Thursday, 20 December 2012

Return of the Make



It's back! 

My creative mojo finally returned, just in time for a Christmas crafting frenzy.  

Unfortunately its arrival was not accompanied by any great fanfare. There were no bells or whistles. No purple peacocks, white Persian monkeys or dancing elephants. Not even one single spurt of excess energy to herald its homecoming.

Rather it slunk in very much like an errant youth fully cognisant of the upset its absence had caused and the lecture it would receive on its return

"You left without saying goodbye. You didn't call, you didn't write, not even a post card! I had no idea when you'd be back"

So it was a rather sullen mojo I was faced with. One that was not prepared to face the tundra like conditions downstairs ( I swear there is some bizarre space/time rift going on down there and my workroom is actually a wormhole to the arctic), sit behind a sewing machine for hours on end or do more than was absolutely necessary to get by. 



Was I daunted? Heck no! I'm the mother of teenage boys and do battle with sullenness on an almost daily basis, and usually win.  No workroom? Fine, I just brought some bits and bobs in to the house. No sewing machine? Okay, I concentrated on smaller projects that could be done by hand. Just enough to get by? Oh that one was easy, it's exactly my philosophy on dusting. 

A small table by the fire became my temporary workspace (as did most of the surrounding area, I'm not the tidiest of crafters!), and the last couple of weeks has seen a flurry of festive fabric, felt, buttons, beads and ribbon( lots of ribbon, lots and lots and lots...). I made more of the ever popular angels, fairies and  pinecone pals  to sell in a local craft shop and some  silk flower pendants  as gifts ( sorry you're having to look at old pictures but I've misplaced the camera...again) Eventually, faced with my constructive response to it's state of pique my mojo began to be a bit more co-operative, even offering a few flashes of inspiration once in a while.

My take on the 'Tomte'. With unravelled wool hair, a needle felted nose and a jauntily angled hat he sits on a peg so you can clip him anywhere ( I eventually found the camera!) 


However time is marching on, or about to end if you are that way inclined, and in a bid to prepare for Christmas I have had to relinquish my spot by the fire. Crafting is once more put on hold, though hopefully not for as long this time. I'll take the opportunity now to wish you a very happy festive season.


Merry Craftmas

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A bit like Jackanory

I feel I've got you here under false pretences. I started this blog with craft in mind, both my own endeavours and the myriad of talented others in blogland, but I'm afraid there has been a dearth of all things crafty these past nine months. 

I've not been productive in my work room for some time and while I've made a number of comments on that fact they've been rather oblique as to the reason why. Blogland is mighty big and I've always felt that the only way to maintain some semblance of privacy is to keep personal information to a minimum. However in this instance I'm getting just a bit tired of all of the pussyfooting around and think its time I spill the beans (and drop some clich├ęs while I'm at it).

So if you have time I'd like to tell you a story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.




It was a dark and stormy night! I've always wanted to start a story that way but actually, no, it wasn't. It was a rather ordinary Friday evening in the middle of January and I was sitting in front of the fire reading a book. A few chapters in I was having difficulty focusing on the page and decided perhaps I should be wearing at least one of the pairs of glasses I have scattered around the house, especially since I'm constantly reminded that that's what I got them for. 

So I stood up to go and get them .... and almost fell over. Whoa! Must have stood up a bit too quickly. I waited for a moment to regain my equilibrium. But it would seem it had left the building without informing anyone and I was left to stagger from the room like a bagatelle. Don't you just hate it when the minimalist effect you were going for leaves you with very little furniture to hold on to ?   



I was reminded of a similar occasion a number of years ago when a virus of the inner ear had knocked my balance off and prevented me from attending a belly dancing taster session (probably a blessing for all concerned!), and assumed it was the same thing. Fortunately I had an appointment the next week with my GP as my arm, the one that had bothered me last year, was bothering me again. So for the next three days I bounced around the house holding on to whatever I could, if I could see it clearly that is, or crawled when it felt safer than standing up (the boys thought that was hilarious).  On Tuesday the doctor confirmed my diagnosis and I left with a prescription that would see me upright and functioning again. Yay! 

Two days in and the medication didn't appear to be doing much but I knew sometimes these things could take a while. I stumbled to bed that night, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and spat the toothpaste on the floor. What!!!. Well I say spat, what I actually mean is sprayed since my mouth had lost its ability to spit. I would have whistled at this discovery, but I couldn't do that either!




Stupidly I went to work the next morning where I got an ear bashing from my good friend about my lackadaisical approach to the whole thing and a promise from me that I would go back to the GP that afternoon. By the time I got there the entire right side of my face had stopped working, including my eye. Oops! Needless to say a trip to A&E was immediately organised.

After the usual poking, prodding, and the same questions being asked by at least half a dozen different people I was sent for a CT scan. Much to my delight while it proved that I do indeed have a brain (something that had been brought in to question on more than one occasion) it also confirmed that there was nothing else in there taking up space it shouldn't be. They would have liked to have done an MRI to double check but as it was the weekend it would have to wait. I was allowed to go home and told an appointment would be sent out to me.

I was pretty much confined to Moffat for the next three weeks. I couldn't drive anywhere, I always feel its best to stay off the road when you can't decide which white line you should be keeping to the left of. When walking I needed to keep my hands free (thats when I discovered I didn't have any bags that went across my body, what an oversight for someone who makes handbags!), and out to the side slightly to maintain balance. I looked rather like an overgrown penguin and drew some curious looks (and the conclusion in some quarters that I'd taken to drink!). I was still able to go to work, the shop being narrow enough to navigate with plenty to hold on to. 

I took to wearing an eye patch, as much to alleviate the effects of the double vision as preventing scaring babies and small children with my static, unblinking eye. I wish I could say I looked as good as Daryl Hannah but without the sword,...



.... or Gabrielle without the voice......


but in reality I probably looked more like Eli Wallach...without the stetson 


I tried to make light of things. There were numerous quips about where I'd parked my Galleon and what my parrot was doing. At home the boys delighted in swaying from side to side when talking to me, just to see my eye NOT move. There were smiles, there were laughs, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a tad worried.

The day of the MRI dawned, and wouldn't you know it it was the day of Ice. There was a mild panic that morning as it was proving impossible to get down off our hill. With the help of my good friend a plan was hatched and I made it to my appointment.

The following Tuesday, Valentines day, the boys birthday, I got a call from one of my GP's asking if I could come down to the surgery. Oooh, you know its not a good sign when they won't tell you news over the phone. Long story short the MRI showed lesions in some areas. Lesions that were indicative of MS. Multiple Sclerosis. 




Later, my husband and I sat in the car. He let out one short, succinct expletive, squeezed my hand until the bones squeaked and then we set off home. I shut myself in the bedroom , called my sister and then my friend. Strangely, telling them, consoling them, letting them know that I was okay made me feel back in control. A quick cold cloth to the face and it was time to continue with the boys birthday celebrations. Well that's what you do isn't it?

A few weeks later a consultation with my neurologist (a rather handsome young man that had me feeling like a Harry Enfield character), suggested there was a possibility that my symptoms were caused by a simple viral inflammation. A lumber puncture would be required for a definitive diagnosis. Oh goody! What? Were we going with the good news bad news scenario here? 

By mid April there was no doubt. MS it was then. A few intensive treatments had my balance restored, my eyesight almost back to rights and my arm more or less behaving itself. I started driving again in June. Life is pretty much back to normal. I administer medication every week to hopefully slow down its progress and any further relapses, but other than that I'm not thinking about it too much. 

I had hoped that once the physical symptoms had been resolved I would get back to my work room but it seems my crafting mojo is still on sabbatical. Please bear with me. I'm sure, like Arni, it will be back :o)   





Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Flatpack Frenzy


Space... the constant bugbear.
These are my voyages down the aisles of Ikea. My continuing mission : to explore strange new shelves, to seek out new drawers and new storage solutions, to no doubt buy what everyone’s bought before.

You may remember last year I posted about my addiction to flat pack furniture and no.1 sons new bed . Apart from the struggle I had changing the sheets (stechie me!) I'd discovered, whilst dismantling it, that the solid construction of the bed base had reduced airflow through his memory foam mattress, resulting in the formation of mould/mildew (ewww!). Fortunately this wasn't a problem for no.2 son as his mattress was an old spring one and seemed to cope with the limited ventilation. 
When those very springs began to interrupt his sleep, poking him with a relish I find difficult to attribute to an inanimate object but have his assurance was indeed the case ,it became apparent that a new mattress was required. Subtle hints were dropped that he would quite like a 'comfy' one like his brother (okay not so subtle really)
With last years discovery in mind I eventually managed to persuade him to give up his old bed in favour of something more practical, and less likely to become a biological hazard. A new slat based bed was promptly ordered, although I'm afraid my coaxing didn't go as far as getting him back to floor level. Another high sleeper it was then, very similar to this one (I would have taken a picture of his but I finished it quite late and couldn't find the camera. He had 'colonized' it by the following day and I couldn't bring myself to post such a horrific image). 
  

His two chest of drawers fit neatly underneath but with the loss of the integrated wardrobe, shelving and desk there was a distinct lack of storage, many items having to languish on the floor. One shopping trip, two days and a case of screwdriver fatigue later...... 



...two new chest of drawers for his brother (my formula for a happy household: never give to one without giving something, what is not important, to the other. Besides I needed his old drawers in the laundry room)...   


....a mini wardrobe on wheels....


...two small drawer units for all of the various little "things" they usually keep in their pockets(*shudder*)...



...and last by no means least, a shelf unit that should accommodate most of no. 2 sons books, those that until now have been doing rather wondrous impersonations of the leaning tower of Pisa. I'd had to admit defeat by this time ( my arm went in a huff) and the boys actually helped me with its construction, even followed the instructions for a while (leading me to believe it's not genetic, it's learned behaviour!)

So was the mammoth flat pack session a success? As far as having my jigsaw fix for the year goes then yes it was. Did it give them a space for everything so that everything could be in its place? No, of course it didn't. It would appear that teenage boys deem any horizontal surface a suitable storage solution, even if they have to walk around, over or through it. Who knew?!


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Brrrrrrrrmmmmm!

Guess who?


 Yup,that's right, it's me! Or it least it was me last weekend at the TI Rally School in Yorkshire. 


The day was a gift, last years Christmas present actually, from my husband, and I can honestly say it has to go down as one of the best presents I've ever received. It was absolutely fantastic. I doubt very much if he will ever be able to cash in the brownie points earned on this little jaunt.

So why the rally driving experience?  I'm not by any means a petrol head (as far as I'm concerned torque is a type of neck jewellery). Nor am I an avid rally fan ( if not for the power of google I wouldn't even know who Sebastien Loeb is ) but having caught a bit of the world championships on TV, one of those channel flicking moments, I remember saying it looked like fun and I'd love to give it a go. 

Which just goes to prove he does listen to me occasionally ;o)  



Spot the lone female amongst all the raging testosterone!


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Post Wedding Holiday Holiday

Eek! Where did the last three weeks get to? We arrived back from our holiday, which included the wedding, on the 19th and I had every intention of taking the time the following week to let you know how the ' killer heels ' had performed. But it would seem I needed a holiday to recover from our holiday ( does this happen to anyone else? ) and it's taken me longer than expected to get back in to the swing of things. Still, better late than never eh? 

The wedding was wonderful, a truly joyous event. The bride was radiant, the groom jubilant ( or was it the other way around?), and I swear it was almost possible to eat the accumulated joie de vivre with a spoon. I think I may just have enjoyed it a smidgen more than my own.


Living so far from home it must have been hard for my sister-in-law, planning the event without the usual input and support from family. Then again she's a bit of an organisational genius so it was no surprise the day went so well. However I'd love to know just who she spoke to in order to arrange the appearance of this particular phenomenon after the ceremony. Clever girl!


I was asked for a little help a few months before the big day. She was in need of two ring bearer pillows and hadn't seen any she liked. Initially the design was going to be a bit fun and quirky, much like her, but then I was sent a sneak preview of the dress and decided to go for something a bit more elegant. You can see why!



It was doubtful that my limited beading skills could match such stunning embellishment but I thought I could simplify it slightly. I focused on the shoulder detail of overlapping leaves and the simplicity of the front of the dress.  


A brief forage in the garden provided me with birch leaf templates to work from. Yes, yes, I know, I could have found any number of templates online but I was feeling a little bit sentimental. My Sister-in-law used to live in our house, many of the birch trees in the garden grew up with her, and I wanted a little bit of home to be with her on her day. Okay, so it's a tad lame, what can I say? Everyone gets to be as gooey as a toasted marshmallow sometimes.
Anyway, here's what I came up with and fortunately it did the trick. 




And as for those shoes of mine?  Well, I didn't fall over, not once, not even when clambering up a gangplank ( long story that doesn't involve handsome pirates so not really worth the telling) which I feel is always a good thing to be able to say of any days events ( the not falling over bit, not the lack of handsome pirates).

Now you may have guessed that I'm not keen on posting recognisable photographs on the web thingy but since I've been asked so nicely for a view of the dress here it is. 


So the fabulous footwear behaved itself and I managed 8hrs before I finally succumbed to the fanciful flatties I'd taken with me just in case.


I shouldn't have worried though, not when there were three generations of handsome men on hand to lend a supporting arm if required. Who needs pirates :o)

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Dinner Shoes

Well, that's what I call them anyway. Perhaps you know the ones I mean? Fabulous shoes that make you look stylish. Sensational shoes that make you feel sexy. Awesome shoes that unfortunately will only take you from the car to the restaurant before the balls of your feet start to burn. Shoes that should have no place in the wardrobe of a woman of my age and supposed wisdom. Ha!


To be fair I've avoided the lure of such footwear for the last four years. A combination of uneven paving slabs, a ticking clock and a pair of red patent peep toe 4 inch wedges left me with a flake fracture, torn ligaments and a new respect for 'killer heels'. My shoe cupboard has become a heel free zone.


There are times however when only a pair of Stupendous shoes will do, when the fear of possible injury must be overcome for the sake of stately extra inches and well defined calves. My sister-in-law is getting married in a couple of weeks and I felt it was time to loosen my self imposed stiletto embargo. These were the result.




I didn't actually mean to get a pair that were quite so high. I blame the need to colour match them to my dress. These were the only pair I could find that were exactly the right shades ( yes, my dress is pink and orange, part of the whole getting used to colour I mentioned way back here, but it is tempered with some ivory and beige, can't have me getting too carried away now can I)


Having worn flatties for the last few years I look upon my new shoes as something of a challenge. I thought it would be best to wear them a few times before the wedding, breaking them in so to speak as well as acclimatising myself to the thinner air at altitude. So for the last few weeks I've been prancing around in them while doing my chores, much to the hilarity of the men of the house. 


The highlight for my charming family came when I went to do the ironing. I stood for a good 5 minutes trying to work out why the board was jamming at a lower level than normal. Try as I might I couldn't get the damn thing to rise high enough. It was bad enough when my own stupidity dawned on me, that moment when I realised the board wasn't shorter, I was taller. But my dopiness had been witnessed, and judging by the incredulous looks and voluble mirth I doubt very much if I'll ever be allowed to forget it. 


I've given up practising and have decided that if I get my 6 foot plus boys to walk at either side of me I can hook my arms through theirs and they can hoist me up half an inch. It's a bit early in the year for 'walking in the air' but needs must. Besides, having done it for them so often when they were younger I think its payback time.


One last thing before I go. Since it took soooooo long finding the shoes I decided it would be easier to make a bag myself. As luck would have it I had some pink silk in my stash and wonder of wonders it was a match. As my sewing skills still aren't quite back to normal I cheated slightly and bought a clutch case and frame. My slightly wobbly hand was actually a boon when it came to spreading the glue :o) I think it turned out rather well if I do say so myself. 





  

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Nomenclature.

Housewife! Grrr. I hate the term. 


Somebody somewhere has to come up with a better name for it. I mean for goodness sake I'm not married to the damn thing am I? If I was you can rest assured it would have sued for divorce years ago on the basis of irreconcilable differences and neglect. 


Homemaker isn't much better in my book. I am not the only person responsible for making our house a home. It kinda denigrates the input of the rest of the household don't you think? Not only that but it makes it sound as if I should be following some universal recipe or pattern, which I've yet to receive by the way.


As for Stay at Home Mum! Okay, so I'm a mum and I don't actually have a paid job that requires a 9-5 Monday to Friday routine, but I sure as heck don't stay at home every day either. There are numerous volunteer positions out there that wouldn't be filled if we mum's did decide to confine our duties to our own little enclave. 




With that small rant over I have to admit that regardless of which label is eventually decided upon it's not going to change the fact that I'm not a very good one. One of the reasons is my lack of organisation in some areas and an over abundance of it in others. In other words I get caught up in the teeniest tiniest of details, often fixating on them, and subsequently ignore the bigger picture.


For instance, while all of my flatware may be polished and facing the same way in the cutlery drawer, there could very well be a couple of casserole dishes soaking in the sink. For every pair of socks patiently matched and flyped ( and believe me with 3 males in the house there are more than a few ) there is likely to be a shirt languishing in the ironing basket. While the mirrors in the house may be sparkling and smudge free its debatable whether the sun would be able to shine through the grime on the windows to reflect in them.


But my particular domestic drawback is never more obvious than when I go grocery shopping. The usual weekly provisions are deposited in the basket with little thought, so ingrained that if I were a spy I would probably recite bread, milk and cheese instead of name, rank and serial number. It's when I have to replenish an occasional consumable, the ingredients that are only used once in a while, the problem presents itself.

You see I don't write things down, it would be a waste of time since I've never quite got the hang of taking a list with me. Instead I try to remember the required items. And shockingly I do remember them - quite often for the next five shopping trips! Once its in my head its there to stay , no matter how many times I buy it. So I find myself with cupboards filled with a glut of bottled lemon juice, mango chutney, Worcestershire sauce, desiccated coconut, mushroom ketchup ....... the list goes on. My latest fixation was mayonnaise. I now have 6 large jars of it at my disposal. 


In an attempt to rectify the situation, and since I have still to return to my workroom, my creativity has moved to the kitchen and I'm currently experimenting with ways and means of incorporating mayonnaise into our meals. So far the results have been edible, always a boon I feel, and while many efforts will never see a saucepan again two new family favourites have emerged. One uses the mayonnaise almost as a carbonara sauce substitute. I figured it almost had the same ingredients so why not give it a go with some bacon and tagliatelle. The second one is this....




...I can assure you it tastes much better than it looks, please put it down to poor photography. A combination of beef strips, mushrooms, onions, mayonnaise, french mustard, horseradish, stock and mushroom ketchup ( see what I did there, I managed to use two of my excesses! ) We haven't given it a name yet, I just get asked for that beefy mayonnaise thing, but I have taken the time to write down ingredients and amounts so I'm not the only person in the household who knows how to make it.


So does that make me a chef? A cook? No, it just makes me a slightly obsessive compulsive 'housewife' who needs to clear out her cupboards and learn to make lists. 

Thursday, 28 June 2012

An awkward silence

Actually that should be "awkward silences" since they seem to me to occur with frightening regularity. Quite surprising really for someone who is known amongst close friends for my ability to talk for Britain.  


There I'll be at some do or another exchanging polite chit chat, keeping things going, passing the discussion back and forth like a ball in some PE warm up exercise. My attention will begin to wander, diverted perhaps by something on the periphery, and before you know it the conversational ball has been dropped. Silence ensues. 




I now have two options. I can scurry after the ball, not quite sure which direction it was headed in,  and try to get it back in play. Or I can bow out of the game and move on ( it's not been the first time a glass of wine has been perfunctorily quaffed to allow an excuse for escape). The option taken depends on the company I'm in, how brave I'm feeling, and quite possibly the number of wine glasses I've emptied already. 


But what happens when the uncomfortable interlude is not just a lull in conversation due to a lack of concentration. What happens when its due to an unreturned phone call or a letter that deserves a reply? I'm ashamed to say I have created more than my fair share of those particular silences. A silence that grows more awkward as time ticks by, a silence that becomes increasingly difficult to break with each day that passes. I consider myself very lucky to have friends and family that are very accepting of this failing of mine and are willing to forgive my lapses in communication.


I do eventually pick up the phone or put pen to paper. So getting back to blogging shouldn't be so different....should it? 

Friday, 11 May 2012

Onwards.....

I've been a bit lax with my blogging and blog reading these last few months. I do hope none of you lovely bloggers out there that I usually comment on have taken offence at my silence, it's nothing personal I assure you. It's just that I'm afraid life has intruded somewhat and I've found it difficult to concentrate. Some things take a bit of time to get your head around and don't leave room for much else.


However the other day I decided to go for a walk in the woods. I hadn't taken that particular path since Deefer, our beloved dog, left us 18 months ago. It was a bright Spring morning, one to be taken advantage of since they have been in short supply here since the season began.





The ground was slightly moist underfoot and each step I took released the pungent odour of nurturing decay. I caught myself inhaling deeply and realised I had missed the smell. With every breath I could feel my heart lighten and a smile tug at my lips. The sun shone through acid green leaves, the undergrowth rustled with wildlife and lambs were making a rammy in the field beside me. And the turmoil in my head became calm.


No, I didn't have a miraculous revelation or some blinding flash of insight. I simply felt good. I passed a couple who were sharing a small picnic on a fallen log. We exchanged pleasantries, commented briefly on the weather, as you do, then I moved on. I smiled at them as I left, and I think it was my first genuine smile in almost three months.


I continued round Gallow Hill with a renewed spring in my step. Well I did until I stumbled, nearly fell, righted myself then looked around self consciously to make sure no one had witnessed my inelegant flailing of arms ( think 'windmill'). The journey was concluded at a more sedate pace. A spring in your step is all very good but only if it doesn't lead to a bruised derriere!


I arrived home with my head in a much better place than when I had left, much to the delight of the man of the house (he hates seeing me distressed, dislikes it even more when he can't fix things for me).  


I've believed for some time that life doesn't throw anything at you that you are not equipped to deal with, I'd just forgotten that for a while. Time, I think, to get on with it :o)
  

Monday, 16 April 2012

April showers

I like to think I have my inner drama queen under control. Yes, occasionally I can feel her struggle against her restraints, like when I drop a gloopey spoon on my newly washed kitchen floor or discover I've been sewing for the last few minutes without thread in the bobbin, but generally she stays put and fumes quietly to herself.


These last few weeks however have seriously tested that control. 


It started with a hospital appointment. I'm not going to bore you with all the details but that pinched nerve I mentioned way back when, well it wasn't. It turned out to be the result of inflammation which has caused another few issues ( hence my workroom being a no sew area!)
Anyway I had to go for some tests to see what's causing it. The procedure itself wasn't a problem but the poking and prodding required before hand by the registrar and the ubiquitous trainee left my lower back feeling as if a troupe of Leprechauns had just performed Riverdance on it, and stayed for four encores.


She'd raised her head having sensed the possibility of a rant. 


After getting the boys off to school the following morning I decided the safest and most comfortable place for me would be back in bed. I hadn't taken No 1 sons desire to tussle with a hedge in to account, or his inability to keep a cycle helmet on his head past our garden gate. The hedge won, his head lost.


He takes his helmet with him but it spends more time strapped to his bag than on his head


One mild concussion later and there I was, trying to find a comfortable spot on the couch beside him in order to monitor his condition as per the GP's instructions, all the time fluctuating between the desire to hold him, comfort him and berate him for not wearing his helmet. The conflict of motherhood! How often does the hand that soothes the fevered brow itch to administer a clip round the ear?


She'd now thrown her hands in the air, gesturing wildly.


A few days after that the plumber called to let me know our new water heater had arrived and could be installed the following week. We needed to move our existing one to allow for remodelling the bathroom and had decided to replace it with one that could be used with solar panels - it all seemed such a good idea at the time. Ah, hindsight!


Our new, all singing, all dancing Dalek of a hot water tank


A flurry of cleaning ensued.(Ridiculous really since from previous experience I know that the house will descend into chaos within minutes of any workman arriving, but it somehow makes me feel better knowing it's clean to begin with.) Halfway through this frenzy the vacuum cleaner started to make some very strange noises. The drive belt had gone! Well, I guess the hoovering would just have to wait until it was repaired. 


The first week of the holidays arrived and at 8 a.m on the dot so did Dave the plumber, much to the disgust of my two teenage sons who had been looking forward to a fortnight of 'lie ins'. They made sure everyone was aware of their displeasure.
The swap over of tanks did not go as smoothly as planned (now there's a surprise). Years of extensions and remodelling had left a labyrinth of pipes under the floor as well as in the loft that Daedalus would have been proud of. Poor Dave spent three full days trying to find out which ones were redundant before he could complete the job. 
Just some of the pipes under the floor


That wasn't the only problem. We knew that the shower in the bathroom would no longer be usable but since it was due to be replaced it wasn't an issue. What we didn't know was the two remaining showers would also be unusable as they were supplied by a different source and there would be incompatible water pressure. To get to the pipes to rectify this we had to sacrifice our en suite.


My de-tiled en suite. Oh well I wanted the tiles replaced at some point anyway.


By this point my inner drama queen was tearing theatrically at her hair.


Two days in to the four of us using the remaining shower, the one we'd had fitted last year in preparation for the destruction of the main bathroom, I discovered it was leaking. While I was searching for more old towels to mop up the water the phone rang. My vacuum cleaner couldn't be fixed without considerable outlay. Great! The carpet hadn't been hoovered for a week and was beginning to make me twitch. 
Okay, I can deal with this I thought. I decided to borrow the spare that my husband keeps in his workroom. Twenty minutes after switching it on it suddenly stopped. I'd managed to kill another one, only there was no possibility of an expensive resurrection this time.


She was beginning to slip free of her restraints.


Trying to see a silver lining I remembered an ad. for a Dyson special offer that would give 20% off a new vacuum if you sent them back an old one. The man of the house was dispatched to retrieve the belt deficient hoover. His van was blocked in by the joiners who at that moment were tearing the rest of the bathroom apart so he decided to take my car. It wasn't playing. Since I hadn't driven it for three months it would seem that in a fit of pique the battery had discharged itself. That's when we discovered the jump leads that had been in the shed were now conspicuous by their absence.


I let her out. I'm not proud of myself. The collected towels were thrown on to the floor, a few choice words were expelled and the deceased vacuum was kicked on the way past as I flounced with Bette Davies haughtiness from the room. It took a couple of damp hankies and a few glasses of red but eventually I regained control.


So today when the bathroom fitters went through an electrical cable and took out all the plug points in the kitchen I smiled serenely 


She collapsed in a swoon, the back of her hand raised to her head.  

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

An ever expanding list (part 2)

Passports!


Well, passport photo's to be precise. I have yet to meet anyone, correction, any woman who is happy with her passport photograph. It offends our sensibilities and seriously messes with our self esteem. Not surprising really, that unsmiling stare doesn't do much for anyone. Mine usually makes me look like a combination of deranged psychopath and the intellectually challenged. Although to be fair after an early morning/late evening start, a three hour wait in an uncomfortable airport, a flight of however many hours in a less than spacious plane serving dubious 'food' it could be said that it's probably doing me some favours :o/




With that being said, while I wasn't expecting the boys to come back with shots that made them look like the next teen heart throbs, I was hoping for ones that wouldn't make me want to be standing three aisles away, looking in the opposite direction during check in.


It was so much easier when they were younger. Perhaps easy is not the right word. While I completely understand the need for children to have their own passports (although can't quite get my head around why only lasting for half as long as an adult one they cost more than half the price!) did anyone at the identity and passport service actually stop to think how difficult it was going to be for parents to get an acceptable photograph of their infant?


I was fortunate. The boys were nearly two and a half before we were invited to join their grandparents on holiday. I dutifully set off, with the help of my mother-in-law, to obtain the appropriate images. After two aborted attempts at the photo booth it became apparent professional help was required. Down a little side street in Dumfries we came across a photographers that was open. In amongst all of the wedding and Gala day shots in the window was a sign advertising passport photographs. Result!


The door had one of those springy bells hanging above us that jingled as we entered. It was quite dark inside since all of the windows had been blanked out with black velvet, the perfect backdrop to the pictures on display within them. A door creaked at the back of the room. I looked at my mother-in-law at the same time as she turned to me. The door creaked again. Okaaaay. So that was a bit spooky! The door opened a bit further and then, with a violent pull, it was opened to its full extent revealing a small woman, dressed in a high necked blouse and long skirt, who must have been about a hundred and three. For some reason  Arsenic and Old Lace immediately came to mind.




Feeling a bit like a landed fish, mouth wordlessly open and gasping I eventually got out the usual pleasantries and explained what we were there for. Full of a charm and grace that is sadly missing in most receptionists these days she informed us that yes, indeed we would be able to get passport photographs of the boys taken that day and ushered us in to the studio. 


It was much lighter in there, white back drops and bright lights creating the illusion of daylight. I was expecting to see the photographer in a corner doing something technical with a light meter and lenses so was completely at a loss when this tiny little woman, wearing orthopaedic braces on both wrists started manhandling a tripod with a camera on top across the room. I looked to my mother-in-law again. She looked back with a raised eye brow that would have done Spock proud.


It transpired the receptionist was the mother of the photographer, who not only minded the shop but could also fill in for him when he wasn't around. She fussed and tutted for a few moments murmuring to herself, leading me to question her suitability for the job in hand.She then proceeded with a strange bird like efficiency to position the boys just so, and somehow managed to get them to stay that way while she took the photographs. Which was a good job really since she wasn't using a digital camera but rather a passport specific instant Polaroid ( producing four identical images on one sheet).


She did however have a problem pulling the paper from the camera, eventually enlisting my help with the procedure. At this point my mother-in-law and I silently, almost telepathically, agreed not to look at one another again in case we offended the old dear by collapsing on the floor in a fit of the giggles.


No 1 son looking suitably worried, as every innocent person going through customs usually looks

No 2 son couldn't help a small smile, it's in his nature, and at the age of  2 is excusable.


Fortunately for my peace of mind by the time the boys next passports were due the local chemist was offering a photograph service. I don't think I could have kept my face straight if I'd had to see her again. 


This years upcoming school trip to Belgium meant another renewal was required. I sent the boys off, stupidly thinking they would be capable of obtaining a decent photograph themselves. Vanity thy name is woman, because its glaringly obvious it doesn't belong to my teenage boys .


They both came home with mug shots that any police file would be proud to sport. All that was missing were height lines and serial numbers along the bottom. No 2 son looked like an ASBO waiting to happen, complete with hoodie, one that he had only been allowed to wear under the explicit instruction it was removed before any camera made an appearance. 
No 1 son on the other hand had excelled himself. He looked like some sort of drug dealer that had sampled too much of his own product.If I hadn't been so taken aback I would have been impressed. What was even scarier was that the assistant had asked them to check the images before she printed them off and they hadn't see anything wrong with them! Geesh!


I met them from school the other week, oversaw the new haircut, frogmarched them back to the chemist and had new photographs taken. Looks like the independence is going to have to wait a while. Either that or I'm going to have to learn to relax:o)
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