Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A sign of getting older

I have come to the conclusion I am getting older because the funerals I attend are beginning to outnumber the weddings I am invited too. Today I was at the thanksgiving service of a lovely lady called Lena.

(Yes I know I normally don’t name people but I’ve set the precedent before of naming the departed and somehow it seems fitting. Read Hanging by a Thread)

Lena was 93 and would have been 94 next week.  We were born 50 years apart (minus 2 days).  I always joked with her that we could share our 50th and 100th birthday parties.

Alas that is never to be, but I shall remember to toast her when I reach that milestone.

It’s amazing to think that if I live to the same ripe old age I am not yet half way through my life. I would love to think I will get to that age with all my faculties intact but more than that I hope I reach out to people in the same way Lena did.

She loved a good story, her tales were an inspiration.

I remember one day not long after Andrew had died we had a meeting at my house. We sat round the kitchen table and she started on a story…

She had been a teacher and for some of her career had worked in a rough neighbourhood where the girls she taught needed as much love and attention as they did schooling in reading and writing. She often enthralled us with stories from these hard times. But on this particular occasion her tale was about one of the teachers.

This teacher was a young woman with a child and one day her husband died unexpectedly. Lena had taken the girl under her wing in much the same way she did with her students. I can’t recall all of the story but eventually she had remarried, rebuilt her life and she still saw Lena weekly to take her shopping.

I was filling up at this and reached for the box of tissues.

Lena looked me in the eye and said, “I’m telling this story for you my dear.” I suppose it was her way of saying my life wasn’t over, that other people had shared my pain and that she knew what I was going through.

I’m starting to cry as I type. I wish I’d had more time to get to know her, to hear more of her stories and to drink in her wealth of knowledge.

At least I had the privilege to know this remarkable woman of God, even for a short time and for that I am forever thankful!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Frogs for Breakfast

“You must remember to eat your frogs first.” Declared my friend one day.

Now I’ve heard of “kissing frogs” and them turning into a handsome princes. Was my friend offering some kind of dating advice?

“No it means you have to do the jobs you hate first and get them out of the way.”

“Like my filing?”


AH yes number 4 on my new year’s resolutions list. Sort out my paperwork and filing.

Everyone laughed at the idea; it was the least likely item on the list to be achieved. And so it has proved to be but now we are near the end of the month I decided the time had come to “eat my frogs”.

There was a box of paperwork I had hidden tidied away around Christmas time that I was determined to tackle today. 

I pulled it out from under the desk and set it down in the middle of the dining room table – perhaps a cup of tea was in order first?

OK so I did make some excuses along the way but I had given up my Monday morning walk to get this done and I was unwilling to admit defeat and have my friends laugh at me next week. Mind you with the snow swirling today I was so glad of being in the warm for a change.

It took some time, I got distracted once or twice but I did reach the bottom of the box. I filled half a bin bag with rubbish and accumulated a mound of paper to be recycled.

Important papers were distributed into separate piles all around the box ready to be filed, bank statement together, phone bills separated from gas and electric bills and a stack of indiscriminate papers I want to keep that still need final sorting, maybe later.

The oldest bill I discovered was dated September 2011 and I confess in shame there were some envelopes I’d not even opened!

Once I could see the bottom of the box I removed it which at least left one clear spot on the now cluttered table.

Progress? Well a small step forward but I guess I’ll be eating frogs for breakfast for the rest of the week!

Here are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Frog! Did find a picture of a man eating a frog but it was too disgusting to add to my blog!!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

A good old Sunday tradition

Yesterday I wrote about how the weekends always seem to me to be a sacred family time not to be disturbed by outsiders. Maybe that comes from Sunday afternoons when I was a child. We would either visit relatives or go for a Sunday afternoon walk.

My dad worked hard as a butcher through the week, always up early and exhausted when he got home, so his day off was a special time for all four of us together. Sometimes my grandma would come with us too even though she was already in her 70s (she really was a marvellous woman).  The walks stopped as my brother and I got older and followed other pursuits.

When Andrew and I were “courting” and first married, the Sunday afternoon walk was also a regular occurrence following our Sunday lunch. We would take Andrew’s mum’s dog Spot with us.

The dog died, the boys came along, things change as they always do.

Yesterday I suggested going for a walk along the beach to youngest son.

He didn’t want to go but my friend said she would go for a walk with me.

Eventually we came up with a plan to go to her house after church for bacon butties and drag the kids out kicking and screaming regardless. Of course when they are with their friends the idea of walking is far more appealing and there were no tears or tantrums whatsoever.

After a lovely lunch of crispy bacon and melted brie on fresh bread (delicious!) we set off down the beach.

We had a wonderful stroll and after stopping for hot chocolate and brownies and ice creams etc. we walked back past the park and through the woods.

The park is one of those big chunky adventure type places where all the equipment is made of solid wood. Not like the swings and slides of our day, anyone remember those tall slides with the cage on top? Or the Jungle Gym, as we used to call them, that looked like a big square hunk of scaffolding?

The very last Sunday afternoon Andrew was alive we were all bored at home and he decided we should go for a walk. The boys weren’t too impressed with the plan but I desperately wanted to spend the time together as a family and not all disappear to different corners of the house.

We walked to the same park which was still relatively new and it was the first time we’d been to explore. I remember Andrew and I bouncing on the seesaw and me squealing with laughter (how old am I?). He helped youngest son ride on the zip wire and probably challenged oldest son to climb on the highest piece of equipment.

It was a good afternoon, one I will always remember for its laughter and fun, and one I recalled with fondness today as I could see Andrew smiling.

The Sunday afternoon “family” walk really is a good old tradition and I’m so glad we have extended church family to share it with.

And thanks for the bacon butties too – same time next week???

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Trouble with Saturdays

“I’m bored.”

“What would you like to do?” 
“I don’t know.”

This is a very typical Saturday morning conversation and one we had again this morning. How are our children so fed up with the world when they have so much?

The fact that there is homework to be done, Lego all over the floor to be tidied and a piano to practice in preparation for his grade one exam is all immaterial and uninspiring.

We kind of struck a deal, the kind of bargaining you always vow you won’t do as you slide so easily into its sticky trap. At least I do, I put it down to being a solo parent but that’s an excuse and I really am a pushover.

“Write me a list of three things you would like to do and I’ll write my list.”

Hoping this would generate a plan for the day I handed over a sheet of note paper. Then I set about writing my own list.

  1. Have a day off from being mum
  2. Go for a walk on the beach followed by hot chocolate and a chocolate brownie at a café
  3. Spend the day knitting and sewing
It was obvious that number one and number three were completely unattainable but would a twelve year old boy go for the chocolaty option of number 2 on this bright sunny day?

His list was shorter as he could only think of two things he wanted.

  1. Have a friend round
  2. Go to a friend’s
Spending the day with his mum didn’t even make his top 3. I had suspected a game of something to be added to the list and I wouldn’t have minded if some homework, tidying up and piano was done first.

The trouble with Saturdays (Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays too for that matter) is they always seem to me to be family days and I don’t like to disturb other people having a nice time together on their day off.

I don’t know where this idea has come from. Why I believe other families are having a jolly day out together while my boys sit at home - bored!

“Wouldn’t you like a walk and a hot chocolate?”


So he now has a friend round to play.

“I was glad you rang,” said his dad, “he was just complaining he was BORED.”

So maybe by a strange twist of fate I get to do number 3 on my list after all…

 ...and everybody's happy!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Eeyore vs Pooh - round 2

I woke this morning with an Eeyore head on – not literally obviously – but I was in a definitely grumpy mood.

The boys left for school and I was still in my pyjamas feeling very sorry for myself.

You remember last week I bravely went and had that lump removed? (read OUCH!!!!) Well yesterday I was supposed to have the stitches out.

“I think we’ll leave them until Monday.” Said the nurse on examination, “The outside ones look OK but if I take them out now the inside one looks like it might pop.”

Too much information, the thought is just too graphic and makes me shudder.

“So I still can’t have a shower or a bath?”

“No, sorry.”

She didn't seem unduly worried about the state of things but it's no wonder I woke in a bad mood. I feel smelly and yucky, especially as I have done a couple of exercise classes this week as part of the “new-year -new-me” plan.  Maybe I had stretched too much and the scar hasn’t had chance to heal? 

(Not to self – have a restful day!)

“Just have a shower.” Advocated my rebellious best friend. 
She had a C section and was positively encouraged to bathe particularly with an expensive brand of bubble bath that contains healing ingredients. I bought a bottle of this green fresh fragranced miracle lotion yesterday in preparation.

So why is my nurse so adamant I can’t get my stitches wet? Risk of infection. Is there NO risk to a C section scar? I don’t understand and if anyone from the medical profession can enlighten me please do.

My mood turned blacker when I listened to the radio.

Severe Siberian winter weather is heading our way for the next 4 weeks.  Typical, it’s my birthday in a fortnight and my parents have promised to visit “if we don’t get snow”.

Here’s a very apt  Eeyore quote for the day

Expect the Worst
Even if someone remembers to come to your birthday party,
they will almost certainly eat your present on the way or break it!

I could have curled up under the duvet for the day quite happily sulking.

But I want to be more positive and cheerful (read eliminate the negative) so this is what I did…

My mother-in-law who has all manner of medical supplies for her own ailments gave me some adhesive dressings I could cover my wound with. I’d not actually used them but on closer inspection they proclaimed to be “water repellent” – aha!

If I just stuck one on I could probably get away with a quick shower and hair wash without getting too soggy.

It wasn’t the best shower ever but for the first time in a week I feel CLEAN and on top of the world.

Best of all it worked perfectly, the stitches stayed completely dry and I have enough dressings to see my through until Monday.

So Eeyore you can take a hike with your doom and gloom here's what Winnie the Pooh has to say for the day.

If the string breaks try another piece of string


You never know when a piece of string might be Useful

Think that’s another round to Pooh!

Have a Happy Friday!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

A dream of writing…

I don’t tend to write much about oldest son. He lives in his own self-contained little world of tennis, football and F1. He gives me little grief, generally gets on with his homework and our lives only really cross at mealtimes or occasionally when we sit and watch some good telly together.

At the same age, 15, my favourite TV programme was Fame.  Thursday night directly after Top of the Pops. I also lived in my own little world; mine consisted of legwarmers and leotards, dancesteps and stardom! 

My dreams and aspirations were varied, I wanted to be a singer or a dancer or an actress, depending on day of the week, but ultimately I wanted to be FAMOUS, name in lights and live forever. 

My talents in those areas are mixed and I’m hoping I’ve finally found my niche in the Arts as I concentrate on my writing.

My son has a similar a dream of writing. This was totally unexpected from the child who doesn’t read much and has never excelled in literacy and imagination. English was just another boring but necessary subject.

However he is not interested in fiction or poetry, his own writing takes the form of sports reports.  His dream is to have a career as a sports’ journalist travelling the world watching all his favourite sports.

For him it’s not about FAME but it is a passion to write about what he enjoys.

In temperament and ambition he reminds me of Bruno in Fame, dark curly hair and beautiful blue eyes…

… sorry you lost me there for a minute as I looked up a picture to add … 

For Bruno fame wasn’t important he just wanted his music to be heard, to be taken seriously as a composer.  Lee Curreri who played Bruno didn’t just look the part and pretend to play the piano he actually wrote some of the songs used in the TV series -talented and good looking!

Oldest son, plays a bit of football, plays tennis to a reasonable standard, even playing for our local men’s team and he has driven an F1 car (on the playstation) as well as doing a bit of karting. For 15 he has a good knowledge of the sports he likes and sees no reason why the BBC isn’t already hammering on the door to sign him up.

He has started his own blog(you can read it here) and is desperate to get noticed. We had quite a chat about it last night when it was really long past bed time (mine not his). He wants to write the perfect sports report NOW.

Like everything else nothing comes easy and it takes time, practice and patience.

“You want fame, well fame costs 
and right here is where you start paying 
in sweat.”

I can hear Lydia Grant even now as she tapped her dancing cane forcefully on the floor for full effect. 

It doesn’t have to be fame you are after, you can easily substitute the word “dreams”.

There’s another eighties film I love and frequently quote - Flashdance.

“If you give up your dreams you die.”

Dreams don’t always come true but that doesn’t mean they should be neglected. Someone’s dream is part of their identity, their DNA.  Real life often comes along and squashes them and sometimes the hurdles will look insurmountable but never give them up because I know from bitter experience a part of you really does fade away when you do.

So my message to you today, oldest son, is keep trying, keep writing, it may take a long time, just look at your mum, still here and still trying to make it after oh so many years.

And remember this - no one believes in you more than me, even when I criticise your sentence structure.

Love mum xx