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Yesterday’s plan didn’t happen. I am still typing, and it is snowing already. There is also a thin layer of ice beneath the snow making both roads and pavements rather perilous. Sons and dog are charging excitedly round the back garden, husband is cleaning the sitting room (he’s not allowed to bring the tree in until the room is dust free) and carols and Christmas songs are playing on the radio. And here I am, still typing, in an effort to make sense of the evaluation cycle and find a polite, hopefully vaguely academic, way to say “I hate learning outcomes and find them ever so slightly useless.”

From the Advent calendar:

They rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. Matthew 2:10.

Isn’t that tautological?


When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled. Matthew 2:3-8

The star which they had seen in the East went before them. Matthew 2:9

There you go, December 18 and 19 in one hit. I’m still typing this dratted essay here. Really, I could do to get the final draft finished this afternoon, email it to Cathy and demand comments, then finish in Sunday morning and persuade m’husband to go for a drive in the afternoon so I can drop it off. The weather forecast for Monday is not good, and I don’t want to be battling through snow, over high ground, to hand an essay in.

BUT that’s the ideal. I have a gift for setting myself goals, then ignoring them if they don’t suit the way I feel.

There were shepherds out in the field. an angel of the Lord appeared: “I bring you good news.”

A multitude of the heavenly host: “Glory to God in the highest!”

Shepherds: “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing.”So they went, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Luke 2:8-20 (December 11-15)

Then my calendar skips a few verses to Luke 2:25-35: “Mine eyes have seen thy salvation!” (December 16)

December 17 – Wise men came from the East. Matthew 2:1-2.

I have been stressed, and ranting. Apologies to anyone who was waiting for the next installment, but I’m still writing the bleeding essay.

There is, there so is a God. Because, in my increasingly frantic search for the missing paperwork, I yanked out some files from recent classes to find that I still had the full file from the course in question – with not only evaluation forms but agendas and activities! – even though the course was back in July. See, if I had been organised, I would have binned some of that stuff straight after the course. Yaaaay for paperwork confusion!

Argh, argh, argh, aaaargh, AAAAARGH! I so wanted this bloody essay done by tomorrow. That is not going to happen. If I’m lucky I may get a final-ish draft to Cathy. I had plans for lots of writing today, which were scuppered by my crappy filing system and being unable to find the extra paperwork I needed.

Consequently, the study doesn’t look too bad – well, you can see the desk top – but the dining room isn’t so good as I’ve moved all unallocated paperwork onto the dining table in an attempt to sort through it. S***b*****d****.

Okay, going for serenity here. The last two days’ of quotes from the good Advent calendar:

And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. Luke 2:3

And Joseph also went, with Mary his betrothed. Luke 2:4-5

The picture revealed with the second quote is lovely. It’s set in the big stained glass window (the calendar features a church interior) and is Mayr and Joseph with donkey. Mary has a halo, Joseph does not. Is that right?

Other calendar pics: a lantern, robin, toy dog on wheels (WTF?), trumpet, goose, crown. I am not terribly impressed.

Chocolate shapes: I think today’s is supposed to be a Christmas cracker. Can’t tell you previous days as stress means I have scarfed them down without looking. Today’s lunch: half a giant packet of crispy potato shapes (sour cream and jalapeno pepper flavour from M&S) and some more chocolate that I found in the fridge.

December 7, on the good calendar: A decree went out from Cesar Augustus. Luke 2:1-2. With picture of a Roman centurion. I can remember reciting that for a Christmas assembly at junior school. Unfortunately, I can’t remember anything else of it.

I was very excited in the newsagents today, for they had copies of the Christmas Radio Times! Fabulouso! So I broke into a £20 note so I could buy a copy (even though the listings don’t start until December 19) and plan my Chrimble viewing. Lots of good stuff, plus this rather fabulous poem by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy:

a buzzard on a branch.

In Afghanistan,
no partridge, pear tree;
but my true love sent to me
a card from home.
I sat alone,
crouched in yellow dust,
and traced the grins of my kids
with my thumb.
Somewhere down the line,
for another father, husband,
brother, son, a bullet
with his name on.

that Shakespeare loved –
turr turr, turr turr
endangered now
by herbicide,
the chopping down
of where they hide –
turr turr, turr turr
hawthorn thickets,
hedgerows, woodland.
Summer’s music
fainter, farther…
the spreading drought
of the Sahara.

un, deux, trois
do not know
that French they are.

Three Welsh lambs –
un, dau, tri
do not know
that Welsh they baa.

Newborn babies –
one, two, three –
only know
you human be.

Only know
you human be.

The Condor calls from the USA.
The Wood Stork calls from its wetlands.
The Albatross calls from the sea,
on the fourth day of Christmas.

The Yellow-eared Parrot is calling.
The Kakapo calls from NZ.
The Blue-throated Macaw is calling.
The Little Tern calls from Japan, calls
my true love sent to me.

The Corncrake is calling; the Osprey.
The Baikal Teal calls from Korea.
The Cuckoo is calling from England,
four calling birds.

bankers’ profits fired in greed.

The second ring outshone the sun,
fuelled by carbon, doused by none.

Ring three was black gold, O for oil –
a serpent swallowing its tail.

The fourth ring was Celebrity;
Fool’s Gold, winking on TV.

Ring five, religion’s halo, slipped –
a blind for eyes or gag for lips.

With these five gold rings they you wed,
then slip them off when you are dead.

With these five go-o-o-old rings.

This goose laid Barack Obama.

I bought a magic goose from a friendly fellow.
This goose laid Fabio Capello.

I bought a magic goose from a maiden (comely).
This goose laid Joanna Lumley.

I bought a magic goose from a busker (poor).
This goose laid Anish Kapoor.

I bought a magic goose from a bargain bin, it
was the goose laid Alan Bennett.

I bought a poisoned goose from a crook (sick, whiffing).
This foul goose laid Nick Griffin.

of a broken heart, one half.

The Mersey Swans, flying
for Hillsborough, wings of justice.

Two, married and mute on the Thames,
watching The Wave.

A Swan for Adrian Mitchell
and a Swan for UA Fanthorpe,
swansongs for poetry.

The Queen’s birds, paired
for life, beauty and truth.

Two milked voters to float her boat.
Three milked Parliament to flip her flat.
Four milked Government to snip her cat.
Five milked the dead for close-up tears.
Six milked the tax-payer for years and
years and years…
Seven milked the system to Botox
her brow.
Eight milked herself – the selfish cow.

But the lady in the Detention Centre
does not dance.
But the honour killing lady does not dance.
But the drowned policeman’s lady
does not dance.
But the lady in the filthy hospital ward
does not dance.
But the lady in Wootton Bassett does not dance.
But the gangmaster’s lady does not dance.
But the lady with the pit bull terrier
does not dance.
But another dead soldier’s lady
does not dance.

They sleep.

fir ‘Royal Bank;
twa pipers each
fir Fred and Phil,
fir Finlay, Fraser, Frank.
Too big tae fail!
The wee dog laughed!
The dish ran awa’ wi’ the spoon…
We paid the bluddy pipers,
but we dinnae call the tune.

banging their warning?
On the twelfth day in Copenhagen
was global warming stopped in its tracks
by Brown and Barack and Hu Jintao,
by Meles Zenawi and Al Sabban,
by Yvo de Boer and Hedegaard?
Did they strike a match
or strike a bargain,
the politicos in Copenhagen?
Did they twiddle their thumbs?
Or hear the drums
and hear the drums
and hear the drums?

December 6: Mary went with haste into the hill country to Elizabeth. Luke 1:39-45. Pciture of Mary with a staff. Very nice

December 7: Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name.  Psalm 66:1-4. Angels sitting around with harps.

Goose calendar: a piece of mistletoe (pretty good) and some carol singers (also good). Maybe the goose calendar is on the right path now.

Street scene: Can’t even find number 7. Oh, there is it, tucked behind a chimney. And after all that effort, the picture is – big drum roll – half a lemon? Why?

Mars calendar: Not going to bother, partly because they are boring (apart from the flavour) and also because I am not yet into the eating time zone. I’m on my last day of antibiotics for the Septic Finger, thank God. I have to take them an hour before food, on an empty stomach. I don’t do empty stomachs. I also have to quite careful about what I eat. I took one at 4.30pm last week, expecting m’husband to have tea ready at 5.30pm before I went out at 6pm. Due to unforeseen complications it wasn’t ready, so I grabbed a banana – and suffered the worst indigestion I have ever had, all evening. So I avoided fruit and veg from that point on, and devoted myself to the all-carb diet. Then Cathy fed me some delicious salads on Friday lunchtime. Most of my body was ecstatic, in an “At Last! Thank God!” sort of way, but my stomach was not playing with the team and kept grumbling sulkily in the corner: “I’m not happy. I’m just not happy.” I tried to keep both sides content by eating loads of coleslaw with my pizza on Saturday evening, but I just ended up extremely bloated and uncomfortable. Today I am buying more Yakult, and taking at least a double dose for the next week.

I do it every year. Cram loads of teaching into November, then collapse in a heap in December. Really do need to space things out a bit more – but then I also like to have two weeks off over Christmas, so…. stuck between a rock and a hard place, I think. I really need another job. Although it may help if I wasn’t still doing these bleeding essays. Three down, one more to go. I’ve had a course cancelled, which is a blow financially, but at the same time I can’t help feeling that Someone is looking after me. I only get weirdo things like the Septic Finger when I’m run down and overtired.

Anyway, on to the important stuff like Advent calendars. I have been informed that Haribo Advent calendars can be bought for just £1 at the Haribo factory shop in Pontefract. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to go to Ponte in the next two weeks, so that will have to wait for next year.

Stained glass AC: December 4 – The Holy Spirit will come upon you, Luke 1:35. With a picture of a dove. My Bible story knowledge is rusty, but I’m fairly sure that doves do not feature in the Nativity. December 5 – “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” Luke 1:37-38. I like that one.

Mars AC: Chocolate shapes too blobby to name. It’s just possible that one of them was a Christmas pudding.

Found two more Advent calendars whilst I was searching for something else. They were in the study. “Why, darling?” I asked m’husband, who has a demon tidying habit. He shrugged. “They’re yours.” Great reasoning, honey.

First calendar has a nice picture of three geese, standing on a green mound, in front of a deep blue sky scattered with golden stars. So why, then, must the manufacturers spoil it with really crappy window pictures? December 1, a panda. Why on earth would anyone associate a panda with Christmas? Pathetic. December 2, a crescent moon with a smiley face. Christmas associations = 0. December 3, a drum! Good grief. Finally, on December 4, I find a picture of three ships. I like to sing ‘I saw three ships’ at Christmas. I was all set up to get riled about the December 6 window, but it’s a candle. Which isn’t too bad. I suppose.

Second calendar is a snowy shopping street. Looks a bit like Chester. Not as nice a pic as the geese, and the numbers are very difficult to find, but it is redeemed by some of its window pics. In date order, I found: a mouse holding some holly, a tree ornament shaped like a star, a marching soldier in a red jacket and busby, a cracker, a reindeer and a pair of mittens. I’m not keen on the mouse or the soldier, but it’ll do.

And, now that I’ve grumped and complained, I shall rest, eat pizza and watch Strictly Come Dancing.

From the proper, stained glass calendar: The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a virgin whose name was Mary: “You will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” Luke 1:26-33. With a picture of the angel appearing to Mary. That’s more like it.

Blog has been neglected lately due to a combination of very overdue essays (still not finished, but at least I’m past the writer’s block), hormones, broken down printer (meant I couldn’t upload any photos), new printer (too hassled to bother learning how to use it) and now, to top it all, a septic finger. However, the finger has been lanced, m’husband has worked out how to use the printer, and I’m going to get the essays finished by the beginning of next week. Or maybe the end. Anyway, well before the week commencing December 14, as I have many fun things planned for that week, and in Christmas week I am going to clean my house and sit and watch loads of Christmas TV and films with Third-and-Final-Son.

So, in the meantime, I thought I’d post the words of wisdom from my advent calendar, each and every day. So far I have two calendars; one a proper calendar with lovely pictures and Bible quotations, and the other one containing no pictures or lovely words but it does have lovely Mars chocolate. I have at least two other calendars – somewhere – plus a load of other ones tucked away with the Christmas decorations up in the loft. They may be some time til they emerge…

Words for December 1: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Isaiah 9:2. Plus picture of a man with a scroll. Chocolate shaped like a snowman.

December 2: For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given. Isaiah 9:6/7. Picture of four Biblical men. Chocolate shaped like a steam engine -why, oh why?

Pictures of calendars will follow at a later date.