Tech your time

Just a short rant today as I seem to have run out of time for some reason. Which is highly ironic, if you read on.

Go on.

Read on.

I betcha didn’t think that vampires are heavily into their technology…

Nah, thanks Hollywood. I do like my old stuff, yes. But I limit it to things like clothes, furniture, music, books etc. For instance, next to my desk is a 70s style shelf with a 1920s phone and one of this Echo thingies sat on it.

So: creature comforts – retro; labour-saving devices – as modern as I can get them.

I know I’ve also told you about my attention span being appalling. A classic example is today when my phone went off to remind me to come back to the human world for a little while.

Ah! That’s where I was going with this.

I have a multitude of reminders on my phone. I jokingly call it the other half of my brain – the working half. And this is another vampire thing. To you, a week is a week, to me – it’s nothing. It goes by in a flash. I remember being asked once whether or not I had seen any of my former classmates from grammar school… I said that I’d seen Bob a couple of weeks previously.

Wrong, apparently.

It seems Bob had moved to New Zealand eighteen months previously.

Oops.

So…

Now I have those reminders and alarms that help me keep track of time as you humans perceive it.

And I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I spoke to you last. I swear it was only a couple of days ago that I told you that I had no intention of storing any of your information.

And when the beeping noise went off this morning, I was all set to shout at my phone (’cause that’ll help) in a fit of righteous indignation (is there any other kind?) until I checked and yes, it really has been a fortnight.

Random question – how do you talk about your Echo device in front of her without her butting into the conversation? I can’t even say words like ‘relax’ or ‘taxis’ in her presence without her chirping up with ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know that one.’ or blasting me with some completely unrelated thrash metal (Why?!).

Another random question – what’s the weirdest alarm you have on your phone?

That’s a rhetorical question, I assure you!

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Summer’s here! No it isn’t… Well…

People always joke that you can tell it’s Christmas because Easter eggs are in the shop. Well, we’ve just done with Easter (there are still loads of eggs in the shop, mind you) so, one could be forgiven for thinking that it must be summer now. Is it just me that gets confused by this, or do you humans have a problem with it too?

True, it rains all the time here, so it could very well be summer and nobody has told me. But the rain slamming down on the conservatory roof feels at odds wth the flip flops and picnic paraphernalia I saw half an hour ago in the shops.

The clocks have gone back. The body clock however is having slightly more difficulty adjusting. I’d hate to wake up late one morning and realise that I’d missed summer. It is, after all, the best day of the year. Yes, I know. I don’t like sunshine. It hates me back. But a summer’s day is delightful, if confusing in the wardrobe department.

Sunhat and wellies?

Scarf and sandals?

Waders and sunglasses?

Oh, the combinations are endless.

The furball continues to take me on long walks (she’s currently mapping the local area in her little doggy brain, and enjoys knitting places together in the oddest combinations). She also continues to try to drag me into the sea after her. And all the while, she still refuses to stick her nose out of the door if it’s raining. Consequently, she’s in the conservatory, surveying her kingdom from the warm, dry safety of her sofa. And while she’s out there doing her ‘Mistress-of-all-she-surveys’ routine, it’ll hopefully give me the opportunity to squeeze in some yoga without her

a) giving me an impromptu face wash

b) mistaking my ‘downward dog’ for me wanting to play with her (that often ends up with a rope toy swung into my face)

c) showing me up with how weirdly bendy she is

Our earlier walk was, surprise surprise, on the beach, which this past week has been increasingly populated by tourists with their free-range mutts. Next week, she’s got a shock in store. I’m starting running again. And she’s coming with me.

Ah! I know what the giveaway thing is. I’ve remembered why I keep thinking summer might be on its way.

Endless holiday adverts and people bashing on about being “beach body ready”

Huh?

The beach is ten minutes down the road.

I have a body.

Boom.

Job done.

Oh! You mean the body has got to be perfect?

And by that, you mean so skinny that I could snap in half if caught in a high wind?

Well, that’s going to take a bit longer.

Because I refuse to be told what to look like.

Because even if I did, the vox populi (which thanks heavens, is not vox dei) would still find something to binch about.

Because I prefer to be strong than skinny.

And because, in order to fulfil this impossible and fake ideal, I’d probably have to give up chocolate.

And I’m no quitter.

 

There’s no business…

…like snow business.

First of all, I hope everyone is keeping well and warm. I don’t have a problem with the cold weather. One of the advantages of my vampire metabolism. I don’t feel the cold the same way that you do.

I have to admit, the only problem I do have is that when I’m writing, my hands have a tendency to get a bit chilly, but that’s about it. I think they move so fast over the keyboard that the blood gets confused and doesn’t know where it’s supposed to be… Still, it’s a great excuse to have lots of hot drinks.

Here’s my current favourite: turmeric latte. Get your spices mixed… 3 parts turmeric, 2 parts cinnamon and 1 part each nutmeg & ginger. Throw in a pinch of finely ground black pepper (helps absorption). Keep it in a cute jar. Heat up a mug of milk, stir in 1/2 teaspoon and sweeten. All those lovely spices will warm you up and just taste downright naughty. Obviously, I use non-dairy milk (coconut works best with this), because, well, vampire metabolism… Can’t touch most animal-based stuff. Ironic really.

The furbaby is refusing to leave the house. While other people are posting photos and videos online of their doggies leaping around like joyful loons in the snow, mine has turned into a teenager.

She’s staring at me, sandwiched between two (yes, two!) duvets.

“You need to go outside.”

Silence.

“Food?”

Flicker of interest.

“Walk?”

Death stare.

Last night, just after midnight, she leapt up and decided she had to go out. Now. Right now. Now! Come on, hoomin!

You have got to be kidding me, pup.

So she darted out, neatly dodging the knee-high drift at the back door. She hared around, did what she needed to do, and threw herself back inside, in much the same style as a stunt man in an action movie.

And, pretty much like a stunt man, she decided to make use of available props…

Like the snow drift.

Cue internal explosion of snow. A wall of cold froth boomed its way into the conservatory (the same one she’d been sunning herself in only a couple of days previously).

Result? Snow on the floor. Snow on the walls, the windows, the ceiling (what the-?!), and one snow-coated vampire. Head to foot.

So while she thunders her way back upstairs (probably nicking my space in the bed), I’m stood there picking potential snowballs out of my ears, mouth, nose…

We’ve gone from action movie to comedy in ten seconds flat.

Thanks.

Stay warm. Stay safe. And if you can help anyone else to, please do.

Take care.

Re:Fuel

Serious post time.

Bullying.

Harassment.

Call it what you will. It takes many forms. I’ve been reading up on all this a lot recently – surprise, surprise and while there’s a lot of stuff out there on bullying, it’s still mostly school-oriented. I observe it everywhere. I may be a recluse, but I still like to sneak out and people-watch. The problem is, it doesn’t stop when you leave school. There is no age limitation on being a bully. Or on being bullied. There is still very little is about bullying in the workplace or within families – even with recent events. ‘Straightforward’ harassment / abuse, yes, but not much else.

So, what have I gleaned from my research and my own observations? It’s like that story of the three people in the dark room with an elephant… One feels the leg, thinks it’s a tree. One feels the trunk, thinks it’s a snake (he may have been the one who ran screaming to find the light switch), while one feels the tail and thinks it’s a rope.

I’ve realised that all these little snippets of information form a cycle. I suppose it’s also relevant to continued bullying in general. All of these little snippets feel like platitudes until you link them all up…

1) You’re kind/pleasant to the bully.

2) The bully mistakes this for weakness.

3) The bully tries to control you (and hopefully fails).

4) The bully realises they can’t (hopefully).

5) Then follows abuse, lies, misrepresentation, manipulation of how others see you.

6) There’s a break.

7) Reconciliation of some sort.

8/1) You’re kind/pleasant to the bully.

AND OFF WE GO AGAIN

And that’s only if you’re lucky. Sometimes the process ‘succeeds’ (for the bully) at step 3). Usually the target cracks at that step. If they’re lucky /strong / have support, the targeted person may get to step 4). If you don’t have support, then please, please, please find some.

The difference being that hopefully the bullied person learns and either stops the cycle at 6) or changes themselves before they re-enter the fray because, let’s face it, the bully will never learn. They’ve been way too successful for way too long to stop using a winning formula. Plus, if an outsider calls them out on their behaviour, all it takes is a few crocodile tears and they’re safe again.

Sadly, for my own part, I realise that most of the major changes in my life have come about as a result of being bullied… Leaving my home country (twice), becoming a first-time homebuyer, leaving a profession (the same one – twice)…

And why does it keep happening? Because of step 1). Does that mean we take it out of the equation? No. Let’s face it – bullies won’t change. I mean, why would they? They’ve got a winning formula.

So…

You say to yourself…

If the bully/harasser isn’t going to change what they are or what they do, then I’m not going to change what I am (let’s face it, I personally wouldn’t be able to). But I do need to change what I do.

So stop the process at 6). Don’t go to 7). Let them try doing a little of 1) for a change. But it’s quite safe, because we all know they won’t. They won’t ‘lower’ themselves to ‘your level’. They’re too proud / powerful. They have too many people already in their pocket to make it worthwhile. And you can always tell who those people are – they’re the ones who say things like:

“Surely it’s not as bad as that?”

“I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.”

“I think you’re overreacting.”

“Well, you’re not exactly perfect, you know.”

“Ignore them, they’ll soon get bored.”

“Well, I’ve never found X to be like that at all.”

“Some christian you are. Aren’t you supposed to forgive /l ove everyone / turn the other cheek?”

“It takes two to tango.”

But, whatever you do…

DON’T STAY SILENT.

Does it take guts? Undoubtedly.

But is it possible? Heck, yeah.

Domus Melis Domus

Yeah, I know.

Worst Latin ever.

I did learn Latin as a child. Before you ask – no, I’m not a native speaker of that as well. How old do you think I am?! I know I said I was old right at the very beginning of all this, but I ain’t that old! And no, I don’t remember the dinosaurs either!

I do remember things like:

  • humans landing on the moon
  • if you missed you favourite television programme, tough – no video recorders, no cable, plus only having three television channels
  • colour televisions being a luxury, not a basic life staple (as were cars)
  • Non-decimal money, often referred to as L.S.D. No, nothing to do with lysergic acid, but back to good old Latin again… Librae, Soldi, Denarii. Don’t know if it was some kind of joke (and why would I have cared anyway?), but it was meant to be the Roman equivalent of pounds, shillings, pence
  • BYO carrier bags
  • encyclopaedias, not Wikipedia
  • ‘Burger’ being something you muttered (quickly) under your breath when something went wrong

Oh. Massively off track as ever.

Focus!

So, it’s been nearly six months in our new little safe haven.

People are lovely here, and no one has a clue what I am.

So far, so good.

Long may it remain like that! One of the good things about living here is that it’s not an area exactly known for its sunny weather, so that in itself is a blessing!

With the differential in house prices in the two areas being what it is, we have moved from a one bedroom flat (no kids or dogs allowed) to a simply huge four bedroom house with a massive garden that one can get lost in! And dogs!

Well, we already have the dog, as you no doubt remember from the previous post

Like me, the house is something of a mongrel.

It had been in the same family (not mine) since Victorian times (when it was built) and each generation has added something to it particular to their lifetime. It’s a live-in Museum in its own right. You can walk around the house playing “spot the era”. There are things here from the 20s, 30s, and so on and so forth. The 70s were a particularly active time in this house’s DIY history… Heaven help us…

A lot has been added to it. And when I say a lot I mean a lot. It had a patio, that became a conservatory that became a workshop, that became a kitchen. Well, the kind of kitchen that Dr Frankenstein would wake up in the night having the shakes over. Every time we prepared a meal, the uppermost thought in our minds wasn’t “Now, what drink would go well with this?”

No.

The uppermost thought was “Will I survive long enough to actually eat this?”

But it’s now a kitchen, a proper one!

A proper bathroom was added on. As was a utility room (that’s actually quite utile), which is about the only part of the house that doesn’t need something doing to it. Thankfully, It’s all cosmetic. But it’s a level of ‘cosmetic’ that would have Max Factor running for the hills.

But we love our conservatory. As does the dog. She can often be found in there, sat on the sofa, surveying her kingdom. When we want to get into the garden, sometimes we’re too lazy too unlock the back door, so we just go through the conservatory windows instead. I was born by Caesarean, so I have absolutely no problem with this.

There’s a lot to do.

And doing it is a cross between Pass The Parcel and Russian Roulette. While channeling Heath Robinson, who I believe may well have been the inspiration for much of the original alterations…

So here I go, paintbrush in hand.

Wish me luck.

 

Confessions of a fur-mama

 

Be warned, there’s something in here that may be genuinely distressing to anyone with even half a heart. Doubly so if you love dogs. But there’s also some funny things too, so, it’s all good. Read on.

So, we’ve had our rescue fur-baby a couple of months now. We’re still trying to untangle that mangled little mess that lives inside her head. We don’t know much about her. We know she’s an older dog. We know someone has been nice to her at some point. We also know that someone (or someones) hasn’t.

How?

Sadly, by her physical scars. And, even more sadly, by the psychological scars that little by little, she’s allowing us to see.

One example.

A training clicker.

The sound terrified her the first (and only) time we tried to use one. We were mystified. My hyper-perceptive vampiric sleuthiness (it’s a thing) was stumped. And then the penny dropped some time later. The sound is identical to a cigarette lighter. Now put that together with some of her smaller scars and…

Well…

If I ever meet the ones who did that to such a gentle, loving animal (or any animal), then my ‘no-biting-humansrule may become more of a guideline.

But in the meantime…

She’s sprawled out on her favourite (for she has many) fleecy throw, snoring and farting away to her little heart’s content. She’s still in that ‘can’t-quite-believe-it’s-real’ phase and gets really panicky if she does something wrong. Our hugs and reassurance still puzzle her.

We are now dealing with some separation anxiety issues. Which, to me, is a good thing. It means that’s she’s now attached to us. It means she trusts us (as does the sitting on my foot with her back to me). But she’s getting over them. She knows we’re definitely Team Fur-baby now.

We’ve learned this about her:

  • She hates puddles and getting wet
  • She already knows ‘high-five’, ‘shake hands’, ‘roll over’ and – bizarrely- how to cross the road safely (!)
  • She learns very quickly
  • She pulls like a train and loves her rope toys (if you have a dislocated shoulder, she could easily reset it for you. However, if there’s someone you don’t like and wish they had a dislocated shoulder, it wouldn’t work. She’d just call 999/911. She’s about bright enough to.)
  • She can be hyper focused, but also easily distracted (ha! she takes after me!)
  • She’s obsessed with food. Especially chicken (nope. Not me. Well, the chicken part.)
  • Even more than being given food, she loves finding it herself.

ME: I’m just going out, Pup, I’ll be gone ten minutes.

DOG: No! Pleeeeeease! Don’t go!

And then, when faced with a puzzle ball containing treats…

ME: I’m just going out, Pup, I’ll be gone ten minutes.

DOG: (30 minutes later) Nom-nom-nom. Did somebody say something? Nom-nom-nom.

She’s also very communicative. She lets you know in no uncertain terms what she wants. And doesn’t want!

Do parents of small human children have this problem?

DOG: I wanna go out for a walk.

ME: Okay, let’s get your harness and lead and everything on and you can go out.

DOG: Don’t wanna.

ME: Then you can’t go out for walk.

Five minutes later…

DOG: I wanna go out for a walk.

ME: Then we’re putting your lead and everything on.

DOG: Nope. Nuh-uh. No way.

ME: You know the rules.

DOG: (grumbling) Pfft. Ohhh, alright then.

Gets harness and everything on (with much muttering on her part).

DOG: Don’t wanna go now. Spoilt my fun.

ME: Oh, we are going now!

10 minutes later…

DOG: Woweeee! This is the best day ever!

And nearly an hour later, after lots of (shall we say) negotiation as to route, we get back. I’ve enjoyed the fresh air. She’s enjoyed the stretching-her-legs.  And the sniffing. There’s always lots of sniffing. Grass verges are like Facebook for dogs. “Hmm. Nice post. Just leaving a comment…” We’ve both enjoyed the exercise. She is nicely worn out.

So what does she do next?

Run around the house like a thing possessed and then charges out like a mad fool into the garden.

Surely she can’t still have some reserves of energy in that little furry body? Have I not walked her enough?

Nope.

She is simply running out to survey her kingdom. For she is… Wonder Pooch! There she stands: ears up, tail up, right paw up, in full-on protection / surveillance mode. Have there been any threats to the kingdom in her absence? Any pretenders to her throne? Any evil crows, seagulls or (heaven forbid!) cats with a wicked design to overthrow her benevolent rule? Are there any individuals (regardless of number of legs) who have dared trespass upon her property to upset those under her kindly protection?

Nope.

Okay, all good.

And she trots back into the house again.

She plonks herself in front of the fire and gets back to one of her favourite jobs – destroying her rope toy.

All’s well with the world. I have protected you another day, my beloved hoomans. Chomp chomp chomp.