Friday, 18 March 2011

Things and more things

If you haven't already got sick of my moaning, you might gather that Things have been getting on top of me a bit. I'm not keen on Things. I try to keep them to a minimum. Things like financial matters and dealings with bureaucracy and call centres and waiting lists and officialdom and important post and the sort of emails you have to agonise over the wording of. But sometimes they all come flooding in on you. All at once.

At first, I get a bit stressed. Then I get a bit more stressed and start to sigh and swear a lot. Then I resort to list making, cake eating and beer drinking. Then little thoughts start to pop into my mind. Mischievous little daydreams of the things I'd actually like to be doing. Sometimes, the other blogs I read help with the inspiration. It's not that I wish my life was like these people's. But that the blogs I like to read tend to focus on the simple things that provide an enduring source of calm and contentment. I like things. With a small 't'; things like fresh new hawthorn leaves and daffodils, open windows, evening birdsong as the days grow longer, a three-year-old's rendition of Baa Baa Black Sheep (had some ice cream), an old book with beautiful woodcut pictures of rural life, a children's book with beautiful seaside illustrations, an afternoon's digging and raking of allotment soil until it is that elusive, gardening-book phenomenon known as a fine tilth (a great name for a blog if ever I heard one).

I am forming some half-baked plans for things I'd like to be doing this spring. Like going camping in south Wales for a couple of nights so the boy and I can go to the Museum of Welsh Life and explore all the replica Celtic roundhouses and 17th century farmhouses. Like planting primulas in the baskets on the wall opposite my kitchen windows. Like knitting a tea cosy. Like reading some Jane Austen and sitting in the yard doing some Jane Austen-esque needlework. Like eating buttery crumpets. Like taking picnics to the park. Like making a beanbag frog for the little man.

It doesn't matter if I don't do actually do these things. Or if it takes weeks and weeks to get round to them. The potential is enough to cheer me up so I can say a heartfelt 'fuck that' to all the crap.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011


badly written online divorce service questionnaire... more blood tests required by anaesthetist (does this mean there was something unusual found in the first lot?)... no answer on my query over entitlement to sick pay... rearranging nursery familiarisation visits because of rearrangement of work because of expected op recovery time... boy waking up earlier and earlier as spring gets going... boy has been referred to Alder Hey to see specialist over infected branchial sinus, for which he is no longer taking any antibiotics but it is still gunky... yet another cold, making me cough and sneeze, which is what I think gave me a femoral hernia in the first place... two out of my three new bras are so badly designed that sharp corners at the back fastening are digging into me... comfort eating of such things as fresh white bread and brie...

* News In Brief. And of course, newspapers only print bad news. The good news is: daffodils everywhere... real ale in my glass... it's bedtime... I get to put my feet up after I've had surgery (should I be looking forward to this so much?)

Normal service, including the proper use of sentences and paragraphs, will be resumed soon.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A few 'whys' of my own

Why do I have yet another cold? Because I am surrounded by a magical aura that acts as a beacon to every common cold virus within a fifty-mile radius.
Why is my bank account three-hundred-and-odd quid down? Because I haven't been paid this week. Why? This one's still a mystery.
Why can't I get hold of someone at my union to discuss my (non-)entitlement to sick pay after my operation? Because if I'm not at work I'm with a three-year-old who won't let me have a conversation on the phone without demanding the phone off me and making so much noise I can't hear the other person.
Why did I have to have a rather pathetic one-egg omelette, without cheese, for breakfast? Because I haven't had time to go to the shop to buy bread for toast, or enough milk for porridge, or cheese, or more eggs.
Why have I been stuffing myself full of chocolate? Because I'm a wee bit stressed, and tired, and run down.
Why can't I move in my dining room? Because there's a play tent in the middle of it.
Why did little man get up at 4am? Another mystery.
Why am I typing with one hand? Because the other one is in a cardboard box boat.
Why has the hole in the road outside my house still not been Tarmac-ed over after nine days? Who knows?
Why am I failing to see the funny side? Er...

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Miscellaneous news, featuring the word 'why'

It has begun. Asking why. About everything. I should be glad that he is such a curious and intelligent child. He wants to know about the world around him. Yes, erm, of course I'm glad. Here's one conversation we had in the car on the M56:

Boy: 'I want a tiny pink cake.'
Me: 'I don't have any tiny pink cakes.'
Boy: 'Why?'
Me: Because I don't carry tiny pink cakes around with me.'
Boy: 'Why?'
And so on...

He's been extra whingy of late. Probably because his branchial sinuses are infected (holes in his neck, evolutionary remnant of gills that should have closed over in the womb but didn't). He had one week of antibiotic ointment, one week of ointment and amoxycillin and now we've ditched the ointment but have a course of clarithromycin. He has two of these holes in his neck. One is very red and oozing lots of green gunk. We saw a specialist when he was a baby (it took a couple of weeks to notice the holes, babies' necks being what they are) who said nothing could be done while he's little but surgery is a possibility when he's older if infection becomes a problem.

It has, consequently, been a long day and I am hitting the bottle. A crisp Soave. I am preparing dinner, which I suspect I am cooking for one. Little man has just eaten two bananas and three ryvitas and has now moved on to an apple. He helped me to grind some spices and has just tucked into some coriander seeds, which he loves. He learnt to say 'coriander'. He also learnt how to finely chop herbs with a rocking motion of the knife. Another word he's trying to say at the moment is 'cushions' and it's unfortunate that it's sounding more like 'cunts'.

I finally told him this morning that the chickens had died. I wanted to wait until we went to the allotment, otherwise I don't think he'd have quite grasped the abstract concept of death. But now he knows they are not there. I told him they had got old and died, rather than that they were torn apart by some sharp-toothed beastie. He took it all in his stride, as toddlers do, and demanded a little fork to do some digging.

We then visited great grandma's house. Little man pressed the big red button. Well, it is very big and very red and just screams 'press me'. The Lifeline people called to check grandma was ok. I had to explain it was a false alarm. I asked little man not to press the button again. 'Why?' he asked. 'Because I bloody well said so,' I wanted to reply.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

How to make healthy pancakes

Disclaimer: This blog post contains absolutely no recipes for, or information about, healthy pancakes.

Step 1: Go shopping in your usual manner. Actually, we would normally walk to the Co-op, which is healthy, but today we drove, which is not, because we needed more shopping than I thought I could carry. When we get there, little man generally takes charge of one of those basket-on-wheels thingies while I get a normal basket too. He has a tendency to ram into old ladies. Who mostly coo in proper old lady fashion, but not always. Once you get to the queue, you have to get the small one to help unload the baskets onto the conveyor belt. This is a purely diversionary tactic to stop them running round and round the booze aisle with arms flailing dangerously close to the bottles. Near the checkout will be some of those plastic lemon-shaped lemon juice squeezy thingies. You will be required to purchase one.

Step 2: Make pancake batter in the usual manner. My recipe is in imperial: 4oz flour, one egg, half a pint of milk. Make a well in the flour, drop in the egg, start to draw in flour whilst slowly pouring in half the milk. Then bung in the rest of the milk and beat til bubbly. (Did I just tell you how to make pancake batter? I do apologise.) Important: You must be getting a bolognese sauce under way at the same time as you make the pancake batter. This allows the small one to spend plenty of time beating the batter while you juggle burning-hot pans full of scalding-hot fat from the mince. While you are pouring off the fat, the small one will knock over the bowl of batter. Approximately half of it will spill over the worktop and onto his jumper. Clear this up in a cheery, it's ok, it was an accident, manner. You have just saved approximately half the calories of a standard batch of pancakes.

Step 3: I forgot to mention the healthy carrots that made their way into the batter before it was spilt. The carrot circles you thought the small one might have liked to eat. But he/she will demand cucumber instead. Now is the time to fish out and bin (or rinse and compost) the carrot.

Step 4: Having resisted the urge to swig wine straight from the bottle at midday and transferred the bolognese to the slow cooker, fire up your frying pan. Make the first pancake and present it to the child. Sprinkle on a little sugar and allow the small one to squirt on some lemon juice. They will put on an excessive amount. Present the small one with knife and fork. They will declare at this point that they don't like pancakes.

Step 5: Eat the rest of the pancakes yourself while the child squirts lemon juice onto their plate and laps it up like a cat. They will eventually move on to squirting it directly into their mouth. When there is about one nano-gram left in the lemon juice container, they will declare they do not like it and pull a funny face. Oh good, you will reply, because it's all gone.

Step 6: Congratulate yourself on your child's vitamin C intake, give them something else for lunch and clear up the mess.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Annual life assessment

Health: Hernia repair op due on March 25th. Weight creeping up again due to Christmas, the gloominess of January and the prolonged birthday season. Otherwise not so bad apart from the fact that I'm being eaten all up by a dragon right now.
Wealth: Middling to poor. But at least I still don't earn enough to have to pay back my student loan. And I saved some money on electricity yesterday when we had a power cut. New car is saving lots on fuel (to get to work, to earn money to buy more fuel to get to work...)
Career: I don't understand the concept.
Friends and family: Fab. Don't know what I'd do without them. The boy is generally a very happy chappy.
Romance: Non existent. Have ordered duplicate marriage certificate so I can start divorce process. Maybe once that's under way I'll try internet dating again. And maybe it'll be better than cardigan guy, the one I met at a coffee shop who didn't bring enough money for a coffee and the one who was so quietly spoken I couldn't carry on a conversation with him.
Creativity and general airy fairiness: I knit. I hug trees. I smile at daffodils. I found a tai chi class that fits in with my strange work and childcare arrangements. Occasionally I write stuff that mostly never sees the light of day. I daydream about the sea. I'm trying to decide whether to put pagan, taoist or Jedi on my census form.
Overall outlook: Life is good.

If you hadn't guessed, it's my birthday. I'm 34. Little man got me a ready-to-plant strawberry hanging basket and nasturtium bucket, via daddy.