A busy day today, with a 'freecycle' meet-up, a 'Professor Fiddlesticks' gig and 2 social visits.
A few weeks ago, during the gales, a sheet of expanded polystyrene blew into our garden. It was too big to be called litter, so it didn't get tidied and put in the bin, it got put in the conservatory and we wondered what to do with it. Last week I was delighted to read on my 'Freecycle' email digest that someone wanted a sheet of polystyrene, so I offered it to him. Freecycle is great. You find your local Freecycle group on the net and sign up with your email address, and wait for the first emails. I wanted to get a block of up to 25 emails at once, and the messages are from people offering all kinds of things for free, and a few wanting free things. The aims are to stop items going into landfill which could be reused. All sorts of things are offered, from kitchen cabinets to childrens books, old computers suitable only for spares to as-yet-unwrapped (but unwanted) bathroom toiletries, and everything inbetween, and then some things you didn't think of!
So far I haven't recieved anything I've asked for, as other people are invariably online as the message is posted, but I've helped out several people with their wants... wood for repairing something, an electric toaster, and now the polystyrene sheet. The happy recipient said he could collect it by car on Wednesday, so I emailed back and suggested that I could deliver by bike on my way to my gig today. So at midday I met him at the Fox and handed over the polystyrene. He wanted it to place under a heated propagator for germinating seeds, to reduce heat being conducted away through the staging in his greenhouse.
I cycled on to the school I was working in, a lunchtime circus skills workshop with some slightly special-needs youngsters. This is the third in a series, today was focussing on 3 ball juggling. I earn my living as 'Professor Fiddlesticks' (www.kidspartysurvivalguide.com/fiddlesticks), an entertainer performing circus skills workshops and shows, and teaching balloon modelling. I've been doing this since 1992 and still love it! The youngsters all had a go with juggling and some suprised themselves by learning the basics. One lad was keen to show me his yoyo tricks, others are diabolo-mad. My favourite is devilsticks, it really grabs my attention and I love doing it. Seemingly I perform it well enough for others to enjoy watching me, and I'm a good teacher, patient and good at explaining 'how to'. Infact my science background and my ability to explain stuff means I have developed a show called 'Professor Fiddlesticks Fun Physics' which has key stage 1 and ks2 science in a fun interactive format. I'd like more gigs presenting this.
After my 45 minutes full-on circus teach-in, I visited my lovely old lady-friend Jean. She was 90 years old a week or two ago, and she resides in a care home. We have been friends for over 10 years and she's very unconventional and free-thinking. We can talk about anything, no subjects off-limits. She doesn't get a lot of physical contact anymore, so I always give her a foot massage which she finds very relaxing. Next week I'm going to visit and she'll dictate a couple of letters to people who sent her letters for her birthday. She got so many cards, quite a few were from people she couldn't remember or work out where she had met them. But in 90 years you must collect quite a few contacts, and by that age it must be easy to forget some of them!
So I had two hours with Jean and then nearly an hour with my good friend Pauline. She is a 'low carbon lifestyle' person, and is keen on her Clearview stove and her Freecycled kitchen. I met Pauline through a project which helped me when I was younger and angrier, AVP, Alternatives to Violence Project. They put on workshops to help people understand the conflicts in their life, and to help them resolve them creatively. It certainly helped me, as now I am able (most of the time!) to deal with my anger and to recognise my triggers. AVP puts on workshops in prisons and in the community, and I am still involved, helping to run 'AVP North-East And East Midlands', which is a member of AVP Britain. AVP runs worldwide and has helped so many people. One of the jobs I do is to phone up participants a month or two after the workshop and conduct some followup, to find if they found it useful. Most people say it has changed their lives and they have used what they've learnt in everyday situations. Pauline was the coordinator at one time. Then we worked together on the Local Agenda 21 group... but that's another blog!
Home to a big bowl of pumpkin, butternut and leek soup, cooked on the woodstove. Delicious!