Sending him on his way.

It was the second day on board the cruise ship and Andrea was feeling more relaxed than she had felt in years as she leaned against the railing of the ship’s deck, gazing out at the horizon.  The constant strain of juggling home and office as well as the stress of her recent break up with her long-time boyfriend had taken its toll. She had been suffering from insomnia for weeks and her boss had noticed that she was constantly tired and irritable and suggested that it was time for her to think about using up some of her accumulated leave. She had been so diligent regarding her deadlines at work that she had hardly ever bothered to take any leave. It was only over weekends or when there was a public holiday that she was away from the office.

So far the week long cruise was proving to be exactly what she needed. Her cabin had its own balcony and she loved watching the flying fish and the occasional school of dolphins cavorting in the waves – she could forget about work for the first time in years, and even the hurt caused by the recent break up was surprisingly not bothering her much. The food and entertainment on board was first class and although she wasn’t really interested in spending much time with the other passengers, the ones she met at mealtimes were pleasant enough and not wanting to intrude on her privacy. She tended to be reserved by nature and found it rather difficult to make new friends. The few good friends she had were people she trusted and had known for many years and, due to her busy work schedule, she saw less of them than she really should, but maybe things could change once she got back home.

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Out of the corner of her eye Andrea noticed a middle aged woman with short greying hair who seemed to be talking to herself whilst trying to remove the lid of a square wooden box. Curiosity got the better of the normally reticent Andrea, and she walked over to the woman and introduced herself and offered to help her open the box. “It’s really stiff and probably due to the length of time that it’s been in my cupboard at home. Oh, by the way, I’m Linda, and thank you – maybe you can get the lid off!” With that Andrea tried to twist off the lid, and finally was successful. What she saw made her recoil in shock – the box contained ashes!

“I can see you’re a bit taken aback, Andrea, but before I throw these into the sea, let me explain”, said Linda. “It has been months now since I fetched the box and a lot of planning has gone into my taking this trip in order to do what is necessary and to say my final goodbyes. So many memories and feelings have been plaguing me and it has been a very hard decision to spend my meagre savings on this cruise, but I think once I have done what has to be done, then I can get on with my life”.

“I imagine that it is going to be a very emotional goodbye for you, and I hope that I am not intruding at such a difficult time, Linda?!

“Oh no, not at all. In fact I am just so glad that you came over to talk to me as I feel the need to unburden myself before I send him on his final journey. The past 12 years have been a total nightmare living with this aggressive, badly behaved individual who ruled my life completely. Being a positive person by nature, I always believed that thing would get better, but they just did not. My friends stopped coming to visit as they never knew what kind of a mood he would be in and often left in a hurry when they heard his snarling voice. They just could not understand why I tolerated it and eventually lost patience with me.”

“It sounds as though you have really had a lot on your plate and it reminds me of the past few years of living with my ex-boyfriend who was also very controlling and often bad tempered. There must have been some good times though?

On his way 2 350x211“Very few, sad to say. In the beginning he was so very affectionate and people admired his good looks and I got the feeling that many of them actually envied me having found such a great companion at the stage of life where many of my friends were on their own and feeling rather neglected. The trouble was that I started to loathe him for cramping my style and being so very demanding. I often felt that I was being totally manipulated and that my time was no longer my own. He was very faddy when it came to his likes and dislikes regarding his meals and I spent hours trying to find things that he would enjoy. Sometimes he actually seemed to appreciate all my efforts but I usually felt frustrated by the fact that keeping him happy was using so much of my time and energy. My decision to let him into my life had not been made in a hurry, but I must admit that there were days of serious misgivings and regret although I really did try to give him lots of love and attention.”

“It sounds as though you probably made a big mistake right in the beginning, Linda? Was it his good looks that attracted you?”

“That and the fact that I believed that we would have lots of fun together, but he turned out to be very ill tempered most of the time. It must have been due to his upbringing and his parentage but these were factors which only became relevant as time went on. I must say that I was actually relieved that, as he got older, he did tend to mellow somewhat and he aged very rapidly over the past few years.”

“It would appear that you had rather a challenging time whilst he was alive. Perhaps one day you will find a companion with whom you really do have great times together. You just never know what lies ahead do you?”

“I won’t be in a hurry to look for a replacement after this experience and the worst thing, Andrea, is that I feel that he sometimes really spoilt 12 of the best years of my life and it sounds very cruel, but I am relieved to be saying a final goodbye to him today. The reason I decided on this cruise in order to scatter his ashes is that he loved the sea and although I really don’t like swimming in cold water, I was forced to go down to the beach with him several times a week so he could race through the waves like a maniac whilst I waited on the sand for him to exhaust himself. Despite his extremely difficult nature, I felt a certain amount of guilt regarding my frequent resentment towards him so this is mainly to appease that guilt.”  With that comment, Linda leaned slightly over the railing and threw the content of the box into the sea. The slight breeze caught them as they floated down and it seemed to take quite a while before they disappeared into the waves.On his way 1 350x233“ Goodbye Rover, and thanks for the memories!”

“Rover? Was that your husband’s name, Linda?”

Linda burst out laughing, “I have never been married, Andrea. Rover was a Rottweiler that I decided to adopt, against my better judgement, when a good friend of mine went to China to teach English and had no idea of what to do with Rover who was still a puppy back then. Big mistake, but that is history now and I feel very relieved and maybe my friends will start visiting me again once this cruise is over! No more bad tempered male interference to worry about. Now time for a nice glass of cold champers in honour of a strong willed companion. Want to join me Andrea?”Onhis way 3 350x350.jpg

 

Easter and the Bunny

Easter is a very important part of the Christian calendar whereby the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ is commemorated.  However, regardless of the religious connection, children the world over have learnt to associate Easter with that much loved chap, the Easter Bunny. He is often used, nowadays much like Santa Claus, as a blackmailing tool by parents to ensure that their offspring behave well in the days leading up to Easter in order to receive delicious chocolate eggs.

Much can be researched regarding the origin of the Easter Bunny and why he brings eggs as well as the significance of eggs at this time of year. For, after all, bunnies don’t lay eggs! It all has to do with eggs and rabbits being symbols of fertility, dating back to pagan times, although there is a connection with German Lutherans who believed in the ”Osterhase” or Easter hare. When these German Lutheran immigrants arrived in Pennsylvania, USA, in the 1700’s they took this tradition with them. Apparently, the Easter Hare was originally depicted as a kind of judge of children’s good or bad behaviour.  Only the well behaved children would receive Easter eggs. The tradition of the rabbit bringing eggs was then passed on to future generations and still prevails.

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It must be rather confusing for children to make sense of a bunny bringing eggs, but all things considered, the end result isn’t confusing at all! However, I have heard of several occasions where the bunny decided to hide the eggs all around the garden, and in the morning all that was left was shreds of shiny foil wrappers. The family dog had woken up after the bunny had fled in fright no doubt, and devoured the entire hoard of chocolate delights long before the children had woken up.  Apart from heartbroken children, it is to be hoped that the dogs in question survived the feast with no ill effects!

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Anyway, as we approach the Easter weekend (except for the Orthodox Greeks who celebrate Easter later than other churches) it is to be hoped that the bunny is up to the momentous task of delivering all those eggs and that the family dogs are kept safely out of his path.

May I take this opportunity of wishing those of you who are taking a break from your usual routine to enjoy this time with your families and to stay safe wherever you may be, especially if you are travelling. A very happy Easter to you all.

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The Great Escape

It was Henry’s first day on the job and he was already feeling somewhat doubtful about his future with this new company. He had been given a pretty hard time at the interview and some of the questions he had to answer had made him a bit uncomfortable. For example, “what was his attitude to females?” and “Did he believe in freedom of choice?” He had been a bus driver for years and had an impeccable record and many very positive letters of recommendation but never before had he been questioned about his feelings towards women! Oh, well, as the saying goes, “a change is as good as a holiday”, and he hadn’t had one of those in years!

His instruction for today was to pick up passengers at three designated points and to take them through to the airport. He had been told that these were desperate women who all had reasons to escape. It was this that was making Henry feel very uncomfortable indeed. Was he party to underhand goings on and was he likely to be cited as an accomplice? Oh, whatever, let’s just get the show on the road, so to speak, he thought and started up the bus’s powerful engine.

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At his first stop he found a motley group of women of various ages and cultural groups. None of them seemed to be particularly happy and most seemed to appear tired and irritable. Another thing that Henry noticed was the small amount of luggage each woman was carrying – nothing much larger than an average sized duffel bag as well as a smallish, over the shoulder handbag.  I suppose when one has become so desperate that the only way out is to pack up and run away from everything, that you take the absolute bare minimum of belongings with you, he mused. He wondered how much Mary, his wife of 25 years, would cram into a small bag if she decided to leave him in a hurry. Knowing her she would need a container to pack all the things she had collected over their years of marriage and which she seemed to value more than she valued him.

By the time the passengers at the second and third bus stops had been picked up and were settled in their seats, it was an hour’s drive to the airport. Some of the women shut their eyes and promptly fell asleep, others just gazed out of the window and made no effort to converse with their neighbours. It was a very small handful of the older women who seemed inclined to pass the occasional comment to their fellow passengers. It was the weirdest atmosphere that Henry had ever experienced, and it made him very nervous. A strange thing was that no-one was using a mobile phone or an i-pad. That was very odd indeed but maybe also to prevent them being traced? Obviously these women were leaving the country and heading for greener pastures, without their families and friends knowing anything at all about their plans. Should he head off to the nearest police station and hand them all over, or follow his instructions and take them, as directed, to the airport? He needed the pay, so he put his doubts aside and just carried on concentrating on his driving.

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It was with a sense of relief that Henry finally saw the signs in front of him directing him to the offloading section of the airport. It was then that one of the women stood up and, for the first time during the entire trip, addressed him.  “Excuse me, Sir, but you have to drop us off at the domestic departures, not the international”.  Oh, so they weren’t going to another country, just running away to another town or city. Might be even easier to get lost in some or other small village than being traced through Interpol!

As he stopped the bus and helped the women down the steps, he saw in front of him two people holding up a large placard which read “The Great Escape – a big welcome to all our ladies”. So this was an organized running away!  As the passengers dismounted, they all headed over to the people holding the board and once they were all ready, they walked in crocodile file into the departure hall. Only a few of them had even bothered to thank Henry for his services – ungrateful bunch, he muttered under his breath.

As he was climbing back into his vehicle he saw a piece of paper had fallen on the floor of the bus. He bent down and picked it up and started reading the information on it.

“Are you overworked and over stressed? Do your husband and your children take you for granted? Is your boss overly demanding? Do you feel that you need to run away? Well, call now as there is an escape route at an affordable price.  Join other women who feel just the way you do and have a weekend of total relaxation and pampering at The Great Escape hotel and Spa, overlooking the sea, and at affordable rates. From the moment you board the luxury bus en route to the airport, please ensure that your mobile phones have been switched off, and try to keep all conversations as limited as possible. This is to enable you to begin your weekend of rest and rejuvenation in the best possible way. We will give you time to recharge your batteries in order to face your day to day challenges. Hope to see you at our very next “women’s only” retreat. Regards, Management, The Great Escape.”

Henry felt a bit deflated after reading this. His life was so mundane that it was actually quite exhilarating to think that one may have been party to a bunch of dissatisfied women running away from their previous lives to find love and happiness, and possible wealth by starting over again! Now it was another day in the life of a bus driver – a first day, so maybe other days might bring a bit more excitement. You just never know what is lurking around the corner- even if you are a bus driver! Nothing wrong with hoping, anyway!

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AWOL – Where is she now ??

The hoover’s given up the ghost
The fridge is on the blink
The kids are going crazy
I’ve been told I shouldn’t drink
To drown my stress and worry
But what’s my other choice
I’d better get control again
Bang doors and raise my voice!

To just sit down and ponder
And remember bygone years
Is really not the answer and
Will just bring me to tears
Life is full of challenges
All my friends have problems too
But the only time I’m in control
Is when I’m in the loo!

Troubles come in bundles
We all know that for sure
To dance and sing and have a laugh
Is meant to be a cure
I’ll try to be more positive
And see the good in life
It’s no good being grumpy
As a mother or a wife.

The day is almost over
And it’s time to plan the dinner
Making macaroni cheese
Is bound to be a winner
Oh no, I can’t believe it
It really can’t be true
There seems to be no power
What on earth am I to do?

I grab the phone and make the call
We’ll have Chinese tonight
Heaven help the lot of them
If they dare to get uptight
I’ll down my tools and take a break
Once they have gone to bed
Amazing how some me time
Helps so much to clear one’s head!

Judy Binns Nemeth

Just Another Day

When I woke up this morning, I could hear the rain was still coming down and it seemed to be dark outside so I shut my eyes and went back to sleep. Not for long though, as one of the people with whom I share my home decided it was time for me to get up, have breakfast and go out for an energetic run. Honestly, no peace at all for the wicked in this neck of the woods.

The constant rain of the past few days has really made me very anxious, and my behaviour has left a great deal to be desired. I find that I want to eat anything and everything I can get hold of, and this must be to do with being inside more than I would really choose to be. Still, I heard someone say that on Sunday the sun will start to shine again, so I will be able to carry on with my usual outdoor activities.

My housemates seem to have a total obsession with toilet habits. They worry about the number of times I have to relieve myself, and I hear them discussing this all the time. Can’t be normal, but I am starting to think that I am the only really normal soul in this house.  What is that saying about not being able to choose one’s family as they are foisted on you, but you can choose your friends? I don’t have any close friends at the moment, but I do interact with a bunch of like-minded individuals on a weekly basis, but this is coming to an end next week, sad to say. After that I have no idea of how my social life will continue.

I love sleeping – this could be a sign of depression perhaps? I think that it has more to do with the amount of food which I consume. I eat, do the necessary toilet things if needed, have a bit of a run, and then it’s time for another nap. I have a very high IQ and hope that I don’t sound too big headed by mentioning this. My mother was quite old when she had me, although my dad is a lot younger than her and is known as a real stud. Mum didn’t have too much patience with me right from the start and, as an only child, I suppose I have been rather spoilt by good friends of my mum. Anyway they do say that the brighter the child, often the more challenging they can be.

I looked in the mirror the other day and got quite a shock to see how my appearance is changing. My hair seems to be getting coarser and no longer as dark as when I was younger. My teeth bother me a lot and I just hope that this problem is temporary as I have the desire to chew things all day long – I don’t think this is acceptable judging by the reaction it gets from those around me. I also get so excited at times (an adrenalin rush perhaps) that I have been known to jump up and down like a deranged individual and it cannot even be blamed on a sugar overload.  I really must try to control myself or I might just end up in an institution.

I have excellent eyesight and my hearing is tops but it is my sense of smell that causes me the most concern. I can identify scents from months ago in my home and outside too and this seems to irritate people an awful lot. They just don’t appreciate how finely tuned my nose seems to be.  What would appear to be a great benefit to me is not perceived as such by anyone else. A pity when one’s talents go unnoticed or unrewarded, but that’s life isn’t it?

Although it has been pretty chilly these past few days, there have been several times when I have hovered on the edge of the swimming pool contemplating jumping in for a dip. The trouble is that, although I plan on improving my swimming skills next summer, right now I need to stay on the top step as my legs aren’t long enough to get out of the water without a helping hand – so embarrassing having to accept that kind of assistance as I am very independent by nature. I am capable of giving a great deal of affection, but I do have a tendency to often break the rules and give people a bit of a run for their money in their dealings with me. I do try to please people but it can be a lot of fun to see the frustration when I refuse to toe the line.

I can hear those wretched birds chirping outside my window, and if I weren’t so sleepy I would get out there and chase them all away. They have no respect for my garden and I just cannot understand why one of my housemates insists on feeding them all the time. I feel a bit jealous sometimes of the attention they get as I like to be top dog around here.

You probably realise now that, although my name is Kelly and I really am the most beautiful creature with an amazing intelligence, I am just a 4 month old German Shepherd puppy with a rather bad attitude much of the time!

Christmas Letter

Christmas letter to friends and family

Dear All

Well here we are once more at the end of yet another challenging year, and I find myself preparing the annual family letter. This job always seems to come my way, as I seem to be the only enthusiastic letter writer in the Robins family.

Looking back over the past twelve months, I think I’ll have to merely skim the surface of the events which have taken place in our family. If I go into too much detail, it will be next Christmas before I get this letter in the post.

January was a very sad month for us all as Jack’s aunt Agatha took a turn for the worse and had to stay in bed most of the time. She moved in with us as no-one else was prepared to look after her. Being confined indoors and not being allowed to wander around the neighbourhood as usual, the poor old dear became disorientated. It would appear that one morning she decided to go out into the garden, whilst I was out shopping. In her confused state she apparently opened the door leading down to the wine cellar instead of the front door. The coroner ruled that no foul play was suspected and once we had all recovered from the shock, and her estate had been wound up, we had a wonderful family holiday in Florida, USA.  Auntie had always regretted the fact that her late husband had never allowed her to go out to work during her entire lifetime, so we decided to pay our last respects to her, and had her ashes made into an egg-timer. She looks really smart in her bright red plastic casing, and she works very efficiently every breakfast time.

Our Labrador, Luke, mated with the sausage dog next door and we decided to take one of the litter as a playmate for Luke. What a cute puppy he turned out to be. We have called him Frankie (after his mother) and just hope that his little legs will continue to take the increasing weight of his rather large body. He looks just like his father, apart from those miniature legs. Still, he gets lots of love in this house, despite his unusual looks.

We had a bit of a shock around April this year. In fact, thinking back, the news was actually broken to us on the first of April, which was the reason that it took a while for us to take it seriously.  In the beginning we really believed it to be a practical joke. Arthur, who is 38 and still living at home with Jack and I, decided that it was time to let us in on his little secret. Well, you can imagine how we felt initially when he told us that he had decided to tour Europe as a drag artist. He always got home very late each night, long after Jack and I had gone to bed, and we just thought that this was normal for a guy working as a barman at a very upmarket pub in town. It turned out that he’s been the star attraction at the pub for the past few years, doing a Dolly Parton lookalike act. (Now I understand why I always seemed to be losing items of frilly underwear and other items of clothing never seemed to be where I had left them!) A talent scout had spotted him and signed him up for a two year contract touring all the major centres in Europe. When he told us how much he’d be earning, we could only wish him well, but it was difficult for us both watching our little boy packing those blonde wigs and lovely new undergarments and knowing he was finally spreading his wings.

Jack has spent most of this year growing vegetables and preserving them. He’s always been such a good help in the kitchen. It’s a wonderful thing when a woman is able to spend time out in the garage working on the car, knowing that her husband is keeping the home together. I can truly say that early retirement seems to be suiting both of us very well. There are days when I know that he misses his job at the newspaper office, but with all the housework and baking he does, he often wonders how he ever found the time for a full time job.

As for me – well the cosmetic surgery I underwent in September was worth all the pain and the expense.  I’d been saving secretly for 10 years to have the op. and I am absolutely thrilled with the result. My surgeon has assured me that I am the only one who is aware of the fact that my left eye is slightly lower than my right one. He says the scars add character to my face as well.  I know for a fact that the reason my friends don’t comment on my new look is because they are all sick with jealousy! The looks of shock on their faces when they saw me for the first time after I had recovered from the surgery reassured me that I had done the right thing. I feel so sorry for Dr. Chancey as some very ungrateful female has taken him to court, accusing him of malpractice just because she believes that her breast implants are two different shapes and size.  How can people be so cruel as to try to ruin his reputation!

Our daughter Magda wrote to us a while back giving us the good news. She’s expecting baby number 8 anytime now. She’s a wonderful wife and mother and just loves their life out on that farm. They are totally self- sufficient growing all their own fruit and vegetables and keeping pigs and rabbits as well as chickens, so there is no lack of fresh meat either. They even home school all those children which saves them a huge amount of school fees – no choice really as they are miles away from the nearest school.  You’d think that she would miss all the mod cons of city life but she doesn’t seem to. They don’t have a television as the reception is dreadful due to all the surrounding mountains and I often wonder how she and Ernie entertain themselves in the evenings.

Oh well, I hope this letter will give you an idea of how our lives are progressing. I’ll close now as it’s getting rather late and Dr. Chancey has told me that I must get as much beauty sleep as I can these days.

We wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a joyous New Year. If you are travelling and see posters advertising “Delightful Dolores – the Nightclub Queen”, do try to make the effort to say “hi” to our Arthur for us – we miss him so very much.

Trust this letter finds you all in good health, and until next year at the same time, very best wishes,

Hendrina and Jack (and Luke and Frankie)

xxx