Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas chez Di

That's all my chickens flown again. It was lovely having everybody here and the time went all too fast. Charlie was the first to go back to work first thing Boxing Day, then Michael onto night shift last night. Paul left for Norway this morning and Rob left for work at the same time. But it was a good Christmas in every way and now I have to make Christmas soup and somehow sort out all the leftovers so we don't end up throwing things away.

The dogs remembered about Christmas too and Jonny doggedly (sorry!) unwrapped his toy and his pig's ear while Jess went completely crazy and didn't know what to do first and ended up losing her pig's ear to Hamish who nipped in when she was distracted. They gorged themselves on leftovers - alas some sprouts were included - and the house smells appallingly of doggy indigestion.

Paul brought a Wii - which is a sort of computer game where you mimic the movements of the various sports. It was such fun and we were all so involved in a game of 'tennis' on Christmas Eve that we almost forgot to go to Midnight Mass and as it was I was so knackered after leaping around the room batting imaginary balls that I was unable to sing much more than a cheep for the first two carols. However, the incense cleared the tubes and by Hark the Herald at the end as we stood round the crib (the rector had to scurry back to the altar for Baby Jesus) and lit the little candle, I was able to screech the descant not too horribly.

All in all it was most satisfactory :)

Friday, December 21, 2007


The Christmas preparations are going suspiciously well. I even checked the gas-tank to make sure we have enough LPG to see us through the holiday - we usually run out about January 1st - and it's almost full. At this time, I always fret until all my chickens are in the nest and under my wing, which is scheduled to be on Christmas Eve when Paul arrives from Nottingham, although his idea of early afternoon tends to be around midnight. Charlie will be working Christmas day - people still need cared for - but he finishes at 3pm, so he'll be a late chicken.

Speaking of chickens, we'll be eating one on Christmas day. Admittedly it's the size of a small ostrich, but turkey is a terrible price this year thanks to the bird-flu, and as some of the brood don't eat it anyway, I decided to go with a lovely free-range chicken and a nice joint of Aberdeen Angus. Now, of course, I don't know whether to do Yorkshire puddings or bread sauce.

Of course it's still Advent and yesterday I had to doctor the Advent wreath up at the church because it's in danger of going up in flames. The purple berries had to be replaced with fresh ones (isn't it useful that such berries grow in the rectory garden? Our rector is a stickler for the proper colours of advent, so not a red berry in sight until Christmas day) and candle number one had to be replaced with candle two, which was replaced with candle four from last year. This will only make sense to those of you who are advent-wreath-savvy, by the way, sorry. I was reminded of our niece, Eilidh's, christening when the advent wreath under the pulpit suddenly caught fire during Rob's father's sermon and for a moment it seemed he was going to disappear in a column of fire like Elijah. Brave Rob beat out the flames and he lived to preach again.

Happy Christmas to all my friends.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Smoke

Well, that's how the other half live! A weekend in the world of the well-heeled has convinced me that I could get used to it. If you discount the eight hours spent in a white van - admittedly full of art and good wine - my sojourn in London was about as far away from real life as I've been for a while. Rob's friend Bill has a new pad overlooking Chelsea's football pitch (which isn't in Chelsea, but in Fulham and is called Stamford Bridge). He reckons he got it cheap because of the location, but for someone who enjoys footie, having a grandstand view of the pitch from your living room is a bonus and the place formerly belonged to the club director so it's not exactly a rat-hole. Apparently if it was a few hundred yards up the road - in Chelsea - it'd be worth six million. As it is, you insert your special key into the ninth floor button of the lift and it takes you right into the flat. Cool huh?

I spent Saturday on a shop-crawl round Harvey Nick's and Harrods and all manner of designer shops in Knightsbridge, which were all within walking distance. All good fun, although I didn't buy much except for a gold-plated bagel (costing £9!!) for lunch. The hotel was the sort of place that turns down your bed for you in the evening and leaves a half bottle of champagne as a welcome (I brought it home) and a chocolate on the pillow. Lucky for me I'd recently bought a good coat so I didn't feel too much of a scruff. We dined in gastro-pubs and bistros along with half the population - does nobody eat in down there?

Bill showed me how to solve the super-fiendish sudoku too. He has a formidable talent for such things, which is probably why he's such a good bridge player, which is why he lives in a posh pad and collects art and puts up his guests in a luxury to which they are not accustomed (but could become so!). Oh well, it was nice to come home to the doggies and the messy house. I think this is more my style after all.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Tennents seem to be gadding around all over the place. Paul is just home from Chicago where he had such a great time he can hardly stop talking about it, and Alton Towers where he apparently had an even better time, and even made several local newspapers and TV programmes (alas none which were shown in Scotland).

I'm just about to abandon Rob and the dogs and head for Paris where I'm attending the European Man From UNCLE get-together. We plan to do a lot of sight-seeing, a lot of eating (and moderate drinking as befits a bunch of middle-aged fangirls) and a great deal of MFU watching (if my attempts at ripping off some old videos onto dvd works). The dogs are not pleased and are not letting me out of their sight. Perhaps I'd better go and placate them with extra special walkies now.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I took this photo from my garden as the QE2 sailed past on her round Britain farewell cruise. I remember her launch not long after we moved to Glasgow - the White Cart river backed up as far as Pollok, near where I lived. She was the last of the great Cunard Queens, the most stately of all cruise ships and one on which it seemed only the super-rich could aspire to sail. But yesterday, many of the people who built her were aboard with their families as guests. I wonder how many of them ever dreamed it would happen, or indeed dreamed that they would live to see the great ship retire. I somehow thought these wonderful vessels went on indefinitely.

As I sat in the conservatory sewing curtains for my mother-in-law yesterday, I could see her single red funnel towering above the Greenock sky-line. Then, with a terrifying roar, the Red Arrows (or similar planes from Lossiemouth) flew over us and started an incredible display of aerobatics above Greenock. There was red, white and blue smoke and a fantastic circle which left a trail in the shape of a Q in the sky. We watched her on and off all day until - with the weather clearing serendipitously - at 6pm she began manoeuvring out. There were hundreds other boats round about, entirely dwarfed by her; the Cally Mac ferry looked like a little toy boat by comparison.

Kimberly gives a wonderfully evocative description of watching from Dunoon Pier. It made the BBC evening news, but apparently merited only ten seconds and a poor shot of her in Greenock Terminal. Shame on you Beeb.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Candlelight and the midges are still with us

Due to a wedding and a funeral and our rector's inability to split herself in half, we had an unexpected eucharist last night (to reserve the Sacrament for Sunday when she'll be in Rothesay). What a treat it was! Clouds of incense, lots and lots of candles all over the sanctuary - so many I feared for the rector going up in smoke herself when her vestments swished a little too close for comfort - and all for me and two others. It was bliss. I'm doing the sermon on Sunday and I felt that God had really given it his best shot now and it's up to me to do him justice.

The midges were waiting for us outside, but even they couldn't break the mood.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Colour Purple

It's the time of year when my fingers seem to be permanently stained purple - bramble season is upon us once again. Thirty two years ago next week I was brambling while nine months pregnant, and Number One Son was born the following day, so I always know when to start looking in the hedgerows. This year, they're a wee bit early and the hedges are already groaning with lovely big brambles. The dogs are resigned to their walks being punctuated by their person periodically diving into the bushes and emerging with scratches, purple fingers and a full poo-bag that looks as if I've been cleaning up after an elephant! Yes, the poo-bag that I always carry in my pocket has another use in September.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I've been helping my neighbour plan her husband's funeral and it's turning out to be a surprisingly joyous task, despite the sadness. Her husband died after eighteen years of increasing disability following a fall from the roof of their house. Before that he was a hugely energetic, adventurous man, handsome and fit and with a zest for life. That zest remained until his care requirements became too much for his wife to manage at home. Although he was then unable to speak, he made it clear that his wife was everything to him and without her, he didn't want to go on. It took three years before he got his wish and that was down to his own determination not to go on living.

The funeral is truly a celebration of a life characterised by courage, good humour and fortitude. But you cannot attribute these qualities to one without the other, because both partners have lived this life together. Two lives well lived and inexorably intertwined.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hitting the Roof

You'd think buying sixty roof tiles and getting them home would be a scoosh for someone with a tow-bar and a trailer. After all, that's exactly the sort of thing one does all the time when married to a Rob. I've no idea how often I've been to the builders' yard to pick up stuff for his latest project - actually the on-going one which is this house - only to find that it's an enormous thing that has to be tied onto the roof or stuck out the window, or somehow impede one's ability to change gear.

However, yesterday's task almost defeated me. First problem is the trailer, which I discover to be full of bags of old cement and a bag of lime which has swelled in the rain and burst. I assume Rob had intended taking them to the tip so I resolve to do just that - when I can get the darned trailer attached to the car! The cement's so heavy that I can't budge it and the bags are too heavy for me to lift out.

Now this is the first weekend for a while that the weather promises to be dry. The roof is, if not entirely open to the elements, not exactly closed, lacking sixty tiles. I need to get those tiles. I phone Number One Son whom I know to be at home and take the dogs out while waiting for him to arrive. He arrives, wearing a Superman tee-shirt. My hero. Together, with our combined weight of less than twenty stones, we somehow manage to move and attach the trailer. Hooray! Superman and I drive to the tip.

The tip is closed. Or at least, it's not functioning as a tip for the next few days. All the skips are away. It's a car-park for the Games - Dunoon is en fete for the weekend of the Cowal Games. My howl of frustration is heard by a man who kindly lets me drive in and round because I can't reverse with darn trailer attached! Okay, I admit it - I'm a woman driver and we don't do fancy reversing tricks with trailers. They go the wrong way, they twist themselves into jack-knife mode and refuse to budge. I usually have to unhitch the thing and re-attach it after I've turned, but it's too heavy this time. Superman keeps quiet. He can't reverse it either.

I decide to go to the builders' yard anyway, nursing a vain hope that there might be a skip there. The surly chap at the desk is not entirely unaffected by my tale of woe and waves in the direction of a skip which appears to be at capacity. I want to kiss him but restrain myself and try not to think about the fact that my car and trailer are stranded in the yard facing the wrong way, surrounded by trucks and and fork-lifts and men with hairy arms and buiders' bums. Superman is looking a little embarrassed beside his mother's abandoned car but cheers up with the good news and staggers to the skip with the bags of cement, which he balances on top of the full pile with grim determination, and I look for a shovel to get rid of the lime, most of which I tranfer to my clothes and person. Surly Chap goes off with my sample tile to find a match.

Sixty roof-tiles is a trailer-full and they are heavy. I can vouch for that. I manage to carry two at a time and Superman can manage five at a stagger. At some point I seize an opportunity to drive the car in a circle to face out the way as a couple of the trucks leave. Maybe no-one will notice that I'm unable to reverse. The trucks are quickly replaced by several more and a huge skip-lorry arrives to take away the skip, but he he can't get near it because of me and I'm not budging until I have sixty tiles aboard. Three more trucks arrive but they can't get in either. The man with the fork-lift has a load of floorboards on the front and wants through the gap but it isn't wide enough. Superman continues to weave his way in and out of the obstacle course with five at a time while I apologise to the hairy-armed ones. Finally I get my bill from Surly Chap and we depart - or at least we depart after the skip lorry and pick-up trucks have reversed back out of the gate to let us through. I smile and wave cheerily.

"I see you got the tiles," remarks my beloved when he gets home from work.

"Oh yes," I reply, "no bother."

Monday, August 20, 2007


I'm glad I'm not a bishop! Aside from all the problems that would evoke since I'm of the female persuasion, if last night's meeting at the rectory to discuss the Draft Anglican Covenant was anything to go by, trying to come up with a document with words vague enough to cover the whole of the hopelessly divided Anglican Communion right now is an impossible task. It took us about three hours to come up with one sentence explaining why we didn't accept the present draft. We sat around the room like a class of glumps, unable to articulate what we felt was just . . . wrong.

The commodious umbrella of the Anglican church has always accommodated people of incredibly wide-ranging views. Why has the issue of human sexuality caused it to rip itself apart in this way? It seems such a trivial thing. If it was to do with world poverty or the spead of AIDS or the causes of global warming - issues that divide the real world - it might be worth taking a stand, but whether we're going to allow gay clergy to have their loving relationships openly? Come on!

Where's the Christian love for everyone that Jesus taught? You'd think that the church would be up there among the front runners. But wait - didn't we Christians support anti-semitism and apartheid and didn't we fight among ourselves over the Catholic / Protestant divide and female clergy? We're pretty much over those prejudices now and we'll get over this one. But my question is: Why are we behind secular society? We should be leading the way.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Christian living

I'm just home from a Cursillo weekend. Cursillo is a short course on Christian living and I must say this 'weekend' (it's actually three days) was just that. My role was that of table leader, to facilitate discussion among the participants, so I was lucky enough to share all the experiences they had and watch them grow in their faith and determination to make a difference for God. Talk about recharging batteries - is it possible for batteries to overflow? Because that's what I feel I'm doing right now. Cursillo is a wonderful resource within the church to give people the chance to share their experiences on their Christian journey, deepen their understanding of their faith and be encouraged to help build a more active, dynamic Christian community within their own church. As someone on the weekend remarked, if only all churches could be like this!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Oh the stress of it!

Mrs Blethers and I were commiserating about the stress of management yesterday. One of the things that impressed me last weekend in the run-up to the wedding was the way my friends Doo and Mike kept all the balls in the air - sending folk out on missions to pick something or someone up, put up tables, chase up things that hadn't appeared (Where's the disco? It's been stolen in a raid? Get another one!), polish the board for the menus, make signs for the carpark etc etc - and all this while keeping up a constant supply of cups of tea, and bacon rolls. Everyone went about their task willingly, cheerfully and competently and nobody argued or complained or shirked. But most importantly, nobody was overburdened or overwhelmed with things to do - there was plenty of delegation of jobs. A fine example of good management.

Of course I know that the reference to frantically paddling swans (which look so serene on the water) in the wedding sermon would not be lost on the family. I'm quite sure there was plenty of stress going on, but I'm equally sure that there would have been so much more if Doo and/or Mike had taken everything upon themselves and not trusted others to do a good job. Perhaps some things would not be exactly as they might have done it themselves, but maybe they were better. It all struck me as a really good use of people's talents. And there were plenty of them around.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I've been to two weddings these last two Saturdays. July is a good month to get married as Rob and I can attest (35 years last Sunday!) and even if this is the wettest summer on record, the sun managed to shine on both the young couples. Both brides looked stunningly beautiful, both grooms were perfectly adorable, and both couples had love shining out of their eyes throughout, but what struck me was the contrast between the two weddings as a whole.

The first took place at my own church, Holy Trinity, small and a little down at heel but decorated to within an inch of its life with glorious garden flowers - predominantly hydrangeas (look here to see). The majority of the guests were not church people and the couple were affirming by their marriage a long-standing relationship. The wedding service - a new and disputed SEC rite - was beautifully worded to take this into account and the hymns were modern, with marriage-specific words set to folk tunes - easy to sing but still beautiful.

By contrast, my goddaughter's wedding, in a picturesque country parish church, was heaving with clergy and church people. Indeed her mother (my best friend from schooldays) married them. The ceremony was formal, the hymns traditional and the whole thing took near enough two hours. Once again the church was gloriously decorated (I believe Sainsbury's was entirely denuded of flowers for the purpose) and there were even real rose-petals scattered down the aisles. It was all quite perfect and I enjoyed myself immensely, despite being even later than the bride (we went to the wrong church) and discovering on leaving that we'd left the sun-roof of the car open (it was pouring). All this and getting to spend time with my lovely old friends. Sheer bliss.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Oh dear

I made another. This time it's Paul. I think it's pretty good - what doi you think, PT?

Friday, July 06, 2007

And another one

Here's the one I made for Rob. The nearest thing to his favourite blue fleece is a blue aran, but it's near enough. Why no sailing boats? Well, I suppose his beloved Mac will have to do - not as sexy as Fidelio though.

Everybody's got a Wee Me so I had to make one too. She's a pretty good likeness, although there was no facility to add wrinkles - maybe at that size they don't show!

Today was Croc test-run day. My neighbour, Phyl, and I both bought colourful clogs the other day so today we took the dogs and road-tested our new acquisitions at the beach at Ardentinny. Mine are red and hers are blue but both colours performed perfectly. After stumping along the stony path (nice and squishy so you don't feel the stones), we swished through the long grass of the meadow (wet but who cares), tromped over the sand (not too much sandy intrusion) and finally paddled in the 'sea' (lovely - no sharp shells cutting into the tootsies). Then we swapped one each and came back one red, one blue. Luckily we only met one couple - English tourists, so I expect they thought odd-shoe wearing was a weird local custom. As for the dogs - even Jess consented to get her toes wet since I was paddling and JD lollopped joyously in and out of the water, making sure it wasn't just our fancy new clogs that got wet!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Dogs will do

The dogs are in trouble. They're banned from the woods at the back of the house and my grand-dog, Hamish, is probably banned from the car forever! His sin was to scoff three chicken breasts while Michael and Charlie were in Scummerfields buying the rest of dinner. To do that he had to leap from the boot of the car to the front seat (no mean feat for His Corpulence) and negotiate plastic bags and sealed polythene. No ill effects; he expected breakfast as usual the following morning (he didn't get it).

Jonny and Jess' sin was altogether more gross and perhaps if you're squeamish you should stop reading now. They both disappeared up the back on Thursday night and returned stinking appallingly. I gave Jess - who returned first - an apple to eat to freshen her breath so that I could at least be in the same room as her but Jonny, when he finally appeared, refused it. No wonder - he was obviously at bursting point, as was revealed a few minutes later (fortunately on the front lawn rather than the sitting room carpet).

Rob manfully decided to go and see what they'd been eating while I kept an eye on Jess in case she decided to share her unwise meal too; she didn't - her stomach is cast iron. It turned out to be the carcass of a baby deer - wah! Poor wee thing. I think it explains the disappearance of a terrier a couple of days earlier - its owners spent ages as the top of the garden shouting for it - and the fact that my dogs were wired all week, barking and barking at seemingly nothing.

All I can say is yuck! Remind me why I love dogs . . .

Monday, June 04, 2007

New baby

I came home from my visit to the Peak district to see Number Two Son (who actually lives in Nottingham but the idea of a weekend there was less appealing) with a new laptop. Poor dear faithful Bluebell has finally retired, being too slow and too small to deal with the internet in these days of U-Tube etc. New Laptop is only new to me and although it's not as pretty as Bluebell, it's speedy. I think I might name it Speedy - I don't seem to have assigned it a gender, only a character!

The dogs are going to the furdresser this morning. Stand by for pictures of smart pooches. Poor Jonny is scratching constantly this weather and I'm hoping a short back and sides will alleviate the itches. While they're away I intend to blitz the garden which is burgeoning even more than usual with this warm dampness. Argyll has much in common with rainforest IMO. The only things which don't seem to be burgeoning are my baby courgette plants, lovingly nurtured for weeks indoors, only to provide a tasty snack for the slugs. Since I fed the local woodpigeons on carrot seedlings, I feel I'm doing my bit for wildlife round here. Hmph!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

And they'll know we are Christians . . .

I suspect most church members would be able to finish that hymn line and might even, like me, cringe a little. On Saturday at our Cursillo Provincial meeting in Falkirk, I was reduced to a state of mild hysteria and immoderate giggles by the combination of that hymn, the pianist's (wonderfully executed) accompaniment and an unfortunate typo which exhorted us to 'wok' with each other. I'm sorry - it's a weakness of mine as those who know me will attest - my giggle threshhold is low.

However, I have to admit - reluctantly - that those words make sense when applied to Cursillo. What is it about Cursillo that changes lives? I know lots of folk who say, unequivocably, that Cursillo has changed their life. It's changed mine, dammit, when I was quite happy with it the way it was, thank you. But that's what happens and it happens to a LOT of people who go on a Cursillo 'weekend'.

So, apart from the regrettable giggling episode, what was it about Saturday's gathering that elated me, filled me with joy and then left me with a warm glow and a sense that the Holy Spirit had been fairly whistling around that afternoon? The venue was well appointed, with kitchen and adequate loos but the church itself was one of those depressing balconied affairs with dreadful acoustics and pews with gates (I never manged to get my gate open and had to leap over the back to get in and out) and the poor organist had to clamber into a pit from which, disappointingly, he failed to rise like those wonderfully tumescing theatre organs. We were a motley collection of oddbods, mostly over fifty, mostly a bit 'hand-knitted', some downright eccentric-looking. Frankly, it was the kind of gathering I'd have run a mile from under normal circumstances. But there I was and it was heaven. Heaven because we all had one thing in common - we'd all been on a Cursillo weekend and learned that it was all right to love each other.

We Brits are a pretty repressed lot on the whole. We don't go around showing our emotions and certainly my generation don't go in for excessive hugging and kissing. I remember a dear old lady at my last church when the pax was introduced declaring, "If anyone tries to kiss me I'll bite!" and she spoke for many. But during a Cursillo weekend, people learn to take off that mask of reserve and allow their inner child to come out. We discover, maybe for the first time, that God really loves us and accepts us just as we are and suddenly we begin to love and accept each other. After all, Jesus told us over and over again to do it, but so many of us didn't really listen. Me - I'd been happy to love the lovable, but there were far too many folk whom I considered decidedly not my type and therefore unlovable. Cursillo allowed me to see everyone as potentially lovable, as a friend, like Jesus. It helped me to look for the good in people and not to judge them.

So there we were on Saturday, the Cursillistas. Yes, we were a bunch of assorted oddbods, but we knew God loved all of us and we loved each other. And that, I think, is the essence of Christianity. Or it should be. Unfortunately much of that essence has been lost or stifled by organisations which have introduced rules, created factions, hierarchies and all the baggage the church is now staggering under. Cursillo gives us a taste of what the world could be like.

Oh and . . . 'they'll know we are Christains by our love' btw.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ouch, my brain hurts!

Yesterday we had a lay learning session with Kimberly, who showed admirable patience, as befits her calling, with the motley middle-aged retirees who make up the Lay Worship Group.

We were wrestling with Marcus J Borg's 'The God we Never Knew', part 2, and discussing his theology, christology and a whole lot of other ologies - most of which I'd never heard of. And we were showing our ignorance. Not only that, but our difficulties in grasping such concepts as 'a personal God'. Crikey, it's hard to get the brain cells back in gear - but such fun. I got a huge buzz out of the discussion, even though had I been prone to low self-esteem I might have been plunged into despair by the sluggishness of my intellect.

But dear Kimberly said she enjoyed it too - bless her elegant stockings - and now I can't wait for the next bout.

In other news, the rain is good for the garden! Really it is.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Okay - go to Google maps, choose 'get directions' and try going form New York to Glasgow.

Don't abandon at line 23 (even if you can't stop laughing)


Friday, April 13, 2007


Suddenly the fields are full of baby lambs! Did I mention I love this time of year?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More nature and a shaggy dog story

Saw the first bluebells out this morning on the back road of Blairmore in a very sunny spot. The ones on our hill are still at least a week away from even budding. The sun's at last come back - we've been hearing about all these high temperatures and wall-to-wall sunshine just about everywhere but here - so I must get back to clearing up the winter debris.

My poor little grand-dog, Hamish has had his life ruined by the arrival of a cat. Not just any cat, but a former resident of his house - Lily. She was a very pretty kitten, smoky grey and dainty. It seems all Hamish's midgy-raking fun has been stymied by the installation of two gates on the kitchen doors, and he can't even have the consolation of polishing off Lily's food when she's not looking.

'Tis a dog's life.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Tweet tweet

The chiffchaffs have arrived back in my garden - a real sign that spring has well and truly sprung and that summer's not too far away. I'm always so impressed that these wee birds fly all the way from Africa! The cuckoo flowers are also out, but no cuckoo yet. I think they wait for the willow-warblers to arrive (so they can commandeer their nests) and I haven't heard one yet - they're usually a week or so after the chiffchaffs.

There's so much avian activity going on that the dogs are on constant tenterhooks, being teased by bold jackdaws pulling bits of twig off the trees and squawked at by angry robins and blackbirds when they disturb their foragings. And the bluetits seem to be obsessed with getting into the house. Last year it was a crazy chaffinch hurling itself at the bathroom window and this year we've had one bluetit in the conservatory, several trying to get in and another one at the back bedroom. I'm assuming they see their reflections and think they're potential mates.

I love this time of year :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket J and J are giving me a hard time today due to a chicken carcass in the fridge and a bag of beef jerky - a present from my weekend visitor - in the cupboard. They're usually not too bad as far as mooching goes, but I suppose the combination of smells is enough to try the patience of any self-respecting spaniel.

Thanks to the insistence of my rector, as a condition of being allowed to be part of the Lay Worship Group, I'm very taken up with reading theology at the moment - nothing too dry and academic, but some very accessible (for the novice) books by Marcus J Borg and John Dominic Crossan. I wish I'd read this stuff years ago! It would have saved me a great deal of worry that I was not really a 'proper' Christian because I couldn't take on board so much of the stuff I thought I was supposed to believe. If only I'd known that the image of God I thought I'd come to myself is actually in line with modern theological thought. Is that cool or what? What's more, I'm finding out lots about the historical Jesus, which has always fascinated me, but I've just not been aimed at the right sources before.

Our adventurous friend, Jetta has begun a blog. She's preparing for yet another daring trip, this time to Nepal and she hopes to blog from there. Um - do they have broadband in the Himalayas? Anyway, anything she writes is sure to be worth reading, I promise, and the pictures of her adorable granddaughter, Amy, are gorgeous.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sounds like a good offer

Jonny and Jess have been glued to Crufts this week and are delighted that a hairy wee dog that rejoices in the name of Fabulous Willy is the overall winner of Best in Show. With a name like that, how could the wee fella lose?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hi again folks!

I'm almost embarrassed to write anything here, since I'm sure most people think I've dropped off the planet. I'm going to try to be better at updating, I promise.

Thr trouble with being a retired person is that you end up taking on more than you ever did when you worked full time, but it's all in bits and pieces here and there. People think my life is idyllic and peaceful, which it is, mostly, but in order to maintain that idyll, I have to keep on top of everything, which hasn't exactly been happening lately.

BUT nine months after her house fire, yesterday my M-I-L finally moved into her new little cottage. I've spent the last few weeks chasing workmen, hanging curtains and trying to fathom out what M-I-L *really* wants - example conversation while making up her new bed:

Me (admiring lovely new duvet cover and sheets): Doesn't it look pretty? All you need now is a nice valance round the bottom to cover the base.

M-I-L: Oh I'm not going to bother with one of those. It's fine the way it is.

Me:Are you sure? It would finish it off.

M-I-LYes, quite sure - they're too much bother. It's a pity I didn't get a mattress cover though. I think I should.

Me: I'll get you one in town later and we can put it on before you go to bed.

Later, when I return from town with a mattress cover.

That's not what I wanted.

Me: Yes it is, you asked for a mattress cover.

M-I-LNo I didn't. I wanted one of those valance trims to cover the base. A nice white one to match the duvet.


One of my friends has a personality test on her blog and since I've been spending time re-learning about the Myers-Briggs tests and enneagrams etc in the course of my study, I gave it a try. Despite a very few questions, it actually got my type right and apparently it's rare too (although not as rare as yours, N. I think all the types can be classed as rare since there are sixteen to choose from!
This is me:
Your Personality is Very Rare (INFP)

Your personality type is dreamy, romantic, elegant, and expressive.

Only about 5% of all people have your personality, including 6% of all women and 4% of all men
You are Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Tuesday mornings are my usual time for chatting on IM with my friend from Missouri. We've known each other for about five years now and become real pals over the ether, sharing the good times and bad, variously cheering, encouraging and commiserating with one another. Today I'm worried for my friend after reports of appalling weather in Missouri here. She works fifteen miles away from her home, which is pretty isolated. Even if she did make it home, the power cuts would make things more than difficult. Her house is as old as mine - more than 150 years - and seems to be hanging on by a thread to life. If, as I'm hoping, she's decided to stay in town with one of her nieces, then I know she'll be worrying about her animals at home. These things always make me feel so helpless, especially when I know someone who might be suffering. Hang in there, Loretta!

On a happier note, I've been hearing people talking about a new American import on Channel 4, Ugly Betty. It was even recommended by our rector on this blog, so I decided I had to see for myself. By the wonder of the wwweb I was able to watch the first episode (albeit subtitled in French, which actually made picking up the US dialogue slightly easier!) and then through the similar wonders of Freeview I was also able to see episode 2, this time with breaks for adverts but no subtitles, alas.

Was I impressed? Hmm. It's a comedy, right, so the characters have to be exaggerated, predictable and a bit stereotypical. As with most situation comedies, the viewer needs to be one step ahead - to see the disasters that await the character before they happen and then laugh smugly when the character reacts in the prescribed way. That's how situation comedy works. The viewer feels superior to the hapless buffoon. It's a good formula and I admit it's present in my favourite comedies - the Vicar of Dibley, My Family etc. Ugly Betty is no different, which is a pity - it would have been nice to see something a little out of the ordinary.

So is Ugly Betty going to turn into Beautiful Betty during the course of the show? I must say I don't like the title - it makes me uncomfortable. Poor Betty isn't really ugly at all - she's a pretty actress with added glasses, braces (on seemingly perfect teeth) and outmoded clothes. Everyone else in the show is beautiful, with the exception of Betty's boyfriend - a girl with the disadvantages of glasses and braces etc has to be content with a chinless loser, naturally. Of course she has brains, which fits nicely with the stereotype. I'm going to watch some more to see if, by any stroke of good fortune, the writers bother to develop the characters. If Betty is as bright as she's made out to be, she'll get her Scottish pal to give her a makeover, ditch the braces - her teeth are fixed! - and invest in some contact lenses or more becoming specs. But will she then shed her integrity along with her Seventies clothes? I doubt if either will happen.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Living together

Sitting here surrounded by snoring dogs - my own two and my granddog, Hamish, who is staying over - I can't help thinking how much easier it is to get along with dogs than people. Dogs are simple creatures with simple, basic needs that can be easily - if not always conveniently, given the current weather - satisfied. Then they settle down at your feet and adore you. Deal.

My younger son and the contents of his house have come to stay for an indefinite period and we're both finding it hard to readjust to living together. It's been a while. Last time he was here for any length of time he was getting over the break-up of his marriage and needed cherishing. No problem - that's what mothers do. But now I'm having trouble shaking off the parent/child relationship and acknowledging him as an adult/equal. Rob suggests I think of him as a guest and treat him accordingly, but I've never entertained a guest who stays in bed all day and prowls around at night and who eats at such strange times. I worry that I have no control over him, and yet why should I?

Who is this young man who is at once so familiar and yet is a stranger? I have no parental model to fall back on. My relationship with my mother remained much the same until she died a few years ago. We were never apart for long so if any changes came about they were subtle. We didn't have to make any sudden adjustments. Our relationship remained in the parent/child dynamic. With my father, it reversed after my mother died and I became the 'parent'. That happened gradually, I suppose, although neither of us was aware of the change as it happened - it just did. Obviously neither I nor Paul are ready for that role reversal, and so we must work on viewing each other as equals.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Five things you didn't know about me

Hmm - thanks Mrs Blethers! I suppose you've shamed me into blogging again. So if anyone's out there, here are five things you probably don't know about me:

1. I repeated a year of primary school. This was, I believe, because I was considered too young and immature to go to secondary school at the age of ten. Somehow, between moving from Bristol to Leeds at age five I lost a year. I repeated primary five with a terrifying teacher called Miss Wilson, who suddenly became my friend second time round and ceased from writing scathing comments on my miserable, blot-ridden efforts at writing and even allowed me to play Puck in the end of term production of Midsummer Night's Dream (edited highlights) by dint of my being able to turn a cartwheel.

2. I have won three prizes in my life. One was a runner's-up cup in the school sports. One was a 'Bedside Guardian' for a Christmas story in that paper; the story was 'The Gospel According to St Mousethew' and was an account of the Nativity from the POV of a mouse. The last was a big red and cream vacuum flask from Maxwell House Coffee, and I had no recollection of entering the competition when it arrived. Hmm - nothing really changes . . .

3. I have three kidneys. This was discovered during hospital investigations for recurring infections. Apparently there is neither advantage nor disadvantage in having an extra one, which is rather disappointing. I wonder if I have any other spare parts.

4. I was in Czechoslovakia in 1968 immediately preceeding the Prague Spring. The Russians invaded while I was there with my brother. We brought a Czech boy back to Glasgow with us - he was my brother's pen-friend - and he stayed with us for eight months, during which time his father defected to Switzerland.

5. I was once mother to a woodpigeon called George. My grandad brought him home from the woods for me when he was a squab and had fallen out of the nest. He wasn't fledged and had a voracious appetite for porridge, which I fed him by forcing it down his throat with a pencil. Despite this apparently cruel treatment he thrived and grew into a fine woodpigeon. Trouble was, he didn't know he was a pigeon and meant to fly. He followed me about all over the place, waddling like a duck. Eventually I persuaded him to fly by pushing him off a wall a few times. After that, he remained with us until the spring when he disappeared - presumably to find a wife and have an egg. Actually, I have no idea if he was George or Georgina.

There. You really wanted to know all that, didn't you?