Taken by surprise

Or putting it another way…caught on the hop! How many times have we put things off to do another day perhaps because it would be more convenient? Probably we are thinking at the time that we cannot be bothered. How many times having put something off have we suddenly come face to face with it again but this time it is more urgent? A dripping tap (faucet) which finally won’t stem the flow of water when you least want the hassle, a loose roof tile which comes thundering down later missing you by inches. Never put off until tomorrow what can be done today is a well-known saying but how many stick to the principle? Obviously there are some things even many things which should be left for another day simply because we don’t have the time. A few weeks ago E pointed out to me that one of her car tyres was lacking air due to a very slow leakage probably from the valve but maybe the rim. I dug out the old foot-operated pump from my van which sadly has needed replacing for years but I never got around to it. Actually it was probably more due to the fact that I had forgotten. It took me ages to pump up the tyres’ pressure. E had been going out and consequently was delayed whilst I pumped air. At the time I said I would replace the pump as soon as I could. I should have done it that same afternoon but left it for another day. I think I was immersed in one of my projects and hadn’t wished to leave it to go shopping. Consequently it was forgotten about. Now I don’t do much driving these days and hadn’t thought there was any hurry to replace the pump but E does drive more often and was more likely to need the pump than I. Funny as it may seem she did have a pump but it was faulty and she had thought about buying a new one. She didn’t get around to doing it either! So on Saturday she was off to her monthly meeting with her group but discovered her tyre, yes the same one she forgot to have repaired, was again short on air. I collected the old pump from the van again realising I should have replaced it and thinking it might not be up to the job. Fortunately I managed to get some air into the tyre and she was able to drive to her meeting. Ten minutes later I was driving to the local specialist vehicle accessory store to purchase a new pump. This time I wanted an electrically-driven one for ease of use, two if they had more in stock. As it happened they only had the one so I would have to return later or buy another elsewhere. It cost a mere £14 and can be plugged into the vehicle’s cigar lighter socket. Next time I won’t be caught on the hop…..

As you can see it was still unopened and would remain so until I gave it to E when she returned home. When she returned I asked her to keep reminding me to get another!

Shirley Anne

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Waiting

Sitting and waiting

If there is one thing in life which I hate most it is having to wait for anything. I admit to being impatient when it comes to waiting, I want things to happen there and then. Why do we have to wait at all? Obviously there are several reasons and the list could be endless. Top of the list is perhaps waiting for someone else to play their part in our lives in whatever capacity that may be. Unforeseen circumstances preventing us from proceeding with a plan or a schedule is another reason we are kept waiting. At this precise moment I am being kept waiting by myself! I write this on a wet and dismal afternoon on 18 th January. It is presently raining outside but earlier we had sleet and light snow falling, not a day to be outdoors if it isn’t necessary. However E has just left the house on an errand. She will be doing the same again tomorrow and on Sunday though on those two occasions it will be to do with her club and not just to the local shops. I won’t be going anywhere for a few days having decided not to do any work but to rest because of my muscular troubles (see previous posts). I find it so hard to relax sometimes I have to discipline myself to do it. Just now I am waiting for my period of self discipline to end though I must also wait for my muscles to have recuperated first. There are jobs to be done outside. There are leaves to sweep, trunks to chop down and various other things I am impatiently waiting to get started on. Just being outdoors is a blessing for me because I like to be out in the fresh air. So here I am sitting and waiting for the upturn.

Shirley Anne

Nice and tidy

You may not realise it but most people like things to be nice and tidy. However, I am not talking about their personal presentation nor their living conditions. Let me explain. Whenever you see someone for the very first time how are they viewed in your thoughts? What are your first impressions? When and if you get a chance to meet them do you find your attitude toward them has changed either positively or negatively? Without knowing you dear reader I would still wager you are like everyone of us without knowing it.

When I was young and still living in the family home with my siblings my parents instilled in each of us the need to be clean, neat and tidy, not only in the presentation of ourselves to others but also in every area of our lives. Our rooms had to be kept tidy, well as tidy as a young person is capable of. If we didn’t live up to the standard we soon got shown our error. We were told that if we couldn’t look after our appearance we couldn’t be trusted to look after other things. Children have the aptitude to rebel and often do as far as they can. Discipline has to be applied if our children are to grow in the right way. Despite all of our parents efforts they could never change our thoughts, the way we think. We might understand and keep their principals but we do things and think things in our own way.

Returning to the first part of this post and how we think of others. I ask this question, ‘Do you find yourself categorising people and putting them into boxes, types’? ‘Oh she’s a busy body’, ‘He’s not to be trusted’, ‘She dresses like a clown’ and so on. We may not at first think we are guilty of such thoughts but if we are truly being honest we will admit that we do. I say this not in judgement but simply as fact. We all do it and most times we don’t realise it. We like to keep things neat and tidy perhaps so we can relate to others and dare I say know our own place?

The thing is we should be treating everyone with equal respect and never should we judge them. What goes on in our minds is another matter but it should forever remain there.

Shirley Anne

Rock Solid

Rock Solid (Luke 6:47–48)

The futuristic Space Needle spikes from the Seattle skyline. Stretching approximately 605 feet into the sky, its spire pierces the clouds that often veil the earthquake-prone city. Although its height can seem frightening, especially when the Needle sways, it is actually safer than many tall buildings. The architects who designed the stunning structure kept one principle firmly in mind: the larger and higher the building, the stronger the base needs to be.

The Space Needle’s foundation is 30 feet deep, weighs 5,850 tons and contains 250 tons of reinforcing steel. The foundation is as heavy as the Needle, enabling the airy structure to withstand a wind velocity of 200 miles per hour. In 2001 it withstood an earthquake of 6.8 on the Richter scale. It is estimated that it can endure even greater shocks because the architects doubled the 1962 building code requirements.

Jesus, the master builder of strong, resilient women, likens our spiritual foundation to a building with a strong, immovable base. In his analogy, he tells of a wise builder who “laid the foundation on rock” (verse 48). We know that sooner or later, floods will come in one form or another: illness, financial problems, a relationship breakdown, societal calamities, terrorism or natural disasters. If we don’t take Jesus’ words to heart and put them into practice, we are on shaky ground. But if we build our spiritual lives on what he says, we can withstand anything that shakes us.

And what strong words had Jesus given his followers? Love your enemies and be good to them (see verses 27–36). Exchange kindness for anger, silence for gossip, a sweet spirit for bitterness. Don’t judge others but accept them as God has accepted you. Forgive, because you have been forgiven (see verse 37). Be generous, and generosity will come back to you when you most need it (see verse 38). Be more concerned with your own purity than about the purity of others (see verses 41–42). Care about the goodness of your heart because your words will reveal, no matter how good an actress you are, what’s really inside (see verses 44–45). The rock solid foundation isn’t an abstract notion. The “rocks,” ironically, are a soft heart and a gentle spirit. And those can only come from the Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ.

Oh and by the way it applies to men too!

Taken from NIV Women’s Devotional Bible

Shirley Anne

Still at rest

It was eleven o’clock in the morning when I went out for my first walk in days on Wednesday (16 th). I had been suffering with aches and pains in both my lower back muscles and my buttocks. Walking actually doesn’t appear to aggravate the situation but on my return home four and a half miles later I felt awful. After preparing lunch I was glad to be able to sit down for a while . Raising myself from a seated position however has been really painful. It’s as if my muscles are on strike. As E has difficulty in getting about it is imperative that I am available to do the things she finds difficulty in doing. Even simple things like taking out the garbage or sweeping up leaves in the garden she leaves to me. When I am fit and well I take it all in my stride. Fortunately the major projects I have been engaged in doing have come to an end so I can take time out to rest but it isn’t always possible. I can hear my dad saying ‘you’ll just have to grin and bear it’. How right he was. It is no use grumbling or moaning when things need to be done and this is why I say it even when I am at my best. It is that time of year when certain plants begin to grow and especially those you don’t want like weeds. After all my efforts in removing bluebells (and montbretia) from the gardens two years ago there are still some which persist. On my return from my walk and before I went indoors for lunch I set about removing some I had seen in the front garden flowerbeds. I will be trying to curb my enthusiasm for finding things to do for my muscles’s sake, until there is an improvement of course.

Shirley Anne

Feeling it

Quite often in this blog I have mentioned my age. Some people are a little sensitive when it comes to revealing how old they are but I have never had any qualms about such things. What is age anyway? As a date on the calendar age is meaningless but in life it certainly affects us all. If you don’t already know I am 73 years old, born in November 1945. Many folk my age show their age and have done for some time whilst others sadly never made it to 73. Others yet again are as fit as fiddles as the saying goes. Although I pride myself in my physical fitness naturally there are times when I really feel my age. There is no way I can do as much as I once could these days and some things really do take it out of me. Over the last four days I have done very little in the way of physical activity or work, in fact I have done no work at all due my muscular pain in my buttocks and lower back. I needed to rest. This morning however I decided to make some tentative progress in the removal of the damson/plum tree stumps in The Mound. Before Christmas I had lopped off the tops leaving around a metre and a half standing. You can see four of them in the first picture. The second picture shows the remains of the one I cut down.

I wanted to take them down to soil level then later dig out the stumps and main roots. It isn’t an easy job even for the professional. I took a saw and an axe to make a start on the first of the five left standing. There are a couple of smaller ones there too but they may be less difficult to remove. The outer layers of the trees are soft and white and are easy to cut into but the core is a different matter, it is much harder and red in colour. It took me ages to cut it down and I was exhausted doing it, so much so I stopped once it was done. The trunk itself was quite heavy too as I discovered when moving it across the garden. I am seriously thinking of giving the work to someone else, someone with a chainsaw! If I can get them all to ground level I may be able to drill them and treat the stumps with a herbicide to kill them off.

Shirley Anne

Just relax

As a child I used to be excited at the prospect of a holiday or vacation just as any other child would be.

As I grew into my teens and became a rebel to society, again as many teens seem to do, my attitude to vacations changed. Now I know most teenagers like vacations, though not necessarily with their parents but in my case I began to lose interest. In fact I had lost all interest in many things by my mid-teens and in many ways became anti-social. I had switched myself off from those things going on all around me, I just wasn’t interested. It wasn’t until I reached my mid-twenties that things changed and I became more conformist. My first vacation for many years was when I got married and it was also the first vacation I had taken abroad. We went to Majorca and for many years following spent many a good time holidaying abroad in one country or another.

Now I have come full circle and once again vacationing holds no interest for me. The last holiday E and I took, apart from having a long weekend in Vienna a few years back had been in fact two two-week breaks firstly in New York and then Montreal a few weeks later back in 2009. I am not saying a vacation is totally out of the question for if E wanted to go somewhere I would gladly join her. By the time you get to my age the novelty has worn off somewhat and because life for me is now one long holiday there seems little point in travelling anywhere for a break. When people ask why I am not interested in holidays and suggest I take some I let them know that I don’t think as they do. Some people seem offended as if my decisions in life had anything to do with them! At this very moment (Jan 14 th) I think a break to some hot sunny beach would be nice but what would be the point when I’d only have to come back to reality? Besides I am enjoying life just where I am.

Shirley Anne

Sunday rest?

During Saturday I had been suffering with pain in the muscles of my lower back or lumbar region. There had been no obvious reason why it came about for I had not done any strenuous work or put my back under any form of stress. As with other times in my life muscular pain usually arrived a day or two after the cause. Only a couple of weeks ago as I recall I had a similar problem. Everything was fine if I remained standing on my feet or if I lay down just as it was this time also. If I sat down I had problems trying to get off the chair or sofa. So Saturday wasn’t pleasant at all. Now it was Sunday and the pain had eased just a little but still let me know it was there when trying to stand from a seated position. Once up and about there was no problem and that is why I hadn’t been suffering after going for a walk. What could it be I asked myself? Then I remembered that on Friday I spent some time on the cross-trainer, the treadmill and the cycling machines, even though I had been for a long walk earlier in the morning. My guess though is that the cross-trainer was the culprit. I had spent much more time on that than the other two machines. As I wasn’t doing much more than a brisk walk on the treadmill and hadn’t exerted myself on the cycle machine it had to be the cross-trainer if it was any of them.

The combination exercise and movements on a trainer are not natural, nobody walks or runs as they do on a trainer. I said when I first bought the machine that I had to approach it with caution and slowly build up the regime over time. That I promised myself I would do after first using it and ending up with aches and pains a day or so later. I seems obvious to me therefore that I had forgotten to take my own advice but to be fair I had used it many times since that first time with little or no consequential problems.

So Sunday was also spent doing very little at all which was a good thing. I did some baking though, just to keep my hand in……ahem!

Shirley Anne

The next day

It is now Saturday Jan 12 th as I write this at two-thirty in the afternoon. I wrestled with the desire to drop off to sleep throughout most of yesterday following my lack of sleep the night before. I knew that if I allowed myself even forty winks during the day I would have more problems in getting a good night’s sleep when I needed it most. It was eleven forty-five when I closed my eyes. It was six-ten when they next opened. After a quick visit to see my porcelain seat I returned to bed and slept a further three and a half hours. At last I had the sleep I needed and woke thoroughly refreshed for once. It is at times like these when I feel I can take on a lot more work but I had already decided the weekend was going to be spent resting and relaxing. I had ideas of dining out or doing some browsing around the garden to see what other things needed my attention in the following week for I already knew the main ones. In the end I simply stayed indoors. E had to go out and to pay a visit to see her mom so dining out was out of the question. I cooked something for lunch instead. She returned home late in the afternoon. I could get used to this life of idly doing nothing but I doubt it.

Shirley Anne

Job done

E wants to retouch the remaining three of the white painted doors in the cellar hallway but for myself I consider the job done…

Slightly different from what it looked like a couple of months ago don’t you think?

Despite the job dragging on so long I enjoyed doing it most of the time. Some of the work as with the other rooms I had tackled in the cellar last year was mundane and boring and it often felt like I was getting nowhere. A lot of paint was spread over a lot of repairs and alterations in all of the rooms but for some reason the hallway repairs took longer than the rest. Perhaps I was simply feeling my age and just got tired of it all but then, like most jobs, everything just falls into place and in the blink of an eye it is done. If I could clear out the two remaining rooms of all the stuff in them I would find the time to refurbish them too. So now at last I can do some of the work that needs to be done in the gardens, especially the rear garden. Today is Friday 11th January and I have completed the work two weeks ahead of the date I thought it would. I am also very tired but not just from this morning’s work, I went for a five and a half mile walk beforehand. It went something like this……Went to bed at seven and dropped off to sleep. Woke up at ten-fifty and couldn’t get back to sleep. Finally arose at one-ten and went for my walk at two, an hour earlier than usual and when out decided to extend the walk. After breakfast and a little catch-up tv I finished the work at eight-fifteen. I lead a very strange life…

Shirley Anne