Friday, 25 May 2007

Rant, rant and more rant ...

If there's one thing guaranteed to shoot my blood pressure into orbit mode (and not in a good way) it's shopping.

Today I venture out into the High Street for some goodie fun. In the first shop, a popular chemist, I spend about £35. The assistant hands me my goods with a receipt. "Can I have a bag, please?" I ask pleasantly. "Yeah... if you really want one," she snarls, and shoves a bag at my chest.

Further along I hit a health food shop and spend in the region of £30 on about eight items. "Do you want a bag?" asks the assistant, who obviously can't be arsed if I want one or not, or indeed if I plan on balancing said items on my head as I go about my business.

Then I treat myself to a pair of earrings for the grand sum of £4. Well, okay, the shop's not exactly going to see a surge in their profit with that little sale, but anyway. The earrings are secured on a little piece of card and the assistant hands them to me with the receipt. "You don't want a bag for those, do you?" she asks. In such a way that I daren't disagree for fear of tuts of disapproval, and perhaps being marched from the shop in disgrace.

Why all this angst about bags, you may ask. Well, because it irks the life out of me, that's why. The shops would probably say they're trying to cut down on waste, yeah right. They get away with that excuse, of course, because in the UK we have recycling shoved down our throats every which way. Now I recycle as well as the next person and I understand how important it is to cut down on waste (despite the constant reminders from the powers that be who treat us all like idiots who can't be trusted to think for ourselves). But the bag thing has nothing to do with recycling ... it's about service, or the lack of it.

In France I frequent a lovely cosmetic chainstore where I buy little gifts to take home for friends. Often I'll buy one or two tiny items costing about £3/£5, but no matter how much I spend I get a bag! Even without asking! Shock. Horror. I'm even asked if it's a gift, and if so the pressie gets wrapped in tissue paper with a little bit of matching ribbon ... and then put into a bag! The result? I feel like a valued customer and am inclined to make a return visit. Frankly, I'd never set foot again in any of the shops I visited today if I didn't have to.

So come on Britain's shops, get your act together. Make us feel like valued customers ... and give us a bloody bag!!


Sunday, 20 May 2007

And the truth will set you free...

Okay, my recent bout of procrastination is over! And I mean over! This morning I haven't stopped writing ... and it feels GREAT!

What, you may ask, has brought about this sudden change of behaviour? Did I have a flash of inspiration? Not really. Idea for a new story? Always got one of those. Did something hit me on the head? Well, sort of. I checked that little toolbar history button that lets you see what websites you've visited. Shock and horror! I won't embarrass myself by admitting to the number over the past couple of weeks. Just let's say it jerked me out of procrastville. Fast.

I've also been pondering on the importance of attitude and how it can make or break how we approach things. See, I'd convinced myself that I didn't know where my plot was going (or plots, considering I've currently got four WIPs in various stages of completion. Each time I opened the document, or even thought about opening the document, I'd get the eebie-jeebies. This has never happened to me before and it was scary. I'd just sit staring at the screen allowing that stuck feeling to strengthen. It was becoming far too familiar and had to change pretty darn fast.

So I've got this little mantra going - I am a creative and prolific writer ... I am a creative and prolific writer... over and over until I want to shout "enough already!" But it's working, and so am I. In fact I'm flying, or at least typing - the two are pretty much the same thing to me.

Henry Ford said: "Whether you believe you can do a thing or whether you believe you can't, you're right." Right now I'm choosing to believe I can.

Anyway, gotta go ... I've left my H/h in a compromising situation and you can't trust those two for more than a few minutes if there's a lockable door in the vicinity (or any sort of door if the H has anything to do with it).


Friday, 18 May 2007

Courage, dear writer, courage!

"Come to the edge," he said.
They said: "We are afraid."
"Come to the edge,"he said.
They came -- He pushed them --
and they flew.

My little doves have gone, and so have the parents. I miss them, and can only hope they're safe.

For a short time they enriched my life, made me appreciative of the things I take for granted like my safe, warm home and plentiful supplies of food and drink. But more than that it made me think about the concept of courage - not entirely sure why, but maybe it had something to do with how tiny and vulnerable they were. Anyway, how often do we play it safe? How often do we say we'd like to do or try something but we don't. Oh, we might reach out a little, play around with how life would be if we did take a chance to do, or be, something different. But all too soon we slip back into our safety zone, secure in the protective netting we place around our shoulders.

Today, and for a little while if I'm honest, I find the very act of writing quite terrifying. I have plenty of ideas, never short of those, and I know my characters, I know the plot (mostly). But opening my WIP and getting some work done actually makes my stomach flip. What the hell is going on? I ask myself. Why is doing the very thing I love and adore so darn petrifying?

I pondered on those questions this morning as I worked in my garden. Didn't get any flashes of illumination but I did get a deep down nudge that writing is terrifying to me because I love and adore it. And nothing worth having, or doing, comes at little cost. We have to dig for our jewels, we have to get our hands dirty, have to accept the cuts and bruises that comes from excavating our dreams. Nothing I've ever done in my life comes close to the joy I get from writing, so it makes sense that the downside of that is on occasions it's going to hurt a little. I think it was Vicki Hinze who said something like "why would we waste our time doing something that didn't have the potential to breaks our hearts a little?"

Why indeed?


Sunday, 13 May 2007

Happy (US) Mother's Day!

We have two collared doves who come into the garden each day. They sit on top of our pergola for hours, rain or shine. Early last evening I spotted movement and saw a baby dove lower down on the pergola, about a foot off the ground. Of course, we kept watching him and he seemed fine. But it started getting dark and he was barely moving. We managed to get really close to see if he was okay, but all he did was blink. We called the RSPCA for advice and they said to get him in a box with a little water,and take him inside for the night. After much cooing and coaxing (our neighbours already know we're mad) we managed it.

I braced myself this morning, quite prepared that he'd died during the night. But he was okay, very alert and testing his wings a little. Out of the box, he headed straight for the spot we'd found him and soon mum and dad were on the scene feeding him! I was close to tears I can tell you. But that wasn't the end to the enchantment. Later, we saw him by the bird water bowl with his sister (you can just see her behind the leaf). After about an hour, Oscar (that's what we named him - I know it's sad, but there you are) flew into some nearby bushes and we haven't seen him since. But Nellie is still there by the bowl. Mum is feeding her at regular intervals and we're hoping she's strong enough to fly out soon.

So, on this US Mother's Day I feel a little like a proud, but anxious, surrogate mum myself. My little charge has left the nest and flown off someplace. I don't know where he is, but I haven't stopped thinking about him and hoping he's okay.

Happy Mother's Day!


** Update ... it's Sunday evening and the two little ones are back together. Mum and dad have been around all day feeding them and watching over things. The RSPCA said to leave them and let nature take its course, but as it gets darker I'm getting anxious again. We're going to put some foliage around them so they're a little more protected from predators. I haven't done a thing all day except keep checking on them, and something tells me I won't be getting much sleep tonight. I just wish they'd fly off somewhere safe. My hat goes off to all you mums out there - how on earth do you cope?

Friday, 4 May 2007

Just chillin...

Been burning that proverbial candle a bit too enthusiastically lately and it's left me feeling a little jaded. But even though I knew I was pushing too hard, I just kept right on doing it - probably because I (mostly) love everything I do, which makes it even harder to stop and slow down.

It took a lovely day out with special girlfriends to make me realise things had to change. We visited Dyrham Park, near Bath, with its house, gardens and park. The house is a fantastic example of 17th century architecture and has some wonderful paintings and Dutch Delftware. It also has one of the oldest deer parks in England - the name Dyrham derives from the Saxon "deor-hamm" - and the deer were out in full force basking in the lovely spring sunshine. Even when we walked a few feet away from them, admiring and cooing, they merely took a long leisurely look at us and went on with their busy "doing nothing" routine.

Well, there are lessons in all situations and I took mine from those deer. So, as we approach a Bank Holiday weekend I've made sure I've got nothing much planned. Hubby is studiously occupied, but I've given myself permission to just chill. I can read if I want to, garden if I want to, write if I want to and treat myself to an extra long yoga session to replenish the well.

Whatever you're doing, have a great weekend.