Friday 30 April 2010

Being Humane For The Homeless.

Recently, two of my blogging friends 'A Homeless Man Dies, Alone And Discarded.' by 'askcherlock' and
'Homeless Man Dies As People Look And Walk By.', by 'Kelly', posted up and reflected upon the saddening, disturbing plight of a homeless man; captured on video.
Now that video is demonstration of the blight that plagues some sections of humanity.  The indifference, the not wanting to get involved mentality of an apathetic Society.
Perhaps those passing by the poor homeless soul in that video
 would have ignored the fate of anyone.  They may have walked by a crying child; they may have walked by a well-dressed man bleeding in the gutter.  They might have ignored the pleas of a battered and bruised woman; the victim of domestic violence.
Yet I do wonder if, based on appearance, the homeless man was left in despair. Considered by those who too easily pass judgement; to be a pitiful waste and not worth bothering with.  I just don't know.
One of the most profound times in my life was when I worked with the homeless and the 'rough sleepers' in the city of Stoke-on-Trent.  The people I worked with did not fit the convenient stereotypes.  There was the educated, articulate man who had lost everything through a bitter divorce.  Everything except his dignity.  There was the young father with his daughter who called home a cardboard box.  Then there were the teenagers.  Frightened, homeless kids shunned by their families.  I provided them with warm drinks and kind conversation.  You could see in their eyes how much such gestures meant.
Of course, I witnessed the drug-fuelled and drunken behaviour.  The sad, the desperate, the lonely, trying to find comfort from a hostile environment.  Indeed, the combination of drugs and the relentless fear of not knowing what was happening to their lives; is a prime factor in the onslaught of mental illness.  A negative reality can have deep and lasting effects on the mental health well being of those who have found their life turned upside down.
Those times working with the homeless and the rough sleepers has provided a powerful and inspirational impact on me.  I know you cannot pass judgement on others based on preconceived notions and misconceptions.  I may see a brother or sister in need and I will not pass them by.  I see people, through circumstances beyond their control, lying cold, tired, hungry and alone in darkened shop doorways.  I see the sadness in their eyes.  I note the looks of disgust from those who are more than willing to stigmatise.
Circumstances so overwhelming and despairing can happen to any of us.  This isn't just being humane for the homeless.  This is being humane to all humanity.  So imagine if you were that lost soul in a darkened shop doorway;  you may well experience the human disease of apathy.  I hope not.

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Focus On Respecting Nature.

In today's fast-paced, hectic society; we can forget to slow down and marvel at the wonders that our lives, our world, has to offer.  When we look, really look, the world has precious gifts for us all to embrace.
The other day I was at my local 'Focus' 'DIY' shop in Leek to check out what was available in the gardening section.  I went there to look at the variety of plants, and yes, of course, I kept an eye out for garden gnomes, fairies and solar lamps.
It was a very pleasant day and the day became even nicer.  As I strolled about; I came upon  a wondrous sight.  A blackbird was nesting right between the 'Winning Plants'.  How marvellous that the nesting home of the blackbird was respected.  I had witnessed  the natural environment of one of earth's little creatures, in an  unnatural setting.
I left the gardening centre with a garden gnome and a solar lamp.  Yet, all I could think about was that little bird.  If I had been rushing about all over the place;  that magical moment may have passed me by.  I stopped just long  enough to savour a truly heart warming vision.  I'm so glad I took my camera.

I took one more photograph.  Being very careful not to disturb our little winged friend; I discreetly took the above picture.
Sometimes, we need to reflect upon life and appreciate what our world has to offer.  When we do this; the rewards for all of us are abundant, profound and so positively inspirational.  Like the good folks at 'Focus'; I focus on respecting nature.  A small yet significant moment in my day.

Saturday 24 April 2010

Non-Stick Frying Pans.

Behold the 'non-stick' frying pan.  Pictured are the remnants of bacon and eggs that got stuck on a 'non-stick' frying pan.  In fact, according to my calculations, twenty seven full English breakfasts have been left stuck on our 'non-stick' frying pan.  Eggs over easy?  I don't think so.  More like, eggs wont turn at all.  And the spatula to aid in the removal and flipping of food in the 'non-stick' frying pan?   Forget it.  Suddenly, I'm thinking, to hell with it and start contemplating the merits of a chisel.

Each time I purchase a 'non-stick frying pan; the instructions are read meticulously.  "Don't put empty pan on a hot burner or in a heated oven.  Don't put a hot pan in cold water or pour cold water on it.  Leave to cool before washing in hot, soapy water.  Avoid metal utensils and do not use scouring pads, steel wool or abrasives when cleaning non-stick pans.  Always use plastic, nylon or wooden utensils.  Use a low to medium heat.  Too much heat will cause food to burn and may damage the non-stick surface.  Wash pan immediately after use. (What?  I thought I read a sentence above that noted to leave to cool before washing).  Leave parts to soak before trying to remove stubborn food residue."  Okay, done all that.  No joy.  Where the heck is the chisel and maybe a stick of dynamite?

And now for something that has nothing to do with the title of this posting.  I have noticed that solar lamps are not the most reliable of product.  Pictured are solar lamps, or, if you prefer, 'unsolar' lamps.  This is the unsolar lamp section of my garden.  Each non functioning unsolar lamp will, however, be utilised.  Each one will have a pretty little flower placed in it.  So all is not lost.

Sadly, the solar lamps that do work are being targeted.  The thing is that birds are no longer happy shitting on my head.  Birds now shit on my solar lamps.  Bird shit on solar lamp equals complete lack of cute glowing light.  I have a suspicion that birds and cats are conspiring against me in my garden.  Birds crap on the lamps.  Cats crap in my vegetable patch.

One more thing that has absolutely nothing to do with the title of this posting.  Have you ever noticed that the vacuum cleaner wont suck up that one piece of fluff?  You try several times.  Finally, you give up and stick the piece of fluff into your jean's trouser pocket, which is already stuffed full of used tissue paper.  You then put your jeans in the washing machine that keeps flooding and find all your clothes covered in fluff and tissues that you put in the washing machine that keeps flooding.

Pictured above is my latest 'non-stick' frying pan.  I have no idea why I bother.  Lets give it a go.  Would you like some breakfast?  I would kindly ask that you bring your own chisel and forget I mentioned dynamite...

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Passing The Driving Test.

I sit here in front of my computer.  Comforted by a powerful and profound realisation that I have confronted my fears and refused to be overwhelmed by that sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I challenged my fear of driving.  I refused to let my terror of driving alone to a place I had never been before; get the better of my determined spirit.  The worry of going to a party and being with many people, would take this lonely recluse, way out of his comfort zone.  I could of made many an excuse not to go.  The excuses were left at home.  The negative 'inner chatter' was reduced from a relentless scream to a quiet whisper.
I was meticulous in my preparation for the long drive from Leek to Durham. Yes, that's Durham, England, not Durham, North Carolina.  Now that really would have been a challenge.  Indeed, this was going to be a drive that would take me on the motorway for the first time in nearly ten years.  I washed the car reckoning that would save me fuel.  I vacuumed  the car to save even more fuel.  I was very aware that £10 would about fill it up to empty.
So off I went.  Mile after terrifying mile, passed by.  Hour after nerve-wracking hour, passed by.  Almost four hours elapsed.  Then I took that final turn and my friends Julie and Philip, welcomed me with open arms.  I had arrived in more ways than one.
A warm euphoric wave swept over me.  All along the journey I had tried to overcome my anxiety with a positive visualisation of such a rewarding outcome.  That was phase one.  The party would be next and a new test on my battered self esteem; would soon be realised.  The party was a gathering; a celebration of Julie's birthday.  It was fun and I was okay.  Me, the recluse, was amongst friends and for the first time in a very long time; I felt like I was a part of something.  A part of something very special.  I even got to be a little bit silly.  You may note this in the above photograph as I posed in Julie's 'Jessica Rabbit' wig.  I can assure you that is not really my hair.

And thus I went for a stroll through Durham.  The glowing lamp; the distant vision of Durham cathedral; symbolic in my continued journey of self-discovery and self-renewal.  This trip of uncharted emotional territory bestowed upon me wondrous, magical gifts.  The gift of knowing that I am not the bad and devalued being that some would have me believe.  And the gift of friends who applaud the courage of this one man who strives for a happy and peaceful life.  These gifts are priceless.
Now I am home.  The solitude is there but the comfort of better times to come; immerses my soul in the soothing knowledge that I, just like you, have the right to tranquil and contented existence.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

The Driving Test.

I must becoming more relaxed about driving.  I'm started to overcome my fear that left me with some serious doubts about my ability to drive.  The irony of having my other vehicle wiped out by an ambulance is finally beginning to fade.
Yes indeed, I'm getting that little bit more confident.  The white knuckles on the steering wheel aren't quite so white.  The stiffening in my shoulders and the tension in my legs; has, at long last, reduced in its intensity.  Hell, it's reaching a stage where little flickers of 'road rage' have started to return.  Yep, I'm getting pissed off with all those rude and inconsiderate drivers.  'Hey jerk, your indicator light not working!?'  I mumble under my breath.  'Your horn works; try your lights!'  I think to myself.  'Hey son?  Did you see the way that idiot cut in front of me?'  I exclaim to my rather bemused lad.  Then I note the sticker on the car in front.  'I maybe slow but I'm ahead of you'.
Okay.  Slight exaggeration about the 'road rage'.  I've always taken pride that I endeavour to be a cool, calm and considerate motorist.  So now I go on a journey.  My first long drive since the day that ambulance customised the rear end of my other car.  I'm heading off on my own to a place I've never been before.  I'm crapping myself when I realise that I shall be on a motorway for the first time in nearly ten years.  This is going to be one mighty challenge.  A challenge; a journey that will help me reclaim my faltering self esteem.
I will drive slowly and cautiously.  'Hmmm..why is that vehicle behind me flashing their lights and beeping their horn? Whoops!  My apologies tractor driver.  Did you wish to overtake me?'  Fair enough.  Another slight stretching of the truth.  Yet, I will be ever so careful.  Once on the motorway; I shall stay in the slow lane behind that old fart towing a caravan.  I wouldn't dare go in the fast lane and have some dude in a black BMW; so close to the back of my car, I can see how angry he is as he chats away illegally on his mobile phone.  No chance of that.  Stay behind the old fart towing a caravan.
I will make sure I've got plenty of music to listen too.  Perhaps of bit of 'Gary Numan' singing, ' here in my car I'm the safest of all...'  Maybe a bit of 'The Cars' singing, 'who's gonna' drive you home tonight..'   Or, a touch of  the 'Beach Boys',  'and we'll have fun, fun, fun, now that daddy took the T-bird away..'
Have you ever noticed that cars have 'faces'?  My car, yes that's my car pictured; has a nice smiley face.  A car with a very smiley face is the 'Austin Healey 'bugeye' Sprite'.  A car with a rather puzzled look and a 'moustache'; is the old 'Karmann Ghia'.  Then there's the 1965 'Citroen Ami'.  It looks pretty sad bordering on tears flowing down its grill.

Well, look at me, if you dare.  Note the sheer terror etched in the face of the old guy.  'Nice car; good car; we are going off on an adventure.'  So I'm heading out on my own very personal driving test.  It's a lot more than just me driving a car.  It's about me challenging  my other inner fears and doubts.  Did I ever tell you that I have been driving since 1972?   Yeah I know.  I really should get some sleep....

Friday 9 April 2010

Where Do They Come From?

There had been several sightings.  Dazzling, glowing orbs of light weaved patterns over our darkened horizons.  For seventeen revolutions of our planet; these mysterious visitations had amazed us with a visual display beyond anything we had ever witnessed before.
They made us wonder.  For what purpose did they visit us?  Where do they come from?  Why were they here?  Yes, for now, we are scared.  Yet our curiosity; our hunger to embrace new knowledge and new realities; overcomes our fear of what we do not know or understand.  We believe that when you stop learning; you stop living.
We like to think, that through all our times of conflict and war; that finally, we are drawing ever closer to being a world of peace and compassion.  Were these visitations symbolic of  that new hope?  Perhaps, they will bring lessons  from a distant world where kindness and goodwill, is cause for joyful celebration.

Those seventeen revolutions of our planet have come and gone.  On that seventeenth darkness; the glowing lights were seen heading towards a brilliant globe-like object.

Such was their velocity; that our imaging machines struggled to capture a final picture.  That was two planetary rotations ago.  Would the glowing orbs return?  Or, maybe that was it.  During those seventeen periods of dark and light; there had been reports of seeing the beings within the glowing lights.  There have been tales that one of the lights landed and the occupants strolled our terrain.  The occupants of the glowing light were described as being creatures larger in stature than us. They had two oval eyes, two ears and two arms that were smaller than their two legs.

I stared up into the darkened sky.  A neon storm raged and distorted the view of our two purple moons.  I thought of what our world had witnessed.  Would the lights and the beings within, return?  Where do they come from?  If they do return; will they come in peace?

Monday 5 April 2010

A 'Beautiful Blogger' Award.

Wow!  How good is this?  I have had the great honour and privilege of having this, 'Beautiful Blogger Award', passed on to me by a most superb blogger and writer, 'Joylene Butler', author of the novel,  'Dead Witness'.  I would highly recommend that you check out 'Joylene's  informative, helpful and inspirational site at the following address: :Joylene Butler . Thank you very much for bestowing this honour upon me, Joylene.  I am truly flattered.
I now, with great delight, pass this award on to the following ten bloggers.  My choices cover a wide range of topics, but each one of these worthy recipients, fires my imagination.  So I thank them.  I would kindly ask that the recipients, if they so wish; would make a copy of the above logo and forward the award on to their choices.
Here are my ten choices that are in no particular order.
Cher: 'AskCherLock'.: A wonderfully diverse blog that is most informative.and thought provoking.
To Discover Ice. : A blog I have just recently discovered and has some very interesting facts and articles.
A Write Blog.: An excellent, heart warming blog with some wonderful photographs.
A Day In The Life.: The ongoing and inspirational journey of a very dear friend of mine.  A superb read.
Psycho Carnival. : 'Kelly' does a zany, quirky, at times, serious blog.  A blog I have great fun interacting with.
My Reverie : 'Shanaz' creates a wonderfully written blog.  Funny, informative and most inspirational.
Virtual Synapses : 'Ryhen's' site gives my brain a workout.  Clever, funny and serious; all rolled into one site.
Not Singing The Bipolar Blues : 'Sonya's' tale of resilience and positive determination, will, no doubt, inspire.
10000 Memories of the life as a caterpillar. : Clever, witty and most interesting.  A pleasure to read.
Stupidation : A charming and delighful blog.  Funny and clever in a sweet, innocent kind of way.

So there we go.  I had lots to choose from.  There is a lot of talent out there.  It's a great honour to be involved in this excellent community of bloggers.   Thanks again, Joylene.

Saturday 3 April 2010

Something Beginning With 'J'.

It has been quite some time since I have been invited to a party.  So it was very nice to receive an  invitation to a birthday party.  All I need to do is get into my 'Chevrolet' and drive for about three hours northward.  Indeed, remembering the really important bit; to steer my car on the left side of the road.
It is going to be a themed event and I have been asked to dress in something beginning with 'J'.
So what could I possibly wear?  Maybe I could go dressed like I am in the above photograph.  Heck, that way, I could be doing a bit of a double 'J' theme.  I think I look rather awesome as a 'jack' rabbit wearing a 'jacket'.  Yes, it is a rabbit, so please don't go splitting 'hares' over it.
There are lots of options regarding the letter 'J'.  I could be very cheap and go dressed as a 'jumper'.  When I state, 'jumper', I mean as in a 'sweater' and not some guy who goes to the party and just jumps around all night.  I might go as a 'jack'.  Plenty of things start with 'jack'.  Here are some examples.  Jackdaw, jackal, jackboot, jackhammer, jackknife, Jack Frost,  jack-o-lantern, jack-in-the-box.  Or, maybe I could kinda' cheat and go as a jack-of-all-trades and end up looking like a jackass.

The above photograph is another possibility.  One time I left the above item at home.  Not a good idea to play goalie in an ice hockey game without wearing the above item.  I played the best game of my life that night.  Yep, I could go to the party as a 'jockstrap'.

So there are loads of things beginning with 'J'.  I might go as a jam jar; a jester; or a grab a pen and paper and pretend I'm a journalist.  I've even contemplated going as a 'Jack' Russell.  Grab the nearest Jack Russell and slap it on top of my head.  I'm only kidding 'Penny'.  You can come back now.
So I think I've got a few ideas about what to wear at the 'J' themed party.  There is an outside chance that I may go as a 'jacket' potato.  That's right, if you are reading this from outside Britain; what you may know as a baked potato is called a jacket potato here.  See, I'm ended this posting with some useless trivia. Then again, maybe I know 'jack' all.