Just one day after we were nominated on the Annual Bloggers Bash in the Best Pal category, we have been nominated for the Really Neat Award too! Two very good reasons for this delighted look on our faces…
We thank Stevie Turner for nominating us for this honour, and the rules are as follows:
Just one day after we were nominated for the Annual Bloggers Bash in the Best Pal category, we have been nominated for the Really Neat Award too! Two very good reasons for this delighted look on our faces…
We thank Stevie Turner for nominating us for this honour, and the rules are as follows:
Whom do you admire?
This is an easy question, for we are surrounded by the achievements of several family members at the moment. One by one, our offspring have surpassed expectations and gone over and beyond the call of duty, causing much puffing up of chests and proud smiley faces. There are times when being a parent is the best job in the world!
Are You a Cat or Dog person?
This is harder to answer, for we are all animal lovers in our family. We have Merlin, a black and white cat who is 14 years old this year, and regularly dog sit a pair of young sausage dog puppies. But my favourite animals are horses…
Do you like city or countryside living?
Definitely the countryside or better yet, countryside by the sea!
Are you an outside or an inside person?
Always an outside person, I even write out of doors, weather permitting…
Do you still see people from your childhood?
I don’t think there were any people in my childhood, I am an orphan and remember being a bit lonely most of the time…
Facebook heaven or hell?
Neither, it is just an online social club, to meet and communicate with other writers/bloggers…
Do you like your holidays hot or cold?
I prefer action, adventurous holidays, so like the weather to be clement. My idea of hell is to sunbathe in a hot climate…
So, now it is our turn to nominate some people for ‘The Real Neat Blog Award’ and ask them seven questions.
Here are the eight people we have nominated:
Here are your questions everybody!
It is said that an old hermit lived in the old bat cave many moons ago. Children called him the batman, chanting behind him as he roamed the woods for herbs to make his potions.
The villagers never worried about the old hermit, leaving food by the cave for him and children would often watch the hermit make his potions.
He had once been a doctor and he still travelled through the village caring for those who needed his potions. On one of those trips, the children noticed the white ghost bat fly from the folds of Henry’s sleeve…
I recently wrote a post about how our house was fast becoming a cat motel and the need for a revolving door cat flap. It was an amusing situation, although it was costing us extra money for the extra cat food.
But with the onset of The Beast from the East and all this snow and ice, the situation has changed dramatically and there have been even more feline visitors. I try not to think that they are all suffering from malnutrition, that they just prefer our cat Merlin’s menu to their own, but for whatever the reason our cat flap is subject to some serious abuse.
Before all this pitifully cold weather, our visitors were amenable and very respectful of the facilities. Merlin tolerated the frequent invasion of his territory, preferring to watch from a distance. He obviously trusted us to make up the shortfall in his rations, and although we moaned about it from time to time, it was rather sweet to see so many cats wandering through our kitchen.
This situation has changed dramatically with the weather and a new arrival. He is a huge cat, with long black shaggy fur that almost brushes the ground when he walks. His tail, also long and shaggy, must be the envy of every cat in the neighbourhood. He isn’t scared or respectful, although he seems to want to be friendly, the least he could do, I suppose, seeing as he comes back several times a day! But we have discovered, alarmingly, that Merlin cannot abide him. He will ignore Shaggy’s presence if he is elsewhere in the house, but if he is anywhere near the kitchen, all hell breaks loose and I fear for Merlin and the cat flap.
I don’t like hearing cats fight, even though I know it isn’t usually to the death, just a lot of wailing and hissing, but the sounds coming from our kitchen I swear could chill your blood! I think the cat flap suffers the most and may have to be replaced, sooner rather than later.
We worry about Merlin a lot more these days, as he isn’t getting any younger. He will be 14 years old in May and on bad days, he can’t quite do what he used to be able to do. We have talked about locking the cat flap at night (something Merlin will not tolerate. The last time we had to for medical reasons, he almost ripped it off the door!) Hardly any point though, for most of the fights happen during the day. We also talked about moving Merlin’s food upstairs, and out of reach, but the thought of Shaggy patrolling the house, looking for food soon stopped that idea.
The other question that keeps me awake at night is why does Merlin resent this cat and not any of the others? I have heard that other, less endowed male cats automatically fear male cats that still have all of their bits (I think you know which bits I refer to). This may well be the case, for I have been watching Shaggy when he leaves our house, stuffed to the gills with the best quality cat food. He backs up to several things in our yard and shakes his rear end at them. This, I believe is scent marking and something only entire males can do. This upset me even further, for not only does Merlin have to put up with Shaggy’s presence and attitude (and loss of feeding privileges), he is also surrounded by the smell of Shaggy everywhere he goes!
I am thinking of getting one of those water pistols to try to deter Shaggy, but I think I already know I would be wasting my time. This huge cat, although lovely, is not welcome in our house, and I hope he finds another cat hotel and soon!
If anyone can suggest a solution for poor old Merlin, we would love to hear it!
I have never once thought that blogging could be detrimental to your health, but just lately, I have come to think that it could be.
Surely not, I hear you say, and I will admit it doesn’t seem likely, not on the surface, anyway.
I was nervous when I first started writing/blogging. Could I get to grips with the technology involved? Would I be any good at it? Would anyone ever talk to me?
I had a million questions, which are all very natural when you embark on a new adventure, and although at times it has been a frustrating and difficult journey, overall I have enjoyed every single minute of it.
So what on earth am I on about?
Just lately, a strange feeling has been creeping in, insidiously, like wisps of smoke. The blogosphere is like a mirror, reflecting everything we bloggers do. As a good proportion of bloggers are writers, you get to see what their lives and careers are like and it can be very reassuring if they are struggling just like you, facing the same problems and difficulties, but the more successful ones are an inspiration, showing you what you can accomplish if you work hard.
We have been blogging for nearly five years now, and have met some amazing people, helpful, considerate people, generous with their advice and friendship. You gradually become part of their world, a world where anything is possible and you can afford the luxury of dreaming.
I can hear some of you tapping your fingernails, wondering where all of this is going, so I will try to explain.
Everyone says that with patience and hard work you can achieve your goals. But I have been patient and worked as hard as I can, but no nearer to anything even remotely like my goals.
And this was my epiphany… maybe my goals are wrong?
Something has to be wrong with me, for on a bad day my enthusiasm wanes. All that wonderful optimism seems to leave the building.
I have been thinking about this year and it is clear that I must come up with some resolutions that work before the men in white coats come to take me away!
Not that this year can be the same as before for so many things are different now, starting with my number one symbol of a New Year, Big Ben…
Big Ben has always been a very special symbol in my life. I grew up in London hearing the deep resonant tones of the bell. The imposing majesty of the building is one of my most enduring memories of my time there.
London has many such landmarks and I love them all, but that tall clock tower on the river Thames embankment is by far my favourite. By rights, my favourite should be the river itself, feeling as I do about water, but no. Very close though.
‘Big Ben’ is really just a nickname for the great bell itself, inside the famous clock tower at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London. Built in 1858 and 96 metres high, it is the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world. But the big bell itself is not the biggest. St Pauls Cathedral has a slightly bigger one, weighing in at 17 tonnes.
Scarily, the tower leans slightly to the North West, apparently caused by the tunnelling for the Jubilee Line Underground train.
I came across this picture of Big Ben a few weeks ago, and I was instantly transported me back to another New Year’s Eve so many years ago.
That particular year, my friends and I had decided to celebrate the coming of the New Year in style. We would attempt some kind of pub crawl, visiting as many bars and public houses that we could manage, in spite of the volume of people all doing the same thing; ending up at the embankment for the fireworks and Big Ben’s majestic chimes.
We had such fun that night even though I knew I would not contemplate doing it again, as the number of people all seriously intent on having as much fun as possible, created more madness and chaos than I ever thought possible and a lot of the time I was scared to death.
You see all the crowds on television, but could you imagine being there?
Of course, there could have been so much more trouble that there actually was, that many people, most of them hysterical with excitement and booze could have deteriorated into a riot. But it never seems to. No matter how squashed, drunk or freezing cold you happened to be, there is some kind of reverence going on, as if it would be a sin to ruin that night in any way.
Our journey around London that night was exciting, but I was glad when we found ourselves by the river just before midnight. We had left most of the throng behind and it was almost eerily quiet by the water. The fireworks were further up river and we seemed to have Big Ben all to ourselves.
It was very cold that night, but at least it wasn’t raining. I was one of the few people in our group that didn’t have a partner, something I knew I wanted to change in the New Year. I had no idea of the direction my life would be taking, no plans and not many dreams either, for I had already learned that dreaming was futile.
So that evening ended up on quite a solemn note, and as the hands of the clock above us moved closer to the 12, the tears were not far away.
I had never been that close to Big Ben before and was not prepared for how loud the chimes would be. First came the melody and the vibrations seemed to travel up my legs until my whole body seemed to be humming. When the big bell started to chime the hour, the vibrations became longer and deeper and it felt as though my heart would break.
More than fifty years later, the sound of that bell has the same effect, instantly transforming me back to that lonely young woman who had already taught herself not to believe in dreams.
I obviously knew a thing or two back then, for my life has not been full of the stuff that dreams are made of, rather the opposite. But I am still here, not quite ready to give up. So is Big Ben, although undergoing major refurbishment along with the Houses of Parliament. Seeing all that scaffolding around the tower was worrying. If anything went wrong, we could lose Big Ben forever…
My week of disasters began when the reblog button on our website vanished. Then I started to notice that other people had lost theirs too. I wanted to believe it was a glitch, that somehow the button would return, but nagging doubt told me a different story. While it was at it, it managed to convince me that I was on a downward spiral and it was only a matter of time before it would all be over bar the shouting.
I soldiered on, trying hard to convince myself that one way or another, I would be fine. I mean, the world wouldn’t end if I couldn’t reblog all my favourite posts, would it? Sue Vincent had shown me how to use Press this and pingbacks on WordPress, so all was not lost.
Then our browser, Firefox crashed. Nothing I did, made any difference, it was gone. I had to switch to Internet Explorer, just to get some work done. It has none of the bells and whistles that some of the big names have, but it works. Looks like I am being forced to go back to the basics, but as long as it works and gives me no more trouble, I am fine with that.
In the middle of all this, I was offered Google Chrome on one of those pop ups. I hesitated for a while, then something made me accept. I hate getting used to new systems, so this was quite brave of me, considering. Everything went well with the changeover, and I loved their speed and efficiency in importing all of my favourites and data. It was one of the most painless transitions I have ever experienced. All of which, unbeknown to me, was setting me up for more trouble and disappointment.
I was doing my best to cope without the reblog button when I noticed something odd.
Every Sunday, I schedule a week’s posts on Buffer to be posted on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. I have been doing this for over a year now, with no trouble. I think it is great way to promote your work and spread your presence around the net. But now, for some peculiar reason, our posts were not appearing anywhere! At the same time, Twitter was behaving strangely too, with duplicate tweets appearing like a rash.
The bit that really got to me, was finding out that all of our Buffer posts were finding their way to Facebook. I ended up so confused, I wanted to scream. No one seemed to know what I was talking about, let alone be able to help. Unable to understand what was happening or who could be doing it, I started to panic. I had to step away from the computer before I did something stupid!
Overnight, rational thought took over from nagging doubt and I managed to think clearly for the first time in over a week. I had no idea where the problem lay, so would have to systematically eliminate the possibilities, one by one.
The first to go was Chrome. Bit of a prime suspect this, as I thought my life was less complicated before I installed it. But, you guessed it. Nothing changed!
The people at Buffer were brilliant in offering helpful advice, but they had no more idea of the source of the problem than I did. I loved Buffer, they were so helpful and easy to use, always a blessing with my brain! But my instinct told me to change my scheduler. I waited another day before deciding to try and schedule a post with another scheduler. Not something I was looking forward to, as most of them were far too complicated for me. But I was determined to find out if it would succeed where Buffer might be failing. I was almost ready to do this when Buffer came back to me with another idea. I tried it out and it actually worked.
I suspect that Buffer has been tweaking a few things along with Twitter and WordPress. Why on earth do these companies insist on tweaking all the time?
Personally, I live by the motto, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’
As I said yesterday, the dust has now settled, but it has left me a nervous wreck, wondering what will happen next. The only good thing about it all is none of it has stopped me writing. My current WIP is growing, and the one part of my day that I totally control. No glitches or gremlins!
My brain must be like Emmental cheese these days, soft, spongy and full of holes. I am getting really fed up with trying to think and decide what to do, or even knowing if the final decision is the right one. As they say, if I had half a brain, I would be dangerous!
I can’t decide (or remember) if I have always been like this, or if this state of affairs is yet another symptom of my advancing years.
Time is becoming problematic, far too much of it is spent second-guessing. Wouldn’t life be more efficient if all deliberation could be removed? Easier to pick a winkle out of its shell with a pin, I hear you say. But I am heartily sick of wondering which item to buy, which programme to watch, whether to cut my hair, the list is endless.
Added to my inability to choose anything, is the sure and certain knowledge that whichever one I pick, it will be the wrong one. Always is. I never get anything right on the first try.
Could life be more like plotting a book?
Now, I know that many writers don’t believe in plotting. They believe their characters will do most of the hard work for them, and I have experienced this first hand too. But other writers firmly believe in careful plotting, even using a story board.
All my life, I have been a ‘winger’, hurtling from one idea to the next. Sometimes getting it right, but more often not. Advancing age has changed all that. I no longer have the time for hit and miss. Decisions I make now, have to be right, although how this will happen, remains to be seen.
Now, I am still virtually new to this writing business, and with the idea of getting it right first time (could be a novelty in itself!) I tried plotting. With a lot of practice, I’m getting better. So much so, that the sequel to my fourth book has been thoroughly plotted, storyboard and everything. But this is not something you could really do with your life. Too many decisions, and so many ways of dealing with them.
In addition, other people tend to make your life awkward, sometimes it seems, just to be bloody minded.
Could it be as simple as throwing a dice?
Then I remembered something. (It does still happen sometimes!) I once read about a man who always made every decision with the turn of a dice, and apparently, his life was glorious. Maybe it was worth a try, as my way was getting me nowhere.
On second thoughts though, that sounds worse than ‘winging it’.
But if I were younger…
They say there are ‘two sides to every story’ and ‘everything happens for a reason’, but what if neither of these things is true? What if it is as simple as right or wrong?
Could it be that when life gets too difficult, we are simply trying to force wrong into being right?
Should we blindly follow our instincts?instincts,
Recently, I have been thinking back through my life and all the different choices that I had to make. To that small, persistent voice that nags you, insisting you do this or that. How many times had I ignored it, thinking my own choice was better, usually for all manner of reasons? Would my life have been better if I had obeyed that still, small voice? If I had not always chosen the path of least resistance, the path that always looked inevitable. Maybe the choice that looked the hardest, the most impossible, would have turned out better than what actually happened?
Maybe then, I wouldn’t have so many things to be sorry for, so many people I should apologise to.
If there is such a thing as reincarnation and I get another chance to live a better life, I hope I remember some of the things I have done wrong, all of the people I have hurt, and do it better next time…
God Bless and see you all next week…