Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Exercise? I walked 6 miles today! (and drove another 15.) Join the dots to chart my progress!

11. Cello-Boy's hall of residence

5, 9. Partick ___________8. Hillhead --------6. Cowcaddens

2, 4. Garage ----------------------------------------3, 7. Work



1, 10, 12 Home

1-2 Take car to garage; 2-3 walk to work; WORK; 3.4 Walk back to garage; 4-5 park in Partick; 5-6 Underground to Cowcaddens; walk to work; WORK; 6-7 walk to Cowcaddens; 7-8 underground to Hillhead; walk to Uni.; MEET SUPERVISOR; walk back to Hillhead; 8-9 underground to Partick; walk to parked car; 9-10 drive home; COOK TEA, console ailing SuperSpouse; 10-11 deliver cello-bag to Cello-Boy; 11 -12 home again.

The good news is that I got it right about the fault on my car's suspension. As Google said, it was the linkage to the height-adjuster - which is a tiny piece of white plastic like an enlarged K'Nex component! The other good news is that I was told my car, with its 110,000 mileage, is still but a child. Excellent - I won't rush to replace it yet!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Ah, Sunday - the day of rest (?)

I'm going to fly down to visit my parents in England on Saturday, returning on Sunday. This meant that the boys would either have to go to church with SuperSpouse, or have someone delegated to look after them at my church. SuperSpouse flung his hands up in horror at the thought of trailing them from one early morning service at one church, to the main morning service at another. I found a willing volunteer at my church, and we started exchanging emails to get the arrangements all tied up and sorted.

I came home from church and announced proudly that it was All Sorted Out. At which a strange, slithery, awkward expression stole across SuperSpouse's face. "Um - I've just remembered - I'm not actually playing the organ next Sunday. Someone else is." Duh! Ah well, it was good organisational experience, I suppose.

In the evening I took our two oldest boys to the Lord of the Rings Symphony at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Coming out of the multi-storey carpark, there were some strange noises coming from under the car. I found somewhere to park and saw I had a flat tyre. Well, I pay for breakdown cover, so I phoned for it, and we settled down to wait. Could I get through to SuperSpouse to advise him what had happened? No, he was on the phone. You know that irritating female voice. "The person you are calling knows you are waiting." So I tried again, and again, and again. Engaged. I phoned a neighbour who managed to prise him off the phone ... he'd been chatting to his mother-in-law. Each of them assures me that it wasn't them that was doing all the talking.

Eventually, SuperSpouse came to collect the boys - to be followed, two minutes later, by the breakdown van. The tyre was changed - then the fun began.
The suspension appeared to go down (this is a Citroen Xantia we're talking about - you have to raise the suspension to change a wheel) - but I had a bouncy drive home. A bouncy drive to Kwikfit this morning, and a bouncy drive to where I leave my car when I take the underground to work. Would you be impressed if I suggested it was either the rear spheres, the rear height adjuster or the linkage to the height adjuster? I thought you would. I've been googling again. We'll see if I'm right when I go to the garage tomorrow. I don't fancy riding my 4-wheeled pogo stick all the way into the city, but I really have little alternative. What a miserable prospect!

But I digress. I got home just before midnight last night, to be told that Cello-Boy's cello case zip really had broken and wouldn't zip up at all. He now has the only cross-dressing cello in the west of Scotland, if not the whole of Scotland. The case is held together by a red satin ribbon and a green and gold Christmas tree-embossed ribbon. It looks bizarre but keeps the cello protected. And I hope the parcel waiting at the sorting office will turn out to be our new cello case tomorrow!

That was Sunday - as I mentioned, a day of rest. Ahhhh!

Image from rodsavely.com - it simply couldn't be more apt!

Saturday, June 24, 2006


I see I've started the last two blogs somewhat defensively with "Well". But what I am defending myself about? And to whom?

Rather unusually, I went to work today (Saturday). I have to say that I got a lot done. However, I then came home, cooked tea, went and bought wine, lottery tickets and a water-gun for Cello-Boy, chased no.3 son to bed and then ....


Like Zebedee, no.2 son bounced up and reminded me I'd promised to "do baking" with him this evening. They had been playing cards with a friend, so I'd assumed he'd forgotten about my promise. Not so! We "did baking". I had to reassure him that butter would make nicer cookies than if he used margarine - since there wasn't enough baking margarine for the recipe. Then his teacher hadn't said whether to use plain or self-raising flour. I took a chance and used SR. Lastly, the timing seemed rather long. And it was!

To my relief, two trays of quite acceptable cookies came out of the oven, so one little boy is happy. Indeed, he's doubly happy. He has had a loose tooth for over a week, and it's been driving him mad. He's sat and wiggled and jiggled - he's even got out of bed and stood in front of the bathroom mirror wiggling and jiggling until nearly midnight, to no avail. This evening ...

SuperSpouse and I were sitting talking when he burst into the room, wreathed in smiles. "I've pulled the little bugger out!", he announced proudly. Ahem. We don't use that kind of language. But, on this occasion and considering the grief it has caused us ...

We await the tooth-fairy. She collects shiny white teeth to build her castle in the sky. And leaves a shiny £1 coin in their place. Three cheers for the tooth-fairy. Download your own Tooth Fairy Certificate from http://www.dltk-kids.com/books/images/ctoothcertificate.gif .

Friday, June 23, 2006

Going loopy

Well, I've had a busy night. I did the supermarket run. And then I decided to tackle the difficult problem of finding someone to deputise for me (as a church organist) while I'm away on holiday. After a number of calls, I succeeded. Hallelujah!

And then things started to unravel. Having phoned and fixed up a deputy, I emailed him to confirm the arrangements. Misread his email address, so it was bounced back. Pity I'd copied it in to various church folk, who wouldn't have known it was bounced.

What did Muggins do? Corrected the email address, sent it to all recipients again (thinking they'd need to know the correct address) - but SuperSpouse came to tell me something as I was correcting the email address, so I inadvertently missed off the "dot.com" at the end of it. Bounced again.

Tried again - a different message came up. At this stage I began to wonder if snailmail didn't have much to recommend it. Still, I made a fourth attempt, and it hasn't been bounced back, so I'm hopeful that I've now got it right. The only trouble is, everyone has now witnessed my scatty attempts to send an email - and I'm usually so IT-literate. I shall eventually have to email all the other recipients to ensure they have ended up with a workable email address!

It gets better. By now in a total flap, I couldn't remember who I'd engaged to deputise for me next week! Mercifully I had made a handwritten note to myself, so all was well once I'd calmed down enough to find it.

I'm working tomorrow (Saturday). Don't know when I'm going to get any reading done ... No.2 son is desperate to do some more baking, and I've promised we'll do it tomorrow evening. How can I stand in the way of such enthusiasm?

http://guitar-primer.com/Folk/AFS-65.html (takes you to a page where you can hear the music!)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

My head hurts!

Well, it has been a busy day. I left the house just after 8 am. Did a day at work, went to the end-of-term party and retiral "do" (briefly) then went to collect my car.

Collected Cello-Boy and went to a meeting about his forthcoming camping trip. Took him back to his hall of residence and got back home just after 9 pm.

Now, there were a couple of surprises. No.3 son was not pyjama'd ready for bed. However, no.2 son had not only finished his Capital City project on Amsterdam - he and SuperSpouse had also made biscuits for a school cake and candy stall tomorrow. I didn't actually know that SuperSpouse could bake. Cook meals, yes of course, but not bake. Does that mean I might yet get a birthday cake on my birthday???

Anyway, no.3 son was soon chased to bed, and no.2 son was not too far behind him. Then the fun began. Cello-Boy's cello case zip was causing a problem. It got its teeth all tangled. I managed to rescue it, but you can be sure it'll jam or split again fairly soon. With a music course coming up, that didn't seem a very good idea. I've spent the rest of the evening researching soft cello cases on the internet! It's not as easy as it seems. The supplier has to be in the UK. The case has to be thick enough, as well as the right size - but not a deluxe super-duper model, or a hard case, because Cello-Boy will outgrow the instrument before too long in any case (pardon the pun!).

Now at 11.17 pm, I can stop. I've bought a new case. I hope it arrives soon!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

When the lights go off, you can't blog.

We've just had a power-cut. It is surprising how quiet - and how gloomy - a house becomes when the lights go off at 7 pm. This being Scotland, it would have been okay if it was a sunny evening, but tonight it's wet and windy. Of course. As the Professor said to me this afternoon, "Last week we had someone else's weather - and now they've given us our own back!" While the power was off, our technology-dependent family and home ground to a halt. I couldn't even have a cup of tea!

Mentioning the Professor isn't name-dropping, I hasten to add. I've just had my annual postgrad assessment today. Now, you'd think a grown woman of 47 with a career, a husband and three sons, would be able to handle a postgraduate assessment without having an attack of nerves. But I've spent the past week in a state of indescribable panic.

However, it seemed to go well. I can't be certain, of course, until I get my report. But it felt as though it went okay. And they like my written style, which is gratifying. I've just told my husband that all those years of writing short stories for the People's Friend, not to mention recent years blogging for the hell of it, have obviously paid off. I can write, folks! I can't bring myself to write long, complicated sentences with lots of semicolons and parentheses, not to mention all those difficult words* that I have to look up when I'm reading a scholarly article - let's face it, there's generally no need.

I am going to indulge in an evening of Doing Nothing. I propose to go out to buy garlic bread as a supper-time treat. Get the boys to bed. Have a bath, and do my nails slowly and carefully. Maybe listen to a CD and read a book. As I said, Do Nothing!

*Here's a selection from the last book I was reading:- historicism, hegemony, liberation argot [liberation I understand - but argot?], densely contextualised, New Historicism, premiss, hermaneutic, diachronic, synchronic. They never used those in the People's Friend!

This image comes from fatbraintoys.com - where they encourage kids to use big words. I wonder if any of the above words are in the tin????

Sunday, June 18, 2006

11 pm on a Sunday, and I'm knackered! But what have I got to show for it?

Yesterday, Cello-Boy took his Grade 5 theory exam. I sat and studied in the University Library whilst I waited. Then we had coffee afterwards, to reward ourselves for our efforts.

In the afternoon, I booked the boys' summer daycare. I won't even mention the vast amount this is costing us. Put it this way, it would be cheaper for Super-Spouse to be at home, but of course it's not an option because he can't just opt out of work for the summer!

When we got back, I had a massive sorting-out of paperwork at home. It felt as though things were getting on top of me. They were - I found a credit card bill that I'd overlooked. I had truthfully been under the impression that I hadn't received a statement from them that month, and I expected it to arrive any day. But it had arrived. It had just become submerged under other papers. I haven't finished my massive sort-out yet, but had to stop eventually - because on Tuesday I have my annual postgraduate review. And so I needed to sort out my papers and my head for that.

I've revised my bibliography. Looked at last year's Grand Plan, revised it for this year, and written a Time Plan scheduling what I need to do next. Oh golly, do you think I'll manage it?

I reached a point last week where I was almost ready to say "Okay, I quit - now you can't quit me!" - but hopefully it'll go okay and I'll be allowed to continue ...

Send me some encouragement, please!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Three cheers for flybe, who are taking me direct from Glasgow to Norwich. I've flown flybe to Birmingham, but never flown "home" before. Can't wait until the weekend of my flying visit. I'm very concerned if my father is becoming confused. Seeing that for myself is not going to be a very pleasant experience. At the same time, I'm excited at the prospect of seeing my new nephew for the first time. And it'll be exciting to see my parents' new home, which my brother is building them. Though I won't be too happy to leave the family home for the last time, knowing I'll never return to it once they've sold it and moved to the new place this summer.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

What a roller-coaster weekend! The TV arrived - and the kids are well-impressed. It's been glorious weather, but when they weren't outside getting soaked in street water-fights, they were indoors drooling over the new TV and the freeview channels! Meanwhile, making the most of the sunshine, I've stripped the beds and kept the washing-machine busy, hanging out heaps of laundry at regular intervals.

The house next-door has been bought at last, and the new occupiers are gutting it. (It's a renovator's dream - it needs everything doing to it!)

This afternoon we had a [s]tree[t] party as they chopped down two enormous conifers that we've hated since we moved in 11 years ago. The neighbours all stood around and cheered as the trees were felled. They were perilously close to the house, and the roots will be under the whole terrace.

That was today - the trees in the back garden had better watch out because they're equally dangerous and equally doomed! (They aren't quite so close, but everyone's telephone cables run through them!)

Apart from watching the action, we had friends round this afternoon, so I spent a fair bit of time preparing food.

Why do we talk about the dignity of old age? What dignity is there in knowing you have the early stages of Alzheimers and will get more confused as time goes by? That's what our friend has to look forward to. And then I spoke to my mother this evening - she wants me to go down south to visit them as soon as possible, because she fears my father is getting confused.

All this is nothing compared to the anguish of friends whose 29-year old daughter died of cancer on Friday. Their only daughter - and she'd been ill for most of her adult life. So often, I've heard Christian ministers comment that they can't explain why God lets these things happen. It's so hard to understand.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I'm under house-arrest!

I should explain that on Wednesday, Currys rang up to say that we and 399 other households would not be getting our new TVs delivered that day - because their computer system had suffered a major glitch. My apologies to the lady at Currys who was on the receiving end of SuperSpouse's annoyance. We both took time off work to be at home for that delivery - and SuperSpouse lost out financially, because he had to pay someone else to cover for him.

Okay, so now it's Saturday, the day of the rescheduled delivery. I am not permitted to open the back door, and certainly not to step on the back doorstep, in case I don't hear the doorbell.

Let me tell you a story. When we got the doorbell installed, we both went to the far end of the [tiny]garden to check that we could still hear the doorbell if the window and door were open. Now think about it. The doorstep is at the near end of the garden. Ho-hum!

The man from Currys says he'll be here in half an hour. I do hope so! We must be the only family in the UK getting a new TV as the World Cup starts, but not honestly caring about the World Cup in the slightest. On the other hand, it will be nice to be able to watch something else on TV tonight!

Now I'm going to get on with some research reading. Excuse me ...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

I'm not vain. Indeed, I have only the slightest passing interest in fashion. Nonetheless, when my nails were showing a tendency to split, I thought I'd better do something about improving their appearance. Eventually, I went for a manicure and learnt how to do a French manicure for myself. Brilliant idea - the polish covers up the split bits!

Last night I did a neat job, though I say it myself, and was quite pleased with the results. This evening, however, I was driving Cello-Boy back to his halls of residence, when -

Thud. S - c - r - a - p - e .

The spare tyre on a Citroen Xantia lives in a bracket underneath the boot at the rear of the car. Mine had become detached. So there, dragging on the ground under the car, was the bracket with the tyre nestling in it - and part of the bracket was a few feet behind us on the road. I was able to reattach the bracket, but I haven't the strength to hold a whole spare tyre and bracket up with one hand whilst reaching into the boot and turning the screw to reattach the whole assembly. The spare tyre is now in the boot.

As for my beautiful, manicured nails - well, astonishingly, they still look pretty good. I washed all the oil and grime off my hands when I eventually dropped Cello-Boy off. There remains just one grimy, oily split at the end of one fingertip - and I suppose it might clean up if I soak in the bath for long enough.

I'm still reading about Jacobite songs, but at nearly 10.30 pm at night, and after the various ups and downs of the day, my heart isn't in it. I hear the bathtub calling, sweetly and enticingly ...
You see? I wasn't born to be smart and sophisticated. It's not in my genes!

[Image from tradebit.com, with thanks!]

  • I nearly forgot - remember no.3 son had to be bought a new water-gun? Guess what. Tempers got frayed this evening. No.1 & no.3 son both seem to have had something to do with Viola-boy's Super-Soaker giving up the ghost. A new one was sourced, this time on eBay. I hadn't bargained on that. All three boys have been chastised for fighting.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Do things always all go wrong at once? The TV died (permanently) on Thursday. Cello-boy's music stand died (ditto) this afternoon. And only hours later, Ocarina kid realised that we no longer had Cello-boy's water-gun, which had expired some weeks ago.

We replaced the TV this afternoon - owch! Cello-boy had a sleepover invitation, but we made him go TV shopping with us first, because he'd have had enough to say about it if we bought something that he didn't think progressive enough.

Mercifully, replacing the Super-Soaker merely meant going to Toys'R'Us, and I've replaced the music stand by an eBay purchase just now.

Of course, having bought the Wasp water-gun, it had to be tried out. The washing-machine is manfully dealing with the detritus of two separate, totally wicked water-fights. I finished making a Summer Pudding for our lunch guest tomorrow (see Pseudo-Supercook), cleaned up the kitchen work-surfaces (my fault) and mopped the floor (see above) - it being impossible to get two wet little boys indoors without a bit of mud and grass accompanying them!

And so to Jacobite song. A bit of a big leap? One small step for the Recycled Postgrad, one giant leap for Pseudo-Supermum ... Excuse me while I don my thinking cap for a while.

Friday, June 02, 2006

As the kids would say, "Nee-Naw, Nee-Naw!" I was barely back from my lunch-break when SuperSpouse phoned to say that the primary school had phoned - to say that no.3 son had suffered a playground accident, and had a gash above his eyebrow. SuperSpouse couldn't get away from work, so he'd said that I would go to fetch the invalid.

Filled with trepidation, I dashed away - phoned the school to say that I'd be a while, then rode by underground to the car-park, then a speedy dash along the M8, imaginary blue light flashing furiously. I was visualising an afternoon spent at Yorkhill Casualty, and hoping he wasn't concussed into the bargain. I made it in 40 minutes - actually, quite an amazing feat.

There was my tear-stained little boy, longing for his Mummy to come and get him. But - wait! Where was the gash above the eyebrow? Not a bruise to be seen. A head-injury with no outward symptoms?

Aha, I see. A little toe-rag swung his jacket at no.3 son, and the zip made a tiny cut in his scalp. He was scared to put his hand there and find blood. I don't like the sound of this other child. Whenever something nasty happens, he always seems to have been there.

Anyway, my boy was happy to be taken home. "What took you so long?", he demanded. Ah, the innocence of youth!

During my lunch-break, I'd actually had a stress-busting Indian head-massage. I didn't get the chance to feel the benefits! However, after our evening meal, and any number of extraneous interruptions, I sat down with a cup of tea. And slept for a solid three hours.

(The image comes from Staffordshire School Libraries. As a librarian myself, I'm happy to acknowledge their great cartoon!)