Monthly Archives: Jul 2020

A Warm Day

It’s been a bit warm today, which is never a good thing in the UK, as we tend to go red and get tetchy. This is despite our hot weather not really being hot,e get to 30° C, or near enough 90° F, and start to complain. Tomorrow it will be back to normal at 21° C, or 70°, so summer is over.

I packed more parcels, loaded more things on eBay (taking time to make sure I didn’t accidentally wipe it all this time), and generally did as little as possible.

After picking Julia up from work we bought cold drinks from McDonald’s  (slipping back into the clutches of the corporate Antichrist) and returned home to find a grasshopper standing on the footpath,

That, plus a bit of writing and a nap in front of the TV, has been my day. I am tired now and am finishing here.

I will post more photos tomorrow. Today’s photos are abstracts using the coloured walls of the school shed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

School shed

 

Parcels, Plants and Popinjays

It was a reasonable day at work. We didn’t have many parcels to do and the ones we had were easy to pack and went to simple addresses.

We had several customers and a sprinkling of phone calls plus a couple of late orders.

You couldn’t really ask for more.

Until early afternoon. I’d just spent half an hour loading details and photographs onto eBay when I pressed the wrong button and, as you’ve probably already guessed, wiped it all.

So I had to plod through it all again. It’s not a good feeling doing it twice. Unfortunately, and I really hate to admit this, my last act on Monday afternoon had been to wipe it off too. In other words, I ended up doing it three times.

There must be a way to stop losing my work like this, but I still can’t work out how to do it. I’m adding new pieces to old listings so it isn’t as straightforward as starting from scratch.

I don’t feel bad about making mistakes, but I do feel bad about making the same one several times.

Things became more light-hearted when I started answering comments. I noted, whilst doing this, that I had made a couple of typos when adding tags. Writing THree Little Birds isn’t particularly amusing, but mis-spelling foraging as faraging did bring a smile to my face.

Foraging is, as you know, collecting wild plants for food. Faraging, possibly derived from the name Farage, is a word just begging for a meaning. It has several if you check it up but they are all made up by people like me. Well, like me but without the sparkling wit…

Faraging should, I think, be a word that indicates the ability to build a career on a single issue and a dash of personality, but free of the taint of actual ability, a bit like a modern reality TV star, and I think we all know my view of them.

There is a Seventeenth Century quote which I used to use in my re-enactment days – “Loud voices and empty words. So quoth the popinjay.”

It could do with some rewriting, but I think it conveys the general idea.

I’m going to start using it in that context and see if it catches on.

If it does, and I become rich and famous as a result, it will be a prime example of faraging, and I will become a noted farager.

There are many examples of names being used this way – Boycott, Quisling and Adonis are other examples. These are known as eponyms, which I should have known really, as I have seen the word eponymous often enough. It’s strange how some things pass you by.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Streptocarpus grown from leaf cuttings

The photos are two of the four streptocarpus plants Julia has grown from leaf cuttings. She did it a few years ago to prove she could. As you can see, she succeeded.

Photographs

I’ve just written 289 words about what is happening to Julia at work. A lot of it comes under the heading of “least said, soonest mended” as I mentioned yesterday but she’s just given up over half her day off to a staff meeting and telephone calls with clients, so I wrote my thoughts on the matter.

Then I decided I’d better not publish them. So I won’t. I’ll just show you some photos from yesterday.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sugar Skulls and Succulents

I don’t know why we seem to have so many sugar skulls around these days, they just seem to be fashionable, despite having nothing to do with the UK. THey don’t even seem to have anything to do with the USA or Australia, which is where we seem to draw a lot of our cultural references from these days. It’s a mystery. Julia doesn’t even know who brought them to the gardens and left them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Three LIttle Birds and Origami

What with the Three Little Birdsreference and the origami, we seem to have added Reggae and Japanese Paper Folding to or international  themes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Inside the Polytunnel

Virtually everything you see here has been scrounged from skips. Only the polytunnel was purchased brand new, as the chance of finding a discarded polytunnel in a skip is small.

It is now set up to allow twelve people to eat and work in here (I use ‘work’ loosely) and still maintain a semblance of social distancing.

Everything in these pictures is edible. Yes, everything. I’m quite fond of apples and grapes, but have to admit the fat hen and sedum aren’t too bad either.

In fact, with fat hen being used as spinach in Mediaeval times and sedum tasting a little like avocado they can be quite pleasant.

I did have a picture of what I think is ground ivy but it may be purple dead nettle or henbit – they are all edible but as it’s important to be accurate when you are foraging.

I’m going to start doing more foraging again as my interest has been rekindled by a few things I’ve seen recently.

Some flowers from the garden. I have now caught up with yesterday…

When all is said and done…

…more is said than is ever done.

Yes, I’ve found a new formula for titles, though I have to admit that it’s tinged with the same old cynicism. I’m sure that anyone who has ever had to work with groups and volunteers will be familiar with the sentiment behind the title.

It is possibly best summed up by a statement I once heard at a meeting. They used to love meetings on the farm and had a great capacity for attracting people who were distinguished by a talent for empty talk. One of those people actually told us that their talent was for having ideas. I hadn’t, until that time, thought of that as a talent. Volunteers with ideas are ten a penny. Volunteers who actually carry their ideas through have a price beyond rubies.

To be fair, I’ve worked with some great groups of volunteers. Obviously, today was one of the days when I found my thoughts dwelling on the ones who weren’t so great.

It’s been that sort of day, but least said, soonest mended.

I had an unexpected day off today, as I worked yesterday. We are still not back to full time working.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Poppy

Things started to go badly when Julia couldn’t find her keys to the gardens. It led to half an hour of muttering and moving things. I couldn’t help, as I (a) couldn’t remember where she’d had them and (b) when I advise her to try to remember her movements she goes ballistic. She could, if I’m honest, be better at taking advice.

To cut a long story short, I gave up a portion of my day off to borrow a set of keys and get a new set cut. Then, because I clearly hadn’t had enough fun, I went back to get two of them re-cut. You’d think cutting keys properly with a modern machine would be simple enough, but clearly not.

It was too late to do much by then, so I made the decision to give up on the rest of my day off, made Julia share her sandwiches, waited round, did a few odd jobs and generally wasted the rest of the afternoon until it was time to give her a lift home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Poppy

To be honest, I have had better days.

Guess what happened on the way home?

That’s right, Julia remembered where she had put her keys…

 

 

The Road to Hell…

…is paved with good intentions, as the proverb says. I can’t rid myself of a feeling of guilt as I think about missing a day of blogging, so here is another post I wasn’t meant to write.

I’m going to give in to the inevitable and keep writing, but on the days I was intending not to write I’m going to write, but without a word limit. This will allow me to stay free of guilt, but will not be too onerous. Until recently I tried for 250 words, then upped it to 500. Now I’m dropping it to 100, though in explaining that I’ve already done one hundred and five words. One hundred words is not an onerous task.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brambles, progressing nicely

Lockdown news is that all the people who went to Spain are complaining that it’s unfair they will have to go into quarantine on their return. Well, if you go on holiday to Spain, in full knowledge that there is likely to be a second peak, you can’t, in my mind, complain when the second peak comes and the Government takes decisive action.

A doctor was on the news this morning saying that he couldn’t take two weeks off to self-isolate on his return because he had an important job to do. Shame he didn’t work that one out before going on holiday to a virus hot-spot. It’s not him I feel sorry for, it’s his colleagues and patients.

The scenario was completely forseeable and anyone who has been inconvenienced by the Government’s swift and decisive action must hold themselves to blame.

I complained earlier in the year about lack of Government action, and am glad to see they are taking action now.

So there you are, I am not feeling guilty about not writing a post, I have done a moderate number of words and I have expressed disapprobation of all the whining British holidaymakers in Spain. I like this new, non-blogging regime.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yellow flowers – I really must look it up

It’s Cordyalis Lutea – thanks to Tootlepedal for the suggestion. It sounds like the sort of plant for me.

Pictures are spares from yesterday.Having not taken a foreign holiday since my hovercraft trip of 1975 I don’t have any pictures of me sunning myself abroad. In fact, as it was a day trip to rainy Calais, I didn’t do a lot of sunning in 1975; I ate snails and I watched people being sick on the roughest hovercraft trip in history (the pilot’s words, not mine).

Elderly man in search of a Profile Photo

Elderly man in search of a Profile Photo

I tried several shots. Julia says the ones with glasses are better as you can’t see so much of my face. The hair makes me look more surprised than I actually am. I was holding the camera and pointing it at myself so the photograph was not really unexpected.

 

Another Twenty Minutes in the Car Park

I returned to a familiar car park today. It wasn’t planned but I had time to kill. I see from a quick glance at the post that I haven’t really duplicated any shots, apart from one of the gym car park. so there won’t be a lot to compare. I’ve even looked through the old shots and can’t match anything else up.

 

As you can see, there are more people there, and more leaves on the trees. There has been an outbreak of community gardening in the areas of bare soil around the trees lining the boundary of the car park, complete with solar lights and some arty details in the corners.

It could do with a bit of maintenance, and I’m not sure the Christmas tree is a great idea, but apart from that it’s good to see. If I was having a go at a community space I’m pretty sure I would find it difficult to keep it maintained, so all credit to them for having a go. I’ve been saying for years that I was going to sow some seed bombs but I’ve never got round to it. I actually reviewed a book on Guerrilla Gardening years ago, but I’ve never done any and I can’t find the link.

There’s a smattering of rubbish in the car park, though not so much as when they still had the recycling bins in the corner. However, one man’s rubbish is another man’s haiku prompt…

If you see me writing about lost luggage and broken coffee cups you will know where I got the idea from. Discarded Guinness cans, however, might be a step too far. Most things, I take in my stride, but I really would like to know how the coffee cup ended up broken by the kerbside.

The sign, even with its disapproving eye, does not seem to be working.

Rubbish in the Car Park

Rubbish Sign in the Car Park

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A frilly poppy

For details of my Sunday morning, please see here.

Sunday Morning

It’s mid-day on Sunday and, as usual, or morning has not been marked by a frantic rush. We had porridge with blackberries as a healthy breakfast. It would have been porridge with blueberries but I seem to have hit the wrong button whilst shopping. That may be a good thing, but it might be a bad thing. To some people it may even be a matter of indifference, though to my mind there’s something wrong with people who keep calm in the face of provocation by their internet shopping. I suppose it’s a test of personality.

When your shopping goes wrong do you

(a) curse the evils of modern technology?

(b) welcome the opportunity for new experiences?

(c) blame the Government?

I usually go with (a). None of the new experiences I’ve had from internet shopping – frozen spinach, plastic cheese, sour blackberries – have actually enhanced my life.

There’s no point blaming the Government, or any Government, because with rare exceptions they aren’t really in charge of what is happening. They just talk about how bad the last lot were and shove their snouts deeper into the trough.

I just went off on a 200 word tangent about politicians. It’s clearly going to be one of those posts where much is written but not so much is posted.

I can’t help wondering if this makes it a stronger post and thinking of an article I once read about composing haibun.

It recommended editing until you managed to remove the subject of the haibun, leaving the reader with a feeling about the unspoken subject – the ultimate ‘show don’t tell’ technique. At least I think that was what it said. And I think it was about haibun. I really ought to make notes.

It’s a bit bit like homeopathic medicine where you dilute the cure so much it is no longer there. I’m on surer ground there because that was on Wikipedia.

There’s a big gap on Wikipedia when it comes to discussion on composing haibun. This is ironic when you consider a gap was what I was researching.

close up of eyeglasses on book

Photo by ugurlu photographer on Pexels.com

For details of the afternoon, check here.

Old Habits Die Hard

The secret of training, as many top athletes have said, is not dedication or motivation,, but habit. You don’r drag yourself into a November night because you are dedicated or motivated; you do it because you have established a habit.

At the moment I cannot help myself and have sat down at the blog to write. I will not, however, post it until Sunday.

I can’t really complain, because when I started the blog I did it partly to practice writing and establish a writing habit. I think I have succeeded in that ambition. The other part of the plan, to promote the Quercus Community group, did not go quite so well.

“C’est la vie”, as Chuck Berry said, it goes to show you never can tell.

On my return from work, I found the lighting subdued, the temperature cool and the air still. There were three bumblebees on the teasel in the front garden and, with it being cool and still, they were more inclined to pose for me than they had been last night. I was able to use both hands on the camera and work close to the bees without them taking flight.

I can’t see myself having to attend any awards ceremonies in the near future, but at least it’s progress. Looking on the bright side, if you don’t get prizes, you don’t need to polish them. One thing I do need to improve on, as the photos show, is learning which end is which. I would not like to be known to posterity as the man who took pictures of bumblebee’s bottoms.

Doh!

Despite what I said, I just pressed the button automatically and posted on Saturday night.Old habits, as I have already said, really do die hard.

2020

I said a while ago that I was going to cut back on blogging and with this being the 2,020th post I’ve made, which matches nicely with the year, this is as good a time as any.

I can’t keep up with the reading and commenting, for one thing, and it seems rude to ignore people when they are kind enough to pop along and have a look at the blog. If I cut down on blogging, I can spend more time of reading and commenting.

More selfishly, I want more time for other writing projects, and I want more time for reading books. In fact I just want more time. Some nights I can write the blog in twenty minutes, as you may have noticed from some of the titles. Other times I take several hours and a number of false starts. Some days the number of words you see is near enough the number that I wrote. On the bad days the 350 words you read may be the distillation of seven or eight hundred I actually wrote. On other days I have sometimes written as many as two or three part posts before getting into my stride. Some of those discarded posts may become full grown posts in time, but many don’t. I’ve just been through my drafts and removed 12 posts which would never have amounted to anything.

My intention at the moment is to write blog posts on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. I’ll see how that goes. My standards or organisation, as you may have noticed, are such that this may end up as any combination of days as I miss deadlines and sleep my evenings away. However, roughly three times a week I will post.

Friday night will be a report on my week, Sunday will be the usual ragbag and Wednesday will be the new day for posts on Collectibles. Probably.

I sent two lots of Haibun off to magazines last night. Having decided to start writing again I thought I might as well get stuck in. I finished fourteen haibun this week – six based on old ones that were hanging around, six based on notes in my notebooks and two just came to me as I was copying out the others.

I have copied them out, rewritten, trimmed, tightened and tinkered, and, finally, selected five to send off. They have gone. I’m now looking to see if I have another three fit to send. The trouble is that after all the work, some of them just seem dull and lifeless. I might have over-worked them, or I may initially have been blind to their faults.

This afternoon I started work on some school attendance medals for eBay, and when I got home I took some pictures of a bee on a teasel – holding the teasel still with one hand and using the camera with the other. I got one reasonable photo out of twenty attempts.  Teasel without bees is an easier subject. I now know why we have teasel in the front garden, Julia says they are growing where she put some seed heads down when bringing them back from the Mencap Garden for a flower arrangement. I might have known she’d be at the bottom of it.

London School Attendance Medals 1890s

London School Attendance Medals 1890s

 

Cyclists and Sentient Kebabs

The morning started off in an interesting fashion when I rose early and did some reading/replying on WordPress. That got rid of over an hour and I suddenly realised I was going to be late for work.

The journey was made memorable by an idiot on a bicycle. As the lights changed to let us turn onto the ring road a cyclist whizzed across the front of the queue, ignoring the lights that told him to stop. He was nearly hit by the car in front of me as it started to move forward, wobbled, nearly hit a pedestrian and ran into a wall.

Starting off again he cycled straight across at the next junction, again defying the lights and not even pausing to check for traffic. Again, another car driver had to brake to avoid him.

I’m not sure whether he was an idiot, a potential suicide or a man with insurance fraud in mind.

Note that I say ‘idiot on a bicycle, because I am trying to avoid dehumanising him by use of the word ‘cyclist’. Have a look at this research for the reason why. And after reading it, ask yourself why you didn’t go into the world of academia where jobs and reputations are built from talking rubbish. Seems a lot easier than actually working for a living.

If you ever see the headline Scientist says Bloggers are Great  you will know my academic career has started. Not quite as easy as being a ‘reality TV star’, as they call themselves.

Another plot for a novel has just come to me – a man, down on his luck, is sifting through the bins at the back of a kebab shop when he is struck by lightening. The meaty remnants in his hand are transmogrified into a person (of sorts) which goes on to find fame and fortune as a reality TV star. I’ll never get round to writing it so if anyone else wants to use it, feel free. You can fill in the rest of the details.

It lends itself to a cutting satire on modern celebrity culture, or a cookery book. Your choice.

At work I took photographs of more Edward VIII medallions and at home I found my spices have arrived via Amazon – Ras-el-Hanout and Harissa. For a  moment, when I walked into the living room I thought I’d been transported to an oriental bazaar, but I soon came back to reality of drizzly Nottingham.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ras-el-hanout and Harissa – it’s cheaper in plastic bags than little jars, but it means I’m going to be eating much more spicy food for some time to come