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Warning - Some posts may cause choking, spitting of beverage and /or a severe giggle fit. This advice brought to you by regular reader Louisa.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Happy Halloween!!

Today's blog will be trick or treat (as opposed to short and sweet). Well, not really trick or treat, but I couldn't resist it...

As most of you already know, I am participating in this year's NaNoWriMo. My hope is to be able to continue blogging every day, but if not, I'm not going to worry too much. The aim of my blog was to write daily, so I think I can give myself a little break if the NaNo stuff overtakes me for a few weeks. I shall endeavor to blog as and when I am able to....

Which brings me to the  'able' part. I am without a laptop - again! -  so computer access is going to be limited. Well, maybe not computer time per se, because I can pop in quite frequently on most days, I just can't stay longer than a few minutes most evenings, and my days are going to be swallowed by the NaNo frenzy.

As today is Saturday (er, actually tomorrow is Saturday because I'm typing this Friday night), and tomorrow will be Sunday (Saturday, but you know what I mean), computer time is virtually zero, so both blogs are being prepared in advance (er, obviously).

I've a hard enough time thinking of one subject per day to ramble about, but as this is number two of three blogs I am having to write, I'm pulling a 'Blue Peter' (British long-running kiddies show) and announcing that 'Here's one I made earlier!'

I've mentioned my writers' group before (along with my fellow Burrowers), but I've never shared any of my contributions. This month, The Burrow is displaying our Halloween feature, and as today is Halloween, it seems fitting that I share one of my Halloween drabbles.

 I hope everyone has a fabulous Halloween, and don't forget, be wary of those trick or treaters!

Witches on broomsticks, vampires with fangs,
Halloween Night has a mixture of gangs.
Half of the neighborhood out on the streets,
Pots full of candy, buckets of sweets.
Children with faces all covered with paint,
Shocking disguises that make people faint.
Billowing capes, and weapons galore,
Mock giant pitchforks banging your door.
Curtains are twitched, door opened a tad,
Hoping your caller's not stark raving mad.
Good fortune is yours and you reach for the sweets,
It's five little witches, asking for treats.
You fill their cauldrons and watch them leave,
There'll be plenty more devils this All Hallows' Eve. 




Friday, 30 October 2009

Friday Freak Out



It's Friday and panic is settling in,
Less than 48 hours till NaNo begins.
I must have been mad to sign up for this deal,
But Sunday's kick-off is frighteningly real.

Who knows how I'll manage to complete this test?
My laptop is broken, not news of the best.
My pen will take over as primary tool,
Bringing back memories of being at school.

50,000 words, not a single one less,
How the hell did I get into this mess?
30 days of writing, of hope for ideas,
Of praying my Writing Mojo appears.

The plot is half formed, the characters almost,
If I don't finish planning, this book will be toast.
It's all very well  signing up for this quest,
But completing the journey will be the real test.

My grammar's not great, my typing's a mess,
How the story pans out is anyone's guess.
(I'll use these two lines just to ramble a bit,
It's murder when trying to find words that will fit).

The panic is rising with each passing hour,
A taste in my mouth that's increasingly sour.
When Sunday arrives, I'll be at panic's peak,
And that panic will haunt me for four solid weeks.

November will be filled with panic attacks,
Of stressing, and pacing, and poor aching backs.
(When writing, my back always causes me pain,
The sitting hunched over a desk is to blame).

I can mumble and groan just as much as can be,
But whinging won't give any help to me.
I signed up for the deal, a promise was made,
Words have to be written, my promise repaid.

Coming full circle, I arrive at the start,
The panic revealed by the thump of my heart,
My blood pressure's up, my head is spinning,
But balls to all that, I plan on winning!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Challenges of the Computer Inept



I have been using a computer for almost five years now (I was a late starter), but I'm still woefully inept. I can manage the basic stuff, but that's about it. I've fudged my way through Blogger, pretending to know what I am doing, but for the most part it's just guesswork.




Luckily for me, the handy 'New Post' box is mostly straightforward. Still, I'm continuing to make mistakes as I plod along, no matter how simple the whole process is (it may be simple to everyone else, but to me it's a complete mystery). For example, I have no idea why it happens, but some days my paragraphs are all bunched together, making it difficult to read. I think it has something to do with when I am uploading pictures, but I'm probably wrong in thinking so. Speaking of pictures, I've mastered the art of having a picture as a header (or even having it placed on the left or the right, wahoo!), but multiple pictures are confusing the heck out of me. I took a stab at it the other day and was marginally successful, but my ultimate aim is to have pictures staggered throughout my blog, sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right. One of these days I will master it.*snorts*




Facebook was another learning curve. One of the main reasons I signed up and then forgot about it was that I had no idea what to do on there. There were so many applications to navigate, plus you had their 'Wall' and other such things to learn about too. When I eventually starting using my account, it took a good month to work out the gist of it, and even now I muddle through on certain things. I changed my language settings at one point, but had to change it back not long after. The settings were confusing enough (for me) in ordinary English, but in Pirate mode it was downright baffling (mangle me litany, anyone?).




Even on my first internet 'home', I had problems, and HPANA is just your basic site with a community forum to navigate. HPANA is actually the easiest site to navigate that I have ever come across, but I still struggled with it to begin with. About eighteen months after I joined the site, I became a moderator for it. Lordy, what a learning curve that was! *snorts again* After four and a half years of membership on there, I still can't answer the technical questions in their help thread. I'm OK with the general "Please can you delete my post" queries, but if someone asks a question about formatting pictures and what-not, I pretend I haven't seen the question. *shifty*




On the other hand, I really enjoy moderating, even when I am stumped. As luck would have it, I moderate three specific forums on there, and two of them are all to do with Fan Fiction. It's the easiest job in the world, and as a bonus I get to read endless fanfic while I'm performing my duties. It just strikes me as funny that I am a moderator for one of the biggest Harry Potter fan sites in the world, and half the time I don't know what I am doing....




But honestly, not knowing what I am doing is pretty normal for me, whether I am at the computer or not. I'm just ditsy that way.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Christmas Conundrum.


As we near the end of October, we're probably all thinking about the upcoming Christmas festivities. In fact, let's not kid ourselves here, if you are a parent, you've probably been thinking about Christmas since July.

I love Christmas. There's nothing that I love more than watching my kids dive into the mound of presents under the Christmas tree. I'm not religious as a rule, but Christmas is a big occasion for almost everyone, regardless of their beliefs. I enjoy all aspects of Christmas; the presents, the excitement, the opportunity to spend quality time with the family, well the whole caboodle really.

What I don't like is the inevitable stress that leads up to it. First there is the financial side of things. It doesn't matter how much you prepare for it, unless you are a millionaire you are going to struggle to find the cash required. I normally just about make it, but not without two months of juggling the bills and fretting almost constantly.

The biggest worry for me though, is working out what to get for people. My daughter is pretty easy; she's at the age where she has interests that are catered for by the toy industry. I normally give her the Argos book and tell her to circle her wish list. Inevitably, she will pick things that are completely unsuitable (honestly, does she really think that she's going to get a virtual dog that is £175? *snort*), but mostly she picks reasonable items that I am either able to purchase myself, or that family members can purchase instead. And of course, there is that all-important Special Present from Santa.

My son is a different story. In these days of the 'Must-Have Culture', my 13-year-old has pretty much everything. TV? Check. DVD/Video player? Check. PS2/Wii/ Nintendo DS? Check. PC? Check. Don't think that he's a spoilt child, because he's not. These items have been accumulated over the last four or five years. The question is, what the heck do you buy?

The silly thing is, however much I might chastise myself about worrying about this (because honestly, Christmas isn't supposed to be about the presents, right?), I still can't help but panic.

When I was a child, I used to roll my eyes whenever my dad used to come out with one of his "When I Was Young" speeches. Now that I am an adult, I can TOTALLY see where he was coming from. In my dad's day, Christmas meant a few much-needed pairs of socks, a scarf and some gloves, maybe a book or two, and the rare treat of fresh fruit and nuts in your stocking. He never ceased to tell me and my sisters how lucky we were to have as much as we did.

And you know what? We did have a lot when you compared it to his haul. And we thoroughly enjoyed waking up to our moderately-sized sacks filled with presents from our parents and other family members. There would be around twenty assorted presents consisting of books, puzzles, toiletries (including the good old novelty bubble bath), a board game or two, and that special present that you'd been hinting at since the beginning of December (one year I remember being desperate for a Walkman, and almost fainting from happiness when I received it).

As I remember the presents from my childhood, I wonder what the heck I am worrying about. It's awful when we get caught up in the frenzy of making sure that our kids don't miss out. The stuff I received as (what I called at the time) 'decent' presents, are now consigned to the 'Stocking Fillers' category. It's nuts.

It doesn't matter how often I tell myself to be less extravagant this year though, I will still end up spending money that I can't afford on making sure that my kids have a plentiful bounty to look forward to. It's bad, it's not leading them a very good example, but there we are. I just love seeing my kids' faces light up.

Still don't know what to get for my son though.*sighs*

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Breaking News: Update!


Following our recent story about a young Cardiff resident, today we bring you a further twist in the tale.

You may recall how we reported that Tara Smith, 23, had recently celebrated the arrival of her lovely (working) laptop. Cardiff residents rejoiced at this news, which allowed one of their own to bravely continue with her plans to conquer the world (actually, she just wants to write a novel, but that doesn't make for a very interesting story here at The Daily Ramble, so we thoughtfully added an embellishment or two).

Cardiff residents were very happy indeed. Unfortunately, their joyfulness was to be short-lived. In the last 24 hours, there have been several reports of an alarming nature arriving at Ramble HQ. The somewhat metropolitan capital of Cardiff appears to be under assault by none other than a Very Angry Bear.

Residents have spotted said bear frequently since early evening yesterday, as eye-witness Jacob Hollins informs us.

"Well, I don't know that it was a bear like, innit, but it definitely 'ad brown hair like," said Mr. Hollins, a 17-year old student of Cardiff High School.

Further witnesses are similarly vague, but all (none) agree that it was a Very Angry Bear.

"Oh, I saw something nick a bike from Llandaff Fields," said Claire Jones, 29. "It was blinkin' weird, it was!"





"It might have been a bear," said Katy Gingham, 12. "But it was so dark, like, it could have been anyfink. It 'ad brown hair though."

Our intrepid reporter decided to investigate these disturbing sightings, and after much hard work discovered the truth.

The bear is none other than Tara Smith (23). It has been discovered that her laptop has malfunctioned, and this calamity has brought our hitherto happy young lady to the very depths of despair.

We came across the poor unfortunate woman drowning her sorrows at this latest twist of fate, and we asked her exactly what happened.

"Grrrr, grrr, GRRRR!," growled the bear-woman. "Hic, grr, NaNo, grr,, grr, GRRRRR, doomed, hic, grr."

Quite. From these mad mutterings, we deciphered the following fact: Tara Smith (23), is fairly frustrated at the recent turn of events. After recently committing herself to this year's NaNoWriMo, she is now doomed to having to write her story on paper first.

Quite how she will manage this feat is uncertain, especially as she now appears to have grown a set of disturbingly sharp claws.

"Grr, grr, GRRRR,time-wasting, grr, hic, grr,grr,GRRR, hic, doomed, grr, GRRR!"

Indeed. Writing the story by hand, and then finding a computer to type it on, will surely be taxing.

How will this story end? Our dutiful reporter will bring you updates as and when they occur. In the meantime, we shall leave our Very Angry Bear to her (drunken) despair.



Ima Nutcase, The Daily Ramble.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Ember in Wrilogonzia



So this is slightly cheating on my plan to write something every day, but today my blog is actually a continuation of a Round Robin that was recently started. I wrote this yesterday, but as I couldn't post it yesterday I had to blog about something else. I can live with this technical cheating if you can.*winks*






This is part five of the Round Robin. My good friend Tami posted part four on her Confessions of a Watery Tart blog a few days ago. You can find the introduction to Ember's story, and links to all of the segments posted so far, at CC Chronicles. If anyone would like to continue the story, just post your intentions at CC Chronicles, and in the comments section of this page.




The story so far...




Ember is a young woman who enjoys reading and posting blogs. One day, while catching up on her blogs, she fell asleep and woke to find herself trapped in Blogland. So far she has met all sorts of strange characters, and every so often the scene blurs and she finds herself in situations that are getting stranger and stranger by the minute....




+++++




Ember in Wrilogonzia, Part 5.




“I really need to get glasses,” muttered Ember as she rubbed her eyes again. Her eyes were surely playing tricks on her at the very least. It was either that, or she was losing her mind.

“No, your mind is exactly where it should be,” drawled a deep voice from behind her.

Ember turned around and rubbed her eyes for the – how many times was it now, fifth? - time.



“Dean? Dean Winchester?”

“Look, honey, I don’t know how often I have to say this, but the name is Jerome.”

Ember nodded distractedly. Honestly, he could call himself whatever he liked as long as he kept flashing his fabulous pecs at her.

The Tart marched towards them and thrust something beneath Ember’s nose.

“I’m not normally one for being a stickler, but you’re going to have to sign this for me. Here, here, and here.”

Ember grabbed the pen from the Tart and quickly scribbled her signature in the required places.

“Hang on a sec, what did I just sign for?”

“That’ll be the consent form. Ah, here’s Wyndel now. Excellent timing!” said the Tart happily. “Excuse me; I have to go drape your brother in feather boas. I’m thinking purple would be the color for him, don’t you agree?”

Ember’s mouth opened and closed like a frightened guppy.

“Hey sweetie, don’t waste it,” drawled Dean/Jerome.

Ember swiftly closed her mouth, blushing so fiercely that she had to fan herself. As she tried to think of something interesting and amusing for a comeback, another distraction arrived in the form of a, well, possibly a human, but it was hard to say. One half of her was in the form of a beautiful young girl, but the other half was blurred. It was as if she had only been partly drawn and the artist had forgotten to fill in the blanks.

“Stop!! Stop, I say! Not purple! You can’t waste the purple on him!”

The Watery Tart dropped the pile of feather boas abruptly and gaped at the newcomer.

“Why? And who are you, anyway?”

The newcomer breathed a sigh of relief and quickly gathered up the discarded boas.

“I’m Cassie,” she said quickly. “And I really think you ought to reconsider those pants you are wearing.”

“Wrong color?” asked the Tart, posing for effect.

“No, not at all. The leopard print is rather fetching. It’s the actual pants I’m talking about. Far too much fabric on them. You ought to take the thong option.”

Ember blinked. Several times. This was getting far too surreal for her liking.

“Thongs are awesome,” agreed Dean/Jerome. “That’s smart advice.”

Ember found herself wishing desperately that she had chosen some sexy underwear this morning. Unfortunately, she had a sneaky feeling that she was wearing her ‘fat pants’.

“So, Cassie,” said Ember, in an attempt to change the subject, “I don’t mean to be rude, but why is one half of you missing?”

Everyone looked at Ember, and she shrugged. “Hey, I’m only saying what we’re all thinking….”

“Well, I’m a character from an up and coming novel. The problem is, my author hasn’t fully fleshed me out yet.”

“That’s too bad,” said Dean/Jerome. “You’re pretty hot at the moment, but man, when you get your other leg you’re going to be smokin’. And your eyes – er, eye – is spectacular!”

Cassie blushed becomingly and fluttered her eye flirtatiously.

Ember was torn between envy and exasperation. Eventually, neither won and she decided to move the story on instead.

“Where’s Wyndel?” she asked.

“I’m right here,” said a voice from behind her.

Ember turned and saw her hitherto conservative brother decked out in a basque, fishnets, and five-inch stillettos.

“Wyndel, where’s your pants?” she screeched.

Ember frantically closed her eyes and pictured her computer. She accessed the internet and went straight to Google. Desperate, she decided that she needed to straighten her eyesight out, so she quickly typed ‘glasses’ into the search bar. Too late, she hit ‘search’. In her state of panic, she’d forgotten that the letters ‘g’ and ‘l’ on her keyboard weren’t working.

“Dammity,” she muttered, as the scene started to blur once again….




+++++




Any takers for the next part??


Sunday, 25 October 2009

UhOhNaNoWriMo






Usually I am wondering what the heck I am going to put in my blog. Well, I certainly have something to blog about today....


In the interests of continuing my sudden urge to bite off more than I can chew, I did something completely insane yesterday and signed up for this year's NaNoWriMo. Lordy, lordy, lordy.


I don't know what got into me. I struggle to write when I don't have an official deadline, but when I do have a deadline I'm hard pushed to even think of a single idea. Usually I wait until there's only a few hours left until deadline, then I quickly put together some sort of ramble and hope for the best.


That's not going to work this time. I mean, yes, I could wait until the last minute, but I seriously doubt it is possible to write 50,000 words in a matter of hours. So this time I have to do it properly. I have to make sure I write around 1700 words every day of November, and when I'm done I have to have a novel of some sort. Crikey.


Right up until the moment I signed up for this madness, I was adamantly against the whole thing. This is not the first year I have heard about NaNoWriMo, and so I knew what it was about. I've always firmly backed away from the project because I knew that it would be next to impossible for me to do it. I have no idea what made me change my mind, but suddenly I just had the urge to do something crazy, and hey presto, NaNoWriMo here I come.


(Realistically, I am going to struggle no end with this. But there's a little part of me that is telling my self-doubt that nothing is gained if I don't try it.)


It's obviously very doable. NanNoWriMo has been going for quite some time, and each year it gets bigger, with more and more people signing up for it. A lot of these people don't make the 50,000 words, granted, but there are people who do make it. I want to be one of those people.


I managed to write a story almost 15,000 words long in three days earlier this year. Of course, I had the whole plot in my head, but still, that itself proves that 50,000 words isn't unattainable in thirty days. I just need a plot, and some characters. All formed fully inside my head within the next week.


I'm doomed.


But maybe not. I never thought I could keep up with a blog, but here I am sailing comfortably towards the end of four straight weeks. I won't deny that there's been a few hairy moments when I was completely stumped for a topic, but I got past these hurdles and have managed to post something every day. Some days were more interesting than others, granted, but even a master blogger will have days where their blog will be little more than a hastily put together ramble. My one regret is that if I had started this just a couple of days sooner, I could have been proudly displaying a NaNoWriBlo badge.


You know, this NaNoWriMo might be the making of me. Indeed, I can definitely feel that urge to be crazy getting stronger. I have a feeling it might kick Mrs. Self-Doubt's ass.


Anyone else want to join the insanity?


If anyone would like to follow my NaNoWriMo progress, my username is ambermarie on there.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Pointless Ramble


So here I am, sat with my laptop on my lap (*squee*), and wondering what I am going to blog about today. There are a ton of things I could ramble on about, but nothing is leaping out at me as one specific topic.


I could blog about my kids, I suppose. But much as I have about a million things I could say about them, it's picking something that would occupy more than a couple of paragraphs that's causing me trouble.


Then there's the writing thing. Boy, I could ramble all day about that, but again I would have to find a specific 'something' to witter away with. Today my brain is a-buzzing with about a gazillion things, and nothing is staying put for longer than ten seconds. Bah humbug (speaking of humbugs, I LOVE them, but they seem to be something of a rarity these days unfortunately. Bah humbug indeed).


And another thing.... I was re-reading my blog from the other day (it's silly, I know, but I'm obsessive about re-reading my own stuff) and it occurred to me that I totally forgot to mention Watership Down in my list of movies that make me blubber. Crikey, what an oversight! (Actually, I could have mentioned Watership Down in my blog about songfics too, seeing as I wrote a lyric-based short fic using one of the songs from that movie). I can't believe I forgot about those poor, fluffy rabbits (ooh, that reminds me, I need to finish that update for my Lupin fic that I started the other day).


You see what I mean? My brain's all over the place today. I suppose it could be something to do with the fact that I'm feeling strangely hyper today. I actually had a decent night's sleep last night for a change. And for the first time in a long time, I wasn't awakened by the sound of my kids arguing (my daughter had a sleepover at her aunt's house last night *second squee of the day*, and my son slept in too).


To top it all, it's Sunday tomorrow. Usually that's a bad thing, but it's actually a nice thing this week because the kids are at the start of their half-term break. Yay! No rushing around like a mad-woman tomorrow! I'm hoping that my less stressful Sunday will be conductive to writing a 'real' blog, rather than the mish-mashed effort of today.


Then again, I will no doubt fill tomorrow's post with more pointless rambling.*snort*

Friday, 23 October 2009

Bejeweled Bliss


As I have mentioned briefly in the past, Facebook is the God of Procrastinators. I originally joined Facebook about three years ago, but at the time I was still heavily obsessing about Harry Potter, so my online time was dedicated to http://www.hpana.com/ (my first ever home on the net). I filled a profile out for Facebook, then pretty much forgot about it.

Then the unthinkable happened - HPANA's servers went down for almost two days! (Speaking of which, blogger was down this morning and I almost died on the spot. I've been so good about blogging every day that I had a mild heart attack at the thought that I might not be able to blog today. My whole plan to reinvent myself as a conscientious writer hinges on the fact that I can keep up to date with my blog. Blogging is essential to my needs).

Anyway, to get back to the point, HPANA went down. I was flummoxed if truth be told. Catching up on reading and writing fanfic was the highlight of my day. I couldn't read anything (except for that irritating Error 404 notice, or sometimes the obnoxious JRun gremlin, which to be frank is even worse than the stupid 404 thingy), and at the time I had no files saved on my computer, so I couldn't even update any of my fanfics (I had four at the time, I think) because I needed to recap where I had left off on them. What was a girl to do?

Have a poke around Facebook, that's what.

Part of me rues the day that I nosed around what has to be the biggest distraction on the internet. I first became addicted to an application called 'Owned'. I uploaded piccies, bought and sold to my heart's content, and spent hours laughing at people's funky pictures. I think it was about six months before I finally lost interest (which is astonishing when you think of how silly the application is).

After that I discovered 'Save the Planet'. Oh. My. Lordy. A procrastinator's DREAM!! Ton's of time-wasting/chore-avoiding games on there to suit everyone. It was a month before I could leave 'Word Search' alone. Not until I had completed all ten rounds in under four minutes could I leave that one in the Internet Graveyard. And the arcade-style games! So, so many of them, and each of them attracting me like shiny, shiny gems.... *mind wanders*

*coughs*

Of course, eventually I found the pinnacle of my procrastinating dreams. Bejeweled had arrived on Facebook, and it was awesome, even if I say so myself. Of course, I already had the original Bejeweled game on the PC (hours of fun were had by all!), so I was familiar with the game. But this one was different. This one was called Bejeweled Blitz. This one had a timer of one minute added to it so that obsessive people (like yours truly) could become hooked even more easily. It wasn't long before I was playing it several times a day. OK, it didn't have the awesome music from the original Bejeweled 2 (I love the music from that game, I'm a nut, what can I say?), so it didn't relax me, but boy, oh boy, that little timer had me from the moment that strangely funny voice told me to 'Goooo!'. (Speaking of that strange voice, I LOVE the updated version of the game. Strange Voice Guy keeps telling me that I'm 'ExtraORDinary! SpecTACular! InCREDible!', and let me tell you, it's not often I hear a guy say that to me in the real world *winks*).

Anywho, I am still in the thralls of Bejeweled Blitz, no matter how much I try to avoid it. It has to be one of the stupidest games in the world, but it's things like this that hook people like me (I'm reminded of the obsession that was Bubble Shooter, and I'm telling myself not to go there again - ever).

I guess I'm just one of those people who become addicted to things far too easily. It's annoying, it's silly, and it makes no sense. Rather like me, I suspect.

Ah well, there's nothing I can do about it. I think I'll post this out of the way so that I can get back to it. Apparently you can get special Halloween badges in the next couple of weeks, if you are lucky. How awesome is that??

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Sooky Saps


I'm a great big cry-baby. *nods* I'm by nature quite cold normally; I'm not given to hugs and kisses (except with my kids), I don't cry easily, and I'm not someone who says 'I love you' on a day to day basis. My Internet Persona is the opposite; I hug and glomp people all of the time. It's not that I'm being false, I just don't find it easy to show affection in the real world. With the internet I can be as loving as I like without feeling embarrassed about it.


Anyway, to get back to my original sentence, I'm a cry-baby. But didn't I just say that I don't cry easily? To clarify, I don't cry easily when it comes to real life stuff. Real life sucky stuff may get me feeling down and depressed, but I rarely cry about it. But when it comes to movies and books, I'm a great big sob-machine.


I could name ten movies right now that had me turning into quivering wreck - heck, I could probably name more than that if I thought about it. A prime example is The Green Mile. Man, I cry buckets of tears whenever I watch that, it's pathetic. The first time I saw it, the story was new to me (I actually read the book a few months ago and thought it was one of Stephen King's better offerings), but as soon as Michael Clark Duncan's puppy dog eyes lit up the screen, I knew he was doomed (thus I was doomed too). I had a sore throat for the last twenty minutes of the movie because I was struggling to swallow my tears (hubby teases me dreadfully when I have a sappy moment). To this day I can't watch it without that lump forming in my throat.


Another movie that gets to me is Philadelphia. OK, the movie shamelessly stereotypes the main characters, but it's very effective. It probably helped too that Tom Hanks and Denzil Washington, two of my favorite actors, played the main characters. I can watch this movie almost to the end and I am fine. I'm even OK when Andrew Becket finally succumbs to his disease. It's that final scene that gets me, the collage of memories playing against the haunting tones of Neil Young's voice. Blubbering Wreckdom, here I come.


It's not only serious movies that get to me either. When Mufasa cops it during Disney's The Lion King, I cry more than the kids. And I'm actually too scared to watch Bambi, even though it's probably the only Disney movie I've never seen.


Moving on....


As much as I should have a little sympathy for fellow saps, I'm actually the opposite. There's nothing I enjoy more than making people cry. Wait, that doesn't sound right. What I mean is that I love making people cry with my writing. For all that I am a relatively cold person, my stories usually lean heavily on the emotions. I can be funny too, and with a certain degree of success, but making people cry is a specialty of mine. And I love it, I'm just evil that way.


I'll never forget my first big emotional fanfiction. I was responsible for many a person trying to type through a river of tears. Heck, when I reposted the edited version (me being a Typo Queen, edited versions are compulsory), I cried buckets myself. *snorts* I don't know how it's worked out this way, but I seem to have a talent for making people sob.


I guess it wasn't a surprise that my novel would end up being the same way. OK, it's not written yet, but Soul Identity is a tearjerker, make no mistake. (Yes, I'm being brave and publicly announcing the title, it's part of the 'if I talk about it, I'll write the darn thing' plan). I'm being sneaky though. The story is not going to be a slow builder, with a great big cry-until-you-die ending, instead there are bite-sized pieces of emotionally draining scenes peppered throughout, chipping away slowly but surely so that the ending should totally wipe you out, even though it's not actually a big climax at all.


At least, that's what I'm hoping for. Ultimately, my aim is to get people emotionally involved in the story, and if I can get them to shed a tear or two along the way, I'll be a very happy cry-baby.


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Zzzzzzzzzz
















Awww, cute kitty!! I'm not going to be talking about cute kitties today, but the picture is apt because the kitty is doing something that I love.
Sleeping.
Yup, sleeping. I love sleep, it's awesome. If I could add an extra four hour to every day just for sleeping purposes, I would be a happy bunny. It's not that I'm overly lazy (though there is a small streak of laziness in me, I admit), I just love to sleep.
It's probably rooted in the fact that I have trouble getting to sleep most nights. I could be bone-wearyingly tired, but I still struggle to nod off. And I toss and turn like nobody's business. My body might be tired, but my brain is still buzzing. It's very rare indeed that I manage to get to sleep before midnight.
Consequently, I always feel tired. And what do you know, I have NO trouble falling asleep in the middle of the day. Typical. If the house is empty and I am doing something quiet, like reading or writing, my eyelids start dropping and before I know it, I can't keep them open. I'm OK if I'm physically active, but my brain seems to switch off if I am sat down.
Between the hours of 1pm and 3pm are the worst. I can't afford to be sitting down during these hours if I want to stay awake, especially if the previous night's sleep was particularly bad. If I can get to 3pm without falling asleep, I'm fine. I get my 'second wind' and I'm super-dooper for the rest of the day. In fact, I go past feeling tired at all, and end up staying awake far longer than I should.
I'm a night owl, definitely. I'm quite happy to stay awake until 2 or 3am. I can go to bed in the early hours of the morning and usually manage to nod off almost immediately. But bed before midnight? Nope. I'll be counting sheep/cracks in the ceiling/those crazy colored spots for hours.
The worst thing is, I'm now stuck in this vicious circle. I'm so tired most days that I end up napping three or four afternoons a week. But by napping, I'm making it harder to fall asleep when I'm supposed to, and I'm awake for half of the night. Which leads me to....
Oversleeping.
I'm pretty good at getting up when I'm supposed to. A couple of years ago I worked in a newsagents and had to get up at 4am on weekends, so I got used to getting up when the alarm went off. I'm still pretty good, but because I'm so exhausted most of the time, there are days when I oversleep. Unfortunately, this always seems to happen on school days. Fortunately my son sets his alarm for 7am (the same as me, only he doesn't hit 'snooze' like his mum *shifty*), so I don't have to worry too much. But I still have to make sure he's ready to leave by 7:50am, and left to his own devices he would still be eating his breakfast and wearing his PJ's at 7:49am. *rolls eyes*
Today was one of those days when I overslept, and I've been 'off' all day because of it. I jumped out of bed at 7:33am with a groan, and proceeded to blindly make packed lunches while mumbling 'get dressed' and 'teeth!' to my son (I can't manage full sentences without my cuppa first, and I didn't have time to wait for the kettle to boil).
I've done everything that I would normally do on a Wednesday, but I still feel out of sync. I even fitted a nap in this afternoon.*shifty* No doubt I shall be late in getting to bed again tonight....
And so the circle continues.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Songfics



I love music, always have. I especially love dancing to it (not that I'm a great dancer, but I'm enthusiastic if nothing else). I love dance songs, love songs, sad songs.... you name it. I love instrumental albums, original soundtrack albums, Irish music, tribal music.... the list is endless (but don't include that awful drum and bass stuff, I can't stand it).

What I love most about music is the emotion it conveys. There are certain songs that literally give me goosebumps, while other have my feet tapping happily as soon as the intro starts. I think I would probably be a big fan of opera too, if ever I was fortunate to see it done live. Storytelling and music - two of my favorite things combined.

Lucky for me, my trip into Fanficland alerted me to the joys of songfics. There, in front of my very eyes, were the most wonderful things in the world. Stories about my favorite characters set to the background of my favorite songs. Heck, I thought, I should do this!

So I did! And in doing so, I found something so enjoyable that it soon become one of my favorite ways to tell a story. Now, most people think of a storyline before finding a song to frame it with. I'm the opposite. I have a word file (still to be imported from my old laptop, true, but I have it all the same) with a significantly large list of songs that I absolutely must incorporate into a story sometime in the future. A song could be on my list for months - or longer! - before I think of a plot to go with it, but when I do think of one, the story practically writes itself.

This was what happened when I wrote Pages from the Past (yes, it's a shameless plug, but I've been writing Harry Potter fanfic for such a long time that I thought it was fitting to mention it on here, and if I am mentioning it, I might as well 'share' it too *shifty*). I'd heard the song that inspired it at the beginning of December of last year, but it wasn't until January of this year that the story suddenly popped into my head. Fully formed, no less. I had three crazy days of writing and posting updates, but throughout all of it I was grinning. Everything fell into place when I wrote it, and nothing was forced. Heck, I was listening to music and talking to my kids half the time I was writing it, so the actual writing practically did itself.

To date, it is possibly my favorite piece of fanfiction that I have ever written (apart from my first serious fanfic, that is, which will probably always be the one that I hold a standard to). It had been a long time since I had written anything more than a drabble, and it was the music that inspired me.

Maybe it's just me, but I think music can be a great form of inspiration. I highly recommend it to anyone who is experiencing the dreaded Writer's Block. I'll be digging out an old Enya CD in the next few days. For some reason, her beautiful voice - combined with the haunting music -always puts me into the right frame of mind for working on my novel. It just works, somehow.

So, to end today's ramble, I'd like to say this: Music and writing - don't knock it until you try it!

Monday, 19 October 2009

You've been Ellied!


We have a saying in our house, and it's uttered at least three times a day. My seven year old daughter is a bit of an Attention Hog (the capitalization is for stressing the point). I don't know if it's because she's a girl (who tend to be harder than boys), or whether it's because she is the youngest child in the house, but for whatever reason, she rules the roost. We get 'Ellied' more often than we want to.

She's a 'Daddy's Girl' - of course - but somehow her father gets all of the luck and only manages to get Ellied about once a week. Me being me (another 'of course'), I get Ellied every day. And my poor unfortunate thirteen year old gets Ellied at least twenty times a day (bless him).

Then there's the visitors; they don't get to escape from the joys of being Ellied, oh no they don't. When she was toddling around she used to love men (don't know who she got it from *shifty*), so whenever my hubby's friends came over they were all well and truly Ellied. She just wouldn't leave them alone. At one point she was calling every man she saw 'Daddy', and of course they had to say Sweet Nothings to her in response (a grumpy Ellie is something to avoid at all costs).

As she got older I kept telling myself that she would become more independent, and that she would lose interest in pestering people. Ha! She gets more proficient the older she gets. My sister visits every Thursday and spends the whole day with us, and as soon as my daughter is home from school, poor Auntie Andrea gets Ellied right up until bedtime. *lights candle*

As if this wasn't stress-inducing on its own, my seven year old seems to think she's seventeen. Her favorite words are currently 'whatever' and 'what?!?!'. And lets not forget the eye roll and side to side head movement. Ellie's got it down to a tee. Some days I want to strangle her, she drives me that mad.

But I suppose that for all the exasperation that she causes, I wouldn't have her any other way. She's a very loving child, and is generous with her hugs and kisses (which is lovely as my son has never been demonstrative). And as much as she makes me pull at my hair, she also has me in fits of laughter pretty much every day (at the moment she's entertaining me with off-key renditions of various Lady Gaga songs). And to top it all, she's a very bright little girl who makes me proud in so many ways.

And on that note, I shall leave you with the poem that she wrote a few weeks back. I had a silly smile when I first saw it, and the silly smile returns every time I read it. *grins*


"The Boy and his Pretend Pet" by Ellie Smith.

There was a boy who made a pet,
But then it got a little wet.
Then the boy tried to get it dry,
It didn't work and made him cry.
He could not take it to a vet,
Because it was not a real pet.
He tried again and made a note,
To make a pet that wore a coat.

*posts blog before I get Ellied again*

Sunday, 18 October 2009

In for a penny, in for a pound.


Uh-oh. I've really gone and done it now. It's not enough that I have ventured into the realms of responsibility by committing myself to blogging every day. It's not enough that I've promised to contribute to the latest project with my writing group (http://www.the-burrow.org/ [/shameless plug]). It's not even enough that I've finally got myself to agree to start work on my novel again (not to mention attempting to finish two of my long-term fanfics). Oh no, I had to add another ball to the mix.
I've semi-agreed (that's almost fully agreeing, but with the option to opt out if I chicken at the last minute) to run in next year's Cardiff half marathon. Those of you who know me are probably choking on your drink/food/amusement round about now, but yes, you read correctly. Me. Running. Thirteen miles, no less.
*faints*
Precisely. I'm a good fifty pounds overweight (probably more, but I'm too scared to weigh myself), plus I've never ran before in my life. Not seriously, at any rate. Sure, I had to run during P.E. lessons when I was at school, but the only running experience I've had in the last seventeen years is when I've chased after a bus. How the hell I'm going to work myself up to running thirteen miles is mind boggling to say the least.
To try to come to terms with this disturbing trend of biting more off than I can chew, I'm venturing into the previously unknown realm of planning. Generally speaking, I don't plan anything (well, I plan Christmas, but when you have two kids, a step-daughter and a huge family, not planning Christmas would be incredibly stupid). Mostly I'm a see-what-happens-and-deal-with-it-only-if-I-have-to kind of girl (which kind of explains why I'm such a good procrastinator). But something like this needs planning. I can't just float through the next twelve months with my head in the clouds and think that I'll be able to run this marathon. At the moment I'd be hard pushed to run half a mile, let alone thirteen of the suckers. Luckily I have a good friend who is going to send me a heap of stuff to help me work out a step-by-step plan. (This good friend is the person who talked me into the whole thing in the first place, so although her suggestion initially almost gave me a heart attack, I guess it's fitting that she's helping me work out how to avoid a real heart attack in the long term. *snort*)
Along with the planning-for-a-marathon thingy, I thought I should seriously consider a plan for the writing-a-publishable-novel thingy too. I've dithered and dallied for about four years altogether (Lordy, seeing that in black and white makes it seem so much worse), and I've gotten no further than a couple of written chapters and a Word file full of research. The ideas are there. The characters are there. Heck, I even know exactly how the book will end (which is half the battle apparently). Procrastinating is seriously messing with the writing process though.
I'm off to a good start. I've kept up with my blog (OK, so I'm only into the third week, but for me that's monumental), I've finally got a decent laptop, and I've even shocked myself by managing to install Word onto it all by myself (I'm still grinning to myself madly over that).
The next step is to work on my concentration. At this precise moment in time I have three windows open on my browser: my blog, a working document with half an update for one of my fanfics, and Facebook (the God of all procrastinators). If I could just train myself to only having one window open at a time, I'll be half way there.
Unfortunately, it is Sunday (you all know how much I love Sundays, right *snort*) and even if I did only have one window open, I'd still have about a million distractions to play havoc with my concentration.
Ah well. It's a long road, but at least I'm walking again, instead of burying my head in the sand.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Breaking News!!



We interrupt this blog to bring you the latest breaking news (Well, technically this news is two days old, but we won't let a little thing like accuracy get in the way of our reporting duty. Can you imagine what would happen to the world of tabloids if we started fretting over things like that?).


Our report takes us to a little house in Cardiff, where Tara Smith, 23 (author's license *shifty*) has been spotted whooping with joy and dancing naked in the garden (well maybe not 'naked', but we find that adding these embellishments to the story brings in more readers). Our intrepid reporter investigated this unusual occurrence and found out the reason for this sudden spurt of insanity.

"It's been a nightmare!" said Tara Smith, 23 (subliminal). "My laptop has been terminally ill for the last seven months and I was at the end of my tether!"
Tara Smith, 23 (is it working yet?) had spent the previous seven months suffering from the lack of laptop love. This terrible state of affairs had led to some appalling acts of behaviour.

"It's been awful," continued the 23 year old (*coughs*). "I've had to resort to all sorts of things that I'd never have dreamed of in the past."

Our reporter's instincts roused. "How so?" we inquire.

"My house, for starters. Never, and I mean never, has it been so tidy. I even scrubbed behind the toilet."

Scandalous indeed.

"Then there's the books. I've decimated the local library," shuddered the young housewife. "I've read books from all sorts of genres, genres I'd have avoided like the plague in my pre-laptop years."

Disturbingly, these revelations appear to be true. Our reporter found copious amounts of library receipts dating back to February of this year. It appears that Mrs. Smith had been taking out the maximum 15 books each time she visited. Even more disturbing, she had read them in far less time than the three week stipulation of the date stamp. Shocking.

"Then there's the addiction," sighed Mrs. Smith.

Yes, readers, addiction. Our poor (young) victim had succumbed to the powers of something so powerful, she almost forgot her love of the laptop.

"There's just so many things to watch these days," sighed the 23 year old. "I can't let my week go by without finding out if Izzy is still as annoying as ever, or whether McDreamy has kept up with his shaving routine. Not to mention Dean's situation. I mean, the poor guy has to defeat the devil, you've got to show him a little support. The least I can do is keep up to date."

It's only a few steps between sampling the fare and overdoing it, reflects our reporter sadly. However, despite the tragic element to the story, we have reached the part of the article when the light shines brightly on our poor, young addicted fool.

"But then things changed," prompted our reporter.

"Oh yes, yes they did! My husband finally got me a laptop that worked! It's been absolutely fantastic being able to open my laptop and have it stay on for longer than five minutes. And the keys! They all work! It's wonderful!"

Hence the naked (insinuated) dancing and whooping, we gather.

"Well, a girl's got to have the opportunity to celebrate, hasn't she?" beamed the 23 year old.

Let's hope that the young housewife's luck continues.

Ima Nutcase, The Daily Ramble.


Friday, 16 October 2009

Scratching the Surface


I was organized yesterday, for once in my life. I knew what I was going to blog about today, and I even uploaded the picture and chose the label and title. All I had to do was actually write something. So far I've just been leaving it till the last minute and blogging about whatever popped into my head when I sat at the computer. The funny thing is, although I was very organized, when I sat down at the computer to write my prearranged blog, something else popped into my head and I decided to blog about that instead.

So.... stuff's been happening over the last twenty-four hours that's been pretty darn crappy. I won't vent on here (I'm determined not to use my blog for venting purposes. Well, not real venting at any rate), but suffice to say that the things that have been happening have made me stop and think.

I think the best way to explain this is by inventing a scenario that demonstrates what I am trying to say. Lets say a little boy is as naughty as can be as often as he can. He keeps getting told off by his parents for all of these misdemeanors, but he takes little notice and generally falls back into his habits after only a few days. The cycle continues in this fashion for so long that the parents forget that he was actually a well-behaved child before the cycle started. They use short-term band-aids (I would normally say plasters here, but I know that most of my blogging buddies are American) to give short-term fixes to the nastiness.

This is all well and good, but it's not solving the problem. The band-aids aren't covering a tiny little scrape, they're hiding a deep gash that will continue to bleed long after the band-aid has been exchanged for a new one.

Applying this hypothetical scenario to everyday life, much the same can be said. Often we stress about the little things, not realizing that the little things are in fact symptoms of a bigger issue. We band-aid the small problems and think we're OK, but all we are doing is letting the larger problems become worse. We're not dealing with them at all. Often we don't even know that there is a larger problem.

But how do we know when the little things are actually signs of something else? How do we know whether we should be applying a band-aid, instead of investigating for further injury?

We don't.

But we can look for patterns in behaviour, we can check to see if the injury is recurring. We can keep our eyes open for all kinds of things; flashes of temper, moodiness, a tendency to avoid company. There are lots of little things that will help you to decide whether a person needs a small band-aid or a full medical. You just need to keep your eyes open and realize that not all wounds are skin-deep - sometimes they go a lot deeper. The wounds can scab over, heal and leave a faint scar, and maybe that will be the end of it, but one day, when you least expect it, you might discover the wound all over again, and to your dismay, it will still bleed as deeply as a fresh cut.

The problem with injuries is that you don't always know what caused them. You might have a scrape on your knee and blame it on that fall that happened on a slippery path. Now, a band-aid is good enough for a grazed knee, but what if the reason you fell was because your ankle gave way in the middle of taking a step? A band-aid is not going to fix a busted ankle.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that no matter how trivial something might be, it's always best to look a little deeper. Sure, it might be painful to dig into that little scratch, but it's better to have a small amount of pain in the short-term, then to opt for a band-aid. It might stop the bleeding, but it will only allow the wound to fester.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Quick Thought #1



Being blessed with about ten minutes of computer time today, I needed something quick to put on my blog. What I should have done was written another blog yesterday because I knew I wouldn't have time today, but even though it would have meant that I didn't miss a day of blogging, it sort of defeats the object that I had of writing every day.

Consequently, I have created another 'label' and called it 'Quick Thought'. I predict there will a 'Quick Thought' almost every Thursday (not that I am psychic, it's just that I have my sister visiting every Thursday and it's pretty rude to be tapping away at the keyboard when you have company).

So, today's 'Quick Thought' is actually stolen from Albus Dumbledore (well, technically it was JK Rowling who wrote the words, but you know what I mean). Remember when he said those immortal words at the welcoming feast? You know, that 'Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!' thingy? Well, initially I laughed at the oddity that was Albus Dumbledore (which I'm guessing is what I was supposed to do). But on further reflection, I realized that Dumbledore was being a bit of a git, when all's said and done. Let's take a closer look at what he really meant....

Nitwit: Putting the Oxford English Dictionary to one side, my interpretation of this word would be pretty simple. It means that a person is stupid, slow-witted or an idiot.

Blubber: This could be taken two ways, but the most common form of interpretation (I asked my two kids what they thought it meant), seems to be that this means to cry. A lot.

Oddment: No big mystery here, it means there's an odd one left over, or perhaps something that doesn't quit fit.

Tweak: Again two meanings, but I'd personally think that Dumbledore didn't actually mean 'tweak' as in to pinch somebody's arm, so I believe he meant adjust, or make better.

Putting that together, what we have is not four random words meant to make Dumbledore appear slightly kooky (in a lovable way). What we get is a mad old wizard who is basically saying that the students of Hogwarts are all stupid misfits who cry far too much and need fixing up before they are let out into the real world.

Not really very headmasterly of him, was it?

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Aspiring Authoress


After twelve mostly random blog posts, I figured it was about time I actually wrote about the thing that got me blogging in the first place. I've been putting it off (in true procrastinator fashion), telling myself that I needed to get used to blogging before I tackled anything serious. The problem is, the reason I started this blog was to try and focus myself on writing regularly again, so avoiding the issue makes this blog a bit pointless.

I love to write. Now this is all well and good, considering my aim is to get a book published one of these days. Trouble is, as soon as I set myself a goal, my love of writing suddenly gets buried beneath a mountain of self-doubt. I use every reason there is - real and imagined - to justify why I haven't written anything for a while, when a lot of it boils down to lack of confidence. When I am on form, I can write good stuff. That's in no way meant to sound like I'm big-headed, it's a statement of fact. The things I have written really well have had enough positive feedback to tell me that when I put my mind to it, I can be very good. The problem with this is that I have backed myself into a corner.

The really good stuff that I have written all have one thing in common - I had that lovely 'buzzing' feeling when I wrote them. Not to mention the fact that they were written almost by themselves, the words flowing from my fingers as if I were possessed by the Writing Demon. In fact, that's when I know I'm on form, when the words don't need coaxing from my brain and the page fills up almost before I have chance to think about it. Don't get me wrong, I can produce good stuff without that buzz, but it can take days - or even weeks -and it's almost painful to do it. I become frustrated more often than not and end up deleting the whole thing (really not good when you are trying to write a novel). It's got to the point that if I don't get that all-important buzz when I write something, I dismiss it as trash. As this happens pretty regularly, the amount of writing I have produced over the last eighteen months has been pitifully small.

But I'm not ready to give up. Five years ago, writing a book was only a vague dream, but now it's a goal. Five years ago I had no writing experience, but now I've had a taste of it. Like many aspiring authors, I started with fan fiction. One day I literally stumbled onto a fanfic forum and became immersed in all of the stories that were on offer. A few months later, I decided to have a go myself. Prior to this, I'd never even heard of fan fiction, so to become a fanfic author was unexpected to say the least. But I did it, and much to my surprise people seemed to enjoy it too. Looking back at my first effort, it's hard to see how anyone would have enjoyed it, the structure of the story was appalling, likewise the spelling and grammar. But I steadily built up a small fan base, and over the years I have improved no end, and made a ton of friends in the process.

No matter what anyone says about fanfic, and I know a lot of people pooh-pooh it, I'll always be incredibly grateful to it. When I first started writing, I could maybe write a few hundred words several times a week. This year (in a rare bout of inspiration) I managed to write a 15,000 word story in under three days. That's an achievement, and something I would never have been able to do a few years ago. Not to mention that I've made several wonderful friends, too. In fact, one of them has gone from writing fanfic to having a book finished and awaiting an agent, with book one of a trilogy waiting in the wings too (Tami, you're my hero).

So, to get back to what I was originally saying, I'm blogging to get myself into a routine. A major reason for my lack of confidence is the fact that I go so long without writing anything. It's become a vicious circle - I try to write, but I'm so rusty I work myself up into a dither about how crappy it is, so I leave it. But because I leave it, I go longer without writing, and the longer I leave it, the more rusty I feel, and the more crappy it looks when I muster up the gumption to actually write something.

I think it might be working though, this blogging thing. I was so busy yesterday that I couldn't get any access to the PC, but do you know what? I actually couldn't go to bed last night. I was shattered, and my eyes were drooping, but I felt so guilty that I hadn't posted a new blog that I couldn't make my feet go up the stairs. That's got to be progress, right? It may not be a novel, but by blogging every day I am exercising my brain (even with the silly stuff), and getting myself used to writing again. I have a novel trying to get out of me, and if blogging helps me to get it done, then blogging is what I'll do.

As my hero is always saying, baby steps....

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Untitled (mostly because I only had limited time to ramble).


Crap. Only twenty-seven minutes left for Tuesday, and I still haven't blogged. To be fair, I've only managed to snatch about ten minutes on the computer today - I've been busy, busy, busy! - but I couldn't go to bed without at least attempting a ramble of some sort.

In the tired and fuzzy realms of (what I term loosely as) my brain, I came up with the subject of 'People Watching'. Don't shoot me, it's late, and I now only have twenty-six minutes until midnight....

Anywho, out on my many travels today, I came across a few of the lesser known types of humans. Coming up is a quick summary of just some of the species I have encountered on what was an ordinary (albeit busy) Tuesday in Cardiff.

Over-excited childling: Not overly rare, this one, but still enough of an oddity to make you pause In this case it was a seven year old of the female variety. Noted for its high-pitched squeak and fluttery wings, you don't want to come across a crowd of these, though one or two at a time are a rare treat.

Miserable Middle-Ager: You usually find these cranky little birdies driving the local buses. You need to be very careful of these little blighters - before you know it, they'll steal your good humor and have you muttering obscenities under your breath in no time at all.

Boredious Checkoutus Girlus: A fairly common breed, these can actually be quite entertaining. You can say just about anything to these little beauties and it goes right over their head. They're far too preoccupied with being bored.

Bubblious Checkoutus Girlsus: A close relative of the Boredious variety, these little cuties are completely different from their siblings. They're sharp, witty, fun to talk to, and have packing your bags down to a tee.

Ignoramus Totallus: Watch out for these little suckers, who are usually to be found barging past you in supermarkets, breaking your toes with their trolley as they make a mad dash for the Bubblious Checkoutus Girlus. Nasty, very nasty.

Friendlious Employeeus: Now these are a rare breed indeed. If you are very fortunate, you may come across one who will offer a greeting, take pains to assist you, and give you a genuine smile. If you catch one, don't forget to get a picture, they really are awfully scarce these days.

The Lesser Spotted Genuine GP: Perhaps the most rare of all our species today, this little gem is usually brown-feathered, wears spectacles and has a firm grip. Other notable attributes are kindness, the ability to listen, and genuine concern.

I came across all of these species today, and even when I was confronted with the nastier type, I still chuckled to myself. Birdwatching is out, and Peoplewatching is IN!

(And that concludes my ramble. Sorry for the crudness, but I now only have nine minutes before midnight, and I still need a piccy and a spellcheck before I can post. Hopefully tomorrow's blog will be a little more interesting).

Monday, 12 October 2009

Sundays

OK, so it's actually Monday, but after only recently surviving another Sunday, the topic is fresh in my mind.

I used to love Sundays when I was a kid. I got to stay in bed a bit longer (no school, yay! ), had the Sunday roast to look forward to, and the day spent pleasantly watching my favorite TV shows, reading, or catching up with my friends. Of course, I saw my friends every day of the week, but that was different, we had to work our socializing around our lessons then (not that we let that stop us mind you, in fact I remember school as being 90% fun and 10% learning, but that's another story).

When I reached adulthood and started working, I still loved Sundays. It was the day when I didn't have to get up for work, my mum still cooked a gorgeous big lunch, and I was able to catch up on all that lovely socializing (who's counting the Friday and Saturday nights out on the town - they were for drinking and dancing, not chatting, right?)

Now I've reached mature adulthood (that's the adulthood that comes after the official coming of age thingy, which quite frankly isn't adulthood at all), and Sundays have become the worst day of the week. I still get to have a lie-in, but when your kids are screaming at each other at decibel ten on the noise-a-mometer, trying to sleep is rather pointless. There's still that yummy Sunday roast to look forward to, only to get it I have to slave away in the steam-filled box of a kitchen for a couple of hours first. And socializing? You can forget it. The only real socializing I get on a Sunday is yelling at my kids for the nth time about arguing with each other, and asking my cat to please get off the kitchen counter because "I have to prepare food on there, dammit!"

As much I hate the weekday morning rush of getting the kids ready for school, I'd rather that hour and a half of stress than the full day of chaos that Sunday usually brings.

I'm not the best cook in the world, but I like to think I do a pretty mean roast - for the most part. When I first moved out from my parents' house, I couldn't boil an egg. Seriously. Luckily for me, my then hubby-to-be had trained as a chef, so he was pretty nifty in the kitchen. He taught me the basics, and for the last thirteen years or so I've taken over the cooking duties. That's thirteen years of experience cooking the Sunday roast. You'd think that I would have it down to a tee by now, but I still manage to overcook the potatoes so that instead of offering 'mashed' or 'boiled' as a choice, you get 'mashed' whether you like it or not. Then there's the sprouts. There's a lot of debate about sprouts - some people love them soft and squidgy, others like them hard (I really need to do that innuendo blog pretty soon), while others like them somewhere in between. Me, I'm not fussy, but hubby likes them soft. I usually test one to see if it's soft enough, but what do you know, I usually manage to pick out the only soft sprout in the pan, and I have to endure the puppy-dog hurt in the hubby's eyes as he almost breaks a tooth. And timing? Don't even go there. I have never managed to cook everything so that it's all ready at the same time. Thank heavens for microwaves.

Aside from the sweat-inducing heat from the kitchen, there are all the other things that have to be done too, particularly during school weeks. The younger child needs to read her book (thankfully she likes to read, so this isn't stressful as such, merely time consuming), the elder child needs to finish his homework (force ten on the Gale of Stress-o-meter), clothes need to be washed, dried (poxy weather + lack of washing line = tumble dryer going, adding to the already tropical heat in the kitchen) and ironed (steam from iron making me almost blind in the process).

Two hours later than planned, I get to tuck into my lovely roast, only by now I've got indigestion and don't enjoy it as much as I should. Not that it matters - I'd have gotten indigestion anyway - because as soon as I've finished eating I realize that it's time for the kids to be bathed, and the kitchen also requires a good dunking. Before I have time to blink, the kids are in bed, my eyes are drooping, and it's far too late to phone my friend (which I've been meaning to do for weeks, but I keep forgetting).

Ah well, maybe next Sunday.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Seven Deadly Sins: Gluttony


I woke up half way through the night last night with the image of Brad Pitt in my head. Now, that's not a bad thing all in all, but for some reason the image was from the end of the movie Se7en, which wasn't really something I was wanting to wake up to. I have no idea why that image was in my head, or what my subconscious was dreaming about to put it there, but the image planted a seed and gave me an idea for a blog.

For those of you who don't know, Se7en is a thriller about a serial murderer who kills his victims using one of the seven deadly sins. I originally watched it when I was going through my 'Brad Phase', but was pleasantly surprised when one of my favorite actors also happened to be in the movie too. Morgan Freeman is fantastic, and I don't think I've ever seen one of his movies and not liked it.

Anyway, back to the movie. I thought the 'sins twist' was good. There are far too many thrillers out there that run to the same tired formula, but this movie used something a little different, and it paid off.

How or why this movie suddenly entered my brain last night is a mystery, but seeing as I am constantly worried about what I should be blogging about, it seemed the two things might be linked.

The first Deadly Sin I'm going to ramble about is Gluttony. I might not be a glutton in the true sense of the word, but as someone who is usually trying to diet, I can relate.

I've never been what you would call skinny, but at the moment I am at my heaviest. Over the years I have fluctuated between a UK size 12 and size 18. After having my kids, I was one of those lucky women who lost all of their pregnancy weight in a matter of days - and then some - but my body is the type that gains weight really easily. It's not that I eat a lot, because I don't. Obviously there are times when I 'pig out', but most of us do that from time to time. Most days I eat a 'normal' amount of food, The problem is the type of food that I eat. My biggest downfall is bread, which is probably the worst food in the world for people like me.

Of course, now that I am a stay-at-home-mum, the temptation to have on odd slice of toast for elevenses is there, and a few sandwiches for lunch is obligatory. When I was working full-time a few years ago I didn't have time to eat, but now that I am home there is nothing to stop me.

What bothers me most is not that I am overweight though. I mean, yes, losing those extra pounds would be beneficial to my health, but on a scale of one to ten, I'm probably a three on the Must Lose Weight Or You Will Explode chart. It's society that bothers me. Those people that look at you and snigger because you have a bit of a pot belly.

Doctors are the worst. Whenever I go to see my GP, no matter what the problem is, they always somehow link it back to my weight. OK, if my blood pressure is a little up then yes, my weight is a contributing factor. But I honestly don't see how an ear infection is linked to what size jeans I wear. Even worse, the GP who is sternly telling me off for carrying too many pounds is roughly the size of a sumo wrestler.

It annoys me when people assume that because you are are not stick-thin, you must spend hours every day stuffing your face. It's just not true. Diet plays a big part, obviously, but some of us are just not made to be skinny. My mother is a larger lady, as are my aunts. Both of my sisters struggle with their weight too. But none of us are gluttons, no matter what society thinks.

The sad thing is my daughter has inherited my body type. She's by no means fat, but she's not quite eight yet and requires clothing for a twelve year old. She's tall and she's sturdy, but she's not overweight. I worry about her constantly, knowing that she's going to be just like me, and praying that she doesn't fall into the anorexia trap when she's a little older. It annoys me that she'll have to deal with the society crap that dictates that you need to be a size 0 to fit in. If she were a boy, it wouldn't matter. Boys are meant to be sturdy. But girls are supposed to be dainty little dolls, and my daughter is about as dainty as a bull in a china shop.

Ironically, my son is the opposite. He's thirteen, and only just manages to top his sister's height by an inch. And do you know what? He eats three times as much crap as my daughter does. It makes no sense, and brings me back to body types. Some bodies repel fat like a shield, whereas others absorb fat almost before it's left the fork. It's not fair, but there we are.

So the next time to see a person carrying a little extra weight, don't make the mistake of thinking they're a glutton. There are very few true gluttons in this world, and even fewer who take it to the extent that the original Deadly Sin alludes to.

Maybe I've taken the light route (no pun intended) on the subject of gluttony, but in these days of over-exaggeration, where the smallest things are super-sized all out of proportion, I'm hoping that my skimming of the subject will make a few people think. In the larger scheme of things, do those few extra pounds really matter? Forget weight - get fit. You can be fit whether you wear a size 6 or a 16. Stick a finger up at society and be proud that you have a few curves. I bet you any amount of money that the Kate Mosses of this world may have their dream job, but probably go to bed every night with hunger pangs, and I don't know about you, but I'd rather go to sleep feeling satisfied.*winks*

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Arghhhh!!


I'm having one of those days today, you know, the days where everything goes pear-shaped. To be honest, the whole year has been like it in one way or another. Almost every day something has happened that has made me want to tear all of my hair out. I've managed to avoid this action so far (the bald look really wouldn't suit me), but I've still suffered with my tresses. I'm only 33, but it feels like every day a brand new, springy white hair appears from nowhere. Grr.

Now, I could digress very strongly about the serious things that have stressed me out throughout 2009, but it's Saturday night, and there's no fun in getting depressed, right? I thought I'd share my top ten list of things that make me go 'arghhh!!' on a regular basis. Things that I have no control over, and things that just seriously do not make any sense at all.

In at number ten is a puzzle which has baffled me for years. Why is it that the countryside has vast amounts of perfectly flat and green meadows which apparently stay like that all year, when if I leave my front garden for more than a month it looks like the Forbidden Forest?

Number nine happens almost every day. Why is it that when I leave the house at 8.45am, I manage to get my daughter to school with five minutes to spare and without having to nag at her, but if I leave at 8.50am I have to practically drag her down the street to even get her to move, and we turn up two minutes after the school bell rings?

Number eight is also school related. My daughter's school lets out at 3.10pm. Most days I am in the yard waiting for her until at least 3.15pm, but on the odd days that I get there at 3.12pm, the teacher looks at me sternly because she has been waiting for me for about ten minutes. Why oh why does this happen??

Number seven happens every day. After the early evening rush of getting the clothes washed and ironed, cleaning up after my three kids (OK, I have two kids, but I'm married, so that makes three, right?) and cooking the meal, I can breathe a sign of relief. I sit down and pick up my fork and..... knock knock or ring ring!! Ugh!!! Every night!! I mean, do you people keep watch and wait until the exact moment when it would be the worst possible timing??

Number six thankfully only happens once a week. The good old Supermarket Stress Workout. Yup, you know what I'm talking about. The queues are miles long and you gamble on which one will be the fastest to move. You spot a checkout with only two people waiting to be served. You check to make sure that it isn't the '10 items or less!' queue, and go for it, smiling smugly at the person in the next queue who has seven people in front of them. Good decision, right? Wrong!!! Because of the two people in front of you, the first is a sweet old lady who insists on paying with the right change and is counting out twelve pounds sixty-five from her hoard of five pence pieces. The second person, when they eventually get served, starts ranting because 'those peas were marked up at 25p, not 26p! I demand to see the manager!' I'm gritting my teeth as the person I smugly smiled at is grinning madly at me from the other side of the checkout - the seven people in front of her were obviously contenders for the Fastest Customer of the Year. Hmmph.

Number five is lottery related. Say I picked the following numbers: 4, 20, 23, 26, 35, 39 and 42. You can almost guarantee that the numbers 5, 21, 24, 27, 36, 40 and 43 will be drawn (or 3, 19, 22, 25, 34, 38 and 41).

Number four - buses. They run practically perfectly every day, bang on time. But if I need to catch a bus I end up waiting for half an hour or more. Grr.

Also bus related is number three. Every bus has a nut on there. That really odd person who smells of wet cat, takes five minutes to find their bus fare and usually gets on the bus at the stop after me. That person always sits next to me, and I am then subjected to their life story. Why me??

Number two is similar to number three in that it's to do with odd people. If there is a nutter on the loose, whether in the supermarket, on the bus, or on the street, they'll be talking to me faster than you can say 'Jack Robinson'. Honestly, I'm just a magnet for them. Sometimes it's kind of sweet, especially if it's an older person who really isn't nuts at all, just rather lonely. But more often than not it's that sweaty guy whose eyes talk to my chest and who laughs nervously every time he stops to catch his breath.. *shudders*

And number one? The thing that makes me go 'arrrggghhh' most often? Losing stuff. Or more specifically, losing writing stuff. I can't tell you how many times I've typed pages and pages, gone through it painstakingly for typos and grammar etc, saved it as normal and smiled happily at my accomplishment. Seconds later one of three things happen : There is a power cut, which manages to shut my PC off before the saving process has completed; one of my kids (or my cat) decide that it is the perfect time to jump on me, and they manage to hit a button which somehow manages to erase everything (don't ask me how that works, but it's happened to me several times), or my PC decides to shut down all by itself. Hours of work gone in an instant. Ugh.

So there we have it. My list of ten things that make me scream with frustration. They're not serious, or life-threatening, but they don't half annoy me. Whoever said that 'these things are sent to try us' needs a swift kick up the butt. Maybe I'll get Strange Sweaty Guy to do it for me.