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.

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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 Writing

Facts, Friends and Brutal Honesty

Facts are facts…

Some ‘facts’ are such that not everyone agrees, and that’s because they are not facts. Real facts don’t necessarily make sense outside a particular context, and if you distort the context, you might come to a conclusion that others disagree with. People regularly present their conclusions as being ‘facts’ even when they are not.

I tried to think of a random example, and eventually came up with three. How about….

(1) Fact: “I’ve never seen her smile or laugh.”
False conclusion: “She has no sense of humour.”

(2) Fact: “He lies more casually than most.”
False conclusion: “He never tells the truth.”

(3) Fact: “Most of the time I don’t understand, like or agree with his perspective.”
False conclusion: “He’s a liar / stupid / a bad person.”

I noticed some time ago in debates that opposing sides batter each other with ‘facts’. It’s confusing. If there are facts to prove something, why don’t these speak for themselves, presenting us with a single, clear-cut course that everyone automatically agrees on?

I imagine it’s a combination of errors, unproved assumptions, changing context and varying perspectives. Just because X is X and will always be X, you won’t necessarily agree that it means Y, and that Z is the only and best way of dealing with it. You may not even agree that A is a desirable outcome. There will also be characters and groups who only work for themselves; they are not averse to muddying the waters and making things difficult.

Anyway, last night I was trying to turn FACT into an acronym, and wrote these:

Friends are courteously truthful.

Fair and completely true.

Fixed and certain truth.

My favourite is the last one, but I was thinking about the first — ‘friends are courteously truthful’. Is that a fact, or am I offering a narrow view of what a friend can be?

The term ‘brutal honesty’ comes to mind in this context. Do you believe in brutal honesty? Does it work in instances when nothing else does? Do we all mean the same by it? Is it useful to express something in a harsh or punitive way, perhaps even when there’s nothing to be done about it any more? Or does ‘brutal honesty’ involve merely stating a disagreeable, bubble-bursting fact at a time someone could still make use of your advice, and without too much loss of face?

For example, in a situation I’ve made up here, there are certain things you might tell someone:

(1) “For goodness sake, Emma, you look like a pregnant whale.”

(2) “No, it doesn’t suit you. I know it’s the fashion, but it’s not a good fashion. I like you better in the old blue one, which I happen to know Richard likes as well. :-P”

(3) “Everybody said how dreadful you looked last night in that dress, and the guys you fancied were laughing at you.”

To me, the first would be brutal honesty that might save someone from a disastrous party, though it would still be awful and depressing. Courteous honesty would be the second, and the third would be pointless spite. It might have such an effect that your friend’s dress sense would drastically improve thereafter, but there are always better ways of intervening.

When it comes to defining what a friend is, we must be wary. The internet is full of advice such as ‘real friends don’t…’ but there are bad friends who are still friends. They might snap, growl, make mistakes or lie to you sometimes, but it would be wrong to suggest that everyone who has a tendency to behave this way isn’t a friend. Some may have meant well and had no idea you’d misunderstand them or respond so badly. Others who are sharp with you do care about you, and would have your back when the chips are down. Possibly they are on a personal journey and will mellow and improve with time… gradually you find your relationship improves. Then again, perhaps not; it could be that they don’t care or will never learn. You can’t make generalizations.

‘Brutal honesty’ could just be banter in some cases, genuinely lightening the moment and causing everyone to laugh and bond. Truthfulness isn’t always required, but when it is, it’s best delivered kindly and at the right moment… yes, with mocking laughter if that’s what works for your group, but never with spite or intent to cause pain.

‘Friends Are Courteously Truthful’ is largely true, I think, but it’s a complicated world and there are exceptions… so it’s not an outright fact.

Other blogs’ posts on the Daily Prompt ‘Fact’.

Posted in Life and Family

Some Fish to Fry

Meant to write this at the end of the night when I got some rest, but have run out of energy. Oh boy! Trying to write it anyway.

It is hard finding foods my mother will eat. She is more likely to shake her head and say she doesn’t like something than she is to accept it. It’s almost a reflex reaction.

A week ago I was telling her about stripy ‘Pink Tiger’ lemons I saw in Marks & Spencers. I’d never seen them before, so it was just a matter of curiosity. I didn’t buy them, but when I was describing them, all she said, very clearly, was, “I don’t like lemons.”

Well, I know! These were awfy pretty, though. Can you buy lemons just because they’re pretty?

Decided to fry some fish for supper tonight. I absolutely hate asking over the counter for anything, and could have asked my sister to do it instead, but I decided it was time I screwed my courage to the sticking place and did some things for myself. So I ended up at the supermarket fish counter just as someone else was leaving. Previously I’d had a surreptitious look at the fishmonger and decided he would probably be quite kind… and so it proved!

I’m extremely softly spoken, so, even as I spoke, I instinctively reached over to show him my shopping list, which was quite long! But near the top it said ‘2 small fillets haddock’.

He smiled, showed me the small fillets, then wrapped them up with the price sticker on, and handed them over, still smiling.

Sometimes there’s absolutely no reason to be nervous! I still felt slightly on edge, out of habit, and while he was wrapping the fillets, passed the time by studying the other fish and similar squirmy things on display. Right in front of me were a couple of octopuses.

Ooooh…

That makes me sad. Of all the things we fish out of the sea, octopuses seem more like personalities… though perhaps fish, crabs and limpets are personalities too. I sympathized with the lady I saw on TV the other day who said it always upsets her to see rays in the fish barrels. She said in the water they seem to smile, but in the market they all have downturned mouths.

It upset me too when she said that.

At home I told my mother about the two octopuses just in front of me. She frowned.

“Don’t think I would eat those,” she said.

As to the haddock… they tasted very good. My mother normally cooks them herself, whereas I’m weird about fish, so this is the first time in my life I’ve ever fried any. Don’t tell her I said so, but mine tasted better than hers. 🙂 I tried harder to get good coverage with the breadcrumbs, and they tasted absolutely perfect with chips and mushy peas.

I have one of those ‘grinding’ sea-salt cellars, which I bought in Aldi’s ages ago. I thought it would have to be disposed of after the salt was used up, but to my surprise, I was able to unscrew the top and refill it. I’m quite possessive about it, and when it was empty, wouldn’t let anybody dispose of it on my behalf. I’m sure I filled it up with salt again purely to stop people throwing it out anyway. Which they would have done eventually. So.

I put salt on my plate of food in the kitchen so my mother doesn’t have to watch me having something I can have but she can’t. Meanwhile I feel sure she reaches for a little cat-shaped salt cellar that sits smirking nearby… never when I’m looking, of course! We have become a shifty-eyed household who only salts food when nobody’s looking. Don’t tell anybody.

I don’t know why the song ‘Never on a Sunday’ (by Nana Mouskouri) has been in my head all day.

It was a lovely sunny day and quite mild, but my sister said the weather is forecast to become very cold again in a day or two.

“Ice, and that sort of thing, you mean?”

“Yep.”

Oh boy. According to the TV, we have Canada to blame. All of their frosty weather and chilliness is billowing ominously in this direction, if not already here. The sky was a funny colour tonight.

There was a short, quiet period after lunch when my mother was having a nap, and I felt sure somebody had come into the house. A door opened softly, and a shadow crossed the pool of sunlight at the back of the house. I didn’t move… just watched quietly, but the shadows seemed formless and flickering. What where they… the leaves of trees facing the street?

Then I noticed Samson (one of my cats) staring fixedly out towards the front door.

I got up and went softly out into the hall… if someone was lurking outside the house, I didn’t know if I wanted to draw their attention. Somehow I didn’t suspect a burglar, though there are reports of a sneak thief in the locality, and we are all supposed to keep our doors locked.

There was a bouquet of yellow roses which hadn’t been there before… also a carton of fresh Cullen Skink soup.

The roses were obviously for my mother, who frightened all her friends with her illness, but I didn’t know who had brought them. For no particular reason, I searched online to find out what yellow roses mean… they stand for joy, happiness, and true friendship.

When she got up at teatime, I showed her the carton of Cullen Skink soup… and waited.

A cloud crossed her face. “I don’t like Cullen Skink soup.”

“Not my thing, either,” I said.

I’m weird about fish, remember. My sister is vegetarian, so as a family we’re a bit stuck about what to do with it. Don’t get me wrong… it was a nice surprise, and kind. There is no good reason why any of us should be funny about fish soup… it’s sheer bad luck.

Posted in Videos

Invigorated by YouTube

For so many years I mostly ignored YouTube. I hated the name, which sounded rude! I would check out music or a Simon’s Cat animation, but mostly internet videos were an irritation. I hate going onto a news page and finding it slowed down with embedded video clips that take up space and don’t even have captions, and you have to carefully scroll past the wretched things in the hope of finding actual text… a commodity that becomes rarer and rarer, especially in the news world. When friends post video links, even to Simon’s Cat, I follow with great reluctance. From past experience I know I would enjoy the video, yet am still reluctant to be drawn in.

Then I realized I can follow videos (to a limited degree) provided they have automatic captions. I gain access to things I would otherwise have no access to at all, such as some radio shows. Unfortunately, BBC trailers on YouTube never seem to have captions. Somebody consciously removed autocaptions and hasn’t replaced them with edited ones? Oh well, I won’t watch them.

The majority of videos on YouTube have autocaptions, however, and I’m grateful, even though they are garbled in places. You find yourself mentally changing words or glueing a selection of them together to transform into the word that’s intended. Breakfast means Brexit. Barney means Barnier. Mr Young Kerr is Mr Juncker. Jumani chairs might have been Jean Monnet chairs. Large Parrot is Nigel Farage. I will have to look for other examples. What does ‘rather eat a mockery knee’ mean? (Approximately 38.20 mark on LBC’s EU Army video).

I don’t just watch political videos… I was surprised to discover how therapeutic some of the other offerings are, with repeated mantras and soothing delivery. Seeing someone sitting down and looking you in the eye; their humorous expressions, quiet confidence and polite acceptance of you (though of course they can’t see you)… it has an amazing effect.

Up till now, articles and blog posts are all I’ve ever looked at. I enjoy those that take you on a journey of some kind, even if a bit rambling sometimes. I hate shallow, repetitive ‘sound-bite’ dribbets that don’t tell you what you really want to know. Instead they repeat bare facts you might be having doubts about… people parroting each other without appearing to question the information. You think “but is that really true? How do they know?” and search for something more. It’s frustrating when nobody really goes into it… you wish they would look deeper, or wider (at different situations). Like when you want advice how to repair a friendship and instead keep finding stuff about married couples when that’s not the dynamic you were interested in. It almost makes you question your own validity… like “I’m not the important person here; I’m not married… none of my issues are relevant.” That’s not a good example, as there’s actually plenty of stuff that addresses platonic friendships, but you get the drift.

Then I ‘discovered’ YouTube videos; or, should I say, discovered I can make much more use of them than I realized, provided they have captions.

Videos can be short or long; they can amuse, tell you something you never read anywhere else, or merely repeat the same tired points and — guiltily — you find your attention wandering. Sometimes you watch to the bitter end while distracting yourself scanning the comments underneath, but other times you realize it really wasn’t what you were looking for, so you move on. Small blame to the speaker, whose video will make all the difference to somebody, somewhere; no doubt setting that person on a new voyage of discovery.

Last night I felt anxiety like a growing block of ice that threatened to keep me from sleeping, so lulled myself with watching YouTube videos. It worked amazingly well. The speaker in question was a great story-teller, and when she recounted a dialogue I could really empathize with, complete with expressions of remembered shock and confusion, I found myself weeping with laughter. My mother was sleeping in another room so I was trying to keep it quiet, but became so hysterical I had to muffle myself with handfuls of cloth.

I don’t know if I would have reacted that way if I’d read the relayed conversation in an article. I might had chuckled to myself, even laughed out loud, and probably nodded a lot as though to say, “yeah, I know that feeling!” but I’m not sure I would have had the uproarious reaction that I did.

Unnerving but therapeutic. “Wow, I’m not the only one who feels at times as though nothing makes any sense! And all the time, it was because of something going on with the other person.”

The anxiety in my chest suddenly melted, washed away in a surge of positive emotion. After that I was able to sleep, waking in good humour. Several hours later, I’m still feeling shaky but relieved. The video was expressive in a completely different way from written articles. It was not just the message that came across in bold technicolour, but the person herself.

Nevertheless… the underlying reasons for my current bout of anxiety are still there, and I’ve not yet done anything with those. I must try, over and over, if that’s what it takes. Only then can I sleep properly, though these videos are a good reminder that you’re not alone and other people have similar experiences.

This morning I found myself watching something I thought tremendously relevant on all kinds of levels….

What Happens With Unprocessed Emotions by Richard Grannon

It turns into something you don’t entirely expect, but speaks a lot of truth. If videos were always predictable, we would soon give up watching… a tip for YouTube in their quest to keep our eyeballs in thrall. Not that Richard Grannon was really endorsing our addiction to social media.

It is true… I’ve been sucked into this alternative reality — this other place that feeds on itself and grows and becomes more real with every passing moment. Even after watching the video I’ve just linked to, you absolutely know you’re going to check your news feed, write a blog post, and occasionally check your emails, then maybe try another video. You are not stopped by the realization that it’s unhealthy and you’re only frittering away your time because you can’t be bothered to think or do anything else, partly because you do get things from it that you wouldn’t find in your own environment… and you meet people you would never have talked to normally.

Oh… as Richard says, that’s not necessarily a good thing, especially if you have a picture in your head of a person, and that person is very different in real life. Which can be good, because maybe you wouldn’t have known how decent, kind, intelligent or witty that person was if going by visual impressions. Then again, you do get caught out the other way as well, so we really need to take our time getting to know people, both online and in the real world.

Richard made a real case for not distracting ourselves from the way we feel. Ultimately, we need to put our devices aside and get to the bottom of why we feel the way we do, and what we can do to improve ourselves and our lives.

Talking of anxiety, I could feel it mounting again when I read this news article by The Guardian: Stares, Glares, and Internet Dating: The Harsh Reality of Life with a Disability. It was the bit about managing life as a deaf person. Things get worse instead of better… it’s as though people (government agencies, public services, businesses and organizations) have less and less time and space to worry about you, even while expectations increase, pressure mounts, queues lengthen and people are summarily punished for not conforming as expected. I could tell you stories of my own about the difficulties of getting through and making my concerns heard, but I don’t really want to at this point in time. I’d rather forget…

Posted in Christmas and New Year, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Lost in Thought

Across the Universes

imageMy Christmas tree has turned itself off. Since this is the modern age and the consumer has to do what she is told, the transformer uses a timer setting you can’t change or override, which usually means it turns itself off during Christmas Dinner.

I tried to be elegant by restricting the decoration to a scheme of deep blue, silver and white baubles, but the baubles don’t even match… different sizes, different shades… it looked uneven, like a water-stained ballgown. So I threw the rest of the box of baubles at it… all colours, all styles. Didn’t matter. I don’t think there’s a single bare twig now, but it looks livelier, sparklier and less like I tried to do something and failed. The red baubles in particular seem to bring focus, unless it’s just that they’re distracting you from the rest of the chaos.

What I take from that is that things you throw together can succeed better than something intricately planned. There’s far more energy and joie de vivre when everything’s included, not just the specially chosen. Chaos and order…. you’re merely a part of it, repeating the experiences of generations upon generations of others in your own unique way. You retell the human story.

In your own life you get to ‘do over’ a lot, though occasionally you have to accept the loss of something that plummets from the tree… such as a friendship fragmenting into a thousand glass shards. You may wish it had turned out differently, but that particular bauble has now gone.

Now and then, however, the bauble disappears into shadow and you search around cautiously, trying to find it without cutting yourself. A little while goes by before it finally comes to light, amazingly still intact.

Some baubles break, others go missing for a while but survive. At times you aren’t sure which, and have to step carefully.

Friends are precious, even irreplaceable, but they are also fragile.

I expect you are sitting at the other side of the screen, frowning at my chaotic ramblings. You likely have a mug or glass at your side. I don’t know what you’re drinking… coffee or tea, or maybe hot chocolate, or beer or water. Or Bovril. Chicken Bovril is nice… I like that.

Probably you’re wondering why you’re reading this… you could be doing something nicer, such as weather-stripping the house, leaf-blowing the snow or cleaning the drains. It’d be more useful, but doubtless you’re the efficient sort who has done all that already. So you’re stuck.

I wonder where you live? Maybe New York in an apartment high up, and the lights sparkling all over the city? Or a cottage on thunderous dramatic moors, with a sluggish internet connection? Or across the road from me, even? Can you see me waving out the window? No, well, that’s all right. I wasn’t waving… my curtains are closely drawn.

So many things to do. I get confused and find myself standing still, looking over my shoulder…

…oh yes, I meant to change my wall calendar to December before it’s too late and the whole month blows over. What IS that, exactly? A warrior hobbit? I wish I could flip back to October, to that nice angry dragon. I could, really, but that would be cheating, and I won’t have got full use of the calendar. I don’t know why I got it — I never write anything in it.

Kind of like my blog.

I’m getting the dĂ©jĂ  vu sensation an awful lot lately. I keep thinking I’ve read things before. I even feel I have written things before. Have I already written this blog post, word for word, and posted it maybe nine years ago? Bits of it, then? Or perhaps I’m catching glimpses into a closely parallel universe where I’ve done all this stuff alrea… but that is such a depressing thought I shied away from it. It’s bad enough to have done all this once, but twice…?

Do you remember reading any of this before; does any of it ring any bells? No, not this bit, but I have a funny feeling about my drawn curtains. Perhaps they’re the portal. Close them, shutting out the real world, and in swims the fantasy world… sorry, the parallel universe. That’s just the real world twice over, so it’s no wonder I hate the idea!

In this chaotic universe, anything can happen.

If that’s true, then perhaps it’s not a parallel universe, but a repeating one. We are doomed to retrace our steps over and over till we get them right. Don’t you get the feeling that most of the time absolutely nothing changes, and we just make the same mistakes over and over and over? Every so often someone thinks a little deeper or sees something a smidgeon of a different way and improves everything just a fraction. Even if it’s an incremental change by one person, it could have a remarkable effect on everyone else, like lights going on all over… and suddenly the latest round of existence is a whole lot better than the one before. And so it goes.

This has been difficult to write. For the past little while I’ve wanted to… no, it doesn’t feel like a ‘want’, it feels more like a ‘very much not want’, like I don’t even want to be here. I’d rather go back into space and be a simple star again, spinning a little, perhaps, whistling a happy tune, burning up any asteroids that wander too near. Who decided I should sit on this earth with an increasingly labouring heart, to blog, question why and… and edit?

Sometimes there’s good stuff, like… cats when they’re sleepy and purry and not killing things. Bears when they’re sleepy and furry and don’t have a headache. Family when you discover how to get along and aren’t torturing each other.

It’s a chaotic world, though, at least to our limited senses. You get both the nice and the nasty together, like the soothing sun on one level and icy deeps on the other. The velvety blue with hornets or jellyfish hanging in it. The yin and the yang and the sweet and the sour… you never know which it will be; can change so suddenly.

Or simply end.

And, after a long pause, like a bonus song, start up again when you weren’t listening any more, and go on for what seems like forever.

Posted in Lost in Thought

The Point of a Grudge

WordPress continues to suggest possible blog topics (I enjoy this!) Some look interesting; others I’ve done already; yet others make my toes curl in horror! The latest one was, “What’s the longest grudge you’ve ever held? How long do you stay angry at someone or something? Why do you think we hold our grudges?”

I don’t want to describe any of my actual grudges, but I had a thought that although we eagerly forgive and move on, forgetting is quite another thing. We are taught that it’s a good thing to ‘forgive and forget’, and maybe most of the time we do, but some things are burned in our memories and continue to shape our lives.

In a somewhat less than Pollyannaish way, we may be mistaken about how negatively we were impacted by something. If we were done out of a job or promotion that we really wanted, our loss might have led to a better path in life, or to our meeting someone we otherwise wouldn’t have met. But to us the original sin remains… it was an an injustice, and will be remembered as such.

We may bear a grudge against someone without realising how much he/she has been hurt by us in turn. We don’t know everything that goes on in other people’s minds, so sometimes all we remember is our own pain.

In The Full Cupboard of Life (from the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels by Alexander McCall Smith), Mma Ramotswe said she believed in forgiveness. “Why, she asked herself, why keep a wound open when forgiveness can close it?”

Though I remember being confused by the way Mma Ramotswe approaches forgiveness… She forgives people and moves on, but cuts them out of her life. That’s something I can’t square with my notion of forgiveness. Perhaps it’s just another way of saying “I forgive but I never forget.”

I meant to say there are REASONS why we remember — we must try to avoid similar experiences in the future. We were always told pain has a reason… to stop us doing something damaging like putting our hand in the fire.

Most grudges should not be allowed to affect future relations, except where they safeguard us from future harm… they do have their uses. But we should not be TOO self-protective… if we remove people from our email lists for every slight — real or imagined — none of us would have any friends.

Mum says, “life is too short… the only acceptable reason one could have to end a friendship is boredom.” With our Grudgometers alive and ticking, I don’t think any of us will ever be bored. 🙂

Posted in Computer Graphics, Health Issues, Life and Family

Friday Hair Blogging

We both have colds… Mum had to cancel her flu jab. I told her next year she should make sure of having the flu jab before she starts playing Bridge! The nurse says her chest sounds like an organ. I’m not like that but I feel funny around the middle… sort of cold.

So, keep away…..

Just now we were watching The Coach Trip (one of their eternal repeats) and a couple of men said (rather sadly) that they are good at annoying people without meaning to. “Yes,” confirmed one of them; “it’s very easy, really.”

“Actually,” I said to Mum, “it IS easy to annoy people. It’s as though they think they can pick and choose their friends, and that there will always be new ones along. Not like in the old village communities!”
“There, people picked their enemies and stayed with them,” said Mum.

One of the boys on The Coach Trip was saying how he rather hated two of the girls, but instead of making up with them, he continued to keep his distance as it was easier just to make up his mind and stick with it. I wonder if it’s important for human beings to be able to say “I really don’t like so-and-so,” as a matter of pride. It seems to be a way of expressing your identity, particularly if a whole group of people decide that So-and-So really isn’t cool.

I keep musing about friendships, don’t I!

Anyway, to explain the title of this blog post, I came here to apologize for being so quiet, and to show you one of the reasons I have been ‘away’… trying to draw hair and fur in Photoshop! It’s not easy. It sounds easy when you know how, but all of the time you’re working on it, it looks terrible, till suddenly (after several minutes of slaving) it begins to look possible. And you have an unsettling feeling that it could easily go bad, or not be a success at all. Maybe it will be a bad hair day!

PS: The Pom-Pom was the most aggravating to make. And WordPress crunched my last hair picture when uploading… Now it looks duller than it was. I hate having things forced on me… like with the double-glazing regulations!! But that’s another story.

Experimental hair drawing
Colourful Pom Pom made in Photoshop
Hairy Heart made in Photoshop
Mousy hair drawn in Photoshop
Posted in Lost in Thought

The Passing of a Kind Person

On one of my sites there came the news that a long term member had died. She was around and posting very recently, so it was a shock to most of us. People who had been at loggerheads were writing in and saying how upset they were.

I am sad that D has gone. I’m sad for her children. I’m sad that I didn’t know more about her — I didn’t even know she was ill. Someone said D had been working through a list of people she’d had differences with. There was only one person left on the list, and though they weren’t reconciled, they were discussing it… and now the chance was gone and he was sorry. He wanted us to be honest and kind to each other in our postings and thoughts, and not shut people out. He said that we should bear in mind that the person we’re cold-shouldering today could be dead tomorrow, and it will be too late.

I had been thinking about that a lot recently. I’d woken around 5 that very morning (before hearing about D), and couldn’t get back to sleep. I was worrying about people miscommunicating and kicking each other to the kerb over minor things.

D was brave to tackle these difficult issues. If you worry about getting a bad response from someone, it seems easier to remain silent. Even if you know you won’t be around very much longer, people still have the power to cause hurt.

I think that guy’s right, and Mum keeps saying to me (whenever similar issues come up), “life is too short.” I can’t imagine her falling out forever with her best friends — they each have a core of stability, and you know that even if they get annoyed with each other sometimes, the channels of communication will remain open. And that’s how it should be.

Posted in Lost in Thought, Political and Social Issues

Sympathy and Snoopery

I enjoyed Andrea’s blog post You just don’t get it. I seem to respond that way to people’s stories… recently a friend was talking about a parent who died, and so I talked about my parent who died. I remembered the darkness of those days and could share that with her, even though I didn’t know her father. In any case, it seemed better to express myself as “I’m with you” rather than “I’m looking at you from a distance and I’m sorry for you.”

My friend (who has always been chatty) seemed OK with it, but not everyone would want such a response, perhaps.

I realize (from reading around) that people sometimes wonder why a friend always brings the conversation back to him/herself. In some cases that friend is more interested in talking than listening, but in other cases that friend has listened and is using this method to say “I’ve been in your boat and have felt that same muddy water swirling round my ankles. You’re not alone.”

Sometimes I have a problem not unrelated; if I’m telling someone about my day, I’m happy if they reciprocate and tell me about theirs. I feel awkward sometimes about saying “well, what about you?” in case they don’t really want to discuss it. Someone I know gets irritated when one of her friends starts a phonecall with “well, did you have a nice day? Why not? What went wrong?” Her reaction is “I only want to tell you about it if I decide that myself.”

I like to be told about friends’ experiences… but I don’t want to come across as nosy or irritating, so I tell my own stories. Some of my friends seem to understand that my story is just half of the exchange, but others haven’t a clue about it. Some even take it as a request for advice, which can be infuriating!

Just a few days ago, I was reading Intensity by Dean Koontz. In the first few pages are two close friends (female students) chatting, and when one asked a personal question, the other laughingly called it ‘snoopery’. The first friend said she was dodging the question, and the second friend finally answered. I found myself thinking that the first friend, by insisting on a reply, had more courage than I have these days, but then I used to have that kind of friendship with Honey… I would say we were more like sisters, only I don’t know how many sisters have a relationship so relaxed.

It left me wondering what friendship means; if it means different things to different people; how much we are allowed to ask questions or be involved in another person’s life, and which questions we are allowed to ask? If email is seen as a ‘non’ way to talk, just as internet friends aren’t viewed as real? And why one person might be quite secretive about nothing at all, and another person is open about all sorts of things.

I suppose I’ve wandered away from the starting topic, but I enjoyed Andrea’s post because she put into words this thing… how people try to connect in different ways, and don’t always recognize those differences.