Argh! Magical Death Weed SEEDLINGS!

Ok so, I think I’m pushing the scary-seed theme a bit beyond it’s ability to terrify, so this will be the last post on the subject until either a Triffid flower forms or it starts releasing toxic gas and I find lots of dead flies scattered around it.

For anyone who missed the hooha, here are my previous blogs on the subject:

Ahem. So the photo above shows the seedlings poking up from the mysterious Chinese seeds that I received. They look pretty much like normal seedlings. Those are just the seed leaves poking up, so I’ll have to wait a bit to see the true leaves and maybe work out what they are. No dead flies yet.

End of update! 🙂

Fighting the worry habit

Ever since I had that messed up accident a thousand bloody years ago I’ve had anxiety. I think it’s as much a habit now as anything. My body just acts like something terrible is happening, no matter how untrue that is. Even taking a rest, my back tenses up as if I’m about to lift weights. If my hands aren’t active, I’ll pick and bite at my fingers until they bleed. And much as I try, I can’t stop gritting my teeth. Ever.

At one point I caused a huge lump to appear on my jaw from clenching my teeth and until recently I had pretty much constant pain in my back/shoulders except for when working (I actually avoided time off because I’d wind up in too much pain.)

However, I’m not writing this to complain, I promise, more to share two things that have helped me recently, and might also be an answer to stress for some others out there. I’m not totally fixed, but they’ve definitely helped.

Yoga

The first is yoga, which I’ve tried many times before and never liked. I think the difference this time is:

  • doing it on my own so I’m not worrying about if I’m any good, instead just concentrating on my body and how it feels.
  • even doing yoga at home, I’d do it in a foolishly small space. Now I do it in a bigger room where I can actually spread out a bit (I do still end up hitting the sofa or kicking the wall quite often, but it’s a definite improvement.)
  • using videos of someone who doesn’t irritate me and deals specifically with the problems I have with my back. The videos are by Yogini Melbourne. She is soothing, detailed in what she says, and manages to give simple options for those of us who have a tendency to fall over. She also provides plenty of time to have a little rest, especially at the beginning of a video. When I don’t feel like doing anything active, I tell myself it’ll be an excuse to have a little lie down, which is a great incentive.

Fiddlesticks

The other thing I’ve started doing is playing with worry beads and it stops me biting my fingers, which means I no longer get so tense. I started with a broken bracelet a few weeks ago, putting it back together as a string (the bottom one in the photo.) Then today I made the top two. With the middle one I went all out and added a spring and then some different sized cogs and nuts that I had, which makes it a bit like a baby’s rattle, a step up from worry beads. I figure the top and bottom beads are for general distraction, but the rattle is for more complex thought. Like Sherlock and his three-pipe problems, I sometimes have worry-rattle problems.

Now these are intense times, so I hope none of you are too stressed. But if you get anxious what are your ways of dealing with it?

Magical Death Weed Seeds: new evidence?

Photo from this great article about the plant prop from Day of the Triffids

I’ve been a bit shoddy posting recently, and I’m sure that many of you have been wondering: What about those mysterious Chinese seeds? Did they turn out to be Triffids?

Well there have been a few new revelations about the seeds, so I’m going to put an article up for any of you who’ve been wondering. There have actually been a few articles posted, mostly saying OH MY GOD, WHAT ARE THESE! WHERE HAVE THEY COME FROM? WHAT DO THEY WANT? DON’T PLANT THEM, WHATEVER YOU DO! A few countries have received them now: Canada, US, Australia, Ireland and UK – all English speaking countries, no idea if that’s significant.

https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/government-identifies-some-of-the-mysterious-seeds-posted-from-china-1014055.html

One detail in the article is that the seeds come from Vanuatu as well as China, which aren’t two countries I think of as being connected. The article suggests we ‘avoid planting the seeds’ which is pleasantly mild, so I won’t set fire to the pot on my windowsill yet. It seems there are a few different species in the packets. Bamboo would have been nice and I like a Petunia, but I don’t think mine are either, so they may still be Triffids. It’s still unknown as to why the seeds have been sent – although the ‘brushing’ scam is mostly likely. Apparently the US are having an investigation and China are helping.

I will post more details, should any appear.

London of the Plague

Last week the heat turned my brain to porridge and shriveled all the plants to dust. I didn’t post because I was too grumpy.

London looked sinister this morning

But now it’s cooler, greyer and my brain got impatient because I haven’t been on a proper adventure into London since lockdown began. So off I went.

I’ve been studying tunnels and catacombs under London recently and came across a place called Leake Street. This is a tunnel going under the platforms of Waterloo station, where graffiti is legal. It sounded like the kind of place I should know about, so I assumed I must have been there and forgotten. I was wrong.

I went today, I’ve never been before and it was ace, but a tiny bit creepy early in the morning.

You could see history in the walls. Layers of images piled up expressing rage, sadness, disgust and joy with life. Lots of current events (of course plenty of covid comment) and delight in colour and shapes.

Bit of anti-vac rage

I found this great blog showing the graffiti on the walls each day as they change – 100 Days of Leake Street.

Next week, more tunnels under London (albeit less colourful ones).

The Perfect Plot

Love this story. One day, i too shall train my plants to be attack dogs!

Short Stories | Fish-eye Perspective

Author’s note: This story was inspired by a post by Petra Jacobs about the Mysterious Magical Death-Weed Seedson her site Inkbiotic, and the follow up discussions in her comments section.

It was the perfect plot. In the nursery itself, I could see it unfolding in my mind’s eye, as I bought the seeds of the exotic plant–an anniversary gift for my wife of 7 years–a gardening-enthusiast with a huge Greenhouse full of other exotic plants.

This one’s a quick-growing African vine with bright red-green leaves. It is no secret that all plants are sensitive to the moods and emotions of people around it. This plant took this sensitivity to another level. It used it as a defence mechanism against anyone who intended to hurt it–it strangles them.

Imagine my wife approaching this vine with a pair of clippers to chop off errant leaves…

I took great joy in visualising the…

View original post 188 more words

Trod in a bees’ nest!

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This is not as melodramatic as it may sound.

I was dead heading roses (does any gardener actually like roses? They’re shitty, fussy, spiky plants) and I stepped back and felt my foot slip into a slight hole. I walked back and looked down to see twenty or so bees come tumbling out of the hole. I was ready to run, ready for the stings, but nothing.

None of them stung me. Not a one!

They were a bit smaller than usual honey bees. At first I thought they might be hover flies, which mimic wasps, but have no sting, but they were too fluffy. My boss reckoned they might be leaf-cutter bees, which are awesome fellas.

In fact I have a theory that now many of the usual bee species are becoming extinct, leaf cutter bees (and other less common ones) are increasing in numbers to fill the space. Look out for small , neat semi-circular holes missing in leaves – that’s the leaf cutter bee.

OR alternatively, I am now Queen of the bees and none shall sting me. It is true I once stood in a swarm of killer bees (I think) and didn’t get stung. Unfortunately everything else is still attacking me and a colleague asked if I’d been bitten by a wolf because of the huge red and purple bruise that came up on my leg after getting stung by something that wasn’t a bee.

And these are the kind of rambling thoughts that gardeners have.

In other news: no sign of evil pea seedlings yet.

Have you been stung much this year?

Peas? Evil peas?

evil peas
It seems that the evil of peas has made it into a book. Good.

I planted some of my mysterious Chinese seeds today (post about them here) – the ones that have newspapers like the Express all in a flap (I wonder if Express journalists are as hysterical as their headlines, or if they just see every situation as potential clickbait).

express seeds

But it seems I’m too late, because I posted up that I’d sowed them on my work Whatsapp and it turns out my boss got some of the seeds too. And she sowed them ages ago! And they grew! And they’re peas! Peas!

Now I have an all encompassing hatred of peas, little green bastards. So I take back anything reasonable I said about China. This is an invasion! They are evil geniuses! They want to ruin all dinners with pea juice (because that is the evil of peas), so that we become hungry and grumpy and subduing us will be easy. I know I’m going to have trouble convincing others of this plot. Logically it may not make sense, but in my heart, I know the truth.

And I’m still going to grow the seeds.

Great review for Supernice!

supernice-cover

So the talented and delightful Shameful Narcissist wrote a review of my book Supernice  (to be found on the link to the right). With whatever she’s reviewing, she tends to be thoughtful and entertaining, and it just so happens she likes my writing. So Yay!

A funny and gripping story about a tyrannical alien invasion in a sleepy seaside town.

Chirpy YouTuber Nick and his cynical teenage daughter Natasha have their lives thrown into turmoil one afternoon when the walls start swallowing people. Over the next week, more and more are snatched away, until the announcement is made: Earth is under new management. Aliens have taken control and they’re not happy with how humans have been behaving.

The new leaders introduce a series of increasingly oppressive rules. Make a single mistake and you’ll be taken away – to be transformed into an upstanding member of the community.
An upstanding, smiling member of the community with a brain like mashed potato.

As their town, and the world, are thrown into chaos and the streets are filled with grinning automatons, Nick and Natasha each find their own way to deal with the horror. Nick becomes a YouTube celebrity, convincing the public to behave. Natasha joins a makeshift rebellion working out how to dodge the alien demands. Each wants the best for the other, but they end up on opposing sides in humanity’s most vital and bizarre battle.

Will they ever be united against the real enemy? Will the human race become the docile drones that the aliens want? Or is universal niceness an impossible and undesirable dream?

Supernice reveals the disparity between how the younger and older generations view and deal with an alien invasion, and the author showcases this early in Nick and Natasha, the father and daughter MCs whose perspectives the narrative bounces between.  This isn’t to say neither of their viewpoints change/evolve, but it is fascinating to witness how easily some people are taken in for the benefits, while others, while afforded and seemingly offered some of the same, understand the deeper implications sooner and reject them despite the cost.

This is one of those stories where the bad happening seems almost good, similar to the sentiment of “we’re the virus” in response to the current global pandemic.

People are forced to be nice, which sounds wonderful until you realize people are forced to be nice, and just like it is in our reality, it will be the children who save us, a frankly terrible burden to put on them, which we should all be embarrassed about.  However, if YA fiction has taught me anything it’s that the younger generation is more than up to the task.

Every single book I’ve read by this author is better than the last, which says a lot as Riddled With Senseswas excellent as was Peddling Doomsday.  Her take on current culture becomes more acerbic and accurate with each addition to her body of work, because what happens at the end is exactly what we’d see (and have seen) in the real world.  The mindset of frightened people who either don’t know know or who have forgotten how to critically think as well as mob mentality would inevitably lead to this conclusion.  There would also be profiteers, because nothing causes roaches to crawl out of the woodwork than a major disruption.

5 stars.

The blog itself The Shameful Narcissist

Mysterious Magical Death-Weed Seeds

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Mysterious seeds

CNN –

States are warning people about suspicious packages of seeds that appear to be from China

I was reading the above story – how lots of gardeners across the US (and also UK) are randomly being sent unlabeled seeds from China and this is causing panic. The recipients are warned DON’T SOW THEM, WHATEVER YOU DO! CALL THE POLICE! STEP AWAY FROM THE SEEDS!

I was thinking that sounded interesting. And then I thought, Wait a minute! I’ve got some of those. So I went to my fridge and pulled out the little baggy of seeds in the photo.

How did I get them? Well during the lockdown I bought a load of seeds online – Coleus, Thunbergia, a few Cosmos for work. Partly to have something to put in my garden, partly for something to do. I thought they’d all arrived, but then an unmarked box arrived with this bag inside. No note or receipt, no email telling me I was getting a parcel, and no indication of what the seeds were. I assumed it was some I’d forgotten, and put them in the fridge since it was too late to plant them for this year.

I’m fairly sure that they are the seeds in the article, since they have the exact same label as the ones in this article. So I think I’ve been sent seeds from China as part of some, what? Attempt at an invasion? Are they triffids? I showed them too a friend and he said, ‘They don’t look like seeds, more like electronic circuits.’ Fabulous.

There’s talk that they are part of a scam called ‘brushing’, which is a way of getting reviews by sending people things and then stealing their details. To be honest it doesn’t make much sense to me – if they’ve already got access to my Amazon account, then surely they can post a review without giving me stuff. And it must cost a fortune to give away so many free seeds. So I am still not sure.

Just to add, I’m joining in with this because I love the mystery, but I’m still wary of these China are Evil stories that are so popular. It’s true that China is something of a superpower now, which means other (failing) superpowers such as the UK and the US feel threatened, and that leads to our media spreading fear. On the other hand, what is reported as happening to the Uighurs in China is horrific, so I’m not sure their government is especially benevolent. But the shittiness of a government definitely doesn’t mean the people of that country are shitty (I really hope or I’m screwed too). And I know plenty of Chinese people who are lovely. So an addendum to this seed mystery is: is this an innocent mistake that UK/US press are distorting to spread ill-feeling about China? Or are these robot-controlled, demon-summoning, mind-controlling, triffid seeds?

I’m going to have to plant the seeds, aren’t I?

 

 

Abandoned London

Londo2

It occurred to me walking to work today, that London may never look this empty again once the virus is over, so I took a couple of photos. Although Dan reckons that London is changed forever now, the people won’t return.

‘So London will become a rotting husk? Just the occasional cyclist and confused tourist wandering about?’ I asked. He nodded.

Okey doke. We know the movies and the TV series, the plague comes and the busy city life never returns. We end up huddled around a camp fire roasting cockroaches on sticks and trying to open a tin of beans with a plastic spork. And yes, I am aware of how melodramatic I am, it doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

LONDON