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: "I knew the two of you would get along like a house on fire (screams, flames, people running for safety...) - Discworld (House on Fire)
Sometimes I go onto Ravelry to idly browse the patterns. This is never a good idea, because I am (a) easily distracted; and (b) easily distracted. I try to limit myself to just adding projects to my favourites list in the hopes that I can one day do some of them, but that just leaves me with huge lists of things I want to do when I can barely focus on finishing what's already on my needles and/or hooks at the moment.

Case in point: two years ago a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I decided to knit a hat for her. She had an "all clear" scan this week. The hat is still not finished (although I picked it up again today and might get it finished tonight...) so I guess it's now more of a "Congratulations on beating cancer!" hat than anything else. That's still good, I guess. But that's just an example of how spotty my ability to keep a focus on one task for a protracted period of time. It's why portions of doing my brother's birthday present and niece's cardigan have been so hard, because my mind just won't stay fixed to them.

I wonder sometimes if this is the depression or something else gone askew in my mind. I remember being able to focus on things to completion in the past... but that was a long time ago. It's probably something I should bring up next time I see someone at the Greenfields Centre (who, incidentally, finally called me back on Tuesday! Huzzah!), although whether there's anything that can be done about it I don't know.

***

In other news (and see how I flit from topic to topic!) I'm wondering why so many shows I like seem to shoot themselves in the foot when they hit Season 2. Preacher (although to be fair I was having problems with that in Season One; it's just that 2 sealed the deal for me); the new Doctor Who (I much preferred Christopher Eccleston's Doctor); American Horror Story (which made the mistake of putting too many plotlines into one story, so we had aliens, a serial killer, Nazi experiments, demonis possession and an abusive mental asylum all at once) and now The Strain for the latest example, where the supposed protagonist who I was already having problems with becomes even more unpleasant and starts drinking heavily (and yet is still supposed to be the hero and a responsible father, people!) and most of the rest of the cast seem to have taken a beating with the Stupid Stick as well. Thank Eris Fet is still mostly awesome or I'd be giving up on this show as well.
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: "Made a note in my diary on the way here. Simply says, 'Bugger'." from Blackadder (Bugger)
At the weekend I went out and bought a frame for Ross's birthday present, as it was very nearly done and I'm doing my best to be organised here. When I got it home, however, and placed the nearly finished Aida over the frame, I found that the picture was ever-so-slightly too big for the frame. How can this be? I measured it and everything! I was frustrated and resigned myself to having to go back into town this week to exchange the frame for a slightly bigger one and do some re-framing magic to try to hide the fact that the new frame would be too big on the y axis.

Then I looked at the cross stitch a little more closely. One had, I realised, was a tiny bit larger than the others. The danger of doing stuff like cross stitch while you're also watching a werewolf movie series for reviewing purposes and being dyscalculaic means that you run the risk of miscounting the number of stitches in a row sometimes without noticing. Which is what I'd done. The picture was too wide for the frame by two squares - exactly the number of extra squares I had accidentally added.

Thankfully, this has happened on the figure I was working on most recently and hadn't yet finished, because if it had been on any of the other figures I'd have probably given up and cried a fair bit. So I put it to one side for a couple of days and today I'm going to set about the task of unpicking till the point where I made the mistake and then redoing it properly.

The Howling franchise: messing up my cross stitch as well as being a dodgy series.
sareini: A Procrastinator's work is never done! (Procrastination)
I figured I needed to make a list and plan out which of the many, many projects I'm currently working on need to be done first and in what order.

Knitting/Crochet/Cross Stitch:

- Ross's birthday is on July 12, so of course his cross stitch project is the most urgent to be finished, although that won't be too difficult.
- Next up is my niece's cardigan and my brother's cross stitch birthday present, which will both need to be done by mid-August when (theoretically) I'll next be visiting.
- Everything else (Horror Movie Villain cross stitch, cardigans and scarves and other things for me) is for me and can therefore be worked on whenever.

Movie Reviews:

- July is time for my twice-yearly Franchise Marathon, and this time around I've picked the Howling franchise to work my way through, because I've been neglecting werewolves for a good while now (mainly because very few werewolf films have ever truly grabbed me). So starting July 1 I've got the eight movies in the series to go through, which also means sourcing them (and two of them have already proven to be remarkably difficult to find, even with all the resources I have at hand), watching them ahead of time and writing the reviews. As long as I can keep at least a day ahead of the current film, I'll be fine.
- I've also got a couple of other movies heavily noted and ready to be written up, but they won't be needed till after the 8th, so no rush there.
- I really need to watch some more movies from my Huge Pile O' DVDs/Blu-Rays before they become sentient and start eating the house.

Writing:

- I need to write more stuff. That's all. Worldbuilding, character stuff, fanfic, whatever.
- I might want to stop grabbing bingo prompt cards... but nah.
sareini: (creative)
It is finished!



(Click to make it bigger and please ignore the mess that is the storage room; it has the best light for taking photos of stuff like this.)

Well, technically. It still needs all the ends sewn/woven in and the pattern says I should soak block and pin it for it to be 100% completion, but sod that right now. I've finished knitting it and that's the bit that counts, right?

the Scheepjes Secret Garden yarn was interesting to work with. Kind of slubby but not very, and very soft and smooth to work with for the most part. Had a tendency to pick up stray cat and human hairs easily though, probably because of the polyester content. As I said before, the cotton/silk/polyester blend translates to, "This will be a bugger to clean". I did like the colourways though, and it's a shame that the yarn is rather expensive (£4.39 or thereabouts for 50g, which was only 90m), which means that this yarn is really more of an accessory yarn unless you're rolling in cash.

Next on the plate now is finishing my niece's cardigan, then my own. Onward!
sareini: following my fish (delirium)
I have a fair bit of sock yarn about the house, because of my Sock Yarn subscription. I tell myself I have plans for them - shawls, scarves, maybe even socks! - but I make so many plans and start so many things that the poor skeins are still waiting to be used.

Well, the other day I heard about a thing called the Tour de Sock. It's based on the Tour de France, only with sock knitting instead of cycling. The idea is that you pay $7.50 (which goes to Doctors Without Borders) and you get six sock patterns to knit. The idea is to knit them as fast as you can, and the fastest knitters get prizes.

Now, I have no illusions about my knitting speed. I knit like glaciers used to move before global warming. But Doctors Without Borders is a good cause, and six sock patterns for $7.50 is a good deal. And I have sock yarn. And I've been meaning to work on my sock knitting skills. So I signed up.

The whole thing doesn't start till July, along with the cycling, but I'm mildly excited. Should certainly be interesting and a learning experience, at the very least.
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)
I've decided I'm going to try to be somewhat more organised for June. To that end, I've set myself a few goals for the month.

1. Write at least 15k; fiction and movie reviews. Should be pretty easy, right?
2. Publish at least 8 movie reviews; that works out at two a week.
3. Write at least 250 words of fiction a day.
4. Finish at least two stories - perhaps my biggest challenge as I'm great at starting things, but not so good at finishing them as the self-doubt creeps in.
5. Finish the Shawl of Secrets - probably the easiest one as I'm about 90% done as it is. A couple of days sitting mining/watching stuff should do it.
6. Finish Rachael's birthday cardigan and possibly my own (fingers crossed!)

I don't think those goals are too bad or stressful.

I've also started work on my brother's birthday present - his birthday is in August so I figure starting now will give me a good chance of finishing on time. I'm doing him this, as he likes to put up 70s and 80s album covers as art. Also last Christmas I made my niece a cross stitch picture of Harry Potter spells which was remarkably well-received, so I figured I'd continue the trend. (It should be noted that I was stitching that thing up to 11pm on the 23rd December.)

***

In other news, Lily is much better today. No vomiting and her mood has perked up considerably. I'm going to keep an eye on her for now but no longer feeling the need to rush her to the vet when there would be very little they could do other than tweak her meds and hope that worked. I am looking at making her diet more strict to see if a blander diet might help - duck, turkey, chicken; occasional treats of tuna loin and scrambled eggs (made with water). Thankfully that's all stuff Lily already loves, so she'll just have to get used to not getting bits of grated cheese or the cream from doughnuts any more...
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.

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