Monday, February 27, 2012

I Done A Drawing (again)

Will have a word about photographic quality control but I was moderately pleased with the reaction from Hobbits and friends on showing them this...

Seascape in pastels.  Yes I did roll it.  Yes that was a mistake.  No I've not covered it in hairspray yet to protect it from further smudging and when I do I'll press it between a couple of heavy books and that will sort the fetching crimping out of the paper.

I'm working on another at the moment, I do enjoy the messy nature of pastels, more colour ends up on me than on the finished product.  Next thing I move on to is paints.  The only paints I've ever used was the cheap crap poster paints way back in ancient school days and the cheap squeezy tubes I buy for the Hobbits artistic endeavours.  Excited much?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

And with the mild winter...

...come the giant spiders again.  I mean really is there no respite from these buggers?  I have no issue with spidey being outside, in fact last year there were a bunch of quite sweet ones making their home on the decking.

But do not, I repeat, do not invade my space and expect to survive.  Although I hate to I cannot leave them alone, they have to die.  Bad karma but I do warn them (don't laugh this works) not to come in the house - some listen but some are stupid.  If I don't get them then their fate lies with Little Miss Kittie, who loves nothing better than to chomp on an eight-legged beastie.  I'm thinking some are not as tasty as others as she leaves the crumpled body as evidence, mostly though it is a leg or two.  Crunchy.

Yesterday I felt elated, the ridiculous elation of someone who has grown tired of being tired.  I made crispie cakes, no big deal, takes about 10 minutes maximum, more if I have to fend off hungry Hobbits.  But for me it is a big deal now.  I fight against this thing, this malaise, even though - to be honest - I'd rather never return to work in that place.  

I fight against it to get the strength to break free, to follow what I want to do.  This can only make me stronger as has all the other crap I've dealt with over the past few years.  I look on it like this and it doesn't seem so bad anymore.


Crispie cakes.


Now if I get back to regular banana bread making (example below) I will have achieved something and Hobbits will be ecstatic.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Unlikeliest of friendships

Dog and cat.  Or one of them anyway.  The other two cats...well, tolerate the presence of dog with barely disguised distaste.  In typical dog fashion this never deters the utter joy he has in welcoming everyone, even when he awakes from sleep - he is always happy to see us.

This cat, the cat of the devil.  Many a smashed plate and tipped bin can be blamed on him.  He has, on one daring afternoon, snatched the sandwich from my hand.  His sister watches with disbelief that they are in any way related.  Our older cat, of no relation to either, continually puts him in his place, i.e. not in charge.

It is trivial things like this that make our family.  Pets are non human family members and it is good for people to remember that.

More Things Not To Do

When outside the weather is cold and dank it is very hard to try and accomplish anything of any worth.

I did, however, note the start and end of an entirely new story idea.  As much as I could elaborate considering it was based on one of three nightmares I had the previous night.  Waking up after each one, this was the first but stayed long enough in my memory to be of some use.

Why does it feel like cheating when inspiration comes during sleep?  It was a clearly laid out story, not my usual fare but we'll see where it goes and if it is like any of the others the answer will be nowhere.  I don't know why I don't take this further as it would be so lovely to have this done.  Perhaps it is the frowning face I see repeating the saying "everyone has a book in them, most of them should remain within."  

Marianne Stokes (1855-1927)

Marianne Stokes (1855-1927)

Monday, February 20, 2012

List Less

Considering everything, I really should make an effort to get back on track, to reorganise until I know where I'm at again.

I should write lists.

But to see it all written down I fear would be truly frightening.

Let's not scare the horses just yet.  Slowly and surely I need to recover all that I have lost, I need to restructure where I can and I need a plan that will work so I can get out of this rut and into a comfortable way of life for me and mine.

I have a meeting with Little Hitler social worker tomorrow, the day will be over quickly I hope.

Yesterday we went to the Royal Museum in Edinburgh.  It has lost a lot of the appeal it once had, I miss the fish and the old fashioned layout although I do appreciate that there are a lot more exhibits on display.  The new cafe is rank though, to the long gone fish I will add Soup├žon,  the little cafe tucked into the back of the museum serving delicious bowls of soup to icy Edinburghers.  Sometimes change is not for the better.

Bye bye fishes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

For What It's Worth

The changes that have long been mooted by the government seem to be assured reality at some point in the near future.  As a single parent I am confident that my low status will ensure enough pain to make me wonder what the point is.

The biggest change has to do with benefits.  I've long been of the opinion that benefits exist as a safety net, you pay your taxes and when your luck is down they are there to help you back up. Unfortunately there are those who abuse the system, who live an entire life on benefits and on working the system to their favour.

A life I can only imagine must be stifling in the lack of ambition, of aspiration over what life can offer you.  There is a way out of poverty, but out of poverty of the mind - that is much harder.

So, here we come to the crunch.  It would seem that in it's efforts to get the work shy into jobs that don't actually exist at the moment this government has decided that, under the suspicious umbrella of work experience those on benefits should work for large companies for free.

Now I have no problem with work experience, I have no issue with attempts to teach people how earning your own money is better than finding new ways to dodge work.  At the moment though, when people are being cut from the workforce without mercy this scheme does not seem fair.

The work experience does not tie in with the person gaining skills that will impress on a c.v. or being able to link in with a future job opportunity (some have, but the numbers are very, very small.)  Instead large, wealthy companies get paid to take on the unemployed - not in jobs but as "free" labour to do with as they wish.

My concern is - as these are low paid jobs to start with, who is being done out of an actual paid job so the companies can have these freebies?  If the job is there, if the vacancies exist - fill them.

I can only bring my own experiences into this to show why I am so uneasy with this whole fiasco.  

When I left school I had so many things I would have liked to do.  Straight off I was told, under no circumstances would I be supported if I applied to art school or university.  I was expected to get a job, any job, didn't matter what, didn't matter if it was something I wanted to do - just work.

Fair enough, I knew what I would have liked to do but good jobs for school leavers were thin on the ground.  I'd have liked to work in the travel industry but, with ambition soundly quashed then I just went for the first thing I could take.

As this was in the tail end of the 80s I ended up on a YTS (Youth Training Scheme).  The (Tory) governments way of getting school leavers into work on supposed apprenticeships.  I worked in a shop in the nearest town, selling clothes, cushions, net curtains and wool (odd combination but there you go.)  It was part of a chain of shops - still around now although re-branded.

The pay was dire, 75p per hour.  Not enough to do anything with, I still sold the Avon I'd done since high school and that was my spending money really as the money I earned was nothing once everything was paid for.

Here in lay the problem.  While I earned less than the part-time worker who did three afternoons a week I was first there in the morning and last to leave at night.  I was expected to give up Sundays whenever they asked as the stock-take day was "training."  Unlike the others I didn't get a day in lieu for it, I didn't get overtime, I most certainly didn't get the chance to decline.

I worked hard, thought maybe this would lead to me going on to training as an assistant manager in a few years time.  Retail wasn't what I wanted to do but I didn't lack work ethic.

Then we found out that at the end of our two year slog, we would be let go to make way for another bunch of cheap kids.  It didn't matter how good we were, we were cheap and that was all that mattered.

When I walked out of that job I had lost a lot of the drive I'd had.  I lost that feeling of worth, I felt such resentment at having been treated as though I was nothing more than a serf.  There to run around for everyone, to work longer hours than everyone (I wasn't to leave until the manageress was locking up - I was there at the door, waiting every morning.)  For what?  I wasn't valued, I felt no value.  It changed how I looked at the workplace and how I looked at employers.  I have never and will never set foot in one of their shops again.

Unlike my dad's generation there would be no company loyalty where workers felt proud, that they were accomplishing something and the company rewarded and acknowledged this. It destroyed a part of me that has never fully recovered.

Sounds dramatic, really wasn't.  But, like a lot of what powers me on now, I would not want either of my sons to feel that way.  Rather than teach people to be self-sufficient and have a good work ethic this will breed the same resentment I had, if someone wants to work for a company in a field they are interested in or in the hope to get a job then that is so different to being threatened with removal of benefits.

Yet, with this scheme, will there be any Saturday jobs for my sons' generation to do when they are older?  Not if companies can increase their profit by scoring these Workfare people.  By all means give them work experience but *pay* them appropriately for it!

I have serious doubts for the future, I've no doubt that my sons will have to move abroad if they want any chance of a decent standard of living.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Um...have a nice Lupercalia day?

Because rather than cards and chocolates I could be doing with ridding myself of "evil spirits."

No, I've not gone full on pagan.  Not quite anyway.

Today was bright, beautiful and a little bit on the cold side for Spring but still...We ventured into the local woods, as much as we could considering most of the paths are blocked from the trees fallen victim to the winds of a month or so ago.  It raises the soul to wander without purpose (other than walking the dog) on such a day and all my many cares and worries can disappear into the distance.

I know I am in the right, I know what needs to be done and I know that no matter what this is just yet another obstacle to overcome.  I hope that this is one of the last obstacles I have to cross as it is getting tiresome waiting for the good times to roll round.  In the wheel of fortune I seem to be on a constant dip.