Monday, December 31, 2007
On my best days I was getting 70 visitors and that's dropped to 30-something over the Christmas period, so I guess there's not much chance. I know! It can be my first New Year's 'resolution': to reach 20,000 visitors! Yay, that's one resolution I may be able to keep.
(Okay, I know that, strictly speaking, that's not a resolution but this is my blog so it can be if I say so.)
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Off for a curry tonight then an evening in front of the television, before 'settling our heads for a good winter's nap'. And who'll be first to wake tomorrow morning? Me or Daughter?
Anyway, a very good Christmas to all of you. I hope the day is everything you want it to be ... and more.
God bless us every one.
Monday, December 24, 2007
I played no role in the meeting; I was just there. But one of the prisoners gave me a Christmas kiss as I shook hands with them as they left. Knowing how strict the rules are about everything, I fully expected to be kept in prison! It's a different world with its own set of regulations. Not that I could have stopped him kissing me! At least we weren't in the segregated unit where the sex offenders are; in the chapel you just get the men who've stabbed their partners.
You know what it's like at this time of year: it's automatic to say, 'Have a good Christmas,' but how can you say that to someone in prison? I stuck to the old favourite, 'God bless you.' It's a pat saying but God's blessing can transform lives.
It was the same in Zac's on Tuesday.
On Thursday evening Zac's is the venue for a coffee bar for the homeless. Tuesday night was very cold and when I arrived there, several homeless men and women were collecting clean clothes or sleeping bags, and a few were tempted by the warmth to stay for the Bible study (and mince pies and hot drinks).
It was an eye-opener. I'd been thinking pretty well of myself for going to Zac's and blending in with those on the edge but I'd been fooling myself. Those who go to the Bible studies are on the edge and include addicts, ex-addicts, bikers, homeless, but fall off their edge and you'll land on a ledge that's a few steps from the sheer drop.
And that's when I was reminded of how meaningless a phrase can be. The homeless men were generous and wished me a good Christmas, and one said, 'May your angel go ahead of you.'
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Last night I went shopping. I love buying presents! And I'm fortunate that we can afford it. Not wildly expensive gifts, you understand, just nice things. Like books.
In Borders I picked up one book I wanted and spotted it had a 'buy one, get one half price' sticker. Well, I couldn't ignore such a bargain so searched for another one to go with it. I found two. That meant, obviously, that I had an odd number so needed another one.
Thus I went in for one book and ended up with four. But one of them would be free. So really it was a good money-saving move on my part. And a book is never a waste of money. Well, almost never.
Husband suggested that, while, I was in the shops, I could look for some presents for myself, as he has only bought me four - and I suspect that includes two pairs of individually-wrapped socks. I did try on some clothes in M&S but the lighting in the changing-room was very bright and shining right on my nose, which was doing a seasonal impression of Rudolf's. It was impossible to look good in anything with that glowing back at me.
* * * * * * * * * *
George refuses to contemplate a world that includes people who don't like dogs. Fortunately our neighbours do. Very fortunately as he managed to get over the adjoining wall this morning and into their garden. Then into their house - where he found - oh, bliss - a pile of washing waiting to be done, and he stole a sock. Husband managed to get it off him before he ate it, as he did one of mine the other day.
As I write Husband is outside erecting a fence.
Friday, December 21, 2007
He stole my towel!
* * * * * * * * *
Staff lunch went well today. We all brought and shared and had a jolly time. There was some discussion about who was going to run in the Swansea Bay 10K next year. A group from Linden is doing it to raise awareness and money for charity. Chris asked me if I were entering. I pointed out that big-bosomed ladies and running don't go together. Not even in sports bras.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
On Sunday evening it was Linden's annual Christmas concert. One of the highlights each year is the choir put together for the occasion. After just three rehearsals, this is what they came up with.
Please excuse the very bad filming. I am learning!
Over on his blog, Saintly Nick did a meme that involve writing a letter to his 13-year-old self from where he is now. I said I might do it but I'm not going to; it's too much like something my therapist would get me to do.
Do you like that? The way I casually dropped in that I have a therapist? Actually I haven't seen for months as he's always in Cambodia or Russia or somewhere (the places people will go to get away from me) but, for a time, a few years ago, I saw him regularly.
I was very anxious about everything and it was affecting my life generally until the doctor finally gave me my happy pills and I began seeing my therapist. In truth I think the pills do more good but I have learned things about myself through the therapy.
Back to the photos. I grew up alongside my cousin who was six months older than me. Six months older, and a million times prettier and more confident. She was the pretty one; I was the clever one (at least in comparison). And I would have given all my brains to be her then.
If I were to say anything to my 13-year-old self it would be this: you're not fat or ugly; you have a right to be here; don't spend your life hiding; be yourself; you're pretty damn special.
I hate the word Xmas. Not because I'm a Christian, not because it takes Christ out of Christmas, but because it's an ugly, harsh word that ill-fits the season.
I have to admit to being a little out of tune at Christmas. I am sort of inclined to the view that taking Christ out of Christmas would be a good thing.
I love the season, the fun, the music, the family time and I adore buying presents for my children and seeing them pleased. But every now and again I start guiltily and think, 'oh, it's Christmas; I should be thinking about Jesus.'
The Christmas spirit does infiltrate the secular world, even during the busyness. There is a feeling of goodwill that isn't there at other times. I do believe this. I am all in favour of the holiday.
But for Christians, everyday should be a celebration of Christ's birth and a remembrance of his death. The actual date and time isn't known anyway. So maybe we should change the name of the holiday while still celebrating.
And daily live more Christ-infused lives.
But then again, who knows how many hearts are touched by something that is seen or heard over the Christmas period. It's an opportunity - through concerts or carol services - that Christians don't get very often to talk freely and openly about God to people who aren't there to listen for most of the year. And while the majority of those people will leave with nothing, maybe one or two will grasp at the outstretched hand.
Oh, I love Christmas!
Ah, yes, we were good!
I have no idea why some prayers are answered as we want while some - many - aren't. I don't understand God. If I did, I would be God and I wouldn't want that. I'd much rather be his dependent child.
My cousin had ovarian cancer. As I've said before, she was convinced until her last breath that God was going to heal her. It was hard for the rest of us who could see her steadily weakening. Although we knew God could work a miracle, it didn't look likely.
One day she phoned me and said she'd been asking God for forgiveness. Now my cousin was the sweetest, most innocent, loving and trusting person you could have met so I was puzzled as to what needed such particular forgiveness. She explained, 'I haven't had enough faith in God; that's why he's not healing me.'
I was cross with her for believing such rot. Healing doesn't depend on us. If it did, we wouldn't need God. And I wouldn't think much of a god who said, 'Your prayers don't come up to my standard so I'm not answering them.' A god who thought I wasn't good enough.
No, of course I'm not good enough. That's why Jesus was born - and died.
God does want us to ask him for things. Why he doesn't always give them to us is a mystery. But I do know that someone's healing won't depend on how much or how hard I pray. How much guilt could we inflict upon ourselves if that were the case?
The days numbered for me are already written in a book. Can God be persuaded to change his mind? Now that's the question.
Plus I was pretty fed up to discover that Homebase had finished selling Christmas decorations. So, like, everyone's got their decorations up already then?
So not an altogether successful shopping trip but I have made a decision and that's given me a bit more time. My life - probably like yours - is concertina-ed at the moment: lots and lots in a small space. It's the last Zac's before Christmas tonight; it's also the prison carol service beforehand so I've decided to skip the prison. It would mean leaving George alone for a long time otherwise. And that gives me a bit more time to ... get the tree decorated.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
He hasn't quite got the idea of 'fetch' yet. I throw the stick, he sits down and looks at me.
I run and fetch the stick, and he follows me.
I throw the stick; he sits down and looks at me.
I give up after five attempts.
On the way back I tell him about the wuffles who live down drains and eat yucky things. 'Puppies who eat horsey poo become wuffles and live down drains.'
'I don't want to live down a drain.'
'Don't eat any more horsey poo then!'
Monday, December 17, 2007
On the bit of wall that will be covered by wallpaper - come the revolution or completion, whichever is first - I've painted holly! And Husband stuck up the lights and I wound tinsel round. Now, isn't that just brilliant? Don't you wish you had a half-decorated hall on which you could something similar? I thought so.
I have 98% of a 1 litre tin of specially-mixed, bright green paint if you need some ...
Sunday, December 16, 2007
On a more cheerful point, in the Archers, Linda Snell is organising the Ambridge Christmas concert and Eddie Grundy is plucking turkeys so I know it must definitely be nearly Christmas.
And I caught on Oneword Radio an episode of Cold Comfort Farm, read by Eileen Atkins. I had forgotten just how funny it is. It must go on my re-read list.
There are two more things I want to write about but I've run out of time. Back tomorrow.
Part of the clean-up involved hanging photos. Husband drills holes in the wall and I take on the role of lovely assistant holding the hoover attachment nozzle underneath the drill to catch the dust. I took up position today and he started drilling. I have done this many times so am quite expert at it, thus it was that I was puzzled as the dust seemed to be flying everywhere except into the hoover. I jiggled it around a bit and then Husband said, 'It might work better if you switched it on.'
Saturday, December 15, 2007
It sparkles so you put it out on Christmas Eve to lead the reindeer to your house.
Another lady there was buying some. She said, 'It's for my daughter. She's only three; she loves things like that.'
I was going to say I was buying it for the dogs but thought they might think I was a bit silly so I said, 'I'm buying it for my daughter too; she's 27.'
At which point the receptionist joined in. 'My daughter's 27 too and she still loves things like that. I still have to do a Christmas stocking for her.'
Well, of course. It's part of tradition.
It starts off with children being too excited to sleep and parents having to stay up till late on Christmas Eve to creep in with their stockings. Then it gets to the point that the children go out on Christmas Eve, don't get in until late so parents have to stay up late to creep in. Then it reaches the point Daughter is at where she goes to bed early but is too excited to sleep ... and so on. Parents are destined for a lifetime of late Christmas Eves. It's in the contract.
* * * * * * * * *
Cleaning today and getting ready for picking up trees tomorrow. The bad news is that George has discovered that if he takes a running leap he can get onto the sofas. Then he prances triumphantly from end to end before burying his nose down behind the cushion so you can't see him. Is it wise to have one Christmas tree, let alone two, when you have a puppy? Of course, it's not. But as a puppy concession we won't have any chocolate on them this year. Or broccoli. George would climb a mountain for broccoli. (As long as it didn't involve any big open spaces. I'm hoping he's not slightly agoraphobic: he likes cupboards but not fields.)
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
We've just been for a nice meander around the old adventure playground that isn't there any more. With George sticking to my heels closer than ... um ... I'll come back to that when I've thought of an appropriate simile (simile?)... I told him about the real adventures we would have.
'We'll fight pirates!'
'Okay, we'll sail the nine seas (there are more continents than I thought so there must be more seas) with pirates and visit treasure islands and play in the sand. We'll have tea and cake with hobbits. We'll meet dragons ...'
'... and have deep philosophical discussions. We'll drink blackberry wine and dance with fairies.'
'That sounds a bit girly.'
'Okay, we'll swim down the Amazon.'
'What about the crocodiles?'
'They don't have crocodiles in our Amazon; that's only in the real Amazon. We'll ... well, tell me what would you like to do?'
'Have a treat?'
He is only little. He will be a hero when he grows up. We will have adventures.
Now all I have to do is:
go up to the attic;
find the box of old photos;
rummage through to find suitable snaps;
adjust size and shape to fit holes;
Note to self.
Next year either:
a) start shopping in August;
or b) buy chocolates or plants or anything that doesn't take three hours of my valuable time. When I could be blogging.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Now that singing mug. How does it work? There is no obvious sign of anything mechanical or electrical, and surely you couldn't wash it if it were sensitive? It must be magic; that's the only logical answer.
not purchase it? Although when it sang all the way to the car I began to understand why there were so many left on the shelf.
Then I saw a young woman in white hipster jeans and an orange t-shirt that ended at her navel. I became my granny. 'You will so get a cold in your kidleys, my girl.'
Finally, when Betty and I were sitting at traffic lights a porsche pulled up behind us. 'Don't worry, Betty,' I said, 'he's a very much younger cousin of yours. Just because he's driven by Mr Cool, with shades on and the roof down doesn't mean anything. I'm cool the instant I sit in you.' I didn't add that might have something to do with the gap around the door frame; like all women, she's very sensitive about her condition.
When we got there I told George we would have adventures the like of which he had never even dreamed. He said that a field with no end and full of strange smells was quite enough adventure for one day, thank you, mummy.
And on the way back we met Marty, an eleven-month-old Scottie, and two people who thought George was gorgeous.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
And I'm having a hot flush.
But apart from that, Mrs Lincoln ...
Oh, yes, and after I'd finished using the silver paper, I found the matching tags I'd bought. And I remembered that my card list is on the computer and I could have printed another one off ...
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
1. Do you put up a real tree or artificial? Real. Two of them. One in the lounge and one in the hall.
2. When do you put up your tree? A week or so before Christmas. Usually in time for Elder Son’s birthday on 18th, so this coming weekend.
3. When do you take down the tree? Twelfth Night of course!
4. Do you like eggnog? No, no, no, yucky!
5. Favourite gift received as a child? Transistor radio so I could listen to radio Luxembourg in bed!
6. Worst Christmas gift ever received? Men’s hair-cutting kit.
7. Favourite Christmas movie? White Christmas.
8. Have you ever recycled a present? Oh yes, but I’m not saying what!
9. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Chocolate!
10. Favourite Christmas song? A Winter’s Tale sung by the gorgeous David Essex. Sad of course.
11. Most annoying thing about this time of year? I can’t think of anything! There must be something; can I come back to this?
12. What you love most about the holiday? Watching the children’s excitement. Doctor Who.
13. How many reindeer did Santa have? Nine including Rudolph.
14. Best Christmas memory? I forget.
15. If you could have one Christmas wish what would it be? Is this for myself or for mankind?
And I tag Furtheron.
At work, I found three emails waiting for me from my boss (who's been on holiday for a week). In each email she asked me if I'd done something she'd asked me to; my answer in each case was 'no'. Did I mention that it's my job that's vital, not me?
Then later, on my own in the office, I heard someone come in downstairs. I was expecting that someone to come upstairs but no-one did and it all went quiet. I decided I should check it out, just in case someone was raiding the tuck shop and stealing all the chocolate.
I stomped down the stairs, banging a lot and singing loudly (which in itself is enough to frighten the bravest man). I wanted to give the intruder plenty of opportunity to escape; I didn't want to have to inflict my famous karate kick on anyone.
And it worked. For when I crept into the kitchen, it was empty. As was the rest of the building.
A little while later I again heard someone come in. This time there were footsteps and they were coming up the stairs. I took up my leg-raised karate-kick-prepared pose inside the office and waited.
It was Alun. His ribs are now bruised - from laughing so much.
I might not be much good at admin but I make a great security guard.
Monday, December 10, 2007
* * * * * * * * *
Writing Christmas cards this afternoon I was overtaken by a sense of maudlin.
When I was a child, my great-grandmother lived with us. Hers was a large family and they all gathered at our house for Christmas parties. We children came in varying ages and the group I belonged to consisted, in descending age order, of Sue, Spencer, Howard, Lynne, me and John. Sue, Spencer and and Howard all died of cancer before they reached fifty.
When Howard died, Lynne phoned me (we hadn't been in touch with each other for some time for no particular reason). Neither of us said it but I think she just wanted reassurance that I was still alive. Obviously she knew that I was but she - and I - both needed some sort of normality in the face of such awfulness. If that makes any sense.
And it hit me again when looking at my Christmas card list, probably partly because we've had a card from the parents of my friend who died on Christmas Eve about 10 years ago. She was 39. Cancer again.
I knew I shouldn't have written this post.
I need a cuddle from George.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Two folding tables have gone missing as well.
Life. as the king of Siam might have said, is a puzzlement.
P.S. We do have lights on the tree. Chris went out and bought some. Blow the expense; if someone has to be made redundant to pay for it, so be it. I can safely say that: my job has been classified as vital. (Note it's the job that's vital not me.)
P.P.S. The good news is that the free packet of clotted cream shortbread that came with our Viking order wasn't in the box I droppped down the stairs.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
It makes me wish I lived in the Midlands. According to my mother-in-law, it never rains there. Our telephone conversations go something like this.
M-i-l: The weather's been atrocious, hasn't it?
Me: No, it's been fine here.
M-i-l: Well, yes, it hasn't been that bad here either. Just the occasional little shower.
When we visit - as we're doing this weekend - if it's raining, it's my fault. 'You must have brought it with you because it was lovely before you arrived.'
(I'm not serious about living in the Midlands. How do people survive when they haven't got the sea on their doorsteps?)
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
The answer to that question, when you're more ham-fisted than a bacon pig, is 'very hard'.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
I told him, 'You could be a short, fat, cross-eyed Greek* but if you can lead a woman around the dance floor, you'll be in demand.'
Dance classes should be part of the national curriculum. Not an optional extra but as compulsory as Maths and English. Even with the current interest in Strictly Come Dancing, dance classes are still depressingly bereft of young people. It's only old people, like me, who have suddenly realised what they're missing.
Husband and I started going for dance lessons (*with a short, fat, cross-eyed Greek teacher) before Daughter's wedding as she wanted a swing band at the reception. We haven't been able to continue as Husband works away so much - and we've probably forgotten most of what we learned - but we would love to take it up again.
Even though we attended for quite a while, we're still very much beginners - how the amateurs on SCD manage to pick it up so quickly and so well is amazing - and have to stop and start again. Even counting ourselves in can be fraught as Husband takes so long and I just want to get going. Oh, yes, I should say, if you're married or a couple and thinking of learning to dance, make sure your relationship is VERY strong before you begin. The number of evenings we came home from dance class arguing ...
But the pleasure of the rhythm and the movement and occasionally getting it right: mmm, yes. And I have to say, as woman, that being led around a dance floor by a man who knows what he is doing and who is holding you tight and almost carrying you, is just wonderful; you can imagine you're Rogers with Astaire, or Fonteyn with Nureyev - or Morecambe with Wise (when it's me and Husband).
And, after all, the rumba - the 'come on' - and the tango - climatic - originated in South America, developed by a hot-blooded, passionate people. There's nothing tame about these dances: they stir the emotions to become a potent simmering brew of sex on the dance floor - when done properly.
When done by Husband and me, it's a different story.
It's hard to look seductive when your lips are moving - 1-2-3-pause, 1-2-3-pause - and your own eyes are crossed with the effort of concentration.
Monday, December 03, 2007
b) Browsing through the Makro catalogue, Husband surmised that he probably wouldn't be very popular if he bought me a laser hair-removal kit for Christmas. I told him he was quite correct.
c) On reflection, I can forget about work even when I am in the office.
The lady who was baptised has had a rotten life. She grew up being told she was bad, and when bad things happened, she was told it was her fault because she was bad. How can people destroy others in that way? What makes them say such things?
Anyway, she's become a Christian and her life is showing a great change. She's not 'there' yet - which one of us is? - but she is well on her way and the change is visible in her face, in her very skin.
Husband very kindly allowed me to take the camcorder along. he showed me how to do the basics so I sat and filmed all the talky bit fine and dandy. Then it was time for the baptism and I got up and walked round to the end of the pool to get a better angle. And at some point in that process, I stopped recording. And forgot to start again. So I missed the actual dunking.
Sometimes I think I shouldn't be let out without a minder.
George loved Holly. He especially loved biting her ears, her ankles, her tail, her tummy ...
Holly was very patient but they had a few good 'fights', tumbling over and over each other. I think I shall have to adopt Holly's technique of flattening George and pinning him down when he gets too bitey.
Husband had a new digital camcorder for his birthday. (I suggested he might like one so we could film George.) We have one of their 'fights' on record. If I can work out how to edit and upload it, I'll put some up here.
I forget about work when I am on holiday. Heck, I forget about work when I leave the office. Even if I'm only going to make a cup of tea.
* * * * * * * * * *
Alun had to go to a meeting today. As he was leaving the office he tried to lock me in, condemning me to a fate worse than death: two hours without chocolate. (We have those locks that can only be opened from the outside.) When that failed, he turned off the light on the stairs, obviously hoping I'd fall down them. I don't know why he did this to me; I am sure I have not been rude to him recently. No more than usual anyway.
* * * * * * * * *
I stopped on the way home at a postbox. As I pulled in, a man walked into the middle of the road and took a photo of the white lines. 'Unusual hobby you have,' I said.
'I collect toothpaste lids too,' he said.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Husband is 5'8" and I am 5'5". (May I add that it was Husband who pointed this out: I am not in the habit of comparing heights and ages.)
And this is Husband's birthday cheesecake.
Daughter is cooking dinner for us tonight; I shall post photos of that later.