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Haiku Challenge – 1st Report

A thousand haiku in a hundred days.

I seemed simple enough, even after reading this article.

Buson started his original challenge on Buddha’s birthday.  Joan Zimmerman started hers on 4th July. I started mine on the day I thought of it. That was the first lesson – if I’m going to be arty I have to start looking at the details.

So, how is it going?

Well, I’m twelve days in and should, to be on target, have produced 120 haiku. That’s a lot, particularly as I find them quite tough. I actually missed a day but managed to pull it back by writing extra the next day.

I’m actually ahead of the count, but that’s not really important.

My main problem with haiku is that even though the 5-7-5 syllable count is not now considered necessary there are still several rules to follow – season words, cutting words and such – and I tend to cramp up when composing.

Making myself write haiku in quantity was hard for the first few days but I’m now more relaxed about it and they are coming more easily. I’m even writing a few decent ones. In time I hope to become both more prolific and a better writer.

So far it seems to be working.





Some Thoughts on Sandwiches

The high point of the day so far has been my lunchtime chicken sandwich. I sliced the meat from some chicken drumsticks we had in the fridge last night, added bread, mayonnaise and redcurrant jelly and ended up with sandwiches. They turned out to be rather nice. Even Julia said so, and she’s usually my sternest critic in the matter of sandwiches.

I would have liked stuffing on the sandwich too, but forgot all about cooking it until it was too late. I just checked what the Americans call stuffing, as it seemed a likely word for causing confusion. It seems that Americans call it stuffing if it’s cooked inside the bird and dressing if it’s cooked outside.

I know a local hotelier who calls it seasoning. I once asked him why.

“Well,” he said, “I have a three star hotel and provide a fine dining experience. I don’t want any of my staff asking a customer if they’d like stuffing.”

It’s back to cheese and pickle tomorrow. I like cheese and pickle.

I suppose this makes me appear both shallow and unadventurous compared to the sophisticated, cosmopolitan crowd that reads the blog so perhaps I should have pickled onions instead.


A Month of Months

Along with the list of days, there is a list of things that this month represents.

There’s pizza, black cats and family history, but there’s also mental illness and cancer and the chance of offending people.

So, despite the potential for some good jokes, I’m skating over it.

I will just leave you with an example of a line I can’t believe they used.

“We think you may also like… ” isn’t too bad, apart from the context, as in:

“We think you may also like… World Mental Health Day and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month.” 

The cancer one is even worse.


A Day of Days

It’s cold, it’s grey and it’s the 290th day of the year (leaving 75 days until the forced jollity of yet another New Years Day).

It is Spreadsheet Day, Hagfish Day, Global Dignity Day, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty Day, Take Your Parents to Lunch Day, Wear Something Gaudy Day, Mulligan Day, Playing Card Collection Day and Forgive an Ex Day.

From our time running the Quercus group I knew there were lots of special days, but I didn’t know there were this many.

I’ll take a quick run through them.

Spreadsheet Day – don’t use them. If I’ve managed without them for 60 years I can’t see that they are a lot of use.

Hagfish Day – never seen it on a menu so I think we can safely ignore it.

Global Dignity Day – sounds like someone, somewhere got a grant and is busily building a career based on bullshit.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – each year people gather “to renew their resolve to combat poverty”. I’m sure all the poor people are suitably impressed.

Take Your Parents to Lunch Day – I can’t help thinking that this would be better on a Sunday when the kids aren’t working or at school.

Wear Something Gaudy Day – in our house, I thought, every day is Wear Something Gaudy Day.  However, when you read the information it seems the bar is set considerably higher by the enthusiasts.

Mulligan Day – American slang about second chances. We already have enough American slang thank you, so I’ll take a rain check on that one.

Playing Card Collection Day –  got to be good. Days about collecting should be encouraged. I just went looking for the correct name for a playing card collector. I didn’t find it but I did find the material for a whole new post.

Forgive an Ex Day – Why? They’re an Ex for a reason. We were discussing a new gift shop idea the other day when we got fed up with eBay – wondering if there would be a market for insulting gifts. This would be a good day to try it out – sending a bunch of dead flowers and Turkish Delight flavoured with rosewater and the bitter tears of regret.

That is probably enough now. It was meant to be a post detailing my progress in my 1,000 Haiku Challenge but it seems to have been diverted.

The next post might be about Haiku but as it’s Pizza Month I may just carry on with more random discussion of the vagaries of modern life.





A Few Loose Ends

We went to the garage this morning – Julia had a ride on the ramp and I watched as the car cost me another £65.

Julia bought breakfast at McDonalds – yes, I’m ashamed of myself – and I dropped her off at work before going to work myself.

We only had two questions to answer and three parcels to post so I’d finished by the time everryone else turned up.

We sold one of these today – less than 24 hours after putting it on. Judging from the poertraits it commemorates the marriage of a monkey to an unsuccessful professional pugilist.


Royal Wedding medallion

Work went, as work does – a few customers, sorting some halfpennies, answering the phone, more things to put on eBay, then, as we were getting ready to go, two people bought things and we had two more parcels to do.

Back at home, I picked up my post, which informed me that I’d passed my blood test and have three weeks before the next one.

Eating tea and relaxing, I was distirbed by a text asking for a lift. Number Two son is on the way back from Manchester airport after returning from his German holiday.

And that, I think, is everything up to date.

Well, not quite. Just had a phone call to say No2 son is waiting in Sheffield after the Nottingham train was cancelled.

And while I think of it – I had an email from the farm (the venue for the original Quercus group). The ariel photo shows many changes, but the song remains the same. They have another community group running and are once again asking for cash. two years after getting rid of us they don’t seem much further forward. Maybe there will be a different outcome this time. Maybe…

I’ve blocked them from sending more emails.


A Crowded Day…

I had a blood test this morning so I hauled myself out of bed at 6.30 and muttered my way around the house.

By 7.05 I was yelling abuse at someone who was having trouble lining up his car to take a ticket from the machine and gain access to the car park. Unfortunately I’d already wound my window down in readiness to reaching for my ticket so he heard more of my comments than I’d really intended. The atmosphere, as we stepped out of our cars after parking, was a touch frosty.

At 7.10 I was ready and waiting with ticket 110 clasped in my hand. At 7.14 they called ticket 103. I read some more of my book on Vikings and watched the big screen with their advert for the NHS. I’m not sure why they need to spend money on promotional films, it’s not like there’s a rival health service or anything.

They got to me just after 7.30, which wasn’t too bad. I think I probably passed, as the blood seemed to flow well. In fact it was a bit tricky to stop it. There has been no phone call so I’m hoping to get at least two weeks before another test.

Back at the car I checked my leaky tyre and noticed it was looking quite flat. This only affected the bottom of the tyre but these things have a tendency to spread. As I’d blown it up less than 24 hours earlier I decided action was needed.  My original plan had been to slot it in between jobs in the afternoon, but this clearly needed action now.

My local garage opens at 7.00 so they put the spare on for me. There were two nails in the leaky tyre, and, to make things worse, considerable wear inside the tyre where the tracking appears to be out. I’m going to pick up the new tyre tomorrow morning and it looks like I’ll be getting the tracking done soon too. I’m definitely not buying expensive tyres again – I’ve had nothing but bad luck with this set.

After that I had time to impersonate Hemingway writing in a Parisian cafe. I was actually in McDonalds in Arnold but my intentions were good. I was catching up on my haiku challenge, which I mentioned a couple of days ago.

On Sunday I didn’t write any, so today I have twenty to do. At the time of writing I have done nine. This isn’t too bad as it means I’m pretty much in the same position as I was yesterday – just a day behind. I’m seven days in and have two hours to write thirty three lines of non-rhyming poetry. They don’t even need to be good. That shouldn’t be a problem – disappointing haiku are one of my specialities.

I will cover this question of quality in a post later in the week.

We had thirteen parcels to pack this morning, plus a few minor jobs, which neatly filled the three hours.  I posted the massive lot of royalty medals just before lunch and notice we have sold one already.

On my return home I spent an hour or so reading WP, including catching up with escapetothebarn.

Next I had to drop Number Two Son off at the station as he’s flying back to Malta from Stanstead tomorrow. Julia had some extra hours today so it was just a short trip to The Meadows where I waited 20 minutes for her to finish and took some pictures through the rainy windscreen. The “Meadows” is not a very accurate description.

I wasn’t sure if I had enough rain in the picture so I took one of my mirror too.


Rain in a rear view mirror

We had chicken thighs and mediterranean vegetables for tea, mainly because we had a lot of courgettes to eat. We also had rosemary from the garden and ready chopped garlic from a jar.

I’ve decided that life is too short to chop garlic.


It might have been a mistake to use a random subject generator…

I couldn’t decide what to write about today so I turned to an online random subject generator.

This is what it gave me:

What has made you angry recently?

Let me count the ways, as Shakespeare said.

Random subject generators would be a good start. I could have written that without prompting but I’m aiming for a pleasanter and more reflective me. I was hoping for something like puppies or rainbows.

If I want a prompt for an outpouring of bile I could do that myself.

British Telecom, idiotic enquiries on the phone, unseasonably warm weather when I’m dressed for autumn, people who can’t park properly, idiotic enquiries in person, coworkers taking my sellotape, American spellings, Christmas preparations in October, children with plastic harmonicas, the way I’ve wasted my life and people who say “I have a rare coin.”

Yes, I’ve been sitting in a shop sweating in unseasonable heat answering the phone and typing in opposition to an American-themed spell-checker.

Most stupid enquiry – “I have a coin from 1980, how much is it worth?”

Despite the BT troubles when we moved in and the (wrong) replacement router, the broadband seems to drop off when the phone rings. It doesn’t happen all the time, and seems to be related to the IQ of the caller.

I’ve covered the rest of the things in previous general rants, apart from the child with the plastic harmonica.

Don’t get me started…

It’s lucky they don’t let us carry pistols in the UK.