I gave in

We had another bright and sunny day on Thursday but it was bitterly cold outside with an offshore wind making it feel that much colder. Despite the weather I got myself ready to take a walk, yes, you guessed it, down toward the beach. Brave as I am as far as the cold weather is concerned even I had to admit to feeling uncomfortable as I plodded along through the sand dunes trying to steer clear of the biting wind. All along the coast hereabouts we have sand lizards and Natterjack toads (  http://www.countryfile.com/days-out/natterjack-toads-southport-lancashire  ) both of which are protected species. In among the dunes there are areas called ‘slacks’, wet places, as well as large ponds which are dotted between the dunes. These are the breeding grounds for the toads, not that I saw any toads of course as they would be hibernating out of sight until Spring. The lizards are even more inconspicuous, even in Summer. As I walked along I noticed the surface of the ponds were partly frozen in places showing just how cold it really was. The air temperature at that time was around 3 or 4 deg C but the wind-chill factor made it feel nearer zero. The ground is often frosty at this time of year despite the higher air temperature. Although there was some shelter from the wind it nevertheless made its presence felt. I walked perhaps a mile in total through the dunes and decided it was too cold there so I moved away from the shore to more sheltered places. I don’t usually feel the effects of the cold weather when I am wrapped up in suitable clothing and although I wear a skirt my legs never seem to feel cold. I wear thick knee-length stockings which I let drop to my ankles and my walking boots and it is enough. However my hands can get cold even though I may be wearing fleece-lined gloves. The main problem is the wind. If it isn’t windy, which is very rare in Southport, the coldness is less noticeable. I might have been a little tired on Thursday morning but I cut my walk short and returned home after only an hour.

Shirley Anne


Rivalry, competition and rest

I finally got up early on Wednesday after a few days of getting up so late I’d missed breakfast. It was a classical ‘cold and frosty morning’ with some thin fog hanging about but the day turned out sunny throughout. It was cold though and barely above zero degrees (Celsius) and in fact it never rose above three. I watched the blackbirds foraging for food around the spot I had left some grounded up nuts and monkey nuts (in their shells) for both birds and squirrels. At least my plant pots still had their loose bark on top intact after I had placed some sticks into them to prevent the birds from landing upon them. They had been tossing the bark all over the place beforehand. Still, they had shifted some leaves in the borders and on to the path in their rummaging for insects. The nuts I had left for the squirrels had all disappeared so I grabbed a handful and went into the garden and put them in the same spot. There was no sign of a squirrel during the time I watched from indoors but one then two magpies came down and started to sample the nuts. They had to break the shells first but that seemed to come naturally to them. I decided to return to the garden with a handful of loose seeds and spread them around whilst chasing off the magpies with their bounty. There were still enough nuts left for the squirrels should they put in an appearance. I returned again indoors and waited to see what would happen. It took some time but finally the blackbirds returned and ate their fill of seeds whilst a squirrel, probably the same one I have seen a few times recently, appeared and began eating the nuts before burying a few here and there in the border. The magpies didn’t return but a few jays or jackdaws came down to eat the seeds. They however left the nuts alone. I supposed they didn’t know there were nuts inside the shells or they were too lazy to try to break them open. The competition and rivalry can be intense when the weather is cold and the food is scarce. That’s why we like to put food out for them when the weather is cold. We haven’t used the bird table recently because of the high winds we’ve had. I want to make a slight alteration to the table in order to keep the larger birds from using it. They will be able to feed on the ground. Later in the day I watched the antics of the squirrel for quite some time as it wandered around.

Nuts (film)
Nuts (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just after breakfast I received a call from a regular customer asking if I could investigate a faulty floodlight. She wasn’t sure if I was back at work after the holiday but I told her I was taking a three-week break. nevertheless I agreed to look at the problem on Friday to fall in-line with her schedule. So much for a three-week break, it’s nuts I tell you, nuts! Later I had just finished lunch when our next-door neighbour rang asking if I could repair a faulty hinge on her chest freezer. I was there five minutes later with my toolbox. A hinge pin had simply worked its way out so it was an easy thing to put it back. When I returned home I made myself a coffee and what do you know, the squirrel was back again and running about all over the place. By now it was getting slightly foggy again as the sun sank behind the houses. It had turned colder too.

Shirley Anne

The little ones

Another lie-in on Tuesday saw me putting my feet on the floor at 10 o’clock and missing breakfast once again. That didn’t matter, what was more important was I had a good night’s sleep even though I didn’t actually rest easy until 5 o’clock! It’s all to do with a change in routine, not having to get up for work and not getting to bed at the right time take their toll. I have to make the effort to settle things down before I am available for work in a couple of week’s time. When I retire none of this will matter but will I like it? Probably not but I will wait until I have crossed that bridge. So I was late getting downstairs and a banana and fruit drink would have to do until lunch a couple of hours later.Red Squirrel Gazing out of the kitchen window a grey squirrel caught my eye and I spent a little time watching what it did. It was scampering about in the border and on to the lawn until after a few minutes it went over to have a drink from the bucket beneath the greenhouse which collects rain water. It comes more useful in the warm months of the year when there is little or no rain. All we do is take out the leaves that have fallen into it. The squirrel then ran up the holly tree and ended up in the branches of the naked sycamore behind it. Just then two magpies perched themselves in the tree but one flew off immediately the squirrel appeared. The other one played cat-and-mouse with the squirrel who kept chasing it off the branches. The squirrel got its way and the magpie flew off, probably for a bit of peace. While all this was going on there were two male blackbirds making a mess on the path by the lamp-post at the other end of the garden. They were doing what many birds do when searching for food, shifting fallen leaves to see what is hiding beneath them. They seemed to be having some success at my expense for it would be me sweeping up the scattered leaves later. They do the same with the bark we have in a couple of plant pots, in fact later in the day I had to put the removed bark back into the pots and take some preventative measures against it happening again. It is usually the little ones which make the most mess. I inserted some plastic sticks in the pots to deter the birds from landing on them until the flowers have grown tall enough for them to be removed. The pots contain tulip and daffodil bulbs some of which have already started to emerge. I think there are a few snowdrops in them too. When the squirrel had moved away I went outside and placed some more nuts for it to gather on its return. They were gone by the end of the day. Before I returned indoors I attached the new flag and raised it to the top of the pole but it hung there quite limply as there was hardly any wind at all. Finally I went indoors and prepared another pan of chicken and vegetable stew enough for two meals. After lunch, an hour later, I decided to go for a walk. The day was far colder than the previous day but there was hardly and wind. I was surprised how many people were out doing the same despite the cold. E had been out all afternoon and didn’t return home until early evening. Apart from my walk I stayed at home all day.

Shirley Anne

Nothing going on?

I went to bed rather tired on Saturday and though I cannot remember the exact time I nodded off it was probably about eleven o’clock but then I awoke just before two to answer Nature‘s call. I awoke again just before four for the same reason. I finally arose around eight. I don’t usually have sleep patterns like that, I usually sleep for four to five hours and that’s it, I get up. It was Sunday and I had nothing planned for the day. I’d had a busy week so it was fitting that Sunday was an absolute do nothing day for I knew that during the coming week I would be busy. There were already two electrical jobs scheduled and there was more work to do in the garden. Who said gardening was easy? It isn’t but it is pleasurable as I have discovered over the past couple of years. Sunday was a sunny day but there were plenty of clouds floating by too which blocked the sunlight from time to time. There was also an intermittent breeze which bordered on the annoying, especially when the sun was blotted out. I went out into the garden, that is the rear garden, I usually mean the rear garden when I say that as the front garden is not private and is also more exposed. I do spend some time in the front garden but it is seldom to relax there even though there is a bench to sit on. I sit on it only occasionally. I sat for a few minutes on the other bench in the rear garden before taking a stroll. Our little robin was flitting about on the lawn catching insects but no other birds paid me a visit though I could hear many of them off it the trees somewhere. Even an owl was still hooting and it was late morning! I eventually found myself sitting on the patio steps which are next to the flowerbed I have been working in lately. There is an off-cut of artificial grass on one of the steps acting I suppose as a mat. I lifted it to clear away what was beneath it before sitting down. Well what was beneath it? Wood lice, lots of them, a family to be precise for that is how they live, in small family communities from the largest to the tiniest. They all darted away as they do when disturbed and found somewhere else to hide. I knew they would be back the following day though. I sat down and watched Nature at work though at first one would think that nothing was going on there was plenty of activity. The first thing I noticed was the insect buzzing around my ear which soon disappeared when waved at. Then the hornets and hoverflies flitting about looking for a meal and the bees busy working away gathering pollen on the newly planted plants I had put there were more noticeable from my low seated position. I was admiring the plants themselves, trees, bushes, flowers and flowering shrubs all standing in the warm sunshine but I was also admiring my handiwork and what I had done recently as well as over the years too. My eyes turned to the ground and I could see ants at work and my eyes followed them as they climbed the nearest newly planted tree.
English: Lasius Niger (Black garden ant) on a ...
Lasius Niger (Black garden ant) on a plant. Getting ants to sit still long enough to make a good picture is a challenge if you don’t use bait. Here, I’ve placed a droplet of honey on the stem. That kept this worker female busy for several minutes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What were they after? Then I saw the small flowers among the trees foliage and the ants were there feeding and probably collecting for their colony. The problem with ants is that they are destructive and their populations grow to enormous proportions and they become a pest. I cannot remember the last time I was able to sit on the grass without being overrun by ants. So there are insects which are tolerable and insects which are the complete opposite! Whichever way I look at it there is always some going on, especially in the garden.

Shirley Anne

Out of sight

Blackbird (Turdus merula), singing male. Bogen...
Blackbird (Turdus merula), singing male. Bogense havn, Funen, Denmark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I promised myself that I would take some respite from my work at home for a while and so I took the whole weekend off. If I can extend that I thought to myself I might just do so but knowing me it wouldn’t be long before I found something to do. As I said in the previous post there is work to be done anyway. Saturday was one of those days when the weather was very changeable, one minute warm and sunny and the next cooler and overcast. There were just too many clouds being blown in from the west. There was always the treat of rain but it didn’t materialise. The following day however was to be different, rain all day long according to the forecast. I potted about at home during the morning but in the afternoon I decided to sit out on the patio with my guitar for a time playing quietly and listening to some bird song. All was pleasant and peaceful until I realised the bird song had suddenly changed. I looked in the direction I thought the sound was coming from and I saw a blackbird flying about and squawking as if in a panic. He kept flying in and out of an ivy-covered tree over the wall in the next garden and then as I watched I saw him dart into the ivy chasing out a magpie in the process. I watched as the magpie flew across our garden and out of sight between the houses with the male and female blackbirds chasing close behind. The magpie had one of their young in its beak. Its fate was sealed, there would be no chance of a rescue by its parents. I thought how sad but that is nature that is the way things are. A couple of weeks ago whilst sitting on the patio I saw a few seagulls chasing a sparrow hawk and on another day four or five jays chasing a seagull. It appeared they were all trying to protect their young. On Friday I noticed there was a lot of black bird feathers lying about on one corner of the lawn. They were presumably from an unfortunate (black) bird having been caught by some predator, probably a cat! It all goes on in the background usually out of sight but sometimes in full view.

Shirley Anne

A frolicking

The Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) ...
The Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) is an example of wildlife. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday I guess was the best day of the week just passed though Saturday came a close second. It stayed sunny all day long and for most of the day I sat out on the patio, only returning indoors for lunch. Later in the afternoon E joined me. She said she had things to do which kept her inside the house but I took that with a pinch of salt. I keep telling her that she should make the most of being outdoors whilst the weather permits. We sat and chatted which is nice. It has been a long time since we chatted together for any period of time and it was always a bone of contention with me that we didn’t talk enough. E was always too busy but lately she seems to have changed and is more open to just sitting and chatting. Anyway we were out on the patio, she was facing the sun and I was facing the opposite way looking into the garden as I’d had enough of the sun in my face. I mentioned quietly that a squirrel was hopping about on the perimeter wall beneath the trees. She turned around slowly to look. After a minute or so it disappeared into the ivy growing up the tree. Now I eat nuts and every day I have a handful of them and E suggested I get some and put them on the wall then sit back and wait to see what happens. However, I went indoors and brought out a packet of hazelnuts which E had bought some time ago with which to make something but they had now passed their sell-by date. I wasn’t going to use nuts from the packet I eat! I put some in a couple of places on top of the wall and returned to the patio. We sat there for a minute or so then the squirrel appeared, ate a nut then disappeared only to return again a minute or so later to repeat the routine. After a while we didn’t see the squirrel and we went back into the house but soon after E called to me to see the squirrel again appear on the wall then another two appeared up the tree frolicking and playing about. There were three of them, then four, then five. We were beginning to think there was an army of them. We watched them from inside the house for around forty minutes as they darted about among the branches. We knew there was a nest in one of the trees and we often have seen a squirrel in the garden, on the walls or up in the trees but to see so many at once has been a rarity. There are quite a number of trees in the area behind the house so I suppose it shouldn’t be unusual that we have so many squirrels too.

Shirley Anne

Taking the time

English: Flowerbed at Clough This flowerbed is...
Flowerbed at Clough This flowerbed is on the verge beside the Newcastle/Dundrum road at Clough. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a patch or two of the flowerbed next to the patio which was beginning to change colour between the plants from brown to green. Over the last few days I had thought about doing something about it but other things kept getting in the way. On Sunday morning I was out on the patio with my Bible and a cup of coffee enjoying the morning sunshine. When I had finished reading I began to let my eyes wander as usual and I was admiring and appreciating the wonder of God’s creation in nature. The sun lit up a little more than half the garden and was forcing its rays through the branches of the tall trees towering on the northern perimeter which face the rear of the house. I was sitting facing  east and the sun shone directly upon me. It was beginning to get warmer though the temperature hadn’t dropped much below 18 deg. C throughout the night. It was humid too and that made it feel even warmer. I glanced over to the flowerbed on my left and finally decided to get out some gardening tools and get down to making the soil brown again. Grass had decided to grow there and was becoming out of hand. I got down on my hands and knees using a gardening stool designed for the purpose and began the slow process of removing the grass. After an hour it all looked fine but I was beginning to wilt! I tidied everything away and went indoors for a drink but had to return outside to cool off. I was hoping I would get the chance to mow the lawn before the rain set in once more as was promised by the weather forecast. However, the lawn was still damp with dew and the rain we had the night before and because the humidity was high it wasn’t drying off as fast as I would have liked. I went indoors and prepared lunch and later returned to the garden to check the lawn. It was almost completely dry so I took the mower out from the garage and set about mowing it. It took me a mere fifteen minutes. The petrol mower has been a real help in mowing the lawn which used to take me almost two hours to do with the electric mower. That was only because I had to use extension leads and re position them constantly and also because the mower was much smaller too. Finally I was done. I put everything away then spent some more time out on the patio for it was still warm, though less sunny and by now there was a slight breeze blowing from time to time. August is the month for ants and also for dandelion seeds floating about and looking for somewhere to land so that next year we can be sure to have them growing out of the lawn and flowerbeds. We cannot do much about the annual cycle of events, we can only hope to keep things in check. I sat there thinking about God’s wonderful creation again and how diverse it is. I can see God’s hand in everything and feel privileged to be a part of it. How anyone can think it all came about by chance and evolution defies logic. Despite it all appearing to be chaotic and without purpose it is far from that. When you come to know God for yourself it all becomes quite clear. I am taking the time to appreciate it more and more. It did rain later, a lot. Whilst I was sitting on the patio thoughts about making changes there crossed my mind and I have made some preliminary plans to hopefully make them happen in the future.

Shirley Anne

More rain

English: rain clouds Looking out to sea at the...
Rain clouds Looking out to sea at the rain cloud that had just soaked me on a winter sunday walk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If we are to have much more sunshine and warm days it doesn’t look like it is on the menu for the next three or four days as I write this on Saturday afternoon. The sun has been shining this afternoon but there has been lots of cloud cover too. It rained mostly during the morning but the rain is supposed to be returning by nightfall. Sunday looks a little better but thereafter more rain is forecast right up to and including Wednesday. Soon I will need a dry day so that the lawn can be mowed, it doesn’t need it just yet fortunately but it is a case of doing it when I can. I might do it tomorrow, Sunday if it is to be as dry as they say it will be. I made the short trip into the village in the morning in order to deposit some money in the bank but I didn’t linger and walked back home as soon as I left the bank. Although I had an umbrella with me and although it was raining very lightly I didn’t bother opening it but by the time I had reached a hundred metres from home the rain became much heavier. Part of the last few metres I had tree cover so wasn’t bothered too much until I got to the gate when I had to make a dash for the front door. Another few seconds later and I’d have been soaked through! After a late lunch I spent an hour or so out on the patio. It was warm, a little humid and sunny and I sat there watching the numerous bees making their daily trips to a large flowering plant we have in the border close-by. I don’t know the name of the plant but there are several tall pale green stems which I would describe as being lime green, green mixed with white but toward the tops the minute leaves fade into a deep purple colour which are the flowering part of the plant. There isn’t much strength in the plant’s stems and it tends to bend over unless there is some sort of support provided. We have some bamboo canes to help in that support. For quite a number of weeks now the bees have been visiting the plant to collect nectar. There are other flowering plants nearby and some are even growing intermingled with it, Mombrecia being one of them but the bees seem to prefer the purple flowers. The ants are still busy and as soon as the sun comes out so do they. Soon it will be Autumn, four weeks away isn’t a long time is it?

Shirley Anne

I just couldn’t be bothered!

The Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) ...
The Douglas Squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) is an example of wildlife. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am going through one of my phases lately and I know the real reason for it. I had been working all day on Wednesday and was feeling well and truly tired by the time I had come back home. After my evening meal and some quiet time I was feeling quite refreshed though when I finally did get to bed I found it no problem in getting to sleep. I had decided not to take on board any work for Thursday so that I could have some respite from it all. At the beginning of October I had arranged for the purchase of another thirteen weeks of advertising space in my local newspaper and was informed at the time that there would be an annual increase in the charge for that service applied on the first Wednesday in the month of November, five weeks later. I explained that the excess amount I would have to pay could be taken through my credit card as they have my details on record. The extra amount would be in the region of £14 or so for the eight weeks which fall under the new pricing. This Wednesday I received a call from the girl looking after advertising sales reminding me that she would be debiting my account for the extra charges. On Thursday evening I discovered that my credit card had been debited by £62. Obviously a mistake. I had to go shopping on Thursday morning for electrical materials for van stock and toiletries and undergarments for myself so after breakfast I drove to the newspaper offices to sort out the problem with my account. It had indeed been a simple mistake as the debit should only have been £14. They would credit my account for the £48 overpayments. It is just as well that I keep a watchful eye on my banks accounting and card accounts for I could easily have missed the overpayment. I left their offices and drove on to the electrical supplier to purchase what I needed. I left my van there and walked back into the town about a half-mile away to do my other shopping. Before returning to my vehicle I spent some time in a coffee-house over a large Cappuccino. It was almost lunchtime by the time I had returned home. After chatting with E about my morning she showed me a couple of movies she had taken of the rear garden from inside the house through the window. She had noticed a squirrel foraging for bedding materials and food and decided to catch it on her iPad. We have seen it a few times recently and it appears to have made a home for itself in the huge ivy-covered tree on the other side of the wall in a neighbour’s garden. We have a small oak tree which has been producing acorns for a couple of years so I am guessing the squirrels have noticed that. There is a plant pot or two in the corner of our garden which hold long-leafed plants that have died back for the winter. The dead leaves were being taken for bedding. Soon we were having lunch after which E went to do the weekly shopping with her mum. During lunch I mentioned that I was feeling bored and E looked at me as if to say ‘Don’t be thinking about working, you are supposed to be resting’. She didn’t say anything but I know she was thinking it! When she had left the house I went into the garden and swept over the newly laid path at the rear of the mound for something to do (you’ll have to read about the mound in my summertime posts). I then opened the back of my van to do some tidying up in there and to sort out all the materials I have acquired over the last few days. When I returned indoors I was still restless but ended up playing the guitar for a time to relieve the boredom. Trouble was that didn’t work! I find I get so bored doing nothing or next to nothing that I have to do something. I just cannot be bothered sitting about watching television or reading a book and even going shopping is a bore sometimes. All I really want to do is work at something at the moment. Well, the squirrel is busy why can’t I be? The calls still keep coming in.

Shirley Anne

I didna mean ta

Mousie! (Photo credit: epicnom)

Wee, sleekit, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry Man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle,
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen-icker in a thrave ‘S a sma’ request:
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ wast,
An’ weary Winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald.
To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But Och! I backward cast my e’e,
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

Robbie Burns

Robbie Burns wrote this poem after disturbing a mouse’s nest with his plough.

Well I didn’t mean to disturb the wee ones but as I was working away and digging out the mound on Wednesday morning two little mice scurried out from beneath the very large slab of stone I was lifting. I started working in the garden before 8 o’clock in the morning but not digging out the mound. I had decided to rake over the area we call the vegetable patch between the garage and the patio. It is quite a large area and there was a mound of soil which we had put there last year whilst doing other work but never got around to spreading it out. It took me more than half an hour to spread the mound over the patch of ground using a rake. I then began digging out the other mound. I have reached that part of the said mound which seems to contain most of the builders rubble. I must have removed another thirty bricks as well as a few pieces of concrete and natural stone in the space of an hour. I also filled another two large bags with smaller pieces of rubble. The two little mice ran toward the brick walls where they meet and into the crack that has developed there. I think they must have dropped down into the neighbour’s garden. Shortly afterwards I stopped working in the garden for the day and packed away the tools.

Shirley Anne

We are totally outnumbered

English: The woodlice did not stand a chance.
English: The woodlice did not stand a chance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

E and I have been very busy shifting great slabs of stone and moving buried chunks of stone from our ‘Mound’. It is very strenuous work and especially tiring in the warm weather we have been experiencing lately but jobs do not get done by themselves do they? As we overturned each stone and slab we were faced with countless numbers of woodlice scurrying back into the darkness, There must be thousands of them in the garden, in fact probably millions of them and not only woodlice but snails, slugs, centipedes, millipedes, beetles and spiders in great supply, a veritable feast for hedgehogs and birds. We don’t get hedgehogs in the rear garden at least as it is surrounded by high walls but we do of course get plenty of birds. Whenever we go indoors for any length of time many small birds show up, tits, robins, sparrows all take a peek at the bare soil looking for some delicacy or another. One of the things we have seen little of has been worms which I find strange but perhaps the reason for that is the sheer number of rocks, stones and slabs in the ground, after all worms like to burrow deep. I got to thinking just how much we as human beings are totally outnumbered by bugs and flying insects of all kinds. I suppose we should be grateful that they are not the same size as we are or even larger! We look at our gardens and most of the time we don’t see that many insects until we see them eating our plants and the fruit they produce or swarming all over the place like ants do and making a nuisance of themselves. Imagine a world where the ants are the size of elephants! Imagine woodlice that size trying to hide beneath a rock or maybe they wouldn’t need to? Perhaps we would be the ones scurrying into the dark when disturbed.

Shirley Anne

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Disaster Bay
Disaster Bay (Photo credit: kerriemv)

Catastrophes happen all over the world. Unless you have been holidaying on another planet recently you can’t have escaped hearing the reports of the aftermath of the enormous typhoon which caused tremendous devastation in the islands of the Philippines. Many thousands of people lost their lives there and most of the buildings in some towns have been razed to the ground. People who survived the storm have been left homeless and have little or nothing to eat. In such conditions in a warm climate disease can spread so easily making an unbearable existence even more so. In some places around the world similar or smaller catastrophes happen on a regular basis, even annually and yet people insist in continuing to live there. It is easy to say that people should move away to somewhere safer of course but many things can prevent that, work, finances, family or simply a willingness to remain where one has roots. In the so-called ‘tornado alley’ of the mid-west USA many places are hit by storms every year yet people still live there. I was watching a television program recently called ‘The Raging Planet‘ which reported on a few such natural disasters and the devastation they caused and wondered why people pick up the pieces and start again in the same place knowing that at some point in the future the same thing will happen. New Orleans lies mostly below sea level and despite the attempts to hold back the regular flood waters of the Mississippi  River the city is still bombarded from the sea and lies in the path of many hurricanes from that direction. Conditions are hardly likely to improve and in fact may get worse given that global warming is supposed to be a reality with the prospect of rising sea levels. Perhaps they should abandon the city and start again somewhere safer. Perhaps catastrophes and unnecessary loss of life can be avoided one day, if we’ve a mind to make it happen.

Shirley Anne

Good place to live?

Female black widow spider guarding an egg case...
Female black widow spider guarding an egg case – Species Latrodectus mactans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People in this country are good at moaning about the weather. I can guarantee that most folk that I meet and talk with in my day will have something to say about the weather. If it is raining they will call the weather ‘lousy’ or ‘rotten’ and many lately I suppose would be justified seeing as they’ve been suffering because of the floods in parts of the country. If it is cold, windy or whatever, it will be mentioned. When the weather is warm and sunny then everyone is happy but still the comments come. Many people love this country and wouldn’t give ‘tuppence’ to live somewhere else but many long to leave these shores for warmer climes. When you think about it this country is a great place to live and if you exclude the potential threats through criminal activity it is a very safe place to live. Other countries have the same social problems as we do, there are criminals all over the world wanting to live off the back of society without making any useful contributions. A thief is a thief no matter where you live. Living in a foreign land can be fraught with danger, depending upon where that country is but it isn’t solely from the human population. Deadly insects and dangerous animals are a serious threat to the unwary in far-off places. Away from the big cities wild animals such as bears, wolves, crocodiles, snakes and spiders are ready to do you harm if you are not careful. The larger animals may be easier to avoid but the smaller ones are not. Imagine having to check for the presence of a tarantula or black widow spider each time you open a box or a cupboard or move some item of furniture in your own house! People get bitten by snakes when they forget basic principles of safety. Going to sleep in a tropical country can leave you totally vulnerable to mosquito bites unless precautions are taken. One thing you can say about this country is that we are not, generally speaking, in danger from its wildlife. Wolves and bears no longer roam the countryside and we do not have any insect species which pose a threat in the normal course of events. The insects which live here are more of a nuisance than a threat although they can be responsible for spreading disease if we give them the opportunity. I would think that it is only the insects we should be wary of and that goes for anywhere in the world except in the coldest places. I am not forgetting plant life  and the various poisonous plants we have in this country but they pose less of a threat unless we eat them or manhandle one or two of them such as foxgloves, laburnum flowers, certain fungi and wild berries and others. If we really think about it we are open to all kinds of threats from nature and there is no real place we can go to avoid it but some places are more dangerous than others. No, there is a lot to be said for living in this country and I for one think it is a good place to live, don’t you?

Shirley Anne

Celebration? Not really.

Birthday celebration
Birthday celebration (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I mentioned the other day that Sunday the 14th marked the anniversary of my operation and full transition as a woman. To the average person that event means very little but for those who actually have to go through the whole process of transition it means a lot. It means the culmination of a life ambition to correct Nature‘s mistake. It is a difficult thing to understand for those who do not suffer the torment of having to live a life as the person everyone expects you to be when you yourself know you are not. For those who have these hurdles to negotiate it is very much a relief to have them all finally done with and for me that happened ten years ago on Sunday. I call it my ‘official’ birthday, my actual birthday being 21 November. Well her majesty The Queen has one doesn’t she? So I had it in mind to celebrate that milestone in my life but wasn’t sure how or if I was to do that. During the week I had entertained E twice by taking her out to dine, once for no special reason as we often dine out anyway and once to celebrate her birthday which we did on Friday. Dining out again didn’t seem appropriate, especially with just one person so it didn’t happen. I suppose few people would have been interested in celebrating the event with me anyway and those that might live too far away. I spent the whole weekend at home apart from taking a couple of hours out on Saturday to go for a bike ride but on Sunday evening I decided to visit my local pub for the first time in over two weeks. If you remember I had injured myself falling off a ladder at home and my head required twelve stitches to seal the wound. For more than a week I suffered the after effects and had a headache  which took all week to subside. I didn’t much feel like going out so remained at home when I hadn’t work scheduled. Yes, I did go to work but took things very slowly and only worked for a couple of days. I don’t usually go to the pub on a Sunday afternoon because it gets rather crowded ao I leave going there until the evening instead. When I arrived at around 8.30 there were not many people inside so I sat alone for some time just admiring the scenery. After a half hour or so things changed, more people came in and before I knew it I was surrounded by a couple of people who wanted to chat with me. I stayed until closing time as I didn’t have any plans to get up early on Monday morning, I had no work to do, well work outside of home that is! When I did get up at 8 o’clock the sun was shining brightly through a cloud-filled sky and it began to rain. The rain glistened as the sun’s rays shone through and I knew there had to be a rainbow in the west. I took a look and saw one of Nature’s beautiful sights, a rainbow stretching right across the darkened sky. I might not have celebrated the anniversary of my other birthday in any special way but I was able to celebrate the start of a new week with a rainbow! It can only get better.

Shirley Anne