Sunday, 31 October 2010

Scary Faces

 We here we are, All Saints Day, or as we now in Scotland say Halloween. Although more and more we are hearing the Trick or Treat version being bounded about as we import another tradition from over the pond. I now have a number of children living round about me so yesterday I bough a large bag of goodies just in case.

They will though have to look more scary than Archie does in yesterdays blog picture. Now I do not even have to wear a mask to do that.

I do remember when the children were young and we helped them dress up. All of the costumes were thought up and made in the homes, now the stores sell ready made costumes. The spirit of creation has gone from it altogether. Now they knock on the door, tell you a little joke you have heard a million times and want cash and treats. No more, dookin for apples and treacle scones on strings. But no doubt each generation enjoys things in its own way. As I was out running early a Halloween party for adults was still going on in a garden with the noise of people inebriated, changed days indeed.

Now talking of scary faces. I think I told the story of my daughter on who seeing her nephew for the first time was asked who she thought he looked like. She was meant to consider and say mother, father or both. She looked and declared he looked a bit like Gollum. She has never been allowed to forget that comment but it has not stopped her having a wonderful aunt and nephew relationship with him. She speaks of him so often with a real sense of joy and pride.

This reminds me of another story of a father meeting his son for the very first time. He had not been present at the birth so the first him he met him was on the ward of the maternity wing. He was wearing a yellow and black stripped baby grow and had those big eyes new born babies have. The father looked at him and without thinking said, “He looks like a bumble bee.” Just at that the nurse appeared beside the bed and said, “Ah you must be the new father you son looks just like you.”

A bumble Bee indeed the father must have had a real scary face.

Have a good day and beware of ghosts.  The picture is one taken while walking yesterday. This island is in the river Forth not far from where I live. As a young man I had a vision of rebuilding that abbey on the island and using it to help rehabilitate addicts. The dreams of youth.

My other blog has one or two more pictures taken yesterday.  The Wonder Of Autumn.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Laughing In The Rain

Yesterday was one of those day, It started with a bang. My wife woke me calling for help. She had gone to get the bread toaster from under the unit that covers the boiler in our kitchen, only to discover the toaster was in fact holding the full weight of the unit. It had decided to part company with the wall. What a great way to start your day.

Once things were in a condition that I could see to getting help later, I prepared to go out for my morning run. The rain was pounding into my face and a strong gales force wind was blasting my face. I asked myself, “Can this day get any worse.”

The answer was forthcoming very soon. It did get worse but I will not bore you with the details. One way or another it looked as if it was to be one of those, “I wish my Aunt Liz was still alive ,” kind of days.

Now let me explain what I mean by that. My aunt Liz was a marvellous old lady. She lived to the ripe old age of 103. In all the time I knew her I cannot ever remember her complaining about anything. No matter how bad things ever got she would always say the same thing, “Ah well if you don’t laugh you would want to cry.” What a marvellous saying that is.

She believed that laughter was the cure for all things, and for her it most certainly did seem to work. She lived alone, her sister died at the age of 93. She was independent by nature and loved to have people round for afternoon tea and scones. She lost a leg due to illness. Did that get her down, not a bit. It slowed her down but did not get her down.

She always had a great many friends and her afternoon teas were never taken alone. Because she made people laugh. So on bad days I often hear myself saying, “I wish aunt Liz was alive.” The very memory of her and her laughter usually works.

She is no longer with me, but I am blessed with her memory and with two dear friends who live by the same attitude. Laughter is the name of the game. Yesterday they both in their way helped me though my day.

One of these people I told you about yesterday and showed you his portrait, Archie. When I saw him yesterday he said to me, “My man your looking awful serious. You need to laugh a bit.” I turned my back for a moment and he had got hold of some stuff the shop was using for Halloween decorations and stuck it under his hat. When I saw him I could not help but laugh. I laughed all the way home and I am laughing even now as I think of him.

So no more words look again at my picture of him. He is 21 years old going on 84, he tells me, but he is just laughter on the hoof.

I hope you agree it is a good Halloween picture and that he manages to spread his laughter to your heart.

This blog is linked to my other. Portrait

Friday, 29 October 2010

Now What Was It I Came Up Here For?

When I am at home I spend a great deal of my time moving between downstairs and upstairs. My study and computer live upstairs and my art materials downstairs in the garage, where I have made a painting space. Now that I am fit this does not cause me any real problems in terms of getting up and down the stairs. I can in fact do that with ease. Nevertheless it still does from time to time cause me another problem. Sometimes I make my way to the study, stop, look around and wonder why I am there. I knew I came up for something, but I cannot for the life of me remember what it was. I have those senior moments.

I once had an old lady, a member of my congregation, who would appear at my door at all sorts of times of the day and night. I got to accept that she had wandered out of the house and now did not where she was. A cup of coffee a chat and off back home and she was as right as rain. At least she always seemed to remember the way to the manse. She was a lovely old lady, and even as she was, a good golfer. Her friend often took her to the golf course and they played nine holes of golf had something at the clubhouse and returned home. She would often ask her friend, “Remind my who you are again, because you seem like a real nice person.”

It was sometimes frightening to think she might come to harm, but almost everybody knew her and she always either ended up at the manse or home. She was fortunate in managing to see out her last days in the familiar surrounds of her own home. She died having had a long life and almost the whole village turned out for her last farewell. And we all took her to her last resting place.

I was told a lovely story that reminded me of this old lady.

The old man had arrived at the hospital to have stitches removed from a cut in his finger. He kept looking at his watch as he was assessed by the nurse. He told her he had a very important appointment at 9am. It was now 8.30 and there seemed little chance that he would make it.

The nurse seeing his concern spoke to the doctor and it was agreed she would remove the stitches put on a clean dressing and let him go. As she did so she enquired about his important appointment, was it with his doctor? “Oh no,” he said, “I have to go to the nursing home to have breakfast with my wife.” The nurse asked him if she would mind if he was just a little bit late. He explained that she would not; she did not even remember who he was as she suffered from Alzheimer's disease. The nurse looked at him and asked, “You still go to see her every day at the same time, even though she does not know who you are?”

The old man patted the nurse’s hand, looked her in the eye and said, “She does not know who I am but I know who she is.”

True love is neither physical, nor romantic.

True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.

My old friend Archie is 84 there was a time when I would not have been able to run alongside him he was so fast now he has difficulty walking from the shop to the inn. I still talk to him as a runner and I know he loves that that is how I still see him. Because when he looks in the mirror each day that is who he still sees.

This blog is linked to my other. The beauty of Age

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Motorway Apple Tree

I have noticed it all summer as I ran and walked over the bridge that crossed the motorway. Growing on the banking an apple tree. During the summer it had an abundance of tasty apples now its leaves are falling and the last remaining apple far out of reach clings on. Where it is makes it plain that somebody having eaten an apple has thrown the core over the edge of the bridge where one of the seeds has germinated and the tree has grown.

It is actually special this tree, because apple seeds are not so easy to germinate and grow as it would seem. So many apples have fallen from this tree but the chances of another growing are small. The tiny seed needs nurtured and cared for. The conditions need to be just right for it to grow.

The number that manage to germinate is few, the number of saplings that are not eaten or trampled or knocked out are fewer. So the fact that this tree has made it is something marvellous.

As I viewed I thought, it's quite often so with people's dreams. Wonderful ideas come to our minds but they die too soon - we don't tend to the little saplings, we don't protect them as we should. And then one day we wonder what happened to our dreams - why did they never come true?

Maybe the seeds of your dreams did not automatically grow. Like planting an apple tree it might take many tries. Like the hundreds of tries to have that book published, you might send your manuscript out two hundred times before it is accepted. You might meet dozens of people until you met the true friend. You may have to paint many paintings till you stand back and feel you have produced something you truly like.

But if you keep on sowing the seeds of your dreams, one day you will succeed.

And after that others will comment on how lucky you are to be successful - when in fact you have probably failed more often than you would like to count. But you were good at failing, you learned, you adapted, and then with your new knowledge you tried again.

And again.

And again.

And one day success is yours.

I am sorry I am posting my apple again but it seems to fit this story so well. I have shown it completed in a mount and believe it or not signed. Yes I do like it.

I hope that today you dream dreams and that one of then becomes reality.

This blog is linked to my other.  The Apple, Can I Tempt You? (Complete)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Oh My Goodness Look at That

It was good to arrive home after a long and difficult journey. I was bringing my caravan home after allowing my son and his wife the use of it for a week to give him a much needed break. He had spent his honeymoon in this part of Scotland a time full of good memories and also some bad. it was while on honeymoon he discovered the lump that turned out to be cancer. So four years on they were back and they seemed to have enjoyed their time there.

So although it was long drive and in windy and cold conditions it was good, but good to be home.

As I unpacked my bag I looked out the bedroom window. I live in a nice part of the village a quiet cul-de-sac with good neighbours. I was therefore surprised to see so much litter lying around the street. I was aware that the schools were on holiday but it was unusual to see litter in our street.

I listened to the inner voice and all the things I was about to say. Young people etc. etc. But I also heard the voice of the wise old sage who hundreds of years ago said, “Do not complain about the snow on your neighbour’s roof, if you have an untidy doorstep.”

I also remembered the tale of the shopkeeper who every week at the trades meeting complained about the dirty windows of the shop next door to his. One day a fellow trader said to him, “I was passing your shop and I noticed the windows you complained about. I also thought the answer might be for you to give your own a clean.”

The trader was upset but nevertheless he did clean his windows. The next day the owner of the shop next door had his cleaned. They shone like his. So both windows ended up sparkling and clean.

So tired though I was I put on my outdoor shoes, took a bin bag and collected the litter in the street and put it in my bin. Some of the young people said hello as I did it. I wonder what their inner voice was saying to them.

It is easy to criticise it is harder to look at ourselves. Among the litter was a paper bag from where I had just driven. It must have blown from the boot of my car as I emptied it.

This blog is linked to my other.A Painting In Thought

Monday, 25 October 2010

Silence is Golden, So They Say

I had many ideas in my youth, some I am proud to remember, some I look back on with some pride and some in which I did much learning. One such idea was to hold a twenty-four hour meditation of silence. I combined this with a week of sacrificial eating. The final aim was to raise funds and awareness of the worlds starving. The week began with the twenty-four hour meditation in silence. Members of the public were invited to join for any length of period they chose. I had provided sheets
that people could give thought to during the allotted time of silence they had chosen. I and one or two others did the full period.
For the rest of the week I ate only a cup of boiled rice each day. I drank ten cups of water. The project raised a fair sum of money which was given to charity.
The time of silence was short in comparison to the six months of silence I was going to experience later in my life due to voice problems. It was however long enough to allow me to experience way of the inner mind when deprived of the use of the voice. A lesson I have found useful in many ways since. Living on a cup of rice taught me empathy with those who had to live out their lives on such small amounts. It taught me never to complain about what I had or did not have but to make the best of what came my way.
It saddens me when I hear day in and day out people constantly wanting more and more, and when the luxuries of life so easily become the necessities. I was thinking of this yesterday as I walked in the beauty of this place where I am today. Surrounded by mountains and the wonderful colours of autumn. I am greatly blessed indeed. Now why should I have cause to complain.
On a lighter note, a good friend reminded me of a lovely story that made me start this day with the same message but with a grin and an inner smile.
It is the story of the girl who signed up to join a monastic order of silence. At the end of the first five
years she was told she could say two words. She thought for some time and said. "
Hard bed.” She was told that it would be rectified.
At the end of ten years she was again permitted two words. She said, ”Food cold.”
At the end of fifteen years she was again permitted two words. She said, “I quit.”
The old sage said to her, “Maybe it is best you do. You have done nothing but complain since you came here.
I return home tomorrow and hope to catch up with your blogs I miss reading them.
I have not managed to change the other blog today

Saturday, 23 October 2010

The Things We Remember

I heard a true story yesterday of an old lady who had died. The family had gathered to clean out her remaining belongings, the measure of her life to some extent. Her daughter had been asked to make a start in the bedroom while the rest of the family began to get the heavy furniture from the living room ready for uplifting.

As the daughter looked through the drawers of the bedroom cupboard she came across a number of photograph albums. She looked through them and saw pictures of herself as a child and some of the important moments of her life. Her mother had kept them and possibly got happy memories from looking at them. Then she found a strange album. It had pictures of the people in life she had not liked at all, the ones she had differences with. There were two full pages of a person she really had disliked with vehemence. It was as if she was looking at theses pictures safe in the knowledge they were now dead and could do her no further harm. In fact, because she had never forgiven them they had in a way haunted her to the very end.

I so hope there is nobody dislikes me enough to want to keep me in memory in such a way. I certainly know there is nobody I would never forgive.

The second thing I heard yesterday was much happier. A group of men were chatting and laughing. I heard them mention an old friend of mine from my youth. Hamish Imlach was a folk singer and joker. He was a larger than life character in every way. He was, to be kind to him, a bit overweight. But he laughed and sang his way to an early grave. Here all these years later these men were still remembering him fondly and still laughing with him at his jokes and humour.

Now that is how I would like to be remembered, as one who has left something that will bring joy years from now.

When you stand before your blank canvas or that blank paper, remember that you might just be on the verge of creating something that will bring joy for years to come.

If there is anybody who reads this thinks I need to forgive them or they think I need to say sorry can I just take this precious moment to do just that.

I have to be up and away very early tomorrow and will not be back until Tuesday. I will try to post at some stage but not at all sure when my apologies.

This blog is linked to my other.Can I Tempt You? Pastel

Friday, 22 October 2010

Grasping the Moment

I thank you all for yesterdays marvellous comments. It is so good to hear how others have grasped the moment and knocked on the doors. I am also happy to hear that so many of you have also got doors waiting to be knocked and ready to offer help when it is asked for because I am day by day aware that I am blessed with such talented friends, who have indeed grasped the moment.

I had a funny conversation yesterday that led my thinking further along those same lines. I was in the newsagent when somebody said to me. “I passed you out running this morning. I was in the warmth of the car, were you not freezing cold out there running?”

Now there is a question that comes from the heart of one who has never had the joy of running. But it was a question that made me think.

When I go running I wear two watches. One that tells me nothing except the time of day and one that tells me what my heart rate is the elevation of ascent, the speed of travel and the distance travelled. It can also tell me exactly where I am just in case I get completely lost. Yes, I know, a bit over the top, but at one time I trained really seriously to race marathons and I just cannot get out of the habit.

Now hear is the interesting thing. Neither of these watches were made by the Swiss. When I was a boy all watches were Swiss made. When the new digital age came along the Swiss rejected it and stuck with the old cog wheels. As a result watch factories all over Switzerland had to close. They had not grasped the moment.

Today as I sit here and write I can hear the rain pounding off the window, there is a strong wind blowing and I am sure it is cold outdoors. How nice it would be to just go run a warm bath and lie in it and read a few chapters of my book. Or fill my coffee cup and read a few more blogs. The more I think about it the more attractive it becomes.

The hardest part of any run is the first five steps, the ones that take me from my back doorway. Once I get moving and the body warms up and I get that wonderful feeling in my legs of moving freely I will love every minute of it. It is a bit like getting into a cold swimming pool where everybody seems to be having fun. Do you remember that feeling?

Today will be full of opportunities to grasp the moment. To make somebody’s day brighter than it might be. To take a step into something new. To make a new friend or to consolidate an old one.

Or to take the comfortable way and do exactly the same as always. Will the last person put out the lights?

Today I am day older and a great many days older than I was when I had my first Swiss watch, but I am not too old yet to,” Grasp the Day.”

I am off to get on my trainers and my two watches and enjoy the rain.

Have a great day.

This blog is linked to my other.  Rain Along The Coastal Path

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Doors and Gates.

My friend used to always make the comment that I must be the luckiest person he had ever met in life. “If you fell in the River Clyde you would come out with two salmon in your pockets,” he would say. I never gave it much thought the first few times he said it but after he had said it a number of times I asked him to tell me exactly what he meant by that.

He went on to explain that it always amazed him that somebody who had been asked to leave school at 15 with no qualifications had managed to get where I was in life. Now I never had thought I was anywhere very important in life but he seemed to.

How did a lad with nothing get into the ministry of the Church of Scotland? It was simple really. I went to two of the most influential people in the church at that time, The Very Reverend Lord George McLeod and The Very Reverend Principal Porteous Dean of the faculty of divinity at Edinburgh University and asked them to help me. “You mean you just went up and asked them for help?” That is exactly what I did I knocked on their doors and asked them for guidance and help, and they both did just that.

I once had to write an essay on the theory of existentialism. Not easy for one who has just managed to get himself into university. I wrote a letter to Rudolph Bultmann, who was the leading theologian in this field at the time and asked him some questions. None of my fellow students believed me. He wrote to me often from then until his death.

When I eventually became a minister in a small church that had been given two years to turn itself around I realised I was not going to do that without some serious help. I went to the grounds of one of Scotland’s larger football grounds, which happened to be in my parish, knocked on the door of the chairman and asked for their support and help. They gave it is the form of help with making the building more attractive and the church on a sounder financial footing. This allowed me space to encourage the youth of the parish to get involved and show that there was a thriving living church in the midst of the parish.

That church survived its two years and now some 40 years later is still there making its mark in that part of Scotland.

Now why am I talking about this today, the day after I said not to live in the past? Well when I saw those great big gates that I have promised to show to Jerry I started to think about all the gates and doors I had managed to get through in my life. I began to wonder what lay behind these marvellous gates and doors.

I am not seeking help but you never know who I might meet tomorrow who is and there just might be help behind those gates.

What life has taught me, and I know so many of you have learned the same, s that no door ever opens unless it is knocked on. I have made progress in so many ways in my 66 years because I learned that behind many doors are people waiting to offer help.

I have also made a decision in my life to always have an open door ready to offer help whenever I can.

The truth is that there are a great many undiscovered talented people in the world just needing to be found. There are also a great many people behind doors that just needed to be knocked.

I am sure we all know somebody who, if they had the courage would knock on your door.

This blog is linked to my other.  Gates For Jerry

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Lets Not Dwell In The Past.

Some people have an amazingly long memory they manage to remember something that you did to them more than 40 years ago, at least that is how it seems. I was in a shop in the village where I had lived and went to school as a child. In the shop was a lady who said she thought she might recognise me. On enquiring about her and telling her who I was she decided that she did not in fact know me. It was with some apprehension that I asked her if she was looking for the person she thought I was. “Oh no, not at all,” she said, “He was the boy who pulled my hair one day and made me cry. If you had been him I was going to tell you how sore that was.”

I was indeed aware of how sore it had been. It had been so painful she had carried it with her like a burden for over 40 years. That really was something to carry for so long.

L left the shop wondering if I had been that lad what she might have said or done to me. I was also very aware that it is a simple thing to do, to hold on to the past. To allow the things that happened to you to haunt you down the years and effect the present day decisions we make.

When I was young my mother had a real love for, “Salad Cream”. This was a brand name for a form of salad dressing. Every time she produced it at the table my father made a comment along the lines of, “Ah we are having furniture polish are we?”

I suppose he did not like it and so he made fun of it. The downside of his comedy was that I took a dislike of dressings of all kinds. I have never till this day managed to overcome this dislike. I insist on all my food being served natural and without dressings. I have tried to overcome this but with very little if any success.

I have though learned many a lesson from coming to terms with this. I strive never to dwell in the past though as we move forward in age it seems more and more difficult not to do just that.

Here are one or two thoughts I have to share with you about that.

1. It is very easy to become a hostage to the past and so never see anything of value in the present.

2. The past is a foreign country and they do things differently there.

3. There is nothing surer than the fact that the job will not get done by going backwards.

4. Whatever life has in store for you it is not in the past.

I often say to my friends if you are not living on the edge you are taking up somebody else’s space. Yesterday I thought of another that I have been mulling over. I may have heard it somewhere before but I do not think so.

I am going to strive today not to live in the PAST lane.

When I put on blogger today I was given a message that it was to be down for repair and upgrade. I wonder if that was why it looks as though nobody read my blog yesterday. And I wonder should I try to post this one today. For that reason I have left it so short.

This blog is linked to my other. Coming Home To Roost

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

It Is Not Enough To Make a Decision.

 I have made some very important decisions in my life, some that have turned out to be wise ones others that have turned out to be less than wise. When I was a young lad I wanted more than anything to be a brain surgeon. I often wonder how many lives have been saved because I chose not to follow through on that desire.

As principal teacher it was my task each year to plan the incoming year’s department plan. In this we laid out the objectives for the year. We set out the aims and the objectives of the department in terms of fairness to all students no matter their sex, race or creed.

Each course to be followed was listed with outline plans for all lessons to achieve the teaching of the course. We also listed how we would raise the grades being achieved by the students in the department. I worked hard each year on the production of this manual of teaching. Each year I designed a new front page cover. Once it was completed I presented the teachers in the department with a copy. I submitted a copy to education authorities and the inspectorate.

How proud I used to feel when it was used by them as an example of a well produced handbook.

The truth behind all this was though, that once it was done it found its way on to the shelve in my office and I got on with the serious business of getting students through examinations, and into university. That after all was why I was doing the job I did. Fortunately all of the aims and the objectives were reached, but not because of the handbook but because I had made a decision to give my all to my students.

That decision did not cause me or my family any alarm at all. The decision I made to quit the ministry was another thing all together. I mad e the decision on the Wednesday and told the congregation on the Sunday. Then I realised I was now homeless and jobless with two young children. Not a good decision.

In the end it turned out well for us but it could so easily have been otherwise.

Day by day we are faced with choices and decisions. It is easy to make decisions it is not always so easy to follow them through.

I met a friend yesterday who is a wonderful example. He is always telling me, “I have made a serious decision to…..” Then he will tell me what it is he is going to do. I laughed. He asked me, “What is funny Ralph?”

I told him I was thinking about all the other decisions he had made in the past and yet here he was and not a thing had changed.

Let me finish today with a little teaser for you.

There were three frogs sitting on the leaves of a Lilly pond. One made a decision to jump. How many frogs were left on the Lilly leaves?

Now if you think you know the answer got to my other blog. The Lilly Pond

Monday, 18 October 2010

It Is What Lies In The Heart That Really Matters.

I mentioned that I visited a little village that sits in the very heart of Edinburgh the capital of Scotland. Let me tell you just a bit more about this. For most visitors to Edinburgh its main street is its centre. Princess Street has on one side the castle towering above the city. Also on that side is at street level its beautiful gardens with its art galleries built in classical style. For many this is the heart of Edinburgh. If this was in fact the case Edinburgh would be pretty much like many other cities.

But not far off this main street lies a little cobble street that leads down into a little village that has been there since Edinburgh was just in its infancy. It is possible to walk through the village and all the way to the sea following the river of Leith never ever more than a few hundred yards from all the buzz of city life.

It is little wonder I love this city, because it has a beating heart at its centre.

I heard the other day that the heart is more akin to the brain that we ever knew before. Well scientifically maybe that is true but we all knew the importance of the heart. "Countenance is a press conference that your face calls to give the state of union of your inner heart." In other words the face merely reflects the inner you.

On being asked how he won a race a famous runner said, “Easy I just threw my heart into it and my body followed.”

I remember when I was fairly young I went with a friend to stay with her grandmother. Her grandmother lived directly under the Forth Rail Bridge. Trains roll over this bridge day and night. The first time I heard it in her home I almost had a heart attack, she on the other hand never seemed to notice. She said she had hardened her heart to the sound and now she did not notice at all.

The same hardening process can occur when friends speak to us and we don not respond. Eventually we stop hearing them all together. I have a silent vow I make frequently that I will never ever ignore the voice of another and especially not that of my friends.

So if I do not comment on your blog as often as I would like please trust and believe me it is not because I do not want to it is often just simply that I am responding to another voice but I still hold yours dear in my mind.

It is not the face or the words but what lies in the heart that makes us what we are. Tend to the heart and the rest will come easily.

This is the way of the Tao.

Today I will put two pictures on here of the heart of Edinburgh and one on my other blog. I hope you agree that not many cities have a beating heart like this.

This blog is linked to my other. The Beating Heart Of A City

Sunday, 17 October 2010

I Can Resist Anything.

Yesterday I had what for me was a marvellous experience. Marvellous experiences are not always something out of the ordinary, for me it was most surely not. My wife suggested I needed a new pair of trousers for walking. Now I am not at all one who enjoys shopping but I went because we were going to combine it with a short walk through the Dean Village. This is a village right in the heart of Edinburgh a place few people seem to know about so it has retained its beauty and its peace. I will tell you more of this another day and show you some pictures. So I was tempted to the shopping by the thought of the visit.

I gave in to temptation. How easy it is to do that to just give in, much easier to give in that to resist.

There was a cartoon of a farmer feeding his pigs. As he filled the trough with food one hog said to the other, “I wonder why he is so good to us.” Temptation is a bit like that. It looks exciting to begin with but in the end it only leads to misery.

A young lad was told by his mother to come straight home from school and not to stop at the football pitch on the way home. He said that he would but he put his goalkeeping gloves in his schoolbag just in case he was tempted.

I have done a great deal of resisting temptation this last month or two in my effort to get back to my proper weight for my height. There were times when it was not easy. Like the times when I was about to have a cup of coffee and saw the biscuit tin and thought how nice a chocolate biscuit would be with the coffee.

Enough of that: back to my marvellous experience. No, it was not the village, even though it was lovely to go back down memory lane. It was when we visited the outdoor retail store and I tried on a pair of walking trousers. What a joy it was to be rewarded all my resistance to discover I was able to once again purchase a pair with a 30” waistband.

Joy comes from the simple things of life but it often also comes from the rewards of resisting temptation.

Sorry that this blog is so short but today I have a three and a half hour drive to take my caravan up north for my son. I will set it up then make the journey home so I best not give into the temptation to sit here to long.

Have a great day.

This Blog is linked to my other. Can I Tempt You? (Final)

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Man Whom Nobody Knew

I met a man the other day while I was walking who seemed like a very interesting person. It seemed he had lived a very interesting life, being far travelled. It seemed he had also had a number of occupations. I learned this in the short two miles I walked with him. He was indeed a font of knowledge.

Unfortunately we had to part company as I turned off the track to take the route back home, he headed onwards to visit a local tavern where he said he had many friends. It was only after he had left that I realised I had not asked his name and if he had given it to me I had forgotten it. I felt kind of bad about that, it is so unlike me not to ask a persons name.

Later I met my friend Archie. As you know he is one of the characters of the village I live in. He has a great memory for a man of 84 and he knows most people. I described the man to him and I watched as he looked at me. Then he said, “Who would you like that fellow to be?” I thought that a strange question from him. “What do you mean?” I asked.

“That lad will be whoever you want him to be. He has travelled the world and never left Rosyth. He has had a million jobs if you listen to him, but I do not ever remember him working. You don’t want to get to know him.”

So there you go. I had indeed met the man for all seasons, and for all people. I asked about all the friends he was heading off to meet. It seems he goes to that local tavern and has an ale and a read of their newspaper and heads home having spoken to nobody.

It is so sad that he has played this role so often that now only strangers end up in his company.

This reminded me of the word of wisdom tale told to me early in my ministry. It goes like this.

Keichu, the great Zen teacher was head of Tofuku a Zen Cathedral in Kyoto. One day the governor of Kyoto called upon him for the first time.

His attendant presented the business card of the governor to Keichu, which read: Kitagaki, Governor of Kyoto.

“I have no business with such a fellow,” said Keichu to the attendant. “Tell him to get out of here.”

The attendant carried the card back and told the governor what had happened. The governor took the card and said, “There was an error.” With a pencil he scored out the words Governor of Kyoto. He gave the attendant the card again saying , “Go ask again.”

On receiving the card Keichu looked at it and exclaimed, “Oh is that Kitagaki? I so would like to meet that fellow.”

It was Jesus who said to sit at the bottom of the table when invited and then if invited to the top you have an even greater honour.

Both stories are simply telling us to be just who we are and never try to be an greater than that.

Have a great weekend.

This blog is linked to my other Can I Tempt You? (2)

Ruby was telling me yesterday she is having problems posing comments on my blog was I deleting them. No I never ever delete any comments so I am sorry if this has happened to you. I am aware that I have not been getting many comments there may be something I have done.

Friday, 15 October 2010

A Tree is a Wonderful Thing.

I have days where I become deeply pensive. I cannot describe in great detail what this feels like or why it happens. I have learned to accept that it is one of those days, and I live accordingly. What happens on those days probably is not unique to me, I am sure plenty of you have experienced the same. It is as if every word become a stimulus to further thought, every sight becomes a stimulus to the senses. If left uncontrolled I can become worse than useless.

Yesterday was such a day. As I ran I kept seeing things that made me think of other things and fill my mind with thoughts. Later in the day I went out walking and allowed my senses to enjoy the experience. It was a wonderful calm day as I walked along the beach; the waves were very gentle as they caressed the sand. I sat for a moment to enjoy the experience. I sat in the shade of a tree whose leaves were turning from green to gold with the many different colours of autumn. As I looked up I saw its marvellous branches reaching up to touch the sky. For that moment there could be nothing more beautiful. There were of course other beauties still to be savoured and enjoyed but for that moment that was all I needed to be at peace.

As I sat I was reminded of the story of the old gnarled tree.

The wise man was walking with a carpenter. As the spoke together they walked along a pleasant country trail. As they walked they came upon a marvellous tree under which were many horses standing in its shade. The carpenter looked at it amazed by its size and spread. He drew closer and looked at it in more detail. He then said that the upper branches were too gnarled to be of any use, the trunk was too soft and the wood too pitted to be of any use. He then declared the tree useless for anything. “This is why the tree has grown to such a height; it is not use for anything.”

The wise man stood for a moment; he then walked over to the base of the tree and joined the horses under its shade. He found a flat stone and sat down. “Yes,” he declared, “An ideal spot for a guru to sit and contemplate.

There is no such thing as something that is totally useless. There may indeed be things of no use to one yet of much use to another. The secret is in finding its use. When its use is discovered it beauty is revealed.

Such is the way of the Tao.

This blog is linked to my other.  Can I Tempt You

Thursday, 14 October 2010

A Kindness Repaid

 My morning run does so much more for me that get me fit and help to lose the excess weight. It also allows me to recover the steps of my youth. As I tread the lanes and paths I remember the times I tread them as a youth and more importantly the people who were with me. Now I am not one to dwell in the past but I do find it rewarding to remember some of the events and the lessons learned.

Regular readers of this blog are aware that I spent a lot of my youth walking with my father. It seemed we walked for miles, in reality it was not so far. I can now cover what I thought was a long walk in a very short time once the trainers are on and the legs are moving.

Today I remembered an incident that has travelled with me for the rest of my life. A friend and I one day decided to go on a walk our two selves. We set off flowing in the footsteps of one of the walks done with my father. It seemed to take so much longer without him. Maybe because we stopped to do things he might not have allowed us to do. Soon we were out in the country. We came across a row of farm cottages. By this time we were feeling tired and thirsty so we knocked on the door and asked for a drink. The old lady invited us in and gave us a glass of fruit juice and a biscuit, a real treat. She also gently lectured us about being so far away from home without having told our parents. We promised her in future we would do just that, and we did as during the course of that summer we visited her often. We learned many things from her and how I wish I had been wise enough to tell her how good it was to have her as a friend.

This reminded me of another true but similar story.

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.

Instead of a meal, he asked for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry and so she brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, "How much do I owe you?"

"You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness." He said, "Then I thank you from my heart." As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strengthened also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Years later, that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.

Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, he went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor's gown, he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day, he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested from the business office to pass the final billing to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge, and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She read these words:



Dr. Howard Kelly."

It is amazing how small little acts of kindness can imprint on the lives of people. I hope some day someone will remember me doing something that helped form good intentions in their lives. I would feel that my life had not been meaningless.

So day by day I look to see if I can do such small acts of kindness. Will you join me?

Such is the way of Tao.

This blog is linked to my other. Dog 4

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

When Reality Hits you In the Face

I had a really weird experience as I ran one morning recently. I was running along a road I had run so many times since returning to this part of the world. I had never thought about it before today but I remembered when I was a young man I had gone out with a girl who lived on that very road. We had been going out on dates for a fair length of time and if truth were to be told there was almost an acceptance that we were one day going to be a couple.

The big day came, as they did in those days, when I was invited to meet the parents. Things went well at first. I had made a very special effort to look my best. Now my best was not for most the norm. I had long hair even in those days. I also knew that I had some strong opinions that would probably be best to keep to myself. I did my very best. I left the home of the girl that night feeling that things had gone very well considering.

The next day reality hit me in the face. The girl told me her father had said that he thought she could do a lot better than me. He had higher expectation than to have his daughter marry a butcher. I did try to explain that I had no intention of staying that all my life but it was too late. The relationship just fizzled out.

It is strange how things turn out is it not. Sadly that girl went on to get married to a husband who had a tendency to violence and the marriage did not last. The last I saw of her she was not at all a happy person and life was not being kind to her.

For me on the other hand it was one of the many spurs that made me look at just what I was doing with my life. When reality hits it certainly makes you think.

I wonder what happened to the lad in the tale I hope does not offend but starts your day with a smile.

Like me he had a girl who he was very fond of and she was very fond of him. She told him that there were two things she very much wanted him to do for her. The first was that she wanted him to come to her home and meet her parents over dinner. The second was she wanted him after the dinner to take her somewhere nice and make love with her.

Now here was a young man faced with a real trial but he was determined to do his very best because he cared deeply for the girl.

His first task was to learn all he could about table manners and good practices. He read about how to use the cutlery properly and what to say and not to say.

The second thing he needed to find out about was making love and safe sex, who better to help him than the pharmacist. He went to the pharmacy and asked to speak privately with the male pharmacist. He explained the situation saying that this would be his first ever experience and he wanted it to be done correctly and well. The pharmacist spent a good hour telling him all that he needed to know. He then asked him how many condoms he wanted. He explained they could be purchased in packs of three, five or the family pack of ten. He chose the last, the family pack.
That night he arrived at the home of his girl. She answered the door and ushered him into the dinning room where the parents were sitting at table. He immediately offered to say grace, one of things he had read about.

He bowed his head. He stood for what seemed like ages. Eventually the girl whispered to him, “I did not know you were so religious.”

He replied, “I did not know your father was a pharmacist.”

I hope this does not offend anybody but it was a story that made me laugh especially considering the recent thoughts I had remembered on a morning run.

I hope you have a wonderful day.

This blog is linked to my other  Dog3

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Losing Sight Of The Goal.

I seem to have caused a lot of misunderstanding yesterday for which I am very sorry. Unfortunately because I had visitors I was unable to see that I had made the error and put it right. I therefore do the only thing I can apologise and try to explain and put it right now.

Yesterday I spent a fair portion of the day cooking an Indian meal for my friends. I know jerry is interested in food again so a brief rundown. I cooked Chicken Dhal and Vegetarian Dhal. I also made a variety of pakora and spring rolls with duck and of course some Naan Breads.

Needless to say I ate more than normal and I had a large glass of ale to help it all over. Now I do not get at all worried about that in terms of calories. This morning I got up early and set out to run with the goal of adding an extra two miles to the route. Simple and with the goal in mind I had a target to aim for. I have all my life worked on the basis of setting goals and then striving to achieve them.

Most of the goals I have set my self I have managed to achieve through determination and hard work. It just seemed that recently I had kind of lost sight of the goals and they were appearing and disappearing in a fog.

There is a lovely true story of a long distance swimmer.

Florence Chadwick was the first woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. Now, at age 34, her goal was to become the first woman to swim from Catalina Island to the California coast.

When she looked ahead, she saw nothing but a solid wall of fog. Her body was numb. She had been swimming for nearly sixteen hours.

On that Fourth of July morning in 1952, the sea was like an ice bath and the fog was so dense she could hardly see her support boats. Sharks cruised toward her lone figure, only to be driven away by rifle shots. Against the frigid grip of the sea, she struggled on - hour after hour - while millions watched on national television.

Alongside Florence in one of the boats, her mother and her trainer offered encouragement. They told her it wasn't much farther. But all she could see was fog. They urged her not to quit. She never had . . . until then. With only a half mile to go, she asked to be pulled out.

Still thawing her chilled body several hours later, she told a reporter, "Look, I'm not excusing myself, but if I could have seen land I might have made it." It was not fatigue or even the cold water that defeated her. It was the fog. She was unable to see her goal.

Two months later, she tried again. This time, despite the same dense fog, she swam with her faith intact and her goal clearly pictured in her mind. She knew that somewhere behind that fog was land and this time she made it! Florence Chadwick became the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel, eclipsing the men's record by two hours!

I have a goal to keep these blogs going, even if just for myself and the mental energy it creates for me. I have a goal one day to paint something special. I also have this new goal of never again allowing myself to become unfit and overweight.

The trouble is I have never before worked with so many goals at the same time. MY friends are laughing at me because they see me running around like a headless chicken trying to clear the fog.

So Susan you are right. But I will not give up any of the things I am going to create a proper calendar and set myself more achievable goals for a week at a time.

More of that on my other blog.

Have a great day.

This blog is linked to my other.Textured Sunflowers

Monday, 11 October 2010

How Wrong Can We Be?

I have always had a thing about doing things that I thought were a waste of time. I do not know where this came from, possibly my mother always telling me I could do better. The idea that some things were a waste of time, very often lead to some bizarre behaviour. For example I could never understand why every day people spent so much time smoothing the sheets on the bed and shaking out all the covers and making the bed all neat and tidy, after all I was only going to get back into at night and as soon as I did that all that good work would be wasted.

Then there was the big question about ironing clothes. Why would you waste time ironing clothes that nobody was going to see? So when it came to ironing a shirt, the collars and the cuffs and possibly a bit of the front was all that was needed, so my thinking went.

My mother always had a thing about not only clean underwear but well ironed underwear. When asked about it she would ask me, “What if you have an accident?” Yes, so I am lying in the street blood is flowing from the wound in my head, the paramedic arrives, and my first thought is to tell him I am sorry I did not iron my boxers that morning.

Now I could go on and on with tales of some of the crazy things that I found unimportant that have later proven not to be the case. Sadly the one about making the bed has meant that now no matter how hard I try I never can get it as good as my wife or even my son.

I remember my first day at school. It came to the morning interval and I headed home. I had been there long enough and what I had done had all seemed so much less important than what I could have been doing.

A couple of days ago I was beginning to think that writing this blog was a bit of a waste of time. The time I sat before the computer each morning must surely be time that could be put to better use. Then I have a day of comments like yesterday with Sharon telling me she often notes down what I write and Katherine telling me that my blog helps her everyday. I know she was exaggerating but it was good of her to say it.

Let me go back to that shirt I was talking about, but it could just as easily be a blouse. have you ever ended up buttoning it up the wrong way? You know what I mean you miss the first buttonhole and get the second one and so it goes on down to the last. When you have finished you look a real mess.

For me the top button is making sure that I do the things I can to make others have a better day, if I get that button right it is amazing how all the buttons for that day fall into place. It seems that writing this blog is maybe one of those buttons that I need to make sure I get right.

Today I am getting a visit from friends I met in France about five years ago. A casual conversation on a caravan site that has led to a lasting friendship.

It is right that we should not waste the precious time we have been given but lets make sure we get the top button right.

This is the way of Tao.

Thank you all once again for your continuing comments and support. OH and Sharon I had read that post about the little book you keep I feel so honoured to be included in it.

This blog is linked to my other.  The Jazz Player

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Anger is Best Kept in Its Place.

Do you ever have those days when things just go wrong and you begin to feel inner anger building up inside you. I get those days now and again and I always feel the same way when they happen. I feel exasperated and frustrated, fortunately seldom at the person who made me feel that way in the first instant but at myself, because it is a sign that the old me has bubbled back to the surface. Fortunately from years of living with the old me I have managed to work out a number of ways to re-inter the old me where he belongs.

Yesterday was one of those days, a couple of things happened in fast succession and there I was looking at the old me. Today I can laugh at it, thank goodness.

I did apologise that some of you may have heard yesterday’s tales before and it seems I was right to. Taking that into account can I be foolhardy and share another with you today about the thought of anger. (On which as I have said I am an expert.)

There was a farmer who grew watermelons. He was doing pretty well, but he was disturbed by some local kids who would sneak into his watermelon patch at night and eat his watermelons. After some careful thought, he came up with a clever idea that he thought would scare the kids away for sure. He made up a sign and posted it in the field.

The next day, the kids show up and they saw the sign which read: "Warning! One of the watermelons in this field has been injected with cyanide."

The kids run off, made up their own sign and posted it next to the farmer’s sign. When the farmer returned, he surveyed the field. He noticed that no watermelons are missing, but the sign next to his read:

"Now there are two!!!"

Sometimes it is better to think than it is to react.

I cannot remember who it was that said it but whomever it was made a wise saying when they said, "People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing."

It is also very true that if you allow a person to make you angry then all you have done is handed control to that person.

it was my father, who one day when I was so full of anger he could see it, took me aside and told me, "If you let others dictate how you feel, you are going to be miserable."

In the end, after a very bad start I had a marvellous day with my family. I ran, we discussed and shared events and then I walked in the woods as the daylight drew to a close. The sun had set on what could so easily have been a different kind of day.

So for all those in the past who took the time to tell me about anger I say thank you.

This Blog is linked to my other.  Sunflowers

Saturday, 9 October 2010

It Is Time to Relax and Laugh.

Looking back over the last week I have become aware of how serious I have been this week. Maybe it has been circumstances; maybe it has just been me trying too hard to get back to where I was. A fellow blogger has a blog every Friday that is light hearted and it is always fun to read it. Today maybe I need to step back and see if I can see the wood, it often gets lost in the trees.

Yesterday I was asking my son how my daughter in law was getting on teaching in her new school. He laughed and told me some of the things that had happened in her first few weeks there. It all sounded so familiar. It is just a fact that students test out new teachers. They want to test the boundaries, to see how far than can push before the expected explosion comes. It is indeed a testing time and a time when it is important for the students and the teacher to get to know each other and more importantly to trust each other.

It is also a time when some of the strangest answers and performances come the way of the teacher. When I look back over my years in front of students how I so often wish I had recorded all those events. The hours I could have spent reflecting on them and having a laugh.

Fortunately some teachers did and still do keep such records. So for a nice easy start to Saturday I share one or two with you today.

TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America.

MARIA: Here it is.

TEACHER: Correct. Now class, who discovered America?

CLASS: Maria.

TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?

JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables.

TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell 'crocodile?'


TEACHER: No, that's wrong

GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.

TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?


TEACHER: What are you talking about?

DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.

TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago.

TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it. Now, Louis, do you know why his father didn't punish him?

LOUIS: Because George still had the ax in his hand.

TEACHER: Now, Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?

SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.

TEACHER: Clyde, your composition on 'My Dog' is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?

CLYDE: No, teacher, it's the same dog.

TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?

HAROLD: A teacher.

Out of the mouths of children, often come great word of wisdom.

Have a great Saturday

This blog is linked to my other where I continue with the dog Dog 2

Friday, 8 October 2010

The Judgement But Not Of Solomon.

 For many years it was my privilege to sit as a judge in the “District Court”, now in Scotland called the “Justice of the Peace Court.” Now obviously that job entailed my not discussing particular cases or making statement out with the court that I had not made in the court. I sat on many benches and saw a large variety of people from a variety of backgrounds.

There were many times that I genuinely felt sorry for the person standing before me. It often seemed obvious that circumstances had brought them to where they now stood and they sadly regretted what had happened. It was often clear to me that the appearance in court was punishment enough, the person would not be back standing before me.

There were other times when I felt at a complete loss. It seemed no matter what I did the person before me would be back before me or another judge in the not too distant future. The system had failed them, and me, but more importantly society.

I often wished I had the mind of Solomon and the power to impose such justice.

One of my fellow bloggers is off to Savannah, she said it was a beautiful place full of wonderful metalwork that Jerry would love to see and create. I thought I would take the time to look it up. I googled the name and came up with some interesting things. As I searched deeper and further I came across an interesting article from the local newspaper. I really just had to share it with you. I apologise tot those who may have read it before, I am not sure how widespread it is.

As I read it I thought, here is one person who just might reconsider his actions. I print it as I found it.

To the Guy Who Tried to Mug Me In Downtown Savannah night before last.

Date: 2010-05-27, 1 :43 a.m. E.S.T.

I was the guy wearing the black Burberry jacket that you demanded that I hand over, shortly after you pulled the knife on me and my girlfriend, threatening our lives. You also asked for my girlfriend's purse and earrings. I can only hope that you somehow come across this rather important message.

First, I'd like to apologize for your embarrassment; I didn't expect you to actually crap in your pants when I drew my pistol after you took my jacket. The evening was not that cold, and I was wearing the jacket for a reason. My girlfriend had just bought me that Kimber Model 1911 .45 ACP pistol for my birthday, and we had picked up a shoulder holster for it that very evening. Obviously you agree that it is a very intimidating weapon when pointed at your head... isn't it?!

I know it probably wasn't fun walking back to wherever you'd come from with that brown sludge in your pants. I'm sure it was even worse walking bare-footed since I made you leave your shoes, cell phone, and wallet with me. [That prevented you from calling or running to your buddies to come help mug us again.]

After I called your mother or "Momma" as you had her listed in your cell, I explained the entire episode of what you'd done. Then I went and filled up my gas tank as well as those of four other people in the gas station, -- on your credit card. The guy with the big motor home took 150 gallons and was extremely grateful!

I gave your shoes to a homeless guy outside Vinnie Van Go Go's, along with all the cash in your wallet. [That made his day!]

I then threw your wallet into the big pink "pimp mobile" that was parked at the curb... after I broke the windshield and side window and keyed the entire driver's side of the car.

Later, I called a bunch of phone sex numbers from your cell phone. Ma Bell just now shut down the line, although I only used the phone for a little over a day now, so what's going on with that? Earlier, I managed to get in two threatening phone calls to the DA's office and one to the FBI, while mentioning President Obama as my possible target.

The FBI guy seemed really intense and we had a nice long chat (I guess while he traced your number etc.).

In a way, perhaps I should apologize for not killing you. But I feel this type of retribution is a far more appropriate punishment for your threatened crime. I wish you well as you try to sort through some of these rather immediate pressing issues, and can only hope that you have the opportunity to reflect upon, and perhaps reconsider, the career path you've chosen to pursue in life. Remember, next time you might not be so lucky. Have a good day!

Thoughtfully yours,


I know as a judge I should not be laughing as I read this again but I have to admit I am. I hope you have a chuckle also. Have a good day and a great weekend.

This blog is linked to my other.  Not Just Any Dog

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Laziness is Just Resting Before You Are Tired.

 I awoke in a cold sweat, I was in the middle of a terrible dream, a recurring nightmare. I remember when I decided to get myself into university, even though I had left school with no qualifications. I managed it and then the real work began. In my first year on the course I had to get Hebrew and Ancient Greek up to higher level. Now for somebody with no language skills that was frightening. So all those years later I still from time to time wake up in fear that I may not pass that examination, even although I in fact did.

It was hard work and it has obviously had its toll. Would I do it all again? Yes I would, without a shadow of doubt.

Yesterday I saw two things that made my heart heavy. Not far from me lives a lovely family. The children each day set off to walk to school at a brisk and impressive pace. The journey is just over a mile, but I am sure by the time they got there they were awake and ready for a day of learning. The eldest child has become age to drive, passed the test and got a car. She now drives to school taking her younger brother with her. I leave you to ask if this is progress.

The second thing at first made me laugh, but on reflection was really even worse. I was out having a pre dinner walk. A car drew up at the gate of a house on the road where I was walking. The driver blew the horn twice. As I passed the car the window was rolled down to allow the driver to discard her cigarette butt. I heard her say to her friend on her cell phone, “I am out at the gate waiting for you.” Now before you think the gate was a long way from the door of the house let me tell you it was no more than 20 metres.

Having seen what the lack of exercise can do I find it sad that the most familiar smell for so many young people today is the smell f the petrol station.

Reminds me of the tale of the professor who handed out the end of term examinations. At the end of the allotted period he gathered them in. On one of the examination papers he noticed a $100 note attached with a note saying, “A dollar a point.” On the day he handed back the papers he handed out that particular students work with an envelope containing $64 dollars change and the awarded mark 36. The note also said you only get what you worked for here.

There is a beautiful Chinese proverb that says, “Man stand for long time with mouth open before roast duck fly in."

Now before anybody accuses me of being on my soapbox accusing the young of sloth, let me assure you I am not. I read the other day that the trend for longer life is slowing down as the activity of people slows down. I just find that so sad when life is such a beautiful thing and we should want to live it to its full for as long as we can.

So let me end I hope with a smile, and a friendly dig at my own age group.

A visitor said to her hostess, "What a beautiful vase. What's in it?"

"My husband's ashes," she replied.

The visitor said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know he had died."

"He hasn't died. He's just too lazy to find an ashtray."

For every person on the ladder of success there are twenty waiting for the elevator.

I hope you have a lovely and a fruitful day, and I know all who will read this will do just that.

This blog is linked to my other blog.  Hands That Can Do It

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Those Who Serve Often Go Unnoticed.

I was walking along a really rough boulder strewn track. It was wet, having rained heavy most of the night and still it was raining. Parts of the path was thick with mud. I was well prepared, I had run this very track earlier in the day and so I was prepared. Coming towards me was a man carrying a heavy bundle of sticks. Each stick had a small flag attached to it. Every so often he would stop and secure the flag to a spot at the side of the track. He was wet, cold and covered in mud. We spoke and he told me that the next day there was to be a cross country race and that he was out marking out the route.

The next day the race took place. The runners set off at a great pace and from start to finish they followed the flags. At the finish line of the race people gathered to welcome home the runners, cheering them over the finish line. Standing at the back of the crowd clapping was the man I had watched the day before. I wandered over and said to him that I thought he had done a great job the day before. The race had gone smoothly because he, without thought of thanks had done his bit and prepared the route.

I remembered the story of the young boy and the Knickerbocker Glory, This was a large ice cream with fruit. A 10 year-old boy entered an ice cream parlour and sat at a table. A waitress came over to serve him ( do you remember the days when service was the name of the game?). “How much is an kickerbocker glory?” he asked. “5shillings” replied the waitress. ( This was in the time when that would be five weeks pocket money.)

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

“Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. “Three shillings” she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.

When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two shillings. You see, he couldn’t have the knickerbocker glory, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip, and he wanted to do things right. Acknowledging the service was part of the way things were.

We have lost the art, to a great extent, of appreciating things done for us. Day in and day out the little acts of kindness go unnoticed. Because they do they also get less and less, and we all lose out in the end.

Each act of kindness acknowledged will lead to another one tomorrow.

This is the way of the Tao.

This blog is linked to my other. A Day That Only Got Worse

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Why Do Some People Always Complain?

Today I have added two pictures to this blog of a beautiful little inn I came across when on holiday. It was at the end of a long and fairly arduous walk so it probably look and felt more comforting that it was in reality. The ale I had was probably not any better than many others I have tasted over the years but it did seem to hit all the proper spots, and bring a much needed feeling of wellbeing.

Yes I did still manage the odd visit to a little local hostelry even though my mission was to lose weight and get fit.

The one thing that spoiled the place was not the hard stone floor, it was not the somewhat smoky log fire, it was, in fact, having to listen to the loud conversations of two people who did nothing but notice all the faults of everybody and everything.

As I walked the rest of my journey home I thought of the story of the couple who pulled into a petrol pump station, I think some of you may call it a gas station. The story is as follows.

After the pleasant and helpful attendant had filled the petrol tank, she very kindly wiped and washed the windshield. When she finished, the driver stuck his head out the window and said, "It's still dirty. Wash it again."

"Yes, sir," the attendant replied. After she cleaned it a second time, the driver said, "Don't you know how to wash a windshield? It's still filthy. Now do it again!"

The attendant scrubbed the windshield a third time, carefully looking for any messy spots she might have missed. By now the driver was fuming. "I can't believe you are so incompetent that you can't even do a simple job like cleaning a windshield! I'm going to report you to your boss!" he had of course forgotten that the attendant was not in fact obliged to wash it.

His wife, who up till that point had remained calm and silent, reached over and removed his glasses. She wiped them clean with a tissue, and then put them back on his face.

It was amazing how clean the windshield was!

Sadly there are so many speck inspectors in the world, ready to criticise everybody and everything. As I looked at the two sitting in that lovely little bar I wondered how many skeletons lurked in their cupboards.

Critical people always finds things wrong with others because they are looking through the dirty glasses of their hearts.

When our love for others decreases then our criticism of others can only increase. When our love of others increases our criticism will in turn decrease.

When we cherish the love offered strangely we have so much more to offer.

Now would it not be lovely if we could all bloggers together meet in this little inn for a chat and sharing session.

This is the way of the Tao. The Moron of the Glen.

Monday, 4 October 2010

What Every Woman Wants.

It was a raining wet and windy day and I was beginning to wish I had stayed in bed with my book. Then two things happened that changed the whole day. As I ran up a muddy track towards the lake a farmer approached in his equally muddy defender truck. He stopped and rolled down his window, “Good morning, I did not know Jimmy Saville had a younger brother.” Now for those who do no know Jimmy Saville was a DJ famous in the 60s. He was also known as an inspiration to so many people, taking part in marathon running well into his late sixties, and even now still turns up to encourage others. I felt I had been paid a compliment indeed.

The second thing that happened was the sight of the lake. It looked magical in the rain. As I ran along the rough track at its side I could imagine the lady of the lake reaching her hand into the air with Excalibur.

I began to muse over that story of loyalty and love. Now before I tell you the tale let me emphasise I am not being at all sexist in my telling of the tale.

The tale is this.

The young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighbouring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would face death.

The question he had to answer? What do women really want?

Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.

He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone: the princess, the priests, the wise men, Merlin and even the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Many people advised him to consult the old witch, for only she would have the answer. But the price would be high; as the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.

The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no choice but to talk to the witch, she agreed to answer the question, but he would have to agree to her price first. The old witch wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend! Young Arthur was horrified. She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, made obscene noise. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature in all his life.

He refused to force his friend to marry her and endure such a terrible burden; but Lancelot, learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur. He said nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table.

So a wedding was proclaimed and the witch answered Arthur's question thus:

What a woman really wants, is to be in charge of her own life! Everyone in the kingdom instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared. And so it was, the neighbouring monarch granted Arthur his freedom and Lancelot and the witch had a wonderful wedding.

The honeymoon hour approached and Lancelot, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. But, what a sight awaited him. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen stood before him. The astounded Lancelot asked what had happened

The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she appeared as a witch, she would henceforth, be her horrible deformed self only half the time and the beautiful maiden the other half. Which would he prefer? Beautiful during the day, or beautiful during the night?

Lancelot pondered the predicament. During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch? Or, would he prefer having a hideous witch during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to share wondrous intimate moments?

Noble Lancelot said that he would allow HER to make the choice herself. Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.

There is nothing greater than having a friend who has chosen to be your friend with no persuasion on your part.

Such is the way of the Tao.

This blog is linked to my other. Where Do I Begin?

Sunday, 3 October 2010

There Are Some Things You Just Have To Do

 I have returned from my week in the mountains. I am sorry that this blog is the first for sometime. I was able to get an internet connection but it was so slow that posting a blog would have taken so long. I did manage to read some of your blogs but posting comments was again a long and laborious task.

I promise not to bore you with all the exploits of running, at least one blogger has told me not to dare. I would though like to post one blog to put the whole week into a context and thank you my blogging friends.

Some time ago I posted a picture of me running in a marathon. Susan made a comment that day about not imagining me looking like that. I really should have been honest and admitted that at that point of time I was not. I had before me a picture of me standing in a little Spanish village, looking a long way from that picture. Another blogger had been watching me paint on webcam and commented on my ever growing tummy.

When I stood on the scale it told the same story. I was also using in halers to help my breathing; using them to such an extent my doctor was getting concerned.

So a challenge was required and I had to get back to that picture Susan commented on. The challenge for me was to run and get my weight down to a point where I could consider running up mountains again.

So here we are. I have run my mountains. I have got my weight back to where it should be 34 lbs less than it was. I am running without the aid of an inhaler and considering the maps of mountains once again.

I need to thank you all who gave me the encouragement and incentive to get here. I think I am back to that picture if not maybe even fitter.

I have put both of the pictures on this blog. This was not an easy blog for me and now I will get back to my normal blogs as of tomorrow.

Now as one or two of you have been telling me it is time to get back to the art. I will.  More of that on my other blog.Pencil Factory