Drought?

During the last couple of weeks it has rained only once in earnest. I write this on 5 th with no forecast of rain for the next few days. If it continues this way we will be heading for a drought. It also means I have been engaged in watering the gardens with a hose else the plants would be suffering, even dying in some cases. For this part of the world the current weather pattern is very unusual and I wonder if it is just a temporary phase or something we can expect more often now. Parts of my country have plenty of water to hand and don’t feel the effects so much when there is a drought but other parts, the more densely populated areas for instance struggle. I hope we can avoid a drought but it is one thing totally beyond our control. I have always maintained that there should be more reservoirs constructed and interconnected with wetter areas to alleviate any possible problems. We do the same thing at home on a miniature scale, we have rainwater butts which are kept full throughout the year for use in drier weather if needed. I have been thinking of adding more for we do have the space for them. For instance I could install a couple behind one of the garages, where the bricks were stored in this old picture for instance,

in fact a very large tank could be installed in that spot if it were desired. We have never resorted to using either of the present water butts because of a shortage of water. So far it has never been necessary but that could change. The moment I decide to add another water-butt it will most probably pour down for weeks on end! It is nice to know I have the option anyway.

Shirley Anne

 

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A nice day for pottering

I could make any day a nice day in which to potter about but usually I have something bigger to do or something more important. That’s not to say that pottering about is less important for I believe pottering about is beneficial to our well-being. We can wander about aimlessly without being under pressure and find so many little things to do which ought to be done but get left behind in the great scheme of things we call our lives. It is in the execution of these small tasks that we often find the greatest pleasure. Monday was the beginning of yet another week though for me that has begun more and more to be of less significance as each day is taken the same. I often forget which day it is I have to say. I have been taking a break from heavy work, from projects, from anything inside the house lately and have concentrated mainly on working (and pottering) in the gardens. If you’d have asked me five years ago what I like about gardening I would have told you I hate gardening. How times and attitudes have changed for me, now I enjoy the work no matter what that work might be. I treat gardening as a never-ending project and work at it in the same way as with any other project I undertake though those projects obviously do end. At the beginning of this week I have nothing set in mind to do so I suppose I will be pottering about a lot. This morning (4 th) I emptied out one of the two industrial bags which are filled with the sand I removed during the construction of the pit in the cellar a couple of months ago. 

It occupied the area where you can now see a dark wet space right of centre in the picture above. It was the same sized bag as the white one top centre  which is still full of sand. That one will most probably remain there for some time because it is out-of-the-way where it is.. The emptied sand was put into smaller plastic bags and is now stored in the garage to the right out of the picture. The area in the picture is that which is first seen when exiting the cellar into the rear garden. During the Autumn leaves accumulate  mostly on the right in the picture so I have been endeavouring to keep it as tidy as possible to make sweeping the leaves up easier to do as well as making it less of an eyesore. I took the following pictures on the day of things around the garden.The apples beginning to grow,

Under the apples trees,

Under the little oak tree,

Behind the apple trees the potatoes and rhubarb (of which some has already ended up in a rhubarb crumble),

and finally some of the baby beetroot plants we put into this raised bed and elsewhere

The beetroot are those without the flowers in case you were wondering!

Shirley Anne

 

Good as new

My energy levels soon picked up after a great night’s sleep. I had been for an unaccustomed long walk on Saturday so I had been feeling a wee bit tired afterward. It’s not that I don’t do long walks but I hadn’t been so far in one go for quite some time. That is the key, the walk was done in more or less one go with a brief stop for toilet breaks and a chat with a lady walking her dog. So on Sunday morning I was as good as new and ready to go again though I didn’t go anywhere. Sunday was once more a lovely sunny day and very warm. Saturday had been a much cooler and overcast day which made the walk easier and comfortable. I don’t like exercising when the weather is too warm and that’s why if I go for walks during the warmer months they are usually done early in the day. It was due to the fine weather that I had to water the gardens again on Sunday and according to the forecast it looked like I would be doing the same for some time to come. The month of May as it happened had been the warmest on record since recording began. It was for the best part dry and sunny too. If ‘flaming’ June lives up to its reputation bright sunny days lie ahead (I write this on 3 rd). I did a little pruning of the trees close to the path in the rear garden and swept up the fallen leaves again. Every day there have been leaves lying on the path and part of the lawn and it’s not even Autumn! Something I will just have to put up with I guess. I spent some time relaxing on the patio during the afternoon. My youngest son had spent the night at the house as he does sometimes but he didn’t stay long once he had arisen and taken a shower. He was off to town, that is a public park on the town fringes to have lunch. Every year there is a food festival held in the park and the eating is free. He never misses an opportunity! I might have gone along too but for the crowds that attend these functions, I don’t like crowds. E didn’t fancy the idea either and she would have had difficulty in getting about anyway. There are several events and function held in Southport each month every year but I have never taken much interest in any of them though many people do. I prefer the quieter life.

Shirley Anne

Worn out

Touching on yesterday’s post regarding the subject of wisdom I am glad I had been wise to follow an exercise regime when I was younger. It has been beneficial to me in keeping me fit and active over the years. Of course having an occupation which was manually orientated helped a lot too. Even so I still get tired after exercising if I push myself too hard. If I didn’t get tired at all it would mean I am not benefiting from the exercise as I should. At my age I am limited to how much exercise my body can sustain but being used to exercising I know I can do more than I could otherwise do. I love going for walks and for many years loved and enjoyed running. Some people my age still go running, I know, I see them when out walking. I have to say though that the running is more often than not like a trot. Still they are out actively enjoying themselves. I hadn’t been for a longish walk for some time so on Saturday (2nd) I made it my business to arise early and go for a longer walk than I normally take. I decided to walk down the coast to the district where I lived before I moved to my present location. I estimate the distance to be around six to six and a half miles or twelve to thirteen miles for the round trip. So with bag containing my water bottle and a couple of other items should they be needed across my shoulder I set off. My destination was the pine woods (shown above) north of my old house and I walked the coast road to get there. My return journey would take me along the beach and then through the sand dunes nearer home. As I walked northward along the beach there was but one figure in the distance ahead of me, a lady walking her dog. She was walking toward me when her dog dashed off toward the sea a couple of hundred metres away. The beaches along this part of the coast are very wide when the tide is out. The dog seemed to disappear but had in fact walked into a dip in the otherwise flat sand. The lady shouted to me that he always does this and soon enough he was back with her. We stopped and chatted for a few minutes and I discovered she lived locally. She asked where I lived so I told her adding that I too lived where she now does. She asked exactly where so I told her the name of the road then she asked which number so again I told her. ‘That’s my house’ she said, ‘I live there now’. What a co-incidence that we should meet out on a walk. She described the house as it is now and I described what it was like when we lived there and what work we had done in it. It appeared that the people to whom we sold the house in 1988 sold it on a couple of years later to this lady’s sister who then sold it on to her in 1994. She mentioned that I would know ‘Sylvia’ her neighbour and ours when we lived there to which I replied that I did but doubted she would remember me since much water has passed under the bridge since then. We parted company and I continued homeward. It is a fact that the effects of exercising or doing strenuous work don’t come upon us until long after we have ceased what we were doing. It was a short five minutes after I had arrived home that I felt worn out even so but I was soon back to normal later.

Shirley Anne

Wisdom

I’m supposed to be wise?

It takes wisdom to get through life, to overcome life’s difficulties and problems. We often think wisdom is just about these things and getting wisdom takes a lifetime, something we learn with each passing day. Well to a point it is, it does take time to learn wisdom for living and dealing with life’s issues not least of all in our dealings with others. We would like others to think us wise even if we are not. We link stupidity with the lack of wisdom and in a lot of cases it is justified. I say we are stupid if we don’t take heed of having a lack of wisdom. We are stupid if we don’t seek after it but what is wisdom anyway and how do we get it?

Shirley Anne

Four  ways to Get Wisdom (Proverbs 9:10)

Habit: Developing Wisdom

Wisdom is a capacity of the mind that allows us to understand life from God’s perspective. Throughout the book of Proverbs, Solomon encourages us to “get wisdom” (Proverbs 4:5). He says those who get wisdom love life (see 19:8); that it’s better to get wisdom than gold (see 16:16); and that those who get wisdom find life and receive favour from the Lord (see 8:32–35).

Yet in Ecclesiastes 7:23–24 Solomon also makes clear that getting wisdom is a challenging process: “ ‘I am determined to be wise’—but this was beyond me. Whatever exists is far off and most profound—who can discover it?”

Fortunately, Scripture provides us instruction in this area. Here are four Biblical instructions for how to get wisdom:

1. Fear God. Solomon says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (see Proverbs 9:10). But how should we fear God? Philipp Melanchthon, a collaborator of Martin Luther, discussed what it means to fear God by contrasting filial fear with servile fear. Filial fear is the type of respect and love a child has for a parent, a fear of offending the one they most adore and trust. In contrast, servile fear is the kind of fear that a prisoner has for his jailer or executioner.*

2. Desire wisdom. The second step to getting wisdom is to desire it with all our heart. As Solomon says, we must “look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure” (Proverbs 2:4).

3. Pray for wisdom. As James tell us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

4. Study God’s Word. The fourth step in getting wisdom is studying and meditating on God’s Word (see Psalm 19:7). We shouldn’t rely merely on our own understanding, though, but lean on the wisdom and insight produced by Christians throughout the church’s history.

PRACTICAL TAKEAWAY: To get wisdom we must fear God, study his Word and prayer-fully desire to understand life from God’s perspective.

* R. C. Sproul, “What Does It Mean to Fear God?” Ligonier Ministries, accessed January 5, 2015, http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-it-mean-fear-god/

Taken from NIV Lifehacks Bible

Shirley Anne

Down in the mouth

‘Down in the mouth’ is an expression we use to describe someone who is (temporarily) feeling ‘out of sorts’ or not as ‘upbeat’ as they usually are. Late morning on Thursday saw me like that and I’ll explain in a moment. I had gone to bed early on Wednesday because basically I couldn’t keep my eyes open! I really was feeling tired. It meant once more that I would wake early too but that wasn’t a problem except that I woke a little too early at three o’clock. I had slept on top of the bed again in the high temperature and especially high humidity which was way over 90%. Sleeping under the covers would have been unbearable. So I woke up and made the attempt at returning to sleep but couldn’t. At five o’clock I gave up the idea and had a shower. I was downstairs for breakfast before six. As is my want I usually have the tv switched on while eating breakfast which was on that day porridge. Just as I had finished eating the tv went dead. At first I though I’d accidentally switched it off on the remote control but then I realised the fridge power indicator light wasn’t on. I checked the lights and they too were not working. Going down into the dark cellar rooms I discovered the unit which reads the gas and electric meters had no indicating lights working. This meant there was no power at the electric meter, the whole house was off, fridge/freezers, power outlets and lighting all not working. It was six twenty-five. There was nothing I could do  but go and do the weekly shopping run. However, even I didn’t want to go shopping at such an early hour though I had planned to go around eight o’clock. I sat and read the local newspaper for a while then looking out of the lounge window I saw our neighbour’s son about to leave for work. I opened the window and called to him asking if he had lost electrical power too. He had. It could only be a high voltage distribution problem for I learned later that large areas had been affected. Had it simply been local it might have been the lower voltage distribution system at fault. I decided I would go and fetch the shopping which I did but first of all I had to wind the garage door up manually to get the van out and wind it sown again manually too. I returned home at eight-thirty by which time E had come downstairs and eaten her breakfast. After I had packed the food away the power came back on as we stood and chatted. It was now nine o’clock. Now I had a dental appointment around eleven o’clock so after a short rest I drove there and was attended to almost immediately. I’d had a couple of fillings replaced. The injection I’d received didn’t wear off until almost two o’clock! I had no feelings on the right side of my mouth and when I looked in the mirror I could see my mouth was sagging on the right. I really was down in the mouth for a while. I was back home before eleven forty-five and drove E into town so she could attend to some business. We arrived back home for lunch after one o’clock by which time I was feeling really drained of energy. We spent a little time relaxing on the patio after eating lunch and wondered when we would get rain. The day was still warm and humid as we awaited the promised rain and thunderstorms late in the afternoon. Maybe it would finally rain on this the last day of the month……………

Shirley Anne

Dreaded Ivy

The dreaded Ivy. It makes deciduous trees look like evergreen trees in the Winter and chokes them during the Summer.

The picture above shows a close-up of a neighbour’s ivy-covered tree which stands less than a metre from the garden boundary wall. You can see it on the right in this older photograph. It isn’t the only one with an ivy problem either but it is the one which stands closest to our garden wall.

This tree itself is a bit of a nuisance for it constantly sheds twigs and small branches whenever there is a strong wind and we are forever picking them off the lawn. Naturally it sheds its leaves in Autumn too but that is something we expect so clearing away the leaves isn’t a problem. However the ivy that clings to its trunk and branches is an added problem we could do without. At the moment it is shedding leaves and has been doing for several weeks. I suppose it is part of its normal cycle but even so I have had to sweep up leaves every couple of days to keep the garden tidy. The worst part of having ivy is that it likes clinging to things and isn’t fussy what things it clings to. A couple of years ago another neighbour had ivy spread over into her garden from the same garden where the tree I write about stands. At that time we too had to deal with it and rebuild part of the garden wall in the process. All I can do is to try to keep the ivy from spreading over into our garden. If it were my responsibility I would eradicate it wherever I saw it growing in  my garden. On Wednesday (30) I did just that, well part of it. I leaned over the wall and cut it back. The bare patch on the tree in the top picture is the result. I cut the ivy in several places which should stem its growth for a while. It would be nice if our neighbours would take more of an interest but they don’t. Personally E and I think they can’t cope with their large garden and simply lose interest in the more out-of-the-way or out-of-sight spots in it.

Shirley Anne

Still waiting

English: Protestors at the June 30 pension dem...
Protestors at the June 30 pension demo in Nottingham. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had awoken at five o’clock on Tuesday after only three hours solid sleep and a couple of hours sleep that wasn’t quite as solid meaning I was restless during that part. I can remember being restless but don’t know why because I went to bed very tired. Anyway the long and short of it meant I got up early and made the decision to take a walk. It was still quite cool at six-fifteen and it remained that way for at least an hour. I took no coat or warm clothing and wore only a top and skirt, it was just perfect for me. I was able to eat breakfast at eight-thirty on my return home and soon after E came down to join me. Once breakfast was out-of-the-way I got out the mower and cut the lawn. There was still dew on the grass but the mower coped with it. Following that I again watered both gardens and prayed that we might get some rain soon. E and I found time to sit on the patio before lunch after she had washed her hair and had a shower. She had a hospital appointment at two o’clock and I would be driving. Soon we were on our way and by two-thirty she had seen the physiotherapist and could leave but first we took the opportunity to visit our next-door neighbour who was still hospitalised. It had been a couple of weeks since she had been admitted (see previous posts) and the promises came and went but she was still left waiting. As I write this she remains in hospital and hopes to be able to leave at the end of the week. She may have to be placed in a private care establishment for a short time before she can come home. Nobody seems to know exactly what will happen at this stage. Whist E was waiting to see the physiotherapist she and I sat in the waiting area and I noticed a free publication regarding pensions lying on the table. It was a small booklet filled with information about pensions, how to set them up and later how to receive them when eligible. I opened it up to a page whose headline read ‘ What happens if you die before receiving your pension?’ and I immediately remarked ‘Don’t worry, we’ll post it on to you’. E, myself and a couple of other people couldn’t stop laughing at the irony of it all. Well what will you do if it happens to you?

Shirley Anne

Droopy revisited

I’ve said it once but I’ll say it again, I am an Anglo-Saxon. I am certain my roots are from the north rather than the south and by that I mean temperate climes. I am not designed for life in the heat so when it gets too hot I suffer, I droop, I lose energy and wish it was cooler. I suppose my ideal temperature is eighteen degrees Celsius with a relative humidity of fifty percent. Not too much to ask in the country in which I was born and raised, England but often it gets far warmer than that here and far colder too. I could write a book about the English weather as could many who live here. It is Monday (28) as I write this and the day has been very warm and sticky, well for me anyway. The actual temperature outdoor rose to 23 or 24 deg. though in the direct sunshine on the patio it was far greater than that. My early morning duty to water the two gardens kept me occupied for a couple of hours. At this moment in time I am having to water both gardens twice each day because we have had very little rain save for a few hours a day or so ago. It looks as though it will be Friday before it rains again if we are lucky. As I am retired it doesn’t matter that I have to look after the gardens so closely for I now have the time to do it. I don’t much like being uncomfortable in the heat without having somewhere I can escape from it whilst being able to stay outdoors. I had put up the parasol on the patio so I could keep out of the sun but there is another place, a quiet place where I can sit if it gets too hot and it stays cool there throughout the year. I am referring to the rear of the garage nearest the patio where there is a stone bench, the one I built last year. 

The sun never reaches that area close to the garage wall so it remains cool all the time. It has views over the raised flowerbed looking toward the patio so isn’t a boring place.Late in the afternoon E and I planted out fourteen of the beetroot seedlings. We put them in the three raised beds on the patio amongst the plants already there. The remaining plants we will place in the flowerbed in front of the greenhouses amongst the flowers and shrubs. As we have potato and rhubarb growing in the dedicated raised bed between the greenhouses there is nowhere else we can grow them. It was after six o’clock when E and I finally went indoors for the day and into a cooler place.

Shirley Anne

 

Droopy

I am sure many in the western world at least will remember the cartoon dog character called ‘Droopy‘, a bloodhound. His deliberately slow demeanour but determination meant he always had the last word, always got what he wanted and as the sheriff always got his man. He may have been slow in his demeanour but often he moved at unlikely and impossible speed courtesy of the cartoonists. Really being droopy means that something is wrong. We all know the feeling when the weather is hot, humid and as a result overbearing. We wilt like flowers without water our energy sapped from our bodies and all we want to do is well, nothing, except perhaps to sit inside a fridge for relief. The weather hereabouts has been such that all I wanted to do was to cool off and keep out of the sun. It never happened though for much of the time I had been doing some garden maintenance, partly out of necessity and partly for something to do. If I did sit out I kept myself as far as possible in the more shady spots. I do sit in the full sunshine occasionally but not for long, say ten minutes or so is enough unless I have put sunscreen lotion on my more tender places. They are my shoulders, arms and breast, everything else I usually keep covered anyway. When once I would wear nothing but a swimming costume now has become a distant memory. I have the choice to fry in the sun or to remain comfortable and keep out of it. Plants however don’t have that luxury and even plants used to the climate in which they originated can still have problems with the weather. A lack of water results first in the leaves wilting then after prolonged dryness the leaves fall off one by one. The plant doesn’t die but it does die-back. During the dry spell we have been enjoying I have needed to water the garden plants very frequently, every day in fact. Well we had rain on Friday so it gave me a break from doing it but by Sunday afternoon after missing one whole day of watering a couple of the plants had begun to wilt. They quickly recovered after I had watered them but it just shows how dry the soil can get at this time of year. Parts of the garden stay moist longer of course but in one or two places in our garden the soil can get dry very quickly as they don’t always catch the rain if the wind isn’t from a favourable direction. I know just how the plants feel when they wilt, I do it all the time once the temperature rises above say eighteen degrees!

Shirley Anne