A – Z Reflections 2017 – #AtoZChallenge

I had hoped to have been posting my survivor badge and talking about how well this years challenge has gone, well truth it 2017 I FAILED!!!!

I did manage about a third of the posts they were posted late and I did not feel I really wanted to get stuck in. The truth was that my normal exploits in A – Z have been planned ahead of time, I pick a theme research a couple of options for each letter than go with the one that interests me the most. This year I was already chasing my tail, theme reveal day arrived and I had not even given it any thought, I should possibly have stuck with my gut reaction at that point which was to skip this year but instead I thought I could wing it. I made a snap decision to do the dictionary thing without considering how it would play out. I mean fair enough I did drop lucky with the words I got, partly I suspect due to the dictionary I was using being one I have a had a while that maybe fell open at pages I had previously use, but that luck could not have held out for the whole thing, in fact the next word I had picked for M was mandible which would have ended with a post on wrestling.

So what did I learn, well first I need to be prepared better, I need to pick a theme ahead of time which excites me and makes me want to write about it. I need to begin preparing the posts well in advance, research and write them with at least a week in advance so I don’t end up falling behind when life gets busy. Secondly I learnt that when I fall behind I have a tendency to want to quit, and while knowing when to call it quits is not a bad thing I need to learn not to talk myself out of doing things because it might involve knuckling down and focusing my energy. Some times we can actually learn more from our failings than our successes, they teach us our own strengths and weaknesses, and we all have plenty of both. I find that when I am doing badly in one area of my life I tend to find everything is going badly and becomes hard work, for example being tired and stressed at work makes me grumpy at home and makes it harder for me to focus to write, this gives me two options to either try to be happy all the time, which I am pretty sure is impossible without serious drugs, or to learn to compartmentalise more, and to force myself to sit at the computer and write no matter what my mood even if it means writing something completely different to the piece I an working on at that time. I have also been struggling to fill my journal in lately which again goes alongside this lethargy I have been feeling in general.

Some times it does us good to really stop and think about what is going on with us, why we are struggling, are we taking too much on? Are outside influences having a negative impact? In my case I think it was simply poor time management skills combined with a lack or direction both in terms of writing , blogging and life generally, hopefully the writing of this post it actually part of me turning this around.

L is for llama – #AtoZChallenge

llama

[lah-muh]
noun
1.

a woolly-haired South American ruminant of the genus Lama, believed to be a domesticated variety of the guanaco: often used as a beast of burden.
2.

the fine, soft fleece of the llama, combined with the wool for coating.
Let’s turn the timer on…
last year on my way to dancing we were driving past a field on the way to Marsden when I got all excited and started shouting ‘Llama!’ Of course, technically as you know if you follow my Instagram, they weren’t llamas they were alpacas, same family different wool. But they look very similar but are less inclined to spit. That is the first thing I remember ever learning about llamas, they spit!
The first time I ever saw one I was a kid, I was with my grandparents and we had gone to Bridlington. We had been on the ‘front’ for a while and been for lunch at a restaurant on the front, I used to think I was so grown up, obviously back then there were very few actual restaurants that did a children’s menu, so I would order a ploughman’s lunch, and then after they would bring round the dessert trolley with cakes and desserts on it, I would usually pick Black Forest gateau if there was not a plain chocolate cake option, which as this was late 70’s there frequently was not. After eating we would catch the land train up the hill to Sewerby Hall this was where I first saw a llama, my granddad warned me it would spit so we gave it a wide birth even though I was fascinated by its seemingly huge eyes, I had never seen a camel at this point either so had know way of knowing those lashes were nothing compared to other family members. I think I thought of them as a little like horses, but deformed, more comical then graceful and sleek, but the one thing there was no denying was they were kind of cute and had personality, especially as it spit at a small boy who was annoying it.
I guess animal families in some ways are a little bit like our own, don’t get me wrong we are all human and not separated by species and sub-species but if you follow my meaning we have those that look pretty, think vicunas, then those that are productive like alpacas, then you start getting the strange cousins that can be a bit grumpy at times, like the llamas, then you have the really camels who just walk and talk different and have those huge humps. You have to wonder when a llama looks at a camel do they recognise they are the same family or just look and think freak?
That’s it timer has gone and so must I

K is for kindle – #AtoZChallenge

kindle1

[kin-dl]
verb (used with object), kindled, kindling.

1.

to start (a fire); cause (a flame, blaze, etc.) to begin burning.

2.

to set fire to or ignite (fuel or any combustible matter).

3.

to excite; stir up or set going; animate; rouse; inflame:

He kindled their hopes of victory.

4.

to light up, illuminate, or make bright:

Happiness kindled her eyes.
verb (used without object), kindled, kindling.

5.

to begin to burn, as combustible matter, a light, fire, or flame.

6.

to become aroused or animated.

7.

to become lighted up, bright, or glowing, as the sky at dawn or the eyes with ardor.
And the timer begins…
This is another one of those words where the first meaning that springs to mind is not one listed in the dictionary, until a few years ago these meanings would have all rattled round my head but now Kindle is a trade name for my ebook reader. Don’t get me wrong I do still prefer real books but my Kindle is a life saver when going on long journeys, and free ebooks have been a great way to find new authors that I can then happily invest my limited funds in at a later date.  In one way of course, the very name Kindle for the device, ties in with one of the original meanings, because if you find a good book to read upon it then it does indeed kindle the imagination. Maybe on a winters evening you could even light a bonfire, using kindling of course, then sit with your Kindle and allow it to set your mind ablaze round the fire, while paying suitable attention to the actual fire of course, I have recently bought a incinerator bin so when the weather allows a few dry days I hope to sit by that as it burns my garden rubbish and enjoy a book in peace, of course dry weather also means having to wait until no washing is out and no one is having a BBQ as rose wood can be quite smoky.
I have to admit I do like having fires, even without reading a book just sitting watching the flames can let the imagination run lose, the pictures you can see in the flames the way the embers glow and move as the fire dies, so many chances to think on things. I grew up living in a coal board house where we had coal fires and there is something very comforting about sitting reading by a nice warm fire but I have to admit I do like the ease of modern heating systems where the house can be kept warm with the turn of a thermostat instead of getting up in the cold and having to wait for the fire to be built and lit to get warm, in an ideal home I would love to have both.
The timer has pinged so time to do some house work then get another post done.

I is for insane – #AtoZChallenge

insane

[in-seyn]
adjective

1.

not sane; not of sound mind; mentally deranged.

2.

of, relating to, or characteristic of a person who is mentally deranged:

insane actions; an insane asylum.

3.

utterly senseless:

an insane plan.
And the timer begins…
I think I am insane for taking one this challenge every April, don’t get me wrong I love it but is always seems that things crop up when I try, this is probably why I don’t try doing Nano in November. Insanity is a perfect subject for me I remember first seeing this info-graphic which I am going to insert here…
now you can obviously see why this made me stop and contemplate so many of the things you could be committed for let’s start with the first, being kicked by a horse! I totally get that if you are kicked in the head by the horse it could cause some form of brain damage but what if the horse kicked you and broke your leg, then clipped your head as you fell down but did not actually do any damage to your head do you still get locked up? Does it make a difference what you were doing to the horse when it kicks you? You can imagine for the writer side of me the endless possibilities each of the ‘reasons’ above. Many of them of course were aimed at women but I imagine that a few young men may have also ended up confined should they fail to live up to their families wishes.
My ex’s mum worked in an asylum a few years ago, a place which is now closed down, but she always said it was so sad that there were women there who were institutionalised by their years spent shut away, usually on the orders of their families for falling in love with the wrong people, getting caught having sex outside marriage and having children out of wedlock. I have an idea in my head for a story involving an asylum and a rich family which I would love to write at some point.
What is surprising is how many of the reasons that a man could probably be committed involve trauma, I know your normal hospital would not have been equipped to deal with brain damage or mental illness but you wonder how shutting someone away with depression or shell shock, in an institution full of people with serious mental illness (though of course many would not have the sort of diagnosed conditions we know of today) could eve hope to lead to their recovery.
Personally I would have been committed on numerous counts, let’s just mention the novel reading and as the timer is going leave you to imagine the others lol.
Leave a comment below for which you are most likely to be committed for is you dare!

H is for – #AtoZChallenge

hoard

[hawrd, hohrd]
noun

1.

a supply or accumulation that is hidden or carefully guarded for preservation, future use, etc.:

a vast hoard of silver.
verb (used with object)

2.

to accumulate for preservation, future use, etc., in a hidden or carefully guarded place:

to hoard food during a shortage.
verb (used without object)

3.

to accumulate money, food, or the like, in a hidden or carefully guarded place for preservation, future use, etc.
Starting the timer now…
It is strange when you read a definition yet the most commonly thought of use of the word is not included, once upon a time to hoard things was seen as a positive but these days because of certain types of Tv programmes we thing of hoarding in negative terms, you think of houses piled with newspapers, a labyrinth of junk to squeeze between. I guess the question that I am pondering is where is the line between positive and negative hoarding?
My dad has shed in the garden full of what my mother classes as junk, broken electronics, motor parts, things he intended fixing or things he thought would come in useful, my son thinks it is a treasure trove, he wants to be an engineer at the minute (palaeontologist has been replaced at the top of his career choices for now) so he sees a hoard of treasures he could create fantastical inventions from. On the other hand my mum is a crafter, she has reams of paper, card, jars of glitter, paints and a million other items for creating cards, doing cross stitch, all of which my dad thinks are junk and take up too much space in the house. In my house I have too much stuff for the size of my house, I know this, but the majority of what is packed in boxes were gifts, my collection of elephants packed away so the cats, and, let’s just say, people that blamed the cats, could not damage any more of them, my Pop Funko’s which I love but are patiently waiting for a bigger house with an office where they can live and the biggest hoard, books!
I know there are books I should probably get rid of, I have so many still to read that re-reading others makes no sense yet I still do it, I do not just keep sets by my favourite authors, I pretty much keep all the books I buy, the only I clear out are kids books as they become to babyish for them though again classics such as the Enid Blyton Magic Faraway Tree books remain. My ex frequently threatened a trip to a car boot sale with my books but then to be honest he frequently saw things by their monetary value rather than the pleasure they could give, even checking to see if the oil paintings I possessed were worth anything, the are of course worth only what someone would pay for them the Ebay going rate for the is between £50 – 200 to me they are priceless they are not just paintings they are the story behind their acquisition, books are the same, they are not the paper upon which they are printed, they are the worlds created within the cover.
Am I a book hoarder? Maybe! Am I a collector of stories, a traveller to a thousand lands? Hell yeah!
The timer has gone so tell me what could you be accused of hoarding?

G is for gloom – #AtoZChallenge

gloom

[gloom]
noun

1.

total or partial darkness; dimness.

2.

a state of melancholy or depression; low spirits.

3.

a despondent or depressed look or expression.
verb (used without object)

4.

to appear or become dark, dim, or somber.

5.

to look sad, dismal, or dejected; frown.
verb (used with object)

6.

to fill with gloom; make gloomy or sad; sadden.

7.

to make dark or somber.
Timer started…
Until last week I always thought of gloom in terms of fog and dark, dingy days, the sort of evening where the serial killer lurks in an alley way ready to leap out and attack, it makes you think of doom and gloom, things being depressing and a sense of hopelessness and that does still tie in ever so slightly with what I think now.
I love board games and I watch Wil Wheaton’s youtube channel where it shows him and a group of friends playing board games, not monopoly but some of the other more obscure games that you see on Amazon but don’t consider buying because they can be quite expensive without knowing you can definitely play it, the other day they were playing Gloom (I will put in a link at the end if I can find it). It is a card game, but one for those with imagination and a sense of humour.
Each player has a family, the objective is to make them as depressed as possible before killing them off and to make your opponents family happy, what makes this game fun is that in order to achieve this you have modifier cards , you can use two per turn and must weave a story to do so, the whole family adds to the overall story and it means that the game can never be played the same way twice. Of course, the quality of the story depends on the people you have sat round the table with you, those with crazy, quirky imaginations will provide the best playing partners and the ability to remember what people have said previously is an advantage, you know a little like the shopping memory game.
The timer has gone so I will go try to find the Youtube video

F is for flirt – #AtoZChallenge

flirt

[flurt]
verb (used without object)

1.

to court triflingly or act amorously without serious intentions; play at love; coquet.

2.

to trifle or toy, as with an idea:

She flirted with the notion of buying a sports car.

3.

to move with a jerk or jerks; dart about:

butterflies flirting from flower to flower.
verb (used with object)

4.

to give a sudden or brisk motion to; wave smartly, as a fan.

5.

to throw or propel with a toss or jerk; fling suddenly.
noun

6.

Also, flirter. a person who is given to flirting.

7.

a quick throw or toss; sudden jerk or darting motion.
And as I am so far behind I have reduced the timer to twenty minutes in the hope I can focus better so lets get started.
I confess I am a natural flirt, to me it has never been a problem, I know I am not serious, the way I flirt I have never had issues with others taking me too seriously either but I have had problems with partners not liking it. For me flirting is not always about forming a relationship with the other person it s about making people feel good, and honestly I think the world would be a better place if the world had a little more flirtation. don’t get me wrong there will always be people who will read more into things but that is because they want to, they are also the same people who would read something into nothing, they would claim saying thank you to someone serving you is ‘flirting’ that smiling at someone is ‘flirting’ the issue is generally always theirs because if you are secure with a partner then you should know that no matter how many people they thank or smile at nothing will ever come of it. for me flirting is a little like flattery, it is commenting on someone looking good, doing something noteworthy, it is just a word or two that makes someone feel a little better about themselves, and maybe it puts them in a good mood and they go out and pay it forward.
I admit that some of the other definitions are not ones I would have thought of to me butterflies flit rather than flirt, I would not have ever considered the idea of flinging as part of flirting unless it possibly involved a man in a kilt, which  I could tell you a story about that from when I went to the Challenge Cup Final at Twickenham one year and there may have been a little flirting involved before I found out he really did have nothing on under his kilt lol I may have actually blushed that day.
The timer has bleeped so tell me to flirt or not to flirt? Do you see it as an issue or harmless feel good fun?

E is for espionage – #AtoZChallenge

espionage

[es-pee-uh-nahzh, -nij, es-pee-uhnahzh]
noun

1.

the act or practice of spying.

2.

the use of spies by a government to discover the military and political secrets of other nations.

3.

the use of spies by a corporation or the like to acquire the plans, technical knowledge, etc., of a competitor:

industrial espionage.
I am afraid you will definitely be getting a couple of days for the next few weeks until I catch up on my blog posts so without further ado lets start the timer…
When I think of a spy I automatically think James Bond, technically when you think about it he is rather crap as a spy, everyone knows who he is. The idea of the spy is that he is supposed to perform covert operations not walk in announcing his presence with a calling card, but then again the bad guys may as well be walking round with flashing arrows above their heads advertising walking evil. That does not mean I don’t love watching Bond films for all their failings, I love the gadgets as well the pens that double as hypodermic needles, briefcases where the blade sticks out if you push one lock one way but gases everyone if the push the other.  I love the film the Kingsman for similar reasons though that has the added advantage of Colin Firth.
Now Colin Firth’s character is easier to see as a spy in some ways charming, a quintessential English eccentric who it would be impossible to believe actually capable of fooling anyone. Another E word there eccentric, it always seems to be linked to English or British people, usually of a certain class, but why is it the we Brits affectionately label our stranger countrymen as eccentric rather than freaks or weirdo’s? do other countries have eccentrics or are they more damning? Is it the potential for harming others that turn the eccentric into a threat and therefore something more sinister?
When you think of the films that portray what it is to be British over the last few decades they tend to be grimy violent films filled with drugs and violence or filled with middle and upper class ‘characters’ usually loveable failures, think Bridget Jones, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and one of my favourites, which brings us back to Colin Firth again, Love Actually. I was going to post a link here but had to come back and alter it when I realised I couldn’t find one. I love the fact that mainly they were happy endings to the stories but can’t help wondering if the Emma Thompson/Alan Rickman story would have had a happy ending, because in my head at the end of the first film they didn’t, they were the one couple who did not make it and the sad passing of Rickman left a gap that could not be filled. Any way time is more or less up mainly as I got distracted once again, in comments tell me do you think the Thompson/Rickman Love Actually marriage could have had a happy ending in the sequel?

C is for Cloak – #AtoZChallenge

Cloak

noun

1.

a loose outer garment, as a cape or coat.

2.

something that covers or conceals; disguise; pretense:

He conducts his affairs under a cloak of secrecy.
verb (used with object)

3.

to cover with or as if with a cloak:

She arrived at the opera cloaked in green velvet.

4.

to hide; conceal:

The mission was cloaked in mystery.
And let the timer commence…
When I think of cloaks I think of the big dramatic types ones, fur lined and trimmed, heavy duty, to protect against the coldest winds. If truth be told I would love one, I like the idea of it trailing in my wake, blowing out behind me as I hurry through storms, of course the reality is it would be covered in all kinds of shit very quickly and have to go be dry cleaned after every wearing. I do have a cloak, a think black satin job, bought cheap for dressing up at Halloween, and I have a cape/coat, well it is somewhere between the two a cape with armholes if you like, and that has a fur collar but sadly no hood, but is at least of a length that you don’t have to worry what it trails through.
I guess historically cloaks go back to the days when you had no washing machines and the idea was they covered up the more expensive outfits underneath, or when they doubled as an extra blanket or bedding to swaddle yourself in while travelling. And more than that there is of course the mystery, what is hidden beneath that huge hood, only when they chose to lift their head and slide it back a little do they reveal themselves to you, which I guess also appeals to me in terms of my love of horror. You sometimes hear Death referred to as a cloaked figure, though personally I think his are more like hooded robes than a cloak, as quite often they depict him with sleeves, and for me a cloak doesn’t have sleeves.
There is also something quite romantic to me about the idea of the cloak, the figure sweeping across the drive throwing back the hood to reveal Austen-esque, hair and gown, all heads turning to admire the newcomer Cinderella style, I guess Disney still rubs off on the subconscious of even the darkest of minds, though of course there is nothing to say that gorgeous vision may not be a vampire ready to drain the blood of a dozen other ball goers.
I guess that ties in with the other use as well, the cloaked missions, hidden agenda’s and concealment. You never know what lies beneath the surface, it is one of the reasons I like people watching, imagining that person and what their life could be both realistically and outrageously. Think of the film Mr & Mrs smith, or True Lies, films where what seems like boring mundane couples lead secret double lives, I imagine that for the people I watch sometimes. I don’t imagine them all to be spies but there may be a vampire or banshee amongst them, a killer prowling for victims, and always so many victims, so many who put themselves in harms way without a second thought. Yes my mind works in sick and twisted ways at times! The man trying to sign people up for a charity, well he could of course be a fraud, or he might have two lists, one for the genuine subscriptions and one for potential victims that willing hand over their details to save the cute puppies and he is patient he has a nice long list, he can afford to wait months before he visits, it doesn’t matter if one or two have moved and escape, there are plenty more on the list. I joke about how much trouble I would be in if someone based their opinion of me on my google search history, or the books on my books shelf. I love the idea of the hidden self, the alter ego, for good or for bad, the imagination knows no bounds other than the limits of a person creativity.
Okay I am a couple of letters behind and do have other posts I need to to as well so for the next week or so you may find me in your inbox twice a day but I promise no more, and once I am caught up on the A – Z will not let it happen each day lol

B is for bobsleigh – #AtoZChallenge

Bobsleigh or bobsled is a winter sport in which teams of two or four teammates make timed runs down narrow, twisting, banked, iced tracks in a gravity-powered sled.

Just want to point out I am using a 30 minute timer and doing stream of conciousness but I do have a child and pets in the house and I am correcting glaring spelling mistakes etc so it might be possible for me to write more within the thirsty minutes but honestly, you don’t need to me go over a thousand words, I want you to stay awake to the end lol.

That said let’s start the timer…

You wouldn’t think it looking at me now but when I was younger I was quite sporty, I did athletics, liked playing tennis, doing trampolining, swimming. What I don’t like is the cold, so I have to be honest and say Winter sports never appealed, plus I have never broken a bone and would prefer to keep it that way. I do like watching the Winter Olympics, which let’s face it other than ‘Ski Sunday’ was more or less the only time we saw these sports. I like watching skiing but being the type of person I am I it is because I like watching them crash, which they do in a most spectacular manner normally, I am not evil enough to want them to be actually hurt, just to see them complete a couple of somersaults. But I always though if I had to do a Winter sport it would be bobsleigh.

I would want to be the second seat in a four man or in my case woman sled, that way you don’t have to be responsible for being at the front and I assume steering and you don’t have to be the ones who push longest and have the biggest risk of falling over before you even get going. It have to say I know they practise for hours and hours but I am surprised that more sleighs don’t set off down the course minus a member or with him clinging on to the back. The other reason I would go for bobsleigh is I understand the rules of gravitational pull which keep it in the tube, curve, run, you know what I mean the track thingy, also being in the middle you can’t really do much damage I shouldn’t imagine, the compact nature of proximity would stop you leaning the wrong way at the wrong time, unless you all do it of course.

What I don’t understand is the lunatics who choose to get rid of the sleigh bit which would give them a little protect if they crash an decide that it is a great idea to fly down as quickly as possible on a glorified tea tray. I know they have different names but I am not going to go look them up, one is the Luge and one is something else, and I can’t decide if the person going feet first, or the one going head first, is the more mentally unstable. Don’t get me wrong I find it fascinating to watch but I do wonder how many of their spouses can bear to watch, it really is a sport where a wipeout could easily be fatal, do their loved ones spend hours trying to persuade them to take up something safer like curling. I confess I like curling as well how many other sports does the ability you wield a Vileda Supermop qualify you for an Olympic sport, although does any one actually know what they are shouting at each other, it is like a cross between a secret language and listening to a farmer shout at a sheepdog herding sheep. The other thing I wonder while watching curling is what happens if one of the sweepers slips and slides into the target area, do they start again or does she sit their while stones a hurled at her in the hope of knocking her out of the way?