Sunday, 29 January 2012

Capers with the Collie and Curates with capes - be prepared!

Today started at 05.15 am when I was woken by one of the dogs banging on the the double doors downstairs. It had to be The Collie causing the trouble because Jem The Lakeland, just barks until someone appears. I lay listening, trying to work out what he was doing. He would bang the doors so they rattled then stop.Then he would start again. As The Curate had the early service, I thought I had better go and investigate. The Collie could see we had left the sitting room light on (by mistake) and having decided we were in there, he thought the day needed to begin! I let him out of the backdoor and stood waiting for him to return. I waited and waited - no dog. So at 5.30 I went out in bare feet and not much else, to try and persuade him to come back indoors. He went down on his front paws and laughed at me, challenging me to come further out and play with him. Hmmmm!

 The curate went off to do the early service and he arrived back later than usual as he had been chatting. He sat down to breakfast, assuring me that the next service wasn't until 11.o'clock. So I browsed through the papers while he reread his sermon. You know what's coming - we arrived at the church to find a good number of cars. 

'No bells' I commented. 
'That's because we are early.' replied The Curate.
Glancing at the notice board I said, 'It says here that the service starts at 10.30' 

The Curate then flew up the church path, wondering if the hymn being sung was the first or the third! I made a quiet entrance after him and slid into a pew.
I'd like to say things got better from that point but, unfortunately this wasn't the case. The Curate made a good start. The rhythms of the liturgy had a calming effect and he picked up the service with skill. We sang, we prayed and we listened to the readings - so did The Curate. The readings were not the ones he was expecting  or the ones he had based his sermon around! In other circumstances, he would have checked with the readers before the service. When he was a Methodist Local preacher (before Anglican days) he was expected to make contact with the church before the service and confirm readings and music. This was very good practice and one that The Curate will be remembering in future! The sermon was shorter than usual but I don't think anyone minded. Fortunately they are a lovely congregation, and they have allowed The Curate to find his feet and any mistakes are forgiven.
Is it raining? I need my cape in a bag!!

The last people to leave the church were able to witness The Curate's second photo shoot for the  Ultimate Clergy Cape. This time he was trying out a light weight fold away cape. He is not a good model when people are watching - but it caused a laugh! 
By the time we arrived at the local pub, we were more than ready for the excellent lunch served there. 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

fifteen today

Jem  - my Lakeland Terrier is fifteen years old today
I have just realised it is Jem's birthday today. I have checked her papers and she is actually 15 today. We collected Jem on Palm Sunday, fifteen years ago. She was my birthday present and our second Lakeland terrier. We had been posted abroad as a family and had missed the middle years of our first Lakeland dog, Bosun. We had decided that our next dog was to be called Jem while we were driving back to the UK. As a family we listened to Jamaica Inn  while we were driving to the port in northern Spain. We had returned to the UK to be reunited with a more elderly Bosun so I was promised a new pup. This photo shows a very tolerant Bosun and the young upstart Jem. From the start, Jem was a dominant dog and she was determined to make her mark.  Bosun (who was like a walking teddy bear without much brain) let her dominate and she would  attack  him ferociously. It is hard to believe such a sweet looking pup could cause so much disruption. It actually became distressing and we seriously looked at re homing her, but she was so bad we felt no one would be able to cope with her.
In hind sight (a wonderful thing) she might have been better where she was the only dog and the pride and joy of one owner. I'd like to call her a 'little princess' - maybe in personality but certainly not in behaviour. She had just fallen in the pond in this photo. She didn't care! As time has gone on, we have all learned to respect this madam. She is very clever and and has the instinct of a true survivor. If there is a crumb to be had or an escape route to be found - she's onto it.
There is a love hate relationship between Jem and my sons. They resent not being able to control her - she will do as she is told ...if she feels like it. But she is resilient. When the opportunity to have another dog again came, we all knew it had to be bigger than Jem and equally intelligent. So we acquired a Collie cross who Jem proceeded to bully until, one day, the Collie flattened her with his paw and held her there. Occasionally, he still resorts to this tactic - but not often. The Collie is a very tolerant dog!
They tolerate each other and that's it!
Jem eats anything and I mean anything! She will climb onto the compost heap and eat any vegetable waste - she loves carrots. She eats the raspberries and strawberries from the plants if she can find them before me. Like all terriers, she prefers to wear scent of Fox or any poo, dead bird or any rotted muck she can find to roll in.
She is the only dog we have owned who has a pedigree. She hates to have her coat clipped and, since she nipped the dog groomer, I have had to take the scissors to her myself. She does not have the manners to be a pedigree dog so she doesn't have to look like a show poodle!. She has all the hunting instincts of a hunting dog - as her breed suggests. She loves the moor and still enjoys climbing the tors with us. Occasionally she wears her wax jacket which stops the rain soaking through her thick double coat. Ribbons are endured only on birthdays (but can't you see that look of one who is having to endure the fuss!).

Happiest on the moor

Three different walks - three mud packs!
Any bed will do after a good walk on the moor!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

"Today I quit being a Christian"

I have just read Mick Brown's (Telegraph magazine 21/01.12) interesting and thought provoking interview with Anna Rice 'the atheist high priestess of vampire lit.' For thirty years she was an atheist, having been brought up as a Catholic. He writes that she then returned to Catholicism and  focussed her  writing on Christ. Last year, she placed this comment on Facebook:

' For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being " Christian" or being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to " belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.'

'I quit. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity. Amen.'

And ... a bit of me wants to say 'Amen' - but I can't. Can you quit Christianity just like that? Can you jump in and out at will. You can stop going to church. You can stop praying - but do you stop praying? Don't you just refuse to accept that you are praying? Or do you live at surface level and make yourself so busy that there is no time to allow God in?
Perhaps it is not Christianity that Anna Rice rejects but 'The Church', organised religion and being told what 'We' must believe. And perhaps I might say 'Amen' to that .

Friday, 20 January 2012

Friday walk

Friday - is our day off and play time. The Curate and I usually pick a walk on Dartmoor. We had intended walking to Bellever Tor but the wind was blowing over the open moorland and we were defeated again. Before we left, we did meet some of the local ponies plus some delightful appaloosa ponies who are definitely not native to Dartmoor.
Bellever Tor  had defeated us again. This is the third time we have failed to reach the Tor. We have been defeated by the mud, the runs and the wind ( rain, illness and blowing wind!)  It doesn't look that windy in the photographs  - but it was, so we went onto Dartmeet and walked up besides the river. We passed several of the local residents along the way.

I'm hungry!
Have you got any food?
Can I come with you?
It was an easy walk today and there were plenty of native ponies sheltering from the strong wind in the valley. I think this must be a very busy walk at the weekend and in the summer, but today, The Curate and I had the valley to ourselves (except for the local, 4 legged residents).
I did need to add a little sunshine.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A Question

The view from my place of work
This is a serious question.

When I am in my twilight years, (the time when I can’t go up on the big wheel and can only dream about the times when I did)

Will I sit by the fire and be relieved that I can afford to turn it on?

And be glad that the fridge is full and know where the next meal comes from?

Will I be pleased I can afford the thermals from the catalogue that arrives on my doorstep every month without fail (I am a valued customer)?

A short holiday when the weather brightens up is a real possibility.

Will I value that financial independence that I worked so hard to achieve?

Or will I regret lost opportunities:-

Not seizing the moment when I could?
Not taking that risk?
Not flying by the seat of my pants!
Not dreaming the dreams and making them a reality?
Or, at the very least, having a go?

When I am in my twilight years, will I relive those moments when I dared to step off the treadmill?

Will I recall the sense of fulfillment, excitement, fear as I tried to follow my dreams?

Or will I say to myself, as I open another bill and turn down the heating;-
“You fool; it didn’t have to be like this.”

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Live for the day!

 We climbed to Widgery Cross this afternoon. This stands on the top of Brat Tor, at 1456 feet above sea level (- that's only a 450 foot climb from the car park). 

Looking up to the top, The Curate and I didn't think we would make the top this time - but we did and so did the Lakeland and the Collie.

 There was ice on the ground, clear skies and a very cold wind. At the top, I didn't dare climb up to the cross for fear of being blown off. The Curate played with his GPS to check that we were not lost!

The Lakeland was almost blown away!

 The views were spectacular and we are so fortunate to be able to enjoy them. A climb like this soon puts life in perspective!

Then it is time to head down, restored and re-energised.
One last look

Seeking the rhythm

 I started blogging to help me try to understand the rhythms of church life as my husband began training to be an Anglican vicar, after 26 years of marriage to me. Being apart for the best part of the week because of the location of his first curacy, meant that I was only a part-time curate's wife, as I continued to work away and so struggled to come to terms with the life change. Blogging as 'The (Reluctant) Curate's wife' was very therapeutic! Since starting 'The Other Half of being the curate's wife 'blog I have avoided writing about actually being a curate's wife. There have been moments when this has lapsed but mostly I have been trying to look on the positive side to this life change. I love living near the moor. But I wonder how honest I am really being.

Our move from a well established, but more elderly, church on the north coast, to a church that seems to me to have a bit of an identity crisis, has proved challenging.  It makes it very difficult to know how to fit in. I have to laugh about it because last January I was trying to work out what sort of church I felt comfortable with. I read up on different traditions, I blogged about my early church experiences and how they might have influenced me and now I am in a church where I have plenty of choice. There are three Sunday services and each seems to have its own congregation and then there is the Thursday morning congregation. If that doesn't suit, there is a small rural church, a few miles away, that continues with its one service, as it always has done for many,many years . Further away, there is also an ornate, higher Anglican church where I can be sprinkled with Holy water and have delightful conversation with regular attendees.

With so much choice, I am beginning to realise (to my surprise) that I am a bit of a 'middle of the road Anglican'. I have enjoyed the early morning Book of Common Prayer services I have attended. I have enjoyed the sung evensong service and some of the worship style services with their more informal feel. I like a bit of everything! And I would like to meet everyone! It seems to me that a well lead church should be looking for opportunities to draw the congregations together so that they feel like one church. This would then make it easier to invite people to their 'parish church' but at the moment - I don't really know what this church is. 

There was a different (good) feel at Christmas, when more of our neighbours attended the Christmas services but mostly, around where we live, people don't go to the parish church. I don't go to our parish church...much. I'm not there today. I have struggled with some of the teaching. I am not as comfortable with worship songs when they are unknown by the congregation. I do like the music to draw the congregation into the service. Yet I am familiar with and like modern worship songs but so many visitors are not, so they have to be used with care. It is very easy for things to become so familiar to the 'in' crowd that they forget how unfamiliar and exclusive a church can sometimes feel to visitors.  I am not a visitor but I am not settled and I am not sure what to do.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The perfect day

Yesterday was Friday - our day off, and we spent it in the happiest of ways - riding The Clydsdales at Adventure Clydesdale in Cornwall. We have ridden out several times from here. Yesterday, we had perfect weather again- although too wet to go onto Bodmin, we rode out in the Cornish countryside and had the benefit of glorious views. Nothing seems more important than living for the moment when you are with these beautiful gentle giants.

The day started with a frosty walk for the dogs on Middlemoor
Then we drove down to Bodmin to meet our mounts.
Tim. owner of Adventure Clydesdale, lead out on Faroe
I rode Tweedie
We stopped to wade up the stream to wash off the horses after a muddy ride. This is The Curate on Ben

Tweedie caught taking a little nap at the end
I wasn't asleep!

Is this a photo shoot?!
What look do you want?
I can do pretty, -  or my right side is good  or alert and interested? But don't forget ..............

to show my moustache!