Me and My Bullet Journal

So, I don’t know about you, but my handwriting sucks.

It hasn’t always completely sucked. At one point, during my university career, I spent a lot of time working on it so it would pass my drafting teacher’s exacting standards.

And I did take my graphics classes at the juncture between by hand and by computer and back then I drew much better than I do now.

But in recent years, between arthritis and typing, it has deteriorated. A lot.

And so when I look at Bullet Journal (“BuJo”) layouts on the web, I am totally intimidated by how pretty they are!

BuJo Menu Plan Layout
My menu planning for the month.

The perfect handwriting. The beautifully drawn pictures, the various fonts! Fonts! Handwritten FONTS! FFS

And so it took me ages to start a BuJo. Because I knew I didn’t have the time, or the hands, to make one look like the pictures.

And then I saw one that wasn’t perfect. It was still nicer than I can do these days, but it was far from perfect.

And I started my own.

And I love it.

And I don’t follow any of the ‘rules’ of BuJos because, really, isn’t that point of one? You add to it what you need at any given time.

BuJo Goals Layout
My monthly goals. Spin is not exercising. It’s wool spinning!

So long as you title the page and number it and add it to your index, you’re good to go.

So, do you want to BuJo? Then BuJo!

Okay, So, Discretion is Indeed the Better Part of Valor…

And Simon and I have agreed to not name and shame our plumbers on the internet until we see our legal position.

So, if you live in Northern Ireland and want to know who they are? Private message me on FB or Twitter or wherever you know me from and I’ll tell you who to stay away from.

And stay tuned to hear about other stuff.

Maybe.

 

I Am About to Name and Shame Our Plumbers

Who we’ve just fired, but I thought I’d name and praise our gardeners, first!

When we moved into our rental house 5.5 years ago now, it was October and the lawn was dormant.

And then it was spring and it started to grow. And we hauled out the mower and Simon tried to mow. He was not successful.

So we ignored it.

Then my mom and step-dad came to visit and step-dad insisted on giving it a go.

So he did.

Then he left.

And we ignored it.

And then the house next door started having Moulds Gardening Services do their lawn, very surprising as the man who lived there seemed to love doing his own lawn, but whatever!

So I walked over to the guy doing the mowing and asked if he’d have a look and give me a quote to do ours.

I don’t remember what the exact figure was at this point, as it was a bit more in order to tame the wildness of our lawn, but after that first mow, it was £15 every two weeks.

And William and his then very small team (him and another man) started regularly mowing our lawn. I barely saw them, an invoice hitting the matt every two weeks, unless I was home and paying attention, and then I’d pop out with a cheque and for a chat.

Then the weeds went mad and the hedges needing trimming and there was William happily working away, neatly, cleanly and with reasonable prices.

And then we moved to our house that we own. And it was time to start actually caring about the lawn, since it was ours. And William has been right there with us the whole way.

At this point, William has expanded. He has at least two branded trucks and I saw him driving a plain one just today so a third one may be in the works. He has several crews working for him.

And he and his gang of merry men are amazing. They show up when they say they will. They trim and mow and pull weeds and do plantings and are just spectacular.

Our weeds were out of control again and so I sent William an email asking him to sort it. He said he’d be here this past Friday.

And then before the end of the day Friday he sent me an email apologising for not getting to us but we would be done first thing Monday.

 

Our weeded back garden.

How first thing?

One of his men was working on our weeds when Adam and I left for the school bus at 845 this morning.

That’s how to run a business.

Stay tuned for how not to run a business…

My Tribes, My Squads, My Crews

I realise this is late as International Women’s Day was earlier this week, but it’s been floating around my head and, really, we should celebrate women, international and otherwise, all year long, shouldn’t we?

So I’ve been thinking about the women in my life. My friends, my family, my tribes and squads and crews. And there are several distinct groups, some of which overlap, some of which don’t, and I’ve been reflecting on how they help me and how I help them.

My family is full of kick ass women. My mom, who was one of the first computer programmers in the 60s. I wrote about how kickass she was here, on Jump!Mag. Who was divorced and single mom long before most people. My dad was around, but mom did the day to day school/doctors/ill child/sort childcare/take to birthday parties part of my childhood.

My sisters and sisters in law and cousins who are business women, world travelling ecology experts, clergy, stay at home moms and teachers. Who sort their children and their partners and their homes and their jobs still find time to join marches, wear pussyhats and raise my equally kick ass nieces and second cousins. The boys are kick ass too, but I’m talking about women here!

My local friends, who are the ones who I call when I need emergency Adam care, a ride to Ikea or a cup of coffee and a belly laugh. Who are also kick ass women coping with their children, their partners, their jobs, and the total insanity that can be Belfast.

My hussies, whom I’ve written about before. This amazing group of women who found themselves othered on a popular message board for daring to speak against the message board’s main ethos. Who banded together in a chat room and carried that bond forward to Facebook and elsewhere. I’ve only ever met one of them in person, but they are the ones I look to when I need some mojo. Hussy mojo is unstoppable and incredible and has done everything from help people land their dream jobs to have babies. It may be virtual, but sometimes knowing that a group of people are out there, thinking about you, helps you find that inner je ne sais quoi you need to get things done.

And what I think of as my Core Four (three plus me). Four women who come from different backgrounds and countries and life experiences who have managed to find each other through the internet and are my closest friends. I have never met any of them in person and we now live in four different countries (England, Northern Ireland, Germany and Cyprus) but they are the ones I run to first with my most joyous news and most disastrous downfalls. And we never tear each other down and we always lift each other up and they are the ones I wish were nearby. We have a dream of retiring to a beach in adjoining cabins, but first, we need to figure out which country!

Oh, there are others too. Some on Facebook. Some on other message boards. Groups and groups of amazing women. An MP, a life coach, a writer or two. Some artists and musicians and crafties. And we talk. And we laugh. And we cry.

And we are, slowly, being heard. Being loud. We get knocked down, but we get up again. We shout for justice. For equality. For everything we deserve as members of the human race.

We may, in stature, be small. But we are mighty.

And we may be told to stop. Sit down and shut up.

And yet…

We persist.

Health At Every Size (HAES), Size Acceptance (SA) and Me

About a year ago I stumbled upon the idea of Health At Every Size (HAES). And I loved what it said.

It says that no matter what size I am, I can still be healthy. It says I have the right to move my fat body in any way I choose without censor or ridicule.

And it says that fat does not immediately mean out of shape and that thin does not immediately mean healthy.

In fact, I remember a man in my first ‘Oh fuck you have Type II diabetes, now what?’* class who was thin as a rail. And still had Type II.

You know why? Because a Type II diabetic is one whose body does not use insulin properly. Yes, that can mean because they are too big for their insulin supply, or could just mean their body produces too little. But they produce some.**

Anyway, HAES gave me the courage to say ‘fuck it to dieting.’ I have never really been a “dieter” anyway, but I certainly tried Weight Watchers or other weigh what you eat plans. And have never kept the weight off for more than a year.

Of course, I didn’t just see HAES and give up watching what I eat. I also read the actual studies about the harm yo-yo dieting does to the human body and also how none of the weight loss “experts” or programmes, such as Weight Watchers, will even publish studies past about 5 years of success.

One of the blogs I follow, Dances With Fat, says this about weight loss past five years:

 “The vast majority of people who attempt long term weight loss gain their weight back, and a majority of those gain back more than they lost.  When most people trying an intervention have the exact opposite effect, ethically we have to stop recommending it, at least until we figure out why and have research that shows a higher degree of success.”

HAES has actually even permeated Type II Diabetes guidelines. When I was diagnosed about 10 years ago, I was told my HBA1C*** had to be under 7 in order for me to be in control. Just last year that number went up. To 7.5. And just two weeks ago, at my 6 monthly appointment, I was told it needed to be about 7.6**** or under.

diabetes.co.uk 50 Shades of Diabetes chart
diabetes.co.uk 50 Shades of Diabetes chart

This was because a lot of studies showed there was a nominal difference in health and secondary pathic issues between 7.5 and 7 but a huge difference in the quality of life for diabetics. In other words, people were working so hard to achieve 7 or lower, they were miserable.

And my last A1C (not counting two weeks ago, that one isn’t back yet)? 7.4.

And then there’s SA. SA is exactly what it says it is. Accepting that people are fat or thin just as they are tall or short, brunet or blonde. My weight is none of your business and your weight is none of mine. You can’t tell how healthy someone is by their size. And it’s really none of your business how healthy I am or am not.

So what does this mean practically for me? It means I still eat fairly well most of the time (I’m a huge lover of vegetables and always have been) and when I don’t? I don’t worry about it.

But I am also exercising more. Because my goal isn’t weight loss, but to just enjoy the exercise, I am more willing to do it and I do it more often. There is no goal, actually, beyond trying to move (I usually walk) about 4 days a week, if not more.

So give it a try. Try eating what you want, when you want, as much as you want and accepting that some people are just fatter than other people. I mean, I will never be 6′ tall. And now I accept that I will never be 140 pounds either.

*Probably not the actual name of the class.

** For the record, a Type I or Juvenile diabetic produce no insulin at all. That’s the difference between the two. Also, everything I say here having to do with diabetes is about me and Type II.

***HbA1c refers to glycated haemoglobin (A1c), which identifies average plasma glucose concentration, usually over 8-12 weeks.

****The United Kingdom no longer uses DCCT numbers for A1C but IFCC numbers instead, which are two digits and start at 35. But just as kilometres have no meaning to me, IFCC numbers mean nothing. So I always convert to DCCT, which I understand!

So…What’s The Craic?

First of all, the sharp-eyed among you will realise that the URL of the site has changed. My former web host, aka my brother, decided to shut down his server and so we’ve migrated to a new host (NameCheap, if anyone cares) and given me a new URL. Which is actually my same URL that I’ve used for the company website since I started it seven years ago. Six years ago? Some amount of years ago.

But don’t worry about changing your bookmarks or that you’ll miss something because Leyser.org/TeeBlog will get you directly to designedtoatee.co.uk/TeeBlog. That’s the front page of the entire site now. It’s a nice picture of me, yeah?

Of course, if you don’t care about looking at my working or buying things from one of my shops (And why not? Huh?) you can add a new bookmark. To get directly here, to the blog, you need to use http://www.designedtoatee.co.uk/TeeBlog/Blog.

Or you can come through the front door. That’s okay. 😀

Let’s see, what else…

We’ve purchased and moved into our new house. OUR new house. As in, we own it. Weeeeelll, us and the bank, at least. But we can do whatever we want to it. And we are. And we will. And it is awesome in be here. I’ll be posting some before and after pictures at some point. Major changes coming, actually, starting with a complete bathroom refit.

My mental health is good. My diabetes seems to be under control. My fibro/early degenerative disease/arthritis kicks my ass and steals my spoons on a regular basis.

But I’m knitting. And crocheting. And doing tapestry. And sewing. And being a mum and a wife. And I have just bought a drop spindle and some wool and a book and I am going to learn how to spin.

I wonder if Simon will notice if I put a new shed up in the garden to hold a spinning wheel and a shuttle loom…

Or maybe convert the attic? Image source: http://www.jofirthlacemaking.co.uk/textiles_of_ireland.html

 

Good Bye 2016!

Well, that was a year, yeah? Good, bad, and ugly, all together.

Personally, it was a good year. I met my two main goals (more on that in a minute), Adam is thriving and only 10 inches shorter than me (eep!), Simon is working hard and enjoying it and I just keep keeping on.

My two goals were buying a house and earning my Driver’s License. Check and check.

The license took longer than expected, but I did it! In my case 6th (I think it was 6th) time was the charm. And passed with flying colours at that point. I had something like 4 minor faults. So yeah. I know how to drive!

The house also took longer than expected that but that was because all solicitors are evil. Weeeel, all solicitors working for other people are evil. Our solicitor was great. The vendor’s solicitor was a dick and a half. But we got there, in the end, moving in on 24th October. And two months later I still get a fission of ‘Oh yeah! This is *our* house!’ at the most random moments.

The other really good thing that happened was the letter from my former California employer informing me that I had a pension I could cash out. A pension I barely remember having. A pension that was now worth a fuckton of money. So I cashed it out. And the cheque cleared a few days before Christmas. And we now have the money to redo our bathroom (which is livable but needs work to be perfect), buy some new appliances for the kitchen and do some other bits and bobs we thought we’d have to wait to do.

And I think most people agree about the bad. A never ending list of celebrities left us this year. Some were just old, 80+. Others were taken way before their time. And the younger ones hit hard. Really hard in some cases.

The personally hard ones were George Michael and Carrie Fisher. No, I didn’t know them. But I admired them. And both of them were with me through my childhood and/or teenage years.  And their deaths were so unexpected. And the last 2 seconds of Rogue One didn’t help me deal with Carrie Fisher’s death. At all.

And of course, the ugly. Brexit. President-Elect DT (I will never use his name. He deserves to be nameless. He gets no respect.).

So 2017 has a lot of stuff coming up. I imagine it will also be a hard year. Maybe not quite so many major celebrities dying. But a total world change with the UK pulling out of the EU, or at least starting to, and President-Elect DT living up to his campaign promises, even though he’s already gone back on several.

A line from the voice-over from Torchwood keeps going through my mind. “The 21st Century is when it all changes.” And maybe we’re already a decade and a half into it, but it is still true. I just wish that what voiceover meant (aliens) was what we were actually dealing with.

Instead, there are shades of The Nazi Party and WWII. Borders slamming shut to the those who need help. The definite ‘smell’ of WWIII in the air, if not actually in progress.

So what are my goals for 2017?

  • Write more
  • Knit more
  • Exercise more
  • Get our house to the state we want it to be
  • Crochet more
  • Sell more
  • Survive

So nothing exactly quantifiable. Or with a completion date.

But definitely achievable.

I Am Angry

I am not blaming the people who are tired of same old same old and voted directly for Trump. I get it. I do. I don’t agree. But I can understand where you’re coming from.

I am blaming all of the people who said ‘HRC is worse than DT’ and split the vote.

You have allowed a racist, bigoted, misogynistic, asshole of the highest order become the President of the United States. You handed him the election.

::slow clap::

Well done. Assholes.

And fuck you all to hell.

(Feature image via Women Against UKIP )

I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

So, this happened today:

pass cert

I received my first one of these 30 years ago, at age 17, in the United States. The Connecticut written was a bitch and a half and I was one wrong answer from failing. But I made it through to the driving portion of the test.

And the driving section? All right turns. No manoeuvres. I drove around the fucking block. No kidding. All those hours of parallel parking practice. Gone to waste.

So in late 2014 I spoke to my mom, knowing we were going to be in California summer ’15, and asked if she and step-dad would pay for me to take driving lessons here in Belfast and take the test and so on. And she agreed, eager to have me independently mobile while we were there.

So I applied for my Provisional License and was granted that. And called Abba Driving school as I had seen them around my area quite a lot and how cool is their name? The nice lady took my name, my payment info and told me someone would contact me soon.

It was sometime in late November or December of that year and I didn’t expect to hear until after the holidays. Instead just a few hours later I had my first contact from John, aka Mr Patient. And so we began.

From the beginning John agreed I knew how to drive. I just needed to practice driving on the left and roundabouts. Oh My Lord roundabouts. We’ll get back to those…

In any case, I practised. And studied for my theory. And practised some more.

In March John said I was certainly getting close to being able to take my practical and should book my theory. So I did. And studied some more. And passed that with flying colours. Phew. First hurdle passed!

But California was drawing nearer and times to take the test were getting harder to get (thanks to bad staffing levels, that was fixed later by the DVA), so John told me to book my practical. I was ready. There was no reason I wouldn’t pass.

Famous last words.

My first go, I was apparently too close to the left. John was in the car for that one and he thought the guy was a hard ass. Based on some comments he made, I think he flunked me due to being American.

So I didn’t have my license for California. There was no time to practice more and book another test before we went.

So I booked my second test. And totally blew a roundabout. Roundabouts are evil. Buy some fucking traffic lights like normal people have! And you drive on the wrong side of the fucking road!

So I booked my third test. And totally blew a roundabout.  Roundabouts are evil. Buy some fucking traffic lights like normal people have! And you drive on the wrong side of the fucking road!

Thanks. Had to get that out one more time. 😀

So I booked my fourth test. And nearly hit a car that was parked too far out into the road after I had absolutely passed the rest. It was so bad the examiner actually grabbed the wheel and put his brakes on. That’s bad.

So I took a deep breath and booked another.

And today, 4th April 2016, after 16 months of lessons and 5 tries, I passed. I aced it, actually. Only 5 minor faults (you’re allowed 16) and smooth sailing all the way!

And I never have to do that again. Thank fuck.

But I didn’t do it alone:

First and foremost, thanks to Shelly and Burt Kagen, my mom and step-dad for their financial support. We couldn’t afford one set of lessons and one test, let alone nearly a year and half of the same. And for their confidence that I would get it. I did it!!!

OCardf course, thanks to my husband and son, who had so much confidence in me that they bought and signed this over a year ago.

There was a box of chocolates as well, but those were eaten for comfort after the first fail. 😀

Without their unwavering support, always, I would have given up ages ago. I came home crying from failing more than once, certain I’d never get it.

Every time my tears were dried and hugs were given and encouragement to try try again.

 

And finally, there’s John McGibbon, Mr Patient himself. (He even used to have a Mr Patient, with a Mr Man character picture, magnet on his car, but they made him take it down for copyright reasons.) John’s cool demeanour, unwavering confidence in me and excellent instruction are 100% what got me here today. He took this cocky American driver and turned her into an even better driver than she already was. And I was pretty damn good. 😀

So thanks John. Like I said today, if you’re still teaching in about 10 years? You can teach my Adam how to drive!