Well, fresh air, anyway.  The daughter invited the husband and myself to brunch at The Tavern in Allerton.  Husband, daughter and grandson all had cooked breakfast (bacon, sausage, black pudding, egg, beans, mushrooms, tomato, toast), I had lemon curd and raspberry pancakes with cream.  It felt weird to be having dessert for breakfast but they were GOOD.  I just about finished mine (with the help of three free cups of coffee) but the others struggled.  If/when we go again, I think I'll try the eggs benedict.  

Then we went into town so that the grandson could spend some more of his birthday money, which had been the original purpose of him and daughter going out yesterday.  They hadn't spent much time together over the summer holidays and she had promised him that they would go out.  Then she invited us to brunch and we tagged along into town!  But it was more a case of them doing what they needed to do and us being with them, rather than it being 'our' day.

We also tried to find the grandson some new school shoes but we didn't have much of a will for it at that point and the pair he really liked were too big.  So, that's a job for another day.  We still have three weekends to get it sorted.  I just don't want to wait until the last minute...

The husband found some really nice Liverpool FC-themed t-shirts, though, so it was worth going out!  And it was nice being out as a family.  It really is giving us the taste for going out more regularly.

Thursday's Team Meeting (church not work) was fun with M in the chair for the first time.  She is so full of energy and enthusiasm.  She gave us a couple of warnings about her style - when she says 'ooh, wouldn't X be a great idea?' she is just throwing out suggestions, she doesn't expect us to run around and make X happen if it ISN'T a good idea; and if she's getting ratty, we should ask if she needs to eat something.  I also realised it's the first time I've told her I've got a grandson who's 11.  It's so long since I first met her and we've been looking forward to her coming so much and I've met her a few times and felt like I've known her forever - but really, we barely know more than each other's names!

We are going to find a time when we can meet up for a coffee and I can give her the Potted History of Rosa.

She also said she and her family feel like they've lived in Liverpool forever and it's really only a few weeks.  People say that all the time about Liverpool.  It has a wonderful way of absorbing people.

And otherwise I've been gaming the hell out of FFXII:ZA.  I'm 60+ hours in, my characters are all at Level 49 (Penelo has just slipped over the line into 50), I have 4 espers, 28 hunts (up to and including all the Level 5s) and I am ready to go back to Giruvegan.  I've explored the whole of Zertinan Caverns because I forgot how to get to the extra bit where the Belito Hunt takes place; I don't have the map yet, because the urn is guarded by two VERY big nasties.  I have also cured the Dalmascan Patient, which is a sidequest i really like - it proves the value of the random kindness of strangers.  I have not yet tackled the floaty weedy thingies in Mosphoran Highwaste, or the fishing challenge (which I want to at least have a good go at, this time).  This game is SO enormous...

I'm going everywhere by foot to pick up license points, even though I know that I will have far more than I need.  I'm not learning many of the accessories because there are just too many to make sense of and they confuse me - Rose Corsage and Bangle are good to have, though.  I made Fran and Balthier ranged fighters and they should probably have been my Black and White Mages, too. I intended Basch and Ashe to be my tanks and they are - but Penelo kind of is, too, when I intended her and Vaan to be the melee fighters.  So, if I ever do a 'start from scratch' walkthrough, I will definitely rethink the job roles.  When I first began, I just got a bit bewildered by the whole Zodiac License Board thing.  But I do have two fairly well-balanced teams and am tackling all the enemies pretty well.  Of course, my standard 'strategy' of over-level and beat the bastards into a pulp ALWAYS helps!

Well, that's all for now, DW.  Toodles!
 Took the grandson to Crosby on Saturday to see Despicable Me 3 at the Plaza.  The Crosby Plaza is an independent cinema that is run as a charity, so ticks lots of boxes.  But it's tiny and when we got there they had sold out.  I had thought about booking tickets as soon as we got of the train but I didn't.  We had already been around town spending some of his money AND had an hour on the beach making sandcastles, so it wasn't a complete wash out.  I am going to check if it's still on this weekend (if it's THAT popular, I expect it will be) and book online!

Our 'my favourite bible passage' series came to an end on Sunday.  A not-very-inspiring theme that threw up loads of stuff from four very different speakers.  I love how the worship planning 'hive mind' works!  M will be at our next meeting - it's her very first meeting as Rector.  What an introduction.  And I'm actually publicising it for a change.  Go me!

In exactly two weeks it will be our 25th wedding anniversary and we'll be waking up in Cardiff.  I really want this trip to go well.  The husband is full of doom and gloom, but my eternal positivity says it won't be as bad as he fears.  However, I need to remember that some of what he predicts is very likely to come true and to be prepared!

I am greeting Sophie every morning, at the moment.  One of the on-going problems with her is that, now that we've made friends, I still feel she's a separate thing.  We need to be integrated for all this to have any point.  Trying to call on her 'when I need her' isn't integration and makes me feel I'm using her.  So, behaving like a friend, popping round to her tower to say 'good morning' feels like a way forward.  Her tower looks incredibly like Rapunzel's in 'Witcher 3: Blood and Wine' - but they are both inspired by story book illustrations, so it's probably not to be wondered at.

I'm about 19 hours into FFXII:ZA and getting lost in the Henne Mines.  There are now TWO bloody high-level dinosaurs living down there!  It was bad enough tackling one.  Thank goodness for 'fleeing'!  I didn't get to play last night as the son was doing quizzes for the husband and me on Beatles' song titles.  I was a bit irritated at the start but 'the family that plays together stays together' and all that.  AND I ended up laughing until I cried - I have no idea why but it was that kind of night.  I love my boys!

OK, time to get this day started.

Busy, busy!

Jul. 6th, 2017 07:14 am
 This week is just flying over.  But being busy is ALWAYS good.  Next week is graduation week, so that'll be tiring, too, but in a happy way.  I love graduation so much.  It's one thing the University does really well.  People who have experienced it at other universities go on and on about how ours is the best.

The son is in hot water again, at work.  He's just never learned to pick his battles.  He always goes up against the equivalent of a granite mountain and there's only ever going to be one winner in THAT contest!  One day, hopefully, he'll learn...

The grandson enjoyed his 'taster' day at his new school and has already made some friends.  Although if the daughter's experience is anything to go by, he'll have nothing to do with them when he actually starts!  But at least there will be some familiar faces around the place, which is the point of the exercise.

The daughter has a temporary crown on her broken tooth - she goes back to the dentist tomorrow to get it sorted properly.

And that's me!
 So, my daughter has always been accident prone.  The slightest unevenness in a pavement and she was always the one to trip over it.  She has a scar on her forehead from where she collided with a concrete step whilst running around the school playground on a wet day.  On Friday, she fell face-first into the pavement and chipped off half a tooth, and has a fat lip.  I'm guessing it happened too quickly for her to put out her hands (although apparently she did have time to think 'Oh, fuck!').  She has escaped unscathed, otherwise, though.  A small scrape on her knee but no other damage to her face.

The emergency dental service wouldn't see her because they consider the damage cosmetic, so she's going to have to try to see her local dentist ASAP.  The walk-in centre in town told her there's no infection in her lip, she just has to wait for it to go down.  I suspect the dentist won't be able to do much with her lip the way it is but at least they'll be able to get a plan together for how to deal with the tooth.  And her work have been really nice about it and are letting her book a week's holiday at short notice while the lip goes down.

So, she's a bit frustrated - mostly with herself for falling over whilst sober - but she'll live.

Yesterday was supposed to be all about the grandson going out and spending his birthday money with his mother - who he rarely gets to spend 1-on-1 time with on a Saturday.  Instead, he and I went shopping whilst the daughter sat in the walk-in!  If I'd realised how quick she was going to be, I would have waited for her.  But going through town with the two of them is like the old days when I had two children, both too old to hold my hands and both making their own sweet way through the crowds!

Anyway, the grandson got quite a good haul - full Liverpool kit for 2017/18 (shirt from our son - with name, number and badges - shorts and socks from his own money), Nike t-shirt and shorts, a very small 'man bag' type thing and a bike pump!  And he has more money to come and my parents will no doubt take him into town, too, when they're back from their cruise.

Today, I'm giving a talk in church on my favourite Bible passage.  That'll be fun!
 Today is the last day of my 'holiday' - but I've had a good rest and I'm feeling recharged enough to return to the fray.  I've also completed a read-through of DOAICS and made a few notes of the story as it is.  Next step is to add to the notes so that the story becomes what I want it to be.

I've decided to track down all of the diagrams for the Cat Gear in W3.  It wasn't something that I bothered much with when I was playing the game but I need a task and giving Geralt a matching suit of armour and weapons sounds like just the thing.  I can also dye it pink, if I so desire *evil grin*  There are lots of other colours out there, too.  Can't remember seeing red, though...

My new copy of 'Once Upon a World' arrived yesterday.  I haven't read it in over 30 years but flicking through it yesterday really took me back.  It's a retelling of the Bible for children and I think it's one of the reasons I tend to view the Bible as a whole - the flow of the story between so many different characters but all making their contribution.  The selection of stories is very narrow but it's only a short book and it is for children.  I shall be making use of it in my talk on 2 July.

Today, I'm going into town with the daughter to choose a new telly for the grandson's birthday.  It's a bit extravagant, perhaps, but he will get the use out of it.  And he's our only grandchild - it's our duty to spoil him!

Bye for now, DW!
 OK, first of all, I need to get some disgruntlement out of the way.

I found out on Thursday (only by hearsay, admittedly) that a colleague has been promoted.  As far as I'm aware, no post was advertised and no recruitment process was gone through.  I also have to say this isn't a post I could possibly have gone for because I don't have the skills or the experience.  Of course, I don't begrudge the colleague his promotion AND he's going to have to manage a new member of staff (because THAT post will be advertised) but it's just raked up a whole layer of frustration that had settled.

I love my job and I REALLY love being part of a team that is made up of a) posts that make sense and b) great people.  I'm in a happy place and I was enjoying working life.  But this just illustrates that if the powers that be WANT something to happen for someone, they will make it happen.  So, turning me down last year for even having a regrade CONSIDERED adds weight to what my husband says about them having me where they want me.

Well, I'm not going to settle this time.  Firstly, I have a line manager that I feel actually gives a shit.  Secondly, it doesn't matter if the powers that be think a Grade 7 post is NEEDED - what matters is that I believe I have a case for saying that I'm doing Grade 7 WORK; I'm not asking for the post to be regraded, I'm asking for recognition of the work I have done and am doing.  I did want to speak to my line manager yesterday but he wasn't in the office, so it'll have to wait until I'm back at work.  But at least I've got this out of my system!

In happier news, I've just bought a copy of a book I had as a child that I lent to someone and never saw again.  It's called 'Once Upon a World' and is a rewriting of the Bible for children.  I want to use it as part of my talk about my favourite Bible passage (Numbers 6: 24-26), which will include my thoughts on the Bible as a whole.

In less happy news, I spoke to an old friend yesterday and she was sounding old.  I mean, she is almost 81 but I only saw her a few months ago and she still seemed as bright and switched on as ever.  Yesterday, she was hesitating and losing her thread mid-sentence.  She said she struggles with numbers and writing, and can't handle money.  She uses her debit card, so can still shop.  And she's still managing to live independently.  It's just so sudden.  I will see if she's free one day next week, I think.

Also, the grandson hasn't been well the last couple of days, so I might be spending the day in Halewood baby-sitting.  I'm waiting for the daughter to ring and let me know how he is.

Right, I need to get some washing done before I go anywhere!  Bye for now, DW!
 I'm steadily working my way through the flash vignettes for the DOAIS characters. I'm finding it a really worthwhile experience. Delving into their pasts is a) making them more real to me and b) giving me insights into them as people, which will c) make them more rounded in the novel. One of the things (and there are many!) I love about FFXII is that the characters feel like they have REAL pasts, lives that happened before the story begins. It makes them so much more interesting.

Another suggestion I came across this week was to write down 20 things about a character that the reader will never know. The idea being that some of the sense (and potentially the things themselves) will seep into the writing. I already have pretty detailed character sheets but it's something to keep in mind.

Anyway, I have 7 more vignettes to do, which will take me nicely to the end of the month. I'll give myself the final couple of days off from actual writing but I will have a think about how I tackle the next step, which involves replotting the whole thing. Which is, of course, the thing that I've been putting off in the name of 'getting to know my characters better'!

The other discipline I've applied the last few weeks is Leo Barbauto's 44 day challenge. He's introducing readers to 11 practices designed to help one become more Zen - starting with breathing and body awareness, and moving on to managing the thoughts that will intrude when one is meditating. On a personal level, it's about quieting the monkey brain and just being more present. On a wider level, it's about being more in control of one's emotions and recognising that people don't always behave the way we want them to - and that's OK. Well, unless it isn't - it's not a free pass to abuse.

Anyway, although I haven't ever managed to meditate on a regular basis before, the first few practices are all things I have experience of. I am also familiar with letting things go, managing the stories I tell myself about my own and others' behaviour. As well as my daily (almost!) Chi Qong practice, I am now managing a few minutes of meditation most mornings. It hasn't (yet) changed my life but I appreciate the way he's layering the practices, and I expect to hit something new further down the line.

Work-wise, in contrast,  I've been allowing myself a bit more slack! But I'm still getting the stuff done that needs to be done.

Doctor Who tonight, following some cleaning and possible DS9. Saturday's are always fun.

I also need to have a conversation with my mother about her house. And I need to have a conversation with my son about behaving like a home-owner and not a squatter.

Fingers crossed they go well!
Saturday could not have gone any better. The husband liked all of his prezzies, the daughter, grandson and I did some shopping together without falling out, and we got to the restaurant in plenty of time.

The food at Meet was really good. Everyone had what they wanted and came away replete. Everyone had a good time and there was no grumbling or falling out. And the bill was quite a bit smaller than I was expecting.

We finished off with a little stroll along the river, which blew away some cobwebs and livened us all up again. It wasn't warm but it wasn't really cold, either. Then daughter and grandson came back to ours for a bit before going home.

I then watched Doctor Who, which was brilliant (of course!). Slamming up against Bill's ethnicity was handled very well. I'm glad they're making something of it, because trying to ignore it in the case of Martha was, I think, a mistake.

Yesterday was supposed to be a 'chill out day', including some FFXV. I hadn't had a chance to play since Wednesday, so hadn't downloaded the update. It took HOURS! This gave me chance to watch a couple of things on the Tivo, but it wasn't what I had planned. I did eventually get to it (beating Leviathan and getting to the part where Ignis is blind), but it wasn't quite the day I had planned.

Today is the May Day Bank Holiday, so I shall be cleaning the bathroom, mowing the grass, and hoovering upstairs. And gaming.
It's a year since we said our final goodbyes to my sister-in-law, on what would have been her 53rd birthday. I've come to realise that she's one of the people whose impact on my life I've under-appreciated. Having said that, we did always make an effort to get her something nice at Christmas and we did make a fuss for her 50th.

She was promised a baby brother for her 4th birthday and my husband arrived the day after. Tomorrow, we celebrate his 50th but I will raise a private toast to his sister and all she did for us.

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