Me Around And About

It Happens

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They say that life is what happens when you’re making plans. It is true indeed. I’ve made lots of plans in the last couple of years and life happened anyway. What is fabulous about life is that it is always guaranteed to change, so if something feels a little rotten, you can rely on the fact that it won’t always be so—just try and keep your nostrils shut for a while.

As has been glaringly obvious to followers of my blog, I’ve been more away from it than not for quite some time. After blogging almost every day when I started, to panicked zoom throughs a couple of times a year, I apologise for my lengthy absence and comment neglect. Most of my writing plans had to be put aside for a while in favour of learning how to live again, but now it’s time to rejoin the world of blogging and the world in general. I’m going to start in easy with one post a week, and catch up again with the bloggerverse slowly and enjoyably this time.

I have a little pile of completed books that I intended to publish before, but life was too busy happening. It still is very busy happening, only now I’m enjoying it. So I’m going to see what they were all about, edit them, and let them loose soon. Can’t wait to get stuck in. The urge to scribble never leaves no matter what in the world is going on, so a couple of paragraphs were added or changed while those books languished. Writers can’t stop writing, and in the case of my big non-fiction book (which finally seems to be happy with its tenth title), I’m glad that I never published it when I wanted to. It’s grown and morphed as I’ve grown and morphed, and I think that it will be much more helpful to the people out there that it is intended to help. I also have some great projects on the go, both for others and myself, and can’t wait to launch them all.

Anyway—hello again online friends and family. I’m looking forward to hearing all your news again and getting back into writerly chats.

Quickie Update – Cars Can Be Lawn Ornaments Too

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I don’t believe that moaning accomplishes anything at all, even when there really is a whole heap to moan about – hence my lack of personal posts lately. I’ve been zooming around all over the place trying to find my new place in this crazy world around me these past few months, and I can tell you I’m sure that I have a WHOLE LOT less hair. But I’ve discovered a lot of amazing things about myself that I never knew before, so it’s probably all going to turn out well. I’m anticipating only good miracles – after all, when your road is smooth, who needs them? So when times are a bit dodgy I believe that you get to expect them. I’ve already had quite a few fabulous ones this year, so why not be positive? Life’s big troubles are generally about growing and learning, and I reckon that we should at least try and enjoy the ride, bumps and all.

So now for a bit of an update. This is not moaning, you understand? Just an update. (winks)

The municipality has lost all the documents for my car – including the registration book, so I’m now driving around rather illegally seeing as how they so far haven’t issued me with the South Africa registration since moving here from Zimbabwe. It’s all very…Oh well…what can you do?…Sorry about that my dear. Sods. I’m pretty sure they’re angling for a bribe, but I reckon that considering things in general that’s not going to work with me right now.

So far this year I’ve committed the Celiac cardinal sin of munching down on things that I haven’t read labels on from well meaning people several times, and my innards are now feeling the pain after the most recent fall this week.

On a positive note, I bumped into all my neighbours at the same time, and we’ve convened a meeting to talk about setting up some sort of community thing about all the criminal activity. The couple who live next door actually woke up to burglars inside recently, and had their computer things and phones lifted. After the five concerted attempts to get in here after Angus passed away I’ve taken precautions. Possibly excessively according to my friend Eleanor, who says that she feels rather more worried about anyone who broaches this particular perimeter than she does about me. I agree. Rambo granny at your service.

Seriously though, I’m amazed that I’m still standing, and even more amazed at the support of some very special friends here in blogland, who will always be closer to my heart than they will ever know. It’s been quite a trip these past seven months – it doesn’t seem so long from the inside to be honest, but I’m getting to feeling pretty human lately, and will soon be spamming you all up with photies I’ve taken recently.

Thank you for sticking with me my wonderful blogging friends. You are all awesome and I’ll hopefully be back to zooming just as quickly as before. I have loads of comments to get to now – let the zooming begin. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed just as much as you can, regardless of the scenery sometimes, and I’m getting there.

IMG_2601.jpg1 (2).jpgWW

The World In Your Tummy

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These days with so much awareness that we are what we eat, lots of people are switching to gluten free diets. It is true that our guts are the captains of our ships – really – the state of your gut will drive your moods, your cravings, your mind, and the possibility of contracting cancer. I’m allergic to gluten, but I LOVE pies, toast and carbs, so as well as having to watch my sugar consumption because of my fungal Candida alien invasion my diet is apparently limited. Not so much to be truthful.

Gluten Free Bread

The first gluten free bread mixes available were pretty rotten and tasted like cardboard that had been stomped on by a heavy drinker who hadn’t bathed in a month, but nowadays they’re pretty good with the seed mixes and so on. The secret to fabulous sandwiches, no matter how bad the bread tastes when you’re going gluten free is toast. My favourite is GF bread toast with avocado and onion topping.
Hummus is another tasty topping.

Avo

Rather than throw away that cardboard GF loaf after its day in the sun, slice it and toast it, and store it in an airtight container for snacks and dips later on. Crunchy and cool. Also for those of you Candida challenged – avocado produces a natural anti-fungal for self-protection, so weight aside, munch that green stuff down!

Cops and Robbers Part Two

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Not a happy bunny.  We had another break in attempt, and the wobbly shock is just starting to set in now.  This time the sods managed to get away with a very expensive laptop that Angus bought not so long ago.  I heard Bella barking at around four this morning, had a look outside and didn’t see anything so I shuffled back to my office to my computer.  Then I heard a little noise but wasn’t overly worried because it was quite windy.  I went through to the lounge anyway, and there it was.  An arm sticking through the burglar bars waving a rake around.  I was so shocked that I never wondered why it was waving a rake around, but just freaked right out.  The only thing around that I could lay my hands on was a long fluorescent light tube, so I just grabbed that and whacked the arm, yelling “Get out of here, you f****r”.  Rude word I know, but really appropriate at the time.  The tube shattered, so I zoomed off to fetch my big knife, although my yelling had woken Angus up, who was now also beating the daylights out of the tenacious bloody arm. I reckon he’s chipped a bone on his own arm too in all that chaos, and there’s broken fluorescent glass all over the floor and blood all over the curtains.  It was really shocking the way that the arm just kept coming for more.  Not cool.
Even more not cool was trying to figure out what the arm and rake was doing in the first place.  At some point they’d already managed to hook the laptop off the dining room table onto a nice soft chair, and then they pulled the chair to the window and got hold of the laptop that way.  They really wanted it too considering that they’d added a wire hook to the side of the rake, so they must have been very busy fellows outside for quite a while.  There was a strong garden broom lying snapped in two on the floor, which I reckon they might have used to try and pull out the burglar bars first.  They’d got the broom and the rake by first getting into a locked outside room through a window they managed to open.
The police took a while to get here this time, but I’d also phoned the neighbourhood watch, who were really cool and arrived in force, but didn’t stay long after the cops got here when they got a report of a car being broken into up the road.  Walking around outside with the police we discovered that the thieves had dropped a carved walking stick.  I’ll take a picture of it later because we’ve been told not to touch anything till the fingerprint people come, and I’m a bit too shaky anyway to get a decent shot right now I reckon.  Looking at it did make me wonder how many people have been clouted with it during the course of their general activities.  Also makes me wonder if they’ll come back again, and then third time could be the charm for them.  And then even more wondering if they might think about retrieving their walking stick.  It’s obviously some specially made thing, and the head of it looks like a carved baboon face, or monkey, so I’m guessing that whoever dropped it isn’t overly happy about losing it.  Thieving sod.
I think I may have got a new reader though, as long as he’s cool with typos and a lot of scribbling and scratching out in a book.  While the one policeman was getting all the details down, he asked me what I do, and when I said I write books, the senior one asked to see them.  I haven’t actually got any around here right now apart from the old original proofs because I’m holding off ordering any until I update the back covers.  I showed him those, and he sat reading the two “diary entries” by Christopher that I put in the back of African Me while I finished giving the statement.  When they left he said he loved it and wanted to read the whole thing, so with fair warning about it being the very first proof and not looking really good at all I gave it to him.  He then thanked me for all of them and tootled off, so now I better move my jacksie and order some more.  Who knows, he might spread the word.
Right.  Now I’m off to strongly spike my tea, give Bella a big bone for saving the day a second time, and Freddie a smaller one for sleeping through the whole thing.  And now the last letter of the alphabet has gotten stuck down on my keyboard too.  Bah humbug.

 

Bella

 

 

 

Baby Steps

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Things have been a bit hectic for me for a couple of days, so no writing, editing, or indeed anything computer related has been done so far this week. Also it’s raining so my internet sucks. Life’s funny sometimes when you have to run as fast as you can and you still don’t keep up. Never mind. I’ve got thousands of emails and notifications again, so if there’s anything important that I should be doing that I could take a while getting to, please yell at me. Loud as you like. I don’t mind at all.

I have figured out that I’m a bit of a coward. I decided that seeing as how I would be forced out into the big wide world and have to stand in queues and do horribly tedious things for days, that I would take along my camera just in case I spotted anything interesting. Well. Just holding a camera in public gets you stared at, and also glared at if you look like you’re going to aim it in anyone’s general direction. Much respect to all you street photographers out there. I gave up on that pretty quickly after getting a couple of pretty boring and bad shots, and lots of resentful and possibly threatening stares. I’ll have another go though – when I’m not feeling pressurised to do other things, because I’m collecting elements for my future cover art project. I could maybe get into the whole glaring thing when I’m my normal self – it’s actually a little funny now that I’m happily back where I belong right here at my desk.

I’m quite excited with my cover design thing, and really hope that I get it right. I was telling a friend the other day that when I was a teenager I was obsessed with sketching pictures that told a story. They ended up looking quite “different”, and I was strongly encouraged to draw normal things instead. I remember doing one of Elvis entwined with tablets, a syringe, a pink Cadillac, and a peanut butter sandwich, so I can see where that was good advice at the time. But thinking back now I also see a frustrated cover designer – hopefully. I also remember writing a terrible song about a robot, but I’ll say no more about that. For the rest of this week I’m just going to be catching up with blogs and comments, and doing mini edits on my published books, correcting gremlins still lurking in them, and then changing their paper book formats and sizes, so WIP’s will only be got back into next week.

Diving into catch up mode now, and anyone contemplating prying me away from my desk for the foreseen future can anticipate worlds of pain. Worlds. Now – a couple of my furtive and wobbly shots on my first ever camera outing. I only had the zoom lens with me, and I’m pretty sure I had it on the wrong setting – so…

This huge cross lives on a hill overlooking our little town, and is lit up at night. Whether you’re religious or not, it is strangely comforting.

Cross

Taxi Rank

Smiley Face

Brothers

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Owie!

Broken Head Bone

Birdies – of course.

Birds

Request for Tour Hosts and Google Whine

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Firstly, I’d like to find out if any of you guys would be willing to host me for a launch tour for my next book release towards the end of December this year. I would email everything to you, and all you’d have to do would be to copy and paste. Anyone who hosts me would get Mobi copies of all my books, including the new release, just in case you don’t already have enough books, with absolutely no expectation that you read any of them. I’ll add a Contact Me page below for if you’d like to so I can get your email address.

Secondly, the very book I’m talking about is sometimes quite painful to work on, and I occasionally get myself well wound up and in need of an internet fix to get out of the zone. So earlier on I did just that and had a little zoom through my Google home page. Massive eyeball burn for me. Blech. I don’t know why some people feel such terrible urges to display their parts for unsuspecting scribblers to stumble upon. Rotten pervs. At least it got me out of the zone. I checked the purveyor of gnarly appendages profile, and realised that if I’d had a proper look to begin with I would never have added him to my circles. More blech.

Up to now I pretty much always follow back everyone who follows me. Twitter is easy to see if a site posts actual pornographic pictures, and obviously I’m not going to follow those, although I do quite happily follow and retweet erotica writers. Even though I don’t read or write it, I find them a really supportive and happy bunch of scribblers. It seems counterproductive to me to only follow other writers though, when it’s the people who don’t write who will hopefully turn into future readers, so I’ve always been a follow back bunny and try to interact with a broad spectrum of people.

On Google though, it’s a schlep to open everyone’s profile, especially if you have multiple new followers at a time, and you’re busy busy busy, so generally I just add them all with the Add All button. I won’t be doing that anymore though. I also had a clear out of unfollowers while I was at it today. I follow a lot of sites on all platforms that don’t follow me back, and I don’t expect them to. I’m following because what they have to share interests me. But ninety percent of those I follow is generally out of courtesy because they followed me first. Those arb people who follow thousands on Twitter and then unfollow the lot in one go are all over the place. Google will have the green Friends icon beneath someone’s avatar if you have them in your circles, regardless of whether they have you in theirs, and I’ll always support a friend if I see they’re trying to promote something or get a message across. But I don’t see the point of helping out some tool who is just using me as a number on his massive followers list. In case anyone’s having similar problems there’s a cool app that can help. Circloscope is the G+ equivalent of JustUnfollow on Twitter so the purge was pretty painless today, but definitely no more following back just because I’m nice anymore.

So after that tiny, totally un-blog tour related rant, I’ll add the form and hold thumbs that someone signs up.

Hallowhat?

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I wasn’t thinking of Halloween or planning on posting anything at all creepy until I almost stood on this guy today. Still got the willies – not keen on leaving my feet on the floor, and got me thinking about another thing that had me tucking feet under bum for weeks.

Scorpion 1

South Africa doesn’t really celebrate Halloween much. I’ve heard that it is growing in popularity a bit, but apart from those wonderful guys who will take any excuse for a party, I’m not sure that it would be a very good idea to go around knocking on doors around here dressed up as ghouls and such. Small scary creatures knocking on doors at night in South Africa are highly unlikely to get any sweets – probably only the visions of the backs of people running away smartly and screaming hysterically. Chatting to author friend Charles Yallowitz on his blog the other day, where he was discussing the sizes of various monsters reminded me about a little tokoloshe incident of my own.

I’ve been doing a little interior design work on the especially unpleasant hell that is home to the Nefandus – the demonic beings in Shadow People. I have a very vivid imagination, so I know that they don’t like it there at all, and are quite keen to leave. Their appearance of course, and their very specific methods of—. Well no – never mind that now. I will only say that they’re very, very, very, tall. All cultures on this world of ours have legends of demonic entities. They’re mostly quite similar in looks, which really should give us pause for thought. Black skin. Red eyes. Long pointy fingernails. They loom over beds, oozing icy malevolence, instilling immobilising terror, and often buggering about with the duvet, while giving their victims a nasty scratch or two. They throw things at walls. Occasionally these things are their victims.

So the whole demon thing is pretty disagreeable in general. Unless you’re another way inclined I suppose, then they’d just be invited guests at your party. Well. You enjoy whatever rocks your boat, is all I can say about that. I’ll be washing my hair on that night. Here in Africa we have quite a few gods and demons. Mermaids that are not gorgeous, blonde, and large breasted, but rather menacing and vicious whirling dervishes, that suck you down into rivers and drown you. Then there’s Nyaminyami – the god of the river. He’s a biggy. When the hydro-electric dam was built in the Zambezi valley in the 1950’s, the BaTonga tribe were forced off the lands that had been rightfully theirs from time immemorial into new settlements on higher ground. Angrily they vowed that Nyaminyami would destroy it, and to be truthful, over the years there have been quite a few large, unexpected, not easily explained, disasters and deaths there. So never be too hasty to disbelieve in legends.

We also have the tokoloshe. They are not so tall. In fact they’re about the height of a two year old child. But don’t let their short stature fool you – these are very frightening and powerful ooh-nasties. The method of choice to stop the evil little sods from hopping onto you as you dream, is to place lots of bricks under the legs of your bed. If you believe in them, this would be a wise thing to do, considering a particular one of their forms of attack. Not a cool way to awaken, I reckon. There are no character saving Leprechaunish pots of gold here. They’re murderous, terrifying entities if the thousands of stories are to be believed. I certainly wouldn’t like to meet up with one at all. Although once I thought I had.

Many moons ago, I was staying at the lake resort of Kariba in Zimbabwe – legendary home of the Nyaminyami by the way. I was sleeping off an overdose of one-armed bandit gambling, and various other youthful excesses, when I was rudely awakened by something tugging on my ankle. On opening a heavy lid, I locked eyeballs with two nasty little shiny black points of light surrounded by a swirling mass of hair. Lots of hair. Emanating from this horrible sight were some pretty odd noises too. I yelled at the top of my lungs and then did the cowering against the wall thing for a while. Apart from soft noises of movement coming from the adjoining hotel rooms, caused by my own screams of terror no doubt, I heard sharp nails scrabbling on the floor. Then a big bang as whatever it was squeezed out of the window in the bathroom before heading for the hills.

Needless to say I hightailed it out of there straight away to another hotel – with first floor rooms. The bleary eyed hotel staff had differing opinions as they poured several very large shots of medicinal brandy. The most sensible theory was that it had been a thieving monkey. Still – I didn’t like to think that a wild monkey had been yanking on my leg. And why would a monkey be doing that sort of thing anyway? It certainly hadn’t sounded like any monkey I’d ever heard either. More like that awful head spinning little girl in the Exorcist. Do they have scrabbling nails? My ankle was fairly badly scratched. I really don’t know. Even though they’re so clever, I’ve never been partial to them. My mother had an incredibly mean pet monkey once called Darwin, who she never believed used to bite me when she wasn’t around, and coo lovingly, and try and stroke my cheek when she was. Until someone left a window open my eight year old self was fairly traumatised. Not me, in case that’s what you were thinking – I wouldn’t want to harm them. I just don’t want them in my personal space, let alone yanking any of my limbs.

The other opinion was that it had been a tokoloshe, sent by the witchdoctor that had created it from the dead, to steal from guests. When I said that nothing had been stolen, it was suggested that it must have been planning something else altogether to begin it’s spree with, and I’d clearly had a very lucky escape. Indeed! The hotel manager helped polish off the bottle of medicinal, and was quite adamant that it had been the tokoloshe that had been swiping wallets, jewellery, and cameras off dressing tables for weeks. He further deprived me of sleep that night by insisting that now that it knew I had seen it, it would traverse the globe to hunt me down and kill me. That weekend was cut short for me right then. I spent the next few nights elsewhere, with wide open eyes, and fantastic and caring friends taking turns to hide under my bed at night and grab my ankles. Then I gratefully flew off to spend a few peaceful months in mercifully wild monkey free England. I haven’t seen anything remotely like that since. Maybe he’s still there, following my trail through dusty castles, and quite a few pubs as I recall, stuck forever in that lovely Kingdom, just waiting for me to return. Anyone heard of night-prowling monkeys in London I wonder? I do hope that my continued existence proves that it was just a monkey after all – it probably was – but then again, you never know.

Happy Halloween everyone!