Posted in Lost in Thought

Anger and the Book Not Read

It can be a real problem, anger. It makes me angry just thinking how nice life could be if nobody got angry. Who decided we should get angry, and what’s the purpose of it?

You won’t get any answers to that here, because I hate being angry. My nice smooth life turns into one with rocks, clouds and anything else wet, dark or bumpy. I have unpleasant decisions to make and ruffled feelings to soothe. What is the real issue? Should I protest? Carry on breezily? Go silent?

I’m angry tonight, yet not furious. I’m not throwing things or firing off angry emails. I’m not stamping or slamming doors. On the floor beside my bed there’s a book on Mindfulness. I tried to read it a few weeks ago, and failed. Now here I am feeling angry about something, and I bet that book would have some tips. Like, perhaps, being responsible for my own emotions? Thinking of nothing else but the now, of my breath going in and out?

I couldn’t get far with the book, but keep thinking I could start again when feeling calmer. The same thing would probably happen, though — I’d get annoyed, start flipping rapidly through the pages, and finally shut the book and put it down. As always, there’s a core idea that’s sound, but we like to overdo things, take them to extremes and expect miracles to happen. It’s not good.

“It’s impossible to be furious when lying down,” I’ve been told. Well, I should sleep but don’t feel easy in my mind. The reason being there’s a large spider with one foot on the valance. If it was just any spider, I wouldn’t pay attention, but it’s *this* spider. It has a known track record. Twice already I found it lolling in bed with the Little Witness. I put it out on the landing last night, and tonight it was back. I carefully removed it with an old hardback copy of Still Glides The Stream by Flora Thompson, and when I turned round, it had glided off the book and was over by the bed again. I sense it’s waiting for me to turn the light out.

It’s not that I’m scared of spiders. I just don’t pick them up with bare hands, and get a little freaked if one is too intent on me or something I have. It’s worse when it’s in plain sight for ages then suddenly disappears. You wonder if it has disappeared further away… or much closer?

I considered dropping the Mindfulness book on it, then felt ashamed. Forever after, I’d be haunted by its ghost every time I tried to meditate. OK, I don’t think I’ll ever meditate, but the mere word ‘mindfulness’ would put me in mind of myself battering the wee soul to death with a shiny yellow book.

If I went to sleep now, I would worry about where it was, throwing my mind out to every corner of my bed to explore every crease and shadow, and my toes would itch. Much more effective than standard mindfulness at distracting me from my anger, but I think I’d rather be angry…

Posted in Lost in Thought

Halloween Elements

I have to confess the reason I started thinking more closely about what makes a Halloween scene or image was that I made a desktop wallpaper for the Halloween part of a site — it was promptly booted out into a more general category.

Oooops. Part of me really hates that…. being wrong, and having to be corrected. It hurts my pride. But it got me thinking about the traditional and not so traditional elements of Halloween.

I’ve been looking in the shops at Halloween window displays, and at the Halloween paraphernalia they have on sale. In previous years I didn’t care two hoots… but last year I looked at the desktop wallpapers on deviantArt after Halloween was already over, and got angry with myself for missing the whole thing! I always rather wanted to make a Halloween wallpaper, and there were some good and imaginative ones.

Anyway, the following were in the Halloween displays of local shops in the UK:

Strictly traditional elements:
Witches, broomsticks, witches’ hats, cauldrons, black cats;
Ghosts, ghouls, ectoplasm;
Skeletons, skulls;
Tombs, tombstones, fangs;
Spiders, cobwebs;
Bats, full moons, spooky trees, haunted houses;
Carved pumpkins.

Traditional but less common:
Carved turnips… actually none of these were in local shop displays.

Acceptable but slightly less traditional elements:
Owls, rats, toads, cockroaches, toadstools;
Zombies, mummies, monsters in general, gibbets.

Elements I’ve seen included, but not especially traditional:
Poison bottles, old bottles with melted wax;
Snakes, crocodiles, dinosaurs, scorpions;
Aliens, Chewbacca, gremlins, Furbies.

General decorations:
Glow sticks;
Uncarved pumpkins, autumn foliage and flowers, conkers.

Not quite sure how to categorize the following! Probably ‘daring’?:
Weaponry, shackles and irons, dungeon signs, torture implements;
Body parts, blood, eyeballs, violent maniacs;
Pirates, highway men, mad scientists.

Things you would think would be included but weren’t (perhaps out of some basic Scottish unease):
Horned devils, dragons.

Presumably body parts and suchlike are there to symbolize those who have died violently… who are now wandering spirits having their last night of fun. But I was disturbed by the presence of a masked maniac who had costumes in some of the local shops. Who is Freddie with the boiler room? Do I really want to know?

Spiders aren’t ghosts, so why are they so traditional? Why are they more Halloweeny than snakes? Actually, I had this question answered only yesterday, when Mum said it’s a good job she’s not afraid of spiders. There she was, driving along, and a spider suddenly jumped on her. Then tonight I opened the kitchen door and looked out, and there were silvery spider webs on both corners, with the black night sky as their backdrop. This is a very spidery time of year, I guess… whereas presumably snakes are a bit past their best! (I don’t actually know that; it’s a stab in the dark!)

Anyway…. would you say a row of living, glowing test tubes was suitable Halloween fodder, or a bit borderline? It occurred to me to type in ‘Halloween test tubes’ and a surprising number of hits showed up. They’re all tied in with the mad scientist idea. I was saying to Mum “look at the glow sticks; they’re like my test tubes,” and today I found somebody out there asking if you could put the contents of glow sticks into test tubes for Halloween decorations, or would that be dangerous? (Answer: very probably).

And perhaps the real answer is that Halloween is still evolving in people’s minds.

Halloween Test Tubers
Posted in Life and Family

Morn in the Tropics of Scotland

I was going to have a shower when I got up, but wanted to speak to Mum first. She doesn’t approve of people wandering the house in dressing-gowns, even when ill or tired, so I reached for yesterday’s clothes, which were draped on a chair. The chocolate brown skirt went on without a hitch, but when I picked up the bubblegum-pink T-shirt, I glimpsed a black washing label inside. Moving quickly, I was about to pull the top over my head, but thought “wait half a sec… this garment doesn’t HAVE any black labels.”

While I hesitated, the label detached itself from the seam and scuttled furrily towards my hand.
“Eugh!” I said in shock, and threw the top into a corner of the room. I immediately felt guilty, and picked it up again, and out crawled a large brown hunting spider — not at all poisonous or unknown to the Scottish home, but it’s the type that marches defiantly across the sitting room carpet in broad lamplight, only to be chewed up and spat out by the cats. These spiders also know how to play possum, but cats are incorrigibly curious and chew them up anyway.

You know, there are countries where I don’t think I’d last very long. I’d pull on a boot without looking, and get clobbered by a funnel web spider. When I was little and we were living abroad, I would potter barefoot around the garden — and the worst that ever happened was stepping on the odd wicked thorn or being nibbled by ants of various sizes. Oh, and a bee, but that was indoors! I suppose most spiders and snakes had the sense to avoid me, even if I wasn’t looking out for them.

Posted in Life and Family, My Cats

Lurking Spider

The following took place on Thursday 16 October 2008, 00:22:

Mum crept up behind me with what looked like a wolf spider on her palm (unless it was a Lace Webbed Spider).

“You know there are poisonous spiders in the UK now?” I pointed out. “Including the False Widow Spider.”
“This isn’t a False Widow Spider, it’s a Stupid Spider,” said Mum.
“Why? What does it do?”
“It jumps into people’s hot baths.”

She put it down on my desk and went away, leaving it to scuttle behind a pile of Ty Beanie Babies.
Maybe I should give it some hot chocolate and bunny slippers now that it’s all soapy clean.

Actually, when you’re researching spiders on the internet, it’s a bad time for a cat to sneak quietly under the desk and brush against your feet.

Posted in Observations

Taking an Ell

You know that phrase ‘give an inch, and they’ll take an ell?’ Today I left the back door open to let in lots of sunlight and fresh air. A while later, I walked into the kitchen and bounced off an enormous cobweb that somebody built. It started from somewhere outside, stretched through the open doorway, and ended up hitched to the kitchen radiator.

“Excuse me,” I said, glaring at the small yellow interloper.

I don’t know if she’ll take the hint. Spiders usually do.

Posted in Observations, Trolleys

A Couple of Peculiarities

(1) I had some mugs waiting to go in the dishwasher – but a tiny spider stretched such a fine web across the mouth of one mug that you could barely see it shining in the sunlight. The spider itself was the merest speck, and I wondered what it hoped it might catch. Microbes?

I didn’t want to kill it in the dishwasher, so I put the mug aside. Every so often I checked, and the spider was still there. Then one day it was gone – and so was the web. I put my finger in and stirred it around, puzzled – the web was definitely gone. It was as though the spider had coiled it up like a length of elven rope and carried it off to a better home.

(2) I was setting off from my house, approaching a patch of grass where someone had put down a thick layer of white bread crumbs. Just in front of me, a large flock of busy brown birds came down in a clatter of wings. I drew nearer, with Jolly the Trolley rattling and rumbling in tow, and the birds immediately rose and sat on the nearest roof, staring down. It was only then that I noticed the black cat, sitting completely relaxed beside the bread crumbs. It had a delighted smirk on its face, as though to say “I was just sitting around doing nothing, and then suddenly, out of the blue…!”

Edit Feb 2008: Comments for this entry when it was hosted on Blogigo:

1. kateblogs wrote at Dec 2, 2006 at 19:44:
LOL I bet that cat couldn’t believe his luck.

2. Pacian wrote at Dec 3, 2006 at 12:45:
I think he was a sneaky cat with a loaf of bread and a cheese grater.

Posted in Blogging, Gender Issues, Life and Family

Spider Shadow

Was just reading this post over for typos and there was a loud droning noise – no, it wasn’t me, not this time. “What’s that? A lawnmower?” Looked out my window. “Can’t see a lawnmower and it’s a bit loud. Maybe a plane?” I waited, and suddenly three planes appeared together in a tight group. They were dark planes; one was much larger than the other two and had a very blunt nose.

They’ve just soughed past again, very close – definitely not jets. They might be old planes, or one old plane with escorts. A man walking his dog has stopped to stare up at them. People in the house opposite have come out for a look. Even the cat is looking. Hmm.

Onto other things…

Just now I pulled up a few weeds and took them to the brown wheelie bin and noticed sticky webbing on the handle. I touched the lid and an enormous black spider shadow appeared from nowhere – it stopped me in my tracks! Then I saw the spider itself – a pale brown figure that was fairly well camouflaged, nothing like as big as its shadow. Still, I’m glad I’m not a fly.

I spotted a post from Deep Jive Interests: Paul Stamatiou is My Hero: Makes Backhanded Comment about Metrics – Gets it Right. They have a valid concern that people reading RSS feeds without visiting the actual blogs are not contributing to the blogosphere – I agree, but admit I’m guilty of that as I’m on dial-up and it would take me ages to visit every page I’m subscribed to. Still, if I see something in the feed that catches my eye, I visit the blog and sometimes comment as well. I don’t think the fact that some feeds are partial stop me – whether it’s full or partial, if it doesn’t look interesting, I’ll skip it, but they’ll soon write a post that does interest me, and I’ll visit. While I’m there I can catch the the post that I missed.

Onto a different tack – sometimes I wonder where my blog (or anyone else’s) fits in the scheme of things. Aw Diddums is personal but it’s not ‘just a diary’ – I don’t even consider it a diary, though I suppose others have a looser definition. Nor is it about politics, technology, business, current news, religion, culture, humour, writing, the media… maybe a little from each, all mixed up together in the context of my life.

If I had a blog that was only about Mac software (for instance) I would only link to relevant sites. But then you find yourself looking at a site or directory that says it’s for women – at first you’re delighted, but after a while you realize they only spotlight or link to those who blog about politics, religion, business, technology or feminism.

It makes me think of a newspaper article I saw (can’t find it now) that said they were trying to strike the word ‘housewife’ from the terminology of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institutes (SWRI). They weren’t allowed to, and thank goodness for that. I don’t even consider the word ‘housewife’ as being for married women only, and nor do I see it as something to be hidden under the carpet – either the activity or the word. So when I go to a site that says it’s for women, and it turns out it’s all business stuff that they link to, I feel cheated.

Back to what I was saying… the beauty of not being in any of these specialized fields is that I can spread my net to anything that interests me – so perhaps personal blogs are the glue that bind the rest of the blogosphere together. Small spiders cast enormous shadows.

It gets deeper the more I think about it. 😉

Come into my parlour, dear, it’s time for tea…

Edit Feb 2008: Comments to this post when it was hosted on Blogigo:

1. drifting wrote at Sep 9, 2006 at 01:52:
I love your entries – they’re always so thought-provoking, sensible and, well, interesting. I agree that general blogs such as ours have links to all manner of other blogs and websites which take you on little sidetracks of discovery.

2. Pacian wrote at Sep 9, 2006 at 12:49:
I work hard to ensure that my blog features articles on all four of its title areas – cpace, cats, rockets and ships. To dilute my blog with off-topic content would be the greatest crime.

I saw a spider shadow last night, or rather I could just about make it out beneath the much larger daddy long-legs spider that was twittering over it like a spasming filament hand. It was lovely!

3. Diddums wrote at Sep 9, 2006 at 18:50:
Thanks, Drifting – makes me think of how the hearth is the heart of the home – so maybe the ‘home blog’ is the heart of the internet. Today I followed a link and didn’t just find one interesting blog, I found a whole heap of interesting blogs! I’m still reeling. Will sort them into my linkbar later when I get time.

Pacian, I wonder what that daddy long legs thought it was up to – was the spider after it? I went to try and get the Brown Bin spider to pounce again, but this time it stayed hidden. I wonder if it noticed its own shadow yesterday and thought “dang it – I’m a twit.”

4. Pacian wrote at Sep 10, 2006 at 16:07:
It was a spider of the Daddy Long Legs species, as opposed to a crane fly or a harvestman which are also known colloquially as daddy long legs.

5. kateblogs wrote at Sep 12, 2006 at 11:29:
“and suddenly three planes appeared together in a tight group.”

A similar thing happened here a couple of years ago – in that case the plane in the centre was a passenger jet, and the two flanking it were fighter planes. It was quite frightening because they were so low, no more than 200 feet above the ground. Several neighbours came out of their houses to see what was happening, but whatever it was is a mystery, to this day I have never seen any kind of explanation for it.

Shuuder daddy long legs – I am terrified of them. Don’t mind spiders but ddls give me the creeps LOL

6. Diddums wrote at Sep 12, 2006 at 13:32:
I wonder what that was about? Maybe it was an old and valuable plane. My three were showing off, I think – they went round and round 3 or 4 times before finally taking off. 🙂