Short Thoughts (1)

I spent so much time searching for things I thought I needed, or wanted.

Emotional things, physical things, tactile things.

Possessions in the hand, or of the mind and spirit.

Only to discover I had them all the time, and hadn’t realised.

That they were never what I had expected them to be.

Two Sure Signs Of Spring

The sun is out, and it is already 12C. But I saw two other signs that confirm Spring has undeniably sprung.

Ollie is moulting. When I let him out this morning, the kitchen floor looked like that of a barber’s shop, after the barber had just completed a haircut.

Then as I waited for the kettle to boil, I saw a colourful fluttering around the bird box that is fixed to the oak tree in the back garden.

The Blue Tits are back, and taking nest materials into the wooden box through the small hole at the front.

This is an old photo that I took a couple of years ago, but it’s the same nest box.

I wonder if it could be the same pair of birds?

I hope so.

My Bundle Of Joy: Part Forty

This is the fortieth part of a fiction serial, in 740 words.

When they came for Leah that morning, they asked me to take off the reins. A masculine-looking woman wearing a fleece with a Council logo sewn on it shook her head. “We don’t use nothing like that, lady. No restraints. Don’t worry, we know what we’re doing. She’ll be back about ten to five, so please make sure you’re in, as we have others to drop off after her, okay?”

I found her a bit scary, but I was too excited about the new job to care about her attitude that morning.

Although I had been to the florist’s shop to meet Barbara the previous week, I still felt nervous about my first day. I had my satnav, so should find the addresses alright, but I wanted to create a good impression, even though it paid minimum wage. When I told my dad, he had said I had to upgrade the car insurance for business use. That meant I had to phone Olly, as he did all that stuff. He seemed pleased that I had a job, but less excited when I told him how much it paid.

There was an extra payment for using my car, so much a mile. I had to keep a record of that, and claim it back in cash at the end of the week, so Barbara had told me. She hadn’t mentioned the insurance though.

One good thing was that there was a dedicated parking space behind the shop, so I didn’t have to worry about parking tickets. When I got there at eight-fifteen that morning, Barbara already had the deliveries for the morning sorted out. She gave me the slips with the addresses on them, and each bouquet or box of flowers had the corresponding number on a slip stuck to it.

“Try to work out a basic route, Angela. It’s usually best to do the furthest drop first, then work your way back to the shop. If you don’t get any answer at an address, fill in one of these cards, and put it in the letterbox. Don’t hand them to anyone who just happens to approach you outside the house. That’s a scam we’ve been caught out on before”.

With that, she left me to it, and went to answer the constantly-ringing phone. Her assistant Emily was busy arranging bunches in buckets to stand outside the shop, and she just grinned at me. She only looked about seventeen.

I had put the back seat flat, and the resulting space in my car looked huge. Once it was all loaded up with the flowers, Barbara gave me a big laminated card with ‘Babs The Florist’ and the shop phone number printed on it in pale blue. “Stick this on the dashboard, then you shouldn’t get any parking hassles”.

Pulling out onto the rear service road, I felt stupidly important, as if I had something special to do, and a sign inside the car to prove it. Working from eight-fifteen until four-fifteen five days a week, I could expect to earn just under three hundred and thirty a week. That was before tax and other stoppages of course. I might get the extra mileage pay for using the car, but I would need that for petrol and tyres or whatever.

I was going to have to take this job more seriously too, becuase Olly was already planning to deduct a thousand a month from what he paid, starting on the first of next month.

The morning went okay, but not great. I was lulled into a false sense of thinking it was easy, when the first three drops went smoothly. One man even gave me a two-pound tip. Every delivery had to be paid in advance, either over the phone, or by calling into Barbra’s shop. That meant I didn’t have to take any payments, and that was a relief.

But then someone wasn’t home, so I left a card. Then on the next job a lady said I was too late with the wreath, and the funeral party had already left the house. I rang the shop, but Barbara told me not to worry, and to bring the wreath back. Then I got a bit lost on the dual carriageway, and ended up running across four lanes in a panic to drop off some birthday roses at a house on the other side.

Who knew that delivering bloody flowers could be so stressful?

Life

Life. It can be a real pain sometimes.

Always something you don’t want to do, that needs to be done.

And some boring reason why you can’t do the thing you actually want to be doing.

Modern life is like a list of 80% things you don’t want to have to deal with.

10% of things that you can just about deal with without going out of your mind.

And 9% things that you actually enjoy doing, and want to keep doing. Whatever the consequences.

Oh, and that odd 1%?

That’s the mystery of life.

My Pen To Publish Competition Entry

A new short story from Stevie Turner! Check out the link on her blog.

Stevie Turner

There’s a new short story on my Amazon Author Page, which I have entered for this year’s Pen To Publish competition on AmazonIN:

Keith, a previously happy husband and father, learns that to save his marriage he has to rid himself of Damon, his alter ego who suffers from a chronic sex addiction. However, the path to redemption is not always easy…

If you want to take part, you have until March 10th to submit your previously unpublished manuscript. Good luck!

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My Bundle Of Joy: Part Thirty-Nine

This is the thirty-ninth part of a fiction serial, in 808 words.

Mum decided to have no treatment. She was more scared of the surgery, chemo, or radiotherapy than of dying, so dad said. And the doctor got the prognosis wrong too. She lasted weeks, not months. By week five she was in a hospice, and dead four days after that. I took Leah to see her, and we had a rather emotional farewell, with her telling me to look after dad, and make up with Ronnie.

The funeral was a dismal affair. Ronnie and his exceptionally skinny girlfriend did little more than nod at me, and I got the impression that she was hiding behind Ronnie because she was scared of Leah. Two women who used to work with mum showed up, and a couple of men from the Round Table came to show support for dad. Thirty minutes in a busy crematorium with a bland eulogy from a female vicar who had never even met my mum. The friends apologised for not coming back to the house, and then Ronnie announced he and miss skinny were not coming back either.

So it was me, dad, and Leah. At least she enjoyed the sausage rolls and sandwiches dad had bought from M&S. He had the luxury of enjoying a few glasses of Scotch now mum wasn’t around to tell him off. When I was leaving, and getting Leah into the car, he came up and kissed me on the cheek. I asked him if he was going to be alright. I would like to have stayed over, but that wouldn’t work with Leah. He smiled as I got into the driving seat. “Of course I’ll be alright, love. I have you, Leah, and Ronnie. I’ll manage fine”.

There had been no point keeping up with the dating website up to then. I could hardly have asked dad to babysit, leaving mum alone when she was so ill. But I had been surprised to get over forty apparent matches. Eleven of those had messaged me, and I had replied that due to family problems I wasn’t dating at the moment. The next time I logged on, some of those had dropped out, which was understandable, but I had five new ones to think about. I wanted to give dad some time before I asked him to watch Leah though.

Although he hadn’t been invited to the funeral, I had sent Olly a text to let him know. He had said he would email me after the funeral. In that email, he began with the normal commiserations, then sneaked in the fact that he wanted me to enquire about being paid Carer’s Allowance. Although he would still pay as agreed, he could deduct that amount from what he paid in to the bank.

Then he had the audacity to tell me he had been promoted to full partner in the publishing house. He must have realised I would know how much of a pay increase came with that, and yet he was trying to reduce what he gave me and Leah.

Still, it made me think. I would try the day centre route once again, see if I could get her into a place so I could go back to work. If I could get a job, I would let Olly know he could pay me that amount less each month, whatever I earned. Sooner that, than apply for an allowance to stay at home day and night with Leah, and never go out.

Things had improved a lot. Two young women came to assess Leah, and didn’t take long to tell me that she more than qualified to attend a day centre. She would start at a child’s centre, and move on to an adult placement when she was eighteen.

I was pleasantly surprised when they told me they could take her in just two week’s time, and that a minibus would pick her up around eight, and drop her off before five. I would still be the only option at weekends of course, but I didn’t want to apply for full residential care just yet. Besides, I knew dad would help if I asked him.

My new cleaner, Valeria, was working out well. Older than Rosa, and living in the country for a lot longer, she took things in her stride. She mentioned that she had a friend who was looking for someone to work in her florist’s shop. I told Valeria I knew nothing about flowers, and she shook her head. “No, she wants someone to deliver the flowers locally, and you have a big car, Angela. I took the phone number, and rang the shop. With Valeria vouching for me, the lady said I could start the same day Leah went to day centre.

I had a job to go to. Things were finally looking up.

S.A.D. Lamp: An Update

I promised to update everyone about my S.A.D. Lamp.

(Seasonal affective disorder)

Winter is almost over. The daffodils are out now, and we have temperatures approaching 17C today.

So how did the SAD lamp cope through all those months of gloom? Dark at 15:30, rain, sleet, and snow, and me blogging away in a small office room lit only by my special lamp.

Well, it does seem to be positive.

I didn’t stop blogging. If anything, I posted more stuff.

My general mood was good overall, and I have been sleeping well.

Is a SAD lamp worth trying? I have to say ‘Yes’. As long as you don’t pay too much for it, and only leave it on when the sky outside is dull and unispiring.

Or when it is depressingly dark at 11 am.

Under £25, they are good value. But don’t pay more. I have links, if you need them.

Plugged into your PC, or laptop, they need no other power source.

Go for it. What have you got to lose?