October 19th, 2014 | 5 Comments »

My word, I’m glad I don’t have a food blog. I just tried out a recipe for one of those magic self-layering custard cakes, and she had seventeen comments. A couple were of the inane but harmless “Ooooh that looks so yummy I just gained 5 pounds!” kind, which annoy me simply because they clutter up the screen when I’m hunting for actual reviews which might tell me something useful, like ‘not enough cocoa’ or ‘despite the purple prose, this is actually a limp, pallid run-of-the-mill biscuit which looks awful without a 70s amber filter’. Incidentally, it’s amazing how few people, even on popular food blogs, actually seem to make the recipes. Look at Pioneer Woman’s comment section sometime - literally thousands of comments, and you can scroll until your finger turns blue past masses of gushing comments without finding a single person who says it tastes, rather than looks, divine. (Or ‘devine’, which is a whole ‘nother aneurysm.)

But it wasn’t those comments which bugged me today. It was the demanding ones which presumed that this poor woman, running a very minor Turkish food blog which was clearly not her day job, was a) equipped and b) willing to cover every possible eventuality and permutation of the recipe, as well as answering basic questions that could be resolved with a three-second trip to Google.

You know the kind. “Would this recipe work with GF flour?” How should she know? It’s not a gluten-free blog. She doesn’t have gluten-free recipes. Even if she did, “GF flour” is a virtually meaningless term; and even if she knew what kind the commenter meant, is it really likely that she’d say “Gosh, dunno!”, dash out and buy some, and whip up a few batches in the kitchen just to see? Come on, people.

Ditto “would this recipe work at high altitude?” Dude, if you live on the Himalayas, figuring out the vagaries of stratospheric cooking is on you. How would she know? If the principles are simple, you should be able to apply them to most recipes. If they’re tricky and recipe-dependent, she’s not gonna be able to answer the question without voyaging to a mountain peak, and expecting her to do that is just nuts.

Or “What kind of sugar do you mean by ’sugar’?” I’ve seen this one a lot, and while it staggers me a little that people don’t know ’sugar’ refers to plain old white granulated sugar (or ‘flour’ to plain white flour, if it comes to that), at least I guess it might be somewhat tricky to Google, phrasing-wise. Not so with ‘What’s 110 grams butter???’ which was asked by two people out of the seventeen in panicky, aggrieved tones. Good grief. How is it more efficient to wait for a long-suffering part-time blogger to respond to that, than simply googling ‘convert 110 grams butter into ounces’ (or cups, or sticks, or poods, or whatever the cool kids are using these days)? How?

And I’ve seen worse. People complaining that the recipe didn’t work out and in the next breath proudly admitting that they cut the sugar down to a teaspoon, replaced the butter with applesauce, swapped the chocolate chips for craisins and used egg-replacer. (Actually, it’s almost more aggrieving when they do that and claim it did work. It didn’t. They’ve just acclimatised themselves to believing compost is a dessert.) People piously demanding to change the teaspoon of whiskey in a recipe to orange juice for the sake of their immortal souls, while splashing vanilla essence about without a hint of irony. People demanding that recipes be converted into Imperial, metric, GF, DF, GAPS, sugar-free, nut-free, soy-free and vegan versions as a matter of course. People freaking out because the recipe says to use a 30 cm by 20 cm tin and theirs is 18 cm by 23 cm. People complaining… on baking blogs… about the shocking fact that recipes contain fat and sugar.

I mean, get a grip, people. Putting up a recipe online is a kindness. A free kindness. It does not obligate the author to spend the rest of her natural life hand-holding morons who want to know if using the wrong brand of butter will make their cake explode. Nor to coach them on the basics of metric-to-Imperial, Celsius-to-Fahrenheit or weight-to-volume conversions. Nor to acquire a vast set of arcane culinary knowledge in order to accommodate those who wish to bake in space, on a wood fire, or in a transdimensional rift where the Maillard reaction causes fatal temporal hernias. Still less does it require her to endlessly re-test and tweak the recipe according to her readers’ infinite dietary, religious, ethical and ingredient-availability preferences.

I certainly agree that it’s nice, if you have a food blog, to have a few helpful features - an ingredient conversion feature (or one format bracketed in the ingredients list itself) and a ‘print this recipe’ feature which eliminates the photos and preamble, say. And there are a few excellent bloggers who turn random questions into thoughtful and illuminating posts about food science - Joe Pastry, for instance. And for those looking to made a buck on their blog and become the next Smitten Kitchen, I suppose they can’t afford to wound their precious clientele by telling them to figure it out for themselves. But still. It must annoy them. I know it annoys David Lebovitz - he’s talked about getting frustrated after working very hard to develop a recipe just-so, only to be inundated with “But what if I used X instead of Y?” requests. (And there was that woman who rang him up late at night to tell him that his cookies took a minute longer to cook than his recipe book suggested. Fun.)

I got a taste of it once when I wrote an article for a blog about drafting a dirndl skirt. Everything from people wanting to give me basic sewing lessons to people wanting me to draft a personalised pattern for them. And of course I lost the will to care ten minutes after posting it, and could only stare slack-jawed at the screen wondering why people thought I was their personal unpaid seamstress/designer/tutor.

On the other hand I once had three hundred comments on an article I did about henna, and thoroughly enjoyed answering innumerable questions. But that was some years ago, before I was soured on humanity. Virtual humanity, at any rate; I was soured on actual humanity long before that, thanks to years of making milkshakes for high school girls. (”Can I have a large mega-choc shake, but can you make it with skim milk? Because I’m getting SO fat. You guys, I so am! I’m getting so fat!”) So perhaps it is just curmudgeonliness talking.

On a brighter note, then: Rowan has invented a poem, or chant. It goes like this: “Knock knock! Who’s there? Unofficial Little Bear!” I don’t get it, but I like it.

Posted in havers, writing
October 18th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Just read a biography of Lucy Maud Montgomery. My goodness. I had no idea. No mother, useless absentee father who also died young, brought up by unsympathetic relatives, engaged to a rotter while in love with another rotter, broke it off and got stalked, couldn’t marry her second fiance because she had to take care of her ailing grandmother for years, went off him by the time the grandmother died but felt obliged to marry him anyway, whereupon he went periodically insane for the rest of his life and once pointed a gun at a guest. First son turned out to be a deviant criminal philandering money-wasting scumbag who ruined the family reputation, second son died at birth, third son wasn’t a girl. Publisher cheated her out of a ton of money and dragged her through court for ten years; husband was partly at fault for a car crash and got sued by the other chaps for allegedly causing their prostate trouble and diabetes, which even at the time medical science could see was obviously bunk; but the judge was deaf and they lost the case anyway. One of their maids was a malicious gossip who spread rumours that Maud was having an affair with a family friend. Maud herself suffered from periodic bouts of extreme depression and ended her life in possible suicide, after having been addicted to barbiturates and bromides for some time, as was her husband. And towards the end of her life, despite her immense popularity, modernist critics started panning her books as Everything Wrong with Canadian Literature because of their romance and sentimentality. Plus she spent several years being pursued by a deranged lesbian stalker-fan who kept threatening suicide.

Altogether thoroughly dispiriting - and long - 600 pages plus endnotes. Knowing ahead of time about the suicide I kept waiting for her to die every time something tragic happened, and she kept not doing it. Which is laudable, I suppose, but it did make the last few hundred pages drag on rather drearily with calamity after calamity. So it is with great relief that I am now readingĀ PG Wodehouse: A Life in Letters, which is smashing. He writes just like you’d expect, was genuinely fond of his wife and adored his stepdaughter Leonora, aka ‘Snorkles’. Thus far in the book nothing tragic has happened at all - I haven’t got up to WWII yet - his career is meteoric, he is delightfully frank and gleeful about the tons of money he’s making, he tells everyone earnestly and invariably how good his latest story is, and he hits up all his friends (and Leonora) for plot ideas in the most charming way. It’s a great relief to the spirit. And I was thoroughly chuffed when he wrote a friend who knew Dorothy Sayers that Five Red Herrings was ‘lousy’ and that he ought to tell her to skip the dreary bus-timetable stuff and go back to her usual style. Couldn’t agree more. I love Dorothy Sayers, but a murder-mystery shouldn’t require maths and a chart in order to keep up with (neither of which I used, so I got thoroughly confused and ended up having to take the solution on faith. For all I know there’s a missing half-hour in the plot that makes the whole thing the greatest gaffe in the history of crime fiction, though I’m sure having gone that far she was careful to make it all work out.) I can just about cope with Agatha Christie’s occasional floor-plan showing how the window in the library is adjacent to the dumbwaiter, but that’s as much STEM-work as I’m willing (or indeed able) to put into light fiction. Authors take note.

Spring is as usual bringing a plethora of wildlife to the orchard. Discounting the slugs, which are Nasty, it is great fun. Every day is spent with our ears cocked for Dennis the Quail-Bird, Gus the tui, some unnamed but snobby pheasants, and the peacocks across the gulley. Then in the evening we’re liable to see Twitchy the Elusive, an extremely good-looking rabbit who has taken up residence in the garden; or, somewhat less pleasingly, our two rats Rubbish and Shortly. Shortly is a baby and thus moderately cute, but Rubbish - unlike his predecessor, Bouncy the Pizza Rat - is not at all prepossessing. Later still at night, we get possums galore and the occasional feral cat. They kept the pigs awake last night and Helpdesk Man had to go out and defend the household with his air rifle. He shot one possum, scared everything else away and accidentally put a bunch of leftover lead pellets through the washing machine. It killed them. Weird, no?

Posted in havers, writing
October 9th, 2014 | 4 Comments »

We no longer cosleep, but every morning we are awoken by the arrival of two pesky piglets. It should also be noted that we are currently experiencing a slugfestation, and also that I’m giving up calling Rowan the snortlepig. We don’t call her that any more, and I keep typing Rowan by mistake. So Rowan she is. Hi, Rowan!

Excerpts from this morning:

Miles, staring at the floor: “Mummy, I found a snail!”

Me: “Whoa. Are you sure? Is it a snail or a slug?”

Miles: “No, it’s a snail.”

Me: “Does it have a shell?”

Miles: “Nah, it’s just by itself.”

Me: “That’s a slug.”

Short pause. Miles, delighted: “It IS a slug!”

* * * * *

Miles: “Mummy, dere’s a cockroach! I’m gonna take care of it!”

[He uses the phrase in the Mafia sense, not the nurturing one. I'm OK with that.]

[Miles bustles about]

Miles: “I got a tiny container and put it on top so it can’t escape!”

Rowan, waking up a bit and stretching: “I think it’s dead.”

Miles, enthused: “Yeah, it is! And it can’t walk!”

Me: “Uh, Miles, if it’s dead, do you really need a container over it to stop it escaping?”

Miles, offended: “I do!”

* * * * * * * *

Rowan: “Mummy, what’s your favourite colour?”

Me, sleepily: “Blue.”

Rowan: “Miles, what’s your favourite colour?”

Miles: “Red… and white… and blue…”

Me: “That’s patriotic.”

Miles: “…And red… I like ALL da colours!”

Rowan: “Yes, but you have to pick your one favourite one.”

Miles: “I like ALL da colours are my favourite! Red… and blue…. and white… and green… and brown… and…” [runs out of colours and stares in perplexity at the wall]

Rowan: “Daddy, what’s your favourite colour?’

[Daddy slumbers peacefully]

Rowan: “Well, last time he said red. Red. Do you know what my favourite colour is?”

Miles: “Pink!”

Rowan: “Pink!”

Miles: “*I* like pink! And purple… and red… and blue…”

Rowan, viciously: “Miles, that’s enough!”

Miles: “An’ green! Haha!”

* * * * * * * *

[Miles has temporarily disappeared back to his bed to snooze. He comes running back in a panic.]

Miles: “Mummy, something’s pesking da ceiling!”

Rowan: “It’s probably just a possum or a rat. Don’t worry about it.”

Miles, dramatically: “I’m skeeeeeered of it!”

Rowan: “Oh Miles, there’s nothing to be scared of. It’s just a beast.”

Miles, climbing up onto the bed and wagging his tail: “Do you see my tiny bottoms?”

Posted in havers
September 27th, 2014 | 3 Comments »

Yesterday Helpdesk Man had gone out mountain-biking. He does this now, though with mixed success. He has lost weight, which is the point; but he has also fallen off enough times to warrant the purchase of arm-guards, at which his fellow mountain-biking friends smirked a little before politely saying that they had never felt the need for them. (Helpdesk Man: “But I ride more aggressively than they do! I push myself further!” Me: “Pushing yourself so far that you fall off ISN’T A VIRTUE!” Helpdesk Man: [radiating manly smugness.])

It was heading towards lunchtime and I was wondering if he were about to return, but decided instead of waiting around like a computer-bound Penelope for his return I would take the children on a short trot round the orchard to filch a lemon from a lemon tree at the other end. So we did. And it was lovely. We found two eggs lying out in the middle of the apple trees, which indicated worrying slatternliness on the part of the hens but was still a minor triumph. We took a small, scenic detour down a hill and past a rusting pile of freezers in order to climb on some logs. We braved the slightly scary dog who guards the lemon tree - entrepreneurially, I hasten to add. We’re allowed to filch the lemons. The dog just happens to be tied up near the lemon tree and goes ballistic whenever we approach it.

So anyway, bearing our lemons and eggs and the occasional stick for poking puddles, we wended out way home. To my disappointment, Helpdesk Man had not arrived home, which would have allowed me to be all “I was out for a walk with the children” so he could have been all “What a wholesome and excellent family outing, good wife”.

And then I went to the computer and found this message:

Helpdesk Man: Are you there?
Beep
Beep
Halp
I’m not sure I can drive
I think I may have broken my collarbone
I crashed my bike
Sent at 12:50 PM on Friday
Come to the computer
Helpdesk Man: Haaaaalp
.
He had indeed broken his collarbone. And if this post is a little disjointed and some of the sentences tail off into nowhere, it is because I was up until at least 2AM arranging his pillows, wedging towels under his shoulders, administering drugs, leaping out of bed to fetch a bucket when he thought he was going to pass out from the pain and ringing the ER to see if they would put him on a morphine drip. (Worse for him; I recognise that.) Apparently broken collarbones are kind of a drag. He got up at 5:45 because he couldn’t stomach lying down any more, and now at 10:30 is passed out in the bedroom again. AND yesterday at the ER he had to take off his shirt in front of God and everybody; and when I solicitously helped him re-dress without disarranging his shoulder I managed to get it on backwards. Poor wee sausage.
.
It is interesting to see how our two children deal with this situation. Yesterday I had to leave the pigs with their tiny aunt while Father and I drove to pick up the bike and car and I joined Helpdesk Man at the emergency room; upon returning, the snortlepig had thoroughly cleaned the living area for us out of the goodness of her heart. Miles, conversely, was just caught in the act of pelting down the corridor shouting joyously “Let’s go wake Daddy up!”
.
Oh, and incidentally? Helpdesk Man’s crash was caused by aiming for a plank-bridge over a ditch and missing. Ladies and gentlemen, my husband.
Posted in havers
September 25th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

I have always wanted to live in a house with secret passageways. As a kidlet my house had a small door which led under the house, and if you didn’t mind getting covered in dirt and spiders you could crawl through and emerge on a shelf in the underground garage. It wasn’t exactly a secret lair hidden behind a bookcase, but I convinced myself it was glamorous and spent a good deal of time there, going so far as to furnish the place with old carpet and op-shop dishes.

Our current house does not have secret passages. An esoteric wiring system, yes. A laundry that converts to a sauna by operating the dryer, yes. Secret passages, no. Or so I thought.

But a few days ago I was outside photographing a birthday cake where the light was good, and the snortlepig was pesking about by the rosemary bush by the deck. Next thing I knew there was a squeak and a wail and the pig had disappeared up to her armpits.

Apparently there’s a secret subterranean world next to the deck. With a hole in it. The hole had been concealed with a large flat rock and a pot-plant, at least until we removed the latter on the grounds of deadness and the pig stood on the edge of the former, flipping it over and neatly tipping her in.

She was OK, just a tad scraped around the legs and extremely surprised. We had to go out, so we merely put the rock back and warned the pigs sternly away from it. But perhaps later on today I will investigate. I hope to find at least a cache of Prohibition-era whiskey, if not gold ingots and a Batman-themed media den.

Posted in havers
September 18th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

By the snortlepig. Edited for spelling. I cannot even begin to formulate commentary, so just picture me rocking and trembling in a corner as you read them.

The Dark Hill

Once upon a dark

hill lay an evil wizard

who did not like any

one except for his one self

he was so so evil that

he could touch a worm

and when he had touched

it then the worm would

be dead and he would

eat it because

he hated insects he

just did not like

anything at all

even children

even

babies he was just

a awful wizard.

* * * * * * *

Stoopid Pop

One summer

night lived a chicken

his mum had

died but before

she had died

her baby boy

Pop had lied in

the coffin with

his mum because

he loved his mum

so much he just

could not leave

her.

Posted in havers, writing
September 13th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

So the thing about me being off Citalopram? Yeah, now I’m on Prozac.

What happened is, I had a minor meltdown yesterday morning and instead of going to Bible study to cover Samsom’s dying moments (a pity, they were pretty cinematic) I ended up driving snivellingly to the doctor swearing that if she told me to nurture myself I would poke out her eyes with a fork. Two hours later I had a prescription for Prozac, blood tests for prolactin and cortisol and a cervical smear. (HOW? WHY? I don’t even know.)

Not from my own doctor, of course; she was busy. This was Doctor, I dunno, Six. Seven? Crikey, I’ve lost count; that’s a bad sign. She was nice, actually. Took me seriously, though I don’t suppose I gave her much choice as I was wailing violently at her face. Maybe I should have tried that earlier. Anyway, I started on the new drugs yesterday and today I made a custard pie and cleaned the mould off the bedroom ceiling, so perhaps things are looking up. There’s still the issue of SSRIs causing autism in putative future progeny, but as the doctor said, on balance it’s better that I don’t throw myself off a bridge. So. Yay. Here we are again.

On a brighter note: guess what I did on Wednesday? Judged a homeschool history fair, that’s what. “That’s odd,” you might be snarkily saying, “I didn’t know you were an historian.” To which I say, A, “an historian”, really? And B, no, well, the lady who was going to do it had to go to a funeral - her mother’s funeral - so I was the scrambled-about-for hasty replacement.

It was awesome. A history fair is just like a science fair, you know, with the big cardboard displays and the big title carefully constructed to take up half the board and a little bibliography in the corner that says “Websites” because you’re too young and inept to know how to source things. I had thought I was going to be one of a panel of judges, but nope, it was just me.

“Do I have specific criteria or a chart or something?” I asked.

“Oh, nope, just wander around and have a look at them.”

“Oh! Um, should I talk to the children?”

“Yeah, good idea! I’ll get them to go stand by their displays and you can ask them questions.”

“Um, OK. And should I make notes? Do I just give you the names, or should I do a little speech about why I chose each one?”

“Ooh, that’d be good, if you want to. Only if you can be bothered.”

“OK. Ooh, can I judge them on their spelling and grammar?”

“Oh, no, I told them spelling and handwriting and stuff wouldn’t be judged. I didn’t want them to get scared.”

Hmph. Still, it was fun. The kids were all scared and respectful (heh). There were the usual gamut of exhibits - a couple that had obviously taken weeks of dedicated work, and a few that the kids incautiously admitted within earshot that they’d started the week before. There were the suspiciously erudite typewritten ones written by small children who, when asked to explain them, stared at me blankly and pointed hopefully to the pictures. There was one on the life of a certain female English monarch which managed to entirely omit any mention of her acts as Queen, creating the impression that she was did nothing but wear dresses and produce babies. I thought of getting into the feminism of it all with the entrant, but she was small and earnest and it seemed unkind. Oh, and there was one science fair project masquerading as a history fair project. I admired that. Stick to your strengths, kid.

Anyway, I totally rose to the occasion and gave them all a little speech about what I’d been looking for and the importance of using a variety of resources, not copy-and-pasting from Wikipedia and so on. And as my choices didn’t provoke cries of outrage and I wasn’t lynched by mobs of angry parents on the way out, I can only assume this is my new calling in life. They’re having a Literature Fair next term; I will expect the call.

Posted in Uncategorized, havers
August 27th, 2014 | 11 Comments »

I went to see a therapist today.

I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I’m a great fan of being Open and Honest about mental illness, because it’s just like any disease and you wouldn’t hesitate to tell the world you had cystitis or fatty degeneration of the heart, now would you? I’ll drop Citalopram into the conversation - any conversation - like it ain’t no thing. (Point of interest? In America it’s called Celexa. Much better name.) I’ll tell you about my phobias any day of the week, as long as it isn’t a day when they’re too severe or even typing or saying the word of the thing of which I’m phobic will make me come over all panicky, because that’s just not pleasant - but actually that hasn’t happened for ages, because it turns out Citalopram is excellent for phobias. Nifty, no? I watched the BBC Planet Earth ‘Deep Oceans’ documentary awhile back and didn’t even blench.

Only, the thing is, I’m not *on* Citalopram any more. Long story short, I got pregnant earlier this year, decided to stay on Citalopram anyway because it seemed better than going crazy, had a miscarriage (don’t recommend it), read up on SSRIs and increased autism risk, decided to come off the drugs before trying to get pregnant again, weaned myself down from two tablets to one to none over several weeks, and went crazy. Man, I really don’t update this blog a lot, do I?

Enter my doctor. Well, I say ‘my’ doctor. My medical centre has a suspiciously high turnover rate. Periodically I’ll get a letter in the post saying my official GP has retired, died or been kidnapped by pirates and my new GP is Dr Indiansoundingsurname. At which I go ‘oh ar’, throw the letter away and get another one six months later. This means I can never remember who ‘my’ doctor actually is, but as he or she is invariably booked up until next week anyway and the only time I visit a doctor is when I need to see one right absolutely now this instant, I end up with the on-call and/or unpopular-enough-to-have-free-time doctor anyway, whose name I do happen to remember because she shares it with a terrorist dictator.

She is not a terrorist dictator. Terrorist dictators get stuff done. My doctor, on the other hand, pooh-poohed any suggestion that my depression and chronic fatigue were even the teensiest problem and told me that because my husband worked from home, my three-hour afternoon naps weren’t actually a problem so much as a creative and satisfactory solution to my natural tiny spot of sleepiness caused, no doubt, by my running after those cute kids: and therefore, I was fine. Better than fine, even. All I needed to do was Nurture Myself.

After a couple of months of this I finally snapped and decided to get a new doctor. This one is nicer. She orders blood tests in a patronising, “I really don’t think this is it, but if it’ll make you feel better…” way, but at least she orders them. Which is how, incidentally, we found out I have a circulating iron level of 5. The very lowest end of normal is 20. 0 is, I presume, dead. Mum says she got down to 3 once while pregnant, but she may be boasting.

Anyway, the good news is, she booked me into a sleep clinic, which should be grand fun. The bad news is, she told me to Nurture Myself. She also told me to see a therapist. How twee, thunk I. How absurdly middle-class. How White Girl Problems. How privileged and gitty and who do I think I am, anyway, when people are being murdered in subways? And why does everyone assume I have situational depression when our family’s brain-cells have managed to revolt in every conceivable circumstance over many generations? And ooh, do they really have couches?

Then she told me it was free, and I said “Oh well, OK then.” Because you don’t turn your back on a bargain, fools.

Still, I feel sort of odd about it. I wasn’t going to bring it up, but then I remembered only about three people read this blog anyway and at least one of them’s legit cuckoo herself (it’s you, Krissy; sorry), so you’ll just have to deal. And after all, mental illness is just a disease like any other and you wouldn’t be ashamed of going to a professional to find out if having a refrigerator mother caused your pancreas to stop producing insulin, now would you?

First off: I went to the wrong street. Nothing like greeting an old man at his door with a cheery “This is probably a random question, but you don’t happen to be a psychologist?” to foster community spirit. He was nice, actually.

Secondly: she did not have a couch. An absurdly squishy chair, yes. Tissues and a bin placed tactfully by. A clipboard. Many pamphlets, some of which she didn’t seem to think much of and crossed bits outta before handing them to me. I admire that.

Thirdly: apparently my depression is ‘quite severe’. I was kind of chuffed to hear that. Last time I did the multiple choice test it was only ‘moderate to severe’, and it’s always nice to feel one isn’t wasting the taxpayers’ dime.

Fourthly: I need to Nurture Myself.

Actually, it was kind of fun. She made me tell her about things that give me pleasure, and then we rated the pleasure out of 10 and compared it to the effort, also out of 10, which it took to achieving said pleasure. The idea is to try to do things which give one maximal pleasure at minimal effort. So, for example, taking a refreshing hike up a mountain might give one a 7 for pleasure, but a 10 for effort, and is therefore not that helpful as one will simply spend the rest of the week lying flat on one’s back with achy thighs and sunburn. But eating a Bounty bar, while it may only give one a 3 for pleasure, takes like 0.5 effort-points, and is therefore… more worthwhile? That doesn’t seem right. Possibly I am drawing the wrong moral here. Anyway, the upshot of it all is that we decided I like baking. Which is hardly a revelation, but I suppose it’s nice to have it professionally confirmed at a low low price.

Going back to Disneyland, sadly, is an uncompromising 10 on the effort scale, and also unsubsidised. Do you think Make a Wish - no, probably not. Shame.

Also, I don’t know how the cool kids are Nurturing Themselves these days, but her suggestions were that I could ‘go get a haircut’ (rude?) or ’sit by myself for half an hour and just breathe’, which I do already, lady, it’s called BEING DEPRESSED. Was that inspiring. I was hoping she’d insist I take up zorbing or paragliding or moving to Oxford to do the occasional paper in children’s literature and punt a lot. (Well, sit in a punt. Not actually punt. Remember the Effort Scale. Also, can’t punt. Can you?)

So…. yup. One session down, three to go. Will keep you apprised. Possibly. Honestly, I might not. And I shall make no promises, because putting Expectations on myself only leads to a Fear of Failure, which is a Negative Thought I should not attempt to Judgmentally Change but merely Acknowledge, on the grounds that Negative Thoughts are like other people’s toddlers and if you stare at them in a fixed, neutral way as they approach, they will get nervous and slink on by. (Which is certainly better than trying to change someone else’s toddler. A nappy joke. Ha-ha! See, I’m better already.)

Posted in havers
July 18th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

1. Hennaing one’s roots with Tiny Miles as an audience is delightful.

Miles: “Ewww, Mummy, you got some yucky on you ear!”

Me, deftly applying henna down my parting with a soup spoon: “It’s OK, I’ll wash it off.”

Miles: “Cause it’s yucky?”

Me: “Yes. It’s yucky on ears, but it’s OK on my hair.”

Miles: “Why do you want dat yucky on you hair?”

Me: “To make it red.” [Thinks: Ha! Did not say 'To make it pretty', implying a hierarchy of hair-colour beauty and setting him up for a life of casual misogyny and frosted tips]

Miles: “Why you want to make you hair red?”

Me: “Because look, most of it is red, but when my new hair grows here at the roo- at the top, it’s not so red, so I’m making it red like the rest, see?’

Miles, wisely: “Oh. Do your new hair not work any more?”

Me: “…No, it works. It’s just not red.”

Miles: “Mummy! You got scoop on you hands too!”

Me: “Scoop? Oh, goop. Heh. Yes. It’s OK. I’ll wash it off.”

Miles: “You gonna wash it off you head?”

Me: “Yes, later; after you’ve gone to bed. It takes a while for the red to work.”

The snortlepig, coming in unexpectedly: “Whoa! You’re surprisingly good at that.” [Leaves]

Miles, looking with mingled horror and longing at the henna mug: “I’m not gonna eat dat.”

Me: “No, it’s not for eating. It’s only for making hair pretty.” (DANGNABBIT!)

Miles: “I wouldn’t want dat scoop on my head.”

Me, still flummoxed: “No, but you don’t need to have henna on your head, because you have lovely blond hair.” (WHAT ARE YOU SAYING, HITLER?)

Miles: “Yeah.” [Pulls the top drawer halfway out of the chest of drawers and begins to climb into it in order to reach the top, on which the bathroom mirror is precariously perched]

Me: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

Miles, surprised: “I’m just climbing like dis.”

Me: “No no no! That’s very dangerous. We Don’t Do That.”

Miles: “I’m jus’ climbing to get to da top. I show you.”

Me: “Don’t show me! No no. Push it back in. That’s not a good thing.”

Miles: “I jus’ want to look in da mirror.”

[Miles stretches on tiptoes, manages to catch a glimpse of himself and beams with unalloyed pleasure. I wrap my head in a plastic bag and retire to the living room to have a chat with Miles about sterilising the undesirables, having come this far.]

2. I weaned myself off Citalopram and now I keep getting really, really angry about misattributed Pinterest quotes.

3. There is a disembowelled, inside-out ex-hedgehog on our driveway. It may be Reggie the Hedgie, our resident garden porker. If so, he got over his prickle-baldness only to succumb to (presumably) cherry-picker squashage. If not, we have a sick hedgehog and a dead hedgehog on the premises. Neither of those scenarios is comforting.

4. If you were an actor on Star Trek, don’t you think you’d feel kind of cheated playing a human? I mean, being a Vulcan or a Klingon might be somewhat limiting after a while - a Trill, less so - but it’d be more fun, kind of. Deanna got to make up her own accent, and Kira had nifty nose-ridges. Plus you’d get nifty rituals and weapons and snatches of language and wedding traditions and an exotic homeworld and apparently, regardless of race, a ton of candles.

I asked George Takei about this once at a convention, and he not only misunderstood the question but answered the completely different question I hadn’t asked with a certain tired patience, as if I were a mouth-breathing moron who’d clawed her way out of the basement with a mighty mousing hand and three other atrophied limbs. Never liked him since.

Posted in havers
July 4th, 2014 | 5 Comments »

1. We are very proud of Helpdesk Man. Two nights ago he came down with the lurgy and woke me up in the small hours to demand a Receptacle. The only thing I could find at such short notice was a one-litre Pyrex measuring jug. Despite having eaten next to nothing all day, my man managed to produce 850mL so rapidly we began to worry about overflow. Well done, Helpdesk Man!

2. I love libraries.

This was not always the case. As a smallish child I once lost a book and had to pay for it, which was trebly distressing because a) Mum was peeved, b) paying up decimated my tiny bank account, and c) I was SURE I’d returned it. Traumatised and broke, I avoided the library for the next two years. On my next reluctant visit, what did I find in the Core Stock? The missing book. I triumphantly presented a very worn receipt from the depths of my purse and demanded my thirty dollars from a bemused librarian while the angels rejoiced. But the library-phobia lingered, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I got back into ‘em.

Recently, though? They make me quite giddy.

One enters the fiction section and invariably suffers from an initial disappointment. “There’s nothing heeeeere,” one whinges at passing strangers, curling one’s lip at row after row of The Secret Diaries of the Many Lovers of a Minor Tudor and pallid romcoms which hope invoking Jane Austen in the title will lead them to posterity. One begins to believe one must have already read everything worth reading and what’s the point of going on?

And then somehow, despite oneself, creeping slowly backwards around the shelves with one’s head on sideways, a pile accumulates. Another Alexander McCall Smith - ehh, might as well. A couple of Terry Pratchetts - ooh, I haven’t read that one. The Lovely Bones - well, I didn’t like the movie, but might as well see if the book’s better. Carrie Fisher - that’s right, Carrie Fisher writes novels! And ooh look, a PG Wodehouse tucked between Mr Darcy’s Sultry Temptation and The Jane Austen Skydiving Posse 2: Vegas Vacation.

By the time one makes it to the non-fiction section one is already respectably loaded, and then the real fun begins. A memoir of nursing in the 1950s… a book on the science of cooking… the untold stories of how new species were discovered… a defense of plastic surgery written by a plastic surgeon… Michael Pollan… midwifery throughout history… Oliver Saks… Roswell conspiracy theories. And the next thing you know, you’ve maxed out your library card and have to resort to using the snortlepig’s for the last five books, hoping she won’t object to Polyps: An Intimate History appearing on her permanent record.

This leads to to two conclusions. First, libraries are awesome. Secondly, they are the direct opposite of fabric stores, which give the initial impression of varied abundance and leave one sobbing among the Notions half an hour later because there isn’t a single bolt of smoky blue dress fabric to be had in the place, either plain or patterned, even for ready money.

3. If I see ‘best friend’ written as one word one more time, I’m going to burn something down. Probably Pinterest.

Posted in Uncategorized, havers