Category Archives: Observations

Things You Might Like

These are things I’ve liked a lot recently:

Novel Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey.

Blog post by Brandon Knoll about colouring our own lives.

Illustration of a ‘black cat on black furniture‘ by Felicia Chiao on Tumblr.

Bear illustration by Little Oil on Tumblr.

British sitcom Upstart Crow.

Interview with Dr Judith Curry about climate change.

Is the EU serious about coming to a deal? David Robertson raises some concerns.

Song on a CD bought from a charity shop recently: Why Does It Always Rain on Me? (Travis). Even before I figured out the culprit, it was in my head all the time. 😀

Another song: One Last Chance (James Morrison). I’ve had it a while, but only just started paying it attention.

Last but not least… from personal experience I would say there’s a great deal of truth in this article… I wish I’d read it when I was 16. 🙂

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Nothing Stays the Same

There is so much going on, all of the time. For instance, you might be sitting quietly at home, painting a picture. The TV likely isn’t on. Nobody else is in the room except a cat. The trees sway outside, the sun shines, somebody is parking a car outside and walking away.

The dishwasher hums, a pigeon barrels past, and — imitating autumn leaves — a pair of butterflies slip sideways. Less pleasantly, a spider investigates a hoverfly in a corner of the window. When you notice, you’re glad you’re not that hoverfly, and are torn between pity, disinterest, and a desire not to think about such things.

You choose between different but similar shades of pink on your iPad, attempting to paint them in the right places with a rubber-tipped stylus, and think to yourself, “This isn’t very well designed. How can I draw fine lines with a rubber-tipped stylus squeaking across the glass? Would I be better in another app with a higher zoom? Why do I USE this app?”

Instead of acting on these questions in your mind, you continue to paint in that same awkward app with the same squeaky stylus, thinking about all sorts of different things.

For instance, you’d like to read Cadfael again — it would be nice to read it now. Or perhaps Elizabeth Goudge? On the other hand, it would be fun to watch Inspector Montalbano on TV, or the Fiddler on the Roof DVD you got for your birthday.

You won’t do any of these things because you want to get on with your painting.

You should email S… she’ll be wondering if you’ve disappeared on her again. You… leap off the sofa all of a sudden and trap a small spider in the folds of a tissue. “Go sit over there,” you tell it. “I don’t want you running around on me or accidentally getting crushed.”

S saved your life… you got trapped beneath the waves. Does this mean you belong to her?

Notifications pop up.

Facebook is the worst, pounding away inexorably… “you’re ignoring us again.”
Tumblr says there are five things trending. (Only five?)
Tumblr staff reblogged something you’re not interested in.
Pinterest says there are things you’re sure to love and a pinner who’s your long-lost twin.
Your trolls miss their leader, and there’s a new quest with gold to be won.
Mo Farah loses out on gold in his final track race.
Someone has written a WordPress coffee post.
YouTube has recommendations.
Your sister uploaded photos on Flickr.
Flipboard thinks you should read this article about Brexit.
Do you know this person on Facebook? No?
Police are looking for a jogger. Got him. Let him go. Still looking for jogger.

Drat, wrong shade of pink… wrong palette. Switch down two trays to the inner ear pinks… perfect. Imagine a double-decker bearing down on you — aargh. Imagine living in the dust and turmoil of such a busy city.

What might your life have been like if you’d got the other job somewhere else? Would you be a different person?

As for for the recent drama… what did you do wrong? Was there a misunderstanding? You will do this, that, the other thing… no, you don’t know what to do. You’re lost. But nothing matters, really. Life flows on.

You don’t feel like painting this bit… it’s too difficult. But you must, because you really want to finish this picture. Just put a blot of some sort here; you can paint over it later if you have to.

You drew a horse when you were 14 that looks something like this… perhaps this is your natural painting ‘style’, ha ha. You weren’t able to blend with fibre tips, and this app is not a lot better.

If you were one of Cadfael’s ‘monks’… or in a nunnery, really… would you have been allowed to do artwork? Most likely not. You’d be doing everyone’s washing, scrubbing the flagstones, fetching water. Wonder what it was like in those days? Maybe much like now. You worried about other people and other people worried about you. Spiders lurked in the window and entertained flies.

Your thoughts swirl around, and you don’t always know what to think about anything….

You’re good at this… no, you’re awful… no, more like something in between, and it’s changing all the time. It depends if you like this sort of thing. You wouldn’t win awards, but it’s OK.

For years you would hold a belief about somebody else, such as, “She’s terrible at photography”… then one day get a shock and think “actually that’s kind of good.”

As I keep reminding myself… people don’t stand still. They’re not statues. While they experience life, their thoughts fluctuate, and the things they think they know things about imperceptibly develop and change. People and things develop and change around them, even if it seems still and peaceful with nothing going on.

The next time you glance up, the fly has gone from the spider’s parlour, but it has been replaced by a baby snail. Perhaps it was all the ‘think pink’ energy in the room, though black jagged shadows would be more apt…

I can feel the year’s end approaching.

Coffee in April

If we were having coffee, I would apologize for not being around so much recently. Being polite, you would ask what I’ve been up to, and I would say well, nothing much. However, on a flip-through of my journal for the month of April, the following is revealed:

LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED

I was sorting books (yet again) and found:

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened‘ (Jenny Lawson)

“…she learns that life’s most absurd and humiliating moments, the ones we wish we could pretend had never happened, are the very same moments that make us who we are.”

Jenny Lawson is a blogger.

I often get cold feet about my own blog. I do value it, so could try again with a simple coffee post.

KEEPING WHAT’S MOST PRECIOUS

I want to keep the large padded footstool if possible, and had the sudden impulse to stick a blue Post-It note on it. That reminded me of Frasier telling his father and brother to put labels on the things they most wanted to inherit. The father thought it was a bad idea, and refused, but Niles had great fun sticking labels everywhere.

BLADE RUNNER

Looking around the internet, I find a lot of people fall asleep during Blade Runner. I was no exception. When I woke I was very confused… I thought it was morning, and wondered if Mum had got up yet. I couldn’t remember seeing her today at all, or anything else that might have happened. Slowly it came back to me that she had indeed got up, and had done things like set the robohoover to work.

OUT OF THE LOOP

I’m disoriented these days. It’s intensified because small plans are mooted, then suddenly change and I’m not informed, and I find myself working towards something that’s not going to happen, or isn’t going to happen the way I think, which changes everything…. It’s funny how people leave you out of the loop, then look at you as though you’re the bat with crazy ideas.

A SIMPLE MISUNDERSTANDING INVOLVING COFFEE

Mum’s just got up from her nap and is drinking caffeine-free instant coffee. She hasn’t drunk instant for years, so that took me by surprise. I didn’t even realize it was caffeine-free… I just thought it was good thinking on her part to buy a replacement when I was about to run out. I ran out today… so (feeling somewhat cheated) I said “we need more.”

I now have a silver tin, while Mum has the gold. Why does ‘caff free’ get to be gold??

*SPOILER* — ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (A.I.)

Part-way through watching the Artificial Intelligence AI DVD on Mum’s TV while she was napping, which I’m not encouraged to do, I got tired minutes before she reappeared. I turned it off and left the TV on, so all she saw was snooker, which she’s still watching.

Hehehe.

I love the teddy in AI… that’s why I bought it. The part of the story that’s painful is how the robo-boy has been imprinted on one human (his ‘mother’) and that’s an irreversible process, even though he’s likely to live a lot longer. If returned to Cybertronics after imprinting, they would have to destroy him. Rather than do that, they abandoned him in a wood with Teddy, and told him for his own safety not to go to Cybertronics or any large group of people.

But was that kind?

At the end of the film, it was easier for the boy to lose her forever while knowing he was loved, than to lose her heart and her mind… even knowing she was still alive somewhere. I didn’t understand that when I saw it before, but think now that I do.

EXPECTATIONS

Part of the problem with people now is that they expect perfection. All you need to do is check out one of those B&B TV reality shows… they knock marks off if there’s no TV or they have to share a bathroom, and they complain about dustbin men at 6 a.m.

Then there’s the perennial “there was a small spider in the corner.”

It makes you wonder.

EXPRESSING MYSELF… OR NOT!

I need to be consistent in myself, and that means doing what comes naturally to me. Saying what seems right to me. I’m confused enough without there being added confusion… an alien dynamic.

I run into fears I might overdo emails. After all, people are busy. Or they do all their communicating on diddly little iPod Shuffles. So I delay my responses, cut down a lot, and do so much self-editing that the authentic me isn’t coming though.

BRIEF FLASH OF ENLIGHTENMENT

From my horoscope for April 25:

“Nearly everyone seems on edge today…. Unfortunately, you could inadvertently kick a hornet’s nest if you are careless with your words. Author Pearl Cleage wrote, “Discomfort is always a necessary part of the process of enlightenment.””

Overnight I had a Eureka moment that I’ve since forgotten. I don’t know if it was real or dreamed…

TIDYING

I hoovered downstairs (and the stairs themselves) and polished the tables, and felt tired the whole time, as though doing it was little short of a nightmare! I hope that book about the art of Japanese tidying is right when it says that when you finally get your possessions down to a more manageable level and tidy them away into their designated spaces, keeping the whole house clean will be easier and more fun.

“Those items that bring you the most joy, such as your divorce certificate, should be kept in your power spot. Every house will have its own power spot. To find yours, close your eyes and joyously chant: “Where’s my power spot?” If the answer does not come to you then you aren’t chanting joyously enough.”

A little while ago my iMac failed… or rather, one small component in it failed, which means the whole 27″ 30.5 lb weight of it (and some of the software on it) is scrap. I used to paint in that corner; create and maintain databases, organize my photo collection, back up my iPad, listen to music…

I haven’t been there since the iMac failed, and have felt confused and disgruntled ever since. I got a new computer but haven’t turned it on. I don’t know if it will run the software I’m used to running, and the thought of installing it all over again makes me not want to go through the process at all. However, without that resource, I don’t feel ‘me’ any more.

It’s time I addressed that, and brought my ‘power spot’ back into play. Today.

HELPING THE GRASS GROW

The hill out the back gets manure put on it annually. You go out into the garden and it’s suddenly reeking. I have thought a few times the cats were overdoing it…

BOOKS AND HAPPINESS

A while ago when I suggested buying Sharpe books on Kindle for her birthday, Mum said no, she can’t concentrate enough on reading.

More recently, I took a pile of books downstairs to go to charity, and some time later thought “that’s funny, the pile looks smaller!” I peeked in Mum’s room, and she’d taken a book (The Vital Spark) and put it in her book rack.

That made me happy. 🙂

She’s also finished a slim library book by Ann Cleeves and bought herself a Kindle book.

It all makes me happy and I feel calmer. Also, today it was sunny. Rather cold, but the sun was gold on the trees and blossoms… just lovely.

I’ll miss it here.

Don’t Worry

image

Snippet from my Social Folder

If you notice comments and ‘likes’ from me appearing on progressively older and older blog posts you’ve written, I’m not prowling. It’s just that I discovered blog post notifications have been sneaking into a separate Gmail mail folder which I never realized I had. A few random blog posts still appear in my main in-box, which is why I never wondered why I wasn’t hearing much about the blogs I followed. Everybody goes quiet for a while, right?

Anyway, this ‘social’ mail folder (which I didn’t personally set up) has a huge number of notifications, going back months, and most likely years. Gah!

Still catching up. Anything you regret posting, better delete it now. I’ve got to about…ohh… 1st February 2016.

Five Things I Learned

We’re into March already! Five things I learned this year so far:

(1) Treat your Mah Jong tiles with respect.

(2) Artists use battery-operated erasers.

(3) In Scotland you get a free bus pass if you’re severely or profoundly deaf. You still have to state your destination, which is not so hot if you have quiet or poor speech.

(4) There are no more photo booths in town. Even that technology seems to have ‘moved on’, at least locally. (Runs from various digital cameras pointed in her direction).

(5) It seems possible to replace just about any part of a blender — including the jug, supposing you broke it. Possibly depends on the model and the manufacturer, but always worth checking.

I Hate Colds

Just to let folks know I’ve got a monster of a cold! It started innocently with a mild throat, and I thought it would be over in 24 hours. But it’s like nibbling at a tiny leaf only to have something huge and scaly erupt through the sand!

Gaaaarrrgh.

Hope to get back on the blog-beat soon, but I’ll be taking it slow for a few days.

The Three I Remember Best

Somehow I couldn’t get interested in the Olympics this year, but I suppose I never could, no matter where they were held! I don’t think this is any kind of contrariness, as I’ve never been particularly interested in sports. I liked show jumping, but that was all. My three favourite show jumpers (from the 70s and 80s) were Ryan’s Son, Claret, and Hydrophane Coldstream.

I was amazed to find the following YouTube videos of them, and got horribly nostalgic…

Ryan’s Son: the handsome one with wide blaze and exuberant buck.

Claret: the beautiful little horse with rapid style.

Hydrophane Coldstream: the brilliant one. 🙂

I’ve mentioned all three of them before on this blog: 20 Things Meme. I called myself a negative wood snake (always felt like one!) Some things never change… Anyway, if you like memes or answering questions, you’re welcome to take that one up on your own blog.

Coconut

Well, we read a few how-tos and watched a couple of videos, and they made it look so easy… a few gentle taps, and it falls open.

I tapped it, smashed it, and weevilled at it with a corkscrew. Nothing. Mum finally got it open after launching herself at it with a heavy hammer and a wild scream. At least we can eat it now…

Garden Puzzle

A few days ago we caught part of the Chelsea Flower Show on TV. I grumbled to Mum that TV subtitles have a habit of putting the wrong word, then are interrupted by a correction even when the mistake was easy to guess. You wish it would just get on with it, as it seems slow enough already.

I spoke too soon! During an interview with Stephanie Cole, she said (according to the subtitles), “my garden is quite of Excise.” I’m still trying to work out what that meant!

The Important Things: My Answers

Doubtless his lot is important in his own eyes; and the chief reason that we think he asks too large a place in our consideration must be our want of room for him, since we refer him to the Divine regard with perfect confidence; nay, it is even held sublime for our neighbour to expect the utmost there, however little he may have got from us.
~ Middlemarch (George Eliot)

Sarah has posted some questions on her blog Stars and Rainbows — I can never resist answering these!

1. What is the one thing that makes you happiest, each day?
A peaceful day in which nothing has to be done or faced, and no fires have to be fought.

2. What is your biggest dream?
A more insightful, thoughtful and understanding world.

3. If you could meet your 16-year-old self, what advice would you give to her/him?
Keep in touch with your friends if possible, and keep that diary going! One day you will want to remember, and sometimes what you have written is a surprise… often good as well as bad. Also record your dreams… those are of interest too. Photos are good too, but they are never as evocative or as useful, somehow, as your own words from the past.

4. What is your most prized possession?
My sight. 🙂

5. What did school teach you?
That you learn more when you take an interest and get involved in your studies, especially when you choose additional books of your own (from the library or wherever). I didn’t hear at lessons, and sometimes didn’t hear what our homework was to be, and so home-study and planning were particularly important.

6. What has life, thus far, taught you?
That there’s no point banging your head against a brick wall, and that some people will believe what they want against all reason. Just accept you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and that so long as you get on with some people most of the time, you’re fine!

7. How would you describe your style?
Best when light…. but I keep forgetting that! 😉

8. What is your favourite thing about blogging?
It’s a way of getting your view across, while discovering and talking to other bloggers. It’s a way of venting steam, preferably without scalding anyone. Your blog is a record of your past thoughts and actions, and sometimes a reminder to get on with something that you were putting off and blogged about ages ago…

It’s also that moment when you think “what could I blog about today? It could be absolutely anything!” and feel an anticipatory thrill.

9. What is your favourite meal? Describe it, in a way that will make the reader want it.
Prawn curry! The rich tang of the curry sauce steams and curls under your nose. The plump sultanas glisten alongside sweet pink prawns, nestling on a bed of pearly white rice. At your side sits a large, finely etched glass of chilled white wine — we like ours to be dessert wine. Sometimes you also have a crunchy spiced poppadum —  I love to break mine into big pieces for scooping up the curry.

10. Imagine you are off on an adventure, and you need to pack a bag of food. What will your picnic consist of?
A Cornish Pasty or an onion bridie, if I felt a little more adventurous than usual! Sometimes cold quiche, or cous cous mixed with roast vegetables. Normally (more boringly) it would be a Marks and Sparks sandwich with a pricy little bottle of Coca-Cola.

11. What is the one thing that you wish everyone could understand?
It’s communication that’s important, not how one communicates.