Monday, 20 December 2010

The Love of a Giver.

My mother always used to tell me that it was not the getting of gifts that was important. What was important was to strive to make others happy in the gifts that you gave. Now I am sure that this is very true, nevertheless, I used to always think it would be nice, just once, to be the person who was getting the gift.

I came from an extremely poor family, and though my mother and father would do the very best they could, it never seemed to be the same as the other kids who lived in the same street. I almost wished I did not have a birthday. Then I would not have to tell people what I did not get. So, as Christmas draws near I found myself remembering those days. I also began to think of a story I used to tell to the children in my church, I hope I can remember it.

Bobby was getting cold sitting out in his back yard in the snow. Bobby didn't wear boots; he didn't like them and anyway he didn't own any. The thin shoes he wore had a few holes in them and they did a poor job of keeping out the cold.

He had been sitting thinking, and, try as he might, he could not come up with an idea for his mother's Christmas gift. He shook his head as he thought, "This is useless, even if I do

come up with an idea, I don't have any money to spend.

Ever since his father had passed away three years ago, the family of five had struggled. It wasn't because his mother didn't care, or try, there just never seemed to be enough. She worked nights at the hospital, but the small wage that she was earning could only be stretched so far.

What the family lacked in money and material things, they more than made up for in love and family unity. Bobby had two older and one younger sister, who ran the household in their mother's absence.

All three of his sisters had already made beautiful gifts for their mother. Somehow it just wasn't fair. Here it was Christmas Eve already, and he had nothing. Wiping a tear from his eye, Bobby kicked the snow and started to walk down to the street where the shops and stores were. It wasn't easy being six without a father, especially when he needed a man to talk to.

Bobby walked from shop to shop, looking into each decorated window. Everything seemed so beautiful and so out of reach. It was starting to get dark and Bobby reluctantly turned to walk home when suddenly his eyes caught the glimmer of the setting sun's rays reflecting off of something along the curb. He reached down and discovered a shiny pound coin.

Never before has anyone felt so wealthy as Bobby felt at that moment. As he held his new found treasure, a warmth spread throughout his entire body and he walked into the first store he saw. His excitement quickly turned cold when salesperson after salesperson told him that he could not buy anything with only a pound.

He saw a flower shop and went inside to wait in line. When the shop owner asked if he could help him, Bobby presented the pound and asked if he could buy one flower for his mother's Christmas gift. The shop owner looked at Bobby and his coin. Then he put his hand on Bobby's shoulder and said to him, "You just wait here and I'll see what I can do for you."

As Bobby waited, he looked at the beautiful flowers and even though he was a boy, he could see why mothers and girls liked flowers.

The sound of the door closing as the last customer left, jolted Bobby back to reality. All alone in the shop, Bobby began to feel alone and afraid.

Suddenly the shop owner came out and moved to the counter. There, before Bobby's eyes, lay twelve long stem, red roses, with leaves of green and tiny white flowers all tied together with a big silver bow. Bobby's heart sank as the owner picked them up and placed them gently into a long white box.

"That will be one pound young man," the shop owner said reaching out his hand for the coin. Slowly, Bobby moved his hand to give the man his pound. Could this be true? No one else would give him a thing for his pound! Sensing the boy's reluctance, the shop owner added, "I just happened to have some roses on sale for a pound for a dozen. Would you like them?"

This time Bobby did not hesitate, and when the man placed the long box into his hands, he knew it was true. Walking out the door that the owner was holding for Bobby, he heard the shop keeper say, "Merry Christmas, son."

As he returned inside, the shop keeper’s wife walked out. "Who were you talking to back there and where are the roses you were fixing?" Staring out the window, and blinking the tears from his own eyes, he replied, "A strange thing happened to me this morning. While I was setting up things to open the shop, I thought I heard a voice telling me to set aside a dozen of my best roses for a special gift. I wasn't sure at the time whether I had lost my mind or what, but I set them aside anyway. Then just a few minutes ago, a little boy came into the shop and wanted to buy a flower for his mother with one small dime.

When I looked at him, I saw myself, many years ago. I too was a poor boy with nothing to buy my mother a Christmas gift. A bearded man, whom I never knew, stopped me on the street and told me that he wanted to give me ten dollars.

When I saw that little boy tonight, I knew who that voice was, and Iput together a dozen of my very best roses."

The shop owner and his wife hugged each other tightly, and as they stepped out into the bitter cold air, they somehow didn't feel cold at all.

I am going to make every effort to visit some blogs if I do not manage due to circumstances please accept my apology and do have a great Christmas.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

I felt so Unwanted.

Ok so my last post hit an all time record of the least number of comments ever. I began to ask if it was at all worth it all this writing and nobody listening. There are so many other things I could do with the time. Then I thought about how busy I have been these last few weeks and how busy everybody else must be. On top of all the problems with the snow comes the preparations for Christmas. So instead of feeling unwanted and sorry for me I thought about all those busy people out there in blogger land.

I dragged through all the stories and information I have gathered wondering what to put on here at this time. Then I remembered the professor who was doing some research into what young people thought of love. Some of these make me smile and some of them make me think.

He asked a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, "What does love mean?" The answers he got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined.

"When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love." Rebecca - age 8

When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth." Billy - age 4

"Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other." Karl - age 5

"Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs." Chrissy - age 6

"Love is what makes you smile when you're tired." Terri - age 4

Love is when my mum makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK." Danny - age 7

"Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss" Emily - age 8

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen," Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate," Nikka - age 6

"Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday." Noelle - age 7

"Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well." Tommy - age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore," Cindy - age 8

"My mum loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night." Clare - age 6

"Love is when Mum gives Daddy the best piece of chicken." Elaine -age 5

"Love is when Mum sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford." Chris - age 7

"I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones." Lauren - age 4

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you." Karen - age 7

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget," Jessica - age 8

A minister once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbour was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his Mother asked him what he had said to the neighbour, the little boy said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."

Monday, 13 December 2010

Please Press - 1.

It is a marvellous age we live in, is it not? We have machines that can do almost everything for you. We have a great little song here that is being used to encourage people to go online and pay their TV License. It starts with the words, “Push a little button.” You find yourself signing it for ages after you have heard it. Is it effective? Well in a nation of 5 million, people there are 38,000 households who do not pay a licence, and have no intention of doing so unless taken to court. It is the same with road tax and car insurance. The numbers are just a frightening, probably the same people though.

So, the automated age, is it not amazing? The personal touch is disappearing, I find that so sad. When I call my doctor, I am answered by a list of possible things I might want. it is always the case though that the one thing I do want, to see a doctor, is not on the list. The other day there I was trying to contact a service company. I was in a good mood as I lifted up the phone, ready to explain my problem to whomever answered the call. By the time I managed to reach a human being there were fumes coming out my nostrils, I felt like a raging bull. I had to bite my tongue so that my anger was not taken out on the poor girl who was only doing her job.

Now it is not all bad news. When I was in education, we all knew who the most important people were in the system. The janitors and the school secretaries; and not always in that order. I often thought an automated service might be better than have to get past them. They on the other hand, were always quick to tell us what a terrible job they had. They used to say they would rather do anything rather than face the calls of some parents. So here you are, a little belatedly, I apologise. I list of possible alternatives you might wish to have.

"Hello! You have reached the automated answering service for Aughenshoogle School. In order to assist you in connecting to the right staff member, please listen to all the options before making a selection:

- To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1

- To make excuses for why your child did not do his/her homework - Press 2

- To complain about what the staff here do - Press 3

- To simply swear at a staff members - Press 4

- To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you - Press 5

- If you want us to take care of your child after school hours - Press 6

- If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone - Press 7

- To request yet another teacher for your child - Press 8

- To complain that the school is not open early enough for work hours - Press 9

- To complain about school lunches - Press 0

- If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behaviour, class work, homework and that it's not all the teachers' fault for your child's lack of effort: - Hang up and have a nice day!

I spent yesterday in the crowds of shoppers trying to get Christmas shopping done. Why cant we just have little buttons for that also? Online does not work if the delivery people cannot get to you for snow. HELP.

Time for me to hang up I hope you have a nice day.

 I have not updated my other blog today my apologies.

Friday, 10 December 2010

What I Long To Be.

I have spent much time since starting this blog considering moments from my life. Yesterday I read the blog of a fellow blogger. He has been sharing his recent struggle with cancer and trying in the process to make sense of it all. I am not sure what it is but as I read so many blogs I find myself more and more asking myself what and why. What is it I hope to achieve in the time I have left on the planet? Also, I ask why it is I do the things I do.

I am no great wordsmith like so many of the blogs I read. I cannot express myself in verse like Angel Star. I could go on and on and list blog after blog that inspires me with the art they show or the words they write.

So I asked myself again, what and why? I do not for one minute think that this post today will be of any interest to you the reader, so I apologise. Today is a bit of self indulgence.

What I Long To Be.

I long to live as gently as I can,

Soft and worthy as a man

To face life daily good or bad,

To remember, for what it is I stand.

When failure comes as oft it does,

To take it by the hand.

To learn from moments such as these.

A better man to better please.

To never give to shame or sin.

That I may be at peace within.

To stand for what I know is right.

And never fear to face that fight.

To leave some simple things behind.

That those that follow, have me in their mind.

To be at one as each day comes.

With earth and water, wind and fire

To be the gentle man is my desire.

That some may look and consider me kind.

And give thanks for what I leave behind.

The artwork is discussed on my other blog.   The Last Leaf Along The Beach

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Being a Good Teacher.

Yesterday I received an email from a student. I remembered him very well, not only because his name was the same as my sons, but because of the relationship we had as teacher and student. He was having difficulties with learning, also with his body shape, being overweight. He and I hit it off, because I was aware of him and not his weight. Before I left teaching he was a great student and he worked out regularly and was always very popular with the girls in the school. He has never forgotten me and every year at this time he sends me an email telling me how he is doing and every year I have to go and sit on my own and dry my eyes.
When I started teaching I had found a story that touched my heart deeply. I am not sure if it changed my way of teaching, having been a minister I was always aware of people and not just what they looked like. Nevertheless the story is worthy of reading again, so I share today knowing some of you will have read it or heard it before. I apologise it is a long story but ask you please to take time to read even if you have heard it before.

Jean Thompson stood in front of her fifth-grade class on the very first day of school in the fall and told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and said that she loved them all the same, that she would treat them all alike. And that was impossible because there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the third row, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were unkempt and that he constantly needed a bath. And Teddy was unpleasant.

It got to the point during the first few months that she would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then marking the F at the top of the paper biggest of all. Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, no one else seemed to enjoy him, either.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's records and put Teddy's off until last. When she opened his file, she was in for a surprise. His first-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright, inquisitive child with a ready laugh." "He does his work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around."

His second-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student well-liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."

His third-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy continues to work hard but his mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."

Teddy's fourth-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class. He is tardy and could become a problem."

By now Mrs. Thompson realized the problem, but Christmas was coming fast. It was all she could do, with the school play and all, until the day before the holidays began and she was suddenly forced to focus on Teddy Stoddard.

Her children brought her presents, all in beautiful ribbon and bright paper, except for Teddy's, which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper of a grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents.

Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of cologne. She stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume behind the other wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed behind just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to."

After the children left she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing, and speaking. Instead, she began to teach children. Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all called "Teddy."

As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. On days where there would be an important test, Mrs. Thompson would remember that cologne. By the end of the year he had become one of the smartest children in the class and...well, he had also become the "pet" of the teacher who had once vowed to love all of her children exactly the same.

A year later she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that of all the teachers he'd had in elementary school, she was his favourite. Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy.

He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still his favourite teacher of all time.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would graduate from college with the highest of honours. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still his favourite teacher.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still his favourite teacher, but that now his name was a little longer. The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.

The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that Spring. Teddy said he'd met this girl and was to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering...well, if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the pew usually reserved for the mother of the groom. And guess what, she wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. And I bet on that special day, Jean Thompson smelled just like...well, just like the way Teddy remembered his mother smelling on their last Christmas together

You never can tell what type of impact you may make on another's life by your actions or lack of action.

I will leave my other blog for another day except I will change the artwork and speak of it.

 A Moment of Togetherness

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

We Just Need Somebody To Understand.

To Where?

It is amazing how something like an unusually harsh fall of snow can change ones whole life, if even only for a time. Everything you do is dictated by the weather. Yesterday I managed with the help of mountain running shoes to venture out and do a run. I had then made up my mind that I would spend the day contentedly at home. I would paint, tidy up my study. The thought of no more snow to move was at least a bonus. Then my son needs me to help him get to the post office sorting office to collect undelivered mail. It was crucial for a court case he has today. This meant getting my car out of the drive and down the hill. With difficulty I managed it and after a long slow journey we made it to the office. Then the long slow journey back and back up the hill to home. Day almost over and nothing I had planned had been done. Everybody is having their difficulties, and everybody just needs you to understand. Life certainly has changed.
You would think that my being in would mean I would have time to read and comment on blogs and contact friends. The truth is I am spending less time than ever on my computer. I seem to spend most of my time answering the calls for help.

I remembered the beautiful story of the boy and his new puppy. I apologise if you have heard it before, I first heard it many years ago.

A store had a sign in the window that read "Puppies For Sale."

Signs like that have a way of attracting small children, and sure enough, a little boy appeared in the store asking. "How much are the puppies?"

The store owner replied, "Anywhere from £20 to £40."

The little boy reached in his pocket and pulled out some change. "I have £3," he said. "Can I please look at them?"

The store owner smiled and whistled and out of the kennel came Lady, who ran down the aisle of his store followed by five teeny, tiny balls of fur. One puppy was lagging considerably behind. Immediately the little boy singled out the lagging, limping puppy and said, "What's wrong with that little dog?"

The store owner explained that the vet had examined the little puppy and had discovered it didn't have a hip socket. It would always limp. It would always be lame.

The little boy became excited. "That is the puppy that I want to buy." The store owner said, "No, you don't want to buy that little dog. If you really want him, I'll just give him to you."

The little boy got quite upset. He looked straight into the store owner's eyes, pointing his finger, and said, "I don't want you to give him to me. That little dog is worth every bit as much as all the other dogs and I'll pay full price. In fact, I'll give you £3 now, and 50 pence a week until I have him paid for."

The store owner countered, "You really don't want to buy this little dog. He is never going to be able to run and jump and play with you like the other puppies." To his surprise, the little boy reached down and rolled up his pant leg to reveal a badly twisted, crippled left leg supported by a big metal brace. He looked up at the store owner and softly replied, "Well, I don't run so well myself, and the little puppy will need someone who understands!"

We ALL need someone who Understands! So it was agreed: the little boy took the little puppy home.

I am sorry if I have been missing blogs, please do understand.

This Blog is Linked to my other. The Deer

Monday, 6 December 2010

Buy One Get The Rest Free.

This snow is certainly bringing together a community in the street where I live. The ongoing battle to try and keep the hilly road to our homes open is binding us together. Small acts of kindness and a sense of one for all. A neighbour trying to go to the shop for vegetables to discover the shop had none, cheered by what I was able to give her from the produce of my plot. Yesterday I went to visit my old father in law taking with me what provisions we could get. While at the store I bought a haggis. As I left the store a representative of the company gave me a heated sample of the product and because I had purchased one gave me another free. My neighbour said it was delicious.

Today I awoke stiff and sore all over muscles aching. I opened the curtains to what? More snow covering the road and still falling fast. Seems we are not yet through this. My heart was heavy as I watched it fall.

It did though bring back to mind this story.

Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they travelled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet, and many others adorned the walls of their family estate. The widowed elderly man looked on with satisfaction as his only child became an experienced art collector. The son's trained eye and sharp business mind caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt with art collectors around the world. As winter approached, war engulfed their nation, and the young man left to serve his country.

After only a few short weeks, the elderly man received a telegram that his beloved son was missing in action. The art collector anxiously awaited more news, fearing he would never see his son again. Within days his fears were confirmed. The young man had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a medic. Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season-a season that he and his son had so looked forward to in the past-would visit his house no longer. On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man.

As he walked to the door, the masterpieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. He opened the door and was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hand.

The soldier introduced himself to the old man by saying, "I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you." As the two began to talk, the soldier told of how the man's son had told every one of his-and his father's-love of fine art work. "I'm also an artist," said the soldier, "and I want to give you this." As the old man began to unwrap the package, paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man's son.

Though the world would never consider it a work of genius, the painting featured the young man's face in striking detail. Overcome with emotion, the old man thanked the soldier, promising to

hang the portrait above the fireplace. A few hours later, after the

soldier had departed, the old man set about his task. True to his word, the painting went above the fireplace, pushing aside thousands of dollars worth of paintings. And then the old man sat in his chair and spent Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given. During the days and weeks that followed, the man learned that his son

had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before a bullet stilled his

caring heart. As the stories of his son's gallantry continued to reach

him, fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease his grief, as he

realized that, although his son was no longer with him, the boy's life

would live on because of those he had touched.

The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the priceless pieces for which museums around the world clamoured. He told his neighbours it was the greatest gift he had ever received. The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world was in anticipation, since, with the old man's passing, and his only son dead, those paintings would be sold at an auction. According to the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned on Christmas Day, the way he had received his greatest gift.

The day finally arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world's most spectacular paintings.

Dreams could be fulfilled this day; greatness could be achieved as some could say," I have the greatest collection." The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum list... It was the painting of the old man's son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid, but the room was silent.

"Who will open the bidding with £100?" he asked. Moments passed as no one spoke. From the back of the room came, "Who cares about that painting? It's just a picture of his son. Let's forget it and get on to the good ones." More voices echoed in agreement. "No, we have to sell this one-first," replied the auctioneer. "Now who will take the son?"

Finally, a friend of the old man spoke. "Will you take £10 for the

painting? That's all I have. "Will anyone go higher?" called the


After more silence he said, "Going once, going twice...Gone!" The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone shouted; "Now we can get on with it and bid on these treasures!"

The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced that the auction was over. Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Then someone spoke up and asked, "What do you mean it's over? We didn't come here for a portrait of some old man's son! What about all of the other paintings? There are millions of dollars worth of art work here.

We demand an explanation!"

The auctioneer replied, "It's very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son...gets it all."

Leaving my other blog for one more day. I Remember (No More)

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Living in Difficult Situations.

For the past week the place where I live has ground to a halt. I have been unable to move my car so the only means of getting in food supplies is walking to the village store and carrying it back. Sounds as if that is not such a great thing, apart from the fact that the village store has no supplies and the shelves are lying empty. Yesterday I attempted to move my car, I managed about 100 yards and then could not get it back without over an hours effort. How easily I realise I could slip into being a complainer. Begin to see the world from my perspective alone. The truth is that beyond my door is a great big world, and in comparison I am very well off.

The trouble is when we look at it in global terms it becomes almost meaningless. So let me scale that down just a bit.

If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like this.

There would be:

57 Asians

21 Europeans

14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south

8 would be Africans

52 would be female

48 would be male

70 would be non-white

30 would be white

70 would be non-Christian

30 would be Christian

6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all 6 would be from the United States.

80 would live in substandard housing

70 would be unable to read

50 would suffer from malnutrition

1 would be near death;

1 would be near birth;

1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education;

1 (yes, only 1) would own a computer.

When I consider the world from this perspective, it looks like a very different place.

So instead of complaining let me consider:

I have food in the refrigerator, clothes on my back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, I am richer than 75% of this world.

I woke up this morning with more health than illness, I am more blessed than the million who will not survive this week, and better than the two old people found yesterday dead in their back gardens.

I have money in my wallet, and spare change in a coffee jar next to my keyboard making me among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

I have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, I am therefore ahead of 500 million people in the world.

I can still put a smile on my face and are truly thankful, I am blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

I can write this blog, over two billion people in the world who cannot read it.

So as I look out the window at more snow, the prospect of yet more difficulties, I realise that in terms of others I am indeed very well off.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

This blog is linked to my other which I am leaving a bit longer as requested by many. I Remember (No More)

Friday, 3 December 2010

It Comes From Hardship

One of the strange things about this terrible weather we are having, well terrible for some, is the sense of togetherness it seems to engender. I actually love the snow, no matter how long it lasts. I enjoy running in it, and I enjoy the walks I have in it. Yesterday as I ran , more people than normal spoke to me, making comments about how ambitious I was being etc. Even when out walking more people speak, there is almost a sense of, “we are all in this together.”

This reminded me of the true story of some years ago.

It happened late at night, at 11:30 pm, an older African-American woman was

standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing

rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride.

Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her - generally unheard of in those conflict-filled

1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and

put her into a taxi cab. She seemed to be in a big hurry! She wrote

down his address, thanked him and drove away.

Seven or so days later there was a knock at the young mans door. Standing there when he answered was a delivery man, he had a giant colour television and music player addressed to him. Also attached was a letter addressed to him, it read:

Dear Mr. James

Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes but my spirits. Then you came along, and because of you I was able to make it to my dying husbands bedside just before he passed away. God Bless you for helping me so unselfishly.

Yours Sincerely

Mrs. Nat King Cole.

Yes ,I am aware that there are many who in the present climate are acting selfishly, but there are more than normal those who are becoming aware that we are indeed, “all in this together.”

I have left yesterdays other blog for a bit longer after the emails I recieved. I Remember (No More)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Pristine Snow

This morning I was determined not to allow the heavy snow to keep me from running. I was determined that today no matter how slow I was I was going to run. When I arrived at the woods I stood at the edge of them feeling that maybe I should go another route. The snow lay before me with not a sign of a foot print. My footfall would spoil the pristine beauty of it all. I ventured forth. How glad I was that I did. Silent beauty and the deer usually well hidden I could see clearly. I saw some birds I rarely see seeking berries on the trees and bushes.

I left the forest behind and headed for the coastal path. There I saw snow on the beach and rocks. I managed to run 7 miles taking longer than normal but I saw such beauty. I arrived home feeling as if I had just had Christmas early and I had been given everything I could have asked for.

I hope my footprints encourage others to make the journey rather than spoil it.

As I ran I remembered the beautiful story of the two pots.

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.

"I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you."

"Why?" asked the bearer. "What are you ashamed of?"

"I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don't get full value from your efforts," the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, "As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path."

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, "Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot's side?

That's because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you've watered them.

For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house."

Each of us has our own unique flaws. We're all cracked pots. But that does not mean that we cannot make the best of what we are.

In the great scheme of Chi nothing ever is wasted.

This blog is linked to my other. I Remember ( No More)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

The Rules of Ownership.

I am snowed in today. Overnight we had another massive fall of snow. As I look out the window it is obvious that putting on running shoes would be an utter waste of time. Walking would be possible but it would be silly to try anything of any distance. So I am trying another watercolour, difficult because I am not alone in the house, I am not the only one snowed in.

Yesterday I walked for almost three hours, completing a walk that would normally have taken just over two hours. The snow was deep and the path I was walking had many obstacles caused by branches broken with the weight of the snow.

In the village the order of the day was snow clearing. Now I remember when I was younger it was the pavements that people cleared, throwing the snow to the edge of the road, leaving the central area for any cars that might be moving. Now the main aim of everybody is to get the car moving and the road clear. Snow was being piled high on pavements forcing anybody at all trying to walk to venture onto the road and take the risk of being hit by a skidding car. I even noticed some people throwing snow onto the pavements of older people who have no car, and may well want to get out for bread or milk. Then maybe I am being cynical but I suspect nobody has noticed that they might need out. Or maybe once they get the car moving they will go get the bread and milk. Now why do I not believe this?

I just could not help feeling that somewhere we have lost the whole meaning and purpose of life. I keep getting told that I am wrong and that it is just my age. Maybe they are correct, but I have a real deep nagging thought that it is more than that. I suspect that the rules of childhood ownership now carry on well into later years, if ever to be let go of at all. What do I mean?

If I like it, it's mine.

If it's in my hand, Its mine.

If I can take it from you, it's mine.

If I had it a little while ago, It's mine.

If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.

If I am doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.

If it looks like mine, it is mine.

If I saw it first, it's mine.

If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.

If it's broken, it's yours.

Ah well I better get back to this watercolour I am trying to do. I hope nobody has seen my paints and think they belong to them.

Pictures above are of my walk yesterday and the view from my study window this morning.

Have a great day.

I have another blog at Cold Mornings.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A Thought Filled Run

My last post was some time ago now and I left it for a bit. I have read that post more than once and felt that maybe I need to take time to think again about what it is I am trying to do with this blog, if anything at all. It started out with a few random thoughts; it developed into a thought for the day. Then I started another parallel blog to give more thought to the art.

Life was then knocked off course with my accident and not painting nearly so often. It seemed important for me to get fit again so I began to concentrate on that. Somewhere something happened that made me draw within myself a bit more and become reflective. For no obvious reason I began adding verse to my art. I became aware very quickly that less and less people were reading and I was becoming even more inward looking.

The more inward looking I became the less I had to say. Then my unexpected operation, another set back, just when I had got the fitness thing sorted. Two weeks later when I was ready to get out again I find myself in a world of snow. How easy it would be to just stay in the warmth of indoors.

Yesterday determined to not be controlled by external factors I donned my running shoes and ran. Well you could almost call it running, it was certainly faster than it took me to walk the same 6 miles in the afternoon. As I ran I thought of the story of the young boy with the withered flower. It had seemed that life was determined to drag me down. So here is the story I thought of as I ran.

The park bench was deserted as the old man sat down to read beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree. Disillusioned by life with good reason to frown, for the world was intent on dragging him down.

And if that weren't enough to ruin his day, A young boy out of breath approached him, all tired from play.

He stood right before him with his head tilted down and said with great excitement, "Look what I found!"

In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight, with its petals all worn, not enough rain, or to little light. Wanting him to take his dead flower and go off to play, the old man faked a small smile and then shifted away. But instead of retreating the lad sat by his side and placed the flower to his nose and declared with overacted surprise, "It sure smells pretty and it's beautiful, too. That's why I picked it; here it's for you."

The weed before him was dying or dead. Not vibrant of colours, orange, yellow or red. But he knew he must take it, or he might never leave. So he reached for the flower, and replied, "Just what I need." But instead of the boy placing the flower in his hand, he held it mid-air without reason or plan. It was then that he noticed for the very first time that the weed-toting boy could not see: he was blind.

The old man heard his voice quiver, tears shone like the sun as he thanked him for picking the very best one. You're welcome, he smiled, and then ran off to play, and unaware of the impact he'd had on the life of the old man. He sat there and wondered how he managed to see a self-pitying old man beneath an old willow tree. How did he know of his self-indulged plight?

Perhaps from his heart, he'd been blessed with true sight. Through the eyes of a blind child, at last he could see the problem was not with the world; the problem was with him. And for all of those times he himself had been blind, he vowed to see the beauty in life, and appreciate every second he had. And then he held that wilted flower up to his nose and breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose. And smiled as he watched that young boy, another weed in his hand about to change the life of an unsuspecting old woman.

Have a good day if there is anybody still taking the time to read this.

This blog is linked to my other  A Feather on the Beach

Friday, 26 November 2010

A Year Apart.

I was wondering when it was that I became aware of my love of empty places. I suppose there never really was a moment or time or place when I became aware. The truth was I had always been a bit like that from the beginning of my memories. I always liked, and needed, to be alone. I was thinking the other day there that if I had been born now and been as I was then somebody would have labelled me as having aspergers.

As my life moved on I more and more realised that if life was to have any meaning I had to play my part within it. So I compensated, I became the one with the self confident air. The centre of every conversation, the instigator and mover. The more I acted this out the more it became reality. I found myself surrounded with people instead of alone as I would rather have been.

I spent almost a complete year living on the small Island of Iona. This island lies off the coast of Mull and from it can be seen the Dutchmans Cap Island and the famous Staffa with its Fingals Cave. During the winter months the population of the island was in total about 80. In the summer its youth camp and abbey would increase this into the hundreds.

As I look back I am aware that this year was an important turning point. From this point on I was to be in both of my future careers, a leader and motivator. The shy person became the preacher, the loner became the teacher and friend of students.

As I grow older I again find myself withdrawing to the places of still and emptiness. The need to be at one with myself becomes more and more important. My walks and runs have become my solitudes. But I will never forget that day on the beach on Iona when I became aware that each of us in our own way is a part of this wonderful universe. That we each have a part to play, a contribution yet to make.

We who are in the business of creating art are very fortunate people. We can be alone and yet we can convey to others the beauty that is around them.

The poem about that moment on Iona is on my other blog. Before you go there I apologise for the clumsy words I just hope they express the inner feelings and the need to paint that Island as often as I have.   Iona

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Let All Creation Shout.

 Yesterday I walked along my coastal path, how I had missed being there, seeing and hearing the waves. It was a cold day even though the sun was shining. I stopped to listen to the sound of the waves as they kissed the shore. It was good to be alive. There is indeed something worthy of being aware of our fragility.

I came home feeling that it was so silly of me to be complaining that I cannot at present run, I can at least still walk, and my trainers are cleaned and dry and ready for the day when I will once again slip them on. You would really think that after all I have lived through over the many years I would have by now learned patience.

The wonder of my day was only tarnished slightly by two things I learned later in the day.

I learned that we have now become so obsessed with celebrity that more and more young people are committing suicide, or attempting to, because they are not famous or a celebrity. The biggest selling magazines and books are those dealing with the lives of celebrities, even if their own claim to fame was that they appeared on a reality television show. I found that so sad that I wanted to scream, "You are of worth because you are You, not because you want to be somebody else."

Later I watched a programme about the selling of bottled water, and the effort that companies put into making their water a market leader. How they have convinced us that we need something that in reality we could well live without, especially here in Scotland where we have water in abundance. As I walk I frequently drink from springs and rivers and I have never tasted water from a plastic bottle that could taste so beautiful. Yet we are importing water in plastic bottles from USA and the continent.

Meanwhile, children are dying for the lack of water in two thirds of the world.

I will now get off my pulpit and remember again the joy of my walk, and the sound of the sea.

On my other blog I will share some thoughts on an artwork painted after such a walk and the words I wrote yesterday at the end of my walk.  At One With Creation

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Winds of Change

If the last week made me think of anything it made me aware of how much things can change in the flash of a moment. There I was a week ago running on a daily basis and this week hardly able to walk any great distance and longing to feel my feet hit the ground at pace.

Such is the way of life. I was walking one day in the hills, I stepped up on a small rise to see the view from a better angle. Having seen what I desired I stepped back onto the path. As my foot hit the track I felt it slip from under me, within no time at all I was hurtling to the bottom of the ravine some fifty feet below. The journey from the top to the bottom was the start of an even longer journey.

At the top I was a parish minister, a preacher, by the time I arrived at the bottom I had decided that if I lived I would no longer be doing this. Having been rescued and ambulanced to hospital the next day I awoke a different person in more ways than one. My hair had turned almost white overnight, but more importantly I had decided that I was no longer able to remain as a parish minister. That day I applied to become a teacher of philosophy and world religion and my new life had begun.

We live in an age when advertisers tempt us to make changes. Change to our product and you will never regret it. You should have this product, “Because you deserve it.” Or, “You should have this because you are worth it.”

Yesterday the government was planning to introduce legislation that will make all smoking products be sold in plain brown packaging. This I think was the strangest ever idea I had heard in ages. It has always been the case for me that more secretive and unknown something is the more attractive it becomes. When I played in a band I would never ever have desired to smoke pot, if like cigarettes I could purchase it over a counter.

I have said many times before and will no doubt say it again, life is full of change. Some we welcome with open arms, others are thrust upon us. But in all things we are masters of our own destiny. But do not tell the marketers and advertisers that because they are now busy wondering how to make brown boxes seem even more attractive.

On my other blog I discuss the above artwork and the thoughts that lie behind it and its inspiration.

West Wind Blows

Monday, 22 November 2010

Wild Waves and Wild Thoughts

Wild Waves

When I retired and moved to this part of the world I was in fact returning to my roots. That being so it would seem that I would find it easy. The opposite was in fact the truth. There is some truth in the fact that you can never go back, life is an onward journey.

I thought I knew this place so well, the place of my boyhood. The place where I built gang huts with my friends, now covered by a housing complex. The friends had moved on, married and geographically separated. I was both a retired minister and retired teacher. Yet when I had left here I was in fact a butcher. The reality hit me I was a retired person and I had to do something. The one thing that I still did was sit as a judge in the court. A time consuming task, but not one that was going to fill the time created by retirement.

So it was that I found myself one day walking the coastal path on a windy day with the waves crashing on the rocks. I rushed home that day and painted “Wild Waves”. I did so in a frenzy using not brushes but my fingers. It was almost a new beginning. I saw that it was possible to express inner feelings with paint.

This painting sold the day I took it to hang it. Somebody saw me begin to put it on the wall and offered to purchase it there and then.

This time of incapacity has meant me looking back again over the three years or so I have been painting. As many of you know I have gone through a tortured period of struggling to find where I am heading with paint.

Susan suggested adding words to some of my paintings. Reluctantly I decided to give it a try. I am not at all sure that I am any use at all at writing poems but I thank her for prompting me in that direction. It has made me sit and think and to see my paintings in a new way. To feel again the emotions created. I am enjoying the process and finding it interesting that some of you are putting ideas into words that lie behind some of my words and paintings that I have thought and felt yet never said.

How glad I am that I have kept going in this blogging world, right now it is so helping me on the therapeutic road of recovery.

Now I have one very serious request. For those who read me on a regular basis and know me well please tell me when it is time to move on from the poems and thoughts.

This blog is linked to my other where I look again at the artwork above. Alone With The Wild Waves

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Out of The Silence

This last week has been one I hope not to have to relive. From feeling in the peak of fitness, to feeling like a child unable to move, in the space of a few hours. It has been a week of pain but also one of reflection. I have been here before, forced to take stock because of circumstances. I have spoken before of having voice problems. I had a time when for almost six months I could not speak at all. For one who depended on the voice to fulfil your vocation in life a frightening time and prospect.

The other difficulty of not being able to speak effected all those around me. People were at a loss. What could they say when they were getting no verbal feedback. As the time passed the number of people who visited became less and less and I was left to get on living the quiet life.

It was at this time I began for the first time to dabble with paint. To my surprise I enjoyed it and seemed to be able to produce art that people liked. So a disability had opened a new door in my life.

I remember my old grandmother used to say that every cloud had a silver lining. There is some measure of truth in this statement. I wonder what the silver lining is going to be to this spell of semi confinement and restriction. I am sure there will be something.

In the midst of all my silence there was my dog. There with me every waking minute. Watching me and understanding. We communicated without words and he just seemed to know. We ran together, walked together and he sat beside me as I painted. A constant companion in my silence.

When I took up painting again recently I tried to paint him. The painting still hangs in my study. It was a first attempt at painting a dog and I should really do him again some day. Even if I do this one will stay with me. I am aware that so many of you have pets that hold a special place in your lives and that you have painted or drawn them and made a much better effort than this one of mine.

Art is indeed a marvellous outlet and means of saying things that words can never say.

I have added a poem about those days, and him, it is on my other blog. I hope it lets you see why I attempted this work and what it meant to me.  Pools of Love

Thursday, 18 November 2010


I am here and home after my short time in hospital. Such is the wonder of modern medicine and keyhole surgery. It will be some time before I can run and even be pain free. But time and nature are wonderful healers. Before this horrible episode happened I wrote a poem on here with one of my artworks. I was overwhelmed by the comments made, and yes I did agree that it was rough in places. I have never claimed to be a wordsmith or a poet, for that matter an artist either. This blog was never set up to make any of those claims just to share my thoughts and feelings with one or two people and have some feedback.

Just before the pain hit and became quickly unbearable two things occurred. Susan encouraged me to consider some of my other art and to share in poem the thinking behind it. I said to her I did not think I possessed the needed skills but she encouraged me to try. The next day or so Barbra showed a beautiful picture on her blog and I could not resist writing about it. We posted a joint venture, her picture my words and the comments have warmed my healing. It was not so long ago she drew one of my pictures. Is it not amazing how this world of blogging allows such ventures. Maybe we should be seeking more collaborative happenings?

I am not sure I will be able to post every day this one has taken a bit of time to put together. Sitting for any length gets very painful. I will post when I can and comment on other blogs as and when I can.

Can I once again thank you one and all for your support, words and concern. It has made the whole thing bearable, well more so.

I will post the picture here above and on my other blog will simply post the thoughts that lie behind it and why I painted it.

It is a painting I enjoyed doing and I hope the words tell you why. I still have it as it remains unsold.

This blog is linked to my other where I will share the thoughts and words of this artwork.


Monday, 15 November 2010

My Apologies

I need to apologise to all who read this blog that I have not posted for a couple of days. I am not at all sure what it is that is causing it but when I sit at the computer I am very uncomfortable. I have a severe pain. I have made an appontment with the doctor for this afternoon. I jus thope it is nothing serious and something to do with my exercise . I hope to return to this and my other blog as soon a s possible.

In the meantime please bear with me.

Friday, 12 November 2010

It Is Not As similar As It Seems.

I do my very best in these blogs to steer well away from making political comments. This doe not mean that I am not a political animal, truth to be told I have some wonderful trophies of old from some of my protesting days. As the years go by we mellow and we listen to the views of others. The engine may be fired up but sometimes the least said the easiest it is to mend.

That said, I am finding it very difficult these days to keep my tongue between my teeth. We seem to have a government that knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. In the process of, “fixing things” all sorts of things get said by people putting their mouths into action without first engaging the brain. So the other day there it was suggested that the long term unemployed should be made to collect litter to get them back into the ethic of work. It had hardly been said when another asked if such jobs were not demeaning.

Now there is a lot going on in all of the above, but let me ask one question. How does that make the little fellow who takes great pride in making sure the street I live in is litter free. He comes up regularly with his brush, shovel and bucket trolley and makes sure the place looks well. He takes great pride in his job.

How easy it is to shoot from the hip for all the right reasons but in the process to forget that others can be affected by our words.

The heart surgeon had a car hat was in need of servicing. He took it to his local garage, where he usually exchanged a little friendly banter with the owner, a skilled but not especially wealthy mechanic.

"So tell me," says the mechanic, "I've been wondering about what we both do for a living, and how much more you get paid than me."

"Yes?" says the surgeon.

"Well look at this," says the mechanic, as he worked on a big complicated engine, "I check how it's running, open it up, fix the valves, and put it all back together so it works good as new. We basically do the same job don't we? And yet you are paid ten times what I am - how do you explain that?"

The surgeon thought for a moment, and smiling gently, replied, "Try it with the engine running."

Sometimes we need to stand in the other persons shoes to get the full picture.

This blog is linked to my other.  Poppies

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Nothing Wrong With My Eyesight.

My wife has been complaining about her spectacles for ages now. Eventually she was persuaded to go to the optician and have her eyes tested but it had taken a good number of walks before she would eventually admit she needed to have her eyes seen to.

I wonder what it is about growing older that is the worst. The aches and pains that come with age? Or is it the loss of hearing? Or maybe it is the eyesight getting worse?

She had kept checking her eyesight against mine. As we walked towards a signpost she would ask me to tell her when I could read it without difficulty. I played the game for ages before the penny eventually dropped what she was in truth doing.

I heard four men chat yesterday each one proudly telling the others how good his hearing, eyesight or whatever was. As I listened to them I laughed at them and said to them that I had come to the conclusion that they were in such great condition they would have no problems as long as they all stuck together. Between them they had all the senses in good working order, separately they all had at least one that was failing. They all laughed.

I suggested we start a club and call it, “The helpful coffin dodgers.”

It reminded me of the story of the old lad who played golf most days of the week. One day he arrived home at lunchtime and said to his wife that he was playing no more. “I keep hitting the ball and it quickly gets out of my sight and I lose it.”

His wife thought for a bit and told him he should ask his brother Jack to go with him. She went on to explain the Jacks eyesight was perfect. He decided to do just that. The next day the two of them met at the golf course. Bill teed up his ball and hit a lovely drive. He turned to his brother and asked him if he saw where the ball went. “Of Course,” he said, “I have perfect eyesight.” “Ok”, said Bill, “Where did it go?” “Ah,” said Jack, “I saw where it went but I cannot remember.”

Do you know what the very worst thing about growing old is? Being afraid to admit that you are in fact doing just that.

This blog is linked to my other where I speak of my latest sale.Motion and Emotion.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Now Who Is That?

I am sure you did not expect to see this character this morning. I thought it was time for me to get into the swing of things and stop being my usual bah humbug. During the course of yesterday I was asked if I would do my usual annual visit as Santa to the Christmas dinner for the residents in a sheltered housing complex. This has become something of a ritual.

Last year I had no problems all I needed was the jacket trousers and false beard. I already had a substantial tummy and my hair hung down under the cap no problem. If I agree to do it again I will need help with the hair and I will certainly need to push something up under the jacket.

It made me laugh to be asked again, and when I asked why, I was told that the old folks loved how I did it with great enthusiasm. I suppose we should do everything we do with all that we have.

This reminded me of a true story of a student who played Santa in one of the large department stores. Yes they have now to go through all sorts of disclosures before they can do this job.

He was telling me of the young boy who during his stint at the store visited him on a number of occasions. He was well aware that he was not visiting just to get the gift; the gift was not of much value. He asked the young lad why he had visited so often. The lad looked at him in deadly earnest and said, “I love talking to you, and you always listen to everything I say.”

I thank you, those who have gone out of your way to encourage me to keep writing of my tales and stravaiging, but let me take this little incident to remind us that for there ever to be good story tellers there has equally to be good listeners. We are in danger of losing the art of listening because we are so wrapped up n our own little worlds.

Two men were out in a boat. One of them began to drill a hole in the boats keel. The other man said, “Stop, you can’t do that.” The man with the drill said it is alright I am only drilling on my side of the boat.

I will leave you to think about that. Sorry about the picture on this blog but please feel free to have a laugh.

For Jerry I have linked this blog back to my other. I will post now and again there and add a link here on the days I do.

This blog is linked to my other.  Autumn

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

So Being Good Is Not Enough.

I know, I know I should not just stop without saying anything and I apologise. I have been greatly moved by the concern of fellow bloggers that I had not posted. That they took the time to check out that I was okay had me sitting in my study chair in tears. I know Susan keeps telling me that more people read blogs than comment on blogs, but it does not always sink into my brain. I thought long and hard about closing down both blogs and in the end decided to close down one. Thanks to those one or two who followed over and joined this one. So back to my daily stories, thoughts and “Stravaiging.” Now there is a word for you I hope you like it. Stravaiging is a Scottish word meaning to roam, but not to roam without purpose or meaning. I like to think that my daily roaming and wandering is full with meaning and purpose and intent.

Yesterday was not a great day for stravaiging; it was a wet, windy foul day. Today started off in a very similar vein. My son refused to have his weekly run it was so windy and the rain was not just rain but hail. Last night I walked the coastal path as the darkness fell, I now feel I know the path so well I could almost walk it blindfold. The wind was wild forcing the tide high on the beach, at places so high it splashed up on the rocks and onto the path. Marvellous adventure and I enjoyed it.

Earlier in the day I had walked through the village. The taxi drivers were there in full force, they always love wet windy days, and they say it is good for business. It was sad to see them though blocking the disabled parking bays. I pointed this out to them and they made a comment that disabled people should not be driving in such weather. I left with a sad and heavy heart.

The incident reminded me of another friend I had years ago, he ended up driving a taxi but he was the opposite to those I encountered yesterday.

He had been a managing director of a firm and had worked long hours often seeing little of his family. He was successful, but unhappy. He felt there had to be more to life than this. He decided to resign and buy a taxi.

he very soon built up a successful taxi firm, but he never gave up driving his taxi, even though he employed others to work with him. He built up a reputation for care of customers. His cabs always had a newspaper folded neatly in the back seats. There was always a selection of music tapes the passenger could listen to if they wanted. He always got out the cab to open the door s to let passengers in and out, and he always helped with their luggage or groceries. He was a caring cab driver who went the extra mile.

I remember him once telling me it was easy to drive a cab. it was simple to be a cab driver. The thing was he wanted to be not just a cab driver but an excellent one.

He once said this to me, “One thing I know for sure, to be good in my business I could simply just meet the expectations of my passengers. But, to be GREAT in my business, I have to EXCEED the customer's expectations! I like both the sound and the return of being 'great' better than just getting by on 'average'"

This brings me back to my starting point. I thought I had reached average in writing blogs. Average has never been good enough for me. Thanks to those of you who yesterday made me feel a bit above average for you I will continue to collect my stories and share them.

I will do some more stravaiging and take you with me. I hope you can come along.

Have a great day.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Beware Mousetrap Ahead.

 It is amazing how we can allow life to become so comfortable that we begin to take things for granted. I have a certain number of routes that I can choose to run and because I run at the same time each day I expect on certain runs to meet certain people. I take it for granted. The same people walking their dogs, the same old guys out for their morning stroll. I turn certain bends and expect certain things. Then one day it all changes and you are facing a solid wall that was not there the last time, what do you do now? Out of your comfort zone and you immediately feel rattled.

There is a lovely story that makes a similar message. A little mouse lived on a farm. He lived behind the skirting board in the kitchen. It was a nice spot to live being warm and always there was plenty to eat around the place. One day he peeped out from his spot and saw the farmer’s wife opening a parcel. The parcel contained a number of mousetraps.

The little mouse panicked. He ran off to the shed and told the chicken, the pig and the cow. They all looked at him and asked what the problem was. The mouse said they were dangerous things mouse traps. The pig laughed and said that it might be for him but not for them. A mousetrap was never going to be a problem for them.

Later that day, all of the animals heard the farmer’s wife screaming. The mousetrap had gone off and caught a snake by the tail. The snake had then bitten the farmers’ wife. The farmer rushed her to hospital and they did their best to remove all the poison, but late in the night she still had a terrible fever.

The farmer knew that some nice chicken broth was known to help. He went out to the shed and killed the chicken to make the broth. Sadly the fever persisted. So many people visited and offered their help the farmer had to kill the pig to make enough sandwiches to feed them all.

Sadly the poison took its toll and the wife died. The farmer on hearing how many people were to be attending the funeral had to kill the cow to supply enough food for them all.

So you see the truth of the matter is that the mousetrap was responsible for the deaths of them all and the mouse was a witness to this. Some times life can get so comfortable for us that we fail to notice the needs of those around us. We are all part of the wonderful thread of life and whether we like it or not what effects those around us can so easily in the end effect us.

Sorry the pictures do not exactly fit the story but I took those yesterday and thought I would share them with you today. I saw this fellow and some beautiful deer yesterday they made my day.

Have a marvellous weekend.

Friday, 5 November 2010

A Challenge and a Half

 My apologies, this post was done much later than I would normally be posting. I arrived home from my morning run feeling exhausted even though I had only run just over the six miles. I think yesterday I must have over done things. IN the morning I tried to run a route faster than I had before and then in the evening I ventured forth in a howling ale and very heavy rain and walked further than I had intended.

There is a lesson that I need to remind myself. “The greatest doctor is your own body.” It tells you when you have consumed too much salt even although it has never been told what the maximum you should take in any one day. It just knows so it tells you it is thirsty and you need to drink, once you have drunk enough to quench the thirst it flushes out the salt from your system and presto back to normal. Why the government employs people to tell us this I will never know.

Another thing the body is good at telling you is when something is not right, it gives you a painful reminder. When you are tired it wants to sleep. Now is all that not amazing it just knows these things, and if we listen to it we will be ok. So when mine screamed at me this morning that it did not want me to run why did I not just listen? Anyway I arrived home and fell asleep in the bath.

Now maybe I should whisper this next bit. I have been set a lovely challenge for next year. I have been asked to run up and down Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. A big beautiful giant of a mountain. The books will all tell you that the climb from sea level to the summit takes about 5 hours and the descent is slightly less but not a great deal. So a days outing.

My challenge is to be up and down it in less than three hours. I will be doing it for a charity. So I hope my body is not listening to intently because he and I are going to have to be the best of friends between now and then.

Today I am hoping to paint, so I will be kind and gentle to him for the rest of today.

I have added a picture and a painting of the Ben to give you some idea of why I have used this blog to tell you about him.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

We Can All Grow Old.

 Yesterday I was asked four times how old I was in the course of an afternoon. Each time it was because the person had seen me out running and thought that at my age maybe there was something special about being out doing such stupid things. It seems that when you get older you are no expected to look for challenges just to get on with growing older.

I of course do not uphold with this belief, and I know that most of you who will read this agree with me. Nevertheless I found myself thinking about it. Having done so I am sure I came up with no wonderful thoughts or insights, but I did think about this.

Growing old is mandatory whereas growing up is optional.

Yesterday I had a pretty full day, I ran with my son, I began a drawing, I prepared three paintings for hanging in a new inn and delivered them and I met with two dear friends. All in all not a bad day and her I am a day older.

Now if I had stayed in bed all day, I would still be here a day older. If the young man I met yesterday who has signed a pact with alcohol had stayed in his bed all day he would also be a day older, but he probably would not have spent as much as he did or have the sore head I am sure he has everyday. It is so easy to grow older, it happens. Now growing up is something else, it is as I said optional.

Growing up does not come naturally, sadly day in and day out I meet people and see people who at an age you would think they would know better they still act in a very childish manner. They have grown older but they have not grown up.

Jerry and I have spoken often about life and its choices. Well I guess this is another one of these choices.

Do I just grow older or do I grow older while still growing up.

The doctor told me to start the excercise very gradually so today I drove past the shop that sells running gear.

I was sent a couple of jokes about choices and they made me laugh I hope they get your day off with a laugh also.

What would you think fitted best into your very busy schedule. One hour a day of excercise or 24 hours a day of being dead?

I was going to start jogging today but my toes had a vote and out voted me 10 to 1

Have a great day remember tomorrow you will be a day older.