Year: 2011

No more shopping!

But still got baking to do!

Yup, I think I’m all shopped out and after tonight, everything will be wrapped and ready to hand out.

There is then the small matter of making the trifle for Christmas dinner, and baking some bread for the Annual Christmas Party on the 27th. I’m going for two flavour of tear-n-share style loaves, Sage and Onion, and Garlic. The toffee vodka is ready for apple juice (toffee apples!), and the cola cube vodka is ready for lime juice (fizzy cola bottles!) and suffice to say my calendar is chock full of reminders so I don’t forget anything.

I have one more full day of work left tomorrow, then I’m off work until 2012. Let me hear ya say WOOOHOOOOOOOO.

I’m going to try and remember to take my camera with me over the festive season as well, be nice to try and capture some images/memories, rather than relying on my shonky (and that’s when I’m sober) memory!

Next thing I need to sort out? What will I wear to the Hogmanay party?

The untold story

Somewhere in a suburban town, in a slightly unkempt semi-detached house, a man, alone in a darkened room, sits hunched over a desk. Spot lit by the desk lamp, he is surrounded by scrunched up balls of paper, broken pencils, the debris of his ailing mind.

He writes.

The dark creeps in, smothering the light and blurring the edges of ..

He stops and with a resigned sigh, once again drives a deep score through the words.

Staring down at the page, the lines and lines of scored prose drive him further toward failure and, with the tiniest of shake of his head, he tries again. He draws the pencil across the paper, the subtle textures vibrating through his fingers, the gentle pleasure that he knows and craves, the kiss of the muse, bittersweet.

He writes of an outing.

Jostling in time to the movements of the carriage, thermos tea sloshing in plastic cup lids, the couple stare out of the window. The morning sun plays on their faces, catching the creases of their smiles. At their feet the picnic basket, laden with food and drink, reminds them of another era, a time neither knew but they are happy to try and recreate, hoping to capture the a notion of those romantic times gone past.

He has a beginning. He leans forward to scrutinise the words, the life breathing on the page. He sits and stares.

And stares.

And stares.

He is lost, directionless after so long without direction.

He looks down at the words, again and again. Are they real? Where did they come from? These are not his, he decides, but stolen, plucked from a place he doesn’t recognise. He is a thief or worse, a fraud. He has long suspected it thus, and with only fragments of evidence to the contrary what else can he be?

He sits back in the chair, defeated. A deep breath. Concentrating on relaxing body and mind. In his hand he still holds the pencil, gently now, forgotten, unforgiven.

He closes his eyes.

With a soft jolt the train slides to a halt. The couple, childlike in their excitement, bustle their way from the carriage and out into the fresh sea air. They rush over the old wooden footbridge, slats creaking and clunking under their feet, and out onto the sand. They’ve talked of this, planned where they will go, what they will do and how they will do it, but that is forgotten as they dash and stumble for the sea in a frenzy of euphoria. Finally they are here in the abandon of the moment.

The gentle scratch of the pencil pervades his thoughts and he smiles as the words tumble on to the page, the pencil drags itself dull as it captures his thoughts, gentle loops, swooping dashes and exclaimed marks. He realises, finally, that he is writing.

And at the same instant, with that self-same realisation, comes the sudden stop. He tenses, hoping he has reacted quickly enough to catch it but he already knows it is lost, gone in the same instant it was created, the flare of the extinguished match. Once more. Again. Again.

The pencil is motionless, the paper remains virgin and untainted by his sordid outpourings.

He sits there a while, gazing at the space before him, the blurred edges of the page, the faint outline of long forgotten words. Time gathers around him and, eventually, the pencil crumbles to dust.

Weekend of OSSUM!

Sometimes things just work, pieces fall into place and without really realising it you discover you are happy, content and completely at peace with the world.

And, coming from a grumpy bugger, that’s saying something!

So it transpired that Saturday and Sunday melted into one big pot of OSSUM. A slow paced Saturday, an amazing night out in Edinburgh until the wee sma’ hours with some lovely people and no small amount of fun, and then a Sunday of wonderful lethargy.

Not going to say any than that, but did want to capture the moment before the memories fade, such weekends are few and far between… the resolution of next year, MORE PLEASE!

Ho ho … ho?

It’s true.

I’ve checked the calendar.

Twice.

It is definitely almost Christmas.

Which means it’s almost the end of the year.

How did that happen?

I’m a bit disappointed that I’ve not yet managed to get the new ISTC website up and running. It’s close, so close, and after a few frustrating weeks of backtracking and replanning part of the implementation (the member database part, quite important that bit!) I now have a clear path forward and will be looking to get it tested (I have volunteers already, more welcomed!) in the next few weeks.

Mind you, the past six months have been hectic but well worth it. We’ve grown our team and have a strong plan of action for the coming year, the challenge will be getting it all done.

So, next year is looking like it will be a good one.

Mind you, still need to get past the next couple of weeks.

We wish you a thingywotsit…

Yes, it’s definitely that time of year. The music has started to be played on the radio (where are all the NEW Christmas songs??), the first dusting of slush has plopped itself all over everything, and I’ve got a cupboard bursting with presents ready to be wrapped, not to mention cards to be written and posted.

Oh yeah, and this year I will have a Christmas tree.

It’s also that time of year when you look at your calendar and think… ‘right, when shall I fit in some sleep?’ because all of a sudden there are only a few weekends to go and you’ve got one or two nights out in a row and you start to feel old and wonder if you can manage but then you go out and it’s fab and you think ‘hey, I don’t really NEED sleep’ and then suddenly one day you sleep for 14 hours and are quite happy to do the same the next day, just as you are happy to eat trifle for breakfast, demolish a chocolate orange for lunch, and takeaway is a chore because it means getting up off the sofa to answer the door. Meanwhile your living room is strewn with wrapping paper, half-empty coffee mugs and wine glasses huddle together (you did start to tidy up but it was just too much effort) and you start to wonder if you are getting a cold.

Then the next night out comes along, you struggle out the door and whoooosh, alcohol happens and it’s fabĀ and you think ‘hey, I don’t really NEED sleep’ …

Repeat until January.

I fuckin love Christmas.

Pinch, punch

I forgot to open my advent calendar this morning, I don’t think my brain is willing to accept that it’s already the 1st of December.

The year really has flown by in a haze of highs and lows, and all things considered I think the trend has been an upward one. Certainly finishing the year feeling good about me, good about Kirsty, good about Kirsty and I, and good about the future.

I’ve not blogged all that much this year, largely because the events took over my life and also because I’ve been writing occasionally in a private diary. It helps me process my thoughts and marks the true progress of the year.

And that’s the thing, it’s all just part of this journey.

One thing I’ve managed to achieve is to avoid negativity as much as I can. I’ve a few wee systems in place (at work, and elsewhere) and hopefully, for the most part, I’m a lot calmer and level headed. Mind you, I’m sure a lot of that thinking can also be attributed to some of the more crap events of the year.

Regardless, Christmas is rolling towards us, I’ve got ALL my presents bought and this year will have a Christmas tree as well. I’m looking forward to a few days off, some fun nights out, and the start of a new year.

Balanced

“Ying this” said Yang.

His name is Maudlin.

He can’t help it, he did not choose it, it was given to him.

He is drawn, like a vivid butterfly daubed with life, to the dark and raging volcano. Blinded and burnt as it approaches, seared wings fizzle and disappear until nothing is left. Life dies and is swallowed. Another carcass to feed the fire.

How dramatic, how fake, how very plastic. How very teenage angst. What a fool, what a coward, hiding once more.

But he loves it, the dark places, the hollows with their scratched and bloody walls, the tortured souls still roaming. Echoes of his life resonate, each noise taunting and prodding, ripping at skin with tattered claws. He pushes on, his blood oozing to the surface and adding to the stains on the floor.

The pain isn’t new, it’s the constant itch that he ignores, the softly beckoning voice that he pretends not to hear. Most of the time.

He knows how to get to this place, the path is wide and well-trodden, the signposts clear, freshly painted as ever. He chooses this path deliberately, knowing that once on it there is nothing but forward. Willingly he pretends to pause, pretends that once he has looked this way he has an alternative but he knows it not to be true. This path is chosen by glance and once seen, all other roads vanish, there is nowhere, only here.

Her name is Light.

She doesn’t know it, not yet. Occasionally she’ll turn and see the reflection, dazzling spots in her eyes. She will catch herself and wonder. Mostly she thinks she is darks and greys.

She questions everything, trusts slowly. Fear shimmers in her wake, a shadow of paranoia that is slow to loosen, that taps taps taps on her shoulder until she responds. She is learning to ignore it.

All the while she dazzles.

Like most she has scars, skin deep and raw. Some are healing, she is applying the plaster, taking the medicine, dealing with the pain, yet others remain to remind her she is perfectly flawed.

Translucent, blinding, and more powerful than any sun, she highlights every ripple, every ragged edge and subtle curve. She is learning this and more, learning that the very thing she rarely sees is what lets her see it all, that her brilliance only needs a lens, a clear view, to be the beacon she desires. The guiding light.

Together they are one. They cancel each other out. They amount to everything. Ironing irregular creases to mark their place.

She helps light the way. He knows which paths to avoid.

They are single. They are unified.

Exclusive.

Free.

Sent with Writer.

Highs and Lows

Well that was a pretty, damn epic weekend.

Friday night involved mulled cider, lipstick on boobs, and other nefarious goings on including realising it was time to go to bed because daylight was returning. It was one of those unexpectedly good evenings of making new friends, and probably involved a little more whisky than was sensible but everyone involved had a great time. Not sure I could handle doing that every weekend mind you… getting old … but as you are only as old as the woman you feel… well I’m a lot younger than most of you šŸ˜‰

Saturday involved not enough sleep, hangovers, chocolate Santas, an afternoon snooze, and an evening with a Mr. Bill Bailey who was tear-inducingly funny as well as bloody talented. I won’t spoil any of the jokes, although some of the funniest moments was him reacting to the Glasgow audience, including an (I think) off the cuff story of a Glasgwegian friend of his trying to order a pint of lager in Holland, in typical Glasgwegian brogue delivered at 1000mph. The tour was called Dandelion Mind, worth catching it on DVD when it comes out (if it comes out).

And finally a lazy Sunday which involved a bit more sleep, and a wedding reception in Perth. It was the wedding of the daughter of my parents close friends (close enough that they are ‘Aunt’ and ‘Uncle’ by name). So good to see the bride so happy, she deserves it, and she even gave us all a wee song. Shame we had to leave early but some of us had to be in work this morning.

But wait! Even though it’s now Monday, Kirsty and I have decided to extend the weekend to include tonight, which involves poetry delivered by a friend of my sisters. He’s bloody good and I’m really looking forward to hearing him deliver his own material.

Alas, amongst the highs came the sad news of Gary Speed. A young man (he was 42), who was successful, universally liked and whose suicide came as a real shock. The presumptions (I’ve not seen it confirmed anywhere and it’s almost beside the point…) is that he was suffering from depression.

Long time readers and close friends will know I too have had my share of ups and downs with the dreaded D word. I was going to write more about that, and I probably will. But not today.

Today is for focussing on the highs, finishing the weekend of awesome (as it will heretofore be known) and counting my blessings, for I have many.

On not blogging

A product release is imminent.

A trip to visit two customers in the US of A.

Ongoing complications with the new ISTC website (soon, soon!).

Planning for 2012, including a major restructure of our content.

Actual writing some documentation (a rareĀ occurrence!).

Plus all the usual things that life is wont to throw at us.

Maybe look for me on Twitter instead?

Cooking of the slow variety

Having received a slow cooker for my birthday (rock ‘n’ roll!) I’ve been enjoying some tasty dishes, culled from a couple of recipe books aimed at said method of cooking. Meat based dishes are wonderfully tender, and full of flavour, soup based dishes are thick, wholesome and not laced with salt like most canned soups (speaking of which, erk!).

Last night was my first shot at using it without a recipe. I had some vegetables left over from other recipes and so decided on soup as a ‘foolproof’ offering.

Unless you are this fool, it seems.

Where did I go wrong? Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Leek
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 ‘thumb’ of ginger
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Squash
  • Red Lentils
  • 1 pint of stock
  • Crushed Cumin
  • Pepper for seasoning
I wasn’t expecting anything amazing but it’s decidely… not quite right.
And I can’t put my finger on why not… the balance is obviously wrong, but how do I fix it?