stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
5 January 2011

Many release challenges are simply 'release books with XYZ in the title', but I wanted my first one to have some purpose to it beyond simply 'releasing more books', admirable though that is. I very much enjoyed taking part in the [livejournal.com profile] queerlit50 book challenge, and it provided me with inspiration for this goal.

Here's the plan: February is (in the UK, at least) LGBT History Month. I'm challenging BookCrossers to release books that:

- are written or illustrated by an LGBTQ person
AND/OR
- feature a positive representation of an LGBTQ person

I'll be giving two prizes: one to the person who releases the most books, and one to another participant, drawn at random. I've already got a little notebook that will make part of a prize, and I'll look out for other suitable bits and pieces through the month of January.

I'm looking forward to this one; I think it'll be a lot of fun.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
15 December 2011

Just before Christmas I went to give blood for the fourth time this challenge. I'd booked an appointment, left work early, and turned up at the church hall. (It's only five minutes walk up the road from work, so not too much hassle.) I handed my form in at the desk, had a drink of water, read through the 'Before You Give Blood' leaflet, and was called through. The nurse went through my health questionnaire with me; I explained that I'd had flu and had been on a course of antibiotics to clear up a cough, but not in a timeframe that would affect my ability to give blood.

So far, so good. The next bit is where it always goes wrong...

The nurse pricked my finger and took a little blood to drop in a jar of copper sulphate. All being well, the drop of blood should, well, drop to the bottom: this shows that you have enough haemoglobin. Mine didn't. It floated around at the top.

When this happens, they have to take a second sample of blood - a small phial full. This comes out of a vein in your arm, but not the arm you usually donate with, in case you find that your haemoglobin levels are fine after all. I wasn't hopeful. We did all the messing around with rolling up sleeves and finding veins, and the nurse took this sample off to be tested. (I'm not entirely sure how this is done.) The minimum level is 125 - I am not sure what the unit is, but I only came in at 121. So I'm not dying. I'm not even anaemic. But I couldn't give blood. So I went back to work, with a little leaflet telling me how to get my iron levels up. (Iron deficiency is the most likely cause of low haemoglobin.)

This still counts towards goal 50. I did everything that was in my power to do. I turned up, and I was prepared to give blood. And I'll try not to drink so much tea with my meals for the next four months.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
Christmas presents 2011

Keeping up with my 'three home-made presents per year' thing was a bit of a marathon this year; I'm not sure why. Then again, so was Christmas generally. Still, I did it, and now they've all been opened I can tell you what they were.

Left to right:

- knitted hat for my stepmother-in-law (here's the finished product - I made a scarf to match, but didn't take a photo)
- knitted hat for a BookCrossing Secret Santa (plus a Philip Hensher book, which you can just about see)
- pierniczki (I made two lots, with much cursing. One went to my family, and the other to my friend Anne).
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a rose window (101church)
13 December 2011

My second Mystery Worshipper report is online! They haven't edited out the slightly political bits, either.

Two down, one to go. I enjoy Mystery Worshipping, but it's proved difficult to find free Sundays. However, I'm easily on track to complete this one well within time.

"Hugo"

Dec. 7th, 2011 05:46 pm
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a camera lens (101photography)
Niton Vaut Bien Un Bus

Last night I went to the cinema for the first time in ages, to see Hugo, Martin Scorsese's latest (only?) attempt at a children's movie. I will not tell a lie: I went because there are a whole three shots of my beloved 3267 (above) in it. The film is set in 1920s Paris and, while 3267 actually dates from 1935, there are few better ways to portray the City of Light between the wars than to have a Renault TN trundle through the background.

Since the action largely happens within an unspecified railway station (more likely to be Montparnasse than anything else, but isn't) one doesn't see much of her, but I counted at least three shots: the back end (I think my father and brother might have been in shot too, but would have to see it again) when spoiler ), a side view shortly afterwards, and, when spoiler ), you see her nose.

Gricing aside, however, it was a thoroughly good film and I am extremely pleased that I went to see it - and at the cinema and in 3D, no less. I knew that it was based on a book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which I hadn't read; I knew that it was set in 20s Paris; and I knew that it involved a little boy who lived in a station.

What I didn't realise was that it was also a beautiful homage to the form of film itself, that it was chock-full of lovely clockwork stuff, that it had some wonderful things to say on the themes of vocation, burnination, and things that do what they're meant to, and that it was a glorious fix-it for spoiler! )

Short version: very good film, plays shamelessly on everything that gets me. Highly recommended, though you'd probably best not watch it with me unless you are really interested in Paris buses. (But why would you not be?)
stapsdoes101things: detail of a hymnbook page showing hymn no. 101, tune 'St Bernard' (101music)
1 November 2011

One is terminal; one is temporary. I am not working myself up over either of them, because I can see a way to make progress on both.

Firstly, I've crashed and burned on the 1001-words-a-day in November thing. I did ten days straight writing 1001 words, most of them on the Prisoner of Zenda fanfic (which needs a title, incidentally, quite apart from the other ten thousand words and a large chunk of plot). Then I made significant progress on another goal - walking thirteen miles from Halling to Maidstone and crossing the Medway with my mum - and that took the whole of yesterday. Usually I'd write on the train out to my starting point, and (if I wasn't too exhausted) on the train back from my finishing point, but we drove, so that didn't work. As a result, I wrote absolutely nothing yesterday, so that puts November out of the window. I will keep trying to hit those 1001 words, though, because that 10 December deadline isn't going away, and because the more I write now, the more of a habit I'll have got into when the time comes to retry this goal.

The other one I failed a long time ago, and somehow didn't manage to tell you about. This is goal 76: spend an hour playing my cello once a month. It was difficult right from the get-go, for this reason: I find playing on my own dull in the extreme. I managed December and January; in February I had a friend staying, and she brought her flute down and we did some Handel duets, and that was much more fun. After that it really fell by the wayside.

In July I went home for a week. I went along to a rehearsal of the Isle of Wight Scottish Fiddlers, with whom I used to play cello. And my goodness, was I jealous. I wanted to be playing. I wanted my cello. So, you see, it's not that I don't really want to do it. It's, um, that I'm disorganised, and lazy, and playing alone simply isn't motivation enough.

Next Saturday the Scottish Fiddlers have their silver anniversary party. I'm going. I'm taking my cello. In fact, my mother took it with her when she left today - and, as we were loading it into the car, one of my neighbours came past and said, 'Oh, another cellist! I thought I was the only one!' We got chatting, and it turns out that she plays at one of the churches in town of a Sunday night, and would really like someone to play some duets with. So, yes - eek. I had better get playing again.

I know the answer to this. It's probably 'cheating' to change a goal you've already failed, but I am pretty sure that if I change it to 'find a group near me in which to play cello' I will end up taking a step towards the original, unstated, aim: 'play cello more and get better as a result'. And that will be better than abandoning the entire thing.

This will still be a significant challenge. I don't drive, and we don't have a car anyway, so it will be difficult to get to rehearsals. Where there's a will, however, there's a way, and if I could carry my cello up the second-steepest hill on Exeter University's Streatham Campus every Tuesday, I can at least walk into the centre of Woking.

Wish me luck, everybody.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a compass (101compass)
29 October 2011

Somehow, I left off this pilgrimage at the end of April - and then the summer happened. I did things that were vaguely connected, going up to St Martha's church with the PCC, meeting up with members of the Confraternity of Saint James at Reading Abbey, watching 'The Way' (again), and generally thinking that I really ought to get on with it. In September my partner and I went away to Cardigan with the in-laws, and got some good walking in along the west Wales coast. But it was only on Saturday that I put my boots on and got back on the train to Oxted.

Picture-heavy )
stapsdoes101things: A sculpture of a Wellsian Martian Tripod; text '101' in corner (101woking)
23 September 2011

All over the world, November is National Novel Writing Month. I don't know why they haven't made it 'International Novel Writing Month' yet - perhaps it's just not as catchy. Anyway, I'm not doing that this year. Originally I intended to use it to complete goal 16, 'Write first draft of "The Slowest Elopement", or another novel featuring Phyl Merrick'. I'm horribly busy, though, and, while that wouldn't usually stop me, I've got another big writing project already on the go, with a rather tighter deadline than 'when I get round to finishing it'.

Said project is the Femslash Big Bang over at LiveJournal. My story is a crossover featuring the illegitimate daughter of Irene Adler and Rupert of Hentzau, with a plot just about as full of cross-dressing, swashbuckling and intrigue as you might expect. I've been working at this on and off over the past few months, and have almost 3000 words down and a vague idea of a plot. The minimum wordcount is 20,000 words, which feels about right for this story. It's due in early December. I've joined the picowrimo community for general cheerleading and encouragement, and to keep myself vaguely accountable without boring my regular readers to death. That's what I'm doing this November, then.

But, so that 101 Things doesn't fall entirely by the wayside (oh, I know this would count towards goal 63, but it does seem a little over the top) I'm making November my 'write 1001 words a day' month.

Goal 64, in fact.

Those 30030 words will not all go into the Big Bang. Some of them are going into this post. Some will go into other posts on here (I've got a few things to write up...) and then there's things like Yuletide. I'm still dithering over whether to sign up for it; based on past form, I probably will, but it does rather depend on when nominations open, when they close, how I'm getting on with this big project, and whether other, offline, things kick up.

Things I'm counting: fiction (whether fanfic or original - because you never know, I might revisit 'These Three Remain' if I'm running short of inspiration on other things); blog posts (here or on my main journal); things that remain hidden on 750words.com (more on that later) or in my private journal.

Things I'm not counting: anything to do with work; comments on blog posts; forum postings; letters or emails to friends - that sort of thing.

How am I keeping up with it? I mentioned 750words.com. This is a site to which [personal profile] adelheid introduced me when I was making my 101 list and first thought about this goal. The intention of this goal is to get me into a habit of writing something substantial every day. That's the idea behind this site. It's very low pressure; it just gives you a space to write and tells you whether you've done your 750 words or not. (This number was chosen, allegedly, because it's about how many words you would get onto three sides of A4. I haven't tried this.) I went for the slightly higher goal of 1001... because I came up with the goal before I heard of the site, and because it fits better with the overall project.

It's been a while since I logged on, so I can't remember whether there's a way for you to track how I'm getting on. I know you can't read my actual words, and I'm not sure you can see how many I've written, either. I'll fiddle around later and see if I can work it out. At any rate, I'll be giving you regular updates on this 101 blog. Not too regular, though - I know how irritating it gets when everyone on your reading list is doing NaNoWriMo and is telling you their word count every five minutes. You can also track me on my Health Month profile (why yes, I am counting writing as a healthy exercise; why not?) which will at least tell you whether I've done my 1001 words. Perhaps I'll get one of those ticker things, too. The possibilities are endless...
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
23 October 2011

Originally this goal read 'Make a quilt for impending niecephew, and one to spare'. Fairly soon, things started to happen.

Firstly, we learned that my sister-in-law was specifically expecting a daughter. This galvanised me into action (because if the foetus is big enough to discern the sex, you know you've only got a few months left), and, three weeks after young Lily was born, I was able to present her with this.

About five minutes after that (well, that's what it felt like) one of my good friends from university announced that she was pregnant, and suddenly the 'one to spare' became 'one for K's baby'.

The baby in question was born on Thursday (two weeks early, I may say), and on Sunday afternoon I sewed down the last inch of bias binding around the quilt. There it is, tastefully draped over our washing line. On Monday I went to see them. It's getting better and better. Maybe I'll get the next quilt finished before the baby's actually born. (Next baby? I'm not actually sure whether that'll be along in the next few years, anyway.)

You might not hear about that though, because all I signed up to for 101 in 1001 was two quilts, and so this goal is

completed
stapsdoes101things: detail of a hymnbook page showing hymn no. 101, tune 'St Bernard' (101music)
28 April 2011

The Girl Choristers did their first Evensong with us this Sunday. They haven't yet got to grips with chants and pointing and all that sort of thing, so we did a responsorial psalm. (These are much easier: the congregation learns a response, which is the same every time, and the hard work is done by a cantor or cantors.)

The way solos work in our choir, at least for little things like verses in responsorial psalms, is that the musical director asks for volunteers, and there are about six people who are usually up for it. That's how I got my last solo. The director of the Girl Choristers is new, though, and hasn't got to grips with this system, so she didn't ask.

It so happened that when I was hanging around in the vestry after the service, minding my own business and waiting to sign up on the absence sheet, there were four people left, three of the usual suspects, and me. And there were four verses to the psalm, and well, it just seemed easier...

Well, it's the asking that terrifies me, not the singing. Once my partner had helped me out with a jump up to a D (just where there's a break in my voice) it was dead easy. I've got my head around the way the organist accompanies responsorial psalms now, and it felt good. I had a few compliments, too, which was pleasing, and one was from one of the girls, which was particularly nice.

On the one hand, this hasn't helped my conviction that if people really wanted me to sing, they'd ask me. On the other, every time I sing in front of people I grow in confidence, and maybe it'll become easier for me to volunteer as time goes on.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
Cardigan Island

I spent the last week of September in Wales with the in-laws. It was fantastic to escape from the pressures of work for a while, and I was also able to make a little bit of progress on my 101 in 1001.

We stayed in Gwbert, a hamlet at the head of the Teifi estuary - the white buildings in the picture above. The nearest town is Cardigan, three miles away, and - as opposed to Woking, where I spend most of my time - there's practically no sky glow. On a clear night the stars are fantastic.

And so, on the last night of our stay, after a few glasses of wine, [livejournal.com profile] countertony and I walked up the road away from the street lights and had a look at the stars. I brought my netbook out with me; I have a fantastic program called Stellarium loaded onto it, and so it was basically a portable planetarium. You can tell it where and when you are, and it shows you what the sky looks like, identifying all the objects and putting in things like the constellation lines and names as you choose.

We started with the Big Dipper/Plough/Charles' Wain/Saucepan and Polaris, because they're easy. (The side of the 'pan' opposite the 'handle' points upwards to the Pole star.) I wouldn't be able to identify the rest of either the Great Bear or the Little Bear, though.

Another easy one is Cassiopeia; she looks like a W. Having identified those objects, we were able to work out where other things should be, and to look for them.

What I hadn't fully realised is that not all stars in a constellation are equally bright. One knows what shape it should be, but one can't necessarily see everything in it with the naked eye - or my naked eye, anyway. Once we'd twigged that, we tried it the other way round. We started to look for bright stars, work out from Stellarium which constellation they belonged to, and then search for the rest of the group. We found Boötes from Arcturus. Just by Boötes' right shoulder is the Corona Borealis, and Hercules, a bit further round, looks a bit like a four-legged spider. Then we found Vega, and from it the Lyre.

The only problem was that every time I looked at the netbook screen it killed my night vision, so I had to memorise a few shapes from it and then look away until I could see the fainter stars again. It's much easier than a star chart and a torch, though.

It was, in short, a successful evening's stargazing. While I'm not at all confident that I'd be able to find many of the constellations again without a chart of some kind, I do feel that I've got a much better idea of what I'm actually looking for.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
Cathedral Voices

I had a very nice birthday. I was in Exeter with my choir (we were the visiting choir at the cathedral for the week), and the day went something like this:

- breakfast, with many cards from the choir
- morning practice
- frantically dashing around Poundland buying paper cups etc.
- picnic lunch on the cathedral green with [livejournal.com profile] countertony, [livejournal.com profile] catmint_1984, my mother, my little brother, and much of the choir
- a tour of the cathedral
- wandering around Exeter with my family, including a walk down the narrowest street in the world
- rehearsal at the cathedral
- singing Evensong (Smith responses, Day in B flat, and Hail Gladdening Light). My granny and her partner turned up, as did my friend Charlotte.
- surprise disappearance of my family (it turned out that they had had to run for a bus)
- an expedition to the Imperial Hotel with Charlotte and, later, some leading lights of the Sci-Fi Society; also, later, Mike.

A success all round; this goal is completed.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
Self - haircut, monocle

This, my friends is Goal 67 completed, and half way to Goal 100. (I have to wear the thing out in public before I can call that one complete.)

Round-Up

Jul. 18th, 2011 02:10 pm
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
4 June 2011

I've been making odd bits of progress here and there. I've crossed off a few goals and not written them up. I'm plodding on with some ongoing ones. A couple have more or less stalled for the moment.

Writing them up has been problematic because I always like to put in a photo. However, my desktop computer has reached the end of its useful life (useful as a computer, I mean, rather than as a coffee table) and this little netbook is no use at all for sorting photos out. So, rather than wait and wait, here's a summary of what I've managed to do, and maybe I'll do proper posts with photos at a later date.

- I've tentatively booked myself on a retreat organised by some people at church. It will be taking place early next year and is on the theme of Silence. I've also picked up a leaflet from our local retreat centre and may go along to something there. (Goal 2)
- Um, I might have got slightly tipsy on Saturday and sung Moon River with the jazz band at [livejournal.com profile] angelil's wedding reception. I don't think anyone was actually listening (just as well) but this still counts for Goal 7.
- I've written a funeral plan (Goal 18)
- I entered a competition in a magazine to win a plate of rubber stamps. (Goal 47)
- I listened to two Proms concerts yesterday - the organ recital by Stephen Farr and Havergal Brian's Gothic Symphony. (Goal 58
- I've spent quite a lot of time in London recently and, over the space of two visits, spent a couple of hours in the British Museum. I spent the first visit looking round this exhibition. I have to say, most of the reliquaries didn't do much for me, feeling extravagant, creepy, or both, but I did like the Roman section and the part about pilgrimage. The next weekend, I looked at the exhibition of clocks and watches, and glanced around the Medieval room. But really, there's so much there that it would take a lifetime to see the lot. (Goal 73)
- I've made a finger labyrinth out of air-drying clay. It's dry now, but I think it wants some kind of paint or varnish. I'm not sure what yet; I'm waiting for inspiration to strike. (Goal 75)
- I watched The Way; I'd like to see it in the cinema, though. Goal 79)
- You'll see from the photo above that I've begun work on exploring my square mile. I've marked it out on the A-Z and walked down a few of the streets. This is another one for which I really need a working camera, though. (Goal 86)
- I have bought a monocle. Yes, there will be pictures. May I recommend I Need Spex, who not only produced the damn thing to my prescription, but, when they did it for the wrong eye, sorted it out very quickly and politely. (Goal 100)

- Due to computer problems explained above, Project 365 has stalled for the moment. I intend to restart on my birthday. (Goal 8)
- I haven't really been keeping track of my depression, mainly because I've not been depressed for a while. So that's good. (Goal 19)
- I'm not sure what's going on with my watch. I got its battery changed, and it worked for a while, but now it keeps stopping and starting. I think I shall have to mark this as uncompleted again. (Goal 89)

- I am going to change Goal 76, because it's just not happening, and when it is I'm not enjoying it. But that does deserve a post to itself.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a compass (101adventure)


My goal 39 - wild-releasing books via BookCrossing - has two parts to it. One part of it is to wild-release 101 books. Simple enough. However, one of those books has to be of sentimental value to me.

I haven't yet released a book that's particularly special to me, but I have now chosen it: On Pilgrimage by Jennifer Lash, a book that my godmother gave me a couple of years before she died, when I was preparing to make my own pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. It seems a particularly apt choice for the following reasons:

1. It isn't of itself a book I'd choose to hang on to. I'm glad to have read it, but I won't want to re-read it.

2. It's a book about travelling. I particularly enjoy sending books that are about travelling off on their own journeys.

3. My godmother would have approved of my not keeping things just for the sake of keeping things. I have many other things by which to remember her.

4. She would also have approved of the concept of BookCrossing, the elements of chance, faith, and random acts of kindness that drive it.

I will give the book the best possible chance I can - my current thinking is that I'll leave it in a church, where the odds of it being picked up by someone who's interested in pilgrimage are a fair bit higher. Next weekend might be a good choice. But I'll keep you posted.

In the mean time, here's the book's profile.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
Tissue-typing saliva set

Today I came home from a party to find that the postman had brought me an envelope from the Anthony Nolan Trust. It contained:

1. a letter confirming that I've completed all the necessary steps to join the Anthony Nolan register, and don't have to take any further action until I hear from them;
2. a card confirming same;
3. bumph to pass on to other people who might be interested in becoming a bone marrow donor, particularly if they are men aged 18-30. Since my partner falls into this category I have given it to him.

This does leave a few mysteries unexplained (such as, what was that text message about, the one that said they hadn't received my saliva tissue-typing set?) but if they're happy, I'm happy. I may or may not be called up within the duration of my 1001 days. If I am, I will need to donate. If not, this task is completed, and I'm going to mark it as such until I hear otherwise.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
10 June 2011

I just took my skipping rope out into the back garden. Managed:

37 forwards
2 backwards (maybe need a longer rope?)
2 cross (one-two-three forwards; cross; one-two-three forwards; cross; one-two-three forwards; get rope caught round left leg)

Practise, practise, practise...
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
It's payday.

I have drunk a small amount of cider.

I have also ordered a monocle. Prescription, naturally.
stapsdoes101things: Pizza with '101' marked out in green pimento (101food)
... but I feel that I should let you know that I have now drunk a proper Bellini, made of prosecco and peach purée. It was mildly pleasant, but not something I'd go out of my way to try again.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
Patchwork Quilt

Well, my partner's niece was born getting on for a month ago now. We'd been planning for a while to go up for the May bank holiday weekend, on the principle that she ought to have made an appearance by then. When she was born the top was almost there, but not quite; all the flowers were together, but it was missing a border. I spent the fantastic Neil Gaiman episode of Doctor Who putting the last few bits on, then spent Eurovision taking out the paper backing. Then quilted like crazy... Anyway, I got there, and that's what it looks like.

Oh yes, and the 'one to spare' is no longer spare. One of my good friends is pregnant, so I shall need to get cracking on that one pretty sharpish.

August 2013

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