Sunday, April 30, 2006

Talk about idyllic

The level crossing at Thatcham was closed this afternoon (Why, on a bank holiday weekend on Saturday I can't imagine) so I had to detour widely on my way home. Passed a local farm park and got a treat. Full evening sunlight and all.
It would seem that the latest lounging gear for deer includes a rook and a pigeon. Or maybe it's massage and manicure day.

Friday, April 28, 2006

A bit of armchair philosophy on vengeance, love and truth.

Brung up, as I was, a good (though often puzzled and resentful) Roman Catholic, and having since eschewed religion as being rather silly really (though a great comfort to many believers), there are one or two things I was taught which still seem to make sense in the real world.

1. Vengeance is mine said the lord. To start with, this has a splendid ring about it and is therefore easy to remember. And though I don’t believe in the lord, I’m quite certain vengeance isn’t mine. In fact I don’t hold with it at all. I think vengeance leads to feuds and star-crossed lovers and broken friendships and destroyed families. Sad confused children. Bitter, lonely, old people. And of course war. So it’s a bad thing. An eye for an eye sounds nice and simple but seems to lead inevitably to the loss of more eyes than the human race can stand to lose, and to very little gain.

2. Love thy neighbour as thyself. Since myself is a creature I sometimes quite like and sometime loathe and despise this is easy.
Obviously this means something along the lines of providing tea, lifts and a friendly ear as required as well as Aid, helicopters and refuge. But also it seems to me to mean exercise tolerance, root out bigotry and stamp on prejudice….no no no, not theirs - mine, yours, ours. Something about digging out the mote in your own eye first.
3. Truth. (I can’t remember any suitably ringing biblical quotes on this one but it’s a good, strong, word anyway)
I don’t say we should always tell it but I think we should always know if we are telling it or whether we are in fact embroidering a bit. Whether we missed a bit out. Whether we coloured it to show a slightly different picture than we really saw. Should try and know what we are trying to do with it.
We should be really careful of saying this is how it really was because frankly, people aren’t very good at remembering how it really was. They aren’t good at counting the number of people they saw or recognising the faces they saw. They get colours wrong and if they see two things moving in opposite directions they don’t always know which one was going faster so they choose on the basis of what they think will fit and any optical illusions that happen to have been in the way at the time.
We are not accurate.
Which is fine as long as we don’t say he hit her I saw it all!!!! When in fact she hit him but we didn’t think that could be right. Or, the big one threw the little one down and beat him up, when in fact the little one nutted the big one in the balls and then the big one fell over on top of the little one, squashing him flat. Or (in my case), Mummy, Daddy, it was an enormous spider with a hundred legs (scream) when in fact it was a tiny mouse with four legs (and a tail which I missed completely).

Truth is an absolute requirement for digging motes out of prejudiced eyes and once motes have been dug out, vengeance may look less appealing. Of course it all could work in reverse if you dig randomly at motes without being truthful. Or, if the truth is so awful that it leads to instant undying prejudice and a burning desire for vengeance.

I can’t for the life of me remember why I started on this one but I’ve enjoyed it. It has some of the best qualities of a really satisfying horoscope, being quite non-specific but applicable to all kinds of situations and at the same time having bits which people can pick out and say Oh yes or Oh no and provide interesting specific reasons why they think that.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Another kind of owl. I wish I could have an embroidered silk shirt made of this one.
I once read an article in which a respected photographer pointed out that to ignore the trappings of civilisation in photos of the countryside is to try and impose a sentimental view of unspoilt nature on the true image. Photographer (as artist) might do better to make the photo describe and express reality than to try and brush reality under the darkroom carpet.
This can be difficult..Our wonderful views are all neatly bisected by wires and cables which are not elegantly disposed to enhance the picture. But for once I thought these wires did their cat's cradle thing rather well and the lamp posts even arranged themselves nicely for me.
Last week's blossom

Something must be wrong!

I just posted five comments in a row, word ver accepted first time.
*looking round nervously*

I've just wasted ages

writing a long, involved and meandering post which travelled bewilderingly from blogs to prejudice via religion and ended up at the compost heap.
I'll maybe try and reform it tomorrow.

Monday, April 24, 2006


This is not a cry of despair nor is it directed at any of you. It's on a piece of paper which I keep near the computer so I can put it on top of the mouse when my PDA is connected. This is to discourage Barney from checking his email while said PDA is connected as it doesn't like him logging off. Or maybe it doesn't like him switching users. Anyway I've lost the piece of paper. Considering the number of pieces of paper I regularly throw away (in the recycling box) densely covered with scribbles and upside down notes and stuff it's odd that I should feel so uncomfortable about rewriting this one.
I'm posting while cooking. Expect the odd splash of fat or wine. Possibly a smattering of violently mashed potato and you might hear the odd glug in the background. Cook's priviledge type glug.
So. Owls. There were 8 on show in the Shopping Centre in Lancaster. All having been injured in some way in a previous life. I really got the impression that they were quite undisturbed by being there. There was a good deal of head reversing so that unblinking alien stares could be directed with marvellous frigidness at a new object. Also one kestrel. A much more strokable looking bird. Though they all seemed to like being stroked and did a good deal of preening and fluffing.

Did I mention aliens?

The people were quite fun too.

And this has to be a little owl. He was certainly little but he had a big pair of eyes to make up for it.

Apparently someone shot the kestrel through the eye with an arrow. Which is why he has this endearingly lopsided face.
I do find it hard to forgive whatever kind of mindless idiot did that to him.


The freezer that is.
We defrosted it today and I just put all the strange little packages and about 20 different tubs of stock and soup back in. during the day we had to climb over strange blanket-covered mounds which hid washing baskets full of newspaper-wrapped, frozen stuff.
It occurs to me, thinking about photos and stock tubs and handbags, that I tend to do things in large numbers. Saucepans and lovingly saved plastic containers too, now I think some more. And it's best not to mention the silk shirts. Or scarves. Or chenille tops. Earrings.
Or the fact that I like to have at least one handcream tube in almost every room in case I can't access another room for some reason. And that makes me wonder if I might start collecting chamber pots for when I get very old. Though up to now 2 loos has been sufficient.
Books. Must be upward of 1,000 stuffed into shelves and bookcases around the house. Oh I forgot the music room. Add another 2 or 3 hundred. Not to mention the select few in front of me now.
Music. well when I was borrowing Fran's car and it was broken into I claimed back 30 odd CDs on the insurance and that was a very select few. (nearly all classical and not in their cases so I can't imagine what the thieves thought they were going to do with them).
And, of course, 7 fiddles, 2 violas and a piano. But I do play all the fiddles except the one that Youngest has in case she wants to play again. And one of them's been in dock for nearly a year waiting for the advent of a new and wonderful tool which will cut the cost and the repair time by half as well as doing a better job. I shall be chasing Boss for that with a vengeance as soon as I'm not working for him any more! (Oh and I don't actually play the two tiny ones that Adam and fran played when they were tiny)
People like me should possibly not live in towns with 5 charity shops.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

White, and red and black

The Ashton Memorial sits on top of the Williamson park and overlooks Lancaster and some 40 miles of surrounding countryside. You can see it from the fells near Clitheroe and since you can see Morecambe bay and the mountains in Cumbria from it, I guess you can see it from them. round the back is a victorian glass house full of butterflies.

And fish

I've spent the day being grouchy and banging doors and making mental notes on what I'm going to say to Boss on Monday. Also going to my Saturday afternoon music group and being unusually asertive about the bits us first fiddles were playing execrably badly. But I was arriving at the beginning of the right bars more often than the other two. Although I think they played more notes right than I did.
I discovered a pleasing quote by Sir Thomas Beecham last night. "the English may not like music but they absolutely love the noise it makes".
Did the washing and thought grumpy thoughts about having plenty of time to sort out the house when I leave work. And slightly (well very) anxious thoughts about would I like to put a sign up in the village shop saying 'book-keeping, chaotic accounts a speciality'! even more anxious thoughts about going to the recruitment agency next door to work and saying 'yes I'm good with sage and I keep books quite well. Oh and I can play around with pictures a bit. And I used to be quite good with Excel. No I haven't any qualifications, well my last boss sacked me know, him next door'
Funny thing is, boss's accounts have sometimes been a bit of a burden. And I don't feel even slightly relieved of it.
Oh and I told Barney my news and he said Oh dear. Well you'd better start looking for another job then. Er, commiserations I suppose. Now that did make me angry! But then he cooked a very nice dinner tonight so I'd better forgive him I suppose.
Then I read a whole book (The Iron Tree by Cecilia Dart Thornton, very faery and folky and having star crossed lovers dying of a curse in spite of being jolly decent and revoltingly goodlooking chaps. Good bit of slush.)

The Williamson Park in Lancaster is really very beautiful.

Butterflies and Owls tomorrow and now I'm going to bed. I may spend tomorrow tidying EVERYTHING and playing my fiddle.
And composing something for Boss to think about.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Light Music and Heavy Stuff

Actually just one or five of the band. I love the reflections in the brass/silver.

Did he play a wrong note? Or is she trying to work out what she should be doing by watching him?

And I'd love to know what these two are saying to each other.

The thing about these chaps is they are most definitely not poncey middle class revivalists. Solid, chunky, working class blokes have been doing this every Easter since some time around the 18th/19th century when (possibly) some Moorish miners (?) left the dying Cornish mining industry and joined the burgeoning Lancashire mining industry. Presumably the Moors arrived in Cornwall as slaves.

Well that's enough of slightly ancient British traditions. I've had a shock today and I'm still not sure whether it's serious or not. (well actually I think it is but we'll see how well I bounce in the next week or so).
I've spent the last two years at work, wrestling my boss's accounts into a form which will fit the mighty Sage accounting programme. This hasn't been easy because Sage isn't really a walk in and try a few buttons sort of programme. And there were things in my boss's accounts and paperwork which aren't dreamt of in Sage's philosophy.
Whatever. We couldn't make sense of the end of year figures (and I'm pretty sure this is because of an unsorted confusion from last year) and boss has finally decided he needs someone who can really understand sage and can also hand him something he understands at the end of each month. Not me!
Frankly, I'm gutted. I enjoyed the job because I'm good at the book-keeping part and the irony is that I really have got that part of it turning over quite neatly. It's just what happens to my nice tidy figures inside the programme that defeats me. And I'm going to make a sneaky prediction here, that whoever takes over will have a hell of a time getting used to boss's paperwork and will have an even worse time sorting out whatever is going on inside sage, between the chart of accounts and the end of month/year reports.
I can't blame him. And soddit, buggrit and dammit all to hell, I can't really be pissed off with him either because I can see his problem perfectly. And I'm fond of him, we've been friends for a long time. And it's as much my fault as his, that we didn't discuss this earlier.

So I'm not feeing like posting serene reflections and pastel posies. No problem. I can make pictures to share my filthy mood with you.

Well, I feel slightly better for that!

The Britannia Coconut dancers

In all their glory.

Some more imtimate shots

Don't you just love them?

And tomorrow I shall give you *The Band*

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Even not very well laid plans sometimes go astray.

I had some for this evening. Along the lines of defrosting the freezer (a bit desperate that, the ice is bulging), downloading a few hundred photos from the DVD (Peter brought his portable DVD reader to dinner) and later having a quick flip through them before settling down to a peaceful hour catching up on blogs.
Well it seems that somehow, Adam's Apple (mini mac) had written everything to the DVD twice, once as small jpegs and once again as large ones. Also it seems to have turned all the little movies into little jpegs. I just hope he's still got all the butterfly movies on his mini mac....if at all!
So I had to go through upward of a thousand photos, sorting out the little ones from the big ones and trying to see if they were all duplicates. My brain has RSI. Thank heavens for Picasa's cataloguing system.

I'm afraid this means you don't get to see strange things on motorways or blurred trees and canals. Or butterflies and owls. Or even funny men with black faces and skirts.
For all of which you were waiting with bated breath I'm sure.
Ah well. there's Adam and Jude in the bird sanctuary.

and I'm going to go and see if the freezer has actually started dribbling yet.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Haven't we all been busy!

I just thought I'd have a quick look at all you other people's blogs! Well after a couple of hours of non-stop hysteria I'm exhausted so I've marked them all as read and said nothing. Tomorrow I'll revisit. Going away for a few days certainly makes for a good read on returning though :)


Acres of reed bed in an estuary with stunted willows and constant bird calls. Grey windswept skies and rippling reflections everywhere.

Oh, and nice food in the cafe too.