Archive for January, 2008

Sleep (and the lack of it)

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

OK. Both girls were asleep by 7.30 (yay me and my single-mumming skills). Tamsin woke again at 9, 1, 3 for an hour and 6. At 5, Maggie came in complaining that she was cold (it was cold) and that the bunny clock had got confused and woken up. She mithered and moaned for a good half hour before going back to sleep with her icy feet on me. Naturally, we all then slept until 8.30 and M was late for preschool. I have absolutely no idea how we will cope when she starts school in September.

Edited to add what I intended to put when I started typing but didn’t, due most likely to severe sleep deprivation: Margaret Thatcher got by on 4 hours’ sleep a night, apparently. Does anyone else think that explains a lot? I feel quite like closing mines and laying people off and taking milk from my babies today, too. What a glorious country we might be living in if she’d only got her full 8 hours.

PS I didn’t get to go on my allotment evening out – C came up with the expected business trip. I understand he had a very expensive very nice meal out in a London restaurant: none of my A-list babysitters were available at 24 hours notice and it didn’t seem an important enough occasion to go to the B-list so I stayed home. Poor me.

On literature

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

We’re having what Pewari euphemistically tell me is called a “mental health day” today. I’d have called it a “sitting on my lazy arse” day, but hers sounds better – and, to be fair, we often have days like this and I do have robust mental health (touch wood) so perhaps there is something in it. If you’d asked me last night what I was going to achieve today the list would have been long: to town on the bus to go to bank, library, Holland and Barratt, and (shh!) get a birthday present for Cameron. By 10 am, however, it was apparent that none of this was going to happen. I am trying quite hard to not spend the entire day chatting on msn and surfing at random, but Cameron left at 6 am, after which we all fell asleep again, and I can’t quite bring myself to care whether the kitchen is clean or the living room tidy. Let’s be honest: I struggle to care at the best of times, and this is not the best of times.

In other news: Tamsin has her first shoes, a minute size 2 1/2. She’s right on the cusp of toddlerhood and really not a baby any more.
And if you’ll excuse a bit of insufferable mummy pride, Maggie is clearly a methmatical genius in the making: I told her to eat 10 more spoonfuls of weetabix. After a bit she told me she’d eaten 5 so had 5 more to go. Then I asked how many she’d had she said 2, then told me that meant there were 3 left! I was most impressed – no counting on fingers required (apart from by me, to make sure she was correct).

Less impressive perhaps, but more amusing: she told me she had been asleep for 100 years and been woken by a handsome prince. I asked his name; she told me Sarry. “Sarry?” I said. Yes, Prince Sarry. Say it fast!

A Tamsin anecdote to even things up: one day last week she scampered up the stairs on her own and back down again bringing my conditioner from the bathroom as a souvenir. It’s great to know she is safe and confident on the stairs but this is not quite the way I expected to find out. She might feel ready but I’m not sure I am yet.

I’ve been reading Kate Atkinson’s latest book, which has had me wondering why some novels are literary and some just, well, novels. I’ve found some interesting ideas around the web, about internal versus external plots and about longevity, which seems to confuse literary fiction with classics (are they necessarily the same thing?) At which point my brain went la la la and I reverted to housewifery (while continuing to enjoy my book. I think, for what it’s worth, literary fiction is that which speaks to something deep inside: without necessarily knowing what or why, it touches your soul. Even if it is nominally a detective story. Oh, and it probably needs some recurring motifs that have a clever link to the characters.)

And now I am going to order some seed potatoes. Who says there is no variety in the non-working life?

Plot 120108

Monday, January 14th, 2008

Sunshine on Saturday saw M and I at the allotment with eight very heavy bags of cow manure (“it’s poo but it doesn’t smell like poo”!). If you are really interested you can click on the photo to go to the original, which is annotated: you can find out just what is in those pots and whose shed that is in the background.

Shortly – literally minutes – after this picture was taken I did a deal with the chap on whose plot I was standing to take the shot (I really must figure out all their names. I am utterly hopeless, and they are all men of the same sort of age: I know Ken, Mike, Colin and Peter but can’t tell Steve, Geoff,  or the chap in the corner plot apart). I casually mentioned that I was considering a gooseberry bush: he said he was going to get rid of some of his as there are really only so many gooseberries one can use: there is now a very large, old, thorny bush right next to those PSB plants at the bottom of the photo. Hoorah!

On Wednesday, assuming Cameron doesn’t spring a surprise business trip on me, I am supposed to be going to the pub with the allotment gang (better work on those names). I am a bit nervous: we might talk about slugs and beans all night. Or it might be fun and to be honest it will do me good – the less I go out, the larger the inertia becomes. The fact that I am already thinking about it shows how out of practice I am: without practice it becomes more and more difficult to speak to people one doesn’t already know well.

21 again

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

Cameron was actually here this morning (unlike last year) but, as he left at 6 for Germany, it wasn’t much of a party. On the other hand, Maggie is more useful than she was last year: she remembered to bring me presents when she woke, and sang to me and everything. She’s a bit put out that I am not having a party (or even a cake bah humbug) but has enjoyed opening my cards.

We had a small celebratory lunch at Borders after swimming, and I have just submitted my tax return a full 3 weeks early! I am so proud of myself (and yes thank you I am quite aware that I could have done it in September but, seriously, 3 weeks before the deadline is hugely progressive for me). Sara is coming for tea (salmon that I am marinating in den miso, and will be cooked just slightly but mostly rare, yum yum) and to help put the children to bed. And, I hope, join me in a celebratory Baileys.

On weather and frogs

Monday, January 7th, 2008

I spotted this cow parsley looking all fresh and newly unfurled and spring-is-on-its-way-y at the allotment yesterday, so took some quick photos (just before I yanked it up by its roots and added it to the compost pile). Is this more evidence for global warming, I wonder (actually I have no clue when cow parsley is supposed to start flowering). Either way, I was glad I had waited until the last day of the holidays to get down there as I spent a glorious couple of hours in the sunshine: by the time I came home the plot was looking uncharacteristically neat.

I had a small dilemma: should I make the most of my child-free time to listen to my nice new Christmas ipod, or should I stay unplugged and enjoy the birdsong and whatnot. In the end I plugged myself in but compromised by keeping the volume low enough to hear the birds singing and the clock chiming, and listened to the wigglywigglers podcast to keep it topical. I pulled the netting back over my purple-sprouting broccoli, which is starting to look pleasingly purple, and dug some Jerusalem artichokes for a gratin later in the week. I then started hefting about the bits of carpet we laid a year ago, to uncover what should now be weed-free (or at least relatively less weedy) ground and cover up the weediest bits again. I have some plans in progress, so if you are really interested watch this space. I also uncovered lots of slug eggs – left them out for Mr Robin – and an army* of frogs. I knew Cameron was bringing the girls down to visit so, once I’d realised there were 10 or more frogs in two colonies** under the edge of one of my carpets, I left it in place until they arrived, expecting them to be interested. Which they weren’t particularly (but Cameron and I were very interested indeed so I was glad he saw them).

*This is a proper collective noun for frogs, I checked.
**And this is another.

Glorious food

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

OK, I’d like some menu ideas please. I have post-Christmas catering fatigue (we had takeaway for New Year and have been eating “simply” since – unagi for tea tonight, which just needs to be put in a bowl of boiling water. Yum.): I don’t want to make anything that requires effort; I don’t especially want meat; I don’t particularly want to have to go and buy anything, but accept that I probably must. Maggie went back to preschool today and Cameron and I celebrated with a bacon and egg sandwich from the B&Q carpark, which really hit the spot.

Still quiet here. Cameron shampooed the carpets today, while I taxed and insured my car (woohoo) and shoe-horned toys into unyielding and over-full toyboxes. Tamsin is coming on really fast: having people around constantly has provided an adoring audience for her attempts to walk, spurring her on to longer and longer efforts. She really can walk well now, although crawling is still faster and therefore the default. We call her tornado Tamsin for her ability to rocket through the house leaving a trail of havoc and devastation.

Little other news. Am turning my mind once again to the allotment: this year’s plans are Bigger and Better (and hopefully More Realistic) – last year’s were hampered by Tamsin’s metamorphosis from sitting still and watching baby to marauding crawler just at prime planting season: next season she should be stomping about in wellies which, at least in theory, should be easier to work with. I’ve had carpet over the unused bits of land for a year, too, so they should (touch wood and cross fingers) be rather more weed-free and easier to plant in.

Lastly, we have discovered the Mighty Boosh. Why didn’t anyone tell us before?