Tuesday, November 29, 2005

There's no business like snow business*

Today we’ve mostly done nothing. It took Ned 3 hours to get home last night because of the snow, and when it froze overnight he decided not to go in today, seeing as it would have meant leaving at 3am instead of 4.30. It looked beautiful out first thing; the sun was shining and the sky was blue, but you only had to step outside to realise that the pretty snow covered sheet ice. I was very glad not to have to worry about Ned being in a ditch somewhere. We especially stopped feeling guilty about him not going in when we discovered he hadn’t been paid. Yet again.

So we’ve tidied the garden a bit, and I made some soup from the onions and artichokes I harvested some time back, and then we played “Try to see the dogs” in the field. When the snow isn’t deep enough to be a complete blanket but instead some of the grass is showing through the dogs are only barely visible when they move. If they stand still they instantly vanish. How to hide in fifteen empty acres.

*Well, someone had to say it.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

My eyes are dim, I cannot see

In an attempt to quell the rising tide of panicky out-of-controlness and uselessness feelings which have been building since a) I was made redundant and b) the Boy went to Uni, I'm having another go at transcribing an old family diary from 1858. I had a bit of trouble getting used to this bloke's handwriting when I copied the letters he'd written to his family, but they were in ink, and the diary's in pencil. Very faded pencil at that ("Paid $4.80 for bread for fifteen men."). My eyeballs may yet fall out.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

There´s no compare with the hard wood logs that's cut in the winter time

Today I, because Ned's been at work, have mostly been splitting and stacking logs. I don't think my spine will ever bend again.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Catch a falling star

Poor old George Best. The media coverage of his last few days has been in very bad taste, verging on ghoulish. I always hated football, but even I as a child could see that he was a rare talent. It was inevitable that he would live the high life – it was the 60s after all, when the playboy, jet set lifestyle was so glamorous. His downfall was almost inevitable, but such a tragedy. Live fast, die hard I suppose. Remember the glory days. I wonder if St Peter's applied for a 24-hour licence?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Yo heave ho

This morning, when I tidied Beattie’s blanket from where she’d blocked the back door, I put my hand in a large pile of cold dogsick. Just what I needed to start the day well. She’s since been sick on the kitchen rug and the sofa twice. Marvellous. I’ve run out of throws; I wish she would too.

Better news is that today we completed our first Bananana order – and got paid! Woot!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Baby it's cold outside

When two days-worth of freezing fog (-4°C) lifts, we get some very pretty sights.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Hold your head high

It struck us last night, as we leaned against the bar, that once again we’d come out into a freezing night to watch granddads play great music. Yes, we went to see The Zombies and they were great. Boy, could they play? Terrific stuff; even the vocal abilities were still strong. Colin Blunstone could still hit the high notes in ‘Say You Don’t Mind’, and Rod Argent can get great sounds from the keyboard. And he still has a good head of hair – not as long as the old days, but still thick. (You notice these things after a certain age.) The current lead guitarist (Mark Johns) created some stunning sounds, and visually reminded me of Ned, many years ago, and badly smudged. His hair was similar, but not as lovely, and Ned's much more handsome. :) The bass player (Jim Rodford) in particular was knocking on a bit. I didn’t think he had any teeth, but Ned assures me he did, and that it looked as if he’d paid for them too. Put it this way, he was in a ‘successful local band’ when he introduced his 11-year old cousin (Argent) to rock music. The drummer was Steve Rodford; Jim's son. Was it nepotism? Perhaps he was on work experience - or maybe he was cheap! However I think it was probably due to his ability to play.

I hope I didn’t interrupt anything important ;) Mally, when I snuck you in the back (via mobile) for that great track. How was it at your end?

Friday, November 18, 2005


Every so often, in my guise of PuzzleDonkey mod, I come across someone who hasn't really entered into the spirit of the game. I don't think it's possible for an individual to complete all the puzzles without the occasional hint from someone else - certainly I couldn't! - but some people just don't want to try. The sums ones are my bugbear; numbers just don't do what I think they should, so when someone PMs me for help with a numbers one I can entirely sympathise, but my heart sinks because I rarely understand them well enough to give hints without making it too easy. And where would be the fun in that?

So this person asks for help with a particular puzzle

"hey wats doin, im havin heaps of trouble with this puzzle lol. im doing yr12 methods and im the academic prefect for my school, and i still don't get it, please i want to continue with this site, but this puzzle has put me off heaps. ive been stuck for at least two weeks, can't stand it! Any helpful help will be much appreciated"

and I give the stock reply of "Tell me what you've worked out so far - you might be nearly there". A long conversation ensues about how he (it could be a she, but I like to think a female would rise to a challenge better) thinks the answer should be X (not actually X, but I never give away answers!) but that's not being accepted. Then it's wrong, I say, and ask how he worked it out.

"Show me the equation you made from the puzzle components, and I'll see where you need to concentrate" I say. I got the following reply:

"i dont have an equation,i just put the figures into my graphics calculator program and randomized it. i cameup with possible answer with the given numbers, signs, and brackets, and all i got was the number 1. this question is really really annoying. i dont think i can be bothered to do this site any more"

There's not a lot more to say really.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

In my profession I'll work hard

But how hard can it be to find a simple line image of a clean window? I've been searching for hours and hours. At this rate I'll have to draw one myself.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Time after time

Two years ago today, two of The Boy's close friends were killed in a car crash. Today, so was another. Sometimes Life's really cruel.

We’re busy going nowhere

As it was Ned’s mum’s birthday we’d arranged to go down to Sussex for the day and have lunch with her at Ned’s brother’s house. Lunch was arranged for one o’clock so we set off shortly after 10.30 to be sure of being there in plenty of time to chat. Our hearts sank slightly when we saw the matrix signs telling us that the M25 was closed between Junctions 10 and 8 – we wanted to get off at Junction 9. We pondered getting off at 11, but the traffic was light and flowing freely as we approached it. No matter, we thought, 10’ll do and we’ll cut across country.

You know what I’m going to say, don’t you?

About 300 yards after Junction 11 the traffic ground to a halt, and it took over an hour to get between 11 and 10, most of the time parked with the engine off and everyone getting out to stretch their legs. Luckily it was a sunny day but the lack of suitable bushes on the verge if the need became too strong to ignore bothered me more than a little. It was 2.30 we finally got to Bruvv’s house. We greeted everyone, gave Ned’s mum her present, gulped down the excellent meal which had been saved for us, became a touch hysterical at M’s malapropisms and mispronunciations (did you know that nougat can rhyme with mugger? What a bougat!) and came home again.

We’ve had better Sundays.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

By the light of the silvery moon

It’s that time of year again; the time where my evenings are chaotic. If truth be told it’s not often everything in my life goes according to plan, but when we’re back into dark evenings my ability to time everything properly goes belly-up. You see I like to aim to have our evening meal ready at near-as-dammit 8pm – a civilised time when we can relax afterwards and not feel that there’s other things we ought to be doing. I can’t cope with a meal at, say, 6 o’clock, because it’ll be finished by 6.30 and there’s no way I could sit and do bugger-all for four hours till bedtime. So I’d be up doing chores afterwards, working up an appetite and then need something else to eat, and I’d very soon turn into a blimp. It seems that our mealtime’s out of kilter with the rest of the country, but when people go out to a restaurant for dinner, they don’t turn up at 6pm do they? No, they turn up at – ooh, about 8pm. So it seems clear that later mealtimes are the grownup thing. But I digress …

I tend to start thinking about preparing our dinner at dusk, when it gets too dimpsy to work outside any more and the gnats start biting. In the height of summer that might be about 9.30 (causing complaints from the clientele) but when the clocks change, and it gets dark early, I lose the ability to gauge when to start cooking and overcompensate. Tonight I knew it was too early to start when we were busy stuffing banananas in the garage by the light of a 5-watt (at most) bulb, then cleaning screens by moonlight. (It’s cold out tonight, by the way. We might even have the first frost of the season, which is well overdue.) So I ignored my instincts and stuck some banananas on eBay and sorted out one or two problems on another site, and did the ironing, and put today's banananas in their bags and ... oh bugger! Have you seen what the time is?

Friday, November 11, 2005

It's all gone quiet over there

At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month the guns fell silent at the end of the War To End All Wars. Even though that turned out to be a misnomer it’s good to know that people still pause in their day-to-day life and remember the people who are dying, even today, in the hope that they might be making the world a slightly better place.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I don't want to talk about it

Tonight I have a sore throat, which I narrowed down to a choice of two causes: either I'm coming down with bird flu, which seems unlikely because I don't feel the urge to eat Trill, gaze into mirrors or hit little bells with my nose, or I've been joining in too enthusiastically with the CD I bought the other day. I often sing along to most music (if it's a piece new to me I tend to be a nanosecond behind the note) but these songs are in a key I can hit without distressing either dogs or passing whales. I've had a lovely afternoon with Disc 2 (A Night In) of The Story So Far by Rod Stewart. Great stuff.

*Currently drinking Badger's Golden Glory, a beer which smells of mangoes. Interesting and not unpleasant.*

Sunday, November 06, 2005

When people run in circles

There's something very strange going on in Europe. No, I don't mean the way France seems to be imploding at the moment, but the fact that today this blog was visited by people from Germany, Austria and The Netherlands all of whom had googled "Let's twist again". Is there a Beatles convention happening?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Yes I can, yes I can, yes I caaaaaannnnn

Interview results? The company reported that I had been the best at the editorial test they set (30 minutes allowed, I’d finished it in 15), but felt I might not be sufficiently computer literate. Erm – I told them that for the last two years my work had been 98% computer-based, the remaining 2% involving the tea-round. If they prefer to employ second-best rather than negotiate for the best, then they’re not worth working for. Just as well I'd told you that I'd probably turn down the job, eh? Their loss, not mine.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Working like a dog

I was going to reply to Hutter’s suggestion of getting a job in a kennels in the comments, but it’d overflow the comment box so might as well be a blog in itself. :)

A couple of years ago I did that very thing – applied for the post of assistant manager at a local breeding kennel owned by a well-known charity. A kennel-maid’s job anywhere is rubbish – because ‘working with animals’ is a very popular career choice, the pay’s barely subsistence level for a school-leaver living at home, so it’s only pocket-money for someone trying to maintain a household. But a job at management level can have possibilities. So I applied and went for the preliminary interview, which went very well. My years of experience in dealing with stud dogs, brood bitches and rearing litters stood me in good stead; the interview went well and the tour of the kennels was very interesting; though I know where I’d make improvements. The kennels were beautifully clean and the dogs delightful – friendly and well-trained, and they responded well to instructions from me, a total stranger (which also made me look capable!). But the kennels didn’t each have free access to a separate outside run as I’d have liked – instead the dogs were allowed out of the kennels and into a run a specified times, as well as going for their walks, of course. Personally I’d have given them more opportunity to be outside … but that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, I then had a lovely play with the 6-week puppies who were about to go to their intermediate owners; and cooed through a viewing window at the small litter of 2-day old pups. Then we started talking routine, and pay and conditions.

It was a full-time, 37-hour week, with varying shift hours BUT there was a catch. One night every 10 days had to be spent on site – and the time from when the shift ended at 7pm to when the night-shift started at 9pm had to be spent on site too – but was unpaid. The nightshift finished at 7am then you went straight into a day shift till 2pm, when you were finally allowed to go home.

I decided that a job requiring a person to leave her dogs, who wouldn’t be allowed on site for health reasons, and family alone for 30 hours unattended wasn’t for me. They invited me back for a second interview, but I declined.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

I'm going to take my time

I met up with The Boy after his morning tutorials and he seems more positive having a) spoken to his tutor who can see there’s a problem and thinks he can help and b) discovering other people are struggling with the same stuff too so he doesn’t feel like the only thicky in the class. I think he said they’re going to be working together more rather than panic on their own.

After that I had my interview which I think went well – but even if they offer me the job I don’t think I’ll take it. They definitely want someone 5 days a week, and I definitely don’t want to work 5 days a week. I’m not willing to risk having to rehome the dogs because they’re left alone too long. Yes, I know loads of people leave their dogs alone all day during the week, and they say “Oh he’s perfectly happy, he sleeps all day”. Perfectly happy when his owner’s not there? You don’t have a very good relationship then if he’s not bothered. He sleeps all day? As opposed to reading a book, or doing the crossword, or doing an Open University course, I suppose. Face it, he sleeps because he’s bored out of his brain and it’s either spend the day comatose or chew things up just to relieve the endless tedium. Our lot are active during the day, pottering about wherever I am whether that’s in the garden or doing housework. Sleeping during the day is for when there’s nothing better – when they’re not “perfectly happy”.

The job sounds great, but not that great. Something better will turn up.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

There's a change in the air

It seems to be interview time. Ned had one today which seems to have gone well, but he’s not sure what to do. The workplace is a lot closer – at least an hour cut off each journey – it’s days rather than nights, but 5 rather than 3, and for a salary cut of £5000. Hmm.

After his interview Ned went to the site of a virtual cache that we thought we might as well get in the bag while he was in the right town and I was at home. No problem getting to the right place – the hassle is that the captured pic’s no good because the sun was in the wrong place. Bah!

And I have a follow-up interview tomorrow, having been recommended after the preliminary one I had last week. It sounds like the sort of thing I can do; proof-reading and inputting amendments, and liaising with graphic designers, for educational publications. It’s not quite full-time, but rather more hours than I was doing before – I’ll have to see if I can manage the hours to suit me, because I don’t want to leave the dogs all day, 5 days a week. Anyway, let’s see if I get offered it first, eh?

And The Boy’s just phoned up nearly in tears because at the moment they’re doing electronics and he’s never done it before, even at GCSE, and he’s completely lost starting at degree level. He’ll work on a particular calculation for 4 hours, and still get it completely wrong. I think unless his tutor can help him get this sorted, he’ll be one of the percentage who drop out. He says he doesn’t want to, but he can’t afford to throw money down the drain, doing something when he’s doomed to fail. He's seeing his tutor tomorrow morning, so I hope he'll get some help in getting out of this mire. I'm possibly seeing him tomorrow as well, so maybe we can get something sorted out.