Thursday, November 24, 2011

Well, that wasn't awkward either..

Remember this colleague?

As he works in a fairly similar area to me, I had to talk to him about taking on one of my students while I am away - my boss had decided he would do it, it was just a formality, and to be honest I would have preferred just to speak to the student and leave information for the colleague until the last minute, on the need-to-know principle. He didn't really have a choice about doing this.

But to be polite, I told him what was happening and why, and he asked "so, are you adopting from the UK or overseas?" Fair question, since we both know Overseas Adoption Colleague and her husband, of course. "Overseas" I say. "Oh, which country?" "The US" I say.

Giggle. "That well known developing country?".

I managed to bluster something about the country not having much to do with whether a child needs adoption or not, but really? If you know nothing, is it not wiser to keep quiet.

Hopefully he has at least taken on board the warning that the information is not for sharing.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Just heard today that our final renewal paperwork is on its way to the notary and thence to Official Hague Person. Do not pass the labyrinthine corridors of the Department for Education, do not collect $200.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


I made a large pot of chilli, and some Christmas cards (though they look like my Brownies made them) and put some fruit to soak in some cheap sherry for a Christmas cake, today. It is not particularly that which is making me relaxed, more the fact that I called N, it went to voicemail, and I am not panicking.

Jobs for the evening: get rid of some paperwork, and do some ironing, while watching more Boardwalk Empire I suspect. We still have all but four episodes of the last season of The Killing (Danish) to watch and the new one has just started. I like it, but it's hard to watch while you do anything else.

Do any Blogger users know: in the new template, why when I have saved my post font as Trebuchet, does it keep reverting to Times at the start of all new posts?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Work to rule

Our union has brought in a work to rule i.e. work your contractual hours. In my case that's about 37 1/2, so if I start at 9am I'm supposed take an hour for lunch and down tools at 5.30 daily.

This week I had three classes scheduled till 6 (fortunately I am a dab hand at telling the students "don't worry about that, we'll deal with it next time" or "just leave that bit") and today I had a Skype meeting till 9.15 (the US, East Africa and Australia. At least I didn't have to get up at 7am as the colleague in Australia did. On a Saturday).

I am running out of ways to tell colleagues "we really need to finish this project by Christmas, no particular reason, we just do". We've got a strike day scheduled for later in the month, the day I have two meetings, one of which should involve planning a large project for next year.  I am a sad union geek and extremely anti working on days we are supposed to be on strike. But I'm still very very anxious every time I have to mention the A word to anyone. 

We have been having some building work done (new loo under the stairs, if I haven't mentioned it it's because I've been trying not to think about it. Lost our dining room to Stuff for 2 months). Finally, I can get to the table and make some Christmas cards. We agreed we'd probably share the good news in our Christmas cards - but I don't think I'm going to feel ready. Do you think we can tell people "if you don't hear anything, it probably means bad news"? Or how about letting them know when the baby is leaving school?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Slightly wordless

I've been doing a 52 photo challenge this year. Photos have been a bit random but I'm up to 40 photos for the year now. We lit our sparklers yesterday because we didn't get round to them on the 5th.
In other news, I desperately need sleep.  I wouldn't mind if being awake was in a good cause, and if I didn't need to teach new classes I wasn't 100% sure about. But I'm worrying about nothing in particular, and I do have new classes.

Monday, November 14, 2011


I clean forgot to blog yesterday. Never mind, I'm not officially part of NaBloPoMo anyway because of the impossible signup system.

We are wading our way through old episodes of almost everything on our Sky+ box, and we just got round to watching the last two episodes ever of Sarah Jane Adventures, starring the late lamented Elisabeth Sladen.  In the first episode of this series a second alien child lands on Sarah Jane's doorstep.  Mr Spouse was heard to mutter "just wait till the social workers come round" and "bet they don't have alien adoption agencies".

We're also enjoying Boardwalk Empire, but the latest (for us) episode has the evil Prohibition agent holing up his girlfriend in a flat in a warehouse where she is pregnant with his baby and he is paying her to have it so, presumably, he can take it home and pass it off as his own and his (infertile, at least assuming he is fertile and the baby doesn't turn out to be, say, Chalky White's, wife). And she's been trying to throw herself down stairs.

All very odd, to say the least.

Please can someone point me in the direction of a nice show with no abandoned children or coercive people removing children? Actually we do have some slightly safer shows recorded (though you never know what you're getting with some of them, such as Who Do You Think You Are). I don't have much of a record with books, either - my real life book group read The Help (recurrent miscarriage) and my online book group has read Sister (lots of dead babies), Behind the Scenes at the Museum (dead children), The Midwife's Confession (ditto), and The Long Song (child snatched away) this year.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


We are spending the day in Blackpool, first at the Pleasure Beach (an amusement park) and then seeing Mike Harding, a comedian and singer we like, whose book "A Transvestite Yorkshireman on Everest" has to be a contender for Best Title Ever.

A month ago I was here with the Brownies on a big regional day out. There were 9000 girls and leaders, as well as various unwitting members of the public looking bemused. We managed 3 rides all day, including one we waited nearly an hour for. I'm just glad the girls didn't have watches. There was a rather good ice show included in our tickets, though.

Today I've lost count of the rides we've been on -  I'm sitting in a cafe while Mr Spouse goes on The Big One for a second time. I do rollercoasters, but not huge ones.

It's odd, considering that we normally go to classical or folk concerts, and the theatre, that we both like amusement parks. We really enjoyed Disneyland too. This does feel like the kind of place you are supposed to bring kids to be let in, but not overly full of babies - mainly 10 year olds. And there are some boring middle aged couples too.

Plus, it's looking like a gorgeous sunset -off to take a look and go on one last ride.

Friday, November 11, 2011

How not to lose weight

I have been doing a fair amount of exercise and last time I was weighed at the doctor's (our scales broke, I see no point in getting a new one) I'd lost 3kg. 

My mother-in-law needed some new bras and, as her carer put it, "a girdle" (she meant a suspender belt, she is English but most people my age or younger have probably never tried to wear one of these). So it fell to me to work out what size she was, roughly, and where to buy suspender belts that are not Sexay and black, and to get a selection of bras in different sizes (the Triumph Doreen is apparently the world's best selling bra). You can see my halo from there, can't you?  I slipped in a few bras for me to the very large order and, well, the smaller of the two cup sizes was too big. That's not supposed to happen.

I am by no means skinny (I re-ordered a DD) but, feeling sorry for myself today, I made some butterscotch brownies. My recipe, from my copy of Fannie Farmer, has chopped walnuts and is twice the size of this one, but otherwise more or less the same.

Anyway, I'm off to have a bath and take some Night Nurse.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Just to keep up my daily post, I am reporting that I'm lounging on the sofa watching Californication and knitting a scarf for my mum's Christmas present. And sneezing.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Baked goods

After my moan of the other day, I bumped into a friend at lunch and she asked if we were around over Christmas - and when we said yes we were, said "oh good". So I promised to bake lots of cookies and bring them over for her and her visiting relatives.

In other news I am having One Of Those Days.  Too many mountainous tasks plus some rather unwelcome discoveries about things that people have not done that should have been done by now. So instead of doing them, I am blogging.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Home alone

Mr Spouse has gone out to a pub quiz with his chums, which is rather unusual (normally it's me that's away for work/out at book group/at a Guiding meeting) so I've been relaxing on the sofa (oh, and doing some painting, lest you think I'm totally idle. The endless job that is our understairs loo is nearing its end, but the house is still covered in stuff).

I was watching Death in Paradise which is a bit of light relaxation and scenery, with murder thrown in. Although the flavour of the island is clearly Caribbean instead of African, the food and nature are pretty similar to where I used to live, and the main character, a buttoned-up English detective, complains that the food is "too Caribbean". Too much lobster, crab, and mango. Now, while many people would not consider this a hardship, it struck me (I do have a point, honest) is that there are some kinds of food that you think of as typical of a cuisine, while other foods are "default". I personally consider most types of meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, and probably rice, as "just food" and I don't get tired of them (I wouldn't say, oh, we had meat yesterday, let's not have it again today), while pizza, pasta, curry, stiry fry are from a particular cuisine and therefore something to be rotated among the weekly dishes.

I'm not really sure where that particular thought leads me, but clumsily I am trying to link it to what we think of as "default people". Default people have a "default accent" or a "default colour" or a "default number of children". Other people are "special"; it's like the description of a criminal as black, but not usually as white, by white victims, or the child's designation of an adult woman as a mother.

Anyway to get back to my evening, N rang while I was watching this, and sounded more positive, and told me a few things that are going on, nothing major, mainly positive. She is moving apartment and I don't think she has a car, but her new place is opposite a mall, which is going to be much easier for her. I'm not sure she really gets the time difference, but we don't go to bed too early so it's fine.


Monday, November 07, 2011

My perfect plans are not going, erm, according to plan

Last year we took my mother-in-law out for Christmas lunch, then a couple of days later my brother and his family came to stay, my nieces who speak English-but-not-as-we-know-it went to play with the neighbour children (the nice girl I know anyway and her friend), we all had a jolly time, and my brother despite saying "I don't like baked glazed ham or trifle" wolfed them both down.

This year we have booked the Christmas lunch (it is too far to go and get her for the day, she is too confused to stay at our house, and her flat is too small for us to cook dinner in, or even eat it really, though it's fine for watching Doctor Who in). My mother has a big birthday just after New Year (cue drama), so we are going down there at that point, just before New Year.

I really wanted to have my brother up here in between, if all goes according to plan we will be very busy and not particularly interested in hosting the whole family for about the next six months (not to mention, out of the country for some of it). Yes, we'll see them at my mother's but a) we won't be staying there (her house is tiny) and b) did I mention she's having a big birthday?

I suspect my brother thinks we'll be hanging out at her house, or possibly everyone at my dad's house, all the time we are down there. We're planning a) to take my mother to the theatre b) to go out to an orchestra concert on NYE (because the alternatives are overpriced hotel dinner, or sitting at my mum's house watching TV, which is fine at our house, but hers is very small. Did I mention her house is small?) and c) not to stay at my dad's house either because he refuses to get a double bed or even matching single beds for visitors.

So now I'm thinking "well, I may as well go back to work between Christmas and New Year". Which is a) completely unlike me and b) completely pointless since our buildings aren't even open then. Or I can just sit around at home and feel sorry for myself, and try not to buy baby stuff. And I don't get to make nice food (because we can't eat it all). And I could try and throw a party but everyone is either away or not that friendly.

Oh, and we are evil people and immoral for planning to stay in a hotel and ditto inconsiderate for suggesting a post-birthday pub lunch where the main courses cost £15 (too expensive). How many times do I have to explain to my mother that my brother will, occasionally, spend money if she doesn't put her hand in her pocket first, and that although yes I am earning money and she is on a pension, I am currently supporting a student husband who eats a lot and a large house in a cold part of the world, and that she actually does have money in her bank account that she could use to, oh, you know, buy things for herself. Or us.

I have no real question here, I just want a moan.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


When I have a weekend day with not much planned, I always think I'll get done more than I do, so even if I get a lot done I still feel disappointed.
Today I:
Went to church
Went for a run (for an HOUR which is amazing for me, I coughed a bit but other than that my lungs and legs were fine. OK, I didn't run the full hour, as I do some run/walk but it was over 50 mins running)
Cleared some stuff in the garden (sum total of tomato harvest for the year = 2)
Put two coats of emulsion on the newly-plastered (and partly newly-constructed) wall next to our new downstairs loo.
Did a little knitting.
Put in a wash and hung it up.
Arranged for two Rainbows* to start in our unit in a week's time
Probably headed off about 6 other Rainbows who want to start, but can't, because we are trying to run both age groups at the same time.
Managed to call N after getting her voicemail again (she sounded a little distracted, but she was heading off to see a movie so perhaps that was why). She doesn't have any more doctor's appointments till the end of the month so I have plenty of time to panic.

But I did not:
Do any ironing
Get my sewing machine back from being serviced (though the person who has it didn't ring me to tell me I could pick it up)
Cut out the skirt I want to sew when I get it back

*A Rainbow is a little girl who wants to grow up to be a Brownie

Saturday, November 05, 2011


Normally (ok, 3 times so far) we call N on Saturdays, and if she's busy she or we call back, but today we got voicemail. We've been out to watch fireworks and have a few drinks and now I'm trying to work out a) if anything could be wrong and b) if I should call back or c) if I wouldn't sounds great on the phone if I did.

Friday, November 04, 2011


I have discovered that this is the name for what Irritating Facebook Friend does. Vague status posts that lead everyone to say "awww there there dear". Recent samples include:

"How do some people manage it?" (truly vague, but not a reference to being superwoman/juggling career and babies, I feel)
"would like it to be her turn now please"
"is still hoping"
"Disappointed. Again"

These have all been since the 29th October...

Thursday, November 03, 2011

And the soul-searching begins...

I'm sure this will seem far less important when I'm dealing with crying all night, and nappies, but having had a quick look (and then run away screaming) at baby clothes on Amazon, I am in despair. Everything is either bright pink or has footballs on it. Or trucks. Or camouflage. And this is just the newborn stuff.

I guess one can divide the purchase of clothes/toys into the age groups "too young to object", "old enough to make requests/have a tantrum" and "old enough to reason with" (the latter starting at about 25).

I recently visited my friend who has 3 year old boy/girl twins and I was happy to note that both of them have a dressing-up dress and a pirate outfit, but the clothes they wear on a day to day basis are definitely highly gendered (pink t-shirt, denim skirt with pink bits; blue t-shirt, denim shorts) and their "no dummy" reward charts end in a car for him and a doll for her. My friend is not one to assume that children will follow gender stereotypes but I also caught myself assuming that the floor covered in cars and tracks was the responsibility of the boy, and quickly backtracking.

I always thought if I had a girl I would try and put her in unisex clothing because I hate so much of the girls' stuff that is out there. But now I'm thinking the same for a boy. But then at what age is it really necessary for children to wear gendered clothing? What age are Storm's parents going to tell people whether Storm is a boy or a girl?

There are some types of clothing where adult men and women wear more or less the same thing (especially outdoors gear I have noticed). But I have a purple cycling rain jacket (and they don't do purple for men) and I struggled when trying to get a fleece/waterproof combo as the options for my size/shape were black (invisible), navy (ditto), baby blue (attracts dirt) or fuchsia (which I got, though I would not normally wear fuchsia). But I would not wear jeans with pink flowers on, so I don't see that little girls should have to. And adult men at least wear pink flowery shirts. And skirts.

How soon can you put a baby boy into grown-up men's clothing??

(If you have not read Delusions of Gender, by the way, and you are male or female, or have a male or female child - go and read it NOW)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

All Souls'

We have a Requiem liturgy (with Faure's Requiem for the last couple of years anyway) on this day at our church every year. In Paradisum is just glorious.

There is one couple that we know lost their son, we don't know how old he was, and I knew some of the other names that were read out. 

I was discussing annoying journal editors (bear with me, this is relevant) the other day with a colleague and some of them are extremely pernickety about whether they have got approval from every single co-author. I had to tell one of them "you aren't going to get anything from him. He's dead". As they would have known if they'd read the acknowledgements.

As well as our four losses, I thought about my mentor, who died at 50 from pancreatic cancer; my grandparents; one of our former project workers who died in a car accident (the most common cause of death for young adults in some African countries) and the five, at least, former project workers who have succummed to HIV.