Tuesday, 4 February 2014

For Delores!

For Delores! You have three to choose from . . . J


I read something yesterday about writing. It was quite strident and ran along the lines of, ‘So you want to be a writer? Stop blogging! Why waste your time on one or two when many more could be reading your novels?’

All well and good, I thought, but I’ll take the one or two over the none and be encouraged by their interest. It’s no good publishing a novel if no-one is going to read it.

However, I have published one* and intend to publish two or three more this year. Whoops! Brave words – must follow them up with action – that is, editing, proofreading and, in one case at least, finishing the first draft (and then editing, etc.) Action will be put to one side for the next week at least as I shall be looking after Frankie. I know, excuses, excuses . . .

(*The Sweets and the Bitters of Love’ is available on Kindle, £0.77 in UK, $1.15 in USA – free to borrow if you’re a Prime customer!)

Blogging and breaks and obstacles

I have noticed a number of bloggers taking breaks. Sometimes personal issues need to be resolved, sometimes inspiration has dried up, sometimes other matters are taking precedence. Is it seasonal, I wonder? Will everyone spring back to full strength and output once the year has worn on a little more?

This time last week Barry and I attended the funeral of someone we had known for more than forty years. Our friend’s daughters had tried very hard to make her funeral a celebration of her life.

The ceremony got off to a bad start. When the vicar pushed the button to start the music for the hymn nothing happened and he had to wander off to attend to it. We then attempted to sing, ‘All things bright and beautiful’ but there was no choir and our voices were too thin. The men managed to make a contribution but the women’s voices wavered and failed. Towards the end of the service the vicar, having got a couple of names and relationships wrong and failing badly in his attempts at making light, then told us we were going to do something very unusual. Time was running short so we were to leave the chapel after paying our respects and finish the service outside. Naturally, by the time the last of the mourners had joined the rest of the congregation, the ceremony was almost over and some of the intended parts had been omitted. Luckily the rain held off for that brief period.

Funerals are grisly affairs – everyone dreads them but everyone goes to them because they are for the living, not the dead. Fifteen years earlier we had attended the funeral of our friend’s husband, a man Barry had known since they were both sixteen. It was odd to see the same faces, fifteen years older, at last week’s funeral. Some people had barely changed. In fact, some looked better. Others were showing clearer signs of ageing – more lines, more/less weight, less mobility – but the saddest were those who were clearly struggling with memory loss, fumbling gallantly for words, a slightly desperate expression in their eyes. These lapses could not be passed off as absentmindedness.

Funerals are wonderful for concentrating the mind on one’s own mortality. I have not yet reached the stage of planning my own but my present inclination (and for some years past) is that my mortal remains should be disposed of without ceremony, decently, under a tree, perhaps, and my family go off somewhere congenial to celebrate with a crate of champagne. (Hurrah, she's gone at last . . . J)

Perhaps that’s unfair – perhaps we need to observe the rituals, whatever they may be, according to our beliefs or lack of them. Perhaps that’s the only way we can say our farewells and begin to absorb the fact of death. Whatever, and after all, I shall have no say in it after I’ve gone (though plenty before!!) I do not wish to have any singing from the congregation and if anyone says, ‘She was always there for us,’ I shall haunt them till their dying days.

I think I want to go out to this . . . It’s for the chorus, really;-)

Monday, 3 February 2014

Our weekend walks

We had a couple of dry fine days at the weekend. On Saturday there was a cold wind gusting every now and then, causing me to hang on to my hat.

We saw three roe deer – the first we’ve seen for a few weeks. I guess they’ve been sheltering deeper in the forest, trying to avoid the relentless rain. Saturday’s sun enticed them into the open, along with a number of dog walkers, cyclists, runners and young children.
Sunday was beautiful, not as windy or as cold.

Bill and Beatrice Crow joined us. 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

First attempt

This is my first attempt at uploading a video clip to my blog. More practice needed!! 

It's easier to see what's going on if the view is enlarged. J

Jellicoe is watching a beagle stealing food and he is nonplussed. 'Why doesn't the DOG jump up like I do?' he asked me.'It's so much quicker and easier.'
Here is a clearer view of what Jellicoe was watching.

Ocicats in Action

 Just to prove that they don't spend all their time sleeping here are a few shots of Ocicats in action. Thanks to my camera man, the one and only Barry.J

Before they could be taken, camera speed and light sensitivity had to be adjusted (Barry's task) and a measure of housework undertaken - floor swept and some of the detritus of day to day living - (year to year!!) - tidied away out of sight (my job). I am NOT posting the uncropped photos, too shaming.
Herschel leaps for the feathers as Jellicoe and Isambard consider their options.
Starting the descent . . .
Making another attempt - feathers are so enticing.
Isambard springs and Jellicoe nearly does, too.
Ready . . . steady . . .
. . . oops!
Jellicoe's turn but Isambard is keen, too.
One last try for Isambard.

The feathers 'lived' to fight another day. If a favourite toy is captured by one of the brothers there's a good deal of growling as the prize is carried off but they never squabble in the heat of the chase.

Our impression is that Herschel leaps the highest, Jellicoe is second in line and Isambard's efforts are respectable but not outstanding. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

New Year, starting late . . .

New Year, starting late . . .

2014 was going to be a new beginning, vigorous, productive, fulfilling, and it was scheduled to start from the very first day of January. Yes!

But it didn’t and I can’t seem to kick-start it, or perhaps myself. Part of the reason for this is the giddiness I have been experiencing since November, now thankfully diminishing. The swirling head rush is mainly confined to bed so during the day I am able to walk steadily and drive safely.

Maybe my lack of motivation is a hangover from 2013 which seemed to be a year of waiting and worrying. Whatever it is, I think February will herald the real New Year for me. So, Happy New Year, folks, and may the sun shine gently upon you and yours J

Meanwhile . . .

Herschel in a box . . . 

Herschel in a basket . . . 
 Herschel and his favourite dog, Bertie . . . 
. . .
. . . whichever way up.
Jellicoe in a box . . . 
The Entropy Gang at rest, Isambard stretching his claws.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Mag 195 Messing about on the river

Thanks to Tess Kincaid who organises and hosts this meme J To read more Magpies please click here.
Messing about on the river
Autumn om the River, 1889, by John Singer Sargent (1856 - 1925)

‘Would you like to come out on my boat?’ he asked. I accepted, excited at the prospect and thrilled he had invited me. ‘We’ll go on Wednesday,’ he promised. ‘I’ll bring a picnic. There’s nothing like fresh air for stimulating the appetite.’

He had told me little about his boat. That he was very proud of her could not be denied. The more I probed the less he said about her, just simply, ‘I know you’ll love her as much as I do. I can see you now, reclining as we navigate the river.’

My imagination took flight. In my mind’s eye I was leaning back against comfortable cushions in the cockpit, a glass of wine in my hand, as he stood at the wheel, the captain of his vessel. I wondered fleetingly if he would wear a blazer and yachting cap, a cravat knotted stylishly at his neck. I thought it unlikely – he was more of a jeans and tee shirt man.

It took ages to decide what to wear. It was October and the weather unpredictable. Wednesday might be very warm but could just as easily be chilly and damp. It could even change throughout the day. No matter, I could always go below if things became too uncomfortable on board.

Tuesday was bright and cold and the weather forecast predicted more of the same for the following day. Accordingly, I dressed in warm trousers and navy waterproof jacket, a spotted scarf providing just the correct jaunty air. I admired my new boat shoes, bought specially for the occasion – I knew how particular boat owners were and I didn’t want to be accused of leaving nasty black scuff marks on deck.

He picked me up in his snazzy sports car and we proceeded at speed to his mooring. We would be there in about thirty minutes, he told me, and as the minutes ticked by my anticipation grew. He handed me out of the car and put a proprietorial hand under my elbow, leading me along the tow path. I craned my neck for the first glimpse of his boat and when I finally caught sight of her I stopped in my tracks and gasped. She was beautiful – not huge, but a lovingly maintained clinker-built yacht, the autumn sun glancing off her brass rails and enhancing the rich mellow colour of her sides.

He squeezed my hand and smiled his wonderful smile. ‘You like her, don’t you? I knew you would. Shall we go aboard?’

I nodded, eager to explore his lovely craft. I was surprised when he stopped next to a scruffy skiff tied up just in front of the wonderful yacht. I was alarmed when he clambered onto it, flinging his arms out to counterbalance the dangerous yawing of the flimsy boat.

‘Come on, hop aboard,’ he said cheerily and held out his hand. As I stepped forward a cloud passed over the sun. I tried to match his enthusiasm as he sat opposite and pulled on the oars but I was uncomfortably aware of the proximity of the grey water and the sharp wind that had sprung up. Soon the rain came and as there was nowhere to go to escape it I had to sit tight, my hair streaming with water and my feet turning blue, not just with the cold but also with the dye from my new shoes. The picnic sandwiches sagged and disintegrated and I would happily have exchanged the chilled wine for a thermos flask of hot coffee.  

He turned for home – that is, the mooring – his mood undaunted. ‘Not quite a baptism of fire,’ he joked and I grimaced, shivering. I thought that at least I would thaw out in his car but it turned out that he couldn’t put up the soft top so our return journey was glacial. The car heater was inadequate against the rain and wind. I was never gladder to reach home and immerse my aching bones in blessedly steaming water.

The next time he rang – and the time after that – and the third time – I declined his invitation. In any case, I had such a streaming cold that I wished to do nothing more than shut out the world and huddle under cosy blankets.

We didn’t go out together again. The last I heard, he had sold his skiff and bought an old houseboat.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Relaxing . . .

Limbs entangled, bearing each other's weight, we sink into sleep.
Limp with warmth, not a twitch of a whisker or paw, nor any sound to accompany our dreams.
Soon The Maid will replace the throw and after their walk Jenna or Gus will muddy the clean cover with their damp fur. Until then we sleep, oblivious, together as we have always been. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A love poem

Thanks toJosie of ‘Two Shoes Tuesday’ who hosts this writing meme. Her prompts this week are ‘Fast’ or ‘Smile’. Participants may choose one or other or both of the prompt words. My response is a short love poem.

And unwavering,
Faithful, loving and resolute,
Your smile gladdens my heart and life.

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Berkshire, United Kingdom
Wife, mother, grandmother, Always curious, good listener, interested in people. I'm on Twitter @jabblog