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Monthly Archives: February 2017

Reflections…Week Eight

canstockphoto8630797Time to sort out my computer files, backup and clear out.

All I want to do now is clear off.

I have been slowly building my website, and now I feel that it is time to place my artwork onto it, hence the need to sort out my files. And boy do they need sorting!

Somewhere over the years, copies have been made as backups, and then the same copies have been made again, under a different folder name. Photos, and I take a lot of photos, have multiple duplicates,  the early artwork, well, I have yet to find those photographs. I have come to the conclusion that this is going to take days, thankfully the journey into digital photography for art subjects started in 2013, but I am not only sorting. For some inexplicable reason my brain thought it would be a good idea to catalogue them into sub headings as well. I will sub – subsection them later, this will be especially helpful for rocks and trees – big, small, bare etc, etc…

Having had a laptop fail before, my data is on external hard drives, several in fact, these too have there own purpose, one large one for all, and some smaller ones that are more portable and dedicated to a specific storage, photos, music and alike. They are also formatted to windows, to ‘pair’ to my old dis-functional laptop, that always wants to do an update for half an hour, each time I switch it on. I am now on an apple computer, the two don’t mix.

It was supposed to go like this:-

  • Update the computer, wait, have a cup of tea.
  • Clear all available space on the laptop, slowly.
  • Transfer data from the external hard drives to the computer, again slowly.
  • Transfer from the computer to the mac. By this time you should have worked out that this is slowly.
  • Clear all available space on the laptop.
  • Transfer data from the external hard drives to the computer, repeat the process until all data transferred.
  • Reformat the drive to work with the mac.
  • Sort out on the mac.

However…

The data on the large drive exceeded the capacity of my available storage.

What to do?

I could not afford another drive and the value of my nectar points reach only half of the cost.

Cloud drives, I could get some space for free, just for signing up to a couple of things, sorted.

  • Uploading to the cloud is slow! well it is with my laptop.

Enough space yay!

Now whats gone where?

And why didn’t I use a pen and paper to keep track?

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Reflections…Week Seven

Positive blogs, humorous if possible, has been the goal for the blogs that get published.

This week was to be about the assertiveness course I attended on thursday, but my son, on one of his bi-monthly sleepovers, is trying to cope with a death, not in the family but of one of his school friends mother, she was known to my son as she also worked at the school. So this is primarily on my mind.

Myself and my ex don’t agree on a lot of things  and this covers one of those areas. Boys don’t cry, or rather Big boys don’t cry. I’m in therapy, partially due to locking away emotions, trying to be the Big boy, so naturally have a different view.

The confusion, pain and loss on a mind that does not yet comprehend the cycle of life, death is something to get up from and retry in play, has been evident all day. Subtly I have been letting him know a cuddle is always there and tears with  daddy are ok. It is an ongoing reassurance that he can talk openly about anything and ask any questions he wants. If there are areas that have differing views I try to express that, at least a courteous acknowledgement to that fact. It took all day before he could talk about it and I was honest in my reply.

I too have a first memory of a death, although I was a year or two older. The death was that of my Grandfather and it hit me harder than anyone was expecting. I recalled to him that I can still remember the feelings of confusion, sadness, loss, of not understanding what adults where saying, of not knowing what to do with the feelings that where new to me, how to react. Tears came to my eyes as they always do with this particular memory, I didn’t hide them from him. I wiped them away whilst telling him that different people react differently to the same situation but I have learnt now, that talking about ones feelings helps, and crying is ok.

All I can do is let him know I am here for him, for a talk, a hug or just a shoulder to cry on.

My sympathies go out to his friend for the loss of his Mother.

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Reflections…Week Six

Try something new, it’s good for the brain.

That is what I have been told many a time, so when the opportunity to do a one day course came along on a day and time one could do, one did. Team Building. To make this more interesting, one was going alone.

Not knowing who was going, nor how many, put my system to into a panic. However, having been to the building several times before, and being in a larger size group in the room gave some calm to my mind. The room is quite spacious and even at capacity  still feels like there is plenty of space to escape. Toilet facility and door sitings, the primary locations to look for in a new building, are known, and it has noting to do with Feng Shui.

The morning arrived, my stomach churned for hours before I made my way to the course, I nearly backed out, it would be easy to do. Truth be told, with it being run for people with mental health problems, it’s kind of expected, and what do I need with team building? Every ‘team’ I have been on, and it’s not many, have been dysfunctional at best and at worst…a bunch of individuals clumped together. Solitary, shy and introverted by nature, oh and antisocial now, thats me. Not the abusive neighbour or troublesome element of a neighbourhood, more the “he just kept himself to himself officer”, “such a lovely man” kind of person. Heck I have even been called antisocial on social sites due to my non interaction. Do I really want to build teams?

The course was run by a lovely young lady, genuinely enthusiastic, warm and welcoming. I was first to arrive, promptly choosing a seat furthest from the door facing, toward it. Two more came in and sat on the table in front, then Three came in together, two of whom I recognised, and sat at the first table. This is pretty representative of my social life, not in the ‘clic’, not on the fringes, just about in the room.  Sometimes there are others, each circling the outer edges, occasionally bumping into one another, or into a group, jostling for a little while, then resuming the orbital path.

It was suggested that since a couple where know, I should sit with the first table, at least until the others arrived. Two more made Eight. Moved again, I joined three strangers on the second table. I was not looking forward to this.

Quite quickly it became apparent that this table was the table with the extrovert, bad enough, but he had an enabler, someone to feed his id, now I really started to question why I was there. I cannot speak for the fourth in the group, but his demeanour was that of a quiet reflect-full man also on his own, we were outnumbered.

Exercises to build ‘team spirit’ where a runaway, I have never been able to be heard against an extrovert. They run, I walk, if not sit. My ideas get drowned out by the enthusiasm extroverts create around them selves, at a certain point that energy is a repellant and I quietly drift back to the edge. This time however I was noticed, only by the course runner, but I will still take the notice, my ideas where heard and hints to the group were given, they were not heard though, the train had left the station and the passengers were chasing behind it.

The pattern repeated itself with each tasks, same old same old. Hints by the course runner could not have been more obvious to include, nay, listen to, the quiet ones, only to get squatted away like an annoying fly. I did things that I found uncomfortable, at one point I swear I was glowing with embarrassment. But I plodded along, right until the last task. A daft little task but my geek came out and it wanted to be heard.

Build a structure out of marshmallows and dried spaghetti, the tallest to stand on its own for thirty seconds wins.

What was being built lacked structural integrity, strength and geometry. I drew out a stronger design on paper, it was ignored, I tried to explain the reason why the structure being built would fail, it was ignored, or how I spoke was not understood, same result either way.  I then went as far as an engineering example of what I was saying, and with the help of the course runner I was finally heard. Then ignored again. Having seen the strength in what I was saying, the extrovert upgraded his design, but he didn’t need the bits he did not understand, so I was ignored. I got stuck in this time and did the structural cross-members and support beams whilst arguing the point of having a solid base. It was not easy, but each success was seen and copied on the other sides. We became an ‘awkward first date’ team, stumbling along but managing; just.

I have, in my past, helped to break in a horse, and I had the bruises and cuts to prove it, for days after I ached. This was comparable.

Time was called and the structure stood firm-ish, the top layer had not been finished so it twisted around on itself  but it stood up. We won.  The course runner gave tips, the biggest for me was that I gave up to easy when I had the best idea, because I had the best knowledge on the subject. “You just need to boost my confidence in yourself” she said “and fight to be heard longer”.

The course next week …Assertiveness.

With the biggest class she has ever had!

Someone somewhere is takin the ….

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Reflections… Week Five

What is it that makes us want to sing? It can’t be just pure emotions, to have the music lost would mean one was emotionless, that would be more positive than being stuck in the negative. So being stuck in the negative emotions means that one feels emotions, but the music is lost.

The reason that this has become an issue is due to joining a music therapy type group, with the aim of keeping my finger joints loose and learning to play an instrument, with the added benefit of noise exposure. Ten cats fighting in a tin room is what karioke sounds like to me.

Its not the fact I cannot play a tune, I am realistic in my expectations, its the fact I cannot hear a note, I am not tone deaf, I hear each part of the note not the whole. Let me try to explain, If an instrument has 3 strings and is in the key of D, all three are strummed to make the D note. For this example the strings are D,a,d. My brain, as awkward as it is of late, is hearing me play D,a,d and not the note D, no matter how fast I strum. Unless I play the instrument through an amplifier that is facing me, then I hear the note of D.

So play through an amplifier all the time then! I play like a beginner, definitely not something that you would want to make louder.

What does this have to do with the opening question?

Well there may be a connection. I do not have any desire to sing, I have not, on reflection, for a very long time. I listen to music, but nowadays it is part of a coping mechanism to control my audio stimulation, I do not sing along, even in the car, a non fiction audio book is preferred. Tunes, even annoying ones, are quickly forgotten once no longer heard, they don’t get “stuck”, annoying when trying to learn a song to play.

The playing of an instrument is as much a tool as it is the desire to one day play by an open fire at a campsite. In writing this I now know I have a desire, Progress.  So , I have desire and emotion but music is lost.

Where does the music go? I had it before the “breakdown”, never public scince choir; a mandatory position, as I was bass, and loud.  I play alone, so nerves are ruled out. Its not heart because I’m not heartless. So am I over analysing things, getting stuck in the anilitical process?

Am I having a thechnical Fault?

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/reflections-2017

Apedale Country Park

fullsizeoutput_19fWhen the rain has been coming down all week and we want to go out in the woods to walk, this park hits the mark. White, well they used to be white, gravel paths lead you on an excursion around the park for the most part, tuning to tarmac from the second carpark onwards, whilst more natural mud paths lead inwards; more of a summer walk.

We start, as always, at the carpark by the heritage centre, where a drink can be had at the cafe and the toilets are a welcome relief, even more so as the entire operation is run by volunteers. Events are held throughout the year, the train ride, albeit a small one is a favourite for my niece, with carriages that alter to accommodate wheelchairs. There is something about steam trains, even the light railway ones, that hold a place in our hearts, and no, I am not a train spotter.

There are tours down a mine, but I have as yet to take one, nor have I visited the Museum. I think that will be a trip when my son asks. As for now, Spot and myself have spent many an hour wandering around, what was, a colliery site. The site has woodland, meadows and pools, with large sections fenced off, creating wildlife sanctuaries for many types of animals and birds.

Parts are wheelchair friendly and parts are not, some most defiantly not. But if you are a bit creative and park away from the centre, the road into the park itself can become a walk with wheelchairs, and the road is lined with plenty of places for an interaction with nature, nearly ending with the cafe and station. Nearly ending? It may be possible to go a little further as there is a little pool and garden that are just past the station. A disability day is organised yearly on this part of the grounds, or at least for the last couple of years to my knowledge, and they hope to continue, funding withstanding.

So if you fancy a 4.5+ mile walk, on solid (for the most part) paths that will leave you mudded but not covered and a little out of breath, then this could be a park for you. Respect the dogs on leads rule and our four legged friends will be able to continue to enjoy the park for years to come.

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/newcastle-under-lyme-parks

Peek-a-boo

fullsizeoutput_12fSome times you start a new hobby and the first month is the most intense, only to start wavering when it did not pan out how you imagined. My first month has passed and I have spent an hour on doing it, but several prepping for it, I bought secondhand, so there has been cleaning to do.

My hobby…Astronomy, with telescopes.

What have I seen through them? Clouds, lots and lots of clouds, with the occasional glimpse of the night sky.

When I was a wee nipper, I had a telescope, only a cheep one, nothing fancy. I also remember how disappointing it was, I could see the moon and that was about it. As a sci-fi fan, that started about the same age, I wanted to look up and spot the UFO’s, Mars, Saturn and Venus, the things that were on the films, and the only thing that I could see was the moon and not much detail at that.

That telescope sat for years on top of a shelf, Unused. I think it went to a car boot sale in the end. My eyes however always wandered the sky, especially when on holiday where there are infinitesimally more. Nothing more than a couple of constellations were leant though.

So what bought back the urge to start looking up again? An old Sky at Night video with Sir Patrick Moore. Took me right back to my childhood.

After a couple of weeks research I decided on a size and type along with a budget. Ebay was scanned, and a bargain was gotten. Only when I got it home the bargain was…Not so much.

I bought a 130mm diameter reflector and travelled a 100 miles, in total, to fetch it. Not having one before it looked BIG, and the info sticker was not on it. But having downloaded the manual, which covered a few models, it started to look wrong. Upon measuring it is the 114mm model. Emails back and forth a partial refund was had. When I resell it I will get my money back and it is still bigger than my 76mm table top reflector I bought from my brother in law, to use with my son, and get two compatible lenses. I will have a better idea on what my next size will be with using both.

On the walks with Spot, the moon has been shining down, including a full moon and the stars have been bright the week either side of the New Moon. I get back home eager to find out if I have set up the telescopes correctly only to stare out of the window at mist, rain and clouds. It is as if someone has access to a weather switch and is winding me up.

And so my first month…Peek-a-boo with the moon.

www.awanderthroughthemind.co.uk/astronomy