Alone and Existential in Palermo – What to do?


Ken is gone, and I have 24 hours alone in Palermo. What to do? What to do?

Can you guess what I did yet?

After a solid week of walking the alleyways, closes and vennels of the old town of Palermo I decided to head over to the Botanical Gardens. Partly to make Ken jealous, but mainly because I knew I needed to pass some time before flying and I always like a garden. In fact, not a lot of people know this, but I used to have a membership to Kew and would go there at least four times a year. I had to check out from the hotel, and although they let me leave my bag with them for the day I don’t think they’d have let me have a lie down between excursions, so I had to do something that was both time consuming and in some way restful. Enter stage left (the direction of the goodies, as we now know from the visit to the Puppet Museum) your friend and mine…

Your friend and mine, Carl Linnaeus, inventor of the binomial nomenclature we use for the naming of plants today.

He’s like – Check out the crazy good garlic. I’m going to take some home with me and give it two names. (It is possible this is not garlic, but bear with me, I am no plantsman, I just like eating).

Like the museums we visited, the botanical garden was quite small by UK standards, but probably not because they have less stuff, more probably because they don’t hand over acres and acres to lawn. Also, the plants we need hothouses for they don’t. There’s only one greenhouse in the whole place.

There was also a LOT of potting going on. Presumably they are potting things that don’t need a lot of water, or else they’d have to employ everyone in Palermo just to keep the container plants alive.

Here’s the naughty Ficus Macrophylla again;

Ficus Macrophylla. Famously shit at lining up to create an avenue.

So good they named it thrice.

I had a bit of a sit down in the shade IT WAS SO HOT and took a few snaps from there.

Super sunny nice day.


It was really nice to get the overpowering petrol smell out of my nostrils. The sooner Palermans get into electric cars and bikes the better for everyone. The orange grove smelled lovely.

Oranges may not be the only fruit, but they are *A* fruit.

I still had time to be ridiculously early for my flight, and the rest of the day was rather wearing, so the trip to the Botanics was a good call. It’s hard to imagine that I arrived back in freezing cold London at the end of this splendid day.

Not that I wasn’t pleased to see Ten and Poppet, because I was. But, you know. Palermo! I miss you!


ETA – Turns out there is another greenhouse, but I missed it. The one I went into had some cactus going on, but there was also cactuses outside. It really just isn’t that cold.

Gardening and a Possible Swap


I am still illish, quite ill. Very tired. But I have had a bite on Homeswappers, and am going to see a flat on Leather Lane on saturday. Leather Lane is part of the old medieval part of the City,  Sam Pepys will have walked down it, though I think the flat is 1970s, so he won’t have visited that. I am very excited. The swapper is not convinced by my flat but is interested in one whose resident is interested in mine, so maybe a three way swap. Worked last time pretty well, so fingers crossed. But she is going to come and see mine just in case she does fancy it… and of course I suddenly looked at the place with that outsider eye that sees beyond normal niggles to the general look of the place and I thought OH SHIT and spent a LOT of time tidying up the paved bit of the garden yesterday.

And there will have to be some ‘wildflower’ management as well. Before I went on holiday the garden was pretty dormant, but I came back to triffids.

poppies about to pop. these ones are growing from *nowhere* on my buddha’s paving slab stupa. not brilliantly placed, but they won’t stand moving, so that’s that.

i had to do a lot of tidying to get it looking like this, believe me.

the garden militia

pretty roses! ten’s mum gave me this bush, and it thrives here. i have another one, which seems to be unhappy everywhere i have tried it. effing thing.

abandoned paving project. must try to do something with these before saturday…

scruffy bit. rearranging the worm hotel, and god knows what to do with the rest of it.

I’d invest in that bark stuff to cover up the bare ground, but it only comes in ginormous bags, and I had enough trouble getting the smallest bag of compost into my shopping wheely bag thing. Maybe when Ten gets back from wherever he is we can do something with bungees.

Mostly about me, and a bit about Ganesh


In this interregnum I can only dream.

i rather think i would be better off dreaming poppet’s dreams. my actual dreams tend to be rather anxious, which i don’t think hers are. hers are about snoofling about and chasing things.

The trouble with expecting to be well soon, but not being well now is that there is very little I can actually do. I am walking the dog, eating, pottering about, and spending ridiculous amounts of time on the internet looking on Homeswapper for possible swaps. You’d think that I  would have had enough of moving house after all the horror of last time, and it is a BIT stupid to try and second guess how well I am going to be and what I am going to be doing with all the wellness.

It started with the usual thing of going to Brighton and thinking I must go back on Homeswapper and move here, when, in reality, I think I really just like visiting. Just like lots of other people do. Visiting, and catching up with friends, looking at the sea, thinking how nice it would be to live at the seaside, and then going home again. To my home, which, incidentally is something like 10 meters from a river. A perfectly good river. Anyroads. Anyroads, instead of mooning around searching Brighton, I have been looking within London, and mainly within 5 miles of Shoreditch, which I think we can agree *is* the centre of London now.

The other thing is, though, is that there are quite a few people looking to downsize. I don’t know if this has been spurred by the bedroom tax or not, but there are a good few two, and even three, bedroom properties on. Listen to me! “Properties” like I was an estate agent or something. Anyway, what with the possibility/probability of a PhD in the offing I am becoming rather aware that this flat hasn’t got quite enough elbow room for my liking. The big compromise would be giving up the garden, and even more than that, probably, the river.


ganesh. never saw a shrink for what happened to his head

You know Ganesh? Well, did you know how he got his head? I didn’t. I assumed that he just came that way, because Hindu stuff is kind of magicky and a god with an elephant’s head seems just as reasonable as all the rest of it. Anyway, it turns out he wasn’t born that way. Probably to the relief of his mother.

When I went to the British Museum the other week, and went on a short tour of discovering just how exquisite my back pain can be, we stopped off at Ganesh and the chap who was giving us the tour told us how he came to be the way he is. It turns out that Shiva had been away for a really long time. And I mean a REALLY long time. His wife probably could have stepped out on him, I mean I guess she had to be pretty special to be married to a top god like that, so she probably could have had as many flings as she liked. And he was away a LONG time. So he comes back and sees this fit young lad hanging around. Rather assuming he was being cuckolded he cut the lad’s head off with a sword. Turns out that he was in fact DRN DRN DRRRRRN!!!!! his own son!

Being a god, he could probably have just put the head back on and everything would have been fine. But in his grief he apparently decided it would be best if the next creature he saw would provide the new head. Happily, considering what other creatures there are in the world, the first sentient being he came across was an elephant. So there you are! Ganesh always had something to talk about at dinner parties. How’s that for a teenage angst story?


So, back to me. Thursday I get botoxed again, so I can start attacking the massive list of stuff I have to do. Not least of which is to do some reading and rewriting for the PhD application. And then what? I don’t know. I mean, I have plenty of short term tasks to do, but I am not used to being able to have plans, so this thing about wanting to move again could just be part of wanting control over my life in some way, or it could be the sensible next step, if I am really going to write. I do know that I need a great deal of focus and quite a lot of space to write. I don’t write in a very linear way – I get all my ideas down then I print them off and look at them on the floor and rearrange them like that before editing. One time I gave a paper at a conference which was literally a scroll of sellotaped together sections – but I’d done a rewrite after printing and didn’t have another chance to tidy things up before the conference, so I went in with a piece of paper several feet long.

It is nice having a garden, though. Oh, I don’t know…

So that was nice!


After writing my previous post I tweeted the link to Sh! and they asked for a version for their site. So that was nice. The enbiggened version is here.

What else? Well, today me and Al finally got around to tidying up our Training With Awareness enough to allow it out into the world. It’s not perfect, but it is live now, so any feedback is welcome. We are going to put our mugs up there somewhere soon, maybe friday. There is plenty to add, but the main thing was to have capital letters at the beginning of sentences and so on, so that’s done and done.

We are planning to do some voluntary gigs to get ourselves warmed up, so if you are in London or the South East and you represent some worthy group or other then we’d be pleased to hear from you. Voluntary work will be Wednesdays or Fridays. Thanks to everybody who has ‘liked’ our facebook page – it’s good to hit the ground running with the widget on the site showing some love.


I’ve been insanely ill lately, thanks in no small part to effing up my medications and then seeing a different doctor and changing too many things at once – something my real doctor advised against… anyway, luckily I have enough in hand just to go back to the original dose, and last night I had the first decent night’s sleep in ages, and woke up at just before 6am raring to drink tea and faff around on the internet.


My new hobby is passive aggression.

s  big pile a’crap, yo

See? This is me making a PILE of recycling for Ten to deal with. Actually, he noted my protest and proceeded to do other stuff instead, so it’s all in a bin bag in the garden now. If I was spending any time in the garden just now then it’d be away in the recycling by now, but Ten likes to clean and micro sort recycling whereas I don’t bother.

I am in a bit of a quandary about the garden just now because of the imminent MEN and SCAFFOLDING. Is there much point in doing stuff if they are going to mess it up? I don’t exactly know, but we will have to move the bench and probably the plants which are in my designated nursery space for the scaffolding, and I suppose I will think about those issues then. Meantime the MEN have not arrived yet, and it is getting pretty cold out there, so random Ten hobbies are tolerated.


Worm Update, Bra Measurements, and A Cat


You’ll be worried, by now, about the wellbeing of the tiger worms in their Worm Hilton. Rest assured, I checked up on this morning, and although I don’t know if any of them have moved boxes there do seem to be live worms in all the boxes. I was concerned about using see through boxes, but it doesn’t seem to bother the worms unduly. I wish i could dye them or tag them somehow to see who moves where or not, but these are worms. Not so easy to tag as, birds or mammals. Just as well I am not a scientist and just as well I don’t have OCD, or I might find the raging anarchy of the worm bin situation too much to cope with. As it is, I will be happy to simply see what happens over the next few months.

Since the worms seem to be surviving their non opaque environment I may continue the build.


Nextly, in this slow news day, a sunday of mainly bed based internet activities, I can report that although Ten measured me for a bra size the tape was in centimeters and so he has to convert to inches – and then after that he has to work out cup size and all that baloney. Even then, I had to break it to him, different brands will fit differently. A bra fitting lady once told me that say you were a 36D but the shop didn’t have the bra you liked in that size or the size was wrong for you you could MAGICALLY try on a 38C and it might work. Strange business, bras.

If you have been following my tribulations with bra purchasing, you might remember me complaining that M&S were no longer the bra fitters to beat. For some reason most of their bras are now sporting a formed padding which makes your frontage attempt the ‘sweater girl’ profile. When I complained that the bra was uncomfortable, and that one of the cups could easily accommodate a couple of sleeping mice as well as my apparently much smaller than the other one right breast. When I pointed this out she was very rude and more or less insinuated that this perfectly normal state of affairs was in some way my fault. I  felt shamed into buying the awful bra, and then, when I tried it on again at home in perfect misery I realized I would have to take the damn thing back again.

I only want to be COMFORTABLE. Is that really too much to ask?


Well, I have spent all day writing this, so I’d better post it before it becomes tomorrow.

Here’s a picture of a cat watching television in bed. What’s not to like?

Babs Cartland, My Day, and The Hindenburg Scale Explained


Monday, November 12, 2012
Where is your favourite place to blog?

Dame Barbara Cartland was noted for her prolific writing, her title of ‘queen of romance’ and her hideous mask of make up which she continued to slather on til the day she died. She had a policy of wearing pink, and the legend is that she would lay on her chaise longue and dictate her novels to her secretary.

my role model

I, however, do not have a secretary, but I can touch type and I have a laptop. I almost invariably blog from my bed, with my secretary, Poppet, snoring beside me. Frankly, she contributes very little in terms of labour, though she knows some key commands that I don’t. When she stretches a paw over to my keyboard I often find she has done something I wouldn’t know how to do myself. Even though she has quite big paws, that make her look like she is wearing kick flares she can’t really type as such.

In an ideal world I would wear only pink, too. but light colours are expensive to wear, and although she had a dog, I doubt Dame Barbara ever got really grubby playing ball with hers.


As for me, I started the day in the park with the doggie, watched The Mentalist, tidied the garden up as best I could after all the busywork from yesterday, and next up is bath time. I hope to do a bit of painting later, and I will update when I have something to report. For the past few days I have not had to take triptans, but that’s because I have upped my intake of codeine. I think my earlier experience of having some time off from migraining just from the preventatives was more of a weather based coincidence than anything else. For now, I have to do what I can with the tools that I have.


And – we’re back. Although I have done a fair amount in the way of TASKS today – including vacuuming the bedroom which really needed doing (how does a bedroom get actual mud on the carpet, it’s ridiculous) today has been regraded from a manageable Category 1 Hindenburg, to a get on top of possible flare ups as soon as possible Category 3 Hindenburg day. So it’s stopped being about possibly getting to some painting or the next bit of project garden to take some pain killers and get back to the bed and the hot blanket on the neck to try and get a handle on the situation before I end up like I did last week, with a bruise that made me look like Gorbachev and lots of referred pain and a series of small events that added together created a Category 5 Hindenburg.

The Hindenberg scale is based on a conversation I had in the thread with Lucy’s Football in this post she wrote last week.

how was your day in terms of catastrophe?

I have based the scale as expressed here on a like for like as described by NASA regarding hurricanes. I know, topical.

Here’s their scale, in case you can’t be bothered clicking;

Category 1: Winds 119-153 km/hr (74-95 mph) — faster than a cheetah

Category 2: Winds 154-177 km/hr (96-110 mph) — as fast or faster than a baseball pitcher’s fastball

Category 3: Winds 178-209 km/hr (111-130 mph) — similar, or close, to the serving speed of many professional tennis players

Category 4: Winds 210-249 km/hr (131-155 mph) — faster than the world’s fastest rollercoaster

Category 5: Winds more than 259 km/hr (155 mph) — similar, or close, to the speed of some high-speed trains

Who knew you could get such useful information from NASA? It’s not all teflon and biros that can work upside down. Okay, I have to stop reading the NASA site now, because I found a page where you can go and do space stuff if you are a US citizen and it’s making me feel all kind of sick in my stomach. Imagine working at NASA? It’d be as cool as having a degree from MIT before they jumped the shark and invented the facebook hug jacket.



A friend asked me on facebook what the other Hindenburg Categories looked like. This was my reply;

 i think a category 2 day is replete with obstacles. you know you’re not getting away with doing anything productive, battening down the hatches is the order of the day. 
a category 4 is full catastrophe living. priorities are eating and drinking and taking medication at appropriate times. and that is all you can hope for. probably you won’t manage it and you will compound your catastrophe in unforseen ways. 
we don’t even discuss category 5.

Thoughts on Prompts and Pictures of the Tiger Worm Hotel


Now that I’m back on the blogging trail, and now that I have done some serious worm hotel construction and had my bath, my mind turns to what to blog about today. During my mega migraine bonanza I missed a whole week of prompts for NaBloPoMo. Lets see what they would have been…

Monday, November 5, 2012

What are your thoughts about tomorrow’s election in the United States?

Well, what with all the hindsight, I can just say it’s a bit of a relief. Not because Obama is going to be a total angel, but because things would have been a great deal worse if Mr Mitt had got in. Like here, we have a tory mayor of London and a tory Prime Minister. Romney as icing on that layer cake would have been unbearable.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
If you were President of the United States, what would be your first act in office?

Stop the drone strikes. Drones seem to me to be a war crime in conception, construction and use. They are no better than land mines. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Talk about the last compliment you received.

Most probably the Kirsty I play Words With Friends with. She is very generous when I paste her! However, we are very often neck and neck towards the end of the game, which is very exciting. We are very evenly matched. Also, she is usually up already when I wake up, so we often play live, too, which is nice.

Thursday, November 8, 2012
If you could have any job (and instantly have the training and qualifications to do it), which job would you want?

I would like to be David Sedaris, but that job is already taken. 

Friday, November 9, 2012
If you could change one thing about your life right now, what would it be?

I would magic away the migraines and fibro crap. Then i would be able to do ANYTHING!!!!!! Except be a child prodigy, astronaut, ballerina, stunt double, body double, chess master, or opera singer. Those are all off the table no matter how well I got. If I could, I’d be a writer. So much tidier than painting, and I admire writers so much. I don’t think I could really write fiction, though. 

Well! That didn’t take long! Now I am all caught up. Well done me.


I dare say you are dying to see the Worm Hotel. Let me just dry my hair and I’ll take the camera out and see what I can offer you.

tottenham hilton under construction

the black thing was full, but the compost not fully, well, composted. so in moving the contents to the clear hoppers i may be needing quite a few of them to complete the job.

ten asked how the worms would reach the holes in the next box up – i am including quite a lot of twiggery for them to climb on. ‘like an adventure playground, then’, he said

i am not sure whether the worms will like the clear plastic. they do like the dark, it’s true, but then they also like to escape. i have found quite a few who think they are steve mcqueen.

So, very much still IN PROCESS as you can see. But I am getting there, and the new drill bit is paying it’s way. Obviously if I was building this entirely from scratch I wouldn’t risk the clear boxes, but since I have so many of them it is a good re-use and if they don’t work out I will just have to get some opaque ones. Although ordinary composting needs dark I am not sure if the worms do. If you leave the lid off they come up towards the light, so who knows what they are thinking.