Monday, 17 October 2016
The photograph of a full moon on a cloudy night was taken from my bedroom window about a year ago.
Why one corner has been 'eaten' is a mystery.
When my library book fails to hold my attention and sleep is impossible I often look out at the night sky to see whether it is doing anything interesting.
Tonight the cloud cover is thick and the darkness intense, nothing to photograph.
If I could clear my head of this morning's anthem (I mean yesterday morning's anthem) it might be possible to sleep, but Purcell's "Thou knowest Lord" is careering round on a loop.
It's a strange thing, but often a piece of music I only half know will present itself note-for-note when I am trying to sleep, yet when I do sleep and wake again it is once more full of errors and missing 'bits'.
Insomnia is a common theme in my blogs, a part of my life which I should really take for granted since it has been going on for most of that life, yet I still feel cheated when someone talks about their usual 8 hours sleep a night.
It is of course perfectly possible to function normally on too little sleep (despite the black bags under the eyes) and many people manage on half the recommended amount, but it surely must have some long-term detrimental affect?
I remember as a child being told to "go to sleep", as though it were something one just 'did', like tying shoelaces or combing one's hair.
For some children the words seem to act like an on/off switch, but not for me. Not then and not now.
All the tried and trusted remedies have over the years been found ineffective and I've run out of ideas of my own, so, if anyone knows a magic formula will they please attach it to the tail feathers of an owl and point it my way.
Sleep well lucky people.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 2:12:00 am
Monday, 10 October 2016
He has made a huge difference to my jungle and not only have I got patches of bare soil for the first time in years, but I can see daylight where there has been impenetrable gloom for ages.
Sadly it is now plain that my years of neglect have cost me the loss of several old friends, roses in particular, but some shrubs too.
This has been a very strange year weather-wise, with very heavy rain in June, followed by drought for most of the time since.
Some of that time has been very hot, some of it merely warm, and now fairly chilly, but with one common theme. It has been very dry.
Every time the clouds billow up and the sky darkens, we wait with baited breath for the much needed and regularly forecast rain, in vain. It never arrives.
Even now, the East wind strong and cold is blowing the rain clouds elsewhere and it looks as though we are going to lose out once more.
I haven't yet planted the bulbs I bought a couple of weeks ago as the ground is too hard.
Situated as we are in the South East Midlands or North West Home Counties, or even South East England ( it depends on which TV weather programme you watch), we get hard to predict weather.
Since we appear to have no regular geographical location it is obvious that the weather has no idea how to find us.
Unfortunately this does not apply to the winds, particularly the cold ones. They seem able to locate us with the greatest of ease.
I am not really complaining since, so far at least, we never seem to experience flooding, which is a great blessing, but, please Lord may we have some rain? (at night preferably).
Posted by Ray Barnes at 5:07:00 pm
Saturday, 1 October 2016
But, in one of the few bright spells I decided to go out and dig out a large bramble which has appeared in one of the few weed-free spaces.
Taking my sturdy two-pronged fork from the shed I started to dig around the base of the beast. I dug and dug until I was about six inches down, still no sign of roots. For about six or seven minutes (quite a long time for someone of my age to be digging bent over from the waist (don't ask).
I stopped when a voice said "Gooday Mate that's my hair your pulling". Actually I had found the root.
As I tugged it out of the ground I suddenly noticed my horrible hands, gnarled and with distended veins, wrinkled and not at all how I mentally view my hands.
Obviously I am forced to look at my face every day when I attempt to make myself fit to be seen, but apart from ladling cream onto them I seldom look at my hands. Really look I mean.
The hands at the top of this page are the way I think my hands look, the pair below are much nearer the truth.
Why, as well as all the other physical indignities which are inflicted on the aged do we have to acquire such hideous hands.?
Often I take pleasure in looking at the face of a friend or acquaintance who has aged well, but an unwary glance at their hands tells a different story.
Heaven forbid I should be accused of vanity but why can't nature leave us just a little something to be proud of?
Surely it is the job of veins to remain under the surface quietly getting on with their job not to sit in full view like so many tree roots for all to see.
Is nothing sacred?
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:46:00 pm
Monday, 26 September 2016
The hospital I have to attend is 17 miles away and the bus from Aylesbury runs only every two hours.
As I have to get into Aylesbury in the first place, this makes a 10.15 appointment virtually impossible.
Luckily for me, my kind friend the parish administrator took the day off to take me.
The consultant was very pleased with my progress thus far, though he did point out that eventual deterioration is inevitable, and saw no reason at present to change the prescribed medication.
Coming out of there into heavy rain (just a shower) I was more than ever grateful for my kind friend's
We decided that rather than go straight back we would stop on the way at a large garden centre and have coffee (and cake), and when the rain stopped have a look around.
We had a lovely chat, a good walk round and I bought some tulips for planting. The first thing I have bought for the garden since John died.
Since the gardener had been by the time I got back, I now have some weed free space to do some planting. All I need now is the time, energy and right weather and God willing, I'll have something new and beautiful to look at in Spring.
This may seem a very ordinary mundane sort of morning to most of you but for me, it was a rare trip out of Aylesbury in good company and really a sort of mini holiday.
OH,and just for the record, this was my 500th post. :-)
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:37:00 pm
Thursday, 22 September 2016
This being a house-work day I did a large wash-load of tops and skirts this morning.
When washed I split the load into two piles for drying and put the first lot in the dryer.
The second lot went into the dryer about three quarters of an hour later and I mentally noted I would need two ordinary hangers and three skirt hangers, so got them ready.
Later as I carted them upstairs to hang them up I found I was one skirt short, so, thinking I had dropped it on the way upstairs I retraced my steps...........No skirt!
I looked in the washing machine, then in the dryer, then examined every nook and cranny minutely, not a trace of it was there.
Over the next half hour I searched and puzzled and finally admitted defeat.
I have just reached into the airing cupboard for a towel and there on a hanger in the front of the row of clothes airing was the skirt.
I have absolutely no memory of putting it there and no idea how I could have done so without being conscious of doing so.
Over the years I have done some pretty strange things, some I've blogged about, the habit of leaving a slipper in one place and the other elsewhere etc., but this is truly absent-mindedness on a grand scale.
Please someone tell me I am not about to bid farewell to my last marble.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 1:48:00 pm
Monday, 12 September 2016
There doesn't seem to have been time to breath in the past couple of weeks, but life is returning to its usual (I nearly said normal) pace again.
Apart from spending Sunday Monday Tuesday and Wednesday from 9.15 am to 12.00 noon in St M's. there is also choir practice on Friday evenings, and this last weekend a 50th birthday combined with Barn dance in the church.
Then the next morning the usual Sunday morning service, and in the afternoon the installation of the new Archdeacon.
This has involved learning quite a lot of music in a very short space of time, tiring but lovely.
All the events went very well and though I probably shouldn't say it, the singing was really very good indeed.
There were a lot of compliments from a number of people (the great and good of the County) and our own congregation too.
This really makes it all worthwhile.
There has been quite a lot of social activity in the close too and this Sunday evening we are going out for a meal and then to the cinema to see the latest Bridget Jones film.
This will kill two birds with one stone for me, as I love the Bridget Jones films and have not set foot in the cinema since about 1982.
It seems the older I get the busier I get.
Well that suits me very well. It is great to have things to look forward to again.
Amazingly the weather appears to be co-operating in a most unusual way (touch wood).
I know it is beginning to get dark earlier now but that is inevitable I suppose and won't slow me down anyway.
Every day I give thanks for my new life and friends in St' Mary's, I'm so very glad I took that first step 7 years ago.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:30:00 pm
Saturday, 27 August 2016
I sang as a very small child, and as a nervous teenager, and as an ambitious adult.
Recorded music, (on REAL records), CD's, tapes, on the radio and live in concert halls and opera houses has been the - I nearly said background - framework of my life.
For most of the time it has been a joy, a comfort, sometimes a thrilling experience, occasionally the road to deep sadness.
What some, probably most, people regard as music is something from which I retreat and while recognizing its place in the world will never have a place in my world.
Ask me the name of a recording artist, name a particular recording, enthuse about a well-known performer and we are speaking different languages.
Addicted to TV quiz shows from "pointless" to "University Challenge", I sail happily through questions on classical music from every period, but faced with popular music I sit in glum silence.
Very occasionally something will stir a flicker of memory and I will come up with the right answer while the contestants look bewildered. Thisis nothing to do with taste, merely that that particular tune song or artist was so popular in my youth that I unwillingly and unwittingly absorbed it into my semi-conscious.
Last evening I watched the 'proms' on BBC2 which consisted of a performance of Mozart works, including the "Requiem".
Despite loving nearly everything he wrote and having sung quite a lot of it, I have somehow never made the acquaintance of this work.
Obviously some bits were familiar but all in all it was strange to me - and I regret to say will remain so,
I know it was the last thing he wrote and that other hands completed the work after his death but that alone cannot account for the fact that it seems to me totally unlike anything else he wrote.
Perhaps it was the fact that the conductor had decided to sprinkle the chorus in amongst the orchestra, but it seemed fragmented and did not hold together as a performance for me.
Maybe my hearing and critical faculties are deteriorating, or maybe the heat and humidity of the last few weeks has got to me, but given a choice my first meeting with this work will be the last.
Or, maybe I am just a crotchety old woman looking for something else to complain about.
Posted by Ray Barnes at 10:47:00 am