Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One of the things we do when we put up Christmas decorations is to replace the normal candles in our big candle holder with Father Christmas ones.

Although we've done this for some years this time the Stepdaughter took a step back and said "those Father Christmasses are doing the Nazi salute"

Well, taking another look at them I feel that their arms are at the wrong angle for that. I feel that they are just waving at us.

They certainly give me seasonal feelings and nothing else.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hmmm. I'm feeling a bit dubious at the moment. I've just back from an appointment with my doctor to monitor my blood pressure. Again. This time it was 150 over 85 which is a lot better than a few months ago when he first put me on BP pills. (Loathsome things - difficult to swallow as they disintegrate in the mouth.)

He said that as a last stand before doubling my BP medication I should use a home kit to monitor my BP every day - just in case visiting the surgery is making it go up. So I bought a kit from the chemists and am trying to learn how to use it. I'm not sure I've got it right though. Just now it said that I was 189 over 122. Either I'm not using it right or perhaps the mere effort of using it makes my BP go higher.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Christmas Decorations are up

It took the Husband later than usual this year to decide to put up the decorations, not surprising given what he has been through. But in the last few days he decided the time is right and called the Stepdaughter around the other evening to help put them all up.

I've taken pictures of some of the decorations but not of the chains. Luckily these are chains we've had for years because it's now difficult to find them in the shops. I can't imagine why as I always feel that they give a really Christmassy feel to a room.

And yes, that's a picture of us to the left of the clock, taken on our wedding day. 14 years ago now.

How time flies.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Now This I Couldn't Resist

I'm Charles the Mad. Sclooop.
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

You are Charles VI of France, also known as Charles the Mad or Charles the Well-Beloved! A fine, amiable and dreamy young man, skilled in horsemanship and archery, you were also from a long line of dribbling madmen. King at 12 and quickly married to your sweetheart, Bavarian Princess Isabeau, you enjoyed many happy months together before either of you could speak anything of the other's language. However, after illness you became a tad unstable. When a raving lunatic ran up to your entourage spouting an incoherent prophecy of doom, you were unsettled enough to slaughter four of your best men when a page dropped a lance. Your hair and nails fell out. At a royal masquerade, you and your courtiers dressed as wild men, ending in tragedy when four of them accidentally caught fire and burned to death. You were saved by the timely intervention of the Duchess of Berry's underskirts.

This brought on another bout of sickness, which surgeons countered by drilling holes in your skull. The following months saw you suffer an exorcism, beg your friends to kill you, go into hyperactive fits of gaiety, run through your rooms to the point of exhaustion, hide from imaginary assassins, claim your name was Georges, deny that you were King and fail to recognise your family. You smashed furniture and wet yourself at regular intervals. Passing briefly into erratic genius, you believed yourself to be made of glass and demanded iron rods in your attire to prevent you breaking.

In 1405 you stopped bathing, shaving or changing your clothes. This went on until several men were hired to blacken their faces, hide, jump out and shout "boo!", upon which you resumed basic hygiene. Despite this, your wife continued sleeping with you until 1407, when she hired a young beauty, Odette de Champdivers, to take her place. Isabeau then consoled herself, as it were, with your brother. Her lovers followed thick and fast while you became a pawn of your court, until you had her latest beau strangled and drowned.

A severe fever was fended off with oranges and pomegranates in vast quantities, but you succumbed again in 1422 and died. Your disease was most likely hereditary. Unfortunately, you had anywhere up to eleven children, who variously went on to develop capriciousness, great cruelty, insecurity, paranoia, revulsion towards food and, in one case, a phobia of bridges.
I’ll be glad when tomorrow comes and we’ll no longer be pestered by political canvassers. Yes, we’ve an election in this ward tomorrow. December is an odd time to have one but it has become necessary due to the exploits of our previous councillor, who was also Mayor for the Borough of Chelmsford.

You could, I suppose, call him a Naughty Boy. Personally I would call him a Complete Idiot. Let’s face it, if you are Mayor and are using a Council’s computer on official business then you don’t download child pornography onto that computer. Of course the police found out and undertook a formal investigation. And then the local media found out and so on and so forth. Finally he resigned as our councillor and as the Mayor.

There are four political parties all desperate to fill his place: the Conservatives, Labour, the Lib-Dems and even UKIP. The trouble for us is that they don’t have every ward in the Borough on which to disseminate their efforts and so this time everything is concentrated just on our ward. So we are being pestered and pestered. Hardly a day goes by without at least one paper or leaflet being thrust through our letterbox. I’ve had telephone calls and one candidate knocked on the door. Yesterday I handed to the Husband a handwritten envelope addressed to him that I assumed was a Christmas card. It wasn’t, it was another leaflet.

We’ve even had a leaflet from the UKIP candidate which really amused us. Talk about a total lack of understanding of the extent of power held by a local councillor: he clearly thinks that being elected will make him controller of our government. But other than that light relief we are just exasperated at the amount of stuff they have sent us. The paper recycling sack is full of it.

Oh well. It’s a prime lesson how the actions on one can affect the many. And the sooner tomorrow comes the better.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Yesterday was a good day, busy but good. The Stepson came back from Cambridge for the weekend, spent Saturday with his mother and came to us on Sunday and stayed overnight. His sister came round yesterday with her boyfriend.

It was just a normal Sunday really. I cooked a meal. Then we sat and talked and talked. The Husband pursuaded the Boyfriend, a techie in work life, to look at our computer. He did a lot to the machine but in the very limited time he had we still haven't worked out how to transfer files of audiobooks recorded from cassettes into iTunes. I'll have to have another look at that.

The Husband has just returned from driving the Stepson to visit a friend in Bishops Stortford and turning on the computer I see that the Step Daughter has sent us something that made us smile. Some of them make you think too. So, here it is....

The Philosophy of Ambiguity

1. Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.
2. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor....
3. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
4. If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?
5. The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.
6. I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where's the self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.
7. What if there were no hypothetical questions?
8. If a deaf person swears, does his mother wash his hands with soap?
9. If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?
10. Is there another word for synonym?
11. Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all?"
12. What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?
13. If a parsley farmer is sued, can they garnish his wages?
14. Would a fly without wings be called a walk?
15 Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?
16. If a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
17. Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
18. If the police arrest a mute, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?
19. Why do they put Braille on the drive-through bank machines?
20. How do they get deer to cross the road only at those yellow roadsigns?
21. What was the best thing before sliced bread?
22. One nice thing about egotists: They don't talk about other people.
23. Does the Little Mermaid wear an algebra?
24. Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?
25. How is it possible to have a civil war?
26. If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown too?
27. If you ate both pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry?
28. If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done?
29. Whose cruel idea was it for the word "Lisp" to have "S" in it?
30. Why are haemorrhoids called "haemorrhoids" instead of "assteroids"?
31. Why is it called tourist season if we can't shoot at them?
32. Why is there an expiration date on sour cream?
33. If you spin an oriental man in a circle three times does he become disoriented?
34. Can an atheist get insurance against acts of God?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sometimes change is sad but inevitable.

When we moved into this house, about 12-13 years ago there was a cherry tree in the front garden, almost on on the boundary to the pavement. It had obviously been there for some years, we assume since the house was originally built. I used to enjoy the green leaves that really added something to the view from any of the front windows of the house from spring to autumn. And, of course, for about a week every Spring it was a mass of pink which decorated the entire street. For this beauty we used to put up with the layer of pink petals that used to cover every surface of the car, flower beds and drive immediately afterwards.

Anyway last spring there wasn't as many blossoms as usual, in fact they were very sparse. And as the summer continued leaves on the branches died several months prematurely. It became clear that the tree was in a poor way. I knew we had to do something about it and we had decided to remove it. I was getting a bit worried in fact as after every strong wind there would be twigs laying on the road and in the garden. My (always active) imagination began to play visions of a branch falling onto a passer-by on the pavement. But I'd no idea of where to find a good tree surgeon.

Then one day last week I heard the sound of a circular saw close by and looking out of the window I realised that one of the houses nearby was having some work done to their sycamore tree. In fact they too were having the tree chopped down. This was a magnificent specimen but I knew that they wanted to get rid of it and clearly they had found a company capable of doing the job. And to my eyes they looked very capable.

So I nipped along and had a word with one of them and asked for an estimate to remove the cherry tree. He had a look at it and told me that at some stage it had been pollarded and then left to grow naturally, something that always weakened a tree.

Two days later an estimate arrived in the post and it was much less than I expected both to cut down the tree and poison the roots. So yesterday I rang them up and asked them to do the task. Their first action was to contact the council to check that there were no planning restrictions on the tree and no preservation order. They rang us back this morning to say that they had heard from the council, all was well and they could do it today. I nipped down to the bank, for obvious reasons, and by the time I had returned home they had already started.

It didn't take them long. And when they put poison on the roots (to avoid suckers - a real problem with cherries) they also did so on my neighbour's sycamore, which explains how they happened to be in the area.

When he had finished the tree surgeon told us that the cherry's trunk was almost completely dead and that if left the branches could have been a health & safety hazard. So we were right to have the tree cut down.

But it hasn't stopped both of us feeling sad that the tree had to go. It was lovely in its prime. But life moves on. In the Spring I shall look for something pretty to cover the stump.