Sunday 28 February 2010

Morning Tanka

Rain pounds on rooftops.
Snuggle duvet closer round.
When bed is cosy
with dreams of sun-baked beaches,
why begin a day like this?

Friday 26 February 2010

Sunset Drama

I'm feeling tired and uninspired this afternoon. So I'll just give you this picture of an amazing evening sky taken from a bedroom window in my previous home.

Monday 22 February 2010

The Bedroom

(Ch√Ęteau de Versailles Queen's bed - Picture taken by deror avi on June 2005)

Catching up with The Writing Nag today, I took note of the prompt to write about “Bedrooms You have Known”. I’m not sure if I’ll end up doing that but it did get me thinking about the current bedroom that I share with my hubby.

When we moved here last summer, the first thing we did was put up some orange curtains we brought with us from the last house. They were about the only ones wide enough to fit the current bedroom window and give us some privacy, and they served their immediate purpose.

The trouble is they are still hanging there. And they aren’t a good match for my bed linen. I’m starting to feel uncomfortable about it. My bedroom is definitely not the relaxing space it should be.

Since we moved, we’ve had several lots of overnight visitors. So the priority was to spend the necessary time and money on getting the two spare bedrooms looking good and comfortable. Now the time and money is running short and we haven’t yet found the energy to finish off our own bedroom. I think I’ve decided it has to be done this month.

Thank you, Writing Nag.

Saturday 20 February 2010

Money Matters

This week has been busy and expensive. I had to renew both my home insurance and my car insurance, but I also had reams of work with deadlines to meet.

Today I also could have been writing because other deadlines loom, but I decided to take some time to do some admin and try and get my finances sorted. There were three months of bank statements I hadn't even looked at, so when I did I wasted loads of time scrabbling around trying to make sense of some of the amounts on them.

Then I got around to checking the insurance renewals and decided to get some more quotes. That all takes so much time, but it was worth it for I've saved myself about £150, which is nearly as much as I've earned meeting those deadlines.

The morals of this little tale are: check your bank statements as soon as you get them, and make time to shop around and save money on insurance.

The picture is for some light relief. It is not of my house but is of my neighbourhood. And if you look closely you'll see that it includes the types of things I've had to insure.

Now I'd better get back to work.

Friday 19 February 2010


Do you recognise this picture? I found it in a sub-folder labelled Scenic under My Pictures on my computer, and I'm assuming it's one of those that came bundled with the PC when it was new. Since I inherited the computer, I can't be sure.

But I do like the photo. And I'd love to know where it is. Can you help?

Thursday 18 February 2010

Magical Real Estate in Arizona

About a year ago I posted about dream homes available in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Now my attention has been directed to more gorgeous houses available in the state and I can’t resist writing about these at Troon North houses for sale near Scottsdale, by the same agency, The Holm Group. Do click on that link to see what I mean about them being just beautiful homes. I could pass an hour or two just looking.

If you are a regular reader here you’ll know that I’ve recently moved to my own dream home and have achieved my goal of living by the sea. Still if I had the wherewithal for a second home like this, I don’t think I’d hesitate. These homes are like film sets, but they really are available for anyone who has between $300,000 and several million at their fingertips.

Sporty types would be really at home (excuse the pun). Some of these houses are located within or beside the area’s two award winning golf courses. Some have their own tennis courts but you can also find them at the Community Park - basketball courts as well. Of course they generally have their own pools. I certainly wouldn’t look at one without.

They have desert and mountain views, and the night-time pictures on the site are magical. If only……..

Sunday 14 February 2010

MyLot and Swing Parks

I've just added my blog to myLot and have to claim it. So I have to add the following link to this post:

I wonder if it will bring me more traffic.

Changing the subject

Close to my house is a children's play park which the local council have recently upgraded, adding some more exciting things for them to do. There's even a flying fox like the one my granddaughter is enjoying in the picture. I was a bit sceptical at first because it meant doing away with a grassed area where they often gathered to play their versions of football and other games.

The new playground was launched after school was out today, and I sat in my office working for a while and listening to tannoyed announcements and excited children while trying to form words about a Wills and Probate service. Eventually I gave up and went out to witness what was going on.

The park was heaving with children, and every swing or climbing frame was occupied. I saw mothers with pushchairs chatting together while their older children enjoyed the amenities. An ice cream van was parked nearby and a council official in a bright yellow jacket headed its queue for refreshment.

I was mighty impressed. Nothing like that went on when my children were small. it was a real community gathering and it gladdened my heart.

Saturday 13 February 2010

Sod's Law and Light Relief

Having taken some time off this month, I've got a lot of catching up to do. Sod's law says that I have lots of work with deadlines. I have to write a dozen articles about various aspects of financial planning, commercial litigation and legal advice for small businesses. I've also promised short articles on: one way of adding value to your house; on-line banking; and the demise of cheques. Then there is the site content about security projects. Alongside all this there is a customer at Constant Content who is buying all the articles about the Balearic Islands that I can find time to write - 7 so far. Since I've spent holidays on all of them, that's a bit of light relief from all the heavy stuff, but I still need to do research to refresh my memory and get up to date.

The real light relief is writing whatever I feel like in this blog.

Thursday 11 February 2010

I've Fallen in Love

We spent five days looking after this gorgeous dog belonging to my friends while they went off for a few days. It meant staying in their house in the country and following a fairly strict routine, because she was a rescue dog and they have worked hard to make her comfortable with them. We agreed that it would be best to do exactly what they did, so as not to upset her too much in case it took her back to square one.

So every morning I got dressed and wrapped up against the cold, put on Ginger's coat and lead and out we went. Twenty minutes later I was on my way back carrying a little blue nappy sack full of dog poo to be dropped in the bin before entering the house. Next: disrobe dog and myself; measure out dog food pellets and add a spoonful of goats-cheese yoghurt for her breakfast. After that she could have two bonios which she playfully accepted from my hand, followed by a couple of treats or a tooth cleaning snack. Only then could hubby and I have some breakfast and take a shower or whatever.

At around 2 pm, we went out again, this time for a longer walk of at least an hour, using the extending lead so that once we reached a safe, trafficless area, she could roam more freely. Her evening meal was taken between 5.30 and 6, and I had strict instructions on when to add pilchards, cheese, gravy or yoghurt to her mixture. Finally, just before bedtime, it was outside again for ten minutes, just to make sure she didn't need to pee or something, but she never did.

In between all this she spent most of the time on her couch, with the ocassional burst of energy round the garden, after which we had to hunt through the fallen leaves she had used to cover up the dollops she left behind. If we went out without her she had to be left with the radio softly playing Radio 4. Once or twice she spurned her own beds and made a nest of the living room rug.

And sometimes she would come and beg for some attention and stroking, even getting playful with an open mouth from time to time. I became absolutely besotted with her, adoring the velvet feel of her ears and the spot just behind them. It was a real wrench when it was time to leave her behind and come home.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Fair Pricing and Patience for Writers

Last month when I was checking my Helium account, it seemed to take a strange leap up. On checking the reason I found that one of my articles had been purchased for stock content (their jargon) for the princely sum of $5.

Now the same article at Constant Content (CC) had already sold for usage rights just over a year ago. That was when I posted it at Helium as well since I could no longer offer exclusive rights for it at CC at a much higher price. But when I sold it the first time for non-exclusive rights, the price I'd set was $20, which mean that after paying the CC commission, I got $13 for it - not much but still over 2.5 times what Helium paid me.

I can't help wondering how much the purchaser paid Helium for it. At CC we authors know that we sign away 35% of sales to the site, and for that we have the benefit of them showcasing our work, protecting our copyright and finding our buyers. At Helium I have no idea what sort of cut they are taking from such a sale.

Of course, I don't get any revenue share at CC, because they don't have any advertising on the site. Their only income is from the commission on sales. In just over a year at Helium, my article has earned me almost another dollar from page clicks. (And you can find it here at Helium and here at CC).

So far, I've just mentioned internet writing here. When I used to concentrate on writing for the print media, I often waited several months to hear whether my work had been accepted, and then many more months for the publication. And nine times out of 10, payment followed some time after that.

Did you know that writers just have to number patience as one of their most important characteristics?

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Feast, Famine and Absence

This painting is of a village feast is by Cornelis Dusart

Pic of the famine memorial in Dublin by Chmee2 at Wikimedia

I've got work assigments coming out of my ears at the moment. Strange how I still have the feast or famine thing happening even though I'm now supposed to be retired and just doing what I fancy. For anyone not familiar with self employment feats means loads of work and famine means none. It can be quite hard to get a good balance on this when you are freelancing.

Anyway, it is good to have some extra payments coming in because my savings for the house are almost gone now, and while we have enough from our pensions to get by in the normal run of things, there's not much left. And we still have lots of house and garden projects to fund and trips to go on if possible, not to mention having something put aside for when things go wrong.

Something went wrong this morning when I tried to print and the printer only printed the colour graphics - no black text. It took me a while to realise it wasn't my computer system going wrong, just the printer. It took even longer for me to understand that all I needed to do was change the damaged black ink cartridge. But then it worked ok. I'm thankful that I didn't have to buy a new printer. It's still a pain though as a lot of ink was wasted and now I have no spare black cartridges and have to order more.

This could be my last post for a few days as we are off to dogsit for a friend. This dog has a daily walk routine of two long walks and a couple of short ones so I'm thinking we might both lose a few pounds in weight which will be no bad thing. They don't have a TV either so either I'll get lots of scribbling done or hubby and I could have a few more meaningful conversations.

Not sure if I'll get much internet time there, probably just enough to check my emails, so sorry if I don't get to dropping for a while. Back next week.

Monday 1 February 2010

Is it Funny?

I got this by email, and it was meant to make me laugh. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.

Wrong Email Address...

A lesson to be learned from typing the wrong E-mail address:

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a
particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where
they spent their honeymoon 20 years before.

Because of their hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their
travel schedules. So, the husband left Minneapolis and flew to Florida
on Friday, and his wife was flying down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel, and unlike years ago, there was a
computer in his room, and he decided to send an email to his wife.

However, he accidentally left out one letter in her E-mail address, and
without noticing his error, sent the email to the wrong address.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston .. a widow had just returned home from
her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory
after suffering a heart attack.

The widow decided to check her E-mail, expecting messages from relatives
and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and then
fainted. The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the
floor, and then glanced up and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Date: Friday, October 13, 2005
Subject: I have arrived!

Dearest Love:

I know you are surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now,
and you are allowed to send E-mail to your loved ones. I have just
arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been
prepared for your arrival tomorrow, and look forward to seeing you then.

Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

PS . It sure is freakin' hot down here!

Writing Tip

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