Daybook Entry – 27th May 2015


021114_2314_DaybookEntr1.jpgFOR TODAY 27th May (Happy Birthday Alan x) 

Outside my window… It feels like Autumn! So cold I’ve had to put the heating on again.

I am thinking… about getting over the finishing line with my OU modules. I submitted my first piece of work earlier this week and I have got two left which need to be done before next Tuesday. I can see myself doing it, but when I come to actually do it (like, put hands to keyboard or pen in hand) I can’t seem to make any progress.

I am thankful… that I have had this chance to learn more about music and to push myself creatively and academically.

In the kitchen… I have a bundle of home-grown rhubarb from my Dad’s garden that needs making up into a crumble.

I am wearing… blue t-shirt, blue tracksuit bottoms and my favourite pair of socks.

I am creating… Celtic knots. In the midst of my end-of-module stress I needed to find something that would be completely different and would give my mind something else to think about, so I taught myself how to draw Celtic knotwork designs.

 

 

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I am going… to a small ceremony to scatter my Aunty Jackie’s ashes tomorrow.

I am praying… for my father in law who is very poorly in body and mind; my cousins for tomorrow; my daughter who has had the last exam of her law degree today and is now facing The Rest Of Her Life; that the Royal Navy medical staff pass her fit so she can begin training this year; my husband who needs some TLC at the minute.

I am wondering… if I’m going to pass my modules this summer. Ithink I will, but it’s not the same as knowing I will.

I am reading… “Holy Island” by L J Ross. I think it is the same book I was reading the last time I did a daybook entry, but I have not had much time for reading recently. Must get that rectified after next week!

I am hoping… the weather is good tomorrow. My son has marching practice with the band he is playing for on Whit Friday tomorrow morning. I don’t think they’ll be happy if it’s raining in the morning.

I am looking forward to… having some time to relax and not worry about hitting a deadline. The past couple of months have been a bit mad in that respect.

I am learning… connected to the Celtic knotwork above, I am learning not to feel guilty about time away from “duties” of studying and working for my degree.

Around the house… ummm things are definitely messy. Got lots of stuff still from my parents in law’s bungalow to sift through and either store or throw away, and even though the bathroom is clean (one of my favourite procrastination techniques) there is plenty that has been left for too long.

I am pondering… what module to do next year. Do I continue with creative writing and venture into the world of screenplays and TV work? Or do I pursue music, which though it will be interesting I feel will be pushing beyond what I need to know for my own enjoyment (and which has an exam at the end). Or do I stop now and allow room for OLM things to come through? Or, do I do creative writing until OLM comes through (if it ever will), or do I do both music AND writing so I will definitely get my degree this time next year but put myself through incredible stress to do it and risk shutting out OLM things? Or can I do all three? Or something else… Children’s Literature for example. Or Roman Myths and Legends. Decisions, decisions.

A favourite quote for today… Me: You know that Westboro Baptist Church? Kevin: Is that the one in Chadderton? (Doesn’t understand why I fall about laughing)

One of my favourite things… used to be reading in my nice comfy bed before I went to sleep. But we recently got a new mattress and I’ve gone from having Baby Bear’s bed to Daddy Bear’s bed. My spine certainly feels the difference but it has spoiled my late night read. Sigh…

A few plans for the rest of the week: still got a song to write and an analysis essay to write for my OU module (which I might work on while I’m in the car waiting for Ethan tomorrow morning), scattering ashes in the afternoon, healing service in the evening, Whit Friday on Friday (not going myself, but Ethan needs taxiing about), church on Sunday, finishing off my music and essay over the weekend.

A peek into my day…

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The very long score I have to analyise and then write an essay on.

 

 

 

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Me at work whilst watching the State Opening of Parliament. Probably not the best idea.

 

 

 

Don’t Quit


I want to share the following poem with you today for my own inspiration as much as anyone else’s. It’s called “Don’t Quit” and I have been familiar with it for a number of years. My Mum gave me a little card with it on when I was going through a particularly bad patch about 16 years ago and every now and again I revisit it to remind myself that, just as I came through that spell, so too will I come through this one.

As life has progressed and as I have got older, the nature and the depth of the “bad spells” have varied. First it was relationship things, you know the type, the “who am I in this partnership?” crises we experience when we are in the “bedding in” stage of a relationship. Then came “I haven’t got the energy to keep up with a toddler” type of bad spell. Where things seem so out of your control and your comfort zone you decide that you are simply the worst parent in the world and your child/children would be better off anywhere else rather than with you. There may be the other type of relationship crises – the “I hate you and what you have made me become” stage. Then comes the financial crises, the employment crises, and now at this stage of life, the bereavement crises and the beginnings of health crises.

I am not alone, I can’t be. I’m sure there are many many people who will identify with one or more of these staging posts in life and we know, don’t we, that we will get through them one by one if we simply tell ourselves “don’t quit”. I have a deep Christian faith and I consider myself to be a spiritual person, and my belief is that one day, when human life is over, there is something better for us. A fairer and infinitely more loving, beautiful something. But until then, how do we cope? Well the first way is to be a bit more forgiving – of myself as well as others. By letting up on myself I am giving myself space to breathe and to regroup. Just as the poem below says, having a rest from the struggle is not the same thing as giving up.

I do feel weary at the minute. Not just in body, but in spirit and mind too. There has been a lot to cope with recently and there is still a lot going on that can’t be ignored. Some of you will know about the situation with my parents in law, and you may know about my ongoing health problem too. Along with those things I am finding it difficult just now because my two modules with the OU are coming to an end and I have major deadlines to hit next week. They are both creative modules, and it isn’t easy being wonderfully joyously creative when my emotions are strung out and my body is creaking. Composing a song, writing a complete publication-ready short story and reflective commentary, and writing a music analysis essay are all there on my “to do” list along with my other responsibilities this week such as exam invigilation at the school.

We have had a financial set back too. We already have an IVA in place, which means that we have no access to credit for the next 5 years and with the one wage coming in things are tight. Kevin’s April salary was the first one of his new wage in which he took a pay cut, but knowing that it was coming, we have been saving up for a “rainy day”. Or a different car (which is now so unreliable I won’t drive it on a motorway).

The rainy day came this weekend when after nearly 12 months of painful sleep we decided we had enough cash saved up to buy a new bed. So we tested out the ones in the shop to see how firm we needed the mattress to be and came home to find one online cheaper. Well you would wouldn’t you? After nearly two hours of hunting and comparing on various sites we ordered one and paid for it. I went downstairs to make a brew to recover from the ordeal, to find that the fridge freezer had broken. Nothing in the fridge was cold to the touch and the freezer was all slushy. The temperature gauges both said that they were working but clearly, they weren’t as our food was starting to go off. The little bit of money we had left over from saving on the mattress has now gone on a new fridge. It would have been nice to have it for something good like a holiday (or a car) but needs must I suppose.

Whilst on the one hand I’m so grateful that we had the money there to pay for the unexpected emergency, on the other it just makes life feel like it’s a grind. Surviving for so long on just enough to get by takes its toll on morale and spirits are most definitely flagging at the minute.

I’m tired, so very tired, but this poem has helped me see that it is all worth it and to just keep going. Tomorrow. After a rest.

dont quit2

Daybook Entry – 14th May 2015


FOR TODAY 14th Maye99db-simple-woman-daybook-large

Outside my window… it has only just gone dark. Summer is on the way!

I am thinking… about how good it feels to have both my children under my roof at the same time.

I am thankful… for the honesty and soul-baring tonight at our study group. My church family is a good gang and a loving place to share life’s ups and downs.

In the kitchen… we had tuna pasta for tea tonight. Team effort between Kevin and myself and it was very tasty.

I am wearing… my reading glasses to do this on my laptop. My eyes are most definitely feeling their age!

I am creating… my end of module assessment work for both my OU modules. They are due in on 28th May and 2nd June, and so between now and then I will be creating a written piece on a historical figure, writing a song setting for some words they have given us from the OU and writing an analytical essay on a Mozart Sonata. Excited about two of them, dreading the other one. Can you guess which one?

I am going… to clean the house from top to bottom over the weekend. I have been so busy with studying and working at school these last couple of weeks it feels like my poor home has been neglected.

I am praying… for my father in law; my friend Rita; my brother and his family.

I am wondering… if my heroic medicine will work overnight.

I am reading… a crime thriller called “Holy Island” which is by a new author, L J Ross. I have only got a little way into it so far but the prose is good and the set up is promising. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I am hoping… my friend has a good holiday next week.

I am looking forward to… having some time to be more creative once these OU modules are over. Honestly, I have loved every minute of the work on them this year, but I am looking forward to them being over so I can do other things for a little while.

I am learning… about Jesus’ ministry according to John. Fascinated to discover that he saw it differently from the other three gospel writers.

Around the house… is loads of stuff from my parents in law’s house as well as our usual rubbish. They could easily come and film an episode of Hoarders here this week.

I am pondering… which mattress to buy for our bed. The one we have already has been fantastic for about 9 years and it is at the end of its natural life now and I have been looking for an equivalent one to replace it with. Technology has moved on since we bought this one, especially when it comes to “toppers” on mattresses. They seem to be pretty standard issue now, which is great news because having slept on a memory foam topped mattress for so long I don’t think I could go back to just springs again!

A favourite quote for today… “If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”.

One of my favourite things… is reading a book at bedtime.

A few plans for the rest of the week: work tomorrow, band tomorrow night, housework on Saturday, church Sunday, band playing in Todmorden town centre Sunday afternoon.

A peek into my day… this photo was taken this time last week when I was working on my sermon for last Sunday. I can’t believe this is the first chance I’ve had to share it with you! I have been so busy with different things that I haven’t had chance to blog properly this week (guilt-free anyway) and I wanted to show you this to show you part of the “creative process” I go through when I write. This was for a sermon, but I go through a similar thing for any article or piece I write for publication or my OU work. You can see the notes, the outline, the source books (in this case the Bible) and a commentary in this case. You can also see the most precious of all and that’s my cup of tea by the side of the keyboard. No creative exercise is complete without a decent brew! What you can’t see here is the two-screen display on the white shelf above the keyboard, and you can’t hear the fantastic music I’d found on Spotify to help me through. It was instrumental worship music and was so soothing, uplifting, calming, inspiring and generally the best thing to work along to.

 

Preparing a sermon
Preparing a sermon

Look out for the next Daybook. Hopefully it won’t be too far away!

The Listerine Pedicure


You will have seen the internet meme that went viral about using Listerine and vinegar to help get rid of the hard skin on your feet. Surely girls, you have seen it?

Being cursed with horny hoofs myself, I thought it was something to have a go at to see if it could help. I mean, what could go wrong? It was only mouthwash, vinegar and warm water – nothing too sinister and if it didn’t work, the worst that could happen was that my feet would be as they were before.

So I decided to give it a go.

foot soak

Not wanting to bust a fiver on “proper” Listerine, I thought it might work just as well with a cheaper alternative. After all, the active ingredient was bound to be the same. Wasn’t it?

The one I chose was blue, just like Listerine, and instead of the hefty fiver from Morrisons yesterday, I thought I would try it with their own brand. At 95p it wouldn’t be a waste of money and I wouldn’t feel bad if it didn’t work.

The other ingredient in this cocktail was “white vinegar”, which if you are from the USA you will no doubt be able to get by the bucket load, but here in the good old UK, the closest I could manage was “distilled vinegar”. Well, it was see through so it was bound to be the same, no?

So I set about putting together the foot-bath this evening after the consumption of a bottle of wine.

First of all I looked at the quantities for the recipe. It stated “1/4 cup mouthwash, 1/4 white vinegar and 1/2 cup of warm water. Now, ladies, I don’t know about you but a cup can be anything from a dainty tea cup to a great big Sports Direct mug here in England, can’t it?? I thought that maybe the cups I use might be ok, but as it turned out, they produced only a small amount of liquid. Wasn’t even enough to drown a mouse in let alone soak my big trotters.

I thought that so long as maintained the ratios, things wouldn’t go too badly so I tipped the full bottle of mouthwash (500ml) and the full bottle of distilled vinegar (568ml) into a small plastic box (I was banned from using the washing up bowl – “ew, we wash the POTS in that!”) and added two bottles-worth of hot water to the mix.

It certainly looked like the picture on the internet but…blimey, the SMELL was nothing like I could have anticipated.

If you think of mint sauce that has been left on a buffet table all afternoon in the height of summer you will be somewhere near the horrific aroma that came up from this bowl of blue foam. Nevertheless I went ahead and plunged my feet into it and was quite surprised to find that it was quite nice.

For about three seconds.

And then the split under my little toe on my right foot and the hang-nail on my right big toe made themselves known. Don’t forget ladies, this mixture – albeit a pleasant shade of blue – is a quarter part of vinegar. Which is acidic. And makes cuts and splits sting like mad.

The towel I had handy for drying after my foot-soak was swiftly deployed as an anti-scream device, which brought much hilarity for my son and my husband. Apparently, watching your mum’s feet turn blue while tears are streaming down her face as she tries to stop herself swearing is fantastic fun. Whaddya know??

The stings calmed down after a few minutes and my feet settled into their little warm, minty bath quite nicely. The stink continued though and I started to get a bit uncertain about how much it would linger overnight. I am due in work tomorrow. Not just “work” work, but “exam invigilating in a room full of teenagers all morning” kind of work. And I’m due at a family funeral at lunchtime. Oh boy. This was not going to end well!

However, after a fifteen minute soak (during which time the water went very cold, very quickly) I jumped under the shower to try to wash off the minty/vinegary smell. I used my usual pumice on the hard skin and be honest, apart from a slight blue tinge around my nails, my feet feel FANTASTIC.

There is a lingering tingle from the mouthwash, and I’m yet to see if I wake up with smurf-feet in the morning, but all in all it is well worth the effort because my feel feel lovely and soft now, and the pumice was much easier to use because of the pre-soak earlier on.

Pam’s Verdict:

Softness of skin – 10/10

Freshness feeling 10/10 (good to use in summer perhaps when feet are hot and tired?)

Hard skin removal 5/10 (no different from a “normal” foot soak really)

Entertainment value for the family 15/10!

 

 

Daybook Entry – 3rd May 2015


e99db-simple-woman-daybook-largeFOR TODAY 3rd May 2015

Outside my window… it is dark and very very quiet. Not even any traffic noise tonight either from the main road or the motorway. Unusual. Usually at this time of night there is at least the sound of a siren or two. Still, mustn’t complain. Summer’s round the corner and things will get lively enough then.

I am thinking… about the amount of work I have got to get through in the next three weeks. Daunting isn’t the word.

I am thankful… for my family.

In the kitchen… we had a jointed chicken, roast potatoes and veg for tea. Nobody was in the mood for anything else so the jam roly poly is still in the freezer. For now.

I am wearing… a big smile because Emma is home overnight tonight.

I am creating… lots of notes for my end of module assessment for Creative Writing, and lots of other types of notes for my last assignment and my end of module assessment for Inside Music. And a blanket (which has been on the go for too long now and I want to see the back of!)

I am going… to visit my father in law tomorrow. He’s in an “assessment centre” at the minute having been placed there just before my mother in law died because he was not safe to live at home any longer. He still hasn’t had a formal assessment yet but it is more than obvious that he is suffering from dementia. The trouble is that either it has been hidden for a very long time or is progressing rapidly because he seems to have hit milestone after milestone in the six weeks he’s been there which we would have expected years in between. He also has a chest infection as of yesterday and is quite poorly in himself so we’re going to go and see him tomorrow to see how he is. Things don’t feel too good though and personally I think he’s had another TIA. We’ll see tomorrow.

I am praying… for my father in law Arthur; my husband Kevin who has “lost” both parents in the space of a few weeks recently (his mum died and his dad as you have read above is not with us any longer)

I am wondering… what all that thumping and banging was yesterday in the bungalow when we were clearing out my parents in law’s loft…

I am reading… “22 Dead Little Bodies” by Stuart MacBride (it’s not as grim as it sounds, I promise!)

I am hoping… to get my next sermon written tomorrow so I have a few days for it to ‘stew’. I’m preaching again next Sunday – excited much!)

I am looking forward to… finishing my studies at the end of June. Whilst I have loved both modules and I have learned a lot, it has been very difficult to manage them both recently especially with the family upheaval we have experienced. I have had to put lots of things off because my time has been tied up trying to catch up since Easter and I’m looking forward to things like being able to crochet without feeling guilty that I’ve not got my nose in a book. I have an urge to paint too, but because that’s a time-consuming activity I can’t justify the time out from studying at the minute and I’m looking forward to cracking on with that soon.

I am learning… more about the law than I thought I would ever need to! I have proofread two (yes TWO) dissertations on European law recently and have been getting to grips with the legalities of wills, living wills, powers of attorney and all that goes on when someone dies and leaves things to people who have no mental capacity.

Around the house… there are boxes and boxes of STUFF that we have rescued from the bungalow and that Kevin wants to sort/keep/store/sell/give away from his parents. Scrap books, photo albums, ornaments etc. You know the kind of thing – other people’s memories which feel wrong to destroy.

I am pondering… about buying a dress for my daughter’s graduation at the end of July. Me in a frock?? Yes, that’s right!

A favourite quote for today… from David’s sermon this morning: “A gardener must prune back his roses to stop them growing in their own light. A pruned rose is the flower it is meant to be.”

One of my favourite things… is having both my children under my roof.

A few plans for the rest of the week: visiting my father in law tomorrow, study group at church on Thursday, band on Friday. Other than that it will be studying, studying, writing, more studying, a bit more writing and a large dollop of “who knows?!”

A peek into my day…

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This is our church front door, showing the brand-new welcome sign. The symbol in the centre of the “welcome” roundel is for St Paul – the dagger and the book signify his life – and the one on the right is the Church of England symbol. The etching has a double purpose; first of all it is to commemorate the life of one of our elder statesmen who died last year. Arthur Turley was one of the first babies to be baptised at St Paul’s in the 1930s, and he has served all his church life here. His family have paid for the welcome sign in his memory. The second purpose is because having an all-glass door is great for welcoming people in, but not so great to see if it is open or closed! It is my “photo of the day” because I designed it and it was installed last Monday.

The reflection in the glass you can see are the gardens between our church building and the church hall. It makes a lovely photo doesn’t it.

Z is for Zacchaeus


Made it! The end of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge for 2015 has dawned and I’m going to leave this challenge with a story about Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus was a Jewish tax collector who lived in Jericho. He was despised and mistrusted by his own people because his job meant that he was working for the Roman Empire not the local people, and tax collectors had a reputation – probably well deserved – for swindling people, short-changing them and charging unfair taxes. At the time, Jericho was the trade centre for balsam which was a very lucrative commodity and attracted high revenues in taxes; Zacchaeus’ wealth was built on his involvement with it.

Zacchaeus’ story appears in only one of the Gospels in the Bible, and it is told in only a few short sentences by Luke. The story is that when Jesus and his Disciples were travelling to Jerusalem they passed through Jericho on their way. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but being a bit short, he climbed a sycamore tree in order to see over the crowds who had gathered. Jesus stopped under the tree and called out to him, addressing him by name. He asked Zacchaeus to take him back to his house and the crowd were astonished that someone like Jesus would not only speak to someone like Zacchaeus, but would visit him in his house too. It was unthinkable!

zacchaeus
Zacchaeus in the tree being called by Jesus

 

In his home, Zacchaeus’ response was to immediately give away half of his wealth to the poor, and he made a promise to repay those whom he had short-changed in the past four-fold the amount.

This story is important to Christians because it shows us that with the salvation of Jesus, repentance and transformation can be achieved even by those where there is seemingly no hope.

Personally, the thing that stands out for me is that at the start of the encounter Jesus called out to Zacchaeus by name, and Zacchaeus responded to that call by inviting Jesus into his home. That was all it took – a personal call from Jesus and a personal invitation by Zacchaeus for his life to be turned around.

The name ‘Zacchaeus’ means ‘pure’, and some Christian teachers use his story to illustrate the saying of Jesus:

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew, 5:8)

On first reading, this saying is a bit daunting. Who can honestly say they are pure of heart? Certainly not me, but when we look at the story of Zacchaeus it offers us hope that even the unpure heart can be cleansed by the love of Jesus Christ.