Monday, 31 August 2015

Restoration

On a grey and very wet Bank Holiday Monday,
we continued our quest
to turn our rather empty and neglected front room
into a lounge.
Due to dust allergies we took the opportunity when we moved
to dispose of some of our furniture,
rather than just shift it to the new house.
Our suite was 25 years old and looking rather tired!
Replacing it was not an extravagant whim,
just a painful cost we had avoided for as long as possible.
Old furniture is comfy.
Why replace if you do not need to?

Last week we were able to purchase a new settee,
which was half price in a sale as a deleted item,
rather than vastly reduced in a furniture store,
on a special,
never to be repeated,
Bank holiday special,
ending at midnight,
promotion....

Today we were looking for a suitable item of furniture to put our TV on...
Yes, we watch so much telly that we can't remember the last time we actually switched it on!
It would be easy to dispense with the TV altogether,
but it is good to watch together, on the rare occasions that we do!
Besides the KHT does like all the shouting on Jeremy Kyle...

Having finally made our selection after many hours of deliberating in many stores,
we had 45 minutes before our time was up in the car park,
so we wandered across the shopping heart of Solihull and back again,
just window shopping in the rain,
as you do on a wet Banky Monday...
It was as we were returning back across the heart of Solihull's retail centre
that I spotted it in a charity shop window.
"That's my scarf!"

Last October I lost my favourite scarf somewhere between the ringing chamber at Beaumaris Parish Church
and the car park by the water.
Here in a charity shop window I discovered a brand new version of the same scarf!
The original was the most expensive scarf
I had ever purchased
from some long gone boutique in Cirencester.
Don't ask me how much it cost,
because I cannot remember!
The replacement,
a deleted line still with tags on,
was on sale for just £4.95!

I had loved this scarf,
because it brought together a lovely array of colours - purple, grey, blue, yellow and purply pink,
plus it had a decorative trim.
Since the day my scarf and I parted company I had looked in many shops,
but never found anything which was a worthy replacement,
until today,
when that which was missing,
was restored,
as if it had never been lost.
I hope that I manage to take better care of the new one!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Bubbles in my Mind

On balance today has been a good day.
Progress has been made in several areas.
The study has been subdued, but not entirely tamed.
The heap of bags behind the door has been elevated, not eradicated.
The task of sifting through their contents and redeeming any lurking gold,
before disposing of any remaining dross,
still lies ahead of me,
and that does not fill me with great joy.

I have moved my chair to the other side of the desk.
As it is our former dining table this was not difficult,
and allows me to look towards the door,
as well as out of the window - perfect for a daydreamer like me!
The sun shines in the study in the early mornings and evenings.
As I am not a morning person, unless I have just failed to go to bed,
it seems to make sense to look in the direction of the evening skies,
as the sun will have moved round to the side of the house away from the study window
long before I make it out of bed!

As I look back on the day,
I am disappointed at by the irritations I allowed myself to succumb to.
Tomorrow they won't matter.
I am pleased at the progress that I have made in some areas.
I am glad that even though cooking bores me, I took the time to cook a good dinner,
I do not regret that I stayed in this evening, instead of rushing off to yet another church event...
I am delighted I took the time to phone a friend and catch up on news,
Then I remember another person I need to call, and resolve to try and remember to do this tomorrow.

I look around my study,
and note the relentless  rising and falling of the globules in my lava lamp.
Each one is like a new day,
temporarily discrete and complete,
before merging into the whole.
Rising then falling,
according to circumstances it cannot control.
There is nothing new.
Tomorrow, will be another day,
May I embrace the opportunities brought my way,
and recognise the irritations for what they are
- an insignificant distraction!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Look Back..and Wince!

The moment when you reflect back and realise that you really didn't make life easy for yourself - or others, is not a comfortable one!
"Why?" you ask yourself, "Why did I act in that way?  Was it just insecurity or a failure to see the bigger picture?"
The realisation that I have contributed to some of the problems I have encountered, is quite sobering.
But before I rush in and claim responsibility for all the rubbish in my life, that it not what this is about.
I can now see, that there were times when I have not made life easy for myself. I also recognise that had I been able to see those situations with the uncluttered clarity that hindsight permits, then I would probably have reacted in a different way.

The problem I have with accepting all this, is that it makes me wonder exactly what I am messing up right now!  What problems and difficulties am I storing up for myself through my own short sightedness, fear or stubbornness?

Retrospective thinking is not comfortable. It strips away self-justification and removes the rose tinted lenses of delusion.  It reveals our true selves, complete with warts, wrinkles, bumps and bruises - the stuff we would far rather kept hidden!

I give thanks to people who were patient with me, especially when I didn't deserve it,
who forgave me, when I was let them down,
who encouraged me, when I feared failure
who picked me up, dusted me down, turned me round and set me on my way.

I pray that I may have the grace to be as generous to others - especially when they irritate the socks off me!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Weather Report

Summer dissolved on 19th August in Pembrokeshire.
One day we spent the day enjoying the beach
followed by an evening exploring Lower Town, Fishguard...and fish and chips...










The next day we awoke to heavy rain that lasted most of the day.

We cannot complain. 
It was forecast.  
But deep inside we hope that the forecast will be wrong.
That the clouds will magically part  overhead and we will be blessed with warm sunshine...
That did't happen.
So we went shopping in Haverfordwest, 
first to Tesco 
and then we joined the throngs at the Withybush Retail Park
 and rewarded ourselves with lunch in M&S.

Later the sun sulkily put in a belated appearance
and we all turned cartwheels in the sand!


Actually, most of us just considered turning cartwheels, 
before dismissing the idea as totally ludicrous, 
and settled for a walk along the beach.
Yes, I know it doesn't look MUCH like sunshine, 
but when it has been raining all day
you set your sights pretty low.
Good job too,  
as the sunshine didn't shine for long, 
before being obscured by a mass of cloud.

Unfortunately wet weather continued to dominate the rest of our stay.

When we plan our holidays we often imagine blue skies and warm temperatures.
Yet on the coast, spells of wet weather are not unusual,
so why should be be surprised or disappointed when the weather turns inclement?

Was north Pembrokeshire any less beautiful in the rain

or the mist?

No, the beauty is still there,
only different.
Failing to meet our postcard expectations,
doesn't diminish the glory of God's creation.
It just changes what we see.

Apart from some periods of warmer weather,
this summer has been very disappointing, weather wise,
especially during the summer holidays.
Now, all we have to do is wait and see if the weather turns warmer
once the children return to school!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Miss Polly 2015

KHT - Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick…
R - Well if the doll was faulty then it should have been returned to the place from where is was obtained - Amazon, or Tesco, or wherever.  A bit tricky if it was a gift.
KHT - Maybe it wasn’t a doll, maybe it was a child…
R - That is possible.  Carry on
KHT -  Miss Polly had a dolly who was sick, sick, sick…
R - So this doll, that isn't a doll, but a child has repeated bouts of vomiting…
KHT - Yes!  So she sent for the doctor to come quick,…
R - Wait!  You can’t just send for a doctor, you have to phone up and try and book an appointment.  If you are lucky you might get an emergency appointment, but it won’t be with the doctor of your choice…
KHT - quick, quick…
R - Hang on, how many times did she ask the doctor to come?  You can’t keep asking, you know, or you will be labelled as a nuisance patient, or worse, suspected of having an unhealthy desire for your child to be ill.  Munchausen syndrome by proxy…
KHT - The doctor came…
R - In real life he wouldn’t arrive for a bit of sickness, or he would be constantly visiting pregnant women, or those who were suffering the effects of over indulgence….
KHT - with his bag and his hat…
R - Well I am sure that those both carried lots of germs.  When this sickness spreads, don’t blame me!
KHT - ..and he knocked on the door with a rat-a-tat-tat.
R - and what is wrong with the door bell?  Why can’t he use that like anyone else?
KHT - He looked at the dolly and he shook his head -
R - He didn’t even examine her, take her temperature, or listen to her breathing?  Disgraceful!  ..and then he shook his head!  Well that is going to reassure Miss Polly isn’t it.
KHT - and he said “Miss Polly, put her straight to bed!”
R - Ah, he thinks the dolly is malingering.  Doctors do that you know if they think you are trying to fool them.  They recommend you stay in bed, but if they think that you are genuinely ill, they say get up when you feel up to it.
KHT - He wrote on a paper for a pill, pill, pill.
R - Was that one prescription or three? I am a bit confused!
KHT I’ll be back in the morning, yes I will, will,will.
R - No he won’t won’t won’t!  The NHS is being sold off.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Clouds and raindrops

Pembrokeshire - not the best place to be for the wettest August since records began.  Yes, I am pre-empting the official announcement, 
but the sodden site 
and drying clothes provide sufficient evidence for me.

Low clouds spill 
over the craggy faces of the hills, so that it is hard to tell where cloud ends and rain begins.
Ironically it can be drier 
where the land meets the sea, 
despite the best efforts of the waves 
to add their spray to the pervading dampness, 
while the tide rises and falls, 
according to the choreography of the moon.  All mankind can do 
is build structures and banks 
in an attempt to contain 
and tame the sea.


On the roof, raindrops, 
as welcome as a shark among surfers, 
announce the arrival of the next band of rain. 
Inside cottages, and homes, caravans and tents, holiday makers and residents alike wonder how much more rain it will take before Pembrokeshire dissolves.  







Then the sun bursts through, 
and every droplet gleams 
as if encrusted with diamonds, 
the sky's glorious glow 
is reflected in every puddle and stream, while the waves roll nearer and nearer 
until they break upon rock or shore.  Everyone smiles 
and forgives the fickle weather, 
until those raindrops begin once more.
We remember the many saints of this land and wonder if they also prayed for the rain to end, and while they waited the rain washed away all that made them unclean.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Results Day

Today was a day of triumph or tragedy for 16 year olds everywhere, or was it?  In 5, or 10 years time who will care what grades you got?  If you are bright and messed up in a core subject you can retake.  Inconvenient, but not life changing.

Today was a day that made not the slightest bit of difference to my 16 year old daughter.  She has a place at a local college next year doing life skills.  At the moment she is has not really taken in that she has left school and despite visiting it, college still seems like alien world.  The results will not change her life, and in fact high grades would not have been to her advantage.

Congratulations to those who did well.  Commiserations to those who may not have done as well as they or their parents/school had hoped.  Enjoy the next stage in your life.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The Fine Art of Self Defence

It is absurd
to look for clever words,
obediently arranged
within the constraints
of grammatical requirements.
For my thoughts
are not the sort of mental logistics
that arrive neatly packaged,
with perfect punctuation
to please the pedants.
Oh no! My mental gymnastics tumble and race,
pushing and shoving -
tripping over each other -
betraying grammatical dyspraxia.
Whilst superior souls watch on horrified -
deploring spelling errors,
wincing at wrong tenses
and abhorring the blatant and repeated abuse of apostrophes
"When will she ever learn?" they sigh
"When will she ever learn!"

Meanwhile another train of thought has pulled out of the station.
I cannot wait for perfection - it bores me.
My mind leaps,
with all the finesse of an elephant,
kicking dust in the faces of my critics
"It is a blog!" I cry,
"By tomorrow, it will be history!"
It is a mystery
why you want to waste time ironing out insignificant inconveniences of syntax,
when you could be exploring yet more adventurous avenues of thought.
Theses words are for the moment.
Ponder on them,
for tomorrow
they will have melted away
This is just the way it is.
Shakespeare's words will live on,
long after I am gone.
As you like it
or
not.




Sunday, 9 August 2015

House meeting

Landing - OK! Settle down.  I have called this house meeting to give us all the opportunity to discuss the latest developments.
Dining Room - Don't beat about the bush.  We all know we are being sold!
Lounge - Yes, the family are leaving. They have a 'new' house that will suit them better..
Landing - ...and we will have a 'new' family to provide a home for.
Kitchen - ...who will want to stamp their mark on the place!
Bathroom - ...and Kitchen, you and I ALWAYS bear the brunt of any changes!
Stairs - I hate change!
Landing  - Just take it one step at a time...
Loft - Maybe they will have a loft conversion, and I will get more action than just look after the stuff that isn't wanted, but they haven't the guts to chuck away"
Bedroom - Talking of action...
Under stairs cupboard - I could tell a tale or two!
Landing - Ahem!  What about the confidentiality declaration!?
Lounge - I think I accidentally burnt mine.
Kitchen - I KNEW that log burner was a bad idea!
Hall - At least Lounge doesn't set the smoke alarm off as often as you do!
Landing  - I sympathise with you wanting a more interesting role, Lofty, but I need that like a hole in the head!  
Lounge - I hate the noise and dust of home improvements!
Landing - We need to look forward to the next chapter, and concentrate on making the new owners feel welcome.
Bedroom 3 - Do they have any children?
Landing - I think there may be, but I don't know how many or what age.
Hall - Hopefully we will have a few years until we get to the next stage of door slammers.  The previous family had an older daughter who was a master at that...
Porch - Remember when she stomped off down the porch steps...and they broke!
Conservatory - That's not true, is it?
Rooms - YES!
Conservatory - I don't remember that.
Dining Room - Oh it was before your time!
Landing - Ahem!  What about the confidentiality agreement?
Hall - Well they have left, so does it still hold?
Landing - In theory, yes, but as long as we keep it within these walls we should be OK.
Lounge - I bet my leaded glass window is a casualty of progress.
Landing - They will have their own ideas, and we have no control over what they will do.  Our job is to make them feel welcome and to offer them shelter during their time with us.
Dining Room - At different times I was 'Dining Room', 'Bedroom' and 'Study' for the previous family.  I wonder what my next title will be...
Bedroom 2 - Yes, I am waiting to find out what my role will be...
Bedroom 3 - Me too! I wonder if I will stay pink...
Kitchen - Maybe we will get joined together in holy floor-plannery, Dining Room!
Dining Room - A merger certainly would shed more light on the matter!
Porch - Shhh!  I hear a key in the lock!  We are up and running...

Friday, 7 August 2015

Moving

The beginning is almost imperceptible.
Ideas float around.
Some drift away,
others remain
and help shape the future.

October 2013, and a holiday in the Lake District.
We hire a wing of a farm house,
possibly converted from a barn.
The living area is one room.
A large room,
big enough for the kitchen with units, cooker and fridge freezer,
dining table with chairs,
and a generous lounge area.



I think about my own narrow corridor of a kitchen,
and I know which I prefer.







Move forward to 2014 and the feeling that,
much as we love our house,
it is time to move on.
We are currently living the other side of the town from our church,
but we want to live in the catchment area.
We consider various options.
I watch on Zoopla, 
to see what houses are coming up in our chosen area,
Decluttering starts.
As we hang the decorations,
we know in our hearts
that this is the last time we will be decorating the beautiful edwardian home.

On a grey cold January day, we tour the new developments being built,
with the expectation that we are ruling them out.
Several of the new houses have rooms too small for what we require.
Then suddenly we see something that sparks interest,
offers possibilities....
A house, that was sold, is unexpectedly back on the market...
I love the downstairs space,
but I am not sure about the size of the bedrooms.
It is hard to imagine furniture in an empty room,
with walls of grey plaster.
Having dismissed the house, we set off the next day to explore the delights of Tewkesbury.
Except we never reach our destination.
Half way down the M5 we change our plans, and instead visit the show house in Worcester.
Admiring the study (for my books) tick
the lounge (a good size) tick
the downstairs cloakroom (nice storage cupboard) tick
the wide hall (plenty of room for a sideboard) tick
and the fantastic living/dining/kitchen.... tick, tick, tick
Seeing furniture in the bedrooms helps us to imagine living there.
We check that the furniture is not scaled down to emphasise the feeling of space,
In our hearts we know that we have found our future home.
The next six months are a roller coaster of doubt and decorating,
as the wave of emulsion washes over us,
and we are carried along by a relentless tide of sorting.
The cocoon of clutter which had accumulated around us,
unquestioningly,
is separated and sifted - some we will keep,
but much will be rehomed,
either in a charity shop or the tip.
It is a painful process.
Often I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the task,
and I encourage myself,
by thinking of the future,
when this process of simplification is complete.

The end came very suddenly.
A couple of signatures and a few emails later,
The old has gone.
No longer will I walk up those steps and into the porch,
sit in the lounge enjoying the evening sun,
or hide away on my computer,
whilst in the kitchen the dinner burns once more.

As I sit in the new kitchen/dining/living room,
I give thanks to God,
for the old and the new.
Let the next chapter begin!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Gospel according to Garfield

I am sending my Messenger ahead to prepare the way...Nermal prepare for a voyage into the unknown!

Locust are NOT food, and as for honey, I think they have me confused with that soppy Pooh Bear...

A boy just gave me 5 loaves and 2 fish for lunch...now what is for pudding? What do you mean 'I was supposed to share'?  How would they have fed all these people? Ha - That WOULD require a miracle.....

Narrow gate, wide gate? Narrow gate, wide gate?  I won't even fit through the narrow gate, so how is that an option?

Consider the lilies....hmmmm...what flavour do they come in?

If I was a whale, I don't think I would have swallowed Jonah, lasagne looks far more tasty!

Look, Eve, don't be tempted by the healthy stuff! It is so dangerous!

Moses, I misread the invitation.  I thought you were inviting me to a 40 year long pudding party.

Call yourself wise men, yet you arrive without any food?

Jesus, why did you stop after turning water into wine?  You could have turned plates to pizza, lakes to custard and mountains to chocolate coated with ripe strawberries....

If ever I fall on hard times, can this prodigal just eat bacon, instead of going through all that repentance thing? Just think how much happier my older brother would be!

Noah, this cat will decline the invitation into the ark, thank you. The lasagne is still alive....



(c) RJH 2015

Monday, 3 August 2015

Lydia

Over the summer holidays we are looking at Paul's second missionary. This weeks passage was Acts 16:11-15,  The story of Lydia's conversion.

I have always had a soft spot for Lydia, ever since I first read this passage during a Sunday afternoon Crusader class. The only other Lydia I had ever heard of was a Great Aunt on my mother's side of the family..

My mum's family was vast and scattered across the Midlands. Places such as Bilston, Kingstanding, and Coalville, were woven into tapestry of family history, along with many relatives I had heard of but never met. When we visited my Grandparents, I would sit and listen to them reminisce, or bring my Mother up to date on the latest family news.  Much of the detail has been forgotten, but I do recall that Great Uncle Fred from Derby drove trains and sniffed and Great Aunt Lydia was short, rather jolly, and know in the family as "Aunt Teapot Lid".

The Lydia in the Bible was not known for being short and rather jolly, instead she was a highly respected trader of purple cloth, living in Philippi.  Despite being a female gentile from Asia, she was used by God to spend the gospel into Europe. Lydia is not one of the greats in the Bible, she appears once or twice in Acts, but like Esther before her, she was the right person in the right place at the right time, willing to be used by God as part of His plan.

As we look forward to the next academic year, the questions we should ask ourselves is - what time were we born for?  What purpose does God have for us?  May we, like Lydia, respond to God's call.