Blogging Insights #45: Ambience

Some people can write anytime and anywhere. Others require certain pre-requisites such as the appropriate setting before they can get their creativity going. In today’s Blogging Insights we discuss the necessity or otherwise of the right ambience for blogging.


What, in your opinion, is the perfect ambience for blogging / writing?

Are you able to work in this setting on a daily basis?

Do you feel that the ambience has any particular effect on the quality or quantity of your output?

I’m one of those people who can write anytime, anywhere. The mood and the atmosphere are mostly in my head. A little invisible bubble forms around me shutting out distractions and my stream of consciousness takes over and the words just flow.

Of course they are not always great words, or even good ones, and can form a rocky relationship with each other trying to make sense out of themselves, and cry out for some serious editing. But I WROTE them. Because real writers write stuff. And then something pops the bubble and I have to click the SAVE button so that I can come back later and wonder what the hell my point was, or if I even had one.

Easy peasy. Anyone can write.

In a perfect writing world I imagine having a desk and a comfy chair in a quiet room, a window with a view, a warm breeze, a single serve coffee maker, an endless supply of pods, a little cooler for my cream, books on shelves on every wall, a scented candle or two, a cot with a pillow and a blanket because this is making me sleepy just thinking about it.

Where I normally write is in our living room, sitting on the couch, with my iPad (which has an attached keyboard) on the arm rest, my upper body twisted sort of sideways, facing the two windows that look out over the neighbours cars in their driveway. Here, I’ll show you.

All the necessities of life are at my fingertips. Tissues, coffee, pen, some kind of list and my phone. Truly not inspirational. But stimulating enough, along with the bad posture, to keep me awake. Always a bonus if you’re trying to be creative.

Yes, I am able to work in this setting on a daily basis. And also NOT work, if my head ambience is off. Or if the neighbours are doing something interesting like walking out of their house and going off in one of their cars. Or there are sirens in the distance or it’s raining hard or somebody is trying to leash train their puppy in front of our house. Well I HAD to watch that.

A change in ambience (physical or virtual) is probably conducive to both quality and quantity as well. If nothing ever changed there would simply be no new stories to tell. If I didn’t have strong feelings or get in a weird mood about stuff you’d never hear from me again. Thank God for my mood swings, hey? The world is a better place when I’m all pissy about something.

You did say “in your opinion”. I took that part to heart. And this productive output is the dubiously brilliant result. Thanks for the questions. Hope you’re not sorry you asked.

About a Walkabout

Urban Dictionary has this definition of a Walkabout:

“A spontaneous journey through the wilderness of one’s choosing in an effort to satisfy one’s itchy feet, a need to be elsewhere, the craving for the open road, that space over the horizon…yes… something like that… you can’t quite touch it so you have to go find it because you just know it’s there…

Huh. Not exactly the wilderness, and my feet weren’t any more itchy than usual. But I did walk. Took a picture a block from home to prove it.

This morning I decided to start torturing myself by eating oatmeal again, and then I guess I was just in a mood, and carried on by putting my shoes on and leaving the house and going down the driveway and beyond. I only do these things because it feels so good to stop.

It’s so quiet out there. I saw two mail trucks, one car, and a driveway with balloons up both sides of it. Oh, and this friendly face.

Coffee and Coconut

You know I have nothing earth shattering to write about when I start taking pictures of body lotion. Sorry, body CREAM. I put this product beside a storage box for size reference, but if you’ve never seen this particular box I guess that was a dumb idea we’ll all just have to live with.

A long long time ago (in a land far far away) (kidding, it was here) I said I didn’t understand why there were no body products or perfumes that captured the aroma of coffee. Who in their right mind wouldn’t want to smell like a coffee bean, right? So when I saw this on Amazon it was a no brainer to order it.

OMG that is the best decision I’ve made all week. It smells amazing! I don’t even care if it doesn’t do anything for dry skin, the aroma therapy alone makes it worth it. Now I can brew coffee, light a coffee scented candle, and make everything in my house smell like coffee, including me. What kind of awesomeness is that?

Okay, I’m going to calm down now. This afternoon I have a doctors appointment by phone. This will be the second time renewing my prescriptions without leaving home or getting lab work done. But I have also booked my yearly physical for the 20th of October, so I can’t be making up blood pressure and weight and glucose level numbers today. Like I would do that. Haha. Yes it obviously crossed my mind.

But I did some deep breathing, hauled the bathroom scale out of the cupboard, apologized to it for hating it so much and then was pleasantly surprised to discover my weight is slightly less than it was last year at this time. I am not getting on that thing again to double check and right now I don’t care if it’s no longer accurate. I do double/triple check my blood pressure though. First thing in the morning, before coffee. Second reading today was acceptable and third reading even better. Perfect. We will go with reading number three.

Then there’s my fasting glucose test. My doctor has set my target at 7 or lower. I do check it regularly and I always know why it’s high. For the last couple of weeks it’s been consistently above target by only a few points but still, that’s not acceptable. I know I’m not active enough and have been lazy about carbs and snacking after 8 p.m. and eating too much meat, and the list goes on. I have a month to smarten up and get it into the low sixes again. It also goes up when I’m stressed and W has been home ALL SUMMER!!! Feel free to draw your own conclusions for those two things being mentioned in the same sentence.

Really not fair to blame anyone but myself of course but that rarely stops me from doing it. At least I now smell amazing while pointing fingers, so there’s that.

Happy Thursday everyone! May your day be slathered in coconut coffee type goodness too.

Sharing a Little Slice of Someone Else’s World

This is my grandson Kale with Bowie the cat. Bowie is a professional model with her own Instagram account (if you want to believe everything you discover on Instagram). These two have sort of adopted each other, linked by a shared living space with Bowies original owners, but then what cat is ever really owned by anyone. They do the owning. And this is apparently the one she chooses to keep wrapped around her little paw.

I get it Bowie. I love him too. 💜

Sharing My World 92

Share Your World Meets Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix

Roger’s Magical, Mystical Questions:

What happened to cause you to discover ‘bullies” were real?

A bully is defined as someone who is habitually cruel, threatening and aggressive towards people who are smaller, weaker and more vulnerable. I think the fact of their existence is a realization you come to gradually over time, and it’s not just one incident that suddenly clues you in. Insults and teasing from siblings and peers is part of growing up, with lessons learned on setting boundaries and picking your battles. Eventually you see that this kind of behaviour has little to do with the victims and everything to do with the bullies and their own personal issues. So try not to take it personally, and strive to be kind.

Eavesdropping- When given the chance, how often do you eavesdrop?

If I’m eavesdropping it’s almost certainly by accident and only because the conversation is loud and I can’t help it. I would be the worlds worst spy. I have some hearing loss, mostly for high pitched sounds, but the real problem is auditory processing/perception disorder, or discrimination loss, or whatever fancy name you’d like to use for misunderstanding the garbled words I just heard. Sometimes my interpretation is really funny and I’ll share it. Mostly it’s annoying for the people who have to repeat themselves. If only they came with subtitles on their foreheads while they’re speaking, we’d both experience a lot less grief. I have always had the ability to focus on one thing while ignoring everything else around me, so I often also display rather pathetic powers of observation. Probably why I think tv detectives are so damned smart.

Escalators, at one time, were the ‘next big thing’. When was the last time you rode an escalator?

Must have been at an airport, a few years ago for sure. There was one in the mall where W’s hip clinic was located, but recent hip replacement patients were not allowed to use it. Much more common to have elevators everywhere. I wonder if there are strict mask rules for them now? And maximum occupancy numbers? Amazon sells a weird little gadget you can use to press elevator buttons so you don’t have to touch them with your fingers. And we used to think germaphobes were weird. They were just way ahead of the rest of us.

Have you ever ‘let’ someone win in a sports competition or a board game? How did it turn out?

Not really, at least not consciously deciding before a game begins to throw it. The whole point of a competition is to do your best and I expect no less from my opponent. It’s how you both get better. BUT…..there’s always a but. If our skills are very different and I’m way ahead and the other guy is just learning and getting frustrated, I will try less hard to see if he can catch up.

If the tables are turned and my game sucks I will quit and stomp off somewhere to sulk and never play that stupid game again. I just made that last bit up to see if you’re still paying attention. Generally I try to act like an adult.

I skipped the Muggle questions this week. Sometimes there’s only so many random things you can tackle all at once. But I would like to mention we had a weather advisory frost warning last night, seven days into September. I covered the tomato plants overnight. The fruit is ripening much more slowly in the cooler weather but there’s still lots of green ones to come and I’d hate to lose them.

Three Things

Three Things Challenge

Words for September 6, 2020: Hope, Sincere, Nerve

It’s the cool and overcast Sunday morning of a quiet long weekend in September. Awakened from a restless and dream troubled sleep by the sounds of the truck backing down the driveway and the garage door rumbling closed with a final dull thud, my dream world slowly fades and the real world takes over.

W is off to his second day of a trap shoot. It took some nerve for him to get into that again because until this year he hadn’t been to the gun club since 2006. So he’s a little rusty. They do their mask wearing and social distancing thing and hope for the best. This is the first late spring to early fall in forever that he’s been stuck here with me. And me with him. So it’s good he’s got a hobby of sorts. He has been looking after the family’s northern Ontario island property every summer since he retired and visiting his parents and helping them keep things going and sorted. Then last October his dad died, and in May his mom left us as well, and the pandemic hit hard and the whole world changed.

A hot shower helps to kick start my brain, bad for my dry skin but good for my old bones. That first cup of coffee tastes like heaven, every single day. May I never take these simple pleasures for granted.

Waking up in the morning. (Think of all the poor souls who didn’t get to do that today). Making my bed with no wrinkles. Having a warm house and a big back yard and a quiet neighborhood and a ridiculous supply of coffee cream. Taking a deep breath into my still healthy lungs. Playing my word game moves with a still functioning mind. Knowing the people I love are okay.

My gratitude is sincere. My life is good. The quiet and the calm are delicious. There are things that need doing and I will do them, but this peace must be savoured first.

The Rhythm of the Stitches

Just a little something I found on FB and as usual don’t know where, or who to credit, but it was obviously written by someone who totally gets the calming power of crafting.

Has to be something you’re skilled at of course so the stress of making mistakes isn’t really a factor. I’ve given up knitting because it makes my shoulders ache but when I am in the mood to crochet I can happily zone out for hours.

As with anything you love to do, it’s often wise to take a break (says the expert on break taking). So when the weather is perfect for being outside or when it’s crazily hot, crocheting projects get set aside. I’ll get back to them when it snows.

Let’s Move It

This is what you do with that ridiculous cupboard space above the fridge that no one can reach. Also you should dust the top of the fridge and remove the dryer sheet (???) before you take a photo.

Is it mental to constantly rearrange the furniture?

You know what, with me it’s not just the furniture, it’s more or less everything. And by constantly I mean at a bare minimum once a week. It starts off shifting things around to do some cleaning, and before I know it a living room bookshelf is in the bedroom, the couch and the love seat have traded places, an upstairs thing goes downstairs and vice versa.

Mostly nobody cares what direction the kitchen table happens to be facing at the moment, or at what odd new angle they need to hold their heads to watch tv. Sometimes though the things I do cause temporary chaos for the people who are not me. I moved the coffee maker to a different spot on the counter and then shifted all the coffee cups to the cupboard above it. Then I had to rearrange the dishes in the previous coffee cup space and one thing lead to another until pretty much everything was shifted around. There was a lot of cupboard door opening and closing and grumbling and sighing for a while but we all lived through it.

The tea towel drawer for years was beside the oven, and the junk drawer was between the sink and the dishwasher. Stupid, right? Bedlam for days after I changed that, even though the switch made perfect sense.

My changes often don’t last long. If they did I’d soon run out of options. And I admit many of them aren’t practical. Like recently when I got tired of constantly opening and closing the cupboard doors under the sink to put stuff in the garbage and the compost bin. I put two small lined baskets on the counter top, one for each of these things, and the large garbage can in the pantry closet. Then I was constantly emptying the small containers into the bigger ones and explaining why there wasn’t a garbage can under the sink anymore, and getting the little baskets mixed up and being mad at them for taking up counter space and smelling bad. Everything is now all changed back to the way it was. I know when to admit defeat.

Maybe it’s our previous nomadic life I’m missing that makes me crave changes in my surroundings. We lived in 8 different places before this one. And now this house is too big for just the two of us and the stairs are my least favourite part of it. Something small and more manageable would be ideal. With fewer spaces to move things to and from. It’s exciting to think about.

Maybe it’s simply the desire to improve things. Thinking ‘this is good, but something different might be better’. Whatever the reason I expect I’ll keep doing it as long as I’m able. Or until I can’t remember where anything is. Like that hasn’t already started. OOPS didn’t mean to say THAT out loud.

Craziness Inc.

Sandman’s Q & A

If you could have your hair any colour for 24 hours, what colour would you choose?

Purple, with pink and silver highlights that glow in the dark. Do I really have to give that up after 24 hours? I’m not going anywhere.

Are you a Hitchcock fan? If so, what is your favourite movie?

Not a huge one, simply because I find suspenseful situations stressful. Movies like Psycho and The Birds make me want to skip to the end to see who survives. I do the same thing with detective shows and murder mysteries if they’re gruesome, and sometimes I skip half a book and read the last chapter if it’s taking way too long to get everything resolved. Not exactly the audience Hitchcock was hoping for.

Do you decorate for Autumn/Halloween and will it be affected by this year’s craziness?

I’m trying to remember if I still have my boogeyman door decoration. Yes, ONE hallowe’en decoration which may or may not have gone out with the garage sale stuff. So the answer to this one is no. Not sure it’s a brilliant plan letting little kids go door to door during a pandemic accepting potentially Covid covered candy from strangers. Even without the pandemic it’s a pretty bizarre tradition. I have a feeling a lot of people will give Hallowe’en a pass this year.

And speaking of craziness, it’s back to school day one here today. W often goes walking wearing a mask through our mostly deserted shopping mall, but didn’t today because the food court was full of students on their lunch break. Unbelievable. Some were wearing masks, most were not. If one kid gets sick and tests positive he puts friends, classmates, teachers, parents, and families of all these people at risk and EVERYBODY quarantines and we all wonder what we were thinking sending them back to school with no clear safety plan.

No fast forwarding through this to see how it all plays out. Hopefully at the very least we all learn a few things.

Sharing My World 91

Share Your World August 31, 2020

Share Your World Meets Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Roger’s Magical, Mystical Questions

Many local regions, especially rural areas where I live, have haunted houses. Have you ever spent the night in a house that was supposedly haunted? Anything ‘strange” happen?

Once in the farmhouse where I grew up we were all present and accounted for at the kitchen table eating dinner when we heard someone coming down the back stairs. I remember saying, did you hear that? Who was that? and looking at the doorway to see who would show up. But nobody did, because we were all there already. Someone said it was just the house creaking. But I know what I heard. I guess whoever it was quietly left by the back door and never came back because that’s the only truly spooky thing I remember happening in that house.

There were a lot of odd sounds in this house when we first moved here. I believe the original owner died so the house was sold. And then the next owner died and that’s when we bought it. I dont think either of them died in the house, but I wondered if one or the other might still be hanging around. Because I sometimes wonder weird shit like that. I may have mentioned in passing that our new house could be haunted, but no one else heard things being moved about in the basement or footsteps in another room. After a few weeks I guess I got used to the different house noises because I didn’t notice them anymore. Or the ghosts were bored silly and left. I’m open to either explanation

The Quidditch Cup (riding broomsticks while chasing a small ball) was a huge sporting event in the land of Hogwarts. What is the largest sporting event (or concert, etc.) that you have ever attended?

I went to a Blue Jays baseball game in Toronto! Can’t remember when it was or who they played! That place was HUGE! So happy to share this vivid memory with you all.

When you go for a swim, do you prefer an ocean, the seaside lakes, or a pool?

I prefer NOT going for a swim anywhere, thanks. The ocean would be my very last choice. The shallow end of a pool or a sandy beach where I could wade in up to my knees might be tolerable.

Ron Weasley received a horrid robe to wear as formal wear to the Christmas dance at Hogwarts. Tell about the most ‘ghastly’ fashion statement that you have ever made.

Oh dear, so many choices. But you never know they’re ghastly until the photos surface ten years later, do you?

I used to wear crocs to work. Ghastly fashion choice all on its own, but those things were SO comfy. I was getting out of the car at home after work one night and noticed that one of the crocs I was wearing was navy blue and the other one was black. All day I walked around like that and no one told me.

Muggle Questions (from Melanie):

What is the last song you sang along to?

Honestly can’t remember, other than it would have been something from the sixties to which I knew ALL the words. I sing along in my head only now. Sounds much better that way.

What was your scariest nightmare about?

A big black dog growling at me and ready to bite. I was maybe 5 or younger and terrified enough to scream in the middle of the night for my dad to save me. He told me to roll over in the other direction, go back to sleep, and the dog would go away. Smartest bravest dad ever.

What food do you crave most often?

A big bowl of hot delicious homemade soup. My instant pot makes 5 or 6 servings, so I make soup every 5 or 6 days I guess. It’s a very creative endeavour with lots of experimenting and mostly great results. Perfect way to consume lots of vegetables.

And now for the truth. I crave CHIPS. I make myself eat soup first though.

What’s your grossest bug story?

I don’t know if anyone remembers spirals of sticky fly paper hanging from the ceiling with sad buzzing half dead flies on them. There were always so many flies on the farm mom had to do something to keep them under control in the kitchen. That doesn’t explain why she hung one of those things at the bottom of the stairs where a normal person would see and avoid it but a kid in a hurry could come thundering down the steps and run right smack into it and get it all tangled up in her hair. Never been so grossed out in my life.

And that’s my world sharing all caught up until next week. I’m calling it caught up even though I’ve missed over six months worth of prompts and skipped number 89 in my own series.

I blame childhood trauma.