Going Postal

I like snail mail. I like opening envelopes to find out what’s inside. Even the post at work. I’m nosy like that.

I watched Going Postal several years ago – I think it was a TV movie, possibly by ITV, like the adaptation of The Hogfather. I’ve been trying to work my way through Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series ever since. Slowly, though. As I find them in charity shops or the library. And find the moment to read them.

This week, finally, I found the time to read Going Postal, which concerns a con-man’s attempts to resurrect the state mail service in Ankh-Morpork alongside the much faster, almost mafia-controlled clacks (think telegrams).

Come hell or high water, the mail must get through. And there’s a lot of hell for Moist von Lipwig, the new Postmaster. It wasn’t his first choice of career, but Lord Vetinari made it clear: Postmaster (with a golem for a probation officer), or be hanged for his various con-man crimes.

I remember greatly enjoying the film back then, and now I greatly enjoyed the book. It is, I feel, one of the better Discworld novels of the half dozen or so which I’ve read.

Camping and Carrot Cake

For the last few weeks, I’ve been feeling good about the fact that I’ve actually managed to plan, write, and schedule the week’s posts in advance. Productive, on top of things, organised, all sorts of other good and virtuous words I don’t normally apply to myself.

And then something went wrong this week. I mean, I still managed to plan, write, and schedule them, but...

But, my Friday post, about Marshmallows and chocolate tasting somehow, I still don’t know how, managed to be scheduled for last Friday. For two days before I wrote it. My writing day is Sunday, you see. I’m still surprised I didn’t get a pop-up box going “Really? You want to schedule this for THE PAST?! Have you a time-machine or something?”

However, such happened, and I managed to be so silly, and so, instead, I’m going on my camping trip with carrot cake, because I’ve already eaten the marshmallows. A carrot and mango cake, derived from the wonderful Delia’s Cake book.

CarrotCake.jpg

Camp NaNo, July 107

I made a decision a few weeks ago that the only way I am going to get to do what I want in life, as opposed to a series of pay-the-bills jobs, is by creating the job I want to do. To take control, in effect.

This might sound simple, and a bit of a Duh! thing to say, but taking control is not something I do. I am not a leader; I can only just decide what I want to eat from a menu, usually when the waiter appears to take the order because everyone else at the table has already decided. At that point I just pick something.

You may have noticed some small changes around my Cocoary. This is a part of my Taking Control.

I have found, though, since making this decision, that I am generally happier in the life and job (which I dislike) which I am currently living and doing. I have also found that something has clicked and I have more energy and enthusiasm to pursue my dreams. This is the most important change, I think. Never underestimate the power of having energy and a clear head. The job I dislike no longer gets me down like it did. My brain, which previously wasted a lot of energy thinking and dreaming of ways out, is free, now, to concentrate on the Way Out.

And so, to Camp NaNo July 2017.

I believe I have an account, but you won’t find me in the campsite. I’m not a people-person, sorry. Bit too busy for me.

Anyway, my plans for the camp which begins in the next few days are reasonably simple.

I have two story ideas currently competing for attention; they have been for the last few years. One is the story which I wrote for the first NaNoWriMo I completed in 2013, and still haven’t rewritten or polished to *er-hum* someone’s exacting standards, and the other is one which has been expanding, slowly, since the first scene wrote itself in my head on the way home from work while it was supposed to be working on the first story. Ideas are like that. However, both are at the point where they could, conceivably, be written (or rewritten in the case of the former) probably without too much difficulty.

In the spirit of taking control, though, and with the experience of writing without a plan something of a painful memory, my Camp NaNo goal is thus:

To write a plan, a synopsis, a detailed description, of both stories.

Down the Rabbit Hole

When I was growing up, my local shop for crafting supplies was a fabric factory shop. It was, and still is, an Aladdin’s cave of all things fabric-y, with a supply of wools and yarns for good measure. I grew up in sheep-country, where the local economy in years gone by was built on wool. I loved going to this factory shop, and I’ve built quite a stash from my trips over the years.

BUT. As might be deduced, it caters to a select handful of crafts: to quilters and dressmakers, to embroiderers and cross-stitchers, to knitters and crocheters. All things fabric and yarn, in fact.

Now, I’m generally fine with this; I am primarily a cross-stitcher, with occasional crocheting and dress-making thrown in.

Leaving home, though, meant that I had to find a new supplier for my crafting needs. And so I found Hobbycraft.

 

Hobbycraft, if you don’t know it, is less an Aladdin’s cave, more a rabbit-warren of crafts. Chances are, you will find what you need, and then, getting lost on your way to pay, you will find other things. Things which glitter and sparkle, which call to your crafter’s heart, sing out a siren’s song, and you will find yourself walking out with a whole new craft to start.

Me, I have started dabbling with papercrafts; with scrapbooking, in particular. I’ve cross-stitched a few cards in the past (it’s a nice way to use up small kits and patterns), but otherwise stayed out of the paper aisles. I mean, I’ve always like notebooks (love Paperchase!), but otherwise paper doesn’t inspire me like fabrics and threads.

Until earlier this year, when I got myself a scrapbook to do something with those small cross-stitch kits which come free with the magazines. I wasn’t turning them into whatever they were suppose to be; I was just stitching them and tucking them, out of sight, into a Projects Drawer. Which is a bit of a waste, when you think about it.

And now, when I go into Hobbycraft, I find myself wandering the papercraft aisles, looking at the pretty papers and the stickers and the sparkly pens. I’ve even started looking at scrapbook kits on eBay.

I can resist, sometimes. I mean, I have other projects, and not enough time to spend on another craft, but oh the paper’s so pretty, and it wouldn’t take all that long, would it? It’s just arranging things artfully and sticking them down, right? And it’s not like I’ll be worrying about Proper Layouts – mine’s just for my cross-stitching.

 

VCT: Dominican Republic

I am strongly of the opinion that my world-geography knowledge will be vastly increased by the time I have completed this Tour.

I will admit that I had no idea where the Dominican Republic was, but I didn’t think it was where it is. Which is in the Caribbean, on one side of the island which is also home to Haiti. Which I did know was somewhere in that direction.

Named after St Dominic, patron saint of astronomers and the falsely accused, the Dominican Republic (according to Wikipedia; I know, how terrible a source) is home to the first cathedral, monastery, castle, and fortress built in the Americas, and the Colonial Zone, where they are to be found, is now a World Heritage Site.

My image of the Caribbean is one of rum, and spices, and warm beaches, and cool cocktails. It’s also coloured by a recipe I have for a Creole Christmas cake that puts my alcohol-soaked cakes to shame…

However, the chocolate this week is another Moser Roth bar from Aldi, so there’s a description on the back. It reckons this 75% plain chocolate has “fruity notes in combination with rich dark nuances”.

As with the other Moser Roth chocolates, this uses FairTrade ingredients, and is 99.5% FairTrade.

MoserRothChocolate.jpg

I’m not sure about the fruity notes – so far all I’m getting is a nutty flavour, kind of like a walnut with that brown skin left on – but this is certainly a very rich, dark chocolate. It breaks cleanly and melts smoothly on the tongue and it tastes, very definitely, of cacao.

In fact, it reminds me of a Death by Chocolate cake made by a lady in the parish where I grew up, and which was just the best chocolate cake ever. I continue to regret that I never got the recipe from her before she died.

It was the sort of chocolate cake which made no allowances for the taste-buds of small children. You know how chocolate recipes often say to use milk chocolate if making for youngsters? This cake was chocolate, through and through; a rich, dark, sticky, cake with dark chocolate fudge icing. It was, actually, the colour of this 75% Dominican Republic.

I think it sits at level pegging with the Peruvian 62%, for the memories of Sylvia’s Death by Chocolate alone. But it is a good chocolate, which tastes how chocolate should.

Chocolate Tasting and Marshmallows

I’m having a month off from my Chocolate Tour.

Okay, what I really mean is that I’ve run out of single-origins and haven’t got around to finding more yet. And I think my writing camp this month is going to be enough ‘travelling’ for me. One trip at a time, after all.

I have, though, got a bit of light reading for round the camp-fire which has nothing to do with my writing plans: A Chocolate Tasting Kit, which I stumbled across during a browse of the book-section in my local TKMaxx.

I (almost) couldn’t resist. I wanted to find out if the language of chocolate tasting is as pretentious as wine tasting. Going by the descriptions I’ve read, it certainly has the potential for it. I am disappointed, though, that there was a lack of a chocolate bar in the kit. Can’t have everything, I suppose.

Instead, I have a camping favourite. Marshmallows. Only, naturally, mine are chocolate-covered. Just right for the beginning of the camp…