Dagnamnit!

I was doing a lot of watering today. Apparently it dissolved the glue holding my boot together. All of a sudden, my boot was flapping. I was at a garden in the middle of nowhere and had no shoes to change into. Fortunately, a colleague had a spare hairband I could wrap around it. And then I had to limp home on the train, trying to not lose the sole on my shoe altogether.

Other news, I was on an escalator with some teenagers this morning and one of them pressed the emergency stop button. It wasn’t much of an emergency stop, more of a carry on for thirty seconds then trundle to a halt button. The teenagers ran off, and the five staff who all came out running a moment later paid no attention to me, but started shouting into their radios about where the kids had gone. So if you want to get away with pressing the red button, make sure there are some teenagers around who’ll get the blame.

And those are the most interesting things about my day! How about you?

Tales of Bees and Blood

Bee on a string
Image from https://richardlomax.bandcamp.com/track/bee-on-a-string

Mateo doesn’t talk much, but occasionally he just won’t stop. Today was one of those days and I got to hear some great stories of life in the Basque country.

DON’T EVER DO THIS! But

…one of my favourites was about how when he was young, Mateo would get some extra thin fishing wire, tie it around a bumble bee, and the bee would fly along beside him on the end of the wire like a balloon or an upside down dog. Occasionally the bee would get tired and sit on his shoulder, but after a while he would flick it and it would fly up on the end of the wire again.

DON’T DO THIS EITHER

He also told us a story about his dad playing as a kid.

‘When my dad was eight, he and his friend didn’t have any toys. So his friend would swing around this thing.’ Mateo mimed something swinging round. ‘And my dad would jump over it.’

‘You mean a skipping rope?’ I suggested.

‘A stick? A pole?’ said Dan.

‘No you use it to cut corn,’ said Mateo. ‘And Death has one.’

‘A scythe? They’d jump over a scythe?’ asked Dan, slightly high-pitched, as we start to realise where this might be going.

‘Yes,’ said Mateo. ‘But then it went wrong and he didn’t jump at the right time. So the scythe went into his leg. And it was deep, you know. Like muscles and tendons cut, and blood everywhere. I saw the scar and it went half way round his leg. But this was during the Spanish civil war and there were no doctors around, so my dad went back to his dad. His dad got a load of vinegar and a load of salt and filled the hole in his leg and then sewed it up with a needle and thread.’

Me and Dan were wincing quite a lot by this point.

‘It was weird too, eh?’ went on Mateo. ‘Because if you get a cut that deep, and cut the tendons, it shouldn’t ever recover. Your leg is never ok again. But he was fine, all he had was the scar .’

Answering Socrates: Part 2

Shaily answered my questions! And the answers are ace. 🙂

A quote from it:

One of my frequent dream destinations is an ancient temple on a mountain. Not sure what deity or what religion…but it calls to me. It is dark, mysterious and beyond time. I only get to see it from a distance though. Every time, I spend all my time trying to reach it–walking up the mountain road, sometimes trying to persuade my companions that it is worth it but failing, sometimes stuck in the small colorful market that falls in the way wasting precious hours, and sometimes climbing up and down a maze of overpopulated stairs.

She also writes great short stories, sometimes sad, often beautiful, and posts fascinating nature from India, so have a wander through her blog. You won’t regret it.

For anyone else who fancies answering some questions about their writing, here they are:

Do your dreams ever give you inspiration for stories? If so can you describe one that has?

Do you feel comfortable writing characters of other races/ genders or with extreme experiences you’ve never had? What are your no go areas for characters?

Have you ever written anything that you wouldn’t write now? What was it and what’s changed?

How about a genre? Do you always stick to the same one? Is there a genre you’d like to work in, but don’t know how?

If you’ve written a novel, what was your method? did you plan it all out beforehand with flow charts and lists? Or did you have a vague idea of what would happen and just start writing?

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!

IMG_20200713_134654

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.