Sunday, 13 October 2013


It's Sunday, I'm still full of germs, and I have the house to myself (apart from grumpy dogs and mischievous kittens) so it's definitely a long, rambling blog sort of morning.

Yes, I've just seen off Martin, Michael, Tyler, and Tom. They are driving to Mississauga to help Alex & Kim put all their worldly possessions into a U-Haul truck and wave bye-bye to the big city. Then they'll follow them to Cambridge, where they take it all off again and put it in a swanky apartment on the hill which happens by sheer coincidence to be just round the corner from Sian.

The chance of two siblings living within walking distance of each other may not strike you as odd, but consider this...

They left home (2 hours north) at different times (because they are 6 years apart) to different cities, different colleges, different plans. Which is what you expect. Alex went to college in Oakville and then moved to Missiauga for work in theatre. Sian went to college in Kitchener, gave that up, got a job, then met Ashley, had a child and then moved to Cambridge.

Southern Ontario is huge, hugely huge, with endless opportunities and places to work and live. But they both ended up in the same corner of Cambridge. I find that incredibly weird, and then not so because life is full of coincidences like that, which probably aren't. It's all Wyrd, in fact.

I mean look at the whole thing of Sian and Ashley meeting. They were both born in England, and chances are would never have met had they stayed there, even though they didn't live a great distance apart, because of the River Thames which made it for all practical purposes much farther.

But that's nothing compared to Rhiannon and Chris. If you haven't heard this before, read it carefully because it's a lesson in wyrd.

Chris's ancestry and Rhiannon's ancestry crossed paths THREE TIMES. Once would have been remarkable. Three times starts to look like a plan.

In 19th century Abingdon, Oxfordshire they both had ancestors working as shoe repairers. Two streets apart. What are the chances these people didn't know each other?

Around the same time they also both had ancestors living just ONE street apart in the East End of London. One was a plumber and one was a carpenter. Again, life being as it was in those days they probably knew each other, even if they only met on construction sites or in the pub.

And a little later on, they both had ancestors in the same village in Suffolk. Now these were very different people, one being rather posh and one rather humble, but they may still have had a connection. At the very least I'm sure they knew each other by sight.

No matter how you look at it, it's wyrd. (OK, is there anyone left who hasn't looked the meaning of that up yet?)

Well it makes you think.

Thinking is not popular of course. People seem to prefer to catch flies. I am not very patient with those who blunder through life, whose choice of leisure time is to watch mindless TV, who get their political perspective from Fox or other "tabloid" media, who make no effort to educate themselves, and I avoid that type of person. So I don't have anything else to say about them really, because they don't really feature in my life.

I prefer to spend my time being a matriarch, running businesses, and learning stuff in my spare time. And throwing kittens out of my mail box, apparently. And writing. It keeps me occupied.

Part of my business involves a thing called SEO, search engine optimization, or choosing the right words to get my stuff picked up by searches. In fairness, it is not simple because the goalposts keep moving. However, with a bit of attention to How Things Work, it's not that hard to do a reasonable job.

For example if you sell green knitted gloves, it's probably a good idea to have "green knitted gloves" as a tag. You can also try "green woollen gloves" "green knitted mittens" and so on. You can throw in "warm winter gloves" if you are so inclined.

Using the tag "woodland fiber arts" is probably not such a good choice. But these are the EXACT words I saw for this exact example, by a person seeking advice. I sat there and blinked for a few moments wondering whether to offer help or not, and I decided I would, but this $10 bill right here says she probably doesn't get it, even after my patient explanation. Here's why.

There are craftspeople and there are business people. Crafts come from the right side of the brain, business skills come from the left side of the brain.

The left side is orderly. Practical. Machine-like, even. It says "If this, then that".

The right side is all about creativity and feelings and experience. It says "Shiny!"

Neither is superior. They are supposed to work together to make you fully human. But if you are mostly right brained you probably aren't good at business stuff.

On the other hand, very left-brained people are about as creative as a lump of dryer lint.

Both people are thinking very hard, they just think in different ways.

There have been times when I've thrown it out to my friend to offer descriptions of the stuff I sell (it's not always easy) and the responses I get tell me that some of my friends are left-brained, and some are right-brained. They're all lovely, I just don't want the right-brained ones doing my SEO.

I was blessed with a brain set just slightly to the right of central, which enables me to be both creative AND rational. It probably limits both, but not in a problematic way.

The question is, can you teach good solid business skills to an artist, and can you unleash the creative potential of an accountant? Possibly, but I'm not going to do it, I don't have the patience.

Of course these abilities begin to show themselves very early. Some of the children who struggle to learn to read are extremely talented with arts and crafts. In our world literacy is necessary, so they have to be taught. When my children were small there were often parents volunteering to go in and help the slow readers. I never volunteered. I taught my own children to read, and knew exactly how to do it. Given the right child I'd have been a huge asset. But the children they wanted to give me were those who were not going to be easy to teach Even my own child - Sian - who showed signs of her father's dyslexia, defeated me. I left her to professionals with alternate skills and endless patience.

Is this why I get so frustrated with adults who can't remember basic spelling/grammar/punctuation? Oh gosh, everyone's heard my rants. Some people laugh at me (best way.) Some people thank me for the help (ner ner ner ner ner.) And some people get angry with me, because they think I place too much importance on it.

Can't help it. Not as bad as some. Intentions are good. Etc.

The other advantage of having both the right and left side of your brain lit up is that it's full. There's no room in there for "stray" thoughts. I don't suffer from that thing where you can't sleep because of too much brain activity, because the truth is, that "too much" is not anything really useful. It's repetition and rubbish. How do I know? Sufferers have told me.

So, I sleep well.

But anyway, let's get back to the grammatical stuff. To answer the question why it bothers me so much. I think it's because it's a new discovery.

People have faults, and some are really quite endearing. Others not so much. But they're not new. People have always had this range of faults. I'm 51 years old and I'm not new on the scene, so I've seen these faults for a long time, and I'm used to them. And....and this is very important.......I noticed them from the get-go. It's that awareness thing. Blessing or curse, I don't know, you choose, but I didn't have to reach a given age or stage in my life to see the man behind the curtain. I was born like this.

So, when I was 3 years old, I saw adults as they really were and not in some child idealized way. I saw all their faults, loved most of them anyway, and did my best to avoid the ones I had marked as dodgy. I walked the world with my eyes wide open from a very young age. Innocence? Well, I wasn't actually guilty. OK, maybe a bit.

And it wasn't because I had a harsh "gritty" childhood, I didn't have to "grow up quickly" as some need to do to survive. I was very lucky, I had good people around me. I just had no delusions about the others.

I hope this makes sense because it's awfully hard to explain. It's a specific type of knowingness. I see it in my eldest grandson too. You can't get anything past that one. He has his strengths and weaknesses as we all do, but you can't fool him. He watches. He listens. He told me on the phone the other day that he's concerned about a friend his brother has made at school because the boy is not a nice person. I guarantee he's right about that boy. I predict his brother will figure it out in due course. That friendship is doomed.

And Michael, my youngest. Very alert, very wise for his years. Comes home from school regularly complaining about how his peers walk around in a kind of stupor. And he wants to wake them up. But you can't.

Anyway, assuming you know what I mean, by the time you reach your half century of awareness, it's hard to be shocked. You can still be horrified, of course. You can still have your optimism tossed against the side of the ship. But surprised at humans? No. We are a nasty, nasty species and we're capable of anything. No matter how depraved or cruel it is, somebody, somewhere thinks it's a good idea.

And in small things, things that don't matter, I'm both saddened and at the same time not surprised, that people my own age can be incredibly shallow. That they can get upset about petty things, or conversely....excited by equally petty things. And when they argue over such things.......I'm busy over HERE.

So they get annoyed by me for the same reason, I assume. Oh Melanie, get a grip, haven't you got anything better to do, what does an apostrophe matter.

Meanwhile I am discovering. Experiencing surprise. Because I went most of those 51 years just assuming that stupid people wrote badly, and intelligent people wrote well.

Or, possibly what surprises me is how intelligent people are not noticing, not aware. Not seeing?

Whatever it is, it's a new discovery, and it's the internet.

4 or 5 years ago I honestly didn't know that educated, intelligent, wise people couldn't tell the difference between then and than. I hadn't experienced it. I didn't know that "I used to" could be written wrong by someone I considered my intellectual equal. It never occurred to me that my peers were writing "Loose" instead of "lose" all over the place. I hadn't actually SEEN these errors.  They took me by surprise, after decades of comfort.

I didn't know. What would I have done if I had?

I knew, obviously, that signwriters were out there making plurals with apostrophes. But that just gave me a rather jaundiced view of signwriters. But I was unaware that it was rampant throughout the normal population. By people who read good quality newspapers, daily.

It's all new, that's what it is. I'm still reeling from the shock. Had this happened 30 years ago I'd be over it by now.

(I now refer you to yesterday's blog, just in case.)


  1. "Chris's ancestry and Rhiannon's ancestry crossed paths THREE TIMES. Once would have been remarkable. Three times starts to look like a plan."

    Once is circumstance.
    Twice is coincidence.
    Three times is undeniably meddling.

  2. "The left side is orderly. Practical. Machine-like, even. It says "If this, then that"."

    I believe the technical term is "predicate calculus".

  3. This post was truly a torrent of consciousness. You have a lot to say and I confess I was smiling a little about the grammar thing at the end.

    I didn't know about Chris and Rhiannon; I think it's more than coincidence. But of course, I would say that, if you know me.