Thursday, July 31, 2008
See what happens; I go away for a while and she gets all cocky. Yes, I know, poor choice of words from a chicken but you know what I mean.
So, greetings Earthlings and how are you? Still war mongering and squabbling, I see. Still trying to pull the wool over each others’ eyes, still doing a splendid job of screwing up the planet. I tell you, you have no idea how it looks from out here. This teeny tiddly little planet filled with one particular species that believes it has got it “all right”. Wrong! So very, very wrong. I said once before that my money was on the bacteria. It still is – well so okay, it’s split evenly between them and the viruses. And at least they understand the concept of evolution. But not you lot. Oh no, you just keep on with the same old, same old, century after century, one millennium after another. A chicken could get dizzy watching you go round in ever-diminishing circles. It’s really like watching one of those soap operas that just goes on and on – you can not watch for three years and still pick up the story because it hasn’t really changed.
And I know you think you’re civilized, but of course you’re not – you’re positively primeval. I mean, prime evil. I’m sure an ancestor somewhere went and watched some early version of Cruella De Ville and decided to model himself on said fiend. I mean, really, couldn’t you have chosen a better role model. Even a bad-tempered hippopotamus puts most of you to shame. And let’s face it, while the hippo is one animal which kills more humans than most, it’s only because you insist on paddling your canoe over the poor beast’s snout. What do you expect? I mean, really?
Huh? What was that? You don’t want to be told about your shortcomings? No, I’m sure you don’t. Most of you are generally not overly fond of the truth. What? You want to know how Granny Were is? Are you sure? Because the reality of that is she is meaner, nastier and more wereish than ever. But okay, so here’s a tasty tidbit to titillate your senses. She’s in lurve. With a werewolf. No, I kid you not. On our last trip out here she wandered off for a bit of full moon squawking and found herself in the depths of the Transylvanian Alps. No, I’ve no idea how she got there. But the upshot of the thing is she ran headfirst into this huge, muscular brute of a hound and it was lust at first sight. Let me tell you, before you even try to imagine it, there is nothing quite so distressing as the sight of one’s granny in full-lust. Because, I’ve learned to my utter embarrassment, that not only does my werechicken Granny do the full lunar thing, she also does the full frontal lunar thing – and when it’s with a werewolf – oh my, you should see the fur and feathers fly. Honestly, one as young as me should never be subjected to such were-ish erotica. And oh yes, she did the full red lace and leather negligee thing – just so he could rip it to shreds. I swear, it’s at least five years of therapy for me. Bet you wish you hadn’t asked, right?
Well, on that note, I find I’ve gone a bit hot around the neck-feathers, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to raid Vanilla’s drinks cabinet. I could do with some mind-numbing.
Don’t bother to be good, because I know you can’t but do try to remember you’re not the only species on the planet. Ba-kaaaak!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I've learned, after one too many experiences, that ignoring one’s intuition or sixth sense is not a smart move. Today, I listen.
So there I was last week, toddling towards the post office when two guys came walking towards me. As they drew close I looked into the eyes of one, saw the eyes flick towards my handbag and past it and saw those eyes change. It was a subtle thing, imperceptible almost, but it was there. I had no doubt that my bag was about to be snatched.
I let the guys get two or three paces behind me and then I spun round. And sure enough, there was the one guy, a foot away for me, ready to pounce. I eyeballed him, his eyes flickered and he dodged and moved past me. I have absolutely no doubt that if I hadn’t spun when I did, my bag would have been ripped off my shoulder. Sometimes you just know.
Men in gyms:
Will someone please tell me why there is always one man in the gym who gets out of the swimming pool and in full view of everyone, wraps his towel around his waist and indiscreetly removes his wet swimming costume? It’s not like the walk to the changing room is that far or that there is any reason why he can’t wait to remove the wet costume. Is it perhaps because some men just enjoy the feel of their dangly bits dingling and dangling against their thighs in full public view? Some kind of cheap thrill, perhaps? For my part, I always wonder what would happen if the towel unraveled itself and went plummeting to the floor. Aha, perhaps that’s what they’re secretly hoping for – some sort of perverse opportunity for much hoped for "flashing” !
And because I know some of you want to know…
The snapper snapped. (And look, not an alien chicken in sight!)
Does anyone have a trick for getting rid of dove mobs? If so, please let me know. Every morning we put out food for the guinea fowl. Every morning the guinea fowl are mobbed by masses of doves, which though considerably smaller than the fowl, overwhelm them with sheer numbers. The guinea fowl, in a state of high dudgeon end up chasing each other and the squirrels while the doves snarf down the food faster than you can say apple-pie.
Someone did suggest making a cut out silhouette of a sparrowhawk, attaching it to guylines running across the garden and pulling a string to set the thing flying and so upsetting the doves entirely. D is sufficiently Heath-Robinsonian to do just such a thing… Barely bears thinking about!
My first huge rewrite of my current novel is now complete and I have started capturing all the changes. I just have one small problem. I can’t read my own red scribbles that deface every page of the manuscript. Oh woe is me!Right, now I'm going to ground with a magnifying glass, my glasses and any other tool I can find which will help me decipher my notes!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I read somewhere the other day that photosharing sites like Flickr and Picasa spell the death knell of professional photography. And, as a friend said, “Well, with digital Joe Soap can now take a thousand photos to get the one perfect shot.” Given that I’ve always shot off an entire roll of film in search of the one perfect shot, digital is right up my street. And it must be said, there is some stunning photography on the photo sites - and I really would urge you to go and take a mooch around if you want to indulge in some sheer beauty and creativity for a while. You can see from the photographs that people really have a passion for their hobby and many in fact turn it into a true art form or into way of earning an income by sending work to stock photography and greeting card companies.
But as much as there is all this great photography out there, there is also another phenomenon…
I’ve spoken before about the sycophancy that exists in and around the social web and many others have also commented it – and a good number of arguments have arisen. But if one thought it could get bad in blogosphere, you should see it in action on a site like Flickr. (Note, I'm using Flickr as an example because it's the site with which I'm most familiar but there are several photosharing sites out there like Webshots, Dropshots, Photobucket and, as I've already mentioned, Picasa.)
I signed up to Flickr as I wanted a place to post and store my pics without cluttering up my blog, but having been there for a while now I’ve noticed this other phenomenon. As with blogs there is a comments feature. There is also an awards feature. And this is where the madness really starts. Now while I’m all for a bit of fun, reciprocity and mutual admiration, I’m less keen on rank insanity and rampant sycophancy. And boy is there some rampant sycophancy on Flickr.
It seems one of the aims of some people is to rack up as many comments and awards as possible. To gain or give an award you have to join one of the gazillion photographic groups on Flickr. Could be nature photography, macro photography, animal photography, flower photography, blue ribbon, platinum, gold star, envy of, my winner etc photography. There are more groups out there than is imaginable. And for every award given and received, the receiver, if posting the awarded shot to said group is generally obliged to comment on or provide an additional award to others in the group. So it’s a case of someone was nice to me, now I’ll be nice to you. Kind of a play it forward thing. The trouble is it can get totally out of hand. And if you've been given several awards it can take hours doddling from group to group dispensing complimentary largesse.
Take the case of Nameless Wonder. Frankly, I’m convinced Nameless Wonder must be running a social experiment in sycophancy and self gratitude. Nameless appears to visit numerous people where Nameless leaves a string of awards. (For the life of me I can't work out how Nameless chooses which photo to praise because it seems quite arbitrary.) Needless to say, one then feels obliged to return the favour and post an award or two on Nameless’s photos. But here’s the thing. Nameless’s photos are “ornery” at best. Yet, Nameless, because of the award “generosity” shown to others garners bundles of awards on the odd photo which is posted every now and then. I cannot for the life of me believe that the awards are given with any degree of sincerity because the photos simply don’t merit it. It is all, I’m sure, about “you scratched my back so now I’d better scratch yours" with the subtext, "because (ultimately) I want more backscratching from you”. It opens up an interesting psychological debate (which could be the subject of a whole post) about the neediness and desire for self gratification to which we seem so inclined.
The other instance is Nameless Wonder 2. This Wonder has over two and half thousand contacts. Can one actually keep track of so many people? He is a member of more groups than I can count. His approach seems to be as follows: You see a photo of his which you genuinely like. You leave a comment complimenting the work and maybe bestow an award. Next thing you know, you’re one of his contacts and so the mutual admiration society is expected to develop.
Frankly, I just can’t be doing with it. As much as I enjoy photography, I don’t do it to gain the approval or admiration of others. I do it because I love it. I post my work to Flickr not because I want kudos but because it’s a place to store some of my better work (i.e. it’s a good backup system) and where my friends can, should they so wish, see what I’ve been up to. It also provides those who don’t know South Africa in its multiple facets with a chance to take a peek.
Creative expression is one of the greatest gifts given to us and there is some truly stunning work out there that deserves praise, but honestly, this insane butt-licking that goes on, well, erm, it’s actually just a bit too egocentrically icky.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Am I blogging again? You know, I'm really not sure. Perhaps. Maybe. Does it look like it?
I turn here anyway as a result for the need for levity. For you, that means expect some silliness. Sometimes silly is the only way to go.
Of course, with little to say for myself (ha ha ha), I thought I should find something to jog me along. And unafraid to steal from the rich and famous (no, don't call me Robin), I came across this meme on John Green's blog. You don't know who he is? Oh where have you been? Alright, let me tell you - he's a brilliant YA author and Nerdfighter.
1. Do you like blue cheese?
Yes but my insides don't. It makes them go soggy.
2. Have you ever smoked?
Yes. It was a stupid and expensive idea, especially given that I was what was known as a "social" smoker. How deeply uncool is that?
3. Do you own a gun?
No, but I own four cans of mace. Be afraid.
4. What flavor Kool Aid was your favorite?
Kool Aid? It's still around? People drink it? Euurgh.
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments?
6. What do you think of hot dogs?
I think they should be allowed to swim in cool rivers.
Oh, you mean the eating kind. I think they're disgusting - and have the same effect as blue cheese.
7. Favorite Christmas movie?
Christmas movie. Look, we all know how I feel about Christmas, do I even have to answer this? I must? Oh well, how about The Grinch.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
9. Can you do push ups?
Why would I want to?
10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry?
Depends on where the moon is but I'm quite keen on my engagement ring and my granny's old starburst garnet pendant.
11. Favorite hobby?
Is writing a hobby? Gym? Reading?
12. Do you have A.D.D.?
Nah, I don't think so.
13. Do you wear glasses/contacts?
Did the big bad wolf? Seriously: sometimes when I read. It appears to have something to do with advancing years.
14. Middle name?
Is this a need to know question? What will you give me if I tell you?
15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment?
Why am I doing this? Is anyone going to laugh when they read this? Why are those bloody guinea fowl still ba-kaaking, I've just fed them!
16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink?
Water, apple juice, cocoa.
17. Current worry?
Just one? You're kidding me, right? See post below.
18. Current hate right now?
Doctors and dentists and antimalarials.
19. Favorite place to be?
Um, just one? Mauritian beach, Tuscan hillside, holed up in my study.
20. How did you bring in the new year?
I had nothing to do with it, it brought itself in - though I'm sure millions of others tried to help it along.
21. Where would you like to go?
22. Name three people who will complete this?
Well, I'm kinda hoping Bob Mugabe, Jacob Zuma and Prince Charles will have a go.
23. Do you own slippers?
24. What shirt are you wearing?
Erm, I'm doing that slobby writer thing. I'm still in my jammies.
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
26. Can you whistle?
I think I can but for many years my mother has assured me I cannot. You decide.
27. Favorite color?
Just one? Oh okay, greenbluepinkmauve
28. Would you be a pirate?
Only if Johnny Depp was also playing.
29. What songs do you sing in the shower?
I'm not really sure you could call it singing.
30. Favorite Girl's Name?
Samantha. Nope, don't ask me why and if you ask me tomorrow I'll probably give you a different answer.
31. Favorite boy's name?
Luke. And the same as the above applies. Right now Luke is a bit top of mind because he's all over the pages of my current WIP (that's Work in Progress for you who don't know.)
32. What's in your pocket right now?
Hmm, it transpires there are a few grains of mixed corn, some sunflowers seeds and a lot of fluff in there. Did I mention I've just fed the guinea fowl?
33. Last thing that made you laugh?
John Green's vlog with the clip on critical analysis of Catcher in the Rye.
34. What vehicle do you drive?
It's called the Blue Peril. It's a Honda with a go-faster engine.
35. Worst injury you've ever had?
Sprained knee as the result of drinking a bottle of gin and then trying to do a handstand on the back of a couch. It was a long time ago and we don't want to go back there.
36. Do you love where you live?
Do you really need me to answer that? I mean just look at all the posts below. Oh alright then, well, let's just say: nice place, shame about the people. Nuf zed.
37. How many TVs do you have in your house?
Two, but only one gets used.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Since the bloggaversary is long over, best I post something else, eh?
I’ve been trying to work out what it is, beyond blogger burnout, that’s keeping me from blogging. And then it struck me. It’s because I have very little positive or uplifting to say. And mostly that’s because I’m simply in a state of veering from one state of anxiety to another. I fret about the state of South Africa and the increasing rumblings that are being generated, the increasing racism towards ethnic minorities, the increasing and brooding discontent and resentment. Violence is simmering and I worry where the country is headed - it doesn’t look like a good place. Then I stress over our own impending move from South Africa. Is it the right decision, have we chosen the right country to go to, will we settle in, find work, a house etc.? It's a huge decision and by no means an easy or unemotional one. Then I get concerned about my mum and leaving her behind and what will happen to her. By now she should really be living in a secure retirement complex but she refuses to budge from her home and attempts from several quarters to convince her as to the prudence of such a move are met with vehement vitriol. For now, lest I get several further clips across the ear, I've just let things be. I know when I'm encountering the immovable object! Then I worry about my mum’s sister who’s suddenly found that she hasn’t provided sufficiently for her old age and is going to have to sell her home in order to survive - and I wonder what I can do to help. Daily I fret about the exchange rate as I watch the rand lurch and wobble against sterling, I despair at rising food and fuel prices which do nothing to aid the brooding resentment of the masses. Then I wonder about my decision to write for young adults – I’m sure if I’d known what a wobbly and difficult road it was, I’d never have started, but now, having begun, and despite the increasing difficulty of getting published, I feel I should still keep trying. And so it goes. And face it; you hardly want to read about all that doom and gloom. And so I find, with little positive or bright to say, it’s best just to steer clear of the blogosphere.
I suppose of course, I could just follow my own good advice about living in the now, being mindful, living only in the moment and letting tomorrow take care of itself. But that, I'm finding, is considerably easier said than done. And, of course, I pound myself about that too! Ah woe, I'm sure many a good Buddhist or Taoist monk must be shaking a collective head at me!
Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom and I’m kept busy enough with ten thousand admin related things, though I do confess the progress on various edits is going far too slowly and there’s far too much procrastination involved. But I’ve been out with the camera and there’re are plenty of new photos on Flickr, but where once the beauty of South Africa buoyed me up, now I just find it saddens me, leaves me muttering, “nice place, shame about the people” (and that’s all of us, not any particular group).
I suppose, I could tell you about my interaction with a young male baboon who decided to try and intimidate me by pouncing at me and uttering a self important bark. And who, when I didn’t respond, tried the same again. At which point I just shook my head at him and advised him to stop being a silly twit. Then he, looking rather shamefaced and embarrassed, went off and hid behind one of his aunts. Silly twit indeed.
Or I could tell you about the game I’m playing with the guinea fowl – having put a large mirror in the window. They love to admire themselves, it seems, and will spend hours pecking the glass, until a second guinea fowl comes along and the first sidles off as if to say, “Who? Me? Admiring myself? Oh pul-lease.” Yet the minute Guinea #2 wanders off, Guinea #1 is right back there fluttering her eyelashes at her reflection and kissing the glass for all she’s worth. Ah vanity.
So there you go, me peeking back at you, giving you a brief wave and saying, yep, I’m still here and yep, I miss you too :-) And oh, it snowed – see pics on Flickr.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Happy Bloggaversary to Vanilla,
Happy Bloggaversary, dear Vanillaaaaaa!
Happy Bloggaversary, Vanilla.
Hip, hop, hip, hop hooray!
Yep, despite being on a blogging hiatus, Absolute Vanilla is one year old today. Atyllah the Hen, bless her little yellow legs, was two on Wednesday. All these bloggaversaries, and here I am not even blogging!
A huge thanks must go to Sameera for remembering it was Vanilla’s bloggaversary! Thank you, dear, you are such a sweetie!
And lest I forget - Happy Independence Day to all Americans. And Happy Birthday to my mother!
As for life on blogging hiatus, well, let’s just say it’s winter, the rain is piddling down, it’s gloomy and grey and all good and sensible bears should be hibernating. However the Vanilla Bear is busy editing, rewriting, critiquing, reading, cooking, drinking vast vats of cocoa, and making plans to escape the insanity into which this benighted country is rapidly plummeting.
But enough of that.
I’m not sure when I’ll get back to regular blogging and when I do, there may be a few changes. They do say a change is as good as a holiday, don’t they, and I’m all for holidays. Bring ‘em on!
Meanwhile, hope you’re all well and having fun!
Take care, soar high and may the force be with you! :-)