Spam I am, Happy Blogiversary and Happy Mother’s Day

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!

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15 Responses to Spam I am, Happy Blogiversary and Happy Mother’s Day

  1. Bee says:

    Only a year? For some reason, a year seems like longer in the blogging world . . . and yet, conversely, with all of the northern hemisphere obsessed with blooming flowers it does seem like it was winter just a bit ago. Congrats — and here’s to more good reading and good work.

  2. Happy anniversary!

  3. Happy blog anniversary! I can’t believe you’ve been blogging for a year only. Seems as if you’ve been around much longer. Congratulations on a great blog – I hope the spam issues get sorted out shortly. Looking forward to hearing more about the new job.

  4. adevotedreader says:

    Congratulations on sticking with the blog for a year!

    I can sympathize about it being cool when the sun goes down, I’m over winter already and it hasn’t even started yet.

    I’ll be interested to hear more about Nothing to be frightened of. I’m reading a The Pedant in the Kitchen by Barnes at the moment and enjoying his sense of humour, so have been thinking I’ll try NTBFO next.

  5. Effendi says:

    The Pedant in the Kitchen by JB is brilliant. I can highly recommend it, Pete.

  6. litlove says:

    Happy Blogiversary! The first anniversary is special one. I do feel for you with the spam issue – that must be SO irritating. But well done on having the perfect Mothers’ Day present. We do Mothers’ Day in mid-March whereas the rest of the world has picked this weekend! And I’m very interested to hear what you have to say about the Barnes book.

  7. Pete says:

    Bee – Thamks. It does seem longer, doesn’t it? (Before that I was blogging in a more communal format for two years.)

    Lilian – Thanks!

    Charlotte – Me too regarding the spam. Happy to oblige re the job. It’s quite therapeutic to share case studies so I might do that again soon.

    Sarah – Duly added to the TBR list. But in fairness he will have to wait his turn! As for winter, so far it’s pretty mild here so am quite enoying it. We tend to get weeks of rain though so will have to enjoy the sun while we have it.

    Effendi – Thanks, will check it out.

    Litlove – Yes, why is it that the English do everything differently 😉 I thought of you when sneaking a read of uMama. I found it very moving and was reminded how central mothers are to everything and how easy it is at times to overlook them.

  8. Courtney says:

    Oh good Lord, how frustrating!I’ll definitely go approve your comments today. And happy anniversary!

  9. Emily says:

    off to check my spam queue

  10. Dorothy W. says:

    Happy anniversary! I just rescued your comment. Actually, it’s a good idea for me to get in the habit of checking that spam queue, as I’ve found other legitimate comments besides yours have been sent there. I’m curious to hear more of your thoughts on N2BFO. I loved it, but I can see that if someone isn’t in the right frame of mind it might not work.

  11. sandy says:

    I loved Madame Bovary. One of my all time favorite classics. I am curious about N2BFO and hope to get over to your links.

    Beautiful shot on your header. Looks so peaceful and inviting.

  12. natalian says:

    Happy Blogiversary! Congrats on a well written and thought provoking blog!

  13. Pete says:

    Courtney – Thanks. And “Uggh” re the spam. Irrelevant detail to add – Akismet have a blog where you can let them know that you are spam, but of course my comments don’t appear!

    Emily – Thanks.

    Dorothy – Feeling a tad anxious now re my thoughts on N2BFO. Reviewing after Dorothy and Litlove – tough acts to follow!

    Sandy – Ah, a therapist who’s read the classics. Someone after my own heart. I can’t help imagining some of the classics if they’d had CBT in those days though. So many of the plots revolve around what we would call faulty thinking!

    Natalian – Why thank you. Always a pleasure to have a visit from you.

  14. doctordi says:

    Happy blog-iversary, Pete! And I love the new header pic, it’s just beautiful. Also your new infirmary sounds very flash – magazines, no less! All up, without the spam curse, things sound like they’re going well – and I am sooo with you on the joys of autumn.

  15. boxofbooks says:

    Happy blogbirthday, Pete! I went through my spam queue and found your three nice comments and dusted them off and posted them properly. I have no idea how they ended up in the spam file – the rest of the stuff in there is nonsense typing or “I lost thirty pounds in two days click here to find out about MIRACLE SHRINKING!!!” Anway, thank you. You always leave the kindest and most interesting remarks.

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