The parental visit went very well, with one or two little glitches:
Me: So, we've invited B's parents over for lunch on Sunday ...
Me: For lunch, on Sunday.
Me: Well, I thought it might be nice to all get together while you're up here.
Pa: Nice? Why would that be nice?
Me: Well, I think they'd like to meet you both again.
Pa: We've come up to see the two of you. Why would we want to meet them?
Me: Erm ...
Pa: [becoming agitated] Why should I want to meet them? I've already met them! At your wedding!
Me: [pricked out of inpeturbability] That was nearly three years ago!
Pa: [kind of dismissive grunting hrumphing noise] Three years! More like six months you mean!
Me: [retires, defeated]
Monday, 31 October 2005
The parental visit went very well, with one or two little glitches:
Saturday, 29 October 2005
I finally spoke with the adoption agency on Thursday, to bring them up to date on the medication situation. The person I spoke to was the social worker who came out to visit us back in June; she was very pleasant, very accepting and thanked me for letting them know. She said that she has a supervision session with her boss on Friday and will discuss things with her and be in touch.
She asked me pertinent questions about how long the GP thought I should be on the tablets for (eighteen months to two years), how was I (much better than when I was off them), was it still for the same reason (reactive depression) and was generally very nice.
She didn't directly say that we would have to put things on hold.
This phone call has come about for two reasons:
Firstly, my friend Tessa came round at the weekend and we got chatting about it all. Tessa works in mental health and was really encouraging about the whole depression issue. She also encouraged me to speak to the agency, just to keep them in the loop.
Secondly, I spoke to the specialist fostering people last week. They were perfectly willing to come out and meet with us. However, the high-up person I spoke to (I had asked someone to call me to discuss the medication issue so that we didn't waste anyone's time) was very frank and said that her reservations in assessing us wouldn't necessarily be because of the medication; but more because we sounded like we were adopters rather than fosterers.
She was a very, very helpful woman and was really encouraging about pressing forwards with adoption rather than allowing that process to grind to a halt. She apparently used to be involved with adoption herself and gave me the contact details of her old agency, who, she said, should not immediately discount us because of mild anti-depressants prescribed for reactive depression. She gave us their contact details, so if we get stuck with the current agency, we can put out some feelers to them.
I don't know how I feel. A bit tired, I think. And deliberately un-excited.
Also, slightly damp from where the kitten is insisting on sucking my sweater.
Thursday, 27 October 2005
Ma and Pa are staying in Llangollen this week. And they are coming up to visit us at the weekend.
It's been a great trial to Ma to persuade Pa that this is a good idea; he baulks at travelling even beyond Bridgwater, seven miles from their farm.
It used to severely limit the scope of our family holidays.
However, through a skillfully applied mixture of persuasion and coercion she has triumphed, and they have booked a week in a very small cottage on a very remote farm.
We went to visit them on Tuesday and there are peacocks and llamas.
There was also rain, of the torrential variety.
I have booked them in to a B&B about twenty minutes drive away from us for Saturday and Sunday nights; they can't stay with us because Pa can't manage the stairs. It will be the first time that Pa has visited us since we moved in together three and a half years ago and it will only be the second time Ma has been. She came up on the train to stay for one night, the week after we got married, when we threw a wedding party.
Neither of them have seen the house.
Ma is already saying that she thinks that they might have to go home on Sunday, rather than staying the extra day. She spent about half an hour of our three hour visit on Tuesday on the phone to Natalie being updated with what was going on. Apparently there are flowers to go to retailers in town on Monday morning and Natalie has to go to an early meeting and can't take them. And Ma doesn't want to ask the-boy-who-does-the-heavy-work, Edwin, because she thinks it might be too much for him.
I can't remember the source, but there is a phrase "Wherever you go, we go together". Wherever Ma goes, the farm also goes, with all it's attendent complications.
Wednesday, 26 October 2005
I am always coming back to the valley:
In my mind I crest the hill a thousand times,
Slowing at the bend.
I see the beech trees dip their skirts in welcome
And I know I have come home.
I am always coming back to the valley-
The ageless, changeless, constant vale.
My roots burrow deep in the rich red earth,
That has cloyed my boots in cold and muddy winter
And coated my skin with gritty dust on hot June days.
I am always coming back to the valley.
My heart and all I am was born here
And here I will return when my time has passed.
The cycles of the seasons turn, and so,
I will always come back to the valley.
Monday, 24 October 2005
At the WI this evening we were talking about how fab laminating is. Yes, that's the kind of wild gals we are.
Dani: I LOVE laminating. It's great.
Me: Yes, it's fantastic. So satisfying.
Tessa: I don't have kids, or my own business. What possible use could I have for a laminator?
Me: [vaguely] Oh, all sorts of things.
Nina: I keep seeing one for sale in Staples and thinking I should buy it ...
Tessa: Yes. But WHAT FOR?
Dani: The kids' footprints.
Me: Your love letters. You could laminate all your love letters from Nathan.
Tessa: [stony silence, grim glare] Well, that would take no time AT ALL.
Nina: [hastily] And of course it would mean that you couldn't smell them, or anything like that ...
Me: [even more hastily] Certificates. You could laminate all your certificates.
Nina: Yes, you could have a certificate wall. We're going to have one. Tom wants to laminate his Cycling Proficency certificate.
Tessa: Are you MAD?
Nina: And I could laminate my modelling certificate.
Everyone: [stunned silence]
Everyone: [in unison] You have a MODELLING CERTIFICATE?!
Nina: Yes. I was a child model.
Everyone: [in unison] You're kidding!
Nina: No! I went on a course when I was five to learn how to sit properly and stand properly and everything. And I did a shoot for Owen Owen and for John Lewis and some other people.
Everyone: [sighing with wistful admiration] Wow!
Tessa: Yes, but WHAT would I use a laminator FOR?
Me: Can I blog this?
Nina: You always ask that and you NEVER do.
Sunday, 23 October 2005
I have spent what seems to be quite a large part of the weekend cleaning up builder-mess. During The Falling Of The Ceiling, Attic Man neglected to cover up the coat rack, the shoe rack or the hall table with his dust sheets and they have been coated with a fine film of black filth ever since.
Ha! No longer! I am triumphant, if exhausted.
Clearly now they all will come back tomorrow and do something vital that means the whole house will be disgusting again. However, I think we might have a couple of days grace, because in our last discussion on Friday, Barry The Plasterer is apparently not coming back until Wednesday. Unless it's raining, when he will be here tomorrow. I didn't ask why, I felt that engaging might be bad for my blood pressure.
In between time, I have been trying to discourage Betty from attaching herself to my face with all four paws at the end of a running jump, a la something out of Alien. Endearing the first time. Sight-threatening from then on. Although actually, sight-threatening the first time, too. Have you ever had a cat's paw up your nose?
I have also walked in the sun with Tessa, read more Hornblower, bought things I can't really afford on Ebay and arranged a WI, with pizza, for tomorrow night.
And now I am about to have a very virtuous cauliflower crumble and a slightly less virtuous glass of wine.
That is all*.
*A phrase that I have just realised that I've inadvertently picked up from Ms.Mac ... sorry, it was inadvertent copying, rather than deliberate :).
Friday, 21 October 2005
My first kiss, courtesy of Cheryl's question ...
Paris, spring 1988.
I was 18 ... don't laugh, I was incredibly shy as a teenager and had only just come out of the 'blushing when a boy speaks to you' stage.
We were on a school history trip, a long weekend in Paris.
I'd re-started my Lower Sixth year because I'd had so much time off with illness, and I was determined to try to change my 'shy, good-girl' image.
So I had a bit too much to drink and flirted disgracefully with the guys on the trip.
On the last evening, we all got a bit silly and there was some swapping and changing between the boys room and the girls room, and chatting and giggling. I went out in the corridor with one chap, in my pajamas, still chatting and giggling. He was one of the guys that everyone fancied at school.
Eventually we kissed, a long, lip-tingling, nerve-end vibrating few moments that I can still dredge up from memory now. And then our less tipsy and more sensible friends came out and herded us back in to our appropriate rooms, and that was that.
It was very romantic, a fantastic first kiss and it had the added benefit of changing my 'image' at school for ever, which matters dreadfully when you are eighteen and paralytically shy.
His name? Not telling, but there he is, on the far left, in the Tuilerie Gardens.
Thursday, 20 October 2005
Barry The Plasterer came yesterday and is cross with Attic Man because he hasn't done all the preparation work that he was supposed to do.
Attic Man came by this morning to drop us off a breakdown of costs so far. I managed to back him in to a corner, get him in an armlock and question him about The Makers Of The Stairs.
The Makers Of The Stairs have changed three times so far. Each one has a different idea for the ideal solution to our Stair Challenge and with each one, the costs have been escalating.
Apparently Derek The Ideal Stair Maker - the guy who actually came round and discussed what we wanted with us and seemed both pleasant and competent, has gone on holiday. And his son isn't answering the phone.
Attic Man is therefore considering another stair maker who is less Ideal but who is actually present for discussions.
Rightly or wrongly, I feel that if I were in Attic Man's position, this is something that I would have got pinned down before I actually started work, stairs being fairly fundamental to the whole Loft Conversion process.
My dudgeon is fairly high and we are seriously considering a very simple loft ladder solution, to get them all to go away and leave us alone.
I took Betty for her first round of kitten injections this morning. All went well until a very large dog came in to the waiting room, and then all hell broke loose. The dog was very large and very friendly and Betty felt that it was a danger to life and limb and that she needed to tackle it immediately to neutralise the threat. Even it's head was bigger than her, but that didn't stop it trying to burrow underneath it's owner's chair to get away from her swearing.
Someone has given me almost the entire series of Hornblower novels by C S Forester. I read three yesterday and am set for another three today, which probably means that I am not going to wash the kitchen floor, or eat anything other than toasted crumpets and damson jam. Life is hard.
Wednesday, 19 October 2005
One of the reasons that I started blogging was that I was interested in the connections people make in cyberspace. How long would it take for people to discover my blog existed? Would they find it interesting enough to come back and revisit? Would I like reading their blogs? That kind of thing.
So, a combination of Mitey Mite's meme and Milt's comment when I tagged him on Monday - that he wanted to do it, but there were only a couple of questions that meant anything to him - started me thinking about meme propagation; how quickly and how far do they spread? Why do they spread? Why do they not spread? Some of the memes out there aren't very engaging, some are only applicable to a particular section of the blogging population, some are too long, some are too short, some are just not very interesting.
So - here are my thoughts. A good meme should be engaging to as wide a group as possible. It shouldn't be too long, it should allow you to learn something about the participant. It should add to your blog, rather than be a 'place holder' for those days when you can't scrape up any material without help.
I have an experiment. Here's a meme. Nominate yourself to do it. Then leave me a comment to say you've done it. Part of the meme will be for forward participants to email me, so I can keep track of where the meme has got to - I'll add a list of all the links to this
post and if there get to be loads I'll set up a new blogroll for them.
It might be a terrible meme and not go anywhere ... but I think it's an interesting experiment :).
I've answered all the questions, but not at length, because I thought it would make the post too long.
1. What is the most important thing you've ever learnt?
To listen to and trust my own instincts.
2. What is the most important thing you've ever taught someone?
I don't know - that would be their judgement call, not mine.
3. What is the greatest mistake you've ever made? Would you do things differently if you had the chance to repeat that experience again?
Probably moving in with Crazy Tom and therefore going through all that violence and trauma. But on the other hand, if I hadn't, I would never have met B, so I think I would do exactly the same thing again. It's made me the person I am, and I wouldn't change that.
4. Who is the person that you respect the most in your life? Why?
My paternal grandmother. She was a great friend to my during my growing up years and taught me a lot about grace under pressure, making the best of things, love and patience. I miss her.
5. Which of your dreams have you fulfilled?
A couple; sitting on the deck of a sailing boat in the early morning sun, brushing my hair in the breeze. Not a big dream, but an important one. And wild camping in the Canadian Wilderness.
Instructions (copy all of these in to your post):
Answer at least three out of the five questions, but leave all five in so that other people can copy them. Leave a comment on the post of the person who you got the meme from so they can see who's tagged themselves and link to them at the beginning of your meme. Email Ally to let her know you've done the meme, so she can add you to the list.
There you go :).
Tuesday, 18 October 2005
Attic Man and Side-Kick Gavin turned up just before lunch yesterday and did a really good days work. I am a bad, BAD person for doubting their committment to our attic and I am going to end up in hell, trapped between the bad payers, the people who quote old ladies a million pounds to replace perfectly servicable guttering and the people who falsify their VAT return.
B finished the wiring with an hour to spare and exited to work, muttering under his breath and plucking loft insulation from his hair with relieved abandon.
Simpkin is still traumatised by all building noises, but seems to be reaching an accommodation with the new kitten:
- She pounces on him. He hisses at her and walks away.
- She pounces on his retreating tail. He accelerates to an unmanly gallop.
- She follows his unmanly gallop with bouncy kitten cheeriness. He accelerates through the cat-flap, pulls a sharp left, races down the yard and jumps on to the garden wall, suddenly de-celerating and pretending that he is cool and sophisticated, for the benefit of any other neighbourhood cats that may be watching.
- Betty biffs her nose on the closing cat-flap, which she is too small to push open, and then settles down to wait for him to come back in.
- Repeat ad-nauseam.
I have a problem. I have run out of nice tea. Despite this, I am planning on spending the day sat on the sofa in my most unattractive pants, playing Medieval Total War. The builders will just have to work round me.
Monday, 17 October 2005
I've been tagged for this 'three of everything' meme by the relatively-new-to-blogging but utterly fantabulous Mitey Mite.
Three names I go by:
1. Not telling, it'll ruin my semi-anonymous air of mystery :)
Three screen names I have had:
Three physical things I like about myself:
1. My nose
2. My feet
3. My legs
Three physical things I don't like about myself:
1. My arse
2. My boobs
3. My stretch marks
Three parts of my heritage:
Three things that scare me:
1. Lack of control
3. The threat of violence
Three of my everyday essentials:
3. Clean socks
Three of my favorite musical artists:
1. Mary Black
2. Elvis Costello
3. The Eagles (very plug-in heavy official site) (didn't need to delete this one from Mitey Mite!)
Three of my favorite songs:
1. Midnight Train to Georgia - Gladys Knight and The Pips
2. Still Crazy After All These Years - Paul Simon
3. Lyin' Eyes - The Eagles
Three things I want in a relationship:
1. I am on a diet
2. I am fine about not conceiving
3. Tomorrow I will start to exercise
1. I think I might be addicted to Ebay
2. I miss living in the country
3. Marrying B is the best thing I ever did
Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeal to me:
1. Artistic fingers
2. Beautiful back
3. Sense of humor
Three of my favorite hobbies:
1. Reading science fiction
2. Knitting hats badly
3. Camping and walking
Three things I want to do really badly now:
1. Finish decorating our house
2. Have a baby
3. Go away with B and stay in a small, remote hotel somewhere in France for a month, with no telephone
Three careers I've considered:
1. Systems Analysis (tried it)
2. Teaching (tried it)
3. Academia (too scared to try it)
Three places I want to go on vacation:
1. New Zealand
2. Eastern Europe
3. France (I ALWAYS want to go to France)
Three kid's names I like:
Three things I want to do before I die:
1. Wing walk
2. Go treking in the Himalayas
3. Own a small-holding
Three ways that I am stereotypically a boy:
1. I am good at logical problem solving
2. I snigger at dirty jokes
3. I like to drive
Three ways that I am stereotypically a girl:
1. I like pretty underwear
2. I suffer from terrible PMS and at that 'time of the month' am perfectly cabable of crying at pictures of puppies and kittens
3. I LOVE shoes
Three celebrity crushes:
1. Alan Rickman
2. Ed Harris
3. John Cusack
Three people that I would like to see post this meme:
B has a busy few days coming up - he's more-or-less completely away until next Wednesday, with a possible evening home tomorrow night, depending on how the job works out.
This morning, before he goes out, he is going to put the wiring in the attic so the builders can get on with the rest of their bits and pieces. He is having stress about it - he says his head his cabbaged - and he is sitting here muttering about lighting radials and ring mains whilst more or less drinking tea by capillary action.
R and I are providing moral support, joining in with intelligent-looking nods and hoping that he gets it straight in his head soon and retreats back in to the attic, since we don't understand a word of it.
Attic Man and Side-Kick Gavin haven't turned up this morning. They were supposed to. I hope that this is nothing to do with the fact that Attic Man asked for another payment on Friday and we complied - with not quite as much as he wanted, but still with a substantial amount.
They are supposed to be completing the plasterboarding today, putting the tails for the radiators in tomorrow, and so be ready for the plaster on Wednesday. The fact that they haven't yet turned up has given B a few hours grace to get his wiring sorted, so as long as they materialise a bit later on, that will be fine.
If they don't ... well, there's nothing we can do. They've done about three quarters of the work, we've paid them about three quarters of the money ... fair's fair.
I am planning a relatively slothful week. Arguing with builders is not on my schedule.
I need more tea.
Thursday, 13 October 2005
The kitten thing has opened up a whole new sphere of marketing for me.
My Cat History is one based on farm cats. They would eat their Whiskas-and-cornflakes (Kelloggs, of course) out of an old Fray Bentos tin on the dining room windowsill every morning and every evening, up out of the way of the dogs, who they treated with cordial loathing.
They would spend all day out and about around the place, occasionally bringing in mice, rats and on one memorable occasion, a fully grown rabbit; brought in by an elderly Patch, who proudly dropped it at Pa's feet and then wailed at him until he cut it open for her to eat, as she had no teeth left to speak of.
If they wanted a cuddle they would come and ask for one, but they really didn't like being petted very much. At night, they might come in to sleep if it was very cold, but they much preferred to sleep in a shed or barn somewhere, so that they could be up and about early in the morning, doing their Cat Thing.
So, perusing the supermarket shelves at the weekend, looking for some sort of kitten food to tide us over until I can sort out some organic stuff, I was astounded by the variety and quantity of knick-knacks available for Your Precious Pet (tm). Particularly 'cat milk'.
I went through a whole brief but disturbing mental scenario of small Cat Milking Parlours, with tiny Cat Milking Devices to go on Cat Udders and even a Cat Milk Bottling Plant, designed to be operated by paws without opposable thumbs ... and then I realised that it was actually cows milk, with bits added.
And 'cat grass'. What's that all about? Can't you just let your cat out in to the garden so it can eat grass there?
Not to mention the many available varieties of Cat Gym, Cat Basket, Cat Blanket and other assorted Cat Devices specifically designed to part Cat Lovers from their Cat Money.
I have a bite-mark on my nose. Perhaps there's a market for Hannibal Lecter Style Cat Owner's Protective Masks ... 'for that all important growing period for your new kitten'.
Wednesday, 12 October 2005
Ma: We've been digging out the pond today.
Ma: Because of the beetles.
Ma: We've bought a pump and got most of the water out, but it won't pump the mud, so Edwin and I have been digging it out. It really needed doing, there was lots of weed as well.
Me: Well, that's good.
Ma: Yes. Edwin didn't go home until a quarter to ten and I'm a bit worried that he's put his hip replacement out. And of course, there's his hernia ...
Me: Yes, he probably needs to be careful.
Ma: Anyway, we found two big beetles and some larvae.
Ma: It's the larvae that are killing the fish. They inject them with something that makes their insides go all squishy and then they bore in to them from underneath.
Me: Not nice.
Ma: No. They're about two inches long.
Me: [yelp] ...
Tuesday, 11 October 2005
Question: How do you administer First Aid to a kitten that has just plunged her front legs up to the shoulder in to your very hot tea?It doesn't seem to have slowed her down at all, or discouraged her curiosity; and it has had the slightly positive effect of washing off some of the black dust that has become ingrained in her pristine white paws since The Falling Of The Ceiling.
Answer: You hold her under the cold tap until you reckon the danger of scalding has been mitigated.
Result: Two traumatised kitten-parents and a slightly confused and very damp kitten.
I promise I am not going to become a Kitten Bore, but she is providing me with endless amusement - she likes to ride around on ones shoulder and I did the washing up and cleaned the kitchen this morning with her supervision. However, I've had to take to wearing a polo-neck top, as she will nip when she gets excited. Love bites are all very well when you're fourteen, but there's something not right about cat love bites at thirty five. Or any age, really.
Attic Man and Side Kick Gavin are moving on apace and have re-attached the office ceiling to their joists. I believe the technical term is 'strapping', a term that I somehow have previously only associated with pirates.
B and I went up there last night and pottered around. It's going to be lovely - you can see right over the river to the Liver Buildings from the windows. We are deciding whether we want to rent it out to yet another lodger for a while and build up some cash; or whether to enquire a bit more about the possibilities of long term fostering of a teenager.
Saturday, 8 October 2005
Attic Man has arrived, with his side-kick, Gavin.
I quite like Attic Man, despite the fact that he is so passive-aggressive that you have to examine everything you say to him in your head before you say it aloud, in case it makes him gibber defensively.
They started the loft conversion on Thursday, the first step of which involved carving an enormous hole into the roof-space for the staircase, through the hundred-year-old lathe and plaster. Early on the process, there was an ominous rumbling noise and the area he was carving collapsed on him, filling the entire house with black plaster-dust, rubble and a thin film of filth.
Apparently this is relatively normal and he was expecting it.
He'd dust-sheeted the house up fairly well, but the black filth got literally everywhere. We are still cleaning it up three days later, even after Gavin The Sidekick had dusted, hoovered and washed all the walls and paintwork.
Attic Man has also discovered that the reason the ceiling in the office was sagging so much was that it wasn't actually attached to anything. Between them they have propped it up from underneath with two lengths of two-by-four and they will attach it to the joists that they are putting in for the floor to go on. We are very happy that they have discovered this.
They think it will all take about a month and have asked for half the money up front.
We are ninety nine point nine percent trusting of him, hence we wrote him the cheque - but I will still be relieved to see them on Monday morning, even if they do both smell disturbingly of beer and are still wearing Friday night's clothes.
Wednesday, 5 October 2005
The temporary radio silence has been for a number of reasons:
- time spent trying to fix the network - thank you very much to all the people who gave me advice, I really appreciate it. Craig suggested this great site for home networking and internet connection sharing, which has pretty much sorted me out.
- however, during the process, I managed to blow up my modem and have had to wait until they got a new one out to me, which comes in to the 'impressive but incompetent' class of systems architecture I think :).
- we have been getting together our too-old-to-even-give-away furniture and hauling it out to the front garden so that the men from the council can take it away tomorrow. I am convinced that foam-backed carpets were created by the devil to taunt us.
- we have a new kitten. In a moment of weakness we succumbed to a 'free to good home' notice in the Post Office. She is eight weeks old tomorrow and allegedly house-trained. However, when she gets excited, she forgets to use the litter tray. And as she seems to be excited pretty much all the time she's awake, I think we may need new carpets in the not too distant future. Mrs Three Legs is very sanguine about the whole thing, but Simpkin is spending all his days sitting on the back wall, peering anxiously inside. Bless. Pictures some time soon.
Off to wash the carpet-foam off and sit down with a whisky.
Sunday, 2 October 2005
Can anyone point me towards a kind networking-for-noddies website or newsgroup? Or potentially be sufficiently techie to give me a hint?
- I've got four laptops connected via a hardware router to a machine that handles a 1Mbps broadband internet connection.
- Broadband internet works fine on the main machine, for all applications.
- Skype and chat seems to work okay on the laptops, consistently.
- The problem is that browser and email connections are intermittent on the laptops, more off than on.
- We are running XP Home.
- We have ZoneAlarm Pro or ZoneAlarm basic on all the machines, it recognises the network.
- Windows Firewall is disabled on all machines.
Is this a port issue? Is it something to do with the router?
Any suggestions gratefully received :(.
September has been crazy, work-wise, even without all the other family stuff that's been going on. Yesterday morning, B got in at 5am and collapsed in to bed, triumphant from his final job for the client he's adamant he's never working for again.
At 8.30, R picked me up and we went and de-rigged the gig that he'd been doing all week. The crew were shattered, so I went along as a fresh pair of hands.
We were finished by lunchtime and decided to collect B and retreat to the pub for some celebratory lunch and a few shandies.
We arrived home just after closing time.
I think today might be dedicated to rest and recuperation.