January Daybook


simple-woman-daybook-largeFor Today… 11th January 2017

Looking out my window… I can see clear blue skies, but I can hear the wind howling and there is a storm on its way.

I am thinking… I might cook cheesy bacon pasta for tea tonight.

I am thankful… that mental health in young people is taken seriously.

One of my favourite things… is driving with my son to band practice and having a natter about all sorts of things, both big and small.

I am creating… this little beauty. I began it during the evening on Boxing Day (for my non-UK readers, Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day) and it is going to be used when we go away in our caravan this summer.

Rectangle blanket based on the traditional "granny" stitch, using rainbow colours. Three repeats of the individual colours followed by three rows of each colour afterwards. Just starting the blue three now and hopefully will finish it this weekend.
Rectangle blanket based on the traditional “granny” stitch, using rainbow colours. Three repeats of the individual colours followed by three rows of each colour afterwards. Just starting the blue three now and hopefully will finish it this weekend.

I am wearing… layers, layers and layers today. The heating is on but I’m bone-cold.

I am reading… “The Coroner (Coroner: Jenny Cooper Series)” by M R Hall

I am watching… The BDO World Championships on TV this week. I love watching the darts, and the BDO suits me because it is not as high-powered or glitzy as the PDC competitions. Darts are good to crochet to as I can listen and only half watch the TV as I’m concentrating on the yarn in my hands.

I have been listening to… Pemberton Old Band rehearsing for a competition this weekend in Skegness. My son plays bass trombone for them and I sometimes give him a lift to rehearsals. I have enjoyed the experience of being a groupie rather than a player since he started playing with them, and it makes a refreshing change for me to hear a piece of music being crafted into a performance piece to contest level by a band of this calibre. They are in the First Section (one level down from the Championship Section but working on their way back up) and they are a level above where I played with Middleton Band before I stopped playing.

I am hoping… my brother recovers quickly from his surgery yesterday.

I am learning… to trust my instinct.

In my kitchen… I have been making the effort to cook proper meals from scratch. We have a limited food budget and sometimes it can be a challenge to eat healthily all the time, and I have been enjoying the challenge of finding recipes and dishes that we can eat to fill us up, fill us up healthily, fill us up healthily and inexpensively.

Board room… we are looking at the story of Jonah and the Whale for our next Messy Church and I really want to do this activity with the children:

Post Script: I found this site (Strategies for dealing with change) when I was looking for something to help someone I love who is going through some really difficult, anxious times. I found this picture, and thought it would be great to share with you too. Please visit the host site for more like this.

 

Shared Quote…
strong-roots

Closing Notes… I began this post this morning, about 12 hours ago (which is why I said the sky is clear blue and not the midnight black it is now) and today has been another one that has been packed with drama, fun, music, family, planning, crafting and laughter. I thank God that my life is so varied and that it is filled with so many people who stimulate me in so many different ways. I have to say that being a mum is challenging at the minute, and I trust God to see us through the particular storm we are weathering just now. I am grateful to my friends who visited today too – a bit of a giggle and a chat with people you love goes a long way to making things feel better! And music. Ah music. Where would I be without you? Laughing with Ethan and Megan in the car going to band rehearsal tonight and having fun finding music that we all like. Fortunately all three of us have similar musical taste and we enjoyed a great 45 minutes each way listening to all sorts of stuff, from First Class’ “Beach Baby”, to the cast recording of songs from “Sweet Charity”, by way of Glen Campbell and his “Rhinestone Cowboy” (with alternative words, courtesy of yours truly) and a bit of “Hairspray” to finish with. You definitely can’t stop the beat if you’re travelling with the Pamster at the minute!

 

 

Love and Loss


angelOver two days this week I have been involved in four funerals. When I say “involved” I mean that I have provided the music for one, delivered the eulogy and address at one, supported a friend who was delivering his first eulogy at another, and at one to mourn the passing and celebrate the life of a friend. It might seem that to go to four funerals in two days is a bit much, but to be honest, I found those two days a journey of personal and spiritual growth, and I have learned more about myself and the relationships I have with people around me after reflecting on the lives of the four people I said farewell to.

For the first funeral (Wednesday), my role was to play the music during the funeral of Daniel*. He was an elderly gentleman whose family had chosen to have a church service and burial, and his funeral was attended by lots of family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. He was a big Blue (a big Manchester City fan in case you didn’t know) and he was brought into church to the beautiful singing of Mel Torme and “Blue Moon”. In the congregation was Fred Eyre who used to play for City and who now provides match commentary on Radio Manchester. The tributes were read by Daniel’s friend, and by an 11 year old little girl, who lived next door to him. It was very moving to hear an 11 year old child speak about the gentle giant that Daniel was, and she brought me to tears with her emotional speech.

On Thursday morning I attended three services at the crematorium, one in each of the three chapels there. I had the privilege of giving my very first funeral address. It was for William*, who had died in October and whose family were unable to organise the funeral for him. I did manage to speak to a couple of people who knew William and I learned a little of his life and the manner of his death, and I drew on that information and the gospel message to be able to write an address for him. I didn’t expect many family members to be present, but as it turned out there were about 50 people there to hear the funeral service and to mourn William’s passing.

Straight after William’s funeral was the service for George*. My role was two-fold, first to be a support for my friend Nick, who was also delivering his first funeral address, and also to be a mourner for George who had only two distant family members there for him.

After George’s service was the funeral of one of my own friends, Bryce. He was a cornet player and involved in many brass bands over the years so the chapel was full to the brim, with standing room only at the back and down the sides. I estimated over 200 people were there for him today, and the tributes were rich and emotional, moving and joyful. The band played “Nimrod” as a piece of reflection music, which again was very moving, and there were lots of tears shed at the very end when Bryce’s own cornet playing was relayed to the gathering in a recording he made about 18 months ago of “Ave Maria”.

So, four very different funerals. Four very different people, and four different views of death and saying goodbye to them. When I look at them as a group of four, I see the differences that life throws up to us. One man drew a couple of hundred mourners, another drew just two; one man’s family had split down the middle and didn’t really know about each other – not because of any argument but by a simple drifting apart and not speaking to each other; one man had no family to even fall out with and was truly alone in the world.

The differences go on and on, but it’s the similarities that strike me.

All four men at some point in their lives had met with hardship and struggle. With health, with learning difficulties, with failed marriages, with family splits. They had all loved and lost in one form or another, and yet they still managed to survive into later years, to about 70-80 years old each.

Another similarity is that they were all loved. Love is love, and to me it doesn’t matter whether there are just a couple of family members and “staff” from the local church to mourn you, or whether there are 200 people and a big brass band gathered to send you off, the fact is that these men were all loved and were mourned.

But it’s not just love that we understand in human terms that these men experienced, they are loved by God our father who loves us all, no matter how lost or broken we may feel, or how messy and chaotic our lives may be, or how we view ourselves as failures and so on. The love that sustained these four men sustains us all too, and we all have the promise of resurrection in glory at the end of days.

Death is a great leveller, and I realised on Thursday that no matter what our life’s achievements are or what may try to accumulate in material wealth, we all end our days on earth here the same way.

 

*Names have been changed to preserve the privacy of the individuals concerned.

Daybook Entry – New Year’s Eve 2016


021114_2314_DaybookEntr1.jpgFor Today… the last day of 2016

Outside my window… I can hear some isolated bursts of fireworks going off locally. The weather is mild to cold but not frosty yet.

I am thinking… about some changes I need to make in myself, my outlook, my worldview and my expectations.

I am thankful… for so, so much! Where to start? Well, first and foremost I am thankful for the ever present grace and love of God in my life. My faith in him (and his in me) has got me through so much this year and I am thankful to have reached this point still in one piece.

I am praying for… Charlotte and Kieran who are dealing with the most heartbreaking loss anyone can imagine; my brother who is going to be having an operation in a couple of weeks and is facing a long recovery time afterwards; Roy, Margaret, Iain and Megan who will be taking a big step next week; Emma who is starting a new job on Tuesday; Ethan who has got a high-pressure time ahead this term.

I am wearing… a happy smile this evening as I look back at what has happened this year.

I am creating… a new way of thinking. I have come to realise that my thought patterns and behaviour patterns need an overhaul if I am to ever make progress with my life. For example, I am desperate to write a full length novel but fear of failure is holding me back. I know I have the skills (talent is as yet still untested), but I keep talking myself out of doing anything about it because I think my story is not good enough, or that people won’t want to read it and so on. I am trying to create a new way of thinking about myself where I concentrate on the positives of what I’m doing rather than worrying about the (unknown) negatives.

I am going… to put my new thinking into action over the coming weeks and let’s see where we are by half term.

I am wondering… whether I ought to do something about my physical health as well as my mental health this year…

I am reading… “Speaking in Bones” by Kathy Reichs. I was fortunate enough to receive an Amazon gift card for Christmas which I have already bitten into and bought this latest one in the Temperance Brennan series. I have had my eye on it for a little while and I was really chuffed to be able to buy it on Boxing Day. I’m nearly at the end of it and to be honest, I can’t wait for bedtime tonight so I can go and finish it!

I am hoping… that our financial difficulties will be eased this year, if not resolved somehow. I have faith that we will be ok.

I am learning… to ease up on myself, to lower my expectations, and to celebrate the small things.

In my garden… we have a gazebo erected over our deck area at the back of the house. We put it up there for Christmas Day so we had somewhere dry to put the settee out while we had the long tables set up for dinner. We haven’t got round to putting it down yet but I rather like it and might persuade Kevin to keep it for a while.

In my kitchen… we have some snacks and treats waiting to eat while we watch the final Harry Potter film later on tonight.

A favourite quote for today…

new_year_meme

A peek into one of my days… I’m going to cheat here and show you a few photos from December as there’s too many to choose from!

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A bonus little video for you: filmed outside our house on Christmas morning as we played for our neighbours before church. Hope you enjoy it!

One of my favourite things… is planning and researching things for writing about. One of my least favourite things is spotting when “research” becomes “procrastinating” and getting a move on and to get writing.

Post Script: This year has been a year of spectacular highs and devastating lows, and this is my chance to acknowledge those difficulties and joys and to say a public thank you to everyone who has got me through it all.

Those of you who have followed my blog over the months and years will know that from time to time my mental health takes a hit, and that my family’s financial situation is not particularly secure or hopeful. This year has been the worst we have endured and we have come close a few times to crossing the line. However, we have been blessed on so many occasions by the kindness and support of family and friends who have seen us through. With gifts of food and other necessities, and on more than one occasion the gift of money, our family and friends have literally saved the day. Ethan would not have been able to go on the trip of a lifetime with the music centre had it not been for an anonymous gift of a substantial amount of money which was put through our front door the day before the deadline for payment. More recently, we were facing a very lean Christmas with no spare cash to be able to buy any presents for anyone but again, from anonymous gifts, we not only were able to get some gifts for our children but we have enough now for both Kevin and I to be able to replace our glasses in a couple of weeks. We are both desperate for an eye test and new glasses but until this money came in, we were getting very anxious about how we were going to pay for them. As I said, we have been extremely blessed and we are so grateful for everyone who has helped us in 2016. The grace of God has been in abundance in our family this year!

Some high spots have punctuated the seemingly endless struggle to “get by”, such as our family camping holiday in Wales this summer (again, paid for as a gift to us – and boy are we glad for that gift!). We were joined by my brother and his family for a few days, which was a great experience, and I got to enjoy some spiritual time in a very special part of the world. I finally finished my studies and I got my degree this summer which is an achievement I never in a million years thought I would ever do. Kevin and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this year too, which, as with my degree, is an achievement and milestone I never thought I would ever see. But we did and I am proud to have made it with my best friend and partner in life.

Thanksgiving


In the spirit of Thanksgiving in the US today, I thought I would share with you a list of things I am thankful for in my life just now:

  1. homeThe roof over my head. Yes, we owe more on the mortgage now than when we took it out 18 years ago, and yes there are some fairly hefty repairs that need doing on it, but these four walls and the roof on top are my safe haven. Homelessness and the possibility of losing the family home have been brought home to me recently, which makes me all the more thankful that I have this place to call my home.
  2. The food in our freezer. It was only a few short weeks ago that we were in a position to pool a couple of weeks worth of groceries and do a big batch cookout so that we would be seen through the “silly season” ahead, yet already we have had to turn to those supplies because of an unexpected bill (and therefore massive bank charges for failed payments) and we have very little cash to see us through the next 6 weeks or so. We also have an unexpected lodger too, so the food in the freezer was well timed, and continues to be a life-saver for us. I am thankful that I was prompted to fill the freezer just before the money ran out.
  3. Spiritual support from church friends. Linked to point #2 above, this one is another big one in my life. My faith in God is as strong as ever, but sometimes, the spiritual support of other people is what keeps my grip strong. I am thankful that my faith in God has brought me to such a place that I can be part of a group of supportive and understanding friends.
  4. dsc_0949.jpgMy family. Especially my husband. We are like a tag team at the moment, and we seesaw between being strong and weak. When one is weak the other lifts them up, and vice versa. Sometimes we are on an even keel in the middle, but as anyone dealing with a financial (or other) crisis knows, emotions and ability to cope can swing quite violently from one extreme to the other and it takes a particular type of relationship to hold it together. My kids have been fantastic too, both in emotional support and simply bringing laughter and sunshine into an otherwise bleak and austere existence. My parents too – where would I be without them?!! From my mum “accidentally” making an extra Shepherd’s Pie, to my Dad transferring an emergency lump sum into my bank account over the summer to bail us out (yet again), my parents have been instrumental in me holding things together in the last few months. I am thankful for the loving and supportive family I am surrounded by.
  5. crochet-hookCrochet. A life-saver a couple of years ago when my illness first took hold and everything seemed pointless and without direction, crochet has been an activity that I turn to again and again to help with anxiety and depression. I have started some Christmas projects and I am thankful that I have been able to find a cute snowman which I am working on for our house this Christmas.
  6. Music. Like crochet, music has been a life-saver in so many ways over the years for me. Whether it is listening to it, playing it, writing it, arranging it, planning it, organising it or whatever, I am thankful for the presence of music in my life.
  7. My Kindle. I was bought a Kindle as a gift for Mothering Sunday a couple of years ago and at first, I was a bit sceptical about using it. A lifelong lover of books and reading (notice the differentiation I made there), I didn’t really want to engage in technology like a Kindle but having been given one as a gift I thought I didn’t have much to lose. I haven’t actually looked back since being given it and I have engaged in so many more books and articles than I would have done in hard-print books in the meantime, largely because of all the free books available online. I am thankful that I have got access to such a large, free, library of books to read and the mechanism to carry them all round with me all the time.
  8. bedMy big comfy bed. Might sound a bit trite, but I honestly say a prayer of thanks every time I get into my bed each night. Linked to the point about the roof over my head above, I am so grateful that first of all that I have a place to put my head each night, and second of all that it is so comfy and warm once I get in. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to rest properly each night.

This is not in any way an exhaustive list, and it isn’t in any particular order, but these things are on my mind most of the time and they are the things see me through when times are bad as they are now. I am sure that when the climate changes for me I would come up with a slightly different (and longer) list.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

happy-thanksgiving


daybook buttonFor Today… 3rd July

Outside my window… first day today for about three weeks with no rain!

I am thinking… how spirited the Iceland football team are. They certainly have heart

I am thankful… that I have such caring friends and family. We have had a tough time as a family recently with financial difficulties and I am extremely grateful for two people (my Dad and an unknown benefactor) who have given us money this week to be able to get through it.

I am praying for… our mystery benefactor; my Dad who has fallen off his bike this weekend and who is a bit battered and bruised today

I am wearing… dark blue shorts and a white t-shirt

I am creating… a screenplay to submit for consideration to the BBC

I am going… to chase up my son’s passport application tomorrow. He needs it back before 20th July and the ETA is 6 weeks… got to apply the pressure tomorrow or else he won’t be going to Italy with the music centre

I am wondering… how amenable the passport office is going to be in the morning

I am reading… I am in between books just now having just finished R D Wingfield’s “Night Frost”. Need to find a new book before I go to bed.

I am hoping… that my Dad hasn’t broken his wrist after his fall yesterday. He is going to the fracture clinic tomorrow to see the extent of his injury. He has got it in a cast for now but hopefully tomorrow will reveal no fracture

I am learning… that it is painful to admit when friendships and relationships come to an end

In my garden… a photo from last week:

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In my kitchen… I made a vanilla and chocolate traybake cake on Friday to take to band practice for my birthday. It was one of my more ‘average’ attempts

A favourite quote for today…

A peek into one of my days… dsc_0162.jpg

This is my Dad just before his ride yesterday. He is training for a sponsored bike ride from Manchester to Blackpool next Sunday, and he is raising money for The Christie Hospital which is a cancer specialist hospital in Manchester. He has raised money for them before and he was/is looking forward to riding again next week to raise some more. If his injuries from yesterday are such that he can’t ride next weekend then he will honour his sponsors and will ride in a couple of months when he has healed. If you would like to sponsor him, his JustGiving page is at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Derek-Swain

One of my favourite things… is having both of my children here for a meal together

Post Script: Money, or lack of it, causes a lot of stress. Lack of money but owing it to others causes even more stress. Owing it to others and not having enough to cover basic costs before you even begin to think about paying debts is one of the biggest stresses I can think of, and it has the potential to cause so much harm. I alluded to it above, but these last couple of weeks have been the most stressful I can remember for a long time because of debts and money issues and I cannot say enough times how grateful I am to the two people who have helped this week. It has meant that we can take the pressure off for a little while and we can take time off from thinking about how to get out of our mess.

It’s a funny thing really. As you may know, I am a Christian and my faith in God teaches me that all will be well, God has got this, and if we trust him he will catch us as we fall. And I do believe that, I honestly do, but it takes a certain depth of faith to believe that when it feels like things are in freefall. Knowing God’s hand is there to catch us as we fall means the world to me and I am certain that as a family we would have broken up before now and personally I would have had a nervous breakdown or something if it hadn’t have been for my faith in God. Yes, debt is stressful, and yes, not having enough money to cover debts and basic living costs is stressful, but having God’s grace extended to us and shown to us through the actions of friends has literally kept mind and soul together through this.

We are a long way of solving our financial crisis yet, but by the grace of God we will get there as a family and we are all the stronger for it.

 

 

 

Daybook Entry 13th June


8598a-simple-woman-daybook-largeFor Today… Monday, 13th June

Outside my window… The sky is clearing slightly after a full day of drizzle, rain, rizzle, and showers

I am thinking… About how acts of hatred and violence seem to be everywhere we look at the minute. If it’s not guns and shootings in the USA, it’s football riots in France. If it’s not an argument about politics in Europe, it’s a hate-fuelled torrent of political abuse from people vying to be the next President of the United States. It’s everywhere and I’m sure that the world cannot be so filled with hate as it seems to be.

I am thankful… for the privilege of working with so many children at church in so many different ways. For example, I have been involved in three very moving baptisms in the last couple of weeks, each with their own different pastoral cares and this morning at Stay and Play was a joy for me.

I am praying for… E&S and their wedding later this week; my son who is facing some health challenges; my daughter who is spending the next 2 months in a forest teaching young people how to do all sorts of outdoor activities.

I am wearing… my comfy Everlast ankle socks. You know when you have a pair of socks that are the right amount of tight round the top, with a nice band that goes round the arch of your foot and snuggles it just so, and are thick enough to be warm but not too thick to be sweaty, and are pristine white? Well, a pair of those.

I am creating… a portrait of my son, and a painting of a sunflower. I’m into oil painting at the minute – a complete break away from words for a change.

I am going… to try to paint a landscape in the next few days.

I am wondering… when the summer is going to return again.

I am reading… “Time of Death” by Mark Billingham.

I am hoping… I can solve the problem of how to paint eyes in portraits or else I won’t be able to show you my son’s painting!

I am learning… that oil painting is not as easy as I thought.

In my garden… my bike is waiting patiently for me to oil its chain and to dust off the pedals again.

In my kitchen… we had lamb biryani for tea. All home made and twas rather delish.

A favourite quote for today… “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you sow” Robert Louis Stevenson.

A peek into one of my days… my Prince Charming this morning, pulling funny faces at the camera

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One of my favourite things… is watching the rain watering my lovely green garden.

From the board room… I am sooooo making this for Emma!

 

Post Script:

We are deep into the GCSE exam season again, with only a few more weeks left before another set of 16 year olds are left bereft and betwixt the worlds of school and sixth form or college. Having worked in secondary schools for the past 14 years, first in pastoral role and now as an exam invigilator I have witnessed this stage of children’s education many times over. I don’t know whether I despair OF these children, or despair FOR them as they reach this stage. Most of them are well-adjusted individuals who realise the enormity of exams, and the consequences of having good, bad or indifferent results but there are some who are entirely clueless and it’s those young people who I feel deepest for.

Take the boy on Friday, who whilst waiting for the exam officer to arrive with the papers, said to me “Will I get in trouble if I put my head on the desk and go asleep?”. I said to him that he wouldn’t be in trouble from me, but did he really want to scupper his chances of passing the exam by not even attempting it? His response is typical of a worrying trend that I’ve seen before, and he said “Well, even if I score 90 on this I’ll only get a C so I’m not going to bother”. And he didn’t. The exam started, he answered the first part of the first question and then promptly closed his paper and put his head on the desk for the duration of the exam.

Why would you do that? Why does he think his only worth is in terms of what grade his exam shows? Why does he not care that even a grade D is worth something? And if he wasn’t satisfied with what he had attained already, why did he not work harder for the last couple of months to try and pull himself up? It’s not as if young people today don’t know where they are in terms of attainment and grading etc because they are tested and told often enough.

But here’s the thing that worries me and makes me despair FOR them: so, even if that lad had pulled his guts out and attained a C for that subject, what difference will it make to his earning capacity in the years to come? Even ‘good’ grades don’t necessarily convert into ‘good’ jobs. No job is secure any more, and all that lad could hope to get would be a zero hours contract in a warehouse of retail outlet somewhere for the next couple of years. I don’t blame him for wanting a nap on a Friday afternoon instead of sitting an exam when the sad truth is that it probably won’t affect his life chances and options later on very much at all.

The even worse thing is that he’s not alone is he? There are thousands of children churned out of the school system each year with little to look forward to and little prospect of getting ahead or lifting themselves up from the position they are in unless they are extremely lucky or extremely brave. A subject for another blog post maybe, but it seems that schools are little more than exam factories whose job it is to churn out compliant drones who fall into the category of “A* – C” or not, as the case may be. Art, creativity, spontaneity, individuality and so on are all squashed and discouraged, sacrificed for grade boundaries and “performance indicators” for both staff and students, upon which funding is based for subsequent years.

In some ways I wanted to shake that boy for scuppering any chance he had to further himself on Friday, but in other ways I applaud his individual stance and his refusal to play the game of being turned into another drone. Only time will tell whether that was the right course of action for him to take.

 

Wednesday Hodgepodge – 8th June


Welcome to the Hodgepodge! Thanks to Joyce for the questions again this week. If you want to play along, please click the graphic and follow the instructions. Here we go:

1. I read here a list of 13 things you should do in June. I’m paraphrasing a little but basically…

Go on a road trip with your best friend, pick fresh strawberries, host a garden party, take a morning run, treat yourself to a flower bouquet, spend a whole day hiking, discover a new coffee shop, try a new ice cream flavour, read at least one book, visit a Farmer’s Market, make a swing for your home, and visit a new city. 

Which thing on the list do you most want to do? Of the activities mentioned, which one holds the least appeal? How many on the list will you attempt in June? What’s one thing you’d add to the list? 

Having looked at the list there are a couple of things I do anyway (reading books, eating in the garden) but if I were to try something new I would go for a different ice cream flavour

Something new on the list? I would say have a haircut. Spring/early summer is the perfect time for a good cut that will make you feel brighter and lighter to match the weather and the season.

2. What’s something you could do today to feel more peaceful?

I have had a fairly peaceful day today, which was lovely. I cut my Mum’s hair this morning, sorted a huge pile of laundry out, hung some on the line to dry, did a baptism preparation session in church for a family and have been generally pottering about cleaning and tidying up today. It has been a very nice day.

If I’m feeling anxious or stressed I like to try to do something creative such as crochet, writing or painting to help me, but generally speaking, prayer is my go-to activity to find peace.

3. June 7th is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. Are you a fan? Swiss mocha, rocky road, chocolate chocolate chip, peanut butter and chocolate, or a dish of plain chocolate…what’s your pleasure?

I’m not a huge fan of ice cream, but perhaps that’s because I only really have vanilla. Chocolate ice cream always gives me a migraine so I’ve developed an aversion to it in any form. My favourite ‘different’ flavour was one I tried once that I have not been able to find anywhere else which was absolutely gorgeous – ginger and honeycomb – oh wow, what a flavour sensation that was!

4. you came with a warning what would it say?

At the moment it would be “Warning: Walking Heat Source Ahead”.

5. What’s the most interesting website you’ve visited in the last week?

I did a bit of research on WebMD, which was fascinating. My son has been diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency, probably due to mal-absorption rather than poor diet or lack of sunlight and I was doing some reading into it. A very enlightening article that was to the point and didn’t go over the top with the “you’re going to die” messages that online health websites tend to do.

6. Spring, summer, autumn, winter…which season are you? Why?

Spring. I feel that I’m only just getting going with my life and I have the rest of my life to look forward to.

7. “You lose sight of things…and when you travel, everything balances out.” ~Daranna Gidel

Would you agree with that sentiment? Explain why or why not.

Not sure I agree with this, but I agree with the reason for making it. It is easy to become prejudiced to your own point of view if you don’t take a break away from it and look at things from someone else’s perspective. It can be dangerous to think that the rest of the world sees things the way you do, because they don’t, and you have to challenge yourself all the time not to become so entrenched that you think your view is the only view. However, I don’t think travel is the only answer or the only way to challenge your perspective. Reading books, watching films, meeting people, asking questions about your beliefs etc can all helpfully challenge the way you think.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

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This is the view out of my back door into the garden this afternoon. It was lovely and sunny, hot etc and my washing dried in next to no time, which was a good because shortly after this photograph was taken the heavens opened and it was like Armageddon out there! Thunder, torrential rain, black skies… it was almost like the end of the world, honestly. The whole area suffered – flash floods have closed roads and submerged vehicles, drains have collapsed with the force and sheer amount of water that appeared in about 30 minutes this afternoon.

Welcome to the English early summer!

 

Daybook Entry 22nd May 2016


8598a-simple-woman-daybook-largeFor Today… 22nd May 2016

Outside my window… it’s a bit cloudy, a bit dusky, a bit wet and a bit too early to go to bed

I am thinking… how much I wish it wasn’t too early to go to bed!

I am thankful… that this difficult period is nearly over at last

I am praying for… Ethan, Chloe & Lily and all who have exams this week; baby Storm who was baptised today and was a delightful visual aid in my sermon this morning; Harold’s family and friends who are grieving; Arthur

I am wearing… my reading glasses, my hair in a loose bobble and nothing on my feet

I am creating… I’ve not been very creative for some time now because of finishing off my degree, and once my final piece has been submitted later this week I will be making up for it! I have got a list of things I want to draw/ paint/ crochet/ photograph/ write about/ compose etc

I am going… to write a 3000 word essay from scratch tomorrow

I am wondering… if I’ll get said essay finished tomorrow…

I am reading… lots of text books and critical essays for my degree and I have a John Grisham lined up for when I can indulge in a bit of guilt-free reading for pleasure in a few days time

I am hoping… I sleep alright tonight. Last night was disturbed to say the least

I am learning… to relax and speak in public. That might sound daft, but up til recently if you presented me with a microphone I would have run a mile, but like today, I not only ad-libbed a bit in my sermon this morning but I was able to talk to a crowd of people listening to the band playing in the park with no problems at all. Not nervous, not struggling for things to say, not embarrassed by my accent (pure Manc!)

In my garden… the sunflower seed I planted a few weeks ago has not put in an appearance yet. I think I have misunderestimated the cold weather we have had recently

In my kitchen… there are lots of cooking projects waiting to be fulfilled when I have the time

A favourite quote for today… on Friday night, listening to Brighouse and Rastrick band playing a pianissimo section of Ravenswood, standing next to a 10 year old in my band:

10yr old: They’re not very good are they?
Me? What do you mean?
10yr old: Well, you can hardly hear them. Look at all these people who’ve come to listen to them and they can’t even hear them. They’re not very good!

I didn’t have the heart to explain to her that playing that quietly was a highly skilled thing to do…

A peek into a few of my days…

A couple of recent photos for you.

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One of my favourite things… is drinking weak Vimto

Post Script:

You may have noticed that I have been very quiet on my blog for some time now. It’s because I have been busy with my church work and had a heavy workload on for my degree so I have struggled to justify the time to devote to blogging with all that going on. More recently still I have been doing some work with Lees Band preparing them for Whit Friday last week. That was a brilliant experience but I am seriously exhausted now! I have missed blogging and once this week is over I will be able to get back to some level of “normal”.

Just to show you what sort of thing I’ve done just in this last week or so: Friday – conducted Todmorden band; Saturday – Messy Church; Sunday – led prayers in church; Monday – did Stay and Play at church, worked on my 30 minute screenplay; Tuesday – finished screenplay, submitted it, rehearsed Lees Band; Wednesday – funeral of a congregation member at church and rehearsed Todmorden Band; Thursday – produced a load of promotional literature for the golf club, rehearsed Lees Band; Friday – funeral of another congregation member at church, Whit Friday; Saturday – all-day conference with the Archdeaconry; Sunday – preached at church, conducted Todmorden Band in a concert. It’s been a whirlwind but it has been extremely satisfying too.

 

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!