Miffed

Here is Bib, looking miffed.

But why is she looking miffed?

Because of this:

This is Jasper sleeping in a box.

A few days ago, Michel across the road gave us some vegetables – half a marrow, some green beans, some parsley, and lots of new potatoes, all in a box. We ate the green beans, put the marrow in the fridge (I still haven’t used it), chopped and froze the parsley and left the potatoes in the box, on the work surface. We went into the kitchen a few hours later and found Bib ensconced on top of the knobbly potatoes and fast asleep.

She had claimed the box as her own! We reclaimed the potatoes as our own, but left her the box.

Unfortunately Jasper decided he liked the look of the box, and so now there is a constant turnover of cats going in the box. One claims it (currently Bib) but at one time or another needs to get out – to eat something, to stretch, to answer a call of nature, to go for a stroll – and then another one will hop in and mount a takeover bid! So far Jasper, Bib and Pomme have been fighting for ownership of the box. Millie isn’t interested.

PS I know we shouldn’t allow cats to loll on worksurfaces, but it’s difficult to keep them off, as the kitchen is their only access point to the balcony. Be assured we use chopping boards and anti-bac spray.

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O, taste and see…

Today is Trinity Sunday, the Sunday after Pentecost, when the Church celebrates the doctrine of the Trinity, the triune nature of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But for many, these almost exclusively “male” terms do not really help define the nature of God. Other terms, such as Creator, Saviour, Enabler, can mean more as they give a clue as to the nature of each aspect of God.

I know that for a lot of people the Trinity is a difficult concept – are we talking about one God, or three Gods?

For me, it’s almost as simple as thinking about a person. Let’s take Morag:

To her children, first and foremost, Morag is “mum”. But that is not the end of it. She is not just “mum”

Morag is a social worker. She helps people find their way off the streets. To her clients, Morag is (perhaps) their “saviour” – she gives them what they need to find a new life. But that’s not the end of it. She’s not just a social worker.

Morag likes to get together with her friends, and she loves chatting, giving advice, helping her friends improve themselves and be the best they can be. Maybe she volunteers for a charity, maybe she works for The Samaritans… But she is more than just these things.

We would not say that Morag is “just a mum” or “just a social worker”. She is all of these things and more.

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is trying to explain this about God. S/he (I don’t want to say “it” but nor do I want to use a gender specific term) is not just a Creator-God, as that implies once the creation is finished, then so is God’s work. Nor is s/he just a Saviour-God, nor just an Enabler-God. S/he is all of those things and more. We can’t just pick one aspect of God and say “THIS is God” – however much we might want to.

I once preached a sermon on Trinity Sunday to the Eglise Reformée, in which I compared the Trinity to a Mars bar (Bear with me…) Here’s what I said:

Ici, j’ai un Mars.

Il y a le chocolat, la nougatine et le caramel. Chaque partie est délicieuse toute seule. J’adore le chocolat, j’aime la nougatine et le caramel. On peut manger les trois parties séparément. Mais ce n’est que quand les trois partis sont ensemble que nous avons la vraie friandise qui est le Mars. Sans chocolat, ce n’est pas un Mars, Sans nougatine, ce n’est pas un Mars, Sans caramel, ce n’est pas un Mars. Il est impossible de séparer les trois parties et encore avoir un Mars.

Dieu est un peu comme le Mars – c’est impossible de séparé les trois personnes de la Trinité. Les trois personnes  travaillent ensemble, ont la même volonté, la même énergie. Séparés on a le Père, le Fils, le Saint Esprit. Ensemble on a Dieu, l’inexprimable, qui mérite toutes nos louanges.

J’espère que je ne vous ai pas choqués avec cette petite métaphore. C’est seulement une petite plaisanterie, une autre manière d’expliquer quelque chose qui est impossible à expliquer. C’est aussi un petit rappel, parce que j’ai un Mars pour chacun de vous. Et quand vous mangerez votre Mars, je voudrais que vous pensiez à Dieu, que vous réfléchissiez sur la Mystère de la Trinité, et, avec l’auteur des Psaumes vous pourrez dire :

« Sentez et voyez combien l’Eternel est bon »

(C’est mieux en Anglais, parce que la traduction est « Goutez et voyez combien l’Eternel est bon », mais…tant pis !)

Sentez et voyez combien l’Eternel est bon.  AMEN.

I’m not quite sure what the congregation made of it, but if, as I suggested, they considered the Trinity each time they ate a Mars bar, well…Maybe it wasn’t completely wasted!

Walk like an Egyptian

One of my great pleasures, and a way I can while away many a long hour, is browsing other people’s blogs. There are many I enjoy reading, even if I don’t often comment on them. Some are people who live in France, others have commented on my blog, others are from people living a very different lifestyle to mine, some are people walking their Christian pilgrimage, others are of different or no faith. Some I visit regularly, others I only pop into occasionally.

One blog I enjoy from time to time is Multicoloured Madnesswritten by a Christian mum, who homeschools her children, and has a husband with MS. I’m not sure where in the UK they live, but I enjoy reading what the family gets up to.  The tag-line is “Faith, Family, Food, Fun” – which just about sums up the content, recounting the gentle rhythms of life in this family.

In one post recently, San writes about some of the things her daughter has been doing as part of her homeschooling project on Ancient Egypt. One of these was making an Egyptian death mask.

This reminded me of when I was teaching Year 5s and we too were studying the Ancient Egyptians. We too made death masks. Nowadays, it’s possible to buy plastic or polystyrene white masks at a reasonable price, which can be painted quite easily, but my colleague and I were working on a limited budget, some 20 years ago. We could have gone with moulding papier maché, but that takes forever to dry, and it often seemed to go mouldy. So we decided to use plaster of paris infused bandages, which dried relatively quickly.

Having received permission from parents,  we set to work over a period of a few weeks’ art lessons. We explained to the children that  their faces would be greased with vaseline, to stop the mask from sticking, and then the teacher would layer the bandages over their face; of course, tempted though we might have been, we would not block up the nostrils, so they would be able to breathe. They would have to sit very still for ten minutes, while the plaster set, and then the mask would be removed. Then they could design the head-dress, the collar, and the “beard” which would then be placed around their own, individual death mask, which had been spray painted gold. All very exciting.

This school in Essex has obviously had the same idea

“Now, don’t worry,” we said to the children. “You’ll be able to breathe at all times. You’re in no danger. But you must sit very still for about 10 minutes, and you mustn’t try to talk, because that will crack the plaster of Paris. However, if it is really, truly too scary for you, and you are starting to panic, then wave your arms in the air and we’ll remove the mask immediately.”

Everyone agreed that this signal was only in an emergency, and the messy job of plastering over faces commenced. It was a bit like a production line: one child smeared vaseline over another child’s face, I layered the bandages over the face, they child waited for 10/15 minutes, my colleague removed the mask, and meanwhile the other children worked on their collars/head dresses, cutting out and sticking shiny paper for jewels and so forth. Everything was going well, with no incidents, until suddenly we heard frantic squeaking and a boy – who we shall name Gary (because that was his name) – started waving his arms manically. PANIC STATIONS!

I rushed over to him, and ripped the barely set mask from his face, ruining all the careful smoothing of bandages.

“Gosh,” he said, with a big grin, “I was getting a bit hot in there. It’s OK now though.”

I looked at the ruined mess of bandages and plaster, and refrained from screaming. Just. Tempting though it was to hand him the mess and say “That’s your mask” I think we did (finally) allow him to have another go, but we made him wait till the end, and told him that we would ignore any hand waving!!

Ah, happy days….

******

As a side note, Gary was the same child who, on a visit to the Cotswold Wildlife Park, came rushing over to me.

“Miss! Miss!” he yelled, “The llama just spat at me!”

I paused, not quite knowing what to say. But Gary continued: “It’s okay though. I just spat back!”

 

 

Treated by a 13 year old

We had a bit of a frustrating day on Thursday. We went to Roanne to do the shopping for the week, & because I had an appointment with the “Chemo doctor” (I don’t really know what title to give her!)

After the shopping we had decided to try the newish English bakery that’s opened in Roanne but sadly there was an unscheduled closing that day, so we missed out on trying their fish & chips. We went to La Pataterie instead – baked potatoes with cheese and ham. Which were very nice. But not what we had really wanted to eat!

Then we went to the hospital for my appointment. Luckily we were early as noboidy seemed to know where we were going – we wandered around, asking people, for quite some time. It didn’t help that my doctor was married to another doctor in a different department, so we got sent to see the Mr before the mistake was rectified to go to the Mrs.

When we finally got to see her, she looked about 13! I know she wasn’t (obviously!) but that didn’t help. I didn’t feel quite as confident in her as in Dr Meunier (the oncology surgeon I’ve been seeing) but still… I was also hoping to have a start date for chemo, but I still need more blood tests, and ECG and an appointment to fit the “box” that will feed the chemo into my veins, so it won’t be for at least another week.

 

I think I said somewhere that we have booked and paid for flights to Manchester, plus tickets to see Bill Bailey and Elbow the first weekend of March. If I have chemo the week beginning 11th Feb then I will probably be be OK to go. If I start chemo the week beginning 18th Feb, then I might be OK to go – but fatigued. If I don’t start until the week beginning 25th, then I probably won’t be going. Which will make me efferty-jeff. However the doctor knows what I’m hoping for, & she said she will endeavour to schedule the sessions so it’s possible.

Another thing I found difficult was all the bureaucracy and paperwork that needs to be completed – I am SO grateful for the 100% payment scheme, that means I pay nothing, and it doesn’t come from our insurance, but oh! The amount of stuff! And the doctor spoke heavily accented French that I found so hard to understand. Mr FD was better, and he did calm me down when I had a wobble in the middle of the (one-and-a-half hour long) consultation.

At the end I was very happy to go to Friend Alison’s to drink wine, to eat nibbles and to decompress a little!!

Zentangles – and a piece of advice.

Advice first:

If you have had a tumour removed, and are possibly facing chemotherapy (but it’s not sure) DON’T, for the love of God, and for your own sanity’s sake, read this book:

The descriptions of the chemotherapy that the heroine of the story has to go through will make you shit-scared and very nasty to your husband (who’s only trying to help) however much you tell yourself that the young woman in the story had MUCH worse cancer than you.

And if you’re going to visit someone who has had cancer and faces the (fairly small) possibility of having chemotherapy, don’t lend them this book. It’s not great for the morale. Honestly.

And now, zentangling. (Click on the images to enlarge them)

Comeuse With A Chou said in the comments to my last post: I’ve no idea what zentangling is though (and am now intrigued). Do you have a link to a previous post describing it at all please? 

Well, if I’m honest, I would say zentangling has been around as long as doodling has, but it’s just that some rather canny Americans thought about how it could be used to their advantage, and have rather taken over what one would, in the past, have called doodling. A whole industry has grown out of it.

Rules have been formed, to say what is zentangling, and what isn’t… If I quote from the “official” page tanglepatterns.com

These are the characteristics that define a tangle:
The elemental strokes of a tangle in Zentangle

  1. a tangle is abstract, non-objective (non-representational)
  2. a tangle is non-directional, it has no up or down orientation — there’s no “right side up”
  3. a tangle is usually an overall pattern that grows organically, rather than a single motif. Zentangle is about “the repetition of a stroke, not the repetition of a drawing.“
  4. a tangle is at most 2 or 3 simple strokes — “Usually the number of elemental strokes needed are 3 or less. Often, you only need one or two. By ‘elemental strokes’ we mean a dot, a straight(-ish) line, a curve (like a parenthesis), a reverse curve (like an ‘S’), and an orb or circle.“
  5. a tangle is simple enough to draw without using a pre-printed grid, pencil guidelines or an eraser. “It also has to be done without any underlying pencil structure or preplanned grid.” Inked grids or dots, however, are often part of a tangle.
  6. a tangle never uses rulers, stencils, or any other mechanical construction aids
  7. a tangle is elegant, unique

In my view, this is all a bit of cobblers – it’s making rules where there is no necessity. They say: The Zentangle® Method was designed to remove the thinking, planning, decision-making and other obstacles that often hinder creativity or even prevent people from creating art at all.

But then, by making all these rules about what is/isn’t a zentangle pattern, I feel they are stifling creativity in people all over again!!

So I take no notice of the rules – I should, apparently, be calling my work “Zentangle Inspired Art”, for example, and instead I enjoy creating art, whatever it’s called, and in whatever form. AND (shock!horror!) I use a pencil, a ruler and an eraser to create grids, especially if I’m working on something that’s going to be a gift.

All the examples shown here are mine: the sheep was done for Michelle, from Boulderneigh Farm, I think (she keeps sheep). The cat was one of my very first forays into ZIA, and was designed for a charity Spanish Stray Cats.The chicken was drawn for a blog swap of some sort, for Busy Little Chicken (she’s no longer blogging) and the sunflower was a birthday card for my sister. Finally, the Harry Potter was completed soon after my return from Lines Summer School last year, as several of the teachers were confirmed HP fans. I didn’t send it to anyone, so it’s lying around my study somewhere.

If anyone reading this would like their own personal Zentangle, do let me know in the Comments – I’m always looking for an excuse to start a new one. I’ve done many subjects, including knitting, Celtic crosses, dolphins, fairies… If you want yo see other examples, click on the “tag” title Zentangles and you should find others that I’ve done.

I hope that answers your question, Chomeuse…

Just like buses…

I like a nice wedding, me – as long as I know people there, of course.

I went to my God-daughter’s wedding three years ago – it was a lovely occasion, but I was a bit nervous of knowing just the bride, her mother & father. I’m not great at meeting people for the first time and making small talk. Happily, there were two very old friends who I’d lost touch with, and we had a great time, catching up, talking and soon. But that had been mly first wedding for donkey’s years.

My niece, Rose, got married two summers ago, but that really was a quiet “do”. The whole family met for a meal the night before, then Rose, and David, my mum, my brother, and David’s parents went to the registry office, and we joined them for a cup of coffee afterwards. And that was it.

That was it for weddings – we’d not expected them really – young people very often don’t get married. My other niece, Ruth, has two children and has been living with Dave for several years, my nephew Kieran has two children and has been with his girlfriend for several years…So Mr FD and I were delighted to be invited to the wedding of my Godson’s brother and his girlfriend.

We are very close to Alison and Kit, my Godson’s parents, and it is always a pleasure to see them when we’re in the UK. The date of the wedding is 7th April, and I’m keeping my fingers very firmly crossed that treatment will be finished, and I’ll be allowed to travel.

Then, last week, I get a text from Ruth “Hey, guess what! We’re getting married! You’re invited! 7th April!”

WHAT?! The same date! When you’ve had all those years to decide to get married, and you choose the same bloody date as the wedding we’re already going to !?! Oh, for goodness’ sake!

We’re going to the wedding we accepted the invitation to first – of course – but we hope to be able to get up to see Ruth & David either before or after their wedding – but it is quite a long way from Abergevenny to Newcastle-on-Tyne!!

Zav, Isa’s wife-to-be, wanted to have 1,000 paper cranes at the wedding venue. There’s a link to one article about the significance; here’s a quotation from another, which says:

Traditionally in Japan, the bride’s father made the cranes and presented them to the bride on her wedding day. Today, the cranes can be made by the bride’s parents as a gift and well wish for the newlyweds. The bride alone or the couple together can also take on the task, learning patience, commitment and communication in the face of a long challenging task. Or, folding the cranes can be divided among many friends and family, and turned into social events and fun times spent together ahead of the wedding

I asked Alison recently how many they’d made “About 65” she said, despâiringly… I’m not sure they’re going to manage the desired 1,000, if I’m honest! So guess what I’ve zentangled as a wedding present!

Yes! A crane! I haven’t decided if it’s finished yet, or if I want to add some colour, or a background. What do you think?

So, for us, weddings seem to be like buses: none for ages then two come along together!! Let’s hope I’m able to go to either (or both!)