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Other hobbies

What do I do when I am not writing?

Quite a lot actually, because I don’t write much at all these days; I have lots of ideas for things to write but I think illness has made me lose focus and passion for it.  I was a lot more passionate about writing than I am nowadays.  It is simply because pain distracts me and makes me lose where I am heading – coughing fits and a severely runny nose are the biggest contributors for throwing me off course, yanking me out of the zone, as it were.  As I have said before in many posts, I live with a perpetual chronic cold, with ear, nose and throat infections thrown in.  It isn’t just a sniffle, I wish it were, but I can get through five hundred individual tissues on a bad day, two hundred being the norm for me.

Since the 21st December 2019 the only things I have written are what are on the blog and approximately 5000 words of non-posted works of other things, but nothing contributing to my novels.  Hand written notes of other ideas are not included in this, I am spending more and more time in bed these days as I can barely move.  All these problems are giving me severe insomnia and hypersomnia.  What do I mean by that?  Well I don’t sleep at night, I seem to sleep better during the day, for some reason my chest and sinus is worse at night.  When I do eventually sleep during the day I sleep between 7 and 16 hours in a stretch, to wake up for 2 hours in a choking fit with a dry crusted mouth.  Not a pretty visual I know.  I can go 30 to 40 hours without sleeping, purely because I am too busy clearing mucus from my system.

So it isn’t any wonder why I lack focus and concentration really.

Basically, everything I do when I am not writing, are things I can do at home, in the bedroom.  Primarily with my desktop computer, as I have recently had it moved to the bedroom due to the fact I am often too sick to get downstairs these days and I have moved my laptop downstairs for the rare occasion I am down there for more than an hour.  Because my legs swell a lot sitting at the computer desk, I can only sit here for an hour before I have to rest with legs up for thirty minutes, to get the swelling down, so even if I am on a roll, my ankles start burning and that throws me off course and I have to go and put my feet up.

I read approximately 30 to 80 pages of a book per day and about half a magazine too.  The types of things I read the most are fantasy, sci-fi and comedy fiction with a lot of non-fiction thrown in; the non-fiction I enjoy are self-help books, nutrition books, history books, theological research, mythology, folklore and cultural studies.  My current reading list is Time Song by Julia Blackburn, The Toll by Neal Shusterman and Roy Vickery’s folk flora. 

I do puzzles such as codebreakers, arrow words and gardening magazine crosswords – before my chest got too bad I used to love doing 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles, but it is frustrating having a coughing fit and losing pieces across the room all the time!

If I am not too busy fighting mucus, I get to knit, crochet, sew or practise my recorder and keyboard. 

I watch TV only if there are documentaries I am interested in, I mostly watch Smithsonian and BBC four with some Drama channel thrown in.  I will watch anything with Lucy Worsley, anything about the history of jazz, soul and classical music, nature and wildlife documentaries, documentaries about farming and country life.  I like science too, so I will watch sky at night and space science programs as well as things in the past such as time commanders, gladiators and the occasional wrestling show.  I love comedies, I only watch the comedies on the Drama Channel, but I am picky about which ones to watch.  I like only connect and some quiz and puzzle shows like Countdown, but I don’t watch them all the time.  I have to be in the mood to watch TV and before I was sick I watched around three hours of TV a week, these days it’s about two hours a day.  We never miss Michael McIntyre’s Big Show if we can help it, nor do we tend to like missing gardeners world or shows such as the RHS show, cruft’s and BBC Proms.  I’m pretty old fashioned I suppose for someone who is thirty seven.  I dislike soap operas and drama llama stuff – yes I mentioned the drama channel, but there are three hours a day where it is strictly comedy and I tend to only watch that channel (at the comedy times) or food network when there is nothing else on.  Sometimes I put on a DVD and I will often choose vampires or family animations and comedies. 

The main things I do these days are play games online.  I don’t even socialise that much online anymore, because I lose concentration and people who know me are starting to think I have memory problems.  Because a coughing fit will make me forget what I have said or what I was on about.

The online games that grip me are… Roblox, yes Henry got me onto it and to be honest, Roblox has saved my relationship with my son!  Because I find his kind of games hard to do since becoming sick – Roblox has opened a whole new world for us and we play hide and seek and various other games together.  When Henry is at school, I still sneak onto the site and play bee swarm simulator, Ripull mini games and fairy simulator.  Bee Swarm simulator especially!

Other online games I play are ovipets it is a cute breeding game on facebook and I have been addicted to that for nearly 5yrs. 

Flightrising is another breeding game, but I go in and out of phases with that.  Primarily I have played this for a whole eight months without a break, purely because Henry wants to see what dragons I breed and he loves to name them and do what we call “Dragon Lottery”.  Dragon Lottery is where I look through the offspring possibilities scrying menu to see what will happen if I pair certain dragons up, sometimes I can’t decide, so I make a list of all the best ones that go with my chosen female that day and I number them, then Henry, Paul and I will choose a number from the list and put it through random.org and sometimes someone gets the number right, in which case that person must get a treat of some kind or get to choose to do something; I breed five pairs of dragons every five days, because that is how long it takes for the eggs to hatch and we have a limit of five breeding nests on this game. 

I used to play online scrabble but I have got accused of cheating because I know too many unusual words.  I don’t cheat on that game, I don’t see what purpose that serves other than the joy of creating misery on another person who loses and I am not a vindictive person like that.  I really do have a broad vocabulary, though I rarely use it outside of scrabble and I love doing anagrams for fun, so I see a lot of seven letter words and I am a dictionary and language addict, so I know words that are weird to normal people.  Here is a list of words I know for high scoring on scrabble, which have got me accused of cheating when used previously – plus, I have read books written by scrabble champions.

ZEBU – QAT –  QUARE – SEQUIN – AWK – EUOI – AIA – QI – KIMCHI – VEX – VAV – TAV – EAU – UVEA – AEON – OXIDE – POXY – QIN – QINTAR – FATWA – QABALA – QADI – SJOE – KHAKI – EUOUAE to name but a few.  I have to admit I was shocked when SEQUIN was considered a questionable word, the others I can understand, but I was sure almost everyone knew what sequins were?

I love words and word play so much I have considered about having a word of the week thing, but I am unreliable with keeping to things like that, as you can clearly see from past efforts or lack of.

Other than sketching with pencils or sharpies in bed and/or colouring in and story planning, I don’t do much else on a bad day.  On a good day I can add about an hour of light gardening to the list but not much else anymore.

I’m pretty boring I suppose, by my peers.  I can’t even cuddle the rabbit lately because I cough too much it terrifies the poor thing!  I suppose I sound like some big barking bear or something to the poor creature.

I have gone out to the doctors and walked past dogs when I am like this and the dogs think I am barking at them, they react accordingly, it is embarrassing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Music and Me

I apologise for not posting my word prompts before noon, I got a little too excited today with a delivery I had of a new musical instrument I am attempting to play – something I can hear on bad days and doesn’t require difficult fingering for my left hand – a recorder.   

I have always been musically inclined, since a small child I would visit my grandmother and play on her piano in her dining room whilst she prepared lunch, we often visited her on Sundays, usually just my dad and I.  I would play all the notes and eventually started to learn some tunes by ear.  I never learned to read music even now I have never learned to read and understand music fully or professionally or with professional help. 

The piano was my first attempt at music, always perfect righthandedly and terrible with my left hand due to my disability.  When I was around seven years old my dad talked mum into buying me a keyboard so I can practise at home whenever I liked and ever since my house has never been without a keyboard in it.  I have never personally owned a piano and I never learned to use a pianos foot pedals or learn the proper terminologies for anything regarding music, except for one word I learned listening to classic FM radio as a teenager = Adagio means to play slowly.

I was then upgraded to a more professional style keyboard aged seventeen as a birthday present, this had digitisation to it (I think that’s what people call it), where I could hook up the keyboard to the internet and download new songs to learn, because this particular keyboard had a function where it taught you how to place your hands and how to keep time.  When I was about nineteen my brother gave me an old copy of Cubase that a friend of his owned and I learned I could compose music by using this, without ever knowing how to actually write the music.  I had saved the music I composed onto an MP3 floppy disk and I still have it to this day and the keyboard too actually!  Unfortunately that Cubase I had is years out of date and I have never been able to finance a replacement, so until I can replace Cubase, my composing days are over!

Pianos and keyboards were never my only dip into the music world; I have in fact learned to play a paper and comb, some notes on a harmonica, belly dancing cymbals, some tunes on my dad’s bugle, an xylophone at a day centre for children when I was around thirteen, some notes on a guitar but again my left hand failed me and I never did get around to replacing my guitar with a left handed version, I also played quite well an accordion, but my parents sold it at a car boot sale once, they claimed they were having a hard time and I never did get it back, I was doing better on that than the keyboard and I had rather of given up the keyboard instead. The fact I did better with an accordion stands to reason as it was a right handed instrument and the fingers I needed on my left hand could do the job properly.

I haven’t played music for nearly six years because I was ill, but also because the house got a little too crowded and messy and I couldn’t set up my keyboard in a permanent position anymore; afraid it would get damaged I had it boxed up and stored safely under the bed in the spare room and I feel that a neglected and unplayed musical instrument is sacrilege. 

Funnily enough my depression started around the same time I boxed up the keyboard.  I came to this realisation a few days ago but I knew my left hand is worse these days and I can’t improve my left handed playing at all now.  I nearly got into a deeper form of depression with this realisation but then I watched a YouTube video to stop the negative thoughts in their tracks, I stumbled across a TedTalk by a woman named Barbara Sher and the title of the video was “Isolation is the dream-killer”; I have been thinking so much about how isolated I am despite my battle to escape from it because of the struggles I had with certain people in my life a few years ago.  I thought maybe loneliness was one of the main reasons I am depressed, how can I be sure it is missing a musical instrument? 

Well anyway, here is a link to see the video for yourselves – https://youtu.be/H2rG4Dg6xyI

She put out a question that I had to think about for myself and that is “What is your dream and what are your obstacle/obstacles”? 

My first thought I don’t exactly remember, but I do remember that I had several dreams I have that are still unaccomplished and most of the those dreams boil down to financial insecurity where I have to think twice about buying a bottle of Pepsi and of course, isolation.

I browsed a book by my bedside, I think it was called “The Little Book of Wonder” and the lady who had written it said that you have to remain curious throughout your life, if you don’t know something, don’t shrug and think that it doesn’t matter and it isn’t important, if you had that question in your head, go and find the answer as it might lead you into an entirely different path in life.   

So I absorbed those words and thought about stuff and then I browsed more YouTube videos and I found a doctor of psychology called Guy Winch in another TedTalk; He said that loneliness can knock significant number of years off our life and cause us to become ill, it can affect our immune system greatly because our emotional wellbeing determines whether we are healthy or not.  This explained a lot to me, because since living in my own home with my husband and having a baby I have ironically became more isolated than I ever was before I left my parents’ house (ironic because my main form of abuse and neglect was social isolation growing up, even as an adult it was very coercive and controlling the relationship between my mother and I).  But because I had a baby and fell ill just a few weeks shy from his third birthday, I became drastically isolated after being free from true isolation for nearly three years!  In fact for the first eight months of my illness I couldn’t get out of bed to go and talk to a doctor about what was wrong! 

It was around this time I decided to never talk to my parents again too, so the only guaranteed socialising I could have done when I became sick, I cut off.  I was getting five or more phone calls per day from my mum and once a week visits that lasted six hours a time, to having no phone calls with anyone and only annual visits from my adult nephews, to then having just the annual visits ONLY for the next six years.

That isn’t good for anybody!

So I had a long hard look at my life and realised that depression and loneliness is killing me, literally.  It must be, because around six years ago I was diagnosed with a handful of different types of auto-immunity diseases and recently doctors are suspecting MS and/or neurological problems as well. 

One thing I have always been frightened of is Motor-Neurone disease, it runs rife on my dad’s side of the family and my dad’s family as a whole are very close within family, extensive family (we still talk to our cousins four times removed) but don’t socialise much outside of family and church friends or salvation army duties. 

I wondered if illness due to isolation or loneliness could be genetic on my father’s side.

Anyway, Dr Guy Winch’s video can be found here – https://youtu.be/F2hc2FLOdhI

Worrying about being isolated, too sick to socialise and the expense of joining college or a social club (because I have to rely on public transport), I asked some questions to the universe.  I asked the universe what you want me to do?  What do I have to do to change things being there are more obstacles for me than anyone else I know?  I got no answers.

Then I asked the universe that if my life was supposed to be to help motivate others, or be as creative as I can be in all creative interests I have then send me money somehow – if my life isn’t meant to be like this, then make something else happen to blatantly show me what it is I was made to do! 

So, knowing that money doesn’t just fall onto the doorstep when you implore the universe to give it to you – I tried to make receiving it easy.  I decided to (and this is no exaggeration) I decided to take a risk, I had just £15 left for my own personal treats (not the families, my own, I get around £40 a month just for me it is Paul’s rule that I treat myself each month) – I took that £15 and I spent it on 888ladies.com and I won £200, for me that is like winning 5k, I was so happy it paid off my overdraft and I could have a little to spend on a new bra and some new trousers as my clothes are getting too big on me lately.  But I thought that doesn’t change anything; it just helps my current situation without improving it so I took another risk – I said the universe, if I am supposed to learn a musical instrument and buy art supplies I will need this again or a bit more please.  So I rolled the slots again and I instantly won another £250 that is enough I thought, that is enough to get some art supplies and buy a cheap instrument – but I didn’t know what instrument to get?

This made me very happy and I decided to “Be Curious” as the book said earlier that night. 

I asked myself some questions.

What does all these musical instruments I hear on the BBC Proms sound like as solo instruments?  I didn’t know a majority of them singularly.  So I again, went onto YouTube and I searched through every musical instrument I could think of to find solo samples. 

I made a list of my favourite sounds.

Piano

Harpsichord

Jazz Piano

Bass

Trombone

French horn

Piccolo

Recorder

Saxophone

Crystallaphone

Glockenspiel

An apprehension engine

Xylophone

Harp

Lute

Cello

Accordion

Violin

And trumpet

There were others but I don’t remember them. 

Then I asked…

What musical instrument can I learn that has limited mobility to the hand?

Perhaps go back to the accordion and this time learn to read music?

A recorder doesn’t require the left pinkie to play.

A trombone

A xylophone – crystallaphone or a glockenspiel

I then thought about the types of classical music I love the most and I know that I love folk, medieval and baroque above all others! 

So I decided on the recorder first and foremost and eventually the glockenspiel. 

So I bought this recorder for me and Henry (because whenever I do something new Henry nags us to get him the same so he can share practise time with me, which is sweet and expensive sometimes)!

 

 

It was pretty cheap £16.37 each from Amazon.co.uk

It is a Yamaha YRS302BIII Soprano, plastic.  When I had decided it would be the recorder I discovered a wonderful lady on YouTube called Sarah Jeffrey who teaches you practically everything about being a recorder player, she is very enthusiastic and passionate about the instrument and makes learning about it fun!

She can be found here, this is the first lesson https://youtu.be/-d6uVjIEkMY

Until I found her videos I never knew how many different types of recorders there are and that they can all be played the same way, because they are the same instrument.  Different woods and plastic and lengths can make different sounds.  A true and passionate recorder player will have a large collection of different recorders to choose from.  I am getting a baroque alto before Christmas as I am taking to this instrument remarkably and yes, I am trying to learn how to read music now.

I have practised for three hours today and I am very tired now.  I know it is likely I will have two months a year off from practise because I am prone to very nasty chest infections in the winter that usually always lead to pneumonia for some reason.

So, there you have it.  The reason behind why I was late today.

Let me know in the comments below whether or not you are also musically inclined and share with me what you play and what you are passionate about, I would love to know!

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