Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weather again? Really?

I did not want to write about the weather . . . . rather I did not want to complain about the weather.  It forced me home early today.  The constant rain that we have been having is now causing flooding.
What I really wanted to write about is that even though I am forty nine years old, I still feel like an awkward teenager from time to time.  I still feel like that gangly, ungraceful and slighty bookish kid that doesn't hang out with the cool kids.  Now that I have years of social interactions under my belt, I know that if I just pretend that I've got loads of confidence, I'll be just fine.  The casual observer can not tell the difference between actual confidence and pretend confidence. Thankfully the old feelings of awkwardness don't come to visit very often and I am graced with actual confidence.  I can even do public speaking with out any hiccups. But every once and a while, I will get a little knock back.  I would really like to not have those feelings anymore thank you. 
I also saw two beautiful Whooper swans fly past my car.  I don't think I will ever stop marvelling at swans in flight.  As beautiful as those birds are in the water, to me they are even more spectacular in flight.   There was also a huge mega formation of Barnacle geese.  The weather has blown the geese from the fields near the sea, to areas further in-land.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Delicate Flower

Now I get to add something else to the list of things I'm allergic to . . . Brazil nuts, red ant bites and now . . . eye makeup.
This is exactly what happened to my skin!  Puffy red skin - not good on ones face - that goes a little flaky later.

I don't know which product is the culprit as I use a number of things . . .  mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, Touche eclait . . . .please don't let it be the touche eclait! 

It all has to go!  I will reintroduce items back one at a time after the skin has returned to normal. I have to stop wearing all of it for a while until my red puffy eyelids feel better.   Then get hypo-allergenic stuff to replace the makeup that I can no longer wear.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bowling Night

I'm off to try to win back the bowling trophy that I had to hand back last year.  I am sure I would be a better bowler if I went more than once a year.  I am also falling on the excuse that my back went out last year and was on high doses of codeine and paracetamol.  I'm fine this year.

The trophy isn't as grand as this one, but it is fought for just the same.

I have a bowling trophy up in the attic that belonged to my grandfather.  I wish I knew the story behind it.

It is still howling out there.  I am going to take the train into Carlisle and wind seldom upsets train times.  Let's just hope those aren't famous last words!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Violent Storm Force 11 to Hurricane Force 12

It has been a bit breezy here the past couple of days.   Last night was a real window rattler.

On Wednesday night I was late coming home.  I was out having coffee with my pals and time got away from me.  As I crawled into bed, the clock radio on my bedside table was still on and the Shipping Forecast was
being sent out.   The man on the BBC said that in some shipping areas, the seas were violent storm force 11 to hurricane force 12!  I had never heard those numbers before! The shipping areas that were supposed to get the worst weather were further up north, shipping areas SE Iceland, Faeroes, Fair Isle, Viking.  So I knew we were in for some wind but the worst weather was further north.

Beaufort wind scale Mean Wind Speed Limits of wind speed Wind descriptive terms Probable wave height in metres* Probable maximum wave height in metres* Seastate Sea descriptive terms
Knots ms-1 Knots ms-1
0 0 0 <1 <1 Calm - - 0 Calm (glassy)
1 2 1 1–3 1-2 Light air 0.1 0.1 1 Calm (rippled)
2 5 3 4–6 2-3 Light breeze 0.2 0.3 2 Smooth (wavelets)
3 9 5 7–10 4-5 Gentle breeze 0.6 1.0 3 Slight
4 13 7 11–16 6-8 Moderate breeze 1.0 1.5 3–4 Slight–Moderate
5 19 10 17–21 9-11 Fresh breeze 2.0 2.5 4 Moderate
6 24 12 22–27 11-14 Strong breeze 3.0 4.0 5 Rough
7 30 15 28–33 14-17 Near gale 4.0 5.5 5–6 Rough–Very rough
8 37 19 34–40 17-21 Gale 5.5 7.5 6–7 Very rough–High
9 44 23 41–47 21-24 Severe gale 7.0 10.0 7 High
10 52 27 48–55 25-28 Storm 9.0 12.5 8 Very High
11 60 31 56–63 29-32 Violent storm 11.5 16.0 8 Very High
12 - - 64+ 33+ Hurricane 14+ - 9 Phenomenal

It got pretty breezy here and we lost a few panes of glass on the greenhouse . . . again.  I will admit that I'm getting weary of replacing that glass.  I'm going to have to find a solution to this re-glazing problem.

Some of the dive club members were across in Eyemouth this morning.  I don't know if the sea was calm enough for them to get in or not.  I prefer smooth, calm water but that isn't always what I have.  The roughest sea I'll consider entering is about 5.  There is some footage around somewhere of me jumping into a sea that isn't overly calm.  I'll try to put it up here.

Once you're under the water, it isn't so bad, it is just the getting in and out safely that's the tricky part.  That and trying to to get sea sick. 

At a quiz night a few years ago, The Man of the Place and I had to label a map showing all the shipping areas around the British Isles.  We got some of the labels right.  I think now we might do a bit better as we're more aware of the sea and which shipping area we are diving in  - mostly Malin.

I don't hear any roaring tonight so I think it is calming down a bit.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ice Dives and Being Thankful

I do not like ice dives.  The coldest water I have been diving in is about 4 centigrade - which is about 39 Fahrenheit.  Any way it is calculated, it's pretty darned cold.  It gives you brain freeze.

It is a shame because this means that I would not willingly go on any expeditions to the Antarctic and would therefore miss seeing sights such as this:

I feel bad for the stupid and slow starfish and sea urchins that froze to death.  I also feel bad for the underwater photographer that had to be under the water to get that shot.

I have a massive crush on the narrator David Attenborough.  He is well outside the age bracket for "men within my age range I might run away with" but he is the lone exception and I adore him.  I would even do an ice dive for him.
It is Thanksgiving in the US.  It still continues to NOT be a holiday over here and I was at work today.  That doesn't mean I am not thankful for all the many many blessings in my life. 

My entire family is still alive and healthy.
I am healthy.
I have a husband of many many years that I love and still loves me.
I have lovely lovely friends.
I am employed.
Diving seems to have taken a larger part of my life as the years roll on and I am thankful for that.  I will continue to enjoy diving until old age and infirmity stop me.

Life isn't perfect, but it is awfully close!   Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Books Can Save

I always loved reading.  It started very early on through the thin, newspapery Scholastic Book Club catalogues handed out to us early on.  I remember ordering Charlie Brown books, bringing the money in a little envelope to school.  It was really thrilling when the book order arrived and I was handed my new books.
This was the first book I read from cover to cover all by myself.  Okay, so it was a comic book, but there were some hard words in there!  It was the first one that wasn't a school reading book (Dick and Jane) or a book that was read to me as a bedtime story.
My first books were like that - comics and childrens stories.  As I grew the books got more sophisticated.
From the time that I was old enough to walk to the library by myself, I always had a stack of library books.  With the junior library card, I could only get four books out at a time.  This mean that I was at the library every week.  I'd check out my limit of books and go home to start reading them.  I loved discovering new books.  A good story was completely engrossing and I would be upset when I reach the end of the book, and the story was over.

I still wonder what happened to Mary, Colin and Dickon at Misselthwaite Manor in The Secret Garden after I finished the book. This is where a good series was invaluable.  The story continues in the next book!  

"Peggy, it's time for dinner!"

 - no response -

"Peggy get down here!  Dinner's ready!"

" . . . okay just a minute" 

Then I clump down to dinner, book in hand. 

"No reading at the dinner table"


I would much rather spend time in Narnia, Middle Earth or 19th Century England.  It was a wonderful escape. I stayed out of trouble and nobody bothered me. It did improve my vocabulary - to the point where somebody in my 5th grade said that I talked like a professor.  Note to my 10 year old self - dumb down the language for classmates or they will think you're weird.

It mystified me that none of my children were ever big readers.  I thought all kids liked to read, but then we didn't have Nintendo back in the olden days.  I tried to get the boys to like books more - but you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink!
I read to them endlessly, starting with books that I liked when I was their age.  They did like bedtime stories, but that was kind of it.  It was scouring for a new lure into the world of reading for my youngest that I picked up the first Harry Potter book.  I had become aware of the publicity around these new books for children and got the first one to read to my little boy..  I started reading him a chapter a night . 

After the second night of reading the book, I marked the spot where we had finished, tucked the book under my arm and went into the living room to read more on my own.  I then had to manage two bookmarks for a couple of days.  Then I went on to the second book while still reading the first book to George.

I think at this point there were only three Harry Potter books in the series.  So, after ripping through the initial published works, I had to wait for Ms Rowling to finish writing the next in the series.

I read books that aren't childrens books. I have shelves and shelvesof them but for some reason it is these first books that hold a special place in my life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 22nd

Today is Gordon's birthday.  He's 18.  We have been neighbours for almost his entire life.  I certainly remember being in next door's kitchen on the day of his first birthday when he was making his first wobbly steps across the floor.

Gordon is in the blue shirt. My youngest son George is in the red shirt.  Those boys have been friends their whole lives. 

They really didn't have a choice about being friends.  We were the nearest neighbours to Gordon's family out here in the countryside and George and Gordon are a mere eight weeks apart in age.  The friendship was forced upon them.  
They are very different in personality and interests, but have always managed to be friends anyway.  We've got a lot of memories wrapped up in the two of them together.

Horsing around on the hills above Gordon's family farm . . . .


and family holidays

I don't have any recent photos of the two of them together . . . I'll try to get one this Christmas.

In the meantime - Happy 18th Gordon!  I love you!

Territorial Fish!

Whenever a shark attacks a human it is sensational headline news.  It would make news, sharks can kill people and sometimes do.  Almost always a shark is going for somebody on the surface of the water; swimmers, snorkelers and surfers.  They rarely ever go for divers.  I guess we aren't acting like a food source.

There are some things under the sea that will attack divers, especially if divers are blundering near their nest.

Such was the case in August when we were in Egypt.  This beautiful Titan triggerfish systematically went for each and every diver in our group. The above footage was shot by a person in that dive group.  Me and my family managed to stay out of the way of the camera.  My husband and son were canny enough to move further out into the blue when the attacks started and viewed the whole scene with interest.  I was grateful that when he went for divers, including me, he kept his attention on fins.  If he had bitten any other part, we would have needed stitches.  They have hard coral biting mouths.

I have a nick out of my fin now.  I kind of like that.  It reminds me of a beautiful dive in warm water and of a very territorial fish we saw.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I keep them. Once somebody has made it through the friendship door, you get to stay.  We don't have to agree on everything - sometimes we don't agree on much.  But what we do have is friendship and I sure do value that!

A few people have drifted out of my life that I wish were still around.  Mostly I have been very good at finding people who can put up with me and my little eccentricities. I'm pretty good at keeping in touch.
In the past couple of years, I've found two friends from grade school. These are friends I had when we lived in Bismarck and it was the 60's!!  I am seated in the front row on the far right (glasses).  My friend Beth is in a cute dress with a Peter Pan collar, seated third from the right. 
I particularly love this one!  We are sitting on the back porch of our old house in Bismarck.  My good friend Janice is the one with the hair as black as a crow's wing.  You can see that the house behind us is constructed of logs!  Lodgepole pine!  I miss that house and I miss my friend.  I haven't seen Beth or Janice since we were children.
Here is another good one.   It is my wedding day in 1992 and I'm surrounded by my dear dear friends from college.  The only person I am not in contact with is Sarah in the red dress. Nobody knows where she has gone. I pray she is happy.

Over the years I have made a few friends through work.  Some have become real friends, not just work colleagues that I quite like.

Now that I have been in the dive club for a while, some of these reprobates have become more than just diving buddies, they're friends.

So, if we were friends at some point and you were unsure about contacting me because you fear I won't remember you, you're nuts!  Of course I will remember you!  I have probably been wondering what ever happened to you and will be delighted to be in contact again!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Easy Sunday

This is the first Sunday in a while that I have not been out diving. 

Although I love diving, it is nice to have a real rest and get things done around the house - or not.
Pets appreciate a nice fire.

Though I didn't do much, I did get the bathrooms cleaned and the floors vacuumed.  I like them to sparkle and the have really sparkled in a while. 
The Man of  the Place worked on wallpaper and paint.  I made cups of coffee and other domestic support things.   The above room used to be our living room with the TV and sofa.  That has moved to another room.  I have plans to move the dining table in here.  I don't know if we'll actually USE the room once it becomes a dining room.  We shall see.  He is getting closer to the finish line with it and doing a fine job.  A big shout out to The Man of the Place for spending a good chunk of his week off work to do this job!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Luggage Madness

I am going to have a little rant here. WHY do people over pack? It is maddening!! Suitcases are getting bigger and bigger. They're the size of coffins as it is! When will it all end?

This is how suitcases used to look.

Nobody used to complain about those. The worst thing that happened was that it would get confused with the others that looked just like it. You got everything you really needed in there and didn't really miss anything did you?

I have waited to check in while the over packers remove stuff from their suitcases.  The airlines are going to charge them for excess baggage (which can be very expensive).  The over-packers don't have the money to pay the charges and they have to get on that flight.  It must be humiliating for them. Some of these oversize suitcases aren't designed well enough or are sturdy enough to carry the weight that the size suggests they can carry. If these behemoths are packed to capacity they will fall apart. The baggage-claim area is a great leveler. I've seen over packers in baggage-claim areas upset because their suitcase zips have split, the wheels have pinged off and the handles have come away in their hands

This is a photo of an offensively huge suitcase. In my own private world, you could only use this if; 1) you are going away for the entire summer 2) leaving your spouse 3) you're emigrating 4) your diving equipment is in there. You can't use a suitcase of this size if you are going away for a week. Don't even think about using this case if you're going away for the weekend!

quote from my mom -

"Oh, I HATE those things! It was a sad day when they put wheels on suitcases. When the day comes that I can't carry what I need in one small, light bag, I'm gonna either quit travelling or hire a bearer...."

You think these people were going away for months on The Grand Tour of Europe. However, they're only going for a week or less. Geeze, get a grip! You can't really need all that junk!

This is an example of a normal modern suitcases. I'm not putting in an ad for suitcases, this photo just had the best examples.
The larger suitcase in the above photo is what The Man of The Place and I share for our annual vacation. We do go to hot places where lots of warm clothing isn't needed. We like to save our luggage allowance for the diving gear. The smaller one is a perfect weekend size and is fine for carry on. Now please don't think the larger blue case is okay for carry on. Its just too big.

I pride myself in not being an over packer - It is actually very nice to travel without all that stuff along.  That's me holding my luggage for two weeks (packed)!  I will say that I did have diving equipment in another case - but that little green case holds my clothes and toiletries for the holiday.  I had one pair of shoes  - on my feet and that was it!  I didn't miss anything and I wore each item I brought along.  I didn't even have to run to a store to get something that I had forgotten and needed.

I'm just hoping beyond hope that at least one over packer will see this and re-think what they need to bring along next time.

reprinted and modified from an entry I wrote in 2006

Friday, November 18, 2011

Good Value

Diving equipment can be expensive.  We try to cut corners where we can.  Some things like a new drysuit which can run to over £1000.  We won't spend that much, but it is easily done.  We will buy second hand diving equipment from eBay when we can  I have been pleased with almost everything we've had from those auctions.

A number of years ago, I needed a new dive watch.  The one that I had died just before we were due to go on a dive trip. Water got in the watch - and salt water and watch works just don't make good companions.  It was just after a battery change - done at a jewelers that reported to test the security of the seals if they change the battery of a dive watch - that my watch had died.  

We were going on a trip very soon and I needed a watch that I could take with me under the sea.  Just out of curiosity, I looked in the catalogue of the local supermarket.  They had a Lorus Sport Watch, rated to 100 meters for about £12 pounds.  Whoo hoo!  Even if it only lasts a short time, it is a better price than the near £300 that the dive shop is asking for a watch of a similar rating.

It was near Christmas, so I bought one for me and one for The Man of the Place.    This is a photo of the very watches I bought .  Mine is on the left - with a dead battery.  When the battery died, I was given the loan of the one on the right, his watch.   The loaner watch misted up with condensation a few weeks ago and in the wee hours of this morning, died.  

I'll get another battery for mine but I'm afraid that the other watch is dead.  I can't complain too much.  We've had very good service out of those watches for not a lot of money.  I am now  watchless until I can find time to get a new battery for my watch.  My left hand feels weird and there is a white bar across the wrist.  I feel adrift without a watch.  I may look at new watches - as serviceable as those watches are, they are NOT very feminine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dirty Car Season

Before dinner, I was out washing our cars.  They get REALLY dirty this time of year. 

It's hard to keep them clean, especially when we live out here.  There is always mud and more organic material on the road to our house.

Let me tell you know, once that stuff has dried onto your car it  is STICKY!  Presoaking is required.

I have been washing my car by hand instead of running it through the car wash.  I'm doing this for two reasons: 1. I won't charge myself any money to clean the car. 2.I've got a brand new car and car wash brushes can scratch the finish on cars. 

The drawback is that I will miss bits.  I like to leave the car to dry after washing it - then go back an hour or so later, find the muddy spots I missed early and wipe them clean.     I missed some bits on Saturday and didn't go back to check - it was too dark to check.  I didn't find out I had missed bits until I was somewhere where I couldn't do anything about it.   - bleh

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brace Yourselves

Christmas is coming whether you want it to or not.

When I was at the supermarket the evening of Halloween the worker bees were busy elbowing the pumpkins and packs of fake spiderwebs to one side to make room for . . . .

Christmas stuff

Today as I was driving home I saw this!

The trees are already being cut.  I can't imagine these trees being very fresh in two months time . . . but there you have it.  

I was in a garden centre last week - being drawn in by the dazzling light display.  Artificial trees are very expensive.  There was one that was over £300.  Jeeze.  I live in Scotland.  Small evergreen trees grow wild around here. . . .  Why on earth would I pay so much for a non-needle dropping and non-fragrant artificial tree?  It's a rhetorical question . . . you don't have to answer that.

Christmas is making me anxious this year.  A holiday shouldn't produce anxiety.  I wish we could go away again as we did in 2007 but we can't do that either.  

This particular blog entry is designed to manage the expectations of my family and friends.  I have very few resources.  There is precious little time or money to devote to Christmas this year.  It doesn't mean that I don't like Christmas, I do!  I love giving gifts and making things lovely for the top winter holiday.    In the past when I was cash poor, I had the luxury of making things ahead of time.  I used creativity instead of cash . . . . but now I can't even do that.   Full time job with extra requests for productivity until the end of December.

I'll see what I can do.  I'm sure I'll come up with something.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Time for New Jeans

The last time I was really happy with jeans that I bought was about 8 years ago when I was in Arizona.  I went a shopping mall in Scottsdale and bought some clothes.  I bought two pairs of good jeans from Eddie Bauer. They were made of nice heavy denim and have taken some hard wear.  The first of those pair died after four years.  Now the second pair is dying.  The holes are too big and will need to be patched OR the garment thrown away. 

I hate to throw them away because there is nothing in the wardrobe that can really take their place.  I have jeans, but the material is thin and I know they will not last a year let alone eight!

I do not want stone washed, acid washed or distressed jeans.  I don't want to buy jeans that look second hand, I want new ones.  I want the jeans of my youth, the cardboard stiff kind that shrink to fit and turn your legs blue. I want the kind that have to be washed separately for months or it will turn your laundry blue.

When those are new, they can be worn with anything and look just about perfect with a white shirt.  Years later when they have worn to a soft, sky blue they have earned a place in your heart.  You have done some living in those jeans, created memories while wearing them. 

They were what you wore on first dates and when you went camping.  You were wearing them when you caught the biggest fish of the day, changed a tyre for the first time and all those times you walked the dog.  They are also the jeans you wore to work, to the fairground and moving to a new place. They can take what life deals out!

Years later when the holes in the knee were too big, they became cut-offs.  Cut offs for me only ever lasted one summer - by the time the next summer rolled around, I had out grown them. 
I used to give myself enough in-seam to roll the legs of the cut-offs up.  I did this because as the summer wore on and the raw edge of the denim frayed, the fringe tickled. I also didn't like the front pockets sticking out past the legs of the shorts.

I know from experience that these shrink-to-fit jeans will fit you better than any other jeans you will ever own and even if you don't have much of a backside, your butt will look better in those jeans than anything else you will ever own.  Why oh why are those so hard to find?  Is there no longer a market for jeans that will last for years and fit great?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Portencross Castle

I was out of the house by 6 this morning. This was the third Sunday in a row that I've dragged my carcass into the car to go diving. The weather on these Sundays hasn't been that bad actually.  No wind to speak of and mild temperatures.  Today had actual periods of sunshine!

06:45 saw me at the Whitesands car park in Dumfries just as the sun was coming up.   There is the use a club member's small van and a rather large king cab truck.  We crammed all our bodies, lunches and gear into these two vehicles and made our merry way up the coast to Ayrshire.

We were hoping to dive near the wreck of the SS Kintyre just at Wemyss Bay.  That didn't work out.

It was decided that the sandstone rock into the sea held too large a risk for some of our members.  The rocks were pretty greasy.  I don't know how we would have made it out of the water after the dive. There were loads of eider ducks bobbing in the water near this site and it looks beautiful. I'd like to go back to this site in a boat.  So we followed the plan to the next alternative site.

South of Largs and near Seamill is Portencross Castle.  It is a delightful dive site!  
 We were really really lucky with weather today.  The water was like a mill pond most of the day.  There is an easy easy easy entry into the sea and loads of interesting sea life in the rocks once you get your head below the water. Thousands of starfish, sea urchins and enough crabs (four varieties identified) to start a small revolution.  The only drawback to this site is that it is pretty shallow - we struggled to get to 10 meters during high tide.  To get any further depth a diver will find themselves out in the channel where the current starts to really pump.   I had a trainee with me so we stayed shallow, looked at all the sea life and had two delightful dives.  I saw at least one nudibranch - a Sea Hare - and I spotted a crop of blue-rayed limpets on some kelp.
The dive plan on the second dive was to allow the current to carry us south past the castle.  In theory it would carry us to the rocks right where the van and truck were parked in the car park near the castle.   I was overly cautious and didn't let the current carry us far enough.  When we came up, the trainee and I had a bit of a swim to the exit point.  Wasn't too terrible though.  I can imagine it would be dangerous/ impossible if there was any sort of surge or waves.  I will tell you that it is rough hauling out of the water onto barnacle covered rock and schlepping dive gear over to the grass.
It was a great day out - full of laughter and camaraderie.

I love diving and I love the dive club.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Early Morning Starts

Quite often on a Sunday morning I am getting in the car to meet up with the men and women of the Dumfries Sub Aqua Club. 

Come November, the early morning starts seem to be a lot earlier.  It is dark when I am loading up the car the night before and still dark when I get in the car.  It is dark again by the time I roll home at the end of the day.  It makes me appreciate those glorious long summer days all the more.

I distinctly remember hefting an air cylinder into the car at five in the morning, looking up to the dark sky and seeing snowflakes start to come down. When it gets as cold as that, I will now pack a hot water bottle wrapped in a big towel.  This keeps my change of clothes warm for most of the day AND if anybody in the group has a hypothermia situation, I've got a hot water bottle already primed.  Some of us feel the cold more than others.

I'm not at the pack the hot water bottle stage just yet . . . . but just as day follows night, December follows November and the hot water bottle will be pressed into service again.

We may be diving here tomorrow:

Wemyss Bay.  (pronounced "weems" bay.)

Let's hope the sea conditions stay as calm as they are right now.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day/Remembrance Day

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of November, the eleventh month.   We shall always remember. . . .

My favourite veteran is my son Ian.
Here his is in Iraq.  He was in one of the first units across the border from Kuwait into Iraq.  They went straight into the teeth of a sand storm.
All the photographs from that storm are red.  That's the colour the world gets in a sand storm.  Letters that Ian sent from that time were actually a bit gritty.  The sand that blows is a lot finer than ordinary sand.  It gets everywhere.   I'm glad he's far from it now. It was a nightmare time. I didn't sleep particularly well but I knew that it was always worse for my boy.  I was and still am ferociously proud of him.

I held Ian as a baby and prayed that he would never be sent to war.  I said that prayer for each of my three sons.  I prayed that they would never be soldiers.  It is the selfish prayer of a mother who only has the welfare of her boy at heart.  I don't care about what causes war, I just don't want my son in it!  I had said that prayer again when walking through the a US cemetery in Normandy near the landing beaches while looking at all the acres of white crosses. 

We were in France on a family vacation. As my children wandered through the grounds of the big cemetery at Omaha Beach, I thought of all the things a mother says to their child;  Eat your vegetables, say "thank you", elbows off the table, brush your teeth,  have you done your homework, don't put beans in your nose . . . . the thousands of things you say and do to make sure they get through childhood and into adulthood as healthy, polite, educated and productive citizens.   The men in these graves all had parents who bandaged knees, taught manners, gave music lessons to, cooked endless meals, and lectured until they were blue in the face only to have a telegram to say that with the deepest regret their son has died.   

We were lucky, my son came back.  He is now an actual war veteran, something I had never wanted for him. 

He's out of the army now and happily married to a lovely lovely woman.  Worrying that he is in mortal danger is now a thing of the past. 

Today is about remembering those who weren't so lucky. Your sacrifice is honoured.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Poor Poor Me

Taking one day off work due to illness is quite common. You feel a bit shite and call in. The next day, you feel better and go back to work. It happens all the time.

What happens if on the second day, you still feel rubbish? You take a second day off work. Eyebrows go up. It is well past 4:30 on Thursday and it still hurts to swallow and cough. I've drunk nothing but infusions of herbs, flowers and other comforting things that are supposed to help. I've had loads of rest and watched all the programmes on The Monkey Channel (Animal Planet).  The viewing has  had an odd side effect;  I now realize that I need to go to the Philippines and see their pygmy sea horses.

It is starting to look like I'll be taking tomorrow off as well. I would really rather be at work. I have a whole week full of things to do that will now have to be crammed into what's left of my week. I can see any bonuses I might have earned for the month and even the quarter (piling on the doom because I feel crap) floating away from me.

I'm not the sort of person to just call in sick because its a beautiful day, Wimbledon is being broadcast or my husband is off for the day and he wants me by his side. I'd like to be the sort of person who has spurious duvet days, but I'm not.  That work ethic is there in my basic make up and won't be ignored.

This is the thing. I'm a salesperson. I call on doctors. It really puts customers off if one coughs on them. I don't want my customers to feel like they need to treat me. I must be or have the appearance of being in perfect health all the time.

I had my flu shot on Monday.  The Man of the Place and I both came down with flu last year.  Rather, I had the flu and my beloved had a near-death experience.  I was in my bed for about a day and then "did stuff around the house" until I felt like I could face the public once more and he claimed to be on the verge of hospitalisation when he started showing symptoms.  He may have had a different strain to me (Aren't I charitable?), but from where I stood, we had the same strain and he was a delicate flower who couldn't take it and I was the person from hardy stock who just got on with things.

I do not think that my illness and the flu shot are in any way connected. It's just that when I'm feeling unwell, I start to think about this stuff.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

I'm Diving a Whole Lot

The weather in Scotland is going from bad to worse.  Every year the summers are getting progressively colder and wetter.  I am all set to give up on trying to grow anything in the garden or even to mow the lawn!  It's been too wet to cut the grass for weeks.  I was talking about this to my dear neighbours and it was said that our standards have been so lowered that we think ourselves lucky if we get three dry days together.

Coast near Lady Bay, Stranraer
So, what can you do instead?  Go diving!  I started the year with 96 dives under my belt.  I have been diving each and every month this year.  I'm up to 148 dives now. I hit the century dive in the first week of February.  I was just looking at the dive log and the water temperature was 6 degrees!  Yuck.  I also note that my current log book is almost full.  I have two pages left!

It must be said that the freezing February dive was in a fresh water quarry and we were doing some training.  I don't like diving in water as cold as that.  When I first joined the Dumfries Sub Aqua Club, I was firm about no very cold water dives.  This has relaxed and I'll dive in pretty much all temperatures.  However, I do draw the line if there is actual ice on the surface of the water.  It's no fun then.

In the spring the weather was lovely for a bit and the visibility in the sea was really quite good.  This encouraging bit of weather soon settled back into a pattern of almost constant rain.  It was particularly frustrating for members of the dive club with boats.  They haven't had the boats out much.

The dive club went on a trip to Malta in April.  That was fun!  I'll write about that week away later on this month.

The job situation picked up for me in April when I was hired by a new company.   This was all the excuse we needed to book a two week family holiday to Egypt.  We love diving in the Red Sea!  I managed to squeeze in 23 dives in the two weeks we had there.  I was often the first in the water and last to get out.  I wanted to squeeze every last drop of dive time in that clear, warm water that I could.

It is now November, days are getting very short.  I have my memories of warm dives in sunny locations to sustain me through the long winter ahead.