Sunday, December 28, 2008

Diseased Trees and Acne on Amazon

I looked at Amazon on line to see how my books are progressing and realised that there is potential in adding tags to the books, so I added in 'cot death' and 'miscarriage' to my memoir, The Fruit of the Tree, and such things as ‘genealogy’, ‘adoption’ and ‘family tree’ to Tainted Tree. I should have done this earlier, because I know that people sometimes go to both those books looking for ideas about trees – in one case, fruit growing and the other, diseases in trees. These things pop up in the on site adverts, too. I had a quick look at Irene’s The Moon’s Complexion, too, and saw that in the Amazon adverts below, there are remedies for acne.

We had the first of the neighbour Christmas drinks gatherings and I was chuffed to be told by two of them that they had enjoyed reading Tainted Tree. My neighbour’s mother had bought an additional copy to give as a Christmas present to a friend too. Also on the books front, some time in the New Year, I am to take part in a workshop on Writing your Life Story. I will bring in my experience of writing ‘Fruit’ to that. And I’ve now been invited to participate in a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the twinning of Guildford and Freiburg in Germany, later in the year. I am still thinking out the logistics of that. I’m not a great lover of travel, particularly where I don’t know the language. It must be as a result of Irene’s invitation there last year – which is how they got to hear about Goldenford.

We spent Christmas Day with my brother in law, who catered marvellously, and keeps his kitchen immaculate. I am envious of his orderliness, which far outshines anything I do in my kitchen. This is obviously to do with nature, not nurture.

We have another drinks get together on New Year’s Eve, followed by dinner at M’s sister with the rest of the siblings and spouses (or is it spice?) At any rate, it’s bound to be a good evening. And the Son&H with his family are due here on New Year’s Day. I hope he can spare the time to solve some of my computer problems. I have completely mucked up a CD trying to back up my files with Nero. Just as well my cooking's better than my computer trouble shooting. I’ve made a nut terrine, which always goes down well, in case I decide to cook a roast. This will cater for the veggies and everything else will be vegetarian. My own nbeighbour party is in early January, when the family have gone. So far, nine acceptances, so I'll be needing to do a full day's cooking and preparation for that.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Technology strikes

We have been at the mercy of our electric and electronic contraptions this week. One night, as we prepared to bed we saw that the electric clock wasn't working. It was late, and we thought there was something wrong with it. I was quite disappointed that it had gone wrong after all the years we'd had it. Only the next morning did we discover that the heating wasn't working and neither was the freezer in the utility room. Since then M has been isolating circuits and wires and we still haven't found the cause.

As if electrical problems weren't enough, the computer went wrong. Several times this week, I had the Blue Screen of Death, as my son describes it. It isn't the first time; it's happened a few times in the last couple of months. Thinking it was something I'd installed, I called in a computer engineer, who trouble shoots for other friends. He had it on the bench for a weekend, but nothing showed up. All went quiet for a bit; then the problem returned this week. When the engineer came last week, I gave him the new laptop to set up, which he did while dealing with error messages on my computer. I couldn't use the laptop, because every time I pressed the '@', I got quote marks. After the engineer visited, two things happened, the computer went caput again, after I had spent two hours typing in an article - and the laptop reverted to factory settings.

It transpired that M had said yes to something he shouldn't have, and we had to call out the engineer again. When he arrived, we were assembling a hat and coat stand, using the whole hall to do it. Meanwhile the other computer had been returned to the place I bought it, and they'd had it on the bench for 24 hours. They rang up shortly afterwards and said there was nothing wrong with it, but by the time I'd had a cup of tea and got my coat on, to go and collect it, they called again to tell me it had failed and they'd found It's there was a fault on the main board. It's a bit of a relief really. Intermittent faults leave you feeling very vulnerable.

In order to accommodate the hat stand in the porch, we have had to move out the house plant that has been growing there for the last fifteen years. Just as well, really, as the ivy at the base of the plant had embedded itself in the wallpaper, and as we moved it out, the plant left a trail of muddy brown water on the carpet. We are now exposing it to the weather to see what happens. M thinks the hallstand is old fashioned, but when have we ever been modern?

Cards have been coming in and going out; likewise, invitations to drinks over the holiday period. We did a book sale last week, and as a piece de resistance, Irene has installed on her blog the Goldenford elves. Go, look and admire.

And happy holidays to all my friends.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hibernating and Socialising

I have no affection for Winter. This last two or three weeks I've felt as if the cold is seeping into my bones. The heating has been on for hours on end. And I hate the dark closing in and squeezing the daylight hours into a smaller and smaller space. Today it was raining. Just pouring down. I didn't like that either. Roll on the end of the year so I can look forward to the lengthening of the days.

Even so, I have reluctantly been out a few times, and though I didn't want to go, it was fine when I got there. Lunch last week at the Holiday Inn in Guildford with a friend. Neither of us wanted to be anywhere cold and draughty so that was a good choice, though very expensive for what it was. And I didn't like the way they made off with the credit card as soon as we'd ordered. Two Goldenford meetings in the last couple of weeks - one to discuss our future arrangements, including selling our books at the Farnham Christmas Market on Tuesday, 16th December at the Maltings. Look out for us if you're there. We're selling signed copies of our books. At the other meeting we discussed the possibility of taking on another author.

M & I also went to Surrey University's Annual Lecture, held at Guildford Cathedral with Professor Lord Winston as the guest speaker, and prior to that a reception for the guests with lots of champagne. It did alas cause me to watch the lecture with double vision.

The Reading Circle also had its Christmas meeting with refreshments contributed by all of us. We discussed The Road Home, which most of us enjoyed very much. I was very much in sympathy with Lev, the East European hero who comes to London and faces grim conditions and low paid work, just to support his mother and daughter back home. But he does make friendships with those he meets on the way. There was something of a fairy tale element to this story, in spite of the hardships. It was a worthy winner of the Orange Prize.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Boom, Books and Blunders

As always, I am surrounded by paperwork and in the last couple of weeks, I’ve made quite a few errors, rushing to deal with it. First there was M’s insurance, which I did on line, for the first time. I was very displeased with the last lot, and when the new documents came in, I trashed all the previous documents. A few days later, there came a letter, requesting evidence of the no claims discount. Without it, the insurance would be cancelled. I got very hot under the collar, I can tell you, but I rang up the new people, and they were excellent. Fortunately, I still had the phone number of the earlier bunch, because they are still insuring me – but not for much longer, because I really didn’t like their lack of personal service – so I was able to provide a telephone number, and the new company dealt with it. I didn’t confess to M – it’s always better to let him think I’m infallible.

My next problem was in providing a birthday present for GD3, now seven. She wanted dressing up clothes and I found a really nice site and ordered a Renaissance Princess outfit to be sent directly to the birthday girl. Last Saturday, however, the parcel turned up at my house. I was furious and telephoned the company (who weren’t there) to grumble at their mistake. Then I rushed to the post office, just missing the parcel collection and arranged for a guaranteed delivery for Tuesday. Big mistake. No-one was there when it arrived and as a signature was needed, it wasn’t left there. The Son&Heir had to cross town to pick the parcel up. If it had sent it by ordinary post, it would have been left for them in the place that their regular postman uses. Then I found the email I’d printed out from the company, in which they asked me to check the details and contact them straight away if anything was wrong. I hadn’t read it. I could avoided all that hassle with a single phone call. But at least GD3 liked the dress.

In the mean time, I have been looking for a CD player for GD2, which, it transpires, is called a Boombox. I was going into Guildford to find one of these, but I think I solved my problem with one I saw at Sainsbury’s. It’s pink, and that should appeal to GD2. I’ve also bought a laptop for M, but so far, neither of us have worked out how to use it. My brain is obviously like candy floss at the moment, because I can’t even remember the other mistakes I’ve recently made.

Since the library event, I’ve sold some more books. I had an order through the post for The Fruit of the Tree; then our monthly order from Gardners came through, and it was clear that Horsley Library had kept their promise and ordered four copies each of Darshan, Luther’s Ambassadors, Thorn in the Flesh and Tainted Tree. The Surrey Library catalogue is showing them as ‘on order’, but they do have one copy of TT in stock. Gratifying to see last week that it was both on loan and reserved by someone else. There was a further order from Goldenford's website, where all the others are also available, so it’s good to see that there’s quite a bit of interest in it. Long may it continue. There were sales of A Bottle of Plonk last week too, so a full house for me this week.