I don’t like to complain, but …

Sleeping dog hanging out of basketI like a quiet life.  There – I’ve confessed.  I’m not much of an adventurer or a party animal.  I enjoy the occasional concert, movie or trip to the theatre.  I like going for walks, curling up with a book, eating nice food, listening to music, snuggling and cuddling.  I DO NOT LIKE FIREWORKS … OR BALLOONS … OR ANYTHING THAT GOES BANG.

My plan this evening was to sit at the dining room table with my laptop and catch up with some outstanding assignments on the Blogging 101 course I’m doing.  Instead I’m sat on the floor, tapping one-handed on the keyboard, trying to calm to dogs who are shaking and drooling with fear because some (insert your expletive of choice here) is setting off fireworks at 6:30 on a Saturday night.

My dogs are usually pretty chilled (check the picture of Tucker) but fireworks send them to pieces.  On the evenings when you usually expect fireworks (Bonfire Night, New Year) we make sure all the blinds and curtains are drawn, have the TV on extra loud and even give them some medication to try to help them relax.  I’ve not found anything that works totally, but it does take the edge off things for them.  Events like tonight when the bangs and flashes are unexpected and unannounced give me, other pet owners, parents of nervous children and anxious people who are spooked by loud noises no chance to prepare or protect ourselves or our loved ones.

Our Blogging 101 assignment was to include a ‘new to you’ element and to address it to your ideal audience.  In the ordinary scheme of things, my ideal audience would have been agents, editors and publishers of books for children but, today, my ideal audience is anyone who sends up fireworks and my ‘new’ thing is a plea to you to think twice before sending up a rocket or lighting a Catherine Wheel.  They look pretty, but to lots of people and creatures they can be terrifying.

Rant over.

What Happened to the WiFi?

Bookstart StandToday I am at a conference for work.  My table is beautifully set with an ‘Elmer’ cloth, covered in an array of freebies for delegates to take with them.  My display boards have been updated to include information relative to this audience. The laptop is open, ready for me to signpost them to a host of different sites where they can access free information and resources.

Wait a minute – what’s happened to the WiFi?  Great signal, but local connection only.  We have no internet. Aaaaarrrghh!!!!

I don’t know the web addresses I need to share with all these lovely people, they are in my favourites – not my ordinary internet favourites, but the favourites on my ‘work’ system that I can only access through the internet.  A quick scrabble through my diary (yes, I do still use a paper version sometimes), notes and leaflets gets me a short list of places I can ask people to write down and look at when they get home.  I’m feeling very frustrated and unprofessional. How did we do exhibitions and conferences in the old days, before the internet?  I must remember to produce a paper back-up version to bring out with me, even if it is only screen shots in a display book.

Technology has had such a huge effect on the way we live our lives.  I know other people have noticed this – I’ve seen other people’s blogs, posts and tweets about it and thought ‘yes, very interesting’.  It’s only when your own technology lets you down that you start to scream.

In a recent blog John Scalzi talked about the reasons he still has a landline at home.  I’m with him 100% – I love having a telephone line that is not dependent on electricity, batteries, airwaves or my technological skills to enable me to have a conversation with people.  I like having a big chunky handset I can tuck under one ear whilst I make notes during a conversation.

TelephoneWe have a lovely old bakelite telephone in our front room. I really love seeing young children trying to figure out how to make a call using the old dial.  They usually poke through the holes, expecting to find buttons.  When they realise they need to turn the dial, they struggle against the weight of the mechanism, their fingers slipping and failing to complete the circuit.  They marvel at the weight of the handset and don’t understand that they have to stay next to the telephone if they want to talk – you can’t carry it any further than the length of the cable.  I suppose any technology that isn’t familiar is difficult to learn at first.

I’m going to hit the ‘publish’ button now.  Who knows when this will be visible to the world.  Think I’ll take a walk and try to find a WiFi signal.

Once Upon a Time

… I thought I would try blogging.  There was no real reason why I should, it just seemed like the thing to do.  My heart wasn’t in it and I produced the grand total of ONE blog post.  Now I am working through my MA, it seemed appropriate to have another go.  To mark this momentous occasion I thought I would include the text of my original first blog.  It has nothing to do with writing, but it is a true tale that gives me happy memories.

The 32 Crew in the Garden

Three of my gardening supervisorsToday we decided to spend a bit of time working in the garden. None of us are keen gardeners – we subscribe to the ‘let nature find it’s own way’ school – but we have a free-standing pond and a big wooden planter arriving next week, so we needed to do some tidying up. This included breaking up an old planter and spreading the tired compost over the garden. Nothing very exciting about any of that, except we had some unexpected company.

I was bent over the planter, scooping the old soil into a bucket, when I felt something in the gap between the top of my jeans and the bottom of my t-shirt. I squawked and jumped and disturbed a robin who had perched on my behind to watch the proceedings. It was a juvenile who spent the next couple of hours supervising our work, darting down to collect the odd worm or wood louse, then bouncing back to the fence to sing out encouragement.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, when I lifted a piece of tarpaulin to put in the rubbish I noticed a movement and spotted three frogs – one adult, one youth and one babe. We don’t have a pond yet, but the wildlife seems to be gathering in preparation.

We stopped work just before the heavens opened and we’re both pretty sore from our exertions, but neither of us could stop grinning.