I wrote this blog post nine years ago and never had the nerve to publish it… it’s been sitting in my draft posts ever since.
‘Last modified 5 Nov 2008’:
This makes me smile every time it shows up on my desktop: Halloween wp (1600 x 1200). It’s not mine, but if you happen to like The Nightmare Before Christmas, it will be your thing.
The other night I woke up thinking “I must take those wallpapers down; they’re giving me nightmares!” Actually they weren’t, as they’re nice rather than nightmarish, but I had a Halloween experience…
Do you hallucinate when very tired? I don’t mean ordinarily tired; you have to be quite sleep-deprived to qualify…. but I believe it’s fairly common in those circumstances. Sometimes (for instance after a very long bus expedition, not having seen a proper bed for 30 or 40 hours) I’ve been so tired that I couldn’t sleep properly… it’s as though you’re collapsing more than sleeping. That’s extreme, but that’s almost how tired you have to be for this. To illustrate the prevalence of this (if you really need convincing): it happens to students who are studying too hard (and possibly feeding themselves with too much caffeine). It also happens to motorists who have driven too long and are falling asleep at the wheel. Not at all smart, but I couldn’t help being charmed by one person’s story of driving till he saw a cowboy sitting on a suitcase in the middle of the road. That was his cue to park and sleep.
This kind of hallucination is a waking dream; you think you’re awake and looking around, but part of your brain is dozing.
Caution: If you’re squeamish, eating something or prone to nightmares of your own, don’t read past this point. You have been warned. 😈
On Sunday night, I was so enthralled by a book (Grumpy Old Men: New Year, Same Old Crap by David Quantick) that it was a shock to find it was nearly 5 in the morning. Oops — time to turn out the light.
I fell asleep and dreamed I’d lost a tooth, which was causing me problems. At the same time I became aware of a cowled figure standing at the door beside my bed… just perceiving him from the side of my eye. He was about to leave the room but I didn’t think I could sleep till the blood was washed away, so I called him back, asking him to sort it out for me.
He came and twisted a dark grey tap, barely visible in the gloom above my head. I expected clean cool water, but it was a foul-smelling, viscous, dark, sticky liquid that glugged out of the tap onto my face. “It’s not water,” remarked the cowled figure with deep satisfaction — “it’s old blood.” And he left the room.
“I can’t stand this,” I thought.
I had been dreaming, but was awake now.
I opened my eyes (they creaked open reluctantly) and the whole room was bathed in a crimson glare, as though a blood-red moon was shining in through the curtains. Gaaargh. Closed my eyes again, and just inside my eyelids were several disembodied faces, squirming with red maggots.
“It’s one of those waking dreams,” I said resignedly to myself. “I wore myself out.”
There was a flash of light through the window, visible through my eyelids… I looked, and everything was steel grey. An improvement on the crimson… but I couldn’t see what had caused the flash. No car, no security light. It made me anxious, as though something was closing in, and my heart started racing.
“This is a real Halloween experience!” I said to myself. “It’s just a shame it’s two nights too late. Maybe I should use it in NaNoWriMo.” The maggotty faces inside my eyelids nodded and stretched their mouths wide in cackly agreement — I saw the funny side, and laughed out loud. Just a quick “hereehee!” — then listened to my heartbeat till it slowed, and finally slept.
At first I was blaming a blog post I read shortly before bed… it was unexpectedly gruesome, and I was hoping I wouldn’t dream about it. Possibly it set the tone. But according to this Guardian/Observer article (In the dead of the night), the brain is dealing with raw animal emotions and fear… and so, ‘anxious’ dreams will often be of a gory and terrifying nature. Nature red in tooth and claw.
Bet you thought you would never meet a real Halloween ghoul… I wouldn’t be so sure.
I mentioned the article to Mum, telling her that people sometimes see the Grim Reaper or even Darth Vader, and she said scornfully, “but what’s scary about that?” I said defensively that I wasn’t frightened by my own cowled figure; in fact he was trying to sidle out of the room till I summoned him back.
He didn’t seem very keen, did he? Maybe he was on his way to a party, and I was delaying him.
Woke around five a.m. and read my Kindle… Alfred Tennyson by Andrew Lang.
I liked the following… it reminds me of modern TV:
“The brief life of the Ideal has burned itself out, as the year, in its vernal beauty when Arthur came, is burning out in autumn. The poem is purposely autumnal, with the autumn, not of mellow fruitfulness, but of the “flying gold of the ruined woodlands” and the dank odours of decay. In that miserable season is held the Tourney of the Dead Innocence, with the blood-red prize of rubies. With a wise touch Tennyson has represented the Court as fallen not into vice only and crime, but into positive vulgarity and bad taste. The Tournament is a carnival of the “smart” and the third-rate. Courtesy is dead, even Tristram is brutal, and in Iseult hatred of her husband is as powerful as love of her lover. The satire strikes at England, where the world has never been corrupt with a good grace.”
All this talk about flying gold, ruined woodlands and dank decay reminds me of a perfume I like… Calvin Klein’s Secret Obsession. Moss, wet earth and cool, damp leaves… beautiful. Perhaps the courtiers were wearing it at their Tourney.
There were words concerning women trying unsuccessfully to be like men (rather dubious, I thought!) and although I couldn’t find online commentary on the subject, I saw he had written a letter to Jane Austen in Letters to Dead Authors. I downloaded 10 or more Kindle books by Andrew Lang, including Letters to Dead Authors and Letters on Literature. I also found A Collection of Ballads, A Short History of Scotland, Tales of Troy and Greece and New Collected Rhymes.
A reviewer for The Book of Dreams and Ghosts said if anyone understood it enough to get more than 40% of the way through it, they were ‘ratty and silly’. Eight people out of eight said the review wasn’t helpful.
My Kindle was running out of power, so I connected it to the computer to recharge, washed a splash of coffee from its pink Shocksock and hung it up to dry. Then I went back to bed, as it was still quite early.
Had a horrible dream about a friend I fell out with…
In the dream I was happy and excited, telling her how I could visit a site of hers any time to see what she was saying and how she was getting along. It was like being subscribed to somebody’s blog, and there was nothing wrong with it. I thought she would be chuffed, but she told me that my frequent visits were causing problems on her site, and I shouldn’t be online so much, as it led to system overload.
She said I should unplug everything and stay offline. She didn’t say “check a few times to see how I’m doing!” or anything else nice; she gave the impression she wouldn’t care if I never went online again.
Obediently, I unplugged everything and thought, “well, I can do a little housework now.” I stared through a window at the garden. The day was slowly darkening, and shadows stretched across the lawn. The leaves stirred restlessly in the encroaching chill. I could hear my friend in the next room… she was clacking eagerly around her kitchen, talking to her husband. She had forgotten I was there, and was telling him that now they were free to do whatever they wanted, and she had lots of plans for the two of them.
I woke up again, depressed, and discovered I had slept so long it was lunchtime! The song Vienna by Ultravox was in my head.
The feeling has gone, only you and I,
It means nothing to me
This means nothing to me…….
I was dreaming that I was studying people’s personalities, including my own, and they were actually gradient meshes. Mostly just hollow in between the lines, but you could select a point and add any colour you chose.
I went to visit Roseanne’s family from the TV sitcom (Darlene, Becky etc) and was surprised and impressed, as they seemed nothing like as tacky as before. I told Darlene they had changed and seemed happier, and she said, “oh yeah, life became a lot easier after our income improved — we didn’t have to worry so much about money.”
Then there were competing models who weren’t getting on with each other. As I walked past another model, something in me warned me she was about to stick an elbow out and thrust me off balance, so I got my own elbow in first. She staggered, but I floated on… strong and serene. I was worrying about it — how could I explain that to people? How could I persuade them that I wouldn’t dream of doing it when left to myself, but the other woman would, and so I had to do it so that I wouldn’t be the one to end up looking silly? Then I realized I DIDN’T have to explain it to anyone, not really. I knew the truth, and that was enough.
Then I was home with Mum and decided all of a sudden to throw out some leftovers from the fridge. I stopped myself just as I picked up the third dish (bacon and onion), realizing these were meant to be our supper for tonight. I felt guilty and sad, and told Mum I managed to save our bacon but the mash was irrevocably gone, along with the Brussel sprouts. Mum shrugged and laughed, and said oh well, she does things like that too.
We decided to rescue a family from their punishment (isolation on a space station) and forgive them. But we told them that though we were taking them home, they still had to complete part of their punishment, which was counting to 1490 by the end of the week. They didn’t have to do it all at once, just bit by bit.
And I’m sure there was more — all in one night. At least I’ve been sleeping, and not lying awake for hours.
“Mad, quite mad!” says Mum.
Tuesday 15th June 2010
Dreamed I was sleeping in my old house. During the night Gordon Brown (our ex PM) came in and moved all of my things out, only leaving whatever I’d need over the next few days. Moving out was the plan all along and he’d been employed by my family to do the hard work. But I was peeved that he hadn’t left two or three books apart from the one I was currently reading, as I would have nothing to read when that was finished.
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Finally got around to ordering early birthday pressies from Amazon (Mum is paying). She gave the go-ahead to an anatomy drawing book, Vols Three and Four of the Moomin comic strip series, and two packs of blank DVDs. I meant to get one pack of 50, but it occurred to me it might make more sense to mix it up a bit and use different makes. It’s called ‘not putting all your eggs in one basket.’
*** *** ***
On the Mac I’ve got more than 14,000 files in one folder — all from the old scratched CDs. Still weeding out duplicates and damaged files.
Screenshot of file reorganization…! If you like the desktop picture, it’s Color My World by Jswgpb.
Computer room is still gathering dust. But my personal journal is having a little bit of boom time to itself!
Five days ago I noted a dream in which two little boys of 11 were hanging around in our driveway, up to no good. Livid, I seized them by their collars and frogmarched them halfway up the road, saying I’d call the police if they did the same thing again. But I could tell from their unimpressed expressions that they’d be even more likely to be bad on our property instead of someone else’s. Then Mum came home in her car and started taking bags of food out of the boot. She saw the two boys lingering nearby, and greeted them like old friends. Soon they were chatting away as though nothing had happened.
I had mixed feelings: relief that things had been smoothed over, understanding that Mum’s way was the best way (and that she genuinely liked the boys anyway), but also a feeling of frustration — because I wanted to approach things from her more relaxed angle, but couldn’t. I couldn’t relate to people the way she did — their ways, words and impulses were behind a thick veil. Despite best intentions, all I could express was my frustration (as a stranger rather than a friend and neighbour) and that only made things worse.
Thanks for the comments on the child-safe bathroom lock (see my blog post Small Worries). I have written saying the lock can be raised if preferred, but maybe it can be changed to a slide bolt (raised on the door, with lock removed). That’s three stiff locks we’ve had on that door… I don’t fancy my chances of a fourth one bucking the trend!
Was in Borders today… 30% to 40% off most things. We didn’t stay long, but I got myself two DVDs: Around the World in 80 Days (starring Jackie Chan… I particularly like the artistic intermissions) and 10,000 BC (I kept looking at it, so decided I might as well get it… though I haven’t a clue what it’s like!)
Got goose pimples just now… pulled everything out of my three-tier letter tray and was going through it… then noticed a dark shape curled up in the bottom tray. It was a dead bee. (See my dream of a couple of months ago: Light Relief). This one wasn’t a monster bee…. it was rather small and lost.
Found another note (from last Christmas) which I’d written to Mum. It said: “I made a faux pas in [a posh and expensive shop]. You tried one of the perfumes, so I moved to a bottle on the next table, put it on, then looked at the side. It said parfum d’ambience.“
Yesterday’s journal entry (Tuesday)… edited.
Wish I’d written my dream this morning — but I didn’t. Something about Mum and I watching something flying overhead and coming in to land. It looked like a huge phoenix trailing stars in its tail, and was something we used to know well but hadn’t had for ages — and it wasn’t a living thing as such; it was abstract — an ideal or a quality. We were pleased to see it, and I waved at it and cried “hiya there!”
I was sufficiently disturbed to stir in my sleep and think “that’s ridiculous, even for me!”
Another HDR day. Downloaded a PC version of Photmatix Pro… seems my licence allows me to use both Mac and PC on separate computers… provided they’re for me. I got bored waiting for the Mac to chug through every random snap I had ever captured. It sometimes took several minutes, aligning them and removing noise. Anyway, I thought while I was working on one, I could be waiting for the other (no, that didn’t come out how I meant).
Wrote a blog post about HDR. Also surfed around a bit to find if there was a difference between exposure fusion and HDR (or even just the usual layers, masks, dodging, burning and blending in Photoshop or a darkroom)… it’s debatable.
I feel annoyed with those telling the rest of us what we can and can’t do. “We’re so sick of all that bad HDR!” Admit it, they’d complain about aliens if they started visiting our planet. “But they don’t look REAL.”
We should come to terms with the fact that people want to be able to try things out for themselves. More than that; the internet allows us to show others what we have achieved. These days you will be seeing HDR at all levels by folks with widely different tastes (tastes of high dynamic range!), and I think that’s more exciting than leaving the field entirely to the skilled and the accepted. More than that, if we keep working at something, we will get better, so we are seeing a mixed bag of people at different levels of skill. There’s nothing wrong with that either… I keep coming back to the idea that it’s more destructive to complain than to get involved and try everything that’s going. I don’t know who wrote the rule book about things like that; I’d tear it up if I was handed one.
Pete put some of his latest photos on his blog and I liked one of a window onto sky. He said I could use them, so I snagged it and tonemapped it in Photomatrix! And I really like the outcome. Sent him that and an Orton’s effect one.
Reading about a comet and portents in the Cleopatra novel. She looked out of her window at the night sky and lo! There was a portent flying overhead. Everybody took it as a message for themselves personally. They are going to be the heroes or heroines who save the land. But I bet I’m the only one who waved and shouted ‘hiya!’
Click both to see the details more clearly. The top one is admittedly oversharpened, but that’s the drawback to using JPEGs off the web. Found a link to an Orton’s Effect tutorial, though I didn’t use it in the picture above. Thanks to Pete for the source image! It was taken at Raglan Castle.
Mum’s had a horrible cold for the past week. Yesterday I said “why do you keep clutching your face?”
“My nose is very sore,” she said. She was streaming; constantly blowing her nose and mopping her eyes. I considered myself lucky to have held out without falling prey to it myself. If this was how she reacted to a plain ordinary cold, goodness knows what would happen if she caught something worse.
Last night I was telling another mortal, tangled up herself in the coil of life, that teddy bears are good to have around — they can be counted on not to die of anything, and if you wake them up in the middle of the night to talk to them, they don’t yell at you. Well, not usually.
Only the night before, I had been talking to Stargazer the dragon. I said we could pretend we were on a beautiful ship of our very own. “Moonshine!” he said. Yes, piloted by Captain Stargazer with his cutthroat crew; First Mate Diddums (bucket’s over there) and Second Mate Magical Bear. With a motley crew of cook etc, but no doctors. Not needed.
Of course it would be night, with lots of stars visible overhead. The ship would be rocking gently, and all the crew would go to bed in the same hammock. No one would be on watch because the good ship Moonshine could be trusted to deal with whatever arose. Meanwhile, our great adventure was just to drift together on the waves, far away from the cares of civilization.
Nothing like it for sending one to sleep.
The next night I crawled back into bed, saying “what will we do this time? We could have something a little more exciting, like a hurricane?”
Captain Stargazer said “I dunno… it’s a bit too soon. Would a choppy night do instead?”
“OK, let’s get cracking, then. It was a dark night. Moonshine tossed restlessly and a cold breeze blew…”
First Mate Diddums couldn’t breathe. All she did was lie prone in the hammock, and her nose filled up. She had been perfectly fine right up till then. Cooked supper, washed dishes, made tea, did a jigsaw. And now this.
She couldn’t sleep. She mumbled, turned over, sneezed violently a multitude of times, and used lots of tissues. She even held her nose… it felt full of acid. All dreams of Moonshine and adventures flew out the porthole.
I got up at 5.30 in the morning. Mum said she could wake me early to do photographic mists and things, but outside it looked like noon already. We’re supposed to leave the photographic mists till later in the year. Instead I went and answered someone on the subject of Apophysis.
My stomach keeps being gripped by cramps, but when I asked Mum if she had that, she said ‘nope’. In fact today she’s quite chirpy and is beetling about washing clothes, making tea, and doing the next jigsaw on our list. So it’s just me, then. I expect I’ll be kicked out of the Moonshine’s hammock tonight.
Yesterday morning I woke from a dream in which two dark-haired waiters offered me baked fish. They gave me a choice… the fish could be in unbreaded cakes, or unbreaded fingers; both were deeply mired in a green parsley sauce. I’m not fond of fish, so I hesitated, and finally chose the fish fingers (they looked smaller).
I noted the dream in my journal but didn’t mention it to anyone. In the evening Mum said “I’m making baked salmon in parsley sauce. Do you want that, or would you prefer corn beef?”
I didn’t see any of the items in our shopping, and we haven’t had anything like that for months. I was silent for so long she gave me an enquiring glance, and I said “I dreamed last night I was offered this for supper!” and she said “harrumph.”
I chose the corn beef.
Other people’s dreams are generally dull, but sometimes your own make you sit up and wonder what they were all about, as they seem to come from nowhere.
A few weeks ago I dreamed I was a contestant on Come Dine With Me. When it was my turn, everybody was standing in the kitchen and all of a sudden I burst into song! It was completely unplanned and unrehearsed… and it was Rolf Harris. Although I hadn’t heard the song since I was a child, I had it off by heart, and sang the whole thing from beginning to end without a hitch. I wasn’t a good singer but knew exactly how Rolf sings it, and everybody was impressed and said it was amazing how well I remembered every nuance of it; I could almost have been Rolf himself.
I don’t know which song it was I was singing in the dream, but when I woke up, the song in my head was Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport.
Out of nowhere! Hadn’t been thinking of Rolf Harris, so…?? Your guess is as good as mine.