Love in stitches

Rarasaur’s latest Prompt for the Promptless is:

Meraki [may-rah-kee]  This is a word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be.

When we first moved into our current house, just over 10 years ago, we inherited an Aga with it. The poor old thing needed some love itself, but was still giving it out. Agas cook love into food, did you know? The first meal we cooked on the Aga for the Offspringses was sausages and mash. That is a meal of love right there. Interestingly, one of the Offspring opined that they liked the sausages because they “taste just like Grandma’s.” Grandma, you will have guessed, also has an Aga so whatever she cooks tastes better by default.

So we said it was because they were made with love.

TDalek_jumperhose of you who have read a few other posts from me will know I occasionally take up the needles. Knitting is a way of weaving love into the world .

The picture jumpers I made for the Offspringses when they were small, and even ones when larger, were warmer than shop jumpers because they were made with love.

It’s a well-known fact that home-made jumpers, even (or especially) of the Mrs Weasley variety, are snugglier.

weasley_jumpers

The Offspringses used to ask how we could give them all our love in their Christmas cards, when we gave all our love to each of them. They were logical and mathematically sound Offspringses. I fear. We did our best, but rationality kept breaking through. I blame the schools.

“Because love is infinite,” we told them, “and the more you give the more you have to give, to everyone.”

And so it was and is. No matter how long the arms.

Namaste.

The great British tea ceremony

Today, my dears, I am somewhat exhausted from a drive down south and back to collect the Southern-based Offspring. Sigoth and I ignored the hysteria on the radio and set off with no more than a packet of chocolate hob nobs to sustain us through the perils of March snow. The journey was fast, uneventful and slushy. Coming back was faster, although I regretted my cavalier haste, discovering I had picked up the Yorkshire road atlas by mistake and was faced with having to improvise when we learned the M1 was closed on the northbound carriageway. We took the A1 instead and very jolly it was. By the time we reached God’s Own County there were patches of blue sky and the occasional glimpse of sunshine. The thermometer rose above zero for the first time. We were nearly home.

The worst thing about the trip was the utter lack of potable tea. To a true-born daughter of this sceptre isle, set in a silver sea, this is a calamity. The hotel we use when visiting the Southern-based Offspring is convenient for location, has ample parking and is close to an excellent Indian restaurant. However, the proprietors, no matter how sound in every other respect, feel that sachets fo UHT milk are acceptable for the in-room catering. My dears, they are wrong.

The result was that I arrived home having been deprived of the elixir of life for almost 48 hours. I was a wreck. The kettle was boiled and tea prepared within minutes of our return, and order was restored to the planets orbiting in the heavens. I felt strong enough to deal with the emails that had flustered into my in-box.

For those of you who are not familiar with the place tea plays in civilised life, I urge you to study this introduction to The Tea Code in British Etiquette. It may be of service if you ever visit.

Meanwhile, for those of you who need a musical version, please enjoy the tea rap – but only if you don’t mind some naughty words. Apparently rap is about rage and rage is about swearing. You have been warned.

Namaste.

 

Borrowers

cheers

EBL enjoys her pretend champagne

Yesterday I told you about how things were going with the Great Project. Well, in summary it all went live on schedule and by 17.20 I was settled in front of the television with a glass of pretend champagne and a sense of doom and futility as England decided that the best team to win the Six Nations was clearly the Welsh. As the pain of supporting a team so hopelessly erratic washed over me, I reflected that I would rather my project was successful and England not than the opposite, with all due respect to Stuart Lancaster. I’m sure he would say the reverse about me.  Admittedly I won’t rest completely easy until we get through Monday with real humans trying to break the system for a day.

However, now that the Great Project is over (or is it really? Conspiracies abound!), I find myself turning to thoughts of reintegrating with the rest of humanity.

I have my own pet projects of course: learning Anglo Saxon, getting back to my guitar, becoming Mistress of the Universe, one planet at a time, crushing the human detritus beneath my tentacles, and knitting. Always knitting.

It was the Anglo Saxon I was contemplating the most though, when a thought came slicing out of the dull, grey March sky and slapped me round the left ear. Anglo Saxon is mostly just English with different spelling and a bit of an accent. The next observation that tends to follow this is that all the common words, especially around labour and production of food, are A-S while the posh words around cooking and eating are French. Comparisons usually resort to Cow (A-S = Cu) and Beef (Fr. = Boeuf).

The use of foreign words in English is what makes it so interesting, to me anyway. Rara’s recent PromptForThePromptless on Schadenfreude was another example of the gay abandon with which English adopts and integrates words from other languages rather than coming up with a new word itself. I think it’s fabulous, very cosmopolitan, pragmatic and efficient. There are loads of these words, admittedly reflecting our colonial past as much as our open dictionary policy. So we have words such as bungalow and pyjamas from the Indian sub-continent, Schadenfreude as mentioned above, haute cuisine and nouveau riche, alcohol and algebra from Arabic and so on. These words are often called “borrowed” words.

And I thought: “Borrowed? Really? Really?

I mean…

It’s not like we’re going to give them back. It’s not like they’re shoved at the back of the shed along with Jim’s hedge trimmer and Jane’s camping stove that we borrowed that time because we thought we were going to have that big summer party with all the kids from Brownies staying for a sleepover in tents on the back lawn.

Do we expect M. Hollande to come knocking at the door of Number 10 asking Dave if he’s finished with the boeuf yet, because he’s got a few friends coming for supper and not a thing in the house to offer them. Dave might suggest he’ll hand to over in exchange for the “five o’clock” or even “le camping”, if Francois is going to be like that.

What if Dr. Manmohan Singh decided to take back all the bungalows next week? We already have a housing crisis here, and a crisis in care for the elderly, who tend to be disproportionately engaged in bungalow habitation. It would mean grannies on the streets and grandpas sleeping on park benches in all weathers. Madness, my dears, utter madness.

Certainly as a nation we are indelibly wedded to the enjoyment of Schadenfreude. Take away our joy in others’ misfortune and you take away our joy. Let’s face it, without it there is only so much soap-opera tragedy we can take seriously before we hear the Archangels sounding the trumpets for Judgement Day and the pits of Hell open beneath us. We are not psychologically equipped to handle joy for its own sake. This isn’t The Waltons, people, this is real life.

Let’s not even think about alcohol. We are a nation of drinkers. Any town centre high street at midnight makes that clear. And while uisge works north of the English border, and win is a good A-S word, along with beor and alu, I fear they all need a basis upon which to ferment. The withdrawal symptoms alone could destroy the NHS.

So here I sit, listening to the rain on the conservatory roof and wondering if we will ever see Spring sunshine, and wondering what to do without a Great Project, and hoping against hope that common sense will prevail and we can stop talking about “borrowed” words, acknowledge that we have pilfered them for good, that possession is nine-tenths of the law, and that after all we live in a global society. Really we have taken them as our own. I might not steal a car / handbag / television, (although I think the summer riots of 2011 may suggest otherwise for a percentage of the population) but I’m more than happy to copy and re-use a word or two. No one gets hurt. It’s a copy after all. Information wants to be free.

And that, my dears, in a nutshell, is why fighting media piracy is such a challenge. It all started when William invaded and murdered the rightful king.

Namaste.

Blog Awards

Well, EBL is red-faced with embarrassment. Two blog awards have pinged my way recently and I am lost for words. In fact the reason I didn’t respond immediately was that I was lost for words. Enjoy that while it lasted, gentle readers: normal drivel is now resumed!

liebster-blog-awardFirst up, I accept with delight and with intense amazement.the Liebster Blog Award from Authentic Talk at: http://leazengage.wordpress.com

Thank you very much!

Secondly, I am thrilled and somewhat shell-shocked to accept the Reality Blog Award from Ponderings at http://ponderingspawned.com/category/ponderings

realityaward

I never thought I would be the recipient of one of the blog awards that go around, so I am more than a little stunned to receive two almost at once. It feels like something that happens to other people.

I know many people whose blogs I read are old hands at such things, but then their blogs are better, so that is as it should be. Seriously I am quite shocked.

Anyway, I’ll give it a go and see what happens.

Liebster Blog Award Rules

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to their blog.

2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees.

3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 bloggers who you feel deserve to be noticed. These blogs must have 200 followers or less. Leave a comment on their blog to let them know they’ve been nominated by you.

4. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog. Post all the items listed in item 2 on your blog also.

My Answers to the 11 Questions from AUTHENTIC TALK:

What is important to you?

Honesty. It’s going to make the next 10 answers difficult.

Why do you blog?

I have always liked writing and I find that it is good for my mental well-being. By committing to a blog I am more likely to write, mainly because other bloggers comment and inspire me further. Surprisingly this did not happen with my paper journal.

Do you like art, music, fitness, nature?

Why yes, I do! They are Good Things. However, my appreciation is often very basic, and I find keeping fit very hard in particular, being of Middle Age and Genetically Undextrous. The things I like even better than those things, as in really like, are literature (unless that comes under art – but then so much does that I feel the need to draw a line), learning new things, playing games, being with family/friends, knitting, and making soup. Not necessarily in that order and rarely all at once.

What has surprised you recently?

Blog awards!

The other surprise was running out of wool when finishing a jacket. I am at an impasse trying to work out how to sew it up now because I am terrible at sewing up and the stitching will show with different wool. <Frowny face>. This may genuinely represent an occasion when eBay is a Force for Good in the world.

Are there any other online communities, besides the blogger world, that you belong to? Do you like them? Why? If you’d like, feel free to provide links.

Actually I’m not a huge fan of the on-line world, although I do enjoy the new experiences it brings and the people I meet virtually. I use other social media to keep in touch with friends from the meatspace. I like to look stuff up or download a programme I missed on TV or order items to be delivered. However, I prefer to interface with compatible fleshware in co-terminous time/space coordinates over a glass of something unsuitably alcoholic whenever possible. I am EBL, and I am retro.

When are you happiest?

Friday night at home with a glass of wine, my Significant Other, and a sense of another week achieved.

What is your favorite food?

Balti palak paneer. It is unfailingly delicious. There is nothing else to say, unless it’s “Seconds? Why, thank you!”.

What is your favorite season?

Autumn: intense colours, conkers, mists and mellow fruitfulness, that back-to-school feeling, new beginnings (strangely, but probably due to the school thing), nearly Christmas, bonfires and fireworks and pumpkin pies, proper dark nights, frost on spider webs, pale blue skies, hot chocolate, snuggly jumpers, home made soups, new Dr Who starting, ghost stories, a real fire….

Do you own indoor plants?

I share my life with a few friends of the vegetable persuasion.

I have a Christmas cactus grown from my aunt’s plant, which she gave me when I was about 13 or 14. That would make it almost 40 years old. There is also a spider plant dating back to a similar time. Those plants have been with me through thick and thin.

We inherited a fern from Sigoth’s Granny when she died and it thrives on our window sill, keeping her a place in our home too. I also adopted a cordyline when a friend changed jobs and had to leave it behind. It reminds me of her.

There are a couple of other plants which were gifts more recently, and we are getting to know one another. I am pleased to say we have reached a good rapport.

Who has inspired you in your life?

My father, and an extraordinary teacher I had at primary school.

I wrote a post about the latter recently in fact.

Do you like answering these kinds of questions?

Not really. I find them difficult. I am sure my answers are not of much interest, although I enjoy reading other people’s responses so feel obliged to do my best. It is not my normal blog style, but it’s interesting to try something new. I thought quite hard about whether to accept these awards, but the main point of them is to share other blogs more widely so I decided they were a good thing.

11 Random Facts About Me:

  1. I love getting older. It feels like I am breaking free because I care less about what other people think and more about living a life I am proud of, no matter how insignificant.
  2. I work in IT but dislike desktop computers immensely. They are badly designed and confusing and expect humans to adapt to them, when it should be the other way around.
  3. I was born by emergency caesarean a month early. My dad built the nursery furniture in the month my mother and I were in the hospital.
  4. My children are better people than I will ever be.
  5. I want to go into space and see the earth from the outside and the stars without interfering atmospherics.
  6. I learned to play classical guitar at school but cannot strum.
  7. I keep my hair long because I still have a crush on Mary Hopkin after 45 years.
  8. I love science fiction because it allows us to examine questions about what it means to be human, plus who can resist a roaring good space battle, a split in the fabric of the space-time continuum, or a Grandfather Paradox?
  9. I love science but studied languages, which I found easier.
  10. I went to watch England play South Africa at Twickenham once and screamed so loudly I lost my voice, although it was worth it because we won the match. For those unsure, I am referring to rugby union.
  11. I once won First Prize in the Village Show Photo Competition.

The 11 Questions for my Nominees to Answer:

  1. If you were reincarnated, who/what would you like to be?
  2. What is your earliest memory?
  3. What is your favourite music?
  4. What three words would your best friend use to describe you?
  5. How do you feel about the place you live?
  6. What would be the one thing you would do if you were World Ruler for a day?
  7. What is your favourite story?
  8. Do you prefer the mountains or the sea?
  9. If you were stuck for 18 months in a space capsule going to Mars, what would you miss the most from home?
  10. Who is the greatest person in history?
  11. What is your favourite word?

My 11 Nominees are:

  1. http://alisonmay.wordpress.com/
  2. http://backontherock.com/
  3. http://elappleby.wordpress.com/
  4. http://adifferentdaylight.wordpress.com/
  5. http://farawayinthesunshine.wordpress.com/
  6. http://bloggers4peace.wordpress.com/
  7. http://ellengreycarter.wordpress.com/
  8. http://cpgutierrez.wordpress.com/

There is a Quaker Blog Project in 2013 to look at an A-Z of Quaker Experience. And three bloggers I enjoy reading as part of it are:

  1. http://stumblingstepping.blogspot.co.uk/
  2. http://brigidfoxandbuddha.wordpress.com/
  3. http://www.stephanie-blog.co.uk/

Please go and say hello to these lovely bloggers!

Now for the Reality Blog Award! from Ponderings

The rules of this award are as follows:

1. Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Display the award on your blog somewhere
3. Acknowledge the blogger on your blog and link back to them.
4. Answer the 5 simple questions about yourself.
5. Nominate as many as 20 bloggers for this award and notify them.

Here are the five questions set for me:

What encouraged you to begin blogging, and how has the experience affected your life?

I started blogging to keep in touch with my eldest child when he went to university. It was a way of holding a more in-depth conversation without long, expensive phone calls or timing issues. I liked writing anyway so it was not a great leap; I was mainly concerned that other people might read it and tried not to be found. More recently I have ventured further afield and made new blogging friends, and am enjoying the whole experience!

What is your favorite wordpress feature?

I like the Daily Prompt. I used to use Plinky but it got silly although I found some great bloggers that way.

To date, what would you say you are most proud of having posted, and why (don’t forget to include a link)? 

I think it’s the post where I admit to my own depression. It’s not cheerful but I was scared to put that in the public domain and have been grateful for the responses.

https://electronicbaglady.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/black-dog/

What role does writing play in your life?

Writing is good for my mental well being, as I said in the earlier question. Plus I like the sound of my own voice. What’s not to enjoy in blogging?

If you had to do a character sketch based on yourself, would you like the character? Is there anything you would change?

I’m not very positive about myself, so a character sketch might not turn out well. At best I’d feel sorry for me, for being so timid and slow to change and risk-averse. I see little to celebrate.

More blogs to read:

http://grandmalin.wordpress.com/

http://knockedoverbyafeather.wordpress.com/

http://cardcastlesinthesky.wordpress.com/

Show them some bags of love!

For those of you still with me – I salute your stamina. Namaste!

No one expects the comfy chair!

Rarasaur is kindly providing a series of prompts for the promptless and this week it’s on the 11th Possibility: the 11th Possibility is the idea that, regardless of data to the contrary, something unexpected and outside the realm of ordinary thought is always potentially around the corner.

This, my dears, speaks to my very soul. I love that kind of non sequitur, and all I could think of after reading the prompt were prime examples of humour that make me go <snort>.

For example, Monty Python’s hapless Spanish Inquisition, bursting in to cry “NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!” and then failing miserably to torture or maim anyone, beyond making them sit in the Comfy Chair, ensuring that the victim will get “only a cup of coffee at 11” o’clock and making the torture “worse by shouting a lot”.

Ah, Messieurs Pythons, how I love you. I never wanted to run a pet shop anyway, I always wanted to be a lumberjack.

You know when you get an ear-worm – one of those tunes you can’t get out of your head, sometimes for days? It’s been a bit like that with this prompt. I keep thinking of something completely different.

Most clamorous have been Messrs Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. Both writers convey the 11th Possibility with expertise and panache. In both cases I appreciate their sudden twists of logic which leave me wrong-footed but amused by the dissonance.

In Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, apart from the invention of the Infinite Improbability Drive to power a spaceship, there are little moments when things just don’t quite go according to the usual script.

“What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?”
“Ask a glass of water!”

As for Terry Pratchett, almost any page you care to look at will have some kind of twist or turn that leaves the brain faintly disoriented.

The question seldom addressed is where Medusa had snakes. Underarm hair is an even more embarrassing problem when it keeps biting the top of the deodorant bottle.

So does an 11th Possibility matter? For me, it’s about opening up new ideas, creating space to try something different, or just experiencing uncertainty in a safe but stimulating way.

I am making it sound dull. Let’s try this.

Humour is what makes the world go round without us falling asleep or falling out; our creative brains are engaged and exercised and expanded by indulging it.

In my team at work I am the most right-brain of us all. What that says about our team I dread to think. Anyway, on one occasion we were on a workshop together and during the day various members of the team would leave the main room to go and take part in an individual exercise elsewhere. My colleague sitting next to me said, during the tea break, “You know, I keep seeing people going out but I never notice them coming back.”

“There’s a mad axe murderer out there,” I explained. “We’re actually being picked off one by one. By tonight there will just be one of us left. It’s management cutbacks.”

She looked at me strangely. “Trust you,” she said. “I just meant I was impressed by how quietly they all slipped back into the room.”

I sighed. How boring.

Namaste.

 

30DC-25 – A picture of your day.

It’s been a busy day but most notably I have been clearing out books to be sent to new homes. Some of them are in the picture, but in total I reckon there are at least as many again piled up nearby.

I’m not good at getting rid of books but recently decided I needed to focus my interests a bit more. So out go the books on topics I no longer plan to work on, leaving me more shelf space for the books in areas of interest. The other criterion was: can I get this information (or more up-to-date information) easily on the Internet? If so, I don;t need the paper version.

I think I could have been even more ruthless but this is a pretty good start. I did this kind of thing once before but regretted it almost at once, so this time I have decided the rules I am using so I know why the books are going. Last time I made the wild assumption I could still get hold of the books at the library, but I now know better.

100_8072

30DC-24 – A picture of something you wish you could change

Once upon a time there was a happy family of 2 parents, 2 little boys and a beautiful cat. One day one of the parents (it was me, did you guess?) discovered she couldn’t actually live with the cat without sneezing and itching and having watering eyes, a sore throat and general cat-related issues.

The family acquired a little girl as well, but still the cat symptoms did not go away. Which was a shame; I mean about the symptoms, not the little girl. So the cat had to go and live in Essex.

Rather unfortunately the cat went to live in Essex with a family friend, which then meant that I couldn’t go and visit her any more either. Doh!

Anyway, I liked having a cat and wish I still could.

catallergy

30DC-23: A picture of your favourite book.

Some of you will be aware that I quite like the odd book or two. I own a few of them and keep them handily about the house, acting as additional insulation, convenient dust collectors and general well-being generators. Alice said "What is the use of a book without pictures?"; I say "What is the use of a house without books?". If you are especially perspicacious you might have noticed that a few of them have crept up behind me in my profile picture. These days some more have even infiltrated my actual computer through the cunning ploy of being instantly downloadable from the Internet. No more waiting a day or two for the post; I can get my eyeballs on fresh text in seconds.

Given the choices I have in selecting a favourite book, the casual observer may be forgiven for thinking that it would perplex me beyond all reason to frame a response to this prompt. The casual observer would, of course, be not only observing casually, lounging on the sofa as if he owned the place, but also making baseless assumptions. I have a favourite. Oh yes. My precious, precious favourite.

30DC-a song that reminds you of a certain event

When I was 11 we went to spend Christmas with my aunt and uncle in Canada. My grandmother had died the previous Christmas, and my parents were able to take a holiday. Things were going well for them financially so they could afford a family trip across the ocean.

Our plane was the last one allowed to land at Montreal due to heavy snow, so we were lucky not to be diverted to Toronto. Back home in England the country was enjoying strikes and power cuts and shortages; in Canada we were treated like heroic refugees, and provided with cakes and sweets and inquisitive sympathy, much to our bemusement.

However, there were no other children to play with so I kept myself busy on my own. The snow was a revelation; we never had heavy snow at home in London’s suburbs, although what we did have was wet and made excellent snowballs. The Canadian variety was dry and powdery and my uncle had to water it for me before I could build a snowman.

When I wasn’t outside exploring the strange new world of toboggans and ice hockey, I was in the basement with the record player. For some reason I had brought two records with me from England. Both were chart hits, and the better of the two was this song. It was a voice from home, alien to the new world I found myself in, but robustly linking me to England and English Christmases, the best in the world.