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…

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Posted in Videos

Touched

From my private diary:

14 July 2018

Lovely and sunny but too many flies coming indoors and refusing to leave. I left the window cracked open in the hope they would go out that way and not come back.

Just made the mistake of watching the following YouTube video:

Everyone Was Warned Not To Touch This Cat, But One Guy Did Anyway…

I couldn’t stop crying… Suddenly everything I was planning for today seems trivial in comparison.

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.

Posted in Blogging, Editing, Writing

Following the Blog Crowd

Today’s prompt by the Daily Post is fleeting, a tempting word to dangle in front of a writer! I could talk about fleeting thoughts, fleeting joys, fleeting beauty or the fleeting sands of time… all the clichés. We mostly try to avoid clichés and anything else bland, but still fall into the trap by following certain trends. Resonant writing, for instance, is something to admire, but there’s so much of it around I find myself recoiling. Do you feel manipulated sometimes? What if we ditched the resounding lines and dreamy philosophy and just said what we think?

It’s true that clear layout and good editing is part of good writing. If a word interrupts the flow of your reading, such as an unnecessary ‘I’ mid-sentence, delete it. If you make the same point repeatedly, cut the repetitions (unless they add something). If you’ve chosen an impressive word when a simple word would be less distancing, change it.

However, I liked Iridescence’s post about writing straight from the heart and deleting nothing — as opposed to constant editing, particularly when your memories are at stake. She is really referring to diaries but makes a good point — if we edit our thoughts and personal experiences too much, are we editing our own histories? Often when you look back you can’t understand why you said or did something, and it’s not till you come across an old email or diary entry that really says what you were thinking or feeling that it becomes clear. All the emotion comes back and you remember why… oh, I wasn’t such a baddie, then! Right.

Well, when writing a diary of any type, it’s important to keep that emotion in your language — don’t lose it in favour of ‘good writing’ or simplicity.

Real, true-to-ourselves writing isn’t just for ourselves, though. Sometimes I spend so much time editing and changing things to maximize flow or ‘sense’ that what I post bears no relation to my original thought. When I’m confused enough it’s not published at all, which I think might happen to this one. Well, plodding on…

The best kind of writing, I think, is smooth enough that the words don’t distract you. If you use long words or writing tricks to impress, bear in mind we all know what you’re doing — we’ve done it too!

There are so many beautifully-written posts that are not quite devoid of humour, character, personality or interest, but still fail to convince. Truly inspirational posts have something more to them than just elegance — some kind of meaning that you won’t get anywhere else, along with honesty, accuracy, and your own normal voice.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve learned anything from this post. I spent so much time changing it that I got lost, and don’t know what I’m saying any more. Nor do I know how to end it, so I’ll try a profound quotation I found on the internet.

Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.
– Napoleon Bonaparte

Hmm, I don’t know. Does it fit, do you think? 🙂

Posted in Books

Gratitude Journals

Isn’t there a song that begins:

You gotta accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative and latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between?

For years I’ve been trying, but the negative insists on creeping in. As for the middling greyness, that confusing and disappointing place, that’s where I do most of my lurking.

Luckily it turns out there is help at hand.

It’s called, HELP!: How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done by Oliver Burkeman. It’s a collection of Guardian articles about his findings when delving into the murky world of self-help. I found it amusing and down-to-earth, describing situations and attitudes I recognized — for instance, unaccountable irritation when accosted in the street by charities. As with anything else, there’s both good and bad in the world of self-help and popular psychology.

One tip he liked — and the reason for my post — is the idea of writing in a gratitude journal. He says don’t force yourself to do it, as it must never become a chore — and only list 5 or 6 items a day.

Well, I’ve been writing one for over a month now, but (being lazy) I just add it to my personal journal. I don’t think I could have separate books with different things (can’t think how I survived school!) I have a small black ‘ideas journal’ (somewhere) but that’s as far as I go.

I wondered why it had to be a list of ‘gratitudes’ and not ‘likes’, but I suppose we are grateful they exist! However, grumpy things kept floating through my head while I was trying to think of nice things. This is frustrating when you’re writing a general journal that records all your thoughts (not just some), so when a friend admitted to keeping a gratitude list herself, ranging it alongside gripes in a steno pad, I gave in and allowed the more negative things a voice as well.

This wasn’t the advice we were given! I’m not sure gripe lists will encourage me in my drive towards positivity. This is the trouble with mixing notebooks with different purposes… or are they really that different? My friend claims annoyances swirl around in her head forever unless she writes them down, and then she forgets them. I know what she means, as once I’ve laid an annoyance bare on the page, I’m more likely to step back and laugh. My old journals always sound like someone else has lived my life.

Recently I was doing scans of an old handwritten 2009 journal. I have a vague plan to back these things up, but it’s tedious work. In any case, back in 2009 I was writing about the need to pay attention to the more positive things in life rather than be critical about myself and everything else. Presumably that thought goes back even further, but every time you think of it, it seems new…

Well, I may not have a separate pad to flip through when seeking happy inspiration, but I thought it would be fun to ransack each month and find the best. Each day’s list seems coloured by mood, and I don’t know why that surprised me! I imagined them as simple lists of items and random thoughts, but sometimes I was tired and angry, other times amused and chatty — and you can tell what sort of day it was just by the lists.

The following are my June gripes and gratitudes, whittled down. Obvious items such as friends, family, health and chocolate don’t appear, though originally were there. Couldn’t remove coffee — I would have had withdrawal symptoms! My hand shook every time it hovered over the delete key, so I had to leave it.

*GRIPES*

(1) Spiders who run very fast to a spot just above your head, then vanish in the blink of an eye.
(2) Fundamental attribution error (FAE).
(3) Boredom and procrastination.
(4) The way the most recently changed post in Notes automatically moves to the top of the list as soon as you click on an older note… and suddenly you’re back on the most recent post instead of the one you were trying to switch to. It throws you off balance.
(5) Yes, we have no aubergines.
(6) SPAM!!!! (Stomp stomp stompstompstomp).
(7) Apps with adverts all over, even when you’ve paid.
(8) Not having enough time or light in the day!
(9) Eternal terms and conditions.
(10) Technology moving so fast that people get left behind.
(11) Getting spam from a Honey and having to double-check it wasn’t ‘my’ Honey.
(12) When Mum turns up the volume, a bar appears on the TV screen, blanking out whichever subtitles are there. It seems to stay there for quite a long time while you’re on tenterhooks, wanting to know what they’re saying, and then she clicks it again, and it stays on for another long time. Drives me absolutely bats.
(13) Being bombarded by charity adverts.
(14) The entire Textilus document is indented, and I can’t un-indent it.
(15) Feeling too hot. Who put on the central heating, and why??
(16) Not seeing in time that the Grumpy Mule coffee I picked out is decaffeinated.

*GRATITUDE*

(1) Bed and sleep.
(2) Rain.
(3) Song ‘Butterfly’ by Danyel Gerard.
(4) Coffee.
(5) Spider plants.
(6) New ideas — new ways of doing things.
(7) Homemade rice pudding, full of spice.
(8) Energy and enthusiasm.
(9) Those who are genuine.
(10) Zone-out days (Furry Blanket Days, in my case).
(11) Ty Beanie snails.
(12) Being safe from wolves.
(13) The existence of people who write things like gratitude journals.
(14) Cats with a sparkling sense of humour. (Nobody ever told Samson he shouldn’t hit women. He smacks every woman in the house who goes past — human or feline).
(15) The cat in the Caveman’s Prophecy game who’s just like Delilah, especially her plaintive mew.
(16) Fried mushrooms with egg and bacon.
(17) Tumbler tomato plant tumbling with tomatoes.
(18) Learning and mellowing through the years.
(19) Still being able to use Bryce when so many other Mac users have lost access to it.
(20) When I remember to wear my hair as a pigtail and it doesn’t get so much in the way when I sleep. Didn’t remember tonight…

I took so long polishing this post that June is long gone and July is nearly over. Hopefully there’ll be a list for July too; doubtless not till near the end of August! Watch this space.