Pope Francis puts ‘quit whining’ notice on his door – good for him

The Pope has put up a notice on the door to his private quarters telling all comers (presumably cardinals, Vatican staff and sundry religious people)


‘Complaining is Forbidden… To become the best of yourself, you must focus on your own potential and not on your limits. So stop complaining and act to change your life for the better”

Elsewhere he is reported as telling a gathering of the faithful ‘Sometimes there are melancholic Christians with faces like pickled peppers, rather than being joyful for the beautiful life they have’.

I think this may be the kind of expression he had in mind: church leaders see it quite often!

pickled pepper face








But look:  even peppers can be happy!                             happy peppers

In honour of such an excellent message, here is what’s on my study door


I love the double meaning of the final word.


‘Woman of Od’ or ‘funny vicar stories’

I am a ‘woman of od’. Mainly this is because my mobile phone will currently not allow me to tap in the letter ‘g’. If  it doesn’t sort out this (g)litch soon, I will have to (g)et a new one.  So here, while I am a ‘woman of Od’ are some of the slightly more bizarre thin(g)s that have happened recently. (It’s about time this blo(g) cheered up)

One baby: Two ministers

Solomon had his challenge of one baby and two mothers but generally when you go on a baptism visit there might be more than one baby, but usually there is only one minister there.

So it was somewhat of a surprise when on a baptism visit, a mere 10 minutes into my little explanation, I noticed Mum looking out the front window in agitated manner.

I looked at her quizzically.

‘That would be the other minister just turning up’.

The ‘other‘ minister???  I’m sorry? did you say the ‘other minister?’

Now to be fair, we do kind of know that our parishioners might ask around in several places before deciding where to have their child baptised but usually they see the ministers one at a time.

Hilarious! Thank goodness the ‘other minister’ was from a Christian church, it could have been kind of tricky if they’d have been Mormons (do Mormons baptise? I probably ought to know) Anyway, it was the very nice local lady Methodist minister so that was all right then. She and I now have a much clearer understanding of each other’s view on baptism, how very ecumenical.

(In fairness to Mum, it had been her other half who, unbeknown to her, had made the arrangement with the Methodist minister. But Mum gave such a lovely account of God’s presence in her life, either of us would have been delighted to baptise the child).

All good fun!

One congregation: no communion wafers

This was another big ‘oops’ that really ought to have been avoided. I was taking communion ‘by extension’ (which for non-Anglicans means I use bread and wine that has been pre-consecrated by a priest, because I am a mere deacon) and I had got to the bit in the service when I had invited the congregation forward to receive.

‘Receive the body of Christ’ I said as I picked up the ciborium and prepared to lay out the wafers on the paten (Yes, these are the technical terms for the cup that holds the consecrated wafers and the plate we lay them on prior to distribution,  I trust you’re impressed that I know them).

I removed the lid and … (ta da!): Nothing!

Not having enough wafers is sometimes a problem (solution: ‘break ’em in half’ – the wafers that is, not the parishioners). But not having ANY, that was a new one. Now depending on your theology you may believe that ‘something’ happens to the bread and wine when the priest prays over it (the technical term is epiclesis, but it’s more commonly known as ‘magic hands’) . Well clearly I didn’t have any – magic hands, that is. If only I could have put the lid back on, open it again and ‘Lo, there would be wafers’.

Sadly, not. Jesus may have fed the 5,000 with 5 loaves but it took a loud stage whisper, several minutes of faffing about and long dignified silence before I had a ciborium full with wafers. Consecrated ones even! (There was a priest in the building, phew!).

Moral of this story: always check inside the ciborium when you are laying the table.

I like my stories to come in threes but nothing funny  has yet happened at a funeral (and even if it did I’d probably never be allowed to tell. Yes, in case you were worrying, I did have permission from the people involved the other stories) So I’ve had to pinch this final story, it’s probably not true but still very funny.

An inexperienced preacher was to hold a graveside burial service at a pauper’s cemetery for an indigent man with no family or friends. Not knowing where the cemetery was, he made several wrong turns and got lost. When he eventually arrived an hour late, the hearse was nowhere in sight, the backhoe was next to the open hole, and the workmen were sitting under a tree eating lunch.
The diligent young pastor went to the open grave and found the vault lid already in place. Feeling guilty because of his tardiness, he preached an impassioned and lengthy service, sending the deceased to the great beyond in style.
As he returned to his car, he overheard one of the workman say to the other, “I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years and I ain’t never seen anything like that.”

How to write an essay

My mission, now I’ve chosen to accept it is to write 2,000 intelligent words on two passages from Romans.  Here’s my advice on how to write an essay:

First, make yourself comfortable

  • food: essay writing adds a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘living hand to mouth’ . Personally I find a large bag of popcorn is the ideal, low-fat, non-filling, non-sticky snack. The only drawback for popcorn is the little bits that get stuck between the computer keys.
  • Drink: no desk can be said to be a ‘working’ desk without having the current mug of ‘whatever’ and at least 3 other half-empty mugs. If it’s a really long essay, all the mugs in the household will slowly gravitate from the kitchen cupboard to my desk.

Secondly, marshal your resources. The essential items are:

  • reading glasses (there are currently 3 on the desk in front of me, one on the desk behind me and one pair on my nose)
  • glue: one LARGE pot. This is for glueing your backside to the chair.  The secret of getting words onto a page is simply sitting in one place for long enough.
  • pens, pencils, highlighters, erasers, paperclips, stapler, hole-punch, A4 notepad and any other gadgetry that appeals to you from your local stationery store. You won’t need any of these but they are handy things to fiddle with given that you are going to sit in that chair for a long time.
  • Books. Ideally you will have a small mountain of these within reach of your desk. The idea is that you read these BEFORE you sit down to write your essay. You need to include at least one quote from each book in order to justify putting that book in your Bibliography. It is generally accepted that reading the books is the preferred method of finding these quotes but occasionally, if you’re desperate, opening a book at random and sticking a pin in a page can produce surprisingly successful results.

Thirdly, remove distractions:

  • remember that  cleaning the oven floor with a toothbrush can suddenly seem more appealing and important than writing your essay.  Solution: remove oven from house (and toothbrushes?)…. or remove self from house.
  • ditto ‘move  the dog’. If you have to write an essay with the dog in the room you need to be prepared for the fact that he will, without fail, come and lay his head on your lap every two hours and look pitifully neglected.  Try asking him for help, it makes him feel included. Just don’t try to teach him how to spell ‘transubstantiation’ – that would count as a distraction.
  • The biggest distraction of all is the machine you are working on: so update facebook, write your blog, twitter your status, reply to your emails, book that train ticket and do your online shopping BEFORE you get started. Once you are on your way, take a deep breath, put your head down and try not to come up for online interactions until the thing is DONE. You can then reward yourself by posting ‘It’s done. I’ve finished. I’ve written it’ . This will annoy the hell out of anyone else who has to write the same essay. Reminding yourself how satisfying this will be  is a great incentive to keep going.

So here goes, I’ve followed all my own advice, updated the blog, booked the train ticket, I might EVEN turn off my mobile phone but oh dear, while writing this post…..

I’ve finished my bag of popcorn!

Disaster… perhaps I’ll just pop out to Tesco’s? Shouldn’t take too long… 

Cockerpoo Puppy Parade!

We have recently been in touch with the other owners of puppies from the same litter as our beloved Bobby dog. So here is a slideshow of Bobby and his brothers and sisters! 

The puppies are now 10 months old. Their dad was brown miniature poodle and their mum a black and white cocker spaniel. And what an amazing variety of puppies they have produced!

Winnie (the wet dog in the woods and the one bounding along the beach) seems to be the smallest and the one with the most poodle like hair. Our own Bobby doesn’t have very poodle hair and does shed a bit. All owners report happy, mischievous but good-natured dogs. The benefits of this blended breed are intelligence and trainability, but they are also just very cute.

Here (possibly not in this order) are: 

Kiara – sleeping on a bed  Noodles – in the garden, Ted (puppy from 2nd litter) sleeping on sofa and half off bed, Charlie on a red cushion(from 2nd litter), Bobby on a Duvet,  Patch  sitting on sofa, Kiara (black) on the floor, Tascha on the floor x2,  Kiara in snow, Winnie in a field, Winnie close up, Bobby sitting nicely for his photo to be taken,  Bobby having destroyed a toy in 20 minutes ( ‘what do you mean I wasn’t supposed to eat it?’), Alice (puppy from 2nd litter)sitting/lying on green grass. Hope you enjoy the parade.


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And because usually this blog oftens contains weighty spiritual stuff about God (well, okay not that weighty) I’ll end with a joke:

Adam and Eve said, “Lord, when we were in the garden, you walked with us every day. Now we do not see you anymore. We are lonesome here and it is difficult for us to remember how much you love us.”

And God said, “No problem! I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will love me even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourselves.”

And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam and Eve. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased.

And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and Eve and he wagged his tail.

And Adam said, “Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal.”

And God said, “No problem. Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG.”

And Dog lived with Adam and Eve and was a companion to them and loved them. And they were comforted.

And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail.

After a while, it came to pass that an angel came to the Lord and said, “Lord, Adam and Eve have become filled with pride. They strut and preen like peacocks and they believe they are worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught them that they are loved, but perhaps too well.”

And God said, “No problem! I will create for them a companion who will be with them forever and who will see them as they are. The companion will remind them of their limitations, so they will know that they are not always worthy of adoration.”

And God created CAT to be a companion to Adam and Eve.

And Cat would not obey them. And when Adam and Eve gazed into Cat’s eyes, they were reminded that they were not the supreme beings. And Adam and Eve learned humility.

And they were greatly improved.

And God was pleased. And Dog was happy.

And Cat didn’t care one way or the other.

Grumpy old woman? I hope not.

I recently found out that my Wii-fit age is 5 years younger than my actual age and a whole ten years younger than David’s Wii-fit age.  Ha, ha! Ha ha! That makes me feel really smug. Sweet revenge for the fact that  his ‘Brain Training Age’ is alot younger than mine. But how old am I really?

Well I’m the same age as David (best beloved husband)… almost.  Conveniently, we were born on the same day in the same month. Unusually, we were also born in the same year. But here’s the thing: I am more than 24 hours older than him.

(If you can’t work out how that’s possible, drop back in a week’s time and I’ll have added the answer to the bottom of this post).

Sharing a birthday and being the same age does makes life simpler. No chance he’ll forget my birthday and it’s one thing less think about when the bank asks you all those security questions. Annoyingly though we are not ageing at the same rate, at least parts of us aren’t.  I can’t read a thing now without my reading glasses and even with reading glasses I still have to ask him to decipher the very small print on the back of food packets. Actually mostly I don’t bother asking him but now that he has realised I’m not reading the instructions his confidence in my cooking abilities has taken a dive. The happy side effect of this is that he now does more of the cooking than I do!  Yippee!  This is not my only ‘convenient’ ailment – my hoovering arm is also pretty dodgy and the sight of a tax return dramatically lowers my (already very low) mathematical ability.  Needless to say, I rely on him alot so perhaps I shouldn’t be so rude about his brain age.

Allegedly it was Bette Middler who said ‘Old age is not for cissies’. I’m not old yet but just the average helping of middle age aches and pains is teaching me that an uncomplaining, cheerful spirit might be the most essential characteristic for growing old gracefully. Lord, I’m going to need a lot of help with that!

I like the joke  about the good fairy.  A couple in their sixties reached their 40th wedding anniversary and a fairy comes along to grant them both a wish.

‘I’d like to go on a round the world cruise with my husband’, she said (generous, loving wife). Whoosh! The fairy waves her wand and there were the cruise tickets for two.

‘I’d like a wife thirty years younger than me’ said the husband (meanie).  Without a moment’s hesitation ‘Whoosh’ the fairy waves her wand and instantly the man is 90 years old.  You gotta love that fairy!

Today my good friend Ruthli reaches her half century. Happy Birthday Ruthli!  Over the years we have run together, skied together, flung ourselves down suicidal toboggan runs together and cycled half of England together. Heaven hold back the day we get old together – Ruthli would want to race me on our zimmer frames and she’d probably win!

P.S. The reason I am more than 24 hours older than David even though we share the same birthday is that I was born thousands of miles to the east, Indonesia to be precise. But you’d worked that out, hadn’t you?

The ‘God’ Particle

My alarm clock radio woke me this morning with the news that scientists would today be attempting to re-create conditions at the start of the universe. Hmm, human beings re-enacting the ‘big bang’? Sounds pretty dodgy to me, let’s hope they know what they are doing.  What if they end up with a whole new universe on their hands? Responsible procreation is usually called safe sex. I’m wondering if this is safe science? Apparently detractors have raised concerns that black holes could be created that would swallow us up. How ironic, to meet our end whilst investigating our beginning!

Researching this subject just out of interest I have learnt that a ‘new era in particle physics’ has dawned today in the Large Hadron Collider somewhere near Geneva. In a 17 mile underground tunnel beams of protons have been made to whizz around at incredibly high speeds in opposite directions. When these collide something known as an ‘event’ occurs. The word ‘event’ rather implies a uncertainty about what is actually happening. Anyway they are experiencing these ‘events’ at a rate of 40 per second which is apparently very good.

I should blinking hope so. With a price tag of $10 billion for this project these are pricey events to stage. Obviously finding to the so called ‘God particle’ doesn’t come cheap. This is a particle that will help scientists understand why matter has mass. Forgive my ignorance but it surprises me that we don’t already know why matter has mass. And if we don’t know something so fundamental, then what else don’t we know?

 It reminds me of a joke. Two biologists come to God and announce that they have discovered how life evolved on earth. They announce that they too can now create a human from the dust of the earth.

‘Very good’ said God, ‘why don’t you demonstrate this for me’

‘Okay’ they said ‘First we take the dust….’

‘Oh no, no, no’ said God ‘Go get your own dust!’

What Religion is Your Bra?

A man walked into the ladies lingerie department of a large store. Shyly walking up to the woman behind the counter, he said, ‘I’d like to buy a bra for my wife. ‘ ‘ What type of bra?’ asked the clerk.
‘Type?’ inquires the man, ‘There’s more than one type?”
“Look around”, said the saleslady, as she showed him a sea of bras in every shape, size, colour and material imaginable.
“Actually” she said, “there are really only four types of bras to choose from”.
Relieved, the man asked about the types. The saleslady replied: ‘There are the Catholic, the Salvation Army, the Presbyterian, and the Baptist types. Which one would you prefer?’
Now totally befuddled, the man asked about the differences between them. The Saleslady responded, “It is all really quite simple: the Catholic type supports the masses. The Salvation Army type lifts the fallen. The Presbyterian type keeps them staunch and upright. The Baptist type makes mountains out of molehills!”

Have you ever wondered why A, B, C, D, DD, E, F, G, and H are the letters used to define bra sizes? If you have wondered why, but couldn’t figure out what the letters stood for, it is about time you became informed!
(A} Almost Boobs. {B} Barely there… {C} Can’t Complain!.. {D} Dang!… {DD} Double dang!… {E} Enormous!… {F} Fake…. {G} Get a Reduction… {H} Help me, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!….
Then of course there is the German bra: holtzemfromfloppen.

(Thanks Marianne for this, sorry I can’t credit it, just one of those email funnies but so apt for my theme I couldn’t resist)