Friday, May 30, 2008

A little light refreshment

Aromatic Bouquet

Yesterday we went to see the News Quiz being recorded. Though we've no photos of it as there was a very stern warning against taking any cameras... It was in the Redgrave Theatre in Bristol which is very small and when full was rather warm. There were a lot of people there without tickets as the email that is sent out rather leads one to assume one has got some, though further down it makes it clearer that if you've really been successful the tickets will turn up in the post. Also they send out many more tickets than there are seats anyway. They are not charging for them so can do this and its first come, first served on the night.

I was most charmed by Carrie Quinlan - she really held her own on the panel - there are always more men than women on these shows but at least she had plenty to say and was funny too! I hope all her contributions survive into the cut version tonight - they recorded for well over an hour last night and the show that goes out is under half an hour.

As I've no photos of the panel or the audience here are some faces I prepared earlier:

Face mosaic

Update: Jim has also blogged this.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Filling a Brief & Book Review

May MSH 08 Mosaic
All these links are to flickr. "mine" shows you mine of course, and "everyone's" shows those with the same tag as the topic as a set. Its fun to watch a set as a slideshow. 1. yellow swing (mine and everyone's), 2. dust (mine and everyone's), 3. garden tools (mineeveryone's), 4. mountain (mine and everyone's), 5. ice cold glass of milk (mine and everyone's), 6. trail mix (mine and everyone's), 7. garden gnome (mine and everyone's), 8. headache (mine and everyone's), 9. heavy fog (mine and everyone's), 10. scared (mine and everyone's), 11. fork (mine and everyone's), 12. bird (mine and everyone's), 13. fruity flavor (mine and everyone's), 14. station (mine and everyone's), 15. an unlikely duo (mine and everyone's), 16. roadside stand (mine and everyone's), 17. traditional (mine and everyone's), 18. farmer (mine and everyone's), 19. flattened (mine and everyone's). 20. now, that was refreshing!! (mine and everyone's)

On Flickr there is a group called the Monthly Scavenger Hunt, every month the group admins set a list of 20 things to take photos of and post to the group. Its also got some clever, non-flickr, software called "The Voting Booth" which lets everyone vote anonymously on everyone else's photos - or just some of them if you don't have time to do them all. Its great to see how everyone else has filled the brief.

Rules #4 and #7 are both to Have fun!. Which is helped by the anonymous voting, if you don't like a photo just vote it low and move on. If you do like one you can click on the photo to leave a comment/fave it before voting it high. Only the top 3 of each topic are revealed at the end of the month so no-one has the ignominy of discovering that theirs has been voted worst of class.

The hunt rules allow photos by you or in your personal archive. I usually set myself the additional challenge of taking them all in the month of the hunt, though I let myself off that rule if by this time of the month I haven't got them all... luckily this month I have. I stopped waiting for a heavy fog and took this instead:

Heavy Fog!

I don't currently wear glasses but this is an old pair of mine. I put them in the fridge so they'd fog up when I took them out. I doubt this will be a winner but it was more fun than posting something old - I prefer trying to find a more creative solution - and fun is what the hunt is all about!

Perhaps more worryingly my favourites of other people's this month are in the garden gnome category - this set.

On another subject I've almost finished reading Becoming Drusilla: One Life, Two Friends, Three Genders by Richard Beard. I read Dru's blog upside down in cloud, but first encountered her on flickr.

This book is beautifully written which accounts, at least in part, for why its taken me so long (over 2 weeks) to read; I've been savouring it. Its also one of the most thoughtful books I've ever read. Richard was a good friend of Dru whilst she was still presented as a man. In many ways the book is really more about how Dru's transformation has affected Richard than Dru. How he has had to readjust to one of his apparently most manly friends becoming a woman. And what's more a woman who still likes to do what many consider manly things (fixing cars and talking about war machines). And who now considers herself a lesbian. Richard is very frank about the difficulties he faced in coming to terms with it all. A most refreshing read.

Now a couple of synchronicities:

On the radio I heard the words "Jan Morris" and "travel writer" - I hadn't heard of her before but as, in the book, Richard had mentioned her several times and helpfully pointed out that a Morris Traveler, the kind of car Dru drives, might well be nicknamed Jan in her honour, I noticed her name.

Names were also significant in an episode of Lewis we watched last night. Jim had recorded it in March when I was avoiding fiction (I was doing lots of self-hypnosis and wanted to avoid other people's suggestions). This episode was called "Life Born of Fire" and the solution (its a detective story) revolved around names and working out that Zoë means "life" and Kenneth means "born of fire". And of course Zoë turns out to have previously been a man.

I'm very glad I was actually born a woman and am happy with it, the idea of going through the sort of challenges Dru has had to face do not appeal to me at all! Its a very physical transformation requiring hormones and surgery. The part that I find oddest though is the need to dress as a woman to convince the doctors of one's seriousness. Most of my clothes are unisex! And though I do love to be able to wear a dress when its hot I've spent many summers in shorts and vests when I was thinner... And having had tolerance problems with putting makeup on my skin I wear very little despite the improvement it makes to my appearance... All this makes me all the more grateful that I was born into a female body.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Saved By the Blog

Jim's birthday cakes: This year and 2 years ago.
Its Jim's birthday today. Two years ago we made him a pineapple upside down cake and he fancied the same sort of cake today. But what recipe had we used before? Luckily Jim found it on the web... in my blog!

The original had been from a magazine which we looked for but don't seem to have kept... So I printed out the instructions.

We'd planned a little bit more in advance this time and had all the ingredients except the flaked almonds to hand.

We substituted desiccated coconut for them. And because I'm attempting to avoid sugar (! I know its going to difficult with this one!) we used fruit sugar instead of cane sugar - Jim even read the packet and paid attention to the suggestion that we should use a third less. (Its not the quantity that concerns me; I'm more interested in its lower GI since I don't want to reignite my sweet tooth.)

Jim got 5 rings into the tin this time - which was the whole of a small pineapple.

Once the rings were in we filled all the gaps with cherries and pecans.

I took this photo of what will be the bottom of the top, but is currently the base layer (note the sunshine - today has been pleasantly warm!).

Next we had to make the batter.

Look at the lovely electronic scales.

These were one of Jim's presents last year. He choose them and he went for the one's that he thought were most robust instead of the prettiest and thought this was a sign of aging... hopefully one of growing wisdom!

So to show he's not growing old too quickly I tied his helium-filled "Birthday Boy" balloon onto him for the next pic.

(I hope these photos come out - I got some of the html a little snarled up...)

We've got some friends coming round soon so I'll have to stop now.

Happy Birthday, Jim!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Smile please, its Friday

Appetizer: Wii, Playstation or XBox?

None thanks. Once upon a time I used to be seriously into games... but that was long ago... In the 1980s I loved adventure: You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike

Soup: Would you ever go skydiving?

No. I lost a very good friend who was an experienced skydiver but had a midair collision. I hadn't fancied it before, now I'd never consider it.

Salad: Name a sequel that you think is better than the original movie.

I can't think of one....

Main Course: Share your most wonderful birthday celebration.

Someone else's, not mine!

Dessert: If you dare, post a picture of yourself making a silly face.

Okay this is the reason I decided to do the Friday Feast this time...


I did this as a joke but I've come to realise just how much this says about me. I have my eyes closed and a serious expression on my own face but over that is drawn a smiley.

For more: Friday Feasts

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Synchronicity - The Mayor of Casterbridge

Jim was cleaning out the Ottoman... that's a place where things are put away and not seen again for ages... he found this crossword from last Christmas by Araucria in the Guardian. It was a themed one with a some clues based on Thomas Hardy's works. We'd done most of it but not finished it. So, as one does when cleaning things out, he stopped and sat down to finish it now. The radio was on. And what should come on but "The Mayor of Casterbridge"... shame that was one of the clues we'd solved 5 months ago! A bit late to send it off... mind you as they only offer dictionaries as prizes we never do send them off - who needs another dictionary less than a crossword solver?

Update: I've just noticed that they really did say the crossword was by Araucria, not Araucaria I wonder if it was a spelling mistake... or whether there is a move to find a substitute for the beloved monkeypuzzler before he dies... according to wikipedia he was born in 1921.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

In the pink

Seeds, not yet planted

I mentioned in the last post that Jim has been digging. We've got quite a lot of little plants sprouting away in the potting shed, ready to put in once the bed is really ready... and loads of seeds. Aren't these spring onions a great colour on the packet? I wonder what they'll look like if we get them to grow...

Pink Clematis

This clematis is one that I planted at least four years ago... it was a runty bargain at the time and consequently did nothing for ages... but look at it now! Huge great flowers on it! Rather larger than I'd have chosen if I'd realised...

In fact in many ways I prefer Herb Robert, despite its status as a weed. It does self-seed well but its very easy to pull up and when pulled at it smells absolutely gorgeous... so an extraordinary well-behaved weed really. And look where it choose to grow:

Buddha's Companion

It planted itself in my gravel "garden" and I love it there.

Today is my ex-husband's birthday. I've no address or email for him but if he happens upon this - Happy Birthday Steve! In exactly a week it will be Jim's birthday and one week after that Jim's mother's. Funny how they are all strung out a week apart. Now I need some ideas of what to give Jim for his birthday... any suggestions?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Clearing the Clutter!


This week Carla's challenge on wings4you is to get rid of something:
Choose something that you've been holding on to for a long time (two or more years is a good starting point) because "it's too good to get rid of" or you "might want to use it someday."
Well I have tried! Which unfortunately, so far, translates to I haven't managed this yet.

When we were on holiday in Cornwall, we had to go very near a friend's house. She has recently been making beaded medicine bags so I thought she might make much better use of some of my bead collection than I'm making of it. (Many beads have been in my collection for something like 30 years.) I really enjoyed going through my beads and deciding which ones to pass onto her, attempting to consider both which I really was ready to let go of and what she might make good use of. I also sorted out a bag of books with a similar set of criteria. However despite all our best attempts we were not able to get together so rather than passing on a big shoebox of beads (and feathers and things) and a carrier bag of books we actually cluttered up our overfull car with them and carried them to and from Cornwall!

If I needed a message that I'm having trouble letting go of things this was it.

However as I've thought before that this challenge made sense more as a joint venture between me and Jim I do have one success to report. On Wednesday Jim dug up my blue Hibiscus. It was in the way of our new vegetable plot. Rather than squeeze it in somewhere else that it would not be happy I watered it and wrapped its roots carefully. Then labelled the bag: "Hibiscus Please Take". I put it out the front and when we returned home some time later it had gone. I hope to a good home!

Now I just need to carry on and do this with something I'm rather more attached too... maybe I'll enlist Jim's help from the start this time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Would a blog by any other name smell so sweet?

Wiggles in a Spiral

Imelda, the GreenishLady, has mentioned a giveaway by Peta of createcraft. Peta is giving away some goodies including a scarf "just in time for winter" (she's an Australian blogger rather than a slow knitter) to a randomly selected commenter to her "what's in a name" post provided they leave a link to their explanation for their blog's name. So here are two for the price of one:

My name is Caroline. When I first started to live in shared accommodation and had to label things as mine I normally just wrote Caro on them. So it wasn't a huge leap to think I might call my blog Caro's something... something to do with writing and drawing... how about Lines? :-)

Jim started a blogspot blog in April - he's called it JimPulse. He decided on the name by looking at words that started with im- that he could put a J in front of. He decided that both impulse and the Pulse part were rather good... certainly better than JimpLied or J-imPoster... though he did rather like Jimpact too.

If you want to join in write up the reason for your blog's name on your blog and then post a link to it over at Peta's.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A scrap of art


I've been inspired by some scavenged art on flickr (teresia, junkyprojects)... also our recent trip to this year's sculpture exhibition at Trull House (I blogged last years)... one of the flickr challenges I like to complete had a category of "flattened" that seemed to fit with these ideas.

I made both of these with things we had already but today I went out twice looking for squashed cans and bottle tops to increase my creative options - it was very odd being a bag lady... and the second time I'd not really gone collecting but was with Jim and had happened to collect a few bits but had no bag to put them in... the world them provided a neat empty cardboard box for me... rather better than a bag!

These two are proof of all the hot chocolate I was consuming last year and the year before... I liked the cans and kept quite a few. Since I gave up sugar at new year I've totally gone off the taste of even slightly sweetend chocolate... how does she know, you wonder, if she's given up sugar, surely she ought not to have had any at all? Good point. But I ran out of the hard to get hold of 99% chocolate and tried some 85% thinking it might by okay... however after the 99% the 85% tasted as though it was pure sugar! And a hot chocolate I had in a cafe was so horrible I couldn't drink it at all... they were very kind and made me an unsweetened cocoa instead.... I had no idea I could so thoroughly lose my sweet tooth... its taken 49 years or so but it seems to have happened!

Fork Lightering Owl

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Getting distracted...

I've decided that the time is right to write up some of my energy work and experiences. I've started a new blog for this: Beyond Health Kinesiology. A lot of what I'll be writing up will definitely go into the weird category (mine if not yours!). I started out hopeful but sceptical with a scientific background having prepared me to be questioning but also doubtful, I ended up rather impressed, though found I had to do a lot more work for myself than I'd ever have imagined possible let alone necessary.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Last Sunday we decided, despite the weather forecast, to go camping in Cornwall for a few days. Big mistake! It was very, very, very wet... However we did get some sun as well as showers, hail, strong winds, rain-battered noisy nights, low temperatures, etc.

We stopped just inside Dartmoor (Devon) for the first night on a camp site which had its own hydro-electricity - this meant it had the warmest shower block I've ever been in! And there was even a bath available too. The drinking water tasted horrible - all chemical - but the other facilities were amazing. However our goal was Cornwall. And it hadn't rained much yet... So on we went.

Nearly eight years ago we got married in Cornwall as a way of marking it as our future home. Recently I've been wondering if it was time to move there. (See my Looking at Houses in Cornwall blog). But the first real question is whereabouts. Most of our visits have been to the far South-West. I love St Ives as a centre for art and Jim has climbed on the sea cliffs, especially near Sennen (actually so have I but never again, thank you!), which is even further South-West than St Ives.

Jim at the top of Staircase

But thinking about living there means different things from holiday-style living. So this trip was partly to visit Truro, Cornwall's only city, to check out what it was like as neither of us had been there before.

We had decided to camp as this is so much cheaper than staying in holiday cottages - even looking for last minute "bargains" I found plenty of vacant cottages but no-one willing to do a decent discount. (I even asked nicely... but only got a meagre £50 off offer.)

The site we ended up at was mostly a retirement park. There were quite a lot of caravans and camper vans there too but we were the only ones foolhardy enough to be in a tent!

Truro turned out to be a lovely city for shopping so that's good and means we won't feel too cut off from "civilisation as we know it" if / when we move to Cornwall. On the downside the road layouts in Cornwall seemed to be getting worse and the drivers much more impatient and rude... incredibly so... worse even than Bristol!

I was so busy looking at Truro that I failed to take any photos worth showing you here! We also visited Falmouth and St. Mawes - photos of those to come in another post. And on the north coast St. Agnes and Perranporth.

St. Agnes is a place I was vaguely interested in because one of the houses I'd noticed in my house searches was an eco-house there. I'd already worked out that it had no garden to speak of so wasn't suitable for us but I was still curious about the village.

Having visited though I think I can safely remove St. Agnes from the list of possibilities. It just wasn't our sort of place. Whilst there though we discovered that we really ought to have been there for this weekend, the weekend following May 1st. As there are lots of celebrations of St. Agnes and the Giant Bolster, (that's a giant called Bolster, not, as I first thought, a big pillow!) over the weekend. Including a Beltane fire on St. Agnes' Beacon. Its a celebration of one of those strange local legends that Cornwall has in plenty.

After St. Agnes we headed for Perranporth and lunch. Another place neither of us had been before. Perranporth has a surfers' beach. There are lots of places in which to eat and loads of tourist shops too. It also has some pleasant gardens to sit in. Fun to visit. Too touristy to live in.

I loved this tile on the side of someone's house near the beach at Perranporth.

Aren't the terracotta seahorses fun!

One of the main reasons I'm interested in Cornwall is that the air is so much cleaner there - as its a peninsular there is a sea-freshness everywhere. I've always thought that living there I'd be a lot healthier. The downside of Cornwall is its tremendous inequality - the born and bred locals are often very poor and have to put up with much wealthier incomers buying up all the houses... house prices are falling there, as they are in most of the UK now, but it will take a much bigger fall to make them affordable by those on the "average", very low, wage in Cornwall.

On our way home we visited a Tortoise Garden at Lower Sticker. They have over 400 tortoises there. Jim was in his element.