Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Final Countdown

Well, things are moving on.  I am now in my last month of notice period, my last day as a full-time employed person being 31st August 2012, a day that will definitely go down in the annals of my personal history although in what context is yet to be decided.
It may be remembered as my last day as a solvent person.  On the other hand I may look back fondly on my currently gibbering self and wish I could pat me gently on the back and whisper soothing words of reassurance.
The latest new is that I'm not sure whether to be pleased or appalled that my employers and I have come to an agreement which allows for my continuing involvement with the company, albeit not as an employee.

Gone is the (admittedly pretty pointless, given the state of pensions generally) company-paid pension scheme.  Gone are the paid holidays and the long service days (and I'd just earned my third, too, as I completed 15 years of service in June).  In their place will be self-employment on a monthly retainer, plus an hourly rate for any hours worked during the month in excess of 10.  I will be reimbursed petrol and accommodation for any visits.  They are also lending me a Blackberry, so that I can be contacted when not at my desk (which will be the vast majority of the time).

The cowardly, scaredy-cat wimp part of me is thrilled that I will at least be able to continue paying towards the household bills and the mortgage.  The part of me that summoned up the courage to start this whole change in motion is sneering at me undisguisedly.  What a wuss.  Not only am I not escaping the job and attendant stresses that brought me to this pass, but I will not even be safe when out and about, with a ticking Blackberry in my pocket.
Ah, but there's the difference - I can be out and about, I will not be attached to my desk by duty when the sun is shining and the gulls are calling me out to play on the beach.
There will be advantages and there will be disadvantages.  I will need to rejoice over one and come to terms with the other, as with most things in life.

I keep reminding myself that the important things is that things are changing, and that I had the courage to change them.  Now I have to find some more courage to deal with that.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

A disappointed toe

I am always full of plans, which delight me and make me look forward to when I am actually going to put them into action, and give me a warm glow as to how happy I'm going to be when they come to fruition.  Of course I rarely if ever carry any of them through, which probably explains why I am so moribund and rut-bound.

The two main reasons/excuses are lack of time and lack of confidence.  Of course I wouldn't need the confidence if I wasn't so ready to beat myself up for being useless when anything I try doesn't work perfectly first time.  Anne Lamott (one of my favourite writers when she's not writing fiction) says in her wonderful book on writing "Bird by Bird" that "Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people.  It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and" (insert whatever it is you want to achieve here).  Lord, but the woman is right.

Recently I've made a couple of moves towards actually carrying through on projects I've been planning.  One has worked and one has not.  The one that has not involved listing some of my crocheted blankets on eBay.  Pricing them was difficult.  I am not a fast worker, and of course having a full-time job which also tends to eat into my evenings and weekends means that a large blanket can take weeks or sometimes even months to complete.  So any idea of costing an hourly rate into the asking price is laughable.  I'd have to ask hundreds, even at minimum wage.  So what I did was to work out how much the yarn cost, then sort of add some on to make a number which I hoped wasn't too scary.  I also bore in mind advice that I've read from someone who makes part of her living on Etsy, that under-pricing your work does you no favours, nor is it helpful to other hand-made goods sellers, who need to make something from their labours.  So although the prices I set would probably have amounted to less than 50p per hour for labour, I made sure that my blankets weren't going to sell for peanuts.

They didn't sell at all.  Not one of them, not even the one that I was only asking £5 for, and which took me a week of evenings to make.

I am trying hard to believe that eBay is not the right marketplace for my work.  I will think about Etsy.  Luckily I like these blankets very much, so I am not writing them and myself off as rubbish and I am not deeply downhearted.  I would have been thrilled to sell even one item, but I am not crushed that it didn't happen. I dipped my toe and gained nothing, but on the bright side I've lost nothing either.

The project that did work happened today, and involved taking two useless items and making from them one very useful thing.  It's also something I've been meaning to do for weeks - nay, months - as is my wont.

I had a synthetic fleece mattress cover, double sized, which quite clearly said "DO NOT TUMBLE DRY" on the label.  I didn't notice, and tumbled it, and the non-fleece part that was fitted to wrap around the mattress and hold it in place, melted and shredded, rendering the whole less than useful.  I also upgraded from double to king-size, so my snuggly fleece was looking the local recycling skip squarely in the eye.

I also have a king-size fitted undersheet, that repeated washings and tumblings has rendered bobbly and uncomfortable.  In a fit of inspiration, I decided to sew the fleece part of my mattress topper to the fitted sheet, thus making one useful item out of two that were otherwise destined for the bin.

I decided this months ago, and looked forward to working this little bit of recycling magic, for weeks on end.  It never occurred to me to actually DO it, no, this was a project to savour, and I did.

Then yesterday my cat decided to try to rip off the skin surrounding his eyes with his back claws, and came bounding into the living room with blood running down his face.  When I had wiped it off and stopped trembling, I called the vet and got an appointment for an hour hence.  My cat didn't seem troubled by his disfigurement, but I was traumatised and bizarrely energised and could not sit down for the life of me.  I seized the old sheet and fleece, fitted the one onto my bed and pinned the other to it.  That filled the wait for the vet's appointment, but of course it left me with a pin-riddled item that was a danger in a house with three cats.  So today I had to do the actual sewing.  I knew it wouldn't be perfect.  I knew it might not work, but I got a bit cross with those thoughts and decided to hang it all and do it anyway, and if it was rubbish then the bin was still an option and nothing lost.  It was scary (Husband can't understand that, but then he's quite practical compared with me) and I had a couple of incidents with the bobbin yarn snapping and not being able to find enough white cotton (so the cotton's white underneath and unpleasant beige on top).  I've not used a sewing machine for several decades and I find that it is very little like riding a bike.
My boy Moo, before the self-mutilation incident, napping happily in a position that most cats can't even achieve, let alone enjoy.  He is not your standard model.

But that is all immaterial.  I did it.  I was right, it isn't perfect.  But it's good enough, and miraculously one of my projects has actually happened, rather than just being something to think about comfortably as I drift off to sleep.  And do you know, I couldn't be more chuffed.  Well possibly I could, if I'd sold a blanket or two.  But that aside, I'm pretty damned pleased.  I may try it again sometime soon!

My cat Moo is apparently allergic to something, according to the vet.  This information plus 2 injections cost me over £70.  But if that stops him poking out his own eyes it's money well spent.

Quite an eventful weekend, overall.

Monday, 18 June 2012

In the picture

Warning - very bad photographs are gratuitously scattered through this blog post.

At last I have a functioning digital camera again, albeit a very basic model.  I'm not complaining - it was free, thanks to Freegle, and I even got 10% off when I ordered a memory card for it.  So for the princely sum of £4.49 I am again able to publish photographs to this blog.
A swan.  I was actually quite close to it, but the camera helpfully adds distance.

Which is my lame excuse for how long it's been since I posted.  When I wrote a blog a couple of years ago, it was all words.  I didn't have a camera and didn't feel the lack.  But these days a blog post without any images looks and feels a little dry, so having posted once with only words I didn't want to do it again straight away.  Consequently it's been a while and I have a few things to tell.

This is the best picture by far that I have taken with the new camera to date.  Admittedly I managed to chop the top off the very nice belltower, and include someone's backside bottom right, but at least you can tell it's the right way up and what it is.

The table-top sale was several weeks ago now, and I am gutted that I couldn't take a photo of my table, because I was quite pleased with it.  I didn't sell much, so obviously my efforts at artistry didn't impress anyone, but they lifted my spirits and that's the important thing.

Amongst other things, I sold 600 grammes of superfluous yarn, which astonished my mother because she is firmly of the opinion that there is a one-way valve between me and the entire yarn stock of the world.  I do have a fair bit, it's true, and to be honest 600 grammes is a bit drop-in-the-ocean-ish, but it is a start and does at least prove that I am not totally obsessed with the stuff.

The money I took wouldn't keep me in groceries for a week, but the most interesting outcome of the morning is that one of the other stallholders is also a crocheter who runs a small haberdashery shop a few miles from my home.  We have very different styles.  She uses mainly natural fibres in neutral, classical colours, whereas I use almost exclusively acrylic yarn, having found a brand that is soft, reasonably priced and which comes in rather more than a rainbow of wonderful colours - Stylecraft Special DK.  She makes mainly small items such as hats, headbands and flower brooches, whereas I have a penchant for making blankets and baby/toddler clothes.  So although we both crochet, we produce very different items.  She suggested that we could probably come to an arrangement whereby she could sell my stuff in her shop for a share of the proceeds.
This is what I was crocheting when I met the haberdashery shop lady.  It's my adapation of the Mount Vernon Throw square.  I will be blogging further about this square, which I reckon is a corker.

I was pleased by this, but didn't get quite as excited as I probably should have done, mainly because I suspect she'll want quite a big percentage, and partly because I'm a bit of an old cynic these days and tend not to allow myself to rejoice before the good news event has actually happened.  So far I have visited her shop twice, but each time she's not been there, so I'm still not too excited!

But I have started making preparations.  I've been crocheting more stuff that I hope will sell, and I've bought some card to start making tags to hang off my things, giving care advice as well as price and dimensions.  I'm thinking of using my dad's old sit up and beg typewriter, to give the tags a vintage air, but I'm not totally decided yet.  Decisions, decisions.  Not my strong point as anyone who knows me will attest.

It was my birthday earlier this month, and Husband took the day off work so we could spend it together.  Unsurprisingly it rained quite a lot of the time, and we sheltered under the eaves of a chip shop eating our lunch out of paper with wooden forks, which wasn't quite the picnic I'd had in mind when the day was in the planning stages.  It brightened up enough to let us take a stroll alongside the body of water that runs through part of residential Emsworth.  I'm not sure whether it's a river, a long thin pond, a canal or maybe even a bit of the sea that stretches inland a way, but it's very pretty with lots of waterbirds and colourful cottages. 

My notice period is ticking away, and there are rumours that several interviews are to be held the week after next, which is encouraging, because I was starting to think that my replacement would turn up the day I left and that wouldn't be good for anyone.  It's a complicated old job, which nobody but me knows how to do.  Recipe for disaster or what?

Although I'm not in a position to look for a new job yet I've been scanning newspapers and websites for local opportunities.  Far and away the most active sector is care - care of the elderly in their own homes, care of people in residential homes, care, care, care.  You could say that in this area we specialise in care of the vulnerable.

I've done this sort of thing before - a little, a long time ago.  I've wiped bottoms and washed genitals and neither hold any horror for me beyond the initial embarrassment of such intimacy with someone you barely know.  But that passes quickly, mainly because the person receiving the help has done so many, many times before and is long past embarrassment.  So that is an option.  I would prefer to be dedicated to one household rather than skipping from place to place - I think I would find it more rewarding to be able to build a personal relationship - dare I hope for friendship? - with someone rather that just nipping in for an hour each week to wash someone's hair and push a hoover round, then onto the next person.  We shall see.

Well, this blog entry has taken a couple of days to write, consequently Emsworth has now been re-visited and the new camera tested out.  Hmm.  It has its weaknesses, as you may already have noticed. 

A wonky road in Emsworth.  I don't remember that man being that short and fat, so perhaps it was the camera which bestowed these qualities upon him.  Being overburdened already in both these areas, I shall be taking care never to be on the wrong side of this camera.
The photos it takes are not terribly good quality and the view screen turns almost completely black at the first hint of any ambient light, so you can't actually see what you're taking a photo of, which is something of a drawback.  So you don't know what you're going to get until you download it to the pc, at which point you notice the lack of tops of things and the attractive bollards in the foreground.

See?  And I'm sure said bollard was not at that weird angle - neither was I, so I again have no choice but to blame the camera.
 My old camera had an ordinary viewfinder like a non-digital camera, as well as an electronic screen, and I tended to use the traditional one because I could see so much better through it.  I know I sound like I'm describing the proverbial gift horse, but I really do need to be able to take decent shots of my crochet if I am to stand any chance of selling online, so I'm not being picky for the sake of it.  I'll download a manual for the camera (the one that came with it is written in Spanish, a language which is completely Greek to me) and see whether there are any helpful settings I can try.  Otherwise I shall have to dig into the coffers, and the timing on that is not good.

Emsworth (revisited yesterday) was pretty and interesting and the weather was the best we've had for ages, so I'm glad we decided to go there again.  I'm sorry I don't do it justice with my photos, but I will try to do better in future.  Discussions with Sony re my old camera and its eventual fate continue, but I think it's probably for the bin.  Which is sad as it was a present from Husband and has not had a lot of use.  I do hate waste!

Emsworth being pretty.  You had to be there.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

No pictures, just words

My camera isn't right.  I took two pictures of my breakfast this morning - there was a reason, honestly - and neither of them made it into my camera's memory.  It's annoying, because I struggle with technology at the best of times, and this camera used to do all that I required of it.  But recently it's started on some sort of go-slow protest.  Unless the batteries are completely charged it won't work.

Like a good little greenie, I have a plethora of rechargeable batteries.  Well strictly speaking  I have a wooden box of rechargeable batteries, and under normal circumstances I would have inserted here a picture of the box, which my mother gave me as a tree present at Christmas.  But as soon as you store a charged battery, said charge starts to slowly leak away.  So I have been using non-rechargeables, much as it goes against the grain, because as mentioned, my camera will have no truck with anything less than perfection.

So my breakfast goes unrecorded, and those who don't like blog posts that aren't liberally illustrated will simply have to go elsewhere for the time being.

On other topics, I have at last tendered my written resignation to my boss, who still maintains that if we can just peel away the layers of my job that have grown over the years and stifled me, I may yet decide that my future lies with them.  Annoyingly, today has been the best day I have had, work-wise, for years. I feel empowered, invigorated, interested, invested, and all sorts of other positive words ending in "ed".  And just when I had decided that I was completely never going to want to do this job ever again and everything, ok?  Along with my camera, it is annoying. I am reminded of just how rewarding my job can be, but usually is so not.  My notice is three months long.  So much can change in that sort of time span.  I was determined.  Now I am dithering.  I will keep you posted.

Another subject - due to the amazing weather we've had the last couple of days, I have dug out the cropped jeans I lived in last year until incipient chilblains forced me into full-length denim.  I am chuffed to bits to report that I fit into them every bit as well as I did last year.  If I were to look at this from the glass-half-empty angle, I would be forced to confess that this means that I am no slimmer now than I was then, and considering that "obese" would be a step in the right direction, that is maybe not so great.  But I refuse to look at it that way.  Maintaining one's weight is, IMHO, more important than losing,  given that yo-yo-ing is more detrimental to one's health than overweight.  I would still like to be thinner though.

Another topic altogether - I have booked a table at a local table-top sale at the beginning of June.  I've not done one of those for years, so it will be interesting and I'll no doubt be reminded of how no-one is ever prepared to pay more than 50p for anything.  But I am looking forward to it, ever though my mother won't do it with me, being "overwhelmed with work".  At 84.  Good for her.  Perhaps I should apply to her for a job.

Maybe not.

Friday, 27 April 2012

The Here and Now

I am a very disorganised person.  I am also untidy, but I suspect that comes in part from being disorganised.  I have never developed a place for most of the things in my life.  I mean, I have a cutlery drawer, and an underwear drawer (although my undergarments often sit in the clean washing basket until worn again), but most of my possessions stay where they land, which is not ideal and really needs to change.

Take my crochet hook for example.  I have hundreds of the things, but only one that I use almost every day.  It is a satisfyingly red aluminium 4.5mm hook, and it is the exact right size for Stylecraft Special DK yarn, which I also use almost every day.

You will notice that it has a cork skewered onto the end.  This is because I lose the damn thing almost as often as I use it.  Now that it can't easily fall down the side of the sofa, or roll underneath it, or be picked up unnoticed in a large piece of crochet work, I lose it (and therefore swear) far less frequently.  Of course, it is the only 4.5mm hook I can find, despite having bought three complete sets over recent years, because I only caught on to the cork trick after at least two other hooks vanished into the ether, never to be found again.  Or at least, not until I rake some of my unfinished projects out from my home's various nooks and crannies.

My mother says that I have a grasshopper mind.  Which might go some way towards explaining how I can spend hour upon hour making a blanket, then find a photo of it on my camera a year or so later and wonder what it is!  After a few seconds staring at it vague bells started to ring at the back of my mind.  I sort of recall making it as a blankie for a toddler, when I fancied a shorter project than the 2 kingsize granny stripe blankets I had made in succession.  I also decide to do a colour repeat, to see whether I liked it.  The jury is still out on that.

I've seen worse, but it doesn't wow me.  The point is, though, that I've put it away somewhere and completely forgotten its existence.  It's not so bad that it deserves never to see the light of day again, and it's a waste of time, money and effort if it is never to be used.  This "losing" of things is not deliberate, it's my disorganisation again.  I need to come up with a strategy.  Actually, I need to declutter, because if I didn't have so much stuff, then so much of what I do own would not be out of sight behind newer stuff!  I dare not show you my bedroom.  In fact, I'd not dare show you any room in my house.  I'm not so bad that I'd set any records for filth on "How Clean is Your House", but House Beautiful it is not!

And disorganisation has other, less frivolous consequences.  If I am to be un(der)employed, then I have to cut back on my outgoings.  That has to start with not wasting food. I'm normally not too bad in this area, being a great leftovers consumer and food recycler. (Last night's lefotver soup becomes today's shepherd's pie with the addition of a tin of lentils and some frozen veggie mince).  But I shocked myself earlier in the week when I opened my fridge's veg drawer and found almost the entire contents beyond use.  Including a whole bag of spring greens, not even opened.  This has to stop.  Apart from the financial consideration, it's just plain wrong.

To my shame, I can see carrots (black spotted and slimy), white cabbage (black spotted and dehydrated beyond use) a whole red pepper (wrinkled and with great slimy patches), the two heads of spring cabbage gone yellow (look, the one on the right's starting to flower, bless it) and part of a celeriac root which is pretty much fossilised.  There are a couple of apples lurking in there, too, out of sight.  Ack.  Awful waste.  All headed for the compost heap, which is my only consolation - at least it's not all going to landfill.

After that depressing image, here are a few other, more cheerful aspects of my life at the moment.

I love my garden.  Not to work in, but to look at from the kitchen window as I wash up, and to sit out in with some wine and music and Husband (not necessarily in that order of importance) when the weather is kind.  At the moment it's looking very overgrown, because Husband (who is in exclusive charge of grasscutting) has a note excusing him from heavy work due to a recent hernia repair.  The grass is becoming very, very long.
Here my senior cat demonstrates how far up her side the grass currently reaches.  You can tell from her half-Siamese frosty glare that the current state of her domain is not appreciated.  She is doing her best to help us with this situation by chewing off, eating, and then throwing up on the dining-room carpet as much grass as she can manage, but she's only one cat, dedicated though she may be.

Not all of the garden is looking so neglected.  We also have riots of wallflowers in two old half-barrels.  They perfume the garden with scents of my childhood and delight me whenever I go out there.

And the lilac bush is in flower, proving that I was wrong and Husband was right when he pruned it back so hard last year that I predicted he'd killed the tree.  I only photographed the top part of it, official reason being that it looks wonderful against the current old-jeans colour of the sky.  Real reason is the lower half is obscured by an unlovely rotary clothelines that I can't reach over the long grass to dismantle.

To finish on, here's a photo of my one and only white camelia that's not been rendered brown and crispy-edged by the wind:

Please ignore the two flies inconsiderately bonking on the leaf to the left.  It is spring, after all.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Looking back

I went on a weekend course in 2010, to gain inspiration and encouragement to take the step that I am only just now, 2 years later and no further on really, starting to take.  I wrote this about it just afterwards:
Dial House in summer.
  They usually leave some of the grass to
grow, meadow-like, these days.

"This weekend just gone I went on a short residential course at Dial House in Essex, "Ditch Your Day Job, a Permaculture Approach to Quitting the 9 - 5".  The more time goes on, the more desperate I am to escape, so I booked myself and Husband (with his agreement) on the course, and we got back last night.

The course was run by Graham Burnett, Permaculture guru, and Tom Hodgkinson, editor of The Idler magazine amongst other enterprises.  I've met Graham before and like him immensely, but Tom was a new acquaintance and I was very surprised by how young he turned out to be.  It took me until middle age to decide that the rat race is unendurable (although I've never liked it, I've never discerned any practical alternative).  Tom picked up on this piece of wisdom in his twenties, and thanks to a fortuitous sacking, put his ideas into practice and has been gainfully "idling" ever since.

The atmosphere of the course was pretty pragmatic.  We can't do without money altogether, but maybe we can do with less, and earn that in an enjoyable way.  Many of the things we buy, commonly, are to reward ourselves for doing our crap jobs.  If we don't have that aggravation in our lives, then quite possibly we don't need so many of these little rewards.  This habit is so common we've even coined a term for it over recent decades - Retail Therapy.  How grim that we are living lives that require such a panacea.

Freeform beret, made for a friend's toddler
grand-daughter, subsequently passed on to her sister.

Another consideration - so much of my spending actually supports my ability to do my eight to five.  That's potentially money I don't need to earn.  My car, for example.  I've been taking notice lately, and I doubt that I do 5 miles per week that isn't to work and back (80+ miles each way, thankfully not every day!).  I have a bike, and for the odd occasion (maybe once a month if that) when a bike won't do, there are always taxis.  How much do I really need a car if I'm not commuting?  That has to reduce my outgoings by £2-3,000 pa, and that is taxed earnings, so I can probably afford to earn £3-4,000 pa less gross if I don't run a car.

We were encouraged on the course to take stock of our talents and experience in things we actually like to spend our time doing.  On from this, the one point that set off rockets in my head was the concept of multiple income streams.  I have mulled for many, many  hours over recent years, ways in which I could earn money that would involve me in activities that I already enjoy rather than sitting at a computer from 8am to 5pm each day.  But none of them would provide a living wage, even a modest one.  So, why not do several?  See what works, what doesn't, and whilst I'm going through this learning period hopefully the things that don't work will become obvious quite quickly and the ones that do will prop up my optimism whilst I develop more ideas.  If I can accumulate a number of revenue streams then I will never be dependent upon just one which may collapse at any moment.  I've been made redundant once in my life and although it wasn't the tragedy for me that it is for a lot of people, it left me with no income and led me into a job that not only did I not enjoy, but which swallowed up 4 hours of each of my days in sitting either on a train or behind the wheel of a car.  Awful, awful.  I'd panicked, and taken the first job I was offered.  I wish I'd had Tom's foresight then.
My first commissioned piece - a cloche with a tiny brim,
freeform scrumbles and beads attached.  Great fun to make,
and I am told, well received.

I dabble in crochet, (also freeform knitting and crochet), and I have a number of ideas surrounding this particular subject, including making things for sale, maybe running short courses on freeform (bit ambitious, that), and preparing kits for sale with materials and an instruction booklet to give newcomers to freeform a head start.

I have also cherished a desire to write for publication - mainly fiction although I'm open to suggestions - for many years.  Since my teens, really.  I have had one timid effort at submitting a story for publication (rejected), but now I'm going to push at that door more firmly.  That is so scary.  (Note - have tried again twice since.  Both rejected.  Getting used to it now!)

Which brings me to the barriers, of which fear is of course the biggest.  Fear of personal failure that may diminish me, but also fear of letting Husband down and leaving him the sole breadwinner - I am BAD, I am LAZY, I am living off SOMEONE ELSE, I can hear the gremlins shrieking in my head, and I've not even started any of this yet.  The next worst barrier is a dreadfully unhealthy attitude towards money.  I'm fine with my employer putting a lump of credit into my bank account each month.  We don't talk about it at all, and usually each January it rises by the inflation percentage of the time - although not for the past 2 Januaries due to the credit crunch.  But taking money from individuals for my time and efforts makes me cringe.

Gordon, my toy baboon, fetchingly modelling the beret.
I'm told it looked a lot better on the child!
To illustrate this unhelpful trait of mine - a couple of people at work saw some of my crochet work and each asked me to make a hat for them to give to a relative as a gift.  I was delighted and flattered and I spent many hours making those hats and each was well received.  When those people asked me how much I wanted to be paid, I went bright red and refused point blank to take anything.  It was an act of friendship, making those hats, and I could not have thought of taking money from a friend.  Which was all very nice, but it did mean that for one thing they'd never ask me to make any more for them, and for another, that I didn't get any concrete reward for my efforts.  That's fine all the time I still have the day job, but if I want to diversify then I have to get over the abject horror of taking money for my work.  It was the same when I did house cleaning for a friend when I was unemployed a few years ago.  I nearly died of embarrassment when he handed me those three five-pound notes.

So I have some big hurdles to haul myself over if I am ever to make the break with full-time employment.  But my mood post-course is positive and warm inside, which is a big improvement on my average mood of the last few years.  I am so sick of whingeing.  I don't what to moan - I want to idle."

I still do!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Getting in some practice

My boss knows that I want to leave; we have been discussing this on and off for several months.  There is a degree of reluctance on both sides to accept this.  It's a family firm, and I've become part of the furniture, and though we both agree that I have my down side, I am dependable and I am the person they call when anything computer-related goes wrong, and thus far it has always ended up being sorted.  For my part, despite my desire to change my working life completely, I am very fond of some of the people there, not least of all my 80+ year-old Chairman who still comes in from 7:30 to 12 each day, rain or shine.  Love him to bits, have for years.  I go back a long way with this firm, to my early twenties when the software house I worked for sold them a computer system.  Even when that firm went bust, I still used to swap Christmas cards with Chairman and his secretary.  And eventually I ended up as an employee.

I am used to having some money plop into my bank account every month.  That is going to be hard to give up, emotionally speaking.  I have been used to defining my self-worth by the status of my job, and my attitude towards it.  I don't think that this is healthy, and it's one of the things I hope to change.  I genuinely believe that any job well done is something of which to be proud, but I don't seem able to think that way about myself, only others.  I sometimes wonder whether I may have tiny self-esteem issues.

Other revenue streams need to be found, so that when my company finds my replacement I stand a chance of continuing to eat - something of which I am overly fond.

King-size Granny Stripe Blanket, original pattern courtesy of Attic24
Loads of yarn!

As previously mentioned, I crochet.  Of course, so do a lot of people, and I can't claim to be any sort of genius in this area, but I do quite like some of the things I make, and at some point I hope to open an Etsy shop (or similar) and see whether maybe anyone else likes them too - enough to actually pay for them.  This will bring in peanuts at best, but that might be ok, I can live on a lot less than most people, I reckon.

Then of course there's the idea of buying cheap and selling a little less cheaply.  I've made a bit of a start with this original drawing, purchased on eBay for £3.  I collected it, avoiding postage fees.  It is of a boat called "Vere",  and was drawn when it was moored in Birdham in 1984.  I've done a bit of Googling, and apparently Vere was built in 1905 and was one of the flotilla of small ships that went across the channel to rescue soldiers stranded in Dunkirk.  Despite breaking down twice on the way, she is credited with bringing 346 men home, probably saving their lives in the process.  Since then she has served as a house boat to three successive families, and at some point sank at her berth in the Chichester Canal, passed through the hands of the Official Receiver of Wrecks and one other owner before transferring to her present owner.  In July 2007, Vere underwent restoration at Cowes, Isle of Wight.

My thinking is, if I can find out who owns this boat now, they might be interested in buying my picture for a little more than the £3 it cost me.  In the meantime I have it on my wall, because it is a jolly nice picture and I've always had a lumpy-throated soft spot for the Dunkirk evacuation.

So a very small start, both of which ideas may of course come to nothing, but my outlay has been modest (although I've drawn a line under how much I've spent on yarn in the last few years.  I don't buy expensive, but I have bought lots).

There are a number of other issues that I have to address if I am to take this monumental step.  But for today I'm happy that I at least have some ideas to follow.  I won't be leaving my present job for at least three months, so that's a minimum of  three more paydays' worth of money off the mortgage before I have to worry about how on earth I'm going to keep up the payments on it!

It's a nice sunny day and I'm now going to sit outside without a glass of wine, because one day soon I hope not to be able to afford such luxuries.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Outlook uncertain

Well, the time it has taken me to set up a Google account and this blog proves to me once and for all that computers and I are not suited. 

We used to be.  In fact I have earned my living for more years than I care to admit (more than twenty, less than fifty) in IT, or "computers" as it was known when I started out.  I was a Computer Operator, then a Computer Programmer (much to my father's surprise, who never made it past Operator and couldn't believe I had the brains to do so), and have now reached the lofty and uncomfortable heights of IT Manager.

Surprisingly, I am not rich.  You'd think I would be, wouldn't you, with a job title like that and no children?  But no.  Some dodgy career moves by both me and Husband, plus a tendency to go for jobs that appealed rather than job that paid, have seen to that.  I'm not starving, but I certainly don't have the sort of financial comfort that is generally associated with my calling. 

Luckily this is not a huge problem.  I'd sooner be happy and interested and optimistic about the future than rich.  It's therefore a bit of a bugger that at the moment I am neither.

I've been in my current job for 15 years in June.  It is a good company, with some lovely people, run by a wonderful family.  Should be idyllic, but I am jaded and stretched beyond comfort, and the older I get the more of a Luddite I am becoming.  I won't even use a mobile phone except for emergencies, because I don't want to be available 24 hours a day.  And if truth be told, I spend so much of my time fiddling with technology trying to get it to do what it is supposed to, that the last thing I want to do is more of the same in my spare time.  So it is Husband who has wireless broadband and a smart phone and laptop and a tablet - or whatever the squitty little things with no keyboard are called.

So - it is time for a change, which will of course not be easy.  For a start I am on 3 months notice at work, which means that I can't look for a new job until I have resigned the current one, because who is going to consider - let alone interview - a woman of my age who can't even start for 3 months?  So I will be launching myself into the unknown, and scouring the local paper for anything that I can do which will pay.  I will likely end up self-employed, doing a mix of lealet delivery, temping and trying to sell stuff online that I have made or renovated.  Although I've done a fair bit of crochet in recent times, selling it (or trying to) will be a very new experience.  I also still have a mortgage, so on paper all this is complete madness.  But if I am to remain sane and the carpet unchewed, it has to be done.

Wish me luck.