One for the dog lovers out there….
One for the dog lovers out there….
Happy Boxing Day, everyone! This is Kate Loveton from Odyssey of a Novice Writer filling in for the lovely Heather B. Costa, who is still celebrating Christmas.
Heather, good pal that she is, asked if I might consider guest blogging on her site today. Being a shy, retiring personality who always tries to avoid the spotlight, I answered: “YOU BETCHA!” (That’s Sarah Palin-speak for “Sure, I’d love to!”)
When I asked her why she wanted to temporarily hand over the keys to the kingdom to yours truly, she replied, “Because Friday is Boxing Day and I’ll be too busy celebrating to update my weekly ‘Friday Thoughts’ feature.”
Boxing Day? Okay, as a Yank, I just gotta ask: what the heck is Boxing Day?
I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit that when Heather uttered those words, I immediately imagined Muhammad Ali duking it out with a foe in Madison Square Garden. It got me to wondering about Heather’s family… were their celebrations more rambunctious than I’d originally assumed?
In spite of her tales of rods and balls and female plastic dolls afflicted with nymphomania, I never figured Heather as a devotee of pugilistic pursuits. When I asked her about this, she assured me she hadn’t developed a sudden interest in watching sweaty men in satin shorts settling matters with their fists.
So what gives? In the United States, we don’t celebrate Boxing Day. The day after Christmas, if it falls on a weekday, is one in which we reluctantly return to work (hung over and brimming with less than good cheer). But in Britain, December 26th is a national holiday. The idea of an extra day off makes me jealous. I tried to tell Tom Jefferson that fighting that war against King George III would bite us in the butt one day. But did he listen? Nah! And this is why I have to go to work on December 26th and Heather gets to celebrate.
Aside from the good sense of the British people to grant themselves an extra day for celebration after Christmas, just what is the purpose of Boxing Day? Is it similar to the day after Christmas in America? That’s the day when all self-respecting Americans assemble at the crack of dawn to break down the doors of Macy’s and other well-known department stores in a quest to unload (um… exchange) Christmas gifts that no one in their right mind would want. We gather up the boxes from Aunt Mary and Uncle James, not to mention those from friends who should know better, and head for the exchange counters. Forgive me if this sounds crass. After all, it’s the thought that counts… not the actual gift. Right?
Well, maybe if you’re a character out of a Hallmark Movie! The rest of us know better. Seriously, how many pairs of mittens does one woman need? How many sweatshirts with sequined red-nosed reindeers? And – Lord have mercy! – how many cute headbands with antlers that flash bright red and green? (Guess I’ve just given away that my family is Red Neck Proud – you ought to see our trailer! It features a bare-assed Santa trying to shimmy down a fake chimney. What we lack in class, we make up for in creativity.)
Anyway, during our last Skype session, I asked my very proper British friend if Boxing Day was possibly just a ‘dump the junk’ holiday. Heather frowned and shook her head.
In spite of my pleas, she refused to enlighten me, telling me to “do your homework and figure it out yourself!” There are times when Heather reminds me of my 5th grade teacher, Elsie Gudenhoeffer. “If you don’t know something, Katie, look it up! That’s what the Good Lord gave you a brain for.” I never did like Elsie Gudenhoeffer.
But I do like Heather, and so I got down on bended knee and called upon the God of All Earthly Knowledge.
He (it?) did not let me down.
What I learned is that Boxing Day is a holiday that in one form or another has been observed since the Middle Ages. I also learned that December 26th was the day that the Feast of Saint Stephen was observed by the pious. Remember the old carol about Good King Wenceslas? According to the carol, Wenceslas went out into the harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor peasant during the feast of Saint Stephen. I guess that’s what made him ‘good.’ Unlike me, he didn’t sit around after a huge feast, have a beer and watch some football (that’s soccer to you Brits). Nope, he went out in a blizzard to give aid and comfort to the poor. And now he has a dandy carol in his honor. Well done on him, I say!
If you’re wondering who Saint Stephen was, he was one of the early Christian martyrs. Charged by the early Church fathers with caring for widows and orphans, Stephen was stoned to death for his devotion to Christ.
One theory concerning the origins of Boxing Day has it that churches used to annually collect boxes of clothing and coin for the poor, and that the boxes were not to be distributed until the Feast of Saint Stephen.
As time passed, the custom changed, giving way to rewards of cash rendered to servants by their employers for good service throughout the year. I read that those of equal class exchanged presents on Christmas Day; but the lower classes received their presents from their employers the day after Christmas.
Interesting, huh? But here’s something else. After some time had passed, the holiday morphed from one of giving care to the poor into something called a Bank Holiday, meaning banks and most offices are officially closed.
And what do the Brits do on this holiday? Well, Heather would have me believe they drink tea, eat toast covered with marmite and celebrate the holiday with friends and family. Sounds pretty darned genteel, doesn’t it?
What Heather doesn’t know is that I found a photo that illustrates that the crafty Brits aren’t so different from their crazed American cousins on the day after Christmas.
Aw… this London photo almost looks like home. If I didn’t’ know better, I might think this was the Super Wal-Mart about five miles up the road from our trailer park! See, folks aren’t really all that different no matter where they live. The only difference between Brits and Americans is that Brits speak a lot prettier. Okay, yes, they are better dressed – and they are much more polite. But when it comes to duking it out in the department stores, I’d say our proper cousins from across the pond can give as good as they get!
Take that, Muhammad Ali!
Much like a one year old child, the last twelve months has seen me throw my toys out of the pram, vomit everywhere, and cry myself into an exhausted sleep. I have documented much of this on my blog (though I left the bits out about pooping in my nappy…)
In your first year of life you start to learn to walk, cut your first teeth and perhaps learn to say a word that doesn’t sound like ‘gaaah’. I think there are many similarities between blogging and babies, in that we both learn as we go along and our failures and successes have usually been witnessed by other people.
I have gone back to the first days of my blog and cringed at some of the things I posted this time last year. I must have sounded so earnest in my meandering musings about what it means to become a ‘real’ writer. At first, I valued quantity over quality and this probably showed in a number of my early posts. I have now found my groove, so to speak, and aim to publish two posts a week: a flash fiction attempt and my regular Thoughts for Friday column.
My Thoughts posts have also evolved over the past year and have ranged from thoughts on writing, some self-therapy and realisation, moving home, and now just general musings on whatever has stuck in my mind recently.
There are also my attempts at flash fiction which one would hope have improved since I first began writing them. There are also a number of standalone essays that I’ve written on a number of topics, ranging from moving home to balls, rods and anything else remotely smut-based that I can think of.
Perhaps the most pleasing thing for me has been the growth of my blog from a rather rough and ready beginning to a site that now has 499 followers. I never assumed that, this time last year, my blog would have quite as many followers as it does.
Thank you to everyone who has ‘liked’, commented or reblogged any of my posts and the 499 awesome people who have followed my site. The 500th person to follow my blog will have my undying gratitude because, well, I ain’t too proud to beg! 🙂
Oh, if I had a penny for every time a man said this to me, well, I’d be quite a rich woman….
When it comes to rods, men automatically equate length being equal to quality when it comes to performance, but in my opinion, this is rarely ever the case.
Having a long rod is all well and good, but it’s not going to be much use to you if you don’t know how to handle it properly. Making the most of your rod is as much about technique as it is about length and girth.
There are many points to consider when handling your rod, two of the most important being your grip and your stance. Rods can be slippery in certain circumstances and so you need to ensure that you have a good grip on it at all times. The last thing you want is to lose control of your precious rod…..
Stance is something that isn’t given as much consideration as it should. Ideally, you need to keep your feet planted at approximately shoulder-width apart from one another, this will ensure that, when you get a firm tug on your rod, you are able to withstand the pulling motion and still maintain control of your piece. Losing your balance and falling on your face (as well as your rod) is not a good idea – it’s both painful and embarrassing.
Patience does not seem to be a virtue that many men have. They all seem to want to stick their rod out there and expect a nibble on it straight away. Men need to learn the art of placement when it comes to dangling their rod; they need to understand and appreciate the importance of making their rod look as attractive and appealing as possible, this is the only way that they’ll successfully feel a tug on it by the end of the day.
You may have to spend hours with your rod hanging out, adopting the spread stance and gripping on more with the hope than the expectation that yours will be the lucky one that day. The good thing about this practice is that men seem to like to do it in pairs or groups and mainly in outdoor areas where water and wildlife are present. When I go for a jog around my local park, you’d be surprised at how many men I’ve seen with their rods dangling out before them. What’s more is that these men will stay up all night holding their rods – an example of dedication if ever I’ve seen one.
Men, having the biggest rod doesn’t automatically mean that you know what to do with it. Sometimes it’s the smaller guys with the lesser rods that get more tugs at the end of the day. You can possess the biggest one there is but if you don’t know how to wield it then there’s not much point in having it.
After all, it’s not the size of your rod that matters but what you do with it that counts.
It’s official. England are already out of the World Cup after only two games – a new record in a line of embarrassing failures for our national football team.
Let’s be fair, they were a young and fairly inexperienced team who did show a few glances of promise, but we were never going to win the damn competition by any stretch of the imagination.
Another competition, another nation of tattered hopes and shredded dreams. But we do live in hope that perhaps one day our football team will be good enough to actually get past the second round of a tournament.
Our supposed ‘golden generation’ failed at every major tournament and while we’ve got some exciting players coming through, we don’t have the strength in depth of the Germans, the nous to win at any cost like the Italians, or the natural flair of the Brazilians.
Let’s face it, England will never be good enough, not while we have so many foreign players in our Premier League. Only approximately 25% of the footballers who play regular first team football in England’s top flight are English and/or British (i.e. Welsh, Scottish etc.) Now wonder England can’t win a major international tournament if half of our squad can’t even get into their club teams.
The Premier League is considered one of the most exciting, physically demanding, and entertaining leagues in the world. So how come our national football team is so poor?
Well, if I had the answer to that one I’d be the England manager, not some desperately broken-hearted fan watching the team play through the tiny gaps in my fingers as they cover my face.
Watching England play is painful, yet so many of us choose to believe that we can actually string a decent run of performances together. We want so much to see England do well that we kid ourselves as to the team’s ability. We believe, we hope, we pray, yet we always end up disappointed.
So England are out, but the good news is that I can watch the rest of the World Cup and actually enjoy it.
As you may have guessed, I find nothing more exciting than watching fit young men skilfully play with their balls. The great thing about the World Cup being held in Brazil is the time difference, which means that I can go to work/do my chores/sit and write etc. until late afternoon and then enjoy an evening of back to ball football (and maybe a few drinks as well).
I do enjoy watching the World Cup, especially when I have no vested interest in any of the teams. I can watch the games purely as a spectator and marvel at the sight of hunky men with their balls between their feet.
I may not know the ins and outs of the offside rule, but I do know a fit footballer when I see one:
These are only three of the fit men playing in this summer’s World Cup and what fun it is to see them playing with their balls and/or getting their tops off every time they score.
As an admirer of balls and a fan of fit men, I thank you!
Aha! That caught your attention, didn’t it?
Sadly, this isn’t Heather B Costa’s attempt at a Public Service Announcement, encouraging all men out there to check their balls for testicular cancer. Although while we’re on the subject, I would thoroughly recommend that all men either check themselves or ask their wife/friend/next door neighbour to cop a feel and make sure that everything is hunky-dory down there.
Joking aside, testicular cancer is a killer, but it is also one of the most treatable forms of cancer there is. Next time you check your balls, think of Heather B Costa – it might just save your life.
Despite what some of you may think, I don’t actually have balls on the brain – although that does sound like quite a tricky medical condition….
It’s summer here in the UK and when the sun shines it means only one thing:
We get our balls out and play with them. Big, small, hard, and soft – we love them all.
It’s not just the size and the firmness, it’s also the shape of our balls and what we make them do when the sun shines. Here in Blighty, we LOVE our balls.
Ok, so we may not be quite as proficient in our ball skills as some other nations, but we’re nothing if not triers. What we lack in talent and ball-handling skill, we make up for in pluck and determination. Because of our inclement weather, we might not be able to practice playing with our balls as much as some other countries, but that doesn’t mean we love our balls any less.
Playing with our balls is something that usually starts in the school playground where we develop a taste for a certain size or shape of ball, some are leathery and hard while others are small and furry. No matter the size or shape, it is our fascination with our balls that carries us from childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. Perhaps the only thing that changes is the fact that our balls tend to get smaller as we get older.
We love our balls here – especially in the summer. When the sun shines, we all venture outdoors with our balls in an effort to show everyone around us how skilful we are at manipulating them to our own ends.
In the months of June and July you can barely switch channels without finding someone playing with their balls. The World Cup, Rugby tours, Wimbledon, the US Open Golf – honestly, it’s like wall to wall balls on your TV screen!
It just so happens that we Brits might not be very good at some sports, but God loves a trier and especially one that gives their balls their all. England will likely be knocked out of the World Cup at the group stage, Andy Murray won’t get past the quarter finals of Wimbledon, and all three home rugby nations will return from their southern hemisphere tours bloodied, bruised and defeated.
But who cares?
It’s not the winning that counts…..at least that’s what we tell ourselves when we grab our balls in a fit of pique and storm off home.
I’ve been described as an Energizer Bunny (thanks Kate Loveton!), highly caffeinated (yes, I’m looking at you, Chris Musgrave….) and a whole host of other adjectives in between, but I guess the point they’re all trying to make is that I like to have a lot on my plate at any one time.
It’s certainly nothing to do with short attention spans (I certainly hope not, anyway!), or getting bored with a project easily, it’s more to do with the fact that I like to keep myself as busy as I can for as long as I can.
I’ve already been felled by the flu this year and picked up a nasty cold only a few weeks ago, many would say that I’m pushing myself too hard and ultimately making myself ill. While there may be some truth to their words, I simply cannot sit still and do nothing.
‘The Devil makes work for idle hands.’
If I’m not neck-deep in a project I often find my mind wandering to places that will invariably lead me to trouble of some sort – just ask poor Kate Loveton!
Kate will often get a healthy dose of sledging over the latest standings in the MLB East Division standings when I find myself at a loose end. Granted, I don’t really understand the rules of baseball all that much, I just know it’s a good thing when the Orioles lose and my beloved Yankees win!
As much as I would like to pass myself off as a po-faced and serious writer, beneath all my earnest meanderings is an infantile sense of humour and a love of the double-entendre. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve leaped on an innocent comment and shot back with some sort of ribald retort. I just can’t help myself; I’m discovering the adolescence that I lost all those years ago.
The best way to keep myself and my childish fingers out of trouble is to concentrate my efforts on something a little more serious and high-brow – that way I don’t find myself apologising for inadvertently upsetting someone with what I intended as a humorous remark.
I do this by taking on a number of projects all at once, such as the fact that I’ve recently received a hefty promotion at work, moved home, and won the much-coveted position of being Don Charisma’s intern. That’s a lot of plates to spin at the same time and I haven’t even mentioned the fact that I’ve been writing a series of posts on the subject of moving home, taking part in a flash fiction competition while also trying to work on my hotly anticipated debut novel…..
Some may call me foolhardy, others may admonish me for taking on too much, while others may shake their heads and label me a glutton for punishment. At the end of the day, I like to keep busy and constantly be on the go as it keeps my mind from turning to something negative to myself or slightly naughty toward others.
Writing is damned hard work and it seems logical that you’ve got to put yourself out there, put in the hard yards and hopefully reap the benefits of it afterwards (if you haven’t had a coronary by that point, that is). So here’s my attempt at slogging my guts out, trying to make even the smallest of dents in the writing world and keeping my euphemistically inclined fingers out of trouble.
Trust me, your Twitter feed will thank you for it.
Okay, so it’s been just under a week since I put the deposit down on my new home and what have I achieved so far? Well, not a lot it would seem.
My credit checks and references came through just fine and I had my moving date confirmed just a day after I went to the real estate agent and paid my deposit. I was busy with work the next couple of days which meant that I couldn’t really do that much in regard to my new home at that time.
“I’ll do it on Saturday,” I thought, like the bright spark I am, not realising that most of the companies I would need to ring to arrange certain elements were already closed for the bank holiday weekend and would not be open again until Tuesday 6th.
Angered, and more than a little disappointed, I did what I could on Saturday including the following:
• Transferred enough money from a savings account to cover the expenditure of my move.
• Arranged and bought a TV license for my new home.
• Cancelled unnecessary direct debits and set up new ones
But that still leaves me with quite a bit to do. I still need to ring my phone line and broadband supplier to switch my account from one address to the other, arrange insurance etc.
I was surprised to find that I would need to take out my own insurance on my new place, mainly because the landlord also had insurance for the property, but I was advised that it was necessary for my contents and to cover me for any accidental damage to my flat while I live there.
Unfortunately, the insurance people are one of the companies that is now not open again until Tuesday which means I’ll have to put it off until then, although I am reassured by the thought that my flat will most likely be better insured than Beyonce’s buttocks by the time all the premiums both I as a tenant and my landlord himself will have to pay…..
I’ve also been begging, borrowing, and more often than not, stealing empty boxes and collecting old newspapers in preparation of collecting all of my belongings together for the move. I’ll mainly be taking old crockery and cutlery to begin with and gradually replace these when I have settled in my new place and my bank account has recovered from the near-fatal shock of all of my current moving expenditures.
I really need to take a look at my huge library of DVDs and books and decide on which ones I want to keep and which ones can be sold on or donated to charity shops. I won’t have as much space as I do in my current home which means that I can only take things that I really want to keep hold of. Unfortunately, I am worse than a homeless bag lady when it comes to throwing things away and I simply cannot bear the thought of parting with anything – case in point: I even keep old bubble-wrap and odd squares of wrapping paper in case I need them in the future….
I probably have more clothes than Naomi Campbell in at the height of catwalk season, so that needs to be addressed as well. I need to have a thorough sort out of what I need to keep and what should really be donated to charity. I have at least half a wardrobe of clothes that no longer fit me (they are too big, before you ask!) I need to sort those into piles of what to keep and what to get rid of.
I have a rough idea of the furniture that I’ll take with me i.e. my bed, sofa, computer desk, coffee table, bedside cabinet etc. I’ve arranged for a family friend to help transport these larger pieces a couple of days after my moving date (he wasn’t free until the weekend and being the cheapskate I am, I didn’t want to pay for a removals firm to help me).
On Monday 5th, I ordered my white goods and organised for them to be delivered on my moving date so that everything is ready for when my furniture is moved in on Saturday 17th and I will (hopefully) be good to go.I went to my local white goods outlet with a pretty firm idea of what I wanted (i.e. cheap and small); it took me less than ten minutes to locate the items that I wanted and so that left me with onerous task of flagging down a member of the shop staff to assist me in buying said items.
I’m sure we’ve all been there before, stood in the middle of a busy store, attempting to look as if you’re a serious paying customer and not just looking at fridge freezers, cookers and tumble dryers for the sake of wasting a bank holiday afternoon. I spent the next fifteen minutes or so waving my arms each time a member of the shop staff appeared to move their head in my direction. Honestly, all I needed was a couple of those weird little flag thingies and I reckon I could have quite easily landed a plane on a runway with all of that arm waving.
A bored-looking middle-aged man wandered over to me (he was a member of the shop staff before you ask, not some random middle-aged man whose eye I caught across a busy electrical store). Honestly, the man couldn’t have looked more disinterested if he’d tried. I mean, for God sake, I’m spending a fair whack of money in your store, the least you could do is look happy about it!
About twenty minutes after arguing over the fact that I didn’t want to take out a warranty on my just-purchased goods, I eventually walked from the store triumphant, if with a severely damaged credit card balance to show for it. But hey, I’ve bought my white goods and arranged for them to be delivered on my moving day!
Next on my list is to arrange that damn insurance and begin buying some of the smaller items on my list. It’s a case of ‘so far, so good’ but I am well aware that the best laid plans of mice and men, and all that…..
I’d like to think that I’ve approached the move with diligence and preparation but I am well aware that it could all fall apart in an instant and go horribly wrong. Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen…..
Ah, coffee…..no finer drink has ever been created than that of a steaming cup of java….
Anyone who knows me – even in the briefest of senses, knows that I adore my coffee and that I simply cannot live without at least two cups of this fine beverage each day. Sometimes I drink more, sometimes less (depending on how wild-eyed and hyperactive I need to be on any given day.) The fact remains that my body has become so used to the instant hit that caffeine gives that I find myself suffering withdrawal-like symptoms without it.
Like a drug addict denied their high, I get cranky, angry and downright intolerable if I cannot have at least one cup of coffee during the morning and afternoon. So much so in fact, that I have had to resort to creating my own barista station at home for when I cannot make it to my favorite local coffee shop – Costa Coffee, before you ask. Approximately one whole kitchen worktop is covered in more high-tech equipment than a crime lab. I have more coffee-making gadgets than most cafes, there is literally no tool known to man that is not in my possession, including the following:
Espresso cups, Costa cups and saucers, chocolate shaker and stencils, Starbucks mugs, cafetiere, tamper, filters, milk frother, milk jug and thermometer, syrups, two-dozen different types of ground coffee…..ok, you get the picture don’t you?
I also have one of these little beauties which has pride of place in my kitchen:
Delia, the little machine that could.
Not only does this lady look fabulous in red, she makes a damn fine coffee too. Through many attempts with this elegant piece of kit, I believe that I am slowly teaching myself the art of making a bloody good coffee. My first few goes were definitely nothing to write home about, looking and tasting more like muddy water than coffee. Like writing, the art of creating a good cup of coffee is through sheer determination and practice alone. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again!
Not content with coffees, I have branched out into making family and friends all manner beverages, some more ghastly than others. Yet the fact remains that Delia and I will forever be united in our quest for making the perfect cup of java and long may our relationship continue. Until I get my hands on of these bad boys, that is…..
The man of my dreams…..
Then it’ll be time for you to pack your bags, little Delia. You better hope that this isn’t sat under the Christmas tree tomorrow morning….
Merry Christmas folks, thanks for reading and supporting my blog!
Ok, trying something completely different here. I thought I’d try my hand at a little poetry…..
It’s that time of year,
When Christmas is near.
When folks can come together,
Whatever the weather,
And indulge in some festive cheer.
A little too much wine,
And your spirits may decline,
Perhaps you should have gone for the beer!
Perhaps I should stick to novels, methinks. 😳
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