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Saturday, 19 December 2009

holidaze

woke up
coffee
walked dog
lounged/read
breakfast
lounged/read
bath/read
lounged/read
walked to town to buy veggies and chocolate
lounged/read (ate veggies and chocolate)
napped (dropped book whilst sleeping)
talked to mom on phone
lounged/read
caught up on current series of QI on iplayer
bed/read
sleep
*happy sigh*

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

ps i learned a new word today

mardy

from wikipedia:

"As a word
  • Mardy is a word in some dialects of English meaning: awkward; un-co-operative; bad tempered; whiney; aloof; stroppy, sulking like a small child. Its usage tends to be more common around, but not exclusive to Mansfield, Nottingham, Derby & Leicester (ie the East Midlands), Sheffield and Staffordshire. It is often used in phrases such as mardy bum, mardy cow, mardy bugger, mardy mustard, mard-arse.... etc"
the context i heard it in:

Project manager 1: "she wants to know about the blinds. She's going all mardy about it"

Project manager 2: "well she can keep going mardy - this is not a priority in anyone's books..."

negligence

yup i know.
you can fill in the blanks but for the record, not just busy - crazy insane busy!
with bells on.
should be slowing down slightly now. down to just one project on the go, and the prospect of a 2 week holiday - just the thing to write my 4000 word paper for my international financial consititionalism class. yeah baby. no time for pronouns.
or, y'know, blogging.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Friday, 6 November 2009

balancing the books

i read something in the paper last weekend - i think in the money section, another article about how the recession is hitting men harder than women (if you count this only in terms of job losses), and how some women were now the primary earners in their relationships and how stressed out this made them feel.

at the time i thought, 'huh', (direct quote), and read the rest of the paper, but it's been niggling. for one thing, what a completely hetero-normative analysis. for another thing, the guardian (the paper in question) continually trots out this sort of gender stuff without questioning it and it's really getting on my nerves.

but it also made me think - wait a minute - i've been the primary earner in my relationship for ages - i've earned more than my partner for at least a decade and for the last few years we have lived solely on my income. am i supposed to feel stressed out about this? maybe i do and i just hadn't realised. goodness knows i have enough to be stressed about - it would be plausible to mis-attribute sometimes. as you can see, i can be very suggestible at times.

i've thought about it off and on for a few days, and i've come to the conclusion that no, i don't feel stressed out about it in the least. but it still niggled.

this evening, i was updating my budget spreadsheet. i have to keep track of everything - it's the only way to make things work and make sure we spend money on what we want to, not just piddle it away on wine and take-outs (not to mention books - ahem.) i balanced out the spreadsheet against my online account and checked that we were on track for this month and next month. we are, i smiled, and logged out of my account.

then it hit me - what i feel about being a primary earner isn't stress, it's pride. kind of what men, when questioned, often say they feel.

why wouldn't women feel the same way? why shouldn't they?

Friday, 30 October 2009

new carpet!!!

old carpet:




new carpet: (with gratuitous laser eye dog)



it's not patterned. it's soft and squishy. it's positively dreamy. to paraphrase jan and dean, i'm in love with the new rug in school.

when we came to the oast to pick up the keys all those years ago, we were met with the startling sight of a man on his hands and knees carefully cutting out a burn mark (old tenants apparently did not believe in ironing boards). he was filling this in with a piece of carpet that our new landlord proudly informed us he had kept from his original fit out. you know, back in 1970 something. we didn't say anything because frankly we just wanted the keys and the moving van was coming the next day but as we walked back to the train station we were both like WTF??? this was without a doubt the ugliest carpet we had seen in a house ever. and this guy kept a piece for repairs?

turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg but we love our oast. the landlord, john, died several years ago, and his wife is much more pragmatic. we have been extraordinarily lucky with our housing and with our landlords. and best of all, the hated carpet is now consigned to someone's allotment.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

seen on train last night



i first saw this guy on the tube - it was packed and this man had tons of luggage and this giant stuffed bear. then he ended up sitting in the seats across from me on my train home to kent. just before i got off i asked him if i could take a picture of his bear and he smiled and said "of course".

it's crazy busy at the moment - big projects at work, tough move this weekend with some serious crap going down (literally - building manager wouldn't allow me to use the lifts so my poor, but very strong and tough removal men had to take everything down the stairs, and then the plans were wrong and i was short 25 metres of filing. arggghhh).

classes started last week too - my class this year is fantastic - i'm so excited about it.

but now, tired. i need to go to bed, but i've only been home for 2 hours and i want to stay up! i feel like a five-year-old. if i were a dog, i'd be on the second turn just before i flop over and fall asleep half way across my bed.

thump.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

???

from yesterday's Guardian:

Three pensioners were today jailed for up to nine years for their part in a £60m cannabis smuggling operation. Derek Mercer, 70, of south Norwood, south-east London, was sentenced to eight years; John Rowe, also 70, of Bethnal Green, east London, got seven years; and Wattie Soutter, 68, of Rotherhithe, south-east London, received nine-and-a-half years. The cannabis, disguised as frozen chickens, was imported from the Netherlands to Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. Police recovered two tonnes of the drug, and the court heard there had been 12 previous shipments. Two accomplices were also jailed.

emphases mine, of course.

Friday, 2 October 2009

happy october

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Sunday, 27 September 2009

book reorganisation

not mine, blessedly. mine are perfectly (un)organised. but this made me laugh so hard i almost spilled my wine in the bath!

lucy mangan on reorganising her books with her husband:

We work for a while in silence. Eventually the room is mazed with books. "It looks like postwar Europe," he says as we unpack the final box. "Borders mean nothing any more, and everyone is looking to a higher authority to help them out. So… what kind of system are you planning on? Simple alphabetical order? Chronological within alphabetical? Maybe a moderated form of Dewey Decimal? I do most of mine by publisher, but then the colophon was my only childhood friend."

"None of the above," I say. "It goes 'Fiction', 'Non-fiction'. Read and unread within each of those. Within each 'unread' there will be 'Really want to read', 'Quite want to read', 'Not quite sure why I bought this' and 'Accidentally bought this twice – this is the spare.' Then a shelf for 'Lovely books' – that's my Folio Societies and my Persephones and occasional other volumes whose beauty trumps their read/unread status. And here, maybe on a special shelf all of its own, I'm going to put Bridget. And call it social history. OK?"

Friday, 18 September 2009

up late

ha - not even midnight! years past this was considered going out hour. how things change. now it's the latest i've been up in about 6 weeks (excluding lisbon of course). working weekends kills your night life.

my night life tonight is solitary - n's gone to bed. not quite solitary - humph is perturbed that his nocturnal idyll is being disturbed in such reckless fashion and is harumphing and rolling his eyes.

i am looking forward to two glorious days off and it has completely gone to my head. it's the secret joy of working weekends - when you work loads in a row, and have one off, it feels like heaven.

here's some pics from the day - this is looking out the window of the Town Hall Extension, Camden at St Pancras in the sunset-


this is re-patching the comms cab for the move:


humph has given up and gone to sleep - and i will too - soon -

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

autumn

it's very very autumn today. it rained all day. it's dark.

sigh.

and this from someone who loves autumn. generally. when it's not being boorish and cracking dumb jokes and whispering behind your back. flirting with raindrops and howling with mirth.

and knitting is hard, goddamit.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

my life at work

from a fantastic TED talk (check them out) by Emily Levine:

a girl is in the car with her elderly mother driving when she goes through a red light. the girl,worried about her mother's reaction, doesn't want to say anything (like - what are you doing - you're too old to drive) so she keeps quiet. her mother goes through a second red light. the girl says, tentatively, "mom - do you realise you just went through two red lights?" the mother looks at her in alarm and says, "what?? i'm driving???"

btw i am the girl in this analogy. i think i am, anyways

update

well i aced the move (heh heh heh - take that you silly techy people who thought i couldn't pull it off - you have underestimated me and showed your nefarious intentions too soon - round one: me). and yeah, i'm feeling a little smug about it. generally that means i am about to fail in a hitherto unimaginably spectacular fashion. i'll keep you posted.

i also put together the first edition of the new east kent rape line newsletter! in a 70 hour week! i'm quite pleased about that. it's badly designed, but for a first go - hey, it's better than nothing, and i will improve. i enjoyed it immensely so i think this will be much more fun than pain. it has also made me feel much less guilty about quitting helpline volunteering.

our team, "drink canada dry", came in second in the pub quiz on monday. we would have won but we were tired, slightly giddy, got a bit drunk, and didn't really pay tons of attention at a few critical junctions.

i have not started my knitting. i will though. i swear. soon.

h is snoozing in the doorway in his well-researched most-likely-to-be-tripped-over position and n is making a green thai chicken curry that smells so good that in a moment i will actually go into the kitchen and eat it straight out of the pot. no - not really. i'll wait, then inhale it at the table and burn off the roof of my mouth. ah the perils of greed.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

knitting



i am about to embark on my first proper knitting project - a hat. ostensibly for n but i would wager that the chances of this hat being remotely wearable are rather slim and we will probably be chalking this one up to a "learning experience". this has not stopped me from buying yarn! and nice bamboo knitting needles! (i really wanted to write chopsticks there - hmmm - freudian? like the joke - how many freudian psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb? answer - two - one to change the lightbulb and the other to hold his penis --- i mean ladder)

my friend k has been a patient goddess in teaching me and is forever calm in my various knitting crises. and i just found out our other neighbour, b, also knits! i am surrounded by wisdom. phew.

in other news work is manic. gigantic move this weekend and the politics are going insane. never fails. and this morning, 4 out of 5 lifts were broken down. have you ever tried to get 450 crates to the fourth floor of a building at 9 am with 600 staff all vying for the same (almost definitely soon-to-be-collapsing-under-the-strain) lift? i don't particularly recommend it.

and yes, i realise in that last sentence my numerical references were all over the place. sod it.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

lisbon



last saturday we attended our friends' wedding. in lisbon. ahhhhhh. i will never get tired of the wonder, the sheer amazement of being able to go to these magic other places for a weekend. just like that. all casual-like. the wedding was beautiful - tasteful and classic, in a beautiful botanical garden in the late afternoon sun. there was more food than i think i've ever seen before in one setting. there was a cheese buffet :) :) :)

and lisbon was fantastic. charming. not show-off-y at all, but warm and inviting - and oh - those custard tarts - oh my! we were staying two doors down from the belem cake shop and started each morning with a dose of espresso and custard tarts that left us reeling out of the shop in pupil-dilated, sugar-laden ecstasy.



lisbon still has the old trams with their wooden paneling and hand brakes that screech as they tear down cobbled streets at a speed which starts fast and picks up pace as gravity takes hold, blowing cool air in the open windows. it's a city of stairs, and hills. lots and lots of stairs and hills. old buildings with tiled fronts, and all of the sidewalks in black and white tiled mosaics.

we spent a day on the beach as well, waves crashing in on mile upon mile of soft fine white sand. when it got too hot we'd retreat up to a beachside bar for a cold beer and water and some shade.



we were up early on saturday morning and climbed up to the bairro alto - narrow cobbled streets all shuttered, graffiti on every wall. the street was ankle deep in glass and plastic cups, straws and beer bottles, and the remains of hundreds of mojitos. it looked like some kind of party slum - amazing. as we walked up the street we heard water, and cleaners were coming down, bagging everything up and washing down the streets with huge hoses. the before and after was startling. the next night we went back to see what could have caused such devastation. all the shutters were open to reveal small bars, most with live music. restaurants opened up onto the street, tables were perched everywhere, and the whole place heaved with music and dancing. the mojitos were pretty good,too.

now it is back to our regular broadcasts, so to speak. but what a great city!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

ahhh saturday

it's saturday morning - n is doing something clever and talented with music software, h is snoozing, until very recently with his head on my leg while i drank coffee and read - there's a wet patch on my thigh from his nose. it's cloudy but the met office swears it will be sunny later. we need to finish our coffee, grab some breakfast and head out into the fields to get blackberries before it gets too hot to be out in heavy trousers and thick boots and gloves. it seems the best blackberries this year are well defended by nettle patches so precautions must be taken.

we've been drinking elderberry wine that we started this time last year, and it is so good that it has spurred us on to pick lots this year so we have the same pleasure next year. I highly recommend this as a motivational technique, if you can bear to wait long enough.

this is my last free weekend before my project at work kicks off with a series of five weekend moves, all of which i will have to supervise. knowing that makes this weekend particularly sweet and luxurious. it also defends against allegations of laziness and sloth. one must conserve energy after all. although, as my mom pointed out, i am not actually very lazy, i just have different priorities (aren't mothers just fantastic at putting a positive spin on things?!). picking berries for wine is much much more fun than dusting.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

procrastination

goal of weekend: to get organised - put all that paper away, check accounts, find receipts for expenses, file work stuff, put away alarmingly swaying tower of clothing in bedroom, dig out drycleaning from aforementioned tower etc etc.

time spent avoiding the above: 48 hours

time organisation actually took: 45 minutes

i know. i know.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

sometimes you gotta laugh

ah - it has been one of those days - (still is - i just had to retype that as my caps lock was on). the ones where you wake up tired, grab what you thought was a clean shirt only to realise on the train that is the shirt you hung back up because you decided it was no longer good enough to be a work shirt once you dropped a beet on one shoulder (what? this hasn't happened to you??) so you have to keep on your cardigan all day and it's muggy and hot in the office. and it's the day where you find out that "lots of furniture in storage" means "no furniture in storage" so your whole move programme needs to be altered and you have a packed day cause you have to leave early to get to an appointment near home.

you get on the wrong northern line tube because you forgot you were getting on at king's cross and not euston and have to get off at angel and switch and you almost miss the train you left early to catch but you run and just make it and get to your appointment only to realise you have left just enough time - maybe - to catch your train home from your appointment and if you miss it the next one is in an hour not half an hour like you thought because you always forget that. and the thought of an hour before you get home is frankly unbearable. so you power walk like a madwoman and it starts to rain and you get there and the train is delayed anyways and you are muggy and sweaty and just plain exhausted and you no longer care that your shoulder is beet-pink.

and you get home and feel snappy then apologise then say fuck it, i know it is wedensday and we are not drinking during the week (which is going very well and is improving life to no end generally) but sometimes you just need a beer. and then you whack your elbow - right on the funny bone - really really hard when you reach down to get the beer, and then , really, you just have to laugh.

Monday, 27 July 2009

swishy dress

yay for friends who pick up fabulous clothes at charity shops just in case. the case in question turned out to be a wedding we're going to in lisbon in august. and the dress is truly fab - black with white polka dots (about the size of a ten pence piece - the polka dots, not the dress - are you kidding? i am 35 and - if you're being kind - rounded. no flesh exposure here.) it's empire line, so i can eat like the piglet i am and best of all there is absolutely no danger of any bits falling out of said dress - not that this has ever actually happened to me, but the fear of it is always near when you are wearing strapless stuff.

i swore i wouldn't wear a dress to this wedding, not being overly fond of them and flat out (ha ha) refusing to wear heels. but a chic trouser ensemble will involve some sort of cash transaction, which is untenable in the CEC (current economic climate :) ) and best of all, this dress will ball up in the bottom of my backpack and not need ironing. no checked luggage on this trip - just the dress, a swimsuit, a pair of shorts and maybe 2 tshirts. we'll buy towels there.

i can't wait - i feel like i haven't been away in forever - not without an agenda anyways. i loved going home to canada this spring - no doubt about it - but i really really miss these long weekends in a new city. i've never been to lisbon and it looks like so much fun. and of course, the wedding itself will be lovely - i'm not into the wedding thing personally, but hey - if it's what you want, why not? these two are a great pair and i have every hope of happiness for them. anyways i'm getting ahead of myself - i just didn't want to sound like i only cared about ease of dress and wedding banquets! ok you can stop snickering now.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

yarn fetishes

on tues, my friend k is going to attempt to teach me how to knit. in preparation, i went to the yarn shop in town and bought a brightly coloured soft ball of wool that the wise knitting woman assured me would be perfect for a beginner. I figured if the wool was pretty i'd have an easier time refraining from stabbing my own eyes out with the knitting needles in complete frustration at my inability to keep anything vaguely resembling a consistent stitch. (poor k has no idea what she has let herself in for.) i left the wool on the table and went to put away the groceries.

now humphrey, our greyhound, loves all things woolen. you cannot leave out knitted slippers, or scarves, and especially not mittens or gloves as they will rapidly be transported to the depths of his bed to be chewed/sucked/slurped over at his leisure. my fabulous mother crochets afghans and we learned early in our post-humph life to put them away if we wanted to keep them. if we forget and leave them on the couch, he is there like a shot, nesting away. have you ever tried to get dog hair out of an afghan? disgusting. this also explains why sometimes in the winter when people come over they see blankets on the table- left there to keep them out of humph's clutches and then forgotten about until blushes at table-setting time. last christmas mom solved the problem by crocheting humph an afghan of his own, bless her. he does love it but i think the lure of the forbidden plays a part in this as he'll still go for ours, given half a chance.

i'm sure you can work out what happened next.


"what? this wool? honestly, i have no idea how it got here - no siree. leading into my bed you say? lady i don't know what you're talking about..."

i hope k knows how to get it back to a usable ball again.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

summertime

Sunday, 5 July 2009

peace

this time last week, i was madly prepping potatoes and salads, sweeping up the garden, setting up garden furniture and trying (mostly successfully) not to panic. everyone arrived, and we had a lovely day. n's family are a charming and entertaining bunch, and this was the first time they had all seen each other in one place for 35 years.

n's sister and family left yesterday for france, and suddenly the house is quiet again.

and, in all of this chaos, i also had a job interview in london and got the job! i start tomorrow. it's for one of the london councils, so public sector, and it looks pretty straight-forward - managing the moves for several large projects. it's just down the road from my university which will make my life easier come autumn. the people seem very friendly, and i think i'll enjoy working in a less corporate environment. y'know, instead of working my arse off every day for corporations i actively oppose within a system i am ambivalent about at best.

so all change again. it certainly keeps life interesting :)

Thursday, 25 June 2009

the onslaught

we are being inundated with family this weekend, and i can't tell you how delighted i am about it! n's sister, brother-in-law and niece arrive from canada tomorrow, and then on sunday almost all of n's british family will be joining us for a bbq. please, please don't let it rain. they won't all fit in the house. because i'm not working at the moment, i've had time to plot and plan and it has been fun, and probably a good distraction. i love planning parties. i love planning anything, truth be told.

the house has not looked this good (aka clean) since my parents visited in december. it scrubs up well, actually. and n and i are absolutely knackered. we are doingthat thing where you yawn and look at the clock and ask each other if it is too early to go to bed (8:27 - he says yes, i say no).

sweet dreams

Friday, 19 June 2009

a difficult decision

for the past 2 1/2 years, on and off, i've been a volunteer on a rape crisis helpline. on and off, because when projects got too crazy at work, and i had classes and papers too, i couldn't do the line as well. when i first started, i knew i wanted to do something, but i was really scared by the idea of answering calls on the helpline. the training was excellent, though, and i got over my fear, and for the most part i enjoyed volunteering. lots of our callers ring regularly, and you get to know them. sometimes i knew i was able to give information that people needed, and that felt right. and i believe women (this line is women-only - staff, counselors, volunteers are all women) need all the support they can get, especially in dealing with issues like sexual abuse and rape, where open dialogue is often not possible for a number of reasons.

a lot of our more recent volunteers are trained, or training as counselors themselves. hearing them on the line, it seems like they know just what to say. they are a different breed. i'm not all together sure i actually like them sometimes - there's a coldness somewhere i can't quite put my finger on. i never saw myself as a counselor type - in fact, when i found out that was what the helpline was, i thought, uh oh - not for me. maybe i was right.

for the last few months, i've been feeling increasingly uncomfortable on the line. i feel, at the core of it, that i can't offer anything. helpless. i have nothing in me to draw upon - and i can't pretend that i have any idea of anything - a futility of knowledge. a plaster (band-aid) on a sawed-off limb. one of the things that helped me overcome my fear at the beginning was knowing that we were not trained counselors, we were volunteers, and our job was to listen. this now feels really inadequate. i feel like i may have come to the end of my psychic availability, if that makes any sense.

i explained this to my friend j, who is a psychologist. she said people burn out, and that 2 1/2 years is a long time. she's subtle, isn't she?!

so i decided to quit, and that tonight would be my last time. and i felt relieved, which i took as a sign that it was the right thing to do. but then tonight, on the line, i just felt really guilty. all the empty spaces in the "july" rota, the nights that the line hasn't been open because a volunteer couldn't make it, or we just didn't have enough volunteers to fill the rota. am i being selfish? is an incompetent volunteer better than no volunteer at all?

i thought maybe i could offer to do something else - like write a monthly newsletter for all of the volunteers so we/they would feel more connected and up to date on issues, law, etc.

i really don't want to do it anymore. and i feel really bad and really guilty about not wanting to do it anymore.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

gates and fences

before:



after:



two and a half years ago, when humphrey, our greyhound, came to live with us, we put up a temporary barrier to keep him out of our neighbour's garden. it was an amalgamation of an old trellis, several reclaimed fence posts, and an industrial amount of gardening wire. it was not pretty, but it did the trick, kept humph from eating the neighbour's three (3!!!) cats, and anyways we were going to put a proper gate there soon.

in one and a half weeks we are hosting a gathering of n's family, both canadian and british. this has put the fire under us, so to speak, and we are getting things done

oh yes

and we built it ourselves

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

what do you do with 20 kilos of cherries?



you make wine, of course!! what a silly question!

we were planning on making a large batch of cherry wine this year, as cherry wine is one of our favourites, and last year's gallon seemed to evaporate in a most unseemly manner. so imagine our delight, when we found small flats of cherries on sale in our local farm shop! spanish cherries, which is not ideal, but this is wine, not eating, and at this price, spanish will be just fine. in a few days/weeks the british cherries will be out and we will feast on those.

when you have 20 kilos of cherries in your kitchen, your options for what to do with the afternoon become startlingly limited. it took about three hours to de-stem, squeeze, bag and prepare these beauties for their first ferment. in radio four talk, that was all the way from the afternoon play till after the six o'clock news. phew.

this should make about 25 litres of wine, about 30 - 35 bottles. they'll be ready for the new year and will be a welcome reminder of summer in the dark days of january.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

you'll be happy to know

that i've snapped out of sanctimonious self-pitying bullshit mode and have reverted back to my general oh well better get on with it mentality.

these days i am spending my mornings doing job-hunting sort of stuff - emailing long lost colleagues, agencies, trawling through job sites - it's fun, oh yes. that is once i get up - which i have this sort of delusion that i do at 8 am to join n and the dawg for the morning walk. what actually happens is n comes back into our bedroom (he has been up for HOURS at this point) and i sometimes don't wake up at all, or if i do, i mumble, what, 8 o'clock already? and roll over and snooze for another hour, because i can. 11 hours of sleep a night, people. it's a beautiful thing. i haven't slept this much since i was a teenager and i love it.

afternoons are spent foraging (elderflowers at this time of year, soon gooseberries and cherries), running errands, trying out new recipes, like this artisan bread in 5 min a day thing which is cool, or will be once i figure out the right moisture balance so i can make loaves instead of discs.

tonight i taught n how to play dutch blitz, on a pack i rescued, forlorn, from my parents' box of board/card games last time i was in canada. ironically, for a game that i am guessing was designed to keep good mennonites (or whatever) away from evil cards, it will make a great pub game. i'd love to say i trounced him, but he is a quick bastard and picks up on games remarkably quickly.

it's all good, or good enough, anyways.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

well hello

i've begun the inevitable. i've begun looking for paid employment. i've been putting this off, but my inner task master (damn you! DAMN YOU!!!) has demanded action and i have thus coughed up. i have been enjoying my holiday - i have been enjoying my holiday so much that enjoying sounds like some sort of euphemism. i have been reveling, lolling, nay, luxuriating in my holiday.

i was going to write about the horror of hearing my voice slip back into work mode, and the tenseness that came with it, and the feeling of education that comes from finally working out a bit how the whole networking thing works so i'm working names properly (i hope) for a change, but -

ugh

we have to do these things. and believe me, i know i'm lucky to have these things to do. i do know that. it's not just hard work. i was lucky to be born into a family where a work ethic was taught and expected, and where i saw everyone around me work, and work hard, and teach me how to work hard. and my friends and family who support me and are proud of me and cheer me on. i know, and i'm grateful. and i don't mind working hard.

but

our corporate model is corrupt and dangerous, and benefits no one but those lucky enough to be at the top, and i do mean lucky. it's not right. it's not justified. and by participating i am complicit.

so i am proceeding with a heavy heart, like in so many things. is this age? maturity? the gradual weight of your heart until you are stooped and shuffling?

Monday, 25 May 2009

contentment

it's a bank holiday weekend here in the uk (not that this makes much difference to me, unemployed sloth that i am!). the town rugby club always has bands and a beer tent out in the recreation ground next to our house on this weekend. the last two years it has been wet and cold. this weekend has been beautiful, but the weather gods must be down on rugby as the afternoon has ended in thunder-showers of biblical proportions.

we checked out a bit of the music, but mostly were just enjoying hanging out, reading the accumulated papers that i didn't get around to over the weekend, and wallowing in the contentment of a fun weekend with lots of food and wine, old friends and new friends, bbq's and sunshine. i can't remember the last time i was this relaxed.

*happy sigh*

now you must excuse me, i have a packed agenda this evening of sipping wine, picking at the roast chicken carcass, and, if we can be bothered, starting season 5 of the wire.

btw, humphrey really did run through the screen door the day after we put it up. the mesh held, but he broke all three hinges off. we managed to repair it, and it is still hanging, but dog-destruction remains a problem. we have temporarily solved this by putting a small free-standing gate on whichever side of the door humphrey is, but this turned out to be such a pain on saturday's bbq that we ended up propping open the screen door; an open-door policy, if you will, for bugs. we hope that perhaps humph will learn with time but i fear it may be yet another instance of humphrey successfully training his humans.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

screen door!!!!!!!


people - behold - in all its glory, the marvel of a screen door. now i know the canadians among you will be bemused, possibly befuddled by this, but back here in the old country this is cutting edge. spain and italy have screens, so it seems implausible that there is some european moratorium on the use of mesh screening in window and door applications, yet they consistently elude us in the uk. when we have previously enquired about the possibilities of their installation, we are considered mad, and quite possibly dangerous. (see poppy seeds, below. btw - i have since discovered that what the uk calls blue poppy seeds, canadians call black poppy seeds - they are in fact the same thing. thank you geo for clearing that one up.)

we have sighed, and added lack of screenage to our growing list of british eccentricities, joining their brethren of separate hot and cold taps with no mixer tap and the complete absence of plain cheerios (honey nut? check. 4 grain? check. plain? what are you - some kind of freak??? *sigh*)

but the buggies, they continued to fly into our house by their multitudes. fruit flies - arch enemy of the home brewer. something had to be done. i concluded that if i had to buy the damn door in italy and carry it back i would, so long as there was a screen door by summer. as i was hunting online for said door (i'm more of a carry-on girl myself), i found a site that sold screen door kits.

the kit arrived, and it was proper. way too proper for n and i to unleash our grubby mitts all over it. i left strict instructions for n and our friend j, who is diy-inclined, to make the door up while i was gallivanting in canada for several weeks. sadly, screen door construction paled in the light of an empty house, a full bottle of whiskey, and axies and allies. i can't complain, i would have done the same thing.

so today, n and i, inept as we are at anything requiring manual dexterity, tools, measuring, etc etc etc - we girded our loins, we read and re-read, we measured and re-measured (and re-re-measured) and we tackled the kit.

and it went quite well actually.

now for the windows...

Thursday, 30 April 2009

i'm on vacation

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Thursday, 16 April 2009

ha ha - i would never - oh wait.....

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Saturday, 11 April 2009

gosh is that the time?

dear (______),

i'm sorry i haven't written for (days/weeks/months/years).
you know how it is. or you don't. as i understand it, the whole schrodinger's cat thing actually means that without a universal viewpoint, which as humans we do not possess, none of us knows shit. more or less. i paraphrase, obviously.

so what have i been up to, you ask.

well

being between contracts at work (oooh euphemism i adore thee), i have the luxury of angsting full time about the two 4000 word papers i need to hand in next week.

that's fun.

i also have a new camera so i'm taking loads of stupid pics of the dog:









yup. i'm busy.

how 'bout you?

Friday, 20 March 2009

caution - unwarrented rant ahead

i have lived in this wonderful country, england, my adopted land, for 12 1/2 years. and after all this time, there are still occasions where the entire system completely eludes me and i find myself wailing and teeth-gnashingly screaming why? WHY????? WHY IN GODS GOD NAME WOULD YOU EVER EVER SET SOMETHING UP TO RUN LIKE THIS???????????

i have found that the answer to the above question usually has something to do with the fact that the system in question worked perfectly fine in neolithic/norman/edwardian times and the fact that you have a problem with it is probably because you are a new world softie and if you don't like it you can bugger back to where you came from.

but can anyone, anyone explain to me the rationale behind supermarket organisation???? and why there are no goddamn poppy seeds for sale even though you can buy poppy seed buns? and why when you go into a shop and ask for something perfectly normal, like, for instance, poppy seeds, the staff look at you almost pityingly and say, oh no, not here. as if you are perhaps asking for, say, keys to the nearest moon base.

and how, exactly, i am going to make ukranian poppy seed cake without poppy seeds????????? hmph.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

head exploding for all the wrong reasons

how can we be living in a world where the following can be read in the saturday edition of what is generally considered to be a progressive left-ish (though admitedly disgustingly middle-class) national newspaper:
"'i'm sure one of the things that attracted me about harry,' she says, sweetly, 'is that he's a very equal person. it's not like i looked at him and thought 'i want your babies', it's just that he's very fair. i did the lion's share, for sure. i gave up work for a long time, to look after the children. but for a guy, he does a lot, a lot, a lot."

AGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

yesterday, a woman at work who has a very young baby (less than a year) was saying how she took off her hat to any working mother because it was so hard. she explained she worked all day then went home and had all of the laundry, feeding, cooking cleaning to do and by the time she had a minute to herself, it was 11 pm. i asked her why her husband didn't help and she said, oh - he just wouldn't - grew up with a maid, a real momma's boy, wouldn't lift a finger. and she puts up with this. like its some kind of force majeure or something.

what planet do these people live on? one where men turn into fairy dust if they clean a toilet? don't men find this insulting? of course, cleaning sucks. duh. and yes, in a world view where women are not-quite-human, it makes sense for them to do all of it. but if you believe women and men are both equally human, then you'd better be doing your share of the shit shovelling.

Friday, 6 March 2009

hey! happy friday!

Friday, 27 February 2009

women in film

bibi van der zee has an engaging article in the guardian today about sexism in films – it references alison bechdel’s film test – one of her characters won’t watch a film unless it has at least
a) two female characters that
b) have a conversation which is
c) not about a man.

it’s surprising how many films fail this test.

i’m not hugely into film – i enjoy them but usually i can’t be bothered to put in the time commitment – i’d rather read. i wonder if this is part of the reason.

time to check out the birds eye film festival running from 9 - 13 march at the southbank - a film festival showcasing the best female film makers from around the world!

Thursday, 26 February 2009

thanks geo

comics now fit. and i've learned something new :)

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

can anyone tell me

how to change the settings so that half my &(**^&^%&^ cartoon doesn't hang off the end???

yay pirate bay!



Thursday, 19 February 2009

update

the coaster is still in my pocket, but my knickers are not only clean, they're brand new.

uk ambulance crews can rest easier...

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

and another thing

well, actually, i just don't want to go to bed.

not that i don't like bed, i do - or sleeping - heavens - i'm a 9-hour-a-night woman if given half a chance.

what i'm really hating is work. i only have 3 1/2 weeks left in this contract and i am sooooo detaching. in fact, i'm detached. i even brought home my coaster yesterday, the one i bring to all my jobs that has an artistic rendition of a duck with a stethoscope around its neck with the caption, "trust me, i'm a ductor".

although it's still in my coat pocket. so i guess i'm in limbo. if a coaster is symbolic, that is.

i hate these waiting times.

god - imagine if i were in a traffic accident and not only were my knickers dirty but i could only be identified by a duck coaster.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

true lurve



Friday, 13 February 2009

stealing from geo

i'm gonna steal geo's meme. is that allowed?

current clothes: an old orange jumper of n's that shrunk, jeans, saturday hair (unwashed), and an old pair of crocs. i am so glam.

current mood: happy-tired with a pinch of foreboding

current music: some programme n's playing with that is reading out the names of planets and stars (i assume as he clicks on something) in a weird, disembodied, posh female voice. her pronunciation is crap.

current annoyance: see above.

current thing: banana bread! comfort food of the highest (lowest?) order. it is in the oven now. we will eat 2 slices, rhapsodize, and then leave it to go moldy on the the kitchen counter. this is not a new thing.

current desk top picture: it's a field. who looks at their desktop??

current book: country of my skull by antjie krog. amazing. the writing is incredible, and what she is writing about is so unimaginably awful. she is a south african poet and journalist, and she covered the truth and reconciliation hearings. this book is her writing about that. i really can't recommend it enough.

current song in head: some classical thing, horn-heavy

current dvd in dvd player: don't have a dvd player, just stream and download. last thing watched was the rachel maddow show from msnbc. last movie watched was fight club. see how current i am?

current refreshment: a rapidly diminishing pint of freeminor honey ale.

current worry: the reading i have yet to start for my class on tuesday. the 4 weeks of work left ahead of me before my jail time is complete. oh yeah, forgot to mention, my contract at work is finishing in a month. this is, my friends, a good thing, believe me.

current thought: gosh darn it, is that banana bread burning?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

exploding part 2

this is a really weird week - an inside-out week. one of the courses i'm taking this term, the before mentioned post-apartheid jurisprudence, runs from 6 - 9, mon- thurs this week, reading week. i'll say.

in a brilliant preparatory move i booked the week off work. i'm home all day (frantically reading) and then go into london all evening. trains are much nicer this way.

the course is incredibly interesting, on a lot of levels. it's taught by a south african scholar from pretoria (hence the one week thing). it's lots of legal theory, but in a real context which makes it more pragmatic, and gets us into all kind of sticky theoretical corners which is fun. we're looking at the intersections of law and politics, constitutional systems, judicial activism, how societies are transformed (or not), the effects of authoritarianism and colonialism and racism on humanity and our ability to transcend/fix/deny these things - all in the sense of the post-apartheid legal system. the reading has been illuminating; well chosen articles that have really made me think. there's only about 12 of us so there's room for discussion.

i find myself fascinated, in a moth-to-candle sense, by the idea of change, of re-structure. can we change, tweak systems of law or politics to enact a new result? or does the neo-liberal privitising/corporate/money system now bulldoze across any ideas of incremental, or even whole-scale change? is there any way to reconcile the open wound of colonialism? or will we, like the bankers in today's paper, just offer platitudes of regret and carry on as normal? and what will be the repercussions of that (as i am fairly confident that is what is/has/will happen/ed/ing)?

and that's just the start! the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

on a lighter note, apparently british critical lawyers* are known as britcrits. which makes me smirk.

*a term used to describe people who think that law and politics are to a certain extent inseparable and changeable, and the sooner we admit the fact and get on with things, the better - i paraphrase, obviously

Monday, 9 February 2009

exploding...

just back from my first post-apartheid jurisprudence lecture. 3 hours of critical law theory. my ...head... is... exploding.............

Monday, 2 February 2009

it's not snowing, it's a snow event

so sayeth the bbc.

also this:

"...and with wind chill, we could be looking at temperatures as low as -1 so be careful..."

i awoke to the cacophony of no trains - we live beside the trainline and the rumble of trains is quite comforting, not quite noticeable and always in the deep background. this morning was ominously quiet, which woke me up.

no trains. the greatest snowfall in 20 years said the bbc. i listened to this as i drank my coffee looking out onto the centimeter or so of frozen snow that made up faversham's contribution to the "snow event". it seems the snow missed our corner of east kent - not that it made any difference - when you work in london, you rather need trains going there, and buses when you arrive, neither of which were forthcoming today.

"are you warm and safe?" my boss rang my mobile to ask me this morning. "yes," i replied, looking down at my slippers."well, then - stay put," he instructed.

good grief.

when my parents were here at christmas, they left winnipeg in -35 c.
on one of our many walks, crossing the kent salt marshes with a nasty north wind whipping our scarves and taking our breath, I complained about the cold. "cold?" my father yelled through the wind, "COLD???? what kind of canadian are you?" and, never one to miss an opportunity for comedic effect, clutched at his chest, proclaiming, "you break your father's heart..."

i can hear him laughing from here.

but hey, why look a snow day on the mouth? we decamped to the pub with the papers and proceeded to "keep warm" with bells on.

i do feel though like i may have revoked some sort of canadian citizenship test...

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

complications

i had the dostoevsky class last night. our reading list consisted of kafka's the trial, in the penal colony, dostoevsky's crime and punishment and an excerpt from the brothers karamazov. i read all but the last one, which is (of course) what the class was focused on. not that reading the excerpt would have helped at all.

i've never understood literature - not really. i love (LOVE) books, and reading, and i read a lot, but i never pick up on all this stuff that is apparently "meant" - this means that - and this dream signifies that, and what she really means is this is a socio-political critique of the inherent madness inside all mothers so that explains the penguin....

i never get it.

and it's not like i don't get subtext - hell i can make a dirty joke out of just about anything! although, on reflection, that may have more to do with 10 years on british construction sites. what i mean is that i understand that there are layers.

i also understand that many writers don't write with any of this in mind whatsoever, and read these critiques thinking, "wtf??"

so, in a 90 minute class in a module called punishment and justice, we talked about ... ??? ... the schism between where christ and action lie in dostoevsky's view and how this relates to ...???... and how we must always be aware of the possibilities of the unintended consequences of "speech act" and this relates ...???...

i thought this degree would be hard core international law. statutes, readings, un sc resultions. i am so glad i am not paying for this.

it is interesting though.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

bottling promises

gooseberry wine is very very nice.

uh huh, oh yeah.

i do not think it would be an exaggeration to say that it makes your tongue - sparkle. it's dry, but slightly tangy - its a keeper.

and we only made a gallon.

*sigh*

THIS year, we said to ourselves today, between unseemly slurps from the "leftovers" from bottling, we will make TONS. oh yes. TONS.



Thursday, 22 January 2009

recant

ok the book idea was stupid.
i blame hotel rooms.

anyways.

in other news, i handed in my first post-grad essay today! yay! 4000 words on how the war on terriers has affected development. it was light and cheerful - for sure. with hindsight, not a great topic to be immersed in during the most depressing month of the year but luckily, it was obama getting sworn in so that saved the day.

and my new class is looking good. It's called punishment and justice, and i took it primarily because dostoevsky was on the reading list and i always wanted to be the sort of person who read dostoevsky and never got around to - you know - actually reading him. ditto kafka. and you know, it's very good! of course you know. i didn't, though. the literature portion is only 2 weeks - the rest is law, philosophy etc - job's a gud'un, as my lovely mancunian facilities manager would say.

other than that - just january. and a job that looks unfavourably upon hibernation. bastards.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

3 posts in one evening =

room service + wifi + some good music

what do you think of this template?

(and why didn't I order the creme brulee?)

books

I read a blog post the other day where the author had listed the books she had read that year, and I must confess, it looked paltry to me. But then I thought, I have no idea how much I actually read (except for "lots"). I have been trying very hard, with varying degrees of success, not to buy new books anymore, but how many do I actually go through? So, in the interests of scientific research, I'm going to note here what I've been reading and what I've finished.

So far this year, I've read:
Like water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (reread - new years day hangover book:))
House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (reread)
Home from the vinyl cafe by Stuart Maclean (more comfort rereading)
and of course copious amounts of law journal articles which I shall omit from this exercise.

Currently Reading:
My Invented Country by Isabel Allende
The i-chong: meditations from the joint by Tommy Chong
The loved dog by Tamar Geller

I crawled out from beneath my rock and surveyed the horizon

Earlier, my horizon was bleak and beautiful in that misty skeletal British mid-winter sort of way. I was on the train from Euston to Manchester, happily slurping through several G&T's kindly supplied by the steward, another fellow passenger on the "it's good to soften the edges" carriage. "It makes the journey go by faster," he laughed, sneaking me another one. Which was a good thing what with points failure at Coventry delaying everything into stretched-out sameness. I'm like that on long-haul flights, too. I know it's going to be 10 hours, but 2 hours in, I look up - surprised - "I'm still here?"

So, you may have surmised, it all got a bit chaotic there for a while. The flu was bad, and it was awful and I missed a whole week of work (a first), and I didn't feel quite right for weeks afterwards. All better now though, and freshly grateful for good health.

Then parents! and christmas! and new years! and suddenly back to work and it all seems like feverish imaginings. But it was good, and fun. I'm a lucky lucky woman.

Speaking of reality bumps, poor Humph sure had one when Mom left to go back to Canada. She came well-equipped with delicious doggy-biscuits, the willingness to scratch chins without fatigue and a soft streak Humph took full and complete advantage of. She also had a way of saying "Well hello there big boy" and I think Humph fell in love. He moped for days when she left, looking up as to say - "you? who are you to compare?" He is now back to normal.

And so am I, I suppose. My new class started last night, I'm back in manchester, work is crazy and uncertain, but it's all ok.