Sunday, 28 August 2011

The Chief Litter Picker of Holy Trinity Church

The Badge!

Last week when I attended Mass with J, one of the parishioners noted with irritation that there was a large amount of litter on the field adjoining the church. We chatted for a bit about this when J piped up with "I'll help pick it up" and so off he went with one of the older ladies from the church armed with a rubbish bag and a litter picker/grabber device which Sr C had managed to find..
J and his new found friend returned some 15 minutes later with a bag full of rubbish to great praise and applause. J liked this praise and applause very much and decided to award himself the post of "Chief Litter Picker". Indeed J was so pleased with this title that he told everyone who entered the church and had time to listen that he had "a job at the church, I am the Chief Litter Picker" to great amusement and praise. When Fr B arrived he was also told by J that the church had a new employee - Fr B was suitably impressed and praised J for his enthusiasm. "Yes" said J, "I need to have a manager's badge".
So - this week J and his Daddy went into town where a badge was chosen with the words "Chief Litter Picker, Holy Trinity Church", this cost his Dad £10 - J's Dad was not impressed especially as I have a tendency to lose things!
So this week we went back to church, I have never seen J so eager to attend Mass in my life. There he was with his badge in pride of place eager to do his "work" and he didn't mind who knew it. Off he went with Nanny, a rubbish bag and the rubbish grabber to fill up another rubbish bag.
J wears his badge with pride.

Today we had Fr D on duty who was equally entertained by the church's new employee, especially when J returned once again with a full bag of rubbish collected from around the exterior of the church.
So my Mum decided that as a reward,  J needed his own Rosary beads, (J still refers to them as "Rosemary Beads") and J chose some from the little shop.  Fr D then kindly blessed the Rosary Beads for J and in J's eyes this now makes them very special indeed.  I have suggested that he uses them to say special prayers - just as his Auntie Moonroot uses a magic wand. Not being Catholic the Rosary is still a bit of a mystery to me although I am learning  - so it'll be off to find something age appropriate for J which might also teach me something too!
The "Chief Litter Picker" is now sat watching Robin Hood on the Disney Channel, meanwhile his bedroom resembles a bomb-site but needless to say he does not see his duties extending here so off I will go shortly to make a start on the Lego which is piled on the floor....I may be some time!

The "Rosemary" Beads

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Colchester Zoo

All cats make "looking idle" an art form and these two were no exception to that rule.
This week J and I visited Colchester Zoo with my friend EK and her daughter E plus her Nanny J. We had an absolutely fantastic day and managed to fit in a remarkable amount of feeds and demonstration sessions thatks to the new Colchester Zoo app which pages you 10 mins before any acvtivity you schedule in. As a result we not only managed to see the Penguin feed but also to take part in feeding the Elephants, Giraffes and Wallabies as well as ride the land train to see some of the shyer creatures which inhabit the zoo such as the Black Backed Jackals.
J and E had a fantastic time and all us adults enjoyed ourselves too - of course no trip to the zoo is complete without photos....
Everyone liked the big tortoise..
J enjoys the penguins
I spent "too long Mum" at the sealion enclosure - sorry J but they are just beautiful
E and J are first in the queue for the "Penguin feed"

EK's friend...who blew her kisses.

We covered most of the zoo in the day we spent there and still did not manage a quarter of the information they had to impart. Definitly a place to visit and then visit again, they are doing fantastic conservation work through the zoo and a huge amount of education regarding animal trafficking, animal mistreatment and the loss year on year of our natural wildlife .... sobering stuff.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Love, Faith and Magic Wands..

J has recently returned from a fun week spent with his Daddy, Nanna, Bapa and Aunty in both Somerset and Wales. This has been a good week for both J and I as the break allowed me time to get on with some much needed decorating. In addition it also allowed me to spend time with P and take the first tentative steps into a new relationship. P has been feted as "perfect" for me over several months by a mutual friend....all to no avail as my heart has simply not been ready. This changed at the funeral of my friend's partner Dave when I watched P with Dave's youngest daughter  S- a heartbreaking and lovely little girl of 8 who like her sister and brothers is missing her Daddy terribly.  It is no exageration to say that my heart was touched by how lovely P was with S and so when my friend began her "you are perfect for one another" comments again I agreed to allow her to arrange a meeting of some description, Perhaps I was just ready to move on..... and the break from being Mum for a few days allowed this introduction to I have seen P twice and we are going out tonight again.  Having both had our fingers burned in the past we are proceeding cautiously still but are enjoying each other's company. Time will tell how it will all is short but there is still no rush, if we are meant for one another then it will happen in it's own good time and P has a lot to think about in this as being with me means taking on J as well who is my utter joy in life.

J has now returned from his holiday and I am so happy to have him back at home and in my arms. I am without doubt blessed to have this little boy, especially as he arrived stacked against all the odds of my infertility and the dire prediction of a doctor that I was "unlikely to conceive naturally".  I am happy to have proved them wrong.....

So this morning when I took J to church I said a special prayer of thanks for J's presence in my life and for the daily joy he brings me - even if that joy IS accompanied by a certain amount of stress at times! This would include yesterday when J was in one of his "climbing moods" which culminated in his c limbing 15 feet into a tree before going into utter meltdown when he decided he was stuck up there. Getting through to James and reaching him through these meltdowns is not easy....I am so grateful for the passing dogwalker who had an advantage over me in height! I said a prayer of thanks for him today too!

Towards the end of the church service today, J started talking of "magic wands". Aunty Moonroot has one, he had tried it and what was more, when he is 13 he could use it "if Mummy & Daddy agree otherwise Mum, I have to wait til I am 18". the conversation got quite loud and feeling that talk of  "magic wands" might not be appropriate in a Catholic church I decided to sit outside and continue the conversation with J there.

We had a great chat and J understood that Aunty Moonroot's magic wand was not like the wands he reads about or sees in Harry Potter books and films because she had explained this. We discussed the fact that like his Rosary beads  a wand was used as a focus for positive and reflective prayer and to offer love and support for others.  J seemed happy with this and we further discussed his use of a magic wand at an older age as he was keen to talk about this.  I said to J that if he still wanted to look more at this at 13 then he could do so along with looking at other beliefs in life. Being open minded is a good thing and understanding and respecting different belief systems is an important part of learning to respect others. We might see much more love in society if we all showed more tolerance and understanding for the beliefs of others.

After the service I spoke with Fr B the lovely and good humoured priest for his thoughts - we had a nice chat which ended with Fr B glancing furtively round then leaning in conspiratorially and whispering  "this ere magic wand of Moonroot's - does it work on the Euromillions"?  I suggested this was highly unlikely (I refer Fr B if he is reading this, to my conversation with J regarding Harry Potter and magic wands as above) and I wondered aloud what he would do with such wealth. Fr B had no hesitation "I'd retire" he declared "to live in a beach house in Barbados" .... presumably to live a spiritual life by opening his front door every morning and giving thanks to God for the good fortune and the beautiful beach and sea view in front of him, before relaxing for the rest of the THAT is my kind of priest.  A great understanding of the spiritual but human first and foremost...just brilliant and I have giggled on and off all day recalling this conversation.

So - may I suggest to Aunty Moonroot that she gives Fr B "a lend" of her magic wand - like James before him I suspect he may feel some disappointment in the immediate results - pictures don't fly and in all liklihood the lottery numbers will not magically write themselves down but focusing on prayer while holding any object can give a deeper journey into the soul and to the universe and with THAT kind of power anything might be possible.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Rioting, Reasons and Responsibilities

The UK has recently seen several nights of rioting such as I have not seen since the early 1980s. Shops, businesses, police and family homes have been targeted by the “something for nothing” brigade who have been intent on looting and destruction. These rioters have been filmed with heads covered setting fires, taking high priced electrical goods and assaulting others. They have been a variety of ages from children to adults and I am still trying to shake the gut feeling that some of the children there may have been accompanied by a parent. I hesitate to say parents because without a doubt there will be many of these children who do not have the luxury of two parents at home.

Now  that the rioting and looting appears to be over there are no end of commentators trying to find the “causes” of such behaviour and there have been no end of reasons given from the lack of moral fibre in society to the very liberal “poor, misunderstood and marginalised youth” excuse.

Me? I think that there are many reasons but no excuses, children who grow up with no regular father or male role model in their lives but a variety of “Uncles” who come and go. This affects all children but especially boys who benefit from seeing and being able to learn appropriate behaviour from a significant male role model.

Then there are those who have not ever learned to read or write with any confidence – yes there may be a criticism of education here but it’s not difficult to get support with literacy in this day and age – hell they even provide a creche if the learner is a parent.

I cannot shake the belief that many of these rioters had no good excuses – they were there in force, it was available so they took. Yet without a doubt there are many many other individuals out there with the same difficult upbringing who did NOT take part in the looting and rioting and who ARE trying to make achievements in life.

We have a society with a sense of “entitlement”, this is not confined to the poor or any underclass but goes right through the social spectrum to the very rich who avoid their taxes and see no reason to contribute anything to society if they can avoid doing so.  Too many people know that “these are my rights” but pay no heed to the responsibilities which go with those “rights”.

I have always believed in the Welfare State being there to support those unable to support themselves financially.  In this belief I can accept that there has to be room for those who will never contribute anything and just “take” their whole lives. The key is in keeping those people who will never contribute (and I don’t include those unable to contribute due to illness/disabilities) to a minimum and supporting those who CAN work to do so.

Why then can we not have numeracy and literacy skills being part of a “welfare to work” scheme and becoming a condition of receiving benefits. Part of the responsibility a person claiming benefits should show is how they are making themselves more employable. Obviously there are those claiming benefits who ARE employable and who CAN read, write and who have enough basic numeracy skills to get by. There are far too many though who do not have these skills and unless we tackle this issue,  they will continue to be a drain on society.

Or am I wrong?

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Freedom for a week.

So J has left this morning with his Daddy for a week in Somerset with a possible jaunt into Wales and the home of his grandparents planned too. M has phoned to report their safe arrival and the immediate relaxation of J who had plonked himself down on the big squashy armchair and was flicking through the Sky channels in search of something he wanted to watch.

Me? Well I am actually exhausted today. I think it's called "burning the candle at both ends" with a combination of work, catching up with an old friend and then a night of drunken antics with my friend E, who has recently been bereaved by the sudden death of her partner at the age of 47. E needs a project to keep herself going at the moment, I can only think that I am IT as she has been very keen to match me up with single friends of hers for a while and all to no avail as I have simply not been interested until recently.
Anyhow, this project of hers culminated in Tuesday evening with wine (too much), much laughter and to my dying shame a french maids outfit which exposed far too much cleavage. I was dressed as what my mother would call "a wanton hussy" and so drunk I did not care! Actually that is probably NOT a good combo but there we go...alcohol does funny things to people. What I do know is that I have not enjoyed an evening like that in a long while but I have paid for it with the inevitable hangover and the mortification of knowing that photos of me in said maid's outfit exist. Oh dear, oh dear.....

So to today, 48 hours on I am exhausted, admittedly a trip to and from Heathrow airport in the blazing heat did not help matters here but I actually felt fine yesterday - it is today I have paid. And it has poured down today, I got soaked and all I now want to do is wallow in a deep bath, drink tea and fall asleep on the sofa watching a chick flick - preferable with a warm purring bundle of feline contentedness next to me.

Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday and a weekend off does decorating the wall which E and I covered with lining paper a few weeks ago.....we drank wine while doing so and the result can be seen as you look along the wall and the work got more and more slipshod - oh dear. Good job I plan to cover all the flaws with pictures and a mirror really. Then I tackle the bathroom and J's room all being well, it will be a boring Magnolia for J's room to start with, he has ideas of a Mario  themed room except that getting wall stickers is a nightmare and I may have to get out a pencil, some paint and put on my artistic head....needless to say that bit will NOT get done this week. The bathroom paint is ready and waiting, I just need a few extra bits before I start.

So a free week beckons, but it's packed and I hope to get lots done while J is not here and I will still work but will find time to rest too....somewhere in the schedule.