Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Watching The Storm Go Out To Sea

I love this time of the year so much that my heart turns cartwheels! Today is Midsummer's Day, or the first day of summer if you like, and it doesn't matter what the weather does - it's just good to feel warm! 

On Saturday the storm clouds gathered, and let rip some thunder and lightning before Spud and I set out. The storm passed over fairly quickly, but it was heading East as we were, and soon caught up with us! 

We joined up with some friends from Bible camp for one of our annual rallies. This was the last rally before camp and it always includes a beach trip. When we first stepped onto the sand, the sun emerged, and for a few glorious minutes we put down our bags and coats, and made ourselves comfortable. We were aware of the dark mass of cloud in the distance, growing gradually closer, and quickly assessed the availability of cover. There were several shelters on the promenade, the nearest of which just a short run away. 

The moment Spud and I felt the first drops of rain, we fastened our jackets, pulled up our hoods and ran in that direction. We found space on the bench beneath the shelter, and huddled together as the rain started to fall in a torrent. Soon everyone was safely under cover, and it was very atmospheric - a good reminder of what the wettest days at camp can be like, but hopefully not an omen of the kind of weather we're likely to experience when camp week comes rolling around!

I knew it was our storm the moment the thunder boomed, and my heart leapt (you remember how much I love storms?) This was accompanied by a flash of lightning, which was later visible as it streaked across the sky, above the sea. The storm didn't last long. Each roll of thunder was fainter than the last. The rain ceased and the younger campers, eager to return to the beach, left cover. Spud and I remained there, with a few of the other camp leaders, and watched the storm clouds roll out to sea, soon just a smudge of grey on the horizon. 

The weather cleared up and his been perfect ever since. The sunlight has painted the whole world golden, the showers are delightfully refreshing, and the wind is a warm hand combing my hair and brushing my face tenderly. I love all the seasons, but there's something particularly special about this time of the year...

Sunday, 19 June 2011

The Promise of an Angel

The Promise of an Angel is the first novel in the Heaven on Earth series by Ruth Reid. It tells the story of Judith Fischer, who has dreamed all her life of marrying and raising a family. On the eve of her nineteenth birthday, Judith’s brother suffers a terrible accident for which Judith feels responsible for. But when she arrives on the scene of the accident she discovers an angel standing over her brother. This encounter changes the course of her life, and Judith finds herself an outcast in a community reluctant to believe the truth.

I didn’t get into the novel immediately. My first impression was that Reid launched too quickly into the plot, and I couldn’t see how the action could drag on for another 250 pages. This perspective was changed though. I soon warmed to the characters, and the twists and turns in the plot kept me turning the pages.

I thought the author brought the Christian message into the storyline very well, and presented a very true picture of the hardships of faith. Judith is tested and persecuted for her faith, but learns the essence of prayer and trust as she waits for God to unfold his plan for her and her family. I was also fascinated by the author’s descriptions of life in an Amish community. I got the impression that Ruth Reid had experienced firsthand what life the Amish way must be like, because she painted a really vivid picture of this in The Promise of an Angel.

This was very enjoyable, and I’m sure I will read the next instalment, Brush of Angel Wings, when it is released next year.

I review for BookSneeze®

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Curing the Moon Blues

I'm sure most women are familiar with the "Moon Blues" (you know, the ones that occur once a month - I felt like being creative and coining a new phrase). When these occur, we need a few little comforts and pick-me-ups to keep going. Here are my tips:

1) Run a hot bubble bath, get in and... drown yourself. Only joking. That's what I felt like doing today when I was feeling particularly lousy. Well, not really, but I did submerge completely for a while (apart from my nose and mouth - the water wasn't deep enough) and found this really relaxing. Being under water shut out all the background noise. I felt like I was on a higher plane of sorts and this enabled me to really think and get to the core of the tumult of emotions I experienced today. When I resurfaced I felt a lot better. Both my sore muscles and my hormones improved for having a good soak. 

2) Do an activity you enjoy. For me this was typing up some short stories and a poem. These are all recent works and I've barely had time to give them the attention they needed. Typing them up was a very therapeutic task and I enjoyed engaging with my rushed first drafts and developing them further still. Doing something I considered productive made me feel great! Listening to some of my CDs while I did this also cheered me up. 

3) Treat yourself to a favourite snack. Today I bought myself some yoghurt coated fruity flakes, with the intention of taking them along to work in the mornings and eating them for breakfast, as it's too early to eat much at that time. I love yoghurt, and I love dried fruit, so these elements combined were like a taste of heaven! I also made myself a pot of tea, and later I had a little chocolate to perk me up (chocolate always works!)

4) Talk to a sympathetic (female) friend. Men never have and probably never will understand Moon Blues. Probably all they notice (if anything at all) is that we're sometimes rattier than usual (I know I can be sometimes). I've found the best way to vent how I'm feeling, is to talk to a close friend who has seen me at my best and at my worst, and is willing to accept me all the same. Females are the best for this, because obviously they can empathise, having been through this themselves. And also, we women like to talk about these sorts of things, don't we?

5) Finally, I turn in early and take time to unwind before bed to ensure a good night's sleep. I almost always feel better the morning after, and ready to turn over a new leaf and start again. 

And that, my friends, is how I deal with my Moon Blues. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

When I Fell in Love

When my mother lifted the borrowed viola out of its case, time seemed to stand still. She raised the bow and gently drew it across the strings, the note penetrating the quiet of the room and piercing my soul. The sound was imperfect as my mother hasn't been playing for long, but it still held me captivated. When she had finished my brother intervened, but he handled the viola with roughness, carelessness. 

"May I?" I begged, holding out my hands to receive the wooden instrument, but it was a further few minutes before he surrendered it to me. 

I copied my mother's pose as best I could, resting the base beneath my chin. The position felt awkward, and all the more so when my mother corrected me, but the sound the viola produced when the bow grazed against the strings was heavenly. My left arm ached, and the bow felt far to long for me, but I loved every moment. 

I have wanted to learn the violin for so many years, and my few minutes on the viola was, I believe, the start of something. It gave me an idea of how to handle the instrument and how challenging it will be to learn, but overall the experience inspired me not to give up on my dream. One of these days I will learn. 

Friday, 3 June 2011

A l'Hopital

Spud and I spent three hours in A&E today because he was showing symptoms of Endocarditism, which he is currently susceptible to. We were fairly sure he was fine and intended only to visit the Walk-in Centre, but because Spud suffers from a congential heart condition, the hospital pulled out all the stops for him and referred him to A&E. It seems having a congenital heart condition equates to an instant VIP ticket into the NHS.

So within minutes of arriving, we found ourselves sitting in A&E, and I don't mean just the waiting room, but inside the emergency ward itself! We felt rather out of place in the midst of the bustle of doctors and patients covered in blood or strapped up to heart monitors, but Spud was seen to fairly quickly. He was placed on a gurney and given an ECG in the corridor, and a few minutes later moved into a room when one became available. He was then attached to a heart monitor, and we were left to our own devices for several minutes.

A nurse kindly offered us a much appreciated drink, and a junior doctor had a good long chat with Spud to find out more about his symptoms and his condition. Spud's main concern was the heavy breathing he's experienced the last few evenings, on occasions when he's been fairly inactive. He was eventually given a blood test, and while we awaited the results he was taken through for a chest x-ray. At this point I had to leave and buy another ticket for the car, and as we didn't think he would be in for much longer, we agreed that I would wait for him in the waiting room.

I waited another hour. I wasn't all that anxious as I knew he was in good hands and that it was unlikely that anything was wrong. I had a book to distract me from my overractive imagination. Eventually he came out, his eyes scanning the crowded room until they fell on me. I was relieved to see him, and glad to find that he had been given the all clear, but it did cross my mind that this is one of many hospital visits I am likely to attend with him. I know a lot about Spud's condition from what he's told me and from doing my own research. I know that it is fruitless to worry about his future, our future, as he can live a long and normal life despite the severity of his condition. And I don't often worry these days as I know he's receiving the treatment and advice he needs.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Super Brother

I am on a week's holiday leave, and I've used the time to return home and visit my family. Spud and I have been here a few days now and we're having a lovely time, catching up with various friends and family members. My parents went on a romantic get away for two nights, and returned today.

Last night I had Dearest Friend and Darling Girl over for a meal and some DVDs. I cooked Chicken Korma, and so created rather a lot of washing up. It was late when my guests left, and by that point I was too tired to clear everything away, so I left it until the morning. However, when I got up I found the washing up had diminished completely, with a exception of a few pots and pans, and my brother Dave doing up the drying up! When I expressed my gratitude he pointed out that I had made him dinner the night before, and that before leaving home I was always the one who did the washing up, but all the same, this was something I hadn't expected!

Both my brothers have matured a lot over the last year. Perhaps it's the prospect of the coming changes - one off to university and the other going to sixth-form college. I have to say, I'm very proud of the two young men who are beginning to emerge!