Ides of March

Alright I confess it is 20 th April as you read this but I am more than four weeks ahead of you. I think there are 36 scheduled posts but that will be 37 by the end of this day. I find I like writing and I hope you get at least some enjoyment from them. They are never too long and sometimes even a little brief but I suppose ideal for anyone taking a coffee break. I do tend to go off track occasionally but try to keep a tight reign on things, after all I would hate to bore you. ‘Beware the ides of March’ as the soothsayer said to Caesar in Shakespeare’s tragedy but he didn’t take the advice and was stabbed to death. As I write this we are now at that same time in the year and one might say as the soothsayer that we should also take note and beware. To be sure in today’s society there is much to beware of, just take a moment to think on it. However this post isn’t about the dangers in life we all face from time to time no doubt but on things more positive.

There has been much to grumble about lately here in the UK, for one the poor handling of our government to deliver Brexit as promised. It all hinges on leaving the EU without a deal or accepting one which at the end of the day will never be to our advantage. Politicians being as they are just won’t agree. Those who side with the population who wish to remain are putting stumbling blocks in the way of progress. There are ulterior motives for this you can be sure. It is something therefore that we must be wary of and how appropriate since it is March 15 th (as I write). The weather is the other thing we grumble about but then we always grumble about the weather if it doesn’t suit us. It has actually been appalling over the past week or so with high winds and plenty of rain but that is to be expected in March. However there were things in the garden needing attention, cutting the grass and digging out the weeds which grow profusely at this time of year when it is wet and mild. Today, Friday was dry for a change and it lasted until late in the evening. I had been for a walk in the morning and after breakfast went to the local window installer to see if I could purchase a double-glazed small window panel (10 x 10 inches or 254 x 254 mm) which I wish to fit inside the new garage door I plan to construct. They could supply one for around £20 so I placed the order and would collect it the following week. Much time had been wasted during the morning but in the afternoon when it also happened to be sunnier I decided to mow the lawn using the new ride-on mower.

It took me a few minutes to get the hang of it and then I soon had it finished. One good thing about using it apart from it being easier was the fact that I didn’t have to empty the grass box three times as I had to do with the old mower. This one holds more and in fact I only had to empty it after I had finished! One small disadvantage with the ride-on mower is it uses more fuel of course because it carries a passenger. Following that job I went into the front garden and did some weed removing in the flowerbeds. The two green waste wheelie bins are full to the brim and await the first collection of the year on the 18 th March. They have been almost full for months. Saturday would be another wet and miserable day so I was glad I took the opportunity to get something done in the gardens while it was dry.

Shirley Anne

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Comedy of errors

If you are anything like me you will be familiar with things not always going to plan. With the best of intentions I make plans and arrangements with other people when doing business with them. Everything is sorted and appointments logged in the book or on the computer then it is just a matter of waiting for things to happen. I arranged for our old mower to be serviced and at the same time purchased another machine which was duly delivered on time. I was told the servicing of the old machine might take some time because of the volume of repairs and servicing the organisation already had. It wasn’t a problem so I took their ticket and waited for their call hopefully within the following two weeks. On Wednesday 13th (March) sixteen days later I had received a call but had not been aware. I called their number on Thursday morning to verify they had called me but was connected with somebody who wasn’t familiar with our position so I had to explain everything to her. We had arranged for them to call us before they planned to deliver the mower. I would call at their shop to make payment prior to the delivery because it wasn’t explained to me that they could in fact receive payment at my home. Some companies don’t have such arrangements. Anyway I called them and was told the mower was ready for collection because the girl hadn’t known they were supposed to deliver it. I drove there to make payment (it is less than a mile away) and then she told me they take payment on site!

A wasted journey it would have been but for the fact that I was also going to drive to the builders’ merchant to arrange for a delivery of timber with which to construct the new garage door and frame. (see previous posts). The builders’ merchant was further away but only by a half-mile. After making payment they would deliver the goods that afternoon and the mower would also be delivered the same afternoon. Finally I got things sorted and I could begin the jobs I had set myself to do. As for the new ride-on mower which wouldn’t engage the cutting blades without the engine stopping, it appears we had been setting the handbrake and shouldn’t have done. We had spent some time wondering why we couldn’t get it to work when in fact it had been ourselves who had gotten things wrong!

Cat has trophy….LOL……..

Later that afternoon we called by phone to ask at which time the mower would be returned. We were told that someone had tried to telephone us (no-one did), they spoke yesterday to us and explained that we needed to consult our nephew (what nonsense) before repairs could be sanctioned yet earlier on my personal visit to their store I had been informed that the machine had been repaired and was ready to be returned! It appears their right hand doesn’t know what their left hand is doing! Is this any way to run a business? I let them know my feelings on the matter. To have the mower repaired would have cost £108 and as I was informed it is out of date and parts can no longer be purchased I decided to scrap the idea and scrap the machine. If we do elect to buy another mower we certainly won’t be purchasing from them!

Shirley Anne

Think on this

Easter Meditation (Isaiah 52:2–3)

It is nearly Easter, and we will hang crosses on the walls of our homes and churches. How do we think of it when it’s a decoration? With all of our present-day associations with the cross, an object of Christian identification and adoration, it is almost impossible to see the cross for what it actually was. And when we fail to understand the cross, we fail to properly understand what our Lord suffered on our behalf: shame.

Jesus despised the cross. To even speak of the cross in his time was disgusting. It was a punishment reserved for the worst of the nation’s criminals. It was designed to bring about the utmost torture to lawbreakers.

So to say that Jesus “endured the cross, scorning its shame,” is not to say “poor Jesus.” It is to say that Jesus loved us so much and was so submitted to the Father that he not only endured torment, but also public humiliation. And when it was over, he was exalted to the highest place of dignity and honour in the universe. A believer’s prayer Jesus, Lord of glory, you came to earth and took the form of a servant and willingly suffered an unimaginable death on the cross. You died for me, a sinner. You paid the penalty for my sins. Such amazing love is utterly incomprehensible to me. Help me to understand that the path to glory often requires a sojourn through difficulties and challenges, but that you are always with me. I seek to follow you in all my ways. I know that serving you is true freedom. In your name I pray. Amen.

Taken from Once a Day 40 Days to Easter

So what will you be celebrating? Chocolate eggs, Easter bunnies? Both have nothing to do with Easter nice as they may be. I love chocolate but more importantly I love Jesus my Saviour without whom I would perish but with whom I have a life everlasting and reconciliation with God.

Shirley Anne

A nothing day

Do you ever get nothing days in your life? Days in which nothing out of the ordinary happens or nothing gets done happen all of the time but hopefully not every day for everyone! My Wednesday was such a day for me. It was the 13 th day of March but it could have been a nothing day on any day both before and after. The weather hereabouts had been really miserable with very high winds blowing and the occasional showering of rain didn’t help matters much. There were things I wanted to be getting on with outside but they were never going to happen until the weather improved. One was finishing the work on the ramp behind the garage and to start work on constructing and installing a new door and frame for the same garage. The latter project was to widen the access into and out of the garage especially for the new mower.

The picture was taken a couple of years ago but shows the rear door of the garage which I intend to replace. I could have started the work on the door had there been materials on hand but there wasn’t. I would have to order them along with other materials but because the weather was so bad I shelved the idea for a few days. Earlier I had partly drained down the heating system in order to remove a leaking valve and on filling it up again discovered the bathroom towel rail heater refused to heat up. That was caused by trapped air in the system which I attempted to remove but at first couldn’t. It happens every time I drain the system for one reason or another. Over a couple of days I eventually did manage to get the air out but still the towel rail wasn’t getting hot enough. I decided to leave it alone for one more day to see if it would eventually work and it did just as it usually did. I went for a walk early in the morning even though the wind was still very strong (around 55 to 60 mph) and tried to stay sheltered from it as best I could. The wind finally eased off later in the evening and hopefully Thursday would be a better day where I might get something done if I felt inclined. It would probably be to order timber for making a start on the door and frame. The concrete laying for the ramp alterations would still have to wait for an improvement in the weather.

Shirley Anne

The Lord remembers

Remember, the Lord Remembers (1 Chronicles 16:14–15)

I’ve been waiting a long, long time for some things to happen: for a walk down the aisle … a cradle and arms filled with softness … and for hearts of loved ones to turn to Jesus.
The funny thing about waiting is it can be all consuming. It inhales my attention, chews my focus and swallows my thoughts, leaving me in a place of uncertainty and doubt. Yet when I remember God’s faithfulness in Scripture, I trust his faithfulness in my own situation.
When dust and debris threaten to replace passions, dreams and callings, remember God’s promise to Noah and “all living creatures” in Genesis 9:15: “I will remember my covenant between me and you.”
When there’s no pitter-patter of little feet, remember Genesis 30:22: “Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive.”
When fear, worry, doubt and anxiety enslave, remember Exodus 2:23–25: “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and … God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant … and was concerned about them.”
When guilt consumes and you fear God will never forget your sins, remember Isaiah 43:25: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”
When hope is scarce, remember Luke 24:6–7: “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, … ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’”
When your marriage is on the brink of despair, remember Deuteronomy 8:2: “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness.”
Recalling these accounts in Scripture helps me remember his goodness in my own life. When I can’t see how he is moving on my behalf, I choose to remember that he promises to be just as present and faithful to me and you today as he was for others in the past.

By Samantha Reed
Taken from NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women

Shirley Anne

Half-mast

Monday 11 th March. A bright and sunny day, well it was first thing in the morning around seven o’clock when I awoke. Soon the clouds appeared but later in the morning it turned bright and sunny once again. By evening it returned to being dull. The thing I noticed most of all was the fact the wind had subsided and I could hoist the flag again but I would do it later in the day. I had finished breakfast around eight-thirty but had to wait for E to come downstairs for hers. I say waiting because we had plans to go shopping but as on every occasion E won’t be hurried so we didn’t leave the house until well after eleven o’clock. Our first port of call was to the lawnmower store and repair shop . I wanted to check whether our lawn mower had been repaired and also to seek help in regard to the new ride-on mower we had purchased. We were finding it difficult to engage the cutting blades mechanism without the engine cutting out. The mower wasn’t ready for collection but someone would deliver it when it had been and see if anything what was wrong with the new mower. We moved on from there and drove into town and parked up. We visited a few stores, E had her glasses (spectacles) repaired, I purchased cosmetics and toiletries, E returned an unwanted article of clothing for her mom and I purchased a pair of flat-heeled shoes. By this time it was one-thirty and I told E I was taking her to a place of her choice for lunch. She chose a pub/restaurant a mile or so out of town where we often go. On our way back home we dropped off at Dobbies garden centre for a coffee and cake. We had chosen not to have a dessert with our lunch. Finally we arrived back home at five-thirty. As I was parking the van in the garage E called me over to the gate and told me she had just heard a loud crashing sound. One of our elderly neighbours had arrived at the main road and had collided with a vehicle entering our road. The old guy struggles to get about and should really have given up driving some years ago because of state of health. Our next-door neighbour (who happens to be a police inspector) went down to see if he could help. In the meantime E and I took our purchases indoors before returning outside to chat with our next-door neighbour and for me to hoist the flag as I had intended. After a minor repair I hoisted the flag to half-mast.

Earlier in the day our next-door neighbour had called by phone and spoke with E. He had some sad news regarding his mom who had again been taken to hospital as she had been very poorly. If you remember she had been suffering with COPD. and we had nearly lost her last year. He told E that she had died that morning about six o’clock. Out of respect therefore the flag was left at half=mast and would remain so until her funeral the following Monday.

Shirley Anne

Flags for flying

Flagpole

Flags are designed for flying them or so you would believe but there are times when it is impossible. I frequently fly the flag at home and in fact I only take it down if the wind is too strong. That means unlocking the cover which hides the rope so that I can do it. When the flag has been lowered it is an easy thing to unhook it from the guide rope. The rope is tied into a loop through which the toggle that is attached to the flag passes through. The toggle on the flag is itself fixed to a rope which is stitched into the flag to emerge at the bottom of the flag. The loose end of that rope is then attached to a weight to hold the flag taut when hoisted up the pole. All might sound too involved but in practice it is very simple. So the routine is to lower the flag and detach it from both the rope at the top and the weight at the bottom. What I do then is attach the weight to the rope and hoist it out of reach up the pole and then push the excess rope at the bottom back inside the pole before replacing the cover. Today was a day for doing just that. It is Sunday 10 th March which happens to be my youngest son’s birthday, he is now 34. The wind is high and the forecast tells me it will stay windy for a few days but not just windy , very windy, windy enough to have to lower the flag, which is what I have just done. As per usual whenever I do this I find there is some maintenance to carry out but is is most often the rope which needs attention. This time it was showing signs of wear near to where it is attached to the top of the flag. I suspect it has something to do with the finial, which is where the rope emerges at the top of the pole. There is a wheel up there in which the rope sits and perhaps it rubs on it thus wearing it out. It shouldn’t really happen but I cannot gain access easily being as it is at the top of the pole. It requires lowering to the ground which isn’t practical or erecting scaffolding to reach it. I did that last year when installing a new rope as the old one had sheared off and couldn’t be lowered.

I am thinking I need a sturdier rope and I will check that out later. The existing rope is still serviceable in the meantime but needs keeping a watchful eye on. A new rope can be pulled through using the old rope if it is attached properly. All this just to fly the flag. Well aren’t flags meant for flying?

Shirley Anne

Out of necessity

I had missed my early morning walk on Friday because of a doctor’s appointment so instead I spent time on the treadmill, the cycling machine and especially the cross-trainer. Over the three machines I covered a couple of miles and with other daily chores following later I was tired by bedtime and slept through seven hours. Now as you may already know I seldom get more than five or so hours of continuous sleep. It was Saturday morning, a little windy but dry and sunny and it would have been ideal for taking a walk only for the fact I had something else to do. During the day on Friday I chanced to see there was a slight leak of water on the floor inside the airing cupboard in the upstairs bathroom. It appeared to be coming from a ball valve on one of the heating pipes to the radiator outside.

The problem had been brought about by own mistake in fitting the ball valves in the first place when I was installing the new bathroom a couple of years ago. I had removed the easier to reach valve over a year ago and thought the other would hopefully not be a problem for it was situated in a very awkward place at the rear of the airing cupboard. In the picture below you can see the replacement straight-through connector I somehow managed or rather struggled to fit. The hand tools were either too small or too long to manoeuvre in the confined space but I did it!

You can see the old and original wooden skirting board (white) in front of which is the narrow pipe, The joint in the middle of the section of pipe is where the valve had been but is now replaced with the connector. You can also see that the wooden floor is wet due to the leak and it had in fact travelled down the wall into the kitchen below and loosened some of the wallpaper there. That can be easily repaired but will probably shrink back into place. In the effort to reach the pipe some of the lagging jacket around the hot water storage tank was damaged. The heat eventually breaks down the plastic covering so it is easily broken if handled too much. Did I tell you I hate plumbing? That by the way is a sort of ongoing joke in this blog as I have done an awful lot of plumbing at home and there is always, almost without exception a minor leak after I have done the work! This time however I bucked the trend for a change. Of course before I could do any of the work I had to shut off the water supply to the ‘header’ tank up in the loft and then drain off some of the water from the system down in the boiler room. Having re-instated the supply later I had to go around all the upstairs radiators to bleed off any trapped air. It all takes time and the bathroom radiator part of the circuit was difficult to rid of air. At the top of the house are three radiators of which one had been blocked in by my son’s stored furniture. All that had to be moved to gain access to the radiator. I had started the work soon after seven o’clock and finished four hours later. So much for taking an early morning walk!

Shirley Anne

Check-up

Just as with any machine check-ups are also necessary with with the human variety. We are in essence as far as the flesh is concerned machines of a kind and indeed a superior kind. We also need to have regular check-ups so that we can maintain our bodies. We cannot do as some are inclined to do with their mechanical machines and that is to leave well alone with the philosophy of ‘if it still works then why touch it’. We cannot be sure that there may be something wrong or that something if not seen to could develop into a much bigger problem, even to be life threatening. A wise person gets machinery routinely checked and so it should be with our health.

Check-up

So it was that on Friday (8 th) I had an appointment to see the doctor to have a quick check-up. I am supplied with six-months of hormone medication to alleviate the need to visit the surgery too often and that means I therefore get two check-ups a year. On this visit the doctor made arrangements for me to have my blood checked but it would be ten days later (it’s the way the surgery operates) by the nurse. That test would be to check my blood cholesterol levels. It is imperative that cholesterol levels are kept low in every person’s case but especially if taking hormones. My own levels do tend to be on the high side but not too much, however I try to keep it low by exercise and diet. I would collect my medications from the local pharmacy perhaps on Wednesday the next week. I didn’t take my walk early in the day because of the early appointment. Instead I spent time on the gym equipment we have in the cellar. As I write this late morning I may take the walk this afternoon.

Shirley Anne

Aggressive

I’ve never been interested in advertising and especially aggressive advertising which seems to be the norm these days. If I go online it is everywhere, it even appears on my blog. The occasional advert is fine, not that I take much notice but I am bombarded with them! The dynamic ones are the worst, flashing away on the sidelines whilst I am concentrating on something else, emails for instance. It gets so bad sometimes I just cover the screen where they appear. Have you noticed what a minefield it has become when trying to move your cursor around the screen? It is just as bad with finger scrolling, you only have to accidentally slip and you’ve clicked on an advert and opened a tab. Most annoying. I don’t receive much mail at home, you know, the stuff that comes through your letter box, I call it real mail but others call it snail mail because it takes longer to send and receive. Is this real progress or just simply the fact that we are so much in a hurry that everything has to be NOW? Oh how I yearn for a return to times when we had time for everything and didn’t want to cram as much as we could into a day. The mail which comes through my letter box and addressed to myself is usually official and sent from organisations like the tax office, insurance companies or other financial institutions making demands upon my purse. Those I have to accept of course but they are far outweighed by the unwanted stuff, advertising leaflets and special offers from some companies I’ve never even heard of. We have a recycling bin in the porch which is less than a metre from the letter box. How convenient it is for dumping all of it! I do check that none of it wanted of course before binning it.

There is far too much advertising these days in my estimation. The problem I find is that I cannot stop it coming through the letter box or block it online. If I see an advert and make an attempt at deleting it I am asked why I don’t like the advert but there is never an option to delete it. I can opt out of receiving certain advertising offers but cannot block them from my screen. All I get is ‘We want to only display adverts which follow your interests’ or something similar. Data is collected from every site that is visited and it is then assumed you have an interest in purchasing from them all! Most of the time I am just browsing and don’t want anything else, especially unsolicited adverts. When I visit a high street store I do not like staff to approach me asking if I need assistance. If I need assistance I ask for it. If I want advertising I will ask for it but don’t hold your breath waiting for a question.

Shirley Anne