Wednesday, February 28, 2007


What on earth is this stuff, and where does it come from?

Its not that long since I cleaned out these drawers and they were brand SPANKING clean. In fact, not long since they were brand spanking new. The old drawers were completely knackered (fnar fnar), deteriorating by the day, grinding away at the inferior plastic runners and threatening collapse at any minute. M, anti-DIY man, decided to fix them - and just sorted it out! Some of you will realise the significance of this, and gasp.

He did come back initially with the wrong size drawers and had to take them back to be changed. (fnar fnar again) (I'm guessing)
He wouldn't, of course, believe me when I said that similar happens to me/everyone all the time; it was, for him, proof of his ineptitude. BUT - he got it done. Sorted. Whispering smoothly in and out at a touch.

So everything in the drawers was processed, cleaned, sorted, lots of chucking out. Much to the annoyance, no doubt, of Anoia*. Clean and spanking.

*Anoia is the goddess of things that get stuck in drawers. She specializes in oddly shaped things that no one will admit to having bought. You've probably prayed to her in the past, whether you know it or not - along the lines of : "The drawer closed, it should be able to open," and "Who bought this thing, anyway?" She is one of the multitude of deities of Terry Pratchett's Discworld, to be encountered in Going Postal. Which I thoroughly recommend.

So where the hell does this stuff come from? It can only be described as "spong" - the word was an early and invaluable acquisition from my relationship with M. "Spong" being detritus, stuff, gunk, gunge. Of the kind found in corners, the bottom of bags, navels, plug holes etc.

(I can't think too much about the spong in bathroom plug holes, its one of the few things that easily makes me queasy)

To our great amusement, we met some people surnamed Spong a while back. What an excellent surname.

Anyway - so, where does this spong come from? The drawers are SHUT, for goodness sake, nearly all the time. The things which go away in them are CLEAN. Yes, we use the work-top above them for food preparation etc., but not with the drawer open - otherwise it would be sticking uncomfortably into the stomach - and the worktop has an overhang.

Don't get me wrong. This is not a source or cause of great concern to me. It looks like fairly clean spong, to me. Its just a bit of a mystery, and sometimes a little annoying.

Maybe after our drawer replacement and clear out, Annoia cursed us with drawer spong. It sounds like the kind of petty thing she might do.

Monday, February 26, 2007

...and falling

184.72 yards.
click here for enlightenment (or not)

And thats quite enough for me, of watching the stick-person falling, flailing, lurching, languishing, bashed, bruised, sinking, stuck, jolted, precarious ... did I mention falling?

I have a couple of weeks at the moment with very little classroom teaching. I have other work to get on with, of course. Much of it put-off-able. Which is probably a bad thing.

And all sorts of other more/mostly enjoyable things to be doing at home. But I can't seem to get down to anything.

LG was off school sick all last week with a persistent gastric bug.

My in-laws are staying. Which is good in lots of ways. I love them and we get on well. But it means that much of my time at home just now is not time alone. Not quite the time I'd choose.

There is lots of tea-drinking, listening, shopping, washing, walking very slowly. All our mugs are dirty all the time.

If only I had the heart to make the most of this time - and their company - it could be a really good week. If only I could escape that falling sensation.

I was just going to finish this post with a concluding "look-on-the-bright-side", as is my wont. Its in my nature. That instinct to say something cheery or hopeful or positive when its just how I don't feel persists like a tickly cough.

But I'm sorry, I just can't be arsed.

Heres a pic. instead.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Well, this is one of the things I've been doing lately.

Strangely hypnotic and compulsive.

Also kind of zen, I think - its much better to relax, and get the rhythm of it, go with the flow. Sometimes you have to let go and free-fall in order to see where to go next.

After a couple of rather fumbling and failing attempts, I managed to get 169.06 yards.

only for those who have nothing better to do, of course - click on "GO", then click your cursor on the lighter blue line to the top of the screen - and again a little further to the right. then you should get an idea how this works.....

But ...
... if you watch the little stick person -- that will give you some idea how my life feels at the moment.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Moving pictures

Some blogger tools are just so cool. Thanks Tat for introducing me to this one, its just the job for some snaps from my visit to Ipswich, staying with RW for a few days over half term.

You can adjust the speed of this slide show or stop it (bottom left, - // +) - I point this out cos I was a bit concerned whether this was too slow and boring, until I belatedly noticed these options. Doh!

Note the watery-ness of Suffolk.

Note also the less-than-random dog - borrowed for the afternoon because, as RW pointed out, its encouraging to have doggy joyous enthusiasm for a country walk when accompanied also by slow and sulky (might-as-well-be) teenagers who would rather be sat in front of a screen.
The dog - Ziggy. a 5 month-old pointer - needless to say travelled about 10 times as far as the rest of us and particularly enjoyed pointing and barking at random and clearly suspicious bits of wood.

Good friends ease the heart, thanks for a lovely visit Luce.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Thursday, February 15, 2007


LG is on half-term this week, and though I don't get half-term at work, this happens to be a week when I only had to be on campus on Monday. A bit of work at home since then ... and off to RW's on Thursday for 4 days rest.

Good (the best) friendship, country walks, country pubs, talking of course, shopping maybe, gin, good food.... what a relief. I've been a tad tired and miserable lately (good word, "tad") and this is just what I need.

So I may be a bit absent from blogdom over the next few days. Though of course Mr and Mrs RW do have broadband now at last.....

I leave you with a little extract from the very witty Guy Browning's piece in the weekend Guardian "How to .... Rest":

"Teenagers have a special type of resting called festering. This uses the duvet as a kind of hormonal oven to produce deep-fried feelings of alienation that can then be consumed for the rest of the day instead of vegetables."

I may not be enjoying my current life-phase much, but I'm glad (overall and all things considered) not to be a teenager.

Addendum. Visit to RW delayed, ptb. LG is sick. ptb ptb ptb

Monday, February 12, 2007

subconscious processes

My mind does quite a lot of work for me on its own. Subconsciously.

While I'm sleeping - or possibly doing other things? who knows? I don't, cos its subconscious.

For example - I did a class on Friday which was a bit of a pig's breakfast. I've had a few weeks of going straight from one two-hour class (with 2nd year undergrads.) straight to another two-hour class (with third years). Its not too bad if I'm either pretty focussed or at least fairly relaxed (either will do), not too tired and fairly organised. And the second class is a good one - a very nice group of students who discuss and contribute well and don't mind me eating my lunch while we work.

This week I was very tired, I wasn't focussed or organised and neither was my lecture which I'd re-arranged at the last minute. So the second class was a bit of the proverbial scraps and slops. We also had to move rooms as the projector wasn't working, and I was using a lot of pictures etc..... - and then we had to move again after an hour when another class arrived who'd been allocated the room.

I was relaxed, thankfully and I don't think the class minded the shambles too much - I did fess-up and apologize - and I think they found at least some of it interesting. And if they didn't, they were too nice to show it.

... getting to the point here....

I wasn't particularly bothered about it - which shows how my teaching and confidence have come on over the years! It wasn't a cause of great anxiety, I just made myself a note that I mustn't do the class again next year without some reasonable revision, restructuring etc. I'm constantly writing myself little notes which I will struggle to decipher a year later.

However - I woke on Sunday morning (not having thought about this consciously since leaving work on the Friday) and my mind was about half-way through re-writing the class; I had a very different structure which gave a much clearer focus, made much better use of my material and examples, covered all the key issues I wanted to raise, came from a perspective more likely to raise students' interest and engage them......

how excellent is that? not me, I mean - but the way our mind can work on something, processing all sorts of things - without our conscious participation. All I had to do was write some notes to get it out of my head, so that I could go back to enjoying a weekend without work - and voila! The revision of this class is all but done.

I'm always amazed by the way our brains can produce - sometimes hours after the event - a name or fact or something we couldn't initially remember. Having, presumably, spent some time in the vaults checking through filing cabinets. While we get on with other things.

If only house-work etc. could be done in this way. I suppose thats what the shoe-elves are to do with?

I was wondering, on my way into work this morning, whether maybe healing might work in a similar way?

It may be a cliche to say that time heals. But sometimes it does seem to. Emotionally as well as physically. Is there a way in which our hearts and spirits can process things - and heal - in ways we are not consciously aware of?

Maybe profound things can happen in the spaces between?

I'm hoping so.

Sometimes the effort of going through the process consciously is just too tiring, the heart switches itself off automatically and takes a break.

But things may still be going on on some other level.

"there is a dearest freshness deep down things"

Spring is not far off. There are lots of things I like about winter, but I always look forward to Spring too.

And its my wedding anniversary as I write this.

Which is not unrelated.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Hanging on

.... still.... by the fingertips

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


My daughter's (new) secondary school abbreviates its name - in school letters, publications, logo etc. - as PMS.

Unfortunate, you might say, especially as it is an all- girls' secondary school.

LG doesn't find it amusing, though I still sometimes smirk. Only on the inside of course.

(though she did comment on posters around the school last term, for visiting prospective students, saying "Welcome to PMS".
Her comment was "Yes, bloody well Tell me about it!")

And she has been suffering so recently.

She knew what to expect with puberty, periods, all that and is pretty much okay about it, we've always been honest and matter-of-fact about it all.


..... my conversations with her on this topic, over the years, have never been entirely open and honest when it comes to the question of PAIN.

Pain and Other Symptoms.

Why worry her, hopefully unnecessarily, I thought?

I suffered so much as a teenager - and into my twenties. (though by then, I could have whisky to help) (and it did/does).

My mother frequently had to come and pick me up from school, where I would be miserably doubled up in pain and often vomiting too in the sick room. The doctor prescribed some too-strong pain killers, and something else to stop me throwing up but I don't remember anything helping very much.

My mother tried traditional recipes which involved peppermint oil. Not successful, so far as I remember. Though I think the traditional East-end of London version included whisky, which could, of course, have helped.

It was miserable.

And of course, the less said the better about the brick-like sanitary items available at the time, and those itchy baggy saggy elastic belts....

..... sorry.

Less said would have been better.
So Much Better.

I don't remember suffering from other symptoms particularly, though maybe it would be more appropriate for my family to comment on any other delights which might have accompanied all this. I did go through a phase in my 20s of being very clumsy and breaking things a lot when I was pre-menstrual.

Anyway, in my 20s I discovered whisky.
I have been known to drink whisky from the bottle in a brown paper bag, in the street. Purely medicinal, of course.

In my 30s I discovered really good, expensive whisky.
Vintage, single malt only for me please.

And then I had LG and things improved a lot.
For a while.
Before the peri-menopausal (thats PERI-) mood swings, sleeplessness, anxiety, bad temper....... (one website oh-so-helpfully lists 35 possible symptoms of menopause)


Now, thats just silly.

And the thing thats been making me laugh and wince equally of late is the tendency to ascribe an ever-growing range of symptoms to these wretched biological processes.

"My skin is really dry and itchy, I can't stop scratching". "Oh, that could be your period - hormonal changes can affect your skin".

"I can't get to sleep". "Maybe you are pre-menstrual? that can cause sleeplessness".

"I can't eat any more, I feel really bloated." "Well, your body retains water when you are menstruating - that could be why".

"My tummys really upset at the moment." "Oh, I usually get that when I have my period."

"Is it me or is it really hot in here?".....

Maybe Shulamith Firestone had a point - this biology is pretty barbaric at times.

At any time of the month, one of us likely to be hormonally unstable.
Maybe that explains why one of our computers keeps crashing?

I blame the phases of the moon.

Monday, February 05, 2007


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Well, this is it. I've now been blogging for ONE WHOLE YEAR.

It all began here during the worst year of my life.

I was eating lettuce and bananas during the night, due to a serious insomnia problem, due to.... various awful life-crisis reasons. Blah, blah, blah.

Containing tryptophan [like turkey] lettuce and bananas can/should/might cause drowsiness. And are so much more palatable in the night-time than turkey.

Hence - "Lettuce-eating".

I managed to give up the sleeping pills, but I think that may have been as much to do with blogging, and you lot, as to do with the tryptophan.

How strange to look back and re-read.

I've never kept a diary, and never really been a self-reflective type - but look at me now! and in public too.

I think I was more entertaining back then. Maybe misery and lack of sleep makes me funnier?

Having thought my (metaphorical) house was built well on solid ground and would last and keep me warm and dry forever, I had finally faced up to the fact that there were serious fault lines, unseen problems with the foundations, danger of subsidence or even complete collapse. I'd been ignoring widening cracks in the walls and had become so acclimatised to a wet and leaky roof that I didn't even notice any more that I was shivering.

All this with a jolt of weary, familiar recognition - at the same time as the shock of the totally alien and unexpected. It had been coming for years, yet suddenly happened overnight.

Life, huh?

But I am doing better now.

A few things I have learned begun to learn in the last year:

to talk

to live a day - an hour - 5 minutes - at a time


the wonders of digital photography

to cry in public places without caring

how to muck about with html

what html is

101 tips for a better night's sleep (well.... a few)

how different people are

to put fun &/ friendship before work much much more often

that being a perfectionist can be disabling

extreme knitting

to slow down

to treat myself, now and again (and again, and more often)

how very much I love my parents

how to make tassels

to live life now. Not to put off important things till later.

to say NO


and ... that I can have a tendency to ramble. Who'd have thought it?
and in public too ...... so Stopping Now.

Just this before I stop -

Its been so wonderful to make new blog-friends, as well as finding another way of knowing and meeting old friends. Its meant a lot to me to share parts of my life with some of you, and vice versa. If any of you are visiting London and want to meet up, just let me know, I'll be right on the bus.

And finally - I think I might have one or two silent invisible readers. Which is cool.
But if you want to say Hi, just for once, go ahead. After all, its my Blogday!

Thursday, February 01, 2007


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Just in case you pop in .....