Posted in Writing

What Should We Do With Old Diaries?

jnlcoverslil
Scans of diary covers

Anyone out there with old diaries? Why did you begin them and why do you still write them — or why did you stop? What formats do you use, and how do you store them? Are you worried someone else will read them or that you might lose them? Is your blog your diary, or do you see it as being separate?

I came across a 2009 article with many varied comments: Ask Unclutterer: What Should I Do With Old Journals? So many people out there wrestling with similar issues! Some burn or shred their diaries while others keep them safe or pass them on. I was concerned at the thought of them being destroyed, but the more I read, the more I realized it’s a very personal decision. Some diarists may feel their writings have no relevance to anyone, not even themselves. They worked through old problems and moved on, and don’t wish to go through any of it again. Others have no space and feel their families will want to lead an uncluttered life without being weighed down by a grandparent’s angsty old tomes. I can empathize with that thought.  Would I want to take responsibility for a large collection of family history? I don’t know. I kept some of my grandfather’s old books but didn’t want all of them, foxed and old-fashioned as they were. He didn’t keep a diary but I would have liked one, maybe half a dozen. On the other hand, a whole boxful, supposing he’d been a serial diarist like me? Difficult to know.

Recently I mentioned personal projects and feeling unable to complete them. There are many things I begin and then forget about, or I don’t forget but start questioning myself, or become distracted by something else. One of these projects was to scan and index my old diaries. I used to worry about how I could search them for issues, dreams, recipes or events I knew I’d written about.

I tried writing with a digital pen but that was more work than it was worth. I had to clip a receiver to the book I was working on and keep my writing very straight and neat. I would upload the files onto my Toshiba laptop then edit them in the related software, only to find lots of errors to edit out. It was disconcerting how short the entries were… my handwriting made them seem long, but they weren’t! Later, some of the files disappeared, even saved ones, and the refill for the pen wasn’t available in the UK.

OK, that didn’t work.

I tried typing out journal entries from recently handwritten diaries, but that was boring and I could always think of something else I would rather do. Dropped that plan.

Then, of course, I started typing daily entries directly onto the Mac or the laptop, and quite enjoyed that, because it was easy to edit them and delete stuff I’d changed my mind about. I could also insert photographs. It wasn’t terribly relaxing, however, and I yearned to curl up somewhere comfortable and write what was on my mind without restriction, so bought an iPad. That worked very well for some years and I was careful about backing up — only lost one short paragraph when the word-processing app on the iPad failed to save. I just rewrote what I’d lost as it was still fresh in my mind, but I knew I couldn’t risk that happening again with a longer entry. It was due to lack of space, and I can fix that if I really put my mind to it, but I’ve not got around to it yet. I have to carefully transfer nearly 3GB of old Notes out of Mail. Some of these were diary entries themselves, so I can’t risk deleting them wholesale, and I can’t leave them in Mail where they might get synced into oblivion! Meanwhile the iPad gets older and the days are passing.

The diary must continue, so on 29 December 2018 I picked up a blank jotter from Woolworth and started writing. Now the diary-writing circle (circus?) is complete.

I still have older diaries to worry about, so scanning them seemed the quickest way of backing them up. In 2011 I randomly chose a big orange one, which I finished scanning just yesterday, 7 and a half years later! Shocking. But I’m delighted that I’ve finally completed one of these albatross projects; it’s put fresh heart into me. It can be done! I feel so heartened that I moved the scanner closer to the Mac (why didn’t I do that before?) to make scanning quicker and easier.

I’ve already scanned 31 pages and the front cover from a big pink 2010 diary. Having the colour cover scanned into the same folder will give me a visual reminder of which diary it was, and of course there’ll be an index to help me find things. I don’t need to copy all my diaries into text, especially as I’m still writing… it would be a never-ending task.

This reminds me of a Terry Pratchett book. In one of them, people’s lives write themselves into diaries in a strange library somewhere… was it on Death’s premises? If you were to go there and read your own, it wouldn’t be finished yet, and you would see the scrawl continuing as you looked. “I decided to read a blog post on Aw Diddums while waiting for my friends to turn up. I got to this point in the ramblings when suddenly the doorbell rang. I jumped out of my skin.”

No? Maybe you were reading someone else’s diary then. I can’t help it if you pick up the wrong book!

I don’t know, I’m probably wasting my time doing this, but I believe completing it will give me peace of mind, renewed self-belief, and maybe new ideas — or old ideas buried in old diaries that come to light again and are found. A new better-organized me beckons, and 2019 could be the year! Let’s get on with it.

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Posted in Books, Writing

Sleepless in Anórien

wwjotter

The Great Diary Project asked about New Year’s Day entries, so I looked up mine. Of course, I’d missed it this year, so couldn’t tell them! Typical. I do have an entry for January 2nd:

Watching Jane Eyre. The Christmas tree is lit, the room getting dark, Jane Eyre is full of creaking floorboards and howling winds. Jane is mystified. I’m hungry… will have something at tea-time when M gets up. Nibbles and shortbread with tea. I got my Evernote app working again. A while ago I forgot my password but sorted it before Jane Eyre came on. I can use two devices without upgrading from the free version. For some reason it had me down for three devices: iPad, iPhone/iPad and Mac! That made no sense to me, but I deactivated the ‘iPhone/iPad’ device and now it works. It annoys me how computers, more and more, do things you don’t understand.

The rest is unquotable! I went back to keeping a handwritten diary — currently using an old Woolworths spiral-bound jotter, purple with spots. My daily entries in it are shorter than typed ones because…

[7 Jan]: …”I’m struggling with my hand-writing. One reason I make so many mistakes is that I leap too far ahead in thought. The form of my words drops away like loose string, and the wrong letters appear too early. I am deliberately writing more carefully at the moment, and it’s slow and frustrating. It feels strange to be carefully spelling out each word when my whole thought is waiting to be expressed, as though jammed in a bottleneck and at risk of vanishing altogether in the next second. Perhaps there’s something wrong with my ability to focus — perhaps the internet really has changed our brains.”

A while ago I started a blog post about the impact the internet has on people’s ability to concentrate, but never finished it. (!) I should look it out.

I’ve been unable to sleep, often waking around 4. I’ll put the light on and read, eventually dropping off again around 5 or 6. Then I’m useless for anything the next day, even falling asleep on the sofa when I should be up and doing. As I said in my diary on the 7th, “if only I could switch the sleeping with the ‘not sleeping’ — that would work out a lot better!”

I started to wonder if it was ‘house noises’ again. Being profoundly deaf, I shouldn’t hear anything at all, but it’s more like ‘feel’. At times the whole room seems to buzz, and I can’t work out why. Mum is absolutely clear that there’s no ‘buzzing’ whatsoever, and I’m equally clear there is! I reckon I’m onto something, because I was very nearly asleep when something in the air suddenly changed, as though we’d switched up a gear. My bed started to rumble, and I thought, “oh NO!” and woke up completely.

Bother.

I put the light on and reached for my copy of The Lord of the Rings. The first words out of it were:

It was dark and Merry could see nothing as he lay on the ground rolled in his blanket; yet though the night was airless and windless, all about him hidden trees were sighing softly. He lifted his head. Then he heard it again: a sound like faint drums in the wooded hills and mountain-steps. The throb would cease suddenly and then be taken up again at some other point, now nearer, now further off.

~ The Return of the King, Book 5, Tolkien; p862, Chapter V: The Ride of the Rohirrim

That must have been annoying. Do orcs never sleep??

My energy has gone. Life is full of interruptions, and it can take ages to return to whatever I was doing, especially if motivation has vanished in the meantime. I don’t know why it should, but suspect there’s little or no value attached to my personal projects. There’s no real purpose. The most important thing I do right now is ‘keep house’, and my hobbies are as hollow baubles… they don’t hold my interest for long. When younger, I was convinced these things (writing, art and photography) would have their own intrinsic value and not just for me, but I no longer believe that! Life shows you that you are nothing out of the ordinary, and very little survives the passing ages. I still wish I had enough drive to make the most of my spare time. How much more we could achieve if we didn’t tire out, lose focus or lose heart — but perhaps that’s unrealistic. 🙂

I’ll look for that blog draft on internet reading, and see if I still agree with any of it…

P.S. About those orcs I blamed for keeping Merry awake, I’ve been corrected by Marshal Elfhelm in the book:

“Nay, nay'”, said Elfhelm, “the enemy is on the road not in the hills. You hear the Woses, the Wild Men of the Woods: thus they talk together from afar. They still haunt Druadan Forest, it is said…. they are troubled by the darkness and the coming of the orcs: they fear lest the Dark Years be returning, as seems likely enough.”

~ The Return of the King, Book 5, Tolkien; p863, Chapter V: The Ride of the Rohirrim

Ah, we are doomed…

Posted in Hearing Loss, Political and Social Issues

Confuddled By Our Politicians

18 July 2018

I went to sleep after reading news last night, then woke up abruptly and couldn’t go back to sleep again. I felt anxious because I hadn’t understood what they were voting about in the Commons and what the uproar was all about.

Sat up and read several news articles, realizing that some of them were really bad at explaining it; even misleading — not deliberately, I don’t think; just sloppy writing or poor-quality summarizing. Finally I got the idea… unless I misunderstood, the story appears to be that Jacob Rees-Mogg and his band won a couple of damage-limitation amendments, then voted to pass the bill, whereas Stephen Hammond, Anna Soubry et al were furious about these amendments and tried to vote it down. They were very narrowly defeated. One of the amendments the Remainers wanted to pass was an attempt to force the UK to stay in the Customs Union if the negotiators hadn’t arranged a ‘frictionless border for trade’ by early next year.

At least I think that’s the story, as I had to piece it together from different accounts.

It seems the Remainers think the Brexiteers are trying to scupper the Chequers plan by pushing amendment changes that will probably cause the EU to reject the deal, though it looks very much as though the EU will reject it anyway.

I’m not the only confused one!

Boris Johnson reminds everyone why we voted leave — I liked his speech better than his article in the Telegraph. He said he disagreed with those who thought we could ‘limp over the line’ with an unsatisfactory Brexit deal then ‘rebreak’ it later to reset the bone. It won’t happen.

24 July 2018

I started telling M what my book said:

“…ever since Cromwell, Parliament has held absolute power and no court in the land can overturn it. So ‘England’ has been living under the tyranny of ‘lex regia’ ever since — not ‘the law of the land’.”

M said, “Do we not need a parliament?”

“I think previously courts could overturn rules that went against the law of the land. Now they can’t.”

“To be fair, there were an awful lot of stupid laws.”

“There still are!”

I switched off the Kindle and said, “I can only read so much of the book at a time — it’s like waking up and discovering we live in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.”

Three videos I liked:

David Wimble — Deaf Photographer Shares His Story

He’s witty, and his photos are stunning.

[ASL] Montigo — When Hearing People Look at You Differently

Even wittier.

Artie McWilliams — Deaf Anxiety

The first part of ‘Deaf Anxiety’ is what I do… the room-scanning thing! It’s the first time I’ve seen anybody else say they do that as well, so I’m quite pleased. The more crowded the place is, the more on edge I am, because I need to stay aware of who might be around me.

NB: I’m having doubts now about transferring bits of my private diary to my blog… I start fighting with myself about what to include, so I maybe I’ll go back to writing directly for the blog. Plundering my diary is a lazy method.

I need coffee…

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

Everything Falls Short This Summer

2 July 2018

Went shopping for clothes, but most were really ugly. Big floral designs, material too skimpy. I said to M they were all more like the kind of garments you wear over swimsuits. She said maybe they were. My question is, why should everything in the shop be like that?

3 July 2018

Watched a Ted Talk: Useful Journaling

What he says about the uses of journalling is very true and I’ve experienced it myself. It’s why I still write, though, as he says, there are times you give up for a while… yet always pick it up again.

That Ted Talk was immediately followed by: Want to learn better? Start mind-mapping

It got me thinking at the end about how it could be used to tease through something that’s confusing to understand or discuss adequately. I get so confused about what people mean, what they say, what they want, what they know, and whether all of this fits together or not, that eventually I give up trying to figure it out. Perhaps this would be a tool that helps us find our way through the brain fog!

8 July 2018

I came across this in the Apple News app:

May’s Brexit plans ‘unworkable’ and a ‘fudge’, Sir Keir Starmer says. The shadow Brexit secretary said: “I’m afraid it’s got fudge written all over it.”

“Ah,” I said in surprise, “Finally we AGREE on something!”

This Chris Riddell political caricature in The Guardian was amusing, though I wondered why it was a swivelly unicorn instead of a cowardly lion.

13 July 2018

For three or four days I had hot chocolate with the 100% cacao I got from M&S, and some whipped cream to put on the top. I’m not very good at making real hot chocolate, even when I make a better fist of not allowing the chocolate to curdle in the milk. My current method is to melt a square of the chocolate directly in the mug, sitting in a pan of recently boiled water. It melts well, and I leave it sitting in the hot water when I put the heated milk in gradually, stirring it to mix with the melted chocolate. Then I put a dollop of whipped cream on top. It seems to work well, and tastes OK, then I reach clumps of resolidified chocolate at the bottom, and that spoils the drink. I don’t know how to get over that hurdle.

Was stressed this morning because internet wasn’t working and yet the router’s light was still green. I gave it time and it still refused to work. Eventually I unplugged the router, left it a few minutes, plugged it in again, and at last it worked! I hate it when it blocks me; it makes me wonder what I did to offend the gods of the internet.

Quite liked this video in YouTube:

President Trump Arrives at Blenheim Palace as He Visits the UK, the PM and the Queen

Was awestruck by the quiet, purring power of the Americans. There was something so strange about seeing a little bit of America here in Britain, as though they had driven over the hill from a neighbouring castle! I watched with the sound off (as usual) so our own pomp and circumstance passed me by somewhat.

Posted in Dreams and Nightmares, Life and Family, Lost in Thought

Finding My Inner Monster

26 June 2018

Sadness strikes today, but not in a cataclysmic way. People are too trusting. It reminds me of HG Tudor saying narcs love people who are very trusting, but they themselves trust nobody. I don’t think being the sheep is a good thing.

(One of HG Tudor’s posts, relating to what I had in mind: Angels with Dirty Faces).

27 June 2018

Reading Lost Connections (Johann Hari). Like other books I’ve read recently, it exposes weaknesses in the world of science.

Jordan Peterson said we need to cultivate our own internal monsters to defend us against monsters in the world at large. That, is, very, TRUE. I grew up trusting that science was always scientific and logical and if something was said to be so, it was based on all available facts, but now that seems questionable.

Jordan Peterson: ‘Are you weak and naive, or are you dangerous?’

In that context, I even found myself thinking about my blow-up with the ex-friend. A few years ago I would have been upset. “Am I such a bad person; did I say something unforgivable?” No, of course not — I did my best without giving ground on what mattered. I’m completely at peace, because my inner monster finally rose up and challenged hers.

The day ended up quite cool again… sudden curling mist gathering against grey twilight.

28 June 2018

Oh, the heatwave! It was like a furnace in the sunshine, and was even worse in the car when we went home. I felt if we didn’t get that car moving and the breeze circulating, I would perish within minutes. We were flushed, but not as much as M. I gave her water, then we had pizza for lunch. The red flags in her cheeks had faded slightly by the time she went for her afternoon siesta.

I’d been promising myself a treat to celebrate finding my inner monster, and got ‘Pigasus’, a Maxwell & Williams ‘Smile Style’ mug with cheerful flying pig design. The artist is Donna Sharam in Australia, so, look, I got myself an Aussie gift without realizing. 🙂

29 June 2018

Had yet another nightmare about wolves. Was trying to stay safe overnight in a big building with several floors. There were children and other women, and we’d just moved in with lots of toys, clothes, food, bedding etc, and I was faced with the task of getting everyone to the top floor. It was already getting dark and we had to take the most important things and abandon the rest. I wasn’t sure the locked doors would hold, as the wolf pack was strong and determined, but we would build a clutter-wall in our rooms upstairs, and should be safe. Funny, though; I still felt the need to gather up not-so-important items that caught my eye. “Can’t leave that teddy duck lying there. It’s coming upstairs with us.”

M said she had a nightmare too. “I had a really strange one about sleeping underground in a sort of bear’s den.”

“Maybe one of your ancestors had such a home?” I suggested.

It wouldn’t actually surprise me, though I didn’t say that out loud.

Posted in Art, Life and Family, Lost in Thought, Political and Social Issues, Rants

Waking Up to Life

Extracts from private diary:

17 June 2018

Diary is getting fits-and-starty again. It’s gone grey outside again; no rain yet. M said it’s not been raining but she thinks it’s GOING to rain. The cats have invited themselves back in.

The following comment on YouTube tickled my funny bone: “I like how the EU is such a wonderful place that they have to barricade the doors to stop people from getting out.”

18 June 2018

Life is more interesting than I thought. Apparently intelligent and successful people make a real hash of things, including the very things they are celebrated for. It’s not just that we can make errors with far-reaching consequences for billions of people, it’s that what you think you know can turn out to be wrong, and the fate you think you have can be changed just by changing something simple and close to home. Unless you look into it and try different things, you never know for sure.

19 June 2018

There’s another reason why life is more interesting than I realized: when everything’s perfect and goes the way you expect, you learn nothing. There’s all this ‘in depth’ stuff to know about and experience, and you don’t even get a glimpse of it if things are going smoothly. You just assume people think the same way you do; that everybody behaves the same way; that you all know the same things; that everything you all know is true and always has been true and that there’s nothing more to it.

Then things go wrong! People don’t behave the way you expect; you do your best and things still don’t work out; you show people trust and affection and it’s thrown back in your face; everybody around you suddenly goes crazy and seems to be living in an alternative universe. You thought life would be easy, and it’s not. You make mistakes you always swore you’d avoid… and even though you can see they’re mistakes, you can’t get out of them no matter how you try. Or you realize they weren’t really mistakes; they were an inevitable outcome of a lifestyle that everybody lives because we’re all actually living out ‘one gigantic mistake’.

You take a closer look at people to try and suss out what went wrong, and realize many are as lost as you but some have crazy-good ideas which could change your life for the better. Others are too controlling and assume terrible ideas that could destroy all humankind or at least all quality of life, which is most likely the same thing. The whole point is, it’s not till things go wrong or the unexpected happens that you learn anything about yourself and how the rest of the world works.

Sometimes you don’t understand for a long time just what it was that occurred, and it takes experience as well as fresh input from others to help you work it out. If life was as straightforward as you assume at the beginning, it would be dull in contrast with the reality.

23 June 2018

02:49: Sat up in bed. I seem to (secretly) get mad with everybody on my birthday for getting me the wrong thing. In this case I said I’ve always wanted an art journal. I pictured myself sitting on a bench, sketching in a little black Moleskine, but what I received was a large white scrapbook. It came along with gilded scrap paper to paste inside and a Pritt Stick to do the pasting.

Just before trying to sleep, I was flipping through a papercrafts book and tried to imagine myself taking photos of trees and printing them out; pasting them into the scrapbook with fiddly decorations… dead leaves; sketched maps; illustrated mushrooms; quotations; snippets of my own story.

Nah…

Turned off the light and tried to sleep, but all the time I was thinking crossly about scrapbooks. I thought I might while away the time planning out what sort of scrapbook I could do, but got more angry instead of less. I thought about the book I was reading and everything in the world that was going wrong that didn’t need to go wrong, and I could feel a scream rising in my head. I got far too hot and had to push the blanket back, and my new birthday watch got caught in the folds and I struggled for a while to pull my wrist free.

Suddenly I had an idea…

Well, I didn’t say I would say what the idea was. 🙂 Even would-be scrapbookers are cagey like that.

Posted in Dreams and Nightmares, Life and Family, Observations, Reluctant Landlord

New Beginnings

She moved on — the friend I talked about in Kablooie.

I already knew we were finished. No deal is better than a bad deal, and I wasn’t going to put up with any more. I thought it might be possible to pull back just enough to allow the friendship to drift away without further hurt feelings and angry words, but she chose to end it formally.

Well, she is right — a clean break is best. I can now be who I want to be without questioning myself and feeling dragged down. We were good for each other in the past and had a few things in common, but ultimately we became incompatible.

The following isn’t connected, but lately I’ve had trouble keeping my private diary going. It was hopping along in fits and starts, but I’ve been trying again in a different app. An edited version follows:

Sunday 10 June 2018

I have a mental barrier against journalling. I keep thinking, “not now… maybe later,” and end up watching videos in YouTube. I was watching a video about Ambien by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, and in one of the comments underneath was a short list of things with addictive qualities — video games, social media and YouTube! Maybe that’s what happened to me. The commenter said potent, short-acting ‘drugs’ are the ones that get you addicted.

Monday 11 June 2018

I’m definitely at war with myself when it comes to this diary. I really want to write it, and there’s constant chatter in my head about the things I want to say, but then when it comes to writing, I don’t want to. Perhaps I’ve got tired of actually expressing my thoughts about everything.

I dreamed a while ago that the tenant’s wife came to us and said for a long time she hadn’t been able to pay the full rent, so had been paying only part of the rent every month, and nobody even noticed. She now had all the funds and would be able to pay back what she still owed me, though we’d need to plan it out so she could pay back gradually. The agents instantly flew into a passion, saying that wasn’t within the terms of my lease and she should have been upfront with us from the beginning. When I woke in the morning I felt very uncomfortable and thought to myself “I never dream about the tenants! Why would I do so now?” I thought of writing it down in my diary but worried it might tempt fate, so I didn’t.

About a month after that dream, I got an email from the agency saying the tenant had been in touch to say he’d lost his job and could we discount the rent? The money would come from his wife, who was still working.

13 June 2018

Just back from a walk. Lovely sunny day with a warm, playful breeze. I took my camera but it ran out of power before I’d gone very far. Went past the duck pond (dozing ducks and a couple of fuzzy ducklings), across the bridge, over the top of the hill and back to the house. There was a slightly plump couple canoodling in the grass, but I didn’t have to pass too close! On the other side of me was a lady with her spaniel, which was off the leash and rooting through the vegetation. It didn’t approach me… the long damp grass was probably more interesting than I was.

When I checked my messages at home, someone sent the nicest note I’ve had in a while: “Knowing you, your ‘average’ will be really good:).” Wow.

Another friend said he needs to find a woman and is planning a road trip on his bicycle, and I said he sounds like a country song. I said I was walking out to take photographs, and he said, “Don’t do it tomorrow… there are strong gales forecast.”

It’s certainly got pretty cool and there are big splashes of rain. The sun went behind a cloud some time ago.

I told Mum my joke, that I was planning to walk to Mordor but there was a red sign saying ‘FOOTPATH CLOSED’. She gave me a confused look, and said, “You were going to walk to WHERE?”

I said it’s something people do… they know what the distances are, so they walk that distance and say, “I’ve been to Mordor.”

“Oh,” she said.

22:41: Was out in the garden at twilight ‘saving the pinks’ and other things from the ferocious gale that’s due to hit. The breeze was picking up already.

Donald Trump came on the news. ‘A tired Trump touched down and said risk of war with North Korea is over, so sleep well tonight.’ The words are not exact; they’re from memory, but I thought it was lovely. The news are usually doom, gloom and tension.

14 June 2018

05:58: The first thing I did was peek through my bedroom blinds to see if there’s a roaring gale outside. The blossom tree is swaying, but not really. I feel happy thinking about my walk. It’s like there’s a corner of my mind that’s pure sunshine and hope.

13:08: Sunny day again. I took a few dull videos of the trees thrashing around at the back. The only damage I can see is that our large red poppies and most of the clematis flowers have suffered — their petals strewn across the ground. The snails dragged a stray lupin plant round the back of the hedge, and a potted golden rose lost a single bloom. The pinks in their shady little cranny are barely moving at all.

In Messenger, someone sent a video about bonding with a wingless bee. She gave it sugary water and flowers, took it in, and looked after it till it died. I was touched, and had to reach for a tissue, but after I recovered, our conversation went as follows:

Me: “MY bee drank the sugary water and then left. Ungrateful varmint.”

Friend: “Well, that is the whole point… One doesn’t expect them to have to hang around.”

“I wonder if we showed the video to angry wild bees in the woods, would they become more peaceful?”

“Different species.”

“Donald Trump showed an encouraging video to Kim Jong Un. It seemed to work.”

“I don’t want to know anything about Trump & co.”

“It was just a joke.”

I was crushed! I expected her to know about the video, but I don’t think she did. Now I feel like I live in a different world… and I’m the one who’s changed.

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! 😈

Posted in Cooking, Life and Family, Lost in Thought, Observations

Today I’ll Create Something Beautiful

I was scrolling through my WordPress feed and glimpsed the following blog post: Today Isn’t Just Another Day — Today I’ll Create Something Beautiful.

Fleetingly I had a moment of regret, thinking, “but I can’t!” To me, to create would be to take the day off and paint a digital picture, create fractal art, put some effort into photography (strangely exhausting, which is why mostly I just take snapshots). Or I might take time to come up with a haiku I’m proud of, or write a long and thoughtful blog post.

Today I don’t have time to do any of these, so today I can’t create anything… and probably not tomorrow either, or the day after, or any day for a long while.

Then I realized, “but I did create something nice… I made potato and leek soup.”

There’s a small story behind that. I was trying to use up our vegetables, so they were bubbling away in the soupmaker. A rare bird came into the kitchen… my mother, wobbling slightly. She paused just inside the doorway and stared at the soup with popping eyes.

“What is it?” I said, worried I had damaged the soupmaker and hadn’t realized it yet.

“Nothing,” she said, snapping out of her rictus. “I would just have put an extra potato in… that’s all.”

“Oh. I meant to, but forgot. I guess if the leek is too strong, you can always add milk.”

Fortunately it wasn’t too leeky. When we were having it for lunch, my mother made a point of saying sincerely, “It’s very nice!”

That’s not all I created today. Two different soups, scrambled egg and steamed vegetables… that’s what I made of today! The other soup is carrot and sweet potato, and that’s to go in the freezer for a day when I’m too tired to cook.

For some reason the carrot soup frightened me more than the leek soup. It’s a ‘heavy’ soup (probably because of the iron-hard sweet potato) and would barely move inside the soupmaker jug when I hit the ‘stir’ button. Even when I blended it at the end, it swirled round reluctantly as though a great weight was bearing down on the blades. When I stopped pulsing it, would stop, then spit out a ‘glop!’ as though pretending to be volcanic mud.

The leek soup behaved beautifully all the way through, but the carrot soup wanted to hurl itself out of the jug, despite the fact that it had just the right amount of fluid and no more. Last year I had an accident with this same soupmaker… I put a little too much fluid in, and it boiled over. The hot soup gushed over the electric controls and I leapt forward and turned it off at the mains!

That experience really scared me. The carrot soup seemed to be doing its damnedest to do the same thing today, and I couldn’t go away and rest for even two minutes… I didn’t trust it.

Anyway, the carrot soup won’t be able to do much to anyone when I put it in the freezer tomorrow.

Of course, the blog post that inspired these ruminations isn’t about anything material at all. When talking about creating something beautiful, it doesn’t refer to art, cooking, sewing, flower displays or even a neat home. It’s more abstract than that — it’s about doing something kind for someone or taking time to consider your life and be grateful… it’s about making the day itself beautiful.

Maybe it’s working, because here I am thinking about my day and what I made of it. Coffee, tea, two soups, scrambled egg, steamed vegetables, and now a blog post. I’m happy because I feel I made a good job of the food. My mother could have eaten more, I felt, but she was alert, talkative and in a good mood.

I don’t blog unless I feel inspired, and it’s odd that I felt inspired when all I had to talk about was that one fleeting moment when I thought “but I can’t create anything any more.”

This is what I like about writing though… in the murky soup of our lives, things swirl round sluggishly or rise to the top with an enormous, sullen ‘glop!’ Writing about a fleeting moment or thought, a dream, a funny sight, or a short conversation might seem like nothing at the time… but what you have done is save one moment in a million. When you read it later, you will say “I don’t remember that!”… but that’s the point. All those other funny moments and silly dreams will have gone forever, because you did not write about them… but you did write about this.

We can’t save everything; we can’t write about every single moment of our lives, though I swear there are times I’ve really tried! It’s hard to say why you might save one thing but not another… that makes it better, somehow; the sheer randomness of it.

If today is to be as beautiful as I can make it, what else in it was worth the saving?

It was a bright and sunny day, but we got very cold in the afternoon and thought the heating had gone off yet again, and that we were in for another icy night. Fortunately it did come on eventually. I was grateful to be cosy again, and remembered how the chill crept up on us so stealthily that I was surprised to find all of a sudden that the skin on my arms was cold to the touch, and even my nose was cold! I must have been getting steadily chillier but hadn’t been paying attention.

Before the heat really kicked in, I made tea and brought a mug to my mother, and she immediately put her hands on it and held it without drinking. A little bit of warmth in an icy house… that was another good thing I made today.