Friends

28 January 2014

A TALE FOR DARK NIGHTS!


DARE TO BE SCARED (repeat)

The room was cold. The fire, now no more than dying embers, made the fireplace look like a cavernous hole surrounded by a black marble mantelpiece. The unfinished drapes hung at the window awaiting final measurement. In the swelling silence Ellie Peterson was thankful that she couldn’t see outside.

An hour ago the sound of footsteps had unnerved her. Petrified she had waited for the door to open but nothing happened and the footsteps died away. Now, except for the creaking stair, the house was eerily quiet. She sat on the hard wooden settle, her body taut against the high back, feeling the terror in her spine. Dare she move? Would the spirits know of her presence if she did?

She wanted to believe the occupants had returned but they knew she was there so they surely would have called out. Her mind switched. Maybe it had been a burglar. If it was he was being terribly quiet. There were no other noises to indicate that drawers were being searched or cupboards ransacked.

The New Year’s Eve party seemed so long ago. The usual gang had turned up at Lacey’s Wine Bar with one extra, a boy called Ram who told stories about ghosts. While they drank in abundance someone mentioned the big house on the hill, saying it was haunted.

Ellie was taken aback for that house was where she would soon be working. The owner had commissioned her to replace the drapes in the dining room while the family was away in Tobago. In a mildly drunken state, she had scoffed at the suggestion of the place being haunted, saying it was all nonsense and bragging that she wasn’t in the least scared of ghosts. She didn’t mention that as a child she was scared to walk past the turreted property in case the ghost came out to get her.

It was Tom who dared her to spend the night there. Ellie had laughed and joked that she wouldn’t mind spending several nights there. And so she was dared so to do.

She had telephoned Jacqueline McCleary the next day, asking for permission to stay until her work was completed. It would be so much better, she’d said, if she could devote all her time to the task and not have the inconvenience of travelling to and fro. Mrs McCleary was delighted, saying it would be useful to have someone in attendance during her absence. She would make up a bed in the west wing.

Ellie remembered trembling with the excitement of spending nights alone in a supposedly haunted house. Now she trembled with fear in the icy room.

The musty smelling room was lit by a dim lamp on the antique bureau, out of reach from where she sat.  She couldn’t remember putting it on but she did recall switching on the central chandelier before lighting the fire, then switching it off because the light was too harsh. Although she didn’t doubt her action she looked up, seeing only flickering firelight reflected in the clear glass. But the fire was dead and she half wondered if she was too. 
  
She twisted round to check the door, wondering if she had the courage to go into the huge, cold hall that led to the west wing. She decided against it. It would be better to stay where she was, maybe close her eyes and try to sleep. The hard settle didn’t encourage sleep but she was too afraid to move to the comfort of an easy chair.  Folding her legs beneath her, she eased the tartan blanket over her arms and prayed for daylight to come, wishing she’d ignored Tom’s stupid dare.

~~~~~

Outside the wind howled and rain lashed against the glass. The chandelier shook and the new drapes swayed in the half light. In a room in the west wing a shadowy figure rose from a winged armchair. Her skirts floated behind her as she noiselessly glided through a heavy wooden door that led to an imposing staircase. At the top she paused and listened as the first musical notes filtered through the air.

~~~~~

Ellie stirred, shifted her position on the settle. In the distance she heard faint music. It took her straight back to her childhood, when she’d been so afraid. Straining to listen she became aware of an indistinct soprano voice intoning the words of The Londonderry Air.

Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide.

Ellie shivered as the eerie singing grew louder, swallowed to suppress a ripening scream. Somewhere in the back of her mind was the thought that spirits didn’t like screams and anyway, wasn’t she a grown up, sensible person who wasn’t afraid of ghosts? Hadn’t she said so repeatedly before… before coming here?

~~~~~

The crash completely unnerved her. It sounded like something smashing against the far door. Hardly daring to breathe, Ellie pulled the blanket round her shoulders and slid from the settle, grabbing the wooden arm to keep from falling. Against her better judgement she felt she had to investigate? Fearfully, she tiptoed across the polished floor and eased the door open.

On the floor was the oil painting that had been hanging in the hall, to the right of the door. Its heavy gold frame was broken, the glass lay in smithereens, but the picture seemed unmarked. Inches away lay the picture hook complete with fixtures, the screw ends coated with plaster. Ellie stooped to examine the painting, a naval officer. His stiff posture and stern expression was a little forbidding as he sat on a long wooden bench. The name at the foot of the painting indicated that this was Daniel McCleary, presumably a family ancestor. Behind him, one hand on his shoulder, stood an attractive lady dressed in grey. Ellie stretched out an arm to touch her solemn face. The eyes seemed moist as if tears were falling. So sad, she thought, as she made to wipe them away. Ellie shook herself, reprimanding her foolish imagination.

Unsure about how to cope with the picture at that late hour and reluctant to delve further into the mysteries of the house she returned to the room where she had briefly slept. In the morning she would clear up the mess.

Sitting again on the settle she let her mind drift back to the picture, remembering the story of the young diva being killed, stabbed by her lover. So much for respectability, she thought.

~~~~~

Light was beginning to penetrate the room, making the shadows seem less creepy. Soon she would hear the dawn chorus; only then would she be able to relax. Ellie thought about the picture. Knowing she would have to explain to Mrs McCleary filled her with trepidation. 

As more light seeped in Ellie found the courage to move about. Throwing aside the blanket she went to draw the curtains. She had to admit they looked good; the burgundy velvet went really well in the room. Since taking the commission she had worked hard, sewing well into the night on some occasions. Now all she had to do was measure and complete the hems. She would start early, after a drink and maybe some cereal. The need to move on with the work and leave the house couldn’t be ignored. But first she must clear up the mess in the hall. 

Ellie stretched and yawned and tried to suppress a sudden desire to sleep, a long sleep in her own bed, in her own apartment. A cup of tea would revive her, she thought as she moved towards the door, reminding herself to tread carefully to avoid the broken glass.

Somewhere in the distance she heard a tinkling laugh that seemed to echo through her head. A young voice. Braver now the gloom had dispersed, Ellie flung open the door, stepped into the hall, prepared to see an expanse of broken glass on the floor. But there was not one sliver to be seen. Looking up, she saw the picture on the wall. Intact. Except that the man now had streaks of blood on his face and at his side the young lady smiled.

Completely disregarding the waiting drapes Ellie Peterson fled to the sanctuary of the outside world.

Animated-gifs.org

25 January 2014

HATS


Did I ever mention that Joe likes baseball caps. Over the years he has acquired quite a few smart ones:

Pittsburgh Steelers
Manchester United
HMAS Castlemaine
Wallabies
Bondi Surf Club (Oz)
FIFA World Cup- Germany 2006
New Zealand All Blacks
Canada
Dallas Cowboys
Puffing Billy (Oz)
Alaska
Ford Falcon
Miami Dolphins
Western Bulldogs
plus some that were so worn they ended up in the trash can.

After describing the state of his baseball caps, daughter came to the rescue. 
Here are the latest acquisitions:

Australian Tennis Open
and 
Movie World (Gold Coast)



Take a closer look!




Aren't they fab, and doesn't he look good in them? 
He doesn't look like a man undergoing chemotherapy and that has to be good.

Animated-gifs.org

23 January 2014

Titbits... birds and motoring

BIRDS
January will soon be over, can you believe it? Does time fly for you or does it drag? A week or so ago a couple of blue tits took over the nesting box. It’s fun to watch them checking things out and fighting off any other blue tit showing signs of being attracted to their accommodation. Apart from one year when bees took over the box the blue tits always nest here. Remembering the expression coming home to roost made me wonder if they were indeed the babies who were born here. Is anyone familiar with the behaviour of birds?

Our resident robin has become very vocal. He has started to greet me each morning when I collect the milk from the front doorstep. I always bid him Good Morning but our conversation doesn’t go any further than that! I’ve tried, believe me, so much so I reckon the neighbours think they’ve got a potty woman in their midst. Robin still greets us when we top up the feeders in the back garden but I guess it will take time for him to trust me completely.

Sad news is that our favourite blackbird has disappeared; he’s the one recognisable by a damaged wing. Fortunately it never stopped him flying or bathing and as blackbirds go he was quite friendly. Now he has gone....sob. After seeing him around for something like three years, we miss him. If he’s been taken to the garden in the sky, I hope he met up with his own kind.  

I wish someone would pass a law solely for pedestrians who seem to think they’ve got the right to walk in the path of cars, especially on car parks. We not only have to manoeuvre our vehicles in tight spaces, we have to dodge the people who saunter in and out without checking to see if a car approaches. Maybe they think they have more rights than motorised vehicles. And what about those with fully laden trolleys? They are so busy trying to control them they completely ignore safety rules. I swear there will be a dire accident one day.

Looking out of the window right now, you wouldn’t believe it was still January. The sun is brilliant; it makes the winter-bare garden look lovely. Snow has so far avoided us but there has been a fair amount of rain, causing floods in some areas. Fortunately we live on a hill so flooding doesn’t affect us. However, folk do have to contend with early morning sunlight when the sun is low in the sky. This is not normally a problem unless you’re five foot two with eyes of blue which means the sun glares below the visor and is thoroughly blinding.

No amount of fancy visors will block that dazzling glare and believe me I’ve tried a few. Right now I have extended visors that can be adjusted by a fingertip when I change direction. Very good, except they come in ‘shaded brown’ which distorts sunlight even more. I feel a bit of a fool driving whilst peering through the visor, trying to make out what the guy in front is doing. I push the visor up and down (according to external visibility) so often it’s a wonder I don’t let go of the steering wheel. If by any chance you don’t hear from me for a while ... it could be that the sun (or something) eventually got to me! I’d better go and eat some dinner while I can. It’s Lancashire Hotpot, in case you’re wondering! 



Animated-gifs.org

22 January 2014

Funny!


THE KEY TO THE SITUATION

Robbie was drunk! Quite impossibly so.
And he stood with his key in his hand.
Then he looked for the key-hole and found it was there!
He'd found his way home as he'd planned.
But the key wouldn't fit or the hole was too small!
He was mumbling and fumbling away
When Constable Smith who was out on patrol
Just happened to come round that way.
Robbie looked quite suspicious, of that there's no doubt,
With his brain full of holes like a sieve,
And Constable Smith spoke quite firmly to him.....
'Are you certain it's here that you live?'
'Of course I live here! Have a go with my key
And you'll see for yourself that it fits!'
Said Robbie, who though he was feeling quite rough,
Was still in control of his wits.
Sure enough when the Constable tried-out the key
It fitted the door to perfection.
So 'Come in!' said Robbie, quite pleased with himself,
'I'm sure that you'd like an inspection!
See, this is my table, and this is my chair;
My kitchen is just through that door!
That photo up there is my old Auntie Flo.
And, upstairs, I can show you much more!'
When they got to the bedroom the policeman exclaimed
'Well, Robbie, now who might that be
In bed with your wife?' Robbie thought for a bit
And said 'Well I never! It's ME!'

Animated-gifs.org

20 January 2014

Babbling on.....

BLOGLOVIN’

Okay, I’ve given Bloglovin’ a fair trial and will stick with it until such time as it lets me down in a major way. So far so good except for a few blogs that I cannot comment on through this medium. How frustrating is that? It means having to go back to the old blog roll to load the page and to leave a comment which means frequent switching from one tab to another. However, a system has been devised. All those lovely bloggers who I can’t reach through Blogger or Bloglovin' are now listed on a special bookmark bar, and tuff cookie to Bloglovin’!

JOE

... is doing well. Apart from feeling tired and a bit weak in the body, he hasn’t suffered any of the expected after-effects. He’s finished the first of four programmes so I expect the rest to be straightforward. Sue me if I’m wrong! However, he will be having a further operation (full anaesthetic) sometime in March to remove a stent and widen the neck of the bladder. I’m thinking this could be of great benefit and maybe a BIG improvement on the way the body functions.

WI 

Enjoying the presidency? Hard to say at this early stage but it’s not the same feeling as when I became County Chair. At that time I was in disbelieving mode for several weeks, a sort of ‘this -can’t-be-happening-to-me’ sort of thing. But that was a long time ago, I must move on. I acquired a mountain of paperwork that needed sorting so the ex-President and I got together to do just that. We had a morning session to ‘go through things’ and I have to say it was great. We reminisced and laughed a lot as different papers were unearthed that spoke of happy times long forgotten. Yes, it was good!

CURTAINS FOR ME!

NO, not that sort! I mean new drapes at my office window. Note the word ‘office’. It was an ordinary room until I commandeered it for craftwork and typing and other well known purposes like blogging. It’s a cosy room and when it feels inclined the sun shines brightly. This, of course, raises the desire for occupancy. The curtains play a big part, especially at night when privacy from the outside world is required. On the right is a picture of the old ones, I’ll take a pic of the replacements when they arrive. I absolutely love the oldies, they are so spring-like, but they have to go. Why? Because the curtain-hook style tracking is giving up the ghost and we can't adapt the curtains. We decided on poles and eyelets to make things easier for little ol’ me and that meant new drapes.  It will be marvellous not having to struggle with the opening and closing morning and night.

http://animated-gifs.org/


18 January 2014

A NEW PLAYTHING

Sorry, folks, the pictures I put on here wouldn't open so I had no choice but to remove them.

17 January 2014

BLONDE MOUNTAIN (repeat)


Bowie Greene watched the small smooth-skinned creature slither behind the rock formation like a furtive whisper. Despite the arid conditions, the area was strikingly fertile. Low-lying gorse edged the rough mountain paths, rising almost to touch the self-seeded wild flowers spilling from crevices. Still hunkered after checking his boot laces, Bowie surveyed the cloud-free July sky, a fusion of blues streaked with the white vapour trails of military jets. Like an abstract painting. He sniffed the air and inhaled the minty freshness of his surroundings before springing to his feet. Hitching his rifle he plodded on, determined to overcome his fear.
           
The stony path zigzagged upwards for a hundred yards before changing its gradient. Running his hand around his neck to wipe away a gathering of sweat, Bowie braced himself for the ascent. He’d done this trek a thousand times. Knew every undulation, boulder, blade of grass. Long ago, when youth and health went hand in hand, he’d even done it blindfolded for a bet. But in all these years he’d never made it to the top.  No climber ever had. It was known locally as a mountain because of the climbing involved, incredibly steep in parts. From the ground the apex looked as if someone had given it a blonde wig. No-one had yet discovered what was up there to give it that appearance.
           
Gripping an arching slab, Bowie swung his body to a higher level. The rock was more angular, jutting cruelly towards his shin. His breathing quickened as he tried to dispel a straight-jacket sense of unease. He had reached the spot where once he’d taken ill. The fear of what can happen on Blonde Mountain still haunted him. Remembering Bernadette’s taunt, he pressed on. Driving his boots hard into the ground, he mustered every ounce of willpower and forced himself to pass the man-sized column of rock known to regular climbers as Ugly. The precise site of the heart attack.
           
It was a Wednesday when it happened, Bernadette’s birthday. He was hurrying. On that occasion he’d been content just to climb, leaving behind his ambition. He reasoned that he could do it and take the commissioned photographs in plenty of time … and would have if the weather had stayed calm.
           
He remembered shrugging off the discomfort in his arm, concentrating his mind on his wife.  She had been fraught for weeks over the shop; it was only fair to give her more of his time. He and Jamie had planned to take her out to dinner. Going up Blonde Mountain had been a mistake given the circumstances, but he wasn’t to know that at the time. When the pain worsened he had stopped near Dixon’s Dike to swallow a couple of painkillers and then advanced towards Ugly.
           
The final blow came shortly afterwards, half way to Ugly, wedged in a crevice where he’d paused to adjust his thinking. Should he go back or carry on? How much more would Bernadette take of his wild craving to reach the summit? The kick came right at that point. Knocked him sideways. He’d fallen 200 yards, crashing against the rock face, bouncing, until he landed on a ledge. And blacked out.
           
The rescue team found him. Surgeons saved his leg and treated his heart condition. They said he was a lucky man. Bowie knew he was, he was grateful, yet still the zenith of Blonde Mountain claimed his attention. Like most climbers he wouldn’t rest until he achieved his goal. So many times he had almost made it; so many times he’d failed. 

Bernadette was furious over his insane desire to try again, her criticism wordy and threatening. She spoke of divorce if he didn’t start to see sense. You’re too old, she said. It’s time you packed it in. She was generous, criticising him instead of using selfish reasons. Bowie knew she had plenty of those, fear being the main one, loneliness another.
           
Bowie feared losing Bernadette but pigheadedness overruled all emotion. Now he wondered what had possessed him to come up here. To escape his wife’s accusations or to prove her wrong? Ever since the outburst a week ago, when she fiercely charged him with having no spunk, his morale had been crushed. The only remedy had been to climb, to prove that he was still good at it. Bernadette thought the deal with the magazine was the main incentive but to Bowie the second photographic commission was merely an excuse. He would climb into the clouds to achieve personal fulfillment.

The route now was straightforward. Bowie had reached a plateau that enabled him to rest. He leaned against rock and looked out. He could see the village, a simple speck on a map of green fields. Unstrapping his back pack he removed the rifle and maneuvered the pack so that he could reach the camera and binoculars. As he did so he felt tingling in his stomach. Nerves! Suddenly alert, he twisted on his heel, aiming the rifle as he spun round. He stared at the rock. Nothing there, yet he could have sworn he heard stealthy shuffling. 
  
Unexpectedly nervous, sensing something was close by, he tightened his grip on the gun. Shivered, yet there was sweat on his face. Slowly, he turned. Saw the dog. It was like no dog Bowie had ever seen. Huge head, long body, stumpy tail. Unusual colouring; an indeterminate shade that reminded Bowie of wallpaper paste. Round his neck was a black band of dark fur that resembled a collar. Even as Bowie watched the creature disappeared, seeming to slither rather than run round the rock formation. Bowie lowered the rifle, wondering if this was the fabled animal climbers talked about. It was always referred to in local pubs as the Blonde dog. Some said it was the keeper of the mountain. Bowie had laughed at the idiocy of such a theory. However, if what he witnessed was not a familiar four-legged breed of domesticated pet then the whole episode must have been a mirage.  A hallucination!

After taking a batch of photographs, Bowie repacked the equipment, adjusted the climbing ropes, and moved on. An unexpected gloominess had settled upon him, a cloud formation that he didn’t like obliterated the sun. He once told Jamie that when clouds came the rock face lost its friendliness.  His son had laughed, unable to understand that rock could be friendly. He moved slowly, hesitantly, remembering the weather change he’d experienced before. That almost fatal day!  Ahead he saw something glide round a rock. An impression rather than a sighting but he knew it was the creature he had seen before. Probably didn’t like the wind that was getting up. 

When it came the rain was like a deluge, stinging Bowie’s face, the sharpness causing him to close his eyes. He struggled to adjust his helmet, pull the side flaps over his years, returned the goggles to his eyes. He hated both. It killed the freedom of a climb but he recognized the merit in taking safety precautions. He wasn’t a fair weather climber. It would take the hand of God to stop him climbing in a storm.

The dog reappeared and stayed in front of him. His coat was like a beacon in the growing murk. Bowie made no attempt to catch him up. The short distance between them was somehow comforting as if the dog was measuring the route in stages. At the end of this section Bowie would climb again. The thought made him feel exhilarated. At one point the animal paused, turned his head to look at Bowie, and snarled. A deep rumbling sound that echoed against the rock.

‘It’s okay, Blonde,’ said Bowie, thinking it was up to him to soothe the dog’s trepidation.  The dog trotted forward. Bowie wondered why he had called him Blonde since he wasn’t convinced that climbers’ tales had any foundation. The dog seemed stronger somehow, his carriage more assured. Dominant! It struck Bowie that the dog thought he’d taken over.

The weather worsened. Rain sliced through the air, the wind driving it full force. Bowie was unsure of his footing. His boots slid instead of holding him firm and his hands were icy cold. There were better gloves in his pack but he had no time to get them out. The dog, though still ahead, stood perfectly still as if on guard. ‘What shall I do, Blonde,’ asked Bowie, moving tentatively along the narrow ledge towards the dog. He wasn’t quite prepared to fight his way down.  The dog lay down in Bowie’s path, preventing another move forward. He looked at Bowie with unflinching eyes that were like small fires. Daring him to move! Bits of rock shifted beneath Bowie’s boots, tumbled off the ledge into the whirling space that an hour ago had been so tranquil. Behind the dog a boulder became dislodged and hurtled towards home base. It was as well he’d stopped at that point. Bowie began to feel scared, hoping his heart would hold out if conditions deteriorated even more.

The dog eased himself onto all fours, growled twice, inclining his great head as if indicating that Bowie should follow.
Bowie did. He inched after the animal, exercising caution as he circumnavigated a rocky projection. His feet felt heavy. He could barely feel his hands. He longed for a cigarette and remembered what it was that made him pack up. It was a Wednesday, Bernadette’s birthday.

Rounding the projection, he suddenly stopped. In front of him was the huge mouth of a cave. The dog sat at one side of the entrance like a guard dog. Ignoring the attacking rain, Bowie stood openmouthed and stared. In all the years he’d climbed the mountain he had never before seen a cave. The dog walked in a little way, stopped, looked at Bowie as if urging him to follow.

It was a typical cave, small and dry, enough room for Bowie to lie down if required. Initials and messages were scratched on the grimy walls. Bowie squatted on the floor and shrugged off his pack. A message near where he laid the gun was ‘next time will bring medal for the damn dog.’ Bowie looked at the animal for inspiration about why he needed a medal. The animal’s long body filled the width of the entrance as he lay there looking out at the teeming rain, head on one side, an ear raised like he was listening for something. Bowie called him, tried to make friends. The dog resisted all sound, stayed still as a statue, listening and looking out.

The noise of the rock fall was colossal,  vibrations so fierce Bowie thought the whole mountain was collapsing. He dug his heels into the ground, tensed his body against the cave wall, too scared to think about anything except how the hell he was going to survive. He prayed like he’d never prayed before, wishing he’d heeded Bernadette’s advice. He didn’t know if he’d even see her again. The tears were hot in his eyes, sobs rose, bursting wretchedly from him, adding weight to alarm. If only he’d stayed home where he belonged.

The dog nudged his head under Bowie’s arm. Seeking comfort? Oh my god, thought Bowie, the dog needs saving as well. Moving his head up to Bowie’s face, the animal licked his cheek. Bowie threw his arms around his neck and hugged him hard. ‘It’s okay, buddy,’ he whispered. ‘I’ll save you.’

They sat there, man and dog, waiting for conditions to steady. The rain was abating and Bowie could have sworn he saw a flash of light on the rock. He was afraid to look outside, afraid at what he might see. Blonde began to fidget, rose leisurely and went to the entrance. Looked out, turned back and barked at Bowie. As he crawled to join him, Bowie could have sworn there was a smile on his face. 

Looking out, seeing the blue sky Bowie would never have guessed he’d been caught in such a violent storm. Still on his knees he moved further out, saw the damage done to his beloved mountain. His elation quickly disappeared when he saw that the whole of the route he had taken had gone.  Not a ledge was left to walk on.  ‘What do I do now, Buddy?’

The dog wagged his short tail, moved to join Bowie outside. He barked once and trotted off to the right. Came back, looked at Bowie, barked again, and trotted off. To the right.

Realising he should follow, Bowie went back for his pack and rifle, then stepped out to join the waiting dog. They were on a well worn trail with just enough width for a single person to walk, hitherto unseen by Bowie who thought he knew everything about the mountain. He followed the dog. The downhill walk was easy, patches of soaked grass already steaming in the sun.  Occasionally the animal turned to check that Bowie was still there. Bowie kept checking the way they’d come, seeing the split in the mountain where the rocks had come loose, knowing that he could have been killed. Silently he thanked the Lord for giving him another chance of life.

As he trudged behind Blonde, Bowie remembered the etchings on the wall of the cave, and the one that read: next time will bring medal for the damn dog. The damn dog that had saved Bowie’s life and probably the lives of many others. He wondered how he’d never heard of the animal’s lifesaving activities before. And what was that he’d said: that only the hand of God would stop him climbing in a storm.

‘Hey, Buddy,’ ‘he called. ‘You’re not God are you?

But the animal had vanished, seemingly into thin air.



16 January 2014

Old favourites!


It's a long time since I had a go at stitching photographs together to make collages. 
Maybe I should have another go.



12 January 2014

Sent to me by email...

December 8:  6:00 PM.  It started to snow.  The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven.  It looked like a Grandma Moses Print.  So romantic we felt like newlyweds again.  I love snow!

December 9:  We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape.  What a fantastic sight!  Can there be a more lovely place in the Whole World?  Moving here was the best idea I've ever had.  Shovelled for the first time in years, felt like a boy again.  I did both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snowplough came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again.  What a perfect life.

December 12:  The sun has melted all our lovely snow.  Such a disappointment.  My neighbour tells me not to worry, we'll definitely have a white Christmas.  No snow on Christmas would be awful!  Bob says we'll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I'll never want to see snow again. I don't think that's possible.  Bob is such a nice man, I'm glad he's our neighbour.

December 14:  Snow, lovely snow!  8" last night.  The temperature dropped to -20.  The cold makes everything sparkle so.  The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shovelling the driveway and sidewalks.  This is the life! The snow plough came back this afternoon and buried everything again.  I didn't realize I would have to do quite this much shovelling, but I'll certainly get back in shape this way.  I wish I wouldn't huff and puff so.

December 15:  20 inches forecast.  Sold my van and bought a 4x4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife's car and two extra shovels.  Stocked the Freezer.  The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out.  I Think that's silly.  We aren't in Alaska, after all.

December 16:  Ice storm this morning.  Fell on my ass on the ice in the driveway putting down salt.  Hurt like hell. The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel.

December 17:  Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for five hours.  I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should've bought a wood stove, but won't admit it to her.  God I hate it when she's right.  I can't believe I'm freezing to death in my own living room.

December 20:  Electricity's back on, but had another 14" of the damn stuff last night.  More shovelling.  Took all day. Goddamn snowplow came by twice. Tried to find a neighbour kid to shovel, but they said they're too busy playing hockey.  I think they're lying.  Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower, and they're out.  Might have
another shipment in March.  I think they're lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me.  I think he's lying.

December 22:  Bob was right about a white Christmas, because 13 more inches of the white shit fell today, and it's so cold it probably won't melt 'til August.  Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel, and then I had to piss. By the time I got undressed, pissed and dressed again, I was too tired to shovel!  Tried to hire Bob, who has a plow on his truck, for the rest of the winter; but he says he's too busy.  I think the asshole is lying.

December 23:  Only 2" of snow today, and it warmed up to "0".  The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning.  What, is she nuts!!! Why didn't she tell me to do that a month ago?  She says she did, but I think she's lying.

December 24:  6". Snow packed so hard by snowplow, I broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack.  If I ever catch the son-of-a-bitch who drives that snow plough, I'll drag him through the snow by his balls and beat him to death with my broken shovel.  I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shovelling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over everywhere I've just been!  Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the Goddamn snowplow.

December 25:  Merry F!=3D@x@!x!x1 Christmas.  20 more inches of the !=3D@x@!x!x1 slop tonight.  Snowed in.  The idea of shovelling makes my blood boil.  God, I hate the snow! Then the snowplough driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel.  The wife says I have a bad attitude.  I think she's a fricking idiot.  If I have to watch "It's a
Wonderful Life" one more time, I'm going to stuff her into the microwave.

December 26:  Still snowed in. Why the hell did I ever move here?  It was all HER idea. She's really getting on my nerves.

December 27:
Temperature dropped to -30, and the pipes froze.  Plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him; he only charged me $1,400 to replace all my pipes.

December 28:  Warmed up to above -50.  Still snowed in.  The BITCH is driving me crazy!!!!!

December 29:  10 more inches.  Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in.  That's the silliest thing I ever heard.  How dumb does he think I am?

December 30:  Roof caved in.  I beat up the snowplough driver.  He is now suing me for a million dollars; not only for the beating I gave him, but also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel up his ass.  The wife went home to her mother.  9" predicted.

December 31:  I set fire to what's left of the house.  No more shovelling. 


January 8:  Feel so good.  I just love those little white pills they keep giving me.  Wondering ... why am I tied to this bed?

10 January 2014

Read what he says.....


What can I say? 
I feel SO connected to caring people.
Thank you all, once again.

Joe

08 January 2014

NOTE FROM JOE

Note from Joe to his well-wishers



‘I want to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and prayers from around the world. They gave me great comfort and are very much appreciated.

My first chemo session was relaxing and straightforward and I almost dozed off in the chair! I am in a good frame of mind to deal with any after-effects. Once again, very many thanks.’
Joe


07 January 2014

THE WEEK AHEAD and a bit about the weather

THE WEEK AHEAD

Whilst waiting for the engineer to come to inspect the state of our internet connection, I am mentally preparing for the rest of the week.

Tomorrow Joe start’s his chemotherapy and whilst I don’t have to go through it I still suffer from anxiety on his behalf. I suppose it’s the unknown that gets to me, not knowing how he will respond or feel or cope with each new development. The thing to do is to deal with each one as it comes.

Thursday’s meeting at my WI will be nerve-racking since that’s when the hitherto missed election takes place. Although I have accepted the nomination for President it doesn’t follow that I will get enough votes to take on the role. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I’m a big girl now so if I’m disappointed I won’t show it... grins.

QUIVERING SIDEBARS!

Does anyone know why sidebars on some blogs vibrate? At least three blogging friends have quivering sidebars although I suspect they don’t know it. It’s quite difficult to concentrate on a blogger’s latest post when the sidebar is doing a wobbly. Do tell if you have any ideas on this one.

A flooded area in Upton-on-Severn,
Worcestershire
THE WEATHER

The winter snow hasn't arrived in my part of the world but I guess there’s plenty of time yet. The British Isles has had awful storms and floods but living in the Middle of the country (thankfully) means we don’t have it too bad. I always thought it would be nice to live by the sea or even a river but when I hear of the tragedies people suffer because of where they live I’m thankful I am surrounded by houses... plus living on a hill! Goodness me, I never thought I’d actually say that. 

Christmas was terrible for many people who were forced out of their ruined homes. My heart goes out to them. I just cannot imagine how they are coping in such dire circumstances. I mean, where would you start to rebuild not just your house but your life?


Oh well, that’s enough chat. I’ll just go and glue my nose to the window in eager anticipation that the engineer will soon be here. Anytime between 8 and 1 they said.... he's got another 90 minutes to get here!

06 January 2014

I'M BACK, SECOND TIME AROUND!

Further to my rather bold statement that I was back on line, this is to say that we were booted off again through a breakdown in broadband facilities. So in a gap of perhaps two seconds I'm popping a note on to explain my absence. Missing/missed you all like mad. SOB!

For your entertainment here's a picture my daughter sent from Australia, apparently it is one of many strange but unique walkways in Melbourne. Hmmm I often wonder what to do with my old shoes!