Mutterings, musings and general brain flatulence.
|Here be mushrooms|
PROMPT: What TV show character would it be the most fun to change places with for a week? Why?
Fun? Oh dear, most of the TV I watch is either murder-of-the-week stuff like Death in Paradise, Hawaii 5-0, Castle or Majorca Files; or else it's panel show comedy like Mock the Week, 8 Out of 10 Cats, or 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (totally prefer 8/10 Cats Countdown to actual 8/10 Cats).
So if it's to be a TV show character, I guess we're looking at one of the generic death-by-numbers-in-a-really-nice-location programmes.... I'm torn between my intense desire for some sun (DiP, H5-0, or MF) and my longing to spend a week running riot around New York with Rick Castle. I'm actually going to go with sunshine over glorious mayhem that is Nathan Fillion. I may yet change my mind.
I think I'm going to pick Florence Cassell; yes she's got a bit of a tragic backstory, but she's very nearly over Patrick. And yes, having your extremely nervy boss falling in love with you is going to be awkward, but (so far) she's unaware of Neville's feelings. And since she's a detective sergeant in a police force of four, yes the workload with each murder is going to be heavy, but she can - and does - delegate most of the boring leg work, and still seems to be able to get off in time for drinks each night. It also appears that, apart from it's scheduled weekly murder, Saint Marie has a pretty low crime rate; so once the murder is wrapped up (and it always is), it's chill at the beach time. I think I can deal with that.
PROMPT: What was cool when you were young but isn’t cool now? Is there anything that has become cool in recent years that wasn’t cool in your youth?
Having never been one of the Cool Kids, I really can't think! I guess it was all really silly little fashion things at school; like wearing your rucksack on only one shoulder (wearing it on both was utterly uncool), but as I spend a lot of my free time hiking and carrying several kilos of kit/water, to hell with that idea! Another thing that was totally deplored at school was 'flying' - having one or both shirt collars on the outside of your jumper/sweater, they should be tucked in! although as an adult I really don't see how that makes you cooler or not.
Since the start of lock-down 1 (i.e. April 2020 UK), Best Beloved has sported a trim little beard - to start with because he was working from home and couldn't be bothered to shave, and then later because people kept telling him how much better he looks.
I really can't think of that many guys who had beards fifteen-twenty years ago, but now it seems to be much more evenly split between the hairy and the cleanshaven (look, BB genuinely does look better with a beard. That doesn't mean I have to like it.), so I guess that's something that's become cooler. Brother-in-law sports a whole range of facial appearances from Wild Man of Woods and Home of the Lost Pygmy Tribes through to Perfectly Groomed Hipster or Utter Babyface Mr Cleanshaven.
PROMPT: Think back to a time when you felt completely calm. What made you feel that way?
Minor rant alert: So somebody (sorry, I can't remember who) mentioned in March that it would be nice to have more than one prompt each day. I'm not convinced that's necessary every day, but it would certainly be nice to have maybe a spares pot for prompts that you can dig into if one on a particular day doesn't grab you.
Probably the biggest reason I read is to chill out - I love my thrillers, crime novels, and exciting stuff. But my bread-and-butter I-wanna-relax-and-not-think habit of choice is a oft-read book and a bath.
I've got a bookshelf in my head of 'bath books.' Yes, I may well take whatever I'm currently reading with me, but more often I'm either between books when I have a Bath (capital letter needed) or I'm a train-wreck of emotions and/or exhaustion and just want to zone out. So, my bath books.
Having a Bath, as opposed to a bath, is a serious and time consuming business. There's Running The Water (and in previous houses, ensuring The Water Is Hot Enough) and the delicate balance of How Much Bubble Bath - made more complicated with To Add Or Not To Add Bath Salts. Then there is Choosing The Music (thank you Spotify playlists), Lighting The Candles (and the back-lit mirror for actual books rather than Kindle), alongside Selecting The Snacks (Jellybeans and Maltesers being favourites) and The Drink(s) (coffee, wine, gin, port, or squash depending on time of day and pre-bath level of hydration).
And then there's What Book To Read. The mainstays are Georgette Heyer's Regency romances (I don't as a rule read romance, but I make an exception for her fairy-cake novels*), Dick Francis' horse-racing thrillers (the bad guy always gets his comeuppance and the good guy nearly always gets the girl), and Terry Pratchett's Discworld series (I'll confess, I'm just a little bit in love with Sam Vimes).
Since that covers best part of 100 novels, you'd think either I spend my entire life submerged in blistering hot water or I have no life**, but the fact is each of those books is so ridiculously easy to read, I've probably read them all several times over. And I never read just one; if I start on a Heyer, Francis, or Discworld I tend to binge on five or six before I go back to whatever I was reading before I started.
Bath books are like a rabbit-hole made so much more precariously easy to fall down by their familiarity. The entire world fades away and only the cosy, cotton wool world of the bath book remains.
*fairy-cake novel; one that is light, fluffy, and - whilst probably not very good for you - satisfies cravings.
**yeah, well, that bit's probably not so far from the truth.
|PROMPT: Write about language - What languages do you wish you could speak? What’s the most pleasant sounding accent? What’s the funniest word in the English language (or your native language)?
I'll be honest. I only speak English. I learnt French at school, but it stuck like lathered soap. I've been trying to learn Spanish on Duolingo for a couple of years, and I'm pleased at how my reading/writing is getting along, but woe-bide any Spanish-speaker who thinks they can hold a conversation with me! I'm utterly tone-deaf and I'm sure that counts against me in language learning.
I did try to learn a little Mandarin at uni since several of my friends were from Beijing, but (see above) Mandarin is a tonal language and my (albeit limited) ability to learn reading and writing was somewhat hampered by the fact Chinese characters baffle the hell out of me. Yeah, so that didn't work. I said xie xie (thank you) to someone in a Beijing supermarket once and they immediately launched into a full conversation that had my Chinese friend creased with laughter as she tried to explain I didn't speak Mandarin, and that Hello, Thank You, and Yes/No were pretty much my limit.
Several of my friends are polyglots and I am extremely jealous, and those of my friends who are raising bilingual children just make me want to scream with envy. My step-mother and -brother are Polish (in fact Kasia speaks English as her third or fourth language) and it's infuriating (as in, enviable) the way they jump in and out of English/Polish, cracking jokes in both languages and explaining in rapid-fire Polish to the other if one doesn't understand something in English.
Many schools in the UK teach only French and/or German, and that - unless you so aptitude - pretty badly. Spanish was offered at mine, only in year 10 (approx 14-15yrs) and above. Latin used to be widely taught (and yes, I know most people who learnt it hated it) and that is an amazing basis for the Romanic Languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian), as well as being very helpful for the sciences. I'd probably be lynched for saying this, but I do wish Latin was widely taught again.
PROMPT - Write about your favorite outdoor activities to do in the summer. Are there any activities you haven’t done that you want to try?
Way back last summer I signed up for a KickStarter called Origami Paddler; a folder-up hybrid kayak and stand-up paddle board. They are in production right now and I'm just waiting for shipping. And it's getting harder and harder to wait. I live along the coast and in a rural area, so walks/hikes are a big favourite.
Two years ago I had an ankle operation that's only just starting to fully heal. Best Beloved and I have managed a couple of 8 mile walks over the last few months, but I really, really want to get out at least one double-figure hike in the next month or two, just to prove to myself that my ankle can take it.
So far it's been way to cold to go sea swimming (I don't like wet-suits unless I'm diving), but hopefully that'll only be another month or two.The outdoor activity I'd really like to try is paragliding - but I can't see that happening any time soon.
I'd also like to go rock-climbing, but because my ankle is still quite weak and can't handle twisting movements, I've lost my nerve to have a go.
I'm always looking for new ideas; authors to try, places to go, and activities to try, so if anyone's got any suggestions, please lemme know!
|PROMPT: In your entry today, write about dreams. Do you dream often, or do you rarely remember your dreams? What is the strangest or most memorable dream you have ever had?
I've found that if you keep a dream diary you are far more likely to remember your dreams on a more regular basis and remember them in more detail. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle: you remember your dream, so you write it down; you (appear) to dream because you write it down.
Myself and two friends kept dream journals when I was at university; we found that by keeping dream journals we all learnt to remember our dreams, and because we were all very good friends and found each others dreams utterly hilarious we ended up keeping a group journal. Within a few weeks all three of us had gone from 'I only dream occasionally' and 'I don't really remember my dreams' to vividly recalling dreams three or four nights a week.
It was diary-keeping with these two friends that I found out that a lot (most?) of people dream from their own point of view; i.e. I am me in my dream and you are you in your dream.I don't often do that. I frequently dream either from third person point of view (as though I'm watching television) or, if I'm dreaming in the first person, as someone. And that someone can just as easily be an animate object or animal as it could be human.
But probably* the weirdest dream I've ever had requires some context. It made it into the group dream-diary, so I would have been 20ish.
So; a 20ish, white British girl, overweight, introverted, studying a STEM subject somewhere around 2010. My dream?
I was Hulk Hogan. Yes, I was Hulk Hogan; wild flowing locks, 'tash and all**. On the run from the CIA, deep in the Vietcong jungle. [No, I didn't seek therapy after this, but perhaps I should have done.] I distinctly remember bullets whizzing past me and getting slapped in the face with lianas and having to monkey-bar across a river - yes, an actual monkey-bar in the middle of the jungle and I could cross those bars faster than the trained CIA operatives behind me could shoot their damn AK-47s or whatever they were.
And I don't think we were even watching anything too cranky on TV that night....
*and yes, only probably.
**I'm serious, this genuinely only ranks as probably my weirdest ever dream.
PROMPT: Write about a community service or volunteer experience you’ve had in your life that made an impact on you.
In Year 10 (approx 15yrs old), UK kids often do a work-experience placement for a couple of weeks. I wanted to something in the medicine line, but didn't really know what. Ended up working in a pharmacy for my two weeks, and at the end of it I was offered a Saturday job to help cover one of the dispensers who was about to go on maternity leave.
I ended up working not just Saturdays, but school holidays, and - once I was in 6th Form and had a weird timetable on a Friday - some lunchtimes too. My only two subjects on the Friday were biology (first period) and chemistry (last period); home was a three mile walk away (and not on a bus route) and all my friends had other lessons. So what's a girl to do? And it felt great to get paid
Incidentally, my chemistry teacher took to collecting his prescription on Friday lunchtimes to "check you're gonna be there for my lesson later"....
That was 21 years ago. I'm now a pharmacist, rolling my eyes at teenage life choices
|PROMPT:If your job gave you a surprise seven day paid break to rest and recuperate, what would you do with those seven days?
Well, that's quite the sore point today - I had an unexpected wobble with my mental health yesterday, and have taken today and tomorrow off in order regain myself. I'm frankly really irritated with myself, because I can, normally, keep my depression under control, and if I do need time to myself, I can generall manage with just my regular days off.
So today, I've done sweet F.A. I stayed in bed until far later than I care to admit, took Best Beloved some lunch, and came home for a bath. Read.
That's pretty much my day. I'm hoping tomorrow will be substantially more productive. But I'm already feeling more myself and know that I have actually made the right decision.
On a totally aside note, did anyone get like a ton of merit badges this morning? I opened my email and found it flooded with MB from the staff; all with utterly bizarre dates and reasons. I got my 1st, 3rd, and 5th WdC anniversary badges; my Welcome to WdC badge; 1st, 100th, and 500th forum post badges....
Have The StoryMaster and The StoryMistress instigated a whole load of new merit badges and back-issued them to everyone, or have I entered The Matrix?
Whatever the reason, thank you SM and SM.
PROMPT: Write about a movie franchise or book series that you love.
Wow. Oh wow. Where. To. Even. Start.
So Day 1 "30 Day Blogging Challenge; Day 1" I got to sing the praises of one Brandon Sanderson. He has written several series that I enjoy, including The Stormlight Archive, that I mentioned in my entry.
So let's pick someone else today. There are so many novel and movie series that I love, that I could easily spend the next hour or so just spewing out lists of favourites. And does that include books (and movies for that matter) that exist in the same 'verse, but aren't necessarily the same series/franchise? I'm re-reading some of my old Georgette Heyer novels; she wrote something like 25 novels set in the Regency era (late 1700s - mid 1800s). Only three of them (to the best of my knowledge) have any real interlinking (Regency Buck, These Old Shades, and Devil's Cub), but the majority of them are set in the same twenty-thirty year span, in the same town or city (almost exclusively London, Bath, or London and Bath), and in the same levels of society (think Jane Austen, but much easier to digest).
Can they be counted as a series? In my head, absolutely they are. And I find it almost impossible to read just one of her books. They are ridiculously light and easy to read, so whenever I pick up one I inevitably read a whole batch of them back-to-back.
But what makes a series, a series?
We could be strict and stay a series in a continuation of a story-line (A happens to in Book 1, B happens in Book 2, C happens in Book 3, etc), or perhaps we are looking for 'the further adventures of' the same characters (how many times has James Bond got the girl, defeated the baddie, and blown up the entire film set?). Harry Potter is obviously a series; it follows the same core characters through a steady timeline (okay, apart from the time turner business) and each book progresses on from the last.
So what about Black Mirror on Netflix? Each episode is a stand alone (and didn't that just mess me up until I realised it, about three episodes in?!) - distinct and separate from the previous, with a different cast, world history, screen writer, plot line, filming style... you name it. It's a TV version of a short story anthology, it's kinda got a running thread (advanced tech that never ends well), but otherwise each episode is a blank slate.
I really like the idea of telling the same story from more than one point of view - the first time I came across this as an entire novel length view point change was Anne Rice's Interview With The Vampire which is told almost exclusively from Louis' point of view. Read the next book in the series, The Vampire Lestat, and half the book is Interview all over again, albeit from a totally different angle.
Peter V. Brett takes this idea in his Demon Cycle first two novels; The Painted Man (US title The Warded Man) follows Arlen Bales from childhood to his thirties. The Desert Spear follows Ahmann Jardir, again from childhood to his thirties. As young men, Arlen and Jardir meet and become friends (spoiler, that doesn't last), and The Desert Spear fills in a lot of gaps from The Painted Man, but the two books run on parallel timelines; you almost want to read a few chapters from each back and forth. The rest of the books take the more standard each-book-follows-the-next timeline, which is almost disappointing after watching the clever weaving of the first two.
So okay, I've kind of taken today's prompt and run with it a little - be thankful that I'm feeling rough and it's dinner time, this is the sort of prompt I could write an entire bloody essay on. But Best Beloved's home and I'm hungry.
PROMPT: What was the best thing that happened in your life over the weekend? Looking at the week ahead, what are your goals and how will you motivate yourself to achieve them?
Yesterday I met up with my cousin for the first time since Christmas (thanks Covid!). We live about two hours apart, and Bodmin moor is pretty much halfway; so we met up at a tiny little village called Minions (yeah, they even have little denim-dungaree wearing yellow dudes on the WELCOME sign now) and went for a gorgeous 4mile walk across Sowes Hill, past the Cheesewring and across to Sharptor. She bought Folly with her (best name for a dog ever imo) who thought it great fun to go gambling off over the moors.
The Cheesewring is an enormous pile of flat stones stacked (naturally) twenty feet high, with some of the slabs thirty-odd feet wide. It's named after a type of cheese-press, although you could easily argue it also looks like a pile of cheese wheels. Legend has it Saint Tue and a giant named Uther had a rock throwing contest, but more prosaic evidence suggests that its existence is more likely due to weathering. Given the lashing rain and howling wind we are experiencing today (unlike yesterday's fabulous sunshine), I'm not ruling out either argument.Our little hike was followed by a brilliant little picnic near the car park and a well overdue natter (complete with passing over her birthday presents, having wrapped them so long ago, I'd forgotten what I'd bought her!).
Eventually (prompted more by needing a loo-stop than anything else) we headed off to my aunt's house were we sat in the garden chatting with her and my uncle until Aunt brought out a brilliant little afternoon tea; sandwiches, Cornish heavy cake (instead of scones) with strawberry jam and cream, dates, slices of Bakewell tart and brownie, and tiny little cheesecake bombs.
Best Beloved was working, so hadn't come up with me, so Uncle was adamant that anything that wasn't immediately eaten was taken inside before it 'curled up in the heat' for BB when I got home. Aunt then raided her garage for whatever homemade goodies she could find for Cousin and I to take home. I think between us, Cousin and I took home about ten jars of jam, curd, and chutneys. Not a bad little haul really
Oh, and I've just let BB cut my hair (really can't be bothered to wait another I-don't-know-how-many-weeks for just a trim at the hairdressers), so as far as goals go, keep from rolling my eyes every time someone 'compliments' me on my hair cut this week....