My Blogiversary post for 2021

It was 23 July 2012 when I published my first blog post on Sue’s Considered Trifles. I have not added any new material to that blog for some time, but it could be useful to writers wishing to know which phrases were in use in the second half of the 20th century.

Tomorrow will be 23 July 2021, so that marks 9 years of more-or-less regular blogging. Sue’s Trifles, which has become my main blog, is a bit younger having its first post on 25 March 2013. I chose the theme Pachyderm for reasons I explained here. It is perhaps a little twee. Should I change it?

At first my posts were written in response to daily prompts from WordPress, but these were discontinued. Since 2013 I have taken part in the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge every year and in 2016 I also completed the challenge on Sue’s words and pictures, which I began in March 2015. My first post is here.

My What’s new page lists all my writing adventures, if adventures is not too exciting a word for my exploits!

Nine years is a long time and my off-line interests have changed gradually as time has gone on. My favourite games are now Rummikub and Triominoes, with Scrabble and Upwords demoted to occasional use. Even before the pandemic I had stopped going to the craft group, the reading group and an embroidery group, which may all have been mentioned here on Sue’s Trifles.

I am far more involved with social media now than I ever imagined would be the case. When I began blogging, I was unaware that it was social media and that I’d make online friends among people in various countries, who also blog.

My first reviews of books I read appeared on Sue’s Considered Trifles as a page or pages. Gradually book reviews have become the major part of my blogging activities. If you had told my 10-year-old self that this would be the case, she would have been incredulous. Having to write a review of every book read and to queue up to show the review to the teacher before being allowed to choose another book, led me to choose the thickest book on the shelf in the classroom! (Writing and queuing stole valuable reading time.)

I try to include occasional craft posts and faith posts, or reflective posts such as this one for those readers, who perhaps followed Sue’s Trifles after reading posts in those categories. I am currently rereading the psalms, attempting to keep up with another blogger, who tweets every day. A few years ago I joined in with his #psalmtweets.

Lockdown has affected both Sue’s Trifles, where Paint Chip Poems have become a regular feature, and Sue’s words and pictures, where photo challenges have provided a source of inspiration rather than outings to places of interest. At the time of writing a few posts of local interest are in the pipeline and one has been published already.

As restrictions are lifted in the UK, I am spending more time outside the home – if only in the garden! In fact gardening is seasonal. I have returned to my voluntary job and am attending some church services, but not singing in the choir.

Although I carried out my garden survey this year at the end of March, I have not yet found time to compare the results with those for previous years.

My word for the year, Focus, has proved helpful as I seem to be able to work more efficiently than at some times in the past. There are always distractions like other people’s blogs to read, conversations to join in with on social media and podcasts and videos by blogging/writing friends.

My quiet times continue to include the Bible reading notes I mentioned here.

I also try to keep my contents and other lists up-to-date, although they seem to be of more use to me than to my valued readers.

What about the future of my blogs? Book reviews and paint chip poetry are likely to make up the majority of my posts on Sue’s Trifles. The photo challenge posts on Sue’s words and pictures are likely to continue on Wednesdays with posts on some Saturdays about places visited or events, such as a steam train passing along the local railway line.

Thank you for reading my 959th post on Sues Trifles!


A Game of Scrabble®

My childhood memories include playing Junior Scrabble®, first the easy side, where the words were given and had to be covered with letters, then the freestyle version on the reverse.  Next my parents invited me to join with them and sometimes Grandmother playing Scrabble®.

While I was not given any advantages due to my youth, they did help me learn some techniques to improve my score.  I wrote in an early post on this blog about my competitive streak.  I enjoy playing. As well as being fun, it helps keep my vocabulary active and (as I usually keep the score) gives me a reason to do simple arithmetic.

Now there are only two people left against whom I ever play.  One is Mum, who taught me the word QI, after playing with a neighbour.  However, she does not like the fact that I have learned most of the permitted two letter words!  The other is hubby, who is not good at spelling, but has his own methods of winning.  He is likely to block all the places the Q could be played, if he thinks I am trying to put it on the board!

Also we have adjusted the rules for our own enjoyment.  Each of us has a reference book to hand.  Instead of waiting to challenge a possible wrong word, we look before playing.  My favourite reference book includes the meanings.  If hubby puts down an incorrect word, I do not penalise him for it, but let him take his turn again.  “What’s that word?” is a regular question.   Sometimes it is a technical word I haven’t met (or remembered).  Other times it is a genuine spelling mistake.

Recently I managed to play all the seven letters in my rack twice in the same game.  I have to admit I played a word I did not previously know – MANDIRS.(I was checking whether MANDRIL was permitted (no) and spotted it.  I also checked that REECHOES does not require a hyphen.

(In a subsequent game, when I had cheated by using a word I had discovered in the book, I lost.  We considered that to be poetic justice!)

At the end of the game the scores were 481 and 236 giving 717 in total.  Of course this included 2×50 in bonus points.  I had two tiles left.  As far as I remember they were both the letter I.


A high-scoring game

It is interesting that every game of Scrabble® seems to be unique.  It does not seem to be possible to use every triple word score space in a game.

Do you play Scrabble®?  Have you any interesting observations to make about the game?


10 things to do in a power cut

In bad weather the power supply may not be reliable.

Be prepared for power cuts by having

  1. candles and the means of lighting them (do not leave them unattended)
  2. one or more torches
  3. a telephone plugged in to the telephone socket (not relying on electricity)
  4. warm clothes and blankets (use these before you feel cold)
  5. fully charged batteries for any devices you wish to use during a power cut
  6. a plan for keeping tropical fish warm (if you happen to have these – we don’t)

Possible activities during a power cut (in no particular order)

  1. craft projects (knitting, hand sewing, crochet, origami, etc.)
  2. dusting and sweeping
  3. reading
  4. board games, card games, jigsaw puzzles
  5. writing (in a notebook if you cannot use a computer)
  6. playing musical instruments
  7. conversation
  8. listening to a battery-powered radio
  9. playing charades and other family games
  10. making sure elderly neighbours are OK

One day between Christmas and New Year the stormy weather conditions damaged the power supply to our area and we were without mains electricity for over 17 hours.

I got up early (as I have begun to do recently) and used my lap-top with its fully-charged battery to draft three blog posts.  (I normally take the battery out and use my lap-top plugged into the mains.)  Of course, we had no internet access, but I set my lap-top to flight mode to prevent it wasting its efforts hunting for a network!

We are fortunate in having mains gas and a hob.  We are able to use this to cook (and boil water) even when the electricity is off.  However the gas central-heating does not work without electricity to run the control system and the pump.

The temperature outside was higher than expected for the time of year, but the ambient temperature indoors was falling throughout the outage.  It is important to keep warm.  I dressed in extra layers.  When I began to feel cold sitting at my lap-top, I thought of one of the items on my to-do list which involved some physical activity.

I have begun to catalogue our books.  I am doing this using Excel (which I don’t really understand).  I carry a pile of books to from a shelf to the table, enter the details I wish to record, return the books to the shelf and take another pile…

At a fund-raising coffee morning before Christmas I won a raffle prize – a set of three jigsaw puzzles.  Over the Christmas holiday period I did these for relaxation and as a change from craft projects.  During the daylight hours, I was able to continue with putting pieces in one of these puzzles.

We kept up-to-date (by telephone) with the progress of restoring power and decided to cook our main meal mid-afternoon in order to do this by daylight.  We had eaten lunch at midday, but were hungry enough to enjoy a cooked meal earlier than usual.

It was too dark to read music by the time I decided I’d like to play the piano.  I cannot play from memory or by ear, so I found my treble (alto) recorder and played some Christmas carols from memory.

I played patience with real playing cards (designed for games of patience) by candlelight after a game of Rummikub with hubby had proved too much like hard work.  The light was not good enough to distinguish the colour of the tiles easily.

The day was something of a challenge, but I was pleased with what I managed to achieve.  We often take modern comforts for granted.

Last time we knew the electricity would be turned off for essential maintenance work, we planned a day out in the countryside, which we enjoyed.  This time the weather was unsuitable for leaving the house unnecessarily.