First up: Happy Blogiversary to me! It’s been a year since I moved over to the Couch Trip and I’ve enjoyed blogging here and met some great people. I’m definitely reading more than last year and I think I’m also generally in a better head-space. There are still crises from time to time and I’m frustrated at still not having my own place to stay, but things are pretty good nonetheless.
Today for example was a gorgeous autumn day. Bright and sunny to start with that slightly lazy sunshine sifting through red and orange leaves. When the sun dips behind the mountain sometime after 3pm, it suddenly gets a bit chilly and by the time I took the dogs for their daily walk in the late afternoon it was getting nippy.
Lately on the blogging front, as some of you know, I’ve been struggling with a spam problem which feels a bit like tilting at windmills. I’m aware that not much will happen by jousting with the spam controllers (Akismet), Don Quixote-style, but I feel honour bound to do so anyway. Today, for example, even though Akismet sends all my comments to WordPress blogs straight to the spam queue, I tried to leave comments at the following blogs: Of Books and Bikes (Dorothy), Everything in Between (Courtney), 51 Stories (Seachanges), Page 247 (Gavin), Box of Books (Ella), Wheels on the Bus (Emily R). All to no avail. What is interesting (to me) is that I can leave comments when I post from another computer so I’ve worked out that it must be my laptop’s IP address which is offensive to the spam guards. During a quick visit to the gym for example, I managed to comment at Litlove and DoctorDi’s blogs. Not a long-term solution obviosuly and it’s so frustrating to read excellent writing (such as Ella’s hilarious take on learning to drive) and not being able to join in the praises.
Incidentally, in case you want to know where your spam queue is, it’s on your Dashboard. There will be a helpful message such as “There are 5 comments in your spam queue right now” and if you click on that you can then move your cursor over the respective comment to be approved or deleted. I know it’s a schlepp but it would make me happy to occasionally have my comments approved 😉
So much for Spam. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and I’m in the happy position of having just the right present to give. My mom is an avid gardener and has given us all strict instructions to give her special compost for Mother’s Day. That took me all of five minutes, and I also managed to buy her a book of tributes to South African mothers called uMama. The 40 contributors are all well-known South Africans and include names like Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Trevor Manuel, Gillian Slovo and Pieter-Dirk Uys. I’m tempted to read it first but I’ll let my mom have the first go.
Still on the subject of books, I’m currently reading: Nothing to be Frightened Of (Julian Barnes), Therapy (David Lodge), Committed to Me (Charlene Smith) and I’m about to start The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry. The David Lodge looks light and breezy and it should make for easy reading. Before starting Nothing to be Frightened Of (N2BFO for short), I quickly read Flaubert’s Parrot which I generally loved. Barnes has a great sense of humour and he manages to make Flaubert so human and accessible that I am rather intrigued to read Madame Bovary. I remember reading two reviews of N2BFO (at Litlove and Dorothy’s blogs) so it will be interesting to see how my reading experience compares with theirs. I’m a third of the way through and already I’m having mixed reactions. At some points I jot down “Brilliant! JB at the top of his game” and then three pages later I wish he would just get on with it and stop philosophising about religion. I love the exchanges with his older brother for example and the glimpses into his childhood. I’m less enamoured with the more obscure references which are used as counterpoint for his own theories. But I find my prevailing mood tends to colour my reading and so the irritation could be linked to anxieties around work and home life.
Work-wise I started at a new sick bay last week and what a change from the old one. If the infantry was rough and ready, the airforce is more smart and sophisticated. In 12 months at the infantry I didn’t manage to get an access card for the base whereas here I got one in two days. I also have a kitchen and a waiting-room here complete with magazines, which lets me imagine that I’m running a private practice. I miss some of the staff at the old sick bay, though, especially the slightly crotchety colonel who was kind to me. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two sick bays can be seen at roll-call. Old: we stand for roll-call at 7.30am. Everything is formal with clicks of the heels and shouts of “Staff”. New: we meet 30 minutes earlier but we sit in the tea-room and names are silently ticked off. I’m still having an existential crisis about being in the military but I keep reminding myself that it’s invaluable experience and it’s only for a year.
Lastly, in honour of a new year of blogging, I changed my blog-header to show the view from the front porch at Betty’s Bay. To any mothers, Happy Mother’s Day for tomorrow!