Tuesday, February 21, 2012

News Flash

Remember I mentioned some time ago I had been asked for my complete manuscript? This week I decided nothing was going to happen and checked that it was OK to try elsewhere.  Just heard that it has been short listed out of 5,000 which is another step forward.  Trying not to think of the usual two steps backward.

If this falls by the wayside I WILL keep trying.  As you are my witness.

They do say…

  1. If  you judge people you have no time to love them. Mother Teresa

  1. When prosperity comes, do not use all of it.  Confucius

  1. When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money. Susan Heller.

  1. There are only two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror. Orson Welles.

  1. Always be a first- rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.  Judy Garland.

  1. Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.  Winston Churchill.

  1. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships. Michael Jordan.

  1. A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one. Rita Mae Brown.

  1. I have found that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them. Mark Twain.

  1. Freedom lies in being bold.  Robert Frost.

  1. Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. Bill Gates.

  1. Turn your wounds into wisdom. Oprah Winfrey.
Susan Heller

Oprah Winfrey

Mark Twain

Orson Welles
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Celebration of a life.

It's a shame this cuts out before the end but it gives a flavour of the beautiful music which dominated Whitney's funeral.  It was a long emotional ceremony - particularly moving when - as Ce Ce does in this ballad- the words are directed at Whitney's mother: that no-one is to blame and she should not feel guilt or shame.
 Each person - from Kevin Costner to her body guard had moving stories about Whitney and quite a few tears were shed in this house. With all these great singers , not least Stevie Wonder it was certainly a celebration rather than a dirge.
Maybe the way this tape cuts out is really quite apt.
The man with the red sash who rises in support is the singer's brother BeBe.

Friday, February 17, 2012

On the Homeward Stretch

Lemon meringue anyone?
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Times Past

It was the Millennium – 2000 and I decided to start a diary – the first since 1949.
Yesterday I started to read it and had forgotten what a stressful time it was.  Soon after my son and I had visited my mother in Portugal she died.  The week before, whilst shopping in Taunton my foot slipped down a hole covered with leaves and I fractured my fibula and was unable to fly to Portugal for my mother’s funeral. My brother died ten days later, in the North East and I missed that funeral also.

 I had promised my mother I would scatter her ashes by Ennerdale Lake and this I was determined to do.  My sister wanted to scatter them in Portugal and various parts of America.  Eventually it was sorted to the best of my ability and we and my # 1son and family scattered them along with my brother’s in the Lake District.

I remember when I was mobile visiting a therapist to try to alleviate some of the physical tension, and to my horror when she started to ask questions broke down into gut wrenching sobs.  It was embarrassing but she was very understanding and I did feel much better for it  and the tension eased.  

We had decided the journey north to visit our Yorkshire cottage was getting too arduous so reluctantly put it up for sale and as it was comparatively close to the house I had bought for my parents we put that up for sale also.  More stress but eventually they were sold and we got on with clearing the houses.  Me bagging things for charity or the tip and MTL sneaking them back in the house.

At that time I had no help in either house or garden, read for Talking Newspaper and belonged to a writer’s circle.  Our long time chairman had health problems so I took that on and was landed with organising and editing a publication of writings pertaining to Somerset for the Millennium.

I can’t help feeling if I had been blogging at the time I would have coped much better.  As it is I look back and think how lucky we are now to have so much easier a time.  We see our consultant on Wednesday and pray our luck holds.  He has said that if the last scan – taken some weeks ago, is clear that will be that.

We have had a good rest this week with no decorators  but M phoned today to say they will be back on Monday to finish everything off before our French family arrive, so that is a relief.  I could agonise over whether I should have stuck with white gloss instead of matt – but I’m not going to.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

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Saturday Nights

I have a theory that the reason why the Saturday night Scandinavian detective series – all the Wallanders, Sarah Lund and the more recent Borgen about a female politician are so popular - is subtitles.  It is extremely restful not to be constantly adjusting the sound to suit all watchers so I was quite sad when Borgen finished.

Happily the slot is now filled with Inspector Montalbano and the bleak cold of the Nordic winter is replaced by sunny Sicily.  If you can imagine a very attractive sexy version of Ross Kemp - late of East Enders - you are close to visualising the charm of Salvo Montalbano played by Luca Zingaretti.  He is extremely watchable, as are the beautiful Italian actresses with real bosoms, led by Livia Salvo’s girl friend played by Katharina Bohm.

I’m fairly sure Sicily was our destination, the last time we ventured abroad, so I’m appreciating the familiar scenery and will be watching the next episode on Saturday BBC4 9pm.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day
I know some of you think it is a rip off but I think it is a good reason to pause  and stop and think for a moment.  Our treat is : no decorators so no 6.30am start and a special Valentine's meal at home a deux.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

From our French Correspondent (#4 son)

The Loire is freezing & you can see ice
"cubes" floating along the surface. It makes a weird noise, like thin
metal sheets 'groaning' under pressure.
Apparently the last time this happened was 1985.
We had -12°C recorded last night on our outside thermometer, which is
under the front door window sill, so out in the garden/field it could
have been a good  3 / 5 degrees colder.
Still haven't beaten our record of -15°C back in December 2009, but this
it has been going on for over a week - hence the ice on the river!
See you soon
Meanwhile - in France...

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Whitney Houston 1963-2012
Rest in Peace

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The gas one

On Monday I couldn't post four pictures of the Queen. Yesterday I managed one of the faux stove and today - we'[ll see.
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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Cheating a little

All my life I have had open fires and there is nothing quite like them.  However I seem to have reached a stage when the hewing of the wood, the humping of the coal and the sweeping of the ash, has lost its charm.  So, egged on by my DIL who has just bought one herself I have bought a faux electric stove with pretty flames.

I can imagine the purists among you shrinking back in shock and horror – and I do sympathise, really I do – but regrets?  Not a flicker – just a flick of a switch.
With various family coming it is asinine not to use the drawing room and although it is well heated a flower arrangement in the hearth somehow lacks the northern welcome one strives for.  So there it is.

Note to self:  tidy up before taking shots
Cheating a little
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Monday, February 06, 2012

This wasn’t meant to happen

She was never meant to be Queen.  When her Grandfather George V died the heir was Uncle David (Edward V11) and the ‘spare’ her father Bertie (George V1) - with his paralysing stammer. But then David met Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee and it all went to pot.

Even when her father was King there was always the possibility a male heir could have been born but her grand-parents, with some foresight, always instilled in her a strong sense of duty.  She had a happy childhood with her younger sister Margaret Rose as playmate and then aged 13 she met and fell in love with a handsome 18 year old sailor Philip – a distant cousin and a lucky escape from all the chinless wonders around Mayfair at the time.  He gave up his titles Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark to marry her.

During WW2 she joined the A.T.S. and qualified as a motor mechanic.  Her father wanted to make sure their love was real so she had to wait till she was 21 to get married and Charles and Anne were born within a year or two.  In 1952 she and her husband were watching wildlife from a treetop platform in Kenya when her father died in his sleep and she became Queen.  Philip broke the news to her and they returned home.  That was 60 years ago today.

There have been difficult times; Philip was furious when the Queen refused to take his name of Mountbatten and he earned the Queen Mother’s disapproval when he went on one of his long wild-life trips leaving the Queen alone over Christmas.  Then she had her ‘annus horribilis’ during which three of her four children’s marriages foundered and Windsor Castle – the place she regards as home – was almost destroyed by fire.  In 1996 her son and heir Prince Charles was divorced and a year later Diana – her daughter in law, was killed. For a time her popularity was at an all time low, but gradually people began to see the Queen for what she has always been:  a good woman who always strives to do the best for the country and its people whom she loves.

Her first prime minister was Churchill and he and all subsequent prime ministers have benefited from her wise counsel and support.  Where else could they speak freely knowing it would go no further?

Her passions are horse breeding and horse racing and dog breeding and dog calling.  She is acknowledged to be one of the best dog callers in the world and if it were not for her unbending sense of duty I’ve no doubt she would be quite happy to live the life of a country woman and forget the interminable visits she is required to make. 

Over the years she has acknowledged the invaluable support she has from her husband and as her grandson Prince Harry said recently:
‘Regardless of whether my grandfather seems to be doing his own thing, sort of wandering off like a fish down the river, the fact that he’s there – personally, I don’t think that she could do it without him, especially when they’re both at this age’.
The Queen is 86 and Philip 90.

The Queen is a deeply religious person and I was pleased this year when delivering her Christmas address - in the stifling atmosphere of political correctness - that she spoke openly of the biblical aspect of Christmas.
God bless her and God Save the Queen

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Congratulations Ma'am on your Diamond Jubilee!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Charlie Callahan R.I.P.

He loved English country cottages and when I posted one on my blog he asked permission to reproduce it so I sent him a calendar full of them.  For a long time now Charlie has not been expected to survive and I’m convinced he hung on because he couldn’t bear to leave his wife Martha alone.  I hope she may take comfort – as many of us do – from the Inuit belief that he is up there in the starry sky.

both knew Charlie better than I and have written heartfelt eulogies about him.  Do read them.
I take comfort from his hand writing in the book he sent; something tangible like a touch stone.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Working under difficulties

  To spare you the boring details, the two pictures below are a/

#1 so n and DIL - still afloat after 25 years.

And b:
Our guilty secret up in the attic.  When M – our decorator / handyman was painting the large box in the smaller room I told him to open it.  When he did so and saw the awful bath I could see Acid Bath Murders flitting through his mind.  As I told him, our predecessor – the dentist - was an amateur photographer and used the room as dark room with the bath used to dip his prints in.  M suggested we borrowed his skeleton  - normally used to decorate floats in the Bridgewater Carnivals and put it in the bath.
I wonder if it would be too frightening for the grandchildren?

They are working on the stairs just now and it is quite an experience trying to go up and down without using the banister - which is wet.

 MTL to M:  Don’t get paint on the carpet or Pat will kill you.
M:  If I get paint on the carpet I’ll kill myself”

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