Sunday, May 29, 2005

I'm feeling crumpled and sorry for myself. Spending three days coughing and sneezing is not my idea of a fun Bank Holiday!

SuperSpouse is away - due back later this evening, after a long weekend in Derbyshire. So where have been my cups of tea, sweet words of consolation, enquiries after my well-being? I needn't expect them tomorrow - he'll be too knackered after his long drive home!

Meanwhile, Cello Boy is leaving the cello behind and going to France on a school trip tonight. Hopefully, SuperSpouse will be back before Cello Boy has to be at school, otherwise no.2 and no.3 sons will have to be dragged out of their beds! I have never seen no.1 son so excited. He can't stop chattering about it. I wouldn't want to be a teacher on that bus, not for anything! Thirty-odd kids as high as kites? No thanks.

I've tried to apply myself to reading a 2-volume tome about C. K. Sharpe and his ballad-collecting, really I have. It's hard, but I seriously have tried. In between dosing myself with cough medicine, paracetamol, vitamins, fruit smoothies, zinc and echinacea ... you've got to admit that I do this cold business thoroughly.

Right, it is bathtime. No, not my bathtime, I hasten to add.

Oh yes, credit where credit's due again - the image is from

Thursday, May 26, 2005

My boss did me a favour today. Pointing out that I had travelled to Birmingham, Edinburgh, Dundee and Peebles within the past fifteen days, it was suggested that maybe I shouldn't volunteer for yet another committee. (It meets in London. Think about it ...)

Whilst I was swithering as to whether I should do it or not, I was actually quite relieved to have someone else make the decision for me this time. I am Doing Too Much. If I can't cut anything back, then at least I can try not to do any more!

Entitled "Chronic fatique", this jpg comes from

Today was a manic day. Probably because of all the travelling about I've been doing, my desk is a cluttered heap of actionable papers. I chipped away at the surface, but as I did so, more tasks just crowded in on top of me. I suppose I should be grateful that I knew the monologue that I was asked to find. (Probably the only monologue that I do know, as it happens!) And I knew the song someone else phoned up about. The title was nearly but not exactly what she said. And I found a website where someone could download the music for a song, very cheaply if not for free. I suppose that makes it a successful day.

Superspouse is in Derbyshire. (See earlier blogs this week.) I got up at 6.30 am, got the kids to the childminder and myself to work by 9 am, got them from the childminder and home again by 6 pm, cooked, had tea and washed the last pan by 7 pm, and was gulping a small cup of coffee when the babysitter arrived at 7.05 pm.

I'm at home with the kids tomorrow. Hallelujah! There may be stuff to get done, but I have all day with no schedule to keep to. What a welcome relief.

Snuffle, sniff. Where did that nippy throat and runny nose come from? Maybe it's a good thing I'm off on leave tomorrow. I don't need to inconvenience anyone by being off sick!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

To the tune of "It's a long way to Tipperary" - All together now, "It's a long way to Peebles Hydro, it's a long way to go..."

The picture comes from the Peebles Hydro Hotel website, but I'm sure they won't mind a mention if I say that it is a truly luxurious hotel in a fabulous location!

I was co-presenting a paper at a conference there this afternoon. We went in my car, and it rained the whole time. This was a pity, as the countryside was quite pretty around Peebles. What a long drive! You get to the last stretch of the journey, see the "Peebles 11 miles" sign, and sigh with relief. Then the road slowly winds this way and that, and it turns out to be the longest eleven miles you ever drove!

Returning home again, we reached Glasgow at the start of the rush-hour, and it took over an hour from that point to getting home. I've been a good, domesticated little Pseudo-Supermum this evening - knowing that SuperSpouse is going away for the weekend, I did all the ironing. (Shudder - not my favourite occupation.) Having packed his bag for him - why can men not pack their own holdalls? I've never quite understood that - I now have to think about packing Cello-Boy's case for his trip to France next week.

The next picture proves that the task is not insurmountable to a mere male of our species:

Credit where credit is due - the 1st picture is from; the 2nd from; and the last from

Monday, May 23, 2005

It's Summer Walk to School Week. Hold me back! We working parents have our morning routines all sewn up, and suddenly, our kids are encouraged to walk to school. School is five miles away - our choice - so the suggested alternative was to park round the corner and let the kids walk from there. (Oh yes? Then you drive the car round the block, past the school, to get back onto the main road again?)

The solution - well, it wasn't a solution really, just the way it panned out - SuperSpouse stayed at home today to await the dishwasher engineer. (A tiny bit of plastic blocked the pump - it's okay again now.) Pseudo-Supermum drove the kids to the church where she used to be organist. Parked the car, walked the kids a quarter of a mile to school, walked back to the car. Drove to the underground, and travelled to the training day she was signed up to.

For the rest of the week, the boys will be dropped off with their childminder and walked to school. SuperSpouse has commitments on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, and on Thursday is off to Crich in Derbyshire to celebrate trams at the National Tramway Museum. It's the 50th Anniversary Cavalcade. The tram picture comes from the National Tramway Museum website and is very dear to SuperSpouse and his friends, because the Scottish Tramway and Transport Society helped fund it.

Pseudo-Supermum will take the boys to the childminder early in the morning, and get to town in time for work.

To change the subject - you know I hurt my arms using the hedgecutter yesterday afternoon? A Google search later told me that sore upper arms and shoulders go with carpal tunnel syndrome. I thought mine was largely dormant these days, but it seems the pain tells me otherwise. And guess what? It was really sore last night, so I wore splints on both wrists over night, and kept one on today. Do you think this book would help me?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The boys have gone to see Star Wars, so I thought I'd do a kind deed and give the hedge its first cut of the season. And the neighbours' hedge, since they're away.

The confounded machine died on me! Fortunately I'd roughly done our hedge, both sides, and started tidying next doors. Then suddenly ...

Wheee! Whine! Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech ...

Do hedgecutters have gears? There must be something inside between the motor and the blades. It's an old hedgecutter, so I didn't worry myself unduly - just tidied up and gave up.

Did I get the shears out? Well, I could have, but by that stage I'd had enough. My upper arms and shoulders tend to ache these days, so tomorrow morning could be quite sore, I suppose. Cue for a long soak in the tub tonight?

Saturday, May 21, 2005

The Bad Mothers' Handbook sounded just the kind of book I'd enjoy, so I ordered it. Well, it's a humorous novel, about three generations of women, each of whom wondered if they were "getting it right" as mothers. I won't tell you more - it would spoil it. Find out more by clicking the link on my sidebar. It's a lightweight book - entertaining, not too serious. Some nice descriptive touches. None of the heroines were in the least like Pseudo-Supermum, but then - why should they be?! I get it wrong in my own unique way!
27/30 is good enough! No.1 son was apparently griping to a friend that he wished he'd got a higher mark. "Don't beat yourself up about it", Mathematical WhizzKid reassured him. "Hey, that's 92%!" (He'd worked that out in his head as he spoke. Enough to make you sick, isn't it?! And they're only eleven!)

Meanwhile - I hang my maternal head in shame. No.3 son's Sunday School teacher rang me up last night. Would I have a word with him, please? He'd been so disruptive last Sunday that it was almost impossible to manage the rest of the class. Oh dear - that reflects so badly on me. I like this idea suggested by the Bad Behaviour experts - the notebook for recording pocket-money deductions. I am getting a notebook today. But no half-measures. If he plays up tomorrow, he loses the entire week's pocket money.

And don't mention swimming to me, either. We had another performance at the start of today's lesson. I had to coax no.3 out of the changing room, along the side of the pool - with about 20 parents watching on - and carefully lower him into the waiting arms of his swimming instructor. I didn't lose the plot. He did end up in the water. I saw him doing backstroke, with no float. What is it with the child?

Okay, there will be experts telling me he's attention-seeking. Believe me, our boys get loads of attention. Neglectful parents we're not.

But I'm obviously getting something wrong. I can't change the way other people behave, so I must change the way I behave. If I knew what I had to change!

"It's always darkest before it goes pitch black" -- from B Mendez at the University of Berkeley. See the full-size image here."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Too many meetings! When you work in a small team, you end up representing the unit on all sorts of committees. Last Wednesday I went to Birmingham by train. This Monday I went to Edinburgh.

Today I had a meeting at work first thing, then went to Dundee for a meeting. I was virtuous - I took my laptop, worked on an article on the journey there, co-authored a PowerPoint presentation when I got there, did some research reading for the rest of the journey, and more research reading for most of the return journey.

Next Wednesday I'm off to Peebles. Sigh!

Of course the problem with all this dashing around is that you're exhausted by the end of the day. Could I do any more reading this evening? Nope! I'm brain-dead. I've put the immersion heater on for a late-night bubblebath. Such are the heights of luxury to which I aspire. Oh yes, and the glass of rose wine that will await me after that.

When I stop, I fall asleep. Last night, waiting while GuitarBoy had his lesson, I thought I'd indulge in some quality Rest and Relaxation. Wiggled my toes, watched my breathing, promptly fell asleep. I didn't dare try again on the train today, in case I overshot Dundee and found myself in Aberdeen!

Stop the train, I want to get OFF!!

(Image = book, Stop the train! by Geraldine McCaughrean. Read the review at

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

We've been watching "Bad Behaviour" on TV again. You marvel at the desperation of those poor parents who are so despairing of their awful kids that they are prepared to go on TV and reveal all to the general TV-watching public.

Poor Anne-Marie! She was having a terrible time as a single mum of five young kids, living on income support. Those kids were having a terrible time too, suffering at the end of her unbelievable temper. We watched incredulously at the beginning of the programme, hardly surprised that the kids had been on the "at risk" register. And we remained incredulous through to the end, because that amazing woman turned herself and her kids around - with Warwick's help - controlled her temper, and got her own and the kids' lives back to gether again. Absolutely amazing.

I have the utmost respect not just for Anne-Marie but also for Warwick, her guardian angel and advisor.

Yesterday was a Bad Day. I am very fond of my deceased mother-in-law's engagement ring, which I had renovated when I inherited it. Yesterday morning I realised a stone was missing.

I spent the day in Edinburgh attending meetings, and when I got back, I discovered that the dishwasher had packed in. So, too, had my SLR camera. They say these things go in threes, don't they? We love that dishwasher - it is such a timesaver. Luckily we DO have Coverplan for it, so calling out the engineer won't cost any extra. As for my camera - I'd bought new batteries for it at Edinburgh Waverley, but still it wouldn't work. I don't want a digital camera - I am happy with what I've got. I enjoy fiddling around with light settings and lenses.

Today, I went to the camera shop to see what could be done. Would you believe it? The man said I had the wrong kind of batteries, and told me not to use alkaline ones. Actually, I had bought one of the two types the instruction manual demanded. However, he had the last word - and the camera does work again. Hooray!

It's late, and we're tired. Excuse me if I disappear. I have a meeting at work then a meeting in Dundee tomorrow. The laptop is charging up in preparation for the journey! If I stay awake on the train, I have the chance of getting a whole load of work done ...

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Alzheimer Auntie, Boys' Brigade camp, grossly grotty garden and reluctant research. That, alliteratively, has been my weekend.

To be fair, the research wasn't so much reluctant, as just plain hard to fit into the schedule. The house had become so cluttered with unshelved books, papers, and general junk (not to mention a glowering, leering ironing basket), that drastic remedies were called for. I threatened to walk out next Friday if the place didn't improve. Did I mean it? Well ...!

Anyway, it's Sunday evening and counting down. The place looks better already. We have a tired but happy BB boy after his camp. The washing machine is contentedly chuntering through the first of two big batches of laundry, and I'm about to suggest a bit of cello practice for no.1 son.

I really MUST get some reading done. Sometime. I can't decide if I'm going down with a cold or am just run-down.

Pseudo-Supermum is falling apart. When you go to the doctor with minor complaints, you want a pat on the head and a "there, there, nothing to worry about". I wasn't expecting something along the lines of, "yes, I think you've got fluid on the knee - I'll refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon - and yes, that mole ought to get removed - I'll refer you to a dermatologist too." I'm not a hypochondriac, but my boss will soon get the impression that I enjoy ill-health. And the irony is that I consider myself pretty healthy really!

Poor Alzheimer Auntie is physically pretty good for a lady in her late 80's, but mentally she's falling apart. She asked if I was still at school. She asked if Superspouse was still at school. (We're 46 and 67 respectively). Was fascinated by the hamster, to the extent that I got it out for her to stroke. Bad mistake - I shouldn't have done it.

"Don't put your finger near her nose, Auntie."

"Oh, it'll be all right. There ...."

"Please, don't put your finger near her nose, Auntie. She'll bite you."

"No, no - you're all right, aren't you?" [Pause] "Ouch!" and as she pulled her finger away from the hamster, she accidentally knocked the poor creature onto the floor. Don't tell no.3 son!

I blame myself. Another time, I won't risk anything like that. Neither will I put out a plate loaded with biscuits, an hour before tea-time. Politeness dictates that you put out more than you expect to be eaten. Alzheimers dictates that you won't remember eating the first biscuit, so you'll have another, and another, and another ... until they're all gone. You do need to put yourself into a different mindset, dealing with someone like Auntie.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

"My parents are looking at real-estate in Spain" - well, what would you think if a child told you that? Oh yes, and I'm the Queen of England!

But on this occasion, he was right. No.3 son and I had gone to collect Cello Boy from his orchestra practice. His friend was stranded. I merely asked where his parents were, and that was the answer I got. He was being looked after by relatives while they were away.

(The image is of a Gameboy game called Stranded Kids - seemed appropriate. Shame that it looks as though you have to hunt down a used copy now - it must have gone out of production.)

"So, who's collecting you?"

"My aunt."

"Do you know where she lives?"

He named a district some miles away.

It turned out there had been a muddle over times, so we said we'd wait with him until he was picked up.

"We could always play to earn some money, then go and get a McDonalds while we wait ...?", said the Stranded One hopefully.
Well, I'm glad I didn't fall for that one, because he was collected sooner than he expected!
It's amazing how much time is taken up by everyday domesticity. Swimming lessons, orchestra, doing laundry, taking a load of stuff to the charity shop, recycling bottles and doing the supermarket run ... half-heartedly tidying the garden, and finally the bedtime routine.

Will I get any research reading done tonight? Who knows. Cello practice calls!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Please go away. Sad boy is here.

Aah, it tugs at your heart-strings, doesn't it? Except when I tell you that this was scribbled in biro, writ large, across his bedroom door. Using the biro that he'd been given as a prize for - ahem! - good behaviour at Anchor Boys last Friday. When I got back from work last night, no.3 son was chastened, as well he might have been.

So, who has been watching 'Bad Behaviour' on TV tonight? (UK Channel 4) Docking pocket money is a recommended incentive? Quite agree!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Stinky hamsters are just what any pseudo-supermum wants to come home to after working late!

But why do female hamsters smell so much worse than males? I did a Google search, and came up with various answers:-

  • females are on heat every 4 days (randy little devils!)
  • the cage is dirty (heck, I only changed it less than a week ago)
  • the hamster is diabetic?
  • the hamster is sick (I don't think so!)
  • hamsters have sweat glands in different places? (And what difference does that make? I can hardly tell the lady she needs anti-perspirant!)

In the absence of a clear, definitive answer, I did what any supermum would do - I changed both cages. Again.

Meanwhile, no.1 son is realising that getting older has both advantages and disadvantages. You get the chance to make choices. Sometimes they're difficult. Right now, we're battling with whether he should miss a couple of days' school to go to his uncle's wedding. Whatever no.1 son finally decides, no-one will mind. He's a bit unnerved by the enormity of the decision (to his way of thinking) - but as I pointed out, he wouldn't be very impressed if we decided for him.

Also, his uncle will remember being a young teenager when our sister got married. Not so different from being nearly twelve! I'm quite sure he'd understand if no.1 felt his presence was more urgently needed at school!

Do I want to read what C K Sharpe thought about old Scottish ballads? Well, yes, I do - but not at 11 pm after working late. Tomorrow is another day ...

I'm not sure whom I should acknowledge for the wonderful fairy picture; all I can do is quote their website, with many thanks!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Peace reigns! This morning, SuperSpouse took the boys to their swimming lesson, then took no.1 son to his orchestral rehearsal. I had an extra half-hour in bed reading the Saturday supplements, then got up, hung out the washing, phoned the plumber, and generally tidied up for half an hour before settling down to some research reading. Bliss!

The plumber came, fixed our wobbly tap (indoors), our leaky washer (outdoors), and revealed that he is also a dab hand at various other useful skills like replacing roof-windows. Ours leaks in stormy weather, depending on wind direction. This is probably our next home-improvement project!

More reading - rescued the washing from a shower - had lunch. Hung out more washing, did more reading, washed the car - and, here is my triumph - got the DRY washing back indoors again before another shower came on!

Talking of reading - I want to read Sophie Kinsella's The Undomestic Goddess - it's due to be published on 30th May. The question is, can I resist pre-ordering it? (See the link on my sidebar!)

But I mentioned peace? Yes, indeed. The boys have played nicely all day. And doesn't it make a huge difference? Let there be peace!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Me, exhausted after no.2 son's recent party
Posted by Hello
Hooray, it's Friday! Last night we stupidly sat up to watch the election results. Well, I fell asleep on the sofa round about 1 pm. SuperSpouse somehow woke me up at 4.30 am, when we stumbled into bed. "You've only left me TWO HOURS to sleep in bed", I grumbled. Not quite his fault, admittedly, but someone had to take the blame!

And was our vote worthwhile? In sunny Govan, no it wasn't. The turnout was lousy - but still Labour got back in. No other party even thought it worth putting placards up - that tells you that they didn't even anticipate success.

So tonight - yes, folks, I'm shattered again. Do I want to do any reading? Not really!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

STOP PRESS!!!!! SuperSpouse has fixed his computer, all by himself. Never was a man so proud of himself. He rang me at work to tell me of this amazing accomplishment. Yes, he's right - he's a stubborn - ummm (no.1 son tells me I mustn't use bad words on my blogspot) - well, he makes mules look tractable!

And there was much rejoicing in our household, anyway.

Thanks to for the image!
I am sulking. Why? I did a blog post, then someone phoned and cut off my internet connection. And with it, my newly-posted blog entry! Then I thought I'd try downloading an image-posting facility - but got cold feet and chickened out. So what do I have to show for the past 15 minutes? Nothing, nil, rien, gar nichts, nada. In short, zilch!

I think I'll go and be a good PseudoSupermum - I'll chase no.2 son to bed then start on no.1. If I offer him Pringles (vile, unhealthy, horrible salt-and-vinegar flavour), he'll probably be mine for ever. I'll settle for getting him to bed before 10 pm! SuperSpouse has been told, firmly, that he is NOT to buy salt-and-vinegar Pringles as a treat again. Both of us would have preferred our wine last night with something less strongly, and less artificially flavoured!

I've had a couple of hours chilling out on eBay, but must get some reading done once the boys are all in bed. Needs must!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Computers! SuperSpouse is having an ongoing war with his PC. Finally, he phoned a friend who is something of a computer genius. Even with two humans waging war on the PC, I fear the computer may be winning at present.

Meanwhile, my [newish] laptop has decided that it's entertaining for the touchpad not to work when it's turned on. You attach the wi-fi mouse, and all is well. Do a restart, take the mouse away - and all is still well. And the next time and the next ... but not the next day. Ho-hum!

Finally, on my own PC - I accidentally allowed the printer to run out of paper mid-job. Now it is doing all manner of weird symbols, but not finishing the job. I got my own back - unplugged it and left it unplugged. Normally this fixes it - here's hoping ...

Yes! No symbols, and no print-job pending. Ah, blessed relief.

It's coming up to 10.30 pm. I actually got two out of three boys to bed at the right time. No.3 son was another kettle of fish entirely - he was listening to Horrid Henry, and would NOT go to sleep. Stopped the tape and started Classic FM - result, zzzzzzz...

Do I feel like doing research-minded stuff? Nope! Not right now. This is probably because I took the afternoon off and incarcerated myself in the university library before meeting my supervisor. Now, as far as my brain is concerned, I have "done" my studenty stuff for the day and deserve a break.

I shall plan some more music for the church choir, then call it a night.