Glazed…..

The alarm went off at two in the morning and woke me up when usually I am lying there waiting for it to ring. I must have been just that bit more tired on Friday evening. What happened next sometimes happens after I switch the alarm off though not often, I dozed off again but woke fifty minutes later. Saturday was a day for my walk and I was ready to get out there and take it but it was very windy and cool. Would it be too windy I thought? When I had gotten dressed I skipped breakfast opened the front door  and braved the elements as they say. The wind wasn’t as bad as I had thought it might be but then again I was sheltered close to home. As soon as I had reached the first street pointing west toward the coast I could feel the brunt of the wind but it still wasn’t as bad as I imagined earlier. The walk this time took me along The Promenade which runs parallel to the seafront but a quarter mile inland. It passes behind the town’s clubland and being a Saturday morning I was half-expecting to see some alcohol-imbibed people staggering about as sometimes happens if it isn’t pouring down with rain. I wasn’t disappointed. The first person I came across was a middle-aged man leaning on the frame of the shelter he was beneath. He couldn’t do otherwise it seemed as he looked a little unsteady on his feet and his eyes were glazed. ‘Good morning’ I said. He seemed taken aback, well he would wouldn’t he being in the state he was? No reply. I repeated my greeting and with a look of disbelief I guess he responded. I carried on with my walk. Across the road ahead I saw four younger guys dressed in shirts and trousers who were walking away from The Promenade back into town through a passageway. One of them stopped to relieve himself against the small wall there. There seems to be no shame with people today in what they get up to. You would think anyone wanting to urinate would find somewhere a little more discreet. Further along I saw four children walking aimlessly on the sidewalk. They were about the age of  eleven or twelve though one appeared to be older, say fifteen. What were they doing out so early (or late) I wondered? Lack of parental control no doubt. Finally all that was behind me and I had reached the point for me to turn back homeward along the seafront.

Here the wind was at its strongest and my eyes became glazed too in the face of it. I decided not to walk the entire way back along the seafront leaving the last mile and a half or thereabouts to turn into the built-up areas where the wind wasn’t as bad. According to the weather forecast the day ahead would be miserably wet and windy. I would stay indoors and out of it .

Shirley Anne

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More time

Given a three-day break from my project because of foul weather I had more time for other things. Aside from working on some project at home being it large or very small I do little else apart from playing my guitar or exercising in some way. There are other things I like to do but it isn’t always possible to enjoy them. One thing I do like is cooking meals and baking cakes or other baked comestibles. We were truly having some bad weather during the last days of summer with high winds and plenty of rain. On days such as these it can be frustrating having to stay indoors for long periods without something to occupy. I prefer the outdoors but I cannot remain outside too long with nothing to do either. Walks are good but they don’t last all day and every day but I try to make them last as long as possible. It was Friday 21 st near the end of the season and Autumn was upon us. I like Autumn but not so much the foul weather that often accompanies it. I was up early as usual and wanted to do some baking. Our two fruit-producing apple trees have supplied us with lots of apples this year and of a decent size. Up until now the fruit has been on the small size but the trees have finally matured and the apples are larger. They are eating apples as opposed to baking apples though they are still a little on the acidic side. This means they can be baked without them falling apart. Eating apples are not suitable for baking as a rule so we are fortunate at least this year to be able to use them for baking. I baked a single apple pie and with the left-over pastry a small apple-filled pasty.

Before I could make the pie I had to make some short-crust pastry. Now it might seem strange but until that day I had never made short-crust pastry in my life. I have often made crumble but never took that extra step to convert it to pastry. All that is needed is some water sprinkled in slowly a little at a time whilst mixing followed by a little kneading and rolling out with a roller and the crumble is transformed into pastry! An hour or so later and the pie and pasty were done. Although they look a little pale in the picture due to the flash photography they were pale brown in colour. They did taste nice I have to say and made a change from rock cakes, sponges and scones!

Shirley Anne

Three day break?

After completing around one third of the next stage of the garden project I was ready to bring that part to a conclusion on Friday morning (20 th). However it didn’t work out that way. I had been for my early morning walk and was feeling a little tired but I had the weekly shopping to do. I went out at three o’clock and was back before five which gave me plenty of time to rest up before doing the shopping at eight o’clock. It made no difference, I remained a little tired and when I returned home from the shopping all I wanted to do was sit down. A muscular pain in my left buttock didn’t help so sitting down offered some respite. I needed to eat something too for I had not eaten much for breakfast. I made myself a sandwich and sat with E whilst she had her breakfast. We watched some television and checked the weather forecast. It was about to rain and according to the forecast would continue to do so for the following three days also. It would be Monday therefore before I could finish the second stage of the project, that is filling the bottom of the trench with concrete. The previous work had set hard overnight.

E asked where she could best do some spray-painting and I suggested outside in the fresh air! Aside from the dangers of inhaling the paint it would most probably dry faster outdoors. Fortunately the high winds we had on Wednesday had subsided so painting outside was possible but only if she did it within the hour. Rain was due about then. She was spray-painting egg shell halves. I cleared a space on the concrete base behind the garage where I had been putting old bricks and rubble. Why paint eggs shells I hear you ask? When dry they would be broken into tiny pieces to be used in art work when she makes her greetings cards. The paint would be touch-dry in twenty minutes and take twenty-four hours to set hard. Twenty minutes later they were dry and we packed them into a cardboard box. It began to rain right on time! I would it appeared be getting the three-day break from work!

Shirley Anne

Need sand?

For about two hours on Wednesday it went very windy and although some rain was a possibility at the same time it remained dry. Around nine-thirty I decided to take a chance and carry on with the work in the garden. First of all I made a template with which to measure the depth of the trench as I went along filling it with concrete to ensure it was filled to the correct level. I pulled out the cement mixer with its stand and placed it near the small greenhouse where I usually place it when working with it in the garden for there is a power outlet close by. Taking stock of the materials I had in the garage I saw that I would need to purchase more but first of all I wanted to use what I had left of the cement. I was able to mix two loads of concrete before the cement ran out… 

It enabled me to fill part of the trench on the right-hand-side which was almost a third of the whole trench. I tidied everything away and drove to the builders merchant to replenish my stock of cement (3 bags), granite dust (granno, also 3 bags) and one bag of 10 mm granite aggregate as I already had some in stock. The guy asked if I needed sand but of course I didn’t, I have a garage full of bagged sand (see older posts). I hoped to complete the concrete base the next day weather permitting.

Shirley Anne

Stage complete

It was quite a windy day on Tuesday (18 th) but very warm too. The remnants of the latest hurricane had wended its way across the Pond but had fizzled out somewhat. Even so the wind was quite strong. Earlier I had been for one of my regular walks but the wind at that time wasn’t strong. About an hour after returning home it began to rain though only lightly but it was enough to keep me from continuing with the lawn project. Around ten o’clock the rain had stopped and the sun was shining so I put on my working gear and set about finishing off the first stage of the project, the final third part of digging out the small trench and putting in some hardcore.

As you can see from the picture that stage is now complete. The removed soil from the grass sods was scattered on the lawn itself where there was a small dip near The Mound. The rest of the soil was put in the raised bed in which were growing some potatoes until a few days earlier. They have been dug out and eaten! What didn’t go in that bed was spread over the other beds. The large bag which I had filled with soil a couple of days ago will be used in the front garden later. The second stage will be to cover the hardcore in the bottom of the trench with a concrete mix. Everything is gradually taking shape.

Shirley Anne

Above all others

Meditation (Micah 5:2–5)
Jesus’ greatness now reaches to the ends of the earth. And those who know him recognize him as faithful and true, one who has not taken his position by force (like so many earthly kings have), but who was chosen from before the beginning of time. And starting that day in Israel, the king first came as a baby, born into the line of Jewish nobility (because it was from among the Israelites that God had decreed a king would come), and yet from a long line of sinful people so he could identify with us and so that we would choose him too. This was the first time he came, not with force, but with the gentleness of an infant.

But the second time will be different. The second time, it will be sudden, and no one will miss it. Almighty God will open the gate of heaven, and Jesus will burst forth as a king, riding triumphant on a white stallion (not a donkey this time), with the armies of heaven following. Our great conquering king will destroy his enemies once and for all, waging and winning a holy war and ruling over all his people. Then he will reveal to a world that has rejected him that he truly is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will be absolutely sovereign over all people—the lost and the saved—and every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that he is who we accept and claim that he is—Jesus, Christ, Lord.

Prayer
Faithful Father, thank you for the hope of the second coming of Jesus Christ in glory and power. Help me to live in anticipation of his coming. Help me to trust you in the things I do not understand. And when life seems to be a mess, help me to remember that your work here on earth remains, for the time being, an unfinished project, and that you always complete what you begin. Help me to cultivate an eternal perspective as I journey through this temporal arena. May I learn to pursue the eternal reality of the unseen future over the current reality of the visible present. And may you always be the object of my deepest love so that I will pursue you above all else. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

Taken from Once a Day 25 Days of Advent

Shirley Anne

Pests

There are a few things which really annoy me in life but one of the most annoying are insect pests and especially flying insects. It seems to me that some of them think I am the source of their next meal by the way I am not left alone. Some insect pests can be very irritating and can lead me to abandon what I am doing because of their not leaving me in peace. In the summer months flies and wasps buzz about my person and the flies especially like using my exposed flesh to land on. I have to apply lotions to deter them but it isn’t always successful. Creams with lavender in them seem to work to a point as long as you like the smell of lavender which I do. Now that Autumn is upon us we have more damp days especially in the mornings which appears to favour certain insects like midges and mosquitoes. I know first hand how annoying it is to be pestered by these two particular insect pests having experienced both offenders several times in my life. I remember being in Scotland on a camping holiday with family and being pestered so much by mosquitoes and midges forcing us to duck inside to get away from them. The only places free from them are either freezing cold or extremely hot and dry. Unfortunately I live in a temperate region where they like dwelling too!  On Monday 17 th I resumed work on the lawn project spending just two hours but it was early in the morning just after six-thirty. The air was still damp and right on cue whilst I was digging out the sods and cleaning off the soil from them the midges and mosquitoes arrived. I was wearing overalls and gloves so only my face was exposed. They appear to like my face! I got so annoyed I returned indoors to fetch the fly spray (it kills mosquitoes too) and sprayed the air around me. Normally the spray would have dissipated immediately but because there was no wind it lingered. I wasn’t pestered anymore. I got this far which was enough for the day.

The bag of soil was getting too full but rather than fetch another bag I deposited most of what I had dug up on the day in one of the flowerbeds. I could have continued and completed the digging but I have no deadline to keep….and it is hard work.

Shirley Anne

Here I go again

It was stop and go day on Saturday (15 th) as I thought about beginning work on the lawn project. I had been for a walk earlier hoping to miss the predicted rain and was fortunate in succeeding by arriving back home just before it began to fall. It was supposed to be light rain lasting for an hour or so. At first it was light and that gave me the opportunity to dig out the remainder of the potato crop we had begun to harvest a week earlier. It was then that it began to rain heavily. When it ceased raining I planned to put on my overalls and begin working on the lawn but I had to wait an hour or more before that could happen. This is how far I got…

I spent less than two hours working as I didn’t want to work too long that day. I cut the grass with the spade each side of the cobbles before removing them to the grass in the middle of the plot. I cut the grass to a depth of a few centimetres and took it over to the bag into which I was going to put the soil. I sat down alongside the wheelbarrow and removed the soil from the grass sods throwing the grass into the wheelie bin. I repeated the operation until all the grass was removed and then dug out the soil putting that in the bag with the soil from the grass sods. It was the same bag I had emptied of sand a day earlier. Despite the bags being large it will take two of them and perhaps three to take all the soil that will be removed during the work. Later I filled the bottom of the trench I had dug with some hardcore which can just be seen on the right side in the picture. Hopefully I would be able to finish digging the trench all the way round on Monday and Tuesday. That would mark the completion of the first stage.

Shirley Anne

Joking apart



So I was at the pub one day for the first time in ages when a group of friends asked where I had been during the previous few months. I have to say at this point that I no longer visit the pub on a regular basis and haven’t done for a couple of years. I had given up drinking alcohol and the attraction from then on was lost. I do go there occasionally for a meal, usually during the day and almost never in the evening. In fact I hardly go anywhere in the evenings now. On arriving there one late afternoon I was invited over to sit with the friends who had asked the question. ‘Haven’t seen you for ages, where have you been?’ they asked. ‘Oh’, I said in reply, ‘they don’t let me out after six o’clock’ I continued. Laughter all round then I told them the real reason, I had lost all interest in spending too much of my time sitting drinking. I didn’t mention that I enjoy socialising with people for fear of being tempted to visit more often but they already know that I like socialising. What fun is there in sitting drinking soft drinks whilst watching other people slowly getting drunk? I am what you might call quick-witted in that I am quick in responding to things people say to me with quips that make them laugh. I am a joker if you like. People can be so serious it spoils their character. Others may not be serious enough when it matters most. You’ve got to laugh at life and the odd situations we find ourselves in. Miserable people can bring you down. It is best to be ‘middle of the road’ but be careful you don’t get run over! So I like to joke about things and see the lighter side of life. It is a well-proven fact that stress shortens one’s life and causes all sorts of ailments. Stress increases hormone levels and too much production of certain hormones has harmful effects. ‘Chill out’ as some say, ‘Take it easy’, ‘Stop worrying’ and ‘Have a break’ we all know but do we take notice? We would be wise to do so. I once knew a guy who laughed constantly, always telling jokes and smiling; he looked far younger than his years. I am told I look far younger than I am and I wonder why? It isn’t all about joking of course but a little fun didn’t do anyone any harm. 

Shirley Anne



Sand and clutter

Before any work could be done on the lawn project I had to figure where I would put the soil after digging it out to allow the cobbles to be laid. Some of the soil would be replaced once the grass had been removed from it. I decided the only suitable place to store it would be where the second bag of sand had been placed. I had removed the sand from the cellar floor whilst constructing the pit in there (see earlier posts). That meant I had to put the sand into small bags and store it in the garage as I had done with the first large bag. Some of that sand has since been used but there was still a large amount unused. I spent some time on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning re-bagging and removing the sand from outside. 

…and putting it into the garage with the rest….

It may not seem a lot but there are seventeen bags there in the picture above with two more behind the wheelbarrow.There are also bags of grit, granite chippings and cement there too! The garage is getting quite cluttered as you can see from these pictures….

The wooden crate and the blue coloured pallet were used in the delivery of the cobbles. In this country these things are never collected and we have to dispose of them ourselves but sometimes they do come in handy. The timber can be used and the large bags used in delivery of sand, soil and other things can be used too as you can see. We use this garage for storing most things we use outdoors for there is more space in it than the second garage as well as it being more accessible to both front and rear gardens. Whilst access to the gardens is easy from the second garage access to the rear garden is more restricted and only suitable for pedestrian activity. Just after I had completed the removal of the sand the rain came down heavily. Typical UK weather…

Shirley Anne