Monday, February 28, 2011

A sonsie dish

In the midst of the weekend's trauma (is trauma too strong a word? well...) of our failing to find Daughter 2 a wedding dress, she provided us with a smile.

In her research, she came across a range of wedding dresses called "Sonsie". Now, this is probably funny only to Scots, but "sonsie" is a Scots word which means "solid" or "chubby". It's admittedly not inappropriate for this comely young lady, but it's not a word that a Scot would aspire to be called. One would really not be tempted to buy a wedding dress thus labelled.

My darling and beautiful Daughter 2 isn't sonsie at all.

You might have come across the word in Robert Burns's "To a Haggis". This poem starts:

Fair fa' your honest sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the puddin' race."

In other words:

Blessings on your honest solid face,
Great leader of all the puddings.

You will probably know that a haggis is a savoury dish made of unmentionable bits of animals mixed with oatmeal and stuffed inside a sheep's stomach. Not quite the connotation I'd want for my big day...
Edited to add - many thanks to Loth, who has reminded me in her comment that the poem goes on to describe the haggis further - Your hurdies like a distant hill. Hurdies are... well, buttocks.
No - still not doing it for me.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Preparations for various vital events

Up town today with Daughters 1 and 2 (up from London for the weekend), trying to find a wedding dress for Daughter 2. Complete failure. For the second time. (The picture above is not her and neither is it her dress.) She doesn't want a strapless one (that's 98% of the available dresses ruled out) and nor does she want a plunging neckline (that's 99% of those with straps. And she doesn't like the other one).

"So," she said to her sister, changing the subject, "are you organised for the baby yet?"

Daughter 1 considered. "Mum's bought him a book and a cuddly Moomin."

"That's the essentials covered, then," said Daughter 2.

PS - Did you notice that Daughter 1 said "him"? She had her 20-week scan this week and he seems to be a boy.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Oh dear. Poor Christchurch. Poor New Zealand. How very terrible. I do hope that my bloggy friends and their families are as all right as anyone could be in these awful circumstances.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pushing on up the hill

Life is rather trying these days. I know we’re not suffering from famine, flood, fire, earthquake or terminal illness and I’m glad about that and extremely sorry for those who are. And we have the grandbaby to look forward to, which is very nice indeed. But apart from that… things are grey. We no longer have the jolly young people around much (which leaves a big gaping hole in our lives) but have a lot of responsibility for the older ones. There’s my poor confused aunt, who is living these days in a condition of constant bewilderment and is also very deaf, so that she can no longer in any real way understand what I’m bellowing in her ear. And there’s my mother, who is in a much better state but is apt these days to insist that she is right and I am wrong about a variety of things.

Such as today. For the first time for ages, she was upstairs in our house and looked into our upstairs bathroom.

She: You told me that there was only a shower in here, not a bath, and look – there is a bath.

Me: I wouldn’t have said that. I know there’s a bath. We had it put in.

She: You told me off for saying there was a bath. I distinctly remember it. I can’t remember why we were discussing it but I said there was a bath and you said there wasn’t and you told me off for it.

Me: [grinds teeth].

And that sort of thing.

It doesn't really matter, I know. But. Gah. Grump. Whinge. Moan.

Tell me about something cheerful in your life. Please.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pleasure under difficulties

It's our two-day mid-term holiday and I've been gardening, though this is not a picture of me. For one thing, I'm rather plumper than this, though happily my head isn't quite as large. For another, I don't have a faithful dog keeping me company. My faithless cats are slumbering in the warm living room. Very wise. It's FREEZING out there - literally. I've just emptied the bird bath because it contained a mixture of dead leaves and ice. Nor is the garden as green as in the picture - well, the grass is, but not much else. And I'm wearing a red down jacket and thick trousers rather than the pinafore dress and bare legs. There is no need for a sun hat.

"Gardening" is a bit of a euphemism. I've been raking up large quantities of soggy brown leaves. This is not my favourite occupation but it's a very necessary one, since they're everywhere (where do they come from? - well, yes, trees, but we have far more leaves than could be accounted for by our two trees and anyway I raked them all up in October). Under the leaves are bulbs, snowdrops and crocuses and chionodoxa and scillas, all trying to get through to the light and give us a little touch of spring, so it's a worthwhile task to rake up the leaves and allow the flowers to shine through. But it's backbreaking for a person with a bad back, not wonderful for a person with a lately-broken ankle and I've had to come in to thaw out my frozen hands and feet.

Ah well, we're not here to enjoy ourselves / the labourer is worthy of her hire / it'll be worth it when I've finished and suchlike remarks. Meanwhile (oh ye of little faith!) Tony the Painter arrived exactly when he said he would on Monday (well, or Tuesday; but it was Monday) and has been working away non-stop ever since, listening to intellectual programmes on the radio. So that's good.

Feet and hands now able to sit up and take a little nourishment. Maybe I'll give them a cup of tea before venturing outside again. Say it firmly: I enjoy gardening. (Convinced?)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Essays on my desk

We have a range of students at our college. For example, I asked two classes to write essays about topical issues of their choice.

Here are the first sentences of two essays:

First student: “Anthropocentrism is an interesting concept.”

Second student: “Yessss it’s the weekend, time to get steaming.”

("Steaming", by the way, means "extremely drunk".)

As I said, a range of students.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Guessing game

The phone rang at 8 o'clock this morning. I answered it.

"Wellllllll now," said a voice. "It's myself."

(Can you guess who it was?)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Me and famous footballers

When the young doctor suggested I have a moon boot for my broken ankle, he added, "You know, like the footballers get." At the time, I didn't know, but look - here's a picture of a footballer that even I've heard of (I won't name him in case people Google him and are disappointed to get this) who was recently kitted out with one. It's nice to be at the cutting edge of fashion.

We visited the Burrell Collection in Glasgow today with friends. Glasgow people tend to be (shameless generalisation follows) friendly - more inclined to chat to strangers than Edinburgh people are. It's true that if you stand at a Glasgow bus stop, you're rather likelier to get people's life stories than you are while waiting for an Edinburgh bus. Anyway, as I was clumping down the steps in my trusty moon boot on the way to the café, a cheerful-looking lady stood at the bottom watching my progress, presumably wanting to keep well clear of a woman with a tendency to fall over. As I got to her level, she smiled, looked at my boot and said to me, "Could you not afford a matching pair?"

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tony the Painter

Hurray! The Virgin chap came at 8 this evening and we're back on line after 10 days. I've missed you all! And I have LOTS of emails to answer.
We got a phone call this morning from Tony the Painter, who's coming to paint our son's bedroom.
Tony has a wonderful Irish accent, instantly recognisable.
Him: Hello-o-o-o, Mrs MacDonald. [This is not my name, by the way, but it doesn't seem worth correcting him.]
Me: Hello.
Him: Wellllllll now, it's Tony the Painter.
Me: Yes, hello.
Him: Welllllll now, I was wondering about coming to paint your bedroom.
Me [encouragingly]: Yes.
Him: I was wondering about Monday.
Me: Yes, Monday would be great.
[Some chat then ensues about the finer details of this arrangement.]
Him: That's fine now. I'll see you Monday. [Pause.] Or maybe Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Mmph hmph.

Last Wednesday there was a thunderstorm and since then, we've had no internet at home.

I feel very bereft!

I can't blog.


Naughty Virgin (there's an oxymoron for you) aren't fixing it. Well, they claim they will. But they haven't done so.


Ah well. I'm still reading a few blogs at lunchtimes at work but am gagged. Mmph. Hmph.

Writing this at work now. Got to go.

Waving at you...

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Hard stares

How am I supposed to type with Sirius pestering me? Not only is he squeaking piteously like a cat who hasn't seen a morsel of food for... oh... half an hour; not only is he insisting that I use my right hand to stroke him over and over and over and over again from head to tip of tail; but if ever I desist for ten seconds, he starts sharpening his claws on my cane computer chair.
And now I can feel his eyes boring into the back of my head. I can't possibly find my way from the study to the kitchen, he complains. It's a distance of at least twenty steps.
I'm somewhat devoid of inspiration, anyway. Exhaustion has set in after a full day including an evening class followed by lots of marking.
All right, Sirius. I'm coming.