Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

On the last day of the year, we went to Perth to show Daughter 2 and Son-in-Law 1 the house that Son and his future wife have bought (they'll be at his young lady's family home tomorrow, so not with us). They haven't moved in yet. Grandson showed Son his new t-shirt. It features a computer joke. (It says, "I'm still in Beta." I had to have it explained.)

Grandson sucked Son's thumb. Large and apparently tasty.

Then we went out for lunch. I did try to post a picture just like this except including SIL 1, but I couldn't persuade that photo not to go sideways.

Apart from the wonderful advent of Grandson, it hasn't been a good year (for me and Mr Life). A bloggy friend recently emailed her thoughts about sadness, which I've found comforting: "I try not to look at my life as linearly as it seems to be in Real Life - there were excellent times in my past and there will be excellent times again - just not this year."

So here I am with my boys, trying to concentrate on those excellent times. (Pity I didn't comb my hair.)

I hope that all my bloggy friends and friendly lurkers have a splendid New Year with lots of excellence.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The world's worst photos?

Well. The second last day of the year and I have... very little to say. So I was trawling through my photos for inspiration and found - these. I have no idea why I took these photos and certainly no idea why I bothered to keep them. The one above - I can't even work out what it is. Are these feet to the left? I can see the reflection of an umbrella and - ah, that wheelie thing is a button, in close up. So the blue thing is my coat. Mmm.

This is clearer. Two pots of crocus and one of daffodils. But not exactly a great image. Possibly the most boring botanic photo I've ever seen.

Ok, getting more confident here. This is Cassie. The famous noseless cat.

And finally, this is our kitchen table. I think I can see half a rather toasted-looking sausage, a slightly burnt cake, some yellow pepper, some grated cheese... . Why did I take a photo of it????

New Year resolution: go through my photos and edit them. Starting with these ones.

I wonder if anyone can surpass these pictures for sheer awfulness? I'm throwing out this challenge... .

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Things to read

Sorry, Son, but I felt that the world needed to see this picture of you on Christmas Day, modelling the t-shirt we gave you (it's lying on your legs) and the oven glove and tea cosy given to you by Daughter 1 and her husband for your new house. I'd never seen you as gnome-like before but here, it must be admitted, you're only missing the toadstool.

These were my presents, almost exclusively books. Two of them were blog-influenced: "The Gauntlet" is the one that you may remember my asking if anyone recognised from my faint childhood memories. Jane of "Jee and Me" told me that her husband said it was this book. And it was. I've now re-read it and enjoyed it, though it's not as good (I now think) as my other youthful favourite, "Tom's Midnight Garden". "The Gauntlet" is filled with probably well-researched information about mediaeval times - clothes and buildings and battles - but it now seems to me a bit heavy in such details. As a child, I didn't think about what seems to me now a big snag: that the main character, Peter, who is whisked back into mediaeval times, has no difficulty in communicating with anybody - which of course he would have, since the language has changed a lot since then. (I don't quite know why I'm cavilling at that, when I seem to accept that he put on a gauntlet and then travelled through time! But there's some attempt to explain that, whereas the language thing is ignored.) Still, I enjoyed it and remembered it for fifty years, so maybe it doesn't matter.

The other book with blog relevance is "Country Boy", which was recommended by Avus of "Little Corner of the Earth". I haven't read this yet.

And "London Belongs to Me" was serialised on the radio and sounded interesting, though in fact I strongly disapprove of London because my brother, my best school friend and now my beloved daughter all went to live there, thus depriving me of their company and seriously depleting the joys of my life.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The King and We

A photo for Son-in-Law 1, to demonstrate that the guinea pigs are well and happy. Brown Pig is hiding in the shadows somewhat, but merely to get a better grasp of the hay sticking out of the log.

Thank you for your kind congratulations on our anniversary. Our darling Daughter 2 came home today for New Year. It was so good to see her, though she has a nasty cold.

She and I took my mother to see "The King and I" at the Festival Theatre. (It's so hard not to say "The King and Me" in this sentence.) It was rather tedious and piffly, I regret to report, especially since it was also rather expensive.

Oh well. The songs were good. Pity there weren't more of them.

Daughter 1, SIL 1 and Grandson get back tomorrow. It will be lovely to see them too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


This is what we did this morning.

We went to Stockbridge and...

had coffee.

Then we walked along here...

... and into the Botanic Gardens.

By contrast, this is what we did 38 years ago today. (The furry stuff is feathers, not fur, by the way. The dress and muff were borrowed from the daughter of my mother's chiropodist.)

Where does the time go?

Monday, December 26, 2011

The book problem

I decided to post every day in December - having missed two days at the beginning of November and therefore not having fully completed NaBloPoMo - so I'll continue to do so despite having nothing much to report. (Sorry.) Christmas Day duly happened, bringing lots of lovely books. The only snag is: where on earth am I going to put them?

Alexander McCall Smith has been wondering recently on the radio how people arrange their books: alphabetically (nice in principle but then you'd need to shift them all along every time you got a new one); by colour (no good unless you're positive that you remember the colour of every cover of every book you might want to find and anyway a bit silly?); by genre (that's the one I sort of adhere to); by author (yes, within the genre I put all the books by one author together). I don't think I heard the beginning of his broadcast but I do remember that he has a "guilt pile" of books that he feels he ought to read, but doesn't.

I do have one of them from time to time. It lives on my bedside table, though doesn't currently exist. (That's a bit of an impossible sentence, isn't it?)

I think I'm going to have to be firm and Get Rid of Some Books. Because even after I did this not all that long ago, the spaces soon got filled up and now we're down to the horizontal-books-on-top-of shelves phenomenon. (But I like my books.)

Yes, I do have a Kindle. And this would be the solution. (But I like real books. Though I feel I should - might actually - grow to love the Kindle.)

Anyway, Son came down to lunch yesterday, thus reducing the average age at the table by - can't be bothered working it out, but quite a lot. Which was nice. (The girls were with their in-laws in the Deep South.) But today has been v-e-r-y q-u-i-e-t. At least, it was quiet in Life Towers. Mr Life drove up to Perth in a van to take some spare family furniture to Son for the house that he and his wife-to-be have recently bought and to help him to assemble a bed . But here - I dusted and tidied a bit and changed the bed and did some washing and suchlike thrills. Zzzzzzzzz.
Here's a picture of Son, not yesterday but a few days ago. Cassie is on his back.

I do sometimes think that maybe I shouldn't post pictures of him because suppose you read my blog and then found that he was about to treat you as a doctor. Would that be odd? Would you trust your doctor less if you'd seen photos of him with a cat on his back or standing in the kitchen wearing his sister's wedding tiara?

And that's probably all I have to say. Till tomorrow. (Don't interpret this as a cliff-hanger promising exciting events to come. Though you never know... .)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

On the first day of Christmas - three guinea pigs

The manger scene, slightly non-standard.

Pumpkin, Cupcake and Brownie - a photo for my son-in-law to reassure him that all is well.

One, two, three.

The flock is complete.

Christmas wishes to all. And now I must get on!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

No one has time to read this so I won't burble on but will post it just for the sake of completeness. Today, a third penguin turned towards its left.

And the little gift was a tree, which.... drum roll...

... I assembled. Yes, two things to slot together and I managed it all by myself.

And that's the end of the Advent gifts, though there's one more flap to lift tomorrow. Judging by its shape I think it might be a - penguin.

I hope those of you who check up on my witterings enjoyed sharing our Advent gifts - thank you so much to our lovely Daughter 2, who went to all that bother.

Have a lovely Christmas, all bloggy friends, whether commenters or lurkers. (I'm assuming that the lurkers are friendly too.) I wish you all the blessings of the season.

I've done the wrapping at last. Hooray.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Another penguin arrival ... and a departure

The penguin assembly is nearly complete now. Various huge Antarctic hedgehogs have come to inspect it. Fortunately the two species don't eat each other.

On the other hand, it's more than possible that Mr Life and I might eat these Christmas trees later this evening. Thank you, Daughter 2!

This morning was taken up with ferrying our lovely Son-in-Law 1 to our house with his and Daughter 1's guinea pigs and all their equipment. You know how you would never believe how much you need to take with you when you have a baby? Nothing to these piggies' accoutrements... . I now have the dauntingly responsible task of keeping them in the pink for six days.

We then returned to the D1/SIL1 house to collect Daughter 1 and Grandson, to take them (and lots more stuff) to the station. Grandson was his usual jolly self. I'm not going to see him for six whole days (every two days has been the norm so far) but I don't grudge him a visit to his Worcester relatives and am sure he'll have a lovely time. He evidently enjoyed his first train journey and entertained the passengers with his cheery beams.

We do have cats. Here is Sirius this afternoon, investigating a box. As cats will do.

Still haven't wrapped anything. Must. Happy Christmas to anyone who won't be back before the big day!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

An elephant joins Rudolph

I'm having great difficulty getting myself into a Christmassy mood.

Daughter 1, SIL 1 and Grandson are going down south tomorrow to be with SIL 1's family, which is perfectly fair since his (very nice) family don't see so much of the three of them as we do. Also it was our turn to have them last year. But it means that they won't be here for Christmas. (Last Christmas Mr Life and I didn't know that we had Grandson sitting at the table with us. And I am so dumb that I didn't even notice that Daughter 1 wasn't having either wine or coffee. She was sure that I would notice this, and would put two and two together. Nope.)

Daughter 2 is going with her new husband to be with his parents, also in the Midlands of England. Again, reasonable enough but we'll miss her. We should get her next year. Son thinks he'll pop down from Perth for Christmas lunch, so he'll probably be here while his young lady sleeps, after administering Accident and Emergency overnight treatment to those of our nothern compatriots who're about to fall over, stab their thumbs with the carving knife, walk into lampposts or develop appendicitis. Still, we'll be a very small party, without even my late aunt, who had Christmas with us every year since 1982, I think. Just Mum, Mr Life, Son and me.

Still, on we plod. Sirius volunteered to add interest to the penguinscape today. "Would you like me this way?" he enquired.

"Or this way?"

More animals for Mr Life to assemble. (He's the assembler in this marriage.)

Look: a reindeer (we're getting Christmassy at last) and an elephant. Presumably a baby elephant, suitable for greeting the baby Jesus. Or I suppose the reindeer might be a giant.

I should really wrap some presents. At least I've iced the cake, though Daughter 2 used to do it so much more artistically. But it's done. And the whole kitchen is sticky so I shall go and deal with this.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The forests of the frozen south

Look at the front of the penguin flock - another left-facing one! (or right, from our point of view).

Oh, one should never attempt ponderous little witticisms - I do know, of course, that there are no trees in the Antarctic (see previous post and an earlier one). Not that I'm an expert in chilly areas; I don't watch David Attenborough programmes very much in case they're a bit red in tooth and claw. I wouldn't like, for example, to see a penguin being eaten by a polar bear. (Joke. I know ...)
Of course, to be strictly accurate, Santa doesn't belong in the Antarctic either since as we all know he lives in Lapland. (Or does the southern hemisphere think differently?)
Here are two Scottish Santas. I wonder if they might get eaten any time soon. I fear it's possible.

I went out to dinner with my ex-colleagues today to celebrate the end of term. It was really lovely to meet them all again and hear the college news. I was puzzled when I turned up at the restaurant at 1.30 this afternoon to find that none of them was there. This is because the booking was for 7.30 this evening, as I found out after texting them all to ask where they were. I fear retirement may be allowing my brain to decay even faster than I'd thought.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How to make a blog out of very little

Nothing much happens when you're a retired person. Or at any rate, nothing much is happening to me. I apologise, therefore, that the blog is a bit short of startling incident. I sometimes feel a bit sorry for myself because I would prefer to be doing more in the way of fun things - circumstances make this difficult at the moment. But then today I got an email from a still-working colleague, who said The workroom is slaughtered with the marking for the Folio essays and all the run-up/run down to the end of the module block. Only the end of term will put a stop to it all. And I felt less sorry for myself and more sorry for my friends.

There's still only one penguin facing to his /her left. I added some trees to the Antarctic landscape. They're quite small - hardly bigger than the penguins - but presumably they're stunted by the freezing winds howling over the icy wastes.

Giant Santa, however, clearly thrives in the cold.

Today's little gift from Daughter 2 was initially a bit daunting - a very complicated-looking maze. The words at the top are "Start" and "Goal".

However, it turned out to be rather simpler than it first appeared.

Monday, December 19, 2011

What Cassie did and what Cassie did next

Mr Life enjoys his breakfast. Cassie complains that the kitchen is a bit chilly so she'll just share his body warmth. Maybe she also feels that the cupboards are a bit old-fashioned to set off her elegant fluffiness.

Look, another small iceberg (at the front left).

Some chocolate Christmas puddings. Very delicious, thank you, Daughter 2.

Cassie finds a kitten. Is she going to be motherly?

She gathers it towards her. Aww!

She licks it. I choose to interpret this as affectionate behaviour rather than as a preliminary to eating it.

Nothing much happened today (oh, you guessed?). I went up town and had difficulty finding things that I was sure would be good Christmas presents so came home with only two books for Grandson. That's one of the problems of having grown-up, scattered children - they probably need stuff but it's hard to know what.

Still - another five days to go. Maybe inspiration will strike...