Friday 29 May 2020

Lots of Writing Stuff

Sue - I still haven't got the nerve to go on the motorway. I'm not sure I ever will at this rate.

Sharon - I'm sure things will get sorted. It's just going to take time. Thank you for the hug.

Today is far too hot. I have been drying things on a clothes horse in the garden and sitting behind closed curtains. We had rice salad with chicken for dinner, which was lovely and refreshing. 

All the edits are now finished. I now have to go through my manuscript and agree it. I plan to try reading it out loud to myself twice through, which hopefully will pick up anything odd. Now it's into the publicity side. 

One of the things that the lovely publishers are planning is to give the option of a book with a message in the front.  I can't actually sign books that are going from warehouse direct to the reader, but they can get books printed with a copy of a hand written message. This is incredibly flattering to me, and came with some challenges. 

First of all, I had to learn to write my name. The book is called Out of the London Mist, by Lyssa Medana. My name isn't really Lyssa Medana. LM is a made up name for writing books. I only ever type it. The bin is full of practice sheets of me writing 'Lyssa Medana' over and over again with some very strange results. It feels a little egotistical. 

Finally I wrote out some messages and tried to take a pic to send to my editor (who is totally awesome (she may be reading this)). Inside was too dark, so I went outside and set them down on the front step. And that is how I got my exercise today, chasing around after pieces of paper covered in egotistical writing that were blowing all over the garden while a strange woman sat on a step across the corner and I swear she was judging me. I went back inside and laid them out next to a bedroom window and finally got some results I could send back. And somehow she will take the photos I sent and magic them into a readable dedication. Here's one of them, which I hope will be typical. 

Hugs and good health to all 

Thursday 28 May 2020

Worked it Out

They've changed the format of the blog thingy and it's taken me until now to work out how to post.

Yesterday was a video conference between bear and the physio. It wasn't hugely successful. Bear didn't feel 'heard' and when that sets in, it's really tough to get back. 

Today we did a little in the garden (which still looks like an area under special measures) and we will probably do some more tomorrow.

I popped out for some necessary bits and on the way home went past my first mobile speed camera. I was wondering what the knot of police were doing on the side of the road and then realised that I was going past a policeman holding a speed gun pointing at the car after me and standing with an air of purpose. I think I was around about the speed limit. It was in the 30mph zone, and I was being bugged by someone so far up my exhaust they could check my dipstick. I was probably doing between 29mph and 31mph. I suppose I will find out if I was speeding if I get a letter in the post. 

I drive up to the speed limit. When I was learning, I was so scared about going at speed that I forced myself to keep up. You can fail your driving test for going to slow. I'm still not comfortable much above 40mph, but I usually keep the needle around the speed limit, conditions permitting. That being said, there have been so many cars speeding around me that even if I do get a ticket, I'm still glad that they are cracking down. There were two instances today when I was genuinely scared by the speed cars were overtaking me. 

Writing stuff - I finally wrote a piece for the writing challenge, which is here. I hope the link works. I'm still figuring out the new layout.

Hugs and good health to all.

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Disappointing Bong

Bong, as in, chime of a clock.

A while back I got this clock fixed. It's around 130 years old and a little temperamental.

Bear and I finally got around to winding it up. The pendulum needed to be put back on place and we weren't sure which side to wind for the clock and which for the chimes. We wanted to avoid the chimes, as we didn't need sonorous bongs at midnight. The bongs are lovely, deep and mellow, but, according to bear, the clock lost count at 9pm and we only got eight bongs. We had only wound the chimes up a little, so we didn't need to worry about whether it would chime thirteen. It belonged to a member of my mother's family, and therefore all bets are off.

Actually it's a different branch of the family to the Christian Spiritualist Medium. This was the clock presented to one of my male ancesters as he retired after being a butler at the big house in the village for many years. His wife was the housekeeper, and while the butler was apparently fairly harmless, my great-great-grandmother (or some 'great's anyway) was a holy terror. She is the reason that her sons went to sea and her daughter-in-laws kept moving to get away from her. There were six siblings in grandfather's family, and, apart from the twins, they were all born in separate locations.  It was no good. The Duchess always followed them.

On the other hand, their connection with the big house meant that her sons could borrow the money to pay for their studies and exams to get their master's ticket. I don't know how it works now, but it meant that great-grandfather and his brother were able to captain merchant ships. It took them a while to pay it back, though, as it was an expensive business then.

So while the bongs are pretty awesome, they are lacking in number. Bear was also unimpressed to find out that the clock would need winding every night.

Also, I suppose I could call them 'chimes' but they sound like weighty 'bongs' and there is no way on earth that I am referring to inadequate 'dongs'. I may be less rational than normal. The codeine isn't currently helping bear as much as we would like.

Monday 25 May 2020

And that was the Bank Holiday

It's been a quiet day. I've caught up on The Great British Sewing Bee, got into discussions with bear on history, and generally managed an ant free kitchen.

I'd like more like this please. Although it would be nice to have stuff to post, I'd like it to be happy stuff.

Writing stuff - this week's writing challenge is here. All welcome.

Hugs and good health to all.

Sunday 24 May 2020

The Ants are Back!

There were only a half dozen or so ants milling around a coffee jar, but it felt like a blow after a few days without sightings. They vanished after I sprinkled large quantities of lemon oil around. One poor thing was just running around in circles before I squished her, and I suspect that some of the bumps in the vast swathe of cinnamon are the remains of others. It caused some disruption this afternoon. Mind you, it seems that they are coming in near the washer and away from the sink, so it should be safe to use an ant trap away from the food areas. I'll put one down once the area stops smelling so strongly of lemons. I may have got a little carried away.

Since I last posted, we have had a new internet connection fitted and DH has started me on a much needed clear out. DH crammed his car full for a trip to the newly opened tip on Saturday morning and since then we have filled the garden again with black bin sacks. I found a tin of tomatoes today that expired last month, and I suspect there is even more surprises lurking in the tin cupboard since bear cleared it out. I won't keep tins of tomatoes. I don't think it applies any more, but tomatoes are acidic and it used to be wise not to use them after their expiry date in case they had worn away some of the tin they were in. I think that there is a proper coating now, but I like to play it safe. If there are any tins of beans etc that are out of date, I'll bring them to the front to use early. DH has booked a slot to visit the tip on Tuesday, but the bin bags may not all fit into the car! In which case, I can see me booking a lot more slots. I'm happy to leave it to DH as I do all the shopping and this way his car keeps turning over (and stops the battery failing), but he works from home and it's very busy for him, so he is limited to when he can go out.

Tonight's dinner was some chicken breasts cooked in the oven with tinned tomatoes, olives (very inexpensive jar from Tesco, used about a quarter), a finely chopped pepper, onion, garlic, a little stock powder and some water. It turned out really well. I wish I had remembered to add the mixed herbs, though. I need to go through my cupboards to check for casserole dishes. I got rid of a lot of mine because I wasn't using them, but now I would. I still regret the casserole that bear left at school.

Actually, I need to go through the cupboards in general. I can see me adding to the bin bags!

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 21 May 2020


One day I will plan to do something and it will happen.

I didn't get out today as I'm going out tomorrow. Last night my brother called and invited me for a socially distant catch up. I may break the rules to get a cuddle from his older dog, though. He is an utter sweetie, and getting very elderly. It gives me more time to work out what we are going to need over the bank holiday. I still want to get there early, and I've already loaded bags into the car.

The house smells of firelighters. What that usually means is that someone further up the sewage system has dumped a load of paint thinner or similar into the drains and we are getting the benefit. I may run our water later to see if it washes some stuff away, but something like turps or white spirit would float on water, so it may not be a quick fix.

I'm wondering if the new business that's a little upstream is anything to do with it. There has been a bathroom place there all the time we've lived here until a year or two ago, when they moved out and something else started. There has been lots of rubble, a permanent oil barrel full of burning scrap wood and people hanging around and making noise. I'm looking forward to finding out what is going on.

Today has been far too warm. I can't wait until it's autumn and I start complaining about the cold!

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Handbag? What Handbag?

Thank you for the good wishes and advice. It really helps.

I really wanted to be out at 7am this morning. I hoped to get out, have a short walk and then get to Tesco before the reserved hour between 9am and 10am that is kept for the elderly and vulnerable or nhs workers. Instead I was tearing the house apart looking for my handbag.

I'd left it in the car overnight! Fortunately, as I drive through some less than fancy places, I have a habit of always putting my handbag in the footwell on the passenger side and it was still there this morning. I gave up on the walk and just about made it to Tesco on time, where I dashed around and shot out again like a startled cat.

Then I got home to the ongoing battle of bear with school work. Due to pain and all the other issues, he's struggling and school are less than sympathetic. He managed to get some done.

I jammed the vacuum cleaner and then inhaled a snoot full of dust as I tried to unjam it, so we ended up having baked potatoes instead of rice salad with the burgers, which was okay. The men had honeycomb on toast for dessert. I found some on a site which was also delivering gluten free flour, so got it for a treat, and I thought bear should know what it was like. It has been a success.

I now feel utterly, completely and totally exhausted. I'm not sure why, but it's right to the bones. I feel incredibly embarassed as I have done nothing compared to people who are on the front line with this virus, whether in health care or the frontline essential workers in shops and deliveries.

Hugs and good health to all.

Tuesday 19 May 2020

I Have No Idea What I'm Doing

It's been one of those fail days. I've bumbled around and achieved very little apart from watching obsessively for six legged intruders. I caught one. Any more seemed to have been deterred by the vast amounts of lemon essential oil, cinnamon and vinegar.

I'll start again tomorrow.

Writing stuff - my response to this week's writing challenge is here.

Monday 18 May 2020

A New Problem

I have a cellar kitchen with a window at ground level. I've already sprinkled cinnamon around after spotting a few ants. Today there were hundreds clustered around the kettle. I felt overrun by the segmented buggers. I put down a couple of ant traps outside the window after a harried trip to the garden centre as I daren't put the poison right next to the kitchen sink. On the inside I've left lots of lemon oil and vinegar around, which apparently deters them. The kitchen smells very odd, but I just need to keep it up until the ants' nest is killed.

This was really frustrating as I had had a great start to the day. I had got out early, finished the first round of line editing and even taken some (very limited) exercise. I called into a park on the way back from Tesco, and it was lovely. It was very green and full of all sorts of blossoms.

There is a lot of blossom on the hawthorns this year. The air was full of its scent. I also managed to get a few dog cuddles. Then I came home to make chutney (which I will definitely get to!) and when I picked up the jars I noticed hundreds of six legged mini beasts that probably didn't wipe their feet before they came in.

I still managed to make dinner but I'm seriously freaked out.

Writing stuff - this week's challenge is here, all welcome.

Hugs and good health to all.

Saturday 16 May 2020

More Driving!

Wherethejourneytakesme - thank you. I think if we have a name, we are on the start and that is something.

Today I drove to B&Q because we need some gorilla tape in a hurry. The queues were long. I sort of hoped to get bear a whopper from Burger King who were on the same mini trading estate, but the queue was obscene, so I promised bear that I would get one for him but not on a lunch time on Saturday.

Then I was trying to find somewhere that sold ant traps. I spotted quite a few ants on my kitchen windowsill. I sort of expected it, as they have been in before and the garden is awash with them. I suspect that the window isn't sealed properly, which doesn't help, but there weren't any ant traps in Tesco on Thursday when I looked. They were staying on the windowsill when I saw them, but there were a lot of them. I want to put ant bait traps outside the window (it's a cellar kitchen so the window is at ground level) because the window is next to the sink, with all the implications of poison if I dash too many chemicals around.

I remember reading that ants get confused by cinnamon because it affects there something or other (I'm not exactly sure). I sprinkled the sill lavishly and retreated. When I came back there weren't any on the windowsill although a few were wandering up and down the side of the window. I'm not sure whether the cinnamon affected their thingies or they retreated from the mad woman throwing spices around, but they were definitely fewer. As the oils that give the cinnamon their strength evaporate, I'm going to have to put more powder down. My kitchen is going to be incredibly aromatic.

The quest for ant traps meant that I needed to go out again so I went to Sainsburys. The ring road is full of road works. There are cones everywhere. The diversion for B&Q took me all the way around the roundabout, which was unnerving. I found the driving really stressful.

This is worrying. I'm avoiding routes I used to take without hesitation. I'm feeling nervous about routine runs. I'm planning another drive tomorrow, but I'll just run around some familiar routes. I may need to start using P plates again, as I'm not a confident driver.

Hugs and good health to all.

Friday 15 May 2020

A Tiring Day

Sarah - congratulations! Don't forget to let me know when the publication date comes around so I can give a shout out.

Thank you for all the good wishes. It has been confirmed that bear has Chronic Pain Syndrome and it looks like it is going to be a long haul. He was also prescribed melatonin.

The driving was an horrific experience. I knew that the Transport Minister had announced a boost in roadworks. It seemed that they were all in Leeds! There were cones and arrows and temporary lights everywhere. And there wasn't a scrap of parking near the hospital. We drove around for nearly an hour, and I must have gone around the area three times. I couldn't manage the multi story. The angles were just too tight. I ended up reversing out. Finally bear got out near his appointment and headed for the clinic. I parked up near the market and belted some distance back to the hospital while bear checked himself in and got the 'weight and height' stuff done. The consultant was running over, so we weren't late, but I was not as calm and collected as I would have liked. Bear was awesome and so mature, but he wasn't in his comfort zone and was glad to see me.

The drive home was equalling stressful. I managed to get into the right lane but there were roadworks, unexpected corners, some appalling driving from other people and cyclists.

I am feeling a little stressed after the whole afternoon, so I thought I would go out and drive. I could get some practice in and pick up a few things. This was not a good idea. It felt like I was in the Wacky Races.

Bear has settled down, so I think I will take the opportunity and get an early night. I can't talk much about him too much, but I'm worrying.

Hugs and good health to all.

Thursday 14 May 2020

Scary Driving

Thank you for all the kind comments. Sue - that's the thing. If you use a comma, it can change the way the sentance sounds and change the rhythm of the text, but then I feel pretentious for getting so worked up about it. It's a genre novel about a monster in an alternate Victorian East End London. It's not fancy literature. I need to stress less about commas.

I need to have a think about the way I am treating the lockdown. I've been trying hard to stick to the rules, but it isn't working. My confidence in driving is all in pieces, and today, when I went for my 'big' shop, the roads were full! To be fair, one of the roads is notorius for being a difficult road. You can't let your attention wander during normal life, but I had become used to it being quiet. Now I'm not sure about my judgement. One example - cars parked either side of the road, a large van coming towards me with purpose and I just went for it. If my poor little car had another coat of paint, I swear it would have lost it. It's the sort of thing I took in my stride before, but it left me feeling very worried.

Tomorrow is the consultant's appointment, and bear is really keen on me driving. I'm worried. Parking around hospitals, especially ones that are next to the Magistrates, Crown and County courts and a university, is notoriously difficult. It's probably a little different now, as I don't think all of the courts are sitting, and a lot of the firms around there will be working from home, and the students have gone home, so that's something.

I may try a short drive most days. In that case it makes sense for me to drive, take a little exercise, pick up only what we need from somewhere sensible and go home. I can look for awkward junctions and now that the restrictions are less, I can aim for the motorway on a Sunday morning or perhaps at night. I was, as far as I could tell and according to my passengers, a safe driver before this. I need to make sure I stay like that.

And worrying about driving stops me worrying about bear and the consultant tomorrow. Thank you for all your good wishes.

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 13 May 2020

What's in a Comma?

I've written the book (Out of the London Mist by Lyssa Medana, provisional publishing date 23 July), I've had it accepted by the Three Furies Press and it's gone through developmental editing where I tried the patience of Rebekah, who is awesome. If I understand it correctly, developmental editing is where the exasperated editor asks very reasonable questions like, are you sure you have the name right or did you call them something else before? (yep, I changed a name mid chapter - and Rebekah is the genius that added chapters as well)

I'm now on to line editing. This is where my haphazard attitude to punctuation is corrected. I don't know what to do with a comma, and it shows. The line editor who has the thankless task of correcting page after page of incorrectly punctuated speech is an absolute sweetheart. She puts up with me asking idiot questions. And now she has to put up with me worrying about commas.

To be honest, she understands what to do with commas when I don't. My education was appalling. Most of my basic English and Maths was taught by my parents and it left me floundering with a lot of  the basics. My lovely editor does this professionally. But every now and again, I quibble. I sort of know she's right, but sometimes I wonder if it changes the sense of things or slows things down. Today I spent twenty minutes fretting about one dratted comma. It doesn't make that much difference. I should just say yea or nay and get over it. I'm worrying that I'm taking myself too seriously.

Last night we had a very pleasant beef stew that I made in the rice cooker. Tonight it was frozen pizza. I wouldn't say today has been a fail, but with the whole comma business, then having to find the bin I had nicked from next door but one (which is empty) to take the excess rubbish from our clear out, because the bin men had emptied it and then it had moved some distance, I don't seem to have got as much done as I would have liked. I've nibbled at the edges of the chaos, but I've done more than I would have done if I didn't try. Tomorrow and Friday are both busy as I have the shop day on Thursday and then hospital with bear for an appointment on Friday.

I'm hoping to be in and out as quickly as possible tomorrow. I'm trying to work out how to avoid shops while keeping up with some of the stuff that we use a lot. I also plan to have a trial drive to the hospital tomorrow to see if I can park near there as there is likely to be a lot less traffic. I hope it is going to be okay. There is some on street parking in the area, I believe, but I don't know where it is. And the hospital is on the edge of Leeds Town Centre, and thoroughly enmeshed in the one way system from hell. I'm hoping I get some sleep tonight. I think I will go back to worrying about the comma instead of parking and walking with bear and what the consultant might say. It's much easier.

Hugs and good health to all.

Tuesday 12 May 2020

Still Quite Cold

It's still a lot colder than last week and bear and I had the heater on this afternoon. It was only on half, but it was very welcome.

I got a response written to the writing challenge (here) before bear got up but he had a bad day so I've spent most of the day just hanging around with him and keeping him company.

I'm likely to start being a little more sparse with details about bear from now on. What I write now could affect his future life. I'll still share a little, but it's already probably easier to steal his identity with the news I share, and I don't want to put something that would make future employers reconsider hiring him. I'll still be sharing highlights, of course.

I am now absolutely shattered, and need to sort out the bins.

Hugs and good health to all.

Monday 11 May 2020

Monday Has Happened

Pam - that makes sense. That rosebush is always alive with aphids.

Wherethejourneytakesme - Unfortunately the rose bush has almost completely fallen over, partially pushed by that thug of a fuschia. I'm going to have to try and stake it, but I am not sure how well I'll manage.

Today I did at least five minutes in the garden, which obviously barely made a dent, picked up some shopping (only went into Tesco and Aldi) and came straight home. I had rain, hail and what looked like it could be sleet and I was very unimpressed.

Bear was having a hard time and in frustration utterly cleared his desk. It was epic! He plans to get DH to move his electrics around but now he has a lot more space for school work.

Writing stuff - This week's writing challenge is here.

Hugs and good health to all.

Sunday 10 May 2020

Cooler Today

Thank you for the advice about rice. It may turn out to be a help - always having a serving in the freezer. And speaking of freezer food, I should be able to freeze a couple of portions of leftover soup from this evening. It was veggies, lentils, spices and garlic - very tasty. And followed with some banana bread.

I need to use up some more brown bananas so I will be making more banana bread tomorrow and possibly using up apples in chutney. That depends, of course, on whether I get back quickly from shopping.

Today I fought with an extremely inexpensive compost bin and pretty much won, but it took about an hour. It's a flat pack and turns into a sort of cheap plastic fabric type thing, and I have no idea where it's going to live in my small garden, but the tip is still closed for garden waste and I need to prune back the fuschia before it's the same size as my car - again! Father planted it and father had a track record with fuschias. I remember one from my childhood that needed to be hacked back at least twice a year, cracked a sewer pipe and was at least one storey high. I also need to work out whether I can bare to get rid of a yellow rose (currently swarming with ants for some reason) or whether I can work out how to stake it up. It's been there for years and is older than bear. I bought it incredibly cheap at a garden centre where we had gone to get coffee because it was half dead. It has a beautiful scent, but is leggy and neglected (my fault).

I also hung out with DH and bear and watched some more Victorian Farm, and I got a few more rows done of my knitting.

I'm off to watch the news now and try and work out what it means for us all.

Hugs and good health to all.

Saturday 9 May 2020

Sort of Quiet

Jonathan - I have no patience with plants, I fail at them. Plants look at me and die, except, apparently, for this honeysuckle, but only this year! To be fair, I think the neighbours were sabotaging it last year.

Today has been sort of quiet and sort of productive. I got the new rice cooker going and I'm devastated that the minium rice it cooks is about twice our normal portion. Cooked rice can have some nasties in it if it isn't stored well, and I do not have a perfect track record of being competent. I shall have a think. It worked out well today, though, as I made rice salad, with enough left over for lunch tomorrow. We had it with chicken and followed it by the banana bread I made this afternoon. I have apples and bananas I need to use up so baking may happen.

In between I fussed bear (who is doing well today) and watched the Victorian Farm with DH while knitting. It has been incredibly relaxing and I've got a few inches of blanket knitted. I've also got some editing done and I cringed at the mess I was making of commas. It's been an education and I seriously feel for the poor soul doing line edits.

I'm looking forward to a relaxing evening with more Victorian Farm and knitting.

Hugs and good vibes to all.

Friday 8 May 2020

Happy VE Day

It's a weird sort of anniversary.

It's been another bad day. Bear has been prescribed codeine. He is much better now. Back tomorrow.

Thursday 7 May 2020

Sort of Win, Sort of Fail

Bear has had a bad day. But one of the things he managed to do was help me with a box. To be honest, he helped at the start and then had to go in, but we did all the thinking together.

As you can see, I need to do a lot of work in the garden. The idea is that the box can be topped up with soil and the honeysuckle can flourish. I was considering runner beans, but it may be a little late for them now. We constructed three sides to the box, then slipped it between the railings and the wall. The railings are tied with plastic string to hooks in the wall and there is an old clothes line strung leading to the right in the picture which I'm hoping to train the honeysuckle along.

Unfortunately I had a struggle to get the last side on after I got the box in position and it isn't properly attached all the way down. I put gorilla tape over the screws because I couldn't get them all the way in and didn't want anyone to get caught on them. I couldn't find a drill with a screwdriver thingy but there were pre-drilled holes in one side, thank goodness, so I managed the rest of the box okay.

Thank you for all the suggestions for helping bear. They are very much appreciated and at this time, when we are so in the dark, I'm incredibly grateful.

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 6 May 2020

I Read Books About the Black Death

Bear continues in pain but manageable. This is likely to be the state of things for some time except for flare ups.

A few years back I went through a phase of reading books about the Black Death. I quite enjoy death and disaster - but only if it's a few centuries away. I don't like it too close. There is a lot of literature about the Black Death, and not all of it is worth reading. I've always been fascinated by the way that it shaped society and changed the way government worked, for better or worse.

With the current events, I dipped into a book called Journal of a Plague Year by Daniel Defoe, which you can read free on the Gutenberg Press site. It's a darned good read, written by the same person who wrote Robinson Crusoe, and is fiction with a lot of research included.

The first wave of the medieval bubonic plague that hit England at the end of 1348 (previous waves hit before in the sixth century CE  and possibly second century CE and 4000BCE but I'm less sure of those dates) was a massive shock to society. The second wave that hit England around 1361 was perhaps even more psychologically damaging although without the same death toll. It meant that the plague was here to stay. And it kept coming back in waves right up until the end of the seventeenth century (last deaths were early twentieth century in Suffolk, but those were isolated cases). Bubonic plague continued to be a dreadful illness, but people knew that it could happen, like a bad winter or a failed harvest.

As the plague returned, a set of measures to deal with the crisis grew up with each major outbreak. People knew that strangers could bring plague, so mayor's had to issue bills of health for people who wanted to travel. People were aware of the incubation time and the length of time the bacillus could survive on cloth, for example, which led to the isolation of goods for forty days, which is where the word quarantine comes from, the Italian for forty days. There were people appointed as doctors for the poor, watchers where houses were boarded up to isolate plague victims and attempt to stop the spread, special taxes that would be used to pay for food for those shut up and the economic upheaval that came with plague and provisions for burying those who had sadly fallen victim. As soon as plague was identified, or even suspected, by the time of the outbreak of 1665 in London, rules and regulations swung into action. It was almost a routine hazard and you can see it referred to in Romeo and Juliet where one of the characters is detained because of plague regulations.

I wonder if we will see the same things happening with Covid 19. With all the talk of a Second Wave and a return to lockdown measures if it happens, I wonder if we will see it coming back again and again, sometimes spaced out by decades and sometimes over a few years. I wonder if we'll get used to getting a little stockpile together if it looks like there's going to be another outbreak, or whether we'll autmatically keep a stock of masks in the drawer for when they're needed. I wonder if planning for businesses will take into account the chances of it being a 'corvid year' and whether they need to plan for a lot of working from home. People die every year of the bubonic plague, even now. Most cases are in Madagascar, but it is also endemic in parts of the USA.

As you can tell, I haven't been particularly cheerful today. I managed a response to the writing prompt here, and that's about it. Bear had a skype call with a friend of DH who encouraged him with the violin and duet playing, so that was pretty awesome.

Hugs and good health to all.

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Not a Good Day

I had a phone consultation with a very nice man who is a consultant thingy - joints and pain in children. He believes bear has Chronic Pain Syndrome. We are going in for a face to face consultation in a few weeks. Bear is just about at rock bottom with this, it has been going on for years and now we are facing quite a long haul to get things right. I am so worried for him.

I'll be back tomorrow when I have more chance to process things.

I haven't written my response to the writing challenge yet, but Sue Hester has written an amazing piece called 'Light and Shade' and you can find it here.

Hugs and good health to all.

Monday 4 May 2020

I Drove to the Shops

I tried to find a farm shop, but got genuinely lost. I have two types of lost. The first and most usual is where I've a vague idea of the direction I ought to be going in but don't feel emotionally attached to the outcome. The second is where I'm trying to go somewhere particular and I can't get there. I'm avoiding the first type in lockdown, but I think I got caught out with a weird road layout and took a wrong turn and ended up with the second type. So I pulled over, put in what I thought was the nearest supermarket into my satnav - Morrisons in Heckmondwike - and turned around. A few minutes later I found myself driving past the turn off for the road to the farm shop! I could almost imagine the satnav's frustration as I found a place to turn around and went back to the shop. It didn't have diced lamb, which I was sort of craving as I fancy some scouse (native dish of Liverpool and I grew up with it being made with diced lamb), so I picked up some fruit and veg and carried on to Morrisons.

Morrisons didn't have gluten free flour. Neither did Tesco or Sainsbury's. On the bright side, I drove on unfamiliar roads from Tesco to Sainsburys while wearing trainers and I was fine. In fact, I did quite well as the roads were quite empty so I could change lanes without too much stress and I wasn't under time pressure.

Btw Morrisons have half price steaks. I picked some up for DH.

I am now absolutely shattered. I only drove thirty miles, but I am so unused to it, and I was driving unfamiliar places, which made it more tiring. I normally drive at least thirty miles on a school day. It's going to be hard when I get back to the school run.

I've had a quick look online and I'm not getting much success there either. I'm sure it will settle down, and I'll find work arounds until then.

Writing stuff - this week's writing challenge is here. All welcome.

Hugs and good health to all 

Sunday 3 May 2020

High Gravity Continues

Helen - thank you. I think I've cooked rice in a similar way. I'm just lazy and like setting it off and forgetting.

Today has been another of those days. I mean, it hasn't been so bad. But it could have been better. I've dropped a lot of things. The burgers I took out to defrost didn't and I couldn't even pry them apart, and the wrapper said not to cook from frozen (though suitable for freezing). And the men decided that they weren't that hungry anyway so could they have something different and I completely ran out of ideas. They had sandwiches.

Also bear made a chocolate cake. I handed him things and got out stuff, but he actually did it all. He lined the tin, weighed out ingredients, used the electric mixer and was generally awesome. It was a chocolate loaf cake from here except I didn't have chocolate chips and I had to substitute drinking chocolate for cocoa.

On the bright side, the ironing pile is slightly smaller and the kitchen, while still chaotic, is not as bad as it was. Also the area where the weedkiller hit is now looking seriously affected, which is great in one way but I need to get out and do the rest and it stinks!

Tonight I need to settle down and make a long list for shopping tomorrow. I have to spend some time making decisions. Morrisons are advertising half price steaks, and DH definitely deserves one, but I want some stuff that only Tesco sells and but I think I have a better bet getting the gluten free stuff from Sainsburys. I also want to support farmers with farm shops, so that is another stop I would consider, and I could do with some bits from Aldi as well. Also, my car isn't that big. I can only pack so much in it. I don't want to make unnecessary journeys, well, I do but I won't, and I don't want to keep popping out.

Hugs and good health to all.

Saturday 2 May 2020

Dinner Fail

Today has been one of those days. Bear is much better today, though I haven't managed to get him to do any schoolwork, and DH is looking really relaxed which is great after a tough week, but I had a high gravity day. Anything that could fall did. The peaches were mouldy. I couldn't get the boxes sorted. The washing machine is still making peculiar noises and I'm worried the neighbours will complain (if they speak to me at all). Also, I broke the rice cooker by putting the water in before the bowl and so messing up the element.

So the sweet chili burgers with rice salad followed by home made chocolate cake were replaced by mini chicken kievs, frozen potato products and frozen peas followed by an ice cream from the freezer. You would not believe how much washing and ironing now needs sorting to make a space to dry bear's plushies (which may explain why the washing machine is making funny noises as it has been going non-stop) and I've pulled a muscle in my back.

On the bright side, I have a shopping opportunity for a new rice cooker. I have cooked rice on the stove and in the microwave before, but I have a lot more success with the rice cooker and it's coming up to rice salad season. The one I have is also a multi cooker, which I would quite like, but the ones I've seen are all pressure cookers, which scare me. Any recommendations welcome.

I'm going shopping on Monday. It's all quite odd. I can't just pop out for things, so I have to plan. I'm starting a list but I can see me calling into at least three stores. I have a mask now, though, and I'll use sanitiser, but it feels wrong. It's just that I'm going to have to hunt for gluten free flour, then the various places for food and drink that will not only be fit for all the food issues but also satisfy fussy eaters, and I also need to scope out dry cleaners as I need to get a throw from bear's room drycleaned. And if it's like today, I'll forget something vital. I may be able to pick up a rice cooker or variation on it then and not use up a delivery slot that is needed elsewhere.

Hugs and good health to all.

Friday 1 May 2020


I'm starting to work my way through washing every tiny scrap of fabric in bear's room in the battle against beetles. Bear takes after me in that he loves his blankets and throws. I even got him one for Christmas and he has various Doctor Who themed throws, plush throws, knitted blankets and fleeces. It may take some time. My washing machine was making some very peculiar noises when I made dinner, and I think I'll need to space out the loads and make them slightly smaller. It may have just dealing with an unbalanced loads but it sounded awful like a sob - a sort of whaaaa-whaaaa-whaaa noise before coming to a stop and then starting again. I can't cope with trying to sort out a broken washer just at the moment.

Apart from the layers of fabric in bear's room, there are around a gazillion and four plush toys. Bear seems to be attached to them all. He has names for them. He used to curl up in heaps of them when he was little. Now it would be far too harsh to ask him to do without them. So they all need to be washed, at least the ones that will wash. There are also buckets of lego, storage boxes and cushions that all need a serious inspection. Nothing is actively crawling, but I don't want to take any chances. The next step is to dig out the steamer and work out how to use it.

The fruit mountain is diminishing rapidly. I forgot to cook the cauliflower tonight, but remembered the mushrooms in the mince. I also made Dorset Apple Cake (can't find the link at the moment, but it's on BBC Good Food) which went down very well, even though I made a mess of the rubbing in. The room was too hot and I found the rubbing in somewhat squishy.

It's been another relaxing evening, with us all hanging out and relaxing. Long may that continue.

Hugs and good health to all.