Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A walk into town

I was asked to show you some more pictures of my area, so here's what I see when I walk into town. It's a fifteen minute walk.

This is the path about five minutes into the walk, with the road running along on the left.

There's a lot of greenery around all the houses.

You're looking right at the main road here.

It's not all pretty. This is the railway bridge I have to go under. Luckily, it's very well lit at night.

This is the town itself.

And an English shopping mall.

What is it like where you live?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Star Struck

27th January 2009

Your stars for today

March 21 - April 19

People may snipe at you because they envy your enormous talents. Believe in yourself and don't let the naysayers get you down.

Famous people born under this sign: Timothy Dalton, Pat Robertson,

April 20 - May 20

Family may be a disappointment to you. It's up to you to make the first move so think about making that casserole and taking it round.

Famous people born under this sign: Queen Elizabeth, Charlotte Bronte, my mother.

May 21 - June 20

It's time to celebrate! Take all your mates out for a beer and make sure you buy the first round and maybe the second one too.

Famous people born under this sign: John F Kennedy, Vincent Price, my mate Tom.

Cancer June 21 - July 22

Nitpicking over money will just lose you friends. Treat loans as gifts and you can't go far wrong.

Famous people born under this sign: Meryl Streep, Ross Perot, my brother.

Leo July 23 - August 22

Enjoy your day while knowing that other more talented people are working their nuts off to make a living.

Famous people born under this sign: Neil Armstrong, Jerry Falwell, Julian Meteor, my lazy kid brother.

Virgo August 23 - September 22

Don't sweat the small stuff. A car door is easily repaired and which is more important: your car or your son?

Famous people born under this sign: Sean Connery, Mother Teresa, Dad.

Libra September 23 - October 22

Envy is an unattractive quality. Show former classmates your generosity of spirit by inviting them out for a drink.

Famous people born under this sign: Brigitte Bardot, Bob Geldof, my mate Alan.

Scorpio October 23 - November 21

What's done is done. Walls can be repainted and floors relaid so leave recriminations behind you when you start writing those references.

Famous people born under this sign: Bill Gates, Pablo Picasso, my ex-boss.

Sagittarius November 22 - December 21

Sagittarians have a great sense of humour and you can show this off today by taking your co-workers jokes in good part. There's no need to retaliate, just enjoy the belly laugh.

Famous people born under this sign: Tina Turner, Baruch Spinoza, my colleague Mick.

Capricorn December 22 - Januray 19

A beautiful spirit in a beautiful body. Show how much you love someone by making them a delicious meal tonight.

Famous people born under this sign: Joan of Arc, Joseph Stalin, my girl-friend.

Aquarius January 20 - February 18

You get what you deserve in life so expect some financial difficulties ahead as justice steps in and alimony stops.

Famous people born under this sign: Christian Dior, Lewis Carroll, my ex-wife.

Pisces February 19 - March 20

Today could mark a big change at work. Stop micromanaging your subordinates and start doing some real work. And buy some deodorant.

Famous people born under this sign: Neville Chamberlain, Jimmy Swaggart, my boss.

28th January 2009

Situations Vacant

Astrologer needed urgently for popular blog column. Must have own astrolabe. Send CV to Rabbit Times

Previous applicants need not apply.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Naming characters

Are you any good at naming characters? It's something I struggle with.

At the moment I've got a main character called Natasha in a short story I'm writing. I know this is the wrong name for her but I'm not sure what the right name is. My stalled novel has had at least three changes of the main character's name and the only way I could be sure I'd made the last change is if I give up on the story altogether.

If you like naming characters then you might like to pop over to Bevie's blog and offer him some help with ten little muses he wants to name.

You might also want to offer me a few hints on how you go about choosing names.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Your memory may not be as bad as you think it is. Research shows that how bad you think your memory is depends far more on your mood than on your memory itself. I found the summary of the research at Mind Hacks.

I always feel slightly disturbed to realise how much of my thinking goes on without my knowing about it. On the other hand, it's reassuring to realise that my memory may not be as bad as I think it is!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Rabbit Hole Day

Just in case you're interested, January 27th (Lewis Carroll's birthday) is Rabbit Hole Day when bloggers and journallers change their blogging style for the day.

Let's have a day where nobody's life makes sense anymore, where any random LJ* you click on will bring you some strange new tale. Let's all fall down the Rabbit Hole for 24 hours and see what's there. It will be beautiful.

*If you replace 'LJ' with 'blog' it all makes sense.

I wonder if there are blogs where we wouldn't even notice?


I am an amateur and I've decided I'm going to stay that way. Sure, I like writing. Sure, I've done Nano a few times and produced a whole heap of words. I admit that I love the idea of holding a book in my hands with my name on the front cover, knowing that my words would be read by thousands of people.

The truth is that we can't all be professionals. My husband plays guitar and no one asks him when his next hit single is coming out. I'm going to treat my writing in the same way, and not get caught up in thinking about what might happen if I got published.

Oddly enough, I think I'm more likely to actually do some writing when I take this attitude. I always work best when I think of it as playing.

So I'm officially not part of the competition in the slush pile. All the more room for you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thank you, Scott

I've just found the website of the graphic artist who designed my avatar for me and gave it to me for free: TOPIA7 design blog. So I want to take this chance to say, "Thank you, Scott". I've used this avatar pretty much everywhere I go online and I love it.

Isn't it great when you find people again that you haven't seen around in years?

Do you want a reply?

When I first started blogging I was lucky if I got even one comment on any post. (Thank you, Jessi, Sylvia and Robin for being among my first commenters.) I made sure to reply to every comment to show that I was reading them.

Now I sometimes get four or five comments on a post before I get time to reply to any of them. Sometimes you talk to each other and I'm not sure you expect a reply. Sometimes you say something short and funny, or profound, and I'm not sure what to say to you. I feel awkward because I'm not sure if by replying to each of you I'm keeping a stranglehold on the blog, or if you expect me to respond.

My sense is that some comments need a response and some don't, although I'm not confident that I can identify which is which. So I decided that I needed to find out what you think. What do you want when you comment on a blog?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Accidental Story

I wrote a story before breakfast.

I woke up this morning wanting to hold my old tarot cards in my hand. They've been in the loft for over a year and I haven't missed them but today I wanted them. I could remember the feel of them in my hands as I shuffled them, the edges of the cards soft from use. I remembered the bright, evocative pictures and the way they could be made to tell a story. I also remembered the frustration I use to feel that I could easily read the cards but that I had no real use for them. I don't believe that pretty pictures can tell us the future, much as I'd like them to.

I was thinking that I could make a story out of this, once I got up and dressed and down to my computer but the story kept writing itself in my head. So I found a notebook and a pen and wrote it down straight away.

This is what writing is meant to be like. I wish I could make it happen more often.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How to give a five star critique

I wrote about giving feedback on other people's work in an earlier post and I stressed the need to emphasise the positive.

Over at Critters there is an article on how to deliver a critique diplomatically which puts the stress on how you give the feedback. The most important point is that unless you phrase the critique in such a way that the other person can receive it you are wasting your time.

The main thing you have to do to make a critique easy to receive? It seems that it's easier to take notice of a critique when the critter makes it clear that everything they are saying is their own opinion. So plenty of "I think" and "I feel" and "it didn't work for me" and none of "you must" and "the rules". And definitely no attacking the author!

It's a good article and I recommend it to you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


The garden looked beautiful this morning after a hard frost but I pity the local ducks. This is their pond:

And here you can see the poor little creatures freezing their feet on the ice. I wouldn't want to be a duck today.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Yoga with Cats

Need some exercise? No time to do any? The Cat's Whiskers has the solution. All you need is a bed and a cat.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Nature is good for you

Psyblog has just posted some research that shows that a walk in the country is good for your short-term memory. What I find interesting is the finding that looking at pictures of nature has a similar effect. So as a public service here is today's short-term memory booster, just for you:

It was taken at Pyrford Lock. The very best picture I have of that area is on my desktop but it has a picture of my Beloved* in it, so I wasn't sure that I wanted to post it up here for all to see.

When I first started working in a school, about eight years ago, I had a cupboard of a room for an office but with a glorious view of a huge tree in the school grounds. I regularly stopped work just to gaze out of the window at the tree and draw sustenance from it. When I moved to a much larger, pleasanter room I missed the tree. I wonder if indoor plants have the same effect.

*Yes, "my Beloved" is the same as "my Husband" just in case anyone was wondering.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

This is for Geoff

My slave never posts the best pictures. This is me taking my ease on the chair she calls "hers". Now tell me I'm not a fine figure of a cat.

Nice little word game

Eight Letters in Search of a Word

I've seen games like this before, where you have to find anagrams and make words from a selection of letters, but I thought this was nicely done. I like being able to use the keyboard to input words.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

What I did on New Year's Day

Husband and I didn't go skating, although we have in previous years, but it was pretty seeing all the skaters against the backdrop of the Thames on one side and Hampton Court Palace on the other.

We had a lovely walk by the river.

We even saw a black swan. I don't think I've ever seen one of those before. Did you know that they have little curly feathers on their backs, just where their wings end? I didn't.

Now, don't you all want to come over to London and meet up in April? Look how pretty England is.

Friday, January 02, 2009

"Thank you" letters

I wrote my Christmas "thank you" letters today and they're all posted! I only had six to do and with big handwriting and only one A5 side to cover it doesn't take very long.

When we got married, I wrote all the "thank you" letters for all of our wedding presents. Now that was a real challenge.

I only usually write now when I've been sent a present through the post or if I haven't opened it in front of the person giving it to me. I prefer it to a phone call as I'm not very good on the phone and my uncle who sends me a generous token every year has a very quiet voice and I have terrible trouble hearing him.

Is this old-fashioned or does everyone do it?

I wrote something!

I've had a very stuck period after Nano when I haven't written anything, not even a "thank you" letter. (Guilt strikes me. I must get some letters out today.)

Then today I found OneTwoFiver and I've got the start of a new story going! I don't think that particular story is going anywhere but the important thing is I'm writing again.

The OneTwoFiver webpage gets you to write just one word. Then two. Then five, ten, twenty, fifty... By the time you get to a hundred, the words are flowing. It's a great idea, because anyone can write just one word. What's interesting to me is that I ended up writing something totally different from my usual stuff: about a guy waking up in a wood after a party and not knowing how he got there.
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