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Such a difficult thing to manage, yet so essential. And easy to forget!

The responses to my last post made me think. Although I have found it useful sometimes to have a primary focus for a month, like last January when I did so much on the HBP (I have done some since then, but I feel as if I achieved more that month than in the whole rest of the year! It may even be true…) with things like health and my long term novel writing goal, I think it has to be far more important to gain some kind of sustainable balance.

I am in charge of the timing for my novel writing goal, so I don’t have to neglect my health for it to work! I did feel I had to if I was to get a thesis written in the timescale allocated. But that is precisely why I had to give it up. So then why even remotely consider doing that to myself if I don’t have to? Am I mad? No, don’t answer that…

So I need to try and find a balance which works for me. No more waiting to get well, I need to work at that. But not too hard or I wear myself out, seriously, if you didn’t read the spoons article, go back and read it if you don’t understand. I have a ridiculously small amount of energy compared to normal people. I’d love to be able to walk every day, but I have found that if I have a walk two days in a row my knees swell up like melons, which is not fun. We went for a little walk on Saturday, no more than half an hour and not fast either, but I had to have a nap when we got home and was too tired and grumpy yesterday to do anything. We had been out on Friday too, so I guess I just overdid it. 😦

But I do love going for walks, so I am not about to give up! I just need to be careful to get the balance right.

It’s a beautiful sunny day today, but I am enjoying it from inside, which is sensible. I ought to work on the novel if I’m not going out, but here I am writing a blog post instead… Of course, that is still writing 🙂

And the novel plot still twists and untwists in my brain as I do other things.

A random picture of Pebble being cute :)

A random picture of Pebble being cute 🙂


February 4, 2013 at 2:43 PM 2 comments

Letting go and moving on

Not from the blog, don’t panic 🙂 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 😀 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 🙂 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 😀

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 😛

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! 🙂

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?! 😀 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

An excellent post on the need for fairly traded chocolate (and I am working on resuming regular posting of my own… but I keep coming across good stuff to reblog)


I like chocolate dark, three taste buds shy of bitter. One small bite and I start getting messages from my brain saying, “Thank you,” and “More, please.” As food, it delights my tongue, and as medicine, it soothes my brain.


I have liked chocolate since I was a small child and discovered that the Easter bunny laid small chocolate eggs in my Easter basket. I later learned that rabbits do not lay eggs; they do, however, extrude something that is eerily similar to little chocolate pellets. I lived with that disturbing juxtaposition of ideas for years, but eventually got over it and continued trying to consume my allotted 11.64 pounds of chocolate each year. That’s how much each American averages. The Swiss eat almost twice that. Clearly, I was born in the wrong country.


Divine choclate easter eggs


As an adult I have lived a relatively undisturbed life as far as…

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April 10, 2012 at 10:58 PM Leave a comment


It was a bright sunny morning, much like today, except it was snowing. My Dad suggested my sister and I might like to go see the snowbow which ought to be behind the house.

We ran in thrilled excitement! Imagine it! Rainbows are beautiful, snow is beautiful, a snowbow must be beautiful squared!

We craned out of the back window, searching everywhere.

No snowbow.

Of course not, it was this day too many years ago to mention.

Best April Fool ever!

I’d love to accompany this post with a photo, but of course there’s no such thing as a snowbow. Only… it turns out the joke is on him, at least a little bit, because there is such a thing as an ice blink rainbow. But it’s not as pretty as the ones we imagined 🙂

April 1, 2012 at 10:59 AM 1 comment

I love these photos of natural ice sculptures, thought I’d share them. (And now you know I’m still here… I do intend to write a post soon…)

draw and shoot

Our temporary “summer” has been replaced by more normal seasonal temperatures.
A windy breath of -10° c overnight drove the waves and spray up on to the sloped shore of this bay resulting in a strange and magical landscape when I came upon it yesterday. Not that long ago the ice fishing huts resided in this wide bay.

The perfectly ice-upholstered and fringed rocks along the shore.

Surreal spaces…

Although this place is quite removed from the city and looks idyllic and peaceful there is a strange juxtaposition of bird song and intermittent rapid gunfire from the nearby rifle range. It all feels rather surreal as I wade through the water in high rubber boots; a strange shore bird among chandelier skirted trees.

Shirley’s Bay, Ottawa River

All images © Karen McRae

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March 29, 2012 at 11:26 PM 2 comments

Never reblogged before, but wanted to share this. Why is nice so underrated? Nice is good 🙂 I need to be nicer.

Bluebird Blvd.


A young woman employee of North American Aviation, Incorporated, working over the landing gear mechanism of a P-51 fighter plane, Inglewood, Calif. The mechanism resembles a small cannon (LOC)


I was so bummed at my accidental rudeness that when I saw her smiling face at the window, I apologized for not using my best manners and said that my blood sugar was low.

What happened next floored me. This woman— this angel of a woman— said, “Sugar, just hold on one second, I’m going to get you some brownies. And you eat those right away.”

As I was eating the brownies she gave me, she said, “Sugar, here’s a little lemonade with a little iced tea, it should put you to rights, my darling.”

Now, I’m polite. I’m über-polite. I’m turbo-sized polite, in fact, and sometimes, sometimes people even call me sweet. But, I have never, ever in all my days been as warm and good as this woman is on her worst day.

As I was sipping the special drink she made me, I…

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February 17, 2012 at 11:02 PM Leave a comment

Behind with blog, but not with life :)

Sorry I’ve not updated for over a week, of course I mean to and then it just slips by. I have been excited about several things which I wanted to share, but didn’t get to it and then I wanted to update the HBP and missed that, which meant I felt I ought to do that before a post on a different subject. But now I just decided it’s better to just write something and then fill in the bits I missed later.

It’s a bit like my less than stellar attempts at writing a diary. As a child I would make it my new year resolution, so I have many old diaries with the first week of January filled in and not much else. The fullest one is one I got halfway through the year so I didn’t feel the gradually increasing pressure of the missed days building up. Because there were so many missed days, I just started, went back and put some of what I remembered and didn’t worry if I missed days because it was so patchy anyway.

I intend to do a proper HBP update for what I managed in January, with pictures, but for now I shall just say that I got further than I expected to in the bigger goals of moving furniture around and increasing storage, but didn’t quite get the finish of everything messy put away in the two rooms I was focussing on.

Which meant that my start to February, month of creativity, didn’t get off to a flying start as my creativity spaces were still not cleared 😦 But I did manage to clear enough of my table to make a start today, again, a proper post with pics should follow at some point 🙂

I have a bit of a cold, so I don’t want to be sat here too long, but hopefully now I’ve broken the block I can post at my leisure without feeling guilty for being late or pressured into writing a particular topic.

I’m excited about creativity February – I have lots of ideas and cool stuff to play with! As long as I do so. Between feeling a bit blah with this cold and Tim having less work so he wants to go out which can be fun but makes me tired I expected to have done more. It’s also surprisingly hard to make a start on something new. But that is another post for another day.

February 2, 2012 at 9:23 PM Leave a comment

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