N is for Notebooks

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atoznI love stationary. Pens, paper and in particular, notebooks. All sorts of notebooks. Plain paper, ruled, hardback, spiral spines. I love them all. Even boring ones and cheap ones. I have uses for them all. the cheaper ones, I tend to use for fanfiction, or just notes or scribbling in. I do that because after a while I’m drowning in a forest worth of notebooks and half finished fics that aren’t ever going to really get finished either and day dreams that I wrote just to make myself feel better and I don’t need any more or can’t really keep due to space restrictions. They pile up and even when I box them up, it can get a little silly. Once a year or every other year, I have a clear our. Rip out pages I want to keep. Pieces of poetry or ideas for stories or fics and then send the rest to recycling.

The nice notebooks, I use for other things. Purely for poetry or writing (things that aren’t fanfiction) stories, novels. I like to write in notebooks then type what I’ve written up onto my netbook. Just find the sensation nicer than straight typing, and I find it easier, though I am getting better at it, and used to it. Note that I love notebooks any less because of this.

Recycled-Tyre-NotepadsI love the design of notebooks. I love the feeling of the paper, recycled paper or new paper. I love all the different kinds you can get, the fun things hidden in the notebooks sometimes like monsters from the cover on the corners of the pages. I love it all. I love the sensation of writing, the easy run of ink over paper, the smooth, cool feeling of the paper on my skin as I move my hand.

I have a lot of full notebooks as it’s been a while since I had a serious sort out and some empty notebooks in boxes under my bed waiting to be used. Some that are very precious. My friend Melanie often buys me notebooks when she goes away. I have a notebook from Japan that’s made with rice paper. I have a notebook made of elephant dung. I have one with a cover made of a recycled tyre. All given to me by Melanie. I have a lot that I got from Paperchase, a great stationary store. But we don’t have one in Aberystwyth which is a shame, but they sell all their stuff online, so problem solved.

I’m trying to be a little less particular about my notebooks, if I don’t I’ll never use them all at this rate because I keep buying more.

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M is for Muse

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atozmI have a problem.

I don’t have a muse.

Actually, I guess that problem is not that I have a muse, but that a lot of other writer’s have a muse. And a good proportion of those writer’s have anthropomorphised their muses and those muses have taken on entire personalities, lives of their own and in some cases what seems like control.

I don’t always have control, but then I don’t have complete control of my mind or my brain. Perhaps this is how other writer’s deal with that fact, that they don’t have complete control of their minds. I guess it can be quite distressing if you’re not very aware of your own mental health problems or don’t have some other serious problems with your brain to go with it. I don’t have always had a problem with my brain not behaving as it should, and that was really distressing before I just got used to it (and had a bunch of therapy). Any muse I may have really is just some broken circuits in the brain. I can live with that.

Because that means my ideas, from the bad to the brilliant are my ideas. Any accomplishments that may come from that are mine and my own. Not some anthropomorphised or imaginary muse.

The ‘tenth’ muse Sappho.

I’m not saying people should stop giving their muses names – please continue to write and think and live however you want. That’s actually the most important thing to me – that you are happy and you are writing. It does bug me from time to time, when people have given so much time to their muse and making it a whole personality instead of using that time to work with their muses or just to work on their writing. But that doesn’t matter. I know I don’t write as nearly as much as I should, but that’s the way I work and the way I live my life and your opinion on that isn’t going to change it really, nor am I likely to care too much about it. And neither should you and your anthrpomorphic muse care about what I think.

I guess I just needed to get it off my chest.

I will finish to say, that if I have a muse – it would be Sappho obviously. Perhaps I should adopt her as my muse for a while and see how it goes.

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(Apologise is this post comes across a little rambly, I’m really tired from a long day yesterday and struggling to keep my eyes open even though it’s only 1pm!!)

L is for Lesbian Agenda

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atozlYou hear the words ‘Gay Agenda’ thrown around a lot, by people who are homophobic and don’t want to give the LGBT it’s due equality. It’s a stupid term really, most people don’t have an agenda. We have wants, and we have things we do, and we don’t want people to suffer, including ourselves. We want everyone to be happy, and get their equality and due rights, not just gays.It’s not like we’re trying to take over the world. Just make our lives a little better, make our worlds a little nicer and a little safer.

My wife and I have our own lesbian agenda. We’re getting chickens but not a rooster. OMG, definitely a gay agenda there right?

Actually, our agendas are just our lives and we happen to be gay. That’s as far as we get when it comes to a gay agenda. My personal agenda sort of goes like this – sleep in, make tea, watch Homes Under The Hammer (see H post), make more tea write or blog or play xbox and drink more tea. Do the housework. Go to my job and have a brew or nap. Feed my cats and eat my dinner, watch Tv with my wife and a cup of tea and read poetry. Sleep.

So my lesbian agenda here mostly about tea and sleep.

I’m not surprised.

Stonewall Campaign Poster

Stonewall Campaign Poster

My wife was on the bus with an old lady who lives on our little estate in or village and asked about me and if we were married. She wasn’t sure if it was rude to ask. Then she said something delightful. She used to be dead against that sort of thing, dead against it, until one day she said to herself she was just going to have to get over it. So that’s what she did. She got over it.

If only everyone else could just get over it.

The whole gay agenda thing, is something made up by people with anti-gay agendas. This much is obvious and not really surprising either.

I don’t care what you do at home. Love your family and I will love mine and we’ll probably get on just fine.

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K is for King

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atozkThe King

I am but a king
standing on the edge
of downfall
and the right of night.
Curled up in sleep
I wait for ends
starts and saves.
Something in which
I can pass the time,
sometime in which
I can rule before
I am taken away
be deceit or doubt
whichever comes first.
I am but a king
defying my own role
and my own right
to be king not queen.
Prince not Princess
Knight not Damsel.
Whatever comes to pass
I know who I am
and what I rule
even if it’s a short reign.

r.l.w

 

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J is for Jigsaw

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atozjMy dad used to do a lot of jigsaws. I never saw the appeal personally, but when you were bored and there was nothing on tv, and there was a massive puzzle spread across the dining room table, you tended to try and help. Well, I would do a piece or two, get frustrated and give up and go and read or outside or do anything else. Write. I would go and write. Which was always the fundamental different between me and my dad, I had an imagination, but my father didn’t. Doesn’t.

He liked to do those really difficult one that were just beans or just dice. Which just made it all the frustrating. I remember the beans one being double sided with Brussels sprouts but none of us liked sprouts so he did the beans.  It was boring and I could be reading out complex worlds or trying to create my own, or living in some of them.

And my dad did jigsaws and crossword puzzles.

I don't remember him even finishing this one - image from ebay.

I don’t remember him even finishing this one – image from ebay.

They would sit on the dining room table for weeks, spread across the entire thing except for the place where my grandad sat at the end. He as always left enough room for his newspaper and a cup of coffee. His stereo was behind him and that was my grandad’s spot.

He would complete them and then they would be scooped up and put back in the box. Then they would sit on the top of the cabinet and stay there. I know some people glue their jigsaws, and display them, my dads just gathered dust for years on that cabinet.

Never made much sense to me but then little of what my dad did back then made sense to me.

 

Check out my guest post on A2Z Fiction – J is for Jolt

 

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I is for Illness

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atoziI don’t often do posts about controversial topics like this, but here we go.

I don’t care what you say, Vaccines do not cause Autism. If you believe otherwise, I’m afraid you’re probably already a lost cause. Even if you have a kid with autism, and have some doubts, trust me, their autism has nothing to do with any vaccines you gave them. Actually, don’t trust me, I’m just some poet with no vaccines and no autism.

Trust the science.

Trust the science please.

In fact, there is new evidence to suggest that autism starts in the womb, long before birth. You can read about it here. If that’s a bit TL:DR or verbose, try the BBC article here. While that evidence is the just the beginning, the early stages of the work, it’s not the only work that tells us that autism is not caused by vaccines.

What I never understood was the fact that in the original study they created the link between the MMR and autism. Created. They didn’t discover it. They fixed the results. Made it look like their was a link when there wasn’t. And that’s not the only problem with the study, but if you can read that sentence and still aren’t convinced that Autism isn’t caused by the MMR vaccine then I don’t know what else will actually convince you.

At the bottom of this post, there is going to be a ton of links. I hope you like to read.

I didn’t have the MMR vaccine when I was a kid, nor the Whooping Cough vaccine. Not cause my parents were anti-vaxers, but cause my dad was a different kind of crazy and we have a really bad doctor, who had told my dad that because he had epilepsy, giving me those vaccines would make me very ill. Very, very ill. My dad believed him, panicked, and no vaccines for me, even though I wouldn’t have been that ill. it wouldn’t have killed me.

There is an entry in my baby book that goes something like; “Back in hospital, Rhian has whooping cough. Nearly died.”

Nearly died.

When I was 12-13 I had measles, rubella and another round of Whooping Cough – which left me and my sister both needing inhalers for six months afterwards. I miss so much school. I was so ill. It was not in anyway a good thing. I passed out watching a video in class about measles and it turned out that I had rubella. Only me.

So instead of being ill once, as a baby. I was ill and incapacitated very seriously, four times. I’ve had all my vaccinations since then, despite a serious phobia of needles (I had to be frog marched by some friends to get my Meningitis C jab). Also every time there is a mumps epidemic around the university, I worry about catching it.

When my wife and I have kids, I will not only vaccinate them, I will vaccinate myself (planning to do that soon actually). Just in case. My wife has been vaccinated twice, once when she was a kid, and again when she came to live here because all her paperwork from when she was a kid was lost and they wouldn’t let her into the country until she’d had them. (Wait? A random person coming into the country has to have their vaccinations but children here don’t? I think that’s actually part of another discussion about free choice and nanny states and so on).

Please, please, please, get your kids vaccinated. Get yourself vaccinated. If you’re an anti-vaxxer, it’s unlikely I refuse to debate this with you. If your kid has autism and you believe it was the MMR vaccine, do some reading, then – even if you aren’t convinced – put your energy into your kid instead of politics.

Links

 

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H is for Homes Under The Hammer

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atozhOkay, so this is not sci-fi, or a cop drama (my favourite shows usually fall into either of these categories), or even a comedy quiz show but I love Homes Under The Hammer. It’s the first thing I do most days, watch the episode of Homes Under The Hammer on the iplayer from the day before with a cup of tea as I wake up. I was playing a bit of Skyrim every morning, but I needed to take a break from that and started watching Homes instead.

The presenters.

The presenters.

The premise of the show is pretty basic, and it probably costs very little to make, but some houses end up at auctions for various reasons. Been on market too long, un-mortgageable due to weird legal problems (road access, etc), or have serious building problems (bowing walls, damp and so on). The presenters – Martin Roberts and Lucy Alexander – visit the houses in their before state (and sometimes these houses are in a hell of a state) and then we see the auction and the buyer. They are interviewed at the house and asked what they plan to do with it. Some are professional property developers, some are people just starting out in property development. Some are retirees wanting something to do or people wanting a challenge. Some people want to live in the homes they do up, some people have bought them for their children – for them to live in or as a future investment. There are some interesting characters on the show from time to time. After thje interview, the presenters visit the property some time later (anything between a month and three years I’ve seen so far0 to see what they’ve done.

To see the transformation.

Martin Roberts filing in a house - from his website.

Martin Roberts filing in a house – from his website.

Which is what appeals to me so much. That transformation. Some houses are in an awful state and become the most beautiful pieces of property in the country. It’s like a work of art sometimes, that effort and love put into a kitchen, or a bathroom. The time and work taken to rebuild some of the features that have been destroyed and taken out. The pain it is to remove Artex ceilings and wood-chip wallpaper (oh god the horror) that was fashionable once but now any more.

Some of it is boring, I like the kitchens the most because they’re usually shiny and new and have the most work put into them, as well as the bathrooms. Often bedrooms and living rooms often are boring, as the current trend for property development is magnolia paint in every damn room. My house, and my last flat, both covered in magnolia. I hate it, but I understand why, it’s easy to cover up the marks as magnolia is magnolia and easy to get hold of, and it I know it means that when selling a house it lets prospective buyers see a blank canvas of a house that they can put their own mark on. I understand the reasoning behind it. Doesn’t mean I like it and when I own my own house, I swear to god I am painting every room a different non-beige colour.

Anyway, as well as the transformation, I enjoy design and painting and decorating. My mother has always loved it, and Jay is a painter and decorator though we were often cursed by that old adage where the painters house is always unpainted or unfinished. My bedroom growing up was two different shades of pink for a decade. I had a friend who’s dad was a building and their stairs never had a banister the entire time we were friends.

I like see the completely ramdomness of some of the houses in their ‘before’ state. I’ve been stud partition walls put up, a radiator shared between the two rooms. I’ve seen a shower in the corner of the kitchen and a separate toilet but no actual bathroom. I’ve seen walls that were so curved I’m suprised the house was still standing and I’ve seen more ugly seventies wallpaper to last me a lifetime.

Oh and panelling. My nan had a wall panelled, but this one house had the entire downstairs panelled in dark wood. It was crazy.

And a joy to watch.

One day I’d like to be rich enough for own a ton of properties and do them up, making them all shiny for someone to live in. I’ve rented homes my entire adult life, I’ve lived in some crap places and had some terrible landlords. I’d like to be the type of landlord people deserve. or offer the type of home people deserve. I don’t know why some people treat their tenants so badly, or let people live in properties that are damp or dirty ot just downright horrible. My current landlord is okay so far so I think we’ll be okay.

It seems unlikely we’ll ever own a dozen houses to rent out, so I’ll just be content with owning a house of my own.

Homes Under The Hammer

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G is for Gardening

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atozgI’m currently sitting in my garden, watching my wife weed. Well, eating junkfood and writing this and watching her weed while talking about failing agriculture in history and other random topics that we talk about. or that she tells me about, seeing as well, she has a lot of information stored up in that head and any information I have is sort of free floating and hard to pin down so all i really have to offer are comparisons to Simpsons and long synopsis Stargate episodes. oh and the ability to remember what we planned to do on a certain day, even though she’s forgotten as soon as she’s said it. Apparently too much time in academia will do that to you.

Back to the gardening.

I do not have green fingers. My fingers are the same colour as my xbox 360 controller. White and pasty. However there is a big love of gardening in the family, but it’s one of those htings that skips a generation. In a big way. My great-grandather loved his garden, he and my mother would often garden together when she was a little girl. My great-grandmother,while a lovely woman, was also crazy jealous. My mother often told us how my great-grandfather would spent weeks and months perfecting his garden, planting and pruning and then a lady in the neighbourhood would wave at him, smile at him or even just look at him and my great-grandmother would flip out and move them right across the city (they lived in Coventry, though both were from Blythe in Northumberland) and my great-grandather would acquiesce and move and spend the next six months perfecting his new garden, getting it just how he liked it and…they would have to move all over again.

I don’t know of any stories about my grandmother being into gardening at all. Smoking and Tina Turner, but not gardening.

My mother however has a wonderful garden. Before we moved to Wales, our garden in Coventry ha gotten a little jungle-esque, seeing as mum was working three jobs at the time and had two kids under ten, that’s not much of a surprise. When we moved to Wales she had this huge garden to work with, that wasn’t over grown by any means, but was a blank canvas more or less. Now she has a vegetable patch, a green house, there was a pond for a while, a patio and swing sofa thing, the trees give fruit (usually) and she has a lot of beautiful flowers. Most importantly she’s very, very happy.

She does have her own garden demon. That demon is called Jay, and while Jay loves my mum, and the sit-on lawnmower that’s used to mow the huge lawn area. While mum has caused her own problems, Jay is a menace. Pruning the hedges with the strimmer requires supervision ever since the roses were considered part of hedges that needed to be trimmed. The heads of the roses. Jay left the stems…

And as for me? My gardening skills are similar to Jays. I could definitely handle the sit-on mower but I’m not great with plants. When I was ten I killed a stone plant and some cactai. Cactai! I think mostly because I kept knocking them off my bookshelf, but I got the point early on in life. Gardening’s not for me.

Which is fine. I’m not much for gardening either.

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F is for Fringe

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atozfFringe, the tv show, or what I like to call “How did Anna Torv not win all the awards?”

For those who don’t know, Fringe was a sci-fi show that went on for five seasons and ended at the beginning of last year after 100 episodes and a slightly dodgy fifth series. While the comparisons to the X-Files are notable, there is less occult and aliens, and more weird and gross and science. The characters are engaging, the relationships between the different characters absolutely wonderful and it’s really, really gross and fascinating. I loved every episode of seasons one to four. Why not season five? We’ll come back to that.

Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham

Anna Torv as Olivia Dunham

I think my favoruite thing about Fringe was Anna Torv’s performance as all the Olivias. She played Original Olivia, Alternate Olivia (Fauxlivia), Original Olivia brainwashed into thinking she’s Fauxlivia, Fauxlivia pretending to be Original Olivia, Changed time-line Olivia, Changed time-line Fauxlivia, Changed time-line Olivia with original Olivia’s memories and feelings, Olivia possessed by William Bell and Olivia ‘frozen’ in the amber material and woken up twenty years into the future. That’s nine different Olivias. Okay, so one is very similar to Original Olivia (Changed time-line Olivia with original Olivia’s memories and feelings), but still, eight different Olivias is really impressive. And she was so good at it. You can always tell how good an actor is by how they play a slightly (or not so slightly) different version of themselves and Anna Torv played all the variations of her character so very well. There was never a hint of the wrong person in the scene.

Okay, she has won some awards. At the 2009 Australians in Film Awards, Torv won the Breakthrough Award and won  a Saturn award three years running, but really should’ve won more. All the awards.

Amber title sequence from season four changed time-line universe.

Amber title sequence from season four changed time-line universe.

Another aspect of the show I loved were the relationships. And the focus wasn’t always on Olivia and Peters relationship, there was a great focus on the other relationships in the show, especially that of Olivia and Peters father Walter, and Peter and Walter. They were good, bad and sad at different times and behind it all, some very important secondary relationships. I say secondary because while those three relationships were important to the plot, the secondary relationships weren’t. But they were important. To the show and to the characters. Walter’s relationship with Astrid was a beautiful thing, as was Olivia’s relationship with Broyles and Nina. It all added to the universe they created and made it a very strong show to watch.

Observers: Gotta catch 'um all.

Observers: Gotta catch ‘um all.

And yes, it’s a sci-fi show. With alternate realities, and mysterious men called Observers, but strong stories and fascinating stories and the long running story that keeps you wanting to watch episodes way past midnight. There’s lots of little things added into each episode that has you watching episodes over and over looking for the clues to the next episodes or the elusive observers. And the flashback episodes to when Olivia and Peter were children – important plot points – and Walter was still sane and had all his brain. And the changing title sequence, depending on the universe or the time-line, or the year – with every version having different futuristic scientific theories. Plus some odd-out there episodes like an entire episode which is a story Walter tells Olivia’s niece when he’s high and one that’s mostly animation.

I could not recommend it more.

Except for season five.

Title sequence from the episodes set in the 80's.

Title sequence from the episodes set in the 80′s.

Fringe suffers from what we call the ‘season five curse’. Babylon Five suffered terribly from this awful televisual affliction and Fringe has suffered too (though not as bad perhaps). I’ve not seen all of season five. Which says a lot for a show I could not stop watching and spent entire weeks with a broken shipper heart (they really make you suffer for your Peter/Olivia love). It’s enjoyable. Watch-able. But in the end disappointing according to my former house-mate and I take her word for that, because we share very similar tastes and she knows what she’s talking about. They wrapped up  the story the end of season four, bar one or two bits, but when they were given another thirteen episodes, they needed another story and had to stuff a whole plot into those episodes. It’s interesting, but it’s not quite the Fringe we loved.

But aside from those thirteen episodes it’s an amazing show and yes, a sci-fi show, but it’s also a show about relationships, friendships, dealing with change and betrayal by those you love the most. You won’t regret watching it. I promise.

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Catch Up // Recap

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atozallSo lets have a catch-up of these week. As well as starting a new job (I got a job!), writing the posts for the A to Z Challenge, for two blogs, I also decided to write a poem every day for Poetry Month//NaPoWriMo (National poetry writing month). Because I’m a poet and love a challenge. So let’s have a recap of the week. Excuse any repeats, any poem I write for A to Z I am counting for NaPoWriMo – no point in making it harder on myself.

A to Z Challenge.

A is For Amber

B is for Bad Blog Design

C is for Cable Ties

D is for Drugs

E is for Energy

NaPoWriMo

Day One – Amber

Day Two – Lost

Day Three – Knowledge

Day Four – Always Angry

Day Five – Energy

Day Six – The Last Pieces

daffodilI’m also doing an A to Z about Wales over @ Welsh Bloggers.

A is for Aber

B is for Breacon Beacons

C is for Cardiff

D is for Dragon

E is for England

 

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