26 February 2015

Thinking on your feet

I may well have posted this before, but it's worth airing again if only to give you a smile. 

A man in London walked into the produce section of his local Tesco's supermarket and asked to buy half a head of lettuce. The boy working in that department told him that they only sold whole heads of lettuce. The man was insistent that the boy ask the manager about the matter.

Walking into the back room, the boy said to the manager, 

"Some old fool wants to buy a half a head of lettuce."

As he finished his sentence, he turned around to find that the man was standing right behind him, so he quickly added, "and this gentleman kindly offered to buy the other half."

The manager approved the deal and the man went on his way.

Later, the manager said to the boy,"

I was impressed with the way you got yourself out of that situation earlier, we like people who can think on their feet here. Where are you from son?"

"New Zealand, sir," the boy replied.

"Why did you leave New Zealand?" the manager asked.

The boy said, "Sir, there's nothing but prostitutes and rugby players there."

"Is that right?" replied the manager," My wife is from New Zealand!"

"Really?" replied the boy, "Who did she play for?"

23 February 2015

Looking after birds, and a bit about the squirrel.

picture borrowed from the Internet
I am over the moon and flushed with success.

For years I bought bird food that contained thistle seeds (Niger) in a futile attempt to lure goldfinches to the feeders. However, since feeding birds with sunflower seeds the goldfinches have visited daily. It started with one bird, then two, then three, then five. To my mind, that’s great, ‘cause I love that little bird.

Wondering now if the number will increase. 

The feed once bought suddenly changed to include a particular seed that the birds didn’t like. Don’t laugh, this is true! Every day I would discover that all but that particular seed had been eaten and every day I would have to clear the ‘rubbish’ seed off the feeding table. Well, I don’t like work that much so I changed their daily ration to sunflower seeds and peanuts. Honestly, by the way they flock in you’d think I was giving them champagne and caviar.

I read a birding article on the iPad and learned that goldfinches have changed their habits and are now eating more sunflower seed than thistle. I couldn’t have bettered the changeover time. Now I read that greenfinches migrate to Spain in winter ... so where did mine come from.

We still see the bullfinch family (Mom, Dad and kids) and the nuthatch, and chaffinches, and a couple of greenfinches. The latter is a surprise because I heard the greenfinch was almost extinct. Apparently there was a spreading disease that killed off greenfinches in large numbers. I reckon I’m on a mission to save all birds, don’t you?

Every morning I put out bread, peanuts, and suet for the birds that can’t get to the feeders. Joe does his bit for wild life by cutting the crusts off sandwiches and throwing out apple peel. He did it because he swore he heard the squirrel say ‘what’s for afters’. And that’s in addition to the manky pears I throw out during winter months. 

Whilst on the subject of squirrels, here's a picture I took of the damage they can do. Not content with breaking every bird feeder he could lay his paws and teeth on he had a go at one of our mini trees. It's right by the patio yet I never saw him at it. It will be interesting to see if he manages to get through the whole thing. 

16 February 2015

The ups and downs of blogging

Blogging is a marvellous medium and it is quite remarkable how many friends we make as we travel through Blogland. Real friends as well as passing acquaintances, just like real life. I mean, in real life we seldom keep lots of friends but there’s always one or two who stick around for many years, people we’re proud to call friends. Those are the loyal ones, the ones we treasure. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t think a lot of the ones who pop in and out of our lives. It’s the same in Blogland. We have the same ‘friendship’ feeling with fellow bloggers as we do with our pals in real life.

Actually, it is wrong of me to refer to the here-and-now as real life now that blogging and bloggers have not only become real but have taken hold of us for a month, or two, or even years. That’s why we miss people who go sick, those who are unable to let us know why they’ve gone missing and will never know of our concern, and those who simply disappear for good. What happens to them concerns us because we are friends and friends feel things like that. There were two blogging pals of mine who decided to call it a day and who I still miss. Fortunately they took the time to explain and to say goodbye, for which I was and am grateful, but to this day I think of them with a mixture of sadness and gratitude for knowing them in the first place and getting so much joy from reading their blogs.

Another two bloggers simply stopped posting. No warning, no hint of illness or absenteeism. When this happens we’re left wondering ... and wishing there was a way of checking what happened to them. 

14 February 2015


Chris Rea's voice wins me over ever time I hear him sing

Happy Valentines Day 

(I started the day well, tried to flood the kitchen - accidentally, of course. I left the tap running in the kitchen sink - and of course the plug was in the plughole!)

10 February 2015


You wouldn't want to see a self-taken selfie because even if I’d taken one I’m not vane enough to think it would be worth looking at. I know that’s as bad an attitude as the one adopted by selfie-takers but I’d rather be me than them. Older and wiser never seemed as pertinent as it is now. It seems to me that new fashions or fads are like a contagious disease... they spread. Everyone hops on the bandwagon and if you don’t join them they think there’s something wrong with you. Well, I have news for them, there’s nothing wrong with me except a desire to BE me and not share everything with a thousand others.

Now that I’ve grumbled about selfies I am turning my attention to tattoos.

Have you noticed how they’ve SPREAD? Once upon a time only men, particularly sailors, went in for tattoos, then girls started to have discreet ones, on an ankle or shoulder, and small enough to be almost attractive. However, I now see girls who are outdoing the men with whole arms and legs covered with hideous pictures. I prayed they wouldn’t go the whole hog and cover their bodies like a guy I saw in a hospital waiting room but I see from internet photographs that I'm a little late in catching on about this awful trend. 

The guy I saw in the waiting room was SMOTHERED with tattoos. His whole face, ears and neck, back and front, from hair line to somewhere beyond the neck of his t-shirt, showed not a scrap of pink skin. Even his legs – from the little I could see since the guy wore trousers – were covered. The arms were the same, right down to his fingernails and I just know the rest of the body was adorned in the same way. I mean, if he went to the trouble to have his entire face, arms and legs tattooed why would he stop at embellishing his body in the same ugly manner? He was literally a tattoo freak, a fact confirmed by Joe when they ended up in the same ward, on opposite beds.

Now this was a guy who obviously wanted to look different to everyone else so, although I didn’t like his appearance, at least I respect his desire for independence. It did cross my mind, however, that one day there would be many others who would copy the idea of total tattooing. Seems I was right!

I wonder if he ever bothered taking selfies?

08 February 2015


The view from the steps was breathtaking, the sea like an ultramarine carpet laid before Vesuvius. Except that Vesuvius was lost in cloud. A good sign, according to the courier. It meant the heat wave was certain to continue. We carried on, treading gingerly from one step to the next, gripping the handrail firmly lest we should skid on the rubble.
The thicket was denser now, obscuring the view altogether. A dank smell rose from the undergrowth making it difficult to believe a charming panorama lingered on the other side. Then, as abruptly as they were upon us, the shrubs fell away, permitting the sun to warm our shivery arms. It was like stepping out of a damp dungeon and finding the world was on fire. I freed the breath I had been holding, astonished to find I had been afraid. Me, who had faced a mugger in the underpass and denied him the satisfaction of snatching my bag. But the underpass was on level ground, not built into a cliff like those steps. As if he knew, Vic took my hand and led me along the bumpy path.
At the next bend we stopped again to take in the awe-inspiring view. Colourful trawlers were moored by the quay, rowing boats and rubber dinghies abandoned by the water's edge. An ocean liner was anchored in the bay, brilliant white and highly impressive.
'That's my kind of boat,' Vic said, raising his binoculars.
Sweat was running down the nape of my neck. A pair of blue tits flew into a nearby olive tree. I scanned the harbour and wondered if the pink building was a cafe and if we would reach it before nightfall. Once Vic got binoculars to his eyes he was quite likely to stay there forever. I told him sharply that I was moving on. It was far too hot to stand around.
We progressed slowly. The steps were sheer and the handrail at this point had gone astray. I hooked my fingers in the single strand of green plastic wire which presumably was intended to stop us falling the eighty feet or so to the sea. Unnecessarily, Vic cautioned me to be careful.

The pink house was open, the Signora informed us, yelling her message from the far side of the building. Since he couldn't abide noisy women, Vic strode on until he reached a Taverna near to where the fishermen were mending nets, brown as berries and uniformly wearing T-shirts and mules. They worked to the high-pitched cries of herring gulls circling overhead. Gee-ya gee-ya.
Vic ordered the coffee in Italian, selecting the words from the phrase book he kept in his breast pocket. It didn't sound right to me, but the robust, silver-haired proprietor in the white vest obviously understood for he produced two cappuccinos exactly as requested.
Vic stretched his arms above his head. 'This is the life, Pauline. Can't remember when I last felt so relaxed.'
The last time I felt relaxed was at the top of those steps, before the handrail ran out. A smidgen of apprehension skulked inside me at the prospect of climbing back to the hotel. Tugging the straw hat to a more advantageous position over one eye, I shrugged my misgivings away and settled back on the wooden bench; no good marring the day with pessimistic thoughts.
Idly stirring the cocoa powder into the froth, I watched the launches ferrying passengers from the liner, scuttling across the water like red toads before disappearing behind a promontory. A cruise sounded romantic, but with so many steps to negotiate and being hauled into small vessels by rugged seamen it would be hard going. I had enough trouble with my legs without that kind of undertaking. The doctor said it was all in the mind when he inspected my knees. I argued that some days I could hardly bend them, however an x-ray seemed to prove his point. He recommended exercise but he would, being a fit young man who looked as if he worked out every day.
'See that, Pauline?' Vic was eying something through his binoculars. 'A batch of butterflies just landed in that hollow in the wall.' He removed the binoculars from around his neck. 'Here, have a look.'
Following his directions, I searched for the spot. Up the ramp at the end of the quay, ignoring the holiday-makers straining to glimpse the offloading of the day's catch; past the quaint houses, their balconies a riot of geraniums; and on to what Vic had labelled a hollow. It was really a sacred grotto, graced with a bust of Our Lady, surrounded by flowers and foliage and an illuminated cross. I adjusted the focus. The Virgin Mary smiled. Disbelievingly, I polished the lens with my skirt and looked again. She was smiling still. Her eyes seemed to beckon. I was surely dreaming, or else my mind had been addled by the sun. Vic surveyed the fishermen, unaware of the peculiar development. A single butterfly fluttered across Our Lady's face. I mumbled, 'Be careful,' then, overcome by a sense of urgency, I thrust the binoculars at Vic and hurried off.

I ran all the way, down the Taverna's wooden steps, dodging the coils of rope and trailers and mountains of nets, past the souvenir shop and its array of tablecloths and postcards, up the cobbled ramp and round the bend until ... until, there she was, the fairy lights barely seen in the strong sunlight, the flowers showing no colour, foliage showing no green. Her smile was colour, her eyes the illumination. My feet were rooted to the scorching cobbles as I gazed at her tranquil countenance. Vic's fingers seized my elbow. I had not heard him come. My knees trembled, but there was no ache. Our Lady's eyes twinkled and I knew why she had summoned me to her cave. Cautiously, I bent one knee to genuflect. Not one twinge assailed me. 'Thank you,' I mumbled, wanting no-one else to hear my words.
Vic pointed to the wall. 'See the butterfly, Pauline. Isn't that a magnificent creature.'
I pushed him playfully and suggested a race to the steps, giving a backward glance as we moved away. A butterfly soared, brighter and more beautiful than the rest. An aerial display of shimmering colour. Yanking my hat into place, I squeezed Vic's arm. I had never felt so alive. 'Come on, slowcoach,' I said, 'or we'll miss our lunch.'
Arm in arm we marched down the opposite ramp, past the vegetable seller and a brood of scavenging feral cats. Canaries bravely sang from the confinement of tiny cages attached to walls in full sun. Beyond an arch of weather-beaten dwellings, the church bell began its forbidding toll. The sun beamed constantly and the butterfly twisted and wheeled non-stop, sometimes alighting on the wall, but mostly dancing ahead to guide the way.

07 February 2015

Songs and Sounds on Saturday

Joe and I saw Gladys Knight and The Pips at a concert here at home 
and I've loved her ever since
Here she is singing A Midnight Train to Georgia

05 February 2015

A Valuable Lesson

I don't very often go on Facebook but I'm glad I went on when this short video was shown. I have watched it several times and am so pleased I didn't miss it. 

03 February 2015

Telling Tales

I found this on my computer and thought I would share it. It was sent to me by email a few years back so you could have seen it before.

Here we go.....  
picture by alynecastro
Betsy, a grammar-school teacher from Miami, remembers this Oscar-worthy birth tableau from one of her students ... I've been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second-grade classroom a few years back. 

Usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it to school and talk about it, they're welcome. 

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater. She holds up a snapshot of an infant. "This is Luke, my baby brother, and I'm going to tell you about his birthday. First, Mommy and Daddy made him as a symbol of their love, and then Daddy put a seed in my mother's stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for 9 months through an umbrella cord." She's standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I'm trying not to laugh and wishing I had a video camera rolling. The kids are watching her in amazement. 

"Then, about two Saturdays ago, my mother starts going, 'Oh, oh, oh!" Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. "She walked around the house for, like an hour, "Oh, oh, oh!" Now this kid is doing this hysterical duck-walk, holding her back and groaning. "My father called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn't have a sign on the car like the Domino's man. They got my mother to lay down in bed like this." Erica lies down with her back against the wall. "And then, pop! My mother had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like psshhheew!" 

The kid has her legs spread and with her little hands is miming water flowing away. It was too much! 

"Then the middle wife starts going push, push, and breathe, breathe. They start counting, but they never even got past 10. Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff they said was from the play-center, so there must be a lot of stuff inside there." 

Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat. I'm sure I applauded the loudest. Ever since then, if it's show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder - just in case another Erica comes along.