Tag Archives: blogging

Monday, a Day of Promise

I rose at a moderate time, washed up and made breakfast. I tried to make Julia a heart-shaped fried egg but the egg didn’t quite spread inside the frame and then it started to stick to the pan and in the end it looked like three-quarters of an egg, as long as you knew it was supposed to be an heart. If you didn’t know what it was meant to be you wouldn’t have known what it was. My own egg was much more successful as I set out to produce an odd-shaped free-form fried egg with crispy bits, and that was exactly what I ended up with.

Once they were shoved into a cob with bacon and mushrooms it didn’t matter what shape they were. All that matters to me is that my yolk is hard. I don’t really like runny yolks at the best of times but they are a hazard to shirt fronts when used in a sandwich. Julia likes her yolk soft, but as my wife of thirty years, she is accustomed to disappointment.

 

I have read the comments on my posts, added the word ‘cyanosis’ to one and added a couple of lines to another.

My first post of the day is now done, my new medication has been delivered by a hospital volunteer and Julia is clinking with menace as she sorts jam jars and emanates expectations. She wants me to start filling the skip with bits of shed. She has dragged it to the driveway and it is now time for me to do my bit. I will potter out to offer support and supervision in a moment, then come back to this.

By the magic of WordPress I am now back.

She had been struggling to dismantle a bookcase which had suffered from years of standing in a leaky shed and is therefore un-salvageable. This is the sad state of quite a lot of stuff, including things that had been safely stored in the dry garage last time I saw them. Married men will recognise the note of pain in my writing.

Anyway. the bookcase fell apart from a few taps with a rubber mallet. If I had been able to access a proper hammer it would have taken considerably fewer taps. With a proper Enoch I reckon one blow would have done it. That’s right, when I am in full swing, we are never far from a Luddite link.

Last night, whilst relaxing, I started to read WordPress. I haven’t really done that for years now. It was a very pleasant experience. I’m going to write another few posts to top my total up to two thousand then I’m going to cut back on posting and increase my reading.

Don’t get me wrong – I like all the blogs I read, but I’ve been limited in the last few years and have struggled even to keep up with sporadic reading of my regulars. Given a little more time I’m going to enjoy more reading, particularly as I was able to catch up with a few people I haven’t read for years.

Despite the weather, which features a cold breeze and a threatening low grey sky, I’m feeling quite sunny today, and am hoping that this frame of mind persists.

I’m going to throw in a few cheerful flower photographs from Harlow Carr Gardens and make beans on toast for lunch.

All photographs are irises in spring from our visits to Harlow Carr Garden, apart from the header which is Julia in the Mencap garden at Wilford.

Another Snapshot

Sometimes things just don’t work out.

I had intended to make another short post yesterday evening, with a view to doing three short posts a day for the next few days. I just thought I’d introduce some pace and variety.variety.

So I put the vegetables in the oven and sat down to write. I have a behemoth of a post in preparation and wanted to cut it down from 900 words to 600. I think of 600 words as long enough for someone to plough through. After forty minutes I sat back and looked at the result. It is now 1,100 words and has five extra photographs. Editing is not as easy as it sounds.

As you may have noticed, I didn’t write the post I intended. I am easily distracted.

We ate after that and I had a nap in front of the TV. I woke, read and procrastinated. For the purposes of my diary that counts as three activities. Waking is not as simple as it used to be. For one thing, I don’t become instantly alert as I used to, and for another, it now takes a little more effort to rearrange my limbs.

I have a police procedural on my Kindle and even though it cost nothing I am seriously wondering if it was worth it. There are parts of it where I find myself seriously thinking they should be paying me to read it.

When I accept an award, or a big cheque (I’m not fussy which), for my as yet unwritten prize-winning historical crime novel, I will cite this one as my inspiration. Something along the lines of “I thought if this garbage can get published I really ought to write one myself.”

Tea was roasted vegetables (carrot, leek, parsnip, swede and broccoli) with the last of the gammon and a bit of gravy. Time to cut back on bread and potatoes I think.

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Gammon, roast veg and gravy

Suddenly I had 300 words, which isn’t short by my standards, and it’s the early hours of the morning. I woke up six hours later and realised that although I’d finished the writing I hadn’t published it. So here it is.

Good Intentions

Prologue

I wrote this post about twenty hours ago, apart from this paragraph. The penultimate sentence was true. I did serve tea. The final sentence did not come true. It should have read “Then I am going to watch comedy programmes and fall asleep in front of the fire, finally waking after midnight and going to bed without posting.” Now that you know that I can pass you over to last night’s second post, secure in the knowledge that it should now make sense.

The header picture is one of my favourite photos, despite its imperfections – you don’t often see a butterfly soon enough to picture it on a crocus. I took it four or five years ago but still like to see it. The other two were things I was working on today.

I walked through to the kitchen half an hour ago with the intention of cooking tea, writing a quick blog post and starting to firm up my presentation. It’s only three weeks away and it’s looking rather under-prepared. I say “under-prepared” but I might actually mean “not started”.

In the old days I used to give talks on the Sealed Knot and the English Civil War. I’d stick a uniform on, grab a box of equipment and set off, often with an assistant, stand in front of an audience and start. No preparation, no heart-searching and, most importantly, no Power Point. I’ve never even used an overhead projector for presentations.

I am absolutely dreading the forthcoming presentation – everybody uses Power Point these days and the audience will be expecting it. Even if I prepare the slides properly I still have the problem of standing, talking and pressing a button at the same time. That’s three things! I’m not sure I’m up to it.

I don’t have an assistant for this talk, so I can’t even tell the audience, “And now I’ll pass you over to Julia.” She used to hate that.

Meanwhile, back at the blog…

I sat down, started looking at comments and found myself whisked away to a world of poetry, parties, hummingbirds, health, ponies, gardens and various amusing characters. I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting my WP reading dreadfully. Sorry about that.

The result of that I left the potato wedges in too long before adding the veggie burgers and not only did I write no blog, but I am now going to have overly crispy potato wedges.

It will be a busy day tomorrow, in place of our usual day off. Julia has a hair appointment in the morning and a meeting in the late afternoon/early evening. We have several collections booked in tomorrow – everyone seems to be selling at the moment – and I’ve been asked to go in as we are going to need to be at full strength.

Banknotes of Sudan

Banknotes of Sudan

After a slow start to the year its good to see that things are finally moving, and I’m glad that the request for the extra day came. when it did – I was going to be lonely tomorrow without Julia. I now have a full day planned, extra pay and somewhere warm to sit without increasing my domestic fuel bill.

I’ve even, eventually, managed to complete the post.

Now I’m going to serve tea.

Then I will add tags and photos.

Medallion - Her Majesty at 90

Medallion – Her Majesty at 90. Complete with gold-plating, spot colour and a Swarovski Crystal, because nothing says “quality tribute” like a garish, blinged up medallion with a crystal in it.

How Did I Do?

I’m writing another post, though it’s hours later than I planned.

I washed up, cooked my tea and cooked the ratatouille for tomorrow. And possibly the day after.

I watched tea and relaxed after Julia returned from her busy social life eating pizza, read the end of a Hamish MacBeth novel and moved a few things round (that’s a Stage I declutter).

The wrestling with my conscience went well, and by the time Julia returned I was ready to serve up my healthy tea.

The veggie burgers, with spicy mushrooms and ratatouille, were very acceptable, They kept their shape and the rice seemed to work. Whether the rice is worth the bother is a different matter. It’s one of the few things I ever worry about in relation to food poisoning.

That leaves a number of things not done, including most of the blog reading, the new lists, the washing up…

I did procrastinate rather well though, even if I say so myself, and am torn between pride at procrastinating so well, and shame at my idleness.

The photographs? Ah, well…

By the time I had served the food it wasn’t looking particularly photogenic and I was quite hungry.

Tomorrow’s list includes just three items.

Take Julia to the doctor (for a review, nothing serious)

Blog (as it’s after midnight I’m already in “tomorrow”, so that’s in progress).

Eat cake with father. It’s his 91st birthday party. We are men of simple pleasures.

Oh, and do the washing up which I avoided tonight.

That makes four items. I’ll maker it five by adding the requirement to rough out the talk for the Numismatic Society. That’s enough for a day off.

Photos tonight come from an old camera card I found stored with some flash drives I’m using for the presentation. I’ve used some but it’s easier to reload them than try to pull them from the depths of my WP photo library.

The sunset is from the farm and the others are from Whitby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Declutter

 

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Read

 

 

 

An Addiction to WordPress

Just over five years ago  I wandered into WordPress with the intention of practising my writing, gaining some publicity for the Quercus Community group and learning a bit more about Social Media.

As things turned out, I did learn to write faster, even if the accuracy and quality is a bit uneven. The group closed. I’ll say no more about that or I will find myself dwelling on how we were stabbed in the back by a hypocrite. I realised, after a while, that I wasn’t meant for Social Media. If they had Anti-Social Media I am your man.

I first learned there was more to WP than just writing about myself when I read a few posts. One that stuck in my mind was by some doddery old geezer in Hampshire. He pottered about, took photos and ended all his blogs with a description of what he had for tea and what he drank with it.

Five years later I’m addicted to his blog. Whether this is because it’s deceptively beguiling, or whether it’s because I’ve turned into a doddery old git is difficult to say.

His legions of followers argue for the former, but a quick look in the mirror also suggests the latter is not far from the truth.

And that sums up my WordPress experience – gentle addiction. I have really missed the reading and writing and companionship over the last week while I have been condemned to cyber-limbo. This applies to all of you who haven’t been mentioned too.

This post is a bit gushing and upbeat for my taste, which I blame on reading all these Pollyanna-style American blog posts. Don’t think it’s going to be repeated. I missed you all. I’ve admitted it. And I don’t think we need to mention it again.

I am now going to visit the blog of a man whom I regard as my spiritual mentor. Thanks to him I now take my porridge with salt and water and have learned more about choral singing than I am ever likely to need, bearing in mind that I have a voice that grates like the creaking of hinges on a crypt door.

Those of you who require an antidote to the modern fashion for inappropriate cheerfulness could do worse than join me.

I’m off to find some photos now, probably the ones of sunrise which I unwillingly took a couple of days ago when, due to the stupidity of an auctioneer, I had to go to the Sorting Office to pick up a parcel.

 

The Difficult Second Potato

After several abortive attempts at writing today’s post I decided it wasn’t depression or politics, or even the crush of ideas and bitterness that was preventing me writing – it was trying to use the netbook on my knee while I sat by the fire.

Just after 10.30 I stepped through to the dining room with the intention of sitting down and sorting myself out.

It didn’t happen -there were comments to read and reply to and sandwiches to make for tomorrow. Finally there was washing up. Yes, washing up seemed preferable to sitting down and blogging.

I now have around 20 minutes to post and keep to my target of daily posting. I’m now limited by the time, and by the fact that I am slowly getting colder. Eventually, based on past experience, I will get so cold that I stop thinking. This is’t a bad thing because since the election I’ve mainly been thinking that everything is a complete mess. I have had to discard several posts because they were a bit too serious, and probably a bit too libellous. It’s one thing saying something to Julia, or shouting it at the TV, but once you write it down you have to prove it.

We had Hasselback potatoes again today. I was a little more relaxed with the cutting, and it did not go as well as the first lot. This is often the way with the second in a series. I tried the stir fried sprouts again too, this time with added chestnuts. I’m intending to have it at Christmas. We have settled on turkey for Christmas this year (as we have done for about the last fifteen years). We will also have roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, stuffing, bread sauce, redcurrant jelly and Yorkshire puddings.

I just noticed it’s gone midnight…

I know Yorkshire puddings aren’t traditional but Julia likes them so they are traditional for us. Personally, I’d rather have beef, pork or gammon. If anyone had suggested a nut roast I’d probably have gone for that. Even a goose. They are greasy but traditional.

It was the kids who got us back onto turkey – we’d been having beef or pork for years but they started to ask for turkey because all their friends had turkey. Now it’s become a habit. It’s not so bad now that you can buy a small crown roast – enough for a meal and a few sandwiches. Much better than the days of turkey curry, turkey stir fry and, finally, turkey soup.

I’ve started the Christmas shopping list and tomorrow I start the shopping. I’ll probably also start moaning about Christmas tomorrow.

Strictly speaking, our Christmas starts when I buy the cheese footballs. This is normally when they first appear in the Shops in Autumn, as it can be touch and go nearer to the day. I’m surprised, on looking for links, that I only seem to have mentioned them twice over the years as they are an important part of Christmas.

First the cheese footballs, then the ancient Santa card I bought Julia for our first Christmas. (I’ve also bought her one every year since, in case you are wondering), then the shopping.

The two pictures from the archives sum up the full horror of the forced jollity of Christmas, and the silent fury of a man who, having realised that he has wasted his life on trivia, will never break the bank at Monte Carlo, win a Nobel prize or, in all probability, look down and see his feet again.

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Time, I think, in my tour of British poets, to turn to Dylan Thomas. I’m sure you know the one I’m thinking of. I am, after all, a man of habit and small learning.

 

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.

 

 

Why I Started Blogging

 I started blogging for two reasons. One was that I thought Quercus Community needed a profile on Social Media. That reason has passed, as there is no group now, and I really should change the name. I did say I was going to do this a year ago but I am famous for my inertia.

The second was that I needed more practice writing. I’d become slack and lazy and unproductive. I’m still slack and lazy, but it has made me more productive. I can, as I found yesterday, knock out a thousand words in an hour. I didn’t mean to time it but I had about an hour to fill and I did two posts in that time (one still to be published) which came to 970 words. In my world that’s near enough a thousand.

The reason I wanted to write more was that I enjoy it. I had also looked at something called “content writing” and thought it offered a way of making money. Not a fortune, but enough to keep us fed. Unfortunately, when I had a serious look at it the sites offering employment they all seemed to be full of American students offering to write for next to nothing.

My plan of writing to keep us supplied with groceries collapsed. That sort of money is only enough to buy biscuits and, to be honest, it’s easier just to give up biscuits and write things I enjoy but don’t get paid for.

At the moment I’m going through a bit of a slump with the blog and failing miserably at my self-inflicted target of a post a day.

It’s partly to do with time, partly to do with inclination and partly to do with equipment. I still haven’t had the laptop repaired and the netbook isn’t very inspiring. In other words, I only have myself to blame.

And that’s it. Just 300 words in twenty minutes today, because there’s not much more to say. However, it is interesting to note, as with poetry writing, that the more you do, the more fluent you get.

I’m avoiding the word “better” as I’m not convinced my writing is better than it was – just that there is more of it.

Distractions…

I have 25 minutes before I have to take Number Two Son to work, so just 25 minutes to write this post. I’ve had all day to do it, but haven’t been able to concentrate and get anything written.

I’m slightly distracted by the different colours that seem to have appeared on WordPress. My “Publish” button is an unattractive shade of red, instead of green and several other things have changed colour too. I’d love to know why, as it’s definitely not an improvement. Things were fine just the way they were, and I can’t help thinking there were more important things to do, like fixing the inability of my site to search for photos that are more than a couple of weeks old.

Apart from that, I’m distracted by the number of things I have to do. I have three book reviews to write, for instance, but can’t seem to get to grips with any of them.

At least I managed to run a few errands with Julia today (it was an unadventurous day off today) and finish a book that arrived in the post yesterday. It was a short book.

And so, in twelve minutes I’ve accomplished what I couldn’t manage in the previous twelve hours.

Amazing what a little time pressure will do.

When I post this I will be in the final week of my 100 post challenge and down into single figures for the haiku challenge. Time to think of what will replace them. I’ve gone off the 100 tearoom challenge as I’m having to think of my weight.

The photographs are from a visit to Anderby Creek in 2017, which was a day I remember fondly.

 

 

 

Decisions…

I’ve delivered Julia to work, I’ve re-set my car clock to GMT and I’ve had a drive round to look at nature from the inside of a heated car.

I hadn’t intended driving round so didn’t have a notebook with me, and have returned with two haiku and a couple of notes scribbled on the back of a car park ticket. I keep meaning to get a recorder to carry with me – this phone doesn’t seem to offer that facility.

I’m now facing a big decision. Do I do the laundry or do I write a post? I think you can probably guess the answer from the fact you are reading this.

It will save time later, as the days soon pass and I’m so disorganised that it could easily be close to midnight before I actually press the button to publish. That’s what happened last night. I  started writing around 7.00 and it was close to midnight when I eventually posted. It didn’t, as you may guess, take me five hours to write. But somehow I managed to fill the rest of the time with eating, napping, watching TV, talking to Julia and surfing eBay.

At the moment “out of control” is the theme of my life. The garden needs tidying, the house needs a serious declutter and I have letters to write regarding both health and finance – all important stuff.

I have also lost control of my haiku. I don’t know how many I’ve written on my challenge (though it is at least ten a day, so I’m keeping up with it) and I still have a lot to edit,  type and index. It’s the indexing that’s tricky. They don’t have titles. They don’t lend themselves to numbering due to my habit of making and keeping multiple edits. Quite often they have the same first line (see previous comments on multiple edits). All in all they are slippery little creatures and trying to keep them under control is like trying to herd hamsters.

Looks like I’m going to have to look at numbering again, or risk upsetting an editor.

This post marks 21 successive days of posting. Early days yet, but I’m starting to establish a habit.

At this point the 21 days could be significant, as the old saying is that it takes 21 days to form a habit. This, as with so many things, is a myth. Newer research indicates that it takes between 18 and 254 days to form a habit.

Writing haiku, which was a development of my normal poetry writing only seemed to take a week to take hold but my broken blogging habit doesn’t feel established after 21 days. Eating salad would probably take 254 days to become a habit. Even at 254 days it wouldn’t so much be a case of forming a habit, more like breaking my spirit and me losing the will to live.