Category Archives: Rejoice with me

Random occurrences of nice things

More Freecycle fun

Today I encountered this notice:

‘Wanted: white wooden baby changer’.

Well yes, I suppose if you had a white wooden baby you might want to change it for a more responsive one… (or even one of a different colour).

As you may have guessed, I am feeling somewhat better, after a weekend with a wonderful wedding (of someone called Will, as it happens), followed by my reading poems at a mental-health-themed cabaret (and being treated as a ‘famous guest’!), then the next day by a church lunch, a service in the soon-to-be-sold (and much to be lamented) London Mennonite Centre, and then a trip to the pub with various church friends (described by The Grouch as ‘Mum and Dad are having a bit of a jolly’ when he rang to let our son know we’d be late).

Gosh, that was a long sentence! That was to make up for the fact that I didn’t get back to my book today, but I assure you that I will tomorrow. Today I just did various admin and domestic tasks. This is considerably better than last week when I did almost nothing, every day.

PS I cried buckets at the wedding. Not sure this is entirely a good thing.


Today on the bus back from the sleep clinic appointment, I spied a large and flamboyant young woman who used to go to my son’s school. As well as being – shall we say, voluptuous – she has always dressed very eccentrically, in bold colours and with large and multiple hair accessories: big bows, big bobbly hair ties, and today even a miniature hat which I think is called a fascinator. Actually when I saw her at the school I had always assumed she had some learning difficulty which caused her to dress oddly.

Today, however, she was in the company of not only her mother (who is not flamboyant at all), but a distinctly hot boyfriend of Asian origin. They were snogging so enthusiastically on the seat in front of me that I didn’t have the guts to say, ‘Hello, you used to be at [name of school], didn’t you?’ Instead I just reflected that people do get the most unexpected partners, and that one should never judge by appearance. My mother comes out sometimes with a German proverb meaning ‘every pot finds a lid’. Which is patently untrue, or there wouldn’t be so many people (including myself for years) who are unwillingly single. But the scene before me did make me think of that saying. I just hope he’s being good to her – she can’t be more than 19 and I would hate to think of her getting exploited.

Meanwhile the book, which I restarted writing two days ago, is going swimmingly. I’m now more than halfway through chapter 3 (of 10-12, I hope) and really starting to enjoy the process of writing. I’ve rediscovered something I had forgotten: that writing makes me happy. At least it does when it’s going well…

Pub meetings et al

We had a parents’ inclusion group meeting last night, in the pub where the Kinks used to play. My minutes may have been somewhat affected by alcohol (champage, provided on her business by the group’s chair) and the difficulty of hearing anyone against the general pub chatter. It was however a pleasant occasion, with nibbles as well as drink to toast the departure of The Demon Headmaster.

I had hoped to report that I was no longer secretary of the group, having declared when I took it on that I would not do it beyond July. However in the absence of any volunteer to take over, we agreed that minute-taking and typing up would rotate round the group, and that I would continue to draw up agendas and send meeting reminders. Given the amount of flattery the group gave me to persuade me to stay on, I just had to cave in.

So today I was typing minutes again, but also, much to my own surprise, managed to get together three fairly presentable, if old, poems to send to the poetry competition which had miraculously extended its deadline so I could still enter. I also discovered that although it feels as if I haven’t written any poetry at all in the last five to seven years, there has in fact been no year in which I didn’t write at least one. Which is better than nothing. Nothing however to match 2003 when I wrote 35 – but then I was in love. Now I’m not.

Mea culpa

It has come to my notice that I haven’t written on this blog for some considerable time. I haven’t even reported on our Great American Trip. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. My only excuse is that the exhausting nature of that trip, especially the two day journey home, means that I have really only just recovered over a month later.

I have so many things to say that I don’t know where to start. So let’s start with my two most memorable US moments, which are both connected with dogs.

First, while in Goshen, Indiana, I visited the largest charity shop I have ever seen, inside a Mennonite enclave. They even had a pets’ corner. While looking at this I noticed a pack with the words ‘Sanitary Pads’ on it. ‘Well’, I thought, ‘it’s an unusual product to find in a charity shop, but at least they’re not used’. Only then did I realize these were actually sanitary supplies for female dogs in heat! Apparently these are available in the UK now as well – but probably not in charity shops.

Secondly, in Elkhart (which is next door to Goshen) we went to the renowned Prairie Street Mennonite Church, until recently pastored by the son of friends of ours, and now pastored by his cousin’s husband (who used to be the director of the London Mennonite Centre – are you still with me here? it’s like this with Mennos). During the ‘sharing time’, a Mennonite speciality, a woman got up and announced that her dog had been diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder, but that since going on Prozac he was much better. Only in America…

What to say about the rest of our trip? Well, destination by destination:

Chicago: very hot, very many skyscrapers, nice parks, lovely to see my former mentee and her hubby.

Goshen: very Mennonite, lovely house, lovely hosts, great dinner party at which we also saw Canadian friends who happened to be in Goshen/Elkhart at the same time as us – how’s that for synchronicity?

Elkhart: even lovelier house, more lovely hosts, great church, delightful trip to New Buffalo to walk by the lakeside (Lake Michigan, just like the sea but with no salt or tides).

Other highlights of mid-West: Das Dutchman Essenhaus where one of our friends works – biggest restaurant I’ve ever seen (and only Amish restaurant I have ever visited) ; MennoHof in Shipshewana, very interesting museum of Anabaptist history.

Akron, PA: pleasant accommodation in an Mennonite Central Committee guesthouse (where missionaries on leave live), great to catch up with v. old friends, lots of Amish experiences including dinner with an Amish family (very hot as no electricity means no aircon). Shame kid got ill so he missed Hershey Park theme park – well I got there without him and spent most of time minding a cute four year old who was a runner. It was also extremely hot, with very little shade, and hour-long queues at all the good rides, so maybe son wouldn’t have enjoyed it anyway.

Biggest mistake of trip: planning sleeper train back from Pennsylvania the night before we did overnight plane from Chicago. Got very little sleep on train and none at all on flight. Hence long recovery time. In taxi from Heathrow I was so tired I couldn’t sit still but fidgeted the whole way, and went straight to bed on arriving home, which is not what you are supposed to do when flying back from the US. Will plan better next time…

Overall, a very skewed view of the US as mostly geared to places where Mennonites live. But very interesting and I loved everything except the difficulty of getting any healthy food except when eating at friends’s houses. It’s true, everything is bigger in the US… other than the house prices which are incredibly cheap. Maybe we should buy a holiday home there?

Atlantic adventure

I’ve been and gone and done it! (actually i haven’t been and gone yet, but as a result of doing it I will be and go this summer). Yes folks, I have booked three flights with a well known carrier to the good old U S of A, and am in process of working out a complicated itinerary which enables me and my hardworking family to stay in four different places and visit (or, in USspeak, ‘visit with’) seven different pairs of friends who have in the past been on the staff of the London Mennonite Centre and part of our congregation. Indeed, we will be ‘Mennoniting our way’.

Not only that, but I have done the whole process (well, most of it, of which more later) online, grappling yesterday and today with multiple websites and dates and prices which sent my head into a total spin. I am still not out of the woods, since I need to book two ‘roomettes’ on an overnight train from Chicago to Pennsylvania, but can’t do that until I hear from the Pennsylvania friends as to whether the dates we have chosen suit them. By which time, the ‘roomettes’ may very probably be booked up. Incidentally, the Amtrak website assured me that the standard bedroom could accommodate three people at a push, but when I tried to book one, it kept telling me the room was too small for the number of travellers. Make your minds up, Amtrak!

Somehow, (she says, crossing everything crossable and uttering a silent prayer), in a couple of months’ time we will be literally winging (and I mean literally literally) our way across the Pond that divides us by a common language. Whoopee! Well actually I am too exhausted to shout Whoopee, having been awake half the night worrying about the trip, but I promise I’ll shout Whoopee when I’ve had some sleep.

Yay for me!

I finally did it! Yes, I matched Steve Tomkins’ score of 185 in Word Twist on Facebook, and am now joint first on my friends’ ladder. Oh frabjous day!

Secondly, is it just me, or does anyone else ever listen to Cream’s ‘Tales of Brave Ulysses’ and when it gets to the line ‘Her name is Aphrodite’, feel an uncontrollable urge to sing ‘And she wears a flannel nightie’? No? Just me, then.

Thirdly, the daily headache has shifted to the other side of my head. I am not sure this is an improvement.


In spite of not having woken up till 10.45 am (well, I was awake at 8.00 but failed to get up, and fell asleep again), I have spent a chunk of today tweaking the book outline I wrote the other week, and sent it to my publisher. This feels exciting! Of course in a recession she may well say, ‘Sorry, you aren’t selling well enough for us to publish another book by you’, but I will never know without trying. And if they say no to it, I can always try another publisher or try to get an agent. I’m feeling like a real writer again!

Pampered again

Yet again I overslept and left too little time to go swimming in between breakfast and lunch. However, I made it to the carers’ relaxation day in time for lunch (which, having had breakfast at 10.00, I didn’t really need) , followed by ‘healing’, from a lady who laid hands on my head for a long time and claimed she was giving me extra energy. I wasn’t entirely convinced, but it was quite pleasant anyway. I then had a face massage which was fine except when she slapped me on the chin rather hard and repeatedly. Apparently it helps with lymph drainage.

Was so relaxed after all this (it’s good when it stops) that I felt like going straight home, but I managed to get to the gym, have my swim and jacuzzi time, and get home minutes before my son. I am Superwoman!

Tomorrow is a regional conference of the National Autistic Society at which I’ve booked for a workshop which I’m sure seemed very relevant at the time, but the subject of which I’ve now entirely forgotten. Have to be at Baker Street at 9.30 which is a time of day I didn’t think existed on Saturdays.

Have just noticed that the word ‘time’ appears at least five times (six!) in this post – is my subconscious telling me something? Must be a side effect of being mistaken for a pensioner the other day.