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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 03:51pm on 16/09/2014 under
The plan this summer was to try and do something every day.It didn't have to be vastly exciting or different, but we didn't want to regret wasting all the free time. I think we managed it, anyway. It feels like months and months since last term -- a huge contrast to the way the first half of the year zipped by a lightning speed for me. The best decision we made was purchasing season passes to all the Manx National Heritage sites. We have now visited them all, and I've really enjoyed re-discovering them through River's eyes.

So in the final week of our holiday we managed to cram a fair few fun things.

More photos etc under the cut. )

I'm back at work full-time now, and so glad that I prioritised family time over house/craft projects this summer. It's the first time I've ever felt like I didn't waste my long holiday. Hurray!
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 03:32pm on 25/08/2014 under
Another full fortnight of summer busy-ness.

More photos under the cut. )
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 09:25pm on 10/08/2014 under ,
We managed to do lots of things in the past two weeks:

Cut for length, and there are a few photos in there too. )

It's been a great summer so far.
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 02:18pm on 15/03/2013 under
Posting this as a reminder when things get tough again later in the year (as they most definitely will -- our annual income will drop by a third because of maternity leave). We've had a good week!

1. Due to a case of mistaken identity, a man in New York who used to run the Met has asked to see Matt's artwork, and has also expressed interest in Matt's new web development project. This is after Matt explained that he wasn't who the man thought he was. Matt's pleased, anyway. It's been a long time since anyone showed any interest in him professionally. And people have started signing up to Matt's project.

2. After some bad budgeting on my part (totally forgot that I'd still have to pay National Insurance even though we were below the Income Tax threshold, so we were stung with an unexpected £2000 bill in January*) we don't have enough money in our account to survive until the next pay-cheque in May. We don't actually have enough in there to meet the utilities bills etc, never mind pay for food, petrol, birthday presents, etc. It's been a very bad few months of worrying and anxiety. But!

(a) Matt sold three board games on Ebay for £95 altogether! Woo-hoo! And we might be able to sell some more stuff!
(b) I've started playing the organ at funerals, and so far have made an extra £80 on top of usual income!
(c) Manx Gas, who have been trying to get us to pay £270 for 2 weeks-worth of gas usage, finally backed down this week and cancelled the bill! (I had to threaten to write to the managing director and my local political representative before they did the right thing, though.)
(d) We've been approved for our first ever credit card! Just waiting for it to come in so that we can buy food again. Mum had to buy our groceries last time. Not my proudest moment.

3. This didn't happen this week, but I want to put it in anyway. We have a new washing machine. Actually new! (Our first one was free on freecycle, but we killed it by overloading it with nappies three times a week. Our second was secondhand, and we were ripped off as the bearings were already going in it when we bought it. The spin cycle sounded like a jet engine. Once it started leaking -- after many months of use -- we decided to just get a new one.) It's so quiet, you can actually have a conversation while it's spinning, even if you're standing next to it. With our last machine, we had to pause DVDs during the spin (even with the kitchen door shut) because it drowned out all noise.

4. I've been given lots of classes in this year's music festival which is (a) lots of fun for me because I love accompanying, (b) good news for us because I'll earn a lot of money from it, and (c) a little daunting as I don't know when I'll get the time to practise 80 different accompaniments!

Anyway, it's been a better week than any we've had so far in 2013. I'm feeling slightly less stressed about the immediate future.

* This wouldn't have been a huge problem if we hadn't had to replace the roof last autumn, which cost thousands of pounds.
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 11:30am on 14/06/2008 under , ,
I was teaching a girl on Wednesday whose parents keep sheep as a kind of hobby. At the end of the lesson her mum handed me a plastic bag dripping with blood, and said, "You're not still vegetarian, are you?" And thus I became the proud owner of some free meat -- shoulder of lamb, to be exact.

I panicked about it a bit. I may not be vegetarian any more but I'm still not totally comfortable with the rules of hygiene when it comes to meat. It was much easier being vegan. Anyway, long and boring story short, I stole mum's Jamie Oliver At Home cookbook, and some rosemary and mint out of her garden, and followed Jamie Oliver's instructions for slow roasting the lamb shoulder (four hours in the oven! I'm trying not to feel guilty about electricity consumption) on a bed of rosemary and garlic, with mashed potatoes and carrots, boiled cabbage, and a gravy made of the roasting juices, mint, stock and wine vinegar. Oh, it was tasty. With the extra thrill of being cheap (free meat, free (stolen) herbs, free (allotment) cabbage). And there's still plenty of meat left over for another couple of meals this weekend.

The cheeky postman has just delivered my new bra. He was not cheeky about this, although he could've been. Instead he tapped repeatedly on our living-room window, and made suggestions that the lettuce seedlings growing on the windowsill were actually cannabis. Cheeky bugger.

My new bra fits. It's the same size as the new bra I ordered last month, which didn't fit (too small), which was the same size as the bra I ordered months and months ago that did fit. I don't know what to make of this -- maybe I should just be pleased that I now have two bras that fit properly.

Gordon Brown makes me sad. I've seen and read fictional tragedies, and always thought that they could never happen in real life because no-one would be that stupid. And there he is, being that stupid. He thinks he's won the government, but he's actually lost the country. Idiot.

And yesterday I went to the allotment. Pictures etc under the cut. )
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 12:07pm on 05/02/2008 under
We had snow! Briefly. But I got to enjoy the hyperspace effect as I drove through the blizzard. Unfortunately, I also got to enjoy the failing-brakes effect as I tried to turn off the road and park my car. But now I know how much fun a 180-degree turn in a car can be.

I was a tiny bit proactive at the beginning of the year, sending a letter and CV to the local private school so that they could add me to their list of potential piano teachers. Yesterday they offered me some morning work. So next year I'll earn £5,000 more than this year. But I'll lose three mornings of my week. But I don't do anything with my mornings at the moment anyway -- just slobbing around the house in my dressing-gown while feeling guilty over not writing anything. And the school is within easy walking distance of my house. But I'll have to be up and dressed before 9.00am. Still -- £5,000. I'd be stupid to turn it down. For the first time ever my annual salary will be over the local average.

Matt and I have just celebrated our 8th anniversary. There is no down to this. It's been 8 years of unbelievable upness. The happiest 8 years of my life.

To counter the total upness of me and Matt, though, there's always the allotment to bring me down again. It's such a mess. And the weekends have been so wet recently that we haven't been able to do anything about it. Bah.

Also, it's Shrove Tuesday, which is my favourite religious festival of the year -- even including Christmas. They haven't worked out how to commercialise Pancake Day yet, thank goodness. We have milk, eggs, flour, butter, lemons and sugar. Let the joy commence!
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 12:02pm on 03/01/2008 under ,
Last year I kept a very basic "what I did today" diary and, after a bit of tallying up, here are the results:

1 wedding
1 complete -- albeit rubbish -- draft of the pig story
3 funerals
18 days of illness (15 of which were the Cold That Wouldn't Go Away in January)
19 crafty items made**
20 evenings out at the pub
21 migraines*
32 trips to the allotment***
91 walks along the coast, through glens, up hills, by rivers, through the grounds of stately homes, etc
66,000 words of fiction written/rewritten

* The diary turned out to be more useful than expected, since it showed me what should've been obvious all along: I get a migraine with every period. (I get migraines at other times too, but only if I've missed so much food that I'm painfully hungry.) Since discovering this I've taken extra care to eat properly during my periods (you know how it is (if you're female), bad cramping puts you off eating, doesn't it?) and, although the migraines haven't gone away, they've been a lot less severe. Still on the subject of periods, I noticed that the cramps were getting worse every month, and had resigned myself to ever-increasing pain until the menopause. But Matt and I switched sides of the bed in the autumn and since then the cramps have dwindled to a manageable throb. Hurrah!

** Photographs coming in ensuing entries.

*** And, in case you thought keeping an allotment was glamorous and fun, here's a picture of the utter bloody shambles that is our shed. I promise you I wasn't holding the camera at a funny angle. Clearly, this year's allotment project will be to get a new shed.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

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I don't update this journal very often. The main reason for this is to spare you the following:

1. Repeated and frequent entries about how rubbish I am and how little I've written and how difficult writing is and how I'll probably never make it anyway and that I'm kidding myself if I think one book contract would bring in enough money to solve our financial worries.

2. Repeated and frequent entries detailing my love for BBC Radio 4 and how I feel I've become a better, more well-informed person since I started listening to it regularly.

3. One entry on smear tests and why I left it 12 years before having a second one.

4. Infrequent and desperate entries on local house prices.

5. Regular complaints about migraines. The last one was so bad -- as if someone was stabbing me in the head, over and over again, for 12 hours -- that I've finally arranged to have a blood test to check my blood sugar level and find out for sure whether or not it's the cause.

6. Depressing allotment updates. There's too much still to do! And it's probably too late to plant out the over-wintering greens, alas.

See? That's how kind I am. You didn't have to read any of that. :D
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Things that have happened in my life recently:

1. I ovulated! Go me!

2. Matt and I saw Carmen, the opera, on Sunday. I've now seen two operas so I feel qualified to say that they're very silly. Doubtless there are many witty articles and books and pamphlets detailing all the various silly aspects of opera and why they're so essential to the art form. And doubtless I'm not the first person to come away thinking that it could've been so much better if even one tiny portion of the story had been plausible. Still. The singing was good, everyone laughed when the minimalist mountain scenery fell over, the scene change people were bizarrely obtrusive, and I spent 15 minutes of the first act very scared that one of Carmen's nipples was going to pop out of her bodice. All in all, a good night.

3. I harvested the onions yesterday. We now have two small sacks full -- roughly 250 onions. I reckon that'll last us 5 months, which isn't bad for an initial investment of £3.

4. Stomach bug on Friday night, similar to but not as disastrous and frightening as last year's Winter Vomiting Virus. I never used to get bugs like this so I assume my immune system is weakened. Certainly I spent the whole of Saturday craving citrus fruit.

5. Although the beans and pumpkins and courgettes and cucumbers and peas and asparagus all failed mightily this year (due to laziness on our part) we have managed to grow 4 delicious, sweet, plump, juicy bunches of black grapes. Home-grown grapes! I cannot get over this.

6. Matt's secret new project is ace!

7. Am now at HATE HATE HATE stage in the great re-write of 2007. This is not dissimilar to the HATE HATE HATE stage that comes with properly learning to play any interesting and challenging piece of music. This does not make it easier.
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posted by [personal profile] madelinekelly at 03:12pm on 16/01/2007 under
1. I have a long grey hair wriggling out from my parting. It's my second proper grown-up, getting-older, nearly-everyone-gets-them, grey hair. I had a few grey hairs twelve years ago -- my sister and I both developed a handful when our parents were getting divorced -- but I plucked them out and they never came back. This grey hair, and the one that appeared last year at the nape of my neck, look a bit more ominous. Hey-ho. It's the pitfall of having brown hair.

2. We have an R-A-T in the house. Ugh. We hoped it was a mouse. There were scratchings and scrapings (loud enough, in the bedroom wall cavities, to wake us up in the middle of the night and think we were being robbed), and something rattled the jam-jars stored under the kitchen sink -- but nothing was getting nibbled or lost. On Thursday morning I flicked the switch for the kitchen lights, and nothing happened. Evidently something nibbly has nibbled through the inadequately protected wires in the ceiling cavity. So Matt called the Pest Control chap and he turned up on Saturday morning, armed with traps and poison and wire coat-hangers and old chocolate and a healthy respect for his rodent adversary. He'd just about got me convinced that it was a mouse when he opened the cupboard under the sink and we were confronted with a large, fresh longtail pooh. So now there are three traps and a block of poison lurking in the crannies of our kitchen. And we can't get the lights re-wired until the house is cleared.

3. We saw the British Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Manx Museum. Funny how beautiful things -- perfectly beautiful things -- can make you feel sad and inspired and smiling and crying all at the same time.

4. Matt is off his crutches! But still limping. My sister took a photograph of his disgusting, dead-looking foot just before Christmas, which she promises to put on-line at some point. Something to look forward to.

5. I have a cold. The year is barely a fortnight old and already I've had a migraine and a period and now a cold. It's too physical! I can't cope!

6. I've finally seen V for Vendetta, which I loved. But it does make me wonder how they could make such a mess of the Matrix sequels.

7. Matt turned 29 yesterday, but he still looks only 28 so he's doing well.

8. I've made six stupid cross-stitch lavender bags -- bought six years ago on a hormonal whim -- since New Year. Sick of them now. And very glad to have them out of the way so that I never again have to be aware of them sitting unopened and unsewn in that box in the dining-room.

9. No writing done, but I've met with a Manx dialect specialist who's given me lots of advice (and lent me lots of books) so that Montgomery can have a proper voice at last. Hurrah!

10. Nana's tumour will be removed on Thursday. She's bearing up very well.


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