Life, photos but not the universe

Jam today – who cares about tomorrow.

So today, I had two teeth removed, (frighteningly easy, the nurse said) I ate one yoghurt, one banana and two bowls of soup (Chicken Noodle with the noodles and chicken removed though later I slurped the noodles down very carefully – woman cannot live by liquid alone).

Then I didn’t go to a fiddle lesson, anticipating huge discomfort when the anesthetic had worn off. I also took my last antibiotic capsule.  This means in theory I can drink again.  In practice I didn’t dare till just now when it seemed that all the anesthetic has gone and my mouth hasn’t started up a rock band all of its own.

Well!  Am I a jammy bugger or what?  We’ll find out tomorrow, no doubt.

Then, me and the dog went out in the dazzlingly bright moonlight.  And we liked it so much, we did it again later in the moonlight and frost!

And earlier, I went out and as I was about to leave, I saw this quite nice sky out back.  Oh, just a quick photo, I thought.  When I looked at it just now I realised I’d caught me a moon!  Quite a big one.

Oh and it snowed a little bit.

You wouldn’t believe how much trial and error (and photoshop) went into a photo with snowflakes falling but without lots of big blobs of it getting in the way.  Not beautiful but nonetheless I’m proud of the result.  There are white snowflakes in the sky!

Definitely jammy.

On the tooth front, apart from the possibility of the drink having its revenge tomorrow morning, there’s more to come.  Me and Mr Dentist discussed and agreed a strategy to save the one I really need and once the euphoria of not having extreme pain and distress today has worn off I suppose I’ll have to go back into acute anxiety/apprehension mode but for now I’m really quite a cheerful bunny.

Sleep very well and have really lovely dreams and wake up ‘freshed in the morning.  Really.  Do.

January 30, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Every community should have some

Some things without which humankind would not be what it is today:






Some more things – of a different nature?






Yet more things – the difference being  in a whole order of magnitude






I’m not a scientist or a philosopher so my categories are very rough and ready.  I’m sure a trained thinker would order these things a little differently and more appositely but I liked them to be in fives.  I know there’s a fourth category which some would call God and some would call religion.  I might call it adaptiveness, or seeking understanding or something like that.  And a fifth called curiosity or deduction.  Or something like that.

But let’s not go into metaphysics or the deeper questions.

Just, at times, all the above have been considered essential.  At times, a nuisance.  At other  times, dangerous, even in some cases, wicked.

The only thing that binds all these inconsistencies together is humankind.


Oh well, let’s go into deeper questions after all.

I was thinking, many of the things which I and most of my friends and aquaitances, revile and loathe and fear, like violence, cruelty and callousness have been essential survival tools for humankind for millennia.  As the above listed things have been essential resources.  Compassion and imagination has also been an essential tool and resource for the growth of communities during that time and I strongly suspect that our ancestors indulged in these at least as much as we do both for pragmatic and comfort reasons.  Co-operation doesn’t work well without them and one of the things that humans do almost as well as animals, is co-operating.  Another is survival.

Another thing which we share with the rest of life on Earth, is a kind of fatalistic drifting up and down on the tides of bounty and deprivation which the Earth offers us.  As we multiply and are perhaps a little too fruitful, the uncountable billions of other people in the world merge into our perception of those tides.  We’re not really equipped to understand the concept of each one of those billion ‘others’ being an individual.  So the compassionate, imaginative and co-operative skills of many are being gradually eroded by sheer numbers.  And so are the skills of violence, cruelty and fear.  The impulses remain but the ability to use them appropriately becomes more and more diffuse and confused.

I suppose, being brought up with Desmond Morris and Darwin gives our generation a tendency to look at ‘the whole world’ with a degree of  detachment, somewhat dispassionately.   But confronted with an individual, we are still, suddenly awash in a sea of emotions and needs in which our navigational aids have become entangled with each other.

On the other hand, the sudden outburst of communication via the internet and the subsequent sense of  intimate connection to physical strangers in far off communities has given us the opportunity to see another view.  A view of ourselves on the other side of a mirror.  The view that used to tell us that we are we and other is other.  Across the sea the map used to say ‘here be foreigners‘ and they’re not a lot different from dragons.  Now the map says,’ here be you‘ and you look a lot like me.  And you can peer into the mirror looking for things to define the difference between you and the ‘other’ but the mirror only shows you yourself – just as it always did.

And perhaps it’s worth noting that most of us think we’re the only ones who are really trying to make the world a better place – even terrorists, thugs, murderers and all those ‘others’ to whom you and I are merely ‘other’.  A whole lot more of us are trying to keep the world as it was because we think it was better that way.

To go back to that list then.  I missed out communication.  Not intentionally – I just hadn’t thought about it.  Those tools and resources which we’ve had for a long time, together with communication (and probably a few other things I didn’t think of) haven’t made us all that special really.  Like birds, we flock and squabble and peck.  Like Apes, we gather and groom and chatter.  Like Elephants, we plan and remember and protect.  Like dolphins and whales we sing and talk across oceans.  We treat  the stuff on that list (as long we have access to it)  as part of the Earth’s bounty.  And we mistreat most of it too.  And yet, now and then, we use some of those things wisely and now and then we indulge in mighty outbursts of compassion, imagination and co-operation.

So it’s not all good, how we use our tools and resources and I don’t need to go into any detail about that,  but it’s not all bad either.

And since I am not particularly good at thinking, that’s where I give up and return exhaustedly (after so much thought) to the bounty of my own patch of Earth.

Well a borrowed patch from the Grand Onion Canal in December.

January 28, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 3 Comments

Soft food and mild weather

The mild weather seems to have given way to a touch of frost tonight. Still, the way the weather has been over the last few years, I wan’t much surprised today, to hear the sounds of birds quarreling outside the window.  Three blackbirds were having a good old barney and there was a lot of decidedly spiteful chasing and pecking going on.  I imagine, over territory, in preparation for Spring.

And on QI, the other day, we learnt a surprising fact.  It seems that Spring (as indicated by its effects on flora and fauna) moves Northwards up the country at a rate of 1/2 a mile an hour, taking eight weeks* to travel from the Southern tip of England to its furthest Northern extremities (The Orkneys?  Hebrides? One of those anyway).  So when your spring buds and sap start rising in Cornwall, it’ll be eight weeks before the same thing happens on the far Northern coasts.

How about that?  You could walk faster than Spring is sprung : )  Makes me feel quite young and limber! (as long as I sit still while I think about it).

Sadly, I’m back on yoghurt, bananas and soup.  (note to self – get bananas) My abcess has returned.  So now, I have to dole out antibiotics to the dog and me as well as his aspirin mixture.  Since him and me are both on amoxycillin, I need to remember that the big pink ones, twice a day, are for him and the small yellow ones, three times a day, are for me.  Must get the doses right!  Mustn’t give him three and me two.  Must remember to take mine with food.  Mustn’t confuse my breakfast with his snack!  Ooh, this is going to confuse me a lot!  Definitely mustn’t give him my paracetamol or me, his aspirin.

If Barney gets ill we will be in trouble!  If the cat gets ill I shall leave home! (taking my pills with me and leaving everyone elses’ pill behind).

However, the best thing is, the antibiotics, or the aspirin (or both) are doing the dog a power of good.  He’s got quite frisky and is able to get underfoot much faster than he was last week.  Fortunately he’s also faster at getting out from under when he trips me up.

The edge of the woods at twilight.

The open road (though not quite as envisaged by Mr Toad)

*I’m not sure about that – but it seems to work out fairly close if you look up the length of the country.  I would have said it was closer to seven weeks  but maybe Spring gets held up crossing mountains and such.

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I really shouldn’t blog before I’ve had some coffee

I need that coffee to wipe the sleep out of my eyes and the grumpy out of my head! (not that I’d waste any coffee on eye-wiping).

It’s a funny thing but as I get (a little bit) older, I seem to be quite unable to get up unless I’ve had a good eight hours sleep. Ridiculous.  I’m sure I used to manage fine on anything from four to fourteen, randomly arranged across an average month.

Oh well. Me and the little nutcase both.

Him and me, trekked to the vet’s today and by the time he’d run round and round the pee post and knotted his lead up thoroughly and poohed on the (pooh?)lawn – such thoughtful people the vets – and been cleared up after and unknotted, we were both wheezing a bit.  Then we went in and his tail vanished, as it does when we go there, and after wondering why the waiting room (so full of enticing smells) made him feel so deeply depressed and anxious, he got the call to enter the surgery and he remembered the whole thing about that special room where once upon a time his toenails, his dignity and his person were ravished by strange people who later sat on him and stuck needles in him and made him feel very very sick.

Well he didn’t, clearly, remember <i>all</i> that because he didn’t, this time, curl up in a small ball under a chair and watch the evil people out of one disney-dog eye, but mooched around nervously, giving the vet mistrustful looks.

Since she was a kind and sensitive person,and was prepared to treat him respectfully, all he got was felt a lot and listened to.  No injections, no ravishing or penetrating of any of his orifices.  As a result he behaved very well and we went home with some antibiotics and a kind of aspirin for dogs which might bring down any temperatures he may have and will probably help with his probably achy joints to boot.  He was pronounced good for his age and while he might, if the antibiotics do no good, need an xray later on, for now, he’s saved.  And hasn’t been too  much alarmed by this latest visit to the den of iniquity.  Even, he accepted a couple of treats and snuffled around after the vet when she went to get his medication.  I think it puzzled him a bit, that we went to the terrible place and nothing terrible happened!

The other thing of note, that I’ve done recently, is to set up a Redbubble account with which I can sell stuff – photos even.  Redbubble displays the photos and offers prints, framed or matted or mounted or on canvas and greeting cards for sale.  They charge the customer a base rate and I, the, um, the other thing,  Oh, the artist of course, add whatever mark-up I feel I can get.  Also they provide a facility to create a website for a more elegant display of the art work.

Should you be at all interested (though you’ve probably seen most of what’s on the website at the moment) there’s a nice new link over on the left somewhere.  Yep!  That works.

Once a week I shall get an email telling me how many visits I’ve had and how many pieces I’ve sold.  Hmm.  Proof, pudding and eating come to mind.  But it all looks quite nice so for the moment I’m pleased.

As I said, it snowed yesterday.  I spent a few minutes in a concerted effort to catch the actual snow, falling.  I’m glad I did because today it’s all gone.

Sleep well.

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Fresh out of titles – make up your own?

I’ve stocked up with a bit of extra shopping as they’re promising more snow.

I’ve finished the Elegance of the Hedgehog and it was good.

I’ve made the dog an appointment with the vet.

The Bin men came!!!!

It’s all been a bit tiring.

On Sunday, we went to the Pot Kiln and excitedly shared snowed-in stories with every one else.  This was so exciting that when I said I ought to go home and check the dinner, everyone said “Oh no – it’ll be fine” .  So we stayed a lot longer and then it was quite seriously overdone.  Not burnt, very tasty but quite dry.  So I followed Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s suggestion for leftover pork and fried some chunks of it yesterday (in lots and lots of olive oil) and I have to say this was a very good idea.  As was keeping it warm in a hastily concocted cream and wine sauce.   I am good at hastily concocting sauces.

Of course, last night (after making the vet’s appointment) the little nutcase trotted up the road with enthusiasm and back home with reluctance but few signs of distressed breathing.

I’m pretty sure it’s asthma – I don’t like to consider other possibilities like cancer – I just discovered that because he hasn’t had an annual dental check up (!!!) his insurance is probably invalid. Last time he went to the vet, they politely declined to take his temperature or investigate his mouth in any way in case he responded in kind.

I wonder if the hugely increased incidence of hoovering just lately (log basket leaving a twiggy trail, boots coming in from the snowy outdoors and a lot of visitors just around Christmas and NYE), may have stirred up allergens and caused the increase in dog wheezing.

Anyway, it’s snowing again.  Sort of wetly so I don’t think we’re going to be shut in again which is a relief, though it would have been nice to have had another few fairytale days.

Right.  I’m in the middle of a new venture about which I shall let you know, shortly.  It’s hurting my brain somewhat.  Oh and I must make a note of the password and username quickly before I forget!

Goodnight, sleep tight, I won’t mention bugs in case it makes you think they bite.

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

News, good bad and forgotten

Well the good news, obviously, is that ‘shot is back.  It may have taken me a month or two to notice (Chrome doesn’t support RSS feeds yet) but it’s wonderful to see his blog again.  Also I’ve successfully updated my widget page (WordPress does support RSS feeds : ) which is so clever of me.  (Really, it is).

The bad news is that our dear old idiot Nutcase dog is not very well.  He’s been wheezing a good deal for a while and finding long walks a bit strenuous but last night when I took him up the road, he could barely make it back  and I could see him straining to get his breath.  Perhaps it’s just asthma.  Trip to the vet to be organised.  (He hates these just as much as Mandu did but he’s a good deal more robust than she was and I’m hopeful they will have something to help him)

Other bad news comes regularly about the tragedies in Haiti and I find it hard to enjoy our comfortable life when hearing about the appalling suffering over there.

So I was reading a discussion thread on Flickr about Haiti and came upon a link relating to the war in the Congo.  Forgotten by the media, this war has been going on for many years and as my Flickr friend says

Why do we get no media attention on the war in the Congo, which in terms of implication, duration, intractability, casualties and horror is of a different order of magnitude from what has happened in Haiti?

I can only suppose that the answer is, indeed, cynicism. It’s a tedious struggle somewhere in the rain forest. It’s very hard to get there, it’s full of disease and biting insects, it’s dangerous as hell, far from any modern communications – and it’s a struggle between various ethnic groups nobody but them cares about.

The fact that it is a decade-long genocidal fight for control of strategically vital minerals – including rare earths necessary for our civilizations – seems to be missed by all the world’s press. They say millions of people have died, but who’s counting?

I’m not putting a link to the news item I read because unless you want your heart broken it’s just not good reading.  Look up war in the congo if you think you can bear it.   That’s not a challenge, it’s a warning.


Aha!  Some other good news.  And I’ve only read the first chapter. In view of the reviews I just glanced through, it might turn out to be only medium news.  But I’m enjoying it so far.

And then , I’ve just read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and found it good.  Some of the characters lived on Himmel Street which, I gradually became aware, can be translated as ‘Heaven Street’.  Wasn’t there a famous German called Himmel?  There was a composer called  Freidrich Heinrich Himmel.  Freddy Henry Heaven!  How poetic : )

Experimenting with softness.  A soft, mild breeze and soft fluffy clouds.

The little car catching the last light of the day

Blinding sunlight on dirty windows.

Got to go to bed now.  Have a lovely Tuesday : )

January 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Rubbish Trash Garbage Waste Junk Litter – oh and parties

If I needed confirmation that landfill should be reduced we have it outside our front gate.  Also in a black plastic bag by the back door and also in two more bags in the shed.  Oh and one hanging up outside the garage.

I also have a new understanding of the importance of recycling as suggested by two boxes and a bag at the gate plus a heap by the back door and another heap growing on a shelf in the kitchen, of bottles, tins and plastics.

I think, though I’m getting confused, that it’s approaching the end of a third week without  sight of the bin men.

The first week, the snow was new and everyone knew they wouldn’t come.

The second week it was still a bit snowy and although the roads were passable, they had too much backlog to deal with to get round to us.

If they don’t come this week I shall be a bit cross.  Well. very cross actually, like steaming and spitting and cursing like an angry er, well a very angry little thing.

As if that wasn’t enough, Tosca, our little black and white cat, just brought me a muse.  No, a mouse.  A muse would have been interesting and useful.  A mouse just makes me wonder why she can’t dispose of her own rubbish! Now she’s gone out again, no doubt, to look for more mice.

I am now going to look at photos I took last night at the fancy dress party.  Several of the photos were taken by other people, either trying out the camera or just for fun because I took one of them.  There was a tendency for people to look suddenly thoughtful once they’d got it in their hands and you could see them imagining themselves out there at the frontline ‘getting the shot’.   Or more likely at the touchline.  Or just behind the goal. Then the roar of the crowd faded and they just took photos of me 🙂  Not half bad either.

I hope you’re impressed by my home made plaits 🙂

Abandoned Indian headgear

Abandoned cowboy builder’s hammer

Three cowboys.  Spot the builder.

Large, wet, disgruntled cat abandoned in the rain.  He told me exactly what he thought about parties while I was having a ciggie outside.

Now I have to do something or other.  I wonder what – ah!  Put the rubbish out!


January 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The opposite of drawing in – pushing out?

Evenings, that is.


There are times when my cooking reverts to the days of my extreme youth; it’s all about leftovers see, Oh and about not having to make lots of effort because the wretched stuff has already been slaved over once.  There’s no call to spend more hours on it surely?

So as well as the breakfast and salad soup, we’ve had mutton hash, Roquefort and sausage tart, extreme spicy winglets baked in yoghurt, Oh and lots and lots of cassoulet.  Barney wasn’t too keen on the Roquefort and sausage tart (I thought it was pretty good considering) and the winglet thing was disastrous. But the hash and the soup were brilliant.

Now, in the freezer, I have an enormous salmon (too complicated to go into but I inadvertently bought about twice as much as we needed and it seemed better to freeze it away and start again than to try and make it fit).  So I’m beginning to wonder, if I defrosted the whole thing and cooked it, what would I do with the left overs.  Fish pie of course – about three of them.  But there must be something else?

Or shall I just haul it out, let Barney loose on it with a cleaver and put it back in pieces?

Ooh or I could get really clever and make three or four different dinners and freeze three of them away again.

Going back to the days of my extreme youth, there was an occasion when me and a little friend made ourselves a concoction.  The object of the excercise was to combine a lot of things we really liked, into one delicious, hot drink.

So there was cocoa and sugar, of course, and cream and coronation tinned milk and honey and jam.  Also chocolate hundreds and thousands which we couldn’t wait till it was finished to add.  Perhaps a few drops of vanilla?  It was a remarkable thing.  You couldn’t exactly either eat it or drink it as the consistency was incompatible with either.   An attempt to ‘loosen’ it with milk (which I didn’t like) resulted in it curdling – how odd : ) – and that was the end of that.  Not so easy to dispose of either.  It didn’t exactly run away down the sink, neither would it spoon neatly into the waste bin.

Then of course, there was the detritus of the experiment.  One slightly burnt saucepan, a scattering of cocoa powder, a good deal of spilt milk and several cups and mugs glued up round the sides with a light brownish, slightly lumpy goo.

This reminds me that one year, my Dad discovered that nestle’s tinned cream made an excellent glue for tiles.  How he arrived at this discovery I can’t imagine.  But anyway, the tiles by the fireplace were glued in place with Nestle’s tinned cream for a good many years and never showed any sign of coming adrift.  The success of this experiment did cast a certain amount of doubt on the suitability of nestle’s tinned cream as a food though.*

Well.  It’s getting warmer and snow is slithering off things and melting noisily outside the larder window and the earth is gradually reappearing under the lacework of many footprints.  It still has a certain charm but soon, I suspect it will just all be a bit brown.  I’m not complaining about the warmth though.  Yet : )

So it’s goodbye to Fairyland

And birdwatching in the snow (Tosca)

I’m suffering a kind of lassitude at the moment.  It’s very easy to be put off doing things that I know I want to really.  Too cold to go out and take photos.  Too dark to tidy up.  Too tired to struggle all the way (100 yards) across the road to walk the dog.  Too fat to crawl about underneath the computer.  Aching feet, sore fingers, cross head, forgot something important.  Can’t be bothered.

As a result (perversely) I have completed another job which has been stacking up, untidily, in various places – the filing of (as it turns out) nearly two years worth of bits of paper.  This ought to be making me feel extraordinarily good.  I guess it’s the Winter gloom thing but it hasn’t quite galvanised me into life!  I’d better get moving.  Not only is it Music Group this afternoon but also we are supposed to be going to a fancy dress birthday party.  I’m going as a brightly coloured sack with a feather on top and furry boots (Wild West theme).  Barney is going as a plumber.  Or a builder.  No, really it does fit the theme if you think hard : )  But he says he won’t wear jeans with builders’ bum effect. Too cold apparently *snigger*.  Also he doesn’t want to carry a sink plunger around with him all evening.  *Snort of disgust*.  No commitment.

I’d rather hibernate.  I wish I’d thought of going as a beaver.  Ah well.  Longer evenings are here already and there may be a bit of sunshine over the weekend.

*I suppose you have to bear in mind that a very good glue can be made by boiling fish bones?**

**And this reminds me of “The Swiss Family Robinson” in which I seem to recall the family catching a sturgeon and boiling its bones to make fish glue.  I couldn’t remember the author so I looked it up.  It might have been easier to say who hasn’t had a go at writing it!

January 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Baking Day (I said I was getting stir crazy)

I never do baking days.  Never ever.

But Barney wanted cake two evenings in a row.  “Haven’t you got any cake?” He asked wistfuly.  I forbore to point out that all previous cakes got half eaten and then ‘somebody’ got bored with them.  So it’s probably just because I ought to be crawling around underneath the computer instead, but I suddenly got the urge to make cake.  Farmhouse fruitcake even – really big and takes ages to finish eating it.  And then, I texted him to get more cheese and eggs and started making little quiches – five of them.  I’m scared to go in the kitchen now in case I start something else!

The good thing is I’ve used up all the dried fruit, some of which is probably several years old.  Not all of it was in the recipe but, hey, how much difference is there between chopped up apricots and dates and ancient raisins and sultanas?  (Don’t tell me, it’s too late)

Another very good thing is that the oven kept the kitchen warm which was very nice : ) (Now it’s cooled down, I’m doing a bit of very important tumble drying)

Of course, as well as crawling around under the computer, I ought to be filing all the last year’s worth of bits of paper, to complete the wonderful relief of turning a couple of year’s worth of receipts into kindling.

Yep.  It really needed to be a baking day.

Good Heavens, it’s nearly time to start cooking dinner!

I’d never make a food photographer would I : )

And Look!  We had an icicle!

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I spent several hours today, looking at old (very old) till receipts and sorting them into cash, debit card and ‘must keep’ piles.  The debit card pile was huge!!!  So instead of just throwing it on the fire, I twisted them into big handfuls to be used for firelighting.  The cash ones went into the recycling box and the ‘must keep’ ones – well I must keep them somewhere I suppose, in case someone wants to get rid of their Christmas present or my camera lens breaks or … something.

I learnt that I spend a lot of money at Waitrose and make quite a lot of visits both to the dentist and to all the (five) charity shops in town.  I always pay the dentist with a card and I nearly always use cash in charity shops and a card at Waitrose.  I buy a lot of wine.

Meanwhile, on the radio, people were reviling four by four drivers who, in spite of the superior rough surface abilities of their vehicles still managed to inflame the rage and exasperation of ‘ordinary’ car drivers by driving badly.  While I was listening to this, I overheard Barney say, on the phone, to an elderly stamp collecting friend of his, “don’t worry if you can’t get out (to deliver some stamps) – I have a four by four”.

So I snorted a bit.  But to be fair, while Barney is not one of those who believes that behind the wheel of a four by four there is some divine intervention hovering between you and all your actions, I have seen one or two zipping along our narrow, slippery lane as if the snow was just a game for those four – er – gears?  Drives? Anyway, for those to play on.  I’ve had one or two driving querulously up my backside over the packed and icy snow too, and although they didn’t quite have the blithe, idiotic over-confidence to overtake,  they might have regretted their lack of foresight if I had needed to stop.  Because, while all those drives, or whatever they are, are very good for pushing through stuff which is trying to stop you they’re no better than any other set of wheels at stopping you when there’s no friction underneath them.

My computer is behaving oddly.  Or maybe it’s just the USB hub.  Or something.  I have to decide which because if it’s just the hub it may be a simple matter of replacing it but if it’s something more ominous I may need Mr Treasure to come and fix it.  Windows refuses to recognise one of my external hard drives but though it recognises them, it sometimes doesn’t notice the other three.  They’ve got all my photos on them!

Ok.  I think I’ve worked out a strategy.  I’ll turn it all off and disconnect all of them and then reconnect them direct to the computer, avoiding the hub.

Tomorrow.  Not that I’m avoiding dealing with it or anything like that.  I just need to go to bed : )

Sleep well.

January 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments