Well I never! It’s not every day when I go shopping, my purchases on the check out belt generate laundry tips  from the check-out operator.  He had tried it himself, he said, and it worked.  A quick bit of advice on the amount to use as he handed me my change, and “only with clear vinegar mind, definitely not malt vinegar, ( perish the thought) and no detergent”;   “If you do it like I said, your cotton towels will come out of the wash nice and soft”.  It’s amazing what you learn at the checkouts, I said, as I was leaving.  Giving me a thumbs up sign, he assured me again it really worked.





Dear  all…

Dear everyone…


Emails have always seemed to me to be a very informal method of sending mail.  The minuscule ‘Hi’ and the nondescript ‘Hello’ definitely do not suit all situations.  Very occasionally, ‘Good morning/Good afternoon….Mr/Mrs’  turns up; it’s easy enough to similarly respond, if I know of the writer, though not if it is mail from the business.  Business emails are business communications like any that are delivered by postal mail services. They just do not look like it, or, maybe, it’s just they do not look like the business mail I have been used to.

If it’s a formal communication conventions state I should respectfully open with, ‘Dear Sir’, or, ‘Dear Madam’  or, a combined version of both;  I have never considered any particular business entity  dear to me, nor  anyone in it with whom I may have developed a working business relationship.  (Oh dear).  Looking at terms of endearment, I am no further forward in creating alternative salutations for the purpose.


Pavement Poetry

I might feel less inhibited if I felt free to open with something nicely terse at times. Huffing and puffing, I might just consider dropping terms of endearment and  begin, “Sir”, or, “Madam”.   It’s the worst I can allow myself to do.   Undoubtedly, this is exactly the reason for beginning a written correspondence in a traditionally, accepted, mannerly, style,  at all times.  The moment your thoughts turn to ‘dear….’ the system structure draws you into its conventional framework.  And dropping ‘dear’ to a curt ‘Sir or Madam’ only frames a much more formal, but  still a conventionally acceptable mailing.   So be it.

The written word speaks volumes.



Twelfth night is meant to be the time for clearing away greetings cards and festive decorations. In my book, some superstitions are best ignored.  As I don’t receive some mail till early January, mostly from abroad, my cards stay up longer and the last to arrive are the last to disappear.  Thus, I span the Western and the Eastern festive dates.

P1100010 copy

My decorations are the cards people send me.  Switch on candle glow (LED’s) provide an atmospheric friendly warmth.  The little candles (tea lights) have been  tucked away.  A couple of stocky gold coloured ones have not.  They glitter and look quite pretty when daylight turns into twilight, even if they are not lit.

P1100012 copy

Tomorrow we have a recycling collection. The bulk of the cards – not the late arrivals – have been sorted between those that will be a keepsake, (just a few) or those needing  some attention. The others, will provide material for recycling.  Our collectors do not want anything with metallic finishes, which includes glitter. Lots of cards have those pretty finishes. The best I can do is to separate re-usable bits of a card from those bits that are not. That was late morning……..


….Even later morning, I seem to have spent hours sorting out a small area of desk. The quarter truth is, some of the space on the desk has been created by shoving some stuff to the right of it, (probably, should be ‘right off it’). I am trying to be tough on myself…about bits of paper (cringe).  I know it will be worse before it gets better.

Early afternoon……hubs interrupts my bits of paper throw away flow.  “Are you having any lunch?”

P1030338 copy


A new year and I feel as if I have lost the art of succinct writing, or, neatly saying what I mean.  I envy just a teensy weensy bit, the writers who can encapsulate a major thought, or a vital description into a few apt words.  To paraphrase an historical giant of the written word, I feel, if I become tired of writing I will be tired of observing and participating in life. That would be just too immense an emasculation of  my senses to contemplate.

Perhaps it is the gentle warmth of spontaneous creativity I want.  You could say that writing anything, be it a business letter, or business email is being creative. They are hardly communications for which you would usually create poetic prose: but, why shouldn’t they be?  An answer to the question is, it rests on the purpose for which they are written and how the communications flow.  The writing voice depends whether there is a demand upon you to write as opposed to  responding to a natural urge to write.



A couple of  ‘newsy’ things this week caught my attention:

We now know why bubbly tastes better in a glass.  Research at both The University of Texas and University College London UK, explains why plastic and polystyrene cups just will not do for your Prosecco, Asti-spumante, or, Champagne. I can feel the regal Marques des Champagne curling their toes and gritting their pearly teeth at the thought of …plastic….polystyrene!!  According to a study, the bubbles behave differently in plastic and polystyrene cups than they would in glass,  The bubbles stick quite strongly to the plastic and polystyrene for longer and as a result grow bigger before they lift off, which, in turn, alters the taste of the drinks. They [the bubbles]   are on their best behaviour drunk from a glass.  Presumably, the small free flowing bubbles maintain the desired taste of the ‘bubbly’

While we are discussing drinking alcohol;  an offence with interesting variations.  An electrical engineer was caught over the drinks-driving limit, on his way to a police station to service their…….breath test machine!  The driver had been seen by police driving erratically on a very bendy stretch of road.  In court he was found guilty, fined and banned from driving for a year. At the trial, the police said the case presented them with a dilemma, because of the unusual circumstances.   It was felt there could be a ‘conflict of interest’,  given that the man serviced most of the intoximeters  in the country.  The prosecutor shared their view.  A urine sample was therefore taken for testing.

In defending his client, the defence lawyer claimed the police had not followed correct procedures in taking the urine sample.

The Sheriff when pronouncing sentence said, that the matter had been handled correctly and by the book.




© M- Open Gardens

Have I ever come across such incompetence before…..No:  Have I ever seen such a complicated cock-up before…..Almost, but this one pips others to the post.

After five months of chivvying a utility company along and a having a variety of unexpected experiences, with no sign of an agreeable resolution, I have got to end of my tether.

From Monday of last week I had my nose to grindstone. I gathered together five months’ worth of information to make a formal complaint to the Office Of The Ombudsman (Energy).  Once that was more-or-less sorted, the information had to be put into a non-emotive and concise presentation; ‘emotions not allowed‘ the instruction guidance suggests.  If you’ve done anything like this, you will know it can take days to do.  Sifting through the collection of potential attachments, (evidence) is a must.  Also, attachments, “Must be appropriate to the complaint“.

Midweek, I gave myself permission to have time off.  I had few hours’ break, to go out and see what the rest of my world was doing. It was the only way I was going to bring myself back, bleary eyed, to face the next step…….editing.

Editing is a euphemism for making  savings, word [efficiency] savings; being smarter with words, making cuts.  I won’t bore you with the rest of it.   By lunchtime on Friday I had finished work on the presentation of my complaint and had written a succinct-ish email to attach everything to.

It felt so very good to click on the ‘send’ button.  Now we wait.

© M




Nothing in particular to report, though there is plenty to occupy my thoughts. There is is just too much.  I don’t imagine for one minute that I am alone in feeling I am on thinking and analysis overload.


© M-Digital Doodles

Living in such tumultuous and shambolic times it would be easy to behave like an ostrich and bury my head in the sand.  In the Russian equivalent analogy,  the ostrich  is  ‘hiding its head under its wing’.  The Russian Ostrich would have a cosier and warmer hideout, with the ability for an occasional surreptitious glance out to see if worldly things were a little quieter: peaceful would be really good.


© Photo By M-Wishing-In-The-Wind


A feature on yet another revival of homely hand knitting reminded me……. At primary school, the girls’ craft classes were the bain of my life. Could I knit as a six year old? Much as I tried, sitting at an old wooden desk, with oversized knitting needles and a well re-used ball of wool, made the whole experience a clumsy affair with little to show for it. There were some loops on the needle and maybe I managed to put some wool through a loop or two, I don’t really remember.


I do know, that there were some stitches on the needle that did not seem to be very productive.  I was glad when the tortuous efforts came to an end and another lesson began.

Then there was the class where the better little hand-stitchers made bunnies with lovely fluffy cloth already cut to shape, probably by the teacher, a grandmother figure, who taught that girls’ class. Once stitched to the required point, busy little hands had lots of fun stuffing the bodies, arms, legs, hands and ears of their creations, (through a small opening left in the seam) with what I believe was Kapok. Polyester fibres were not in use all those years ago to stuff things. The opening was then closed up by each young  ‘creator’ with even and neat little running stitches.


We, the ones relegated to the ‘untalented’ corner, (the majority of the class) had a bit of rag each plus a needle and thread to practice with. I cannot say what others may have thought, but it seemed to me, the three or four bunny-makers looked more than a teensy bit smug.  Just a bit of me would have liked to have been with them bathed in their success.


A couple of years later, I discovered the Grandmother figure really was granny to two of the girls in her ‘better’ group.  Also, another teacher in the school, who was French, was her daughter-in-law.  By then, I was old enough to understand that a big war ended not so many years before, so, it was likely that the girls had no dad.  Mum and granny were supporting each other and the two girls on prescribed lower women’s salaries, much lower than their working male teaching counterparts.

From the amount of time we spent in church and on religious education, I wonder if there wasn’t some hope of recruiting future nuns and priests.


This primary school was certainly schooling the girls, for at best, domesticity, sweat shops, or, subservient jobs, and the boys, likewise, to be unskilled. We weren’t seen as having much potential.

Poppy Memorial Scott Monument

Scott Monument Princes St Edinburgh+ Poppy Memorial

When we all divided up to move on to our next secondary stage school experience, it was really surprising how many children started to thrive in a different educational environment, even though the development of domestic/service/cooking skills, was still a theme for girls.  Many of us as schoolchildren, were undervalued. Notwithstanding, many of my school friends, both genders, broke the expected mould.

YaY !!



Pandora’s Box

I meant to unplug my charged up  e-tablet and ended up instead, opening up Pandora’s Box.  Don’t ask me why, I can’t tell you.  I opened a file drawer.  It’s one I have used for nondescript and personal  ‘stuff ‘.  Mind you, I have been known to create a folder or two there, just because it wasn’t over-stuffed like the actual filing cabinet we both use.

can-of-worms-vector-id180621048For a couple of hours I was absorbed in reviving memories, (a lot of them not good ones) and slimming down the contents of folders. When I had finished with the first folder, my hand crept to the next one.   A can of worms had lain there too. This one was approximately a sixteen years old triple sandwich, with a mildew mild top filling,  fizzing chili in the middle, mercifully, followed by a layer of cooling cucumber.

It is hard curating sorting out your own ‘stuff’, your own interconnected paper trail of life.  I found I was not able to be totally objective.  Even after many years, emotions can and do ripple. I wonder if I had planned to do this job, I might have felt any different.

A shredded bucket of my life later, my pack of plastic pockets has swelled with a great many Woolworth’s ones that I freed up. (That’s a store long gone).  They seem to be a better quality plastic pocket than those they share the packet with.



From inside the outside looked bright, cheery and tempting.  So, we, that’s hubs and me, invited ourselves out for a coffee this afternoon.  There was a noticeable icy breeze, truly icy. It wasn’t too bad once we’d got used to the feel of it. I was glad of the thick jeans I was wearing, (these days, jeans seem to be made with much thinner denim cloth).  Together with my hip length padded jacket and a big scarf wrapped round my collar it all worked a treat. Hubs was well wrapped up too.

Crossing a bridge, I saw a tight ‘ruck’ of Snowdrops, the first I had seen this year. They bank onto a river.  In another week or so, the whole bank should be carpeted with them.


We arrived at our destination and found our favourite seating area was free and only one person, the manageress,  was at a table. It was an oasis of calm.  A lot of people favour the same seating area, and  it can be teeming with bodies from whom emanates a very high volume cacophony of sound.  A group of teachers is one of the noisiest.  Next are parents who allow their little offspring with their metal toys -small cars  mostly-to bang them on  the glass table tops. The kids love it. This is an efficient way to clear the nook of other customers!

P1000411 Young Dougal 2

On the way home  we wandered up to a farm and bought some fresh eggs, chatted to the shepherdess, who also runs the egg enterprise and does lots of other things in the modern diversified life of farming.  p1010089

A plop of icy sleet startled me, followed by a few more plops.  Then I noticed an unexpected clump of bright yellow in the shelter of closely planted leafless bushes.  Crocuses were about to bloom.  Is spring around the corner?