Sometimes I have a need to whinge - a desire to complain - and a blog is always a handy place to do it, although I try not to use blog posts solely to vent my spleen (as they say) and to whinge about things that annoy me.
Today I was in the mood to whinge but decided to attempt a happy blog instead – but no happy subject matter popped into my mind, so I checked my ‘blog idea’ list, kept in a secret nook in my computer memory. Oh, dear, I only found complaints, so, not having a happy idea of my own, I Googled ‘Inspirations for blogs’ – or something like that. There were a few sites, mostly rubbish. One had a very long list of suggestions, with a few added comments of praise and thanks at the end. (I didn’t add to that). I think it was called ‘Don’t know what to blog about?’ (Sigh), the list of boring and predictable suggestions was not really the imaginative prompt I was hoping for, so it was back to my own list and on to a couple of whinges. They’re not too awful and not all that bad - just aggravating things.
The first of these is the annoying practise of television announcers saying, “And now we cross live to …… at ….”
Here they have related a story about (say) a court case that happened during the day, then, to add gravitas (or whatever) to a lame story, they position a reporter outside the court house to add a bit more information. No matter that the court case has been over for five hours and now it’s dark and you can only see a lighted part of the courthouse building behind the LIVE reporter who is informing the tv viewers about the day’s trial or verdict, or whatever went on there several hours prior.
Two questions: One, why is it necessary to have a reporter at (or sometimes only vaguely near) the scene of what occurred earlier, to talk about it? And, two, why is this person always announced as being ‘LIVE’? Well, of course they’re live! Does ‘live’ actually just mean ‘right now’? Or are they reassuring us that the reporter is not dead? I don’t get it!
The other current whinge I have is often also associated with television reporting and is the use of the word, ‘impact’, when the word should be ‘affect’.
Saying ‘impact’ where ‘affect’ would (should!) do produces such statements as, “Wet weather would impact the children’s holiday” or “The wrong decision impacted the family’s health.”
Wet weather might affect the children’s holiday and a wrong decision might affect a family’s health, but IMPACT?
“Forceful contact” or “collision” seem to be the main dictionary meanings of ‘impact’. How about restoring the word to its proper usage?
I’ve been working on a memoir for nearly ten years. Well, it could even be more than ten years, who knows? Certainly not me - I’m just the writer.
Once upon a time (a couple of years ago), I thought I had it nearly finished and sent it off to a publisher. How naïve was that?
Later, after hearing not a word in reply, I worked more seriously on tidying it up and adding and subtracting parts until I felt it was almost good enough to be read by someone. I engaged the services of a literary agent, who, after reading it and correcting a few errors, told me that I had a good ‘story’ but that it is very hard to have a memoir published nowadays, unless you are a famous person – with some sort of notoriety gained from wherever or whatever.
Well, I have dismissed the idea of trying to gain some notoriety by some foul deeds – or other, so have accepted that I must either work harder and better or take on board (don’t you love that term, ‘take on board’?) the advice from the literary agent and self-publish the memoir – just enough copies for immediate family members to have and to hold.
Not the greatest idea, as most of the family members already know the ‘story’ and, also, several of them no doubt harbour a different version of the events I have tried to relate.
So, to cut a long story short (literally) I have been working again – this time for the LAST time on the memoir - and ‘killing my babies’ as they say in the trade and ridding my work of parts that I love (my ‘babies’) and attempting to make it more interesting. (I’d love to add some really inventive fiction along the way, but then it wouldn’t really be classed as a memoir, would it?)
I am re-reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ and it has spurred me on once more. He was advised very early on in his writing career to ‘get rid of all unnecessary words’.
I am trying to do that!
Earlier this year my memoir was over 70,000 words long. It is now 66,605 words.
I have edited up to page 105 out of 282 pages, so that’s progress, I suppose.
As I said, this is my last ditch effort to get it right – or as right as I can, with my limitations.
Perhaps one day I might self-publish it, just for myself, so that all this blood, sweat and tears – and brain strain - will not have been for nought.
An American journalist, Jennifer Senior, has written a book about parenting, titled ‘All Joy and no Fun’. I have to admit that I haven’t read the book but am intrigued by the modern take on parenting and the paradoxes that seem to be present. The talks around parenting and ‘how to parent’ and the differences in life-styles between people who are childless and people with children seems to occupy an astounding amount of talk and reading space and general debate.
My times dealings with small children are now gone but I do remember well the stresses and the impositions on one as a parent. However – and I’m trying to not really be on one ‘side’ or another but feel the need to ask: How long are you a parent? True, it is a never-ending part of your life, BUT…it is only a fraction of your life that you are a parent of a child or children; that is, one who has small, medium or large children at home with you.
If you have (say) two children and you give birth to them about 2 years apart and they leave home, at about age 18, for university, or to travel, or to work or whatever, (and, yes, I know, I am generalizing here), you will have children at home with you – and ‘eating you out of house and home’ and trying your patience as well as giving you joy – you will have children (children) in your lives for approximately 20 years.
For starters, you will have only one baby or toddler for two years, then, for the next 16 years, you will have 2 children in the house, then only one child for another 2 years, then you should (should?) have an empty nest.
Supposing you are going to live for 80+ years, your child-rearing days constitute a little less than one-quarter of your life. That’s not much, really. And, afterwards, you will be blessed with your very own (adult) family members, who know you well, who know your (and their) history well, who will be around to celebrate milestones in your (and their) life and will love you.
And YOU will LOVE them.
Wasn’t it The Beatles who sang, “All You Need is Love”? It’s true!
Of course, they may not always be physically nearby. Grown children sometimes drift apart from their roots; some may choose to live far away. But you know they are always there.
To sum up, I suppose I wish to say that all this talk of how hard it is to parent (notice how the word has turned into a verb?) and how you (especially women) can’t ‘have it all’ – because children do not always let you experience the joy of having them while you are also following the career of your choice.
Who cares? Why is it so Important that we should expect to ‘have it all’?
And, yes, I know that the world population is exploding and we really shouldn’t be reproducing much at all but…
Here’s another thought - what about prospective grandchildren? You know, those little (but later, big) people who start the children = joy thing all over again.
I don’t know about ‘All Joy and No Fun’. More like, ‘Lots of Joy and Lots of Fun – and a bit of other stuff in between’.
PS: I apologize to all those parents who are still experiencing the ‘joy’ of having their 20-something and even thirty-something children at home.
When I see a road sign indicating a speed limit I consider it to be specifying the top speed allowable at that point on that road. However it seems that most, if not all other drivers, consider the sign to be informing them of the speed that they must now attain – no matter what.
I can understand that some people wish to get somewhere as quickly as possible, so will drive at the ultimate speed limit allowable. Hopefully these are confident and competent drivers. But, why can’t others drive a little slower than the maximum allowed? Isn’t that a little safer even? Certainly the slower driver/s would have to stay in the left lane (or right lane in some countries other that Australia). I fail to see why motorists think that the speed limit is a speed instruction – or order.
Sure, I’m a careful (some would say, nervous) driver and have always been so but my carefulness and caution when driving was increased some years ago when I was involved in a road accident. Another motorist drove his car straight at mine, from a side road, and ever since I have been aware that there is simply nothing you can do when another car barrels towards your car as you travel along a highway. Had that driver not been travelling so fast, he may have been able to stop before colliding with my car and me.
To drive at (perhaps only slightly) below the maximum speed allowed, surely makes the road a safer place. Or am I wrong? Should all vehicles travel at the same speed - and that speed be the speed limit as shown on the sign? Which is the safer option? I know which one I prefer.
Some people claim that dog owners talking about their dogs are as boring as grandparents talking about their grandchildren. Sorry about that, but here goes – dog talk coming up. If you have been reading my blogs you will know that I have already spoken (at length) about my little dog - the one to whom I once had to administer mouth to mouth resuscitation. Well not directly mouth to actual doggie mouth, but close to it.
Lately I have been taking an interest in dog names. I meet a lot of people who are out walking their dogs when I am out with my little dog. (That’s her in the picture) and I hear people call to their four-legged family members.
When I’m out I talk to many of the other dog owners and almost (almost, mind you, almost) consider them friends, even though I don’t know their names – or anything about them, apart from their dogs.
I am slowly learning a few dogs’ names. Isn’t that amazing? Dog owners get on well with other dog owners and share information – about their dogs, of course, not much else.
My dog’s name is Matilda.
Last week I learned the name of a little dog that I see almost every day and who (should it be ‘that’ rather than ‘who’?) Matilda greets with a happy wag of the tail and a friendly sniff or two.
His name is “BJ”. I suppose he looks a bit like a BJ, although it seems like a waste of a naming opportunity to me. But one day I might ask his owner if the initials B and J stand for something.
The writer Delia Ephron called her little dog Honey Pansy Cornflower Bernice Mambo Kass. How gorgeous! When asked why she gave her dog so many names she simply explained that it was ‘because she could’. Fair enough.
But, in case you are thinking that I am a dog obsessed person, please know that I absolutely abhor Dog Shows, where the poor creatures are shampood and sprayed and powdered and brushed to ridiculous lengths, then paraded around a ring with the owner checking and re-checking each and every hair and whisker on their (hopefully) prize-winning pooch. Horrible.
No, I like a dog that can run in the park; who can cheerfully chew on a bone in the backyard, enjoy a walk in the rain, be friendly to other dogs - and people from all walks of life and be a faithful companion.
It’s nine years since I brought Matilda back to life from her choking experience. I wonder if she remembers. She is the friendliest and most faithful little dog one could ever have and I’m glad she survived all those years ago.
Okay, yes, I’m jealous! But really I am also sick of seeing people (especially on television) with perfect teeth. To me they look slightly unnatural. Plastic, even. Yes, they’re beautiful - and evenly spaced - and iridescent white – and smilingly, blindingly perfect - but I sometimes lose track of what the teeth’s owner is saying as I stare at these wonders – not of nature, but of modern dentistry.
An adult human supposedly has (if the so called wisdom teeth have erupted safely) 32 teeth.
Unfortunately, some people take pride in showing us all 32 teeth at once whenever they speak or smile. This achievement was not always possible.
I have some old photos – and I mean OLD – from the early 1900s, and wedding photos at that, where almost no one in the picture is smiling AND their mouths are way smaller that the mouths we see today. Why is this so? Well, either many of the teeth had rotted and fallen out or some teeth had been decayed and had been removed by a dentist – or doctor, or what? I’m not sure but guess that was so.
Later in the 20th century it became almost fashionable to have all teeth removed and replaced by dentures, or ‘false teeth’ as some called them. My father referred to them as ‘clackers’ as that’s how they often sounded when people spoke.
You couldn’t find anything much more off-putting than to come across someone who had recently acquired a news sett of ‘clackers’; they looked alien and weird and not like the person they previously were- and the ‘gums’ were plastic! It was often embarrassing to suddenly meet a friend or relative with ‘new’ teeth. Who are you? And they answered with a clacking sound and a new lisp - and often a soft whistle.
Nowadays it’s quite common to see someone whose teeth have been straightened, whitened (blindingly so) and perfected. But is it necessary? And why so WHITE? Honestly you need to be wearing sunglasses when speaking to some of these new teeth people.
But, the worst of all, in my estimation, is the old (elderly?) television presenter, or actor who has had his or her teeth made into a replica of some 20-something’s mouth attire. Ridiculous is hardly a strong enough word to use to describe the look of this clutching of youth or beauty in someone old enough to be the grandparent of the teeth’s rightful owner.
Truly, to sum up: what’s wrong with a few crooked teeth? They add character. What’s wrong with some cared-for but a little on the cream side of white teeth? They look far more natural than the iridescent white pearlies. And match the person’s age and colouring.
Slightly worn and far from white, but anchored firmly (and naturally) in my mouth are the teeth I plan to keep for the rest of my life. Not 32 of them, sure, but enough to do the job of chewing meals and smiling a limited-tooth-showing smile.
Since I began posting blogs on this site I have touched on subjects such as:
reading books, selling a house, moving house, stories from teaching days, childhood reminiscences, dogs, more dogs, whinges on subjects political and otherwise, kids, pompous opinions (held by me) and simple chatter on various subjects too numerous to mention.
I have tried to write interesting blogs. I have tried to be interested.
As my readership fluctuates between numbers in the teens to over 500 visits per day, I have been attempting to work out which topics and which types of blog writing appeals to readers. My blog visitors are a very quiet lot and the amount of comments I have received over the past couple of years - well, let’s say I could count them on the fingers of one hand!
I really don’t know whether it is the title of the blog entry, the accompanying picture or the actual words or story I have presented that attracts - or turns off - visitors. I am also not sure if the visits are mainly by readers of the blog or visits to my web page. It’s all a mystery. Or is it simply which days some people have time on their hands? Time enough to waste on reading my drivel?
So, as a pathetic plea, can someone (anyone?) please send a little comment or feedback and let me know a good recipe for a readable blog? (Or even just answer my 'hello'?)
Funnily enough, one of my most popular blog entries was one I wrote about Valentine’s Day – and I don’t even like Valentine’s Day. But, was that the reason people read it?
Perhaps I should tell some jokes? Or write a humorous poem? Perhaps a limerick:
There once was a lady in Spain
Who was terribly sick on the train.
Not once – but again
And again and again
And again and again and again.
Love to hear from you.
Once upon a time, this little child had a strange fear of speaking to any adult outside of her family and therefore never said a word to any teacher for the first two years of her school days.
Being a “selective mute” presented problems for the teachers, but they never chastised her for being so.
What made this child a selective mute, no one was
sure. Searching for clues about this condition, it appeared to be classified as a “specific form of social/performance anxiety”; whatever that might mean! Depending on the child’s (varying) situation at home, people attached
different reasoning to the phenomenon.
Fortunately, the child eventually broke free from the
A couple of years later, when aged about nine, and the
new school year of Grade Five arrived, she discovered, with horror, that the dreaded Miss Lamrock was to be her teacher. Tales of this teacher’s (mis) treatment of children unlucky enough to be snared in her class, were known to
all and the child trembled at the thought of a year spent in a room with this harridan. The teacher had a cruel streak and would creep up behind students and pull their hair if she saw an error in their work. She divided the class into ‘flowers’ and ‘weeds’. You can guess the reasoning behind this.
For this child, for this year, weekends were happy times.
But, weekdays were spent in Miss Lamrock’s classroom.
And one day this awful teacher announced that each of her pupils must write a story of an adventure or a recent incident in their lives.
Not too difficult a task. This child wrote about the day she was bitten by a dog.
Easy! Miss Lamrock even liked her story and awarded top marks.
But, there was more to come. The pupils then had to give a talk on the subject about which they had written.
Oh, inward groan!
One by one, class-mates stood at the front of the class and gave their talk, or at least read their story. The previously mute (but now ‘cured’) child knew that she wouldn’t be able to escape, and her turn eventually came.
She stood with her neatly written story in shaking hands; tried to speak, but nothing emerged. She waited and waited for the power of speech to come to her lips.
Minutes ticked by. Miss Lamrock waited. The other children waited. There was nothing she could do. As hard as she willed herself to speak, no sound emerged from her lips.
Eventually with a shove between the shoulder blades, Miss Lamrock dismissed the child, who staggered back to her desk, cheeks blazing and tears threatening, not only because of her failure to deliver, but because of the realization that the muteness she thought she had beaten had
Towards the end of her Grade Five year, the child vomited on the floor in front of the woman who had made her life a misery. She was far too frightened to ask if she could leave the room and, as she felt nausea rising, she began to walk slowly and nervously towards the door - throwing up just as Miss Lamrock looked inquiringly at her.
A fitting conclusion to that year.
Have to admit that the child in the story was me. It’s all true.
Outside a shopping complex the other day, I watched as an old man bent down to pat a small dog. The vision of this scene has frozen in my mind. It’s possibly a stretch too far to say it was ‘a vision of loveliness’, but it was lovely, nevertheless. I had to watch and take it in –it was (and excuse me for being soppy) a beautiful sight.
The little dog was tied to a pillar, obviously left there by its owner - dropped by to do some shopping.
The elderly man emerged from the shopping centre, spotted
the little dog and instantly (though not instantly as in speed) walked over to it. It was (at first) almost painful to observe the time it took the man to bend over towards the dog’s head, but, all the while the little dog (obediently,
still sitting) had an expectant up-turn of its head, as its wagging tail swished madly on the pavement.
When the mans’ hand finally reached the dog’s furry head and stroked it while speaking soft endearments, the dog stood and squirmed with joy and I’m sure I saw a look of true bliss on its little face.
How I wished I had a camera with me – but, then again, it’s probably better to keep
images such as this in one’s mind to treasure and recall ,without checking a picture on a computer screen to recollect how good it was.
On a much lighter note than usual: Bare feet? Is it okay? Is it okay for woman, no longer a young chick, to walk around most of the day in no shoes, but bare feet? I haven't been in this habit since I was a child, but now find that living in such a warm climate, I almost unconsciously remove any footwear I happen to put on when I first dress, and walk around all day shoe-less. Of course, if I go out somewhere, on go the Hush Puppies - sandals, only. And when I take the little dog for a longish walk, I'll don walk shoes, with socks, but they will be swiftly removed the minute I'm in the door.
So, is it okay, do you think, for bare feet to be the go? Does it look gross? Impolite? Or am I able to do this and not offend anyone's sensitivities? Just asking.
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.