Monthly Archives: August 2017

A DIGITAL NIGHTMARE – upgrading from Mac’s Mountain Lion OS to Sierra!


I’ve purposely turned this picture round cos the nature of this post is total confusion and I’m afraid a long meander – but maybe you will like it enough to read to the end!dr-seuss_be-who-you-areSee, the last post I wrote, about the landslip in Ystalyfera, well it nearly didn’t get published. Not only because I’d been loath to talk about it, and having lost my home of over 35 years, but because, once I’d finally decided to write it, I couldn’t find a way to Preview the blog OR Publish it!

If you look at the history my blog you will see that I’ve published posts on it since August 2012, and I even did the WordPress course on how to blog a couple of years ago, so I thought I knew my way around it pretty well.

I usually write my posts in draft form on the WordPress site, and they go thro’ many revisions, and often use the Preview button to check how its looking as well as reading it thro’ on line to see if it makes sense, which I find harder to do in the raw draft.

So that’s what I did – wrote the headline, decided to start with the photograph of the landslip – imported the photograph – decided to put a long introduction into the caption, messed around with how to do that – and then preview that part to see how it looked.

But OH – WHERE WAS THE PREVIEW BUTTON?  Granted I’ve had about 18 months off from blogging (see “Hallo Again”) and WordPress have changed some of their familiar formats – but surely they wouldn’t have left off a Preview facility? And ……… how do I publish it? There was a new column of stuff on the right hand side and I still couldn’t see how to Publish the Post when I was ready?

I have had my fallings out with blogging and the way WordPress keep changing things (message to matt mullenweg: Part 2), but I really didn’t think they’d mess up the system that much! Maybe, because they expect most people to write short blogs on their phones, they’d simplified things even more ‘when I was away’?

Well I’d get the post written and then deal with it! I had, after all, already written 2 posts in the last few weeks, and had been able to Preview & Publish easily enough.

It was a difficult piece to write, talking about the turmoil of my life, I usually consider this blog a showcase for the “business” part of me, and don’t write a lot of personal stuff in it – but I think that’s gonna change – Oh! I’ve already changed it haven’t I? And this is another ‘personal’ piece – in which I will attempt to make you laugh as well as cry!


This is nothing to do with the text, just thought you might like to see the pair of bantams I told you about in the “call duck” post. The hen has gone broody, and so she’s sitting on 6 tiny eggs, in a cardboard shoebox! The cockerel was annoyed with me for coming into the shed with a camera, so he hopped up to protect her! They are both very small – I think possibly a cross of barbu d’uccle and sablefoot bantams.

So I left out a lot of the ups and downs of the last few months, and cut the story down to the bare minimum – after all, readers supposedly don’t have the patience to read thro’ a long piece, especially if they’re reading it on their phones – smile. Well this one is shaping up to be a long piece, and I haven’t even started on the story yet!

So I got to the end of that blog, and then I really did have a problem – it was saved in Draft, but I really couldn’t find a way to publish it!  Was that a sign that I shouldn’t put it “out there on the internet?” No, I’d decided to share it and share it I would.

So, I went looking for help. Navigated with difficulty the awkward support system in WordPress, to find someone to help me. Along the way I was directed to the “How to Write a Blog Page”, and noticed that yes, the page I had been working on normally had Preview and Publish buttons – but mine didn’t – Really it Didn’t!

Sometimes the “Happiness Engineers”, a term which always makes me laugh, get in contact with you immediately – there even used to be a box at the bottom of the page where you could ask for help, and someone would answer, and solve your problem.

But this time, the best I could do was start a new query, and ask for some advice from anyone who felt like giving it. So within a day, I had about 5 different people, from all over the world, trying to help me – and thank you very much to all of them – who were as stumped as I was.

We finally arrived at a solution to the problem. No it wasn’t WordPress’s fault – it was mine!  Well, my fault for wanting to stay in my comfort zone and use the systems and tools I was familiar with and had worked well for years.

But the digital world doesn’t stay still, and anyway, there have been security reasons to keep changing formats, and while I was still happy keeping my old operating system – mac’s MOUNTAIN LION – such a nice name – smile, the world had moved on.

I do get regular update options from Apple, but I choose which ones to download, because a lot of them are for things I don’t use anyway, and take up a lot of space on the computer for no good reason. eg: iTunes is always updating to convince you to spend money with them, and now there is even something called Apple Pay, to pay them with!

Thank you, but I’m happy enuf with stuff I’ve uploaded myself from my own collection, and stuff I found on the old systems that used to share music for free. For instance, I have an amazing collection of klezmer music, and old yiddish folk songs I found about 10 years ago on, I think it was, Limewire.

Sir_Tim_Berners-Lee_(cropped)(Oh for those days when the internet operated as naively as Tim Berners-Lee -see pic – intended it to! No one paid much attention to security. There was an excellent series on Radio 4 lat week, discussing how the internet started – before trolling and mobile phones turned it into something else. I’ve just looked it up so if you want to listen to it on iplayer in the next few weeks it’s called Aleks in Wonderland: The Story of the Internet)

Anyway, whilst uploading any security patched that were necessary, I had refused for years to upgrade my operating system, even tho Apple kept encouraging me to do so, with free upgrades, the latest being for Sierra – which seemed to me to be more interested in encouraging apple users to keep using apple products – and developing systems for moving data between their mac computer, i-pad, i-phone etc, and I’m one of those dinosaurs that doesn’t have a mobile phone.

What! How can I get along without one?  Well I do suffer sometimes for being so stubborn. I can’t phone someone to say I’ve got lost and I how do I get to their difficult to find farm, cos the directions they gave me left out something critical – and no I don’t have Sat Nav either. I just don’t like the way people are slaves to the new technology, and feel that the only way to walk down the pavement is to have a phone to their ear, and ignore everything around them.

And if you want to get hold of me you might just have to leave a message on my landline and I’ll get back to you when I’m home! Yes, I assume you’ve guessed by now – I’m now a pensioner! (And yes, the photo I use on this site, is well – out of date, but it’s the best one I have – smile)

So, anyway …….. The consensus of all those nice people I was talking to, and one of the Happiness Engineers, who couldn’t believe that I couldn’t see the Preview and Publish buttons that were Definately THERE, was that my operating system was no longer compatible with WordPress, and in fact, I have to confess, I was beginning to realise that myself. In the last few weeks, rather a lot of web pages I was using for my research into some new projects I have in mind wouldn’t open, I just got a blank grey page with a message from Safari saying that I didn’t have enuf security to open them – or something or other!

I had even tried moving to another browser – but none of them would let me download them, my system was no longer compatible! And yet I’d used one of them a few years ago quite happily – but I’d deleted it cos it took up took much space, and it was confusing me having two browsers – so I couldn’t even upgrade from the old version. I was going to have to change my ways!

47429422-cartoon-boy-flying-planeBut in the meantime, I did find a way round the problem, and published the post. It turned out that if I went to the list of my blogs, the draft version had some buttons below the title that I could click – and achieve “lift off”!

So, a few days ago, I decided I’d have to take the plunge, and upgrade. This was the right time to do it, cos I haven’t yet got around to listing all my stock, and whilst the customer flow is slow, if I had any problems, at least it wouldn’t impact my sales, and mess around with orders etc.

At first I thought I would do it slowly, there have been at least two or three versions before Sierra – but I couldn’t find out which versions were easily downloadable, and I would probably lose some of my data which ever one I chose.

So, OK, altho I think those adverts Apple have put out – talking to Siri – are really awful, and I don’t want to talk to a virtual robot, I might as well go the whole way, and make sure I’m up to date. I’ll even back up my system first and do it right.

No, of course it didn’t actually work like that. I started to try and use the “Time Machine” facility to back up the 6 years of information I have on this MacBook, with a 4G memory stick. I very quickly found out that I now had over 31G of data to back up, so I’d need to buy an external hard drive to do it! Once more, the system wouldn’t work for me, cos it wouldn’t accept a series of memory sticks, even if I did have enough of them!

So I just went ahead and did it! Looked up the instructions on Apple’s site and just clicked to upgrade. Hmm – I now live in the Welsh countryside, and my broadband is not the fastest. I think I clicked the button at about 8 pm, and the download wasn’t complete until 11 pm! I then had to open it and transfer it to my system – I fell asleep in the middle of the 2 hour process, and then wondered if I’d missed any important messages, and it had all gone wrong!

And when I dared to open it and look around and see what I’d got, everything seemed to be very slow. And I couldn’t quite work out what the difference was anyway. What I now had didn’t seem any better than Mountain Lion,


Then I found that none of my email accounts worked!

And the Calendar that held 6 years of useful information, had vanished, and all I had was a new one, that I couldn’t even find out how to enter any new info on – until I realised I had to set up a new named version first!

At 7.30 next morning, as soon as their helpline opened, I was straight onto my broadband provider to solve the problem of the 3 missing email accounts! I’d already been having problems, because I’d had one for the Ystalyfera house, and one for the cottage, and had kept them both going for a while, so that I could access any customers, and friends, wherever I was. Hmm – yes, I hear you saying, a mobile phone account might have been the better option – smile.

Anyway, I had closed the Ystalyfera account only 2 weeks ago, and they had promised to transfer the email address into my other contract – BUT THEY HADN”T DONE IT!

So apologies, anyone who was trying to get hold of me, and got a “this email address does not exist” reply – I haven’t gone out of business – I was pestering the broadband provider (who I will not name, but if you have my email address, you will know who it is) to reinstate it.

But oddly, altho the technical guys reinstated it, several times, the process of closing the account seemed to have a robot attitude, and shut it down again! I kept getting new emails from them telling me so!

And then I started getting worried emails, saying that I did not seem to have a payment plan for this email address, and could I please arrange a direct debit by clicking their link. I even got a message today, saying that the broadband speed on this account was very slow!

In the meantime, I was sending additional info to the case number concerned, and doing endless tests, proving the email address was defunct – altho once in a while I could send from it but not receive or reply to the test emails, and they were taking 24 hours to come back to me and say it seemed to be working fine when they tested it.

23756438-pannic-attack--the-words-in-white-color-on-cloud-of-red-words-on-orange-backgroundAnd, in the middle of the night, I realised that this was the email address that my Apple ID used, and that they may have been sending me emails about the new operating system (they hadn’t actually), and I wouldn’t get them!

Panic, panic – I went to change my email on the ID, and the page wouldn’t display – I was getting the same grey page on Safari, I’d been getting before I’d upgraded!

So I had to book a call from them, for the next day, but there wasn’t one available until lunchtime.

I would have been OK if when I phoned at 7.30 am, having had only an hour or two of sleep all night, the guy who I spoke to was able to achieve the simple task of putting the email accounts back effectively.

Well, he did, I followed his instructions and altho’ he tried to fob me off, and just send me instructions, I insisted he stay on the line while I went thro’ it with all three email accounts. Just as well I did, cos altho we apparently filled in the right information, of course, various things went wrong, the new operating system would not accept them, and even when it did, and the emails only worked for a bit, I had to delete the old set ups twice, and set up new accounts to get that far – only to go back to check the info, and find that some of it had disappeared and the system was blocking me from adding them back!

When I got off the phone to him an hour later, we both thought that everything was fine, and that I even had the old email address back! Nope – I didn’t!

In the meantime, while waiting for Apple to phone me, I fed the chicks that hatched a week ago, and went out and did somethings I really needed to do.


thought you might like so see my buff sussex chicks!

Apple phoned when they said they would – great – not sure where they were phoning from, but it sounded like the USA.  First I had to set up a screen share to allow them to see my computer and tell me what to do. Apparently that didn’t work properly, and she couldn’t read my screen – and it took up a lot of my broadband, so it made everything extra slow. I still wanted to change the email address attached to the Apple ID, because I couldn’t be sure I’d get it back.

One of the three emails was working, so I thought it would be easy enough to use that one, but luckily, she checked for me, and it turned out, I’d used it 10 years ago to set up an early identity – and forgotten about it, and if I used it now, I would delete all my transactions and information for those 10 years! ie: any apps or software I’d paid for wouldn’t work!

We went thro the thought process of setting up a new email address, but I’d have had to go back to my email account and set it up and it wouldn’t be available immediately. I did have another one, but it wasn’t working – however she suggested that if I could get into the webmail on my account, I’d be able to access the confirmation email with the code to allow the change of ID. Phew!

That did work, but it had taken nearly an hour to do it! The site timed out before I could enter the code and we had to go thro it all again! She was very reassuring – telling me that it was a huge jump to go from Mountain Lion to Sierra in one go, and that my computer needed some time to sort it all out! Which was why it was running so slowly, and we both spent at lot of time looking at a little circle going round and round hoping it would work. Sometimes it didn’t.

I also asked her to look at the email accounts and see if she could find out why they weren’t working, but made the fatal mistake in asking her to ring me back later, as I’d had enuf of holding on to the phone, and trying to follow her instructions on the screen by then. She said she would – and I said – leave it a bit and get back to me in your own time.

Well, what happened was that I got another email from Apple, giving me an appointment with the phone for 3pm. So I messed around until then, and yes the phone did ring, but it was a man from Portugal – I asked – who knew nothing about what the problem was, and still thought I needed help with changing my ID – and I had to stop him from messing up all the hard work we’d just done!

He eventually put me thro to someone that was in Spain, or maybe it was S. America!, who, after some long time messing around with the settings for the email accounts, got me, on a shared screen again, to look up the instructions on the website of the email provider, and found they had given me the wrong instructions as to what code to put in one of the boxes!!!!

He helped me change them, and lo and behold – cross fingers – all email addresses seem to be working! Until the next time something goes wrong …….

I even found out, by a happy accident, that without my knowing I’d done it, my old calendar was on i-cloud, and I managed to reinstate it – WOW – Victory!

So I think, if you’ve stayed with me this long and got to the end of this long meander – you will agree with me that the last few days have been


I’ve yet to explore my new system properly – just hope I don’t find any more glitches.

I might even get round to putting up some listings on ebay & etsy for you!

DSCF2089Oh, and here’s another picture of my Call Ducks for you – makes me smile – hope it does the same for you!

All the best

julz signature

Ystalyfera Landslip: What I didn’t tell you before!


What I didn’t tell you in my post ‘HALLO AGAIN” – because I was trying to get back to normal!

Or – part of the reason I didn’t keep up with this blog or go back to selling earlier.

All I have managed so far are a few listings on Etsy – but more are coming soon!

my landslip photo - March 2017

I took this photo in March of this year, because it shows the landslip at the back of my house – see the dark area running down the whole hillside – half of my garden went down there! All the hillside used to be covered with mature trees, the ubiquitous Japanese Knotweed and there were no streams – just a culvert at the bottom of the hill, for the old Swansea Valley Canal which was used to bring iron ore for the huge Ironworks that used to dominate this coal rich valley. The terrace of houses you see above were built for the factory workers, and miners. Steam floated up from the Foundry and the noise echoes throughout the valley, several families lived in each house and there were lots of pubs along the terrace!

I was evacuated from the house I have lived in since 1981, with a couple of hour’s notice on 27 February, after the factory down below reported to the Council that water was running through their car park.  It turned out that the culvert was blocked by all the soil that had come down the hill, and until Council Officers knocked on my door and told me I had to leave the house – I had no idea what had happened!  Several other houses in the terrace were also affected, but not all of them.

It had been raining heavily for several days, and I hadn’t bothered to go out into the garden, nor seen anything unusual, as the houses are built ‘down’ into the hillside.  We look like two story houses from the road, but there is a third level below, which has been my cellar, and entrance to the 3 level garden.

So I packed up a few things and had a horrendous and frighting 90 minute drive thro’ a thunderstorm at night along the M4 to the cottage I was planning to move into AFTER the alterations had been made – so it was pretty basic, but at least I had somewhere to go.

I kept in touch with the council and neighbours during the next weeks, but it was frustrating because I didn’t know exactly what was going on, and I wasn’t near enough to pop back regularly. (And long drives kill my osteoarthritic knees!)


the garden wall had fallen onto my steps

On my next visit to Ystalyfera the damage was obvious.  The boundary wall had fallen onto my garden steps, and it wasn’t possible to walk down the rest of the garden.

A stream had appeared on the 2nd level of my garden, below a stone built retaining wall, and water had gushed from underneath the house and carved a 4 foot ‘channel’ into the once pretty area, taking with it various trees, and even a heap of stones I planned to build a feature with!

It was also evident that the sewage system had broken in the garden next door, which also had a new small stream running through it, and it turned out that the whole terrace no longer had a working sewage system – so how could we live there without being able to flush the toilets!

So I went back to the cottage, and tried to find a builder to do the work I needed there. I realise now that I was in a state of delayed shock, and nothing I did in those weeks made any sense.

My neighbour phoned in her own state of shock, on the 4th April to tell me that there had been the sound of an explosion coming from my garden that morning, and it turned out that a huge volume of water had gushed out of the hole underneath the retaining wall, and more of my garden had gone down the hill!  So back I went to Ystalyfera to have a look and it was truly frightening, and even the Council Officers wouldn’t go down to have a look at the source of the stream, on Health & Safety grounds!


the source of the stream

The Council came up with various schemes, as most of the people didn’t want to have to move out, but none of them seemed viable, and we had a meeting to discuss how they were going to find out what actually happened and why.  Despite an article in the local newspaper, hardly anyone was aware that the landslip had happened.

I am writing about this now, because in the six months since the first landslip, various things have happened and after getting various expert opinions, the council decided on the August 8th, to evacuate the whole of the terrace, and the rest of my old neighbours are having to face the loss of their home too, and I feel very sorry for the distress it has caused them, having to move into temporary B&B’s, or stay with friends and relatives.

It has been all over the local tv news this last week, and I went back to see how people were, and to collect some more stock to start listing on ebay & etsy, but I have been caught up in the whole landslip issue again these last few weeks and found it hard to concentrate on selling!

In the light of the news this week, with landslips in Switzerland and India & China as well as elsewhere, and hurricane Harvey in Texas, which have killed many people this is a much smaller event, so don’t feel sorry for me – I am lucky that I already had picked out a new home in West Wales, but its stressful nevertheless, and I had an urge this morning to get it off my chest.

If you want to know more about the situation in Ystalyfera, this is a piece from the BBC website.

And this is one from the ITV website discussing the possibility of another 150 houses having to be evacuated.

PS: 7 November 2017 this post has been linked to :

Do you like my new Call Ducks?




As I mentioned in Hallo Again! I have a big garden here in rural West Wales, and one of the plans I’ve had for my new home is to keep poultry again, and I have made a start!

Just thought I’d show you my new call ducks – both drakes and for some reason I’ve named them George & Edward, although at the moment I can’t tell them apart.

They’ve only just been let outside in the last couple of days and its a joy to watch them wander around, getting excited about eating some of the grass for me, and even better, have been searching the ‘patio area’ for nice juicy slugs – and devouring them!


Here’s proof – I caught this photo just as George (or Edward) had one in his beak – it disappeared down his throat just moments afterwards!

Call ducks are small, about the size of a mallard, and easy to keep in the back garden – they are usually kept as pets, and you can pick them up quite easily.

I bought them an old baby bath so they could go for a swim – I will hopefully have a pond soon – but oddly, it seems that they haven’t quite worked out what the bath is for yet – even tho’ I tossed some bits of bread in it.  I’m really looking forward to seeing them swim!


I’ve just remembered I wrote a more informative piece about call ducks for an A-Z blogging challenge I did in 2015 – If you’re interested please click HERE!

I also got a pair of very pretty bantams at the same time, but haven’t yet managed to get a decent photo of them.  Will have to give them a blog of their own when I do.


                   I’ll let you know what and where to find

          the listings when I put them up!



Branch Weaving – on a Stick!


There are various ways of weaving with sticks, and you can get as creative as you like! This is just one of them, and if you have a look at Pinterest you can find all kinds weaving ideas.

Río Petrohue 1.40 x 1.30.jpg

Now that I’ve got started blogging again, I thought I’d share with you a post I found on Interweave the other day, just cos it looks fun, and something that you might like to try with the kids during the summer holiday.

PS:  see also later post about another way to use Branch Weaving.

And thanks to everyone who has been reading my blog or referencing my Information Sheets over the last couple of years – its amazing how the stats have climbed even tho I wasn’t looking!

How to Weave on a Stick with Branch Weaving

See here for the original article by Jenna Fear.

Even the most inexperienced weaver (me) can learn branch weaving! The resources to do so are inexpensive and found almost anywhere. All you need to dive into branch weaving is a Y-shaped stick, yarn, and possibly a fork or darning needle. The fork and needle aren’t necessary but could make the process a bit easier.

All I needed to create my woven branch: several balls of yarn, a branch, a fork, and scissors.

I found out about branch weaving when looking at weaving projects on Pinterest. Then I looked around the web to see how to make my own. These are the steps I followed:

1. Find your branch!
Take a nice little hike through a woody area or even just your own back yard. Maybe ask your dog to help. Find a Y-shaped branch with a fork wide enough to fit some weaving between. I would recommend one that is 1 to 2 feet in length.

2. Gather your yarn.
I would suggest using a few different colors, but you can use any kind of yarn. I just pulled a few yarn balls from my stash that I hadn’t earmarked for any projects.

3. Warp your branch.
This was the hardest part for me to get right. First, tie your yarn onto the bottom leg of the Y. Next, wrap the yarn once around that leg, then carry the yarn across the open space to the top leg. Wrap the top leg twice, then carry yarn back to the bottom leg, where you’ll wrap once again. Keep going like this: always wrap once around the bottom leg and twice around the top leg. Leave spaces between each strand of yarn so you’ve got space to weave in weft. You will have a 2-sided warp, and you can choose to weave on one side or both.

I warped my final project with gray yarn that was hard to see against the stick, so here is a warp I did with lighter yarn.

4. Begin weaving!
Pick the yarn color you’d like for your first row and tie it onto the yarn strand at the open end of the warp. Weave your yarn through the warp in an over-under-over-under pattern until you’re happy with the look. To finish with that color, weave to the end of the warp and then cut it, leaving a 2″ tail. Secure the tail to an end strand of the warp with a knot—you’ll weave that tail into the piece at the end. For now, the knot will keep your weaving from unweaving. Use to fork to press the yarn together after it’s woven to avoid any open spaces.

This is the simple over-under pattern I used to weave onto the branch.

Repeat this process as you switch yarn colors. For more intricate designs, switch up the weaving pattern. I was happy with my simple rows of color and not yet experienced enough in weaving to get too fancy.

5. Weave in the tails
Weave in the tails between rows of yarn just as you wove the rest of the yarn in an over-under pattern. Make sure the end of the yarn goes over the warp so the very end of the tail is only visible from the back.

When you’re finished with your branch weaving, hang it on the wall or put it on a table for colorful décor. It’s sure to be a conversation starter! Plus, it’s a fun project for anyone interested in nature and creating with their hands! Try it with kids to get them into weaving.


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