Posted in Blogging, Junk Shop Finds, TV and Films, Videos

Ghostly Babble

I recently watched a video by Russell Brand on the subject of ghosting. He said sometimes people really don’t mean to do it but if they do, it’s telling you something about that relationship. You don’t have to give that person up, but need to change your expectations. That is true, but I’ve realized that sometimes the ghoster is genuinely tired or depressed, but is still glad to hear from you. So Russell is right to say we should change our expectations — but sometimes it’s less about how valued we are and more about how the other person thinks, communicates or operates. Probably he meant that too, as it’s about managing ourselves and not others, accepting that others can’t always keep up.

So, is it possible to ghost one’s own blog? I accept it’s disappointing when a blogger writes posts you like but only twice a year! The best bloggers are the reliable ones who post frequently. There are YouTubers I’m always in the mood to listen to, and if they disappeared (which some unfortunately have), I’d feel at a loose end. Some have longish gaps between videos, for whatever reason, and I start casting around fractiously for recent signs of their existence. It’s worse these days because of frightening current events. I need ingormstion, reassurance and the sense of agreeable company.

That should have been ‘information’, not ‘ingormstion’  but it’s what happens when you type on the phone.

We are in my sister’s car in the town centre, drinking Costa coffee. I took it into my head to ask for espresso, and the small paper cup that came back felt strangely light.

“Awww,” I said. “A baby coffee!” and felt senselessly maternal. Drawing back the plastic lid, I found a tiny splash of dark coffee inside. It barely covered the bottom, and had a light fringe of pale bubbles.

It was certainly strong — tasted like hot Guinness. I don’t like Guinness. I’m more of a sweet stout person.

I started this post because a text said I was 80% through my data allowance. Having turned my connection off, I wondered what I could do that didn’t need the internet, and remembered my blog. Perhaps there’s a lesson in that. We are more likely to get on with pet projects if our option to go online and pootle about is curtailed.

The only thing I bought in town was a Red Dwarf boxset. TV is very dull, so every night at supper time we watch an episode from my collection of DVDs. We’re currently part of the way through the Upstart Crow boxset. I asked my mother which was her favourite actor in it, and she said Kate. Mine is Kempe. He gets a brief monologue in each episode and always makes me grin. He said real comedy isn’t what you say, it’s what you don’t say. I think that’s quite often true! When minds meet without a word being said, it’s funny.

Back to the topic of online videos and podcasts; I both love and detest them. They are where the real conversation is, but too often there are no captions and I can’t follow. More and more, when scrolling through Facebook, I find videos from platforms other than YouTube. The likelihood of them having captions is thus decreased by 99.7%. If there are captions, it’s because somebody burned them into the video, which I’m always grateful for. 🥰 I used to wish people didn’t do videos when they could write an article instead, but I don’t now. I just wish I could follow many more.

To finish, here is a video I found on YouTube a while ago, less than 5 minutes long:

Posted in Cooking, Junk Shop Finds, Life and Family

Pretending to Follow a Pasta Recipe

This morning I found a pasta and peas recipe before I even got out of bed. On a whim I shared it to the family chat thread, and was stunned when my mother instantly replied that we could try it. I had thought she would object to the peas. She asked if it had sauce, and I said vegetable broth, though I could imagine using a stock cube. Would she prefer a white sauce? A mildly cheesy one, she said.

She adores cheese! You would not be able to part her from a nice sharp cheddar for all of the tea in China, though I don’t think parting people from their cheese is a good idea anyway, not in most cases.

“Is that ham in it?” she asked next, and I said pancetta… but we could use bacon or chicken if she prefers. You know, we can kid ourselves we’re making this dish, but it’s really going to be macaroni cheese with peas and a sprinkling of meat.

My sister arrived in time for coffee, carting a coat stand that I won at auction. It’s nice, if slightly rocky on its feet. It stood rather meaningfully on my toes when I was disinfecting it, so I guessed it was in a foul mood. I told it it was lucky to get a lift in my sister’s car because it would have been in an even worse mood if it had had to catch a bus by itself then walk to our house from the bus stop.

When I was dragging it upstairs, I discovered the entire top lifts off the pole. This discovery almost cost us the hall mirror, but fortunately the pole didn’t quite whack it… just flailed frighteningly about before steadying.

In the late afternoon, I ordered from the local supermarket. I said to my sister, “You’ll notice the only fruit I bought this time were bananas! They picked out terrible, languishing satsumas last time.” They don’t usually send bad fruit, but having been bitten once, it seems rational for me to be shy of being caught out a second time.

I ordered ingredients for the (hem hem) pasta and peas dish, including spring onions and the cheese in the recipe, Grana Padano. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never heard of it, but now I want to know what it’s like. What’s the point of having a life if we don’t try new things? The recipe includes extra virgin oil — Mum hates olive oil and I’m not all that keen myself. Nevertheless I got a small bottle of olive oil that claims to be mild. We’ll see!

There were other things I bought out of curiosity, just like you might browse the supermarket shelves and pick up stuff you’ve never seen before. I couldn’t leave the bag of gnocci where I found it. “What IS this stuff??” (Adds it to trolley). Jalapeno pretzels? Want!

In recent blog posts I was writing about cold feet when blogging, and today another blogger said it’s natural — we all feel that way. It takes courage, but it’s nice that the world keeps turning and we keep hitting the ‘publish’ button.

Oh, I still think we’re crazy, especially in these hair-trigger times, but I love that thought anyway.

Earlier I’d put my beautiful new coat stand at the back of the computer room upstairs, so naturally went to say goodnight before retiring. It sneered about the untidiness of the room and said it wasn’t terribly homely. I told it it will feel better when the morning sun is pouring through the windows. It might even have the odd pigeon peering in to say hello.

I know… but a little friendly humour in life goes a long way. 🙂

Posted in Christmas and New Year, Junk Shop Finds, Life and Family, Music I Like, Technology and Software

A Ray of Old Sunshine

Last night the house was shaking under the onslaught of a rainstorm. I could hear muffled bangs and shudders and it kept me on edge, especially after I turned in for the night.

A song came into my head and refused to leave, so I played the official video on YouTube a number of times… I’m one of those who has to play the same song over and over because nothing else will do at all till I’m through with it.

Why Does It Always Rain On Me? (Travis)

I only discovered it when I bought two Travis CDs from charity shops a few months ago. Every so often I buy one randomly even if I haven’t heard of the band and don’t know what it’s like. Usually I’m glad I bought it, and these were no exception!

The annoying thing about YouTube music on my iPad is that it cuts off if I try and do something else, so tonight I turned to my old hi-fi from the 80s. I had trouble with this retro set-up before Christmas, when I discovered that the connector on the end of the turntable’s ground wire was snapped off, and the jack to one of its cables was bent! Yes, I was very careless at one point, I could have kicked myself.

I patched all these things… I needed a graspy twisty tool thing to straighten the jack, and the ground wire worked when I trapped the end under the screw. Unfortunately there was still a problem… my right-hand speaker wasn’t working. I went to all the trouble of buying new loudspeaker cable and replacing it, only to find it *still* wasn’t working. Only then did it occur to me to switch the speaker jacks from left to right at the back of the amp, and now the left speaker was dead while the right speaker worked! Obviously it wasn’t the cable then…

That was it for the duration of Christmas. I didn’t have time to try anything else, but almost as an afterthought on a webpage somewhere, someone said check the loudspeaker fuses at the back of the amp. I had no idea there was such a thing, but when I checked, yes — there they were!

After Christmas I bought a set of the right kind of fuses. I was doubtful, because they look a little smaller than the original one with the red stripes. For a long time I didn’t do anything with them, but tonight was in the mood to play Why Does It Always Rain On Me? over and over, so now was the time to try.

Oh….. it hasn’t been a good start to the year at all! Mum began a heart attack on January 5th. My sister drove her to A&E, and they got her to theatre in the nick of time. She came home again after a few days, but a couple of days ago had to go back because she was struggling to breathe. It was night, and the ambulance men came for her, bundling her out into the frosty night. I found myself wondering if you’re supposed to wave cheerily as the ambulance moves off. The three cats all glared at me accusingly… “how can you let strange men take your mother away and not do a thing to stop them??”

Er, well…

To cut a long story short, she might get out again tomorrow or might stay in hospital a little longer. My sister and I are very tired… I don’t know about her, but I didn’t get much sleep last night. A bit like the beginning of the Travis song, which kept me company.

I can’t sleep tonight
Everybody saying everything’s alright
Still I can’t close my eyes
I’m seeing a tunnel at the end of all these lights

Eventually I found myself thinking of the following Nietzsche quotation:

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

I don’t pretend to know what he meant by it himself, but before I even remembered the line, I was staring at the blackness and suddenly felt I wasn’t in the least bit invisible. I was a focal point of the void and coldness out there. It was as if everything was zooming in on me.

I don’t even know where I’m going with that, but the next day I kept nodding off… I slept in the car on the way to and from hospital.

Later at night my sister had some other bad news about a friend’s elderly cat who had to be put to sleep today, and I said, “It never rains but it pours.”

Then I tried the new loudspeaker fuse. Knowing the way our luck was going, I was sure it wouldn’t have fixed things, so when both speakers kicked into gear and started working, I said “aaaaaaaahhhhhhh!!!” and pummelled the air, grinning with joy. My sister said, “thank goodness for some good news!”


And thank goodness for old things that still work.

Posted in Agoraphobia, Art, Blogging, Junk Shop Finds, Music I Like, Photographs

Piggin Handel

I’ve a feeling it was Pete who said that blog posts are like buses. You wait for ages, and finally three come along at once. I try not to crowd them all together, so it can put me in a bit of a quandary.

Anyway, maybe I’ll just put this one in as a scheduled post, so I can type it now (right after publishing ‘Brycian Worlds‘) and it will come roaring up to the blogstop by itself later!

In town today I was feeling absolutely allrighto. No wooziness or giddiness or wanting to crawl into a dark shadow somewhere. And there were enough people around, so sometimes you really have no idea why on some occasions you feel woozy and want to go home, and other times you’re perfectly happy.

At least… I say there were enough people around, but I’m trying a bit hard to convince myself of that. We generally had plenty of elbow-room. When people started treading on our heels in one narrow little street, I got a tad unhappy again, but then we escaped into our new favourite coffee shop (the last one closed down) and I forgot all about it.

The only thing that it seems to positively confirm for me is my theory that I need long rests from things! The more I do something or go somewhere, the more stressed out I get. But if I take a break and stay at home for a while, and get really involved in some project of my own (like Bryce), then the next time I go out, it’s as though the ‘stress slate’ has been wiped clean. “All good things in moderation”, they say!

Anyway… I bought an old record (see the following photo). The manager of the charity shop was sadly disappointed when she said something about Handel being on TV, if I was interested, and Mum popped up and gave away my guilty secret: “she only bought it for the picture!” And everybody rolled their eyes and sighed.

Whaaaatt?? A picture takes just as much work as a piece of music, and deserves as much appreciation… LOL.

(Click photo to see bigger size).

PS: When I went to upload the Handel photos, I reached round to attach my card reader to the Mac’s tail, and accidentally knocked something down behind the desk! I hadn’t seen it was there. It was a small glass pyramid (the one in the photo below).

It was such a solid, heavy thing, though, that it came down with a crash. I was worried it had smashed into smithereens, but when I crawled under the desk to get it, it was intact.

I think it was Mum who gave it to me, and it looks nice on window sills with the sunshine streaming through it, and then it gets in the way when you go to pull down the blinds. So it ends up not on the window sill; instead lurking in a dark, dusty corner behind the iMac.

Looking at it just now, I was thinking “but what is it FOR?”

From the expression on his face, I don’t think the Piggin is sure, either.

Large cuddly Piggin pig sniffing clear glass pyramid paperweight
Piggin Paperweight!

Posted in Gender Issues, Junk Shop Finds

Dragon Anklebiter

I was going to post this a couple of days ago but got such a headache I went away from the computer. I think too much white on the screen (or pale colours) have a bad effect on me, but aren’t always the primary cause. Unless I sit staring at them too long. Anyone else find that?

Geosomin posted this a few days ago about the claim that women love shopping because our ancestors were ‘gatherers’. I passed that snippet to Mum, and she said “no, women love shopping because they were hunters!”

I would love to say I don’t love shopping, but I suppose I do. I have a frightening number of dreams about shopping. But I don’t go ballistic about it; I don’t have a cupboard full of tottering shoeboxes, or racks of never-worn (no, wait a minute, we won’t go there!) But I know I don’t have the piles of clothes and shoes that other women have got in the habit of buying.

Bears, OK, but I don’t buy as many as I used to… most of the time now I walk straight past them, and buy a Dean Koontz paperback instead.

The thought of shopping nowadays just depresses me, because I know I don’t have room for anything new, I don’t need anything new, and I’ve seen what the local shops have and I don’t expect them to have anything new either. Ennui has set in.

For a while I was getting perfume, but stopped after I obtained my favourite few (plus bonus bottles from Mum) as I knew if I bought too much, I would never manage to wear it all before it went off.

Who could resist this little cherub, however?

Click image to view more clearly!

He was sitting in a basket of cheap teddy bears in Cancer Research, and I saw him on two or three separate visits. I kept picking him up and giving him a little squeeze, and finally Mum snatched him from my grasp and marched him to the till. She said to her friend (the volunteer at the till), “is this mad?” and her friend said “pretty mad!”
But if she knew the whole of it, she would be sending round the men (and women) in white coats.

When we got home, Mum passed me a note saying she was going to a certain coffee shop the next day to meet her friends, and did I want to accompany her? The dragon read the note carefully, then said “what’s this coffee shop thing?” and Mum said “only people are allowed there, not dragons.”
“They used to allow smoking,” I said, “but don’t any more.”
“Oh,” said the dragon, and opted out of the trip.

Today he was watching adverts about the necessity to quit smoking, and said sadly that people must be trying to stamp out dragons.
“You’re too young to smoke, anyway,” said Mum, and the dragon said “but all older dragons smoke. What will I do when I get older?”

Then some adverts came on for stuff to smear on your skin to get rid of spots, and he said that was people trying to get rid of spotty smoky dragons. I think he’s developing a bit of a chip on his shoulder… don’t you?

I’m still trying to think of a name for him… suggestions welcome!

Posted in Art, Books, Junk Shop Finds, Photographs

Random Purchases

Been nosing around the charity shops again. I got more books… recently it’s usually been Dean Koontz, so today rang the changes.

Humour books:

Loosely Engaged by Christopher Matthew (Oxfam, £2.99)
Mrs Parkinson’s Law by C. Northcote Parkinson and illustrated by Robert Osborn (Oxfam, £2.49)
The Law of Delay by C. Northcote Parkinson and illustrated by Osbert Lancaster (Oxfam, £2.49)

Art books:

Photomosaics by Robert Silvers, edited by Michael Hawley (Oxfam, £1.49… got this a couple of days ago)
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: How to Unlock Your Hidden Artistic Talent (c’mon out of there!) by Betty Edwards

Also in the photo: Pentax Supaclean microfibre cleaning cloth (local optician, £2.75)!

I liked the cheerful yellow… and I keep losing these things; there’s always just one hanging about while the rest have gone on holiday. I’ll put this one in my bedside drawer, and when I finally can’t find one anywhere, I’ll break it out. I like things to stay in their packages for a while, all shiny and new…

The photomosaics are lovely. Like many others, we’ve completed the odd photomosaic jigsaw. The Yoda is in one of the photomosaics in the book, and it’s incredible that you can see the bags under his eyes. There’s also one of Vincent Van Gogh, along with a quotation by him: “The more ugly, older, cantankerous, more ill and poorer I become, the more I try to make amends by making my colours more vibrant, more balanced and beaming.”

It was Mum who found the drawing book. She had been telling me the other day that there was a bit of news on the radio saying that men look at women with only the right side of their brains, whereas women look at men using both sides. She opened the drawing book, and it fell open at ‘Perceiving the Shape of a Space: The Positive Aspects of Negative Space.’


This is also the source of the Bugs Bunny analogy, which I mentioned in my Negative Space post. I begin to realize, though, that negative space is always ‘the other’, depending on whatever you consider to be the ‘positive’ elements of the picture.

I wonder if Delilah looks at Samson with the left side of her brain as well as her right?

Posted in Junk Shop Finds, Music I Like, My Cats

It’s Still Rock ‘n’ Roll to Me

This morning Delilah (my small red cat) came and bounced about on my bed, and, though I was still half asleep, what came into my head was: “Let’s go fly a kite, up where the moon is bright; O, let’s go fly a kite!” [Misquotation of a verse from Mary Poppins].

The vinyl singles I picked up yesterday (some crackers among them):

From Sue Ryder’s:

Big Love (Fleetwood Mac)
Don’t Cry for Me Argentina (The Shadows)
Genetic Engineering (OMD)
The Tide is High (Blondie) … I played this one loud!

From The Awfully Nice Boy’s shop:

All Out of Love (Air Supply)
An Innocent Man (Billy Joel)
It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me (Billy Joel)
My Simple Heart (The Three Degrees)
Spanish Flea (Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band)
The Winner Takes it All (Abba) (one of the first songs I played again after we lost my father — and so I associate it with that, now)

All Out of Love brings back memories… I had an thing at university with a lad from Singapore. When he left, he told me to keep a bundle of tapes as he couldn’t pack everything when going home. The Air Supply was among them, and I also have a lot of Chinese tapes. I grew to like a number of them, including Anna Ling, but I found others didn’t share my liking. A shame. There’s a splendid, almost operatic tape by some guy, possibly Malaysian… I never figured out who he was, but I know one of the songs goes ‘wo ai ni…’

There are some lovely ‘wo ai ni’ songs in YouTube but they don’t sound quite the same.

Who is he?

Posted in Agoraphobia, Hearing Loss, Junk Shop Finds, Music I Like

Mean Streets and Charity Shop Singles

With Christmas coming up rapidly, I suspect I’ll be a bit slow on the blogging/blog-reading front, but now that I’ve said that, probably I’ll be blogging three times a day.

I hope not.

Sometimes I feel really sleepy and lose track of everything I was meaning to do, then I just get involved in one thing… like manipulating photographs in Photoshop Elements. It’s almost as though I feel the need to withdraw and relax completely; just forget about everything (even urgent things) and not worry about anything for a while.

I’ve been to town a little too often recently and that’s always a bad idea, as it makes me ragged around the edges, and I start behaving like a Duracell bunny whose battery is stalling. I’ve developed dromophobia…. yet another to add to my lengthening list, though really it’s nothing new. It’s just an offshoot of the agoraphobia. The last thing you want when you’re trying to Christmas-shop is a fear of crossing streets.

Got some more vinyl singles today… the charity shops always look relieved; I don’t think these things are rushing off their shelves. One of them was Air Supply… another was Abba. I thought the volunteer was very nice. It’s odd… I bought the singles, and he looked so directly at me that for a moment I thought “that’s not just a shop person, that’s a person!” That seems such a daft comment to make… but mostly I feel I’m keeping folks at arm’s length, so it’s just sort of “hello, thank you, goodbye.” But I could imagine actually talking to this one, as though he didn’t view me as some kind of strange insect. It struck me as strange that I had actually spoken to him without tying myself in knots; he said “do you want a bag?” and I said “no thanks, I’ll just put them in my trolley.” Then I thought “that’s so not me, I don’t talk to people!” even though I’ve been saying this exact same thing to every other shop assistant or volunteer I’ve talked to.

Anyway, we said thank you and goodbye, and walked to the door, and suddenly he was standing there holding it open and smiling. We walked down the street, and Mum said “that’s an awfully nice boy in there.”


Distracted me from the mean streets, anyway.

Posted in Junk Shop Finds, Music I Like

Ooh, Records!

All Kinds of Everything record labelI’ve been buying vinyl singles in the charity shops, and I don’t know why. We’re supposed to be decluttering, so why am I increasing the space our record collection takes up? They cost anything from 25p to £2, though I’ve avoided the £2 ones (Oxfam). I feel guilty enough as it is. In some of the shops, when I’ve bought £3 worth of singles, they’ve discounted them to £2.

One volunteer (I didn’t follow what she said, but Mum translated later) said that she has lots of vinyl singles and albums and she won’t give hers away. Yes, they’re going for a good price, really, though many of the record sleeves are very tatty. The older ones have much better quality sleeves and are in better condition than some of the later ones, whose sleeves are as thin as gauze.

Ah, brill!

Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel)
Chiquitita (Abba)
Find My Love (Fairground Attraction)
Just When I Needed You Most (Randy Vanwarmer)… I loved to play this on tape in my 20s — I didn’t discover it till then!
More than This (Roxy Music)… I’ve got that on the Avalon album, so didn’t need it! I love it though, so how could I leave it?
Tiger Feet (Mud)
Will You? (Hazel O’Connor)


All Kinds of Everything (Dana) winner of Eurovision Song Contest 1970
Like Clockwork (The Boomtown Rats)
Oklahoma! Part One
One Day at a Time (Lena Martell)… from Scotland. Apparently her only number one UK single
Only Love (Nana Mouskouri)
Rat Trap (The Boomtown Rats)
Stand by Your Man (Tammy Wynette)
Theme from M*A*S*H… oops… feeling we’ve already got this
What I’ve Got in Mind (Billie Jo Spears)

Er… hmm?

Campbeltown Loch (Andy Stewart)
Diamonds (Herb Alpert)
Grandad (Clive Dunn)… I was six when this came out. The B side is ‘I Play the Spoons
I’m in the Mood for Dancing (The Nolans)… I tried so hard to leave that on the shelf, but it eventually irritated me into buying it.
Overture ‘The Hebrides’ (Fingal’s Cave) (The Hally Orchestra)
Peer Gynt Suite No 1 (Orchestra of the Amsterdam Philharmonic Society)
Peer Gynt Suite No 1 (Vienna Festival Orchestra)… well, I might like one better than the other!
The Last Farewell (Roger Whittaker)
Walk Like an Egyptian (Bangles)… it sounded vaguely familiar; something that should be in any self-respecting music collection… but the folk in the clip are not good at that walk, are they?

Familiar things I keep around, near me
Memories of my younger days, clearly
Come into my mind

[from ‘Grandad’ by Clive Dunn]

Posted in Junk Shop Finds, Life and Family, My Cats, Photographs, TV and Films

My Top Ten Animals from Film

This still isn’t the blog post I was planning, but when I found the TV Creature Survey by Pete from Thequacksoflife, I wondered which animal characters from film in general I would place as my top ten. This is my list (in order of importance):

  1. The Angry Beavers
  2. Scrat (from The Ice Age)
  3. Puss in Boots (from Shrek)
  4. Hammy the squirrel (from Over the Hedge)
  5. Sid the sloth (from The Ice Age)
  6. The Wombles (if I had to pick one, it would be Orinoco… or possibly Wellington)
  7. Salem (black cat from Sabrina the Witch)
  8. Kaa the python (from Disney’s The Jungle Book)
  9. The Pink Panther
  10. Black Beauty (from the old TV series)

I love Winnie the Pooh when safe between the covers of his book, but I can’t stand the TV versions… very dull. That’s why he’s not on this list.

I have a Disney print (a find from a charity shop, carefully attached to my cork board) of Shere Khan throttling Kaa with one lazy fist. You’d have to see it to appreciate the humour of their expressions, but I bought it because it reminded me of my relationship with my sister. Our Chinese Zodiac animals are Tiger (sister) and Snake (me).

Looking at it just now, I see a photo of Sharky on the board too – it has swung loose and slipped round to rest on top of Kaa in the picture… maybe he’s still trying to protect me!