Friday, February 29, 2008

Leaping into Spring.

So today is the Feb 29th. Tomorrow is March. Spring!!! I am not actually sure which day is officially the first day of spring, but I am declaring it mine. So I will put up the Easter tree, and pick some daffodils for the house. You will definitely see the photos.

In Switzerland, I saw bunches of forsythia for sale in the shops, and my friend, Jean told me that her mother always picks some branches, when they look like dead sticks, (and we all know I have a garden full of dead-looking sticks) and they blossom when kept in water. Once the blossom goes, she waits for the leaves to appear too. I can do that. I have forsythia in my garden. Well, if I were really honest here, my neighbour has a bush, but I can reach it. And he is nice. He doesn't mind me lopping bits off. So I will tie a bunch together, like I saw in my favourite place on earth, with yellow raffia, and plonk it in a yellow vase and wait and see what happens. I am all for easy decoration here.

Spring is a beautiful time of the year. Right now, it is more the anticipation than the reality, because it is wet, cold and distinctly revolting. So any decorative assistance indoors is welcome. My home will be spring-like, no matter what is happening outside. If my name was Marge (my sister), I would be changing all the cushion covers, etc etc etc. My name is not Marge.

Leap year makes me wonder where I will be in 4 years time when it comes round again, and what I will be doing. Or where any of us will be, come to that. David should be finished his degree. He will be 23. Diana will be 31. Andrew 34. Ann 33. Me?? 57. It will be 2012, and Britain will be hosting the Olympics. What will I have seen in 4 years? What will I have experienced? Who will I have met? Maybe some of you.....who knows. What will our world look like?

Leaping into Spring...the future. "Leap" implies energy. So does "Spring" come to that. Leaping, or indeed springing anywhere is a little beyond me at the moment. It is, after all, Friday night, and it has been a long week. Crawling toward the couch is more likely.

Speculation re the future must wait. My son has just yelled down the stairs that it is time for Mum's taxi service to rumble into action. Mum's taxi service is one thing that will definitely NOT be in operation in 4 years time. I hope.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The earth (literally) moves

Yes. Well. We had an earthquake. The papers say so and so does every news channel. And so indeed does every other person I know. 5.3 on the Richter scale. This is quite impressive, given that the UK is not on any fault line.

However, here in the Casa de la Rocking Chair, we felt nothing. NOTHING. I slept through the whole thing, and so did my son. Everyone else has stories to relate of thinking that there were burglars under the bed, and such Nothing. This is a very reassuring thought. I can sleep through an earthquake. One needs to know one is prepared for anything. One can leap into action in emergencies. All I can say is that I am going to have to make arrangements for someone to check whether I am buried under rubble in future quakes. I feel quite cheated in a weird way. Not that I have any unfulfilled desire to be in things like earthquakes, or tsunamis, or volcanic eruptions. My family phoned to make sure the house was still standing, and I have to say that I have not checked anything. I operate on the premise that I would notice if there were unusual things like bricks on the drive, or plaster littering the place. In the absence of such things, I am going to be an ostrich and assume that all is intact.

The failure to wake for earth quaking events could have something to do with levels of exhaustion though. That is something I could write a treatise on with ease. There are differences in tiredness, and healthy exhaustion is one thing, but bone-sapping weariness is another altogether. And lovely though our holiday was, it was not one of those relax and do nothing times. I don't actually do the "relax and do nothing" kind of holiday, now that I come to think about it. I do energetic things. Like walking miles. Climbing Alps. Staying up late to chat to my sister. I need to rethink the word "holiday"! Some adjustment might just be necessary. Maybe.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


I don't know if you do this too.... I write a lot. Well, let's be clear here, we ALL write a great deal. We would not have blogs if we didn't like writing. But this is different.

Words pour out of me, but I never post what I write when I have this compulsion to put down the thoughts whirling about in my head. I just seem to have a need to see those thoughts in a scenario other than in my head. On the computer screen, or on paper. They dance up and down in front of my eyes when I close them..... they want to get out, and yet the things I write are too real and too raw to share. Not yet, anyway.

When I curl up on the couch, my brain seems to go into overdrive, and often, I just fall asleep, because there is too much activity behind the closed eyes for the rest of me to function. It is a comfortable feeling though, not a negative one. I am not in turmoil. The thoughts are not all doom and gloom. Just me. Sometimes I drive my family crazy, because, I may be physically there, but mentally, I am off in a world of my own, and I don't even hear them speak at times. Great mother/daughter/sister/friend. Just great. I excel at these things, quite clearly.

At my age, I have experienced a great deal. Felt a many emotions. Met many people. Seen many things. I have found some answers, and not others. I have been challenged and challenging. I have been creative and destructive. I have taught myself and have been taught. I have laughed a lot, and perhaps not let myself weep enough. Birth, death and everything in between.... yep, been there too. I have loved, lost, been loved. Rejection? Yes. Survived? Yes, that too. Mistakes? Many many many. Regrets? Yes. And now I am beginning to sound like a song......


I have things to say. Lots. Not to an audience. Not to friends. Just things.

I don't feel old. Well, I don't usually feel old. I could well be becoming the epitome of the "grumpy old woman" when I see some and hear some of the things the young seem to think is acceptable, though. I hear echoes of my mother and my grandmothers...."in MY day...." They had a valid point or ninety. I am older than some, and younger than others.

The compulsion to write never seems to sleep. Or die. It is there, and it is like feeding a ravenous bear at times. Not that I have any intimate knowledge of bear feeding, I hasten to add. My fingers fly over the keyboard, and I don't bother to check the spelling or typos, and then weeks later I read over what I have written and wonder where it came from. How did I knit together the words in that particular way? Why? Why the need to write? And where on earth has it come from? Why now? Heaven knows I have a zillion things I should be doing. And writing, like letters to officialdom. And quilts to dream up and make, and scrapbooks to start, and books to read, and wood to carve, and a garden to tend. Not to mention food to cook, son to raise and house to clean. And work to do. Dreams to turn in to reality too.

And in the meantime, I write. Having a blog is such a wonderful thing, you know. Think about it...... we have a forum. We can choose what to say and when. There are people out there who actually read the things we write. We get feedback. We are our own editors. The written word is a powerful thing, and we tend to underestimate the power we actually have. Thankfully, I find myself in amongst a community of women (and some men too) who have the same set of values, beliefs, ethics and sense of humour that I have, and this frees us all to speak with ease. People who are younger, older or the same age. It doesn't matter in the least.

But some things - many things - I keep back for now.
The words, though, they just keep coming.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Signs of spring

I am cold. I have dreams of a wood-burning stove sometime in my future. I love wood-burning stoves. I love fires. With the sky-rocketing cost of fuel here in the UK, I think that having a method of heating at least a part of my home, which is not dependent on either gas or electricity, is a wise thought. (I was going to say "investment", but then realised that "thought" was more apt, given the lack of minor details like money to use as an investment!) Seriously, though, the cost of fuel is unbelievable. Switzerland is cheaper. A lot cheaper, and this is odd, given that Switzerland is supposed to be expensive, isn't it. Hmmmm. Then there is the fascinating announcement that British Gas has just declared record profits. I know. I am contributing to them. And to the directors' Caribbean holidays, no doubt. There is to be an investigation. Good.

Today was expensive. I paid the electricity bill, which comes quarterly, and the road tax, which is an annual cost. Fuel related nasty things. They tend to focus the mind on frugal alternatives. And I started to think about using candles. But then I remembered the computer. And my hair straightners. They need electricity. Maybe I need a windmill thingy on the roof. And a bicycle. The one thing we do have is a multitude of blankets, thanks to mother and her crochet hook, not to mention the pile of quilts I have made. We will not freeze.

Enough of cold and irritating things. I do have chocolate. It is the small things which make a difference!

This weekend, it will be March, and I will get out the Easter decorations, and construct our Easter tree. Until my sister moved to Switzerland, I had never heard of Easter trees, but we always have one now, and they are becoming much more common here in England. It is a lovely tradition. The shops in Switzerland are full of Easter decorations, and I also saw bunches of forsythia for sale. Apparently, in water, the dead looking sticks slowly blossom, and after they blossom, the leaves come out, even though they are cut.

I looked at the garden this afternoon, and I have 5 daffodils blooming at the moment, with lots more growing. Oh, how I love the thought of spring! It is the season of rebirth. Hope. New life. Brightness and light. The days are getting longer now, and it makes such a difference to go to work with the sun shining, and not in the dark.

And now it is dark. Late at night. And I need sleep. But I will be back.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Back home again.....

The holiday flew by. In fact, I have no idea how it went so fast. I do know that I am here in grey and gloomy England, and I absolutely want to be back in the mountains. We are noticing the difference dramatically. There are no mountains in middle England. The light is all wrong. The sky is not blue. You get the picture.

Somehow, up there in the Alps, I seem to be energised. No matter how weary I may be, I have the energy and inclination to do things. To get out and walk. To look up and around with eyes open wide. You know?? Reality is a little too real at the moment.

I woke this morning with a headache. By 11 it was a mega headache and I went back to bed and slept for 3 hours. I think my head is telling me something. Work tomorrow. I don't want to go. I am officially moping. I am sulking. I want to be back in the mountains. I feel like a 4 year old, and want to throw myself on the floor and screech. Unfortunately, I am old enough to know that tantrums don't work.

So here are a few more photos anyway. This is the snow, frozen. I loved the way the sun made it glisten like scattered diamonds .

And this was on my walk along the frozen river up the valley.......

And here we are in my forest again. The sunlight was gentle and there are signs of spring everywhere.....
Like here, with the crocuses blooming on the mountain side.......

David and I walked around the lake on afternoon, as the cloud was drifting up from the valley below.

He was throwing snowballs about....

See the wispy cloud....and how it changes the scenery. The sun shone most of the time, and then suddenly you were in cloud again, then out it came......lovely.
And here is the frozen waterfall, which we visited on the last day. We couldn't get closer, because the path was solid ice, but when we got home, Peter and Glynis said that there was another path which we could have taken. Sigh. Oh well. It is stunning from a distance too!
And David does not feel the cold. At all. He looks quite crazy, walking about with a tshirt on and no jacket. And he stays remarkably healthy too.
So there you have the Swiss trip. I did take 400 + photos, might I add, so I have been very restrained! We walked miles, and we watched the babes toboggan, we went down to Luzern to do some shopping and to visit a friend in hospital too. We prepared supper together, drank masses of coffee and tea and hot chocolate. Lots of chatting, and lots of company. My family are exceptional hosts, and my friends loved spending time with them. So did I.

It was not long enough. Not at all. I know that everyone had the most wonderful time, and all want to go back again as soon as possible. I also know that I am so lucky to have my sister living there, and the opportunity to visit often. But it doesn't stop me wanting to be there all the time!

Ok. Tomorrow we are back to normal, and I will start looking forward instead of back again. The moping will stop. I hope.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

My feet are falling off......

Hello all.... I am here up in the Alps, and it doesn't get any better than this, I can tell you. Beautiful. Stunning. So quiet. Food for the soul.

Monday was a hectic day. Up at 3.15, to leave the house at 4, fly out at 7am, and oh, the excitement, because the babes had never flown before, and then we went in a double-decker train, and then another little red train, which goes onto cogs for the steep climb up the mountain!!!!!! It was all new, and so much fun, and even though they were very tired, the journey was good. And the adults were all very excited too, might I add. Very.

Looking out of the plane window, this is what we saw as we came in to land in Zurich. Just look at the Alps at the top, then the band of cloud, then the land at the bottom. I was really pleased it came out, because there was ice on the window, and many many scratches.

This is the centre of the village. I took Simon to organise his skis and a lesson with an expert, to show him the mountain. Sky so blue, and mountains just so wonderful. There will be many superlatives in this post. No excuses. I just love this place, as those of you who have been around a while will remember!
Yesterday I woke at 3am and couldn't get back to sleep, so I went down to the lounge and read for a while in the hotel, had coffee, and then decided to go for a walk at 6am. It was pitch dark, but I reckoned that if I walked to the forest, it would be light enough to go through by the time I got there, and indeed it was. Not a soul about, of course, because Swiss people do not go for walks through forests at 6.30am. Sensible people. But I love this walk, and I know it well, and as it got lighter, it was just perfect, and the sun started catching the edges of the mountain with beams of sparkling light, and I am so glad I didn't miss this.
This is the view from my sister's front door. Not bad, is it??
And so the 10 of us went up the mountain. We have learnt to go on the first perfect day. In the mountains, you never know what the weather will do. It does not get more perfect than this, and there was not a breath of wind either. Marge had to go up to the top to check out some things in the shops she manages, so she came with us.

David on top of the world. That is the very top of the mountain behind him, and he did go right to the top.
Jean and me. Big smiles. Happy people.
David and the babes in the snow. This is really the first proper snow they had ever been in.
You can go inside the glacier, and so David and I went to walk around. Lots of magical lighting.

Coming down one of the cable car stages, Pete, Marge and David looking out over the valley from the docking station for the cable cars. The first 2 stages up the mountain are in gondolas of 6 people, then a rectangular cable car which takes many people, and then the final stage is the world's first rotating cable car, the Rotair.
One of the valleys.
Jean, Jackie and the babes in the snow.

And this is the rising moon last night. I told you it was magical, didn't I??
We all gather here at Marge's home in the early evening, and have supper together, and we do some things alone and some together during the day. Everyone has different ideas, and it works well. Today, I walked alone along the valley, and then to the place where the babes and Jackie and Somin and Jean were tobogganing. Mum bought 3 toboggans, for general use. Then I took Jean up to the forest to show her where I walk, while Peter and Glynis went to Luzern for the day.
And tomorrow?? Who knows what I will do. But it will be lovely. Beautiful. Perfect. Stunning.
And now I am going to recline on the couch with my book and rest the aching feet. I wonder if they do foot transplants......

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I LOVE holiday time....

I am on holiday. Yes!!!!!!!! I am surprised I didn't leave tyre tracks on the exit ramp from school yesterday. And I may even have tried to do wheelies if I hadn't eaten all that choclate and if the car was not so heavy. But I think you get the picture.

I am glad it is half term. (She says, in a more decorous fashion.)

I cannot tell you how excited we all are about our epic explore the Alps break. 10 of us leave on Monday for a holiday in the snow. It is just a short break, but 6 of the 10, including the 3 children, have not been there before, and it is my duty to introduce all my friends to the most beautiful place on earth. I can do that.

And I will not forget all of you, so expect photos. There will be many. The Alps are bracing themselves for our arrival. Not to mention my family.

So now I am off to do all the million things like clean the house, do the shopping, do the washing etc etc , oh and pack too, that I need to do before I leave. I have spoken before of the crazy need I have to make sure my home is spotless before I go away. Lunacy. But lovely to come home to as well. So I will report in from high up in the snow soon. Note to self : pack camera cables.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Diana!

Today is my daughter's birthday. The one who sends unexpected Tesco shopping and who arrives from across the world to surprise her mother. You know the one. Well actually, she is also my only daughter. Anyway, it is her birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DIANA!!!! I have no idea how it is possible for her to be so old. (Hahahahahaha!) Or for me to be the parent of a 27 year old. Mind you, I have a son who will be 31 soon too. I remember the arrival of all 3 of my children with absolute clarity......... all right, Diana, I will stop there! Anyway, she is a complete delight and a very real blessing and I love her to bits. And I hope you have had a wonderful day today, daughter of mine.

I don't know how many of you are following the Compassion trip to Uganda with Sophie aka Boomama and Shannon from Rocks in my Dryer. I am absolutely caught up in their trip and the view of Uganda through their eyes and the eyes of the team of bloggers who are on this trip. It is the most amazing story, and it is also the most powerful reminder that even the poorest of us is actually wealthy beyond imagination when we are confronted with such abject poverty. And it is something that every one of us can actually do something about, and we can all make a very real difference. If you are not following the trip yet, go here and read through the blogs. You will meet some great people, and it will change the way you think.

What else.

Just 2 more days before the halfterm break and it cannot come fast enough. This has been a very difficult week, but I am still alive. Cold. The days have been beautiful and sunny and bright, but as soon as the sun sets, it is perishing. Like now. I have a book meme to do asap and also a couple of wonderful awards to pass on. I have a confession to make here, people. I am the absolute worst at putting award things on my blog, and I always feel rather embarrassed to talk about them. However. I am very honoured and will be passing them on in the next couple of days. Thank you very much, Barbara and Lori, and I do believe there are a couple of others I have forgotten too. Oops. Sorry!

I will be back.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Did I mention that I have great kids????

I love surprises. The nice kind. Mind you, the word "surprise" doesn't really apply to the other type, does it. "Shock" is more apt. But back to surprises.

Yesterday morning, I was minding my own business, pottering about the house before I went to do the food shop, and the doorbell rang. Tesco home delivery man stood there, and I thought, oh, someone must be out next door. And then he said...."I know you are not expecting a delivery, but this is a present from Diana", and I stood there looking rather dumb. I am a little slow early on a Saturday morning, people. The words "Diana" and "surprise" have started to go together round here.

"But she is in New Zealand" I said in a helpful manner. "Is she really?" he said. "Anyway, she has ordered you a delivery". So I reached out to take the 2 parcels, and he said, "Wait.... there is more" and brought in another 4 bags of groceries. I nearly forgot that my mother was on the phone as I stood there amongst things like Belgian chocolate cheesecake, Lindt chocolates, rhubarb yoghurt, butternut squash and the like. I was speechless. My daughter on the other side of the world did my food shopping. There is NO WAY my guilt re the size of the hips would have let me buy the fancy bits, but oh, how we are loving it all!!

I tried to call her, but the line was engaged, and we exchanged some text messages, and she "just felt like sending a surprise!" When I called my son to tell him, he immediately said.."She is not here!" which made me laugh. I did suggest he check though.

So how is that for a lovely way to wake up on a Saturday morning?? My kids are really amazing. I am biased, of course, but they are indeed. And it made me smile all day. David smiled too when he saw the chocolate mousse in the fridge. I am a mean mother.... I don't buy these things!

The internet is a wonderful place. Isn't it amazing to think that you can sit in your home anywhere in the world, and order things in another place which will be delivered the next day or so? It still boggles my mind.

So instead of food shopping, I went to the Traidcraft coffee morning in the village, and then friends popped in to visit. I hacked back some of those dead-looking bushy things in the garden, and watched some 6 nations rugby. And ate the chocolates. I am going to have to declare a state of emergency re the hips any minute now. I keep thinking that I can walk it off in the Alps next week. Hah. I would have to stay for a couple of months at this rate. And that would not be a bad thing at all. Staying for a couple of months. Pity about having that little thing called work to consider.

It is a beautiful winter day. Blue skies, frost on the ground, and bright sun. And I just spoke to the food shopper on the other side of the world. I am still smiling.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Nothing much

Miracles still pending.
Head still where it should be. I think.
Energy levels flagging.
Hospital response received. Did it make ANY sense? Absolutely not.
Lesson plans done.
Sandwiches made.
House tidy.
Washing done.
Chocolates eaten. 3.

Tomorrow is Friday. I like Fridays. I really like Fridays from 3.30pm onwards.

But for now:

Bath running.
Book waiting.
Bed calling.

Good night.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Miracles could be quicker

Last night at house group, we prayed about my work, and the kids, and.... Yes. The lot. We prayed for a miracle. Or a few. Lots. Today wasn't the day. But maybe tomorrow will be. Today was about as far from miraculous as you can get, actually. But then Moses probably thought that too, as he walked towards the Red Sea. And look what happened to him. Maybe I need a stick thingy. Or a wand. I do believe it is just as well that I am not teaching English, although that was mentioned this morning in a hopeful manner. I tried to ignore that part.

My life is complicated. And my phone has just beeped at me to tell me that the deadline for the Hospital No 2's response to my complaint is tomorrow. That means that they have to respond by tomorrow according to the rules. Hmmmm. We will see. Another miracle, maybe? Who knows.

I have just spent 3 hours here at home writing up the paperwork for the day. I have hardly spoken to my son. He cooked his own supper. And he is now out helping at Crusaders as I speak. I am feeling squished. And in need of a simple, uncomplicated life - at least for a little while.

Somehow, I don't think that is going to happen.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

House groups

The power of house groups (aka Bible studies). They are amazing. I crawled home from work today absolutely drained, and after making pancakes for my son, went to house group. We have been meeting for a good few years now, every two weeks, and I cannot describe how wonderful it is to have a group of friends who are so supportive and encouraging. We share our triumphs and our disasters, and we talk, listen, and stay silent at times. We learn as we study different books and we gain so much more than we give. As one of my friends said tonight, we leave energised. He is right.

I needed some encouragement tonight, after a foul day at work. Sometimes the bad outweighs the good to such an extent that I forget optimism and positive thought. This is not good. When you get to the stage where you just want to howl it is definitely not good. And this is why it is so good to have house groups. If I had stayed home, I would have been a shrivelled up mess, curled in a ball on the couch. But I am not. Not at the moment, anyway. And tomorrow is another day. Hope springs eternal.

I had a good look around the garden this past weekend. It was too cold to stay out long, but there are definite signs of spring! The daffodils are shooting up and other dead looking twiggy things (I am a fount of botanical wisdom you can see) are starting to show signs of life. And the squirrels are trying to dig up anything and everything. Wretched rodents. Note to self: cut down the tall bushy things before they get leaves. I say this every year. And then I forget. But it does make sense, if I want a minimum of mess. I wielded the loppers for about 5 minutes and decided it was too cold. Too muddy. Too much effort and so I came in for a coffee and couch flop.

I think I need some sun, really. And warmth! Roll on spring.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Cakes, Mice and Tricycles

It is good to feel slightly more human. I will take small improvements any time! The snow never materialised, and the winds died down, and so it was business as usual by Friday. Sigh. A long weekend would have been perfect. But I can now say that half-term is NEXT WEEK! Well, on Friday next week. At the end of next week. Soon!

Meggie asked about the mouse and the fridge incidents ........ Yes. A real mouse! Mum's friend, Auntie Myra, made us the most amazing birthday cakes as we were growing up, and so help me, I can still see that cake up high on the cupboard as I speak. Marge had a "Sing a song of Sixpence" cake one year, complete with the four and twenty blackbirds etc, most beautifully iced. Or was in Humpty Dumpty? I can't remember.

(My own favourite was Swan Lake, with flood-iced ballerina doing an arabesque in the centre of a mirror, standing on her toe, with 4 swans around the edges, all 3D and stunning, and cascades of 3D flowers all over the sides, but I digress....) The cake. After the party, it was put in the kitchen as only about a third had been eaten, and a few days later, when we went to get it down to have some, a tunnel had been eaten out all the way round the cake. The icing and marzipan held the shape in place, but there was no cake inside. A mouse. That cake went into the bin. I don't actually remember the culprit being found, but that could have something to do with my lifelong aversion to rodents!

And the tricycle..... There was a table in the centre of the kitchen, and we loved to race round and round it. On foot or on wheels, as in those little tricycles. Mum was busy getting something out of the fridge, and lost her balance as we whizzed around, and grabbed onto the fridge to stop herself from falling. Unfortunately, she fell, and took the open fridge with her, and the whole thing landed on top of her on the floor, with the contents all over and around her. We were both under 5 at the time, and I can't remember all the details, but I do know that we were not happy to see Mum under the fridge, and understandably she was not thrilled to be there either. She wasn't badly hurt, but I think we were banned from creating racing circuits in the kitchen after that. I have a feeling that the homemade gingerbeer exploding might have been linked to this event too. Just thinking about it, I am very thankful that in those days the fridges were not as ginormous as they are nowadays!

Yes. Tricycles were rather different back then in the dark ages. And from the photo, I am QUITE sure that it was Marge's one that was whizzing round the kitchen, as mine was clearly far too huge to fit in there, and most probably far too slow and cumbersome to do any whizzing! But it had a bell. It was hi-tech.