a twist in the tales of life

Monday, May 30, 2011

My Mate wants an E Reader

Quite by accident I read Wuthering Heights on my iPhone on Friday. I didn’t plan to. I was looking at apps and updates and I managed to find myself looking at a particular app I installed a while ago. I don’t actually know what I did but I navigated myself on to the first page. It’s a long time since I read Wuthering Heights. 

This made me think about the e reader phenomenon. I have looked at it and as a computer illiterate I left it at that. My friend wants one. He is a computer genius and loves gadgets so much that when he finds a new one he buys one for himself and one for his girlfriend, regardless of if she wants one or not.  He is waiting to buy an e reader, as he reckons the price will go down.  He also reckons that as well as a price drop a few other things will get tweaked and then they will be an amazing piece of kit.

It’s a funny one, the e book thing. It seems that some people are embracing it with literally both hands. Some of us know the technology is there but it’s for computer lovers and not us just yet. And then there are those who will never go for an e book no matter what the deal is.

E reading has its plus side. First there is the price difference. E books are less expensive. Then as was the case with my Wuthering Heights I didn’t have to pay anything. The app is free and because the book is out of copyright I can download and read for nothing. There is a second app I have installed which was also a free app so I have plenty of free reading

The environmental issue comes next. There is no paper used or glue or ink so it is clearly greener. The only energy requirement is electricity to charge the reader. The charge isn’t that much so that’s all good.

There is a convenience factor. An e book can be bought and downloaded pretty quickly. From my limited knowledge which was gleaned from a talk at the Writers Centre Dublin,
http://www.writerscentre.ie/, a lot of e book readers buy their e books for the speed of access to their purchase and one woman, described as mature, apparently buys a couple of e books a week.

Next has to be the ease of travel. The difference in weight in your bag between War and Peace in paperback or on an e reader is quite significant. It would be the difference between having a sore shoulder or not. A school in the West of Ireland are bringing in a scheme where iPads will be used with the School books loaded on to them from the next academic year. The local credit union are offering loans to parents for the scheme as it will cost €700.00 for the package. The kids interviewed were thrilled. Especially as the current schoolbag weighs the equivalent of a two year old child and this weight is carried by 13 year old children.

Having said all of this the paper book is still a thing of beauty. There is something so cool about walking into a proper bookseller and browsing around. What do I mean by a proper bookseller? It is a proper book store, owned by a book lover and staffed by book lovers. Instead of these big outlets with top sellers pushed at you with offers and discounts and staff who are only there to move units and as fast as possible, you get a piece of tranquillity in a small corner of book heaven.
 You feel the calm energy as you walk in. Other customers are in their own place seeking the pleasure of their own favourite genre and there is no rush or hurry, no music or narrow aisles forcing you to grab and get out. These booksellers know their people and often know what you are about just by looking at you.

Very often a beautiful pearl is to be found in these places. You are wandering around and there is a book you never knew existed. A  single little gem waiting for you. I never fail to go into one of these wondrous places without finding such a book.

There is a lovely feeling to walking in and finding a lovely new book, paying for it with inked paper and opening it in your reading place. There is the smell of new paper and fresh ink the feeling of this new piece of art in your hand.  It’s the curling up on the sofa comfortably with the book of the day, your new best friend. It feels like a unique human experience, sharing Authors thoughts and being part of that journey from the author’s imagination to the physical presence of their work in reality.

Even a second hand or used book has energy of its own. As well as the authors energy there is the previous reader’s energy coming from the pages. I even like marks notes in margins and underlines. It brings to me how this book was part of someone else’s life for a while.
Am I anti e book? No.

Am I unimpressed by the e book phenomenon? No.

Has it a place in the joy of reading? A resounding yes.

However the written word gets to people so they can love it, hate it, discuss it, debate it, recommend it, is all that matters. I will probably be reading more on the iPhone.  I will still be hanging out in my favourite booksellers promising myself I will only buy the one book this time and never quite managing it. I will always find the little booksellers gem that is place on the shelf just for me. I could still find that gem in the e book store on line without a doubt. As long as writers write and readers read there is room for all formats. 
Keep smiling

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Meditating and me

I’ve been feeling a bit wired today. There’s nothing terribly unusual in that what with Auntie B still in hospital and going down with an infection after her surgery. Then I’ve been settling the dog into his new routine, aging hippie style. Veggie food is growing on him. (A bit) Mum is not having a great week pain wise and now her brother is in hospital in the U.S so she is worrying about him. Dad is a bit tired which is understandable and one of my friends is going through a strange phase and I don’t know should I slap him or hug him. (Slapping him is in the lead right now by a mile)

What I have been doing lately when I have been a bit under the weather is go to my blog list and read a few of the blogs there and lo and behold I always manage to find something there to help me feel better.

Tonight I found on Superior health awaits you, (superiorhealthawaitsyou.blogspot.com) three lovely relaxing video clips. Then I found my answer.

Scorpiomoonrose, you are not meditating enough!!!

I’ve been quick fixing you see. I have been getting by on short meditations or meditating at times that are really worse than useless.

I must be practising meditation for over twenty years now. For about the last eight I have taken it a lot more seriously. I have learned some Qi Gong and have found the mediation in standing poses have brought me on leaps and bounds. I was always a tiny bit mercurial I suppose and I found that working with Qi Gong has calmed me down considerably. It hasn’t taken the edge off my tongue though; I still can be quite direct.

I do a Qi Gong routine first thing every morning called the eight pieces of brocade followed by my mediation poses. At first the standing meditations were difficult. I found my mind wandering off but then I read somewhere that in order to calm and empty the mind when it wanders off, bring it back by simply counting to ten. Surprisingly enough it works. It does centre you. Also there is six poses in the series so having to change your stance helps to keep in the right zone.
Where I have been falling back is on the longer meditations I use a few times a week in the evenings. I have some apps on my iPhone and I have some great C.D’s that I use.
Most of the meditations are around half an hour long but they must be the shortest half hours in the week.

What I have found with meditation practice is how in tune you become with the world around you. I found I noticed birds singing all the time. I would see maybe a leaf dancing in the breeze and I felt in that moment that I am part of everything in this world.  The most noticeable was how much happier I am.  Off the back of this I found the good relationships improved and the unhealthy ones were re evaluated. Some came to their natural end and others reached an understanding and shifted to a better place. The most important thing for me was a feeling that I am a free spirit, free to be myself and also free to change whenever I need to. I don’t need to accept anything as my lot. I can acknowledge that I have learned something new; I can take this new lesson on board and do what feels right with it.

I started writing again as part of this process and I think it has helped so much with how I write and how I see as a writer. I also find that I can go to a deeper place to find what I need emotionally to build the character or the scene I am working on. In some ways I meditate on what I am trying to create and I have a more effective creative process than I had before.  Sometimes I thought I didn’t know what I was going to write and by just centring I had a head full of words in no time at all.

In this crazy world of ours and in times when the card game of life has dealt you a hand that could be better at least by meditating and having this time to yourself you can embrace the reassurance that when the cards are dealt again as they are throughout the days and weeks and seasons of this life the next hand is going to be a royal flush!

And I may not have to slap my friend after all.

Keep smiling.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Cool Cream Hero

I know I don’t usually appear so soon again especially after being missing for so long but this is the beauty of owning a web book (I’m showing off now). That and the fact I work in Dublin City Centre and the Queens visit has led to a lock down, I am spending my lunchtime blogging instead of gadding around the shops.

I promised I would relate my experiences making skin cream.  I was a bit nervous until I had the run of things but in honesty the lovely people at www.aromantics.co.uk  make the kit so easy to use.

I originally found Aromatics by accident. I saw an article in the newspaper saying they sold Aloe Vera powder and I thought it woI promised I would relate my experiences making skin cream.  I was a bit nervous until I had the run of uld be useful. My Mother was having allergic reactions to different lotions so I thought the powder would be worth a try. So I checked the website and saw all they have on offer.

I decided on the skin cream starter kit and sent away for it. My initial reaction was to buy everything on the website but I controlled myself and went with the skin cream kit.

When it arrived I really had not expected everything to be so organized. The pack has each ingredient already weighed and bagged which is a huge help. All the necessary oils are included along with a proper thermometer. Also included is a bag of plastic jars to put your newly made cream into. All I really had to buy was two stainless steel bowls, and I just used my usual cooking pots as a double boiler. I almost forgot but I bought a cheap as chips spatula as well.

I bought glass jars off the website too as I am not a big fan of plastic but I used some glass jars that were destined for my local bottle bank which worked out fine.

The instruction leaflet is very straight forward and easy to follow. I’m not usually good with written instructions but these were really good and clear.

The easiest thing to do is lay out the ingredients for each stage. There is a water stage and a fat stage with ingredients for both in the pack.  For the water stage you need to use spring water, which isn’t in the pack. All the ingredients for the fat stage are there. There is a third stage to add ingredients and then the last stage is optional, you can decide to add scented oils if you wish.
So I took up my position at the cooker. I used the ancient chocolate melting method, with the two bowls over a pot each of hot water. For the fat stage the ingredients are added in the stated order on the recipe leaflet and you just watch them melt. For the water stage the ingredients are added to the freshly boiled spring water and mixed. Then it’s just a matter of temperature testing to make sure both are at the right levels at the same time to add to each other. I had to move the mixes on and off the heat to get this right but it’s not a hassle.

When both mixes are ready they are added together. At this stage you have to be a bit careful. The fat mix is carefully added to the water mix in a steady stream and mixed well as you go. I had an old hand mixer for this and because the ingredients are so safe washing the mixer in the dishwasher and using it again on food would be fine.
 The only reason I bought special bowls was that I read somewhere that certain cakes don’t mix properly if there is anything in the bowl you are using. I am fussy with my cakes but that is just me. I would say that it is perfectly fine to use your own bowls if you are cool with that.  Then the waiting begins again for the mixture to cool to the right temperature for the next ingredients

These ingredients are mixed in as soon as the cream reaches the right temperature as per the recipe leaflet. At this stage the cream is cooling and is the right consistency. It actually looks and feels like moisturiser.

  Finally, when the mix has reached a lower temperature again, you can add any essential oil you want. I divided the mixture and made one half patchouli scented in keeping with the aging hippie thing and the other half I made rose scented because Rose is my favourite scent.

I found the easiest way to fill the jars was with to load an old icing bag with the cream and pipe it into the jar. I’m sure a sandwich bag with the corner cut out of it would work fine too. After that my batch was ready.

The longest part the process is the cooling. You spend a good bit of time watching to get everything to the right temperature and that does mean a bit of hanging around. I found it an evening job really because I just think while it is such an easy process I wouldn’t want to stop and leave it while I had to do something else.

The finished result is a lovely soft cream. It is very light but unlike other light creams I have used in the past it doesn’t soak into the skin to nothing. I use it as a face and a body cream and it is lovely to use.

I have a bit of a skin problem, nothing major I am just prone to dry skin in some areas and spots at other times. Also I get some mad itching if I eat certain foods and the cream has been perfect for all of these as they have flared up. Best of all for me is that I know exactly what is in the cream. There are so many weird chemicals in some of our cosmetics such as hormone unbalances and strange metals so I know exactly what I am putting on my skin.

It’s the old saying, taking care of me inside and out!

I haven’t simplified the process, it really is as easy as I say. The time consuming part is just the temperature watching but the process itself is very straight forward. If you can cook a meal, you can make skin cream from this pack.  I would say to anyone considering giving it a go, go for it. The aromantics website is a great site with loads of helpful stuff so there is nothing to fear.

Go on, give it a go!

Keep smiling.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Life and other Sagas

It is nearly a month since the aging hippie last put in an appearance in blogspace. It wasn’t supposed to be that way but life has an annoying habit of taking up my time.

A small series of sagas have taken place and seem to have grabbed my pal, father time, and whisked him past me at breakneck speed while I stood there with my gob open thinking it can’t be Sunday yet!!

Saga one.  Not cool.

My aunt was rushed in hospital on Easter Saturday. She wasn’t in the best of fettle for a fortnight but seemed to be getting better in herself. Then, she took a bit of turn and as a result has had surgery. She is doing fine considering. Apart from thinking there was a bomb scare at the hospital and she had to stay in her bed, thinking the man beside her is a homeless man who gets into any bed for a rest and mistaking her bed control for her pain killer pump and sending herself up to great heights she is ok

I am close to auntie b and as she has been in shaky health for a few years (2 valves replaced in her heart and a few minor issues) I keep an eye on her. She taught me how to bake as a kid among other stuff and you don’t forget the good people in your life. She has been a great support to me since mum had to move in with me due to her being wheelchair bound from side effects of a certain drug. Mum and Dad live in a rural area so the local hospital wouldn’t be great which is why I insisted they take temporary lodging with me.  It’s been interesting!

Saga two. Kinda cool.

When mum and dad moved here Auntie B took their dog. My dog, Shankly, was alive at the time and was too old and ill to cope with a younger fitter dog tearing around his garden. No one thought mum would be ill for so long but her dog was happy with B. As it happens two of her neighbours would borrow him for walks as one, a lady, felt safer walking with a dog and the other, a gent, likes to walk in the park but fears being mistaken for a pervert walking alone. (So much for our society)
When my darling dog passed, B kept mums dog as he had his friends. But in the light of saga one I now have Spud the dog. He is good mostly but when he gets bored he resorts to kleptomania. His favourites are socks from the washing machine and dad’s cigarette lighters.

Saga three. So cool I could explode with happiness!

My brother came home three days after Easter with the latest edition to our family. He and my sister in law adopted a little boy, aged one. Not only am I auntie at last I am a god mother too. It doesn’t get much cooler than that. He is an angel child. And the best thing to happen to us since ……!!!!

Saga four. Birds

This is a little off chronologically but I have been minding my brother’s budgie since he and my sis in law had to go and get the angel child. I have my own albino budgie, paisley, who is hilarious and now I have Suarez on a temporary basis. These two feathered lunatics are priceless and will deservedly get a blog of their own.

With me so far?

I have my semi invalid mum with me, along with my dad who divides his time between here and his home, an aunt in hospital who is scatty after surgery, a kleptomaniac dog, two deranged budgies, an angel child for a nephew who was christened last week and oh I nearly forgot I went down with a dose of norovirus for a few days in the middle of all this.  Do I get forgiven for lack of blogging?

I promise (especially to mammydoolittle) that the next blog is the skin cream making update. And I won’t be missing so long ever again. Why? Because I just bought one of those little baby notebook laptops. It isn’t great memory wise but at least I can grab it and blog on like a martini any time any place any where. Provided I can get the thing set up!

Did I mention I pulled a muscle in my ankle trying to walk in heels at the Christening.

Keep smiling.