Archive for January, 2013

Waiting to get Well

I often feel as if I spend my whole life waiting to get well from something or other.

Not the arthritis, I know that won’t go away for waiting, although I sometimes have to wait out a flare up. Not just the anxiety either, although waiting has been more successful there, as it is less bad than it was.

I just seem to be very run down at the moment. I am on my third cold of the winter and although that might be the average, I usually have fewer, one of the benefits of not getting out much and not having children. I do seem to catch them from my husband though, who gets out a bit more than me…

I suppose it is inevitable that I will be feeling run down. Having a long term medical problem like arthritis is hardly a recipe for general health and well being. I just deleted a boring rant about how hard it can be to exercise, I doubt anyone wants to read it and I don’t actually even want to write about it! Also mood is so vital to health and recovering from anxiety combined with having to give up a long term ambition like my PhD is not helping.

But sitting in bed moping and whining is not going to solve the problem!

Not all things come to those who wait.

OK so I shall never be what one might call healthy, but I do try to not be the most unhealthy I can be. I tried giving up and I got fat which was even worse. It was hard to shift that back down to somewhere between slightly overweight and the wobbly side of average. But once I had managed that, no more weight seems to have come off, even with my experiments into semi-fasting (which I got fed up with, although I usually skip lunch these days).

I had wanted to focus on writing the novel once my PhD was not going to happen. I have been working on it, but I have this nasty habit of convoluting my plots to the point where they can seem too complicated to ever get straight, plus they always need research which can be a lot of fun but can also throw curve balls. (Ingibiorg, I’m talking about you!)

Why did I think that a treasure hunt whose trail was laid in the 12th century and was partially followed in the 19th before my modern characters have a go at it would be a suitable first novel? I have three plots to keep straight as well as setting the clues!

So now I am wondering whether it would be sensible to take a month out from having the novel as my main focus and make my health the primary target in February? I can only have one at a time as my energy is so limited (if you have never read the spoons article it is a very clear explanation of the kind of choices people with very little energy have to make) and improving my health would benefit every area of my life. It’s just less fun than playing with pretend people πŸ™‚

I’m sitting here feeling glad I decided to wash my hair and write a blog post about this rather than go for a walk though as it is totally chucking it down with rain! (For once the forecast was worth checking before going out) After all, it’s not February yet.

I would need to increase my exercise as much as I can physically manage (which is not a lot, but probably a bit more than now) for example starting to go swimming again. I would also need to try to improve my diet, which is not terrible but could be better. I can still think about the novel plot and do some research, but if I have a choice between going out or lying in bed writing on the laptop, I would go out.

But just thinking and writing about this is making me feel tired… hibernating seems quite an attractive option…

What do you think? Should I take a month to spend all my available energy on trying to improve my health? Or am I just making excuses and I should knuckle down and write the darn novel? πŸ™‚

January 30, 2013 at 4:01 PM 4 comments

Parasol Addiction

I think I might be addicted to parasols.

My lovely parasols and vintage umbrellas.

My lovely parasols and vintage umbrellas.

Is that the weirdest thing you’ve ever heard anyone be addicted to? I can’t think of a stranger one that I’ve heard of for real. I mean, who even uses parasols any more? But they are a good idea for people like me, who don’t want to tan or burn yet dislike using sun cream, (not just for how it feels as there are ones that aren’t too bad, but with awkward hands like mine it is not the easiest thing to apply). Parasols are a greener alternative anyway as they don’t come in a plastic bottle! I don’t like feeling too hot and always seek the shade, but it is not always possible, so what better solution than to carry my own bit of portable shade?

Having said that, I’ve only actually used one once, when I bought my first parasol last summer. To be fair, it was possibly the last really hot sunny day we had…

The outside of my first parasol; I am attempting to fix the tear with a red velvet ribbon, but is not easy.

The outside of my first parasol; I am attempting to fix the tear with a red velvet ribbon, but is not easy.

I went to an antique fair with my mother, an outdoor one. I had not come prepared for sun as I assumed it would be under canvas, and a lot of it was, but not the bit Mum wanted to do. So when I saw a stall which had a few parasols for sale I was all over them. My favourite was a dark green and blue shot silk one with a blue handle, but the canopy was torn. But that just meant the price was negotiable πŸ™‚ and I am not afraid of needle and thread, surely I could do something with it, sew bits of lace along the tears or something?

So for the rest of the fair I wandered around under a remarkable shabby chic torn parasol! It was only torn down one section so provided enough shade. I loved it! πŸ˜€

My first parasol is emerald green inside!

My first parasol is emerald green inside!

What I liked best about was the really long handle which meant it was easy to hold. With my arthritic hands I have not been able to use modern umbrellas with their small handles designed for one handed use. Although umbrellas are hardly heavy, they do catch the wind and can be hard to control with one weak and painful hand. So a long handle which I can use two handed, with the hands far apart is the scientifically sound solution!

So when I was in an antique shop on a rainy day a few weeks later it was no stretch at all when I saw a vintage umbrella with a similarly long handle. It was even purple! Have I mentioned purple is my favourite colour? Closely followed by green. I snapped it up πŸ™‚ But… with it was a purple parasol. Also torn, in fact in even worse condition than my first. But they did come down in price to the price which finally tempted me. And so I had two torn parasols and a vintage umbrella.

But that is hardly an addiction!

Not if I’d stopped there, no.

I was surprised how many parasols and vintage umbrellas I saw after that. Some I could walk away from easily enough. I’m not tempted by boring colours and I hardly needed any more torn ones! I have tried to fix them and found it much harder than I had hoped to sew tears in such tightly tensioned and already fragile fabric! But I shall persevere… and if I do figure it out then they become fair game again πŸ˜€

Delicate very old parasol.

Delicate very old parasol.

But I did rather fancy finding one which was not torn.

So did I leave well along when the next one I saw was not only torn, but totally shredded and extremely delicate? No, because it is also incredibly old and beautiful (and didn’t cost a lot).Β It deserves a post of its own it is so lovely so I shall just show a picture of it here to show its pretty sky blue lining. It is probably late 1850s or 1860sΒ and unlike the others which are clearly machine sewn, it is all hand sewn. Even the little finials on the end of the spokes are carved bone not metal.

And did I leave it there? Oh no, I have bought several more, and an umbrella stand to keep them in (which was so roomy it merely tempts me to fill it! But I have nearly done that now…)

I did use one of the vintage umbrellas on New Year’s Eve as I walked to a party in the rain, and it didn’t leak or anything so they can be used. I shall certainly continue to use them so they are not merely decorative. And of course, a girl needs accessories in different colours depending on her outfit, right?! πŸ˜‰ Also they are an ideal weapon if attacked, especially the old ones with the long handle for leverage and a long point on the end!

Purple vintage umbrella.

Purple vintage umbrella. Pebble cat is watching a blackbird in the snow πŸ™‚

Where do I find all these parasols? I have been surprised how many I have come across in just a few months. I would have thought they would be quite rare, but it is possible to amass a large collection, an antique dealer told me about someone who has hundreds, as I was buying another… Obviously antique shops sometimes have them, but there are also quite a few on ebay. That is even more scary for the addicted, just a few clicks on the mouse and parasols come pouring through the door!Β I bought a couple that way last year, and two only yesterday, but this post is getting long so they can wait for another day πŸ™‚

Then the weirdest thing ever happened last night. Seriously, freakishly weird.

We were gathered to watch Mr Selfridge, but were early, so the husband was watching a bit of a pirate film while we waited. I have honestly never seen this film before (if I had I’d be gloating over having the best comic timing ever!). The pirates were admiring a cave full of treasure. Piles of gold, jewels, coins, chests and other shiny things. I said, ‘I see that treasure and in my mind I see parasols.’ Can you guess what happened next?

Two pirates opened a chest and inside were only two freaking parasols!!!!!

We were gobsmacked!

I said it must be the universe telling me to buy more parasols πŸ˜€

However I can’t help but be reminded of that Bible verse ‘do not build up your treasure on earth where thieves break in and steal and moth and rust destroy. So maybe I should slow down on the parasol collecting?

What do you think?

Check out my Pinterest board of parasols – I have hundreds there! And they don’t cost any money or cause storage issues, although neither do they protect me from sun or rain πŸ™‚

January 21, 2013 at 4:27 PM 6 comments

Letting go and moving on

Not from the blog, don’t panic πŸ™‚ In fact, more frequent posting is one of the things I hope to move on to! And I’ve set the bar for that vaguely worded ambition nice and low since I haven’t posted since August.

No, what I have had to let go of is my PhD.

None shall pass

I am not going to write a thesis.

I am not going to be Dr Runologist. (Although I am still a proper genuine authentic runologist πŸ˜€ because my supervisor said so, so there. After all, I did find knotted runes! Twice!!)

This has by no means been an easy decision, although it feels somehow inevitable. I have been off sick from it for 2 years so have had plenty of time to get used to not actually working on it. Yes, I can’t quite believe that either, being off sick for 2 years! It was good of them to let me keep extending rather than forcing me to stop dithering and go already, although my husband might not agree. He prefers to have decisions made, where I prefer to keep things open.

Nonetheless it has still be traumatic and not at all easy to let go of.

I knew when I made my last extension of the time off that it was the last time I could do that, so at the beginning of January I should be writing it again. I tried. Oh yes, I did try, I didn’t just bottle out and give up. I opened up the files, read through what I had done, marvelled at how rubbish it was, made plans, considered the best course onwards, panicked, got stressed, felt overwhelmed, tried harder, looked at different files which were more promising, failed to figure out how to build on those, worked myself up more, despaired, phoned my Dad and had a good talk, went to see my supervisor and eventually after several very difficult days gave in.

Some paths are too difficult with a disability.

Some paths are too difficult.

So that’s it. The end.

Not entirely of course, I am still a runologist after all! I shall still go to the odd talk and conference, I shall try to write an article or two. The university has links with local schools and I have volunteered to teach them runes as part of their study of the Vikings, which I have done on one occasion and was great fun, they picked them up fast and loved writing secret messages to each other πŸ™‚ I might even try teaching adult education and doing after dinner talks. I have done a couple of those which went down very well and I got paid for. My powerpoint skillz rock πŸ˜€

I also intend to start another blog to share some of the work I have done but not written up. It needs to be more professional looking than this casual chatty one, with a proper plan and a serious purpose (but not boring!) so I need to work on it for a while before making it public, but when I do I shall link to it from here. I might still talk about runology here of course, a blog called Knotrune with no runes would be an odd place. Er, OK so it’s already an odd place, but I mean odd in a not quite right way πŸ˜›

But that is not the extent of my writing ambitions for this year, oh no. This year I am going to finish writing a novel! I have started several, and it doesn’t matter which one I finish, but I am jolly well going to finish one, or die trying! πŸ™‚

Other paths beckon.

Other paths beckon.

That is my minimum novel writing goal, finishing a first draft. If I really get going I would like to finish a first draft in a few months (if I use a half done one it shouldn’t be any harder than NaNoWriMo!) then maybe if it’s good enough see about the next step, publication!

Is that a big scary goal or what?! πŸ˜€ But I shall be happy if I end up somewhere between having a whole first draft and a published book. After all, I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself after having seen how wonderfully well I handle that! Which is why I have the minimum goal as well as the big scary one.

After all, you never know what else a year holds. I do also want to leave some space and time for crafting, crochet and other hobbies. And of course for blogging!

All photos are my own, I don’t mind if you pin them.

January 17, 2013 at 8:08 PM 7 comments


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