Friday, May 25, 2018

Falling out of trees

I've noticed that a number of bloggers I follow are posting irregularly if at all these days. I suppose life gets in the way often.

My posting is just as irregular in that I'll go for a few days without and then splurge as I did yesterday and write loads of posts. For Lent I resolved to write on my blog each day (I think. Or am I imagining it?) And I'm going to try that again. I don't know what it is. Sometimes I'll sit down with the intention of blogging and then make excuses: a typical writer in fact!

But I do enjoy blogging and finding topics - as opposed to my usual ramblings - will be a good challenge for me.

One thing puzzles me though. I called in at Stu's blog yesterday and he had written about updating his blog-roll so obviously i checked to see if I were still on it. I am. But why? All the other bloggers are intelligent, witty, politically-, scientifically-, or bike-minded, and generally not like me. I am probably a bit of fluff - in the nicest sense of the word - or light relief, in the middle.

Anyway I was going to tell you about my massage last night. 

Hannah, my fitness teacher, asked on Facebook yesterday if anyone was free and wanted a massage in the evening. I nearly fell off my seat in my rush to say, 'Yes!'

She is a student and needed someone on who she could practise. She's learning sports massage and when I arrived she asked me basic questions about health and any aches, so I told her about my shoulder. 

It's not been the same since I didn't exactly fall out of a tree (left) about eighteen months ago. Lowering myself out of the tree I discovered that the ground was a bit further away than I had anticipated so it had a jerking, pulling effect on my shoulder.

Between them Hannah and the teacher narrowed it down so that in all likelihood the muscle affected is the alterior deltoid. (Possibly. I may have that wrong.) Hannah was able to suggest exercises that would help it regain it springiness. It's stretched but if you stretch it a bit more the chances are that it will spring back further than its starting point. Does that make sense? That's the way I understood it although my terminology is a translation.

I'm definitely going to have some more massages from Hannah. Because it's a college and students are practising it's a lot cheaper than a fancy salon. But it smells as nice.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

All stung up

We're a bit into nettles at the moment. 

Younger Son has done and led courses on foraging and nettles, as well as being everywhere, are a superfood, good for all sorts of things. 

So far we've had ...
nettle and wild garlic omelette
nettle and wild garlic omelette and 
nettle and squash risotto
nettle and butternut squash risotto.

Today YS also made nettle pakoras and a healing balm. Presumably to take away the sting after you've picked your nettles. 

Dear Mrs Bird

Returned my books to the library today to discover my reserved copy of Dear Mrs Bird was in. I'd heard about this from various authors I follow on Twitter and it sounded so brilliant I couldn't wait for it to come out - they'd all had early review copies - and as soon as it did, put my name on it. I shall let you know if it lives up to the hype.

The three books I returned were: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein; Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal; and The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez.

I'd probably give them all 2.5-3*. Nothing amazing but all good sunbathing/bedtime reading. The Little Coffee Shop was described on the cover as 'If Maeve Binchy had written The Kite Runner.' Now I've read Maeve Binchy and I've read The Kite Runner and I can safely this this was nothing like the latter. Could have been written by Ms Binchy but is nothing like Khaled Hosseini's story apart from being set in a Middle eastern country.

What all three books did is give a good glimpse into a different style, place or time of living that I enjoyed and all were written by people with experience or knowledge of the topic whether that be running a coffee shop in Kabul, being a female pilot during the second world war delivering broken aeroplanes for repair, or allowing women without a voice to tell the stories they wanted to read.

Royal wedding 2

The highlight of the wedding came from a most unlikely source: the address. Quite often, especially at grand royal affairs, you expect the address is to be non-provocative and slightly boring but the Presiding Bishop of the American Episcopal Church delivered it with all the flair you might expect of a black preacher. And passion. And words. Yes, it was quite long. But very worthwhile.

His message was simple: the power of love is the answer to the problems of the world. And love is from God. 

He mentioned the two commandments Jesus gave: to love God and to love your neighbour as yourself. He didn't go on to develop the neighbour bit although in the gospels Jesus did. When asked 'who is my neighbour?' he told the story of the Good Samaritan.

Precised down to basics, Jesus said to love your neighbour who is the woman down the street who gossips about you, the drunk in the gutter, the Muslim with whom you have a mutual distrust, the gay transgender who wants to marry for love, Donald Trump, the suicide bomber. You get the idea?

No-one said Christianity was an easy option.

Royal wedding 1

Royal wedding last weekend. Most of my friends on Facebook are pinky - or possibly scarlet - liberals and would have nothing to do with it but when I dared to say I was watching it a few came out of the closet and admitted they would too.

The bride looked gorgeous and so happy. The groom looked terrified. I loved Mike Tindall stroking his wife's pregnant belly. And David Beckham so jolly and smiley. Surprised to see one the York girls in crimplene. Hadn't realised it had made a comeback. The York girls. Hm, now there's a dynasty brewing that could challenge for the monarchy. Were we living a few centuries ago.

Music-wise apart from Stand By Me and Bread of Heaven it was rather drab I felt. Not quite cheery enough for a wedding. I understand a lot of it was suggested by Prince Charles. I assume the congregation was under strict instructions not to join in with Stand By Me but they could have at least jiggled. Or looked as if they were enjoying it. 

But a beautiful day for a couple who seem very happy together.

the lies they tell us

1. That women can multi-task. I left the kitchen for a moment to look at something on the computer and I burned my bacon.
Which leads to point 2. That things don't stick to (or burn on) non-stick pans.

Either a dead mouse or dog poo

We're strolling across the tip when I spot something. 'Look, a dead creature,' I say to Husband.
'Is it?' he says doubtfully.
'Yes, a mouse I think.' I look more closely. 'Or possibly a bird.'
I peer again. 'Or it might be a bit of tree. Or dog poo.'

Back in the real world the wild roses have started to bloom on the tip. I've said this before but I will say it again, 'I wish you could smell them.' Is there anything as sweet as the scent of a wild rose?
wild rose

dandelion clock

Little snippets

Daughter messages me to say they can't come to a barbecue because they're going to see unicorns.
'Unicorns?' I say.
I tell Husband. 'Oh yes,' he says knowingly.
I tell Younger Son. 'Oh yes,' he says.

How does everyone except me know about the unicorns?

Husband mentions that Amy's house suffered flooding. 'I didn't know that,' I say.
Husband says, 'Elder Son told us.'
'I must have missed that conversation. I was probably playing with children.'
'You're better at talking to children than to adults,' Husband says.

That's probably why I never know what's going on.

* * * * * * * * *
A homeless man in Zac's commented on my good tan. If a homeless man comments it must be getting good. Either that or he's just more used to my normal deathly pallor.

* * * * * * * * *
Checking the meaning of pallor (paleness) in the dictionary I came across the word, shigella. What a pretty word, I thought. Then I read the meaning. A rod-shaped bacterium in particular one that causes dysentery.

That doesn't stop it being a pretty word though. As Shakespeare said, 'A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.' (Okay, not entirely sure that's apt here but you get my gist.)

* * * * * * * * *
Radio One biggest weekend swansea
Our brief heatwave aka summer has been replaced today by grey clouds. Thunder is forecast for the weekend, which is coincidentally Radio One's Big Weekend, which brings stars including Ed Sheeran to the city. (He, Taylor Swift - who is a women despite her name - and George Ezra are the only ones I've heard of.) Fifty thousand people are attending. And it's a bank holiday giving us good reason to stock up with food and settle ourselves in the house/garden for the weekend.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

She would have been 97 today

It would have been my mother's 97th birthday today. I feel I should write something but on searching my blog I find I've already written plenty. Here's a link to one post that says most of what I would say.

However it is perhaps a good moment to encourage you - it's too late for me after all - to appreciate your parents and show them how much they mean to you.

My mother died about ten days after her first stroke but for that time in hospital didn't know me. It was too late then to sit at her bedside and tell her I loved her or ask her about how she'd felt when she had me or any of the other hundreds of questions I still have.

My mum, great-gran, gran and me: four generations living in the same house.

Feeling proud

I repaired the hoover!

Perhaps that sounds as though I did a bit more than I did but, on the other hand, it wasn't working and now it is, therefore I repaired it. Yes?

It was easy once I stopped trying to emulate Husband i.e. unscrewing everything in sight, poking it, and forcing bits apart, and instead consulted the manual. And the problem? George hair of course, blocking the tube.

Whence compassion?

Bloom is part of Linden Church, run by Rachel to support asylum seekers and refugees. About once a month Bloom takes over Red Cafe, a local coffee shop, and asylum seekers prepare a meal traditional from their country. For one reason or another we've missed Syrian, Sri Lankan and Iranian meals but we finally made it to the Pakistani meal last Saturday.

For starters we had wild garlic and potato soup. This was made by the Italian chef so possibly not entirely Pakistani in origin but very nice.
Then we had a dish made up of lots of tasters: chicken, lamb, vegetables, rice and sauces.
Delicious, as you can see from my empty plate.
We also met a young woman. Let's call her Jenny. Because she's in her early twenties her case for asylum was considered separately from that of her mother and younger sibling. Her request has just been turned down resulting in instant destitution. Her money was stopped and she lost her accommodation. And she's not allowed to have paid employment or live with her mother.

I assume the idea is to make her feel as unwelcome as possible so she reaches the state where she's glad to return to her native country. From which she fled. 

Where is humanity? Where is compassion? Where is decency?

I don't know her story but I hope to find it out.

First swim of the year

 Thinking about it. Do I really want to do this? Twenty degrees sounds a lot warmer than this feels.

Okay, after swimming nine lengths I am getting used to it. Or possibly I've just gone numb.

Bread is my downfall

'I've put on two pounds this week!' I exclaimed to Husband after our Tuesday morning weigh-in. 'How can that be?!'

Especially as he'd lost weight after spending much of the week doing nothing except lying in the sun.

I've come to the conclusion it's the bread. And the ice cream but we won't think about that. The trouble is once I start eating bread I can't stop. It's never just one slice. And I love it thickly lathered with butter. 

Also I've been rather remiss and casual about eating in general. I keep forgetting that the Slimming World (or any other club) diet isn't a diet; it's a way of life. In other words it's about changing the way I eat and cook food.

Can you hear my big sigh?

Okay then, I will do better this week. I will.

I was so disbelieving that I could have put on two pounds in one week that I decided to weigh again when I got up. Just in case it had been a blip. Husband said, 'Don't forget you've just drunk a cup of tea.'
'How much difference can that make?' I asked.

.2 of a kg is how much. Seriously? Tea weighs that much?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Which wild flowers can I pick?

I meant to list the Twelve wild flowers on the List. they are:
Common dog-violet (Viola riviniana)
Red campion (Silene dioica)
Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Greater stitchwort (Stellaria holostea)
Cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
Meadow buttercup (Ranunculus acris)
Oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)
Common knapweed (Centaurea nigra)
Daisy (Bellis perennis)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)

And if you're like me and unsure what some of these look like here they are:
Common knapweed


Cow parsley

Red Campion

wild flower I can pick
Lesser Stitchwort


Can I pick wild flowers?

I was wary of posting this photo on FaceBook. I feared Younger Son - and possibly others - would tell me off for picking wild flowers. And indeed YS did warn me that it is illegal to pick some wild flowers. However those are rare ones or those growing on private land or in conservation areas on the whole.

In fact the charity, Plantlife, is organising a Great British Wildflower Hunt. That means recording rather than picking them but it has listed twelve of the best to pick. It explains its reasons on the website - getting children back into nature, becoming familiar with and appreciating it - but its green light to pick has roused the anger of beekeepers

The Wildflower society says: Generally, uprooting is harmful, but picking with care and in moderation usually does little damage and can foster the appreciation of wild plants, which in turn benefits their conservation. 

In case you're worried the flowers I picked were from very large groupings (okay), on the list (okay) except for the bluebells but they were picked with care and in moderation, and not on private on conservation land (okay).

It is illegal, however, to sell wild bluebell bulbs or seeds.

When I was a small child my cousin, Lynne, and I were in Clyne Gardens and as we wandered around we picked some little flowers. Imagine our horror when we were suddenly surrounded - yes, surrounded - by what seemed to us little children to be huge policemen but I assume were park-keepers who told us off and confiscated our flowers.

So, no, I don't usually pick any sort of flower when I'm out. But these were in such abundance and so pretty.

Don't believe everything I say

So I led bible study and it went well. I enjoyed it and was enthused by the topic; I don't know if my audience was!

Before the start a young man asked me if he could read me the prayer he had written. It was lovely, heart-felt and honest. He had to leave early so i asked him if he'd read it to everyone at the start of the study. He agreed and did.

Turned out he was a bit of a showman so it was quite an entertaining few minutes but very worthwhile. He's had his problems and has been in jail and rehab. At the moment he's on the up so let's hope/pray he can maintain that.

For the study I was looking at Joseph and Nicodemus, the two members of the Jewish ruling council who buried Jesus. They'd both visited Jesus in secret previously: to show affiliation with him would have meant big trouble for them in the Sanhedrin. But at the end they made a decision; they believed what Jesus said. Although their action would have put them at odds with the rest of the ruling council they didn't care.

One of the points I was trying to make was that it was good to challenge long-held views, 'party lines' etc. Just because you've always been taught to think in one way it doesn't mean it's the right way. Biblical scholars can use and misuse the scriptures to suit themselves. The best way to check stuff out is to do the Jesus test: does this tie in with what you know about Jesus? Is this the way he would have acted/spoken?

I quoted some words from, Jeff, a preacher and fellow blogger:
We have to be careful how we discern what is right and noble and what is wrong and bad, lest we be misled. 

We may end up coming back to our original belief but we should still have enquiring minds and not take everything that is said to us as 'gospel'. I've written on here before about the dangers of believing everything we read on the internet but the advice applies to many facets of life.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I'm always late ... well nearly almost

I an attending a funeral at 1.30 today. I'm giving Lily a lift so I have to go into town first to pick her up. I don't want to be late so I planned to set off an hour before the funeral, which would work out at about 12.30. For most people that is.

I showered, dressed and said goodbye to Husband.
'You're a bit early, aren't you?'
'No, I'm picking up Lily, don't forget.'
'What time is the funeral?'
I looked at my watch. I had a think. 
'My watch says 11.36. So that means ... I'm an hour too early! Is that right?'
Husband nodded.
'Oh fiddle!'

George can't make a decision

George and I set off for a leisurely stroll this morning. I wanted to rehearse leading the bible study so we were going to meander slowly over the tip, nice flat ground. George was limping slightly but I wasn't in a hurry so I hoped it would ease off as his joints limbered up.

We had gone about 100 yards when George sat down.
And wouldn't move.

I gave him the choice: we can carry on or we can go home and give you some pain-killers. He still wouldn't move.

I took his lead off so he could show me what he wanted. He still didn't move.

After a few minutes of talking to him, pointing out that what ever he wanted to do I'd do but he couldn't just sit in the path I made a decision. 'Okay, we'll go home. We'll give you some tablets and try again later if you feel better.' I started walking back.

Eventually he got up and followed me but then stopped again.
Another debate. I pointed out that if he hadn't been so flirty with those pretty little bitches yesterday he wouldn't be in the state he is today. (Mean I know but true.) He gave me a dirty look. 

We got home finally. I think his heart wanted to go for a walk but his poor old hips said no. It is so sad to see him like this. 

Does anyone remember when he was a very little puppy? First times out too scared to go beyond the garden gate. 

It didn't take him long to realise there is a great big exciting - and food-laden - world out there and he began to escape at every opportunity.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Growing babies

International Dylan Thomas day
Today is International Dylan Thomas Day. How did I not know about it?

Apparently it is held every year on May 14th, a commemoration of the day Under Milk Wood was first read on stage in New York in 1953. Lots of events are taking place in Swansea (his birthplace), all over Wales and indeed the world. 

Anyway, belatedly, here's my favourite quote from Milk Wood:
"Nothing grows in our garden, except washing. And babies."

I loved that when my babies were small and it was oh so true. And what better thing is there to grow in your garden that babies? 

Making the most of sunshine and children

This morning I planned to do some preparation work for the bible study I'm leading tomorrow in Zac's. Then Nuora messaged me.

I told Husband, 'Change of plans: I'm not studying this morning; I'm going to the park with GrandSon4 instead. I am so bad.'
'No, you're not,' he said. 'You should take these opportunities while you can to enjoy the sunshine and play with grandchildren.'

I do love Husband.

Still when I got out of the shower and was rushing to get ready I remembered I'd planned to take off the sofa covers and wash them. I didn't have time to do it then and my first thought was about to be, 'You lazy stupid woman!' But I stopped myself. I recalled my decision to accept my inadequacies and not to put myself down at every chance. 'The weather forecast is good,' I told myself. 'I can do the covers tomorrow.'

P.S. I finished my study preparation this evening finally. Just have to practise it tomorrow.

Special moments in prison

There was a special moment in prison yesterday morning. The chaplain had just finished speaking when one of the inmates asked if he could say something. He's a man who's been inside for some time and nearly always comes to the Sunday service. He stood up and told his story.

He'd been walking along a dark lane one night when a car had come speeding around the corner and hit him. The only thing he knew was that he could see a bright light and then heard a woman's voice telling him to go back. 

He said that was why he believed in God. Because God had spared his life.

The other men applauded him.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Farm life

Not far from where we live you'll find the only city farm in Wales. Swansea Community Farm was set up by members of the community twenty years ago and is now a registered charity run by volunteers. 

"A city farm where volunteers care for livestock, wildlife and each other to improve community wellbeing and resilience."

For the first time today I visited it along with Younger Son, Nuora and GrandSon4. 

As well as all sorts of fowl they have sheep, pigs and donkeys, a vegetable growing area, and loads of fruit trees and bushes. And a superb mud kitchen!

A genuine mud pie.

The animals are mostly rare or Welsh breeds.

And best of all I got to feed a lamb!

Entry to the farm is free although donations are welcome.