Posted on February 12, 2013 in Life, the Universe and Everything, The Home Front by Jay21 Comments »

The big news in our family is the twins.

Twins? What twins, I hear you say?

Well, see, that’s the big news! Son No. 2′s partner, the very sweet B, is pregnant – and not content with producing one granchild, is expecting two at once!

This is big news indeed, because B, at one time, feared that she would never managed to maintain a pregnancy due to medical issues. I am just so pleased for them both, and they, of course, are over the moon – also a bit shell-shocked and concerned about how they’re going to manage financially.

I have no helpful advice for them, since I had only one baby at a time. That is difficult enough, let me tell you (just in case you have none of your own). I can’t truly know how different it will be with twins, however much reading I do on the subject.

Anyhow. For the moment, all is well. And since OH and I were invited to go with her for a scan, we now know that the babies are growing normally. At one point, one twin was nearly a week ahead of the other in terms of growth – which from all accounts is pretty normal for twins – but the latest scan shows that she has caught up.

It was a wonderful experience watching the scan. I never had a single one during my pregnancies because in those days they only did them if there was thought to be a problem, so the experience was completely novel, and it was very exciting to see those two little people moving about on the screen. B has given me permission to reproduce a print-out of the scan here, and what you can see is twin one’s head on the left and a slice through the belly of twin two. Well. That’s what they tell me, anyway. You could have told me it was the other way round and I wouldn’t have known any different!

B is about halfway through the pregnancy (since it’s twins and they’re expected to arrive early) so she now feels secure enough for me tell people. She looks great! And the amazing thing is this: before she knew she was expecting, she and Son No. 2 were on the Weight Watcher’s plan and losing really quite impressive amounts of food in a healthy way. And B has managed to maintain her weight while being pregnant, which in real terms means that she has put on only the minimum amount! I’ve never heard of anyone being able to do that before, not and keep the doctors happy, which in this case, they are. And she quit smoking as soon as she knew she was pregnant, so two thumbs up to her. I am just so impressed.

So, yeah. I know this isn’t earth-shattering news for the world at large (women do this all the time, right?), but this is our family, and the twins will be our first grandchildren. And we, along with Son No. 2 and B, are over the moon!

Posted on February 10, 2013 in Oddities, The Home Front by Jay22 Comments »


Last week’s Macro Monday puzzle was so darned easy, ALL of you got it right, so this week I think I’ll do something just a little bit harder.


Well… to be fair, I don’t actually think this one is that difficult, either, but I suppose we shall see!

Take a long look at that thing up there. It’s a close-up photograph of something which should be familiar to most of you. Some will use one more often than others, some will never use one. Others will use one in their work, or for fun, and occasionally through necessity.

They come in many different forms, but this is kind of traditional. It’s almost the same as the one I remember my mother having when I was very young, only made from more modern materials. Mum still had hers when she died, because they don’t actually wear out very easily – in fact, it’s entirely possible to find perfectly usable antique versions! Although … Hmm. Some may possibly argue with this statement, on the grounds that – but ssshhh! I don’t want to give too much away!

So, enough clues. Off you go and cudgel those brains – or alternatively, take the answer that you’ve already formulated by now and pop it into the comments and I’ll be back. Tomorrow evening – that’s Tuesday – at about 10pm, UK time.

Have fun!

And don’t forget that you can visit Lisa’s Chaos for more macro photography.

Well, you’ve pretty much done it again! Most of you got this right, although I’m pretty sure that some of you would not have done so if you hadn’t been prompted by the other guesses. So I’m just going to mention Don’t Bug Me as the winner today, since she was the first to enter a comment. And Ron, Those Brindle Kids, Houndstooth, Molly, Shooting Parrots, and Kateri, all of whom seem to have arrived at the answer independently.

And I must give an honourable mention to Sharon for the Most Creative Guess of the Week.

Well played to all of you – especially those who got it right! See you again next week. Oh yeah … and go here, if you still don’t know what it is!

Posted on February 10, 2013 in Funny, Hounds, The Home Front by Jay8 Comments »


Yep, I think we have a nester!

In the past, we’ve had dogs who scrap up their beds from time to time to get comfy, but Jeffie takes it to the extreme. He likes make darned sure there is enough padding for his old bones.


And he’ll turn around, not the traditional three times, but as many as fourteen or fifteen times before he’ll lay down, thus rucking his beds up even further.


Sometimes he’ll collect other beds for his bed pile. In this next picture, he has scraped together two beds plus the top part of the one Sid is lying on, leaving his companion to make do with the base -


And he looooves the comfort of a pillow for his bony old head. A whole dog bed will do for that, since his humans have not been considerate enough to provide him with a real pillow for his own use.


But don’t worry too much about Sid. He actually likes to lie on the carpet quite a lot of the time and because he’s a tripod, he feels unsafe if a bed is too squishy – hence the sleeping bag and duvet ‘dog beds’ you can see in these pictures.

And there are times he simply gets there first, leaving Jeffie to make do with the edge!


Yes, yes. I know Jeffie could simply move around and creep in the other side and have quite enough space, thank-you-very-much, but Jeffie can be a tad challenged in the common sense department at times!

Never mind. We love him just as he is … which is just as well, really, on those occasions when he throws up on the carpet.

Posted on February 9, 2013 in Funny, Oddities by Jay14 Comments »


‘Oh dear … ‘ I thought, when I read the prompt word. ‘Storm? What am I supposed to do for ‘storm’ – unless, of course I want to paint landscape?’

But of course, that’s the UN-creative, knee-jerk reaction of someone who expects to fail.

So I thought again.

See, me being me (as I’m sure you all know, I am), I didn’t want to paint, draw, or otherwise create a run-of-the-mill scene of a boat being tossed on the waves, or people scurrying along with umbrellas being blown inside out, and I don’t do whimsy*. Besides which, one of the reasons I’m doing Illustration Friday is to stretch my imagination.

As it is, I’m not sure I’m really done anything terribly original. I mean, who hasn’t heard the phrase ‘storm in a tea-cup’? But I had a lot of fun doing it, and I’m fairly pleased with the result.

This is a digital collage made in Photoshop Elements. I began with a photograph of a cup and saucer with a nice storm-grey backdrop, which I picked up from my old standby MorgueFile. I ironed out a few wrinkles in the background, sharpened and brightened the image a tad, and sat and looked at it, wondering what I had in my photo files which might fit.

I found what I was looking for among our holiday photos from Niagara, circa 2006. We were unlucky in the weather because despite only being early October, it snowed and blew a gale while we were there, but that did provide some beautifully stormy water. So I cut out a piece of turbulent river and included a bit of the falls, then cut another from a different part and reversed it. Joining them together made the stormy-looking ‘whirlpool’ in the cup.

Then I needed some interest for the rest of the picture, which I found in a folder of a road trip from a couple of years ago when it absolutely bucketed down so hard that everyone’s speed dropped to about 30 mph, because visibility was so bad. I took a ton of pictures, and the ones from the side window were ideal for this. I’ve used a series of overlays of rain, which allow the shape and detail of the cup to show through nice and crisply, while the surface drops are still visible.

After that it was just neatening, balancing colour and contrast etc, and cloning a few bits and pieces to make everything fit together seamlessly.

What do you think? I rather like it, but you know what they say; I might have been working on it so long that I can’t see the wood for the trees!

* Well. Hardly ever, anyway!