Posted in Blogging, Books, Quizzes and Memes, Writing

Random Selection of Stolen Tags

“I’ve been working on this for hours now… It’s too much to find questions and people (that would be like 100 people if I did these correctly) to tag in it. So maybe I’ll go with a cop-out and say “Hey, if you want to answer any of these questions, then go ahead! I nominate you!”

– Life of Chaz

Wow! Reading Chaz’s award catch-up post, I realize just how many of these are buzzing around out there. I confess I was tagged once and didn’t respond in any shape or form, even to say ‘thank you’. I still feel guilty. It happened just as I was screaming around the house getting ready for a rare family vacation, and at the same time was retreating mentally, which meant I probably wouldn’t respond to anybody online for a long while. I’m not sure what that was about, and it’s years ago now. Perhaps I can make up for it a bit?

From Chaz’s post I picked out 15 questions I could answer, along with a couple of short lists at the bottom.

1. What qualities do you like most in others and why?

A gentle sense of humour, genuine interest in others, patience and tolerance (though not loud and confrontational… I mean a quiet understanding of people with a willingness to listen and think).

2. What qualities do you like most in leaders and why?

Direct and discreet honesty. Supportiveness; tolerant sense of humour. Strength and determination (obviously!) but no blind arrogance.

3. Describe one moment in your past that you would say changed your entire life.

Becoming more aware of people outside my little bubble… I won’t say how that happened. 😛

4. What qualities do you look for in a friend?

Kind sense of humour, predominantly positive outlook, friendly patience, chattiness and responsiveness (though I don’t require that they write every day — life can be too disruptive!) A good conversation is balanced between two people… if it’s too one-sided, you feel frustrated and unheard, and the friendship is likely to founder.

5. What’s your favorite book?

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien — I read it four to six times AND it was first to mind, so I really have to nominate that. There are other frequently read and loved books too, but I’ve only been asked for one…

6. What advice would you give a new blogger?

I’m not much of a blogging personage, but I believe in caution. We don’t have the protections professional journalists do, so I’d say everyone on social media should read Blogging and Tweeting Without Getting Sued (Mark Pearson).

7. Are you a book person, digital person, audio person, or combo person and why?

Combo without the audio. I’m too deaf to listen to audio books. Amazon probably can’t understand why I never respond to its emails about the audio books I could download! eReaders are amazing because you can have access to a huge library without cluttering up your house with paperbacks or visiting the library. The town library doesn’t even have a smattering of what I could read on Kindle. Yet I have a big collection of books in print… cookery books, textbooks, some poetry, art and photography books, comic books and some old sentimental paperbacks.

8. Do you have a particular reading spot?

A solid and comfortable Parker Knoll sofa protected by a bright throw, with my feet up on a huge padded footstool. It’s also my favourite blogging spot.

9. Who is your all time favorite author?

Tove Jansson. Does that contradict The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien) as ‘favourite book’? Well, I’ve thought about it, and both my answers are still the same.

10. What’s one insecurity you have about yourself?

My speech is very, very quiet and I pronounce a lot of things wrong (born severely deaf). I hate speaking, so clam up if I’m not comfortable with someone or in a particular situation. I’ve been amazed, on the other hand, how I can prattle away at a total stranger, one I’ve taken to for no reason that I know of… other than that I like them and they seem kind.

11. What’s one exotic animal you wish you could have as a pet?

Albino hedgehog. I don’t know if that counts as ‘exotic’, but it should.

12. What is one thing you can’t live without?

I’m torn between iPad and wheelie shopping trolley…………

13. What’s the best thing you’ve learned or experienced from blogging?

What my own writing strengths and weaknesses are. Also that the vast majority of people are kinder than you fear. 🙂

14. If you’re not blogging what are you doing?

Cooking, laundry, housework, shopping for groceries, feeding the cats, taking the rubbish out and putting out bins for the bin men, walking outside with camera, reading other people’s blogs, having coffee in town, chatting with friends, listening to music, watching TV or DVDs, reading the news, watching YouTube videos (mostly about Brexit), writing in my private diary, composing the odd weak haiku, editing photos and (when I have time, which I haven’t lately) digital art.

15. What’s the last record/album/mp3 you bought?

I bought two together — Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and 1989 by Taylor Swift.

‘One Lovely Blog’ tag: Share 7 facts about yourself.

1. Aargh! The Mini-Beast is here. (Snow whirling past window).

2. I hate excessive swearing and sudden bodily references (e.g. ‘he has balls’ or ‘all that shit’) because they genuinely distract me from the point that’s being made. 😛 I’m not a prude… it’s partly because it points to strong negative emotions, so when you feel that someone is angry or aggressive, your brain promptly clouds up and you want to retreat. Message lost.

3. I have brown eyes.

4. My best friend at university said she can never ‘read’ people with brown eyes, whereas it’s always clear what people with blue or grey eyes (like herself) are thinking. I’m not so sure about that, because people have a horrible habit of knowing exactly what I’m thinking without me saying a SINGLE WORD! Phweee.

5. A recent discovery in the local supermarket: stonebaked wholewheat pitta breads. They aren’t big tough ones… they’re soft and full of flavour.

6. In my blog’s side bar are the posts I’ve recently liked… more about that further down.

7. We’re having chicken, carrot and courgette bake for supper tonight (homemade, of course!)

‘Listicale Tag’; prompt given: Top Five Favorite Villains (in no particular order):

1. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman’s character in The Fifth Element)
2. Bill (Oliver Twist)
3. Any villain played by Alan Rickman, like in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves
4. Count Olaf (as played by Jim Carrey in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events)
5. Gru (Despicable Me)

Blog posts I recently ‘liked’ in WordPress:

This isn’t a tag, though you can run with it if you like. 😛 I mentioned it above as one of my ‘facts’. I read and ‘like’ so many posts that they must disappear quite quickly. By tonight, the five at the foot of ‘Posts I Like’ in my sidebar will almost certainly be gone:

1. Other People’s Lives (Strange Codex)

2. Being Preachy Doesn’t Sell (James Harrington’s Blog of Geek and Writing)

3. A Short Analysis of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s ‘The Rainy Day’ (Interesting Literature)

4. The Part of Me (MW the Mermaid)

5. Dealing With Anger (Discovering Your Happiness)

Posted in Fantasy and Science Fiction, Life and Family, Lost in Thought, Music

Remembering in Light and Dark

People are talking about the Beast from the East coming back. There’s a deep chill in the air, and phantoms are hurling themselves through the cat-flap. The lid of a storage bin outside flew up and jammed in the hedge, allowing torrents of rain to pour inside till I secured it with a twig. International relations are frosty, yet there are friends, old and new; there’s warmth, hope on the horizon… and light rising against the dark.

I don’t know if you’ve read the children’s book The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. It’s the second book of a series, but I loved it. It fitted with the topic of a school dissertation I was writing, which I may have engineered deliberately… anyway, I remember a line in the book about light and dark being forever at war. Sometimes one seems stronger; sometimes the other, but neither wins altogether. All or most of the books I referred to had something to say along those lines.

In The Dark is Rising there were Old Ones and Old Ways. The Old Ways were safe routes, and when times were bad, Old Ones from different times and places came together to keep the dark at bay. My memory of the series is fuzzy, but I loved the whole idea of it, along with the high drama. It was as though we risked falling through the ice into the spinning vortex of space and time, never to return.

Today I’ve been listening to music for the first time since my mother returned from hospital. I blogged about the last time in A Ray of Old Sunshine, when everything seemed to be going wrong but I found a moment to fix the speakers of my old hi-fi.

Tonight I was upstairs working, and decided to play my newest batch of CDs. They are powerful albums such as Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, but the song that made me sit up was Clean, from Ryan Adam’s version of 1989.

When I stopped to listen, the screensaver came on with a miscellany of pictures in no particular order, all ones I’d worked on. Cats gazing, tree reaching into the blue, fractals, mother’s silhouette, over-saturated beach with pink clouds, a dark wood, raindrops on a window, evening sunshine on a hill… It reminded me of times in my life when I thought differently about things; talked to different people; had different aims, tried a little too hard (yikes, look at the detail on that one!) Maybe I’m not so different now. Some of it was part of the journey and fell away, but the rest followed right along.

With the song Clean pushing me out into the light, I felt all of a sudden that I could fall in love with my own life just as it is. If it had been unremittingly dull from birth till now, I’d have no reason to… if I’d had no strong feelings about anything or anybody, there’d be nothing to stand out. I’ve been through hell emotionally, and no doubt there’s more that lies ahead, but I love it all for being mine.

It doesn’t matter if it’s completely washed away by time and events… my life took place and is as vivid as it ever was. Some companions came a long way with me and still pace alongside; others were lost long ago, but… my thoughts mirror and yet oppose the lyrics of the song, because while I swim, I won’t forget.

The rain came pouring down
When I was drowning
That’s when I could finally breathe
By morning
Gone was any trace of you

Clean — Ryan Adams

Posted in Blogging, Editing, Technology and Software

Changing a Post

I wonder how many bloggers change or delete posts in the days following publication? I’m not always happy with what I have written, but tend to think “it’s published now; forget it and start a new one.” Today I made an exception and deleted sections of my last post, which I felt rambled on too long.

The process wasn’t as straightforward as I would have liked.

I write blog posts in an iPad app (not Pages or Word) and paste them into the WordPress app. I stopped keeping the original drafts because sometimes I make minor changes afterwards so the original drafts are no longer accurate. It seems like too much work to go back and correct them, so now I just assume they should be scrapped.

It’s the first time I’ve tried copying text from the WordPress app back to the wordprocessing app, and my attempts to do this were failing. I discovered I could paste it into Mail… had to re-copy it from Mail before I could finally paste it into the wordprocessing app.

Strange carry-on.

It also copies line formatting that I don’t want; I’m not sure I can override that. Fortunately I was only wanting to keep a copy of the original post in case I later changed my mind, so, having stored that, I just edited the post right where it was in WordPress, and updated. No faffing about with line spaces or reinserting links.

Thinking about it, it probably wasn’t transferring to the other app because what I was pasting wasn’t text but HTML?

My worst habit as a blogger is a refusal to re-read posts after publication, even to check. I would prefer to close my eyes and forget… lalalalalala. Having pruned my last post, though, I feel a lot better — must do this more often. 😀

Posted in Life and Family, Lost in Thought, Observations, Political and Social Issues

Today I Wondered

Why has she started waking me twice before even leaving the room?

Doesn’t he know if I *want* to wave at him, I *will* wave at him, and he doesn’t have to go to those lengths to make sure I see him waving?

Are Bramley apples always this strong a green? Are sugarsnap peas the same as mangetout? This packet says it has both, so I guess not.

Why do people not look round occasionally to make sure they’re not in the way? Somebody gets in your way at least once per aisle, and it’s always those two.

I can’t get used to these crazy lightbulbs… what should I use instead of the old 60 watt bayonet? Don’t they have anything other than halogen? Oh, LED… but what’s this LED filament thing?

Where did the rest of the lightbulb go? And what’s this wire…..??? Wait, I better not touch it till I get this lamp unplugged. These awful things are supposed to be safer than the old ones?? No, I don’t think they made that claim; just that they’re better for the planet.

Is that really all it cost him to buy us food? Seemed like it was more, but maybe not.

It’s funny how this 5-way power strip suddenly started working after he took over the house for the day. I didn’t tell him it was apparently dead.

Why do online newspapers want us to subscribe for free articles? It’s not a request any more; it’s a demand.

Do all WordPress bloggers use WordPress Reader? Do they have other ways of reading blogs they follow?

What’s the difference between facts and truth? Facts are like nuts and bolts, perhaps… miss out a few or hammer them into the wrong places, and the whole structure falls apart.

I wonder if they’re plotting something? Everybody else seems suspicious as well, though hopeful.

Why won’t the BBC caption their YouTube videos?

I like the fellow, but he doesn’t half go on, does he? I’m not sure I could watch all his videos from beginning to end, especially with captions in their current parlous state.

Do people get in trouble for re-uploading videos that YouTube apparently deleted? I grew up being told censorship is bad, and I still believe it.

Why are politicians rarely clear? On Gogglebox they were watching Theresa May’s Mansion House speech, and one viewer said it all goes straight over her head. I’m in a fog of confusion myself… people contradict themselves in the same speech, or someone else pops up and confidently contradicts them, only to be contradicted in turn, so you end up not being sure what they really aim to do.

Oh, I’m sad tonight… but I don’t wonder why.

Posted in Writing

Facts, Friends and Brutal Honesty

Facts are facts…

Some ‘facts’ are such that not everyone agrees, and that’s because they are not facts. Real facts don’t necessarily make sense outside a particular context, and if you distort the context, you might come to a conclusion that others disagree with. People regularly present their conclusions as being ‘facts’ even when they are not.

I tried to think of a random example, and eventually came up with three. How about….

(1) Fact: “I’ve never seen her smile or laugh.”
False conclusion: “She has no sense of humour.”

(2) Fact: “He lies more casually than most.”
False conclusion: “He never tells the truth.”

(3) Fact: “Most of the time I don’t understand, like or agree with his perspective.”
False conclusion: “He’s a liar / stupid / a bad person.”

I noticed some time ago in debates that opposing sides batter each other with ‘facts’. It’s confusing. If there are facts to prove something, why don’t these speak for themselves, presenting us with a single, clear-cut course that everyone automatically agrees on?

I imagine it’s a combination of errors, unproved assumptions, changing context and varying perspectives. Just because X is X and will always be X, you won’t necessarily agree that it means Y, and that Z is the only and best way of dealing with it. You may not even agree that A is a desirable outcome. There will also be characters and groups who only work for themselves; they are not averse to muddying the waters and making things difficult.

Anyway, last night I was trying to turn FACT into an acronym, and wrote these:

Friends are courteously truthful.

Fair and completely true.

Fixed and certain truth.

My favourite is the last one, but I was thinking about the first — ‘friends are courteously truthful’. Is that a fact, or am I offering a narrow view of what a friend can be?

The term ‘brutal honesty’ comes to mind in this context. Do you believe in brutal honesty? Does it work in instances when nothing else does? Do we all mean the same by it? Is it useful to express something in a harsh or punitive way, perhaps even when there’s nothing to be done about it any more? Or does ‘brutal honesty’ involve merely stating a disagreeable, bubble-bursting fact at a time someone could still make use of your advice, and without too much loss of face?

For example, in a situation I’ve made up here, there are certain things you might tell someone:

(1) “For goodness sake, Emma, you look like a pregnant whale.”

(2) “No, it doesn’t suit you. I know it’s the fashion, but it’s not a good fashion. I like you better in the old blue one, which I happen to know Richard likes as well. :-P”

(3) “Everybody said how dreadful you looked last night in that dress, and the guys you fancied were laughing at you.”

To me, the first would be brutal honesty that might save someone from a disastrous party, though it would still be awful and depressing. Courteous honesty would be the second, and the third would be pointless spite. It might have such an effect that your friend’s dress sense would drastically improve thereafter, but there are always better ways of intervening.

When it comes to defining what a friend is, we must be wary. The internet is full of advice such as ‘real friends don’t…’ but there are bad friends who are still friends. They might snap, growl, make mistakes or lie to you sometimes, but it would be wrong to suggest that everyone who has a tendency to behave this way isn’t a friend. Some may have meant well and had no idea you’d misunderstand them or respond so badly. Others who are sharp with you do care about you, and would have your back when the chips are down. Possibly they are on a personal journey and will mellow and improve with time… gradually you find your relationship improves. Then again, perhaps not; it could be that they don’t care or will never learn. You can’t make generalizations.

‘Brutal honesty’ could just be banter in some cases, genuinely lightening the moment and causing everyone to laugh and bond. Truthfulness isn’t always required, but when it is, it’s best delivered kindly and at the right moment… yes, with mocking laughter if that’s what works for your group, but never with spite or intent to cause pain.

‘Friends Are Courteously Truthful’ is largely true, I think, but it’s a complicated world and there are exceptions… so it’s not an outright fact.

Other blogs’ posts on the Daily Prompt ‘Fact’.

Posted in Life and Family

UK’s Icy Plight

“Aldi had plenty of bread and milk but no eggs. The shelves were bare of milk at Asda, sparse on bread but plenty of eggs – who can fathom it?!”

– from friend in Yorkshire.

I had high hopes things were returning to normal, but when I got up and looked out of the window this morning, snow was drifting determinedly from the sky.

Ahh, noooo!

Drooped downstairs, and my mother mimed falling snow, if you can picture that!

Nevertheless, people are moving around again, and my sister came in from her icy fastness yesterday with a variety of things from the supermarkets. Everybody seems to be doing a supermarket crawl; traipsing from one outlet to the next. I notice when our tall neighbour calls with food, which he did again today, the items are from different shops.

The cats are getting used to him… they used to slide out the back the same second he came in at the front, but now they just hover beside the cat flap and blink patiently. ‘Just in case,’ you know. In the same spirit, the other neighbour put our bin out for collection. ‘Just in case’, he said, but the bin lorry never came.

I emptied the bag of groceries… fish ‘n’ chips, M&S style. Salad and my favourite Piccolino tomatoes. Cold meat, more bread (wow!) and a copy of the Scottish Sunday Express, screaming in particularly large type: “WINTER HELL TO LAST TWO MORE WEEKS”.

Ahh, noooo!

The ‘TWO’ is picked out in red ink, and in slightly smaller type, it goes on: “Scots told to brace themselves again for snow in aftermath of Beast from the East.”

Reading the article, I get a picture of things being cold and wet, some more snow ahead, and likely floods when the snow melts. Some shops are still frantically putting things out on shelves only to have them snatched up by hungry customers… but on the whole things shouldn’t be as bad as they have been, floods aside.

We’re better off than some. Our house hasn’t been buried, or our front door blocked by a wall of snow, and our boiler got its breakdown over with earlier this February. I don’t think there’s a single thing we’re out of, though I finished my cucumber at the start of the storm and had to do without till yesterday! We also ran out of mayonnaise… It’s not so much the ‘doing without’ as the feeling that you are not free to have just what you want when you want. It’s still a land of plenty, but availability is uncertain, so don’t waste what you have.

As I said in the comments to my last post, my sister brought a luxurious Tiramasu cake yesterday. It was strange to be eating cake when folk have been struggling to obtain more basic supplies.

A couple of pages into the Express is the headline, “Finns are amused by UK’s icy plight.”

Well, I’m not surprised…

The paper also mentions a tweet by transport minister Humza Yousaf, who said communities have come together to clear their neighbourhoods of snow, and this weather has brought out the best in people. Our neighbours are great, but a friend is having issues with one of hers. She said they shovelled the pavement but stopped just as they got to her gate! They missed an opportunity to extend an olive branch, it seems. However… there’s plenty positive that’s going on, and we don’t need to focus on the determinedly negative.

A notification has just this minute popped up from The Independent. It says: “Seed vaults protect the world against the apocalypse — but what if doomsday is already here?

Ahh, noooo……

Posted in Life and Family, My Cats

Everybody’s Having a Snow Party

Here in the UK and Ireland we’ve been hosting the Beast from the East and Storm Emma, who were in the mood to party together. In Scotland we had the joys of a ‘red alert’ — apparently the first time we’ve had one. I took a few photos outside and figured out how to use the video option in my camera (nothing special resulted), then wished our snowy guests would leave again… am tired already.

Trying to blog with a cat squirming in your arms is not easy. 😛

Yesterday I lifted my toilet bag from the bathroom window sill and it felt cold. The toothpaste inside also felt cold and was stiff to squeeze out… I think it half-froze! This morning the toothpaste was more relaxed, although people are still not allowed to go anywhere. A local warned on Facebook that roads are closed, buses aren’t running, his car was sliding all over the place on a narrow road, and snow ploughs and tractors needed to be rescued… if *they* were in trouble, what chance has a car?

An old friend who lives locally contacted me via Messenger and said was everybody keeping warm? I said yes, though we heard from a neighbour that the shops were running short. He (the friend on Messenger) said he got the last lot of milk, bread and bacon from his local shop. I said we have fruity flapjack cookies with coconut in (I’m so glad I bowed to temptation when I saw these in M&S!) If he went back to the shop, he said, and raided it for oats, he could make his own flapjacks. I said he won’t be able to if the local old ladies buy all the oats before he gets there. “Then I’ll just mug them,” he said.

Our front steps are covered over almost completely with snow drifts; you can barely see the edges peeping out. I opened the back door at one point to find a set of dog pawprints leading up to the cat flap. Today they are all over the place… scuttling through the hedge and crisscrossing the snow. People let their dogs off the leash around here (though they’re not meant to) and they run into people’s gardens. My sister’s seen dogs let off in the path behind the house who run up the length of the garden and dash out onto the road at the front, with the owners obliviously calling them on the nice safe path behind. One particularly bad-tempered canine attacked my mother’s old cat — my sister intervened and nearly got bitten. The cat (who had been picked up and shaken) was very shocked and had to go to the vet. I remember the blind look in her eyes that day, but she’s still with us and doesn’t seem to remember.

The ‘off the leash’ thing might explain stories of dogs and their owners ending up in icy lakes. Someone was writing about how drivers forget to change their driving techniques in icy weather… they go too fast; drive too close to the car in front, etc… it strikes me that that warning also applies to other things we do, whether it’s getting our stocks right or walking dogs.

I understand it’s difficult when we do things by habit… we can be knee-deep in trouble before we wake out of auto-pilot.

I was thinking to myself that I wished we had more milk and bread. I noted that we’d gone onto freezer rations — tins next! We still have vegetables and potatoes; biscuits and sweets (including my special hoard of Bassett’s mint creams and chocolate peanuts); a very little fruit; rice and pasta in the cupboard; one small loaf of bread in the freezer (the kind Mum likes but I hate)… I knew we would hold out for months and there’s no need to complain, but I still wished the fridge contained more in the way of fresh groceries. I can’t even make simple things like scrambled egg or macaroni cheese, as we are hoarding what’s left of the milk.

My sister can’t come out because she’s snowed up in her little village. It would be a long icy tramp for me to the local supermarket, though I would do it if it was really worth it. There are no little shops at the end of the block here… one of the not-so-good things about this particular location.

No need to worry, though… Man Mountain to the rescue! He appeared yesterday with milk, bread, and jam doughnuts, and surprised us again today with two bags of food. It was very kind. He said shops are running low in things like milk because the lorries aren’t getting through. The milk he brought today is long-life.

I still mustn’t make dishes that need milk… there are other things we can eat instead. (Eyes the pizzas and and sausage rolls hungrily).

Another neighbour rang up and said he and his wife are making the long walk out to the supermarket and did we need anything, and my mother said “thanks, but we’re okay!”

A friend in Yorkshire says the wind is still whipping up the snow into blizzards. They’re sitting tight and not risking their safety; the only thing they’ll run out of is salad, but they’ll survive without it for a bit.

Now the cat is squirming in my mother’s arms, but that’s fine by me… easier to blog! …D’oh… spoke too soon! This cat (Delilah) is the definition of the phrase ‘in your face’. She lies on your chest and watches your eyes. I escaped by going outside to change a litter tray, and cleaned it with balls of dry snow. Gosh, this stuff has its uses… it saves on kitchen paper.

The following piece seems to be going the rounds on Facebook: “Where are we going, Piglet?”

I don’t go on Facebook much, so don’t pay attention to me if I sound blase! It’s pure gammon. My sister posted me the link and said she visualized Pooh as me and Piglet as The Little Witness. The Little Witness was currently squatting on a box of chocolate-covered peppermint creams, so that doesn’t surprise me.

We don’t have the stocks of red wine referred to in the Pooh conversation, but we have plenty of cat litter, Man Mountain brought the pizzas, and there’s a little bottle of Dandelion and Burdock in the fridge.

It’s odd how differently you view your food stocks when you are snowed in. It goes from “I suppose I should drink it,” to “I’m so glad to see that there!” and “I wish I hadn’t thrown away the year-out-of-date tin of Carnation Milk.”

Ah… a blob of white just flashed past the window.

“Did you see snow drop off the roof?”


Hopefully this freeze party is ending.

Posted in Life and Family, Observations, Photographs, Technology and Software

What Comes Into Being When You Have No Access

Here in Scotland, drifts of powdery snow lie on the ground outside.

Certain things had to be done before the daylight waned… laundry, changing bedlinen, and bringing the ironing board back from the shed. Whilst pottering around happily in this manner, unaware of a chain of events thus set in motion, one of Mum’s friends turned up for a teatime visit and to sit in my place. 😒

I’m not annoyed… I would rather she sits there. The other chair is too far away and you’d have to yell down the length of the room at Mum. Trouble was, I had forgotten the visitor was coming, and left my iPad set up on the big footstool by my seat. I didn’t want to disturb them by retrieving it (as though to say “hey, you’re sitting in MY spot!”), and my offer of tea was rejected, so I abandoned the iPad and got on with preparing vegetables in the kitchen.

When the friend left, I brought tea and biscuits and settled down. At last I could get some rest! My shoulders and neck were aching as I hadn’t meant to spend so much time flitting around.

But no! The iPad refused to start up… its battery power had gone utterly flat. All that showed up on the screen was a black void featuring the spectre of an empty battery sitting in a little sliver of red. When the iPad’s power goes that low, it takes an age charging it up enough to let me back in.


While your phone or tablet is charging up, you have to find some other way of amusing yourself. Out in the gathering night, a snowstorm began whirling… a wall of white behind the skeletal trees. In the drama of the moment, while Mum and I stared out of the window instead of at the TV, wolves and other hungry raptors came to mind.

Abandoning my tea, I went upstairs to get my camera, opened the window, and leaned out. The trees stood swaying in gaunt silence; cold, sepia and white. I should have been taking photos of the snowstorm but somehow… this happened instead.

After the iPad powered up, I used it to take a photo of the back of my camera, being too lazy to go through the rigmarole of getting hold of the actual photo. If we got more snow here, I would probably be more practised at taking photos of it, but for now this is all you’re getting. 😛

Posted in Cooking, Dreams and Nightmares

Steamy Dream

When steaming vegetables, sugarsnap peas and baby corn are my favourites, though I also like carrots, sprouts, beans, asparagus, corn cobs — you name it.

A couple of nights ago, in a dream, someone pointed out a tall, bushy weed that was very nice steamed. You pick them in the wild and they cost nothing, so as advised, I cooked and ate a couple of these, found on the hill near my home.

“Mm, very nice, I’d have more.”

But wait! “Where did the bugs go? There are normally ants and things walking around on these things, aren’t there?”

Took a closer look at a plant I hadn’t yet cooked, and there was a large hairy spider nesting under one of the leaves, complete with thick ball of cobweb. I threw it down and thought “that’s it! I’m not eating another of these, ever!”

I could almost taste those plants in the dream — it’s enough to put you off steaming things in real life. Peeling, chopping, washing that colander over and over, and now dreaming about steamed spider. I’m getting tired of eating…

Posted in Cooking, Lost in Thought

Song Ghosts and Baked Potatoes

I haven’t written in my private diary for a few months. Was wondering if I might kickstart it again by writing descriptions of my surroundings rather than keeping a record of what’s going on. That’s something better done during the day: an attempt at written snapshots instead of photographic! Right now there’s nothing I feel like describing.

Well OK, just a short paragraph…

The only light comes from a single spotlight bulb. The lamp is a white twin spotlight, so I could have both, but that seems wasteful! It’s nicer with both on… I’m trying it out. The second bulb is shining straight at the goblin print, which makes me nervous, because too much light on pictures isn’t good for them. Goblins don’t like sunlight, I’ve heard, though I don’t know what they make of too-bright artificial lighting.

Considerately switching back to one bulb now. It was giving me a headache, so goblin blood must run in my veins.

Enola Gay (OMD) has been in my head for a few days, though I’ve not listened to music since my mother returned from the hospital. I found this old Daily Mail piece about earworms here.

Someone in the comments section prefers the term ‘song wedgie’, claiming ‘earworm’ is too unpleasant. I don’t like ‘earworm’ either, but ‘song wedgie’ is worse! I don’t know if earworms affect my mood or result from something already affecting my mood… sometimes one; sometimes the other? At any rate, I feel earworms deserve a better label; something more dignified. They can be quite haunting… would ‘ghost tune’ do? Or ‘song ghost’?

On to food…

The other day I was trying to eat raw celery and it was bitter, so I left it till supper time and roasted it using the mixture described here: Maple Dijon Roasted Winter Vegetables.

I liked it. It would have been better if I’d added onions and carrots rather than use the celery on its own. Still, it slipped down more easily than when I was trying to eat it raw. 🙂 A friend said she mixed celery with carrots in a soup, and found the celery gave it an extra kick… I might try that some time.

A few days back I wrote a recipe for a baked potato filling. Tonight we had baked potatoes again, but this time I opted for plain butter, cheese, steamed vegetables and a dab of mayonnaise.

Usually we microwave our baked potatoes but I always felt uneasy about it. I liked a tip I read recently, and have done our potatoes that way twice:

Wash the spuds well. Prick with a fork so they do not burst when cooking. Microwave for about five minutes. Put on a baking tray, lightly drizzle with oil and season with salt / pepper, and bake in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes. Foil not needed, though a bit of greaseproof paper under mine kept the baking tray clean.

The texture of the potato is better this way… mine positively melted in the mouth. I grated a small amount of cheddar cheese using the fine bit of the grater… it comes out like a light fluffy cloud.

Hope I’m not setting a bunch of blogging tummies rumbling! 😈