Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Numb

I need both to pee and to blow my nose.
Neither of these are pleasant images.
But what these things have in common is that Kini is fast asleep on my lap.
Fast, fast asleep.
So asleep I cannot bring myself to move.
I can no longer feel my legs.
My legs are as asleep as my cat.
Help me.
Send tissues.

Keeping It Brief

I'm still harbouring my germs and am utterly shattered but have spent tonight watching the season finale episodes of both The Walking Dead & My Mad Fat Diary.

The Walking Dead response as the credits rolled was "what the hell? That's it? meh"
Also, where in the hell is Carol? I need to know!
But still, I had a list of characters that I didn't want killing off and they did get to live.
After all this much is understood:


And as the credits rolled for My Mad Fat Diary? My heart was happy, I contained a whoop of joy. Excellent ending. I am joyous. Excellent. Super. Fabulous. Great!

And now to bed.
Tomorrow is April 1st, end of my self-imposed blogging challenge, we'll ignore the fact that it's officially after midnight, but I only missed 1 of 31 posts, so I'm giving myself a pass.

 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Mother's Day

Met up with Mum today as it's Mother's Day, so we could have some lunch.
I'm still sporting a great cough/sore throat/croaky voice/cold combo and feel a lot like crap, so I entertained Mum with my Kermit/walrus impressions.

So we get our lunch, I had a super quorn cobbler, I've never had quorn cooked like that and it was really lovely. Vegetarian food is so hit and miss, frequently painfully unimaginative so it's nice to be surprised!
There used to be this incredible little day cafe in the Lincolnshire town of Louth, I used to get excited about going there because the menu was so incredible for vegetarians.  Actually the whole menu was incredible. 
Then the last time I went it had been sold to new owners and the vegetarian menu was all but gone, just the standard single option.
I almost wept. I'm still sad about it!

Anyway....Mum & I get to the till and all Mums are being given a free cupcake! 
How lovely!
"Are you both Mums?" asks the lady at the till.
We indicate that Mum is the only Mum.
"I'm only Mum to a cat" I tell her.
She chuckles.
I'm mildly affronted that it doesn't actually count.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Song Of The Week LXIX

I've picked up a bug and haven't been feeling 100% but this morning I had to go to a 'knit' and natter group, and by knit I mean crochet.
It's been a pretty terrible week so getting ill on top of it has been the icing on a rather rotten cake!
Anyway, I needed perking up this morning so I decided to put on the album Shed Life by Sketch during my drive to the crochet class.
This led me to think about my belated Song Of The Week.
So here it is...

Sketch - Shedmau5:

In other news, following on from yesterday's post, this evening I uttered the words "Oh my, you look beautiful!"  These are perfectly normal words of course...however I was talking to an avocado at the time.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Out Loud

I talk to myself sometimes, and by sometimes I basically mean all the time that I'm alone. Although, obviously, I'm just talking to Kini the whole time, whether or not she's in the room...ahem.

Yesterday I uttered the following brilliant lines:

"Why is my cardigan in the wok?"
I'm still not actually sure why my cardigan was in the wok.

"Oh! It's a potato! I thought it was a really hard grape!"
I don't know how I came to possess  such a tiny, green potato.

For the record, I say some weird shit even when I'm not just talking to myself. 
I think my friends could happily vouch for that.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Further Farce

It is, I think, commonly understood that my life is pretty huge farce. Today was no different, just another ride on the farce train.

I didn't sleep well, so rolled out of bed and decided to head into town.
A spot of shopping later and a couple of huge bags of fruit & veg in the car I made my way home, as I drove down my street I noticed something in the road, just a short distance from my home. I parked up and wandered back to find a collared dove sitting in the gutter. 
It made no effort to fly away so I gathered it up in my cardigan and carried it home.  
As I got to my front door, I noticed a large box - I'd been sent flowers!
I love being sent flowers and it doesn't happen nearly often enough sadly!
So there I am, dove under one arm, trying to unlock the door with the other hand and then also trying to take in the flowers, with my tennis elbow screaming that I've made a poor decision.
I make it inside, I thank goodness that I happen to have an empty box in the conservatory from a delivery yesterday and in goes the dove to recuperate.
I carry the flowers through into the house, make it to the lounge where Kini has decorated the carpet with partially digested cat biscuits.
Awesome.
There's nothing I like more than when my cat has guffed everywhere.
On top of this, Kini was apparently livid that I'd had the audacity to leave the house and thus leave her alone, so she yelled at me almost continually until I fussed her (after I'd sternly advised her that if she hadn't guffed everywhere then I wouldn't be still ignoring her!)

Cheese on toast with mushrooms and pickle for lunch, before popping off to the doctor to get my beloved injection of Vitamin B12. 
I love my B12 injection so much, it's like coming back to life after being utterly exhausted.

After that...I went and collected my Dad, who's finally home after his accident on December 23rd.
He still has memory loss and needs carers to visit thrice daily, but hopefully his being back in his own home will give him his confidence back and he'll get his brain working again!
It'll take time, but he's just thrilled to be sleeping in his own bed tonight.
 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Popping Corn

Let's picture the scene, for weeks and weeks I'd fancied popcorn but not got round to making any, but the evening in question I finally got round to it.
The pan was on the hob, the kernels were in the pan, the heat was on, popping was due to commence at any moment.
And it duly did. There was popping aplenty, I regularly lifted the pan from the heat, held the lid and shook the pan to move the kernels around.
And then it happened.
It turned out I didn't have a very good hold on the pan lid.
I shook the pan and the lid shot off, coming to rest at the back of the hob with the handle facing away from me.
Popcorn was popping wildly, shooting off around the kitchen, I held the pan off the heat, but the heat in the pan was keeping it popping, it was going everywhere!
I reached for the lid and my brain screamed Don't be a bloody idiot that's going to be hot with your bare hands! for of course I couldn't reach the handle of the pan lid.
I realise I can't get my oven glove on with only one hand so I grab for a towel.
All the while the popcorn is continuing its avalanche into my kitchen.
For some reason it doesn't occur to me to simply put the pan down on the kitchen counter, no instead I continue to hold it in the air with my left hand, aiding the spread of the exploding corn.
It's safe to say that my hysterical laughter, interspersed only with my utterances of "shit! shit! shit! shit!" aren't really speeding up the proceedings.
Towel grabbed, lid grabbed, lid deftly manoeuvred into place.
Popcorn eruption finally controlled.
I survey the scene. Popcorn has travelled a distance of a few feet. It's over the worktop, it's over the floor, it's in pretty much every nook and cranny.
Oops.
It's hard to believe that any of it has succeeded in remaining in the pan, but it has and for the record it was delicious.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Reviewing Guffaws

Whilst I may be proud of my review of my hated printer, I have not managed to be as brilliant as these reviews of Amazon products...

Sugar Free Haribo Gummi Bears - as a warning, I am still nursing the aches from my guffaws at this one, I actually cried with laughter. Real tears! 

Kleenex Tissues. And you thought it was impossible to review tissues!

Veet for Men Hair Removal Gel Creme. I made some noises that can only be referred to as 'snortfaws', I have successfully managed to splice a snort with a guffaw.

Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer. So I may not have snortfawed but I was tickled!

Novelty Toaster. I'm not entirely sure if this one should have a NSFW rating....

Baker & Chefs Chocolate Pudding. I probably just enjoy The Walking Dead in-joke, because I'm a big kid.

For a wealth of delightfully funny Amazon reviews, you should also amble over here to tumblr.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Unparalleled Loathing

The title up there? That's the same title as one I just used for a review of a product on Amazon.
The product in question: my Epson Stylus S22.

Click the link to see the review, but if you don't feel like a click, I'm just going to copy & paste it here, so you can enjoy my ire.

Thus, my review:
I loathe this printer with so much venom it's not even normal.
You must be very precise in the amount sheets you put in the paper feed, one more than it likes and it'll jam, one less and it'll jam.
Unfortunately, the precise amount it wants changes with every use. This printer is the epitome of fickle.
You will have thoughts of violence that you didn't believe you were capable of.
But then, when you've spent the best part of an hour trying to print half a dozen documents, it's to be expected.
Print quality? Ha!
It'll slap a few gaps into the printing, you'll go off and clean the print heads and then you'll realise this was a foolish errand as it has now swallowed all the ink remaining in your cartridge.
Oh, and if you thought you might try a compatible cartridge instead of remortgaging your life to purchase a genuine Epson cartridge? Well more fool you, because Epson have jolly well outfoxed you there too. It'll just flat out refuse to do a damn thing.
And there's more...so you want to print a document, entirely with black ink, but you've run out of magenta ink? Well, frankly, at this point it sucks to be you, because if any one cartridge runs out, you will not be able to print a single thing. Nothing. Full stop. Actually, not even a full stop.
But I want to print in black you say, not magenta! I don't need your magenta! Tough doo-doo! No printing for you my dear.
If I lived in a fictional world where I had accrued enemies, I might actually foist this upon them, but not even a Bond villain actually deserves to be tortured with this atrocity.
Shame on you Epson!


Just to be clear, I really don't like this printer. At all.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Song Of The Week LXVIII

I have a folk music blog over here on tumblr, and as a result of the research that I've done for that blog I've been lucky enough to discover bands that I would most likely not have heard of otherwise.
This is one such band, I heard this song and immediately went and bought the album on the strength of this one song. 
And then I bought a second album.
Another one of my favourites! It's a bloody long list of favourite music isn't it?!

I Draw Slow -  Goldmine:


Thursday, 20 March 2014

Secretarial Duties

Before my break from blogging I mentioned that I was likely getting an allotment and I did indeed get my plot.
I haven't been able to get there this year with all of Dad's ongoing health concerns but this Sunday is the AGM. 
None of this is very exciting I know, but it's written into the constitution that officers can only hold a post for three years, so the treasurer, secretary & chairman have to be changed every three years.  
This year the chairman and the secretary come to the end of their three year stint and thus those two posts need to be filled.
Last year I volunteered to be a committee member, there's not a whole lot to it, going to regular meetings throughout the summer and going on a water rota every few weeks - where you attend on a Saturday morning & turn on the mains water to allow people to fill up their water butts if they've run low.
So they're after a new chairman and a new secretary.
I've somehow volunteered to be secretary!
So that's me with a new job for the next 3 years!

It's been slow going on my allotment, it's a large space and I can't afford to do everything in one go, so I've just been growing as much as I can and slowly adding more to my plot. Last year I bought myself a shed and got that erected.
I also bought a greenhouse but that is still waiting for another pair of hands to help me erect it. I need to build the wooden base first but I've no idea where to start!

I'm hoping this year to initiate a chicken time share on my plot!
I really want to have chickens, but I really don't want to have to visit every day, and I reckon there must be other people who only want to have to visit once or twice a week. So my plan is to find those other people and we can work out a rota of chicken care, getting allocated one or two days a week, and you get the eggs that have been laid on the day you're on rota to feed and water them. This is a genius plan is it not?

I've purchased a boat load of weed suppressing material this year so I intend to dig up and replant all my strawberries. I had a mammoth harvest last year, but without the weeds, they should do even better.

I have a path running down the centre of my plot and the beds on the right are for fruit and the plots on the left for vegetables. I'll be laying the weed suppressing material at the feet of the blackcurrants, redcurrants and whitecurrants and at the feet of the blackberry, tayberry and gooseberry bushes.  Hopefully I'll have plenty so that I can lay it around the globe artichoke bed too.
I decided to extend my globe artichoke, doubling it in size, despite the fact I had way more globe artichokes than I knew what to do with at their last harvest. I must be obsessed!

So, this year's jobs are to be the new secretary, build my greenhouse, get the weeds under control, put down the suppressing material, grow lots and lots of peas, have a better sweetcorn harvest than last year and possibly get a chicken coop made!
Anyone for digging?
Please? ;)

Bubbly

I missed yesterday's post, I was too busy having a hot bubble bath.
I started reading a new book on my kindle as I laid in the bath, but I'm not really enjoying it. 
After I got out, I headed over to Goodreads to tell it I had started reading a new book and decided to see what other people thought of it and I saw a slew of 1 star ratings, so I clearly wasn't alone.
But here's the thing, as I'm doing the Goodreads reading challenge this year does an abandoned book count as a finished book?
It's a quandary!
But I definitely don't think I can bring myself to finish it, I've got 20% of the way through it and it shows no signs of improving....

Oh well, I think I'll take myself off to my craft room, I have bunting to design and crochet information sheets to write, I'm nothing if not rock n roll.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Veggie Love

As I'm a vegetarian, I love vegetables, but it's wonderful to see that they love me back:

Isn't that adorable?!
I had a heart shaped mushroom once too. 
But I ate it.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Annus Horribilis

2014 did not start in the best way possible and in fact only now is it appearing to be shaping up and turning into a better year, I have high hopes for April.

On December 23rd at 3am I was in a deep sleep, a little later, around 3.30am I dreamt that someone was trying to steal my duvet and I was desperately trying to hang on to it.  I started to wake up and my Mum was standing over me pulling on my duvet and saying "Stephanie, come and help me with your Dad, he's fallen down the stairs".

Each Christmas my Mum, Step-Dad Tim, Dad, sister Siobhan & brother-in-law Aaron go away to a cottage. As we're scattered around England and France usually, it makes it easier to all get together.

I jumped out of bed and followed Mum to where Dad was laying, on his side, under the Christmas tree.  After talking to him briefly, Mum & I decided the best thing was to move him, so as we turned him over I saw the bump on his head and struggled to contain the shock on my face as I saw a bloody lump the size of a lemon on the side of his forehead. 
I sat myself behind me, in a way reminiscent of the way people sat on the floor to do the 'Oops upside your head' dance way back when, supporting him.  Mum dashed off to dial 999.

I sat with Dad, reassuring him it was all going to be okay, as he was obviously very distressed.  His pyjamas were soaked with blood and it was impossible to tell if he had further injuries.

A short while later and the initial paramedic arrived, she chatted away with us, then peeled away the towels we had on Dad's head wound. She gasped and light-heartedly commented on what a sizeable bump it was.  I felt my stomach turn.
Mum asked if I was okay and I nodded.
The paramedic called for a further ambulance to transport Dad to the hospital and carried on treating Dad, talking to him all the time, cutting off his pyjamas to check for further injuries. 
As she worked I started to feel a little faint.
Mum asked again if I was okay or did I want Tim to sit behind me and prop me up?
I voted for being propped up.
On carried the paramedic, we'd got Dad covered in a blanket to keep him warm as the next ambulance was going to be a while.
Mum asked again if I was okay.
I gently shook my head.
I was hastily removed from behind Dad and he was propped up on pillows.
I crawled on my hands & knees to the nearby lounge, laid on the floor with my feet in the air, feeling utterly ridiculous, there was Dad with a serious injury and there's me on the verge of passing out.
Mum came into the lounge and in my fuzzy vision I saw her moving and tried to move out of the way, but instead very skilfully tripped her up instead and she fell forward, saving herself.
I think the paramedic thought we were just a family of disasters.

When I'd recovered, knowing Dad was in good hands, I ran to fling on some clothes so I could accompany Dad in the ambulance and a while later three more paramedics arrived.

They'd have to get Dad onto a back board to move him onto the ambulance bed, so they split the backboard in two, sliding them in a half at a time. As they joined the two halves were joined together Dad started shouting "Ow! Ow! Ow!"
I start to worry that his hip, pelvis, legs, something is broken.
"Where does it hurt?" they ask him.
"You've trapped my bloody foot!" replies Dad
We all chuckle.
A paramedic leans over to free Dad's foot and as he does so his radio falls from his pocket onto Dad's leg.
His foot free the paramedic asks if it feels okay.
"Well it felt fine until some bugger dropped stuff on it!" Dad exclaims.
More chuckles.

We're loaded into the ambulance after a debate about which hospital is best and start to head over to Shrewsbury.  It's a 50 minute drive, which we make with blue lights flashing and occasional siren.  Even so, we are overtaken by a car! I wished bad things on that person let me tell you and the driving paramedic half-shouted "pillock!"

After arriving at the hospital, I wait in the relatives room for so long, hours roll by, Dad is being treated and x-rayed. When I eventually see him, he's so relieved, confused about where he is and what's happening.  
Eventually he gets settled, and many hours Mum & Tim come to pick me up & take me back to the cottage.
Where I see that Dad hit the wall so hard with his head that he punched a hole in the wall, knocking off the plaster in the adjacent room.

On Christmas Day he doesn't know who I am, isn't responding to pain stimuli and I become convinced that this is it. The end.
I'm thankfully wrong, but Dad does have multiple bleeds around his brain.
Weeks pass, I travel the miles between home and Shrewsbury, eventually at the end of January he's transferred to Stoke as it's become obvious that he needs surgery.  Some of his bleeds have resolved, some have worsened and need treatment.  A few days after that he's transferred to Lincoln, much nearer to home, making visiting a whole lot easier.

He continues to make progress but experiences confusion.  
Sometimes he says inadvertently hilarious things.  Which I really shouldn't have laughed at, but it was impossible not to.
My personal favourite: "I was pecked to death by birds last night" says Dad.
"You were?" I reply.
"Yes, it was horrible, I begged them to stop, but they told me they wouldn't, because I was too delicious".

Last Tuesday he was discharged to a care home, since arriving there he's made incredible progress, although he still has substantial memory loss, he is getting better at forming memories.  His short term memory is improved and in one week he'll be leaving the care home to go back to his bungalow.  It's extraordinary how far he's come from that initial horrific fall.
He and I are going to start April with a

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Whiskers On Kittens

After mentioning favourites in Friday's post, I woke with the iconic song from The Sound Of Music bouncing around in my brain and as a result...these are a few of my favourite things:

Cats (obviously).
Driving.
Caesar Salad, Halloumi, Peas, Pizza, Artichoke Hearts, Pomegranates.
Tumblr.
Droopy.
Tattoos.
Folk Music.
Gigs.
Reading.
My Kindle.
T'Internet. 
Belly Laughs.
Accidentally, Artists beginning with K. Kandinsky, Klimt & Klee.
Learning.
Crafts. 
My firepit.
The word 'balter'.
Profanity.
Showers.
Baths.
Movies & Television.
A new toothbrush.
Rollercoasters.
Power tools.
Nail varnish.
Cambridge Folk Festival.
The Animal Kingdom.
These songs.
Comedy pants, like these, or these, or these, or these.
The Unexplained.
Fonts.
Franz Marc. 
Board Games.
BAMFs.
Storms. 
Kini falling asleep on my lap.
Dancing.
Daisies, Tulips, Tigridia, Paeonies, Lavender, Pansies, Sweet Peas.
My allotment. 
Fabric & Ribbon.
Grape Soda, Hot Chocolate.
Sylvac.
Lea Stein. 
The smells: freshly mown grass, just baked bread.
Lingerie.
1950's kitsch.
Happiness.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A Wee Haunting

In the midst of a busy day yesterday I went out for lunch, afterwards I excused myself to go to the loo.
There were three empty cubicles, so I chose one and went in.
I was sitting there, completely alone, when the hand dryer turned on.
Did I mention that I was alone?
That I was behind a closed door, some way away from the hand dryer.
I may have been freaked out.
I may have completed my wee in turbo time.
I went out and there was no one there, the hand dryer had turned off, but I had not finished freaking out.
It's definitely my first experience with a haunted hand dryer and hopefully my last!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Song Of The Week LXVII

This entire album is one of the best things I've discovered, but I probably say that about all my new favourite music.  Everything is my favourite.  I'm excitable, what can I tell you!
This is my favourite, no wait, this is my favourite, no, this is my favourite...
Maybe I just like a lot of really great stuff!
Well of course I do, I have fabulous taste, it goes without saying!

April Smith & The Great Picture Show -Terrible Things:

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Going Dark

I knew there was something I had to today.
It was bugging me all day that there was something I mustn't forget.
But I forgot.
I've since remembered....
And now there's just 10p left on my electric meter.
I should have remembered to top-up.
I miss living in a home where you just paid by direct debit instead of a ruddy card meter.
I find myself wondering when it's all going to go very dark.
A sensible person would find a torch, just in case, but you see, I am not a sensible person.
So if it all goes dark before I make it to bed, the first words out of my mouth will be "I wish I'd got a torch out".
I'm going to climb the apples and pears and see how long that 10p will last!
It's very exciting isn't it? Or not.

Dream Weaver

An evening of willow weaving was held in my village hall, I popped along and had a splendid evening, we all had a go at weaving an obelisk and all went home with a willow wreath.
I'd wanted to try it for so long and I was thrilled to have a chance, and then our tutor, Jess, announced she was going to start a willow group, where we'd be able to get together, suggest things we'd like to make and do a new project every month.  It was perfect & I signed up, in the time since we've made all sorts of different things.

A woven heart that sits in my garden:
A corn dolly style dragonfly:
Either side of my garden swing seat sit some woven obelisks that my sweet peas grew up and around last year, I made these from memory of what we'd been taught at the evening, so I'm looking forward to doing them again with supervision!
And another obelisk at the other side of the garden, they weren't perfect but for a beginner they worked just fine...
And we made hurdles too, I'm going to make some more of these and have them all around the edges of my beds, they'll give support to the plants that start to fall forward, as they lean, keen to grab each and every ray of sun that they can
It was bloody hard to take a photo of the flower I made last year, but the centre of the flower is the same as the way you start off a basket, not that I can ever quite remember how it's done, but I do love how intricately pretty it is..
And here's Bogart, my hare, one of the things I most wanted to make when I had the chance to learn willow weaving was a hare, so I am utterly, utterly thrilled with him, he's so adorable!  Look at him! Look at how goddamn adorable he is!
I might be somewhat proud of Bogart, I'm not sure if I made that clear... ;)
 At one of the sessions last year we were making a bottomless basket, that you could put around a plant pot to make it more decorative, it's safe to say I did not find French randing easy to pick up. I was flummoxed, so by the end of the session, my basket was quite small as I'd been incredibly slow in my weaving.  I wasn't sure what to do with it, and I hadn't even cut off the excess rods and correctly finished it, I'd just put it straight in the garage until I could decide what to do with it.  Well, this weekend I decided I'd let it be an obelisk, so I purchased a large enough pot, filled it with compost, planted a climbing fuschia and added the makeshift obelisk.  I'm actually really pleased with it and it's now sitting right by my front door:
It's somewhat annoying that a bird pooped on the boards outside my house and all I can see is my obelisk and a blob of white bird poop.  But here's the thing, how did it poop at such an angle? Did it come in sideways for a direct hit? I possibly live in the vicinity of acrobatic poopers. And there we have a sentence that I never thought I'd utter.

My current project is a large basket, which is actually taking three sessions to complete, and it means I'm back to French randing again, but it's actually going mostly okay.  As it's going to be a lot taller than the few inches in the photo above, it should prove to be excellent practice and I might finally get my head around this weaving technique!

I've also made a woven Christmas tree and a wee angel.  Well, actually a wee wonky angel.  She has a definite lilt when she stands, but she'd do fine on the top of a huge Christmas tree!  Not that she'll ever make it to a Christmas tree, she'll just have to remain a lilting angel!

Overall I'm just thrilled that I finally got the chance to learn a new skill. 
Also, as I have problems with both anxiety and depression, it's been a huge challenge for me to go out and do something social in a group with new people.  I've come to feel really comfortable there, Jess is lovely and my fellow weavers are a wonderful, it's been a hugely positive thing in my life, with far more benefits to me than simply beginning to learn a new craft.
Thanks are definitely due to Jess for her patient tutoring & splendid company, and also for sharing my mild obsession with ribbon and fonts.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Lyrics

I got a new tattoo last year:
It had been a while since I'd indulged my love of ink so it was time.
These words come from a song by Frank Turner, the whole lyric is "If that's your road then take it, but it's not the road for me"
The first time I ever heard the song and that line, it really spoke to me, to be honest the entire song is filled with lyrics that speak to me, like "I'm happy and I'm settled in the person I've become" and then there's "And I won't sit down, And I won't shut up, And most of all I will not grow up".  I feel like parts of it are about me, but isn't that often the way with music?
We find songs that speak to us, songs that appear to accurately reflect our lives, songs that seem as though the writer was talking directly to us.

If that's your road then take it but it's not the road for me...I like how that infers that we all get to do what we want to do and it's okay if we don't want to do the same thing, we get to live our own lives, making our own choices. It all boils down to live and let live in it's simplest sense.

In a deeper way it speaks to me about how, during my journey of body acceptance & feminism, I'm learning to be non-judgemental. 
Somehow we're all taught to judge things that just aren't important...they shouldn't be wearing that, their make-up is wrong, that outfit isn't flattering, they must be an idiot to be reading that book, that's a terrible tattoo, that's a boring hobby to have, they're too fat, they're too thin, the list goes on and on.
I've spent so many years making those judgements that I still do it sometimes, but I catch myself in my mind and make myself consciously accept that someone else's choices do not have to mirror my own, and good on them for living their life the way they want to.  I find myself silently celebrating it every single time.
The knock-on effect has been that I'm happier in my own skin, if I don't judge others harshly, I don't judge myself harshly and let me tell you, that's a far happier way to live!

Just a few words, arranged on my back, that I wanted with me forever, to remind me of a happier way to live.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Paying It Forward

I've spent all of this year travelling back & forth to hospital visiting my Dad after he had an accident a couple of days before Christmas.
It's £3 to park each time at the hospital, or you can get a 10 day parking pass which works out at about half the price, so I've been working my way through parking passes.
After having used my newest pass just twice it turns out that my Dad is being discharged and I have no need of the new pass any longer.
The other visitors I'd seen around the ward weren't about when I left so I couldn't pass it on to them so I resigned myself to carrying it around for the foreseeable future until I'd had cause to visit the hospital a further eight times.

When you have a pass you have to have your parking validated at main entrance, so as I queued for this I overheard that the couple in front of me had exhausted their pass & would need a new one the following day.  
I waited, got my validated ticket and chased after the couple and called to them, when they turned I handed them my pass.
They looked suitably confused and I explained my father was being discharged tomorrow and I no longer needed my pass.
"But you've only used it twice!" said the lady "you could use it again!"
I explained "it'll take me forever to use up the remaining 8 allowances".
"Well would you like me to give you some money for it?" she asked, going for her purse.
"Absolutely not, I know what a long slog it is going back & forth, that's my third pass here and I've been travelling back & forth to various hospitals since just before Christmas, so I know how expensive it is too".
She looks at me and says "I'll be sure to pay this goodwill forward, thank you so much"
I tell her that she's very welcome and she replies that she's very moved and is clearly a little tearful.
I wish them both well and say that I hope whoever they're visiting is soon feeling improved.
She thanks me over and over and tells me that they're visiting her father, which seems wonderfully serendipitous to me.

It was such a tiny gesture, but it left me feeling really good. 
I walked back to my car with a spring in my step!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Happy New Year

I realise that it's the 9th of March, a long time after January 1st, but today the sun was shining so brilliantly I took the chance to start tidying the garden.

For the record, starting a petrol lawnmower with your left hand when your right arm has tennis elbow, is really bloody hard work!

Anyway, as usual, I have digressed, it's wonderful to see everything growing, it's a new year for all my flowers.  New buds are appearing everywhere & I start to get excited about all the flowers that'll open in the coming months.
My climbing rose has gone bananas, I'm not sure, even if I add some new trellis that I'll be able to contain it.
I planted my new rose - Lady Marmalade - that I got for Christmas.  It's very cool having a rose that shares my name, albeit my adopted internet name!
The first of my tulips are flowering, daffodils on the verge of joining them, snowdrops coming to their end.
The red tips of the paeony are just pushing through the soil.
A flurry of crocus' that I don't remember planting are battling for sunshine.
It's been such a mild winter that some sweet peas are already starting to climb the willow obelisks that I made last year.
Even my verbena bonariensis has survived the winter, I'm quite delighted at how full and promising the garden looks.
I filled up my wood store too, ready for a year of barbecues & fire pit evenings.  And hopefully of pizza if a new oven can be built to take the place of Colin Falstaff, who didn't survive the winter.  I'm going to have to google where to purchase clay for oven building....
I just wish you didn't look such a billy no mates if you chose to sit around a fire pit on your own.
Although, it has to be said, usually the grass ends up catching on fire, and it's a definite bonus if there's more than one of you about to throw water on the ensuing blaze.
Perhaps the job this year should be to find a less flammable location for the firepit!

It might be that today was just a blip of sudden heat in a cool spring, but it was a delight to sit in the sunshine, surrounded by the cacophony of mowers in neighbouring gardens.  I like that spring clean of the garden, it's the beginning of the welcoming in of summer, although it does mean I really have to get down to the allotment, build my greenhouse and start my plants growing, ready for a bumper harvest - well I can but hope!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Grand Master

A short while ago the 2014 IQ Test was showing up on Facebook so I decided to give it a go as it's been ages since I took an IQ Test.
So I made my way through the test, a couple of the questions didn't make sense to me but I came out with an IQ score of 170.
I briefly felt like a genius.
But then I remembered how terrible I am at chess.
I don't know what it is, I like logic puzzles, I like puzzles and quizzes in general.
I like learning new things, I've come to really enjoy learning about science.
But chess just doesn't seem to fit inside my head.
I mean I fully understand what I'm supposed to be doing, I fully understand how all the pieces move, I get it, I do, but I'm still terrible at it.
Somehow I can't see the moves ahead that I need to be seeing, I can't make the plans.
I'm also hasty.
I make moves without considering all my options.
Makes you wonder how much chess duplicates real life.
Sometimes I don't even see really obvious moves that are right in front of me.
I also fail to be competitive enough, I don't mind whether I win or lose.  Even though I get pleasure when I do win, I don't experience any great disappointment when I lose.
Actually, the games that I have won, I experience surprise over pleasure.
I do want to be good, I really do, I've been taught with such incredible patience but I think I've hit a plateau that I can't leave.
I mean I'm smart enough, why is chess so damn hard?!
I'm never going to be a Grand Master!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Song Of The Week LXVI

I was advised to check out this band at the Cambridge Folk Festival and I was not disappointed, I was absolutely blown away by how good they were.
Within a couple of days I owned absolutely everything I could buy that they'd recorded.
This cover of the Eurhythmics track is just beautiful, I have been known to listen to it on repeat, over and over. And over.  
The song actually kicks off at about the one minute mark...

The Miserable Rich - Sweet Dreams:



Thursday, 6 March 2014

Pizza Time

So I've wanted a pizza oven in my garden for so very long.
In 2012 my niece and I built a clay oven.
As we completed the dome I squealed that we should give it a face, and thus the cat pizza oven was built:
Unfortunately all did not go well for kitty, rain made her sad and there was a collapse before a single pizza was cooked.  Lesson learned, she had not been fired adequately.
So in 2013, the mission was again to build a pizza oven, the clay was made ready and the dome created, but this time no kitty!
No, for smoke & flames shall spill forth from the mouth of the pizza oven, so it clearly had to be a dragon:

Pretty damn cool eh?  We were beyond thrilled with it!

I even named it, Colin Falstaff.
And better than that - look at it in action. Look at him eating pizza!
 Look at my pizza, look at my damn delicious pizza before I stuffed it all in my face.
Colin Falstaff worked like a dream, he cooked up the pizzas to perfection.
But this is not a story with a happy ending.
Colin Falstaff did not survive the winter.
So now there has to be a mission for 2014, the pursuit of a pizza oven that lasts.  
I suggested using bricks to make a dome, my niece pointed out we don't know how to do bricklaying, which indeed could prove to be an obstacle.
There must be a way!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

As If By Magic

After writing yesterday about the Cambridge Folk Festival line-up, they announced more names today.  And they were more good names.  I am being spoiled.
I really enjoyed Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin when I saw them and I love my Skinny Lister album, so now all I have to hope for is that there aren't lots of programme clashes when I get there in July!

In other news...I have been diagnosed with tennis elbow.
My arm has been so painful since the end of November/beginning of December I figured I must've pulled a muscle whilst being overzealous during a spot of wii boxing, or perhaps, as I'd spent a month of doing 12+ hours of sewing a day that I'd cramped the muscles in my arm & it would sort itself.  Weeks passed, then more weeks and it hurt all the damn time so I finally took myself off to the doctor.
He gave it a bit of a poke, "it's not at all tender" I proclaim.
Well, that doctor, he proved me a liar.  I yelped and yanked my arm away from him.
"Apparently it's tender there, let's never do that again" I suggest.
Then he held my hand as if we were firmly shaking hands, all was fine.
Then he twisted his hand.
I shit you not, I actually came out of my seat, tears sprang to my eyes and I felt like I'd been winded.
So. Much. Pain.
He may have handed me a tissue.

The last time I played tennis I was in school.  The tennis courts were split into two lots, one on each side of a building, so our teacher could only be on one set of courts at a time.  Someone was on lookout and the rest of us just sat around until the teacher approached our courts.  The alarm was called and we all leapt up to commence playing tennis.  In my haste to leap to my feet I stepped on a tennis racquet and impressively did a skid into the splits. It was not comfortable.  I don't advise it. Anyway, that's pretty much the last time I played tennis.  Or did the splits.

So it's quite impressive to have got tennis elbow. 
I have tablets and if there's no improvement there's to be an injection.  
If that injection is in any way similar to the injection for my carpal tunnel syndrome, I am not enthusiastic, but I'm less enthusiastic about the ruddy tennis elbow!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Festival Time

When they announce the line-up for my beloved Cambridge Folk Festival there's always a moment of trepidation, will the names be ones I've longed for?
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Cambridge Folk Festival so I'd wondered if there would be some amazing names to mark it.

So, the line-up was announced a week or two ago & I'm thrilled!
I'd wondered if I'd get the opportunity to see Loudon Wainwright III again so when I saw his name I was overjoyed.

Also on the line-up are Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who I've been listening to for years & my gut tells me they'll be fabulous live.
The last time I saw Afro Celt Sound System they were superb so it's exciting to be able to see them again!
Cara Dillon has such a delightful voice, it's always wonderful to see her live too.
Then there's The Full English, a real folk supergroup, so they'll doubtless be excellent.
I'm also looking forward to seeing Pokey LaFarge, Sarah Jarosz and Lúnasa, so all in all it's shaping up wonderfully!

I'm really chuffed, the rest of the line-up will just be the icing on the cake!
Sometimes you need some good news & something to look forward to, so this was just what the doctor ordered!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Jeff & Tilda

Jeff started misbehaving on the journey home from the Christmas cottage and in the new year she went straight to see her favourite mechanic, she spent some time there and was finally better.  I brought her home and she went wrong again the very next day, so back to the garage she went, then they couldn't repair her so off she went to a new garage, where she stayed for some time, eventually coming home again.
A day or so later one of her wipers stopped working. 
I was about to tear my hair out, whipped it back to the garage and it took less than a minute to fix. I whooped with joy!
But it had become clear that my beloved Jeff would have to be rehomed.
Look at her though, look how damned adorable she is:
I'm not even sorry about how much I love that little car with the big bottom.  Everything just fits neatly into the boot. I once got a fridge in there, standing, without even having to put the seats down.
I mean she had her quirks, when you unlocked the doors the radio immediately started playing.  And continued playing when you stopped the car and locked it.  She wasn't too fond of hills, but then, neither am I, so all power to her.  Also, when people moaned about how the sun was low in the sky and always in their eyes when driving, I never understood what they were complaining about, because she was so tall, the sun was never in my eyes.
But, it had to be done, Jeff had to find someone new to love her.
And I had to find someone new to love.
So, after searching and interacting with one too many idiotic car salesmen, getting advice from my mechanic and doing test drives, I came home with Tilda.
Behold, Tilda:
She's a little more anonymous than Jeff was, I liked the way Jeff stood out in a crowd, you never lost her in a car park, but Tilda has her plus points, she doesn't appear to demand regular attention from my mechanic - definite bonus.  She also responds when the pedal is, as they say, to the metal. She's a nippy wee thing. Whilst she isn't large of arse, with the seats down, it's still a sizeable space so I should be able to shove all my nonsense in there!
Also, she is sporting a fine CD player. I cannot drive without music, one must have music!
And, because I am the provider of sweets, she has plenty of storage for the boxes of sweets that my friends raid on every journey.
And, last but not least, what Tilda and Jeff have in common, they both have a kitty on the rear window, with a wiper shaped tail:
That makes her a little less anonymous and a little more quirky...although I feel sure she needs one or two touches more...

On a final note, I had bitched & moaned that, for some reason the power point that I wanted to plug my phone charger in to, wouldn't accept any of the chargers I owned, it was simply too shallow.  
My good friend came round to investigate.
There's something stuck in there he proclaims.
I dismiss this idea, thinking there can't possibly be something stuck in there that happens to be the exact same diameter as the power point. 
He insists.
Get me something to poke it with.
I deliver pokey tools.
Upon insertion of pokey tool there is a spark.  And a jump. And gales of laughter from me.
No wee came out, but it was close.
Would you believe it, he was right, a magnet had been shoved down the power point, the magnet was retrieved!
Hurrah!
Now the charger fit like a dream!
Except the spark had blown the fuse.
Oops.
Off to my mechanic.  New fuse obtained. And I jolly well fitted it myself.
So everything now works perfectly & I now know how to change fuses in my car.
Check me.  Like a goddamn grown-up.

I still miss Jeff desperately, but Tilda & I are getting along splendidly, I just hope Jeff finds a new home where they're kind to her.  Because I'm sentimental, and not sorry :)

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Challenged

I signed up to do the Goodreads Reading Challenge this year.
When deciding how many books to make my challenge, I figured 50 would be an easy number, that's averaging one a week.  How hard could it be?
The lesson learned is that if you read an 800 page book, it's going to take a damn sight more than a week to read, if you're just reading for around an hour a night.
A couple of weeks in and I was two books behind schedule.
A week ago I was three books behind schedule.
I can't even begin to tell you how pressured I felt to catch up!
I searched my shelves for the shortest unread books I owned. 
I read one quickly and as I'd almost finished I remembered an almost finished book of letters & papers and finished that last night.
Now I'm just one book behind schedule.  I can do this! 
Possibly.
Although it's only just the beginning of March and I've not yet managed to get ahead of schedule. And I'm running out of short books.
I've got another half finished book sitting on a shelf, I'm not sure whether to go on to that one or whip through another short one. 
These simple decisions take up far too much room in my mind!

In other news, I love my kindle so much.
I was always a lover of real books, never wanted a kindle, and now I can't remember when I changed my mind, but I adore it.
When I had carpal tunnel surgery there was no way I'd have been able to comfortably hold a regular book for any length of time, so the kindle was a godsend.
Also, having the entire Game of Thrones series takes up so much less space on a wee kindle than it does on a bookshelf - and it's a damn sight lighter to hold!
Only thing is, I can't check in advance how long a book is when I'm trying to beat a damn challenge!

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Christmas Past

I used to really enjoy blogging & I regret falling out of the habit, so I decided to make March a month of blogging. One post a day for a month, see if I can keep that commitment and if that gets me back into the habit of writing regularly, or if I fail to do my 31 posts!

So, where to begin...
I think, as my life is generally made up of tales of chaos, that must be an ideal place to start.

Thus begins the tale of my journey to Shropshire, to a rented cottage, for the week of Christmas.
I packed Jeff, my car, with all the gifts, all the kitchenalia that we might need if the holiday cottage kitchen wasn't well stocked and lastly herded Kini, my cat, into her travel box and headed to go collect Dad.
Filled the car with all of the things he'd collected to bring with us.
With Jeff bursting at the seams we set off.
Kini curled up and went to sleep.
About ten miles down the road I was hit by the realisation that I'd left my clothes hanging on a hook at home, leaving me with precisely one outfit, to last a week.  
So after a swift U-turn, I loaded my clothes into the car and off we set again.
Dad with directions in hand, Kini sleeping soundly and Jeff driving like a dream.

Cut to a little later and we realise we've missed an important junction.  
I decide to take the next exit and wiggle our way through to the A road we would've eventually be catching anyway, so as we make our merry way through the countryside Jeff suddenly starts beeping loudly.  I glance down at the dashboard and see the word 'STOP' flashing in red letters.
I take this to be a clue that I should, possibly, stop driving.  
We pull into a bus stop and I look at the dash, realising that Jeff is overheating.
I don't have any extra coolant in the car, but check her levels anyway. 
And the answer is.....coolant purchase is essential.
We all sit, waiting for the engine temperature to drop so we can limp slowly to a garage, whilst also hoping a bus doesn't come along as the bus stop I've parked in, definitely isn't big enough for the two of us.

No bus arrives - which is normal I believe.  I'm sure two were just beyond the horizon somewhere.
The engine temperature drops, we limp to a nearby garage, I pour a full bottle of coolant into Jeff and we set off again.
Well, say I, let's hope that's the last of today's driving adventures!

We realise we're almost at the rented cottage, probably not more than ten or fifteen minutes away, when suddenly the car is filled with an extraordinary stench.
It's bad, really bad, Dad and I wind down the windows, unsure if it's coming from inside or outside.
It is utterly freezing with the windows open, but by christ the smell is so bad we have no choice.  
Kini, who has now been stuck in her carry case for longer than she should have been, due to the previous delays, has done a huge shit.
However bad you imagine that might've smelt, it was worse. It was terrible.  
If I live for the rest of my life, never again enveloped by a stench such as that, I'll be very happy.

We arrived at the cottage.  I exited the car at speed, yelling & asking where my bedroom was.  I had to let Kini out of her travel case before I could clean out the stink.  I ran up the stairs, Kini leapt from the case and back down the stairs I ran, throwing the contents of the case onto the front lawn, to be aired & cleaned up later.

I often wonder what it must be like to live an uneventful life.