Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Have a Fabulous new Year

I have started a long, reflective, and rather wordy post looking back over 2017, yet the more I think about it the less I feel I want to post it.   I have complained about the media coverage of being Trans, but just now I am thinking more about how blessed I am and how much I have enjoyed myself over the last year.   I have played in some wonderful concerts, I have great friends and a loving family, I had a lovely holiday. I have my health, I have work that I enjoy, somewhere to live, and a passion for what I do.

I am very blessed, over the last few days I have spent time with family, and friends old and new. I have been out to lunch a couple of time, I had a friend round to dinner, I have spent time with my Wife, my Daughter and one of my brothers. At time when I know a lot of people like me feel like social pariahs, rejected by family and friends, feeling lonely and isolated, I am indeed blessed.   I have no wish to gloat over people less fortunate, or hold myself up as a paragon, I am very aware that a few years ago I found myself alone, lonely, feeling rejected and valueless. My reflection is that things do get better! Just as I have said after Christmas the days get longer and the sun gets warmer and summer is on it's way, then in the same way if we can get through it after the bad times good ones come.

There are things I want to achieve over the next year, I know that I have some big decisions to make, I know that a lot is going to change, and I know that I will make some mistakes; but for now I am just going look to the next few weeks, make sure that I am fabulous and wish you all a very happy and fabulous new year!

Now I just need to decide what I'm going to wear to my friends tonight as we celebrate the dawn of 2018, although I do hope we won't actually see the dawn!

Thursday, 28 December 2017

I wish I was a Girl

So Christmas is over, all the mince pies have been consumed, and by now all tat will be left of the turkey may be a bit of soup.   My Christmas was quite free of either, but it was good, I spent it with a good friend, we relaxed, exchanged gifts and ate and drank far too much.  

My friend has a passion for Rock music, not one I particularly share but ever now and then our taste coincide, if your idea of a Pink Fairy is tiny, pretty, and pink, with gossamer wings then this band may come as a surprise to you.   I remembered this track while researching something else, and thought the album would make the perfect present for this friend. I didn't want a modern CD copy but original vinyl, I searched and searched and found a copy on e-bay, then eagerly awaited delivery, it arrived in the nick of time on Saturday (the 23rd). Just time for me to wrap the gift and take with me.

I thought for once I had bought the perfect present, something my friend would really want.    I was right! He wanted it so much he had already bought it.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Advent Calendar XXV

Happy Christmas!

Wishing everyone of us a very happy Christmas, and hoping that you all get exactly what you wanted, or maybe better still what you needed!
At Some point today I will be enjoying lunch with my friend, this year we will be having duck, so maybe he did heed the plea, the plea to give geese a chance!

I know I will be enjoying myself and am hoping that all of you will be as well, I am also rather pleased that I seem to be a bit more popular than I had realised, this is certainly the most Christmas cards I have received for a long time ~ round here I have to say that it is finally beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Advent Calendar XXIV

Well we're almost there, quite frankly as far as I'm concerned if it isn't done by now it's not getting done, I will be dropping off a couple of presents on my way to pick up my friend to go to Midnight Mass (His turn to choose so looks like it'll be Roman Catholic) but that's it for me.

My flat is filled with the smell of a herb loaf baking and the sound of the washing machine spinning ~ not particularly festive, but that's home!

All I really need now to make life complete is some festive trombones!

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Advent Calendar XXIII

But Santa, I HAVE been good!
So now it's time to celebrate what for many people is the true meaning of Christmas ~ Presents.   I will admit to not being a great gift giver, I do rather feel that all too many people spend all too much money on gifts.   Spending money they don't have on gifts that aren't wanted, for people they don't like.   I am simply trying to give some of the people I really like, things that I think they would really like, but probably won't buy for themselves.

I have just about bought and wrapped my presents, if I haven't bought it by now then I'm not going to, I did think about trying to pick up a last few items, but the idea of going shopping today just horified me too much.   Having said that yesterday I took the friend I am spending Christmas with shopping and we were pretty surprised by how civilised it all was.   The queues were not too bad, there was a lot of stock on the shelves and most people were in reasonable moods.

I just feel a bit sorry for all of those working in retail. Long hours, horrible customers, and worse of all the endless loop of Christmas pop music.   Why is that at this time of year we abandon all sense of musical criticality and are prepared to listen to such total tosh?

So am I now ready for Christmas? To be honest I was ready weeks ago, since I'm the guest and not the host again this year there's not a lot that needs to be prepared, I have my presents wrapped and I have finished playing with my balls, all I actually need to now do is pack my overnight bag!

Friday, 22 December 2017

Advent Calendar XXII

I have written a lot over Advent about my heavenly Father, and quite right too since Advent is a Christian Festival in preparation for Christmas, but we will often think of Christmas as a time for Children and a time for Family, I will not be spending any of Christmas with my family this year. My Brothers will be doing their own things, and my wife and daughter will both be spending Christmas with their Mother.   This is not a plead for sympathy, I will not be alone but will be with a very good friend, no it is more of an introduction to some thoughts on family.

I have heard so many incidents recently of families split through lack of acceptance, parents who will not accept their transgender or gay child, and end up excluding themselves from their child's life. grand parents cut off from their grandchildren through marriage breakdowns and enmity.   Personally, both as a parent and a child I simply can't understand how people can bare to be separated from the love of their parents, children or siblings.   Now my own family has hardly been a beacon of functionality, but we do communicate, we do make an effort to be nice to each other, even if many of us do have problems with displays of affection we mostly do our best.  

Gerard van Honthorst
At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. We contemplate what it must have been like to be born in such humble circumstances, we think of the Shepherds coming in adoration, we think of the wise men bringing gifts, we think of Mary tired but happy, we think about the angels singing ~ but very little thought goes to Joseph.   Joseph is pivotal to the whole of Jesus Birth and life, he modeled how to be a man, he trusted not only God but also Mary, he trained Jesus into his trade and gave him the necessary love and support to undertake His ministry.   Yet after the nativity story we hear nothing of Joseph, he is allowed to disappear form the story.

Yesterday I had a couple of experiences which reminded me just how much I miss my own Father, he died over 25 years ago, yet not a week will pass when I don't miss him.   I will see something and think "I must tell Dad about...." or I will want to ask for his opinion or advise.   In our family it was Dad we went to for affection, Mum was the practical one but Dad was more likely to give us a hug or a sweet. My Mother is still alive, but is now in a nursing home with advanced Alzheimer's, so I now often find that there are things I want to talk to Mum about as well but can't any more, her advise, her experience, maybe even her blessing. Neither of my parents met the authentic me as I now am, I am sure they would have struggled with the very concept of transgender, never mind that one of theirs would be trans.   I am also quite sure that they would have loved and cherished me whatever.

El Greco
When my first school couldn't teach me to read and wanted to send me to a "special school" (for the educationally subnormal as it was so delightfully known back in the 60s) my Mother taught me to read and got me into the school where she taught.   When I was the first in my family to learn an orchestral instrument and needed support and help, they were with me all the way.   When I decided against the expectation of University they stood by me and supported me.   So I am quite sure they would have supported me now.   In turn it is my duty as well as my joy to support my daughter as she works out who she is, what she wants to do with her life, and maybe who she wants to spend it with.   Whatever she chooses I will do my best to support and love her, maybe I will do a bit better now that I can also love and support myself.

My Father modeled to me how to be a man and a father, through his behaviour he has also shown me, at least in part, of what it means to be a woman. I hope that with the help and unconditional love of my heavenly Father I can mange to show my daughter what it means to be honest and true to yourself, to satisfy your own innermost needs and through that be a loving caring authentic person herself.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Advent Calendar XXI

As we get ever closer to Christmas Day itself, and the end of Advent these posts don't get any easier!

Each day after I post on the Blog I then share the post on Facebook and then share it around various groups I am part of.   Some of these groups are Transgender ones, some are musical, and some are faith base: and of course some of then are more than one of those.   Yesterdays post was about gardening so I thought I would see if there were any groups fro Transgender Gardeners, so did a search on FB ~ it appears that once again like Tigger I am the only one, then I did a Google search on the same phrase, once again Paula's Place topped the list so I can now claim to be at least two Googlewacks!   I am a little nervous of Googling "Lady Gardeners"

I tend to share with the group that the post is relevant to, so Christian posts go on the Christian groups, trans posts go on the trans groups, music posts go on the music groups etc. etc. I just wonder if I should be sharing everything more widely, or whether I should be less self promoting?

I understand that here in the UK today is the winter equinox, the shortest day, and the longest night.   Not of itself a happy time, but is around now that the days start to get a little longer, if not warmer!  

It starts to feel reasonable to look forward to summer and the long, warm, sun filled days.   This week as I have put on my thermals, sweater, body warmer, and fleece it seems hardly possible that it is only a few months ago that I was I was going to work just wear some pretty short shorts and a cami top! But things will get better, the days will get longer and the weather will get warmer!

We all need something to look forward to, and for me that's what Christmas is all about ~ looking forward to something better. That is why the early Christians attached Christmas to the existing Yule festivals, because they too are all about looking forward, but as a Christian I am not just looking forward to summer, I'm looking forward to growing ever deeper in relationship with God, enjoying His unconditional limitless love and His presence with me for ever.

That is the promise of Christmas.

Advent Calendar XX

My Office today!   I have now finished work for the year unless I get a better offer! Yesterday (The day when this should have been posted) was all about cutting back very overgrown laurel a very hard dense wood that soon blunts the chain on my saw, but the day before was a nice day doing some proper gardening.

I do get a little annoyed when asked "What do you do in the winter" or when a customer asks me to "Put the garden to bed till spring". In a well organised, well planted and planed garden there should be something going on all year round. With Dog Woods, winter flowering Viburnums, cowslips and pansies there should be no shortage of colour, the dead flower heads of flowers like Sedums and Hydrangeas can be quite beautiful especially when frosted  ~ add in some good structure and a garden should be a thing of beauty all year round.

These two photos were both taken in the same front garden in Bromley this week, why be dull brown and boring from November to March when you can have interest and colour?

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Advent Calendar IXX

I know I posted this picture the other day illustrating my post on presents, and I know I post a lot pictures of scantily clad Betty Boop.   One thing that has not changed with my transition is my fondness of Betty. I like the way (when properly drawn) she is naughty, but somehow still quite innocent. ~ Sort of Naughty but Nice.   I will also admit that now I wouldn't mind some of her attributes!

But I am very aware that a lot of things have changed since my transition, including my attitude to underwear! It used to all be lingerie, lots of satin, bows, and lace, all very impractical. I still like satin, lace, and bows, but now practicality comes a lot higher on my priorities list.

I still like to dress up in something nice and slinky, I like to feel a bit sexy, even though I have no intentions of doing anything about it, it is nice to feel desirable and I think it would be nice to feel desired. But these days I mostly dress for comfort, jeans and a sweater, or if I'm going outside jeans and three sweaters! My underwear reflects that as well, these days I am often to be found with my thermals on, especially when I'm working.

Anyway; ~ what prompted all of this reflection was this picture of Betty, most of the Betty pictures show her scantily clad and being a bit naughty rather than attempting out and out erotic but this one has for me crossed the line ~ sure she is not showing any more flesh than in others so what is my objection.   Well, it's the suspenders! Like many of my generation there is something erotic about stockings and suspenders, maybe it was growing up with the image of Sophia Loren in The Millionairess, but whatever it is that is responsible they are definitely erotic, I know it when I see them, and I know it wear them.

But my complaint about this picture is not just that! it's how they are worn! Clearly this was drawn by a man, no woman would ever have the suspenders outside the pants (panties for the Americans) I mean how would the poor girl ever manage to go to the loo!?

Monday, 18 December 2017

Advent Calendar XVIII

The great day gets ever closer, and closer I now find it is now only a week away!   I realise that even though I am once again not catering this year there is still stuff I should be doing to be prepared. I have sent out my business Christmas cards, but have not bought any presents, I have the wrapping paper but nothing to put in the parcels.   I have bought some wine to take with me when I go away, but I still need to make a trifle, or at least buy the ingredients to assemble, there always seems to be so much to do!

With all these preparations I begin to worry once again about the pressures on people to conform to the idea of having a good ~ or even worse a perfect Christmas.   It is certainly a time of enforced conviviality which can be very difficult for those who aren't in the mood for celebrations; the hungry; the lonely; the homeless; the bereaved; yet these are the very people that Jesus was born to help.

Right at the beginning of his ministry he visited his home town and was asked to read in the synagogue, the passage he read was from Isiah

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour"

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" 

We often say that Christmas is for the children, or maybe a time for family, but if we look at who Christmas is really for it those who are most easily excluded from our celebrations. 

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Advent Calendar XVII

Last night I went out for a very nice dinner at a local carvery with some good friends, we had a lovely time, with lots to talk about as we hadn't had a chance to get together for a while.   We had such a nice evening that we have decided to make sure we do it more often, so if we haven't met up again by the end of January I give full permission to you all to nag me!

I may have been a little over dressed for the occasion, but hey! it's Christmas, and I was only taking your advise!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Advent Calendar XVI

Like  I said yesterday I am often inspired by other bloggers, today I am inspired by my friend Joey who has posted about gifts.    In fact he was posting about the worst gifts, but I am thinking more of the good ones.   I am sure that like most of us I have made some big errors with some of the gifts I have bought ~ it took me a while to realise that if I was going to buy any sort of clothes for my wife I was better off doing it while she was present!

I was also not too impressed when both of my brothers decided that the best way to foster my daughter's growing interest in music was to buy her a variety of percussion instruments ~ when she was only four!

When I was a child I always found that my Father was the hardest person I knew to buy presents for, every thing he wanted he had, he would buy, or none of us could afford. A few years ago I realised that it was now my turn to occupy that position, yet at least one of my friends managed one of the best present ever a couple of years ago; and of course the big banner at the top of this page is The Best Present, made for me by my Daughter a couple of years back.

I have now got to the point in life where my expectations are pretty low, in all honesty I am so pleased that anyone thinks to go to the effort to buy me something that any gifts are more than gratefully accepted.  It would be nice to get something luxurious and expensive, to feel pampered and cherished, but just to be thought of is enough!
But of course at Christmas we remember that God didn't just remember our existence, he didn't just get us a token calendar or diary, indeed he didn't really consider what we wanted; NO He gave us what we needed.  In Jesus Christ God gave the World what we all need, a chance, access to himself and something to look forward to.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Advent Calendar XV

When I am deciding what to write about here I am often inspired by other blogs. Rather than simply relate some of my own experiences I will muse on the things others have stirred in my mind.   Today will be one of those days, over on Stana's Femulate Blog she has a picture of a girl in a red dress with the caption "You haven't done the holidays until you've worn this hue" This may well solve one of my current problems.

Tomorrow night I will be going out to dinner with a couple of my friends, and I am facing the perennial question of what to wear. Until relatively recently I could just look in my wardrobe and select a suitable dress that they hadn't seen me wear before.   This Christmas I am realising that I have very little in the way party frocks that my good friends will not have already seen.   I have several "Cocktail" dresses, in white, black, black and silver, and black and white.   I have evening gowns in Green, Black and Red, I have a variety  of day dresses in a variety of hues, I have suits, sun dresses, trousers and tops. I have far too many clothes many of which can be worn in a variety of combinations.   I enjoy clothes and I enjoy shopping for them, but over the last year I have managed to curb some of my excesses and most of what I have bought comes under the heading of practical.

Maybe this is an opportunity to wear a dress I have had for a few years but don't wear very often, not least because I do feel a little conspicuous when I do wear it. But since it does seem to be the colour for the season I may just give it an airing! ~ What do you think?

This photo goes all the way back to Christmas 2014, looking at it I haven't changed that much in the intervening years, but it does remind me that I need to replenish the colour in my hair, so maybe I will get on and do that now, before I go out tonight for another dinner with another group of friends!

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Advent Calendar XIV

I think this must be one of the strangest Betty Christmas pictures I have yet seen,   I must be getting old since my first thought is "She must be cold dressed like that!"

Anyways; yesterday I commented on how unfeminine I felt until a random comment from a stranger, it really did do me a power of good. After work I had to go straight to a medical appointment, and then today I had two more.

So in the last couple of days I have had facial electrolysis, an injection in the bottom, and my first mammogram.   I'm sure that some would say that this is a certain "rights of passage" for me as a woman, all I can say is thank goodness that I will never need a smear test!

I know that some trans women morn the fact that they will never be able to "enjoy" the full experience of being a woman, given that I have spent many years married to one and nearly as many as the parent of one, I am heartily glad that I will never be able to experience many of the physical aspects of womanhood!

Maybe one of the things I like about Betty is that she never seems to experience the less fun aspects of being a woman either ~ Including getting ageing!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Advent Calendar XIII

I started the day feeling old, cold, fat and ugly.   From the work point of view this is not a good time of year, which in turn means that it can be pretty miserable financially as well.   Anyway today was very much a working day, although not ideal I was working outdoors in a customers garden, of course this means I was dressed appropriately, with work boots, jeans, thick roll neck pullover, body warmer and fleece (not to mention the thermal unmentionables); more or less the same outfit that caused one of my surprised friends the other day to exclaim "Goodness! You're dressed as a man!"

Add to that I have an electrolysis session tomorrow so have not shaved since Sunday I was feeling far from glamorous! I had to pop out from my customer to pick up some insulation for her outside tap, as I was leaving B & Q there was the inevitable double glazing sales guy there, as I indicated that I had no interest what so ever in his products he just smiled nicely and wished me "a Happy Christmas Madam"   I will admit that this cheered me up so much that the rest of the working day went past a lot easier.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Advent Calendar XII

Looking back over this Blog I realise that this will be the third Christmas I will have spent in my new flat ~ so maybe it's not quite so new now!   I have also realised that even though I always used to have at least a tree when I was still in the house the closest I have got to any sort of decorations is putting up the few Christmas cards I get.

I have decided that this year will be different and I am treating myself to some seasonal decorations, I'll probably not manage a tree like I did three years ago but I do at least have some holly after reducing the size of a holly tree by about two thirds last week.

I have also bought some nice shinny baubles, but my original idea for them won't work so now I have to come up with another plan.

Even with just a  little bit of holly and my solitary Christmas Card it is already beginning to look just a little bit like Christmas!

Since the temperature outside has just risen to one degree I am quite happy that I have no garden work scheduled today so maybe I will try to sort something out with my balls!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Advent Calendar XI

I find it very easy to get depressed, and the older I get the easier it is.   All of my life I have always been able to look forward to something, something that would make life better, maybe it would just be payday, or a holiday; maybe it would be something more dramatic, a pay rise, moving to a better home, or something totally life changing like getting married, or becoming a parent.

Every now and then I look at my current life, my little flat and micro business which just about keeps the wolf from the door, and wonder "is this it? is this as good as it gets?"   I can't see how I am ever going to earn enough money to make any substantial improvement in my living conditions, I don't expect to find myself in another romantic relationship, or indeed to have an "easier" life.   The life I currently live is not one I ever expected or anticipated, I suppose like most of my generation I expected more or less what my Parents had, or maybe slightly more.

Then I remember that Christmas is coming, and what that means to me. We celebrate the birth of Christ at the worst time of the year, when the days are short, the weather horrible, and there's little in the way of fresh food ~ traditionally before we imported everything it would be root vegetables and soft old apples. But after Christmas the days start to get longer, we start to look forward to the spring, planting the new crops, lambing, and new life. After Christmas we can look forward to summer, even now that is the time of year when we start to see holidays being advertised!

For me Christmas means that everything starts to get better ~ yes the days are longer and I can look forward to spring ~ but I am also looking forward to Easter, to being allowed into God's presence, to being freed, forgiven, and blessed.   Yes Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and without it we couldn't have Easter, we would not have the knowledge of God's love, of being adopted into His family, and of something better to look forward to.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Advent Calendar X

So now getting up to date, yesterday I played my final concert of the year on Tuba.   It was a genuine Christmas concert based on the Twelve Days of Christmas, it was great fun, if a little cold, and even gave me a chance to play some music I have never played before. Although my last concert on Tuba it was not my final performance by any means, next Saturday I will be leading the Croydon Brass Band playing carols in Thornton Heath; and of course next Sunday I will be playing trombone with the wonderful London Gay Symphony Orchestra, the first not really a concert and the second not really Christmassy!

And lunchtime today I was out with Cross the Line playing at St Christopher's Hospice we are a Christian Jazz/Blues Band who play for the Hospice, Churches and other organisations. Our music is a form of witness, as well as fun, I am hoping hat over the next year or so we will be able to take our music into more diverse environments
These days I rarely remember to get any photos to illustrate the blog, so I was very pleased that our Alto Sax player took this one while he had a bit of a break.

Advent Calendar IX

I am a day late, and still have to dash, more will follow but to keep you happy in the mean time here is some Betty!

If you want to take this as a hint ~ well, feel free!