Monthly Archives: April 2022

Day 119

Shopping arrived promptly this evening, but there were two substitutions and one item not available. The item not available was cooking oil. It is our latest panic, with war in Ukraine being blamed. Thanks to President Putin I may find it difficult to make scrambled eggs next week. Olive oil is still available, I believe, though that will probably be the target of panic buying in the next week.

This is a minor inconvenience compared to being bombed out of your home so I mention it not as a complaint, bit simply as an item in my diary of life in 2022.

I will just have to bake my eggs or boil them.

This, I suspect, is how the world will cope. We will approach stalemate in Ukraine. Russia will remain unbeaten. The West will not feel like starting WW3 to support Ukraine and we will all start, metaphorically, to bake our eggs, and ignore the greater problem.

It feels bad to let the aggressor gain territory, but not as bad as having a full scale world war.

And on that depressing note I will change the subject and make  a mental note to avoid blogging in the early hours of the morning. I didn’t plan on blogging at this time, but fell asleep in front of the TV after Julia went to bed, and woke up several hours later with a list of jobs to do.

It wouldn’t have mattered to the world as a whole if I had missed a day blogging, but it matters to me. And that is why, after producing nearly 300 words on eBay customers which was even bleaker than the current post) I moved on to matters of more general interest. I feel that in years to come, when a future student or archaeologist rediscovers my blog, that they may learn something about 21st century events and the baking of eggs. If I write about the evils of eBay customers, it is a subject of less general application.

That seems like a good place to stop, so I will.


Day 118

I picked twelve empty stalks from the Spanish poppies today – the season’s total so far. There are five more in bloom today and they seem to have lasted better than most of the blooms do. I think one or two must have lasted two days now. late last summer we were lucky if they lasted six hours. I must monitor that this year and see if they follow the same pattern.

The Welsh poppy is looking good, and has a number of buds ready to take over the job of flowering. I’m not sure how long they last, but have always thought of them as quite tough. Again, I will have a chance to observe. I must make sure I end the season with enough seeds to ensure it spreads.

Meanwhile, having resisted sarcasm yesterday, I couldn’t hold it back this afternoon on the shop. There was an incident earlier in the week where one of my co-workers was, I thought, rather wasteful with some packaging. Well, today he excelled himself. Twelve items, twelve plastic sleeves. Then a board backed envelope and then two pieces of card. I maintained silence. I am, after all, just a cog in the machine. Then the printer started. He was printing three sheets of paper with screenshots of the goods he was packing. He could simply have put Banknotes (12) on a compliments slip but that wouldn’t have been wasteful enough for him.

“Why,” I asked, “don’t you just nuke a forest while you’re at it?”

He took offence at this.

My penultimate news is that my vaccination seems to have passed without incident. I had a slightly sore arm last night and woke up at about 6am this morning when I rolled over on it. It’s still slightly sore if I touch it, but, as I used to tell the kids when they did such things – don’t touch it.

Finally, cattails is out. I am on pages 83, 86, 118, 170, 173, 174. The last one is just a repeat of 170, which is the Editor’s Choice in the tanka prose section. Just thought I’d mention that as I slip from the page.


Day 117 (Part 2)

The first question they asked me at the vaccination centre was “Have you come for a booster vaccination?” I would be asked that twice more. And each time I had to fight the impulse to say “No, I was just passing and thought I’d see what was at the front of the queue.”

You should never be sarcastic to people who are armed with needles. Well, you shouldn’t be sarcastic at all, I suppose, but I find it hard to be nice all the time.

So far all is going well. I have no soreness in the arm, and no other symptoms. This lack of reaction might be a good thing, or it might mean that it is having no effect. It might also be because my cure for side-effects, eating a Belgian bun, has worked well.

Two more Spanish poppies today. It’s a slow start but I’m hoping things will pick up.

We also have a new self-seeded flower in the driveway – a Welsh poppy. I’ve been hoping one would pop up, because other people have them along the street and they can be quite prolific. They normally seem to grow down the sides of houses, which seems strange as I always associate poppies with sunlight. It seems, when I look at the link, that they like shady places. I feel like I should have known that.

Not  a bad day really, the blood sample was quick and painless, the vaccination was easy, the cake was good, and we have a new self-seeded poppy. This gives you some idea of how interesting my days are.


Day 117

I went for a blood test this morning and picked up a prescription from the pharmacy. Last year this would have taken me weeks, possibly months, as the prescription would have been lost, missing or wrong. At best, the blood test would have been 20 minutes late and the wait at the pharmacy would have been 30-40 minutes. Today it took me 20 minutes.

Not everybody was as lucky as me – one woman had to ask about her appointment (she had been waiting over 20 minutes) and the prescription of one elderly gent (no, not me) had been sent to the wrong pharmacy. It looks like fate has been kind to me.

I’m supposed to be sitting in a queue in the barbers at the moment but I forgot and came home. It looks like Julia has forgotten too, as she’s the one who is keen on me looking respectable. That means we have time to have lunch at KFC and I can still go for my booster at 1.30.

After that I am intending to look pale and interesting in front of the TV and eat cake. I’m on a diet, but you have to feed a cold and starve a fever, as they say, and there is a little known second verse – “and eat cake for everything else”. It’s like the National Anthem, there are a lot of lesser known verses to that. When you read them, you can see why they are lesser known. However, I think mine should be better known and will be using it several times a year to ensure it gets out into the world.

Botham’s Whitby

Day 116

Time, I think, to set some ambitious targets. Also, I think, time to keep quiet about it so that it doesn’t come back to bite me.

One target I can reveal is my plan to submit more. I’ve been getting slack and let a few chances slide by. You can call it resting, or preparation  (which I do) but after a while it becomes the norm, and that isn’t what I want.

What I want to do is get back to the old system,  where I had work waiting for the submission window to open. I always feel it is easier to be accepted if you submit early. My theory is that the later you submit the better you have to be to displace the work already submitted. I suppose it depends how editors work, but it seems logical.

It also seems logical that if you submit earlier you don’t have to worry so much about people submitting work with similar themes. Better, at the moment, to be the first poem submitted on the subject of war rather than the tenth or twentieth. Not that I’m thinking of submitting one anyway, as it’s likely to be a crowded field.

The shop owner went to a popular local fish and chip shop to eat last night. He hasn’t had fish and chips for a while and was surprised by the price. They haven’t been a cheap meal for years now, really, and prices of pub meals have come down considerably.

As I pointed out, at least they are relatively unprocessed and cooked fresh, whereas cheap pub food is likely to be full of additives and come out of a frozen packet. Another case of how things have changed over the years.

Day 115

We have now had 11 Spanish poppies in bloom. I know this from counting the dead heads, as at last one bloomed after we left for work this morning and dropped its petals before I got home. They are prolific, but not particularly durable.

I took some flower photographs tonight when I got home, so at least I have some fresh photographs to use.

They include Spanish Poppies and two different sorts of honesty – the white and the cross-bred purple and white.

White Honesty

Purplish Honesty

While I remember, here is a link to a very interesting page. I have never seen, or heard of, anything like it in my life. You think of all the hype surrounding our various national teams, but where is the publicity surrounding a genuine international triumph like this? You would think, with the current popularity of baking programmes, that there would be more news about it.

I’m running out of things to write about now. I think I’ve said enough about customers and their foibles recently. I’ve also said I really should get down to some serious work and planning, so I won’t repeat that either. Did I say how frightening it is looking back on old posts and seeing that you still haven’t done things you were thinking about two years ago? Time is not slowing down and I am not sitting here making extra time, so I really should stop frittering it away. Or should I?

When you have a diminishing supply of something, why not spend it in the way that makes you happiest? If I want to sit down with Julia and watch TV maybe I should do that and not worry about what I think I should be doing.  Life is too short to worry about writing a literary masterpiece when you could be watching comedians.

Dandelion using deliberate soft-focus. Or just plain blurred . . .

I think I need to brush up on my photography technique.



Day 114

Did very little today. Julia did a bit of work in the garden, made a rhubarb crumble and cooked lunch despite a bad hip. I was no help. I even have trouble gripping a mug after brewing tea. In the evening I ordered a takeaway curry online. Careful ordering means we will have a slightly different version of the same meal tomorrow. It is reasonably nutritious and more cost effective that way. (That is my way of making myself feel less guilty).

I have a few days left until the deadline at the end of the month and have been turning things over in my had, even if it didn’t make a lot of difference on paper.

I am getting seriously worried by the lack of work that I am doing. On an average day I don’t do enough, but on a slack day I do nothing at all. It isn’t helped, at the moment, by my fingers, but they aren’t really making a lot of difference, just providing a good excuse.

Plans for the rest of the week include lentil soup (I have the lentils ready and waiting) and the search for new recipes. During lockdown we tried quite a few different recipes but we have slipped back into a rut. We were saved by the addition of recipe boxes to our weekly shop, as Number One Son signed us up to some of those services which deliver ingredients to the house. That was how we ended up making Nasi Goreng. I have just looked at that post whilst adding the link, and clicked through on another link, and am even more depressed about my life, as I seem to be writing about the same thing time after time.

Tomorrow I must find a new subject

Day 113

Two poppies today. That is four so far this year. We also have some self-seeded honesty growing by the front door. There are two plants on one side (both white) and one plant on the other. That one is purple streaked with white – I suspect some cross breeding has taken place and the purple one we had last year has been diluted. This happened a few years ago with alyssum. We have plenty of white (who doesn’t?) and I planted some blue. The blue didn’t thrive and only lasted a year, but in the next year a lot of our plants had white flowers with blue edges.  Unfortunately they had all disappeared by the next year.

I may have said this before, but it bears repeating – I like self-seeding flowers.  Cheap, easy and capable of generating a lot of interest.

We are gradually running out of marigolds, so I may have to plant a few extra, but the valerian is still going strong and we have so many teasels I am going to have to do some thinning out. The trouble with spiky plants is that you can’t just let them grow where they want.

That is really all there was to today – got up, went to work, saw a few customers, packed a few parcels, went home, ate and watched TV. It was veggie burgers again. Bought in again because it’s a cheap and easy thing to do and because our shopping arrives on Friday night so the cobs are still nice and fresh to put the burgers in. They were a bit too spicy this week so, once again, I am talking about making my own.

I may have said that before . . .

Day 112

We had another poppy today. They seem a bit slow at the moment, but it looks like we might have a few more tomorrow. Total for the season – 2.

We used the option of picking up the shopping from TESCO tonight – you still avoid people but by picking up the minimum order is less than the delivery option. We have built up a backlog by ordering too much for the last few weeks and need to get through some of it. Carrot soup is likely to feature in our menus several time next week.

On the way we passed a strip of what was once probably woodland. It’s now just a strip of trees and weeds between a footpath and an old railway cutting that is now, I think, a nature trail/footpath/cycle path. OK, I admit I’ve never actually used it and am slightly hazy on details. However, under the trees, a wonderful sight emerges at this time of year. Bluebells. I don’t know if they are survivors from the old woodland or new foreign interlopers, but they do look nice and they always give m a lift at this time of year.

At work today I had an enquiry, which I handled with my customary tact and good humour. I do that on the first enquiry because that’s how you should be. I only start getting sharp when people tart winding me up. People can’t help being stupid or annoying or any manner of things. That’s how we are. They can’t even help it when they advise me on how to package their items properly (because it’s not as if I send over a thousand items a year safely through the post, is it? On the other hand, having told them once, I don’t see why I should have to repeat myself.

Anyway, the customer wrote back and thanked me for my reply, and noted that I clearly had a good grasp of customer service. So far, so good, though I was a little worried that this was just the start of quite a long message. Having answered his question (we didn’t have what he required) we weren’t going to take any money off him and, with time being money, it’s not cost-effective to take on a pen pal.

The gist of his letter was that after a long and successful career in retail he was in a position to advice me that what I should have said in my letter was . . .

I won’t bother to quote it all, but it hinged round us producing the items he required and giving him some for free in gratitude for his input.

At the moment I am torn. The owner has told me not to answer it. This seems rude. On the other hand, if I answer it I will probably be rude anyway.

A tricky question of modern etiquette.

Sometimes I wonder if these people are really just doing it for fun, or if it is a test from eBay.

Day 111

It’s the 21st April already and I have a deadline on 25th, followed by another on the 30th. I am going to have to get a move on. When there are only two deadlines in a month (having already taken the decision to skip the one requiring a war/global warming theme) I have to make sure I keep my work rate up. One is for an editor who has never accepted anything from me and another is for an American magazine. I don’t do well in American magazines. It looks like this month will be the one that redresses the balance of last month’s success.

I wrote that last night, as it was on my mind as i thought of what to write. Today things moved on, and I wrote an entire haibun in my head on the way home.

I have now booked my second Covid booster vaccination, having had a text to tell me to do so. However, the government site seems sceptical and wants me to take proof of my compromised immune system. Left hand and right hand seem to be acting in a slightly disconnected way. I’m having this booster because my rheumatology specialist booked me in for it six months ago because of the drugs they are giving me. I would have thought that was all the proof they needed.

In a similarly disconnected way two practice nurses and the pharmacy are trying to get blood pressure readings off me, in three different ways. One nurse wants me to take my own readings in a morning. No chance – I have enough to do. One wants to take them when I have blood tests – which is why I am thinking of going back to the hospital – they just do blood tests and don’t poke about with anything else. The pharmacy is now telling me I can get a free blood pressure test if I make an appointment. I take it from all of this that, having not bothered about it for years, they are now being told, and possibly being paid, to hassle me about blood pressure. The self-fulfilling result of all this is that my blood pressure goes up every time I think about it.