Thursday, December 27

Take every opportunity...

I found out this afternoon that my dear friend Gwen died yesterday. She was the kind of fun, loving person that touches many people's lives. I'm really glad that after many heartaches and setbacks, she found such great happiness with her husband Mark.

I'm also glad that I told her I loved her many, many times.

" In a man's life, his time is but a moment, his being a mere flux, his senses a dim glimpse, his body food for the worms, and his soul a restless eddy … the things of the body pass like a flowing stream; life is a brief sojourn, and one's mark in this world is soon forgotten."

Marcus Aurelius

Sunday, December 23

How to cook a Polar Bear

My lovely friend Annie sent me a hot pet for my birthday. At first I thought it would be mean to heat him in the microwave, but a nasty cold (nearly gone thanks) soon put paid to that. My 'hot husband' tends to squeal when I place my cold paws on him!

[Global warming notwithstanding, it does seem rather gratuitious, to make a hottie out of an Artic animal!]

My granite heart melted somewhat when I shut the door.

But what the hell - in for a penny...fry Knut!

Don't worry - he survived, and got to sleep with me lucky beast!

Tuesday, December 18

The Joy of Lego

I'm full of cold and feeling very sorry for myself - and our washing machine has broken down and we can't get a new one 'til the new year. However, a friend at work has passed on a really nifty site, where you can make your own Lego avatar. I think the smile is just right!

This time of year always makes me think about Lego, as my bro. always used to request some huge set or other.

My Uncle found some of our Lego behind his sofa a few years ago. The pieces has telltale bite marks on them. Jerry used to hate me doing it, but how else do you get the damn bricks apart?

Wednesday, December 12

A little note about anger

Hmm - this rational honesty stuff is difficult. According to the book, one is supposed not to supress anger, you acknowledge it, feel it and move on. It's OK to be angry - so it looks like the tourette chef is very psychologically healthy.

There is an exercise in the book about dealing with supressed anger with a person (which is for one's own benefit, not their's):
  • Have a dialogue with them in your mind, say what you want to say, and let them talk back.
  • Ring them up and arrange a meeting. Explain that you want to clear the air.
  • Read the rest of the chapter before the meeting.

You turn the page, and the author says "Bet you didn't do it!" - and you know what? I hadn't!

There is someone I have a lot of anger towards. It all built up inside me and I ended up leaving a very angry and upset message on their mobile phone, and I haven't seen or heard from them since.

Am I brave enough to call them and arrange a meeting? I can't help feeling that it would just rake over old coals and do more damge than good. And yet, the anger and hurt I feel gnaws away at me like a sore tooth and comes up at the strangest times.

So watch this space...


I sent this card to the folks at work via email. I'm going make a donation to Oxfam. Part of me would like to stop sending cards altogether. However, I have a fair amount of relatives and friends who aren't on email. Plus, I can't help thinking that it looked like you couldn't be bothered to make an effort.

What do you think?

Monday, December 10

Radical Honesty Conti.

Lots of peeps have asked me how I'm getting on with the whole radical honesty thing, so I thought I'd blog a bit. Having read a bit of Brad's book - I think he's a bit of a tosser, but it's stimulated a lot of thought.

As previously blogged the push behind radical honesty isn't a moral one, but rather a psycholological/health one. Interestingly, like the meditation techniques I learnt (and have let lapse!) last year, it anchors you in present experience - training you to ignore the evaluative voice in the back of the mind.

In trying to tell the truth at all times, it's made me evaluate why and when I lie. It's always because of how I THINK others are going to react to the truth, whether it's my slightly 'sexing up' an anecdote or trying to hide the fact the reason I'm not hungry is because I've been stuffing chocolate all afternoon. I want/need people to like me, to approve of me. And in the past that's meant my trying to hide my struggles, until I can't hold on any longer and break down or blow up.

So, in order to avoid the anticipated bad reaction (even if it's not an angry outburst, just a change in their view of me) - I blurt out some lie, which most of the time is so poor that it's seen through at once. Leading to guarenteed bad reaction/relationship breakdown. Or in order to make sure that people continue to want to spend time with me, I feel that I need to supply 'material' to keep them amused and to ignore my needs and feelings.

My plan, such as it is, is to keep on with the radical honesty, and monitor the consequences.

Sunday, December 9

Deck the Halls..

We've put up our Christmas tree far earlier than usual this year. For some reason, I'm really excited about Christmas this year.

The ellie isn't on the top of the tree this time. He didn't look very happy last year!

I'm not sure if the addition of Father Christmas does THAT PICTURE any favours.

There is a Dansk corner of course...

I fell for this string at the Eynsham Emporium.

Now I just have to find a Father Christmas hat for the cow.

Thursday, December 6

I sold my soul to the IEEE

Many moons ago when the issue of fibre networking standards (now replayed with WiFi of course) was boiling away nicely, I remember a colleague remarking: "Ah standards, if you don't like one you can always choose another". This has been on my mind of late, as the product I am validating at the moment is part of an Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). After years of avoiding it I've been plunged deep in to MS SharePoint2007. However, the real jungle is e-learning standards.

In theory it would be nice if all content/software/hardware was compatible with each other - hence standards. But who decides? We mainly have to think about SCORM - there are a number of different standards bodies fighting it out, including the US Defense Department, before you even think about all various interested parties in the industry. My friend Andrew chairs and industry software standard committee and I really feel for him. I need to understand this stuff to test if our products are compliant, but as no-one has yet agreed what they have to be complaint with, it's all a bit Kafkaesque.

In the meantime I'll listen to the nice CD I was given as a late birthday present and devise tests to make sure students can't do evil things to each others avatars.

Note to self: Don't listen to Johnny Cash singing 'One' at work - audible sobbing tends to spook your colleagues.

Wednesday, December 5

There once was a Lucy in Old Amsterdam...

The Boy was in Amsterdam last week and I went along as a WAG. I'd never been before, and I was suprised at how pretty it is.

There were lovely things to look at everywhere. However, the weather was atrocious, so I didn't take many photos.

I was rather taken by this owl.

This ex-Lutheren church was Adam's conference centre. It was fun to have a window onto The Boy's work world, and put some faces to names...aah Bob Buckingham, you are a god...:-).

While The Boy was working away, I was on the culture trail. As well as having a very nice Indonesian meal and finding a little beer place, I took in:
And no, I didn't go to a 'Coffee Shop'. In fact, there was one afternoon when I desperately want a cup of coffee and a sit down - and all I could find were sex shops and spliff emporia. I got quite grumpy!
I can't wait to go again!

Thursday, November 22

Authenticity and Radical Honesty

A little while ago, I decided that I was going to try and make my life more authentic. It's been very hard, but my recent move into a more technical role has been part of that. I think I'm closer to the role that suits me, rather than the type of job that I've always thought I 'ought' to be doing or 'ought' to be good at.

The Boy heard an interview with the Dr Brad Blandon. He advocates what he calls radical honesty - to tell the truth at all times. Not from some Kantian imperative, but because it is more psychologically healthy. This includes social 'white lies'. I don't want to give the impression that I'm a total miscreant, but I do lie (hard to believe I know), to myself as well as others. So I've decided to implement radical honesty for a week. I wonder if anyone will notice.

Tuesday, November 20

A Letter from Eynsham

Maisie likes to vet my correspondence.

Miss T 'at home'

To celebrate my birthday we had a little 'at home' on Saturday. The cakes were made by Dr Bones' friend Jude. Jude should be made an MBE for services to cake. See yourself, she sells them at Wells Stores in Abingdon.

There was some CHEESE too...with THREE types of the wonderful Dr Karg.

Lorna gave me some amazing flowers from the Eynsham Emporium. As you can see, I didn't have a vase big enough!

Here is Peter enjoying some DRINK - as you can see he dressed exquisitely so he could be awarded more cake!

Here is David enjoying Dr Bones...I think they look like they're at different parties. The Boy thinks that Dr Bones is auditioning for a remake of 'The Lair of the White Worm'.

And here is The Boy with some cake.

A good time was had by all...I'd love to know what Leo was thinking. You can see what he's been doing!

Wednesday, November 14

Which Puppy for Anastasia?

Huw has finally caved in, and the delicious Anastasia is going to have a dog! However, she has a problem. Which of these five delightful puppies should she choose (there are two photos of each on the linked page)?
Adam likes the black and tan one; I, naturally, have homed in the slightly hopeless looking black and white one at the bottom.

Post your vote here, and I'm sure Anastasia will let us know which puppy she finally selects.

Tuesday, November 13

More on creatures I detest...

A friend of mine read my previous post and emailed me to say "you do know I'm a Tory". Eeek - that means I've snogged TWO Tories, and I thought one was too many...

Saturday, November 10

Cat Torture

Poor Billy - this whole washing business is proving quite awful for all three of us! Only EIGHT more seesions to go (and a new pair of rubber gloves to buy, as Billy ripped the back of one of A.'s last night).

Picture Perfect

Those of you that follow Lorna's blog, will know that my portrait was finished a few days ago. Here it is in place - as you can see, Lorna and I calculated the availiable space to the millimetre!

It's a very powerful piece, and I think that Lorna has managed to catch my 'essence'. She was rather worried about how The Boy would feeling sleeping both underneath as well as next to me. He looks fairly comfortable don't you think?

Or perhaps he's feeling a bit like Adam in the Sistine Chapel?

Wednesday, November 7

News from the Asylum

So – day 3 with the Test Team and I feel as if I am being drawn into a strange religious cult. The team seems to live in a state of perpetual anticipation – rather like a tuba player in an orchestra or the characters in Waiting for Godot. They wait and they wait and then suddenly, tonnes of code comes down from the heavens. And of course the code is always late, and because it’s late the test window is squeezed.

As a result the entire team is completely bonkers – the machine room with all the testing kit in it isn’t called The Asylum for nothing!

However, I’ve had more fun in the last few days than I’ve had in ages, wiggling cables; troubleshooting networks; baiting engineers and doing more registry editing than I’ve done in a lifetime! I think I’m going to like it here.

PS If you want to know more about Moby the duckling, like Lorna, he has his own blog.

Tuesday, November 6

Creatures I detest...

  • Slugs
  • Snakes
  • Tigers
  • Killer whales
  • Sharks
  • Leopard seals
  • Rats
  • Wasps
  • Insects that bite and sting
  • Men who prey on unhappy, lonely women

And I'm not that keen on gerbils or Tories.

Sunday, November 4

Season of Mists...

This is the garden at approx. 07:30 this morning. And no, I have no idea what I was doing up at that hour. The mist was quite lovely, and I half expected to see some spectral figure emerge (an evening with Dr Bones does that to a girl).

The mellow fruitfulnes is being provided by our lemon tree. Just as the gin and tonic season is ending! [If you want to read the Keats poem I'm alluding to, you can find it here, and it's worth it]

Otherwise, I was down in Kent this weekend. As you can see, 'that creature Desmond' doesn't think much of that reading lark.
Once I got back it was the usual weekend stuff - supper with friends, washing the cat and a lovely, long phone call from Huw and Anastasia. I now have to gird my loins, and get ready for a couple of weeks breaking things. I'm tempted to turn up wearing my nice, leopard skin (fake!), pointy boots. Just to start as I mean to go on...

Thursday, November 1

A Poor Crop

OK - I admit it, we neglected the garden this year, and the heavy rain in the late Spring didn't help either.

However, this was our ENTIRE aubergine crop!

Ah well, at least the cavolo nero is going strong (and very tasty) and The Boy has put some purple sprouting broccoli in. What with that, and the SINGLE butternet squash we grew, we have some produce from the garden.

Next year we will DO BETTER. After our trip to Kew I am determined to grow lots and lots of chillies. Plus some more of those lovely golden pear tomatoes, as well as the usual cherry toms, cut 'n' come again salad leaves, courgettes and squash.

Who knows? The mushroom logs may even have a crop 8-)

Tuesday, October 30

The Other Lucy Traves

One of the nice things about having a distinctive surname, is there aren't too many other people out there with the same name. However, I've always found it very ironic, given that I'm a staunch republican (not to be confused with Republican), that the other Lucy Traves is an active member of The Monachist League of Canada.

BTW - this isn't the Traves coat of arms, you can find that here.

Reasons (for me) to be cheerful

As The Boy has commented, it's a horrible time of year, and we have had some bad news of late. In the spirit of following my own advice - here a few little things that have been pleasing me lately. Feel free to add some of your own.

  • I've planted lots of bulbs, it's going to be lovely in the Spring
  • My Christmas cake is baked, and ready to be 'fed' under the stairs
  • The inclement weather means that I'm wearing my boot collection, most of which have heels, and I can tower of my colleagues
  • My sister's birthday, my Uncle John's birthday, the Welshman's birthday, Cari's birthday, my birthday, Fr Rattue's birthday, Dr Bones' birthday, my brother's birthday and my name-day are all coming up
  • It's a new academic year, which means it's a new business year at work, and so there are lots of new projects coming up
  • Lorna is cracking on with my portrait
  • The Archers is now available as a podcast
  • A kind friend picked up some Assam tea for me from Cardrews yesterday. After a week drinking Earl Grey I was in sore need of it. I'll drink any old tea (well not quite ANY OLD Lorna) when I'm out, but when I'm home 'proper' tea is important to my wellbeing
  • I’ve picked up a pile of books from a colleague at work for next to nothing
  • Vince Cable has shown some backbone by refusing to meet King Faud

Saturday, October 27

Poor Maisie....

We didn't leave her out by the rubbish...she CHOOSE to sleep there...oh dear.

Wednesday, October 17

A wee bit of advice...

Here is a sign from Brittany with a rather good graphic I think...

It was led me to thinking about other advice I've been given...that works...

From my Mother:
  • Never trust a dog with ginger eyebrows
  • Never trust a man who wears a cravat (Jimmy Muir proves the rule!)
  • Never agree to date a man you've only ever seen in black tie

From my Grandpa

  • There's always time for a cup of tea
  • Scrimp on the food but never on the wine
  • Cheap shoes are a false economy

And my advice to you

  • Never leave a hamster with your contact lenses

Tuesday, October 16

Scottish Thoughts...

I need a dose of sea and sky every so often and it's been TOO LONG! Still, it's raining at the moment, so I could almost be in Scotland...

Sunday, October 14

Another caption competion!

Now what are they saying? "Shall we put the helipad here?"

Rudding Park - in God's own county

For our wedding anniversay (our pottery one, if you're interested) we went to stay at Rudding Park, just outside Harrogate, where The Boy had golf business. The grounds were landscaped by Repton, so all very Jane Austen, except the orginal house was pulled down and rebuilt by some mill owner from Huddersfield (dodgey people these Huddersfield types!).

Peter and his staff (especially the laconic Felipe in the bar) made us feel really welcome. The chocolate, toffees and little ladybird massage thing were all nice touches, but sybarite that I am I think I'll recall 'The Cheese Experience' for some time to come.

"Come and see the long course" they said..."it's really pretty" beseeched Peter. And yes, it was. But being me, I was interested in everything apart from the 'cracking golf holes' - this floating bridge for instance.

Or these mushrooms...

When was it decided that posh lawns (sorry greens) have stripes? Has someone written the history of the lawn? I'm sure they have.
The half-way house...saviour of many a golfer.

Saturday, October 13

Tuesday, October 9

More Memories...

I had a really nice time with weekend, looking through some family photo albums with my Dad. As you liked the last picture of 'lil Lucy' - here is one we found of the three of us. I guess I'd be about 18 months or so. As you can see, Jerry didn't really have eyebrows until he was somewhat older 8-).

Chatham Historic Dockyard

On Sunday, The Boy, The APs and I went to Chatham Historic Dockyard. It's an interesting mixed use site with a working boatyard, rope works, offices and part of the University of Kent as well as the museum.

I was rather taken with the figurehead on HMS Gannet...(esp. the feet)
...and its copper bottom.

The Boy was very excited by the sub HMS Ocelot. When my Dad took a school party here in the late '60s, when it was still a working dockyard, he saw a similar sub being built.

This is one of the last WW2 destroyers (in service till the early '70s) HMS Cavalier. My knowledge of the arctic convoys is all garnered from 'The Cruel Sea' - it was a very hard life.

I found it very weird to see colours and typefaces I associate with domestic goods from the '40s on these missiles.
The wheel wasn't on the bridge but down below.

I don't think Dad belongs here....
...this is more like it!