abendgules: (Confesse)
I regularly notice things either en route to work, or in my day, that are terribly witty and worth sharing.

But I don't seem to get the time to put them in writing.

Real-world recap:

I really enjoyed hearing the Canadian election outcome, though felt sorry for NDP which now has a few years of rebuilding to do.

It's been a pretty good fall in London for weather and fall colours; reasonably dry for most of September and October, which meant I've done more running than before.

I've been diligently getting out at lunch hours, and alternating w/ lunch hours in the gym, doing both physio-recommended stretches and some strength moves.

As a partial result of running, I now have my R foot strapped up, to manage plantar fasciitis. Have to freeze a bottle of water to roll under my foot this evening. Oooops.

Apparently ignoring the dull ache in your foot til it becomes a sharp pain in your foot is not the appropriate response.

Still going to physio regularly to try to manage lower back pain. I can feel that I've gained more mobility in my lower back and pelvis, and I walk more carefully and consciously than before.

Weekends where I'm wearing flat medieval shoes on hard surfaces really show themselves up at the physio.

I'm already on 2 weeks sabbatical from running, to see if I can shake the referred pain down 1 leg. So this week I'm walking not running at lunch. Fortunately the break coincides with weekends away when I couldn't get to a parkrun anyway.

It's halfterm in London so the constant commuting pressure eases off by about 20% as all the parents take time out while their kids get a week off. I treasure this week for travel, but you're always covering for someone in the office who's away this week.

Next week I hope to take 1 day off, to see the current Celts exhibit at the British Museum.
abendgules: (tea in winter)
Jesus, can't these people stay home with their freaking infections?? of course not. Bloody martyrs.

I'm prone to respiratory infections as is Robert. Really, really not impressed.
abendgules: (womaninmotion)
Continuing to chug along at parkruns. New PB, though my legs ached ferociously on Sunday.

I may change my 'home' base to the run I've done the most, as it's a much nicer park to run around than the first one I attended.

North London is hilly; there's nowhere in a park that's going to offer 5k flat running. I might as well choose the one that's most attractive.

Yesterday and today a heron visited the pond in my workplace's courtyard.

You have to look closely, for the one on the left; the one on the right is a plastic decoy...but to attract or deter more herons isn't clear.

And yes, we have a cheesy gnome with a fishing line. So sue us.

A guest in the courtyard


On my lunchtime run I saw a heron in the stream in the park, and since it's just a short flap for a heron from courtyard to stream I'm guessing it's the same one.

Is is avian-ist to say that all herons look alike to me?

In the 'Drachenwald first-world problems' category:

I'm finally making myself new veils, to replace the ones I felt terribly under-dressed in at Double Wars. I've wanted both new flat veils and ruffled ones for ages, plus a Birgitta cap (minus the fiddly-but-functional midline needlework).

My barrier to improving my veils wasn't materials, it was instructions.

Only in Drachenwald can all the instructions on making ruffled veils I can find be in languages I don't speak...til I asked Mistress Lia for her top source, and she pointed me at this lady's excellent photos (sorry they're in FB).

So I have new flat veils for the weekend, plus several miles of ruffle for sewing in the vehicle...plus knitting.
abendgules: (rearview_runner)
I found out about parkrun this year after 3+ mentions of it in a copy of Runner's World - there was a cover article about 5k running, which is why I picked it up. I wondered if parkrun had sponsored the mentions, there were so many.

I've been thinking about going for months, but just before Double Wars wasn't the time to start. At that point I couldn't even picture getting out of bed before 9am on a Saturday.

Don't know why exactly today was the day - possibly watching the world championship athletics this week put it in mind - I loved watching it through lunchtime while I was in the gym. Beats the hell out of news and crappy music videos. Puts your own efforts into perspective, but in a good way, not a depressing way.

So today I ran the one closest to me - one I could find on the bus route - in Harrow.

I figure it was my running that inspired Mo Farah - he's just won the 5,000m in Beijing. :-)

Don't yet know my time. I was so shattered as I crossed the finish I didn't hear the time. I wasn't absolutely last, but I think I was the last runner - the rest were run-walkers.

I did walk 3x - there is a gentle slope on the course in this park, and I found on the laps that it was a good point to walk for 30 paces.

The run director was very kind - asked my name, how I'd found parkrun, then how I did afterward, my impressions, would I do it again.

I suggested setting one up in the local county park - he said he'd run x-country there, but it was potentially muddy - guess they have to choose routes that will be reliable and predictable, even w/ poor weather.
abendgules: (self-portrait)
I came back from the colonies with a lot on my mind.

Summary:

Ageing sucks. Avoid at all costs.

If you cannot avoid, start now to strengthen your body so you're not as vulnerable to falls, fragile bones, collapsing vertebra, and loss of muscle tone. Just keep at it.

Nurses (and other medic types) remain the worst patients. They know it all and are lousy at taking advice from their own GPs.

If you insist on getting old, start downsizing now. Do not leave emotional cluster-bomb crap for your relatives to deal with.

My mum's house is thick with photographs and it feels physically oppressive to me, this celebration of the past; no photos less than 10 years old, most of them much older. Cannot imagine inheriting a stately home, if just a bunch of pictures make me feel loaded down with expectation.

Do it now, whatever it is.

I attended the funeral of a man 2 years younger than me: son to my parents' longtime friends K&A. I grew up w/ Tom and his brothers, though as a teen you stop going to dinner at your parents' friends' homes, so I'd not seen him since late teens.

Tom lost control of his motorbike on a dry straight road on Father's Day. Of the 4 brothers he was the only one with a wife and 2 small kids of his own.

The funeral service was packed with people who, I suspect, were not used to mourning; adults who have not yet seen elderly parents and ageing friends die, who had little experience with death.

I'm not an expert, but it felt to me like there were a lot of people not certain how to mourn; men, in particular, used to being happy, angry, outgoing, but not grieving. It was really breaking them.

Once again I had a chance to observe a good 'court herald' in the funeral home staff - setting the tone and pace, directing people and providing cues without appearing to push - and an experienced minister who was excellent at keeping it brief, and focusing on the joyful life rather than the sudden death.

There's real skill in making people welcome when they're not at their best, when emotions run high, and to make them as comfortable as possible. I was impressed by the funeral home's professionalism.

One slightly eerie aspect: Tom had recently started playing guitar again, after giving up his teen dreams of stardom. Just this week he'd recorded himself playing and singing one song, about 3 minutes, on his phone. His wife found it after he'd died, and she played the clip at the funeral. It was peculiar, but very apt, for Tom to sing a song at his own funeral.

The takeaway message though was - live today like it's your last. Don't put off plans, dreams, goals. Do them now.

My extended family remain a pretty remarkable and cool bunch of people. I caught up with several cousins and 2nd cousins, and am grateful that they are still really awesome folks.

I was deeply, profoundly grateful for old friends in Canada who were untroubled by my phoning them out of the blue, to ask for help. My friend Julia and her household made me welcome and I stayed more than a week, mostly just overnights, as a place to unwind, close to Mum's house.

I didn't manage to reach everyone I wanted to, which was disappointing. Will have to follow up online.

Am finishing this post and going to bed. Hoping to get to sleep sometime before 3.30am this time...
abendgules: (womaninmotion)
I've held off running while The Stupid Cough(tm) was lingering.

Today I walked, and ran veeeeeeerrrrry sloooooowly, round the park at lunchtime.

Somehow, somehow, I have to remember how much better I feel after even a very few minutes of running.

I feel cheerier within a very short time (which leads to rather unrealistic goals of running for miles and miles, that somehow haven't yet come about) but it's a noticeable effect.

It doesn't matter to me if it's adrenalin or dopamine or any of the simplistic body-chemistry reasons people throw around (not convinced these explanations hold up under scrutiny).

I just feel better; I care less about worrying things; the afternoon that follows feels manageable.

I spent much of Sunday wearing clothes for running (thinking it would motivate me) without succeeding in actually getting out the door.

On Sunday, my clothes lost out against inertia and sloth. To get through I need to get out the door even for just a few minutes.

One book on running I have suggested (paraphrased):

If you're feeling tired and unmotivated, tell yourself you'll just go out for 10 minutes.

If, in 10 minutes, you still feel tired and unmotivated, then turn round and go home.

...for me, it's the getting out the door to the first 10 minutes that is really, really hard.
abendgules: (well dang)
I'm now back at work after almost 2 weeks away. I started coughing on a Friday, and spent most of the 2 weeks following either in bed or on the sofa, coughing. One evening I managed to pull my stomach muscles, making coughing pretty miserable.

My days were livened only by Time Team for 2 hours every weekday afternoon.

The GP surgery decided to start its new booking system the week I needed an appointment, so it took 3 attempts to get in; once to see a nurse (who couldn't prescribe, even though I asked about it on the phone); once to phone to get to *talk* to a GP; once to actually see someone.

I got my first 'fit note' (the new and improved 'sick note'), which actually signed me off til yesterday. First inhaler too.

Ever since I had bronchitis at 12, my cough has sounded absolutely horrible: I sound like an asthmatic baboon aspirating a snail. So at least I am demonstrably recovering from illness, and have the moral high ground, and on the receiving end of sympathetic noises.

Robert was sick through the whole of Christmas, missing the holiday entirely, recovering only well into the new year.

I've been sick through half of February.

On top of that, I'm still commuting half the week to south London; so both of us are spending 2+ hours on the Tube and buses, and getting home grumpy and tired.

So this is proving to be a pretty discouraging and depressing season.

Roll on spring, anytime.
abendgules: (well dang)
...possibly a refit of my entire torso. Depends on what the mechanic says.

I'm now on about day 6 of a truly grotty cough, with complementary cold and fever. I've not usually had fevers but I can't explain how I, not usually a warm-body person, can be comfortable in our flat with the heat off several days running.

The coughing makes sleeping difficult; every time I change elevation (lying down to sitting up and vv) I cough. But I can't sleep sitting up - I've tried. I don't know how the Victorians did it, and don't know how their spines survived the experience.

Haggis is enjoying having human-on-tap, and is currently assuming the heraldic pose 'cat irritant', that of a cat lying across your arms as you type. But she's not impressed by my coughing either.

Broadly she prefers Robert for laps; he probably sheds more heat, and he sits more still for longer, whereas I tend to be knitting, sewing or doing other handwork that involves shifting occasionally, interrupting feline snoozes.

The cough has scuppered my plan to take part in a demo, my first in years; I'd agreed to attend Redemption a convention in Coventry, to support the proto-incipient shire there, and the lovely folks who were running it, recent participants in SCA fencing.

I'd even worked myself up to looking forward to it, as a fencing practice with a change of scenery to boot, playing with good people, and getting an inside view of a small con up close.

I might be technically not sick by Saturday, but probably not well enough to trek a couple of hours out of town, be 'on' for several hours, and trek home again.

Once again I'm grateful for Time Team; ~2 hours of archeology relieving the tedium of rediculous people shopping for aspirational houses to 'express themselves', and truly awful reality TV, interrupted only by PPI-seekers (hasn't everyone reclaimed by now?) and 'have you been hurt in an accident that wasn't your fault?' ambulance-chasing lawyers.

There's been 2 days of really lovely sun, and I'm sorry to not be able to go running in it at lunchtime.
abendgules: (Haggis)
On our return from holiday, we began to think that there's now a bit more Haggis to love than there was a few months ago.

In part, it's because the street kitties we found in Spain were so slender and trim (with some ranging into the skinny and somewhat careworn). Even mom-cats or mom-to-be cats were not very big, making their bellies swing even more than on a 'normal' cat.

So coming home to our classic stocky cobby tabby made her change all the more evident.

In part, we suspect she's not getting all the exercise she used to in our previous maisonette, which had 2x as many stairs to run up and down.

Any trip outside required stairs, as did the return journey. Any trip from outdoors to food to litterbox to bed needed stairs.

Now she spends most of her time on one level and, since encountering the thuggish local tomcat, not very far from the patio.

We kept the patio door open as late into the year as we could on fine days, which encouraged more Out, but it's no longer feasible.

English flats have neither screen doors nor vestibules. You're either In or Out, and if the door is open in winter, You're Letting in the Draught(tm).

SO: I'm embarking on a feline exercise plan with the entertainment classics of a broken arrow, some butcher cord and a few short pencils (Haggis' favourite toy on hard floors).

One of the neighbours brought in a range of cat toys while we were away, but Haggis does seem to prefer the old standbys: string on a stick, a pencil, OR whatever she can knock off the dining room table.

So far so good: I can distract her into 5 mins of chasing round the flat and up the stairs in the morning, and upon arrival home.
abendgules: (self-portrait)
Impulse buy: a 'roller' to help ease the ilio-tibial band tightness (outside of my leg from hip to knee), and a couple of novelty balls for training fencers. Good result.

Impulse buy: 20m of natural linen with a blue stripe, eBay. Bought without noticing that it's described as having fire-retardant on one side, suitable for upholstery.

So it's only good for...actually upholstering, rather than everything else I could do with 20m of natural linen with a blue stripe. Sigh.

Work continues, fencing continues, next SCA outing is not strictly SCA but the original reenactor's market this weekend - as much social as for shopping. Looks like a good turnout from our shire expected.

Looking forward to a birthday treat: trip to southern Spain later this month.

After several intense months at work I'm looking forward to a break that, unlike SCA, doesn't require me to plan a class, make new clothing, prepare scrolls, or pack an entire trailer's worth of kit for. What a joy.
abendgules: (tea in winter)
Had a short break in Bristol and Bath including [livejournal.com profile] goncalves and J's wedding, and a lazy day in London seeing the Sam Fogg exhibit in the West End.

Started sniffling on Monday night. Am now 2 days into the first cold of the season.

Suppose it could be worse and I could have been sick at the wedding, or in Bath, or all of Monday. That would have been miserable. But I'd rather not be sick at all.
abendgules: (rearview_runner)
I think that's a record.

The tendon-y thing behind my R knee is still sore. Oddly it doesn't hurt when I touch my toes, it's the lunge w/ the sore leg extended behind me that hurts.

So I didn't walk yesterday, to rest it, but tried to stretch on and off all day.

Today I tried to walk round the park without favouring the leg - mostly managed. Also managed a couple of short circuits alternating 9 paces walk with 9 paces jog. It was odd counting paces instead of breaths for a change, and the odd number meant I alternated lead foot. It didn't feel strenuous, but I did breathe harder.

I'm still 'avoiding sweating' per instructions from Gunnar Sandberg for my chest infection. He feels that if you exercise vigourously while you're sick you get better more slowly than if you rest.

OTOH, I managed this walk-run without retching or horking huge gobs of phlegm so the pace was a good choice so far.

We have a lot of walking tomorrow to neighbourhood-hunt, so I kept it a bit shorter than prev walks this week.
abendgules: (self-portrait)
The selling of Attention Deficit Disorder, in the NY Times.

It's really hard to know what's true, when so many of the sources of information are comprimised by commercial interests.

I find it hard to believe that an MD researcher who receives millions in speaking fees from a pharam company isn't influenced by their funding. How on earth would your research ever say, 'actually, we've discovered ADD isn't that common, we should reclassify this drug' after you've taken their money?

The marketing to parents is just insidious.
abendgules: (prickly)
Last week I went to the opticians - I'd noticed I was stuggling to focus at the MoL and NPG when we've been to exhibits recently, bouncing back and forth between looking through my glasses and peering under them.

I tried a different branch of the opticians this time, b/c the local one was so crap - poor service, clumsy efforts at upselling me at every opportunity.

The verdict: I have a small change in my Rx, and perhaps I'd like to try varifocals.

I waffled, went back to reprice them...and balked. Nearly £320 for two pairs of glasses, or £250 for a single pair, with varifocal lenses and a moderately priced frame.

The 2-for-1 upsell pricing irritates me; for 'only' another £70 you can get a second pair! which suggests that the first pair is not worth £250, but closer to £70...or possibly nowhere near either price, who knows? There's no easy way to see the markup on lenses and frames.

There are certainly specialist materials and skills involved in grinding lenses, but I suspect the process is now all done mechanically - if, as the pricing suggests, it's just as easy to get 2 pairs done at once as one pair, then they're not being ground by hand.

The frames are certainly not created by hand, except perhaps in assembly and fitting.

I cannot see what separates the expensive frame from the cheap ones, other than ugliness, and designer names. Only in a few cases there are extra features like hinges to prevent you from snapping the arms, or special materials like titanium. You can get expensive plastic frames as easily as cheap ones, and just as ugly.

So - buggerem. I walked out. I don't need the Rx change; my close vision is fine, though I had hoped that there would be an option to improve it; my current glasses aren't broken.

Buggerem.

Next step: better lighting for winter crafting and scribing.
abendgules: (rearview_runner)
Went for a run for the first time in weeks yesterday - complaining back, then complaining knees, then Raglan recovery delayed me much of July & August. Man do I miss this.

After work, I went out in search of new running shoes. I think I've found the ugliest shoes in creation, and bought them.

Normally the colour would put me off...but I was wearing the one and only Barbie-pink blouse I own, which was exactly the same colour as the shoes. (It's linen blend and was on sale, so sue me.)

And the shoes were on sale.

But really, they are very pink.

I'm testing out this minimal-cushioning-to-replicate-natural-gait stuff. It makes sense, to a point: our feet are already well designed to run.

The catch is that nature didn't make concrete sidewalks and asphalt paths. I try to run on grass, but I have to run on sidewalks to reach the grass in the parks.

I really, really want to regain some of the stamina I had this time last year, pre-pneumonia; late last autumn I managed 6k round the park... and within days had a cold, and it went downhill from there. I think the occasional 10k is very do-able, if I'm careful about my knees and back.

I want next Raglan to be, if not effortless, then not quite the physical struggle it was this year, to do what I wanted - and I didn't get to do as much as I'd hoped for.

Another resolution: more stretching. I'm already using a standing desk, now I have to move more, not just stand like a statue, and stretch more through the day. I was more stiff this year at Raglan than I remember from previous years.
abendgules: (kittysnail)
I'm working towards a real Saturday candy setup at home.

I've eaten all the fresh biscuits from the bakery. That's helpful, isn't it? Now they won't go stale. The store-bought biscuits can stay in the cupboard out of sight, for the sweetie.

I've avoided the biscuit tin at work, in favour of almonds and apricots.

I'm drinking smaller servings of juice, halving the squash syrup I use, and won't replace the squash after the supply runs out. (I'm a big fan of squash, in place of iced tea mix. The English don't use powdered drink mix, but prefer syrups.) Will try to replace juice with real fruit, but this will take more prep.

To replace squash I'll need more interesting teas for iced tea, I think. Drinking only water, tea, coffee and beer would be a bit dull. Any suggestions?

I'm trying to add less sugar to my morning coffee (1 cup/day only) and I don't add sugar to tea anyway.

Re [livejournal.com profile] aryanhwy's remark about designating a weekday as candyday: for events, I think I'm allowed to eat whatever's served at the event. It may include sweets, sweet cordials, etc. it may not. We'll see how it works out. Even as an active event goer, I spend more weekends at home than at events.
abendgules: (catching snowflakes)
who is thinking about thinking positively.

Scientific American article about negative emotions
abendgules: (self-portrait)
There's a story circulating this week that NHS hospitals sell access to maternity wards to a company (Bounty) who send in reps to collect personal details, so they can send you piles of junk mail and offers. Your information is sold to other companies targeting new parents.

You get sample packs of products, and confusingly, Bounty can also provide you with the forms to sign up for maternity benefits.

The conflict of interest seems pretty plain to me.

But what's really interesting is the Finnish solution: a newborn kit sent to every expectant mother, so everyone, regardless of income, is equipped with the same stuff. It started as a response to high child mortality, and now it's a part of Finnish modern culture - getting your new-baby box. The box can even double as a crib.

It's a great demonstration of what a policy to give everyone the same good start can provide.
abendgules: (hot choc comfort)
Thanks to several months of enforced inactivity, I'm feeling uncomfortably round, and had an unpleasant encounter with a measuring tape recently.

So I'm resolved to get out of the office at lunchtime more often for walks - daily isn't too often - and I'm considering drastic measures, for me: Saturday Candy.

I encountered this at Crown this year in Nordmark - that some good Swedish parents still limit their kids' intake of junk to Saturdays. I'd never heard of something so, so, so....sensible. Sheesh. (Especially when the Western world is staring an obesity epidemic down the gullet - how do the Swedes manage it, when everyone else is so helpless?)

So I'm seriously thinking: I don't eat a lot of candy, but I do like biscuits, particularly at work. I do like a sweet to follow dinner, of some kind. And I don't know if I can follow through, when my beanpole-shaped-sweetie noshes down on his treats in the evening. Could I actually follow a Saturday Candy rule?

(I'm painfully suggestible, I've discovered. Don't remember this always being the case, but by god, if I'm reading about someone enjoying a pot of coffee, all of a sudden nothing short of a pot of coffee will do...similarly when someone says 'I'd love a cup of tea' on TV, etc.)

I was put in mind of it (see? suggestible) by a BBC food article about a family giving up sugar because of a daughter's Type 1 diabetes.

I know a few people who avoid sugar, but why would you substitute dextrose for sucrose (shown in one recipe)? It all turns into sugar in your body, doesn't it?
abendgules: (downhill)
I'm now feeling more human, as in functional and thinking, rather than just walking, talking variety. Coughing mostly limited to morning, and far less serious.

This bout reminded me that my dad suffered from lingering coughs for years and years, long before his most frail years.  I wasn't terribly sympathetic at the time - Dad was a hypochondriac of the first order so giving any time to his ailments was risky (one of those vexing people who, if you said, 'how are you?' as a greeting, he'd tell you, in detail!) - but as I'm aging, I'm remembering him.

Dad was a longterm smoker, and lived with smokers, like the rest of his generation. He grew up in an industrial region of NE England, long before anyone considered occupational health, and then lived through WWII. I've always thought his asthma and emphysema (now called COPD) was life-related, rather than genetic.

Similarly, his father was a painter and decorator, and worked with all the best chemicals for that purpose that the 20th century could create (lead paints, solvents, etc) with little concern for his breathing, and unsurprisingly he was short of breath in old age.

Returned to the gym this week, testing the waters cautiously for coughing fits. Haven't keeled over yet.

Am still working on my 30 day challenge, but have taken time to do commissions. I'm expecting to incorporate gilding into at least one.

Even though I've not mastered authentic gilding, the main upshot of the 30 day challenge for me is that I'm not afraid of it anymore; afraid of getting it wrong, and afraid of using the wrong stuff. I've now seen that both the authentic stuff works (for flat gilding) and the easy-peasy one-step gilding sizes, and I can use what works, as needed. 

This is a good thing (TM) since I've long avoided exemplars with a much gilding, and have grudgingly used gouache as needed to accommodate any. I can now do better, and am free to choose those exemplars that include gilding without fear.

Ok it's not fear like fear of the dark or something - more that I don't like biting off more than I can chew artistically, and falling short (though this is a tried-and-true method for lots of folks, and guaranteed to teach you lots).

I'd much rather do something well within my capability, and do it really well. I generally avoid human figures, a lot of naturalistic details, and complex shading on this basis.

But adding gold to the repetoire, even in small quantities, opens up loads more options. 

Last weekend we went to the Hobbit, and I started a review, but now that I have a brain, I'm actually working at work, rather than blogging, so it's not finished.

Short version: The Hobbit - a disappointing journey. 


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