Dear Diary...

As a means to occasionally bridge the gap between creative projects, (and their related blog posts), I have decided to create this "Dear Diary..." page.  Here, my readers can get a glimpse of goings-on in my world, and just life in general, really.

Wednesday, 9th October, 2015: Ooh! Well, I never! What a WHIRLWIND year it's been! It's been over a year since I last posted anything here!

I've spent the time finishing up putting my life back together somewhat.

Finding proper employment has really been the most energy and time-consuming aspect of it all, I think.

In September 2014, I found a SEASONAL, part-time job at a local family amusement venue.  During Halloween, I got to dress up as a witch, and told impromptu tall stories to the little 'uns, using the Finger Puppets on sale in the Gift Shop, where I worked. It was so much FUN!

By November of that year, I had applied for and got a part-time (4-hour contract) job at a local drugstore.  Sadly, I had to leave the seasonal job, and work exclusively at the drug store for a couple of reasons:

  • Conflicting schedules - they both required weekends.
  • Benefit rules and regulations, at the time, stipulated that I had to work less than 16 hours per week.

Fast forwarding to May 2015: I was returning from a fun family dinner at my brother's house, when, on a whim, I changed my normal route home. Jolly glad I did! I noticed an ad posted in the local newsagents window for a Part-Time (16.25 hours per week) Sales Assistant.  I applied.  And, got the job! Hurrah!

So, I was working TWO part-time jobs, whose schedules dovetailed nicely...for a while.  Ultimately, my schedules were changed - as often happens in retail.  Those changes frequently resulted in working both jobs, in one day, with barely 20 minutes in which to eat lunch and get changed into the appropriate uniform for the next job...

Last July, to help save my sanity and overall well-being, I left the drug store to work exclusively at the newsagents.

At the end of July, a RARE, FULL-TIME (35-hours per week) retail opportunity opened up in a local department store! Eureka! I applied and got the job!

So, in mid-August, I left the newsagents and began working full-time at the department store.  I am in charge of my own department, and am loving it!

Just a few days ago, I went to a training day in London.  I'm going to another training in Birmingham at the end of this month.  I'm so excited! It's so nice to have a proper, full-time job, instead of feeling more like a "part-time appendage", bouncing from one place to the next like a human ping-pong ball.

I really enjoy working in the department store environment.  Not least of which, I have actually accrued 4 weeks of paid holiday that I have to take by the end of March 2016.  I'm just not used to that! What a lovely dilemma...for a change!

"Oh, Gourd! It's A Carve-Up!"
Last Halloween, where I live, there was a Residents' Pumpkin Carving Evening in the Hall.  Just for a bit of wicked fun, I whipped out my sketch pad and colouring pencils: Gourdon The Pumpkin was born!

This Halloween, I have no plans to do anything in particular, other than probably beginning my creative projects for the upcoming Christmas season...

Although, I will be beginning, in the next week or so, to create a "Passport and Travel Document Pouch" for someone I know who is leaving on a 3-month tour of Australasia - I hope to have time to post about it here once it's created - today, I've been sleuthing for patterns and ideas...

Well, things do seem to be falling into place now, and I hope to enjoy some much-needed peace! I could do with more "lovely dilemmas"! PHEW!


Wednesday, 21st August, 2014: Want to know WHY things have been more quiet than usual in Penny-Pinchers' Purses' (colourful) world? Read on, gentle reader! The blanket email below to interested family and friends explains a lot...

Hiya all! 

Just thought you'd like to know the latest in this [gas supply] saga! Gawd! 

Yesterday afternoon/evening, I was on Facebook with E.ON Energy's customer service: they're too busy to handle phone calls again, and Twitter was impractical because each Tweet can be no more than about 150 characters...

Anyway, the Facebook CSR was very apologetic and did a bit of research to see what they could do about, at least, refunding me the money from the previous resident's debt I've been unwittingly paying: I've put in a total of 25.00 on the Gas Card, but only 7.50 of it has been credited to my meter! The CSR came back to me with the info that E.ON Energy hasn't supplied this address since 2006! Well then! WHERE has my money been going???

I was unable to resolve it all by 8 PM last night [E.ONs Customer Service on Social Media get to go home to their nice warm homes with running hot water at 8 PM], because Shockwave Flashplayer suddenly decided to not play nicely with either of my browsers: Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.  So, I had to get that sorted because both browsers locked up, froze, and basically stopped working.  It took about an hour or so to get it sorted... Grrr!

Today, I learned that NPower is the real gas supplier at my address, and that NPower and E.ON Energy have/had an agreement.  The really daft part is that NPower still issued their customers with E.ON Gas Cards with nothing anywhere on the card to link the two energy companies together! So, a poor sod, such as myself, logically assumes that an E.ON Gas Card must mean that my gas supply comes from E.ON Energy... I had to call an outside 3rd party company to find out my real gas supplier, thanks to Live Chat with EDF (my new power supplier).  Confused yet? Good! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Well, after a lively and actually quite fun, chat on the good, old telephone with NPower, help is on the way! I don't have hot water yet; but, as soon as I can get a key to go down to the cellar for the debt-owed reading on the meter, I need to call NPower back with the info, so they can credit my account/prepayment meter the 17.50 they owe me.  They will issue me a new gas card  with the credit on it which will reset the meter with the correct information.

I did nicely point out to NPower that because of the lack of proper, identifying labelling, they lost a potential customer: I switched because I was appalled by E.ONs customer service practices, not having any way of knowing that my gas was actually supplied by NPower! I was "in the dark"! Yes, I did make the CSR laugh with that one!

Meanwhile, I have no running hot water until I get the new card! I have to boil the kettle... Oh well! At least it's being sorted now and the mystery is solved.

Hope all is well and that your hot water is intact and in full supply! (It's important, y'know!)


Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Candy Apple
Tuesday, 3rd June, 2014:  Normally I don't care for bright lipstick colours, but... I felt like I needed a cheap & bright pick-me-up. I found it in Boots in the form of Revlon's ColorBurst Lip Butter in "Candy Apple" (No. 035). Not bad for almost 6 quid! :)

Many of the coral hues seemed so bright to me: sporting such painfully bright lips would've made me look as if I had bad liver problems, I think! <:0(

I thought many of the coral shades appeared to be more orange. Flattering on some; but, not on me. "Candy Apple" seemed like a more toned-down version of Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Suede Lipstick in "Finale" , which was almost 9 quid - too rich for my purse-strings! I really can't justify spending that much on a lipstick at the best of times...


Chocolate & Marshmallow Whoopie Pies
Wednesday, 14th May, 2014:  My nephew has just started his slew of final exams for the school year, so I thought I'd make him a special treat and bake him something.  I asked him what he wanted.  His eyes lit up, and he was practically drooling already at the thought of "Chocolate & Marshmallow Whoopie Pies".  I even got a hug and a kiss from him when they were done and already partly scarfed  :)

On a completely different subject: I was disappointed to discover that my favourite body wash, Palmolive Mediterranean Moments, can no longer be found on my local shop shelves! So, I had to hunt all over again for a new favourite. >:(

Finding a scent that I like that doesn't cause migraines, nor upset my skin, is quite challenging.  Personally, I think that many fragrances should be in the "Diet & Exercise" section. Why?! Because they smell so awful you'll be running a four-minute mile just trying to get away from yourself! Gawd!

Anyway, I was very pleasantly surprised by Waitrose' own brand in "Sandalwood & Sea Moss" and "Lemon Blossom & Amber"; and, at only
£1.09 each helps me to know that I'm on the right scent for a good bargain.


Wednesday, 9th April, 2014: Been trying really hard to acclimatise myself with life back at home here in England: I never expected it to be easy. 

A few small steps have helped me obtain a couple of local volunteer opportunities to keep me busy a couple of days a week, get me out of the house, do something constructive, and meet new people.  The people I have met so far have seemed very nice and welcoming.

One of my nephews has a birthday in the next few weeks - being a teenager still, I've decided to make him a "Go Away!" sign for his bedroom door.  I bought a couple of felt squares from my favourite Haberdashery stall on the local Tuesday market; and am, currently, mulling over the design.  He's home on school holidays for the next two weeks, so it may be tricky to create it without him seeing what I'm up to.  Fortunately, (in this case), he's an avid Xbox gamer, so no prizes for guessing how he'll be spending the majority of his holiday.  
Wednesday, 22nd January, 2014: Last month, I returned home to England permanently for the love and support of my family.

Due to the expense of moving overseas and voltage differences, I had to sell, (among other things), my US-purchased Janome sewing machine.  However, my family have been so impressed with the various things I've made for them as gifts, they want me to be able to continue with my creativity and sewing; not least of which, to help alleviate some grief...So, my brother and sister-in-law gave me the money to buy a new sewing machine, which just arrived today! [A Pfaff Element 1050s].

With one of my nieces preparing for 6-month European work-experience as part of her language studies at university, I will have some mending work cut out for me before I can begin with creating new things.

Also, I have the opportunity to begin "showcasing" new creations on a website for one of the local charities, where some of the sales proceeds will be donated to Support 4 Sight.

A new year, a new beginning - I want my late-partner to be proud of me.


Thursday, 26th September, 2013: Just a brief much more sober post...I've neglected this blog for the last several weeks due to illness, and sudden, unexpected death of my partner/boyfriend/fiance/Love Of My Life on 1st September, 2013.  My heart and world have been shattered.  When I am in a better place for picking up the pieces of my life, I plan to continue this blog - I think he would have wanted that.  Thank you for your understanding!


Saturday, 17th August, 2013: Yeah, yeah! I know! It's been a looong time since I've posted ANYTHING on this blog!

It seems those pesky viruses brought down my computer at least twice since last April.  The most recent, (likely virus-caused), snafu was being told by the Geek Squad that my operating system was corrupted; soooo, I had to have my OS restored, which wiped my laptop clean, i.e., brand new "factory-state".  Everything had to be re-installed! Not good.  Not good at all! As a result of these technical issues, I now have to apply for an extension of my online coursework. Rats!!!

On top of that, my A/C went kaput AGAIN in 100+-degree weather! Anyway, enough technical-drama banter! Wanna hear something funny instead? Thought so.

About a week ago, my boyfriend had just finished, dutifully, cleaning out his cat's litter-box, and put the large bag of smelly, soiled litter in a discarded liquor-bottle box...

On his way out the door to go to work, he set the box with its stinky contents on the bonnet of the car - he planned to throw the box in the rubbish bins on his way out. Then, he went briefly back into his apartment to fetch something. Just as he was on his way out again, a couple of guys, who were skulking nearby, saw the liquor-bottle box sitting unattended on the car. They took the opportunity to run over to the heavy box, stole it, then leaped over a nearby fence with it!

My boyfriend watched them, and thought about yelling after them about the actual contents of the box. Then, decided, "NAH!" And, had a good laugh instead!

I would have LOVED to have seen their faces when they opened that box! Drink up, guys!

Hmmm... I wonder if they were watching "True Grit" when they opened it? Mwah-Ha-Ha! >;0)


Sunday, 19th May, 2013:  Last Friday was one of THOSE days. I was grumpy.

It seemed that everything I touched or attempted to do turned into one small disaster after another - enough to make just about anyone feel crabby.
Me being grumpy.

I think it started out with feeling out of sorts when I woke up.  Then, [Gasp!] [Shock!] [Horror!], I remembered that I was out of french roast coffee for my french press.  Bum! No decent coffee to blast away the blahs! I had to resort to instant coffee. [Sniff!] My taste buds were offended, and there was no way to cajole them ...not even a little bit.  Begrudgingly, I acknowledged that it was better than nothing.

Not long after that, I suppose I should have checked to see if my goony boyfriend had put grease on the door knobs, or something: it seemed that everything I touched either dropped, slipped, or fell through my fingers.  That annoying trend followed me throughout the day. >:0(

I had hoped and planned to get more studying done; but, I was in such a cranky mood, I thought perhaps I should, first, wash my face, then have a relaxing bath.  I filled the tub and kept an eagle eye on it, so flooding wouldn't be added to the list of calamities.

On a whim, I had decided to attempt my very first "fishtail braid".  Eee gads! Maybe I pulled my braid too tight(?!) While I was washing my face, I got soap in my eye.  I wear contact lenses, and it stung like Hell! My eye was tearing up badly, and I made the "fatal" mistake of rubbing my eye.  My right contact lens must have worked its way into the back of my eye: I poked and pried for AGESI couldn't get it out! My eye was red, sore, and watering profusely.  Afraid I was about to injure my eye*, I gave up.

*if you've ever suffered corneal abrasions as I have, you'd understand!

Like my Dad, I have mono-vision - our eyes "adopted" mono-vision themselves to compensate for their vision issues.  Trying to see with only one corrected eye can be hazardous, and messes with my depth perception.  My right eye is corrected for reading, my left eye is corrected for distance vision.

Because I had planned to study, I really needed to sort out my right contact lens woes.  I decided to put in a new lens.  Bad idea.  I used copious amounts of "TheraTears", but my eye began chafing and watering again.  I wound up with blurred vision.  I had no choice but to remove the lens.  As I pulled out the lens, lo and behold, TWO lenses appeared on my fingertips! They had become stuck together!

Frustrated to the max, I had pondered the thought of donning an eye-patch and trying to pass myself off as a pirate.  But, that would have been terribly impractical: all my notes would have to be written in 6-inch high bold letters, and held about 10 feet away, so I could actually read them!

By the time I had finished just about poking my eye out, and finally getting my contact lenses sorted, my bath water was now tepid. [Sigh!]

I was hoping to get a load of laundry done, too.  But, by the way my whole day had gone pear-shaped, I didn't dare embark on the trip downstairs to the laundry room! Fear of a trip and fall down the stairs, or a washing load mysteriously turned an interesting shade of pink, changed my mind.

The "bad luck vibe" remained with me all day.  I even put off studying.  I use a fountain pen, you see; and, had visions of the dark green ink spilling and splattering everywhere upon refilling my pen.  Trying to pass off a huge, green ink stain on my living-room carpet as a psychological "ink-blot test" experiment might be as entertaining as it would be believable a stony-faced landlord.

Ultimately, I chose to retreat from my day "early" and read in bed.  Hmmm... Maybe before I go to sleep, I could "Google" Australia: if tomorrow is anything like last Friday, I'm staying in bed. ;0)


Wednesday, 15th May, 2013:  Last Friday evening, “Miss Cool” left the building: the air conditioning unit in my apartment went kaput.  This tends to happen at least twice a year.

My sliding glass door receives the sun’s full pelt in the afternoons; so, it acts like an over-sized magnifying glass on warm, spring-summery days.  In other words, it was hotter ‘n Hades in here! My windows and doors were left open.

Last year, my air conditioner had quit just before long (and HOT)  holiday weekend (of course!).  My boyfriend took pity on me.  He bought me a new fan to replace the existing “cheapie” I had purchased the prior year.  That "old" fan didn't last long – less than a year! The oscillating motor stopped working; then, it decided to work on only one of the three available speedsSLOOOWWW! It did a fine job at slightly reorganizing hot, stuffy air; but, very little else.  I “retired” it to the dumpster.

If my new, rather more powerful fan is turned on full blast facing outside, the people on the other side of the complex would be checking for a threatening hurricane! Even at its lowest speed it sounds like a small airplane - it works! :0) So, it’s been obliged to work overtime until my air conditioner could be fixed.

At night, my bedroom window has been left open, and I placed my “super fan” at a safe distance from the curtains.  I turned on its lowest setting to catch and circulate any breezes at night to try to make sleeping more comfortable.  Worried that I would have bizarre nightmares about sleeping in the middle of an airport runway, I resorted to using earplugs to drown out most of the noise.

On Monday, my hopes were raised that the apartment maintenance guy would be able to fix my air conditioning unit.  Alas, by late afternoon, such hopes were dashed.  Our maintenance guy told me the air conditioner motor was defunct, and won’t even turn.  He said that he had a spare motor in his storage shed and would be back in the morning - (understandable - it’s cooler).

Tuesday afternoon rolled around.  I learned that our maintenance guy would be unable to replace the motor himself; it's now time to call the official a/c people. [I would have sighed then; but, it just would have added more warm air to my already stifling hot apartment!]  Apparently, they told him they would be here in an hour.  That was about 3 in the afternoon.  6:30 PM: STILL no air conditioning! I’m still MELTING!

Exhausted from being miserably overheated and not sleeping properly, I had resorted to trying to get things done late at night through to early morning hours when it’s slightly cooler.  Occasionally, I suffer from migraines: being overheated is one of my prime triggers, followed by inadequate sleep, and stress. By about 5 or 6, or sometimes 7, in the morning, I was asleep”.

Remember I had to resort to wearing earplugs to help drown out the sound of my “super fan”? While waking early this afternoon, I heard voices.  I wasn't sure if I was dreaming or if there really were people in my apartment.  Giving myself a moment to rouse enough to rise, I removed my earplugs and peeked out into the living area …

Sure enough, the air conditioning repair people were in my apartment.  I heard a cheery voice call out to me, “We’re here to fix your air conditioner!”

I mumbled, “Okay.”  Then, wandered back to bed to doze.  I didn't want to be out there in my pj.’s, much less encounter strangers before my first cup o’ jo. [Grumpy Cat would understand].

Phew!!! My air conditioner is now fixed! “Miss Cool” can think clearly enough to return to her studies! :0)


Friday, 10th May, 2013:  Recently returned home from an appointment with my Voc. Rehab. Counselor, where I signed the required releases and approval for 8 speech therapy sessions.  Yay!!! :0)

I'm excited at the prospect of getting my normal voice back!

These days my voice quality is inconsistent.  At times, it may sound "normal" at first, but then it trails off to a hoarse whisper when taxed too much ...and forget about trying to be heard above noise or noisy environments!

Even if I am able to regain my normal voice after speech therapy, I will remain an advocate for those affected by vocal disorders.  Who knows? Perhaps my Medical Terminology & Medical Transcription training will lead me to assist Speech Pathology patients in some way ...

I'm about half-way through the Medical Terminology portion of my schooling; then, I begin Medical Transcription.  I have until September to complete that particular course in entirety.  Luckily, if needed, I can apply for an extension if I need a little extra time.  After that, I get to hit the books again with an introductory course in Medical Coding.

So, if you see a woman with her hair sticking out to the side go by, muttering medical-sounding words to herself, its probably me.

My darling boyfriend has his own take on medical terminology.  He asked me if "a kick in the arse" would be translated as 
"foot-in-butt-atitis"?(!) Ummm... Nooooooo...  <:-O But, maybe it should be. ;0)


Sunday, 28th April, 2013:  Phew! Firstly, after increasingly struggling with my misbehaving computer and attempting to troubleshoot it myself computer suddenly decided its memory was completely full.  WTH?!!!

Over a period of days, I set about running Windows diagnostics, deleting and transferring files to my flash-drive, and uninstalling the games I hardly play (from Big Fish Games); then, I tried to defragment both the registry and the disk to no avail - "insufficient memory".  Even more puzzling because after deleting and moving files and applications, I actually had less on the computer than a few months ago when all seemed to be "hunky-dory".  Hmmm... This was now beyond my level of expertise.

Finally, in a panic, (mostly because my online studies were forced to a standstill), on Tuesday, 16th April, I packed it up and took it to my local Geek Squad counter.  The techs hinted they thought my hard drive or RAM may have gone bad.

I bit my lip in angst at having to hand over my "electronic baby" to the care of the Geek Squad techs for diagnosis and repair.

"How long do you think it'll take?"
"About 4 - 7 days."
"Ummm... could you make it closer to 4? I'm in the middle of online coursework."
"Sorry, ma'am, but no."
[Huge sigh]
"Our tech may be able to look at it today, but probably won't be able to really look into it until Thursday."

(This occurred just six months after my original Geek Squad year of service contract expired.)

In a horrible moment of realization I thought, 'I really can't be without my computer!' So, to avoid potentially incurring more diagnostic/repair expenses in the future, I renewed the Geek Squad service contract for another year.  Thus, my laptop was admitted to "computer hospital".  

I waited with baited breath for a few days for word on its status.  By Sunday, 21st April, no word had yet arrived.  I called.

My laptop was actually infested with all manner of viruses! Even my Kaspersky Anti-Virus software was infected with nasty viruses! It took them a whole week to remove them all; several had to be manually removed!

Last Wednesday, 24th April, my laptop was discharged from Geek Squad "hospital" and seems to be running just like new again!

When my boyfriend picked it up for me, he asked the Geek Squad Tech why people go to all the trouble of infecting computers with viruses?  The basic short answer: money.  Money for anti-virus software companies.  Scary thought.  Such activities are, or should be considered criminal.  Some people would even put a color to it: "white collar crime".  However, crime is crime, regardless of the collar's color.  Imagine the true good that could be done if such skills were used more constructively.

Having said that, recently, I read an article about "body snatchers" in a macabre underworld in the 19th century East End of London: corpses were dug up, stolen, and sold on the black market for medical/scientific research purposes.  While the double-edged sword of that reality itself is gruesome to say the least, the knowledge gained in that dark practice, is still widely used.  Indeed, without the knowledge of anatomy, the fields of health care and medicine would not have so vastly expanded to what it is today, thereby saving millions of lives.

A troublesome thought to ponder.