It’s 8.15, it’s Sunday and I have just finished looking through my emails and the WP comments. It’s what passes for social interaction in what I refer to as “my life”. When summarised in a single sentence it isn’t much of a life. No editor has been in touch overnight, no Lottery win has been communicated and I have, as yet, not interacted with another human. (Julia is still in that Sunday morning phase where she is grunting from inside a cocoon of duvet, in case you were wondering. Not human. Not interaction).
I have had inspiration for some haibun prose since waking this morning, and I had a very peculiar dream about something. I can remember it was peculiar, but as time passes, I can’t remember anything other than that. Dreams are like that.
On the subject of teachers, however, I seem to have a set of superpowers I did not know existed. I can remember nearly every teacher who ever taught me, and I can remember something good about nearly every one of them. I won’t bore you with a list, but I was amazed how, once I started, I couldn’t stop remembering them. It would be better if I could remember everything they taught me, but that, unfortunately, is beyond me.
I’d have liked to have been a teacher, but it was not to be. My mother wanted to be a teacher too, but it didn’t happen. Same with my paternal grandmother. It’s a small enough ambition but my grandmother was told she had to work on the farm, my mother was told she had to get a job to help support the family. I was merely told by the careers teacher that people always said teaching when they couldn’t think of anything else and I should find something else.
When spoke to Julia about this she said she’d been told to consider a career as a waitress or hairdresser, because she would no doubt get married and stop work to raise a family. Fifteen years later she completed a part-time post-grad diploma whilst number one son, at the age of two weeks, slept on the seat next to her in the lecture hall.
We used to have a saying when I was in sales – “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.”
You could say the same about life – “Nothing happens until somebody teaches something.”
And with that, I will leave you. It’s 8.46 and I am hungry.
Ha! I just remembered the name of a history teacher that had been eluding me.
I have always had a feeling that if I could direct all, my thinking to one thing at a time I could do great things. These days I feel that if I could direct all my thinking to just one thing I would still have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast three days ago, or that I had to write a blog post before midnight.
Somewhere in my head that simple instruction still exists, just as it did for every one of the 24 consecutive days that WP flagged up. In the past it has served me well in reminding me to blog for many months of consecutive days. But somehow I have allowed it to become less preeminent. Over the last week or two I have been struggling to finalise some submissions for the end of the month. I’m never sure whether it’s best to get in at the start of a submission period or at the end, but I do know it’s important to make sure you submit at some point. So that’s one set of deadlines. I also have the 10 haiku a day target, which is wandering about all over the place. Some days are good, some days are hard. I’m also behind with that too, but well ahead on average. I’m concerned that binge writing isn’t really the best way to improve my haiku writing. On the other hand, it’s better than not writing at all. I know this from past experience. The “not writing” phase can easily creep up on you and you soon find you’ve been a month without writing. This hasn’t happened since I started blogging, but I know it’s still lurking . . .
To return to my original thought, all those other deadlines seem to have replaced the blogging deadline in my head.
Then, I admit. there was sentiment. It was Father’s Day at the weekend and though I have no great attachment to what is basically a made-up and superficial day devoted to merchandising The kids rang, which was nice, but reminds me that it’s a long time since I saw either of them, and for the first time in my life, I had no father to visit. All in all, a bit of a mixed day and a lot to think about.
Finally, just before going to bed. I had an email from the USA – two senryu and a haibun accepted for Failed Haiku. I like it as a magazine (a) because it accepts my work (which is always a plus) and (b) because both the editors are accomplished and interesting writers. In my mind there is a hierarchy of acceptance. The best acceptance is one from a writer you admire in a magazine that publishes good writers. That’s what I aim for these days, because I want to feel good about seeing my work in print.
That was how I decided to proceed when I started writing haibun. In my previous life as a poet I had originally targeted magazines with low standards and after two years and a dozen acceptances, was just starting to get poems in better magazines. This time round I decided to start at the top and see what happened. What’s the worse that could happen? A sneering letter of rejection (yes I had one or two), but so what? It’s not like anyone would know. People wouldn’t point at me in the street and laugh. So I went for it, and it seemed to work.
I really must try training my mind to think of one thing at a time, then do it before moving on to the next thing. That way I will avoid leaving a trail of art-completed projects behind me.
There was something else I was going to add, but I seem to have forgotten it. Considering what I said earlier, this is probably an appropriate place to end the post.
I have hit on a productive creative strategy – thinking whilst putting my socks on. After a certain amount of success with the technique yesterday, I managed to think about three projects this morning, including synopses and a few lines. Full of confidence, I set off down the stairs and, en route, completely forgot one of the pieces. Not only can I not recall the plan and lines, I can’t even remember the subject.
Fortunately two of them survived and the lesson about always having a pen and notebook available has been driven home. The trouble is that I either find myself with no notebook or too many notebooks. I am actually struggling with too many at the moment. I completed taking the notes from one last night but have one big book to do next and a few shorter notes to retrieve from other books. I can have as many as six or seven other books – upstairs, car, work, desk, living room, spares…
Then. like this morning, I can have none where I want them.
Nothing much else has happened today. I’ve dressed, thought, made two of the three notes I meant to make, had breakfast, read a few poems, checked a few things on Wiki, wrote a comment on a website and wrote this. Time goes, but nothing of consequence has been done.
I will now have another cup of tea, sit by the fire with an A4 pad and start to plan. After lunch (which will probably be soup and sandwiches) I must do something of consequence.
Alternatively I may watch Murder She Wrote.
“ It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends. Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
I fell for what was possibly an internet scam website last night. There is no fool, it seems, like an old fool. My computer loaded it, despite its normal disinclination to load websites without security certificates, so I suppose it must have one. The address started with https, so I thought is was OK. It even had some convincing testimonials on it. But you would do wouldn’t you?
When I came to pay, it didn’t seem to work properly, so I contacted their helpdesk. The email was returned. I looked for a phone number or address but there were none.
At that point I realised that I may have paid money for nothing, and that I had given up my name, address and three digit security code to a stranger who possibly had felonious intentions aimed at my bank account.
Fortunately the bank was very helpful. They confirmed that no payments had been made and that nobody had tried to use the card. It looked like someone had just left a dead website floating in cyberspace. However, they were very helpful and cancelled my card just to be on the safe side. It will take four working days to get a new card and it is already becoming a nuisance that I can’t use my card. Without my card, for instance, I can’t book an online shopping slot.
They did assure me that lots of people get caught every day by things like this and said there was no need to feel bad about it. (I was at the time bemoaning the fact that my mental faculties had become so blunt that I would fall for something like this.
It was a bit like the time I forgot my PIN number. It had, at that time, been the same for 25 years. Then one day and as I stood at a cashpoint I realised that my mind was blank. I did not have a clue what my number was. I couldn’t even think of the first number.
They told me then that it happened to lots of people, but I think they might have been lying to make the old fool feel better.
I am beginning to hate these senior moments.
I even forgot the title once. I thought of it as I wrote, but by the time I’d scrolled to the top I’d forgotten it. Scrolled down again, and I remembered.
I originally said I wanted to do two posts a day for a fortnight. Then, in my head, this became two posts a day for 15 days. I’ve just checked and counted up and I’ve done 27 posts in 14 days.
So, despite being ahead at one point, I have missed the target by one post. Or, if I adopt the 15 day target, I’m still in with a chance. Not that it really matters.
Whatever I do, the sun will still rise on a new day and, bit by bit, my life and writings will gradually decay until they disappear and nobody will remember me. That’s a serious point, rather than just me being morbid.
What happens to digital pictures and writing as time goes on? I already have some old camera cards I can’t read, though that may be because they are empty. I really can’t remember. I also have photographs on CD, though I notice a growing trend for laptops not to have CD drives. It’s possible that in a few years my CDs will lie there gathering dust in a house that has no CD drive.
Perhaps it is time to think about using cloud storage, though I’m not really clear what it is or how it really works. I am not altogether comfortable with trusting my life and documents to a third party. I’m afraid of another Word scenario, where I merely rent Microsoft Word instead of owning a copy, and where I belong to an American corporation rather than being a person.
If I live long enough I might have to rewrite that as “a Chinese corporation”, but though the details may change, the reality remains the same.
The header picture shows two British Medals from the Great War – known as “a pair” in the trade. This is the British War Medal (the silver one) and the Victory Medal. All the Allied Nations produced their own Victory Medal after the Great War, with different designs, which is why it may seem familiar to readers from other countries.
It was this that brought on some of these thoughts. We buy something similar nearly every week, and when we ask if they were from as family member, the seller often does not know. They were issued named, and the name often means nothing, because over the years they have forgotten the names of their own ancestors.
The recipient of these medals died in the 1930s, as a result of ill health caused by military service. He was, as far as I could guess from the names and relationships of the mourners, the brother of the vendor’s grandmother. His adverts appeared in local papers of the time – he was a music teacher. He was also a professional musician and a chapel organist for many years.
If you can forget all that in the space of a couple of generations who will remember a man who wrote about eating veggie burgers and similar inconsequential subjects?
I used to read a blog about found shopping lists. It was surprisingly fascinating. I have tried to find it to post a link but can’t find it.
I decided to uise mine as an example for this post.
I used to use a list to remind me t5o buy things, then I started using it as a way of keeping spending down. Now, poor and lacking brain power. I use it for both, but have had to start using extra means to keep me on the straight and narrow. Read on and you will see what I mean.
Top left is “Pills” with an asterisk. That’s to remind me to take in my Warfarin prescription. I’m not overly worried about the health aspects of missing the pills, but I am concerned that I have a blood test in a month and if I want to keep up the relaxed regime of testing every three months I have to make sure I take the pills and get the right results.
Next down, in the blue ink that marks the later additions, are two appalling sets of hieroglyphics that indicate I need chickpeas and chopped tomatoes. Chickpeas because I used them in last week’s veggie burgers and tomatoes because I need them for ratatouille. I’m likely to need a second can for the chickpea curry that is on my mental list to cook in the next couple of weeks.
Cobs – two lots. One lot for tomorrows lunch, one lot for Tuesday’s lunch. We don’t make sandwiches on Wednesdays because it is our day off. It would probably be cheaper and healthier to use sliced bread, but I like cobs. New readers who want to know what I’m talking about can press here.
Butter was a duplication for “Marge” lower down the lst. We use the terms interchangeably at times. Cheese – ready sliced Red Leicester for making cobs. The time saved and the cost saved by portion control make it worth paying the extra for the slicing.
Pies became pasties as I found Ginsters Cornish pasties were on special. I just bought two, because the list and the menu now prevent over-buying.
Now is the time to confess about the menu. It’s the bit in the top right. I have to use it to stop me buying random eye-catching stuff we struggle to use.
Y Pudd Roast
(Rat) x 2
Simple, eh? It stops a lot of bad buys, because I would often buy enough ingredients to make five meals in four days and some would end up wasted by the end of the week.
For those of you who don’t speak Quercus it means Yorkshire puddings and roast veg, haggis, veggie burgers, indicates that we will be having ratatouille with the burgers and reminds me to make a double helping, which we will have with baked potatoes. It’s already slightly wrong because I’d forgotten Julia was out on Tuesday night and forgotten that we are cutting down on sausages, so a pack now makes two meals. It used to be one meal for four of us and seemed to remain as one meal as we dropped to three and then two.
Thursday is a mystery as I’ve run out of inspiration. Julia is probably doing a Green Thai Curry.
Root veg means I am free to throw a selection of root veg in, onions means get packets of ready cut onions as it saves time and I’m lazy. And my knife skills leave something to be desired. I have far fewer cut fingers now I don’t chop onions and it’s easier on my back if I do less bending. I bought Brussels as well because we need greens.
Marge (see above), milk, cream cheese (for fish pate). I did select herbs and chillies but put them back later as there was a change in the fish purchase and because I have chillies in a jar.
Smoked Salmon is crossed out because there were no packets of scraps, just expensive slices. I like Julia but I don’t like her enough to make her expensive smoked salmon pate.
Eggs – easy. I buy eggs from caged birds as, whatever you may think Free Range is mainly a marketing gimmick and the birds aren’t really better off. Now that we have new welfare cage legislation caged birds are more comfortable than they used to be.
Seasoning was a lazy way of indicating I needed more garlic in a jar and some chilli powder. I forgot the pickled onions, marked them to remind myself and forgot them again.
Med Veg is Mediterranean vegetables – courgettes, peppers and aubergine. Or zucchini, bell peppers and eggplant for my American readers. Not Medium Vegetables.
Yorkshire Pudding (bought in a packet because it’s easier), beans (tinned).
Card is a card by my Dad – he’s due to be 91 at the end of next week. Tesco have a dreadful selection so I may get another one. Yes, it’s in pen because I forgot about when I made the original list. I’m a bad son.
Finally L & Lime indicates a lemon for the fish pate and a lime for Julia’s planned guacamole.
Spr Onion in the middle means I realised we needed some spring onions (or scallions) for the fish pate. I realy should grow some at home, and some chives, which do much the same thing.
One thing missed and one extra – bacon – sneaked in.
One day I will write about a more organised list. This one was written in a hurry – when I have more time I actually write them in order.
We had seventeen packages to send before lunch yesterday. One consisted of 200 coins, which needed sorting before packing. It was hard work, particularly when besieged by phonecalls from people with “rare” and “valuable” coins, and a couple of people with “urgent” telephone orders.
It was very tempting, but I behaved in a a cheery and professional manner and nobody was advised to go away and stop bothering me.
Then we went to Sheffield to clear Number Two son’s room. It was hot and traffic on the M1 was slow.
On the way back we stopped at a service station to empty my aging bladder. I treated Julia to a drink and a pastry while we were there, and handed over the equivalent of an hour and a half’s work for two coffees and two lemon tarts. Food for thought…
In the evening I pottered about on the internet. I was doing some research on medals when I found a picture of an avuncular old cove who, with the addition of a beard would very much resemble a whisky-drinking Santa Claus.
War hero, raconteur, historian, author and founder of the Sealed Knot, it’s Brigadier Peter Young DSO, MC & 2 bars.
The photograph appears several times on the internet so I’m hoping nobody is going to mind me using it.
After being side-tracked by ebay I finally got round to adding the photos to yesterday’s post. Then I had the problem of letting people know that there were now photos on the post, as they are unlikely just go back on the off chance.
I was going to add them on this post and refer people back to the post. Unfortunately I forgot. As a result I’m writing this post to refer people back (in case they want to look at photos of disappointing snow and a woman fighting a bird feeder). So that people don’t feel I’m wasting their time I’m going to add a selection of photographs.
The featured image is the poppies made from plastic bottles. They are still going strong, despite four months in miserable weather.
Garden Gnome at Wilford, Notts
I thought the garden gnome was reasonably topical.
This memory problem isn’t an isolated one, I also forgot what my plans for tea were. Having agreed with Julia that I would make Welsh Rarebit, as we still weren’t hungry after our large breakfast, I went through to the kitchen, where the smell of cooking reminded me I’d put potatoes in to bake ready for…er…
I couldn’t actually remember what I’d been planning. Fortunately, baked potatoes and Welsh Rarebit seem to go together quite well, and with the addition of the remains of the gammon from last week passed for a meal. Don’t worry, we also had fruit to make it a bit more nutritious.
Puffin at Bempton Cliffs
I threw in a Puffin photo because everyone like Puffins.
Tomorrow I’ll be throwing some vegetables into Monday’s stew so we will be a bit healthier. I’m planning on a few lentils too. It should be virtuous, even if it isn’t good.
It’s quinoa salad tomorrow too. If it’s true what they say about grains and salad and vegetables I’m going to be positively bouncing with energy tomorrow and stacked to the earlobes with vitamins.
On the way back from the shop I thought of stopping off at the local Sainsbury’s and ringing Julia to see if she wanted anything taking back home. That was when I noticed that the pocket by my left knee was gaping open, instead of being zipped securely. I’d had a couple of phone calls in the
morning, and remembered putting my phone on the counter after I’d finished.
After that I had no memory of it, apart from having a vague thought that I mustn’t forget it as I packed my stuff.
I decided that the best course of action, as the Ring Road is always crowded at that time of day, was to carry on and go home. Once there I would ask Julia to ring, double check if the phone was concealed in my bag, and, if not, I would, talk to whoever answered and make suitable arrangements.
The other choice was to turn round and return to the shop in traffic, to see if I’d left the phone on the counter. That seemed like a lot of hassle when I wasn’t actually sure if I’d picked it up or not.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I got home and looked through my bag. No phone.
Julia rang it (which was a welcome break from doing her tax and muttering at the computer) and it rang. I went through my bag again. I checked my camera case. No phone. We tried again. The ringing wasn’t coming from my bag. It was coming from my trousers.
For some reason I’d put it in a different pocket and it had, to all intents, disappeared. In terms of senior moments this is one up from entering a room and forgetting why.
I learned a valuable lesson about book reviews recently. That lesson is do not promise reviews on books you haven’t read yet. The photograph shows The Normans and their Myth, which is quite interesting but not riveting, so I haven’t actually finished it.
Same goes for taking care of books you’ve promised reviews on, as I’ve mislaid 50 ways to make you Home and Garden Greener. It’s easily done when you have piles of books everywhere. I suppose I could review it from memory, but I can’t really remember it that well – I’ve read so many books on this subject.
Reviewing a book from memory, particularly with my memory, could be a dangerous occupation.
The problem is that books seem to have a secret life of their own and are much more mobile than you think. I’m going to see if there is a Japanese word for that. If decided on the word for this phenomenon – biblioperigrination. According to Google there is no mention of this, so I claim to have invented the word. As it’s now going to be in my title and I’m putting in a bid to have it recorded as the first known use. I may write to Susie Dent about it.
I’m going to do The Elements of Murder next. I’ve read it, and I can see it from here, so there shouldn’t be any problems with that. I just need to make sure I’m reading fast enough to keep up with myself.
With that in mind, I won’t tell you what’s next, though I will tell you I’ve just had V. S. Naipaul’s A Turn in he South delivered. It has been recommended by arlingwoman and I’m looking forward to reading it.
We’re going out now as I’m going to treat Julia to a cream tea. We breakfasted late on scrambled eggs, mushrooms and brown toast, so the cream tea will be a late lunch, which makes me feel better about eating it whilst on a diet. There’s no eating between meals, but if we have it as a meal it’s not a problem.