Life in a mirror

Recently I did something that I couldn’t believe I was doing. It was a Wednesday evening and I had just arrived at a meeting of the Writers Circle that I now belong to. The meeting hadn’t yet begun, the last few stragglers were taking their seats. It was announced that due to personal reasons our Treasurer was resigning after 15 years. A request was made for a volunteer to take up the mantle.

That was when I heard it. It was my voice, and the words, not unfamiliar, were not what I expected to hear coming from my own mouth.

‘If nobody else wants to do it I will.’

It didn’t make me feel good, I had misgivings about this. Although I had done it before, twenty years ago I was the treasurer of our local Playgroup. I was worried about having other people’s cash in the house whilst we were struggling financially ourselves. Over the last couple of weeks since we sold our car, our own situation has become more relaxed. I began to feel better about my new role.

This weekend I called round to visit my predecessor for the handover of all the Treasurer’s paraphernalia. We chatted for several hours. We didn’t spend much time discussing the Writing group. Instead we talked about our own lives.

I had never imagined that I would meet another person whose life was such a mirror of my own life. She has lived my past, she has lived my current life. She is living my future.

It is strange but the revelations that came about through our conversation are both scary and at the same time comforting.

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Saturday surprise

This morning I was making my breakfast when I saw my friend Robin swoop down into the garden. He was feeding when I went outside to greet him. I thought I would sit in the garden to eat my breakfast, just to see if the Robin would come any closer. He flew  away but I stayed where I was, drinking my tea, munching on my marmite toast, reading my book. All the while my phone on the table set to camera in readiness for that photo opportunity.

I must have been out there for about half an hour but there was no further sign of our Robin. Eventually I gave in and took all my breakfast paraphernalia indoors. It was when I was at the sink that I noticed a movement in the corner of the room. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Hurriedly I grabbed at my  phone. Skater came running into the room to see what was going on. Being taller than me he was able to get closer than me to take this photo.Indoor Robin Yes this was our Robin, not in the garden where I expected to see him but in the corner of our kitchen. He panicked and tried to get out of the window which was closed. He must have come in through the open sliding door, but I hadn’t seen him even though I was sat just a few feet away from the door. I went outside to see if I could get a better photo from the outside, this must have spooked him as he then managed to fly towards the open door and escape.

 

I can but wonder what my next Robin experience will be.

Surprise visitor

I was sat eating lunch in our kitchen today when I turned to look out of the window. I had seen some sparrows on the feeder when I came in from work but they had gone. Sitting on top of the feeder was a brown bird. I couldn’t believe my eyes for a second. This bird was much much bigger than the sparrows that had been there earlier. I grabbed my phone with the intention of taking a photo, but before I could set it up the bird hopped across to the hedge. I watched as this large bird made its way through the hedge in a downward direction. Normally if I look carefully I can see sparrows moving around in among the branches but not on this occasion.

I always keep a book of garden birds on the breakfast bar where I was sitting. Thumbing through the pages I didn’t expect to find this bird which we both agreed was obviously a bird of prey not a garden bird. Much to my astonishment I did find it, we now know that our surprise visitor was a female sparrow hawk. No wonder the sparrows were nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t long before I had to return to work and it was dark long before I returned so I didn’t see the sparrows returning.

I wonder if we will see the sparrow hawk again.

sparrow hawk

Boxing Day Anniversary

It’s Boxing Day here in the UK. I gather from my step children that this is not celebrated in USA.

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosses[1] or employers. Today, Boxing Day is the bank holiday that generally takes place on 26 December. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and other Commonwealth nations.

In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994. In Ireland and Italy, the day is known as St. Stephen’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Stiofáin) or the Day of the Wren (IrishLá an Dreoilín). In many European countries, including notably Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and those in Scandinavia, 26 December is celebrated as the Second Christmas Day.[2]

However my reason for this post has nothing to do with Boxing Day Holiday except that it was a year ago today that I first began this blog. In other words I am celebrating one whole year of this blog.

During this year I have made new blogging friends. Renewed other online friendships and shared my world with people in my every day life who have learnt more about me and my life than they would do normally.

I have married my Owl.

We had our honeymoon in California which I was then able to share with you through this blog.

I have celebrated my sons’ achievements.

I made a start at serious writing (on hold at the moment but watch this space)

We have shared the extremes in weather from the harsh cold long winter complete with unusual amounts of snow to the unexpected un British heat in the summer months.

We have also mourned the passing of our faithful cat.

Ending the year with various preparations for Christmas.

2013 has been a year of extremes, extreme happiness as well as extreme despair.

In a few days we will be celebrating the start of 2014 which I hope will bring with it a more relaxed year.

Maybe I will even manage to write something that I can do something with.

How would you describe 2013 for you and what are your hopes for 2014?

Beached

Monday 10th June 2013

Monday morning saw the return of the sun, much to our relief, we did’t come here for cloud we could get that back at home. We had a leisurely morning before having a drink at McNear’s. We decided to return to our room for a picnic of cheese, meat and crackers.  We had been to the local Safeway store enough times that the staff were beginning to remember us. After lunch we decided to drive to the beach that Missy M had taken us to a week earlier.

Driving along with the roof down we once again congratulated ourselves on upgrading to a mustang convertible.  It was mid-afternoon when we parked up, the sun was warm, we were happy. To our dismay we discovered that the tide was in making the beach inaccessible from the road way. I was quite happy taking endless photos and even a video of the water lapping at the rocks.

IMG_0874  IMG_0873

I was watching the water and some surfers over to my right whilst Owl spoke to surfer who had just arrived. He told Owl that we could reach the main beach by going back up the road and through the village and following the road round. I thought this house looked very quaint with its rocking chair on the front porch.IMG_0885 rounding the corner we found the centre of the village. Owl went in search of a restroom while I sat in the community garden waitingIMG_0886 and waiting. IMG_0887 Then I saw Owl walking across the street a little way off so I moved along to wait for him near to the establishment he had entered. IMG_0892 Still I waited, I watched the locals from a distance feeling that it would be best if I didn’t go too near.(Owl later told me that it was not the kind of place women should enter)”You wouldn’t have liked it. It was a real hicksville bar full of men with long beards and brown dungarees cussin” I crossed the street again to the local gallery. These tiles on the doorstep intrigued me. IMG_0890IMG_0889 back across the street so that Owl would see me when he finally emerged I took this view down the street we had yet to investigate.IMG_0893 After what felt like an age Owl emerged and walked across the street to where he had earlier left me. I scuttled back there to grab his arm and lead him back in the direction we were supposed to be going. Rounding the bend we were met with this vista, the entrance to Bolinas Lagoon.IMG_0894 IMG_0895 we both found this house fascinating. I am sure it would make a good setting for one of those find the object games. IMG_0898 Across the street we found this unexpected gem.IMG_0897 I loved this place, what lucky people to live here with views across the lagoon entranceIMG_0899  towards the hills behind Stinson beach. IMG_0900IMG_0901 A moment later we were back at the ocean. You can see quite clearly where the lagoon meets the open sea.IMG_0902 It was lovely to feel the warm sand under my bare feet and the water was very refreshing too.IMG_0615 Missy M had told us that she loves the graffiti that is found at Bolinas Beach and I can see why. Every piece of concrete lining the base of the cliff behind the beach is cover in wonderful and varied colours and intricate designs.IMG_0912  IMG_0913 this was my favouriteIMG_0914 we also saw a couple of signs that we have never seen anywhere before and probably won’t again.IMG_0612 andIMG_0915 By the time we reached the place where we had started the tide had gone out far enough for us to safely reach the slipway without getting wet feet.IMG_0920 We had spent a lovely afternoon in the sun looking out at the pacific ocean from what we had been told was the 2nd best beach in the area. Now it was time to drive back to base and walk over to the diner for our evening meal and the pleasant company of the staff who we were now getting to know quite well.

Making an impression

Friday 31st May 2013

Finally after months of waiting and planning we were now on the plane heading west. This was to be my first long haul flight (10hrs). By the time we had been in the air for 6 hours I was beginning to feel that I had had enough now. I hadn’t bothered to watch the first in flight film, preferring to read my book instead. Lunch had been surprisingly tasty considering it’s uninteresting appearance. Luckily the plane was less than half full so the two of us had four seats to ourselves. That came in handy when we needed to spread out.  I seem to remember that we both managed to doze a little during the flight. I did watch one of the films though.

All was going reasonably well until approximately 2 hours before we were due to land. Owl began to feel unwell. I tried to coax him to eat as much as he could of the afternoon snack. He didn’t seem to be making any improvement. By the time we landed Owl was feeling very weak and shaky. We waited until the majority of our fellow travellers had alighted before making our slow progress through the plane and finally into the terminal.

I did my best to support Owl plus carry both mine and his hand luggage. These travellators are a huge relief in this situation. However we had just come to the end of one of these moving walkways when Owl felt his legs give way under him. I had a hold of both his arms and managed to lower him slowly to his knees. It was then that a fellow passenger leapt out of the wheelchair she was being pushed in so that the staff who had rushed to our help could hoist Owl into the now vacant chair.

The previous occupant of the chair continued on her way with the help of a walking stick.(I do believe another chair was brought for her in the next few minutes). The airport employee who had been pushing her chair ran off ahead calling out that he would be back. I loaded our bags onto the back of the chair and began to push. True to his word the employee, came running back to take over pushing Owl along the corridor until we came upon another wheelchair which along with its occupant had been left against the side of the long, long corridor. Our saintly helper took off at a fast pace with the other chair before parking it further up the corridor and running back to us. So we made progress along the seemingly never ending walk to passport check, playing leapfrog (with these two wheelchairs). I had to almost run to have any chance of keeping up with Owl in his chair.

I was just preparing myself mentally for the long wait to get through customs when our chair was once again snatched from my hands and pushed to the very front of the queue. After a very short wait (only 2 or 3 minutes) we were ushered forward to have our passports checked and stamped. Next I was faced with collecting our suitcases from baggage retrieval which I did but how to push a wheelchair and pull along two wheeled suitcases?

Perhaps I could hook the two handles of the cases onto the chair handles? Hmm no that didn’t work. I tried to push the chair with the cases hooked over my arms. That didn’t work either. Owl suggested that I get a trolley for the cases which I did but how do I push a chair and a trolley? I couldn’t play leap frog as I couldn’t leave the cases unattended.  I was just going through all the possible ways of managing this, I couldn’t come up with a solution when I was rescued by our saintly helper again who took control pushing the wheelchair through arrivals and parking Owl next to a row of seats a few feet from arrivals gate G.

By now Owl was in need of the washroom(restroom). Oh no another problem that I couldn’t overcome on my own. Never mind it was by this time 13.47 in San Francisco and Owl’s children Missy M and Mr T were due to arrive to meet us between 14.00 and 14.30. Once they arrived we would have to ask Mr T to take his father to the restroom. We waited patiently (what else could we do) for my new step children to arrive. (Before you start to worry these ’children’ are 16 and 18). We sent messages by text and skype to let them know that we had already gone through Arrivals. After a while I wandered through the Arrivals Hall to see if I could spot any familiar faces. I couldn’t but I did check that the flight information board did say that our flight would be at Gate G. Returning to Owl we continued to wait. We waited, then we waited some more. Now and again I would say, could that be Mr T. The answer was always no. Time trickled by, still no sign of the much awaited teens. If they were going to be late why hadn’t they called or sent a message. We had no idea from which direction they would be entering the Hall.

After two hours Owl was becoming quite distressed, I decided to take another walk through the (mostly empty) hall, when I reached gate A I saw a young lady who could be Miss M. I called her name, it was her. The two of them had been waiting since 14.15 at the wrong gate. They had been about 200 feet away from us for nearly 2 hours!!  From where they were standing they had been hidden from our view by a pillar of all things.

I led the two of them back towards their father explaining that unfortunately he was feeling poorly and was in a wheelchair. They were both very good about this.  After visiting the (much needed by all of us )restrooms we were making our way back through the arrivals hall towards the car park.  For some inexplicable reason I decided to throw myself on the floor. Throughout my life I have learnt to live with the embarrassment of falling over when my ankle turns over. I always land on my hands and knees.

Not this time though, I could feel myself go and there was not a thing I could do about it. I felt the tip of my nose hit the marble floor, followed by my forehead, my glasses smacked against my nose before skidding off across the floor just out of my reach. When I looked up Mr T was bending over me, and an elderly couple had rushed over. I felt hands under my arms hoisting me up, I was led to a nearby seat. I gingerly put my hand up to my face expecting blood. There was none, my nose was numb, my right knee was cut, my left foot felt bruised and my left hand was incredibly painful.  At first I was afraid that I may have broken my hand and or my nose. After a few minutes I began to feel a little steadier. Missy M drove us all to the motel we had booked for our first few nights. Neither Owl nor I were in any fit state to drive so our hire car would have to wait.

Well with Owl falling ill, my falling over and the kids waiting 2oofeet away for 2 hours maybe that was three things that had gone wrong and the rest of our trip would be problem free.

But what an impression to make meeting my stepchildren for the first time.

The Gig

Friday night equals music night, we don’t go every week but it is nice to get out and enjoy some live music in our favourite pub now and again. It was about 8 o’clock when we arrived and the band (all 3 of them) were just setting up. By that I mean the drummer in his short blue sports shorts and red t-shirt was setting up all the while chatting to the guys at the nearest table. It is a small bar so his conversation carried to all there. He began by opening up his bass drum to stuff pillows and cushions inside to muffle the sound a little. I did wonder why he hadn’t done this at home. He then proceeded to put his kit together making a big thing of having to guess exactly how high to set each drum etc. Surely if you have been playing for years (he has had his snare drum since he was 12 he is now late 50s) it would be second nature by now.

I was beginning to feel uneasy. The lead guitarist and his daughter (the ‘goth’ bass guitarist ) were now setting up around the drummer, speaking to each other in hushed tones. Finally at a minute to 9pm it appeared that the band were ready to begin. But no, first the drummer stripped off his red t-shirt swapping it for a round necked yellow t-shirt then added sweat bands to his head and wrists. Now in my mind he shouldn’t have done this in front of his audience. He should have gone to the gents or even out to his car, certainly not sitting behind his drum kit.

The music began to resonate through the small room (loudly). By the time the first song was over the Landlord told the band to turn the volume down a bit. The drummer complained to his guitarist that he wasn’t able to hear himself over the guitar sound. A minute or so later the band resumed playing. During the next hour they played some Who, Free, Nicky Moore, Thin Lizzy and various others. The Lead guitar was well played, the bass guitar was well played, even the drums were good. The singing was not so good.

But the worst thing that occurred was when the drummer……………………….

………..decided that he was too hot and took off his yellow shirt. I was wondering what he was going to replace it with. It soon dawned on me that the answer was………..nothing. He played the remainder of the set bare chested. From where I was sitting I couldn’t see the guitarist’s face as it was blocked from my line of vision by a speaker. I could see the drummer but directly in my line of vision was the bass guitarist. I have never seen a musician looking less like they were enjoying themselves. There was one moment when I thought she almost cracked a smile but not quite.

Anyway the band stopped for a break and the Landlord told the drummer that he would pay them up but they wouldn’t be playing a second set. Most of the small gathering of people in the pub had either left or were preparing to leave so there was no point in continuing.

This afternoon we popped into the pub for a quiet drink and guess what the main topic of conversation was. Yes you got it…..the weather, in particular the snow that has descended once again in various parts of the country considerably late in the year. Oh and also the dreadful band from last night.