Boxing Day

Blue vacuum cleaner
Blue vacuum cleaner (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I won’t explain what Boxing Day is, information is easily found in your search engine. Already things are back to normal, high-pressure advertising back on track, the same year-in and year-out. Lounge furniture and summer holidays on special offers to entice people to spend even more money, if they have any left after Christmas! Today, Boxing Day, has been a funny day but a sunny one except that the wind never ceased from blowing. Left to my own devices once more I wasn’t sure what I would do with the day but in the end procrastination left me with no time to do anything. Wanting to go for a walk but thinking to myself the inconvenience of it, getting cold in the wind for no reason or too soon after eating became excuses I couldn’t resist. Consequently I stayed at home but I did spend some time on the treadmill by way of compensation. It is nice and warm in the cellar room which houses the treadmill because the boiler is located there too! E left the house before noon and didn’t return until later in the evening. I busied myself by doing a little housework, vacuuming the carpets and such before I got bored with that. It is one of those tasks which need to be done and despite the fact that we have a robot cleaner it doesn’t clean as deep as the mains-connected variety. Cordless vacuum cleaners too may be alright for general use but they also lack the power a mains-connected cleaner has. You have to unplug a mains-connected cleaner occasionally and move on to the next outlet, so what? There are plenty of outlets in the house. Anyway I could have carried on with the work of chopping down and digging out the shrub I had started on the day before but it was a colder day and still windy. Christmas Day had been windy too but it had been warmer with it. Had it simply been cold without the wind I’m sure I would have carried on with the shrub. There is no immediate hurry. During the afternoon I walked around the rear garden with a hot drink in my hands and taking stock of the work I will need to do there soon I could see Montbretia and Bluebell shoots beginning to show. Both will need digging out but it is the Bluebells which will be more of a problem as many of the bulbs will be deep beneath the soil. The Montbretia can usually be tugged out by hand if the soil is first loosened around them as they tend not to be that deep. It won’t be an easy job either way but if I am to do the work it has to be less windy. So I wait and when the time is right………

Shirley Anne

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Well did I?

Or didn’t I? That is the question and the short answer is yes. I was rambling on in yesterday’s post about whether I would get some garden maintenance done because the weather had been forecast as warm but a little windy. Well it was a little bit windier than just a little though not as it was on Christmas Eve. I came down quite early and to my surprise E had pipped me to the post and was just about to eat her breakfast. She hadn’t gotten back home until very late and didn’t get upstairs to her room before one o’clock. I knew that because I was having difficulty nodding off in the heat and humidity inside the house. Three times I had to get up and open the window fully just to stand in the cool breeze and help chill the room down a little. I must have dozed off around two o’clock but was up at seven-thirty after a sound sleep. E’s good at finding things for me to do and Christmas morning was no exception. Evidently her garage door had once again stuck in the open position and wouldn’t drop down. After breakfast I put on my overalls, for I was going to do some garden maintenance anyway and went out to check the roller door. The real problem is with the tracks, one either side, in which the roller door runs. If it catches something the motor continues to unwind the rolled-up door and it all becomes loose. The cure is to disengage the motor using the installed lever and then pull down the door manually until it reaches the floor. Once there the motor is re-engaged and all is fine. I applied some lubricant to the tracks using furniture polish. Yes you read that correctly, it has bees-wax in it which is the recommended lubricant. Now I could get on with the garden work. The first task was to dig out the bluebell bulbs I had missed when redesigning the flowerbeds in Summer, though only one had bulbs in it. I must have done a more thorough job in filtering the soil in the other! That didn’t take long and then it was time to pull out some Montbretia and begin to take down little by little an overgrown tall shrub growing in the border. This is the picture I took after I had cut down half of it…….side-border-1

it is the one standing immediately next to the large holly tree on the right. The problem is that this shrub likes to grow fast and weaves itself amongst other plants. I left the other half to chop down for another day as by that time I’d had enough. Here is a picture taken near to its base which will also have to be removed in the near future….side-border-2

When I had tidied up I went into the rear garden and cleared away more leaves that had found their way there, almost half a wheelie bin of them when loose. Naturally I pressed them down to get them in. I had thought I’d seen the last of fallen leaves in the gardens. It wasn’t to be. It was time for lunch when I had finished but this year I broke with tradition (beans on toast) and had eggs on toast instead. E had cooked a chicken to compliment other roasted foods her mom would be cooking and soon she was off out with it to Christmas dinner with her family, and half of my family too! Why didn’t I go? I wasn’t invited as usual.

Shirley Anne

How long?

English: Wind-sculpted trees on the Pembrokesh...
Wind-sculpted trees on the Pembrokeshire coast In contrast to the many images of the sunny summer coastline this shows the effect of the prevailing winds on clifftop vegetation and the misty atmosphere of a midwinter afternoon (Christmas Eve 2006). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is Christmas Eve as I write this late in the afternoon. I sit alone. It was exactly the same yesterday and it bores me to tears. At the moment the wind is blowing at around 40-44 mph according to the weather forecast and it is cold at 7 deg C but feeling colder because of the wind, not a day for going far on foot. We are promised a warm day tomorrow at an astonishing 15-16 deg C and although the wind will have not lessened it should be a better day for being outdoors. However there is the likelihood of rain too as we have been informed. That being the case and as I will be doing nothing else I might do a bit of gardening. It would be colder days from then on.  There are bluebell shoots coming out of the ground, the remnant of those I removed during the early summer when I redesigned the front garden flowerbeds. At that time I removed many bluebell bulbs and couldn’t be sure I had removed them all. Now that they have sprouted I can see where to dig to remove them. Nice as bluebells are they tend to multiply quickly and spread themselves all over the place. Of course there is no hurry to get rid of them just yet as it is only after they have flowered do they begin to spread seeds. If the weather is warm it is worthwhile getting them out now as the warm and dry days will be few as the season progresses. There are shrubs to prune back too and of course there are always weeds to dig out! At least it will give me something to do on the day rather than sit watching television. If the weather isn’t as bad as it could be I might carry on doing some more gardening tasks if I am able. I will reveal what happened in a later post.  On Friday last I placed an order for a replacement Union Flag for our flag pole as the existing one has become torn and tattered on its trailing edge. I took it down on Thursday ahead of the forecast high winds and though it is still serviceable I thought a new one would be in order. The new one arrived early on Saturday morning! That was quick service. As I write I am wondering how long it will be before the wind dies down enough to raise the flag once more as it shouldn’t be used if the winds are too high. Well this has been the first week of the Winter season and no doubt the weather will only get worse before it gets better. How long will it be I wonder before we can rely on getting warmer days every day?

Shirley Anne

Bad day

Sleep/Holiday
Sleep/Holiday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a bad day on Friday, not the day itself but the weather turned nasty at around two o’clock. I have to confess I didn’t get out of bed until almost one o’clock after four separate three-hour periods of sleep. My sleep patterns are all over the place recently but I guess I am getting the sleep I require. It would be nice however to be able to sleep for six hours in one go. I almost never sleep beyond five hours in one go. E had been up for some time and was just finishing her lunch when I came downstairs to have mine. Obviously there would be no breakfast so I had the remainder of the chicken and vegetable stew I had prepared a couple of days earlier. The large bowl was enough to satisfy my hunger. E went out just as I had finished eating, she was off to see her mom again perhaps to do some shopping or sort out some Christmas presents. She spends Christmas day afternoon at her mom’s house as do the rest of the family I think. I never get invited but it isn’t a real problem as I don’t observe Christmas anyway. I repeat that I am a Christian just in case some of my readers were thinking otherwise. Just as she was leaving the house the heavens opened and the rain began to pelt down. The wind had picked up too and it was blowing a gale. It had been forecast days before. This particular storm had been named ‘Barbara’ and its path took it to the north of the UK, that is the centre of the storm went along that path. The winds lessened the further south from it but even at our latitude it was still strong. We had enjoyed rather mild weather for the season up until that point so we couldn’t complain I suppose but it didn’t last long, a couple of days and we would be back to more settled weather. I had thoughts of going out perhaps for a meal on Friday but I decided against the idea because of the poor  weather. There would be another opportunity in the days ahead if I wanted to go somewhere. One thing I really wanted to do over the holiday period was to get out into the gardens and do some work. At the time of writing this on Friday afternoon it looks as though that opportunity will be a long way off unless the weather improves.

Shirley Anne

Just happens

By Appointment Only (2007 film)
By Appointment Only (2007 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had to pay a visit to see the doctor on Thursday morning due to the rash I had on my both my arms and one leg. It appeared several weeks ago and at that time I thought it would disappear by itself for it seemed to do so at first. I had been treating it with a few different ointments but then after another couple of weeks it began to worsen again and was on occasion very itchy. I had to make an appointment with the doctor else it would never go away. Now the problem with many surgeries these days is actually getting an appointment in the first place, at least one reasonably quickly. Obviously emergency requests are honoured but this wasn’t an emergency by any stretch of the imagination. I had to wait almost two weeks or take a chance on there being time to see me in the meantime. That wasn’t going to happen as I had been very busy up until then so I took the earliest appointment they could give me which was eight-thirty in the morning. The surgery opens at that time so I was the first patient for the particular doctor I was to see. Five minutes later and I was out of the surgery and on my way to the pharmacy not far away in the village shopping centre. The pharmacy opens at nine so I had a twenty minute wait. I could have waited in the vehicle but I had parked it at a distance and besides there was a bench outside the pharmacy on which to sit. I sat there and watched the village get busy as people began coming in. It is amazing what you see if you have the time and I had plenty of that. Soon the pharmacist arrived and said hello as she entered the shop but it wasn’t yet opening time for customers, I had to wait a further five minutes. Because I was so early I had to inform the pharmacist that the doctor had only just sent my prescription as she would need to look up the details on her computer. She informed me it wouldn’t take long to sort my request but I still had to wait a further ten minutes. Finally she came over to the counter and apologised for having only one of the two prescribed items in stock and that I would have to call later to collect it. I asked if it could be delivered instead, a service which they do provide but it meant I would need to wait-in at home to collect the afternoon delivery. I wasn’t going anywhere anyway. I took the other prescribed item with me and went home. The delivery came later in the afternoon. It would be the first time I’d taken advantage of the delivery service but E however has all her medication delivered. Mind you she does have a lot of it. I am often the only one in the house when it arrives too so I am used to having to sign for it. Thursday afternoon was sunny, a nice time to go for a walk but that would have to wait till another day, I had to stay at home instead.

Shirley Anne

Hard times

Everything You Want for Christmas
Everything You Want for Christmas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hard times for someone like me who only wants to work. For most people this time of year is a very busy time, shopping for Christmas is now over and the festivities themselves will also be over for many too. Still there is time for rest before the return to work and the merry-go-round of life continues. Many will be glad for the break after all the busy days they have just endured. I can only say though that it was all self-inflicted, it was what they wanted to do. Each to their own and no doubt a splendid time was had by all, well maybe. Maybe things turned out as expected or even better, maybe tempers rose and there was friction which upset all the festivities. I hope the latter wasn’t your experience anyway. As for myself there was none of that for reasons I have documented much in the past and also within the past week or so. My problem has been one of boredom, not being able to find much to do over the ‘holiday’ period. I cancelled my advertisement in the local press for three weeks but that was more for financial purposes than a need to rest from my work, though I did need some of that. What would be the point of spending what would be £120 or so for the privilege of getting no calls? I notice other electricians continue to advertise each week of the year but as it is their livelihood, they need to keep advertising. I don’t need to advertise throughout the year as essentially I do not need the same volume of work but just enough to keep me active until I decide finally that I’ve had enough. That however might be far off at the moment because all I want to do is have something to do! At the moment that will be restricted to working at home in whatever capacity will keep me active and relieve the boredom. I have been struggling to find things to do but over the last couple of days I have managed to find something. I am wondering how I will fill the next couple of weeks into the new year. Something will surely turn up………….I hope so.

Shirley Anne

A Saviour is born

Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
Meditation (Galatians 4:4–7)
We are about to celebrate the birth of the Son of God, the firstborn over all creation—not the first created being, as some religions falsely claim, but the one who holds our universe together and without whom we would have neither life nor breath. His birth in Bethlehem has implications for all of us. Jesus was born on earth so that we could become God’s children too, all of us. The gospel Jesus brought was for everyone, then and now. It destroyed all barriers among people: social, racial and gender-related. Our unity is based on our new identity as children of God. That is what we are! Our status in Christ far surpasses any earthly advantages we would have over one another. There is no room for pride. No distinction of slave or free, no wealthy or poor, no in or out.

We are all God’s children. He has sent the Holy Spirit to be within us. We can “hear” God speak to us through His Word. We can speak directly to him in daily prayers. He hears the cries of his children, “Abba, Father.” All this is our Christmas gift from him. It’s a free gift. We cannot earn it. We cannot work for it. All we need to do is accept the gift. God loves us and wants us to be with him, to love him. He accepts us as we are. He has a plan for each one of us. He wants us to be close to him for all eternity. God sent his Son to earth, the baby whose birth brings us Christmas, to make that happen.

Prayer
Abba, Father, how comforting it is to come to you, knowing your love is a gift I did not earn and can never lose. Thank you. I am in awe as I realize how great a gift this truly is. Though I live in a culture that erects barriers between people, barriers that divide us and make us feel either arrogant or inferior, I am so grateful to you for sending your Son, the Lord Jesus, who broke through these walls with his love, acceptance, forgiveness and service to the lost, to the least and to the lonely. Teach me to treasure all the people I encounter today, to love them and to seek only good for them. In your Son’s name I pray. Amen.

Taken from Once a Day 25 Days of Advent

Shirley Anne

More walks

It is late on Monday afternoon or early evening if you prefer, it is 5.30 on the clock anyway. I had no work today. I have just sat down with a cup of coffee after returning indoors after a short walk. Short walks mean anything less than three miles for me and they are usually around two. I returned home over an hour ago but I didn’t come inside immediately, I sat on the bench seat we had placed in the elevated position under one of the front windows. I knew it would come in handy!BenchIt wasn’t very warm but neither was it very cold and there was almost no wind so it was pleasant for sitting outside. So I sat there in contemplation, something I love doing, just sitting there and taking stock of things. My thoughts drift all over the place and one thought leads on to another. It is like an adventure, not knowing what will turn up next. I hadn’t felt particularly energetic before I took the walk, in fact the opposite was true, I wasn’t feeling up to going for a walk but I made the effort. Perhaps it is the time of year for it is hard getting motivated when the sun isn’t shining and it isn’t all that warm. I was glad I did, I felt better on my return. So I had been sitting there for about thirty minutes when a car pulled up in the street outside one of the gates. I knew immediately who it was and why they had called even before the car had stopped. It was a regular visitor on her delivery round, delivering packages and parcels in the area and she was delivering yet another package for E. It is all to do with E’s small hobby/business making greetings cards. She receives an awful lot of mail since her project took off. She wasn’t at home for she had gone out for a few hours presumably shopping. The girl didn’t see me sitting there in the twilight gloom as she approached the steps leading to the front door. Even when the floodlight switched on automatically she still hadn’t noticed me until I greeted her with a ‘Good morning’. That always brings a chuckle. I asked her to post the package as I wanted to remain seated for a little longer. She is a very amiable person and easy to talk with so that’s what we did for five minutes. Then she left and as she did another of the floodlights switched on too. It hadn’t noticed her approach but it noticed her departure as she must have walked down the steps on the closer side. I hadn’t triggered the light even though I was closer still but then I was sat motionless. She triggered the third floodlight as she walked down the path back to her car. Soon all the floodlights switched off and I was again in the darkness of twilight, my favourite time of day, evening twilight. I sat there quietly for a while longer before returning indoors and to prepare myself a coffee, the one I have been drinking while writing this.

Shirley Anne

Friday and the long weekend

‘So this is Christmas‘ as John Lennon sang in the well-known song. When I was young it wasn’t so much the day itself but always the approaching days which held the excitement, in fact the day itself wasn’t as exciting as I remember and sometimes it turned out a little disappointing. I find that happens a lot in life, we expect something to be exciting and we find we are somewhat disillusioned when the time comes. Sometimes we expect too much and when we do we get let down. Not always though, no, there are things which satisfy in life but I think you’ll agree, they don’t last and soon we are looking for another thrill, another exciting event. This pretty much sums up Christmas for many people but it doesn’t have to be that way, there is more to Christmas or rather the message it contains that will never disillusion if taken to the heart. Who cares? Many simply want to enjoy the time without the ‘religious’ theme but without the religious message the whole event becomes meaningless, just another event in the calendar we look forward to for enjoyment. Well Christmas is a time to rejoice and be happy, a time for people to get together in love and friendship though for some that isn’t their lot. Tell people that God sent His only begotten Son, conceived of the Holy Spirit by a virgin to be an atoning sacrifice for those who have turned away from Him and they will laugh, they will scoff, they will not believe, but that is the message that Christmas brings. It is the gift of God, a free gift and it doesn’t arrive on a sleigh pulled by reindeer and driven by a guy in a red outfit! The truth of the matter is we ALL need salvation for we ALL fall short of the glory of God. God is waiting for those who will turn to Him in repentance, who will accept His free gift of life that only comes through Jesus Christ, the babe in the manger lost in the secular version of what should be a Christmas centred around him and the reason he came.

Detail - Glory of the New Born Christ in prese...
Detail – Glory of the New Born Christ in presence of God Father and the Holy Spirit (Annakirche, Vienna) Adam and Eva are represented bellow Jesus-Christ Ceiling painting made by Daniel Gran (1694-1757). Post-processing: perspective and fade correction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Isaiah 7

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Immanuel means ‘God with us’

Remember what Christmas is really about.

Shirley Anne

A real concern

A Christmas Without Snow
A Christmas Without Snow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have just written a comment on an article posted by AOL regarding snowfall at Christmas. Our weather forecasters seemingly cannot say with certainty if we in the UK will get a white Christmas. My comments centred on the fact that I thought it utter nonsense that people yearn for such things forgetting as many do what Christmas is supposed to be all about, the birth of our Saviour and not the fact that we might or might not get snow!
I was at work on Saturday afternoon. I had no work in the morning but had arranged to work in another town for someone in the afternoon because they had no free time during the week. I didn’t mind, after all it is Christmas as they say. Anyway the work was to replace a few light fittings with sparkling new ones. The lady for whom I was doing the work began chatting with me. Usually it is off-putting when people won’t just let me get on with the work but on this occasion I didn’t mind. I was taken a little by surprise because her questions all centred upon me, my family, friends, about my faith and about Christmas. I am not forthright in opening up to people regarding my family and friends my faith and beliefs unless they ask of course but if they do I don’t hold back. She began by asking what I was doing over Christmas. When I replied ‘nothing different from usual’ she was intrigued and wanted to know more so I explained, telling her that I don’t think Christmas is celebrated for the right reasons these days and it has become a secular and commercial machine having nothing to do with Christ. I also told her that my family have all but distanced themselves and my friends all live afar, not that I can claim having many friends as I don’t which means I couldn’t celebrate the holiday with them as they do even it was my wish to do so. My social life is just about zero too but that’s another story. She became very concerned and it prompted more questions which I answered as honestly as I could. She couldn’t believe I don’t celebrate Christmas as I once did, in fact I don’t celebrate it at all. The look of concern upon her face was evident. She asked if I was a Christian, a question I usually end up asking of those I talk with rather than it being asked of myself. Asking what church I went to and discovering I don’t prompted her to ask why. The answer I gave made her feel sad for me and she said she thought it was sad that I wasn’t in a fellowship and no longer felt the urge to be in one. I was more concerned about her feeling a sadness for me instead of just accepting the way I feel about things as being my own choice. I have to admit I haven’t felt such a concern for me for many years, not even from those closest to me, my own family. I am more concerned that people should believe in God and Jesus Christ rather than be concerned for me and never mind whether it will snow or not.

Shirley Anne