Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Kneephobia

Back in the 80s, I read an article about phobias that said that kneephobia was a phobia; kneephobia was the phobia of knees bending the wrong way.  (I think that is a totally valid phobia. Who wants their knees bending the other way? Just flamingos I think.)

My knee has gone a bit random over the last few days (it has a good reason – don’t worry), so I looked up kneephobia, only to find that it doesn’t exist and that genuphobia is a thing.

Genuphobia is a wider kind of phobia. Naked knees, kneeling, clothed knees, anything knobbly and faintly knee-esque… (no mention of the whole knees-bending-backwards thing though…)

I don’t have genuphobia though. I just have short term idiopathic kneephobia.

I sort of think my knee might bend the wrong way. Slightly.

I have a faint, mostly psychological “buckling” issue – which, while I might spend my dotage laughing on the other side of my face, is today making me imagine myself falling over a lot, which is making me smile. I keep imagining myself stoating away sideyways with no provocation and landing in a heap.

It could happen.

Genuphobia is a good word though. It’s a word that I would have missed out on if it hadn’t been for Aladdin, because I am not Catholic.

For Catholics, I believe, life has a lot of genuflecting. For me, not so much. Not until Robin Williams sang “genuflect, show some respect, down on one knee” did I use my context clues to figure that one out.

It gives me some satisfaction that I can therefore see why genuphobia is fear of knees.

Maybe Disney isn’t rotting people’s brains irreparably after all.

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Clarity #themediumisthemessage

We got a new TV.

It turns out that our old TV was barely displaying a picture, although it has seemed fine to me for the last nine or so years. We just didn’t realise how clear pictures could be.

Bing!

Clarity!

Oof!

Clarity!

So I can see everything. You can even see the ball properly in football! When the Playstation is on, you can read the words!  Amazing!

But do I like it?

The first footage we looked at was a bit of Indiana Jones. And while some family members felt that we needed to go back to the beginning of the festive viewing and begin again, this time with CLARITY, I thought… where once there was a fun movie, there are now just some actors, acting on a fabricated set.

In my Netflix shows, the camera moves are so suddenly apparent, you are forced to imagine the film crew teetering on the pavement opposite the actors. You can sense every direction they’ve been given. The montages of each scene are so…. there…

My willing-suspension-of-disbelief is being messed with.

The funniest thing I have seen was a bit of Die Hard with a Vengeance, where I could see every fibre on Bruce Willis’s vest, the sweat on every individual hair of his stubble, the make-up on the cop he was talking to and the set looked like something as flimsy and cardboardy as that used in Fawlty Towers.

But I don’t suppose that they imagined when they filmed Die Hard that the audience were ever going to be watching them quite so closely.

I went to bed that night wondering if there would be a life-size Naga Munchetty perching in my TV in the morning, chatting to me over breakfast in the actual flesh.

It was her day off, but yes, the BBC Breakfast crew were looking large. (Not in a fat way.)

So, it’s a bit ironic.

In order to have things as clear and lifelike as possible, it’s so clear and so close that you can “see the strings”, so the whole artifice of the medium is in your face. It therefore becomes less real/absorbing in terms of the viewer experience, and more real in terms of the truth of the matter: it’s not Indiana Jones or John McClane – it’s Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis crashing through a disposable set in a studio.

I know it was always fake. But now I can see it, it looks faker.

And the stuff that I think is fake is in fact the stuff that’s actually real, that I don’t want to see because it messes with the story that I am drawing from the work of the director and the actors.

So, my medium has changed. And if the medium is the message, with this new medium, what is the new message?

None of this (that one sees on TV) is real. All of this is really real (these are real people in real (fake) situations. Art imitates life, only imitates life and life is what’s real.

Which brings me on to actual reality. That one doesn’t look at through a screen. Real places, things and people.

My verse for this is Romans 1 vs 20:

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

The writer argues that what you see in reality makes the nature of God clear to anyone who is looking.

As I look at an episode of “Suits” and can’t help but feel the director and producers and camera operatives working away, replacing the planned narrative with an involuntary metanarrative, the writer of Romans argues that a similar thing happens when someone looks at their world in Creation: the eternal divine Creator is apparent in what we can see.

Maybe I just have to wait until my eyes adjust to the clarity so I can slip back into the willing suspension of disbelief that made the shows fun and the beads of sweat less visible.

Perhaps I need to start appreciating the creativity behind what I see.

 

Time to untangle the tinsel? #twelfthnight

Today’s prompter asked: “Taking down the decorations…wait til 12th night or not?”

mouse-with-candy-cane

I’ll have to think twice about taking down my decorations – given what happened to them last year. When I got out my bag of tat and tinsel a month ago in order to deck my halls with boughs of random decorations, it was a sorry, sorry sight, prompting the following poem:

‘Twas the month before Christmas And all through the house
A creature was stirring, a rank rodent mouse
The mouse had been nestled 
all snug in its bed
Then thought it would eat
 Sandra’s decorations instead.
It munched through the bag and it munched Santa’s hat
It chomped through the tinsel but would that be that?
It gnawed through the fairy lights 
just for good measure
And disappeared saying,
”It’s been my pleasure.”
A tinselly nest and some Santa hat fluff?
To decorate with that
 would not be enough!
So I’ve been to EK
 and I’ve bought decorations
Now it’s time to begin
 festive exterminations.

Of course, I haven’t done anything about what might have been munching away at my Santa hat at the back of the back of the cupboard-under-the-stairs. I was heartened to entertain the suggestion that it may have been moths, not mice. I mean, there were no droppings, just undeniable eating.

With my mouse or moth experience, the following advice from Jesus (from the Sermon on the Mount ) cannot help but come to mind:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy (…) But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy (….) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

There is no way my decorations count as treasure of any sort, but at Christmas there is certainly a lot of storing up, particularly beforehand – gifts being bought and stashed, food being panic bought, chronic over-catering… but at least during the feasting and festivities all of these things are brought out of storage and enjoyed.

So when I take down my decorations, where am I going to put them? I’ll have to get my act together, hit the shops and buy some mothballs and mouse poison and all kinds of pleasantness, before I can stash my lovely new colour-coordinated baubles, tinsel and blue fairy lights in below the stairs until next year.

(Now I am wondering what the mothballs and mouse poison are in the “treasures in heaven” thing. I suppose one doesn’t need them because the treasures are in heaven, not at the back of a cupboard. One only needs the mothballs and mouse poison if one is a hoarder of physical, corruptible things. One does not need to worry if the things one values are beyond physical reach…)

As for “twelfth night”, I am glad that Christmas Day itself is pretty much the end of Christmas these days. At least there aren’t partridges and pear trees turning up at your front door all the way into January. I think that twelve days afterwards is a good day to take the tree down – I mean, no one knows what day is when or what time it is after Christmas, apart form a brief moment of clarity, or not even then, for the Bells at New Year. It’s good to get that tree in that wheelie bin, take a gulp of cold air and think, right, better get back to normal.

So, in response to the prompt, it’s not so much that I am “waiting” for 12th night. It’s more that I am “waiting” for whatever day the Council says I have to leave my tree out in the brown wheelie bin for collection. Not that it’ll fit. But I can’t even be bothered to ferret out the booklet to see when that is.

In My Fridge

img_1309

Today, my daughter wanted a fried egg.

I remembered throwing out an egg box yesterday, after the daughters had made some cupcakes, so I told her – “We haven’t got any eggs.”

“Yes we do,” she said, and got onto her tippy toes and made me reach up, beyond my line of vision, and into the top of the top of the fridge egg holder bit, where she had loftily decanted the eggs from the egg box, while making the cupcakes, thus leaving the egg box empty, resulting in me putting the egg box in the bin and thinking, therefore, that we had no eggs.

We had eggs.

I might never have realized that there were eggs in the fridge for years and years.

Sometimes, things accumulate in fridges.

This year, it tended to be wine and champagne that accumulated in our fridge. Wine appears in the house (randomly and occasionally) and I figure I should chill it. So I put it in the fridge and await an occasion that merits opening it. (The wine-cult people now say “Who needs an occasion? …. glass of wine… glass of wine … glass of wine,” to which I say, except I don’t generally say, “Blahhhh… stop idolizing, laughing about and drinking wine as if it’s some panacea when quite clearly it’s anything but…. blahhhh….”) Champagne and Prosecco have even less chance of being actually opened, but I still have it in there, chilling away. You never know…

My rock and roll Hogmanay bash afterparty was largely a Shloer, tea and coffee event, but half a bottle of Champagne is now sitting in the fridge with a bit of clingfilm over it waiting for me to feel like drinking it by about … now… I suppose.

But what’s the chances of that? And pouring quality Champers down the sink? Not sure that counts as good stewardship of resources… but then again, I am not sure that a reality show called “Woman Versus Fridge Full of Champagne” would be terribly edifying for participant or viewers.

It shouldn’t be a lonely chore to drink leftover Champagne. It is supposed to be delicately sipped in polite company by people wearing posh, glitzy clothes…

It’s not just my champagne.

All over Scotland, perhaps the world, people are gingerly opening their fridges hoping that the mass of quality cheese within has begun to look less substantial than it did the last time they opened the fridge. How are people supposed to start their January diets with whiffy Brie and tasty Wensleydale with Cranberries clogging up their crackers?

So what do we do? Continue to host cheese and wine parties until everything is gone and we are back to the protein and veg of the Lean in Fifteen programme? Jettison the cheese and go running? Swiftly chug back the Champagne in the interests of economy?

Fortunately I haven’t much cheese left. But I’ll see what I can do about the champagne in a minute. I’ll raise a glass to my fellow bloggers, wish you all a Happy New Year -filled with interesting ideas and entertaining epiphanies.

And tomorrow I will have a cup of tea and a boiled egg. Because I can.

Because we have eggs.

#Panoply

When you only know a word from a single context, it is harder to figure out what it means. “Panoply” is a word that I only knew in one context: the hymn, “Soldiers of Christ Arise”. Here’s the second stanza where the word appears:

Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.

This is based on this passage from Ephesians:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (…) Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 

The “panoply of God” therefore is the “full armour of God”, which Paul goes on to list:  the belt of truth; with the breastplate of righteousness;  your feet fitted with ‘readiness’; the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. 

I could analyse the imagery here all day long, but what I find most interesting is that the  wearer of the panoply is simply aiming to stand their ground and “after you have done everything, to stand”.

It can seem like a bit of a sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut, wearing the panoply of God to  end up at square one, at a familiar stand-still.

But perhaps it takes a sledgehammer to crack the nut of maintaining one’s steadfastness.

Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 

 

 

What I talk about when I talk about running: not really a book review #Murakami

Over the weekend I read “What I talk about when I talk about running” by Haruki Murakami and wondered why I had never read it before. Murakami, in this series of essays, is a bit like what I think I would be like in a parallel universe where I actually got around to writing a novel and could actually run. It was a quick read, with reflections and thoughts that rang true, as he pounded various pavements across the globe.

Today I went running. Not a solo reverse marathon from Athens to Marathon – just a 5k to a coffee shop and the same 5k in reverse, with a coffee and a chunk of millionaire’s shortbread in between. (Should that be millionaires’ shortbread? How many millionaires are there in the context of shortbread?)

So, in response to reading Murakami, I too shall “talk about running”:

It was cold and it was icy. After a slippery walk to school first thing, I did query the wisdom of running on the pavements, but decided to go anyway, disappearing into the freezing mist with my ears kept safe in my Deerstalker completion buff.

I had 30 minutes to run the 5k, despite the fact that I run at about 7 minutes a kilometre or thereabouts on a good day. But it was downhill all the way there, so I thought I might have a hope. On the downside there were random patches of ice, so the time added for taking more care than usual would perhaps cancel out the downhill advantage.

But is it an advantage? On the initial downhill section I always find it a bit “bangy”, and my legs go a bit shin-splinty and I start my internal monologue loop of regret over my purchase of my very beautiful but thoroughly annoying Ravenna 7s.

They are, without doubt, the worst trainers I have ever bought. They are probably excellent shoes for most other people, but we have not had a happy partnership. It’s doubly disappointing as I usually fall a little in love with my running shoes. I still have fond memories of my first ever pair of trail shoes, my Kanadias. I love my North Face trail shoes and their immediate predecessors, my other North Face trail shoes. So many happy happy miles of mud, air and adventure. Great grips allowing me to put my best foot into any amount of mud with confidence.

But these? Pah. Road running shoes. They had such promise! I even went to the running shoe shop and went on their gait analysis treadmill – which totally worked. I could see these trainers straighten out my ankle wobbles. But then in real life…

They seemed comfy enough at first, but then my feet started to ache across the top. The thing is, you have to have them on as loosely as possible, without them falling off. So, instead of running along thinking about whatever one thinks about when running, I am in a state of irritation with the lacing of my shoes and the fact that they cost a fortune and don’t make me happy. And might come off. Then I think to myself that I have had them long enough that I could justify buying new running shoes  – but then, I would have to sacrifice a running window to go running shoe shopping – and how would that help my step count?

I approach my usual 2.5k turning point and power through towards my destination. I notice a dead mouse – and felt I should mention it here, as Murakami lists animal corpses in his book.

I hit 30 minutes of running and am not really going to make it to the cafe on time. But the time I would lose getting my phone out and texting my friend would only make me even later. I swing into the cafe a full nine minutes late.

Phew. She is even later than me.

It seems even colder on the way home. The cold spurs me into action and off I go for my 5k of uphill running.

This run seems to go in more quickly than the first leg. Maybe because my shin-splints have got over themselves and I found my running groove more quickly. Maybe it’s because I am not under time pressure.

As I run, two songs circulate unbidden in my head. One is “Oceans” and the other is ”Hear the call of the kingdom”. I assume these songs have got themselves out of my subconscious filing system because they both have the word “call” in them.

Last night my house group were discussing God’s call and man’s responses to it, figuring whether a person can seek after God or find God in a proactive way – or whether  one’s response to God is only ever reactive.

So, “Oceans” opens with the line “You call me out upon the waters…” and in the chorus there’s the response of “And I will call upon Your name” with the conclusion “For I am yours, and you are mine.” And the other song contains the invitation to “Hear the call of the kingdom” and the chorus has the response “King of Heaven we will answer the call” – the point being that both responses are responses to a call from God – not instigated by man.

So I then started thinking about James Hogg’s “Memoirs and Confession of a Justified Sinner” and the issues thrown up there like free will and predestination and thought that I should probably re-read it, but there’s more Murakami to read.

I enjoyed running along. I enjoyed the fact that I could run along without wishing it was over. I was feeling fine and in a rhythm. I enjoyed the fact that one’s body can cope with the cold as long as you keep going.

So, that was today’s run. And that’s “What I talk about when I talk about running”.

 

 

Five reasons to love #moneyfornothing @SMvintage

It’s my new favourite show.

Here is the basic plot: Sarah stops people throwing stuff in the tip, upcycles it, tries to sell it and give any profit to the person throwing it away.

Here are five reasons I enjoy the show:

  1. It is so polite! Sarah rounds off many an interaction with a happy-go-EnidBlytonesque-lucky “Thanks ever so much!” I wish I was the kind of person that lived my life saying, “Thanks ever so much!” intermittently.
  2. Lovely skilled craftspeople: When Sarah has selected her objects for upcycle, she takes them off to various young bearded craftsmen, like the woodcutters out of fairytales. They have cool workshops where they work their magic. As well as the young bearded craftsmen, there are others, including the most cheerful man in the world – Guy, who makes lamps out of literally everything. And Bex the blacksmith. And Norman  – who Arthur-the-voiceover-man gives a hard time to. These people can do amazing things – and I can’t. As a child I was famous for being unable to make crafts. As a teenager I remember getting “poor” for woodwork. As an adult I persist in having no time and no taste and residual carpal tunnel syndrome – all of which mean I will never be able to have a cool workshop with tools and random offcuts of characterful wood. Sigh.
  3. Redemption and Rescue:  Okay, so it’s not as “pure” a show, generally, as Salvage Hunters, (where Drew Pritchard is 100% faithful to the originality of each piece). To turn a profit, Sarah and her craftspeople generally have to reimagine and update the tip-salvage pieces. I really enjoy seeing dead chairs being resuscitated with striking reupholstery. Who doesn’t get a kick out of seeing wood being cleaned and waxed, bringing out the long lost (and almost lost for absolute ever) grain? There is joy there – in things being brought back from the brink.
  4. The Winning Formula: The show is extremely formulaic, with the three items being upcycled being spread throughout the show, so that one is hooked for the duration. There are the scenes at the tip where Sarah politely asks people if she can look through their rubbish (and they wish they had known they were going to be on the telly, or they perhaps wouldn’t have been looking quite so much as if they were going to the tip). There are the trips to Walthamstow and Surrey and wherever, to the workshops – and there are the return trips to the homes of the people whose possessions she saved from the tip. Whether the profit goes to charity, on a meal out,  towards a project – there’s always a happy ending. Even when things don’t sell, one imagines that once the show has aired, someone watching will snap it up! And throughout, there is the wry punning of Arthur Smith.
  5. Editorial quirks: The show isn’t supposed to be binge-watched… but… were that to ever happen to you…ahem …  there are things that you start to wonder about the cutting room floor. That bobble scarf of Sarah’s – just how many episodes does it appear in? That man who was clearing his attic out for his grandchildren to play it – how many was he in? And the guy that says in the title sequence “That’s amazing!” – was he not facing the other way in the real show? (As was the artist lady with white chairs)… I have to say, the decision to keep in Sarah’s near-stumble in the yard certainly added a surprise element to that episode. Phew, that was close.

I must have watched pretty much all the episodes now. I haven’t the talent, taste or time to get creative like that. But I enjoy watching it.

Sarah, thanks ever so much.

Fennel Flannel #leanin15

I read the red “Lean in 15” from cover to cover and figured that the upshot was this: one has to earn one’s carbs. (On a day one exercises, one can eat normally-ish; on a day one does not exercise, one has to substitute the carbs with some kind of greenery.)

This is all fine and dandy if you are a live-alone youngster (especially if you stroll home from work past a well stocked greengrocer and have an overpriced tub of coconut oil in your hipster pantry.)

But what if you are a middle-aged mum, cooking for four other people, all of whom exercise on a combination of different days? Eh? This could be a pasta disasta.

It turns out that ratatouille is the way forward.

The principle of ratatouille was also evident in a recipe that took me down a very unfamiliar vegetable road. It involved buying fennel (Fennel?) that I had never seen before and only heard of in the context of Hipp Organic Baby Food thirteen years ago. It’s a weird vegetable. Smells like aniseed and looks like a bulbous onionesque leek. And then there was celery, that I hadn’t handled since I was about ten, during our short lived feed-the-guinea-pig phase.

But, when I boiled the fennel, celery and various random other vegetables in some chicken stock, it was really pretty palatable – with that same half-way-to-being-soup vibe that you get off of ratatouille. (The palatability may have been helped by the multitude of sausages throughout).

One of the first recipes I tried was a Thai Beef Salad.

It had way too much sharpness and kick for me, so the next time I just had steak and salad and that was great. Steak, salt, pepper: Tssssssssssss…. ready! Salad with an avocado and some feta cheese through it for deliciousness. Quite calorific and red-meaty for a “healthy” dinner – but it is certainly easy and certainly delicious.

The chorizo, chicken and spinach recipe is very delicious also.

It is amazing how much spinach shrinks. I kept shoogling the bag of spinach into the frying pan and it kept disappearing into wee dark green wisps.

So, all this carb-avoidance was getting a bit tricky. Frying up steak and garnishing everything with an avocado and a block of cheese wasn’t too convincing on the healthiness front.

So, I figured the trick is to have more exercise days, therefore earning carbs. Which is fine, as I am master of the FitBit.

I have enjoyed cooking random vegetables, but my kids are less convinced. The “weird” and “random” recipes in “Lean In 15”  aren’t really family teatime winners. “It has weird food,” apparently.

*goes running*

How to avoid #procrastination

Thanks to my prompter for “Procrastination” as a prompt. I shall post on it forthwith. Wouldn’t want to let that one fester away in the “to-do” corner.

As with many things, the trick to avoiding procrastination is to wake up to the fact that time elapses. (Perhaps I have ranted about this before. It’s one of my facebook-gripes: “I can’t believe it is six years since….” Eh, why not? Time elapses. “The sun will continue to rise and set whether I pass in geometry or not”, as Anne of Green Gables put it, roughly.)

Yes, time marches on. Or it gets in its winged chariot. Either way, it’s a dimension on the move from beginning to end or from everlasting to everlasting, or somewhere in-between.

I don’t know when I realised this about time. I think it’s when you figure out that Christmas takes ages to come… until sufficient time passes… and it’s you that is primarily buying the presents rather than receiving the presents. Then it whips round on its annual cog, smacking you in the face with its relentless regularity. (In a fun and festive way!)

This is all to do with fractions.

When you are two, a year is half of your life. When you are 90, a year is a 90th of your life. So, for a two year old, it feels as if Christmas takes 45 years to come around. For a 90 year old, there are hardly any shopping days to Christmas. It’s basically just Christmas.

Ho Ho Ho.

So, time elapses. And I know this, in a kind of cognitive behavioural kind of way. This means that I generated my anti-procrastination strategy called: “Tasks and Timeslots”.

This means that you have a diary – a physical diary with physical pages – and you allocate tasks to timeslots.

The trick is actually doing the tasks in the allocated time slots. Then they get done.

Another important strategy is not planning to do things that you can’t actually fit into the time that you have. Don’t agree to things you are definitely going to fail to do. That’s just depressing for you, not-so-good for your boss and a let down to your friends.

And if you ever do procrastinate and end up in a sticky wicket, there are always the six-eight hours overnight that can be called upon in an emergency. But I don’t recommend that.

Best just put that iPhone down, turn that TV off and get on with your tasks.

Or, admit defeat and go to bed.

(Don’t start cleaning out a cupboard or trying to upcycle a pile of junk).

My “Messages” poem for #nationalpoetryday #messages

Messages

I
I wish I had

a chunky rustic basket
of thick twisted wicker,
with a string of pink pork links
like a kite’s tail
bouncing along
teasing the butcher’s dog.

I want to buy

my milk and papers,
some fresh soft rolls
and some bacon.
Some chocolate

will go nicely with a cup of tea.

II
The messages have to be walked for.
If you drive, it’s Gro-shree shopping:

Trolleys and crinkles and beeps and muzak and avoiding people you know and cranky toddlers and questionable parenting and vouchers you’ll never redeem and impulse purchases and plain packaged own brands that make you feel uneasy and like some kind of a food snob and multipacks and BOGOFs and bad lighting and dizzying totals when it comes to the checkout when you find you’ve forgotten your bags.

III
I’m away to the shops for my messages.

I’ve remembered my bag.
It is scrunched in my pocket.
My wallet is filled with coins.
I don’t take a basket.
I pick up the things that I want.
There’s no queue.
I pay and I leave.

IV
The medium is the message.
If messages are a medium
The message from the messages
Is that

Gro-shree shopping
is a
mess
and takes
ages.

You’d better get your messages.

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