Thursday, 30 June 2005

adoption-smoption 2

The meeting went well.

It lasted about an hour and a half and was very intense. We both felt really drained afterwards. It's purpose was to fill us in on any questions we might have, to give us information and to make an initial assessment (very subjective at this stage) of our suitability as adopters.

We thought we knew most of the information - about the children who are looking for adopters, about their background, about the process of being approved, about the legal process. And we did know most of the things that the adoption worker spoke about.

The Borough Council also have a policy about people who are on or who have been on anti-depressants. This is fabulous - the other agency just seemed to be making it up as they went along. The policy is that a prospective adopter must have been off the medication for six months before they are 'picked up' to start the assessment process.

Since we would have to attend preparation groups before that and the earliest round of them is in September, (and more realistically in November, because of staff shortages), there is no issue. The adoption worker was very clued up on depression and used the phrase 'reactive depression' before I could. I feel really comfortable about that side of things.

Two things shocked us. She asked us for our understanding of the things the children would have been through. We listed:

  • witnessing violence and abuse, possibly sexual
  • being subjected to violence and abuse, possibly sexual
  • neglect, starvation, lack of emotional contact

We were quite smug about our level of knowledge.

Then, she said that they had a relatively large number of children in their care who had witnessed the murder of a sibling.

And she asked us whether we would be prepared to get rid of the cats if necessary. Not just because of a potential child with athsma or excema. But because they do have some cases of children being sexually abused using animals, and they are therefore terrified of them.

We thought we were unshockable. We are not unshockable.

She also covered finance. We thought that we would not be eligible for any financial help - but it looks as if we would be able to claim tax credits as well as family allowance and an adoption allowance. This is a big relief, as we have been a bit concerned about that side of things.

Finally, she asked us if we had fully examined our feelings about not having a biological family of our own.

All in all, we were impressed with her thoroughness.

So we are going to fill in the form and send it back. We need two people to be referees for us, who are interviewed pretty rigourously themselves. We have to give permission for CRB-checks and B has to list all the places he was worked abroad in the last x number of years and they do international checks.

It is going to be a long process - but it is a process that we have now started. And I feel the same way about process as my friend Nina from the WI - she loves it. It gives a framework and a structure to follow.

We both feel very tired. But we have started the journey.

Wednesday, 29 June 2005

adoption-smoption

We have the person from the local council services Adoption Team coming round for a preliminary visit in an hour.

I am pretty stressed. My natural reaction is to clean everything - B keeps trying to reassure me that at this stage she will NOT be checking the cleanliness of the top shelf of the larder, but I just can't seem to help myself.

I am frantically surfing to try to avoid thinking about it.

territorial waters

The place:
Howletts Wildlife Park, Kent

The people:
Me, B, a married pair of friends of ours and their three year old

The incident:
Did you know that tigers behave territorially in exactly the same way as domestic cats? They pace up and down along the perimeter of their territory and they lay scent markers. Did you know that when a tiger pees, it sprays a good eight feet in to the air and eight feet backwards? That's all the way through the chain-link fence and over the security fence.

And over some of the people standing there, going "gosh, look, they behave territorially in exactly the same way as domestic cats!".

We had to drive home with all the car windows open.

--
Incidentally, they also breed gorillas for release in to the wild. I thoroughly recommend a visit, although it's probably best to pick a day when it won't be full of people escaped from Chav Central who are doing monkey impressions beside the cages. Generally the gorillas behave with much more grace, intelligence and understanding than their human cousins.

Tuesday, 28 June 2005

the long goodbye

B's Great Aunt, Kate, is visiting us this morning, while Vic helps me with a bit more of my wall.

Kate has recently moved in with Vic and Kate (B's mum Kate is her niece and is named after her - sorry, confusing, but true).

She's moved in with them and given up her own house because she has become increasingly frail and needs some help - not with her personal care, but with cleaning, cooking, making sure she takes her tablets etc. etc..

She is a game old lady of 86, who was a tram conductor in Liverpool during the second world war and who has an enormous stock of dirty jokes. She was one of nine children - eight girls and a boy - and there are now only two of them left, her and a sister who emigrated to Australia in the 1950's.

Kate has a son, who is married with four children.

Between them, the four children have about ten children of their own.

For a couple of years before Auntie Kate moved in with Vic and Kate, her son and daughter in law were 'caring' for her. This involved them effectively using her house as a doss-house. Her son Harry is a taxi driver who works the night shift, finishes in the early hours and then comes home and sleeps until early afternoon. His wife, Kerry, keeps the same hours. Auntie Kate hardly saw them. They would come and go without telling her when, or if, they'd be back. So some nights she'd end up sitting up for them until midnight, waiting to see whether they'd come in or not, so that she could lock the door.

Apparently Kerry and Kate have never had a particularly good relationship. This became more and more evident during the two years, and culminated in Kerry one day packing up her husband and her things and moving back to her own house. The reason? Auntie Kate had knocked on their bedroom door and then opened it to peep in at 1pm one day, to check whether they were there or not.

Kerry also went through all of Auntie Kate's things and threw lots of things out without consultation - knitting patterns, old photographs and personal items of her husband and her deceased son.

Kerry is a bully. She bullies her husband, she bullies her children and she bullies Auntie Kate. She keeps telling everyone in the family how Auntie Kate has spent forty years making her life hell. By doing things like not giving her and her husband money to go on holiday. She can't let the past go.

Last night, we went round to Vic and Kate's for tea. While we were there, Harry and Kerry called in to drop off some of Auntie Kate's post. Kerry wouldn't come in to the house, so Auntie Kate went out to the car to say 'hello'. And Kerry turned her head away and wouldn't speak to her.

Auntie Kate asked her if it would be possible to arrange to meet up with the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren at some point.

Kerry replied that it was not her place to arrange that any more, it was down to her daughters.

So later on last night, Auntie Kate asked Vic to dial the number of one of her grandaughters.

The grandaughter's husband picked up the phone, Vic had a brief word with him and then passed the phone over to Auntie Kate, expecting him to pass his end over to the grandaughter, Jennie.

Instead, the husband spent fifteen minutes telling Auntie Kate how Jennie no longer wanted to speak to her or have anything to do with her, because Kate had treated Harry and Kerry so badly.

Auntie Kate was in tears.

I'm nearly in tears, typing this.

Kerry won't discuss whatever her issue is with Auntie Kate. Instead she is busy turning the children against her.

I know families don't always get on. God knows I had enough problems with my ex-mother-in-law. And I know that grandmothers can be sweet little old ladies to outsiders and viragos to their own family. My own grandmother was a case in point.

But to use the children in a personal vendetta against an old lady - who, let's be frank here - probably only has a couple more years of life left - is evil.

I am fuming. Vic is really distressed - his Kate is away this week and he is dealing with this without her. Auntie Kate is downstairs talking to B and trying to pretend that it doesn't matter and that we are enough for her. We love her and she knows it. But however much you love your niece and their family, it doesn't make up for being cut out by your own.

Monday, 27 June 2005

back, front, up, down

B is home.

I am home.

In fact, we are both home.

We are tired - Saturday's job finished at 4.30 on Sunday morning, which was when the wagon came to collect the flight cases.

The driver had to wake us both up from where we were curled up on top of them in the entrance to the venue, wrapped in the bottom of the slightly smelly curtains that were hanging there to stop the draught. We couldn't decide whether they smelt slightly of mothballs, fire-retardant or of wee - but by that stage we were too tired to care.

I managed to curl up so that whenever I opened my eyes I could see him and prove to myself that he wasn't in Germany. An odd way to demonstrate ones happy-husband-home glee, but I felt it was necessary.

Yesterday we slept spasmodically, ate pizza and watched half of South Pacific before sleeping some more.

Today we have done some paperwork, done some planning and interviewed someone who we want to take on for three months in the autumn to cover our busy period.

Now wine and the bath beckons. There is almost a whole wall now between the part of the bathroom with the bath in it and the part with the basin and toilet in it, so Polish Lodger should be alright for a wee when he gets home, provided we hang a towel over the gap and he whistles.

Vic is coming to finish the plasterboarding off tomorrow. Yay!

Friday, 24 June 2005

return

B is back tonight. I'm collecting him from the airport at 9.30. However, as usual, there is a catch.

Instead of coming home, we are staying in a hotel close to the airport in Manchester, in order to be on site at 7am tomorrow for a gig close by. It seemed like madness to come home late and then get up at 5am to drive all the way back again.

The gig is a dinner-and-disco effort. It is going to take all day to rig, including thrutching around with a cherrypicker, and it doesn't finish until 1am Sunday morning, when we start the de-rig.

I am guessing that we won't be home until about 6am Sunday morning.

Both of us could do without it really, but it's for a client we do quite a lot of work for.

On the good side - Polish Lodger seems really happy about feeding the cats while we're gone. I hope B won't be too upset by this ... :).

R and I are going to finish sorting the office out and then he is going to go home early afternoon, whilst I have a nap to build my sleep reserves up.

Roll on Sunday ...

Thursday, 23 June 2005

husband torture

The plumbers have not returned. I feel used. I felt we could have been so happy together. It may be that I am prematurely announcing the death of our relationship and Plumber Time is similar to Boy Time. But I have my doubts. I think it might be over.

So I am amusing myself by spending my some of my regular evening phone call with B by telling him all about how nice our new lodger is. B is showing an unusual amount of testosterone in his replies:

Me: So Polish Lodger seems like a really nice chap. Very young, of course.
B: Oh?
Me: Yes, some of the WI thought he was quite attractive when they met him the other night. Dani and I think he's okay - but a bit young.
B: What does he look like then?
Me: Oh, he's quite short. He's got dreadlocks. And very smooth skin. He's got lovely manners. He comes and tells me when he's going out.
B: I'm pleased he seems okay.
Me: I lent him your bike yesterday - he'd got a new job and was late for work. He borrowed it at the weekend, too, and cycled out to the coast.
B: My bike! He should get his own bike! He'll be wearing my tyres out!
Me: [silently] Yes! Score!
I had a whole moment where I could visualise B going through a rapid but unacknowledged mental process something like:
"He's riding my bike! Is he wearing my slippers as well?! Is he getting his feet under the table while I'm away?!"
B is back tomorrow. I am very happy; it's been a long three weeks.

drug dealing for cats

My bed is covered in drool, and not in a good way.

A friend of mine was given a large number cat toys by a friend of hers a few days ago and she has passed a few of them on to me.

I made the mistake of giving one to Mrs Three Legs yesterday when she was laid out on my bed. It turned out to be stuffed with catnip. An hour later I came back to find her with pupils the size of saucers and the bed covered in hair and drool where she had been rolling round.

I've had to change all the bed coverings and I've made a mental note to self to keep recreational drugs out of the bedroom.

Monday, 20 June 2005

plumber, redux

This evening I have been along to a barbeque at Dani and R's. I have sunk three burgers and not quite half a bottle of red wine and cycled back in the sunshine. I feel that all is well with the world. This is particularly true because I think I have found a plumber.

Just let me type that again, to savour the phrase:

I think I have found a plumber.
Or to be more precise, a pair of plumbers. Let's just say that one more time:
I think I have found a pair of plumbers.
It went like this:

  • They came round roughly when they said they would.
  • They smiled and shook my hand and apologised for being a bit late.
  • They assessed the job.
  • They went outside to look at the soil-stack.
  • They told a couple of bad jokes.
  • They asked a couple of relevant questions.
  • They said they thought it would take about a week, all together.
  • And then, they went away to think about a quote.

I think I love them.

Admittedly they may not fulfill their early promise and I might be taking the relationship for granted at too early a stage, without waiting for it to develop at it's own pace.

But I want to marry them. Both of them. They are probably married already, but so am I, so that is fine.

To get a new toilet that actually flushes the poo away and to no longer have to poke at it with our poo-poking-stick to make it disappear, I am prepared to divorce B and marry either or both of them.

AND, they do tiling, as well.

batman begins

Well. Batman Begins. Goodness. Christian Bale. Oh my.

I went along to see it yesterday because everyone else was going and I thought it would get me out of the house - it's not the sort of thing I'd normally choose to see at the cinema.

It was fab. Moody, dark, funny, sad, loud, quiet and all in all, utterly engaging. I'd been put off by the earlier Tim Burton films, but this was fantastic.

And did I mention that it has Christian Bale in it?

Sunday, 19 June 2005

definitely plodding

It's been a difficult few days. I have started to miss B really badly. A week I can cope with, but three weeks is too long. When he's away for a week, I thoroughly enjoy the first few days. I have long evenings in the bath or in front of the dvd player with a couple of glasses of wine and some junk food and two doting cats. Then at about Day Four I start to miss him and I'm ready for him to come home.

Three weeks messes my schedule up and I don't like it.

Because he's away working odd hours it's difficult for him to schedule time in for 'proper' phone calls and we end up having mutually unsatisfactory exchanges where he's actually focused on something else. I get upset, he gets upset that I'm upset and down we go in to one of those death-spiral not-quite-rows that leave you feeling like you want to phone back and have a 'proper' chat. Only you can't, because the same thing will happen again.

And to make matters worse, we've had a technical hitch with mobile phone tariffs and have just received a bill for £300 to cover the last fortnight.

Ouch.

When he went I formulated a plan to keep me active, keep me talking to people and get me out of the house, rather than letting myself become a bit disassociated and reclusive and depressed. It's tailing off a bit now and I've reached the point where I need a bit of a kick start. So this afternoon, Nina and Tom have very assertively taken me in hand - we are going to get some lunch, browse a few shops and watch a movie.

Then B and I have arranged to have a nice chat on the landline at his digs later this evening.

Saturday, 18 June 2005

flambards

Thank you Christine!

I have been ranting about Flambards to friends, aquaintances and random people I've met in the street for nearly two months now and no-one has had the slightest idea of what I'm talking about. Excepting Nina from the WI of course, who seems to be on exactly the same wave-length as me, TV-drama-wise.

I was starting to think that she and I were sharing some sort of spooky joint hallucination.

I fell in love with the 'Flambards' books by K. M. Peyton in my early teens. Then I discovered that there had been a TV serial in the late seventies that I'd missed. While B has been away it has seemed the most natural thing in the world to bump them to the top of our DVD rental list and wallow in an orgy of nostalgia.

What more could anyone ask for:

  • set around the time of the First World War
  • two brothers are both in love with their cousin Christina
  • fantastic horses
  • early aeroplanes
  • romance, elopements, weddings, soldiers, deaths, funerals and babies. The whole nine yards.

I haven't washed the kitchen floor all week, I've been so entranced.

Friday, 17 June 2005

nerves

I am building a wall.

Yesterday I ordered the plasterboard, batons and screws and had them delivered.

This morning, I put my building trousers on, as they make me look as if I might know what I am doing.

I have just finished a Partition Wall Building Masterclass from Vic, my long-suffering and DIY-enabled father-in-law and now I am on my own.

I am scared.

It's not a big wall - it's to close up an archway between one bit of our bathroom and another, to make two smaller bathrooms - a shower room and a bigger room with a bath. I know what I need to do, it's not too complicated:

  • screw the batons on to the existing wall to make a frame
  • attach the plasterboard to the frame

Hmmm.

I am going to watch some Flambards for a bit to calm my nerves.

Thursday, 16 June 2005

miscalculation

A minor miscalculation - I'd forgotten quite how traumatic Steel Magnolias is. A brief synopsis:

  • Julia Roberts has severe diabetes, so she shouldn't have babies of her own
  • The won't consider her for adoption because of her medical history
  • She gets pregnant anyway
  • She dies, leaving behind a devoted husband and a baby
  • Her mother, Sally Field, is supported by her fantastic female friends and copes in a stalwart fashion

I have spent the last two hours sobbing on the sofa and I have run out of tissues. All I need now is a go with Truly Madly Deeply followed by Brief Encounter and I will be a basket case for the rest of the week.

Instead, I gritted my teeth and moved on to Five Children and It, to which I give a resolute thumbs down, despite the all-star cast. It's awful. Nothing like the fantastic book I remember from my childhood. I didn't manage to get to the end. It went back in to it's envelope and in to the post box.

I've got Vanity Fair and The Golden Bowl lined up for this evening, thanks to the WI.

Tomorrow Vic, my father-in-law, is coming round to help me build a partition wall as part of our quest to divide our enormous, but slightly crummy, bathroom in to two smaller rooms. I shall be glad to get rid of the batoning and the plasterboard stacked up in the hall.

heckled

The WI came round for pizza and a few drinks last night.

They are bad, bad women.

Poor Polish Lodger was given a thorough examination, offered pizza and then discussed, in every aspect, in absentio.

No mime was involved. Although to be frank, I don't think it would have bothered them. He held his end up gracefully, and even more kudos to him for being able to flirt in a foreign language.

Example:

Me: "Polish Lodger, would you like a glass of wine?"
PL: [with VERY foxy grin] "Ally! Are you trying to get me drunk?"
Me: [bibble]

He hasn't got a job yet - but he's got himself half a dozen interviews lined up over the next few days and seems happy to walk everywhere, including retail parks that aren't designed to be accessed on foot. I wish I had his enthusiasm - I have decided to take the morning off and am going to sit on the sofa with the biggest tea-pot of tea that I can find and watch 'Steel Magnolias'.

Wednesday, 15 June 2005

of gerbils and men


This is a picture from the Handy Household Gadgets catalogue that I get regularly through the door. That IS a dead mouse, isn't it?

Or at least, if not dead, it has been resting for quite some time and has nasty pins and needles in its extremities:


I have spent the last week in a slightly bemused state, trying to work out:

a) Whether it's a stuffed one that they have got in reserve for just such a photo-opportunity. Or whether it's just the one they caught the night before using the Humane Mousetrap, that perhaps died by accident and they've decided not to waste.

and

b) Whether it's actually a gerbil. And if so, whether that makes it better, or worse.

Thoughts?


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Tuesday, 14 June 2005

still not dead

Sorry Ms.Mac. Yes, I am still alive.

Our new lodger is from Poland, a final-year student visiting the UK for the summer. He arrived last night at nine o'clock and he seems more nervous of me than I am of him.

Part of me is slightly offended by this and part of me is flattered.

He's gone out to look for a job, despite that fact that he doesn't know anyone in the area and his English is a bit rusty. All he has is a list of Jobcentre addresses and a willingness to mime.

Kudos.

VAT return update: I still haven't done it [sigh].

Monday, 13 June 2005

if i never post again

If I never post again, it's because our new lodger has killed me in my sleep, stewed my bones and eaten them with custard.

Or because I spent the next three hours cleaning before he arrives and dropped dead from exhaustion.

crazy tom is back

Crazy Tom is back.

Well, strictly speaking, he's not back in person ... but he's back in my email.

With a perfectly polite enquiry about whether I want anything out of his house (i.e. the house we used to co-own) before he sells it.

He asked a mutual friend for my email address, so I knew an email was coming, as she had asked me whether it was okay to give the address out to him.

It was still a really odd feeling to see his email pop in to my in-box.

I knew, through his neighbours, that he was selling the place, so it didn't come as a shock. Another thing that wasn't a shock was that he neglected to mention that his house has increased in price by approximately 200% since he bought me out of it four years ago.

Since we are now apparently on civil terms again, I am working hard at feeling pleased for him about that.

Hmmm.

Must try harder.

Sunday, 12 June 2005

five things i miss about my childhood

Finally I've got my head around the Childhood Memories Meme. Here are my five things I miss about my childhood. I've appended the meme instructions below, as I found them SO confusing.

1. Sundays. We used to saddle up our ponies at about half past seven in the morning and ride out over the Quantocks for the whole day. We'd take some sandwiches and we wouldn't come back until it was dark. We used to go miles, with a ragged old map Pa had. We never particularly worried about getting lost and if it was getting dark before we got home, we'd stop and knock on the door of complete stranger's houses and ask to use their phones to tell Ma that we were okay and on our way back.

2. Early mornings. Especially after Tech Toddler Natalie managed to work out how to open the drop-side on her cot - I used to go downstairs to the kitchen and get the kitchen knife for her, and she would use it on the catch. We'd quite often get up before our parents in the summer and we'd go next door to our Great Uncle, who was up with the lark (he spent seven years in the Indian Army in the 1920's). We'd scrounge toast and slices of apple from him and then go out on 'adventures', at the advanced age of two or three and five or six. Once we collected a whole ice-cream container full of snails that we brought home and left on top of the freezer in the utility room. By the time Ma and Pa got up they'd all made a break for freedom and it took ages to collect them up again. The snail-slime was everywhere.

3. Keeping chickens. I used to earn my pocket money keeping hens and selling the eggs. And we had fancy breeds as well. I find chickens soothing company. Their brains are so small that they aren't stressful to be around at all :) . It was very simple economics - a) Buy chickens. b) Buy chicken feed. c) Feed chickens. d) Collect eggs. e) Sell eggs. f) Use money to buy chicken feed. g) Use excess money to buy books. h) Repeat from c).

4. Playing with water - we spent days and days each summer trying to build enough of a dam in the stream at the bottom of the field to make a pool big enough to splash around in. We never managed it, but each summer we'd start it as a project. Or we'd spend a week 'mapping' the course of the stream from Ma's field all the way down to the village. This involved tracing it's course personally, of course - we'd get stuck in the boggy bits and lose our wellington boots, or fall in. One year we had a rubber dingy that we used on the duck-pond. It didn't inflate very well and we regularly had to go overboard to fish it out - I can still feel the disgusting sensation of the mixture of duck-poo and mud between my toes. (That's something I don't miss!). And we used to run through the commercial-sized irrigation in the greenhouses or out on the chrysanthamum-ground on hot days and get soaked.

5. My Granny. We were 'pals'. I used to spend Saturdays at her house. She'd help me make a den out of her clothes horses and spare rugs, or get involved with my latest obsession. One week I'd become obsessed by Houdini and persuaded her to tie me up so that I could magically get myself free. She waited for ages before she untied me :) . She'd send me out to the ice-cream van when it parked in the lay-by on her estate for two chocolate ices and we'd have them with fruit for tea. We'd watch 'Basil Brush' and then it would be time to go home - unless I stayed late, when it would be Dr Who from behind the sofa :) .

Meme Instructions!

Now for the complicated bit. I am dead confused about what I do with the list-thingy involved with this. That's partly because I'm dead confused and partly because I've been tagged by two people - Cheryl at
Mad Baggage and Cin at It's Raining Again. On a first-come-first-served basis, Cin's time-stamp is earlier ... so here's her list. And I guess that strictly speaking, that's the one that the people I've tagged should use:

  1. Riehlworldview
  2. Third World County
  3. BTW
  4. It's Raining Again
  5. ducking for apples

But to make things fair, here's Cheryl's list as well:

  1. Chaos Theory
  2. Wired JAFA
  3. Bad Aunt
  4. Mad Baggage
  5. ducking for apples

And here are the people I've tagged, who I hope won't be too offended and grumpy with me if they're not up for it: Ms Mac at Ms Mac's Meanderings, Rhys at The Gospel According To Rhys, Sarah at The Confuzzlement of a Sazzle, Christine at Supermum: Saga Lout, and Annie at Annies Rambles. Anyone else, please feel free to tag yourself and join in!

The instructions are:

  • Knock the person at the top of the list off and add yourself on to the bottom
  • Then tag five people to do the meme.
  • [sighs with relief at having finally finished it]

    Saturday, 11 June 2005

    rice is nice

    Did I mention The Rice?

    B is on a three week gig in Stuttgart, Germany, with Stan's Cafe Theatre Company and four articulated lorries full of rice - one grain for each person in the world.

    I have been getting excited text message all week saying things like:

    "Hello! We're piling up China today!"

    I have almost decided to fly out next weekend and visit him, cheap flights permitting. If you are in or around or can get to Stuttgart, drop in and have a look - it will be impressive.

    (Cin, Cheryl, I'm still working on that meme ... finding it quite hard!)

    the death of sleep

    It is 12.25 am and I have not long come home. I need:

    1. A shower
    2. A drink of water
    3. Sleep, and lots of it

    The job seems to have gone okay. R had a terrible, terrible time on Wednesday and Thursday - our special delivery gobos (the metal or glass patterns that slide in front of the lamps to throw colours and shapes on the walls) didn't arrive at the hotel as promised, and I spent two hours chasing them and getting them redelivered while he sweated to get the rest of the show up. That went okay.

    But then the desk with all the buttons that allows you to control which lights are on or off / up or down / different colours somehow stopped talking to the lamps. That was quite bad, particularly as it didn't happen in a consistent fashion, but on and off, randomly.

    Then two of the lamps that move round to throw the prettiest patterns on the walls and ceiling turned out to be faulty. That was quite bad, too.

    Then we didn't have enough four-pin cable to run a particular kind of lamp in the particular configuration we wanted. That was worse.

    Then lots of other stuff that is technical and relatively un-interesting unless you are a lamping nerd; basically lots of things that on their own were just minor glitches. But they all happened one after the other, at speed.

    R was fabulous, although really, really stressed (and God knows what our phone bills are going to be for technical assistance to B in Germany). He made it all look really good, and the client seems happy enough. He has invited us to the pub for a debrief on Monday lunchtime - if he's going to carpet us, I don't think he'd have offered to waste good beer on us.

    I am going to bed now, to think about five thing I miss from my childhood in order to do this meme-thingy I've been tagged for ... item 1 on my list above can wait until tomorrow.

    Tuesday, 7 June 2005

    triumphal tea

    I have reconciled the business accounts software with the bank statements!

    Finally. I've been putting it off for three months, that's how much it's been stressing me. Initially I thought I'd lost £865 somewhere, but it was only hiding. Now it all adds up down to the last penny and I am triumphant and no longer ashamed to hand it all over to the accountant to check. I've printed out audit trails, and everything.

    From tomorrow, I am gigging in an odd-shaped hotel in London until Friday.

    Things to remember:

    1. diary
    2. pants
    3. steel toe-cap boots
    4. to forward office phone on to mobile
    5. bottle for water
    6. phone charger

    It's suddenly sunny. I am going to go and have a celebratory cup of tea sat on the bench outside the back door, beside my new lavender bush.

    anarchy is all very well Neville, but who will look after the drains?

    We left Ma's at just the right time. A Drains Crisis was about to erupt. This is similar to Suez, but with more poo. And whilst I don't want to step on Scaryduck's territory here, I think it's worth blogging :).

    Apparently the Biker-Plumber who came to fix up the outside toilet identified a problem with the sewer between there and the septic tank - due to disuse, it had started to silt up.

    And according to Ma, the sewer between the house and the septic tank has been backing up 'a bit' for the last three months; she says because of fat from the kitchen sink, which also drains in to it.

    The septic tank is a brick-built 1930's masterpiece under a corner of the garden, that, when working properly, mulches away nicely and then drains its residue out across next door's field. They have the most fantastically lush grass in a ten foot strip all down the slope, even in the worst drought.

    So far, so good.

    On Thursday, after all our friends had left, B and I went up to the house for breakfast and walked in to something out of a Restoration Drama:

    • Ma was debating whether or not it was fair to ask Edwin to rod the drains, and deciding 'probably not' in view of his various medical conditions. She was also stressing about whether she'd be able to do it herself.
    • Pa was panicking because he has reached a stage in his life where toilet facilities are important to him.
    • And he was also stressed because he was not able to rod the drains himself.

    We ate our toast, and tried not to get involved.

    They finally decided to call the Biker-Plumber up to have a look. At that point, we finished packing the car and made a hasty exit. Although not before having a wee in the hedge on the way out.

    When we got home, we received a telephone update, which I feel is the best kind where drains are concerned.

    Biker-Plumber does not do drains.

    But she knows a man who does - 'Dave Drain', who has all the latest drain-gizmos, including a pressure-hose.

    Dave Drain came and had a look.

    But he can't do anything with his pressure-hose thing, because the septic tank is full and the result would be unpleasantly explosive. So he's recommended a friend of his who pumps out tanks to come and do that, first.

    Ma is outraged, because the pump-guys charge £120 for up to a thousand gallons.

    We pointed out to here that per-gallon-bucket that was actually only 12p, which I, personally, think is worth it.

    She's thinking about it.

    Monday, 6 June 2005

    weapons of mass destruction

    Camping then. It was lovely weather, beautiful countryside, relaxed company.

    We went on a steam train, went walking on the Quantock Hills (only slightly hampered by three people under five who wanted to paddle)and we went to Dunster Castle. And we made a point of finding somewhere to have a cream tea every single day.

    We also spent quite a lot of time chilling out at our campsite in Ma's field:



    This also involved building the kids 'targets' for weapons practice, as they had been given a toy sword and a toy bow and arrow from the fantastic toyshop in Dunster.

    R's safety chat with R-Minor:

    R: So, before you play with your bow and arrow, what do you need to remember about shooting it?
    R-Minor: [trying very hard to remember] Don't shoot it at anyone's face?
    R: [stifiling laugh] Ah, I've taught you well son, a body-shot is much more likely to be accurate than a shot to the head. But that wasn't what I meant ...
    R-Minor: [remembers, triumphant] I mustn't shoot it at anyone at all!
    R and R-Minor, together: Or the tents, or the dogs or the sheep, or ANYTHING!
    So we stuffed some some sacks with straw and tied them on to posts in the field and got them fighting those.

    We also designated a 'noisy corner' of the field, which incidentally, was where the dragons and the evil purple goblins that threw toast and jelly lived. Knights were needed desperately over there.

    It worked well.

    Saturday, 4 June 2005


    camping2
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    camping1
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    moving the goalposts

    I am having trouble with the whole emotional-rollercoaster-of-childlessness thing again this week. Several things:

    I feel so angry all the time. I think this is partly an artefact of having just come off the anti-depressant medication; but it's also because I feel so powerless. I know I'd be a good mother, and people I know say that they think I would be, too. Our friends, R and Dani, are quite happy for me to look after their kids, which they wouldn't be if they thought I was going to sit in a corner gibbering whilst they put their fingers in the fire and drank bleach.

    But obviously, adoption agencies don't know me. They can only look at the paper stats and apply their rules. That's fair enough, as they need to do the best for the children in their care. I spoke to Adoption Matters again yesterday and the social worker was still reluctant for us to proceed; although she was very happy to keep our case notes open and was very supportive.

    The top and bottom of it is that she wants a medical review now, before we go ahead with what they call 'Preparation Groups'. They now basically want us to wait until I've been off the medication six months before they seriously consider us. It is only after the 'Preparation Group' sessions that they start to take your application forward, and it takes six to nine months to get approval after that. The next set of Preparation Groups that we would be able to go on are in November.

    I feel that the goal-posts keep getting moved.

    Once we get the medicals out of the way, I am going to try to forget about it all for a bit and throw myself in to growing the business, sorting the house out and, maybe, this online Masters Degree in Arthurian Studies at Lampeter. Or something else really obscure and academic that will have no real-world application at all.

    And in the meantime, try to stop getting so angry that I can feel the pressure building up in my head and threatening to break out of my ears :).

    Friday, 3 June 2005

    black art of networking

    I have camping photos, but there is a small problem. They are on my phone.

    I haven't had time to get them on to the PC because I have spent all morning and most of the afternoon wrestling with our mini-network, which seems to be drifting in and out of consciousness like a drunk lying in the gutter outside a pub at midnight on a Saturday night, after a particularly good evening.

    We had a nice time though. Partly because there were no FLIPPING COMPUTERS in the field with us.

    It is Friday afternoon and I am going to the pub. I have earned it, I deserve it and I won't be done out of it, even to attend to my blog. Real life intrudes so painfully in to cyberspace sometimes.

    B is off to Germany next week for three weeks, so I will be doing lots of catching up here whilst he is away ...