Sunday, 23 October 2016

No more locusts

The reading in church this morning was one of my favourite passages from the Old Testament.  It's from the Book of Joel and it includes the promise, "I will restore to you the years which the locust has eaten"

Seven years ago I took early retirement because of ill health.  I had loved my job but two years of caring for my mum (she had to cope with the amputation of a leg and then the gradual loss of her health leading eventually to dementia and death) had taken their toll on me and I was more than stressed out and no longer coping.  Early retirement was both a relief and a devastation.  I felt, as they say, that I was on the scrap heap with little more to give.

The first couple of years of retirement weren't easy either.  My sister (whom I'd cared for through cancer ten years earlier) became terminally ill so once again I became a carer.  Early retirement was a time of very limited income as only about half my pensions were payable at that time.  

Gradually things improved.  My income is now comfortable.  My home is a peaceful place where I can relax.  I'm no longer "the vicar" but I have a regular congregation whom I love and which appreciates me.

And today I am sixty five, the age at which I would have expected to retire anyway.  I cannot remember ever being happier than I am now.  The locusts munch no more.

God is indeed good

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Have a go at making cards!

I love making cards!  Christmas is a wonderful time for me and I've already got my cards made for this year but I was asked to lead a small group at our local Trefoil Guild so that they too could have a go.  I decided that I would make some cards using minimum of specialised kit and a maximum of stuff that people might have already.  
Surround the aperture with double sided tape
I explained about dividing A4 card (I suggest using 200gsm to 300gsm for those who like to know these things) but suggested that for aperture cards it's easier to buy blanks.  Anyway, here are my notes for my first couple of cards.  
Open the card out and on the inside frame the shape with double sided sticky tape.    Lay your first ribbon or piece of lace across the card making sure it sticks to the tape at both ends.  Carry on laying pieces of ribbon working out from the middle.  It's OK to overlap but NO GAPS!  When you have covered all the aperture turn the card over to admire your work.

Now put a row of double sided tape all around the middle section of the card but before you peel off the tape backing check which way the card will need to be folded.  When you are sure, peel off the tape back and stick the card together.  (I realise I have laboured this point but I have come to grief before today!)  As you can see the lace which I put in first is top of the heap.

If you are an accomplished card maker chances are you have stamps or dies or some other clever way of adding a greeting.  Maybe you have wonderful handwriting.  For lesser mortals like myself peel offs are a wonderful invention and usually cost well under £1 per sheet.  They can be stuck over blemishes and as far as I am concerned that makes them brilliant value.  The easiest way to apply a peel off greeting is to lift it from the sheet using a piece of masking tape from which most of the tackiness has been removed by sticking it to your arm or tee shirt.  Press it firmly to the greeting and lift carefully.  Still on the tape put it carefully on to the card and then peel away the tape.  I've added a few stars (without using tape) to cover the marks on my card.  

This is a variation on the same technique.  This blank is from my stash and is very shiny.  Here I have backed the leaves with green ribbon and have used some greetings ribbon across the bauble but the red design across the bauble is made up of folded paper.  I've used tiny peel offs for the holly berries.  I didn't have any dots so I used gold stars with red middles.  I could have used tiny buttons or red sequins but I wanted to use stuff from the stash.  Coming up to Christmas there will be lots of red and green around (magazine features? wrapping paper?) so it's not necessary to buy anything specially.

Very special note for Mandy in case she reads this.  Sorry about the peel offs.  I know you hate them.

Monday, 10 October 2016

You'll never believe what my tortoise does!

I've just realised that I haven't written about my recent attempts at paper engineering so here goes.

This is an Archimedes Screw.  Unlike "real" Archimedes Screws it won't lift water as it is made of card and acetate but it will lift salt.  Very slowly and with a lot of salt not getting to the top but it will lift salt.
This Merry Go Round will indeed go around merrily.  It is wind powered the wind being supplied by blowing hard on the vanes at the top.  
But the tortoise.  Ah the tortoise.  When the handle is turned the tortoise types very slowly with one hand and scratches his head with the other.  Reminds me of someone who lives in my house.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Feeling happy

I almost headed this post feeling smug but that would be to tempt fate!  I've got all my Christmas cards made and the envelopes addressed.  

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas cards.  I love writing each one as I remember friends, some of whom I've known for over half a century.  I try and write a little on each one, enquiring after children or grandchildren.  Many have a "do you remember?" flavour.  For my extended family I enclose a copy of an old photograph from my collection.  There are people to whom I want to say a few words of thanks for the kindness they show me and Christmas is a special time to do this, in addition to thanks after each kindness,

And then cards will be received.  These too will bring love and memories.  I no longer display all my cards but rather put them into a pretty basket to be kept near my chair.  Again and again over the Christmas period I will find a letter or a card from that basket and re-read it.  Sometimes I may even phone the sender.  E mails are great - but the sight of handwriting and the sound of a well-remembered voice is even better.

But it is a love/hate relationship which I have with Christmas cards.  Whilst I love writing each card it is the sheer volume of the whole job which is overwhelming.  The cards are now made, the envelopes addressed and the cards themselves will be written in late November.  I'm hoping I've sorted things so that the love part comes out tops!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

He came!

I hope you enjoyed reading Jack's post yesterday.  It's very unusual for him to be as polite as that about me so I've read it several times.

He had a very busy day as he started to get the garden ready for winter.  He cleared away quite a lot of summer stuff and planted the winter vegetables.  We've now got white and purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflowers, Brussels sprouts, leeks and broad beans in the raised bed.

The last of the runner beans have found their way to my freezer and the final tomatoes can ripen in the conservatory.  A few pink fir apples (potatoes) are in the bucket and I've put the remaining golden beetroot in the saucepan.  

These sweet peas are all that remain of my summer display.  If you are wondering about the bit of foil next to them I will tell you before Jack does.  It fell into the soup.  What he won't tell you is that I served it to me, not him.  He'll have to miss out on the sympathy vote this time

Monday, 19 September 2016

I'm blushing!

Jack writes.

Hi everyone, it's about time I did another post.  Time seems to fly past very quickly when you are over 70.  
A likely lad!

Most of you know I'm away at my caravan on the east coast for two weeks out of three.  When I'm at home I try to get around everyone who I help so I can keep them happy.  My good friend the vicar always likes to be first in the queue, which she should be as she's done so much and been so kind to me and all my family and if putting her first makes her happy then so be it.  Not only is she kind to me but she's kind to other people as well.  She's not only big in stature, she must have a big heart as well. Once again, Vicar, I must be going soft in the head.  I'm saying good things about you.  (She deserves it really.)

On my last  visit the whirlwind (which is me) turned into a hurricane and I did a lot of work for her and her Auntie Hettie.  At dinnertime I was rewarded with sausages, new spuds and string beans of which I got most of the string.  Her cooking is getting better - she only burnt the sausages on one side.

I'm keeping this post short but will do a longer one next time.

Chickpea, if you move to Lincolnshire I'll be your Jack: if you don't good luck and I hope you find a local Jack very soon.  Ask the Boss Upstairs for help on this one.  Same thing applies to Rambler as well.

I hope you are all enjoying the summer.  I look forward to your comments.  Be good and God bless.

Love, Jack

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Guerrilla Gardening

Some people are truly lovely. 

St Helena's Church is a charming building in the middle of a quiet Lincolnshire village and that village is rightly proud of its church.  Somebody is more than proud.  Somebody decided to make it even better.  Somebody planted a row of sunflowers.

Whoever you are "somebody" - thank you!  You put a huge smile on my face!