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just keep swimming…

well, i’ve got the laptop out, which is progress of a sort. It’s been under a chair for about six months or so – i dislike this laptop intensely, as some of the keys stick and programmes take forever to load – eg chrome took five minutes from the click… i know i should take it somewhere and get some tekkie to buff it up,, but with the ongoing depression, the thought of finding a computer store, taking it in and then collecting it seems like an impossible mountain to climb. Hard to explain if you’ve never been there, but anyone who has will grok it. so I’ll probably just get another one with the royalty reserves.

as i tweeted a while ago, i do have a bunny kicking around in my head, or rather just a NAME of a possible book which has been rattling around looking for a plot – so i remain optimistic, or as much as i can being a veritable Eeyore.  my books often start with only a title, Standish, Transgressions and Tributary started that way. I need to pick a time period next, I guess.

So, how is everyone? i’m guessing there’s  a lot less of you out there, can’t really fuck off off the map for 2 years and expect people to just to waiting around, but if you are there, i’m looking forward to catching up on what you have been up to. I have very little to report, Sasha is fine, so is Lili, I lost both of the boys in the last year so that was a body blow but at least i havent rushed out to replace them. I’ll wait for Lili to go – she’s 17 now – and decide whether to get another cat. I don’t know, having a cat is binding, with sasha i could at least go places and visit people around the place but if it involves being away for a length of time, you can’t really leave the cat..

Well, i’ll keep it short for now don’t want to post once and then vanish again as i’ve done several times before. *hugs*

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So you have to be called Harry?/Reading

According to Jim Butcher – I’m a witch. I’d like that – I would have always liked it. My birthday is Halloween, which is the best birthdate in the universe, imho, and from my earliest memories I was always convinced I had to be a witch. after all you don’t get born at one minute past midnight on Halloween and not become a witch, do you? the Universe doesn’t work like that!  I waited and waited, sure that eventually someone would turn up and say, “You’re a wizard, Harry” long before Harry was even a glimmer in James’ and Lily’s eyes but no one ever came. there was no squashed birthday cake in my life. I mean, 31st July? what kind of magical birthday is that? some people get all the luck.

However, I MUST have some magical inclinations, as (as Butcher asserts in his books) electrical things simply die on me without me doing anything to deserve it. Granted, I do ride some of them hard, my playstation is on a lot, and my Laptop rarely gets shut right down, but they do tend to last. It’s other things, radiators, (only one working left in the house, so going into this winter with trepidation) coffee machines, laptop connectors – and who can forget the 12 keyboard kindles that went wrong almost as soon as I opened the parcel?

and today my kettle blew up. Just BLEW UP! no warning, just BANG. and I shopped today, so I’ll be boiling water in a saucepan for my tea for the next week and we all know that never tastes the same.

But, seriously – without PROPER MAGIC POWERS, it’s a bit unfair to have the latent magic blowing stuff up. come on, universe, cough up. powers please!

As for the reading section, I’ve finally started reading again, and by that I mean, NEEDING to read, rather than doing the whole cognative bullshit therapy make myself read which seem to have worked, despite my cynicism, who knew? for about a year I read for comfort, re-reading Jim Butcher, GRRM, Heinlein but couldn’t face anything not read before. then I started on Outlander which soured me from trying something new, to be honest as I gave up in disgust on book four. Last week I started on the Southern Vampire/True Blood series and I have to say, up to book 10, I was quite enjoying the journey.

Granted, Sookie wavers between Too Stupid To Live and Marysue, and she gets beaten up more often than I have sliced bread these days, but all in all, not a horrific read. the writing isn’t fabulous and the woman really really needs to step away from the thesaurus for gods sake. Book ten though “Dead in the family” is boring me rigid. Although I was sick to death of Sookie getting into PERIL at every available opportunity this book has been yak yak yak politics BORING yak yak yak so far and I wouldn’t mind having her duffed up again soon.

as to her relationships, I was surprised that she was with Eric, as the series concentrates on Sookie/Bill in the main, I dislike Book Bill with a vengeance and I hope to high heaven that Sookie doesn’t end up with him, I will be disgusted if she does. Eric (looking as he does in the series, in my mind)  is far nicer. Funny, protective and at times very sweet. The only thing that really grates on me though, is the way he calls her “My lover” e.g. “Hello, my lover.” This may be an accepted american expression, or viking, or something, but to a Brit it means one thing and one thing only: THE WEST COUNTRY. So Eric would sound like this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6SvV95u4F0

Nuff said.

Anyway, the reason I’m burbling on about reading (which will, I’m praying, take me back to WRITING) is that I’ve decided to read some of THOSE BOOKS one “should” read. Obviously read a whole bunch of ‘em already but I’m going to start with this list http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/what-to-read/100-novels-everyone-should-read/ and work down it. I’m starting with The Home and the World – I’ll keep you posted!

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random pop up rambling

first off – many apologies to everyone I haven’t been in touch with, which is everyone.

I tried with Outlander, I really did. I’m a finisher, normally but I just gave it up, half way through Drums of Autumn. I just didn’t CARE what happened to them – Claire was too stupid to live but did, repeatedly, despite being In Peril every five minutes. I mean, for gawds sake, she wandered out into the wood looking for her husband in the snow, alone, in her nightshirt if I remember rightly and wondered why she got Into Peril. sigh. I couldn’t give a monkey’s if they win the American Revolutionary War – which they probably will. good luck to them. I may investigate wiki to find out what happened with the daughter  - I had a feeling she might come into the past, but I don’t particularly care whether I find out or not.

So now I’m ploughing through True Blood and yes, it’s not great literachoor but it’s far more entertaining and for the first time in years it seems, I’m reading something that asks nothing of me. Simply suspend disbelief and wade on in. Sookie  - well, yeah, she’s half a Mary Sue in that EVERYONE in the world wants in her knickers for some baffling reason, and she does do stupid things and ends up In Peril, but she does suffer consequences and gets beat up about three times every book! Open-mouthed smile

But reading has been hard for me recently, since the depression kicked in, and having a series to read every night before I go to sleep is becoming something to look forward again for me, which, believe me, is a really nice change, and somewhere nice to get back to. I actually prefer the books to the TV series – I gave up after four series of the TV thing, it seemed all a bit too intense  - whereas the books are a short sharp adventure in each.

Other stuff, Lucius is a little better – I think – he’s on a high dose of his hyperthyroidism tablets and he eats a lot, so he has put a little weight on, but he’s still very thin and very quiet. I really really miss the cuddly boy he used to be. Sasha is her normal bouncy self and Lili is still the foghorn. dad’s still going, I have to go down there tomorrow to meet with his social worker for his assesssment. dreading it, tbh.

Hope you guys are all well, I have missed all the chat and gossip and scandal, and I really hope that one day I’ll be able to slide back into the stream.

xxx

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Lucius and an Animals In Fiction Rant

I suppose I should be happy that at least I fancy blogging occasionally, even if it is only ranting.

First, Lucius. Not great news, but not lethal news either.He’s got hyperthyroidism and that means tablets for the rest of his life, probably. There is a radioactive injection which can knock it out in one hit, but I haven’t been offered that, so I’ll discus it with the vet when i go to pick up his tablets. How the hell i’m supposed to get him to eat a pill a day i have NO CLUE. He’s very savvy about Mother sticking it in his cheese/meat/egg whatever.

Also the pills are £40 a month which is a real problem, I have used the online Viovet before, so once I get the dosage sorted out I’ll research them for prices – the vets pills are horrifically marked up, the flea treatment they sold me was £27 and on Viovet was £9!!!! so, yeah. Rip off city. I know they’ve got to pay overheads and staff, but three times the price? Please justify that!

And as we are on animals (when are we not?) a short grumble about animals in fiction. SO MANY authors, including you, Diana Gabaldon, I’m looking at you!,

simply choose an animal to portray because it’s nice looking, or has a particular trait that stands out. With Gabaldon (apart from having wolves in Scotland in the Jacobite rebellion which is nonsense) it was SHEEP. Merino sheep. Perhaps she’s seen Merinos in America and thought, awww cute! (They do look like grumpy Teddy Bears wearing scarves, it’s true). BUT, they came from Spain and although they’ve been around for a while, the Spanish were hugely possessive about their animals and importation of Merinos was forbidden under pain of DEATH. So there’s no way Jamie’s sister would have had a personal flock in 1743.  There was some export internationally in the 18th century BUT these were royal beasts and the king of Spain sent them to other royalty. Not some two bit laird’s sister in Scotland!

Similarly (and I partially blame Hollywood/TV for this) so many authors love Spanish horses and they pick a famous type, such as a Andalusian and crowbar them into their books.  The Andalusian ’s history is fairly similar, they were famously guarded by the King of Spain and no animal was allowed out of the country except by his export – right up until the 1960s! So when I see the three musketeers galumphing around on them, i have a personal growl, particularly when they say how poor they are!

I was impressed by the new Poldark version though, poor Ross had some lumpy Roman nosed hunter to canter along the cliffs on and I was probably the only one who noticed the horse…. Open-mouthed smile

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No, that’s it, I’m done with Outlander/Lucius’ Health

I’m done. DONE, with Outlander. Half the way through Dragonfly in Amber and I just can’t read another word. And that infuriates me. I like to FINISH series. I even finished Dune. Yes, I did, although I was nearly sick to death by the end.

annoyedcatBut I simply can’t finish the Outlander series. It’s raising my blood pressure. There’s a WTF moment literally on every page, as Dan Brown Like, Gabaldon shoehorns a THIS IS A FACT AND I RESEARCHED IT AND YOU WILL KNOW IT TOO fact with not so gay abandon. The problem with these “facts” is that they are generally wrong—as I said in my last entry on the subject—and there’s so much wrong that I find myself checking up on every shoehorned fact just because I don’t trust her—and that doesn’t lead to restful reading. As i read mostly in bed these days, I like the experience to be restful and it ain’t, not when I’m yelling “WHAT????!!” every ten minutes.

Plus my lovely Kindle fire HD (thank you again G) which I love to pieces, is in constant danger of being thrown across the room. Perhaps one day I’ll get hold of second hand paperbacks and can try again when the only thing in danger will be the cats.

Talking of cats, Lucius isn’t well. I noticed a couple of weeks ago that his stomach was rumbling in the morning and stupidly I didn’t equate this with worms as I worm him regularly. He started to lose weight, and you know what it’s like with animals, it was gradual and one day I looked at him and realised how thin he’d become. I wormed him again and waited a week to see if he improved. Sadly he hasn’t so it was off to the vet today where I got a lecture on worming and flea treatment which made me feel like I should be a target on the RSPCA programme, then had to pay £130 for blood tests and worm and flea treatments. Serves me right. Evil pet owner.

So, he’ll get his results tomorrow, and they’ll know whether it’s anything medical like thyroid or diabetes or kidney or liver and in the meantime I’ll reworm him and hope for the best.

Fingers crossed, peeps, I lost Sevvie already, couldn’t bear to lose Lucius too.

2014-06-27 09.18.46

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there are no words

I know I should ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS read the pattern all the way through before starting knitting, but I never do.

I tend to knit one line at a time as the instructions go.

SO THIS!!!!!! made my jaw hit the deck. I had already knitted the first part (I’ve bolded for ease) when I got to the next part which then conflicted totally with the first part!

ARGH!

k to 11 st past first marker, bind off the next 46 st, leaving 11 st before next marker. When you bind off, work k2tog before you pass the previous stitch over, every second time, as follows: (K2 tog, k1, pass previous st over, k1, pass previous st over) until you have 11 st left on the needle before next marker.

i MEAN…. WTF?!

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and don’t get me started on Mr & Mrs Mary Sue.

I’m finding it harder and harder to read The Outlander series. Those who follow my Tweets (which, with the depression has been the only way I’m managing to cling onto communication with the outside world) will have noticed that the books have been making me grind my teeth. It is becoming a bit of a chore to read it, which is rare for me. For my sins, I’m a finisher, I’ll struggle on!

The book seems to be interspersed thusly:

1. cute verbiage between Mr & Mrs M. Sue which sometimes includes errors.

2. research errors

3. sex (I skip these so if there are errors there I don’t see ‘em)

4. some kind of peril which generally includes errors.

The actual story is JUST about dragging me along in its wake; It’s certainly not the kind of book that makes it a “can’t go to sleep yet until I get past this bit-page turner fascination type of thing. It’s all gone a bit dull as they loaf around in France attempting to change history (seriously, have they not heard of Paradoxes?)(surprises me, they seem to know EVERYTHING else from Latin to cypher breaking to eidetic memory knowledge of herbology)

But because of the catalogue of research errors** I’ve found SO FAR (I’m a quarter of the way through book 2), I find myself doubting every single fact that’s thrown up on the page. And that’s partly because the way she throws out “research” is so unsubtle that it stands out like a sore thumb and I find myself hitting the Browser button to check her facts:

Here’s a classic example, which had the steam coming out of my ears last night.

The bed itself was an oasis of warmth and comfort, equipped with goose-down quilts, huge fluffy pillows, and Jamie, faithfully putting out British Thermal Units like an electric storage heater.

The thing is, that sentence could have easily been described without the reference to 20th century technology – and Gabaldon probably thought she was being Oh So Clever and Anglophile by including a “British” referent.

But as she’s put in 20th century references to remind us that Claire is a child out of time WHY THE HELL didn’t she check her references? Granted, the internet wasn’t around when she wrote Dragonfly in Amber (I assume, don’t know the precise writing date, but heard that Outlander was written 20 years ago) but if you aren’t sure of a fact then don’t bloody put it in.

British Thermal Units, despite the name, is more of an American scale of heat. The British never fancied it for some reason and we use the Calorie as our unit. PLUS – STORAGE HEATERS???? They weren’t implemented into domestic homes until the 60s….

It’s (almost) excusable if there was no internet, although I don’t excuse it, because pre-internet editors should have caught many of these errors—I recall with grateful thanks and respect the grilling my editor at Running Press gave me over many many many of my facts in TRANSGRESSIONS. It seems to me that the editors of the Outlander series just accepted that anything Gabaldon wrote must be fact and that doesn’t say much for them. What I don’t understand though, is why these books haven’t been tidied up and re-edited?

It would certainly save me some enamel on my teeth.

I’ll TRY not to whine about the book any more. Although I can’t promise!

 

**SOME of the errors found so far.

Wolves in Scotland in 1743? Nope. The last wolf was recorded killed in 1680.
Claire compares many things to chipmunks. Where would she have seen a chipmunk?
They travel from Scotland “across the channel” in about 3 hours to France. I think she forgot an entire country was in the way!
Additionally, their friend “ferries” wines and spirits across “the channel” from Scotland. Sigh.

So many more, modern euphemisms such as “do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dollars” which is more wrong than I can be bothered to say

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knitting and there's leek soup for lunch

:D

if you caught my last blog you'll get that reference. Have knitted two puffs this morning and for lunch there is roast chicken breast and buttered leeks.  I'm quite obsessed with leeks at the moment - amazingly versatile and mean I don't have to use onions. I use them in casseroles, have them buttered (chop leeks into inch thick slices, add a BIG dollop of butter, close the pan and simmer for an hour on a low heat), and I've used them in a lasagna instead of the pasta which works really well!

Bear with me, this blog--as promised--is likely to be dull: knitting, food, pets, TV, films for a while, but hoping that the mere use of the blog will spark something in my brain to get me able to open Word and have a look at the WIPs I have. I have at least 3, all of which I would really love to get cracking on, but my brain is so completely empty of writing it's worrying. It's like I've never written before, and when I do read something I've written I'm often baffled "did i REALLY write that? HOW?"

When they come to make a biopic of my life, this bit is going to be difficult to film. LOL.

I watched Interstellar the other day and was entirely baffled with it. Sadly, although it was 3 hours long I felt it actually rushed some moments which was ironic. It was really a film where I thought "there's 3 hours I won't get back." I dare say it was hoping to be the 2001 Space Odyssey of its time but failed miserably in that respect. It was pretty much as baffling though and the robots were frankly silly--although quite useful -- they would have all died pretty soon without them. Silly film and wish I hadn't bothered with it.

Finally - if you use Dragon Cave could you breed some flamingos for me?  Please?
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voices in the dark

So, here I go, pulling myself up by the fingertips, slowly up the sides of the hole I seem to have been in for many many many months. I'm making no promises as to "what I'll do and when I'll do it by" but as we all know, the journey starts with a single step, and if you never make that step (even if you have to make it several times...) you'll never get to Elrond's Gaff.

So, yeah. (imagine me making an awkward motion here, like rubbing the back of my neck or something-Disney heroes tend to do it a lot when embarrassed) depression. Yeah.

It is not nice.

If you've never had it, thank your lucky stars, pray to whatever being you believe in that you'll never get it and trip happily away, keeping only to the sunny side of the street.

Never understood that phrase in reality until now.

If you have had it, well, you know where I've been. Or am. The jury is still out as to whether I've been let out or not, or whether this is merely day release for good behaviour.

Today, for the first time in - to be frank, I don't even remember, and that's the truth - I feel more like normal than I have for whatever time length was. If you get me. As you can probably tell, I'm not terribly coherent either, which is probably a side-effect of the depression and/or not actually speaking to anyone in real life other than about once a week.

I think I knew I was really ill when I just couldn't write. I don't mean writing fiction, I mean even writing in my journal. Writing Stuff Down has always been a part of my life, diaries were being written when I was a teen (I bet they were gripping reading) and I've usually written a journal in some form or other. So when I couldn't even force myself to open the laptop, or if I had done that, couldn't face opening ANY programme which invited me to exercise the fingers, I kind of knew something was badly wrong.

It's hard to explain, it was (I'm using the past tense in a purely optimistic way) like a phobia. My BRAIN literally shied away from the computer, or at least those involved in communication which meant that I wasn't emailing-hardly even IM-ing (thereby losing touch with so many friends) except when I really worked hard at it, perhaps once a week. I have no idea why my brain was doing this to me - no one's explained it to me, all I got from my doctor was "Here, have some pills" - which will be no surprise to anyone who remembers me talking about my doctor.

I was offered counselling, which I went along to - this year? No, last year (I think). It was "Cognitive Behaviour Therapy" which appears to be encouraging people to do things they used to do to break them out of the rut.

I found a couple of major problems with this. If you are depressed you LOSE INTEREST in doing the things you used to do. I couldn't write - I couldn't even read. I didn't want to go out anywhere, I didn't want to talk to people, doing anything I used to do made me feel ill so how the hell was CBT supposed to help? The other major thing I didn't get was that the course was being run by two guys who had never had depression, so I couldn't see how they could understand one thing my brain was doing.

I skipped week two I'd been told they'd send me the course notes and homework and someone would ring me to talk - but they never did so obviously I never went back. That's all the counselling I was offered - that's all that's available here, evidently. Anything else you have to pay for.

Going out is hard. And remains hard. I wake up every single morning and think to myself: "Do I have to go anywhere today?" (other than taking Sasha out, that's indelible) and if the answer is "No" which is normally is then I feel more relaxed. Even the task of posting a letter is "going somewhere" and is an Expedition. Clothes have to be presentable, cash has to be found, brave face put on etc etc.  Going out has become a chore. Consequently I haven't been to see Dad since the summer - and although he no longer knows who I am, the vicious circle of guilt=depression=can't go out=guilt rolls around and around.

What's odd is I can't remember the past two years. Partly because every day has been pretty much the same, I suppose. I hear over and over people saying last year - or the year before? Was the hottest for ages and ages and I have no recollection of that. You'd think I'd remember the heat, but I really can't.

What's helped me get through? In no particular order:

1. Eating healthily (I've been eating clean, low-carb, although I've been drinking a lot so haven't lost any more weight). Learning to eat well and cooking and so on has helped me learn at last how to shop, how to eat normal portions and how to eat 3 times a day. Sounds simple doesn't it? But when you've never done that, just eaten what you like when you like, it's been hard to learn but I know now I have a habit that will last me forever.

2. Friends. Much better friends than I deserve. Elin, Henri and Gehayi, Lee. They've been patient. Never given me any pressure, just continued to stay in touch at my pace and been THERE. Never allowed to completely cut myself off, which I've been trying to do. Thank God for them.

3. Animals. Without the animals I wouldn't get getting up. Or getting up eating and going back to bed. Lili starts shouting at sevenish and doesn't SHUT UP, Lucius comes and sits on me and washes, aggressively, causing me to bounce up and down and as soon as I start to move I get a ton of happy waggy licky staffy-cross bounding all over me. Because of Sasha I have to go out of the house. Every single day, rain or shine and it's very hard to feel down when someone is this happy.
IMG2294. Knitting. Most definitely Displacement Behaviour, but I've knitting almost constantly every single day. The house is filling up with hats, scarves mittens and god knows what. I have parcels I should have posted before Christmas (see earlier point about going out) full of knitted stuff and I feel it's really helped. It's stopped me spending ALL of my time playing pointless PC games (not fun stuff like Assassin's Creed, it seems my lust for great adventure games went the same way as my love for reading) but pointless crap like Candy Crush, Molehill and crap like that. But knitting has at least stopped me from doing them too much and has kept my fingers agile.

Long long story short, I feel a little better, and even to say that to myself and to anyone is a huge step forward. I did some housework today (another thing that has been ignored) although don't get excited it was like rubbing an inch of ice off the windscreen the size of The Shard. I need an obsessive compulsive cleaner, but I ain't going to go to Channel Four for one.

We'll see how things go. No promises about "blogging every day" because I've just about filled you in with "my news" for the past 2 years in one blog post. Days of "I'm knitting and had leek soup for lunch" isn't going to amuse anyone. But I'm on the way up. If you look down the rabbit hole you might not be able to see me climbing, but if you shout down, I might be able to hear you.

Hopefully.
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Had a nice surprise today

Which makes a nice surprise in itself.

Although I have been eating low-carb all year I have had problems with giving up alcohol entirely and I'd been eating too much cheese too so I knew I wasn't losing weight. I had given up weighing myself since February and I knew I'd put on weight. In fact i was quite sure I had put all the weight back on and that depressed me quite a lot. On top of depression, very nice...

So it was a great surprise to finally being brave enough to get on the scales today to find that I hadn't put all the weight back on, and had "only" (this being subjective!) put on 17 pounds -- when I had originally lost 50, so I still feel I'm winning.

So I'm back on the low-carb now, without cheese (too much of a temptation) and I'm not going to be stupid enough to say "I can give up the wine entirely" because I know I can't - so I'm going to have some fortnightly and look forward to it.

Once I'm below where I was before I'll do a bit more celebration, but now I KNOW I can do it, and in the year I've been practising this food regime I've got it down to a fine art of 30 carbs maximum a day and I love what I eat. I've (finally) learned to eat three meals a day, I'm eating five-a-day (typical, just when they say it should be 7-10) and I've learned to have PORTIONS not make enough for six and eat enough for six. (although to be frank, the way I've done THAT is to cook enough for one each day. More time consuming I know, but it means I only eat my portion for the day, not the entire supply for the week.

So, onward and downward. :D