If we were having coffee: surprises

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Spot the bird

Can you spot the bird?
If we were having Coffee: The weather  is  getting  distinctly  wintry, fogs, rain,  and  cold so  lets  all go inside  and  be  comfy by  the fire.  I  can  still entertain  you  all  with tea  and coffee  from all over  the world not to mention all our cakes  and muffins  and  as Paul  calls  them sweets! Every single  one  is  calorie  free! Plus of course  we now have spirits  and liquors  to warm the coldest of  you.

If we were having Coffee: I would  remind  you  that  there  are lots of  other  coffee mornings  all shared  and organized  By  Diana  and  Gene’O  over at,Part time monster

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Do join in
If we were having Coffee: I would say welcome but not to the garden  but to Antigia, we are on a surprise, to me, holiday. It is beautiful here fabulous birds and cats who cheekily join you for meals. Glorious fauna and flora, magnificent views and today rain!

If we were having coffee: I would ask you, don’t think it is amazing that we all got together and found our lovely and loved Paul Curran. The wonderful LindaGHill  went to his address supplied by Blogwoman  and found him recovering safe and sound if a little surprised that his absence had caused such a stir!
I for one am grateful he is safe with hopefully nothing worse than a blown  modem.

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Welcome back Paul we look forward to you being back on line.
If we were having coffee: I would have to say it has been a hectic week full of shopping, packing and blogging! But it is all totally worth it now!

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If we were having Coffee Original idea  from  http://parttimemonster.wordpress.com/

And of course  the

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE:  WEEKEND COFFEE SHARE

over at Part Time  Monster  and Gene’O’s

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If we were having coffee: 29/11/2015

If we  were having coffee:The  weather  is  getting  distinctly  wintry, fogs, rain, frost  and  cold so  lets  all go inside  and  be  comfy by  the fire.  I  can  still entertain  you  all  with tea  and coffee  from all over  the world not to mention all our cakes  and muffins  and  as Paul  calls  them sweets! Every single  one  is  calorie  free! Plus of course  we now have spirits  and liquors  to warm the coldest of  you.

If we were having Coffee: I would  remind  you  that  there  are lots of  other  coffee mornings  all shared  and organized  By  Diana  and  Gene’O  over at,Part time monster

Do join in

If we were having  coffee:   I would have  to  say  sorry  I have  still had  no  word  from Paul  and  none  of  his other  blog  hosts  have  heard  from  him either. Please  Paul if  you are  out  there  know  we  are praying  for  you  each in our  own ways!

If we were having  coffee:  I would  have  to  say that  this  week  has  been  busy  and  I  really  don’t  know  where  the  time has  gone! This  aside  I  have  still not  been  very well  still so not  much  to  report  this  week!

I went  shopping  with  my  friend  on Wednesday, Christmas  shopping….. not  my  favourite  pastime  but it had  to be  done!

Friday  evening  we had  friends  round  for  drinks  and nibbles  and  lots of  laughs. Saturday  we had  the  mother in  law  round  for  a  Chinese   meal  in  the  evening. The on  Sunday  we  had  some  really  good   and  wonderful  friends  round  for  dinner  and  low  and behold  the  Newbie  and  his  Dad  came  for a  visit  and  we had  a lovely  afternoon.

If we  were having  coffee :  I  would  tell  you  I  am so  tired  and have  a headache  that I  cannot  do  this post  properly  so I  shall have  to  apologize  and  say  I hope  to  do better  next  week! IMG_20151129_155706215-001

And of course  the

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE:  WEEKEND COFFEE SHARE

over at Part Time  Monster  and Gene’O’s

If we were having coffee: Feeling low

Cosy Coffee

If we  were having coffee:The  weather  is  getting  distinctly  wintry, fogs, rain, frost  and  cold so  lets  all go inside  and  be  comfy by  the fire.  I  can  still entertain  you  all  with tea  and coffee  from all over  the world not to mention all our cakes  and muffins  and  as Paul  calls  them sweets! Every single  one  is  calorie  free! Plus of course  we now have spirits  and liquors  to warm the coldest of  you.

If we were having Coffee: I would  remind  you  that  there  are lots of  other  coffee mornings  all shared  and organized  By  Diana  and  Gene’O  over at,Part time monster

Do join in

If we were having  coffee: Again  I  will have  to  say  there is  no  post  from  our  beloved  Sunday guest  contributor  Paul Curran. Despite  myself , Mark Bialczak     and  Outlierbabe emailing him there has  been  no  word from him  for  at  least  a fortnight. Lets  all  send him  good vibes  and  hopeful  wishes. All Paul’s  readers  are  welcome  to  join  us !

If we were having  coffee: I offer  you  another  cuppa  and  ask  you  to help yourselves  to  cakes  and  biscuits. I  am  keeping  my  distance  this  week  as  I  have  an awful  cold  and  cough  and I  don’t  want  any  of  you  to  catch  it  so  as much  as I  want  to, no hugs  or  kisses!! I am still struggling  and  today  I  have  nasty  stomach ache.

If we  were having  coffee:I would  tell  you  that  the  kitchen is  progressing  and looking lovely here  are  some  more pictures.

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New Painting

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New Blinds open

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Radiator that matches blinds

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Blinds closed

If we  were having  coffee : I would  have  to  say  that  for  many  reasons  I  am  sad  and  unwell  so I  shall write  you  all  a poem so  as  not  to  say  too much.

If we were having  coffee  what would I say

I tell you  that  I wished  all my  ills  would  fly  away.

Would  that I  could  close my ears  to  all the  harsh words

That  flap around  my  head like  menacing  big black birds.

The  world  has  suddenly  become  dark and  evil

Terrorist bombs, bullets  the  whole  world in  upheaval.

In  every   part of  this  tired, old  and  sad planet

Man is  killing  man, evil spreading, it can’t  get worse, can it?

The one’s  closest  to me, who I depend upon

Turn against  me  as  if I am in  the  wrong.

If we were having  coffee  what would I say

I tell you  that  I wished  all my  ills  would  fly  away.

 

If we were having  coffee :  I would  offer  you another  cuppa  and  some cake? Now that  is  about it  for  this  week. Again  this  week we have seen  more  terror  and  anguish.  So  beware, be safe  and please  stay here  and take  your  ease  and  chat . Thank  you  all  for coming  and I will  see  you all next week! I also hope  that  we  will hear  from Paul  this  week too.

And of course  the

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE:  WEEKEND COFFEE SHARE

over at Part Time  Monster  and Gene’O’s

If we were having Coffee: Tragedy, Trivia and Hope.

If we  were having coffee:The  weather  is  getting  distinctly  wintry, fogs, rain, frost  and  cold so  lets  all go inside  and  be  comfy by  the fire.  I  can  still entertain  you  all  with tea  and coffee  from all over  the world not to mention all our cakes  and muffins  and  as Paul  calls  them sweets! Every single  one  is  calorie  free! Plus of course  we now have spirits  and liquors  to warm the coldest of  you.

If we were having Coffee: I would  remind  you  that  there  are lots of  other  coffee mornings  all shared  and organized  By  Diana  and  Gene’O  over at,Part time monster

Do join in

If we were having  coffee: Again  I  will have  to  say  there is  no  post  from  our  beloved  Sunday guest  contributor  Paul Curran. Despite  myself , Mark Bialczak     and  Outlierbabe emailing him there has  been  no  word from him  for  at  least  a fortnight. Lets  all  send him  good vibes  and  hopeful  wishes. All Paul’s  readers  are  welcome  to  join  us !

If we were having  coffee: I offer  you  another  cuppa  and  ask  you  to help yourselves  to  cakes  and  biscuits. I  am  keeping  my  distance  this  week  as  I  have  an awful  cold  and  cough  and I  don’t  want  any  of  you  to  catch  it  so  as much  as I  want  to, no hugs  or  kisses!!

I  think  now  I  must  address  the  elephant  in  the  room, I  posted  twice yesterday  about  the  terrorist murders in Paris on Friday  13th….. those  who  planned  the attack  are  obviously  superstitious!I will not  say too much  as  I have already  set out  my  thoughts  on  the  subject. Evil  is  rising  up  in our  world  and  none of us  are  safe  anymore. Here  are  the  appalling  facts. 

 

If we were having  coffee: I  would  have to  tell  you  that  now  the  kitchen is  finished,   apart  from one  one  problem  with  the  work  top by  the  sink, that  we have started  to personalize  it  with  a  my  favorite  painting  of  a  flower in  a vase   and  a  new (  though it looks rather old ) clock…we  went  for  big!

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New Clock

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Beloved Painting

The  next things  will be  matching  shelves  in sage  grey  for Hubby’s  cook  books and  a large  picture  for  the blank  wall by  the door.

We also  have  the table  back in  the  kitchen making it  the same  social  hub of  the house  that it was   before. I mentioned  the  work  top  by  the  sink  well  the  join is  not  good in fact it is  so bad  that  even I  spotted  it. We  did have  someone  come out  to fix it but unfortunately  he made it a hundred  times  worse!! Well the big  boss is  coming out on  Wednesday. We await  the  out come  but  we think it  will have  to be replaced. Below is  a photo  of  the join  but I  could not  manage  to  capture  the  true  extent of  the problem

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The offending joint

If we  were having coffee: I would  say  come  and have a look in  the  downstairs  Loo, cloakroom or  bathroom  to  some but  to me it’s a loo. Why, well  the plants in  there  are  going  mad. I  have  a  plant in a  terrine, some  Cacti  and a Bird of Paradise ( a very young one ) here  let  me show  you.

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Bird of Paradise

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The Terrine and the Cacti

 If  we were having  coffee: Let’s  have  another cup  and  then  we can  have a look around the garden  before  it gets  too dark. It  is  ready  for  winter  now  the hubby  has  given it it’s  last  cut  and now it  is ready  for it’s hibernation. The  Rowan tree and  the bushes , except  the holly  are  all laden  with red berries  for the birds… a sign of  a hard winter  to come .

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the Rowan Tree

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Red laden

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The ‘Dwarf Firs’ no one told them that  they  were  dwarfs!

Now that  is  about it  for  this  week, I  am sorry  if  I have have  whisked over  the horror  of  this  weekend  and  thrown in  domestic  ups  and  downs  and  trivia  but  sometimes  when the  big world is  floundering and  falling  about around our  ears, trivia  is  what is  called  for . So  beware, be safe  and please  stay  and take  your  ease  and  chat . Thank  you  all  for coming  and I will  see  you all next week!

And of course  the

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE:  WEEKEND COFFEE SHARE

over at Part Time  Monster  and Gene’O’s

 

Where is Paul?

Hi  I  am afraid  I  have  not  received an “If  we  were having  coffee” post  from Paul Curran  this  week. I am sure  all his and my  readers  will join me in  wishing him  well and hoping  he is  safe.

We  all are sending  you love Paul  and hope  to hear  from  you soon .  I have emailed Paul  but  had  no reply.

Sending  you  warm loving  and good vibes  Paul   via  wordpress xxxxxxxxxxxx

If we were having coffee: Farewells , Funerals and Life

If we  were  having  coffee:

If we  were having coffee:The  weather  is  getting  distinctly  wintry, fogs, rain, frost  and  cold so  lets  all go inside  and  be  comfy by  the fire. Paul  and I  can  still entertain  you  all  with tea  and coffee  from all over  the world not to mention all our cakes  and muffins  and  as Paul  calls  them sweets! Every single  one  is  calorie  free! Plus of course  we now have spirits  and liquors  to warm the coldest of  you.

If we were having Coffee: I would  remind  you  that  there  are lots of  other  coffee mornings  all shared  and organized  By  Diana  and  Gene’O  over at,Part time monster

Do join in

If we were having  coffee: I would have  to  say  take  me  as  you  find  me, don’t  get  me  wrong  I  am delighted  that  you  have  all come. I truly  look forward  to  these  gatherings they  are one of my  weekly  treats. The  truth is I  am not  fully  recovered  from  the  funeral.May I  speak  a little of  it? Has  every  one  got  the  drink of  their  choice  and  a cake  or  biscuit, I  am having  a  hot  chocolate  with brandy.

If  we were having coffee:  We all arrived  on  the  Monday, while  some of  the  family  where  clearing out  M’s  house and  belongings  hubby  and I  had  the  better  task  (  though in  truth  it  was not  a task  at  all in fact it  was  a real pleasure ) of  entertaining  my cousin  and her  husband. We went  for  a walk along  the river  and  talked  about  M  and  the  family, my  cousin’s side  of  the family  ( my mum’s) then  we started on Grandparents  and  great grand parents. In  the  evening  we  all  went  for  a  meal in  a local  pub, it  was strange  to  feel  so happy  and  to  have  all brothers,  sisters,  in laws, nephews, nieces  and  children  tight  around us. Why  had  we left  a gathering like  this  until  the  night before  the  funeral…. why?

The  day of  the  funeral  was heartbreaking.  I accompanied  my  sisters  and one  cousin  to  see M , I could  not  stay in  the  room where  she  was  laid out in  the  coffin.  It  hurt me  so  to  see  the tiny  empty  shell, all that  was left of  my  beautiful  sister. Then it  was like  an interminable wait  until the  actual  funeral. I was grateful  that  all three  of  our  sons  came  they  were  a great  comfort  and  support. They  made  the hubby  very  proud.   Nine out  the  thirteen  nephews, nieces  and godchildren came  to  the  funeral, a  testimony to how much  she was loved. The  church  was  full  and  everyone  stayed  after  for  tea and  refreshments, so  many  people  and  they  all had  lovely  stories  to  tell us  about  our  sister M.

In  the  evening  we  all went out  for  another  meal  to  celebrate her life. There  were  more of  us  there  that  night  and  again  it  was a happy  occasion we  all told  stories  and  shared  memories . I did  wander if  this  was right  to  be happy  after  a funeral. Then after  some  thought I realized  that Mary  would be  so happy  that  we  were  all together  and  happy.

If  we were having  Coffee : Well another  cuppa anyone? I promise that  even  though  I  am still reeling  from  all of  the  above  I  shall not  mention it  again, unless  asked I know  it  happens  to us  all and  that  it  happens all day  every  day  but  it is  the  first time I  have lost  a sibling.

If we  were having  coffee: I  would  say  that  the  rest  of  this  week  after  Wednesday have  past , shopping  , cleaning, going to  the gym, cooking.  I have  made it  thus far and  no  doubt  I  shall come out  the other side  and get on  with life.

We have  also  over  the last  month  had  a  new  kitchen  installed, it is  beautiful and  when I  can  concentrate  on  it  I  shall show  you  it… it is  not  finished  yet.

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Part of the new Kitchen

And of course  the

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE:  WEEKEND COFFEE SHARE

over at Part Time  Monster  and Gene’O’s

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE: GET WELL SOON PAUL

Get  well soon  Paul

Hello  everyone  I  am sorry  to  announce  that  out  dear  friend  Paul Curran  is  not  well enough  this  week  to  host  his  own  If  we  were having  Coffee get together. I am sure  you  will join  me  in  wishing  him well  and  a speedy  recovery. Now  all of  you  are  very  welcome  to  join  my  gathering. I cannot offer  you  exciting  and inspirational stories  or  the  funny  antidotes  he  comes up  with, mined  from his  rich  and  amazing life. I can however  off you  coffee cakes and  more  and  a  warm  welcome and  chit chat.

If we  were having coffee:The  weather  is  getting  distinctly  wintry, fogs, rain, frost  and  cold so  lets  all go inside  and  be  comfy by  the fire. Paul  and I  can  still entertain  you  all  with tea  and coffee  from all over  the world not to mention all our cakes  and muffins  and  as Paul  calls  them sweets! Every single  one  is  calorie  free! Plus of course  we now have spirits  and liquors  to warm the coldest of  you.

If we were having Coffee: I would  remind  you  that  there  are lots of  other  coffee mornings  all shared  and organized  By  Diana  and  Gene’O  over at,Part time monster

Do join in

If we  were having  coffee : I would  tell  you it has  been  a very  busy  week  full of  funeral  and  floral arrangements, my  sister M’s  Funeral is  this  coming  Tuesday. It  has  been a  very  sad  time  full of  lovely  emails  and  phone  calls  from all types  of  people  who’s  lives  she had  touched.

If we  were having  coffee : I  would  ask  you  what I can  get  you  to drink or  eat, and  say  lets  change  the subject. As I  was  saying it has  been  a busy  week  but I  did manage  to  take  Thursday  off  and  go into  the  nearest  town  with  my  friend L , we  a  bus ride, and  a coffee  and  cake  and  a long  chat  setting  the  world  to rights. We also  went  to  the  gym  twice  this  week and on Friday  I  went  back  to my  Pilates  class, I  have  missed  two  weeks  ( since M died  I  just  could not  get on  with  the normal ) Slowly  I  am getting  there!

If we  were having  coffee : It was  Halloween this  weekend  and I  can  tell  you now  that  it is  getting  really  big  business over  here. Suddenly  it is  very  popular  and  everyone was  busy  celebrating it ! Here  are  some  amazing  photos from one  of  my  neighbour’ s   garden!

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Scary in the dark!

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Witches to greet you

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Inviting you to lunch!

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I think they have been waiting a long time

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The warthogs look better fed

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Don’t recommend the service here!

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OH! the witch is off!!

On  an  other  more  serious  note ,  some  of  the  costumes  being  sold  for  children  to  wear  are  extremely  dangerous  and  children  have been seriously  burned. So  there  are  campaigns  for  safer  costumes  that  are  fire  retardant. Read  here  and especially  here  . Not  nice  so  be careful  out  there!

If we  were having  Coffee: I would have  to say  that  I really  have  to  go now  as  today  has been  a mish mash  of looking after  unwell cats, and  my  friend  who is having  problems  with  her  daughter. If  you  remember  I have  written  about  her  problems  and  the hospital  she has been in and out of . All I can do  is  listen  and just  be  there  for them  when I can.

And of course  the

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE:  WEEKEND COFFEE SHARE

over at Part Time  Monster  and Gene’O’s

If we were having coffee: Lets all go inside.

Time  to  go inside? 

Welcome  dear  friends I  have  been  remiss  these last  few  weeks  but  I  have lost one of my  beloved  sisters. Unfortunately  her  funeral is  not  to be  held  for over  another  week  and  I  am finding it hard  to  get  back  to normal.

M. liked her coffee  just  as I  did, we  would often put  the  world  to  rights, argue, commiserate, or just sit  in  companionable silence in either  the  kitchen or  the lounge. I may  not  of  seen  her regularly because  she did not live  anywhere near  me but  she was always  there at  the end of  a phone or computer.   I miss her  we all miss her  she leaves a huge hole in our  lives.

If we  were having coffee:The  weather  is  getting  distinctly  wintry, fogs, rain, frost  and  cold so  lets  all go inside  and  be  comfy by  the fire. Paul  and I  can  still entertain  you  all  with tea  and coffee  from all over  the world not to mention all our cakes  and muffins  and  as Paul  calls  them sweets! Every single  one  is  calorie  free! Plus of course  we now have spirits  and liquors  to warm the coldest of  you.

If we were having Coffee: I would  remind  you  that  there  are lots of  other  coffee mornings  all shared  and organized  By  Diana  and  Gene’O  over at,Part time monster  do join in.

 

If we  were having  coffee:  I would  have to say  that I know I have not  been  posting  as  often  as I usually   but  there is  so much on my  mind  and happening in  my  life  right now. I have  been making  an  effort  to keep up  with  all  your  posts, please  forgive  me if  I  am not  commenting  as much  as I  usually  do  but  I  am still here  and  checking  you all out.

Well that’s  about  all I have to say  this  week so  lets  go  and  see  what Paul  and his  guests  are up  to. I promise  I  shall get  back  to normal  very  soon, please  just bear  with me.

 

 

If We Were Having Coffee – October 25/2015

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image

I’m Paul your Barista

Welcome to Willow’s weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul; I’ll be your barista today. I’m happy to see you have come for a cuppa and a chat. I am delighted to be back at Willow’s serving you, our treasured readers, a cuppa and sweets while we chat. Please come into the garden and make yourself comfortable. Willow fluffed the cushions on the chairs and set the tables in the garden so we can have a cuppa and chat as we soak up the sun and enjoy the beautiful plants. She has also brought out the heaters so we can stretch our outside tea time further into the fall. As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our world-wide readership. Also available is a large selection of spirits for addition to your cuppa or in its place. We can relax amongst the flowers while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. How has your week been?

I have spent some extra time in the hospital this week. I have an infection that is related to my dialysis and it is proving difficult to address. We’re currently using intravenous antibiotics and have just added a round of oral antibiotics. The infection is under control but is not disappearing as quickly as the doctors would like. The initial visit entailed spending the night waiting in emergency – which then stretched well into the following day – actually about 3 pm before I got home – that’s a story. The antibiotics cause diarrhoea and so on the way home, I had to get off my handicap bus when he stopped to pick up another passenger. The bus would not wait, of course, so I called for another pickup and explained what had happened. They have a policy that they do not pick up after 2 pm for same day calls as it is their busy period – which left me stranded at a mall many miles from home. @#$%^&*! I ended up taking a taxi home. Oh well – insult to injury.

So, I’m limping around feeling bad for myself when my friend John (name changed) drops by to visit. He has picked up some TP and bread for me as I can’t get out – he is a kind soul and always asks if I need anything when he is out. He sits down with a serious face and tells me that he has just come from a meeting with his employer and they are putting him on medical leave. He has been diagnosed with testicular cancer. It is early days yet as the diagnosis just came Friday so much testing has yet to be done. He has honoured me by explaining that he hasn’t told family yet. I have had and beaten colon cancer and we talked about the emotions involved and options available.

I explained to him that I have been told that cancer treatment is very personal – everyone reacts differently. For me, the treatment was completely pain free. It was the side effects that really knocked me for a loop. There are days when I would not go through it again, and days when I would. Each time I consider it I come up with a different answer. My best advice to him was to take it one day at a time by asking himself:”Do I have what I need to get through today?” When the answer is yes, then proceed. In the end it is actually amazing how little we really need.

Suitcases and food

Would you like another cuppa? Perhaps a sweet? Anyway, we spent some time discussing this and John went to leave. He went out my back door which leads to a small private deck and a set of stairs down to the parking lot. Sitting on the deck were a suitcase, boxes and plastic bags. John asked if they were mine. I told him they were not, that I was surprised, and asked if they were there when he came in. He said they were. We checked out the suitcases and boxes and they were all canned food and pasta and pots and pans and cleaning supplies – almost all new. Even the suitcase looked new.

We carted the boxes, bags and suitcase inside. There were no personal clothes or goods with the shipment. Mysteriously, there was one small transparent clamshell fresh food container that had been scrubbed so clean as to appear brand new. Written on the tag was “”Deluxe Fruit Salad – Large” We checked through everything and found canned goods, cereal, some towels, pasts and the like. It’s all piled neatly on my floor now except for a big can of Puritan Beans and Wieners, a package of spaghetti and the mysterious clam shell – which are sitting here on my desk as I write.

After some discussion, John and I have come to the conclusion that one of our mutual friends – Frank – must have left the goods there. Frank is as mysterious as the clam shell. He has a room here in our complex but says he spends time at a rehab centre sometimes in Kingston – about a 2 ½ hour drive from here. One day he showed up at my door with the most delicious homemade soup that I have ever tasted – soup he made himself. Another day he dropped off two seemingly random used books – no explanation other than he thought I might like them. He asked me to help him one day with his computer – a used computer he had gotten as a gift. It worked fine but wouldn’t hook to the internet – we have cable here. I was able to determine that the problem was in the wiring in the wall, not the computer and he had the manager get it fixed. It was about that time that he started dropping off things.

Anyway, John went and peeked into Frank’s window and although the bed and dresser were there, all personal goods appeared gone. I’m not exactly sure what to do with all of Frank’s stuff. There are a few items, like partial boxes of cereal that I will have to eat. I suppose I’ll wait for a few weeks to see if Frank comes back.

On that note, that’s about all we have room for this week, so it’s time to settle in with another cuppa and enjoy the garden.  Sweets anyone? I hope you didn’t mind the story today, and that you found it a bit more positive than last week’s story. Please join me in thanking Willow for her invitation to tea. We are all happy that Willow is back and honoured that you all dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation and please look around at Willow’s other posts while you’re here. Willow is over there serving her guests and chatting it up. Let’s go see how she is today. Have a great week. We look forward to seeing you back here for sweets and beverages of your choice again next week.

Sergeant Erica Hay bought food and coffee for the homeless man (Picture: TiAnna Greene)

And of course  the

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE:  WEEKEND COFFEE SHARE

over at Part Time  Monster  and Gene’O’s

If We Were Having Coffee – October 18/2015 Guest Post

Pay It Forward

Paul Your Barista

Welcome to Willow’s weekly coffee and tea garden. First of all I would like to offer my condolences and prayers to Willow and her family at the passing of her sister this week.My name is Paul; I’ll be your barista today. I’m happy to see you have come for a cuppa and a chat. I am delighted to be back at Willow’s serving you, our treasured readers, a cuppa and sweets while we chat. Please come into the garden and make yourself comfortable. Willow fluffed the cushions on the chairs and set the tables in the garden so we can have a cuppa and chat as we soak up the sun and enjoy the beautiful plants. She has also brought out the heaters so we can stretch our outside tea time further into the fall. As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our world-wide readership. Also available is a large selection of spirits for addition to your cuppa or in its place. We can relax amongst the flowers while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. How has your week been? My week was pretty rough but improving, thank you. Last week I told a story here of the last time I was in the terminal where I spent so many years coming and going. I found it to be a sort of fun piece, however from the readers’ reactions it came across as a rough story of screw or be screwed. To a certain extent that is true and it is one of the reasons why I eventually got out of long-haul trucking – I dislike myself when I am always anticipating the worst of people, even though that is what is takes to succeed. That said, there have been some times when I felt good about the role I played in helping people. I’d like to tell such a story here today, with your permission, of course. Perhaps it will help balance the negativity of last week’s story.

This happened many years later when I was driving regional for a gas tanker company, hauling Super-B’s as pictured above. It was a good job but because people drove most on holidays – we always had to work. The pay was excellent – double time and a half on holidays – and the heaviest thing we lifted was one end of a hose. Besides the Super B’s were fun to drive at 80 feet long, 30 wheels on the ground, two trailers, weighing 140,000 pounds when loaded- that’s about the weight of two small houses. We could legally haul about 58,000 liters of gas (a little over 15,000 US gallons – or if you used 10 gallons a week, enough for 28 years). It was a scorching hot 100 degrees F at 7 pm when I finished loading at Suncor’s distribution center in Toronto and pulled out of the loading racks. The sun was just starting to lower itself in the sky on this July 1 Canada Day weekend. Standing in the air conditioned driver’s room signing my bills of lading fresh off the printer, I contemplated my log hours. I could see the heat waves rolling off the tanker outside the window, and unseen, the 58,000 liters of gas inside. I had lots of fuel aboard so I didn’t have to stop for that on the way to Ottawa but I would need coffee and cigarettes and a sandwich about the half way mark – perhaps Kingston. The service plaza off the 401 just before Kingston had all that and was easy to access with the truck.

I swung up into the cab and noticed the A/C was starting to cool the air after being parked for an hour loading. Updating my log book, filling out paperwork and filing load sheets, I then pulled to the exit gate and waited for it to open, spitting my truck and me out onto the mean city streets. Winding the truck through the street lights and intersections, I eventually turned onto the Eastbound 401 highway entrance ramp. Accelerating up to the speed limit, I engaged the cruise control and relaxed in the air ride captain’s chair. The next time I slowed would be to stop for a break and a coffee at the Kingston service plaza three hours from now. The huge Super B was at its best in this world – moving 100,000pounds of gas along at 60 mph smoothly and steadily. Inertia was its best friend. I was along for the ride, just making sure nothing got in the truck’s way. The Jake Brake- an engine brake on large diesels- was even keyed into the cruise, making sure that the weight didn’t push the speed too high running off the hills.

Would you like another cuppa? Perhaps a sweet or two? So, three hours later the service plaza exit signs came into sight in the dark. 10:15 pm now and traffic was horrendous. Even out here on the big road (trucker slang for multi-lane divided highways) all three eastbound lanes were solid with traffic –although it was still moving at speed. The service plaza had a separate area for tractor-trailers in the rear and I took the ramp leading me down. There were only a handful of trucks parked in an area that could easily accommodate 100 tractor-trailers- it being a long holiday weekend. As I glanced over at the car fueling area, it looked unusual – taped off with barricades and lines of cars. Snapping on the parking brakes, I left the truck running for the A/C and stepped out, locking it up behind me. The air was still sizzling at over 90 F as I hurried to the convenience store in the center block of the fuel islands. Here there were sandwiches to go and cigarettes and drinks. A crowd surrounded the cashiers and I could hear loud and angry voices. Keeping one ear peeled, I poured myself a large coffee and picked up two wrapped chicken sandwiches to go and made my way to the cashier for smokes and to pay. One cash was open and running through non-gas purchases. I could hear the conversations at the other cashes: “I’m sorry but our computers are down and we can’t pump any gas.” Angrily: “What the hell am I supposed to do with no gas?!” “I’m sorry sir, we are having them fixed as fast as possible but it may be tomorrow before we can pump any gas.” “I don’t have enough to get into Kingston, what the hell do you expect me to do?!” Yikes, the busiest day of the year on Canada’s busiest highway on a holiday and their fuel pumps were down? Wow, sure was glad that I wasn’t that station manager. I glanced out the store windows and realized there were literally hundreds of cars outside waiting. Well, time for me to skedaddle.

As I started for the door, my attention was caught by a young woman who had pushed her way through to the front of the crowd. I paused for a minute to see what she was going to say and after she had been told there was no gas she asked if any Kingston stations could bring some out to her as she was almost out. The manager told her they had tried that earlier but because it was a holiday none of the in-town stations could spare anyone to come out. She looked crushed and tears welled in her eyes. She asked what she should do and the manager just shrugged – the crowd ignored her. She turned dejectedly with wet cheeks and walked slowly out the door. No one paid her any attention and my heart went out to her, so I followed at a discrete distance to see if she was with anyone. Had she been with a group or even another person, I would just go about my business. If she was alone, I didn’t know what I was going to do but I couldn’t leave her stranded here in this crowd all by herself. She opened the door on a compact older Toyota that was clean but had obviously seen some years of life. Once I saw she had no one to help her, I approached.

“Hi there. I’m Paul. I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation in the store. You’re short of gas?” Not sure what to make of this she replied simply: “Yes, I’m almost out and I don’t have enough to get into Kingston (about 20 miles) to get more.” As she spoke she was wringing her hands with nervousness. “I can give you enough gas so you can get into the city for more.” I had no idea I was going to say that until it came out of my mouth – apparently I had a plan but had not informed myself. Her eyes lit up and she said loudly with excitement: “You can?” “Shhh! It would not be good if anyone overhears us.” “Oh, sorry,” she whispered. Ha! I hadn’t really meant to come across as so conspiratorial, just for her to keep her voice down. “Look there is an emergency cross over into the truck parking right there,” as I pointed, “Take that and you’ll see a tanker truck parked halfway down. Pull up in front of the truck so the headlights are pointing at the side of your car with the fuel tank. I’ll meet you there.”

The truck area was not well lit and I found myself thinking how brave she was to park in the dark where there was little help. By the time I had walked over she had parked as requested and I unlocked the idling truck, turning on the headlights. There were a few other trucks between us and the car area, so we were not visible to anyone else in the service plaza – thank God. I unscrewed her gas cap and looked inside with my flashlight – sure enough there was a spring loaded safety flap inside the neck of the fill pipe. I told her to stay beside her car while I opened the truck valve compartment and the storage compartment. I pulled out a new large red safety cone that had a hole in the small end – it would do for a funnel.. Putting on gloves I grabbed one of the 5 gallon steel drip pails we used under the valves when delivering, and filled it ¾ with high test gas – if I was going to give away gas, it might as well be the best. That would give her about 4 gallons of gas, plenty to get to town. Bringing the pail, a ground strap, a drip cloth, a new pair of gloves and the safety cone, I walked over to her car. I had also grabbed a big wire tie we used to secure connections when pumping. I stuck the wire tie in the tank neck to hold the safety open, placed the drip cloth on the ground and set the pail down while I clipped the ground strap (to stop any static sparks from igniting the gas when pouring it) to her car and the pail. Getting her to put on the gloves, I instructed her to hold the safety cone like a funnel, and I slowly poured the gas into her car. When we were done, we checked her gas gauge, which now showed ¼ full, removed the wire tie, replaced her gas cap, wiped the few drops from her car with the drip cloth and threw the equipment back into my storage compartment. She was quite amazed and asked how much she owed me. I told her it was free – I just asked that in the future if she found someone who could use help and she felt safe helping them that I would ask her to pay it forward. She commented that I could make a fortune here at this service plaza tonight – I told her to keep quiet, I could just envision a mob. And so we parted ways and I continued on to Ottawa not ever even having known her name or where she was going. As I drove I worried. Basically, I had stolen product from our customer – the gas was not mine to give away. Regardless of the reason or use, it was still stealing and I do not like that. Pondering this for the remaining three hour drive to Ottawa, I came up with a solution. When I pulled into the station to which I was delivering, it was 1:30 am and the site was open but with no customers. I grabbed the drip pail and ground strap and went over to the high test pump. I put the same amount of fuel into the pail from a pump and then went inside the station. I explained to the manager what I had done and told him I wanted to pay for the gas with my debit card, which I did, keeping the receipt. Then I took the pail of gas back over to the station’s fill pipes where I was delivering their gas, and again using the safety cone as a funnel, poured the gas I had paid for back into their storage tank. This effectively paid for the gas I had given the young woman in Kingston. I felt much better.

Finishing up the delivery I returned to the terminal and closed off my shift. After the holiday I was off for three days and I dropped by the office to see terminal manager. I explained what had happened and that I couldn’t leave the young woman stranded and how I had paid for the gas I had given her in the parking lot. I showed him the receipt. My biggest concern was that someone may have seen us and thought I was stealing gas and giving it to friends. I assured my boss that was not the case. It was the only time I had ever done this. He just nodded – I could tell he was split in that it was dangerous to take a few gallons from a tanker (it is called splash loading and is illegal here – because the gas coming from the valve splashes into the gas already in the pail and creates static and potentially an explosion). On the other hand he had a young wife and sisters who were often getting into problems like running out of gas and he appreciated the fact that I helped such a person. He just thanked me for telling him and left it at that –no official positive reinforcement for stealing and breaking the rules but no remonstration for stealing and breaking the rules either. It was as I expected, which was fine.

Epilogue: Two months later I received a letter in my company mail – it congratulated me on being chosen the Sunoco driver of the month and said I could pickup my leather jacket and gift certificates from the manager. No reason was ever given for my selection. On that note, that’s about all we have room for this week, so it’s time to settle in with another cuppa and enjoy the garden. Sweets anyone? I hope you didn’t mind the story today, and that you found it a bit more positive than last week’s story. Please join me in thanking Willow for her invitation to tea. We are all happy that Willow is back and honored that you all dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation and please look around at Willow’s other posts while you’re here. Willow is over there serving her guests and chatting it up. Let’s go see how she is today. Have a great week. We look forward to seeing you back here for sweets and beverages of your choice again next week.

And of course  the

IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE:  WEEKEND COFFEE SHARE

over at Part Time  Monster  and Gene’O’s

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