Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...
Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...
:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications :: Joules... on writing [on hiatus] ::
I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.
August 2011: the earlier posts in this blog are a mess, the result of me changing the format some time ago. I'm working to edit the entire blog from the beginning, but with over 4K posts and sodall time for such luxuries it's going to take a while... [02/09/16 - Now reached 09/10/2004][20/03/2019 - giving up. I don't have enough time to update the blog atm, let alone edit old entries!]
If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.
First, a recommendation. Dive over to The Jonathan Day Fiction Site and try some of the stories. I love this author's writing - it's funny, bitingly witty, dryly incisive, chilling, and deliciously subversive by turns. Absolutely well worth a look!
Saturday, September 30, 2006
[bleurgh] Sore throat, stinging sinuses, headache that won't go - I suppose I'd better resign myself to Kai bringing home every bug that's going... Eh well, the last one didn't develop into anything so hopefully this one won't either.
What fun we've had with the photograph albums today. First the text editor wouldn't 'take' some of the captions we wanted, then the album wouldn't 'save'... After tearing my hair out for a while I did the unthinkable and opened IE [spitspit], only to find that yes, the software behaved itself properly there. Except for the photo upload, which in Firefox had two options (Java applet and the old fashioned browser upload) while IE only had the applet. So there I was, uploading via Firefox and organising the album via IE. And THEN IE returned an error page when I tried to log on to the secure server to pay... Nothing's ever easy in this house.
Fortunately changing the security settings in the IE browser sorted that out, and two albums are now on their way to us. But it's taken all bloody day, and I'm tired now.
Going to indulge myself and read a bit. Kittens tomorrow. Maybe...
Friday, September 29, 2006
[flop] Finding Yule presents for the folks can be something of a pain, so this year Ken thought that a good photograph album filled with pics of Kai might be a nice idea, and as it happens empiredirect have a BOGOF offer on at the moment. We have, therefore, spent the last two days ploughing through over a thousand photographs to winnow out the best, scanning/resizing/lightening and putting in order - then uploading 62 multi-megabyte images to the empiredirect server (which took two and a quarter hours...) Will finish the job tomorrow and order two identical albums of Kai: the First Eleven Years, which the folks are going to love. There are some absolutely gorgeous photos in it, including this one ->
which Adrian took while we were over on holiday, and which always moves me to tears it's so perfectly full of excitement and youthful joy and life...
I found a number of other interesting pics while going through them. The one on the left was taken from underneath the Gateway Arch, St Louis, Mississippi: unfortunately I didn't have the time between bus changes to go up inside. I liked the city a lot - would have been nice to explore.
As for the other photo...
There used to be a chunky, solid, metal statue/large piece of modern art in the plaza outside the World Trade Centre, and this was taken with the camera laid against its face, pointing straight up: those are the twin towers from ground level. I'd wanted to go to the top of those as well, but there simply wasn't time during our stay in Manhattan, and now of course I never can. (I didn't take this one, as my little 'point-and-click' camera couldn't cope with the angle. I did, however, suggest it would make a great photo after leaning against the statue and gazing upwards.)
Amazing sight. And there was such a strange, otherworldly atmosphere to the whole place, almost as though the sound of the city was muted once on the plaza...
Tomorrow I'll try to scan in the photos of Argent in the willow tree.
Kai only has another two weeks of term and he's home for a fortnight's holiday. I shall quite enjoy it too - it will be very nice not having to get up at six. I ought to start thinking about what we can do during the time...
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Typos can be amusing. My attempt at prehistoric (with reference to one of Lutra's photos on flickr) came out as prehistofic - which I promtly defined as a first fic written in a fandom you didn't yet know at the time you wrote it...
I discovered ten years ago or so that there are certain chemicals that I can taste without eating them.
That sounds odd. To explain...
About a minute after I've handled rue (the herb) I can taste it - I assume the volatile oil is absorbed by my skin and somehow reaches the inside of my mouth. Or maybe the part of my brain responsible for taste, I'm no biologist. But in the last couple of years I've found the same thing happening when I inhale: there are several aftershaves and perfumes that I can taste as I smell them. This is perhaps not so surprising since, as far as I can remember, taste and smell are closely linked. And I assumed that rue essential oil or something similar was a constituent of the fragrance. It's not pleasant, but it doesn't happen very often so it's easy to ignore.
However... We've started work on the windows, digging out the rotted wood (of which there's surprisingly little), hardening the remainder, then filling and priming it ready for repainting. Well, when I say we, Ken's actually doing it to give my hands a rest. So there I was, yesterday, sitting here revising a client site when I suddenly realised I could taste the bloody primer he was using on the outside of the lounge windows: worse, my whole mouth felt as though it was coated with oily fur, my lips went half-numb and my sinuses started closing. Absolutely vile. Even a strong Bovril sandwich couldn't get rid of the taste/sensation, and it lasted for hours.
[sigh] And it's happened again today, as Ken's been priming the hall window. It's bizarre: I have no problem with ordinary paint, emulsion or gloss - just the primer. Going to be fun getting the rest of the windows done. I wonder what the chemical is...?
Had a major scare last night when the stack fan suddenly started making most unpleasant noises and slowed right down. I closed down in a rush and rebooted after a few minutes, and it seems to be OK, now, but it's worrying. I know we have the back-up laptop but the keyboard makes my hands hurt.
Eh well. Back to it while the computer is working...
Monday, September 25, 2006
A handful of kitchen photos can be found here. There's not many - I never took a lot of the room as it was originally (it was too horrible). Of course, of the people who visit this blog only GoodTwin, Sue and Wendy have ever seen the place IRL (as far as I know, that is), so the changes probably won't be that obvious, especially given the quality of the before pics... The only problem now is the lino is going to really annoy me until we can replace it.
Next week's spooks is an absolute cracker. I just love the topicality of the series.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
And the painting is finished. Well, except for the cabinet frames, but I can't do those until Denis has made them. Photos later: too tired tonight.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
OK... The painting's almost finished, just behind the fridge-freezer and half the ceiling still to do, and the new shelves are up and 'repopulated'. I should be able to wrap the kitchen redecorating project up tomorrow!
Something rather odd happened last night. The sky was remarkably clear and the light pollution unusually low - I was just able to see M31 without bins - and after indulging in a little star-gazing, I suddenly realised I was seeing things differently; each star was sharp and clear. Admittedly I was still seeing a double image, one above the other, but that's much better than the multiple tiny fuzzy blobs of light a star usually appears to be. If my astigmatism is improving I shall be very happy!
Lutra has written a thoroughly delicious and extremely funny xover Snupin. Have to admit she has the characterisation perfect, far and away better than any other Snupins I've read, and this particular fic has left me with the image of (Rickman-as-)Snape in long robe and boots and nothing else... Mmmmm...
Back to the loom.
Well, I managed to get very little of the planned activities done. Though the new narrow shelf above the main work top, made from an offcut, is now up and filled (spice jars, tea/coffee/chocolate fudge drink jars, packet soups, etc). However, we discovered something interesting while putting it on the wall. It was perfectly straight and level all the way along, according to the new spirit level, as it was going up - then when we checked after it was affixed to the wall, it was straight and level at the open end, and in the middle, and over the brackets - and sloped upwards at the other end. [sigh] We're convinced we have little black holes and gravity wells all through this house. They even affect the bathroom scales, which can read different weights even as you stand on them.
We wonder if perhaps it's my fault, that having so many universes in my head has an actual physical effect on this space/time continuum. (Either that or I'm so massive I generate my own gravity. [smirk] Just call me Eta Carinae...)
Kai arrived home with his key, the £2 he took to pay for the replacement, and a glum expression. He's happy to have his favourite keyring back, but he's quite enjoyed not having to walk to C block to reach his locker this week, it's about as far from his tutor room as you can get. Anyway, he came with me over to The Range, and helped carry back the shopping, new lounge lampshade, metal vegetable trolley, smaller kitchen bin - with more being recycled we don't need a big bin now, and it gets a little smelly by the time it's nearly full - and a new kitchen clock. I'd wanted a 'time flies' novelty clock (one with a plastic fly on the end of each hand) but I can't find one anywhere. Eh well.
Didn't manage to get any painting done, but everything is ready for me to make a start first thing in the morning - beginning with the cut edge of the small shelf. The holes and rawl plugs for the uprights for the main shelving beside the cooker are in place, and Denis is going to make both cabinets for us (though I don't know how long that will take). Then all that'll be left is to replace the lino, and the kitchen will, for all intents and purposes, be new. Well, thoroughly rejuvenated at any rate.
And then there will be photos. Lutra sent me back a couple of the old kitchen that I'd sent her a while back (and which I couldn't find here, probably archived...) so there will be a sort of before and after.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
What a day...
Ken walked Kai to the corner so I could have a lie-in, since I was going to have a long day. Woke at 11am, cleared emails, made dinner (korma) so K&K could eat while I was at the school, while Ken dived over to Focus to buy the upright for the new kitchen shelves, got ready to leave, and was just about to step out of the door when the phone rang. Well, beeeeeped shrilly, actually, but it has the same effect. It was Kai, ringing to say that the Meet the Tutor session was from 7 'til 8, not 5.30 to 7 as the newsletter had said. (We found out later, when I emailed his tutor, that the change of time was in a letter he brought home a couple of weeks ago - and which I somehow never managed to see. Quite what happened there I don't know, Kai's usually fairly good when it comes to newsletters.)
Now this presented me with a fairly major problem. I had planned to get into town, start at the Chinese supermarket, work my way out to Kingswood, shopping as I went, and arrive at the school at 5.30: getting home again would be relatively simple as the buses are fine until 7.30, after which time there are only two an hour back into town, and only one X39 per hour: regular readers may remember the fun and games I had last time. Assuming the worst case scenario - since that's what usually happens - I wouldn't get home until 10. So we reluctantly decided, since it wasn't compulsory, I'd give it a miss this time. Kai's tutor says she has no concerns about Kai at school, he seems to have settled in and is happy.
That meant the pressure was off a little: I still went into town, but didn't have to hurry quite so much. So - pocky and ramen from the Chinese supermarket; bank; picked up light blue cord and a handful of heavy glass beads to make the hall curtain tie-backs from the gorgeous handicraft stall at St Nick's Market; checked out some electoral roll info for Ken (the office is in the covered market); over to Wilkinson's for new mug tree and chopping board (in light wood to match the bread-bin/biscuit tin/towel holder/plate rack we already have), metallic-look draining rack, microwave potato baker thingie and a new Egyptian cotton sheet; and finally Lush to grab some more Sea Vegetable soap. I was also given a sample of their Karma soap: used it tonight and it's fabulous, smells of orange blossom and temple incense and I'm going to buy some next time I run out (heh, showered five hours ago and I can still smell it on my skin...)
Ken mowed while I was out, and he and Kai pruned the buddleia behind the shed, finishing just before I arrived home: we wanted the loose branches trimmed today just in case the tail end of Hurricane Gordon caused problems (as it happened it didn't, though the gusting warm winds we've had all day, and especially this evening, were disturbing. It's more than half way through September, and I'm still too hot in a tee-shirt...)
Tomorrow I paint the third and fourth walls, and hopefully Ken can put up the new shelving while I go over to The Range for a few more bits and pieces. Denis is making us a shallow clear-fronted cabinet for my glasses, to fit across the unused kitchen door: be good to have them out of the cupboard and safely stored where they stand less chance of being broken. Denis tells me the cabinet will be strong enough to support a plant or two on top, so I'll be able to take advantage of the window in the door as well. We're going to see if he can make another cabinet for the facing wall, with hooks in the bottom so I can hang the saucepans back up. Still lots to do, but I should be able to take photos soon. I'm chuffed with how it's looking!
And finally - the sunset tonight was amazing...
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Happy Birthday Marie!The kitchen is coming along - second wall done and long work top in place.
And soddit, I missed 'Talk Like A Pirate' day - it was yesterday.
Long day tomorrow - it's 'Meet the Tutor' evening at JC 5.30-7 pm. Going to do the usual, buy a FirstDay ticket and head off into town about midday to do all the things I've been putting off. What fun...
... there are far too many 'days' in this post...
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Up early, Kai to crossroads (he doesn't want me going all the way to the corner any more!), Tesco shop, Focus for the paint for the kitchen, back, cleaning kitchen, then starting the work. First time I've sat down all day and my legs are killing me - and I've only done a third of the room. The most difficult third, admittedly, with the window and (unused) back door. But it looks gorgeous, so clean and fresh, and quite a bit bigger. Will continue tomorrow: be nice to get it finished, but that might be a bit hopeful - shelves have to come down, appliances pulled away from the walls, and holes polyfilla-d before I can even start. It would be nice to have new shelving too: what's up at the moment was cobbled together from offcuts of the various bookshelves around the house and supported on horrible cheap grey brackets, and while it's done the job it looks ugly. We'll have to think about that.
Given up on the idea of 'slate' laminate flooring though - it would cost about £200 to do the kitchen, which is completely out of the question. So now I'm looking for granite or slate effect lino instead. And a metal vegetable rack. And possibly a hanging fruit basket - not sure about that...
Heh, tired. Early night might be a good idea again. A little more sleep might stop me forgetting things - like the fact that I commented on Friday that Kai had lost his key, and really didn't need to mention it again yesterday. [rolls eyes]
Monday, September 18, 2006
[sigh] Forgot to say that Kai managed to lose his locker key on Friday, along with his favourite keyring. And of course I haven't had the opportunity to have a copy cut: there's nowhere around here that cuts keys, and I haven't been into town on a Saturday since he's started at JC. We've paid for a replacement, but he tells me it'll take time to get it organised. [grumble] I don't know how he did it: the keyring alone is fairly chunky. Now he has to carry his blasted rucksack around with him until the replacement key is ready. Eh well, perhaps it'll teach him to be a bit more careful. And I'll somehow have to get a copy made - or perhaps I can ask the school to make two replacements...
He had a good day today though (except for Rugby, but we expected that). And he unpacked his rugby kit and put it in the wash, then repacked his rucksack with his indoor PE kit all ready for tomorrow - all by himself and without being asked. I'm not sure whether to be pleased, startled or scared!
The sink unit is now looking great, with both cupboard doors working properly, and the work top to the right of the draining board is in place, though not usable yet. Denis is coming back on Wednesday, hopefully, to finish it - which means that if I want to avoid additional work later, I need to paint tomorrow. And we haven't even checked the colours yet. Though I think it'll have to be light blue and pale grey in order to fit in with everything else, even though it does mean yet more blue in the house. Photos when it's finished and finally respectable!
The Night is now posted in DarkRealm in the (other) Zone. I think this Menthis/Shido arc could do with one more chapter to round it off nicely, then I can leave it until I next feel inspired.
I forgot to say... It was clear last night, and on stepping out of the patio doors I saw Pegasus (which is a minor miracle since I've never been able to recognise it before). Even better, I remembered which star - Alpheratz - to use as the base when looking for M31 (Andromeda, and yes, that's what my new(ish) blog icon is up there in the address bar...) And then I found it - M31 that is - with my bins! Very pleased, as there's so much light pollution here it's usually difficult to see anything fainter than an apparent magnitude of 3 (Andromeda is 4.3 - which, counterintuitive as it is, means it's fainter than a magnitude 3 star). Focussing slightly to one side of the galaxy made it clearer, a lovely elliptical shape with a slightly brighter centre. Beautiful.
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Spooks - the second episode/second part was on BBC3 after ep one, and Ken and I both watched it. No spoilers, but that has to be one of the most chilling things I've ever seen. Ep three is on BBC3 tomorrow: I shall be watching that too. Damn but this season has started well...
(What d'you bet Colin/Malcolm slash starts appearing now...?)
Correction: it's an experiment from Brainiac: Science Abuse that the Science Club is going to attempt on Wednesday...
Had a terrific afternoon - picked up crickets for Rosa, aubergine seeds, mixed pick-and-come-again salad leaf seeds (which includes our favourite mizuna) for next year, and a packet of mung beans for the sprouter (delicious in sandwiches with peanut butter!) When we came out of the garden centre it had stopped raining and the sun was out, so we went on to Clevedon to let the sprogs scramble on the rocks for a bit. As luck would have it the funfair was set up on the green, so I took Kai on the Twister (though apparently that's the old name for it - these days it's called the Sizzler). Bloody hell it was fast! Much more than the last one we went on at the Balloon Fiesta a couple of years ago. Seemed to last longer too. Great fun though, despite the whiplash...
And the sea air seems to have rejuvenated a few brain cells: I shall try to finish The Night tonight.
After Spooks, that is.
I appear to be fighting off Kai's cold. But at least I managed a decent sleep last night (ten and a half hours, actually - less half an hour when a couple of cats decided to fight in next door's garden at 4.53 am - which has to be a record...)
<- Old valance. Yes, it's in a pretty poor state, but I made it 14 years ago, in a real rush to try to stop the cats tearing the bed base to pieces! (It worked.)
Yesterday - what happened yesterday? Um... Kai and Matt had a fun morning. I had to go shopping - over to The Range (new small frying pan, new wastepaper basket for my room, and two new silk orchids. Exciting, ne?), then to Sainsbug's. Kai experimented with his electronic bits and pieces (and blew up a fan, which rather alarmed me. He's well into MythBusters at the moment - in fact he tells me the experiment they're doing in Science Club this week is a MythBuster one - which is all very well and good, but my lounge isn't a lab!) Early night.
This morning - assembled the new valance. New valance -> Nightmare to sew, but it looks good, and works well (the flaps for the drawers are in the right places, making them much more accessible). We're pleased with it - adds a nice luxurious touch to the room. I'm still debating buying some realistic fur-fabric and making a furry throw for the bed: I'll have to check out our local FabricWorld and see what's available.
Of course, now the carpet is all wrong, but we'll just have to live with that for a bit longer. Unfortunately the floorboards are in a poor state, otherwise I'd love to strip, stain and polish them; I like wood floors...
Lutra's mentioning her new cookbook - Kafka's Soup - reminded me of a couple of my own unusual works. One in particular is a lot of fun: Astrology in the Kitchen (Maria Kozslik Donovan - good ol' English name, that! - 1972). It quotes one of Apicius' recipes for each Zodiac Sign, as well as the author's own recipes and table settings. The one for Pisces sounds wonderful - Apicius' recipe is Leg of Boar Terentian Style, which Donovan modifies to Wild Boar in Piquant Sauce, something I'd love to try if I can ever get hold of any wild boar.
Which reminds me - steak for dinner today, with new potatoes and mixed veg - and I'd better go and get organised, as we're going out with Kim at 3.30 (it's raining so I think we'll probably go to Cadbury's Garden Centre at Congresbury!)
More later, assuming I feel up to it.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
It's amazing the difference a couple of hours' sleep can make.
Kai had one of those days today - and he's managed to lose his locker key, and I haven't had time to get a copy made yet (there's nowhere local that does them). [rolls eyes] Will have to pay for another on Monday. But he cheered up after a glass or two of chocolate milk, and has Matt coming round tomorrow for a couple of hours, so that'll be fun.
A month or so ago The Transporter was on TV, and having nothing better to do (and being intrigued by the ads for it) we watched and thoroughly enjoyed it. Tonight, since it was the usual Friday night TV-wise, we rented Transporter 2... It's fun! Very silly, wholly improbable, all gratuitous violence and fast cars - and Jason Statham. Who knew a shaved head and loose-fitting black suit could be so sexy?
Back to the loom!
Friday, September 15, 2006
[sigh] So blogger's broken again...
[five hours later] ... and now it's fixed.
'OORAY!! 2003 UB313 has finally been named - Eris, not Xena as I'd feared. It's been designated a dwarf planet, like Pluto.
Decided I'm going to have a go at actually using our medlars this year - we have a fine crop coming. I've found a couple of recipes for jelly and will give them a go later in the year (apparently it's best to pick the fruit at the end of November and let it go soft ('blet') indoors before trying to cook with it. Assuming I can get it organised, there will be photos [beg].
... apparently my blogger code is B9 d++ t++ k s+ u-- f i o++ x- e l c-- (and you can decode it here). How interesting - and completely pointless...
This news flash brought to you by Joules on autopilot, since three hours sleep out of 36 is not conducive to a functioning cerebellum (or any other part of the brain)...
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
There's nothing quite like a pot of jasmine green tea to revive one after shopping...
Lutra - I think we've beaten you: our local Post Office has Xmas cards on sale! (They aren't in Sainsbury's yet, but I bet all the paraphanalia appears as soon as the Hallowe'en costumes are taken off the racks and reduced on Nov 2nd.)
"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness..."
Heh. In my garden it's currently "season of pretty stripy spiders building bloody great webs everywhere". I don't know how they manage it - one stretches from the greengage right the way across to the mahonia, that's got to be at least 6 foot, it's longer than I am tall (that's the web, not the spider, folks!) They're a nuisance if you don't notice them before you walk through them. But they're catching the flies and midges that are even more of a nuisance, so I can't really complain.
I had an email from Blogger last night.
As you may be aware, your blog has special hosting permissions which grant you FTP access for uploading non-blog content, like binary files, as well as the ability to create subdirectories for your blog.[blink] It does? Well I never knew!
The good news is that this shouldn't affect your blog very much. We're going to continue hosting the non-blog content you've uploaded up to this point, and you'll be able to update your blog with text and images just like always. If you have separate blogs in subdirectories, those will also continue to be hosted. However, we won't be able to allow you FTP access to the content you've uploaded or accept additional non-text or non-photo content.Nnnnooooo, I don't think I've ever done that, my blogs are simple online journals with no irritating bells and whistles...
But it's nice of them to let me know, anyway.
If you'd like to keep FTP access, you'll need to obtain external hosting on your own, before the Blog*Spot Plus feature is retired. We'll send you an additional reminder, closer to that date. Otherwise, we recommend that you stick with blogspot.com hosting, which does not require any action on your part. All your old content will be exactly the same and you'll be able to update your blog and post images using Blogger.com . You won't be able to upload non-image files or use an FTP client, but we look forward to offering FTP functionality with the new version of Blogger, soon.... Oh, I know what this is about! I'm hosting the Shadows in Jade blog on WaveWrights and was using ftp to upload posts, back when I was actually updating it. Well, that's not a problem - the blog's a mess anyway, and I intend changing it to a ficlet in diary form - when I can get around to it.
... Shops are open now - I suppose I'd better go get the shopping.
We have a much brighter, happier child again. Though apparently there's still one brat giving him aggro at school, during lunchtime, calling names: I haven't got the full story from him yet. I've suggested he mention it his group teacher, to get it on the records if nothing else. His cold is fairly mild, and we're managing it with Tesco cold relief tablets and Benylin cough linctus. And he loved his Chill-Out session today - played with netdisaster.com (which unfortunately I can't get to work here. I assume one of my pieces of security is preventing it from loading...)
In other news... The pieces are now cut for the valance and ready to be sewn, which is going to be a long but simple job. Will get that started soon.
The Visit is finished and posted in the (other) Zone, in the DarkRealm. And there's a lovely drabble - Thoughts, by Sue - over in Safehouse 13 at JAT.
And I've started the follow-up to The Visit - The Night.
... I'm sure there was something else, but I can't remember what it was. Heh, tired, still haven't adapted to the new routine...
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Tiny update: Kai had a good day despite the horrible sniffly cold he's caught, and no problems on the bus. PE today was football, not rugby; his comment was he's going to hate football a bit less than he thinks he'll hate rugby... it's a silver lining of sorts.
I unpacked his football gear ready to pack his indoor PE stuff for tomorrow and took his football boots out of their bag - to find them spotless, as if they'd not been worn...
Me to Kai - "What position were you playing then? Spectator?" Quick as the proverbial flash, he comes back with "Spectator in car."
... He's going to be quite a comic as he grows up, my son...
Monday, September 11, 2006
First of all, thank you, everyone, for your kind thoughts. I'm sorry I haven't replied to emails: this last weekend was absolutely fraught, and none of us got a lot of sleep worrying about today.
However, Kai went off this morning - nervous and worried - and I came back from seeing him off to ring the school again with a little more info I'd gathered over the weekend. It's a group of five young thugs, Kai thinks maybe two or three years older than him, cowardly losers who get their kicks from ganging up on a lone boy and making the journey miserable. [Aside to Sue: I checked the rules as specified on their website and they accept that their responsibilities extend to the school bus
"It is ... expected that students will behave appropriately when travelling to and from College, and when on visits, trips or other events as part of College activity.... All members of the College are expected to respect the person, beliefs and property of other members... Persistent or serious breaches of these basic rules of good conduct may result in the removal of the individual from the College.They do take bullying very seriously.] On Friday they sat around him while one of them crowded him against the window and stared into his face, asking him all the time why he didn't fight back, then started flicking a key on a chain at him. He was terrified - who wouldn't be in those circumstances? - and when he started to cry the bastards all laughed and started taking photos of him with their mobile phone cameras (this of course takes the matter to a whole different level than 'teasing', even if you could accept that the rest was just teasing...)
But what had me in tears this morning was that I found out it's been the same gang who've been harrassing him since he started at the school - and I've been saying they were probably just trying to wind him up, as some kids do, and to try to ignore it.
Anyway... He's talked to his Learning Co-ordinator, and steps are being taken to make sure he doesn't have to suffer them any more (more on that if/when anything happens) - and if I ever meet any of these evil little buggers I swear I will not be responsible for my actions...
On a happier note, the washing machine arrived at 8.30 on Sunday morning [whimper] and... the installer said he couldn't install it. Not his fault; as I'd half-suspected the outlet for the hose had been done by a cowboy who'd chiselled through the cavity wall instead of drilling, and the external pipe was both a tad on the small size and the elbow bend too sharp for the hose to bend around it... Well, I sorted that out after he'd gone by yanking the old pipe out of the hole and away from the wall (it wasn't even properly concreted in, it came apart in me 'ands), pulling through the hose and easing into the straight downpipe. It's not ideal, and we really need to find a replacement elbow bend to make sure the hose is protected, but - 'OORAY!!! - I have a terrific new machine that washes just perfectly; clothes come out warm and half dry, and it's so bloody quiet! The old Indesit used to sound like it was taking off - the Bosch I had to keep checking to see it was still working! And best of all, since the installer wasn't prepared to sign off on the installation due to the problems with the pipe, even though he'd done all the other bits, we can claim a refund on the cost of the installation (which in all the kerfuffle of the weekend I've forgotten to do - better contact them now...)
On Saturday Ken took Kai out: an acquaintance of Ken's was driving to Uley to check out some archaeological sites, Hetty Pegler's Tump among them, and had asked if they'd like to go too. They had a fun time - Kai came back excited, saying he'd visited the most haunted place in the South West ([rolls eyes] or it might have been Britain, I can't remember now) - but didn't arrive 'til 7.30, awfully late for dinner. Still, they had a good time and it was a lovely day, weatherwise, did them both good.
And me, I was hit by the sudden urge to write a short follow-up to Meet, the DarkRealm story (password protected in the (other) Zone) that started as a gift-fic to me from Lutra and turned itself, as such things are wont to do in my universe, into a multi-parter. The new chapter, The Visit, is allowing me to incorporate one of the weirdestly erotic dreams I've ever had, though I've been too stressed to do very much very well over the last couple of days. That should change now.
Again, my apologies for the delay in responding to everyone. It's been a nightmare, but I'm very hopeful that everything is close to being resolved. At the very least, Kai now knows who to go to if the problems continue, and I know the school is taking the matter seriously. I'm going to take Quyn to meet him from the bus today, just to be sure...
Friday, September 08, 2006
I'd prefer not to have another week like this one...
The sink unit is now as level as it's going to get, and looks so much better than it did. However, the work top was in such an abysmal state of disrepair it definitely couldn't be used, so around mid-day Ken and I went over to Focus for one of these (yes, I know, strange name, but it's actually rather nice, a soft dusty grey in colour with a fine granite effect) - and then had to carry it back between us.
They are very heavy. My hands were numb by the time we reached the top of our road, and I'm now in pain from fingertips to back.
Looks good though, and there's enough to replace the top on the long cupboard unit and maybe (fingers crossed) make another work top on the other side of the draining board.
Sorting all that out took most of the day - abruptly halted when Kai arrived home, frightened and crying his heart out. He'd been bullied on the bus all the way home.
Fifteen minutes later, after I'd managed to coax most of the story from him between sobs, I rang the school (spoke to his French teacher, as luck would have it) and explained what had happened. She was horrified, has noted down everything I was able to tell her, and Kai needs to go to see his Learning Coordinator on Monday, where they'll speak to him, and try to find out which little bastards did this (my description, not hers). All I know so far is they're older than him, and they get off the bus after his stop (which means they also get on before he does, so Monday morning is going to be a trial for him). I've been advised though, that such behaviour is completely unacceptable, and if it continues they'll be made to get off the bus and have their passes revoked: their parents will need to find another way for them to get to the school.
Me, I'm fuming. NO ONE upsets or hurts my child and gets away with it...
More as it happens.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Well, we have a functioning outside loo! (It has a small leak, but hopefully that can be put right tomorrow.) No washbasin yet: we have to arrange when that can be fitted.
And the curtains are finished and hung - they look OK, nowt special, but then I wasn't aiming for anything fancy, just a little insulation, and privacy, for the winter.
The sink unit is a bit more of a headache: like just about everything in this house it's non-standard (although I suppose it might have been at the time it was built? No, don't think so...) Apparently the standard length of a unit these days is forty two inches (that number is haunting me!), while ours is something like thirty six and a half inches, which means we'd have to buy a complete replacement including the sink and draining board (which is still in acceptable working order). And then it would be too long for the space: as it is the current unit overlaps the (never used) kitchen door area and makes getting to the larder a bit of a pain, especially with kits underfoot (whereas the main cupboard unit is six inches too short for its space).
Which probably means that any replacement kitchen will need to be custom-made. Oh joy.
In the meantime, Denis is going to repair the unit as best he can without replacing any major elements - we don't have time - and we'll make do with the work top - replacements come in ten foot lengths, we need about two foot - for now. It's hardly ideal, but it'll have to do for the moment, and I shall start hunting ideas for making the best use of the little space we have at the cheapest price. It'll have to be done sometime soonish, we've been putting it off for fifteen years.
Kai arrived home around 2.15, bouncy and happy, and proceeded (with only a little help from us) to draw a six panel comic of his first impressions of his first day at school, for his homework! It's a fine piece of work too: although he's used stick figures, the facial expressions are amazing.
And Ken managed a much-needed mow of the grass front and back. I need to trim around the bases of the new shrubs tomorrow, but overall the garden has fully recovered from the dry spell and is looking quite good. But the skins of all my tomatoes are splitting, which apparently is caused by uneven watering (well that would make sense!) - damn nuisance, as they're beautifully sweet and juicy. Must get back into the habit of watering twice a day again...
Throat still sore, but nothing else seems to be happening, so hopefully whatever bug it is isn't going to come to anything.
Another attempt at an early night tonight, I think...
Oh, forgot to say, we managed to catch the tiniest snippety bit of the lunar eclipse tonight, beautiful golden sister planet rising with a little shallow bite out of the top edge. Very pretty, if not spectacular. However, next March the 3rd there'll be a total lunar eclipse visible from the UK, peaking at about 10 minutes to midnight. Kai's already looking forwards - it's a Saturday, so he'll be able to stay up for it. Now we just have to keep fingers crossed for a cloudless sky.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Why is nothing in my life ever easy?
You'd think, wouldn't you, that turning off the water inlets to the old washing machine would be a simple matter of... well, turning the taps. But no, not in this house, oh no. Cold water inlet tap - no problem. Hot water - I had a vague memory of there being something tricky about it, so asked Ken to take a look at it today (nothing quite like finding out there's a problem when the pros are trying to install the new machine and it's a Sunday and even if you could get a plumber it would cost a fortune) - and advised he have an old towel/jug handy before trying to remove the inlet pipe...
Just as well, because the tap, as we found out a little later, was completely defunct. A non-functioning tap. And lots of water came out when the inlet pipe was unscrewed.
But luckily Denis was here again today, and was able to take off the old inlet pipe (which leads off from the sink's hot water tap - have I mentioned our kitchen plumbing is a Heath Robinson nightmare? Even Denis, who's in his 70s and has been doing this sort of thing most of his working life, I gather, had never seen anything like it) and cap it off successfully (after we'd turned off the hot water and the immersion heater and drained the tank. [sob] What a waste of hot water!) I suppose at this point I should mention that the new washing machine is cold fill only, so the hot inlet won't be needed. Or so I hope...
ANYway, between us we walked the old machine out to the patio and made a start on tidying up. [sigh] What with the leaks, the splashes and the amateur saw-job of the work top above the machine, said work top has essentially rotted away underneath next to the sink, and the sink-unit side panel sags so badly you have to open the cutlery drawer to be able to open the cupboard door under it. (Now you know why I've never posted photos of the kitchen.) I suggested replacing the side panel, but it's a trickier job that it first appeared, and we might have to resort to wedging it until we can afford a new unit. But I'm going to price up work-tops tomorrow - I really want the old one replaced, if nothing else it's not safe to put heavy stuff on any more. Eh well - I'll see what they have at Focus). On the plus side, I found the two missing teaspoons, one dessert fork, and my much-missed Kitchen Devil vegetable knife that had all dropped down the back of the old machine. And a Beyblade underneath it...
Also on a happy note, Denis managed to stop the kitchen taps dripping (which they did from the cross bit at the top, but only when turned on, so it's not quite as bad as it sounds!), and has the outside loo in place, though hasn't quite finished all the plumbing yet: hopefully tomorrow. I've sewn the three straight sides of both of the hall curtains - hoping to get the track bit done tomorrow. I picked up a pine-effect curtain rod from The Range today, so with a little luck the hall will finally be finished at the weekend. The valance will take a little longer; I need to measure up and make 'flaps' for the four drawers in the divan base.
Kai thoroughly enjoyed his Chill-Out session yesterday, and loved his extra-curricular Science Club this afternoon (playing with copper sulphate and trying to blow up the lab, I gather...). I think he'll be OK for this term. He has a half day tomorrow: it's the school's Open Evening for the 2007 intake. I think he'll enjoy the rest!
I, however, have the most awful sore throat. No idea where from, though I'd guess Kai brought it home with him. Going to take some 'prufen and try for an early night, I think. (We have The Fast and the Furious on TV at the moment but I can't say I'm impressed: boys trying to out-testosterone each other are just tedious. And I'm not a great lover of flashy cars...)
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
So, washing machines... After an hour of hunting, comparing prices, delivery speeds and installation costs - because although we installed the last machine ourselves, for a few pounds more it would be soooo nice to have a professional do it, and the online discount will pay for it - we've ordered one of these. It'll be installed on Sunday this week (which does mean I have to do one hand wash, Kai's school clothes, on Friday, but I can cope with that), and they'll take the old one away free of charge.
Happy now. Bosch are a German company (have I mentioned how much I admire and respect German engineering? Probably at least once a year, I suspect...) and even granted that things don't last as long as they used to was [grins at GoodTwin], I'd expect it to have a fairly long life. I hope. Fingers crossed! I'm very pleased with the specs - A+ energy rating, larger load, spin speed half as fast again as the Indesit, automatic water level control, 46 litres [later edit - tch', 49 litres... maybe I need new glasses...] consumption for a normal wash (good compared to some!) and a half-hour quick wash programme. And I'm getting all excited about a new washing machine - how sad is that?! [grin].
'Course, now we have all the fun of trying to wrestle the old one out of place - and emptying it, since it has a large pool of water in the bottom that I can't drain away, oh joy. We'll have a go at that on Saturday. Well, not the draining, we'll have to tackle that sooner, otherwise it'll start to smell. Wish us luck...
The photo is of my callicarpa, in an attempt to show the colour the leaves are going. I'll take more as the colour changes, and am keeping fingers crossed the berries are good this year (they've been a bit sparse in previous years).
Kai has his first extra-curricular activity today - a Chill-Out session, which I understand to involve talking about things that distress you and learning techniques for coping with stress (sounds a little similar to the sessions he had in his last year at St Anne's, where the sprogs all sat round in a circle and shared problems. Not sure how often they were held though). Be interesting to hear how he got on.
More later. I'm well behind with emails/business stuff and really need to catch up.
Most of the piping and fitments for the outdoor loo is done.
Duplicity is posted in the (other) Zone, in the Rogue Lemons section.
Took Quyn for his check-up/repeat prescription for the pain-killers: vet thinks the arthritis might be spreading (slowly) to his spine, as he's having a little trouble with his back left leg. But the current meds are working, so she says just to keep an eye on it in the meantime. There is something stronger, but it's so strong it would be two weeks on, two weeks off, and it's only used as a last resort. For now he's happy enough, and obviously not in pain.
Kai went to school all prepared for rugby and they ended up doing keep fit again instead. But since everyone had taken their rugby kit, he didn't feel out of place.
Our washing machine finally packed up. In the middle of a wash.
This last is somewhat serious, although I really can't complain too much. We bought it just after buying the house, 15 years ago, and it was the cheapest we could find at the time (ordered from the catalogue I was running back then for about £350), so it's done really well, almost twice the assumed life-span of such a heavily-used appliance, especially in such a hard-water area as Bristol and given it's had no maintenance just about ever. It's not completely defunct, it's just that the processor running the programmes is screwed, and it won't drain and spin... which, come to think of it, pretty much means it is defunct. Bugger.
As it happens, the catalogue I'm running presently - Oxendales - also sells a handful of washers, and they have a small range of Indesit models (the old one is an Indesit), but there's no indication of how long it will take to arrive. Not to mention the cost, which we could really do without right now. And our local laundrette is half a mile away up Sandy Park Rd, wholly impractical without a car, so I'm lumbered with handwashing til we can get a replacement.
Eh well. Gritting teeth, biting bullets and all those other tedious clichés. At least it's supposed to be pretty warm and dry this week, so drip-drying is an option...
I found this earlier on Deleterious, the spork of a truly hideous Harry Potter fanfic, and it had me pissing myself laughing. [sporking in bold]
She cast her eyes to the floor, wondering how she'd get them back for a mere moment; the uncertainty of why she had kept such a thing still plagued her like a bitter, nasty plague of plagueness, and lo! she was angsty, and she feasted upon the sloths and antelopes and orangutans.That last would make a most marvellous sig...
Taking an early night: I nearly fell asleep in the BCP meeting. Ooops. Embarrassed? Oh yes.
Sunday, September 03, 2006
It only seems like a couple of months ago that I posted the photo of the sumac's glorious autumn colours, and now it's changing again. And my calicarpa's leaves are turning the most beautiful bronzy-plum colour: I'll have to try to get a photo tomorrow.
But it was a relatively successful weekend. After finally managing to find a plumber to come and fix the leaking pipe in the outdoor loo on Friday afternoon, today Ken sealed the ceiling with PVA emulsion ready for tomorrow, when Denis is due to come and install the new loo. And the tiny basin, since we've discovered that building regulations state that all toilets need hand-washing facilities too. Not that I think it's a bad idea - be great to be able to rinse off gunge without having to traipse through the house - but it's an additional expense we could do without. Eh well. It'll be wonderful when it's all finished!
Ken picked up some organic leeks going cheap, so I made Welsh Leek and Bacon Pie yesterday. No, no idea why it's specifically Welsh, unless it's to do with the leek being the national symbol, but it's very filling and very tasty. I even made it a smiley pie to tempt Kai, as he's never had it before and can be very fussy on occasion. (Didn't work, he wasn't keen at all, but did make himself eat a bit.) On the plus side, he (finally, finally) cleared his workstation (I've only been asking him to do it for the last two years) so he can now keep all his school stuff together and findable. He also did all his homework without nagging, which was great, although I can't see it lasting!
As a reward, Ken took him to a car boot sale this morning, up at Knowle (I had a lie in, which I thoroughly enjoyed, even if it didn't last long enough). He arrived back with an old cine camera - which he promptly took to pieces - and an interesting carriage clock, with a clockwork mechanism but run by battery, sort of an intermediate between clockwork clocks and digital ones. Not an antique, exactly, but a sort of landmark, and he's quite fascinated.
I cleared some client site revisions and finished Duplicity. It's not posted in the (other) Zone yet, as I need to create a new background tile and I'm too tired right now. I am posting it in the CoR Lj though - unfortunately minus pic as I just couldn't get it to a state where I'm happy with it.
Tomorrow it's yet another hunt through the Writers and Artists, checking up agents, again...
Friday, September 01, 2006
"Most people would see a volcanic eruption and 300 tons of dinosaur stampeding towards them as a problem. Nigel, however, sees this as an opportunity."
Kai says today was OK. But he's very tired, and looking forward to a couple of days off, so we're taking it easy this weekend.
Synchronicity? Colm Feore plays the Lord Marshal in Chronicles of Riddick. He also narrates the series on the Inquisition that we've been sort-of following on TV. And last night's episode was about the doings of the Inquisition in Venice in the 16th century - which is the subject of the Saint-Germain book I'm currently reading for both enjoyment and review...
So I saw Kai off at the corner (he trotted off quite happily: he's settling into things very quickly, bless him) and wandered over to Tesco to try to pick up some organic frozen veg, something they haven't had for a few weeks now, and being 7.25 am the shop was mostly empty - so, still finding no organic frozen veg, I asked what the problem was...
They've stopped stocking it, I was told. Not content with putting all the fresh organic fruit and veg in with the non-organic, and on the top shelf where even I have a bit of stretch to reach it, they are now not stocking any organic frozen. Tesco, who are now giving shoppers 'green' reward points for using their own bags, are no longer going to stock organic frozen veg. Miffed? Oh yes. So miffed I went to Customer Service after paying for the little I did buy to complain.
They log customer complaints now, and give you a copy to keep. It says at the bottom: 'We will always take your complaint extremely seriously and as such we need time to investigate it. Please allow us a minimum of 14 days from the date of your complaint before you will receive a reply.'
14 days? And what am I supposed to do in the meantime?
Actually that's a rhetorical question: I went straight down to Sainsbury's and spent a small fortune stocking up on their frozen organic veg instead.
[sigh] We'll still need to use Tesco for a few items that I can't get anywhere else (and Ken prefers it because it's all on the flat instead of the slight hill on the way back from Sainsbug's - hardly a decent reason for shopping there, in my opinion) but price-wise there's little difference between the two, and Sainsbug keeps all its organic stuff together, making life much easier for me. I shall switch back to doing the main shop there.
What a day...
Kai was fine though - today was OK, and he's even beginning to get used to the bus - at least, not letting it bother him so much - which is great. He's also discovered that one of his group is into Furuba (but hasn't read as many of the manga as Kai!) We're both really looking forwards to the weekend, though.
There are three new Lutra Snupins now posted in the Lemons part of the (other) Zone, including the heart-rending Missives. Enjoy, ZoneFolk...
My Vaako action figure arrived today - beautifully detailed, and the face isn't too bad at all (they're never quite perfect - well, non-anime faces aren't anyway). But what really tickled me was the packaging. The supplier, SMM Toys, obviously uses recycled boxes (I approve!) but look what Vaako came in...
[pissing self laughing] Yes, it really does say Sliced Premium Roast Beef...