Friday, 22 March 2019

Communicating without words

Thank you for all of your photo-editing suggestions. I am feeling my way around Photoscape at the moment, although it's rather trial and error and the photos are bigger than normal.

It's been a nicely productive week here, after the mad driving up and down to the forest last week. The peach tree is blooming, I have been drying washing on the line and the tomato seeds are up. Spring, no?

I have given up coffee, which you may recall I started drinking back last summer. I feel heaps better without it. I was about to make myself a cup the other day, but I read up about it a bit first and realised that I get lots of the negative things it can cause. I really do feel quite unwell when I drink it. I've been drinking a mug or two of green tea every day instead and I have my appetite back and all is good. Coffee does have rather a siren call though, doesn't it.

I have been happily cooking nice things for everyone, after a rather lacklustre period of thinking I just don't want to eat anything. Does anyone else have that thing where a child sidles up while they're cooking, peers over their shoulder and says, after a dramatic pause, Is it supposed to look like that? Probably just me. The littlest boy is being vegetarian for Lent which is nice. He has give up the few meaty things that he likes, which has been just enough sacrifice to make it meaningful.

The internet has taken to showing me adverts for Chanel jewels. I love its optimism. Internet purchases that I am actually considering are a bargain pack of cotton cleaning cloths, two yak's milk dog chews, a secondhand copy of Scrivener for Dummies and a pair of the stretchy tight-like things that hold shin pads in place when you're playing football. Not a jewel in sight.

There is a new dog parlour in town. You can actually see the dog being groomed on the table inside. There was a very silky show cocker in there today. He looked right at me very intensely and I could actually hear his thoughts: Help. Help! GET ME OUT OF HERE. I am wondering if it is the right thing to be showing the general public the fear and loathing element of dog grooming.

Is it my imagination, or are acronyms out of control? I am increasingly having to Google things like DIP, PoDs and JTM and then getting all confused when there are twenty possible options. I have a client who likes to use jargon as well, so half the time I have to actually translate his emails before I can understand them.

I have a relaxing-ish weekend planned. Bird survey, dog walk, football and cricket practice/reading time. I have new ball of wool that I am contemplating. It has been looking at me from the shelf for a few days now, trying to communicate what it wants to be. I think it's saying The same scarf that you always make but I can't be sure.

Any good plans yourselves?

Saturday, 16 March 2019


You may be relieved to know that I only have one photo today. My laptop was tweaked by the computer person who solves all of my technological difficulties and alas Picasa is gone. I used Picasa, free photo-editing software, to reduce the image size as I seem to remember that Blogger only lets you have a certain amount of free space.

It turns out that Picasa is no more. Does anyone have any free software they can recommend? I will probably end up with Photoshop on here, as the biggest boy uses it for his photography, but to be honest I want something incredibly simple that I can just reduce the image size with and maybe do the odd crop. I don't spend long messing about with my pictures, so the easier the better.

There was a hairy moment when I got my laptop back and all of my stored passwords (naughty, naughty, I know) had gone and I had no idea how to get back into my blog. It made me realise how attached I am to it, my little record of days with the urchins. Anyway, I am back, so that's good. I'm probably still locked out of a few things, but I'm trying not to over-tech myself all in one go.

The urchins have been all about the woods this week. The littlest boy dressed up as a Ranger's Apprentice for World Book Day. He and the middle boy have been loving all of the John Flanagan books. He wore his cloak out to the woods as well, although it all went horribly wrong on the rope swing when the dog tried to jump and catch it in his teeth and then it got tangled up under his feet and half-strangled him, so he took it off in the end.

He somehow got a speck of woodland in his eye and ended up at the Eye Hospital the next day. They were absolutely brilliant and got it out in a trice, I honestly can't praise them enough.

The middle boy has been racing about on bike trails and the biggest boy has spent the week on a nature reserve in the woods which was pretty amazing by all accounts. He saw wild boar piglets, dormice nests, hawfinches and a woodcock, all new stuff, so he was happy. Going back to school next week is going to be very tame. I rather fell in love with the woodland as well, driving through it every day to take him there. We'll definitely be back.

It was quite a long drive each day though, and rather ate into the work day, so I'm a bit frantic now and looking forward to a peaceful week to get my head down next week. Although I am probably tempting fate by saying that. Hope all is well with you. I shall be back with photos if I find some easy software.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Down and back up again

Thank you lovelies one and all for your cheering comments on my last post. I have read them and re-read them and I shall come back to them again when I need to. They honestly helped, so thank you.

I bit off more than I could chew this evening. In an idle moment, not long before urchin bed-time I took it into my head to take everything off this big bookcase we have and mend it (it was leaning sideways under the pressure of all the books) and then pop everything back on, all in a quick half hour.

Even as I proposed the idea I knew it was madness. For starters it took ages just to get everything off of it. Then I tried tipping it over. The children watched in horror as I was nearly squashed flat, and not one of them made a move to help me, not even the big one with all the muscles. Incidentally, he can lift me up, and that is no mean feat I can tell you. He was lifting the littlest boy the other morning by putting his hands under his armpits and lifting him straight up. I said, 'Ooh, now do me,' and I'm blowed if he didn't. I shot straight up into the air. I have to say he dropped me rather sharply though. I wasn't expecting it and my brain slopped about in my head a bit.

Anyway, I digress, back to the bookcase. I tipped it over, then the littlest boy came to my rescue. Shelves fell out (I know, I know, I should have taken them out before tipping. I am wise to this now.) I was starting to get a bit hot and cross by this point, then it turned out Someone had borrowed my hammer and hadn't put it back and was not owning up to it. In the end I had to use half a brick from the garden, which didn't improve my mood at all. I am not at my best right before the urchin bed-time.

Underneath the bookcase was a revelation. Eighteen marbles, four magnets, three playing cards, two Lego heads and five hundred Cheerios. I hammered and muttered and hoovered and dusted and eventually got the thing back in its place with only a slight lean. It took forever to put all the books back and somehow they seemed to have expanded. It was like a reverse Tardis effect. I should know better than to attempt this sort of thing at tense moments of the day, but I've been reading Marie Kondo and you know how that goes. Although I didn't get rid of much. I did huff and puff about the rubbish some people write. Then I said, 'Not you Philip,' and blew some kisses to Philip Pullman whom I love very much. 'And not you either Malorie'. And of course then there are the modern classics like I Swapped My Brother On The Internet which for some reason is a firm favourite of the littlest boy.

I am feeling much calmer now that order has been restored. It's the sock drawer next. Marie Kondo and spring are a match made in heaven no? Don't worry, I'll run out of steam soon. Remind me to tell you about the puppies and the duckling next time. I haven't forgotten, but I think you've put up with enough words for now. Wishing all a good week. CJ xx

Thursday, 28 February 2019

On and on

All sorts of rubbish stuff going on here and it's getting me down quite frankly. I am deploying my usual trick of taking my head and putting it somewhere else entirely as often as I can. I'm becoming a master at not thinking about the hard stuff. Please don't tell me it's not healthy.

I have cast aside a book that is not all lightness and fluff and replaced it with something magical. My diet is absolutely appalling. Every day I think I'lll do better, then the next day I fail. It's not like me. I've eaten masses of vegetables all my life, but now, hopeless.

I didn't mean to come here and moan. I had all sorts of things to say about puppies and ducklings and sunshine, but I shall save them for another day. I just thought I should show you the snowdrops while they are still snowy. We'll be on to the next thing before you know it. Daffodils, crocuses and cheeriness I hope.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Tea at the Ritz

Does anyone else detect the merest hint of spring in the air? The birds are singing before sunrise and after sunset, the frogs are sploshing into the pond in the evening if I venture into the garden and there are crocuses and even the odd daffodil. Also, the middle boy had a birthday (13!), and that signifies the end of the winter around here.

The littlest boy's class had a tea party for parents today to raise money for toilet facilities for communities in third world countries. Scones with jam and cream, ginger cookies with ALL of the decorations on them and, most popular of all, a chocolate cake piled high with chocolate balls, chocolate biscuits, chocolates and chocolate flakes. It had a definite theme.

The boys wore bow ties and served us nicely, although the littlest boy spoiled the effect slightly by constantly pushing himself over my shoulder to get to his giant ginger cookie after he'd served me. You don't get that at the Ritz. But it was generally lovely, helped by the thought that there are less than six months of the chaotic joy that is primary school left for him, and for me.

It degenerated happily into a balloon fight/football game between the boys, which is how it should be. None of the mums were crying yet, but I can feel it building. Secondary school isn't in the same league, although I did once have some very sophisticated fizzy orange juice on the lawn while being serenaded by the steel pan band. It lacked the unrestrained joie de vivre of ten year olds let loose with five balloons though.

The dog has been skating on thin ice again, eating things he shouldn't. He managed to get hold of a disposal glove on his walk the other morning, which impressed his friends, but me, not so much. I flushed it through with an oily sardine and thanked my lucky stars when it, well, I won't lower the tone, let's just say all is well, for now.

He had his hair cut today, so he is all velvety and smooth. His bestie will be surprised when she sees him tomorrow morning. She'll be all, 'Bert, is that you? For the love of dog what happened?' And he'll be all, 'I know. But don't worry, I'll roll in something in a minute and it'll all be good.'

Hope all is well out there. Any spring where you are? Scones? Or are you flushing yourself through with an oily sardine?

Friday, 1 February 2019

White and proper

I was going to say that it's a bit chilly, but in the light of how frozen some corners of the world are right now I am trying to man up and not mention the fact that it has gone below freezing. I made the most of the lightly frozen pond this morning by sliding off the ice along with a load of duck weed that I've been wanting to remove. It was the second time I've done it over the past couple of weeks (and probably the first opportunity I've had this winter) and I reckon with one or two more freezes I'll have a good proportion of it off. It really took over last summer and the water didn't get much light at all. There were frogs in the pond already pairing up and getting ready for spawning. I tried not to disturb them too much.

I've found a use for my fancy French soap (brought for me by the French exchange student), keeping it under my knitting so that the knitting smells all delicious, like lemon tree flower and lime tree honey apparently. It's a tip I got from Lucy at Attic 24, although I can't from the life of me find the right post now. And I think she got the tip from someone else. Anyway, it's working beautifully.

Are we all enjoying Brexit? I'm rather disappointed that it is dominating the news when we could be looking at the usual snow-day fare of children toboganning down hills and being generally thrilled about not being at school. I wonder if we would notice any difference if the drama wasn't on the news at all ever and we all just got on with our lives. Maybe the government could just issue a bulletin once a year and let us know how it's all gone. We could listen to audio books instead or just enjoy the quiet calm.

The dog got a massive amount of snow stuck to him in chunky ice balls on his walk this morning and had to be defrosted in the bath. He is curled up tightly now, warming himself up and dreaming of spring. I would like to do the same, but there are ravening hoards to be fed. All well with you?

Monday, 21 January 2019

Shallow and slack

And here it is in all its new shiny glory. I would have done one of those very attractive photos with a big mug of frothy coffee invitingly placed next to the notepad, but I think we all know how that would have ended. And being new to this coffee-drinking malarkey I only have instant which doesn't do the frothy thing. Baby steps.

The new laptop is connected to most of the important things it seems. Although I don't remember some login details, so I'm still using the old one too (two computers!), for this blog post for example. And Amazon. And other bloggy things like visiting and commenting on other blogs. So for quite a bit actually. Again, baby steps.

I am working on the new laptop which is a massive triumph in itself. I am finding it a bit cold though. The old laptop heats up beautifully, in fact at times the fan sounds a bit like Concorde taking off, and the underside is hot enough to make toast. The new one is all sleek metal efficiency and every time I touch the keyboard I wince a little. So cold! On the plus side, I can see the screen when the sun is out. Before I was reduced to putting one hand over my eyes and putting my nose up to the screen. I am all elegant sophistication now.

The littlest boy is happy to report that he is a Greater Depth Person at school. Something to do with which table you sit on I think. I should like to be a Greater Depth Person, but I fear much of the time I am hopelessly shallow.

The biggest boy has some new rollers for getting the knots out of muscles. I put my back out trying to roll up and down on one, plus it was really painful. I told him I don't have any tight muscles anyway, I am slack all over.

Bert's friend had a good tale to tell the other day. She was walking along with her person when a squirrel actually fell out of a tree and landed on her. Bert lives for the day this happens. I imagine it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and probably very memorable.

There is sad and worrying dog news locally as well. A dog was stolen the other day, very near here. The lady who did puppy training always told us never ever to tie our dogs up outside shops. Alas, someone did, thinking he would be safe, and he was taken. We gave Bert an extra squeeze when we heard.

Bert would be distraught if he was taken, as no doubt all dogs would be. He always likes everyone to be home, where he can keep an eye on them. When we are out, he waits at the window, sometimes hours past his bedtime, looking and waiting. Mine is the house with noseprints all along the windows. When he sees us, he stares and stares until he is sure it's us and then he vanishes from view to rush to the front door and gives us a big long lost greeting.

Here he is in a happy state of bliss, knowing all his people are home and he can relax.

Hope all have a good week. CJ xx