ve been busy on my Minecraft glasshouse over the last few weeks. In Real Life I've had my seasonal flu jab (flu shot) which has given me a low-level fever, sore throat and I lost my voice! It's still better than getting the 'full' flu though - as an immuno-compromised person, the real flu can be awful. I had a terrible chest infection last year which ended with a trip to A&E and 3 courses of antibiotics, so I'll take sniffles & no voice over that any day.
My Glasshouse structure is now complete. My next two tasks have been lighting and putting in a walkway around the structure. I've been inspired by the Temperate House at Kew Gardens, which I've been lucky enough to visit many times (although not for some years). It's a gorgeous structure, and if I can't get there in person I can at least create something a little like it in my virtual world.
As you can see, I've also been laying in some paths - the ultimate aim is to have themed zones within the glasshouse. Since this Minecraft World utilises the Biomes o' Plenty Mod I have access to far more plants, trees and therefore wood than in the vanilla game. The walkways are made from willow wood and I'll be keeping that theme through the project. I love the green tone of this wood and I think it's going to look really nice when complete.
After setting up the walkways (which still need to have fences so I don't fall off them!) my next job was lighting. I'm using as much organic light as possible: Biomes O' Plenty comes with several bioluminescent plants like glowing mushrooms and flowers, and as I've been exploring the world I've been snagging any I come across. I've scattered them throughout the floorplan of my project, and then used some jack o' lanterns (pumpkins with torches inside) to brighten it up a bit. I love the jack o'lantern light and have been using them extensively in my Minecraft worlds since I started playing. One of my first tasks when setting up a base is to set out a pumpkin farm so I always have lots to use for lighting.
Here are some screenshots of my glasshouse fully lit up at night. I'm really pleased with it!
I like the little fountain too - I'm planning a lot more water features inside the structure. The great thing with Minecraft is that physics is optional so I should be able to create all sorts of cool effects.
Minecraft continues to give me a lot of fun and pleasure, an outlet for creativity and a great distraction from pain.
More updates soon.
I've been hoping to write another blog post all week, but a combination of work, health appointments (physio & massage) and boring real-life stuff like filing have got in the way. Plus, being a spoonie, rest has been critical this week (as it is every week) to keep myself as healthy as possible.
I'm super lucky to have an amazing Hubby, and ever since we've lived together we've always shared the housework in every house we've lived in: he cleans upstairs (bedrooms and bathroom) and I clean downstairs (living room and kitchen). When we first got married it was easy for me - I could zip around my share of the dusting, hoovering and kitchen cleaning within 30 minutes several times a week, no problem.
But these days it's a lot harder. Pain, lack of energy, anxiety and fibro fog get in the way - hurdles that have to be negotiated every day. Some days they're just little ankle-high things I can get over easily; others they're gigantic blockades in my path and impossible to negotiate.
I took a pain management course at my local hospital a couple of years ago, when I 'only' had Hypermobility Syndrome, and there was a lot of talk about pacing. I'd already been introduced to The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino and found it very helpful. I took the advice I'd been given and, as large tasks got harder, I began to break them up into chunks. It's a strategy I've continued to refine and develop as Fibromyalgia has crept up on me.
Housework is one area where this approach has been really helpful. Whereas I used to complete the housework in one go, I began to break it up into three:
(1) clean the kitchen counters
(2) clean the surfaces in the living room
(3) vacuum all the floors
Each step was followed by a rest of as long as I needed - a few minutes or a few hours.
When I was dealing with more pain that was broken down further:
(1) clean the kitchen counters to the left of the sink
(2) clean the sink and draining board
(3) clean the kitchen counters to the right of the sink
(4) clean the 2 living room tables
(5) dust the pictures and shelves in the living room
(6) vacuum the kitchen/hall
(7) vacuum the living room
And these tasks might get completed over 2, 3 or even 4 days.
I also made myself let go and accept that my share of the housework will never be done perfectly, and not even always regularly. Most tasks get done once over the week, but sometimes it could be over 10 days or even 2 weeks. If things are getting a little grubby I give them a quick 'lick and a promise' with a cleaning wipe. There's only the two of us in the house, and if our home isn't 'showroom ready' that's absolutely fine.
Cleaning will never be fun but at least, following this strategy, it becomes manageable, and means Hubby doesn't have to take on more than his fair share of the work. Plus, cleaning is a form of gentle exercise and helps me to stay strong and keep my joints moving, which is essential.
I hope this blog post gives you some ideas, some hope and some reassurance that. if you're dealing with chronic health conditions, you are not alone.
A month after my last post about escaping into Minecraft, I thought I'd post an update on my next big Minecraft project, my Kew-like glasshouse. I just finished putting in the last pane of glass today.
It has been a HUGE project, but it's the biggest thing I've ever built in the game and I'm really proud of it.
I didn't have a clue how to start, and only a vague idea of what I was building, but like anything in life I took a step-at-a-time approach.
Firstly I flattened the land I was going to build on. That in itself was a massive job as the whole structure is around 300 x 200 blocks in one direction and 200 x 300 in another, forming an L-shape.
Next I built a footprint, using stone blocks to set out the rough floorplan, and pillars to mark each corner of the building. Then I started glazing.
Glazing has taken the longest - there are thousands of panes or blocks of glass in this thing! I made the glass in batches after setting up a basic furnace building on-site. I gathered multiple stacks of sand blocks and lava buckets, left them to cook and then added them to the structure.
The roof was first, and because one block of sand = one block of glass it took a very long time. I also had to factor in a giant redwood tree I'd decided to incorporate into the structure.
With the roof on it was time to glaze the walls. I'd grown some willow trees within the structure area as I'd chosen that specific wood for my doors, but the trees looked so nice there that I decided to leave some of them in place. I'll use them as a foundation for the design of that section of the glasshouse.
Glazing the sides was a lot easier than building the roof as Minecraft allows you to turn 6 glass blocks into 16 glass panels so I needed fewer resources. Plus the panels cover a relatively larger area. However, I still had countless thousands to place and it took me a fair few hours of gameplay!
Of course I still need to plan out and landscape the inside of the glasshouse, but I'm going to leave that for a while and work on some other projects within the game. I have ideas for some villages within the Alpine area so I'll probably get on that next.
As I said previously, Minecraft is a great distractor from pain for me, and it's also been helpful in keeping my anxiety down. It's a great Spoonie tool!
I've always enjoyed computer gaming, ever since I got a Commodore 64 back in the early 1990s when I was a teenager! I spent many happy hours in my bedroom learning the basics of coding and copying out huge text programmes from Zzap64 magazine. The C64 made way for a Playstation, then a PS2 and finally an Android tablet, phone and Windows laptop.
Fast forward 25 years and I am now living the Spoonie life. When my pain levels are particularly bad I find computer games really help to distract me from my pain. A couple of years ago a friend introduced me to Minecraft. I've always enjoyed 'sandbox' games: open worlds where you can go where you want, complete sidequests, collect items and roam around a virtual landscape. I've never been one for linear games - they don't allow me to be creative - and good sandbox games have always been few and far between for me. I found a couple of wonderful games for the PS2, Steambot Chronicles and Road Trip Adventure, but most games are too restrictive, and often full of gratuitous violence that doesn't interest me.
Minecraft is perfect. An infinite world is generated from a handful of letters and numbers (a 'seed') and the game is infinitely customisable. You can slay monsters, build cities or simply explore.
My aim in playing Minecraft is to relax and since I know that having monsters sneaking up on me is going to make me tense, I simply turn them off! I could have infinite items, but I choose to go out and find resources, giving me a challenge. I build and I explore. If I find a couple of villages, I link them together with a road, and sometimes with a little railway line.
I love finding the pre-generated structures that litter the virtual worlds, particularly abandoned mineshafts. That gives me something to explore as well as lots of treasure to find!
A couple of months ago I discovered 'modding' (modification) and that opened up yet another layer of customisation to me. I'm currently having great fun with the free Biomes O'Plenty mod which ups the landscape variety enormously: instead of around 20 landscape types (biomes) I have over 90 to explore. I love finding new types of trees and plants in each zone, and I've used them to build an arboretum near my base.
I've always loved botanical gardens, and since it's harder to get to them these days, I'm making my own! I've started building a massive glasshouse, inspired by the Temperate House at Kew Gardens. It's a big project but I've broken it down into a series of steps: gathering materials, crafting them, assembling the roof and so on. I've almost finished the roof now (after around a fortnight of playing!). Next will be the walls and doors, and then the decoration, using loads of plants and flowers I've discovered in all the biomes around my world. I'll save that for another post.
There is good clinical evidence that computer gaming can help with pain management and it's definitely a good tool for me. Spoonie experiences are highly personal: we're all unique people with unique challenges and needs, but gaming has proven really helpful for me. And it's fun too!