Sunday, 31 May 2009

Last Week at Perranporth

Last week we went to Perranporth, nice and late so it was cooler for Little Dog. I took lots and lots of photos and here are some of my favourites....





This last one is as close as this blog will get to having a picture of S and F... I love this picture though. And that is the lovely Little Dog in the middle.

Stagnation

I have done nothing this weekend. In fact I haven't left the house since Friday when I took Little dog out in the evening. This week has taken it's toll on me and left me somewhat drained. I just didn't have the energy to contemplate doing anything very much at all.

I intended to go out and get some supplies yesterday, little bits I am lacking for creative projects... I wanted some green and brown embroidery silks, one of those rotary cutters which really help with cutting out fabric, some cotton for my baby blanket to be, (I started cutting but straightness was an issue....) as well as the odd other bit. But I didn't. I needed some more postcards for my postcrossing addiction as well... Oh well... Don't suppose I would get much of that doen this week anyway... i have other things I can do...

If I won the lottery, I would build a house that was open to the land. My granite terrace so often feels cut off from outside - necessary for maintaining privacy when you open onto the road. I would also hire a tai chi instructor to turn up at my house each morning until I could do the forms alone. I really need something to get my energy flowing properly.... That is how I feel this weekend - stagnant. In oh so many ways.....

I made jewelery today but it was only completing previously thought up designs. I have had no creative urges. I have a half formed scarf design in my head but no impetus to put it on paper and work it out.

I took all weekend to print of the application form for care work and I have only filled in half. It is a terrifyingly large step. A completely different type of work for me, one I have never, ever done and wouldn't have considered before.

My house is still a mess and I had plans along those lines as well....

Another odd thing is that although my e-life has saved me in so many ways, sometimes it holds me back to. Yesterday I was online all day and really accomplished very little that I wouldn't normally accomplish in two much shorter sessions on a working day. Well apart from reading blogs from start to finish for thinking up interview questions....

I need to be strict with myself with my e-life. As much as it helps me, it can also be a comfort blanket and keep me from doing things too.... Under my comfort blanket i can stagnant without ever realising.... I think it is time to move on, not away from all the things in my e-life, but to try and alter how my life fits together a little....

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Charles de Lint

OK, I know this may not be of interest to most of you but I wanted to write about this....

Charles de Lint is an author who writes mostly fantasy books. His characters live in our world but their lives are linked to a magical other world in some way. Often set in the city of Newford his stories weave a gentle spell....

I avidly devoured every book of his my bookshop stocked and then he fell silent. His books vanished. I began looking on Amazon and discovered that this wasn't true. he had been very prolific in fact. I also found his website and began to realise I was missing out on a lot.

Charles de Lint is a folk musician and loves art as well. He often writes short stories which he has published as chapbooks with art to go with them. These little books are not surprisingly, more expensive than the books generally stocked in my bookshop and a little more specialised.

The stories in these books slowly make their way into collections or they get grouped with other stories about a character and grouped in one book. Consequently working out what you have and haven't read can take a little time.

Working out what you can afford to buy is rather easier. As many editions are rare and stories in one form may have appeared in a cheaper less collectible form, prices vary a lot. The most expensive one I have found is a story called Paperjack in an unknown binding which is going for £534.09 on Amazon. The interesting thing is that this story appears in one of his collections!

I used to own quite a few of his books but had lent them to a boyfriends sister and when we split I lost contact and was unlikely to travel tog et them back. Some of these books I have replaced but not all.

This morning I have gone through his list of published works.... I have discounted books I own, or own in another form as well as the five I have just ordered and this is what I have found...

21 books that are easily affordable
1 in Flemish
3 over a £100
4 between £50 and £100
7 between £20 and £50
2 that are very rare and completely unavailable at present
1 that I could not find even registered on amazon

This gives a total of 39 books!

There are 30 books I either own or own the stories in another form so don't need to buy.

I am glad I added in that little proviso to my target of owning and reading all his books... the one that gives me a get out clause for the expensive one.

Maybe if I become rich one day, I will get to read all his stories....

Friday, 29 May 2009

Return of the Sun

Today the gloomy morning matched my mood heading to work. The day however did brighten and so did everything else to. I can't say work is a happy place for me right now, although everyone is trying painfully hard. It all feels a bit shiny and brittle. It wasn't too bad though once we got into it and it all settled down....

This morning I made use of my new paycheck to do some hunting on Amazon. I was after Wreck this Journal and a new Charles de Lint book. However both books were available with offers for two others by the same author... So I have a little bevy of arty books and an enchanted fairy circle on their way to me. Joy! *grin*

Wreck the Journal is the book being followed by The Next Chapter book group starting in a week's time. There are a lot of people taking part and I can't wait to get my books in the post.... Go take a look at what we get up to sometime. I will post more about my progress with this on my creative blog.

Somehow while I was at work today my kitchen changed from magnolia to yellow. Although I miss F on the evenings and nights and weekends when he has to work, there are some benefits. I have decided that this still counts towards my 101 things, it is just an example of delegation *grin*.

Little Dog found herself being wiped out the door as soon as I got home. We went down by the river. The path faces towards the sun and it was baking hot despite the strong winds that made the trees rustle so much the leaves sounded like an ocean.

Butterflies basked on the path. The stagnant pool with millions of tadpoles had changed since last time, there was still tadpoles but they were fewer and fatter. I even saw one where little legs had just started to grow. The hedgerows are full of the white flowers of the Umbellifer family, probably cow parsley, and ferns were unfurling.

I had hoped to let Little Dog swim in the pool we discovered under the trees but it had dried up too much. It was an expanse of mud with a stagnant puddle or two. I think Little Dog was disappointed....

She didn't mind too much though. She trotted around happily sniffing things. She reminds me of a horse, quite a classy horse, or maybe a pony. She has quite a collected little trot and it is so precise and upright.

And now it is the weekend and the sun is set to shine all through it....

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Interview with the Mother-Witch

Another lovely interview! These questions are from my soul sister Mel. You should know the rules but... If you want an interview, comment on this post and I shall devise five shiny new questions especially for you!

1) Describe your perfect, but ordinary, day.

It would be sunny, but not too hot with a bit of a breeze. Not during tourist season or the school holidays so that there are fewer people about. I would wake early but well rested, warm and snug with some nice snuggles with F. I would get up and eat breakfast. Then we would go out. To a large extent it wouldn't matter where - I always have the most fun with him and if we are both in the right mood and open to fun, it just doesn't matter. I love going off exploring with him. So we would drive off somewhere and explore, with or without Little Dog. When we got home I would have bath while he cooked and then we would watch a nice film or some such thing.


2) If you could beam yourself and F and S and Little Dog to anywhere and/or anytime - where would we find you rambling?

There is a temptation to take us back in time to be with Big Dog, somewhere wide open but with no roads, people or other dogs and nice secure, but distant, fences. This would mean Little Dog and Big Dog could run together... However, I firmly believe that you can't go back and if you do it just isn't the same or right. Best to leave Big Dog in the past as a living dog and in the present as one of my guardians for it is where he now belongs... So I am going to envision us all to our future home - the one with the paddock and horses, the forest garden, the beautiful house we built with all of it's convenient and green features. And then I am going to envision sucking it closer to the present so that it can appear sooner. Mind you Perranporth beach last Sunday was pretty good!


3) My borrowed question: If you could invite any three people (living or dead) to dinner, who would they be and what would you be eating?

My Grandfathers. I never met either of them. My Mum's Dad sounds like a lovely person but I would love to know if he was gay or not and I would love to bask in his personality. My Dad's Dad died leaving my dad as an only child to carry on the business and support his Mum, a rather difficult lady. He isn't one who finds emotions and things easy to talk about and so I know next to nothing about him and what sort of person he was, despite asking. Maybe I should ask again soon.... And the third... Well it has to be F. He is my partner and joy in all things and I am a better person with him there and everything is always so much more fun, how could I meet these two fantastic ancestors and not want him to share in it?

We would eat... roast pork with crackling, yorkshire puds, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots and some other veggies followed by treacle sponge pudding and custard. I reckon they would all like that.


4) Knowing what you know about the differences between North American and British/European pagans - what one thing would you like to be able to say/tell the North American crowd?

Aside from 'Hello! We come in peace!' or 'fancy a nice walk followed by a cup of tea?'.... I don't think the differences are important (and yes I know I have ranted about them), the important thing is what we have in common. I have yet to meet or hear of a pagan that isn't interested in people and the world at large and is following, or trying to follow, a path of love and self-discovery. I have nothing to say to them as a group but individually I am happy to talk and learn and share experiences with anyone. So I guess, 'Hi, what's your name?' would be a good start...


5) What part(s) of your witching path would you like to more deeply explore and why haven't you so far?

My faith is pretty constant but my religion isn't. I feel a lot less witchy right now than I have at other points in time. My real block in things is my issue with ceremony. I am not sure if it is difficulties with letting go, issues remaining from my christian upbringing (I hated boring church ceremonies!) or the strong desire not to conform or something else entirely different, but I know I haven't got the knack. I am still not sure if it is something I need or not, whether it is or could be central to my religion.

I would like to live my life differently, on my own land, in a house I built and designed eating food I have grown and prepared with children all around me. I want to be closer to my womanhood and to the earth. I would like to live closer to my faith....





Hope you find this interesting!

Smack Down

Today was a dire day... Things reached a head with the Little Princess, or rather they reached a head yesterday and Boss decided to step in today. Unfortunately her method of dealing with the situation was to sit us in the same room and get us to talk. I think this was a very uncomfortable experience for everyone except the Boss themselves.

Basically the Little Princess feels I am rude and bossy and abrupt and I feel she lacks responsibility and doesn't work very hard. I actually feel the situation between us was in fact started by my Boss. She doesn't overly like personnel issues and when the Little Princess started she passed over all responsibility to me, not that I wanted it. I know I am not good as a boss and never, ever want to be one.... She even asked me to get her not to use her mobile in work and to chivvy her along on occasions....

The thing is Little Princess and I share a job, we have the same tasks and the same duties. If she doesn't write notes and makes little effort to learn the job, I am placed in the position of having to remind her what to do or do it myself. I feel she has been overly reliant on me and letting me do all the hard work but she hasn't liked the instruction. As I have become more frustrated with her for not remembering stuff and taking any responsibility, it is possible my feelings have become more apparent.

But what do you do when someone has had to take part in preparing for a report for ten weeks but can sit there in a meeting and claim she didn't know it was a priority. She then turned round and got stroppy about how I am obviously very clever but she can't be expected to pick things up as quick as me. I know I reminded her about prioritising the report before I went on holiday, so I know she has been told.

I know yesterday I may have been rude but I do not feel that if we have the same responsibilities that she should not be able to do some of the task and then decide she is going before it is all finished. I also do not feel that I should have to be the one to consider the fact that we had to make sure one of was there to cover the lunch but still get our papers elsewhere in the building. By leaving she put me in a position where I had to leave it uncovered. I had also pointed out to her that we needed to cover it and how we could do it, earlier on and she hadn't disagreed with me.

She also basically said that the more pissed off she got with me, the less work she did.... My Boss didn't make any issue of it! I felt as if the meeting had basically been set up to build her up and knock me down. It isn't my fault I am clever but so often in my life, I have been put down for it. People assume that because I am clever and capable that I am also confident and self-secure but those things do not go together! I think I have stumbled on the root of my personal issues with the Little Princess....

My sister is older than me. She grew up quiet and shy whereas I was naturally outgoing, although that got knocked out of me to a large extent in my teens. I was better at school, not just a little bit, but quite a lot. She was better at getting what she wanted and much, much better at charming people that she set her mind to.

My parents reaction to all this was to vow to treat us equally. Very nice really but how do actually go about it? I did pretty well at school and won a lot of prizes, from progress in gym, reading cup, music prize and academic prizes. None of my achievements were ever discussed openly and certainly never in front of my sister. No one else seemed to value them and I didn't either.

What made this difficult for me was that I had changed schools at 7 and been accidentally put up a year. The school decided I was behind (well duh! *laugh*) and put me in all the special lessons going. I grew up thinking I was thick and all my valueless prizes never convinced me otherwise. When I got my GCSE results at 16 it surprised me that others didn't have the grades I did. I expected everyone to do as I did and I mean that completely.

It isn't anyones fault. Nobody can really know what goes on inside a teenagers head. The teenager themselves won't figure it out until many years have passed! This however has continued.... My Sister from time to time feels a little uncomfortable by my success (in a limited academic sense... I am not successful career wise! *laugh*). My Mum being the eternal diplomate that she is, tries to even things out, much as my Boss tried to today.

During my degree, during my mid to late twenties, my sister began to feel uncomfortable, again. One of the disciplines of Environmental Science was one she had trained in. It was her thing, not mine. It wasn't the area I found easiest and my Mum asked me to play up on that during my next call tomy sister. My sister provided me with the perfect opening to say I found it harder and she asked me if I thought I was going to fail.... Now, I was a looong way from failing anything. I got a first. I found that subject harder and probably averaged a 2:1 in it. My sister probably to this day thinks I nearly failed it. I didn't like my Mum much for asking this of me and I vowed to never, ever let her ask such a thing again....

I hate that being a clever woman feels like such a problem! It isn't my fault I was born this way! I honestly don't believe men are made to feel guilty for being clever. Thing is, I know enough about intelligence in all it's forms and how little my intelligence has so far helped me have a bright and successful life to not place as much value on it as others seem to. F is not academic, at all, he is interpersonal intelligence all the way. And it is intelligence. I envy him this sometimes. Now his intelligence DOES help him have a bright and happy life!

I think having to work with me on the same job and with the same expectations and responsibilities (supposedly) exposes the Little Princesses feelings of inadequacy, just as her reaction to me and my bosses reaction to the situation exposes my sensitivity of being knocked down to build others up. Thing is, I don't think either of us got what we wanted from the meeting, it is a band aid on a festering sore. I shall never like or trust her and she will never like me, I have no idea about trust *laugh*. Thing is my Boss should have prevented the sore from forming and she should have gently lanced it with a little careful mediating in a subtle fashion, instead she hit it with a hammer.

I could say so much more about it all. To be fair, I have already gotten much, much more personal than I wanted to get on my blog but hey, it's my blog and this is what I want to write about today. Following on from the decision to see about changing job, today has made me harden my resolve to do this. My boss did make a point of saying that she can always depend on me to get the job done and pull it out of the fire and she can trust me to do it all without needing her but again just a little patch on the wound.

Well with any luck, I will be gone soon and then the Little Princess will have to be responsible, ready or not.... The thought of that makes me happy and I know it shouldn't.... Because I don't think she is ready and I know that even at her best she can't get through the work like me. I know that with a new replacement, freshly trained, making mistakes and requiring her to take time to check their work, she just doesn't stand a chance. I know I shouldn't gloat..... It isn't pretty.

Which all leaves me with the sure knowledge that I have to delve into my own feelings of inadequacy and I have to learn to truly own my own abilities and stop keep playing them down and not using them because they make others feel uncomfortable. Maybe that is at the heart of why I am fairly unsuccessful in life....

If anybody actually gets to end of my, er, post, PLEASE leave a comment, any comment....

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Water (Word Wednesday)

Today the heavens opened. It rained and rained. It doesn't often rain like that down here. Oh it rains, it rains a lot, it is one of the wettest places in the UK and that means lots of rain. Being as exposed as we are though, with all those winds coming in off the sea, it normally gets ripped up. Most rain here falls sideways as a very fine spray. It gets you just as wet. An umbrella is no use and more likely to end up inside out than protect you from the sideways rain that blows up under them. Sometimes the rain is so fine it is more of a fog or a mist. I often look up at the nearby hills and struggle to see them for the lowing flying cloud has gotten stuck on them.

In the UK, we are obsessed with rain. We get a fair bit of it. If we don't have enough rain in the winter, we complain our reservoirs haven't filled up enough. If it rains too much we get very fed up, be it winter or summer but in the summer too much rain and crops don't ripen. Not enough and they die. We always sit on fine balance. What comes of being perched in such an interesting spot weather-wise.

All that wind sweeps moisture off the sea and over our green and luscious islands. The wind follows the ocean currents from the tropics, the fantastic gulf stream which keeps us warm and wet. Canada which is on the same latitude has very, very cold winters compared to us. While continental Europe may bake in the Summer for weeks on end, we suffer from variation. It has even snowed in the UK in June, those artic winds are never far away, if things shift right we get weather straight from the pole. Oh and then there is the sand from the Sahara too. The weather fights over us.

Living here, we often see the weather fight over our heads. This long peninsula heads south west so weather systems coming from the south or west hit us here first. Sometimes when you look up you can see a line of cloud over head. In the Summer, if the weather is not so good on the North coast, head to the South coast. If neither of those work, head to one of the two toes at the end, separated by the glorious Mounts Bay in which sits St Michael's Mount. The Southern toeis known as the Lizard and the westerly one as Penwith. They often have different weather again. One of my friends once told me that several times she has found it to be raining at her back door but not at her front door.

Water fights over us in many ways down here, not just from the sky. The waves batter us. Floods race down small steep sided valleys causing devestation such as in the Boscastle flood where amazing no one died, despite people having to climb out through their roofs. The water fights under our feet to, as miners from days gone by knew only too well. They pumped water out but sometimes it beat them. In one mining accident, there was a torrential downpour over an open shaft in which men were working. It flooded down the shaft, drowning them as they tried to climb out.

I love water though. I am fascinated by it. I love living by the sea and I am well used to the rain. Do I underestimate it though? Probably but not as much as some. I have a healthy respect for it and hope it never comes to take me. As any Cornish fisherman knows the waters of the world are a beautiful but hard mistress.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Changing Times

I had to go back to work today and I hated it. I had been telling myself that it is the people that you work with that make a job. Going back made me realise that I hadn't actually missed any of them. I was glad to be free of the dramas and games. I know this all got worse with the coming of the Little Princess but it was there before.

I didn't sleep well last night. OK so F was working and I was missing him but I slept fine when he worked last week. My ability to sleep often reflects my inner state. If I sleep badly things aren't right, or ate something bad.... I woke up early as well and there was no chance of getting back to sleep.

F meanwhile was at work and having fun. He was paid to go out and eat and his food was paid for. Not that is an everyday thing but his job is certainly much more fun than mine.... I sit in front of a computer and focus on it all day. When I leave my eyes hurt and my head hurts. I can say I get to have much fun.

I did find solace in the basic routine of it all, it did become somewhat zen like but sharing the role took away the zen really. The problem is my company is successful. Work is increasing. Things are going to change beyond all recognition. There will be, at some point, more staff, more responsibility and all... For as i had to train the Little Princess, I would have to take part in the training of some of the likely newcomers.

There are games being played at higher level than those I work with. When, how and all the other questions won't be answered for some time yet, not until the last minute. Even though certain people receive the same pay, it doesn't mean they do the same job. If you are able, somewhere like that, then you get exploited. Not intentionally, but you get exploited all the same.

I want money. I want to finish sorting out my house. I want money saved up. I want to be able to afford the wedding of my dreams. I want to be able to afford to have children. Is this ever going to happen in my current job? Not a chance - I may not be on minimum wage but I am not so far above it. I am too tired to consider overtime, not that it comes along very often but when it does come along it floods through my life, taking over everything.

Does my job give me any warm fuzzies? No. It is a pure capitalist venture really. Does F's job give him the warm fuzzies? Yes. Does it pay nicely? oh yes. Does it tire him out and mak ehis eyes and head hurt? No. Why am I still in my old job, where is my application form.....

Monday, 25 May 2009

Interview with a Yogini

The lovely Eco Yogini completed an interview on her blog. It seems that it is a chain interview! So now I have my lovely interview questions written by herself and I have to offer this service to anyone else out there... These are the rules...

* leave me a comment with your email address saying: “interview me”
* I will e-mail you five questions of my choice
* you can then answer the questions on your blog {with a link back to my blog}
* you should also post these rules, along with an offer to interview anyone else who emails you, wanting to be interviewed
* anyone who asks to be interviewed should be sent 5 questions to answer on their blog
* it would be nice if the questions were individualized for each blogger


1) Books... as an avid reader, are there habits that drive you absolutely bonkers? How do you feel about spine bending, page bending, bookmarks, coffee stains etc? Have you ever lent out a book that when it was returned you were so disappointed with its' state?

I am generally a pretty relaxed book owner. I personally break the spine of all my paperbacks but I never break the spine of someone else's book, that would be rude! I do however hate bent pages and coffee stains. I have never lent a book that returned in a bad way but I have lent books that never made their way home. Some of the most shocking treatment of books has been in my own hands... There was the one I dropped in the bath and many of the books in my collection are currently suffering a little from damp... *sigh*


2) Being Wiccan / Pagan, do you feel there is a difference between North American and European Wicca?

Definitely! I think Wicca and Paganism at their best are somewhat linked to the land. The folk beliefs across Europe were many and varied and often linked to the place that they were practiced. Two men became interested in preserving as much of this as possible, Crowley and Williamson. Crowley found Wicca but Williamson found the beliefs of the little people, often lacking in education and still linked to a specific place.

These folk beliefs still survive in many ways across Europe. Traditions, superstitions and beliefs have stayed in families and villages and are still related to places. Where they are being revived, they are still generally in the memory of the oldest surviving people. Paganism is still there underlying much of what we do. Some places it is further from the surface but in others, like Cornwall, that connection to the land and pagan traditions is still very, very present.

As Paganism and Wicca become more socially acceptable the things preserved in places like this are flowing back out again. It is all right here to pick back up. There are ancient churches by holy wells, on top of hills, on beaches, by rivers, in woods. These holy places are still full of.... There are pagan traditions being practiced openly by mixed groups containing *shock horror* Christians, those traditional haters of all things witch. Just as I have accepted that Christianity is my heritage, so many Christians are accepting that pagan traditions are their heritage.

Wicca and Paganism are not endemic religions to North America. The religions of the Native Americans are the folk beliefs linked to the land there, not European beliefs. As such it is often apparent when reading about such Pagan beliefs in American, that Shamanism is a strong thread, which is as it should be. The Wicca of the New Forest that Crowley found could not have had within it's lexicon the spirits of the desert...

I am not a Wiccan, I am a witch. It sometimes feels that the word witch is one that Wiccans feel only they should be able to use. Truth is a witch is both, possibly more what I am as Wicca has striven to develop it's own identity. I sometimes feel that this attitude towards those non-Wiccan witches is more prevalent amongst North American Wiccans, who have perhaps lost their instinctual understanding of the connection between witch and Wicca as they have become more connected to their new land and it's sacred power.

My personal belief is that faith is in the heart and religion is.... somewhere else and may or may not include faith. Everyone's true faith is different and this diversity should be accepted and celebrated, as long as the underlying tenents are not damaging to society - I could not for instance condone a faith that included ritual cannibalism....

Sorry this answer got a bit long and sorry if my personal views have offended anyone out there.


3) As a creative soul, where do you wish in your innermost heart, for your art to take you? Imagine the world 60 years from now, where is your art, and where would you most like for it to be?

I guess what I want is to live in a beautiful home with beautiful and functional things that have soul. I also want to spread a little of this around to friends and family (and maybe have a little of the creative soul in my home to... *laugh*). I would quite like to write a book one day, on something, no idea what.

I guess my dearest thought is that I could buy some land and build a house and a forest garden. I would want to take the best of technology and of tradition. For instance my Mum only has a small fridge, she doesn't need a big one because she has a pantry. Why don't modern homes have pantries? I like technology but I want to make it work for me. Another example, i love long hot baths and end up wastefully adding extra water. I once saw a picture of a chap watching the sun set in an old tin bath with some extra pipe work added and a fire underneath it so water was continuously heated.

Gardens are so important these days, for water conservation and food. I saw on TV a programme with a forest garden. Trees were grown for food and forage with bushes and plants inbetween. Grain was not grown. I think it was something like one acre supporting 10 people with 10 days maintenance and 30 days harvesting per year. Without constant uprooting and applications of chemicals, fertility increased and the it was beautiful and semi-wild looking.

I want to be growing old there in 60 years time. With grandchildren and children also enjoying what we began.


4) What is your first/favourite memory of magic/fantastical world?

In a book or otherwise? I remember playing my best friend. We were having a private picnic in the field behind her house. I remember we were playing the one upmanship game of all the special things we could do. The game ended when I claimed I could make all the crumbs vanish from my plate. I threw it in the air and magically they all vanished. I remember that we were both impressed. *laugh*

I guess in a book though my first fantasy image I adored was the idea of the wood between the worlds in C S Lewis' The Magician's Nephew. A wood that went on forever with little pools of water between the trees that could take yo to other worlds. I guess I loved the possibility of the place... And it's dreamy nature.


5) What would be the most perfect wedding for you, if money and family dramas weren't an issue?

Oh I could spend a loooong time talking about this one. I want to either get married just me and him with a couple of witnesses on a beach somewhere or have it just be a fantastic day that caters to the needs of my guests, all of them.

I would want everyobdy to have a good day. Not for it to be about photographers and schedules. I would want for everyone to be able to stay nearby and not have to rush off home. I would want S to send invites to all the children so that it was his day too. I would want for there to be a church wedding with me in a red dress made by Denise Stracey with a ivory crochet long jacket over the top for in the church and a fake fur ivory bolero jacket for the when the evning grows cold. I would make swarovski crystal jewellery for my neice and I to wear with our dresses and my nephew and S would be page teenagers in grey suits with red ties made by Denise and ivory shirts and crystal cufflinks. F would be similarly attired.

As we were signing the register all the children from within the church and in the mobile creche would gather round the doors and blow bubbles at us as we left the church. Rose petals would be distributed at the church gate to scatter in the sun. There would be no standing around for photographs as we would have several photographers photographing things as they naturally happen or small groups...

We would all leave with everyone bundled into coaches. We would have an English tea party in the sun with various activities for the children such as a treasure hunt. Then to marquees for feasting in the evening. It wouldn't be a formal sit down meal more of a buffet. The top table would actually be four square tables so that F and I would be heads of our table of friends, my folks would be head of a table of friends and family but also sat next to us and then F's folks on the other side with friends and family on their table to.

The children would all be on their own table with S at the head and after the three top tables they would eat next and then all go off and have some fun somewhere else so they didn't have to listen to speeches.

Roses would be a theme as would crystal mimicing the pattern of stones in my engagement ring. There would be a tier of the cake that was persian rose cake. There would be a rose petal salad and lamb coated in spices including rose. There would be mint and rose tea as well as coffee and normal tea. I would carry a small bunch of old fashioned red roses and the tables would have rose petals on them and the glasses would be decorated with crystals. All the stationery would be made with handmade paper containing rose petals too.

There would be much alcohol and music but also quiet places for people to sit comfortably and talk. Children would have play areas. It wouldn't be full of family friends and family I barely know or hardly see. They would all be there but so would all my friends, old and new, from all around the world. Come to party and celebrate. The only group photo would be one as they all stand together having just arrived, stood as a crowd with upraised glasses (containing rose flavoured beverages) and a photographer looking down...

*sigh* the chances of me affording that are slim so I am working on running away to a nice beach instead...

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Today was a beautiful day. It was hot, the sun was shining and the sky was blue.

We had S and F cooked a lovely roast. We wanted to take Little Dog out but I didn't want to take her out and make her run in the afternoon unless it was windy or there was some water for her to wade in. She has a fluffy coat and the way she runs and pants.... When that ball is thrown she has to go after it at full pelt and S just can't stop himself from throwing it...

I looked up beaches that you can take dogs to. Many beaches in Cornwall have dog bans operating from Easter till October. I can understand why, the tourists don't want to get jumped on by sandy dogs or sit in dog mess. There are some beaches that don't have bans though and a nice little website told me which ones.

We decided to go to Perranporth which is a town at one end of a lovely big sandy bay. A river flows from the town onto the sands. The beach is sort of an L shape with the town at the end of the short arm. The long arm is backed by cliffs and gets cut off from the town when the tide is high. We looked up the tide as and it was hight tide at about 5pm. We decided to have our roast first. With the weather and a smaller available area, the beach would have been very, very crowded.

We headed out quite late. There were few surfers left and no bathers or sun seekers. The sun was low and casting long shadows. It was beautifully clear, with no clouds on the horizon. We actually got to watch the sun sink into the sea.

Little Dog and S rampaged around, playing ball. The only problem with Little Dog somewhere like this is she is so quick, she can be off with another dog in the blink of an eye. She has a longer range than most dogs! The greyhound in her shines through. Big Dog was even faster.... She was pretty good though....

It was a beautiful, stunning evening and the beach was lovely. How could anything be bad when you are somewhere like this.

We strolled gently back up the beach to the car after the sun had gone down. Unexpectedly, we bumped into someone we knew who works as a lifeguard here. Someone nearly died on the beach today. A holiday maker was taken from the water and resuscitated. Remarkably he was fine!

Danger is never far, no matter where you are. This beach has rip tides. The lifeguards sometimes have to move the swimming area. Sometimes things go wrong, despite all precautions being taken. You can't live your life in cotton wool though, you might be allergic to it!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Options

Today was a nothingy day really. I feel like I have just started to relax and really wind down but yet i only have two more days and I have to go back to work. DIY and housework are just beginning to feel like things I am ready to catch up on *sigh*. This may of course be an illusion - 'oh I really wanted to tidy the house but I had to go back to work too soon.... *sigh*'.

F is enjoying his new job and it has good benefits - lots of holiday, lots of available overtime, reduced food bills and more pay. I know not every location and client his company has is as easy to deal with as the ones F is with. It is starting to feel somewhat attractive.

In learning how to study I discovered how to shift my concentration level up. This is something i find quite tiring. Somehow I have gotten myself into a little trap at work, I had to work hard to do the job by myself and had to focus to keep going with my dull data entry. Then Little Princess came and joined me but somehow lots of other things got added into our joint job description.... I don't like that I have to focus so hard that I come home tired out. It is not a good enough job to be my world! I don't enjoy it enough or get paid enough for that!

I am still sitting here waiting though, to make sure that when F visits other locales, they are places I could happily work. The only thing that is certain is that if I went for the same job as him, I wouldn't be in the same place and therefore my experience could be rather different from his.

It would give me time during the day but time with F would be very variable. Sometimes we could easily be on opposite shifts. People seem to be fairly happy to swap shifts so it would be possible to take a class like tai chi or some other.

Some sites have clients who like to go for walks and do crafts... In the right site, i could have a fantastic time but in the wrong site.... It feels like a real gamble....

What I would really love to do is some sort of horticultural thing but to be fair I am a long way from fit enough. The other thing i would love is not to have to work and to have some children and lead a full family life. Obviously I don't have any children so that is out right now as well! *laugh*

Maybe it will all fall nicely into place...

Friday, 22 May 2009

Happiness is a Tired Dog

Today I finally finished a few things to send out and was planning to go to the Post Office with F when he got in and stop at a mates place to drop in some books. F however suddenly found out he needed to stay at work an hour longer. So I went by myself. Well, i was going to... But the Little One was looking at me funny...

She wouldn't let me drive home after either... she made me go to big hill and let her out.... Nasty Dog!

The sun was shining, the sky was blue, little fluffy clouds drifted across and a nice breeze was blowing off the sea. We walked along the top of the hill and sat on top of a stack of granite. Little Dog is quite a good climber. Anywhere I am capable of heaving my bulk, is somewhere she can get with ease and at twice the speed. There was a definite line between sea and sky today and the view was excellent.

I love it up there. It looks so open and you feel as if you can see everywhere and that there are no features on top. But there are. Old hut circles nestled in gorse. An old quarry that has been flooded. An boggy pool with low willow trees and Juncus (a spiky bog grass). A granite bench with an inscription.

As we circled back to the car, I unlocked the door and then realised Little Dog had spotted something and wasn't about to jump in. Down the path came a lady with a Jack Russell and the two dogs raced to meet each other. They started to play and Little Dog pushed the Jack Russell over. Slightly worried I grabbed Little Dog but the Jack Russell kept running round her yipping.

The nice smiley lady informed me they were excited yips not scared yips so I let little Dog go. They ran round and round with a bit of rough and tumble. Not just Little Dog doing the tumbling either. The jack looked like she was trying to jump on Little Dog's back at one point! They had a whale of a time.

Eventually the lady went to leave but the two dogs didn't want to part. They would race backwards and forwards between us, even after the lady and I could no longer see each other. Eventually a tire but happy Little Dog got in the car and collapsed. Then when we got home she collapsed some more.

It is one thing I love about hounds: you can walk them for hours and they don't break a sweat or get tired but get them to run full pelt and after ten minutes they are worn out. Take Little Dog out with a ball for 15 mins and you have a very quiet evening ahead of you... Happiness is a snoozing snuggly hound....

Charity

It is amazing what you can buy for £10! Ok so you can't feed yourself for a week on this but you can sure buy a nice variety of things to perk up yours or someone else's life... The following items are about to be packed up and sent to a British service woman in Afghanistan:

Pot of black pepper
3 packs of yogurt covered fruit flakes (raspberry, strawberry and blackcurrant)
handy wordsearch book
Mega pack of strawberry sugarfree gum
Lipbalm
bag of sea salt and black pepper cashew nuts
box of 100 spearmint tic tacs
Kiddies sweets (3 bags teeth and lips, strawberry flavour lances and fizzy cola lances)
seven hot chocolate sachets of various types (you can#t send chocolate cos it melts so this is the next best thing!)
Tube of effervescent Vitamin C and Zinc tablets - apparently they help make water taste nicer...

I also have a large bag of tea light candles and if I have room in my box I may put a couple of those in too...

It really helps to go in looking for bargains - if you have no preset ideas of what you are going to buy or which brands to buy. Liquids and meltables are a bad idea. I would like to have gotten some nice toiletries as a treat but i can't imagine they have spare water for baths and solid nice things of other varieties aren't so cheap....

I have in my head kind of set myself a little challenge with the whole charity thing of not buying things off a charity that I don't need, not just giving money and trying to do something different each month, if I can possibly find that many different things to do... I may stretch it to sponsoring a child...

Today I found this charity called Algerian Action who take all sorts of things out to Algeria. They started by taking clothes, blankets and blanket squares and toys for children. They are not fussy about whether you crochet, sew or knit or the standard of your skills. Something even I can contribute to!

Everybody is probably aware of these needs and projects that meet them but the charity has a new project which made me quite sad and was something I had never ever thought of. It seems many women can not afford disposable sanitary towels and are often forced to use black plastic from refuse sacks. A new project has been set up to collect washable pads for these women. How many people would think to try and meet such a basic need? How many charities have missed this because we don't like to think or talk about 'women's issues'?

I can sew in straightish lines. I have a sewing machine I need to learn how to use but I am most comfortable with basic hand sewing. I don't think straight lines matter when making sanitary pads. If I can't use my machine to knock a few together then it is a sad thing! I think I shall try and contribute a few different things to this project over the remainder of my 1001 days.

First though I like the idea of making a babies blanket. I have some bright pieces of fleecy material I am doing nothing with and I am sure i could manage to turn them into a patchwork blanket (probably by hand). I also have an item on my list to make a cuddly toy and another to learn to crochet... I know one, at least, of my local charity shops has a tub of donated wool, if I learn to crochet I can practice making some nice and garish blanket squares at pretty low cost.

If anybody has any other ideas of things that would meet my ideas of things I can do for other months for my charity challenge, I would be grateful...

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Trewidden

I am not sure why, but I became fixed on the idea of visiting this particular garden on my week off. There are so many to choose from and it isn't in my leaflet of gardens I can get a discount to. Nor is it on my doorstep, there are other grand gardens closer.

I was a little upset this morning. F had done an evening and night shift (more a question of going to sleep than working!) only to discover this morning that a member of staff couldn't do the day shift. So he agreed to stay on... Determined not to waste the day, I finished a creative project and then set out...

This garden isn't the biggest, at 15 acres, or the grandest. It is a bit of a woodland garden really. Except the trees are huge specimens of Magnolias, Rhododendrons, Camellias and Azaleas with other rarities thrown in. I had missed the Magnolias and the Camellias and Bluebells had passed their best but the Rhododendrons and Azaleas were in full swing! I suspect the Summer tourists don't get to see this garden anywhere near it's best. I shall go earlier next year to catch the Magnolias as I think they are lovely.

The garden has few open areas, mostly the occasional clearing here and there. One exception is the Walled Garden which is an absolute sun trap. They uncovered some cold frames used for growing vines. These are so rare that no one really knows as yet how this type should be restored as these appear to be the only surviving ones. They slope downwards and they think the vines were placed at the bottom and trained up the frame with the slate below catching the heat.

Tree ferns were planted in one area of the garden but have slowly been spreading themselves around the garden. It is believed to be the best collection of tree ferns in the Northern Hemisphere. They are huge! The snow we had this winter, which is unusual here, killed off a lot of the old leaves but the new growth is sprouting through. During the war a bomb fell and uprooted some of the tree ferns and damaged a tree. The impact crater is still there, full of tree ferns that re-established themselves!

Mining has had an impact in the gardens. An old quarry has been filled with tree ferns and another area of 'burrows' forms a rocky area with little pits and piles of waste. Both areas have been fully reclaimed... The rock garden has a little green pond where I sat and watched a pair of Robins. Another pond elsewhere is much larger and contains a sculpture of a whale's tail.


Mining relics have been turned into various water features with stone casting moulds used for making tin ingots, full of moss and bugs and water. They also have five tin smelting cauldrons and there are very few of these surviving. During the war effort they were melted down but the ones at Trewidden were 'lost' and now make very nice ponds for waterlilies.


I saw very few people and felt very relaxed. The garden had a recommended route but I did take opportunities to go off the beaten path. The less used paths were covered in moss. In fact a lot of things were covered in moss....

I took so many photos it is hard to know which ones to post....

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Charity (Word Wednesday)

This is something I have been thinking about recently. I made one of the things on my 101 things to do list, to 'donate something to charity each month'. What I didn't say is I don't want to give money. I don't mind spending money but... I am not saying I shall not give money at some point but....

So why don't I want to give money? It feels something like giving a beggar cash, not knowing if it will be spent on alcohol or drugs. There is something much more satisfying about the idea of giving or doing something. These things have added value.

I remember when I lived in the City, there was a girl. I never knew her or spoke to her but synchronicity took me across her path several times. The first few times I saw her, she was begging outside a bank. She was in a bad way and obviously was abusing something. These thoughts were confirmed as one time I saw her she was giggling to herself and generally on another planet. She lost weight.

One day I was walking to work. With no car, it was simpler to walk rather than go into the city then out again, even though I did have to walk through some bad areas. But then, to be fair, I lived and worked in bad areas and the places inbetween weren't much different. There was a house on a corner that was unkempt and given some of the people I saw going in and out of it, I had suspicions that it was a rather unpleasant house....

One day I saw a man and a woman arguing. The man was pulling the begging girl from the house. He looked healthy and well as did the woman he was arguing with but the begging girl was so thin she could have been a skeleton. She had no life or will and would have gone anywhere anyone wanted to take her without argument. I got the distinct impression that the man was trying to take the begging girl away from there, to help her, but the woman, probably his girlfriend was against the idea. The man was cross and determined and I walked on by.

The next time I saw the girl she was begging again. This time, however, she looked well and happy and there was hope in the eyes that had previously seemed to hold no life at all. She was with a young man who had the same look. They were young and in love. They were trying, badly to busk and they had a sign behind them saying 'leaving for London, please help with the fare'. This was the last time I saw her and the first time I gave her money.

I don't know why synchronicity took me past her as it did. How I managed to be there at several dreadful points in her life, but I was. But to give her money before I saw her being taken from that house would not have been charity. It would have been death money. She would have used it to carry on killing herself, as she undoubtably was. We never exchanged a word and I was an unseen observer of her life but yet all these years later, I still remember her well.

So charity. If I give, I want to know exactly where and how it will be used. If I can add value to it by extra effort or thought then I would much rather do that. Last month was easy - the local radio station had an appeal on for Easter Eggs to deliver to children in hospitals and hospices. This month however there has been no easy appeal.

One thing keeps coming to my mind though and that is to send an anonymous package to a member of the armed forces serving abroad. I don't agree with war but I know that we are human and I can not see any way of stopping the world from making war. Those men and women who fight do so because they believe it will help their home country and with peace keeping (or restoring) a large part, because they believe they can help.

So what is charity? According to the dictionary it is:
  • Provision of help or relief to the poor
  • Something given to help the needy
  • benevolence or generosity towards others or humanity
  • Indulgence or forebearance in judging others
  • An organisation or institution established to help the needy
So no, I don't have to agree with war, but by sending something to a member of the Armed Forces serving in difficult circumstances, it is charity on several levels. I am not judging, I am being generous, they certainly are needy and in many ways they are poor. I don't think charity should always be an easy or comfortable thing. Sending money off by direct debit feels somehow soul-less.

I found an organisation called Surprise Supplies and they suggest sending goods of a maximum value of £10 to one of two addresses for either Iraq or Afghanistan. This is such a small thing to do, really. It seems that if you do this and take the package into the Post Office, the Royal Mail will not charge postage! I shall believe that when I see it....

For more information....

1, 2 or 3.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Baker's Pit

I gave F warning that when he got home this morning, he could expect to be dragged off somewhere with Little Dog and I. And we did...

We went to Baker's Pit, a Cornwall Wildlife Trust site that lies between St Michael's Mount and St Ives on the old pilgrim's way. The back bone of Cornwall is made of granite and these hills are home to heathland and acid peat bogs. In between the hills lie heavily wooded valleys often with willow carr (a habitat featuring water and willow trees mixed together) and little rivers.

In some places water got into the granite and weathered it. In these places the clay has been weathered into clay deposits. St Austell is famous for it's clay pits and clay tips with the Eden project built in an old pit. I didn't know that other parts of Cornwall had been mined for clay, until today.

Baker's Pit is an old clay pit that sits between granite hills. The water has that orange colour that tells of water draining off from peat. trees grew round the edge of the lake. We sat on a concrete jetty and ate our sandwiches. Little Dog galivanted happily, in and out of the water.


It was a beautiful spot our camera couldn't do justice. The pit would be lovely to explore in a canoe but apart from this small area by the jetty it was inaccessible without causing damage and disruption and possible injury.


We made our way back to the main path and followed a fork that lead through some small fields around the top of the pit. Gates and stiles lead between fields and then into boggier land. The path came here, where it lead through a tiny ruin (on the left). Little Dog was turning into a Bog Dog with black paws and ran through the bog in the picture and back through the ruin several times.

The trees began to clear and we found ourselves on open heath as we neared the top of the hill. Behind us we could see the sea around St Ives. As we reached the top we could see the sea at Mount's Bay. The photo below actually shows Mounts Bay and Penzance....Paths zig zagged all over the area and once we reached the top we started to circle round. We passed fields of cows, mine ruins and a lone chimney. Our sense of direction was good enough that we ended up back at the car. Looking at the map I still can't see exactly where we went. I don't think all the paths and tracks are marked. Looking at the reserve map however we appear to have done the full circuit of the reserve....

It was lovely and Little Dog and F seem rather tired now...

The pits were started, in the main, in the early 1800s but one pit in the area was working in 1758. In 1868 the pits changed owners and pumping began. Sand was separated first and taken away and slurry was placed in settling tanks to separate the clay. The best quality mica rich clay was dried in a kiln. Some of the waste was sent to be made into bricks.

Work stopped for the Great War and never really got going again. It passed into the hands of English China Clays which later became Imerys. Work stopped in 1942. Imerys gifted the site to Cornwall Wildlife Trust in 2000.

Within the reserve there are also Early Bronze Age Barrows, low stony banks from a prehistoric field system and an iron age banjo enclosure (the only one in Cornwall). Banjo enclosures were funnel shaped and probably used for livestock but theories include farming settlements or seasonal ritual centres where feasting occured. I think this counts as an ancient site where people lived....

Fear

As I may have mentioned I have a lovely glorious week off. F doesn't however as he has just started his new job. He is now working shifts and I have to get used to him working evenings and nights as well as days. Some weeks I will see very little of him... This week I would only have seen him one evening after work and the weekend.... Except I took the week off.

Yesterday he left me at midday and returned home this morning. This change has made me realise how dependent I am on him. Not to do things for me, but as company and a rock. In my late teens a few things happened to me and I became a little agoraphobic. I don't think I am agoraphobic really now but I think I will always have this tendency.

In the old job he would have two late finishes a week and he would work every other Sunday. These Sundays would always be days when I would have trouble getting myself going. Getting out of the house can take a fair bit of will power. Getting out when I am by myself takes either purpose or determination. Work or existing arrangements get me out no problem but if I don't HAVE to go out then, I tend not to. I can slowly turn into a hermit. Sometimes I have when I haven't been working.

I have so many things I want to do this week though, I don't want to waste it. Last night it was getting towards 7 and I started to get cross with myself. So I grabbed Little Dog and we went and walked round a local reservoir for an hour. She had a whale of a time and I enjoyed myself to, although i didn't bound around like she did....

If I enjoy going out so much, why is it still so hard to get out by myself?

Monday, 18 May 2009

Working Women....

Tonight I found myself home alone with nothing on our Sky+ box that I wanted to watch that F didn't want to watch too. So I looked to see what was on and came across a series entitled 'The Problem with Working Women'.

Oh my! So much in there kind of fits with what I am thinking and feeling! And with what friends of mine are thinking and feeling out there in blogland..... I can't say as I agreed with everything on the programme but it did explore some of the issues very well and there is more to come....

Some time ago a psychological test was done on young boys and girls. Each child was timed running by themself and then timed running with someone of a similar speed to themselves. The test showed that boys ran quicker when they had competition but the girls ran slower. On the programme they repeated this experiment and found little difference between the sexes. It seems nurture was the reason for the difference because the brain has a plasticity and adapts to the attitudes it is exposed to. Sexual difference in attitudes are largely caused by society and the differences that there are, are not as large as we might have previously believed....

Successful women make a choice. 25% of women with degrees will be childless on their 40th birthday. Women these days often can not afford not to work once they have children. They are the ones which are expected to work flexibly in order to support their family, the ones who sacrifice promotion. A male surgeon featured on the programme had five children but the female surgeon they spoke to had none and was single in her 30s.

In fact sexism is still rife, despite the efforts of the feminists. Women generally don't work on building sites. Women working as investment bankers may be excluded from meetings because they take place in strip clubs or asked to schmooze clients. Men don't often get to work as midwives...

One pioneering feminist said that she had gotten it a little wrong. The women she sees these days are a whole generation of very, very tired women. How sad is that? and how true.... In order to get freedom in the work place they have to juggle far more balls....

I think the programme missed one thing though... It should be a choice, to work or not to work and there is no reason why it shouldn't be the man who is the main carer, who has flexible working to look after the children, who sacrifices their career. But I have known men who when they did become the main carer after being made redundant, just couldn't cope - not because they weren't up to it but because society made them feel like failures for it and non-masculine....

Not all men are alpha males however. An alpha male and an alpha female both trying to work and raise a family is a recipe for disaster it seems... but a working alpha female and a beta male at home? why not.... Times need to carry on changing.... I want to be able to afford to be a stay at home Mum... Another scary stat for you - the more time children spend int he care of non-family members before the age of five, the more aggressive and the less discipline they have in later years... If I can't be at home, then I want F to be home....

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Wiped Out

I am beginning to understand just how tired I have allowed myself to get. Maybe I don't slow down enough. Maybe eating breakfast while on my laptop catching up on blogs is to much. Maybe watching TV while blogging is too much. Maybe trying to squeeze every ounce of activity from a day is too much. Maybe trying to squeeze all these creative projects in is too much.

I don't need more sleep. I think I need some serious just doing nothing time. Literally doing nothing. Maybe one whole day of meditation will be enough so I can get back to doing things. I never really switch my head off. It is not something I find too easy to do.

I enjoy thinking about stuff. I want to do more with my life. How do you do more when there isn't more time? I guess I need to prioritise. I guess serious down time needs to be further up the list of priorities as a regular and important part of my life... So glad I don't have to go to work tomorrow....

Books, Books, Books.....

What author do you own the most books by? I tend to buy as many books as possible by my favourite authors so this is much less about who has written the most and who has written the most. i would say Anne McCaffery. I started reading her many , many years ago and although I like her more recent books less, she has been very prolific....

What books do you own the most copies of? Copies of books? Why? I guess it would have to be a dictionary though... I have more than one of them.

Did it bother you that those questions ended in prepositions? No. Language changes and evolves. Some of the old grammar has become a little out dated I think...

With which fictional character are you secretly in love? Most recently... Edward but their have been others....

Which books have you read the most frequently? Anything by Charles de Lint. Raymond Feist's, Magician. The Winding Stair by Joan Aiken. Howl's Moving Castle by Dianne Wynne Joans. Anne McCaffery's Dragon books.

What was your favourite book when you were ten? Um.... There was some lovely horsey books in my classes little library. I have no idea what they were called..... Well actually I have just been hunting on Amazon and I think it was The Palio: The Wildest Horse race in the World by Maguerite Henry. I also think Sea Star sounds familiar. I also loved My Friend Flicker and a series of books about a girl called Ginny and her red arab stallion.

What is the worst book you've read in the past year? I once started to read a romance but somehow they had managed to print the unedited version. It was awful. The grammar and spelling were so bad it made it unreadable.

What is the best book you've read in the past year? Best> How do you compare apples, pears and strawberries? I have loved The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and also the Time Traveler's Wife. Apart from that there are all my favourites.... I have also loved some children's fiction... The Spook's Apprentice, the Septimus Heap books.... I could go on...

Which book would you most like to see made into a film? Nooooo don't do it! All the richness of the book is lost when it is made into a film. Have you ever read a book that has come out of a film? They are dull and lifeless things...

Which book would you least like to see made into a film? I agree with Mel... Leave them all alone!

What is the most low-brow book you've read as an adult? I do have a liking for tacky romances - there is nothing high brow about them... *grin*

What is the most difficult book you've ever read? Difficult? In what way? H G Wells heavier stuff is tricky to read, very old fashioned language.... I am with Mel on Lord of the Flies - in fact we have previously discussed it! I loathe it. Horrid book.

What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you have ever seen? Not seen any obscure ones....

Do you prefer the French or the Russians? Definitely the Russians! I am English, I couldn't possibly admit to liking the French! *laugh*

Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer? Not read any Milton or Chaucer so has to be Shakespeare....

What is the biggest gap in your reading? None! I read what I fancy reading!

Favourite Novel? eek! how about favourite bookcase?

Poem? The Voyage of the Arctic Tern by Hugh Montgomery. This book deserves a bigger audience. It is a story of ghosts and treasure and pirates based in Plymouth partly. I left in the bathroom and even F read it. Not many long poems would appeal to young boys of late primary age but this one... Gripping story!

Work of non-fiction? I have a set of encyclopedias that are about 100 years old. They badly need refurbishment and are sat at my parents in a cupboard... The pictures are beautiful..... They are fascinating books....

Most influential novel you've read? Influential? On who? On me? No idea.... They all influence me in some way....

Most overrated author? I have to say Phillip Pullman. I didn't enjoy His dark Materials as much as I thought I would. They strike me as being the sorts of childrens classics chosen by adults and appeal to a few very bright literary inclined children... Sorry....

Which less widely read novel would you recommend? I think the books of times gone by should not be forgotten... There are so many little gems new and old but rushing on to find the next best thing means so many so many greats are forgotten. Like Cynthia Harnett for instance - lovely historical childrens books.

What are you reading right now? Re-reading Wind in the Willows... Have a pile of books to read at the mo... Oh, also reading growing fruit an Royal Horticultural Society book.

Eurovision Update

Well I have to say I was pleasantly surprised!

The Russians must have spent a lot of money but they certainly did put on a good show....

The song that won was one I liked. It may or may not have been the best, i can't say, but it was certainly clear that it was the most popular.

There was some political voting but the mix of voting (panel and telephone) meant that it was a lot less prolific. What political voting there was, was less able to affect the outcome. One or two countries received a political 12 but they knew it was without meaning for their song and didn't look so happy.....

We finished on the top half of the board where we belonged! I think the UK is an odd stepping stone in Europe. We don't have the same close ties of say the Scandinavian countries, or ex-communist countries. So we have fewer countries who vote out of friendship or politics. We also would never encourage others to vote for us for the wrong reasons..... It is easy for us to languish at the bottom of the scores.....

The contest is changing. People did not appreciate flagrant abuses of the rules and it showed. One country used the rule that singer had to be on stage and singing live to have a shadowy person at the back while five lovely ladies danced and one of them mimed... The song wasn't bad but people didn't appreciate being played like this. They were pretty near the bottom.

So i think the Eurovision has a future. It is still political but it is back to being a contest again, which is what it needs to be in order to survive.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

A Quilt of People

i am sat here watching the Eurovision Song Contest. For those elsewhere who may not know about this, I shall endeavour to describe it a little...

This is a song contest that takes place in Europe each year. Each country sends someone to perform a song previously unperformed to represent their country. When I was a child it took place on one night but now there are semi-finals over two nights before the final contest. With the dissolution of the old Russia empire and the splitting of some communist countries the number of eligible countries has soared. Some countries from outside normaly accepted borders of Europe also take part, including Israel and Morocco.

Four countries do not take part in the semi-finals because they supply large amounts of cash towards the running of the contest and took part right from the contests beginning. The UK is one of these. I have no idea if this is fair or not really but what definitely isn't fair is the political voting that has in previous years ensured that the best song doesn't win. Certain groups of countries always support each other. Sometimes countries whose relations are less than cordial support each other. Voting can be a fascinating political insight.... In order to try and get away from this half of the score will be from voting and the other from an independent panel this year... Let's hope it becomes a more light hearted contest where the best song is able to win....

Sitting here watching it though. I am reminded of what a tiny part of Europe we are, this little nest of islands. We have our own European culture but we also have much in common with the USA and Canada. It is easy, sat here sometimes, to forget how diverse Europe is. National dress varies, even in glitzy modern form. People look different, Scandinavians are often blond, Italians and Spaniards are often dark haired. Polish people often have very interesting cheekbones.

For all our differences in looks, culture and politics, the contest is a reminder of how much alike we are. United by pop and fashion. Well nearly anyway.... It is like a lovely old patchwork quilt. Maybe some pieces of fabric go well together and others don't but put it altogether and you have something that is sooo much more than any one small part. Each fabric comes with a story or two. I am part of this.

So far I am liking Greece's entry the most but Armenia was pretty good too.....

The UK has become a little disenchanted with the contest though. Terry Wogan, a lovely Irishman, has retired from being our commentator and has been suceeded by another lovely Irishman, Graham Norton. Wogan's comments on the political voting were one of the most amusing parts.....

In an attempt to try and turn it back into a contest the UK have rallied and summoned the very best entry we can... We had a TV series hosted by Andrew Lloyd Webber who has written a song and I think is going to play the piano in the entry too... The winner of the series, Jade, was selected by us and we are behind her all the way.... Maybe we will make it into the top half of the score board this year....

Past

Last night we were out with friends and during the conversation I discovered that one of them had a very different past from the one I expected. His previous jobs were a little more unusual than I expected and possibly a little more on the seedy side too (but not illegal or anything!). Is this a problem? No I don't think so. He is a very, very strong character and I think the things he has done and the places he has been have added to him. He has moved beyond them now and made very different choices. This takes a lot of strength and personality.....

He doesn't hide who he is and he holds no prisoners. If you don't like who he is then that isn't a problem to him. This makes me feel ashamed a little. I don't hide my past but I don't put it out there either. The chances of people guessing, these days, where I have been and what I have done, is slim. I am a large, unfit 30 something lady who doesn't really drink much, enjoys walking her dog and doing crafts. People find it hard to look beyond the now to see the past.... I exploit this I think.

I would like to say I never did anything illegal, but, well that wouldn't be true. The things I did though, were primarily designed to hurt myself and not others. I kept the things I got up to away from family and friends from elsewhere, as far as I could.

So why did this all happen? What happened to the studious, friendly and rather respectable school girl? As normal there was a man or two tied up in it all. At 18 I had an unpleasant boyfriend and his actions destroyed my view of the world forever. I had been very logical and naive in many ways and the strong Christian view of the world I had been taught really did not protect my psyche from his actions. Destroying how someone sees the world so completely was probably not how he intended things to happen but for me it was a hard blow to recover from.

At 19 another man came along and he was a good and nice man who helped me a lot. As my head slowly unravelled he was there and tried to help hold me together. He was however himself a rather disturbed man and he opened some doors in my life that should have remained shut. I chose to walk through.

All these things combined and I unravelled completely, body and soul. I did little but sleep as glandular fever ravaged my body. I began the slow task of putting my mind and body back together. I read. Books of different spiritual systems. Self help books. Anything that might help add another piece to the jigsaw that slowly grew in my head as I healed. This new world view was much more flexible than my old Christian one. It grows and breathes and flexs with me.

My relationship was doomed, as was my life in the city and one day i left never to return to the city really. I think i can count on my fingers and thumbs all the times I have stepped foot in a city since then. I slowly made my way here to Cornwall. Loneliness and a lack of hobbies drove me into a strange life, half party girl, half industrious student. Alcohol played a large part and cigarettes.

It has taken me a long time to get where I am. Who I was no longer shows. People would not guess. I rarely think of it. It is always there though, the past is something we always carry. Do i regret the things I did? No, i don't think I do. I learnt a lot and moved on and became the person I am and they bought me here and I like it here. Would I ever suggest someone do what I did? Not a chance!

I could say more, but I shan't not today. I don't think this subject is dead for me though. I still grieve the girl I was in the long ago before.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

A Friend Indeed

Today i realised that sometimes I am a bad friend. Not intentionally but by accident....

At college there was a little group of four of us that got on and all these years later we are still friends. We will probably always be friends. Since college we don't meet as often as we should. Maybe every few months we get together and we always have a whale of a time. We always say we should do it more often and, well, we never do....

A couple of weeks ago I bumped into one of them, I suggested going for coffee but she didn't have time but we agreed we would another time. Via email we arranged to meet and today was the day. Only three of us could make it.

The third one of us is someone I haven't seen in months and today I discovered that she has been having an awful time and is very, very unhappy. Of course we are here for her to contact but she didn't feel able to. A lack of regular meeting up meant we didn't realise things had gone a little upside down and we weren't around to help.

We have arranged to meet again for coffee after work in a couple of weeks time and hopefully our fourth will be able to make it. I think today bought home to me and the second that we need to do this more because how can we help and be friends to each other and be there if we don't see each other?

Thing is, we have suspected the fourth one of us may have been having problems for a while and she has avoided the last couple of meetings for various reasons.

These people are like family and we all live and work within a relatively small area. We love spending time together. OK, so weekends can be a little busy, but after work is perfect. Even all of our partners get on really well. But you can't be there for someone if you never see or speak to them. Today I realised this has to change.

It!

The task of this tag feels very appropriate today following the current discussion on bliss....

The lovely Ann has tagged me and this tag comes with tasks...

List six things that make you happy and then tag six bloggers.... Again with the no obligation thing....

Soooo happy....

1) Seeing how pleased my dog is to see me when I get in and having a lovely cuddle with her.

2) Having a bath with a good book, some lovely bath products, some chocolate and a cup of tea.

3) A brisk windy walk in the sand dunes when the sand is flying and the sun is thinking about going down.

4) Spending good time with the man, even if we are just in a shop together....

5) When I create something and I actually like it....

6) Eating a really, really gooood meal....

And for the blogs... only 6! How can I choose? I have no criteria to choose by..... And I could choose anyone... I think I should try and only choose those who might want to write about happiness....

So here goes!

Mel
Leone
Sue
Suzi
Moonroot
Sam

It worries me that I am starting to tag the same people but there are two in there who I have never tagged before.... I like tags which say choose so many blogs that such and such.....

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Bliss (Word Wednesday)

Supreme happiness, utter joy or contentment.

OK so in my mind I had an image of bliss as being less about contentment and more about sensation, but no... It is not just happiness and contentment it is way beyond....

So what makes me happy and contented?

A good solid hug.

A sunrise or sunset.

Walking barefoot at the beginning of a summers day and feeling hte dew and mud between my toes.

That feeling on the first day of some time off when you first wake up and then realise you don't have to get out of bed.

A lovely hot bath and a good book.

A good meal.

When S gives me a hug or tells me he loves me.

Making things.

Learning stuff.

Walking barefoot along the edge of the sea.

A windy wild evening and a walk somewhere open.

Bats flying at twilight.

Watching wood peckers feed.

A good evening with friends.

Squeezing a good spot (sorry...)

A good book.

A good film.

Listening to some of my favourite music.

Nature and being out in nature with the sun on my face and wind in my hair.

But bliss? Do any of these thing make me soooo happy, I experience bliss? Have I ever felt bliss?

No, I don't think so.... Am I seeking bliss? No, I don't think so. Seeking bliss conjures up images of hedonistic cretins seeking a chemical high or materialistic fulfilment or both. Ordinary contentment will do me fine.... Maybe if I manage to achieve that all the time, I might start seeking bliss.....

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Woman at Work

It is another day when I don't know what to write. I am sure though that something will appear on the screen - it always seems to. If I can just keep typing. One more letter, after each one. Keeping going... Persevering....

life feels a bit like that right now...

When I get an attack of the hormones, i don't want to slog at work. I want to take life a bit more gently. I want to be one gigantic slob. Maybe a slightly creative or bookish slob but a slob all the same. I don't want to go for a walk, I want to go for a saunter, but I want it to be the only real thing I do all day. I don't want to talk but I do want contact, i want it in the form of nice undemanding hugs.

I came home today and I felt so tired. Is it fair? I don't think so. We are not people of equal effort. Some days we could work for hours and hours and it not be a bad thing and other days just turning up at work is wrong.... I never thought i would envy the women of other cultures who get to go into seclusion at this time.

We are bought up on the assumptions of feminism and the democratic culture that women should be treated equally and this means we can function fully all the time. Of course we can... but... I am not sure we should. Why do I have to prove anything?

Same with childbirth... Women get kicked out of hospital so quickly now. From what my Mum says, the hospital staff used to spend time with new mothers, making sure that they knew how to do the things they needed to, like feeding, burping, changing nappies and bathing. Women didn't have to work and keep house and bring up a family....

Now not all women want to stay home and not all men want to work. Why have so many choices been taken from us in the guise of giving us freedom? I am not saying I don't want to work. I want to be able to respond to my bodies needs. I want to be able to balance my life.

I don't think these set working hours we keep to allow us to honour balance or our womanhood.

But then what do I work for anyway? What does my work achieve? Not a lot of anything real to be honest with you.... Nothing about the work I do feeds anyone, or clothes them. The work i do is really just another link in the big corporate money machine... Definitely not a link in the chain linking us all together in love. Still I get paid and I get a generous holiday allowance, plus bank holidays. I also get training, maybe, in useful industrial skills. I believe once I have been there a while I will be eligible for a nice pension scheme which almost certainly won't support me for the many years I can hope to be retired for... Guess I shall be back there tomorrow then with my aching back and stomach and a dreamy lethargy more suited to spirit journeys than data entry.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Invisible

Sometimes some of my aspects feel invisible. I am some of the time a Mother. I have a stepson who has spent regular time with us since F and I first met (almost - he didn't know about me for a couple of months...). This role, this persona of mine is not recognised or acknowledged...

I never receive a birthday card, in fact I don't think he could tell you what my month my birthday is even in....

I don't receive a Christmas present. F is doing well if he gets a bad bottle of wine...

I don't get to go to Sports Day.

I don't get to go to School Plays.

I don't get cute drawings bought home from school.

I don't ever get a card.

But how does S see me? A couple of weeks a go he says that he likes it at ours best because sometimes we go out. He is still giving me hugs, even in his near teenage-ness, often without me having to ask. He comes and watches TV with me and things sometimes in preference to being with his Dad. He listens to me. He allows me to tease him about girls and things and although he would never admit it publicly, he loves these teasing conversations and gives as good as he gets.

I have tucked him in at night. I have read him stories. I have bought him clothes. I have washed him. I have helped with homework. I have told him off. I have fed him. I have laughed with him. I have cried with him. I have given him money. I have bought him presents. I have cooked for him....

But as a Mother I am invisible.

If anything happened to his mother, although I could never replace him, I could be me and look after him.

Nobody sees me as Mother though. My parents don't send presents for him at Christmas. They often take my sister and her kids out (they live much closer than I do) but they never send money for us to go out somewhere nice with S. They do send me money sometimes but S is below their horizon and they do not see me as a mother either. I don't think they see me as understanding some of the problems and issues of raising children.

As a mother I am invisible. But there must be people out there who are completely invisible....

Beggars on street corners...

Children locked in cellars...

The child in a class who is neither clever or requiring assistance and is quiet.

The women of certain cultures, in certain families....

The person who is abused but those who know are scared of the abuser and look the other way...

People in solitary confinement....

I read or heard a story once about a child who was ignored by everyone. No one saw her anywhere. Slowly she began to fade away until she really was invisible... How sad... I think people would fade away in some way. But I am not ignored, I am acknowledged as an important person in S's life by him in so many ways.

I think there must be people in blogland who feel invisible too. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could find all the new blogs and bloggers somehow and welcome them in?