Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Exciting times.....

Three weeks ago, on New Year's Eve I had an exciting delivery.....

Whoooaaaa....  That's a BIG box!
I'd already been busy all that morning, clearing a space by the window.

So at midday, I opened the box....

.... and perused the instruction booklet.

According to the diagram I only needed three tools.... flat head screwdriver, Philips screwdriver and a hammer.

Further perusal of the instructions proved additional information related to the assembly procedure.  Apparently it was impossible to do single-handed.  

Pshaw, pish and tush......  How difficult could it be?

Also it would unaccountably break if not assembled on a rug, and if the instructions proved to tricky a call to IKEA would resolve any issues.

As a veteran of many, many flat pack builds, of varying degrees of complexity, I felt fairly certain that I'd be able to cope with a simple table.  *insert unjustified confidence here*

Let battle commence.

So..... only 113 fixings and components, plus a bolt screwer and 2 different sizes of Allen keys.


That's a LOT of assorted screws, bolts, fixings and widgets in a mind-boggling variety of different sizes and configurations.

Still....it's only a table.  How hard could it be?

Thankfully, the drop leaves were already hinged onto the table top which was a blessing as that was the bit I'd been looking forward to least.  Having fitted hinged doors onto many dozens of doll's houses over the past 35 years I am only too aware of how tricky the little buggers are to get right.

The underside of the table, with the sliding drop-leaf supports went together well, if not exactly speedily.  Our electric screwdriver would have make it a lot easier, if it hadn't been dead as a doornail,  requiring a minimum 6-hour charge.

Two hours in and I was seriously flagging, which may have accounted for the slight contretemps with the legs, which took me three attempts to get right, and led to an inevitable deterioration in my already colourful language.  Who knew there were so may different ways to get four table legs wrong?

Finally, after four hours (FOUR HOURS!) most of the assembly was done, and on the edge of exhaustion I enlisted the help of PP to get the table upright.

Next for the drawer, which although it looked simple, was anything but.  Every time I got the base slotted into the sides, ready to screw in place, one side would pop out and I'd be back to square one.

I was absolutely knackered by that point, but was desperate to get the construction completed, so I persevered until finally by a combination of brute strength and ignorance, I managed to get all four sides, and the base in the correct positions for long enough to whack in a couple of screws.

Although I was done (in) for the day, I still had some stuff to do.  I wanted to decorate the drawer front, and replace the boring, black metal knob with something more 'zingy'.

Which accounts for the hiatus of the past three weeks as I found the right knob and waited for it to be delivered.

So finally, here it is in all it's glory.... my completed table.  

I used a piece of the paper leftover from my desk bureau to decorate the front of the drawer.

I eventually managed to find a smaller drawer knob, similar to the ones on my bureau, which neatly continued the theme.

With both leaves 'up' the workspace is doubled! 

Soooo......all ready for my new venture *taps side of nose in a hopefully not at all creepily suggestive way* 

Monday, 20 January 2020

Spoon Theory.....


Things were going swimmingly.

Over the past two weeks I've been reasonably productive and really felt I was making progress.  My plan of working solidly through January/February to mitigate against the worst effects of the winter months was going well.

Until Friday morning, when I suddenly came down with some sort of viral winter bug-type thing.  Feeling really ill, shivery, aching all over.... even my hair hurt.  No energy at all and generally just *bleargh*.
Friday evening, just to liven things up a tad, I suddenly formed a deep, abiding connection with our shower room toilet, as the gates of hell opened.

I'll spare you the gory details but I've lost 5lbs in 3 days.

Saturday and Sunday were a bit of a blur.  I managed a few slices of toast and mostly lay on the sofa in the lounge, dozing on and off.

This morning, I'm feeling a bit better.  My toilet dashes have subsided and I'm more or less fully conscious and in a lot less pain.

However, I've been here many times before and know that this stage of recovery is the most deceptively dangerous.

Most people with MS, or any chronic condition which causes severe fatigue/pain, will be aware of Spoon Theory.  If you've never heard of it, think yourself lucky, as you're most likely disgustingly healthy and have no need of it.  

In a nutshell, Spoon Theory is a useful analogy to explain how people who have long-term chronic fatigue or pain adapt their lives to keep symptoms more manageable.

Wikipedia describes it thus:

"Spoons are a visual representation used as a unit of measure in order to quantify how much energy a person has throughout a given day. Each activity requires a given number of spoons, which will only be replaced as the person "recharges" through rest. A person who runs out of spoons has no choice but to rest until their spoons are replenished.

This metaphor is used to describe the planning that many people have to do to conserve and ration their energy reserves to accomplish their activities of daily living. The planning and rationing of energy-consuming tasks has been described as being a major concern of those with chronic and fatigue-related diseases, illness, or conditions. The theory explains the difference between those who don't seem to have energy limits and those that do. The theory is used to facilitate discussions between those with limited energy reserves and those without. Because healthy people typically are not concerned with the energy expended during ordinary tasks such as bathing and getting dressed, the theory helps healthy people realise the amount of energy expended by chronically ill or disabled people to get through the day."

Even on a 'good day' I can run out of spoons, generally by being too cavalier and over-optimistic about my 'spoonage'.
Being stressed, ill, or having any sort of viral/bacterial infection plays merry hell with my spoons, to the extent that I can often START the day completely spoon free.

Today is one of those days.  

The limit of my ambition is to write this blog post, then do some online 'research' under the gentle auspices of Pinterest. 
I know better than to even set foot in the workroom.... that way lies tears and frustration. 
I have orders to sort out, casting to complete and no end of stuff on my To Do lists, but I'm all out of spoons so that will all have to wait.

If I'm really careful today, hopefully, tomorrow, I will no longer be in total spoon deficit although I will still have to remain vigilant.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Monday, Monday......

Way back in 1966, The Mamas and The Papas sang a very prescient song which featured these lyrics....

Every other day, every other day
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah.
But whenever Monday comes - but whenever Monday comes
You can find me crying all of the time.
Monday, Monday, can't trust that day;
Monday Monday it just turns out that way.
Oh Monday, Monday, won't go away;
Monday, Monday, it's here to stay.

Mondays in general have a bit of a bad reputation, but the first working Monday of a New Year, after the prolonged period of festivity, is a particular doozer.  However, following my planning session yesterday, I approached this Monday morning with less trepidation than usual, clutching my chunking schedule to my chest, like a talisman.

I was well aware that my 4 x 1  1/2 hour sessions were somewhat optimistic, especially as the workroom was in a more than usual state of disarray so I had to spend a fair chunk of time clearing a space in which to work, and relocating the detritus of the past few weeks.

That done, I decided to start off with a casting session, the first since last summer.  Predictably, my tub of porcelain slip, having sat, undisturbed, in a cupboard for six months, had settled into a semi-solid state.  This is not unusual, but as the tub was only quarter full, I took the decision to break open a new box of slip and merge it with the congealed slip, a lengthy and time consuming process, never lightly undertaken.

After sieving the old slip into a bowl and returning it to a liquid state, I had to thoroughly clean out the empty plastic tub, a messy task which afterwards rendered my scouring pad sponge fit only for the bin.

That done, and with slip up to my elbows, I turned my attention to the box of new slip, which contained a heavy duty, vacuum-sealed polythene bag, which needed to be pummelled into submission to remove any lumps.

There is something strangely cathartic and comforting about punching the living daylights out of a bag of slip.  I set about the task with vim and vigour, releasing a goodly amount of accumulated, pent-up stress and frustration in the process.

Having subdued the new slip, it was then relatively easy to sieve it into two large bowls, at which point I belatedly wondered if all of the old and new slip would fit back into the gallon tub.  There did seem to be an awful lot of it.

Eventually, having decanted as much as I could into the tub, I was left with half a jug of slip, which I was confident would be enough for a casting session, given that I was only casting a few molds for very small toy dolls.  Thankfully, in this instance at least, my confidence was rewarded and there was almost exactly enough, with just a few millilitres left over.

However, all of this sent my chunking schedule out of whack, and it was a real scramble to complete another one, which meant that my final two chunks had to be punted.

Lessons learnt...?  

  • Some tasks just can't be achieved in a 90 minute chunk
  • Preparation time has to be a separate task
  • I have to be more conscious of the limitations of my MS-related pain and fatigue
  • I shouldn't beat myself up over not achieving all I set out to do
After all.... tomorrow is another day *sigh*

Sunday, 5 January 2020


In order to avoid a vertical plunge back into work after the festive break, I've spent time today doing work-ish things, the first of which was to call an extraordinary meeting of my management team at 12.30pm sharp.

Reaction to this news was tepid, to say the least.  Even with the prospect of tea and leftover Christmas biscuits.

During the morning I knocked together an agenda, a copy of which was distributed to each member of the team for perusal prior to the meeting.

Despite having retired a few years ago, Small Dog still likes to keep her paw on the pulse, so attended in her capacity as 'seenyore advyssir' and boney fido sleeping partner.

We quickly rattled through the first few items of business then settled down to hashing out the thorny issue of the website and related articles.

To be fair, we did cover a fair amount of ground.  Notes were taken, suggestions made, and tasks allocated, all in a reasonably efficient manner.  Small Dog interjected a few times, mainly on the subject of biscuits, but overall her contributions were insightful and concise.

More to the point, she didn't raise the issue of 'Dog Eared Dolls' once.

As a result I'm reasonably confident that my first full day back at work tomorrow will go swimmingly, especially as I'm chunking.

And no, before you ask.... that has nothing to do with the accumulation of excess weight over the past few weeks.

Although also yes.

No, I'm talking about time chunking, the premise of which is breaking up your day into larger chunks instead of reacting to constant interruptions. The more chunks of time you can devote to specific tasks, the fewer start-up moments you will have, and your efficiency improves commensurately.

Sounds eminently reasonable and sensible, doesn't it?  I'm going to start with 90 minute chunks and see how that pans out.  I've written myself a chunking schedule for the next five days and will re-assess things at the end of the week.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Happy New Year.....!

Regular blog readers will know that January and February are my two least favourite months of the year. This weekend in particular hits a specific nadir, as I've just spent several hours removing all traces of Christmas from our house.

Gone is the tree, resplendent with hundreds of sparkling white lights.  
Gone too is the mantelpiece garland, festooned with lights.
There is no trace of the greenery swags down the staircase, with their interwoven lights... although there is a trail of glitter all down the stairs which I can't quite bring myself to hoover up.

The little bird-decorated tree in the dining room has been packed away, and all the other decorations from throughout the house have been carefully wrapped and stored in boxes for another year.

Despite still having a variety of fairy lights in the sitting room, it still feels rather gloomy and the prospect of the worst of the winter still in waiting isn't helping with my January blues.

However, from tomorrow I aim to hit the ground running and get back to work so perhaps if I just keep my head down and focus, it will be spring before I know it......