Tuesday 29 July 2008

No Internet

Just a quick post to let you know that I have no internet connection until further notice. The server I was using has  been taken over by some one else & has let me down. I will have to wait until son has the time to switch me to a more reliable company. 

I WILL be back and I shall be missing you all. I am in a cafe that has a connection.
'Bye for now.

Sunday 27 July 2008

Repeated Patterns In My Life.

Yesterday Harry and I had a lovely day. We got on a bus using our free bus passes. We travelled a long way. We ended up in a lovely place with beautiful scenery and picturesque houses and old buildings and I took a photo of a gargoyle and we laughed at the pigeons sitting on the heads of every statue. We sat in a shady place while we ate sandwiches, because it had turned out really warm and sunny and I felt for the first time for a long time that I was bordering on happiness. It has taken me over a month to get over the sudden exit of the Japanese family and to come to terms with the various ways in which the big C has affected all our lives. The way it waits to pounce on us when we least expect it to. Harry's hospital appointment is not for a couple of weeks yet so we have a respite before the worry of what the blood test will reveal.
The afternoon turned out to be ideal. We eventually headed back home and had a take away meal, a surprise visit from my brother and we stayed up to watch a thriller film, "Flight Plan" which had us both gripping our seats! A really good day from start to finish!

Until, I suddenly remembered to switch off my mobile, that is. A text from my daughter, with the news that her husband had been rushed to hospital again. For those of you who don't know the present situation, I will just do a quick recap. Son in law had a brain tumour removed about three months ago. It turned out to be linked to his malignant melanoma that he had in a mole on his leg twelve years prior to that. He thought he had got over it. Now it seems he has all the symptoms back from the tumour. Could another one have grown that fast? We will have to wait and see. It sounds a pretty virulent, nasty type of cancer.
My daughter is distraught and the boys are obviously going to be disturbed by seeing their father screaming in agony. The eldest is possibly autistic and waiting for tests. Harry is fighting prostate cancer. My brother's wife has bone cancer, following the return of her breast cancer that she had twelve years ago. Twelve....... a significant number.........again. As well as all this, I had to cope with the sudden departure late one night of the family who had left in anger over a dispute about dripping washing in the loft. They had been with me for 11 months. All this has taken its toll on me, but yesterday I was happy for the first time for ages.

This has happened in the past when I have dared to declare myself to be happy.
Going on an outing with the children and finding my husband's motorbike on the front path and a note saying, "Don't worry, Harry is suffering concussion in hospital."
A day when I'd gone on a painting course for the day and daughter, who was twelve then, had to have my mother sign an emergency form so that she could have surgery for a broken elbow.
Six times at different points of our lives, usually holiday time, my husband has collapsed on me, while I had dared to be in a happy state of mind.

Maybe it would be better if I didn't let myself get too happy in the first place. That way I wouldn't be opening myself up for another knock to the floor.
Sorry for being so pessimistic today. I had a funny post ready to publish but that seems inappropriate now. Once again, you will have to bear with me. I will rise again as I always do, but I wish daughter didn't live so far away............

Friday 25 July 2008

The Culprit!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

This is the photo of my little shed that I painted blue. I was wandering round Wilkinson's and spied this little snail in the exact colour of blue to match. Well I have enough real snails in my garden without adding artificial ones too. I bought it, though, for cosmetic reasons and it lived on the top of the shed roof and looked like it was meant to be there.
Meanwhile, all the real snails get thrown over the fence onto the service lane behind! This gives them the chance to "scuttle off," in a snail like way, if they survive their flight! If not and they get run over.......... well I didn't have to kill them did I? They had a chance!

I went down to the shed the other day and noticed something was different! The plant had obviously grown a bit but the snail was gone! Had it crawled off in the night? Hardly likely! The real culprit from next door was sitting on the shed wondering what I was going to do about it! Well it might not even be him! There are four of them living next door and they all like to curl up on my shed!

The snail was found lying behind the potted plant with his horns broken off! I will not be taking a photo of him as it is too depressing, but he won't be sitting on top of the shed any more!

This is my story and these are my photos for Photostory Friday.

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Time To Discard These?

authorblog: Weekend Wandering

This week, David asks us, "Do you have an item of clothing that you haven't worn for a year?"

Well, yes, several if I'm honest, though I do generally have a policy to to get rid of anything that I haven't worn for a year. Some things I have though have never been worn. Why are they in the wardrobe then? What right do the have to be there at all?

There are three things hanging up against the wardrobe in this picture. The first is a waistcoat made out of silk from an ancient kimono and was a present from Japan. It is lovely to look at but there is something wrong with the way the armholes pucker up at the back. So if I was to wear it, there would have to be major surgery on it. Like wise the second waistcoat. My mother gave me that one and I think it was made in South America and I like the colour and design but once again, there is something about the way it hangs around the back of the armholes. Now I have put this down in writing, I feel that there must be something wrong with the way my arms or back makes it hang. Obviously I should not be wearing waistcoats but strange to think that other people give them to me!
I don't know why I have them still. I just seem to not be able to bear get rid of them. I have just been waiting to get them fixed!
The third thing is a yukata (kind of Japanese dressing gown) that I bought when we visited Japan in the year 1999. I have had several given to me as presents and obviously cannot get to wear several at a time. Also in England, for much of the year these flimsy things are too cold and so I need to put on my warmer, cosy one.

What am I going to do with these three items after this post has been published, you may well ask?
Well they are going back in the wardrobe of course! In the meantime, if you bump into anyone wearing these articles of clothing, you will be able to say, "Hi Maggie May, I recognize those clothes, so it must be you!

Saturday 19 July 2008

The Concert (Memory Lane)

This is the story from my childhood when my brother and I were taken to a concert.

My father was what you would call a highbrow. He was a clever scientist but sometimes not always on the ball when it came to common sense! I always found him to be rather remote and my brother Godfrey and I learned not to bother him too much because he could get very annoyed with us for the slightest thing. When I look back I realized that he was not very good with children's needs at all but he mellowed into a lovely grandpa to my children. They have very happy memories of him so I think he must have practiced on Godfrey and me, before moving on to become that lovely Grandpa!
However, when I was a child, his favourite saying was, "Children should be seen but not heard!" This was completely old fashioned even when I was a child. In some ways he treated us like adults and took us to see some operas, recitals and concerts that were totally unsuitable for young children.

I can remember when I was about five years old and Godfrey only half that age, my Mum and Dad took us to a very stuffy church concert. I can picture it all very clearly in my mind's eye......... a church hall that was very dreary and rows of chairs filled with very old people. The women all wore hats, so where we were sitting, we couldn't see much of the stage at all, even though we were quite near the front. We were the only children there. Large fat ladies trilling out arias that seemed to go on for hours. We were getting very bored as there was nothing at all to interest young children. Nothing to see, no reason to be there at all. Naturally we were restless and must have whined and moaned, as the lady directly in front of us, turned round and offered my brother and me a boiled sweet each out of a white paper bag. I popped one into my mouth, glad of the diversion, but before Mum could stop him, Godfrey had put one into his mouth and promptly started to choke! He literally couldn't breath.

My Dad swooped him up under his arm and calmly walked out of the hall. My Mum looked very distressed and after what seemed like an hour but could only have been a few minutes, father and son returned to the hall and walked with smiling faces to their seats and Godfrey was munching his sweet! Apparently Dad had turned him upside down and slapped his back and the offending sweet dislodged from his windpipe!

We both sat still as mice for the rest of the concert and I think that little emergency shocked us into silence while the arias droned on.................!
Funny I should remember that so clearly!

Friday 18 July 2008

A Last Minute Find!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Not long ago on a Saturday, Harry and I used our bus passes and went a long journey! We arrived at a suitable place to take photos. Well I wanted to take photos and Harry was happy to just be there and admire the scenery.
Well, I was happy as a sand boy snapping this, that and the other, when all of a sudden my camera jammed. The zoom wouldn't go in or out and that left the lens open, which I gather is not a good thing. I found a camera shop and explained what had happened. They examined it and took out the battery and the zoom snapped shut. I had got a flat battery. Feeling rather foolish, I thanked them and was a bit annoyed that there was so much to photograph and my camera was dead! Blast!

"Never mind," Harry said, "We can come again next weekend when the camera is all charged up." I thought that was a good idea and that was exactly what we did.
Only this time it was raining! Not possible to take all the lovely photos! Oh well might as well go into the shops and look through the second hand book stalls out of the rain. I bought a book and when we were on our way home we passed a stream and I felt something had moved on the edge of my vision. I went to investigate and saw baby ducklings. They seemed to be on their own. Then I looked closer and saw the mother with about six babies. She let me get quite close and I zoomed right in and took the photo. I felt that was worth waiting for. 

Harry and I will try another weekend and see what else we can snap when the weather is better.
We might even be able to take photos of the ducklings when they are bigger, if they are still there.

This is my true story and photo produced for Photostory Friday, hosted by Cicely and MamaGeek.

Tuesday 15 July 2008

Naked Dolls

Not everyone approves of Barbie dolls, I know that. However we were given a load of second hand dolls that were dressed up in lovely clothes. We also had a big bag of spare clothes to dress them up in and the granddaughters have had a wonderful time playing with them. Some of them were Bratz dolls which are almost as bad as Barbies. The reason that they are disliked by adults is because they are not in the correct proportions to a real person. They have huge heads and eyes, elongated legs and minute feet and if they were real, they would be severely disabled. There is also the fashion obsession that goes with these dolls, not to mention their adult bosoms!
Putting aside all these non desirable details, the girls have a habit of removing all their clothes and leaving them all piled in a naked heap! Once their clothes are removed, they lose their appeal altogether and in fact they do not get played with after that.
In the beginning, I went round putting more clothes on them after the girls had gone to bed and once more they would be played with! 
Before too long, though the naked pile of dolls would grow into a heap and be discarded. They look as though they are having some kind of orgy!

As I work in an After School Club, I have noticed that girls of all ages seem to do this, even with baby dolls. The clothes will be torn off and discarded and the dolls not played with again until they are dressed!
What is going on? Can someone enlighten me?

Sunday 13 July 2008

In Need Of A Good Sort Out?

authorblog: Weekend Wandering

This week, David  Mcmahon, from authorblog set the question, "How long since you cleaned a cupboard or a room?"

The above photo shows a section of my wardrobe, which obviously needs a good clean and tidy up. I seem to have lots of things belonging to my computer in there, as I have no place else to store them. So this wardrobe has obviously not been cleaned out for some time.
Trouble is, when I tackle a cupboard or a drawer, I often find bundles of sentimental things. Old letters and cards from people who have either died or moved away. I have sometimes started to clean and removed all these treasures to sort out. I end up rereading letters and cards and looking at things that have not been viewed for ages. I carefully read everything and reminisce about past memories associated with these objects. I then run out of time, bundle them all up and put them back where I found them! 

I have recently cleaned and tidied up the kitchen, since the family have left our house. That definitely looks much better than it did. I have tidied muddles in the bathroom too! 
I need to tackle our bedroom next and the spare bedroom and the attic. The front lounge has been done. Our house can be likened to the Forth Bridge in Scotland, by the time the painters have finished repainting from one end to the other, it all has to be repeated, so really goes on for ever! Our house is a bit large and rambling and needs constant attention. In many ways, it is getting too much for us to maintain. I feel we are at a crossroads in our life. Do we stay here or go for something smaller?

However, the need to clean will be here long after I am dead and gone and I feel that I have to have some enjoyment in  my life now, so quite often it all gets postponed while I do something else.
I do have my limits though! I am eventually forced to do something about a muddle for the sake of my sanity. I will only let the muddles get so bad, before I have to tackle them.
How about you?

Friday 11 July 2008

The Face That Spoilt Everything.

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

When I was nine years old I was friendly with April, a girl from the same school that I went to. We had recently moved house and I didn't know many people, so April was one of the first friends who I saw out of school. We started to see each other in the evenings and at weekends. She told me she had a baby sister called Suzie. It turned out that Suzie was a life sized doll and that April's father had died young, so there were no other siblings.

Suzie must have been the envy of every girl for miles around. She had a porcelain face and was dressed in real intricately knitted baby clothes. She had fair curly hair and was pushed around in a pale blue "carry cot on wheels" type of pram, that was very unusual in that era and I would have given my eye teeth for one like that. Girls in those days seemed to play with dolls much longer than children do today and on the whole they seemed much younger in comparison to the same aged children today. The above photo obviously does not do justice to the real Suzie and this doll is just a cheap one belonging to my grand daughters.
Apart from the fact that she was a much loved doll, Suzie must have been valuable. She was April's most treasured possession, so much so, that she thought of her as her own sister.

One day after playing at our house, April ran home for her tea, leaving Suzie in her pram with me. She was supposed to come straight back for her after her meal but as the time ticked by, I realized she had not been allowed to do this.
I took Suzie out of her pram to play with her. I cuddled her and carried her around with me like a baby. I then made a crucial mistake of sitting her on the dining room chair next to the table and pretended to give her a meal. Crash...... Suzie fell sideways to the floor and her face cracked in half!

To say that I was mortified was the understatement of a life time. It might just as well have been the end of the world. How could I tell April that Suzie was dead!

After I'd cried and was almost sick with fear, my mum, who was very matter of fact, said, "Well if she was so precious, then why did she leave her here in the first place?" She then went on to tell me that I must give April one of my own dolls to make up for it.
I took my doll, Elizabeth, with the cheap pottery face and the bald head. Although she was much loved, she wasn't a patch on Suzie.

"Come on then, better face the music," said Mum as we pushed the pram towards the road where April lived. I could hardly walk.
The bell rang and a look of pleasure fell upon April and her mother's face when they saw the pram.
Then they noticed the face! Tears welled up in both their eyes, though politely they took Elizabeth and closed the door. Mum had done the talking, but what could be said?

Things were never the same after that. Mum said that the friendship would have cooled anyway, as April passed a scholarship into a boarding school so we wouldn't get the opportunity to see much of each other from then on. However, I knew the real reason why we didn't stay in touch. It was because of Suzie and what I had done.
I still squirm with embarrassment and remorse at the memory and April if you happen to be reading this, then I am truly sorry!

This is my true story written for Photo Story Friday which is hosted by Cecily and Mama Geek

Thursday 10 July 2008

More bling

This award came from Lavinia of The Bird Bath Chronicles, a lady who has only recently come to my notice. She has a really lovely gardening blog full of flowers and birdbaths. I recommend that you give her a visit. I am really honoured to receive this award. Thank you! 
I would like to pass this on to Mean Mom who can write some very amusing posts, but also reflective ones. She just loves to give virtual parties!

 This award was kindly given to me by Crazy Cath as she said that my blog shines! Wow that is a compliment, isn't it? I think everyone will know Cath, who is famous for her photography. However if you have never visited her, please pop over and you will not be disappointed.

Now I will award Lindsay from Rural Villager with this award. I have not known her very long and she is fairly new to blogging by all accounts. I like what I see and feel there is warmth shining through her posts. 

This award was handed over by Suburbia, another great blogger who writes really good posts often with humour and always with originality. Many thanks for this lovely award, Suburbia.
I will hand this over to Nana's Living The Dream, another lady who I have only just met. I have looked through many of her posts and the message that seems to come through is love, so I am handing this over to her. Please look her up.

Monday 7 July 2008

Tears of Joy And Sadness!

authorblog: Weekend Wandering

This week David Mcmahon invites us to write about "What Brings Tears To Our Eyes?"
Well apart from the obvious answer of onions.................

I don't like "Goodbyes" and get very tearful, especially long drawn out goodbyes! When my daughter first got married I found it hard when she used to travel a long way to visit and then I had to say goodbye all over again. It got worse when grandson number one arrived and I knew it would be several months till I saw him again. I used to have a short weep after they left and then everything would be fine. Some how or other I outgrew this habit as the time went by.
However when my son went to Japan to live and kept coming home for visits (very long spaced out ones) I found partings were very hard. This was enhanced a thousand fold when the first granddaughter was born and I knew that she would be a very different person when they next visited. I shed many tears until I got used to them leaving.

I am prone to shed tears when reading a book about sad things that I can identify with. Moving descriptions of a parting or the joy of seeing a member of the family that has been parted for years, will usually set me off! Films are the same!
Often I am reduced to tears when I see The News and suffering people, especially mothers having their children die of malnutrition or being in danger from marauders or soldiers obsessed with violence. Makes you feel so helpless.

Tears of joy are another thing that I have had happen. The first time I picked up a grandchild and touched his tiny hands and realized that there is some of my blood running through his veins. Some times something happens that really moves me. Maybe some one has been really unexpectedly kind to me or put tremendous thought into a gesture and that has reduced me to tears! 

Of course funny things can reduce me to tears. Once I start laughing, there is no way of stopping. Just have to let it take its course. Its always worse when I am in the company of a giggler in an inappropriate place, where laughing would be considered very rude or offensive.
Sometimes, I've been all alone watching a comedy when I have been laughing till I cried.

I am not even mentioning things that cause major disruptions in a person's life where anybody would cry, as these are really a normal reaction to death of people or pets and other disasters that affect us all from time to time, but apart from tragedies,there are lots of things that would bring tears to my eyes.
These days, I only have to go out on a cold windy day and tears run down my face but it is nothing to do with the way I am feeling. Its just the way the eye reacts! People might think I am crying when I'm not!

Sunday 6 July 2008

To Iron Or Not To Iron?

When my son and family were staying with us, we sometimes rubbed each other up the wrong way when East and West both thought their way of doing something was not just different, but superior.
For instance, I was told that "The Japanese" do not do ironing but pull the wet washing into shape before hanging out to dry. When I say pull, I really mean pull, as I found my favourite blue sweatshirt was twice as wide and much shorter. By the term "The Japanese," I'm not sure if this is the norm for everybody or just a habit of the one I know, so forgive me if I am generalizing here, when I needn't.

I used to iron all the family clothes while they were here and they never complained except to say that it wasn't necessary if only I'd pull the clothes right. I think they thought I was mad to do it!
Well, as they have their own place now I don't need to even think about their laundry habits, but you can imagine my surprise, when Sam popped in and asked me to iron his dancing trousers! I had to smile as obviously the stretch & pull didn't work on them!

The family were on their way to a Morris Dancing weekend, (camping.) People outside England might not know that Morris Dancing is a traditional form of village dancing connected to Spring time that goes back to medieval times. They use sticks and bells and dress either in raggedy clothes & blacken their faces, or brightly coloured outfits. Each region has its own traditional dance routine and style. We are all mad in England, but usually harmless!

Friday 4 July 2008

Bunk Bed Drama

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Mamageek

Not long after my family temporarily moved in with me, I was awakened in the early hours of the morning by the eldest grandchild crying. Funny how no one else heard that! Well I went in to investigate and found Amber, who slept in the top bunk, had wet the bed. I got her out and took her into the bathroom to wash her down. Still nobody else wakened up. I then climbed onto the top bunk to take off the wet sheets and to replace them.
All went well until I tried to get out of the top bunk entrance coming down the ladder backwards and my hips held fast. I was stuck.

"Grannie's stuck, Amber," I whispered.
"Never mind," she replied, "I'll get in the bottom with Millie!"

I went back and forth like a car doing a three point turn and found that if I came down using a different leg, I was out of my prison!
I had thought the family would take the bunk beds to the new house when they left. However the children's bedroom is so small that they would take up too much space. They use Japanese roll up beds so that they can use the floor space as a play area. The bunk beds will come in handy for when the grandsons visit!

This is my story and my photo and is hosted by Cecily and Mamageek.

Tuesday 1 July 2008

My Water Features!

Because my garden is so small, I don't really have space for a pond and I wanted to grow some miniature water lilies. I came across a little book explaining how to create a mini pond in a tub. There were all sorts of inspiring illustrations showing various kinds of garden tubs and containers planted up with lovely lilies, so last year I decided to plant one up and am quite pleased with the result. 
This little pool attracts damsel flies in bright red, blue or green.
It was on this lily pad that I thought I would capture a photo of a damsel. However it turned out to look like a stick and nobody would have known what it was. So maybe in the future I will be able to capture a picture of one! For now you will have to imagine it!

This is a little marshy tub containing reeds and has to be kept moist at all times. The two tubs stand side by side on the patio.
Further down the garden I sank a heavy duty bucket into the ground and put pebbles all around. It wasn't long before a frog set up home there. It is possible to attract wildlife into the garden with only the minimum of space.