Starlings In The Tree

They fly together in loops above the roofs of the houses in my neighbourhood, and once they’re done with that, they settle down on this tree next to my house and chill out.

I wonder if they know how much they provoke my cat!

They also make appearance in my flash fiction short story The Camera Smiles (written for a prompt by The New, Unofficial, On-Line Writer’s Guild). The story is true, except it was initially a crow that made me reach for my camera, not the starlings, but by the time I got it out and pried the lens cap, which really got stuck on the lens (to the point where I had to google how to take it off), the crow flew away and the starlings took over the tree.

Still At Home

Not that long ago on Some Photoblog I did two posts with a shared theme of home; I imagined they could bring out the feeling of peace and warmth of home. These days, home means not just the place we escape to from the cold weather–it also helps save lives.

Have some pics, with addition of some thoughts of mine.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys is the prequel to Jane Eyre, the story of Bertha aka Madwoman in the Attic, here named Antoinette. For a while now, I’ve been her defender; she is always Antoinette to me. The prose in this book is beautiful and it’s a short read–and much easier than Jane why-use-one-word-when-I-can-use-ten Eyre. It also, rightfully, portrays Rochester as the villain.

Although I have my own theories regarding the madwoman. Most of all, I maintain that there was nothing wrong with her. If she did become mad, it was from living in the confined space of the attic–not hard to believe now, eh? I operate from the point of view that Rochester is lying. If you look at it that way, the story changes completely. After all, it’s narrated by Jane, who is eighteen, inexperienced, who’s lived a sheltered life and knows shit about the world. There is no evidence of any madness in the book. Heck we can’t even be sure it was really the madwoman who set the house on fire. We are told that by a stranger, a pub landlord, who for all we know might be as credible as today’s tabloid press. And even he admits it’s only a guess!

They say journalling can be beneficial to your health. I don’t know, I don’t journal. At least I haven’t started yet, I’ve only been using the pictured notebook for journalling prompts I found on Pinterest. So you can say I do journal, a bit, lol.

Bloomer

I bought this loaf and when I put it on the wooden chopping board, it looked so nice I had to take a picture. But my white kitchen top made too harsh a background, so I later bought another loaf of bloomer and did it again using a kitchen towel for a background.

Bread is one of the oldest man-made foods and is culturally and religiously significant. It’s also often used as a metaphor for sustenance. The Lord’s Prayer, for example, features the line “give us today our daily bread”. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre says to (that bastard) Rochester: “Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup?” Bread-winner is used to describe the member of the household who earns the largest chunk of the income.

The Constant Companion

My cat is very unbothered by *points at everything in the world*. What matters to her is what has always mattered to her: that she gets fed and finds a comfy place to chill out. This sometimes means she steals my spot, for which I have to fight her for.

She is constant.

However, she is also constant in other ways.

Pepper came to my life seven years ago. She’s been with me while I went through all the stuff I went through, the good and the bad and the ugly; she’s never left my side. She may not be able to speak human, but she’s still a faithful companion. Better than other humans, often. She’s not the one who, for example, disbelieves me when I tell her something. She’s not the one who dismisses my trauma or handwaves my worries and fears. She doesn’t belittle me and she never laughs at me.

There is evidence that pets are good for our mental health. Of course, everyone who has a pet knows this, but it’s good to have it backed by science nevertheless.

Magpie in a Tree

The first post of 2021 is here!

I start the year with a photo of a bird in a tree, for once not taken from my window. I took the picture while I was walking under the tree.

The magpie looked pleased with its catch–I think it’s the little cup-like thing that you bake muffins in, I don’t know what it’s called.

There are lots of crows and magpies in my neighbourhood, I can always hear them shouting, especially the crows in the mornings.

Let’s Try It Again… 2020 Recap

Okay, so the previous post was stupid. Let me do it again, better.

In terms of my photography, overwhelming majority of pictures taken in 2020 were with my smartphone and always in my area. This is the first time since 2016 that I haven’t made any trip outside Manchester. None of this mattered, in the end, as I took the best picture in my life with my phone a street away from my home!

Squirrel in Heaton Park, from September

The year started with storms, I remember there were two or three and they always happened at the weekend, so that that was no going anywhere for me. After that–well, you know. At first it was, need toilet paper? Pasta? Bad luck, mate.

It seems incredible now, but I did go to a concert this year. As in, a live performance by a singer. It was Halsey in Manchester Arena and it was back in March, before the first lockdown. Probably wasn’t very responsible, but hey, nothing happened.

My most streamed song of 2020 was the suitably titled Doom Days by Bastille (my inspiration for the short story The Journal). I also listened to the two albums Taylor Swift released this year, Folklore and Evermore.

It will be a while before live shows are back again. I also had a ticket for Phantom of the Opera, which was supposed to run for two months in Manchester, but like everything else, it was cancelled. Arts have really suffered with this and it’s not like the government cares; instead of supporting them they tell people in the industry to retrain. But don’t touch sports, oh no, not our precious sports, and even more precious football. Heavens help you if you anyhow endanger our football and our obscenely-paid footballers!

So what was I saying, oh yes, the annual recap… this year we were all staying at home and our new best friend was the streaming services. I remember that Disney+ launched here in UK just at the right time for lockdown.

Linda watches Star Wars

One of the TV shows that got much praise this year was Mandalorian. I’ve not watched it (yet), I’m not in the Star Wars fandom (they do have the hottest Latin actors though, Oscar Isaac and Pedro Pascal), however as I got myself a 12-month Disney+ subscription, I did watch the new trilogy and Rogue One. I liked Rogue One best, fabulous movie and might be one of my very favourites. As for the new trilogy, well, my first thought when I woke up the next day after seeing The Rise of Skywalker was: this should have been Finn’s story. John Boyega was right.

Star Trek premiered the Picard series and now we’re on Season 3 of Discovery, which has so far been the best. I thought the tone of Picard was a bit off, as if the writers were anxious (they probably were), but this can be easily overcome in future seasons.

This was also the first year in however-long that we had no Marvel movie released. We’ve been waiting for that Black Widow forever! But it’s good to have a bit of a break and hey, there’s still time to get into it, folks, if you haven’t done so!

Being at home and doodling

I doodle sometimes, I have almost filled my little A6 sketchbook. I once had a phase where I was drawing castles, and it seems I’m back in that phase again.

Tragically, I’ve not done as much reading as I should have done. I picked up The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and it took me three whole months to get through it. Such a slog, also the title is a lie–she doesn’t really steal books. Spoiler, I guess, but who cares. It tries to be interesting by having Death as a narrator but it reads just like any other third-person limited POV, with a “I collected their souls” inserted here and there to keep up the appearance. I swear I’ll never read Holocaust fiction ever again. I’d rather watch a good documentary about it.

But on the other hand I rediscovered my love for Sherlock Holmes and even dedicated a post to the famous detective, which at 2600 words is my longest.

Another thing that happened in Manchester was, the big concrete wall in Piccadilly Gardens was torn down. There is still a concrete wall, but that can’t be torn down because there is a coffee shop and a restaurant on the side of it. People hate them, I know they’re ugly, but for the purposes of my Gloomscapes series, I don’t mind a bit of brutalism. I’ve seen articles online calling the wall “Manchester’s Berlin Wall” and I’m like, can you just not. Nobody is getting shot crossing from Portland Street to Primark! Please. If there is criminal activity or drugs going on in Piccadilly Gardnes, that’s hardly the fault of the wall.

I end with one of my typical phone shot of something random or weird, Sam Call Me written by chalk on the gate to my local park. Well, there is a certain Sam that is close to my heart, so you can say that the picture is not as random as it would appear on first sight. I mean, not in real life, it’s the actor Sam Claflin, lol.

And that, my friends, concludes my second 2020 recap post.

2020 Recap

Hahahahahahahahahahah. Hahaha hahahahahaha hahahahahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahaha hahahahahaha hahahahahahah hahahah ahahahahahaha hahahahahah hahahaha ha haha hahahahahaha hahahahahahaha hahahaha hahahahah hahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahah hahahaha hahahahahahaha hahahahaha hahahaha hahhahaha hahahahah hahah haha ha? Bahaha hahaha hahahaha hhahahahhhhhhh ha! Hahahaha? Hahahaha. Hah! HAH! HAHAH! HAHAHAHAH!!!

Seriously

Sign on the floor in the Arndale shopping centre in Manchester.

At the entrance to my local park where I spent so much walking this year.

Sign at the door to my launderette. It makes it very clear.

Sign on the side of Selfridges department store, a popular spot for sitting. I mean the side of the store is popular spot for sitting, not the actual store. So they put the sign there for people not to sit there.

Narrator’s voice: nevertheless, they still sat.

Sign on the Metrolink tram.

Construction site. The sign is also concealing a wheelbarrow, which was parked further up the road, after the yellow barriers in the distance. You know how I love my wheelbarrows. See what this virus is doing!

Merry Christmas 2020

So it’s Christmas and here I give you 2020-appropriate Christmas pics.

Tree in my neighbourhood.

Lights in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester. At least they still put some in there.

This year, I got myself a Christmas bouquet and put it in a vase. It’s the only kind of Christmas decoration I have in my flat, apart from a string of Christmas lights. I threw away my old Christmas tree, there’s just no space for it in my living room now (I made some changes to the decor).

I wish everyone a good holiday.