Thursday, 24 December 2009

It may actually be getting better...

My life, that is, as opposed to my writing. That got worse.

Wow. Where did all of that time go? It's very nearly Christmas. Just in case you hadn't noticed. Although chances are that you won't notice this blog post before Christmas.

Well, this year has been an interesting preparation for the big event. I have made pretty much no handmade gifts for people (although I do have one in the pipeline), including truffles. I did make some fudge, but that is just being shared out between people, as opposed to being handed out to specific people as presents. Actually, my gift list seemed much reduced this year, which has been a relief. I am still not quite up to coping with organising my life so that I get things done (possibly due to the excessive number of activities I still have crammed in, and how precious free time has consequently become), and so this whole "being gentle with myself" thing, such as it is, has been necessary.

Having said that, life is generally good. The house and housemates are good, the organ music I have been playing over Christmas has generally been to an acceptable standard (with one good bit), I am spending time with interesting people, and they keep heating the Motherchurch, so when I do practice I can move my fingers. Quite a novelty!

Right now, I have just finished work for the year. I spent all of today relaxing and getting stuff done slowly. It started off with a lie-in, then lunch with immediate family and an uncle or cousin. We then went shopping and I bought the last two strictly necessary presents (although I daresay there are a few non-necessary ones I should really pick up tomorrow, and there is still that one I'm due to make). I then came home and cooked cottage pie for dinner, then we ate it. It was fine, although I have made better ones. Then I made a few phone calls and felted some more colour samples for my chart (which shows me which colours I have, and what they look like). At some point, wine and fudge were provided. Then tea was provided. Then I talked to all three of my siblings and both of my parents. It was a good day. Apparently it has left me motivated to compose a blog post - oh, the joy of relaxation! I think that I shall read a book when I get into bed.

Oh, and I am making a chocolate bell for someone for Christmas. I couldn't find a suitable mould, so I bought a polystyrene bell and covered it with clay. I have just cut the clay off again, and it seems to be holding its shape and will eventually dry out. Possibly even this decade.

Speaking of which, there's a new decade just around the corner. That makes me feel slightly excited - I am hoping for a whole new start next year (and have some plans to make that happen). It could be a very exciting decade indeed. If that happens, I may even post some interesting blog entries. Can't really say more at the moment (which is a big fat lie - I could tell you so much! But I really oughtn't to, and am pretending to have some self-control), so I shall keep you in suspense. (Ha! I am pretending someone is going to read this! See - I can be funny.)

In the meantime, I should get down to the serious job of enjoying myself and being a useful person to have around the house. Almost like a responsible adult. And also the slightly more painful job of constructing a Thing mostly by the wet felting method. There will be bits attached by sewing, and ripstop nylon in the middle, and closures, but wet felting will be the important bit. It will be unique.* I may even put up a photo when it is done.

Happy Christmas! I wish you health and happiness. Especially happiness. That's very important.

*And it may also be good.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Life without ingesting antihistamines...

... is somewhat itchy. Even my face has been getting in on the act, which is unusual. I predict that this experiment will end before the weekend is over. My new, magic, anti-histamine cream needs to be applied directly to the source of the itching, and I am not entirely convinced that the tube will last all that long (nor spread as far as is necessary)!

Had a bit of a rough drive to work this morning. My drive involves a steep hill, and I held the car on the clutch for most of this hill, which involved quite a bit of queueing. There was a bit of a funny smell - kind of the same smell as appears when brakes are sticking and about to die in an expensive, and potentially life-threatening, way.* I don't think it's the brakes; clutch sounds more likely. I do hope I haven't killed it.

Anyway, I hope that the car will get me home (to my parents' house - 1 1/2 hours drive away) this evening without any problems. If it does, I think that we can call it a blip, and I can avoid showing off my (actually quite impressive) clutch control skills while queueing on a hill in future. The handbrake's there for a reason! It's booked in for a service and four new tyres on Monday (Argh! Expensive!), so, assuming it makes it that far, I shall get it checked out then. If it does not make it that far, I am in for an unfortunate evening. Last week I was late because the cat was sick;** it would be great to arrive early today...

Tomorrow, of course, marks the day of cleaning very dirty bits of organ. I do hope there is not too much wire wool involved - it's like a tiny little cactus, and leaves tiny little spines behind in my fingers, sometimes. Very irritating. They are not easy to locate, nor to extract.

*As they did on my Peugeot 205 a few years ago, when the brakes failed at some traffic lights. Turns out that the problem was not an entirely harmless stone in the mechanism (although, in retrospect, a stone doesn't sound all that great), and was instead that the callipers on the brake had seized up. Good job the handbrake worked!

**I spent last week cat-sitting, which was fun apart from the clearing up of the cat sick. I maintain that I do not want a cat of my own.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Life continues

I think that perhaps I don't really have the hang of this blogging thing. I hear that it is traditional to update more frequently than once every other month. Actually, openings like this are getting a little tired, aren't they? Alas, I do not predict that they will become a smaller proportion of my blog entry openings, assuming that we take what has happened in the past to be a good predictor of what will happen in the future. Perhaps I should just stop lamenting my lack of updates, and just pretend that any entry I post is, in fact, arriving at an eminently suitable time. So I shall start again.

Things have been getting better, slowly but surely. I am now doing one day per week of work experience at a not very local organ builder firm. This appears to be going well. I have learned that organ pipes are very dirty things (and am about to learn about the power of search engines to lead inappropriate traffic to my site, no doubt), and need to be cleaned very thoroughly via a variety of different methods, including poking with a paintbrush (or bottle brush) to dislodge the dirt, vacuuming the dirt away, blowing the rest of the dirt away (blowing is not the first step, because that would be very messy!), washing with a strong solution of specialist pipe cleaner (aka industrial strength floor cleaner) and wiping dry. Sometimes I even get to use a q-tip in the mouth! Of the pipe, that is, as opposed to my mouth. Not always a good idea to put q-tips in one's mouth in such a manky place; it would probably be very good for the immune system, but it might cause some damage on the way.

I am also settled in a new house. I have a room to myself, of course, and also a share of the rest of the non-bedroom rooms within the house. I am living with two other people and a dog. None of them dribbles, that I can see. I wasn't really worried about the housemates, but dogs can sometimes be slobbery little things. This one is well-behaved and friendly, but not excessively so.

My room is great. It's not very big (I have had to get rid of a lot of my things!), but the bed is comfy, there is room for my chest of drawers and single bed settee, it comes with decent bookcases already (and my colourful wool collection looks great displayed in one of these), and it is well-decorated. Like a student, I have my alcohol collection on my window-sill.* Alas, I now have an alcohol problem: it can sometimes be difficult to close the blind behind the bottles.

There is another disadvantage within my room - I am very kindly storing a bookcase for someone, and the only place for it to go is in front of my radiator. This means that I am not turning on my radiator, and my room is the cold one. Meh. It is going a week on Thursday, so not long to put up with it now!

Serena and Heather have both moved Down South. This means that I am somewhat lacking in local friends. I am dealing with this by talking for far too long on the phone to people who is not Serena, nor Heather, which is great but will probably start to annoy my housemates very soon. Time for a new mobile phone, methinks.

It is very strange having two of my closest friends so far away. When I am in my previous neighbourhood, I expect to be able to go inside a couple of the houses there and I can not. Sunday afternoons between church and more church are not the same without Heather with whom to drink coffee and giggle about silly things. Nobody ever makes me cups of tea nowadays, with the exception of my parents.

Speaking of whom, they have scaffolding up the front of the house at the moment. Anne has grand plans to get herself killed off before her thirteenth birthday by climbing up the aforementioned structure. I am to provide my harness (she has her own) and rope, and shall insist that she wears my helmet. Apparently Father is not impressed with the idea - he thinks that the little fatso** will wobble it and bring it down. Not sure if Anne is perceived to be the victim here, or if it's the scaffolding, the house, or the car parked on the lawn. I think that perhaps the scaffolding will withstand the efforts of a twelve-year-old girl to scale it, especially if she doesn't throw herself about much. It will need to be checked out thoroughly, of course, but I am hopeful. It's a shame to deny little children the chance to climb large structures.***

The next day, assuming Anne survives her trial, will involve me taking her birthday shopping. This is an excellent plan, as it means that I don't have to think of what to get her for her birthday. Also, it should be fun. We will have to have an early start, though, she needs to be returned and fed by 1pm, before being packed off for more birthday fun. At least that's what the parents seem to think it will be: Anne doesn't seem entirely convinced. Well, it's not her birthday until next Tuesday, so she can jolly well just grin and bear it.

In other news, Robert has communicated with Louise, and bought birthday presents for her on behalf of us all. It's her birthday tomorrow. This is the second unprovoked communication I have heard of between the two of them recently - it's almost as though they like each other. Weird. Mother thinks that perhaps they are growing up. I wonder if one of them has been taken over by aliens. Couldn't say which one *coughRobertcough*, but it's a theory.

Organ stuff is really starting to build up now. I am playing at the Motherchurch before the service this Sunday evening, I have a whole service to play for myself on 31st October, I have quite a bit to do in the first Advent service at the end of November, I shall be doing most of a Christmas carol concert on 6th December (ooh - that will be an excessively busy weekend), and I am playing for the wedding of some friends in early January. Plus some other stuff. On the plus side, I do appear to be improving - I played the introit at the Motherchurch a couple of weeks ago, and apparently got all of the notes right. It was pretty much in time, and sounded as though an actual organist was playing. Result!

I do need to step up the amount of practice I am doing, though. It's very hard at the moment, as I appear to be even more busy than I was in June, before I cut down on my commitments. I am excessively relieved that I did cut down on my commitments - I dread to think what life would be like had I not done so.

So yes, life is more or less pootling along nicely now. Well, as far as I am going to discuss it here it is, anyway! Certainly things are more calm and under control. The car has new windscreen wipers, and everything! Not new tyres, but we have to take thing one step at a time so as not to become overwhelmed.

*OK, so this is not really true. The majority of my alcohol collection is in my parents' house, in their top kitchen. I have no idea how quickly those bottles are going down, but as the important ones reside with me that shouldn't be too much of a problem.

**Extreme sarcasm. She's quite skinny.

*** :-p

Friday, 21 August 2009

Teaching soapmaking

Today I taught four people how to make soap. As I shall be moving house soon (Saturday 5th September, to be precise), I am trying to get rid of some things of which I have too much. One of these things is my oil collection. Much as it would be lovely to put them into storage and get them out again next time I want to make soap, I must accept that these things go off and leak, and that storing them is actually not a very clever plan.

I decided to put an advert on my local swap shop, offering to teach people how to make soap. This was in exchange for chocolate, wine, or loan of a tent next time I go camping (next weekend). I got one bar of chocolate, one tent, and one cake. We made two batches of soap, both of which misbehaved in an annoying way. Next time I teach soapmaking I shall have to make sure that I use a tried and tested recipe!

The first batch was a daffodil one. It was supposed to be moisturising. The soap decided to go all oily in the pan, and had to be attacked with a blender until it decided to play nicely. Alas, it did not trace as it was supposed to, and so I couldn't show this stage to everyone. It behaved in the end, though, and did at least demonstrate what soap looks like when it is ready to be poured into the mould.

Alas, during the proceedings one of the local residents decided that it would be a lovely idea to piss into my back yard. He declared that he would laugh if we noticed him. There is perhaps a small possibility that he was somewhat intoxicated. I am very proud of myself: I resisted the urge to hit him with a stick. My guests were also well-behaved, and refrained from pouring caustic soda on the offending item. Tempting, but ultimately likely to get us arrested.

The second soap was purple. Well, it wasn't purple at all, but it will probably be purple by the time it has finished curing. We put alkanet oil in, which is red.* This then turns purple, or lilac, or whatever it wants to be called. It was a bit over-full in its mould, and a bit came out of the top, but it will be interesting to see what it looks like with a forced flat top - normally I stroke it a bit and hope for the best.

The five of us seemed to get on quite well together - I really hope that we can get together at some point in the future and do some more crafty things together. There were some interesting talents within the group, including spinning. I have promised the remainder of my oils to one of them shortly before I move out (I might want to make more soap before I go, but she can have what's left), and we will meet up again at some point in her house to make another vanilla soap. In the meantime, I am thinking of making a soap which uses the oil infused with vanilla that I have had hanging around for an unfeasibly long time. It would be good to use that.

I had a fun time this evening. Tomorrow is sailing and avoiding being thought of as the sort of person who wants to get into a relationship (hopefully not too tricky, but not pinning too many hopes on that), followed by cutting soap, followed by packing, followed by organ practice (which has been sadly lacking recently, but I figure that I should cut myself some slack). Sunday will be a day of church, then lunch, then looking at a potential new house (could do with getting that sorted before I move out of this house), then packing the car, going to the parents' house and dropping off 1/4 of my remaining possessions (only four more trips in which I can do this), then cleaning out their fridge which will be full of rotting vegetables. Yay. Monday will be organ building work experience, day three. This promises to be fun. I suppose that the last two would only count as fun if you like that sort of thing, but it turns out that so far I do. A career I enjoy may be beckoning me...

*To be a little bit more precise, the alkanet oil is actually olive oil infused with alkanet powder. It starts off looking a little like blood, and then goes purplish when it gets put in something with the same pH as soap, whatever that happens to be. I started to infuse this one in the previous house - it has probably been infusing for something approaching a year now.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Since getting home from work

He came back to collect some more stuff. He went away again. I cried. I stopped crying. I brought some oils downstairs. I taught two people how to make soap. I did the washing up. They went home. I wrote a blog post. The end.

Thursday, 6 August 2009


Well, I am happily settling into living alone. It is quite a revelation to have the whole house to myself all the time, and not to have anybody to complain if I don't clean the kitchen. Which, incidentally, I will be doing tomorrow afternoon, as I shall be leading a soapmaking workshop there, and don't want anyone to get the idea that I have no idea about kitchen hygiene. I am fairly sure that my theoretical knowledge, at least, is excellent!

Having given my bed away to a couple of friends, I am borrowing Serena's spare bed. I must take a photo of my new, improved bedroom, actually - there is an amazing amount of space in it. It is just the sort of bedroom I would like to have always. Such a pity that I shall be leaving this house in less than a month. The mattress is very comfortable, also, and I have a double duvet to go with it, despite the bed being a single bed.

I have also sent a lot of possessions home with Mother, and have offered to donate several pieces of furniture to some friends. The number of things that I own is slowly reducing. The house, of course, is not exactly tidy - the loss of my big bookcase has left the living room covered in books, and a search of my charity shop box for a shirt for Anne for Granddad's funeral has left the front room covered in the boxes that formerly resided on top of the charity shop box.

I am sure that this post was much more interesting than this in my head. It was also longer. Alas, my cognitive ability seems to be on holiday a little early (it's supposed to stay with me until tomorrow afternoon), and I therefore am having difficulty even making it to the end of this sentence. Perhaps that is my cue to give up and go to bed.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

May I live in interesting times

So, I am now single. The house, it would appear, is just the perfect size for me and my things. If only life could stay like this, and I didn't have to move into a room somewhere...

The wedding, it has to be said, did not go all that well. The bridal march fell apart in a reasonably spectacular fashion, when I lost my place and couldn't work out which notes to play. I played some notes, but there was no way and no circumstances in which they could have been described as well-combined notes.

And Granddad died a couple of days ago. The parents didn't tell me yesterday because they didn't want to mess up this wedding for me (just as well?), but they did tell me when I called today.

And there is a random little insect on my settee. I hope that this is not a bad thing. Ah well - it's a random little squashed insect now.

So, it has been a busy day. I am tired. I still don't know what the hymns are for tomorrow, but at least the bed settee no longer lives in the front room and I can access the piano in the usual fashion; this will aid my practice. Tonight I get to sleep on a proper bed! Yay!

On which note, I shall start the going to bed process. It will be a long one today. I predict a nap tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, 30 July 2009


Saturday is when it all happens. I play for a wedding and HWSNBN leaves me. There is also potential for sofa moving and drunkenness. As HWSNBN is taking the main sofa, I have decided to take advantage of the Manly Muscles (TM) of Will, who will be visiting Serena that weekend, to get a little help with getting my house back into a usable state. Sometimes it can be useful being able to sit in the sitting room!

I also just promised to give my bed to James and Ailsa. This could be interesting, as I have been known to use my bed to sleep on, but I am sure that Serena will lend me one for the remaining month that I shall be spending in this house. If she will not, I shall steal the mattress she keeps under her spare bed - she really should have chucked it out years ago, but it will do at a pinch.

I have also invited James and Ailsa over to look at the rest of my furniture and let me know if there is anything that they would like. I can find it quite hard to let go of things, but knowing that there are people who might otherwise be without furniture should help to melt my heart of stone. Or something. I think that I am exaggerating - I suspect that they do have the power to obtain various items of furniture for themselves, including a bed, but I may as well take advantage of someone else's difficult situation to make mine a little easier - the parents will no doubt be very relieved if I don't have much crap that I am requesting them to store,* and relieved parents can make for children being greeted with more enthusiasm!

In other news, life continues to go on. Camping trips are being planned, festival tickets have been paid for, socialising with friends is occurring, and most activities outside work have been put on hiatus for a while, to allow me to get back into this whole "being a well-balanced person" thing. The anxiety is mostly not a problem, although I have had to put actual work into that this past week; it certainly has not been easy simply to coast along as I would like. The drugs are good, though; I am very glad to have started to use anti-depressants, as they certainly seem to be enhancing my ability to cope with life.

Now I am off to do some organ practice (Pachelbel's Canon is not going well! I must not mess up during the signing of the register!) and then off out for dinner. It should be an enjoyable evening.

*OK, so not having much crap is a pipe-dream, really. I have a whole houseful of crap, and if I manage to reduce it to 1/4 of a houseful of crap I will be doing impressively well.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

A wedding

So, there's this wedding for which I am playing on 1st August. When I was asked whether or not I would be interested, it seemed many months away. Now, it is actually quite close.

The wedding will be very traditional, insofar as the entrance music will be the Bridal March (except that it sounds much more expressive when I play it, I reckon. Oh, the joys of narcissism. But I have more wrong notes, so it's swings and roundabouts, really), and the exit music will be the Wedding March (again, a little staid. Still more right notes than my attempts, though). It's good repertoire to acquire as an organist, and will stand me in good stead.

There are hymns, also: Lord of all Hopefulness, Make me a channel of Your peace, and Jerusalem (none of mine comes up to the standards here - why is it that YouTube has really good hymns but not such good playing? I particularly dislike the second hymn - no idea why. You might like it - this is quite a nice little arrangement here).

Anyway, to get back to the point, it has been quite a struggle to prepare for this wedding, as my concentration has been, shall we say, somewhat lacking these past few months. Progress has been slow, to say the least. The pieces are finally coming together, mostly. There is still an awful lot of tidying up to get through, but it seems as though getting there in time for the wedding might now be possible!

Alas, progress has not been consistent. Lord of all hopefulness was fine last week, but now I seem unable to find the correct notes with my feet. This is often considered to be a disadvantage. Only by those who want correct notes, of course, but they do seem to be the majority of people who listen.

It is very frustrating to play a hymn correctly, then find that it is deteriorating. I am sure that it is a learning experience, and all that, but I had jolly well better have learned whatever experience I need by the time this wedding comes along.

I have just realised that this entry is particularly dull. I had hoped to come up with some witty insight about playing for weddings, but perhaps one should have some idea about the insight itself before making such plans. Methinks 'tis after my bedtime, and that I should be heading bedwards. HWSNBN is away tonight, so I get the real bed! Hooray!

Oh, and as I have been looking around YouTube, I found my favourite piece (because it seemed quiet when I had found all of the pieces I wanted to find, so I went searching). You really should listen to this. I hope one day to find a piece of music I like more than this, but don't really think that's going to happen.

Thursday, 16 July 2009


Yeah. So that was, once again, a bit of a break between updates. I am being exactly the sort of blogger I expected to be. Ah well - it's good that I know myself!

I am not entirely sure that I want to say what I have been up to since my last update. I suppose that I shall start and see what comes out...

It would appear that I am not quite so good at coping with life as I would have myself believe. After a rough couple of years (not all that bad, but somewhat wearing - I mean, there was an awful lot of good stuff happening, but the stuff that failed to happen no matter how hard I tried apparently caused me to give up), it was brought to my attention that I was not actually coping very well with life. After a few weeks of trying to get better by positive thinking/additional free time/rest and relaxation/counselling, I came to the conclusion that my brain was not going to play to any suitable timescale. The anxiety just kept being there all the time, even when there was nothing for me to be anxious about. That was wearing, too. That remains wearing, I suppose.

To cut a long, only briefly sketched, story short, I went on anti-depressants a week ago. I think that I am starting to feel a bit better. Certainly, the anxiety feels less important. I have got very good at ignoring a low level of anxiety and carrying on as normal, and as coming across as a well-adjusted person with a sense of humour (sometimes even I believe it!), but that's not really enough; constant anxiety is just stupid, and helps nobody.

So that's the story of just me and my brain. There are other things going on, though. HWSNBN is due to be moving out at the end of August, if not before, in such a way that we will no longer be partners: a break-up will ensue. This has implications for my housing situation; I cannot afford to have a whole house to myself, especially since my hours have been reduced to four days per week. I must either find somebody else to move in with me, or get rid of some of my stuff (!?!?!) and find myself a room elsewhere. I am currently advertising for another housemate (HWSNBN would move out as soon as this person was ready to move in), but I think that I should probably actually just bite the bullet and move in with someone else. It will be good for me to get rid of some of my things, and will leave me better-prepared for moving wherever I need to move when my organ building career finally takes off (2021?).

The parents have been very supportive. Having just that morning discovered that my wing mirror had been removed in the night (£200 of damage!), I drove into my parents' gate post with the back of my car. It was the other side from the missing wing mirror, so there was no way I could pretend it was the same accident! Not that I would do that, you understand. Anyway, I went inside and cried at both of my parents about the car damages, my stupidity, and my boyfriend announcing his departure, and they fed me and gave me whisky. Not much whisky, though - they were being responsible, after all. They looked after me for a very pleasant couple of days (I don't take much looking after, really - just regular cups of tea and whatever food happens to be going). They also said that I am welcome to go and live with them any time, although they did say that if I moved my stuff into my house I was only to fill Robert's bedroom to the extent that he could still get to his bed. What's the point of being the eldest if I have to abide by that sort of rules? Anyway, I was thinking that if I put his bed in the garden, that would remove that problem: I'm hardly going to want to keep my stuff in the garden, as it would get wet. He can have my tarpaulin.

I am mostly trying not to think about HWSNBN's departure. Although it is the right thing to happen, this is the guy with whom I have spent the majority of my twenties. At one point I thought I was going to marry him (OK, so it was only for a couple of months, but even so...). It is going to be very sad. I am also going to be very financially vulnerable. Sadness tinged with fear! What a tasty little combination.

Ah well - hopefully the drugs will help me to deal with the mechanics of the situation, and I can finish processing it when I am in a happier place. I think I have done enough processing of my situation to be going on with, and would like a break from that sort of thing, really. It would be very nice just to be able to cope with life like a normal person again, even when ever so slightly bad things (such as needing to turn the flashy Internet box off and on again) happen. Even when bigger bad things (such as one's boyfriend leaving one) happen.

It's all OK, really. Certainly, things feel better. Not better better, but much less bad. I have demonstrated that I have both enough motivation and enough togetherness (wrong word - do you know what I mean) to publish a blog post. Actually, that isn't technically accurate as I type, but if you have read it, then it is.

So, watch this space. But please don't hold your breath - I would hate to be held liable for your death by accidental asphyxiation. (Note the concern I show for your life. I obviously value it very highly. Hmm - perhaps I should work on empathy.) Although if watching this space doesn't interest you especially, please feel free to miss that out. I mean, it's not as though I have any right, nor any desire, to order you about. And I can be rather annoying. For example, I should have stopped typing before I started this paragraph, but I did not. Clearly, I should not be typing this. Perhaps all of my pent-up motivation (insert hysterical laughter here) has been waiting too long, and is now unstoppable. Perhaps I need more sleep. Perhaps I should now make steps towards getting that sleep. Yes, that is a good conclusion. Night night.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Not all about felt!

Yikes - after a very short period of what could possibly be charitably described as productivity, I have once again been a very bad blogger. So, what has happened that is of note since my last update?

Well, it looks as though I am likely to be allowed to work for four days per week (as opposed to the standard five) in the very near future. This is not yet guaranteed, but the signs are looking good. This would leave me one day per week free to pursue some organ building work experience. It looks as though this work experience will be able to go ahead, so perhaps I will make some actual progress in my life quite soon!

Of course, cutting down my hours does have financial implications. I have calculated* that I shall be one car payment per month less well-off. The car payments must continue, however - there's no way I'm letting something so useful and reliable go; its running costs are about as low as car running costs can get, and it is incredibly capacious. Also, it is shiny (although in dire need of a wash). To return to the point, I have started to cut down on what I spend (starting, of course, by paying a £200 car insurance bill - way to go!), which will no doubt be painful when I actually want to buy something. Oh, but I have just worked out that I should still be on slightly more money than I was on when I started this job. Wow.

It will be my birthday shortly. Mother has offered to buy the next lot of wool for felting that I want, and I really need to think about if there is anything that I really want that my other relatives could buy for me. I think that HWSNBN is getting me some tools (I should be able to return the borrowed tenon saw to Father; hopefully he hasn't noticed its absence, although he did see me using it when I did a little joinery work for him. I made sure I put it back in my box when he wasn't looking. Never have children - they steal your things). Because what I need in my life is more stuff! He should also be getting me a tool bag in which to store some of the tools, and also for transportation purposes - the tool box I acquired a few years ago isn't exactly ergonomically designed!

I think that I need to up my felt production. I have two friends' birthdays coming up on 9th and 10th June, and want to make felt flowers for them both. One, I think, will like an iris or two (not to be too challenging to myself!), but I have no idea what the other would like.

I am also fixing a felt bag for another friend. Whoever made it didn't pay enough attention to crossing over some fibres (as opposed to have them all running alongside each other), and the strap was coming off. I removed it completely, cannibalised it (so that I had some matching wool to repair it elsewhere), and put it back on with a join that would be invisible had the bag itself not faded ever so slightly - the join is slightly darker. Now I am poking the strap with a needle repeatedly, in order to strengthen it and avoid a repeat performance. After I have decided that this has been done enough, I must repair the tears in the back. I would also like to reinforce that a bit, with fibres running in different directions, in order to avoid a repeat performance. I have wool in a colour which very nearly matches, and a little of the strap, although some of that went to reinforce it where it was getting thin on the opposite side to that on which it snapped.

I love felt, though - it is so easy to mend! Granted, a needle and thread might be quicker than poking, but that requires you to be accurate all the time. Felt is slower, and accuracy kind of builds up over time. Ha! This bodes really well for a career involving lots of accuracy with wood! Somehow, though, even wood feels easier than sewing (with the exception of the sewing of hems - I am good at hems. Probably because it's the only sewing skill I practise regularly).

Now to make lunch. Soup, methinks. Then, perhaps, I shall achieve something.

*This is a lie. I plugged some figures into a website, which did the calculations for me. I hope that it has not made me look potentially better-off than I shall actually be.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A ramble that is hopefully at least vaguely coherent

Today, I have nothing to say. I expect that it is refreshing for you that I am admitting this at the beginning of the post so that you don't have to wade through to the end only to come to the same conclusion.

I managed to get in twenty minutes of organ practice this lunchtime. It was crap. The organ on campus has a broken note at the moment, which really doesn't help things, but I think that it was my own despondency which was the big issue. So much for my happy weekend! Having said that, work did seem to go quickly today, and I was extra helpful to several of my bosses who were having a technologically inept day. I did all sorts of wonderful things with teaching Excel (in one case) and Ctrl + Alt + Del (in the other two - killed two birds with one stone, although there was a bit of an incident with an unrestrained Del and an Inbox). Ah, the joys of having knowledge.

Now I am in that living room I showed you the other day. Imagine it without the piles of felt; they are upstairs. Don't bother imagining the dark blue martial arts kit bag that is there instead, though, nor the spirit level and the drill which will shortly be helping the key rack and the new kitchen shelf to become attached to their permanent homes. Woo hoo - additional storage options! Does this mean that the house will finally become tidy? Does that sound at all likely? No, it does not. But some of the crap will live at an ever so slightly higher altitude, which will clear a small amount of space down below.

Oh, and in breaking getting rid of crap news, I gave away my old plate set today. It was sad to see it go. They guy made me feel a little guilty that I have so much crap I don't need in the kitchen; he is furnishing an eco house and therefore looking for pretty much everything. I gave him a rolling pin, but he didn't want my coffee table, nor did he want my letter rack. I didn't ask, but I expect that he didn't want any of my old clothes, either. He probably wanted my casserole dish and 40-piece non-matching cutlery "set", with more forks than anything else, which is perfect for parties as it is cheap, environmentally friendly, and I am not going to do anything I might regret if a fork goes missing (lose a fork from my main cutlery set, and there's no knowing what I'll do. Probably send you to Liverpool to acquire a replacement. As I am not convinced they still make my beloved cutlery set, this could be quite an expedition). But I should probably have given it to the guy - at least then I wouldn't have to store it. Having said that, I'm keeping the caddy it lives in; it may as well be full. So perhaps I am justified in not giving my spare cutlery away. You'll thank me for it when you come round for a party and you get to use it. Or perhaps it will be the main set that is being used, and you will start to develop mild feelings of paranoia. You might notice HWSNBN looking at you funny if you use one of the teaspoons in your tea, even though that rule no longer applies now that we have a dishwasher. I prefer not to tell people when one of my weird little rules ceases to apply; they might get complacent. Or perhaps letting them know that it no longer applies would be admitting that it was a silly rule in the first place (which, incidentally, it was not - tea stains do not come off stainless steel without either scrubbing or a dishwasher, and the scrubbing was not going to happen).

On that note, having acquainted you with a little of my unjustifiable weirdness and cemented my unsuitability to be around other people in your mind, I shall take my leave. I shall make a cup of tea. The teaspoon rule does not apply to me, because I extract the tea bag with my fingers. It hurts more when I have a cut.

Monday, 25 May 2009

In which I digress

It has been a restful day today. It's a Bank Holiday today, and so I didn't have to go to work. I feel as though, after today, I am ready to start doing lots of useful things around the house. Alas, tomorrow I shall be back at work and so this tidying will not happen. I have done pretty much all of the washing in the washing basket, though, which is a start. Now all I have to do is dry the stuff - the drying racks are full and there is another load waiting to be extracted from the machine. That is, of course, assuming nobody has taken advantage of the open utility room door (to dissipate the yucky smell which appears to come from the washing machine) and stolen my clean washing and bicycle (UPDATE: they didn't). I think that they won't have been aware of the door's openness, and so will have missed out on this excellent opportunity. Poor things - the washing is almost smelling nice nowadays. It's amazing what a wash at "90 degrees"* with some spirit vinegar will do.

I also made a case out of felt. this case is to hold the anthem book I am borrowing from the Motherchurch, which is not getting on well with the button on the front of my organ music file.** When I started to make it, it looked as though it would be a snug fit. Apparently I have anti-felt - rather than shrinking, as felt is wont to do, this has expanded. My lovely little carry case has therefore gone the way of pretty much all of my fabric creations to date - it is too big. How frustrating. If only stabbing it further would help.*** I would put a photo up, except that I am not sure how to from flickr (could be something to do with re-sizing), and I left my camera at the parents' house. See - the excuses keep coming. This excuse lasts nearly three weeks, I reckon. I also gave HWSNBN's spare camera to the parents on Friday, and would not be so disrespectful as to use HWSNBN's own camera.

I have decided to make a case to carry my chisels, out of felt. I shall use Herdwick wool, as it is hardwearing and cheap. It would be a shame to use pretty wool when I can use manly, local wool, of the sort they used to use to make foundations for roads. Herdwicks are my favourite sheep.****

And now HWSNBN is demanding that I should go to bed. Early bedtimes are the way forward, apparently. I shall endeavour to acquiesce.

*I don't think that it has ever got up to temperature. I suspect it probably managed about 40 on that particular cycle. Come to think of it, I wonder why I don't wash more things at "90 degrees". I should check that one out! Perhaps the element is broken. I mean, I am only speculating that the water ever gets warmer than it is when it comes out of the tap. For all I know, it could stay cold the entire time. Oh, the joys of inadequate washing machines (although rumour has it that this one will tumble dry, also. This is likely to remain untested - the tumble dryer which lives on top of it has been demonstrated to tumble dry. But I don't like to put my clothes in it; only sheets and towels. This is partly to save electricity, and partly in case the tumble dryer goes mad and eats them all. Having said that, I will now go and put the clothes from the washing machine into the tumble dryer on cool for 20 minutes. That should help to ease the strain on the drying racks, insofar as what I put on them will be a bit less wet...)

**The anthem book is not getting on well with the button. The Motherchurch has not complained about it at all.

***Yes, I needle-felted it. Yes, it took approximately a whole day. No, it did not turn out how I anticipated. Do you have a problem with that?

****What's your favourite sort of sheep?

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Living room, May 2009

I said that I would show you some photos of the house when it was tidy. It has been suggested that perhaps I do a lot of work around the house, and I wanted to set the record straight about how effective my efforts actually are. To be fair, the living room normally doesn't have all of the felt paraphenalia, lying around, nor do I habitually keep wood on my settee. The bright green stool (back left, inverted) lives elsewhere and may return there soon, also.

I think that a case could be made for the necessity of doing the felting that needs to be done on the table (but it's so unfair! Wet felting is so haaaard!) and then getting the stuff put away in my room. Which I will show you another day (there's a load of drying out in there at the moment; I'll put that away first. You could be in for a long wait).

If you click on the photo itself, you should be taken through to flickr, and will be able to see the tags on the photo. I reckon that they are worth looking at; if I didn't, I wouldn't have bothered putting them in in the first place. You might not think that they are worth looking at, though, and that's OK. It probably demonstrates your more mature outlook on life, or something else similarly deep and meaningful.

Less opti, more static

As you may have guessed from the utter pointlessness (and sparseness) of my posts recently, there is not a right lot going on in Abi-land. I mean, obviously I am having a great time fashioning small objects out of sheep hair, and my organ playing is slowly but surely improving. I am also getting better at standing on one leg and waving the other one around. My house is finally at a stage where one can get into all of the rooms (although HWSNBN's room remains a challenge - I am itching to re-organise it*), and that is very satisfying. I did lose a night's sleep on the project, but it was worth it to be able to enter and leave rooms at will, without any climbing involved.

What I really want to be doing is starting a career in organ building, but the progress that I am making is painfully slow, to say the least. Some uncharitable people might even say that I am making no progress at all at the moment. They would probably be accurate.

It is so frustrating being in this situation. I expended a lot of energy for a prolonged period of time to move on from where I am, and it came to nothing. Now I don't seem to have enough motivation to do anything constructive. It's a bit of a vicious circle, really: no optimism = no motivation = no movement = no optimism, etc. Well, there is some optimism, and a tiny bit of motivation, but not enough, really.

I sent an e-mail off to another organ builder firm requesting some work experience a few days ago. I am not really in a position to gain much work experience, as I work full-time and organ builders only work during weekdays, during which time I tend to be at work, funnily enough. I do have some holiday left, though, so if this guy replies to my e-mail in the affirmative, I might finally start to feel that I am getting somewhere again. This should lead to improved blogging, which is the important thing.

And yes, I am aware that my "oh no! I can't get started on my perfect job!" complaint is a wonderful complaint to have. I am truly grateful to have such excellent problems. It's just that excellent problems are still frustrating ones, and losing the motivation to improve my situation annoys me an enormous amount.

Now I shall stop complaining for a bit, and hope that the quality of my blogging magically improves. Good luck to me!

*Re-organise? Where did that come from? I don't think that it has been organised since we moved in here. Perhaps organise would be a better word. Re-arrange might work...

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Some felt flowers

Yesterday evening I had a cold. I have a cold today, for that matter. Being a charitable sort of person, I decided not to spread it around my martial arts group (especially as two of them work at the hospital - way to let the viruses roam around the community!), and so spent the evening at home. I made flowers out of felt.

I have come to a couple of conclusions. I don't think that I will ever be able to make felt flowers quickly, and should probably just aim to be efficient. I am also not keen on wet felting - you don't get to see the progress you are making, and it takes a lot of effort. I shall try unsuccessfully to see whether wet felting will occur in the dishwasher, and then look at different ways of making needle felting work for me, I think.

Yesterday, I made a cherry blossom and started to make a lily. The cherry blossom is OK - it needs a bit of tidying up. I don't know how good the lily is, as I have only felted half of its petals; I imagine that it will be OK.

Having expected to have a really enjoyable evening doing practically nothing, I actually felt a bit bored. Very frustrating! Perhaps it is because (as evidenced by my recent blog entries) I am a bit boring. I think that perhaps I ought to schedule a few more commitments so that I can miss more things and thus enjoy my free time more. OK, so I was missing martial arts, but I think that perhaps I believed in my excuse a bit too much.

Photos of the felting to follow, assuming I manage to post them. Please do not hold your breath!

Also, more interesting posts to follow. Again, holding of breath would not be advisable.

Friday, 15 May 2009

A rose for Rose

I am experimenting with putting pictures onto the blog. I have been failing miserably so far, but am determined to make it work! This is the first attempt...

It was my friend Rose's birthday last Sunday. As she seems to like handmade things, I was considering giving her some of my new "sandalwood" soap, but was hit by some actual inspiration. As you may already have guessed, I decided to make her a rose out of felt. You can see the result. Hopefully.

A few things have struck me. Firstly, I need to incorporate the wire which supports the stem into the flower itself early in the construction stage. It was a pain in the backside trying to conceal the end of the wire after I had made it, and even after I'd had a really good try, distorting the centre of the rose in the process, it still wasn't quite right and made itself another hole. Building the rose around the end of the wire would have meant I could have got the end felted securely beforehand, and I could have built the flower round it quite easily. I might even have managed to make it look like the centre of a rose...

The other thing that strikes me is that I really need to do some work on my posting of photographs. I could do with finding a background which is better than my dirty old settee (yes, the cover could do with a wash. Why do you ask?). Given the state my house is in at the moment, I don't imagine that it will be easy to find much free space, but I should at least work on getting a good (clean) white background to put on the settee.

The final thing which has struck me is that I need to re-size my photographs before I put them on flickr - perhaps if they were smaller I would be able to make them display on other webpages, and would not use up quite so much of my monthly allowance. Not that this is likely to be a problem, of course, judging by my efforts so far.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Felt flowers

This evening I have a bit of free time! Hooray. I mean, it's not entirely free as I have to get the house a bit tidier so that we can fit in a few friends staying overnight on Saturday for HWSNBN's birthday, but I will have a bit of space to sit and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer while creating flowers out of felt. I am going to have a go at making pretty ones which I can sell on Etsy. I don't yet know whether or not I have this capability, and probably won't be too disappointed if I do not, but I figure that it's worth a go.

I recently made a rose for Rose, and it turned out quite well in my humble opinion. The stem took forever, and was not entirely anatomically correct (leaves don't appear to go on the stem on which the flower grows; they seem to prefer stems coming off that stem. Also, its internals were made of wire and wool; real stem internals have tubes for moving water and nutrients around. I am less concerned about the second inaccuracy than the first); next time I may well end up with a shorter stem. Perhaps I will also make hair clips and hairbands. Even brooches may be an option.

My current project is a viola. As in the flower, not the musical instrument. It is a tiny bit more hefty than I originally planned - I was thinking that a viola was about the same size as a pansy (which it is not - violas are tiny), and I think that I had an exaggerated petal size in my head when I planned the first petal. I am going to have to consider future flowers more carefully! The rose was a good size (about what I was aiming for - perhaps a tiny bit on the little size, but not significantly so), but the viola is a leviathan of a thing.

I have also resolved to put some photographs up. To this end, I shall keep a usb cable in the living room to facilitate the transfer of images. We shall see how effective this resolve turns out to be.

Have a great evening (or whatever it is that you are about to have)!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

A little bit of nothing, and not very much

Oh, the tyranny of the blank screen. I am waiting for an e-mail to come in so that I can reply to it, and am trying to do something productive with my time. Here's a list of things that writing this blog post is more productive than:
  • Writing "sentences" like the previous one. Seriously - a preposition at the end of a sentence? And that's just the beginning of that sentence's problems.
  • Taking the washing out of the washing machine and hanging it up to dry. Washing doesn't need to dry, anyway.
  • Tidying the front room. I like it so full of stuff; it makes me feel safe.
  • Designing a new cabinet for the kitchen, which would both give me an opportunity to practice my joinery skills and provide some extra storage. Who needs joinery skills? And what's wrong with keeping tins in plastic boxes on the kitchen table?
  • Cleaning the utility room. Far too dark for that crap.
  • Writing snarky e-mails to Daddy about how he should name his files something other than scan0001.bmp. Hang on - I'm multi-tasking and accomplishing this as well! I suggested scan0003.bmp as a viable alternative.
  • Organ practice. It's not as though that improves my playing, anyway.
  • Making a birthday present for Rose - she probably doesn't really want one anyway.
  • Going to bed. I am not tired in the slightest. Ho hum.
So, as you can see, writing a blog post is clearly the way forward and could not, in any way, be described as procrastination. And, as the writing is superb, it is a treat just to be able to read it. I would never get myself a reputation as a person who writes about nothing from writing like this, would I? Hello? You still there?

Then, of course, comes the question - do I leave it as it is: a finely-crafted essaylet* about how useless this blog actually is,** or do I try to form an awkward segue (is that the right word? I don't think I've ever used it before) and try to introduce some actual content. My instinct tells me that the former is the way forward, so I only have myself to blame when this next bit doesn't work at all.

This evening's plan was to come home from work as soon as was reasonable, eat a quick dinner, and then spend a couple of hours at the Motherchurch practising on the organ. Unfortunately, I was short of dinner ideas and we ended up going for pork chops with mushrooms and creme fraiche. This takes an hour to bake; by the time I had finished eating it was nearly 10pm. Also, I'm tired, and practice has been arduous and unrewarding this week. I know that this means I need to try harder, but it makes it harder to try harder. I think that I shall be winging it this week. I bet it goes well, too, unlike my last lesson, before which I had a practice session in which I sounded something like an organist, and a lesson in which I sounded like an impostor from the days before I played the organ.

Well I have eaten plenty of food, at least. That can be my achievement for the evening: that, and annoying my parents. I have promised to cut out some specific pieces of wood for them, though; they should be pleased with the results, assuming I am suitably accurate. It will be good practice for my upcoming cabinet, though. I can make the mistakes on someone else's wood.*** My cabinet will then be perfect. Naturally.

Nope - I'm broken. It's pretty much all sarcasm from now on. I had better go and reply to that e-mail instead. I am sure this sarcasm will be very well-received.

*It's called poetic licence.

**And also about how ineffectual I tend to be.

***Only kidding - I don't make mistakes!****


Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Internet in a box

Finally, over two months after moving to our new house, we have the Internet back! Instead of it residing on a silly little stick (which I had to plug into the laptop via an extra-long USB cable, before balancing the stick on the top of the bottom sash window in the bedroom, and wrapping the cable round the fastener for support, meaning that the only place from which I have been able to access the Internet is sitting in HWSNBN's spot on the bed), it now resides in a slightly less silly box, which spreads its lovely Internet rays around the house, to be intercepted by some network thingy box or other, which sends the Internet rays about the house in such a way that the laptop recognises them as friendly and Internetty, and stuff. At least, that's how I understand the process. What this means is that the Internet is faster, I am allowed to look at pictures (the stick is pay-per-byte; pictures are too big for it), and I can access it anywhere in the house! Last night, I sat downstairs on the settee and wrote an e-mail.

Next thing you know, I'll be having a housewarming party.

This weekend was a bank holiday, and so I did what any self-respecting woman would do: I made soap. I kind of suggested that I might be available to lead a soapmaking workshop on a specific date a few weeks ago, but when the time came round I was overwhelmed with moving, and hadn't yet found my palm oil (which is the cheapest one - I eventually found it on top of a cupboard in the front room, a couple of weeks later), and so I cancelled the workshop. This Monday, I taught one of the people who would have come to the workshop how to make soap. I think that she enjoyed herself.

We made two soaps. The first was supposed to be sandalwood, but I can't afford that and had to use amyris instead. It smells a bit like sandalwood, I hope. The only requirement for the second soap was that it should be purple. It turned out pale green. I think that perhaps I went wrong somewhere along the line. My next soap will be purple, though: I shall use paler oils and more pigment. I shall also avoid listening to pigment suggestions from somebody who has never made soap before.

Actually, my soaps had far fewer massive bubbles in than usual - I am obviously doing something right. Fewer bubbles means that I can give more of them away as gifts, and don't have to fob them off on unwary passers-by, who don't necessarily want to be taking home small piles of soap with them. It also looks as though I might know what I am doing, and that I might possibly care about how my soap looks.

And now my brain is so overwhelmed with tiredness that it is refusing to come up with ends to sentences; perhaps I ought to stop now, before the quality of this post deteriorates further.

Friday, 1 May 2009

A bit of a verbal meander

This is my contribution to Blogging Against Disablism 2009.

I kind of agreed to write a BADD post a little while ago, but have very little idea about what I should write. I want to write something deep, meaningful and thought-provoking, but I get the impression that one should be deep, and have meaningful thoughts, in order to fulfil that brief; this post will not be deep, meaningful, nor thought-provoking.

Of course, this post would be better if I had any personal experience of disablism, but I don't: my temporary able-bodied* status is still going strong. As such, disability issues are not at the forefront of my mind. I also feel that I don't really have a right to join in with this event - the closest I have ever come to experiencing disablism is getting salad for lunch while everyone else eats lasagne, because nobody has bothered to order me a decent gluten-free alternative** (although the vegetarians were catered for; that's not even a dietary requirement, for goodness sake!). I did, of course, get the smug satisfaction that they were getting fat while I was not, but this was tempered with the fact that I was eating lettuce for lunch. Alternatively, I occasionally get a big, tasty-looking meal while everyone else gets crappy sandwiches, and I end up feeling conspicuous and guilty - as though I am trying to make a point that I am more special than everyone else.

I suppose that this does have some bearing on disablism, though. I mean, it's a thouroughly trivial example of a petty discrimination which ruins a few meals for me (seriously - I had to eat salad!), but it does give me a tiny insight into what people with an actual disability might feel when their needs are not being met, and also when their needs are being met. I mean, there is a certain amount of stigma attached to being disabled. I gather that some people do not want to advertise their disability, and that receiving accommodations for this can be tricky. I don't necessarily want to tell people that I can't eat gluten - it makes me sound like a faddy eater, possibly the sort who wants attention. Logically, I think that very few people look down on me for not eating gluten (although those who decide to cater for me have to be at least a little bit annoyed), but I still don't want to single myself out. Although I would rather do that than make myself ill, of course.

It's all about exclusion, isn't it? When adaptations are made readily and with the minimum of fuss, people can feel included and welcomed. It is so exciting going to a barbecue where there is food that I can eat (i.e. probably not sausages or beefburgers), as I don't have to stand on the sidelines feeling hungry and wondering why I bothered in the first place. It shouldn't be exciting - it should be normal (although this is an extremely trivial example - it's just a bit of food. I often bring/make my own now. The best beefburger I ever had was one I made myself). It is presumably the same with an actual disability; quietly facilitating what needs to be facilitated without making a fuss should make a big difference to how that person experiences things. Anyway, one should be kind to people. If everyone were just kind, disablism would be much less of a problem.

So yes, I have a, erm, useful perspective, and can contribute ever so much. Hmm. Perhaps I had better stick to expanding my own mind.Oh, the joys of having such a narrow and limited perspective.

So, what should I be doing to be less disablist myself? I sort of feel that I am doing OK - I try to offer to help people when they look as though they are struggling, and stuff. I often feel that I have so few interactions with people with a disability that this is not an issue which concerns me, in general, though. Having said that, I don't necessarily know whether or nor somebody has a disability; it is not as though a special badge or uniform is required, is it? I don't see that my role is to do any more than to treat other people as I would like to be treated if I were in their situation, being mindful that their situation may be more difficult than I realise; I should be as tolerant of other people as they are of me! I think that if this rule were to be applied, the only disablism which survived would be due to ignorance of other people's needs. I suppose that this is still a bit of an issue (to put it mildly), which is where Blogging Against Disablism Day comes in. I shall take a lot more out of today than I am putting in. Well, I suppose that I could hardly take less than this measley little post.

Do I have a greater responsibility? Should I, rather than simply trying to be good and kind, and to include people wherever possible, should I be campaiging against disablism? Or working towards pointing out things that need changing (in that way which annoys people so effectively) and making what changes I can.

So, people, apologies for my uneducated stance. Do let me know- other than not being quite so shallow and thoughtless, what should I be doing differently?

Oh, and it has become apparent to me that I do have a bit of a problem, known as "inability to construct an argument". Sufferers have to endure the jeers of unenlightened people saying that their blog post is rubbish, and they often get poor marks in their essays. They may also put their foot in their mouth and, only slightly knowingly, say something rather offensive. Sorry about that. The accommodation that I require is for people to prevent me from putting my "thoughts" on the Internet.*** Alas, this is not one I have received today, and I shall have to endure the consequences (as you have already done). ;-)

*I expect it is my mind which is more likely to be a cause for concern, anyway.

**Full disclosure: eating gluten causes (engage euphamism mode) my digestive system to run a little more quickly than usual (disengage euphamism mode), with the sort of discomfort which can come with that, it makes me feel slightly sick, and sometimes gives me a headache. It helps me to lose weight, though, as I don't feel like eating when I feel sick. None of this is the end of the world, and I will eat gluten occasionally (especially if, for example, I have turned up at a wedding and forgotten to tell them about my dietary requirements. Not that I would do that, of course; that would be irresponsible), but in general I prefer not to feel sick, and I dread to think what it does to my micro-villi, so I try hard to avoid the stuff.

***'Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.
Abraham Lincoln (1809 - 1865).
Conversely (and my justification for joining in)
As you grow older, you'll find the only things you regret are the things you didn't do.
Zachary Scott

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Lovely shoes

Today, we went to a wedding. It was in a very posh old house in Lancashire, and a friend drove so that we were able to enjoy lots of alcohol. Judging by how sober I currently feel, I did not exploit this opportunity to its full potential. I expect that I will be glad of this tomorrow, though.

The big news is that I wore my wonderful pretty black strappy (yet also ballet-shoe-like) shoes today, and they were comfortable! I am paying per byte of data at the moment, and so I cannot post a picture of them (also, I haven't yet gone quite so far as to persuade anyone to take a photograph of my feet). I am also uncomfortable with promising to post a photo of them at some future point in time, as this then means there is another thing I can fail at. Please just imagine black ballet shoes with a little heel, but slightly nicer, and with a strap which wraps round the ankle. If you are imagining them properly, you will probably see why I am so pleased that they are comfortable.

The wedding was fun. We saw birds of prey, which is something we don't get to do every day (although HWSNBN does most Sundays). The food was excellent. I had forgotten to let them know that I shouldn't eat gluten, and had to live with the consequences of this. The starter was a tasty tomato, goats' cheese and pesto tart (I ate the top, and pretty much avoided the base), the main course was chicken, sauce and vegetables (the sauce so had wheat in) and dessert was a roulade (made of meringue - it traditionally doesn't have wheat in, but this tasted a bit funny...). Now my tummy doesn't quite feel happy, but the consequences could have been much worse. They still could be, for that matter!

Afterwards, I was able to fob loads of things off on my friend. She wanted a pestle and mortar (I had one I really didn't need), an magnetic knife holder for a wall (ditto - unused) and probably nothing else, but I was also able to give her a candle holder, some soap that I made and haven't yet used and a load of other random body products. It has obviously hardly made a dent at all in the amount of crap I have around the house, but every little helps. It also means that I don't have to take some of that stuff to the charity shop, thus saving me some effort.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

I did some organ practice

I went to do a bit of organ practice at the Motherchurch after martial arts yesterday.

As I have already discussed, I used to be quite nervous in a big, dark church all alone, but have managed to overcome that, mostly. Alas, yesterday I took a bit of a step backwards. On the committee in which they decided whether or not the female organ scholar should be allowed to use the organ scholar keys, apparently one lady was genuinely concerned for my safety. Presumably this, combined with the dark, isolated, surrounded-by-many-places-to-hide car park, made me think that perhaps there was a risk of being attacked, or something. I went into the church with trepidation, and exited it with trepidation also.

This is very annoying. The Motherchurch feels like a safe, welcoming place, and being scared is a bit too girly for my liking. No doubt a few more sessions of turning up late and staying later will reduce this.

I did get some fairly good practice in. I have realised that I am not even trying to find which pedal I am supposed to play by feeling for the ones that stick up, and so decided to do some sightreading to make myself try harder. I think that this worked a bit. I am also getting to grips with a couple of the pieces that I am playing. Not up to a suitable standard, of course (this is still me we are talking about - my standards are very high, but I do not quite have the capability to live up to these standards), but they may one day get there. I have to get good at this thing at some point!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Time off drawing to an end...

Well, my little holiday is very nearly over. I feel like my biggest achievements during the period have been eating approximately a quarter of my bodyweight in chocolate and other sweet things* and making the dent in the settee a little deeper. However, this would be doing myself down. I also knitted a few comparatively neat rows in my current project,** without creating any additional stitches for long enough for them to become incorporated, and decorated the larger part of a room within 24 hours.

Damn - now I've given away the best bits. I may as well stop writing now for all the entertainment it will give. But, you know, I have over a week's worth of bloglapse guilt to assuage, and so I shall jolly well give a better account of how I have used this past week.

The week off started with a visit to the parents' house. They have better Internet than I do at the moment, but I do not blog from their house so that they do not accidentally stumble across this blog due to it being in that little bar thing into which one types web addresses. It would be a disconcerting blow to discover that their dearest darling daughter indulges in such a waste of time as blogging. Given my track record for wasting time, however, it should not surprise them too much, if they think about it.

That visit ended with a successful kidnapping attempt - on the Saturday evening, we left with Anne aboard. She did not put up much of a fight, and I scarcely had to use any force at all. Poor child. On Sunday morning she came to church with me (babysitting facilities are not excellent around here), but sulked significantly less than last time we tried that trick - it was very hard to tell that she was sulking at all. After church, we went to a local seaside resort to visit the supermarket, and I spent nearly all of my money. In a supermarket. Yes, I did feel a little stupid when I realised what I had done. I also felt a little broke - for this past week I have been living on £2.88 and my overdraft. Payday is tomorrow, thank goodness.

Upon leaving the supermarket, I realised that the car park was a pay and display one. Fortunately, nobody had done anything about my lack of a displayed ticket (although I would have been arguing strongly against a parking ticket, having just given the supermarket most of the rest of my money). Then we went home and I proceeded to make lunch, eat lunch, and sit on my bottom in a most unproductive manner. Anne put an end to my sitting, eventually, insisting that we should go to the Motherchurch so that I could get some practice in before my lesson that afternoon. Thank goodness she insisted then - I arrived just as Mr T, the choirmaster (you didn't know Mr T did choirs, did you?) arrived; he was setting up for the Girls' School's evening concert rehearsals, which were due to start as soon as somebody actually turned up. I got in about 10 minutes of particularly essential and productive practice, without which my lesson would have been extremely embarrassing, before rehearsals started and we scarpered. I did another hour of hanging around, dragging the unfortunate and remarkably patient Anne with me, then returned for my organ lesson. This went well, thank goodness; my last-minute practice was not in vain!

This having been achieved, we returned home and started on the serious business of making Easter eggs. I must say, if one is to engage in this tiresome task, a minion is practically essential. I don't know how I managed without one for so many years. We didn't make any, on account of it being quite late in the evening, but it was a start.

The next morning, HWSNBN was at work, and news came that he was off to Slightly Foreign Parts the next day with work, and was to stay there for a couple of days. Anne and I sprang into action: we went to the paint shop and bought carefully-calculated amounts of white and magnolia matte emulsion, some brushes (have just remembered that one still needs cleaning) and some white gloss paint, plus some sugar soap for cleaning the walls, but no rubber gloves, and in the process spent pretty much the rest of my money. Anne carefully stashed these away under the stairs, with the other paints, so that HWSNBN would not notice them upon his return home. Which he did not, as he does not look under the stairs habitually, and also they were with the other paints (the ones that came with the house) - camouflage!

Oh yes, and we also made about 12 full-size Easter eggs, plus a whole load of mini ones. I stayed up until 1am making sure that the last one was ready to set quietly, without causing any trouble. I did some painting while I was waiting - I painted some squares in different shades of pink, purple and blue. My artistic flare knows no bounds.*** I would like to say that I didn't go over the lines (yes, I drew out a grid first) once, but I think that it would be more accurate to say that I stayed within the lines about 20 times (i.e. there were 20 lines that I did not cross - in other words, probably about 15 squares had one or more edges which were as I intended). And some of these times I stayed within the lines, I then went over the line from the other direction, thus negating all of my good work. There is an excellent reason why I do not call myself artistic.

The next day dawned bright and early. We stayed in bed for ages. Well, HWSNBN didn't - he went to work at the usual time, then went to Slightly Foreign Parts at about lunchtime. We started emptying the room as soon as we were suitably conscious, and started to wash the room as soon as we were able. About 1 1/2 walls in, Some Guy, Serena's person, came round for lunch. The poor thing had to wait until we had finished washing the walls before I fed him. This took a while, during which time we discovered that the Mysterious Stains (there were two really mysterious ones, one of which had been hiding behind the curtains) would wash off with a judicious mixture of sugar soap and elbow grease, and also that whoever painted last did a truly shoddy job.

After lunch (to disclose a bit more, I started to prepare lunch at about 2.30, I think. Bad me - terrible hostess), Some Guy helped to rinse the walls. He was much better at it than Anne, possibly because he had more to prove, possibly because he had a longer reach, possibly in order to illustrate the importance of choosing one's minions carefully and not just taking one because she puts up little resistance and hugs one a lot. I think that is a bad way to choose a minion. Anyway, after that had been accomplished, Some Guy left, and we started to paint.

Oh, how I love to paint! The washing of the walls tends to be tedious (although these were less so than usual by virtue of their small size and interesting markings, and because it was so satisfying), the rinsing of the same moreso (same again, but with less motivation), but the painting is great fun! Obviously, I did the ceiling first - if one does this, one can be as messy as one likes at the edges and then tidy up later with the wall paint. Whoever painted last had obviously not bothered with the ceiling (nor with proper edging techniques) as there was a ring of blue paint round the boundary between the wall and ceiling; I was determined to do a better job. Although I would probably have done a better job than them had I painted the room using my hair as a brush, such was the poor effort they made.

Anne did a bit of painting too. I must confess that I didn't let her use the roller nearly so much as I ought, as it is my favourite bit and I am a greedy big sister. Fortunately for me, Anne is very tolerant and adoring. Silly girl. She didn't use the brush much, either, although I do not rate that as a fun job and was mostly just saving her the effort.

After that, I decided that we should have take-away for tea. The one I wanted to visit was shut, but we stopped at a cash machine by it. This is when I discovered I had a bank balance of £2.88. Anne decided that pancakes for tea would make an agreeable change, as she mostly has to eat sensible food. So that is what we had. They were very nice, and we had 1/2 of 1/5 our daily fruit and vegetable allowance each from the lemons we squeezed onto the pancakes. I only had to reprimand Anne once for excessive application of sugar, although I must confess that I only checked it once...

Then we (I) did the gloss paint. That was satisfying. The old gloss was quite horrifying, and this new stuff made a big difference. Once again, we got to bed extremely late. This time, Anne had to share with me as I had packed her bed away and she didn't want to sleep downstairs with the slugs.

The next day was Ikea day! Of course, I was late. We had to put some items back within the newly-decorated room and I had to re-paint the gloss that was visible (some skirting boards, round the window, and all stuff associated with the door), but then we visited the marvellous store itself. Wow. There were lots of items of furniture. The bed frame I want was reduced. I had to not buy it because it was too big for my bedroom. I did get some large lampshades, some waste paper bins, a shelf for the kitchen and some mini-shelf-things for my room. Then I forgot my credit card PIN, and had to use the joint account card instead. Whoops. Still haven't remembered that PIN. That is probably for the best.

Then I de-kidnapped Anne, and returned her to her rightful owners. I stayed for dinner, then went home at night while the traffic was quieter, and drove straight into a massive queue, in which I sat for about 40 minutes.

The next day I tidied up a lot more, then spent a couple of hours wrapping paper boxes in wrapping paper. This made the boxes prettier, and got rid of some excess wrapping paper. Now I only have about 3 years' supply. I also realised that the old paint I had used in my room (there was some left over from a previous decorating attempt. It was the appropriate brand and colour, and I decided not to waste it. Had I not used it, I would have run out of paint; it turns out that my careful calculations were relying too heavily on the truthfulness of the coverage written on the side of the paint tin, which were not entirely accurate), which had smelled a bit funny, was probably a bad idea; the room smelled funny. A bit like eau de cat wee - not the parfum, but a subtle smell designed to repel gently. I opened the windows and burned some fragrance oil. I also discovered that different sections of the wall smell different - it is possible to tell where the old paint was used, and which sections got lucky with new paint. I think that it will get better as the paint stays in situ for longer.

HWSNBN arrived home just as I had to set off for church. This was lucky, as my car had a dishwasher in the back; in a total lack of plot continuity, this appeared on Wednesday evening when my parents relinquished it to my care as they had a new one. I took HWSNBN's car, and thus didn't turn up to church with a dishwasher in tow. I am not sure what sort of a statement that would make.

After the church service I had plans to return home and cook dinner. Alas, these were messed about with my another choir member who asked me if I would accompany them to the pub. I apologised and said that I would not be able to come and then let my guard down. This was a mistake - he said that I should come just for one drink, and I did. We tried to go to the usual haunt, but it was full of people who thought that Maundy Thursday was an excellent excuse to go out drinking, and ended up in a much refurbished and new-ownered pub which had previously been quite dodgy. Somebody bought me a drink (which was good, as I had no money) and some cheese also turned up. Bonus! The choirmaster and organist were there, and there were a few male choir members and a hanger-on. All of the female choir members, with the exception of myself, are under the age of 18 - I don't think that women accompany them to the pub very often. It was a pleasant experience, though.

HWSNBN didn't seem particularly upset by my late return home, although he was not entirely impressed with the dishwasher extraction process with which he then became heavily involved. The dishwasher was moved to the kitchen with only a minor amount of fuss, and is still sitting in a thoroughly inappropriate place, which will not permit any actually washing of dishes to take place within it. I may remedy the situation tomorrow...

The next day, HWSNBN was at The Field, working on getting a large shed-type structure up. I went to church at 2pm, then to the choir practice at 6.30 - it was a big one, in preparation for Easter. I went to the pub again, and I was able to furnish some actual information about the organs that will be installed in the Motherchurch, hopefully starting within the next year or so. That was nice - it is fun having actual information. I did not, however, have enough, and could provide no information whatsoever on the pressure of air that would be used within each organ, nor the pressure within the extra loud trumpet they are having installed. I rushed back from the pub, only to find that HWSNBN was still in the vicinity of The Field. I did see the second half of the first bit of the new Red Dwarf thingy, though.

Saturday was a day of little happening. I was lazy. It was nice. Except that I had realised that I hadn't actually made an Easter egg for Anne. I think that I may have overcompensated a little, by making her the biggest, most Smartie-filled Easter egg I have ever made.

Sunday, of course, was Easter. The service was fine, and people generally didn't seem to notice the obvious deficiencies in my voluntary at the end - same old triumphant thingy, and still full of mistakes. It's not complicated, but requires a level of technical proficiency I obviously do not try hard enough to attain. After church was lunch, followed by visiting HWSNBN's mum, then my parents, followed quickly by dinner at my aunt and uncle' house. There, we went fishing. Uncle McMillan's big goldfish are living in the higher of two ponds, connected by a little overflow. They spawned, and the babies fell into the lower pond, thus deftly avoiding being eaten. Now he has more fish than he knows what to do with, and so gave some to Mother. I managed to catch six at once, and therefore I won (because that is what it's about). I also think that I caught the biggest one, although I didn't see the big one the others caught and therefore have no actual evidence on which to base this. They were all being infuriatingly non-competitive about it, anyway.

We played a board game as a family which did not descend into any type of warfare, open or otherwise. This was a bit weird. I wonder if it is the combination of HWSNBN's calming influence (he plays by the rules, and stuff) and having three teams, none of which was entirely composed of men. Anyway, our team won. It was quite lucky, I suppose. I had to mime "sick as a parrot", and was fortunate enough to be standing next to a parrot in a cage at the time. Most people do not have that advantage. They didn't get my Indiana Jones for ages, and they didn't get Del Boy at all, despite my making it perfectly clear that I was driving a three-wheeled vehicle. HWSNBN's "passion wagon" was hampered by the steam he kept drawing out of it - it really did look like a train. But it is the winning that counts, of course! Actually, I particularly enjoyed the friendly spirit in which it was played, almost as though the losers would not be executed at the end. Which they were not. So that was nice.

The next day, I managed to sleep in until 1pm. Apparently, I was tired. Anne built a "tree" "house", which was more like a stump shelter, but which was nonetheless rather a fun structure. The parents keep some particularly good scaffolding in their garden and basement, which is the basis for many excellent climbing frames. This was no exception. It was good to climb on, and had some planks. I spent much of the afternoon clearing out some of my crap from the landing outside my room in the parents' house. I am glad that task has been started.

Today I have done little. I took the car for an MOT (it failed - needed new windscreen wipers, which it now has) and ate some prawns and chocolate. I knitted a bit, then went to martial arts, then ate some more. And I read a book. Lovely day - wish that I could have similar days all week. Alas, tomorrow is my last day off, then I have 2 days of work before the end of the week. Oh, and HWSNBN is back in Slightly Foreign Parts, but I have no more decorating to do. I may settle for plumbing in the dishwasher, although I shall have to watch its first cycle so that I can get mopping if necessary.

Oh, and I read the Goldfish's post about blogging against disablism day. I really want to participate, but I have no clue what to write about. I suspect that I will fail to come up with anything profound (I will probably come up with something like "be nice to disabled people; they are inspirational" and end up with death threats) and will thus not write anything and pretend it never happened, while reading others' submissions avidly. Does that sound bad? Time to start digging, then! I tend to find that the standard of writing for Blogging Against Disablism Day is very high, and have my own theory as to why this is. It is as follows: disability does not discriminate; it affects really intelligent, eloquent people, and also affects people who are less so. Many of the intelligent, eloquent people who become disabled find themselves with time on their hands that they would not have had without a disability, and so they write blogs. Because these blogs are interesting and well-written, and I know about them, I read them. I then find that I am enlightened, to an extent. Of course, I am still me, and still very clumsy, and therefore most adept at saying thoroughly inappropriate things; enlightenment can only take me so far when I have this nasty little habit of putting my foot in my mouth and leaving it there for long periods of time. Anyway, nobody will ever read this far, so my ravings are safe until somebody types an offending phrase into a search engine and notoriety (in a weak, crappy way) ensues.

And on that note, having attempted to spell "foot" as "fut", I think that it is time for bed.

*OK - I exaggerate - probably about 1/120 of my bodyweight, if that.

**A scarf, of course. I figured it was best not to start too complicated.

***People whose artistic flare knows bounds such as, for example, the lines they are meant to stay within sometimes do better at art than I. Let me tell you, those geography lessons in which we had to colour in maps were a nightmare. I also couldn't seem to colour very evenly. Additionally, my handwriting has always been terrible. Model pupil, me.

Friday, 3 April 2009

A Break :-)

Another week is nearly over. Next, I get some holiday!

I have really been looking forward to this holiday - it would be an excellent chance to catch up on everything in a relaxed fashion if it wasn't for the fact that I am me and will therefore either pack my days so full that I don't get any time off, or sit around watching the television. HWSNBN was due to go to Dublin for the first week, which would have meant that I had the house to myself and could get on with tidying, etc.. I don't know what is wrong with me, but I only really seem to be able to motivate myself to tidy when I am alone in the house; people are very distracting.

Of course, I have Anne coming to stay with me for a few days. I shall be removing her from her home on Saturday evening, and returning her (via Ikea - she's a strange child and likes that sort of thing) on Wednesday afternoon/evening. This will disrupt the tidying, but will facilitate the Easter egg making; she should have the enthusiasm I am so sadly lacking after so many years of chocolate pouring.

If HWSNBN does go away, we will also launch a sneak decorating attack on my room. It has a mysterious stain on one of the walls, which somebody has tried so hard to remove (unsuccessfully) that they have scrubbed though the magnolia paint to the blue paint beneath. There is also blue-tack liberally dotted over the walls. Our contract says that we are not to use blue-tack, but apparently previous tenants have not felt constrained by this. Mother has some special anti-stain paint I can use as an undercoat over the mysterious stain and the blue-tack marks (when the blue-tack has been scraped off, of course), so they shouldn't represent a long-term problem.

HWSNBN does not want to decorate any of the house at all. He doesn't seem to like it very much, and thinks that the best thing to do about this is nothing. I am finding this very hard - I have a very strong decorating instinct. I want to paint all of the dodgy bits so that they are shiny and clean*. He just wants to move out as soon as possible. I suppose that decorating does affect him a bit, as he has to put up with the furniture being moved about while the walls are being washed and the paint is being applied (unless he is in Dublin, in which case he could return home to a shiny** new room. I don't think that this would go down very well). I don't quite understand how he can just live with the peeling window frame and dodgy colour-co-ordination in the bathroom. I suppose he can't, really, which is why he decided that we wouldn't move here. Even so, it's frustrating!

The Ikea trip could well be very productive. I need to buy three bins (one extra for each of the extra rooms we have in this house, and one for joinery) two rails for hanging up pans in the kitchen and a partridge in a pear tree. Or perhaps just a small set of shelves onto which I can put some boxes full of food, in lieu of a suitable number of cupboards. And, of course, I shall end up buying some random crap I don't need. At this exact moment in time, I can't think what else I could possibly want, but I don't think my resolve will be quite so strong when I see some random shiny thing I will suddenly wonder how I ever managed to live without. Oh. It's started already. I need (really, really need!) some large round paper lampshades for the ceiling lights. The previous house was tiny so we had to buy tiny lampshades so that it didn't look stupid, and so that we could get past them. This house has high ceilings, so we can get away with big lampshades. If Ikea doesn't have them (it doesn't have them in the biggest size, which is the one my parents need for their house; hopefully the next size down will be available) I can go to Habitat in Chester. This is always fun. It's a few steps up from Ikea, both design-wise and price-wise, but it is difficult not to buy the pretty things.

The organ playing is coming along slowly. I have managed to get in a few hours this week, although it has been a struggle. The prelude is starting to sound quite good, although I can't even get through the first page without making a mistake (or at least a slip), let alone the other three, but I think that a few more weeks work will fix it. I will then get to play that before or after one of the Sunday services. The Priere a Notre Dame looks really easy, but is actually really hard. It is coming along painfully slowly. At least if it looked a bit hard I would find the mistakes less frustrating. The hymn I am playing is getting there; I get most of the notes right, and am managing not to hit additional keys while pressing the magic buttons that change lots of stops at the same time. Well, most of the time, anyway.

Tomorrow, I hope to convince Dave the Organist to let me have a go on his organ for a few hours. I could really do with the extra practice, and his organ is one of the better ones on which to do this. It's really nice, and quite large; its tone is impressive. I started to learn to play the organ on it, and it is always fun to re-visit it.

I really want to learn some new stuff, but I'm having enough problems with what I have already. It is very frustrating! Some of the stuff I want to learn is reputed to be quite difficult, but I like a challenge! Except for while I am actually working on overcoming the challenge, at least. But when the challenge has been overcome it can be satisfying.

Have a great weekend!

*Well, matt and clean, anyway; I always use matt emulsion, as silk emulsion annoys me. Shiny walls are the devil's work. They show up every imperfection, and although I don't mind a bit of imperfection in my walls, I certainly don't want to advertise it.

**See * (Sorry - couldn't resist. Yes, my life is dull.)