Monday, 31 October 2016

My Father is better than yours.

I overheard three boys yesterday in the park just over from my house. There were there kicking a football and having good fun. The fact that there are two notices prominently displayed at the entrance to the park saying, "No Ball Games," and "No Football."

I have no concern about this when it is just youngsters having a game among themselves. 

What really interested me was to learn that after all those years since I left school young lads still boasted among each other about how wonderful their fathers were. 

These boys happened to be trying to decide whose father was the strongest. 

I remember once telling my father that ones of my friends had told me this his father could run faster than my father. I asked him if it was true. My father thought for a moment and said that it might in fact be the case, but then there might be other things that he could do that my friends father could not.

What really mattered to my father it seemed that he was a good father to me. That was the only thing that mattered. 

This reminded me of the three boys doing the exact same thing, this time about how wealthy they were.

The first boy said, "My father scribbles on a bit of paper and calls it a poem, and they pay him £40 for it."

The second boy says, " My father scribbles on a bit of paper and calls it a song, and they pay him £100 for it."

The third boy, who happens to be the ministers son says, My father scribbles words on a bit of paper. he calls it a sermon and it takes eight people to collect all the money."

Real wealth is not in who was right but in the very fact that each of them thought that their fathers were worthy of praise.

Have a wonderful day.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

What We have.

Looking towards Edinburgh.

Is it not strange that we so often take for granted the things that are not far from our own front doors. So often the only things we can see are the things that we do not like. How easy it is to complain about what the local council is not doing and should be. 

Yesterday I heard a lady complaining about the amount of litter there seemed to be in the village. it is true that because of the school holidays there has indeed been a slight rise in the amount of empty crisp packets and sweet papers laying around. But instead of complaining why not put the effort into lifting it and placing it in a litter bin?

It seems so easy. It is a fact that the more we see wrong with thing the bigger the list becomes. 

I remember a lesson well learned from a friend who had overcome a terrible problem he was having with alcohol. He told me of the moment he changed his life. 

He was doing his usual performing of over consumption. He missed his last bus and train home and had nowhere to go. It was a miserable night. 

He passed a hostel and thought he might get a bed there. He did in fact do just that. 

He described it. A large room full of mattresses on the floor. The terrible smell of unwashed clothes and bodies and worse. 

But he was so far gone he did not care he lay down and went to sleep.

Early the next morning he awoke to the dire scene. He was disgusted with himself. He looked at the man on the mattress next to him and said, "This is terrible. I don't suppose you can get much lower than this?"

"Just another six feet," said the man.

For Further this was the turn around and the climb back to a much better life. 

I remember talking to two prisoners in prison where I was chaplain, Was was as miserable as can be about the conditions of the prison. The other thought it was a bed of clover compared to the prison he had been transferred from. 

Life is very much about how we see it. The picture above was taken just the other day not far from where I live. People all around were complaining of the clouds and the possible rain. All I could see was the beauty of the atmosphere. 

I often think, that it is not what I do not have that is important rather it is what I have that matters.

Happiness is not something out there to be sought it lies within us waiting to be discovered. 

Have a wonderful day and for those of us in the uk make the most of the extra hour you have today. 

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Fingers, knees and toes.

I was asked to make an attempt at writing about a certain topic, forgiveness. Now I am aware that as an ex minister such a topic can very quickly get very heavy and difficult.  

I do not see this little exercise each day of writing a little something as anything other that  a little sharing and it helps to keep my mind active and also my fingers moving. I do of course hope that those who very kindly take the time each day to stop by and read get something from this little blog also. 

So how do I deal with such a difficult subject. 

Well, let me go back a line or two. Why do I want to keep my fingers nimble? The simple answer is for the same reason I walk so much, to keep my feet moving.

Life has been harsh to both my hands and my feet. Let me rephrase that, I have  been harsh to them. My feet I abused for years running up and down mountains and never really taking care of them when they became chipped or damaged. I just kept pushing them. Now they are rebelling and considering giving up and I have to continually prompt them to work with me. 

My early life as a butcher meant that my hands also suffered much because of all the cuts I inflicted on them and then did not always take the best advice. A long story, but they too now often rebel and I have to persuade them to keep going for me.

So here is a little tale, please stick with it. 

There once was a hand whose fingers were great friends. The owner had a dangerous job working with very sharp knives, and despite the care he took of his fingers the thumb kept getting all the worst of it. It was continually bruised and cut.

At first the other fingers asked the thumb's forgiveness for their clumsiness, and the thumb did indeed forgive them. However this happened so many times, that one day, the thumb decided it had had enough and was going to forgive them no more. He stretched himself away from the fingers and wanted nothing to do with them.

At first the thumb looked dignified, straight, rigid and proud. However that kind of position was forced and looked ridiculous. The owner of the hand had to keep it in his pocket out of sight. There the thumb and the rest of the fingers suffered in darkness and obscurity.

Finally, the thumb understood that it had not all been the fault of the fingers. There had been times when he had got in the way causing the fingers to be cut also. 

So the thumb asked the fingers for forgiveness, fearful that being rejected and alone he would become useless. 

The fingers forgave him, because better than anyone they knew that they were all to blame, and that everybody makes mistakes at some point. No one is ever perfect they knew that. 

So, friends once again, all five of them worked together, I had to stop myself from writing hand in hand, and they proved to the owner of the hand that all was well and they were all working in harmony. 

Before long they were all back out in the light aware that the only way to be happy was to forgive each other, thus avoiding the gloomy depressing prospect of doing nothing and being unhappy.

It seems much easier to hold a grudge then to forgive, but in reality it is better to forgive then to burden ourselves with hate and bad feelings.

have a good day and please forgive my being so serious this Saturday morning.  Today I am going to talk nice to my feet and toes and see if they well help me round the golf course with my son. 


Friday, 28 October 2016

The Little Man

I have spent most of my life being aware of my size. it is an easy thing to do considering that I am and always have been small. The smallest in my class all through school I had a hard time trying to get rid of the nickname, "Titch," which was fine while at school but annoying once I had left school. 

It was a great sense of relief when people stopped calling my by my nickname and I started to be called by my name. Of course when I moved away from the area of my birth nobody new me as anything other than Ralph. What a joy and a sense of relief to be shot of it. 

Suffering as I did with being something of a loner, different, not being into football and all that sort of things, and with my real difficulty coping with an undiagnosed reading difficulty, being small was just a step too far. It is amazing that I have had the life I have had and managed to overcome those things. 

These thoughts crossed my mind yesterday and I remembered the tale of the three inch man.  

A man walked into a bar and asked for 2 shots for him and his friend.

The bartender says, "Do you want them both now, or do you want me to wait until your friend gets here first?"

The man says, "Oh I want them both now, I've got my best friend right here in my pocket."

He pulls out a three inch man and puts him on the table.

The bartender was astonished. "Do you mean to say he can drink a whole drink?"

"Sure, he can drink it all. Pour it out."

Sure enough, the bartender watches in amazement as the little guy drinks down two full shots.

"That's amazing! Can he walk?"

The man flicks a coin and says, "Hey, Trevor, go get the coin, ok?" 

The three inch man runs off after it.

"Unreal! Can he do anything else? Can he talk?"

"Of course, he can talk," the man replied turning to his three inch friend.

"Hey Trevor! Tell The bartender about the time you called that witch doctor a good-for-nothing-scam-artist-idiot!"

Beware you can get into real trouble if you do not put your brain into gear before  engaging your mouth.

Have a marvellous day and be careful what you say.  A kind word can go a long way.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Husband Shop.

The painting above I called shades of grey and a little  red.For so many people though life is not in shades of grey it is all either black or white, right or wrong. 

This came to my mind yesterday when I heard my best friends wife joking about how long they had been married. MY friend said that that was easy to understand. As far as he was concerned there were  only two kinds of couples. The first were those that the minute things got difficult decided to get a divorce. Then there those who fought it out to the bitter end. 

His wife very quickly reminded him what she had always told him that everybody in life was allowed at least one big mistake, and he was hers. 

Fortunately it was all said with huge grins and much laughter. 

This brought to mind the story of the husband store.

A store that sells husbands has just opened in Edinburgh where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates. You may visit the store ONLY ONCE ! There are six floors and the attributes of the men increase as the shopper ascends the flights. There is, however, a catch .. you may choose any man from a particular floor, or you may choose to go up a floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building! 

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband. 

On the first floor the sign on the door reads: 
Floor 1 - These men have jobs and love the Lord. 

The second floor sign reads: 
Floor 2 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, and love kids. 

The third floor sign reads: 
Floor 3 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, and are extremely good looking. 
“Wow," she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going. 

She goes to the fourth floor and sign reads: 
Floor 4 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop-dead good looking and help with the housework. 
"Oh, mercy me!" she exclaims, "I can hardly stand it!" 

Still, she goes to the fifth floor and sign reads: 
Floor 5 - These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop-dead gorgeous, help with the housework, and have a strong romantic streak. 

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor and the sign reads: 
Floor 6 - You are visitor 4,363,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store. 
Watch your step as you exit the building, and have a nice day! 

Of course I am saying this with a twinkle in my eye and a smile, hope you have also.

Have a marvellous day.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Its just greed.

Falkland Cricket Ground.

Yesterday was another bit of a disaster. Again I went out to the easel to try and overcome the painting block I seem to have acquired. Another painting disaster followed. Just when I was about to throw paint in disgust I was visited by my good friend. A coffee was the order of the day.

Some fond memories of times shared followed.

I was thinking of the time we all gathered to play a golf match. My son was first off the tee. His ball shot off over the wall to the right bouncing off the wall of the house nearby and landing in the flower bed. All those years later he is still reminded of this.

Later I remembered a very similar story.

A husband was teaching his beautiful wife how to play golf. He told her to take it easy and swing gently at the ball.

The wife promptly hacked her first shot right through the window of the biggest house 
adjacentto the course. 

The husband cringed, "I warned you to be careful! Now we'll have to go up there, 
find the owner, apologise, and see how much your lousy drive is going to cost us." 

So the couple walked up to the house and knocked on the door. 

A warm voice said, "Come on in." 

When they opened the door they saw the damage that was done:  

Glass was all over the place, and a broken antique bottle was lying on its side near 
the pieces of window glass. 

A man reclining on the couch asked, "Are you the people that broke my window?" 

"Uh ... yes sir. We're sure sorry about that," the husband replied. 

"Oh, no apology is necessary. Actually I want to thank you. 

You see, I'm a genie, and I've been trapped in that bottle for a thousand years. 
Now that you've released me, I'm allowed to grant three wishes. 
I'll give you each one wish, but if you don't mind, I'll keep the last one for myself." 

"Wow, that's great!" the husband said. He pondered a moment and blurted out, 
"I'd like a million dollars a year for the rest of my life." 

"No problem," said the genie. "You've got it, it's the least I can do. 
And, I'll guarantee you a long & healthy life!" 

"And now you, young lady, what do you want?" the genie asked. 

"I'd like to own a gorgeous home complete with servants in every 
country in the world," she said. 

"Consider it done," the genie said. 
"And your homes will always be safe from fire, burglary and natural disasters!" 

"And now," the couple asked in unison, "what's your wish, genie?" 

"Well, since I've been trapped in that bottle, and haven't been with a woman in more 
than a thousand years, my wish is to have sex with your wife." 

The husband looked at his wife and said, 
"Go on, darling, you know we both now have a fortune, and all those houses. 

What do you think?" 

She mulled it over for a few moments and said, "You know, you're right. 
Considering our good fortune, I guess I wouldn't mind, but what about you?" 

"You know I love you sweetheart," said the husband. "I'd do the same for you!" 

So the genie and the woman went upstairs where they spent the rest of the afternoon 
enjoying each other. The genie was insatiable. 

After about three hours of non-stop sex, the genie rolled over and looked directly into her 
eyes and asked, "How old are you and your husband?" 

"Why, we're both 35," she responded breathlessly. 

"No kidding," he said. "Thirty-five years old.....and both of you still believe in genies?!"

Sometimes greed closes our eyes to reality.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

A Portrait.

I went out to my easel yesterday and removed the painting that had been sitting on it for some time. I got out a new canvas and prepared my palette and brushes and made a selection of paints. 

There was something telling me that I was either procrastinating or wasting my time. I just know that it was not going to happen for me. 

It most certainly did not happen. I wasted time paint and gave myself the task of cleaning brushes unnecessarily. I had to leave the canvas with a coating of colours that I am almost one hundred percent sure will not inspire me to produce anything. 

I was most certainly not like the young girl I met in church one day.

There was a group of them all very engrossed in the productions of pictures.  One girl seemed to be very certain of what it was she was producing. 

I asked her what she was painting. With some impatience at my interruption she told me that she was painting a portrait of God. 

I looked at her painting and in the kindest of voices I could find I said to her, "Nobody really knows what God looks like."

Without even stopping for a thought she turned and looked me straight in the eye.

"They will soon she," she said and returned with added fervour to her work.

Maybe it is unwise to begin anything until you are certain that you know what it is your are going to do and what the end product will be. 

Have a productive and good day.

Monday, 24 October 2016

I was home.

I went walking yesterday with my son and daughter law. I walked along the high path above the sea a path with some beautiful views from Fife over the Over Forth towards Edinburgh with its castle showing even from that distance. 

As my walk progressed I began to look forward to a little stop at the bistro on the beach. As I approached I saw a well known face, that of Gordon Brown the ex Prime Minister. I used to be friendly with his father who was a minister in the town next to where I was a minister. So I stopped and passed the time of day with him. 

 As I left it him took me back many years to when I would have similar meetings with people who knew me because I was either a minister or a teacher. I also remembered how I often used to wish that I could just go out and have a walk and have to speak to nobody at all. 

I was wondering if maybe I left him with just that feeling. 

This in turn remind me of a funny event from a similar situation. 

When I was a minister I visited the members of my congregation, and others on a very regular basis. I saw it as an important aspect of my job.

One  afternoon I went to visit some such church members. 
At one house, it was obvious that someone was home, but nobody came to the door even though I knocked several times. 
For such occasions I had visiting cards that I left with a message on them to let people know I had called.
On this occasion I took out the card knowing somebody was at home and not responding to my knock and I wrote out on the card,  'Revelation 3:20 , and stuck it in the door:
NowI wondered if they would take time to read that passage. If they did they would read:-
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me."
You can imagine my surprise when on Sunday  morning, the card turned up in the collection plate. Below my Bible text was written another text. 
Genesis 3: 10.
I smiled because I was aware of what that text said. 
I am tempted to let you look it up for yourself  but I will not be so cruel it reads:-
"I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself."
Yes it happened. 
Never be too clever with using quotations because there is always a comeback one waiting to get you. 
Have a wonderful day. 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

No Email.

It never fails to make me wonder when I realise just how different things could have been. So many things in life turn on one little moment or one yes or no. Agreeing to one thing changes the whole course of your life. 

Yet so often those decisions and moments happen without much thought in what will happen next.

Had I not met this person or that. had I not done this or that. If I had said yes to that then this would not have happened. 

It begins to make you wonder more and more about each decision you make as life moves on.

A jobless man applied for the position of toilet cleaner at a very big company.
The employer interviewed him, then a test: clean the floor.
“You are hired.” – the employer said. “Give me your email address, and I’ll send you the application to fill, as well as when you will start.”

The man replied, “I don’t have a computer, neither an email.”
“I’m sorry,” said the employer, “if you don’t have an email that means you do not exist. And who doesn’t exist, cannot have the job.”
The man left with no hope. He didn’t know what to do, with only £5 in his pocket.

 He then decided to go to the supermarket,  he spoke to the manager and for a small fee bought up all the old wooden boxes.  He broke them up into firewood which he sold round the doors. 

In less than two hours, he succeeded and doubled his capital.

He then, with the money he had earned went to the fruit market and purchased some fresh fruit and flowers. Again he sold them door to door.

He began to do this every day each day he was able to purchase a little more. Eventually he bought a cart to make life easier. 

Soon he had to buy a van and before long he was employing another man with a second van. Soon he had a fleet of vans selling fresh good produce.

The man was now providing well for his family and had his own house.  he thought that he should now make provision for their future.

He called in an insurance broker to help him chose a good protection plan and an investment plan for the coming days when he might not be so able. 

At the end of the discussion and all the plans and policies had been drawn up The broker asked for his email address so that he could send hime all the paperwork. 

"I do not have an email address ," said the man.

The broker replied curiously, “You don’t have an email, and yet have succeeded to build an empire. Do you imagine what you could have done if you had an email?”

The man paused and smiled. "If I had an email address I might have been a toilet cleaner."

On a little decision the wheels of life turn.

I have made a decision that tomorrow I get back to the easel and get some paintings on my website.

Now whether that happens or not is in the lap of the gods and tomorrows decisions. And of course my procrastination, but that is another story.

Have a good day and make good choices, for you.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

The Maid.

For those who have very kindly been asking about the recovery of my phone, I thank you very much for the kind words. I did not get it back and sadly it seems as if it has as yet not been switched back on. Fortunately I have been able to set it up so that if and when it is switched on a message will appear on it saying it is a lost phone and my phone number. It will then wipe itself clean and become pretty much useless to anybody. They cannot even make calls from it. So I do not feel as upset and concerned as I was. I was at the apple store yesterday and they assured me I had done all that I can to make sure no access to the phone is possible.

So my mind has pretty much been taken up yesterday with this matter.  But all things have a good side I suppose. I managed to make another little stride towards reaching my target weight. I set myself the target of getting back from the heights I had reached to my old normal weight and I am just three or so pounds away. So as they say every cloud has a silver lining. 

I have had to replace my phone and have the new phone I vowed I would never purchase, Apple of course.

All of this made me remember the story of another phone and another call. 

A man was away at a conference when he decided during a short break to call home to his wife. 

He took out his mobile phone and dialled home. A strange voice answered.

The man asks who it was that was speaking.

"This is the maid ," says the voice.

"We do not have a maid,: He replies.

"I was just hired this morning, by the lady of the house."

"Well, this is her husband here. Is she there."

"MMM she is upstairs in the bedroom with someone whom I just accepted was her husband."

The man is very angry and says to the new maid, "Do you want to earn £50,000?"

"Sure , what do I have to do?"

"Go to my study. In the right hand desk drawer find a key. It opens the metal locker behind the desk. Open it and take out the shotgun, it is loaded. Go upstairs and shoot that cheating wife and the cheat she is with."

The man hears the phone being put down. Then footsteps climbing the stairs, followed by two gunshots.

The maid comes back and picks up the phone.

"What should I do with the bodies?'

"Throw them in the swimming pool."

"What swimming pool? There is no swimming pool here."

"Oh, is that 01383 447518?

Phones are marvellous things but need to be treated and handled with care.  I hope you have a good day and yes smile. I am hoping my day today is so good I can forget the two days just gone. 

Friday, 21 October 2016

Feeling Lost.

I am not feeling at all inspired this morning. Yesterday I went to visit with my friends. All went well until I got on the bus to come home. The bus was delayed and I took out my mobile to text home to alert my wife that I would be late home because of the delay.

Have received a response I put my phone back into my pocket. On getting home I discovered it was no longer there. having been met at the bus stop, the only place it could be was left on the bus.  All enquiries to date have not resulted in my finding my phone. What I do know is that it is switched off because my find my phone programme cannot locate it.

I live in a sense of vain hope that it might yet turn up.

I feel very much like Will who did not lose his phone but his luggage. 

He had arrived off a long distance flight and went to collect his baggage from the carousel. He waited and waited and it did not arrive. 

He went straight to the lost luggage department to report his loss. 

The lady at the counter said in a very assuring voice, "Do not be concerned sir. We are highly trained professionals and very skilled." 

Will began to feel a bit better. Then the lady went on.

"Now lets make a start. Has your plane arrived yet?" 

I have to say I do not feel very much like smiling at this moment but go on join me in a smile.

I hope you have a good day. 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The sleepy teacher.

The Wife of a Friend.

When I was a teacher I had a large number of students congregated in my room at lunch time. Some of them just came to get away from the noise of fellow students in the dinner hall. They used my room as a quiet space to have their lunch. 

It was interesting to share with them their experiences and the things they found fun and the things they found difficult. 

Others came because they were unable to take my subject as a timetabled part of their day. I gave them tuition during the lunchtime and sometimes for an hour or sa at the end of the day. it was always good to be able to encourage those who really wanted to learn to have the opportunity to do just that. 

Yesterday I was thinking about this. I was doing so because I had sat down to have a coffee after doing various things I had to get done. I found myself nodding off, I had one of those moments I call a noddy moment. My head nodded me awake. Now I know there is a technical name for that but it has slipped my mind for the moment. 

I remembered at least one occasion when this happened to me during those lunch breaks. I remember students teasing me that I had fallen asleep. 

"No, No I would protest. I had not fallen asleep I was mediating."

They just smiled and said, "Yeah right."

This reminded me yesterday of another little tale.

Another teacher used to take a regular little cat nap, sometimes during a lesson when the students were involved in an unsupervised task he had set them. 

When challenged by his students, as I was, he would tell them that he was not sleeping but that he was visiting the sages of dreamland for some words of wisdom.

One day this teacher gave one of his students a reprimand for not listening to what was being said.

The student said, " Was not sleeping I was off visiting the sages for a word of wisdom."

"What did they say?" demanded the teacher.

"I asked them if they had visits from you on a regular basis Sir. They told me they had never met you."

If you visit the sages visit the sages, if you sleep sleep. But be honest about what you do because you will surely be found out. 

Have a good day. 

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Two Little Thoughts.

Yesterday I really did not do a great deal in the way of thinking. I was far too busy with the physical task of cutting back a lot of the growth on the shrubs in my garden. The day was well into the afternoon before I got that and the lawns done.

I am pleased with how things are looking, probably the tidies I have managed to get the garden since I moved here.  Feeling pleased about it I thought I would go for a four mile walk around two lovely little lochs not far from where I live. In fact it is only about a mile and a half to walk round the two of them So I usually do three circuits giving me a decent walk. It is a popular walk and there are normally people who pass the time of day. Talk about the birds or the beauty of the trees at the moment is the name of the game.

Having completed my walk I decided to go home and complete the garden by planting up some of the flower pots that had been removed being past their best. 

It was at the garden centre that I had my first real thoughts of any merit of my day.

The garden centre was very busy, probably a great many people like me with the same ideas as me. But there was something that brought a real smile to my face. 

The garden centre had been, like me freshening up one or two corners. There was a notice saying , "Beware, Wet Paint." 

Now If I had told most of those people that there were over forty-two million stars in the sky they would mostly have just believed me. So why was it that so many people had to test if that paint was in fact wet. I was almost tempted to test it myself. 

This also made me wonder why banks have the doors open and welcoming, and yet they still have the pens secured with a little chain?

Have a good day and remember all those little things that can make you smile. We are constantly surrounded by the possibilities of a smile or a frown. Smiling is better.

You do not need a parachute if you are going to sky dive. You only need one if you are thinking about doing it twice. 

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Cutting Shrubs.

I spent a fair bit of my day yesterday cutting back the great many shrubs in my garden. A time consuming and tedious task. 

I have only been in the house just over a year so this is only the second time I have had to do it. Why is it always cold on the days these tasks have to be done?  Yesterday I had to stop at mid point because the rain came on far to heavy to continue. 

As I was doing it I found myself thinking of ways I could possibly do it faster. At that point I was sure I saw my father over my shoulder pointing at one of the bushes.  Let me assure you I am not losing my sanity. 

It was just one of my neighbours out walking his dog.

It took me back many years when I was still in the boy scouts. It was, "Bob a Job," week. There was always competition between us to see who could do the most tasks and who could collect the most money. A bob was one shilling. There were twenty shillings to the pound, so we had to do at least twenty jobs to get to the pound. 

I was doing very well and most of the jobs I had been given were easily accomplished in an hour or so. Going for messages weeding a flower bed or cutting a lawn. 

Then I was asked to cut the lawn of one of my neighbours. it really could not be called a lawn it was really her grass. Front and back garden was knee high grass. It was a frightening task and I could see myself spending at least one whole day for my bob. 

I took the job remember my father saying to me turn down no job and do the best you can. I laboured hard on the cutting of that grass and it was exhausting work. I will never forget the time when I thought I had done well and the task was completed. 

My father stood on the pavement and pointed at some clumps he felt were not cut properly.It took me at least another hour as each time he pointed to another bit. 

I was so glad when he turned and walked away letting me call the task done.

Later that night he asked if I had collected my shilling. I told hime I was to get it the next day.  But that my chance of doing well over the week had taken a big set back. A whole day for one shilling. 

"If you do a job do it to the very best of your ability;" he said again

I slept well that night even though I felt I had been exploited. 

Next day I was up and ready scout uniform on looking for more tasks to try and reach my target.  The neighbour whose grass I had cut gave me an envelope as I headed out the gate. I thanked her and wondered where to begin looking for my first task of the day, the envelope in my shirt pocket. 

I did not have to look far. The neighbours were all asking me if I would cut their grass or weed their flower beds. I had a list of jobs to keep me going until the week ended. 

The lesson I learned and learned well was that if you do something well then others will encourage you and reward you with their support. Then the big surprise, the envelope contained not my shilling but a,  "Ten bob note.'  I was overwhelmed. 

So not surprising I see my father pointing every time I think I might take shortcuts. A lesson well learned.

Have a great day.

Monday, 17 October 2016

The Woodcutter.

There are times when we get so caught up in our lives that we fail to notice other things that need to be getting done. Normally one of the first things I do when returning from time away is get out into my paint space and make a start of paintings I have buzzing in my head. 

I have now been home two weeks and have as yet not made a start. 

I have been trying so very hard to get me weight back down to where I feel it would be good for me. Probably because I am getting older I am finding that battle a much more difficult one to win. It is taking me much longer this time round. 

I was brought to a sharp intake of awareness yesterday when I foolishly after long walk in the morning, headed out last night to do four miles in the dark. I knew I would be walking through woods and it would take me longer in the dark but set off nevertheless. Silly really. 

So I was reminded of the man who was given a job as a forestry worker.

Once upon a time, a very strong woodcutter asked for a job in a timber merchant and he got it. The pay was really good and so were the work conditions. 
For those reasons, the woodcutter was determined to do his best.
His boss gave him an axe and showed him the area where he supposed to work.
The first day, the woodcutter managed to cut and clean 18 trees.
“Congratulations,” the boss said. “Go on that way!”
Very motivated by the boss words, the woodcutter tried harder the next day, but he could only manage 15 trees. 
The third day he tried even harder, but he could only manage 10 trees. 
Day after day the number of trees cut and prepared became less and less.
“I must be losing my strength”, the woodcutter thought. He went to the boss and apologized, saying that he could not understand what was going on.
“When was the last time you sharpened your axe?” the boss asked.
“Sharpen? I had no time to sharpen my axe. I have been very busy trying to cut trees…”
It really is all about making sure that you can see the wood from the trees. 

Have a good day. 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Who Are You

I passed a number of young folk yesterday out playing in spite of the bad weather. There was a break in the rain and they were getting ready to make the most of the time available to play without getting soaked like I was.

They were about to pick their teams and play a game of football. The goals were made up with four jackets lain in a bundle on the soaking wet grass. I could already hear the comments when they took those home.

I also smiled and wondered how long it would be before they had the inevitable argument about wether the ball was or was not over the non existent crossbar. 

It took me back years. I did play the occasional game even though I never ever was really into playing games of football. In fact when I think of it I was never into team games at all. I was always very much a person who preferred games involving imagination and thought played by one or two people at any one time. 

I do though still remember how important those things were. 

As I was leaving the young folk to the serious business of sides I heard one person making the next big important decision. "I will be Messee," said one young boy. Another , "No I will be Messee."

I did not wait for that argument to be solved.

I was smiling as I walked on. Young people do have the art of keeping you young, because in spite of them never believing us things do not really change all that much. That discussion could have taken place in my school playground.

It reminded me of the two brothers. 

Their mother had decided to give the family a treat and make a batch of pancakes, something they all enjoyed.

As she mixed up the batter and prepared the griddle the two brothers were arguing about who would have the first one.

On hearing them the mother thought there was a chance of a little moral lesson here.

She said to the boys, "If Jesus was sitting here he would be saying. Let my brother have the first one I can wait."

Immediately Jack turned to his younger brother and said, " You can be Jesus David."

A bit like us all, desperate to be first in line for things just in case we miss out. But who is to say that the second pancake might in fact be far better then the first?

Have a great day. Heading out for a long walk this morning you never know what you are going to see or hear. But there is a smile just around the corner if you let it touch you. 

Saturday, 15 October 2016

What do you wish?


Yes, you will all be familiar with this picture it comes with apple computers. I just thought I would have some fun with it and paint it. It is a lovely picture. 

I had a very late night last night attending the jean Michelle Jarre concert in Glasgow. What a marvellous evening of music and light show. I have listened to the music of this man for almost forty years and it still moves me in many ways. Not my usual quiet music it certainly was loud. 

I mention this because I laughed very hard when I heard a conversation between one of the stewards at the concert and a patron. I will not repeat it here because It was very obvious that both had misunderstood the other. Each rather than ask for one to repeat again in the midst of the din took umbrage.  Yet I could see there was a misunderstanding but stayed well out of it. 

Reminded me of Joe. 

Joe went to a restaurant and after being shown to his table was approached by a very beautiful waitress. She very politely asked hime what she could get him. "What would you like sir?" she asked.

His reply was, "A quickie."

She strode off very embossed and upset.

After a short time she returned having given herself and him time to calm down.

"What would you like sir? " she asked again.

Again Joe answered her, "A quickie."

This time anger bubbled forth and she slapped him and marched off. 

The man at the next table came over and whispered to Joe. 

"Um, I think it is pronounced Quiche."

We really do have to listen and make sure we are also saying what we really mean.

Have a great day.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Anyone who has a heart!

I thought I would share this picture with you this morning. I do so for all those friends who jokingly say to me so often that I have no heart. We'll here you are friends I do have a heart. 

Ok so I was about to bread the fish and cracked an egg into a dish ready to whip it up and there it was a heart. 

Reminded me of the story of the man who was obviously full of heart. 

A lad named Joe was given a free ticket to go and see the Super Bowl in the USA. He was given it by his company for his good service for the previous year. 

Unfortunately when he arrives at the stadium and is shown to his seat he discovers he is in the back row what feels likes miles from the action.

About a quarter of the way into the game he is looking through his binoculars and notices an empty seat right down near the field of play. 

He decides to take a chance and makes his way through the stadium to the empty seat.  He passes the security man without a problem and approaches the seat. 

Sitting next to the empty seat is an old gentleman. Joe turns to him and asks, "Excuse me is this seat empty?"

The old man turns to him and says,"No." Joe says, "Now why would anybody pay for such a marvellous seat and not use it. "

"The seat actually belongs to me," says the old man. "I was supposed to come with my wife, but she passed away. This is the first super bowl we haven't been together at since we got married."

"Well, that is really sad," says Joe. "Couldn't you get anybody else to take the seat? A friend or a close relative?"

"No," says the old man, "they're all at the funeral."

Have a great day. Probably nothing more important on the schedule than to enjoy ourselves.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Bad Luck

Being back home and trying hard to get back into some routine some modicum of normality I find myself thinking back to other places I have lived. I suppose naturally I have even thought about where and when it all started. Because over the years the choices and decisions made in those days have brought me to where I am now.

This building depicted above was where a great many of the important decisions I made in my early life were made. There are some who read this will recognise this as Rosyth Parish Church. The people of this church played a large part in the decisions that shaped my whole life. 

While quietly thinking about this, and wondering what might have been different if I had made other choices way back then. 

This brought to mind the story of the Chinese Taoist Farmer. A story I return to often. 

There is a Chinese story of an old farmer who had an old horse for tilling his fields. 

One day the horse escaped into the hills and, when all the farmer's neighbours sympathised with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, 'Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?'

A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, 'Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?'

Then, when the farmer's son was attempted to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, 'Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?' 

Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer's son with his broken leg they let him off. Now was that good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?

So back to my early thoughts. Would life have been different? Who knows?

Good luck , bad luck, who knows? The reality of life is that we just have to make the very best of the day that lies before us. It really has little to do with good luck bad luck. It is about making decisions and making the very best of the actions of the day.

Have a great day.