The Wordsmythe's Weblog…

…On Words, Love and Life

Archive for the month “May, 2011”

Another one bites the dust!

Some posters in a bookshop window caught my eye earlier today as I waited for Mo Cushla to run an errand in our town centre. They read ‘50% off all books’. It wasn’t until I got close to the bookshop that I realised they also read ‘Closing down today’. I was a bit taken aback as I hadn’t realised this independent book store was planning to close down.

I wandered in and noticed that about 75% of the shelves were empty. There were just a few hundred books dotted around the whole store. I browsed the ‘Diet’ section as I had a particular book in mind but it wasn’t there. I was about to check out another section of the store when I heard the boys’ voices; they’d come looking for me with their dad. So I left the store with them.

A few minutes later in the car, Mo Cushla asked why I was looking so sad. Until he said it, I wasn’t even aware that I was looking sad. He then laughed and teased me that I was sad because a bookshop was closing down.

I didn’t get a chance to ask any of the staff the reason why the store was closing as I was in there only for a  very short while and they were really busy attending to the customers who’d come in to take advantage of the discounts. So I asked my trusted friend, Google. I found a very short article in the local paper stating that the store is closing as it is going into liquidation.

I am sad about all the businesses shutting down daily. I am sad for the countless business owners who’ve had to close their doors to customers and shut down their businesses as a result of the recession. I can’t imagine how gut-wrenching this must be for them, seeing their many hours of toil and sweat going down the drain. My heart goes out to them. I am sad for the many individuals who will be out of work and out-of-pocket as they lose their sources of income.

I don’t know the statistics of businesses going into administration but one doesn’t need a degree in economics to notice the many closing down signs in shop windows, the empty and boarded up shops on the high streets and the news of all the organisations going into administration.

I am doubly sad that this time it’s a bookshop closing. I love reading and I spend hours in bookshops just browsing. My day is made just walking into a bookshop even if I don’t actually end up buying any books.There’s just something about seeing row after row of paper and hardbacks nicely laid out that makes me very happy.

Admittedly I can’t remember when last I bought a book from a store. I tend to buy them from the online bookstore, Amazon.co.uk as they are a lot cheaper. I guess people’s shopping habits have changed a lot since the advent of online stores and this has inadvertently affected the high street stores. Also with the technological advancement of e-readers like Kindle, people are buying fewer books. 

Much as I prefer to actually feel the paper and smell the ink, I can totally understand why a lot of people are migrating to using e-readers. The devices can hold several books (I’m not sure exactly how many) and you have instant access to these and any new books you wish to download subject to internet connectivity. Whereas I have several tomes sitting in cardboard boxes in the cupboard under the stairs as we have no room to put up shelves to house my books, this would not be a problem if I had all those volumes on an e-reader.

Hopefully the closure of bookshops does not portend a decline in the purchase of books but rather the beginning of a new and different way of doing it. As difficult as change can be, it isn’t necessarily always a bad thing. As we embrace this change, let’s hope we are all the better for it.

I’ll end this post with the famous ‘serenity prayer’, attributed to the theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr;

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Thanks for stopping by and tara for now.

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Day 1 of the rest of my life

She’d made up her mind. Enough already! She couldn’t just sit there and take whatever mother nature threw at her. No! She was determined to win this war, one battle at a time. This would be no Pyrrhic victory. The only losses by which this victory would be offset would be the weight she wanted to get rid of anyway. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, that it would take everything she had and more to keep fighting but she was resolute in her decision.

Kitted out in her cycling gear, complete with helmet, she put on her ear phones and wheeled her bicycle down the drive. She gingerly lowered her already slightly sore behind on to the saddle and set out, the intrepid cyclist. She’d set herself a 10-mile target for today. The first couple of miles of the ride were along the pavements of busy streets. She never really felt inclined to cycle on the roads as she didn’t trust the other road users to notice her on time and shuddered to think about the consequences of that.

Maintaining a steady pace and pedalling in time to the dulcet tones of Luther Vandross, DBanj, Tosin Martins and the other artists recorded on her phone, she enjoyed the sensation of the wind behind her, pushing her along to accomplish her goal. She was in great spirits.

As she arrived at the foot of “the path”, she knew the real journey was about to begin and steeled herself to navigate the route. In keeping with rambler and cyclist etiquette, she nodded in acknowledgement to the other path users as she whizzed past them singing along to some of the tunes playing on her handset.

The bike ate up the miles and she felt on top of the world. This weight loss and keeping fit malarkey was not so bad after all!  She crossed the halfway point and exhilaration flooded her soul. She cycled on and on till she spied the disused overhead rail bridge signalling the end of the path. Increasing her speed, she bore down, giving it everything she had to get to the end. On reaching the end of the path, she decided to push a little further. MC, her hubby, had encouraged her to try to stretch herself a little each time. So she forged ahead and got to the tip of the A-road.

After a brief stop to catch her breath and hydrate her body from her water bottle nestled on the down tube, she turned the bike round and headed back. She started up the first hill tentatively, lowering the gears to help maintain her movements forward. It was hard. Breathing hard, she strained forward, willing her tired legs to keep moving. Her thighs burned and screamed out in pain from the effort she exerted on them, she was out of breath but she carried on. Riding against the wind, she felt like Sisyphus pushing that boulder up the hill. It took every muscle, every nerve to keep those legs pedalling. Even when she was sorely tempted to stop and rest, she carried on regardless.

As she passed familiar landmarks, she knew she was close and this gave her the needed energy to push on. As she approached the last hill just before ‘the home straight’, her heart pounded out a staccato beat in apprehension. Where on earth would she find the strength to cycle up that rather steep hill? Nobody would accuse her of not doing a good job even if she dismounted and walked the bike up the hill! But no, she wouldn’t give in. This hill was just one more obstacle to conquer in her quest for fitness and a healthy lifestyle. It was symbolic of every time in the past when she’d made an excuse not to exercise. After a brief stop to regroup, she set the gears as low as she could get them whilst still moving and went for it. It was slow. It was painful. It was excruciatingly painful. She could feel the blood vessels in her thighs throbbing, silently begging for release from this punishment but she ignored them and pushed on.

When she crested the hill, her heart exploded with joy. She’d done it! It had seemed such an uphill task (pun intended) but she’d done it. She flew downhill in celebration of her accomplishment and completed the home straight. Exiting the path, she mounted the pavements and slowly made her way home. Mission almost accomplished!

As she neared home, the pain increased. Her speed didn’t reflect the effort she was exerting. She seemed to be moving at snail’s pace. Convinced this resistance must be due to a puncture, she dismounted and checked her back tire. It seemed to have the requisite amount of air. She realised her muscles had been stretched well beyond their comfort zone and simply didn’t have any more to give. She remounted and cycled slowly but surely towards the look of pride and joy in MC’s eyes when she told him of her feat.

Finally there was her home. Tired but extremely proud of what she’d done, she wheeled the bike into the shed and headed into the house.

It was with a great sense of pride and accomplishment that she responded to MC’s question of how it went. “I did it. I did the path” She told him. She was rewarded with a smile and a “Well done, Babes.”

As it turns out, she actually cycled 12 miles. Way to go!

I did say I would keep you posted on my progress and decided to make the narrative read like a story but every bit of it is true. If you don’t believe me, ask my aching thigh muscles and rather tender derrière.

Thanks for stopping by and tara for now.

No pain, no gain

I’ve just got back from a 5-mile bike ride. It may not sound like much compared to Mo’Cushla’s 24-mile ride the other day, but when you’ve not done any formal workouts for about 6 months or more, it sure is something.

I cancelled my gym membership last month because I haven’t been since the latter months of last year. I prefer to get a workout first thing in the morning but with increased work commitments in the mornings, I have been unable to go. And after having jumped around with children for a couple of hours at work, the last thing on my mind is to go to the gym!

So instead of paying all that money to the fitness centre whilst not actually using the facilities, I decided to quit the gym and cycle and run more. This was my intention but the actualisation of it has been a whole different matter. I really enjoy cycling apart from the numb feeling in my behind and the inevitable waddling afterwards. On the other hand, I do not like running at all. I look like a lap dog looking for a trough of water to greedily slurp on, not pretty at all! But I feel I need a combination of cardiovascular exercises to speed my circulation and metabolism, so cycling and running it is, as unsightly as the latter may be.

I’ve successfully come up with a number of excuses that have kept me from getting out and getting fit. They range from ‘it’s raining’ to ‘it’s too sunny’, from ‘I’m tired’ to ‘I just can’t be bothered’. Unfortunately for me, the pounds have started creeping on, stealthily but steadily. I don’t really have the luxury of not doing anything exercise-related as I will just gain weight. I worked too hard losing my pregnancy weight to let it all pile back on again. So I’m getting up and doing something about it.

As with all things in life, when you work towards a goal, your objective is usually more easily achievable. So Mo’Cushla has suggested I work towards a half-marathon – 13 miles! Right at this moment, I probably couldn’t run a mile, much less 13 but I’m going to take it one step at a time. I will start by simply building up stamina and not worry about the distance. As I gain stamina, then I will start to concentrate on increasing distance and speed. We haven’t agreed a time frame for this goal yet but a voice in my head has warned me at the risk of death by strangulation that it’d better not be any time this year and I wholeheartedly agree!

I will try to keep you posted on my progress but if I don’t, feel free to ask about it. I find accountability to be a great tool in motivating me to achieve my goals.

Tara for now and thanks for stopping by.

Sometimes the words come out wrong

So much I want to say

With each passing day

My heart heaves with words unspoken

But the link from heart to mouth is broken.

I try to voice my opinion

In a world where words have dominion

Yet those same words elude me

And therein lies the key.

Verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs

Rush around wildly on my mind’s kerbs

Stopping suddenly as they get to the highway

Content to remain ineffective on the byway.

I know the feelings I wish to express

Deep yearnings within me, to profess

Longing to be heard, I open my mouth

And that’s when things all head south.

I hear the words as I speak

But they’re not the ones I seek

They don’t convey what I truly mean

Nor anything else in between.

It is then I wish you could look into my mind

For the true intent, there you will find

And though the words come out wrong

You’ll see that I meant well all along.

So please don’t judge me by the first words I say

They don’t always the true state of mind, portray

Give me another chance to get it right

They usually sound much better in hindsight.

Desynchronised but happy

I fell out of the weekly post schedule, completely missing last week. I had my plate full with a thousand and one chores to complete and even though I could have just about squeezed in a post, I felt it would be sub-standard and unworthy of you, my esteemed readers.

In that week, EDU, my younger son, turned 3 and had some friends over at home for a party. Thankfully they had a good time. I also took a trip to Las Vegas, famous for its casinos and hotels styled after cities around the world, to meet up with 22 ladies from secondary school. Being in Vegas was such a surreal experience, like being on a movie set but I had a great time catching up with friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen since we left school twenty-something odd years ago.

We tried to cram as much fun as possible into the few days we were out, including forgoing sleep (and you know I love my sleep). I’m now paying the price for all that enjoyment and suffering a severe case of jet lag coupled with sleep deprivation. I was curious about jet lag as I have only experienced it very mildly in the past flying to or from (can’t remember which now) New York. So I looked it up on Wiki and this is what I found.

Jet lag, medically referred to as desynchronosis, is a physiological condition which results from alterations to the body’s circadian rhythms; it is classified as one of the circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Jet lag results from rapid long-distance transmeridian (east–west or west–east) travel, as on a jet plane.

The condition of jet lag may last several days, and a recovery rate of one day per time zone crossed is a fair guideline.

Considering I crossed at least three time zones between the UK and Las Vegas, that means I have a few more days of recovery ahead. Oh joy! I think parts of my brain are still strewn along the airspace between Nevada and Hertfordshire so, needless to say, I won’t be delivering any intellectual discourses in this post, until I’m able to fully recalibrate my grey matter.

I don’t want to slip further behind so here’s a short composition to keep us going till my brain gets its groove back. Enjoy!

I couldn’t sleep for the excitement

You could tell I needed no incitement

I’d awaited this day for so long

I almost burst out in song.

Off to Las Vegas I go,

Hey ho, hey ho!

A weekend of fun and laughter

Happily ever after.

Delayed flight, no bother

I got put on another

They’re all part of the OneWorld Alliance

Thus deflecting my defiance.

After a nine-hour flight from the UK

I was in no mood for further delay.

Alas I should have been in Chicago’s ORD for two hours

But ended up in Houston’s IAH for seven hours!

Finally arrived almost 24 hours after I left

And of coherent thought, totally bereft.

To compound it all, the luggage was left behind

To be in good humour, I was disinclined.

Then sights and sounds of Vegas loomed bright

And did my excitement reignite.

As the taxi neared the hotel

My heart with glee did swell.

Screams of delight and joy rent the air

As hugs, friends and schoolmates did share

Smiles and raucous laughter rang out loud

As anecdotes of school were avowed.

Bellies filled at sumptuous dinners and sprawling buffets

Entertainment by the living and the ‘dead’ at the cabaret

Winning and losing at the fruit machines

Not to talk of what went on behind the scenes.

So much to do, so much to see,

So eclectic, such a pot-pourri

Too soon, too quickly, the time slipped by

And it was time for the goodbyes.

With contact details exchanged

And future dates arranged

Amidst promises to keep in touch

The emotions became too much.

With smiles on our faces and tears in our eyes

Last minute shopping, farewells and goodbyes

Each one headed home to those they’d left behind

Content in the knowledge our lives are forever intertwined.

With measured steps I made my way to the airport

Armed with ESTA and my passport

Hoping for a stress-free flight

Not a re-enactment of my previous plight.

Both legs of the flight were uneventful

I had no cause to be resentful

Safely home and reunited with loved ones

I doled out the souvenirs and tokens.

Though now I’ve got jet-lag

I am no jet hag

My body’s confused about night and day

And my circadian rhythm in disarray.

Yet the memories of  Vegas

Cannot be bought in any Bodegas

I’ll cherish the time I spent with dear mates

I met up with in the United States.

Tara for now.

” That’s it! I quit! You can take your job and shove it up your you-know-where!”

I slammed the door so hard the walls shook and stomped out of  Paul’s office. I knew the whole floor was staring but I kept my eyes straight. I barely managed to grab my handbag from my desk before heading for the lift.

I tell you, I need my head examined because I desperately need this job. Well, maybe not this job but a job! I have just bought a flat in the new development on the outskirts of the city. The only way I could afford to get on the property ladder was by taking advantage of the deals the property company was offering.

I barely managed to scrape together my 5%. It took all of my paltry savings and the goodwill of friends and family to make it up. Now here I was, walking out of my only source of income. How on earth am I going to pay the mortgage? And all the other bills?

I bet you’re wondering what made me angry enough to walk out on my job? Well, I hope you’ve got time; it’s a long story. I’ll try to tell you the story from the very beginning.

I work as a taste and development assistant. That’s just a big title for ‘food taster’. That’s it, you did hear me right, f-o-o-d t-a-s-t-e-r. It’s not like it was in the  old days where the food taster had to taste the food of royalty and important people first to make sure it wasn’t poisoned. These days the job entails making sure the taste, consistency and texture are right and meet the company standards.

Food tasting is not exactly your average, run-of-the-mill  job but I studied nutrition and food science at university and wound up specialising in it.  I enjoy what I do and the pay is not bad and neither are the prospects. If I make it to manager, the perks would be the icing on the cake.

My company makes seasonal chocolates.  Perfect for a chocoholic like me but terrible for my hips. I do a lot of market research to find out what is selling and it is my job to come up with ideas for chocolates for different occasions like Easter, Christmas etc. It’s a good company and they try to treat the employees well unfortunately my manager, Paul Simmons, didn’t read that memo.

It’s like his sole purpose for existing on planet earth is to frustrate my every effort. I’m pretty good at my job; if I do say so myself but he just can’t seem to find good in anything I do. He constantly puts me down in meetings and shoots holes in my ideas and suggestions. Luckily for me, he doesn’t have the final say in the way things are decided so some of my ideas do still get taken on board. As irritating and unprofessional as I find his behaviour, it’s been extremely difficult to report him to his superiors. He is very sly. He is all sugar and sweetness with his superiors and even manages to find a way to make his put-downs appear positive. I don’t know how he does it but he gets me every single time.

Anyway we have this project coming up in a couple of month’s time and my team had been tasked with coming up with proposals for making chocolates to commemorate the royal wedding. There are five of us in team headed by Paul. Susan has worked for the company the longest, even longer than Paul, but her extremely laid-back-almost-horizontal attitude has seen to her being bypassed for promotion a few times.

~~~

I thought it would be fun, if you (my readers) and I wrote the story together. So go ahead and add a paragraph or two as a comment and let’s see where the story ends. I will collate and put all the entries together once we reach some sort of ending and acknowledge everyone who participates.

Enjoy the writing.

Tara for now.

At a loss for words

I saw this cartoon and it made me laugh so I thought I’d share. I only hope this is not reflective of your sentiments about my blog :o) Enjoy!

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