Author Archives: quercuscommunity

Poppies, Kids, Death and Zen

I deadheaded the poppies a couple of days ago. It seems to have paid dividends because this morning there were fifteen poppies in a spot where we had never had more than six.

I thought of stopping to take a photograph, but bit was raining, I was in my shirt sleeves and the flowers were not very impressive, being weighed down by water droplets.

It sounds artistic now, and I’m starting to regret not taking the picture, but it was cold and wet this morning and enthusiasm was not running high as I left for work.

By the time I returned they had all dropped. They do that. It’s very annoying.

For those of you who aren’t conversant with deadheading it’s a way of manipulating nature with just a pair of scissors.

Plants flower, set seed and then close down as their job of perpetuating the species is over.

If you cut the dead flower heads off before they set seed they have to keep flowering to fulfill their biological imperative. Tricky, isn’t it?

It’s a bit like kids. Once you have a couple you can stop. And you still end up dried out and dead, just like a flower in Autumn.

I have to go now, I’ve just started on a meaningful poetic thought and it needs nurturing. It starts with raindrops and ends with scattered petals, and has haiku written all over it.

Poppies growing from cracks in concrete

Poppies growing from cracks in concrete

I’m getting a lot of use out of very few poppy pictures. I’ll take some more pictures later in the week.

So Much to Say

I’m not sure where to start today’s rant blog. Perhaps I’ll start with the the woman on the mobility scooter who sounded her horn at me because she thought I was holding her up as I walked along a pavement with my walking stick.

It is legal to drive one on the pavement, it seems, though not legal to drive one on a cycle path. Strange laws…

It probably isn’t legal to zip along the pavement sounding your horn and imitating Boadicea, as we always used to call her before we were told Boudicca was the proper name. Even the spell-checker doesn’t like Boudicca.

However, unless I’m going to set myself up with a bodycam I don’t suppose I’ll be able to do much about it.

Image result for mobility scooters law

Ancient British Warrior Queen

Image result for boadicea

Little Old Lady out Shopping – photo from pixabay.com

That has set me thinking about old people and an experiment I have in mind. We have an endless supply of them, so if we lose a few along the way I don’t suppose it will matter. Well, it will matter to them, but it won’t matter to me.

My idea is to fit Mobility Scooters with defibrillators wired into the horns. Sound your horn at me and you will get a high voltage reminder about courteous driving.

OK, it might see one or two of them off, but in conservation terms they are of Least Concern so it’s not like losing a Black-Footed Ferret or an Orangutan.

This way we can teach the drivers better road manners and, in all probability, liven some of them up. The unlucky few who can’t cope with 1,000 volts will serve as an example to anyone else who wants to run me down on the footpath.

(Two cautionary notes before any elderly readers get upset – I’m old too. I’m officially old enough for free prescriptions and tonight, at the pharmacy I wasn’t quizzed as to whether I had to pay for prescriptions. Though I’m not yet old enough to spread terror on the footpaths in a mobility scooter.

And two, a serious point – I was once rammed in the back of my legs by someone driving one of these scooters in a Supermarket. They need tests and they need insurance! And I need protection.)

Some Housekeeping

To start with, we are literally doing some housekeeping and saying goodbye to the lovingly hoarded rammel of a decade. Actually, according to some of the paperwork, that’s two decades.

I have to keep documents for seven years for tax purposes, but the problem is that I never remember to throw things out. I need a system of rotation, like a shop, rather than my current system of piling, like a compost heap.

With the help of a shredder, I intend that most of the old paperwork will shortly be entering a compost heap, but after that, rotation will be my watchword.

Another watchword is, of course, good intentions. OK, so it’s two words, but it’s close enough.

The writing exercises are going well. This is Day Three of the blogging challenge, so it’s still on track. It’s not particularly impressive viewed against the record of some of the more prolific and regular bloggers on WP, but it’s getting back to where I want it to be.

The more I write, the more I want to write, so it’s working well. That’s probably a theme I will return to, as I recently read an article on prolific writing and the way it helps generate ideas. It’s working for blogging, and it’s working for Haibun.

So, decluttering and back to writing. That’s two things. I’m now going to get to grips with making a list of all the irksome little jobs I have to do.

There are a lot of them.

But first, I’m going to make Julia a cup of tea.

And they say romance is dead…

No photos today – the ancient netbook doesn’t seem able to handle photographs tonight and just spent twenty minutes freezing.

 

 

Scone Chronicles XXI

It’s a bit late, but if we go back a while I can pull in a very nice afternoon snack and re-use some Puffin pictures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Puffin at Bempton – Sad-Faced Clown Contemplating a Life Devoid of Eccles Cakes

At the end of our second trip of the year to Bempton Cliffs we decided to see if there was room at the cafe. It had been quite crowded on the first visit but was slightly better this time, despite the presence of two coaches in the Car Park.

I just suggested a cup of tea, and asked a lady if we could share her table. As a result, my conscience is clear. It was Julia’s idea to buy the Eccles Cakes, and all the damage done to my weight control plan is a direct result of her dietary delinquency.

 

I like Eccles Cakes. They are available in supermarkets all over the country and they are crammed with dried fruit, sugar and fat. As they have dried fruit they must be full of fibre and vitamins too. What’s not to like?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Puffins at Bempton – eyeing Up my Eccles Cakes

My all time favourite is the Sad Cake. My grandmothers made Sad Cakes. They are like Chorley cakes but more pastry and less fruit. The Chorley cake link includes information on Sad Cakes. I used to make them when we visited. I also used to make Rock Buns. I was quite handy in those days. I really must start baking again.

Eccles cakes are probably more palatable but sometimes it’s the association rather than the actual food that makes things a favourite.

There are many variations on the fruit, flour and fat theme. These include Welsh Cakes, Shrewsbury Cakes and Blackburn Cakes. To be honest, despite having lived in Blackburn I’d not heard of that one until this evening. It was a footnote on one of the links and is, it seems, stewed apple in a pastry case. Sounds like a pasty to me.

Anyway, the tea was good, the Eccles cakes were good, the company was good, the clifftop sea breeze was good and the Tree Sparrows and Jackdaws were fun to watch. A Jackdaw can fit a lot of bread in its beak. Five big pieces torn of the edges of sandwiches by the kids on the neighbouring table.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jackdaw at Bempton Cliffs

 

A New Start

Time, I think, for a new start.

I’ve allowed myself to lose focus in the last month or so and I actually missed a deadline this week. Normally I have a list of deadlines to work tom but I’d let it slip. Suddenly I realised that the 30th June was only days away.

I hate submitting at the end of a submission window because you’re never sure if a rejection is due to quality or due to the fact they already have enough good stuff.

Add an extra variable, that I hadn’t been completing  enough material, and I had to make the tough decision to let the deadline pass.

I didn’t like doing it, but it’s better to leave it than submit rubbish. It was due to go to an editor I hadn’t sent anything to before and I didn’t see any point in making myself look unprofessional.

I have now set myself a number of targets, which I’m not going to share until I see which ones are working. This is, I admit, a bit of a cop out but I feel happier that way. It’s also erring on the side of modesty as I’ve set myself some stiff targets. If I hit them all and tell you about them it might look like I’m boasting.

However, one I will reveal is that I’m back to daily posting. This Day One. It’s the easy one. Day Two might be trickier.

I will also reveal that I’m setting myself a target of at least 185 words per post. That avoids the temptation to take shortcuts because it’s about practising writing, not just ticking off the days.

Fine words. Let’s see how it works out.

The pictures are poppies in the front garden. Each morning three or four open up. By the evening they have blown away. We have several clumps of them and, apart from some minor deadheading, we don’t do anything to them. They even planted themselves. You have to admire that in a flower.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Poppies growing from cracks in concrete. The rumpled effect smooths out as the day draws on.

 

Starting with Teeth…

The good news is that I have no more dental work for a while. Having spent the last two weeks with a temporary cap I’m now pleased to record that I’ve just had my new crowns fitted.

I have kept the old ones, because one is gold. I’m thinking, as with the previous one that I kept, that they will be useful if the world banking system collapses. I’m also wondering about the idea of melting them down and using them to make a piece of jewellery for Julia.

Dental gold, I’m told, is about 60% pure, which makes it close to 15 carat gold. This was a standard used by the Victorians and I’ve always liked it. This probably seems strange, but there are some nice items made in 15 carat. It went out of use in 1932. Unfortunately, it’s quite close to 14 carat gold, a tawdry American standard that has been popularised in the UK by TV shopping channels. They have also popularised chocolate diamonds. Brown jewellery, whatever next?

And here is another place where American and English diverge as languages. We have the word carat, which describes the weight of a diamond and the fineness of gold. In America they have carat for the weight of diamonds and karat for the fineness of gold. It is both an example of American logic and the capacity of the English language for absorbing ambiguity.

You only need to think of a metal cleaning solution made in Eastern Europe. That would be Polish polish, and I’m sure most of you instinctively read it as that.

Further to the story of the skip – Julia finally tracked the company down and on being told that they couldn’t do anything, informed them in steely tones that she was sure they could.

They could, she said, either provide us with a skip or refund us for the one they had taken away early.

They are sending us a new skip tomorrow.

Then I left the AA. That for American readers, is like the AAA, but not based in America. My breakdown cover was due to cost me £312. I looked at it and decided I can’t afford it. So I looked at reducing cover, and got it to £171.

At that point I turned to the internet. I could, if I was joining the AA for the first time, get the reduced cover for £25 less. I’ve had this argument with them before and, after 38 years of continuous membership, it finally annoyed me so much I decided to do something about it.

I now have breakdown cover with Green Flag. It has cost me £58 and offers, on paper, the all the important elements of the AA cover.

Of course, I’ll only know if I’ve done the right thing when I’m stranded on a dark road in the middle of a rainy winter night. That’s what always worries me when changing insurance, have I done the right thing or have I sacrificed security for a few quid?

Featured image is a Razorbill. I was just wondering about sticking some lipstick on it and calling it a Puffin.

 

Has It Really Been So Long?

We’ve been back to Bempton Cliffs. It was busy, it was full of people with dogs and there were quite a lot of Puffins about.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Puffins at Bempton Cliffs

I like Puffins.

I’m not so keen on crowds.

And I think that dog owners should have to pass a test before being allowed out in public. I had to wait at the entrance to the visitor centre as two pairs of dogs  faced off. I’ve been forced off paths and tripped several times too.

Anyway, here are some photos.