Thursday, 27 February 2014
Also, it is physically a month when all the winter's ills seem to have drained every bit of energy.
I try not to blog in February, aware that other people with real problems do not want to be pulled down further.
So I read other blogs. comment when appropriate and keep a low profile.
In the shower this morning, the sun blazing through the window I was aware that this was a very un-February-like day. It is or rather was, also my wedding anniversary.
It would have been the forty-third.
Oddly, since John's death in 2009 I have never once remembered our wedding anniversary and have no idea what alerted me today to its significance.
Watching a great spotted woodpecker on the peanut feeder it occurred to me that all the little similar fleeting things which have always given me huge pleasure, still do. I still love watching birds, fussing neighbourhood cats, basking in brief shafts of sunlight.
As a moody introspective teenager when I complained to my mother that there never seemed to be any great blinding flash of happiness in my life.
She replied that such moments are very rare and do not constitute real happiness, adding that learning to find pleasure and joy in very small everyday things was the key to real happiness.
As always, she was right.
Seeking a picture to illustrate this post I found among my garden photos the lovely apricot bloom of "Just Joey", taken in a year when it flourished. It too has dwindled to almost nothing, but has had its time of beauty and the picture was taken just then.
Life seems very flat at the moment, but I know it is just a grey patch and things will improve again soon.
Last Sunday our St Mary's choir sang "The heavens are telling" from Haydn's great "Creation". We were not very well rehearsed and it is quite difficult, but made, I thought, quite a good job of it.
The feedback was generally good, with one lovely lady with whom I share the 'meeters and greeters' desk telling me she wanted very much to clap at the end, while inevitably, there was one person who 'hated' it, said it was too loud and too long.
One person's lovely day and another one's awful day.
Seems February is quite a mixed month.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 11:02:00 am
Monday, 3 February 2014
We have been blessed by visits from the Archdeacon, the Bishop, the Dean and a dozen or so other Rev's from various local churches and semi-retired local ministers.
Some. (most), are in our own Anglo-Catholic tradition, others rather less so, and one particular individual from a very different one.
This can be illuminating, inspiring, or on occasion, somewhat disconcerting, but since we are assured by those in a position to know, that we are going to acquire an incumbent of our own persuasion - eventually - we must settle for what we are offered in the interim.
Change is all around us, and even the day-to-day running of the church is constantly shifting ground and altering time-honoured procedures in order to adapt.
In some ways it has brought us closer together as a community but in others cracks are appearing.
As so many other people are looking at their roles whether paid or volunteer, I decided to make some changes of my own.
The Space - listening ear drop-in organisation which is a flourishing part of St Mary's will now have the benefit of more of my time (poor souls, they won't know what's hit them). While the parish office will see rather less of me (cheers resound).
Additionally I will now be a one-morning a week meeter and greeter, and hopefully will have a bit of training in the rich history of the church so I can officially bore any unwary visitors who make the mistake of asking questions.
The choir has not yet objected to my bass-baritone groaning on Sundays, so that will continue until they do.
Oh, and my face is at last clear of eczema so I look nearly human again.
All we need now is for the weather to change while there is still some of the country not underwater and joy will be unconfined.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:54:00 pm
Saturday, 11 January 2014
In the past six years, the only time I've entered my garden shed has been to scoop some bird-seed from the huge bins in there, or to pick up a pair of secateurs.
It has held a massive collection of assorted garden and household tools, (John collected, though seldom used all manner of drills, hammers, screwdrivers, oils lotions and potions for every known household need.) for the thirty or so years in which it has stood.
I do not paint, nor hammer things, nor do I insert screws, remove old ones, have no grip so never even attempt to use pincers. Furthermore I do not saw anything ever.
The means to do all these and a million other chores have all been (hoarded) stored in the poor shed, along with old packets of seeds (and I mean old), flower pots of every size and material known to man, several small chests of nails, screws, tacks etc. sand-paper, tool chests (all full) and a store-load of other things which I cannot even identify.
In short, the shed was full, and since I never ventured into the dark corners for fear of what might be lurking among the curtains of webs, I needed to get some help.
Time to enlist my doughty landscape gardener, decorator, all-round handy and useful neighbour.
"Please empty the shed contents into the garage, banish any wildlife, clean out and paint with wood preservative the inside, remove roofing-felt (leaking), and replace with fresh I begged. Further to that, take away every single thing not used for gardening, and use, give away or dispose of same"
His workforce ( a young man and a girl) did all of that yesterday, finishing by carting away half a life-time of junk and I now have a clean empty shed which will eventually regain its gardening 'stuff'.
It is not a beautiful job, the roofing could be neater, the green wood preservative inside the shed is patchy as it soaks into the wood, but Oh the relief.
I shall take my time, putting things back and will no doubt throw out more accumulated junk in the process, but as the weather is either wet or cold at present, the garage is now home to my much smaller hoard.
This has been hanging over my head for at least two years and my usual inertia prevented me from making the vital move.
No doubt many hundreds of pounds worth of tools etc have been evicted, but I am slowly beginning to realise that what I have not even looked at for 6 years or so is not going to be missed.
The biggest benefit of all is that I am no longer afraid to look into the corners because whatever might have been lurking, is no longer there.
Who's afraid of the big bad wolf? Well, me, but at least he's not in my shed.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 6:01:00 pm
Saturday, 4 January 2014
He does however, look as I feel.
Nothing like getting the new year off to a flying start with a big moan.
Is it ever going to stop raining, and if it does, will we be able to walk where we once did or must we direct our webbed feet in new directions?
Have I ever mentioned that I hate rain. Yes I know, I am a gardener or once was, and yes I know we need rain. Which is not the same thing at all as wanting rain.
Having left the house exactly twice since getting home from church on Christmas morning, and then only to shop for food, I would really like to pull the duvet over my head, tell the weather to s.. off and emerge only when sanity in the form of warmth, sun and dryth have returned.
I do know that some poor people have been flooded out of their homes and that others have no heat or light and I am truly sorry for them and pray they will soon be in a happier state. This however does not make me feel full of joy because I am not suffering in any of these ways. It merely makes me feel guilty.
I hate that there is not even a glimmer of sun, that the wind is lashing the windows, that a trip to put something in the bin in the garage is like an expedition during monsoon (without the warmth) in a tropical rainforest.
Every time I gingerly open the back door there is somebody's soggy moggy wailing pathetically "pleaase let me come in, I want to live here".
Even the birds are sitting about morosely comtemplating their navels (Do birds have navels?).
I embrace the thought of back to church choir tomorrow then back to work in the parish office on Monday
with the deepest joy!
Somebody wake me up when it's May. (If you must).
Posted by Ray Barnes at 5:15:00 pm
Tuesday, 31 December 2013
Well no matter what this next year brings, I will continue to post on matters of major importance, minor importance and absolutely no importance at all.
And, I shall endeavour to see to it that no picture relates to the text.
Furthermore, as you may have already noticed, I shall try to ignore all the basic rules of good grammatical writing.
For me, this will come as a welcome relief because it will mean that I need take no care over choosing the right word, phrase or even sentence.
I will try to write only what strikes me as of interest, not necessarily what I think will be of interest to others.
In this way, I can enjoy a sort of anarchy while still getting my 'message' out there.
Does this sound selfish? Well, it is.
Does this sound as though I have finally 'lost it'? Well it could be argued that I never had it in the first place.
Does it sound as if I have been drinking. Well, it does, but I haven't.
No I know it isn't April the 1st in an hour or so, it is merely the beginning of yet another January.
The bomb-like bangs and crashes of the (several) hours of fireworks out in the local area are driving me mad, so this is a sort of escape from the bombardment.
On a serious level, I hope and pray all of us, you and I will have a much better 2014 than we did 2013, and that a healthy happy new year will be ours (yours and mine)
Happy New Year.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:16:00 pm
Thursday, 26 December 2013
Midnight Mass (in bed by 2.00am up again four hours later, followed by grey-faced Christmas morning service had sapped my lowish energy and all I could think of was sleep.
There have been many services extra to the normal ones, nuch singing, lots of travelling by taxi (no other transport available) and the usual half joyous - half-knackered, run up to the big day.
All that finally over I decided to cook in the evening and watch scads of TV.
Half way through "Downton", there was a loud, gun-shot-like crack and a lump of glass shot by me to land on the carpet in front of me. The last remains of my Advent candle had over-heated the glass candlestick and was still burning in the remaining half on the cabinet behind me.
A few years ago I would have loudly bemoaned the loss of one of a pair of Art Deco frosted glass candlesticks which John and I had bought some thirty years ago, but after a sighed "oh what a pity", I simply blew out the remaining candle stump, picked up (gingerly) the glass from the floor and thought 'I'll vacuum up the remainder in the morning.
Ten minutes later happily watching the 'meerkat' ad which has baby 'Oleg' found on Mr Alexander's doorstep being eagerly claimed by lovely old Sergei, I had returned to Downton and forgotten about the glass missile.
Until I lost John, 'things' played a significant part in my life. These days my perspective has changed and the inanimate are resuming their true place.
Once upon a time I worried about what was going to happen to my 'valuables' after my death, nowadays I know that the life which preceded that death is what matters.
Just a Christmas reflection.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 1:12:00 pm