Saturday, 26 January 2013

Help me, please, I hate housework!

Writing in desperation, a woman boasting the screen name of 'Angel Eyes' wrote to Yahoo Answers, 'I really hate housework. I mean, I really am grateful that I have my home but the cleaning is horrid and a losing battle. I don't feel it's laziness but rather dread that keeps me from doing it. I keep the area where the baby stays clean but I hate laundry and dishes and every other aspect of cleaning. Any suggestions or help you can give me will be much appreciated.'

Angel Eyes received a number of responses, some empathatic, some rather judgmental in tone. My favourite was from S.K. who started their response with 'OMG, I have this problem to. Maybe it's a disorder we can get meds for.'

What these women probably don't realise is that they probably do have meds for this already, as historically a lack of interest and motivation in housework has been linked with women's dissatisfaction with their societally imposed roles of housemaker and a likely connection with the experience of post-natal depression. Dorothy Wright, in 1961, wrote home to her mother with the description of herself as 'not a good mother', explaining that although she loves her two children, she 'loathes the continual, hampered feeling'. (Alistair Thompson)

Dorothy lived through what is now known as the Second Wave of Feminism, where women pushed for the right to equality in marriage and for the right to work. It is possible that now women have been pushed into the 'triple burden' position where they are expected to be efficient home-makers, living mothers and fathers as well as holding down jobs and careers.

 
Women are indeed living in a complex world where expectations are pushed on them from every direction, including values which have been passed down from their families and an array of messages from the media. My short story, Deuce, touches on this quandary, as Billy's Mum leaves the kitchen after slaving away at a hot stove on a typically steamy Aussie Christmas day and takes up camp in the back-yard at the new Totem Tennis set. Beneath the jacaranda tree she loses herself in a tennis championship of her imagination, her only escape from the endless domestic toil which had been her thankless task for many years. To read more of this story, simply purchase a copy of Short Stories on Motherhood, available for Kindle, E-reader or in print.

Sue  Oaks
 

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Create Your own fairy Garden - guest post

You may be reading this and thinking to yourself, “what the heck is a fairy garden?!”  Well, a fairy garden is a place that you can build to give fairies a wonderful place to live.  The most important part in making your own fairy garden is to make your garden inviting and pleasant for the fairies to live in.

A great way to attract fairies to your garden is through wind chimes.  Once they are attracted to your garden, you need to make certain that they have a nice place to live.  Fairies are very small so it is necessary to make sure that the plants that you use in your garden are not too overwhelming for the fairies.  I highly recommend using small plants such as bonsai trees to make your fairy guests feel at home. 
Many small plants are delicate so it is a good idea to find a space in your yard where the plants along with the fairies are protected.  For example, good spots for the gardens are against hills, under trees as well as along the side of your house.  All of these spots will give the fairies a sense of protection as well as protect them from being stepped on by humans.
Fairies also need a house to stay in.  You can make one on your own or you can search the web to buy one. I encourage making your own so you can add your own creativity to the house.  Fairy gardening is all about your creativity, honestly.  The more creative you are, the happier the fairy will be.
There is no straightforward way to make a fairy garden which in my opinion is a good thing.  This allows you to have fun and do what you feel is best to make your garden look beautiful as well as inviting for the fairies. To generate some fairy garden ideas, visit http://www.fairyinagarden.com/

 

 

How to best handle a car accident and the aftermath - guest post by Mark Harris

 
Hopefully you are reading this in preparing for a car accident that might happen…or better yet, never happen. It’s best to have some prior knowledge on how to handle a car accident both at the scene and after the dust has settled.

Fortunately, I have only been in a couple minor car accidents. But, it was enough to make me want to learn more about what should be done when and if one happens again. It’s a stressful time, and completely unexpected. So, to say that we should be prepared seems rather odd, right? But, we should be, as best we can for the unknown.

I am going to break the information down to what you can do before anything ever happens, when it happens, and also when everything is cleaned up and everyone has left the scene.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Having a few items in the car before you even start it up will help you in the chance you get into a car accident… or the car breaks down. We should be considering that as well, because people driving by a broken down car can often cause an accident simply by watching you instead of the road.

A set of cones and reflective warning triangles will help to warn traffic to move over and avoid hitting you, or any other cars involved. Emergency flares will work better at night so they can see you better. Keep these in the trunk and out of the way. Hopefully you will never need them. Also, keep an emergency card in your wallet… and another one in your glove compartment in the vehicle. On it, list your doctor, emergency contact name and number, and all important medical history and information for anyone treating you medically. 

Immediately Following the Accident

First thing you should do is take a deep breath, and then find your phone. Call the police and report the accident and any injuries you are aware of for everyone involved. If you have any doubt of how severe the injuries are, call an ambulance immediately. People have died from injuries, when they walked away thinking they were fine. Next, turn on your hazard lights and place the cones out on the road to warn traffic coming your way. If you are unable to get out of the car, sit and wait for emergency crews to come to you. Keep yourself and your passengers calm. With a minor accident and no injuries, move the vehicles out of traffic to avoid another accident. However, make sure you still call the police, no matter how minor it seems. You never know if the person you were in the accident with will call when they leave, or not. It’s best that it doesn’t appear as though you left the scene of an accident.

When the police and ambulance arrive, be cooperative with them, and follow their advice, especially if they recommend going to the hospital. If you are not with your family, call someone to let them know what happened, where you are, and where you will be going.

Finally, take photos of the damage to the car, position of the cars, and any visible injuries. A friend of mine, who lives out west, was recently in an accident. I gave her the same advice, because you never know if you will find yourself in court as a result of the accident…no matter who was at fault. So, she did all this, and then looked into contacting a reputable Sacramento personal injury lawyer. In the end, she was glad she did.

After You Leave the Scene

After the cars are towed…or you can (luckily) drive off, there are several things to do after you leave the scene as well;

  • Take a look
  • Call your insurance agent,
  • Get estimates for damage
  • Follow up with your doctor if you have injuries
  • Contact the police department for a full report
  • Watch for depression to set in

You might be surprised to see depression mentioned. However, if there is a major loss of income, or major expenses incurred as a result of the accident, it could affect you emotionally. If you find that happening, do something to counter it such as counseling before it spirals out of control. Finally, try not to discuss the accident too much with anyone except the legal and medical experts involved in your ‘case’. This will help protect you in court, should you find yourself in a battle with the other driver, or drivers.

In Closing, I sincerely hope you will never have to use any of this information I just shared. But, in case you do…or you know of someone to share it with, then you are further ahead with this knowledge.

Mark Harris is a successful Internet marketer and freelance writer, working out of the comfort of his own home. He loves research and it often inspires him for future projects. In fact, when looking up information for a friend on personal injury cases, he used many online resources including  www.travisblacklaw.com and then got the idea to write a series on auto accidents and how they can affect a person’s life. Mark is married and lives in White Rock, B.C. He enjoys spending time on the local beaches, hiking, kayaking, and touring Vancouver.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Pubes with Attitude



What is it with the social pressure to shave every hair on a woman’s body, bar her head these days? Is it to sell hair removal products? Does it come from the rise in media representations of photo-shopped, flawless women's bodies and the growing sales of porn on the Internet?

Does it come from men’s fear that women might be hiding something … akin to the myths which surrounded the alleged witch hunts in the Medieval and early modern periods, where women were chased down and shaved in search of so-called witches marks?

It’s interesting how the mere presence or absence of hair on one’s body can indicate so much more than whether or not one owns a shaver or a bottle of wax. In past times, men with unshaven faces were considered lower class, and even today it can be construed as a sign of power to have a fresh, clean shaven jaw-line.

Western women thought nothing of a hairy under-arm or leg until about 1915 when advertisements for hair removal products began to appear in magazines and newspapers. Men were encouraged to have hairy bodies while women were punished for the presence of hair in ‘unsightly’ places.

Today the trend for a totally hairless woman’s body seems to be growing and hair-loss industries and reaping the benefits. Brazilian butterflies apparently have been let loose in flocks of thousands. Of course women are ‘free’ to choose whether to be adorned with body hair or ‘relieved’ of it via their choice of device. What is worrying is the social expectation that this is the norm, particularly in young girls, who reportedly fear that their boyfriends will be horrified at the sight of their natural body hair.

Well, shave away, wax away or be proud of your pubes, I say, but keep in mind that whatever you choose to do is probably bringing a profit to someone and may not make you happy. Be aware and be yourself, however you choose to fly. 

Sue Oaks 2013

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Things you can make with edible paper (guest post)

Many of the same crafts done in real paper can be created in edible paper to decorate cakes, cookies, cupcakes and other desserts. Edible paper is a thin sheet of icing that can be cut, stamped, embossed, quilled or even printed on to create a wide variety of decorations. Unlike many other cake decorating techniques, working with edible paper is time saving and easy enough for most people to do without any prior cake decorating experience. Here are just a few ways you can use it:
  1. Create a book cake, as shown in the photo. The pages are printed using edible ink cartridges (filled with food color). They are then applied to the fondant by applying a light coat of piping gel to the back of the icing sheet.
  2. Punching designs: You can buy a wide variety of punches at your local craft store. You can punch out single decorations to place around a cake, top a cupcake or lay on top of a cookie. You can also find longer punch designs that make really decorative borders.
  3. Create funky flowers: A wide variety of designs can be printed on the icing sheets. To make your flowers, roll out the gum paste to 1/8” thick. Apply piping gel to the back of the printed icing sheet. Lay the icing sheet on top of the gum paste. Cut out flowers using a 5 petal cutter. Create a center for the flower by adding a ball of gum paste in the center, attaching it with gum glue. You can make the center yellow or just add a complimentary color. Allow the flowers to dry at least overnight. Attach the flowers to your cake with piping gel or place one on top of each cupcake before the frosting sets.
  4. Print out photos on the icing sheets and use them to create a photo gallery on a cake. You can layer photos printed out in different shapes and sizes to create a collage.
  5. Completely cover a cake in a printed design.  Trace the cake pan on to the plastic backing of the edible paper and cut out with scissors. Apply to the top of the cake with a light coat of piping gel. Wrap the print around the cake by matching the print up from end to end and trimming the excess.
Edible paper comes in white, chocolate and a variety of solid colors. White is best for printing designs and images. Any color can be cut either by hand or by using an electronic cutting machine, which can create a wide variety of designs or cut out complete messages in print, script or other font types.  The only skills you really need to work with icing sheets are cutting and a good imagination. You can create works of art with very little effort.
Featured images:
  •  License: Image author owned 
Theresa Happe from Icing Images.

Learn from the greats, writing tips from R.R.Martin (guest post)

George R.R Martin – The Master of Gritty Political Fantasy
At the recent World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, George R.R Martin mentioned reading about a king in Ancient Jerusalem who went mad and began executing courtiers and ordering the hands cut off all the women at court. “Why doesn't the captain of the guard say to the sergeant, ‘This guy is [expletive] nuts’?” Martin pointed out. They should say, “We have swords! Why don't we kill him instead?'”
His fascination with power structures and the shifting sands on which they are built is a theme running strong through his epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire and its massively popular HBO adaption Game of Thrones. Martin’s gritty take on fantasy undercuts conventions of the genre, and creates a fictional world embroiled in war and political intrigue, bringing to mind periods from our history such as the civil wars of Ancient Rome, or the War of the Roses.
Martin was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, so it’s no surprise that his novels look at the brutality of war, the powers behind it and its moral ambiguity. He enjoys creating characters who are constantly forced to make a choice when all the choices are bad; who are constantly caught between the requirements of family and clan loyalties, social and political standards and their own personal desires.
He is famous for being unafraid to kill off major characters, as well as for taking a notoriously long time to write. Fans frequently bemoan the long delays between each new installment, only to be reminded by Neil Gaiman that “George R.R Martin is not your b**ch”.
Tips from the Man Himself
The books are beloved, and the TV series has become a cultural phenomenon. George R.R Martin is a big name right now, and he has always been willing to give advice to budding writers hoping to emulate his success.
  • Fans often ask Martin for advice on writing fan fiction, to which his response is that they shouldn't write fan fiction. He believes writers should get used to creating their own characters and worlds. Whether it’s the universe of Game of Thrones, Tolkien or Star Wars, he believes that writers take the lazy option when they copy someone else’s world. The only way to develop literary talent it to exercise “literary muscles”.
  • Don't hoard your silver bullet: Martin gave this advice to his friend Melinda Snodgrass, who was unsure whether to submit her script for a Star Trek episode entitled “Measure of a Man”. The script had the android Data put on trial to determine whether he is man or property, and she felt the subject matter might be too weighty due to its parallels with the Dred Scott vs. Sandford case of 1857. Martin encouraged Melinda to submit the episode, which would become one of the most memorable in Star Trek history (io9.com).
  • Start small: Martin says he's been approached by fans asking for advice on writing their own epic sagas. To him that's tantamount to someone who's just started rock-climbing requesting advice on climbing Mount Everest. Martin believes new writers should hone their craft by writing short stories first. Something like A Song of Ice and Fire is the product of years of experience and research.
  • Trimming sentences and such can often significantly reduce the length of a work. This is a technique picked up during his years writing for television, where executives would tell him to cut scenes in order to reduce a script's length. Loath to part with important character development or action-sequences, he'd go through the script trimming words off sentences and dialogue instead, to make it appear shorter in length.
  • On writing scenes: Just as writers should have a clear idea of the characters’ goals throughout the story, they should also have a clear idea of their goals within each scene. The intentions of each participant are important to build the dynamic of the scene, and to ensure the reader feels something significant has occurred by the end of it, whether it’s a character change or resolution of some kind. This scene-by-scene approach results in stronger work overall.
  • Read and write a lot: This advice often given to budding writers, but Martin goes further and insists they should experience writing in every genre and on every medium, and should write as much as possible, even if it's just a page or two a day.
George R.R Martin is well known for regularly participating in fan conventions and the like, where he readily interacts with fans eager to seek advice from one of the masters of the fantasy and science fiction genres.
Featured images:
Written by Matthew Flax on behalf of House of Publishers, a directory of publishing resources and advice portal for aspiring writers.

The new Ice Drumming Craze, Guest Post by Vida Denning

They’ve been accused of fooling the public with their ice drumming on the oldest lake in the world. The massive frozen waves that cover Lake Baikal have become the latest percussion instruments for a group of Siberian percussionists. The sounds are quite remarkable and so much so that the group have been told that the sounds cannot possibly be natural sounds; but they are.

Drum Drum Druuuuum

Discovered quite by mistake when a woman tripped over a piece of ice and landed with a resounding boom on the ground, the sounds emitted when drumming on the frozen waves of the 25 million year-old lake, are quite haunting and most distinctive. This ice drumming phenomenon has become an internet sensation and been reported about across the globe.
The oldest and deepest lake in the world is now the musical ice drumming studio for a group who enjoy sitting in the -20C weather drumming away on the ice and producing some extraordinary sounds. Natalya Vlasevskaya decided to organise a group of percussionists to see what they could come up on the musical front and their efforts have shown the world that even Mother Nature has some vibe and rhythm left in her.
The lake, which freezes over every winter, is used now to evoke some haunting melodies which have stirred the creativity of many producers thanks to the musical potential on offer. The ice drumming percussionists are still sometimes knocked for a six when they hear the sounds that emanate from their simple drumming skills.
Ice drumming is not anything new as drummers from many international music bands have used their talents on actual drum sets made out of ice, but this ice drumming on the oldest lake in the world brings something different to the equation. The natural drumming comes from the deepest belly of the deepest lake in the world. Each wave emits a different sound that even those with a musical education are baffled at. Different parts of the lake allow for different sounds so no two sounds are ever the same.
The ice drumming group called it the ‘Bakail Ice live sound’ and started drumming in March. Naturally their musical sessions are seasonal and they will have to wait for the next winter to get their next ice drumming session off the ground. Or they could plan their songs and lyrics, and get the planning sessions going. Who knows, we could be looking at an ice drumming record by the Siberian percussionists, for this year’s Christmas presents.
As a prolific freelance writer, Vida Denning enjoys writing on interesting topics. Her most recent research into waterproof overalls brought this topic to her attention.

To listen to the ice drumming, follow this link! http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2255943/Listen-Siberian-ice-drummers-use-frozen-Lake-Baikal-incredible-musical-instrument.html