Saturday, 31 March 2012

Trials and Tribulations

I am still deperately trying to retrieve my blogger dashboard.  Don't know whether this will work but am giving it a go.Daydreamer: Evening Melancholy: Sitting with the window of the office wide as evening shadows gather, listening to bird-song from  all directions I suddenly felt acutely sa...

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Evening Melancholy

Sitting with the window of the office wide as evening shadows gather, listening to bird-song from  all directions I suddenly felt acutely sad.

This as you who have read me before will know, is not an unusual state of affairs, but thinking about it at length, I am quite unable to explain why something which gives so much pleasure to so many people, should be the cause of a downward turn in spirit for me.

Beauty should surely be a source of joy, and yet, the bird-song, getting more isolated now as it gets darker has a sort of echoing quality, suggestive of loneliness,

I think the only bird still singing now is a blackbird, yet even that song has a remote quality about it which touches the heart.

It has been an exceptionally warm day for March and the neighbourhood children have been much in evidence all afternoon, a sure sign of Spring.  Now they have returned to their respective homes the silence is more marked than usual because of the earlier noises.

A friend who brought me home from church this morning remarked on the (7) reed buntings in the back garden.  She had never seen one before and was quite impressed with their little black faces, white moustaches and collars and chestnut backs.  They are pretty little things and I am delighted that they choose to grace my apology for a garden with their presence, but I am used to them, and sadly, familiarity does breed a measure of if not contempt, at least a sort of indifference.

My (much quoted) mother used to say of me, that I "took my pleasures sadly".  I was rather miffed by this, but now perceive it to be all too true.

Among my least pleasant characteristics is a strong vein of self-pity.  Not an attractive facet of an adult personality and one of which I am not proud, but this along with spending too much time thinking about myself and my problems rather than other peoples' woes may be at the root of things.

Hmmmm.   Not a nice thought.

With all the strides recently made in medicine, I wonder if they do personality transplants?

Have just shut the window and pulled down the blind.  But, I can still hear the ruddy bird.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Yoiks Gadzooks and Forsooth (and other up-to-date expressions of surprise and Consternation.

This week I have been feeding my neighbour's cat.

He is generally speaking a creature of habit (most of them bad), but this morning, the last time I'm supposed to be feeding him he failed to show.

I trecked across the close went to open the side gate to 'his' house and found it swinging wide on its hinge.

My alarm grew.  This was not how I'd left it last night. 
Was anyone around?

I couldn't get round the back of the house, they have decking which is too high for my 5'5" height to scale, so I called and peered as far as I could.  

Suddenly a drowsy, half-closed eyed Morris appeared.  He made no move in my direction and actually looked away when I held up his bowl for him to see.

Whether someone had been round there and had frightened him, or whether perhaps he had been out on the tiles and had had a heavy night and was sleeping it off I don't know. but failure to come for food is not his normal response.  I simply left the dish there beside his water bowl and not without misgivings came home.

What is it about cats and their slaves that makes for this sense of anxiety if they step out of routine?  Why do they have such fixed and sometimes really weird patterns of behaviour?

The picture at the top is of my parents' cat Polly, whose favourite hobby was burying her nose in my father's slipper.  We used to refer to it as her anaesthetic.

Far from taking a sniff and running for her life she appeared to thoroughly enjoy its 'fragrance'.

There's no accounting for taste, and certainly no accounting for cats.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Let them eat Cake

Thursday evening's 'birthday' meal had a few surprises, including a cake which the girls had snuck in.

I now have a sitting-room with not one, but four vases of tulips, a stack of very pretty cards (with the exception of  a cheeky one from one of my brothers), and, until an hour ago an iced cake.

I was touched as well as surprised by the cake, but - yes, you knew there'd be a but didn't you - I don't 'do' cake.

Everyone was too full to eat any of it on the night so as the minibus dropped us off in the close, I suggested I have an open day on Saturday and anyone who would like to drop in for tea or coffee and cake would be welcome.

Most people thought they'd try to find time, but in the event only three pieces got eaten, so this evening I wrapped up a few slices in greaseproof paper and took them round to those who hadn't dropped in for their kids.

Pure genius don't  you think?  Kids never quibble over iced cake.

The girls had also bought me a bottle of good wine and    wait for it    a book to help me learn how to use the Ipad (Ipad for dummies).  Now I really have no excuse left, so watch this space.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Which way is up?

At this minute the sun is blazing through my window so that I have had to pull the blind down in order to see the keyboard.

An hour ago there was dense, freezing fog outside and it was so cold I turned the heating up a couple of notches.

Confusing.

This feels very much like my life at the moment,  On Monday it was my sister-in-law's funeral.  On Tuesday nothing out of the ordinary happened, quiet, peaceful morning in the parish office, followed by a lovely lunch-time communion service.

Yesterday after cleaning the brass at St. M's, I was too tired and low-spirited to feel any sort of enthusiasm for anything, until K my lovely neighbour (owner of "Soggy Doggy " of my long ago post, called in to see if I wanted to 'walk' Ziggy with her.

Since 'walk' is the one thing not on Ziggy's agenda, I happily agreed.  After the usual attempt to catch up with each other's news, thwarted at every step by the lunatic hyper dog, bounding, leaping and tearing off at a tangent every few seconds, we finally settled to throwing his ball and gaining a few seconds respite while he tore off to drop it - just out of reach -  for us.

Across the field there was a man with a dog and a ball.  Deep joy!  Ziggy decided to 'help' the other dog (a beautiful Weimeramer) and kindly collected his ball too.

Whereupon his owner produced a second ball and proceeded to throw balls for both dogs, and when the unrepentant Ziggy showed no sign of giving 'his' ball back, the l;ovely man said "let him keep it I have another dozen in the car".
K was embarrassed, not for the first time, by her awful animal but happy to find a new dog owner friend. (She has millions).

When we got back I was happier than for quite a while had a quiet evening and woke this morning with spirits once again down to zero.

I think it maybe because my step-grandson is flying out to Afghanistan today, for his second tour of duty, and the thought fills me with apprehension. He spent his 20th birthday in Iraq had a stint in Germany, then went to Afghanistan for his 21st birthday.  Now after two years he is off again.  Will it never end?

Being a fairly unstable individual and a sort of human barometer I find it difficult to sustain any state of mind whether happy or sad for any length of time as each new happening occurs.

This evening I am taking the 'girls' from the close out for a meal to celebrate my birthday which is tomorrow (choir rehearsal night).  There will be eight of us and we will have fun, and hopefully, a good meal. but at present I feel as though I want to retire to bed and stay there indefinitely.;

Sometimes just trying to sustain any sort of balance is supremely difficult, but having a fairly mercurial temperament has its good side too.  At least the mood can change very quickly and can hinge on very little.

What very complicated creatures we humans are.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Ominous cracks

Despite having reasonably good sight, and mostly being reasonably observant, I made a sinister discovery today.

It has been light and fairly sunny most of the day so things which might have been overlooked on a darker day were immediately apparent.

I have discovered a series of cracks, lines small fissures.

No, this  is not a job for a plastic surgeon (never would be for me), but a rather worrying separation between my landing ceiling and wall.

Since John's death I have turned my hand to many small insignificant repairs but this is something else.

I crossed the road to my excellent garden-designer, interior decorator, good friend and neighbour and hauled him over for a 2nd opinion.

Waiting, hardly daring to breath, with fingers firmly crossed, and expecting the dreaded words, "you have a subsidence problem". I was delighted to hear instead, "doesn't look too serious, I think it's just a case of filling and redecorating."

As he will be doing some work, decorating my bedroom, in a couple of week's time, he will take a look then.

My over-active imagination had the water tank in the loft descending through the ceiling in the middle of the night at the very least, so my relief was immense.

Everything wears out in time, my left knee is a case in point, but for someone as un-handy as me, little jobs turn into potential nightmares at the drop of a hat.

I know it's regarded as a bit 'girly' to admit to having no handyman/woman skills, but at least I spotted it before the ceiling fell down.

Is it just a generation thing, and are other women of my age (assuming there are any) equally inept in a practical sense, or are they all superwomen, and is it just me?

Sunday, 4 March 2012

If Music be the Food of Love

It has always intrigued me how music can manipulate the emotions.  Sometimes having a euphoric and happiness inducing affect.  Occasionally an exhilarating and uplifting one, and on other occasions inducing sadness and tears. 


My mother, a completely unsentimental woman could not bear to listen in company to a boy soprano or a group of young trebles, for fear we would see her tears and laugh at her.


Some very high coleratura voices, particularly when singing Richard Strauss, have the same affect on me, and I find myself shaking and almost at screaming point.


This is the physical reaction to certain sounds and pitches and is, I think, a separate thing from the result of listening to an immensely moving piece of music.


Last week, our choir at St. Mary's sang "Wash me throughly" which has, to my delight, an alto line which is lower - considerably - than the bass line.  I sang a bottom D and loved it.


Today we sang "Solus ad Victimam" by Kenneth Leighton.


For anyone who doesn't know it, it is the story of Christ's journey to the cross.  Not the most cheerful piece in the repertoire of the Anglican church, but sung really well, and it was this morning, it should and did have a quite spine-tingling affect on anyone who really listens. 


To my surprise (and consternation) I found myself choking on tears and fighting to sing the last magnificent phrases.


What a privilege it is to have good hearing and to enjoy the great blessing of listening to music.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Happy St David's Day

Daffodils, Leeks? Pah!  Dragons for me.

I know none of the above have anything to do with St. David (as far as the world at large knows), but the most attractive symbol of our national day (we barbarians known as Welsh that is), is the dragon.

The large black one on the left goes by the name of Ivor Llewellyn Pendragon, his small Padwan is Rhodri.

No excuse, the names came out of nowhere.

For a long time now I have been considering acquiring another cat, but while I still cannot take the final step I'm making do with my slightly sinister silent companions.

Fiddling about with my camera the other day I hit on Ivor as a subject and took a few awful pictures of him, then this morning I added little Rhodri to the equation and while the light is very poor, hence bad picture - well that's my story anyway - waiting for the fog outside to lift looks like an all-day task so I chanced a shot.

Ivor is carved from coal from the last deep mine in Wales and has lived with me in exile for some 20 years.
Rhodri, bless his little plastic heart, belonged to my late aunt who shared my passion for both cats and dragons.  Proof of superior iltelligence of course.!

She also shared my love of birds, which brings me to my good deed for St David's day.

Those of you who are regular readers will know that I have been a member of British Trust for Ornithology for some time.   How much time was something I hadn't thought about until a week ago when I received a letter from Mike Toms head of ecology at the trust.

To my amazement, I find that I have been a member of the garden birdwatch scheme since October 1998, during which time I have submitted 671 weekly reports.

The long and short of the letter was that the BTO are seeking more recruits to this valuable research and asked for any help I could give.

Of necessity, due to my being a non-driver and 76 years old this restricts any peripatetic activity on my part so I thought I'd put out the details in a blog.

Obviously this will reach only a few people, but might just encourage some of them to either participate themselves or persuade others to consider doing so.

Membership/participation in the Garden Birdwatch Scheme costs only  £15 per year and all the returns sheets are sent to you together with a magazine 4 times a year.

The address is:   British Trust for Ornithology
                         The Nunnery
                         Thetford
                        Norfolk IP24 2PU.

This is such a very valuable piece of research and can give the participants so much pleasure, and takes only a matter of seconds a few times a day.

There.   Deed done.