Tag Archives: weasels

Getting an education and learning a lesson.

Me, at 17. Confirms your worst fears, doesn't it?

I promised myself that this year I would take some kind of course, and the first one that has come up is the “Write it forward” workshop. I’ve signed up for the “Building your Author Brand” class, because it applies to me as a playwright as much as it applies to those aspiring novelists out there. It’s run by Kristen Lamb, my Social Media guru and author of “We Are Not Alone”

It’s just the course I’ve been looking for: It’s relevant to the work I WANT to be doing, is available over the net, and doesn’t take more time than I can spare from Weasel wrangling, greeting shoppers and writing award-winning plays.

So that’s me getting an education. Learning the lesson was much more unpleasant. Part of my job at the World’s Largest Home Improvement Retailer is to make sure the people slipping out through the In door aren’t doing so with power tools hidden under their hats. Almost all of them aren’t. But on Saturday a couple came through my door and they made me suspicious. Once they had been and gone, I compared notes with a manager and we discovered how they had contrived to steal a modest amount of stuff under our very noses. I was angry, with the thieves and with myself for not acting sooner on my suspicion.

Imagine my amazement yesterday afternoon when the same guy came back. Not only came back, but smiled at me and announced “I’m back again!” He obviously believed that his theft had gone unnoticed and he was back again. Obviously I’m not going to go into details of his method, but he set things up to pull the same stunt again. This time I was prepared and did one simple thing that proved he was stealing something. He went nuts, barged me and my fellow associate aside and legged it. We’re not allowed to attempt to restrain anyone, so I simply followed him in case he was getting into a car. No such luck.

So he wasn’t led away in chains, cursing my intervention, but I don’t think he’ll be back anytime soon. Sadly, now I look at everyone who comes in with suspicion, and I have a knot in my stomach when anyone approaches the door with a full cart. It’s never been a joyous job, never been a laugh a minute, but I don’t like to think that this one greedy thief has soured it completely.

PS: The photo? Well, that was the last time I was in a proper full-time education course. My year at Portsmouth University doesn’t count because the course was rubbish.

Contradiction : a situation in which inherent factors, actions, or propositions are inconsistent

It’s the end of February, but feels more like a time of contradictions. Eldest Weasel is visiting the local High School for taster days, but at the same time she’s more involved in her elementary school than ever before, with choir, band, speeches, decorating committees. The Tinier Weasels received excellent reports recently, but both still need help staying focussed on tasks, both at home and school. Mrs Dim is happier than ever with her job, but the cold morning starts are tough, and the glimpses of sunshine through her office window only serve to remind her there’s loads of plans for the garden she hasn’t got to grips with. I’m glad that my day job hours have been cut back, though annoyed that brings in less money. Then again, with more time at home, why don’t I have more writing to show for it? And if I’m spending writing time doing domestic tasks, why isn’t the house spotless and the children geniusses..genii..cleverer?

The weather isn’t helping. The sun is beautiful, a very welcome sight after the combination of rain and snow that seem to have been taking turns since August ended, but it’s COLD out there! So cold that yesterday I wore a hat that makes me look stupid, but it’s warm and I didn’t care.

The contradictions are seeping into my writing time too. I spent yesterday swinging wildly between projects – I lost an hour searching for a file I know I had started, but it wasn’t anywhere it should have been. It wasn’t a lot of work, only five pages or so, but the thought of starting over was too depressing. In a fit of madness I researched a completely different career, and then sent a spur of the moment pitch to a new magazine. Maybe it’s not the Tiny Weasels that need some lessons on focussing.

Today’s “To Do” list is manageable, and best of all, it includes some things that are just fun. With the weasels on a Pro-D day (Teacher training, for you UK types) we can take the Dog off on a decent walk, one that ends at a cafe with Hot Chocolate and Muffins. It’s Tidy Friday, the new Trasler Tradition that says everyone piles into housework on Friday afternoon before tea. We all have our allotted jobs and two hours to get it all done, preventing the place looking like a pigsty for the weekend. In the spirit of renewal and cleansing, I have three more items to post on Craigslist – the last few things went in a matter of hours.

We booked our tickets for the return visit to the UK last night. It’s funny, how hard it’s been to press that final button – waiting for the price to drop, or the dates to mesh better, or…well, for some kind of sign, I guess. We all want to see our friends and family, we know the trip will be epic and fun, but both Mrs Dim and I have our reservations about going (The Weasels are hyped about the flight, then seeing friends and going to the beach at Bournemouth. Oh, and we’ve promised Eldest Weasel we’ll take in the Dr Who Experience.) I’m worried about jet lag, driving, volcanoes, getting to see everyone, accidents, terrorism, rogue hedgehogs…pretty much everything. But we’re going. It’s part of the adventure.

2011: The year of the return visit.

My first car, after I paid the price for overconfidence.

It’s been something people have asked quite frequently over the last two years: “Have you been back to the UK?”. I was always surprised to be asked – moving to a different continent was a big undertaking, after all. We’re two years in and I only just feel like we’ve got all the variables sorted out. I feel settled, so yes, maybe now is the time to go back and see friends and family.

We’re at the start of the planning process, and with five people to transport, it’s a lot to figure out. We’re looking at calendars, at flight prices, at suitcases – this isn’t going to happen in the next couple of weeks, or even the next couple of months. But we’re odds-on for this year.

The thing is, I’m scared. Not of the friends and family, obviously. It’ll be great to see them. What scares me is…Well, a couple of things.

Firstly, the silly fear. Driving. I’m not a good driver. My Driving Examiner told me at 18 that I had passed the test by the skin of my teeth, that I drove like someone who’d been driving for ten years, and he’d hate to see how I’d be driving ten years from now. At 18, that kind of statement makes no difference whatsoever, and I lasted nearly a year before writing off my car. Over here, the pace of driving is slower. My car has developed a worrying vibration at sixty miles an hour, but you know what? I don’t often feel that vibration in everyday driving. I’ve become accustomed to the Vancouver driving style, to the quieter roads, the lack of bottlenecks. For nearly two years I’ve been driving on the wrong side of the road in an automatic, and when we step off the plane after ten hours of flying and three hours of that weird “Sort of picking up bags and doing Customs but mostly just walking through the airport”, I’m going to have to get into a manual shift car and drive on the OTHER side of the road through English traffic on English roads. Do you think someone could make some sort of announcement, for the safety of other people?

And the second fear, the important one, is getting to see enough people. We’re lucky enough to have a good number of friends, but thanks to our pinball lifestyle, they’re spread far and wide across the UK. For some, travel is a challenge, and for others it may be an awkward time to ask them to scoot across the country to say hi. As someone who once spent five hours on the road in the UK, taking the family to visit friends and then had to turn back when an accident closed the only access, I can appreciate that crossing the UK to see us may not be easy, but what a shame to fly all that way and miss out on seeing folks who are so close (in Canadian terms, at least.)

So this post is part confession – I’m scared – part apology – We may not see you, sorry . But we’re flying back for the best reasons, to see family, to catch a friend’s wedding, to give the weasels a chance to see THEIR friends. If we call you and say we’re around, we’d love to see you. And if we don’t get a chance to call this time around, don’t panic – there’ll be other visits. I just might not be driving at all by then.

Happy New Year, eh?

Watching the eagles at Brackendale - this year, we actually saw some...

The trees are still up and there are still strings of lights festooning houses down every street, but people’s thoughts have turned from Christmas to the coming year. And, of course, to the year that’s past.

It’s a funny thing about this emigration lark. We didn’t arrive in Canada on the first of January, but it’s hard to avoid thinking of this as the end of our second year.  End of the year is what it’s all about, after all.

One of the truths we’ve come to understand in this second year, is that it was both easier and harder than the first. The things that seemed so strange and difficult at first have become everyday. I know where to shop, I know how to get to a doctor, dental checkups are a snap. Mrs Dim and I both have jobs. We have friends, and as much of a social life as we can cope with. So much for the hard things. But this year we have felt some of the strain of being so far from family and old friends. Technology has been a big help, with Skype, email and FaceBook keeping us up to date with events and even helping us send real-time video greetings to my family on Christmas morning, but it’s not the same as the regular visits to and by friends. Or even the sporadic visits. Or those ‘Didn’t know we were coming, but found ourselves in the area” visits. The recent ructions over my working weekends and weasel wrangling showed us how much we missed the support of our families when it comes to getting a break from the weasels, or giving them a break from us.

A stranger relaxation comes from the acceptance that we’re here for the long haul. Mrs Dim was saying today that she’s not in such a tearing hurry to try all the winter sports on offer, or visit every corner of British Columbia RIGHT NOW, because she finally feels that there will be time for all of that. We’ve accepted, for example, that Middle Weasel really doesn’t want to give skiing a go again this winter. She got cold last year, she said, and she doesn’t want to do it again. That was a blow, because if she’s not skiing, then one of us has to not ski too. Brilliant grammar, Dim, try again. If she’s not skiing, then one of us has to stay with her, and the other has to ski with Eldest Weasel (who is competent) and Tiniest Weasel (who is a natural disaster on skis, hurtling down the slopes like a football in a helmet, but armed with two sharpened poles….). So, as you read this, I shall be off to the Mountain with Eldest Weasel only, taking my last ski of the year. Also, as it happens, my second ski of the year, but I’ll take what I can get.

We’re homeowners now, able to bore folks with our tales of renovation, and feeling a lot more Canadian because we have a piece of the land to call our own. In a year we’ve gone from being Newbies, renting and living off foreign earnings, to landed Canadians, paying tax and contributing to our community.

Back in March, celebrating our first anniversary of landing, I said we’d pretty much run out of firsts, but I think I spoke too soon. I’m finding, like a lot of people, that there are many, many firsts in a lifetime, and many more that you don’t regret having to do again and again. In the year to come we’re facing Eldest Weasel going up to High School, further employment ambitions and business expansions and the hope of a Christmas trip to the UK. Whether those things will be problems or challenges we’ll have to wait and see, but we’re ready for them either way.

Happy New Year, eh?

I hear those sleigh bells ringing…

Eldest Weasel makes a Rockin' reindeer in the school production of "North Pole Musical"

For many people here in the Greater Vancouver area, Christmas has been coming since Hallowe’en bowed out on November the first. Folks round this way really seem to enjoy decorating their houses, so barely had the month changed before the giant spiders’ webs and inflatable Frankensteins were being pulled down and replaced with miles and miles of twinkling strings of lights and inflatable snowmen and Santas. Since the World’s Largest Home Improvement Retailer skipped straight over Hallowe’en and started flogging Christmas decos way back in mid-October, I was a little jaded about the whole thing, but recently Mrs Dim and I have taken the odd stroll out along our neighbourhood of an evening, and I have to say I’m charmed. Yes, by UK standards, I suppose the houses look a little gaudy, and there’s an austerity measures voice in my head that mutters about the electricity bill all these people must have to pay in January, but look, it’s PRETTY, ok?

If the lights are going up and the evenings are drawing in, then the weasels must be performing in the school play, right? I fear so, but this being Vancouver, the multi-cultural melting pot of the most laid-back country in the Northern Hemisphere, we won’t risk anything as controversial as tea-towel wearing re-enactments of the Nativity. Nope, last year’s fiesta was a play that stressed the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (a common theme for the school that year) and this year we had the North Pole Musical, where the inhabitants of Santa’s workshops competed to see who would get to perform in the musical. This year the performance was by the elder two age groups in the school, so the singing was more tuneful and there was less “Ahh, doesn’t he look lovely?” from the watching parents.

Middle Weasel had a less demanding role - First Flower in the three-minute Nutcracker

As always, I was torn between enjoying the show and wishing I had written something for them. At the climax of the piece, Santa, Mrs Claus and Crystal Snowflake sing a song about the heart of Christmas, which seems to be about, you know, peace and love, and hope and generally nice but vague concepts. Because, you know, it’s Christmas. A time for presents, and…stuff.

I can appreciate that not everyone at the weasels’ school wants to celebrate Christmas as a Christian festival, but recently we (being TLC Creative) were asked to consider writing a secular piece for a schools Christmas show. I was hesitant, because I dread getting to that moment when one of the characters steps forward to talk about the true meaning of Christmas. I’m sorry, but if you’re atheist, agnostic or of another religion (all of which are fine by me, go right ahead…) then there is no true meaning of Christmas for you. Just as Eid, Ramadan and Diwali mean nothing at all to me. I won’t stop you celebrating them, and if you ask me to come along and hold up a lantern in a Diwali celebration, why I’d love to. Sounds like a neighbourly thing to do. But does it mean anything to me? Nope. So just as I wouldn’t write a secular play on the true meaning of Diwali being what draws a group of street kids to reform their thieving ways and become teachers, I don’t feel comfortable writing about the True Spirit of Christmas being to give out presents and be nice to people you don’t like the rest of the year.

This feeling comes round every year and it makes Mrs Dim cross because she has always worked in a multi-faith, multi-cultural environment, whereas for most of my working life I’ve been in a dark room, staring at the computer screen, so she knows it’s not about the True Meaning of Christmas, it’s about making people take part in Christmas when they don’t want to. People of other beliefs have no option about Christmas, she says patiently every year, the whole place (UK, Canada, wherever) closes over the holiday and some people don’t want to celebrate Christmas. Saying “Happy Holidays” may set your teeth on edge, Mr Grumpy, but it doesn’t offend.

So let me apologise. I know a fair few atheists, agnostics, and folks who just find the whole “Them and Us”ness of religion too much bother. Fair play to you, not going to convert you. You are not a rugby ball, as I point out in one of my plays. But please, let me wish you a Merry Christmas, with no ill intent, no offense meant. I hope it brings a little light into the darkest time of the year, even if it’s only from the strings of lights around your tree.

The house I grew up in…..

One of the places I've called home.

The weasels were a major reason for our emigration. We wanted them to have a home, and life with the RAF meant a lot of moving around. I worried about their childhood being little more than a series of half-forgotten friends and a collection of school photos where the uniforms changed year after year.

I moved around a little myself as a child. I was born ‘Oop North and managed seven years in Sunderland before we came south. That’s long enough to have an accent you could bend steel on, by the way, which is a tough thing to carry in a village school of only fifty kids, all of whom have grown up in the depths of Hampshire. We were only there a handful of years before we moved again, and then in my college years we moved within that town.

All this strolling down Sentiment Lane was prompted by listening to the excellent Amanda Palmer on Kevin Smith’s Smodcast . In the session (which contains the odd rude word, please don’t be offended) she prefaced a song called “House that I grew up in” with the story of her parents telling her the house that had been her childhood home was going to be sold. She said that travelling the world and having no real base had been fine because she’d always had this home in her mind, and now that was going. That made me wonder how the Weasels might feel about their nomadic life to date – have we deprived them of an important piece of childhood’s landscape : The Family home?

So that’s why I was examining my past. I’ve been ok with the many moves since marrying Mrs Dim, and part of that was the preparation of my own roaming past. I see how Middle Weasel struggled to cope with change during her first two moves and realised that allowing her to stay and put down roots at an early age might have exacerbated that problem – someday, for some reason, we would have had to move, and then the explosion might have been nuclear, instead of only…well, conventional doesn’t seem the right word.

Mrs Dim’s folks lived in the same house for thirty years. Almost until the time we moved to Canada we could go visit and she could show the kids the room that used to be her bedroom. She could describe the many changes to the house, including the extra rooms that were built on while they were living there. I envied her that history, but then I never suffered that feeling of loss when the house was sold.

As we have travelled around the UK, home has been the place where we keep our stuff, the place where the five of us are together. The apartment we stayed in on landing was as much home to us as the first rental house, as much as the RAF house in St Athan. For now, the New Wonkey House is shaping up to be a pretty good home, and I hope we’ll stay here for a long time. For one thing, it’s going to be years before I get round to sorting out my garage room.

As the first snow falls…

The youngest weasels examine Canadian snow for the first time.

All this last week, Eldest Weasel has been checking the weather forecast every morning. On my days in work, I’ve been watching happy shoppers struggle out with armfuls of de-icer, sand, snow shovels and Christmas lights. And at least one Barbeque, but hey, it was a bargain, and it’s a healthy way to cook…

I get nervous when the forecast talks about snow. Judging by all the de-icer and snow shovels, so do a lot of other folks around here. I’ve had little experience with serious snow as an adult. I remember my parents having to cope with terrible winter weather when we lived in Sunderland, but the only dangerous snow driving I did in the UK was when the car spun out on a corner on some black ice. Since we were only doing about ten miles an hour, it was a stately revolution that ended with us facing the wrong way on an empty road. A little slower than those Tea-cup rides for toddlers at fairgrounds. We just sat there for a second, said “Huh.” and drove on.

The year we arrived here in Canada they were just recovering from an unusual amount of snow – it doesn’t normally fall on Downtown and the suburbs, you understand, just on the mountains. Vancouverites weren’t sure how you went about clearing your drive without throwing the snow onto your neighbours’ drive. They certainly weren’t sure about driving in snow. Gary, a supervisor at work, gave me this sage advice:

“When it snows and you’re waiting at a red light, don’t pull away when that light goes green. Count to ten, and I bet you there’ll be someone come sliding right through the intersection…”

Last year there was no major snowfall, but we did have a couple of white days, and on one of those I was driving the kids down a steep hill that also turned a corner. On the bend I felt the wheels lose traction, and in a very male reaction I snapped off the stereo, yelled at the kids to be quiet and got a death grip on the wheel. We were fine, and the snow melted the next day, but I can’t help remembering that I wasn’t cool and calm under pressure, just very, very scared.

If there IS the big snowfall this year, I may just hand in my notice, let Mrs Dim drive the bigger and heavier car to work and walk the kids to school every day. Frostbite may be preferable to car accident.

Here's today's forecast....DOOM!

5 things you should know about working from home

When this was all I did, I kept EVERYTHING to hand

I’ve been thinking a lot about working from home recently. Partly because I’ve been thinking a lot about the way I work, and partly because my friend Lucy sent me this: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/working_home That made me laugh, but it’s all true.

I’ve told the story of my becoming a full-time writer many times in this blog, and if you’ve read through my back-posts, you’ll have seen me go back to being a part-time writer. Now I feel it’s more important than ever that I capitalise on my chances to work from home. I keep the thought of going back to working full-time at home as my ultimate goal.

Five Things You Should Know About Working From Home

  1. It may not be for you. Sorry to be blunt, but it isn’t easy. And there’s two parts to that. It isn’t easy to be productive in the home environment, and it isn’t easy to find a job that’ll let you work from home in the first place. Yes, people will sell you books explaining how telecommuting is changing the face of the workplace, but I dare you to go ask your boss if you can work from home. He’s likely to say “For god’s sake, you’re a Zoo Keeper! How are you going to feed the lions? Facebook?” Ok, he’ll only say that if you’re a zookeeper, but I bet he doesn’t agree.
  2. Working in your pyjamas isn’t as much fun as you might think. No, really. I see this used as a justification all the time. Folks saying “I used to have to wear power suits every day, and now I sit at the computer in my pyjamas and make $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!”. For one thing, unless you’ve got a computer in your pyjamas, that sentence is grammatically incorrect. For another, how businesslike are you going to feel, in your pyjamas? I once had to do a serious interview with a genuine TV personality. She returned my call unexpectedly early, and I found it hard to remain detached and focussed on taking notes because I was in my dressing gown while talking to Charlie Dimmock. By the way, she doesn’t know this, so please don’t tell her. One traumatised person is enough.
  3. It can be lonely. Just run through in your head how many people you talk to every day at work. Even if you hate the people you work with, can you imagine spending the day alone? You like the thought of that? What about the next day? And the next. And the next. Every day, just you and your PC, only communicating with others by phone or email. You will find yourself cruising Facebook, looking for live users to chat to for the pure human interaction. Well, that’s my excuse. If you find yourself on You Tube looking at kittens, give it up.
  4. An unstructured day can be unhealthy. Now I know that some of you can spend waaay too long in the office. One of Mrs Dim’s first bosses had his desk next to the front window and would always be visible in his office until seven or eight, his face glowing in the light from his monitor. Turned out he was playing Solitaire most of the time, and he ended up having a heart attack at his desk. What was my point? Hang on. *pause* Oh, yeah. even if you like to hang it on at the end of the work day, there are little clues to keep you in the regular rhythm of work. You probably can’t get into the office before 6am. You see everyone else going to lunch between 11am and 3pm (FROM 11am to 3pm if you work in advertising) so you know it’s lunchtime. And at some point they’ll turn off the lights and lock the doors so the cleaners can get to work. If you’re childless and working from home, who’s going to regulate YOUR working day? You are, that’s who. So if you let lunchtime slide because you’re on a roll, or start working at five in the morning, no one’s going to stop you. But no one’s going to make you go outside either, no one’s going to make you take a break, make you eat something. There are days I go outside to collect the weasels from school and I am surprised by the sunshine. If the light’s bright outside, I close the blinds so I can see the words on the screen, and then four hours later I step out the front door….It’s a wonder I don’t disintegrate into a pile of ashes.
  5. People won’t believe you’re working. If you’re a parent returning to the work environment via working from home, the chances are you’ll know other parents who aren’t out at work all day. They may well believe it’s ok to drop in on you at coffee time (read: any time their kids are at school/playgroup/college/scoring dope) and talk your ears off while you’re wondering if your partner will be angry there’s no money coming in from your business today. If you’re at HOME, you’re not at WORK, folks, no matter how fancy your home office is. If you’re working, don’t answer the door. If you answer the door, don’t blame me.

Slightly less clutter, slightly more productivity in slightly less time

So now I’m trying to empower my business, big up my personal brand, claim my webvibe and…you know, earn some money. Today (and I still can’t believe I did this) I decided to take some positive steps towards increasing sales of my e-book (www.tiny.cc/ghfo9) and so I went online and discovered the excellent blog by Kristen Lamb . I followed her advice and bought her e-book ‘We are not alone“. Yes, read that bit again. I wanted to promote my e-book, so I went out and bought an e-book. Should I just have sent myself that  money? All will be revealed when I have read through “We are not alone” and followed the advice within. If I can consolidate my social media platforms and expand my webpresence without losing my grip on my brand….I’ll be very surprised.

Blogtrotting

Use your computer with caution

I didn't have a relevent photo for this one.....

That was a title that made me laugh, then I realised it would have no significance for 90% of the people who stumble across this blog. Never mind, I’m not explaining.

I’ve noticed that my blog entries over the past month have fractured into two distinct streams – the real life commentaries, talking about the riveting renovations and my lack of progress in taking the writing world by storm, and the more Meta pieces about issues that I think might be of interest to folks who don’t know me. When I found myself sitting down to write an entry solely because I thought it might turn up on google searches, I had to stop and think about why I was writing in the first place.

 Yes, I check my readership stats obsessively and I’m unreasonably jealous of those lucky bloggers who make the front page of Freshly Pressed and get thousands of hits but there should be a more pressing reason to blog than getting the big numbers, right? I call myself a writer, and that’s because when I need to express something, or explore an idea, I reach for a pen or a keyboard, not a camera or a paintbrush. This is who I am, it’s what I do.

I’ve been involved in some discussions over on LinkedIn, the business networking site, with colleagues from “PWAC” about the importance of Social Networking and using it to boost your business. That’s why I moved my posts over here to WordPress, as you’ll know if you’ve read them all. I used to have a blog on Yahoo 360, which moved to another place (Multiply) when 360 closed. Let me go off on a tangent for a minute here…I’ll get back to Linked In, I promise.

360 was an online community thing, a bit like Facebook. I had a group of virtual friends, we all blogged and commented and had online talks.  Some of my friends I only knew through their avatars.

Bowzer, for example, will always be a small dog to me, because that’s how he presented himself and he never broke character.

 Kate was a real person, and although she preferred to use Gil Elvegren pictures for her avatar, she appeared in person a couple of times, so I knew what she looked like. This was back in the days when there were fewer weasels and I was just beginning on my great writing adventure. I had more time to waste in front of the PC and these people filled that time and probably a gap in my life too – I had moved far from home and missed having friends to talk to. The important thing for this entry was that my blog back then was a personal joke. I wrote what I wanted to write, I wrote things that were deliberately silly, took joy in including photos that made me laugh and had no relevence to the subject. I was not motivated by anything but the urge to write. Yes, I wanted my friends to read and comment, but their approval and laughter was the only goal I had, not increased business success.

Back to Linked In. Someone posed the question “Why do we have a Linked In group?”  and I used it to whine about my lack of success through social networking – not enough people have bought my book, I’m not getting calls from agents etc etc. I got a gentle slap down from others in the group pointing out how I should be doing the social network thing. It comes down to using social networking as a business tool, and that’s when I pull up short. There are days when I’m out walking the dog and a dialogue is running in my head. I would get rid of it by writing it down, but I can’t use it in my blog because that’s not the wisest business course. I worry about who’s going to read it and what they’ll think. I’m self-censoring. That’s a good thing if I’m whining again, but does that mean I should be running two blogs, one for me and one for business? What happens if more people read the fun one than the business one? What happens if no one reads either one?

Mrs Dim says the posts I put up are interesting enough but too pedestrian and I guess I agree with that. This one certainly is, but unless I’m laying the ideas out, I can’t get my head around them. I intended to talk about the blogs that I follow, the ones that I read on a daily/weekly basis, but I guess that can wait until next time. Meanwhile, in the spirit of capitalising on the power of Social Networking: BUY MY BOOK! (www.tiny.cc/ghfo9) VISIT MY WEBSITE: www.tlc-creative.co.uk  Follow me on Twitter! Send me MONEY!

Talkin’ ’bout my …..Renovation…

This week has been long-awaited. By me, anyway. The Eldest Weasels are off on their first residential camp. They’re probably going up the climbing wall in their kayaks right now, or practicing archery as they jump off the pontoon into the lake. Tiniest Weasel is too tiny to attend, so each morning I drive her over to a day camp at the local Heritage Village. (What? You don’t have a local heritage village? Well, if you’re in the UK, you probably live in one…) Anyway, the upshot of all this Weasel Absence is an increased likelihood of me achieving things. On the days when I am not Greeting, I have been rushing off to….The World’s Largest Home Improvement Retailer! Yes, strange but true, because this time I’m going in as a customer. It’s quite a thrill to go in through the main doors, click my fingers at the staff and demand service.

 

I’m going in to work on my days off because the Reno work has stepped up again. We’ve met the man who’s doing our new roof, and it’s going to happen very soon. Trouble is, there are a couple of other jobs that we need to take care of first.

We said that we’d demolish the old stairs that lead up to where the back door isn’t. But we can’t do that until we’ve taken down the porch roof over where the back door used to be. And we can’t do THAT until we’ve plastered over the board that covers the gap that used to be the back door.

And this is how it looks at the beginning...

***Sub Note: It’s not plastering, obviously. What I should be covering the door with is STUCCO, but I’m not, for several reasons.

1. My store does not sell stucco.

2.The rest of the house seems to be sheathed in some sort of reinforced concrete.

3. Stucco is stupid.

4. I can’t be bothered.

Instead I’m using a mix designed for another purpose entirely, chosen on the basis of some muttered advice given by a guy who was on the phone to someone else at the time. I’m mixing it using the time-honoured “That looks about right” method. END OF SUB NOTE***

I may have mentioned that I’m not a world champion at DIY. The fact that my staircase is still standing three months on is a source of wonder:

Advanced stairs - they go up AND down! And these days they look better than this too...

 So, I did research on the internet, asked for advice at work, bought a carload of kit, and eventually had to admit that I couldn’t put off starting any longer. And to be honest, starting was the easy bit, because all I had to do first was staple on the waterproof backing. Like this:

Just like wallpapering...with a staple gun!

Then I had to cut some wire mesh to the right size and staple that on. I found the easiest way to do this was to catch my trousers, arms and hands on every bit of wire so that I resembled a person who’s just run through ten miles of brambles. I made a note to buy some gloves for the next day, when I wouldn’t be doing anything that needed gloves.

Finally though, I had arrived at the part I was dreading. I had to mix the stuff and slop it on the wall. This was where it could all go horribly, horribly wrong. Could I get the mix right? Would it stay on the wall, or all dribble off to make a messy lump on the floor? I mixed the first batch by hand, literally mushing the powder into the water with my bare, scratched hands. Then I read the warning on the bag that said the mixture was corrosive. YIKES! I loaded up my trowel and set to before the mixture…er…set too. An hour later, I had almost all the door covered and no more mixture:

As darkness fell, so did my enthusiasm...

So today I swung by work one more time and picked up a couple more bags. Wearing my new gloves I mixed with a stick and got the rest of the door covered and slapped on a second coat. Now I reckon I’m one or two bags away from bringing the door up to the level of the walls, and we can set about demolishing the porch roof for tomorrow. Then I might get around to doing to writer-type work again. On the plus side, the e-book (www.tiny.cc/ghfo9) has been selling again and I’m itching to get back to some older projects. It’s all working with the hands, folks.

Yes, it's scruffy, but when we take the stairs away it'll also be ten feet off the ground, and who's going to notice?