A Start Not The Start (by )

There is so much awesome stuff happening for me right now that I am not even sure where to begin with telling everybody about it, it is over whelming and wonderful and also twinned with my grief and health issues which affect me and the family in general. I have lots of back blogging to do - I have the photos and even stuff written but I have in general lacked energy.

But I need to make a start and this month was the one I chose as the starting point. It is not The Start but rather a start and it is the start of many things.

There are many projects a foot and some in the pipe line, some have been dormant for too long. I feel scared that another curve ball be thrown to us and I am currently typing at half speed having managed to mangle my finger yesterday - I dislocated the top of it but it popped back in ok - it was a searing scream of pain but I often dislocate things - it has gotten worse over night which sucks. I am hoping it will settle down and I won't have to bother the dr with something they really can do nothing about - hyper mobility sucks - mine has gotten a lot worse since the miscarriages - I have devised work arounds so I can get on with everything.

SO life is challenging, life is scary and life is rich.

From Spring time I have been in the midst of Moon Mania, I went on library tours with Space Craft and the Cuddly Science Puppets, I did the online Art Blast for the actual Apollo 50th celebrations, I did numerous activities for the Earth and Moon Festival including sitting by an giant inflatable earth getting people to join in with a community textiles project. I did poetry events and run creative writing workshops, I even got my rocks out at various museums.

Thanks to the Heritage Hub and Gloucester Archives I had oral history training to help me collect as many Moon Memories as I can - I have a lot but I want MORE!

I am compiling a book called The Moon Miscellany inspired by the TV celebrations centred around the actual moon landings - it was my dad's idea and it does hurt that he isn't here - even his moon memory is half written - it shall go in the book anyway. I did talks and came up with other things that I just could not secure funding for but which I hope to take forward over the next few years.

Also I thought artists where bad at sticking to deadlines - but I am still pretty much waiting on ALL bar one of the science and tech folk who were going to write me essays - blooming academics!

The fantastic thing about Moon Mania was that it contains lots of other smaller projects and I got my own funding to take the Moon Maker Meets and Moon Mega Make forward and that is something I did not believe I could do at the beginning of the year.

Everything was themed on space and I even snuck it in with an art exhibition at the Museum of Gloucester as part of the Gloucester Poetry Festival - I could not have done with out friends and strangers alike who volunteered their time. I gave everyone Moon Mania t-shirts.

I've done a huge photo study of the moon using camera and telescope and upped the astrophotography game - I ended up missing the science of it all very badly but also got to share that science with people.

Yesterday Alaric came home with a crunchy bar for me - the chocolate had been given to him as a bribe because someone I have never met wants to see my rocks - my SPACE ROCKS! This pleases me probably far more than it should.

Moonmania has been fantastic with fabric artists, Lino print makers, steampunk, poets, storytellers, comic book artists, glass workers and photographers jumping aboard. And it is not the end of that but a beginning!

My living room is full of crates of meteorites and paintings of space and little origami stars and I need to work out what other art spaces it can go up in! I was very lucky that the community textile project got to go up over the summer as part of Art In The City.

This summer I also won a traineeship with the Carnival Arts Partnership and got to work on the Gloucester Carnival - I learnt so much stuff and made a lot of different types of dragons including getting to go and work with the amazing Matt West at his workshop seeing how larger structures are put together. I discovered a new pair mache technique, how to make giant puppets, and was rather envious of Charles vacuum former. Cheltenham Hackspace helped me through all the Moon Mania and the the Carnival Madness - we were also having work done on the house so that my mum could move in properly at the same time - there may have have been more tears and frustration than I would have liked.

From this I know that I want to do bigger pieces of art and it has fed back into the science and the craft and the performance side of things.

I want to make things with metal and wood - and resin.

This is a beginning.

During the summer and autumn I also got to attend some free business and fundraising workshops with Jolt and the Culture Trust, this was incredibly helpful in building up contacts and directly lead to a group of us story tellers finalising a dream we'd been working on. Gloucester now has a story telling night and that is fantastic! More than fantastic in fact and I hope we can get it self sustaining.

Between the story telling and popping out to do a little bit more comedy I want to resurrect my radio or podcasting and maybe even mix it in with the oral histories stuff. I definitely want to do more acting - I have just finished my Frightmare run and it is still THE BEST JOB EVER!!!

I have been making dragons, and been part of goblin markets, performed and reviewed and created zines. Though my foray into the world of comic books has halted somewhat and I can't really see a way back in - we are now firmly entrenched in the cosplay side of things but again this was really my families thing whilst I sat at the stalls - I need to sort out more things for the zines and books and oh boy is the publishing stuff zooming off ahead!

The cosplay has kind of morphed into historical reenactement which is interesting.

And of course it's been 10 years since I started the insane writing challenge NaNoWriMo - so this month marks the beginning of me pulling the big over all project I have been creating into some sort of shape. The Punks Universe - it is more than that - it is the story I was writing with my dad when I was a kid and it is the story my kids make characters for and it needs to be out in the world properly and not scattered here there and everywhere with half of it hidden.

This is more than enough to keep me busy and sometimes I am too busy and I am also a worried mummy - Jean appears to have inherited the hyper mobility though is one joint short of a diagnosis of the syndrome but also needs to now go to the Dr with her back and hip. This I am fearing will put the kibosh on some of the dreams and hopes and it is a sucky condition. Mary is very flexible but is a dancer, an acrobat so I think she'll be fine she just has horrendous melt downs and though excelling at maths is struggling so with reading and writing (though she has drastically improved over the summer thanks primarily to the Library and their Reading Challenge that she loves - it was space themed!) - considering again my own issues with dyslexia and ADHD I am worried.

But we will adapt and try not to be sad and angry but sometimes that is hard.

This is a beginning, a start - this year has been an upheaval and a transition - the last two years have been a personal trial of pain and suffering and yet I have created, my family have achieved and we are Polyps together against the world - and we need to be because - even the good things are hard to be enthusiastic about and I very much love the good things.

So I shall end with some good things - I was offered a place on a song writing workshop - I attended and worked with musicians and made a thing and the thing is on an album and I am even doing the word bit and that is an AWESOME thing I have always wanted to do. I ended up performing at the 3 choirs festival.

Alaric loves working with physical things - metal work is his main thing and he enrolled on a welding curse and he has done all his exam pieces already and it has bought him much joy.

Jean re-sat her radio license exam and passed and has been enjoying radioing Alaric and they did their first Raynet event - this is a voluntary organisation that provides comms support for community events ie radioing through accidents or where crowd control need to go and work as a back up network for emergencies and disasters like the floods in 2007 when all the phone networks went down.

Mary has chopped all her hair off to donate for wig making for those kids who have lost theirs due to cancer treatment, also Mary can read... Mary read out a poem at the last poetry event, Mary has worked very hard on this.

Nanny has started making a Harry Potter cover for the cot settee.

Moving Story Telling Cafe (by )

Over the last year or so I have been working very hard with two amazing story tellers to bring story telling to Gloucester and finally we have arrived - our first story telling session is on Thursday 21st November 2019 at The Cafe Rene - this was the first pub I ever went in around here back before we even moved to Gloucestershire. The pub has some amazing history including a well inside and is next to a glorious grave yard and ancient ruins. It is a fantastic venue.

This is the first of four nights though we hope to get it running on a permanent basis.

Gloucester Moving Story Cafe

Aural traditions such as singing and story telling are the basis of our modern literature and novel reading not to mention the theatre and even film. The tradition has held on by it's finger tips but now it is time for it to be once more!

Come and share with us 🙂

It is for grown ups only and sadly due to the antiquity of the building it is not wheel chair accessible though the other venues are.

Enthusiasm (by )

When I was a child, I was full of enthusiasm - as a keen self-taught engineer I was soaking up knowledge about the wonderful things that could be done, and my future was full of promise; I lacked the tools and money to build many of the things I planned, so focussed on tinkering with software (once I had a computer, programming was free!). But I was confident that I would be able to turn my skills to employment and earn enough to buy tools, and then I'd build so much cool stuff.

However, it took a while to get there, and along the way, I accumulated lots of pressures on my time as well. These days, when I have free time, I'm often too physically exhausted to do much, and that enthusiasm is all gone - nothing seems rewarding any more, and I fritter the free time away.

But it's not always like that. A few times a year, a burst of enthusiasm comes to me (and I think I know how to trigger it deliberately, too).

This weekend, I did a lot of DIY. I worked on the van, tidied the house, sealed the skirting boards in the kitchen (I've learnt how to apply sealant neatly!), caught up on my emails, did some financial admin, wrote up a lot of scrappy notes I had into my filing system (re-organising some bits of it on the way), and caught up on work hours I'd missed in the week due to visiting my sick father in hospital (he hurt his knee, and is recovering well!).

The combination of dealing with emails, filing my notes, and organising my filing system, however, brought back The Enthusiasm.

Which, on the one hand, is great - I used that energy to get a lot more done than I usually do.

On the other hand, it also meant that when I went to bed at 10:30pm (for a 6:30am alarm clock start), I couldn't sleep as my head was buzzing with ideas. I wrote them up in my bedside notepad, which usually releases the pressure of thinking about them, but one of them was exciting (a really nice way of supporting HTTPS in my Web hosting stack), and one of them wouldn't stop going around in my head - I came up with a simpler design for a new desk/shelving system I want to build in my workshop, combining my computer desk and an electronics workbench. This was stuck in my head because I couldn't just think it through to completion and then record it; I was trying to visualise all the fine details to work out how it would fit together, and it wouldn't fit in my head. So about 2am I gave in and went downstairs and fired up OpenSCAD and bashed out a 3D model of it, which also spits out a cutlist of what lengths of square steel tubing and areas of plywood I'll need to make it:

Figuring out all the fine details and seeing how they'd fit together finally relieved the mental pressure, and sometime past 4:30am, I fell asleep... getting somewhat less than two hours' sleep.

Today I've been able to divert the energy to my work, which is great, as that's what I'm supposed to be doing - and using that energy to make up for the fact that I'm dog tired. But I still spent my lunch break writing up my overnight notepad notes into the filing system and doing a few of the tasks I'd thought of, including planning a comprehensive consolidation of my sewing supplies into a proper sewing box plus a tiny sewing kit for emergency repairs, that can go into my bag. And writing this blog post!

I'm confident this is not evidence of bipolar disorder, because I'm fully aware of my slightly manic state, and I'm following tasks through to completion! But it's still not an ideal situation.

I've observed in the past that The Enthusiasm can be invoked by doing "infrastructure" work - updating my filing system, tidying my workshop, building tools, maintaining the van, building software infrastructure, etc. so my plan is thus:

  1. Book out infrastructure days.
  2. Work on infrastructure projects in the mornings. Try to remember the Enthusiasm I've felt before (this blog post will help as a memory jogger) plus sheer willpower to get me started, even if I don't feel like it.
  3. Let my enthusiasm take me where it takes me in the afternoon.
  4. Do this frequently enough that it's not all backed up inside me somewhere, so just a bit comes out at a time in a controlled manner, rather than big multi-day sleepless orgy of creativity.

Wish me luck!

Body Blob (by )

Again issue with doing lots of performance stuff is all the photos of me being fat - they are me doing things and I will myself use them but you know when good photographers still don't manage to make you look good! Well that... I am well aware that I have gained weight what with the miscarriages and just not caring with Dad's and others deaths.

We've been monitoring my weight weekly and everything I've tried results in 12 and a half stone :/ except that time I ate all the crap and I mean all of it from BBQ through to giant ice creams and I went down to 12 and 1/4 stone - the next week was period time complete with swollen painful legs and that was 12 and 3/4 stone but was then back to 12 and 1/2 stone the following week (it took about four days to loose the swollen feet and legs - something I have never before had outside of pregnancy and even then only really Jean's when I had all the blood clot issues).

The nurse for thyroid, diabetes and dietary stuff no longer exists as her role got axed at the drs - and I need to loose weight - I am literally carrying around half a me extra! As I should be 8 stone but the healthiest I've ever been was 10 stone when I was an outdoors pursuits instructor.

It's the mobility that really does me in with the weight or rather the lack of it and I am sick of it. Yesterday the venue we were at had no real food so I bought a chocolate bar but then felt so guilty about it I didn't eat it and instead ended up eating a really late dinner at home where I ate more cheesey type stuff than was sensible as I was REALLY hungry by this point.

I think I need to just follow what I did before with the nurse but am doing more work stuff now and I was so light headed, Passy outy and feeling like I was going to throw up that I just don't see how I can do that and be working at the same time :/

I have gamified my walking with Pokemon go and feel that if I can just shift some weight then my pelvis will improve and I'll be able to loose the crutch and maybe even go back to park runs or something - I have bought a load of medals ready to complete various challenges to help motivate me - they start with walking and ramp up so we shall see!

Please don't suggest the dieting groups like slimming world and weight watchers as they make me want to punch something and keep punching if I am completely honest! They are pretty much my definition of hell and I don't mean the food part of it - it's just a social dynamic thing - I have friends and family they worked really well for but they are not for me.

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