Friday, 28 April 2006

time to go ...

Rachel from North London has written an absolutely excoriating piece about Charles Clarke. Go and read it, it leaps off the page.

I swore when David Kelly killed himself that I wouldn't vote Labour again until the Labour Party had some people in the top jobs who were actually able to demonstrate that they possessed moral values of some kind and a general veneer of competence. How are they still in power?

Gert argues against allowing ones vote in local elections to be swayed by national issues. However, even at a local level, all the party literature we get through the door seems to focus on slagging each other off and not actually about anything that matters.

I've had enough of it all; I'm seriously considering spoiling my ballot paper.

[/serious]

cat photos

Betty when we got her at five weeks ... too small to leave her mother, reallyNauseating or cute?  She still has a thing for wanting to sleep right up under your chin.  This was taken when B had come in from an all-night gig ...Betty last week - a huge size differenceThis is what they get up to when the lodger leaves the bedroom door open ...Betty saving Simpkin from his own tailI dreamt last night that I was at a blogmeet in a pub somewhere and I was getting slated for letting the quality of my blog slip. I think I might be becoming a little blog-obsessed.

Today I am posting cat photos. And one husband-and-cat photo. It might be cute, it might be nauseating. You can vote :).

I'm having a truly dreadful time of the month; much worse than usual. I think I might have been a 'bit' pregnant (as SheWeevil phrased it). Unfortunately it turned up yesterday, as I was unwrapping the baby clothes I'd bought in a fit of madness on eBay.

But you'd gotta larf, haven't you?

Cat photos then. Mouseover for descriptions. And I still have half the cake left ....

Oooh! And my compost has just arrived. Due to circumstances beyond my control, including lazy-assed apathy, I was unable to collect it. So I phoned up the shop and asked them to bring it round. Delivery charge a pound. Well worth it.

I can plant out the world-taking-over clematis, now.

Thursday, 27 April 2006

project

Today, I am going to:

  • Make Kitchen Witch's cake
  • Sort out my automatic flowerpot watering system
  • Make an appointment with our financial advice guy to talk about remortgaging this house, renting it out and moving to the country
  • Wash B's pants
  • Gather the marketing material requested by Marketing Guru
  • Tell the couple who 'listen to metal and smoke dope' that our room is not available any longer
  • Email Original Polish Lodger's Friend and Original Polish Lodger's Friend's Girlfriend and tell them that they can have the double room over the summer
  • Eat Kitchen Witch's cake
Will that do?

Kitcen Witch's Cake!Pictures later.

UPDATE

Liveblogging Kitchen Witch's Cake:
Don't care what the finished product tastes like, the mixture is *fantastic* :).

Liveblogging 2: Oh My God!!!!! Have fed one with the remains of the Southern Comfort and one with the remains of a bottle of Greek Brandy. Will now be reporting on whether eating warm, Southern Comfort-soaked cakes gives one major or minor indigestion.

Liveblogging 3: Cake fabulous. Southern Comfort fabulous. Being slightly pissed on cake fabulous. Indigestion minimal. Verdict: success all round. Yay!

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

at last

The Adoption Social Worker just rang.

My GP's reference is okay and she is coming to see us on May 12th.

They are picking us up to start the process.

I don't think I can type any more.

technical shennanigins

I am definitely having rather a slow start this morning.

I spent a large part of last night doing Search Engine Optimisation stuff for the business website. It's not something I've explored very much before and I'm learning as I go. All sorts of black arts like Robots, Meta Tags and the best way to submit your site to major search engines.

And then in a fit of 'entering the twenty first century', I subscribed to Skype and optimised my blog feed (see the little pink icon over on the left!).

So I kind of forgot to have any proper tea and it was half past midnight before I realised, so excited was I by the reasonable pricing of Google's 'pay per click' advertising.

Sad, I know.

And then I turned the alarm off in a fit of self-indulgence and was woken up at five to ten (FIVE TO TEN) by the phone and three anxious cats. Whoever it was withheld their number and didn't leave a message; and then did the same thing on the business line, so it can't have been all that important.

Click here for this guy's BRILLIANT plantsOr, maybe, it was SO important that they had to tell me in person and couldn't leave a message. But that will be their own issue.

I have filing to do. But instead, I think I'm going to have a smoothie and plant my clematis.

It's called Montana Pink Perfection and is apparently very fast growing - designed to go like the clappers up the as-yet-non-existant-fence. It came in a box with some other plants and had clearly grown a couple of inches overnight - it had managed to wrap itself around them. I am a bit scared of leaving it on the kitchen window sill for very long in case I come down in the morning and it has taken over the kitchen, a la some Terrible Science Fiction Tragedy.

Tuesday, 25 April 2006

virtual herb garden

Right. I'm back.

In a stunning display of efficiency, I have just completed the payrun, BACS-ing it out five minutes before the 4pm cut-off time for bank transfers.

Do I rock, or what?

It turns out that the issue I was having is a 'known feature' (don't you just love that phrase?) and there was a patch to fix it.

I have also walked to and from the appointment with the CBT person I am seeing and bought some oatcakes.

Cheese and biscuits and red wine this evening, I rather thought. Good job B comes home tomorrow night, much longer and he'd find he was married to a clinically obese dipsomaniac. (Thinks. Oh. Hang on a minute ... .)

Am okay, though. Surprisingly so.

I have opened a flikr account and am going to start a Virtual International Herb Garden. Send me some herb photos of your particularly interesting herbs that you are growing and tell me what they are, where you are and why you like them ... . I realise that this may have a limited appeal, but I need a project :). The garden/fence/decking fiasco is on hold until the friend who's doing it for us has been back to see his chiropractor :).

Tea is calling. And cheese and biscuits.

reaping

I have a headache.

And the helpline is still busy.

Monday, 24 April 2006

positive solution ...

When your pregnancy test comes up negative, the only solution is to ditch the healthy tea you've got pre-prepared in the fridge and go to Co-Op and score:

  • Scotch eggs, 2 of
  • Enormous chocolate muffins, 4 of
  • Bar of milk chocolate crunch, family size, and
  • Half a pound of strong cheddar
and eat ALL OF IT with a bottle of red wine.

Bugger.

And I'd spent the afternoon looking at baby clothes on eBay, too. How heart-breakingly ridiculous.

The software helpline people were so busy their queueing system had defaulted to "We are overwhelmed by incompetent people who wish to speak to us and you are number [infinity] in the queue. Please call back later." and then cut me off.

I hate buggy first releases.

I hate not having a family.

Arse.

Pass the wine please.

blah

Trying to do the pay, which has involved upgrading the software and now I am getting a string of incomrehensible error messages that imply that the new version of the software can't read the data from the old version of the software.

Which is odd, because that's what it's designed to do.

Drowning in numbers.

Excuse me while I phone the helpline.

Sunday, 23 April 2006

speaking up speaking out

I'd like to briefly revisit my rape and sexual assault support post.

A student at Smith University in the USA is doing a combined study and awareness-raising exercise of domestic violence and abuse.

They are asking for people who have experiences they feel able to share to contribute them to their weblog (a moderated space) to help with awareness raising; not only if you have experienced violence yourself; but also if you have been directly involved with another person's experience.

They are particularly interested in gathering accounts from diverse cultures and backgrounds, because that is the centre of their study. But they welcome contributions from anyone who has an account they would like to share.

I have linked to the site, called Speaking Up, Speaking Out, from my support page and I have submitted my two experiences, of domestic abuse and date rape.

This kind of abuse and assault happens to a lot of people. If you have been subjected to it you are not alone. If you possibly can, stand up, speak out and let us try to change the culture that not only allows this to happen, but also allows victims to feel ashamed.

Hat tip: Happy Feminist.

Saturday, 22 April 2006

polished todgers

So. We have a New Polish Lodger.

He phoned on Tuesday morning to ask if he could come and look at the room. Came and looked at it Tuesday lunchtime and moved in Tuesday night.

So far we haven't seen much of him, but he seems clean, quiet and friendly in a 'restricted English' kind of way. And the cats seem to quite like him, which I think is always a good indication.

We have had a few people come and look at the other room, but no-one that we feel comfortable sharing with. This afternoon, two people are coming to look. A Scouse lad who is in the middle of an emotional break-up with his girlfriend and 'needs somewhere quick'; and a young Polish woman who is working with children with autism.

I am already preferring the second candidate - I don't fancy getting involved in someone's potentially messy relationship break up. And the girlfriend is living literally just around the corner from here, which is therefore within easy standing-on-our-step and screeching-with-grubby-baby-on-hip distance. Not a difficult choice, we have decided, but it did seem only fair to meet him and be judgemental in person.

Speaking of being judgemental, do you remember Steg's REPREHENSIBLE suggestion that I should go through all of Semi-Invisible Lodger's things while he was away and then publish the results on the internet?

Well.

Here goes.

He was supposed to be sending us a cheque before he went on holiday for all the rent due up until that point. In fact he phoned to let me know that is what would be happening and to arrange for a colleague to come round and collect his portable DVD player so that his kids could use it on the long drive to their holiday destination.

Hey, listen ... ! Can you hear that sound ... ?

That's the ringing of alarm bells in my head.

DVD player handed over to colleague.

Semi-Invisible Family all on holiday for a fortnight.

No cheque.

So I texted him and asked him where it was.

No reply for five days.

Then a text saying that there was a problem with his employers paying his expenses and he would therefore be moving out; but all our monies would be met in full soon.

I would like to copy the Great Kitchen Witch at this point and expostulate: "GAH!"

No communication was forthcoming when he had told us he was due back from holiday, so about the middle of last week I sent him a text saying "Hello. What would you like us to do with your stuff?".

Which, as anyone who has ever flitted from rented accommodation will know, is code for "If you don't pay me, I am going to sell your pitiful DVD collection on eBay".

No response.

So B packed all his things in to a box, including (this is the good bit), his copies of 'Snowboarding Monthly', which turned out to be a handy cover for his comprehensive collection of 'Escort' and 'Fiesta'.

Lovely. And what a good job that I put that mattress protector on.

We put the box under the stairs until we had head-space to think about it.

Last night he phoned B's mobile while we were in a pub having a bite to eat on the way back from reccying possible 'moving to Wales' places.

He is not such a complete nobber as I thought.

He has had massive trauma getting his expenses out of his employers, as well as a whole job-universe moving around him while he was away on holiday thing. He had waited until he found out what was going on with the money before he got back in touch with us - I'd have preferred a holding response, but I can see his thinking. He's transferring the monies he owes us over to our bank by direct transfer and he's going to come and get his stuff (and potentially go out for a 'no hard feelings' beer) once the money has cleared.

He was grovellingly apologetic.

And even more so when I called out "Ask him if I can have his Snowboarding Magazines!" while B was talking to him.

Apparently he exclaimed "She hasn't looked inside them, has she?!".

Cue collapse of Ally and B in mature giggles.

Friday, 21 April 2006

text

Just had a text conversation with Ma which ended, thus:

Me: Is buying ruined castle in north yorkshire with view to restoration too impractical? :)
Ma: Ruin in n york v imprac. Dad says r u tryin 2 get divorced?

Crazy though they undoubtedly are, I love my parents dearly. I am also massively impressed with Ma's grasp of text-speak.

compost update

Right, let's have a compost-and-garden update, shall we? I haven't blogged about rotting things for quite a while.

First though, thank you everyone for all your good wishes and admiring comments re Ma; also, apologies if you tried to post and nothing happened - Steg let me know that he'd commented and it didn't show up, and if anyone else has had the same problem, I haven't deleted anything, honest!

Compost bin and wall where the Cat Proof Fence is goingCompost then.

Remember the first compost heap?

I don't think that we produce enough compostable material for it to function very well. And the cats kept jumping inside it and becoming trapped, which was inconvenient.

So we have invested in a new compost bin. It was actually our Easter present from B's Mum and Dad. We have (well, B has) effected Compost Transfer and it is working jolly well. Compost Containment is definitely a good thing.

As well as that, over the Easter weekend we spent a lot of time sorting out the garden:

  • House from the gardenI found someone who was prepared to take all the rubbish away for us for a tenner (and had the fantastic marketing ploy of advertising on Freecycle saying they'd transfer stuff for charities for free).
  • We bought four railway sleepers, for the EXTORTIONATE price of £19 each, which we are going to cut up and use to keep the soil in the beds.
  • We took delivery of a donation of topsoil from Nina and Tom, who are having Shed Building Shennanigins and needed to get rid of some of their garden.
  • I asked for a Belfast Sink on Freecycle and had two offers; so we have collected one from a man who looked like a beaver (in the nicest possible way; does a lot pottering around his shed and garden and working with wood to extend his summer house/spare room, is clearly a hoarder and is obviously really busy all the time despite having retired quite a long time ago) and am now sussing out small solar powered water pumps. It's going over there on the left, where you can see Betty having a wee in the sand.
  • I was also offered loads of herb cuttings from various generous Freecyclers and some people even offered me whole plants from seed where they have overplanted. I have been and taken cuttings and started trying to root them.
  • In a frenzy of hormonal purchasing last weekend I bought ALL SORTS OF THINGS on eBay (including, for some reason I cannot now fathom, a Liberty Bodice, but lets move swiftly on). They should arrive today or tomorrow and include, but are not limited to, white and pink hyssop, lemon balm, french tarragon, creeping pennyroyal and a lavender called 'little lottie'.
  • Clematis ArmandiiI have also bought some nematodes and some copper tape to go round the pots, from The Green Gardener to sort out the Slug Problem once and for all and have ordered some ladybirds and some lacewing larvae for later in the season. Currently the nematodes are in the fridge, which I hope isn't freaking New Polish Lodger out too much. It's not so much the words on the packaging, as his English is relatively basic (better than my Polish though); it's more the ENORMOUS picture of the slug on the front.
  • My clematis armandii is going great guns - I have kicked the bottom out of his pot so that he can get his feet in the soil; and he has responded by going bananas in the growth department. It is the only evergreen clematis and flowers very early, as you can see. I am not sure what the yellow thing beside him is (in the picture at the bottom), but B's Mum gave it to us and it is beautiful. The pink tulips have come out this week and are a really beautiful colour.
  • I have made odd little cushion-beds to put some of the more spreading herbs in. When we re-tiled the roof, we had a few tiles left over and B has cut them down the middle with an angle grinder that we borrowed. They fit exactly in to the hole left by a single flagstone and I am quite smug about them - see top photo.
Clematis, Yellow Thing, TulipsI think that's it, pretty much.

Cat Hating Neighbour has been well behaved for the last couple of days; she called something friendly over the wall when we were playing out there with the children the other afternoon. I am hoping that B's little chat with her might have done the trick. We are still in the throes of formulating a sensible and do-able plan to escape to the country. Will post about it in a day or two, this is long enough for now. And have Lodger Updates, too. Odd how blog material is like buses, isn't it, and comes along in lumps?

The Marketing Guru is coming this afternoon, must go and clear up the cat sick that I've just noticed in the corner of the office.

Thursday, 20 April 2006

grace of god

It is quite cold, but that is because I am wireless blogging on the bench outside the back door.

Some things have happened.

Firstly, it was clearly a fantastically correct decision not to visit Ma and Pa. Pa has been unwell for the last three days - in bed with some kind of water infection. He was very weak yesterday and couldn't walk; this is partly because he has a very bad ulcerated leg that doesn't really heal (to the extent that the ulcer specialist has suggested he might be better off without the leg) and an arthritic knee that is only held together by the truss he puts on it when he gets up. So moving around is a big thing for him and any additional issues obviously impact on that.

He's not really a people person at the best of times and while he would have undoubtedly been pleased to see us in a popping-in-for-a-cup-of-tea kind of way, a whole forty eight hours of us on his doorstep would have been a bit much. He was much better when I spoke to Ma last night and had come downstairs to sit in his chair and grumble about the television being on, which is pretty much a return to normal programming.

I said I'd post him the New Scientists we'd saved for him. His concentration isn't up to whole articles, but he likes the short news items and is fascinated with space. No-one else I know used to have family discussions about the possibility of extra-terrestial intelligence around the tea table at the age of eight.

Now. Ma.

Oh god.

I finally go my act together enough to phone her last night and ask how Pa was. B had phoned her mid-morning and said we weren't going down because I wasn't very well. So her first question was 'how are you?'.

I said I was okay, but quite hormonal and was having quite bad abdominal twinges* so had felt it was best not to come down.

And then, she said: "Well, it's probably a good thing you didn't come, anyway. I've not had a very good day today".

I was surprised, because she was unusually chipper.

I was going to make this in to a 'conversations with my mother' post, but I can't.

She lost concentration on a winding lane out towards Monksilver on her way to deliver some flowers to someone's grave.

And the van hit a lamp post, bounced off it and ended up in a lake, airbags and all.

She had the two young dogs with her and had to get them out of the van and push them up the bank through the brambles. The engine was smoking so she thought she'd better do it quickly.

Then the local gamekeeper came and helped her and took her down to the estate office where they gave her cups of tea and let her use the phone to ring the breakdown people for a low loader as they thought that the van was pretty much a write off. Then they took her home.

However.

She went back with my sister Natalie, an hour or so later to get the flowers out of the back of the van and deliver them. (Photos therefore courtesy of Natalie, but I've photoshopped the logo off the side of the van).

Ma: They looked a bit battered dear, and it was like the end of the Italian Job getting them out of the back, because as you crawled down to get them, the van slid further in to the water. I put them on the graves, but I'll have to go and titivate them tomorrow.
Me: Have you been to hospital?
Ma: No, no, I don't think I need to. I've got a scratch on my face that I can't remember getting, but I think it must have been when I was lifting the dogs up through the brambles. And I hurt my thumb in the door when I went back to get the flowers.
Me: [subvocalising] Ggnnngghh.
Ma: And it was really a good job that your father was ill, because he might have been with me and I'd never have been able to pull him out.

She's seventy in June.

My hands are so cold that I can't type any more and it's white when I breathe out. I am going to have my breakfast.

I have a garden, compost and general 'moving to the country' post for tomorrow.


* I am wondering if I might actually have caught, but clearly the last four years demonstrate that it's very unlikely and so I am trying not to think about it

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

bobbing rather than drowning

Feeling slightly better now, thank you all very much. Jolly good advice all round. When in doubt, resort to chocolate and voodoo - fabulous! :)

B has been round Next Door and Had Words and I am now trying to convince him that Bala is a reasonable commute from Manchester as I have found a wonderful place that would allow us to keep pigs.

Spotty Elephant, courtesy of NinaR brought the Mini-R's round for the afternoon (his mother phoned mid-morning and asked to be bailed out of babysitting due to energy level incapatabilities between them and her) and we have spent the afternoon making the most enormous train track in the world in the back yard/garden with chalk, flower pots, bits of old drainpipe and two small boxes I made in to trains. I have been left with instructions to feed the spotty elephants living next to Zoo Station with strawberries for their tea.

Oh, we have a new Pole. More info soon.

not waving at all ...

I have just had another session with our neighbour re the fence. She caught me pre-breakfast, pre-second cup of tea, as I was going up the road to see if I'd left my wallet in the car.

We've had a quote from our Fence Friend for three hundred quid, which includes buying the bits - forty five foot's worth of six foot high trellis panels with two inch squares (which is half the normal size, to stop Cat Intrusion, and thus a bit more costly than bog-standard trellis), and the labour.

Cat-Hating Neighbour says that that's very expensive.

The panels are going to be fixed to Cat-Hating Neighbour's side of the wall because she didn't want anything 'unsightly' to impact on her garden. I don't give a flying fuck about unsightliness, because a) I just want her off my back and b) I'm going to grow climbers up the walls anyway and that will cover it up.

Cat-Hating Neighbour says that her family wants to know what will happen if my climbers grow faster than her climbers.

Cat-Hating Neighbour is very upset because whenever she leaves her back door open, which she does all the time, cats go in to her house. Although she "doesn't know if they're yours, love".

Cat-Hating Neighbour has also just called me an Indian Giver because eighteen months ago I offered her the flagstones that we'd taken up and she said she'd take them; and didn't. And then I offered them to her a couple of times more and she didn't take them; and then she told me that she wasn't going to remodel her garden; so then I Freecycled them.

I hate this whole passive-aggressive thing disguised as friendliness.

I am crying. I am really fucking distressed by this - I feel like my space is being encroached upon. I already feel shut in by concrete, trapped by high walls, overlooked on all sides and surrounded by grime, dirt and horrible air.

All my pleasure in the garden we have spent the last few days creating is being drained away by this.

That's it, that's my line in the sand. I need to move house.

And we're not going to Somerset.

Sheweevil - drowning, actually :/.

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

gibbering hyacinths

We have had a very nice weekend doing garden-type stuff and chilling out.

The Freecyclers came to collect the paving slabs we wanted shot of; we have scored some topsoil from some friends who wanted shot of that; I have been and collected herb cuttings from another Freecycler AND scored an elderly Belfast Sink to make a water feature out of.

Here is a picture of the hyacinths outside our front door. Lovely, aren't they?

I have almost incapacitating PMT and I am therefore off to have some Green and Black's hot chocolate and gibber quietly at the thought of our impending visit to Ma and Pa's for a couple of nights, tomorrow.

That is all.

UPDATE: Have just had conversation with Ma, re whether we are coming or not, because if we're not, she won't bother to sort out the bedroom as she's really, really busy.

I mentioned that we were all slightly under-motivated this morning despite all we had to do, and she asked why. I mentioned the PMT.

Two comments:

1. Well, don't be coming down here and causing chaos if you've got PMT.
and
2. It's okay, you come down, tell B that I'll take the strain for a bit.

Pa is ill in bed with something that is making him shiver.

And the phone doesn't work any more from where I chucked it hard against the wall after I hung up.

Pass the minstrels, please.

Friday, 14 April 2006

spring is sprung

It's a beautiful sunny day so far today and we have nothing much to do until Tuesday except please ourselves.

I like Easter. It's less stress than Christmas, you get a long weekend, the weather is often nice and there is justification for actually making oneself sick on chocolate.

Not that I'd do that, oh no.

Cothelstone ChurchWe often go to visit my Ma and Pa over Easter weekend - see earlier 'less stress than Christmas' comment. I like the fact that spring will definitely have arrived in Somerset. And I like to go to church with Ma. I'm not a regular Church Person and these days I certainly wouldn't describe myself as a practising Christian; some of my beliefs are not at all compatible - reincarnation for example. But my roots are in the Church of England and I think of Cothelstone as 'my' church. People have been worshipping there for a good five hundred years and it gives me a great sense of community to go back every so often and experience that feeling of continuity that seems to seep from the walls during a service. It makes Ma happy, too. And I feel that spirituality is spirituality however it is expressed.

However, this year I have made a Wine Making Error that means that we can't visit this weekend. Last weekend I started two wine projects - five gallons of Elderflower and two gallons of Elderberry. They need to be stirred in their buckets twice a day for ten days before they go in their glass jars with airlocks. I have found from bitter experience that skimping on the stirring means that Really Bad Things happen - rotting, for example. This does not improve the taste of the finished product. So we are not free to leave until the middle of next week.

I am currently sat in bed with the sun streaming in through the attic window, planning all the things we could do over the next four days, stirring not withstanding.

I'm also going to try to have a bit of a break from the World Of Computers and get out in to the (shock! horror! gasp!) Real World.

Oh, we finished the business website and uploaded it. We have already had a serious enquiry via the form, presumable prompted by the lovely photos of us all that I've included that make us look reassuringly normal. *coughs*.

And Peasant, I would love an easy recipe for Strawberry Liqueur!

Wednesday, 12 April 2006

nettles and soapwort and apathy

I definitely need to drink nettle tea.

It's supposed to be good for you in spring and autumn when the seasons change and your body adjusts.

If 'your body adjusting' involves feeling slightly sleepy, slightly grumpy and slightly woolly all the time , then that is the place that I am in. I know that nettle tea is the answer, because Nadia-with-the-interesting-hat-collection at my mother's church recommended it to me a couple of years ago.

I do realise I'm not being very scintillating this week; lots of thinking-type work going on, doing stuff for the marketing company we've employed so that they can get going with some phone calls for us. It's not leaving me with much creative head space for anything else.

Re Peasant's question about identifying soapwort for my Virtual Garden, this is it.

And in response to Ms Mac's comment yesterday re the range cooker, I am THE Nigella; an erotic goddess AND a devil with an egg whisk.

I go to create spreadsheets.

Urk.

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

in a spin

range cookerR and I are wrestling with webpage design. We have six thumbnails that we wish to animate as .gifs, rotating six pictures each.

What timespacing do we need to set the rotation to for each of the different thumbnails to ensure that only one gif ever changes at a time?

More tea?

In other news:

  1. I have freecycled the unsuitable laminated flooring we were given for the bathroom (unsuitable in that it wasn't waterproof); the fireguard with the wobble; and the paving slabs I have levered up to make my raised bed.
  2. B has caught my sore throat from last week.
  3. The range cooker has been installed and it works.
For today, that is all.

Peasant - picture of soapwort and latin name for same coming soon.

Monday, 10 April 2006

overload

Meetings with marketing people; sorting out outgoing lodgers; viewings for potential lodgers; still have slight hangover; reflexology this afternoon; freecyclers coming for the old paving slabs.

Arrrggggghh.

Back tomorrow.

Probably.

Oh, yes, and KW and Peasant, yes please to Virtual Herbs. Comfrey and Soapwort, please.

Friday, 7 April 2006

fantasy farming

From www.freefoto.comI've hit a sort of wall. Not in a bad kind of way, but in a self-realisation kind of way.

Four years ago, when B and I decided to set up home together, it was clear that one of us had to move. He lived on Merseyside, I lived in South Wales.

It was equally clear that I was the person who was going to relocate. I had very few friends locally; the area held unhappy memories for me; and I had transferable skills both as an IT tutor in Community Education and as a secretary, that meant that I could find work pretty much anywhere.

B, on the other hand, had a client base that was centred around Manchester and the North-West; and a very supportive and integrated network of friends and family in Wallasey who had also made me very welcome. It would have been possible for him to move elsewhere and start his business up again; but it made more sense not to.

I have never, for one (sober) moment regretted that decision.

Living with B, is wonderful. And quite apart from that, I love having all our friends and family so close; I love the fact that I can pop round and see people for a cup of tea without having to plan a whole weekend away to catch up with them; I love the fact that B's parents are just around the corner - and although we have had our difficulties, we are basically a family unit.

These are things that I have never really had. I have moved around so much in the last fifteen years that I have never had time to put roots down anywhere; and going back home to live near my parents in Somerset was never a serious option; which still holds true now.

I can appreciate the fact that the Post-Office is just at the top of the road; the Co-op is just around the corner and there are about a million restaurants, cafes and pubs within walking distance. And then there's the centre of Liverpool a thirty minute bus-ride away. I even love our house, now we finally have functioning facilities and no resident builders.

From www.freefoto.comBut.

I really, really, miss living in the country. I miss having a garden. I miss things being green. I miss not being able to see hills. I miss not being able to potter outside with a cup of tea and see what plants are coming up in the far corners of the garden. I miss being able to open the door and walk down the road and be surrounded by trees and grass and plants. I miss having more animals around.

In a strange kind of way, I even miss the cats bringing in small dead presents for me in the mornings; as that is them doing their 'cat thing' and I don't think they much like being Town Cats.

So my epiphany last week was that I would like to live in the country again. Somewhere rural, where my Fantasy Chickens can become real.

We spent a bit of time last weekend looking at Rightmove to see what was affordably available around and about, within commuting distance of our clients in the North West. And that's as far as we've got, really.

The hitch is that moving house is not really compatible with adoption; or at least, adoption will severely constrain when we can move. We either move BEFORE children are placed with us. Or we wait for some years afterwards. It's just not fair to the children to settle them in one place - a new school, a completely new life - and then expect them to uproot again a couple of years later.

So. It's difficult. And in the meantime, as She Weevil pointed out in a comment when I first mentioned this earlier in the week, I am, actually, pretty homesick for the countryside.

We have some very serious thinking to do.

Thursday, 6 April 2006

the virus you want to catch

She Weevil has passed on the indie virus to me. Pass those tissues, please.

In the spirit of 'one out, all out', I'm going to pass the indie virus on to various other people.

But before you get infected by or pass the indie virus on yourself, you'd better learn a little bit about it.

There is no known cure for the indie virus. The only possible way to mitigate it's effects is to spread it around. The indie virus travels from blogger to blogger in the blink of an eye.

Pass the indie virus on to people you like to read who you think other people would enjoy meeting, too.

just for today ...

At the risk of becoming irritating, here is a REALLY REALLY cheerful thing.

I have just come back from a visit to my Lovely Doctor, to discuss him writing us a letter of support for the Adoption Services. Something along the lines of:

Dear Adoption Social Worker

Just because she is on anti-depressants, it does not mean Ally is mad and would stick pins in her children. She and B would make great parents.

Yours sincerely

Lovely Doctor
So.

He roughed out the letter there and then and is going to send it to us to approve and forward on to the Adoption Services.

I am so happy I am actually a bit weepy.

I know that this is only the beginning; that we have at least eight months of hard work to complete the Form F; and get approved; and then be matched with children after that. And there might be hiccups, or indeed, a brick wall, on the way.

But, as a good Reiki Person, from now on I am going to try to remember the Five Principles of Reiki:

Just for today:
  1. Let go of anger
  2. Let go of worry
  3. Earn your living honestly
  4. Honor every living being
  5. Show gratitude for all the gifts you receive
I think that the 'just for today' bit is very important; it helps one to focus in the moment and get on with things.

I meditated yesterday morning, for the first time for about six months.

And my yoghurt maker has arrived.

Yay!

Wednesday, 5 April 2006

yoghurt trauma

Image from www.freefoto.comYoghurt makers.

Any opinions?

Because the normally wonderful Northern Harvest cocked up our order last week (not to put too fine a point on it) and we were delivered ten litres of goats milk instead of four litres and six yoghurts.

Eight yoghurts at 56p costs £3.36 as opposed to a litre of milk at £1.48. That is £1.88 more expensive.

So I've eBayed a yoghurt maker for twenty quid that does a litre at a time, all in one container rather than in those daft little pots.

So even if it costs 50p in electricity to make the stuff, it will still pay for itself quite quickly.

Before I completely lose my credibility as someone who is prepared to knit her own yoghurt totally from scratch, I have tried the 'warm it up and stick it in a thermos overnight' method, a couple of times, with unsatisfactorary results.

Thank you for all the good wishes yesterday. We had a phone call from my mother in the afternoon:

Ma: Hello! Happy wedding anniversary!
B: Thank you very much.
Ma: The forsythia has come out, so I thought it was around now!
This morning I am rejiggling the company webpage, and searching on Rightmove for houses the country. Full story later in the week.

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

a really cheerful thing

Wedding imageHere's a REALLY cheerful thing.

So 'ware gushing.

It's our wedding anniversary today. We appear to have been married three years, which means that we have been a couple for not quite four and a half *.

It's strange - it feels like we have been together for ever.

But every day I also wake up and have this amazing feeling of something new and exciting happening. I look at B and a kind of firework goes off inside me and I realise that that not only is he my best friend; but he is also my lover, my intellectual sounding board and my creative partner; and that everything we do, together or as individuals, we do as part of a team.

It's fantastic, it's wonderful and it's beautiful and sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure that I'm not imagining it.

And yes, that is us in the photo.

*cough*

So, there you go. Excuse me while I go and adjust my cynicism glands and switch the sarcasm back on.


* Precisely, since 28 December 2001, Ludlow, outside the castle. Much to the surprise of the man walking his dog.

Monday, 3 April 2006

second weekend

Right then.

I don't normally subscribe to April Fool's day, but Rhys' post was so good that it was dead easy to join in.

We are having an extra weekend today and tomorrow, to make up for B missing LAST weekend.

We're going to do a bit of (Courtyard-)Garden Pottering and also, take Mrs Three Legs to the vet this morning, as she appears to have Cat Cystitis. This can apparently be quite serious, and both B and I can sympathise with her.

Ladies in WaitingSo, Ladies in Waiting.

I finished this a couple of weeks ago now and I really, really enjoyed it. It focuses on the ladies of the English court from the time of the Tudors onwards.

There is a lot about how the structure of the Queen's household changed over time; and a lot about ladies in waiting as mistresses of the King. Apparently it was pretty common for the King to reward his mistress with a place in his wife's household.

Some ladies in waiting were powers in their own right; Ann Bolyen for example; and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough during the reign of Queen Anne.

There are some glossy photos of some of the women accompanying the text. I was particularly struck by a line drawing (I think by Holbein) of Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII. She was beheaded for adultery and it seems like she had had quite a racy past. The drawing really drew me in; much more so than some of the more formal portraits. She looks so sad and she was so young compared to him. She didn't really have a choice about marrying him once he'd decided he wanted her.

I felt that the book gave a real insight in to how the monarchy has changed over five hundred years - the power of the King was gradually eroded and at the same time so was the power of his household. It's an interesting perspective on the changes.

It's also an interesting perspective on how the personality of the different monarchs changed the nature of the court around them. Prudish monarchs resulted in a prudish court; and vice-versa.

And now, I go to take the cat to the vet.

Saturday, 1 April 2006

some april good news for rhys

Liverpool blogger Rhys Wynne of The Gospel According to Rhys has been taken on by the BBC as their first full-time blogger.

I think he's sold out. How can one independently comment on life, the universe and Wales if you're being paid a six-figure sum to do so?

Rhys has disappointed me, disappointed his nation, and disappointed his mother for joining the BBC.

And unlike Fern, I have honestly never had sex with this man, so my opinion is unbiased :).