To steal direct from an earlier email:
Okay, I give in. Today was not meant to happen.
So, due to
- a rather painful and bloody encounter with a corner of the Wendy house
- the conflagrating toaster
- bruising myself twice whilst clearing up the cat-sick
I'm not risking going out today. I've still got the third disaster to contend with--and I'd rather do it at home. I'll leave you all guessing as to which of the three incidents does not constitute a catastrophe and remain here nursing the headache.
See you all soon.
ETA: Later, I sliced a finger whilst slicing the potatoes for supper. The magic threesome is attained and I can go to bed safe, if sore.
Oops! It just doesn't focus and there's so many floaters I can't see at all. Not had quite such a clear cut onset of a migraine attack in many years. The eye went an hour back and the headache's just cut in.
Nope. I shan't do the robotics exercise I was planning. I shall plant seeds and water the garden.
It was so foggy on the 23rd that we skipped a trip into York and headed straight for Whitby, found the cottage, unpacked, settled in and waited the rest of the family to arrive. Visibility did improve and we got the full joy of whatever late 20th-century monstrosity was destroying our view across the valley: we decided that the term "judicious pruning" could be applied to buildings as well as trees and the concept of tools extended to include high explosives.
The walk through town on our first evening was very pleasant with plenty of pretty lights -- more than enough to provide for good visibility of the various interesting items items on sale in the shops. We'd lost the fog completely by then.
Christmas Eve saw us wandering around town again, including the yarn shop in the old chapel. Bought yarn. Stopped looking in the jewellery shops after I'd spotted the three things I'd rather like: pair of jet skull earrings, carved jet raven, tiny eagle-shaped brooch with an amber body. Climbed up to Abbey and wandered around churchyard with the faint sounds of carols coming from inside the church.
Turkey, potatoes, parsnips, Christmas pud. Musical crackers: Looby Loo proved an immensely patient conductor of the crew of drunken whistleblowers. We've saved the whistles for next year.
Christmas Day we walked to the beach. Almost instantly I picked up one of the best ammonites I've ever found. Also some very nice sea-smoothed pieces of glass. Much larger pieces than I've collected from Fleswick Bay. Walked up to the Abbey, again.
Venison -- roe, not red.
Boxing Day took us to Robin Hood's Bay, a walk down more steps along the grimy sands and up more steps, tea and teacakes.
Went over the documents the Aged P had rediscovered relating to my paternal great-grandfather's time as a POW in the Great War. Armed with his regimental number and some other details, and an evening of searching the web, we may be able to track down some additional information.
Home, via York. At Looby Loo's request, we spent our time in York walking round the walls. More steps. Far too many stretches of wall with no half-comforting railing along the inside. Still, it's a pretty good way of getting a good view of a lot of the town.
By New Year's Eve I'd finished Nella Last's War.
I'd been meaning to read this since it first came out in the early 80s. The Aged P very kindly gave me my mother's copy as a Christmas present (first editions are going for something in the region of 40 to 50 quid these days, though there is a new paperback edition tied in with the recently shown on TV version). Far more interesting as a social document than the TV dramatisation (which I enjoyed for Julie Walters' and David Threlfall's performances, and Stephanie Cole's too). I'd been surprised when I watched it how the issues of social class were covered, placing Nella lower down the social scale than the diaries show her to be. For instance, there was no sign of her servant on the TV. And it wasn't made clear that the Lasts owned their new house as well as running their own car. When my mother first read the diaries, her remarks had been about how they'd viewed the Lasts as terribly posh: my mother grew up a few streets down from them in a terrace, rented, with an outdoor loo, tin bath, and of course no car. I enjoyed in the diaries Nella's the left-wing social conscience, her anger that when the dockworkers (this would have included my maternal grandfather) spent time during their shifts in the air raid shelters they weren't paid for the downtime.
So, fog, steps and wars. Two visits to Whitby in one year and not a single piece of jet acquired.
And we got presents! A most wonderful green velvet bag covered in embroidery and brass beads from my in-laws; Stumble into Grace and The Rabbi's Cat from my dad; a literary history of Lady Go diva and a biography of Mr Moog from M; and flowers from my brother. This last was a great surprise since neither my dad or I had reminded him (I tend to ring him after my birthday to remind him about Looby Loo's upcoming birthday and Christmas requirements).
I can smell the chocolate cake baking downstairs. It is due to be decorated by Looby Loo when she's home from school. The haunch of roe deer is defrosting nicely. We have wine, whisky, absinthe.
On the downside, Biggle left me his own present behind the front door this morning. And Little is still scabby from the flea allergy.
... by me, at any rate.
We did the Easter holidays bit, mainly before Easter (so maybe, they should have been Lenten holidays, except that I don't observe the season, except ion the consumption of pancakes and the purchase of chocolate eggs). I made Looby Loo her fairy-mermaid-princess costume for the Eastercon masquerade. This was finished--eventually--sitting on my Pa's living room floor when I sewed on many, but probably not sufficient, sequins and M inserted the coat hanger to provide the tail with some shape.
Handed over house and cats to in-laws. Then off north, via Clumber Park for tea and the A66 for weather, to my Pa's and thence to Glasgow.
Good con. LL happy in the creche and equally happy hanging out with M in Green Room. The Ravens, as ever, happy to be watching plenty of programme and knitting a sock. Bought books and jewellery--quelle surprise!--and drank good beer. LL enjoyed the masquerade despite the late hour (for her).
Returned home via The Borders, Hexham, the A69 and West Cumbria, followed by A66, Appleby Castle (closed, but a fine teashop in town), Burgh Castle (hailstorm), Ripon ( a fine and welcoming Abbey) and Clumber for tea. At home, garden and surprise wendy house not finished (work signed off by LL on Saturday evening). See, lots of work done, without my presence mainly or participation except in the provision of refreshments.
Today, via a small amount of gardening yesterday and a grand prix, I'm on my own for the first time in three weeks. Peace. My choice of radio. Pile of ironing looms, as does swimming (LL) and gym.
... for children's shoes that don't last out the season. Looby Loo's had a seam going on her boots for a month or so. On Thursday the tag came off one of the zips, so she struggles to undo that boot and can't do it up without help.
My heart sank at this point: it's March, and a cold one at that, but the shops are already filling up with summer stuff. I held out little hope that I'd find winter shoes or boots--ones that are suitable for school and not damaging to growing feet (I know I'm asking the impossible)--in the right size and reasonably acceptable to both older (yup, I've turned into my mother) and younger shopper. So, it's...
... to Clarks who had sufficient shoes that LL had a choice (even with her duck feet). Even more impressively, they had a pair of beautiful suede lace-ups, in a maybe less than practical pink, that LL decided she liked best. So she's finally, in one day, learned to tie laces.
It's also a quiet thumbs up to the store designers and shelf stackers for locating the sale of adult winter boots in such a way that I couldn't fail to find the beautiful, but rather impractically high, lace up boots in a 4 1/2. Adult half sizes, whoopee! And if I keep quiet, and throw away the worn out black chuckas (and wear the blue suede ones instead--obvious jokes will be ignored!), no-one will notice that the boot collection's well over the double figure mark. (Can't do a rainbow... yet.)</p?
Prompted by lark_ascending's comment about their love at first sight (if that's the way to put it?) experience with some books, I was beginning to muse about my methods of finding new authors, when not following other folk's recommendations or reviews: my browsing methods. These were, I'd always thought, pretty unexceptional. All the same, when I've mentioned them to folk they've not been unanimously in agreement. In fact, some quirks were deemed to be actually morally reprehensible methods of selecting books (and probably other things in life, tho' my strategies vary according to what I'm seeking).
So here, to my shame, are some confessions of bad book buying and book owning habits (in no particular order, although alphabetical would probably be virtuous):
- I read the last page in the book shop. Always.
I honestly can't think of a better way of choosing a book about which I otherwise know nothing. If I don't want to get to that last page, why bother starting?
- I read the first page with my proof reading eyes in. Always.
If I find a typo, I put the book back on the shelf. This applies equally to authors I don't know--Alastair Reynold's Revelation Space I rejected several times because of the misuse of the word "crescendo" on one of its opening pages--and to old friends--there's a Brian Stableford (don't know which one, can't check, see mood below) I didn't buy for ages, despite my love of his writing, because there was some horrid misspelling or substitution on the first page.
- If it's got a thick, black spine I'm almost always sold.
Well, it's probably why I gave in on Revelation Space (which I eventually acquired and enjoyed). It's also my excuse for *whispers* Stephen Donaldson. One of them. I've made many over the years. I am unrepentant.
And yes, for several years, I shelved all the black-spined books separately, above the head of my bed. (Now I just display the Folio Society volumes more prominently than the random books of humour folk have gifted and I can't quite persuade us to get rid of).
- I can't get rid of, even unwanted, books. Ever.
Some things smack too much of sacrilege. Period.
- I overbuy books.
The result of which is the unread piles. These fester against a party wall so they don't even pass for extra insulation.
That's me done. In the spirit of mutual filthy(-ish) confession, what bad book buying/book owning habits do other folk have--and are willing to own up to?
I've often wondered how one finds favourite authors, how they leap out still unread from the mass of other writers we pass by, whether on bookshelves at home, or in libraries or bookshops. It's all the more intriguing watching the process going on for someone else.
I'm in the middle of cataloguing, sorting and shelving the books as they come back from the cellars of Cherry Hinton and this entails piles of dusty tomes lying around the place. Accidentally, during the process of moving out of the way of builders and then out of the house during reflooring and decorating, odd volumes popped up in strange places. I'll never quite know how In Viriconium ended up on Looby Loo's desk (nor how I found it in the clutter of Hama and dissected sheets of paper and Skoobidoos that breed there). Amongst the various piles of unpacked an LT-ed paperbacks this afternoon, I built a small footing of M John Harrisons. Looby Loo picked up the top one--A Strom of Wings--and said "I love it" in that I will brook no argument: this is how the world is and ever shall be tone of voice that would have me doubled-up with laughter except she'd be hurt. Somehow, out of all the piles and heaps and crates, these are the books she's choosing. Perhaps I should leave a copy of Light lying around prominently: she might finish it.
So, before adding it to the pile of books to read to her, I'd better check A Storm of Wings is suitable. There's no hurry: I got her hooked on the Clive Merrison starring Sherlock Holmes adventuress on BBC7 over half term, so we're reading those first.
But, why? How? Will the attraction survive the encounter with the texts within?
Interesting thoughts about composting biodegradable sanitary protection. Is it worth investing in a wormery for this, I wonder. Most of our other compostable waste goes into our green bin since there's currently no gardening activity to use compost on.
There are, I suppose, two considerations:
- Effort: am I (and it will be me!) willing to tend to the worms instead of just putting all the compostable waste in the convenient green bin?
- Cost: there's an initial investment of c. £80 (is that about right? it's a figure I remember from somewhere, but I know there are folk out there who'll know) for perhaps ten years or so (based on my age and family history) when there's the extra feminine waste in addition to the potato peelings et al.
Little finally made it back to the vee ee tee, was x-rayed--both her foot and her dodgy shoulder. One toe fully healed, the vee ee tee is a little worried about how close to the outside edge of the bone the second pin is, but that's all the more reason for leaving the pins in. There's a something floating around in her left shoulder joint, probably explaining the odd tightness in her walk and the occasional, non-car-inflicted limp. Nothing more to do for now. Much relief.
Builders still on course to start in a week's time.
Xmas will be at Sutton Hoo. Looby Loo exceedingly pleased. (I'd not risked telling her where we'd thought of going until it was booked.) Xmas shopping progressing too.
The result of my 'flu-ey stuff is joints very bad, exhaustion, and limbs that feel as if they've been bunged in boiling oil, and dermatitis. Just in time for festivities and visits :-(
And I'm now entirely addicted to ( cut for spurious tension )
Ouch. Immediate cramp in the left calf this morning--birthday--"The heating's making a funny noise," says M leaping (-ish!) out of bed in order to discover the spurting valve that needed fixing--to--We broke our record and totalled a nit comb in less than one use--me!
But the day's looking up. I took my new, cutesy, white fake fur* handbag (which was my early birthday present to me) into town, did a few errands and bought salmon and ingredients for trifle (I really don't feel like a cake, but trifle, that's another matter).
I have cards--with cats--and emails--with cats. If not felicity, we're striving for felinity.
And it looks as if the plan to decamp to somewhere more interesting, and not too distant, for Xmas might happen. Now to check if Sutton Hoo's still available.
* Bag to be kept out of Biggle's way, since it probably falls into the broad category of white soft toy and is therefore liable to be um... mounted. The tally thus far is one white teddy bear with a suspiciously nipped neck and fur missing err... elsewhere, one white soft kitten in a similar condition and at least one attempt on a pale pink ball of yarn.
Sitting in front of the PC for more than a few minutes at a time brings back the ache under my ribs. But I'm up, washed, dressed for the first time since Saturday evening. I will be venturing out to pick Looby Loo up from school this afternoon.
Not better, but functioning.
More cheerfully, I got yarn. More yarn? Yup. More sock yarn, from Curious Yarns, 'cos I named Sloe. It's a delicious shade, very reminiscent of fingers stained with sloes from pricking them prior to steeping them in gin. Looby Loo took one look and decided she wanted socks in purple as well as the pinks she's already due to get. (The plan is to get a pair finished for her Xmas stocking.)
I also got some strange BPAL scents via eBay which I shall sample properly when I feel a little brighter.
Almost like an early birthday.
I only ordered Saturday night, so sock yarn from Curious Yarns was a surprise arrival this morning (I'm exceedingly grateful to hobbitblue for pointing the site out). Soft, beautiful skeins. Plus the cute little animal stitch markers. And sweets in amongst the wrapping: Looby Loo, having admired the Candy yarn I've bought to do socks for her, took a sweet off to school and left Biggle-the-Cellophane-and-Plastic-Bag-
Such a lovely package all round. It's made me feel more like salvaging stuff and starting anew. So, I've found a box (not hard, since I seem to acquire them), ex-Culpepper's I think, and I've dusted off my favourite needlecase, my scissors keep with my mother's needlework scissors, the little bag of safety pins. I've put a circle of felt into the bottom of the box the stitch markers came in and added my first three to the new ones. The result is neat, portable and mostly stuff I've embroidered myself.
The box is not full. What else should I add for temporary, easy access for embroidery, knitting, and mending of clothes?