Sunday, June 29, 2008

A smelly post

Here are some more pictures taken by Mr Life of our boy washing the skylights. I think they're rather striking.

By the way, remember the Gorgonzola that was making our fridge smell bad?

I force-fed it to Mr Life. That should do the trick, I thought.

But the fridge still smelt.

So I took everything out and washed down the shelves and walls to try to eradicate the smell.

Which is when I found

the remains of a packet of prawns (bought for the cats)

seven days past its eat-by date.
Very stinky indeed.
I didn't make anyone eat the prawns. Not even the cats.
These pictures are, of course, in the wrong order, since I temporarily forgot that Blogger insists on showing the last first (very Biblical). But they took SO LONG to load (as I sat reading the poems of Norman MacCaig to while away the time) that I couldn't be bothered doing them again. Just look at them backwards to get the sequence. Or not.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Various Life events

What else has been happening in Life land? Well, the cats have been having a bit of a nap.

Our son has been up on the roof, washing the skylights.

When he came down, Daughter 2 gave him a halo. He calmly continued to read his book.

She bought her actor boyfriend a ukelele and he sat in the garden, practising it. In Britain, we spell "practice" with a "c" if it's a noun and an "s" if it's a verb, but you don't do that in America, do you? It's the same both times, though I can never remember whether it's always "c" or always "s". How about the southern hemisphere spelling?
He got quite good at the ukelele. I'm not sure if this will further his acting career. He always wears odd socks. Perhaps that will be the key to stardom.

Daughter 2 had a birthday. She is such a darling girl.

These photos are all taken with my husband's expensive new SLR digital camera. I hope you can see the huge improvement in standard compared to the ones I usually post, from my cheap camera. This plant is a trollius. Lovely bright yellow.

Irises. I love irises.

A ceanothus. Great blue, don't you think?
I bought a bit of Gorgonzola in tribute to Suse, but no one's really eating it (I'm certainly not going to; I don't like strong cheese). I wish someone would. The fridge is smelling a bit ripe.
Have a good weekend. I don't want to boast, but I have one more day of work and then six weeks of holiday. (Big grin.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


A couple of weeks ago I went to a school reunion. It was such fun. I know there are those who would never attend such things, but I’m insatiably curious. Also, I’ve known some of these people since I was five years old – even if I haven’t seen a few for a long time – which makes for a strangely intimate sort of relationship. Almost like meeting a blog friend: you have a lot of common ground.

We attended a famous Edinburgh girls’ school, many of us from age five till age eighteen. From age five to ten, there were two classes – I was in the class for slightly younger girls. When we were ten, however, extra pupils came to the school and we were divided into ability streams: top, middle and bottom. Judging people at the age of ten is not necessarily very accurate; however, I was put in the top class and so from then on, my friends mainly came from this group.

My friends B, M (the one who tragically now has dementia), and I organised the first reunion, for this class only, twenty years after we all left school. That was in 1988. Almost the whole class attended, though we were unable to contact two of our number. Everyone else was in touch with someone who was in touch with someone… . Actually, I have to admit that one of these two was the only person I wasn’t terribly keen on at school, so I didn’t try very hard to find her. The other one I liked a lot, but she seemed to have dropped out of the loop.

The first reunion was a great success. At that point we were about thirty-eight years old and some of the class were doing very well in life. One of the slightly eccentric girls was chief accountant of a large firm, for example; two were university lecturers; we had several hospital consultants and so on. Those of us who had less impressive careers, doing things like teaching, tended to have smallish children who took up our time and talents.

We had another reunion five years later which was not quite so well attended, though still most people came. We had located the two missing girls and they came to this event. The person I didn’t like much was still not quite my favourite – though I regret to report that she had somehow been transformed into easily the best-looking of us all – where's the justice in that? - but the other one was sweet.

And then somehow we never arranged another gathering, though we did think about it.

The recent reunion was organised by the school – it was a lunch to which those who left in a year ending in -8 were invited. There were two ladies from 1938, while the youngest ones had left in 1998 and all years in between were represented. A few of the “girls” who attended our group had been in the other two classes and I hadn’t seen them since we were eighteen – though in some cases we’d been in the same class from five to ten. Most people, however, I’d seen at our last reunion. But that had been fifteen years ago.

I was slightly nervous about it. To be honest, I was faintly anxious that my career would seem a bit less than starry. I had nine years as a stay-at-home mum to my three children, went back to work part-time for the next few years before going full-time again, and have never been particularly ambitious. I prefer teaching to administration, which is the fate of those high up the career ladder in education. I knew that at least one of my classmates was a university professor and that others were considerably better-off financially than we are. It didn’t stop me going, but I did wonder whether any of this might matter.

It didn’t. Not a bit. Everyone seemed just the same; forty years was like nothing. The professor had invited us all back to her rather grand flat and we sat around all afternoon eating strawberries, drinking wine and talking of our youth. It was just lovely. One of the hospital consultants, who had been head girl – and was still in charge of us all by force of personality – went round and collected email addresses from everyone (not that she’s circulated them yet, I would have to say) and there was talk of a weekend away for our sixtieth birthday. The good-looking one was still good-looking, but hey, surely she's got to start deteriorating by the next time?

We missed M, though, and someone had the terrible news that another of our classmates, E, also has advanced dementia. What are the chances of that? Two out of twenty-eight of us. Shiver. I hope it wasn't anything to do with the school lunches. And we remembered my dear friend D, who was tragically killed when she was twenty-three by a car that mounted the pavement. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

Which I would do, if I just had a bit more spare time.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

For Suse

This post is for the benefit of Suse, Mrs Pea Soup, who kindly thought of me in her June 15 post ( She was wondering what the word “Gorgonzola” would sound like in an Edinburgh accent. She was having an uneventful day, I imagine.

I thought I should oblige. I had to rope in some technical assistance. Sirius provided the eye candy.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


My marking is finished and sent away. O joy. However, the trouble with being a keen gardener in the marking season – or a marker in the gardening season – is that the garden romps away while the marker is closeted indoors drinking coffee and wielding the red pen. The result is that urgent gardening backlogs await her on finishing the scripts. So I’m still busy – but I much prefer gardening to marking.

While I’ve been slaving on scripts, our son and his beloved have been revising for their finals, which happened last week.
The cats have usually found this quite boring.

At times, though, Sirius has found it all too exhausting even to watch.

But during quiet moments, Cassie has offered advice.

Son and beloved have now passed their exams, however, and are officially doctors. I bought a cake (didn't like to make one in advance of the results, just in case...). Daughter 2 bought them medals (made of chocolate)
and champagne.
The only bad part of this from our point of view is that they start work (in August) in a town about a couple of hours away from here. I, the ultimate in clingy mothers, am not going to take this well, let me warn you now. I know, I know – you rear them to let them fly. Hmm.

Meanwhile, however, the doctor offered to hang out the washing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

How not to start an essay

An essay topic that students frequently choose is that of animal testing. It doesn't gladden my heart to find one of these essays in my marking pile.

The following opening paragraph isn't from my exam marking, just from an essay by one of my students. She's clearly trying her best to achieve the requisite word count and seems to feel that a full stop would interrupt her train of thought.

"Just let me ask you this, if your child or a relative may it be your mother, father, brother, sister, cousin, aunt, uncle or grandparent and they had a fatal brain tumour or cancer would you not let them get treatment so as they could possibly live a longer life, or would you see it that they died sooner just because you believe animal testing is wrong, although some may say "if that's what god intended then so be it" and would never let themselves or any family member be involved in anything to do with animal research."

I have thirty four exam scripts left to mark. Meanwhile the cats are doing a bit of relaxing.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

40 years on...

Busy busy busy here in Life country: Daughter 2's had a birthday, I've been to a (high) school reunion (40 years since we left school - can't wait to tell you about this) and I'm therefore behind in my marking and WAY behind in my blogreading. So - must stop having fun in a moment.

However, the passage that the students had to answer questions about in the exam concerns landscape and the environment and how these change through the years. You might be interested to know from their answers that:

"Stone Age man needed food to survive."

"There are very few bisons, giraffes and hippos in Scotland nowadays."


"We used to have fauna in Scotland but you never see any of them these days."

I'll be back. Save your exciting posts till the end of this week, please.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sleeping and supervising

Some of us were born to do washing and marking

and others - like Cassie - to supervise.

Better test these socks and things for softness, thinks Sirius.

while Cassie checks out of the window for slugs rushing across the lawn.

Look at those envelopes of scripts behind me, says Sirius. Get on with it and stop disturbing me.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The garden show in the sunshine

Thoughtlessly, the Edinburgh Garden Show is always arranged for the weekend in the middle of my marking marathon. However, a girl has to have some time off, so Daughter 1, my mum and I spent a few hours there yesterday. It was hot and sunny and the crowds were out.

Look: some natives talking to a man in a hat.

One often has to go inside the flower hall to shelter from the rain but on this occasion, it was pleasantly cool compared with outside. Why do my clematis not look like these?

A bank of fuchsias. Delicious.

Veg art.

Alliums aplenty.

The bonsai stall - never very sure about bonsai but I think I like them. This azalea or possibly rhododendron was pretty, anyway.

Back home, the cats were enjoying the sun.

It's hot being a black cat.

Sometimes you have to catch a bit of shade...

... before returning to a sunny spot.

My spring pansies are still looking good.

However, this is Scotland and today it's raining. It makes the plants grow. Mr Life relaxes on the sofa with his fluffy friends and the Sunday papers.

Life's exhausting when you're a cat. Or a man.
I've marked 70 out of my 210 papers.