Monday, December 31, 2018

In which I discover my new superpower

'I expect that's Daughter,' Husband said when we were in bed the other morning.
'What is?' I said, befuddledly.
'On the phone.'
'Is it ringing?'

If I'm bed and the phone rings downstairs I don't hear it. When the grandchildren were staying and shouting from their bedrooms I didn't hear them downstairs. (No, ability to cut out unwanted noise is not my new power.)

A while ago I said I thought the smell in my nose had gone: it hadn't. But my theory is that, rather than having a strange smell in my nose as such, my nose has developed extra-sensory powers. To compensate for my getting-worse hearing my nose is becoming more acute. No, I mean my sense of smell is. My nose stays the same large red thing it's always been unfortunately.

But I'm not sure this is a good thing. Anything, even the nicest of smells, gets a bit much when it's there stuck in your nose for any length of time.

I've always been a very sniffy person. I've loved beautiful scents and have frequently commented to complete strangers how lovely they smell - with not always delighted reactions I have to say - and I'm forever sticking my nose in flowers and all sorts of places to get a better whiff.

So you'd think an improved sense of smell would be a good thing but it's not. But there must be some advantages. If I think of any I'll let you know.
cartoon noses
Aren't noses weird when you think about them?

P.S. Early warning that the house is on fire?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Also ...

I did manage to finish my Christmas jigsaw before Christmas - apart from two missing pieces.

The day after Boxing day is Nuora's birthday and to celebrate we had a birthday tea-akeway, which was disorganised chaos.

And this morning I went to Linden for a baptism. Ffion was doing the baptising. A few years ago I baptised her so it felt like a passing-on, a rite of passage - okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration but it was rather nice. 

Also, cooking lasagne for family means one ginormous meat dish, plus one gluten-free and one vegetarian.
 And I must invest in a plastic tablecloth for when we eat curry.
And I just remembered: we had to put the fire guard around the tree because young Toby Dog's thoughts went along the lines, 'Hm, tree. Tree = pee.'

My brain is cognitively overloaded

One of the discussions we had with Elder Son was about cognitive ... ? What was it? I'll have to ask him again.

But basically it was about ex-president Obama only having two suits and Mark Zuckerberg having one t-shirt. (I assume they have lots of the same rather than actually wearing the same ones all the time.) In this way they don't have to decide what to wear each day thus freeing their brain for more important thoughts.

Apparently we only have so much brain power - I think -  and using it making these small decisions leaves us with less for important decisions. It even lowers our will power. Because we have a finite amount. I assume it's refilled every time we sleep. Don't take my word for any of this.

So Elder Son was saying our house is a nightmare for ??? (Again I'll have to ask him what he called it.) Things like we have three clocks in the kitchen and they all say a different time so he has to work out which one is right, and our taps in the bathroom are the wrong way round, turn the wrong way too, so he has to waste thinking power working that out.

So, what I'm getting around to saying is: it's no wonder I can't diet/resist chocolate. My brain is too busy to leave any power for will.

P.S. It's possibly cognitive overload, a theory about learning built on the premise that the brain can only do so many things at once.

Get a dog and smile more

An article on the BBC website about New Year resolutions set me thinking.

The article pointed out that people often set too many goals and quickly fail at all of them. So the advice given by one professor was to be more self-aware. (Yes, I know studying our own navels and self-obsession are gradually leading to the downfall of society but this is slightly different.)

By understanding your emotions we can make better choices, by playing to our strengths and working on our weaknesses. 

Another professor suggested concentrating on being happier. The theory is that if we are happier we will be more likely to succeed so this professor recommended thinking of one thing in our life that makes us unhappy and try to do something to improve it.

The article also recommended getting a dog, smiling more and getting enough sleep. So a fairly sensible article on the whole.

Adventures in supermarkets

So I'm crouching down next to a display of cider trying to decide which one to buy when I suddenly over-balance and end up sitting on the floor of the shop. Giggling uncontrollably.

An old gentleman asked me if I were alright and I couldn't answer for laughing. And it kept me chuckling all the way home in the car.

Less funny though probably not for anyone watching me on CCTV was another incident a few days later.

I decided this year to cut down on card sending and, of course, when I walked into the (small) supermarket a few days after Christmas who is there just ahead of me but one of my crossed-off-the-list people. Who had sent me a card.

I suddenly developed a deep interest in the vegetables, studying them intently while occasionally furtively glancing up the aisle. When this person finally moved I hurried down the next aisle hoping to overtake and avoid but somehow was beaten to the tills. More sudden interest in shelves ensued. 

Yes, anyone watching me has probably marked me out as a potential shoplifter and I will be followed next time I enter the shop.

Keep taking the pills

If I were ever tempted to stop taking my happy pills I'll remember this week's experience and that will stop me. 

Because of disruption to our normal morning schedule I've forgotten to take my pill for several days and I've turned into a wreck, liable to cry at any moment.

A reminder that it's worth sacrificing some of the highs in order to avoid the lows.

And I certainly have nothing to be sad about. I've had a wonderful Christmas season with family around. Lots of eating and laughing, cousins playing together cheerfully, and staying up late. And getting up late too!

Hope yours has been as good.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

All about faith

Over on his blog Stu has a very good post convincingly disproving the Christmas story. It's probably easy enough to do if you want to: there are plenty of contradictions and just weird things in the bible. And if I think about it too much - as I did shortly after becoming a Christian - I realise how ridiculous it all sounds and the impossibility of it all. 

But this is where faith comes in.

I made a decision to believe. When the idea of a creator who knew all about me - including my every thought even before I'd thought them - as well as holding the whole of this universe, and every other, in his hands overcame me I focused on Jesus. A man, walking talking human being, who loved me enough to die for me. I decided I would chose to believe.

I like believing there is someone who loves me that much, who knows all my faults and still thinks I'm worth it. Is it a crutch? I don't know or care. I think there is pretty good historical evidence to support the fact that Jesus lived; and there are personal stories - the gospels - that tell us about his life. His ideas stand the test of time; his words bear repeating and living by. (I try to at least.)

It's called the Christian faith for a reason. The writer of the letter to the Hebrew church says it better than I can, 'Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.' 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Oh good grief!

On my blogger control page I noticed that a lot of page views came via a website I didn't recognise as anyone I knew so I clicked on it to see who it was. Oh I shouldn't have done that.

Why on earth are viewers of a porn site being directed to my little blog?

Dear me, it's quite turned my stomach. I shall have to have a cup of tea.

Time for a quick dip anyone?

Pobbles wasn't the best choice for a quiet Boxing Day walk.
Pobbles Boxing Day
Apparently there's an annual Boxing Day swim there and, according to one friend I met, about 25 people were in the sea at one point. His brother was one of those - and without a wetsuit.

George couldn't see what was so special about going in the sea: he does it all the time - and without a wetsuit.
Ah, that's more like it.

And a lovely Christmas was had

The table was laid.

The fire was lit.
And the turkey was cooked.
Younger Son did us proud with an excellent Christmas dinner. I'm sure my first attempt at cooking Christmas dinner wasn't as good as his.

Presents were opened and a jolly good time was enjoyed by all. From there we went on to visit Daughter and family for more celebrations and present opening. Again much enjoyment and fun.

Not much more to say except I hope your Christmas was as delightful. 

And the only Christmas viewing I did was of Dad's Army Christmas Special. Oh and a Shaun the Sheep Christmas Special.

And George enjoyed the first of his Christmas presents.

Monday, December 24, 2018

And a big sorry

A big sorry to all the bloggers I normally visit - but haven't done recently - and who have been so kind as to call in and comment here. Life = busy. But that's true for all of us so it's not excuse. 

So I'll just say, 'I'm sorry!' and promise to visit after Christmas Day.

A tri-lingual Christmas to one and all!

As I said in the previous post, I love the run-up to Christmas. I always enjoy the day itself but there is a tension. Maybe it's because for many years now it's been all about cooking and worrying if the turkey is going to be dry or give everyone salmonella, if people will like their presents, if I'll have enough of everything, and, most importantly, if it will be the best Christmas ever - not just for me but for everyone else too. Wanting my family to have the best time ever is a burden I put on myself I know: there's no-one else to blame!

It may be different this year because tomorrow it won't be me cooking dinner. Younger Son and family have moved into their new house (last Thursday in fact) and YS is cooking dinner for us and for his in-laws visiting from Italy. Now that's intimidating cooking a turkey for the first time in a cooker you've hardly used!

So we're making our way there mid-morning and later on in the afternoon, when we get home, Daughter and family will come to visit. On Boxing Day Elder Son and his family will travel down to spend a couple of days with us too. So it's going to be a different Christmas But I'm really looking forward to it. 

Tonight, as Nuora's family is here from Italy I went to RC mass with them. (Husband came too! I don't think I'll ever recover from the shock.) It was a rather lovely service and made me feel ... peaceful. Yesterday's service in prison was disruptive and a not very nice atmosphere prevailed so tonight's light and brightness came as a happy relief.

And now I think it's time for bed. Feeling very jolly and chilled and happy. Hope you are too. And that Santa is very good to you. Make sure you get to sleep in plenty of time!

A very happy Christmas to one and all!
Nadolig llawen!
Buon Natale!

P.S. I haven't had time for the traditional Christmas photo (like my namesake the Queen I have certain traditions to maintain) so here's last year's!

It's all about the waiting

I love Christmas. But the thing I think I love best is the waiting for it, the run-up. The rushing, the busyness, the anticipation, all of the craziness of the season.

In the run-up to Christmas in church we have the season of Advent, which means 'arrival' or 'coming'. It's a time of preparation and waiting that culminates in the celebration of the birth of Christ. But really the birth of Christ is only the beginning of the story; it's not an end in itself. In the song, Mary's Boy Child, we hear that, 'Man will live for evermore because of Christmas day.' But that's not true. It's not Christ's birth that saves us; it's his death on a cross. His whole life is a season of waiting, for his destiny, his ultimate purpose.

I get very impatient with myself when I look at my many flaws. I desperately want to be better - a better person - but each year passes and I see very little change in me. I just see the impatience, lack of tolerance, envy, selfishness, lack of will - not will power but just the will, a wanting to be different that is so strong that I have to do something about it.

So Advent is a timely reminder that I too am waiting and not just for Christmas. I'm still in the stages of preparation. God is still working in me to mould me into the person he made me to be, the person I want to be. And as it is in December bits of it are great while other bits are painful or just plain exhausting and I think I'm never going to get everything ready in time - but it always is. And I will be. In time.

In church this evening the reading included the words, 'Because God delights in you.' Sometimes - most of the time - I find that hard to believe but it's true. Because he sees what I can be, what I could be, what I will be. He sees me through Jesus.

So in these final hours of countdown my prayer for each of us is, that as a new day and a new year begins, we are able to relax into who we are, that we get to know ourselves - and our God if it's your thing - better, and that we find waiting more calming than stressful, more exciting than scary, more fun than fearful.

And I pray that tomorrow is an especially wonderful day for each of you and those you love.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The day I became invisible

I'd offered to deliver a package so I made arrangements with Hannah.

Picture the scene. A smart cocktail bar full of Beautiful Young Things enjoying Christmas festivities.

ERic Morecambe shortsNow picture me. Just out of exercise class and dressed in Eric Morecambe shorts (long and baggy), a hoodie, little grey dog socks and trainers. 

We'd arranged that I would phone Hannah when I was close and she would come out to meet me. But I forgot to take my phone.

Result: an under-dressed over-aged woman trying to make her way through the throng of BYTs. My little 'excuse me please's went unheard. My embarrassment turned to frustration as I realised that not only was nobody looking me, they didn't even see me. To all intents and purposes I had become invisible.

Next time I'll just be rude. (No, actually I won't. It's not in me.)

* * * * * * * * *
On a different note, I'm almost there now. I've had a good day today and the Christmas preps are almost complete. So much so that I am about to sit down and work on my Christmas jigsaw, which sadly isn't going to be completed by Christmas. 

'Twas the day before Christmas (Eve)

When I was a little girl, at Christmas, my mother would save the wrapping paper to use the next year, and we made tags out of old Christmas cards. In recent years I've gone to the other extreme trying to keep up with my sisters-in-law who hand out the most exquisitely wrapped gifts.

This year, as wrapping paper can't be recycled, I'm going back to basics.

I'm using up left-over (new) paper from last year and the rest of the presents I'm wrapping in brown or recycled paper. And I've even added my own decorations.
alternative wrapping paper
Practising potato prints with GrandSon4 came in useful!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Waiting for the Ironic Sale

It's a good job I am full of festive spirit; there are an awful lot of old miseries out there. I don't let them bring me down: I wander along singing to myself and giving the odd jig of excitement.

Do you ever say something to yourself that really makes you laugh? I don't recall what it was in the car this morning but it kept me amused for ages. Just as well as the roads were just a tad busy. My brain had failed to send me any warning signals, you know, things along the lines of, 'Are you sure you want to go into town today?'

Still, as I say, I hummed a little tune through it and got home in one piece and with everything I wanted. Except bread for Husband's breakfast.

While in the car I heard an advert (on Heart Christmas Extra - non-stop Christmas music) for the Ironic Sale. How wonderful I thought to myself, a store that is being honest and not pretending that we're getting a bargain but rather just  buying the Christmas tat that wouldn't sell in any other circumstances.

Then I realised it was the Euronics Sale.

It's things like that that keep me amused.

Meanwhile at home, we're getting there. Christmas wrapping tonight. I've bought an extra four rolls of sticky tape to avoid the tellings-off I get for losing the end of the sellotape.
room decorated for Christmas
Buying presents for George I noticed they were selling packets of stuffed trachea. I'm sure it's very eco-friendly, using every part of the body leaving no waste, but I just couldn't.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Happy Christmas from Zac's Place

At Zac's with the people I am happy to call my church.
church at Zac's Place Swansea
And Zac's is led by Sean Stillman seen below: 
(He's on the left by the way ...)

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

How will you decorate your tree this year?

We finally got our tree on Sunday. And, yes, it is just a trifle wonky.
I'm thinking the au naturel look is good. But then what would I do with these?
YES! Maltesers tree decorations. Sadly not just huge Maltesers but tasty nevertheless. (Well, I had to check to make sure they were okay.)

Hairdresser yesterday, Christmas lunch out with women from Rubies today. Not seen most of them since Rubies, the women's bible study group at Zac's, ceased so it will good to catch up. Then our annual carols and reading at Zac's tonight.

What would I like for Christmas? Hm, time please. Especially extra night time for sleeping.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Mercedes drivers ...

I'm not being car-ist - which is what people always say just before they're whatever-ist they say they're not going to be - but Mercedes drivers? Really?

Phrases like 'think they own the road', and 'big car, little ...' spring to mind. But yesterday I was behind one, an earlier Mercedes having cut me up, and the little Mercedes sign on the boot suddenly flicked up. I thought, 'He's going to shoot me!'

He didn't obviously or I wouldn't be here to tell the tale. Perhaps he just wanted to take my photo.

You didn't know I was an acrobat, did you?

Here to prove it:
Okay, I'm the liftee rather than the lifter but it's the closest I'm ever going to come to acrobatics so I was impressed.

Hannah, our fitness teacher, has been saying for months that she wanted to get me on her feet - she's an enthusiastic acrobat - and on Tuesday at the end of class we finally had an opportunity. 

Thus enthused I tried to lift GrandDaughter1 on my feet yesterday. All I can say is that it was a good job we were next to the sofa as I kept over-balancing and dropping her.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Another brilliant idea on its way to the dustbin of bad ideas

Out walking with George I had a brilliant idea.

I always imagine that Husband groans when I say this; these days even I am starting to groan when I say it.

Anyway, I saw these dead flower-heads
and thought, 'If I sprayed those they'd make a nice decoration.'

As always seems to be the case the thought in my head looked better than the reality:
We'll see. They may look better when mixed in with some greenery. 

It's not as if I don't have enough to do at the moment. Younger Son and family are moving this weekend so I'm helping by sorting out stuff, taking it to charity shops and baby-minding. 

Does anyone else find they come out of charity shops having bought more than they donated?

Today for lunch I had a banana, two chilli beetroot and an indeterminate number of Cadburys chocolate eclairs. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

I should rush out and buy a lottery ticket

A few weeks ago I won a prize in the grandchildren's school raffle: a £30 Joules voucher that went towards my new red coat.

And now I've just won a lovely little painting from the raffle at the craft fayre on Saturday.
They say things come in threes so I should run out and buy a Lottery ticket. 

Three things I've never done:
watched Titanic;
bought a lottery ticket;
and ... can't think of another obvious one so perhaps the threes rule doesn't apply to me.  

I won't bother buying a ticket.

In which George is considered a H&S risk

The phone rang yesterday afternoon.
'I am from Amazon. I have a parcel for you.'
'Okay.' (I have to admit that because the speaker had a foreign accent I was a little dubious and waiting for him to tell me I would have to give him my log-on details in some scam or other.)
'I am at your gate. There is a dog in the garden.'

According to the poster in the Post Office collection depot seven postmen and women are bitten every minute? Hour? Day? (Just checked the latest figures from Royal Mail; it's actually 44 a week, which roughly equates to seven a day.) So I suppose his caution was warranted. Indeed Royal Mail has a strict etiquette by which postmen are supposed to abide that includes not petting a dog. It almost definitely must include not shutting a runaway dog in someone else's garden while you jump back in your post van to rush back to our house to tell me George has escaped but, 'Come on, get in the van and I'll take you to him.'

I am glad some postmen are human first and jobsworth last.

P.S. I do appreciate that not all dogs are as soft as George and that postmen do take risks on a daily basis. I place great value on our postal service. Just in case I'm giving a different impression.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

False leg trumps reindeer

A friend asked if she could have a lift. I said, 'Yes, of course, I just need to rearrange the reindeer, lampshades and Greggs bakery trays in the car to fit you in.'
She said, 'That's fine. I was going to offer someone a lift this week but I couldn't because I had a false leg in the back.'
'You win.'

False leg trumps reindeer.

A woman with a mission

To finish - or at least break the back of - my Christmas shopping.

I started off brilliantly but by the end I was faltering a little so that I've ended up buying too many presents for one grandchild and not enough for another. But mostly resolved as long as I get a grip and don't do what I usually do which is suddenly think, 'I haven't bought enough! Must shop! Must buy!'

On the plus side I discovered that Sainsburys has some lovey seasonal Wensleydale and cranberry crisps.

Also had a lucky escape. A few moments earlier and I would have been walking into a shop just as someone I would really rather not meet was walking out.

It must have been the luck I got from having been pooped upon.
I was only in the shop for fifteen minutes at the most and when I came out the windscreen and driver and front passenger windows were covered in bird poo while the cars on either side of Mini were absolutely clean.

Still on a Christmassy theme, on Sunday when we went to look for lights for outside. While we were in the shop I had to buy this cushion:
Terrible photo but it's one of those where if you rub it one way the sequins are all silver and if you rub it the other way all red. It'll amuse the children I tell Husband and then spend a good thirty minutes playing with it myself. (Although it was Nuora who had the patience to create this lovely heart.)

Also, you know this elf on a shelf business? I thought I'd buy myself an elf and have fun when the children came to visit. Then I found out it's quite hard to find an elf. You can buy more accessories for it than you can for your dog but the actual elf is hard to come by. So then I thought, why does it have to be an elf? So please meet Dog on a Shelf.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Not the end of the world

Younger Son and Nuora are supposed to be moving into their new home next weekend assuming all the work that has to be done has been. Both of them are poorly this weekend and YS is quite gloomy. He takes after Husband with his pessimistic way of viewing things.

Husband would say it's not pessimism but taking a realistic look at the facts and coming to a likely conclusion. 

I prefer my 'don't really know what's going on but everything will be fine' glib naivety and optimism. And it usually is. Or if it's not it's not the end of the world.

dog cartoon

Our milkman is called Tom

Vile morning weather-wise but I wanted to go to the monthly craft market so got my mac on and went. Soon got fed up of the rain and didn't buy half the things on my list. I had hoped to do some serious Christmas shopping as I'd realised the festive season was approaching rather too rapidly.

I did however manage to buy myself a new red coat, a Christmas jigsaw and some yummy crab pate from the farmers' market, so not an entirely wasted outing.

Also stocked up on Lemsip and Strepsils as just about everyone is suffering in one way or another.

And I ordered the Christmas turkey. Those of you who know me well will appreciate the enormity of this achievement.

It turns out our milkman is called Tom. I'm sure it was Steve last time we had a card from him. He could be an alien for all we know as he regularly delivers at 4.30 in the morning. (Husband tells me that he hears him; I am out for the count at that hour.)

Friday, December 07, 2018

What part of me is not working today?

A fun time yesterday with GrandSon4 in the InflataPark. Lots of bouncing and falling and jumping into ball pits.

GrandSon4 is still at the age when he's happy to sit on arcade rides just because they're fun - and I don't have to put any money in. We spent an enjoyable fifteen minutes on the dance machine without spending anything.

Followed by a trip to Sainsburys it was a good morning out.

* * * * * * * *
Our local pharmacy has a poster in its window offering 'Free flu jab or £10'. I went in and asked for my free £10 but they wouldn't give it to me.

* * * * * * * *
The battle continues to keep Mr Squirrel off my fat balls. I carefully placed a large stone over the top of the feeder; he simply pushed it to one side.
I've added another stone and I'm hoping that he won't use it as a weapon against me.

* * * * * * * *
I've spent a few days feeling vaguely dissatisfied with myself, that old familiar voice in my head telling me I'm not doing well enough. I wish I wasn't so open to hearing the voice as it's hard to fight once in its started.

I've decided that, in order to make life simpler for me, I won't do or go to a couple of events that I fancied. If I go it will put extra pressure on me so i'm going to be sensible. Although is it sensible to miss out on things I'd like to do?

There's part of me that says, 'yes, you should do the things you want to do,' otherwise what's the point? But the things I'm doing instead of the things I want to do aren't things I don't want to do. (If you follow that.) So I think it's okay.

You see I can beat myself up even when I'm looking after me. I'm a lost cause!

* * * * * * * *
Rosalie commented on Facebook about how much she enjoyed The Kominsky Method on Netflix. We're very much enjoying it too. It's just a shame it's been such a short series. I've never found Michael Douglas as attractive as he is in this. Must be a sign of age.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

I must have been a terrible parent

I refused to buy my children advent calendars with chocolate in. And the picture on the front had to be of the nativity.

Gee, they must have loved me.

These days it's hard to find an advent calendar without chocolate. And, as I discovered, hard to find an advent calendar at all on November 30th. At least an advent calendar that didn't cost as much as a full-blown present. They're getting fancier and fancier - and more expensive.

Our own is refillable.
advent calendar refillable

Which reminds me: we've not opened any of the drawers yet, what with it being Husband's birthday and having a surfeit of yummy things.

Note: Waitrose salted caramel big chocolate buttons are delicious and very moreish. So much so I now feel sick. Better go and walk George and get some fresh air. And practise my Moses talk.

I wonder if I could launch into a rendition of Moses supposes. I have a sneaky feeling I've posted this clip before and fairly recently but you can't have too much of Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor.

Fast food diet as recommended by God

The trouble with leading bible study is that I inevitably spend half the night before thinking of what I need to leave out and what I need to add in to my carefully prepared notes. Meaning by the time I take the study I am zombie-like at best. 

I finish off Moses tonight. An interesting thought occurred to me: if Moses had promised to lead the Israelites to a land flowing with fresh water and tasty sprouts would they have been so willing to follow him? They grumbled enough when expecting milk and honey. 

I suppose that's why God went for the high fat, high sugar offering. The day's fast food equivalent. Worked for them, works for us. I'll go an extra mile for chips or chocolate.

They think I'm magnificent; what can I say?

Who wouldn't want to receive a package in the post bearing the legend, 'Because you're magnificent'?
And to find inside it a starry sprouty shopping bag.
Even better is the fact that it's made from four recycled plastic bottles and is fully recyclable itself.

Thank you, Sainsburys. 

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Remember those fat balls?

And the way I said I might have got carried away when 150 turned up? Well, we're getting through them faster than anticipated.

But not for the right reason.
Yes, Mr Squirrel is taking them whole.

The only birds benefiting are the magpies who swoop in on the bits Mr Squirrel scatters liberally over the ground.

Surprise, surprise!

Husband's birthday yesterday and the children planned a surprise for him. Elder Son and family came to stay - surprise number one when they turned up on Friday evening - and six of us took the Break Out challenge - surprise number two.

We were locked in a room and had to attempt a number of puzzles and challenges in order to escape and we only had sixty minutes in which to do it. And the puzzles were flipping hard! I would probably still be in there if it had been down to me.

Fortunately I had a brainy team and we made it out with eleven minutes to spare. (Although I'm still not sure why Younger Son had to stand in a something or other capsule in the corner while holding two plugged in wires.)

That's our victorious team: Daughter, Daughter-in-law, Elder Son, Husband, me and Younger Son. I don't think we decided on a team name in the end. I had suggested The 69ers as that was Husband's age but everyone laughed at that idea.

Later on all  the family came together for dinner at Prezzo - this was supposed to be surprise number three but Husband had noticed on the credit card account that I'd paid money to Prezzo and wanted to know why (deposit) - and then we came home and flopped: Husband wasn't in the best of health, having a very sore throat and feeling sad that he couldn't enjoy it more.

But the rest of us had a great time.

The cake wasn't a surprise: Husband had requested cheesecake.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Thinking about immigration

As I said in an earlier post, my friend, Glenn, a compassionate and gentle man, posted a photo on FaceBook of a woman and her children at the Mexico America border fleeing from tear gas. Glenn asked how Trump followers could support that.

He had many comments in reply the majority being negative towards immigrants. Since then I've been thinking a bit about immigration and I've come to some conclusions. Admittedly they were in my head already but I'm bringing them altogether now.

First of all I am so thankful to God that I was born and live in a safe democratic country. It has its faults and problems but we have free health care and education; we're also free to worship as we choose and say what we think.

Secondly whenever I see or hear of someone going through hard times for whatever reason I think, 'There but for the grace of God.' I could be an addict living on the streets, or a woman forced into sex work, or a refugee fleeing war, famine, dictatorships.

Finally I am so grateful that Jesus lived as he did, that he taught as he did, that he set the example he did.

There are no boundaries in his world and no territorial rights. There is only love. For the friend, the stranger, the enemy, the outcast. 

Should everyone then be allowed to enter into any country to live and work? I suppose my answer is yes. But through controlled routes: I certainly don't want enemies of this countries being allowed in freely. But nor do I want tent towns or prisons for refugees, children separated from parents, or inhumane treatment either for those escaping untold horrors or those simply looking for a better life for their families.

How do we pay for it? I don't know but we seem to find money for most things if we want it enough. Correction: if the government wants it enough. And,also, while certain parts of the media would have us believe that we're being inundated by immigrants real figures show us that it's just a tiny proportion of that.

Am I being unrealistic, naive? Probably but I'd rather be that.
church sign about tear gassing

Like Christmas every day

'I'd better get on with my Christmas shopping,' Husband said.
'Well, that's not going to take you long,' I said. He only buys for me.
'Do you know how long it takes to find gifts of the ilk of the flashing toilet flush lights I got you last year?'

I had to concede. Gifts so sensitively chosen for the person you love don't just leap out at you; it takes stamina to search for those.

But I do love this time of year. With parcels arriving every day and me having no idea what I've ordered every post brings a surprise. It's like Christmas every day.

When you suddenly discover you've got someone else's foot

We learned a new exercise in fitness class last night. 

Hannah said, 'Sit on the floor, legs straight out. Lean forward, put your hands by your knees and then lift one foot after the other keeping your leg straight.'

So I sat on the floor, leant forward, put my hands on the floor by my knees then lifted one straight leg. 

At least that's what I did in my head.

In reality, I sat on the floor, leant forward, put my hands on the floor by my knees, told my foot to rise and ... nothing happened.

It was like suddenly discovering you've accidentally picked up a foot that doesn't belong to you. I'm fortunate in that most of my body does what it's told when I tell it so having a disobedient foot came as a shock.
'Foot! Why aren't you listening to me? I'm telling you to lift.'
'Nope. Not doing it.'
'What do you mean you're not doing it? It's not up to you.'
'Am I doing it?'
'No, you're not.'
'My point proven.'

It took an awful lot of will power to get my foot off the floor. Or is it muscle power? It was definitely mind over matter whatever it was.

And it looked so simple when Hannah did it.
Me fighting with my foot

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

'You disgust me.'

I don't think  I've ever knowingly aroused such strong feelings. I've been laughed at and ignored but causing disgust?

It all started on FaceBook, of course.

A friend had posted a video of families with children on the Mexico border being tear-gassed. He'd asked the question, 'Supporters of Trump please explain how this is okay.'
My comment was, 'Trump supporters have an answer for everything.'

I didn't think I was being that offensive but apparently I'm instigating hate.

What can I say? (Nothing. I'm not getting into a war with anyone.)

It seems the internet isn't big enough for me

And here it is in all its glory!

For some reason the internet struggled to stay connected in spite of Husband frantically running around and turning off all the programs running on other machines. I assume you won't get the breaks in this so it should be less frustrating. I didn't read as long an extract as I had planned because it was just silly having to stop every few minutes and wait.

Curious detail: everything in the picture is back to front. I suppose I should be grateful I'm not. 

And do you like my new Christmas jumper?

Monday, November 26, 2018

And you might be able to watch the trailer here

You can watch the trailer for my greatly anticipated book launch here! Possibly.

Live tonight on FaceBook: me! Possibly

If you are a FaceBook user you may be interested to know that at 7.00 pm tonight (Monday, 26th November) I'm launching my new novel, The Dog-walking Club, live on Facebook.

I'm still not entirely sure how it will work; I'll probably try and practise a bit today. But if you're around please join me.
the Dog-walking Club

In which I realise I am becoming an old woman

I have to admit it: I am becoming a stereotypical old woman. Not in the grumpy sense - unless Sainsburys has changed its shelf lay-outs or packaging - but in the befuddled and bemused way.

Because of said befuddlement I found myself in Swansea centre yesterday with an hour to waste. I decided to spend it productively and bought some presents. Then I began looking at nighties. I've been trying to find a nightie I like for months; yesterday I saw one. I pounced on it - and discovered it had a BUILT-IN BRA! (Yes, using capitals is the only way to truly describe my horror.)

For goodness sake, going to bed means letting it all flop. If I appeared in the bedroom with pert breasts Husband would think he was in the wrong house.

Still reeling from that discovery - I didn't buy it needless to say - I headed across to town and down through a bit I'd not walked in for a while. And it had CHANGED! I was totally disorientated. I had to stop and look around for a few moments.

I wasn't helped by this map on the floor.
According to this I was surrounded by docks but there wasn't a dock in sight.

I could see Plantasia (Swansea's giant greenhouse thing) to the right so I wandered around to the opposite end, where the entrance was supposed to be so I could call into their shop of all things natural and wild-lifey. Not there! Having circumnavigated Plantasia I realised the entrance was more or less where I'd started off. Okay, deep breath, stop muttering under it, and go in.

'I wanted to go to the shop,' I said to the girl on the desk. 
'This is it,' she said, indicating two shelves of bright pink and yellow creatures that have never been seen in the wild.
'Oh,' I said, 'I've very disorientated. I don't know where I am.'
The girl looked at me as if I were crazy.

Later telling Younger Son about this he said, 'Was that all you said? Or did you explain you'd not been there for a while? Because it did change quite a long time ago.'
Still she could have been more sympathetic.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Looking for a stocking filler? look no further

The Bay Swansea magazine
I forgot to mention that the latest edition of The Bay magazine is now out and you'll find my article here.

It's not seasonal because there was a slight mix-up. The studio of the editor was broken into and the resulting mess meant publication of the November issue had to be delayed. They then made the decision to do a big Winter issue instead. 

I was given the opportunity to write something more festive but I didn't get it in in time - confusion over deadline dates. Still I am hoping that many readers will think, as I do, that a book makes an excellent Christmas present. That said I only give books to children usually now because it's so hard to tell what a person might like. 

But women will love This Time Next Year (I'm not biased honest!) and dog-loving people might enjoy The Dog-walking Club. So if you're looking for a stocking filler ...

Being sensible about Christmas but not fat balls

I am determined this year to be more sensible in my Christmas shopping.

I say that every year. Then I get carried away and buy far too much.

Every year I also say that I'm going to watch Christmas films in the run-up to 25th December. Then I'm much too busy to do so.

But this year ... it's going to be different. Although it's not looking promising at the moment: whatever I'm supposed to be doing I keep being distracted by Christmas present ideas. And once I have an idea I have to immediately see if it's available, compare prices and work out if I'm going to buy it locally or online. 

I love the idea of supporting local tradespeople and artists but in reality, especially when it comes to children, it isn't really practical. That said I'm going to grandchildren's school Festive Shopping Event tonight where, if I'm not looking after said children, I hope to browse properly. Yes, I know: fat chance.

On a similar note I was hoping to get one of those flashing laser light projectors for the front of the house but Husband has said no simply because we don't have a power source out there. As if that's not solvable.

It's a very exciting time of year - all these deliveries bringing things I'd forgotten I'd ordered. It's just like the surprise of Christmas. 'Oh a box of fat balls!' Regular readers may remember the year Husband bought me a box of fat balls for Christmas, but this year I've bought them myself in order to fill this:

willow weave bird feeder
One of my birthday presents, hand-made by Younger Son.

I may, however, have got a bit carried away when I ordered the fat balls. But it was much cheaper buying 150.

Incidentally I received my first Christmas present and card yesterday.