Friday, May 27, 2016

'No Milk Today'

This song by Herman's Hermits - for the younger ones amongst us Herman's Hermits was a highly commercially successful British rock group in the 1960s - has been stuck in my head for the past few days and I have no idea why. All I can assume is that Pisces has had his radio on - he listens to radio stations I avoid - and it came on while I was in earshot. Anyhow it's been buzzing around in my mind for the last three days although I couldn't remember any more of it than the first line. I could have listened to the Herman's Hermits CD I found a couple of years ago in a discard bin at JB Hi-Fi (and bought for I have no idea what reason) but that would have been too easy, wouldn't it, so eventually I headed to the internet as you do and found a clip from 1966. I discovered to my surprise that it has some interesting musical ideas. I had heard the group as a youngster but I hadn't really listened critically - well, who does as a kid - but, despite some dubious choices of material by their management, I can see why they appealed and why they were among the early leaders of what is sometimes called the 1960s British rock invasion in the US before the juggernaut that was the Beatles and the Rolling Stones took over to become the headliners for British rock world wide.

So to share my earworm here is Herman's Hermits performing No Milk Today in 1966. You're welcome.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Winter Storm

The first major cold front of winter crossed the coast yesterday - and the storm that came with it was pretty much what they always are. Wind gusts reached 111 kph, there was hail and heavy rain and it got pretty chilly by Perth standards with the maximum 18°C and the minimum 10°C. That might not sound too bad but when you remember the maximum was 26°C only a fortnight ago you can see why we might be shivering. It's not that we don't get some colder nights during winter - there are always a few around 2°C or 3°C - but it's a sudden change and that's a bit of a shock to the system. The storm has caused a lot of power outages due to power lines coming down with thousands of homes still without power, some minor flooding and there are fences down, roofs damaged and trees uprooted all over the city. My neighbour, who is involved with a theatre company, has just come in to say they've had to cancel today's performances because the area around and including the theatre is still without power All pretty average for a winter storm here.

Still, while this is an average storm, about every ten years we get hit by a severe storm - and by severe I mean major damage. This can mean power outages lasting up to a week, hail damage (in 2010 thousands of vehicles were written off due to severe hail damage alone), flash flooding and millions of dollars of damage to homes despite our stringent building regulations. It's not just tropical areas that suffer storm damage after all.

Does this make me want to live anywhere else? Not really. Nature does what it wants no matter where you live and I don't think there's a place on the planet where something disastrous can't happen if conditions are right. For the most part our climate is pretty good (apart from the occasional heatwave in summer and the odd winter storm - and a bit more rain wouldn't hurt) so why would I want to move.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Spoon Theory

I've been sick, Pisces is still sick and so is the cat. In my case it's because I overdid it a little - but it only takes a little for someone with several chronic illnesses to overdo things and the consequences can be harsh. So I've spent much of the last week getting up, doing the barest minimum of survival tasks then collapsing back into bed which is where I'm heading again as soon as the washing machine stops and I can hang out the essential laundry I put in when I got up (even when you're sick you still need clean things to wear).

Those of us battling chronic illness often find ourselves not only struggling with those illnesses but also with how others perceive us. For example I do a regular exercise class with a physiotherapist along with a small group of others with disabilities. It HURTS even with painkillers and having the exercises tailored to my specific weaknesses but I push on through it even though it means I'm wiped out for the rest of the day because it's all that is keeping me moving. If I were to stop - and I'm often tempted to - I would be condemning myself to ending up unable to do anything and I do not want that. My illnesses have already taken far too much away in my life. But even in that class, among others with disabilities, someone said to me the other day 'the way you do those exercises you don't look as if there's anything wrong with you'.

I hate letting people down by having to pull out of arranged events because I have simply run out of energy or because I know that if I do go I'll end up wiped out for maybe a week. I hate pretty much everything about these illnesses but most of all I hate that they have robbed me and my family of a normal life. I can either rant and and rave about it or I can do what I can. It'd be  nice though if I didn't have to face the judgement of those who don't have these problems.

With that in mind here is the link to Christine Miserandino's The Spoon Theory which explains just what life is like for those of us whose lives are driven by severe chronic illness. The physical symptoms are different for everyone but all of us have to factor in just how much we can and can't do or live with the consequences. It's worth reading.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Nebula Awards 2015

The winners of these speculative fiction awards presented annually by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (perhaps better known as the SFWA) have been released - and now my Books I Must Read list has grown yet again. You can find the complete list of nominated works and the winners of each section here.

Monday, May 09, 2016

2016 Locus Awards Finalists

I do like a list of some of the best SF reading and the Locus Awards really deliver on that. All I have to do now is find the time to read them all. Congratulations to all on the list which you can find here.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

World Naked Gardening Day

This, according to my Facebook page, is 'trending' and it is apparently a thing. Personally - and I am an enthusiastic gardener - I can't think of anything worse. It's nothing to do with people, for whatever reason, wandering about without any clothes on. Dudes, you do what you have to. Just don't expect me to join you or to enjoy looking at all your wobbling bits because, let's face it, most of us, even models, have far from 'model' bodies. There is a reason for Photoshop, after all.

No, my objection is far more to do with practicalities and here are a few reasons why this is a very bad idea:

1. sunburn - in summer

2. cold - in winter. Even in a mild climate you could end up seriously uncomfortable if not chilled to the bone (which would certainly be the case here at the moment).

3. prickles and thorns. You try pruning roses without at least one thorn inserting itself in you.

4. spiders, ants and other nasties. They bite and sting and no clothes means no protection. You've probably heard of redbacks and toilet seats and the consequences. 'Nuff said.

5. dirt - or, in the case of my garden, sand making its way into creases and crevices where it definitely doesn't belong.

6. scratches. See 2 above but they don't have to come from thorns or prickles. I pulled out some low growing creepers last weekend and, even wearing gloves and a long sleeved shirt, I managed to acquire some interesting scrapes on my forearms.

7. I presume nude means sans footwear if you're going to do it properly which also means toes at the mercy of misdirected spades, shovels, garden forks, prickles, etc. etc. and etc.

Oh and 8. the cost of sunscreen is going to be huge. It takes, according to Sunsmart, a minimum of 35 mls of sunscreen to cover an adult body and it should be reapplied every two hours. Well, you do the maths.

And none of these even account for the toll on horrified neighbours catching a glimpse of sagging bums, bellies and boobs.

So, no, just no. Be a naturist/nudist if you like and go where other nudists go - I hear Swanbourne Beach is a great place to swim and sunbathe - but there are reasons why gardeners are usually fully clothed.

Monday, May 02, 2016


You know those wonderful devices that keep the rain and sun off. What would we do without them. I am very attached to these delightful appliances. I have acquired quite a number of them over the years. Some are frivolously frilled and fringed, others are sleek and elegant while still more are patterned either subtly or dramatically - my current favourite is a very dramatic red/green tartan, and yet others are solid colours. Whatever they look like they all stand together in the hall in a large brass container given me many years ago by my parents. When I need one - like to bring in the newspaper this morning - I simply have to pick it up and use it. Brilliant.

I do have others that are less frivolous. There are two folding umbrellas in the car, one in the boot in a box of useful items - a first aid kit, matches, some shopping bags, a torch and a light weight shower proof jacket that folds into a pocket size packet and has more than paid for its original cost, while the other lives in the glove box for more immediate access.

Is this a little excessive? Probably. Am I going to get rid of any? Nope. Why not? Well, although I can't possibly use them all at once, I do use them and that's reason enough to hold on to them. In fact if I see another I like it may well come home with me. Just don't tell my husband.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

A-Z Blogging Challenge: the End

Well, I finished and that's an achievement in itself with what has been happening around here. For reasons I won't go into (but they relate to some serious health issues affecting someone dear to me, Virgo's baby deciding to arrive early and a very sick cat) the opportunity to do anything apart from basic survival has been very short around here and there were times when I thought I had bitten off a tad too much. This all coincided with my having enrolled in a course being run by Leicester University through FutureLearn that I really wanted to complete. This would have been simple enough if everything here hadn't imploded but it did. Still I persevered and while I didn't get to visit as many other bloggers as I would have liked I did get to see quite a few as well as managing to write the required 26 blog posts.

The beauty of a challenge like this is that it pushes you in different ways. First there's meeting the deadlines - and this year I was lucky enough to have scheduled around half before everything went pear shaped. Then there is finding blogs you would never have seen before and so extending your horizons. Among those I found most interesting this year were several book reviewers who will be getting regular visits from now on but there were plenty of others. There were history bloggers, those who wrote about their pets and a number who blogged about writing and publishing. Several put up tasters of their own writing while others blogged recipes or about family life and some went much further with genealogy and family history and that's only a tiny sample. One clever person developed a murder mystery with characters or plot points coming under each letter. I won't be able to get back to all of them every day but I will certainly be dropping by occasionally and, if it wasn't for this challenge, I wouldn't even have known they existed. I've learned so much and welcomed new readers to my blog, too. I hope that some at least will come back so I can continue to share my life with them.