Monday, March 31, 2008

Digging oneself into a hole

We once had a dog called jess. I loved Jess dearly and, in her doggy way, she loved me.

You can imagine the distress she caused when she went missing. We looked for her everywhere. But something told me that she was not far away. While the rest of the family were searching around the area, I took yet another look around the perimeter of the garden, paying particular attention to where my husband keeps what I call rubbish, but which he calls valuable stocks of building materials — wood, bricks, blocks and so on. I seemed to recall Jess taking interest in mouse holes that exist close to the stone wall that divides the garden from a field. I called her name but did not expect a response because she rarely barked. But I thought I heard a faint whimper. Or was it wishful thinking? I went closer to the pile of wood and saw a narrow slit in the ground. Not big enough for a dog to get through but I tried to peer in just the same. I thought I saw movement. I was right. Jess was there and she started scratching to get out. I quickly realised she had been digging herself into the hole! It was now deep and she could not get a grip to get out. She had been digging deeper and piling the earth up from where she had dug herself in. I got down and put my arm inside but could not grasp her. She was getting quite distressed and so was I. I was fearful everything would collapse on top of her and she would be completely buried. I ran to get help. The men soon got her out. Oh why didn't she bark to let us know where she was?

Thinking of that incident, made me think of how we humans can be very good at digging ourselves into holes we can't get out of. At least this human — me! I have been doing a lot of it lately. Unfortunately, like Jess, we often keep quiet and go on digging deeper. It can be most distressing, and yet pride, shame, or whatever, prevents us from yelling "HELP, I'm stuck. Please help me out. I'm digging myself into a hole. Of course, better not to start digging in the first place!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The singing poet

Bob Taylor, (ex Yorkshire miner) author of that wonderful little book, The Primrose Path and other poems, has revealed just how talented he is by creating a website displaying his singing ability. Check it out at

I find some of his poems reach right into the soul, as well as others providing a good laugh. I know a young lady who was so outraged by his chauvinism that she wanted to thump him! She failed to see that he was laughing at himself! Nice love poems too. All dug up from his own experiences. Altogether, that is what I call good writing!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Spoilers

A lovely morning: bright sun, blue sky with fluffy white and dark grey clouds, chill wind but invigorating. We took a footpath up hills and through woodlands and fields, with daffodils under trees, birds singing on branches, lambs with their ewes. We saw mountain ranges covered with bright snow, fells in dark shadow, sea glistening in sunlight rays. Beauty all around us… good to be alive and live in such a paradise.
We take the downward path — what's this? Seats that were perfect last time we were there, now with their wooden panels smashed; only the iron supports remaining. The wood had gone… where? Beer cans thrown over the wall. A wreath placed in memory of a loved one discarded with the rubbish. Further on, another memorial seat given the same treatment.
Tears came to my eyes…
To grow up blind to nature, indifferent to other's feelings, a destroyer not a builder, is so sad, so very sad.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Litter Angels

We walk for exercise and usually choose the footpaths in our own area to avoid travel by car. It was a habit we fell into by virtue of being a dog owner. Sadly we no longer have a treasured pet, but the area where we live is beautiful and an excuse is not necessary to go out and stretch our legs… heavy rain, ice, and an attack of sheer laziness are the only things that 'blot the landscape' sufficiently to cause a lapse of routine and so prevent us from improving our circulation.

It is interesting to note changes over the years: the stream, that once provided power for local mills, has shifted its course; the waterfall — a playground for would-be engineers — is still in the same place but with eroded banks, and the sluice-gate that let the water into the leat from the stream, is devoid of wheel and everything else that could be removed by the 'young engineers'. I might also add the rocks that I took, one by one, to provide stepping stones through the mud at the footpath gate, were also requisitioned by said youths — only this time as weapons of destruction, howbeit not 'mass'. Over the years, seats have been provided and duly smashed, but the Council continues to paint them — or rather what is left of them. Trees were felled over a stretch of bank leaving behind a horrid sense of devastation, but now nature has taken over and the bank is covered with shrubs and saplings. Dog poo used to get spread across the path into a swirling patina by the brushes on the mechanical 'cleaner', but now, dog walkers are more careful and can be seen disposing their knotted plastic bags in provided containers, and fewer dogs are allowed to roam. Youths leave rubbish, but we once discovered a man clearing it away in a black plastic bag, not that he was paid to, but because it was dangerous and ruined the walk. An angel indeed.

Sometimes we take the steep path up to the local monument. It is a pleasant enough walk getting there. but the magnificent views from the top is enough make the effort worthwhile: bay, fells and mountains — caught in the colours of the changing seasons and weather moods. A shaft of light piercing through a dark cloud to illuminate a patch of dark sea turning it into glimmering silver, is evocative of hope in the midst of the darkness of a soul's pain. To look northwards and see the tops of mountains caught in sunlight with passing shadows, or sometimes glistening with snow, we can only stand in awe. And yet, there too, rubbish gets thrown around, although we noted it didn't stay for long. We assumed the Council took care of it. But not so… we found a lady going round picking it up. On chatting to her, we discovered that she had a self-appointed task to walk the paths each morning and clear up the rubbish.

When we moved to this area, some of the first people we got to know were the friendly walkers — with or without dogs — so we are doubly blessed on our walking exercise.

Ah, the sun is shining — time to be off! There are many walks in this area of Furness, South Cumbria — by coast or canal, in woods, up hills. Which one this morning? And will we find another angel along the path?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

As time goes by

"Do you remember?"
Frequently — no!
I stand (or sit) trying to drag up the word, or message, from my cranial filing system, but no use, it is firmly embedded in a deep bog of a lifetime's events. Then lo and behold, the hidden gem pops up like a sort bog(y) man from another age that can be prodded and dissected at will.

We meet other elderly people in the street, at the local 'genteel' superstore (Booths), or frequently in the cafe's along the 'pensioner trail'. (Have you noticed the 'grey-headed league' who seem to have little else to do but slurp tea and munch cake most afternoons — in cafes noted for 'good value'? We oldies were brought up to be generous but thrifty with it!) It is inevitable that we will know some of those we meet in such establishments. A smile of recognition from a cafe's customer and the brain's retrieval system is put to work.
"Hello, how are you?" (Thinks — I know that face, the voice is familiar, but who the devil is he?")
"Well, you know…."
And so the conversation goes on at length. Eventually we find a table and sit down.
"Who were you talking to?"
"No idea. But his face is familiar."
Some time later… hours… days… weeks, a name is suddenly remembered. But where was it we saw him?

There are other places we can add to the 'pensioner trail' now — chemists, doctors' surgeries, clinics and hospitals. But the places that give us most joy is meeting up on footpaths and country trails. There we get a good mix of hellos from old and young alike.

"Who was that?" A fellow traveller on life's journey! We all need to communicate with others. Who knows? A cheery 'hello' may brighten up another's day, as well as our own.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The sky fell on the head of Chicken Licken

I'm a fairly easy-going sort of person. Sure I get angry about things, but unless it is something that drops out of the blue, I rarely get volcanic eruptions causing immediate physical changes.

I ordered a camera over the internet from a 'market place' that hosts large numbers of sellers as well as selling a huge variety of goods themselves. This was no quick decision. Weeks of studying 'Which', various websites and asking around, finally made us decide which digital camera would suit our needs best. More to the point — which would suit my hubby best.

I duly put in my order. The accessories, sold by the 'host' seller, arrived a couple of days later AND no charge for p&p. We were impressed. The expensive item, full first class carriage charged, arrived two days later. On opening the parcel, we found the manufacturers box containing various bits and pieces (battery charger, leads etc) but NO camera or battery.

Dark clouds gathered in my brain.

I hate complications! I found out what I should do and did it. This sent an email to the supplier. I informed them what was in the package we had received. It appeared to us that we had been sent a second hand (or returned) item, which had not been checked to see if all was there. I wanted what I had paid for or money back. No reply. A few days later I repeated the Email. Yesterday I received a reply. They said that the camera had been checked by both the manufacturer and themselves. They said that my Email was 'extraordinary' and that they found it very hard to believe that I had not received the camera and that they could not help me.

The sky fell on my head!

I was furious. Surely, I was being called a liar and out to defraud them. This is what hurt. I knew the money might be recouped from the host seller — bad enough the hassle involved. But my name had been tarnished and how would that affect any problem in the future — would I always be regarded with suspicion?

How important to us is our integrity.

Once more I got in touch with the host seller and was informed how to go about making a claim. The Email was polite and apologetic. I eventually ticked the boxes and then explained in the space given, what had happened. It was comforting to know that I was presumed innocent until evidence proved otherwise. At least, I thought that to be the case.
This morning, now my blood pressure is likely back to normal, I can see that the sky did not fall on my head but an acorn did. In a world where innocent people are often treated cruelly (to the extent of being locked up, tortured or even killed for 'crimes' they did not commit) my problem is negligible.

Even so, in order to keep my integrity intact, I think I will steer clear of Internet buying. In future we will want to SEE what exactly we are buying before handing over hard-earned cash. (or, in my case — pension!)

'My world' is not the friendly place I once knew it to be. Or is my memory at fault? I don't think so. But where 'good' is found, it is indeed good. And all the more blessed when acorns begin to fall. This world is a confusing place for oldies.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Dawn chorus

So now the birds sing in the morning and some are gathering twigs to build their nests. Poor things — gales are forecast and, although the sun may shine occasionally, there is a chill wind.
Rather like life once you get to that age when the government decides to give you a free TV licence! For sure, whatever we plan, circumstances usually dictate otherwise.
Do we sit back and take what comes, or force the pace to make the most of time left to us on earth?
Writing is getting me nowhere. What’s more it is getting to be a somewhat lonesome occupation. Any writing I do I want it to be for the joy of doing it, otherwise why bother?
I guess teaching kids to read was the most fulfilling.
Does everyone get restless when friends and family are dying off at a faster rate? When physical problems stop you doing most of the things you once enjoyed? When tiredness wears you down and you no longer have a social life?
It does not have to be this way, but sitting at the computer has not helped.
No doubt, my mood will swing in another direction in a few days.
Ah, such is life.
And it is good to hear the birds sing in the quiet of the morning.