Friday, 29 February 2008

10 Fat Frolicking Frogs....

There appears to be some serious frog loving happening in our little water trough/pond by the front door. We counted 10 so far but I am sure there are more. I hope there are equal numbers or some poor frog is going to get left out in all the fun and games that appears to be taking place under the water.  Baby frogs for easter! yey.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Nerd-to-non-nerd dictionary: Pac Man II

Client:  So, where do I put the files?  I started putting them in the images folder, but then when I went into the resources/images folder they were appearing in there as well!

Stray:  It's the same place ... the images folder is a symbolic link for the resources/images folder.

Client:  But ... but ... ?

Stray's brain:  Never, ever, give a client FTP access for this purpose again.  Ever.  OK?

Stray: Hmm.  Did you ever play Pac Man?

Client: Yes ... loads.

Stray:  Remember how when the ghosts were chasing you you could whizz out through the right hand side and then reappear on the left ... ?

Client: Yes ... the secret tunnel!

Stray:  Yes.  Perfect.  Well, the images folder is a secret tunnel that leads to the resources/images folder ...

Client:  Oh!  Fab - no problem, I'll carry on then ...

Stray's brain:  There is a story in this ... a small unpopular child discovers a symbolic link at the back of the server, leading to a magical world with an enigmatic and tragic leader in the form of a Leopard (10.5.2).  

Friday, 22 February 2008

Connecting with nature?

This is the view from the top of the hills behind our home. 

Are we lucky or what?

Badger snapped this last Sunday as we stopped for chocolate and lamb kibble at the summit. We humans were exhausted, whilst little Roo still had energy to bound around, and Badger lamented yet again about the consequences of the terrible design decision evolution made in surrendering our front legs.

It reminded me of a recent post by Queen Vixen about finding her animal spirit guide, something I found quite interesting because I've been reading so much about all sorts of belief systems in researching the book I'm writing.  I believe the spiritual comes from within rather than outside, but it's fun and sometimes useful to imagine what kind of animal (or car, or potato snack) we might feel affinity with.  

Clearly Badger already has her allegiances marked out, and as Ms M enquired what I thought my own animal spirit guide might be I let go of conscious thought and simply said the first thing that popped into my brain ...

... which was ...

... Pac-Man.


Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Gearing up

Since moving to this tiny, beautiful and very weather-affected village Ms M, Badger, Ruby and I have become somewhat obsessed with the weather and how best to be able to enjoy our wonderful surroundings without being distracted by being cold and wet. 

The only clothing we have purchased since November is an assortment of high-performance thermals and wet weather gear. In my Smartwool socks, Jack Wolfskin base layers, 2 layers of microfleece and Paramo 'analogy' trousers and jacket, I am invincible. For the first time in my life I know how superman feels when he steps out of that phone box with his knickers on the outside.

Dressing like a superhero doesn't come cheap though. I'm ballparking my outfit at £400. Probably well over £500 once I add boots, rucksack, walking poles ... ouch ... but I'm reassured that not only will my Paramo last a life time, it is made under the most incredibly ethical conditions in Bogota, Columbia, where the factory provides an alternative to prostitution for vulnerable women with children. When I say my Paramo makes me feel warm it's a little more holistic than just body temperature :)

It's not just the humans in our family who need kitting out.  Or even the Badgers for that matter. Little Roo feels the cold.  She shivers and sniffles in the wind or the wet.  Boxer dogs look depressed enough at the best of times; the guilt factor when they're genuinely suffering is quite unbearable - so much so that we actually cancelled a camping trip last summer with Ruby's best boxer mate Jess and her family due to rain ... because we couldn't bear the thought of how miserable the dogs would look.

So - here's a run down of Ruby's kit.

In the pic at the top she is sporting her high-vis Equafleece coat, perfect for snowy afternoons.

And because her energy level is more than ours combined, she now carries her own toys and picnic (and our spare fleeces) in her Ruff Wear 18 litre Palisades pack.  The blue line is a Ruff Wear bungie lead - which we strap around our hips for hands-free-sheep-chasing-prevention. Sunday was the first time we've used the bungie lead and whilst Ms M and I did each end up on our bums on one occasion it was much nicer coming down steep hills than her normal lead. We've even got grand ideas about using it for a spot of jogging.

So far we have walked in snow storms, torrential rain and freezing mist, and my only fear is that the difference in temperature between my clothed and unclothed parts might cause my nose to break off.

Monday, 18 February 2008

More Photos...

Yesterday in the lovely sunshine all 4 of us (that includes Ruby) took a long walk up a steep hill, up the top everything was thick ice, even in the bright sunshine it did not thaw. We were lucky it was so crunchy under boot as it would have been a thick sticky bog had it not been and not much fun at all..   Ruby wore her new trendy "Ruff Sack" and helped carry essential equipment,.. I worried that she might be embarrassed as she did seem to skip quickly past another dog we saw, however I am not sure if it were embarrassment or fear that the other dog may pinch her lovely new bag.  Anyway, that is a whole new story that I am sure Ruby or Stray will tell.

Below are 2 photos taken along the way... 

Disraeli Avenue Blog Widget - how to add it to your blog

Cas is a superstar. The e-book of Disraeli Avenue is now available to download, and she's already raised a bucket of money for the fantastic charity One-in-four who help adults who have been sexually abused as children.  They're a weeeeeny organisation who run on a shoe string budget, so every penny raised makes a difference.

We've knocked out a blog widget based on the behind-closed-doors theme of Disraeli Avenue, and we hope you'll join in by reading and sharing some secrets, and maybe even putting the Disraeli Avenue Secrets widget on to your own blog.

If you decide to do that, here are the instructions:

For blogger - there are 2 styles of templates, old style and new style.  To add the widget to a non-blogger template, follow the old style instructions.

If you don't know what kind of template you have then you probably have new style!  

To add the widget to a new style blog template:

Log in to your blog.  Go to "Layout".  Choose "Page Elements".  Choose to "Add a page element" in your side bar.  Choose "HTML / Javascript" as the type of element.  Give your new element a title, and into the content area paste exactly the green code below (only the green stuff).  You can write text above and below it if you like, but the whole of the green stuff must be in there, intact.

To add the widget to an old style blog template:

Go to your template.  Insert the green code in the area which defines your sidebar. Feel free to email if you have problems!


<object classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" id="disraeliAvenueBlogWidget" width="176" codebase=",0,0,0" height="250" align="middle">
<param value="always" name="allowScriptAccess"/>
<param value="false" name="allowFullScreen"/>
<param value="" name="movie"/><param value="high" name="quality"/><param value="#000000" name="bgcolor"/> <embed pluginspage="" quality="high" allowscriptaccess="always" align="middle" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" height="250" src="" bgcolor="#000000" allowfullscreen="false" width="176" name="disraeliAvenueBlogWidget"/>

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Happy penguin day

Ms M and I are having our first Valentine's day. Not that we believe in that commercialised nonsense of course. I gave her a lovely book about quantum physics, thoughtfully uninscribed incase Master M develops a further interest in such things and decides to show it to a friend. Master M is absolutely comfortable with his mum being gay, and also quite confident that most of his school-friends aren't as emotionally mature as he is. Sensible boy.

Which brings me neatly to the penguin thing.

Apparently, lovely bobo promised by text not to mention it ... having heard me refer to it at the weekend. I appreciate the discretion, but decided to share anyway.

I call Ms M my special penguin. Not in a sickly "aw, diddum widdums" kind of way ... it's a kind of soulmate-plus if you like.

A wide range of birds and animals form same-sex monogamous couples, but penguins do it with particular aplomb. They not only form deep and long-lasting attachments, gay penguin couples will raise orphaned babies. They also try to hatch rocks ... (bless) ... which led researchers to give them real eggs to sit on and then nurture - which they do with great success. Penguin families come in all shapes and sizes, all blends of sex and gender, without any apparent negative impact on their offspring.

It's a funny thing, this not-really-step-parenting thing. Master M doesn't need another mum, he's got Ms M and his step-mum as well as his dad. I pictured myself as a kind of live-in-youth-group-leader type ... but it definitely feels a wee bit more parental than that. So, clearly, as well as being Ms M's special penguin, I'm Master M's other carer-penguin.

Funnily enough, I think I remember seeing that tick-box on the permission slip for his last school trip ...

Friday, 8 February 2008

Six random things about me meme

I have been tagged by my old housemate Dr But Why? with a "six random things about me that aren't very important" meme. Meme rules and stuff are below.

I'm quite a random kind of dog so it wasn't very hard to think of six things. So ... in no particular order, here we go:

1. I am made of velvet and the top of my head smells just like Stray's blanket did when she was little.

2. I am higher up the pecking order than Wallaby-cat, she just doesn't know it. She picks on me loads, but I know I'm more important than her because I get the plate scraps at the end of every meal. Stray and Ms M share almost all their food with me, only saving for themselves the very special treats that they keep in the bin. Sometimes I help myself to the extra special food in Stray and Ms M's bin, and they get really cross!

3. When we all go out together for a big long walk, Stray and Ms M call it "going dogging". And then laugh loads.

4. I have celebrity friends. Helen Mirren used to pat me in the park when I lived in London.

5. I have had over 50 hours of psychotherapy.

6. I can't actually drive, I just like to pretend.

So ...  the rules are:

Rules on blog and links as appropriate. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself. Tag six random people and let them know they've been tagged.

And now for the tagging ... I tag: AnticantCasTrousers, Miss TickleBadger and ... Wallaby-cat!

Feeling a little sheepish ...

I have not left the village for almost 3 weeks.

This is a wonderful thing, not a bad thing. It's not that I've been housebound - I've wandered high and low with Ruby and sometimes Ms M or Badger for company. It's not that I've been isolated - I've had face to face conversations with neighbours and the postman, and a visit from an Australian colleague whose book I am working on. I just haven't left the village.

I love staying. I don't like going.

So, it's all good.

Except ...

On Sunday I confessed to Ms M that I have a favourite sheep. Of the few dozen in the field behind the house, there is one I feel warm towards in particular. It's a black sheep (of course) ... it has floppy ears that always point forwards and it's frequently hanging out on its own, not following its cliquey sheep peers. It likes to drink from the water bucket just next to the fence behind the house. It walks slower, and more relaxed than the other sheep ... and so I found myself spontaneously describing it to Ms M as ' a bit of a Jazz sheep' ... quickly followed by 'not, like, as in Jazz mag ... of course ... '.

'Of course' said Ms M.


' ... it just kind of looks like if it had fingers it would click them ... '.

'You are projecting.' said Ms M.

Bloody psychotherapists.

In not-entirely-unrelated news, tomorrow our new chest freezer arrives. Badger has a new client. A farm shop selling local meat in large quantities.

She is going to be paid in lamb. Yum.

Saturday, 2 February 2008