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posted by [personal profile] cat_hellisen at 08:38am on 27/09/2017 under
So stuff has been happening.

My mom arrived from South Africa on Monday morning, so Brian took the day off in order to pick her up from the airport. We took her for a wee ramble down to St Brigid's Kirk, which she was utterly in love with. She's amazed by the peace of Scotland, by the lack of fear and noise and crime.

Having her here reminds me although I miss SA greatly, I had forgotten how bad it was, how hard it is to get to sleep because of fear  of crime etc. It's an indicator that although this is hard, it was the right thing to do.

Because we didn't cycle to the kirk, we ended up going a different route to the one I'm used to and we spotted this AMAZING tree house in a back garden. I am legit lime jello.

Yesterday I took my mom on a bit of a walk down to Inverkeithing, and she was just gasping and oohing and ahhing at the buildings and the flowers. We had a little chat with an old guy volunteering at the Inverkeithing community garden, and I think i'm going to go speak to the Rosyth community hub about volunteering in their garden. That will be pretty cool, I think.

In skating news, I have memorised the prelim waltz pattern, now B and I just need to learn how to skate it together. This is a step forward, believe me :D We'll see Sheila this weekend and hopefully she won't look upon us and despair ;)

I also finally ran 5km again. first time in aaaaaages. Unfortunately, my Strava didn;t record it, but I know it was 5km because it's my 3 miler route. Hurrah for me! Becuase I ran it early, I feel pretty energised and wired, aso that's a cool bonus!.

And now, today, I should catch up on all the work i haven't done in the last week! Yikes!

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posted by [personal profile] cat_hellisen at 02:11pm on 19/06/2017
yeah. hot. In Scotland.

Tbf it's cooler outside the house because there's a breeze but even so it's muggy and draining. Scotland, Y U so weird?

I thought I was doing better on the anemia front with all those pills the doc is making me take, but wow did i crash hard this afternoon. Getting out of bed was an ordeal (I had to have an afternoon nap from the deadness). Still, despite that, I know things are improving because my house is clean and I've gone to the shops and the bread is in the oven. i tweaked this recipe a bit so it has rye and oats in it - will see if it's edible.

Today I'm just doing stretches for post-weekend recovery. Gah, I wish I were more flexible. i mean, (I am workign on flexibility but it's crazy to see how tight my hips are. All the people in my aikido class seem to just casually settle into a wide straddle for stretches and my centre split is more like this < hahaha)

Okay, I should go do some work. But first I'll go fetch the Younger Spawn from school and mop up my puddles of sweat. :P
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posted by [personal profile] cat_hellisen at 07:21pm on 07/06/2017 under ,
A flash about family, funerals, migration, and birds. Some of this true, some of it is almost true, some of it isn't true at all. That's the nature of fiction.

swallows title

you can read it online at my Patreon, free of charge.

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I did not run this weekend, but I feel good about that because my right knee (the one that always fucks out) was giving me pain all through Saturday, until eventually i took painkillers to get to sleep that night.

The new library in Dunfermline, which we went to go see, looks pretty amazing, and they've really done a wonderful job of old meeting new, with the old buildings joined by glass and modern extensions, and the history of Dunfermline both trade (looms, silk spinners, miner's lamps etc,) and modern life (Nazareth, advertising, scooters and other items of the recent past) sitting shoulder to shoulder. One of the cool things is the recorded interviews you can listen to, which really gives a warmth to the voices of the past.

Despite technically not being there to take out books, I still ended up grabbing Charlie Jane Ander's All the Birds of the Sky (which ended up winning a Nebula later that evening), Alex Bledsoe's The Hum and the Shiver, and Emma Bull's War for the Oaks. So a pretty neat haul. Also the SF section looked like it had almost every Culture novel, so I may do a massive reread of North Queensferry's most famous.

Here's Younger Spawn in the renovated library garden, with Dunfermline Abbey looming behind. You can see the esplaniered trees on their stakes there in the background. YS is standing in what is currently a very small labyrinth. I really hope they grow the hedges a bit taller, as i do love the peace of walking though one.

Every time I think about where i live now, i am awed by the history and beauty. i still miss South Africa badly, but I appreciate the wonder I have here too.

Younger Spawn in Dunfermline

Today I got told I'm moving up a grade at skating, which is cool, but set the YS off in tears as she wants me to stay with her. I actually think me not being in her class will be better for her and give her more confidence, but she does not see it that way. Ah well, hopefully she'll adjust to the idea by next week. We still do warm-up and after-class together so, she doesn't have to feel totally alone.

I've been purposefully meditating for the past week and I really feel like the combo of meds and meditating is giving me a lot of peace I needed in my life. Part of it is that I can just let go of stupid and not let it affect me. Letting other people bug me is my choice, and I'm never going to change them, so why get frustrated by it? This is a little easier to ruminate on than put into practice, but I shall try!

Music:: Eliza Carthy - King James Version
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posted by [personal profile] cat_hellisen at 05:57pm on 19/05/2017 under , ,
I'm feeling rather antsy and restless tonight. I was planning to skip parkrun tomorrow, but think I need to go and burn off some of my excess nerves.

The new Dunfermline Carnegie museum/gallery/library opened on Thursday, so we're going in anyway to have a look at it, so I might as well trek in a little earlier for the run. I better burn off all that chocolate bread I made and ate. *pats very round stomach gently* My pizza was amazing, btw. I don't think I'll do stretch and fold doughs very often because they take forever, but wooh did it make a spectacularly crispy and airy pizza crust.


The cheese was a mix of mozzarella and very mature cheddar, with onion, beefsteak toms, and mushrooms for topping. It was sooooooo moreish. And now I have the last dregs of a red wine bottle, and I'm listening to Placebo so this is a pleasant Friday.

Novel-wise, i decided I needed a new character in the book What I Just Kinda Finished. I mean, partly I'm kicking myself, and partly I'm going "Oh, yeah, this makes so much more sense." So she will be stitched in, and add to the texture of the story.

Why do I need her? Well, this is a story about mothers, daughters, sisters and step-mothers, but I realised I'd ignored the grandmother. And there was this AHA! moment, which made me realise I was on the right thought track there.

How I took the vaguest outline of Snow White and made it a story about female relationships (and all the ways they twist and support and tangle), I have no idea. I wouldn't say I set out to write any kind of lady manifesto, and it's not. it's just about people, and hearts. And the people happen to mainly be women because Snow White.

Music:: Placebo - Running Up That Hill
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After 2+ weeks of no rain, it's finally drizzling. Feels a wee bit more Scottish in the rain. Of course, it did have to rain the day I washed bedding so now my house is filled with damp sheets.

Yesterday Younger Spawn and I went in to Murrayfield - the first time she's been able to go in about three weekends, thanks to illness and injury. She did pretty well considering her long break, although we did have to deal with some sulking. (yay :P). It was a stunning day and we reveled in the walk there and back - filled with bird song and dappled sun through green boughs. The sides of the pathways are steep slopes covered with wild garlic and bluebells and bracken under the trees, so everything is looking very lush.

After that I went with The Boy for a walk in the small woods near our house. There's something very otherworldly about the place. Makes me totally understand why Scotland has so much fairy lore. you can picture nature spirits and strange things haunting the place.

I'm finally meditating again. Made the decision to swap 30 aimless minutes getting pissed off with idiots on twitter, to spending 30 focused minutes with my breath. Can only be for the good. :D No running today as i need a recovery day, but I'll be back on the road on Tuesday. Running is another kind of meditation, though I run with music, so that isn't very meditative, I guess. I don;t care, i love my music time on the run.

And in good news, I should finish that beta read today - I lost the notes on about half the read a week ago when my computer crashed and did not have the energy to face it all again. But, yay, I am making progress and the end is in sight again. ;)


Music:: Tricky - Evolution Revolution Love
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It's only Thursday? Yeeesh.

I haven't done much running this week, but that's because in an attempt to save some cash (bus fare being more than my actual lesson fees) I decided to cycle with B into Edinburgh. Googlemaps is all like "13 miles, will take you about 1:20" THIS IS A COMPLETE FABRICATION. It actually took 16.7 miles, and 1:50. Because getting to Edinburgh is only 2/3 of the (long) battle. Then you have to navigate the million and one road closures and diversions. Still, I'm pretty proud of myself. I didn't walk once on the way in, and though I did stop to walk a few hills on the way back, I'm okay with that, It was only a little. Cycling back in the gloaming (and night) was so peaceful and beautiful. i saw pipistrelle bats and a fox while we were on the greenway part of the cycle track1

building in Edinburgh

Aikido class (the reason for the biking) was really great. I am so glad to be back on the mat, It just feels so right, even though I have forgotten everything and feel all uncoordinated. It's slowly coming back to me though, and I'm in the beginner's class so I don't have to stress too much because I'm relearning stuff I have done. It is weird because, obviously, different sensei means slightly different technique and style (and instructions) so sometimes I do things very differently because of muscle memory. I do try adjust my technique to be more like class style though.

This week I took the chance to start arting again, and painted a little study of a pygmy nuthatch. I love painting birds, so I decided I'll stick to them. I asked my friend and fellow writer person Lynne Jamneck if I could use her images as source material because she takes the most amazing pictures of New Zealand birds, and she was happy to let me.

pygmy nuthatch painting

And in the lats bit of news, I took Elder Spawn to Dunfermline today so she could have an orthodontist appointment, and while we were there I found this cool-looking kid's book of folk tales in a charity shop. All of 50p Bargain!

book cover

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It's a dreich Monday, but despite the grey and gloom, I have cleaned the lounge carpet, done laundry, some beta reading, so proper reading, and managed another 1000 words on the WiP. 1000 seems to be my sweet spot, so if I could just focus on daily writing, I can finish this draft pretty soonish.

I know I did plan to finish it for April but eh well, progress is progress.

Yesterday I went for a run with Lynn from the school and two of her running buddies. We did a 5km through Pattiesmuir and the graveyard and woods. It was really beautiful. Fife farmlands are stunning; there are fields of electric yellow flowers in bloom at the moment. No idea what they are. They look a little like when cabbage goes to seed? Uh, a farmer I am not hahaha.

After that I headed to Edinburgh for the Robin Hobb signing. It was meant to start at 12:30, and I got there at 11:30 and a queue was already forming so I grabbed a copy and got in line. Good thing too, as they actually ran out of copies before 12. I was going to buy 2 copies (one for me and one for Nerine) but the book was £25! and I need to pay for aikido and skating and guides and life.... :P

So I just got Nerine a copy. It's the third book in a series that I haven't read yet, though I did enjoy her Liveship Traders books muchly, but people looked at me funny for saying that. I have so many books on my TBR pile, and I am so behind in all things readerly. My biggest fear is I'm going to die before I read everything. ;)

 The 5-minute-queue friends were pretty cool - Some arty Welsh girls who were art and lit students, and behind me an adorable couple who drove up from Newcastle for the signing, and stayed overnight in a hotel. Robin Hobb fans are DEDICATED, yo. She is charming and lovely, and ended up signing for 2 + hours instead of the 1 hour she was booked for. She also very kindly listened when I explained the book was a for a huge South African fan of hers who was also a writer, and if she could just write a message to keep writing (if possible) that it would be so appreciated.

After that, I recognised writer Laura Lam, whose book Pantomime I really enjoyed (still need to read the rest of the series though, cause I am a slacker of note). We had tea in the Waterstones coffee shop and a bit of a natter over The State Of Publishing, and I bought her newest book False Hearts and got it signed. Bizarre and random connection is that False Hearts is blurbed by Sarah Lotz, who is a fabulous writer human person, and also one of the most prolific people I know. I want her dedication to work when I grow up.

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posted by [personal profile] cat_hellisen at 09:45am on 27/04/2017 under , ,
it's been a weird week. This time last week the vet was putting down our beloved staffiexpittie girl, Pudge.

I got Pudge as a fat little grunting puppy when i was pregnant with Noa. That was over 14 years ago, and i was living in a ground floor flat in Sea Point (Cape Town), where my neighbours grew different strains of weed in the apartment gardens. Good times.

We used to walk her along the Sea Point promenade, and lmty, if ever you want to have the ultimate pick-up weapon: puppies. Just. Puppies. Complete strangers suddenly want to stop and talk to you just for the chance to play with your puppy.

She moved with us through (I think) around ten houses. that included two long car journeys - once from cape Town to jo'burg, and once back. She bore this with patience and her wonderful good nature. Cape Town was good for her - no thunder, and long walks on the riverfront and beach and sometimes up the mountains, but slowly our walks grew shorter, and half the time she had no idea where we were. her eyesight was going along with her hearing, and she was weaker all the time.

When we left for Scotland, i knew it would be the last time I saw her. She was far too old to risk a long oceanic flight, and she spent the last of her days in her old house, looked after by my mother and sister (who lived with us). I got to Skype her before she went, and she was barely the dog I remember. All her strength gone, she looked like she had no idea where she was, and she could no longer stand. She had a good life, but keeping her longer was cruel.

Logic doesn't make heartbreak easier, though, does it?


I am almost 14 so I am allowed to sleep all day on a chair meant for humans because the 2 legs have given up the fight

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The next day was the introduction of a new life into our house. Please welcome, Small Furry Son, Murphy, who is all tiggery and chirrupy and sweet but also has a shoe fetish...


I have missed the chirruping purrs of a happy cat. #happiness

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Another thing that happened was I finally got off my arse and made the attempt to mission into Edinburgh at night to find the beginner aikido class there. I definitely left it too long - my body and mind are blank slates again :D But wow, did it feel good to be there. I could kick myself for not going sooner.

My body could kick me too, as it felt a bit like it had been run over by a steamroller. I haven't fallen down in a year, basically. my body was like...whoah crap! hahaha FALLING IS FUN. FALL MORE. FALL GRACEFULLY. JUST FALL.

(ps if anyone can tell me why my instagram pics don't show in dreamwidth, and how to fix that, I would be a grateful cat)

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I feel like I'm making the sloooowest progress ever on this book I swore was going to be done by the end of the month. LOLLERSKATES.

On the plus side I did actually work today despite not wanting to and hating everything etc. Several someones posted a Stephen King inspo thing on facebook and It was one I kinda needed to see today because I feel like I've been shovelling shit on this particular book for longer than I would like. Maybe I'm secretly doing good. :D At the very least I am inching closer to The End, so that is something to be happy about.

stephen king

In other exciting news I ran 3.2 miles this morning, but I am dead like whoa today. Yesterday T and I were at MIR and she was determined to spend the whole session skating backwards. Very Freaking Slowly. And I had to stay with her the whole time to watch that she didn't crash into anyone. But I'm proud of her for setting a goal and sticking to it even though it was pretty tough on her. She's just a wee thing.


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