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  • A Little Puzzle for You...

    I just spent ages wrestling Excel into submission to generate this variant on a chart I shared around two years ago. Can you tell what it is?

    - not a drawing of Sophie's teeth

    - not two shockable cardiac rhythms on one chart

    - so what is it? And, since I've removed the units, for bonus points, what do you think is the maximum difference between pairs of data points in the two graphs?!

  • Lenten Preparations

    Easter is late (almost as late as it can be) this year, which means that Lent is late also.

    Today I'm working on a couple of things around what Lent is, one for our Friday Drop In Group, and one for our Bible Study Group (and, let's be honest, at the grand old age of 56, I've finally given in and started to cross-over rather than prepare everything from scratch).

    After a break of eight years, this year I feel as if I want to take on an abstenance challenge, and have been quite struck by the research I've been doing into what Lenten fasts really looked like, and not the extreme version that I was sold when I was younger.

    Back in the day, some of the churches I was part of went in for  the occasional "day of prayer and fasting" which, setting aside that the instigators never did it, meant eat absolutely nothing for 24 hours and drink only sips of water if you must.  This is nothing like what appears to have been Lenten practice - and small wonder that I would get cold, grumpy and light-headed trying to do what was never intended!

    Fasting as practised in the past typically meant abstaining from (red) meat and fatty food, and not eating a midday meal.  Food would be plain and simple, enough to keep you going, not enough to bring you joy!  So, in fact, much more like the fasts seen in Islam, with the exception that drinking is permitted.

    So, I've been thinking what a Lenten fast might look like for me this year, and have been drawn to some Lutheran practices as a starting point...

    • Fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday - one meal only, no meat
    • No meat to be eaten on Fridays, fish may be substituted
    • Eliminate one food group for the duration of Lent, especially fats or carbs
    • Consider not eating before Communion during Lent
    • Abstain from a favourite activity

    Some of these don't apply, obviously, as I don't eat meat or fish, and the food group elimination is not so far away from past practice of e.g. eliminating caffeine and cakes!  But this is the one that probably resonates the most... so I'm going to challenge myself to abstain from dairy products for Lent.  This will mean finding alternative sources of protein (pulses and mushrooms mainly as I hate Quorn) and drinking my tea/coffee black.  It also means I get to do Shrove Tuesday with abandon... there're lots of eggs and plenty of cheese in my fridge, so omelettes and pancakes it is then!

    A couple of other things I'm taking on...

    • Christian Aid's 'Count Your Blessings' here
    • Reading 'At Home in Lent' by Gordon Giles - a Lent book that uses 46 objects as a prompt for reflection and prayer

    As I have often done in the past, I'll blog through Lent, based on my reading... I hope it's helpful for someone.

  • Every Day is a School Day

    Yesterday, Sophie was at the vet for some dental work... it turned out she needed five teeth removed, at least two of which were quite tricky, so she has soluble stitches in her tiny kitty mouth, and two kinds of meds to take.  In the course of her treatment it was discovered that she has laryngeal paralysis, a potentially life-threatening condition with no viable treatment options.  This news, 'she might die suddenly' was delivered in a very matter of fact way - so very different from my experience as a cancer patient where the initial diagnosis was prefaced with 'I'm sorry but...'

    It got me thinking, and that's a good thing.

    I am a facts person, I'm not good at small talk and I've never been taught how to deliver bad news. 

    I still recall, with embarrassment and a degree of shame, the time when someone was newly diagnosed with stage 4 cancer (news delivered appalling badly on a Saturday afternoon when she was alone, and only because I happened to be visiting was I called in by a nurse to pick up the pieces).  She asked me to tell her husband, and to stay with him until he had told their children.  I arrived at the door, asked if I could come in, something he was reluctant to allow, and so I stood on the doorstep sayong 'I'm really sorry, I have bad news for you...'  I stayed with him a while, listened, clarified, repeated, then, at his insistence, left before his (adult) children were told. Not my proudest moment.

    Sophie is doing just fine - in my household all three of us, the two cats and myself, now live with a degree of uncertainty.  I defy the statistics my consultant doesn't believe in, Sasha fares better off the meds, Sophie is her cheery self.  After Dusty and Holly, I've learned that kitties who don't get run over risk the same horrid conditions as people.  And after all these years of doctors and vets, I continue to learn from them how to - and how not to - deliver bad news.

    The last time I had to break bad news, and it wasn't unexpected or terrible, was by phone at 8 a.m. I did my best, but still feel I have lots to learn.  I have editted this a few times because it was too 'bald'.

    Every day really is a school day, and I, like the young vet yesterday, have a lot to learn.

  • What would you do?

    Andy had gone to work as usual that morning.  It was a nice day, the sun shone and life felt good.  Business was going well, sales were steady and the income more than enough for what he needed.  But he couldn't help thinking about what he'd heard over the weekend.  As usual, he'd been to worship, and as usual one of the local preachers had preached a sermon.  It had been inspiring, interesting, relevant - all the things he longed for a sermon to be.  Justice for those who are poor. Equal value for all humans, irrespective of age, gender or race. Healing for those who are sick... it all sounded wonderful, and how he hoped it was true.

    Sensing someone was looking at him, he lifted his eyes and saw a man standing near to him.  In response to his quizzical expression the man said, 'drop everything and come with me.'

    The rest is, of course, history. Venerated by some, chosen as an icon by Scots, Greeks, Russians and, indeed, many more, St Andrew as we know him left his nets, his boat, his business, his family, his hopes, his security and set off in the footsteps of Joshua ben David, also known as Jesus of Nazareth.

    What would you do?

    What would I do?

    And what difference might that decision make?

  • Crocus flowers...

    One of my favourite sights each year... when the crocuses/croci bloom. Just beauitful.