Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Monday, 5 December 2016

Advent Calendar V

I always knew that this last weekend was going to be busy, very busy!    Saturday Morning I attended a BBC Broadcast of Saturday Live at the Radio Theatre in London. It was great fun, very interesting and rather nice to be in the audience for once. After that I was playing in a Band for a friend who was taking a conducting exam, that evening there was a birthday party I would have liked to attend, but I just can't keep up that pace any more.

Sunday morning I had a friend come round to the flat to measure up the bathroom for some serious corrective surgery. leaving just enough time to get up to London for a rehearsal for next week's Orchestra Concert. All of this after playing my first Christmas Concert of the year on Friday night.   Since I knew all of this was happening I prepared posts for Saturday and Sunday and set Blogger to post them automatically each morning.   The only problem being that I actually managed to set them to be published next month instead! WHOOPS!

Yesterday Jeni accused me of coming up with a tree to put others to shame, I really should have said that all the photos I used were stock ones, that I blagged from the good old Interweb.    Just to make an honest girl of myself here is a photo from a couple of years ago, when I did have a tree; admittedly an artificial one, and with a star at the top not an angel.

Advent Calerndar IV

Most of us have Christmas trees, and many of us will be putting them up this weekend. In my family it always used to be that we would just try to put as much bling on the tree as possible, we would have glass balls (Ow err Mrs) we would have tinsel of many colours, we would have home made decorations, stars made from cardboard and aluminium foil and of course fairy lights.    I remember that the ones we had well into the 70s were like little coloured plastic lanterns with a simple white bulb inside.   There was always an angel on the top and of course it was always, always a real tree.

We children always wanted the biggest tree possible, Mum always wanted something smaller so there wasn't so much mess to clear up.   Dad tended to side with us youngsters so it tended to be down to which one of them actually bought the tree. I remember one year Dad coming home with a tree so big that we had to cut the top off to fit it into the house, very exciting for a six year old!

As I grew older my tastes changed and I started to embrace the idea of single colour decorations, I would actively try to be a bit artistic in my decorations, less bling and less colours, but there was still always and angel on the top.

Now I am a little more reflective in my choices. Yesterday I saw my wife decorating her Church tree, plan white fairy lights with red balls, and gold balls, the main thing that did strike me about the tree though was it's size.   At about 14 foot tall it is large, but it has a large space to occupy and looked just right.   In some way I now think that the scale of the tree to the room is just as important as the decoration of the tree itself

And what does all this reflection lead too? I don't know, I have yet to decide if I will have any decorations at all this year.   Last year I had only just moved into my flat, this year I will be doing some work on it over the holidays so I may not bother, the previous couple of years I limited myself to a tree, maybe I will manage a wreath, maybe a small tree, maybe nothing. We'll just have to wait and see.

Advent Calendar III

Yesterday I was thinking about what to get people as Christmas present, A subject that takes up a lot of our time and emotional energy at this time of year; I believe often distracting us from what we are actually celebrating.

As well as a distraction from the mystery of the Transcendent become manifest (I suspect that there may be more of that later on in the Calendar). I fear that the exchange of gifts can get to be about more than a physical sign of our love or affection for one another.   Gifts can easily become more about the giver than the receiver.   They can be displays of taste, wealth, ostentatious generosity.   If there are to be any ostentatious displays at my Christmas they will be by me, and not of wealth!

I will be seeking to give gifts that will be appreciated by those receiving them, they will not be expensive, but I do hope they will be thoughtful and enjoyed.

I have already bought gifts for three people after my little shopping trip last weekend.   I hope that I will get the rest sorted out well before the deadline, I don't want to be stressed when it comes to Christmas, I want to enjoy the celebration, and the holiday, not be worried about gifts.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Advent Calendar II

Yesterday I started the thoughts about what is important at Christmas and Advent.   For many people, (not just Children) the true meaning of Christmas seems to be shopping and presents.   You may not be surprised to hear that I rather like the idea of rebelling against this.   I while back I heard somebody saying that within their friendship group and family they had adopted the idea that they would only exchange gifts at Christmas which they had made themselves.

I really, really liked this idea, I think it shows personal care and consideration for the person receiving the gift.   Effort and skill, rather than just money goes into making it. The very act of making something for somebody else is in itself an act of love.   I was giving serious consideration to how I would present this idea to my friends and family, when it occurred to me that there could be a downside. ~ Do I really want to receive something that my Brother made?

Which then leads on to the two questions, so what do I want for Christmas? and what am I going to give to those I love?

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Advent Calendar I

Yes! I's that time of year again!

Welcome to Paula's 2016 Advent Calendar.   Starting in the manner I mean to continue our first picture encapsulates some of the most important aspects of Christmas and Advent.

We have companionship, Christian worship, music, and of course Betty Boop!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Weighty Issues

I have put on weight! Well to be honest that's not so unusual for me at this time of year, as the weather cools down and work slows down I tend to eat more and do less, the trouble is that this year I didn't lose any over the summer, indeed I put a little on. So now I'm very much over my preferred weight.   Of course there is the simple vanity issue that I think I look nicer a little lighter, but there are also the two very practical issues.

I have so many clothes that I simply cannot afford to replace them with larger sizes.   Replacing a complete wardrobe is an expensive business, besides I like a my clothes and want to get more wear out of all of them, preferably without splitting the seams!  But of course most important is that I feel fat! I know from how I feel that a lot of things are taking a little more effort. I am finding it harder to get started and when I do I am finding it all a little more tiring. I am also constantly conscious of the growing size of my tummy!   

The strange thing is that having said all this I don't now how much I weight! Since getting back from holiday a few weeks ago my scales haven't been working.   I used them to check my suitcase before leaving but since getting home they seem to have given up the ghost!   This makes it a bit more difficult to set myself a goal, or to measure how I am progressing towards it, but I do know that I need to lose some, and had better start now, otherwise I will be the Christmas pudding!

Maybe I should be asking Santa to bring some new bathroom scales.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Four Candles

Yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent.   The Ecclesiastical calendar takes Advent as starting from the forth Sunday before Christmas Day, since the 25th December itself falls on a Sunday this year that makes Advent a bit longer than normal.   Advent is a period of preparation, of contemplation, but mostly of looking forward.   To mark each week as we approach Christmas we light a candle, so we end up with four candles for each of the four Advent Sundays and then a fifth central candle for Christmas day itself.

The secular calendar is a little simpler, it takes advent as being the 24 days prior top Christmas, starting on the first of December and building up each day to the great day itself. Maybe of us from the UK who are passed a "Certain Age" will remember the Blue Peter Advent Crown, each year made from wire coat hangers and tinsel, most of us have progressed from that level to something a little safer, but if you fancy making one for yourself then simply follow the instructions on the second link.

On the other hand here's a little treat for the rest of us.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Feeling Retro

Strangely this happened to me quite recently;~

I came across a teenager I know who had their ears plugged in and when I asked what they were listening to was rather surprised to find it was a Judas Priest album I had bought way back in the 70s and hadn't even expected them to have heard of never mind want to listen to; mind you, I think my parents generation were equally surprised when I started listening to big band jazz.

I was reminded of an incident a few years back, I had just bought a CD of Return to Forever Romantic Warrior when my Daughter came into the room and commented "I don't usually like your music, bit this is quite cool"

Monday, 21 November 2016

Special Days

Yesterday I went to Church in the morning, nothing unusual in that, I do practically every Sunday when I am at home.   I believe in collective worship, and corporate prayer, I also like the structure of a service and community of fellow believers.   Yesterday I did feel a bit conflicted though, it was the International Transgender Day Of Remembrance (as I think I may have mentioned before) I had contacted my Vicar (along with many others in the area) asking that the Trans community be remembered in prayers on this particular day.    Of all the Churches I contacted my own was the only one to reply, with a polite but firm decline.

I was left feeling rather conflicted, wondering if this meant that I was tolerated rather than embraced? was it just lip service being paid to inclusion? could it be personal?    Well I decided to go anyway, only to find on my arrival that yesterday was also the International Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians.   I can see that for a Church this would take precedence, we are all more aware of these special days when they directly bear on a community we feel part of.   If we are not connected then we will be exceedingly unlikely to know of these days.   Given that a large part of the idea is to make those who are not directly affected aware of the problems then somehow we need to do better.   As Rosalind said yesterday we need many, many more people to  be aware of this and want to mourn those who have died/been murdered and support, at least, work to reduce, nay eradicate, hate crime in the future.

After Saturday's event we (that is the members of TransPALS who were part of the organisation) did have a bit of reflection, the main thing we want to change is to increase the general awareness of trans issues, particularly around safety, we aim to do this through increasing the publicity prior to TDOR 2017 and hope that we will see a lot more people at our event then. We cannot help if there are clashes with other notable days or events, we can just work to make sure that ours is as widely known about as possible.

Sunday, 20 November 2016


Today is the International Transgender Day Of Remembrance (TDOR), in London and around the world there will be memorial events, candle lit vigils and ceremonies this afternoon and tonight.   Yesterday afternoon I led an event in Croydon.   We lit candles for the 87 fatal victims of trans hate crime around the world, the 87 who were recorded and verified through  Of those 87 names 65 (including 12 unnamed women) were from Brazil, 15 from the USA and 1 each from Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand and Turkey.  I do not for a moment believe these numbers, there are countries where crimes against Trans people are not recorded, there are many when it is not recorded as hate crime, or that the victim will not be recorded as trans, or indeed under their chosen gender.   Many events will have list running into the hundreds, these will still not be comprehensive.

Not for a moment do I believe these numbers, there are still way, way too many people being killed, raped, beaten up because of their gender identity, we need to note this; morn this; publicise this; and work to reduce this.   I may not be directly under threat but we all (all of society) are reduced by the violence that is offered instead of compassion.

As well as the 87 candles we lit one extra, large candle for all of those victims not recorded on the list.

On a personal level I was gratified by the attendance at our event and the support shown to us by members of the local LGBT community. We also had substantial support from the wider community, with friends, supporters and indeed the Deputy Mayor of Croydon all joining us.

This is an event we do not want to have to hold, but expect to have to for many years yet.   The last couple of years it has been run for and by the Trans community through my local support group TransPALS.    Our next event will be our Christmas dinner, that should be a lot more fun!