THE REV AND A DOG
The Rev and a Dog
What do you mean ...
... it has been a month!?
Where did it go?
A bit of this ... a bit of that ... choir here ... Mothers' Union there ... flowers to photograph ... fish to feed ... and suddenly from 19th April it is 19th May!!!
Let the blogging return ...
Spot the Difference
This is always a popular quiz for young folk ... maybe older people like it too?
Spot the differences ... or, in this case, the one difference!
I'm not a great fan of graffiti ... now, the trouble is ... some of it has moved into the quality of street art. Such pieces, if done by someone with a reputation, can be worth a tidy sum. There are also a number or murals around the city that certainly qualify as "art" rather than "graffiti".
But a large slogan on a hillside that can be seen all over the city ... no. I don't think that it is art ... even if I were to agree with the sentiment.
This is where "Paint" comes in handy!
The offensive words can be removed very easily and, unless you're up very close, you'll probably not even see the join.
This raises another interesting question ... should one try to cover up something unpleasant? Much in society that is wrong is more or less air-brushed away ... we pretend that all is well ... while the reality is a string of injustices, prejudices and shady practice. The church too must play its part in uncovering all that is wrong and showing that there is a better way ... a way of holiness, a way where people respect one another, love one another and "don't speak ill of the dead".
The ease with which I was able, in about four seconds, to change reality and make the landscape look perfect was a lesson in "cover up" and "pretence" and even the deeper questions regarding peaceful protest ...
I don't have the answers ... but at least there are some questions.
Meanwhile ... the dog looks on with endless patience ...
He even brought me a present from the garden ... a much loved and frequently buried bone!
I don't think that my appreciation was heart-felt ...
Let's face it ... how would you react?
The amaryllis gave me a bit more pleasure! It is now in its full "Bagpus" form ... and is a delight to see.
The front window is clearly a good place for plants as the old poinsettia from two or three Christmases ago has begun to produce the red bracts ... amazing and so tender looking.
I'm rather pleased that it has not only survived but is also showing the colour of a rather pale poinsettia ... it may not be the vivid scarlet of those you can purchase at Christmas ... but it is certainly alive and not just green!
"Thursday" ... what an inspired title! Okay ... maybe there's a bit of sarcasm there ... but I can't think of another one.
Again, it's been a while since the last blog ... so "Catching up" might have been the alternative ... but you don't really 'catch up' ... time lost is gone and blogs not written are not written. However, perhaps a few highlights from the past week. I'll go backwards ...
An amaryllis is in flower ... one that reminded a friend of Bagpus!
That took me on a hunt for a video of this cult cartoon cat! An amazing story of just thirteen episodes and yet generations have fallen in love with Bagpus ... if you create something really good it will stand the test of time and continue to speak to each generation.
Earlier in the week Mothers' Union/Ladies' Guild met to enjoy an afternoon of fun with The Singing Chef!
If you're looking for a speaker for a special event ... then Raymond is a good choice!
Mothers' Union took up part of Sunday as well.
This is from the Festival Service held in Saint Anne's.
Sunday morning was a farewell service in Saint Nicholas' as one of our families moves to England ... we'll miss them.
The little lad gets a farewell kiss from another parishioner of the same age ... not sure he'll want to see this picture twenty years from now!
But I have no doubt that someone will remind him!
Meanwhile the dog keeps a good eye on what's happening around the place ...
... where would we be without his vigilance!
That all doesn't sound very busy at all ... but the days are usually packed and the Blog is neglected.
The goldfish survived their little holiday ... and it has certainly inspired me to consider setting up the tank again. It is very restful to watch the fish ...
They aren't the easiest creatures to photograph ... at least Eliot will sit still for a moment!
You learn something new every day ...
There are some words that just "work" on a Scrabble board!
Telamon is one of them! In the right place it gives 104 points!
For just a moment I felt sorry for my opponent ... the 'luck of the draw' in terms of letters and being able to place them all at one turn brings a bonus as well ... That little pang of regret soon passed with the memory of all the games that I've lost ... many more than those where I was victorious.
So, a telamon ... it is from architecture ... and is a colossal male figure in a column that supports a building.
Telamon is also a character in Greek mythology!
So, that's today's bit of 'useless information' but a handy word if you happen to have just those letters when playing scrabble!
Saturday night ...
Parish magazine "done and dusted"! You can read a copy on the website ...
There's always a certain sense of relief when this is ready for distribution ... and a huge thanks to those who distribute and to the "factory help" when the production line is working! Thanks also to those who contribute articles regularly or who submit the occasional piece ... it all goes towards making sixteen pages of information and reflection.
Many cups of coffee are consumed in the desktop stage ... but that's okay!
Today's big joy was to officiate at a wedding in Saint Simon's ... the church had been vacant when the Schedule was obtained so I was the named officiant ... since then there's been a rector appointed and it was good to share the service with Raymond.
Here we are with the couple after signing the Schedule.
The church is beautiful ... one of Belfast's red brick buildings ...
The RISE installation at Broadway is just a little further down the road.
All round it there are seating areas ... if we had a warm summer that would be a lovely place to be to watch the world go by.
During the service there were the quiet solemn moments ...
... and times of laughter too.
It was a happy occasion ...
... and no doubt the young couple will remember that day for the rest of their lives.
Of course, this all means that Eliot hasn't seen a great deal of me ... but he appears to be quite happy to go to his bed under the table and dream exciting dreams!
I think he's missing Angel ... so am I!
Right ... I'm back!
So, Good Friday ended with the Tenebrae ... the gathering shadows were a stark reminder of the agony that Jesus faced.
Just one candle returned to the table after the thirteen were extinguished ... the white candle was brought back as the soloist sang, "Were you there when God raised him from the dead?"
It wasn't long until Easter ... and the little garden in church was transformed into a glorious riot of colour to celebrate resurrection.
The cross still stands ... but now in a garden of hope and joy!
An empty tomb bears witness to the miracle that happened ... and the folded grave clothes are all that remain.
Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!
What a triumphant shout as we celebrated the day of resurrection ...first with a "dawn" service, then breakfasting together before the celebration of Holy Communion. The fact that it was also the weekend of the clocks going forward meant that we might just have been a tad tired by the end of the day!
So, a couple of days of doing very little ... watching goldfish (babysitting them) ... that's restful.
And playing with the dogs ... that's maybe not so restful!
It appears to be rough ... but they are very gentle with each other.
Angel doesn't think twice about playing with Eliot's bone. While he's not too sure about this ... he simply watches until she drops it and then he scampers off to hide it somewhere else!
It's more fun to watch them than to sit gazing at Fionn and mac Cumhaill! There's only so much that fish will do!
But they are pretty!
It's a bit like a treasure hunt with Angel here ... I found a turtle down the garden this morning ... the poor thing had been out overnight!
There's still some frost around!
Angel didn't stay out for long! Neither did I.
It was much warmer looking out at the frost from the comfort of the front room.
That's where I had breakfast (still using up the bacon from the Easter morning breakfast) and it felt a bit like the man on this coaster that I was given ... two dogs in my case, both keeping a close eye on every mouthful ... both hoping fervently that something would drop from the plate!
That's life in the rectory during the week after Easter when I ought to be working on the Parish Magazine and not watching goldfish!
Holy Week and Easter is a fairly busy time ... so the blog was neglected ... or should that read "the dog was neglected"?
With a couple of days of doing very little there's some energy back and some laundry done ...
Where were we ... a week ago! "Spy" Wednesday ... well, that was followed by Maundy Thursday and Holy Communion at the Methodist Church ... continuing in the United Services series for Holy Week.
All the furnishing and fabric is removed from the building and for just one day the beauty of our holy table may be seen, stripped of all the outer trappings.
Good Friday ... Three Hours at the Cross in Saint Nicholas' when we reflected on various things (and sounds) that would have been part of that great Passion Narrative.
In the evening ... the traditional Tenebrae when once again we experienced the gathering darkness of the hours leading up to the crucifixion.
... had to go out at that point ... will complete another day!
"Spy" Wednesday Meditation ...
For those who want to see more clearly the prayer mentioned in the "Catching Up" blog ... this is it!
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world: have mercy on us. With the light of your truth, Lord, open my heart and help me be honest in seeing how I’ve betrayed your love … how I’ve taken you and your mercy for granted … how I’ve presumed upon your presence and your grace …
how I’ve betrayed you in thought, word and deed out of loyalty to the crowd, the custom, the fad …
With the light of your truth, Lord, open my heart and help me be honest in seeing how I’ve betrayed the people around me, family and friends … how I’ve betrayed others at school, at work, in my community …
how I’ve betrayed the poor and hungry with my greed and gluttony …
how I’ve betrayed the truth with my lies and cheating … how I’ve betrayed others with gossip and half-truths … With the light of your truth, Lord, open my heart and help me be honest in seeing how I’ve betrayed myself …
how I’ve been dishonest with and about the person you made me to be …
how I’ve betrayed my given word, my promises, my vows …
how I’ve betrayed the best in me by choosing the cheap and tawdry …
how I’ve betrayed your image within me, the divine image in which you created me …
With the light of your truth, Lord, open my heart and help me be honest in seeing how, with Judas,
I betray you, and hand you over for money, for prestige, out of pride, in selfishness …
and in closing my eyes to the truth of your presence and the promise of your love …
Catching up ...
I don't imagine you expected to see anything here for the past few days! Easter is upon us and Holy Week is a particularly busy time around the churches.
Starting backwards ... yesterday ... Good Friday ... ended with the traditional service of Tenebrae. This year we were in the Methodist Church and enjoyed their facility to dim the lights gradually.
As always it is a very moving experience of the retelling of the Passion Narrative with the symbols of the candles being extinguished emphasizing the growing darkness from which the event gets its title: tenebrae (shadows).
Earlier in the day (from noon until three o'clock) we had the three hours at the cross vigil in Saint Nicholas'. We took time to think about the different sounds that are associated with the events on Thursday and Friday in the story of the cross. Being in the church when all the furnishings have been stripped away is a strange experience ... and for that one day in the year the beauty of the holy table can be seen.
It just so happened that the last Wednesday in the month fell in Holy Week ... so WOW (Worship on Wednesday) picked up the theme of Judas. Traditionally this day is called "Spy" Wednesday and it provided an opportunity to reflect on betrayal.
A guessing game was this week's activity ... a table with food in groups of thirty which was revealed gradually ...
... thirty glasses of fruit juice ... and using these shot glasses made the Presbyterians among us think of the Communion Service ...
... thirty oat cakes ... grapes ... tomatoes ...
It was the tray with thirty silver sweets that gave the game away!
Thirty pieces of silver ... the price for which our Lord was betrayed.
And just to reinforce the message ... thirty pieces of silver on the central cheesecake!
Following a reflective meditation on betrayal, a confession, we took a moment to write down something that came to mind where we'd betrayed God, ourselves or someone else. These small papers, rolled into a spy-glass shape were then burned in a dish in the Side Chapel.
Nothing remaining of the sins that had been recorded.
All of the paper turned to ash.
We took it to the Easter Garden and spread the ash at the foot of the cross, hearing again Jesus' words of forgiveness and cleansing.
This was a very moving moment as we recognised that the cost of forgiveness was the death of Jesus.
We then returned to the food table where we'd begun the reflection and enjoyed a time of table fellowship.
With the snow almost gone from Belfast (though not from the hills) there's been a bit of time to walk the dog ... and no blog would be complete without a few pictures of the happy mutt ...
So ... with a hot cross bun (or two) for breakfast ... they are the mini size ... it is soon off to Saint Nicholas' to open up for Saturday tea/coffee and to begin preparations for the transformation of the Easter Garden to its resurrection glory! Pictures to follow!
May you have a wonderful Easter ... Good Friday is over and Easter Day is coming!
A prayer for Easter Eve:
that we who are baptized into the death
of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ
may continually put to death our evil desires
and be buried with him;
and that through the grave and gate of death
we may pass to our joyful resurrection;
through his merits, who died and was buried
and rose again for us,
your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Glad to be home!
It's cold out there ... and we've very little snow compared to some places around the country. You do feel for those who are working hard to restore power to some homes still without electricity, and for farmers and others whose livelihood has been affected very seriously. It was heartbreaking to see on the news last night the loss of life among the young animals. We weren't expecting such a depth of snow or the way it seems to have come in pockets.
At home here there was snow still at some depth on the ground ... when I went to collect Eliot from kennels ... there was nothing to be seen! It must have seemed a bit strange when I called to say that the roads were impassable on Friday! They were here ... but not there.
Anyhow, the pup is home safe and well and very happy!
What is it about snow that brings out the child in us all ... even in the dogs!
He had a great time running and jumping in the snow at the Parish Halls ...
With the camera on a "sports" setting I managed to get a few decent pictures ... and enjoyed watching him bounce along!
The forsythia is coming out ... strange to see it against a snow background ... you expect more fresh spring green ...
When the thaw comes there'll be other problems ... it has already started a little bit on the tarmac ... but there's more to come when the snow begins to melt off the roofs ...
So ... back to work ... and try to ignore those big eyes that are just begging for another visit to the snowfields!
Christmas dinner ... followed by snow!
Christmas dinner on Tuesday night and now, this weekend, we're under a blanket of snow! For a short time yesterday there was even a complete black out over Belfast.
There's no doubt that this is going to create a great deal of inconvenience and, for some, it will be a cold and dangerous weekend.
Parts of the island didn't get any snow ... near Newry it was just cold and wet ... good weather for ducks!
This lake is at Dromantine ... a beautiful conference centre well off the beaten track.
There wasn't a chance to go for a walk around the lake ... but I did manage to get a few pictures ... looking into the morning sun ...
... and standing under an umbrella in the afternoon!
Then, home to snow! That wasn't a pleasant journey ... so it was good to get back and get the fire going!
The question in mind just now is ... what to do about the Easter Garden for church ... the plan was that it would be put together tomorrow, Palm Sunday. That plan may well change if I can't get to a garden centre!
The Crown of Thorns is sitting on the windowsill ... but I'll need more than just that one plant!
Watch out for updates!
Food, fun and fellowship
Sometimes you need something warm and soothing ... easy to eat, quick to prepare ... and that's when a tin of tomato soup comes in very handy! Not just any soup, of course. It has to be Tomato Soup and Heinz Tomato Soup in particular!
The problem is ... if it lands on your clothes ... especially if they happen to be pale lilac ... you're in real trouble.
Today I took no chances ... while the soup warmed I donned a heavy duty chef's apron with a bib! And ... not a drop landed on it. Had I tried to eat the stuff without the protection of the closely woven cotton ... I imagine that I'd be trying to remove a soup stain even as I type. Such is life!
It was a light lunch because tonight was the Christmas Dinner!
Yes ... Christmas Dinner!
Getting the Christmas Tree up was the first job ... and then guests arrived suitably dressed in Christmas ties, earrings ...
Randals did the usual superb food ... traditional Christmas fare ... Vegetable soup, Turkey with all the trimmings followed by Christmas Pudding and Custard! Wonderful.
The craic at the tables was good and then we rounded off the evening with Christmas Carols!
This traditional March Christmas is now a feature of our programme. It all began by accident one year when the weather was so bad at Christmas that we postponed the event ... and it worked so well that we've kept the pattern every year since. I guess we appreciate the food even more when it is separated from the time of year when we tend to eat a number of Christmas dinners in a very short space of time.
On the heels of Easter it is good to remember the incarnation and the link between the "Man born to be King" and the "Child born to die".
It is late ... the day has been a long one ... but, before heading off to bed there's time to share a potato with you.
"A potato" you might ask.
Indeed yes. A Navan potato ... but not just any ordinary spud ... this one came with love written all over it ...
Well ... perhaps not the word "love" ... but that's the subject that it made me think about.
Love for one another ... love for God ... loved by God ... loved by others ...
It's all to do with the heart!
I wonder if potatoes are good for one's heart? There is some research that suggests two helpings of potatoes per day lowers blood pressure even more than oatmeal. It was a small American sample group and the potatoes were microwaved golf ball sized purple skinned ones ... so I'd maybe not draw any firm conclusions from it. They do point out that if the potatoes are cooked in fat or smothered in cheese then they are not good for you!
Anyhow ... back to the potato that made me think of love ... a picture is worth a thousand words (give or take a few) so ... this is it ... the potato for which you've been waiting!
God's love ... unchanging and unconditional ... seen in the cross.
Saturday night ...
A visit to the optician for a check up (now that the black eye is fading) gave the opportunity to spend a night in Kilkeel ... and ... with no television ... my evening was spent listening to records! Yes, you read that correctly ... records! (There's no damage to the eye apart from the bruising.)
There's quite a collection of records and it was good to revisit these old friends ... and some of them are very old indeed!
At some stage they need to be listed and/or classified ...
... for now ... it's just a random pick.
... and a visit down memory lane!
Eliot wasn't particularly interested so found a spot on the carpet and just sat at my feet. He was much happier today when we were able to sit outside a cafe in Newcastle and enjoy a coffee ... they brought him a generous dish of water so we were both happy. He attracts a lot of attention and a number of folk stopped to pat him ... one lad got down on the pavement beside him and gave Eliot a good rub!
It was a glorious morning ...
... although when we returned to Belfast there was rain and sleet. What a contrast within a thirty mile radius.
A day off is good ... time to rest, reflect, review, relax ... time to breathe fresh air and clean windows ... vacuum floors ... cut grass ... and pick flowers!
This camellia was hiding behind the plant in the shade ... it's a beautiful white bush but the flowers very quickly become damaged and browned. The season for them is so short ... it was lovely to get this one just before the remainder of the buds open.
There were a few daffodils too and they've come back with me to be enjoyed over the weekend.
One of the other things about being away is the opportunity to sample food in favourite restaurants ... this gorgeous dessert is a Jaffa Cake ... very light, orange-flavoured sponge smothered in chocolate sauce! If you're around Sea Salt then I'd recommend it very highly. It is a lot lighter than it looks ... you can't always go by appearances!
You might even find some "wee buns" in one of the local shops!
Now, Saint Patrick's Day tomorrow ... I do hope he finds the stone that needs to be turned over as it is still cold and wet here ...
Eliot doesn't stand a chance of getting a long walk unless Saint Patrick does his stuff!
Saint Anne's Cathedral
I was early for a meeting ... so there was time to have another look around ... this time ... I was searching for interesting details.
As you enter ... there's a place to pause for prayer ... so I lit a few candles for folk.
It is a very light and airy cathedral with many beautiful windows ...
Then the carvings ... I didn't take pictures of any of the pillars today ... but the woodwork is superb.
The pulpit has a number of very modern carvings ... butterfly, dove, scallop shell ...
Pew ends too have a variety of motifs. This one celebrates spinning yarn.
Another shows a bell and stylized flowers are on many of them.
Up close to the lectern the detail of the bird's feet is another interesting feature and I liked the reflections in the "world" on which the eagle rests.
The pulpit fall is embroidered with the "IHS" ... the first three letters of the name "Jesus".
And even the floor over which you walk contains many very simple but effective patterns.
It is good to take time to visit Saint Anne's and spend a while wandering around, meditating and praying ... it is a gentle place ... full of warmth and the prayers of the saints ... well worth going to!
The promised walk
To my great amusement yesterday, Eliot met me with his lead in his mouth and ran in circles, always stopping at the front door! Who could resist! That was a first ... the question is ... will he learn that it works?
It was a glorious evening ... spring in the air and the sun shining brightly.
So off we went ... a ten minute car journey and then the open air at Shaw's Bridge!
Eliot was a very contented dog ... and a rather tired one by the end of the walk!
It was a refreshing walk ... up some steep hills to get the blood pumping ... and various comfortable benches on which to rest for a few minutes!
There were some grey squirrels but Eliot was on the lead at the time so all he could do was look from a distance!
Maybe I was "leading him into temptation"?
The old tree trunk was interesting ... so photographs galore!
Even the muddy areas had a strange beauty ... like something from a CS Lewis story ...
So, thanks to Eliot and his lead ... we had a good hour in the fresh air and both of us slept like the proverbial logs last night! The house could have fallen in around us and I don't think either of us would have heard it.
A cold snap!
Well ... there's been a sudden drop in temperature over the last few days.
Some clothes pegs left outside in the laundry basket, where water had gathered, were suspended in a sheet of ice yesterday.
I'd hate to miss a photo-opportunity! And this kind of thing doesn't come around all that frequently.
You'd imagine that after a day of above zero temperatures the ice would have melted ... but ... not so! This morning there's still a thin sheet from which some pegs have dropped ... but clearly the entire day yesterday and last night continued to be very cold.
It seems that the cold does not deter Eliot from his daily ritual of digging a little deeper ...
This is the second hole he's begun ... so there must be something very interesting buried in the back garden. He didn't stay out for very long ... and neither did I!
So, with a few indoor shots of the dog the day has begun and I'm off to do some hospital visits ... Eliot will simply go to his bed under the table and hopefully sleep until I return. If the sunshine continues he might even get a decent walk this evening now that the days have lengthened considerably.
Enjoy the spring days!
The Collect of the Fourth Sunday in Lent ...Lord God
whose blessed Son our Saviour
gave his back to the smiters
and did not hide his face from shame:
Give us grace to endure the sufferings of this present time
with sure confidence in the glory that shall be revealed;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
There was snow on the hills this morning ... and the bitterly cold air was a sharp reminder that winter is not yet gone. However, the day brightened into beautiful sunshine and the evenings are lengthening nicely as well.
It was not an entirely stress-free start to the day ... but somehow the mini-disasters didn't manage to make me frantic! When there's nothing that you can do to change anything ... there's no real point in becoming anxious. That would simply add another problem to an already nuisance of a situation!
Inattention was the cause ... the computer asked me if I wanted to format the external hard drive and I assured it that I did. Of course, if I'd been wider awake my answer would have been "no thanks" ... but ... the dice was cast and at the speed of light ... or almost as fast ... the hard drive was wiped clean! Oops.
Computer literate friends have assured me that all is not lost for ever ... all I need is someone with the right skills and the data can be retrieved. I do hope so! But it isn't the end of the world if it can't be. The photographs will be missed ... but a selection have been used for the Blog or on Facebook ... so there are still some around. As for the sermons ... were they really worth keeping anyhow?!
So ... Mothering Sunday ... I had the delight of preaching in the Methodist Church and everyone there (including me!) received a lovely primula.
I had a piece on the Sunday Notice Sheet at Saint Nicholas' about the origin of the day and some information that I'd been given about the significance of tulips (which were given out in Saint Nicholas'). Tulips represent eternal love and the ones we used were purple to symbolize royalty and spirituality ... the members of the church are sons and daughters of the King of kings ... a royal priesthood called and loved and called to love others.
Why Mothering Sunday ... and how is it different from Mother's Day ... although in the UK the two have become one.
Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Lent. Although it's often called Mothers' Day it has no connection with the American festival of that name. Traditionally, it was a day when children, mainly daughters, who had gone to work as domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother and family. Today it is a day when children give presents, flowers, and home-made cards to their mothers.
Most Sundays in the year churchgoers worship at their nearest parish or 'daughter church'. Centuries ago it was considered important for people to return to their home or 'mother' church once a year. So each year in the middle of Lent, everyone would visit their 'mother' church - the main church or Cathedral of the area.
Inevitably the return to the 'mother' church became an occasion for family reunions when children who were working away returned home. (It was quite common in those days for children to leave home for work once they were ten years old.) And most historians think that it was the return to the 'Mother' church which led to the tradition of children, particularly those working as domestic servants, or as apprentices, being given the day off to visit their mother and family. As they walked along the country lanes, children would pick wild flowers or violets to take to church or give to their mother as a small gift.
Mothering Sunday was also known as Refreshment Sunday because the fasting rules for Lent were relaxed that day. The food item specially associated with Mothering Sunday is the Simnel cake. A Simnel cake is a fruit cake with two layers of almond paste, one on top and one in the middle. The cake is made with 11 balls of marzipan icing on top representing the 11 disciples. (Judas is not included.) Traditionally, sugar violets would also be added.
The name Simnel probably comes from the Latin word simila which means a fine wheat flour usually used for baking a cake. There's a legend that a man called Simon and his wife Nell argued over whether the cake for Mothering Sunday should be baked or boiled. In the end they did both, so the cake was named after both of them: SIM-NELL!
If you received today's Notice Sheet ... you'll have read that piece already! A friend put a comment on Facebook this morning that resonated with me. He said, "Today is not just about Mums but it is a celebration of the caring nature of true motherhood wherever it is to be found."
Mothering Sunday affords the opportunity to remember the way our faith was nurtured and nourished in our "Mother Church" and to give thanks to God for that.
It's been a good day ... even if it did appear to begin badly!
Well ... perhaps just a slice of toast!
It is a perfectly ordinary slice of toast ... crisp and warm, ready to eat!
Then, look again.
The pattern of the holes ...
Its a face, of course!
No ... not clear ...
How about some help?
Here's what a couple of minutes on "Paint" can do!
Indeed ... a face!
Maybe it is a bit like making patterns in the clouds ... for just a moment there's a picture of a house, car or person ... and then a wind changes the shapes and suddenly there's an animal or some other feature! Imagination is wonderful ... it gives a whole world of ideas ... many of them may not develop into anything but ... it doesn't cost anything to dream and imagine.
To see beyond reality means that things become possible and dreams can take on actual shape and form.
A face in a piece of toast ... well, the toast is long since eaten ... but the ideas that it sparked off remain!
Does Eliot dream and imagine ... what's he thinking as he lies at the door?
Perhaps he sees the monsters coming to get me and he's there ready to protect ... or he imagines bags of food trundling along the hallway ... or roast chickens falling from the stairs! He's very partial to a bit of roast chicken ...
Or is it possible that he's urging me to stop this madness and simply play a game with him?
I suspect the latter ... so it is time to do just that!
Day off ...
I'm thinking of changing my Day Off to Fridays! Today was a Kilkeel sort of day ... partly to have spectacles repaired (ouch!) and partly to see if the house is okay.
Well it was fine ... but my "brown bin" had been relocated!
I think that it would have made an interesting picture to see the change from the original house number to the new one ... with little (or no) attempt to conceal the origin ... but the camera wasn't handy at the time. It was a bit embarrassing to have to go to someone's house and say "I think that my bin has been confused with your bin" ... seeing clearly that the number had been overwritten ...
Now it is safely back in my garden and full of garden rubbish ... getting it emptied may be more of a challenge but I can sort that out sometime.It was a wild and windy morning ... but part of the reason for the trip was to reacquaint myself with the beach ... so, undeterred by a breeze (or a gale) off we went ... Eliot was in heaven, of course! There was no one else in sight so he could be off lead ... I can't for the life of me think why no one would be walking in this weather ... surely a bit of rain and storm with high seas wouldn't keep you indoors?
The oyster-catchers were congregating on the shore and Eliot had some fun getting them into flight!
Unfortunately the combination of rain and spray meant that some of the pictures have spots on them ... a reminder to check the lens before taking photographs perhaps?
Getting back home for lunch with a roaring fire and lots of candles was welcome warmth ... it is almost worth getting cold to appreciate the delight of home comfort!
What a contrast to the stormy seas!
So much sea air and exercise ... an early night is called for!
For a little while this afternoon I had a short walk at Minnowburn ... very calm and still ... beautiful and full of atmosphere.
I was on my way back home after a funeral and a hospital visit and did a detour round here. It was slightly raining, a bit misty and full of atmosphere!
A few brave souls were out with dogs ... I did wish that Eliot had been in the car but even without him I enjoyed a few minutes of reflection and peace.
The "obligatory" red coat just happened to move into the shot ... that seems to be one of the secrets of an interesting picture! I've sent a similar one to this off to BBC so you never know ... some evening when they're looking for a "misty damp day picture" it might illustrate the weather!
This place must be beautiful when the trees have a few more leaves!
Even on a cool spring afternoon it looks good ... mind you ... at times it was beginning to feel more like an autumn evening!
I did receive the odd strange look ... and the reason for that is a black eye! Simply acquired ... just fall in the middle of the road at rush hour ... I don't suppose it would matter what time of the day you measure your length on the tarmac ... the end result is not a pretty sight!
This happened just before the Belfast Phoenix Choir were about to give a concert in Saint Nicholas'. Fortunately that evening as we enjoyed a superb performance the eye wasn't too obvious! Today ... it is in glorious technicolour!
The choir was really good ... just a pity that a few more folk didn't manage to get along to hear them! Those who were present had a thoroughly good evening.
And I came home, not only with a black eye but also some delicious food ... my sister and her husband brought a "food parcel" and this pie ended up being a midnight feast ... comfort food, I suppose, when sleep wouldn't come. It was particularly good!
Himself, the dog, Eliot, had to lie at my feet ... smelling the delicious aroma and knowing that he'd see only a morsel! This is his pathetic "please save me a tiny piece" kind of look!
So that's the eventful life here ... never a dull moment in Saint Nicholas'!
And the lesson from the story ... pick up your feet when you're crossing a busy road unless you want to perform an advertising stunt; and, I guess the dry cleaners didn't mind seeing the same jacket a second time in one week!
Run the race ...
Yesterday I took Eliot on a bit of a walk in the Malone demesne ... at one point we were overlooking the new track ... an impressive sight!
This is where a wide angle lens would help! Though I suppose the runner sees only the bit of track in front ... and still keeps running.
Maybe there's a sermon in that! Just keep going ... running the race ahead of you ... even if you can't see very far. We follow the one who is the leader who will "match his stride to yours until your journey's end."
The track here is level and easy ... sometimes in the life-race there are hurdles ... and uneven ground ... but we are running alongside a travelling companion who will pick us up if we fall and who will provide all the support we need.
Keep going ... even if the way is tough at times.
Take a leaf out of Eliot's book ... he's determined to dig to Australia! No matter how many times I fill in the hole ... he's back digging! Sometimes I wonder just what was once buried in this spot!
Today, even with a heavy frost on the ground, he was busy as usual.
The frost gave some beautiful patterns on the edges of the spring flowers.
And it was wonderful to see another dry day with blue sky ... though maybe not just as intense as yesterday. Rain is coming, we're told ... so the long dry spell is about to end. It was good while it lasted and the parks are certainly much easier for walking these days.
The tree ... just because I like the pattern!
Some of the photograph editing programmes have interesting features ... a humble bunch of daffodils can become something like a nightmare poster!
Or you can turn it into a picture where you think that your eyes have lost their focus.
All is not as it appears.
The reality is nearer to this shot ....
It is a wonderful time of year for spring flowers ... a short season ... so enjoy them while you may!
Don't forget ...
... there's a concert in Saint Nicholas' on Tuesday evening! Tell everyone!
Things to do ...
... so I'm sitting with the blog! Talk about avoidance!
You should see the carpet at the rectory ... apart from a liberal and generous sprinkling of dog hair there's the stuffing out of a soft toy ... how can so much white fluff fit into such a small space. There's also a clothes peg ... at least ... it was once a clothes peg ... now it is a mangled heap of something akin to leprechaun matches. However, I've convinced myself that it is much too late to do anything about it so I'll tackle something else instead!
The dogs have had a ball for the last couple of days. The weather has been fine and sometimes sunny so there's been a bit of play over at the halls.
It often looks as if they're "up to something" when you observe them heading off to the bushes or round the back of the hall ...
However, as soon as they're called they come racing round ... it isn't often there's a picture with Eliot in front. I'm guessing that Angel gave him a head start!
After these sessions the dogs can sleep for a long time!
If they're not running madly all over the place then you'll spot them guarding the gates ... I do sometimes feel sorry for the poor dog-walking soul who dares to appear on "their" side of the road! Thankfully the gates are strong ... though it is only play that they want ... I'm not sure everyone has the same understanding.
Right ... back to the study and maybe a bit of sorting ... something quiet ... or perhaps just bed!