Trevor Vincent – what have you done?

Sketchbook

Just a few days ago, my friend Trevor pointed out a cracking little video about sketchbooks and journals, and since then I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. Now it’s forming itself into yet another New Year’s Resolution:

  • to do a drawing – or anything visual – every single day and post it on the web.

At first quite a lot of my drawings will be for my ‘Beetroot’ children’s book project, because I’m challenging myself to do one of them every day until I get the book finished.

I don’t want to stop at that. I have ideas for many more things this year. I’m determined to conquer lino-printing, and also have more ideas to resurrect my character ‘Brixham Bill’.

I need to make sure I do something every day, even the smallest of doodles.

Where to put them?  I couldn’t choose between Tumblr or Pinterest, so I’m creating a visual journal on both.

Have a look: Sketchbook Journal on Tumblr, or Sketchbook Journal Board on Pinterest.

So, curses Trevor Vincent! You’ve inspired me to add another thing to my list for 2014.

Back to the hand

After twenty plus years of using a computer to generate all my graphics and illustrations, I’ve re-discovered my hand. Where has it been all these years?

These last few months I’ve been working on my ‘Black Hole in the Beetroot’ children’s adventure series, and I’m loving losing myself in the ink and wash illustrations.

As well as re-discovering my hand, I’ve finally discovered time-management. I’ve been labouring under a misapprehension these last four decades. It’s a misapprehension that has been a scandalous thief of my time and energy. It was the assumption that each of my days look like this:

Daily enery assumption

when actually they look like this:

Actual daily energy

Every morning I would completely waste my sparkling, creative time doing mundane tasks, usually washing up and cleaning the kitchen from the night before. By the time I had finished my washing up, washing, food prep, shopping, and more, I was well into my ‘Can do mundane tasks’ section.

Now I’ve shifted things around a bit and it’s made all the difference. I make it a rule to get straight on with drawing and writing as soon as I’ve got up and finished my ‘morning pages’ (another story).

I’ve discovered I can do mundane tasks even right into my ‘Useless’ bit of the day, so washing up, and even the week’s big shop, have been relegated to the evening.

I can’t believe how this simple adjustment has changed my life? Why didn’t I do it years ago?

Yet another direction…

This blog is going to career off in yet another direction. First it was recipes, then it was cancer, now it’s going to be MY BOOK!

Yesterday I completed and uploaded my first self-published book to Amazon Kindle.

It’s a ripping science fiction yarn for 6-11 year old readers, fully illustrated.

Cover of 'The Black Hole in the Beetroot'.I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself from now on. It’s been great getting up really early and immersing myself in an illustration. I got in a routine of doing one a day, preparing it in the morning and colouring in at night in front of the TV.

I’d better make a start on ‘Beetroot II, the sequel’…

I might be along the right lines after all

I’m working hard at my immune system, especially hoping to get my ‘T Cells’ in fighting order so that they can eat up my cancer cells.

Research publication this week shows that I might be along the right lines:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23646-antibody-wakes-up-tcells-to-make-cancer-vanish.html#.UeJ3tlMyHJIand

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/exclusive-cancer–a-cure-just-got-closer-thanks-to-a-tiny-british-company–and-the-result-could-change-lives-of-millions-8707590.html

So, there’s not only a ‘tiny British company’ working on this, there’s a not-so-tiny, short British woman doing her bit, too.

What am I doing?

  • Good nutrition
  • Daily exercise
  • Extreme cleanliness, with daily ‘Dettol’ baths and saunas a few times a week.

The last bit’s my own invention! I don’t want my T cells chasing common bacteria around when they should be concentrating ON THE JOB IN HAND! Ridding my body every night  of skin-born bacteria seems the way to go.

All I can say is at the moment it seems to be working.

Image

Bisphospho-bloody-amazing-phates!

As I have bone metastases, ‘bone pain’ was the first symptom I had that showed I was in trouble. Symptoms were a leg that felt strained at the top, and made we walk like a table, and REALLY bad back ache.
I’ve now finished chemo and radio therapies, but ongoing (till it ‘stops working’ – don’t like the sound of that) I’m having monthly infusions of bisphosphonate. I don’t quite understand how it works – it stops my clasts blasting* or something – but the results are fantastic.
The positive effect seems to have built a little with each infusion, and this week I’m delighted to announce that I feel ‘normal’, except that my ‘normal’ is better than it used to be because I’m 70lbs lighter. On Monday I walked 7 miles, and helped to water the allotment, which is a back breaking task even for a healthy individual. Tuesday it was just a 3 mile walk, with more watering. It’s hard to remember I could barely walk across the room a year ago, and couldn’t even put on my own pants. I used to try to don my pants with a walking stick, but it always ended in hopeless twiddling, like one of those plates on sticks stunts beloved by circuses.
I just wanted to put a little positive note up here, because so many of us write about gruelling treatments etc, but rarely write about their effects, and how sometimes they actually work!

*Bone undergoes constant turnover and is kept in balance (homeostasis) by osteoblasts creating bone and osteoclasts destroying bone. Bisphosphonates inhibit the digestion of bone by encouraging osteoclasts to undergo apoptosis, or cell death, thereby slowing bone loss. (Wikipedia)

Quinoa – the revenge of the saponins

My plant-based diet experiments have led me to try a number of different grains, including the wonder-seed quinoa. Last night I made myself a HUGE bowl of quinoa with vegetables and spices, and made a bit of a pig of myself.

Unfortunately it all came out again in the early hours of the morning. My body definitely wasn’t having any of it, and I was wracked with stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting until every little bit was gone. As I fell into a troubled sleep at about 4.0 am, I could almost hear my body saying ‘..and don’t do that AGAIN!’

A quick session with Google this morning showed that this isn’t an unknown problem with quinoa. Apparently the seeds are naturally coated with bitter ‘saponins’ that have to be washed off. Very THOROUGHLY washed off, too; putting the seeds in a sieve and vaguely waving them about under some running water definitely wasn’t thorough enough. I even read that they should be soaked for 7 hours in acidified water.

So, I’m never eating it again. It might be worth a try if I ever find myself wandering around the Andes in a state of extreme malnourishment, but apart from that I’m sticking to rice and pearl barley.