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.)