BBC Three: Sex... with Mum and Dad

I just watched the second episo of this series - brilliant. I've seen the program before, but this was particulary touching. Two families that had both lost their Mum leaving the Dad struggling to communicate with their sexually active child.

The dad and daughter family did some generally good work and progressed from a family at war to a family in love. It was pleasing to see the progress made in just a week. But the other family was something special.

Phil Francis is gay and his dad couldn't accept it meaning that they had lived separate lives in the same house. Over the course of the program we saw the dad learning to accept his sons sexuality, and most importantly, breaking down his previous understanding that it was somehow his fault. Their special task was to take a trip to the Lake District (a special place to me), and while up the mountain* (looked like Castle Crag) hey talked about their lack of physical contact and then about the loss of mum. It was emotional for both of them, and quite special, but it left me wanting to scream at the TV telling them to HUG! They didn't! Crazy, but I pray by now they will have done. But the change was remarkable. Love had and acceptance reigned.

*Yes, it did seem a little staged, but then again it's a TV program so it's bound to be in some respects.

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Comedy Change

While in Portswood Hardware this afternoon I purchased a bow saw and lopper to aid my tree felling activities over the weekend (weather permitting). As I was leaving I thought I'd ask about rat measures and they suggested some bait to use outside and gave directions on the beast measures. After a little deliberation as to whether it is right to kill the rat (a subject for a later post) I went for it.

The price was £7.49

Noting I had nine pence in coins and thinking I'd be helpful I gave the kid on the desk eight pounds and my nine pence change (a five, a tuppence and two pennies).

The slightly confused expression on the kids face said it all as he handed me back the correct change - sixty pence, only not as a 50p and 10p as I was expecting, but rather a 50p, a penny and the nine pence change I'd just given him.

So close. Gave me something to smile about on my way home.

Chaplaincy Post Exam BBQ

What an evening! And what a success. I was a little worried that nobody would turn up or that I'd not have enough food, or perhaps far too much food. But as it turned out the whole thing turned out beautifully.

There were people from Cathsoc, SCM, CU and Jsoc, possibly the Postgrad Fellowship, but sadly none from CCF or KCF. I should think there were 40 people over the evening and nearly all the food was eaten (I got the roll to meat ratio pretty damn fine) and loads of people hun around for ages after the cooking finished.

The BBQ itself was exciting and I'm enjoying the sweet smell of wood smoke on my hands as I type. It was a half oil drum BBQ and I took a fire-from-scratch approach (ie no fire sticks or fluids) much to the bemusement/confusion of others as there were the auto-light fire bags available. By the time my fire work was done the heat was quite awesome and the cooking splendid. I love making a good fire. I'm damn good at fire.

So the evening was jolly good fun and it was lovely to have such an ecumenical gathering and the Chaplaincy so populated. As people began to dissipate we turned up the music and got some dancing underway.

Eventually it was just a hard core SCM nugget left and we danced to music till half 1 this morning. And I'm not just talking the slightly embarrassing dad-at-your-sisters-wedding type of dance. Oh no, we went from modern interpretative dance right round to traditional ballet, all set to a rather eclectic mix of modern pop.

Thoroughly enjoyable :o)

Tree Felling for Dummies

I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK, I sleep all night and work all day... so the Pythons go. Well yesterday the boys of the Kitchener Community decided that they'd give it a go - how hard could felling a tree really be?

The girls were all out celebrating having finished the last exams of their Medical degrees, and were most probably a little drunk by then - what could possibly go wrong?

Well as it turned out, nothing went wrong. After having an impromptu chat with out neighbour at the end of the garden (who was concerned we were going to chop down the holly tree she uses as Christmas decorations) we set to work with our axe chopping down one of the dead trees. Actually that's not quite right - I sent to work and actually begun chopping into a living tree that happened to be intertwined with the dead target meaning we took out two trunks rather than one.

After clearing the way to the trunk and having a little go with the axe, I decided to shimmy up one of the other holly trees to take a look. Turns out there are 7 trees all growing together just behind our decking area (where Bertha stands). At the top I jumped from treetop to treetop, and after a quick photocall from a slighly concerned Ben, I set to work sawing the top of one of the trees.

Down it went pretty quickly, so I decided to go for the bigger trunk of another tree. That required quite some careful sawing with my Leatherman to get through and to fall in the right direction (it was too heavy to hold once cut). I finished off by taking of a few more branches to round off the overall shape of the tree before shimming down one of the remaining trees in the dark.

What fun, and only a little saw wound to speak of the evening. Well, that and the massive pile of holly branches that now scatter the garden.

These are the holly trees at the back of the garden

And this is me up the holly trees - awesome view up there

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Shoebox Bakery

Luke mentioned over the weekend how he likes to get bread from the Shoebox Bakery on Portswood high street. While in Portswood this afternoon posting a card and picking up some fruit I decided to stop in the Shoebox and take a look. I'm not always one for pastries, nor really bread that much.

The Three Cooks next to Woolworths has shut down and I'm fairly certain the culprit is the new Greggs that opened on the other side of Woolworths. Greggs is funky, looks all clean and modern so easily attracts trade. Being a recognised chain also must help in soaking up sporadic trade. So it's no wonder that the Three Cooks recently shut up shop. This is a sad thing. Another example of the small and mostly inconsequential, but none the less sharp and pointy, end of capitalism where uniqueness, identity and independence is left wanting in the tide of commerce and 'value'.

So it was partly in the spirit of supporting the little guy that I stepped into the Shoebox. How glad I was to do so. And there were lots of others doing the same thing as me, but they were different than the typical shopping drones that hover round supermarkets for their monthly all-in-one municipal shop. These people were chatty, happy and excited to be in a little independent personal bakery with lots of exciting looking treats on display to choose from. What's more is the willingness of the owner to help. I wanted three jam doughnuts, but only two were left so she went to squert jam into a ring doughnut for me :). I was also tempted by the iced buns, but I prefer them with fresh cream down the middle, and again she went off and made that for me. I felt special and valued. It was great.

So get yourself down to the Shoebox bakery and enjoy buying bread and buns the real way.

A New Potato - Start of the Good Life

A second case of new life this week: earlier today I unearthed the first potato from my vegetable patch. It's only a tiddler (that word is one of my Nana's) but should be tasty. I'll boil it for lunch with a sprig of mint (also from the garden).

My first new potato - only a tiddler

The potato flower, same family as tomatoes*

* ahh! Look how similar the word 'potato' and 'tomato' are - same family plant, same family of name. And for some reason I want to spell both with an extra 'e': potatoe/tomatoe.

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Life and Death

My rabbit, Willow, died yesterday. After being attacked by a rat on Sunday night and surviving an anesthetic operation at the vet to assess the damage (though nothing could be done) I had to make the decision to have her put to sleep as overnight fly lava had hatched under her skin. Her chances of survival would have been minimal at best and the discomfort would have been tremendous.

But it was no easy decision. I wanted to fight for her and was looking forward to having her home and giving her intensive care. I was also not prepared to have to sign a euthanasia consent form. And even after the injection she didn't give up the fight for life quickly, which made me feel worse. My friend Cheryl accompanied me to the vet and even came in the room as Willow was put down, which was a great strength.

It was a different type of death from Roo, my previous rabbit who died February last year. Hers was a sudden shocking moment, while Willow slipped away. But in both cases I was privileged to be there.

And so it hurts; the pain of death is never easy. But never does it make me not want to love again. The joyful reward of rescuing a scared timid creature and encouraging them to become loving happy pets is worth the pain of loss.

Grief is the final chapter in life, and for me one of the most important. The fact that humans (and other animals) have this sense of love and loss is a beautiful thing. I'd go so far as to say it is one of God's gifts. And strangely I celebrate the process of grief - it provides time to be sad, time to remember and be thankful for the good and ask forgiveness for the bad, time to complete the journey of that relationship. For me it is a precious thing.

As for new life - I planted out the seedlings that have been germinating on my windowsill.

Willow looking cute on my bed

Seedling new life

Seedlings on My Windowsill

I do so love germinating seeds. It's so very satisfying to pop inert objects into the ground and then watch as they unfurl and point to the sun. New life.

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