Monthly Archives: March 2010

Day job hat on, slightly askew

The catalogue for out next sale in a month’s time is up now – linked on the sidebar under ‘The Day Job’ if you’re interested.  The Sage is happily phoning people to tell them all about it.  Listening to him, I found myself muttering “I do love you” – good job he didn’t hear, not the sort of thing you want to say to a chap too often.  Have to keep them on their toes.  Remember that there’s the one who kisses and the one who proffers the cheek.

Or the two who snog.  Heh.

Anyway, the app I’m working on at present is road signs – actually, I probably should have gone for the whole highway code, but that will come, I think.  I like the learning and testing sorts of apps.  I’m fine with roadsigns, until it comes to unexpected stuff on trams.  Not too many trams in East Angular and how should I know?  Reminds me of driving in Belgium, when all the road signs were in Flemish and I couldn’t understand a word of them.

It looks as if there might be a whole family get-together for Sunday lunch, will be highly jolly – a whole tableful of us.  We’re having pork, which is splendidly un-Easterish.  In view of the weather, which is bloody awful (though nowhere near as bad here as in many other parts of the country), I hardly think that Spring-like food is quite the thing.  The greenhouse is doing all right, though I haven’t opened the propagator, except a corner to check things, for three days.  It all wants watering soon, but a drenching in icy water isn’t going to cheer up the seedlings much, so I’ll wait until the sun shines for a bit, at any rate.

Most of the veg garden beds are weeded and manured – yes, cutting it fine before planting time.  *Shrugs* – you got an issue with that?  No, of course not.  After all, you’re kind.  Aren’t you?

If required, Z could Kick Ass, or possibly even Shoulder

I was quite unnerved a few minutes ago when I checked my “to do” list and found that I’d done everything but one item on it.  I’ve remembered that I haven’t written up the notes from two more meetings, however, so that’s quite reassuring.  It is, however, quite possible that I will do all those three items this evening, and that will only leave me the things that have cropped up today – one of them I must do today or tomorrow as it’s writing a letter of condolence – and that I will be up to date with all office and non-domestic (which includes gardening) stuff before Easter.

No, that is unnerving.  I’m not quite comfortable with not having a deadline on my mind.  Not that I *need* the deadline, but that I’m a bit concerned that I’ve forgotten something, and that if I’ve forgotten it this comprehensively that must mean I’ve shut it out of my mind because I don’t want to do it, and it’s suddenly going to loom up horrifyingly.

Oh wait, I have got to write up the PCC annual report, which is not due for three weeks but which I do tend to leave until the week of the meeting – that’s all right, I’ve got that reassuring low-level anxiety to tide me over for a while longer.  Unless I just Get On And Do It, of course.


No, I don’t know, I might or might not.  I’ll keep you posted.

Anyway, I got on and did everything last night, or I thought I did – I remembered one more email after I was in bed, so asked the Sage to remind me for the morning, which he did three times before breakfast – I nearly got a bit snarky about it.  Then this afternoon I wrote up the lengthy minutes of last week’s meeting and have emailed it off to the chairman, so it’s now her problem to find time to check.

Ooh, there’s something splendid in the hip way.  I found the courage for a highish kick and can get my foot up to the kitchen counter again.  That’s excellent, but I could do that right up until Christmas, when I wasn’t quite able to any more, but what I haven’t been able to do for at least three years is get the other leg that high.  The other hip is okay, but it’s the flexion that wasn’t – well, now I can.  I’m so pleased.  Now I’ll work on turning on the light with either foot.  I’ve actually now got a better recovery even than I hoped for.  I’m not quite there yet – after cycling, my left leg tends to give way at the top, but that’s just a matter of building up strength and will happen in the next couple of weeks and really isn’t important.  Doing something I didn’t think I ever would be able to again is wonderfully happy-making (I’m sure there’s a word for it, probably on the lines of felicitous [felicitacious?], but happy is too good a word not to use whenever it’s applicable).

I worried Wink into phoning to check I’m all right.  Sorry, Wink.  No one else took me seriously – bear in mind that, if I were really in a state, I’d have rung you to lay the burden on your shoulders already.  Not that the rest of the shit has gone away, but it’s not as if I could have done anything about it anyway – and, as predicted, it didn’t keep me awake last night.  Actually, I think I had the best night’s sleep since early November.

Z’s having a bad day, which continues to get worse.

Things aren’t going too well.  In several directions, they are all ganging up.  Nothing I can mention here, so discretion must reign, with the acknowledgement that I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine already and I will certainly, certainly have another before the evening is done.  I won’t finish the bottle though, as I’m just so damn sensible.

Sorry if I haven’t answered your email yet, I really am, but I’m already badly slipping behind with other things.  I’m fairly free tomorrow (that is, no meetings or appointments) but I’ve got an awful lot to do tonight, so I just can’t write to people I actually want to.  I’ll just say that Tilly is fine, she and I have just had a lovely cuddle and she shows no sign of ill health – and yes, pee is a good indicator and I have (for I am more than half dog) sniffed hers to check.

If I didn’t know me so well, I’d hardly believe that I’ve done that.  As it is, I just can hardly believe that I’ve admitted it in public.

Funny – I feel very stressed, but at the same time I’m not taking it personally.  It won’t keep me awake because it doesn’t touch me or the family.  But all the same, I’m feeling several separate big weights on my teeny little shoulders.

Wah.  A lot of emails to write.  Asking or telling or acknowledging appreciatively or reassuring.  One may have bad news – though not personal.  I have to apologise, because I’m double-booked in three weeks time and I have to extricate myself from something I’ve offered to do. I’m very sorry about that, though I didn’t know they clashed at the time.

There was a sort of vague insinuation, in Another Place, that I don’t file things logically.  That’s not so, not at all, and I have no idea how the idea has got about.  None at all.  I file things logically when it matters and when I get around to it, and in the meantime, I have piles of things, stacked according to whether they are waiting to be put away or waiting to be dealt with.  Whenever possible, I get documents emailed to me so that I don’t have to keep paper copies at all.

I had a filing cabinet and hated it.  I like box files and document wallets and stackable plastic boxes to contain them.  When I get some papers, I either put them on my desk or on the printer to be dealt with that day or very soon, or I put them in the plastic box ready for filing when I get round to it.  In each place, file, wallet or box, papers might or might not be in order, but it doesn’t really matter because they are in discretely contained places.  There’s no great problem, if you’ve fished a piece of paper out of the middle of a box file and shoved it back on top, of finding its order again.  If, for a few weeks, the papers stack up a bit, it’s still no real problem, because in that case they’re in chronological order and I have a good idea of when something arrived, so whereabouts it should be.

Perfectly sensible, logical and efficient, if not terribly organised.  Works for me, anyway.

Yeah.  Had the email with the expected bad news, though not for the person concerned.  I’ve written to acknowledge, and now have to write to said person in sincerely warm and friendly manner.

I’d stop the clocks and wind them back about 25 hours, but that would only mean I’d have to go through it all over again.

No point hanging about any longer, time to get back to work.  In my favourite quote from lovely John Ebdon – if you have been, thanks for listening.

Jack Hughes

– but he’s innocent.

They’ve mended Bloglines on Firefox, though not on Safari, so at least (once I’d remembered my password) I can read blogs again.  I’ve deleted all the funny website posts that I waste my time on when I’ve got some spare, so I’ve now got fewer than 600 posts to read.  And some of those are duplicated in Reader.  I’ll be up to date in no time.

Anyway, I suggested to the Sage that he had purloined the tray that I usually use to carry the dinner dishes through, and mentioned it again a few days later.  Last night, he found it where I’d put it.  I’m a bit abashed.

Tilly added to her disgrace yesterday evening.  I was in the laundry room, taking stuff out of the washing machine and putting more stuff in, and she came to see me.  I turned to say hello just in time to see her squat and start to widdle all over the floor.  I squealed helplessly because she has reached the stage in life where, once she starts, she can’t stop.  The Sage came hurrying through and then went to find kitchen paper – I hastily threw a newly-washed (dog-drying) towel down to mop it up before it soaked into the floorboards.

After we’d cleared up, I said to the Sage “There’s no point in being cross with her, she can’t help it.”  He agreed.  “Who knows?” I added, “One day, one of us might have to clean up after the other.”  “Hm,” he agreed again, with an obvious subtext of “not bloody likely.”  Anyway, now, every time Tilly wakes up and gets off the sofa, she gets put outside before leaving our sight in the house.

I do say “anyway” a lot.  Heh.

I cycled into town for the first time (even driving has been a bit hard on the joints so I have been cautious).  It was boring.  Less boring than walking, largely because it took much less time, but there was no feeling of hearty good-humour at getting some healthy exercise.  But the abductor muscle didn’t hurt going up the hill the way it did do, which is something.  I’ll soon get used to it again.

Some time later –  oh, I know there was something I meant to tell you.  Yesterday, I found a death watch beetle sitting on the newspaper.  Today, I heard another clicking away hopefully somewhere in the wall. Spring really has arrived.  Damn.

Z is Better

If I haven’t visited, I apologise, but Bloglines isn’t working and most of you are only listed there.  I’ll be up to thousands of unread posts again by the time I can find everyone again.  Mind you, I’ve still got 33 more posts to work through even in Google reader, so the odds are I’ll never catch up.

And I just remembered I haven’t started on the PCC minutes I meant to write up this evening.  Oh well.  Too late now.  I should see if I’ve got the music I’m supposed to play tomorrow but have no intention of practising.  Hah.

Anyhoo.  No, not a lot has been achieved.  I succeeded in some delegating, which was good.  I’ve sowed some more seeds and spoken encouragingly to seedlings.  It may be a bit early for sowing runner beans, because they get to a certain size and start to entwine among themselves, which is a bit awkward when you come to plant them out, but I can’t fuss.  I won’t have any spare time next weekend, because there are two family birthdays and Easter and Wink is coming to stay, less than a fortnight before her birthday, which makes a third, so I will be highly busy being jolly.

For a change.

I was busying myself in the greenhouse this afternoon, and the door was open and Tilly came in.  I made her very welcome, but after a few minutes I thought the atmosphere was a bit pongy.  She left and I followed her towards the end door (this greenhouse is actually three, end to end, so there are three doors) and it got pongier.  I observed with dismay that she had stopped for lavatorial purposes just inside the door on the way in.  “Tilly did a poo in the greenhouse” I wailed in the general direction of the Sage, to the amusement of Friend Jamie who had called in – but I knew that the Sage quite enjoys clearing up ordure, so it was worth becoming a figure of fun.

Tonight, as I was cooking dinner, the Sage came into the kitchen.  “Can I help?” he enquired, having calculated asking time carefully.  I said things were under control, thanks.  “Then can I use your phone?”

I think I’m officially better.  The Sage hasn’t joined in the cooking all week – although I’ve been out every night, I’ve still cooked dinner, even when I haven’t eaten it.


I have been postponing my first proper bike ride, just going round the village so far.  I considered cycling in to the school this morning, but Dilly phoned me before I was ready to leave and by the time we’d finished our talk, it was too late to put on my face in time to bike.  I wasn’t sorry to have an excuse – I’m still feeling a bit wary of going uphill – though at least walking it wouldn’t be an painful effort as it had been of late.

Only a dozen or so children turned up for music because of House matches, and it wasn’t worth starting the next composing project with half the class, so the teacher decided to do something else, and I was not needed.  So I ambled off to find the Head’s PA, she being the one dealing with my CRB check.  She was with the Head, so I waited, and some of my friends from Learning Support were in the library, so I said hello and it turned out that children were due to come over from 9 of our local primary schools for a science project that the high school had taken out to them.  I asked if I could come and have a look, so that took care of my morning.

I popped back to deal with the form, and it transpired, after all my looking up, that I’d forgotten to actually fill in my NI number, which proves what an idiot I am.  However, I’m a lazy idiot, which was useful, as I hadn’t bothered to put all the papers away, so I was able to phone the Sage, tell him exactly where to look and get him to read it out to me.

The primary school children had been given the task of experimenting with the growing of mung beans and recording the process and their findings.  It was interesting to see how each school had approached it.  The former head of chemistry, who retired early some years ago to do good works, does a bit of filling in some times and, as he has a great rapport with people of all ages, does some link work between the primaries and secondary school, and he had introduced the task and then left the schools to get on with it.  The present head of science was judging the entries (there was a cash prize to the winning school) and I didn’t envy him the job at all.  Anyway, there were some lovely children, many of whom were keen to explain their experiments and findings to each of us who went to look.  Some schools had taken it beyond science – one group had written a humorous song, another had written limericks, another had gone into Chinese culture and food and another had gone into growing conditions in countries where the beans are cultivated.  Another had made food pictures as part of an art lesson on Arcimboldo.  And the treatment of the beans varied too – some had tried growing them in different liquids or temperatures or light versus dark, and the recording varied from pages of writing to drawings to graphs and even beads threaded with white wool to show how much the roots grew in different conditions.  Most schools had just used liquids but a couple used earth too, and one group had grown plants a couple of inches tall which they intended to grow on – they said they had previously grown chickpeas and got a small crop off them.  All very hard to choose a winner from, and in the end he gave two second prizes too.

Dilly’s phone call had been because she’d been asked to go into school this afternoon to discuss some one-to-one tutoring.  You may have caught, in the Budget, that the Chancellor talked about an initiative of intensive teaching of Maths and English to individual pupils who are falling behind, with the idea that this will help them catch up and then maintain their progress.  I am not knocking this idea at all (the village school has been doing it for several years with judicious use of excellent teaching assistants) but, as so often, it’s been hurried out without being thought through and the schools aren’t finding it easy to implement.  The main problem is, who is to do it?  The rules say it has to be a qualified teacher.  Again, I’m not knocking that, but who are they?  Most teachers are teaching.  There aren’t that many of them who want very part-time temporary jobs.  The next problem is when?  Either you take the pupils out of a lesson or you do it after school.  If a student is struggling to keep up, taking him (or her, can we take that as read?) out of, for example, a History lesson to do extra Maths is going to make him start to fall behind in History too.  And many of our pupils go home by bus, and there are only late buses twice a week and that only allows an hour’s after-school tuition per teacher.  Not many full-time teachers want to moonlight – all the good ones are willing to give extra help to any students who ask for it and there are sessions after school for many of them, especially at this time of year with exams looming.

Anyway, Dilly had a chat with the Assistant Head and, subsequently, with the Head of Maths at her previous school, and has since had a few ideas of her own to email to the Assistant Head which might help.  She would quite like to do the job, but one hour at a time at 3.30 is barely worth her time – she’s got more work on than she needs already, including the voluntary classroom work she’s doing at the village school.  She’s finding working with young children very interesting, seeing how the foundations of maths work are laid and absorbed.  She has yet to decide what area she wants to work in when she returns from the time off she isn’t really taking.  At present, she’s doing private tutoring for various key stages, doing maths workshops in the holidays at the library and doing some voluntary work at the village school, with an after-school (paid) maths club in preparation, as well as the prospect of the school one-to-one work.  She enjoys all of it, but each needs its own preparation and planning and it’s all too much overall for the long term.  She’s going to have to choose, I think.

Z goes to the Village Pub

I’ve been doing odd, annoying jobs today, such as filling in the CRB form – Criminal Records Bureau, that is.  I’ve been checked before, but that was in Norfolk, so now I’m having it done in Suffolk too as it doesn’t transfer (though that is changing now, and in future it will do, apparently, as long as the whole system doesn’t get overloaded and collapse).  It asks a whole lot of details, not just the obvious ones such as address, but things one has to look up like one’s National Insurance number and you have to take in various documents – the information is so boring to look up that I’ve been putting it off for a couple of weeks.  Then there was a potentially awkward phone call, some papers to photocopy and do a covering letter for and post – you know the sort of thing, nothing actually difficult but all too easy to say that you haven’t got time to do Right Now.  Anyway, now they’re done – getting started is all it takes and then it spurs you on to complete the rest.

This evening, I went to a small get-together at the village pub, which was most jolly.  I headed off at 6.30, assuring the Sage that the very latest I’d be home would be 9 o’clock … well, I got chatting to various people, and then we had something to eat and I sat with some others, and then I went to chat with some more, and I was just thinking it was time to go home when the remaining people all came over and chatted with me.  So we weaved our way out around 10.  As always on these occasions, we all agreed that we must do it more often.

Before that, I’d been to spend the afternoon with Weeza.  On the way home, driving from her house to the main road, I came upon a queue of cars just going out of a village.  I couldn’t see the reason for the hold-up because of the bend, but cars started to turn round and it was apparent that there was a long delay, so I turned round too and headed off the other way, meaning to get onto the A47 further along.  Sadly, I don’t know the area on that side of Norwich very well and when I got to a T-junction, neither option on the road sign helped much.  I turned on the sat-nav and that wasn’t any use either, as it just wanted me to turn round and go by the route that was blocked.  I spent some time messing about going in roughly the right direction, but the going-home traffic was bad by then.  It took me an hour to do the normally 40 minute journey, which was a bit annoying.  However, if the original delay was caused by an accident, at least that didn’t involve me.

Spring forward

A funeral this morning – not someone I knew well, I knew his late wife better.  She worked in the newsagents, in fact, she was there all her working life.  His grandson gave a eulogy – so often a family member wants to do this, not realising how very difficult it is to speak without considerable emotion at such a time.  It always reduces me to tears too, even if I didn’t know the person who has died.  I have to turn my face away from the congregation so that I can control myself by the time I play the next hymn.
I remembered sometime after midnight that I hadn’t put the heating timer on in the church – fortunately, the funeral wasn’t until 11 o’clock, so I had time to put it on this morning.  Afterwards, I not only remembered to set it for the monthly 9.30 service on Sunday but – and this is where it gets impressive – remembered that the clocks go forward this weekend, so changed that too.  It won’t come on between now and Sunday, so it doesn’t matter that it’s done early.  I also remembered to take the forms for nomination of next year’s PCC and churchwardens to the meeting last night and get all the proposers and seconders down.  My name not being there is particularly satisfying.  One more meeting, the AGM, and then I’m done.  Well, stuff to do the meantime, both regular things and making lists for the newcomer – which was more than I had, I kept on finding out more things I was supposed to do all the first year.
I walked with Dilly and Pugsley over the field to fetch Squiffany from school.  I looked back and Tilly was discreetly following, evidently meaning to be unobtrusive in case she wasn’t allowed.  She caught up with us at the gate.  Dilly wouldn’t let me climb over it, so I meekly waited for them with Tilly.  She was panting and a bit wobbly on the way home again and I started to wonder if she’d have to be carried.  She doesn’t seem to be any the worse for it though, and ate her dinner cheerfully enough.  It’s 12 years this month that she came to live with us, and she was then 15 months old.   
We’ve been without a cockerel for nearly two years – the last one died defending his wives from a fox and we didn’t replace him at once because we had more than enough chickens at the time.  Now, the Sage would like a few more young ones coming along, so he’s keeping his ear to the ground to hear about someone with a young male bantam in need of a good home.  We never raise one of our own young males for the purpose, but bring in a new bloodline.  Last year’s phantam (bantam/pheasant cross) is around, by the way – she looks very like a female pheasant but not quite, and she is less timid.  The male pheasant is very pleased to have a harem of adoring bantams – we’re going to have to consider the matter of keeping a new young male safe from him or they’ll fight.  The girls are entirely free range now, although they have their house at night, they roam everywhere during the day and eat most plants.  I think my globe artichoke plants have pretty well had it, unfortunately.  We’ve got daffodils, aconites and snowdrops, but I can’t see any sign of other spring flowers and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve pecked them out too.  Never mind.  They’re so sweet, and they are laying lots of eggs.  More than we can eat, and Al is selling them too.  But we may have to build them a new run – the present one has no grass in it at all, which is the reason we let them free – before we find a little rooster.
By the way, like everyone else in Norfolk recently, we looked up this house on google street view, not that you can see the house because it’s well off the road, and there in the field is Big Pinkie.  Isn’t that splendid?

Z loves her body

I was interested to read Pamela’s article the other day about being mentally prepared for an operation – what had surprised me was how protective I felt about my hip.  I actually stroked it a few times – yes, I know – in the couple of weeks leading up to the operation.  I felt sorry that a part of me that I cherished was going to be sawn off, and I’d made the decision to have it done.

I didn’t feel resentful or  angry at any time, by the way, though a bit unlucky.  Although, when I saw that there was no arthritis in the other hip and asked why I’d got it at all then, the consultant pointed out that the bad hip had a slightly shallower cup than the good one – a reasonable explanation, and one that showed nothing could have been done to prevent it happening (I’d never had any sign of a problem in my life before) completely satisfied me and I was able to shrug it off.
No, it’s the caring and protective feeling I have towards myself that I hadn’t expected, and I’m interested to find out that this isn’t unusual.  Not everyone has it, I’m sure – the other thing that gelled with me was Mago commenting the other day that he’d never have laser treatment on his eye.  Nor would I, just to correct my eyesight, although I would for a cataract or anything like that.  I mean, not for cosmetic or convenient purposes.  I’d feel irresponsible.  I’m afraid I’m stuck with my body as it is or as I can make it with general overeating and slobbing around.
Obviously, lots of people don’t feel the same way, or the cosmetic surgery business would never had got going.  Of course, it’s well known that one can go through a period of mourning after an operation such as a mastectomy, but I’ve always read rather glib things that breasts are such a part of womanhood that she feels she has lost her femininity – now I’m wondering if it’s any body part, even an internal one, that makes you feel that way?  And is there a difference if the part is diseased, or worn out?  
I think that the sudden need for an operation after an accident is a slightly different matter – there’s the shock, for one thing.  I’m thinking more of a necessary or elective operation that one has time to prepare for.  I’d love to know if any of you has any views on this?

New shoes

Understandably, Zerlina is very proud of them, especially as she loves butterflies.

Me?  No, I bought some boots back before Christmas, but otherwise I haven’t had any new shoes for months.  About 8 or 9 months, now I think about it.  I’m waiting to see if I’m going to be able to wear heels higher than an inch and a half before I do any shopping.

Anyway, with all the family birthdays that are coming up, it’ll be time to put shopping for other people first for a few weeks.