Thursday, 19 October 2017

Garden Shuffle

Tuesday's highlight was re-enacting the first part of the story of Jonah, complete with much rocking and swaying, as we acted out the storm with Key Stage 2 at the after school club.  Wednesday morning's excitement was King Saul 'resting' in the cave, while David chops of the corner of his robe. One of our team members did a most excellent job of attaching the corner of a 'cloak', which David had to remove by pulling a thread attached to tacking stitches.  David looked pretty impressed, as the stitches unraveled, leaving him holding the corner of the cloak, but this Disney Generation didn't bat an eyelid.  An arc of glittery stars with accompanying sound effects may have got their attention. A piece of orange cloth just didn't cut the mustard.

Wednesday afternoon was more down to earth - garden earth to be precise. After the dizzy temperatures at the beginning of the week, the mercury has dropped to a more autumnal 10 degrees centigrade, with a seasoning of gentle drizzle. The window of plant moving opportunities is reducing, as the ground will be getting steadily colder.

A couple of years down the line we can see some planting has not quite worked out as we anticipated. The rhododendron, which was looking rather miserable in a large planter, has already been liberated.  Today was Plant Shuffle day 2.

Step one - a grass which doesn't like the dryness under the trees, was dug up and planted where the lavenders were...

Meanwhile, the lavenders are still in their tub, but currently residing on the path while we try and decide what to do with them.

Step 2
The pheasant berry was dug up, as it was far too dominant for the narrow side border and completely overshadowed one of the white japanese anemones - no bad thing some may say ;)

We did doubt if we would manage to successfully extract the pheasant berry, as it was difficult to get sufficient leverage, without the threat of destroying either the path, or the fence, or both...

Step 3
The pheasant berry was replanted at the bottom of the garden, close to where the grass was, but a bit further back... It does look better in a bigger border. The obelisk was rather disturbed by all this digging and is currently undergoing therapy....

Step 4
Meanwhile, the pink japanese anenome adjacent to the garage door, had grown far too big and stopped us using the stepping stones across the flower bed. This has been given a free transfer to where the pheasant berry was....  It has been joined by a couple of young verbenas.  They are young and full of enthusiasm, thinking they can make a difference - they will soon learn....

The bed by the garage looks a lot better now, and you can actually see the planters and contents. Before they were just hidden behind a screen of japanese anemones!

At least two sections of japanese anemone remain and we haven't decided exactly what to do with them, yet! Will they go, or will they stay?

One nice discovery was that the cyclamen planted in the bottom border have naturalised.  White ones have been planted there over the last two years. We will wait to see what colours will appear!

The successful germination of a packet of seeds earlier in the year means that there are sixty odd white foxgloves to plant along with some dwarf lavenders. The bulbs dislodged by the upheaval to the centre bed, also await our ministrations, along with a few more verbenas and the odd grass. In garden tasks always seem to take longer than we anticipate. A good looking garden doesn't happen by magic, it is the result of squelching around on soggy days, and the liberal use of compost.

Meanwhile, the squirrel watched on from his vantage point in the oak trees, eagerly awaiting our retreat so he can get on with the important business of foraging.

Gosh, we must have reached the sixth day by now. A pity they weren't consecutive... ;)

Monday, 16 October 2017

Floral Transformation

Saturday's highlight was definitely a couple of shipmates rolling in on the tide, fresh from nautical adventures exploring the glories of the canals around Brum.  We had not seen M since her wedding 18 months ago, and it was our first real chance to chat to her other half, as we had only met him previously at the wedding!  This may seem strange, until you consider that M is a virtual friend, and our interaction has been mainly online, but with regular meetings over the years. One of the advantage of virtual friendships is that you waste less time on the superficial stuff.  You often know more about the joys and sorrows of online buddies, as things that can be impossible to verbalise, can be shared with just the pressing of a few keys.

Times change.  The golden era of internet chatrooms came and went. The opportunity for constructing a network of friendships within common interest groups, often from different parts of the country or globe, has largely gone.  Ironically to be replaced by superficial friendships from within our existing social networks.  Opportunities for new friendships flounder, as we play safe and interact with those we know and those we don't really know and probably never really will.  Evenings when I sat at my keyboard laughing until the tears ran down my face, or as I watched as someone haltingly typed out their fears and anguish and offered prayers, have been replaced by watching catch up TV and often futile attempts to reach my target score on Words With Friends.

The online world was my life raft at a time in my life when I was quite isolated. Now my time is spent in different ways, and much more of it is spent in face to face interaction.  The online world helped me to be where I am now.  When I went for selection for Reader training, I had to give a five-minute talk, and I referred to the online Christian community where I had learnt so much. My opening sentence made them all sit up.
"You may think I am a Rose, but actually I am a Daffodil..."
Now that is what I call Flower Power ;)

Here endeth the fifth day.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Deadlines and Distractions

I had some time this afternoon to get some work done.
"Are you to work upstairs?" asked my husband with surprise, as I picked up my computer and headed towards the door.
"I think it might be wise..." I replied and head off upstairs to work.

I looked out of the window of the spare room, noticed the sunshine and the breeze, and remembered that I had decided to wash the bedclothes today.
I stripped the bed, loaded the machine.
"Do you think we should switch from the 4 tog duvet? It is a good time to change the duvet as I am doing the bedding"
It is agreed that we will graduate from the summer duvet.
I go into the spare room and settle down to work.

A minute later my husband appears.
"Where are the clean sheets?"
How can I resist the offer of someone else making the bed?
I find the bedding and settle down to work.

Rats, the mouse is downstairs.
I go downstairs to get the mouse.
I remember the notes I wrote in my notebook.
Feeling pleased I take the notebook from my bag and go back upstairs,
picking up the pillowcase that has fallen off the banisters.
I sit down and settle down to work.
The mouse is still downstairs.

I get the mouse.
I can not even have chocolate, as lunch was late and tea will be early.
It is one of those days....

My husband appears
"Do you remember how much I need to pay? You wrote it down."
"I have no idea where?
He looks at my notes.
"You wrote it there...."
He spots the required figure and departs.
I open the file and settle down to work.

A notification comes up, that the power is low and the computer is about to go to sleep...
I go downstairs and get the power lead,
and settle down to work.

A voice floats up the stairs, "Do you want a coffee?"
"Yes please"
"Where is your cup?
"Well bring it down then!"
I take my cup downstairs.
The washing has finished its 90 minute cycle.
I hang the washing outside.
The garden looks beautiful in the sunshine... I drink my coffee in the garden.

I go back upstairs and settle down to work.

How does anything ever get done?
It is a mystery!

Here endeth the fourth day.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Wake up call

Every Wednesday during term time my slumbers are rudely disturbed as it is Open the Book day, which entails an early start.  I cannot leave my waking to chance, so it is the one day I use an alarm.  At 7:00am it is activated. To be precise two alarms spring into action, as my husband also sets his.  For years my husband has been an early riser.  However, as I am not a lark by any stretch of the imagination, I have perfected my ability to sleep through his automated wake-up call.  When my own phone is suddenly playing a strange tune right next to my ear, I am unable to sleep through that.  My first thought is usually 
"What on earth is that strange noise? I hope someone turns it off before it wakes me up!"
Oddly no-one does turn it off, so I start to wake up thinking 
"What IS that awful sound!"  
Initially, my brain does not even register it as an alarm, I just think that it is some weird noise.
Eventually, I am awake up enough to grasp that it is actually an alarm. My alarm! And off we go into the wonderful world bringing the Old Testament to life to First School children, and today's realisation that I cannot simultaneously hold a script and fire a bow and arrow!  In desperation, I chucked it where I wanted it to go.... 

This evening was our first evening session of the Mission Shaped Ministry Course in Cradley, a call to the church to wake up to Fresh Expressions of church. 

Pink heart-shaped balloons festooned the venue which we assumed that they had been left over from some party earlier in the day.

We were looking at God’s mission, considering how important it is and where we fit in.  The group comes from a variety of church backgrounds, which brings a range of views to the discussions, allowing us to hear ideas we might not have considered.  

The programme this evening included a very moving clip about the work at Zac's Place in Swansea. Afterwards, we were asked what understanding of God shaped this particular Fresh Expression.


At the end of the evening, we were each given one of the beautiful balloons to take away.  

Later I spotted some people going into a pub with a bunch of five identical looking balloons.  Was this coincidence, or had love been in action before the participants even reached the end of the High Street?

Love - keep it or give it away?  

Here endeth the third day.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Minuting the Minutiae

The KHT is off college, with a croaky voice and weariness. Yesterday was her work experience day, which she loves, but afterwards she was so worn out that she collapsed in a heap on the settee and let TV programmes wash over her.

After some decidedly chilly September weather, October feels warmer. As I walked home golden leaves rained down from on high. Around the estates, council workers were tittivating the town  - strimming banks, trimming hedges and removing graffiti. The cynic in me wonders if some royal has decided to pay a visit, or more likely they haven't over spent the landscape budget yet, and are using up the surplus in a hurry, before it disappears into a pothole, or two.

Just before the end of lessons we popped over to a nearby school to hand our letters inviting the students to an after-school club which begins next week.  We got a lovely reception, as many of the children easily recognised us, and were eager to sign up.

After a quick cup of coffee, Operation Border Replanting swung into action.  The positioning of a shrub was a key decision. Technically it is too big for the bed, but it looks so lovely as it catches the sun and has all year interest. We chucked the rule book on garden design on the compost heap and decided it was a worth the compromise.  

The grasses have been divided, the leggy pansies and past-their-best-lobelia are already contributing to next years compost.

The pond was constructed soon after we moved into the house, and came with a whole load of plants.  These included specimens like Carex Buchananii, which we would probably never have considered. One website describes this plant as looking "strangely like hair." In fact it is so strange that we thought it was dead and nearly threw it away.  It only survived because we saw some elsewhere, and realised that it was actually supposed to look like dead hair. We have grown rather fond of our hair-like grass, and named it after a certain American politician.  
Well, dear old  Carex Buchananii nearly came to a sticky end again, because we overlooked it in the replanting.  I had put all the tools away and was tidying up when I noticed it still lying on the flower bed, rather than snugly in it!

This evening we went bellringing in the nearby village that has a name no-one thought twice about before Father Ted...

Most of today was not very significant, but together these small unimportant moments join together to construct my day.  Without words, everything would still have happened just as it did. The leaves would still float on the autumn breeze. The sun would still shine through the leaves on the trees. Nasturtiums will still be bragging with their bright blooms. The squirrel would still be swearing at whatever was currently causing offence, from a vantage point high in the boughs of an oak tree. However, no-one else would know. They may experience similar, but they would be unaware of what small events form a typical day in the life of a Daffodil.  

Weeks, even months can pass without me writing a blog.  The longer the gap, the harder it is to write, as I set a standard that requires sentences of grammatical perfection, and fail... Then there is the detail to consider.  Are the events of the day worthy of being recorded?  If the insignificant is not shared, then the slightly more important may suffer the same fate.  Before we know it, regular occurrences are ignored. Soon to be followed by a casual disregard for the unusual.  Then we find ourselves oblivious to the spectacular.  

Do not let yourself be drawn into this blindness.  Watch the leaves make their unique journey, from the leafy heavens to the ground below. Glory in the colours of October, the vibrant and the muted. Breathe in the musty fermenting odours of fragrant decomposition.  Treasure the day. Minute the minutiae.

Here endeth the second day.

Monday, 9 October 2017

The joys of ambling…

Monday is my day off.   Monday is also a day of innocence, when I have not got round to looking at the calendar and acknowledged what deadlines are approaching.  After all, why sacrifice the moment, when it can be savoured.

Today had been potentially earmarked as a ‘garden day’.  Work needs doing before the ground gets too cold, but sufficient had been achieved over the weekend.  We determined that the soil improver, purchased at £2 a bag from the Household Waste and Recycling Centre to help lighten the clay, needed a day to settle. With the sense of urgency reduced we departed on a fact-finding mission to the glories of the gardens at Hidcote.

While the trees are still quite green, Hidcote was looking decidedly autumnal. Some borders had already been quite heavily pruned. The irises, for instance, had been cut down to just an inch or so.  

Because of the cloud cover, the plants were still embellished with early morning droplets of dew and rain, looking very attractive despite the lack of sunshine.

We admired some low-level plants with pretty leaves. 


Hidcote is somewhat lacking in plant labels, so a nearby gardener was asked if he could offer an identification.  He confessed that he was just a volunteer, but he was certain that 'the guy in the hat' a few yards further on would have the answer.  Words of wisdom were sought from 'the guy in the hat'.  He came to examine the plant.  
He paused.  
"I know it begins with A...."
He pondered. 
All the other volunteers stopped work and looked expectantly at their chief, waiting with anticipation.  Would he pass this test of plant identification?  
From deep within his floral memory bank he retrieved an answer. 
"Achilliea" he pronounced triumphantly.  
The volunteers smiled happily and continued their tasks, satisfied that their boss had passed the test.  

The sun shone even brighter.

We treated ourselves to some soup in the cafe.
"It is cabbage soup", said the assistant apologetically. It contained cheese, so what was not to like! The accompanying bread was good too!

October is one of the 2 major birthday months in our family, so having enjoyed the glories of Hidcote, we headed off to find a garden centre, as they usually stock a good range of birthday cards. The National Trust do sell cards, but they weren’t quite what was required.  We discovered a new-to-us garden centre just outside Stratford.  I mananged to solve several birthday dilemas, but I cannot tell you what my purchases were, for these things must be revealed first to the recipient - one of the major rule’s of birthdays!

So an 'amble'y day, was also a successful day.  

After dinner I remembered Sunday, so out came the Concordances, as I started to look at the reception Jesus got at the beginning of his ministry.

Here endeth the first day, of the week.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

How Well Do you know Jo?

For the benefit of those who cannot resist taking meaningless quizzes on Facebook, here is yet another one - go on you know you want to!
The passage is Genesis 41:1-46. It was written for one of our morning services, as we are doing a series on Joseph, but it never got used. It is too good to waste, so I will let you enjoy the challenge. Let me know how well you do!

1. After he was released from prison how long was it before the cupbearer remembered Joseph?
a)  Two days.
b)  Two hours
c)  Two months
d)  Two years

2.  In his first dream where was Pharaoh standing?
a)  In the queue at Tesco.
b)  In a cornfield.
c)  Outside his palace, 
d)  beside the Nile

3.  What animals appeared to him first in his first dream
a)  Six dancing Pink elephants,  
b)  Seven well-fed cows.
c)  A flock of sheep 
d)  Seven thin cows

4. What happened to these first animals?
a)  They went to a disco.
b)  They got eaten by thin cows.
c)  They turned into pyramids.
d)  They went swimming in the river.

5. The king had a dream about ears of corn, what happened to the thin ears of corn
a)  They listened very carefully to Pharaoh.
b)  They ate the fat ears of corn.
c)  They got turned into breakfast cereal.
d)  They ate all the cows

6. The cupbearer had a confession to make...
a)  He had drunk all the wine.
b)  He had spilt the wine.
c)  He had forgotten about Joseph.
d)  He had forgotten to order the wine.

7. Before Joseph appeared before the king, 
a)  He shaved and changed his clothes.
b)  He drank some wine to celebrate.
c)  He read up on dream interpretation.
d)  He updated his Facebook status

8. What did Joseph tell the pharaoh that the dreams meant?
a)  There would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.
b)  He needed to buy another seven cows 
c)  Seven was Pharoah's lucky number
d)  Pharaoh was going to reign for seven more years

9. What did the King appoint Joseph to do?
a)  Ride around in his chariot.
b)  Write songs with Graham Kendrick.
c)  Run a centralised food supply management system for the next fourteen years.
d)  To be a prince

10. What personal possession did the king give to Joseph as a symbol of his authority to act on behalf of the King?
a)  A toy cow.
b)  A field of wheat
c)  A ring 
d)  His shoes

Answers below....

1 d, 2 d, 3 b, 4 b, 5 b, 6 c, 7 a, 8 a, 9 c, 10 c. Award yourself one point for each correct answer.

11 points
I think you were a bit creative with your scoring.

10 points
I bet you know the words of EVERY song from 'Joseph and his Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat'..."Close every door to me...."

9 points
Great attempt, have an extra point for honest scoring.

8 points
I hope you weren't there on Sunday if you didn't get them all right!

7 points
Did you think seven was the answer to everything?

6 points
Keep taking those quizzes, you may get the hang of them yet!

5 points
Thanks for dropping by.

4 points
Maybe you are not too good at addition....

3 points
Doctrinally sound if nothing else...

2 points
You were not really trying, were you?

1 point
Do not take up baking. It will all end in tears.

0 points
Try a quiz on Ecclesiastes, because it is all pointless.....
...and not for the right reasons.

Minus figures
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