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7.7.22

CROFTING

 

CROFTING

Crofting wasn’t the dream life they’d envisaged. The stony ground broke tools and backs, the sheep vanished into the hills, and they couldn’t even give the fleeces away.

That first winter they hardly spoke, neither wanting to be the first to admit their mistake, then Morag found the spinning wheel.

Fergus washed the fleeces, Morag spun, and in the long evenings they knitted by the fire. Scarves and hats, bedecked with hopeful pom-poms, sold enough at the Christmas market to restock the freezer, and there was just enough money left for a bottle to celebrate their first year as crofters.

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My mother had a spinning wheel for many years - she still has a cardigan of very fine wool which she spun, dyed and knitted herself. Her hands, sadly, are too arthritic now, and her eyesight too bad, to do any of the many crafts she once enjoyed, but she's content. I've spent the past few weeks sourcing a new care home for her, as the one she's lived in for three years is closing. She's settling down in her new place, though it's bigger than she's used to, and at 97 her memory isn't great so she gets lost, but as she says to me, "I'm perfectly capable of asking for help, dear." And she is!  

27.5.22

 

LIVING OFF GRID

The eviction notice landed like a bomb, demolishing Darren’s comfortable life of work, eat, sleep, repeat. After a fruitless search for alternative accommodation he was despairing, until another letter arrived – his name had reached the top of the allotment waiting list.

Darren built a shed – more substantial than most but still ramshackle enough to pass casual inspection. He bought a camping stove, a folding bed, redirected his mail to the nearby convenience store, and upgraded his gym membership to include access to hot showers.

Two years later he’d saved enough for the down payment on his own home.

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Not every homeless person is as fortunate, nor as resourceful, as Darren, and I doubt that living on an allotment is allowed, but this is fiction, right? Darren's shed is not too far removed from what my daughter and her husband lived in for two years while renovating a derelict cottage in Northern Ireland, although their shed enclosed a caravan which acted as their bedroom.

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I have been AWOL from FF for a few weeks, dealing with family stuff, and involving myself a little in welcoming Ukranian refugess to our village, but Brenda's photo inspired me to rejoin the ranks. Next week I'll be busy organising a Jubilee tea party for the row of cottages where I live. For those of you who are not Brits, we are celebrating a unique occasion - our Queen Elizabeth the Second has been on the throne for seventy years. Never before has a monarch reigned for so long, so a Platinum Jubilee is an historical first - and probably will never be repeated.

18.4.22

THROUGH THE COLD OF A RUSSIAN WINTER

 

Through the Cold of a Russian Winter             

Through the cold of a Russian winter

they flee the one home they have known,

dragging a case of possessions

and wearing every garment they own.

 Deep snow impedes their sad progress,

chill winds freeze their faces and toes -

‘Where’s Daddy?’ the children cry, weeping.

Mother cuddles them – ‘God only knows.’

 They couldn’t have stayed in wrecked houses

without heating to ward off the cold,

so they huddled in bomb-shelter basements –

the mothers, the children, the old.

 Here in England we moan as the weather

turns from spring back to winter each day,

but we welcome the exhausted strangers –

how could we turn them away?

 Summer will come, and autumnal rain -

Hell will freeze hard ere we trust Russia again.

14.4.22

THE SAGA OF MUM'S CHAIR

 


THE SAGA OF MUM’S CHAIR

When Mum went into the Nursing Home she took her reclining chair, which was in her room for two years. In the lounge she wasn’t putting her feet up and her legs were swollen, so we moved her chair downstairs.

All was fine till my brother thought it had been removed for general use. He almost accused the staff of theft – he asked Mum, who got upset – he told the Home to move it back.

Today the manager tells me she’s spoken to Mum, who wants it left in the lounge between her two best friends.

Now I must tell my brother.

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A true story this week, and how I managed to condense it into 100 words is a mystery! I am now about to go and see Mum - after taking my compulsory lateral flow test - so I'll have to sign off, after a quick thank to Dale for the photo and Rochelle for the FF site.

30.3.22

BOOTS

 


BOOTS

Bogdan wandered the city in a daze of despair. His wife and children had left on a train three days earlier, thank God, because their apartment took a direct hit last night. He’d escaped, but pyjamas weren’t much protection against the bitter cold, and his feet were freezing.

His eyes followed the flight of a pigeon and there, just above him, hung some boots! He climbed gingerly through the shattered building to retrieve them, found jacket and trousers in another ruin, and life began to look hopeful again.

He headed towards the sound of gunfire – time to join the army.

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We take our peaceful lives for granted - until something as dreadful as Ukraine shows how fragile peace can be. Here in England there was a fund-raising concert last night, as many refugees are in dire need of everything - food, medicines and shelter being top of the list, and their army needs medical equipment as well as arms. My local pub landlord is organising a fleet of lorries, loaded with such necesseties, which are due to leave in a few days. Another pub landlord is taking in a family, as are many other families. I don't have the space, but we are all doing what we can for the women and children who have fled their country, leaving their men behind to fight the war. Hell will freeze over before we trust Russia again.



11.3.22

ORPHANS

 

ORPHANS

Marysa looked at their faces, tear-streaked and dust-covered. They’d hidden in the cellar till now, but that explosion was the final straw. “Right – we’re leaving.”

Older children helped toddlers into layers of clothing and, carrying the babies, they set off on foot.

At dusk Marysa spotted the cattle-shed and the exhausted children burrowed into the straw. “Titka, we’re hungry.”

Town-bred Marysa approached the cow with trepidation, but it yielded its aching udder gratefully to her fumbling efforts, and soon thirty bellies were full of warm milk.

Days later they reached the border, with several children perched on the cow’s broad back.

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I woke at five this morning, unable to sleep again for thoughts of the desperate plight of the Ukranians. Media reports of children making the journey to Poland unaccompanied because their parents are staying to fight the Russians. There was one child alone because his mother had to look after a grandmother too frail to move, another whose mother couldn't leave her orphanage full of children. Hence this story, prompted by Lisa Fox's photo on Rochelle's blog at  https://rochellewisoff.com/

Thanks to Google for translating 'Auntie' into Ukranian for me. 'Titka'.

2.3.22

MEMORIAL

 

MEMORIAL

‘That tower is all that was left of our church after the bombing.’ The old man spat comprehensively. ‘My lungs have never been the same since the gas. I was a child then, sheltering in the crypt with my parents. The ground shook so much it disturbed the foundations.’

‘You must have been terrified.’

‘It took them three days to dig us out, but our homes were gone. Papa went off to fight - that was the last we saw of him. The tower remains as a memorial to him and all the others who fought the aggressors.’

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There are similar stories taking place right now. In my local area a group of Polish Scouts are collecting for the Ukranian refugees. On my stint in the village charity shop this morning we packed up a suitcase full of warm clothes for their appeal. They plan to take them to Poland on Sunday. 

And I have two daughters-in-law from countries neighbouring Ukraine - one is Polish and one Slovakian. That brings the unthinkable far too close for comfort.

Pray for the Ukrainians, for all helping them, and for the Russian people who are also suffering under a rotten regime.