Grandad

Grandad

It’s been all talk of weddings and funerals lately. My grandad passed away last week – it was expected and I know it was a blessing in the long run for him. But, with all those positive thoughts that try and drag you through these situations – it will always be sad.

We had the funeral today and my Gran asked me to write a poem. It has a funny tone – because it should be a celebration of life, but mainly because if it was too soppy and emotional, I wouldn’t have made my through the reading of it!

See what you think:

Grandad

Grandad, you’ll really be missed,

for all your knowledge and chattering,

but for me, I’m mostly upset,

‘cos you were the only one who thought I could sing!

 

A voice like an angel you said,

clearly lost your hearing-aid that day,

but it’s always been a family joke,

just like the jigsaw pieces that ‘lost their way’.

 

Yes, you always loved those puzzles,

all those pieces for you to manoeuvre,

then when it came to that last piece we’d hear:

‘Peg, you’ve sucked it up the hoover!’

 

You also loved to be in the garden,

doing the lawns and pottering in the sheds,

whilst us kids played on the grass, trying not to,

get our balls in the flower beds!

 

Always keen on numbers, you were,

Lottery ones, you were keen to remember,

You may not have won big, yet always knew,

important family dates: January to December.

 

And you always made to time to relax,

Looking at photographs; sitting in your chair,

whilst eating a dark, chocolate Bounty,

and hiding a few in your bedroom upstairs!

 

Those times Gran sang, ‘Bring your sweet lips a little closer…’,

As you both enjoyed a ‘sneaky’ drink or two,

The rest of the family singing and laughing,

And trying to keep up with you!

 

We’ll always remember your funny ways, Grandad,

And they will make us smile for years and years,

It will feel like you are still with us,

So, after today, no need for any sad tears.

 

All that needs saying really.

XSXS

Standing Tall

A new poem to share with you all today. It is one I wrote a few weeks ago on a sunny afternoon, whilst sitting outside. I was imagining the blades of grass as people and thought about the whole idea that we think of grass as natural and beautiful, yet refer to them as ‘blades’. I was inspired by Vernon Scannel’s Nettles with the same ideas of Man vs Nature. There is a link at the bottom to a previous post about some of these ideas and the original poem Nettles.

Standing Tall

A blade of grass,

fierce like a sword

standing its ground

in the millions.

A roaring sound,

blows the green soldiers,

not a natural breeze

but their own strong blades

to kill.

Nature cannot win.

Man’s power victors.

Slicing and chopping,

dead men falling.

All around.

But

Mother Nature cries her tears,

smiles her golden rays,

the army gain its strength

again blades standing proud.

Standing Tall.

I like the simplicity it can have: that is it really annoying how grass grows and we have to keep cutting it! I thought of this because my boyfriend has to keep doing ours! But, there can also be deeper meanings of Man destroying nature or Mother Nature winning overall. Hope you like it! Think of these green men as you mow your lawns 😉

https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/that-stinging-feeling/

XSXS

A not so stupid Cupid!

A topical blog today (I do try!)… Happy Valentine’s day! That can mean whatever you choose. I think it is experienced in three different ways: the completely insufferable loved up couples who completely embrace the commercialism of it all; the single people who also then stem into two groups of the cynical and the ‘couldnt give a damn’ ones; and the people who just use it as an extra excuse to appreciate and spend time with loved ones (well just the one 😉 )

I fall into the the latter category. I didn’t always, as my boyfriend and I used to buy presents, go out for dinner and all that smoochy stuff. I think when you have been together so long then you go from the that category to just appreciating each other. My boyfriend, incidentally, is with his true love tonight (he does happen to have more than one!)… his rowing boat! No we haven’t spent the eve opening loved up pressies and having a romantic meal – he has at rowing and me? Well, I am sitting here writing about it! 😉 But, he is going to finish early – as to me ‘time’ is a more valuable gift than jewellery  – not that I wouldn’t happily accept that too 😉

Yes, a lot of people hate Valentine’s day because they think it another occasion that they have to remember, spend money and conform to. But as I say, it can just be an extra excuse to spend quality time together. I say ‘extra’ excuse because it should be in addition to other special evenings. You shouldn’t need Valentine’s day to arrive in order to have a ‘date’ or to spend some romantic time together….. love shouldn’t be an annual event! But you can receive the day with a hug and a kiss and feel blessed to have a loved one. Even if you don’t have a romantic loved one, you can still feel lucky and grateful to have loved ones in your life. Or just stick on the chick flicks/get drunk with other single friends/eat chocolate  – as you don’t have to share 😉

Let’s remember how Valentine’s Day began. Interestingly, it wasn’t associated with romantic love until the middle ages. Before this, it was a date to celebrate numoerous Christian saints called ‘Valentinus’.  The 14th of February was the day they were ‘honoured’.  Then one particular ‘Saint Valentine’ was focussed on when we look back to history and he was  thought to be imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. During his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius and before he was executed he left a note saying ‘From your Valentine.’ Which could explain why it is typical to sign your cards as that now.

But yes the romantic love idea came more into play during the time of Chaucer, where ‘courtly love’ was popular. By the 15th century, this date became a day to present loved ones with confectionary, flowers and hand-made cards. It was from the 19th Century that mass-produced cards replaced the ‘hand made cards’. Sad really, but I am sure there are still some people out there that do make their own personalised Valentine’s.

Also, don’t forget Cupid, who is a symbol or icon of Valentine’s Day. Cupid was the god of desire, erotic love and affection. Cupid carries an  arrow with a golden, sharp tip and who ever gets hit with it, experiences uncontrollable desire. What a lot of people don’t know, is that he also had a second arrow with a lead point and this was for negative purposes – it would cause the person to run away. I didn’t realise this until it was mentioned in Romeo and Juliet where Romeo says that Rosalind won’t be hit by the right arrow and return his love. I love this idea about Cupid as it has a dual effect and shows that love is two-sided. It can be  lovely and amazing but also painful and hurtful  – reflected by his two arrows!

I have to share you my favourite love poem with you today to finish off. I have mentioned it in a blog before so that may be why it seems familiar (https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/08/08/that-stinging-feeling/). I think it shows what should be important about Valentine’s Day and realising the reality of love:

Valentine

Not a red rose or a satin heart

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

So there you have it. You may have flowers today. Or a necklace. Or some chocolate. But it doesn’t have all that emotion and meaning to it like an onion does it?! I love this poem as it shows that love starts and stops like the stanzas and the lines. Love clings to you, whether you want it to or not, like the stench of an onion onto your skin. It is honest about love and a brilliant metaphor for love.

There you go, we have the history of Valentine, cupid and how the day has changed, all for a modern poet to say that love is a vegetable! 😉

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day in which ever way you choose 🙂

XSXS

A White Canvas

House-Covered-In-Snow-485x728

Snow is on the way and, you know what it’s like, everyone is talking about it. In shops, they are panic buying for food (that surely they can get from a shop within walking distance if the weather is that bad!) or concerned with getting home (I must admit I am a little worried about getting to work and more importantly back tomorrow!) and people always have to announce it too, don’t they? Like they are the first to see it, or have to have the first Facebook post about it. It becomes a boastful event – who has had the most inches? 😉 How long has it been happening whereyou are? ‘Oh really? An hour of snow? But has it settled yet? Oh it has here!’ This photo on Facebook made me laugh the other day:

So very true - and when all the statuses were announcing the 'amazing' news, I shared this!
So very true – and when all the statuses were announcing the ‘amazing’ news, I shared this!

But if we forget all the annoying things related to snow. Like how crazy it sends people, how it can ruin our plans or make us fall over and break our necks… and just focus on the beauty of it. Take a read of my poem:

White Canvas
The white sky is urgent and full
bursting at every cloud,
anticipation hangs in the air,
for precipitation in its frozen form.

As the sweet flakes begin to fall,
Like icing sugar onto a land of cake,
silence now hangs in the air
and all is calm and serene.

The ground eagerly awaits
as the icy droplets soak like a sponge.
but as the sprinkles become a shower,
The earth begins to refuse its drink.

At first a light covering gleams,
Then brighter, thicker, more defined.
The blank canvas untouched as a virgin
as the world takes a gentle pause.

I hope it helps to capture the feelings that we get when snow is about to fall, actually falls and then the moment when it is all pretty, untouched and seems so precious. There is a definite magic in the air when snow is in the process of falling. Then we just have to decide: what are we going to do with our white canvas? 🙂

XSXS

Christmas Spirit

I do love an old spirit pun at this time of year. I am planning to put up decorations this week so I felt in the spirit to write this poem. It took me 5 mins so it’s a bit sketchy but sometimes I just like to write something straight out without editing.
Christmas Spirit
We only have four weeks to go,
until that special day,
presents to buy and food to get,
’til ‘Merry Christmas’ we say!
It can be a little stressful,
so you need to stay ‘with it’
so get out Baileys or vodka,
and get in the Christmas spirit!
Believe me, with a glass in hand, you feel much more like getting the decorations out or writing those christmas cards!
XSXS

Time Never Stops

Afternoon guys, thought I would share a poem that I wrote last weekend. It was when the clocks turned back and I wrote my post Time to Write https://samanthagray9.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/time-to-write/. I was inspired by Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Mean Time, which I discuss in the post. I thought I would write my own poem about how time doesn’t stop, it may change back and forth but it never stops – just like life. See what you think!

Time Never Stops

…the hands go into reverse,

for sixty whole ticks,

tick, tick, tick…

they stop.

 A whole hour gained

But light is lost.

Dark, dark nights

as dark as my heart

life is short and coming to an end

like the days

life ticks like minutes

every second is precious

and then the hands go up a gear,

we lose time,

but gain some light.

A fair deal; time for light,

we can see into the night,

clear and enlightening,

but time doesn’t stop.

It ticks like minutes,

Every second is valuable,

The clocks never slow down

and then….

Just a short one tonight, I have my hands full babysitting the Autistic Down’s lad and we are watching Postman Pat! Talk about time never stopping… we could watch the same episode over and over again and he would never notice!

XSXS

Time to Write

I actually felt really excited to write tonight. That is the reason for writing a blog, I realised. The want to write. That yearning to get your ideas out there. I mentioned a few days ago that I had been thinking about rejigging my blog or starting a new one. I am not going to do anything just yet as I am going to follow some advice that I read in a fellow blogger’s post. It is important to read blogs as much as write them. The advice that I read in Christian Mihai’s post ‘The 7 Golden Rules of Blogging,’ that said no matter what you write or how often, you should stick it out for a year. So that is what I plan to do and then decided on an extra blog or whatever. I will reblog his post actually after this as there are some great tips for bloggers in it.

The reason that I get excited about, well words really, at this time of year is because the clocks change. Time changes. It reminds me of one of my favourite lines from a poem. Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Mean Time:

‘The clocks slid back an hour

and stole light from my life’

I love this and it shows how that one hour can make such a difference. Every year when we put the clocks back I look at this poem. I go into my study and dig out my poetry collection also named Mean Time. I studied it at A level and it is a great collection of poetry. I sometimes get it out when the clocks go forward to and remember the reverse of how we gain light. I always remember which way round with the old saying ‘Spring forward, Fall back.’ Using the Americanised word for Autumn of ‘Fall’ helps me to remember that along with the leaves falling off the trees, the clocks fall back an hour. Yes, they slide back as Duffy so brilliantly puts it. They steal light from our life. The nights get darker. Funnily enough, the Britons always think of the positive in this case of ‘oooh we get an extra hour in bed!’ The bright side of a situation?! Mmmm very unlike us!

Duffy’s poem is quite depressing really but has some very interesting ideas about life and time. She says ‘these are the shortened days’ meaning that in general life is short and her references to death; ‘we will be as dead, as we know’ and ‘endless nights’ tell us that death is forever. It is life that has the time limit. Very depressing thought in one way but makes sure we make the most of life, I guess. She also talks about if the sky could lift one hour away from her life then that hour could have been full of angry words to her lover and that could have been the hour that was taken away; ‘If the darkening sky could lift/ more than one from this day/there are words I would never have said.’ It would be great if we could choose which hour of life got taken away… or which hour we gained. At A level we looked at the different meanings of ‘mean time’. Like it can mean ‘mean’ as in average. Average time. Life is just average. Or it can mean ‘mean’ as in cruel and that life is cruel to us. Very interesting poem and I recommend you take a look.

But in the mean time, what will you do with your extra hour?

XSXS

Today, I saved a life….

Yes, today I did something amazing…. I gave blood.  You know their slogan that says that? Well, it is kinda true, even if it isn’t directly. It is the only thing that gets me going down there and giving up my time anyway. I make sure I do donate the red stuff regularly for a few reasons: I am fit and healthy, I feel OK after doing it and also I am a rare blood type (O- , which not many people possess but it can go into anyone). The thing is though, even the people who have ‘common’ blood (sounds like a mud-blood typed character from Harry Potter doesn’t it?!) then they are just as needed because there are people out there who need different types. It is something I feel quite strongly about and I do think that people who are medically and physically well should give. It should perhaps be a legal requirement to give. Because it takes an hour of your time just three times a year and yes sometimes I feel a little sore after an a little light-headed but that is all. In strong contrast it can save someone’s life just by giving something that can easily be replaced in 24 hours.

The statistics that go with giving blood are shocking. I had a leaflet delivered about a year ago (so apologies that the numbers may not be completely up to date) and it said that 5% of people who are able to give, do. 5%! I hope that that figure has changed actually and increased a lot. My blood type O- is only possessed by 7% of the nation. So I feel I need to do my bit for this small percentage!! Imagine out of the 5% who give with O-? 35% of the nation have A+ blood, this includes my boyfriend. I teased him saying ‘trust you to always get an A+!’ A- is also only 7% but the whole A group can go into half of the people out there so also just as vital. I won’t go into all the blood groups but I just wanted to give a taster of how important it is because no matter what blood group you are, someone needs it! So if this blog, encourages just a few people to give then I will feel I have helped a bit more.

This brings me onto another problem though, which brings me onto a bit of a catch 22 situation. They want people to give, need people to give and encourage people to give, yet there isn’t always the facilities to give. Today, I actually went to my old school (where I did my A levels and worked for 3 years too). I have donated at many different places in our small town, mainly because places stop doing it after a while and find another building. Really, we need all the buildings putting on regular sessions and the nurses to staff it in order to cater for these extra donors that they want. They encourage you to make appointments so that you don’t have to wait but then people who do not have an allocated time, get turned away. So really the appointment system is just a first come first served basis. New donors are then never going to get to donate. More places need to exist, certainly in our town anyway. I don’t know if anyone has experienced that in their towns? So, I could be encouraging you to donate your blood and you could then get turned away.

Today, there was six beds and 47 people had appointments in the first hour. Each donations takes roughly 20 minutes. Does that add up?  My maths isn’t great but people would be waiting a long time I imagine. The sad thing is some would give up and go home after the long wait and those appointment free people, who got turned away, could have given. Hopefully, this will improve eventually.

The process of giving blood has changed a lot in the ten years that I have been giving. It’s funny how they change how they do certain things but that is the world of medicine improving and developing all the time I guess. It’s little things like them wiping you with an antiseptic wipe before hand. It used to be a quick wipe and now they have to wipe you vigorously for 2 minutes. you have to hold your fingers firmly on your wound afterwards for 3 minutes after to ensure it is not still bleeding. Everything is about time. The main change this time was the chairs/beds. They discovered that it is better to sit upright to give, yet they then found some people were getting dizzy so they recline people back in them anyway. Good to have the option though. You also used to have to lie there for 10 minutes after before you sat up but now you pretty much do straight away. Oh another change is that you have to drink a pint of water before you give now. To make sure you are hydrated. With this and the teas and biscuits (which happily have never changed!!) at the end, I am always dying for a wee! So I normally donate two lots of liquid in the building haha.

The hydration thing is a great thing. My friend once fainted when we went to give. This was a few years ago and me, my boyfriend and our friend went to donate blood after a night out the night before. Our friend was dehydrated from lots of drinking and hadn’t had a drink that morning. He gave blood and we were sitting having the tea and biscuits after and mid-sentence he fell to the floor. I thought he was messing about because it seemed to comical. He had fainted though. He was fine in the end but that is what can happen when you aren’t hydrated.

My main problem when I give, is my small or very hidden veins! They always struggle to find a juicy one, which means they have to probe and poke at me… sometimes both arms…. in order to find a suitable vein. This makes it very uncomfortable and my arm has been sore all day actually and I bet I will get a nice bruise. But it is a badge of what I have done and I won’t let it put me off. And you do get a real badge too if you do enough donations. I received my bronze award badge last summer, which quite frankly could be a silver or gold by now because there have been periods where I haven’t given. I didn’t give during my Uni years because quite frankly my blood was pure alcohol haha! No, seriously, I couldn’t give for 18 months after going to Dubai because there was a reason that ou couldn’t give back then if you had visited Asia. (I don’t think that’s so anymore.) Also, I had a tattoo so couldn’t give for a year and sometimes I have missed donations. So I feel guilty for missing the odd one, do you feel guilty for not giving at all??

I actually drafted a couple of poems a while ago when I received that leaflet. I wanted them to be persuasive poems and I was going to send them to the newsletters. A flaw in the plan though; only donors receive the newsletter! It is the non-donors that we need to get through to, so any ideas where I could re-post this blog or send my poems would be great. I haven’t actually finished the poems either but see what you think of what I have written so far:

Giving Blood – (orginal title I know! needs work)

We cringe when we see it,

in its deep red form,

but we need it to be fit,

from the second we are born.

You can be positive or negative,

you can do the right thing,

(That’s it so far of that one.)

I like to Give

Yes, I work full-time

do the housework too

but I never commit the crime

of not saving a life or two.

I remember birthdays

sometimes presents as well

I never forget those other days

when I give another gift … (needs work to rhyme)

It doesn’t matter what the type

A, AB, O or B

you need to listen to the hype

your blood is precious, you see?

Only 5% are generous

out of those who are able

so do think about it

and get up from the table.

Any feedback would be good. Today is a long blog, but it is a subject close to my heart (just like my blood is!) so if I have persuaded just one of you out there to find somewhere to donate then this blog has done some good. Go on, do something amazing!

Now, I will bloody well shut-up 😉

XSXS