Thursday, June 28, 2007

Following consultation yesterday with one who knows about these things, I have decided to stop nagging Sim about some of his most simmish traits of behaviour, the ones that are driving me absolutely bloody nuts at the moment. I may not be nagging or getting cross about them from now on, but nobody said anything about not getting my own back passive-aggressive stylee by reporting them here.

So here is a selection of the things that have really really got my goat since yesterday afternoon.

  1. Sim returns from school with his white shirt liberally smeared with brown. When asked what it is (cos it looks awfully like something awful) he responds typically with a single word: "DT". "What?" say I. "DT?" "Er, no", says he. "Art". "Eh?", say I. "Paint", says he. "My friend painted me." That explains it then.
  2. Yesterday afternoon. Sim steps through doorway, kicks shoes off half way across hallway, strips socks from feet, throws them in the corner. I've only been (politely, then not so politely) been asking him not to do this for ten sodding years. I am stuck in Groundhog Day.
  3. This morning, shortly before he leaves for school, I go to the loo. There, resplendent, lie his pyjamas, on the bathroom floor. Where else? I catch him before he leaves, and get him to move them.
  4. Later, I realise there is a gap on the washing line, where one of his school shirts had been last night. Not the painty one, but the one that had black ink stains down the front, even though I only ever buy him washable blue cartridges ("I prefer black ink", he told me when he got home in that state on Monday). He put on a damp shirt, think I. He must have been desperate. Except I realise, when I go into the back kitchen stroke laundry room, that he has in fact put it through the drier. I can tell this by the presence of the pile of clean laundry he removed from the drier, that is now lying on the floor next to an empty laundry basket, in the slightly icky patch left by the paper bag of potatoes that went bad the day before yesterday, and that I haven't yet mopped.
  5. The neatly folded (yes, I folded them, because it will be a little chilly in hell before he will) clothes I put in the middle of his bed yesterday evening, so that he could not avoid putting them away before going to sleep, are now lying in a crumpled jumble on the floor.
There you go. 13 hours with a nearly fourteen year old. Is it just me?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Yeah, I know, I know. It's been a while. All I can blame is the demon work. Call me a simple soul, but I just can't seem to handle work life and real life at the same time. Or maybe the work is just a really good excuse for abdicating responsibility for everything else.

Anyway, I've had loads of work, as previously mentioned, but also the arrival of the two delightful young Spanish guests from last year, The Boff being away on a jaunt to Stockholm for the best part of the week, and my feeling like death poured from a tin and placed on "high" for a few minutes.

What with one thing and another, the work took the back seat this week, and I rested, and actually saw a friend (gasp-shock-horror) for lunch. Never happens. As it turned out, I was half an hour late for our date, what with madly trying to finish the document I was supposed to send back by first thing Monday, ferrying the Boff to the station, and being so short of sleep that I was practically delirious.

Under the circumstances, that include me working every single day since the beginning of May, including weekends, I think the fact that all the animals are still fed and happy, the egg stall still thriving, the children ditto ditto, and all in roughly the right place at the right time, is in fact a cause for celebration.

Anyway, I just wanted to say how wonderful my husband is.

On Monday morning, -as I worked in a listless yet hysterical manner to finish the document I was supposed to return-, he got up, got the children up, made three packed lunches, had breakfast, took two children to the bus stop, came back, took three children to school, came back, double-checked his talk for the Swedish conference, checked in online, did the washing up, fed the animals, moved the runs for the ones that needed moving, set the washing machine to run that night, and then it was 10am.

Later (felt like about four days, but probably only 3/4 of an hour), as he drove the car to Tiverton Parkway, and I typed madly on the laptop, he received a call from his boss. It was a call he knew was coming, with the results of the promotion panel exercise he did a few weeks ago, and that he knew he would be getting back that morning.

I took that call, as the Boff was taking bends rather fast in the circumstances, but the boss refused to divulge anything to me and promised to call back later.

"That's that, then", said the Boff. "I've failed, again..."

We spent the next few minutes concocting scenarios in which it might be likely that one's spouse's boss might refuse to divulge the positive results of promotion panels to one; some were nearly convincing, but we both had that sinking feeling that comes from knowing that you are not going to get what you really really want for the fourth time, when you really feel you deserved it this time.

And it was indeed so. The Boff has, by virtue of being crap at acting, lost his chance of promotion for the fourth time in six years.

He is, by all accounts, a shit-hot climate scientist, he manages a worldwide group of people involved in whatever arcane subset of climate research it is that pays our Riverford Organics and council tax bills, he even does the flaming job he was supposed to be permanently promoted to, yet because he cannot act in role-playing exercises on one given day, they fail to promote him. Does that sound even remotely sensible to you? Please tell me if you think it does, because it just seems like a waste to us, and we'd love an alternative view on it.

He is still wonderful though. Instead of getting despondent this time, he got angry. When I finally managed to talk to him later on Monday afternoon, he was sitting in a Heathrow airport restaurant tucking into an expenses-paid three course lunch with wine.

He'd decided that Stockholm must be an expensive place, and was determined to live well on expenses for the week, just to get his own back, he who normally pinches pennies at all times when travelling for his work. He's not feeling quite so loyal any more, and didn't decline outright when I suggested we return to Montreal. This may be a long-term plan...

Monday, June 11, 2007

This is something new. I am sitting on the seafront in Exmouth, watching Sim take a windsurfing lesson, and blogging wirelessly from my car. There is, inexplicably, an open Estuary wireless network. Maybe for sailors?

Anyway, am a smite pissed off as I was hoping to use the next two hours to work

-did I mention that the gods of self-employment have been smiling upon me and touching my head, in a purely avancular way, since the beginning of May? Ever since I silently prayed (?) implored (?) whatever deity may be out there to ensure that I have regular work.

It's all a little spooky actually, and I don't want to jinx it, but since the beginning of May, I've actually had to turn down work, and have still fortuitously ended up with the best paying jobs of all that are offered me.-

on this document I'm translating at present, entirely without interruption. Now it seems that I may be internetting a little too.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I keep forgetting to say that if anybody out would like to rent a house in rural Normandy (France), that can sleep 4-6 people (4 in a strictly civilised fashion, up to 6 if 2 people don't mind sofa beds), is absolutely beautiful, recently completely renovated, woodstoves, all mod cons including separate laundry room, one bathroom one shower room, very high ceilings, with a glorious view....and breathe.... well if you or someone you know would like to rent a house of that ilk, please email me on the link below, and I will email you photos and location etc...

It is my sister's lovechild house, and she has spent five years and a lot of money renovating and making it just right. She owes me some of my earnings that I put through her Euro account, and can't afford to pay me at the moment, so by renting her house, you'd be helping me to get my money back from her.

Go on, you know you want to.

Update: I've shamelessly added a link to some pics of it.

You will notice how worldly my sister is (not) when you see the pics. She waited a long time for that raincloud, and seems not to have discovered the zoom feature on her camera that would have captured the view without her car in the foreground. Watercolours are more her thing you see...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Quote for the day:

"It must be quite weird to see a bishop bearing down on you with an egg-timer."

Friday, June 01, 2007

The babies I- the piggies and an eco-disaster 

The piggies weren't unexpected. I took two of the female to "visit" a boar some time ago. As Cocoa gradually swelled to the size of a football, and became increasingly immobile, I presumed that she was near her time, and brought her indoors.

That was how I missed the birth of the first litter, as the svelte Thelma, whom I had assumed was a couple of weeks behind her sister, quietly produced two beauties overnight on May Day. Shock of my life, I can tell you. I mean, I was expecting them to be sort of white, given the colour of the boar, just not quite as white as they are. Given that their mother is almost entirely dark golden and brown, the fact that one baby is entirely white was a surprise.

As Cocoa was so huge, we thought that she might have trouble feeding all the resulting babies, and brought Thelma indoors to be with her so she could help out with feeding (guinea pigs readily foster and wet-nurse).

Cocoa stayed in a cage indoors, virtually hand fed as she was having trouble walking, for the last three weeks of her pregnancy She spent a lot of her time lying down with her rear legs stuck out behind her. When her girth reached 44 cm, which for a Fairly Small Animal is utterly immense, we thought she couldn't possibly get any bigger.

And she didn't. She produced 5 babies two days after her sister, again mostly in shades of white. Thelma did indeed help out with the feeding, and the whole band stayed indoors for three weeks until the amount of grass they needed cutting just to get through the day began to fill the entire cage, and it just became silly to even attempt it.

Can you guess which came from the litter of two, and which from Cocoa's litter? Think difference in size... There is only a 2-day difference in age.

So I put them outside in a run. Four days later, as I sat in my study working, I heard the sound of fighting guinea pigs. Looking out, I could see various females running around chattering their teeth, and biting at a slinky thing in the run.

Rushing out, Sim and I quickly realised that some small carnivore was in the run attempting to bag one of the babies for its supper. It hid under a piggie house and bared its teeth hissing when I uncovered it.

Using the blanket with which we shield the run from the sun, I trapped the creature against the side while Sim went to fetch a gardening glove and a cotton bag. I bagged the wriggling thing -with quite some trepidation, yes...- as it tried to slice through my fingers with its sharp teeth, and went indoors to identify it from memory online. Probably a weasel, we concluded, although is was behaving rather oddly.

Our farmer neighbours firstly told me I was insane, and then suggested I took it to the forest to release it. Online suggested that a determined weasel laughed in the face of lolloping three miles a night, so the forest would be 2.5 miles too close.

We decided to keep it overnight in a box with all it needed- chicken giblets water, bedding etc, and to let ma-in-law take it back with her to Wiltshire to deal with their rabbit problem. In the meantime, I worried that the reason it had attacked the piggies was because my rodent poisoning programme had been too successful, and began to wonder whether those rat runs criss-crossing my veg patch weren't actually mouse runs that had also admitted a weasel on the hunt.

Weasely in the box, in the meantime, half-heartedly sampled the offerings, but seemed distressed and had somehow sustained a skin wound to the stomach (not guilty, I don't think). He spent a lot of time either sleeping, or writhing and scrabbling at his stomach.

In the morning, Weasely alas breathed his last. He was still just about alive at 5 am when I came down to finish some work, but expired by 7:30, and was buried later that day in the new raised bed I am making. I think that he may have eaten a poisoned mouse, alas, and suspect that there may be far fewer rodents in my veg patch than once were. I have created an ecological wasteland, and will probably get my just desserts soon. Probably instead of the peas, sweetcorn, salad, squashes, carrots and all the other seedlings consumed by the pesky little mice. Skip the veg and go straight to the desserts...

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