Wednesday 25 February 2009

A Dedicated Gardener

You may remember this photo, which I posted here early last summer after visiting the walled garden of Mottisfont Abbey.

I’ve just discovered the name of the rose. It happened that, yesterday, I was catching up with some reading while sitting on the throne. In my National Trust magazine I suddenly came across a very similar photo that was unmistakably the same rose. It’s called ‘Graham Thomas’ after the consultant gardener who set up the rose collection there when the Trust took over the care of the walled garden in 1972.

The magazine ran a feature about the remarkable work of this man who died in 2003 at the ripe old age of 94. He became the first gardens adviser to the NT early in 1955 and twenty years later the Queen recognised his service by awarding him an OBE. He worked tirelessly at a wide variety of properties to restore, develop and conserve the gardens as they were meant to be viewed.

Thomas also wrote many horticultural books and illustrated them with his own drawings and paintings. Wikipaedia lists 13 of them. His work was his life and he told a colleague that he had never had time to marry (according to the magazine feature).

I’m actually quite proud of my photo. I think it’s just as good as the ones in the magazine and on Wikipaedia. But Shutterstock turned it down for having no commercial value.

PS I'll be away for the next few days and don't know if I will be able to post or drop my EC card. Back to normal next week.

Monday 23 February 2009

My Blackout Protest

See here for an explanation.

Sunday 22 February 2009

Freelance Writerville

Thought I'd drop in this extra post as tomorrow I'm hoping to be able to do a blackout one, if I can work out how to do it. Yes that's what I decided to do - see here if you don't understand that. Anyway I don't usually post on Sundays, but that's the reason for this one.

Last Thursday I was a guest poster at Freelance Writerville. If you want to read it, you can do so here.

Today I read that Yolander,who set up that site, is abandoning her Today blog. That's always been my kicking off point for Freelance Writerville, so now I will have to remember to go to it every day from a bookmark instead of when do my EC dropping. I wonder if I can make that work.

Anyway, if you are a writer and haven't been there before, it's well worth a look.

Friday 20 February 2009

Guilt on Accusation

How would you feel if your ISP suddenly pulled the plug on you? Instantly you would be virtually cut off from the rest of the world. Just because someone accused you of infringing their copyright, whether it was true or not.

According to The Creative Freedom Foundation, this is what can be expected if a proposed new copyright law of Guilt on Accusation is put into force in New Zealand at the end of this month. Section 92A of the Copyright Amendment Act will force ISPs to act. And the Foundation believes this sounds the death knell for blogging.

Various protests have been taking place in the country, and now the Foundation is calling for a blog blackout throughout next Monday, Feb 23rd. This means removing your blogs or simply posting blacked out squares for the day.

I’d certainly be taking part in this if I were a New Zealander, but as I’m not, I haven’t decided yet what, if anything, I’m going to do. I don’t condone anyone stealing anyone else’s work, have been a victim of this in the past and would willingly have erased everything in the perpetrator’s domain. But doing it without investigating or allowing the accused to refute the claim or speak in their own defence seems to me to be asking for trouble. If you have a grudge against someone, all you have to do is report that you actually wrote something first, or took that particular photo, and bingo – they’re in muckloads of trouble.

I’m being told that this affects all of us although it will be a New Zealand law. I’m not sure how that will work, or whether NZ will have powers over ISP’s from other countries. I’d love someone to actually explain it to me.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday - Spring is Coming

Pic by Hanabi (Wikimedia Commons)
Some of these crocuses will soon be blooming in my garden.

Monday 16 February 2009

Magnetic Therapy for Humans and Animals

This payperpost opportunity is very timely as my sister has been telling me how she is thinking of trying out a magnetic bracelet to help with the arthritic pain in her arm. I decided to do some research and discovered that, among medical practitioners and laymen alike, there is no doubt that magnets can help to reduce pain and accelerate the healing of injuries, as well as ongoing medical conditions.

Athletes and other sports people swear by them to help them get fit again as quickly as possible after they’ve been injured. I was told that as well as restoring the normal blood flow to affected areas, they rebalance the ion concentrations. This meant nothing to me, so I looked up ion in my trusty Reader’s Digest Wordpower Dictionary. It told me that an ion is “an atom or molecule with a net electric charge caused through loss or gain of electrons, either positive or negative”, which sort of makes sense to me.

A word of warning though: magnets must be used correctly, so you need to get them from a reputable supplier. I’ll be recommending my sister to check out this one, where she can get a tried and tested wrap to go around her upper arm.

Since magnetic therapy has proved so effective for humans, many people are now trying them out on their injured pets, often with brilliant results. You can buy magnetic collars for cats and dogs, as well as special beds for them in different sizes. If you have horses or ponies in need, you can get them special boots or tendon wraps, headcollars and rugs. I’m going to remember that. There is nothing worse than having to watch a beloved pet’s suffering and feeling utterly helpless.

Friday 13 February 2009


Would you walk under this ladder, especially today?

Every year our calendar has at least one Friday 13th. This year we’ll have three – today and in March and November. Last year’s single one was in July while next year we’ll again just have the one in August.

If you are among the many folk particularly wary of Friday 13th, you are suffering from paraskevidekatriaphobia, or the slightly easier to pronounce friggatriskaidekaphobia – two names for the same phenomenon. Triskaidekapohobia on its own just means fear of the number 13.

All of these words are made up of elements of the Greek language. ‘Tris’, ‘kai’ and ‘deka’ mean ‘three and ten’ while ‘phobia’ is Greek for ‘fear’ or ‘flight’. Paraskevidekatriaphobia begins with a combination of the Greek words for Friday, ‘paraskevi’, and 13, ‘dekatria’. The final word has the same origin as our name for Friday: Frigga, wife of the Norse god, Odin. And Friday comes after Thursday, named after Thor, Odin’s son by a different wife. Friday is said to be the witches Sabbath and Frigga is one of the goddesses associated with witchcraft.

You can find a number of theories about the origins of these superstitions and phobias.

§ A coven is made up of 13 witches.

§ Christian ideas relate it to the crucifixion happening on a Friday, also the last supper attended by Christ and the 12 apostles, the 13th being Judas Iscariot, the traitor.

§ Some believe it had an earlier origin when the Norse god Odin was entertaining 11 of his friends at Valhalla and his crafty brother, Loki, turned up uninvited, changing the party total to 13. It was at this party that Loki managed the tragic demise of Baldur, son of Odin and Frigga.

§ It was on Friday 13th October, 1307 that the Knights Templar across France were arrested en masse, to suffer torture and death at the whim of the Pope who had been jealous of their power.

Some famously nasty happenings have been linked to Friday and/or the number 13, but sometimes these links do seem rather contrived.

§ The crew members of the Apollo 13 mission failed to land on the moon, and were lucky to get home following an oxygen tank explosion on board. They were launched from Pad 39 (3 x 13) at 13:13 hours (not local time, but Houston mission control time) on 11th April, 1970 (11 + 4 + 70 = 85, and 8 + 5 = 13).

§ Composer Arnold Schoenberg was afflicted with triskaidekaphobia. Born on the 13th day of September in 1874, he died on Friday 13th July 1951 at 13 minutes to midnight. He is said to have predicted his death on this day as it was the first Friday 13th in his 76th year (7 + 6 = 13).

§ An amazing number of serial killers’ names have 13 letters – Charles Manson, Wayne Williams, Pee Wee Gaskins, Thierry Paulin, Fritz Haarmann, John Wayne Gacy, Michael Swango, Theodore Bundy, Herbert Mullin, Jack the Ripper, Harold Shipman, Frederick West, and Peter Sutcliffe, are just 13 of them.

§ In 1993 The British Medical Journal published a report that stated that there were far fewer people traveling on a Friday 13th than on other Friday dates. Nevertheless the numbers of patients admitted to hospital following traffic accidents were far higher than the norm for Fridays. The report concluded that the risk of having an accident on Friday 13th could be 52% higher than on other days, but it did not consider the possible reasons for this. One school of thought is that there is nothing supernatural about it – drivers could just be anxious and distracted by the date, which affects their driving skills.

Nevertheless in our Western culture, triskaidekaphobia is common and is often accommodated.

§ For those who live or work in a high-rise building, there is often no Floor 13. The floor numbers have been listed as going from 12 to 14. Well, would you want to spend time on the 13th floor?

§ In America where town streets are identified by number, there is often no 13th Street. And some airports have no Gate 13.

§ Generally, we avoid having 13 people at the dinner table – in France there is an organization that can supply a 14th dinner guest at short notice.

Of course there are always some who buck the trend. Some rugby clubs in Britain have set up Friday 13th supper clubs with 13 members who eat together every time the memorable date comes around. It doesn’t seem to have affected their clubs’ performance, either.

Monday 9 February 2009

One Dead Printer

This morning started well. I was pleased when the post arrived because it contained some ink cartridges from a new supplier.

I ordered them after the last black ink cartridges I’d bought several months ago, from a supplier that will only accept returns for seven days, simply didn’t fit. Of course, I tried two of the four I had bought, because it’s cheaper to buy them in bulk, before refitting the old one that was almost empty. At which point the printer told me it WAS empty and wouldn’t print.

Anyway, that was about 72 hours ago and the new ink cartridges arrived today. I put one in and it fitted fine. I did a print test and it sounded fine but the paper came out blank. I cleaned the heads about eight times, did several nozzle checks. Nothing.

I googled “troubleshooting Epson CX5400” and found someone with exactly the same problem who fixed it by dismantling the whole unit and gluing a something tube into its socket because it had become unfixed. I looked at the instructions, then got my husband to look as well. No way I could follow them but he might.

Trouble is I can’t print the instructions so he will have to do it next to the computer and read it off the screen. That means I can’t get on with anything else for the time it takes. And that could be hours or days, as he’s likely to get a phone call at any time that will take him back out to work and would have to just leave it. For the moment we’ve abandoned the idea.

I found a company that will come out and do repairs, but I didn’t bother to ring them. The cost of an engineer would surely equal the cost of a new printer. I’ve been looking at them on ebay and Amazon etc, but haven’t yet decided to buy. Hubby says he’ll take a look at it tonight now. But he’ll be downstairs with his workmate on a dustsheet and some plastic sheeting to protect the carpet from ink. While I’ll be upstairs in my office calling down instructions in between EC dropping or some such.

After all this, I finally got through to the Egyptian Consulate in London this morning. And I discovered that I can send in our applications for our holiday visas if I download and PRINT them from their website.

Friday 6 February 2009

Another Tag

I’ve been tagged by Pattye over at Greys and Things. Pattye’s fascinating blog is about living with two retired greyhounds. I first met her through another blog ‘written’ by these two dogs. Pattye is obviously a very creative writer. I tend to prefer a smaller, stockier type of dog: we used to have a staffie. But through reading these blogs I have become quite fond of these rangy looking creatures.

Anyway my brief is to tell you seven weird things about myself, so here goes:

1) I was a horse mad teenager and sometimes bunked off school after going home to lunch, so I could go and help out at the riding school next door. My poor mother never found out. I use to go home early and she would sign notes for my teacher that I wrote saying I had a migraine so had to come home and miss some classes.

2) My father ran an amateur football club and sometimes I would take a Shetland pony along as a mascot running up and down the touchline.

3) After football matches, all the players’ kit was loaded into suitcases and taken to our house for washing by hand. It was dumped in our bath and I would help with the scrubbing and rinsing along with my mother and sister. Sometimes it was really hard to get out all the red mud from the soil in our area.

4) I don’t like pineapple. It’s the one fruit I can’t stand. When I got married the first time, many moons ago, we honeymooned on the Isle of Wight, and our hotel served up pineapple with just about every meal.

5) When I was pregnant for the first time I craved cheese and onion crisps dunked in cider. I feel a bit guilty about that because now my adult son’s favourite drink is cider.

6) I had the privilege of being my daughter’s birth partner when my granddaughter was born, so I bonded with her immediately. She’s five now and we’re best mates.

7) I got married for the second time in 2007 after my now husband and I had been co-habiting for about 24 years. I like to think that our first anniversary was actually the silver one.

Now I need to pass this tag on to seven more people that I’d like to know more about. As these tags go round, it gets more difficult to find people who haven’t been tagged before, and of course I may have got that wrong. If so, I can only apologise. I hope those I choose will not find the task too onerous, but anyway, it’s up to you if you want to respond.

Symphony of Love
Writing with Wings
Sharp Words
Writer’s Treehouse
Imagination Manifesto
A Poet’s View
Rant of Ferox.

If you haven’t been chosen this time, it’s not because I’m not curious about you. I find all bloggers lives fascinating. These just came to mind first. Please don’t forget to check them out.

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Writing Places

I am currently reading The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron. Like the books by Julia Cameron and Dorothea Brande that I’ve read recently, this one discusses the environment for writing. His views converge from the other two, however, as he must always write privately and not in public view. They all suggest different writing places, as well as sitting at your computer in your office, the two women talking of getting in touch with the muse at a table in a coffee shop. But Heffron feels he would be inhibited in such a place, although he doesn’t rule out a park bench.

I incline towards the private myself, so I was reassured to find an author that agreed with me. I have written on a train, which was public enough but didn’t seem to draw glances. Other places include hotel rooms, where there was just me with time to fill when I’ve been away on business, and holiday homes when hubby has left me in peace. But mostly I write in my study, which is the use I have made of our third bedroom.

For a break, I get up, stretch and walk two paces to the window. Here are a couple of moods of the view I can see.

The rainbow was taken in the autumn of 2007. The snowy one was just yesterday.

I’d love to hear about other places to write, and where your muse kicks in.

PS. The books I’ve been reading are:

Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande, first published 1934
(my version with foreword by John Braine written in 1983)
PAPERMAC – ISBN 0-333-34673-4

The Right to Write by Julia Cameron, 1999
Macmillan – ISBN 0-333-78203-8

The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron, 2004
Penguin – ISBN 0-141-01869-0

The Writer’s Idea Book by Jack Heffron, 2000
Writer’s Digest Books – ISBN 0-965-09505-3

PPS. I’ve been tagged by Do come back on Friday to read my responses.

Monday 2 February 2009

Entrecard Top Droppers

I thought I might as well get on the bandwagon of the Top Dropper Day, even though I am a day late. It’s a good way to thank my loyal followers. I know there are plenty more, but these are the ones that came by the most times in the last 30 days, according to my statistics page. Thank you one and all.

Symphony of Love
The Way I See It
Photography by KML
Let's Jump Together
Caught In The Stream
The Half-Life of Linoleum
Behind the Bit
Blog Fiction
Kitchen Retro
Republic of A

PS I should also mention that Sasha also nominated me for the triple award but was pipped at the post by Geri's World as reported in a previous post. Thanks anyway Sasha. I am honoured once again.

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