sareini: The Mountains of Madness have many little plateaus of sanity - Discworld (Mountains of Madness)
Tomorrow I'm heading up to spend the weekend with my niece (my brother having managed to plan a week in Wales at the same time so he and the dog won't be there), where we will be going to the Popup Wool Show. I did this last year and everything was fine; we had a great time, I spent far too much on yarn, and my neighbours checked in on the cats. This year Ross is doing the catsitting, which is even better as Lily loves Ross (she sits on his lap, which she won't even do for me), and even though Callie still mostly flees from the sight of him, she does that for everyone and last time she actually came out and sniffed him, and so everything should be fine.

So of course yesterday I had two massive panic attacks over leaving Lily which left me physically sick and nearly fainting, and all because Lily meowed at me once, which to my broken brain apparently translated into, "Lily is going to die this weekend". I'm at least calmer today because I've managed to cram some sense into myself, but I've still got a headache from making myself so worked up yesterday.

I hate the utter randomness that my panic attacks follow, because I can't do anything to counter or prepare for them. Ideas and intrusive thoughts just enter my head out of nowhere and make themselves at home, and the next thing I know I'm lying in bed thinking that the floor is going to collapse under me, or that someone is preparing to break into the house right this very moment - or that the cats will drop dead if I leave the house for more than an hour. And with the current state of my local authority's mental health services, the chances of me getting any sort of treatment (CBT or otherwise) before 2018 at the earliest are slim to none. So I mainly have to figure out coping methods on my own.

One method (technically two) is to distract myself with knitting or crochet. Right now I have a 10-stitch blanket on hand for random panic attacks (I'm making it with a ball of Sirdar Colorwheel because I think the long colour changes of the yarn will work well with the pattern, and it feels really soft), and last night I finally found with a pattern for a skein of yarn I got at last year's Popup Wool Show that's 55% Bluefaced Leicester Superwash and 45% silk - Persephone. I'm probably going to take this one with me this weekend as the pattern is incredibly easy to memorise (and the ball is smaller than the Colorwheel).
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
Callie caught and ate a spider the other night.

It was about 2am and I was trying to sleep, but Callie was bouncing all over the place, squeak chirp meow, crash bang wallop. So I got up and turned the light on to see what was making her so hyper, and found her fixated on a corner of the room. I looked there and there was a spider - looking quite a bit like a Daddy Longlegs (so I suppose that's what it was) hanging from a web halfway down the wall. Callie was chirping excitedly at it in the way that cats do when they're trying to hunt something and haven't got the stealth tactic down. I wished her luck and got back into bed; two minutes later she leaps up onto the bed with half a thorax and a couple of legs sticking out of her mouth.

I feel slightly guilty for not trying to stop her, but at the same time I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have been possible anyway, for she is a cat and hunting is something they do. Even 100% indoor cats like Callie. She once brought me a fly she'd caught - as in, carried it up the stairs in her mouth and dropped it gently on my foot while I was in bed. It was not only still intact, it was still alive. That's pretty impressive (if also gross).

Lily doesn't bother much with hunting now, although in the past she and Cracker used to double-team spiders in the living room - one on each side of wherever one hid so they had all escapes covered. And the first time Marley killed a pigeon in my back yard, Lily raced to the back door in hopes of being let out to join in the fun. It's interesting to see that the instinct is still there and so strong, even with cats who've never had to hunt their own food even once in their lives.
sareini: "Made a note in my diary on the way here. Simply says, 'Bugger'." from Blackadder (Bugger)
Ugh, but this week has been a mess.

The first half of the week was taken up with my mind waging a minor war against me. I would be lying in bed trying to fall asleep and I'd hear "voices" coming from "downstairs". Whether these were actually noises from outside that I was mishearing, or hypnagogic hallucinations I don't know, but the result was the same - bolt awake and lie there trying to work out what was going on for several minutes each time. I ended up having to remind myself that, if there was really someone else in the house, the cats would be reacting to it and they were still lying, dead to the world, on the bed or in the bedroom doorway.

I had a moment of thinking Nick was still here as well, which was disorientating more than upsetting, but still not something I want to be happening regularly (because of the disorientation).

My anxiety's been particularly high and the one time I went out this week I couldn't stop myself from thinking that everyone was watching me.

And then finally I had no concentration for most of the week, so I couldn't really get anything done. So thank you, broken brain.

Then, over the last couple of days, I've been suffering from a lurgy. Headache, aches in all my limbs as though I'd just hiked up and down a mountain, a slight fever, a feeling of being utterly run down and stomach upsets. Hopefully I'm starting to come out of it now (in that I ache slightly less today) but I probably still need to catch up on a fair bit of sleep (which I couldn't do today as I had to sit around waiting for a delivery of cat litter all day that didn't arrive until 6:30pm).

***

Creativity-wise, this week I mainly worked on the Rock A-Z cross stitch. I took a day off today, because my arms already ached without adding the pain of RSI from holding them in the same position for hours while I stitched, but I've finished up to the letter O, so I'm at least halfway through. I figure it's going to take me a little over a week now to finish it altogether.

I've also been practicing sock skills. I'm enjoying using the magic loop and toe-up patterns for knitting socks, but I'm still having the problem of ladders on either side of the sock from the magic loop. So far I've not had much success in correcting this; I'm either going to have to keep looking till I find a way that works for me, or just resign myself to the fact that I'm going to be crocheting the sides together when I'm done.

Finally, I think I've at last come up with a workable idea for a video review series to go with my blog. I'd originally thought I was just going to do video reviews of movies I'd already reviewed, but I kept thinking that was somewhat redundant at best. Then today I remembered the old Masters of Horror TV series from 2005-2007, where a whole bunch of horror directors got together and each made an hour-long TV episode, doing (for the most part) whatever they wanted. I'd been thinking about doing a review marathon for them at some point anyway, and so it struck me that trying out a video review format would probably work with them without disrupting the movie review portion of the blog. So now the next step is to start to properly learn how to use Premiere Elements 14, which has been sitting on my computer waiting for a year now. And also to work out whether I have a microphone that works, or if the part of my computer tower that I plug my headset in is in need of fixing.
sareini: Organising gods is like herding cats into straight lines. They don't take naturally to it - American Gods (Organising Cats)
I've spent the past few days really focusing on the A-Z of rock cross stitch for my brother's birthday, and I'm now halfway through J (for Judas Priest). The biggest problem I'm coming up against at the moment is using the special gold and silver threads I bought for accents, because they're thicker than regular cross stitch threads and so I also have to use a bigger needle when working with them just to thread them through the eye. Which also makes it frustrating when I mess up and need to unpick a few stitches. Still, the end result looks good so it'll be worth it.

The burstitis/mystery hip injury continues to be a pain in the... well, hip. The Deep Freeze gel helps to an extent so I can move about without too much pain, but if I go too long without reapplying it I end up hobbling round the house emitting little cries of pain while Callie dances around my feet, working on her Underfoot skills. I'm aiming to get a doctor's appointment on Monday (I couldn't Thursday or Friday as I had deliveries due and it would be just my luck that they'd arrive while I was out).

I got a letter this morning from E.on - I thought it would be about the complaint I made on Monday and it was related... but no, it was actually a letter from them gently telling me off (but still telling me off) for not letting the engineer in the house when I was trying to catch my cat to go to the vet. So I ended up on hold for 40 minutes with them before getting through to a very nice CSR called Paula to complain again (because even if I wasn't so anxious as to not want to let people in like that, if someone is about to leave the house when you call you don't get to throw a strop at them and storm off). A formal complaint has now been filed, mainly just to put this on record as it's not like I was ever expecting to get anything more than a general apology, and we're going to make the arrangements to get a Smart Meter fitted so that no meter reader ever has to darken my door again. I just have to speak to the landlord and then clear the front room (possibly easier said than done). That'll lead to me calling the Greenfields Centre again on Monday to see if I can speak to one of the people who are covering for my social worker while she's recovering from whatever terrible lurgy has afflicted her, because they're always offering me help with organising and cleaning the house.

Movie reviews for the week:

Martin (1978) - George A Romero's personal favourite of all his films.
Without Warning (1980) - Martin Landau stars in the film that inspired Predator
Without Warning (1994) - War of the Worlds-inspired TV movie that I think is pretty underrated.

Also, three times this week I've gone to the corner shop to buy milk for my cereal, then forgotten to buy it. Where is my helper monkey?

Mondays.

Jul. 17th, 2017 06:26 pm
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
I'm starting to believe someone recently put a curse on me.

Lily had a vet appointment today. To catch up; Lily has been receiving treatment for a condition known as cholangiohepatitis since the beginning of the year. It's an inflammation of the liver and bile ducts, and unfortunately in Lily's case it is chronic, which means it periodically flares up and can't be really cured, just managed. She's on a mix of antibiotics and steroids for this, and it's improved her condition tremendously - in January she was vomiting daily, severely jaundiced and had lost about 2kg in weight. Now she has periodic bouts of vomiting, but the jaundice is being kept to a minimum and she's put her lost weight back on and more, to the point where I'm having to put her on a diet. We're coping the best we can.

I was just starting to get things ready for the trip to the vets when there was a knock on the door. It turned out to be someone coming to read the gas and electric meters; something I was not expecting, plus I was in the middle of stuff and the front room is such a mess that it's not really possible to get to the gas meter right now anyway. I try to explain this to the meter reader but he just snarls at me, "You said this last time. You just don't want to have your meter read," and stalked off.

So that was asshole #1 to upset me.

So I chased Lily around the house for a bit, got her in the carrier and got the taxi to the vet. There she got checked over - jaundice levels the same as last time, no other problems - but then the vet (who was a locum I'd not seen at the place before) started talking about pancreatic cancer.

If Lily had pancreatic cancer I'm pretty sure we'd have noticed it by now, since she's been seen monthly and at one point fortnightly since January and ultrasounds have shown that the mass around her bile ducts in January reduced in size considerably after a month on the meds (we just can't take her off them because she starts being sick again). But thanks for worrying me unnecessarily there. Then, as I'm closing the carrier up and getting ready to leave, I mention that my goal is really just to get her to 19, as my readings had shown me a 5-year survival rate for cats with this condition, and while I know she's not going to live forever, if I can keep her strong for as long as possible I'll have done my job as cat owner. The vet responds, "Oh, I don't think that will happen."

...I guess I should just not bother then, should I?

Asshole #2 needs to work on his bedside manner.

Add to that the Spanish Plume that's headed our way this week (temperatures up to 28 degrees, then thunderstorms and heavy rain!) and the deaths of George A Romero and Martin Landau, and I'm feeling pretty beaten down today. I think I'm going to spend the evening eating ice cream and crafting. Maybe watching stuff to put my mind on autopilot. Tomorrow will be better.

Needles

Jul. 15th, 2017 04:42 pm
sareini: "Yes, bugger all that. Let's curse somebody." - Discworld (Curse)
Well, today has certainly been an interesting day.

The Tour-de-Sock started today, and so I excitedly went to see what the first pattern would be. Looks great... except it's a toe-up pattern and I've never done that before. But that's one of the reasons I signed up for this; so that I could learn some new techniques. So, toe-up cast-ons.

Except after 20 minutes of trying, I realised I was not going to be able to do the cast-on with the double-pointed needles I had. And unfortunately, my one pair of circular sock needles was brutally murdered by Callie a few months ago (also the last time I buy bamboo needles). So I figured that my only remaining option was to go to the knitting shop in the next town over and buy some metal circular sock needles. And to save money and challenge myself a bit, I was going to go by bus.

It should have been easy enough. Use the local bus service's journey planner, get on buses, everything's fine. But between the first and second leg of the journey, I forgot what bus to get, and so re-input the details on my phone. Except it turns out that if you type in "59 High Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme" it takes you to a different place than if you type in "59 High Street, Wolstanton, Newcastly-under-Lyme", which is where I actually wanted to go. So that was an interesting - albeit slightly terrifying - detour.

I finally get to the store, and I decide that after all the trials of getting there, I deserve a reward, and so I bought some yarn as well. I made sure at least to get sock yarn so it'll at least get used up.

Getting back was a little bit easier, since I had a better idea of what I was doing by then... but I missed my final connecting bus by one minute (more like 20 seconds, in fact, as I watched him pull out of the stop as I came within range). That left me with a 30-minute wait for the next bus, so I decided to go buy a drink.

I'm just walking out of the bus station when a middle-aged man holding his phone walks up to me and stops me. He looks a little lost so I'm prepared to give badly-described directions to him.

"Hello," he says. "I'm new here... and I was wondering where... I could fuck you."

Stoke-on-Trent, ladies and gentlemen! Shortlisted for City of Culture 2021!

I just stared for a second while my brain assured me that yes, that's exactly what I just heard, before I managed to respond, "You don't. Go away." and I started to walk in a radically different direction from him. He then called after me, "Is that a no then?"

Yes. Yes it is a definite no, you creepy stranger accosting people outside of bus stations. I was worried he was going to start following me but the homeless woman who begs for spare change nearby started yelling at him for being a creeper as well, so I was saved. Next time I see her I'm going to give her money for a coffee.

Now I'm home, where the cats have greeted me with great joy because it means they get lunch, and I'm making plans to not leave the house again except for essentials for at least a week (Ross's birthday and Lily's vet visit aside). Next time someone asks why I get so anxious about going out I'm going to point them to this tale.
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
Last night, Callie had a Mad Half-Hour (which turned into a Mad Two Hours - Lily climbed into her cardboard box, pulled the lid over herself and stayed there for the duration) and during her extended Zoomies she decided that the Suicide Squad poster in the front room had to go.

To be fair, it's partially my fault. I put the cat tree right next to it, within easy reach of over-excited kittens.

She shredded Slipknot and took half of the Joker's face off (ironic, really), before grabbing the piece of poster that she'd removed, squeaking excitedly, and running out of the room with it. I found her later crouched over it like a fresh kill, utterly pleased with herself. I suppose when you're a 100% indoor kitty you have to hunt what you can.

But the event did remind me that I've wanted to put more posters and pictures up in the house for some time - I've just been delayed by forgetting repeatedly and by the cost of a lot of posters. When I finally finish things like the Horror Movie Maniacs cross stitch and do other stuff for myself I'll be putting them up, of course, but that could take some time with the way I work on things and the randomness of my depressive apathy attacks. So that leaves posters in the interim, but they're (a) difficult to find the ones I'd like; and (b) usually very expensive.

I got lucky today though, and found an internet place with a "Today only!" 40% sale going on, and so bought myself a couple of posters. If I had infinite money, I'd have gotten this or this, but the cost to get a decent-sized one, even unframed, was too much for me right now. So I got a couple of more qaffordable posters, and when they arrive I shall stick them to the wall with BluTac or whatever else I can find, and hopefully they'll be in places where certain cats can't reach them.

(Callie appears to have decided just now that tonight Captain Boomerang must fall, while she finishes off the Joker. Maybe I should get her a Catwoman poster.)
sareini: "I'm sorry, I'm having a bad century" quote from Neil Gaiman's Sandman (Bad Century)
With The Howling: Reborn I have finished the July Howling Franchise Marathon and can now go back to slacking off and watching films I actually want to watch (until November when Shark Week 2 comes around). To be fair, Reborn was a marked improvement over some of the previous sequels (admittedly that wasn't exactly hard) and it got me thinking about a werewolf apocalypse. World War Werewolves, if you will. Hmmm...

In other news, the text telling me my prescription was ready came through, so I took myself into town for that and my monthly crochet magazine. The whole trip wouldn't have been too bad despite the heat and the Saturday shopping crowds, but the pharmacist decided to spring one of those Medicine Checks" on me, which involves being locked in a small room with the pharmacist while she goes through all your meds and asks if you're okay on them and are they working, etc. I already had one of these two months ago so I wasn't too happy to begin with, but I did my best to put on my best smile and went along with it.

...until she asked me if I was "happy" now I was on the antidepressants. Now I've been on these drugs for well over a decade at this point; tried weaning off them with the doctor's permission several times, but each time I'd get to below 150mg and everything would go to hell. And since Nick died it's been more of a case of them just keeping me going from day-to-day, never mind making me "happy". I consider it a good day if I get myself out of bed sometimes. So I tell her that, and she immediately feels the need to inform me of all the extra ways I can work to "fix" my depression.

I know she meant well. I really do. But in the 18 years I've been diagnosed with depression, I've heard of, read up on and tried many things as well as the medication to try to help my condition. And I've come up with several things that I know help, through trial and error, and I do them whenever possible. I don't go out very often because the outside world scares me and makes me anxious enough to be physically sick sometimes, so going on a half-hour walk every day probably isn't going to help, and it's probably not the first time I've had this suggested to me either. The pharmacist then went on to tell me that she feels anxious too, as she's originally from Spain and she has to come to work every day in a strange country, so it's okay! Don't feel so anxious! And all I can think is, "Oh great. Now I feel bad that I have uncontrollable anxiety and panic attacks because this woman's come to a whole other country with a whole other language to work and she worries about what other people think of her."

I told her she was really nice, caring about me like that and wanting to help me, and I'd definitely try to do what she suggested. Then I slunk away feeling like pond scum. But I really wish people wouldn't tell the mentally ill to exercise to"cure" them. We don't tell people with physical illnesses to "walk it off" (well, we do for some of them, but that's not the point here).

On the other hand, while walking to the bus stop to get into town I met this handsome fellow, who was sunning himself on the pavement when I saw him. He came running up to me meowing happily and gave me a good sniff, but then decided he didn't want a fuss and so just sat watching me and meowing. Maybe it was because I smelled of GIRLCAT. He was perfectly happy to have his picture taken though.


sareini: The Mountains of Madness have many little plateaus of sanity - Discworld (Mountains of Madness)
I was lying in bed this morning, being poked by one cat while the other attacked my foot every time it moved too close, and I was thinking (a dangerous action, I know). It actually started off quite depressingly, with me feeling rather sad about what I was doing with my life - or rather, the severe lack of anything being done. I'm acutely aware that my days consist mostly of cats, computer gaming, and if I'm lucky some crafting and maybe some writing. It's an impressive day indeed when I manage to leave the house to go somewhere other than the local shop 50 meters from my house. Generally, I was feeling like I was really not accomplishing very much and was probably a rather boring and sad person.

And then I thought to myself (as Callie gnawed on my ankle and Lily kneaded into my unprotected, soft and fleshy armpit - part of cat ownership is never needing to pay for accupuncture), that while it might not seem like much, compared to this time last year I'm actually doing pretty good. Back then, it was a good day if I even made it out of bed for a reason that wasn't "Feed self and/or cats" or "Use bathroom". All I did was lie in bed and watch movies, YouTube and daytime TV. I never talked to anyone aside from my brother, didn't even try to socialise with people and my productivity of any kind was almost non-existent. So if you compare me from a year ago with the me of now, I'm doing miles better - even if I don't feel like it in the slightest (depression having that way of distorting your perceptions so that you think you've always felt this bad, and always will, and nothing has ever changed, no matter what you rational mind tries to say in response. Even writing all this down feels wrong, because - as I said - I don't feel like I'm doing any better).

I still need to try to get into a proper writing schedule, and be less terrified of the idea of putting stuff out there that other people could potentially read, and I need to get better at finishing things, but small steps. Small steps.
sareini: Image of the Bursar from the Discworld universe (Bursar)
Callie coughed up her first hairball this morning. She was quite disturbed by it - it's the first time she's ever ejected anything from her mouth that way (other than the time I found her swallowing 6 inches of yarn like a sword swallower or really extreme snake charmer) and she cowered a bit until I reassured her that it was okay. Frankly I'm surprised it's taken a whole year for her to have a hairball, considering how she grooms sometimes. Also, she helpfully did so on a piece of cardboard so it was easy to clean up (ie. I didn't have to touch it).

As for the planned weekend of playing Secret World Legends... Well, we got set up on Friday, eventually, ending up as an all-Templar group wandering around a New England town beset by zombies, giant lobster people and baby Cthulhus among other interesting landmarks. I ended up playing a version of Talia who's gone Sword/Elementalism, which basically means I have a katana and can set people on fire. I also swear a lot, so I'm having a lot of fun bringing out some of my more... interesting phrases, such as "Jesus fucking Christ on a gas-powered novelty unicycle!" and "Hay, LobsterFace! your mother sleeps with seagulls!" - the latter being used as a taunt for the afore-mentioned giant lobster people.

We were all set to play on Saturday and Sunday too... but play didn't get very far on Saturday before the chat server started hyperventilating and crashing all over the place, meaning there was no way to communicate in the team. I'd like to note at this point that, when the original Secret World game launched in 2013, the chat server had the exact same problem, leaving me to conclude that in four years they never had the idea to actually fix or upgrade the chat servers. So the game announced there was going to be a couple of hours downtime to fix this and some other problems on Sunday.

On Sunday, two hours became three. Then five. Then eight. Which was about the point we all went, "You know what, we'd be better trying this again tomorrow." Eventually this morning, the devs posted about the "extended downtime", explaining that there had been a bug allowing people to duplicate money and so that needed to be fixed pronto before people started dupin rares and the game would be gone to the Americans (that's some vintage CoX humour for you there). There was also a brief mention of the chat/community server being fixed as well... but when I was creating an alt and getting him through the tutorial, I saw the community server crash again. Ah well, at least it reconnected this time. We'll just have to see what the evening holds...
sareini: "Things I am not allowed to do at Hogwarts, No.61" (Cats and Dragons)
Callie weighs a very solid 3.42 kg. Ideally she should be closer to 3kg, but it's not a big problem as I've just switched up their feeding pattern from one big portion once a day to smaller and more frequent portions which should help with that. She's also got a mystery issue of dry coat and skin and dandruff/bald patches which we originally thought was flea allergy-related but as she's not had fleas for months obviously isn't the case. So she's got a supplement of oil stuff (evening primrose, salmon, omega 3 et al) to go in her food every day for a while. Lily will probably end up getting some too with the way they swap bowls, but it might well do her some good as well all things considered. Other than that, Callie is perfectly healthy and was very good at the vet, although I suspect a lot of that was do do with being slightly overawed and in shock from being outside of her comfort zone (ie. the house).

We also got to see a cat on a leash at the vets, although he had to go back into his carrier when a German Shepherd puppy came in. Apparently he was a Bengal cross so he'd been pretty easy to leash-train. When Callie was small I bought a kitten harness in the hopes of training her in the same way, but she just attacked it and tried to eat it whenever I brought it out.

The rest of the day was uneventful. Right now I'm just downloading Secret World Legends in preparations for the headstart in an hour or two and drinking milk. It's a rocking Friday night.
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

Firstly, and probably most importantly, Callie will be going to the vets for her yearly vaccinations. Even though both she and Lily are 100% indoor cats (aside from the .5% when she pokes her nose past the front door for a fleeting second) it's important to get the vaccinations because (a) you can never be too careful; and (b) because Lily is on long-term steroids now she can't get her vaccinations, so Callie needs to step up to provide the herd (clowder?) immunity. Callie is significantly easier to get into the carrier than Lily, what with being small enough still to be picked up and held with one arm and her not psychically knowing when it's time to get into the carrier like Lily can somehow sense. Once that part is done it's relatively easy and so routine that even I and my anxiety can't come up with anything to panic about.

Then, later on in the day I will be joining several friends and friends of friends in the headstart for Secret World Legends, the new f2p version of Funcom's The Secret World. It's a new game, so new characters for everyone... and that's been causing me some deep thought and anxiety over the last few days.

You see, I've had a small pool of characters that I play/write about for a very, very long time now - some of them have been around for nearly 30 years at this point. And so with maybe one or two exceptions, I don't like to create new characters; not when I've got these perfectly good characters that I can tweak to that purpose! Over the years I've become aware that these characters are also facets of myself in one way or another - Talia (who over the decades has also been known as Tiffany, Kimberley, Abigail and Rebecca) is how I wish I was; while James is the part of me that identifies as male and (poor thing) gets saddled with my mental illnesses and anxieties (and angst). There's a couple of others, but these are the two that have been with me the longest. When I write, they're the characters who'll turn up in just about everything, carefully shaped to fit the situation. And over the years they've helped me through a lot of things as well - they're not real, of course, but working out what they'd do or say to me in situations when I've had no-one else around to turn to has probably saved my life on at least one occasion.

So it's difficult for me to just create new characters, because to make the cut as a character they really have to have something that makes me attached to them, otherwise I lose interest very quickly. And I feel awkward about this, because in my past I've had people tell me how wrong this is or mock me for it, to the point where now I expect it from people automatically. Even explaining this here is making me feel weird because I never actually talk about this stuff.

On a related note I should probably get back on with the character backgrounds I've been working on for the versions of them in my current original universe brainworm...
sareini: (hiding)
The continued heat, even at night, has started to cause me another problem: I can't sleep. Last night I tried using Nick's old room fan to cool things off a little, and while Callie was enthralled by it and the very concept of "wind inside a house", it came at a price: I couldn't hear my music over the noise of the fan, which meant I still couldn't sleep. So that, coupled with worried about Lily who's having a flare-up and several personal things getting to me and weighing down on me, left me feeling very depressed this morning. I tried calling my social worker, but even though she's back from her holiday she's now off sick, so I'm still left twisting in the wind and that only made me feel worse.

So, after curling up in bed with Lily who senses when I'm bad like this and came along to purr on me for three hours so I got some sleep, I decided to take quiet day today. Worked on Ross's birthday present, drank raspberry lemonade water and watched random stuff.

One thing I watched was a J-horror mockumentary found footage movie called Noroi The Curse. It's one of those movies that holds your attention for the near two-hour run time, but then when it ends you have to rush off to Wikipedia to work out what you just watched. I enjoyed it greatly - like I said, it held my attention for the whole thing, and was just the right amount of creepy without any overt jump scares - and with notes of Ghostwatch, The Blair Witch Project and a kernel of what would become Paranormal Activity but I also strongly suspect I'd have understood parts better if I had a better understanding of Japanese and Shinto customs.

Now I'm playing League of Legends (because what better thing to do when feeling low than play Abuse Simulator 2017?) and drinking yet more raspberry lemonade water, because that stuff is like crack.
sareini: "Did I mention that my nose was on fire? That I have fifteen wild badgers living in my trousers?" - Babylon 5 (Nose on fire)
28 degrees C! I swear, we British are not equipped to deal with temperatures like this. Well, at the very least *I'm* not.

Lily has come up with the best way to beat the heat - she just climbs into the big cardboard box and goes to sleep in it. It's shady and cool and I wish I could fit in there with her. Callie just lies flat on the upstairs landing, where there are no windows and so it's a little cooler than the rest of the house. Meanwhile I sit and seriously debate the merits of just taking all my clothes off and pulling the blind down in the living room before I remember that still leaves me uncomfortably sticky and I can't go into the kitchen then.

I might have to put ice cubes in the cats' water soon, although whenever I did last year they just looked at me as if to say, "Mummy, why have you made the water lumpy?" Then Callie started trying to play with the floating ice cubes.

I know that others are enjoying the hot weather, and that's great. I just wish air conditioning was a thing in the UK for those of us who don't do well in the heat. If nothing else, it's sapping my concentration for doing stuff as well...
sareini: Bruce Campbell as Elvis from Bubba Ho-Tep (Bubba Ho-Tep)
Yesterday was more interesting than expected.

The original plan was that my brother was coming down to visit; he'd drive Lily and I to the vets for her monthly checkup (Lily is still fine, put on another 300g so now we're having to try to fix that; personally I'm happy because she had been losing a ton of weight before we got this condition under control so as long as she's not losing weight things are still going well); then go to lunch and then the cinema to see Wonder Woman (again).

Then I found out I needed cat food, so a trip to the pet store was added.

Then yesterday morning I went to put some rubbish in the bin in the back yard... and discovered that Marley had killed another pigeon and left it for me. And unfortunately this had happened several days ago, during which time nature had gone and natured all over it.

So when my poor brother arrived I handed him a pair of rubber gloves and several plastic bags and asked if he would be so kind as to help me out before I vomited uncontrollably everywhere. Thankfully he was okay with it.

(I'm trying to work out if Marley is leaving me these pigeons as some sort of offering to me as the human who provides Second Breakfast or if he's just too lazy to drag his kill home. It could go either way, really.)

The rest of the day went pretty much as planned; brother enjoyed Wonder Woman greatly; I came home and was once again shattered from a day being social with people and slept so long Lily started worrying that I wouldn't wake up.

Today is Election Day here in the UK; I went out and did my civic duty (in the rain). I have no illusions about the Tories getting booted out of 10 Downing Street, but I am at least hopeful that neither they nor UKIP get in here and Labour continues to retain. Other than that, the only other thing of note is that I actually finished a story! I'm so very proud of myself. Now I'm just waiting for my volunteer beta readers to look it over and then I might actually dare to post it...

Box Wars

May. 28th, 2017 01:39 pm
sareini: "Little one, I would like to see anyone - prophet, king or god - persuade 1000 cats to do anything at the same time." (1000 cats)
There are two large cardboard boxes in the office. One is what the cat tree came in; I can't remember what the other one once contained, but it doesn't matter. The boxes now belong to the cats.

When it gets too hot, I often find Lily snoozing in one of them. Callie likes to chew on them (for reasons known only to her; she's a devil for cardboard) or practice shredding things with her claws on them. And today I just got to witness a half-hour game of Box Wars.

The rules of Box Wars seem to be quite simple: there is a box, and both cats want to be in the box. But there is only room for one cat in the box, and so they must fight, beguile, chase and/or trick the cat in the box into coming out of the box. Then they can get into the box, and everything starts again.

Of course, just being a human there's probably a lot of stuff I'm missing (is there a points system? Fouls? Do the rules change depending on the number of cats?), but at the same time there is endless amusement in watching Lily and Callie chasing each other, batting each other, pouncing and rolling and generally having immense fun just so they can sit in a box for a minute or so.
sareini: (hiding)
According to the AccuWeather app on my phone, right now it is 25 degrees Celcius. For most of the day it has been 23 degrees C.

I am not one of those people who enjoys the heat. For one thing, I have severe hay fever that's been a constant companion for all my life (my brother is the same; he was once offered immunotherapy - basically they wanted to inject him with small amounts of pollen daily - for his because we're both so bad with it). It can start as early as March and be with me all the way to October or even November. Eyes itch, twitch, sting and swell shut; nose dries up so badly it bleeds spontaneously and itches, and the roof of my mouth and the back of my throat itch painfully, among other symptoms. So that's one reason to avoid going outside in this weather I am basically allergic to ALL THE POLLEN. ALL OF IT.

Secondly, I am possessed of a skin type that can be best described as "translucent". One of the reasons I don't bother with makeup is that even the palest foundation is usually still a few shades darker than my skin. Which wouldn't be that bad, except that I also don't feel it when I burn. I just go from 0 to lobster without any warning signs. And skin cancer runs in my family (I was 8 or 9 before I discovered that you don't automatically have to have all your moles removed when you reach a certain age. My mother was of the same skin type, and had grown up in the 40s and 50s on a beach in Ireland, back when they didn't know about the dangers of too much sun, so when I was growing up she was usually at the dermatologist clinic every six months or so to have another dodgy mole removed.) so I like to take precautions now. Generally those precautions are, "Don't leave the house in daylight unless you have to."

The cats have been enjoying the sun and the heat though. Lily has been back and forth on my desk in front of a window all day, lying on my keyboard and preventing me from doing very much while she suns herself. So at least someone is enjoying themselves.
sareini: (creative)
The past couple of days have been good for yarn, as I've had two separate packages of the stuff delivered to my door. First off was yesterday's delivery, which consisted of the last ball of yarn I needed to complete the Shawl of Secrets (the shade is called Secluded Lake) and a ball of the new Scheepjes Whirl yarn, which is 1000m of 4ply cotton/acrylic that has long colour changes all the way through it, making it great for shawls, scarves and anything else that you might want that kind of effect with.

Two balls of yarn

The name of the colourway I got this time is Melting Macaron. It's not the kind of colourway I would normally have gotten - I generally prefer darks, or blues and purples - but most of the colourways were out of stock and I wanted to try working with some new colours for once. With the Whirl I'm making a Mandala Cardigan, using a pattern designed specifically for the launch of the yarn, which can be found here. And of course I started it already despite having a ton of other prokects to be getting on with, because I like the instant gratification and playing with new things.

The beginning of a mandala cardigan

Then this morning I got my monthly yarn club delivery from Devon Sun Yarns. they're an indy yarn company who specialise in hand dyed yarns in numerous and striking colours, and I've been in love with them for ages now. They have several yarn clubs but I'm a member of the Sock Yarn Club, which delivers me a skein of 4ply yarn every month to do with as I please - although right now I've got several months' worth sitting waiting to be used because I haven't decided what to make with them, need the time to start them and because Callie bit through my bamboo sock needles (she has a powerful chew on her). This month's colourway is a gorgeous blue-green.

A skein of yarn

So I have plenty to keep me busy for a while.

***

In other news, I finally accepted that my computer chair's hydraulics have died, after only a week of sitting on a chair only 6-8 inches off the floor and developing a constant pain in my left leg from it. So I've swapped out my dead chair for Nick's old computer chair, which involved moving half the stuff in the front room around to move a chair four feet and confused the cats greatly, but right now Callie is sitting behind me in the chair while Lily is boxhopping, so they're happy enough. Hopefully my leg will stop hurting now as well because it was starting to affect my sleep.
sareini: default (Default)
I just got a call from my brother. It's never good when he calls in the daytime so I braced myself. Didn't help.

Sammy, my niece's cat who I just saw at the weekend, got run over by a car this morning. To make things even more perfectly timed, it was her birthday yesterday.

To say we are all upset is an understatement. I'm sitting here crying my eyes out and fighting an onset of magical thinking that this was somehow my fault. When I was 10 I went on a Girl Guide weekend camp. When I came back my father had been taken into hospital and he was dead from cancer a week later. Ever since then I've been terrified of going away anywhere in case it happens again. And each time I think I've gotten over it, something happens to start it up again. And I can't tell them that, especially right now, because things are bad enough without my insanity leaking into everything.

And I feel so bad for my niece. She loved that cat; she'd had him from a tiny kitten and he was a brilliant cat, and the worst thing is that, if she wanted to get another one a few months down the line, she probably won't be able to because of the Rottweiler.

Today is a failure of a day.
sareini: (tired)
Aaaannnnd I'm back. I didn't take my laptop in the end, because I couldn't fit it in my messenger bag and I couldn't find the charger.

The journey to Merseyside wasn't that bad - there was the part where we had to stop in Crewe, of course - the most depressing train station in existence, where if the architecture doesn't get you the prices will, at £1.99 for a single bottle of Ribena - but I've grown somewhat immune to that over the years and I brought my own water. No, the only problem came when I reached Liverpool, where there was a rail replacement service due to them completely refitting the Wirral Line. So I get off the train, and go ask the nearest staff member where the replacement bus service is picking up. "Oh, just down there," he points, in the general direction of outside. "You'll see a man in a yellow tabard."

Did I fuck.

After wandering around for 20 minutes and not seeing a single yellow tabard (or tabard of any other colour) I admitted defeat and changed my plans. Thankfully I spent years going to and from Liverpool on the buses, so I at least knew my way around to the bus stops that would get me under the river anyway, so I headed there and called my brother to pick me up at a different bus stop than we had planned. Gods only know what would have happened if I hadn't known my way around; I'd probably still be making laps of the station, weakly calling out for aid.

It amused me that, while the basics of Liverpool Lime Street and the bus station hadn't changed much in 20 years, the immediate surrounding area had. I walked past a 5 Guys Burger and Fries joint there, right next to a Nando's and a casino... yet all three were no more than 150 meters from a Poundstretcher. Pretty sure you wouldn't see that anywhere but Liverpool. And they've got sightseeing buses now - the topless kind you usually see in London. My brother pointed out that Liverpool's a major tourist destination now (yet you can only buy London souvenirs in the station shop), so I guess that growing up in the area has just made me unaware of the tourist potential. I just spent my time looking around and going, "Aww, they closed that shop? But I loved that place!"

At my brother's I got to meet his Rottweiler, Rogue. Rogue is about 15 months old and my brother's had him a little over a month. He's a good dog, most of the time... except when he sees other dogs, which he wants to play with, or cyclists, which he wants to chase, and then he shoots off like a rocket and won't come when he's called. They're working on training him out of it. He also likes to lick feet, and desperately wants to be friends with my niece's cat. Said cat is less keen on the idea.

Sammy is the cat, and my niece has had him for a little over a year. A friend of hers found him as a small kitten wandering the streets and took him in, but then asked Rachael to foster him as she already had cat food (for her hedgehog, which died this week). She did so, then fell in love with him and decided to keep him. He's a champion mouser and herds and protects the rabbits in the garden, but so far he's not at all happy with the big dog in his house, and has scratched poor Rogue's nose several times.

Cat standing on sofa with tail in air

Rottweiler sitting on rug

On the Saturday evening Rachael's boyfriend came round and we had a Eurovision mini-party, with cold pizza slices, cheese-and-pineapple/pickled onion sticks, pigs in blankets and traffic light jellies. Eurovision was... interesting this year, what with dancing gorillas, Epic Sax Man, rap and yodeling and a band apparently fronted by that masked guy from Watch Dogs 2. As for Portugal winning... well, I missed the start of the entry because my catsitter called, and when I came back in I thought the singer was female at first and had to be corrected. The song made little to no impression on me, but apparently the rest of Europe liked it so there you go. Personally I would have voted for Hungary or Croatia. Oh, and "Celebrate Diversity!" screams the event that was bursting at the seams with young white men. Well done. /sarcastic clap

We also played Risk: Godstorm, which is a version where you're an ancient civilisation with the associated gods, and your goal is to take over as much of the known world with your gods; help. So a lot like regular Risk, but with far more complicated rules involving faith and miracles and godsbattles. I got put in charge of reading and keeping track of the rules, which might have seemed a good idea, but... I'd had two bottles of raspberry cider by that point, and I'm on medication which shouldn't really be mixed with alcohol. So I was maybe a little drunk at this point, and so it was a rather... confused game at best. But fun.

(Rachael's boyfriend won, and created Party Valhalla, where defeated warriors who defended well got given a Beer Hat.)

And now I'm back home. Lily was waiting for me in the window, and has not left my side since I came back. Callie needed to check I was who I appeared to be, ran around for a bit, then got bored and wandered off. I had a good weekend, but I'm glad to be home. Also tired.

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