Feb. 14th, 2017 10:14 pm
stevieannie: (Default)
Loving my new choir - Steampunk Choir! Lots of lovely people (very filkish, although they don't realise it yet...). But there's one...

I was approached by one of the other members of long standing in this Steampunk community that I've only just joined, who wanted to warn me that one of the people who has joined the choir has had to be asked to leave meetings and events before because of inappropriate behaviour and comments to young, corseted, confident girls.

This concerns me because I am a mother to a young, corseted, confident girl who may very well come along with me to choir on occasion. Now, I'm not worried on a physical level - he's a very small person who strikes me as consistently trying just a *bit* too hard, and I know full well that Ellie would probably just (a) thump him and (b) tell him that she was gay and to f*ck off. But... hmmm.

I'm going to keep a very, *very* close eye on this, and require that he moves sections to between the tenors/baritones, so that he's surrounded by older men who are not going to tolerate any nonsense (this is a *lovely* group, I have no doubt that there are half a dozen people of both genders who would shut down any unnecessary behaviour from him with just a word from me).

Still, this is a first for me. Community choirs are usually overpoweringly female, and self-police on that front. This is different, so I'm holding back to see what happens. Interesting times...
stevieannie: (Default)
 The trouble with Facebook is that it is so damned omnipresent.  Even my mum checks Facebook...

But there isn't the space there for any real posting.  It's the online version of the five minute conversation whilst walking the dog...

So, how have things been with me?  Pretty good, actually.

We're slap bang in the middle of working on a new album.  This one will be themed around magic and enchantment, with a magnifying glass on the fae side of life.  This particular set of dreams and perspectives is one that I've long been fascinated with, and the opportunity to write exclusively for it is rather lovely.  We hope to have it released for our GoH spot at FilkOntario (which reminds me - must make some easy-to-pack wings!).  Fingers crossed!

Tim is working every hour that he possibly can.  His idea of a weekend is currently an afternoon off.  If he doesn't work between 2pm and 5pm he adjudges it to be a weekend.  That happens roughly every two weeks.  We took time off this afternoon to spend some time with Ellie and go shopping for some supplies for her first trip away on her own.  She is going on a residential trip with school and needs an immoderate amount of shoes, apparently.  Thankfully, Lincoln Open Market managed to supply them at a very reasonable price, and we had enough money left to treat her to a sparkly notebook from PaperChase (oooh.... the stationery....  ohhhhh).  Both Tim and I bought new folders for our choir/instrumental groups (on sale at WH Smiths - result!) and he finally had a haircut, which means that he looks far less like Christopher Lloyd in "Back to the Future".  We then had a cup of tea in Waterstones (I do love being able to drink tea in bookshops - so very civilised...) and decided that there were far more interesting books than we would ever actually have time to read.  Also thought that we would like to turn into Noel from Brighton when the children leave home....

Noel lived about a dozen houses away from us, and ran the most amazing bookshop on Queen's Road in Brighton.  It was stacked floor to ceiling with the most incredibly interesting and esoteric books I've ever seen.  None of them were in any sort of order, and many were stacked on their sides, under things, behind chairs or teetering at the edges of triple-stacked shelves.  It was madness.  Noel knew where everything was, and if you wanted something specific, then you asked Noel and he'd go straight to it, no matter how tucked away it was, or what the subject might be.  A 1960's catalogue from a Sotheby's sale of Samurai Swords?  Why of course!  It's over here behind a stack of George Eliot!  Where else?

But the thing I loved best about Noel was that he spent all of his time out of the shop sat in the big bay window of his house, with a HUGE glass of red wine and a pile of the books from his shop.  His living room looked just like his shop, only it had gorgeous Victorian furniture as well.  He spent every evening in the book-filled room, reading, drinking and waving to neighbours.  Every now and again our paths would cross outside of his work and we'd meet in the corner shop, buying Kirsch, or spanish olives or one of the other bizarre things that they seemed to stock as well as bread and milk, and we'd have a little chat, and he'd mention that he'd found something fascinating on Lovecraft and that Tim should pop in, or that I might be interested in a little T.S. Eliot volume he'd just discovered...  It was always something worth having, and whenever we went in, we generally spent far longer chatting than buying.  

The shop was shut last time we visited Brighton, and I can't say I'm surprised.  I imagine that Noel either went out of business due to his sales model of "Serendipity over Organisation" or lost a chunk of liver function due to his prodigious red wine intake, and retired to devote himself to mineral water and more reading to take his mind off the fact that it wasn't red wine.

But whatever happened to Noel, he left enough of a mark on our lives that both Tim and I think it would be a hoot to turn our garage into a second-hand bookshop and then just sit in it during the day, refusing to sell anything good to the very few passers-by...  I imagine it would be very much like living on the set of "Black Books" :-)

In Shock.

Sep. 24th, 2012 11:08 pm
stevieannie: (Default)
 I found this gift voucher that we'd been given last Christmas, and hadn't used.  I asked Tim whether it would be OK to spend it on some plastic drawers to store my yarn stash in.  He agreed that this would be a good use of the money (£10) as it would enable me to see all my yarn at the same time and to decide what I was going to do with it before I spent any more money on the sort of thing that I already had.  (Stop laughing at the back!)

So that's what I did.  I found a small set of drawers for exactly the money on the gift card, and brought them home.  I assembled them (such as was needed - basically just sticking a set of casters on), and prepared to fill them when I got five minutes to myself.

That five minutes came this evening.  I set to, and sorted out the balls of wool from the various places they had been stashed over the past few years.

I have 3 balls of sock wool.  1 skein of lace-weight.  Some acrylic oddments that aren't big enough for anything meaningful, or nice enough to want to knit a whole jumper out of them.  That's it.  I've knitted EVERYTHING ELSE!!!!!  I feel oddly bereft, but also virtually guiltless on the yarn-front as I swore I wouldn't buy anything else until I'd knitted everything else up.  I'm almost there!  If I have a little money and see something nice, I think I can allow myself to consider to getting a ball or two to lay away....  Hurrah!

I think I shall turn the acrylic oddments into a series of granny squares to make a nice afghan out of - after all, the world needs more snuggly blankets :-)

Of course, the flip side to this is that I also seem to have acquired rather a lot of quilting fabric.  One of the drawers will be given over to that instead, I think!  Time to switch focus and start quilting, I think...
stevieannie: (Default)
 Free to good home (will even post if you want it now!):

The Boots Book of Home Wine and Beermaking by Ben Turner.

It's the book that my Dad used for all his winemaking exploits, but we tend to make things almost exclusively from John Seymour recipes (I think his benign neglect method works well for our rather slapdash lifestyle!), and this is taking up room we could use for other things.

Anyone interested?
stevieannie: (Default)
That's a zen quote, but I first heard it on a song by Christine Kane.  (In fact, I've got it playing now.  If you're interested, check it out here)

It was a song, and a quote that literally knocked me for six.  When I first heard it, I was working in an abusive environment (although as a remote worker, I had it much easier than some employees), which swallowed a huge amount of time and emotional energy, leaving me with very little for my family and home life.  What time was left was spent managing a house rental business which I didn't want to be running, but had very little other choice about.  I heard this song and the first line that sucker-punched me was:

"All you need to know, is that you're free to go..."

That's a hell of a concept to internalise.  I was literally struck by the realisation that I didn't *have* to do these things that made me miserable.  Sure, I needed to earn money, but there are other jobs, surely?  Other ways to do it?

Now, I'm not advocating chucking in your job.  I didn't.  But when a re-organisation came up at work, I took the opportunity that fate presented me with.  I leapt.

And the net appeared.

The headteacher at my daughter's primary school asked me if I'd do some music teaching.  The fee he offered was equal to what I'd lost with the abusive job, for far fewer hours.  Granted, I'd spent years being associated with this school, helping out and baking for fundraising sales.  He knew I was dependable and good at what he was asking me to do.  And despite being hellishly nervous, I found out that I loved it.  If there's one thing I love as much as performing, it's teaching and facilitating.  I had no idea.  But he saw something in me that I never had.  Steven Horsley was my very unlikely, football-playing angel.

And slowly, I tore myself free of the things that made me unhappy.  Sometimes it was people, sometimes it was pasttimes and sometimes it was jobs.  I picked them off my life like scabs.  Sometimes the scabs bled.  People didn't always like the changes I made.  At least one local friend disliked the fact that I stopped being negative, and wouldn't listen to her complain about her husband anymore.  She's still in her self-destructive circle, but I'm not.

And there started being a little bit of time in which I could glimpse me again.

Into that space and time dropped some other things - my job at Bishop Grosseteste, which is a scary challenge most days, but never fails to leave me a better person. My choir leadership, too.  I've had so much joy and companionship from the people in my choir that there simply aren't words to express it.  They know.  They understand why I cry when they nail a harmony and why my kooky conducting including signs for "Holy poo, the hairs are up on the backs of my arms!".  

These are all things that I would never have done if I'd had all of the old negativity and pain in my life.

I have tremendous sympathy for people who say, "I have no free time, and I'm really unhappy..."  I've been there.  And at times, things swell up again, and I have to sit and pick at scabs afresh.

Listen to that song again, and if you are unhappy, take a look at your life.

Leap, and the net will appear...
stevieannie: (Country Gal)
 It's a beautiful day here - not too cold, occasional bursts of sunshine and thick, creamy cloud rolling over the sky in swathes.  The wind is strong, but fresh and bears the scent of Oilseed Rape standing in the fields - I'm lucky not to be allergic, so I can enjoy the thick, sweet smell of it.

"Why don't we go out?" said Sovay to me, her head on one side, looking at the lead.
"Good point, puppy," said I, and dutifully started the ritual of The Walk.  This ritual involves putting on some shoes (street shoes or walking boots, depending on the weather and where we fancy going), putting the poobags in my pocket and picking up the lead whilst saying, "Walkies?  Walkies, Sovay?", whilst Sovay bounces up and down vertically without appearing to put any effort into it (imagine a basketball bouncing, and you'll about have it).  The further through the ritual we get, the higher she bounces, until finally I have my coat on, and she is all but shouting "WALKIES!!! HOT DAMN!!!  I LOVE WALKIES!!!!" in her own doggy little way.

The weather has dried enough that some of the country walks nearby are passable again (without scuba gear, that is), so I put on walking boots and we set out.  

Sovay is pretty happy with the street walk until we get to the place where the footpath diverges from the pavement.  She looks up at me.
"Country walk, Mum?  Really?  With rabbits and pheasants and fox poo and everything?  Really?" She can't speak out loud as such, but honestly, it's pretty easy to tell what she wants to say most of the time.  We have conversations a lot of the time, her lack of words has never stopped either of us.

I smile and open the kissing gate for her.  Normally, if I'm with another human I'll kiss them as we go through this gate, but Sovay is so intent on getting off the lead and running that there's no time for doggy kisses.  We close the gate behind us and I take off her lead.

I watch her run, and bounce and run and look back at me with her patented, "Look at me!!!  Have you EVER seen a dog this happy???  Have you???  Eh???  Well, since you let me off the lead yesterday, I mean..." look.   It's impossible not to smile - she loves the freedom so much.  And so - with much bouncing, love and laughter - we walk.  Up and along the old railway embankment, where there is enough gravel left to make it passable in wet weather, but where the hawthorns and blackthorns and dogroses crowd close to watch you and listen to your thoughts as you pass by.  Every now and again a rabbit bursts from cover, and runs for the warren, leaving Sovay so astonished that she forgets to chase it.  Pigeons bumble around in the trees overhead, and somewhere nearby we can hear a cock pheasant calling for his wife.  Under the trees there is a spill of plants - Comfrey, Plantain, Jack-in-the-Hedge, Kecksie and others that I don't recognise.  I remind myself to put new batteries into the camera so that I can take pictures to look up later.

Sovay makes the most of being off the lead, stopping and starting at her own pace, pausing to smell where the dogfox has marked his territory or gently nose a bumblebee.  If she stops, I carry on walking, leaving her some privacy for her own explorations.  Before long I hear the gentle thunder of her paws as she runs to catch up with me, overshoots and then stands in the middle of the path ahead, ears upright, tongue lolling and tail wagging as if it were going out of fashion.  Every now and again the sun comes out and we both stand and let the warmth wash over us before setting out again.

The wind rushes in the trees and hedges around us, but other than that, there is nothing to mask the sound of the birdsong.  Sometimes I hear a rustle and expect to see a little faery face staring out at me.  I see things moving at the corner of my eye, drop a curtsey and sing for them.  I sing "Lavender's Blue" and "Sovay".  

I could go back home via the A607 when the railway embankment footpath finishes, but neither Sovay or I are in the mood for traffic.  We turn around and walk home down the green lane, the way that we came, singing and bouncing as we go.  

It's been a good day.

I meant to take photographs whilst I was out, but forgot to change the camera batteries, so decided to take pictures with my heart and mind instead.  :-)  Happy Friday :-D
stevieannie: (Default)
 ...within my friends' skillset.

My google-fu has failed me.  I want to find someone who can supply me with shoe-soles.  Ladies' shoe soles that I can built leather shoes and boots on.  With heels.  Not insoles.

The closest I've come is the word "shoe findings", but all I seemed to come up with was either orthotic soles and insoles for foot/joint/back problems (and that cost a BOMB) or people supplying them by the thousand.  I just want a few to make myself some shoes.  Well...  to experiment with making some shoes anyhow...

Any suggestions?
stevieannie: (Default)
I'm not going to look back at the year that's been. It's been, there was good, there was bad. It's gone.

What I am all about today is the way forwards.

I've been doing some serious thinking recently, and realising that the only thing wrong with my life is that I don't have enough money to stop worrying about it. I don't want to be rich, but enough money to not have to worry about how the next bill will be paid would be lovely. And really that's all that's wrong.

I am married to a man that I love with all my heart. I believe he loves me too. We are both in good health. We have two remarkably pleasant children, who are growing up to be lovely people. They are both in good health. We finally live in the house that we want to live in, and plan to stay here forever. I have wonderful friends who bless my life beyond the telling of it. I have the dog I've dreamed of for years, and lots of chickens. I get to live a sustainable lifestyle which makes me happy.

All that's missing is enough money to stop worrying. And here's the thing: money I can make happen. I can work harder, smarter, longer. If it was a terrible health issue, nothing I could do would alter that. But it's not. It's just... f*cking... money.

So I'm going to solve that, along with several other things that have been nagging away at me.

They say that a writer writes, whatever happens in their lives. I write, but I struggle to write fiction. It's what I'd like to write, but I'm just not all that great at it, to be perfectly honest. However, I have been blogging for 14 years, non-stop, about things which are close to my heart. Maybe now is the time to look at writing *non-fiction*. Radical. I've had a couple of ideas for books rattling round in my brain for a good 24 months or more now, but have not actioned them because I still harboured the secret thought that writers should write *fiction*.

So I'm going to give it a try. Why not, eh? Maybe a publisher will be interested. Maybe they won't, and if so, then maybe I'll try publishing it as an eBook. But I'll be writing. I'm going to try to put aside a little time every day to turn off the modem and just write.

I'm also starting a works' choir in a few days' time which shows every sign of surfing the Gareth Malone Zeitgeist, and should prove to up my income a little. I'm looking into whether something in my local community might be possible without stepping on any musical toes here. If it goes the way I'd like, it has the potential to double my income without doubling my hours. I feel very positive about that.

You've got to believe it to do it. I really do think that, too.

Happy 2012, everyone! What dreams are you planning on realising this year?


Dec. 24th, 2011 10:00 am
stevieannie: (Default)
Many thanks to Rachel for the parcel which was delivered today :-)

It smells *wonderful*, and I intend to add it to our winter celebration table tomorrow! *Hugs*
stevieannie: (Default)
December has been mad. The Christmas season for Piepowder is doing better than ever, and we've worked solidly throughout December, which is gratifying. We've had several days when we've done two or more gigs in a day - particularly Tim and Liam who have continued with their Ceilidh schedule alongside our Christmas commitments. I've certainly continued doing the dayjobs (which are both musical too, so the dayjob/nightjob distinction gets a bit blurry) so I'm not entirely with it either.

We're finally here at Christmas Eve, and I'll be rather relieved to see Christmas Day (and a day off) to be honest. Today features another two gigs, including a late one in a restaurant, finishing at 10.30pm. We'll clear off as soon as possible afterwards, and have promised the kids that they can stay up until we get home. There isn't an earthly chance of either of them sleeping before 11pm, so I don't feel too bad about it. What it does mean is that we shall be doing our usual Christmas night routine in full Victorian clothes, which seems a little over the top even for us...

Today I am planning on buying a few last vegetables, and making some Christmas crackers, and possibly doing some cupcakes for the children if I can squeeze time in there somehow. I shall drop large hints to the children that some living room tidying would be very much appreciated, and hope that Ellie's fascination with dusting is still intact..

Love to you all, wherever you might be and whatever face of the Divine you revere. I wish you all a peaceful day tomorrow.
stevieannie: (Default)
I'm not really very good at change. I'm a nice Taurean girl after all. But after the incessant downtime over at LJ and some of the reactions of the CEO, I've decided that it would probably be quite a good thing to have an exit strategy.

So here I am. All my settings (and hopefully crossposting) will be the same for those still reading on LJ, but I won't be dependent on them to such a high degree.

Let's see how this works.
stevieannie: (Default)
 We've been involved with the film production company, WAGScreen, for several years now.  We started off with me doing some medieval spinning for their "Luttrell Psalter" film.  This quickly expanded into bringing Rika and Tim on board to play various parts in the film, and then into Rika and I singing "Miri It Is" for inclusion on the soundtrack.

It was a wonderful experience, and we thoroughly enjoyed it, so we leaped at the opportunity to take part in their next venture, a recreation of the Tennyson poem, "The Lady of Shallott" using images from pre-Raphaelite paintings.  Ellie ended up in this production as well, credited as "Smallest Damoiselle", which I was particularly entranced by!  The afternoon spent recreating the Millais picture in the boat whilst dragonflies swept across the lake and the wind moved in the trees was nothing short of magical.  An image of Tim and I on this shoot was the picture that gave us the cover for our last CD, "Dancing Through The Past", as well.

So when WAGScreen posted a picture of local miller and businessman, John Pocklington, on Facebook and asked whether we knew anyone who resembled him and might be free for filming during the day, I took approximately a nanosecond to respond that Tim looked *quite* like him, and would love to help out.  WAGScreen also needed a small boy and girl to play two of his children (we had to draft in Ellie's friend, Zack, as Jared was too large for the role).  They contacted us later to ask whether Jared would be interested in playing his dad at the age of fifteen. Jared was thrilled to help out...

At some point during the Windmill filming process, Pauline - one of the WAGScreen producers - asked if we might be able to help out with the music.  During the ensuing discussion, I agreed to score and play the soundtrack to the film itself and that Tim and I would provide the traditional music to score the accompanying documentaries.  I turned in the soundtrack before we left for Germany, although after discussion today, may well re-record it to allow for different uses within the whole film.  We've also finalised the sound, length and feeling that they want for the documentaries, so will look at recording that early next week, hopefully!

It's been a journey, without doubt, but a very interesting one :-)
stevieannie: (Default)
Free to good homes:

Two bikes (girl's colours - one pink, one purple "Bratz") suitable for age 3-6.  

Unable to deliver, pickup from our house in Welbourn.  Do you know anyone who needs a little bike (or two)?   Friends, family or neighbours?
stevieannie: (Default)
 Hot on the heels of a very nice comment from a Rural Touring Officer, I have decided to update our webpages, which were looking very sad and unattended since OVFF 2008.

I have also put up sound files for our 1999 release, "Dreams Incarnate" for free download (click on the "Music" button).  If you never got the opportunity to buy it, have lost your CD or it just never played right, then please do feel free to download it.  "Dancing Through The Past" is also available as a paid download (£7.50) should you feel thusly motivated...


Sep. 4th, 2010 06:02 pm
stevieannie: (Default)
 I have here some makeup-y things that the lovely [ profile] frankbean gave to me.  I have taken the few bits that look like I might use them (sometimes a bit of slap helps a lot), and wondered if anyone out there might have a use for the remaining?

Boots No.7 "Rose Truffle" Nail Polish
Bodyshop almond oil conditioning hand wash
J.R. Watkins Apothecary Lavender Hand & Cuticle Salve (smells lovely)
Tiny tube of Boots No. 7 Eye Mousse
Two sachets of MaXFactor foundation natural/golden
MaXFactor face powder (partially used) "Truly Fair"
Clear nail polish
MaXFactor "Disco Pink" nail polish
Boots No. 7 "Morello Cherry" lipstick (unused - *very dark burgundy*)
3 exfoliating spongey thingummy jobs.

Good News!

Aug. 24th, 2010 07:40 pm
stevieannie: (Default)
 We have sold the tent!

This makes me very happy, and the house potentially more weatherproof...
stevieannie: (Default)

Due to a change in job circumstances and the need to buy materials for the new house, we are selling our rather spiffy medieval tent as seen here on the left.

It's a Vic James tent, made from 100% cotton duck canvas, and has been fully waterproofed.  All materials are historically accurate, down to the carved tentpegs.  We had it made without pelmet scalloping as we asked Vic to model it on some of the contemporary paintings, and couldn't find primary evidence of square sided tents with scalloping!  Of course the lack of scalloping also makes it perfectly acceptable in any time period up to the Napoleonic wars...

It's 12' x 18' inside, and has a rigid wall-pole system which holds the walls taut and allows for shelves, wall-hangings etc. to be suspended from the walls.  For the time that we used it, we used the left-hand third of the tent as a children's area and curtained it off for privacy.  This type of tent is perfect for that kind of "bedroom creation".

It is easy to raise, but does need two people.  We've managed it with one adult and a nine year old before now, but nine year olds get rather distracted, so I'd really recommend another adult.

This tent has had very little use - we took it out for two very short seasons (three or four events at most), and then Tim's music took off, so we just couldn't make it away on a regular basis.  It's a shame to have it sat there unused, so it's time to move it on to another home.

Something of this size would cost well in excess of £1200 from Past Tents these days.  I don't know what Vic is charging these days, as he's never needed to advertise, and this tent was a special anyway.  We'd love to get £800 for it, but if it goes to friends/nice people then we could take £700.

For a few more pictures (including inside), my flickr set is here:

Please feel free to pass this on to anyone who might be interested.  All donations to the "get some corrugating sheeting on their bloody roof before Tim drowns" fund gratefully received :-)
stevieannie: (Default)
 Today, Tim and I were playing a usual Mini-Morris Co. gig at the Farmers' Market in Lincoln.  Liam and Frank were away, so Tim and I did it between us, and a lot of fun it was too!  We experimented more with mixing harp and melodeon, as well as harp, recorder, bouzouki and a few other unusual combinations.  'Twas good!

When we finished there we high-tailed it back into the car and dashed off to a wedding, where we were playing for the wedding reception as background music.  This is just the sort of gig I really enjoy - no performance nerves, but people really *are* listening and enjoying - and very willing to tell you they have enjoyed it at the end.

When we finished there, we dashed home so that Tim could get changed before setting out for his third gig of the day.  Woohoo!  I'm now at home, but he is Soul-Solutioning back in Lincoln until midnight.  

If this was a day pushing paper around a desk, I'd feel tired and fed up.  But as we've spent it playing music (and getting paid for it, too!), it's been an excellent day - and one that sets us back onto the right road after a few financial hiccups over the last month.

Made the kids a slow-cooker dinner of rabbit stew (Tim and our friend, Mitch, shot the rabbit a little while back) and am feeling jolly self-sufficient as well!  Whilst we were out, Jared took Ellie out on her bike and apparently she can now ride confidently on two wheels!

Really - an excellent, excellent day. Looking forwards to some quality knitting time tomorrow...
stevieannie: (Default)
We made magic this weekend. Pure magic.

I burble on for far too long about the convention under this cut... )

We made magic this weekend, my friends. We made magic.

stevieannie: (Default)
 OK, slight ManorCon hiccup: due to the previous group extending their stay at the last minute, (and presumably them having more people than us!) our Thursday night option is not open now :-(

However, I have had confirmation that all is well with the Sunday, so that's good.

I know that some people have already paid for the Thursday, so I'll go through my records and issue refunds.  It's at this point that I'm *really* glad I did all this through the business account so it's nice and clear what belongs to who!

Sorry about this - it was always a possibility, but we'd really hoped that the previous group would pass on their option.  Seems like they are even more last minute than I am...
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