Wednesday, 31 December 2008

And On It Goes...

Well, another day, another catastrophe, and another day of the kindness of friends and family.

After spending the night at my friend's, I came back to the house this morning to see how things were. Thank goodness I had turned off the water before I left last night. The pipe had thawed and when I did turn the water back on, the heavens opened, which is a bit disconcerting when it's happening inside the house. I turned the water back off sharpish, so luckily not too much damage was done but I am afraid that my stoicism gave way at this point and I crumpled.

I called the plumber and the insurance people then called my son and burst into tears.

Now, as it's getting dark, things are much better. The plumber (may his name be praised) came out this afternoon and has isolated the pipe so that at least I can use water elsewhere in the house. He'll come back and fix it properly in the New Year. My power has been declared safe to switch back on and I have access (hurray) to the internet again.

Having said all that, I am going back to my friend's house again to spend another night, just to get away from this bloody house. Which means that I will be bringing in the New Year away from home for the first time - that got me crying again. But I am grateful for the friends I have and I am trying to count my blessings.

Part of me wants to spend not another night under this roof and I may just put it up for sale in January and rent somewhere until I know what I want to do. It sounds like an over-reaction and maybe it is, but this house has worn me down and I have had enough. New Year, new life maybe.

Happy Hogmanay and Happy New Year to you all!

Monday, 29 December 2008

Sooooo Cold...

Greetings fellow bloggers, and a belated happy Christmas to you all. In the true spirit of schadenfreude, I thought you might like to hear about my latest woes - might cheer you up.

Christmas was pleasant and uneventful. We were pleased to have mild weather for a change. Then the weather turned cold...then my heating broke down...for the second time in a month...

"Oh well", I thought, "at least I know what to do this time". I have loads of electric heaters for just this eventuality, and my lovely wood-burning stove, so I set them all going and tried to keep the cold at bay. Only trouble was that this cursed house has eccentric wiring and apparently has only a 30A main fuse so...when I switched on my cooker as well...the fuse blew, melted the wire and sent noxious fumes swirling through the house. So, it's minus 5C outside and I have no central heating and now no electricity either - oh joy!

I was very fortunate to get an emergency repair done (eventually) on the fuse, through my very helpful insurers, so I now have power back but of course I can't put all the heaters on at once, so the house is EXTREMELY cold. The heating man is coming today so it might be fixed by nightfall but in the meantime I am in eskimo layers and wishing I lived in Australia.

Mind you, it is a sparkling day out there and if I can get my brain working I'll go and take some pictures to share with you. In the meantime though, please send me warm thoughts - every little helps!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Do Something Powerful

Today is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today, more than ever, it is harder for the ordinary person to live a quiet life without fear or interference from the state. This document has never been more relevant.

I joined Amnesty because I was fed up with the little guy around the world being squished by bullies - whether terrorists or states, and deprived of the chance to live out their life in peace. This video shows how you can make a difference too:

Monday, 8 December 2008


I've been preparing some more books for selling and came across a fab little book which I bet no-one out there has heard of but which is packed with witty aphorisms, and I just had to share some of them with you. The book is called All Trivia by Logan Pearsall Smith. Have a read at these -

People say that Life is the thing, but I prefer Reading.

I can't forgive my friends for dying; I don't find these vanishing acts of theirs at all amusing.

What's more enchanting than the voices of young people when you can't hear what they say?

and this one strikes a horribly familiar note...

Edification: 'I must really improve my Mind,' I tell myself, and once more begin to patch and repair that crazy structure. So I toil and toil on at the vain task of edification, though the wind tears off the tiles, the floors give way, the ceilings fall, strange birds build untidy nests in the rafters, and owls hoot and laugh in the tumbling chimneys.

I'd like to give you more examples of this forgotten writer's gems, but I need to go; I can hear avian giggling and chortling coming from somewhere and I must go and investigate...

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Five of Me

I've tagged myself with a meme I found over at The Radula - check out Kate's brilliant t-shirts and stuff while you're there.

It's a Five Things Meme. Feel free to tag yourselves.

5 Things I Was Doing Ten Years Ago

Trying to settle in to Highland life and not finding it easy.
Getting used to being 40 (you know what that makes me now!)
Trying to lose weight.
Getting used to being an orphan, having lost both parents in six months.
Falling in love with the wildlife I was seeing for the first time - especially the hare.

5 Things on My To-do List Today

Feed the birds (done)
Clear the snow off my drive (done)
Do Christmas shopping (partial success - went shopping but didn't find anything...)
Strip wallpaper (that ain't going to get done now - tough)
Play World of Warcraft - later, once it's dark outside, with something daft on the telly...yum

5 Snacks I love

Cheddar Cheese Kettle Chips
Peanuts - salted, dry roasted, in the shell - anything
Thorntons chocolate covered vanilla fudge - trying to resist having a second piece as I write - oh stuff it, I give in.
My own choc chip cookies.
Cheeselets - only at Christmas, in their special tub - Twiglets too.

5 Things I'd do If I was a Millionaire

Depends whether you had the million to live on or to play with. If I had it to play with I'd...

Build a house.
Support a couple of charities in a substantial way.
Buy lots and lots of books, and lots of really good shelving to store them on.
Buy a shiny new car.
Start a bookshop and staff it so I could just waft in, buy lots of books and waft out again.

5 Places I've Lived

Nigeria - but I was too small to remember anything about it, dammit.
Inverness, when I was a child.
Ayrshire on the West Coast of Scotland, where I left my heart.
Inverness, again.

5 Jobs I've Had

School Librarian
Medical Librarian
Christmas Bookseller
Bookfinder (beginning to see a theme here?)
and Needlepoint Designer

Which Art Movement Are You?

If you're anything like me you'll find it hard to pick just one answer in this quiz - don't know if this makes me very artistic or just indecisive...

Pinched from Archie, that old curmudgeon -

You Are Romanticism

You are likely to see the world as it should be, not as it is.

You prefer to celebrate the great things people do... not the horrors they're capable of.

For you, there is nothing more inspiring than a great hero.

You believe that great art reflects the artist's imagination and true ideals.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Not All Bad

Hi all!

I have grumbled at length about living in the country, with its isolation, lack of coffee houses and, recently, the perils of its single track roads. But there are compensations...

This is the woodland track that lies just up the hill from me. On a day like this, I don't hate the place quite so much! The old dog and I usually stick to the roads but I couldn't resist striking out along this path yesterday when I saw that no-one else had walked that way since the snow had fallen. The snow lay soft and inviting and we both took pleasure from laying down our foot and paw prints. Leaving tracks in the snow is almost as much fun as stamping through the leaves in autumn - it's one of the few occasions when you can behave like a child without attracting stares.

And this is the view as we walked back, our pioneer tracks before us. My little dog has dementia but she loves her daily walks and it was joyous to see her bouncing through the snow like a young thing.

Days like this bring out the best in country living - true, I was housebound - not wanting to risk the hired car in the snow - but how lucky I felt to be walking completely alone in the woods with my dog. Looks like it'll be the same today. It's cold and dry. No more snow but the roads are still not clear and the new cautious me won't be going anywhere until they are. So it'll be another walk up the hill in the light and the chill air, and maybe we'll go left instead of right and hope that no-one's been that way either, and we'll stamp our little mark on some more of the land, and the balance will swing back to staying on here...

Monday, 1 December 2008

XKCD Does it Again

This tickled me:

from the excellent (and scarily intelligent)