Saturday, 28 September 2013

Friday, 27 September 2013

Mushroom watch: harvest time

I took this photo on Monday:

And this one today, five days later. There are more little nubbules coming down the side of the book, too. It seems amazing that an unwanted historical romance has been turned into edible protein.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Wendy House Wednesday: culling Facebook

Well that was an incredibly satisfying exercise. I attacked Facebook. For some reason I am friends with a number of fictional characters. They all went. And anyone whose name was unfamiliar.

I also had time to have a go at my lists. This is an incredibly useful Facebook feature which allows you to share items only with certain people -- I use it to avoid horrifying non-parents with questions about newborn poo colour; and so that I can share local lost dog / teenager posts only with people near home. Here are the instructions in Facebook help for adding and removing people from lists.

Another useful lists feature is the Acquaintances list -- this allows you to see less of certain people's posts in your timeline. So if you've got a friend who is always going on about... eg (trying to think of a fictional example so as not to offend anyone) er... Fireman Sam, you can silence them. Here is some more information.

Wendy House Wednesday: Culling

The instructions are:
  • Don't over-think. 
  • Spend no more than 15 minutes. 
  • It doesn't have to be perfect.
Cull a friends list on a social networking site. Fifteen minutes… GO!

Wendy House Wednesday: a lot of lists.

I was thinking about the order things get done in this house. Sometimes I get it wrong -- unimportant things get done before important things; I spend far too much time on things that are not necessary and that I don't enjoy.

My activities fall into some general categories:

  • Children care (feeding, cuddling, playing, nappies, activities, planning)
  • House care (cooking, tidying, cleaning, shopping, washing)
  • Self care (washing, dressing, exercising, drinking water, resting
  • Husband care (hanging out, chatting, cuddling, oiling the wheels)
  • Writing work and self-development (blogs, courses, reflection, reading)
  • Garden care (weeding, pottering, watering, harvesting)
  • Play (reading, computer games, socialising on and off line, shopping)

This list roughly reflects the order of priority, and the order things get done. Self care comes high up the list because if I'm not well fed and rested and hydrated then I can't do anything else. Husband care comes high up as well as it's a way of making sure we stay connected -- we wrote our own wedding vows and specifically promised, among other things, to "cherish the bond of love between us".

In the past I've had a bit of fun with lists so I'm going to note down all the activities that fall under these categories. I want to examine what really needs to be done; and what I really enjoy (or don't enjoy).

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Wendy House Wednesday: releasing books

I was ill on Wednesday and spent the rest of the week trying to catch up. I have just managed to get some books ready for book crossing -- it didn't take much longer than 15 minutes. I remembered that I had some bookplate labels left over from last time -- they were in my filing system under 'B' (for bookplates or possibly bookcrossing).

I decided to go the official route and use and I've added a Tinyurl link back to the original blogpost. I haven't decided where to leave them yet but will take one next time I go out. The weather is fine and dry this weekend so I might brave an outdoor release.

22 September edit: Released book one.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Wendy House Wednesday: Bookcrossing

The instructions are:
  • Don't over-think. 
  • Spend no more than 15 minutes. 
  • It doesn't have to be perfect.
Read and Release at Bookcrossing one of your unwanted books. I love leaving books around and wondering who will pick them up. I've never had any of my releases reported through the site, though. My aunt has had a lot more success doing it privately through her blog, and before I ever heard of bookcrossing formally I had great fun with my writing friend Sarah dropping books around the park on a sunny afternoon.

Pick a book you no longer want. Put a sticky note on the front explaining that anyone can pick it up and take it home. You could register it with and download an official bookplate, or not as you please. I'm going to put a note with a link to this post in the front cover. Perhaps the finder will drop by and say hi. Put it by the front door and take it with you to release next time you go out.

Update here.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Wendy House Wednesday: my to-read piles

I have a lot of to-read piles dotted  around. If a book isn't shelved, it's probably waiting to be read by me. My orderly husband must finds this system trying, particularly as some of the books belong to him, but he is very kind and holds his peace.

This pile (left) features The Hunger Games which my little sister strongly recommended, and I am determined to read. There's a book about descriptive writing in the pile -- I didn't get on with it at all. It's going to the charity shop. There's the Bettany Hughes Socrates book which I started while I was pregnant but couldn't manage. It belongs to Nick, so I'm going to re-shelve it, along with the other two books, both of which I've read.

Further along the same shelves (right) we have some Conans -- I have a weakness for pulp fiction and I always have a few of Robert E. Howard's prehistoric adventures on hand for times of stress.

There's Fiona Robyn's excellent A Year Of Questions, which I now own as an e-book, so I'm shelving that. I'll work through it again when things are less roller-coasterish.

Carnevale by MR Lovric -- I started and then begun a course that involved lots of reading. By the time I'd got through this I was pregnant and the heroine had her newborn son taken from her and I couldn't face reading on. I'm shelving it and will return to it once I've finished the baby years because it's excellent, sensual and sensuous and set in a fantastically sexy and exotic historic Venice.

The three Wilbur Smith books -- I devoured River God while travelling round Africa and thought I'd like to read the sequels. Maybe one day, but not now. Charity shop, as they are easy peasy to get hold of.

Nick recommended these (left) because I like large sci fi novels about other worlds but I couldn't get on with them. Not going to feel guilty about it. I'm not.
These, on the left, are some writing books. I keep a stash handy and read one whenever I feel writerly. I'll get through them in due course.

This is a pile up in Nick's room. There are some (borrowed) poetry books which I must to put in the basket by my nursing chair because that is where I read poetry at the moment, and one poetry book which is destined for the charity shop.

Dawkins' The Magic of Reality is for Alec when he's older, but I thought I'd read it too. It explains science in clear terms and I love Dave McKean's illustrations, but it left me with the same slightly dirty feeling I got when I discovered that the Narnia books are an allegory for Christianity. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials made me feel the same way. It needs to go back in Alec's bookshelf.

Memoirs of a Geisha I pulled out to check something and it needs shelving again. There's another paperback Conan which I've read so it's going to the charity shop; and that big black Complete Conan was Nick's gift to me to say thank you for Alec. I'm still working on that.

Rebel Heart is a sequel to Moira Young's Blood Red Road, a post apocalyptic dystopian story with a fascinating strong female voice. I loved it and raved about it. I got halfway through Rebel, got pregnant and just couldn't fancy it any more. Same with Stephen Hunt's The Court of the Air -- another excellent world, weird and steampunky, very dark and not quite like anything else I've ever read. I'l shelve both of them and try again later.

This was an instructive exercise. It's very freeing to state, "I will not read this" and take control of what goes into my head. I should do it more often -- before the piles start looking so untidy.

Good night, Galatea.

So, we left Galatea fretting at the chains that bound her to her dull home life and her steady, kind betrothed Tyrion. This gaming session started with Tyrion's disappearance. He'd left  on his work bench a roughed out carving made from an irridescent wood that no-one can identify. Everyone was mystified -- he's shown no inclination towards disappearing or sculpting before.

Galatea goes out to look for him and on the road is surprised to be jumped and enthusiastically kissed. It's Tyrion, but there's a strange light in his eyes and a strange giggling tone to his laugh. When she demands an explanation he prances off into the woods, still giggling.

Galatea, her family and Tyrion's are now very concerned. Their only lead is this green wood, which came in on a special shipment ordered by Tyrion. When it is suggested that the wise trees at the Grove of the Ancients might be able to help, Galatea jumps at the chance to go adventuring again save her fiancĂ©. She sets out with a sample of the wood, hiring a riding cat along the way. At the Grove of the Ancients they point her towards the Dryads at Rainfell, telling her to talk to Romulin.

An uneventful journey (apart from picking up a bit of info about her friends Panril, Tomalok, Tikka and Honrid from a helpful innkeeper) brought her to the dryads. Romulin advised her that she had a spell stuck to her (a leftover from her previous adventures). He took it off; and then listened to her account of her fiance's transformation.

The wood is cursed, it seems, and the poison is slowly turning Tyrion into a satyr. He will probably try to make for Satyrnar but he can be saved if Galatea is able to intercept him and administer an antidote before the transformation is complete. It's a tall order -- the road to Satyrnar passes close by a Hoard camp.

That night the Dryads are invaded by fierce fuzzballs -- Galatea joins in the fight and acquits herself well (despite some awful rolls).

The next day, however, the dice turned against her -- she met with two orcs on the road and though she contemplated trying to sneak round them, decided that she'd been spotted and would have to face them directly. It was not a good encounter, and she didn't make it out the other side.

It's gutting when your character dies and Meredith was just as distressed by this turn of events. We briefly discussed bringing Galatea back to life -- we both felt we'd invested in her and grown fond of her; but there seemed to be no authentic way of doing it. This world is dangerous: the weapons are real; the wounds are real. I mourned, shrugged and moved on -- it's the gambling aspect of RPG. The more you invest in a character, the more you get out of the game; and the more you invest the higher the stakes at every combat. High stakes make for exciting gaming -- I get a real adrenalin rush from risking a character I've worked hard at, and real feelings for relief when they survive a tricky encounter.

We rolled up a new character, Sylvya Starshade, another Night Elf with itchy feet, but a rogue this time. She was following Galatea to practise her rogue skills and witnessed her death. She raids Galatea's pack and makes off with her stuff, notably the  +1AC necklace and the Snowdrop Robe. She can't use the robe herself -- too cumbersome -- but she is thinking she might get a reward from Galatea's family if she brings the sad news to them and the robe will act as proof.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Wendy House Wednesday: Not going to read this

Interrogate your to read pile. Anything that doesn’t look interesting any more can go; loans that you only took out of politeness to go back from whence they came. Which books have been gathering dust on your bedside table?

The instructions are:
  • Don't over-think. 
  • Spend no more than 15 minutes. 
  • It doesn't have to be perfect.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Mushroom farm: mycelium

This rather inept photo (you can see why I write such a lot, can't you) shows the mycelium, the vegetative part of the oyster mushrooms. Mushrooms that we eat, the caps and stalks that we see above ground, are just the fruiting bodies of a fungus. The mycelium is what takes care of the real business of living, and probably a fungus would think of itself as mycelium with a few mushrooms on top, rather than mushrooms with a lot of mycelium underneath. It's made up of a lot of fluffy white threads but it's hard to differentiate them because -- my mushroom farm is rather squashed by the plastic bag (some of the other shots, the really good ones that got lost because I took them without putting the card back in the camera, had a rather Twin Peaksish look about them). The orange ticket is a sticky note to let our cleaning lady know that the mouldy book in a plastic bag is not rubbish.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Wendy House Wednesday

This is the first in a series of Wednesday household hints and tips. I'm going to try to follow them myself. The instructions are:
  • Don't over-think.
  • Spend no more than 15 minutes.
  • It doesn't have to be perfect.
Clean out your bread bin. Empty it. Give it a wipe and an airing. Re-wrap anything that needs it. Chuck anything that isn’t going to get eaten and dispose of empty wrappers. Check the freezer for bread that should be defrosted and used soon. Note anything you’ve run out of on the shopping list. Now go and feed the ducks.