General

Now I get it

 I love weather and watching the seasons and the varying weather events that happen. As you can imagine, I’ve watched the arrival of the remnants of hurricane Katia with some interest.

It’s been pretty blustery all day today and I’ve gone from wanting to be outside non stop experiencing it to slightly worried about damage to trees and property. Mostly wanting to stand outside and enjoy it, which is a little difficult when you are trying to stir melting ingredients for flapjack!

It was all change on the work front again today. A few weeks age I was sent to help with sickness cover in one place and then a bit suddenly they decided everything was ok (after I’d been there a few weeks) and that someone else might need me more. It was a little unsettling but it’s turned out ok. The people I worked with on tuesday now get the pleasure of me on monday and the people I work with on thursday now also get me on tuesday. Get your head round that!

I am still very much loving the work and the people I work with and for. I still wish I could have done this years ago and missed out some of the pain of the last few years, but I know that I can’t see the bigger picture and I have to deal with what comes be it good or bad.

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Categories: Food, General, observations | Leave a comment

Who knew?

This is about the time of year that I like to sit back and reflect on how my year has gone, what has happened and how I have changed.

I’m completely stunned by this year. So much has happened, and none of it has been what I expected this time last year. This time last year I was in the throes of baking a Christmas cake and cycling through ice and going off to spend ten days with Dan. I had a job that was coming to an end; and I was moving house, sorting a divorce and marrying the love of my life.

Less than a month after this year began the whole direction of my life changed. Dan passed away suddenly and quite unexpectedly (for me at least it was unexpected). I then had to deal with the fact that my job was still coming to an end and that the  home move I had planned would no longer happen, even though I knew I still wanted to move house, I had no idea where to or what on earth I would do about a job after that. Grief rips your legs from under you, no matter how strong you are. One of the pillars of my life was gone and I had to find a way to go on again. I had no real idea what I wanted to do, and only worked out where I wanted to live after a close family friend reminded me of plans that had started forming two years ago.

Trying to work and pack at the same time was hard. I was losing my job through no fault of my own and the home I had planned to move in to just wasn’t feasible any more (too far from mum and dad and Dan wasn’t there any more). Some of the people at work understood what was going on and were incredibly supportive of me. I will never forget those heartbreaking last weeks of being looked after by people that I might not meet up with again.

Things went from looking bleak to looking very bad indeed. Thrown in with the trials of moving into a new flat and dealing with all the stuff that comes with it (and lying on the living room floor crying on more than one occasion) came the deaths of my mother’s parents. More funerals, more loss, more grief.

Through all of this I was still looking for work. The queue at the Job Centre was out of the door during the first few weeks, and Wednesday morning was always a grim time, knowing that in spite of looking I hadn’t found the kind of work I knew I could do and would enjoy.

Finally, toward the end of summer I saw an advert for the kind of work I wanted, no training required as it would be given. Not too far from town, so I could cycle in. The pay was less than I had taken before but I expected that, it’s a different sector to the one I had been in. My CV got me an interview. That’s what CV’s are for, to get you in the door. The interview went well, and the location was pretty. An old building in a village, a bit of a dream for me.

So life seems to be improving again for me. I have a job I enjoy, I have a nice flat near the canal (must go down there soon, bet there are some lovely photos waiting to be taken!) I’m nearer my family than I have been for years and I’m able to attend Church on a reasonably regular basis, if not always to every event that I’d like to get to!

Who knew that so much could happen in a single year and that I would still be standing at the end of that year?

How do you say thank you when people have kept you going through all this? The words don’t seem enough; but if you recognise yourself in any of this know that I’ll never forget your kindness toward me.

Have a great Christmas everyone: I’ll be working so don’t try to ring!

Categories: Beginning, General, Life, observations | 1 Comment

Just living day to day

It may not sound like much, but just living day to day is all I can do right now, sometimes getting through the next five minutes is a monumental task. The strangest things make me cry.

This morning I found an old patch that Dan used to wear to help his heart. It had been discarded by one of us, possibly the first time he came over to spend a weekend. I just lay in bed and sobbed when I saw it.

Some things have been easy to sort out, and don’t bother me, and then I’ll be poleaxed by something that just seems of no consequence at all. Things that in the beginning looked to be easy to do and totally natural have proved to be almost impossible to do.

I’m learning that there are people all around me who have an amazing capacity to listen and just be there, people who have seen grief in a way I pray I’ll never experience myself.  I’m so grateful that those people are in my life and I’m really grateful that they bore with me whinging about petty things before this happened. I have anchors in a sea where frequently I feel alone and drifting. Arms that hug me when I feel blackest, even when those arms are typed words on MSN or Facebook or Ivillage UK.

Work are being wonderful to me, allowing me breaks when I need them and ears if I just need to talk. I’ve talked enough lately to lose my voice more than once, but it does seem to get me through.

I’m still tired, and  I’m still cold. That’s partly the strain of dealing with life, partly that while I am eating it’s not really the medically correct diet I usually try and achieve and finally, my heating’s been broken on and off for the last few weeks. My landlord comes out to fix it if I tell him, but I just got so tired of calling people and asking for help, it was easier to get a duvet off the bed and wrap up and go to sleep. (He came out with a part and fixed it yesterday while I was at work and it seems to have worked – the house is 18-19C, even though I’m really cold for whatever reason. Trust me when I say that’s wa

That’s enough for now, take care.

Categories: Dan, Food, General, Life, observations | 1 Comment

The hardest thing about cold weather

I have discovered that the hardest thing about cold weather is that my bike starts to malfunction.

It’s as though it really is protesting being dragged out and starts to play at being a stationary exercise bike – not the best plan if I’m already late for work, as you can imagine!

It is tough though, the colder it is, the farther I have to walk to get to work, and the greater nasty mood I find myself having to calm down from when I get there or get home again.

Not a long post today, but I needed to share that!

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Happy Christmas one and all

I don’t have much to say, but Happy Christmas to Everyone and a blessed New Year to come.

We are busily dealing with gifts and frightened cats but I wanted to wish everyone the very best today.

Much love
Rachel

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Nearly Time!

It’s nearly time! I’ve finished the Christmas cake off and baked off the mincepies.

I’ve been to Debenhams and bought a dress and shoes and worn them to the very last works Christmas do here (and fallen down the stairs!)

I’ve got a packing list of everything I’ll need to take to Dan’s starting with the cats going through clothes and ending with my share of the food and wine.

I feel a bit flat but i’m tired and I think I might be getting a bug. Only it really doesn’t matter because I’ve only got three and a half days to work and then I’m off for almost two weeks!

Bring it on, and in case I forget to blog again before Christmas arrives, Happy Christmas to you all.

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The change is amazing

I’ve recovered from my post holiday blues it would seem, my energy level is right up today, so much so that not only is the washing done, but I’ve moved the living room around the way I wanted to months ago.

I am enjoying this, because this mood/energy level thing isn’t that stable. Sometimes it will be good for weeks on end, other times it’ll be up and down more often than the FTSE100!

On a slight change of tack, the Grand Prix in Japan today has left me slightly stunned. Yesterday the practise and qualifying was like a demolition derby, almost a case of “lets see how many times we can hit the wall” Three red flags, lots of yellows, bad weather, you name it. Today someone on Twitter asked was it the same track. I wondered if we had the same drivers. It was like watching a Conga dance; a couple of grazes, only one car in the wall and one safety car. No race steward investigation calls, nothing!

I think it found it dissappointing because I was awake at 4am to watch the race live from Japan and found it if anything a bit boring! Nevertheless, I enjoyed chatting online with a lot of other F1 devotees and making fun of some drivers who shall remain nameless.

Categories: General, Life, observations, Sport | 1 Comment

Saturday's adventures

I have a lot to report, so this may become several posts, but we shall see what happens.

Saturday morning was something of a nightmare. I was really tired and didn’t want to get up (the after effects of a late-night phone call) and so the morning got a really slow start.

I did remember to pack everything, thanks to a brainstorming session with a pen, paper and a great friend on skype. I left the house, got into town, dropped off my books at the library (two weeks late, eyewatering fine), did some shopping that I’ve been promising myself I’d do, went to the bus station – and relised that I’d not fed the cats. I’m not going to be home til mid afternoon monday at the earliest. This is not good at all. Found out that Lorraine was away for the weekend, so nothing for it but to go back home, feed them and get the next bus.

Finally reached my destination:- Marquee plus mum and dad and thousands of friends at about 5:30pm, 3 hours later than I wanted to. It annoyed me that I was so late, because this weekend was pretty important to me. Only 3 days ago Noel, a man we all looked up to, respected and admired passed away. I knew people would be feeling sore and lost, and my speciality is being able to see in someone’s face when they need a hug, so it really bothered me that I missed the first session of the bank holiday.

That said, the Saturday evening session was really good. There were very few tears. Individual people had moments of sadness as you would expect; but corporately, as a church, the mood was one of celebration of a mans life. Noel had always been unafraid to follow God’s word and challenge the status quo. He was never afraid to offend someone, if by that offence he pushed them away from something harmful, or a dangerous thought pattern, or laziness.

Throughout the weekend people paid tribute to him in their many and varied ways, telling stories that had the whole tent shouting with laughter or solemn for a moment. For a weekend when I was a little apprehensive of not being able to move for tearful people mourning en masse, it was a beautiful time.

The details of Noel’s funeral were announced, among which featured prominently the request from Noel himself, “no black tie, this is a celebration!” which is just such a Noel comment that I think it’s going to be one of the most colourful funerals in the history of Northampton! It is a standing room only event, which pretty much says how loved he was. The Jesus Centre in Northampton can hold approximately 2000 people in the main auditorium, and the expectation is that the auditoruim and all available overflow rooms will be completely full.

There was a video made by Trevor and Steve of their visit to Sierra Leone to several churches there who are part of the Multiply network. It was vey moving, seeing how these people live and function day to day, and there was great laughter when it was noted that Steve pumped up and gave to some of the children a new football – Steve gained a whole gang of 12 year old best mates!

Later in the evening, still on Saturday, a group of leaders from other Multiply affiliated churches were bought on stage, introduced and invited to speak for a few moments each. Some of these men lead chruches in places where it is illegal to be a christian, and their lives are in danger daily, but if anything, it makes them stronger. These men have no fear of what man can do. They would say that they fear more what God will say at the end.

When we finally got to the end of the evening and got back to Mum and Dads place I had the pleasaure of putting up my tent in the dark, which was an interesting experience, but it did mean a very peaceful night after supper was eaten and I’d gone out to sleep – until 5am when the dawn chorus started!

I think that’s all about Saturday, the rest of the weekend will follow soon!

Categories: General | 1 Comment

The failed toffee apple sauce that didn't really

I went to my parents on Friday to help prepare for the joint party for my dad and my brother, the first turned 60 and the second turned 18 last week.

I didn’t get the best of starts; I decided I wasn’t prepared to take a bus to town that would take 45 minutes while I could walk to town in about an hour, so I did, and I froze! I forgot just how cold the wind was going to be, and leather jacket, jeans and gloves notwithstanding, I got really really cold!

That said, I got the council tax paid and my books back to the library before buying the final gift (brother’s) and heading for the bus station – to miss the bus by five minutes. These busses go once an hour, so I had 55 minutes to kill, and the greengorcers I wanted to go to has closed down and become a nail bar, so that wasn’t much help either. I went into Iceland for a bit and got a cheesecake for the cooks to share (yes, cooks plural!) before we plunged into preparing for the party on Saturday. It didn’t use up much time though, and I was still shivering in the bus station waiting for the bus to come for a good twenty minutes.

Anyway. The bus came in on time, I climbed on, bag and baggage, paid for my ticket, kicked my overnight case up the bus since it had fallen over and the proceeded to donate the entire contents of my wallet to the bus floor. Being impatient I’d forgotten to rezip my wallet and so when I reached down to put my bags and case tidy by the seat, the wallet tipped over and everything went everywhere! Collected the change, huffed and puffed to myself – at myself, and settled down to listen to some music while admiring the countryside and the stormclouds whilst relatively protected from all of it. The rest of the journey wasn’t too bad, no missed connections, no scarey people climbing on (occupational hazard of using public transport, “the public” are perfectly entitled to use it no matter what they look or smell like).

Got off the bus in Daventry and marched into the nicely located Tesco to get the various bits and bobs needed for my contribution to the food. Interesting list, brown sugar, butter, lemons, lemon juice, basil, rosemary, mint, mangoes, chocolate topping. I have long learned never to assume people carry the same things in their pantry as you, so if something can’t be faked, buy it, or take it from your own pantry! Halfway round the fruit and veg in tesco, Mum rang to find out where I was and met me in there to sort out what I needed to get and what she needed to get. Paid for the stuff (nice store, customer service not bad either!) and climbed in the car for the final leg to the house.

Mum and I sat down for coffee with MG and K and shared out a sticky toffee cheesecake that blew all of our diets out of the window for the day, even as I promised that my mango dessert for tomorrow would repair all of that! We tidied away all our shopping and got dinner sorted, and then I plunged up to my elbows in making mango sorbet, which was ridiculously simple to do for such a nice tasting pudding, and it was fat free, gluten free and dairy free to boot, which meant it ticked all the diet boxes needed for the people we were feeding. Having got that in the freezer I started homemade lemonade (courtesy of Molly of Orangette while MG helped me get chocolate chip cookies going; again, courtesy of another one of Molly’s recipes. I have to say I was surprised how chocolatey they were when we got the dough finally mixed – and I now sport two plasters on my left thumb because of them!

On Saturday morning, sisters B and K arrived bearing good things in boxes and on trays and every female in sight joined the fray in the kitchen. K’s fiance C showed his face, kissed his girl, said hello, and departed to give male assistance outside in the cold with barbecues and chairs. Not all the men rushed to join that fray though, KS and NS stayed in to do things like make marinade for chicken and chop onions for burgers – as I understand it, since it’s for barbecuing; a manly form of cooking, this kind of prep is OK! We girls stuck to thinks like arranging salad on platters, baking off cookies, icing a monster birthday cake, straining and making up homemade lemonade, finishing various desserts and assembling virgin punch (lots of children, so no alcoholic drinks in the punch)

Brother S has massive amounts of imagination when it comes to gifts, and we were rolling around laughing as the birthday boys opened their many and wonderful gifts. He also has a cracking sense of humour, which probably helped with the gift buying a lot. Things like Dad’s favourite bottle of pop, cheese, a pineappple, ground coffee, number candles for D. To be honest I can’t remember all of them, but the whole experience was just great – “I had £X to spend and I finished up with 4p change at the end, how cool is that?” he said at the end. I got insense for the younger and ground coffee and a framed picture of a photo of my own for the older, less imaginative, and less bulky for all the journeys I’d made to get them to the right location!

Just after 1pm the grills got fired up, and not long after that everyone else arrived. It’s just as well that the house my parents live in is so big, KS and NS were grilling away and food had been announced so folks were going outside to get there burgers and chicken and stuff, when the heavens opened and everyone got drenched! Needless to say a group of people grabbed the food and ran for the kitchen, and the barbecue was continued from the top of the six ring stove! From that first sharp rain shower we got more rain and hail, so sixty-odd people continued the party within the ground floor of the house and we left the garden to freeze by itself. K’s salads got demolished, closely followed by B’s trifle, sticky toffee tart and my cookies and mango sorbet. Even the “failed” toffee apple sauce made by B was a hit, on cookies, sorbet and pretty much anything really!

When the eating slowed, we decided it was time for “The Cake”, and after various speeches and much laughter and posing like it was a wedding cake, the cake was cut twice. Dad cut vertical, D cut horizontal, and again there was a great deal of laughter.

For a “do” where no alcohol was served – Dad’s choice – it was very full of laughter, and I think I’ll remember this for a very long time, even without all the photos and this post.

There was a general air of mates meeting up and catching up and having a good laugh, right down to the dead-leg competition between the lads near the end – crazy amounts of laughter going on, and all in total good fun.

Going home was a little easier than coming, connections worked with me the whole time, although I had a grumpy passenger right in front of me on the bus who turned and stared at me every time I moved. I mean, those seats are not really designed for comfort and there’s no legroom if you’re more than 5’4″, and I’m considerably more than that, with a good proportion of it being leg! That aside, it was OK though, with just a chilly twenty minute wait for the final bus – no way was I going to walk it home – part of it taken up by telling a partly drunk homeless person that I wasn’t about to give him money, that if he wanted to eat I’d rather buy him food than give him money to use in possibly other ways.

All in all, it’s been a good weekend. There were down moments, but when it’s public like this I try not to share tham. I’d rather give people something a little more positive to read and not drag them down even farther than thay might already be.

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What's important

This week I finally had television hooked up in my house for the first time in three years. Having lived without it that long I wondered what I would do with it, how much time I would spend watching and how it would change me.

I’ve discovered some very interesting things. I’ve discovered that I can’t do without being up to date with the news at least twice a day, and if there’s nothing better on I’ll leave the news rolling. I’ve also discovered that while music channels are all very well, the programs I love best are the ones that show the goodness of man to his fellow man, inspiring everyone on to help and give hope to those without.

What’s important to me, I have discovered, is not knowing the latest weather, or who has been shot, or who has gone bankrupt. It’s knowing that there is still a spark of desire to give back hope, to help, to get things moving again.

Pay it forward. The idea of having had help, you give help to someone else who needs it, and then they do the same for someone else, rather than trying to repay the person who gave the help in the first place.

For those who really want to know what inspired this train of thought, it was Extreme Makeover Home Edition, originally made and broadcast by ABC. Helping people who couldn’t help themselves and inspiring other people to do the same. I really can’t think of a better thing to watch on a day when the week has left me limp and tired.

Giving is it’s own reward. It changes the giver as well as helping the givee.

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