Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rest Easy

Blimey I am tired! I have had a fairly busy day but no more than others for but for some reason I am feeling really tired in body and mind! Sleep tonight is going to be good! Anyway, all chores are now done and I am treating myself with a glass of wine and the first Underworld film.

What is it with vampires and werewolves, why is it so interesting? The romance (obviously referring to vampires there), the immortality, for the chaps Kate Beckinsale in rubber clothing? I particularly like the werewolf (Lichen) leader Michael Sheen.

Anyway, given how sleepy I am feeling this is not a topic I am going to ponder now! Sleep well bloggers, and dream not of today.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I have just added a widget to my blog that includes on each post a selection of previous posts that you, my valued reader, may enjoy. Please let me know if this impacts on the upload speed of my blog. There are a couple of blogs that I visit that take forever to upload and I don't want this for my blogs. If it slows things down I will get rid of it. Muchly obliged!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Piano

Tomorrow night I am going to play the piano!!!! I do not have one at present and although I have been kindly offered an organ it is specifically the sound of the piano that I love. (Plus in our current house we have room for neither a piano or an organ!) I had one for rent for a while and was working on the two following pieces by Michael Nyman. The film The Piano may be the only movie I have seen and preferred to the book.

The performances were amazing. I found the scenes between Holly Hunter and Harvey Keitel to be incredibly passionate and moving and I hated Sam Neill for years as a result of his performance as the frustrated and jealous husband, although I sympathised with him somewhat.

But the music was what made the film for me.

Anyway I bought the music score for the film and will be off down to our church tomorrow night to get my eager little fingers on their piano for an hour or two, hopefully as a weekly event, to remind myself of what I had learned of these pieces and begin to improve them and learn the rest.

I have also been working on a Nina Simone track which I may have a quick blast at! I am so excited!!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Happy Song For Monday

Despite the grey, rainy day outside I am feeling chipper! This is such a cheery song I thought it was a good one for a Monday!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Calling On An Old Friend

January 2011 has brought some interesting challenges for me. I am job hunting from the position of being unemployed which is always naff, and have found myself outside of my comfort zone in a few other areas. Yesterday I had a really bad day of it. One of those days where you feel like a child again and fear takes control.

It is a horrible feeling. I have tried to describe it in words and its not easy. I have memories of feeling like that as a child, most strongly when I had to stay in hospital for a few days. I felt terrified and completely vulnerable, and cried uncontrollably!

Anyway yesterday felt a bit like that, and although during the day I had lovely conversations with my family who as always brought cheer to my heart I decided it was time again to call upon my old friend and enforce some strength.

I have posted about this before and have looked out the old post to remember how I expressed it.

I am a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and am not ashamed to admit it; if you are a fan of the super hero it's nothing short of awesome! One girl in all the world with the strength and skill to fight the demons, she alone will stand against them, well she and her pals, and her always attractive male interests. (For the record not Riley.......just too darn wholesome!)

It’s not actually just her who is helping, I have always loved super heroes: Zorro (The original and The Gay Blade!), the Fonz (Ok super hero may not apply but he was cool and wise), Captain Picard Star Trek The Next Generation and equally Commander Data, Buzz Lightyear, Hong Kong Phooey, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Spiderman, the key factor is that the lead character has the kind of integrity that can only exist in fiction; they are strong, selfless, logical, disciplined and always right. The tougher they are, the more I like them!

At times in my life when things get on top of me and I feel weak I make myself the hero figure. It means I have to go on whether I like it or not. There is no questioning whether I can be strong enough, I have to be and that’s all there is to it. There are no other options.

I strive to attain the hero characters excellence. If such integrity can be conceived of it can be lived as a code of conduct, I do not believe it is possible to achieve it as reliably as the super heroes do, however it is a worthwhile model I enjoy testing myself against as I explore my own standards and deal with the tough times.

Image Credit: BBC Cult Buffy Gallery

I know its only a temporary thing; life is constantly challenging in all sorts of ways and we can't possibly cope with it well all the time. Accepting this and allowing yourself a bad day every once in a while is important however I still find huge mental strength from adopting the Buffy attitude. If I could only adopt her figure and wardrobe too!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ain't it Good To Know That You've Got a Friend

Dedicated to my wonderful family and friends for their kind thoughts, messages and good company.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday, Monday

It was an odd week last week; death featured heavily and after the sad departure from this world of several famous people as mentioned I also learned of the death of an old friend which spun me a bit. I wrote a few draft posts about it but I am not going to put them up. I do find that blogging, I suppose the same as keeping a diary, is therapeutic sometimes and just the act of writing something down and voicing your thoughts and feelings can answer your needs without then wanting to share them with the world.

Anyway, the week finished on a high note with some promising news on the job front. I was laid off from work before Christmas and have been trying to sort something out. I now have a couple of jobs that look good and another interview for later in the month.

Finally my parents made a last minute visit to see us this weekend and we had a lovely evening of chatter and music last night.

One thing about being out of work is the joy of Monday mornings at your own pace. Ok so I have a lot to do today but I got to start the day when I wanted, well actually when the dogs wanted but they are generous and do not disturb us until a fairly reasonable hour!

So I now find myself sitting here with my second cup of tea, having checked emails, free to take a moment to post on my blog. Would that all Mondays started in this manner!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Bad News

I feel a little bad for posting so much bad news on my blog this week however three significant folk have passed, two of them today, and I want to remember them here. Mick Karn, Gerry Rafferty and Pete Postlethwaite.

Image Credits: Listen JP, 181 FM, Shropshire Star

RIP Mick Karn

RIP Gerry Rafferty

Let's Go Outside

I am a little fed up with this weather as it makes for poor photography but I have to say when you get out and about it is lovely out there, it just does not lend itself well to photographs! Or at least not to my photographs and level of competency!

I really urge you though, if the grey days are keeping you in, to get out there for a walk. We are of course encouraged to take several daily walks by our dogs and I love having the excuse to get out. After we lost our first two pups, Pink and Mojo, we were without animals for a while and although I still went out walking it was by no way as frequent an event as it is now and we currently enjoy 3-4 walks daily.

Although the trees have shed their leaves there are many evergreen trees, plants and shrubs on the verges and in the hedgerows including pine, cypress, broom, holly and ivy, and the new growth on the deciduous trees has its own hue such as the purple/ brown of the birch trees.

Many of the fields have been seeded with winter crops replacing the dark brown of the bare earth with a verdant tint and the farmers are hedge cutting which will soon result in the reddish new growth of the hawthorn and before you know it the delicate, white blossom of the blackthorn.

I even saw some pussy willow buds starting to burst yesterday, they may yet regret it but it was a lovely sight to see!

And as for the cold, wrap up well and as soon as you have got a good pace going you will glow from the inside.

Some areas of the UK have had more snow over night and I know from experience how treacherous the footpaths and byways can be in ice and snow but where ever possible do not let it keep you in. Winter is a glorious season and its a long time until Spring to feel confined.

Anyway, just to remind us all how colourful it can be out there, in the absence of a good photo from me capturing the beauty of winter, here's one of glorious autumn again! Happy walking!

Monday, January 03, 2011

The Sun Will Come Out....Tomorrow?

RIP Pete Postlethwaite

Pete Postlethwaite died yesterday of cancer aged 64. He was such an amazing actor who has touched us in so many wonderful roles over the years. When I heard the news I immediately thought of him as Obadiah Hakeswell in Shapre, a loathsome creature portrayed so very brilliantly, and then remembered him in one of my favourite of his films as Danny, the leader of the Grimley Colliery Band. He had a distinguished career in theatre prior to appearing on our screens in significant roles although I am sorry to say I never saw him perform on the stage. Here are some of his films from the past 25 years.

2010 - Solomon Kane, 2010 - Clash of the Titans, 2006 - Closing the Ring, 2006 - Aeon Flux, 2006 - The Omen, 2005 - Dark Water, 2005 - The Constant Gardener, 2001 - Triggermen, 2001 - The Shipping News, 1999 - When the Sky Falls, 1998 - Among Giants, 1997 - The Lost World: Jurassic Park, 1997 - The Serpent's Kiss, 1997 - Amistad, 1996 - Brassed Off, 1996 - Crimetime, 1996 - William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, 1995 - Suite 16, 1995 - When Saturday Comes, 1995 - The Usual Suspects, 1993 - In the Name of the Father, 1992 - Waterland, 1991 - Split Second, 1991 - The Grass Arena, 1990 - Hamlet, 1986 - Coast to Coast.

I try very hard to have a positive attitude towards death. Death is a part of life and people should be remembered and celebrated when they die. So I have chosen to create this post to commemorate an amazing actor who has brought much entertainment to our lives. Here is a small snippet from Brassed Off, Danny's speech.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Day Two

I have been itching to post some New Year photos but the weather here has been a little grim in recent days. After the snow and frosts we have a spell of fog, cloud and drizzle and it does not make for an attractive landscape. I did have a lovely walk around a local wood yesterday with the pups but did not take any shots.

Anyway today I am going to take my camera out anyway and hope for the best. I got a new lens for Christmas and am really keen to see what it can do. Its a wide angle lens which I plan to use for landscapes but I have also been given some advice for other ways to use it by a photographer in the family.

We had a lovely visit with Sensory Dragon yesterday and she is currently winging her way back home. We are having a Star Trek Next Generation afternoon courtesy of Channel One (formerly Virgin One). We had a late one last night so its going to be a fairly lazy day. We watched Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Junior and Jude Law which we had not seen and really enjoyed it. It was very entertaining, had a good pace, kept you guessing and made us laugh a lot.

Well I am going to have to get these dogs walked! I am sitting here with the laptop on my knee and Buddy keeps peering round the screen until his nose obscures my view! Yesterday he managed to lean on the keyboard and turn my browser off!

Image Credit: Ace Showbiz

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Good Start

Well we have made it out of the duvet, off the couch and actually done some chores about the house! We got a call this afternoon to say that Sensory Dragon (AKA Mr Dancin's Sister), who is visiting family in the area, is making a visit to us this evening and staying over until tomorrow!

It will be so good to see her and is a great start to the New year. It is also nice to have someone coming round over the holidays while our house is all festive still!

And it gives us an excuse, not that we really needed one, to extend and consume the holiday spirit!

Image Credit: Wikimedia

The Origin of the Dew Claw (and Splint Bone)

My first dog, Pink, had double dew claws on her back legs. I used to trim the nails for her but never had the claws removed as they did not cause her any problems. In a recent conversation with my parents we discussed the origin of dew claws, making the natural assumption that they are a remnant body part that has become redundant through evolution, but we also made the comment that none of us had ever looked into it further. As I have learnt a few things today already I decided to investigate and have uncovered the following.

'Splint bones in horses and dew claws in dogs have a common origin  - they are the remnants of anatomical structures originally present in their 5-toed ancestors. Many mammals (including humans) have evolved from ancestors which had 5 digits on their feet or hands - these were called "pentadactyles".

In the original anatomical design of pentadactyles the lower limb consisted of a joint - called the carpus in the front leg, the tarsus in the hind leg. Below this joint were 5 long bones -called  the metacarpals in the front leg, the metatarsals in the hind leg, and each of these ended with a joint to a digit. A digit (a finger or toe) would originally consist of up to 3 smaller bones - called phalanges. The end (3rd)  phalanx would grow a nail or claw.

Even ancestors of the modern horse originally had 5 toes, but now horses and ponies have evolved to walk and run on one digit (the middle or 3rd toe) - the equivalent of a humans middle finger.

Below the carpus - confusingly now also called the "knee" joint in horses - and below the tarsus, there is a  large bone which is the 3rd metacarpal or metatarsal bone, also called the cannon bones. These are some of the strongest bones in the skeleton - and to the sides and slightly behind these are two shorter, thin long bones which are the rudimentary remnants of the 2nd and 4th metacarpals or metatarsals - which are known as the "splint bones".

Modern day dogs have 4 toes on both the front and the hind legs. Higher up on the inside of  the forelimb, adjacent to or below the carpal joint, it is common to find remnants of the the first digits - called "dew claws". Front dew claws are usually properly formed with joints and they are tucked in tight to the leg, and do not cause the animal many problems. However, because the nails on the dew claws do not get worn down naturally during exercise they should be trimmed regularly and occasionally they can get caught when the animal exercises, in which case the claw may break.

Higher up on the inside of  the hind leg, below  the tarsal joint, dew claws are less commonly found - but they are seen in quite a few large and giant breeds of dog. Unlike front dew claws hind dew claws are often not fully formed, and do not have proper joints so they hang loosely and are much more likely to get caught during exercise. Some breeds of dog even have double dew claws -  2 on each side.

Dew claws or splint bones do not usually cause any problems for the animal but sometimes they do . If dew claws keep getting caught they are removed surgically to stop the dog having repeated discomfort. In horses and ponies splint bones can become inflamed or even fractured and cause lameness - so treatment becomes necessary.'

Text Credit: Provet Healthcare Information
Image Credit: Animal Central

The Month of the Heart of Winter

It's January 1st!!!!! Happy New Year All! I love New Years Day, there is something very exciting about the start of the year, it has that blank slate quality and holds the promise of new opportunities.

We had a lovely evening with friends last night to see the New Year in and have started the day well so far. The dogs are walked, fed and watered and we are sitting on the couch, wrapped in the duvet, watching the Muppet's Christmas Carol!!! The ghost of Christmas past has just arrived.

Anyway, I had a great blogging year last year and wanted to get a good start in for January 2011 so I have been looking out some quotations and interesting January information care of Michael P. Garofalo at E Greenway.

"January is here, with eyes that keenly glow, a frost-mailed warrior striding a shadowy steed of snow."
-   Edgar Fawcett

"To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June."
-  Jean-Paul Sartre

"January is named after the Roman god Janus, who was always shown as having two heads.  He looked back to the last year and forward to the new one.  The Roman New Year festival was called the Calends, and people decorated their homes and gave each other gifts."

"New Year ceremonies are designed to get rid of the past and to welcome the future.  January is named after the Etruscan word janua which means door."

Image Credit Janus: Bible Logic

While putting in the links for this post I have been taken off on a trail of fascinating information about January, the Roman Calendar, its Greek origins, and gods from history! The ghost of Christmas yet to come has now arrived on the screen, we are still wrapped in the duvet and have some light refreshments! I will leave you now to join in the final sing song!


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