sareini: "Things I am not allowed to do at Hogwarts, No.61" (Cats and Dragons)
I got back from seeing my niece and spending too much on yarn on Sunday evening, but I was absolutely exhausted until this afternoon. The train journey back shouldn't have been too bad, but both trains were packed to nearly standing-room only and the sheer amount of people pushed me to my limits. I then got a very talkative taxi driver heading to Ross' place (because I started off the weekend by forgetting my keys, so Ross grabbed them for me so I could pick them up from him when I got back) so I had to stop off at his house for a bit to calm down. Got to meet some of the rattie commune though, and discovered that boy rats grow very big indeed. Most of them were pretty chilled with me and I got to pet them, but Neville the rat got freaked out when he smelled me because by that time I had the scent of four cats on me. Sorry Neville.

So, how was my weekend?

Cats! )

Of course, the other big reason I was visiting this weekend was for the Popup Wool Show. I went last year and got some good yarns, so of course I wanted to go again this year. Plus it's the closest thing I get to a summer holiday. I was quite proud of myself this year - despite having that credit card and all the yarn tempting me at very turn, I managed to stay within my budget.

Pictures of yarn! )

As well as my keys, I also managed to forget to take my niece's cardigan up with me, but I did remember my brother's birthday present, the Rock A-Z cross stitch. Rachael helped me frame it, since my skills are a little lacking in that area.

Cross stitch! )

For the most part my brain didn't short-circuit too much while I was up there. There was the crowds on the trains back to Stoke, of course, and the additional problem that the Virgin Trains' Pendulino train always makes me motion sick, so I step off it in a cold sweat and looking like a wax dummy. The Popup Wool Show was more crowded this year than it was last year, which was somewhat upsetting, but I was with my niece and so I was able to get through it with the only outward symptom being a bad case of aphasia (Every fifth word became "thingy.") Ross sent me regular updates about the cats being fine which also helped (Lily is making me mildly worried by repeatedly climbing into the cat carrier but I'm sure there's nothing actually wrong and it's just me seeing things where there's nothing again). I am however avoiding actual face-to-face or physical contact with other people for the rest of the week now as I recover my strength though.
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?
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: "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...

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