Monday, March 31, 2008

The drive belt on the washing machine broke on Saturday lunchtime, just after the shops shut for the weekend. This left me with a load of washing to rinse by hand, which was rather a pain.

Yesterday was nice.

The clocks went back on Saturday night, but I just slept later and missed an hour of day rather than an hour of sleep.

After a solid month of writing only non-fiction, I decided to treat myself. I absolutely didn't have time, but I wrote some fluff about a secret agent doing James Bond-type stuff, only he's a hamster. Deathless art it ain't, but it was fun to write. And I felt much better afterwards: something like having your first shower for three days. I need fiction to stay sane.

Or what approximately passes for sane.

But this morning the hour change really hit me. Lucky me, I could go back to bed. And now I'm catching up on little jobs, plus one not-so-little one. I really must write the promised review of "Interspex".

Saturday, March 29, 2008


Well if you've seen the other blog, you'll have gathered that I've got video-editing sussed because the videos are up. The current problem is that I don't have an audio editing programme on the PC, just on the laptop. A download yet another download - should fix it.

I still feel blue and for some reason I'm tired all the time, even after a siesta.

But I made the effort to go and see the exhibition at the end of my son's robotics course. That was fun.

Friday, March 28, 2008


I've had a frustrating couple of days.

I got an email that Leeds university are seriously considering closing down their botanic gardens. Now this sounds dumb - I don't see how you can teach botany without plants, but then it's no dumber than trying to do astronomy without telescopes. That's their business. What upsets me is that those gardens were a large percentage of my father's life's work. The person who emailed me about it said he was "only pleased that Trevor did not live to see it happen."

Not the best choice of words; I'd much rather my father was still alive. But I know what he meant.

It's some consolation that someone's writing a history of the gardens, and wants details about my father.

Then we had a family funeral.

The two things together really brought back memories of the time just after my father died. Not good, obviously.

My friend F suggested that it would cheer me up to go into town and take photos of the living statues. It sounded worth a try, so I went.

The statues were great, and broke the circle of depressing thoughts. The still photos are on the other blog.

I got through the funeral OK.

And this morning I tried to edit the video. At that point I found out that the PC only had MovieMaker version 1 and I needed version 2. But I couldn't install it until I got Service Pack 2. And I couldn't do that until...

So I decided to do this video on the laptop, and sort out the PC later.

Using a new programme is frustrating at the best of times, but eventually I got it done and saved itto disk.

The save hung at 21%.

I went into town to get more photos, and was surprised to see a completely different set of statues.

I got home, tweaked the edits, andsaved the project again.

The save hung at 21%.

I tried a different format.

The save hung at 21%.

By this time the steam was rising from my ears. Luckily Theresa was around, and she eventually worked out that it was reading the video clips from the card reader, not the disk. As soon as the buffer ran out, of course it went at the speed of a moribund snail.

It took a while to persuade the programme to look in the right place, but eventually I got it saving to the web. It saved the whole thing (which took about 15 minutes) and then announced it didn't have the details for the web server. So now I'm saving it yet again as a local file.

Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Sweet Man

My husband gets up at the crack of dawn and goes jogging. When he comes back he makes himself coffee, so when I get up, the coffee's there ready and waiting. This is great, because I'm not a morning person.

This morning he had his annual health check, which meant that he had to go and have a blood test before he ate or drank anything. So he couldn't have any coffee.

He made coffee anyway, just for me.

See why I married him?

Monday, March 24, 2008

More Progress

Yay! I got Photoshop and basic anti-spyware installed.
I finally collected a parcel from the post office this morning that's been there since the morning I went into the Caldera. )I tried to collect it on Saturday, but they were shut. Grrr.)

I collected a whole lamb from the butchers (special offer - and they cut it up, thank goodness) and shared it out between us and some friends. The freezer is now very full.

I updated the blog about La Palma and filled in my Facebook account. They do say Web 2.0 is the route to success - we´ll see.

[Takes out megaphone] "Hey Everybody come and look at this great blog about La Palma!"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Winning Slowly

Well the printer/scanner now works properly. And we've got Mozilla Firefox going (must try to recover the old bookmarks) and Open Office. But so far I can't find out how to have a different header for the first page of a document, which is rather important for fiction submissions.

Tomorrow I hope to re-install Photoshop.

Happy Easter

Easter isn´t a big thing for our family. Normally I order Easter eggs over the internet, but I should have been doing that while I was rushing to get ready for the Caldera trip. Luckily I managed to find a chocolate bunny for my son. And as usual, we decorated boiled eggs with coloured pencils.

Then Helen, Theresa and Norma all came to lunch. Norma and Helen worked on Ruido, Theresa did some online shopping, and I tried to get the printer and scanner working with the new version of windows.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

My computer troubles continue, so I've done very little writing or photo editing (although the house is quite a bit cleaner, at least.) It's been getting me down, but this morning I got out to photograph the Good Friday procession from the church of San Francisco in Santa Cruz de la Palma. Doing something creative lifted my mood dramatically. (More photos at A Small Rock in the Atlantic)

Even better, I bumped into my friend, Norma, afterwards, and she had time for a coffee. And then I went to see another friend, Farida. Lately, every time I'm free, she isn't and vice versa, so it was great to get together for a while.

And Helen and Theresa get back to the island tonight. I've missed them.

Things are looking up.

Monday, March 17, 2008


With all the computer troubles, I forgot to mention that "What's a Few Tentacles Among Friends?" has been accepted for the anthology Cross Genre Cthulu, which will be published by Permuted Press "probably in late 2008". Bless them, they've already paid me.

Computer woes

Soon after the last post, I started scanning the computer for spyware prior to online shopping. The anti-root kit scan came up with loads of suspicious files, which I deleted. And now the dang thing won't boot. It's not just missing one file. I really messed it up.

So yesterday afternoon I scanned the laptop, and eventually did my shopping. And my husband removed the data disk from the main computer and plugged it into the USB port of the laptop, so I could finish updating the other blog. But it was hard going, so I concentreted on housework.

Now we have a very small systenm disk with windows and nothing else, with the old system disk as a data disk.

I'm cross with myself, but mostly I'm crosser with the people who write spyware. If they weren't such selfish, immoral gits, the whole thing would never have happened.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Caldera

I just got back from taking 14 kids into the Caldera. Well, their teacher was in charge, but they needed a second adult along. Now most such school trips have to stay in the campsite, which means carrying tents in, but we were seriously lucky. The teacher, Miguel Angel, is friends with the man in charge of looking after the irrigation canals inside the Caldera, so we could stay in a hostel which isn't available to the public for rent. It was pretty basic, but adequate, except that it has 12 beds and there were 16 of us. So four of the girls shared beds, and two of the boys slept on the floor, including my son the first night. (He hardly slept, which left him rather maungy.) But there was a toilet and shower and kitchen with three gas rings. And a water tank which makes a great swimming pool!

I'm a writer. I have a serious case of writer's bottom, writer's thighs and writer's tum. In fact the only parts of me that are fit are my fingers (all that pounding a keyboard). So it's been a long time since I've walked more than a couple of miles. On this trip we spent about half our time walking, and it's emphatically not flat! I'd gasp my way up a 30ยบ slope at what the teacher considered an insanely slow crawl, and flop down for a rest for a while before I even raised my head to look at the view.

And then the scenery would knock the breath out of me all over again.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The video of the bypass inauguration

Just so you can see how mad I am. Yes, that's me pratting about with the speech and the scissors.

And you can see a "before" photo of the bypass here.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Franceses Bypass

My friends in Franceses have been working hard. When they first moved in, the path down beside their house was in such a bad state that Theresa fell and bashed her knee pretty hard. So they started to build steps.

Then the neighbours told them in no uncertain terms that they needed planning permission. So off we went to the Town Hall.

It turned out that the path was a public right of way. Therefore they did indeed need official permission. Worse, they needed to lodge 600€ with the Town Hall, to cover repairs if they made a right mess of it. They had six months to do the work, which sounded fine to begin with, but they kept getting more ambitious about it, until they nicknamed the path "The Bypass." They've worked like stink for the last month to finish it.

And today was the official opening.

We all felt ready for a bit of silliness, so we stretched a red ribbon across the top. I made a speech declaring the bypass officially open, and cut the ribbon. (I always wanted to do that.) And then my son drove his remote control car down the bypass and back up again.

And then we all trooped inside and had lunch, followed by cake.

That was a really fun day. Video to follow as soon as I've edited it.

Friday, March 07, 2008


My son's been looking forward to the three-day class trip into the Caldera next week. Since he's an only-child, it's all the more important for him to spend time with other kids. And to be honest, I was planning the things I could do with the free time.

And then his teacher called me late this morning. The trip was in danger of being cancelled, because they needed a second adult to go with them. Would I consider ...?

So instead of three days catching up on my writing courses and sleeping in, I'll be shepherding kids around. On the other hand, I haven't been into the Caldera for at least twelve years, and it's lovely. And this way I get free transport, lodging and guidance.

Actually, what really swung it was that a) it will be great for my son and b) this teacher has been great for my son and I feel I owe him a favour or three.

But I'm still wondering just what I've let myself in for.

Poor Helen

Poor Helen was backing a wheelbarrow, tripped, and fell down to the next terrace - about 5ft. In the way of these things, at first she thought she'd cracked her ribs, and then she rather thought she hadn't, so she carried on working. Then her ribcage told her this was a bad idea so she went to lie down.

And getting up at lunchtime was seriously unpleasent, so they went to the Health Centre to see a doctor. He poked and prodded, and wasn't sure either. so he gave her an injection of pain-killer in the bum, and sent her off to the main hospital for an X-ray.

I met Helen and Theresa there, and explained things to the A&E receptionist. And we waited for a while, as one does. Then I went to collect my son from chess club, and got back to find that Helen had just been called in. And no, they wouldn't let me go in to translate. So we waited some more, wondering how Helen was coping without an interpreter.

Eventually they called me in to translate the final verdict. No broken bones, thank goodness, just the granddaddy of all bruising. So more painkiller, anti-inflamatory and muscle relaxant. And take it easy for a week.

Whew! But she's going to find it frustrating.

Poor Helen.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Escape Velocity again

Yay! Issue two of Escape Velocity has arrived. It doesn't seem to matter how often I sell something, it's still exciting to see my name in print. In this case twice: one story and one article.

They've dropped the price to just $7.99, for thirteen stories, three articles, cartoons, poetry and a photo feature on Explorer One (America's first successful space launch).

You can buy it in print or as an e-book at :

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Too busy

Well I've bitten off more than I can chew, just for a change. I'm doing one online course on character emotions, and another on copywriting. It's not that I want to write leaflets to sell double-glazing (nobody wants that in English here anyway). I want to be able to sell my own stuff from my website, and I want to write query letters so good that editors just have to say "Yes". These courses are on top of the blogs, the housework and being a mother.

Homework is taking forever again.

The novel is on hold. The blogs will be updated rarely.

I'll survive.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The flea market

Well I actually got off my hamster wheel for a bit today. I went to the S/C flea market this morning (see and I had a three hour siesta this afternoon.

Guess what, I feel better.