Thursday, 18 December 2008

Going South

I really enjoy painting skies, and am now getting good at fluffing up the edges of clouds to get rid of stark straight edges of white paper next to paint. Although I think I need to now work on figures... my person and dog look a little like something out of a children's story book.

I've just visited my daughter and granddaughter on the south coast... child-minding overnight. Despite living there for many years bringing up my four daughters, I now love getting onto the A34 at Winchester, putting my foot down and speeding (not literally) home to West Oxfordshire. I don't miss the vast conurbations or hectic road systems around Southampton, Portsmouth and Winchester. I long for the country roads and butter coloured stone of the little villages I've come to love. The one thing that I loved about being down south again, apart from seeing my lovely family that is, is the sound of sea gulls as we strolled through Chichester North Street. They were swooping and diving above us and their calls brought many memories of living by the sea.

I don't mind going south on regular visits, but I wouldn't want to live there again... not unless I could get a very nice cottage along the Dorset coast... yeah, right! Me and the rest of the population!

Back home I love my own bed and awake this morning looking around my bedroom, thinking how lucky I am. Lonely, but lucky!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Yet more artwork

I find I enjoy painting snow scenes more and more... but the chances of having a real life snow scene to paint is pretty remote.

I think this one looks less like a 'paint by numbers' attempt, but what would I know?

I've never like Sundays since he died; being a day of the week in which other couples and families 'do' things. I listen to my neighbours banging their back door, starting up their car with boys, going in and out of the gate and opening and shutting the garage door. Lots of activity and interaction in contrast to my little quiet life. So, I went off to the Gym to swim and lose myself in the pool where I concentrate on achieving more powerful lengths. Not to gain muscle or lean tissue, but just for something to achieve.

I have got into the habit of then sitting in the little food bar, drinking a skinny cappuccino while reading my Sunday newspaper. Again, it's to make me feel part of something. People mingle, come and go, chat and wait for partners to emerge from the changing rooms, while others just sit and read the papers - like me. This week I found only 62 pence in my purse, so when the girl behind the bar, (my dance partner of the last few weeks), happened to ask if I wanted my usual coffee, I had to say that I was broke. I chatted to her for a while, asking how she was and how were her children etc., and she seemed happy to chat back despite suffering with a bad cold. A while later, I was reading my paper at a little table, when she approached carrying a coffee. She coughed, looked around and said, "sorry it's been so long in coming." She smiled and put the coffee on the table. It was such a nice thing to do and filled my heart.

It's the little things that give me such pleasure and make me aware that there are good people around after all. It made me feel visible, warm and fluffy. She is an angel.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

More artwork

I think I'm getting the 'hang' of this now! I attempted this scene - taken from my beginners watercolour book, (Alwyn Crawshaw, Collins Press). I did it in a couple of hours, taking a break midway to make a cup of tea while the mountains and sky dried. That was when Pebble decided to walk across it. His paw prints can still be seen despite my repair work.

I took it into Art class yesterday evening to lots of applause from classmates, however, the teacher thought it looked a bit like 'paint by numbers'.

During the evening I managed two more snow scenes, trying not to make them look as though they were 'paint by numbers', while the teacher went in and out of the classroom more times than a fiddler's elbow. At the end of the session she handed us a piece of A5 pink paper to write down our thoughts on the course. She also told us that the continuation course in January would be another Beginners' course and that she would show us a few more techniques while going through the whole syllabus again. Others were writing out their cheques while I looked on incredulously. Am I the only one to think that this was another College attempt to get 'bums on seats', never mind the level of students?

Before leaving the class for good, I crammed as much onto my small 'course evaluation' piece of paper as was possible, trying to be constructive rather than destructive. To think I used to be the Training Evaluator for a large organisation, designing methodologies for evaluation, review and design of courses! It all seems such a long time ago now, and these recent experiences have made me feel as though I have never existed.

Despite the pleas of my art colleagues, I think I shall pass on signing up for January. I shall look around for another Art class with hopefully, a teacher that has a bit more nouse and who can steer me away from 'paint by numbers'!

More paintings to follow...

Monday, 8 December 2008

A hint of spring

At last week's art class I had to bring in a 'still life' to paint. I grabbed a small pot of miniature daffodils that a kind friend had given me, in the hope that I could do them justice. I surprised myself and probably the teacher too. I am now 'getting it', that is the concept of watercolour painting. Tomorrow is the last class of the beginners' course. Now... do I continue on to the Intermediate level? One or two class mates want me too, so that we can learn together. We have learnt how to drag information out of the teacher... so, why not? I just have to find the money for another ten week course.

As for hearing from the charitable organisation as to the results of their second investigation... today I received a second copy of my Leadership skills qualification. Am I the only one to see the irony of it all? There is no letter, no word, no email or phone call. At least the organisation is constant in its lack of communication.

I will be having a daughter and granddaughter to stay for Christmas after all. No lonely Christmas for me yet, though no doubt, it will happen at some point during the remainder of my lifetime.

Tonight, little amorous man in the jacuzzi (wife absent), asked me if my dancing class (run by the Gym for Children in Need), was any good. 'Yes... really good.' I replied. I went on to describe how we all attempted, with much humour, the Cha Cha Cha, Rumba, Rock 'n Roll and Samba. He asked if he joined the next class would I be there. 'Umm, not sure - probably not' I said, now on my guard. Pity, says he, as he would very much want to dance with me. Yuk! I got out of the pool, saying 'swapping partners was not allowed.' Not that I had a proper male partner... a girl who works at the Gym has been my partner for the last five weeks. How feeble was my reply to this thick-skinned man? I drove home thinking that I really must be more assertive and next time (and I think that this guy will indeed attempt a 'next time'), I will tell him to eff off! Perhaps that will do the trick!

I'd rather paint daffodils than negotiate around a dance floor with silly little men while their wives look on. Is it me?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Artwork and life

Someone said to me that snow scenes were dead easy... being white on white! Let me tell you that they are the most difficult to paint... minimalist in the extreme! I am coming to grips with watercolour painting and I'm beginning to understand the way in which the water makes the paint work! This is by accident rather than by divine and expert tuition; although, I have now devised a way to extract tuition from the reluctant tutor without her feeling threatened!

If I could only develop a bit more expert knowledge and my own style, I could paint a picture for each of all my family members and give as a Christmas present!

Having spent the week caring for a grandson who contracted a winter gastric flu bug from thoughtless 'outlaws' last weekend, and has been very poorly, I am now screaming to do my own thing and continue with both my painting of bathrooms and bedrooms... and, my watercolour attempts. However, I don't feel too good, and I think I may have caught the flu bug. Downing loads of sparkling water, vitamins and healthy foods, I hope to get a good night's sleep and awake refreshed and bug-free. Yeah, right!

Grandson and I had a good old chat today, and he is very sensitive and thoughtful, particularly about relationships and has a genuine concern for his wayward and totally differently-minded brother. A brother who manages to get into all kinds of trouble, who is selfish, bullish and erring on the criminally-minded. It is a dilemma for my grandson who feels responsible for his own brother. He is only eleven but carries the world upon his shoulders. All I could do was ensure that I would always be here for him and would do all I could to help. How could two brothers be so different in temperament and in sense of right and wrong? It happens! I recalled the extreme differences between my own brother and myself. It's hard to accept that sometimes, siblings can vary so much and be extreme in their behaviour and thoughts. At moments like this I feel ancient and wise; also helpless and useless. Sometimes we have to sit back and let time and events happen. I know that one of my grandsons will do well and be a likeable, kind, honest and trustworthy person; while I suspect that the other will, or may, learn the hard way. Both have a happy home life with caring parents who have always instilled right from wrong... so, we can only assume that their differing temperament is due to nature rather than nurture.

Genes are genes and set before birth. All I can do is be there for both and try to help them on their own path through life... for the short time I have left on this planet!

It's good to listen to my grandson, for he takes my mind off my own loneliness and today he mentioned my lovely departed man and how he missed him. I sometimes forget that others miss him too, and that I am not the only one who suffers.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Painting

My Art class last Tuesday was not good! I hadn't a clue as to what I was supposed to be doing and when I asked those next to me... they didn't know either. Consequently my mountains were crap... although my sky and water was quite good.

At the end of the two hour session, when the tutor happened to walk close to me for the first time in the entire evening, I asked where I'd gone wrong. She sat down and demonstrated how to do the mountains. A bit late, I thought. Two hours of frustration had gone by. She said, when I mentioned it... "Did I not demonstrate...?" "No", I said, and added, "it would be helpful to me if next session, you could demonstrate to the different groups so that we may all benefit." She gave me a kind of blank expression and said, "Yes, I suppose I could do that." She then walked off and out for another ciggy. Is it me? I ask myself. People next to me hadn't a clue either and listened intently as she demonstrated to me how we should have done the mountains two hours earlier!

So, onto another kind of painting whereby my daughter, granddaughter and I spent the whole weekend painting three rooms in my house... why? Because I'm so fed up with looking at Builders' Magnolia that has been splattered with squashed mosquitoes and grand children's dirty fingermarks.

The result is excellent... but then, I knew exactly what colours to use and what the final result was to be, and exactly how to go about it to achieve the finished look. So different to my Art Class.

At least I can paint walls, ceilings and woodwork!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Builders' Magnolia

I've cleaned my car - as best I can... I always seem to miss a bit; the lower 'sills' I think they are called? I know that cold weather is imminent and thought it best to have a clean frozen car rather than a dirty one. Why? Don't know!

I have just spent a fortune on my credit card for paint! Yes, I want to get rid of the remainder of my Builders' Magnolia, which is now a dirty version of the original, complete with swatted dead mosquitoes and children's' fingerprints. I have chosen 'Liqueur' for my bedroom and 'Old Gold' for the bathroom. I don't mind the painting, but I loathe all the preparation. So, daughter number two and granddaughter are coming up tomorrow to help me out. It's the shifting and lifting that wears me out. With a little bit of help I should be fine.

I don't know what I'm doing for Christmas... my daughters are all tied up with other things and visiting other people for the festivities, leaving me all alone for the first time - ever! I didn't think this would happen to me. It's something I have to get through - me and the cats! Perhaps it will be okay... we'll see!

I haven't made a Christmas cake, or a Christmas pudding. I have no money for presents for everyone this year. I have no where to go. This is a strange situation and quite alien to me. Part of me just wants to hibernate until the New Year when it's all over. But, why should I complain? There are thousands of people in a much worse situation than me. I have a lovely house, with heat, warmth and a little food; a TV and a large comfortable bed. More importantly, I have my health and my lovely memories... oh, and a Gin and Tonic if I should need one! I am indeed a lucky woman!

Monday, 17 November 2008

Country living - alone

I read Liz Jones's Diary in yesterday's Mail on Sunday; it mirrored my own thoughts and feelings on living in the country - isolated with only animals for company. The noisiest one being the Barn Owl and his mates.

Like Liz, I wonder what on earth I'm doing living so far from civilisation when I'm so, so very lonely. Then I read further into her page, realising that it isn't the place that makes you lonely, so much as the fact that there is no one to share anything with. If I had my lovely man here with me, I would fully appreciate and love the sound of owls, foxes, birds, geese and ducks and all the other sounds of nature that are free from noisy motorbikes, screaming kids and shouting mothers, engines revving and lorries thundering along. I don't have the world and his wife rushing past my window, looking in my open windows at my furniture.

Liz sums it up when she says, "I want to be loved". Don't we all?

There must be thousands of people in this country living alone who feel unloved and very lonely. However, when I meet with some of my friends, I listen to them moaning about their husbands and partners. I see them hurry off home to make sure dinner is made on time - not so much out of love, but to avoid a row. I watch their lack of decision and their lack of confidence and low self-esteem that has somehow crept up on them over the many years of being in a marriage that is not quite equal. They cannot make arrangements to meet up without first asking permission. They have to ask to have the car or to even have pocket money.

While I too am lonely, I don't want to be in a relationship that is one-sided or dominated by someone else. My first marriage was along those lines and it took twenty-four years before I escaped. My second marriage was so very different. We were equal; we cared for each other deeply and never, ever undermined each other. I was very lucky to have such a rare and loving relationship, albeit only ten years, before he died.

While I empathise with Liz Jones, I would not enter into any relationship that would jeopardise my individuality and freedom to exist. I get very lonely, but I'm learning to live with it. Having a man (any man) around isn't always the answer... perhaps getting to know, value and love oneself comes first!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Somewhere over the Rainbow

While walking in the park at Blenheim Palace this week, my good friend, who'd just given me the most delightful massage, and I, saw the most amazing rainbow as we turned and looked behind us.

It lifted me up and out of my self-indulgent thoughts and reminded me that I am just a speck on this planet, with no influence on the higher nature of things. I felt small - again. Once upon a time, when working for a large organisation, I used to think that I could move mountains, secure agreements and change the world, or rather the small world I worked within. How wrong and silly of me. All the corporate wranglings and office in-fighting meant nothing in the big scheme of the Universe. I have moved on and learnt that nothing really matters any more, except to be good, honest and accept things and people as they really are, and to look upon the nasty ones as being hurt and damaged people. Am I religious... No! Am I wiser...Yes!

With all this wisdom comes a sense of 'Ah well, getting up out of bed in the morning gives a feeling of achievement' now, when to be honest, I could just stay there. I look forward to the small things, like a cuddle from my cats, a cappucino, a swim, a soak in a scented bath, listening to good music, sneaking a bit of very dark chocolate (as if anyone was going to tell me off), watching a sentimental film, curling up on my sofa in front of a log fire with just a few scented candles lit. My world has become smaller and more personal. Even though I don't have much money at the moment, I still went out today and bought myself some scented body lotion. I suppose the need to pamper myself stems from the fact that I am alone and lonely and no longer have cuddles from the one I loved.

My friend pointed out that it may be lucky to see such a complete rainbow. It made me aware of just how small and insignificant I really am. Just a small speck. A person trying to cope and trying to look after herself in small and little ways in order to get through another day and another week. Bit by bit, inch by inch I hope to get somewhere... where? I don't yet know.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

A different View

I thought it time to share my meagre art attempts with the rest of my blogger friends... sorry! Here is a tree in winter, and yes, I know the colours are vivid and hot, but that was the mood I was in last night at Watercolours for Beginners class!

I have bought a wonderful book that takes me through the steps and techniques to achieve something worthwhile... something I don't seem to gleen from the Tutor who keeps nipping outside for a ciggy! I think this must be her first teaching job and it must be quite stressful for her, even though we are a mild-mannered and docile bunch.

The tree was supposed to be in muted grey colours and a muted grey/pink background... but hey, isn't it all down to interpretation? Having bought the requisite 'rigger' paintbrush last week, I now have to fork out for a flat head brush for next week's lesson! I have made two new friends in the process, which makes it all worthwhile.

As for the organisation that has so far, let me and several others down badly... I am awaiting (but not much hope) for a reply to my letter to the Head Honcho in London, whereby I enclosed all correspondence and my thoughts! He probably won't read it, and will pass it down (as expected) to middle management to deal with. I have no real hopes of achieving anything now.

I think of 'him' more and more lately... I don't know why, but, I have now resigned myself to an existence of daily achievements with no hope of replicating what I had before. It is a monumental milestone to realise and to accept that 'this is it'. Realisation brings long periods of 'down' time... resolution, acceptance and resignation of the situation. I feel disappointed that so far, I have achieved not much in life except to have been loved and to love. That in itself is more than some people achieve. So back to my watercolour painting... it fills a small gap.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Perfection in our hopes

How can anyone try and beat or perfect nature? The precision and perfection of colour are exquisite in this view of the pom pom dahlia, which thankfully is coming back into gardening fashion!

I have viewed and watched various photos and video clips of Barack Obama and what I see through my intuitive eye is a man who believes he can do good. I wonder though, how much he can do good with so many in attendance who will deter him from his righteous path in the name of politics? In today's Daily Mail he was likened to the first heady days of Blair. He too, looked like the saviour for our country. We are all too gullible and too willing to believe in a saviour. If he or she looks the part then as a nation we are fooled.

If Obama had been a single mother too... then he would have performed a hat trick!

I only hope that America will now review it's former prejudices and embrace the change that has happened.

There have been many times during the last three years when I couldn't have given a damn, but I now find myself taking an interest in World matters. It's a pity that the new president elect hasn't managed to push up the FTSE index, then I'd be a lot happier and would not have to scour the papers for a job!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Fat Cats Abound

I hadn't noticed it before, but judging from this photo of Pebble, he may have a squint! This could explain why he doesn't catch any mice or birds! He probably sees two of them!

I have forgone the ritual swim in the pool tonight... for some reason I'm tired...(could be all the swimming)! And the prospect of being talked to by Mr Amorous again - should his wife not be there.

Yesterday I had lunch with two friends from years' ago and with whom I trained the majority of a county Police Force in IT skills. They had found a photograph of my lovely man - taken in 1988 while he was on the Firearms Team.
It was a time when he was young, strong and in my view strikingly attractive... not that he wasn't when we first met some six years' after the photo was taken. I recognised his colleagues and it brought back some very good memories of when I was doing something worthwhile and something I enjoyed - teaching and training.

My Tuesday night art class reminds me of twenty-five years' ago when I first embarked on an IT course for women returners to work. The teaching was so appalling I decided to become a teacher. On Tuesday nights I'm reminded of just how appalling some teaching really is and although I've applied and am on the register of several colleges to teach staff how to teach - nothing... not a bite. I suspect (again), that teaching and training of college staff is done by existing staff as an 'add-on' and not worth employing someone new. So I sit in my Art class while the teacher pops outside for her usual ciggy and wanders around the class not giving out any useful tips or techniques that I can grab and successfully use. It's a case of experimentation with some lucky accidents and several torn-up disasters.

While my cats seem happy, I worry now that their appointment next week for an innoculation booster will result in my being reprimanded for over-feeding them.

Monday, 3 November 2008

I feel a lot better for sending my email to the certain charitable organisation that has allowed a bully to reign. I have withdrawn and have stated my reasons why. I don't particularly care if they respond, but it would be good if they paid more attention to their policies and acted upon them in future. Time to move on.

I went for a swim tonight, and boy am I getting toned. I can now swim very powerfully for several lengths without my heart exploding out of my chest. And with only two other people in the pool, it was good. As I got out of the pool, who should walk in, but Mr Amorous, without his wife tonight. He whistled as he walked towards the Jacuzzi, nodding at me as I got out of the pool. He asked me how my Art class at college was going - (we bumped into each other one evening at the college). I asked how his German class was going. We exchanged just a few sentences and I left. Then in the Bar on my way out, he waved and signalled me over. He asked if I'd like a drink. "No thanks", said I. And I walked out. He looked a little crest fallen, but what was I to do? I don't fancy him, he's married and short. End of story!

It's good stuff for my novel though! Thank you Puddock and Richard!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Log Fires and multi-tasking

My multi-fuel burner is now going full tilt; central heating turned right down to save oil; electricity use is to a minimum and a few candles are burning - great for giving me a wonderful complexion - should anyone be around to notice.

A week spent with daughter and granddaughter - doing lots of DIY jobs around the house and garden. Their help has been just what I've needed to get my life organised again and to take my mind off a letter that arrived at the beginning of the week. A certain organisation has supposedly sorted out Mr Nasty... Ha! The two page letter points out in a thinly veiled way that I am putting everyone to a lot of trouble and causing a lot of extra expense, and why oh why (it asks) did I go down the 'formal' route instead of just discussing the unimportant little episode over a cup of tea"? The TV advert for Oxfam comes to mind... shouting out No to injustice!

Onwards and upwards from now on. Life is too short for all of this. I shall look for something else to do when not sitting in front of my log fire stroking my two cats, drinking tea and listening to soft music while reading by candlelight. Now that's what I call multi-tasking.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Dahlias under threat

This coming week will see the end of my dahlias - there's frost on the way, and due to living in an exposed area that receives the gales straight from the Bristol channel, there will be no respite for my little garden.

The clocks have gone back and it's taken me all day to reset all eight of them! I was hungry at five instead of six, the cats wanted their meal at four instead of five, and my washing got damp because I left it out too long! Now I'm knackered at ten instead of eleven.

Tomorrow I pick up my daughter and my grand-daughter who will be staying with me for most of the half-term holiday. Not much money to spend this time as my reserves are dwindling and I may find myself in real financial difficulty soon.

So, it will be jacket spuds with baked beans or tinned tuna - all from Tesco - rather than Sainsburys or Waitrose. I will be roasting a chicken, then making soup the following day and making a stir fry from left overs. I'm batch cooking and loading the freezer with meals for one to see me up to at least Christmas. I have pumpkins galore which will be turned into soup. However, I have discovered these last three lonely years that I can live quite frugally on my own. In fact the cats get more spent on their food than I do!

If only I could find a lumberjack who could supply me with logs all winter. I'd also like to find a man who could do massage properly; another who could cook and another who could make me laugh. Ah well, I shall have to just flex my muscles and do everything myself, although the massage bit is difficult.

I've cut the last of my dahlias and roses and brought them indoors to brighten the house. And so ends the summer... not that it had begun. I enter another long, dark, lonely winter of uncertainty, but being an optimist at heart, I'm always looking for what might be.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Who's the pumpkin round here?

Today we, the militant tendency, or splinter group, or famous five... have had our first meeting, putting together our constitution in order to obtain a bank account for our very own conservation group. Scary stuff!

Working out how to word the section on volunteer behaviour was a bit tricky, but essential to avoid any future occurrences of unacceptable behaviour.

Undertaking tasks is the easy bit... dealing with other human beings and all their idiosyncrasies and varied value systems and behaviour is another matter. What have we let ourselves in for? Why are we doing this? Are we the pumpkins?

All will be well as long as a certain Mr Nasty doesn't try and inveigle his way in. It's a shame the organisation in question doesn't have more teeth to its bite and assist us... I suppose everyone these days is afraid of doing the wrong thing, eg., human rights and litigation and all that, never mind those who have been bullied and feel vulnerable!

Perhaps we could find some really nice, strong men of any age willing to support us and come along to our weekly conservation sessions, who would also guard against any bullying or intimidation issues. I'd provide the cake!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Anger drops like leaves

Today was the first meeting with a representative from the charitable organisation dealing with the incident of bullying and aggressive behaviour. So much time has elapsed since the event that I no longer feel anger at the nasty bully, nor do I feel anger at the deplorable mishandling of the situation by the organisation - after all, not many have the ba***, or courage to act swiftly and finally. However, some good comes out of these things and we (the militant tendency who've said 'No' to bullying) are thinking of setting up our own group - with the backing and support of the organisation in question. We are still thinking about it... the support will have to be bloody good!!!

As the rain patters down outside my window this evening, the leaves from nearby trees are falling to the ground - not in submission, but in preparation for coming alive again in the spring - in a slightly different array of leaves and splendour.

My tears are similar... I cry not in anger or shock or unacceptable loss - not any more. My tears trickle slowly in acceptance of the love we had, and I smile at all the happy times. Anger drops away, leaving room for growth. A much healthier view, I think!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Autumn and change

After nearly four weeks of being kept in the dark regarding the bully and the charitable organisation's actions, it seems there is hope after all and that some kind of justice will prevail. Four weeks of being 'in limbo' wondering what to do with my Wednesdays or what other group I could join has left me drained with an outbreak of cold sores and a nose bleed. And, it's true, stress really does age your skin!

Meanwhile, I've swum for Britain and given myself muscle strain; I've dug for victory and re-designed my front garden - moving plants around and digging up the bindweed - again. I've cleaned and polished the house so much even the annoying Anthea Turner would be pleased.

I've also made an amazing discovery; little amorous man in the swimming pool -(he of the sneaky smiles and winks - for the last year), was in the jacuzzi looking as brown as a nut. Sat beside him was another equally nut-brown woman. He looked embarrased and climbed out. I asked the woman where she'd been to get such a deep tan. "I can't pronounce Fuert...ventura - but it was in the Canaries". She talked freely about their holiday and referred to her husband's job - that of an ex-policeman who now has a civilian job with them. I asked if the man that was sitting next to her was her husband. "Oh yeah, that's him." She said miserably. What a horrible little man, thought I.

The more I see of the men around here, the more I want just the company of my cats.

I feel change coming over me again - not the Jeckyll and Hyde kind of change, nor a hormonal one, but more of a 'rising out of the ashes' change. I feel stronger again, happier and more self-assured. I make a resolution not to let a Bully ever 'pull me down' into the depths of my boots - ever again.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

In loving memory...again

Yep... another year gone by since my lovely man departed this planet, and the rose shown is called 'in loving memory' and still it blooms.

I don't know if I am getting resigned to the loneliness, or if my destiny is that I am to be alone now until my own death. The fact is, that I no longer gaze at other men I see in the street or at the Gym. No one could ever match up to my man, and I feel I'm losing the will to ever find one to replace him... probably because I know I never shall.

I spend more and more time alone with my two cats, and I read more and sew more. I long to join a dancing class, but there are none in my area.

However, I've just joined a beginners' class in Watercolour painting at the local college and while the teaching is anything but good, I have at least, painted a colour chart, three oranges of dubious colour and an apple with a bite out of it. There wasn't supposed to be a bite out of it, but I got bored waiting. I was told my red wasn't the right colour red and my yellow wasn't lemony enough. Ah well, who cares?

I haven't gone out and bought three sable brushes as instructed, instead preferring to use those of my dearly departed who discovered he could paint after suffering his stroke. I use his paints and brushes and the teacher will just have to like it.

The two hour lesson sped by and I found the experience therapeutic if nothing else. It beats being bullied by a member of the other group I'd joined six months' ago and which is still under investigation. Somehow I don't think the investigation will come to much... there's funding linked to the bully and in my experience, funding always takes presidence!

Three years have gone by and still I yearn for him, still I am lonely and cry at night. Is there no end to it!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Smelling of Roses

Well, I'm so disillusioned, disappointed and in despair. I and a co-leader were aggressively bullied and because those in authority have not contacted me since I sent my report and complaint over a week ago, I phoned to ask why. The response was beyond my belief.

Perhaps I should have just 'decked' the person concerned because remaining calm during a crisis was obviously where I went wrong.

I am distraught and feel as though I've been through it all over again. There were sixteen witnesses to the event, for goodness sake! I have been kept in the dark for ten days with no response.

Why do some people always come up smelling of roses no matter what they do? My faith in human beings has reached an all-time low. I have been set back months and feel as I did after losing my lovely man - just when I had regained a reason to live again.

It's the injustice of it all that gets me. I can't and won't tell lies.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Basic Instincts

If you have any doubts that we live in a society controlled by men, try reading down the index of contributors to a volume of quotations, looking for women's names.
- Elaine Gill

I mentioned briefly in my last post about being on the receiving end of 'Mr Nasty'. Why is it that people who bully and intimidate always manage to find people who are frightened of them? Why do people not stand up to the bullies?

When on the receiving end of a tirade of aggressiveness, I was shaking inside; shocked at the level of violence in Mr Nasty's voice as he stood in front of me, sounding off. If my lovely man were there - all six foot two of him, then Mr Nasty would not even have dared scowl at me, let alone shout at me. But Mr Nasty knows I am on my own. I discovered a long time ago that bullies are, at heart, cowards. The situation I found myself in was not one where I could merrily knee Mr Nasty in the crutch, much as I wanted to. I chose to ignore him - which I think, angered him all the more. Not content with shouting at me, he verbally attacked a friend who'd come to my defence. You may want to know why the attack? Can't say at the moment - but let's say that I'm waiting to see how all this turns out in order to consider my next move. I have complained in writing, as have others. Let's now see if those in authority are intimidated or brave!

Bullies come in many guises, both men and women; often those in some kind of authority who have a damaged past. However, we are not here to psycho-analyse such people - let's leave that to the professionals. But, do we not owe it to ourselves and others to face up to the bullies? In doing so, I have gone through feelings of stress - I just hope it's worth it.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Maureen and I...

Today while reading the Sunday supplements, I came across a segment of Maureen Lipman's bitter-sweet memoirs - of which she described how she thought she had found a new love after the death of her beloved husband, Jack Rosenthal. As I read through the heart-rending thoughts of a woman bereaved, I empathised every feeling and thought. Like me, she so wants to find a new love that is every ounce as good as the love we had, and in so wanting, we sometimes miss the signs that it isn't so. Not that I have had the same experience... no Mr Nice Guy has turned up and probably never will! But her words echo my fears that no-one will ever match up to my lovely man and therefore I'm doomed to a solitary existence, dreaming of falling in love again and continually being disappointed. I don't see any men out there that I'm attracted to, although one or two have given me a second glance - probably in curiosity rather than attraction.

I like men's humour, I like their no-nonsense attitude to life and their uncomplicated view of the world. They don't over-analyse as we women tend to do, they just get on with it. I don't want to make the same mistake as Maureen Lipman in thinking that the first knight in shining armour is a replacement for what we had. But I know that just like her, that is exactly what I want! If only I could be uncomplicated and just accept compliments without worrying about future relationships and would they turn out like my lovely man! If only I could stop analysing!

I need to correct an earlier comment; I have met several Mr Nice Guys! It's just that they weren't the right Mr Nice Guy - or am I being too picky? They have all been just a tad too small, smokers, bad teeth and/or bitter from a divorce. Perhaps it's me that's the problem!

Having been on the receiving end of a very Mr Nasty recently, I hope there are a few more Mr Nice-Guys out there!

Monday, 15 September 2008

Do I have the wrong Map?

The full moon today has left me restless; urging me to rethink my path, avenue, direction or way forward. Just as my confidence and self-esteem seems to be improving by the bucket-load, I decided today, to scour the web for courses and jobs. Two emails came back 'unobtainable' and previously alluring courses are not as straightforward as they first seemed in the adverts.

Archaeology course now doesn't begin until next April; psychology is a possible still, but the price is tremendous, leaving watercolour painting for tuesday evenings! I fancied dance classes but need to travel to the other side of Oxford late at night - should I? Or, settle for Salsa at the village hall. In view of my previous experiences with sweaty married men at Jive classes, I think I'll give it a miss.

So, I shall now go for a swim in the hope that something or some better thought will come to me.

Having seen old friends over the weekend, I long for a change to my circumstances, whether it is a job, a course, meeting more people, or doing something that signifies or ensures my future existence on this planet. Just like the picture; my path is uncertain, obscured and with no guarantees that it is a path to anywhere - a bit like life! I have a map - but have still not discovered the right path!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Hopping about on lily pads

Life is so complicated... we jump from one situation into another, thinking we have a plan, but all the while we just seem to be governed by some kind of universal destiny of which we have no control.

Today, while in the south, I happened to meet an old acquaintance who looked so much older than I remembered him. His wife joined us too, we hugged and asked each other how we were, not having seen each other for at least 14 years. He is recovering from chemotherapy and having non-hodgkins lymphoma... no wonder he looked so much older. He was optimistic and upbeat, knowing he had just one more session of chemo to go. His wife used to be a student of mine and became a friend. She too looked much older than she really is. I also learnt that mutual friends were suffering from various illnesses, job losses and financial difficulties. My daughter was with me and remarked afterwards how much younger I looked, and how much laughter and life I had in me. She said that I looked no different now than I did fourteen years' ago, yet my life has been in no way better than those I met and discussed today. What is it that makes us age or not?

I came away feeling humbled and grateful for what I have, even though I've lost my lovely man. My old friends still have their partners, but life has affected them all. It's like a lucky dip... none of us know what's around the corner.

In view of all that, let's all just enjoy every moment we have on this planet. Jumping from one lily pad to another is all we have, so let's keep jumping!!

Friday, 5 September 2008

An elevated view of things

I've lately found that I seem to anticipate happenings and things people say. For example, I was driving my granddaughter back from a trip out and as I turned down the narrow country lane towards my house, for some reason, I said out loud, "Oh No"! Simultaneously I stepped on the brakes to slow right down. My granddaughter looked at me and said, "what is it"? I didn't know why, and edged the car around the corner. There before us was a large lorry with an attached crane, blocking the lane with several cars queued up waiting. I reversed into a driveway and went back the way I'd come, wondering about my momentary premonition - if that's what it was. My granddaughter looked at me for a few moments and then said, "Wow Nana, you're psychotic"!!

She could be right!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Ghostly Monks and bad behaviour

For the second time in a couple of weeks, I and one of my grandchildren, crept about a bit in the crypt at Oxford Castle looking for 'Bernard' the ghostly monk who likes (it is alledged), to play tricks on visitors. We were told that sometimes ghostly images turn up on photo-shots... not on mine! Although, some of the electric lighted candles went out while we were creeping in the crypt. I assume it must have been Bernard's day off!

Two of my four grandchildren are embarking on a new scholarly term at 'big' school and both, this week have been very nervous. I cast my ageing mind back to my first day at 'big' school and remembered the fear and then the feeling of inadequacy when trying to find my way along endless corridors, dodging very tall and grown-up pupils who seemed a world away from my childish experience. I don't envy my grandchildren, but, it is one of those necessary steps towards adulthood, which some never make successfully. And on the subject of growing up, I am constantly dismayed by those around me who haven't managed it!

Today at Green Gym, we dismantled a crumbling dry stone wall in order to repair and rebuild it. And what happened? As usual, when it came to assembling, the men took over! We mere women who have been trained, (and got the certificate I might add), were sidelined. I tried to get close with my chosen bit of stone which looked as if it might fit... but was told "We've already tried that"! So, I watched as one of the men repeatedly hammered away at a rock to make it fit. Then the instructor in charge, appeared, assessed the protruberance of an old tree root and proceeded to rectify it, before finding the proper stones to fit. Inwardly I punched a fist in the air at the intervention of an expert. So, I raked up some prunnings, pruned a bit more Ivy off the walls and poured the Teas and coffees. It wasn't worth the argument, but sometimes, I wish dominant people would just let the rest of us 'have a go'. The sun shone, there was a light, fresh breeze and a French Camera Crew filmed and interviewed us... hmmm, perhaps that's why some were more dominant and visual than usual!

I often compare my lovely man with those I have to work with now. No comparison. My lovely man was not overly dominant and always put others first. He did not boast about his achievements, nor 'muscle in' on a group task. He empowered his staff and praised constantly. He was just lovely. Having said that, he had many faults (none of them major) which I do not gloss over, and neither do I put him on a pedastal - a common mistake and occurrence of we the bereaved, thus preserving them in perfection.

In my three years' of grief, I have analysed myself and others repeatedly and no longer get too annoyed at people's failings or idiosyncrasies. If I get annoyed, it doesn't last long... I move on and let go of my feelings, letting them drop off me like raindrops - something I could not do just a few years' ago.

It's not age that has made me wiser. It's the shock and loneliness of losing my soul mate which has put everything else in the shade, hence I don't get so emotionally upset as I used to, because the worst thing that can happen, has actually happened. Nothing else matters so much any more.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Another trip to Oxford

My granddaughter will be 12 this December - a date that will always be dear to me, for the very evening she was born, my lovely man and I got together. My granddaughter is tall, bright and very attractive with deep red hair cascading down her long back. I took her along to the Green Gym, where she willingly painted our logo onto a new wheelbarrow - in bright pink enamel, along with a flower and a few dribbles! Somehow, I don't think anyone will be stealing it!

Again, I climbed the 101 curved stairs up the tower of Oxford Castle and took this picture. My granddaughter loved the day out... hopping on and off the tour buses, stopping off at various sites of interest, listening to the taped commentary about the many University Colleges and the famous people who had attended. I was absolutely knackered by five-thirty as we caught the Park and Ride Bus to my awaiting car.

Tomorrow she will be helping me on the Green Gym stall at the local Fair - a big event taking up a couple of fields in the surrounding countryside - thunderstorms expected but who cares? It's not as if we are unused to the rain this summer!

She talks of my lovely man now and then, remembering his humour and generosity. I'm glad he's not forgotten, and while alone in my thoughts today, I wondered how my grandchildren will remember me when I finally 'pop my clogs'.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Leading a Green Gym

Showers were expected, what a surprise! With my little bit of card containing my crib notes wedged into my fleece pocket I set out to co-lead our newly-formed Green Gym, not expecting many volunteers to turn up. Another surprise! There were loads of them - a bit daunting, but I began the warm-up exercises, introducing some new ones learnt from the two-day course I'd attended. All followed my lead which gave me the confidence to move onto Health and Safety and use of the Tools, finishing with strict instructions for them not to chop off their fingers and toes, nor anyone else's... not on my watch!

All went well as we edged towards tea break; no wasp stings, no broken bones, no severed bits of anatomy and everyone laughing and working hard at their chosen tasks. Only one little blip... someone's terminology to describe someone else's health issues was a bit near the mark and the matter had to be addressed - swiftly and in such a way as to leave the person under no illusion that I meant business... to enforce the point I called for back-up from the Project Leader who reiterated what I'd said. Not sure if the person has 'got it'. We shall see.

Three hours passed quickly and it was time for the cool down exercises. Why is there always one person who defiantly manages to sweep the already swept path, just to delay the exercises? I've come to the conclusion that this person is just seeking attention and likes to be called over to join the others. Whatever! What I hadn't expected was the laughter that accompanied my newly introduced exercises. Either everyone was in an exceptionally good mood, or that the Moon was in a special trine that highlighted sexual innuendo. It was not my intention that the back and shoulder stretch, with bended knees should in any way resemble (as one normally sedate and short lady suggested), we were hugging a very tall, good looking man, to which everyone laughed... picture short lady with bended knees, arms in a large circle in front of her... I think you know the connotation implied. It went downhill from there and whatever I said, someone put a different meaning into it. I wasn't sure what I was to do about this, so I chose to ignore it and moved swiftly on through the exercises, deciding to leave out the Pelvic Tilts!!! I ended with a big thank you to them all for their support.

Many said they liked the new exercises and could they have a few more new ones next time?

Later, I reflected on how my first co-leading session went. Much laughter, much work achieved and a worrying insight into the workings of the minds of some of my fellow Green Gymmers! Is it me? Am I a bad influence?

Monday, 18 August 2008

A good day in Oxford

Friday started out as a trip to Oxford Castle with the two boys - (the last day of their week-long stay). As we waited for the next guided tour to begin, I noticed a man dressed in medieval clothes hovering near the books and plastic swords and shields. He turned out to be our Tour Guide... a job I'd applied for a couple of months ago, but didn't get a reply. We climbed a hundred and so spiral stone steps up to two levels, then onto the tower to view Oxford. Then we descended again to the crypt and were told stories of ghosts and funny goings-on! The boys were enthralled and purposely stood in the 'haunted corner', hoping for a 'happening'. I fancied a 'happening' myself and went over to join them in the corner... nothing! Not even a whisper in my ear!

Outside the Castle, among the cafes was a 'Krispy Kreme' Doughnut shop... it brought back happy memories of our trip to California and buying twenty-four Krispy Kreme assorted doughnuts for our lunch while on our way from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. My lovely man was always ready to do the unusual and give me treats and surprises... how I miss him and his wonderful attitude to life. The boys and I ate a dozen doughnuts during the rest of the afternoon while on a walking quest around Oxford. We ended up at the Oxford Botanical Gardens, which I absolutely loved! Amazingly, so did the boys.

It was a good day.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Widow with a Drill

The wood store is coming along nicely, albeit held together with some dubious black plastic ties. I am, nevertheless, getting to grips with the electric drill and have managed to screw several bits together...(HA! It's the only screwing I will be doing)!

I now need to contruct a 'lean-to' roof and have been down to the local DIY store where a nice man who has been smiling at me for the last two years, called me 'my love' as he handed me my change. All uplifting stuff to a middle-aged woman dying for a screw or two! Did I really just say that?

Back to the Wood Store... various brackets hold bits of wood in place and I now have some plywood for the roof, along with some roofing felt. The whole idea is to let air circulate whilst providing a little shelter from driving rain. I'm getting there, despite not having a clue regarding woodwork, carpentry or joinery, and with no book of instructions available. It will be a 'cobbled together' work of art when it's finished, and as long as it does the job, I don't mind if it's not perfectly correct according to standard practice of the Guild of Master Craftsmen. This is a job for Oxfordshire Widow Without Funds... or OWWF, (come to think of it, my next door neighbour is a joiner, but I can't bring myself to ask him for help...hmm!)

I've been offered a job today... providing tea and cakes for the local cricket team every Saturday from September til April. It's not what I had in mind, and will not pay me enough to help me over my financial crisis. It will also get in the way of my Saturday Green Gym sessions where I shall be co-leader. Mind you, it lifted my spirits, just as the man at the DIY did. I may not be quite so useless and invisible as I first thought. I just need to earn about £500 per month to be reasonably okay. If only some of the colleges had replied to my earlier letters regarding my application to train would-be teachers. It's something I was good at and thoroughly enjoyed. Perhaps I should write again. There must be something out there for me...

Friday, 8 August 2008

A bucket load of men

What good responses I've had to my last post - my dilemma regarding a need for a good old rogering! I admire those of you who can talk to your grown-up children about these matters... I can't; not because of their reaction, but because of my not wanting to embarrass them or myself. For me, it's a delicate matter, best discussed with other women.

Last night, while sat in the hot bubbling jacuzzi, I got talking to a new member of the Gym; a tall, well-spoken man somewhere in his forties I'd guess. It was good to talk without there being any underlying sexual agenda. Person to person. Little amorous man was nowhere to be seen last night, nor was he around tonight when I again saw my newly-found friend who talked to me whilst we languished in the Jacuzzi. He spoke of his children and wife etc, and I told him about my Dry-Stone walling course. We laughed and were relaxed... so much better than being wary of sexual advances.

I came away from the Gym wishing I could find a man like that who was interesting to talk to, normal, pleasant, funny and devoid of self-importance and pride, who also was attractive - it's just a pity he was too young and married.

So, I have now come to the decision that should a man be the right age, unmarried and just as pleasant as my new Gym friend, then he can bring on the sexual advances in bucket loads... I'm ready!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Desperate or what?

I had a long telephone conversation with a long-distance friend today, primarily on the subject of men! I am in a dilemma concerning the attentions of little amourous man at the Gym; he has increased his smiles and is now saying hello and nodding at me at every opportunity. I nod back and wonder what I should do. You see, I am now 'gagging' for some kind of physical attention - yep... good old sex! It's not easy to admit this. But there is a problem, which I discussed at length with my friend... I am not usually promiscuous and have actually only 'known' two men in the whole of my adult life. While I have a 'need', I don't want to hurt anyone, or use anyone, or make myself more vulnerable by inviting someone into my life. Heavy Gardening, Green Gymming, and swimming til I feel sick, are no substitute. So, what do I do?

I sit here writing about it, having my two cubes of dark 70% chocolate, a small glass of wine - unusual for me as I don't like it very much, and a handful of mixed nuts... pondering on what I should do.

There must me thousands of women like me... of all ages, who have a 'need' but are too refined and shy to do anything about it. Where are all the bloody, good-looking, fit, intelligent and caring men that we women so desperately need?

Dead?
Married?
Gay?
Non-existent?

Is there anyone out there who can provide answers????

Having said all that, I was dressing in the Gym tonight when I overheard two women talking about their husbands... all in their fifties. One said her husband refused to come to the Gym to try and shift his overhanging beer belly. The other said her husband said that if she didn't lose some weight, he would leave her. They went on at some length about the failings of their husbands which made me glad that I was single... but then my husband was neither of these and he was always complimentary, caring, tall, sexy and adored me. The two women should re-think their relationships, because they certainly don't have what I had.

In conclusion, I think I shall never have what I had with my husband, so should I just accept the attentions of amourous little men? Or, should I just give up wanting some kind of sexual relationship and find a chemist that supplies bromide?

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Rain and Reading Articles

It's a damp, quiet and lonely day in my home. Feelings of aloneness are more acute today as I look around for things to read in order to avoid doing the ironing.

According to an article in today's paper, I am too old to wear: a) mini-skirts (why would I want to?); b) pussy-bow blouses (I never have); c) banana flat shoes, (ugh); d) spaghetti strap maxi dresses (so unflattering); or e) anything that shows a cleavage (I prefer to keep my bust covered, with or without an ill-fitting bra)!

No doubt of surprise to some - (in the Trinny and Gok camp), the majority of us have a good idea of what suits and flatters us, even if we have to shop at low-budget stores.

I read the article and thought, it really doesn't apply to me anyway... I don't go anywhere, so prefer to wear jeans or trousers and usually a T-shirt or cotton blouse (without a pussy-bow - whatever that is)!

Then I read another article that said, 'Latest research has shown that by the time women reach 48 they are the sadder sex, while men start to enjoy the best years of their lives.' The article went on to give a variety of reasons, one of them being widowhood and they qualified men's apparent enjoyment in middle-age as being due to earning more and having a good married home life. No comment!

Isn't it about time the media celebrated women of a certain age? We now look and feel younger than our mothers and grandmothers did at the same age; we have confidence, knowledge and sophistication as well as earning power. Articles on smart, elegant and ageless dressing would be good... without stereotypying us maturing women and giving us tips on dressing for our age! Style is Style, whatever the age.

I feel better for having had my say... even though just a handful of people may read this... if I'm lucky. So I gaze out of my window at the pouring rain and the patio table that hasn't had it's parasol unfurled all summer, thinking wouldn't it be nice to dress up and go out somewhere for once? Preferably with a man who is content but, not married.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

The science of Bra Making

The bras I bought a few weeks ago don't seem to fit me anymore... have I changed shape? Or did they not fit me perfectly when I first bought them, or have they changed shape in the wash?

So off I ventured again; buying bras in the size I think I am; namely: unusual and unique... in white cotton with adequate straps that can support a seemingly ever-changing pair of mammary glands.

I tried on nine bras in the fitting room and came away with one. I bought two of the same and came home; changing into one along with a new T-shirt. After half an hour, I was chafed and uncomfortable and just took the thing off. Is it me? Do I have ever-changing bosoms?

There must be a way of replicating my one and only well-fitting, fifteen year old, black lace, balconette bra. The science must be in place, surely? It was an M & S bra, which they don't seem to have reproduced at all. If I were famous, like Jeremy Paxman who managed to get Marks and Sparks to review their men's underpants upon his complaint, then they would no doubt listen to me. But who am I? Just an ordinary middle-aged widow with no clout. It all reinforces my current low self-esteem and frustration with my lot.

A well-fitted bra would not only lift my tits, but lift my spirits too.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Dry Stone Walling in the heat

A two-day course in an exquisite expanse of Cotswold countryside in heat of over 31 degrees was exhausting, sweaty, mind-numbing, but satisfying when you look at the results. A team of three women - we did our best! Not a job for the hottest weekend of this year, nor is it recommended for anyone physically limited, weak in stature or for those who hate jig-saw puzzles with the picture missing! I now know how to build a Cotswold Dry Stone Wall; a handy skill if ever I should have the opportunity to build one. In short - an excellent course, just a pity the weather was so relentlessly hot and oppressive. There was a written test at the end for anyone who wanted to gain a certificate. Our team declined as we staggered to our sun-baked cars where the smell of melting plastic and foam engulfed us as we opened the doors. Our brains were not at their best; due to heat exhaustion and sun stroke, no doubt.

During this last week I have also constructed a large wood-store with the help of my two grandsons. We moved large pots, wood pallets and a small shed in order to begin the construction. It's not bad... despite my snapping a drill bit while trying to screw holes in the thick tannelised wood; despite having to use plastic ties to join pallets together, and despite my lack of skill at using an electric drill. I can see a definite change in the shape of my biceps, and my shoulders seem to be bigger. How feminine.

Another month nearly gone, as I edge closer to the third anniversary of his death. What have I achieved, apart from dry stone-walling and building a wood store? Bigger muscles? Making a few friends with the Green Gym? I think that what I've gained most is inner calm, less anxiety over what will happen to me and a feeling that if I never, ever again find a really nice man to fall in love with, I can at least, survive reasonably well, physically and emotionally. I will somehow have to get used to the loneliness.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Headbutting is no cure

I know how she feels... my cat Banjo will be ten years' old this September, while the new addition - Pebble, will be just one year old. Just when Banjo thinks he has calmed down and she can wash him thoroughly without him swiping her with his immature paw, he attacks her playfully and being an elderly cat, she hisses and growls until he backs off. It's not easy for her and I admire her patience with him. He is confused as to how he should behave... he wants to 'rough and tumble' and chase her upstairs and in the garden while she prefers a more sedate existence.

I, on the other hand, wouldn't mind a bit of 'rough and tumble', or being chased upstairs... or, come to think of it, even the garden would be good! Enough of that!

I've been looking again at the courses on offer at Oxford College of Continuing Education... and there are three possibles; archaeology, psychology and epistomology - the latter being something I know a little of, having studied how people acquire knowledge, whilst doing my Masters in Education. I just need to work out my finances so that I could possibly do all three courses. As for finding a job, well I've scoured the papers again this week and there's nothing I can do... not unless I have an NVQ in English, Media Studies or Caring for the Elderly. Each week I feel more and more useless. You'd think that someone with an armful of qualifications, years of experience and a trunkload of training certificates could find something!

Little amourous man was swimming in the pool alongside me yesterday; powerfully doing the crawl, muscles rippling in the water, glancing at me now and then as I tried to powerfully do the breast stroke alongside him. I got out of the pool and languished in the jacuzzi, looking out of the window at the ducks on the little man-made lake. Why doesn't he get the message? As for doing the breast stoke; I have been to 'Bravissimo' to try and get a proper fitting bra. Four years' ago a woman at M&S measured me and said I was definitely a 38B. So having spent a fortune on lots of bras that don't fit, I wasn't surprised to learn that I am in fact, a 34DD. So now I have spent more money on bras that fit me for five minutes and then seem uncomfortable. I think I shall just burn the lot and go 'free', in the hope that I don't frighten the horses!

Just to add to my feeling of becoming useless, old and invisible, I read today that women's nipples shrink once past fifty-ish! So going bra-less won't be a problem - even in cold weather!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Hollyhocks and people

I have been growing hollyhocks for several years and love the surprise of their colour, for it never seems to stay the same. I'm not one for meticulously labelling everything in latin and love the surprise of an unexpected colour. Hollyhocks are like some people; flowers that can take some time to emerge and seem beautiful, but one or two plants despite their beauty can have an affliction of fungus that detracts from their overall beauty. Yep, it's good old human nature again... just when you think you have found someone 'nice', they say or do something that makes you back off.

One or two of my fellow Green Gymmers have surprised me in their abruptness, rudeness, thoughtlessness or selfishness. Such is the nature of human beings. But, for every one afflicted with a bit of fungal rust, there is another who is without blemish and who shines through.

Mama Mia... I sat with two of my daughters and laughed my socks off! It was a delight from start to finish and who'd have thought that Didcot on a Tuesday evening could be full of laughing, happy, mainly women, tumbling out of the new cinema complex talking animatedly about the film that was made on a budget and was ten years in the making due to the reluctance of Producers to take it seriously! Who cares if Mr Brosnan and Co didn't hit every note perfectly... it didn't matter because the sentiment was there, and people in the audience were shedding tears of sorrow one minute, and tears of laughter the next. Forget the critics, the film is a must... a 'feel-good' film that lifts the spirits. Highly recommended.

I wish some of my 'hollyhock' acquaintances in The Green Gym could 'let go' and just be themselves instead of making other's lives just a little less enjoyable.

Monday, 14 July 2008

A Petunia in an Onion Patch

Just like the song, 'I'm a poor little petunia in an onion patch', this opium poppy has shot up in the midst of my lavender and just like me seems so out of place amongst everyone else. I, like my fellow bereaved Puddock, am at the stage... three years almost, when I have proved too, that I can survive living in my home, I can hold conversations (of a sort) with others, can provide myself with food and entertain myself with the help of some good books, DVDs and two crazy cats who give me cuddles when I most need them. So what's the problem? I need more than DVDs and books. I too, need to be loved and cared for and have someone else to care for. The thought of spending perhaps another thirty years living in this sort of twilight world, not knowing where I fit in with society, the world or anything, is making me depressed... something I have fought against since he died.

Tomorrow night I am actually going out. Yes, to the cinema to see Mama Mia. I have roped in my daughters to accompany me; they agreed because their partners don't really fancy the film. I haven't been outside the house after eight o'clock for a very long time, except to empty the bin, and hope I can stay awake long enough to see the entire film. I'm hoping it will lift my spirits and keep me going for another week or two until I can find something else to look forward to.

On the subject of finding someone to care for and who will care for and love me ... is it all too much to hope for? I've surely had my ten years of true love, do we get another chance?

Sunday, 13 July 2008

The Postman's legs get wet.

It's not easy trying to walk up my garden path with soaking wet lavender almost meeting, and even worse for the Postman who insists on wearing shorts in the rain. Any day I expect to see him with Machete in hand and shouting something from Kung Fu as he battles up my path with his bag of mail.

Today was the first fine day for a long time, but it didn't lift my low mood. It's coming up to three years since he went and I still don't know why I'm on this planet... nothing seems to have changed! My usual optimistic approach is deserting me and I look at all the couples ( who are just about everywhere), and feel happy for them, but then feel even lonelier than before. I hurt myself today while lifting the heavy lawn-mower over the gravel, and just dissolved into tears. Is this what it's going to be like... struggling with heavy objects; trying to work the electric drill without it speeding off in another direction; wondering how I'm going to paint the top of the stair well; wanting to go on holiday, but can't bear the loneliness of being alone with all those other couples. It's a day of feeling sorry for myself, but I don't care... I'm allowed! So I don't care if the Postman's legs get wet, the lavender looks lovely.

Friday, 4 July 2008

The sound of Gulls

I pulled weeds out of my West Oxfordshire windswept garden yesterday, idly letting my mind wander where it wanted, I thought about the sound of Sea-gulls or rather, the lack of! Having spent a great deal of my life living near the sea, I now find that in my land-locked area the sound of Gulls is something I miss; that and the light in the sky, which is always brighter due to the reflection off the expanse of sea. I also miss the beach walks and beach-combing, along with the salty air. I suppose it's the time of year when others around me are preparing to go on holiday and I am unable to afford a holiday this year. And, when we can't have something we crave it more.

Perhaps I could drive down to the south coast sometime soon; it's only two hours; spend the day on the beach with a picnic, paddle in the cold water and breathe in the salty air. That's the thing with being single and out of a job... if I can afford the petrol, I have the freedom to do whatever I want.

A Pigeon sat on the overhead wire above my car, so I clapped my hands loudly to scare it away. I prefer Gulls any day, although come to think of it; excrement from either can really mess up my car.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Summer Song

Summer Song is the name of the rose that sits on his ashes. The scent is delicious and heady, just like the last summer we had together.

I thought all the peculiar, grief induced, mind-disturbing dreams had ended. But no. In my pre-waking moments this morning, he was in the room looking tanned healthy and strong. He was smiling at me and scooped me up in his long arms and twirled me around. He asked me how I was and that he'd missed me. I told him how wonderful he looked. There was no sign of the debilitating effects of the stroke and he talked about helping me sort out the finances and that everything would be okay. I said that we must be careful what we spent our money on and that we must ensure that we ate healthily and stayed fit. I suppose that in my confused sleepy state I was trying to prevent the stroke I knew in my subconscious was going to happen. It was as if the truth was trying to seep through my dream. But he was so real and I actually felt myself being scooped up in the air and I felt his arms around me tightly.

This is the third vivid and so real dream I've had since he died where I've felt him and touched him and have even smelt his scent. I've had other dreams of him, but these three dreams have been different; he has been real and alive and we talked and smiled together... so different and so disturbing.

I can only assume it is a cruel trick of the mind, but for a few moments in time it felt as though he was really with me again. I awoke feeling lighter, happier and loved. If only he could visit...

Saturday, 28 June 2008

A plethora of door-stops

I have made twelve door-stops from scraps of material and a bag of play-sand. I have made decorative hearts with ribbon and have about a hundred potted plants - all ready for a car-boot (now post-poned to next weekend) sale to raise money for the 'family crisis'. I have various old ornaments, toys and knic-knacs too. It's what families do... help each other in difficult times.

I've just found out that the family crisis, or debt has now been paid for by my 'ex'. So, does anyone want to buy a door-stop? I have tried, in my own little way to help, but it will no doubt go unnoticed. If there is to be no car-boot sale next week, then I shall give all plants away to my fellow Green Gymmers.

No tears today... feeling not so 'down' any more and had an enjoyable morning at the one in four Saturday Green Gyms. Just a few of us women who worked hard in a Memorial Garden in the rare sunshine. Then I worked hard in my own garden, wishing I had a bigger plot in which to be creative. Ah well, any garden is better than no garden. It took me ages to figure out why the water wasn't coming out of the watering can... a frog was trapped in the spout. I lay the can down and he eventually came out and is now hiding somewhere in amongst my undersized runner beans.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

The Lost and the Lonely

Thank you Puddock for your kind words which always make me feel more normal in my disjointed world of bereavement.

I walk pass houses in my little lane and wonder who lives there and what they do... it isn't a friendly lane in the way my childhood street was. People keep to themselves and nod or smile when I walk past and happen to catch someone by their front door or their car; but I don't get invited anywhere or asked in for a cup of tea. I never see anyone; they're either at work I suppose, or hiding away, or out and about with others. The houses in the picture are at Ripley, all very pretty and uniform, but with no clue as to the personalities of those within.

My heart is still heavy and I don't know why. I've cried and cried all day, and I know it isn't hormones as they have been kept in tight control since 1989. I went to the Gym and found that for some reason we ladies had to use the men's locker rooms and the men had to use ours. Strange! Amourous little man was there and smiling at me. The snake with goggles wasn't there neither was the predatory female. I swam fast and left without acknowledging the frequent smiles. I'd rather go home to my cats, meal for one and watch a DVD than embark on a date with someone who only comes up to my armpits.

Perhaps tomorrow will be better. I have to say that - having declared myself as an optimist! Apparently optimist live on average, seven years longer than pessimists. Is that a good thing?

I don't think I'm helping other bereaved people with these words... sorry! Will try harder tomorrow!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Tranquility and Bat Boxes

Good day at the Green Gym - making Bat Boxes - of a sort! They weren't perfect, but Bats may like them. I wanted to paint them and write words like 'Dunroamin' on the front. All the boxes have gone to the local Bat Society, who may or may not like the results. However, the experience was good for all involved.

The afternoon was spent making door-stops out of left-over fabric samples and play-sand ready for the car-boot sale this weekend... all to raise money for the family crises, of which I will not go into.

No real Gym tonight... too knackered and not in the mood to repel amourous ageing men in the Jacuzzi. Don't know whether it's the time of year or just that I'm tired, but not a good evening and very 'down'. Will probably wake up tomorrow feeling fine. Just one of those moments that pop up every now and then. It's been a while since feeling like this, but I suppose it's bound to happen. Grief just doesn't disappear, it just hides until a moment of low confidence or when the weather gets me down, or just for no reason at all.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

For the Chop

My geraniums didn't get the 'Chelsea Chop' because they didn't flower until after the Chelsea Show. They will get a chop next month in the hope they will then flower again in late August or September. My box didn't get the 'Derby Day' chop either - I forgot, so will be giving them the 'next week chop' instead.

I thought the admirer I had last year at the Gym had also been given the chop, but no! He's resurfaced and is trying again to catch my attention in the Jacuzzi. He is even getting his friend; an amiable Welsh man, to talk to me whileI sit in the Jacuzzi. There's nothing wrong with the Admirer - very well formed muscles in all the right places and now covered in a deep mediterranean tan, with chest hair silverish and head hair shaved close which suits him and is at least tidy. Teeth okay and eyes blue. He's just not my sort and much shorter than me. Perhaps I'm just too picky!

I smile politely and go for a long swim, deciding that the Jacuzzi is too hot a place to sit for long. I left after showering and dressing, passing them in the bar, not looking or making eye contact. There's no use in giving the chap any hope. My lovely man was too tall and handsome for anyone else to match up to. So, the problem is definitely me!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Odd requests but not for a Massage Club

Is it me? I was just about to start the next chapter of my writing when the phone rang at this late hour... I walked into my bedroom thinking 'this is probably another call for a call girl'; I answered "Yes?" The reply: "My friend wants a prostitute..." I interrupted, "You have misdialled, this is not a massage club or anything else, goodbye." He persisted, "no, listen, my friend really wants a prostitute now..." I answered, "Tough"! I hung up.

What is it with men? If I think about sex I dig the garden or go to the Gym and pound the treadmill. Men think they have a right to phone and demand a prostitute. Have women (in general) made this so? I don't know what to do about this... I really don't want to change my phone number as it is linked to all sorts of electronic systems and to a lot of friends and family etc., and why should I? I think I shall just make their lives difficult by answering them in any way I see fit at the time.

Most of these phone calls result in an apology from the embarrassed caller. This time the caller refused to accept that he'd dialled incorrectly and kept insisting he wanted a prostitute. He was either drunk, (very probable), or very stupid, (even more probable), or both. Now, I know that I miss intimacy and contact of all kinds with a man, but I could never consider allowing a man to use me. I think any woman who does this kind of thing for a living is a tough woman and has a clear view of what is just a job, and what is intimacy. I admire her ability to distinguish between the two and to earn a living thus. Me? I'd make each man dig an allotment, cut down a tree and erect a wooden shed... then see if he was still up for anything. If he was, then he'd be my kind of man!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Soaring cost of living

I've been growing a Lemon bush for two years; from a tiny little shoot in a cardboard box from Wilkinsons at about £2.50. I didn't give it much hope but against all odds it now has seven lemons that will hopefully ripen this summer so that I can contribute to self-sufficiency and my Gin and Tonic.

My runner beans have stopped growing, as have my peas and sweet peas; climate not to their liking I suppose... nor mine. Midsummer has arrived and we are now on the downward slope to shorter days. I'm determined not to be down hearted - yet! There may still be some warm sunny weather to come - she says optimistically. I tried to be optimistic last year, and by Autumn decided not to bother with loads of veg and flowers next time... but, as always the gardener in me took over.

A visit to my Financial Adviser proved that my investments are dwindling to almost danger level and we've decided, (she advises), to wait another few weeks to see how the market progresses, or not. She asked how I was 'doing'. I truthfully replied that I was really doing well now and hadn't cried in weeks and was happier and healthier. I did admit that I miss having a man around and that I'd tried Internet Dating briefly and didn't like it. Not that I miss washing socks and ironing shirts, nor snoring or football, but I miss the comforting arm and shoulder to lean on; the cuddles and laughter, and of course, the intimacy of a loving relationship... to which she advised I buy a 'thing' with batteries. I laughed nervously. How could 'it' ever replace a loving relationship? Then I thought that if nothing else, it could be used for mixing Gin and Tonics.