Jaye’s New Oddness…

Image by Merio from Pixabay

Somehow, I must have turned a certain age or a corner in my life. It must be something, for I seem to be changing.

As I get nearer to my seventy-eighth birthday, I have noticed oddness going on.

Odd is a very good word for what I am feeling.

Lately, you may have noticed that I have been bragging about all the writing I have been doing, but other good stuff has been going on too.

This time of year usually has a welcome effect on me, what with my bonsai collection changing from a row of twigs into beautiful trees overnight.

This year, after the steady inertia of Winter, everything has suddenly started to feel different.

It’s not just what I am doing though, it’s everything that’s going on in my head. (Which at my age is nothing short of remarkable)

Things that used to matter are soaring over my head without pausing to bash me on the head. I no longer want to bite anyone who tries to order me about or cast aspersions all over my plans and dreams.

Believe me, this last thing is having a profound effect on me.

I am like a different person. These past few days, the reason for these changes has been slipping unheeded into my subconscious, but within reach on those thoughtful days. (I hope you get days like that.)

I am deliberately not dwelling on what this might mean, regarding my mental health, as this doesn’t matter either.

You know how our muses can come and go? Well, all my guilty secrets seem to have gone the same way. I am calmer than I have ever been. I just wish I knew how it happened, so I can repeat it if necessary.

If I forget something, or make mistakes (the best one of all) I know it doesn’t really matter as I will get it right tomorrow…

Jaye

Looking Back in Time… Remembering…

This post was written a while ago and is one of my favourites. I really must do more of these…

DSCF2214
My Screensaver

I am in the habit of changing my screen saver/background image quite often. I  like to have something lovely on my computer screen, as it is the first thing I see every morning.

This picture appealed to me for several reasons. I love trees, and this one is lovely but also ethereal, the mist hiding most of the scene. I particularly like the contrast between the nakedness of the sleeping tree and the tree covered in blossom.

I have recently found myself  ‘skimming’ when reading and writing, and I am not seeing or describing anything enough, which is not good. This post is an exercise not only for my eyes but also for my imagination. I don’t want to think of my old age robbing me of so much of my enjoyment of life.

The blossom tree in this image attracted me first, being frustratingly out of focus enough to prevent easy identification. The blossoms are pure white, with no hint of colour, and the petals are delicate and small. The branches look old, but the slender double trunk would suggest otherwise. Are there any more clues in the picture?

The tree is blooming very early. The companion trees are still bare, their branches stark and austere looming through the mist. Winter has not long departed, as I imagine the chilly dampness of the morning on my skin. The shrubbery in the background is sparse, too, confirming that Mother Nature is not fully awake yet.

My mind sifts through my knowledge of flowering trees and comes up with a likely choice. Is it a Magnolia, one of the small-flowered varieties, maybe Stellata?

Moving on from the details of the image, my mind is not finished. I wonder where this lovely little tree is. The setting would suggest a park, for the area seems too big to be someone’s garden. Vague images hide in the mist, indicating far more space than first thought.

Could that be a roof I see? It doesn’t look like the roof of a house, though…

My mind yearns to explore this scene, visit the tree and then walk into the mist to see what I can discover…

Jaye

Helpful Hands?

Image by kiquebg from Pixabay

This was then…

April 2017

We were looking at our website the other day, as you do… and it was decided that the small slide show of all our book covers looked a bit puny. We decided to remove the offending article and reinstate our book covers down the sidebar, complete with clickable links to Amazon.

Should be easy, I thought. I had done it before and remembered how to do it. A little fiddly, but not too difficult. We have eleven books between us so it would take me a while.

I managed to upload four of the covers before the trouble started. The fifth cover uploaded okay, but somehow it removed cover number four. How was this even possible, I thought?

I tried again, and the same thing happened. I kept on trying, because I’m stubborn, but couldn’t get it to work. I swear something happens whenever I try to do the simplest of jobs but thought I would retreat and see what happens tomorrow before I lost it completely.

The following day, it seemed worse, so I decided to have a word with WP so-called ‘happiness engineers’, and it makes interesting reading! At this point, I wanted to show the actual transcript of our conversation, but it refuses to convert.

This is how it went

Me: “I am trying to add some images to my sidebar, but they just don’t appear…is there a limit to how many images you can have?”

WP: “Hi there, let me take a look…”

WP: “Is this the site you’re referring to? https://jenanita01.com/

Me: “Yes.” (We only have the one…)

WP: “And you are trying to customise it here, is that correct?” https://wordpress.com/customise/jenanita01.com

Me: “I get an image from media and then go to widgets and images, I fill in the boxes and save, but then they just vanish…”

WP: “I see that one of the images is not displaying. The URL appears to be incorrect.”

Me: “but I get the URL from the media screen…”

WP: “Is this the image?” https://jenanita01.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/nl-kindle-x1.jpg

Me: “That one was successful, so was the Simple cover, and Bad Moon. I would like to add more.”

WP: “I don’t think ‘The Ninth Life’ is added correctly. I don’t see it on your page. Do you see it at https://jenanita01.com/ ?”

Me: “Yes.”

WP: “I see a broken image, like this: https://cloudup.com/cLWUMnMMqRV

Me: “I don’t understand, it looks all right to me. Why am I having a problem adding new images? I just clicked on the previous link and the image is not there. This happened a lot yesterday too.”

WP: “You should be able to add more images. I’m unaware of a limit. I’m testing right now and don’t see any problems. Can you tell me the steps you’re going through when you have problems?”

Me: “Something is wrong. Images that do appear suddenly vanish and others won’t upload at all. I choose an image from media (haven’t I said this already?) then I go to widgets and image, add the URL from the media page, fill in the boxes and save. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes it works but removes an image already there in the sidebar.”

WP: “Are you using the media browser at https://wordpress.com/media/jenanita01.com ?”

Me: “Yes.”  (Slowly losing the will to live round about now…)

WP: “It’s important that you open the image and by selecting the image and clicking ‘Edit’. From the image editor, you can copy the URL (gosh I would never have thought of that…) Is this the process you follow?”

Me: (trying very hard to keep my patience and my sense of humour) “I don’t usually have to click on ‘edit’ as the URL is in the box already, so I just copy and paste. Is this wrong?”

WP: “The image for ‘The Last Life’ didn’t have the correct URL. You may need to change how you get the URL. This is how I get the correct URL: https://cloudup.com/clX8WY03S8V

ME: “That one didn’t upload at all. I will try this and thank you for your help. Going now…”

WP: “Ok. If you have any more difficulty, we’re here to help. Have a great day!”

I love using these new ‘live chat’ thingies, so much better than an email, especially for a thick head like me. You see, not only do I hate technology (because I swear it hated me first) I have trouble understanding it too, even when someone tries to explain it to me. So having someone on the end of the line is usually better. I can keep asking the same question until something clicks into place.

I must add, WP was very helpful when we first joined, often hitting the nail on the head when I made stupid mistakes, so not exactly sure why it was different this time.

This is now…

February 2022

Shortly after I wrote this post, I gave up asking those ‘Happiness Engineers’ for help, as even with copious amounts of screenshots to show them what I was on about, help was spasmodic at best.

Now, apparently, they are busy changing things again, resulting in mass disappointment and confusion. I haven’t experienced all the changes yet, but if this continues, we may have to find a less complicated way to blog and promote our books…

A Dead Mouse…

Image by Shutterbug75 from Pixabay

Last week I had one of those days when whatever could go wrong, did.

I shouldn’t really complain, for considering what the last two years have chucked at us I don’t think I have had a computer malfunction of any kind. Fate probably didn’t want to push its luck any more than it had already. Why it waited seemed a little odd at the time, but for the first time in ages my old invincible self was in attendance, and she was most welcome.

Shortly after switching on the computer, I noticed the cursor was missing.

Nothing surprises me anymore these days.

For all of five minutes I thought it had been stolen, only to realise that the light on the mouse wasn’t on either. Obviously, the mouse had just died. RIP mouse.

Still remarkedly cool, calm and collected, I raked out the old laptop, plugged it in and tried to continue reading our eternal list of emails.

But …  a small irk was making itself known.

It had been so long since the laptop had last been used, some of the passwords were out of date. No problem said I, reaching for my computer notebook where all my passwords are stored, but the minute I opened it I knew I had another problem. So many of the entries had been changed, altered or removed, leaving utter chaos and unreadable scribble.

By now my mood was deteriorating fast. Coming face to face with one of my own muddles will always do this to me, so invincible walked off in a huff!

I had an appointment with the dentist that day, so thought I would see if anywhere local had a mouse. I plotted the time and route of all the jobs I needed to do and set out. I checked WH Smith’s first, but they had no mice. Pretty much everything else for computers though. I detoured to the computer shop just around the corner from the dentist, only to find a note on the door saying, ‘Back at 11.’

After the dentist, I went back and bought a new mouse. He recommended a cordless one, but I haven’t had much luck with them.

This should have been the end of the story, problems solved and all that, only it wasn’t.

I hate the new mouse.

It has a loud click; the wheel squeaks and it seems to argue with direction. Also, I find I am having to double click everything! Looks like this mouse is heading for the graveyard too!

Fave from the Grave…

Halloween

Pumpkin pie is a must

Along with cobwebs and dust

With lanterns alight, bowls of sweets you cannot eat.

Children come, their faces aglow

Doorbells ring, sweets to go

Painted witches, ghosts and ghouls

Could be your nightmare has come to call.

Strange entities look back at you

Or has your mother-in-law arrived at last?

Doorbell rings, don’t let them in

They’re not just children, disguised within.

A night when ghosts roam the land

Who can tell what stands without?

Is it sweets they want, or your soul to take?

Don’t let them in, blow your lantern out…

When Anita wrote this stunning Halloween poem, I just knew I had to do something special with it. When I read it aloud, it sounded so dramatic and creepy, the idea of creating a video trailer with it seemed a really good idea.

Now, I have made a few trailers in my time, but I am not an expert by any means. Most of the ones I made for our books are pretty basic, as understanding all the complicated instructions sometimes had me running screaming from the building!

So, knowing how much fun I have had in the past, I really threw myself a curve ball by wanting to make this video more stunningly complicated than anything I tried before, with moving images, spooky music and narration.

This is how I have achieved some really wonderful things in my life. I get an idea, and in no time at all, I can see the finished item in my head and I will move Heaven and high water to bring whatever it is, to life. This is what was happening right then with my idea for a trailer.

I discovered that Pixaby.com has free video clips, so I collected a good selection of suitably dark and spooky ones. Then I visited YouTube and their audio library. I found some very similar music to the Halloween film. My dream was taking shape!

With my first trailer efforts, I used Movie Maker and as my teachers used to say, “Could do better!” So I knew there was nothing else for it, I would have to learn how to master the finer points if I hoped to create a masterpiece.

I watched so many tutorials on YouTube and wrote copious amounts of notes and bit by bit, I learned the basics.

This was a month ago. I knew I needed time to practice, as nothing happens in much of a hurry around here, but wasn’t prepared for just how long it would take. Time and again, I tried to get it right and time and again I failed miserably.

Trouble was, it didn’t look that hard. But, and this is what always happens to me and anything to do with technology, it never quite seems to work for me. I get lots of nearly’s and almost’s, but like most people, this would never be good enough for me.

I learned how to shorten the clips and move them about. I added a title page and one for the credits at the end. I had my music and knew what to do with it. All that was left to do was plug in my microphone and narrate the poem.

This took several attempts as something kept stopping my voice from registering.  Much later, I managed it, but when I played it back, parts of my voice were missing.

I was on the verge of pulling my hair out by then, so I closed everything down and walked away. This procedure seemed to go on for days and I was no nearer perfection than I was at the beginning.

I don’t compromise easily, but in desperation, I tried Photo Story.  This system only allows static images, not exactly what I wanted, but I tried anyway.

I also tried Movie Maker again, but the result was the same.

My dream was fading.

In the end, I conceded a temporary defeat and posted the poem on our blog.

My determination has not dimmed though. I will keep trying to conquer Movie Maker or something similar, and hopefully, future trailers will be better.

Help with Self-Hosting?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I have been avoiding tackling this problem for a while now, but the time has come… as the walrus once said. I know it must be now, for I have started blitzing the house, cleaning things that haven’t been touched in months, and that is never a good sign.

For someone who wages war with technology daily, we are actually contemplating the nightmare job of changing our blog/website.

We have been here on WP for 9 years and reasonably content, but our media usage is running at 84% and soon we will be forced to upgrade to Business.

But we don’t really want to.

WP has been good for us but there are some annoying shortcomings. The lack of Google Analytics and better SEO, for a start. Then being unable to use any plug ins and restricted to our choice of themes.

Thing is, I’m not sure if my ageing brain will cope with the mandatory hassle to transfer to a self-hosted WP. I have heard it can be a nightmare and I have enough brain melts (hissy fits) every time we are plagued with the upgrading tinkering going on, and a change of this magnitude might just be the straw that breaks this camel’s back! Surely, it can’t be too difficult?

I mean, just how complicated is it?

And what happens to this blog and the content?  Does it all transfer, or will I have to start from scratch?

Is there a way I can tell if someone has self-hosted, so I can have a look?

And most important of all, would you recommend doing it?

As I have been thinking about this for a while now, I have come up with a possible solution. I am sure that some of our followers have already made this transition and could share a few dos and don’ts with us.

All feedback regarding this ambitious or very stupid plan will be VERY welcome…

MLMM ~ Wordle #242 and Thursday Prompt Host

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

I believe in the other side
Whether you can see it or not
It is always there, like dust motes
That float, no matter
how many times you clean the house?
As you walk through the room
You see them,
caught in a light beam from the window.
You never feel them touch your cheek
Unlike the remote seduction
That had me lip biting, dizzy with feelings
I cannot define, my breath shallow
Body tremble, shattering sound
The supply of pleasure beyond words
Behind the mask, a guttural sound
A voice full of gravel
Shattering all illusion
I am awake now…

© Anita Dawes 2021

You learn something new every day!

We had never heard of these poems before, and came upon them while browsing the internet.

Anita loves a challenge and couldn’t wait to have a go!

Not bad for a first attempt?

I cannot wait to see what Anita gets up to next!

Double Down… A Very Unusual Poem

Image by jplenio from Pixabay

Double Down

The distant echo of your voice calling me home
      Across fields of new mown hay
I turn my head away, I do not want to go
       Your soft whisper follows, I feel your longing
I am not ready to take up an angelic post
       Snow white feathers would not suit me
Or God forbid, the other place where coal is needed
      Did I slip into a place where the forked one gave me a large spade?
I love you still, alas I have much to do
      All the things that frightened you, I understand
There are mountains to climb where you would not go
      Your fear of the unknown kept you locked inside
There are snow slopes calling, louder than your echo
       Do you now have eternity to roam?

© Anita Dawes 2021


Is this one poem, or three? What do you think?