Friday, 29 February 2008

Great Minds Think Alike

I’ve not been keeping to my running schedule very well. It’s the usual excuses: the weather, too busy, too tired, sore from my last run, I can’t be bothered basically. As a consequence I’m not making any progress in my fitness goals and I’m getting fed up with myself. It crossed my mind that if I went public with my goals I might be a bit more likely to stick to them. I think this guy must have been reading my mind or maybe it’s not such a novel idea, using one’s web log for such purposes.

So, my public goal is that I get out and go for some/any old sort of shuffle 4 times a week. That’s more like back in the good old days when I was fit (NB: my definition of fit is being able to do a half-marathon comfortably on a whim, ideally under 2 hours, but who knows if I’ll ever get back there again). Soon as I post this, I’m going to have to account to you whether I kept my commitment. Hmmmm...go on, girl, push that button!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008


My dance lessons were probably compulsory. Mom and her brother, a choreographer, did demonstration ballroom dancing as teenagers in the 1930's. Uncle Bernard was a fantastically patient teacher and where he left off Mom's best friend, Jewell, took over. I made my stage debut at the age of 3 and continued weekly classes, annual conferences and recitals up to the age of 16. We took tap, ballet and modern dance classes, all crammed into one evening a week. Classes were grouped by age and each had a precious name: Rubies, Sapphires, Pearls, etc. Jewell's mother, Jean, sewed the recital costumes for mom's who couldn't make them. Mom and Daddy took the recital photographs.

I never was particularly good, mind; short, pear-shaped girls with more baby fat than muscle aren't magically transformed in a couple of hours a week. I always knew I was pretty lousy and just enjoyed the classes and the clothes.

The other great thing about Jewell's classes was that a bunch of us, though we lived all over Oklahoma City, took turns hosting dancing parties at the weekends. We danced for hours to the popular psychedelic music of the 1970's. A sort of initiation for new people was to dance wildly -- with the rest of us -- to the full length of the
Iron Butterfly's In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida, something like 17 minutes long. We had long hair, wore ragged and embroidered bell bottoms, painted flowers on our faces and decorated our rooms with black light paint and strobe candles, but we were all straight, as in not into drugs. I guess dance classes were my first 'health kick'.

I still tap Uncle Bernard's routine if alone in an elevator or whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. I still have my instruments of torture (toe shoes). I rarely listen to my old albums, but when I do, I still love dancing just like I did 30 (ouch!) years ago.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


After reading, needlework is the next passion I developed. Mom taught me to knit, crochet and embroider at an early age. Unfortunately I never developed past the stage of knitting squares and rectangles though at the age of 8, with a lot of Mom's help, I remember crocheting Pierre the Poodle whilst recovering from an accident (I rode my bike across the street and got hit by a car). I recently discovered modular knitting which opened up a whole other world. Exploring this further is on my extensive list of things to enjoy in my semi-retirement.

Though doing needlework is viewed as
homely (in the English sense of the word), I find doing needlework to be a sensual practice. I get a lot of pleasure from seeing the pretty colours, handling the textures and experiencing the dexterity of my hands. I also like the quiet space it gaves me to be alone with my own thoughts.

All through my 20's I was rarely seen without my needlework bag, containing a counted cross-stitch project. The bigger and more complex the better and it sometimes took several years to finish a pillow cover. My ex-husband even chose his cars to provide me with a separate light so I could sew during the long driving vacations we took. (I actually have two ex-husbands but for the sake of simplicity have decided not to differentiate between them here.) I fell away from doing cross-stitch when in my 30's I needed to do more cooking, laundry and helping with homework. It seems looking back that if I got to sit down I was more likely to fall asleep than count stitches.

My most recent fetish seems to be with using found objects, such as broken umbrellas and single gloves, and using crafting supplies I already own (including an extensive supply of embroidery thread). I once bought a sweater from a thrift store intending to unravel and re-knit it, but machine knit doesn't seem to cooperate very well; at least I've not had any luck with it: I can only get short pieces. However, having attempted to crochet with embroidery floss I hit upon the idea of crocheting 6 or more strands of ordinary thread with a small hook. Combining colours was great fun but it did use huge amounts of thread to make even a small rectangle.

Right now I'm crocheting my own 'fantasy yarn' using red and purple thread, some metallic thread and bits of string pulled away from a fuzzy glove I found on the way home from work one evening. It reminds me of poodle tails, having skinny shorn bits alterating with fluffy segments. I've no idea what, if anything, I will do with it yet, but I'm having fun with it, and that's the whole point.

Friday, 15 February 2008


I cannot imagine life without books; I've been a reader all my life. Some of my earliest memories are seeing my parents reading (often with the radio or TV on in the background whereas I prefer silence). I never have enough bookshelves. My favourite rooms in the grand houses I've toured are nearly always the libraries.

My local library now has online access, great for renewing loans about to be overdue! It also keeps track of the books borrowed in the past year. I've often wished for this information, sometimes to retrieve a special book but also just to have an overview of what has been going into my brain. Everyone believes the books a person chooses tells a lot about them which is why we display our books and take pride in the large number or their intellectual quality.

My library book list mainly shows that I'd rather read than do anything useful and it's even worse considering I frequently re-read most of the books I own. This list also indicates my recent interests in subjects and authors. I've grouped them by fiction and non-fiction, but otherwise they appear more or less in the order they were borrowed.

Knitting: 20 simple & stylish wearables for beginners – Ham, Catherine
Ragwork Reakes, Lizzie
Last-minute Knitted Gifts – Hoverson, Joelle
Your Money or Your Life – Hall, Alvin D
Converting to an Eco-friendly Home – Hymers, Paul
How to Cook Everything – Bittman, Mark
The Energy Efficient Home – Waterfield, Patrick
Thrifty Ways for Modern Days – Lewis, Martin
Your Taxes & Savings – Lewis, Paul
Wild Blackberry Cobbler & Other Old Fashioned Recipes – Stewart, Katie
Every Second Counts – Armstrong, Lance
Castle – Morris, Marc
The Bicycle Book – Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Allotment Book – Cleveland, AM
The Half-hour Allotment – Leendertz, Lia
Vegetables for Small Gardens – Brown, Lynda
The Freelance Writer’s Handbook – Crofts, Andrew
Life Stripped Bare – Hickman, Leo
Practical Allotment Gardening – Foley, Caroline
Women’s Institute Complete Christmas – Cook, Sian
Find a Fortune – Spicer, Lorne

Hit List, Burglars Can’t be Choosers, A Dance at the Slaughterhouse and All the Flowers are Dying - Block, Lawrence
Weep for Me – MacDonald, John D
The Lollipop Shoes - Harris, Joanne
The Clerkenwell Tales – Ackroyd, Peter
Bad Men and The White Road – Connolly, John
Saving Fish from Drowning – Tan, Amy
The American Boy, The Suffocating Night, and A Stain on the Silence - Taylor, Andrew
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies, Morality for Beautiful Girls and The Kalahari Typing School for Men - McCall Smith, Alexander

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Lots to Think About

We attended the funeral of a friend's wife yesterday. Though she was only in her mid-50's, I think I may be entering that stage of my life, when funerals are an increasingly common event. Made me think - again - about my own life, what I have done and am doing with it. It was a lovely service; made me wish I'd known her better.

Heard about a 'little' job I might be interested in. It meets two of my criteria: part-time and walking distance from home. I wasn't looking, but then that seems a sign to me. I am going to talk to them today to see what's what and if I am tempted to try it. It also meets another criteria: easy to walk away from if I don't like it after all.

We're going to go check out the LDS family history library this afternoon, something I've been wanting to do for ages. I hope to pick up where I left off in Salt Lake City, digging through the parish records in Weiskirchen, Saarland, Germany.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Just Do It

I can see this becoming the newest obsession. I think a lot about what I might write but then don't do it because I start wondering what people will think. I need to remember why I decided to start this in the first place: for fun (mostly mine, maybe a little bit for you as well). So, I need to quit second guessing myself and just get on with it, right? Right!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Good Day

It's been a good day today.

Got a bit of un-cluttering done in the kitchen (does everyone know about Flylady?) Cooked a satisfying dinner. Went out for a 'run' (probably more of a 'jog' or a 'shuffle' but, hey...)

I'm easily pleased.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Diving In

A journey of a thousand miles must start with a first step.

Since I loathe reading instructions, my first step will have to be off the high dive. Who knew there were so many other Internet Journals? (I agree with Anna Wintour, blog is such an ugly word). When I was in work my computer explorations took me in a completely different direction, but that was then and (thankfully!) this is now. It feels good to finally have made a beginning.