Monday 27 April 2009

Dream Coming True

It seems I'm on the move. I've just successfully negotiated a price for my house with a buyer via my agent. I meet the buyer for the first time this evening when she is bringing her son to see it. Fingers crossed that everything will go smoothly from now on.

I'm waiting to talk to a local conveyancing specialist and also have about 10 houses at the coast to go and see tomorrow. Hubby is getting cover for his work so that he can come too.

Whoopee - ocean, here I come.

Friday 24 April 2009

In Defence of Haiku

When I read Jim Murdoch's post about hating haiku recently, I had to agree with a lot of what he wrote. But I also have a reason to love haiku.

I first learnt about haiku on a college course as a mature student when I was about 34. I'd been going through a bad patch after my first husband left me and our two children.

My love life was erratic. I'd had a few dates but couldn't seem to click with anyone. If they wanted to see me again, I wasn't interested, and if I was, they weren't. I was feeling unattractive and uninteresting. At the same time, I was trying to make a happy and comfortable life for my children while pursuing some higher education on a students' grant. (In retrospect, I was so lucky that it was a grant and not a loan as it might be today.)

One evening I found a babysitter and went to listen to some music in my local church. I thought it might be uplifting, but I found it bitter sweet, and in this mood I wandered home along the path by the river in the dark. Selfishly not thinking about my children, I couldn't care less if there was a psychopath around to bump me off. It would have been a happy release. Silly me.

My college assignment to write a haiku drifted into my mind as I looked at the reflection of the moon in the water beside me, and this just popped up in my head.

The moonlight shimmers
as the breeze stirs the water
on a warm June night.

I've never forgotten it. Every time I think of it, I remember my hopeless mood and how fortunate I am to be not still in that place.

Now I write a haiku diary, picking a small moment or event in each day that seems memorable. I always stick to the 5–7–5 syllables but not always the Japanese rules on content. How factual or poetic they are varies a lot but reading them afterwards usually brings back the emotions and feelings along with the memories. I post these in my other blog over at Writelink. Here's a link to the last one in case you'd like to see.

So that's why I love haiku. I couldn't be without them in my life now.

Monday 20 April 2009

CC Writing and Sales

I think I’m getting back into the writing swing after my recent holiday and family visits. I spent most of today responding to a customer wanting an article about the history of the Chinese cheongsam that was in the public requests at Constant Content. That probably means I wasn’t the only one to do it and my piece may not get chosen, but another customer may want it.

Be great if I could sell it twice for usage rights, as I have just done with another piece I wrote as soon as I was back from Egypt. That’s the beauty of the usage rights at Constant Content. You can sell and sell again and still have the worked showcased for more customers to find.

More of them seem to be going for usage rights at the moment. It is becoming really popular now, whereas the full rights option has previously been what most people were buying. Of course full rights are more expensive so perhaps it’s because of the credit crunch.

I tend to price full rights at twice the fee for usage, so if I sell more than twice, I will be in pocket. That hasn’t happened yet though. But after a decent interval from a sale, I will put the article on Helium as well so it will continue earning for me as long as people click to read.

Sunday 19 April 2009

My Week

Since I missed posting on both Wednesday and Friday this week, I thought I’d add a Sunday post.

The week has been really eventful and I have lots of new writing material. In fact, there’s so much rolling around my head and noted down in different places, I’ll need a few months to get it all down.

On Monday I wrote here briefly about hubby and I taking my granddaughter to a country park with many adventure play areas. On Tuesday her mother arrived – my wonderful daughter, of whom I am inordinately proud. It was a bit rainy so we went to an indoor soft play centre.

These are a relatively new phenomenon that seem to have sprung up all over the UK. Thinking back to when my children were young, if we’d had them then, it would have made my life a lot easier. With six and a half years between my son and daughter, it was always difficult to find place to go and activities that they would both enjoy.

On Wednesday, we went to the local Heavy Horse Centre. It began with a pony ride for the littl’un. Then we saw the heavy horses in their stables before our picnic lunch and the feeding of pony nuts to the horses, ponies, donkeys and goats. There was the inevitable adventure playground and some pedalled go karts that were a great hit. We rode a tractor trailer and attended a fascinating presentation all about the different breeds of heavy horses.

Thursday saw us head for the shops at Poole and then the beach, and my texts about sipping a glass of wine on the terrace of the Sandbanks Hotel, in the lovely sunshine, made my friends green with envy. Unfortunately I can’t show you that because I’d left the camera in the car.

Friday we busied ourselves turning out rubbish from the garage and taking it to the tip before cleaning up and visiting friends.

And Saturday morning at 11 they left us to drive the hundred miles home, so hubby, who’d been working all week and feeling a bit left out, should have had my undivided attention. Except that the estate agent suddenly wanted the house ready for viewing so it was all systems go to get it looking fairly immaculate by 1.45. The feedback on that is the most promising so far, so I’m agog for more news next week.

Will I have a sale and be one step closer to my dream of moving to the seaside?

Monday 13 April 2009

Kids' Paradise

This is a picture of a corner of Moors Valley Country Park where hubby and I took my granddaughter today. As you can see we were in good company as we followed the play trail around various different adventure playgrounds in their woodland setting.
After that I'm in no fit state to write any more.

Friday 10 April 2009

Egyptian Evening Haiku

Egypt nights fall fast.
Magical tree silhouettes
on hotel terrace.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Chili's Anyone?


I just heard that the Chili's restaurant and bar in the Oracle Shopping Centre, Reading, reopened last month. Check out its Reading Press Release to read more about it. Before January, when its kitchen was damaged by fire and it had to close, it was the most popular of the American chain’s seven locations in the UK.

The kitchen has now been completely renovated and the reopening secures the jobs of its 65 staff - good news in these credit crunch days. Hopefully its fans are once again filling its 250 guest capacity, keeping these workers firmly in the numbers of the employed.

According to its website, the Chili’s menus live up to their name, with lots of spicy tex-mex options, although punters can get a plain steak or salmon fillet if they prefer. There is even a section called Guiltless Grill where the main items are guaranteed to come in at less than 750 calories, 25 grams of fat and 8 grams of saturated fat, so weight watchers need not be deterred.

You can also buy gift cards, which is a great idea when you are stumped about what birthday present to get for the person who seems to have everything. But they are only offered in US dollars, so I don’t know if we can get sterling ones. They are definitely offering Chili's Vouchers here, with a good discount for parties of between four and ten people. You just print off the voucher and hand it in when you pay.

Must get myself up to Reading sometime soon with some pals. I'll ask about the gift cards when we try out those scrumptious looking dishes.


Something to Make you Smile

This is doing the email rounds. It's good, clean fun. If you haven't seen it yet, I hope it might raise a chuckle and lift your day for a minte or two.

Catholic Wisdom

When the 98 year old Mother Superior from a convent in Ireland was on her death bed, the nuns gathered around her to make her journey comfortable.

They tried giving her warm milk, but she refused it. As one of the nuns went to the kitchen to take back the glass of milk, she remembered the bottle of Irish Whisky they had received the previous Christmas. She opened the bottle and poured a generous amount into the warmed milk.

She returned to Mother Superior’s bed, held the glass to her lips and encouraged her to drink it. Mother did drink a little, then she drank a little more, then more and pretty soon she’d drunk the last drop.

The nuns said, “Mother, please give us some words of wisdom before you die.” Mother Superior raised herself up in the bed and said, “Don’t sell that cow!”

Monday 6 April 2009

From Egypt to Japan

Pic of Dotonbori Street in Osaka is by JM Suarez at Wikimedia Commons

Would you believe that I’m recently back from two weeks in Egypt and I am writing about Japan, where I’ve never been. It’s just because one of my favourite customers at CC wants a travel article about Osaka, and the deadline for his request is on Thursday. So I need to get it submitted tomorrow in the hope that he’ll choose to buy it.

All the public requests at CC are competitive, so you have to do a good job to have a chance of being the chosen one. I have seen part of one other article on the subject by another article, but I suspect it is not well targeted for this customer’s readers, so I feel fairly confident. But we’ll have to wait and see.

I started the research just before lunch today. I always have to stop for that because hubby comes in to eat with me, and we had ham salad sandwiches that didn’t take long to make. Anyway I kept at it all afternoon and have about half the first draft completed.

I was amazed at how much there is to see and do in Osaka. And I’ve already learned quite a bit about Japanese history and culture. I do love doing all the research, possibly even more than writing it up in a new way. But nothing beats the high of getting the piece accepted. I’ll let you know.

Friday 3 April 2009

Returning from Holidays

It always takes me quite a while to catch up with everything on return from a holiday. Apart from a couple of emails and message replies, these are the first words I’ve typed since we got back at 1.30 am yesterday. I’ve had to write a bit in longhand though, because all the postcards I bought didn’t get written while we were away but are now ready to be posted, together with presents for grandchildren and a friend’s birthday.

Egypt was the most fabulous destination. The experience was completely different from any I’ve had before. I have so much to write about, and so many photos that I could post one a day for well over a year. I promise not to bore you like that, though. For today, here are the modes of transport that get you around the Luxor area.

A Calashe – horse carriage

A felucca – sail boat

A decorated motor boat.

And there's one more for which I can't find a photo at the moment - the blue and white taxi. I may have a pic but I don't have the energy left to search any more. They are much like taxis the world over anyway, some brand new and some old and very decrepit.

Writing Tip

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