Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another car disaster

On Tuesdays, I'm at college till 9 at night because I teach an evening class. So I emerged after the class into the darkness of our poorly-lit car park, approached the car from behind, got in, drove home, parked in the driveway and went into the house. The next morning I took the bus to work and walked home. It was only then, on arriving at the front door, that I noticed that someone had bashed and broken a huge hole in the front bumper - and it had to have happened at work. That grey squarish thing you can see inside the car through the hole is a tank of some sort - petrol? Or water? I know nothing about cars but I don't like being able to see the innards of them without lifting the bonnet.

Did the basher leave a little confessional note? Alas, no.

We were rather fed up, as you can imagine, especially when my husband found out on the internet that the car - which is admittedly nine years old, but it goes all right, dash it - is worth only £5oo. So repairing it didn't seem an option, but then neither did driving a car with bits falling off it. And we haven't really been budgeting for a new car.

At work, I sent round a not very hopeful email asking if anyone had seen anything and then went off to teach, grumbling about the human race.

Meanwhile, unknown to me, our facilities manager, who is a trained motor mechanic, read the email and went and found my car in our (large) car park. He inspected it, phoned a garage in the Border country and established that they could supply a second hand bumper and then came to see me to say that the college would get it for me and the motor vehicle department would spray it black, fit it, and touch up the rest of the scrapes all free of charge.

I was so touched. I like the human race again!

(I phoned my husband to tell him the good news and he pointed out that the back bumper has a minor crack from some earlier occasion when someone - can't imagine who - had backed gently into a bollard. But we felt that asking if they could find us a back bumper too might be pressing our luck a tiny bit...)

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Big Bang

On Sunday morning I was in the garden, hanging out the washing in the sunshine, when I paused to stroke Cassie, our girl cat.

Suddenly there was an ENORMOUS crash which reverberated around the city. I checked for Apocalyptic horsemen galloping through the garden. I didn’t see any.

Cassie was no longer much in evidence either. One second she was basking on the lawn, having her head patted; the next she was a furry black streak, diving into the lilacs.

Then I remembered having heard that this was going to happen some Sunday morning soon, about 3 miles from where we live:
This, then, was that Sunday.
Cassie tiptoed cautiously out of the lilacs and zoomed into the house. She retreated under the table and stayed there for some time.

A few moments later, Sirius, our boy cat – who had clearly been further away at the time of the Big Bang – dashed into the kitchen, panting and wild-eyed. His panicked gaze fell upon his food bowl and we could see him thinking: This might be my last meal! Better make it a good one! Rushing over, he started cramming cat biscuits into his mouth like a man in a pie-eating competition.

The pair of them still look suspiciously over their shoulders when they go outside.

Monday, September 15, 2008

On Saturday

On Saturday, our son bought a new car – well, newish – in the town where he’s living, to replace the one that slid into a wall the other week.

He was telling his dad about it on the phone: man-talk of heated seats, electric sunroof, alloy wheels and such fascinating details. After a while, I said, “What colour is it?”

“I never asked,” said my husband and then said into the phone, “Your mum wants to know what colour it is.”

Pause. “Black.”

“That’s a bit boring,” I said. Then, rethinking this, I said, “Ask him if it crashes.”

“Your mother wants to know if it can crash.” My husband listened to the answer. “No, it apparently runs on little tracks fastened to the road.”

That’s ok then.

On Saturday also, I went for a walk in the Botanic Gardens, one of my spiritual homes. It's coming on to autumn but there were still many flowers, such as the rose at the top of the page (yes, it was raining slightly) and the asters immediately above here.

There were frilly Japanese anemones...

... and little cyclamen under a tree.

Look, here's a very old fossil tree from Craigleith Quarry, a couple of miles away.

It still looks quite like a tree...

... despite being 340 million years old. I don't think I'm quite so well preserved even now.

Dahlias - a wonderful bright red on a grey day.

Autumn leaves on damp ground.

Quite a lot of the benches have dedications on them, including this one. The dedication always intrigues me: to "Our spirited parents". I feel that spirited parents might be a bit wearing, myself. It sounds like a euphemism, don't you think?

I wouldn't have known that this was a euonymus, but that's what the label says. Singing colour, though.

If there's anything Scotland does well, it's puddles.

And grey squirrels. Some people don't like them - rats with tails, they say - but the tails make them so pretty and graceful, even if grey squirrels aren't indigenous and are crowding out the red ones.

I love the herbaceous border, though am glad we don't have to cut the hedge.

On the way home, I passed Fettes College, alma mater of Tony Blair and, one hears, part of the inspiration for Hogwarts.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

For Old Black

I love Old Black's comment (a male reader! - most rare) on my previous post:

The big question is: who are the four people in the photo on the fridge and what are they / have they been doing?...and what is that red thing hovering above the people in the left hand photo?
The four people on the right, Old Black, are our two daughters, our son and our son-in-law, sitting on garden chairs in obedience to their mother/in-law, who wanted a photo of them. We were in the garden of a house-swap holiday house in Malmo (imagine two dots above the "o", please) in Sweden at the time. The picture is now a bit faded, having been exposed to the blazing Scottish sun in our kitchen for a few years.
The people in the left-hand photo are our son and his girlfriend, in beautiful New Zealand - not, I think, despite the suggestion on the fridge magnet below, at Marlborough Sound. I do now wonder what the big black monster is, climbing out of the water on the right of the picture and just about to come and inspect them...
The hovering red thing is another fridge magnet in the shape of a car.
The fridge magnets on the right come from... the tile one might be from Delft, possibly; the ones with quotations from Shakespeare probably belong to Daughter 1; and the one at the bottom is from Rome - a cat sitting on a huge stone foot.
Thanks for asking!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The ups and downs of being a cat

Happy birthday for two days ago, Daughter 1!

The cats are still enjoying the garden even though the people have to be at work. I want to be a cat.

On the other hand, Cassie got locked in the garage for four and a half hours yesterday. We couldn't think where she was. Daughter 2 went searching outside and traced the mewing to source. Cassie likes being locked in the garage even less than she likes being around when the freezer's being defrosted. Like Queen Victoria, she was Not Amused.
She's all right now, though her nine lives seem to be being used up rather rapidly.
I'm awash with marking and schedules and making up lessons, all of which fill my days and evenings and thoughts. So I still want to be a cat, despite occasional garage mishaps.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

This weekend

The weekend:

Friday evening: book group.

Saturday morning: went to supermarket at 7.20 am so that husband could have car in time to pick up my mother at 8.40 am to take her to the Church of Scotland Guild annual meeting in distant town - son has our other car in different distant town. By mistake, locked keys with shopping in boot (trunk) so that husband had to catch bus and then run down the road from bus stop with spare keys to rescue me. Husband didn’t reproach me. Ah, a good man is worth more than rubies (though I also like rubies).

Rest of Saturday: did some blog-reading then some housework including defrosting freezer. Cats did NOT like latter, which involved cold air, lumps of ice flying across the kitchen as I chipped it off, ice melting chillily on kitchen floor and me using noisy hairdryer to speed up the process. Daughter 2, who had sore throat, did some reading for her work on the sofa. Or that was the idea.

In evening, went to party given by colleague. Husband, not long home from sitting through day-long meeting with my mother, nobly accompanied me to party though he’s more of a sit-in-front-of-television-with-cat-on-knee person than a party person.
Sunday: went to church. Had Daughter 1, SIL, mother to lunch with Daughter 2, husband and me. Took mother home. Took Daughter 1 and SIL (who don't have a car) to buy sawdust for their guinea pigs, to supermarket and then their home. Came home myself. Went out for walk with husband. Tidied up. Sat down to type out year-long schedule for one of my classes, but first answered some emails. Then put off work slightly further by writing this blog but any minute now will get down to that schedule, which will take me some considerable time. It’s now 10.50 pm.
These are some of the reasons why I don’t make quilts or knit socks or do anything creative.
580 working days to go before I retire.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Work for some

Cassie is fine. So is Sirius.

They've been taking it easy. Convalescence, you know.
I haven't. Work is very time-consuming! I have no evenings again. I snatch quick reads of blogs at lunchtimes but can't comment. But you're writing some very good ones!

The boy returned to his work on Monday night, in his distant town. With our second car, normally used by Daughter 2. But he needs it and she loves him.

He left this note. And some clothes in the washing basket. We miss him.