Life, photos but not the universe

After the party’s over

Eee it’s a bit cold today!

I tried warming up by getting a third load of dishwashing in (from last night’s party excesses) and then gave up and made a large amount of coffee.  Later I realised that in the heat of several moments, last night, we turned the heating off and no-one had turned it back on.  Phew, that’s better.

Last night began with us worrying about the heat of the curries and making a huge amount of extra raita with cucumber, mint and coriander (cool, cool and tasty, respectively) and ended with me making coffee.

Barney likes his curries hotter than quite a lot of people and I like my coffee stronger than nearly everyone in the world (except all those lovely old bearded men in places like Turkey and Greece who drink it in cups the size of a spoon and in which a spoon could balance in the grounds at the bottom of the cup).

Anyway the curry seemed a manageable strength for everyone and then I made coffee for eight.  One (strong) for me, one (“I like it really strong and black”) diluted by half, three (“Oh I like strong coffee”) diluted by about three quarters and one (“could I have it really weak with lots of milk”) with a teaspoonful of coffee topped up with lots of milk and water.  Oh and of course one (“could I have tea oh no that would be a pain I’ll have coffee too”) tea.  Ok, for seven then.  Well actually for six and one tea.  I think I’ve got it right now.  They all seemed to be drinking it.

I used to have a problem with asking for strong tea.  People assumed that I meant quite weak with a little bit of milk whereas I mean really quite strong with quite a lot of milk.  Now I get a similar thing happening when I ask people how strong they like their coffee.  Ooh very strong they say, and a tiny bit of milk.  They mean, of course, quite weak with a little bit of milk.  Different ways of achieving a similar colour in your cup.  And also descriptions of different things.  I’m describing one of the two or three ingredients of a cup of coffee (or tea) and most people are describing the finished product.  It’s so easy to get wires crossed isn’t it : )

Also the magnificent Mr Mills had brought a 47 inch TV screen for us to watch photo shows.  Now it seems to me that you ought to describe TV screens with at least one more dimension and then perhaps manufacturers would have to pay attention to the proportions of what you’re watching.  As it is, everyone gets very enthusiastic about ‘wide screen viewing’ and about that new thing where it’s all very , er, clear? bright? sharp?  Oh yes, High Definition.

Whereas I get very cross about big, wide squat people slithering across miles of wide screen.  I’m exasperated by wild animals with long, thin bodies and short fat legs and I get particularly grumpy about photos, carefully cropped to make the most of the composition, suddenly turning into wide, flat compositions with elongated bridges and weirdly distorted buildings.

And thus I wonder whether, when the optician says people get used to using a different strength of lens in each eye, she actually means people don’t care very much about seeing one and a bit of everything with a touch of blur between them.  Because, so far, my brain is not choosing one lens or the other to look through but insists of using both. And it occurs to me that this isn’t such a bad thing when driving because you need both eyes to judge distance and even slightly blurry distance is better than flat!  On the other hand I don’t think there’s the smallest chance of me getting used to reading a blurry computer screen even though it’s perfectly feasible.  Further, this effect is (quite a lot) worse than useless if you want to know whether the last batch of photos were in focus or not.

Of course, if the optician is able to assure me that people learn to see properly with one eye at a time it probably means I’m just not very good at it.  But if she doesn’t know what people are doing with their odd eyes but they aren’t complaining about it it may be that they just can’t be bothered to judge the quality of their vision any more than they apparently judge the proportions of wide screen viewing.

I have a friend who had laser treatment and joyfully ditched all her glasses and lenses.  It’s making me wonder what laser treatment could do for me.  It’s not that my eyesight is particularly bad.  I can get around well enough without any glasses or lenses though I can’t, legally, drive.  It’s just that I want to see PROPERLY  not just well enough to get around.  (Am I just being unrealistic?)

See that little row of houses along the edge of the field?  I drive along a road on the other side of them nearly every day and I never realised all this was behind them.  It’s nice to see a new view.

Anyway, it’s time to put the lenses back in.  Yesterday was their day off (once a week, they have to have a day off, I was told) so maybe today the brain will get the idea.

November 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Has anybody lost some weight

I think I’ve found it.

Oh dear!  I think I may have to do something about this.  Advertise perhaps – about a stone and a half of  weight , free to collect.  Unwanted gift?

The other day it rained steadily and the tumble dryer steamed up the windows nicely. But every now and then you could feel the atmosphere lightening a bit and a tentative thread of sunlight made it all look freshly washed.

Been like this on and off for a few days but today it’s sunny and windy and fresh.

The leaves are carpeting the roadsides and the russet oak trees are getting threadbare against clouds shaded from indigo to white.

And then, at night, it’s been quite clear when I take the dog out.  We amble across the field, shivering a bit after a day in the warm fugginess and I enjoy the stars and he enjoys the smells .  The moon has also been up, both fat and round and tiny and crescent-shaped.  All the more magical for the contrast with the damp days and the odd softly foggy night When owls sound very near and sudden and the sound of water dripping  from the trees can be heard right across the field.

Last night, out of an almost clear sky with a few, very white, moonlit clouds, there was suddenly a silent flash of lightning on the horizon.  Or maybe it was a meteor arriving?  A UFO (Unidentified flashing object).  Then an owl flew over our heads, so close I could almost feel the air movement.  Actually it seemed like a good moment to go back inside.  Silent lightning is aways a tiny bit disconcerting (and a UFO would be even more so).

I need coffee now.  I’ve been trying to be out with the camera when those moments of sunshine happen.  So far I haven’t managed very many.  But it’s been nice going out to look.




Tonight, I went out  to a Newbury Flickr group meet.  It’s quite fun in a gentle sort of way.  The Newbury group is quite – parochial. But the two lads who run the group are very likable and make me feel a bit motherly.  Or perhaps, as I’m definitely not the maternal kind, like a good old fashioned Auntie : )

There was a time when I was horrified that I had sort of* nieces and nephews who might call me Auntie.  It had a decidedly old and wrinkled feel to it the idea of being an Auntie.  Things change.

Anyway, tomorrow night is the night when all the canal holiday companions are coming over for curry and mind-numbing photo viewing.  I’ve ‘created’, as Picasa puts it, a ‘video’ **(Picasa’s description again) of a selection of photos and my lovely photographer friend, the Gem, has a selection to bring as well.  Marvellous Mr Mills is bringing a big screen and we’re all going to sit and relive the wonders of the canals.  And eat lots of curry.

Well there’s a good bit of tidying and cleaning to do.  Perhaps I can throw out some of that unwanted weight while I’m at it. Also, the other day Barney tidied away all his heaps of clothes – I couldn’t believe it when I saw the empty floor.  Until I saw the full washing basket : )

Here’s a  link to some rather wonderful photos of change in China along the Yangtze River.  I almost wonder whether to tell Barney I’d like to go there instead of Venice for my 60th birthday.

But there are waters and magic in sinking Venice too.   What a fabulous, beautiful world we still have.  Oh I so hope the luck or intent that gave us this planet to call home won’t run out.  I so hope that we haven’t taken greed and blindness so far that it’s too late to keep the magic of wildernesses.

*Some of them were the children of my half sister and some of them, of my step sisters.  (Who happened also to be my cousins.  My family tree is decidedly convoluted and unconventional)

**This means a slideshow interspersed with a few text slides.  I could add music – at least Picasa says I could.  I’m not sure how but it would be fun if I can find time to work out how to do it 🙂

November 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

domestic science.

Barney had a trouser hem come undone and I sewed it up for him.  This sounds like a very ordinary thing to do but in my case it’s not, as I dislike sewing.  Also I claim to be very bad at it and thus was very surprised when, one day, my Mother-in-Law said “but you sew beautifully Mig”.   I was less surprised when I saw some of her sewing a while later.  There were many things she was very good at but sewing was not one of them.  Ah, I miss her.  She was a lovely, funny, uninhibited lady.

I can still thread a needle with my bare eyes*.  It’s a bit hit and miss these days but as long as you point the thread at the right bit of needle and keep them all outlined against a contrasting background it seems to go in all right.  When I can’t do that I’ll know I’m in trouble as I’m short, not long, sighted.

So,  domestic science.**  That was a game.  The Domestic Science  teacher tried hard to teach us how to make the necessary dishes and garments to get through the end of term exams.  (She even tried hard with me and I seem to remember she quite liked me even though I must have been her least promising student in years).   I particularly remember the rock cakes (more than usually aptly named in my case) and the Steak and Kidney- er- rock.  No – pie.  Yes it was definitely pie-shaped.  The rock cakes were always given to the woodwork boys after the lesson (don’t ask!  But I was furious.  I wanted to eat them.) and the steak and kidney rock pie didn’t get eaten.  Not just because of the strength of the pastry (I should have taken it over to the woodwork class) but because of its greyness.  Something to do with an art class immediately before Domestic science.  Paint covered fingers, see.***  And, because I was a slow learner (and an even slower worker), my filling didn’t go into the oven in time to cook properly so it was very, very tough.  It took me a few years to learn how to cook but once I’d got the idea (and was allowed to eat my culinary works myself) it seemed to work really quite well.

Then there was the dress.  I have to say I quite enjoyed choosing the material and the design. Cutting out and  pinning – no problem.  (As far as one could tell, since there never was a finished result to see if it had been done right).  Tacking wasn’t great but at least you could get away with making very long stitches.  I think I got most of it tacked together eventually.   It was the sewing that brought the whole thing to a halt.  There weren’t enough sewing machines for all of us, naturally, so we had to take turns.  Being neither big, strong, noisy or popular, I rarely got near the machines and when a chance came up I was usually too busy not doing something I ought to be doing to grab my turn or I took so long to thread the machine that my turn ran out before I got to actually sew anything.  And then of course it just had to be done by hand.

To be honest, I think my Mum should have cheated and done it for me at home, or at least sat with me and encouraged a bit.  But I don’t blame her for not doing it.  She had enough on her plate already and I wouldn’t have responded with any enthusiasm.  I was quite a pain in the arse in those days.   (Funny thing, she agreed to make my wedding dress and we did really well at the choosing of design and material and then she just ran out of energy and I pretty well made the whole thing.  It was blue velvet and rather splendidly medieval looking.  Quite a success.)

It’s pouring with rain.  This is quite good in a way because that’s what the weather forecast said it would do.  And later, it said there would be sunny spells.

Like this perhaps?

No I thought not.

Oh well : )

I hope you’re all tucked in somewhere warm and dry.


*No no, obviously not with the actual eyes!

**that’s what we called cookery lessons at school, long ago – I recall wondering why the boys weren’t doing construction science, ie woodwork.

***Yes, yes I know I was supposed to wash my hands before cooking but good heavens, I was always late without the added time wasting of hand washing.  Just as well the rock cakes got eaten by the boys and nobody ate the rock pie then.

November 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I’m all cock-eyed

Or maybe cross-eyed.

I’ve got  my trial contact lenses.  In.  In my eyes even.

One lens for distance and one lens for music, computer and focussing the camera.  (and reading glasses on top for anything closer)

My brain is supposed to be deciding which eye to use and at the moment it seems to prefer using the distance eye.  It’s supposed to be learning how to decide, presumably by choosing the best vision but since it keeps getting it wrong at the shorter distance, it’s not getting the best feedback.

Hmm.  I think I’m going to stop doing this for a while.  It’s really hard to do anything with a hand over one eye.

Getting them in (if they are in*) was easy.  Later, I’m going to have to get them out – wish me luck!

I’m trying to upload a photo….  Hang on….


*Because of course it’s quite hard to tell.

November 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

The wind

Under your tail, downhill and following, out of your sails, in your hair, thru the trees, of your passing ….. er,  just behind the car and getting louder and closer??   I don’t think so.  I think the car is losing another set of marbles.  Or to be less  approximate, it’s losing it’s bearings.

Last time a set of bearings went, it sounded as if there was an aeroplane following me down the road.  At present, it’s just a gentle whooo-ing.  No problem, we’re having it MOT’d in a couple of days and I’m hoping the wheel won’t fall off before then.

Speaking of wind, hasn’t it been stormy recently.

Oh and moving in a swift circle, look what I found!!!  It’s not quite as cool as the tiny mobile phone would be but definitely a step in the right direction.  That’s going on the christmas list and what’s more, it’s going in the stocking of a certain key-findingly challenged person.  However, the credit card bit will live in a safe place.  Like on the key hook.  (He has a habit of putting his wallet in pockets out of which it falls (as the pockets aren’t quite deep enough to accommodate it.  And we’ve already covered the actual pockets here.

One of the useful things I got done the other day was to book an eye test.  Not before time it seems as they assure me the last time I saw them was five years ago.  We addressed the vexed question (it’s been vexing me anyway) of camera viewfinders and had quite a lot of fun adjusting the viewfinder to fit my eyesight and then, for comparison, the optician’s eyesight.  We came up with contact lenses and blow me if they aren’t doing free trials.  (the last time I tried contacts, soft ones had a bit of a bad press and the semi permeable ones I used kept making little bulges on my eyeballs.  Things have moved on, it seems and maybe I could use them without acquiring permanent contact lens shaped bobbles)

And nice new glasses as well.  Ho Ho 🙂  Things may be looking up.  My eyes may be anyway.

I’m going to try uploading a photo.  It’s been very hit and miss recently but you never know…..


I may have to approach the help forums.

Oh bother!


Hit 🙂

November 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Been thinking

About missing stuff (of which I have a great quantity)

I believe someone ought to invent a very tiny mobile phone extension which you could attach to your keys, glasses, wallet/purse, loaned book/cd/tape ……

It wouldn’t need to have any speaking abilities.  All it would need was to ring when someone phoned its number.  Surely, since it would be such a little piece of technology, it could be smaller than a credit card or even smaller than a sim card?   Then whenever you lost any of those small but important things you could just phone them.  True, all your other small important things would answer too but this would just add to the surreal delight of phoning your keys (etc etc).  I suppose you could have a different number for each one that you attached to things but I think it would be funnier to have a single one so whenever you lost your keys, all your small, precious things would answer, like saying “bingle bingle,  I’m here, I’m here!!!”

And wouldn’t it be funny, when you lost your keys, all your friends would be ringing you back saying, “hey I just realised I’ve still got that book/CD/credit card/(what???)/coat you lent me.  did you want it back?”

Imagine, if you like, entering a tunnel and seeing far away, the gleam of a distant light.  the deep echoing thump of your engine drowns out the sound of the approaching boat


but as you get closer and deeper into the tunnel, the light becomes bigger and brighter and the echoes have an echo


then you notice that as well as the sound of two engines, growing louder all the time, and the brightness of the lights, there’s another sound which gradually clarifies into a third beat, of a …. Rock band???

(There ought to be another photo here but it won’t upload)

Louder and louder, the beat of a different drum drowns out the engines and as you are still being astonished and just able to make out the gesticulating figures, attired in a decidedly anachronistic way,


it booms past you, rattling the roof ,


We had to admit, the tunnel was a very effective amplifier!

November 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Dreaming Fart Day

I spent a lot of yesterday wandering around vaguely, like a fart in a dream, forgetting what I ought to be doing.  I’m very good at that.  So it was a DFD.

Today, however, I got lots of useful stuff done thus overcoming the inertia generated by several weeks of procrastination.   I don’t have a suitably silly expression for one of those days. Wind of something or other?   Tons of Nitrogen?  Jet Propelled Purposefulness?  TNT?   What is TNT?  I can’t remember – I’ve never been good at acronyms.

Barney has a talent for losing keys.  It’s one of his endearingly exasperating traits.  He is able to lose a set of keys while walking between the pickup and the sitting room door without pausing in between and it can be done in about three minutes.  Sometimes it takes even me several days to find them even though there are very few places he could have left them.  This is partly because he won’t keep all his keys on one ring and partly because many of his pockets have specially designed gaps so he can access more pockets inside them and through which things can fall between and out and down to the floor.  Anyway, today he lost the shed keys in the usual place, somewhere between the pickup truck and the dining room table.  We haven’t found them yet.  Isn’t it good that he has another set to lose use.

Meanwhile, I’m letting  the household machinery multi all my tasks for me.  The computer is downloading and installing an AVG anti virus update, the cooker is keeping something warm, the microwave is making someting hot and Ooops, it’s time dinner was ready!  I’d better save that ciggie I was making  (while everything did everything else for me) for later when I’m having a nice after-dinner read, lying on my tummy in the music room (which has a deliciously thick, soft, red carpet).

Well I was going to post a picture but WordPress did a funny and the picture vanished as soon as it finished uploading.  Eventually I persuaded it.*

DSC_7706And I was going to go to bed some time ago but I hate the computer to get the better of me.

I read a rather sweet book this evening, Temeraire by Naomi Novak.  It’s about a frightlfully decent chap who quite inadvertantly finds himself in charge of a rather nice dragon.  The book is almost a text book on how to be jolly decent and sensible and thoughtful and thus win the affection and respect of dragons and all kinds of less thoughtful chaps in the rest of the military dragon world and meanwhile win a bit of the old fame and a bit more respect in battles with Napoleon’s dragons and so on.  Really sweet.  In stark contrast to Fay Weldon’s ‘She may not leave’ which is positively wicked!  Gently and inexorably describing  the selfishness of a large number of people and leaving you quite breathless with the final twist which is too wicked to even think about.  I put it down and all I could say was “Well!”

And after some consideration “Well really!”


And finally, just to complete the strangeness of a day in which I got lots of useful stuff done, the dog got up just now, had a large drink and then, without bothering to pause and bother me, went out to the utility room and neatly and carefully – and extensively – peed in the cat’s litter tray.


Well really!!!!

I’m a bit stuck for words as you can see.

I shall go to bed before I start repeating myself too much.

But really!!?

*Or maybe not.  It comes up ok if I click on it but doesn’t at the moment, appear in the blog.  Perhaps it will tomorrow.

*Oh well.  It hasn’t appeared today and the computer got the better of me after all.  You just have to take these things as they come.  Or as they don’t come.  At the moment, flickr uploader is refusing to upload some more photos.

November 12, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Look, look what I got given!!!!

Isn’t that just the nicest thing : )

And what’s more I got a postcard!!! From LA 🙂

I am so lucky to know the people I do.  Particularly this person ((((((((((( I )))))))))))))

I’m currently deeply involved in finishing the holiday photo sorting and making an idiot proof list of instructions for a very nice sounding man who’s going to put all our holiday, party and wedding mini tapes onto DVD for us.  I don’t think it is really idiot proof but he sounded very sensible and promised to contact me if he didn’t understand anything so maybe it’ll be enough.

Anyway, what with the drizzle, the cold, and the inevitable results of having procrastinated too long, far from finding it hard to confine  myself to one photo a day, I’m finding it hard to take any at all!  Tomorrow I’ll look through some older ones, but tonight I’m just going to say

Sleep well.

November 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

In which I take a photo

Fireworks going off all over the place tonight and having been warned by the neighbours that they were letting off some for their grandchildren, I carefully checked that both cats were safe indoors.  Only little black and white Tosca sneaked out about two minutes before they began.  So I just hope she’s no where near the road.

Worse than children!

Speaking of which, we had a wonderful evening with all three of ours and their two partners.  (Sadly, Eldest and his lovely Northern Lass have split up, but amicably so we hope that we will occasionally see her again).  Even so, it was one of the nicest times we’ve had as a family for ages.  We ate a huge meal and then all went to the pub to play cribbage.  Then came home and stayed up, probably far too late chatting and arguing happily.  Certainly Eldest and I stayed up too late the evening before when he arrived but then we don’t see him often so it takes a while to catch up.

They are a most lovable bunch and their company is a delight.  We are so so lucky to have them and privileged to spend time with them.

One of the things Eldest and I talked about was photography and he suggested that I should confine myself to one single photo a day  (for a week perhaps).  As a challenge and as a way to hone my technique and sharpen my critical eye!!!! (Something like that anyway)

So there is only one photo of the evening taken by me, though Youngest was very keen to avail herself of my unused camera and did a lot of snapping.  While mine, which I decided needed to be a family photo, came to grief since, being in a slightly merry and uproarious state, no one paid attention to my instructions and they all started saying surely it can’t still be taking a photo and waving their arms around and turning their heads in mid-exposure.  As a result, my posed photo ended up as a collection of blurry arm and head movements with an impressively sharp, clear and detailed table in the middle of them all.  So I learnt some useful lessons!  You can tell who was listening to me by the fact that their faces are more or less in focus.

Ah! well you can’t because it wont upload.   Hmm.

Aha!  but the black and white version will.  You’ll see that Mr Middle’s head appears to be entwined with a lamp.  This was not deliberate on either part and seemed not to affect head or lamp significantly.  Mr Youngest and Mrs Middle clearly did believe me when I said the shutter was still open.  Barney and Youngest obviously felt that if they stopped waving their heads around they’d still be in the shot even if their previous arguing and gesturing were too in a ghostly form.


Well, I’ve just looked at the rest of the photos and I see that Youngest has taken some good ones.  So that’s ok.

Eldest’s hat appears to have been a favourite subject.  It’s a very good hat.



That’s me in the middle – with Mr Middle.


That’s himself, I have no idea what he thought he was doing.



Now I have to go to sleep so I’ll go bedwards.  This is not the best place for sleeping.

‘Night  🙂

Update:  In case you were worrying, little black and white Tosca reappeared later with a butter wouldn’t melt expression, apparently unconcerned about fireworks or anything else.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

A minor inconvenience

Toothache.  Minor.  Right.

Actually, last time I had this particular form of toothache the dentist said you’ve got a bone infection (!) and I’m trying to remember if that was before or after I had that (this) particular tooth crowned.  Because I did and if that was what saved it last time, it won’t save it a second time.  And I really need this tooth!

So after a day of brutal attacks with all the vilest tasting mouthwashes known to me and feverish scrubbings and soakings at every opportunity and the largest possible number of the strongest painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs I possess it seemed, if possible to be raging rather more.  When I went to bed, heavily dosed with paracetamol (having consumed as much nurofen as my stomach would handle), I swore at it and promised it dire treatments if it didn’t shut up and settle down (feeling sure the dentist would oblige on this if it didn’t).

When I got up this morning it was definitely worse.  So half way through the day, I gave in and phoned for an urgent appointment  (not available till Friday).  Then took some more paracetamol, and ate a scrambled egg – very carefully, no chewing- before embarking on some more soaking and scrubbing and cursing.

Then, thoroughly wound up by the wrath and imprecations I’d been hurling at my mouth (this is difficult in as much as the imprecations and most of the expressiveness of the wrath were coming from the very direction in which I wished to hurl them – mirrors and voice throwing were used together with a lot of imagination), I tackled one of the tasks on my enormous list.  When the paracetamol was in  mid-effectiveness it was possible to ignore all the horrible imaginings and throbbings coming from my jaw and even easier if  I found something else unwelcome to think about.

Later, feeling quite reckless and completely sure that the offending tooth would shortly be dragged out, leaving me with not enough teeth for any kind of sensible eating ever again (and nowhere left to which dentures could be attached), I made myself soup for dinner and looked longingly at Barney’s stew.  Then I drank several glasses of wine (which is undoubtedly a Very Bad Thing To Do in cases of infection).

Then I fell asleep watching several unusually interesting programmes* which I enjoyed dreaming about even if I didn’t quite follow what was really being shown.

Funny thing is, it seems to be settling down now.  Perhaps I was over-reacting?  I hope so because I’ve run out of oil of cloves.

Well I was going to sulk because Eldest is coming down for the weekend and Youngest and Mrs Middle and most of their partners are coming over for dinner.  I hate the thought of struggling with toothache when Eldest is around (I need all my wits around me when he’s here) and Youngest will certainly bring some really nice wine on Friday and if I go to the Dentist he’ll probably give me antibiotics so I won’t be able to drink it.  Maybe it was that thought that drove the toothache into hiding.  Maybe it’s even fled altogether.  Maybe I was just making a huge fuss over nothing much?

Or maybe it’ll be back 😦 **

Two moons




See you later : )


*Wildlife on the Zambezi River around the Victoria Falls, something about Bison in North America and The Making of Modern Britain. (Or whatever it’s called)

**Update – not back – I feel sheepish : )  That’s fine, I can handle sheepish a lot better than toothache!  However, I’m still sulking a bit because the horrible mouthwashes mean I have no idea what the meals I’m cooking taste like.  And it’s really a pain (though not so painful) eating on one side!!

November 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments