Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...
Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...
:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications :: Joules... on writing [on hiatus] ::
I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.
August 2011: the earlier posts in this blog are a mess, the result of me changing the format some time ago. I'm working to edit the entire blog from the beginning, but with over 4K posts and sodall time for such luxuries it's going to take a while... [02/09/16 - Now reached 09/10/2004][20/03/2019 - giving up. I don't have enough time to update the blog atm, let alone edit old entries!]
If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.
First, a recommendation. Dive over to The Jonathan Day Fiction Site and try some of the stories. I love this author's writing - it's funny, bitingly witty, dryly incisive, chilling, and deliciously subversive by turns. Absolutely well worth a look!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Suddenly, client site updates... Not quite snowed under, but it was busy. And I seem somehow to have been appointed APAG secretary without my knowledge...
[grump] Beginning to wonder if this blasted cold is ever going to go.
Monday, November 29, 2010
We can haz turkee!
Iceland had some small (4-6 servings) butterball turkeys, one of which is now taking up half of one of the freezer trays. (They also had a Baileys cheesecake, one of our favourites.) Also grabbed six of their party packs, three savoury, three sweet, so Boxing Day is sorted.
Then it was over to Sainsbug's, and out again to Tesco after lunch. Legs are killing me and shoulders are sore after carrying too much, but that's everything now done. The rest is just the usual groceries, milk, bread, etc. I can relax now, as far as the food shopping goes.
Cold, and due to get colder. I've put another couple of feeders on the medlar, one of sunflower seeds, the other of high energy mixed seeds, and topped up the peanut holder (the bluetits love them). So far I've seen our sparrow flock, our robin, our blackbird pair, a wren and the jays, but as the weather gets worse I'd hope to see more variety. The main pain is going to be keeping the bird bath topped up with liquid water (as opposed to ice).
Sunday, November 28, 2010
So after dinner we discussed food for over the Yuletide...
Going to keep it relatively simple. K&K like the idea of fajitas (which I normally do for junk-food Friday) for dinner and nibbles in the evening with mulled wine for the 24th, and while I have the venison steaks in the freezer, trying something new for the 25th may be a little dangerous. Ken suggested actually having turkey for a change! Which is a great idea, if I can get one small enough. Otherwise, I'd opt for duck, which I love and Ken absolutely hates having to carve. Dunno. I'll check the shops for turkey first. (Don't think I have time to order from the butcher now.)
Boxing Day is always a running buffet during the day and cold meats, creamed spuds and salad for dinner, as it's quick and easy and means I don't have to do much cooking. Although that being said, I've found a wonderful 15th century recipe (in my Seven Hundred Years of English Cooking) for Spicy Creamed Rabbit, which involves making a sauce of butter, flour, ginger, ground cloves, ground almonds, galangal, cinnamon, saffron and sugar, adding cooked chopped rabbit and serving on toast. It sounds amazing. Going to try that with the diced wild rabbit I have in the freezer. (I keep all those ingredients in stock except for the almonds and saffron.) And as it happens there's a recipe for Poached Partridge on the facing page, also from the 15th century, but it uses pretty much the same spices so might be a little too similar. Then again, the bird is poached in red wine and stock, so perhaps if I change the mix slightly... Will see. And photograph for Lutra.
The Monday will be a bank holiday, and most places will be shut (I assume). Kai has asked for shepherd's pie, and I believe Tesco have organic lamb mince on special at the moment...
This all means a trek to the shops (and up to Iceland at Broadwalk for party packs of nibbles) preferably before the really bad weather sets in later in the week, so tomorrow will be spent fighting the mutoids and trying to make room in the freezer...
It suddenly occured to me that if the pools are frozen, so will be the waterbutts...
I'd almost emptied the waterbin up by the greenhouse, but the butt there was full - and the top couple of inches were solid. So it was out with the boiling water in a saucepan to melt a hole, then chipping away with a spike (which Kai enjoyed) until I had enough space to get the large jug in and start bailing out.
The ice itself was fascinating though - crystals were growing inwards from the plastic sides.
This is a piece of the ice from the top, but turned upside down.
The underside of the top ice. Quite magical.
Looking down into the almost empty butt: those are hollow pyramids of ice.
Unfortunately I can't do anything about the main butt outside the kitchen: the top is frozen and I'm wary of trying to turn the tap, it was expensive and may be brittle with the low temperature. Hopefully it'll be OK. (I was planning to use an old duvet as a jacket over it, but I haven't had time to make it or cover it with plastic, and the cold snap took us all a bit by surprise. The butt is close against the wall, so is a little protected and in a warmer position than the others.)
Tyjer defending his territory. The other cat is a bloody nuisance - it's the one that keeps trying to get in the catflap. I feel sorry for it, it's out in all weathers, but this is Tyjer's home, and he is very possessive. Having the other prowling around outside at night drives him nuts. (photo © Ken)
Icicle in the garden loo basin. Heh. Just as well we turned off the water and left the tap wide open... Will have to start leaving the heater on out there, I think. The pipes should be fine, our plumber said they're tough and weatherproof, but we'll find out in the spring.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Watched my latest Lovefilm rental, Legion, rented because I wanted to see Paul Bettany as something other than an insane self-flagellating albino or Jarvis. And also I like winged things. Anyway, it was quite good, certainly better than I expected. Some fine acting, some genuinely scary moments. Plot ridiculous, of course, but OK in context. (The film also just cries out for some Michael/Gabriel slash... And yes, there it is, over on FFNet...)
Off to finish a second Nick/Greg ficlet, Blind as a Bat. Now tempted to write 26 of them, and call it Nick and Greg's Alphabetical Aphorisms. Except that aphorism is not entirely accurate (not to mention that half the people reading them won't know what the word means) so I'd better make it Proverbs instead.
Somewhat half-hearted snow...
Friday, November 26, 2010
... and now it's proper snow, and it's settling on the earth up at the veg bed. If it stays, I'll photograph it tomorrow.
... aaaaand it's snowing. Not the pretty flakey snow, mind you, that would be too much to ask. No, it's the wet, sleety type. Oh joy.
Still, the Brussels sprouts for tonight have been picked, the birdbath has fresh water (which will freeze in no time, alas) and the feeders and birdtable are stocked up. Kai'll be home in 45 minutes, then we can shut it out (until Monday, if we feel so inclined...)
Glorious day today - blazing sunshine but the temperature still around freezing. [sigh] Finally been forced out of sandals and into trainers (oh joy. I really loathe breaking in new footwear), but March to the end of November is a pretty good run.
Had to get out of the house - first time in almost a week - so tanked off to Tesco (TROLLEY RAAAAGE!!!), which was actually perhaps a bit much, given how groggy I felt when I got back (feeling better now). The walk was nice, though, and the sun quite warm even though the air was very cold.
Water's turned off and salt's been added to the bowl in the garden loo in preparation for the cold snap. I'm off to nuke a couple of spuds for lunch - picked up a pot of piri-piri sandwich spread for filling! (Isn't that interesting? < /sarcasm >)
Penned a tiny fanfic last night (CSI of course, since that's the current obsession) - An Apple A Day, just a 500 word extended drabble that insisted on being written. It's on FFNet at the moment: will post it in The (other) Zone when I've organised a background tile.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Bodie cat doesn't like crunchy grass and solid water... Then again, not too fond of it myself. Temperature can't have got much above freezing all day: the pools are frozen over. Just as well I put the tennis balls in last week.
Discovered today that Tesco's own yellow Thai curry paste not only turns the chicken yellow, it also dyes human skin. Yellow. [sigh] It does come off, eventually. It's worth it for the taste, though, wonderfully hot and spicy, with basmati rice (cooked with kaffir lime leaves) and stir-fried veg in sweet chilli sauce, perfect for a cold day . (Drooling yet, Lutra? [g] Wonder if the new tag will generate more hits? Will have to check the sitemeter report tomorrow.) Most enjoyable.
Lurgy seems to be on its way out, at last. Should be able to get back to what loosely passes for 'normal' 'round 'ere.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
More of the same, although at least I don't feel quite so cotton-woolly as yesterday.
Kai had an English mock exam today - says he thinks it went OK. He's due to have exams again in January, so we're a little concerned about the weather. We're already better prepared than last year, but we'd prefer it not to be as bad...
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Bleurgh. The glands under my jaw and my throat have swollen - I look like a full-crop pelican. Needless to say the amount I've managed to get done today has been buggerall. Except for half an hour of client site update. Really hope this doesn't last too long...
Monday, November 22, 2010
... and woke up with some sort of lurgy, throat so sore I couldn't swallow and brain disengaged. Bleurgh...
Sunday, November 21, 2010
I think the last few weeks have finally caught up with me - hard to keep my eyes open. Early night is now mandatory...
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Knew today was going to be good when two jays visited to feed in the garden...
Taken by Ken through a closed window (as opening it would have scared them off). Beautiful birds: I hope they become regulars!
Off to Congresbury with GoodTwin and Sue, and a fine afternoon in the garden centres. Bought tall spikes to enlarge the fruit cage, a mosspole for the second pot of dragonfruit cacti, a big tub of dried mealworms for the birds, and a brush for cleaning out the bird feeders. Then we watched The Lost Room - the whole series - which was much enjoyed! Altogether a great day. Many thanks!
And I have a new orchid, a rescued phalaenopsis. Thanks Sue!
Friday, November 19, 2010
AARRGGHH!!! I can't see any blogger or wordpress sites - including my own! I can view source and (obviously, or I wouldn't be typing this) access my dashboard and everything's there - I just can't see it...
Presumably it's some software problem (Kai thought it might be something affecting MySQL, but all our databases work so it's not that), but I hope they sort it out with all due despatch.
Busy day. Didn't quite manage to get up to Wild Oats or Bristol Guild, but I did get everything done I'd planned in Broadmead, plus a little Yule shopping.
Oh look - I can see the blogs again. *phew*. The ubiquitous 'they' must have sorted out whatever the problem was.
GoodTwin and Sue visiting tomorrow - anticipating fun!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Client site updates, orchid care (the other cambria has a flower spike now), manic shopping (including British wild diced rabbit and a partridge on special to go into the freezer for Boxing Day), CSI ep recorded, and the bathroom finally thoroughly cleaned (even in the storage space under the bath, though that won't last long). Heh. Tired now.
Tomorrow, oh joy, I have to FirstBus it into town - Wild Oats, Bristol Guild (put on sunglassses before clicking link!) for some ostrich and juniper berry paté for Yule, bank, Specsavers for Ken's glasses (they needed adjusting but he doesn't need to be there to collect them), and Cotswold Outdoors for the Yaktrax, which have now arrived.
But Warehouse 13 just gets better and better...
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Though not as heavily as in Cornwall.
Tyjer, sensible cat and soggy moggy that he is, went out to 'do the rounds' this morning then came in, curled up on my settee and slept the day away. The birds wait until they hear the cat-flap or door close, then all descend upon the medlar (I'm getting through a bag of sunflower seeds every two weeks at the moment, and at £2.99 a bag it looks set to be an expensive winter. Will have to see if the pet shop can deliver a sack of them, it'll be much cheaper, if I can make space for them in the shed...)
The light was very strange when Kai arrived home tonight, almost green. Though it's dark by four. Already looking forward to the spring, even if this is my favourite time of year.
Classic TV quotes: "I'm going to set fire to these peanuts with the help of some liquid oxygen... Woohoo!!... That's what you call nuked nuts." (Jimmy Doherty of Jimmy's Food Factory)
Back to the rockface.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Contented camouflage cat is contented and camouflaged - and getting a little pudgy by the looks of it...
Monday, November 15, 2010
Grumpy cat is grumpy. Bring back sunny dayze nao!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
An afternoon of gardening - cutting and mulching the asparagus bed, repotting the second blueberry, pruning ivy, raking and composting fallen leaves and bletted medlars, starting the digging of the pool behind the meadow...
Forgot to mention that a young and pretty David Caruso is also in Hudson Hawk. Mm. Nice legs...
Friday, November 12, 2010
Right, speedy catch up post...
Dentist today - yet another new Polish one. She's good though, very competent and I felt surprisingly at ease. Possibly because she didn't try to talk down to me, something I absolutely loathe but hadn't really realised the previous one had done until now. She repaired a filling I hadn't even noticed had broken until she showed me, and advised me how to cope with the minute space and sharp edge between two crowns that always catches/tears/bunches the floss (basically, use the tiniest interdental brush instead. I hate them things...)
Checked out Pink Planet DVDs while I was up there and picked up Hudson Hawk, which we watched tonight (not a good film by any definition but as a live-action cartoon it has some very funny moments. And Richard E Grant of course...) and Stand By Me (for my KS collection) a classic that I have never yet managed to watch.
Kai has made his first selection for his sixth form studies (and eventual A Levels), a fine choice of Physics, Maths, Computing, Electronics - and Music. This last would be taught at the Brunel Academy, though, which is a mile from John Cabot, and he tells me, after speaking with a teacher, that unofficially the movement between the two presents a lot of problems, and he may not be able to take up the option. I've suggested he see if there's a music club or something similar that he can join at JC, in case he can't take the course, which he'll explore. (If so he'll probably opt for Chemistry in its place.) All quite exciting, and he seems keen to be moving on.
They have mock exams first though, in the next few weeks...
I seem to have opted for venison for Yule dinner.
Back to... um... Friday night...
Thursday, November 11, 2010
More of the same, plus the unpleasant thought that I really must get the house cleaned very soon, certainly before the 20th, even though my usual idea of housework is sweeping the room with a glance.
Ken has new glasses: they weigh practically nothing. Cost a little extra, but you can hardly feel them on. Think I'll have to get that sort next time I need new.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Rewind, replay, with a side visit to the doctor's for a repeat test they got wrong last time. [sigh] But at least it was a lovely day - cold but near-cloudless skies and brilliant sun. There's another severe weather warning out for tonight, but most of it should miss us. I hope. Not keen on the notion of gale-force winds hitting the greenhouse...
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Cold today - due to the chill wind mostly, feels like it's blasting down from the Arctic.
Tidying-up sort of day, clearing client stuff and emails.
Monday, November 08, 2010
Monday shopping. Joy.
Sunday, November 07, 2010
Give peas a chance!
[groan] sorry... I have my peas - all 64 of them (because I only had 64 peat pots left) - planted and sitting on the potting table in the hopes that well-stocked and easily accessible feeders and bird-table will prove more appealing to the feathered darlings than seedlings on a table often guarded by a Bodie cat. No guarantee, of course, but we'll see.
Other than that - it's been the usual busynesss. Also quite nippy, weather wise (though I'm still in T-shirts and sandals, as it's still not quite cold enough to force me into winter clothing).
There are still whizzbangs out there.
That's something of a surfeit of 'stills'...
Saturday, November 06, 2010
[sigh] Bonfire Night part 2...
Labels: nowt really
Friday, November 05, 2010
The whizzbangs started at six, as soon as it got dark, and the city sounds like a warzone, with the emergency services' sirens mingling with the bomblasts and screams of the pyrotechnics. Tyjer came in early and is curled up on the wolf, trusting his humans to protect him but still flinching with the loudest bangs. It's too wet, windy and low-cloudy to see much, even from across the road where they're having firework parties in their back gardens, and tomorrow the city will stink of gunpowder and smoke...
Bonfire Night loses its appeal once you're past your teens, I guess.
Taken from the landing window, looking up the garden. That wonderful yellow thing (near top near centre) is the asparagus. (Photo © Ken Taylor)
I was planning to cut down the asparagus and chop it for a mulch on top of the bed, but Ken commented that it looks beautiful - wonderfully architectural (achieved by my tying twine around it half way up to stop it flopping on the strawberries!) and a terrific colour - so I shall leave it for a little longer, until it goes brown.
I am pissed off. You may have noticed I'm an inveterate DVD collector? And that I recently ordered the Beauty and the Beast complete boxed set? Well, in order to collect it, I had to pay a fee - £4.32 VAT (bad enough) and an outrageous, extortionate £8 Royal Mail International Handling Fee. EIGHT fucking QUID! £12.32 in total, more than a third of the original cost of the box! I've never been charged for any package before, and I've been buying online for over ten years. Miffed? Oh yes. And I have absolutely no comeback - Tax on goods ordered from or bought abroad and Goods posted from outside the EU: tax payments, queries or refunds - and the Royal Mail site states £8 is their standard charge. As their customer service said, when I queried it:
We recently assessed the costs of providing the customs clearance service for customers importing goods into the UK by post, and discovered that we were operating this service at a loss. Unfortunately, we can no longer afford to offer any service at a loss and cannot subsidise this activity using another income stream. It is for this reason that our fee has increased to £8.00, which accurately reflects the costs involved.
Last time I order anything over £18 from the States.
(Although, of course, there are ways around it [grins hopefully at onna...])
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Odd sort of day. Got a fair bit done, though I'm not sure how, as I seemed to blink and miss most of it...
Watched Tron tonight (latest Lovefilm rental): planning to see Tron: Legacy with Kai, so he needed to watch it first. Most enjoyable, if now cringingly outdated and full of technobabble. And the 'acting'! But pretty, very pretty, and a seminal work.
And then it was Warehouse 13 season
The same is true of Sanctuary, also now on season 3 and also an absolute must-see. Odd how it happens: we saw the first seasons of Heroes, Lost, Flashforward and True Blood but then lost interest and didn't bother watching any more, but these two... wonderful stuff.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Into to town to pick up a parcel/buy a pair of Yaktrax for K&K (they didn't have my size but will ring when they've more in stock)/attempt (unsuccessfully) to find Yule presents for K&K. And another day zooms past...
But the new season of Sanctuary has started off extremely well (though I'm now trying to work out who those other two avatars are). Looking forward to the next eps - I really like the arc (rather than episodic) plots they seem to be using these days.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Monday, November 01, 2010
[sigh] Monday. Not really very fond of Mondays...
And I keep forgetting to say that Ken's latest - Ghosts - is now available.