Saturday, 26 March 2005

crime and punishment

We are off to visit Ma and Pa for Easter weekend, followed up by a week travelling around southern England visiting friends who we haven't seen for ages. So probably no blog entries for a week, until we get back on April 3rd.

I spoke to Ma yesterday; she is preparing for the arrival of her Potter's Wheel by clearing a space in one of her sheds for it.

Hidden in the corner under a pile of miscellaneous stuff, she found a 'beware of slippery roads' roadsign. She claims to have no idea how it got there. Neither Natalie or I know either, although Natalie reckons that I brought it home one night after I'd been out on the razzle. If this is true, I genuinely have no memory of it.

Ma decided the roadsign had to go, and was all set to load it in the back of her van and leave it near some roadworks in town ... but Natalie told her she might get nicked if anyone caught her. So they waited until it was dark and drove it up to the top of the hill down a little used lane, and abandoned it.

On the way back down the track, they spent an uncomfortable half hour blocked in by a logging lorry, come to pick up the last load of the day. They had to wait until it had finished loading before they could make their escape.

Crime has a different definition in the country.

Thursday, 24 March 2005

rats

I am in disgrace.

B has realised that I have put all the clocks in the house and the one on his mobile phone between five and ten minutes fast, in an effort to get him to leave the house on time in the morning.

Having said that, two things in my favour as justification:

  • It has taken him three weeks to realise
  • When he was in his teens, his friends used to tell him that they were meeting up FORTY FIVE MINUTES earlier than they actually were, in a vain hope that he wouldn't be more than thirty minutes late.

To be honest, with such a grand, Lady Bracknell-esque style of lateness, five or ten minutes wasn't ever going to make that much of a difference, but despite that, I feel a real manipulating rat about it, even if it is only because I've been found out.

He's taken it very well, considering.

playing in the traffic

Looking at my referral logs, I was mildly disturbed to see that I am getting referrals from "Jennifer Love Hewitt, Nude"*.

I feel that I should be able to construct some kind of witty and relevant post around that, but I just can't.

I think I need to have a cup of tea.

*Note the deliberate lack of a link, here :)

Wednesday, 23 March 2005

the mouths of babes

Conversation B had with our eldest god-child, yesterday evening:

Eldest god-child: I'm hungry!
B: You're always hungry.
Eldest god-child: No, I'm REALLY hungry!
Dani: You've just had your tea, you can't be hungry. And anyway, it's nearly time for bed.
Eldest god-child : I AM hungry! I might be having a growth spurt!
He's four.

Tuesday, 22 March 2005

full house

Things I have bought on ebay in the last two months:

  • twenty-three novels/sets of books (including entire 'Narnia' series for £6.99)
  • six DVDs (including 'Gone With The Wind' and 'Babylon 5 In the Beginning')
  • a single bed head-board (blue)
  • two mattress covers
  • two sets of sheets-and-pillowcases
  • two duvet covers (beige)
  • an optical mouse
  • 2GB of RAM (for machine upgrade)


Things I have sold on ebay in the last two months:

  • five books
  • 1.75 GB RAM (initially bought wrong speed for machine upgrade)
  • CPU and fan (upgraded machine)


Happiness of our postman at number of large parcels he has to return to postoffice as they won't go through the letterbox:


Net financial gain:

  • Probably negative. Definitely not enough to assuage Net Guilt (see below)


Net emotional gain:

  • Low (included sad frown from B when he looked at the paypal account and credit card statement)


Net guilt:

  • Very high


Possible solutions:

  • sell more stuff to assuage Net Guilt and compensate for Negative Financial Gain (see above)
  • have baby, or possibly kitten, to take mind off ebay

Monday, 21 March 2005

conundrum reprise

Thanks to everyone for their comments re finding a housemate :-).

Someone came to look at the room yesterday; since she has decided to take it, I am going to call her 'Paula'. She seemed relatively normal, despite wearing very pointy shoes and a tweed jacket, which scared me slightly. Despite that, she brought up things like money; cleaning; bed-linen; where the nearest shops and take-outs are etc. etc.; all of which lead me to believe that she would make a good lodger.

In addition, she didn't smell, and she didn't have any scary twitches or apparent psychoses.

Also (and this is what really endeared me to her) she didn't mind the cats.

Obviously, we have put in the advert that we have two cats. However, B and I went away for the weekend, and due to an oversite, I left the cat-flap set to 'in only'. It is one that opens with a magnet attached to the cats' collars and you can also lock it for access in various combinations. We have been having a tom-cat visit and leave smelly calling cards in the kitchen, so I have been locking it at night; on Friday morning, I must have clicked the locking-wheel to the left rather than the right.

Result: two cats who had spent forty-eight hours locked in the house.

They greeted us with the usual yowls and happy dances when we came home ... but then B noticed that they had been pulling at the carpet to try to get out the front door.

And then I noticed that they were sitting by the back door, crying plaintively.

And then I noticed the smell in the sitting room.

It could have been much worse. And under the circumstances, I suppose that I am thankful that we have a couple of very large house-plants. Even if I am going to have to re-pot them both next weekend.

So, as Paula arrived only about an hour after we got home, all it needed was for me to put a nice pan of sprouts on to boil and don some fluffy mules and I could have started a new career as a slightly seedy boarding-house landlady.

I explained the situation, emphasising how little trouble the cats were and that they were usually models of feline decorum; only to take her upstairs to see the room and to find one asleep on the bed and one on the windowsill. Both shedding enthusiastically.

Despite all this though, (or, more worryingly, perhaps, maybe because of it) she wants to take the room until the election, as she is an assistant to a local MP and is normally based in Westminster. She has taken it for five weeks, ending on May 7th, and can provide both references and a bond.

Yay!

Friday, 18 March 2005

conundrum

Here's a conundrum for you:

We've been advertising our spare room for about three weeks now, with no success, probably because the price was too high. At the weekend, we dropped it down quite a bit, and have had a lot more interest.

Someone from London phoned on Monday, asking if she could come and look at it on Tuesday or Wednesday. I said fine, and she said that she would phone me Tuesday morning to arrange a time. She phoned at about 11am and we arranged 3pm Wednesday.

However, she didn't turn up at 3, and she didn't phone to say she was going to be late.

I waited until 4pm and then decided I was 'out to callers'.

At 4.15, she phoned - being out, I didn't pick up - and left a brief message, asking for directions to the house, no apology or explanation or even mentioning that she was running late. At 4.20, she phoned again and left another short message asking me to phone her. She rang every five or ten minutes for the next two hours.

By then I was in a quandry. I didn't know whether I wanted this person as a lodger.

I don't mind the fact that she was late. But I DO mind the fact that she didn't let me know she was going to be late.

We are going to be sharing a good chunk of both our house and our life with whoever takes this room ... am I being unreasonable to not want to start off having to make allowances for someone who thinks that it's okay to expect me to hang around for an hour and a quarter for them, with no explanation or apology?

I felt extremely uncomfortable about the whole thing.

I was about to call her back at 6.45 when she called again. She claimed to have been calling me since 2pm to ask for directions; this kind of clarified my feeling that she was not someone I want to share space with and we had a conversation that made me feel like the mother of a sulky teenager.

In the meantime I have had two emails and one other phone call asking for more info about the room. I am hoping that at least one of them is sane, wage-earning, non-pathological, reliable and clean, and that I can identify which out of the three that person is.

Thursday, 17 March 2005

we interrupt normal programming ...

I know it's a bit more serious than my usual style, but I feel that I need to post something about the whole abortion debate that is going on in the UK at the moment, rather than contributing to filling up other people's comments boxes with my poorly thought out rantings.

It seems to me that there are a few things going on here:

  • The rights of women over their own bodies and lives
  • Our responsibilities as a society to those women
  • Our responsibilities to the as-yet-unborn
  • A confusion between a foetus and a child
  • Too much emotive rhetoric and behaviour

Women make up 51% of the population. So why do a large number of people think that we are somehow unfit to make our own decisions about what is best for us as far as this particular aspect of our lives goes? And that given access to abortion, pregnant women will be opting for it indiscriminantly and without thought? The focus of the debate needs to be on both the foetus and the mother - just because one is pregnant doesn't give one any fewer or any more rights than someone who isn't, or suddenly make one incapable of making the best decision for oneself and/or a future child. And neither should women with unwanted pregnancies be hung out to dry a la Vera Drake as they were in the past.

Essentially I agree with David Aaronovitch. And I think that we need to have some consensus on this that isn't driven by emotion and, as Green Fairy puts it, imagined

"scenes of tired but radiant new mothers in a plump white hospital beds wistfully yet with a sense of inner peace and satisfaction handing over their newborns to new, strictly heterosexually married adoptive parents".
A significant number of late-term abortions happen because it becomes known that there is something severely wrong with the baby. The number of 'special' children in the Be My Parent adoption magazine we receive is disproportionately large. I suspect that they are mostly there because their parents cannot cope with bringing them up. No-one wants them. Unless a very special adoptor comes along, they will grow up in care. These are the harsh facts. Yet they are facts that seem to pass by most people engaging in the 'stop late abortion' argument.

To conclude:

  • I don't think that a responsible society should view women as baby-making machines who are incapable of deciding what is best for themselves.
  • I don't think abortion is simply a 'women's issue' - children are the future of all of society; and therefore, fertility, contraception and reproduction are not the concern only of females, even though it is females who do all of the carrying and (still) most of the caring for children. And although sometimes it feels like society thinks that these things are 'only' of concern to women.
  • It's not a simple topic and like most people, I don't have any sweeping answers.
  • It's almost impossible to have a sensible discussion about the topic because it's so emotive. Hence the huge number of posts in the 'comments' section of bloggers who have touched on it and which is why, having laid my thing down, I am not going to respond to comments on this post, although do feel free to weigh in below, if you feel you have a point you want to get across.

pregnant pause

Many years ago, when I was in my very early twenties, in (yet) an(other) abusive relationship and was just about to go back to college as part of my escape-plan, I fell pregnant.

I was blissfully, fiercely happy. I desperately wanted the baby and revelled in being pregnant, with a secret, exultant joy. I walked round for a couple of weeks in a dreamy, warm, semi-solomnent state, talking to my belly in the bath, imagining our future together, picturing holding the child, feeding it, playing together, all those wonderful things.

But I didn't have a stable relationship, any money, or a job. My partner was angry and rejecting. I knew that however much I loved them and they loved me, going home and living with my parents would literally drive us all mad. And I knew that with a baby due in September, I wouldn't be able to start college and get out of the relationship trap I'd got myself in to. Having a child at that point was impossible. I was having trouble looking after myself, never mind a baby.

So at eight weeks, I went to the Brook Advisory Clinic and I got two signatures and prepared myself for a termination. I cried and cried and cried. I twisted and turned and explored hundreds of blind alleys to try to think of a way forward that was different, and I couldn't think of a single one that would be good for both me and for the child.

And then I miscarried.

Despite having decided to go for a termination, I was devastated.

In a way however, it was a good thing - it took the whole thing out of my hands and I didn't have to deal with the guilt that I am sure that I would have felt, if I had had to make that final, final decision myself. I grieved for the baby, who I decided would have been a girl. Now she was gone, I bought bootees for her and hid them at the bottom of my drawer so my partner wouldn't find them. While he was at work, I would get them out and sit and hold them and experience a profound sense of grief and loss. I dreamt about her, as both a child and as an adult. She spoke to me in my dreams.

Every year, come September, I remember the day that I decided would have been her birthday. This year would have been the tenth. I don't grieve any more, but I think about how she might have grown up; of the child and the woman she might have become. And I reflect on how different my life might have been - if I hadn't miscarried and had had the termination; or if I hadn't miscarried and had decided I couldn't go through with what is at that stage, really quite a simple operation.

Wednesday, 16 March 2005

birthday coming up

I'd like a goat for my birthday please. It's not until May, but I thought I'd ask now so people have time to get a nice one.

Actually, I'd like several goats, with big floppy ears and pointy beards and soulful expressions.

I have compiled a Master Plan to keep them in our back yard, with access to the shed and little plaid coats for when it's wet, and I have a mental image of me taking them for walks on the prom all in a line tied together with string.

Sadly though, B has put his foot down. I think I played my 'pony' card too early; the idea was that I'd scare him so much by my plan for a pony that he'd give in to the goats in a flood of relief.

Damn.

However, during the "A Goat Or Our Marriage, Your Choice" discussion, we agreed that a new kitten might not be out of the question. We already have one-and-three-quarter cats - Simpkin, who is the size of a small house (prompting the Ealing Comedy Comment from the boy who came to help the man fit the new gas fire:

[assume perky cockney accent]
"Cor, Mrs! That cat's as big as a dog!"
[/accent])
and Mrs Three Legs, who is named for obvious reasons and usually responds to 'Puss'.

However, if a goat arrives in the post, perhaps gift-wrapped and with a bag of feed, I am hoping that B will instantly fall in love with it and not be able to send it away.

Monday, 14 March 2005

cross-pollination

An unashamed plug for credits (I really like the site and the concept!):

I have joined The New Jane network of female-focused blogs (see their ad-box on the right-hand side in the 'Adverts' section for sample of their click-exchange ads) and their sister-site, Blogs By Women, which is a free-to-join directory.

I really like both the unobtrusive nature of the New Jane text-ad format, and the fact that there are a growing number of really interesting bloggers joining. Obviously the more people who join, the better the networking concept will work. But sorry chaps, it's women only ... .

[/unashamed plug]

just magic

Overheard on Friday night at our local indian restaurant from a table of four kids and one mum, all scallys:

Child 1: "And then they were going to kill Buckeye the hippagraf"
Mother: "It's hippogriff"
Child 1: "You say it hippagraf"
Mother: "Hippogriff"
Child 1: "Hippagraf, hippagraf, hippagraf"
Mother: "It's FUCKING HIPPOGRIFF, okay!"
Children 1-4: [Embarrassed silence]

Sunday, 13 March 2005

the pain and the glory

I have just introduced my Ma to the pleasures of ebay. She wants an electric potter's wheel and they are ridiculously expensive new ... so she sent me a text, asking if there were any on ebay.

Let me just go over that again:

  • A text
  • Asking about using ebay

I had to have a bit of a sit-down and a stiff drink before I replied, such was the shock.

However, she didn't want to set up her own account, in case the Unspecified Evil Internet Fraudsters steal all her money and/or her identity to use to deal drugs/porn/children and she doesn't quite grasp the ebay mechanism of deciding what your upper limit is and swooping in like a hawk during the last thirty seconds to secure your item.

Hence I have spent the last twenty five minutes on the phone having a conversation that went something like this:

Ma: What's it gone up to now?
Me: £265
Ma: Oh. Well. [sigh]. Perhaps we could put in £275?
Me: Ok. What about waiting a bit and then putting in something like £410.19 ... if you think it's worth that much?
Ma: Er. No, go on, put in £275
Me: Ok. Done. We're winning
[discussion about puppies and their toileting habits]
Ma: What's happening?
Me: You've been outbid. It's gone up to £310
Ma: Oh. [Pause]. Perhaps we could go up to £320?
Me: Okay ... done.
[discussion about who has recently died in the village]
Ma: What's happening?
Me: You've been outbid. It's gone up to £360
Ma: Oh. [Pause]. Perhaps we could go up to £370?
Me: Okay ... done.
[discussion about Aunt Edith's stolen accordian]

... and so on.
Eventually we were outbid at £425.

We are going to try again on another one a bit later on this evening.

Friday, 11 March 2005

sowed with salt

I have just been for an initial appointment with a Specialist Nurse at the fertility clinic.

I don't really know what I was doing there - the Sister didn't really explain what the process was going to be or answer any of my questions fully. She also said that endometriosis has no effect on fertility and the best thing for it is to have a baby. As I understand it, the first statement is not strictly true and the second one definitely isn't; which does not inspire confidence.

None of my results from the bloods I had taken before christmas had been forwarded on to her, which made her job more difficult.

I had an internal ultrasound scan (yeuch) though, which showed everything that one would expect and nothing that one wouldn't. It did show lots of things that might be about to attack the Enterprise though.

I have another appointment in six weeks, by which time she thinks she should have managed to locate the missing test results.

She thinks that the SSRIs may be making my body produce too much prolactin, which may delay or prevent ovulation, and reitierated what the GP said about coming off them if I catch as they can cause nervous deformities in the foetus. She sent me over the road to have a test to see if my prolactin was high. She also said that the tablets would probably have made my cycle longer since I started taking them, and didn't really listen to me when I said that in fact it had got shorter. She dismissed the monthly bloating that I experience as gas, ignoring the fact that it also affects my breasts and that I can generally pinpoint to within a couple of hours when I've ovulated because of it. She didn't give me a chance to say that I had been taking my temperature, which also indicates that I am ovulating.

Despite all that, it wasn't an all together negative experience. I accept that I like to know all the ins-and-outs of everything in the Nth degree and that practitioners just don't have time to give patients all the science. And she was a nice woman who was very sensitive as she was doing the scan, which I was dreading.

Two next steps, apparently:

  1. Test to see whether my tubes are blocked. Non-invasive, which is nice.
  2. Taking some kind of medication on the first five days of my cycle every month to stimulate ovulation. I should thinnk this will probably involve hormonal mood-swings.

Oh good.

It appears that as far as the SSRIs go, whether we choose the adoption route or the assisted conception route, I am screwed. The routes available are:

  1. Just stop taking them, and see if I go bonkers again
  2. Come off them gradually, and see if I go bonkers again
  3. Come off them gradually, replace them with fish oil, and see if I go bonkers again
  4. Come off them gradually, replace them with a tricyclic that doesn't effect fertility or foetal development, and see if I go bonkers again

As you can see, there is a theme here.

This month's baby catalogue (BAAF monthly 'Be My Parent' magazine, so named by my friend Tessa) came today.

A weekend spent thinking about our options, I guess.

Thursday, 10 March 2005

lost and found

Things I have lost this week:

  • mobile phone charger
  • online access PIN for my bank account
  • three socks
  • power lead for old computer I want to recycle
  • jar of jam I was sure was in back of cupboard
  • B's driving licence

Things I have found this week, whilst looking for the things I have lost:

  • mobile phone charger for phone before last
  • headset for PC I bought before a) I moved in with B and b) I realised that my sound-card was only half-duplex and therefore B and I were never going to have telephone sex using an internet connection
  • staples for old stapler
  • skirt in style of Lauren Bacall of horrendously expensive harris tweed that I never finished making and am now too round to wear
  • the bits for the food mixer that look like they are for mincing small children's fingers
  • lamp base made by my father out of an old newel post that I have never got round to having repaired
  • 10 meters of CAT 5 with no jacks on either end
  • lipgloss, which I haven't been known to wear since about 1989
  • non-slip yoga mat
  • flute
  • rape alarm, boxed

I could safely have thrown that box out without going through it, then.

But I still have a sock-jam-driver's licence crisis.

Wednesday, 9 March 2005

currently reading

I am currently reading:

Land of Spices by Kate O'Brien
Set in an Irish nunnery at the turn of the century. A beautifully written story that focuses on the relationship between the Reverend Mother and a young pupil. The characterisation is fantastic and the novel is evocative and dreamy and completely absorbing. I really care about all the protagenists, even the ones who aren't particularly likeable!

Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man and Sherston's Progress by Siegfried Sassoon
The first and third volumns of Sassoon's fictionalised autobiography. The first covers his childhood and young adulthood during the pre-war years and as he joins the army at the beginning of the first world war. The second covers the period from 1917 onwards when he was invalided out with shell-shock and eventually went back to the front, only to get a head-wound and be hospitalised again. I enjoyed both books - the first is evocative of a bygone age and the second describes Sassoon's revulsion with the conflict. I'm currently bidding for the middle volume "Memoirs of an Infantry Officer" on on ebay, to complete the trilogy, as I got their order confused.

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhem
A SF novel, set in a future where fertility has dropped off cataclysmically for all living creatures. Cloning, by a small band of scientists, ensures the survivial of humanity and some domestic creatures ... up to a point. The novel is really in three parts - the time of the cataclysm when the clones are created, a few generations later, when the clones need to leave their family groups to find much-needed resources; and a final period, when there is a return to individuality. I like Wilhelm's style and I like post-apocolyptic fiction. She is a very prolific writer and I also enjoyed The Clewiston Test, which has the same theme of 'biology gone mad'.

Tuesday, 8 March 2005

sounds fishy to me

I have come across this book about how taking a supplement of essential fatty acids can help with the treatment of depression.

Because of the issue the adoption agency had with me being on anti-depressants, and because my GP has said that I will need to come off the SSRIs if I fall pregnant, it seems sensible to look for alternatives.

Apparently one can take 1000mg of EPA daily and it should have an effect on the situation, visible after a month and very visible after three months. Unlike St John's Wort (which I took for a while before I went on the SSRIs and which did help) it can also be taken alongside regular medication. I've ordered some today.

In the course of my surfing to find a supplier, I came across this article in the Observer. The author read the book and tried the treatment - he basically concludes that it has helped him, although it is not a miracle cure.

He also mentions the stigma associated with anti-depressants and their association in people's minds with weakness. This is true, and I have to say, it really ticks me off.

bone-ectomy

Someone has stolen all my bones.

They must have sneaked up on me while I was asleep at the weekend and done a total bone-ectomy.

Conclusion: I can no longer stay up all night and bounce straight back in to routine the next day. Hence the lack of blogging towards the end of last week.

Our big job in Manchester last week went very well indeed, and the client was really happy ... however, it did entail working from midday Wednesday until 7.30 am on Thursday. And despite the fact that I managed to get a couple of hours sleep while the show was on, I've not quite recovered.

B and R have been a bit less adversely effected I think, which is all to the good, since they've both had other work since, and sending out technicians who closely resemble extras from Shaun of the Dead is probably not a good move. Although I suppose that some people might say that it would be an improvment on their normal appearance.

While they've been out, I have been shuffling around in my slippers and filling in forms for yet another mortgage broker who sounds very efficient ... almost scarily so in fact. We have been recommended to him via a long chain of friends, so we'll see how it goes. After the Mortgage Debacle of a couple of weeks ago, we had decided to let things ride with the office/flat purchase - however, on Friday, the vendor of a property that we saw a month ago accepted the offer we'd made him. We'd thought he had gone away, as despite chasing the estate agent we had heard nothing from him in all that time.

I don't trust this estate agent further than I can spit a medium-sized rat (we bought our house via them and they tried to push us up by nearly 20% of the purchase price at the last minute), so we are hoping to move along to exchange ASAP.