Sunday, May 31, 2009

More IMS

Here’s my first scroll corner. It looks very impressive, doesn’t it…

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… at least until you see it in context.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Latest on IMS

Here’s my latest on Illuminated Medieval Sampler. The square-ish border has been filled in and I’m onto the swirly filigree border next.

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I also put it on the scanner to do a close up of all the Rhodes stitches and the sparkly backstitching. The actual colour, IRL, is probably somewhere between the two pictures, but the bottom picture is definitely a little washed. Given scanners, cameras and the differences between everyone’s monitors it is so hard to get an accurate image.

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I’m still enjoying myself stitching this, so I shall carry on with it while I am. It’s also been good as I deal with the whole depression medication thing as when I’m feeling less than relaxed, I can usually still manage to sit down and stitch a few stitches in a relatively calm manner.

Regarding the depression, it came roaring back Saturday and I immediately decided against toughing it out any longer. I’m now on a new medication and waiting for it to get up to full strength. Hopefully it won’t be too long. Right now, I’m feeling okay, but I also know that everything is a bit “off”. I figure when I forget to ask myself if I’m feeling better, that’s when I will be.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

IMS – second line of border done

I’ve completed the inner line of the border for Illuminated Medieval Sampler.

ims002 While watching Doctor Who with a friend this evening (Planet of the Dead – yes, I’m running behind as always) I got started with the rhodes stitches and gold metallic back stitching that fill in the space between these two lines of the border. It looks really pretty, so when I get that done I’ll make sure to include a close up photo as well as the one of the whole thing.

I know it isn’t very exciting to look at so far, but to me it feels fantastic. My enthusiasm for my stitching was just fading away and so to be enjoying myself doing this even (or perhaps especially) when it is just border, it' feels fabulous.

So far on Madam, Will You Talk?

So I’m up to page 94 out of 368. I’ve made my predictions on who are the good guys, the bad guys and the spectators. I know, because I know I can trust Mary Stewart, that the protagonist will survive and most likely end up with a good man (and I’m confident I know who it will be).

There shouldn’t be anything to worry about, should there?

But boy, the suspense is getting to me!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Slow reads and fast reads

gaudy night AKA A Book Ramble…

I have just updated my progress with the books I’m reading on Good Reads. It made me realise that three of the four books I’m currently reading are older books (all with a certain “classic” status – not actual classics but ones that have long time fans) that need to be read slowly and savoured and appreciated.

It made me think. I wonder if these days, with so many books saturating the market, we tend to look for fast reads so that we can get on to the next one. We have these huge TBR lists/shelves/piles/mountains/Everests where we have so many books we want to read that if we ever stopped to think about how long it would take to read them all we’d probably run screaming (I know I certainly would).

But for all their potential quick-read status, I’m currently not all that enthused by my TBR and finding great freedom in reading other things.

For me it’s Mary Stewart (Madam, Will You Talk?), Dorothy L. Sayers (Gaudy Night) and Dorothy Dunnett (Scales of Gold). And I don’t mind slipping between the books and spending some time in France, Oxford and Portugal (at the moment, although Nicholas is on his way to Africa). Instead of rushing, rushing, rushing I think I need to take the quiet reading time. If I decide to go through with reading some more Mary Stewart as I am so tempted to do, that’s okay. If I decide to continue following Nicholas around the world or join Harriet and Peter as they explore married life, what’s to stop me?

The only person who ever said I had to read books from the TBR and/or read them fast was me. Surely if anyone can change my mind, it should be me!

I also have all three of these books both as paper copies and audiobooks. In the past I’ve always tried to listen to the audiobooks pretty much on their own merit. Gaudy Night is my official current listen and I’m struggling with it because I only get to listen at night and I keep falling asleep. This morning, I added Madam, Will You Talk? to my PDA after I’d read one chapter of the book. So while lying down for my daily rest (aka sleep of the dead) I listened to that first chapter. It was a great way to do it. Instead of trying to concentrate really hard (I take in information many times better when it’s written that when I listen), it just gently reinforced what I had already read and was a much more relaxing experience. So maybe I need to do that instead. Again, it’s a case of going slowly and savouring the experience rather than trying to get more books read by listening to one as well as reading others.

Perhaps we’ve forgotten how to do that – take it slowly and enjoy the experience – in this fast paced world. I certainly think I had.

While I readily admit that the TBR is sure to obsess me again before too long, I’m going to enjoy this new way of looking at things for as long as it lasts.

Book in the Mail

Yay, I got a new book in the mail today. What a nice surprise, as I’d completely forgotten it was coming. I won a copy of Mary Stewart’s Madam, Will You Talk? from Angie over at Angieville.

Stewart, Mary - Madam, Will You Talk I’ve always loved Mary Stewart’s books, although it is years since I’ve read one. This, however, is not one I either own or have read, so I decided to forget about the TBR mountain an started in right away. I’ve only read the first chapter so far, but I’d forgotten how evocative Stewart’s writing just can be. In that first chapter she’s already given me a detailed feeling for the main character, her friend, the hotel where they are staying and several of the other characters.

It’s making me want to go on a Mary Stewart reread, but I guess I should finish this one first, shouldn’t I?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Health Update

Things aren’t so good now. I’m dealing with a lot of anxiety and I keep feeling like I want to throw up – not in a my-stomach-is-sick way, but due to anxiety.

I’m getting more emotional (good in one way, as I hated being almost unemotional) but that’s turning into feeling down. Dave did point out that the beginning of winter, as the weather is going nasty, is not really a clever time to stop taking one’s antidepressants. Roll on, SAD. I guess I better make sure I get some sunlight whenever there is some.

I keep wanting to crawl into bed and hide, which also isn’t really a good sign. But I’m very tired and the rest is lovely.

I’m very tempted to just abandon the last few days of a quarter dose and go straight to nothing, so the drug can finish working out of my system and I can find out if feeling like this is due to the withdrawal or the depression. At the moment it could be either, which means making plans about what to do next is difficult.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It joined up!

I finished the first border on Illuminated Medieval Sampler tonight. To my great delight (and relief) it all joined up like it was supposed to do.

ims001 It’s not particularly exciting to look at right now, but it is satisfying that everything is in the right place. I get to use on of the variegated colours next. Yay.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Got to the hard part

Oooooh, I think I’ve hit the hard part of the withdrawal from the antidepressants. I’m dizzy and light-headed most of the time now and it is really disconcerting. I read some posts of forums about coming off Effexor before starting and they called these light-headed moments ‘brain zaps’, like your brain has just been zapped by fizzy electricity. That’s just what it feels like.

I’m also nauseous, light sensitive, headachey and very, very tired.

This is not fun at all.

But, so far so good, I don’t seem to be depressed. Long may that last.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

If the old one isn’t working…

I just don’t feel like stitching Cinderella (or any of my other current cross stitch projects) so I figured, what the heck, and I started something completely new.

So I now have 135 stitches (all black) in Chatelaine’s Illuminated Medieval Sampler. I joined the group back when it started in 2006, but was still working may way through Alpine Seasons, so I never started it. I bought the materials kit from European Cross Stitch and some lovely fabric from Silkweaver and it has all sat in the cupboard ever since.

I’ve been tossing up the idea of starting something completely new to go with trying to get off my antidepressants (which I’m sure are a major part of the reason I haven’t wanted to stitch much in the last year or so). I had three candidates – Not Forgotten by Dragon Dreams, Galahs at the Water Pump by Fiona Jude and Illuminated Medieval Sampler. Tonight I went to pull the DMC colours for Medieval Sampler and found I was only six short. Taking that as a sign, I started.

So here are my materials before I began:

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And for the record, here’s my pitiful progress on Cinderella:

cinders007

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Maybe that’s it?

In the post I just wrote, I typed

I guess I’m too invested in the hero

Maybe, at last, I’ve finally answered the question of why I don’t read the books I really want to read, and read the easy ones instead.

I get so invested in the characters that I don’t want to see them hurt – but that is often a part, even a huge part, of the things that befall main characters in fiction, and how they grow, survive and triumph.

So to avoid going through that with characters I love, I avoid reading the books.

When I’m reading a light book where I’m not invested in the characters (and as much as I love a good setting or plot, it’s all about the characters for me) then it isn’t so scary and its safer to read.

I’ve said before that I have what I call “book fear” and I suspect perhaps this is at the root of it.

Of course a book is better when we’re invested in the characters, but we go through their downs as well as their ups and that can be hard.

Any suggestions on how to use this new realisation to overcome by book fear?

The Perils of Rereading

So I'm reading this book. It's a book I've read in the past and loved, and I decided to reread it and the two that come after it in the trilogy. I'm not going to name it or any of the characters in it, because the last thing I want to do is spoil an excellent series for someone.

But I feel the need for a little grumble. It's only a very little one and really more of a reflection than anything else, or maybe a vent. I’m not exactly sure.

It is very rare for the fact I'm rereading a book to have a negative impact on my enjoyment of it. For one thing, thanks to CFS my memory is so poor I often can barely remember what happened anyway. (This is great for rereading mysteries as I can get through the whole book without a clue about who did it, no matter how many times I’ve read it before.) But I don’t forget absolutely everything, and sometimes knowing stuff ahead of time is great and sometimes it’s a (small) problem.

So, this book…

There’s this hero – a yummy, brooding, wonderful hero – and two women have been introduced into the story, both of whom could be a love interest for him. One is quiet and solid and perfect, and indeed she is who he ends up with in the finish and they are great together. The other is willful, fiery, fascinating and, when push comes to shove, rather a bitch. Since I’m halfway through book one, the hero is, of course, attracted to the latter. I, as the rereader, know she isn’t worthy of him. I know she’s going to fail him when he needs her and I know she is going to show her true nature before even the first book is over.

The problem is, he doesn’t. He’s in love with her – or thinks he’s in love with her – and I know how much she’s going to hurt him. I want to yell, “Not her! Not her!” at the hero and point out how much better the other woman is. Unfortunately, however real he is to me, the man is still words on a page and he isn’t going to listen to me.

I know it will be okay in the end, but first I have to read the last half of this volume where he’s investing so much in her and she’s going to throw it all in his face. And that’s making it hard for me to keep reading, as much as I love the books and want to enjoy the story all over again. I guess I’m too invested in the hero and I know how much pain the rest of the plot is going to cause him, without him wasting his emotions on a woman who isn’t worthy of spit.

As wonderful as it is rediscovering a great series – and that’s what these books are – sometimes rereading is hard on the emotions.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Why is it?

Why is it that when I have so many books to read – and they’re all books I want to read – I spend so much time mucking around doing other things and not reading at all?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Cool quote

So I’m playing around on Good Reads and find a quotes section. I hadn’t seen this one before, but totally agree with it.

"You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."
Madeleine L'Engle

On Good Reads

One of my reading groups has moved over to Good Reads so I’ve finally got myself set up over there with the username of – you guessed it – rocalisa.

I had tried to import my Library Thing content into Good Reads a while back but it didn’t work to my satisfaction, so I have just deleted 400-odd books (manually, one by one) to get the catalogue the way I wanted it. Now it just contains my 2009 reading, by current books and TBR and each book I’ve read has at the very least a rating, tags and a finish date.

Yes, I know, it’s all kind of OCD having to make it just the way I wanted, but it would have totally bugged me every time I went over there otherwise.

Life carries on as normal here.

We went out and bought Marcus winter school shoes today. For some reason all the one with velcro straps were very girly-looking and the “boy” ones all had laces. Marcus totally isn’t ready for laces (we have enough trouble convincing him he can get dressed by himself – which he can, he just prefers to have Mummy or Daddy help) so it took a bit of hunting around before we found some suitable ones, but we did in the end.

I’m into my second week on a half dose of anti-depressants and it remains a case of so-far, so-good. I still get moments of light headedness and there are certainly moments when I feel more “down” or in a state of mind of think of as “not-care-y” where I’m rather lacking in motivation, but nothing has been really bad. I go back and see the doctor again on Tuesday, so we’ll decide then what step to take next.