Sunday, December 25, 2011

The results are in . . .

. . . and I got a quite healthy 70% for my TMA 02.

More than I thought I would get, truth to tell, and probably more than I deserve, given that so much of what I am reading isn't sticking :(

In all truth, I was on the point of contacting the OU and giving up this course, especially with my health being at an all-time low right now. I have just been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, as well as Lupus, so I'm not a very happy bunny, to put it mildly. In fact, I've slept so much over this last week, that this is the first opportunity I've had to actually write in my blog, especially as my results came in a week ago.

I wrote to my tutor, setting out my problems, but she seems to think that I've actually got a better grasp of the course than I think I have, and she is encouraging me to keep on trying, as she says things will be a little easier, the further along I go in the course. 

I'm not sure I believe her, to be honest with you, but I'm giving myself a couple of weeks study free, so that I can try to recover a little health-wise, without the stress of the course making things worse for me. But I know that I really do need to keep on studying, as TMA 03 is due to be posted by noon on 12th January, and I'm already a week behind in my course work again.

I guess, all I can do is try each day to do a little bit, working on the next TMA as I go along, hoping, and praying, that I get enough right to keep passing each TMA, until I either recover enough to catch up, or, please God, find the course easier to absorb, as my tutor tells me I will.

I'm finding the idea of this being my last course with the OU rather more pleasing than I have ever done in the past but, rather than looking forward to a completely study-free future, have decided that I'm going to concentrate on my story writing in the future, with the research needed, for this to be a success.

No matter what happens, though, I know I will always be grateful to the OU, for teaching me how to do proper research, and then to be able to write a decent story from the results of my research, and I'm hoping this will hold me in good stead when I make the attempt in the future :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

They say that patience is a virtue . . .

. . . but I'm not sure whether I've learned enough of it as yet!

My tutor started to mark our TMA's last weekend, but I still haven't got a result as yet, and so I'm spending every minute I can spare, going on to my OU course site, and staring hopefully at the results page - only to be faced with a blank once again.

I really should have got used to the wait by now, especially after 6 years of studying with the OU, but I'm afraid I haven't, as yet, and we're getting perilously close to the weekend again, with the chance that I might have even more time to wait :/

But I am being good - sort-of, and doing my best to continue on with the activities I need to complete, especially as yet another TMA will soon be looming. 

I actually had a look at TMA 03 yesterday - something normally unheard of for me, as I prefer to come at it fresh when it's time to start work on it. Imagine how I felt, when I read the statement I'll be working on, only to see that there's barely any difference between it and the last TMA!

I really don't know what the course leaders are playing at, but it feels as though we're just going round and round in circles with this one. There just doesn't seem to be any progression between each TMA. Usually, when I do a course, each TMA will show a significant step along the journey I embarked on at the beginning, and each TMA will show me yet another aspect of the course, and what I'm supposed to be learning from it - but this one? Nope!

I'm going to keep on with it, purely because I'm not a quitter, but I'm just hoping and praying that the second half of the course shows some difference, otherwise I'm going to be an extremely miffed woman indeed :(

Saturday, December 10, 2011

TMA02 is off!

With lots of hair-pulling, and angst, I finally managed to get within the word count allowed for this TMA.

I can't, with any honesty, say that it's my best effort to date, as I've been fighting migraines over the last few weeks, and have spent more time than I'd like sleeping the effects away, but I managed to cobble something together that, I hope, is enough to afford me at least a pass.

To be honest with you, I've given up worrying about how little I'm absorbing with this course. I just want to get well enough to at least retain some of the info I'm reading for a change!

On that point, I have an appointment with my Rheumatologist on the 23rd of the month, so I'm hoping that he'll have some idea why my health has got so bad. I'm hoping that the positive anti-nuclear factor they've found in my blood, is just a glitch than can be easily fixed, and that this is the reason for the real down-swing in my health. I'm just praying for an easy fix, I guess, as everything else wrong with me is incurable to date.

It would be so very nice to have something that's curable for a change!

And, in the meantime, I guess I should try and catch up with all my activities, so I'm not so behind for TMA03, which is due on 12th January. It's as well I don't do Christmas, I guess! :)

Friday, December 02, 2011

It's definitely becoming a bit of the Tortoise and Hare scenario here :/

I have to confess that I put all my books away for a few days - firstly, to recover from yet another cluster migraine, but also more in the hope that I could look at them with fresh eyes when I got back to them again but, alas, it didn't work, and I'm still creeping along, well behind so many of my fellow travellers in this particular course :(

I was fairly good today, and have caught up on my Study Guide activities, and most of my Course Text activities, but I'm still no closer to writing my TMA, I'm ashamed to say. Procrastination is becoming a bit of a habit for me where this is concerned, but I'm going to have to get back on track, and soon, or I'll never read enough to complete this next TMA.

This course book that Carter wrote is becoming a bit of a weight on my conscience as, with each day that it remains closed, I'm feeling a terrible guilt at not trying harder to understand what he's trying to say to me - but I think I need to be the Minotaur to follow all the complex twists and crazy routes in this maze of a book!

While I was talking to my tutor at the Elluminate tutorial, she commented on the fact that I kept referring to my course work as a journey. I hadn't realised that I was doing this but, on thinking about it, I guess I do look at it that way.

It has been a long journey for me, this learning lark, and it's one I stepped out on with much trepidation, six years ago. There have been times when my road was direct and smooth, with nothing to disturb me, so that I had time to look out at the pretty scenery, and smell the scent of success coming towards me. But there have also been times when the road became steep and curved, where I had to slow down or lose my way - but this is the first time I've really felt as if I were lost, and without a signpost in sight. 

I guess it's time for me to stop for a minute, get out the road maps, and plan a route that will guide me back to the path I was on as, being so near the end of my journey, it is so very frustrating to have got so lost!

Friday, November 25, 2011

And still I battle on . . . . .

I'm ashamed to admit that I'm still not much further along with Carter's book.

But I had a great tutorial, online, a few days ago, with something called Elluminate, which allowed me the choice of talking directly to my tutor, via the internet, or typing in what I wanted to say. As my typing is appallingly slow without the help of my Dragon software, I was glad to be able to talk directly with my tutor. Unfortunately, although she took us through what is needed to make our next TMA successful, I find myself even more confused now, especially over the choices I need to make over the various, and numerous, aspects of creativity in everyday talk.

I have at least found the narrative that is needed to make a transcription, at last! I came across a radio pod-cast that had been sent out live on the 15th of this month - an interview between one of my favourite authors, Terry Pratchett, and the radio broadcaster, Simon Mayo and, although Simon Mayo was asking pre-prepared questions of Terry, the responses given were totally ad hoc, which meant that I was able to use it.

It took me around 5 hours to transcribe the 14.35 minutes of talk, which I don't think was too bad, especially considering this course is the first time I've had a go at such things, and I've even sort-of made a start on my TMA - well, I've at least set out on the page what needs to be done, and have set out the Appendix with the context of the radio pod-cast, the transcription itself, and the transcription conventions I've used to accentuate and bring alive the words I've recorded. I've even made a start at the introduction paragraph, although I know that it needs a huge amount of work on it still, to make it acceptable for the essay.

The problem is, I need to get on with reading the rest of the Carter book to be able to continue with it and, frankly, I'm dreading it! In between battling awful cluster migraines this last week, I've made the attempt to read it countless times and, each time I try, it brings back a migraine - not a great incentive to keep on, believe me!

I think what I'll have to do, migraines permitting, is try to get on with the study guide, and the course book, activities, and hope there's enough in them for me to continue writing the TMA :(

In all my years with the Open University, this has come the closest for me to be considering quitting the course. What should have been a happy and productive ending to my O.U. life is, through further ill health, and a labyrinthine and tortuous course book, becoming more like a nightmare for me, and I really don't know if my health is up to continuing on with something that is frankly quite stressful for me now, instead of the enjoyable experience I'd hoped for.

I guess we shall see how I get on over the next week or so . . . . .

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I had to make a cry for help to my tutor . . .

. . .and I didn't enjoy having to do so :(

I sent an email off to my tutor last night, as I'm so bogged down in Carter's book, that I don't feel I can continue with the course.

My tutor was very quick to respond to my email, and sent me a lovely response this morning, setting out ways I could work on with the course that would, hopefully, get me back on track again.

To be honest with you, I don't hold out any hope that I'll be able to achieve this, but I've never been a quitter, unless seriously forced to be, and so I'll take up my tutor's suggestions, and see where they take me.

It's at times like these that I feel my lack of good health most keenly, and deeply regret all those wasted chances to better myself while I was fit and healthy. But I guess regrets are futile now, so I'll just have to take a grip of myself, and battle on as best I can . . . . . . . . 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's like wading through a bath of treacle . . .

In all the years that I have been reading fluently, I have never come across a book that could actually put me physically to sleep - until now :(

For the last week, I've been desperately trying to read Carter's Language and Creativity: the art of common talk, and getting absolutely nowhere! 

It has actually taken me this last week just to read the Acknowledgements and Introduction to the book, and I've only just managed to reach Chapter 1 at last - over a week later. The trouble is, there are 6 chapters to go through, and I need to do this before the weekend, or it will impinge on my writing time for the many activities we're supposed to complete each week :(

This is either going to be the worst week of my life, or I'm going to end up behind again :(

Unfortunately, I can't blame the book entirely for my falling asleep within minutes of picking it up, as I'm permanently fighting sleep anyway, even without having to cope with Carter's labyrinthine sentence structures!

All I can hope for, is that the book either gets a lot more interesting for me to read, or that I get used to Carter's way of writing, and quickly! Either choice is highly unlikely for me, I suspect, but I guess I'm going to have to keep on wading through treacle until I get to the end - Oh, I look forward to that!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Talk about amazed. . . . . .

I couldn't believe it when I received the notification that my TMA had been marked and returned - I got a whopping 74%!

I had to check it twice, in case I'd been sent somebody else's results by mistake but, no - it was actually true! :)

I have to admit that there was so much room for improvement, and I'd made some very silly mistakes, such as messing up the Harvard referencing, but, overall, I'm well pleased with my first TMA result. {big grin}.

Altogether, I think that I'm beginning to get to grips a little with the course - at least, it doesn't seem to be quite as bewildering to read through now, but the sheer amount of reading we're expected to get through over the next few weeks is daunting - even for me, the perpetual bookworm!

We have a double chapter to go through in both the study guide and course books, which means double the activities, plus we're also expected to read through Ronald Carter's Language and Creativity: the art of common talk book - something I'm not looking forward to, as I've read so many complaints about it by fellow students, one of them being that it sends them to sleep - the very last thing I need at this moment!

But, I'm determined to get through it all, and now have TMA 02 looming on the horizon (8th December), where I'll be expected to choose some of my own data to analyse, which means finding someone, or some people, to tape while talking, transcribe that talk, and then analyse it to discuss why "Creativity is a normal feature of everyday conversation". I'll need to decide just how I'm going to analyse anything I've chosen, choose the analysis tools most suitable for the job, and explain why I've chosen these tools, and what they bring to the analysis so, no pressure then? {wry grin}

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Don't talk to me about Carter! . . . .

I haven't been driven as crazy as this by a critic since I joined the O.U., even right at the beginning when I did my first 60-pointer, and got introduced to the mysteries and madnesses of the literature critics!

To be fair to Carter, when he's not tying us all in knots with his confusing efforts to see every side of the argument, he's an interesting read, although where the humour is in his 'mobiles' example, I still haven't a clue!

But, thankfully, I've actually managed to catch up with myself at last, albeit through dint of working on my course whenever I was awake enough to do so, no matter what time of day or night! I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep this up, but I'm going to give it a go anyway :)

I have to admit though, that I don't feel as confused now as I was a week or so ago, so I'm either absorbing more info than I thought, or I'm just kidding myself! I'll know better when I get to see the results of my first TMA - and I just hope that I see it soon, as I'm driving myself crazy checking up every few hours or so, to see if the results are in! Lol

I don't think I'll have a really good result, mind, but if I just get a pass I'll be happy - well, happier anyway!

And while I wait, I guess I should be getting on with the multitudes of activities we've got to do each week {gulp}.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Just for laughs . . .

I'm having great problems concentrating on my TMA, which is due in at noon on Thursday. I've managed one whole paragraph, and have put in questions to ask myself, that are supposed to release the information I've read at least 3 times but which, apparently, has got lost between my eyes and my brain!

I have got to the panicky stage, so went on FB to distract myself, and the first thing I read was the instructions below.

As hubby and I have just had a very similar experience, I found myself laughing until I cried, so thought I'd share the experience {grin}

How to give a cat a pill

1. Pick cat up, and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position left forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth, and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

2. Retrieve pill from the floor, and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

3. Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw soggy pill away.
4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of 10. 

5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden. 

6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, holding front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold cat's head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously. 

7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.
8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with its head just visible from below spouse's armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force cat's mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw. 

9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply band-aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.
10. Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band. 

11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Throw T-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom. 

12. Ring fire brigade to retrieve cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.
13. Tie cat's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table. Find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Force cat's mouth open with small spanner. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Hold head vertically and pour half-liter of water down throat to wash pill down. 

14. Get spouse to drive you to emergency room; sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Stop by furniture shop on way home to order new table.
15. Arrange for vet to make a house call.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2 1/2 weeks in . . .

and I really don't know what's hit me!

I have to admit that I'm struggling with this course already, as there are so many new concepts, and a huge amount of terminology, to learn, and remember!

It's coming to me painfully slowly at the moment, as the weather has got wet and cold, which always affects my health adversely, and so I'm having to cope with a body that wants to sleep all the time and, every time I awaken from yet another unplanned nap, it is to pain - and the certain fact that I've forgotten everything I was reading when I fell asleep, yet again! Grrrr

But I'm not giving up hope!

Provided the O.U., can make some allowances for my tardiness, I'm going to keep plowing on, in the hopes that I can at least absorb enough to write my first Tutor-Marked Assignment, due in by midday on the 27th October!

I've just had to look it up, even to know what the question is, as I've forgotten, even though I read through it yesterday :(

But, in the words of Gloria Gaynor: 'I will survive!' Lol 

Saturday, October 01, 2011

I start the new module today {gulp!}

. . . and I'm not sure whether I'm quite ready for it yet :/

I've just spent the last 2 days looking through the course website, downloading and printing out various bits and pieces I'll need, and getting desktop folders ready for all the activities I'll be doing as we go along in the course.

I think it's going to be quite full-on for this next month or so - until I get used to all the new terminology, at least - and also until I can work out the way I need to do the activities, although I believe it's a case of using the study guide first, and following instructions from that :/ 

I've discovered that there are activities to do both in the course/ module books, and in the study guide - 16 altogether just for the first week!

I just hope my health allows me to stay awake long enough to do them all!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I've got my tutor, at last . . .

. . . although, I was saddened to discover that she's based in Cardiff, half a country away from myself :(

Mind you, all this actually means, is that I won't be going to the first tutorial - something that I doubt I would have been able to do, even if it were taking place next door to me - so I guess it makes no difference really where any of us are - and that fact, more than anything else, has been one of the most convenient features of my study life with the Open University :)

One of my nephews has gone to a brick Uni, just this last weekend and, although I'm sure he's going to have the best of times there, I'm also certain that so very many people would have been unable to take up the same way of learning, whether through illness, disability, work pressures, having to stay at home because of Caring needs, or many other different reasons. So the Open University has become a life-line to so many of us who want to learn, for whatever reasons.

Another thing I've learned, through looking at the new module website, is that we'll be using the Elluminate facility for our second tutorial and, as I hadn't a clue about it, I decided to go onto my student home-site, and follow the links there that show me how to use it all.

As it happens, I found that I didn't have the right Java installed for the programme, so at least I was able to correct that well before the module starts, and I've found links for me to be able to practice using the programme, so I'll be making use of them as much as I can, before the tutorials start :)

All-in-all, it's been a busy couple of days for me, with a lot busier a time looming shortly.

I'm just glad, and a bit sad, to be getting back into my study harness, for the very last time :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

The new Module website has opened . . .

. . . although there's no details for my tutor as yet, unfortunately :(

I'm really hoping that I'm assigned a tutor before the module starts on the 1st October, as I want to be able to introduce myself, and fill in some gaps for the tutor, in the knowledge of my particular health problems while studying.

I know if I get behind because of illness, that I'll be able to ask for extensions for my TMA's, if needed, but it's always nice to have that sort of thing already in place, even before, and if, it's needed. The  less delay, the less worry, the quicker I'll be able to recover, I figure :)

I guess that's the one thing I've really learned in the last 6 years - with good planning, most things can be sorted out :)

It doesn't look like I'll have any of my fellow students near enough for visits with this module, though, which is a real shame as, being bed-and-house bound, it means that I can't make it to any of the tutorials for this module. In all my 6 years of study, I've only ever managed to go to one of them, and it took me days to recover from the process so, having any fellow students relatively nearby, meant that they could visit me, and we could study together to help prepare for the TMA's. I did this, with some success, in my previous module, and the three of us who met got so much out of meeting, and have become firm friends, despite the differences of age and general life-style involved :)

I think one of the greatest aspects of the Open University, is the true disparity of people who get together over the internet, and who, no matter where they live, or what their lives are like, have found the closest of friends in the furthest reaches of the Open University sphere. It shows that, if everyone is willing to suspend narrow thinking, there is all the will in the world for people to come together with new ideas and thoughts, even if they don't agree with what's being discussed. There is a willingness to agree to disagree, that politicians around the world would do well to copy, and there is a willing openness of mind, that leaves us all able to absorb new, and different, ideas that keep the mind ticking over, and the heart willing to listen.

As this module is my first foray into the stylistics of the English language, I'm a little nervous about learning all the various nuances and styles of delivery that will be used but, no matter what the next few months hold, I know it's going to be an interesting ride into a new world of language for me, and that, with no doubt at all, is something that I totally need to keep this poor brain of mine ticking over :)

I know I'm going to miss it all when it's over, but it will have been the finest stepping-stone into a new life of study and writing, that anyone could have given me, and I'll always be immensely proud to tell anyone that I was given the bricks to build the foundations of my life of study, from the Open University, Milton Keynes :)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Getting back into study-mode . . .

I've been hoping upon hope that I become well enough, and awake enough, to start looking at the books delivered to me for my new module but, unfortunately, I'm only getting a couple of hours a day when I can think straight, let alone absorb a totally new subject :(

I know, I'm going to have to try, and very soon, as the module starts officially on 1st October - and that's only a couple of weeks away now {gulp}, but I do have to confess that this long break between modules has got me out of the studying habit - again!

Once I've got back to it, even if it's only 15 minutes here, and 20 minutes there, throughout the day, I can normally keep this up, barring really bad-health days, throughout the module. It's getting back into that frame of mind that I find the hardest, though.

I think the problem is, that I've been catching up on my 'normal' reading; trying to reduce that huge 'to read one day' stack of books on my shelves, although, to be honest, I've not really done much of that either this break :/

When I first started to study, the newness of it all was very exciting, and quite a bit scary. But now that I've been doing it for 6 years - with the battles with my ill health throughout it all - I confess to feeling quite weary. I never thought I'd admit this, but, in a way - and probably just temporarily - I'm kind-of glad this will be my final module before getting my BA (Hon)!

Knowing myself, and my love of learning, I'll probably be pining for yet another course after only a couple of weeks of this one ending but, with the huge increase in the module prices, they'd be way out of my league, even if I could pay monthly. 

I guess I'll have to keep in mind what I've said before - the freedom from studying with the O.U., will then give me all the time in the world, in order to start researching all the myriads of facts I'm going to need, especially if I'm going to bring one of my story ideas to fruition! As the characters keep nudging me when I've nothing else to think of, it's not something that will go away if I try to ignore it {grin}

But, for now, I guess I'm going to have to try and open those books, and attempt to get into study mode, tout de suite!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Bad news on the Bunny front :(

Despite all that I did, both baby rabbits died during the night :(

I went online to see if I could find out any reason for it and, apparently, wild rabbits are notoriously hard to raise in captivity - and especially if they are orphaned at a very early age, which these were.

So I guess that explains why whatever I tried didn't work, unfortunately :(

I was very upset at their deaths but, as hubby says, at least we made the attempt.

All life is so very precious, isn't it? 

But, I guess, all we can do is try to help if, and when, we can?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Looking after baby . . .

We had a phone call the day before yesterday. 

It was from the co-ordinator of the Badger Rescue Trust for our area and, as hubby is a member, he was called, as he lived the nearest to an emergency call-out.

A phone call had been made to the trust by some holidaymakers, who had found what they thought were some orphaned badger cubs, and so hubby was asked to go pick them up, and keep them overnight, where they would then be picked up by another member who had land safeguarded for Badgers to live in peace.

When he got there, hubby discovered that the new-born babies were Rabbits, and not Badgers. The couple who had found them told hubby that they'd come across the remains of a nest while walking in the woods. The nest was apparently above ground, and with obvious signs of an attack on it, along with one dead kit, and with the remains of an adult animal, but there hadn't been enough remains to see what it had been, hence the mistaken identity.

This kindly couple had gone to the expense of buying powdered lactose, and bottles, in order to feed the 2 orphans but, due to circumstances, they couldn't look after them any more - so, could hubby take them?

Of course hubby did, and he brought them home to me, as he knew I'd do my utmost to keep any young orphaned animal alive, if it were possible :)

Well, I got a box fixed up as a nest, weighed the 2 baby bunny's (1 was 32g, and the other 30g), and I made up the formula, and began the long drawn out task of feeding them both.

I wasn't quite sure how often they would need feeding, so I attempted it every 60-90 minutes or so and, as I could only feed them one tiny drop at a time, I then seemed to have the task in front of me of being awake for quite some time.

This morning, I went online, and found out that they only needed feeding about 4-5 times a day and, as both bunnies had caught on to the idea of beginning to suckle on the bottle teat, which meant that they were drinking a lot more with each session, I breathed a sigh of relief, and managed a  couple of hours sleep :)

I weighed the babies this afternoon, and bunny 1 is now 35g, and bunny 2, 34g, so it looks like they are actually putting on some weight.

I don't know whether they will survive, but I'm going to do my utmost to make sure that they do :)

It's just as well that my new module hasn't started yet, isn't it? {grin}


Sunday, August 21, 2011

And another parcel arrives . . .

There was a loud knock at the door, and hubby went to see who it was, and there, holding a largish box, was a delivery man from a firm called Yodel.

This isn't a delivery firm I'm familiar with, but hubby signed for the box, then saw it was for me. As I knew I hadn't ordered anything from Amazon or eBay (my usual online shops when I want to buy something - normally books!), I was puzzled as to what it could be.

Imagine my surprise to see, once hubby had managed to open the box for me, all my new course books, guides, and CD-Roms sitting there! I was delighted that they'd come so early, as it means I've now got two sources to be able to read, no matter what my health is like.

Further to my last post, I'd said how delighted I was with the O.U., as they'd gone out of their way to provide me with alternative sources of my course books, as soon as I'd let them know I had health problems, and now I had been delivered of comb-bound versions of these, too. 

Any book that is over a certain length, is automatically broken down into smaller sections, and then comb-bound, which means that, when I'm able to handle my books, I'm not having to struggle with large and heavy tomes, but smaller sectioned parts. This makes my life so much easier, and the fact that the O.U. get them sent out in such good time is a real bonus for me :)

When I first started studying with the O.U., I'd started with 10-point courses, to help me get back into study mode, but the instant I'd booked my first 60-pointer and, in a questionnaire sent to me, had informed them of my health issues, I was contacted, and asked if I needed an assessment, as the Uni would then be able to see what was needed to help me function properly as I studied.

Out of that assessment, I became the proud owner of my very first laptop, along with the Dragon Naturally Speaking software that enabled me to be able to continue to write my essays, even when my hands were too bad with the arthritis to be able to use the keyboard! 
As well as this, I was given a brilliant book-chair, to hold any of my course books open for me when studying. I was also fitted with a very up-to-date chair, one that was ergonomically shaped, so that I had the best support I could need while using my computer. I was also provided with a special roller-ball mouse, which means that I don't need to keep physically moving it. Just very light touches to the roller-ball, and my cursor moves just where I need it to be!

These aides have made such a difference to the amount of time I can study!

Admittedly, my health has got even worse over the years, and I'm only able to study in short bursts of 10-20 minutes at a time now, before I need to rest, but all these aides make the difference between being able to continue studying, or having to give up on my aim of getting my BA (Hon).

So now, I'm on the brink of studying my very last course - or module, as they call them now - and, probably quicker than I can imagine right now, I will be writing my final End-of-module Assessment, then waiting anxiously to see if I've passed it.

If I do, I won't be doing the awards ceremony thing, but I'll have the satisfaction of knowing that I have completed something started, very nervously, around six years ago - and something I'd dreamed of doing many years ago while in my teens, but didn't get the chance to do.

All thanks to The Open University! :)


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Open University are definitely OK by me!

Due to the various health problems I suffer with, I've been having more and more trouble with holding the books I need for my various modules. My last module was the hardest yet, and was also the hardest to cope with, health-wise, especially as I had a really bad flare-up of more than one health issue, which continued throughout the whole course, particularly at the beginning, and at the end. 

So it was with delight that I received a parcel in the post, from the OU, containing a CD-Rom, which has supplied me with all of the PDF's for my latest, and last, module, starting in October!

The OU have included both course books, the 2 study guides, and the course guide on it, which means that, when I'm in too much pain to move, let alone hold a book, I'll still be able to keep up with my reading, using the CD-Rom.

I don't know how good it will be as yet, at least, not until I start the module. Due to my health being so variable, I never know from one day to the next, as to whether I can study or not. But one thing is certain - the Open University have gone that extra yard for me, once again!

In the meantime, while I wait for the module to begin, I can at least have a good read of the course books, and this will give me some idea as to how I will be able to cope with whatever my health allows :)

I'm so very glad I joined up with the OU 6 years ago. They have done everything within their power to help me get to this place - just one more module, and I hope, and pray, I will have my BA (Hon) Humanities with Literature! {grin} 

The confidence this has given me is absolutely priceless, especially as I started this journey feeling totally and utterly useless, both in myself, and in relation to those around me who love and care for me. 
I don't know whether I'll ever be well enough to use all the things I have been taught in my time with the OU but, for a certainty, it has kept me sane, kept my short-term memory loss from getting too advanced, and has also kept the depths of depression I suffer with at a manageable level.

Thank you OU!


Friday, August 05, 2011

The results are in . . .

. . . . . and, to my huge surprise, I managed to get a Grade 2 pass!

To say I'm over the moon with that, is an understatement! 
Considering just how ill I was when I did the EMA, I honestly thought I'd only just scrape a pass at all.

This means that, if I can get the same result for my final module, or even if I get a Grade 3 result, then I will be entitled to an Upper Second-class Honours (2:1).

On the off chance I get a Grade 1 pass (in my dreams!) I could claim a First Class Honours degree but, being realistic, I can't ever see that happening :/

I can also put DipLit after my name, as I got my Diploma in Literature as well!

I'm a very happy bunny

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I keep on checking up . . .

. . . . . but there's still no sign of my results for my Children's Lit course.

Yes, I know! It won't be there until 5th August. But I keep on hoping that it'll mysteriously appear, just for me :/

I don't know why I worry so much about what my EMA score will be. After all, I won't be using my degree for any sort of career purposes - although, this afternoon, a good friend did ask me if I had any intention of trying to write something good enough to be published. 

My first instinct was to deny this. After all, I can't be the only one with file upon file of rejection slips, can I?

But, thinking about it a bit later on, I had to admit to myself that I haven't quite given up my dream of seeing a book I've written in print yet.

When I was young, I used to dream of writing the greatest literary piece ever, but education and life soon taught me that I'm not really up to those sort of standards. But a girl can dream, can't she? Lol

That's not to say that I don't have a chance at all, because I guess I've got as much chance as anyone else, to do something with all the ideas I have floating about in my head.

As a huge Terry Pratchett fan, I've always fancied the idea he put forward, in one of his earlier books, that all the great ideas are sleeting through the universe and, if you happen to be in the right place at the right time, you might be lucky, and get one bumping into your head!

I've have actually written a children's book recently, and my daughter is going to be illustrating it for me, as I love her style of artwork. She came to stay for a few days recently, and we sat discussing the book, and how we both envisage it, and I realised that there was so much more scope, for developing my book, than I might have realised before I took the two Creative Writing courses with the O.U. 
There's also the fact that my last course was a children's lit one, which taught me a lot about how to set out a book, especially one for children.

So, all in all I think, if we can develop this book the way we discussed it, I can't see any reason why I couldn't submit it to a publisher to look at and, you never know, someone might actually like it enough to print it! :)

And in the meantime, I'll keep signing in to student home, in the hope that my result is finally in!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Off with the old, on with the new . . .

Now that our dear old First Class system is reduced to read only, I find myself missing the busyness of my various favourite forums, which had been saved onto my FC desktop, and so were easily found by accessing FC - which was done with the mere click of a button.
Now, I'm having to negotiate Moodle - a hotchpotch of different pages and links that confuse even the more computer-literate of us, which I'm definitely not!

The biggest problem with this, is accessing the new forums placed on there, which I had been having great trouble finding, ending up going around in circles until I gave up in despair! If it wasn't for a lovely student who was more computer-savvy than I - and many more of us humble students - I'd still be either struggling with the system, or giving up the access to my fellow students, and going it alone, as I'd had to do before getting First Class access in my early years with the Open University. 
But, with her idiot-proof, step-by-step instructions, I eventually worked out how to find all my favourite forums on Moodle, and then save them to links on my Student Page!

For the first time in what seemed like ages, I went through the links yesterday, and caught up with all the news, although I've found that many of my favourite forums are still only lightly used - whether by the fact of holidays, or people finding access to Moodle difficult, we shall have to see - although there have been some comments where some students, because of their various disabilities, are finding the whole thing impossible to negotiate - bad news for those of us left, as we are now missing out on the wisdom, and delight, of some very special contributors to the various forums!

I still have no real idea why the O.U., in their supposed wisdom, decided to change over from FC to Moodle - although I suspect the main reason was financial, as usual :(
I find it ridiculous, though, that a facility that was important to all of us far-flung students, has now been compromised for the sake of penny-pinching!

One of the reasons I stuck with the O.U., was the fact that I could contact, and chat with, students from all over the country, and even all over the world practically, and we were able to discuss both the work we were studying, and also any problems we were facing both with study, and personally, which also put us on a par with students who access brick Unis, when they meet up with their fellow students.

FC had made it possible for our forums to feel like a huge family to me, and I loved that instant access to people who had more than studying in common, especially with all my health problems but, with the Moodle access, there isn't the flexibility for discussion that we had with FC, and this is bound to put off students with more serious problems than my own to cope with.

I feel like Mum and Dad have divorced, and we children are now having to cope with step-parents who, although they still look after us, don't have that same family feeling of caring to back it up.
I feel like we are now all second best to the new-born child of this new family group and, like the child with her nose put out of joint by the newcomer, I don't like it at all :(

Friday, July 01, 2011

Looking to the future . . .

It's the 1st of July, and I'm around 1/4-way into the break between one course and the next. I'm finding it rather like being in limbo, and, although it's giving me time to catch up on the teetering pile of 'to read' books, I'm missing that feeling of  edginess I get when my  TMA is due in, and I've still got tons of studying to do (I'm always at my best when doing things under pressure! :)

I'm feeling a little sad today. Thinking about this next course, my last one to get my BA (Hon), it's made me realise just how much of my life has been taken up with study - not only with the O.U., but also with my Bible study. although, if it wasn't for still having that to do each day, I think I would be screaming with boredom right about now! :)

With all the changes being made into how education is being funded, I don't stand much hope of being able to continue with my study after I get my BA. It would have been nice to be able to continue with an MA in Creative Writing, but, without that funding, I know it's just a pipe dream :(

What I am hoping I can do, is the occasional 10-pointer, provided TPTB don't price it well beyond my financial scopes! As I've done all the ones I was interested in for the Arts section, I'll probably dip my toes into the world of the sciences, and dabble with various fields, to see if I find any of them as interesting as I've found the literature and creative writing to be.

I'll never be a budding scientist,  but it would be nice to discover a little bit more about this amazing world we live on, or even about these bodies we all take so much for granted, until something happens to them! :)

Whatever happens, I can't ever see me giving up on some kind of studying. Even with my hopes for a new world, I see an ever-expanding need for more knowledge, so can't even imagine a reason why I wouldn't be doing something in the learning realm!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Nothing to declare . . .

I don't know why, but I'm feeling terribly guilty at not writing as regularly as usual on this blog - as if I'm playing truant from school! 

I don't think that's something that I ever actually did as a child, as I've always loved learning (mind you, school itself was always a trial to me, as I was such a bookworm, and a real loner).

Thinking back, as a child living in London, one of the few occasions when Mum sent us along to a summer school (I think she'd got thoroughly fed up of having so many energetic children underfoot that year! Lol), I did play hooky for the day, with my cousin Paul, and Mum knew, almost to the moment, when we had left the building, and where we had gone for the day!

As children, we believed her when she said that she had eyes at the back of her head, but what she did actually have, was an extremely efficient network of friends. 

Mum knew absolutely anyone worth knowing in our neck of the woods in Willesden, and we always seemed to have a huge amount of aunts and uncles - those deemed close enough friends that these honorifics were apt, as they were like real family to us.

Coming from a big family (6 girls & 1 boy, plus 2 who didn't make it past babyhood), and with a father who was the baby of 16 children, we were used to always being surrounded by hordes of people, and I learned early on to be able to read, and do my homework, despite the noise and bustle. 

If it wasn't people talking, laughing, joking, or playing about, then there was always music being played, either from our little transistor radios, (in rather garish colours and very much prized as our latest Christmas presents in the 70's - mine was florescent orange! {grin}), or on my parent's Grundig Radiogram, where mum would pile on all her favourite LP's - normally Irish or Country & Western, and she and her best friend Eileen (Oh, I do miss you, dear lady!), would sit with teacups in one hand, and cigarettes in the other, and sing along at the top of their voices, or just reminisce about the dances they'd gone to, before all the children arrived.

At times the noise would get too much for me, especially if I'd just got back from yet another hospital visit, and I'd creep upstairs to the bedroom  I shared with my 3 older sisters, and I'd get into bed, and snuggle down under the covers with whichever book was gripping my attention at the time. I think I was the only one in my family who looked forward to bedtime and, at one point, would be in bed by 6 O'Clock on a lovely summer's evening, just for the short space of peace and quiet I got! {grin}

It's an interesting thing, to look back on your childhood, isn't it? 
Very often, if I mentioned a particular incident in our shared childhood, each of my family would tell it from their own viewpoint - and, more often than not, their memories would bear only a slight resemblance to my own recollections. 
I've always understood why the police on TV had trouble getting witness statements straightened out. If a murder was committed in a locked room, with 10 people watching, you'd get 10 different viewpoints as to what actually happened!

Memory's a strange thing, and mine's gone from excellent recall, to muddled memories now, due to illness and medications - but the further I look back, the clearer my memories become - is that a sign of age, do you think? {grin}

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

And it's off!

Having had to deal with cluster headaches, fibro-fog, and arthritis flare-ups, it's no wonder it took me the entire 4 weeks we were given, to complete my 3,000-word essay, which was set for my EMA (End-of-Module Assignment).

As it happens, I managed to post my EMA the night before the send-by date, which pleased me enormously - so now it's a case of wait-and-see, until the beginning of August, when we will all get our results!

I'm not a very patient person, but I guess that, if I can get at least a Pass 3, it will be worth the wait, and I'll be a very pleased bunny, as I struggled a lot to complete the EMA.

But I guess the most important point here, is that I did complete it, despite wanting to give it up a few times over the course, when my health took me to the lowest point I've ever been in the 6 years I've been studying with the O.U.

Since I sent it off, I've been trying to recover somewhat, and not making a good job of it, hence my silence on the Blog front, but my doctor has changed my medication somewhat, and I stopped taking one of the tablets that was helping to trigger my cluster migraines, so I'm only getting them once or twice a week now, instead of practically daily, so that's a huge improvement for me - and means I can do a bit of writing online again - Yay! Lol

On the study front, I still have my usual Bible study - something I do as naturally as breathing these days - and this will keep my mind occupied, and working, over the summer months. Then, come October, I start my very last course - or module as we're supposed to call them now - for my BA (Hon)!

I'm actually getting quite excited about this one, as a friend sent me some pdf files of the old study guide and one of the study books - and I think that, while the course will be extremely hard for me, I'm really going to love it, as it goes into the history of word use, how meanings have changed, why, and lots of other aspects to do with the English language - very exciting for someone who loves words the way I do! Lol

I looked into the OUSA forum for E301, and there were a lot of links to interesting articles, and other stuff relevant to the course, so I'm going to spend a little of my time over the next few months trying to absorb some of it, in preparation for the start of October - it might help me somewhat in absorbing even a fraction of it all, especially as I have such trouble remembering things with my faulty short-term memory.

If I learn anything interesting, I'm sure to let you know, though. So, until then, enjoy your summer breaks, folks! ;0))