Sunday, 20 November 2011

Via SMS

This is an actual conversation I had with Anne earlier this week, by text message.


Anne: Did you poo on the kitchen floor?

Me: Not that I noticed. It's not the sort of thing that one normally lets skip out. Mince pie?

Anne: Nope it was definately poo

Me: That is very strange. No idea. Have you checked for wild animals? Also, where was it? I didn't notice anything when I went in this morning.

Anne: By the dishwasher

Me: Didn't step there this morning and can shed no further light on the mystery at this time. Although someone had put Daddy's keys outside my room, which was odd. They have the same Honda key fob, but I would expect Daddy at least to be able to tell the difference.

Anne: Meh


Two things:

  1. We haven't yet solved that particular mystery. Anne says it was me. I maintain that if that was the case, a bit of stray poo is the least of my problems.
  2. Yes, my text messages are really that long. "Skip" was a predictive text typo, though: I meant to say "slip".

Sunday, 30 October 2011

NaNoWriMo

I have signed up for NaNoWriMo this coming November. Basically, what this involves is writing a 50,000 word novel over the course of the 30 days of November.

Right now, I am confident that I can do it: I have a plot, which is more or less workable, and also have a small cast of characters. I shall, of course, be writing something clich├ęd, of the "this has been done before" variety. There will be a princess, some fairies, a witch, and several princes. I rather suspect it will end up in the "feminist literature" category, although probably not in a particularly readable way.

As a result of this, there will probably be a change in frequency of my blog updating. I would probably initially hypothesise that the frequency of posting would be likely to decrease, but that would suppose that I am not in need of procrastination; the rate could increase instead. It is likely that I will be unwilling to engage in writing which does not advance me towards my 50,000 word count, however, so it could be that I will say pretty much nothing to my devoted multitude of readers this November. Sorry about that.

You should do it, too. NaNoWriMo, that is.

(You totally shouldn't. It's a stupid idea. I'm actually only doing it as an excuse to meet some new people; that's how hard it is to make friends when one returns to one's home town after finishing University, but one's friends have all moved away, and one finds oneself without any particularly sociable interests. Funnily enough, I have made few friends through the medium of organ practice.)

Have a lovely November!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

On correcting people

So, I heard that people don't like to be corrected. Apparently it annoys them. One would therefore assume that my habit of correcting people isn't generally taken to be a charming idiosyncrasy, but is instead taken to be one of the symptoms of my general annoyingness.

Having thought about this carefully, with a little guidance from Henry (who found me to be overly critical, and would probably have done well to tell me about that at the time), it has become apparent that I need to stop correcting people. Furthermore, I need to chill out about when people do things that are not my way, and refrain from judging them. Judging other people is also seen to be a bad thing, I believe.

Why would a person correct another person, though? What right does person A have to say to person B "It doesn't work like that"?

From my own point of view, I correct people for (I would guess) three reasons. The first reason is that I perceive a problem with something they are doing, and want to save them the hassle of doing it in a less efficient way, then having less good results, having to do it again, or possibly breaking something, or failing to achieve the original purpose. That has a certain amount of usefulness when I myself am correct, and absolutely no usefulness at all when I am incorrect (except that I get experience of being wrong, which helps me to learn, and I get taken down a peg or two, which is probably very good for me).

The second reason I correct people is because they are making a grammatical mistake, generally while speaking, or a mistake somewhere in their writing. I will generally do this because I believe that good spelling and grammar are intrinsically better than poor spelling and grammar, and that by correcting something I am both helping with that person's education, and helping to make their particular piece of writing better.

The third reason I correct someone is if they are both really annoying me and, to my mind, wrong. I do this to annoy them back.

The first two reasons for correcting people do appear to be motivated by good intentions. I believe that the road to Hell is paved with them. Lucky me. The third is not, so it may not send me directly to Hell. This is, to my mind, a positive thing.

I think that the question of when to help people is a good one. As is that of how to help people. Is it a good thing to help people, or is it better to leave them be?

I wonder if my "helping" people is not a problem simply because it involves words and not actions. Having said that, sometimes actions can get in the way, too. Sometimes, it's best just to let people get on with their own thing, and to help them to pick up the pieces, if necessary. Also to learn from their way of doing things.

Ooh - this is a spectacularly poorly-written and thought-out blog post. Sorry about that. Perhaps I will edit it, or perhaps you can correct me in the comments. It will annoy me a little, I expect, but one should be prepared to take what one dishes out.

Hey - I've just felt an entirely new sort of despair - one that I've never felt before. Wow. I hadn't realised despair could feel like that. It's a feeling that came up the front of my chest, went over the top (only about halfway), and came back down the middle - it felt like it went round my heart and told it it didn't deserve to be happy; it felt like newly-reborn and unexpected hope being snatched away because it was wrong to be hopeful in the first place, and I was stupid for thinking otherwise. Isn't it fun to be human, and to experience all of these feelings? Ha! Oh, the joy of being alive.

Anyway, I have resolved to stop correcting people unless they actually need it. Examples of people who actually need it include people to whom I am providing an actual educational experience (they don't need correcting, generally: they just need to be asked the right questions so that they can correct themselves), and people who just asked me whether or not what they just said, did or wrote (or what they are about to say, do or write) was (is) correct, and people who are just about to run a red traffic light.

Regarding judging people: apparently that's God's job. It is acceptable for me to judge the standard somebody is reaching while I am teaching them, so that I can help them to improve (it's in the job description), and the standard of people's work if it is my responsibility. It is acceptable for me to judge the behaviour of my children (who, fortunately for them, do not exist) so that I can ensure that I am parenting them to the best of my ability. It is acceptable for me to look at somebody else's behaviour and decide that it is not something I should be doing myself. I'm not convinced it's acceptable for me to judge much else, though. Comments?

In other news, the job's wonderful. Taking it seems, so far, to be one of the better decisions I have made with my life. If I go to work in a bad mood, I tend to feel better by the time I leave. I did three hours of overtime today, and it was a thoroughly pleasant experience. Speaking of which, I must get myself an audio book from the collection and get to bed, in preparation for a long journey, followed by a long day, followed by another long journey tomorrow. And a 6am start.

Actually, starting work at 8am feels normal now. I hate it just as much as I used to hate 9am starts, and get it right an awful lot more often. Now 7am is the new 8am. My 6am start, of course, refers only to the time I have to wake up (I leapt out of bed as the alarm went off at 6am this morning; clearly I had been a bit anxious about oversleeping); I don't have to be in work until 7. At which point it will be dark. Again. I have keys today, though, so I can pick up the van and scarper as soon as I arrive. (You should see the size of my keyring today. Usually it's quite big, but today it has an extra bunch of keys I borrowed, and a van key attached. It is more than twice as big and heavy as usual, and that's saying something.)

Oh, what a change: talking about work makes me happier. May it always stay that way.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Erm?

Winter got frightened, apparently. Although the trees continue to do their autumn thing, the weather is very firmly in summer mode.* This means barbecues, evenings in the garden and trips to the pub. Also, the wearing of summer clothes. As a person whose summer T-shirts have just started to fit her again, this is good news. As a person who, just this morning, re-discovered her favourite jeans, this is of little consequence: jeans work in the cold, too. The re-discovery of the massive goth pants, and the nearly-fittingness of them, is just a bonus to be appreciated in a few weeks.

There's not a lot of point to this blog post. I just wanted to look back in a few years and remember the hot October day when I had lunch with an old friend, then went shopping, then went for a drink outside, then wasted the evening on the Internet.

*I would say that it is back in summer mode, but it didn't really try this summer. I suppose I got a few days at Greenbelt, and probably various other assorted days when I was stuck inside churches or the workshop, but this summer has been a letdown. Again.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Winter is coming...

It's still keeping its distance (I think it might not like it when the trees have too many leaves, or something), but it won't be long now before the top accessories in my house will be hot water bottles, and radiator hugging becomes the most popular pastime second only to lighting the fire in the living room. (Then sitting by it, of course.)

My bedroom is at somewhat of a disadvantage on the cosiness front, what with being on the corner of the house, directly beneath the roof: I have more external sides on my room than are available in any other bedroom in this house. Of course, my room has all of the natural cosiness advantages which go with a low, partly sloping ceiling, a lovely plush carpet, a warm colour scheme and my natural flair for making a place beautiful,* but it certainly does not win on the warmth front. When you think about it, warmth is an important part of cosiness.

I do, of course, have an excessively large radiator in my bedroom. When the radiator man came earlier this year to clean our system and fill it up with supermagic central heating fluid, he found it to be a great adventure: apparently he only ever came across small, modern radiators. Our behemoths are from the late '70s, and the majority of them could probably have you in a fight. Mine has two sections: front and back. This is common to most radiators in our house. I have no idea how much the back section helps; I expect that it staves off the bone-chilling cold which comes from the fabric of the house, in order to give its compatriot the chance to shine. Or something.

"Now this is all very well and good", I hear you say, "but what about the boiler itself? Is it a new and efficient boiler, or is it an old, cantankerous one, which drinks gas as though it is a liquid?"** Well, I am pleased that you asked. We did, in fact, have a lovely new boiler fitted only a couple of years back. Obviously it was a wrench parting with the boiler I have known for the whole of my life, but in my heart of hearts I knew it was the right thing to do.*** This new boiler, although it does not sit on the floor and thus denies us the luxury of having something on which to dry our socks, is rumoured to be more efficient, and certainly takes up less space.

With these excellent heating foundations we are capable of having a snug winter, even in our large, poorly-insulated Victorian house.

However, there is one more link in the chain. Daddy.

Mother doesn't believe in God. I think that she's wrong, but one has to accept that other people do not necessarily share all of one's beliefs. Daddy, however, is much worse. He doesn't believe in turning the heating on.

I mean, it's not as though it doesn't go on at all. For two hours every morning**** and evening, the boiler chugs away and the radiators do their thing. Unfortunately, in such a large house as this that doesn't go very far. Warm clothes are the order of the day, and my notactuallyasecretbutIpretendnottouseit fan heater is, erm, not useful at all, because I am dutiful and would never waste electricity on such frivolous activities as keeping my fingers and toes acceptable colours. The electric blanket goes back on the bed any day now, and I may actually have to start wearing clothes in bed again.

What I really wanted to share is that I've re-arranged my bedroom so that my settee (without arms this season: it's very versatile) is against the radiator, and my bed is far away from it, thus maximising both heat output into the room and sitting leaning against radiator potential, which will be excellent whenever I am in my room and the radiators are on. I would provide you with a photo, but I've not even thought seriously about tidying my room yet, and it needs a couple of additional hours spending on it first. By which point I will have forgotten all about it.

Still, the room looks a lot better. I have a lot more floor space available, except that there are an awful lot of books lying on it, which wouldn't fit into my bookcases. There is only one actual shelf remaining: the one holding Mother's ornaments. I extracted her desk from my room without any resistance or objection (to my immense relief; it took up an awful lot of space, and was ever so convenient for me to use as a place for stacking random crap, meaning that it always looked truly awful); I wonder if I could do the same for her ornaments. Or perhaps I should evict some of the books from my (her) bookcases and put them in boxes in Robert's room. All controversial stuff. Don't tell her I'm suggesting this, 'K?

Still, victory is mine already, on account of having reclaimed my bedroom from the forces of Camping, Other Holidays and Lack of Access to the Radiator. Once Entropy has been defeated, I shall be entirely there.*****

*Three of these things are real.

**That doesn't really work, does it?

***Also, it's my parents' house, so I don't get a say anyway.

****The two hours start at approximately the same time as I leave the house in the morning, so that doesn't help me all that much.

*****Probably very rich, also.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Some more months happened to me, too

Hello, all!

Life is continuing, as is its wont. Since I last posted here many happenings and developments have occurred. Hopefully, much learning has taken place; I think I find out about that when I end up in similar situations in the future and either use a better tactic, or fail miserably and simply use whatever tactic failed to work last time. I suspect the latter, but always hope for the former.

So, what's been going on? Well, I have used my drill. Once. I did make it so that the second battery fits into the carry-case (I used the perhaps overly-sophisticated technique of cutting a hole in the box where the drill bits probably wanted to sit. Except that the drill bits live in a container which would require more impressively major surgery to insert into the case, so I decided not to do that at all), so the drill hasn't been entirely idle. Sort of. Actually, I can't justify that statement. It has been idle. Had I bought one, currently one would be able to accuse me of wasting my money. I did take it to Greenbelt with me, but they had much better drills so I left it in the car.

Other than that, I have started to play for services (actual, full services, with voluntaries and everything!), probably more or less one Sunday out of four. The first service was, on an absolute scale of things, not really all that good. Fortunately, it was more or less good enough, and it fulfilled its main (for me) purpose of getting the first service on this monster of an organ without any pistons to aid with registration aids, out of the way. It seems slightly strange that I should be nervous about playing for exactly the same congregation as that which met downstairs over winter, but I have been told that it is stupid to berate oneself for what one feels, and should instead concentrate on reacting appropriately to that feeling; I didn't berate myself for feeling (actually rather) nervous, but instead concentrated on not playing too many wrong notes. The failing, ultimately, didn't matter.

The second service was better because it wasn't the first service. Unfortunately, I had neglected to realise that this service was a Communion service. This means that I was supposed to have prepared a quiet piece of music to play while Communion was taking place. My lack of preparation could have been a problem. Fortunately, I was able to dig out that Bach piece I learned really well that one time, and practise it in the choir vestry (on the table - no keyboard there). I went over the sections I was getting wrong a few extra times, and when I came to play it, it was nearly note-perfect. Result!

The third service was better still, because I remembered that it was a Communion service, and prepared something to play. Unfortunately I have now used up my repertoire, and will have to learn some new pieces. Additionally, it has become apparent that I need to get myself another teacher. Action must be taken; this organ isn't going to learn how to play itself.

(Oh, but it did get fixed. Not properly, or anything, but all of the stops currently turn on or off on demand, and we may even have every note on the pedals working (after a fashion) by next May; possibly even sooner. It is ever so exciting!)

I have been having a good time at work. The warm weather and new t-shirts we have have helped a lot, but the fact that it is the sort of work that I enjoy helps more. Holidays are still a treat, but are now far less of a necessity.

Additionally, I have been working on a list of favourite things. My current favourite thing in the world is an accessible toilet in a church (i.e. available and unlocked). My second-favourite thing is a heated church. This is second-favourite because it is only particularly helpful for about half of the year, and I can do things to make myself warmer without too much hassle. I can't do things to make myself warm enough, apparently, but warmer is a good start. After these, I suspect I like my pillow the most, very closely followed by my duvet, then my bed. Also, tea. After that, it becomes harder to prioritise. I like an awful lot of things, you see.

So, holidays. I went to Slovakia for a week and lost 2lbs. Most successful holiday ever. We looked at a lot of interesting views, and I took lots of photos on my new phone. This phone probably comes high up on my list of favourites, as it can put me to sleep, wake me up, keep me entertained via mp3s, take photos, make phone calls and send text messages. It has a touch screen, but I don't hold that against it. If it lasts for five years, I will consider it to have been an excellent investment! (How long do touch screens last, by the way? Probably not that long. Meh.)

My second holiday this year was Greenbelt. I volunteered for the site vibing team, which meant that we were putting up exciting decorations around the site before the festival started, then taking them down afterwards. It is, without a doubt, the best job: first there's the fun of making, assembling and putting things up; then there's the fun of having the entire festival free. After that, everything needs to be taken down again, but that wasn't too much of a problem. Apparently I was often good to work with, but that sometimes I should be less of a perfectionist in favour of getting the job done more quickly. The important thing is that I should be able to go back next year and do it all again. Next year, I shall be more trusting, and listen to other people's ideas more. If I do that, people will be less annoyed with me, so when I make my (obviously totally necessary) requests, people will be less inclined to throw sharp objects at my head (didn't happen, but I reckon this was down to good self-control), and more inclined to hold the ladder while I do it myself. Because it's always best to do these things yourself; other people won't quite do them perfectly! ;-)

Of course, membership of the vibing team had other advantages: my parking space was ridiculously close to the main entrance, and my tent was particularly close to where all of the action was happening, without being too close to the toilets. (Oh, the toilets: how I wish I could unsee them, and unsmell them. Mostly, they were excellent, but they had their moments of horror and gagging. One of them had a cute spider in it, though.)

I had decided to take a four-man tent with me, along with a foam mattress; I figured that I should spend my nine nights there in comfort. My tent hadn't been used for rather a lot of years, and whoever used it last didn't dry it out properly before it went away, so I had a fairly horrible scrubbing session the afternoon before I went away. Then I painted the mouldy bits with silk paint, to draw the eye from the nasty mouldy spots. Also, I sprayed the thing with Febreeze. It worked. What's more, the tent didn't leak at all, which surprised and pleased me immensely. As a reward, I shall not throw it away just yet; instead, I shall have a repairing session with some glue and some flexible waterproof stuff, so that the groundsheet within the sleeping compartment does not have any holes in it at all. The fake Duck tape I used didn't stick properly to the corners, so it has been removed.

I also made an actual new friend; one who lives locally. This means that I can pretend to have a social life from time to time, which will be a novelty.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Drill and organ; the exciting things in my life

Somebody recently said that they had read my blog, which reminded me that my job is to write it. Not my only job, fortunately, although I would probably be more prolific if it were.

Right now, my big news is that I have a brand new cordless drill of my very own. It makes me feel slightly sad that this is my big news, but I am sure that the novelty will have worn off by the middle of next week. I expect it to reappear when I actually get to use the thing. Which has two batteries! This means that it can be used even when the first battery goes flat! Hooray! Just something Daddy had lying around the house, unused. Natch.

Of course, I have inflicted some damage with it. I stood it up on its battery, which is a pretty standard manoeuvre to perform with the drills owned by my colleagues, and it fell over and made a dent in Mother's shiny wonder-table. Also a couple of other marks. Apparently my drill is a bit more top-heavy than its peers. That is because it is a Black and Decker, while my colleagues' drills start at Bosch and work up. Still, it is free and doesn't smell as though something died in it, which is what the old one (donated by a kindly colleague) would do had its battery not recently given up the ghost.

My next task is to adapt the case to hold the extra battery. This will involve some cutting and some swearing, I expect. It will be done somewhere Daddy cannot see; it might make him cry, then take back the drill. This is, of course, assuming that the case is big enough height-wise; there's no way it will fit sideways.

What else is going on?

My church is open again! Beforehand, some of my colleagues spent a couple of days inside the organ, and managed to get rid of loads of faults, and to get it into tune again. Then the humidity dropped by a long way, and it broke again. Big, loud faults, with the big, loud pipes involved (although they were just transmitting news of the faults; they were not actually involved. Thank goodness!). Also, an elephant noise from a quiet, important stop. Fortunately, a colleague was able to fix both these problems, and another one which was just waiting to show itself. Unfortunately, the day before the church opened again, another stop failed. The bit which broke is particularly inaccessible; when we pay our £8,500, this will be fixed, along with a lot of other problems just waiting to happen. Until then, we just have to hope for tall, thin, flexible and dedicated organ builders!

On Sunday I played my first hymn in a service on a church organ for a very long time; over a year, in fact. The introduction went quite well, actually. Verse 1 started badly and finished badly, which led to verse 2 starting badly, but after that it sounded as though I actually knew how to play the organ. Verses 3-5 were absolutely fine. And nobody complained. The organist sympathised with me. It should only get better...

Which leads to next Sunday. Not tomorrow; the one after that. I shall be playing the full service on my own, on the organ. Music beforehand, five hymns and music afterwards. I think that Charpentier's Te Deum Prelude is what will be happening afterwards, because I can more or less play it, but beforehand has not yet been decided. Probably the random crap I used to play before the service at St Isidore's. That should be easy enough to brush up; I must actually do that beforehand.

The five hymns may well turn out well. One of them is one I learned a while ago, and the other four are not. I must go and practise in a minute! Wish me luck!

Monday, 28 February 2011

I'm back!

Starting to take anti-depressants was an interesting experience. The only side-effect I noticed at first was the crazy dreams, which started just as I was falling asleep, and were suitably vivid and disturbing/weird that they woke me up at once. The third one was the strangest; after that I decided it wasn't worth trying to go to sleep after all.

I was lucky; that only happened on the first night. I did have a fair bit of trouble getting to sleep for a while after that, and spent hours listening to music and sleep hypnosis thingies in an attempt to make my mind go to sleep. With them, I could sleep; without, getting to sleep was a struggle.

When I returned to work, I did have a few problems holding things in my short-term memory. I would be asked to do something, and then forget immediately. Funnily enough, this caused a few problems at work. My workload wasn't quite as easy as it appeared to be, to me! Of course, at first I didn't realise what was happening. How is one supposed to remember forgetting things when one doesn't have much of a memory?

After I left work and went to mainland Europe for a few months, the only problems I noticed were when I reduced my dose. I would feel slightly nauseated every day around 5pm (and a lot of other times, too; that was the only consistent one), which would result in me working more slowly.

However, coming into this new job, I really started to notice the problems with my short-term memory. It took a lot of effort to keep an instruction or idea in my head longer than it took for something new to enter it. The moment a new thought entered my head, the old one was gone. This is all very well, but when one is holding keys and turns around to pick something up, it is generally considered useful if one can remember which key one is supposed to hold next. I feel that I have not necessarily impressed all of my colleagues a vast amount.

In December, I came to the conclusion that I has happy, settled and stable enough to come off the anti-depressants. However, it seemed to me that December, the most stressful month (in general), would not necessarily be the wisest month in which to do this. I waited until January, and was then given permission to do so by my doctor. That was good.

I came off anti-depressants completely two weeks ago on Saturday. Two weeks ago on Monday, I became ill. As I was recovering, I became ill again. As I was recovering from that one, I became ill again. By last Thursday, however, I was mostly feeling well again. Since then, I have noticed some interesting things.
  • For starters, things will stay in my short-term memory without me making a large effort to remember them.
  • I no longer have an overwhelming desire to sleep, sometimes, against which Pro-Plus is powerless (normally it takes six and some coffee, and still doesn't really work; today I took three, and it worked beautifully!). That's good; I was beginning to wonder if it was some form of narcolepsy.
  • I feel more alive, happy and energetic; as though doing things is a really good idea (although I wasn't exactly feeling bad in that department before).
  • My brain has started to work again. This is the big one! I can think of things and come up with useful solutions. My brain is full of ideas and questions. This is going to make me hell to work with - they already think my mind is overly enquiring. I am enjoying it. It's a bit strange that I didn't notice it going away, but I suppose I had other things on my mind.
Theoretically, I shall now be updating a lot more often. In practice, who knows? Initial indications are good, but will I have the stamina?

Find out this, and more on the next edition of Optistatic: not so static right now. Coming soon, to a blog near you.

(It's good being me again.)

Sunday, 27 February 2011

There appears to be a slight humidity problem...

When I returned from my foreign adventures, I was lucky enough to be called within a few days of my return, with an offer of a one Sunday out of four job playing the organ in my local church.* Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. After having to play five Sundays out of four for a while, I was certainly up for a job which involved less commitment. I was also overjoyed to have the keys to get in and play the thing once again.

However, all was not well. A few weeks into the preliminary period of my appointment, which mostly just involved getting keys and certainly didn't involve any actual playing of the organ (I was to start in January), the wall at the side of the church, the one which stopped other people's gardens from coming into church,** started to lean in a more exaggerated fashion than usual. Unfortunately, the pipe which carries the gas to the church's heating system runs along this wall. In a moment of brilliance, the PCC (or the architect, or somebody else quite important) decided to turn off the gas to avert a potential explosion.

This cunning plan may have saved the church and the people who live next door to it, but it did come with the disadvantage of making the church itself unusable for a congregation who does not like the idea of frostbite. As a result of the congregation's liking for maintaining body temperature within a range which can sustain life, all services have been moved to the church hall, underneath the church. In addition, they bought several new gas heaters. This means that church services currently take place in a cozy place, in the warm. I expect it has done wonders for the congregation's togetherness - everything is very close. The people even have to sit by each other. No empty rows here!

The organists' fingers are able to move, too. It's a great feeling, turning up to play and not going blue at any point, and on any part of the anatomy. Sometimes, I like to take off my scarf. I always take off my coat. I have even been known to remove my jumper. The piano lives next to a heater, which is lovely for one of us (hint: not the piano).

I am sure that you are currently feeling a bit concerned about what is going on in that big, cold, empty church at the moment. Let me tell you: damp. The humidity level regularly makes it up to 80%, and 91% is not unrecorded.

As I have a one-track mind, I confess that I am not worried about any part of the church, with one exception: the organ. The poor thing has spent so many days wet to the touch, and things started to drop off. Literally. So far, only one disc of ivory which was used to label the stop, but imagine if more had come off! We'd have to work out which label belonged on which stop. Too much like hard work. Additionally, bits of the organ stopped working, and bits started to work a lot better than they had done in the past. The Swell trumpet, for example, comes on more frequently than it is selected, and goes off less frequently. It is showing real dedication to the whole "being on" thing. This displeases us less during loud playing than during quiet playing. It can have a disruptive effect during quiet playing.

It all came to a head the day after I bought a humidity reader. The readings horrified myself, the organist, and my boss. Action was to be taken immediately. We put plastic sheeting round all openings to the organ, and installed three dehumidifiers, which have little heaters in them.

The installation of the sheeting was an adventure. The thing about big organs is that they are big, with vast swathes of fragile, expensive bits, just waiting to be squashed by an unsuspecting foot. The first hole we had to cover was the one at the front of the organ. It went about 3.5m in the air, at the level of the upper floor of the organ. (Yes, my organ is on two levels. Two big levels.) In order to poke it into the place where it needed to be, we used large bamboo canes. I am sure that scaffolding would have been easier, but where would have been the fun in that? Once the bamboo canes had been secured in place, the rest was easier. The console only needed a ladder, a staple gun, a knife and some tape. Don't worry - the stapling all took place where nobody but the very tallest person will be able to see it. It will all come out in the end.

When this was in place, we had to get a dehumidifier or three to dry the place out. This would have been easier had the shop had them in stock. I had to delegate that particular role. One has been installed at the console; the other two inside the organ itself. They get moved every day, when they are emptied. They only have a 6l capacity for holding water, so they need to be emptied every day. Except for the one that doesn't work. That doesn't need emptying at all, ever. I think it's going back tomorrow.

So, someone needs to go there daily to empty and move the dehumidifiers. It's certainly a good incentive to practise - may as well get some in while one is there. Also, the plastic sheeting round the console keeps it at what passes for a reasonable temperature when one is in a church. It's possible to move one's fingers, and everything! On the minus side, it is a bit windy with the dehumidifier. Keeps blowing the pages.

There's a recital on 8th May. By that time, the organ needs to be in tune and working. The dehumidifiers have a lot of work to do! And that's just the beginning....



*This is because it is the church I used to attend before I left to go to University. The organist knew me then, and still knows me know. In addition to this, he really wanted to take the occasional Sunday off. The speed with which he contacted me does not, alas, reflect the quality of my playing.

**Jesus did not have a mission to save gardens. So they can just jolly well stop trying to fall onto our land through some large, heavy sandstones piled several metres high to keep them in their place. Gardens, know your limits!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

...

The exercise thing is sort of continuing well, except that I took a particularly long week off. Fortunately, this coincided with a particularly long week during which I was ill three consecutive times. Had I not planned to take a week off, I would probably have taken one off anyway. This would have made me feel bad. I am therefore delighted with my decision to take a week off.

Up until a week ago last Tuesday, I was exercising 3 times a week, doing circuit training (the 1.5 mile run was a lie - it's closer to 2 miles), Pilates, yoga and climbing. My poor legs felt somewhat unhappy Mondays - Wednesdays, what with the occasional disconcertingly painful twinge whenever I moved wrong, or sat wrong, or just looked at anything wrong. In addition to this, I was unable to make a Sunday evening class due to being on a train. I think they frown on taking runs on trains, and I also couldn't be bothered. Pilates was cancelled, due to the instructor taking a holiday. Climbing kind of didn't happen because I decided not to go. It was a good break.

Alas, tomorrow is Sunday, and that means circuit training. Also playing at church. The latter is the easy task. In addition, I have taken on a certain amount of responsibility for emptying out the dehumidifiers in the church organ. Which is a whole other story. I think I will tell that at a later date. No point in confusing the issue here. It would be a shame to write an incoherent blog post without a proper point!

I did go corset shopping last weekend, and that was cheering. I was put in a 26" corset which felt very comfortable indeed. For a corset. Apparently I could have gone down to a 24" waist. I imagine that would have felt a lot more like I expected. This is in honour of my bridesmaid duties next March; we have to choose an outfit, and corsetry will be involved.

The end.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

It begins

I have, only this evening, taken part in my first circuit training session for, I would guess, about four years. To warm up, we jogged 1.5 miles.* It was a two hour session, not the one hour session I was expecting.

However, it hurt a lot less than I expected. This was because my body didn't have it in it to cover 1.5 miles of distance in a comparatively short time, hit some pads with some gloves, hold pads while an actual boxer girl hit them (I think she was holding back, but not entirely) and then keep moving for 10 lots of two minutes at different stations. I flagged. I stopped a lot, and didn't keep sweating during the last thirty minutes. By the time I had finished, I almost felt warmed down.

Now my body rebels when I try to climb stairs. Unfortunately, my clothes for tomorrow are downstairs, and I live at the top of a large house. I do not look forward to tomorrow!

On the plus side, I braved the big, scary circuit training class, full of big, scary people (who I didn't even consider before turning up to the class. Just as well, really), and over-paid 50p for the class. I have to go back next week to get my change, apparently.

So, my losing weight campaign has now begun in earnest. The difficult bit is underway. I should do before photos, but I don't think that I will. There are some things the world doesn't need to see.

So far, my new trainers have been little paragons of delight. I bought them earlier in the week, as the last pair I bought are well on their way to being thoroughly dead, and I appreciate having good footwear. They are the Avia 2053, and I bought them myself from T K Maxx, with my own money, and everything.** They didn't seem to need any wearing in, and they can psychically untie laces when one is in desperate need. Miraculous. They didn't even seem to mind my particularly wide feet, which is nice of them. At least one aspect of my person was prepared for the running component of today's little torture session.

I shouldn't have written this post at all. I was, in fact, simply procrastinating, as my next job is to go downstairs, and then to come upstairs again, with some clean clothes. Do not like. (Well, I like clean clothes.) However, I must brave the stairs and also have a shower. My colleagues deserve it.

*Well, nominally we jogged 1.5 miles. Certainly, I completed 1.5 miles, keeping going all the time except for when my wonderful, wonderful shoelace came undone just when I decided I needed a break for a few moments. Thank you, shoelace. I love you.

**A lie. With the credit card's money. But I pay for it next month with my own money.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

2011

Happy New Year!

I know. Late again. If anybody read this, they might be disappointed. The lack of an audience is very liberating.

I think that bloggers traditionally review a year, and then write their New Year's resolutions. As I appear to be struggling for content (an illusion! I am struggling for the motivation to write about the content), and it is always useful to record one's resolutions somewhere (not logical, I know. But I've started now), I shall write them down here. Not that I have any resolutions per se, but there is a list of things I must accomplish:
  1. Set up a pension. I promised myself I would do that this month.
  2. Buy a subscription to the tunnel so that I don't have to find change every morning, and so that it cannot mistake another 20p for 5p or 10p and thus steal my money.
  3. Become stronger and more flexible, through attending Pilates and yoga sessions, and through going climbing.
  4. Become more fit, through doing actual aerobic exercise.
  5. Lose three stone. This should be achieved by next March at the latest. It will be achieved by a combination of diet, exercise and drinking less wine.
  6. Buy a corset. Probably when I have lost 2 stone, or so.
  7. Learn how to play the alto and tenor parts of a hymn in 4-part harmony in the left hand, leaving the right hand free to solo the melody on a different stop.
  8. Stop biting my nails completely. It is not a good idea when working with lead, even if I wash my hands thoroughly and leave a gap of at least a day between working and biting.
  9. Be a good sister.
  10. Make more of an effort to get to bed on time.
So far, nothing is going badly except the pension thing. Actually, I achieved item 2 while in the process of composing this e-mail. Number 3 is well underway, and number 4 starts on Sunday evening. Number 5 will be very difficult indeed. Number 6 will be fine if I have the money. Number 7 is like learning to play the organ all over again. I do not like it. It will be very good for me. (It is not going badly because I am not doing it at all at the moment. If I were trying, it would be going badly.) Number 8 is fine if I keep a nail file on my person at all times. Number 9 will involve a lot of patience with the teenager, and being more thoughtful with the other two. I should visit them, and stuff. Number 10 is being broken as I type. Suggestions? "Just go to bed; it's not that difficult" will not be considered to be a helpful suggestion.