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.