Saturday 31 January 2009

Z prepares to Bring, Share, and be a Wallflower

It was a long cold day and I don't really feel like going out tonight. I'd rather curl up in an armchair with a book, music, glass of wine and a juicy steak. Well, you don't exactly curl up with a steak, you sit up and eat it nicely. A crackling log fire, also not with me in the armchair, would be the rest of my most desired evening. But I bought those tickets for a ceilidh, so to that we must go for the friend I bought them from would otherwise think I'd just been polite in buying them, whilst actually I was being friendly. At least, I thought, I wouldn't have to get dinner ready and there was food in the fridge for Ro to prepare his own.

During the afternoon, I got out the tickets and looked for the time it is to start. I saw those words that are the bane of the churchgoer's life. "Bring and share supper".

'Bring' - it's a good word, a giving word. 'Share' - how generous and friendly. Sometimes it means embarrassment, when you've made some hasty cheese sandwiches and bring them along to find everyone else has been spending the day cooking. Sometimes, you go to more effort and find that everyone dives happily at your home-made smoked salmon mousse and chocolate brownies, leaving you to the Tesco's Basic Pork Pie, quartered and ignored. However, if it's a friendly get-together, you don't mind, it's all part of the occasion. But when you've paid to go and you aren't going to dance as your knee is more than usually achy and the Quasimodo Lurch is not a desirable part of Strip the Willow and you're tired and hungry, the thought of being fed, preferably with a nice plate of hot chilli or shepherd's pie, or even macaroni cheese, is an appealing one. I'd have paid an extra fiver happily for it.

I trust it's a dress-down occasion. I'm not climbing out of my jeans and into more elegant clothes, not for nothing nor no one.

Friday 30 January 2009

Z is Inspired by Minimalism

I've finished the governors' link week at the high school. Although I didn't have enough time for everything and I've made an appointment for a meeting next Thursday and am doing another lesson observation next Friday. I have also, it seems, offered to do anything I can useful for French. I half-offered to learn German, to be useful there, but thank God I don't think I was taken too seriously.

The Sage has been plaintively asking me when I'll be free to do some work for him for the last three days. I've said, not in the evenings. So, Sunday at earliest. Because, tomorrow Al is busy all day (new governors' training, which lasts 8 hours) so I'll be in the shop.

Al and Dilly are out tonight at the theatre, so it's very quiet around here as Ro is babysitting. Not that he's loud, but usually the television is on or we're chatting or something. The Sage is on the phone in another room. The only sounds in here are Tilly's sleepy breathing and the crackling of a log fire. And the tapping of the keyboard, of course. I may put some music on.

Ooh, that reminds me. Year 10 music classes have been studying minimalist composers, such as Philip Glass and Steve Reichs. Others were mentioned but as I'd not heard of them I didn't remember them. I liked the piece she played for them to analyse (which was used as an exam piece - in the listening exam, it would be far too hard for GCSE students to play).

I'm thinking I may let Mahler lie for a bit and investigate Adams. I don't know much about him, except that he wrote Nixon in China, but it could be a good time for me to find out.

Thursday 29 January 2009

Z is kissed!!(!)

I made a pudding. As I told the Sage, his face lit up with happiness. He approached. I was thoroughly kissed.

I wouldn't want to be taken for granted, so he doesn't get rhubarb crumble and custard every week. Sometimes, therefore, he is obliged to kiss me anyway. But when I've made a pudding, he actually wants to.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Better than a Bat

You may remember, a few months ago, our burglar alarm being set off by a bat flying around in the dining room in the middle of the night. We never did find out how it had got in, and there were some suggestions that the Sage and I had dreamt the whole episode. Which we hadn't of course. Absolutely, surely not.

The difficulty with bats is that they are very small and almost impossible to catch, and can make themselves flat enough to hide behind pictures, furniture, any small space at all, that they fly so fast it's not easy to follow the flight with your eyes and that they have radar.

So, when the Sage came in and asked me to help chivvy a wren out of the kitchen, I did at least think we'd be able to do so.

I think a wren is my favourite bird. They are so sweet, with their little upturned tails. It's a pleasure to see them hopping around finding little insects in crevices, and they aren't that easy to spot as they are so small and such a plain brown, so it's always a treat.

It was hopping along the line of saucepans hanging against the beam against the kitchen wall. We shut the door, but there's a hatchway into the next room and (because the internet hub is in the hatchway) it is awkward to shut it quickly. So I stood with my arms raised on that side of the room while the Sage opened a window. Then we advanced on the little fellow from two directions, hoping to direct it. Of course, it made a dash over our heads towards the door. Then it flew back - I was very worried it'd land on the hot Aga - and shot out of the open window.

Poor thing had been sleeping in the front porch and followed the Sage in when he went to fetch a log for the fire. I hope it finds its way back, as that's on the other side of the house from the window it left through.

Anyway, following that small drama, I'm going to read the paper and have an early night. All this full day's work malarkey is tiring me out.

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Troubled by enthusiasm

I throw myself into things, rather. Although I was on the Finance committee at the village school, I've never been on that of the high school, but stuck with the Teaching & Learning committee and being the Special Educational Needs governor. I've done other things sometimes, but not long-term. A year and a half ago, I took on the link with Music and enjoy it so much that I've threatened a tantrum if anyone tries to take it from me. That's still all right, half a morning a week regularly and the pleasure of always going to concerts and the like.

But we were a bit short on the committee, so I said I'd take on Vocational Education and Languages. I've not been to Voc Ed yet, that's for tomorrow and Friday, but I'm getting worryingly into the languages. And today, I went to a Finance meeting for the first time, just as a guest. And I found it really interesting. I do know the terminology and what money comes in ring-fenced and for what (although you turn your back and something new happens) because of past experience which helps, but I had rather expected it to be a matter of duty rather than anything else. Fortunately, looking around, there is already a strong committee and I'm not likely to be needed. So I can just forget about it and just enjoy reading the balance sheets every so often.

Let's hope I find Voc Ed a bit dull, eh?

Monday 26 January 2009

And the worst

I really loved Murph. I love the way his scribe, Drew Peacock, writes too. One only has to consider a few of his finer aphorisms - Norfolk and Good, Far Kennel, The Dog's Blog Rocks - to know he will both entertain you and force you to consider life in an altogether new manner. Murph didn't make it home from the vet's today and has played his Last Post. Sympathy and best wishes to his family, Drew, Kath E Rine, Oz and the Lilster. Dogs matter. They never blame you when you really screw up, even if they're the ones to come off worst, and you miss them forever when they're gone,

When I met Drew, round at Dave's, we touched on the subject - theoretically, at that point of course. I have to say, although (I hasten to assure you) Tilly is fit and well, it worries me no end that one day I'll give you bad news. And you'll be upset, and so will I, and we all try to be happy bloggers...but there it is. We share the good times and the bad.

Bless you all, darlings. I do appreciate you, even those of you who read and never say a word so I don't know who you are (you're more than welcome, we're libertarians all on this blog and stand up for free non-speech).

Tomorrow, I'll tell you about the lesson I had in A level German, which was conducted in German so I didn't really get much of it, and the governor training session I took on How To Sack A Teacher. Theoretically. Tomorrow, Finance, Years 9 and 10 French and A level Music. And a PCC meeting. I lead a rich, full, life (she said ironically).

G'night all

Sunday 25 January 2009

The best news Z has had for ages

You'll have had to be reading this blog for a long time and have been interested enough to remember this, specifically, too (I think Dandelion will, because I'm sure she commented at the time) but I wrote a long time ago about a friend of mine who was in hospital, having lost a dramatic amount of weight, and who was having difficulty accepting that she suffered from an eating disorder. Well, she survived and learned to believe the truth of the situation and worked on overcoming it. Although still thin and unable to eat with other people, she gradually regained some weight and strength and returned to work. I see her every so often (her parents, whom I don't know, live locally but she doesn't) and she's looked quite well but still thin.

She is a friend as I say, but I met her through mutual friends to whom she's closer, and I knew that they had been away to a graduation ceremony last week. Today, they were excited to tell us that they had been to celebrate with Claire and her family her receipt, or is reception the correct word?, of her doctorate. Which is in Medical Statistics or something, which is a bit of a downer, but there you go. Actually, several of her friends kept a food diary for a few weeks and sent it to her to analyse (it was nearly 2 years ago, I eat rather less now than I did then), which she decided to do to help her to see how what she believed was normal eating was actually much less than everyone else ate. This was advised at the specialist eating disorder clinic in Norfolk, which I'm sure saved her life.

So, we were terribly pleased to hear about her academic success. But what pleased us more was the picture of her in her gown. She is now plumper in the face than I've ever seen her. She looked healthy and happy and pretty and I really think that she may have started her life all over again. Isn't it wonderful?

They went out for lunch afterwards to a vegetarian restaurant (she has been vegetarian for years and the start of her problem was when she became almost unable to eat any living food, and had to live, pretty well, on fruit) and she ate cheerfully and normally. She and some friends have formed a veggie dining club and they try out all the vegetarian restaurants in the area, eating together once a week. As so often, friendship has helped her to work through her problems, but the real achievement is her own.

Saturday 24 January 2009

Z isn't born to be a knitter

I've knitted a yard of scarf and now all I have to do is find out how to cast off. It's all right, I have a Library Book and can look it up. However, I also have a ball of wool left and am contemplating making a hat to go with the scarf to keep me from getting frostbite on my ears when I'm cycling. The recipe I looked up on the internet says it'll be very easy but I need circular needles. Oh. And there seem to be a lot of techniques.

Techniques: (I quote)
- casting on
- the knit stitch
- the purl stitch
- stockinette stitch (alternating knit one row, purl one row - but when knitting in the round, knit all rounds)
- 2 x 2 ribbing (*knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches* repeated across entire row/round)
- knitting in the round (using circular needles and double-pointed needles to create a round piece of knitting)
- decreasing (knitting 2 stitches together to make knitted piece smaller)
- seaming
- weaving in ends

Maybe I need an easier recipe.

Actually, having read several sets of instructions, I feel depressed and timorous and I think I'll just make my scarf longer, which has the added advantage of giving me a few more days before I have to learn to cast off.

Friday 23 January 2009

Z is a bit too busy to visit blogs and apologises

I feel a bit harassed, which is good practice for next week. I'll be busy every day and all day, which is most unusual. I don't think there will be time for a single leisurely lunch or afternoon nap. You can see how aggrieved, in advance, I am.

Still, I have various meetings and lesson observations planned and a whole day in Learning Support, as well as my first (in this school) Finance meeting, so I hope I will have a wonderfully jolly time.

This afternoon, I visited Weeza and Zerlina. They were to have come over here, but Weeza has a cold and Dilly isn't better, so it was decided not to mix germs (except possibly via me). Zerlina's first teeth are not through but are visible through the gums and she can roll over from back to front. She greeted me with big grins and open-mouthed kisses.

Tomorrow, the Opening of the New Parish Office. Then, out for dinner in the evening. I am vastly cheered at the thought. The diet is suspended for the weekend.

Thursday 22 January 2009

Poor Dilly

Dilly isn't very well. She has got one of the stomach bugs going around, not to any spectacular extent but she feels generally miserable and has stomach ache and if she tries to eat it gets substantially worse, so she's not eating at all. So she didn't go to work today. I took Squiffany to nursery school and then entertained Pugsley for the day, which was planned anyway. He went trouser and pant less for the day, as he is fine at using a potty as long as he isn't wearing anything, but if he is, he forgets it isn't a nappy and there is the risk of a Little Accident. Anyway, all went well and he ate a substantial lunch of salmon, pasta and cheese sauce. Cucumber and lettuce were served which he likes in theory but rarely actually eats. He did have half a banana and some orange juice though.

In the afternoon, Dilly got up and cuddled Pugsley on the sofa, and I went to fetch Squiffany. We went and bought some biscuits and crisps. Dilly needed to sleep again, so I suggested the children took food into their bedroom. Squiffany, who is a practical and cheerful little girl, started to spread out a crocheted blanket on the bedroom floor. "We can have a picnic, it'll be more fun!" she explained. We turned on the radio, spread out the food and put out cushions to sit on. I had to go to a meeting, but they said they'd play quietly.

My meeting, well, can't really say anything (this confidentiality nonsense) but I must say that all of us there, of whom I was by far the least important (this is not modesty at all, but simple truth, if only in this instance *ahem*) wouldn't get very far if we left it to the people whose job it is to help, but who merely get in the way. There are doers and there are pen-pushers.

I made a lovely fish pie for dinner. Dexter is on later. I shall do some knitting in the meantime.

Oh, by the way, I'm finding Mahler a bit dull, to my surprise. Shostakovich is going well, however. I haven't tried to learn a poem yet and I haven't done anything new or met any bloggers. But it's still January and I've the whole year, after all.

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Z cheers up no end

It will give you some idea of my social life when I tell you that, having just been invited round to lovely friends for dinner on Saturday night, I've put it in my diary with 2 exclamation marks.

I don't get out much.

I mean, this evening will be very nice but it's a bit of a duty thing, and it's not the same as sitting round a cheery table relaxedly chatting with a few close friends, and we don't do half enough of that and haven't for years. We used to. It's a long but simple story.

Z prepares for Christmas Dinner

I got up late today. When I came downstairs the Sage was in the kitchen grinning. "You couldn't bear to get out of bed, could you?" It was true. I was very comfortable.

Tonight, we're going out the local Classic Car Club Christmas dinner. It's late rather than early; that is, the Christmas in question was last year's. Everyone is very charming but I don't know anyone very well, although the Sage does, so I have to put on my best face and be prepared to make a big effort to entertain and be charmed.

The Sage only remembered last night that he'd put our names down and rang to find out which evening it would be on. "Tomorrow night, oh right, that's fine. "Z, you're free tomorrow night aren't you?"

I told Ro and he said that'd be fine, he'd find himself something to eat. "As long as there are eggs or something." I got in plenty of fruit and veg and left it at that, but the Sage went out too. "I've got you a nice gammon steak," he told his son. "I thought you'd want something a bit more substantial." I don't think he's quite caught on yet that Ro isn't still a permanently-hungry teenager.

I put chicken bones and veggies in a pan with water to make stock this afternoon and then went out for tea with a friend, leaving it for the Sage to remove from the bottom oven at a given time. "Doesn't matter if you're a few minutes late," I said helpfully. Just now, I asked "did you take that pan of stock out of the oven?" Of course, he'd forgotten. "Will you take that pan of stock out of the oven?" I asked pointedly. It's only three hours late.

My friend has been looking after her m-i-l since she fell downstairs three months ago. M-i-l has finally come to the conclusion that she won't be able to look after herself in her two-storeyed home 300 miles away and must sell it and move this way. It's a brave decision to make, and certainly the right one, but it's all going to take some time to sort out. Looks as if my friend won't be able to take her governor reins again for a while. I spent some time giving her a lot of encouragement and sympathy - she loves the old lady and doesn't begrudge the time taken in looking after her, but it's a strain and she mustn't feel guilty about acknowledging that. At least M-i-l has reached the necessary decision herself and hasn't had to be told it, which takes independence away from her in a way that voluntarily moving into sheltered accommodation doesn't.

Tuesday 20 January 2009

Some Zs have all the luck (but hope others do too)

On this optimistic day, not only in America but across much of the world, LOM has found a quiz that seems to be appropriate. And I wasn't surprised to discover that I am a very lucky person

You Are 89% Thankful

You're an incredibly thankful person, and everyone around you feels very appreciated.

You inspire people to be more optimistic, forgiving, and grateful.

As far as I'm concerned that's true and I hope you do feel appreciated. I don't aspire to inspire however, that would be a bit presumptuous.

Oh, I got a brief but spontaneous outburst of applause (from about three people) this morning. Welcoming the audience to the first lecture of this year, I hoped that they were well and, if they'd had any of the illnesses going round over the past few weeks, they had made a quick recovery. "I've been lucky and not been ill at all," I added. "I put great faith in the antiseptic effect of good red wine." So, it seems, do some of the gentlemen in the audience.

Monday 19 January 2009

And so does Z

i was tempted by the recommendation of Dandelion's sister to look at this site. Blimey darlings, it's gorgeous. I bought a feather and down mattress topper, a duvet cover and some pillowcases for a song. A song, I tell you. Especially when you consider their quality. When I was pregnant with Al, I had awful backache and was only comfortable lying back in a full bath of warm water, something you can only do for half an hour or so a day, and I didn't get much sleep until I put an old eiderdown underneath the sheet. That completely eased my back at night. Now, sometimes I can't lie on either side for the ache in my hips and I hope this might similarly help. It's like a thick dense duvet - you wouldn't want to sleep under it unless you'd washed your duvet late at night and there wasn't time to dry it - and I've plumped it up and put it on the bed. The paper with it explains that, having been compressed for packing, it'll take a couple of days to airify again completely, but I can't wait and it'll have to do that on the bed.

Then the Sage helped me put on the silky-smooth pure cotton duvet cover and pillowcases. He's surprisingly bad at this and takes rather a long time, but I don't mind.

I want to go to bed right now. I resisted lying down, as I wouldn't want to spoil that first happy moment when I go to bed tonight. I don't think I'll have my usual late night tonight.

But I have got a governor training session tonight. Personnel matters. Isn't that interesting? I am going to pick up another governor on the way and have Company.

Oh, the other thing that happened today is that our water softener has been mended. It filled with water and dissolved all the salt in 24 hours, to our puzzlement. Apparently, the brine valve had broken. The water pressure in this area is high and it is under constant stress. It only took a few minutes to replace - if it goes again in another 12 years we can just get them to post us a replacement and the Sage asked how much we owed. "Don't pay me, you'll get a bill in a week or so," said the helpful chappie. "It's a family firm and they prefer to do things the old way." The Sage was awfully gratified, trusted twice in two days. It used to be that his cheque book would take him anywhere. Now, he often has to take me shopping as I'm the one with the credit card. He still refuses to have either a credit or debit card.

To ensure that his happiness is complete, I have prepared dinner for him, although he has to cook it. Fillets of fish, cauliflower with a cheese sauce, sweet potato, shallots and garlic to roast in olive oil.

And tonight, we'll lie together with blissful smiles on our little faces, feeling all comfortable and snug.

Sunday 18 January 2009

The Sage has fun

Well, the Sage is happy. He got his eBay purchase for a lot less than his bid. He did his usual thing. "I'd just like to see what it goes for, I'm not bidding."

"Hang on, I've just remembered something. Is this (produces item) the same pattern?" I confirm that it is. "Well, it would make a pair, wouldn't it?"

We debate prices. I suggest a figure. He agrees. Then he mentions another figure. We decide to put in a lower amount, just to tickle up bidders (we don't necessarily do this, we use different tactics depending on our level of interest and how flirtatious we're feeling).

Ten minutes to go and we're outbid. We bide our time. The Sage has decided on a price.

Not long to go. I say I should bid now. The Sage suddenly ups his bid. I enter it and spend the next moments pressing 'refresh'.

He buys the item for slightly less than the price I'd suggested in the first place. The Sage is so happy that he deliberately runs up the price of another item from the same sellers, just to make sure they get a good price. Now he's on the phone to them, for we've bought from them before.

If he had a tail, he'd be wagging it.

Oh, and the vendor is pleased to know the Sage has bought the piece. "It's gone to a good home, then. No, I won't charge you anything for postage. I know I can trust your cheque, I'll put it in the post tomorrow."

Made his day. I expect I'll be brought a nice glass of whisky later, and a cup of coffee.

Saturday 17 January 2009

Z comes to the point

A number of the governors, who are able to come in during the day and talk to teachers, observe lessons and suchlike, are affiliated with various subjects or areas on the curriculum. I've been Special Educational Needs governors for a long time and, after working with various other subjects, have now declared I will be removed from music only with a crow bar as I love the department and enjoy the lessons at all levels. However, we didn't have enough available governors to take on all areas so I now have added Vocational Education which, as the less academic pupils often move towards, ties nicely with the learning support area I am already involved with. I've also taken on MFL. Languages to most of us. In this school French and German are taught and I don't know a word of German, which puts me at a bit of a disadvantage at the start. However, there we go, I don't have to actually speak German to see how its taught.

Anyway, the Head said to me yesterday that he thinks I'll be good for the department, which always feels itself a bit of a poor relation in the school, because the exam results tend to not be as good as some others. However, when you compare it with other schools, actually it comes out pretty well. In this country, and in this area of the country, foreign languages are not very high priority and since the government decided to drop them from the national curriculum - that is, all pupils were expected to take a foreign language at GCSE if they had the academic ability until a few years ago (once this requirement was dropped, they were awfully disappointed to find that take-up dropped and didn't seem to have expected it) - they've diminished further.

I asked why he thought I'd be so suitable, and he said because I ask direct questions and expect full answers. I was surprised, because I didn't know how he knew. Later, it occurred to me.

I interviewed him for his job. Hah.

Friday 16 January 2009

Z combines Middle Age with Eternal Adolescence

It's been a quiet evening. Ro went into town to catch up with some mates and the Sage decided to have an early night. I've been sitting here since 10 o'clock knittting, reading and listening to music (Mahler, The Hold Steady and The Old 97's, if you're interested). Tilly is asleep on the sofa and all is tranquil. Well, except for the music.

So, why didn't I have an early night too? I suppose because I've never quite grown up. Going to bed early still feels like giving in.

Z doesn't have a good start to the day

So, and the Sage doesn't know it yet because he's out, I've had an email from my new tenant wanting to terminate the contract. For goodness sake, I spent well over £2000 on agents' fees and getting the place ready and he's only been there 3 1/2 months. I'll have to look up the contract. It's for a year but I can't remember if there's a 6 month break clause. He has to give 2 months notice at any rate.

In other news, it's raining. I'm going to spend most of the day in school as there's a double music lesson followed by an afternoon of meetings, so I'll have lunch there too. I was going to cycle in, not having been on my bike for more than a few hundred yards all week, but not when I need to look tidy and it's raining. I can't pretend to be altogether sorry for the excuse, although if I go out and find the rain has stopped I will get on the bike. I don't really give myself excuses. I'm extremely lazy and only too ready to take them.

Thursday 15 January 2009

Z lunches

You know the Wallace and Grommit film where they were speeding along in a model train and Grommit was laying track just before they went over it? It's like that at the moment and it's not the best use of time. For example, this morning I had to take three sheets of information to each of 40 people, plus a different three to two others. I also had to do address labels, because there would only be about 2/3 of the people at the lunch (I'm aware that it couldn't be exactly 2/3) so I need to know who to post the others.

Now, a sensible woman would have done it a few days ago so that I could get the sheets photocopied. I am sensible, but I'm busy, so I had to print them out myself. My having-been-turned-upside-down-and-shaken printer is working but still occasionally sticks, so I had to keep unjamming it, and when you've got whole lots of printing to do it's remarkable how long it bloody takes. In the end, I rang the friends whom I was picking up and said I'd be late, and even then I left here at the revised time for getting to them. Amazingly, we were only ten minutes late at the lunch venue, that is, 12.10 for a 12-for-2.45 lunch. Which doesn't even count as late.

But if I was able to work ahead rather than only just in time, I'd have had it sorted and not aged another year in a morning. Maybe next week I'll catch up.

I haven't reported back yet on the new dishwasher. Nothing to say really, it's great. We'd gradually become used to one that wasn't working so well and having to check to make sure that dishes were acceptably clean. If not, a sigh and some washing up done, or else fill with water and leave to soak for a bit before having a second go. On the first evening, I stroked my coffee mug happily, saying to Ro how lovely and smooth and shiny it was. "You mean, clean," he pointed out.

Oh, and I love the new saucepans. All stainless steel and shiny. I think I've already mentioned the thick bottoms.

This morning, I made porridge and put the kettle on and got out a mug for tea. I caught myself about to pour porridge into the mug. Sighing deeply, I fetched a bowl, put it down, reflected on how dopey I am and then found I was pouring porridge into the mug anyway.

Oh, at the meeting last night I bought tickets to a ceilidh in a couple of weeks time. Oh go on, it'll be fun. Or so I've assured the Sage. Who should believe me, both my children had a ceilidh band at their wedding, it being the sort of dancing that everyone can do, whatever their age or ability. I'm not sure about those with dicky hips, but what the hell?

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Z in the Driving Seat, except when she was Minding the Baby

I'm so glad that Tokyo Girl (now in Australia) is blogging again after a long gap. Things are not easy for her since her dismal diagnosis with MS but she is a tough young woman and her wit and personality are intact.

Today, Weeza, Zerlina and I drove to Islington. We bled radiators, found out (expensively) that the timer doesn't work on a boiler but the boiler itself does, had a drink and a very excellent cheese sandwich - no really, I don't usually eat much white bread but was tempted by the word 'crusty' and so it was, and high quality - the drink was fine too, being Adnams' best bitter. The landlord kindly bought us our drinks, which cost, with his own half pint (as were ours) nearly as much as the sandwiches - bless the man, he lost money on us today.

Oh, and Pete Postlethwaite was having a drink there too, unobtrusively in the corner.

It was foggy on the M11. It was still foggy when we drove back. Apparently, it was foggy in Norwich all day. It was sunny in Maesrae and in Islington, which is Notgnilsi backwards which is a bit tricky to write or pronounce.

So, nothing else done but drive there, through Bethnal Green and such fine places, and faff around - it was the first time I'd been there since the new tenant moved in, which was interesting, but it wouldn't be right for me to mention the decor, nor that of the downstairs tenant, though his is exceptionally lovely - have a drink and a sandwich, see the plumber, drive home and go to a churchwardens' meeting.

Zerlina was charming throughout and smiled at the barmaids and the cook, who cuddled her. She is a fine baby and her mother richly deserves her.

Tomorrow, I'm going to be a Lady Who Lunches.

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Athletic? Hah. In no sense am I athletic

Cheers, LOM

What Your Taste in Music Says About You

Your musical tastes are intense and rebellious.

You are intelligent... but in a very unconventional way.

You are curious about the world. You love doing something new.

In fact, you enjoy taking risks and doing things most people would shy away from.

You are very physical. It's likely that you're athletic, but not into team sports.

You have the soul of an artist. Beauty and harmony are important to you.

I wouldn't willingly go to any of those concerts, mind you. And I'm conventional, but not because I have to conform

Z goes to skool

Oh blimey, it's all getting too busy. I'm just keeping the plates spinning, but some of them have wobbled alarmingly once or twice and I'm having to grovel a bit because I'm not giving people as much notice of things as I'd like.

Today, I spent the first part of the morning liaising with people for a meeting on Friday, including one person who should have been included from the start but wasn't - fortunately, he's free to come to it. Then I went off for another meeting, with Dilly. I have to write up the notes for that. Then I started off to the school to get some printing done which I thought had already been done, remembered on the way that I had a hair appointment, was just in time for that, went to the school, remembered another person I should have told about the meeting as she will book the room, saw her and she did it (bless her) and came home for lunch at 2 o'clock.

Oh, as I was coming out of a side door of the school I was accosted by a charming silver-haired man who asked me where the main door was, as he'd come to pick up his grandson who was ill. I started to lead him there, but he assured me he could manage, so I pointed it out and got in my car. As I drove away, I saw him walk past the door and carry on down the path the wrong way. I drove to the other end of the path, headed him off and took him to the office, chatting in my best PAish sort of manner. I introduced him to the office staff and turned to go, he thanked me and I was quite surprised to be warmly kissed on the cheek. Isn't that nice?

Anyway, I scrambled eggs, took a lovely shiny plate from the dishwasher (I'd become accustomed to having to check everything carefully in case it hadn't been washed properly) and brought lunch in. I ate it and read a couple of blogs. Yes, I eat in front of the computer. I know, you wouldn't think it to look at me, would you?

The phone rang and the Sage picked up. "Oh, she went out, I'm not sure if she's back yet," he said. I wondered why someone was ringing here for Dilly. "She went to the High School, maybe you'll find her around" he carried on. "Hang on, I'm here!" said I. It was a school staff member, needing to arrange another meeting. She and I giggled about the Sage's inattention - he and I had had a conversation while I was cooking my lunch and he was sitting in a chair 3 or 4 yards from me and right opposite.

Anyway, the Sage, for he's a darling really, has taken my car to fill it with petrol and check the tyres ready for my drive to the Big City, or at least the N1 part of it, tomorrow.

Monday 12 January 2009

Resolutions won't keep themselves

The Sage, as you probably know by now, is a pensioner. He refuses to have his state pension paid into the bank as he likes to feel the crisp notes in his hand, having paid for them many times over through the years. He fetches it every fortnight so that there's a decent amount to share - he's a fair man and he splits it with me. Today he came in clutching a larger bundle than usual.

"I was given an extra £50" he said. "What for?" "I don't know." "Maybe Gordon wants you to like him so you'll vote for him?" "Hmm". Anyway, I've an extra £25 to play with. Whoopee!

Today, I was hurrying around getting ready to go out when I realised I had to print out a sheet of names. The paper went in askew and jammed, so I took it out, straightened the rest, tried again, it did the same. I fed in a single sheet and it printed, so I grabbed the paper and left. Later, I had more printing to do. It said there was paper blocking it, but nothing I could see. I peered into the machine, using a torch. I swore, I grumbled, what more can a woman do? Well, turn it upside down and shake. Nothing fell out, but it's worked since then.

I've bought some music (well, sent for it), in line with my Resolutions. Gordie suggested Satie, some of whose music I have, or Part, whose I haven't, and Ad suggested Tallis. They have all been mentally marked and thank you, but on this occasion I have randomly picked Mahler and Shostakovich, as I'm woefully ignorant of much of their music and that's a rather large gap. It's a bit shaming that the only Mahler I know is the background music to Death in Venice and that I've only been to one Shostakovich concert, where I learned that at one time, unpopular with the Soviet authorities, he used to wait on the landing outside his flat every night so that, if he was arrested as he was sure he would be, his children would not be frightened.

The scarf is half the length it will be. And as for poetry, I think I'll start with something shortish.

This, for instance?
The Long-Nosed Fair

Once on a time I fair Dorinda kiss'd,
Whose nose was too distinguish'd to be miss'd;
My dear, says I, I fain would kiss you closer,
But tho' your lips say aye--your nose says, no, Sir.--
The maid was equally to fun inclin'd,
And plac'd her lovely lily-hand behind;
Here, swain, she cry'd, may'st thou securely kiss,
Where there's no nose to interrupt thy bliss.

Sunday 11 January 2009

Sun day

It was the most beautiful sunrise this morning, and if only I hadn't been running a few minutes late I'd have gone back for my camera and now I'd be able to show it to you. Sorry. Someone had a picture - I think it was Simon. Hang on, I'll look. Yep, here it is. If anything, it was even more spectacular than that at the time I looked and it spread all over the eastern sky.

Weeza and I are going to London on Wednesday. This is not a jaunt, but apparently my tenant's central heating isn't working, although the boiler is. Weeza thinks it's probably something simple that she can fix, so we're driving up. It'll be quicker and far cheaper than going by train at the time we need to. Isn't that daft? We should get there by 11, hope to do the job quickly and wait to make sure it's put things right. If not, I'll then have to find a plumber and make arrangements for him to get hold of a key. It's not that easy to get hold of the tenant as he emails, then doesn't reply to the answering email. He's abroad a lot on business so it's not a disaster for him that the heating's been off in the cold snap. I'll check the downstairs heating system at the same time. I've a meeting in the evening, so we'll have lunch and get back immediately after, before the traffic builds up. Zerlina will be with us of course.

They cooked us a lovely lunch today, roast pork (mm, crackling), roast potatoes, parsnip, leeks, red cabbage. My foot still tingles but, although different, it's no worse than other bits that hurt and I'm used to ignoring that. It's been much less cold and very sunny. I haven't been out this evening to see if it's getting frosty and I think I'll let it be a surprise in the morning.

Saturday 10 January 2009

Z has Cold Feet

My stint as a shopkeeper is over and I even did the week's accounts, counted the money and took it next door in a stout cloth bag.

Mind you, today was the coldest yet. I woke up before the radio alarm came on feeling warm, so I assumed the temperature had gone up during the night. I woke the Sage for a cuddle, as I'd been asleep before he got into bed the night before and then got up, dressed, gave Tilly her breakfast and prepared mine, took it through to eat while I was reading emails, put in my contact lens and was putting on my brave morning face out of various little pots when I glanced out of the window. I was surprised at the beauty of the frosty tree outside. Everything was white and I'd spent half an hour not noticing.

It wasn't until I went out that I noticed it had been snowing and there was a hard frost.

The sun came out later, but the temperature didn't rise to freezing point and as the morning went on it became more windy and icier. I let Alice have one of the hot water bottles. She hugged it gratefully.

When the Sage came to pick me up, he came with me to the church to set things up for tomorrow's service at 8am. I have to be there at 7.30 to finish getting ready.

Later, after I'd done my slow and careful adding up, we went through for dinner, which was lasagne and salad, then fruit pie and custard.

I'm going to bed early.

Oh, and I think I've got chilblains. I'm not quite sure, as I've never had them before, and when I'm undressed I always have my contact lens out so my toes are rather a long way away to see. But it feels like the description of chilblains.

Friday 9 January 2009

Z is Fine, you hear?

They're all safely home and had a good time. We have been invited in for tea tomorrow, as well as to lunch with Weeza and Phil on Sunday. Woo-hoo indeed. Splendid.

Did I mention that Al accepted my offer to go into the shop tomorrow? That's fine, I'm more than willing of course.

Mind you, I had brought home my hottie.

Still got the order to phone through tonight. I'm flagging a bit, but only temporarily, I suppose a fourth glass of wine would be a bad idea. Whisky? Okay, I'll make coffee.

A busy day today - the money in the till didn't seem to say that, but I think it will once I've allowed for Tim's wages. He and I look after each other. He takes all heavy things away from me and I get us both cups of soup (carrot and coriander today) from the bakery. They make it first thing and let it cook in slow cookers all morning for lunch customers.

I'm a bit dozy tonight, as I haven't been sleeping much. I woke this morning thinking it was Sunday and I had to be in church by 7.30. Thank goodness I realised in time. I would have been distinctly fed up if I'd buggered down the road and waited for a congregation. I'd already startled the Sage and myself by turning the light on because I woke thinking (sorry, this is a bit awful and I can't remember the dream that set it off) that I could see blood pouring all over the radio, I think I get a bit carried away sometime.

I'm fine. What? No, I'm fine.

Thursday 8 January 2009

Z rambles, with brain disengaged

I had to drive in today, as I had Meals on Wheels to deliver at 11.45. There was a ground frost, but no air frost. However, as the day went on it felt colder and colder. I was chilly through a wool polo-neck, a wool jacket and a padded anorak. I wore thick tights under my trousers, so looked thick and clumsy and I didn't care. I also had a scarf wound twice round my neck.

Tim and I were not busy. We looked out at the market stall and were cheered to see no queue. They weren't doing any better than we were. Matt the fishmonger looked glum and had his scarf pulled up over his nose - I think working among fruit and veg is hard, but he's surrounded by ice and can't even wear fingerless gloves. I went and bought fish, including smoked eel - YAY - one of my remembrances of childhood, when we had Dutch au pairs who brought back that and other delicacies. I was only 5 when I first tasted it - who needs a madeleine?

I bought, from the chemist, a new hot water bottle for Al. I bought lamb chops and bacon from the butcher. Tim made coffee. I didn't remind him that I drink coffee black, as I quite felt like the added richness and sustenance of milk.

I delivered Meals on Wheels. One customer is failing in health and I don't think he'll cope alone, although he has good family support, for much longer. There were two new customers who have been friends for years, and it was lovely to see them. I noticed that my front nearside tyre (the car's tyre, darlings, I'm speaking colloquially) was only half inflated. I drove slowly.

When Tim left, I filled my hot water bottle. Not long afterwards, I filled Al's new one too. It felt very cold. The foggy air wafted in through the open door into the unheated shop. I ate my ham and salad roll and drank a cup of spiced tea. I wondered why I had resisted any impulse (it was only a thought really) to buy a cake, as if one had been there i would have eaten it. I ate a pear, having cut out a bad spot, instead. I refilled the hotties. I knitted a few rows. Having remembered to bring the second ball of wool, I reflected that it would have been a good idea if I'd looked out how to join two balls of wool together.

The afternoon became quite busy, better than the morning. I did have time to put up most of a big order for first thing tomorrow. I limped heavily as I brought everything indoors. My hip is as bad as when I went to the doctor last October. It's the weather. Sod the bloody hip, I am not ready to be evaluated and x-rayed (should it be an X, BW?) I will, at any rate, have lost weight after this week and be well on towards my doctor-imposed target. My trousers, size 12, hang on me. Hang on me, darlings. I have to cinch them in with a belt and they are still too long and flap around my thighs. Back to smaller jeans tomorrow.

When I'd driven home, I cycled down to the church to check things out. The outer, mesh, porch door was opened. The next door, centuries-old oak, was fastened open. The inner door was closed. I took my bike light in with me, instead of going in in the dark, but there was nothing unexpected there. My note had gone, but the Fellow had been in to remove the Christmas tree so maybe he'd done that. I checked that the brass candlesticks I've lent were still there and they were. I came home, where the Sage had made me a cup of Rose Poopong tean.

Lamb chop for dinner. A Barnsley chop, with baked potato, curly kale, swede and (imported) courgette. My back aches, but I'm sitting up straight and I'll lie on the floor for a bit. Darling Sage, having been to the dentist and the accountant (my income is bigger than the Sage's right now, who'd've thunk it?) took my car to have the tyre pumped up. When I left the shop, it was half-way down again. Darling Sage will get it dealt with tomorrow. I have kissed him and been adorable. He was awfully pleased.

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Warm hands, warm heart and some possible news on the Intruder

I went out of the house at 8.15 this morning, a bit later than I'd meant, but still in time, with my car keys in my hand. I had seen the heavy frost from the window and thought bbbbbbrrrrrrrrrrrr (actually, I forgot to move my finger and the shiver wasn't as awful as that) and decided to drive. Howsomever, when I got outside I thought it wasn't that cold and I got out my bike after all.

At about 10.30, I left Tim in charge and toddled off to the library, where I renewed my books, borrowed a new one about knitting and was on my way back, intending to make tracks towards a coffee shop, when I met a friend. She's another fellow churchwarden, but of another church in the benefice, so rather than a Fellow I'll call her a Bellow, although she is quietly spoken. Anyhoo, she invited me home for coffee, so I said 'What Ho!' and followed her.

And light may have been shown. Because, after general chit-chat and all, I told her and her husband, in confidence (which she merits completely - yeah, yeah, I know I've talked about this all on the interwebnet, but I can delete it you know, unless you use a feedreader or know what you're doing, in which case I'm a bit fucked - about the mysterious turner-on of the church heating. And she wondered if it was *'Imself*. I didn't know whom she meant (grammar) but when she described the man, who is always about on his bike, I did know. She has had occasion to wonder if he sleeps in her church. Things are slightly different from how she leaves them. She knows he's in a lot during the day, and it doesn't matter how early one visits in the morning, he bobs up from somewhere. The heating controls have sometimes been changed (access has been denied there now).

I had rather changed my mind from it being a vagrant when it had occurred to me that money left in the collection bowl had not been taken. I'm not at all sure that it's the same person in our church, but I think it could well be a village person who thinks of the village church as part of his 'territory' and therefore his to sleep in if he wants. Imself has a home of his own and sufficient income to keep himself, but he's eccentric. There are plenty of people like that around. An old lady called Vira L. used to live in this village and often would sleep in my in-law's big wheelbarrow (which we were lucky enough to inherit, I put up a picture of it once. I might look it out), which she lined with leaves. She often left a banana skin as a calling card. Imself, or someone like him, can cope with life as long as he's left alone, but he needs a lot of tolerance. This suggestion gells better with me than someone who is a true vagrant and homeless person. I can't help feeling that the latter would leave possessions or something rather than carry everything around all day, giving a clue that someone had been there.

Anyway, after that, I went into the bakery for my lunchtime ham and salad roll in granary bread and was also tempted by their home-made soup. I bought a cupful each for me and Tim and took it back to the shop and we ate/drank it nummily between customers. After Tim left, I heated a kettleful of water and filled the hot water bottle I'd providently taken in. The thought had occurred to me yesterday, and was reinforced by Dandelion's praise of her HWB, which reminded me to put mine in my bag. It was wonderful. I warmed my hands and knees, them tucked it between my knees, inside my coat against my chest, then between my feet, then, slipping my shoes off, under my feet. When I served a customer, I put it on my stool so that I could sit back down on a lovely warm stool. I giggled with happiness.

Tomorrow, I will have to drive in as I have to deliver Meals on Wheels at the end of the morning, and the Sage has the Annual Appointment with the Accountant. Fortunately, he will deal with my stuff as well as his.

Oh, and when I have a minute, I'll go to the hot water bottle shop (would you think it would be the ironmonger or the haberdashery?) and buy one for Al. Because I think it would Transform his Life. I filled it three times during the afternoon, and a customer was tempted to steal it. His mother had to fight him for it.

Tuesday 6 January 2009

Darlings, do I a favour

If you love me, please pop over to Julie and wish her a happy birthday. She just writes, she doesn't look for new readers, but she's a gorgeous person who writes wonderfully and, most vitally of all, introduced me to Okkervil River (yes, Dandelion, I do call them Overkill River because you are witty) and the Old 97's. Oh, and Centromatic. And The Hold Steady. Et al, as they say in Dave's neck of the woods. She knows a good beer and she shares her pond with beavers. And her house with rats, unfortunately, but even that is funny . Anyways, it's her birthday. 'Av (as they say) agudun, dear heart.

Monday 5 January 2009

The Good Samaritan didn't actually help the thief, you know

Right, thanks for your concern, and I love that you're concerned mostly for the intruder. I am too.

First, our insurers, who specialise in church insurance, know that the church is unlocked night and day. We pay extra for it, but not extortionately - about 10% over a £2,000 (total cover) premium. You can get 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%, and it can be for a locked church, an 'open during the day and locked overnight' church or unlocked (if you'll excuse the expression) 24/7. We've gone for the full monty. When our tables were stolen from our unlocked church room, they paid out without question, even though it would have been not unreasonable for them to quibble. They didn't request that we locked the room either, though that would have been entirely reasonable.

Fire is a real anxiety in a church. There's a lot of wood; the pews, the roof timbers, quite apart from a rood screen, a reredos, the pulpit and lectern, any soft furnishings which might be used to start a fire. If a fire started, by arson or an electrical fault, it might go for hours before being seen. The walls themselves might survive but immense damage will have been done and ancient churches are listed at the highest level. Repairs would have to be done by specialists to the original specifications and the whole restoration would be a huge job. The stone walls would still stand, but they would be filthy and cracked, and do you remember the fires at York Minster and Windsor Castle? Restoration is an immense task.

It cost us £2,220 to heat and light the church and church rooms last year. We're not granted money, our regular congregation plus a trust fund (we're lucky there) paid for that, the insurance, the annual quota to the diocese that pays for our rector, the rectory and to fund the rector's retirement, as well as contribute to the cathedral's expenses. Et cetera. I have the accounts before me; we spent £41,000 in total last year (including donations to charity in this country and abroad) and there was a shortfall, we had to dip into our reserves. Please don't suggest that I'm unsympathetic to a homeless person, but heating that's normally on for 5 hours a week to be, without my knowledge (it's my responsibility as churchwarden) or permission, turned on every night for a total of anything from 50 to 100 hours a week can not be ignored. If someone came into your garden and drained the heating oil out of your tank, you'd call it theft. If someone tapped into your electricity supply and used ten times more than you did, but it went on your bill, you'd say he'd stolen it. As I said before, if he has worked out how to get into the extension where the heating controls are kept, he could go into another room which is heated to an acceptable overnight level (we don't want pipes to freeze and it's used several times a week) and we'd not know. If I wondered, I'd choose not to know.

Having said that, if I'd gone down tonight, as I did with the Fellow, and found a homeless person, I don't believe you'd think we'd have turned him away. I'd have explained, offered him the church room for the night, taken him breakfast in the morning and then spent as much time as was needed in helping him. There are shelters for the homeless in Lowestoft and Norwich - I'd take him there, but a local man might not want to go. There is a village charity that could give money. The Fellow and I went along just before 7 pm, and no one was there. I have turned off the boiler in the boiler house and he can't turn it on again. However, as we are both very concerned to think that someone might be cold tonight, I have left a note with my phone number. If he rings, I'll do all I possibly can to help, short of letting him into my home. I don't trust him, he's a thief. The Good Samaritan helped a traveller who had fallen among thieves.

Oh, and Dave (the Fellow) and I had a chat. "Do we need to spread this around?" I said. "Well, who needs to know?" he replied. "If people knew, they would get worried and want to lock the church." "I wouldn't want to turn anyone away."

So please, darlings, don't spread it around, because we are praying for this man (a woman would be better placed to receive help). He'll get help if he is able to stretch out his finger. I sort of don't expect to know how this ends.

Z may have to Accost an Intruder

I think we may have a lodger at the church. It occurred to me, after I'd written yesterday's post, that I might - incredible as it seems - be an awful idiot and, while thinking I'd set Saturday night's heating at 7pm-7pm (that is, not to come on at all) I might have put it to 7pm-7am, without noticing. So I went to check. I'd turned it to 'off' rather than 'timer' yesterday, so I knew it wouldn't have been on even if I'd been really silly.

But it had. I could feel the warmth as soon as I walked in, although it snowed last night and has been very cold all day. I touched the pipes and they were warm. Now, the thing is, the matter of the door being unlocked could have been a red herring. There's someone who goes in the church on a Friday or Saturday evening, no doubt for a quite legitimate purpose, who has access to the keys but who leaves the big doors unlocked. I haven't been able to find out who. But, and keep this under your hats please, there is a way of circumventing the lock and opening the door anyway (there won't be for much longer or I wouldn't write it down at all) and so it's quite possible that the person leaving the door unlocked and the person turning the boiler on are not one and the same. The only reason I can see for having the heating on overnight regularly is to warm the church to sleep in.

Yes, I've told the Fellow (or rather, as he's at work, his wife). And I've told the Sage. And I will go down tonight and check it out, but not on my own. I'm not timorous but I'm not incautious either. Actually, I suspect the Fellow will insist on going - though I've asked his wife that he should not go alone either.

And you know, I feel quite annoyed. I'm sorry if someone needs a place to sleep and has to go in the church and not unsympathetic to their situation. But spending a lot of someone else's money to heat a large building in that way is not on. If the person really needs shelter, there is a warm (storage heated) and carpeted room that he or she could use and I'd probably not even have found out. It is a matter of some importance to us that we give out the message that the church is open day and night and everyone, whether Christian or not, is welcome there. That importance leads us to accept the risk of vandalism or, indeed, the use of the place as a doss-house. But there's a limit, you know, and theft goes beyond it.

Sunday 4 January 2009

Z is hot under the choler

I went down to the church in good time today, because I knew there would be a lot of setting up to do. I said, a few weeks ago, that we were using the meeting room built on to the church for services for a couple of months, to save heating the church. We didn't have a service there at all last week as it was in another church (and I didn't go anyway) so when I went down there yesterday with the Sage to move a piece of heavy furniture, I was surprised to find that it was not absolutely freezing. I checked the timers on the heating and each day was set, correctly, for no heating time at all. So I supposed that I was just feeling the difference from outside's temperature and thought no more about it.

Today, the church felt even warmer. I felt the radiator and it was warm. I went to the heavy doors which lead to the extension and they were unlocked. We used to leave them unlocked until, several years ago, all our tables were stolen so since then, although the church itself is never locked, the extension is. As it was when I left it yesterday in the early afternoon.

This isn't the first time it has happened, but I've never been able to find out who unlocks the door and doesn't lock it again. Several people have the key to the place where keys are kept and I've asked around and sent emails but no one has owned up. This time, evidently, someone had unlocked the door, switched on the boiler, which takes several hours to heat the church and, later, switched it off again but not locked the door. It must have been overnight or early in the morning, as I should think it was switched off by 9 am. I can't understand it at all - why do it? It's a person trusted with a key, so not a random wanderer who needed a place to sleep and thought a heated church would be a nice place. In any case, the church room is carpeted and much warmer.

So, I went to start setting up the room for the service and found that the things I'd left out had all been put away. The table which we use for putting out the hymn books etc was folded up, or so I thought. When I put it up, I discovered that it was too long and that it had been swapped for a slightly shorter one. I had to move everything off that and swap them around again. I'd expected it to take a long time, but it was much more work than I'd anticipated. I didn't have time to practise the hymns. Fortunately, I can sight-read pretty well on the clarinet, so it was fine.

I would not wish to be the sort of person who puts up signs and notices telling people what to do. But it makes me feel a bit hmm that it doesn't occur to someone, if they move something, to put it back afterwards. It seems obvious to me that if I didn't do that, someone else would have to.

It was a lot colder by the time I came home than when I went out. Ro has just been to the petrol station to check the air in his tyres and he says the roads are glistening with frost. Fortunately, Al has kindly arranged that Tim will come in early to the shop on Monday and Tuesday so I don't have to, so I'll have an easy start to the week. I'm planning to cycle in every day (except Tuesday, when I have a morning meeting 20 miles away) but I make no promises.

Oh, and I've bought wool. Six balls, enough for Ro and me to make a scarf each (the mark of a Fine Resolution is when your child says "good idea, I'll do that too"). Actually, I have little idea how much wool one needs, but if there's some left over we can always make a hat. Or pool our wool and make a striped scarf for the Sage. Dilly found up her late granny's knitting needles, of which there are an impressive range, so I will cast on this afternoon.

Saturday 3 January 2009

Words and Bonds (you have to know Norwich shop history to understand that)

Well, the new dishwasher. You know I said that I felt it would be better to go to John Lewis than a random company on the internet, in case anything went wrong? I sort of didn't imagine it would be at the depot before the dishwasher even arrived here.

But let's go back a bit earlier. As you know, and most unusually for me, I'd done a bit of looking up on the internet. So I'd picked what I was likely to want before I arrived at the shop. In fact, there was little to choose between two machines, but both were on display so I peered inside them. I slightly preferred the interior arrangement of one and it was £10 more than the other and, with slight variations, they were much the same otherwise, so that was the one I picked. An assistant came and asked me if I wanted help - well, she asked Wink in fact as she was nearer - at just the time I was ready to order, so all was fine. I don't know if she had been seconded from another department - the white good department was quite busy - but she didn't seem awfully au fait with the goods, but that didn't matter. However, I had to ask about the included saucepans and then she scurried off to find out and then, after she'd given me all the paperwork, I asked about the 5 year guarantee. She assured me she'd given me the form. "This one says I have to pay £80, but it's included," I explained. She bobbed off to have another look, came back and agreed with me and found me another form. I thought she might have known that, as three of the four makes on display had that offer (JL's own brand didn't). I quietly checked everything else was correct, and it was. We agreed a delivery slot and off Wink and I went for a bowlful (each) of Nourishing Soup.

So, Friday came and the Sage agreed to stay home to await delivery of dishwasher, but in fact I was home by the time it arrived. The Sage received it and asked if our paperwork was needed. No, the driver had everything needed except the Sage's moniker.

Later, the Sage and Ro unpacked the dishwasher and left it in the hall while they went to disconnect the old one. I went to look at it. It was stainless steel when I'd expected white. I looked inside. It was the wrong model. I went and checked the packaging. It was still the wrong model.

"Hold you hard, bor" said I to the Sage and explained the situation.

This morning, I phoned the shop and the nice woman at the other end of the line was most apologetic. She said that they must have loaded on the wrong one at the depot. However, the Monday or Tuesday delivery slots I could have had are now full. A replacement will be delivered on Friday. I said how fortunate it was that we had opted to dispose of the present machine ourselves, so that I'll be able to use it for the next week. She apologised again. I was very nice about it under the circumstances. I did mention that it wasn't all that convenient and arranged that the driver would telephone the Sage with half an hour's notice, so that he doesn't have to hang around all morning.

Just as well that it happened to be a steel finish as otherwise I probably wouldn't have noticed until after it was plumbed in.

The saucepans are splendid, however. Stainless steel with really thick bottoms and a good heavy non-stick frying pan.

Friday 2 January 2009

Z goes to a Hide

I walked twice in a year, never mind two days. This doesn't happen every year, you know - though if Simon inspires me to take up orienteering, maybe I'll be trotting round the countryside inspiringly from May to November in future.

Thanks for your other suggestions, and I'll consider them all. I haven't yet, so can't comment.

Dilly decided to go and look at birds at Minsmere this morning, and asked if I'd like to go with her and the children. I rarely turn down an invitation as you surely know, so I keenly went along, bearing a walking stick in case my hip gave out.

A walking stick isn't for me, you know. I think I shall get one of those poles such as hikers use. I could look keen rather than pathetic and it would be at least as much use.

Anyway, we saw an extremely chubby deer - we thought it was a sheep until we inspected through binoculars, some shovelers (possibly shelducks, I'm not too good on ducks) and a mallard (I recognise mallards), some birds that were too far away to identify, a blackbird (a bit bemused at the group of people with their binoculars out looking at him, unless there was something else there that we didn't notice), several chaffinches and bluetits. It was not a vintage bird-watching expedition but we all got Healthily Exercised.

On the way home, Pugsley had a thorough tantrum, brought on through tiredness. In the end, we ignored him until he fell asleep.

Weeza and family are home from the in-laws, having had a good time. Phil's brother visited with all three children, the eldest of whom has Asperger's Syndrome, the middle of whom is profoundly autistic and the youngest, who we all hope has no such afflictions. The disability comes from the mother's side of the family, fortunately for children of Weeza and Phil. Anyway, it was not a relaxed day but went pretty well.

Zerlina had her first solid food on Christmas Eve and has been enjoying it, in tiny amounts. A teaspoon a day is about it. However, it served to bung up her system for 8 whole days. In the 9th day, her nappy was almost exploded off her. "From her ears down", said her father, who did the second nappy change. Nothing since - they have stopped the baby rice and are giving her vegetable purées - and Weeza is wondering if this will be the pattern and if she should arrange not to go out every 8 days. Or, even better, to arrange for Granny to babysit on those occasions.

Tomorrow, if I get around to it, I shall buy some wool and cast on. If I remember how. I think a long scarf might be the sum total of my efforts, but as long as I feel that sense of achievement...

Thursday 1 January 2009

Z gets mud on her boots.

A most jolly party. We all arrived in time for a home-made cider stirrup cup and then piled on to a couple of trailers, to be hauled by tractors to our starting places. There were 80 or 90 of us altogether I should think; I was on the larger trailer (sitting cosily on a straw bale) with 47 others. Most people got off at the first stop for one of the longer walks, leaving only 15 or so wimps or wusses for the shortest walk (I'm one of them now), which we were told (I didn't measure it myself) was 2.89 miles.

It was a cold day but not freezing - about 3º, apparently (for any fact fans out there) and a bit dim and gloomy but fine. It was a good walk but I was glad that Clare and Ro were there to read the map as I'm not very observant and slightly dim. The last couple of hundred yards was across a ploughed field (I'm not sure if it is an actual footpath or whether permission is given by the farmer, but it was fairly well trodden) and our feet were soon weighted down by clods of clay.

As expected, there were lots of pans of delicious soup. I started with curried parsnip and pear, went on to onion and potato, progressed to red pepper and finished with turkey and vegetable, out of a choice of a dozen or more. We ate bread and cheese and chatted, it was a really comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. The youngest children to do the walk were 8 or 10, but a few younger children joined the party later. There were people of all ages from 3 to over 70, but the majority were in their 50s, like me, with offspring in their 20s, like Ro. Some of the youngsters I've known most of their lives and don't see often now and it's remarkable to see how they are growing to look like their parents. The younger ones and those who took breaks before going to university don't all have jobs, or casual ones, and are finding it hard to get anything better without experience, which they can't get. They don't seem disheartened.

Oh, and what entertained me in a fond sort of way was the way the young men greeted each other with a handshake. It struck me, maternal as I am, how mature and young they are at the same time.

Z makes vague and unstructured, and fairly well useless plans

I'm not looking for anything life-changing here. I am looking for some things to plan that I will enjoy, but that require a degree of effort on my part. I'm not going to put here anything that I'll feel a failure for if I don't do them. In essence, these are frivolous resolutions which, successfully completed, will please me but not really mean anything at all. Well, except for no. 4, because that involves other people, but that will also be done simply for a sense of achievement and for fun.

Here we go...

1. Learn at least one poem. Last June, I recited one, spontaneously and unexpectedly, from a theatre stage in front of 200 people. I had learned that when I was 15.

2. Knit something and wear it. I haven't knitted anything since teaching Ro to knit some 15 years ago.

3. Get to grips (in a listening sense) with a classical composer whose work I don't know much about.

4. Meet at least two fellow bloggers.

5. Do something I've never done before. Hm. That's a bit vague. I'd say, something unexpected or out of character, but I'm a bit easy going there and not quite sure what my character dictates. Any suggestions? I reserve the right to say no. Or maybe. Or jolly good idea but why don't you do it instead, sweetheart, and tell me all about it? Remember, it has to be enjoyable (by my definition) and essentially frivolous, but if I like the idea, I'll put in the effort.

Any suggestions for poems or composers will be earnestly considered. But don't feel obliged.

It's actually twenty past six on Wednesday evening, but I'll post-date this to after midnight, because - well, I might forget later, I might come back and add something though. If you have any ideas, go ahead. I'm quite open to suggestions.

Midnight + ten minutes - It is after midnight now and Ro and I are watching fireworks on the Thames. On television, that is. Goodnight, good morning and have a good year.