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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 09:32pm on 01/01/2007 under ,
2007 started with humiliation, hilarity and nostalgia all combined as I was forced to join the children in Come And Sit On MY Knee, which is a Kelly family game that caused equal amounts of delight and fear in our childish hearts 20 years ago and really shouldn't have been revived during last night's party*. There followed a good, long (too long) sleep. We were late (because of the sleep being too long, you see) for my mezzo soprano friend's brunch party, but it didn't seem to matter. And I made aioli and potato wedges for tea. My grandmother phoned just as I started cutting up the potatoes -- to tell me that she's been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

But let's not think about that now. Here's a review of my 2006, in numerical order:

0.66 books written
1 scarf successfully knitted
1 prize won for chutney-making skills
1 piano piece composed
1 beloved pet now buried in mum's back garden
1 music festival officially accompanied
1 set of singing exams officially accompanied
1 set of ballet exams officially accompanied
1 Young Farmers' concert happily attended
1 eisteddfod attended as anxious competitor
1 successful check-up of teeth
1 haircut
1 christening attended
2 weddings attended (1 as organist, 1 as bride)
2 new piano qualifications attained: DipABRSM and Grade 3 Jazz
2 concerts successfully organised and hosted
2 poems written
2 quilts made
2 pillowcases made
3 scarves unfinished
5 funerals attended as organist (and for 3 of them I also mourned)
6 tarot readings given
7 pupils successful in their piano exams (and 1 not)
7 concerts in which I performed, either as soloist or accompanist
7 new pupils gained
8 cushion covers made
9 of J S Bach's Goldberg Variations learnt
11 old pupils lost
23 jars of various jams made
30 migraines endured (approximately)
99 books read, of which I own 53 and the rest were borrowed
86,052 words written in various journals
104,160 words of fiction written, although sadly 60,246 of them were the mostly unusable first draft of the pig story

I expect other things happened besides all that. Matt sprained his ankle, for example (and is still on crutches). My cousin Janette had another baby. I fucked up yet another friendship. I'd say it was a busier, happier year than 2005. I think I'm moving closer to where I want to be -- very glad that the fictional words outweigh the journal words.

* Okay, so Come And Sit On MY Knee works thusly )
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Cut for graphic details )

Other than that minor bit of excitement/distress things have been ticking along in a very uninteresting way, which I shall now explain in equally uninteresting detail.

All right, I won't. But, hey, there's water on Mars!

Also, I've written 37,000 words of the pig story, and it looks like I really might get it finished by the 17th (deadline chosen simply because it's the day of my pupils' concert, and I wanted to have the week before Christmas clear of obligations). And I think I'm finally ready to perform Rachmaninov's Prelude in Gb Major.

It's been a good fortnight, aside from the vomiting.
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 11:22am on 18/11/2006 under , ,
After a ridiculous evening of self-indulgent woe and angst (Tuesday) and OMG I CAN'T WRITE AND IT IS ALL SHIT AND WHAT'S THE POINT OF CARRYING ON AND I HATE MYSELF etc, and [ profile] bitmatt insisting that of course I can write and me going all stroppy and "Bah. I'm going to play the piano for an hour, so there" and Matt sneakily creeping upstairs and reading random bits of the story so far and confessing at bedtime that he had and that my writing wasn't bad really and I should just carry on anyway -- [breathe] -- I've managed to write another 8,000 words.

So I'm still on target (the target being to get this damn thing finished by 17th December so that I can enjoy my Pupils' Concert and indeed Christmas without worrying about the story). Today's writing will include two silly jokes and a confrontation -- something to look forward to.

Other than that it's been a quiet week.

I had yet another funeral. I dislike how the funerals and weddings of strangers still make me cry.

I dug out my book of Rachmaninov Preludes -- in the mood for something stormy and lush after so many months of the Goldberg Variations.

I bought myself the sexiest, most gorgeous top ever from Principles (hurrah for the Petite range!). Now all I need is an occasion to wear it. Perhaps I should just put it on whenever I'm feeling particularly dowdy.

Piano lessons have been very entertaining this week. I suspect the parents would be dismayed to learn of all the non-piano discussions that crop up during lessons. One ten-year-old wanted to know how the binary system works. One teenager spent five minutes telling me why we should go back to using corporal punishment in schools (she dislikes the "yob culture"). A seven-year-old taught me all the movements she's learnt in school for French numbers and colours ("quatre" (sp?) is using four fingers to stroke an imaginary cat). And I had a fairly depressing chat with one of my adult pupils about how we outsource our memory into the objects around us, and why this leaves us unable to cope with change in our old age.

And that's it!
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 08:40pm on 03/05/2006 under , ,
I did more than just sew stuff, knit stuff and read stuff on my internet holiday, you know. But I can't remember much of it now. The usual piano practice and teaching and visiting relatives and watching naff DVDs and eating and cooking and watering of tomato plantlets, I expect.

My sister visited, which was lovely. I discovered that my little brother describes Matt as his 'big brother', which is also lovely. I learnt seventy song accompaniments for the Manx Music Festival. Basically, I've been having a good time.

This is odd, for me. Since my adolescence began I've been used to considering myself a rather pessimistic person, given to days of chocolate binging and self-loathing, with a grey cynical core. But for the past few years I've noticed a change. Pupils' parents describe me as 'very optimistic' and 'relentlessly cheerful'. I find that I'm more inclined to joke about stuff than to dwell on it.

None of this is true when I'm hormonal, of course -- but in the old days I seemed to be constantly pre-menstrual, which I know caused a lot of pain for my friends.

Anyway, I've come up with two reasons for the change: Matt and creativity. The two things go together, of course. Matt is such a creative little person himself that it was bound to rub off on me eventually. And actually I love creating stuff. I'm not picky about the particular outlet for this creative impulse -- knitting, quilts, music, words, food, plants, clothes. It's the act of creation that I enjoy so much: imagining a thing and then making it real.

Notice that I'm not saying Matt is the source of ALL my happiness. That would be both foolish and frightening. But he has shown me how to be a happier person. And he sees me as a happy person, which reinforces the whole thing. It's all good.

Oops! I've thought of a third reason: I think I've found out where I fit in the community here. It's good to make a place for yourself amongst the people around. The Manx Music Festival makes this more apparent because nearly all the musical people of the island cram together in the Villa Marina, and I know lots of them and they all know me. As long as people need a piano-player then I know I'll be alright.

And last night we went to the bingo hall for the first time in four years, and I won twice! Woo-hoo! I won £10 and £8 and only spent £6.50, so the return on my investment was pretty good. Hurrah! I got very excited the second time and shouted "House!" a bit too loudly. Still got my winnings though.
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 01:17pm on 28/02/2006 under
[ profile] papersky asked for some good news, so here's a list of things that are currently making me happy:

1. The stench of dead mouse is lessening in our kitchen.

2. I finally managed to sow the tomato seeds (3 varieties -- cherry, yellow and pink), the pepper seeds (2 varieties -- long and red, and cayenne), and the leek seeds (which I completely forgot to grow last year).

3. Five varieties of seed potatoes are chitting at this very moment.

4. I've just successfully knitted a bootie for my godson. My first ever 3D bit of knitting!

5. [ profile] short_paws sent me a load of secondhand knitting needles last week.

6. I've been sewing again: two knitting-needle rolls, and a cushion cover.

7. The sun is up, the sky is blue. It's beautiful, and so are you.

8. Mum's decided to do the Race For Life again this year (to celebrate her continuing complete recovery from colorectal cancer) and has already collected half her sponsorship target.

9. The ABRSM haven't called to say they made a mistake in letting me pass my diploma.

10. Matt's tadpoles are hatching (not a euphemism -- our chicken-killing friend gave Matt a tank of frogspawn last week, as a kind of "woo-hoo it's spring!" present).

11. It's almost time for the Braaid Eisteddfod, my favourite night of the year.

12. I'm about to go and make a great big bowl of pancake batter because we've got some friends coming round tonight for a pancake party. It's PANCAKE DAY! PANCAKES! My most favourite religious festival of the year! Every Tuesday should be Shrove Tuesday! PANCAKES!

13. Matt is still selling lots of art. We went to an exhibition at a local gallery last week. We were the only people in the gallery (besides the staff). The (poorly made) fabric "art" had been on display for a month and they'd sold four items out of the whole exhibition. Matt sold three pictures just yesterday. If his eBay shop was a real world gallery then there'd be a thousand people wandering through every day.

14. I'm still playing the piano -- Shostakovich's Preludes and Fugues at the moment. And I've decided to learn Bach's Goldberg Variations. It's good to have a goal.

15. I beat dad at Scrabble on Sunday, due to clever use of the odd list of two-letter words at the back of his Oxford Concise Dictionary. I got 46 points for ZY and YK! He was not amused.

There's more good news to come, actually, but it'll have to wait for a couple of weeks. ;) (ETA: on re-reading this sentence it sounds like I'm about to announce I'm pregnant. I'm not.)
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 09:29am on 22/01/2006 under
I should've mentioned two things last time I updated, but I got too distracted by the knitting stuff and forgot. So, it was my lovely love's birthday last weekend. He is still under thirty, fortunately, so I still get to feel like an honorary twenty-something. Hurrah! And he got a beautiful pair of flared jeans from TopMan and, oh my goodness, they suit him. And they suit me too, which will be handy if I ever run out of trousers.

Also, my sister had a burst of LJ activity at the start of January, and posted this incredible oil pastel picture. Good, isn't she?

Matt's in the middle of updating his on-line gallery. Who knew art galleries could be so funny? I particularly like the comments that appear when you turn off the light-switch, and when you click on the fire extinguisher. Oh, and the pictures aren't bad either. :D

I, on the other hand, haven't been doing anything very artistic. I'm still knitting my scarf, and it's still taking five minutes to complete each row. I'm practising a couple of easy jazz pieces for a concert in a fortnight's time. I'm getting into a bit of a panic about being the accompanist for the Malew Eisteddfod -- have to be able to transpose at sight, which I'm not brilliant at.

And I spent several hours this week shovelling mud and old leaves out of our back yard. I gathered all the prunings up into an old sheet and tied the corners together. Then I got Matt to throw it onto the kitchen roof, and I hoisted it from there into the back of my car and thence to the tip. (The lane behind our house is at the same level as the kitchen roof.) Now that the yard is basically clear, I've discovered a brand new little holly sapling, hiding underneath the honeysuckle. I assume it's grown from a bit of bird poo. :D I hope it appreciates all the extra light I've given it.
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 11:00pm on 01/11/2005 under , ,
(I'm in the last stages of a migraine so what follows will not be the most elegant prose.)

We've finally got broadband, which means my pupils' parents will no longer complain that they can't get through whenever they try to phone to rearrange lessons. Is this a good thing? I haven't decided yet. Of course, the broadband being up and running does coincide with the death of the phone. It's still trying to ring, but the sound is so feeble that you have to be right next to it, sitting in silence, to hear it.

We didn't get broadband just to appease a lot of anxious parents, though (at £1 each day it's too high a price for just that), but also because Matt's eBay art venture is beginning to take off, and it was taking him a long time to upload his pictures each day. Just look at all the pictures he's selling: link here!

The allotment is a mess. I picked the last of the tomatoes today, and brought home the last of the onions. We have a piddly little amount of potatoes, two meals' worth of beans, and a LOT of broccoli. It's lucky I like broccoli.

I'm taking my Grade 2 Jazz exam next Monday -- a little bit nervous, even though it's only Grade 2, because I can't get the hang of how to improvise in the first piece. Hey-ho. I'll simply have to amaze him with everything else I can do.

Made more chutney over half-term, bringing the total up to twenty jars now. We had to transfer them from the overhead cupboard because it was beginning to sag with all the weight...

Also finally got back to doing some writing, after a two month hiatus. Hopefully this is the start of another little patch of productivity. Matt's doing NaNoWriMo, which should also help, given how competitive I am.

Today's words: 1,691
Total words: 13,031
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
13,031 / 60,000

Outside: Dark dark all is dark
Inside: Vegetarian shepherd's pie, and hot chocolate once I've finished this entry
Reading: "All American Girl: Ready Or Not" by Meg Cabot
Piano: Mozart Sonata in B flat major, and other stuff, and I was not too shabby!
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 02:25pm on 21/09/2005 under , , , ,
A letter from [ profile] leenielou dropped onto the doormat today, inadvertently guilting me into updating my journal. I haven't posted for a while, because I haven't written any more of my story; I'm still adjusting to the new teaching routine, and still having difficulty staying asleep at night. It's not a good way to be. I haven't used my sewing machine since New Year's Eve (because I stupidly told myself I couldn't do any more sewing until I'd finished the book). You have no idea how frustrating it is not being able to make stuff, when there's makeable stuff piling up in my head, getting in the way of story ideas.

Anyway, yes, lovely letter from Lou (who can expect a reply soonish) -- which made me see that just stopping posting here with no explanation was a bit shitty. So here I am to explain myself. The not-writing is part of it. The other part is that I'm wearying of the internet, or wearying of my internet habit, or wearying of the way the internet highlights my lacks of imagination, will-power and energy. I haven't worked out which particular aspect of wearisomeness broke my camel's back, but something did snap a couple of weeks ago. At the moment I can't see me ever really getting back into regular internet habits, and I don't want to. Less internet means more self-esteem.

No doubt I'll change my mind. It likes to keep my on my toes that way.

I've been reading -- mostly old school stories (P.G.Wodehouse and Thomas Hughes). Tom Brown's School Days is odd, and I remember thinking it was odd when I first read it. I was still a child and I thought it would be a jolly school yarn full of fighting and larks and talking after lights-out. But it's more like the Bible, with the headmaster as God, and Tom representing mankind. For the first half of the book (the Old Testament) the headmaster proclaims lots of seemingly arbitrary rules that Tom has to follow. Of course, Tom breaks the rules as much as he can, and is never privy to the Greater Plan that only the headmaster knows. You can almost hear God telling Tom he's not allowed to eat lobsters on a Tuesday, and Tom saying 'why?', and God looking inscrutable.

The headmaster almost gives up on Tom, but decides to give him one last chance with a change of approach -- leading us to the second half (the New Testament). Tom arrives back at school after the holidays and is disgusted to find he has to look after a new boy who is both weedy and wet, as well as being precocious and pious. Ugh. Poor Tom. But he learns to love the little blighter, to see that he should be a more religious fellow himself, and to feel genuine remorse and determination to do better when his young charge almost dies. The loveliness of the pious one's nature eventually filters throughout the school, mostly because Tom declares he'll thump anyone who dares challenge it. And Tom comes to have a high opinion of himself, as one who's made the school a better place. By the end of the book, however, he comes to realise that it was all the headmaster's doing, really, and that he, Tom, is an insignificant worm on the face of the planet compared with the headmaster's omni-things.

Odd. I didn't enjoy the second half of the book when I was little, much as I didn't enjoy the New Testament. Tom Brown's School Days does have a very good fight scene in the second half, though, which I think gives it the edge over the NT.

I've thought of lots of things that I could've written in this journal over the last fortnight, but you're going to have to cope without it. :-D Oh, except for the observation that I seem to know a lot of adults who haven't grown-up -- still very childish. And I've come to see that growing up is not a bad thing. Better to be childlike than childish, after all. But what is it that makes someone grown-up? I've been wondering about it. Perhaps it's something that happens in adolescence -- something about learning to see yourself with perspective.

Gah. I've forgotten the other things I wanted to say. It doesn't matter anyway.

Oh! One last thing. We've been doing our Tax Returns for the last financial year. It turns out that our combined income (before tax) for last year was £16,500. That's our COMBINED income. Our rent was £9,180. The utilities bills came to just over £1,000. We spent £1,800 on food. And yet we still managed to save over £6,000. I don't know how that's possible, but that's what we did.

The horrible part of this is that First Time Buyers' houses over here start at £160,000 -- so you can see that we'd need a mortgage of ten times our joint income. Any lenders? Anyone? Anyone? I thought not. And the First Time Buyers' houses are actually useless for me because they're built to such a shoddy modern standard that I wouldn't be able to play the piano without really pissing off the neighbours. At least in this tiny old house the walls are so thick (over 2 feet thick, judging by the windowsills) that the sound doesn't carry. So we'd need to buy an old house, and their prices start at £175,000 -- even for the really small terraced ones. I'm thirty-one now. What's going to break first? The Manx property market or my biological clock?

And, on that cheery note, I'm caught up. :-)


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