Wednesday, August 30, 2006

From the trenches 

Things 'round here are moving rather uncomfortably fast for my liking.

On Thursday, after Hen's weekly visit to the fracture clinic, I moved the girl guinea pigs from their used up patch of lawn to a nice fresh piece of grass. On Friday morning, I observed that lo! ten of them had vanished overnight.

Normally this signals nothing more than a few moments inconvenience at dusk recapturing the pesky little things as they creep around their enclosures looking for a way in. Occasionally, it has meant staking out flower beds and using low cunning against this most sneaky of foe.

This time, there was neither sight nor sound of them for two days, until we decideed to clear a way through the ditch that run between our boundary hedge and our neighbour's bramble-covered barbed-wire field fence.

This exploration revealed a quantity of white fur, probably formerly belonging to Lola, the beautiful satin. Our hearts sank, because this was Sunday afternoon, meaning that they'd been out in the open for three whole days, and were not, as we were beginning to imagine, tucked up in the shed of some evil pig-rustler.

On Monday morning, one little pig came back. The Boff found her sheltering in the drainage ditch he built four months ago, and which we are still awaiting enough rain to test before filling in. This ditch, barely 10 inches deep, leads straight into the usually dry aforementioned hedge ditch.

This discovery galvanised us into deploying Pig Rescue Operation 2, involving tasty treats in the drainage ditch and strategically placed tubes and hutches to entice the little buggers in. PRO2 led to the recovery of a further pig this morning, but sadly the whole venture has had a little enthusiasm sapped from due to the arrival of the school bill for Dill on Tuesday morning.

This bill was preceded by a phone call on Monday evening from the headmaster of her school, the school which Hen and Sim has just left, to announce his intention to shut the school after the Autumn term. The reasons are that the school roll is falling, whilst costs and worries and bureaucracy are escalating. It is becoming financially unsustainable, and a great big headache to a man no longer young enough to cope with unreasonable demands.

This is a devastating blow to a great many people, not least the headteacher himself, and a group of parents are at present forming a recovery action plan for the school.

I cannot talk much more about this at the moment, as I am on the phone continually, and am putting all of my energies into the plan, but suffice to say that there are not very many schools in the world like my children's school, and I'm buggered if I'll give in to bureaucracy and ^^&*%(! Ofsted without a fight.

There are enough of us out there who know that this school provides a wonderful education and are willing to try and save it, for this to work. So that's what we're going to try to do. We're going into the trenches, and something tells my that they will be a little more than 10 inches deep.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Gay Piggie 

I realise that I have forgotten, somewhere in the last couple of weeks, to explain to you virtual people why it is that we are sharing our cooking space with rodents.

Maybe it was the look on the face of Madame Sin, our new cleaner, as she broached the kitchen for the first time, that reminded me that it is possibly not all that usual willingly to harbour rodents.

The revelation that we use the dog as our frontline cleaning for hard baked-on grease merely sent her eyebrows into a greater arch. (incidentally, a glance at Dooce's page a few weeks revealed that her dog is similarly employed, but that sadly, unlike our gorgeous Goofy, her dog has not yet mastered the paw in tray to keep it still technique. That'll learn me for thinking my dog is thick).

Anyway, back to the rodents. They are not rats or mice, nor even dormice. They are, obviously guinea pigs. We are trialling a new in-house composting system fattening them up for the pot trying to socialise the little buggers.

Readers of yore may remember the tragic murder of Pyramus Pig, whose psychotic ways made him impossible to live with, be ye pig or human. Our fat Trekker was exhibiting similarly nasty tendencies, but I couldn't bring myself to adminsiter capital punishment.

In fact, I may have become a rehabilitator (?), since I decided the only thing to do was to separate him for a good long time from the society of other pigs, whilst simultaneously exposing him to a lot of human activity, and causing him to associate in in his tiny porcine brain the appearance of food with the presence of humans.

So far, so good. There has been no teeth chattering for severeal weeks. In fact, he was making such good progress that I decided to introduce an adolescent pig to him for company. And there has been no teeth chattering or biting at all.

There has been *a lot* of humping though (yuk- have had to bath little Scruffy to get rid of packets of solidified...matter...stuck in his fur), which little Scruffy now seems to be actively trying to avoid, although on the whole he doesn't seem to mind Trecker. I am now wandering whether Trecker is in fact an in the closet guinea pig, and whether the pressure of being in the closet was just stressing him so much that he became aggressive.

Whatever the reasons for his troubled life, he seems to be slowly learning how to be sociable again. It's just as well poor Scruffy can't talk though.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Posts around have been scarce, and I'd love to be able to say that it's because we're all out having too much fun to be anywhere near a computer, even if that were a cool thing to do in our frantically busy world.

No, the truth is somewhat more mundane. The children are turning into televisual addict couch potatoes, the garden is going to rack and ruin (expcet today, as the Boff is hacking about 150 cm off our hedges (has to be done twice a year, making the hedge probably the fastest growing bastard in our garden- and don't talk to me about growing, as that's a whole other post)). This is a heroic feat, as said hedges consist mainly of two inch-long thorns (evidentally this place was at some point occupied by a Masai tribe keen on keeping their herds safe).

So my heroic husband is outside tackling the overgrowth, whilst at the same planning how to incorporate our annoyingly hummy septic tank pump box into some kind of feature. I fear that the poor man may be delusional, or at the very least suffering from some kind of thorn-induced sepsis, which is eating away at his brain. On the hand, he may yet pull it off. Only time, and his creativity, will tell.

Meanwhile, I sit inside alternately reading blogs feverishly, and going outside to murder cabbage caterpillars (my brassicas! My beautiful brassicas!! They are massacred by hundreds of the squishy little sods) and weeds with equal fervour.

For I have a cold, you see, and my temperature has soared above 37C today, which makes me feel rather unwell, although I recognise that to others, 37 might seem normal. My normal temperature ranges from 36.3 to 36.6. I did have a spell* some time ago of temperatures below 36, but I felt distinctly unwell then, and all the time, so I suppose I should not complain about 37 now, which only makes me feel slightly under the weather, but less like a dead slug than 35.6. If that makes sense.

I'll stop rambling now. I feel a murderous rage coming upon me, and my bowl o'caterpillars still has spaces on its 'out' journey. Toodle-oo.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

She seems to be on the mend, this child of mine. Not visibly the arm, which will take many weeks, but the psyche.

For she has spent the last six days since the accident either supine and gazing at the television with dull eyes, or sitting, gazing at the television with dull eyes.

She rudely cut dead any nurse she did not like in the hospital, concentrating instead on the slightly weird Cartoon Network. It was easy enough to take no notice of the nurses, since they changed at least twice a day, never returned in the three days we were there, and seemed unaware every one of them of Hen's medical details.

The last one, on Sunday, was quite a case, but I digress. Oh and the mad menopausal one on Saturday who very nearly wrenched Hen's bed sideways, forgetting that her arm was hooked up to a trolley beside the bed. (if she'd displaced that fracture through sheer stupidity, I would not have been responsible for my actions, I tell you -nothing more likely to bring out the mother bear in me)

Hen does not usually handle pain well. I have joke with her about her childbirth options later (with "not have any babies at all" as a preferred front runner). Sureprisingly, when she broke her wrist at Christmas, she did not make much of a fuss about it. I can only assume that it did not hurt much- we would surely know about it if it had.

This time, she has been in a lot of pain. That is partly why we had to spend the extra two days in hospital, as she was still in pain despite the paracetamol, ibuprofen, morphine and codeine they were giving her. On Saturday morning, they split the cast up the outside to relieve the pressure they discovered was causing her to lose feeling in her fingers, and relieved some of the pain at the same time.

Unfortunately, splitting the cast means less suppport, which means a higher likelihood of the fracture displacing again- since both her forearm bones are broken at the same place, they have nothing to be braced against, so the cast is for the time being her arm's exo-skeleton.

This Nurse Self-Obsessed Cow (quotes: "Come on, I have a 12 hour shift to get through; it's not going to be much fun if you won't smile"; "You'll have to move up the bed alone; I'm pregnant, I can't help you") realised on Sunday only after the radiologist decided to move the X-ray machine rather than the arm, to avoid causing Hen further pain, explaining as such to Nurse SOC as she went along. Nurse SOC was as sweet as piewas possible on the way back from the X-Ray department, even as she tried to make Hen hurry up.

Before that she genuinely thought my child was malingering, and that the prescription by the orthopaedic surgeon to keep the arm elevated above the heart (ie, Hen lying down, arm upright supported by sling on a hook) was symptomatic of Hen's malingering.

Normally, no-one makes lighter of Hen's pain sensitivity than me, but even I could see that my dead-eyed, drugged-up child was not malingering, but suffering. I wonder how Nurse SOC could tell that she was actually fine?

So Hen was finally fitted on Sunday with a round-the-neck foam contraption to take some of the weight of the plaster- around 1.5 kg, which given her bird-like frame, is too heavy for her shoulder to take alone (she can't flex her lower arm muscles, you see). And after they had thoughtfully provided her with the collar n' cuff, she was able to get up. And go home.

She was still in pain until this morning, but her doses of Paracetamol+ibuprofen (I didn't realise you could take them in combination like that) have been administered progressively further apart, and she is getting to the stage of managing the pain for longer and longer.

Today, for the first time, she decided to do something physical; she is also laughing and joking again. She went out into the garden. She has stopped looking withdrawn. And I think she knew better than Nurse SOC whether she was in pain or not.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Maybe I'm becoming fatalistic in my maturing years, but I no longer marvel as I once did at amazing coincidences. On Friday afternoon, they amalgamated our ward with the ward next door, due to small patient and staff numbers (no scheduled surgery at the weekend I suppose).

This meant moving in a heart-sinking way into the ward occupied by the child I'd internally dubbed The Howler. I assumed that The Howler was a boy, so raucous was its voice and so strong its determination not to let any member of staff anywhere near it.

While waiting to be move on Friday afternoon, we had an uninterupted view towards the front door of the children's ward, could see the comings and goings of staff and visitors, and, by six on Friday, the attempts by The Howler to leave the building, nightgown, howl, lines in the backs of the hands, and all.

For The Howler was a She. A rather familiar-looking little girl, I thought, as I watched the nurse block her repeated attempts to get through the door, shouting that she was going home, her mother waddling ineffectually behind her.

It was only on Saturday morning, when The Howler plonked herself down next to Hen's bed, said "Hello, I'm Jacquie, I broke my arm at Christmas", that I realised why she looked so familiar.

She had been in the Orthopaedic unit when Hen when to have her wrist plastered up in the New Year. We'd had a conversation about casts, reassuring her at the time, as Hen had hers done just a few minutes before Jacquie, and Jacquie was a rather nervous patient.

Jacquie's mum and I had been casting surreptitious glances at each other since we were moved into their ward, both feeling that we recognised each other. The poor little thing was in for a nasty infection of her new appendix scar, which site required unpacking and repacking every day with gauze, and was receiving intravenous antibiotics twice a day.

She was scared, unsurprisingly, and also rather unwilling to submit to either treatment. They had tried: remonstrating, reasoning, cajoling, threatening (her mother, reverting to her usual outside-hospital child-rearing methods), explaining, pinning down, and finally, to the immense relief of all those present, drugging. I tell you, if there is a place in life for ketamines and salbutamol, that was it.

As we left on Sunday afternoon, we said goodbye to Jacquie and her mum with quite some degree of relief, hoping not to coincide in such circumstances again.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hen moves off through the late afternoon crowds making their way home down the high street. She is chatting and laughing with her friend Emilia, barely pausing to say goodbye and see you tomorrow.

We've just had coffee in the city centre with Emilia's mum, who is picking her up after a day spent at ours.


Half an hour later, The Boff has taken Sim home in his car, and Dill and I are catching a few late bargains in the Fat Face sale. My phone rings.

It's Emilia's mum:
"Don't worry, but..."


A few hours later, she lies in a fitful, morphine-induced sleep, her broken arm resting on a pillow, as a very small baby's wail, receding and strengthening as it is rushed backwards and forwards outside our bay, keeps me awake.

In the morning, there will be surgery, a first for any of my children. We've been lucky so far.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

We're spending hte weekend lounging aboutin a field with about a hundred other families. It's hot, the food is lousy, the loos are chemical, but it's fun. The view from the field is, as usual breathtaking (think 300 degree panoramic from the top of a hill, the remaining 60 being hedge and a wood).

Two sisters are expected. As in all the best proverbs, one proverbial sister has used her time wisely and driven here in the fastest time possible given the road conditions.

The other sister, meanwhile, having driven the same way, has eschewed seeing her son Carrot for the first time in two weeks, and decided to make a 30 mile detour (note for readers from BIG countries- 30 miles is a big deal in England, especially considering the crowded nature of the roads) off the A303 to see a university friend she sees maybe once every three years. Carrot, who has been staying with us for a week, is expecting her about four hours ago already.

I have nipped home to tend to the unavoidable small creatures- the large soppy creature is with us in the field, eating all manner of unsuitable fare (unsuitable for dogs, anyway). His stomach is enormous and he is already having trouble with his number 2, but I'll spare you the details.

Oh and did I mention? We have three new chicks. The Boff will kill me if this growth rate continues- there have been 13 new chickens this year. Anyway, must tend and leave before going back to lie in a field. Tatty bye!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hobbit feet 

Time for a gripe, methinks, after another fruitless foray into what the internet has to offer; this time I am looking for shoes for the boy child for school in September.

You might be gasping at the supreme feat (no pun intended- believe me, I am far too weary to joke about it) of organisation, that I should even consider this matter four weeks ahead.

The problem is that I know from bitter experience what an ordeal buying shoes for my son is. And not for the reason you might think for the standard 13 year old. My child is actually completely laid-back about what he puts on his feet, and has only one maxim- that we spend as little as possible on them, as he is afraid of losing them.

No, the fates have conspired to make my most laid-back child the most difficult to fit. His sisters are easy to fit- they just don't like anything that fits, and I object to the ones they like on moral grounds (think heels, even on schools shoes, even at Clarks, of about two inches, for girls of their ages).

At size 5 and a half, and an H fitting, our shoe-buying options for him are severely limited. Last year, we were sent down to the grown-ups in desperation by the woman in the children's section to purchase some expensive Panama Jack's. We were lucky last year that it did not matter all that much what he wore on his feet.

This year, with a new stricter school that enforces dress code in a muscular way, we limited in fact to a few expensive makes which refuse to sell to the UK direct. Birkentock would be a possibility- I found some perfect black lace-ups in an Ebay shop that I have used before- you have to decipher the German text, but they ship willingly to the UK. At least, they used to. No longer, it seems.

Nuts, as the Boff would say.

I have emailed in a schoolgirl German with virtually audible squeaks of panic, to enquire whether, among their 50000 satisfied customers, they mightn't consider making an exception for me, relaxing their "no-shipping to the abroad" rule, just this once *whimper*.

Normally, it takes over an hour even in a shop that has the right size shoes to fit the boy, as the assistant never believes my pleas that we skip the Fs and Gs, and go straight to the Hs. In a bad year, we can trail from shop to shop in towns ever more distant, thereby spending several days purchasing an item that most people can buy in minutes.

If anybody out there can point me in the direction of a shop that actually has black lace up shoes that a 13 year old boy could be seen dead in, in a 5 and a half (39 continental) and H width, please tell me, as I am quite seriously contemplating having his school shoes made to measure this year- it would still be cheaper than the ridiculous 120 pounds demanded by Birkenstock Uk.

Also you would save me literally days. And you know much time I have on my hands...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

And if you thought UK roads were scary enough, just be thankful you don't have to share them with this.

When we moved into this house, we took possession of a small mint plant hidden amongst some rather overexuberant daisies.

The plant appeared moribund, which was a shame since it was nice mint: a single roast lamb saw most of it off.

Desperate to save it, I transplanted a little in two separate places, and in the first winter, attempting to palliate previous owner's unspoken remit to strip the ground of nutrients bit by bit, I gave the border it was in a good mulch on manure and compost.

The bed to which I had transplanted the mint was similarly mulched to restore it tosomething unlike builder's rubble. I let the chickens wander over it all winter, pecking and scratching.

Last summer, I had enough mint to fill a very large jar full of mint sauce for those winter Sunday lunches.

This summer, I am weeding the stuff and wondering how to murderget rid of it. About two weeks ago I cut it all down to the ground, with the vague intention of mincing and storing it in vinegar, and hopefully killing some off in the process. Somehow, the whole lot of leaves were accidentally left out in in a large bowl in the sun until they were a frazzled heap of mint hay, and I didn't even care.

Today, I have to deal with this:

as well as the shoe explosion that seems to have happened at Purple Towers over the last two years. This is the problem with having small children- their friends pass on loads of things, and before we know it, we're to our earholes in sentimental objects.

Pish-posh, I say. I'm in a murdersome mood.

It suddenly struck me yesterday in town that in the old days people used to coordinate their outfits by colour and pattern, maybe matching a patterned with a plain garment, maybe a couple of colours that go together (remember the old "blue and green should never be seen"? (or was that just my mother?)).

Nowadays everyone wears "fashionable" colours, and they all just match each other. And their houses, and the shop windows. Obviously this means that people must change their wardrobes when the shop windows change, which is all good for business.

Maybe I'm wrong, but is this fashionable colour thing new? Curmudgeon that I am am, I just stalk through clothes shops, contemptuously swishing my mental stick at the displays of inappropriately fashionable (read: oudated in 6 months' time), muttering oaths under my breath, and wondering whether anything will go with anything I have already, and whether any of it is built to last.

I am old, it's official.

This page is powered by Blogger. 
Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com