Wednesday Hodgepodge – 27th April 2016


I haven’t posted for a little while because of things going on at home and in my studies, but I thought I would break my “fast” so to speak with a dip into the Wednesday Hodgepodge this week. Thank you Joyce for enticing me out of the shadows again!

 


1. This is the last Hodgepodge in April. Share something you learned this month. 

I have learned how to crochet teddy bears for babies; I may have a talent for scriptwriting after all; and, my spontaneous joke-telling skills can be useful in a crowded room in front of a breathless brass band.

2. It’s National Poetry Month, and we all know you can’t escape an April Hodgepodge without a little poetry. Keeping the first line as is, change the rest of the wording in this familiar rhyme to make it your own – ‘Hickory Dickory Dock…

 

Hickory Dickory Dock

My dryer has eaten a sock;

A black one today,

A pink yesterday,

The filter now needs an unblock

 

3. What were one or two rules in the home you grew up in? Growing up, did you feel your parents were strict? Looking back do you still see it that way? 

We didn’t have rules as such, but my brothers and I all knew when we’d stepped over the line. My Dad never had to raise his voice to us and we knew we’d disappointed him by the look on his face which was punishment enough. They weren’t very strict but then again they didn’t really need to be. We weren’t naughty kids or anything, just that we never seemed to have any clashes with them and didn’t really push the boundaries very much. I’m sure my brothers might have a different view!

4. Tell us about a kitchen or cooking disaster or mishap you’ve experienced. Do you have many from which to choose? 

The funniest one was when we tried to cook beetroot in a pressure cooker when we lived at my Gran’s house. If you don’t know what a pressure cooker is, it’s a special heavy pan that has a lockable lid so that when you boil it there is no steam escape route and the added pressure inside helps cook the food quicker. Very useful for beetroot because it takes hours to boil properly in a regular pan. This one time, for some reason, my Mum either had the pressure set too high, or she’d left it to boil for too long, but the result was that it exploded and embedded shreds of beetroot in the kitchen ceiling and all over the walls. You may realise that beetroot stains bright red, and the result was the kitchen looked like a serial killer had gone to work in there. We cleaned it all up, but my Dad had to redecorate the kitchen. The stains are that deeply embedded the ceiling has to be repainted every couple of years now because it keeps bleeding through. And it has been nearly 30 years – oops!

5. Plant a kiss, plant doubt, plant a tree, plant yourself somewhere…which on the list have you most recently planted?

Planting a kiss – my friend played in a concert with my band on Saturday night and I went to kiss him goodnight as we were leaving but he moved his head just as I leant over and I ended up head-butting him in the face instead. We laughed, and ended up with a very tentative peck instead!

6. What’s your most worn item of clothing this time of year? Are you tired of it? 

I don’t really have a seasonal wardrobe and I tend to wear the same clothes all year round. However, I have a favourite hoodie at the moment and I am wearing that one more than the others at the minute. And no, I’m not tired of it yet.

7. I’m wrapping up the A-Z Blog Challengethis month and our Hodgepodge lands on letter W. What’s one word beginning with W that describes you in some way? How about a word to describe your home, also beginning with W? 

Myself – “weary”. I’m nearing the end of my degree and got three big pieces of work to finish off in the next couple of weeks and I have been ill again recently. My husband’s wages have been reduced from this month and the financial struggle we have been having for the past six years has just been made a whole lot worse. I’m weary and tired of being tired and weary.

My house – “welcoming”. It’s where we as a family can simply be, and where anybody coming in can feel at home too. If you’re in my house, you’re one of us and you get treated like one of the family.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

In an effort to try and get myself a bit fitter I have started the “Couch to 5k” running challenge recently. And boy is it a challenge! At my age, with my health problems and at my weight, running is NOT easy. The app I have is one where you walk for a bit, run for a bit, walk for a bit etc. I have been stuck on day 1 for more than a week because I can’t do the 6 reps of running for a minute and a half each time….yet. I will get there eventually but it is going to be a lot less than the 7 weeks this app is telling me it will take. Watch this space!

 

Daybook Entry – 29th March 2016


012614_1641_DaybookEntr1.jpgFor Today… 29th March 2016

Outside my window… there is the remnants of Storm Katie battering the house and there is a definite chill in the air tonight. It’s wet, cold, windy and miserable

I am thinking… how much my own body hates me at times

I am thankful… my prescription arrived today

I am praying for… there seems to be so many people close to me who are affected by serious illness , whether their own or a close loved one and my prayers today re for them. It is very hard to stand by and watch people you love being affected by health problems and you feel especially helpless because there’s nothing you can do to take away the pain for them. My prayer is for calmness and strength to endure the pain of watching loved ones in pain.

I am wearing… my comfy socks. They are the ones I wear when I’ve had a shower and they are just the right amount of tightness to be secure without strangling my feet, soft enough to be comforting but not that soft they irritate my skin and they have just the right amount of stretch to stay in place without cutting off the blood supply in my ankles or slipping down under my heels. Win win!

I am creating…  prayer bears. Here’s a photo of one I made for my friend Hils over the weekend. I have adapted the pattern since then and am now on for my third one. They are lovely to crochet and are so cute when they are made up.

Prayer Bear for my friend Hils
Prayer Bear for my friend Hils

I am going… to get ahead with my studies this week. There is a week’s break on the calendar for both modules this week and I am up to date after a mammoth effort before Easter to catch up with all my work. However, there is a heavy reading list to get through in the next couple of weeks so if I can do something to get ahead this week I’ll be doing myself some favours.

I am wondering… what’s wrong with Terry the Terrapin. He seems very lethargic and not fond of his food at the minute, and there are a couple of white patches on his shell. They look like he might be getting ready to shed again, but I don’t like it when he basks all day instead of swimming about and digging in his rocks.

buffalo soldier book coverI am reading…  “Buffalo Soldier” by Tanya Landman. I’m ostensibly reading it for my assessment at the end of my Children’s Literature module, but it is so good I am enjoying it in its own right. It’s the story of “Charley O’Hara”, a freed slave girl who disguises herself as a man to join the US Army just after the American Civil War. She finds that freedom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I am hoping… my little sunflower (planted on Saturday) is weathering well in the horrible cold rain we are having. Come on little flower, you can do it!

I am learning… not yet, but when I’ve finished my degree I have two things on my hit list to learn, one is sign language and the other is shorthand. I don’t mind if I just manage to cover the basics in both of them but it’s something I want to do for fun.

In my garden… apart from my little sunflower seed (come on little seed, you can do it) there are lovely clumps of daffodils, some crocus, lots of greenery and a sad little football that has blown into the middle of the lawn from somewhere.

DSC_0177 (1)
Wet daffs in the garden

 

Stormy garden with random football sadly sitting in the middle of the grass
Stormy garden with random football sadly sitting in the middle of the grass

 

 

In my kitchen… I made a lamb biryani last night for tea, which I usually make with curry paste that you can get in a jar. Last night’s choice was Madras, but there wasn’t enough left in the jar from last time so I topped it up with the remains of a Rogan Josh jar from the time before. The trouble is that I’d already added some cumin seeds to the onions and lamb in the pan and the resulting sauce was, erm, a bit warm to say the least. It was so warm that we were in physical pain from the third or fourth forkful each. But it was absolutely delicious once the pain had subsided and the leftovers today have gone down a treat.

A favourite quote for today… 

“We know not what we shall be”; but we may be sure we shall be more, not less, than we were on earth. Our natural experiences (sensory, emotional, imaginative) are only like the drawing, like pencilled lines on flat paper. If they vanish in the risen life, they will vanish only as pencil lines vanish from the real landscape, not as a candle flame that is put out but as a candle flame which becomes invisible because someone has pulled up the blind, thrown open the shutters, and let in the blaze of the risen sun.

From The Weight of Sun by C S Lewis

A peek into one of my days…

These two photographs show two sides of my Easter weekend. The first shows my Gran sitting with my son at the Maundy Thursday supper we had at church last week. We had a lovely service beforehand and then ate together afterwards, sharing a lamb supper with around 90 people. The second photo shows the cross swathed in a black cloth on the steps at St Peter’s church where we had held a prayer morning on Saturday. This photo shows the pathway of light we lit as part of our prayers, and to me these two photos represent so much about what my life is all about. Family, faith, fellowship, prayer, hope and love.

One of my favourite things… is taking time to appreciate and give thanks for the beauty of creation.

From the board room…

These are definitely on the cards for me to make this summer!

Post Script:

I have been absent from my blog for a little while, but hopefully I’m back now. Things have been pretty manic recently, with assignments on top of extra reading for the OU and me being ill (again). I am through the worst of it now and am looking at life with a bit more renewed energy so fingers crossed blogging will be back up the list of my priorities again.

Here goes!

 

16 Reasons To Be Proud Of Being A Book Hoarder


I am a total bibliophile and if I had my choice, the walls in my house would be completely covered with bookshelves and I would never have had to part with a single book. Ever.

I found this article on Huffpost Arts and Culture that kind of sums it up. Who’s with me?

1.

SARAH KRINER/GETTY

Your tallest TBR pile nearly collapsed on your cat the other day. You’re out of both bookshelf space and space for more bookshelves. Your best friend has started meaningfully reading passages from Marie Kondo’s The Magical Art of Tidying Upto you. You nearly started crying when your boyfriend suggested donating your old textbooks.

Sound familiar? You — yes, you — might just be a book hoarder.

But so what? Despite the minimalist craze that seems to be sweeping the country, there can be a lot of benefits attached to hanging onto all your books. If you just can’t bear to clear your domicile of all but a shelf of treasured favorites (it’s like picking a shelf of favorite children!), and you’re worried that you’re missing out on all the psychological and interpersonal benefits of embracing minimalism, just take a few deep breaths of old book-scented air and remember these 16 reasons to be proud of your book-collecting tendencies.

2.

DIMITRI OTIS / GETTY IMAGES

3.

LOLOSTOCK / GETTY IMAGES

4.

DAVID MOSS / GETTY IMAGES

5.

KATE HISCOCK / GETTY IMAGES

6.

THOMAS-BETHGE / GETTY IMAGES

7.

CATHERINE MACBRIDE / GETTY IMAGES

8.

GARY S CHAPMAN / GETTY IMAGES

9.

QUEENSBURY / GETTY IMAGES

10.

ADRIáN MORILLO / GETTY IMAGES

11.

DIRIMA / GETTY IMAGES

12.

STAN GODLEWSKI/LIAISON

13.

BALLYSCANLON / GETTY IMAGES

14.

SUSIE CUSHNER / GETTY IMAGES

15.

CHIARA SALVADORI / GETTY IMAGES

16.

ALEXANDER SPATARI / GETTY IMAGES

 

What else could we add to this list? I am going to try and get together some more and share the new list with you. But first, I’m just going to sit and have a little read for a minute…

 

 

There Is A Time For Everything


atime for everything

 

1  There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2         a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3     a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6     a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7     a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8     a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 8

International Women’s Day


iwd2Today is International Women’s Day, and it has been around for more than 100 years. However, this year is the first year that I have been aware of it, much to my bewilderment.

I did a bit of reading about it and it seems that apart from trumpeting all things female from the highest rooftops, there is not really much to be said about what International Women’s Day is all about. As a newbie – to the festival, not to womanhood – I thought that it was going to be an excuse for the feminazi brigade all over the world to start banging their drum about how bad all men are and how downtrodden all women are, but I have been surprised by what is being said about it.

There are literally hundreds and thousands of articles about what’s happening in the name of IWD and I won’t insult your intelligence (or try to influence you) by directing you to any on here because I’m sure you can do that for yourself, but allow me a moment to share a few thoughts of my own about it.

  1. Is it really “international”? Or is it an excuse for Western women to pretend to get alongside our oppressed sisterhood in parts of the world where it is practically against the law to be a woman?
  2. Is it a celebration of womanhood and femininity, women’s achievements and contribution to society, or is it an opportunity to bash men the world over for the fact that they are not women?
  3. Does anything actually happen as a result of IWD? Do we see any increase in equality after each annual IWD, or is it a day of paying lip-service to the feminine “cause” where women get a pat on the head for the duration of the day and the world goes back to normal the day after?
  4. If this day has been around for more than 100 years, shouldn’t we be further on than we are by now? Shouldn’t there be more women in leadership roles in our politics, our fields of scientific research and development, of banking and finance and so on? Shouldn’t more women across the world (remember, this is International Women’s Day) see some improvement in their lives and not be treated as slaves or baby making machines to be hidden behind closed doors? Shouldn’t there be more choices for women across the world to be something different from their own mothers? To be free from mutilation, ‘honour’ punishments and the rest of the things that are supposed to keep them ‘pure’ for their menfolk?
  5. In relation to number 4, do women in the West really have the same experiences as the women in the Middle East or the developing countries in Africa and Asia, or do we pretend to share in their experiences because actually, our lives are pretty much sorted out here and even though there is still work to be done, we have more equality and freedom than those women we stand alongside for the day?
  6. How are we supposed to feel when after a lot of work in the sports industry, women are finally equalling men in terms of prize money and competition opportunities and one of the highest paid tennis stars of all time announces to the world that she has been taking a performance enhancing drug for the past 11 years? Are we allowed to feel betrayed by Sharapova’s actions, or do we have to stand shoulder to shoulder with her simply because she’s a woman trying to make it in a man’s world? I know where my gut feeling takes me but by criticising her for that, am I being disrespectful to my sister?

I realise that there is probably a lot more to this day than I have addressed here but I can’t help wonder if today we can really look at the world with the same eyes that the women of 1908 did, where women were fighting for the right to own their own property in the UK, and the vote for women was still a long way off. What would those women then think of our women today? Would they be pleased with progress made so far, or would they be appalled that we still haven’t made it yet?

Of course there is more to being a woman than being ‘equal’ to a man, just the same as there is more to being a man than being ‘superior’ to a woman, but it strikes me that there is more to womanhood than that fight too. For some women the fight to be recognised as an individual with thoughts of her own is one that will take her a lifetime to achieve or fail. For others, the fight to have autonomy over their own bodies is a fight that will take all of their lives to fight. For others still, the fight to have an education is one that they are prepared to die for, and many do.

My last questions on the subject of International Women’s Day is this: if half of the world’s population is female, and there are 365 days in a year, why do we only have a single day to celebrate and promote and enjoy and talk about and investigate and think about all things woman? Wouldn’t it be lovely if we didn’t need to have an International Women’s Day at all?

Finally, according to the BBC, Sharapova’s admission yesterday is going to cost her £30m each year from now on. My guess is that it is going to cost an awful lot more than that.

 

 

Chain of Events


I have been tinkering with some material for my upcoming TMA for my OU module, and I have come up with this poem. It is a villanelle, which is a stylised form of poetry that conforms to certain rules. It’s a bit complicated when you first look at them, but having worked on this for a couple of hours I can say with some confidence that I ‘get’ it. Here is the dictionary definition:

A villanelle  is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets followed by a quatrain. There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines.

The prompt we were given was “There is a current moving to the shore” and I had a few ideas about what kind of current, what kind of shore etc as I began, but as I wrote, my hand seemed to lead me in a direction of its own and this is what happened. I have edited and polished it a little, but it probably does need more work yet. I don’t think I’ll be using this for any submissions in the future so it’s OK for me to publish it here. I’d appreciate some feedback if any of you have a minute to let me know what you think.

 

Chain of Events

There is a current moving to the shore
Bringing a slew of rot and decay.
Captain Molasses has done this before.

Sugar, tobacco, exotic animals and more,
Thousands of miles by night and day.
There is a current moving to the shore.

Packed to the gunwales, right up to the door,
First stop Jamaica, Trinidad…to stay.
Captain Molasses has done this before.

Decks with their cargo hold packed ceiling to floor.
No spaces to move. Or breathe, eat or pray.
There is a current moving to shore.

Cash for people – three hundred thousand, four!
Work them to death, their protests won’t sway.
Captain Molasses has done this before.

To see all those people, my brothers, so sore,
Just leave them alone to live, work and play.
There is a current moving to shore,
Captain Molasses has done this before.

You can probably pick out the pattern in this but to be a true villanelle I need to play around with it a bit more, so that the ‘refrain’ lines can be read differently depending on the sense of the stanza, or I could play around with run-on lines etc to make it more prose like. I am not a poet by any stretch of the imagination and I am fully aware that my language is not clever or colourful enough to make it into ‘proper’ poetry, but nevertheless I enjoyed writing this and it fired up a couple of things which I can work on another time. I got me thinking too, which is never a bad thing is it?