Bits and bobs and 40 Acts (21 & 22)

Hello dear ones – thank you so much for your supportive and encouraging comments on my last post. They really helped me, and I appreciate the fact that you all took time to post a commernt. If you haven’t seen the comments from other people, I encourage you to go back & read them: they might help you too.


Yesterday I went for a short walk – a walk I’d probably do in 10 minutes took me about twice that time, and I felt quite breathless by the end of it. I will do the same today, straight after I’ve finished this post. I’m still sleeping more than normal – usually 10 – 11 hours a night, especially if I’ve taken an iboprofene. The “front door” is causing me some discomfort/pain when I lie on my side, I think because it’s getting squished up and pressed into the flesh, but that’s the side I feel most comfortable to sleep on. If I sleep on my back I get backache; if I sleep on my right side, my arthritic hip hurts! The iboprofene makes everything more comfortable, so I sleep better, but I don’t feel happy taking one every night!

Tonight we’re going to a birthday party – a 120th birthday party. But not for a very old person, but two 60 year olds! Of course, being French, it starts at 8 pm and is likely to go on until Lord-knows-when in the morning. It’s not considered a party in France if you’re not still awake when the cock crows! Thankfully, I have my illness as a perfect excuse to slip away at about 11.00 pm. “We would love to stay, but I’m afraid…” Mind you, the last big birthday party we went to they had only just served the main course at 11.00 pm, so we may not get the full meal!

Even though birthday cards aren’t really a French tradition, I have, of course, made one:


I hope they like it.

I don’t want to be too late to bed either, as I hope to make it to church tomorrow as well. A friend from church came over on Thursday, bringing me three hats she’d knitted for me – so, together with a lovely one that Michelle knitted, I am all set. Except my hair is showing no sign of falling out yet! I’ve got an appointment at a coiffeuse/wig shop on Tuesday too, but at the moment everything seems to be anchored to my scalp! Which might be a good thing aesthetically, but it makes me worry that the chemotherapy isn’t doing its job, as it should be killing off all the fast-growing cells, which include hair follicles and cancer cells. Oh well, I can always check up with the doctor on Thursday before my next session.

Onto 40 Acts:

ACT 21:: ACTION: Three weeks in – we’re halfway there! By now, generosity is probably sinking a little deeper into our lives. It’s a great time to put action behind our words. Think of moments when you’ve read or heard about something generous and thought, ‘That’s a nice idea,’ but never get around to doing it. Now’s the time. Only one act for today: What act have you put off over the last few weeks? What sounded like a good idea at the time, but you never got around to doing? Put it at the top of today’s to-do list.

Well, for me, the main act really is donating to Phone Credit for Refugees and Displaced Persons

This is a fantastic but tiny charity, started by one man, James. The website says: James came up with the idea while volunteering at the refugee camp in Calais known as The Jungle.  After talking regularly to people within the camp he realised that phone credit was a lifeline for many – and something he could help with from his home in Norfolk!

In the beginning, the process was very simple. James created a Facebook group, and added all his friends and some of the refugees he had met while volunteering. His goal was to have his close contacts provide phone credit to the handful of refugees he had come to know so well.

The group grew and grew, with his FB friends adding more friends, and they added more. Now over 64,000 members chip in when they can, donating £5, or more, to give credit to those who are desperate to contact their families left behind, or to contact aid agencies. This phone credit has saved the lives of vulnerable people, especially minors and women, so often targeted in camps.

Every Friday there is the Friday Conga, where everyone who can comments and donates (if possible), doing something important with FB algorithms that helps the group. I can’t always donate, I often forget to comment. But I’m going to make a concerted effort to start doing so. My Act 21 is to start saving 2€ coins, and when I have 10€ to make a donation. Can you afford to give a one-off donation to PC4R? This tells you how:


ACT 22: VALUED:: Today, a guaranteed way of making a difference. Talk up a service staff member. It’s such an easy chance to make a difference in someone’s day – but ask any service staff member, and you’ll hear how rarely it happens. Don’t let fear of insincerity put you off. A simple ‘You’re amazing, thank you for that!’ goes a long way when it’s well meant.  

I actually completed the Green task a couple of days ago, contacting the restaurant where we’d eaten on Saturday to compliment the waiter who had been very attentive to us. I certainly used to do this in the UK:  if I had received good service from a shop assistant I’d go to Customer Services, and say “I will complain if I receive bad service…” The face would fall “So equally I want to compliment good service…” The face would smile, and I would explain who had been helpful etc.

Sadly, France is not exactly the epitome of good customer service, with requests for help being met more often than not with a surly shrug. But I can still smile, and be polite and say Thank You to everyone who helps me, whether they do it with a smile or a shrug.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Thank you for reading!!


Koala Zentangle

Floating Gold asked if I could do a Koala-Panda zentangle. I plumped for the koala side of the combination and came up with this. (Click on it to see it larger)

I’m quite fond of him, I have to say! Floating Gold also said she liked him. (I think FG is a she. If not, I apologise.)

As (almost) always, the initial picture isn’t mine – I think this was taken from a photo – but the zentangling part is.


Surprise Christmas present!

Well, not quite a surprise, as Mr FD kept telling me it was on its way, but a surprise because I had no idea what it was.

It arrived today (not a Pusheen cat!) and I am delighted!

As the blurb says “365 Days of Art is an inspiring daily journal designed to help you nurture your creativity and develop a love of art” It gives 365 prompts to various art projects to complete:

Day 282: What is in the jars? Pickles?Fruit? Insects? What would you store in these jars?

Day 330: Add flowers to the stalks

It is something else to add to the things to do during my days at home: I do my 15 minute mile, using a Leslie Sansome YouTube video, and then I enter competitions…Really, by the law of averages, I have to win something! My poor friend Cathy is the “Scape Tagger” when it’s a FB competition, when I have to tag someone. She’s been tagged several times today! (Mind you, this pays her back for all of those “Like-and-share” pictures I get from her!!) I try to blog too – you might have noticed an upsurge in blog posts recently! Then I might do some zentangling too, although competition entry took over an hour today: there were lots to enter! It’s practically lunch time (scrambled egg today)

In the afternoon I will maybe continue zentangling, but I will add my 365 Days… to this now. I listen to Pray As You Go, and read another poem from “The Splash of Words”

Mark Oakley spoke to us at the  Vocation Discernment weekend in Budapest during November. He is an inspirational speaker and the book is really interesting. The blurb on Amazon reads: For those who know they enjoy poetry, and those for whom it is just a memory from schooldays, here is a rich feast that enables us to rediscover poetrys power to startle, challenge and reframe our vision. Like throwing a pebble into water, a poem causes a splash of words whose ripples can transform the way we see the world, ourselves and God. The Splash of Words argues that belief in poetry is vital for understanding that God is in the world as poetry is in a poem. It includes 40 poems from contemporary poets, as well as poems from earlier generations. Each is accompanied by a reflection, based on a deep understanding of poets and their art, which explores why poetry is vital to faith and how scripture, liturgy and theology are all poetry in motion.

I would argue that if you think you don’t like poetry this is an excellent book to help you, not understand poetry, but to experience it, to feel it, to grasp the very edges of what the poet is saying.

And usually too, I will read some of my French novel, although I have rather neglected this recently.

As the weather gets better I will try to get outside too for some sunshine (should the sun ever return!!)

So…lunch time now!

PS – We finished watching Line of Duty Series 1 last night! We decided we couldn’t wait. We now have to try not to watch Series 2 till next week. Otherwise, we’ll binge watch and it will all be finished!

Creativity – again!!

As I’m not working at the moment – and probably won’t be for the next few months – I’ve been finding ways to fill up my time…Mostly reading blogs, reading, reading my French novel (slowly), and doing art work.

I’m not like Angry Cat though – I’m relaxed and laid back. As I said, I’ve been finding the concentration necessary for creating Celtic knotwork very good. Here is the latest piece:

 (This is bizarre: I can see the picture on my dashboard, but when I view it as a blog post it’s not there. I’ll try again later. Very odd…)

ETA: A few days later I have added the picture wiuth no problems at all. Hmmm. The ways of computers are strange!!

Circle me, Lord. Keep protection near and danger afar.

Circle me, Lord Keep hope within. Keep doubt without.

Circle me, Lord. Keep light near And darkness afar.

Circle me, Lord. Keep peace within. Keep evil out.

The prayer is by David Adams. I was quite pleased with the design – this is the Meigal Spiral Interlace – although I will admit that my “ribbon” went a bit wobbly, and isn’t the same width throughout. Still, it’s not a bad first attempt! I gave this to Rob and Caireen, my Rector & his wife, for a Burns Night gift; Caireen is Scottish, and Rob is Canadian of Scottish descent, so it seemed appropriate.

The other piece of art work is for a friend’s birthday. He’s a jazz musician, and plays the saxophone:

I never realised how complicated saxophones were!! Because I’d “zentangled” inside the sax, I decided to colour it, using pastels, to make it stand out a little:

I’m reasonably pleased with it. (Though not with my photography! As usual it’s all a bit blurred. I really will have to try to improve!) I’m just wondering whether the bass clef needs to be blackened in to make it stand out more.

It’s a similar design to a zentangle I did for Kezzie way back, and for someone at church too. It’s quite a pleasing design for a musician, with the instruments being changed depending on those  played by the recipient.

The other thing I’ve started doing is “Walk a Mile in 15 Minutes” videos on YouTube – I’m not convinced that I am actually walking the equivalent of a mile, but it’s reasonably engaging, and it gets me moving.

Yesterday I got a bit carried away by the over enthusiastic instructor lady, and thrust my arms skyward, in time to the music, forgetting I still have scars that aren’t healed…My breast was a bit painful last night – particularly where I have a haemotoma formed – so today I didn’t really “pump” my arms as instructed. However I did everything else and in 15 minutes I got a bit breathless, so I assume it’s doing me good.

Bonne Année! Bonne Santé!

Yes, being in France, I can still wish you Bonne Année in the middle of January. It’s a good excuse as well when the Christmas cards are late!

I was going to share with you what’s been occupying me these past couple of days, but my camera battery has decided it needs recharging NOW so won’t take any photos. But as a “tease” this picture gives some clue as to what has been taking rather too much of my time

This isn’t mine – I’m notquite that talented yet – but I’ve been enjoying myself drawing some Celtic knotwork, using some YouTube tutorials to help. I’ll show you mine tomorrow.

But for now, I thought I’d share with you something one of my students sent me:

7 resolutions for 2018

1. Live more in the present moment

2. Smile a lot, and often

3. Say “stop” to your mind when it is racing (? Not sure of my translation here)

4. Be as positive as possible

5. Celebrate the victories, however small.

6. Abandon stress and anxiety (easier said than done, in some cases!)

7. Make your life nbetter than you have ever dreamed

Yes, okay, they are a bit trite – and, in many situations, easier said than done – but I appreciated the thought.

A lot of bloggers choose a word for the year. I discovered that (I’d forgotten this!!)in January 2017  I’d chosen a phrase for the year “a different way”… I’m not sure it made that much difference, unfortunately!

This year though, I have two words:


With what I’m going through at the moment, both of these words are apposite. Reminding me that I need to have strength, but equally I need to have trust in God.

I have been wondering about ordering myself a Mudlove bracelet with one or both these words on:

Mudlove  is an American company which makes these lovely pottery bracelets and supports the provisionof water in the Central african Republic. As the site says:

Every product you purchase provides 1 week of safe, clean water to someone in need. All of this is made possible through Water for Good and their continual work to transform one of the world’s most neglected countries, the Central African Republic.

Right now, about 663 million people lack access to clean water. That’s more than twice the entire population of the United States! Water is the first step out of extreme poverty. It is estimated that women and children spend 140 million hours each day collecting water. 

Can you imagine going for one week without access to clean water? A week of safe, sanitary water changes things in a big way for entire communities. Women have time for jobs and family care. Children can attend school, avoid preventable diseases, and live longer, happier lives.

What do you think? D’you think I should go for it?

A bit of creativity

Hello Dear Ones. I hope everyone is in good health.

I’m still improving, and will be going for tea with friends in a little while. Which is good. It will be a slow walk to their house, but it will do me good to get out.

I thought I would share with you something I made before Christmas – a friend asked me to calligraph something for her 4 grandchildren. I was quite pleased with the results:

I really do need to improve my photography skills! Still, I hope you can see them well enough. I was quite pleased with them.


Another bit of creativity was some soup that I made today – I was up to chopping the veg with my right hand, but the pan-lifting had to be done with my left (scar on the right breast) It was very nice

  • 1kg leeks, finely chopped in a food processor
  • 1kg sweet potato, peeled and finely chopped in a food processor
  • 50g butter
  • 1tbsp Light and mild olive oil
  • 2tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp each of ground clove, coriander, cumin, mild chilli and cardamom
  • Generous sprinkling of ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 11/2 pints Vegetable stock
  • 300ml single cream
  • 50g fresh coriander leaf, finely chopped, leaving a few whole leaves for garnish


  • Gently sweat the shredded leek in the butter and olive oil for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in the spices and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the sweet potato, seasoning and stock. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Whiz in batches in a food processor with the single cream and coriander until smooth. Top with the coriander leaf

I chopped the vegetables rather than using a food processor – less washing up and I couldn’t have lifted the food processor anyway! I used less butter and oil, and less cream. I actually used 3 tbsp of 15% creme fraiche, which was plenty. I also missed out the fresh coriander.

I’m pleased with how I’m feeling now I’m doing stuff rather than just moping.



Crafting and Umbrellas

Not “crafting umbrellas” – I wasn’t making umbrellas, you understand!

While the English on this Lolcats annoys me – the cat left his umbrella at home, he didn’t forget his umbrella at home – it is such a perfect illustration that I felt I had to use it.

On Thursday morning the sky was an ominous grey when I left the house, so I grabbed my waterproof. Which doesn’t have a hood. By the time I left the company where I had been working all morning, ready to drive to ILS (the language school where I work), it was pouring down. Torrential. The car park for ILS is about a 3 minute walk from the offices, so I knew I was going to get soaked, even with my waterproof.

And I didn’t have my umbrella with me.

I had forgotten it.

I had left it at home.

So I decided to nip into Gifi and buy a cheap one. Which I did.

When I arrived at ILS, the rain had reduced itself to a drizzle. By the time I parked the car (it was a tight fit, and the car is big!) and taken a phone call, the rain was spitting and spotting. By the time I reached ILS, the sun had come out and it was blue skies for the rest of the day. AND I found that I had my umbrella at the bottom of my capacious handbag after all.

I hadn’t forgotten it.

I hadn’t left it at home.

But finally, no umbrella was necessary anyway. Sigh.

On a cheerier note, it was the birthday of Friend Alison’s daughter. She is reaching pre teenager-hood. So I gave her a voucher for H&M, two sparkly nail varnishes, and a pair of delightful cat socks, which someonehad given me, but which (sadly) were too small. Like these:

And, of course, I made her a card. I took inspiration from one of the many card making magazines that I buy in the UK. I usually buy them for the free gifts, as a lot of the cards that they demonstrate use cutting dies, or heat guns, or embossing glitter, or this…or that…which I don’t have.This time, I decided to find a card I liked, then try to replicate it with the materials I had.

The instructions that were given were for using fabrics, and sewing machines, and other stuff. I “translated” it into using paper and glue…and I made this:

this picture taken without a flash

this taken with a flash

I used papers from my stash, most of which I’ve been given, plus lots of ephemera/ commercial embellishments that I have bought in Noz. The little bronze embellishment was given to me by Monique across the road – she gave me a bundle of little brass charms from her antique shop, which I have been slowly using on cards. This one shows the Eiffel Tower.

There is a pocket on the card, into which I popped some motivational messages:

  • You are braver than you believe, stronger than you appear and more talented than you ever dreamed possible
  • You are a strong girl – never forget that.
  • Nothing is impossible
  • You are pear-fect

I think she liked it all. I was certainly rather pleased with the card – even though it was a tyad too front-heavy so you had to prop it open quite carefully!