January 28, 2011
Is it really 80 cat years since I left the family home and Charlie, our beautiful grey tabby moved in? Today he left us, without a voice and without a fight. He’d been on the way out and he knew it.
So did we. Thankfully we were able to prepare Lily that this day was coming, and a few weeks back we already had the ‘do animals go to Heaven?’ discussion.
When I had to tell her today that Charlie was dead, she was not moved. Even when Joseph repeated dedededed insensitively and pulled himself up where she was sitting and I tried to help her understand he wasn’t going to be at Grandma and Grandad’s again. She thought she might write a letter with Beaky the imaginary dog (who was briefly a cat this afternoon), from Grandad to tell us that Beaky was poorly. I really don’t think she’s fully taken it in. I used bathtime to talk about it again, but even her hairwash didn’t make her cry.
She’s a tough little kitten at times. Bit like old Charlie-boy. I’m sorry to see him go, but at least he is no longer in pain.
November 9, 2010
Certain dates this year did not escape my attention, but I did not blog on them – apparently dad still remembers the date of his heart attack just over four years ago and there is little now I can add when the fifth anniversary of Grandad’s death passed shortly before that. There have been other difficult anniversaries recently but also good anniversaries such as our seventh wedding anniversary. It will soon be Christmas.
But today is also an anniversary; as dad put it to me today, it is three years since I became a parent. Ironically, already the longest continuous employment I have found myself in and certainly the one I intend to be working on for the rest of my life. My little girl is suddenly three, or 36 months if you are a connoisseur of toys for pre-schoolers. For her it has been an even more eventful time. While some people spent the last three years of their lives reading such ridiculous subjects at University as Croatian, Middle Egyptian, Hebrew or Koine Greek (or even all four), Lily has devoted her time to learning English, which is far harder. She has also been learning about Sociology (don’t push), Politics (say sorry) and Geography (where did you leave it?) and her grasp of Literature (you had the comic last night) is telling. We have been working on Leitmotifs in Fantasy Genre in Children’s Media (the tooth fairy) and regularly explaining certain aspects of Anatomy (they won’t wobble until you are 6). History sometimes appears on the curriculum (what did we do yesterday?) and Geometry, while limited at present to what wheels on buses do, is turning a corner. Metaphorically, that is. On a good day we cover Food Technology (don’t touch that, it’s hot/sharp/tasty) or Art (don’t touch that, you’re wet/sticky/painty) but many days we just do Media Studies and hope that in another 24 months or less our nearest school will not be too upset at her progress to date.
At least she is now deemed sufficiently responsible that she will no longer place objects of questionable size in her earnoseandthroat. And old enough to start having to pay to go to more activities. Maybe we will have to introduce Finance and Economics into the curriculum. No wonder there’s never enough time to blog.
October 17, 2010
I don’t personally know the way to the San Jose mine or its workings, but I’m glad others did and that some ground-breaking rescuing went on this week in the Operation San Lorenzo. When I was briefly an engineer, I was told that if you looked up Boring in the Yellow Pages, you were advised to See Under Civil Engineering. Unfortunately for urban mythology, said text no longer prints this little gem. Unfortunately for boring, sometimes in life you have to prove that you are more than your name.
Boring it was not. I cried when I saw my first live miner emerge. It was on a par with watching a birth, and had shocking parallels. There was a long wait, nervous expectant families, then a body emerging head first, checks for vital health, loud screams, and all the rest. I guess babies rarely greet daylight with sunglasses on, but perhaps Oakley have missed a major marketing opportunity here: a little Acornley line for 2011 is in the offing I am sure.
Now the dust is settling, people are curious about all the things they should know better not to be curious about. How many women can one miner need? Is a proposal more serious for having taken place under duress? What is the right pronounciation of Chile? Did they leave anything important behind in the mine? What is the Queen really going to do with her piece of Copiapo?
I am curious about how I would have fared if stuck with 32 of my colleagues or friends at any given time in a similar predicament. I am certain I would not have had the survival know-how that the group leaders relied on. I would not have even known where the tin can opener was kept or what to do if there wasn’t one. I would hope that I would have been part of the solution rather than the problem, perhaps in terms of group harmony and thinking of ways of passing time. However, I know I am no saint, and would have had my rocky moments too. I would have been grateful for the variety of those around, so that there would have been others to support and be supported by.
Another parallel I cannot ignore is that of redemption. The miners, dependent on being rescued by others could do no more than make loud noises and petitions in the hope someone would realise their need. Seemingly abandoned away from life and all that is good, they had to trust and hope that rescue would come. Rescue for all, saint or sinner. It matters little whether preacher or scoundrel. All needed rescuing. The palomas that sent good things kept them inspired and sustained. Paloma is the Spanish for Dove, as I understand it. The process of rescue involved much cost and for others to descend to where the miners were, to give them the chance of freedom. The parallels go on. I wonder how many books will be written about it. For now, here is a clip which got me thinking, especially after chatting with dad about the words on the shirts of the freed miners.
September 23, 2010
That is, avoiding saturated fats and alien life-forms.
September 18, 2010
There is Something I believe I know more than the Pope about. And I have been instituted into this Something for very nearly seven years. So it is officially time for an itch. I offer this itch free to tax payers in the UK. Actually, I don’t really offer this on my own, because it has been a joint effort, blessed by God every step of the way.
6 years and 363 days ago we got ‘itched.
I was showing our children our wedding DVD this afternoon and giggling at how daddy had changed in seven years, and explaining that no, Lily wasn’t there, and no, nor was Joseph, and yes, you might be finding this bit boring but daddy can help you go to the toilet this time, I want to see this. With the benefit of an extra 2555 days (as of today) I see now how young and determined we were.
We are still determined, but slightly less young. There are things about the wedding I would change, but I would never change Matthew. He has been my best friend and team-mate for long enough now that I can ask ‘how many leap years have we been married?’ and he knows immediately and we can both laugh about it. He willingly takes our son outdoors time after time to calm him or our daughter to the toilet. Most nights he does her bath, which has resulted in her not knowing how to pronounce the word the same way I do. He does not have any complaints about being told he is going to his mother-in-law’s quilting exhibition, and will happily set about installing new inlet valves in old cisterns. I do not understand inlet valves, but I did find a bit that came off, which I was told made all the difference: often the way with DIY at ours. He reads the ‘destructions’ and buys the tools and parts and I play with things and make it work. Teamwork. He calls us ‘Team R’ and I agree. We are a team.
We talk about a lot. In the absence of opportunity to go out on Monday we may just stay in and chat. One of our longstanding magnetic phrases is ‘always room for words’. Another is ‘grow strong together’. There is nothing we cannot talk about, but we do try and talk about important things before settling down for the night because you cannot plan, resolve or listen properly at stupid o’clock. Communication is like glue in marriage and is the only word I find myself recommending to newlyweds. Likewise, as Christians, praying together and involving God in the big and small things of our life. Grace at each meal and prayer for our children and immediate concerns at bedtime.
Having had our second child and with decisions about both our careers hovering about, life is not straightforward at the moment, but we are both well aware of the journey aspect of marriage. Broken sleep due to young children will not be forever.
And broken machines seem to be part of the territory at this point: my dad warned me about this years back. He said that the reason some people got a seven year itch in their marriage was because the warranties on machines bought at the time as the wedding have run out and the machines start doing that too (possibly all at the same time), on top of busy lives and a couple of young kids. I get this, and therefore the need to prioritise. To celebrate and protect our family life we have had to make sacrifices for what matters. But they are not to be regretted. Even now when work opportunities come my way I have to assess them in the light of family life and prioritise my children and my marriage.
We know far more about each other than we did 7 years ago, and understand each other so much better. We also love each other much more deeply and with great respect and trust. We have travelled countless miles, laughed at any number of silly things and experienced the wonder and shock of becoming parents together. We have enjoyed the trivial and planned the exciting. We have created our own home with its own running jokes and stories. We still haven’t got cards for each other for Monday, or anything containing copper or wool (or copper wool for that matter) but we are comfortable in knowing that we can put a big celebration on hold and enjoy spending time together.
There are always going to be things that itch. We wind each other up daily, mostly without trying. We also make sure there is nothing to be angry about when we go to bed.
It doesn’t matter if there is an itch. Just don’t scratch it.
July 22, 2010
This weekend just gone I spent some time catching up with a few members of my family.
By family, I mean my husband and our children. And my parents, my sister, brother, sister-in-law, nephew and niece.
Also 3 uncles, 3 aunts, 8 cousins, 6 partners, 7 cousins’ children (not including any unborn), 2 cats and a dog.
I am not sure I can claim to be related to the cats or dog, and the partners are not blood-related (hopefully), but it made for a very impressive field of folk, all of whom I am grateful to be connected to and am enormously proud of. Many of those attending actually weathered a wet and very windy Welsh field for two nights. Tents were even blown away, but the joy was not. Instead we sacrificed a lamb in the finest Patagonian style and flew kites and shaped balloons and wrote on slate borders and bounced and laughed and released lanterns and drank and ate and danced and celebrated that most joyous of states – being together.
I cannot imagine anything better than to be together with the ones you love in a safe and beautiful environment. To me, this is a preview of heaven. Of course, each of us have other family spread across other parts, but our clan gathering was really rather special. I am so glad we did it, and genuinely look forward to doing a similar thing again in the future.
May 10, 2010
Here’s the thing. I do not believe Gordon Brown ever truly wanted to be re-elected as prime minister this time around. Why?
Because he would be charged with clearing up a nasty economic mess. And even the great Gordinho is not up to that kind of trick. Prudence won’t come out to play today. The repercussions to his political party would be more disagreeable than a Revolution. Hello, Goodbye. What would the end of the Labour Party birth?
Look at their fighting tactics. Team GB do not make use of Blair, except to remind everyone how orange he is (subtle message: vote for Clegg). Gordon is heard ‘off the record’ making the kind of comment any one of us might be caught out making, but apologises profusely. This draws attention to his weaknesses. Many of us might reckon on a leader sticking to his guns. ‘I don’t want to spoil the party’? His own MPs begin shouting for him to get back, before anyone else has had the chance to get forward. And then, in historic debate in front of millions, he makes a point of agreeing with Nick (not so subtle message: vote for Clegg).
What does all this Labour produce? I did notice the other day how Brown and Cameron are both names one might give a child (depending on one’s allegiances and class, perhaps), but Clegg is not. Unless perhaps you are governor of Alaska. Or a paperback writer.
And Clegg is the only party leader so far who is reasonably sure of a place in the cabinet. As well as the one with the longest neck. Act naturally.
Dad has a theory that Brown will have to step down and the next PM could be Harriet Harman. To be fair, this idea came about before votes were counted, but it is worth thinking about. Perhaps there will be no Con-Lib pact at the end of this long and winding road, and Gordon will get by with a little help from his friends. Or, more likely, they can work it out without him. I suspect that would suit everybody fine.
Good day, Sunshine.
April 6, 2010
I have two confessions to make.
One is that I am a Liar, and a Bad one at that. And don’t go using Logic on me. If Person A says they never lie and Person B says they always lie, should you believe either of them when they state whether the other would lie: that sort of thing. I told a lie last Thursday that resulted in my parents being woken at some unearthly hour (8:00 am I heard) and nearly got me sent a double bouquet of flowers for the imaginary twins that I announced to a large portion of my family. At last count something in the region of three uncles and two cousins were convinced to my knowledge, despite unlikely names, impossible timings and an image of not-quite-newborn twins which a short google image search provided. Maybe there were more (it would be interesting to know!)
I feel bad. But I did make a lot of people laugh, and as joy is one of the great things in life (spiritual and otherwise) I do hope that a small amount of untruth can be taken in context. We all need to be fooled from time to time, and if people genuinely take me seriously much of the time I hadn’t realised the power and responsibility that held. Hmm. I expect it’ll all come back to haunt me when I meet up with many of the family in the summer.
The second confession is that I have miscalculated Lily’s heritage and needed to be corrected by my mother. Lily is not one-eighth Cornish. She is one-sixteenth. This is a lot less pasty than I had reckoned on. It also made me draw a diagram with concentric circles representing each generation, with double the ‘slices’ in each one. All this proved was that the other sixteenths were mostly a mystery to me. Although I am certain Lily’s great-great-grandparents were all born in England, I cannot place more than three of them without more research. Possibly more pregnancy forgettory, but I suspect there is more to it: I just don’t know. But then I don’t know quite a lot these days.
Unlike a certain Alex Guttenplan, who I think ought to be our next Prime Minister. He gets my vote solely on the basis that he was prepared to correct Jeremy Paxman, who claimed he had guessed an answer on the way to winning University Challenge last night for a local university team. If you can stand up to someone called Jeremy you must be a good egg. And knowing a few facts can’t help* either in politics.
We have made progress on the colour of the front door though. I decided something sage green might be nice, so chose something else (I am not certain why), which looks blue in some lights and green in others. Farrow and/or Ball call it Green Blue. Or Blue Green. I forget and cannot reach the thingy any more. Anyway, after a few days of doubt having put the first coat on, the walls of the house have now been painted something in the region of magnolia, which has meant that Green by Green Blue is actually quite a good choice. Dad suggested it looks like Cambridge Blue. In which case I feel personally responsible for helping our local university out in both the TV quiz last night and the boat race last Saturday and would like to take some of the credit.
You can rest assured that I will not be running for parliament, calculating inaccurate heritage statistics or announcing any more April Fool jokes for at least another 360 days. I have other things to work on, and having washed the microwave and de-cobwebbed every vertex in the house today I hope and suspect the next job may involve producing and sustaining a newborn for the foreseeable future.
* Errata – for help read hurt…
March 23, 2010
Maybe it’s because I’m an Intuitive Introvert, but I do like leaving things until the last minute. I have a feeling baby Bean may be the same. Finally I have a bump I am proud of, and which leaves me unable to put socks on without real effort. Sometimes when I look down to pick Lily up I cannot see her. I have developed a huge urge to eat, and when I am not eating, to have a light snack or something. As a result, my new name is shown above. Catchy. 99% of people who see me call me this at the moment. I am not yet sure what the most polite response is, and am less and less inclined to search for it. I mean, I’m due in 9 days time and some people who see me regularly are still surprised to discover we are expecting. This makes me sad. I don’t feel like a proper mother.
Leaving things until the last minute is not a trait I am proud of, but it is definitely part of who I am. It explains the burst of DIY and building on the kitchen over 2007, and the work we’ve been doing on the windows, door, painting and moving rooms round this year. It explains why I can spend 2 weeks researching a topic and put it all together in one night. At a pre-ordained time, I gather up my conclusions, make decisions and take action.
This would be a good point in my pregnancy therefore, for me to have sussed out all that needs to happen for the labour and early days of Bean’s life as a regular, breathing human being. However, looking at my ‘still to do’ list I notice that the teddy still does not have a name (Bean has a short-list, and no, we are not discussing it). Also the nursery does not look spotless yet. Or for that matter, anywhere else in the house, although were I able to reach every last bit of dust (or pay someone to), you can be assured that baby Bean would arrive in a world cleaner than a hospital with a politician visiting. You know, I think a newborn would appreciate that. My hormones tell me so.
Talking of hospitals, I saw yesterday that the chap who invented beta-blockers died. I am eternally grateful to people who have provided such clever medicines following dad’s heart attack. It is not something I would be able to do myself.
Ok, time to waddle off and think about doing a spot of cleaning. After a quick bite.
March 18, 2010
I asked the decisive person in the family (see this post) today what colour she wanted the new front door to be, and she wants the old one back. Or, failing that, black.
So she doesn’t count.
I also asked mum and dad, who are concerned that we could use it to show allegiance to a political party, football team or university college. Another dead end. What do people read into this? I live in Ipswich, where half the doors are Oxford Blue on inspection. But it is a Labour seat. I suspect ITFC has a lot to answer for. Mum thought Norwich colours might be a bit radical. I suppose so, but am grateful that it wasn’t an early Victorian trend to go for Canary Yellow and Easter Green on one’s portal to the world.
I am wondering about choosing something remotely National Trust, say from Farrow & Ball, but don’t want to send the message ‘please burgle me’. I had liked the trendy grey that has been springing up everywhere (apparently derived from primer, according to the Telegraph). But we already have reclaimed brass fittings, so that is not such a clever idea. We also have to consider what colours we might like in the glazing. Hmm.
This decision has to happen tonight, unfortunately. The painter popped over today with samples and can put on the undercoat in the morning.
So I really ought to stop doing this and get on with it. Ideas gratefully received, as ever, or we end up with ‘pregnant hormonal pink’ or Cath Kidston. Interesting thought…