Monthly Archives: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.