Blue Witch



   Friday, October 31, 2003  
I am returned from the Witches' Convention.

However, I can smell new paint, and there is evidence of stiletto marks and chocolate sacrificial pyres... Did something go on in my absence? It definitely feels different around here anyway.

Thanks for all the comments and for the birthday wishes for Mr BW, who, one way and another, I've hardly managed to talk to this week as we were working from dawn till the witching hour. Still, he'll be home soon now.

It was so nice to be amongst like-minded people in a positive atmosphere for the week. I found it very hard to find anything to moan about (most unusual), but I was able to be Value Witch and advise the College Manager on negotiating deals on new photocopiers (I pointed out that if they demanded/negotiated a reduction of even 0.01p per copy in the service cost (just 1.8%), then they would save nearly £1,500 per year), and provided advice on energy/money saving measures such as low energy bulbs, installing an air curtain on the main door and reducing food wastage. Oh the joys of places that are run by layers of Committees of well-intentioned Nice Ladies

I am rested, restored, re-energised, but, most of all, I finally have the key to everything that has been bothering me for the last... I don't know how many years. Too many co-incidences finally made sense. Not sure yet how much of that I am going to write about.

But - must fly now. If you look up into the night sky tonight you might just see me. I've had a blue light installed in the twigs of my broom for ease of recognition.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:09 pm....

   Thursday, October 30, 2003  
Toffee Apples

Oh dear, dear, dear.

The spell to post remotely from the Witchly Pursuits Course is wearing off - I was a bit short of D'Ove feathers when I did it, I knew that there was a chance it wouldn't see me through...

I was going to give you a lovely recipe for toffee apples, but it's a bit long and involved and I'd hate it to get muddled in transit.

So, instead I suggest you go to the shops, get a really nice English apple, and some Callard and Bowswers. Then, take one bite of apple and simultaneously pop a toffee into your mouth. Great substitute for toffee apples, exactly the same taste and none of the hassle.

Value Witch Tip: If you have fillings, think carefully about how much a trip to the dentist will cost before trying this 'recipe'.

BW will be back at The Coven tomorrow.

In the meantime.... who's seen/written anything funny that might be worthy of this week's MBWLA? I shan't have a lot of time to look around when I get back, so all suggestions (particularly ones with links) gratefully received.
   posted by Blue Witch at 6:12 pm....  
Pumpkin Soup (3rd of 3 soup recipes, Mr BW's favourite)

Serves 6

1 lb 8 oz (700 g) pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into 1 inch (2.5 cm) dice

1 lb 4 oz (570 g) sweetcorn (off the cob weight, from 5-6 cobs or use 2 cans)

1 oz (25 g) butter

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

10 fl oz (275 ml) whole milk

1 1/4 pints (725 ml) vegetable stock (use 2 cubes)

1 teaspoon melted butter, for the sweetcorn

salt and freshly milled black pepper

Begin by melting the butter in the saucepan, then add the onion and soften it for about 8 minutes. After that add the chopped pumpkin (or butternut squash), along with half the sweetcorn, then give everything a good stir and season with salt and pepper. Put the lid on and, keeping the heat low, allow the vegetables to sweat gently and release their juices – this should take about 10 minutes. Next, pour in the milk and stock and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Put the lid on for this but leave a little gap (so it's not quite on) because, with the presence of the milk, it could boil over. Keep a close eye on it anyway.

While that's happening, pre-heat the grill to its highest setting for 10 minutes. Mix the rest of the sweetcorn with the melted butter, spread it out on a baking tray, season with salt and pepper and pop it under the hot grill about 3 inches (7.5 cm) from the heat – it will take about 8 minutes to become nicely toasted and golden, but remember to move the sweetcorn around on the baking tray halfway through.

When the soup is ready, pour it into a food processor or blender and blend it to a purée, leaving a little bit of texture – it doesn't need to be absolutely smooth. You will probably need to do this in 2 batches. Serve the soup in warm bowls with the toasted sweetcorn sprinkled over.

(This one originally came from Delia btw, hence the silly ideas like taking corn off cobs and the frilly instructions :))

Coming later.... Toffee Apples
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:05 am....

   Wednesday, October 29, 2003  
Pumpkin Soup (2nd of 3 recipes, this is my favourite of the 3, but MrBW likes the 3rd one best)

1 medium onion, chopped.
1.5 oz butter.
18oz pumpkin (any sort will do), roughly chopped.
2 red peppers, chopped.
Large tbs fresh root ginger, grated.
Black pepper to taste.
2 vegetable stock cubes dissolved in one pint of boiling water.

Soften the onion in the butter over a low heat for 10-15 minutes until it is lovely and mushy golden and caramelised (this stage is very important to the final taste of the soup and should not be hurried).

Add the pumpkin, ginger and peppers, turn up the heat, and fry to brown the edges.

Add the stock and season to taste with ground pepper.

Cover and Simmer for at least 20 minutes. Liquidise.
   posted by Blue Witch at 6:39 pm....  
Happy Birthday
Mr BW!


Oh what a cruel Witch I am. Off in the depths of Oxfordshire on a Witchly Pursuits Course while Mr BW is at home at The Coven all alone celebrating his birthday with just 4 D'Oves (one has run away, probably to East London or with a stage magician, depending on whether you believe nic, e or Dave), a ginger Familiar (and it had better only be the bloody cat or they'll be trouble when I get home, eh?!), 8 hens and umpteen fish.

Still, he's used to it. Second time I've done it in the nearly 11 years I've known him. And it gives him a chance to go home to Mummy Mr BW (that's usually Mummy BW-in-law) for his birthday tea. I wonder if he'll get jelly and ice cream? At least it won't be our usual blue string and green soup :)


(Pictures pinched from here without permission, but, hey, it's Mr BW's birthday, please be charitable!)

Anyway, all my love and have a lovely day Mr BW xxxx
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:07 am....

   Tuesday, October 28, 2003  
Pumpkin Soup (1st of 3 recipes; this serves 4 and is the very low calorie one for fat people (only 50 calories per serving)(or 200 calories if one person eats it all :))

Boil together all the following ingredients for 20-25 minutes then liquidise. I prefer to leave it semi-lumpy, but the original recipe said make it smooth, so it's up to you.

I medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped.
1 large onion, chopped.
3 sticks celery, chopped.
2 vegetable stock cubes dissolved in 1.5 pints of boiling water.
1/2 tsp cumin.
1/2 tsp coriander.
Salt and ground black pepper to taste.

It's nice with fresh chopped coriander or chives sprinkled on top as you serve it.

It's also nice with grated cheese to sprinkle on top, or a swirl of cream, but don't think that that's included in the 50 calories per portion, will you? :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 6:36 pm....  
The chocolate you can eat between meals without...

He already knows about this...

I spotted them in Sainsbury's and Woolies in large tubs a couple of weeks ago and just had to share the glad tidings with an addict.

"White Maltesers will be the first new product launched under the Maltesers brand for 40 years

Masterfoods has announced that it will market White Maltesers to British consumers from November.

The company will spend £2 million on a TV, poster and PR advertising campaign for the new product, which will be marketed in distinct winter packaging.

The decision backs evidence that food manufacturers are increasingly turning to innovation as the key to brand success, following the strong performance of new products such as Cadbury's Boost Guarana and Heinz Easy Squirt Ketchup.

White Maltesers will be the first new product launched under the Maltesers brand for 40 years, and will be available for a limited period at a retail price of 39 pence for a standard bag of 37 grammes.

Maltesers is the fourth biggest-selling chocolate product in the UK, and the top bitesize brand. In 2002, sales rose by 21% compared to the previous year, taking the brand's annual value to £125 million."

They're yummy, but don't tell Mr BW will you, or he'll wonder how I know. After all, I'm NOT a chocoholic... although as persistent readers will recall (there may be one after all :)), white chocolate is my one little weakness... it must have been that sexy Milky Bar Kid in the ads when I was a Small Witch - all blonde hair and round glasses. Or maybe not ;)

   posted by Blue Witch at 7:06 am....

   Monday, October 27, 2003  
Thanks to Alan for finding this amazing story:

"Witch wins government grant

A Norwegian woman setting up shop as a witch has been awarded a government grant worth 53,000 kronor ($7,500; £4,500).

Lena Skarning, aged 33, was given the money because her business plan - according to officials from the regional development fund which gave the grant - was "pretty reasonable and well thought out".

Her business, Forest Witch Magic Consulting, will tell fortunes, teach magic tricks at corporate seminars, and offer potions and creams to cure for problems ranging from sleeplessness to bad habits.

A condition of the grant is that she has promised not to try any spells that might hurt anyone.

Ms Skarning acknowledged that the success of the Harry Potter books might well have helped her gain official acceptance, but said there was one essential difference. "I'm the real thing," she said. "I'm Norway's only state-backed witch."

Habitually dressed in black and with a white cat, Ms Skarning said she had been a "nice witch" for 13 years.

But she said she had only recently come up with the idea of applying for the grant after she attended a seminar on entrepreneurship.

"I'm an ordinary witch who came up with an original business idea," she said.

Now, can I get a grant from the Government for Witchly Pursuits? I've been a Nice Witch for nearly 41 years, and I wear blue and have a ginger cat. Will that do?

Ah, now I remember, I already have got a grant from the Government for a Witch Course! Well, sort-of from the Government. From the lottery fund anyway (it's my August 5th post if that link is still broken when you read this). For a course on a Witch-Related-Pursuit.

That'll be this week then. Highly appropriate given that it's Halloween, and that there are tales around of water rationing in the South-East if we don't have rain soon. The skills I learn on this course could be very marketable in future, if climate change continues apace :)

So, although I'll not be at The Coven this week, I will be at a Nice Witches Conference, and I have ways of remotely posting, which won't involve being anywhere near a PC.

In celebration of all things Witchy, there will be recipes for pumpkin soup (3 varieties) and toffee apples, as well as other exciting tit-bits. Keep reading, no arguing in the comments and I'll be back on Friday afternoon.

PS I saw hot cross buns for sale in Sainsbury's on Friday. *sighs and goes off to pack*
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:08 am....  
Thought for the day

It's christmas week for Witches!
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:33 am....

   Sunday, October 26, 2003  
Questions for Sunday

Mr and Mrs GFBW have just headed off home, leaving us feeling a bit tired and despondent (we like the GFBWs, they were our next-door-but-one neighbours for 5 years, but they now live too far away for us to see them much). I didn't really notice the gaining of the hour as Mr BW decided to put all the clocks back at 7pm last night, so we totally failed to derive any benefit.

These questions arose during the weekend:

1. If you have a really long beard that you never cut, does it develop split ends like long hair that is never cut?

2. Why does MrBW (who never wears anything in bed, no matter what time of year it is) always wear pants at night when we have visitors in the house?

3. Did a buzzard really eat D'Ove 5 who has disappeared (the GFBWs have just been on a safari holiday and I think that Mr GFBW who suggested this was getting just ever such a smidgy bit carried away - erm, wasn't he?)

4. Why do banks ring you up, totally out of the blue, and insist that you disclose your security details to them before they will talk to you? And why, when you refuse to disclose those details (because, after all, they always tell you not to) and insist that they provide a direct line telephone number/extension number so that you can call them back, do they get arsey and say that that is really difficult? And why, when you have gone to all that trouble do you find that they only wanted to tell you something that you knew anyway that was of no major consequence? My 'comments' to said woman on said subject were 'noted' however. Not that it will make one blind bit of difference, but it made me feel better :)

5. Why, when I silently pointed out to Mr BW a doll-sized model of an old hag witch wearing a blue dress in a shop Halloween display yesterday, did Mr GFBW laugh and say "Excellent self-portrait I reckon!"?
   posted by Blue Witch at 3:32 pm....

   Saturday, October 25, 2003  
The 28th Weekly Make Blue Witch Laugh Award

The Trophy, created by Oddverse Alan

Now, Mr BW has been complaining about the number of points I've been giving away recently. Not to me personally, mind, but in DG's comments box last Monday (under a post about how many working Monday mornings were left before DG retired):

"Now you have really depressed me on a Monday morning when I can think of a hundred and one things to be doing somewhere other than at work. Mind you, on my calculations we are the same age, but I have been working for 22 years and have 12 to go before the earliest retirement age that I think I can get away without living on bread and water, providing BW leaves me with some honey to sell after giving it away in prizes :o) . So that puts me two thirds through. Who said that a University educashun is the key to life?"

So, it's a good job that I've been very busy this week and so not found much to laugh out loud at. If I'm not reading too much, then I'm not finding too much to laugh at am I? Except for these 2 contenders.

Contender 1: I think you need to go and look at this one yourself... it's The Tale of Pob and Pat Gently. It involves *whispers* the purchase of condoms. (drat and double drat, the post link isn't working for some reason - it's Pob's Saturday 18th post).

And then there was Contender 2. Alan.
dave was letting us know that he was taking his lovely woofer (we're talking Edward here, right?) to Blackpool, to supervise some work on their residence secondaire, but that we weren't to despair as he had a new phone (which fully meets all the Value Witch Criteria for, well, Value) and would post photos to his new MoBlog.

I commented: "Pictures of Edward will be lovely. TIA"
Alan commented: "Pictures of the workmen are optional. Depends on the workmen."

I dognapped the dog though (scroll down to see him) :)

Although they got him back after Edward bit me when I smacked his nose after he chased a D'Ove (and there's one missing, so I am highly suspicious as to where it went). I'm going to give a special point to Edward for being lovely and funny and to his owners for being good sports. Particularly as Darren described me as.

"The Wicked* Witch of East Anglia.....(* - she's really a very nice witch with a wicked sense of humour)" Thank you Darren, flattery does, of course, get you everywhere :)

And.... the winner and keeper of the MBWLA Trophy this week is Pob :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:41 am....

   Friday, October 24, 2003  
Update (see below) GFBWs are here. 5 bottles of extrememly good wine and a very nice meal, even if I say so mayself, so far. Punk night has started early. MBWLA estimated time of posting - 4pm tomorrow afternoon. MrGFBW and MrBW are dancing together. MrsGFBW is in the loo and i am 'turnig off teh computer'. I hope you feel less awful than I am going to tomorrow.....
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:53 pm....  
Bit busy today - we have Good Friends BW coming for the weekend and I have about 3 days worth of work admin to do before they get here at 5pm.

It's going to be one of those weekends as Mr Good Friend BW (MGFBW) is in the wine trade and always brings lots of samples. I've spent nearly £100 in Sainsbury's *shudders at the thought* (on basic ingredients not ready meals I hasten to add), so it's going to be a foodie / drinkie weekend :)

Don't blame me if the MBWLA doesn't get posted until late tomorrow afternoon! Our soirées invariably end at around 3am with me and MGFBW putting on some of my extensive collection of vinyl punk and pogoing around the lounge trying to avoid the lights and not always succeeding. Thank goodness we have no near neighbours as we really do have it louder than it was the first time round. Or so it seems to us, but, I guess that 26 years may have remodelled our ear-drums.

I have a terrible memory for jokes. So, with the weekend in mind, I was pleased to find FROG had posted a series of them, some of which are even new-to-me.

For example, Q: Do you know how New Zealanders practice safe sex? A. They spray paint X's on the back of the animals that kick.

And, "A small child is lost in Tesco's, the security guard asks the little girl 'What's your mummy like?'....the child replies, 'Big cocks and Vodka'"

Pop over to Ron's for a giggle (it's the 'chat' comments you want under the 'Cookie Jar' post - Ron, can't you fix it so I can link that directly? :), and then pop back here and put the dirtiest joke you know in the comments box.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:31 am....  
Thought for the day

"Without work all life goes rotten."

- Albert Camus

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:59 am....

   Thursday, October 23, 2003  
There will be spells....

First there was Ron, telling me I was too old to be smutty (!!!!!)(update: although he now refutes it and claims it was some schoolboy fetish thing :)), then there was Hans (I think it was) (update: sorry Hans, I now stand corrected, it was Fabio) calling me an "old dear" yesterday, and now, I find Mr D saying, "Others are, in the nicest possible sense, inclined to eccentricity, sub-consciously? constructing persona as guilelessly as a geisha applying her mask of make-up."

I'm worried. I'm not being any different to normal. WYS (en blog) IWYG (in real life). I'm obviously not normal am I? And I never knew before... Oh heck ;)

Anyone got any other 'insults' to hurl? :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 4:06 pm....  
Mr BW and I were only saying this morning that the Tory Party is stereotypically 'old school' (public school / Oxbridge-London-Durham) yet they can't find one person from all their masses of the supposed 'Educational and Social Elite' who can speak, has half a brain and is charismatic.

Personally I see no alternative.

Except to leave the country.
And there aren't any remote uninhabited tropical islands to buy that we can afford...

Sad times.

   posted by Blue Witch at 12:52 pm....  
Shortcuts for Windows

Maybe it's because I was brunged up on Windows 3.1 (or, rather earlier (although only 1988), Locoscript on an Amstrad PCW 9512, but maybe we won't talk antiques ;)) where there were few shortcuts of note (and right click hadn't been invented), or perhaps because I've never worked in an office where everyone around me was vicariously learning tips, but I've never really got my head round lots of the shortcuts that are available in Windows programs.

I can remember the first time, four of five years ago now, that I discovered control a / control c to highlight and copy text, then control v to paste it in somewhere. Wonderful!

I was delighted when, a couple of months ago now, Ron told me, in passing, in a comments thread, that there was a quicker way to grab the URLs of pages than to use right click / properties and cut and paste the ensuing info (as I was doing) - just use right click / create shortcut. That one has saved me hours.

On one of the education lists I read, there has recently been a thread about shortcuts. Some of which were new to me. Here's a few that may be new to you too:

Highlight text:
double click highlights a word
triple click highlights the paragraph
control + A highlights the whole text

Hold down control and shift
Find the two keys to the right of M
Press arrow pointing right to increase font size
Press arrow pointing left to decrease font size

Hold down Control key and as you turn the scroll wheel on your mouse it will enlarge or shrink the size of text
in Word.

SHIFT F7 = thesaurus

CTRL Z the undo ("get out of trouble") button - it brings back all that text you highlighted and accidentally deleted (same as the right click / undo one I already use)

Web browsing:
ALT and left arrow key returns to previous web page
ALT and right arrow key goes to the forward web page

To get back to the desktop while in a program is running in full screen: Press Windows key ( the flag) and D

Anyone know any more good ones?

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:12 am....  
Thought for the day:

We are all victims of our pasts if we choose to be.
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:22 am....

   Wednesday, October 22, 2003  
I've dog-napped him again :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 11:38 pm....  
Always one to recycle content that others won't, here's one from DG's comment box yesterday:

DG asked: "Is there anything more bland than a Rich Tea biscuit? Except perhaps a Morning Coffee, or one of those very inappropriately named Nice biscuits?

I replied: Ice cream wafers? (the cheap sort).

Any other ideas?

   posted by Blue Witch at 1:42 pm....  
I just love it when the BBC Breakfast weather forecast says, "There is a chance of some showers in this area" when it's already pelting down with rain outside :(

So, that's the fish, D'Oves and hens fed for the day. Oh, and the rats. The Council Rat Man (only it's not PC to call him that these days), has just been. Shook his head when he saw the tunnels leading into the hen house, said, "Nasty things rats in hen houses" and stuffed some pale blue blocks with beige specks that looked like large washing powder tablets down the holes, replied to my question, "How far will they tunnel?" with, "Oooh, not too far my dear... Now, they should be dead in 2-4 days, if you see any more after that, then give me another call and I'll be right back."

Now, remembering the supermice in the loft from the beginning of the year, I'm expecting to see him again early next week....

Too many plates to spin today - best get on with it before it resembles one of those smashing crockery stalls that you get at fêtes round here.

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:04 am....  
Thought for the day:

"People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind."

- J. B. Yeats

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:18 am....

   Tuesday, October 21, 2003  
FAO female readers only: All you ever needed wanted to know about a subject that always bemuses us... ;)
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:56 pm....  
Something to amuse you / anyone near you

Try standing on one leg with your eyes shut.

Now try lightly touching the bone just behind your ear while doing the activity and notice the difference.

Update: Judging by the comments, I guess I'd best explain this, given the way you lot have proved yourself incapable of accomplishing a simple task....

Most normal people *laughs* wobble and lose their balance when closing their eyes while standing on one leg.

Touching the bone behind the ear on the same side as the raised leg reminds the brain to take account of the balance organs in the ear that are temporarily disrupted by being deprived of sight.

It's actually much more complicated than that, but, given the mess you all (claim to have) made of my experiment, I thought I'd best stick to an explanation you'd have some hope of understanding :)

   posted by Blue Witch at 11:33 am....  
Don't throw away the scooped-out middle of your pumpkins if you are making lanterns. Chop it up and put it in a plastic bag and pop it in the freezer (it'll probably keep OK in the bottom of the fridge too). Yummy pumpkin soup recipes coming next week :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:07 am....  
The BW Customer Dis-Service Award - Platinum Class - to the RAC

A few weeks ago, you may recall that I had need of the RAC's assistance, and received appalling service. Of course, I wrote to complain about this. My letter was basically a version of what I wrote here. It was detailed, polite, and asked specific questions requiring specific answers.

Last week, 26 days after my original letter was sent, I received this reply (spelling errors as per the original as I scanned this in as editable text):

"Dear Mrs Blue Witch

Thank you for your comments regarding your recent call for assistance, details of which have been forwarded to me to address and respond as appropriate. Please accept my apologies for the delay in my response. No discourtesy is intended.

I would like to assure you that we take our customers concerns very seriously and investigate all incidents relating to unsatisfactory customer care, with a view to improving the service for all customers.

I can certainly appreciate your concerns regarding the service on this occasion; we really do value the loyalty that you have shown to us and regret that we did not reflect our commitment to you on this occasion.

Please accept my apologies for any inconveneince caused; I would like to assure you that the appropriate manager is aware of this incident, and they will be taking action in order to help prevent any reoccurrence.

Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention, giving me the opportunity to investigate and respond. We value customer feedback in order to ensure that we are providing a consistently high standard of service. I apologise if your experience of RAC on this occasion has left you feeling disappointed. However, I am sure that should you require our assistance in the future, we will deliver the high standard of service for which we are renowned.

Yours sincrrely

Cheryl Grant
Customer Care Manager

Now, short of saying "F*ck off Mrs Blue Witch", I do not think that Cheryl (and the letter was personally signed by her) could have shown any less interest in my detailed complaints, do you? The mere fact that she used the phrase, "Please accept my apologies for the delay in my response. No discourtesy is intended." suggested to me that was exactly what was intended. Otherwise, why use it?

I have never before received such a patronising, condescending, letter more full of standard phrases, which answers none of the specific points I made.

I am incredibly busy at the moment. I really do not have the time to enter into further correspondence with the RAC over this matter. I'm not sure that it would achieve anything if I did.

So, I shall just let the 200-odd people who will read this in the course of today, and those who will find it while Googling "RAC" (probably in conjunction with "customer complaint"), and the RAC themselves (who will no doubt have bots searching for "RAC" mentions on the web) read just exactly what shit service and shit response to customer complaints they give.

If people are happy with a service they tell one person.
If they are unhappy they tell 10 people.
If they are BW, they put it on their blog.

I win, I think :)

What do you think?
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:28 am....  
Thought for the day:

"At bottom every man knows well enough that he is a unique human being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvellously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together a second time."

- Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:11 am....

   Monday, October 20, 2003  
These are the pansies that make up more than half of those we have dotted around The Coven Grounds this winter.

Witchy Pansies

I had absolutely *no* idea what they were called when I bought them. It was only as I finished planting a box that I glanced at the label. I then had to look at it 3 times before I realised that I had read an extra 'c' into the phrase on the label than was actually printed on it.

It's amazing how our minds read what we think should be written rather than what is. Or, as in this case, what we are accustomed to seeing.
   posted by Blue Witch at 6:19 pm....  
Now this really has been a weekend of bad spells.

It started on Friday night when I went to take out my contact lenses, forgetting that I had been wearing my glasses all day. So, I emptied my contact lens case (complete with one day old monthly disposable contact lenses) down the sink and ran the tap.

Then, on Saturday morning, the battery in my watch ran out. I can't get a new one until Wednesday, and I hate not having a watch that works.

Then the bulb in the fly zapper blew. I hadn't got another one of those in stock (most unlike me), so lots of midges were buzzing around. One bit my leg in the night and it all swelled up (cue application of magnesium sulphate paste - wonderful stuff, great at getting nastiness out of any sort of skin wound) (I Googled that, and my own past came back to haunt me...)

Then the washing machine went wrong again. Same fault as a month ago. Scream. Apparently they can't get here until Thursday, despite my best protestations.

Then, while cleaning out The Girls (hen familiars) I found tunnels leading to just under their food hopper. After Mr BW had put his hand down them I decided that they were rats. This was later confirmed by a knowledgeable friend. Of course, I then had nightmares about rats all last night, and, as my teddy had fallen under Mr BW's side of the bed (he was watching TV with the bed up while I fell asleep last night), I had nothing to cuddle. I even imagined that there was a rat in the loo when I stumbled there in the night - having swum up the septic tank system, it was waiting to pounce. And it had red eyes. One call to the Environmental Services Department of my District Council when they opened at 8.30am elicited an answerphone message "The Pest Control Department is extremely busy at them moment, we will call you back as soon as possible. This may not be today."

And, just in case any of you doubt The Power of Witch, yesterday morning, on our way to the BW-in-Law Annual Birthday Bash (Mr BW, Mummy BW-in-Law, Sister and Brother BW-in-Law all have October birthdays), we happened to hear on the radio that there was spin being put out by the Government (that's all newspaper stories are these days, of course) that consideration was being given to taxing profits on the sale of one's primary residence at 40%. Now, as we currently have £300K of equity in The Coven (the result of buying cheaply, at the right time, 8 years in one place, and lots of our hard work in modernising and improving) and as it is my "If the Going Gets Too Tough, Let's Get Out / Extended Pension Fund", I was rather ****** off to say the least. "Does Tony Blair have a heart?" I wondered. Ooooh yeeees ;) Now what could I do to him if I really put my mind to it? :)

Oh - and Ron - here's another one that I blame you for ;) it was the word 'safe' that made me laugh....
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:22 am....  
Thought for the day:

Happiness can never be defined by someone one else.
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:07 am....

   Sunday, October 19, 2003  
Thought for the day:

"Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't. "

- Erica Jong
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:00 am....

   Saturday, October 18, 2003  
The MBWLA updated scoresheet is here.
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:07 pm....  
The 27th Weekly Make Blue Witch Laugh Award

The Trophy, created by Oddverse Alan

This week there are 6 contenders.
Actually, I've just noticed there are 6. That said 5 all day because I had two 3s. And not one person noticed. Shame on you all!

Contender 1: Ron:

"About 81 people answered BW’s star sign/diary question last week. That’s amazing. I keep telling her she’s a highly linked-to site, and she always humbly replies that she doesn’t know what I’m on about. A bit like a big Internet Blog mum is BW…or maybe like your mates mum who occasionally got pissed and talked a bit smutty to you..(or was that just me?)."

Ron, you so mis-judge me dear ;)
As our next contender would no-doubt tell you, given the opportunity.

Contender 2: DG: No, not the broccoli week threat, although the idea of DG doing gardening hints and recipes did make me laugh, it's probably a private joke :)

"Returning to Sunday's theme of children's television programmes, I was struck by how innocent they all were in those days. Children sat on the Magic Roundabout without wearing safety harnesses, Mr Benn lived alone on Festive Road with no questions asked, and the lift in Mary, Mungo and Midge's tower block was always free from graffiti. It's a different world now. If these shows were being made today, Postman Pat would only deliver 70% of his letters and nick the rest, Grange Hill would have been closed down by Her Majesty's inspectors due to serious weaknesses, and Captain Pugwash really would have had seafaring mates called, well, you know what."

Contender 3: Ian, in Rob Hans's comments. Ian is 2. No, well, actually... to be more accurate, SimeWorld is 2, but, as I don't believe that a blog is a blog unless it has comments (you listening Ron? :)), and as he only put them on a few weeks ago after I nagged (and spelled), I'm not sure sure it's countable. Mr Chocolate Trombone had posted about Ian's blogday, and also that a warning beacon had, as he'd predicted earlier in the week, been nicked from its duty on his drain hole. If you see what I mean.

"Thankyou for the kind birthday wishes for SimeWorld.

Thankyou for the orange flashing light btw - Matthew (Ed: Ian's young son) loves playing at being a Motorway Maintenance vehicle.

Contender 4: And after I told all the rogue commentators off for trashing The Coven and consuming all the food and drink while I was out on Thursday, and told them to beware of repercursory spells affecting their physical well-being, nic commented,

"Rats, my cold has come back!

And I appear to have a tail...."

Contender 5: Alan has finally managed to make me laugh out loud again. His entry to the Flashblog 2 involved the phrase:

"The most awe-inspiring thing I ever saw was the Great Wall of China... [snip] ...
The suggestion that the Great Wall is visible from space has been around since the beginning of the twentieth century, and they were just making it up to pull the ladies. Nobody has ever suggested that the M25 is visible from space, except me just now. Both the Great Wall and the M25 are visible from Earth, however. Among many other man-made objects."

Contender 6: Oooh, competition from newer bloggers, goood: Hannabella, an aspiring doctoral student, reports that:

"A recent scientific study found that the kind of male face a woman finds attractive can differ depending on where she is in her menstrual cycle.

For instance, around ovulation she is attracted to men with rugged and masculine features. If she is pre-menstrual, she is likely to prefer a man doused in petrol and set on fire, with scissors shoved deep into his temple and a cricket stump jammed up his arse.

Further studies are expected."

And the winner can now be announced, as I have made up my mind, helped by my faithful commentators (one of whom would have been the Award winner had they not told me to give it to Hannabella instead), and Mr BW has now released me from servitude in the garden (nearly all bedded down for the winter now). Well done Hannabella! You are now at liberty to display the Winner's Trophy (that little graphic at the top) on your blog for the next week, and you get 2 BW Honey points (10 needed for a jar of delicious - even if I say it myself - BW honey).

It's about time I updated the scoresheet, isn't it?

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:53 am....

   Friday, October 17, 2003  
Oh finally, a hit for Witch Porn :)

But, alas, there's nothing for you here!

Erm - or is there?
I wonder what we can co-write in the comments? ;)
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:24 am....  

Oh, strange times in the blogworld.

Earlier in the week, drD asked some questions about his readers' reasoning for, and commitment to, blogging. Food for thought because I didn't know the answer to some of the questions. Pop over and add your answers.

Last week there was a survey out that showed that only 1% of bloggers are in my age group, and that there are far too many abandoned blogs around. IMHO it's high time that the free blog-space providers introduced a 'use it or lose it' clause. Say - no updates for 6 months and you are put into hibernation (but can resuscitate yourself on demand). No updates for a year and you are permanently deleted. I think I read that one provider has already instigatetd this policy, although I can't remember who. BW says, 'Keep The Internet Tidy'. It's bad enough already.

I find it amazingly unsettling when people I regularly read decided to stop posting. (Although, it has to be said that the first signs of cracking are appearing in some quarters this morning (she said, hopefully...) :))

And my heart sank yesterday morning when I read nic's revelation that the Guardian Best British Bloggers Competition 2003 had been announced. As I said, I really, really hate this sort of 'competition'. And there have been other incidences of it around of late. IMHO it is *not* what blogging is about. It is about as useful a concept as Miss World and almost as narcissistic and false. Just how big-headed do you have to be to enter for goodness sake? Fair enough if it's a nominations competition, judged by other bloggers (although I still have grave reservations about that), but just who the hell do they (entrants and judges) think they are? So, another topic to be ignored on BW henceforward. The list grows :)

I'm also not sure that I like the concept of Guest Blogging for more than the odd post or two. No offence intended to TD, or to the 16 people who have agreed to write over there while mike is ultra-busy and largely away from internet access for a month. But, it does seem a bit odd. Part of me thinks, "Well, it's better than nothing", another part thinks, "It's a way of widening the circle of TD's readers" (and I'd be the first to admit that it's a jolly good read, and the more readers the merrier), yet another bit of me thinks, "It's a way of widening TD's readers' blog-circles" (ie read a Guest, like them, and explore their own blog), and another part of me thinks cynically that it's a way of keeping readers. Probably a bit of all of them? And some more factors I haven't time now to think about (this was going to be a short post and I got carried away!!). It would be interesting to hear mike's reasoning/views on the subject.
Update: Ha! Spell worked! mike's popped by - see the comments - thanks mike, for taking my 'interest' in the spirit in which it was intended)

But, something that is definitely in (what I believe to be) the true spirit of blogging, far and away from the competitive, dog-eat-dog, back-stabbing and stressful phenomenon that real life can be (if you let it), is the latest Flash-Blog, masterminded by Dave. Well done and thanks to Dave for putting the time and effort into organising this! A BW seal of approval :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:32 am....  
Money Quiz: Will you be rich?

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:26 am....  
Thought for the day:

"My depths may be strange to me because I haven't visited them."

- Jean Houston

Fearing the unknown in ourselves may result in strangers running our lives
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:21 am....

   Thursday, October 16, 2003  
Google, we love you; FROG won't though. He's unlikely to live it down methinks ;)
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:17 pm....  
I haven't had a moment to talk to you all today, and now I have to go out to do Witchy Things.
Feel free to talk amongst yourselves
   posted by Blue Witch at 12:40 pm....  
Thought for the day:

This is a error making life - you have to be able to make errors in order to proceed.
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:12 am....

   Wednesday, October 15, 2003  
Heard on the radio while out earlier:

- Blue Peter is 45 today.

- Ozzy Osborne is currently undergoing tests to determine the cause of the tremors he has been suffering from over the past couple of years.

I make no comment about either story.
Other than to say - are you surprised?
   posted by Blue Witch at 5:02 pm....  
"In what ways might one redesign a fork"


No, seriously, this was a MSN search that landed here earlier. And I was the first return of 2020.

If the first question is too hard, try:

"What does deep blue mean figuratively speaking?" 2nd of 2758 returns there.
   posted by Blue Witch at 4:20 pm....  
'The Struggle To Be A Warm Empathic Human Being.'

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:45 am....  
Thought for the day:

"People don’t disappear. The ripples of their personality, the shockwaves of their ego, continue to crash over you."

- Pobrecito
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:07 am....

   Tuesday, October 14, 2003  
Mr BW has eaten all the stick of rock. During Holby City (which I refuse to watch as it is such dross). He promises to tell us all about the thrilling oral experience tomorrow.

Update: Actually, he was good, for once (unusual where things of a confectionery nature are concerned). I find he only ate half of it as I instructed. Or actually, rather less than half. There are still 4.5 inches left.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:47 pm....  

Here is Elsie's pet Jiffy Bag collection.
A puny two.
But they are busy procreating I see.
I don't know the gestation period of Jiffy Bags, so let me know when the Happy Event occurs Elsie and I'll make some bootees out of toilet roll middles.
   posted by Blue Witch at 1:04 pm....  
Rock around the clock

I'm so excited. The postman (sadly not Mark The Relief) has just delivered me a lovely white A4 Jiffy Bag from Darren and dave. Ah, what nice boys they are ;)

Actually, it's a 'H/5 Mail Lite Plus', manufactured by 'Sealed Air', for those who like to know the full details of these things. Ah - just me then? :)

Ah - but wait, there's something inside.... is it, is it, can it be?

Boo hoo. I thought I asked for a lock of Edward's hair? Nah, I guess I wouldn't have trusted an Unknown Witch, known to do wonky spells, with a tuft of my child's fur, either :)

There's just one nasty stick of pink minty rock. Contains 'cane sugar, glucose syrup, malic acid, flavourings and one or more of the following permitted food colours, E102, E122, E124, E129, E133, E142, E155, E171.'

One or more? What on earth does that mean? (please note, Ron, I've cleaned up my language, as it shocked you so much last time I said it, and as you're pretending to be on blog-holiday as you can't take all the shoes in your comments boxes) Whatever the person making it felt like lobbing into the pot? Mr BW will be hyperactive tonight, won't he? :)

Actually, being as how he won't know about the rock (oh, and it's very special Blackpool Rock dearest :) I shan't let him have it (or the rock) until he's laid the 1.7 square metres of 15cm tiles on the cloakroom floor. Now, let's see, what's the sell-by date on that rock? Bloody hell - there isn't one! Guess it's got its E-numbers to keep it fresh...

Thanks very much d n D :)

(Oh, and dave, yes, I have seen your attempt. The Coven is never in a mess (*surveys state of Inner Coven. Sighs*). So, highly unlikely, very highly unlikely :)

PS The Gorgeous New Jiffy Bag (and note, it was a new one) is currently snuggled up against the one that Billy traumatised last week. Any developments will, of course, be reported.
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:56 am....  
The D'Ovecote is a bit like a cuckoo clock.

Although, a rather random one.

And a rather oddly coloured one.

And a rather oddly placed one.

White, stuck on a pole in the middle of The Coven Grounds.

But, there is usually at least one of my 5 babies (that's Blanche (Mummy D'Ove), Weiss (Daddy D'Ove), Blanco (Auntie D'Ove), Alba (Baby D'Ove 1) and Wit (Baby D'Ove 2)), inside its black depths, regularly popping its white head out of the door. Quite sweet actually. Keeps me amused anyway :)

Recently, watching them come and go during the day, a realisation dawned on me - as I said elsewhere the other day - the term 'pigeonhole' (oft used to convey stereotypicity) is about as useful as the assumption that pigeons each go in their own hole in their pigeon loft. Unless my D'Oves are odd (quite possible, they are mine after all!), there are frequently 2, 3 or even 4 in one of the 6 spaces in the D'Ovecote, and they do not keep to the same cubicle (unless they have eggs or young).

That about sums up my thoughts on that subject.

It's raining leaves here at the moment. From the 5 poplar trees behind us, which are always the first to decloak in the Autumn. Lots of hoovering up to be done later, but all good composting material. Actually, I think it's 'snowing' leaves, rather than 'raining' as they are drifting rather than falling down. Writing poetry was never really my thing.

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:48 am....  
Thought for the day

"Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures."

- Henry Ward Beecher

Thanks to LaP for that one.
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:27 am....

   Monday, October 13, 2003  
Come on baby light my fire

Mood restored to normal (as near as that ever gets for BW - particularly at this time of year with shortening days - anyway) after a nice day learning all about pyrography.

Anything that begins with pyro- has me hooked. I'd have been a pyromaniac when I was a much younger Witch, except that the girls school I went to was rather too selective for arsonists. So I had to behave. At least until the weekends and holidays when I could frequently be found in the beech woods behind my childhood home, setting fire to anything that was even vaguely flammable. Foil parcels of bananas with chocolate got stuffed into the flames. Magic.

I could never live in a house without an open fire - or, as we now have, a wood burner. It was a toss-up between keeping the open fire and mess, or putting in a wood-burner. After 5 years of black dust, we plumped for the cleaner option, and haven't looked back.

Anyway, pyrography is really only 'poker work'. Often seen at craft fairs as poor-quality wood with rather un-artistic designs burnt into it by non-artistic people. It's actually very simple, and, as someone who has done a lot of glass engraving, I found it very easy and managed to produce 6 pieces of work that, on getting them home and examining them, are actually rather better than most you see for sale. And I'm not usually one to praise up my own efforts. A more self-critical person than me is difficult to imagine.

It was a fun, relaxing day. There were only 7 of us. The whole day, including tuition and all materials, cost £15. Bargain of the year I'd say. And, the teacher was excellent. After my current problems with IT and watercolour painting tutors, that was a refreshing change. But, I don't think I'll be taking pyrography up on a regular basis, as I see a limited 'market' for my end products, and I can't say that I'm that fond of the look of the finished items myself. Plus, the electrical gadget machine thingies are nearly £100...

Oh yes - forgot before - funny of the day - one lady decided to make a 'Do Not Disturb' sign for her 15 year old son's bedroom door (don't ask, I didn't ;) She did a picture, then decided she couldn't fit in the words. I said, quietly, to the lady I'd gone with, "Well she'd best write 'Piss Off' instead then!" We collapsed in fits, the tutor had overheard and was almost wetting herself, and the 5 others (all over 60) were demanding to know what we'd said. Eventually, the tutor told them. The woman doing the sign said, "Oh well, that's exactly what he would say" and promptly did it. Only she used 3 asterisks.
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:31 pm....  
Disaster at The Coven

A weekend in the garden. Lovely Autumn weather, 20 degrees on Saturday, 18 on Sunday, that golden glowing warm light that you only get at this time of year. Getting lots of tidying, pruning, replanting of tubs for the winter done... and then...

We noticed that some of the so-called galvanised nails that Mr BW had used to hold the metal edge-forming strip around the edge of the Mediterranean Garden wall, weren't. Galvanised that is, as they'd rusted and bled through the concrete skim. "Never mind," said Mr BW, "minor inconvenience, I'll sort it out when we've finished putting the garden to bed in a couple of weeks." (he's like like, Mr BW, an eternal, "it can be fixed" optimist. Luckily for me, to whom every such disaster signifies the potential end of the world and life as we know it).

The we were sorting out the area round by the long pond. I was happily emptying the summer tubs and Mr BW was happily chopping back shrubs when I saw them. Mushrooms. The previous weekend we'd been on a 'Fungus Foray' run by a local wildlife group, and had, for the first time, seen honey fungus in the flesh (or, in the golden mushroom fruiting body and black liquorice-like bootlace rhizome tell-tale signs). As I looked more closely, the ghastly realisation dawned on me - we had honey fungus.

Growing on the old roots of a 30 year old hawthorne hedge that we took out a couple of years ago. It had proved quite impossible to dig the roots out, so Mr BW had cut them off at ground level and treated the stumps with Stump Out to dissolve them. We then covered the area with membrane to prevent unwanted weed growth, and promptly forgot about them.

Honey fungus, despite it's pleasant name, is one of the biggest disasters that can hit a garden and can be controlled, but rarely totally eradicated. Honey from bees is lovely. Honey from fungus is not.

Although we try to garden organically as far as possible, we do keep Armillatox in the cupboard, for use as a moss-on-roof treatment. I remembered that it was also useful in controlling honey fungus, so Mr BW spent most of Sunday afternoon digging out the remaining roots and soaking the area with Armillatox. (and, in finding that link I have just discovered that Armillatox is now no longer licensed, thanks to the EU, so what we're going to do now I have no idea.)

Apparently there are plants that are resistant to the fungus, but most of those we currently have are not on that list, so it looks like the flora of The Coven Grounds may well be changing over the next few years...

If I was depressed last week, then I don't know what I am this week.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:05 am....  
Thought for the day:

There are many things of beauty in the universe, and you are one of them.
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:16 am....

   Sunday, October 12, 2003  
Bloggers, Star Signs and Diaries: The Survey Results

Why did I do it? Let's start at the beginning. Having now been reading in blogland for a whole year (well, pedants would tell you that it's a whole year minus 2 days), and having an amazing memory for 'people facts', I had a perception that there were a lot of Aquarian and Leo bloggers, but very few Sagittarians, at least among those blogs I read regularly.

I am also interested in diary keeping. I personally don't have the discipline to keep a text diary, although we do keep a photo-diary (ie lots of photos, that I put into chronological albums) and memory-book (collection of artifacts which MrBW collates once a year over the christmas/New Year break). I think that that is because my visual memory is so poor (bottom 2% for my age) - provided that I can see a picture, I can associate the words / emotions with it; without a picture I have no pegs to hang things on, and I forget. So, it's worthwhile for me to keep diaries in a visual format, but not in a verbal (text) one (for goodness sake, when I'm tired, I fall asleep, I couldn't stay awake to write up the day's events!).

Although I'm a social scientist by profession, I err on the side of science. I need proof in tangible, quantifiable terms. I'm never quite convinced by astrology; I often feel that people seem to make it fit them. So, for anyone like me who is slightly sceptical about astrology, a more scientific explanation for the phenomenon noticed is here, courtesy of Jazz.


There were 76 respondents in total (discounting a couple, including a dog (told you I'd dog-nap him eventually D & d :)), and including me, a Sagitarrian never-diarist).

Of these:

30% were fire signs (Leo, Sagittarius, Aries)
25% were earth signs (Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo)
24% were water signs (Pisces, Cancer, Scorpio)
21 % were air signs (Aquarius, Gemini, Libra)

34% of the sample currently keep a text diary separate to their blog, 20% are ex-diarists, and 46% have never kept a diary.

If bloggers are numerically normally distributed by star sign, around 8% should have birthdays under each sign. Actual results were:

Aquarius 13%
Pisces 7%
Aries 7%
Taurus 12%
Gemini: 7%
Cancer 5%
Leo 14%
Virgo 8%
Libra 1%
Scorpio 12%
Sagittarius 9%
Capricorn 5%

As can be seen, the greatest proportion of bloggers are found among Leos (14%), Aquarians (13%), Scorpios (12%) and Taureans (12%)
(I haven't checked whether the overall population is normally distributed over months, actually - I know that there are seasonal peaks and troughs as a result of Bank Holidays and festive occasions, but I suspect that it is fairly regular)

In this survey, the lowest numbers of bloggers are found among Librans (1%), Capricorns (5%) and Cancerians (5%).

Interestingly, these proportions are almost identical for the 24/76 of respondents whose blogs I read regularly.

Given the relatively small sample size, I'm not going to analyse the data further in terms of diary keeping habits by star sign as I don't feel that it would be either reliable or valid.

For those who prefer visual data, Purple Penny has very kindly played with the figures to produce this.

(many thanks to kelvingreen for sorting out the jpg for that)

Of course, there are many possible explanations for these results. But, hey this is one of those rubbishy cheap-mag surveys, not an academic dissertation, so I won't bore you with them. Most of you will be able to work them out for yourselves anyway, I'm sure. All speculation welcome in the comments box!

Thank you again to everyone who participated, particularly those of you who sent over some new-to-me-bloggers - I've enjoyed/will enjoy reading them.

And, if anyone wants any more spurious facts by star sign, try here :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 12:33 am....

   Saturday, October 11, 2003  
Star signs, diaries and bloggers - results coming tomorrow.
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:55 pm....  
The 26th Weekly Make Blue Witch Laugh Award

The Trophy, created by Oddverse Alan

This week there has been a distinct lack of contenders. That's due partly to my state of mind and partly to the nights drawing in and making us all SAD, sad or sad depending where you are coming at this from. The 2 events are connected, of course, and it's probably only my perception that there's been a lot of gloom and doom out there. The rest of you have probably been having a wonderful time and I've missed the point completely.

The only thing that has actually made me laugh out loud has been The Jiffy Bag Episode.

This started here on Monday and spread.

Now, as far as I can remember, those involved were Billy, Elsie, Edward (a dog, right, but it might have been one of his Dads), and there was some comment somewhere about why a certain other product called Jiffy failed to enjoy the success of one of its Mates.

Unfortunately, the only one of the dialogues that I saved as I saw it (big mistake not doing it as I went along, first time that has happened, you can tell it's been bad this week...) is this, which was at Billy's on Tuesday lunchtime, soon after one of my children had been safely delivered back to me from its Northern Trip:

BW: Oh, and Billy. That Jiffy Bag is traumatised. I've tried to get it to talk, but it tells me that it can't *begin* to tell me what happened to it. Have you anything to say, or was it Mark the relief postman's fault?

Elsie: I am that jiffy bag...Mark has rough hands *happy sigh and adjusts figures to a more empowered 11* (that 11 was another story that never reached a satisfactory conclusion. I think we'd best not get into that) ;)

So, thus far it is one point each to Billy, Elsie and Edward.
Anyone else able to prove that they were involved in this by posting the link/comment involved can also have a point. Provided that I think it was funny. I'm particularly keen to track down the Jiffy Mates comment as that was worthy of a point. Or maybe even 2. Later.

Update: Ah, it was Billy again... here, so he tells me:

"..does anyone else remember a condom firm called "jiffy"...their slogan was "real men cum in a jiffy"...I wonder why we don't hear about them much??...mind you I suppose "real men cum in their mates" wouldn't work for "mates" either...not that I know anything about contraception - not me, good catholic boy that I am :^)"

So, I've go the choice between a dog, a girl, and Billy. Hmmm. I'll have to go and think about that while wrapping my fuchsias up for the winter :)

Updated update: I think that Billy just has it. 2 points (that's 3 in total, I must be in a generous mood), plus the trophy for the week. Cherish it Billy, please. I don't want it coming back telling me the sorts of tales that that Jiffy Bag did :)

I'll update the scoresheet sometime soon.
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:24 am....  
Trouble brewing

Mr BW is playing with my new pink quartz dowsing pendulum. It works for him too. He is spooked out.

My PDA has gone wrong again. Luckily still under guarantee, but it always goes wrong when I've forgotten to HotSync it for 2 days and have put lots of stuff into it.

The results of the Bloggers Star Sign thingy will be coming tomorrow. Thanks to everyone who has taken part and plugged it. And especially to Purple Pen e (ah, that's a good one, 'Purple Penny' :)) who accidentally let slip that she had been looking at the figures and kindly shared her work :)

Off out to plant some more bulbs and do some tidying now, while the lovely Autumn sunshine lasts.
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:20 am....

   Friday, October 10, 2003  
Given that e and I are having a "Kick christmas into January" or CHU (christmas Haters Unite) campaign, you may be amused to learn that MrBW and I are off to a local garden centre's 'christmas preview' tonight. But only because we are Value Witches. They promise free wine and festive nibbles and 10% off everything.

So - no need for dinner tonight, and a few quid to be saved. Yippee!

What shall I say to Santa when I get to sit on his knee?
   posted by Blue Witch at 3:53 pm....  
Google says that BW is the 7th most related page to

Billy will be pleased to know that he is item 8. Does Carolyn know Billy? :)

However, I am pacified by the thought that they must have got it wrong, given item 10 in that search :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:57 am....  
The bloggers' star sign / diary survey is down a few posts - please would you add your details, if you haven't already done so? And many thanks to everyone who already has. Results at the weekend.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:20 am....  
I can't get through the day without knowing...

How do people (ie girlies) walk in those long pointed shoes? How don't they fall over the tips? Come to that, how do they walk for long distances with stilettos on (eg in London), especially the ones without backs? How come the matchstick thin heels don't break? Don't they get blisters and hard skin and eventually deformed feet? Why do they do it?

These questions have often bemused me.
Today I need to know the answers.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:19 am....  
Missed messages

I've had someone chasing me to do a piece of work for them for a couple of days now. It started with a telephone call and flattery, but, hearing the details of the case, alarm bells went off in my head, and I very politely did my usual when I don't want to take something on, and said that I was completely booked up until well into the New Year.

She then started pleading with me by email. I've tried to say 'no' nicely, and then 'firmly', but she doesn't seem to understand. It's a legal case, and not the sort of thing that one can do in less than 25-30 hours. I tried to explain to her exactly what an assessment of the nature she needed for her case involved, and that it would be impossible for me (and probably anyone else) to complete the work within the 4 week timescale she had.

I do feel for parents in her position, and try to be as supportive and helpful as I can if I can't assist them myself. Networking and a knowledge of the system has always been my forte, and it is rare that I can't see a way forward, or point them in the direction of someone else who can help them.

Last night I finally decided to stop being so nice and reasonable and explanatory and replied to her latest email epistle with a simple, yet polite and final, "I am sorry that I am unable to assist." This morning I found a diatribe from her in my in-box in which she called me "uncaring", "unfeeling", and "unprofessional".

I really wanted to reply,

"I can understand how frustrated you must be that you have left it so late to seek expert opinion that you are now unable to find someone to work within your time-scales. However, have you ever thought that your approach to securing professional co-operation might just be at the root of (a) the problems you currently have with 'the system' and, (b) your child's problems?"

Instead I moved the offending message out of my in-box and into my 'refused cases' folder.

I felt so much better.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:12 am....  
Thought for the day

Sometimes I have MrBW's mobile and mine in my bag. They jump on top of each other. We call it phone sex :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:07 am....

   Thursday, October 09, 2003  
There is a hotel in our local market town that has its christmas decorations up already.

This is unnecessary and uncalled for.

Some of the lads in my 'haberdashery' class are going to start pinching the bulbs out of the lights. I wonder who suggested that? :) (don't forget the catch phrase, "BW says, kick christmas into January!")

Dolly Parton, the tutor, came out with a gem tonight, "I'm afraid I haven't had a chance this week to look over my lecture notes, and I last taught this a year ago." I would be just too embarrassed to try to teach adult learners with no clue about what I was going to say. I corrected her three times tonight. Basic things. If she'd asked me whether I wanted to take the class next week, I'd have done it, just to show her how it could/should, be done...
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:44 pm....  
I knew that today was going to be like that when I accidentally tore 2 pages off my calendar at once this morning.

Then Fluffy the Ginger Familiar decided to bring me a live shrew (she knows she's not allowed to bring them in, but she did anyway) and let it go on the utility mat so it scampered behind the washing machine. Just as I had pulled it out and seen the nasty black mouldy mess where it had (unbeknown to me) been leaking a bit (the washing machine that is, not the shrew), the BW's Wonderful Cleaner turned up, smiled, said, "You make us some tea BW and I'll sort out the shrew, and the mess." Angel.

Well, I soon need to be off to the place where I am learning dressmaking. Is there anyone who is not sick of hearing about my new dress, yet? I wish I thought that it was going to be worth the wait :) I love that place. Every week I learn something that someone else round here will contradict the next day.

Still, I suppose I'd better check whether I still know those hex colour codes, so, here is Hans' effort :) (only he didn't have a blog and he wasn't called Hans when he wrote this) (only Billy's and Mark's to go after this...)

"Once upon a Blog there was a blue witch who was obsessed with silver, she had that much silver she was taken captive by Black Bob an evil pirate with foul breath. The pirate had yellow teeth and a daughter in the Rocky Horror called Magenta. Evil Bob carried poor Blue Witch off to a far far away island where she found herself marooned.

Surviving for years on all but a few olives each day, Blue Witch developed great skin but terrible scurvy, frustrated at her lot she decided to burn the trees to attract attention, very soon the lush green foliage was blackened by her environmental vandalism, fortunately a passing navy ship managed to read the cyan and made for the island, "well Red" thought Blue Witch as she boarded the galleon, "Have you any limes for my condition", "Avast !" replied the cap'n, "so we have", Blue Witch turned in fright her face paling to white (white), for it was Evil Bob with his cackling African Grey parrot on his shoulder which was clearly of the Timnei variety judging by the red plummage on its teal.
"But why have you returned" said Blue Witch who was very confuchsiad, "vanity my dear Bilge rat" replied Bob, "all the silver on the high seas cant buy me oral hygiene standards that a pirate can be proud of", "Oh but my dear loveable rogue pirate, you should have said earlier" and with that Blue Witch produced a tube of Aqua-white (white) Sensodyne from her cloak. Nothing rhymes with purple!"

Right, let's see how many errors I've made (I shan't republish, so don't laugh if it's loads, or I'll cry.)
   posted by Blue Witch at 5:32 pm....  
Random thoughts from a random mind on random select

No thanks at all to Mr D who posted 4 lines from Joe Walsh's "Life's been good" yesterday cos I now can't get it out of my head, and as Mr BW will tell you, I never know all the words to any song, even though I think I do, and sing them like I do. At least it took over from the debris from whoever it was who mentioned Aerosmith's "Love in an elevator" the other day (Love in an elevator, Livin' it up when I'm going down, Love in an elevator, Lovin' it up 'til I hit the ground)

The moon was full with a fuzzy eerily large and bright halo when I came in last night from the Very Nice Ladies Group AGM. And, honoured as I was to be asked (again) this year to be President, I am, as I said, at least 20 years too young. Ask me again in 20. Ah, most of you will be dead by then. Oh well. Like I said to Mr D over at TD's, on the subject of the abortive chess game, no-one ever wanted to play with me, so I learnt to play with myself.

It's World Mental Health Day tomorrow. Actually, I've just looked it up, the full moon is actually tomorrow too. It's a sign I tell you.

Yesterday someone turned a spotlight on something I've thought for most of my life was my fault. It's hard to assimilate the information. I'm still looking for reasons why it's not right when I think I know it is. It's not something that I'm ever likely to write about here, for all sorts of reasons. I need to go and do some research - or, more correctly, register on a site which has the info. But there's something stopping me.... I guess that nearly 41 years of being constantly made to feel the way I now do, despite logic, professional training and knowledge telling me that it wasn't my fault is a lot to overcome in 24 hours. I'm just so impatient. And some more lines from Joe Walsh... "They say I'm crazy but I have a good time, I'm just looking for clues at the scene of the crime" and "Lucky I'm sane after all I've been through."

Sorry, I'm talking in riddles.

Normal service will be resumed when I've got my head back.

In the meantime, Ron's posted a great guide to using images on blogs. If you're a less technical blogger, do go and take a peek. Don't, however, read what he wrote about you yesterday ;) (Ron, note the smiley, OK? :)

Oh, and Elsie wants you to tell her how many people you've shagged slept with. I think you're not meant to say 9 ;) And, despite what she thinks, I will not be allowing her to contaminate my research into bloggers' star signs and diary habits. Although, as a social scientist, I know that I do need to double the current sample size in order for it to be either (a) reliable or (b) valid. so, if you haven't done it, scroll down a couple of posts and add your bit. Please.

   posted by Blue Witch at 12:27 pm....  
Thought for the day:

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."

- Marcel Proust

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:25 am....

   Wednesday, October 08, 2003  
Twelfth question

I'm really much more interested in astronomy than I am in astrology, but I have always been fascinated by the fact that there are infallibly one sixth of the population who I just never get on with, and one twelfth that I invariably do. I'm not going to disclose who, just yet, but it is related to star signs. I really know very little about astrology and go out of my way to avoid pop astrology (never read magazine or newspaper 'horoscopes' etc). However, I can usually identify someone's starsign correctly.

I have a perception that:

(a) Blogland's bloggers' birthdays are not normally distributed.

(b) That the majority of bloggers have kept (or still keep) diaries of their lives (other than their public blog).

So - a quick survey (for readers with blogs only) - in the comments box, would you please leave:

1. Your star sign
2. The word 'yes' if you are currently a diarist, the word 'ex' if you are an ex-diarist and the word 'no' if you have never kept a personal diary.

And, if you'd be kind enough to spread the word, this study would be more representative.

I'll collate the results at the weekend.
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:26 am....  
Thought for the day:

When our sense of humour hasn't been around for a while, maybe we are too busy?
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:22 am....

   Tuesday, October 07, 2003  
Debt in Britain today

Figures from The Motley Fool just published alarmed and staggered me:

(£billions) Mortgages Other debts Total
Nov 2002......663..........155..........818
Feb 2003......686..........158..........844
Jun 2003......714..........164..........878
Jul 2003.......722..........166..........888
Aug 2003......730..........167..........897

Borrowing in this country is rising by between eight and ten billion pounds every month and, at this rate, we will collectively owe a trillion pounds in a year's time - that's a one with twelve zeros after it.

Now, I fully accept that people like us, with (currently) £70Ks worth of borrowed money on credit cards at 0% offsetting against our mortgage at 4.6% (meaning that it is costing us less than £100 a month to live at The Coven) are skewing the figures.

As I've said before, part of my contribution to the GCP (Gross Coven Product) is playing financial games with anyone who is daft enough to put loopholes in their financial schemes.

BUT, I just don't believe that there are more than a few hundred people in Britain who play at this kind of level.

The thought of chucking hard-earned money down the drain by paying exorbitant interest on loans, overdrafts or credit card balances makes me feel ill. I'm old enough to remember the days when it was a privilege rather than a right to be accorded the honour of a credit card on your 18th birthday.

We live in what I consider to be one of the worst areas of the country for "MHAMHNS" (Must Have And Must Have Now Syndrome). I was talking to someone the other day who told me that her minimum payments on her credit card debts were more than half of her take-home pay, and that, on top of that, she had mortgage and car payments to make. But, despite the fact that basic maths tells her that she can't afford new clothes, CDs, DVDs, nights out at the swishest restaurant in town, gym membership, or doing all her shopping at the corner shop, she still buys/does all of these things. I tried to tactfully suggest budgeting using Quicken or MSMoney and she laughed and told me that she hadn't got either the time or the inclination to do that. I asked her what would happen when she started defaulting on her payments, which is bound to happen. She shrugged and said she'd cross that bridge when she came to it.

Why do people over-spend so much?
As my Grandmother used to say, "You should cut your coat according to your cloth," surely?

Oooh, it's just started hailing here - pieces of hail the size of marbles very large peas (let's not exaggerate :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 1:55 pm....  
3G mobiles and health

Mr BW has just found this research report into the"Effects of Global Communication system radio-frequency fields on Well Being and Cognitive Functions of human subjects with and without subjective complaints."

I think that what it's saying is that if you live near a 3G base station (UTMS), you may feel tingling sensations, get headaches and feel nauseous, but that the signals may improve your cognitive functioning in areas such as memory, concentration, reaction time and hand-to-eye coordination.

Right, let's move...

(There's plenty to criticise in the methodology of this study, of course...)
   posted by Blue Witch at 11:41 am....  
Thought for the day:

"We start with gifts. Merit comes from what we make of them."

- Jean Toomer
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:20 am....

   Monday, October 06, 2003  
I'm feeling a bit cheesed off at the moment. Not only does Google reckon that this is the 7th worst witch chatroom, but it (Google is an 'it' isn't it?) thinks I know about "gay eskimos" too.

Add to that the fact that the tutor on the watercolour painting course I am doing on Mondays (yes, I know, I'm too young, but so what) has zero teaching skills ("I'm an artist who does teaching, not a teacher who dabbles in art") and the irritating voice of Karen from Will & Grace (but minus the American accent), and the fact that the room is surrounded by a tumble tots session on one side and a crèche on the other (you all know how much I love kids, especially noisy or badly behaved ones), then you might begin to see how my planned relaxation isn't...

Then there's that old chestnut, my new dress. I now have 3 versions, courtesy of Mr Wiz, Ron, and DG. Any one of which would, I'm sure, delight most people. Most people aren't, however, me. If I could only combine all 3, I might just about have what I want. I'm such an ungrateful Witch aren't I? If only Blogger had provided templates that work when I first started BW (like they do now), I wouldn't be in this mess. And if only I could publish them myself. Although, now that I have a *cough* version of Front Page, at least I can now preview code outside of blogger. (Don't panic Ron, I'm not about to start using FP for anything else!)
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:00 pm....  
Just a Jiffy

As regulars here will know, I am the Queen of Recycling. If it can be used again, I'll do it.

I was just looking through my stash of Jiffy Bags. Do you know, I have old bags dating back to when I was at university in London (c.1981)!

There are probably about 150 in my store. Every time I want one to send something somewhere I first have to select which ones are a suitable size, then have to decide which one of my children I will let go. It's usually the newest ones that get re-dispatched as the ones with old addresses are so lovely I can't bear to part with them. Some of them are full of that old-style grey felty-linty padding which makes a hell of a mess everywhere if you happen to tear it. Not much use for sending things these days, as it's heavy as well as messy. Might make good material for D'Ove nests though...
   posted by Blue Witch at 10:44 am....  
Another instrument of torture arrives in blogland.

Rob / Hans / Hand has unleashed his Chocolate Trombone.

First note is out...

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:04 am....  
Thought for the day:

Getting people to like you is merely the other side of liking them.

- Norman Vincent Peale
   posted by Blue Witch at 8:37 am....

   Sunday, October 05, 2003  
Were my ears deceiving me, or were they using a Lemon Jelly track as background music on Gardeners' World this week?

And, while we're on the subject of music on TV, what and who is the song/singer that Billy Connelly is using at the end of the programme on the current series?

Well, we've got through the first boiler-on and the first wood-burner-on of the season here at The Coven. And got through the smell of the accompanying burning dust. It's cold. I feel like bringing all the familiars in. But, think what a mess 5 D'Oves, 8 H'Ens and one fluffy ginger cat would make. It doesn't bear thinking about really, does it?

So, I'll just go and snuggle up under my 8 foot wide, 15 tog duvet.
While we're on the questions, who can tell me why the filling of quilts always ends up down the bottom end eventually?

   posted by Blue Witch at 9:53 pm....  
Thought for the day:

   posted by Blue Witch at 8:54 am....

   Saturday, October 04, 2003  
The 25th Weekly Make Blue Witch Laugh Award

The Trophy, created by Oddverse Alan

This week there are only 3 contenders. Largely because I haven't been out and about in blogland too much this week as I've been out and about elsewhere. Well, Witches have lots to do with Halloween (their christmas - BW says kick christmas into January) coming up in 27 days time!

Contender 1: London Mark's guide to snacking. Deserving of and needing to be read in full, one phrase stuck out:

"Buying a diet drink while eating five Kit-Kats: be consistent with your snacking."

You've met Mr BW then Mark? :)

Contender 2: Ian in Elsie's comments (that had to do with hints on the emotionally therapeutic abuse of OTC pharmaceuticals; I would link it, but just about every comments box over there contains details that would be useful for someone genuinely in need of that information):

"So, along with several sexual practices that I had not heard of before I read about them in Blogland, I can now add 'getting pissed on cough mixture'. It's all one big learning adventure."

I still can't decide if Ian is being serious or not ;)

Contender 3: Mr Thespian-2-Agas. Now, let's face it, anyone prepared to go this far in pursuit of his art is deserving of at least one BW Honey Point, eh? Needing of something else, but I'm a Nice Witch, and e would chastise me for casting nasturtiums rather than eating them :)

So, now that we've sorted a few gardeny-y things, bought some new tiles for the cloakroom floor, and been out looking for mushrooms (a magical pursuit, that :) even if the results of the fungi foray weren't edible - although we only discovered that after they were cooked)...

I can announce that London Mark gets the 2 points and the trophy for the week. Well done Mark! I have to say that I did eat a few bits of the bracket fungus (called, we were told, a birch pollypup, although we couldn't find it in our 'edible mushroom' guide when we got home) and I am beginning to feel a bit weird, so if you don't see any blogs appearing tomorrow, you'll know what to tell the poison squad...
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:59 am....

   Friday, October 03, 2003  

I now have 96 pansies in varying shades of blue, purple and mauve (oh, and a few rust and brown, for a particular corner of The Coven Grounds). And lots of bulbs, some small rusty-orange grasses, little lime-green conifers, thymes and a few other oddments.

I'm reliably informed that this year's colour for winter planting is yellow. Draw your own conclusions :)

Busy weekend ahead then.

Shame really, because the purple and the lime (cream) surfinias are still flowering their roots off (I was going to say 'socks' but they don't have socks, do they?). But, we do need to get the fuchsias tucked up in the greenhouse before it turns really cold, so the murder has to happen.
   posted by Blue Witch at 7:40 pm....  
Oh, forgot just now - how's this for spooky co-incidence - of course I needed to get a copy of Web User (when one's blog parent is featured, of course one must, mustn't one?), and of course there are very few newsagents near The Coven, let alone any that might sell such a publication. So, on my way through a larger town yesterday, I stopped at a small, but well-stocked one. A quick look on the shelves didn't reveal a copy, although at least 50% of what was on the shelves was very revealing (when I worked on the News Department in WH Smith on a Saturday and in the holidays (c. 1977-79) there were only about 4 or 5 mucky mag varieties. Blokes in macs would sidle up to the till, hold out a copy of the FT or The Telegraph, with said mag just poking out of the top so we could just about see the price. We used to have great fun taking the lot from their hand, revealing the full cover of the mag, taking ages to 'find' the price, then shouting across to the person on the next till, "I've run out of bags, have you got one that will fit this?" (holding it up for all to see). Cue face of person in queue turning colour of FT.)

Them was the days. Anyway. So, I asked the bloke behind the counter in this little newsagents whether he had a copy of Web User. 'Only the one I'm reading,' he said, indicating it, 'but you can have that if you like.' And which page should he be reading, but page 16, the very page where I star, but only if you get a magnifying glass on the screen shot.

And BW has absolutely *no* comment to make on the final line in the article. No, no, no, no, no. Except to say that I *once* heard a story that I would like to think was untrue. I would like to think that, but... ;)

Now, keep an eye on the last line of this post during the day as I'm going out and I have a feeling that it might just magically change :)
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:51 am....  
In case anyone is even the teeniest bit interested, I got 16/16 in the official hex number colour test last night. The most anyone else got was 9. I shall carry on doing the remaining set texts (and there are still 3 to go) over the next few days, because otherwise I shall forget all the numbers, and, despite what some people think, I reckon they will prove useful over time. Thanks again to those who provided set texts, they did the trick :)

Then I got really hacked off because the college computer system had been hacked by some moronic student(s?) and I'd lost everything I'd already done towards the project part of the course. I'm not used to shared computer systems (no-one, not even Mr BW, goes near my PC without me breathing down their neck), and neither were we told how insecure their system is, so I hadn't got it backed up anywhere (the previous week the email system had been down so I hadn't been able to email my work to myself at home, and the machine I had been working on didn't have a CD-RW drive, so I hadn't been able to save it to CD).

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I have done a deal with the useless tutor (think Dolly Parton minus two bra sizes and you're about there) and will get a college-validated 'certificate' for the XHTML part of the course (which was all I wanted to do anyway) and will dip out of the full 'university-validated' module certificate that involved designing and coding a 15-page website (which was the only option open to me before last night's fiasco).

Nonetheless, I am feeling very angry today, so I'm off out to track down some pansies in an attempt to make myself feel better. Woe betide anyone who annoys me today.
   posted by Blue Witch at 9:01 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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