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

Today I Wondered

Why has she started waking me twice before even leaving the room?

Doesn’t he know if I *want* to wave at him, I *will* wave at him, and he doesn’t have to go to those lengths to make sure I see him waving?

Are Bramley apples always this strong a green? Are sugarsnap peas the same as mangetout? This packet says it has both, so I guess not.

Why do people not look round occasionally to make sure they’re not in the way? Somebody gets in your way at least once per aisle, and it’s always those two.

I can’t get used to these crazy lightbulbs… what should I use instead of the old 60 watt bayonet? Don’t they have anything other than halogen? Oh, LED… but what’s this LED filament thing?

Where did the rest of the lightbulb go? And what’s this wire…..??? Wait, I better not touch it till I get this lamp unplugged. These awful things are supposed to be safer than the old ones?? No, I don’t think they made that claim; just that they’re better for the planet.

Is that really all it cost him to buy us food? Seemed like it was more, but maybe not.

It’s funny how this 5-way power strip suddenly started working after he took over the house for the day. I didn’t tell him it was apparently dead.

Why do online newspapers want us to subscribe for free articles? It’s not a request any more; it’s a demand.

Do all WordPress bloggers use WordPress Reader? Do they have other ways of reading blogs they follow?

What’s the difference between facts and truth? Facts are like nuts and bolts, perhaps… miss out a few or hammer them into the wrong places, and the whole structure falls apart.

I wonder if they’re plotting something? Everybody else seems suspicious as well, though hopeful.

Why won’t the BBC caption their YouTube videos?

I like the fellow, but he doesn’t half go on, does he? I’m not sure I could watch all his videos from beginning to end, especially with captions in their current parlous state.

Do people get in trouble for re-uploading videos that YouTube apparently deleted? I grew up being told censorship is bad, and I still believe it.

Why are politicians rarely clear? On Gogglebox they were watching Theresa May’s Mansion House speech, and one viewer said it all goes straight over her head. I’m in a fog of confusion myself… people contradict themselves in the same speech, or someone else pops up and confidently contradicts them, only to be contradicted in turn, so you end up not being sure what they really aim to do.

Oh, I’m sad tonight… but I don’t wonder why.

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Posted in Life and Family

UK’s Icy Plight

“Aldi had plenty of bread and milk but no eggs. The shelves were bare of milk at Asda, sparse on bread but plenty of eggs – who can fathom it?!”

– from friend in Yorkshire.

I had high hopes things were returning to normal, but when I got up and looked out of the window this morning, snow was drifting determinedly from the sky.

Ahh, noooo!

Drooped downstairs, and my mother mimed falling snow, if you can picture that!

Nevertheless, people are moving around again, and my sister came in from her icy fastness yesterday with a variety of things from the supermarkets. Everybody seems to be doing a supermarket crawl; traipsing from one outlet to the next. I notice when our tall neighbour calls with food, which he did again today, the items are from different shops.

The cats are getting used to him… they used to slide out the back the same second he came in at the front, but now they just hover beside the cat flap and blink patiently. ‘Just in case,’ you know. In the same spirit, the other neighbour put our bin out for collection. ‘Just in case’, he said, but the bin lorry never came.

I emptied the bag of groceries… fish ‘n’ chips, M&S style. Salad and my favourite Piccolino tomatoes. Cold meat, more bread (wow!) and a copy of the Scottish Sunday Express, screaming in particularly large type: “WINTER HELL TO LAST TWO MORE WEEKS”.

Ahh, noooo!

The ‘TWO’ is picked out in red ink, and in slightly smaller type, it goes on: “Scots told to brace themselves again for snow in aftermath of Beast from the East.”

Reading the article, I get a picture of things being cold and wet, some more snow ahead, and likely floods when the snow melts. Some shops are still frantically putting things out on shelves only to have them snatched up by hungry customers… but on the whole things shouldn’t be as bad as they have been, floods aside.

We’re better off than some. Our house hasn’t been buried, or our front door blocked by a wall of snow, and our boiler got its breakdown over with earlier this February. I don’t think there’s a single thing we’re out of, though I finished my cucumber at the start of the storm and had to do without till yesterday! We also ran out of mayonnaise… It’s not so much the ‘doing without’ as the feeling that you are not free to have just what you want when you want. It’s still a land of plenty, but availability is uncertain, so don’t waste what you have.

As I said in the comments to my last post, my sister brought a luxurious Tiramasu cake yesterday. It was strange to be eating cake when folk have been struggling to obtain more basic supplies.

A couple of pages into the Express is the headline, “Finns are amused by UK’s icy plight.”

Well, I’m not surprised…

The paper also mentions a tweet by transport minister Humza Yousaf, who said communities have come together to clear their neighbourhoods of snow, and this weather has brought out the best in people. Our neighbours are great, but a friend is having issues with one of hers. She said they shovelled the pavement but stopped just as they got to her gate! They missed an opportunity to extend an olive branch, it seems. However… there’s plenty positive that’s going on, and we don’t need to focus on the determinedly negative.

A notification has just this minute popped up from The Independent. It says: “Seed vaults protect the world against the apocalypse — but what if doomsday is already here?

Ahh, noooo……

Posted in Cooking, Injury and Mishap, Life and Family

A Few Changes

Yesterday when my sister came for coffee, my mother made a few suggestions for change.

The soda bread (all the way from Ireland) isn’t right. The only one that will do is the big round one from the cheese shop in town. More urgently, Fairy washing powder simply won’t do. I washed her clothes with it, and she leapt up in the middle of the night to change. She couldn’t stand the airy aroma, so my sister must bring the washing powder she prefers.

I will carry on with Fairy myself, as I like the fresh scent, but must redo my mother’s washing. Meant to wash her bed sheets yesterday but am absolutely not allowed to touch them till the Persil arrives.

Well, I washed the bath mat instead. A single day can’t be allowed to go by without washing something, otherwise you feel you’re falling behind. I decided Fairy would be OK for bath mat, as it’s nowhere near your nose unless you slip and fall… and bath mats are good at stopping you from doing that.

It’s good, though, to be told off and asked for things — food especially. The worst is when she’s so tired or ill that she just doesn’t care.

I’m beginning to feel my life revolves around supper… “When should I start making tonight’s? What are we having tomorrow? Do we have all the ingredients we need? Is there anything I need to defrost? Are there enough clean bowls for the soup, or do I need to put the dishwasher on now?”

I also spend a lot of time worrying what the food contains. There were three or four different cartons of breadcrumbs in the supermarket, and I picked the one with the lowest amount of salt — criteria I wouldn’t have employed just six weeks ago. Did you know commercial breadcrumbs only last about six to nine months? The carton I bought the other day is stamped ‘Best Before Sept 2018’. I checked the others on the shelf and they said the same. That’s a lot of dipping we must do!

In the supermarket a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a tiny tub of dessert (previously a favourite of my mother’s). Checked the salt content and thought, “You’re kidding!” Only realized I’d said it out loud when someone standing near me swung round and looked over.

Anyhow we’re no longer buying that particular product, and, just to be on the safe side, I threw away the old crumbs to replace with new.

Crumbs? Trivia, I know…

Over a year ago there was another change, small but significant. I grew up using a straight potato peeler and never thought anything of it. Around Christmas 2016 our old one broke, so I was using a strange black one a lot over one period of a few days. I realized it was cutting into my skin because of its poor design. There was too long a gap between the sharp bit and the handle, so I was gripping the metal above the handle and below the blade… sort of…

I hate plasters on my fingers, so decided I had to buy a new peeler. As I couldn’t leave the house, I was ordering food from Tesco, to be brought by home delivery, so added a straight peeler to the order. I marked a lot of food ‘don’t swap’, but it didn’t cross my mind to do the same with the utensil. When the goodies arrived, I was surprised to be presented with a Y peeler!

Hrmm.

I’d never used this Y peeler design before, and was both intimidated and intrigued. My mother would probably have sent it straight back, but after reading up on it on the internet, I wanted to give it a go. Typically I handle it gingerly, as though it might bite (which it definitely could), but I love it. It’s particularly good on long, thin vegetables like carrots, parsnips and cucumbers. I just set the vegetable on end and spin it round, then flip it to do the other end.

Like with my sea-salt grinder, I’m possessive… in theory it’s there for everyone to use, but I think of it as mine. I wash it by hand, then carefully dry the blade by pushing the dishtowel into the corners. I never stroke the towel along the blade… just press gently. I’ve had no accidents with it since I bought it… fingers crossed that’s how it will stay!

I never used to baby the old peelers that way.

There have been a lot of changes lately, both big and small. The above-mentioned are only a few, with some corrections back to baseline by Mum — but only some! 😈

Posted in Health Issues, Life and Family

Nearly Time for Tea

Your mother on a low sodium diet:

“I do need a little salt on things, otherwise I won’t eat them.”

“I don’t like Greek Philadelphia… too sharp for me. Prefer the usual Philadelphia.”

(When sister was waving a bag of dried banana chips): “I’m *tired* of things that are good for me.”

Only Earl Grey will do… Lady Grey is ‘too orangey’. Well, my sister’s not fond of it either, and I’ve never gone for any of these spicy teas, so that’s understandable. I would be peeved if I wanted PG Tips, Typhoo, Assam, Darjeeling or ‘Breakfast Tea’, only for somebody to bring me Earl Grey instead. To be fair, nobody turned up with Lady Grey tea; it was already in the cupboard and I asked why she was ignoring that and asking for a new box of Earl Grey.

We aren’t eating salad dressings, but I’ve never liked sharply flavoured dressings on salads, whereas I’m more likely than the others to take something with sharp lemon or lime in it, so long as it’s recognizably lemon or lime. As for Greek yoghurt… love it! Mum doesn’t like yoghurt at all.

We’ve had a run of bad luck over the past three days. I won’t recount everything that’s gone wrong, but my parsnip soup wasn’t good (the leek soup much better); a glass broke in the dishwasher before it had even done a wash; everybody seemed to be coming to the house on the same day and I was running from room to room tidying just when I thought I could sit down with a coffee.

I wrote to a friend, saying I hoped she was OK, as she had been quiet for a week. She said she never even got my last email! She was wondering why I wasn’t answering her, while I wondered why she wasn’t answering me. My last email to her had disappeared en route.

Then last night the central heating conked out, and we had a really sharp frost. I was shocked how cold it was when I got up at 7 this morning… brr! Jumped straight into nearest sweater (pretty snowflake-patterned one from Norway).

Thankfully the heating’s fixed now. We had an explanation about the pressure in the boiler having dropped away to nothing, and they poured more water in. I wondered if that was something we could do ourselves, but my mother said no, she hasn’t a clue about boilers. I wasn’t planning to send her to the back of the cubby-hole to repressurize it for us…

However, I’m uneasy at the thought of central heating that gets knocked out just because the pressure ‘drops off’… like it’s something that could happen repeatedly, just on the coldest night of the year.

At least the sun is shining today, and my thoughts are turning to spring. Fingers crossed things will be good from now on! There’s a chicken to roast and tea to drink… both PG Tips and Earl Grey.

Posted in Blogging, Computer Graphics

Season of Fruitlessness

I’m more ‘creative’ (Photoshop, Bryce 3D etc) when it’s summer and the days are brighter and warmer. In winter I spend less time in such projects… and it’s happening again now. Halloween is not all that far off… the days are cold and rainy, and my room is chilly and dark. It is driving me back downstairs to read a book!

People are affected differently by the seasons, but perhaps I would feel more creative at this time of year if we were living in a hot country or a brighter, warmer house.

I’m in more of a ‘blogging’ frame of mind than I’ve been all year, though. I suspect other interests have shifted, leaving more room for that. I’ve been looking around  and reading more; wondering more about other bloggers. I doubt if I will be here every day, especially if I’m so cold that I’ve taken refuge downstairs… but I have more appetite for it.

Sometimes I miss being a kid… I used to feel there was no limit to what you could do or write about. To think of something was to write, and I didn’t worry about originality as such… if it came from me and wasn’t a repeat of something I remembered reading or hearing somewhere else, then it was original. I wasn’t stupid — I realized that true originality is rare… ideas are derivative and people often think the same thoughts independently. But the world seemed big enough and diverse enough to bear it.

The reason I miss my naivety is that my world seems to have shrunk… I have fewer options and less faith that I will write about the right things in the right way. I’m no longer some carefree child leaping off the plank at the deep end, sure that I will swim, and swim well.

I wonder if the internet has added to this over-flowing cup? My pictures are the same as everybody else’s, and there is nothing new under the sun. Some articles, discussions and reviews are repeated word-for-word on different sites, and it doesn’t matter how hard you try at something, there’s always someone else who does it better.

Anyway, when the weather takes a nose-dive, so does my mood. Perhaps switching off and reading a book is not such a bad idea!

Posted in Rants

A Few More Grumbles

Ah, remembered some of my other niggles.

(1) shop price tags
You know…? When you look to see how much something is, and the price isn’t anywhere to be seen (so I usually don’t buy them). Or, worse, when something is sitting in the wrong place so that you think it is such and such a price, but it’s had the wrong label nearby. Or those price stickies that have the ‘amount of money saved’ in much bigger text than the amount being asked (have to admit I haven’t seen any of those very recently).

Even more confusing are the supermarket labels that say “money off certain product lines” so that you will get money off a 200g tin of beans but not a 400g tin of beans by the same people… you have to pay great attention to the small print. Or you’ll get money off the Grumbling Girl ‘silver line’ beans, but not the Grumbling Girl ‘golden line’ beans… and sometimes you can’t see what on earth the price tag is referring to, because all you see are Grumbling Girl beans, and no mention on the labels of whether they’re silver line or golden line!

(2) tight book shelves
I have a problem with those bookshops where, when you try to slide a book out for a look, it’s wedged in tightly. (In our town the main offender is a charity bookshop). If you’re holding a lot of bags in your other hand, you have to put them down and try again with both hands! Actually if I was only browsing, and am only vaguely interested in the look of a book, I’m liable to stop trying to get it out, and I’ll move on.

Actually it’s not surprising it happens in that particular shop, because they seem to have three or four volunteers! They’re constantly on the go, coming out of the back room with books in their hands, looking for spaces to squeeze them into. If you buy something, they’ll soon plug the so-called gap with another book (or three).

(3) loose books and toppling displays
On the other end of the stratum are the books which are so loosely balanced that they all topple over heavily (or threaten to crash off the end of the shelf) when you try to look at one (this is usually the case with children’s books). Or any sort of display which is too easy to disrupt… such as videos or boxes of jigsaws, all set in a row on their ends, facing outwards. If you take one, you’ll knock over the neighbour, leading to a cascade!

Sometimes I’ve picked up something I’ve nearly knocked over, and replaced it in a safer position, only to find it back and teeering dangerously the next time I visit the shop.

(4) shop displays in general
That goes for racks, baskets and other things that get in your way or make you have to squeeze through a gap. It also goes for advertising boards set out on the pavement and getting in the way of busy shoppers. I’ve seen them cause pavement traffic jams!

(5) ‘missed hospital appointments’ furore
Missed hospital appointments cost money? How? Isn’t this real life? Everybody costs everybody else time and money. And it’s apparently ‘unforgiveable’ to miss an appointment and not phone up to explain we can’t come? Considering we’re talking about people who aren’t well, who may be distressed; some of whom have problems with memory, understanding, mobility, funds (for parking or transport) or communication, the word ‘unforgiveable’ seems to me completely wrong-headed.

Hopefully that’s all the bad air cleared. Now for the blog post I meant to write first thing this morning!! (Perhaps I’ll have some tea first).

Posted in Rants, Technology and Software

A Few Grumbles

(Two days later)… c’mon, surely my Bryce picture wasn’t that bad! We struggling artists need encouragement. I sent some photos I was quite proud of to a friend, and after a week’s silence (and a cautious prod) he said “oh… they’re fine.”

On the subject of grumbles and moans, here are a few more:

(1) When you tear tissues in half, you have to tear with the grain so that they don’t break off in bits. That’s fine, but different tissue manufacturers fold their tissues different ways, so that a tissue from Manufacturer A tears across the fold, and a tissue from Manufacturer B tears along the fold, and you’re never sure what it’s going to be. Somehow I always tear the wrong way…

(I always promised myself I wouldn’t complain about that as it’s so trivial, and I wouldn’t actually demand that all tissue manufacturers standardize, but… rrr! It can be aggravating).

(2) Handwash pump-action spouts that don’t work. (The one we bought in Aldi’s said “turn anti-clockwise to release pump”. I did as suggested, and the whole thing turned round and round and nothing happened. I took it out of the bottle and washed it so I could secure each end, but no luck. I will just pour the soap into the previous Radox bottle. I don’t think they should even bother manufacturing spouts for those other bottles… they should put that they’re refills only!)

(3) My Mac is so sluggish and slow. Sometimes I highlight a word and it gets stuck halfway through, or nothing happens at all for about 5 seconds. It takes Firefox an age to launch. WordPress is extremely sluggish too, in the editor… it would drive me mad to have to compose posts there, so I’m glad I’ve got ScribeFire.

(4) Mum and I went for a small meal in a coffee shop, and the flies came along and kept trying to sit on our food while we were eating it. We swished at them, and they just buzzed right back, so that we were flapping like windmills even while we ate. Flies these days don’t have the manners they used to…

I thought I had more, but that’s all I can remember for now! Next blog post coming up soon (and not about grumbles).

Posted in My Cats, Rants, Technology and Software

Exasperated

Feeling annoyed about several things…

  • How can some folk treat you like you don’t count? I wonder if they would feel the same if they saw others treat someone they cared about that way?
  • How people have nothing good to say about someone, and when she dies, suddenly she’s an angel with the strength and grit of 10,000, and the world will never see her like again?
  • How everyone’s ridiculously overworked, and not even doing anything particularly rewarding, and then we end life wondering what it was all about?
  • How just running a home is considered of no value compared to gumming up the public transport system every morning and every evening.
  • How some people are determined to be accorded more respect than others, even when it’s a waste of other people’s time and energy.
  • How charity shops are overcharging for things (muddy shopping trolley that somebody spilled something inside…. £8.50? A tiny handbag that still contains a sanitary towel and a shopping list for toilet rolls… £5.50? Dinky little jewellery cases with so much padding that there’s no room for most people’s jewellery collections – anything from £6 to £13?)
  • How people stroll into a shop and don’t give you room to leave it first – do they think there’ll be plenty of room inside with you still trapped in there by them?
  • How set top boxes, DVD players and VCRs operate together in such an incredible muddle that they don’t always do what you expect (much too complicated) and sometimes your set top box refuses to work at all when it was working perfectly well this morning. As a result, you miss Tenko, which you haven’t seen properly (with subtitles) for over 15 years.
  • How things like kettles and juicers are sometimes made in such a shoddy fashion that they fly apart and injure people, and you worry in case it happens to you – but when you’re shopping, all the kettles and juicers look as shoddy as each other and you get the feeling it won’t make much difference which you choose.
  • How people cheat, use small print, try to mislead you about what you’re buying, and don’t tell you the full price of their products.
  • How DVDs force you to watch bits you don’t want to watch (by not letting you speed over them), and when you try to speed over something you’re allowed to speed over, it takes you straight into the middle of the film.
  • How there are too many remote controls with too many buttons using too many different symbols in too many different places, and your brain starts to give up so that most of the time, even months after buying these things, you’re just dabbing all the buttons hopefully, trying to get things to do what you want.
  • How some DVDs are so badly designed you start the film before you’ve even been given a chance to set the subtitles, and it’s not very clear that an X in the box next to subtitles means “I don’t want this” when you think it’s a check in the box for “I DO want this” and you have to go back and do it all over again when the subtitles fail to materialize. And finally when you succeed in putting the subtitles on, the DVD takes you right back to the spot you first discovered they weren’t running, when what you WANT is to go back to the beginning to catch anything else you might have missed (and I’m not talking about the bit that says ’20th Century Fox’ or ‘Dreamworks’ or the trailers of other films).

Think I’ll get to bed now, and let the Invisible Sulk roam unchecked… he might even get on this blog to you, you never know. I hope not.

Posted in Books, Life and Family, Music I Like, My Cats, Notepad Conversations, Pet-Minding, TV and Films

You Are So Beautiful…

A guiding light that shines in the night
Heaven’s gift to me
You are so beautiful to me

It’s been in my head the past couple of days.

Sharky wasn’t improving as rapidly as we hoped and we took him back to the vet. He was kept overnight on a drip and returned to me today… along with renal cat kibble and tablets.

He seems brighter – his eyes have cleared.

There was black ice today; looks like tomorrow will be the same. At least it’s not raining any more. The rain yesterday did excuse me from walking Thundercloud, which I was grateful for. I felt shell-shocked about Sharky, having just left him at the vet, and though I could have accepted a dog walk if the day had been bright, I couldn’t face one in the lashing sleet. I would have caught whatever Marianne got in Sense and Sensibility. A case of the fainting Willoughbies.

Last night there was nothing on TV so while Mum watched something, I was reading Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. In it was a chapter about someone very ill achieving her greatest wish. I’d been feeling numb up to that point, but that was just too much – and I hadn’t even finished the story. Mum was in the next chair and I didn’t want to get all teary and whimpery while she was there. Escaping quietly was a huge struggle. Upstairs I hid in my dark cubby hole and mopped my eyes, which just got wet again.

When I returned to the book and finished the chapter, there was a twist to the story that made me giggle – it wasn’t at all what I thought it was.

But I was so tired.

The next morning we received ‘more optimistic’ news from the vet over the phone, but I was still bushed and rather moody. We met my sister in a coffee shop in town, and (having struggled to find somewhere to put my shopping trolley) I whipped the conversational notebook out.

Me: This is ridiculous – there should be more room – you wonder what happened to the DDA.
Mum: The DDA?
Me: Disability Discrimination Act.

Pause while the girl came and served our coffee and hot chocolate.

Me: I think the only coffee I like now is mocha – everything else tastes like liquid sawdust.
Mum: You often drink liquid sawdust?
Me: Here and in Starbucks.
Mum: Is everything wrong this morning? Chilblains? Headache? Blue-tinted specs?
Me: Non-pink clothes and sickly 10-year-old cats. And horrible TV with the same shows over and over.
Mum: What’s that about pink clothes? You’ve lost me.
Me: I think something red was washed with them and turned them muddy.
Mum: Red with pink means pinker.
Me: Not rust red.
Mum: Big Sister says would we like a trip to Fuddyduddytown?
Me: I suppose – Fuddyduddytown is not my numero uno town. How can Thingy live there?
Mum: People get stuck in places. It’s not the worst. Remember Yobtown?
Me: Not really. When did we go there? I remember Thingyside Leisure Centre as being stuck in a bubble of stark. Probably because they wouldn’t let them build it anywhere nice (can’t blame them).
Mum: Yobtown had most of the shops at either end of the town boarded up. Graffiti everywhere.
Me (distracted): That dark photo of the poppy… it’s like a puddle of thick paint that my eyes have got stuck in. When I pull them away with a *squelch*, it leaves that pattern there.

You get the picture. I shouldn’t blog in this sort of humour.

Posted in Books, Rants

Women Through the Eyes of Male Writers

Something I’ve noticed is how some male authors get women completely wrong. Mostly their mistakes are in how women perceive themselves and what they look for in romantic relationships.

It usually takes you by surprise, because you don’t start a book thinking “I’m going to scrutinize every little thing he says about women and relationships.” You are just reading along, quite enjoying the story, and suddenly something in it feels so wrong that your teeth are set on edge.

Just for example, I’m reading a science fiction book – Orion by Ben Bova. It’s entertaining but I came to a screeching halt when I reached a passage where the hero warned the love of his life that there would be a lot of hard riding through hot and dusty regions over the next few weeks. She sleepily murmured that she was better padded for that than he was.

I beg your pardon?

To paraphrase: “oh, I have a bigger bottom than you, I’ll be alright.” I don’t know any female who would respond that way. Am I wrong? Do women say things like that? If they do, I can only imagine they were born on a different planet.