Thursday, 25 December 2014

Happy Christmas

 Good morning and a Happy Christmas!

The dinner is prepared and the meat in the oven.  Presents will shortly be opened.  
This year our preparations have been in two stages.  An early beginning when I was well ahead of where I needed to be and then (because of a spell in bed) a last minute panic.  The cards got sent out on the day of Royal Mail's deadline at the weekend.  On Tuesday Partner-who-loves-tea and I went to the three local supermarkets (Aldi, Tesco, and Sainsburys) and bought them.  I don't mean that we made purchases - I mean we bought them.  Or that is how it seemed.  While in Tesco's we met a friend who has a husband, children and about twelve grandchildren.  In her trolley she had seven items.  Our trolley had splayed wheels because of the weight and was overflowing leaving a trail of items.  There is something wrong when that happens.  A trip to the bank sorted an additional mortgage to pay for it all.   Getting home was OK but to comply with the car's handbook we should really have pumped up the back tyres by a few psi because of the additional weight....  

The tree was late going up but it is there now and the presents are wrapped and safely underneath it.

Doesn't one of our US friends wrap her gifts beautifully - the ones with the big red ribbon. What is in there is hardly important when the attention to wrapping shows such love.

Friend-uber-special sent us a Vintage Shiny-brite for the tree and every year when we put it on we shall think of her and her husband.   

And this year we have also added a Christmas pickle!

In the 1880s Woolworth stores started selling glass ornaments imported from Germany and some were in the shape of various fruit and vegetables. It seems that pickles must have been among the selection!  Around the same time it was claimed that the Christmas Pickle was a very old German tradition and that the pickle was the last ornament hung on the Christmas tree and then the first child to find the pickle got an extra present. However, this seems to be a total myth! Not many people in Germany have even heard of the Christmas Pickle!
There is an equally unlikely story linked to St. Nicholas. It's a medieval tale of two Spanish boys travelling home from a boarding school for the holidays. When they stopped at an inn for the night, the evil innkeeper killed the boys and put them in a pickle barrel. That evening, St. Nicholas stopped at the same inn, found the boys in the barrel and miraculously bought them back to life!  But it is most likely that an ornament salesmen, with a lot of spare pickles to sell, invented the legend of the Christmas Pickle!

It has been such a mild winter so far that the birds are nesting – or at least this one from New Jersey is…

We will have to make such the squirrel doesn’t get the eggs.

We also put up two new decorations that we had bought ourselves.  We usually get one or two new ones each year. 

Lots of Love to you all...

Friday, 5 December 2014

Rambling towards Christmas

Yes, I know it is nearly Christmas and I should be getting the decorations down from the loft, writing cards and thinking about meals rather than writing posts for Rambles.  But what I should do and what I end up doing have often run in parallel lines rather than met and run as one….

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman
‘The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman’ by Denis Theriault translated by Liedewy Hawke (2014) was originally published in French in 2005 as ‘Facteur emotif’. 

Swirling like water
against rugged rocks,
time goes round and round.

“Bilodo was an unusual postman.
Among the thousands of soulless pieces of paper he delivered on his rounds, he occasionally came across a personal letter – a less and less common item in this era of email, and all the more fascinating for being so rare.  When that happened, Bilodo felt as excited as a prospector spotting a gold nugget in his pan.  He did not deliver that letter.  Not right away.  He took it home and steamed it open.  That’s what kept him so busy at night in the privacy of his apartment….!
In particular Bilodo is excited by correspondence between a local man and a Guadeloupian girl which consist only of Japanese haiku.   He would have longed to reply to her himself but “Could a humble postman become a poet overnight?  Could an ostrich be expected to start playing the banjo?  Did snails ride bicycles?”
Apparently snails do ride bicycles because an accident causes Bilodo to begin replying to her.  But she thinks he is her original correspondent.  And the haiku turn into impassioned tankas… 

Steamy, sultry night
The moist sheets soft embrace burns
My thighs and my lips
I search for you, lose my way,
I am that open flower.

How will it all turn out?  I’m not telling you!  If you want to know you are going to have to read it.

Quote of  the day
I love my computer.  It has never once asked me how many computers I’ve had before.
My Grumpy Old Man spot
Nowadays one of the high spots of my day is when the mail drops through the letterbox onto the mat.  Will there be postcards from friends?  Will there be postcards from complete strangers as a result of Postcrossing?  Most days there is one or the other; sometimes both and on perhaps one day a fortnight there may be as many as seven or eight.    

Our local postman in the good old days before he took early retirement. 
But what time will the mail drop onto the mat?  Ever since the local postal service stopped having the 'one man one round' system the timing of its arrival has been erratic.  So not only do we not know our postman, because it could be one of a dozen or more on any particular day, but we also don't have a clue as to when the mail is arriving.  It rarely comes in the morning, usually it comes somewhere between noon and three p.m. but on occasion it has been as late 5.40 p.m.   By that time one has generally assumed that there is simply no post today (an unusual circumstance since there is generally someone wanting to bill me or sell me something).  The service is likely to be privatised in the near future and it is as though Royal Mail are doing their best to ensure they have enough dissatisfied customers to lose the contract.  I will deeply regret that.

 This chap seems to have the same round all the time in West Kirby 
(and is very pleasant and helpful when you need directions).   

West Kirby is a township quite close to us.  Why can't we have the same service as West Kirby where we live?  Our postmen don't know the area so not only would they probably be unable to direct a stranger but they also mistake our house for next door and even for the same numbered house in the next road.  They don't know the individual arrangements of the different houses for parcel deliveries.  And some of them seem incapable of finding a doorbell, relying on kicking the door to get one's attention.  When the Bargain Booze lorry is unloading opposite the amount of banging ensures there is no chance of picking out the sound of a postman's boot.  Ah well, moan over........  

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