Archive for the ‘Microblog Mondays’ Category

I need to keep it short and sweet on today’s Microblog Monday, after my last post, which was not a microblog post, despite it being about Microblog Mondays.

I’ve broken away from my usual modern literature reading in the last month, to read some enjoyable and interesting non-fiction, including Hillary Clinton’s What Happened, Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B, and most recently, Sue Perkins’ Spectacles.

Some thoughts about aging, the first being the need to plan well in advance, and to make decisions before you think it is necessary, because by the time you need to have made some of these decisions, you’ll be much less capable of doing so.

Secondly, people often talk about maintaining dignity in old age, confusing it with pride, and implying that this is only possible when you are independent. However, I become more and more convinced that true dignity is being able to admit when you need help, and to accept that with grace.

The weather is warming nicely, and we’re all starting to be a bit hopeful that this year we might actually get a summer, after the disappointments of last year.

With spring well and truly here, with bright light earlier in the morning and later at night, the need for spring cleaning is becoming more and more obvious, and will need to be tackled soon.

I may not have cleaned, but I’m feeling quite smug that I only need to buy three more Christmas/birthday (thanks to my sister and a sister-in-law who both have birthdays on 20th December) presents before the end of the year.



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My regular Microblog Mondays habit has made me forget how to write. Or more correctly, it has made me forget how to write short sentences. I’m perhaps more naturally inclined to longer sentences, but I do try to write clearly and simply. I want to say only what is needed or is helpful, but that’s not always easy. I remember my thesis supervisor telling me that I wrote well, saying that my simplicity was a strength. I remember feeling surprised.

Yet when I joined a particular organisation a couple of years later, I didn’t feel that simplicity was a strength. In that organisation, it seemed to matter who your parents were, or where you went to school, the accent you spoke with, and how you pontificated, as much as what you thought or how you performed. Written messages were shared widely throughout the organisation, and this led to what I would call competitive prose. I remember laughing once at someone’s particularly arrogant message, when they used an obscure word but in completely the wrong context. My laughter wasn’t cruel, but rather it came from pure relief that all these seemingly arrogant people weren’t perfect. Maybe, at times, they were as insecure as I was?

In my late 20s, I had a new manager who wrote in short, at times ugly, but simple and clear sentences. It was a dramatic difference to his predecessor, who was Cambridge educated and prided himself on his more lyrical, often overblown style of writing. I fitted somewhere in between the two styles, but was encouraged to adapt my own style to that of my new manager. (Somehow, this prestigious organisation never really accepted that style did not, in fact, equal substance.)  I found it easy to shorten my sentences, and to insert a full-stop (period) instead of a comma.

In subsequent places of employment, I was freer to write in a way that came naturally, or that was, appropriately, tailored to the audience or the purpose.

Business writing is, of course, quite different to blogging or creative writing. I can be more conversational, and I can vary my style from sentence to sentence. I love the freedom this brings. I can be brief. Or not so brief.

Microblog Monday posts though, have played havoc with my writing style. I adopted the suggested eight-sentence limit as a rule rather than a guideline, and I’ve been doing it for so long now that I feel as if I can’t stop. If I stop, I’ve been defeated. So I carefully edit my Monday posts to eight sentences. I use colons and semi-colons, parentheses and brackets and dashes, all in the pursuit of eight sentences. That’s not my natural style either. I’d probably never even written a sentence with a semi-colon before Microblog Mondays came about.

I can’t blame Microblog Mondays though. If I wrote more often, breaking away from my self-imposed Monday discipline, I might find my own voice again. I want to try. And so I hope this will be a case of “watch this space” rather than a rolling of the eyes and a sarcastic “yeah, right.”

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Learning to listen

I’ve always listened to the radio, and I download their podcasts when I miss interviews I wanted to hear, but I’ve never listened to audiobooks (as, to be honest, I feared they would send me to sleep), until a few months ago when I became frustrated when the third book in a four-book series I was reading wasn’t immediately available from my library. So I downloaded the audiobook from the library, thinking “I’ll give it a try,” as I plugged in my earphones and set off on a walk.

The person reading the book was completely wrong, sounding like a man in his 70s, old and wizened, when the main characters were all young people, and even the side characters wouldn’t have been older than their 50s; it felt so wrong that I could not continue, and I decided that maybe audiobooks were not for me.

Recently, though, I’ve been doing a lot of photo editing on my computer, which is time–consuming and visual, and so I thought that maybe I should try another audiobook. I opened my library app, and saw that they had recently acquired Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett, fully produced for radio by the BBC, and so I downloaded it and began listening straight away. I loved it, tried another – this time it was Option B by Sheryl Sandberg – that didn’t have the same high production values as the BBC book, but was simply the voice of a woman who sounded about the age of Sheryl Sandberg, and so made sense.

I’m now on my fourth audio book – 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and narrated by the author – and I’m enjoying that too.

So now, when I have some simple tasks to do, I’m listening to audiobooks, because otherwise I feel that I don’t get around to actually reading enough books, and I have four hundred on my to-read list, and really, really don’t want to miss out on them.

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In thinking about the #me too posts on social media from all the women who have experienced harassment, abuse and assault, I found one instance going over and over in my head, in which a senior executive of our company humiliated me for absolutely no reason, pushing the backs of my knees at a party so my legs collapsed and I ended up on the floor, inevitably leading people to assume that I had had too much to drink. I never took him to task, just as I never complained to my boss about the off-colour joke he told in our staff meeting that felt directed at me, just as I never told anyone about the two boys who attached me in a ditch when I was about 15, but I managed to fight off. Women are taught to feel embarrassed and ashamed when we have done nothing wrong, and so-called “decent” (and even not-so-decent) men are given a free pass when they use their power against us. #Me too; I’m really angry that this is the case, so angry that women are still treated as second-class citizens, and furious that we are expected to be quiet about it.

It was announced in the last week or so that the US have increased entry requirements for flights, and airlines have said that there will be increased passenger screening, including that we may have to attend interviews before boarding flights, and so I have to say, “sorry, my US friends and family, but your government is making it very hard to want to come and visit!”

I keep hearing people (on media and social media, though less so in real life) referring to people as having Resting Bitch Face. I’ve never liked bullying, and ridiculing someone for their looks is simply another example of that, when they can’t help having a down-turned mouth any more than someone can help having blue or brown eyes, or ginger hair (also an area of discrimination I find childish and despicable), and I find the use of the “B” word, which I try never to use as there isn’t a male equivalent, is just adding salt to my wounds. And for the record, although I have a mouth that turns down naturally, I also have a happy smile, and if you dare to say that I have RBF then you’ll never damned well see it.



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(a continuing series)

Create a list of your top favourite costume choices for this year.

I’ve never been into costumes, and never had the need to, especially as Halloween is not something many of us engage in here, certainly not those of us who don’t have kids or nieces/nephews in the same town.

Show us your pumpkin before and after whatever you chose to do to it.

Putting aside the fact that this sounds semi-risque, I think that the before and after of a pumpkin soup, which could be a particularly boring post (not that this is knocking it out of the park!) given that there are pumpkin recipes everywhere on the internet (even though I make a yummy one – hint, don’t ever use potato), and the before and after of pumpkin gnocchi (which I’ve written about before), would just be repetitive, though the mere thought of it makes me salivate.

Share a slow cooker recipe you love.

Besides the fact that it is spring, and slow cookers are going into an annual hibernation as we say good-bye to slow food and hello to salads and barbecues, I don’t own a slow cooker, because I would need to be organised and plan meals ahead to use it, and I tend to cook whatever I have in the fridge, usually as a quick curry or stir-fry, and besides, where would I put it?

Give 10 reasons why you’re glad it’s Fall.

I’m not writing this one for an obvious reason, given that I live in New Zealand (kinda the reason I’m not writing any of the other posts too), and I’m not glad it’s Fall because a) it’s not, and b) we never call it Fall here, as the correct word is Autumn; though to be fair I might write a version of this next April, as I can be quite fond of autumn, but only if we have a decent summer, and that’s never guaranteed … though today it is at least looking (and feeling) promising.

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September and October in New Zealand (and I believe Australia) is birthday season. One day last week I had four Fb friends with birthdays, we passed what would have been my mother’s 84th birthday, and today it is my baby sister’s birthday, and I have to admit that it is scary the big numbers she has tallied up – because that means I have even bigger numbers.

Today also is day 13 of illness for my husband, and day 11 for me, and although we’re both feeling a little better, a venture out to the supermarket has left me feeling exhausted.

Last week was disappointing worldwide, and personally I felt it, as an overseas friend (one I haven’t met for 30+ years, but we are still Facebook friends) made what seemed to me to be a kneejerk response to the reaction to her chosen President’s actions, and so criticised Puerto Rico, its people and the San Juan mayor in a way that I simply felt was beneath her, and that made me sad. But my long-standing policy on Fb is not to get involved in political debates, so although I said nothing at the time, I still feel it’s needed here.

You know how people say that if you haven’t used something or worn an article of clothing in the last year then you should throw them out? I have to say that I disagree entirely, both for clothing (eg last summer I didn’t need my most summery summer clothes at all) and for possessions. This winter we’ve been enjoying soup for lunch quite regularly, and I was happy to rediscover some pottery soup bowls I’ve had for perhaps 20 years or more though I’ve not used them for several years, and they have been perfect for our lunches. Unfortunately, my husband broke one, but he was doing the dishes so I’m not really complaining!

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(The 17th in a continuing series)

  • It’s good to be enthusiastic about things we love, whether we win or not.
  • Good manners and gratitude take us a long way.
  • When we love our pets, we get the love back.
  • Stand up to bullies, because it’s the right thing to do.
  • Cocktails (or mocktails) can make us happy, and should be savoured.
  • It’s worth taking pride in our appearance, especially on special occasions.
  • Writing to your penpals is important.
  • I’m more like my sister than I realise.

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