Friday, 30 April 2010

#30 Feature Friday

Today, while I finish my last assignment, I am going to send you over to Stasie's blog: Stasie the Strange. When I first found Stasie's blog, I just had to follow! She is a girl who loves Jesus, books and music. She often shares music, and reviews books on her blog. In fact, it was through her review of Mitch Albom's 'The Five People You Meet in Heaven' that I found her in the first place, because it was posted on another blog. Each post is varying, but always makes enjoyable reading. 

I'll be back later. In the mean time, go and pay Stasie a visit! :-)

Thursday, 29 April 2010

#29 My Baby

I got my dissertation bound today!

Have a drink on me, my lovelies!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

#28 Sonnet

Today is a busy day in preparation for my big day tomorrow. I wish I could tell you why but I want it to be a surprise, so I am going to keep you in suspense for another 24 hours or so... In the mean time, I am going to share a poem with you. I discovered it yesterday amongst my documents, expecting it to be recycling bin material, but I was pleasantly surprised! I can't even remember writing it, although I must have written it in the last three years because that's how long I've had my laptop for! It contains the fourteen lines of the sonnet form, but lacks rhyme and rhythm. I think it's better that way. 

The spontaneity means that we will never be
Fully sure of where we are meant to be going
When the road guides us from where
We want to be, and into some dark and
Forsaken place where we are swallowed up.
We will always have our ups and downs
But through it all we will always remember
The people: how they made us smile,
How they made us cry, how they made us laugh,
How they made us frown, how they made us hurt,
How they moved us to tears through the sheer
Enormity of their overwhelming love for us.
Love that does not compare to that of He,
Who so often goes unremembered

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Monday, 26 April 2010

#26 The Kindness of Strangers

'You have a good memory,' Spud told me on the phone last night because I could remember the date I received his first email. The start of a beautiful new relationship. 

I remember things vividly and it's not always a good thing. There are some things I wish I could forget, but they remain imprinted on my mind. I will carry them with me always. My burden. But there are other memories that I shall cherish for always. 

I was twelve years old and had just begun high school. As much as I'd hoped against it, break times were proving to be as lonely as they had been at primary school. The difference was I had friends here. But my very best friend was often away from school, and Dearest Friend was, at that time, best friends with the-girl-who-thought-she-was-a-notch-above-everyone-else. She would accompany Dearest Friend to the disabled toilet and they would stay in there, sometimes for the whole lunch hour, often forgetting that I was waiting outside. Darling Girl was yet to join our school.

In the end books became my only desired companions. I would sit outside on the grass with my library book, leaving the playground and my loneliness behind as I was transported into another world. At that time I was reading The Animals of Farthing Wood series by Colin Dann. I had watched and adored the televised cartoon adaption as a little girl, and was delighted to discover the paperbacks in my new school library. 

Suddenly, a voice brought me back down to earth with a start. I was confronted by the kind, smiling face of a girl and she sat down beside me, her three friends loitering nearby. We started chatting, and I felt both thrilled and humbled that this complete stranger was giving me the time of day, which was more than I could say about my own friends. I think I spent more than one lunchtime in her company, and on one occasion, towards the end of September, she invited me to her birthday party the following month. She had gotten to know Dearest Friend by that stage and invited her along too. I was relieved as I didn't have the confidence to attend the party alone. 

Dearest Friend and I arranged to meet at the party, but when my father dropped me off she wasn't there. I walked tentatively into the dim hall, hordes of children illuminated by coloured disco lights. The music was so loud it seemed to bounce off the walls and around my head. I wanted to make a quick exit, but I knew my father had already gone and wouldn't be back until 10. That was two and a half hours away. 

I backed away to one side of the room and scanned the crowd of children for the birthday girl. I couldn't see her so I laid her card and present on the food table, suddenly feeling sick with dread. I don't know how long I lingered there when three familiar figures emerged from the body of people. I immediately recognised them as girls from my tutor group, Ellen, Hannah and Natasha. 'Kess,' they called, spotting me and waving, gesturing that I should come over and join their group. My heart started thudding as I walked across the room. Ellen and Natasha approached me too, each of them taking me by the arm and steering me over. 

I danced with their little group for the remainder of the night. Midway through the night I was spotted by a girl who I remember being pretty two-faced at primary school (but mostly just horrid to me), and she invited me to dance with her cronies. I refused adamantly, not willing to have them laugh at my awful dancing when Ellen, Hannah and Natasha had accepted me just as I was. 

10 o'clock soon came around and I looked up to see my father waiting in the doorway. I was relieved to go home, even though the party hadn't been as bad as I'd initially anticipated. I saw the birthday girl a few times after the party, but after that we drifted. The weather started to go downhill and I opted to remain inside. By the time the summer months came round again we had forgotten each other. We were in different tutor groups and so never had any lessons together. We were also at opposite ends of the social sphere. 

The-girl-who-thought-she-was-a-notch-above-everyone-else began to drift from Dearest Friend when Darling Girl joined the school and our friendship group, so I was no longer forced to linger outside the disabled toilet for the whole lunch hour. 

I was still friendly with Ellen, Hannah and Natasha, but we never became real 'friends'. I'm not sure if I ever thanked them for including me, but I hope they know how much their small act of kindness meant to me. I hope they know how grateful I am to them, all these years later. That those few hours of inclusion is a memory I'll always treasure. 

Sunday, 25 April 2010

#25 Reprieve

Reprieve. Don't you think that's a delicious word?

There are countless things I could have done today. I could have edited my dissertation. I could have worked on my poetry coursework. I could have filled out more job application forms. I could have started looking through my library books, marking out relevant pages for photocopying. At the very least I could have started sorting through my belongings. 

But I didn't do any of that. 

Instead I stayed in bed until midday, reading a book aimed at girls half my age (I am a disgrace to all English literature students!) and getting up only to make another cup of tea. The only really productive thing I've done today is go for my last 'proper' run before the half-marathon next Sunday. 

Today's been... beneficial. I was so tired last night, I was falling asleep on the phone to Spud. And really did fall asleep when we ended the call. Fully clothed. Now, having taken things easy for the day, I feel more myself. I'm still tired, but I feel more refreshed and ready to tackle my work. 

Yesterday one of the senior staff at work found out that I'm leaving soon. The one who rings me weekly, offering me hours. She said, teasingly, that I'm not allowed to leave. I'm going to miss them all. Each and every one of them, staff and students alike, have touched my life in some way. 

How many weeks left of living at home?


Saturday, 24 April 2010

#24 Vision

Today the optician hinted that if my eyes get any worse I may not qualify for contact lenses. I could be that I just misunderstood what he said. I mean, there was no certainty either way, but it worried me all the same. I don't like wearing my glasses. I know I should be grateful that my sight can be corrected. I work with people who are visually impaired - some of whom can't see at all - so I realise how lucky I am. But I loathe my glasses. And I dread the thought that I might be lumbered with them during all my waking hours, apart from a couple at either end of the day. Spud prefers me with my glasses than without. I hate it when people tell me they suit me. I don't want them to become a part of my identity again. 

Friday, 23 April 2010

#23 Feature Friday

Today I am going to send you over to Kate's blog, Ramblings and Music. Kate is a blogger and Youtube user. You can watch her videos here. I haven't been following Kate's blog for long but her musings really capture moments of everyday life, and are accompanied by the most fantastic pictures. I know she is quite busy at the moment with exams and hasn't had much time for posting, but please give her a visit and send her a little blogger love. 

That is all from me today. I've got to finish the conclusion of my dissertation and I'm really stuck for motivation at the moment. For the last two days I've done split shifts at work and it's really difficult to get working again when you are aware you have to return to work in a few hours!

Oh, and for those of you who read yesterday's post, the quotes were all from the Bible (NIV to be specific). Well done Anna for guessing right! Here are the quotes again with their references:

'His bed was made of iron and was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide' 
- Deuteronomy 3.11 - 

'I am the son of an alien'
- 2 Samuel 1.13

'My breath is offensive to my wife'
- Job 19.17 -

They all seem rather out of place when taken out of context!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

#22 Challenge and Poll

I don't have time to compile a long post today, so I have set a little challenge for you. The following quotes are all from the same source. See if you can guess where. No cheating!

'His bed was made of iron and was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide'

'I am the son of an alien'

'My breath is offensive to my wife'

Also, the annual May ball takes place at uni in two weeks time. Do you think I should go?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

#21 Back to Reality

Now that the holidays are over and everyone has returned to work and school, I have had to adjust to a quiet house for the last few days. I have another week to go until my lectures begin again, and I miss having my family around me during the day. I also miss the relaxed atmosphere we enjoy during the holidays. Now my parents are out for most of the day, and when they arrive home they spend most of the evening planning. 

I return to work myself tomorrow, although by choice. Now that my dissertation is almost complete I've taken on as many shifts as possible. With the expenses of a new car and insurance, plus the anticipation of the move, I am grateful for the money!

I travelled in to uni today to hand in two assignments and return some library books. I also made enquiries into the procedure of getting my dissertation printed and bound, and met a friend for lunch and a catch up. It was nice taking a couple of hours to chill out with her. 

I fell asleep on the bus home. Out of Africa almost slid out of my hands, but luckily I awoke and stowed it in my bag before returning to the land of slumber. When I woke up, about fifteen minutes before my stop, I realised how tired I am. We are nearing the end now, but it's been a long, intense process. There is still so much uncertainty ahead, but so much excitement too. I am ready for the next step now. I'm raring to go. 

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

#20 Dating

I know two people who got engaged recently after only being with their boyfriends for two months. I think to begin with I was a little surprised, but then I realised that they have had the bonus of seeing their boyfriends frequently during this short space of time. This is something Spud and I haven't really experienced, as we have always been in a long distance relationship. In some respects we see a lot of each other because when we're together we spend virtually every minute of every day together, which is essential as we are separated for several long weeks at a time. 

One of the things I am most looking forward to when I move up nearer to Spud is going out on dates with him. This might sound daft, but in the (almost) three years that we have been together, we have never been out on a date. Okay, we have been to the cinema and theatre, and out for meals and day trips together, and I guess they're undoubtedly what you'd call dates, but these 'dates' don't really feel like dates as there are no separations. We don't have the passionate goodbyes on the doorstep, and the anticipation of seeing each other the following day, or the day after at the very latest. We have the painful goodbyes at the bus station, and the anticipation of weeks apart. I suppose we have some insight into what marriage will be like, although this is something we've experienced from day one. It will be nice to spend some time dating before we embark on our marriage. 

I am thrilled that the long term separations will shortly be coming to an end. I am also really excited about spending our 3rd anniversary together as we have been separated for the last two. We will be on holiday in Scotland with my family, so we are planning a day for just the two of us. I like the idea of a picnic, but we will have to see. 

Monday, 19 April 2010

#19 Thirty before Thirty

Recently Ashley made a list of 30 things she hopes to achieve before she turns 30, so I decided to do the same for today's post. You can read Ashley's 30 things here. The following are mine:

1) Run a half-marathon and run all the way
2) Graduate with at least a 2nd class degree
3) Buy a house
4) Marry
5) Have children
6) See Sixpence None the Richer perform live
7) Get my novel published
8) Read the complete works of Shakespeare
9) Read the complete works of Daphne du Maurier
10) Read the complete works of the Bronte sisters
11) Write the story of my life
12) Visit some of the remote Scottish islands
13) See the Northern Lights
14) Make a dress
15) Learn another language
16) Learn another musical instrument (violin or guitar)
17) Learn sign language
18) Go camping and cook food over a camp fire
19) Get one of my songs finished to the point where it can be performed
20) Start a vegetable garden
21) Knit a blanket or throw
22) Learn to crochet
23) Learn to play at least one piano piece from my Colplay music book
24) Host a dinner party
25) Cook Christmas dinner solo using my mother's recipes
26) Sew a patchwork quilt for my marriage bed
27) Devote a whole day to prayer and fasting
28) Make jam
29) Read 'Clarissa'
30) Keep this blog going

I think the next nine years are going to be pretty busy!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

#18 Being Kess

I have acquired several different nicknames over the years, but I like being Kess best of all. It is a pseudonym I use only for blogging, taken from a character in a favourite childhood trilogy of mine, and chosen because it's original. I am yet to meet another Kess, both on blogger and in reality! It's not a nickname I can easily introduce into the real world, nor do I have any great desire to do so, although it's tempting because I feel I've formed an identity as Kess. She is a part of me. She is the part of me that coolly handled the pizza incident last week, and sang in front of an audience of 50(+). She is the part of me brave enough to tackle a pressing matter on the head, and consequently found a piece of mind. She's not an alter ego; just the confident part of me, that doesn't emerge as often as I'd like. Maybe that sounds bizarre. Maybe this is the consequence of studying psychoanalysis for my dissertation.  

I think names have a big impact on our identity. If I changed my blogger name I'm sure it would make an impact of sorts on my followers. I'm sure they would find it confusing and think differently of me to begin with because I have formed an identity as Kess. But it would make all the more difference in the real world. I know of someone who changed her name and everyone who knew her had to make a real effort to remember! I met her after the change, but despite this I still felt that her original name suited her better! To be fair, I knew of her before she changed her name, but it just goes to show what an impact it makes!

That's why I could never introduce Kess as a nickname in reality. All my nicknames originate from my name, but Kess is so different. It would sound strange and unnatural, both to myself and the people around me. I have never disliked my name, even though very few spell it correctly first time round. There are relatives who have known me since I was a baby and still can't spell my name properly! 

I don't know where I am going with this post so I think I had better sign off! Make of it what you will. 

Saturday, 17 April 2010

#17 What We do for Love

Today we are celebrating my grandparents' 50th Wedding Anniversary. The occasion will be marked with a service, followed by entertainment and a buffet lunch. We, the guests, are providing the entertainment. I wasn't contributing anything originally because I didn't feel I had anything to offer. At least, nothing I could bring up to scratch in time. I suppose I could've played my flute but I can't read music without my glasses (I wear contact lenses), and I didn't really have time to practice with all the work I had to do. My parents had planned to sing a song they wrote and sang together at a friend's wedding, years ago. However, my mother has had some sort of chest infection for weeks now, and recently lost her voice. She saw the doctor, who advised her against singing, and even talking! So guess who is going to stand in her place today? Moi. 

Now, I don't really think of myself as a particularly good singer. I don't think of myself as a particularly bad singer either, but singing is really personal, and something I only do when I think no one can hear me. I did sing in a gospel choir a couple of years ago, but that was with twenty other people. Today's performance is almost a solo in comparison. Well, I suppose it's more a duet because my dad will be singing too. My mum will be accompanying on her guitar and singing where she can. When my mum volunteered me to take her place, without even consulting me, I must admit I felt a little put out. I mean, don't I get a say in this? I realised, though, that it would mean the world to my grandparents, and so I agreed, and quite enjoyed our practices together this week. I'm not sure I'll feel quite so confident when I stand up in front of an audience, but I keep reminding myself that if it's really awful, it doesn't matter so much because I'll be moving 300 miles across the country very shortly. 

On the other hand, this could be the start of a whole new career in music... 

Friday, 16 April 2010

#16 Sixteen

Sixteen is a good number. It's not my favourite, but it's a number that marked a positive turning point in my life. When I was sixteen I was suddenly faced with choices, rather than the obligatory maths, Science and P.E. that dictated my life. I found myself in an environment where I was respected for who I was, and I realised I was beginning to grow up. I was, slowly but surely, starting to feel at ease with who I was. It was also the age I stopped ageing physically. I'm not kidding! I'm generally thought to be about sixteen, and people would give a double take over the years when I told them I was actually seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one... I am constantly being told to take it as a compliment, but usually by people who don't appreciate how patronising it can be. For the last five years I've looked more or less the same, but since getting the fringe I haven't been asked to show my ID when buying alcohol. I have a friend who's exactly the same except she's four years older than me! We were asked once if we were twins and, on another occasion, sisters. 

I'm thinking of getting a make over. I've tried using make up before but I'm hopeless. I would love a natural look that makes me look a bit more my age, because I think it would boost my confidence for job interviews, etc. I know at various cosmetic stores you can get guidance on applying make up, and advice about colouring. You can also pay to get your make up done professionally. That way they'll show you exactly what you need to get the look you want. What do you think? Any ideas?

Thursday, 15 April 2010

#15 Perfect Day

Yesterday was one of those rare days where I achieved everything I set out to achieve. Everything just seemed to fall nicely into place. 

I woke up fairly late for me and had a hair appointment at eleven. After that it was nearly lunchtime. Once lunch was over I contemplated working on my dissertation for a bit but I was aware that I only had a couple of hours and it can be difficult to get working when time is limited. In the end I concluded that my time would be better spent completing one or two tasks that had been on my 'to do' list for some time. 

I still had a little time to spare and so got online and did some job hunting. I haven't heard back from job number 3 yet, and I need to keep my options open. I really need to obtain a job by July 5th because that is when I have arranged to move into my accommodation! I highlighted a few to apply for and applied for one online because the deadline for that is today. 

That particular job is ideal in every way. It is based in the area I will be living in. The hours are exactly what I'm looking for. It is in the same field that I'm currently working in. The salary is great. The only problem is it's a big step above what I'm doing. At the moment I only do relief work so, in terms of chess, it would be like a pawn being promoted to bishop! I think I'd be kidding myself to think they'd even consider me, but sometimes in life you have to shoot high. I'd love to be given the chance to prove myself and think if I was given the chance I could fit into the role. 

Last night I met up with Dearest Friend and we went to the cinema to see Dear John. It was brilliant, although there were one or two differences to the book, which is my favourite Nicholas Sparks novel. Nicholas Sparks is one of my favourite authors for light reading and I've read almost all his books. I think the film definitely did the book justice. 

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

#14 A History of Guinea Pigs

Warning: if you don't like heart warming animal stories then you'd be better off not reading this post!

Because my mother was allergic to cats and my father not especially keen on dogs, my brothers and I were only allowed to keep rodents or small mammals as pets. In my lifetime my family have owned 10 guinea pigs, 3 rabbits and a hamster. And also a parrot (for a day). 

When I was seven my parents finally agreed to let me have a pet, and so we chose a black and white Dutch rabbit and a ginger and white guinea pig for my brother Matt. We named them Blackdrop and Sarah. For the first few months they lived together in a hutch, but we found that the older they grew the more they didn't get on. We separated them and bought two more guinea pigs as companions for Sarah. They were named Bubble and Squeak. We didn't know it at the time but our guinea pig numbers were set to multiply. One morning I went out to check on them and found five new guinea pigs had appeared in the cage over night. It seemed that Bubble and Squeak had been pregnant when we brought them home! 

The runt of the litter died a few hours later, but the other four grew up into healthy guinea pigs and were affectionately christened Twinkle, Ginger, Patch and Snowdrop. Twinkle was the only male, and as soon as he was weaned we separated him from the others to avoid further incestuous guinea pig relations! Our neighbours took Ginger, Patch and Snowdrop (renamed Boogie) off our hands, and Twinkle went to a family we knew from church. Not one of them outlived their mothers, who lived to be very old ladies indeed. 

The next few years were fairly uneventful. Then we moved just around the corner, taking our small menagerie with us. This was where our encounter with the parrot took place. I was about eleven and had woken up fairly early one morning during the summer holidays. I was wondering what had woken me and looked out of my window to see something dangling from the telegraph wires. I thought it was a wounded pigeon because the shape was grey with a flash of red. I alerted my parents and my father identified the 'pigeon' as an African Grey parrot. 

Within a few minutes we had dressed and formulated a plan to catch it. I assembled a breakfast of banana, apple and guinea pig food, and we spread this on the lawn like a picnic. The parrot seemed to ponder us for a few minutes. We stood still as statues, hardly daring to breathe when it flew down to investigate further. It took an instant liking to my father and landed on his head. We carefully moved from the garden to the dining room where we secured our visitor to enjoy his breakfast. I was bursting to tell my next door neighbour, who was my best friend at the time, but I knew she wouldn't be awake. In the mean time my parents phoned the RSPCA and the local radio station in case someone was looking for it. We had the parrot for a whole day, because it wasn't collected by the RSPCA until late afternoon. 

In our new home Blackdrop proved to be quite an escape artist. We frequently let her out of her hutch and allowed her the run of the garden which was pretty secure. The first time she escaped through a narrow hole in the fence, darted down the neighbour's drive, across the road and into a garden opposite. Thankfully the neighbour returned her later (rather than shooting her for chewing up his flowers!) The second time she broke through the hedge at the back of the garden and into the fields behind. The freedom must have bewildered her as she was found by a man walking his dog in the field, cowering in the open. My father built her a secure run where she lived for the rest of her days. When she died at the age of six, we replaced her with...

Two more escape artist rabbits! Fern and Bracken were literally half wild. They were born at the animal shelter after one of its residents enjoyed a chance encounter with a rather handsome wild rabbit living nearby. Within two years Fern and Bracken cracked my father's escape proof run. They'd already tried digging their way out and built a rather precarious tunnel beneath the hutch. They couldn't get any further than that because we had spread chicken wire about a foot beneath the earth. There was a danger of the tunnel collapsing inwards, along with he hutch directly above, so we had to replace the grass with concrete slabs to prevent them from digging. 

One windy night in October the roof of the run fell inwards and the rabbits used it as a ladder. Bracken didn't venture far, but Fern, the more docile of the two, was nowhere in sight. We guessed she had probably fled to the fields, and knew there was a chance we wouldn't see her again. We enquired around the neighbourhood all the same, and minutes later we received a phone call from a family a few doors down who had found Fern lurking in their garden. Why she hadn't made a beeline for the fields I do not know! She was very reluctant to return home and evaded capture for a further hour! Following this incident they were grounded, until my father had made their run about as escape proof as a maximum security prison!

By this time all three guinea pigs had died of old age. Sarah died one Easter at the age of seven, and Squeak followed her about six months later. Bubble, however, lived another year and made it to the grand old age of eight! She became very frail and for the last few days of her life didn't move at all. Perhaps it would have been kinder to have had her put to sleep but she wasn't in pain and seemed very peaceful. I ensured she had food and water in reach and a comfortable bed of hay. My youngest brother David also had, during this time, bought his first pet, a hamster called Peanut. He lived two years, and his life seemed a very short one in comparison to the guinea pigs. 

After Peanut's death, my brothers bought two guinea pigs, male this time. One was white with a black patch over his eye, and the other was white and ginger. They were named Rascal and Marmalade. It was May, and as the weather was warm, we out them out in their run frequently. About three weeks after their arrival, I noticed that Marmalade was quieter than usual. They were tamer than they had been, but still difficult to catch, but that day he didn't struggle at all when my mum picked him out to show my younger cousin. I pointed this out, but it was quite late and there was little we could do. The next morning we awoke to find that Marmalade had died in the night. I did some investigation into his death, and highlighted buttercup poisoning as his cause of death (buttercups are fatal to guinea pigs). However, we never knew for sure. 

Rascal became very quiet when his brother was removed from the cage and, concerned for his welfare, my family bought him a new companion, Fudge. Fudge was a tiny little thing, and considerably tamer than Rascal and Marmalade had been. I picked him out of the box, and he seemed quite content to be held. However, when we introduced the two we found they didn't get on at all, and we kept the two in separate cages for the first couple of years. We introduced them gradually, and eventually they grew, if not friendly, then tolerant of each other. 

(Rascal and Fudge)

They both had many health problems during that first summer, and I proved to myself that I could have been a vet, because I was always the one to diagnose them. I found out on one trip to the veterinary surgery that the vet had highly commended me! Firstly Fudge developed a dry patch beneath one of his ears, and both guinea pigs were treated for skin mites. Rascal had the mites worse than Fudge and had to wear a collar around his neck to prevent him from biting his wounds. However, the collar must have chafed, breaking the skin around his neck. The new wound became septic and the collar was hastily removed. We were given some cream to apply. As our holiday coincided with this incident, Rascal came with us. We were staying in a friend's house for the week so we were able to bring him. 

A few weeks later we went away for a second time, and we returned to find that Rascal had diarrhoea, a condition that can be fatal to a guinea pig. He was rushed to the vet and given some medicine in liquid form that he was supposed to take every half an hour. It was very late, and so I volunteered to stay up and syringe feed him every half an hour. His cage was moved to the living room for my own comfort. Matt, as Rascal's owner, joined me, but fell asleep immediately. In between administering the medicine, I read Jane Eyre, and had nearly finished it at the end of my night shift. 

By about four o' clock in the morning Rascal seemed more himself, and the medicine had clearly done its job. I felt able to return to bed for a kip, and sure enough he had improved vastly when I woke up a few hours later. The next few years were uneventful. When I started at university the rabbits were moved to the college where my father is a tutor. It is a college for the visually impaired and one of the courses available to students is animal care. I knew the students would benefit from my rabbits being there, and the rabbits, in turn, would get the care they needed in my absence. Rascal died in December. At four he wasn't particularly old, but didn't show any signs of suffering. His death was very sudden and unexpected. Fudge continues to live. He is beginning to show signs of old age, but he seems happy and well. And that brings me to the end of my History of Guinea Pigs. I hope you have enjoyed this series of anecdotes!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

#13 One Day You'll Know

I feel like sharing some poetry with you today. I wrote the following when I was seventeen. It's probably the first love song I've ever written, and it even pre-dates Spud - not that it was written for anyone in particular. Forgive me if it comes across as sounding quite clich├ęd.
One Day You'll Know

My mind overflows with memories
But one brings me back with a start:
One spring, just over a year ago,
Love ignited my heart.

My soul was scorched by the passion
You always play on my mind;
When we were together I soared
And when we were parted I pined.

Instinct told me to hold back
And not let my feelings show.
Deep down inside I was hopeful
That, darling, one day you'll know.

Cupid's shaft struck me with full force,
I was felled by a single blow.
These feelings are so overwhelming;
They took seed and started to grow.

Love is a hard thing to conquer
And can be the source of much sorrow.
Each day I hope and I pray
That, darling, one day you'll know

One day you'll know that I love you

Monday, 12 April 2010

#12 Failed Christian

'You know I need all the love you give a loser like me
I just don't know why you would give it for free
When I don't deserve it'

- Sixpence None the Richer 'Loser Like Me' -

Over Lent I read a daily devotional by Adrian Plass that covered the period between Shrove Tuesday and Easter Sunday. Adrian Plass is an author I'd recommend to anyone, regardless of faith, as he has a way of putting forward ideas in a really accessible and humorous manner. In the devotional he referred to himself as a 'failed' Christian on more than one occasion. It suddenly hit me that that's exactly what I am too. In fact, I think if every Christian looked in their hearts, they would recognise the same. I often get it wrong. I don't always act in a way that reflects Jesus. Adrian Plass asks the challenging question, 'Do we dare to turn the lights on and still claim to be followers of Jesus?' (Plass, The Unlocking). 

That's the beauty of what we believe in. We have sinned, and we continue to sin, but all those sins (past, present and future) were nailed on the cross with Jesus. We can still claim to be children of God even though we consistently mess up. It takes a lot of courage to admit to being a 'failed' Christian, but it's essential that we remember that God loves us all the same, believers and non believers alike. Nobody is a step above another. 

Just a short post today as I have a lot I need to do, but my testimony is now accessible if you'd like to read it. There is a link to it beneath my header entitled 'Love Story' or alternatively just click here

Sunday, 11 April 2010

#11 The Undomestic Godess

I'm very tired and lacking inspiration tonight so I will briefly review for you a book I read recently. 

It has been a real joy to rediscover reading for pleasure, and I have treated myself by indulging in some really light reads. The Undomestic Goddess isn't the first book I've read of Sophie Kinsella's as I worked my way through the Shopaholic series last year, but it certainly met my expectations. 

The novel is about a complete change of lifestyle. Samantha is a high-powered lawyer, working her life away in order to attain her ultimate goal: partnership in the firm she works for. On the day she seems set to achieve this dream, a simple mistake costs her job. Hopping on the first train out of London, she ends up in the countryside and lands herself a job as a housekeeper due to identity confusion. However, for Samantha, who has never, in her life, switched the oven on, the job is not quite so simple. As she adapts to a very different lifestyle, she begins to realise the freedom she has been missing for so many years...

This light hearted novel is both entertaining and moving. The twists and turns make it a real page turner. I don't believe it is what you would describe as a very literary read, but then I don't think such books should be dismissed on those grounds. The likeable characters and deep moral messages more than make up for this, and have brought Sophie Kinsella much success. 

Saturday, 10 April 2010

#10 Due Date

'I'm going nowhere and I'm going to take my time
And the questions in the world I can leave in my mind
I'm waiting on the sunshine, the sunshine'

- Sixpence None the Richer 'Waiting on the Sun' -

For the last couple of days my dissertation hasn't been progressing in the way it was earlier in the week. It has been quite disheartening, although I feel confident that I can get it done. I'm taking some time out tonight and tomorrow - off out with Dearest Friend and Darling Girl, and I'm hoping the respite will enable me to work once more when I return. 

A couple of days ago I received what I think of as my 'due' date. This is, in actual fact, the day of my one and only exam: May 18th. Then it will all be over, my sixteen years of education. 

Strangely, I had a nightmare last night that I returned to primary school as an adult and even had to pay for the 'privilege'! In the dream I was reduced to tears and started formulating an escape plan. I woke up feeling very shaken. I'm all for analysing dreams, and I'm pretty sure this one stemmed from my awareness of how close I am to stepping into the real world. 

So, what's next on the agenda? Well, the day after the exam I will be travelling up to Spud's and I don't expect to be apart from him, for more than a few days, ever again. We're going on holiday with my family at the end of May and due to limited space in my parents' car, Spud and I will be driving up ourselves in our new car! I don't think I told you about the new car. Spud and I bought it a few weeks ago after test driving it. It was the first time I've enjoyed driving. Ever. 

I guess I'll be looking for jobs too. I've already applied for three, been turned down by two, and I'm now currently waiting to hear from one (the one I'm most interested in so please pray, or keep your fingers crossed for me!)

I had no idea what to write today, but this has turned into quite a rambly post. Hope you enjoyed it, nevertheless. 

Friday, 9 April 2010

#9 Where is God?

Firstly, I would like to apologise because this is tomorrow's post. I wrote an entirely different post earlier today which, for reasons I cannot disclose in detail, I was forced to delete. Basically, it was a Feature Friday post, but the person featured did not appreciate the spotlight, although they recognised the kindness in the gesture. Anyway, here is today's post, and my first BookSneeze assignment. If you don't remember me mentioning BookSneeze, you can read about it here

Where is God?

'In a way, doubt is what this entire book is about. It shows up in the title. Where is God in my tough circumstance, when nothing makes sense? Some people, however, worry that their doubt is a sign that they have no faith. If they are fully confident that God will take care of things, they feel they aren't doing right by God. The reality, though, is that doubt is not the absence of faith. It is a part of faith.'

In Where is God? psychologist Dr. John Townsend draws from Biblical examples and personal experience to tackle the challenging issue of suffering. Townsend demonstrates how we can seek God even in the toughest circumstances. We have all experienced times in life when God seems to be silent and elusive. I read Townsend's book alongside Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress and Young's The Shack, and all three books seemed to be intricately linked. I found Where is God? to be deeply reassuring, and inspirational. It isn't a book that promises answers, but it encourages each of us in our personal relationship with God. It is a book I would definitely recommend!

I review for BookSneeze

Thursday, 8 April 2010

#8 Standing My Ground

Last night we ordered in pizza. The house was swarming with boys as Matt had invited some friends over. As responsible adult and lady of the house, I was put in charge of ordering which we did online. The bill came to nearly £70 but we had two for one vouchers which would knock at least £20 off the total. There was no code to enter, but it said on the vouchers to hand them over when the pizzas arrived. 

I waited for the pizzas with a real sense of foreboding. The price troubled me because even with the offer it was still pretty high for what we'd ordered. When the pizza delivery guy showed up I waved the vouchers at him and he looked puzzled. 

'Didn't you enter the code online?' He asked. 

I tried to explain that there hadn't been a code on the vouchers; that it said just to hand them over with the money. 

'I'll need to phone head office,' he said. 

'Sorry to cause you so much trouble,' I said, humbly. 

'That's okay,' he said, kindly. 'It's no problem.' Obviously this had happened before and he was used to it. 

A minute or two passed, and then he approached me with the phone. 'They want to speak to you,' he said. 

I took the phone from him with some trepidation, and was confronted with a voice dripping with impatience. I was told that there was nothing they could do about it and we would just have to pay full price. 

'Well then,' I returned, 'we can't afford it then. We haven't got enough money.' I confess, it was a white-lie. With the money Matt's friends had contributed, we could just run to it, but there was no way I was going to pay that amount. There was no way I was going to let the company rip us off like that. Expecting an argument with the man on the phone, I psyched myself up to stand my ground, reminding myself that the worst they could do was take the pizzas back. At this point in the anecdote, I think it's important you know that I really am no good at standing up for myself!

To my surprise, I received a complete change of tune. 'Let me put you through to someone else.'

The next person told me that there was an offer, that we'd somehow missed, which entitled us to 50% off if we ordered online. He said it would cause him a lot of trouble, but he would put our order through under that offer, thus bringing the price down to £34.50. He hung up abruptly, before I could even return the phone to the pizza delivery guy. We paid up and I wondered if I should tip the pizza delivery guy, who had been nothing but patient and understanding. I think I initially, but wrongfully, attributed my success to him. I didn't tip him, but kept thanking him and apologising for the confusion. 

'Don't worry about it,' he said. 'Have a good night.'

'Nice one, Kess!' Matt said, carrying the pile of pizza boxes into the kitchen. 'Because of you, we paid even less than we expected to!' His friends looked impressed. 

'It was probably because I'm a girl,' I shrugged. It was then that I realised the victory was truly mine. I stood my ground and prevented the pizza company from ripping us off. 

As our order was half price, I was able to return Matt's friends half the money they had given, but Matt was the one to take it off my hands. Apparently it was their contribution towards the beer so I was right in giving the change to Matt.