Monday, April 16, 2018

Birkenstocks and Russian hackers

Just noticed that my visitor stats over the weekend reached an all-time low. Makes no sense to me how it works. Visitors from Russia but also the Ukraine. And the middle east.

With stats like that I must be a target for whatsitcalled, the Russian state cyber operations. So I should have more visitors if they're doing their job properly. They must be struggling to break my code. Stands to reason my posts must be in code: nobody could be this boring/weird really.

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We go on holiday on Wednesday. Husband has just checked in online and he tells me we're not sitting together on the plane: he's in row 31 and I'm in row 12. I hope the man across the aside from me is amenable to me grabbing his hand as we take off/land.

Talking about going on holiday I wish I'd remembered before today that I intended to buy new sandals before going on holiday again.
Birkenstocks well-worn
Daughter-in-law gave me these - I think they didn't fit someone - probably about four years ago and since then I've lived in them, indoors in the winter, and in and out in the summer. They've taken me to Italy, Malaysia, England, Vietnam, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, and Tenerife. They've been on beaches, up volcanoes, in cities and they've been blissfully comfortable. But I really should have got some new ones ...

I'd never tried Birkenstocks before but I'm hooked and refuse to buy any others so new sandals will have to wait until we get back from our holiday. 

As long as I remember to buy them before our 'honeymoon'.

To tip or not to tip

One never knows whether one should tip a tradesman.

Or in this case a delivery man.

Husband had taken George out for a walk so I was on my own when the man arrived to deliver six internal doors. As he carried them in I panicked over whether I should tip him. 

One part of me said, 'It's his job.'
'Yes, but he's being very careful  not to damage anything.'
'Well so he should.'
'Yes, but he hasn't got anyone with him to help him.'
'That's a problem for him and his employers.'
'Yes, but he's got to climb up our steps.'
'Again, that's his job.'
'But it's quite warm and he's sweating.'
'He can take his coat off.'
'Yes, but he's ... quite large. I don't want him to have a heart attack.'
'That's not your problem: it's his job.'
'But I would hate to hear on the news that a Wickes delivery man had had a heart attack and died and I hadn't even given him a tip.'

So I did. After a further dilemma over how much. And whether I could get away with pretending to be the cleaner - I was dressed for it - and therefore not responsible for tips. 'That's the missus' job, guv.'


I was going to write about ... something, I can't remember what but then I read a post on Tammy's blog about coconut and decided I'd do a short post too.

Tammy was extolling the virtue of coconut oil as a face cream. As a teenager I used coconut oil as a sun tan lotion. Or maybe more accurately as a sun burn lotion. You could buy it in solid form in pots in the chemist. I'd buy a pot and take it to the beach where I had to wait for it to melt before I could apply it. We didn't know about the sun and skin cancer in those days. But it was good for a tan.

I only recently - well, comparatively recently as in the last few years - discovered that I liked to eat coconut. I'd always refused to try a Bounty bar or cakes with jam and coconut on the top. Today I love coconut cake and use it in all sorts of things. 

yellow gorse flower
On holiday in Vietnam Husband and I were 'conned' into buying a fresh coconut drink each. You know what it's like. The seller says, 'Here, try carrying this yoke. You want a photo, don't you? Let me take a photo of you. Now you really want a cool drink, don't you?' What can you say? And he was very pleasant and the drink was refreshing. If not a trifle expensive.

But best of all is the scent of coconut. And even though we don't live on a tropical island it's still possible to be out walking on a warm sunny day and suddenly get a whiff of coconut. Follow it to its source and you'll find our very traditional wild shrub, gorse, its yellow flowers perfumed with the scent of coconut. Or I suppose more accurately the smell of gorse which happens to be the same as that of coconut.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Husband's just like the CIA

I couldn't find my phone. I'd looked in all the obvious places - and less obvious - with no success. 'Surely I can't have lost my phone in the very week that I've finally learned my number?'

Fortunately Husband has the technology. A bit like the CIA or FBI he can trace me via my phone. Or that's the theory. As I rarely carry it it's not as effective a trace as one in my shoe.

We'd already tried phoning it to determine its location. 'But this will make it ring even if it's on silent,' he assured me. And it did.

'So it was on silent? That explains why I never hear it ringing,' I said. I paused and then added, 'But I don't know how to put it on silent.'

Turned out my phone was on the cookery book shelf in the kitchen. Of course.

Things I think about at 5 am

Why is the plural of dice die?

Oh. Consulting Mr Chambers I find it's not. If anything it's the other way around historically speaking. These days both die and dice can refer to a single numbered cube. Hmmm. 

Dice sounds more plural it's true. But at 5 am logic is sadly missing from my thought process. Although I was logical enough to guess that its origin is Latin. But Mr Chambers doesn't mention that so perhaps it's not.

Of course if you're referring to dice as a game then it's singular.

Got that? Clear as mud I can hear you saying.

Prejudiced? Moi?

In bible study in Zac's on Tuesday I read the piece of fake news a few posts back. I introduced it saying that the authorities had done a good job of turning the crowds against Jesus; imagine what even greater success they could have had if they'd had the 'benefit' of social media and newspapers like the Daily Mail (right-wing rag).

One of our regulars said, 'The Daily Mail is an excellent newspaper. It always prints the truth.'
I started to laugh. And then realised he was deadly serious. 

On reflection it may not have been a good idea to read the fake news - I dithered about it for some time beforehand - as it may have confused some of the listeners and the ones I would really like to consider the implications, such as DM reader, aren't going to because their prejudices are just as well set as mine.

Ah, well, we've got all sorts in Zac's. All we can do is focus on the message of love of Jesus and hope it gets in. 

P.S. I thought about posting a photo of a DM cover but the headlines are so hideous I didn't want to give them any extra publicity.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Three Things About Elsie

three things about elsie
"(Losing your mind is ...) such a silly turn of phrase. It implies it's somehow your fault. It suggests you were being careless, or became distracted along the way and mislaid it somewhere, like a set of house keys, or a Jack Russell terrier. Or a husband, perhaps. Although I suppose losing your mind can prove quite helpful sometimes, because it does hint there is a possibility, however slim, that you may find it again."
From Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Wonderful novel about dementia, I suppose, but so much more than that with a heroine whose side you are on all the way. Unexpected endings - in the plural because there's more than one I feel. ****

Little things

GrandSon4 demonstrating that it's never too early to learn that plastic waste is bad. 

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GrandDaughter1 rescues worms in danger of being trodden on and puts them somewhere safer.

Very pleased that learning to care is part of my grandchildren's education.

The Big Man and the Little Train

What do you do with children on a grey day? 

Take the bus to Mumbles, eat pizza in the castle field, find a knife (ancient dagger?) at the back of the castle, have ice cream in Joe's, take the train back to Blackpill waving like crazy things at passers-by, play in the park, collect plastic and shells from the beach, watch Boss Baby on television. 

Granddad takes them home while Granny gets ready for weigh-in and exercise class though it's the last thing in the world she feels like doing. Gets home to pizza cooked by Granddad and stays awake until it's time for bed.

What do you do with children on a sunny day?

Take them to see Man Engine awakening.

The largest mechanical puppet ever made in Britain. Made in Cornwall and touring historic industrial sites. The Vivian family owned smelting works in Swansea valley and copper was brought across the sea from Cornwall. South Wales had the coal and the industrialists  realised it was more economical to bring copper here than take coal there.

The other requirement for smelting copper was ammonia. A woman would walk the streets of Swansea collecting urine to sell to the smelting works. I didn't know that!

Monday, April 09, 2018

Why won't a safety pin do?

I have been wearing shorts held together by a safety pin for years but apparently that's not good enough for Husband. So I, the woman who hates sewing, sewed his button on. Round of applause please.
Yes, I know it's white cotton but that's the only cotton I have. He's lucky I had a needle as I gave everything away in one of my recent splurges of the 'Am I likely to use this?' kind.

I know there will be voices saying, 'Tell him to do it himself,' but that would put us on the edge of anarchy where there are no rules about who does what and I rather like the status quo, sewing being the obvious exception. 

In other news, we have a wonderful display of hellebores this year in spite of the lacking of pruning, judicious or otherwise. I never entertained the idea of having them in the garden until I saw them on the blog of a keen gardening friend, Rose. Isn't it wonderful how we can think of people we've never met as friends thanks to blogs? And we don't necessarily have the same interests of views.

And finally dinner last night, slow roast belly of pork.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Things I think about in the shower

You know that snakes slough off their old skins? How do you pronunce slough?

Is it slou like the town or thou? Or sluff like rough?

But then when I began to cogitate I realised there were even more possibilities.
Is it slow like though? Or slew like through?

It's not wonder I get out of the shower and can't remember if I've washed.

How I learned to love my phone

For Christmas 2005 Husband gave me a Beetle. Betty Beetle. She was very beautiful and it was love at first sight.
Betty the white Beetle
Amazingly this seems to be the only photo I have of her. Note the number plate. It wasn't long before I began to think she was having a laf on me.

One month later on February 1st, 2006, she broke down on me. That was the first of many break-downs. I was soon on first name terms with the rescue men. Looking back over my blog I am amazed to read how often she did challenge my patience. (Search for Betty and all the relevant posts come up.) But I still loved her.

Anyway this is a long by-the-way introduction to my story about how I learned to love my phone.

One Christmas some time after the Betty present Husband bought me a mobile phone. 
'Oh,' I said, 'thank you but I don't really want a phone.'
'No, but you need it if you're going to keep breaking down.'

So that was about twelve years ago. I still rarely remember to take my phone with me when I go out - I would if I knew where it was - no, I wouldn't actually. I work on the principle that no-one phones me at home so why would they phone me when I'm out? Husband works on the principle that I could fall over a cliff when walking George and what would I do then? (Send George for help Lassie-style is my answer.) And until this week I didn't know my number.

That usually doesn't matter as I give people our landline but the day before yesterday I thought: come on, you're a grown-up, you can learn this. I mentioned it on Facebook and one friend, Debs, suggested putting it to music, which I did. And now I know it. At least I've retained it for two days.

The problem, that I share with Debs - she won't mind me saying this - is that I can't sing. My vocal ability is somewhere below that of a bull in a bad temper. So I pity the person who asks for my number.

P.S. The post title is slightly misleading: I tolerate my phone. When I remember to charge it. Or take it with me.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Leaky brain problems

I go through more tissues than a woman with a cold. And I don't have a cold. Or an allergy. At least not an obvious one.

I can't go anywhere without ensuring I have a tissue up or in every sleeve and pocket. It's ridiculous: I am destroying a rain forest by myself.

In one episode of Grey's Anatomy a patient who complained of a runny nose was diagnosed with a leaky brain. I'm just putting it out there so when I die mysteriously and the forensic pathologist comes out of the autopsy looking puzzled and saying, 'Her brain was leaking,' I'll be able to say, 'I told you so.' From the grave you'll hear me.

P.S. Looking for an image to accompany this post I came across a page of vintage advertisements that would definitely be non-pc today. Some I suspect had been doctored via Photoshop but some fairly horrific ones seemed genuine.

How do you solve a problem like Alexa?

Alexa is driving me crazy: she will not stop when I tell her to.

I have tried asking politely, I've tried shouting, I've tried variations on 'Stop', I've even tried telling her to shut her face. She ignores it all.

At least it's not just me. She ignores Younger Son and Husband too. Today Husband had to unplug her at the socket to make her stop. At one point she even had the nerve to suggest we contact the Frequently Asked Questions Forum but when Husband asked her to connect us, she refused.

To buy or not to buy

Bought five books for £2 in Mumbles Methodist Church book sale today.
As a reader that pleases me - and I have my holiday reading planned now  - but as a writer I wonder if I should buy secondhand books.

It's a dilemma.

Building bonds

Lovely afternoon with GrandDaughter1. Went to Next (including Paperchase and Costa) where I treated her to two dresses, a gratitude diary, and hot chocolate and millionaire's shortbread. 

We discussed - or rather she told me all about - the plot of the new Peter Rabbit film, our worst dreams, and our favourite numbers and letters amongst other things. She said at the end of Peter Rabbit she couldn't decide if her tears were of happiness or sadness. 

I told her that I'd been really cross with Granddad when I woke up this morning because he booked us into an apartment in Holland and when we got there the kitchen was full of porridgey dishes, there were some strange mice and a cat covered in fleas. She said that quite often things that we think about during the day come up in our dreams but she took my word for it that, as far as I could remember, I hadn't been thinking about flea-ridden cats or porridge the day before.

Incidentally things went from bad to worse as far as Husband was concerned this morning. Not content with upsetting me in my dream he continued as follows.

I said, 'I thought we could go out to eat tonight.'
He said, 'Your diet's gone to pot recently. Where do you want to go?'
I stared at him. 'I don't want to go any more.'

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Spinning a cheering crowd into a jeering mob

With all the controversy over possible interference from Russia in western elections and general news reporting the power of the media has never come under so much scrutiny. It's scary. I've written before about friends who will repost what turns out to be fake news without first checking it and I'm sad to say that I believe very little I hear these days. A big change from the old gullible me. (Who's still there in many cases although I think that's possibly a good thing.)

So with Easter just gone I got to thinking about that story and it occurred to me that the bad guys must have had a pretty good spin doctor on their side not to mention an effective media presence in order to turn the cheering crowds into a jeering mob. So, in preparing to lead next week's bible study in Zac's, I wrote this.

Jesus: son of God or charlatan?
In Jerusalem for the Passover feast this year you may encounter a man his followers are claiming to be the next messiah, son of God, saviour. Before you meet him you need to know some things that he wouldn’t want you to know. But we believe it’s important you know all the facts before making your decision.

Did you know that two years ago he was solely responsible for the destruction of a herd of 2,000 pigs? The owner of the herd said, ‘My business was completely destroyed. I’d spent a lifetime and a small fortune building up that herd and the loss left me bankrupt.’
An honest hard-working business man and his family ended up on the streets because of this man some people claim to be son of God. 
Would God condone such action? I don’t think so.

And what about his so-called friends, the people he mixes with?

Did you know that he frequently eats with tax-collectors? Yes, the same ones who work hand-in-glove with the Romans to rob you and me of our hard-earned cash.  And this coincidentally is the man who encourages ordinary working-class people to make sure they pay their taxes. For whose benefit we have to ask.

And he dines with the rich. We’ve been shown exclusive photos of him with a prostitute wrapped all over him, massaging him with oil. And when one of our own spiritual leaders challenged him about it he shrugged him off.
In fact when one of his former friends objected to wasteful behaviour Jesus again shrugged it off saying, ‘The poor will always be there.’ Yes, this is what the man who claims to care about the poor really thinks.

And he has no scruples about breaking the ten commandments. The very laws his ‘father’ gave us he breaks as if they’re nothing, of no importance. Does that sound like the sort of thing a holy man would do?

And he has no scruples either about being kept by women. He doesn’t go out to work to earn a living. Instead he treats the homes of his followers as his own and expects to be fed everywhere he goes – along with a dozen or more of his hangers-on.

Now you might have heard rumours about him raising a man from the dead but has any evidence been shown? Did a doctor provide a death certificate to prove the man in the tomb was really dead? If he has we haven’t been shown it. Magicians pull stunts like that every day. When you’ve got a gullible audience it’s easy to fool people.

But the fact that you’re reading this proves you’re not amongst those fools easily taken in. You know your own mind. You can make your own decision.

So remember if you come across him this weekend don’t believe everything his followers will try and tell you.

Fifteen minutes of rain

'Is it going to rain?' I asked Husband before we went for a walk. He is the meteorologist in our house. At least he pays attention to the weather forecast.
'According to the BBC there is a 25% chance of rain.'
I glanced out of the window. 'Oh, that's fine. I don't need a coat.'

'Of course,' Husband said when we had walked a little way, 'that means that it could rain for 15 minutes in the course of an hour. Or an hour in 4 hours.'

Fortunately when it started to rain we were on a wooded path so I could run from tree to tree. Unfortunately the trees don't yet have any leaves.

Hey, it didn't rain for long. Not even fifteen minutes.