Saturday, 16 January 2016


The JFDI mantra is reaping benefits. Or am I reaping benefits because of it? Not sure about the logic of that, but I will say that since I consciously adopted it as a mantra (I like having a mantra, never had one before, it's a novelty still) I have felt as though more Stuff Has Got Done than previously used to.

Small things like loading or emptying the dishwasher in a timely manner, rather than leaving dirty dishes on the side and tutting each time I go into the kitchen and see them. Putting the hoover round as soon as I think "ugh, look at that floor" rather than waiting another day or so and being annoyed at the FILTH the whole time.  Walking the dog earlier in the day so she chills out and goes to sleep on her back with her paws in the air for the next six hours, and  I don't have the constant "must take the dog out" thing in the back of my head.

None of it is particularly significant, but it adds up to me feeling more cheerful, and the house feeling less chaotic.

One larger task which we tackled last week was the reorganisation of my study.  It's the third bedroom of our house, too small for a double bed, cosy for a single bed and (small) wardrobe, perfect for a desk and some bookcases and a sewing table.  And some guitars.  And an amp.*

Previously, the computer desk was under the window, where the light is best. I used to work from home (see many and various whiny posts about Working From Home) and needed to be able to read tedious lengthy documents without straining my eyes while simultaneously dealing with tedious lengthy emails on the work computer. I sound like Samuel Pepys, but you get the point.  However, in more recent years, the only thing I have used my PC for is playing World of Warcraft and dicking about online.

My sewing table, on the other hand, was tucked away in the opposite corner of the room, furthest from the window, sunk in gloom under the wall shelves.  The wall shelves are great, but they did mean that I tended to bang my head when I was standing over my sewing table trying to sort out recalcitrant sleeves.

In a flash of rare brilliance, I realised that if the two were swapped about, there would be both more light and more headroom for sewing, and the smaller desk (with PC screen) would sit neatly under the shelves, thus making the space around the doorway less cluttered.

Mr WithaY and I set about emptying the room, revealing many years worth of dead spiders and assorted dust bunnies in corners and behind furniture. Pleuk.  There was a brief lively bout of Language as the PC and all its hellish associated cables were disconnected, but other than that, there was minimal chaos.

A thorough hoovering of the carpet and cleaning of neglected skirting boards followed, then everything was put back in their new places.  And, dear readers, it has worked very well.  My sewing table (still v untidy, as I haven't yet finished putting stuff back on shelves and into the attic) has more space, more light and looks far more useful.  My desk is set back neatly in a smaller space and seems more practical. The only downside is that I am not able to lean on the radiator if I get chilly whilst using the PC.  An incentive to use my sewing machine more.

Mr WithaY bought me a v funky computer joystick so that I can play Elite Dangerous - a space trading/combat game he has been enjoying recently - and I have been learning how to use it.  Once I stop whirling my spaceship round in circles, firing all weapons at once I am sure it will be a lot of fun.

Other news:  I have been planning a party for my 50th birthday in a few weeks.  I cannot believe that I am this old.  Seriously.  Almost 50. What the actual fuck?  I assume that once Saga start sending me brochures for coach tour holidays and cheap car insurance I will automatically get my Old Lady white cardigan and purple rinse through the post from whichever department deals with age.  The Ministry of Elderly But Vociferous Women.

Also: Adverts.  Why are so many adverts now using the same four songs? It;s very confusing. If they aren't all using the same four songs, they have a shonky twee female vocalist with a fucking ukulele doing ear-bleeding cover versions of old pop songs (Wonderful Life springs to mind) which make me want to throw things.

That Centerparcs advert with the bears. Puh-lease.  If a bear ever got into Centerparcs it would look at the foetid throng in dismay and flee back into the woods as fast as possible.

Bears. Pah.

*I have decided to sell my amp. It's huge and powerful and does all sorts of incredible things, and I am not using a hundredth of its potential.  So, after my party it will be going.  I'm using it as the sound system on the day, which is why it's still here.

Saturday, 9 January 2016


It's January, and it is currently pissing down with rain. Ah, England, and your endless weather. We're getting off lightly down here though. The North of England seems to have been almost entirely submerged by floods, rivers bursting banks, lakes overspilling, drains backing up and exploding thousands of gallons of filthy water into the streets, and of course "localised flooding."

Localised flooding is a concept which scares the bejeezus out of me, It basically tells us that regardless of any and all flood precautions you might take, the water WILL GET YOU.  It might come up through your toilets and sinks, (see backed-up drains above) or through an air-brick, after you carefully sandbagged the front door, or, most alarmingly, via a re-invigorated underground spring, deciding to emerge through your kitchen floor.

That happened to a neighbour in our village a few years ago.

We live within sight of one river and several smaller streams, all of which are currently in spate. Thankfully we also have water meadows a little way downstream, onto which, as is intended, the rivers spill when they get too full, thus preventing all the houses being submerged. This is why it's a bad idea to build houses on flood plains.

Mr WithaY was sent a photo by a mate Up North which shows her in an inflatable dinghy IN HER KITCHEN, bobbing about on water which is almost as high as her worktops.  Gah.

We have had (I think) three frosts so far this winter. There are daffodils already in flower, wasps and bees are still flying about outside, and the roses in my garden are still flowering. I have to take the decision to cut them back, but it seems such a shame when they are flowering.  It's almost certain that there will be a month of icy Siberian weather in March or somewhen, when we least expect it to make up for this unseasonal mildness now.

I have a new Thing for 2016. I decided that the single biggest obstacle to me doing fun stuff is my own procrastination. I used to be creative in a big way, making re-enactment kit and so on, and I realised that the reason I was highly productive was that there was always a deadline to be met.

"I must get these shirts finished for May Bank Holiday."
"I promised to get this singlet to them in time for the banquet."
"I need to make fourteen fancy dress costumes by the end of August."

Once Mr WithaY and I stopped doing re-enactment, both the reason for making so much kit vanished, as did the timetable I worked to.  Last year I bought half a dozen silk saris from eBay, washed and ironed them, and they have been neatly rolled up in my fabric basket ever since. I was full of vague plans to turn them into summer dresses, or shirts or something.  So far, all I have managed is a pair of curtains and a cushion cover for my study.  Not good enough.

The new Thing, then, is a sort-of mantra in my head. It is JFDI, which as you may already know, stands for Just Fucking DO It.  Crude but effective, it means when I think about doing something, and go a bit wishy-washy, I just think "Oh JFDI" and then get on with it.  So far it works beautifully.

It means that we no longer have a three-month-old heap of ironing looming balefully at me, my clothes have been sorted and thinned out and taken to charity shops, and I am working my way through my study in preparation for a big reshuffle at the weekend.  I am going to move my sewing table to where my desk is at the moment, under the window, and thus have more light and a view for when I want to sew. My PC can sit on the other side of the room where there is less natural light, but now that I am not poring over lengthy Serious And Important Documents for work, I don;t need the desk under the window.

Small but important changes.

It's also an opportunity to chuck out a ton of old junk which has drifted into corners and onto shelves over the last few years.  Oh, and properly clean the floor.

Onwards and upwards, people. JFDI.