Stuff to Do

Isn’t it funny how being busy can be really erratic? Right now, I feel overwhelmed with a large number of things that I should be doing, but don’t seem to have enough time to get them done. Other times I am bored out of my skull looking for some way to pass the time. Either way, somehow, I manage to get a large amount of tea drank and too many hours in front of the telly. It makes me wonder if tackling being busy is all a state of mind.

Now it’s time for me to take control. I am always a busy and productive person. I’m pleased to say that I’m still swimming week days and taking Desmond out for lots of walks, but I’m neglecting my online duties. I haven’t blogged in weeks, nor have I read any posts and I miss this. I haven’t written since the summer, although I have done a lot of editing for other people. Now I need to start focusing on how I can be more consistent with the computing efforts without succumbing to the rigidity of a routine or schedule. I like not being stuck behind the computer for hours on end.

Does anyone else feel this way? Perhaps it’s a seasonal thing? With the nights drawing in and it being so dark, so early, I find I’m tired of an evening, which of course is psychological. Maybe I should go into hibernation mode, or become a night owl – decisions decisions.

How are you coping with the changing of the seasons?

Ms Katykins :)

Reliving the Past

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Picture this:

It’s early morning: Desmond and I are finishing our group walk around some local fields. I hear some stranger in the distance shouting for their dog to come back them. In response, I kneel to clip the leash on Desmond’s collar to prevent him from running off in the hope of making a new friend. Unexpectedly, out of the long grass bounds this snarling, vicious dog. He careers straight into Desmond ripping a chunk of hair straight off his hind leg and laying right into him. Somehow I get knocked over and the next thing I know I am up and running and swearing at some owner I can’t see.

Cliché # 1 – It All Happened So Fast

I’ve heard many people say this phrase and I’ve thought to myself, surely if you concentrate, you can remember how a situation played out. Now I understand that’s a misjudgement. I can honestly admit that I don’t have a clue how the two dogs were separated. It all happened so fast. I was shaken and in so much shock that it wasn’t until the next day when I was trying to work out why on earth my wrist was so sore, that I figured it must have happened when I got knocked over and the lead was pulled from my hand. I then found a huge bruise on my leg. I’m thankful I did get knocked over, that may be why Desmond got off with just three bites, when it could have been so much worse.

Cliché # 2 – Reliving Childhood Traumas

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t experienced difficult periods? It’s doubtful. I’ve had my own fair share of grief but usually I just get on with things. The dog that attacked Desmond was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. When I saw it bounding towards us, this horrific childhood memory overcame me. I’m pleased to say that I didn’t freeze and that I did my best to separate the two dogs, but after I got knocked to the ground, all I could think was Not Again. I have a vivid memory from when I was eight or so, of our pet Labrador, Barney, being mauled by a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. It happened one Saturday morning in our front garden. It was a neighbour’s dog, there were two of them and I remember seeing my father and the other guy trying to tear the dogs apart. I remember the snarling and the whining of the dogs. I remember the blood. I remember being sent back into the house and how I wailed in my bedroom. Barney wasn’t as lucky as Desmond, his jaw was badly damaged in the attack, but he still made a great recovery.

After I got up from the ground, I raced towards them as the terror of that childhood experience came rushing back to me. We’re so lucky that Desmond got away lightly but the experience shook me. The guilt I felt was overwhelming. Why didn’t I kick that other dog? I had to go on a trip later that day – would Desmond think I was leaving him because of what had happened? (I realise some readers may mock that thought.) Would I be able to cope again seeing other dogs off the lead? When I returned home, I discovered Desmond still loved me and had missed me but I am still struggling to overcome this experience and have developed more wariness of dogs and irresponsible owners.

How do you get over something like this?

Ms Katykins :)

My Latest Project

After I sat my university finals I was completely lost. All that hard work and pressure and extreme stress left me feeling uncertain and run down. I had nothing to do. Out came the 2000 piece jigsaw. I hadn’t sat down to complete one of those since I was a child and the largest one was probably 200 oversized pieces with a ridiculously easy picture. This extravaganza was a map of Britain filled with hundreds and hundreds of clan crests and names. I did it all. Well, strictly speaking, I didn’t finish as I discovered three pieces were missing. Still, it was a massive achievement.

This summer has been full-on. As you know, I spent a number of weeks trying to help with DIY around my mum’s house and garden before heading off the mainland to concentrate on my dissertation. I’ve handed it in now and guess what? I’m in the middle of a 1000 piece jigsaw! Obviously it’s my go-to once I realise I’m on the wind down after a heavy duty project. It’s a subconscious thing, it just felt right to attempt this puzzle, which may turn out to be my nemesis!

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The funny thing is that life is still very busy and topsy-turvy right now as I try and figure out my situation. I have dozens of things to keep me occupied but this puzzle is helping to give me focus – but with just a tricky thatch roof left to do I just hope I can finish it before it drives me crazy!

I’ve been absent from here for a long time now. I miss the interaction with my lovely friends in the blogsphere, but I’ve really enjoyed taking time to focus on other things not online. Social media (not blogging) has been bothering me and I will probably share my views on that later. Cyril and Willy over at Spineless Wonders have gone in to hibernation and I’ve just not had time to catch up on reading blog posts. I think I’m going to have to cut back and it pains me to say that but I just don’t have enough opportunity to regularly follow all of the wonderful writing out there. So please don’t take offence if my interaction within your blogs continues to be sporadic, I just need some headspace.

Goodness, enough about me – how has your summer been?

Ms Katykins :)

Am I Turning Into An Old Fart?

If I was to make a compilation CD of the music that shaped my youth, Van Morrison would probably appear as a bonus track. He was there, lurking in the background never at the forefront. I can pinpoint his importance through sneaky memories, particularly linked to key songs and key moments that perhaps other people involved aren’t aware of. And oh how I loved the opening scene of ‘The Outsiders’ with sexy Matt Dillon leaning against the building as ‘Gloria’ played in the background – smooth.

Last night I had the opportunity to finally see Van Morrison live. The alien experience was finding myself feeling thoroughly unexcited about going to see an artist perform whom, quite frankly, I’d waited years to see. Don’t get me wrong, he and his band were fantastic; there was a real tightness to them, great skill shared among. What was disappointing to me was hearing jazz played in a large tent in a field. I felt the act would have been better suited to a more intimate venue.

When you attend festivals you run the risk of being disappointed by seeing a band you love. Either they don’t play the more esoteric tracks that true fans would appreciate or they don’t play enough popular tracks in favour of promoting their own new material. It’s difficult to get it right. In my experience a balance works well. A mix of the old and the new; the hackneyed and the rarities. Last night the place lacked buzz, energy. Over the sound of the music was this remarkable din, not of singing along with the band or even cheering, but chatting over this main act.

I guess part of me feels that an act such as this should be treated with more reverence. We were privy to a neat performance with extremely talented musicians, often playing more than one instrument, the scatting of the lead singer (although disappointingly his band was not referred to in the posters, just the singer himself when anywho who’s witnessed it knows that it’s so much more – eh hello Bruce Springsteen, what do you say to that?).

The show ran to just over an hour and a half and a significant portion was devoted to lesser known tracks, which was pleasing to hear. What came as a personal disappointment to me was when the band launched into ‘Moondance’ playing a slightly different version from the norm. The realisation that the crowd knew this song filtered through the masses at varying rates. Once it had sunk in, the crowd adopted a sudden sense of life, energy. For the remaining five or so well known tracks, it finally felt like a proper gig where people were happy and excited, charged.

I was disappointed. No more so than when I saw and heard people get so excited about ‘Brown Eyed Girl’. As a fan of this song (who isn’t?) I found myself thinking it was hackneyed beyond the point of being able to properly enjoy it. It’s not the artist’s fault. It was a fantastic performance of a song that has made him extremely well known over the years. It just upset me that this was the one that got the crowd going, I felt all of my cynicism pour through me as these people, from differing generations, bopped about. Maybe if he’d just got it over the way right at the start and zigzagged between old and new material it might have been a richer experience.

The thing that finally satisfied me was to have Van Morrison not return to the stage after he left abruptly during ‘Gloria’. I just felt that to return and take centre stage and, potentially, all the glory after the lengthy improvised stint from his band would have cheapened the entire performance. I’m glad he bowed out gracefully, shame about the lack of chat with the crowd…

Am I just a stick in the mud or have you felt this way at a gig before?

Ms Katykins :)

The Lost Hour

One of the shows I enjoyed as a child was ‘Eerie Indiana’. It only ran for one season and many of my contemporaries don’t seem to remember it when I bring it up in conversation. Quite frankly, that makes it all the more bizarre and seems fitting considering the nature of the show. The short lived programme centres on a small town in which a 13 year old kid, named Marshall Teller makes strange discoveries about Eerie’s weirdness with his best friend Simon.

Today I watched an episode called ‘The Lost Hour’. Long story short, the town of Eerie doesn’t move to daylight saving time when the rest of the country does – just because. This irks Marshall and he decides to rebel: big mistake. He wakes up the next morning alone in his room. Outside there’s no evidence of any other life, save for a rubbish lorry run by three creepy looking guys. He’s knocked over just in time (that’s right) by a very old milkman driving a milk float (and who looks suspiciously like Christopher Lloyd aka Doc Brown from Back to the Future). It turns out that unless Marshall can synch up with the right time then he’ll be stuck there for another year trying to escape the rubbish guys who will hunt him down.

Now, I couldn’t possibly tell you how the episode ends, but it did get me thinking. Time moves so fast and it seems like many of us wish there were more hours in the day. Here’s my question: if you did find yourself with a little bit of extra time that was frozen and didn’t affect the rest of your day, what would you use it for? Would you sleep, eat, take time to exercise or indulge in a hobby. Would you use it for something energetic or creative or would you just enjoy having the time and the peace and the quiet, all to yourself, without anyone else impinging on it? Right now in our household my husband (it still feels weird typing that) and I are arguing about music. I don’t listen to it anywhere near enough, but he thinks I care about it too much. I’d be pretty certain that’s how I’d spend my hour. Listening to what I wanted without any hassle.

What would you do if you were granted the lost hour?

Ms Katykins :)

Heat Wave

Is anyone else failing to cope with the summer heat? After a really shaky start to the year weather wise, the UK seems to have been hit with a heatwave. I’m typing this post in our top floor flat and none of the windows are open. Why not? Because we are having some fly issues. Not sure if it’s got something to do with living so close to the water. All I know is that the frustration is immense! I don’t like killing wee beasties, but it seems like every time I manage another one appears to replace it! Grr!

To distract myself I plan to find new ways to keep cool. Right now I’m wondering if my idea to cut up and freeze my pink grapefruit will result in a refreshing snacks. I already know that the iced Gun Powder tea works a treat (thank goodness). I also know that I can help myself by changing out of my jeans and into my shorts. What’s more, I’ll probably go for a swim once Mister T gets home from work. But how do I stop the sweats and how do I cool down the flat without having to open the windows (boohoo)?

Do you have any tips for this Scot who’s far removed from her rainy comfort zone?

Ms Katykins :)

She breathes. She types. She has returned.

I’ve been quiet on the blog front recently. I’ve been very busy. Creativity has been buzzing within my mind. My dissertation (of 25,000 words) deadline is only a few weeks away. I promised myself that I would spend the best part of three works working as hard as I could on household/garden tasks back home before heading off the mainland. I’m glad to have done it. I felt like I achieved something. I’m sure a number of people assumed this was procrastination in disguise. I’m pleased to say that I’ve now been hard at my literary work for the best part of two weeks.

It’s felt fantastic to be making headway with my novel. Naturally, there are little niggles that aren’t far off keeping me awake at night. But the words are coming, the novel’s taking shape and I’m injecting life into the characters. Perhaps more importantly, I’m getting excited about it all. I’m enjoying my creation. One of the great things is having people around me who can I trust with my work. A couple of friends from uni and I have formed a little group. We share our work with one another and provide critiques. It’s great because we respect one another, take the time to provide useful, well thought out feedback. But perhaps the thing that is even greater is the idea that you’re getting to participate – or even just observe – in the work’s evolvement. It’s wonderful to see their stories and their chapters take shape and develop. Too often you can critique someone’s writing and never get to see it again. I feel really fortunate. Mister T has been great too; listening to me read my new chapters and helping me to think of ways to nurture my story.

I’ve spent hours and hours in the local library. Man is it noisy. In my experience many public libraries are inordinately loud. The bustle and the unrest have worked well for me. Each day I’ve taken my laptop, tapped away at the keys until the battery runs out a few hours later (thank you very much, big brother) then headed home for a lunch break and a recharge. On a good day I return to the library and give it another few hours. If I stay at home I work in the spare bedroom. Those of you who work remotely will probably know it’s best to have a different area within the home where you can leave at the end of your shift. In my bag along with my notebooks and pens is my book. I’ve selected ’31 Songs’ by Nick Hornby. My writing contains a huge amount of references to music and this book has been the perfect accompaniment when I’ve required a break or a distraction. It’s something that I would definitely recommend to avid music fans (again, big brother, I think this is one you in particular would appreciate). It’s got a fabulous variety of tracks and artists and I really think Hornby is in his element with the genre of creative non-fiction.

I have lots of other ideas on the go right now. It’s just getting the time to realise them. I’ve neglected the Spineless Wonders blog of late. But that’s about time and energy and I’m working on a new system for that too. I think things are moving in the right direction.

I’ve missed you all very much. I miss reading your blogs and I appreciate how understanding you all are. How have you been?

Ms Katykins :)


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