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!

 

 

Prayers for a New Year


I led the prayers in our Sunday worship this morning, and for a change I used a couple of props. I chose to pray around four items that are traditionally used on New Year’s Eve in Scottish households – coal, “black bun” (or fruit cake), salt and whisky.

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Here’s what we prayed:

Coal – small, dirty, seemingly useless. Coal has taken millions of years to form.

Heavenly Father we pray that this piece of coal represents to us your staying power and long term commitment to us; that even in situations where it seems things are longtime dead, with your redeeming love and grace, there is the power to transform.

Remind us that even though things may appear hopeless, lost or worthless, with the application of time and even a little pressure, good things will come.

This piece of coal reminds us we are never alone, no matter how far buried we feel, and you are with us for all the age.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

“Black bun”/Fruit Cake – filled with lots of different ingredients; some sweet, some not to sweet; some dry and in need of other ingredients to help them do their job; some nuts and some things we don’t expect to find.

Father, as we think about this piece of cake, help us be reminded of your church. Made up of different, exotic or downright odd ingredients, when we as individuals come together in your name something deep, rich and nourishing happens.

We pray for all your church around the world, and we ask that you strengthen it, guide it and we ask for your continued blessing.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Salt – can be used in lots of ways; as currency, to cleanse, to add flavour, to preserve, to tenderise.

May this salt remind us of your love, your grace in our lives. How, without you at the centre of our lives Father, we lack so much.

We pray that through this coming year, we continue to put you central to everything we think or do.

We pray too for those whose lives lack flavour or interest through sickness, despair, poverty, homelessness, grief. We ask that you put us in those places where we can help.

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer

Whisky – made from the same ingredients as bread – grain, yeast, water.

Heavenly Father remind us that Jesus is the bread of life. He is the source of all our hope and we pray that we continually feed on him in our hearts.

This whisky is a reminder too of the Holy Spirit – the one who breathes fire into our hearts, who unites people, who stirs up passions and without whom we are weak, and useless at being your hands and voices in our world.

Father we pray that this tiny bottle reminds us that your power in this world cannot ever be contained.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.

 

 

Daybook Entry -7th November 2016


simple-woman-daybook-largeFor Today… 7th November

Outside my window… the weather is miserable. It is bitterly cold and the drizzle has got needle edges on it.

I am thinking… that I am glad I took some time out last weekend to have a rest and to gather my strength.

I am thankful… for the food in my freezer. That might sound like a very trite thing to say, but trust me, it’s not. Times are hard and money is extremely tight, and we managed to pull together enough money last week for two weeks’ worth of groceries to be able to batch cook meals in individual portions for the coming months. Not only do we have the security of knowing there are meals ready prepared (and with fresh produce, and where I know exactly what’s in them) but we also have enough to share.

I am praying for… my son’s girlfriend and her family who were suddenly thrown out of their home on Friday. They have had to split the family up to find accommodation for the short term, and she is staying with us for a while until her mum and dad can get back on their feet. I am also praying for my own family, particularly my husband, for the strength to keep going and to trust that things are going to work out one day.

I am creating… crocheted mini Christmas stockings for a bit of fun, and I’m working on a hat for myself for winter.

I am going… to meet up with an old friend sometime soon who I haven’t seen for ages.

I am wondering… whether I am going to finish NaNoWriMo this year. Signs are not good so far, but there’s time yet!

I am reading… “The Hanging Tree” by Ben Aaronovitch. It is the latest in a series of books about a special department of the Metropolitan Police which deals with the magical as well as the criminal. The others have been very good and so far this one is turning out to be the same.

I am hoping… my Achilles tendon heals soon because as the weather is getting colder, it is aching more and the lump has come back again.

I am learning… to look for the fingerprints of God in everything around me.

In my garden… a tennis ball randomly appeared one day last week. I don’t know where it came from and it has gone again now. Who? Why? When? What? How come??

In my kitchen… I have made a concerted effort to cook from scratch every night for the past couple of weeks, and it is paying off. I did a lot of research into budget and straightforward recipes that used basic ingredients that I could get cheaply, and I have been trying out some really good and exciting new dishes as well as making some of our family favourites for meals. It has been a useful exercise – not only is it costing us less, but it is healthier and I feel more useful in the house by contributing something by cooking for us all. Tis a good feeling.

A favourite quote for today… “some days you’re more on top of your horse than others” (can’t remember who said it, but it is a good one!)

A peek into one of my days… my graduation last week. I was conferred the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Humanities with Creative Writing from The Open University at the Bridgewater Hall. Phew what a mouthful, but what a day! Thoroughly enjoyed it and I could get used to wearing that gown and hood.

One of my favourite things… is clean sheets, clean pyjamas and a clean body before bedtime. Bliss!

Post Script: You may have gathered things are a little difficult at the moment, and it has left me unwilling/unable to blog very much recently. Trust me, I feel better than I did a little while ago so I will be making every effort to try to blog a bit more in the coming weeks. There are lots of things on the calendar coming up with band and church and so on, so keep watching, things are going to be interesting to say the least.

 

Share Your World – Week 36


I have Cee to thank for today’s post. You’ll find her at Share Your World

List 2 things you have to be happy about?

Food in my cupboard, and air in my bike tyres.

If you could take a photograph, paint a picture or write a story of any place in the world, what and where would it be?

I would love to be able to paint a picture of water, and my choice of location would be somewhere like the rugged Lake District in England, or maybe the stunningly beautiful Llyn peninsula of Wales. I am not any sort of artist though and any painting I made would probably not be fit for viewing. However, I would love to write about it. And with that in mind, watch this space! I have an idea for a story set in the 6th Century involving pilgrims on a journey through Wales to the holy island of Bardsey.

Should children be seen and not heard?

Hmmm difficult one this! I believe children have the right to be heard, but along with that right they have the responsibility to understand that so does everyone else. Children are naturally gregarious and boisterous, but they have to learn that there are times when that isn’t appropriate and adult time is valuable too. There’s nothing worse than trying to have a conversation with someone only for them to break off to answer their child who is pulling at them with “Mummy, Mummy” going on. Apart from being extremely rude to the person they are speaking to, they are giving the child the message that they are prepared to drop everything and answer them on the spot. Sometimes a quiet “in a minute, I’m speaking” is all that’s needed…so long as they don’t then forget to get back to the child! It’s all about manners and self-awareness for me, but no, I don’t think that children should be seen and not heard. They have a right to mix with company and be noisy if needed, just so long as they know that they are not necessarily the centre of attention and know when to be quiet.

List at least five of your favourite first names.

baby-nameAs a writer I’m forever trying to come up with names for my characters, and it can be a traumatic experience I can tell you! Some names conjure up a set of expectations and I try to match those expectations with my characters and sometimes I like to play around with them and name a character the opposite of what the reader would expect. However, my own personal taste – if I were to have the privilege of naming an actual child again – are very traditional. Here’s my favourites, in no particular order (the first two are my own children’s names!)

Ethan
Emma
William
Elizabeth
Jessica
James
Matthew

Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

I was very grateful to see a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen for several months. We had been very close for a number of years but there have been a few spanners in the works this year and we have drifted away from each other recently, so I was extremely grateful that we could spend some time on Friday catching up and just enjoying each other’s company again.

Coming up, I’m looking forward to Ethan going back to college and Emma starting her new job next Monday.

 

 

Daybook Entry 15th August 2016


8598a-simple-woman-daybook-largeFor Today… 15th August 2016

Outside my window… the sun is setting, throwing up a beautiful peachy glow over things in the garden

I am thinking… about doing a long-distance walk next summer, inspired by the beautiful countryside in North Wales where I have just been on holiday. There is a route from Holywell that winds its way from chapel to holy site to standing stones to chapel westwards towards the Llyn peninsula and then on to Aberdaron on the tip which, it is said, has been used by pilgrims for centuries. The whole route is around 135 miles and if I do walk it, I would probably mix camping out in the wild with B&B’s and proper camping overnights. My fitness levels need to be improved – a LOT! – before I seriously consider it, but I think it would be something good to set my mind to doing for both physical and spiritual healing.

I am thankful… for the two weeks of family time I have just spent in Wales in our little caravan. Things have been tense and stressful for too long recently and I think we all needed the break away from the routine and grind of daily life. There was a time when I thought we wouldn’t be able to have a holiday this year, even a cheap one camping in a farmer’s field like we did do, so yes, I am extremely thankful that we were given the chance to do that.

Family time camping in Wales
Family time camping in Wales

I am praying for… strength, wisdom, insight and guidance for myself; healing for a battered and bruised friendship; a light at the end of this very dark and winding financial tunnel I am travelling down.

I am wearing… shorts and a t-shirt. It’s been a hot day today in Manchester.

I am creating… a story about two friends who promise each other they will get together with each other if neither of them has a partner by the time they are 30. It’s a plot that has been done before (many times!) but there will be a twist to mine which I don’t think has ever been written yet.

I am going… to have my hair cut tomorrow. I have done it myself for the past couple of years and as there is still some money in the kitty from our holidays I’m finally going to have it cut by someone who knows what they are doing and who can even up my dodgy layers at the back.

I am wondering… if this broken tooth will hold up til next Monday when I can get to the dentist to have it fixed.

I am reading…  “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon. Kevin was given the box set of series one for his birthday and we watched it bit by bit in the evenings on holiday. I enjoyed it so much I have decided to read the book too. It’s a great story, one of my favourite genres, where Claire ends up slipping back through time from 1945 to 1743 and the eve of the Jacobite rising in Scotland. there are a lot of historical anachronisms, but they are forgivable because the storytelling is so good.

I am hoping… for a better night’s sleep tonight than I had last night. It was a good old-fashioned tramadol night last night, complete with twitching, restlessness, itching and hallucinations which have left me feeling a bit hungover today. Sleepy, not quite ‘with it’ and wondering if what I dreamed about someone being pregnant is just a flight of fancy or if my subconscious has picked something up and is playing it back to me under the guise of tramadol-induced ‘sleep’.

I am learning… to let go of things even though it hurts to do so.

In my garden… the hydrangea bush is a gorgeous colour this year. It has been pink or blue in the past but this year it is a beautiful lilac/purple colour. I think it can be explained by the change in soil pH after the removal of a tree next door a couple of years ago. I read somewhere once that the acidity or alkalinity of the soil where a hydrangea is situated has an effect on the colour of the blooms, and I think that’s what has happened here. I’d post a photo but it’s gone dark now. I’ll try and remember for next time.

In my kitchen… we had pasta which was brought back from Italy by Ethan a couple of weeks ago. He was on a band tour with Bury Music Centre and thought I might like to have some genuine Italian pasta, which was very thoughtful of him. It was multi-coloured and very nice. I did a chorizo, mushroom and tomato sauce to go with it – delish.

A favourite quote for today… “Young people might have lots of energy to run fast, but older people know how to read the map”

A peek into one of my days… 

Sunset at Nant Gwrtheyrn, Wales
Sunset at Nant Gwrtheyrn, Wales

This photo is one of my favourite from my holiday this year. A glorious sunset, the sounds of the waves below us on the beach and my son in silhouette setting up his camera to take some shots of his own.

One of my favourite things… the taste sensation that is sweet and salty popcorn mixed up together. Oh my word!

Post Script: My postscript today is a thank you and an apology to Mary. First of all, thank you for your lovely card which arrived the morning I left for my holiday, and an apology that I didn’t get to send you a postcard from Wales because I took your card with me but forgot to bring the envelope with your address on it! I have sent you a couple of cards in an envelope so you can see a bit more about where we were on holiday – expect it in a few days!

 

 

Daybook Entry – 13th July


8598a-simple-woman-daybook-largeFor Today… 13th July

Outside my window… there is still a trace of blue in the sky and it has gone 11pm

I am thinking… about the juxtaposition of tragedy and celebration today

I am thankful… that I have a ministry in the church

I am praying for… Millie’s family, Alfie and his mum, the children of Pike Fold School who came to Messy Church today

I am wearing… my hair loose for a change

I am creating… a jacket for myself. I have cut out the pattern pieces and the fabric for the lining, but I haven’t plucked up the courage to cut out the fabric for the jacket itself yet. I’m letting my knees recover before I get down on the floor to do that!

I am going… to take my son shopping for clothes tomorrow for his band trip to Italy next week

I am wondering… when his passport will arrive

I am reading… I’m in between books at the moment having finished “House Rules” by Jodi Picoult yesterday afternoon, but I did read a short story by Neil Gaiman last night called “Odd and the Frost Giants” which was brilliant. I don’t usually read fantasy stories, but this one was a great read and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a satisfying read for half an hour or so

I am hoping… I don’t miss the delivery man tomorrow who is going to be bringing me my Dad’s birthday present in the post. I’m hoping my Dad likes it too

I am learning… that the human spirit is probably the toughest substance in the universe

In my garden… we have lavender, strawberries, thyme and parsley growing on the deck and the smell is divine

In my kitchen… we had a bit of a concoction for tea tonight – mushrooms, courgettes, yellow peppers, red onions in a tomato sauce with gnocchi. Not bad for a knocked-together quick meal

A favourite quote for today…

Psalm 139

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

A peek into one of my days…

Dragon in the sky tonight
Dragon in the sky tonight

One of my favourite things… is seeing children singing and dancing in church

Post Script:

It has been a very trying time for me and my family recently and we have survived yet another storm in our lives. It has felt like life was giving us a bit of a kicking but we are on the up again now and looking forward to a couple of things this month now. First of all, Ethan is going away with the music centre for a few days’ concert tour in Italy next week then it will be our 25th wedding anniversary the week after. A few days after that we are planning on going camping although Emma won’t be with us this time and she is staying at home. She has been working away at a High Adventure camp for the past six weeks and between you and me, I think she’s a bit fed up of tents and sleeping bags at the minute! Our change in outlook is because of a couple of things that have come together at the same time and it has made things altogether feel better, even if they haven’t actually solved the problem. With prayer and faith, and the grace of God extended to us through our friends, life is feeling a lot happier and we have some things to look forward to now.

 

 


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.

 

 

 

Peaceful Hodgpodge


 

It’s another week on the Hodgepodge and thanks to Joyce for these great questions again this week.  If you want to have a go too, please click the graphic below and follow the instructions. Dive in!

 

1. If you could sit beside and/or jump in any lake in the whole wide world today, which lake would you choose and why?

I would love to be beside Wast Water in the Lake District. It is one of the most beautiful and spiritual places I have visited – not that I’ve travelled much – but this place is breathtaking.

Wast Water, Cumbria

2. What’s your favourite ‘fruity’ drink?

Vimto. Not too strong and made up with fresh cold water it is my favourite pick-me-up at the minute.

3. I read a list here of thirteen things to do right now to simplify your life. They were-

clean as you go, re-evaluate your relationships (cut toxic ties), unsubscribe (too many blogs and websites), de-clutter, write down your daily goals, reply to emails right away, forget multitasking, create a morning routine, re-evaluate your commitments (which hobbies and responsibilities are most important to you), say no, clean up your computer, and plan your day ahead

Which of the tasks listed do you currently find most helpful in keeping life simple? Which item on the list should you adopt in order to simplify your life this month?

There are quite a few of this list that I could do right now to simplify my life! In no particular order – re-evaluate my relationships, clean as I go, reply to emails straight away, learn to say ‘no’ and stick to it, change my morning routine and having had a commitment re-evaluation forced upon me by ill health I don’t really want to do that again voluntarily but there’s no harm in being careful and having a long hard look at the things I fill my time with.

4. What did you do the summer after you graduated from high school?

As a Brit, we don’t do high school the same as you do in the US and our equivalent is Sixth Form, or College, which is the stage before university study. I did a year at college but failed my exams miserably and left to get a clerical job with ICI at the age of 17. I’ve tried hard all my life to make sure my kids don’t repeat my mistake.

5. Are you a fan of podcasts? If so what’s a favourite?

No, not really. I prefer to read content than listen to it and struggle to even listen to audio books so podcasts are definitely not for me thank you.

6. Do you think today’s fathers have it harder, easier, or just different than fathers in the past?

I think they have some things easier (communication and openness about emotions and relationships for example) but they have other things harder (working to provide for a family’s needs is beyond even the most basic wage and so fathers are stretched to earn enough). I think expectations of fatherhood have changed over the years from both children and fathers themselves and some of it is for the better and some of it is not. The responsibilities of fatherhood are the same as ever, but being able to fulfil them are very different I think.

7. Tell us one way you’re like your father? Or not at all like your father if that’s easier?

Physically I have my Dad’s moles and freckles – even down to the mole on our right cheeks that are in exactly the same spot – and whereas my brothers and my mum have hazel coloured eyes, my dad and I have got dark brown eyes. In other ways were are very alike in that we have the same sense of humour (daft and crackpot!), we both love reading and have a large cross-over of interest in the stuff we read, we are both ambidextrous (Dad more than me, but operating tools and paintbrushes we are both the same) and we both love learning – history mainly. Apart from that, we’re not very alike at all haha!

 

 

pam and dad iow
Me and my Dad on the Isle of Wight about 1984/5
My Dad last Christmas playing the "who am I" game
My Dad last Christmas playing the “who am I” game, appropriate character – would you believe he’s 68?

 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Why does the world have to be so violent? And not just cruel and hurtful on a small scale, between individuals, but wholescale hatred and barbarity resulting in mass death and injury. I don’t get it. Obviously I’m referring to the shooting in Orlando, but also at the Euro 2016 football tournament in France. Why can’t folk just get along with each other without resorting to rioting, or shooting, or letting off flares at one another? Why can’t people live and let live? So what if you don’t approve of someone’s lifestyle, or sexual orientation, or football team they support, or religion they follow, or even what country they were born in. Get over it and let them be. It saddens me that in our so-called ‘advanced’ society, people can still be killed for something that is none of anybody else’s business and where they are doing no harm to anyone.

But it’s not just human to human is it? It saddens me to know there are people who hunt ‘game’ in Africa for fun – elephants, tigers, lions, giraffes and so on – just because they can. Not to gain food, not in self-defence, not to put it out of its misery if it is ill or injured, but simply because they see it as sport, for fun.

Needless and wanton violence for the sake of it and it really upsets me. We pray for peace all the time, and you might agree with me that we are the agents of our own prayers being answered. If that’s true then it is up to us to start doing what we can to bring peace to our world.

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.

 

Phew – Made It!!


It’s been a busy few months on the Mushy Cloud and you may have noticed an absence of blog posts for a while. I have recovered from my heavy (oh so heavy!) workload now and I hope you will rejoin me as I start my blogging experience again.

In case you didn’t know what has been happening, I have finished my degree after studying 5 modules in 3 years with the Open University and have been working hard on my final assignments.

I was studying a course in advanced creative writing, which involved learning more about the different forms of writing including my (new) favourite of writing drama. Drama is a cover-all term for radio plays, stage plays, screenplays etc and I wrote a 30 minute screenplay for my final assignment which is something that I never thought I would ever be able to do. I loved writing it and am anxious about how it will be received and whether it will earn me enough marks for me to pass at the level I want. It is a story set in 1918 and the present day and is about a soldier from the trenches who is brought to a military hospital in Cheshire where he meets and falls in love with a nurse. I didn’t set out to write a love story but when the characters start talking to you, you have to go with the flow I guess.

My other module was on Children’s Literature, which involved learning all about the history of children’s literature as well as thoroughly getting to grips with a big range of texts. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I signed up for it, but I have thoroughly loved it and I have read some books that I would never have thought of outside this module, such as ‘Buffalo Soldier’ by Tanya Landman. A brilliant book and well worth a read.

So both of these modules represent the culmination of a 20 year journey for me, and if all goes well and to plan, then I am in line to be awarded a 2:1 degree in July. I will let you know how that goes.

In other news, I tried running in an attempt to get my body moving and to combat the long hours I had been putting into studying. It didn’t go well and I gave up far too easily, but I will be getting going again soon. Either running or cycling. Or swimming. Yes, swimming instead. Easier on my poor feet!

It took me a long while to recover after my final assessment went in – too much reading in a short space of time left my eyes a bit tired and my brain very mushy, not to mention the kinks in my back from being sat for long stretches at the desk. I haven’t been able to read very much for a week or so, but my creative streak had a flare and I did some art work instead and it was nice to do something a bit different this week.

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Work in progress – sunflowers in pastels. It’s all about the process not the result

It has been a whirlwind of activity at church too in the last few months and now that I have finished my OU studies I am really looking forward to getting on with that more fully again. I have been on the ministry team in delivering two funerals, which I’ll perhaps tell you about in another post, including the back-stage ‘tour’ I had at the crematorium after my first one. That was an amazing experience, fascinating and reassuring in equal measure. There is no need for families to worry that their loved one will be mixed up with someone else, or that the staff won’t be careful etc because the system behind the scenes is like a military operation and is done with the utmost care and compassion.

There’s been a lot on at band too recently, which I’ve managed to juggle reasonably well. I was invited to conduct Lees Band on Whit Friday and my own band of Todmorden Community Brass Band has been rather occupied too. It really has been a mad couple of months!

Me with the board carriers at Lydgate with the Lees Band in the background
Me with the board carriers at Lydgate with the Lees Band in the background

 

Todmorden Band at Salem Fields in Hebden Bridge. The sun burst out just after this photo was taken and I have been burned to a crisp on my conducting arm and neck. Ouch!
Todmorden Band at Salem Fields in Hebden Bridge. The sun burst out just after this photo was taken and I have been burned to a crisp on my conducting arm and neck. Ouch!

I’ve got a couple of weeks of invigilation coming up now, but I have got a couple of writing projects I want to work on and can’t wait to have the time to start properly.

So there you have it. It’s been busy, it is still busy, and it’s going to stay busy. But there’s now room for creativity and reflection as well, which makes for a happier Pam and a calmer Pam too.

Onward, always onward!