly from children student years and uncovered in the attic clear-out?) I can see the benefits of having an unbroken fried egg. Or rather, being able to avoid the stress of worrying about whether I can get the egg out of the pan without breaking it.

When I was in the outlet centre the other day I browsed kitchen shops and had definite pan envy. But the choice! How was I to decide between the stainless steel, ceramic and cast iron? And as the prices ranged from £40 - £ever-such-a-lot, I decided to come home and investigate before buying.

So I came home and promptly forgot about it. 

Until I was in Sainsburys yesterday when I went mad and just bought one. As I am notoriously bad at looking after my equipment I went for a £16 Tefal one.

And now, having this minute googled non-stick I find the advice is either buy a cheap one (good) or preferably don't bother as the Tefal coating contains something nasty that has been shown to cause cancer (bad).

I think that's only if it flakes off so perhaps I'll keep this pan for eggs and pancake and omelettes. And I was thought I was doing so well ...

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Augustine, Ignatius and George Bush

Mary at Shorty PJs is an excellent writer and a wise woman. in her most recent post she writes about when it's right to pray and when it's right to do more. I was reminded of the old saying, 'Pray as if all depends on God; work as though it all depends on you.'

Its etymology, if that's the right word, is doubtful. Some attribute it Augustine, others to Ignatius. And many people have tried to make it their own over the years including George Bush. Whoever said it, it's true.

But sometimes we try to cure too many of the world's ills on our own. If that's your problem then heed these words from Ignatius - who sounds like a very wise man - '... must make up his mind to do what he can, without afflicting himself if he cannot do all that he wishes. You must have patience and not think that God our Lord requires what man cannot accomplish.
'There is no need to wear yourself out, but make a competent and sufficient effort, and leave the rest to him who can do all he pleases.'
(From IgnatianSpirituality.com)

Friday, October 06, 2017

Life without social media

social media icons
Dropping in on new blogs I came across Ramana's Musings. His topic for today is 'Life without social media'.

When I thought about that I realised how important my blogging is to me. I could keep a diary instead but by blogging my thoughts there is at least the possibility that someone else will read them. Which is crucial to a writer. Especially a writer who is struggling to be published in real life.

I thought it would be interesting to look back on some of my older blog posts. I began in September 2005, which means I've been blogging for twelve years.

My second ever post went like this:

My first thought on waking this morning was: drumming class tonight. It's my first one and my initial enthusiasm hasn't waned so much as it's been tempered with trepidation. I have the timing of John Sampson and my co-ordination is even worse. I am liable to make a fool of myself. 

But does that matter as long as I enjoy it? My reason for learning is my inability to stand still when music is playing. Maybe I should do dancing instead. Oh, that's right, Harvey, I already do dancing. And look how good I am at that. 

It matters not. If this is a midlife crisis, bring it on.

It is a glorious autumn morning. The storm of last night has passed and a squirrel is nibbling a nut at the top of the steps. Charlie, who is sitting on the windowsill, does not like that one bit. She and Harvey shared my salmon last night. (What? You gave her some too? Harvey is sulking now.)

A strange phenomenon has occurred: I cleaned the lounge on Monday and today, Thursday, it is still tidy. I am amazed every time I go in there.

Harvey was George's great-great-great-great-uncle and Charlie is Daughter's cat - she must have been lodging with us temporarily. And then one from December 2011:

I could have sworn this morning that my hair straighteners were wishing me 'masseltof' (excuse the spelling).

They've never spoken to me before but perhaps they were just waiting for the right opportunity.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Take a time out, Death

We've had four family funerals this year. 

Two were very old and wanted to go, one was far too young, and one was older but still comparatively young. That's two too many so I'm calling 'Time out!' on Death.

Let's agree, Death: no more this year, or better still, for the foreseeable future.

A hole in the ground

I went to a funeral today. Ten minutes before I was due to leave I thought I should check on the map where I was going. That was when I realised I'd thrown the address away.

My cousin was being buried in his garden and he lived in one of those places in Gower where the streets don't have names and the houses don't have numbers. Fortunately Google maps - may its name be praised - remembered the postcode from when I'd looked it up previously so that was a start.

Ms SatNav then took me to places I'd never been before, leading me eventually to a man looking as if he were going to a funeral. 'Is this Peter's funeral?' I asked him.

I got there just in time to see the coffin being lowered into the ground. Yes, it is allowed. I was surprised; I don't think you even need permission. But there must be some sort of record otherwise in years to come the field could become a site of police interest when bones are dug up unexpectedly. Anyway I digress. Several family members spoke about Peter and that was it. 

Peter was an atheist who stuck to his principles and wanted to be buried with no religion and no fuss. It was ... I don't know what it was. A bit 'stick him in the ground and go' but if there's no thought of an afterlife, if death is the end, then why waste time on rituals? Does it make grieving easier or harder? 

I'm pretty sure that the acute very real pain of losing a spouse or someone very close is hardly lessened by the thought that 'you'll meet again.' Maybe it's a thread on which to hang and maybe in time that hope overcomes the ache. But much of the comfort is found in memories. 

I don't know. 

What is strange is that people always comfort the bereaved and themselves, on the loss of even the most anti-God person, with words like, 'He's in a better place,' or if a widow dies, then, 'They're reunited at last.' (Don't get me wrong. I have no idea who's going to be 'in heaven' but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be surprised.) As if it's taken for granted.

Communist naval officers

Mumbles lighthouse from the hill
Walking on Mumbles Hill this afternoon, the sky blue, a gentle breeze blowing and the sun shining, I thought, 'I love this place.'

And today the hill was alive with Red Admiral butterflies. On one bush alone I counted seven and they were just the ones not bothered by my clumping footsteps. An improvement on yesterday on the tip when I only saw one and that was dead.

I also saw a bunny, or to be more accurate, a bunny's bottom. I waited and watched to see what George would do when he passed the spot the bunny had disappeared into the bushes: not a twitch. It's strange because he has a very good nose - especially for food - but maybe an unfamiliar smell wasn't interesting enough to cause him to pause.

As a child I used to walk here with my mum. The hill and the cliffs were our places and at my favourite spot of the cliffs I said again, 'I love this place. In fact this is where I want to be scattered.'

Husband knows where it is; it's where I always pretend to fly. There is usually an onshore breeze so the children will have to choose the day wisely before tipping me gently over the edge. My ashes that is rather than me in a wheelchair however tempting that may be when I get old and crotchety. ('What do you mean when?')
It is where I am refreshed, where I find joy in my heart and peace in my soul.