Paula's Place

Paula's Place

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Any Answers

20 bits of fluff
I first saw this post on Joey's Pad so I thought I'd steal it.

1.What was the last thing you put in your mouth?
(as the actress said to the bishop .... sorry, where was I?)
Well since I am writing this on Saturday morning while listening to that radio and contemplating what to have for breakfast, it was a cup of tea.   If I had written this last night of course it may well have been a very different answer.

2. Where was your profile pic taken?
As far as I can remember this was at an LGSO concert some years ago, so it would have been at St Sepulchres Without Newgate This ancient Church is known as "The Musicians Church" and contains the Nation Musicians Chapel and the Ashes of Sir Henry Wood.   Sadly the current PCC (Parochial Church Council) have plans to stop renting the Church out for secular concert performances, which will sadly diminish the musical life of the City. For the full story and a chance to sign the petition follow this link!
3. Worst pain you've ever experienced?
I am so tempted to say the broken heart I experienced when my first fiancĂ© left me, it was an emotional pain I thought I would never get over, but lets be honest a broken neck really, really hurts.   The result of a sports injury in my mid 20s which gave constant insufferable pain for several month and has left me with marginal discomfort or pain ever since
4. Favourite place you've traveled?

How to choose, I have travelled in Europe but not beyond so I have a limited number of choices, but also so many special places.   Carcassonne in the South of France is a magical place, I have revisited several time since my first time there as a child on a touring holiday with my parents.

Or maybe where I will be going again shortly Malta, the climate at this time of year suits me, the capital Valletta is a world heritage site, the food is good and the people are friendly.

I could go on, my time in Seville was very important, although shorter than planed, I have enjoyed stays in France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and of course here in the UK.   But for me I think my favorite place is the RHS Garden at Wisley in Surrey.   Certainly I have told my Daughter that if I am to be cremated this is where I want my ashes scattered.

5. How late did you stay up last night?
As a musician I am often out rehearsing or performing, yesterday was a rehearsal so I wasn't too late getting home, but did stay up to watch the Cricket highlights.   Once again I find that it was not last night when I when to bed but this morning.

6. If you could move somewhere else, where would it be?
I have often considered where else I might like to live, but always come back to the same basic area of South East London, whether it's actually Croydon or Penge or West Wickham it doesn't matter too much to me, I am pretty happy with my flat but I do miss having my own garden.

8. Which of your Blogger friends lives closest to you.
This has to be Joey, just as he sited me I can't think of any others who life closer, especially since many of my Blogging friends life the other side of the Atlantic. For me this is one of the joys of Blogging, a bit like having pen friends all around the World. 
10. When was the last time you cried?
I can't be sure, but I do know that I am crying much more often than I used to.   This is one of the many non-physical results of my HRT.   I am a sucker for a tear jerker movie so am careful about what I watch at the cinema so as not to embarrass myself too much.
11. Who took your profile photo?
Shamefully I cannot remember, we were having several photos taken at the concert, but I am not in may as I always seem to get hidden behind a pillar. I led this one as it shows me doing what I love most and covers up half my face.
12. Who was the last person you took a picture with?
I really don't know, . 
13. What's your favourite season?
The next one.   That's a real gardeners answer, we are always looking and planning forward, sometimes even to the extent of failing to enjoy the present.   Each season holds it's attractions, and indeed it's demerits as well, but most of all I love the changes between the season, the first growth of early spring, the fresh peonies and explosion of blossom if early Summer and the changing leaves and late blooms of late summer early Autumn.
I love to watch Cricket, but Rugby has a special place in my heart so if forced I would choose the Rugby Season, and since that now includes the changes between Summer and Autumn, Autumn and Winter, as well as all of Spring and now early Summer as well .
14. If you could have any career, what would it be?
I truly love my work, but it would be nice to have a higher, reliable income, along with paid holidays and a pension scheme. I tried being a professional musician and an amateur gardener, but have found it works better for me the other way round, I still have the uncertain hours and income, but at least I can choose what music I play now rather than always follow the money.
I hope that's true of me too.
15. Do you think relationships are ever worth it?
I will be positive on this and say yes! Certainly a friend in need can be a pain in the arse, but having somebody to share things with, to be quite with is important to me.   Like many people I have had some pretty disastrous relationships, but those that have stayed with me ~ my Brothers, Daughter and Wife, are important to me.   
16. If you could talk to ANYONE right now who would it be?
This is difficult, my first thought is my Dad, he died 25 years ago, and so never saw me married, never met his Grand Daughter, and never knew of my transition. I can't say that I think he would understand, but I'm sure that he would show his love and want me to be content in live. 
17. Are you a good influence?
I'm not sure that I'm and influence at all, good or bad.   I don't know what sort of a role model I would be for anyone, I'm not very diligent or organised, I'm lousy with money, drink too much, and don't even manage to always dress appropriately so I suspect I'm more likely to be a bad influence than a good one.. 
18. Does pineapple belong on pizza?
Not really, but I don't have strong views on the matter.

19. You have the remote, what channel?
Most likely BBC2 or 4, but most of the TV I watch these days is either sport (Cricket, Rugby or Motor Sport ~ not that other silly game) or stuff I have recorded to catch up with later. 
20. Whom do you think will play along?
Probably no one who hasn't already.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Googlewhack ~ Still leading the World

The other day I decided that I would check up on my strap line, the claim that I am the World's leading Transgender Bass Trombone and Tuba playing Christian Gardener.   I started with a google search for "Transgender Tuba Player" I should warn you not to do this if you are sensitive about your search history as some of the results are strange to say the least.

THE Transgender Tuba Player
In rehearsal at St John's Smith Square
I was happy to stop at this one search as I was actually the only result that was about a Transgender Tuba Player, I think this means that I may lay claim to be the World's Leading (out) Transgender Tuba Player even before I add in all the other qualifiers.   I thought this would make me a "Googlewhack"

Now a Googlewhack is a two word search in google that only returns one result, Dave Gorman had a lot of fun with this, making a whole series on the subject.   But since it is limited to two words I went on the check a couple of searches ~ "Transgender Tuba" and "Transgender Tubaplayer" interestingly I did not come up on either (although I do rather dominate the photo results ~ of course neither did any other transgender tuba players, just a lot of very strange stuff. This all makes me wonder about how the search engines work, and what searches they are used to.    Maybe it is best to stay in ignorance.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Turning Green

Monday night was my regular rehearsal night with Croydon Brass, with a few members away numbers were a little down, but that has to be expected every now and then; after all, even I'm going on holiday in a few weeks.   We spent most of the rehearsal running through some new arrangements I've been working on, I thought this would help me to know how the arrangements work and give the band something fresh to play.

Quite a while back I put together a simple arrangement for woodwind of Barwick Green, The Archers theme tune, it didn't work too well so I just let it sit and never really finished it.   With a bit of fiddling around I adapted it for our Brass Band, and even though I say it myself it sounded pretty good.   Now I have to finish the whole thing but on coming home and looking I can't find the original sheet music I was working from.   I suspect that it may have got lost when I moved a couple of years ago, so now I have had to order another copy and so won't be able to complete the arrangement till it arrives.

One of the reasons I am arranging specially for the band is that we are short of a few players, especially cornets, it's all a little frustrating remembering how the band used to be back it's hey day with a full compliment.   Having said that just two more cornet players would make a massive difference, we could even lend them instruments.

It always used to be quite usual for a brass band to have a set of instruments, and just before I joined the band in the late 70s Croydon Co-Op Brass Band as it was then had just bought a complete set of new Boosey and Hawkes Imperials, many of these fine instruments are still there but in the intervening years some have been sold, some updated, and some simply lost track of.   We still have some very fine instruments and are quite happy to lend them to players who for one reason or another don't have their own. Whether it's through having had to return an instrument after changing band or leaving school or maybe somebody not having played for some time and fancy having another go it would be good to hear these instruments being played again.

Monday, 25 September 2017

My Office Today

Well of course not actually today, these photos were taken on Friday, a long day, and indeed one that managed to carry on into Saturday Morning.

Maybe a quarter way through
The job should have been a simple one, scarifying a lawn, well actually three, but the two in the front of the house aren't so big; the back lawn is big, and I suspect hasn't been raked for some time, there was certainly enough work in it to be worth hiring a petrol scarifyer.  

I'm not sure what surprised me most, the amount of moss and "thatch" which I got out, the amount left, or the time it took.   "Green Thumb" had visited since I was here two weeks before to cut the grass, I had expected them to include a moss killer in their Autumn treatment, but apparently they only include that in the December treatment. REALLY! kill the moss in December, let the dead moss sit there and then regrow before I go back in March or April to start cutting the grass.

I didn't schedule any other work for the day, but had hoped I might get another job done, as it happened I didn't get through till nearly eight by which time it was way too late to take any after photos, indeed I was struggling to see at all.

The original plan was to run the scarifyer over the grass, then follow with the lawn mower to cut the grass and pick up the moss and thatch pulled up.   The debris was far too thick and heavy to be picked up by the mower, rather, I feared that the weight of the mower would push it all back in.   So instead I used my blower to get in into piles and then bagged it up, before finally going over with the mower to pick up the rest, cut the grass, and give a decent finish.

If I had had the light I would have taken a photo of all the sacks I filled, but by then I was tired and it was dark, I had nine of my large green woven sacks (see photo above) each a bit over a meter cubed, then a further 14 used compost sacks; too many to fit in the van, Saturday morning I had to return the scaryfier to the hire shop, drop a load of waste off at the recycling centre, return to the job to collect the rest of the waste and then make another journey to the recycling centre.

But apparently no need for moss killer!

Friday, 15 September 2017

Bad Mood

I have written a few time recently about fresh starts, new experiences, and indeed the passage of time.   Much of this has been without reference to my transition, and I do understand that many of you come to read a gardening, or a music based Blog, but since Paula's Place did start out as a Trans Blog I think it is now time to come clean about my latest big change, or at least currently still immanent change.

Back in August 2011 (or over half a million hits ago!) when I started out here I considered myself a "Plain vanilla cross dresser" married with daughter, my own burgeoning business, and no intentions of changing any of that.   Now I consider myself a single Trans Woman, I transitioned socially a few years ago, and have now been taking hormone therapy for about 18 months, and my whole life is very different.   But then again I am very different, I am occasionally asked what effects the hormones are having, and I'm sure that the questioner is primarily interested in primary sexual characteristics, I general choose to disappoint them.   The things that strike me most are not just a couple of physical developments, as much as my mental state.   In simple terms I am no longer angry, all the time.   I was not even aware of this underlying and permanent state.   I just thought that was how life was, a little like before I had glasses I thought everybody saw the world as fuzzy, that was simply how it looked.   Now I know better.

Sure my skin is softer, my nails brake more easily, and most fun of all my sense of smell is so much better! But the more placid me is much nicer, and I am a better musician for it.   All this has happened through more hormonal changes, yet they are still well outside of "normal" levels, so I am now having some enhanced medication.   It will be interesting to see what will change next.   I am rather excited about all this, but it is also tempered with some apprehension; especially when I consider what the next stage of this strange journey will be if I choose to take it. 

Monday, 11 September 2017

Fresh Starts

In many ways it feels as though Summer is drawing towards it's conclusion here in South East England.   Temperatures are falling and day light hours are declining.   It feels as though we have had quite a lot of rain and wind, and some of the leaves are beginning to turn ~ don't be fooled by the horse chestnuts, their leaves having been turning very brown very early over the last few years due to the attentions of leave miners ~ this all makes me feel as though Autumn is about to be come in.   I shouldn't be surprised, I always used to think of September as the beginning of Autumn, the new school term starts, the Cricket season ends and the Rugby season starts, but over the last few years summer has extended well into September and even October, certainly at the moment I am still doing Summer jobs (dead heading, grass cutting, weeding etc.) and haven't started with Autumn pruning, planting or leave clearing. Long may it last, I enjoy every season in the garden, but I certainly earn more in Spring, Summer, and Autumn! In Summer the work is not too arduous, I can do longer hours, and wear my shorts!

Any one know what this is? it seems to be an annual
about 2.5 meters high,that grew up under a bird feeder.
The flowers look like a
Convolvulus to me but I can't find it in any of my books.
I haven't started yet today but looking outside I don't think I'll be wearing shorts today, and with my first customer I will be arranging a date to scarify their lawns ~ so this is a definite indicator.   The other big one for me is that my birthday is looming.  It's not a big one this year, but it is another year closer to my pension, at the moment I'm not at all sure what I will do on the day, strangely for a Saturday I don't have any Gigs planned so if anyone wants to send me a bottle of Champaign to aid the celebration feel free!   Last month both my Mother and Daughter had birthdays, they are now both of an age where every birthday is significant, and to be honest I'm not sure I envy either of them!

When I passed my last major milestone I decided that I had to address my Gender issues and start exploring what they actually meant and what I had to do about them.   I am now fast approaching a conclusion, after my last appointment with the GIC I find I need to make a decision, some would say the decision, I have to remind myself that this is not a one off chance where I need to give a definitive yes or no answer, I do have alternatives, including "Not Now"   Having said that I think I am approaching a conclusion, and maybe when I get back from my holiday next month I will have made up my mind. By then I will also have experienced a month on my adjusted medication, which may well also influence that decision.

I think it would be nice if I could get the whole thing sorted out within the decade, and then just get on with life.

I will be doing just that this evening as I take my second rehearsal with Croydon Brass, until we get our two new cornet players we are limited in our repertoire, so I have adjusted an arrangement I did earlier this year ~ originally conceived and arranged for clarinet choir it will be interesting to hear how it sounds on Brass!   I think I will be doing quite a lot of slaving over a hot stave over the next few months!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

I need a Dragon!

Ripple, "Helping" with the Blog
One of the things I have found since moving into my flat is the lack of companionship, not so much human companionship as the non-human.   We used to have cats, and then fish as well, when the cats left home the fish stayed, but in my new flat I just don't have space.   With plants on all the windowsill, books on the shelves, and tubas on the floor there is no room for an aquarium.   It may sound strange but I used to say "hello" and "goodnight" to them, watch them while I ate, or sometimes just sit and look.   Realistically I know I don't have the space, indeed ideally I would like to get rid of a couple of pieces of furniture, so any additions are definitely not on the cards.

A friend of mine keeps guinea pigs, another has hamsters, I even had a friend who kept ferrets, I don't think I'll be trying any of them.

Indeed I shall just have to get used to being on my own, with my plants and my clutter, that may be just as well since I am far from being the tidiest of people.   I do have a few stuffed animals, and I do have a few ornamental ones _ Ebony elephants, and china dragons, there may even be the odd dinosaur, but seeing todays Wizard of Id I thought I could do with a dragon like that!

Monday, 4 September 2017

Goodbye and Hello

It's been a funny old few days; ~ no change there then you may well think, but I have had a busy weekend with a couple of performances a couple of parties, and then tonight a rehearsal.   That may not sound so unusual for me but it has been packed with contrasts.

Lets start with the two parties, one on Saturday afternoon / evening and one on Sunday evening.   Saturday's was a birthday party for an old friend ~ I don't particularly want to embarrass him but it was a big one, and well worth celebrating.   It took me a while to actually believe the age he claims to be as I'm sure he must be younger than that!   It was a very civilised evening hosted in their lovely garden (for which I will claim some small credit) where I had a chance to catch up with some friends I haven't seen for some time.   As I had driven there I too was quite civilised and managed to display some self restraint for once.

I did feel as though I was dressed rather formally for such an event, but I had come straight from my first performance of the weekend.   I had been conducting the rather wonderful All Saints Concert Band at Ruskin Park in South London.   Over the last few years I haven't had many opportunities to conduct a whole concert so this was rather a special occasion.   This is a band I have been associated with ever since it first started back in the 1970s ~ I was very young at the time ~ and since then I have had two stints as assistance or associate MD, this concert represents the end of my second stint in the role.   Not because I am fed up with them, or indeed them with me, but because I have a new venture to pursue.

They were even kind enough to allow me to play Leroy Anderson's "The Syncopated Clock" rather a simple but jolly little piece, which was the first thing I ever conducted with them, or indeed anyone!

The next day I had to hit the road and get down to Herne Bay in Kent to play a band stand concert with the "Band of the Surrey Yeomanry".   It is a nice bandstand and one of my favorite bands to play with, and there was good ice cream!   The only fly in the ointment was that I was playing Euphonium, not my favorite instrument to play, and I'm well and truly out of practise on it.   Somehow I managed to get through without embarrassing myself too much, but by the end I did feel as though I had been continuously punched in the mouth!

I then made tracks back towards London for my second party of the weekend, this one celebrating a young couple getting engaged.  Certainly a contrast to the previous evening! definitely not as quiet and sedate, but once again it was good to catch up with some friends I hadn't seen for while.   Somehow I naturally gravitated to the end of the hall with the parents, aunts and uncles, I know my place!   It is encouraging seeing a young couple so in love, they just seem to be such a natural couple, I have to wish them a long and very happy life together.

So lots of contrasts, playing my forth (or fifth I lose count) choice instrument, final conducting performance with a band I have been around for over forty years, a sixtieth birthday party and an engagement party ~ quite a weekend.

Then tonight, my first rehearsal back as MD of Croydon Brass!   I used to conduct this band "in a previous life" but had to pull back for family reasons that simply don't exist any more.   So I was very pleased to be invited to take over again as my successor stepped down after several years in the role.   There are some of the same players I remember and a few new ones, there are also, of course, a few who have left.   This is a friendly band with a long history, but to continue we need to make a few changes, not least will be updating the website!   We have two or three performances scheduled before Christmas so we have plenty to work on, and then a whole new year ahead of us.

At the moment our first priority is to find a couple of cornet players, we aren't looking for star players (although I wouldn't turn them away) we just need two reliable, regular cornet players to come along on a Monday night; we'll even lend them an instrument!

I was a little nervous about returning to a post I held before, but after tonight I am quite excited about the future and putting on some great concerts with this band. In the mean time I had better get on with writing up my bio for the Band web site!

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Monthly Stats

In a month where stats may well include such important matters as Inches of rain fall, votes cast, average temperature rises my stats are a lot more mundane.

So here we go it's admit it time!

Weight 12 stone 7lb ~ 80 kg
BMI  25.3 over weight, but not by much
Units of Alcohol ~ too many, I am now back to just one alcohol free day per week
Chargeable hours worked 120

All this tells me that I am not very good at being good, have little or no self control and probably won't get into my gold swimming costume when I go on Holiday next month.

I know I will never look like this, and indeed never did or could have, but you can't stop an old girl dreaming!   I will be leaving the bikini at home, nobody needs to see that, indeed I don't know why I still have one, the original purchase comes under the heading of "it seemed like a good idea at the time" but the slightest bit of sober reflection shows it to be simply stupid.   Maybe I should consign it to the charity shop bag so I can use the wardrobe space for something more useful, like winter thermals!