Yes, we have no bananas…

…except we do. We have several nice firm yellow ones, but we also had three very, very brown ones.

Not only that but we had a glut of yoghurts… I went shopping on Wednesday, but forgot to pick up Mr FD’s vanilla bifidus yoghurts that he likes to have with his breakfast. Cue for complaints from said Mr FD. So on Friday I went to Carrefour and got him 8 to keep him going. Unfortunately, he also bought 4  for himself (Apparently we’d both said we’d buy them but neither of us really “clocked” what the other was saying!!)

So there was 14 vanilla yoghurts in the fridge…(there were two remaining from last week’s shop)

So I decided to make banana yoghurt muffins. I found an easy recipe and made them

  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100 g yoghurt
  • 100 ml neutral oil
  • 125g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 bananas
  • Vanilla essence

I actually used 75g sugar and 2 tsp honey, 125 g yoghurt (the size of the pot) and 3 bananas. I needed a tad more flour to make a soft dropping consistency (oh, how that expression used to make us smirk when our domestic science teacher was demonstrating how to make a chocolate cake! Dropping! Brown stuff! Snigger!!)

Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Mash/ whisk the rest together. Stir gently into the dry ingredients, making sure it is all incorporated.

Put into muffin trays. I’d run out of cake cases, so improvised with squares of greaseproof paper, which worked okay.

I then sprinkled some seeds and a bit more brown sugar on the top. Put in oven at 175° until golden brown and no longer “singing” to you (the crackling that uncooked cakes make when you listen to them)

They turned out really nice and light. I don’t know how long they’ll stay fresh for, so I may try freezing some.

Going global…

Yesterday (Friday) I had just one lesson, by computer, so I was able to put a plan I’ve had for a long time into action…

Despite having a dear OH who is talented with computers and websites, and despite him saying “You really should have a website” several times, and despite him being unemployed for a long period of time…Despite all these things, I don’t have a website. While I don’t rely on random people for work, being employed (on a contract basis) by three language schools, I still could do with a little more work. Also, I have lost three students who have finished Lycée this year (although one of them might still be going to have lessons à distance…) so I need to find some replacements. And a website helps.

So yesterday I sat down to design one. I started with Go Daddy, but found that I didn’t like the choice of themes, and I published it by accident before it was ready – and now an unfinished site seems to be floating round the ether. I will recover it though!

So then I went with WordPress – I know the interface better and felt more comfortable using it.

I can present to you ANGLAIS’TUDES It’s not perfect – the contact button doesn’t work! – so I will have to call on Mr FD, but I’m quite pleased with it. I think the French is reasonably okay, as I filched various sentences from two other websites… I also need Mr FD’s help to do special things to get it to appear on Google when people type in various key words.

A week in Lol Cats…

Inspired by Kezzie, I thought I’d let you in on my week – what did I do? Actually not much – her account is much more interesting!

On Monday I had my last group lesson with the Chambre de Metier – this group has been nice to work with, but a bit difficult because the levels weren’t equal – two of the four students were higher level than the others. Still, we managed! Because of the regulations related to Covid-19, everyone wore masks in the public areas of the language school, but in the classrooms we just sat a metre (or more) apart, and used hand sanitizer. We reviewed the “be + going to + verb” structure for talking about the future, had a quick whip through the first conditional, and reviewed the content of the course. We also ate homemade scones and redcurrant jelly at coffee break time – I’d said I would bring them in.

As I was fasting I didn’t have much lunch (I’m doing the 5:2 eating plan) – especially as I’d had a scone! Then I packed up and walked to the other Language school where I work for my other student. It was his last lesson too, so I reviewed the tenses we’d looked at with him, and talked about what he might do to continue improving. He knows the grammar rules, but just doesn’t ake much effort to apply them!

I drove home via B&M Home Bargains, where I bought some puppy training pads (for the Cats who Piss N’importe Où) and a few other bits and bobs. Dinner was a fairly unexciting vegetable-and-chicken stirfry. The evening brought about The Crown on Netflix.

Tuesday saw me driving to Clermont again – annoyingly just for one lesson, but it was with a new student, so I felt I couldn’t really cancel! She was really nice – a reasonable level, and willing to talk! I think I shall enjoy teaching her. I completed some admin work and then walked into the town centre to book an opthalmologist appointment – for next January! – and a podologist appointment – for next Tuesday! I moseyed around the shops, and then made for home.

I called in at another student’s home, as she was willing to help me sort out some paperwork and check I had all the papers required for a company I work for. Home by 17.00 so I squeezed in an episode of “Outlander” – I read the books in this series ages ago, and then found it on Netflix. I am enjoying it.

Little quiches, salad and potatoes for dinner and then we watched more of The Crown…

I had a lesson in Roanne today – just one, but also I do the shopping then, so it’s not a journey just for a 1.5 hour lesson. Before leaving I checked I had planned Yvalda’s lesson, and I also planned the week’s menu and wrote the shopping list. Then I noticed the time and had to hurry to get there on time!

After a quick picnic lunch in a nearby park, I went to Lidl and then to a smaller Carrefour (not a hypermarket). It was getting rather warm so I was glad to remove my mask when I got back to the car. I fully understand and support the wearing of masks, but in warm weather I find them stifling…It was about 30/35° today. When I got home I unloaded the car, unpacked the shopping and then collapsed on the sofa with a cold drink. And “Outlander”. I poached some apricots that were getting a bit old in a honey and vanilla syrup to have with yoghurt.

Chorizo sausages, Jamie Oliver spelt-and-other-grain mix and green beans for tea. And then guess what we watched! My MiL phoned too – she’s a bit depressed at the moment, having gone through confinement alone, she is now suffering from vertigo. It’s not much fun for her.

Thursday already!! In the morning I had adminny things to do – papers to finalise, scan and print, cheques to send, bills to complete, postcards to write and send. The morning went by quickly, with Friend Alison calling by for a cold drink in the courtyard at about 11.00.

I had a 2 hour lesson by computer – it usually goes by quickly as Audrey is happy to talk, and is a good level. We discussed whether companies should have a quota system for employing women. We also talked about her children and what they were doing now.

Then it was time to chase down Millie – she should have gone to the Vet ith Bib last week, but she’d seen the basket and gone into deep hiding. This time I had to get her…I did, after about 10 minutes stalking, which involved pulling out the bed, some rude words, some pitiful crying and finally mute despair. She was only going for her injections!! She “sang” all the way there, but gave me the frosty silent treatment on the way back.

Thursday is another fasting day so it was big chicken salad with the leftover spelt from yesterday. I think we tried watching something different tonight, and gave “Stranger Things” a go. It has potential I think…

It was “Yay, it’s Friday” day as I had already decided that I was not going to work today. It was ridiculously hot too. Mr FD said that in Roanne the car registered 43°C – up here I’m guessing it was high 30s and I Don’t Do Heat. So I watched “Outlander”, I did a bit of admin that I really couldn’t leave any longer, went to the chemist to pick up my prescription, watched “Outlander”; made a birthday card for our friend Louis, watched “Outlander” (Yes, I am enjoying it!!) and had a snooze read!!

Dinner was baked salmon with salsa verde, rice and green beans. And poached apricots. Then The Crown. Yes, I think I did watch a bit too much TV today, but it was really too hot to do very much at all.

On Saturday morning, Mr FD pruned (nearly decimated) the elder tree outside – revealing an intricately made sparrows’ nest in the process, which cleverly entwined plastic with natural items. It was empty, thankfully, as the babies had fledged. I cleaned the kitchen and living room. Then we went round to Louis’ to drop off the card. On the way back we noticed that the restaurant next door is having a tapas evening today (Sunday) with a free glass of sangria for anyone sporting red accessories. We checked to see if Friend Cathy wanted to come, and then booked.

The afternoon was rather lazy, finishing off the various tasks that we’d had to curtail to go to see Louis, and sitting in front of the fans exclaiming “Bof! It’s hot!” At about 17.30 Friend Cathy came down for aperos. Dinner was pork, chestnut and mushroom sausage rolls, with green bean salad and rice salad (using yesterday’s leftovers. I went to feed the Poor Cats before dinner – they were happy to see me. Evening entertainment included the end of the FA cup final and Pointless Celebrities.

This morning it was our Zoom service – I was hosting it, and Bib “helped” a little, making various things flash up on screen when not required, but it went reasonably well.

And now it’s Sunday afternoon and I feel in need of a zizz before we go all Spanish this evening at the Tapas event.

The Gallery is Open

Kezzie had the idea of a virtual “art gallery” where people shared some of the art in their homes – “art” being interpreted however one felt it appropriate.

Unfortunately, despite having several days notice I left it until the morning of the Opening to do anything about it…and I have to go to work soon(ish) so my pictures – taken on my phone, because my camera is being temperamental – are not very well staged or taken. I do apologise. This will seem like a very amateurish art gallery! THe pictures are small too, being taken on the phone, but I hope that if you click on them you can biggify to see more details.

I have a lot of pictures and bits ‘n’ bobs in the house. Here is a photo of the wall behind my computer

As you can see it’s an eclectic mix of photos, cards, and other bits and bobs. It rather sums up my home!

So, due to my lack of preparation, I rushed around, randomly snapping what has turned out to be very blurry photos of various pieces of art around the house…

The reflections made this hard to photograph, but it was painted by the father of a friend of mine. His name was Eric Kilner, and Alison has been my friend since our University days. I admired the pictures she had in her home, painted by her father, so he gave me this one. It’s an abstract piece that makes me think of water weeds and ponds. I really like it. It hangs on our first floor landing.

Another reflection tricky picture is this one:

We bought this limited edition print of the Great Orme, Llandudno, in Frome, with Alison (friend mentioned above) & her OH, Kit. Unfortunately I can’t read the artist’s signature as I love this and would like to get more by the artist. We were wandering around Frome arts market and saw his stand. Mr FD & I decided there and then we wanted one of the pictures, and chose this one for its moodiness and for the fact we were in the area of Llandudno for our honeymoon. This was a wedding anniversary purchase, so it seemed appropriate.

This is in our living room.

Also with a connection to my friend Alison, we come to this picture, which hangs in our dining room:

She sent us this print for Christmas, a few years ago, and when we had adopted our big ginger boy from the street, we were searching for the right name…I looked at him sleeping, in this pose, looked at the picture and knew we had his name!

This is a corner in our living room – again, showing the eclectic mix of “stuff” (is it art?)

There is yet another link to Alison and Kit – now he’s retired, Kit makes Shaker style boxesand other lovely stuff. Please go and look at his items (and maybe even buy something!!) – they really are art! You can see the little box at the front, which was a gift. The wooden vase was made by another friend, and the thistly flowers within were given to us by Michel, a friend who died a year or so ago. The embroidery        “Home is where the cat is” was made by yet another talented friend.The cat in the photo is Manda, our first cat that we owned together – she lived until she was nearly 20, with her last five years as a diabetic. We adopted her when I won a competition, with 354 tins of Kit E Kat as part of the prize – and we didn’t have a cat!

The collection of tin and pottery stars was inspired by (yes, you’ve guessed it!) Alison & Kit…They have so many beautiful things around their home, and I always liked their collection of bells, hanging up the stairs. When we moved out here, to our home on Boulevard de l’Astrée (“Starry Boulevard” – or so we thought) I named our house Maison des Etoiles. Then I started to collect little stars. These are a few. We found out that in fact the street is named after the novel “L’Astrée” by a local author, but never mind…

Here’s an appropriate song by one of my favourite groups…

Moving into our guest bedroom we have some more pictures:

again, appallingly photographed!

The “sampler” I made in 1989 for Mr FD’s granny’s 90th birthday, and as her initialsare the same as mine, I was happy to take it as a gift after she died. The black polar bear I adore – he is Hornsea pottery, and was a gift after my grandmother died. Here he is in a complete state…

 

Unfortunately mine is broken and mended, after being knocked over by a cat. Probably Pomme who was remarkably clumsy in her youth.

The tiny picture is a Kate Greenaway print

(again, apologies for the photo!) This was a present from my sister on my 16th birthday – I remember I was thrilled to be given something “grown up” as a present! It has followed me round to every home since!

And the piece of calligraphy reads:”Every act of kindness and nurturing I show to myself impacts those around me: something “just for me” is in fact a gift to my whole inner circle who benefits in turn” This is by Angela, who ran a workshop I went to. This is another piece of her work

and this is the piece I created at her workshop

This hangs in my study. It reminds me sometimes to dare a bit more….

Just popping back to the living room, there is this picture

a print of a Heaton Cooper. This blog post tells you more about it.

And here is another blog post about this picture which hangs in my study

https://fatdormouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/img_0172.jpg

 

and finally another blogpost about this picture:

https://fatdormouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/02/img_0069.jpg

which is a sketch of a scene in “Nicolas Nickleby”

I do a lot of art myself – zentangles particularly, but I dabble in other things too – here is a link to the “artwork” part of my blog should you be interested.

A Rockhopper penguin zentangle, by Yours Truly

If you visit Bev’s “gallery”,  open today, you’ll see a couple of other zentangles that I’ve done. If you go to this page you’ll find the links to all participating galleries

Also, anyone who is on the list of participating “galleries” and would like me to do a zentangle for them, leave me a message in the comments saying who you are, your site and what you’d like a zentangle of. I can’t promise when it will arrive, but I hope it might be before Christmas 2021!!

And if you are just visiting, as they say in Monopoly, thank you for coming! I hope you’ve enjoyed my blurry photos, and please leave a comment! As Kezzie says:

Art galleries like to keep a track of visitors so it would be lovely if you could comment on the posts of those you visit- even if it was a ‘Thanks for sharing’, let’s make the effort to show our appreciations, even if the art was not to our taste. Of course, more detailed appreciative comments are also welcome!
Also, I don’t need to say this as everyone who accesses this blog is kind (except for stupid people who share their random spam links- you can get lost!), but even if you don’t consider something to be ‘art’, perhaps don’t say so!

Book Review: The Last Piece (4.5 *)

Sorry, readers. I’m offering you another book review, because as well as being a Twenty-five Reviews or More reviewer on Net Galley…

 

… I’m also a Top Reviewer, which means 3 or more of my reviews have been added to any NetGalley title details page by a publisher (I bet it wasn’t for any of my 1 star reviews!!) I’m also posting it straight after another review, just to make sure I have discharged my duties to Net Galley!

So, in return for a free e-copy of the book, I write my honest review of…

The Net Galley blurb reads:

A sudden departure. A story decades in the making.

The chaotic but happy equilibrium of the Nightingale family is thrown into disarray when Cecily—whose children can’t remember her ever being remotely spontaneous—disappears to a Greek island with no warning or explanation.

Her reasons for doing something so out of character are a total mystery to her three daughters, high-powered executive Felicity, unfulfilled GP Julia and organised mother-of-five Lily. What connection could she possibly have with Kefalonia?

But Cecily has gone to continue a story she thought ended decades ago—one that could have a huge impact on her family. And when she returns, she’ll have to tell them the truth.

Will Cecily be able to hold her family together once she reveals her big secret? And might she discover that she’s not the only one with a story to tell?

Pub Date

I enjoyed other books by Imogen Clark, so had no hesitation in requesting this one. And yes, I enjoyed it – it was a read-over-breakfast-and-take-into-the-garden book, rather than one that I just read at bedtime, which is a good recommendation.

However, I found the three sisters and the other characters to be a little bit too “formulaic” – the words in the blurb high-powered executive Felicity, unfulfilled GP Julia and organised mother-of-five Lily  rather sum them up. There was, I felt, very little light and shade. Other characters too were predictable: the willowy yoga teacher, for example, the slightly awkward lesbian who is rather prickly. For me, the most believable character was the husband Norman, who I really rather liked, for his support of his wife, but also for his misgivings and his flaws.

The story itself was interesting enough – although I guessed part of Cecily’s reasons for her sudden trip I didn’t work it all out…but equally I don’t think that it was a believable reason to fly out to Greece. Especially the idea of having everything paid for and so mysteriously organised. I think the saving grace was that the ending was not the sugar-coated end that I expected to be served; it left more of a “tang”, if you like.

Rating this book is difficult: there were no grammatical or editing errors (huzzah!), it was well written, it was engaging, but I just didn’t quite love it like I hoped I would! It’s certainly better than 3 stars…Looking back over other reviews I’ve written (yes, I do try to be consistent!) I’ve given books I enjoyed less than this 4 stars, so it had better be 4.5 (but rounded down for NetGalley, not up!)

Book Review: “The House at Mermaid’s Cove” (*****)

I come to another book review, as being not only a Twenty-five Reviews or More reviewer on Net Galley…

 

… I’m also a Top Reviewer, which means 3 or more of my reviews have been added to any NetGalley title details page by a publisher (I bet it wasn’t for any of my 1 star reviews!!)

So, in return for a free e-copy of the book, I write my honest review of…

 

The Net Galley blurb reads:

As World War II rages, love, mystery, and secrets collide on the English coast in a riveting novel by the bestselling author of The Snow Gypsy.

In April 1943 a young woman washes ashore on a deserted beach in Cornwall, England. With shorn hair and a number stitched on her tattered chemise, Alice is the survivor of a ship torpedoed by a German U-boat. She’s found by the mysterious Viscount Jack Trewella, who suspects that she’s a prisoner of war or a spy. But the secret Alice asks Jack to keep is one he could never have guessed, and it creates an intimate bond he never expected.

With her true identity hidden beneath the waves, Alice grasps the chance to reinvent herself. But as she begins to fall for Jack, she discovers he has secrets too—ones echoing the legend of a mermaid said to lure men into the dark depths of the sea.

For two strangers in the shadow of war, lost love, and haunting memories, is it time to let go of the past? Or to finally face it—whatever the risks?

Pub Date

I must admit I ummed and ahed (hummed and ha’ed?) about requesting this one. It sounded a bit “twee” – the mysterious Viscount Jack Trewella….the shadow of war, lost love, and haunting memories… – I also feared that the eponymous mermaid might make an appearance but I decided to give it a go. I’m so glad I did! I loved it!

I’ve enjoyed many novels about WW2, about different women facing dangers in different ways, and very few have been as involving as this one. It was believable and, instead of making it all high drama,the author somehow downplayed the drama, making it all matter of fact, while also keeping it as a vital part of the story.

I found both Jack and Alice to be sympathetic characters, and all of Alice’s motivations were eminently believable. Her religious faith was underlined, but the point wasn’t forced; her doubts and questions were natural, and credible. Jack too was a believable character. The only jarring note slightly was the part set in Geurnsey (I don’t want to say more) which didn’t quite ring true; but I’m willing to overlook this point.

Some reviewers complain that Alice’s experiences in the Congo were glossed over, or that the book was too short, not giving enough detail. I never felt this – the time in the Congo was mentioned  (I felt!) in enough detail to sketch out Alice’s reactions…and the book was about her after this time, not during it. Yes, it was important to understand where she had come from and how this shaped her reactions and life afterwards, but I think I might have got a bit frustrated if there had  been too many flashbacks incorporated in the story. I didn’t feel it was too short, and I felt the ending, and why Alice did not continue her wartime work elegantly explained. I have read another book where the heroine just stopped doing what she was doing (trying to avoid spoilers!) with no real explanation.

Although it was noted to be an uncorrected edition, there were no grammatical or layout errors (Thank you!) The language used by the author was not overly flowery, while at the same time didn’t feel too sparse. The descriptions of the Cornish beach, the African landscapes, the wooded valleys were all well put together.

This is the first time I’ve given a NetGalley book five stars! But I feel it deserved them.

Life Beyond, Life Among, Life Within

On Trinity Sunday, one of our Bridge Priests Mary Haddad preached this sermon

It inspired me to actually do a bit of art journalling…only on paper not in a journal. Here’s the finished product:

It’s a fairly rubbish picture, (of a fairly rubbish picture!!) but I hope if you click on it you can see it better.

I hope I’ve managed to capture, though, what were the points that spoke to me.

Slaves to Love

Here’s my sermon from last Sunday… (cheaty cheaty!!)

Genesis 22:1-14
Psalm 13
Romans 6:12-23
Matthew 10:40-42
There is a story of a recently licensed pilot who was flying his private plane on an extremely foggy day. He was not very experienced in landing just using instruments, and was beginning to panic as he started to come into land. When the control tower gave instructions he started to do what he was told, but his fear made him make mistakes. He read the instruments wrongly, and thought the controllers were wrong; his piloting became less decisive and more dangerous. Finally, a stern voice came over the radio, “You need to obey us but you also need to trust us!”
When I look at these readings the notion that jumps out at me is obedience – but it’s obedience coupled with trust. The idea that one obeys not just because one is told to obey, but because one trusts it is the right thing to do, even if it seems counter-intuitive.
Let’s look at the Abraham story. When preparing for this sermon I read one commentator who said that she found this reading abhorrent because God was (apparently) demanding a human sacrifice, and Abraham was willing to go along with it. This, she wrote, was not the God she worshipped. But I think that train of thought misses out on the fact that Abraham lived in a time when there were many belief systems, and within those belief systems, sacrifice to the god was common, and human sacrifice was not rare. This monotheistic religion that Abraham had been called to was new. This one God, YAHWEH, with whom he had made a Covenant was, as yet, an unknown. Abraham had been designated as the root, the Father, of all who would follow this religion, but the rules, the laws, the expectations had not yet been laid out. So for him, a sacrifice – be it human or otherwise, was not a strange thing to carry out. It was normal to make sacrifices to gods, and so for Abraham it was not something to be questioned. At least, not for that reason.
What is more surprising is that, having been told he would be the father of a nation, through Isaac, Abraham was all set to follow God’s instructions to the letter – there was no “But, God, you said…” or “You can’t be serious..”. Instead, he prepared Isaac for sacrifice, binding him, laying him on the altar, raising the knife. I’m not sure what this would have done for the relationship between Isaac and his Father, but certainly it shows that Abraham had enormous trust in his God. YAHWEH had promised that he, Abraham, would be the Father of a nation, through his son Isaac, and so, believing that God had a plan, he did what he was told to do. Even to the point of being ready to kill his son.
The sacrifice of Isaac, 1966 - Marc Chagall - WikiArt.org
And, as we know, it all turned out well in the end (except for the ram caught in the thicket) and Isaac was reprieved. The Covenant was fulfilled and the Jewish nation was born, and multiplied through Abraham and his descendants.
Abraham had no idea how this was going to turn out and yet he still went ahead, doing what he had been told to do – possibly muttering under his breath “how on earth is this going to work out…? –and he saw the wheels of the plan of God put in motion. He did what he had been told to do, even though it seemed to be the opposite of what God had promised.
I think the Psalmist was a little like Abraham too. He (or she) was perplexed that their life was not easy, although they were doing what God had asked. In obedience they had followed the Covenant, and yet here they were, oppressed and grieving, set upon by their enemies, with none of the promised protection and good things, that supposedly come to those who obey their Lord. But the Psalm finishes with optimism, with a belief that all shall be well: But I put my trust in your mercy; my heart is joyful because of your saving help. I will sing to the Lord, for he has dealt with me richly; I will praise the Name of the Lord Most High.
Finally, like Abraham, the Psalmist learns that there is a plan, even if we do not see it, and what we need to do is trust and have faith that God knows what he is doing. That having made the Covenant with Israel, and later with us, when we became Christian, he will not let us down. But we must also remember that living by faith is not always cheerful, and easily managed. There is often the idea that those of deep faith never grumble, never rail against God or experience feelings of hardship or abandonment. This psalm captures a real vision of living. We can venture from the highs of the knowledge of all that God has given us to the lows of feeling bereft and distant from God’s presence. But through it all there is obedience to God – trust in his mercy.
In the Epistle that we heard read, Paul compares slavery to sin to being slaves to righteousness. Perhaps in these current days, speaking of slavery, using it as a metaphor, makes us feel uncomfortable but it is a useful metaphor, for it reminds us of two things:
  • Slaves have no choice but to obey their masters
  • And what they were told to do, and how they were treated by their owners, depended very much on who the owner was.
And this is as it is with us. I suppose the difference is that we have been given the choice about which master we will serve and obey. Will we choose the way of selfishness and thoughtlessness, or will we choose the way of love? And having chosen that way, will we obey our master?
As slaves do not do as they are told because of any reward, we too should not obey God in the hope of a reward – we have moved beyond that. As Bishop Mark reminded us, we do it because we can do no other. As Father Thomas reminded us, God’s grace is unmerited favour that we should respond to with loving obedience. Having been saved by grace, we want to show that grace and that love to others
The last passage is a little more difficult to include in this notion of obedience, as it seems to be talking about what other people do for us…If they welcome us, then they will be rewarded. But we should remember that this short passage comes from a longer set of instructions, where Jesus is sending the disciples out into the world. He has already warned them that they will face dangers, and conflict, but also that they will meet welcoming people, who will be interested in what they have to say. And Jesus has also reminded his disciples that God cares for them – as he cares for the sparrows that are bought and sold, even more so he cares for us, as we are involved in the unfolding of his plan, of his Kingdom on earth. And those who welcome others will be part of that Kingdom, whether it is us welcoming the stranger, or the stranger welcoming us. We are being told to both give and receive generously.
And so we see that as the Jewish religion developed and grew, it moved further away from the other polytheistic religions of the surrounding cultures. And as it evolved, and grew apart, YAHWEH began to mould the belief system…Speaking the voice of God, the prophet Hosea says: For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings” or from the prophet Micah: Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God”
More and more we see that God, YAHWEH, does not demand sacrifices of animals, or crops. In the Psalms we read: You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
There is the sense with sacrifice that you have given something to God and so you deserve a reward. Sacrifice is a way of “buying” whatever we want to get from God (protection, deliverance, provision, favour), while at the same time remaining independent from him. “God, look at all I’ve done for you! You owe me this, it’s only fair!” we say. We demand our goodies from God, but we retain our right to do what we want with our lives. We just need to make sure we throw a few sacrifices God’s way every once in a while to keep him at bay.
But the religion of the Covenant moves further away from this until we read in Mark: to love God with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices”
The life of sacrifice is a life of demanding my rights and living as I wish. The life of obedience, though, is a response to God’s gracious invitation and is lived as an upward spiral of dependence and intimacy. This is why Jesus didn’t say, “If you love me, sacrifice for me.” Instead he said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”
This kind of obedience (as a response to divine love) always leads to intimacy and dependence. Yes, we are slaves, but in the words of Bryan Ferry (sorry!) we are slaves to love.
And as slaves to love, we should be willing and ready to carry out the demands of our Master, in the same way as Abraham. In the same way as the Psalmist. Trusting that what we are asked to do is part of God’s plan; trusting that we are playing a part in bringing the Kingdom of heaven to others.
I know that at times – both during 40 Acts, and at other times – I have felt an impulse to do something for others, and then thought “Don’t be stupid. That’s ridiculous…” and I have turned away from doing it. Who knows what wonders could have happened had I been obedient enough to do these things? When we look at some of the Acts in 40 Acts they seem whimsical or ridiculous – how is giving a chocolate bar to a stranger bringing about God’s Kingdom? But the chocolate bar is a way of saying “I care”…which leads to conversations about Christ, or the seed of a thought planted that will come to fruition two, three, ten, whatever years down the line.
Thankfully, our salvation, our relationship with God, our Covenant does not rely on what we do. It does not rely on our actions.
As Paul reminds us, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord – it is a gift, and if I disobey, I do not lose that gift; I can repent, I can say I’m sorry, and I can turn back into God’s love and life. I can turn back to obedience to my Master.
Finally, I finish with the words of a woman quoted by another commentator: I know why I want my morality to save me. If I’m saved by my good works, then like a taxpayer, I have rights. I’ve paid into the system and God owes me a good and decent life. And there is a limit to what the Father can ask of me. But if I’m saved by sheer grace, then my life belongs entirely to the Father, he owes me nothing and there is no limit to what he can ask of me.
We have been saved by grace. Our life belongs to our Father.
Lord God,
Help us to be willing to walk in your light. to show others the way to your heart. to bring hope and healing to the world. With a gift as simple as a cup of water, and as complex as our lives, we will obey you by serving those around us.
We know that the only sacrifice that pleases you is the open, willing sacrifice of our hearts and lives.
As Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac for you, help us to be as willing to become your slaves and work tirelessly to bring about your Kingdom
.

This is my chair

As the poems that I shared from “I Could Pee on This – & other poems by cats” was so well received, I thought I’d share a couple more…

This is my chair

This is my chair

This is my couch

That is my bed

That is my bench

There is my chaise

There is my settee

Those are my footstools

Those are my rugs

Everywhere is my place to sleep

Perhaps you should just get a hotel room.

 

FOREVER

I could lie by your side for the rest of our lives

I think I’ll walk away right now.

I could let you pet me for a hundred years

I think we need some time apart

I could be kissed a thousand thousand times

I think I’m needed somewhere else

I could sit on your lap forever

I said, I could sit on your lap forever

Don’t you even think of trying to get up

Well, you should have gone to the bathroom beforehand

Because forever is a very, very long time.

Witterings (mostly about work)

Hi.

Not sure what to write about but I feel I should pop in…

It’s a frustrating day – I had two lessons planned – both by computer. The first one, this morning, was a failure as the connection was bad and kept cutting out. After 20 minutes we gave up and rescheduled. My student is a really low level, and it would be hard enough face to face. By computer it’s difficult and with a flakey internet connection it’s nigh-on impossible!

Then half an hour before my second lesson, I got a text saying she couldn’t make it because of an unplanned event. At least I get paid for that one – but I’m left feeling like I’ve been marking time today. That’s actually not true, as I spent the morning doing admin tasks that needed doing, and actually, I could get on and do my ironing this afternoon, but it just feels like a day that went wrong.

I’m coming to a dry period with work – most of my Wednesday students finish for the summer, as they’re mostly school students. Of the two that aren’t school students, one has a boat on the Med, and so dissappears for weeks away on the boa. The other still wants lessons through summer, but as she looks after grandchildren and also goes away, I may find that being sporadic. I’ve come to the end of all but 4 of my contracts with one language centre (and two of those will finish by the end of July), and with the other Language Centre, I have about three or four students by computer plus one group who will finish in July too.

Happily, Mr FD’s job, and money saved during lockdown will keep us afloat. Also I should get the full, one-off payment for one course of lessons by the end of July which will be over 1,000€. So I’m not worried about money. Things are always light during July/August/beginning of September and they should pick up when the schools go back.

I’ve made some cards recently – I took photos, but don’t seem to be able to put them on my computer to show you. Frustrating. They were for the three young men that I’ve been teaching who are off to university/ further education in September. I’ll have to try to find some new students to take their places.

I’ve been taking face to face lessons for about a month now – at Bonjour World, the Covid-19 precautions are fairly thorough, with masks being worn in public areas, hand sanitiser and cleaning spray in all rooms, and social distancing (1m) in the classrooms. At Metaform, I’ve been mostly alone in the satellite office – so again, social distancing and frequent hand gelling have been the order of the day. My private students have been less careful – I try to keep 1m apart, but it’s not always easy. The number of cases in our area is low, so I’m not too worried, but I’m still mostly avoiding crowded places, except when it’s unavoidable. Or it’s Noz. But then I wear a mask and try to remember to hand sanitize on leaving (but I’m not very good at remembering!)

Lord, this is a boring post.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve all dropped off into a snoring pile of readers like the cats above!