A signal from my dad? I hope so…

I have a sense of humour. If you know me, I imagine you may have noticed that. I was brought up on humour. I can’t remember a time when my lovely dad did not joke. Even when he was diagnosed with cancer my dad made a joke about his chemotherapy treatment. When I met Andrew I knew he was the one. His humour matched mine. In fact I think he may be even wackier than me. To live with us is not easy. We laugh a lot and make fun of everything, especially each other. There is not a situation we won’t laugh at.

After our wedding!

Andrew’s father was the same. When very ill in hospital shortly before he died, the nurse asked if she could take his blood pressure.
‘Sure, as long as you leave me some,’ he responded without missing a beat.
My dad knew so many jokes that it became tedious. Whenever we visited my parents he would always have a new one up his sleeve. He joked with everyone. When he was near the end of his life he still attempted to joke with his carer by pretending to box with her. I miss my dad very much. But my mum is still here.
If you thought I was bad, you should meet my lovely mum. She now has dementia and she is funnier now than she ever was. Dementia is a terrible illness but there is humour in that too if you look. I know she want me to see the funny side of what is happening to her. She is in a good place mentally and smiles a lot. She is confused but contented. It is ironic that my mother who always hated anything green and that included fields and the countryside is now living deep in the heart of the country in a beautiful home for dementia patients. We couldn’t have found her a better home if we had tried. This one almost fell at our feet. She will always tell you that she doesn’t have a clue what she is doing there and will go home soon.
‘Your father keeps saying he will come back for me. He never does. I’m not going to hold my breath for much longer.’ She told me on my last visit.
‘I think he has got another woman. It wouldn’t surprise me. He was always a ladies man.’
My dad only had eyes for my mum. Although a lot of women had eyes for him so I understood.
‘Of course there are a lot of men in here if I wanted a man.’
My mum is nearly eighty-five.
‘They chase us around the rooms here but I don’t have the energy for that. Let’s face it once you have a man in your life you spend your whole time on your back.’
That floored me, especially as she didn’t take her eyes off Andrew when saying it. I wondered if she remembered him. After all she had known my first husband for longer. I didn’t want her to mix them up.
‘You remember Andrew don’t you mum? We got married.’
Her face lit up.
‘Oh, congratulations. How lovely. Are you going to have lots of babies?’
Andrew spluttered into his tea.
We took her upstairs to her room to hang the photograph we had brought with us. In the lift Andrew leaned across her to push the button and she raised her eyebrows and winked at me as if to say,
‘He’s a bit of all right.’
I wrapped her up in her coat and scarf, took her hand and we pushed open the emergency door to the large grounds.
‘Shall we go for a walk?’ I asked.
‘Oh yes,’ she responded.
The door closed and automatically locked behind us. She looked at the door and then smiled.
‘I might go and stay with Olive a bit,’ she said.
Olive was her sister who died when mum was thirteen.
‘That will be nice,’ I said, wondering how the hell we would get back in.
‘We can walk around to the front,’ says Andrew.
Of course, except the gate is padlocked. Obviously they want to keep all the inmates in.
We both stare at the gate, while mother stares at us.
‘Can you climb over?’ I ask Andrew.
Mother gives him another admiring look. I can imagine my dad laughing.
‘Best not, let’s see if we can catch someone’s eye through the glass door, if not I’ll have to climb over.’
My mum stands smiling at us the whole time. She is enjoying the little adventure. Of course we did get back in eventually and I returned mum back to her seat next to her friend Doris who immediately took mum’s hand. Relief evident on her face that my mum had survived the visit with the mad daughter.
Some days I miss my parents so much especially my dad and I always try to think of ways to get him to tell me he is fine. Andrew laughs at this. Once I was convinced my dad was a blackbird who used to sit close to the summer-house. Andrew would call out.
‘All right Bill?’
My dad always used that turn of phrase to everyone.

With my sister’s handbag

‘All right Lyn,’ he would say to me.
My dad was one of the few people I allowed to call me Lyn. If anyone does now I tend not to respond. I see it as a term of endearment only my dad was allowed to use.
Always the joker

The other day I felt so much the loss that I asked him to send something. I then decided that was a bit vague. I then said.
‘Dad, send a bird to come into the summer-house while I am sitting there.’
I then proceeded to help things along by putting nuts just outside the door. Yes, I know.
I was really expecting a bird to just walk in, say hello and then leave? Yes, okay, you can laugh.
Several hours later after nothing had happened I dismissed the whole idea. An hour later to my shock a bird flew straight into the summer-house, around my head and out again. I was left in a state of shock. I later told Andrew who of course laughed and explained all the rational reasons for why that would happen. I nodded.
I on the other hand don’t want to think of rational reasons. I want to think that was my dad.
It made my day that’s for sure…

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The Oxfordshire mating call…


So I decide to go to Waitrose. This is never a good idea for many reasons. In fact I am beginning to wonder if I am actually safe to be let out alone. Oh, you think I joke. I kid you not.
On Friday I decided to go to Waitrose early. There were many good reasons for this, although as soon as this decision was made it caused problems. A heavy debate ensued about dinner. Usually I buy a Rotisserie chicken and we have this with some Moroccan couscous and then… Could you stop yawning please. I assure you this gets better. Where was I? Oh, yes and then we watch a DVD or maybe two. Friday night is the highlight of our week and I don’t need your pity. You can put that back in your pocket right now.
Now, here was the problem. If I go to Waitrose early they will not have a chicken cooked and ready for me to take home. A tricky problem is this. So, I need to check what else Lord Cook would like. We decide on a curry.
Why not just go later, I hear you ask? A reasonable question, if I do say so myself. I needed to be at the Doctor’s at 11.02. At least I thought it was 11.02 but we’ll come back to that later. Plus, to complicate matters even more, the appointment is not at my usual small village surgery but at the main one in a nearby town. I hope you’re keeping up with all this because it gets more complicated as time goes on. So, I decide to pop to Waitrose, that’s if you can pop to somewhere that is about six miles away and then on the way back I can do a short detour to the Doctors and then home.

‘That will give me the whole of the afternoon to write,’ I told his lordship.

Oh, famous last words or what?

So, off I pop. Trying to get to Witney from my village is a feat all of its own. The road leading to Witney is a driver’s nightmare. I have been done twice for speeding along there and I don’t speed. But the speed limit changes so often that I feel like I’m driving chitty chitty bang bang. So I potter along, accelerating from 30 miles an hour to 40 and then up to 50 miles an hour. The car behind me obviously doesn’t give a fig about speed limits and spends much of his time in the 30 miles per hour speed either flashing me (with his lights obviously. My luck never stretches to anything further than that) or hooting me while driving as close to my bumper as he possibly can. I’m under no illusions. This is intimidation, just in case you thought it was some kind of Oxfordshire mating call. We all relax when I am back in a 50 miles an hour zone. This doesn’t last long and I am back to 40 and quickly down to 30 and being flashed for all I’m worth. Finally, I reach Witney and the car park for Waitrose. Guess what? It is full. How can this be? I’m early for goodness sake. I drive round and round until my head is spinning. I finally spot a space and shoot into it only to discover it is only an hour stay. I do a quick calculation in my head and figure I can race around the store and be back within the hour.
Don’t you just hate supermarkets? Even worse, don’t you hate supermarkets on a weekday? I fight my way past the mums with their screaming children and hover for five minutes behind an elderly woman who is studying the teas and make my way to the chicken counter, where the assistant smiles at me and continues checking the temperature on the cooked birds with such concentration, you would think she was operating. I feel like telling her they look very dead to me and could she pop one in a bag. I attempt to speak but she holds a hand up to stop me and continues with her deep concentrated efforts with the thermometer. I’m getting close to telling her where to stick that thermometer and it isn’t in the chicken. I want to scream,
‘I’m on an hour here Lady. Can we move on with this?’
‘Can I help you,’ she says eventually.
Oh, how fab. She has finally seen the customer. I mean, there is enough of me, so she couldn’t really miss me.
I choose my chicken and hastily leave the meat counter. I fly along the aisles, throwing in everything I need and finally I am at the till. It has taken me forty minutes. A record and I almost feel like they should give me a medal at the till and not just a little green disc for the charity box. I saunter from the store and make my way to the car. It is then I realise I am still holding the green disk. Typical. I throw the carrier bags into the boot. Drop the disc into the trolley and pop the trolley back to the trolley park. I’m making good time. Then, I am in my car and making my way back home. Checking the time on the clock I wonder if I have enough time to take the shopping back before driving onto the Doctors.
I don’t know about your Doctors, but my surgery is ultra-organised. They even send you a text message with the time and date of your appointment. Not that it helps me, of course. I have a vague memory that the appointment is 11.02 but it could well be 11.22 for how good my memory is. I decide to be really organised and check my phone at the next lay by and therefore make an informed decision. After all I have one hot dead chicken in the boot, not to mention the Mini who is behind me. I swear if he drives any close he will be joining the chicken. I’m wondering if he would like to join us for the DVD later.
Finally, I see the lay by. I indicate, pull in and reach for my handbag to check my Blackberry. My stomach lurches when I see my bag is not on the passenger seat. Time stands still and my mind does one of the back track things that you see in the films. Everything runs before my eyes in slow motion and I see my handbag in the shopping trolley.
Oh God. I left it in the trolley and I left the trolley in the trolley park. I picture all the things that are in it. My glasses, Blackberry, purse, credit cards, money and groan inwardly. I check the clock. I have waited weeks for this appointment and it is almost 11. Oh, no, horror of horrors. I will have to tell Andrew. He is working from home today. I restart the car and zoom down the country lanes to our village. So much for keeping to the speed limit now. I skid to a halt outside our cottage, fly into the house, bound up the stairs and declare to a wide-eyed Andrew that I have left my bag in the trolley and the trolley in the trolley park.
‘Again?’

You can almost understand Andrew being driven to things like this.
You can almost understand Andrew being driven to things like this.

Yes, you heard him. It is not the first time. I won’t repeat the other things he said. They went along the lines of how could I be so stupid and that there is something seriously wrong with me. I phone the store, my heart in my mouth. Please let them have it I plead. I was lucky enough the last time this happened. But just how many honest people are there out there? Well, most certainly two it seems. Someone handed it in. I yell up the stairs to Andrew that I am going to the doctors in the vain hope that my appointment was at 11.20 and not 11.02 and then back to Waitrose.
Off I go again at top speed. I assure you there was no driver up my backside on this journey. I swear I left a cloud of dust behind me so they wouldn’t be able to see my backside if they tried. Zoomed into the Doctor’s car park and raced in to discover my appointment was for 11.30. What a relief. The day has barely begun and I am exhausted. I could go back to bed.
You’ll be pleased to hear that my blood pressure reading was normal. My return to Waitrose was uneventful also. In fact I even got parked directly outside the store and everything was inside my handbag, not even a snotty tissue was missing. So, right there, right then, I decided all this scatty behaviour has got to stop. I’m pleased to tell you that so far so good. Mind you it has only been five days. Ask me after five weeks…

Ghosts and missing knives (read at your peril)

I didn’t think I believed in ghosts.
That simple sentence indicates I’m still not sure if I do or don’t.
There have been bumps in the night (well, sort of) and strange goings on here and that’s not just our weird life style. You all know how strange Andrew and I. But this is something more.
Come, on, tell us, tell us, I hear you cry.
Okay, then. If you can shed any light of these happenings, do let me know.
Like I said, I have never entertained the belief that there is an after-life or even life after come to that. I know, it is one and the same thing.
Four years ago I changed my mind slightly, if one can have a slight change of mind. Knowing me, I think that is possible. It happened after I read a wonderful book titled ‘Letters from Palestine,’ written by Dr Kenneth Ring. It was written after his visit to Palestine. Those of you, who know me well, know I am Jewish with strong support for the Palestinians. I converted to Judaism twenty-five years ago. It was something I chose for myself. My first husband was Jewish and he paved the way for this choice.
Anyway, back to the book. Dr Kenneth Ring, also a Palestinian supporter but he also happens to be a renowned expert on near death experiences. I never knew this. I searched for him on Google and finally found a way to contact him. I wanted to tell him how much his book had changed my life and my perspective on the Middle East. I never expected to get a reply. However, I did. As the months went on he and I exchanged numerous emails, books, photos and a great deal of information. He is now my dear friend Ken and someone who has made me think a little more about the after-life.
So, on with the strange happenings in our Cottage which started about six years ago and I think they can be easily explained at the beginning. At the time we were both studying. Andrew was getting near the end of his PhD and I was finishing the last module of my degree. I was also trying to write novels as well as hold down a job. At weekends we would study and the house was beginning to resemble a Steptoe and son home. So, we decided to hire a cleaner. So, imagine our horror when one day I couldn’t find a pearl bracelet that Andrew had bought me in Cairo. I was certain I had left in the kitchen the day before she came. Obviously we did not want to even consider it was her. The following weekend we had friends to the house for a barbecue and my other bracelet must have fallen off in the garden, for that went missing too. I never found it. A month later another bracelet disappeared from my jewel box as did a signet ring I was given by my parents when I was thirteen.
We made an excuse to the cleaning woman and told her we didn’t need her anymore as I had more time. I didn’t. The house began to look like a Steptoe house again but at least my jewellery stayed put. We were very sad to have to even consider that someone had stolen from us. Almost two years passed with nothing going missing.
In the January of 2010 my lovely father died. It was not unexpected but a terrible blow none the less.
In the February I had friends over for a dinner on my birthday. That night I noticed my engagement ring was chafing my finger slightly. I removed it and put it on the bedside cabinet. A few days later I went to get it. It had gone. Unperturbed I began to search under the bed. After all, there was no reason why it should just disappear. Two days later and an upside down house, I accepted it had gone. Where, I did not know. We had the floorboards up, the vacumn cleaner emptied, drawers cleared, wardrobes moved. What could be moved we moved. What could be pulled up, we pulled up. It was nowhere to be found. Vanished off the face of the earth. I still hope it will turn up but I don’t hold my breath.
That same week, the summer-house key went missing. One minute it was there and the next minute it had gone. We searched all around the garden near the door. It was nowhere.
Six months ago, I opened the summer-house door to give the room some airing and there at my feet sparkling in the late autumn sunshine was the key. Missing for two years, it suddenly turns up at the foot of the summer-house doorway. If you can explain that, then I am all ears.
Five weeks ago the one sharp knife we had was nowhere to be seen. Now, that is worrying. I pulled out the entire cutlery from the cutlery drawer. It was nowhere. For two weeks I coped with larger knives in the hope that one would turn up. It didn’t. We finally went to the store and bought two new knives. A week later I opened the drawer and there right on the top of all the knives, was my old sharp knife. Oh, Andrew found it was my first thought. I forgot all about it until later that evening when Andrew was washing up.
‘I see you found the knife,’ I call to him.
‘I thought you found it,’ he responds.
Oh, here we go. So he never put it in the drawer and it certainly wasn’t me. It hasn’t been there for weeks. Where did it go and how did it get back into the drawer if we didn’t put it there?
I can’t blame a cleaner I no longer have now can I?
Your thoughts I would love to hear.
We have never entertained the idea of ghosts but recently we both had an odd experience on the landing of our cottage. Andrew went to go to the loo one night and saw what he described as a woman but he couldn’t describe it properly because he never actually saw anything, it was more a feeling of seeing something he said. I thought he had gone mad.
‘Either you saw it or you didn’t.’
‘I did but it was more I sensed a presence.’
Yes, well, scoffs she disbelieving
A few days later I go racing upstairs with the washing. Only to freeze as something seems to flash white at me at the top of the stairs. My body seems to go dead and the washing drops from my hands. My heart is thumping so fast I can barely breathe. When I try to tell Andrew what I saw, I find I can’t. It was more what I felt than what I saw.
‘Yes, well,’ he scoffs back.
I think my friend Ken has a point.
If you can shed light on this please leave a comment.

A little girl named Pesai

I have so many things to put on this blog. I just wish there was as many hours as there are ideas and stories. There is nothing better than sharing with others.
My most exciting news I have been saving for this very post. Although more fun things to follow. I always intend to post more regularly but it never happens. So, when something exciting and lovely happens I just want to share with all my lovely Blogger friends.
Two weeks ago I got notification that I have successfully sponsored little Pesai at the Children’s Sanctuary in Siem Reap, in Cambodia. You may also remember that I am returning to Siem Reap in a matter of weeks to work at the Angkor hospital for Children and while there I will return to the orphanage. I have already packed loads of goodies to take with me. Spinning tops and books and lots more. I am so excited.
Pesai, and you can see her pictured here, sings very loudly I am told. I’m not alone in that then 🙂 I have controlled myself with the pictures you will be glad to hear.
Pesai was found with her sister living with their elderly Grandparents. Her Grandmother was dying and her Grandfather was unable to care for them all. Pesai’s father fled to Thailand when she was an infant and her mother, a drug user, was no longer able to keep her children. She abandoned Pisey when she was one year old. Pisey has been integrated into CSI’s care since 2008. She has been commencing her pre-school at Future Bright International School.
The stories are not much different for all the children at the Sanctuary. Some children still need sponsoring and if you can help please do contact the sanctuary. You can make such a difference to a child’s life. You don’t have to sponsor to make a difference. A donation is always gratefully received. I hope to be arranging a fun fund raiser when I return. Very much a blogging affair, so do join in when I do.
You can learn more about the children and the Sanctuary here.