Blue Witch



   Wednesday, April 30, 2003  
I have been nursing an anger since before we went away. I nearly forgot about it while we were away, but it's back, annoying me and pre-occupying me. So, I'm going to moan about it in the hope that I may feel better after. If you're not in the mood to read a good whinge, then come back later and I may have posted something more interesting. If this whinge doesn't work, it could be several days before it's safe to visit though. Just to warn you ;)

Now, something that I hold very dear (and this is part of the BW Prime Directive that I mentioned earlier) is the old clichéd phrase, 'Treat others as you would like to be treated.' Inherent in this are other clichéd, but nevertheless (IMHO) good, ideals such as, 'If you want respect, be the first to show it,' and 'Negotiation is the key to successful change.' And, to be honest, underlying it all is the sub-text, 'Don't mess me about because I don't suffer fools gladly' (because I don't have to, and because I wouldn't treat you like that).

For the past 6 years Mr BW and I have been involved in a voluntary organisation with charitable (educational) status, both at a county and a local level. Between us we have put in hundreds of unpaid (and usually unappreciated) hours in this time - probably somewhere between 1500 and 2000. Back in January we decided to give up the local level work, for the time being, because we were being left to do everything and we felt it was time others shared the burden. Trouble is, when you do something, and do it well, others just imagine it all happens with no effort and take you for granted. So, our only way out was to relinquish our roles and let others have a go. We had also decided to give up the county level role, after the AGM in March. However, at the 11(and a half)th hour, as no-one had volunteered to take over the promotions role that we had painstakingly developed, I had a change of heart and decided to carry on, with certain conditions attached (mainly things to do with better inflow of information and less destructive criticism from those who did nothing themselves). I wrote these conditions down on a scruffy bit of paper, in a hurry, and gave them to the county secretary. I expected him to paraphrase / summarise what I'd said, but, instead, he read it out verbatim at the AGM (which we were unable to attend). Well, I guess the positive to that was that at least everyone knew how I felt. And some very positive comments, showing great respect for what we had done, and what we stood for, were fed back to me, from various sources, afterwards. Mr BW was, as ever, supportive of my decision, although I think (actually, know) he had reservations.

I was one of 12 trustees of said organisation until last January, when I resigned as I felt that things were being incredibly badly manged financially. As a trustee, I could be held personally liable by the Charity Commissioners, with unlimited liability, and I was unprepared to put The Coven and everything we have worked for at risk.

Now, part of the problem in the past, as with many similar organisations, has been that there has been no clear sense of direction or leadership, no vision or planning (aims and objectives - what are those?) and an acceptance of the status quo. Plus, most of the officers are past retirement age with, at best, a tenuous grip on the modern world and how things are. My efforts to inject some realism and accountability into the organisation met with limited success, largely because no-one actually gave a damn, and no-one wanted to commit themselves to anything, or any financial cost (despite their being £31K in the coffers of an organisation with about 400 members, of whom maybe 50 are actively involved). However, I was encouraged that my vision has always been shared by the only 2 other people who actually do anything - the editor of the monthly magazine and the honorary secretary.

So, at the AGM in March, a new county chair and new county treasurer volunteered. These were people who had recently retired, and had been involved in the organisation the past (over 10 years ago), but had no current knowledge of how things were running and where things were up to. Sadly, initial enthusiasm from many of us keen to see development has proved misplaced. The first meeting of the county committee last Thursday was a charade. The new treasurer decided to give us his version of how things would be, punctuated by his statement, on three occasions, that he was a millionaire and used to work for a big oil company, so things would be OK. The new chair decided to ridicule past documents drawn up which unfortunately contained typos (word processing has not yet reached the person who typed them). It was a spectacular performance in how not to win friends and manage change. Those of us who actually had done any work for the organisation went home fuming. Even Mr BW, not usually one to fume, was smoking.

Always one to encourage co-operation and team-working, and to broker constructive ways forward, during the meeting I managed to get agreement to 3 small working groups being set up to examine ways of moving key issues on. I (and others present) believed that it had been agreed that I was to lead and co-ordinate 2 of them. At the end of the meeting I attempted to set a date for the group to look at developing promotion (6 people - including me and Mr BW) to meet. The treasurer said he couldn't agree a date as his wife kept his diary (!!!). By 9am the next morning the same treasurer had decided, totally without consultation with me, and against what the committee had agreed, to open this group up into a general meeting, and to email all and sundry with an invite, and a date (which we couldn't, in any case, make). My attempts to sort this out led to a comment from the chair's wife that the committee of trustees who had agreed that I should lead and co-ordinate that group were "only small beer" and that things weren't going to be governed by this forum in future (despite constitutional evidence to the contrary), as her husband, the new chair and his sidekick, the new treasurer, had decided that they weren't.

And yes, I know that this is all totally trivial in the grand scheme of things, and the easiest thing to do would be to walk away and leave them to their own power struggles, but I don't want to view those 2000 unpaid, freely given hours over the past 6 years, as wasted. I also believe that they are fundamentally wrong in their approach. At present I am biding my time, and holding my peace. Not easy for a Witch with principles, and an understanding of the psychology of organisations and change.

I suppose the final laugh could be mine. You see, I own the 3 domain names that currently feed into the website that is the lifeblood / future of said organisation. I co-ordinate it, and Mr Wiz hosts/develops/maintains it. And they're not for sale, at any price. If I go, so do they :) Petty, maybe, and yes, maybe I should find something more interesting to occupy my mind, but I cannot abide people who have no understanding of an organisation coming in and trying to take over, with little regard for the experience of those who have been involved, and so know the sensibilities and culture of the organisation, or, indeed regard for anything but their own sad egos. Said pair are Richard (chair) and Doug (treasurer). Richard is always known as Dick. I have named him Head Dick. The treasurer I have called Dick Head. If that gives you any kind of understanding of how things are... ;)

So, we now have a situation where the secretary (who I would guess spends at least 10 hours a week working for the organisation), the editor (who probably spends 20 hours per month), Mr BW, and I, are all on the point of resigning. One can only hope that Head Dick and Dick Head are prepared to do all this work themselves. Cos there ain't any other volunteers-in-waiting.

I have tried to make sense of this.
I have failed.
Help me out here... please....
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:39 pm....  
What a difference 3 days makes...

Returning home last night we were amazed at how much greener everything is now, compared to how it was on Saturday morning. A few centimetres of rain have precipitated what seems like weeks worth of natural change in 3 days. The grass has grown, the hawthorn hedge is fully in leaf, different plants are in bloom and new ones are sprouting, apple and pear trees are in blossom. Everything looks quite, quite different.
   posted by Blue Witch at 5:51 pm....  
Good to see that I have some bright commentators who correctly picked up the clues to the fact that a Witchlet Break was underway :)

Last week was a bad week.
Too many people breaking the BW Prime Directive.
I get upset when that happens.

So, I was really glad that Mr BW and I had booked up to go away for a few days to celebrate our 9th Anniversary. Last summer we discovered a delightful place, a couple of miles from the North Norfolk coast, that fulfils all our criteria for a relaxing break. It's hard for us to go away as we live in an area we like (well, I could do with a bit more undulation in the landscape, but you can't have everything:)) and have, through an enormous amount of thought, planning, effort and hard work over nearly 8 years, got everything just about as we want it at the The Coven. So, if we go somewhere that is less good, and have to pay for the privilege, we feel cheated. But, this place is ideal. Ostensibly a "bed and breakfast" (but with 4 English Tourist Board diamonds), it is a huge old converted barn, with its own wing and entrance for guests (3 bedrooms, all spotlessly clean and tastefully furnished with antiques, and a separate beamed sitting room with stained glass windows). Peace, quiet, space, glorious garden, heated swimming pool, 6' bed, the best breakfast you could imagine, hosts who make you feel like house guests rather than customers, and excellent value for money..... And no, I'm not telling you where it is, because we want to be able to get in there next time we need to escape :)

Things that delighted me while we were away:

The fact that a picnic lunch on the beach in the howling wind, or a large size fish and chip meal with mushy peas in a seedy coastal town café is still more of a thrill than paying £100 for a meal in an 'exclusive' restaurant, even though we now could.

That there is still a weekly auction in Aylsham where you can pick up old gardening and farming implements for pennies - £20.50 for objets that I could clean up and resell for at least £150, if I chose to (which I don't cos I like them too much and have plans for them - but, business opportunity here for someone methinks....).

That Mr BW can still pack everything I can manage to buy at said auction, and at various specialist plant nurseries, into a much smaller broomstick than we used to have :)

East Ruston Old Vicarage Garden is a must for anyone who likes gardens that are more imaginative than traditional.

Oxburgh House (mid-way between King's Lynn and Thetford) is a wonderful tudor house. The National Trust seem to be really making an effort this year to organise interesting programmes of events and liven up the rather staid image that many people have of it as an organisation.

All the kids were back at school and it was too early for the hordes of nasty tourists :)

Things that I must remember:

When you are the only visitor to a NT property, don't show too much interest in anything or you could have trouble getting away from the room stewards...

To keep my phone turned off more often :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:39 am....  
Thought for the day

Sometimes I think I have a lot of energy, and then I believe I can get everything done. Then I realise I'm running on adrenaline. I've learnt that when adrenaline is my driver, I don't like how I feel and I have a problem unwinding at the end of the day.

There is a difference between adrenaline and energy. Adrenaline exhausts. Energy creates.
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:36 am....

   Saturday, April 26, 2003  
Thought for the days

Self control is knowing you *can* but deciding you *won't*.
   posted by Blue Witch at 12:03 am....

   Friday, April 25, 2003  
And the winner of the 3rd weekly "Make BW Laugh Award of the Week" is...

Roll of drums (but, quietly please, cos I have a headache), pregnant pause.....

DG, for this little gem. But, surely, there can't be a single person in the whole of Blogland who hasn't read it by now? Can there? ;)

Actually, it was the only thing I read in a blog all week that actually made me laugh out loud. There weren't many things that even made me smile this week. Not sure if that's been more about my mood (I've been very busy and had to deal with several difficult situations, plus I'm very tired), or whether there just hasn't been the humour around, or whether I haven't had enough time to read many blogs. What do you think?

This will be a weekly feature, with results announced sometime every Friday evening or Saturday. If you notice anything very funny when around and about, or write something that you think deserves Witchy consideration for the award, then do feel free to point it up to me. Cos I might just miss it otherwise. And, as I always say, in this world, if you don't laugh, you cry.

If I was clever I'd whip up a little BW cup award for you to keep on your site for the week. However, I'm no good at Coven Work, as you will have noticed, so you can invent your own if you like. Mind you, it can only stay up for the week of your victory :)

BTW there are no limits to the number of times that you can win the award. Might even manage a jar of BW special honey for you if you win the award say 10 times....
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:05 pm....  
A Religious Tale

As a Witch who attended a primary school run by an atheistic maverick 60's headteacher, I was spared the daily dose of religion from a young age. Before I went to grammar school, Mummy Blue Witch (who is actually quite religious herself, but kept it in check when we were young as Daddy Blue Witch isn't) counselled, "BW, you are going to have to come to terms with the fact that the Law in this country requires schools to teach R.E. Please try to be polite to the teacher of that subject, even though your own views may differ."

Having been given my timetable on my first day at Big School, I came home and delightedly informed Mummy BW that she was wrong, and that I wasn't going to have to suffer after all. Mummy BW took my timetable from my grubby mitt and said, "Well, BW, what do you think Scripture is then?" "Well, handwriting, of course!" I replied :)

Anyway, I went on to impress the teacher (one 70 year old Miss C***) by my impeccably good manners and wonderful essays. My excellent memory for nonsense allowed me to come top of the class in every Scripture exam that I ever took. I don't think I got below 90% once. She even gave me 99% in one 3rd form end-of-year exam. This helped greatly in boosting my overall points score to allow me to sit happily at the top of the class throughout my 4 years there, despite not liking Latin, for the simple reason that I had absolutely no idea what a noun and a verb were, at that age, because aforementioned maverick primary school headteacher also didn't believe in teaching grammar, or spelling.

Miss C*** even told Daddy BW at a 4th form parents' evening "Oh, BW is a delightful Witch, so keen on my subject. Such a good understanding of the facts. So spiritual, so enlightened. I just know she has a vocation as a missionary." Daddy BW came home and demanded to know what *exactly* I had been saying to her. He was also concerned that there might be some truth in what he had been told. I was able to reassure him. I wasn't sure that he quite believed me. Something that happened a couple of weeks later definitely provided the proof he was seeking, but, that’s a blog for another time.

Via Moi comes the

Just for Miss C*** and old-time's sake I did the quiz.
They categorised my "beliefs" as:

1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Neo-Pagan (88%)
3. Liberal Quakers (87%)
4. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (87%)
5. New Age (86%)
6. Theravada Buddhism (79%)
7. Secular Humanism (77%)
8. Mahayana Buddhism (76%)
9. New Thought (62%)
10. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (57%)

In last place at 26 and 27 were Islam and RC (12% each). That was a relief :)

And guess what, Unitarian Universalism covers just about every eventuality - the description is characterised by phrases like, "very diverse beliefs", "some believe".... Obviously what they dish-up to mis-fits :) I'm very pleased I didn't leave my email address...

This Witch is not for converting, congregating or conforming.

This Witch believes in the Power of Witch :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 6:43 am....  
Thought for the day

The highest fences we need to climb are those we've built in our own minds.
   posted by Blue Witch at 6:30 am....

   Thursday, April 24, 2003  
Places to ponder

For those of us who have been / are still struggling with the whole blogging concept recently, may I recommend this and this? (found via language hat).
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:47 am....  

Thought for the day

When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you sometimes find that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out in the open and has other people looking at it.

Winnie-the-Pooh - A.A. Milne
   posted by Blue Witch at 6:01 am....

   Wednesday, April 23, 2003  
Patriotic Witch today
Useless facts

At The Coven, 17 pints of milk, 40 hot cross buns, 3 packets of 50 Assam teabags, half a packet of sugar and most of a jar of coffee have been consumed by us, workers and visitors in the last 7 days. 17 pints of milk? OK, so I did make a jaffa cake trifle, but, that only used 2 pints, and no-one has drunk glasses of milk...

If you put "witch" into Google, it finds BW at number 60 (of about 3,350,000). That's worrying.

If you put "blue witch" into Google, it finds BW at number 1 (of about 530,000). That's very worrying.

In the last 3 days, the following Google searches have led here:

- sharm topless
- keeping and caring for white fantail doves
- deepak's tooting
- problems filling fiat punto with petrol
- flirty teenage sayings
- blue witch (3 times)
- Quote "they came for the jews and I did nothing..."
- witch (3 times)
- search invite door house indoors telephone watch (2 times)
- iraqi musclemen
- the hardest military gay sex
- campsites for families in wiltshire
- blogger templets
- MIp of alcohol ticket prices
- rude flirty text messages

Not a metatag in sight either :)

I've been inserting a few select ;) phrases recently, as you may have noticed.
Let's see how long it is before they appear.

And, by the way, 11 and 12 were consecutive searches ;)

   posted by Blue Witch at 4:45 pm....  
Patriotic Witch today
Gender issues

And so it was, on the 5th day, the cement mixer was allowed to return to its spiritual home (aka the hire shop). Finished making cement at 9.30pm last night and had to clean up in the dark (cos the PIR detector on the outside light is in need of replacement). Just about found the energy this morning to help Mr BW lift the cement mixer into the Blue Broomstick. No sooner had I despatched him to work, than the office furniture delivery/assembly man turned up. Or rather a pair of them arrived. The one from yesterday had brought his mate with him. Presumably for protection against Cross Witches.

I don't go in for regional accents much. The only one I have a soft-spot for is a male Geordie accent. 2nd delivery/assembly man was a Geordie. Also knew something about bees, and bought 3 jars of honey on his way out. So I have forgiven them for the mess-up with the metal strut yesterday. And my new desk is now fully functional. More space for my Witchy Working Clutter.

So, I then proceeded into the local town to return the cement mixer. I'd forgotten it was market day, and the school holidays. So, I was sitting in a queue of traffic, outside the Co-Op, with a Bruce CD playing loudly, with the bass turned right up (I was in that sort of mood, I usually am considerate and turn the music down when in inhabited areas), when suddenly there was a knock on the window. I pressed a button and the window rolled down a bit. A navy blue uniform said, "Deaf are we? Keep the noise down sonny!"

Well, I did have on a very baggy t-shirt, a pair of old joggers, and I do have short hair, and I hadn't bothered to put on any make-up (the delivery man wasn't worth it ;) as I was going on from the hire shop to have my hair cut and would need a shower to get rid of the nasty tickly bits when I came home), but "SONNY"??

I resisted the urge to come out with that classic Dawn French Vicar of Dibley line. I turned the music right off. I stared him straight in the eye and said, "Sonny, it's *Madam* to you!"

He even apologised.
So he should have.
I'm old enough to be his mother :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 11:40 am....  
Patriotic Witch today
Calm roles do not work when you turn on your PC and find that *all* of your passwords and *all* of your internet history (which usually hangs around for 21 days) have magically disappeared overnight.

I do not have time for these games today dear PC. Please be nice to me...
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:50 am....  
Patriotic Witch today
Thought for the day

Play a calm role.
Pretend you are calm.
Adopt the characteristics of a calm person.
Pretend that others see you as a calm person.
In no time at all you'll be a calm person.
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:48 am....

   Tuesday, April 22, 2003  
It could only happen to Blue Witch

10.35am, doorbell rings.

BW: Gosh, a delivery company arriving at the time arranged, that's novel! I'm impressed. My new office desk and drawers are going up here (indicating The Inner Coven).

Young delivery/assembly man: Wot, up there? I ain't sure about that... I'm on me own y'see.

BW: I'm sure you'll manage, a strong lad like you. But, be a bit careful, won't you? I don't want any lumps out of my wall or staircase.

Young delivery/assembly man: Any chance of a cup if tea?

BW: I'm sorry, I can't leave you alone in my Inner Coven due to the nature of the work I do and the confidential information that is around.

Young delivery/assembly man: Oh, right. [gets on with unpacking and assembling large desk. Several minutes pass.] Fuck!

BW: [Disapprovingly] No, sorry, that's not one of the services I offer.

Young delivery/assembly man: Oh, sorry Mrs Witch. Didn't mean it like that... Just that they've sent the wrong length support bar. You can't have your desk today now.

BW: But if it's only a bar, someone can bring the correct one over here, or pay a courier to, right?

Young delivery/assembly man: Erm, erm, erm, no, it'll be a week or so, it'll need to be ordered...

BW: [Very calmly, but very assertively] That's a shame. That's going to be very costly for someone. I have a client coming later. I've wasted 2 hours sorting everything out to make space for the new desk, and it will take me another half hour to put it all back, then another half hour to get it all out for when you have got the right parts. So, let's say 3 hours of my time wasted. That doesn't please me. So, suppose you ring your boss and tell him that he's looking at around £150 for my wasted time. Alternatively, as I'm a reasonable Witch, and if you can arrange to get it here for first thing tomorrow morning, and I do mean first thing, then I may be able to overlook the wasted time.

Delivery/assembly man: [Gulps, looks scared] I'll see what I can do Mrs Witch. [Exits and uses his mobile phone from the driveway, unaware that I can hear all as I have the window of The Inner Coven wide open] She's really mad boss, if we don't sort it she'll have me for dinner, I wouldn't want to cross her [pause] I'm not telling her that! If that's the answer then you can speak to her! [pause] OK, so if I agree to come in an hour early tomorrow so I can do it as the first job, can you get the part? [pause] You can? Brill! You don't know what you've spared me from! [Comes back into The Coven] Oh, Mrs Witch, yes, my boss says that will be no problem at all. He's very sorry for all the inconvenience. I'll be here bright and early tomorrow morning to finish the job. Will 8am be OK for you?

BW: That will be fine, thank you. By the way, you've made a bit of a mess on the floor in my Inner Coven. The Dyson is up there, would you mind just cleaning up a bit before you go?

Delivery/assembly man: Actually, I was just going to ask if you had a cleaner so I could tidy up!

Motto: be clear what you want from a situation that has gone wrong and don't be palmed off.

I am a nice Witch most of the time, honest, I just don't like being messed around :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 1:04 pm....  
Trying to decide whether this or this* (via neveratoss) is the hottest contender for the "Make BW Laugh Award of the Week" for this week (BTW I've copyrighted that one ;) ).

Last week it was won by NB Peter , and the first week I can't remember who I gave it to, but it was funny at the time (if it was you, apologies, and let me know. I have the memory of a goldfish, only worse, for trivia).

Nothing like announcing a new feature after it's started, now is there :)

Weekly winners will be announced every weekend.
You have been challenged.

* actually, only original blog funnies (not blog links) count, so it's a one-horse race at the moment.
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:53 am....  
The Witching Hour

I'm a strange Witch. You all know that by now ;)

For company I have the birds and the bees (hens and white doves (oh - forgot to say - they seem to be sitting on eggs again, so hopefully there will be Oveletts in a couple of weeks) and honey bees) and a ginger fluffy cat ;)

So, don't expect me to keep normal witching hours either. I've always been like a cave-woman - awake when it's light and asleep as soon as it gets dark. Most inconvenient in winter, which is why I turn into a SAD Witch then. But, I love this time of year. The hour or two between when the light comes back into the world and when most of the rest of the world wakes up is my favourite time. It's a very peaceful, yet thought-inspiring and creative time.

I am undoubtedly a morning person. I can get more done in the first two hours of the day than in all the rest.

So, this morning, waking early, as the sun was coming up and the dawn chorus was starting, I forced my aching and bruised body from my bed and made tea, which I took into The Coven Grounds. Walking round, sipping tea, admiring our handiwork in building The Turret over the Bank Holiday (there is nothing so thrilling to me as looking at something that Mr BW and I have created together), looking at the new flowers that have come out in the tubs and borders, planning what to move or plant where next, breathing the crisp, fresh, morning air, cut through with the bright sun's rays, seeing a kestrel, a hare, a rabbit and three pheasants in the field behind, having Blanche D'Ove flying round with me and the hens and Fluffy following me around..... Magic, pure magic :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:27 am....  
Thought for the day

Rushing is something we have invented. It is man-made. Since it was invented by humans we can uninvent it.

   posted by Blue Witch at 7:27 am....

   Monday, April 21, 2003  
Bank Holidays Chez Les Bleus

Considering that I'm a female Witch, I don't reckon I've done badly. Yesterday's eye candy had it's price (you'd have to visit the comments boxes I do to understand that one ;) and, sorry Darren, no pics, cos I wouldn't like it if he put one of me up on his blog (if he had one) without asking, so I'm not putting one of him up here, and anyway, Dave might be upset ;) ).

Today I was out there, shifting sand and gravel and playing with the cement mixer again. 2 more tonnes of cement - this time, foundations for the floor of the new feature (which a near neighbour has named "The Turret" (Mr BW thinks we should get a cannon to top it off with now)) and a plinth for the seat to sit on. It was quite fun playing a workman though.

Mr BW is *so* untidy when he's working, it really drives me mad. Look, I even got a black sack out so he could put the empty cement bags and used latex gloves straight in - but no, he still insisted on throwing them just anywhere and then watching while I picked them up. And tool abuse.... when I think how my father and grandfather used to polish theirs, they would not be impressed if they saw Mr BW throwing them about any old where, covered in all sorts of stuff. Plus, we got an absolutely brand spanking new cement mixer from the hire shop, so it has to go back looking clean. So - it's obvious - keep it clean as you go, hose it off at every opportunity. Except that Mr BW thought it was easiest to get it as messy as possible then get me to clean it off at the end. Never ask someone who sits somewhere on the OCD continuum to clean up a cement mixer... It took me bloody hours.

To give you some idea of how we work - think Tommy Walsh, without the attitude (and some of the weight) but just as much stamina, for Mr BW, and Charlie Dimmock, with more attitude, but with less hair and a bra, and that's me. So, we are absolutely knackered. Every last muscle is making its presence felt. Have to think really hard to even get one foot to walk in front of the other. We were even too tired to talk to each other as we were making something to eat earlier.

I think it's bed time.
Night night blogworld said Blue Witch.
   posted by Blue Witch at 6:45 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Question for the day

Is it safe for the candle and rose to retire yet?

   posted by Blue Witch at 6:36 am....  

a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Thought for the day

To see and acknowledge the negative in a situation and embrace whatever positive is there - that is the true definition of courage.

   posted by Blue Witch at 6:35 am....

   Sunday, April 20, 2003  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
In two minds

I'm always really interested in things that bring together psychological knowledge and research to provide a new slant or add a different angle to subjects. Over at bignjuicyville on Thursday, drD linked to an article from the Guardian 'Life' supplement by Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology and Co-Director of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge. He has conducted extensive research into autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) at the psychological, diagnostic, and neuroscientific levels.

His latest theory, which emanates from his work in this area (and attempts to explain ASDs - now thought to affect 1 person in 200 - in these terms), is The empathising-systemising (E-S) theory.

His theory is that the female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy, and that the male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems.

"Empathising is the drive to identify another person's emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion. The empathiser intuitively figures out how people are feeling, and how to treat people with care and sensitivity. Systemising is the drive to analyse and explore a system, to extract underlying rules that govern the behaviour of a system; and the drive to construct systems. The systemiser intuitively figures out how things work, or what the underlying rules are controlling a system. Systems can be as varied as a pond, a vehicle, a computer, a maths equation, or even an army unit. They all operate on inputs and deliver outputs, using rules.

According to this theory, a person (whether male or female) has a particular "brain type". There are three common brain types: for some individuals, empathising is stronger than systemising. This is called the female brain, or a brain of type E. For other individuals, systemising is stronger than empathising. This is called the male brain, or a brain of type S. Yet other individuals are equally strong in their systemising and empathising. This is called the "balanced brain", or a brain of type B. There are now tests you can take to see which type (E, S, or B) you are. Not which type you'd like to be, but which you actually are.

A key feature of this theory is that your sex cannot tell you which type of brain you have. Not all men have the male brain, and not all women have the female brain. The central claim of this new theory is only that on average, more males than females have a brain of type S, and more females than males have a brain of type E. "

Clichéd, stereotypical tales of the relative strengths of men and women always annoy me. I noticed that even the BBC's Breakfast TV programme this morning were trying to generate reaction from the audience on a slow-news day by reviving the "Are women bad drivers?" debate. BUT, the E-S theory goes beyond such anecdotal evidence to pull together the scientific evidence, and investigate the origins of the identifiable sex differences. It draws from scientific research on children's play, non-verbal interactions, social interactions, eye contact, vocational preferences, directional skills, clinical studies of genetic conditions etc etc. There's lots more information in the article.

In my opinion, Baron-Cohen's synthesis of current knowledge and research is skilful. Where it falls down is in the attempt provide pop-psychology appeal with its 2 tests of 60 questions each, one to give an empathy quotient and the other a systemising quotient. As any A level Psychology student will tell you, never, never, should multiple-choice questions be written as negatives! Baron-Cohen's tests are full of them: "I don't like to take risks", "When I'm in a plane, I do not think about the aerodynamics", "I don't consciously work out the rules of social situations", "I do not read legal documents very carefully", "I can usually appreciate the other person's viewpoint, even if I don't agree with it". Try rating those on a scale: agree strongly - agree slightly - disagree slightly - disagree strongly, particularly when the question before it has been phrased positively!


I did my own bit of research (purely for professional reasons you understand ;) and found that:

My Empathy Quotient score is 57 (This apparently means I have an above average ability for understanding how other people feel and responding appropriately and that I know how to treat people with care and sensitivity. Most women score about 47 and most men about 42)

My Systemizing Quotient score is 55 (This apparently means that I have a very high ability for analysing and exploring a system. On average women score about 24 and men score about 30. Almost no women - but lots of people with Asperger's Syndrome - score at this level)

So, now it's official. I'm a freak. Can't possibly have an Asperger-like ability to analyse things and be overly empathetic, can I?

Positive affirmation is all I ever need, so that's fine now, I'll just take myself off to find someone to empathise with and sort out. Ah....... yes... looks like we are all drawn towards vocations that exploit our natural strengths.... :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 11:42 am....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Thought for the day

This was first sent to me four years ago. I've seen it many times since. I still like it. I've added one on the end.

What I've learned.

I've learned - that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is pursue them and hope they panic and give in.

I've learned - that no matter how much I care, some people are just assholes.

I've learned - that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you'd better have a big dick or huge tits.

I've learned - that you shouldn't compare yourself to others - they are more fucked up than you think.

I've learned - that it's taking me a long time to sleep with the person I want.

I've learned - you should always leave loved ones with loving words. You may need to borrow money.

I've learned - that either you control your attitude or you will be offered medication.

I've learned - that money is a great substitute for character.

I've learned - that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down will be the ones who do so.

I've learned - that just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to doesn't mean you can't take advantage of them when they're passed out and naked in your bed.

I've learned - that your family won't always be there for you. Unless, of course, you win the lottery.

I've learned - that no matter how good a guy is, he'll eventually revert.

I've learned - that two people can screw the exact same person and compare notes.

I've learned - that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon. And all the less important ones just never go away.

I've learned - to say "Fuck them if they can't take a joke" in 6 languages.

I've learned - not to try to give up blogging. Cos people round here are too nice, and many of them seem to have been there too. Thank you all for your support in recent days. It's time I stopped worrying about appearing "professional" and "detached" to those I work with and started accepting that I'm human. It's what I spend my life telling people, after all. And, if you're one of them, and you're shocked by what you've found/will find here, then see just above.

   posted by Blue Witch at 6:40 am....

   Saturday, April 19, 2003  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Thought for the day

What's the difference between a 'friend' and an 'acquaintance'?

How many people know the difference?
How many people acknowledge the difference?
How many people use the term 'friend' when they really mean 'acquaintance'?

   posted by Blue Witch at 6:23 am....

   Friday, April 18, 2003  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Mein Gott!

I've just been Googled and translated!

Was das gut?

Not sure about "Blaue Hexe" though.
I prefer "La sorciere bleu" if I *have* to be differentially linguified.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:17 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Building the future

Well, Witchy has had a lovely day mixing 2 tonnes of sand and gravel and 6 bags of cement into the foundations for a curved wall 16 feet long and 7 feet high. It's great being IC on the building site. Specially when the builder-in-chief (don't worry, it's Mr BW) is very fanciable all covered in concrete ;) Ages ago (go find your own link) I was talking about the £55K annual salary of bricklayers at Heathrow. I reckon I just might give it a go :) Who needs gyms when you have The Coven Grounds? We'll have spent less on the whole project (including paying someone to lay the blocks on Sunday) than on 6 months gym membership and I know which one will be most beneficial. Muscular Witch now ;) That is, Achy Muscle Witch...
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:42 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Am I the only person getting "SHIVA Faryade by Seda" - a page in what could be Arabic - when clicking on Brick's blog? (either from my link in the LH bar or by typing it in?). I have been doing spells to get this new wall garden feature of ours up quickly, but I thought they'd been answered favourably yesterday when we found someone to do the bricklaying for a few quid on Sunday (he's not religious, obviously!) which will save Mr BW crucifying himself doing it. Sorry, Brick, if it's me wonky spells....

Off to play the other brickie's mate now....
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:54 am....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
It's so easy to mis-read things, isn't it?
They can then often take on a totally different significance and effect your whole way of conceptualising things and acting.

Yesterday my daily calendar page said, "Believe your beliefs are reality." Usually, when I tear off the previous day's page and uncover the fresh thought (a few of the "Thought for the day"s come from this source), I think either, "Yep, I agree with that," "That's nicely put," "Nope, doesn't apply to me," or "That's plain weird."

I read "Believe your beliefs are reality" and thought "I knew it - it's a sign!" This morning, I've noticed the top line to this text, which says (albeit in smaller print), "You're losing your sense of humour when you:"

I have lived in my head for long enough now to accept that when things start getting scrambled (like they have been this week) it's usually because the neurotransmitters are unbalanced. It took me a long time to accept that these messenger chemicals affect the mental every bit as much as the physical aspects of well-being. Well, I guess I superficially accept it, because although I'd probably take medication prescribed if I had a physical illness or disease, I have always refused pharmaceutical support for what goes on inside my head. I've always been convinced that there are other ways of sorting things out, rebalancing and re-directing, and that going the short route is only storing up trouble for the longer-term.

Yesterday morning I realised that things were badly out of control in my head. There was too much going on. I was really taken off-guard by the supportive and perceptive comments/emails from so many of you to my recent post when, actually, I thought there may not be any comment at all (I've put up deep and meaningful stuff before and not any feedback). I was still totally undecided what to do with BW.

I noticed, for the first time in months, that I had lost all sense of time. Control over time is something that is important to me, because it is a way of either tightening up, and imposing structure on myself, or of letting go and challenging myself to accept that it's OK not to be trying to be superwoman and fit a week's worth of everything into a day. It is Power, the Ultimate Control.

When the temporal distortion started happening, I got scared. Really scared. I found that I couldn't relax - the usual trick of half an hour in the bath with the bubbles on full made no difference whatsoever and I was still tense; I could feel my muscles contracted and tight. I was totally unable to access any of the relaxation techniques that are usually second-nature to me. I was walking around the house feeling as if I could kill someone. I hasten to add that I am not usually a violent person, and over the years I have learnt to control my frustrations to within a centimetre of "normal".

The post brought some standard letters that made me angry. I rang up the companies concerned and was aggressive rather than assertive, but got exactly what I wanted, and more, in compensation for their errors. £50 in my pocket. Good. Usually Value Witch would have been delighted by this, but she was nowhere to be found. Things were bad ;)

I wandered into the garage/workshop, got annoyed by the amount of clutter that had built up in there again (materials for this weekend's Mr BW Project - a 5.5m x 2.3 metre wall, some plants that wouldn't fit in the greenhouses but still need frost protection, old duvets to be made into cushions for the New Wall Project), and suddenly saw something for me to take my frustration out on. No, don't worry, not long-haired ginger cat Fluffy, who does live in there!

So, time distorted again and I spent the next - not quite sure how long but probably about - 20 minutes knocking hell out of the punchbag that I bought 6 years ago, but hadn't touched for maybe the last 3. This strategy was the idea of a very old friend who is also a stress-magnet but destresses himself by kick boxing. Trying to help pick me up after my breakdown in 1997, he attempted to convince me to take this up, but I don't enjoy physical contact sports and couldn't bring myself to accept that the other person had to look after their own personal safety and that it was OK to hit, kick, whatever, them as hard as you could. Me, I worry too much about hurting other people, whether it be emotionally or physically. Kick boxing just wasn't going to be the answer for me. But, despite my reservations, I did follow his advice and buy a punchbag. Once I got over the mental hurdle of accepting that it was OK to translate mental anguish into a very physical output form, I found it very therapeutic. Indeed, it's now something I regularly recommend to parents and teachers working with angry acting-out youngsters. And it works.

I hate pain. I know that you shouldn't hit a punchbag without protective handwear. But I always do. Somehow the force of the physical contact breaks through the fuzz in my brain and starts the process of the out-of-control chemicals sorting themselves out.

So it was that I was nearly calm and nearly in control of my head again when Steve arrived with some 'medicine' for my recent state - written words of wisdom from Rebecca Blood and his lap-top to give me a run-through some of the project-from-hell work he has been doing. Readers of myacelife will know the anguish that elements of this project have caused, but the results are truly brilliant. In the course of my work, I see a lot of mediocre educational software, or stuff that could so easily have been good had a bit more thought and imagination been put into its development. Or had someone with enough skill been involved.... I just hope that this gets the exposure and use from children that it deserves. BTW Steve, can you knock up some of those little post-it notes to work in Word documents please, because I want some... :)

I was sort-of telling Steve about the punchbag episode. Sort-of, because I hadn't quite worked it out at the time we were talking, and because, well, if someone I'd only met twice suddenly started telling me they'd spent half an hour knocking hell out of a punchbag just before I'd arrived, I might start fearing for my personal safety ;) I don't know whether he was shocked, but he did make a very astute comment that threw a new light that I hadn't thought of. Until then I hadn't realised that I am actually quite good at listening to my body/head telling me when I am stressed now. And only when one can recognise the signs can one do anything about them. Sometimes acknowledgment is useful. Thanks Steve.

I am addicted to speed. Of a physical rather than chemical type I hasten to add. Although I think my sort is probably the more addictive. Unfortunately for me, I live in the UK county with the highest number of speed cameras, both fixed and mobile, and an ever-increasing number of roads with very restricted speed limits for no obvious reason. I also have a strong sense of responsibility and abhor dangerous driving. So, I don't speed in my car (except on motorways, and then only 'where safe' and within 20mph of the limit cos then you get done on a fixed penalty), and I try hard to keep to the 30s and 40s when on the bike. I'm generally a very law-abiding person (I can make enough stress for myself, why make it worse?!). But, given a clear, dry, bit of road with little other traffic around, I will wind it up a bit when out on Black Beauty (as I call my bike).

Black Beauty thinks she is a 1200 rather than a 600, and, last time she was serviced, the bloke in the garage told me she went better than any 600 Bandit he'd ever ridden. So, yesterday, having had a nice little slalom through the lanes between here and the M11, and a nice little blast down the M11, avoiding the cameras (erm, I hope....) with Steve, I got frustrated with the weight of traffic on the A12 on the way back (I hate lane-splitting, having once been deliberately almost squashed by 2 jealous lorry drivers stuck in 10mph traffic on the M25) and took some cross-country short cuts with some nice skill-testing 90 degree bends and loose gravel, before getting back onto the A12. I've previously had 121 (on the speedo) out of the bike once when up in Suffolk, and I suddenly had an urge to see what I could hit. There was little traffic around and no cameras on that stretch. So, I got up to 128mph. That's at least 20 more than a 600 should be able to do, and roughly what a 1200 will do. Ooops. Naughty Fast Witch. Still, the adrenaline rush seems to have sorted my head out again. A tank of fuel seems a very cheap price for such a feat. Remind me to go for a spin on the bike next time I get like I was, won't you?

Now I need to go and get that cement mixer from the hire shop for Mr BW's Wall Project...

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:51 am....

   Thursday, April 17, 2003  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Thought for the day

Confusion, confusion...

AKA Life....

Thank you all, sincerely, for all your comments and emails to my post yesterday. It's always encouraging and helpful to find that one isn't alone in attempting to make sense of something where there isn't an obvious solution.

Now I'm getting fascinated by the parallels in other's experience here. I suppose they shouldn't be that surprising to me, given that we must all choose to read just a few blogs from the many thousands out there according to some, probably subconscious, criteria that mean they ring some sort of bell with us. Which must, surely, make it more likely that we will have shared or similar experiences?

If I was in a 'bloggy' rather than 'sympathy needed' mood, I'd be telling you about the visit of a couple of Mr BW's oldest friends to The Coven last night. Complete with 5 year old and 4 month old boys. But, I really must ask one question. WHY is it that parents of kids don't clean up the mess their kids make in your bathroom when they go in after them? WHY? Fortunately, my wonderful cleaner is coming in this afternoon rather than tomorrow (my one real 'luxury' that, and worth every penny that I pay her as I would otherwise spend all week obsessing about housework). I have taped up the door so I don't forget and go in there by mistake. Yuck.

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:57 am....

   Wednesday, April 16, 2003  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Dilemma at The Coven

Not quite sure where this post / line of thought is going to finish up, so I'll just start and see where it goes. It's probably going to turn into a ramble, but see if you can follow...

Despite appearances sometimes, I am a very private person. Possibly because of the sort of work I do, but more, I suspect, due to upbringing and life events (which undoubtedly led me into the sort of work I do).

I never intended to start a blog. I just got fascinated by the psychological and sociological aspects, and got drawn in. Once I started, I found myself spending more and more time and thought on it. Possibly not to the exclusion of other things, as I used to spend a lot of time contributing to various internet education forums and financial discussion boards, and it was just transfered interest / time.

I am a dreadful perfectionist. I used to be very competitive. But, bitter experience has tempered my once cutting ambition. I now know when to stop, or not to start something because it's never going to be good enough. Or, perhaps more correctly, it's never going to be good enough for me, given the amount of effort that I am prepared to put in, or commit to. That's how I feel about the BW template. I know it's a mess in all but Internet Explorer. Mr Wiz gave me a copy of Netscape which I loaded, but then took off again (partly because it tried to take over my computer, but mainly because I couldn't bear to see BW looking imperfect). In it's present format, it is far from perfect anyway, and Mr Wiz has put together a simpler, cleaner template for me. All I have to do is transfer over the codes for the links, rings, stats, comments etc, but it all seems like too much effort, because, at the end of the day, I am in total awe of what most of the rest of you do with your code. If I can't compete, I won't play.

My life is very different to most people's of my age. Mr BW and I have chosen not to have Witchletts. We're not particularly interested in the media, celebrities, sport, socialising with people we don't know well, consumerism, or non-sustainable over-consumption. We are as green as we can be without becoming freaky. As our ACORN profile says, "They rarely notice advertisements in newspapers and magazines and have a low level of interest in new brands." However, I enjoy reading blogs written by people who have a very different lifestyle and world view to me, and hope that they may be similarly intrigued by mine.

Last week, by sheer Google fluke, and because I posted something from one of the education forums that I read / contribute to (or used to, pre-blog), the person who originally posted the funny found BW while looking for it, after having lost it. Word quickly spread and other people I know well, personally as well as in cyberspace, discovered BW. I think that they were quite surprised. I've deliberately never revealed much personal information on here (things are too traceable in these technological days and I am cautious, to be honest, bloody paranoid, but, long ago I learnt that just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not all out to get me :) ) and, deliberately cautious about what I write (sometimes using the non-Google-able comments boxes to add information) I hadn't expected to be found quite so easily.

Also, last week, Mummy BW asked me where to find some information and I told her what to put into Google. As I said it, I realised that I'd mentioned said item in BW, and, knowing how high up a lot of searches I've featured, I have since lived in fear of the phone call informing me that she has found it and doesn't approve. 15 or so years ao, my brother found it necessary to go on Kilroy as the "featured person" to let my mother know how much he resented the pressure she put on him to do well academically and how this caused him to fail first his A levels, then his final degree exams. I well remember how hurt she was by this, and wouldn't like her to feel the same way about anything she might read in BW.

All of a sudden I stopped feeling secure about being able to use BW as an outlet for some things I needed to put into words and share with the People in the Great Unknown of cyberspace. I suddenly felt very exposed and vulnerable. I found it hard to write anything other than trivia. My creativity disappeared. Which is a shame as I'd actually begun to enjoy being creative rather than the serious, formal and factual that I usually have to be in my written expression.

Being someone whose livelihood derives from personal interactions with people, I also find electronic communication difficult. Up to 70% of any communication is non-verbal, and all that is lost in email or written blogs. I can be quite challenging in real life. That's what people pay me to do. So, my style is direct and honest. There is one thing you will always get from me and that is honesty. I just don't know how to be any other way. I'm bad at hiding what I feel, and would rather be up-front and open about something, even it is difficult, than live with the fall-out of internalised and non-expressed thought. However, knowing someone who is very different to this and has a totally different outlook on the world to me has helped me to understand the balance better than I used to, and this has helped here.

My personal interactional style doesn't always translate well in just writing. Hence why I use a lot of smileys to indicate when I am having a little bit of fun or having a wry, not to be taken too seriously, dig at something or somebody. Despite the way I push and challenge people, I dislike conflict. In days when I was younger and cared less, I'd head straight for / at situations, and tackle the issue head on. Now I often avoid situations totally, or withdraw rapidly from ones that are feeling uncomfortable.

I also find it hard to cope with rejection. I got far too upset and despondent about BW's delisting earlier in the week from a blog that I enjoy visiting and find amusing and sometimes thought-provoking (all now resolved, but, I think, a result of misunderstanding of a comment too far). Actually, I find the whole thing of links quite difficult. I know that there are far, far, more blogs linking to BW than I link to. That isn't because I don't think they are worth being linked to, it is because I can be quite obsessive and, if I was to put a link on my sidebar, I would want to read it every day, and, I just don't have the time to commit to that level of involvement, with everything else I do (or rather, should do). If you're someone who links to me but I don't link back, that doesn't mean that I don't visit you (if I see you appearing in my stats, I'll usually follow you back). And I do have a "favourites folder" of "blogs linking to me" which I browse if I have some surf-time :)

So, here it is.... in short:

I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with BW as a vehicle for my thoughts any more, now that people I know and work with professionally have found it. I'm not happy letting them see a different side to me. I am a pretty paranoid and insecure person, and it seems too threatening. Maybe it's something I need to come to terms with, rather than running away from. I'm not sure.

It hasn't helped that none of them have commented (either in the comments or by email). I guess I'm a feedback junkie. If people don't tell me what they think, I assume the worst. I hate it on days when my commenting system is down (although, to be honest, pro-Enetation is on a separate server to the free version I initially used and is very much more reliable. Plus they email comments to you as soon as they are made, which is great as it means you don't have to keep refreshing the page to check!).

This all seems very cold and clinical, raw and unformed. I haven't really spent a lot of time thinking about this. It's just growing unease. But, I know I can sometimes be impulsive (although, to be fair to myself, not so often these days). I hate woolly thinking and indecisiveness, and need to make decisions having weighed up all the factors. Decisions and guidance for other people I do on a daily basis. Decisions for me can be much harder. Mr BW has learnt that when I can't make a snap decision it's because I am not totally convinced, and he never pushes. When I am not totally convinced, we never do something, because if we do, I will hate it in the long-term.

So, I'm left wondering what to do with Blue Witch.

Mr BW and I talked for an hour last night about it. He still doesn't understand the attraction of blogging, but can see that it was, until recently, having a beneficial effect on my mental state and general mood. He suggested that BW takes a holiday, go to Salem or something. Someone else whose thoughts, opinions and honesty I have come to respect and value a lot since discovering his blog has independently suggested the same to me. The thing is, I'm not the sort of person who finds it easy to make woolly or opt-out decisions, and that seems like it would be one....

Thing is, I'm not totally convinced that I want to give up BW.... but I am not comfortable putting off the decision.

OK, I've tried, "Phone a friend" (well, ask and email). I still don't know. Time to, "Ask the audience," methinks....
   posted by Blue Witch at 6:53 am....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Thought for the day

When is enough enough?
   posted by Blue Witch at 4:09 am....

   Tuesday, April 15, 2003  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Thought for the day

Sometimes we do ridiculous things.
So what?
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:34 am....

   Monday, April 14, 2003  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Blue Witch's Challenge of the Day:

Read the passage, then answer the questions:

The Cordanic is an emurient grof with many fribs; it granks from corite, an olg which cargs like lange. Corite grinkles several other tarences, which garkers excarp by glarking the corite and starping it in tranker-clarped storbs. The tarances starp a chark which is exasperated with worters, branking a slorp. This slorp is graped through severeal corusces, finally frasting a pragety, blickant crankle: coranda. Coranda is a cargurt, grinkling corandic and borigen. The corandic is nacerated from the borigen by means of loracity. Thus garkers finally thrap a glick, brackt, glupous, grapant, cordanic, which granks in many sarps.

1. What is a corandic?

2. What does it grank from?

3. How do garkers excarp the trancers from the corite?

Answers and explanations later, unless any of you linguists care to try to upstage me? ;)

(Nicked, without permission, from Education Forum Ruth ;) Thanks Ruth.)

   posted by Blue Witch at 2:32 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
We had a bit of a panic at The Coven yesterday afternoon.

Now that the D'Oves have decided that we are OK as Ove Keepers (unlike the last ones who flew away at the first opportunity (bastards)), Mr BW took off the aviary type contraption that had first kept them in the dovecote for a couple of weeks, then helped them find home when they first flew. I cleaned out and disinfected their compartment, and put in fresh bedding and put back some of their previous twigs and straw nesting materials.

They watched us with their black beady eyes from the apex of the house roof, where they spend most of their waking hours, when they're not doing beautiful acrobatics in view of my window (I swear that Mr BW has programmed them to fly past occasionally just to check I am working ;)

Then, they came back to the dovecote to inspect what we'd done. Weiss nearly knocked himself out flying into one of the false compartments (a black painted piece of wood over the front of the arched door, cos we don't want too many D'Oves). Blanche took one look in her rearranged compartment and made it very clear that she disliked my housekeeping. She then started looking into the other empty compartments. I was wailing, "But there's no newspaper and bedding in those, they'll make such a mess, I'll never get them clean!" (not that I'm obsessive, or anything ;) Then, they vanished.

I was convinced that they had deserted us, just like the last ones.

I was just tidying away everything we'd had out in the garden when Mr BW gave a shout "BW, come quick!" In my haste to get from the potting area to where he was I nearly fell into the pond. And, when I arrived, he said, "Look they're on the summerhouse roof, bob, bob bob, nodding their heads and things." Well, I thought it would be quite good to have a video of D'Oves, erm, courtship routines, so dashed off to get the videocamera. By the time I returned they were just sitting staring into each other's eyes.

Later, as the sun was setting, we were sitting by the pond admiring the way the spring bulbs had all come together this year, sipping a nice glass of cold sauvignon blanc and eating macadamia nuts (why can you not get them over here the way you can in the US?), when I suddenly looked up - the D'Oves were at it again. Bob-bob-bob-bob-hop-flap, flapflapflap, hop (translation: Weiss nods, Blanche nods, Weiss nods, Weiss nods, Weiss jumps on Blanche, Weiss flaps his wings 3 times, Weiss hops off). That was it! So, now you know. "Lovey dovey" is a myth. 3 seconds and that's it. Just glad I'm not a dove ;)

Now, will we have Oveletts this time round? Watch this space in 17-18 days...
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:13 am....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Thought for the day

In the future, will finger joint replacements become as popular as hip and knee replacements are now, due to all the typing us computer generation do?
   posted by Blue Witch at 3:33 am....

   Sunday, April 13, 2003  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Well, this may be yet more media manipulation, but, having heard Mr BW's stories of how the Iraq situation is being reported in the US, I suspect that there may be more than a grain of truth in it... (thanks to dustbinman for the link)

I'm trying to persuade Mr BW to guest blog it for us. But he does have rather a lot of things to catch up on after being away from The Coven and The Office for 8 days. Plus he's picked up a nasty aeroplane virus to go with his already lost voice. I'll keep feeding him the hot lemon and honey and hope he gets better soon. Can't have him at home with a sick-note when the new postie gets here in the morning, now can I? (note careful choice of words there) ;)

   posted by Blue Witch at 2:01 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Thought for the day

"Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

- Martin Luther King
   posted by Blue Witch at 2:00 pm....

   Saturday, April 12, 2003  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
The true cost of war.

   posted by Blue Witch at 4:00 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance

Well, the postman spell has finally worked.
And how ;)

Believe me, it was worth waiting for! Every minute of the 4 years I have been complaining to The Management about the fact that, when our regular postie is off sick or on holiday, often we don't get any post (sometimes for days on end), because they don't have anyone who knows the walk. Now, why do they insist on still calling rural van-delivered rounds, "walks" just like the delivery areas in towns that are done on foot? That's just plain daft!

Anyway, I was awoken from my comatose state by the doorbell. I considered not answering it, as often on a Saturday morning it is a honey customer wanting 10 jars rather than the amount he could help himself to from the honey box outside the door for self-service. But, I did. I'm not often asleep at 9.30am, but I was rather tired. So, I stumbled to the door, sort of pulling on my dressing gown as I did. Only I washed it yesterday and hadn't reattached the belt so couldn't tie it up. So it was that I opened the door, and found, standing there, quite the best piece of eye candy I have seen in a long time. All young, cute and smiley and, ooohhhh. Perfectly proportioned. Straight off the cover of any magazine. And wearing shorts. But, sadly, there was me, bleary-eyed, trying to sign for a special delivery item, with my hair in its morning state, without letting my cordless dressing gown reveal all, while at the same time trying to make introductory postman type conversation to something that was quite tasty.

His name's Mark, BTW.
I wonder how I can get a picture of him to share with you?
And how much would it cost me to send myself a signed-for item so that he has to knock on my door every day? ;)
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:59 am....  

a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Thought for the day

"I thought forgiveness meant embracing them and inviting them to dinner. Not long ago someone told me that it's letting go of any hope that the past can be different. It's gone. That freed me."

- Oprah Winfrey
   posted by Blue Witch at 1:39 am....

   Friday, April 11, 2003  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
It's like something from The Birds round here at the moment.

I shouldn't have been doing so many spells at once. Everything I've blogged about recently in the avian line seems to have descended on The Coven in the last half hour.

One of my maran hens has somehow got out from inside the electric netting (fox protection) and is refusing to go back in (no fox protection); Blanche and Weiss are flying around like concordes, they have brought 8 collared doves home to play; there are 2 male pheasants and a hen over in the field squawking away and doing all sorts of things I don't care to watch; the blue tits are intent on building a nest by the bedroom window; and a heron has just arrived. He's almost as tall as me (5'9") and I'm sure he's the same one who cleaned out all the small fish from the pond 2 years ago before we completely netted it and zig-zagged fishing line over it.

I don't think I can go outside right now. Cos I can't remember what happens at the end of the film...

   posted by Blue Witch at 6:02 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
To anyone who ever had a desire to know their fairy name....

Fly over to here and all will be revealed (link via Moi):

Although I can't say I particularly like what Blue Witch translates to:

Milsten AutumnLegs of the Golden Dell

I like it more than what happens if I change my gender:

Fupler AshBelly of the Sleepy Hedges

Unlike many of these kinds of site, this one is consistent over time / visits (look, I was trying to get it to give me a better name, so I went there more than once, OK? ;) ), so maybe it is for real?
   posted by Blue Witch at 4:35 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Well, with the sort of day that I'm having at The Coven so far, I was jolly pleased to find (via b3ta's weekly email today) that I am obviously a good, erm 'gardener' - I got 9/10 on this erm, identification quiz.

I was asking on here a while ago whether anyone knew where I could get some pot plants (plug plants). No-one did. Talking to a friend who is a JP (hedging my bets here, cultivating The Beak, in advance, just in case :) ) the other day, I discovered why. While it is perfectly legal, in this country, to possess the seeds, the minute you germinate them you become a criminal. Now, I always thought that having seeds was a criminal offence too, and could never understood why you could obtain them, but not plants, over the net. Witchy a criminal? Good grief! Perish the thought!!

And if anyone is any good at dealing with dead goldfish in ponds, could they hustle on round to The Coven cos I've got one and it can't stay there until Mr BW gets back tomorrow, nor can I bear to do anything about it. Hopefully Fluffy will find it, fish it out and eat it soon. Hopefully...

Update: I've just found a second part to that quiz. And scored full marks. I must have had a mis-spent youth, mustn't I? ;)
   posted by Blue Witch at 2:54 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Fives: Part 6

I had loads of ideas for this little feature, then I found that there was a long list of similar things, 3 in each category, going around and posted in lots of places in blogland. After that, I lost interest... As with most things, I'm not interested in following the crowd or doing the same things as other people.

But, I still have a list, and I hate having lists with things not crossed off. One reason I use a Palm PDA is that it keeps lists so neat and can tell you exactly what you need to do at any particular place or day or with any particular person. It also automatically archives everything you have done, so if you have one of those days when you feel you never accomplish anything, all you have to do is pull up the "completed items" list on your PDA (or PC, as they work together) and see the proof that it ain't so.

So, by way of closure on this little abandoned feature, here's a few more:

5 celebrities I'd like to meet:

No, can't think of one. I'm so uninterested in this sort of "culture" it's unbelievable.

5 people I'd like to be on a desert island with:

1. Mr BW
Erm, can't think of anyone else I could stand, long-term.

5 things I couldn't live without:

1. Mr BW
If you have found your soul-mate the rest is irrelevant.

5 values that are important to me:

1. Integrity
2. Responsibility
3. Respect
4. Inner harmony
5. Personal development

(My original post on personal values that gives more information about this, definitions of the terms, and a downloadable pesonal values questionnaire to enable you to work out your own PVs, is here)

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:53 am....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembranceThought for the day:

When you know something isn't your fault or under your control, relax - and let the others sputter if they need to do that.
   posted by Blue Witch at 12:02 am....

   Thursday, April 10, 2003  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Here's some light-hearted fun surfing for everyone who feels burdened by stupid bureaucracy and needless form filling. Privacy International has just published the results of their 'Most Stupid Security Measures Named and Shamed' survey:

Full results can be found here. My personal favourite is 'Nomination 19':

"Shortly after Richard Reid's attempt to light his shoes, I boarded a flight from San Francisco to London on British Airways. Travelling alone, I was singled out by the computer for further inspection. The polite inspector informed me that he had to check my shoes for explosives. I dutifully removed them and handed them to him. He picked them up one by one and slammed them down on the floor with full force. Apparently, as they hadn't exploded, they were not dangerous, and he handed them back to me to put back on. Let this be a warning to future terrorists. Your explosive shoes may go off in the crowded departure lounge instead of on board the plane."

Hmmm. *BW thinks*

What are the most pointless, stupid, or counter-productive things that happen in organisations you are involved with?
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:29 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
In a very weird frame of mind this morning, largely because I am really tired. I'm bad at structuring time when Mr BW is away, and I end up staying up way too late. I was brought up within an amazingly structured environment, where meals were at set times, including "elevenses" at 10.45am and cups of tea at 4.00pm. I suppose my current modus operandi is a rebellion against that. In fact, thinking about it, most of the things I do, or don't do, now are a rebellion against how I feel about something that has happened in the past. When I was an employee, I had to be on time at numerous appointments every day. Needless to say, me being me, I was never late. Now I often push things just a little bit, arrive just a bit late, just because I can. There is no-one to tell me off. I hate being told off or criticised. Plus, it then makes people think that if you are so terribly busy that you arrive a bit late, then you must be terribly important ;) (actually, when people arrive late I usually think they are terribly rude, so bang goes my theory...!)

So, having fed the hens, collected the eggs, told the D'Oves they were beautiful, made some tea, I turned on the TV. First story I heard, British Airways and Air France have announced that Concorde will be discontinued from the end of October, and maybe even from 31st May, if passenger numbers don't increase sufficiently. I suspect they will, somehow. Great marketing ploy BA/AF. Well, that's one thing I'll never get to do. Never mind, Mummy and Daddy Blue Witch recently offered me the tiny porcelain salt and pepper pots they had as a souvenir (and yes, they did ask permission!) when they flew to NY in 1980. I will have a piece of history. To go with all my other "pieces of history". You'd probably call it old junk, but I like it, and that's what's important :)

And what do I think about what's happening in Iraq? I *know* that I could never kill anything, let alone anyone. I even have trouble killing a bee if it needs doing. Against that, and my basic belief that everything is ultimately negotiable, it's outside my ability to conceptualise. Simplistic Witch, me. Actually, I am thinking lots, but there are many others around writing much more eloquently about it than I could, so I'll save my fingers.
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:38 am....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Thought for the day

As for domesticity, it ages one rapidly, and distracts one's mind from higher things.

- Oscar Wilde

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:32 am....

   Wednesday, April 09, 2003  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Oooh, weird, weird, I just accidentally hit the wrong link in a sidebar and ended up at Swish Cottage (not one of my regular reads) ... to discover David over there has also been doing a minute-by-minute account. Different perspective, different style, different emphasis. But, the same sentiments about the war. Compare and contrast - that's what blogging is all about, IMHO. Oh, and David, as I write, looks like the head is on its way to you ;)
   posted by Blue Witch at 4:13 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Hmmm... looks like the candle and rose won't be needed for much longer.

I don't think I've ever seen such weird pictures on TV in the afternoon. As I write, the US Marines are trying to pull down the statue of SH in the centre of Baghdad with a series of wires attached to their APC. Fortunately they have now got the Iraqi musclemen with sledgehammers who were attacking the stone pedestal to move back - I was convinced that someone was going to get badly injured the way they were laying into it.

But, it can be so therapeutic to be physical like that. Gets rid of so much pent-up frustration. One of the BW Top Tips for badly behaved kids. Buy them a punchbag (or get them a huge floor cushion - but not one filled with polystyrene chips!). Works for adults too. Don't look what hangs from the rafters of the garage/workshop at The Coven....

Update: they've gone too far now - in addition to the rope noose that the Iraqi people put round SH's neck earlier, the US Marines have now covered the head with a Stars and Stripes. Sorry, but that is an AFFRONT to the people who have died - ah they agree, it's come off again...

3.40pm Update 2: flag now replaced by the Iraqi flag....

3.48pm: Update 3: it's down. Well, dangling head-down off its base anyway... "A Symbolic and Emotional Moment."
   posted by Blue Witch at 3:36 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Budget Witch

Regular readers will know how much Witchy likes examining the minutiae of any sort of budget. Whether it be ways of getting more out of the GCP (Gross Coven Product), the accounts of a local group I am involved with, or the overall budget for the UK, Witchy loves it.

Far from being an economist, and no great mathematician, I do know the basics of accountancy and can read a balance sheet. I am also very logical, and have a good memory for things financial. This helps a lot.

I always enjoy watching the Budget Speech, and have my scruffy notes from the past 6 years stored away in my filing system. You just don't get all the figures, as and in the order they were spoken, from reports afterwards, and they are great to look back on. Well, I think so anyway. But, today, even I found it hard to concentrate on Mr Chancellor, Gordon Brown for an hour. ITV split the screen, and were showing events in the liberated Baghdad silently on the left, and, in a slightly larger window, the House of Commons.

On the right of the screen, Gordon was blahing on about what a clever Government he was, how, economically, we'd never had it so good in the UK and how we had it better than anywhere else in the world at the moment, 8p on 20 cigarettes, £5 on vehicle excise duty for cars and vans (but no rise for motorcycles or lorries), 1p on a pint of beer and 4p on a bottle of wine from next Monday (but nothing on spirits, cider or sparkling wine), nothing on insurance premium tax, nothing on fuel, nothing on flight tax, (but LOTS for those with children - no, don't worry, I've said enough on that subject already today).

Meanwhile, on the left of the screen, there were silent pictures (accompanied by rolling words along the bottom of the screen) of American tanks rolling into the centre of Baghdad waving Stars and Stripes (even though they'd been told explicitly not to), cute US Marines on telephones, people smashing up statues of SH, looters ferreting through piles of rubble, people clambering to get food aid and children waving excitedly at the camera.

That weird, surreal, juxtaposed image will be one that stays with me forever.

   posted by Blue Witch at 2:08 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Is it only me who gets annoyed at the amount of "help" that is handed out in this country to people with kids? That's "help" aka redistribution of the tax and NI paid by those of us who have chosen not to add to the over-population of the planet. The £400 extra NI per year that many employed people are now paying...

I have just found this. As of the start of the new tax year this week, The Child Tax Credit replaced the Children's Tax Credit and is designed to streamline all the various 'child' elements available in other forms of benefits. Payment is based on overall household income; families earning up to £58,000 a year can claim the credit and even those on up £66,000 will get help in the first year of a child's birth via the double 'baby rate' of tax credits (worth up to £1,049). That makes me SO cross. Do you really need money taken from single people and couples without kids if you earn that kind of money?

You choose to have kids - you pay for them. Surely that's fair?
I choose to keep hens, and bees, and live in a rural area. That's my lifestyle choice. But, do I find myself the recipient of "help" towards my increased costs? I do not. Why?
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:49 am....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
I really have a huge urge not to tell you. Despite all my comments tarting, you have only *just* come up with the requisite 10 entries (and I am being a bit generous about what constitutes a qualifying entry). I toyed with the idea of making this into an experiment to demonstrate how people can be tricked into revealing aspects of their lives they'd never normally announce in public. Also, last night, by one of those very weird search co-incidences, Google opened the eyes of people who know me from another forum. Well, they know a *very* different Blue Witch. Welcome along people, and just remember, we all need a creative outlet for our frustrations, somewhere...

But, I'm an Honorable Witch of My Word, so.....

There have been plenty of *voyeurs* here (more hits yesterday than *any* other day!), but, hell, we all have a peep given a good link, and hope no-one notices, don't we? ;) (why is it that everyone thinks that *they* are the only one? ;))

And all I'll say is, Eloon, you've got a helluva lot of kinky friends, haven't you dear? ;)

So, we finally got to 10 confessions.
Not that I'm trying to top any of those (and not that that is in *any* way a confession, in itself ;), but.... (and these are in no particular order, lest Mr BW feel slighted, but, darling, I have only known you for a quarter of my life, and 0.4% of my *legal* life) - although, it has to be said, the older you get, the less appealing the thought of being charged under some rarely used section of the Obscenity Act gets....

1. In a graveyard somewhere in the SW of England
2. In an orange survival bag somewhere near the top of the Naranjo in The Picos de Europa, Northern Spain
3. 22,000 feet up over the Atlantic (and, no, we didn't get seen, nor did I ask the flight attendant for my certificate, but we did choose the middle of the night, 2 hours after dinner, and after the best film finished ;)
4. On the top floor of B block at Millfield School (map here)
5. In a pine glade in the snow by a road in the Auvergne in France
6. Against the font of a Methodist church
7. In the showers of campsites in several parts of France
8. In the warm sea 15 feet from the shore in Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas, where we got married
9. In a stable (horse not there, although evidence of horse's presence was in abundant evidence after) (I'm fairly sure that it wasn't with Peter, but..... ;)
10. In the Coven Grounds. Not overlooked, except through a hawthorn hedge that borders the highway for 100m... I think it was mid-summer, and the leaves were on the trees, but...

So now you know the answer to the question, "Why Blue Witch?" ;)
And that's just 10...
10 random hits, too...
I'm sure I'll think of some better ones later.

Now, if Mummy Blue Witch ever finds this page, I'm stuffed, so to speak.... ;) :D :P (She probably always wanted to know anyway... How about - 5 things mothers always wanted to ask their daughters but were too scared to ask?)
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:08 am....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Thought for the day

Cecily: This is no time for wearing the shallow mask of manners. When I see a spade I call it a spade.
Gwendolen: I am so glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different.

- Oscar Wilde (The Importance of being Earnest)
He was a blogger, ahead of his time, I'm sure :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 12:15 am....

   Tuesday, April 08, 2003  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Hey, could we possibly have 4 more confessions? cos I've just finished the draft of the 5 most interesting places... and I really want to post it... ;) 89 visitors today (so far) and you can only manage 6 confessions. Oh, perleese..... you upright and upstanding lot you... (or maybe not...)
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:05 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Don't worry, BW is not changing in character.

The Blue bit is just a bit out of control.
I'm oscillating between being very up and very down; very silly and very sensible; manic and very lazy; happier than I've been for ages and on the verge of tears.

All this seems to be happening on an almost hourly basis.

There's lots of things in my head that I want to put somewhere, so I am just storing one-liners in one of my little BW files, ready for 'The Time When' I feel like developing the ideas into something else.

Trouble is, that isn't really helping too much, cos it's just adding to the feeling of things spinning out of control.

Oh, and Blanche and Weiss D'Ove have given up on their eggs. Pushed one out of the dovecote and the other got stuck on a ledge. But they were flying around beautifully earlier on. I told Mr BW they hadn't done it properly. He said, "But I saw them on top of each other when they were eating!" I said,... erm no, never mind, there I go, reverting to the basest from of humour as I seem totally incapable of getting anything more sensible down.

Normal service may be resumed sometime soon.
Then again.....

   posted by Blue Witch at 7:42 pm....  
a candle for peace, a rose for remembrance
Fives: Part 5

I like being a Grubby Witch. I admit to not having got showered, or dressed, all day on Sunday. Although I did brush my teeth 3 times. I always love getting in the shower when I am all hot and sweaty (Mummy Blue Witch would say, horses sweat, men perspire and women glow - well, Mummy BW, all I can say is, you obviously weren't here on Monday morning or you'd have changed your mind ;) sticky after a whole day and 2 nights in my night attire (whatever that may be, I'll leave it to your imagination).

So, today, we'll have a naughty five (erm, yes, I should have copyrighted it, I have noticed that DG has nicked the concept today, albeit with one letter changed), but we'll do it a bit differently today. I have to go out for most of the day, to earn some pennies to keep the Oves and Hens in corn, and the Bees in new foundation comb, and the Fish off my dinner plate, so, if, by the time I come back, there are 10 relevant comments from 10 different people, then I'll tell you the 5 most interesting places that I've had sex. Now, I am aware that Mr BW might find this quite interesting, but, he's several thousand miles away, and it will give him something to think about when he's missing me ;) (I was 30 when I met him, after all, and, no, later, maybe.....). I only need one answer per person, unless you want to boast... so, it's down to you folks..... tell me the most interesting place you've had sex ;)

Update: goodness gracious me. Only 4 confessions! I suppose half my regular commentators are out of the country atm, but, really.... Do I assume that you are all a load of virgins? That you are all being coy? That you all only ever have sex in bed? Or that you think I have over-stepped the mark here? No, I think not. To all of these. So, I'll just let this one take it's time. If and when we get from the current 4 to 10 confessions from readers, *then* this blogger will confess all ;) Actually, during the day I've remembered quite a few interesting places I'd like to forget, so this could, eventually, prove interesting ;) And, hey, drD, worry not about Mr BW, his email is stuffed and I doubt he's got time to surf (too busy gambling - he apparently won $125 playing Blackjack with a coach on Sunday night. He's not a gambling man, either - allows himself $10 which he fiddles on the week's expenses, and never re-invests more than his original stake if he wins). There will be plenty of posts on top of this one before he gets to read up next Monday ;)

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:56 am....

...the musings of a SAD psych(ic)

Whinge, moan and lecture are what Blue Witch does best...

email: blue-witch [at]

Philosophy of The Coven:
Wisdom begins with questioning. Sanity begins with "No."

Preoccupations of The Coven:
- Quotes
- Spelling & smiling
- Value
- Education
- Environment
- Memory



Blue Witch

Blue Witch's familiars:

diamond geezer
my ace life
coop blog

the brick
big n juicy
spell cnut
these moments that I've had
those wonderful people

somewhat, muchly
troubled diva
mad musings of me
a blogs life
bacon cheese and oatcakes
burnt toast
invisible stranger

rogue semiotics
santiago dreaming
language hat
rons world

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