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People say life is the thing, but I prefer reading*

Introducing The New Member of our Family

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The yucky coldy thing that I had seems to be abating. I now have a hacking cough, which is kind of exhausting, but I'm sure it'll go away in the next month or so. However, in a spirit of great fortitude Fiance has not let my being slightly under the weather prevent him from making me shop for a new TV.

We spent the whole day traipsing round electrical outlets on Saturday (Him: happy as a clam at the prospect of spending a large amount of money on a gadget we do not need. Me: red nosed, weepy eyed, periodically coughing up a lung, scowling), and bought precisely ... nothing.

Then yesterday, because we hadn't had enough Shopping Fun, we drove through to Glasgow to continue our search. We ALWAYS get lost in Glasgow. It doesn't matter where we're going* we get completely bamboozled by the one way system and end up going the wrong way down a one-way street or inadvertently driving back onto the motorway.

Anyway. After an unplanned stop at a multi-story car park on the other side of Glasgow, we found the place he was looking for and we bought the new TV. It was totally worth all the getting-lost, and the can-we-really-afford-it arguments.

This totally doesn't do it justice but I'm still giddy at being able to post pictures (yay!):

Can't write any more, must get back to the box. Can you hear that? It's calling to me.

*With the exception of the Buchanan Galleries because that's practically ON the motorway

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The usual start to my holiday

Sunday, October 29, 2006

This here is my first post from my new hoose - the pooter is now healthy and happy again, after some tender ministrations from Fiance over the weekend. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for myself. I woke up on Friday morning with a horrible scratchy throat, always a bad sign, which has since developed into a full blown cold. It's Sunday night and I'm only just starting to feel human again.

Unfortunately I had a work do on Friday night that I had to go to. I'd been saying all week long that I was going to have a headache on Friday night to avoid going to this thing (why do they insist on having these things on a FRIDAY, for pete's sake?!), so you can imagine how well it would've gone down, me saying that I actually was ill. So I had to go and laugh at the jokes, smile, eat the food and drink the wine when all I wanted to do was go home, curl up in a ball and whimper.

But thankfully, Fiance has taken pity on me - in addition to bringing me tea, toast and tissues, he's been washing the dishes, cooking, hanging up laundry and (best of all) tidying the spare room. So I am now able to get to the PC without having to clamber over yet-to-be-unpacked boxes. I can actually see the floor in here!

There are some benefits to feeling ill though - I finished Rebecca and have started on 'Eragon' by Christopher Paolini. I enjoyed Rebecca immensely. I thought it would bug me that you never learn the narrator's name (other than 'Mrs de Winter'), but it didn't. I didn't need to know. I did get kind of frustrated halfway through because she was such a wishy-washy character, unable to stand up to Mrs Danvers. I wanted to shake her and tell her to pull herself together - she was the lady of the house for pete's sake, she could do whatever the hell she liked. But then in the end she did grow some balls and I started to respect her. I'm glad because I think it would've ruined the book completely for me if she hadn't. I'm not sure about Eragon yet, as I've only read the first chapter, but it'll be a change as the last few books I've read have all been a bit serious.

I'm on holiday all next week - thank the good lord.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

We have broadband! We FINALLY got the wireless connection to work last night after having to reorganise the entire house to connect the ethernet cable (the reason we had to get wireless to begin with is that the location of phone point doesn't allow us to connect cables without major hassle). Once the ethernet cable was plugged in it did all sorts of fancy things and the wee wireless light came on, and Fiance and I did a slow-motion lap of honour round the spare room with the music from Chariots of Fire playing in the background.

Unfortunately, because all our virus checking thingies are out of date the pooter froze about 10 minutes later, and I was unable to write my triumphant 'hurrah it's working!' post from home as I had planned (complete with cheesetastic picture of me sitting at the PC, grinning). So instead I'm writing this from work while our systems are broken.*

Still, at least we're able to get on t'interweb to pick up viruses, which is definitely progress.

*I'm starting to think I have a strangely powerful magnetic field surrounding me, that has the ability to break electrical equipment from 20 paces.


And the topic of today's post is... (drum roll please)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

That I don't have one. I seriously cannot think of a thing to write about. Except the fact that I can't think of anything to write about.

I was going to write about Britney calling her baby Jayden, but all I can really say about it is that she's a hick, and continues to prove that fact every time she opens her mouth to speak or name her latest baby.

I then came up with what I thought was quite a good idea - I asked Fiance to give me a topic to write about and whatever he suggested I would come up with something to say about it. But he hasn't replied to my email. Evidently he's far too busy and important to talk to me until after 5pm.*

I thought of giving an update on my progress with planning the wedding. But I haven't made any.

I toyed with the idea of exploring why it is that I constantly need to trump when I'm sitting at my desk, but as soon as I nip to the corridor/loo/photocopying room to parp in private it disappears until the moment I sit back down in front of my PC. I dismissed that as it's too embarrassing.**

I considered writing about the book I'm reading (Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier), but then I realised that was just stupid as I've not even finished the damn thing.

So in conclusion, my topic for today is my lack thereof. The end.

* Or until he gets bored and phones me for no reason in the middle of the afternoon when our director is in the room.
** Dammit.

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Peace and harmony in the NJAHS household

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Coco is fixed. She had her op yesterday and it was a success - the vet managed to locate and remove all her remaining kitten-making bits. When she first came out of the box she staggered around the room like she was drunk, and her eyes remained all-pupil until approx 10pm last night, which was kind of freaky. She's now just kind of depressed and sulky because she's wearing a buster collar (I would post a picture if BT were able to connect our broadband - bah!) but I'm sure she'll come round and I'll be back in her good books.

Fiance went to the shops on the way home from work last night and came back with a huge bunch of Guilt Flowers (lilies, which I have to admit aren't my favourites, but as he doesn't ever read this website I can safely admit that here), Guilt Pudding (he doesn't normally encourage dessert), and some chicken for poor Coco's dinner (he's a smart cookie, he knows the way to my heart is through my kitties).

The thought was lovely though, and he has now been completely forgiven. The big twonk.

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This one defies description

Monday, October 23, 2006

I had a rather strange weekend, for various reasons.

My sister and her boyfriend were going to his home town - a wee place on the West Coast - for a wedding. My mum and I were invited to go through with them on Friday, stay the night at his parents house and come back the following day. We had a lovely time, my sister's in-laws were lovely hosts and looked after us very well.

While we were there I:

  1. Met various people with strange names like Chooky, Beany, Jazzy and The Badger, including a man named Corky who once stood on a rake (Sideshow Bob style) and in so doing fractured his skull. These are the kind of people I spent the weekend with.*
  2. Fell hook line and sinker for the joke my sister's boyfriend played on me by telling me one of the landscape features we were looking at was called Buttock Point.
  3. Visited the home of a Clan Chief (yes really - the bride was his niece) and used his loo. Hot water, soap and towel all present.

When I got back I engaged in many Martha Stewart-esque activities, such as washing, making soup, weeding the garden and mopping the floors. I retired to bed early with a migraine last night, only to be woken up at midnight by Fiance phoning me to tell me he was on his way home (he'd been in Manchester for the weekend). He did this by singing me a song he had made up.

About 20 minutes later he came crashing through the door, bumbled about the house knocking things over, and removing an item of clothing every so often, until he eventually curled up on the floor of the spare room and went to sleep. I seriously considered leaving him there, but eventually took pity on him. I gave him a good old kick in the ribs and barked at him to go to bed, which he did. Unfortunately once he got there he immediately turned into a hideous combination of the Kraken and Mr Tickle, all arms and beer breath, wanting to give me cuddles(ok, maybe not EXACTLY like Mr Tickle). Needless to say he received another blow to the ribs.

Altogether, quite an odd couple of days really.

*I am of course saying all this with fondness - every single person my mum and I were introduced to welcomed us with open arms and attempted to ply us with alcohol.

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Book Meme

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Continuing yesterday's theme of books and bookishness...

I've been thinking about posting a meme on a regularish basis for a while now, but I always kind of forget about it. And they're not so popular any more - a few months ago I couldn't go a week without having to think about what my favourite cocktail was or my first pet's name or some such nonsense. So that doesn't bode well for my regular feature: Knowing Meme, Knowing You. But this one, of course, caught my interest to the point where I actually typed out my answers to the questions. I just forgot to post em.

1. Number of books owned
I don't know exactly, but over 300 - probably in the region of 320-330. I know this because I keep a catalogue in Excel (which is now sadly out of date due to house move but soon to be updated). That is the kind of sad freak that I am.

2. Last Book Bought:
Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Both £2 from the charity shop.

3. Last Book Read:
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, and am now reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

4. Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:

I had to resist the urge to pick five of my childhood favourites here, as they are the books that I can truly say mean a lot to me, so I've included a token grown up book.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood - the first Atwood book I ever read, and the subject of my RPR in Higher English.

Winnie The Pooh by A. A Milne - every child should read about the adventures of Pooh, Piglet and the other inhabitants of Hundred Acre Wood, before they are sullied by Evil Disney Pooh*.

The Hobbit (and LOTR) by J.R.R Tolkien - I love being able to escape to Middle Earth for a while.

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame - more talking animals, what more could you possibly want?!

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - I've lost count of the number of times I've read this. It's one of my all time favourite books, and the sad bit still has the ability to make me cry after all these years.

5. The book I’ve read more times than any other:

Probably either Little Women, Winnie the Pooh or Bill Bryson's Notes From A Big Country (now there's a book that'll make you snort tea up your nose)

6. Tag five people to continue this meme:
Unfortunately these are the only two bloggy friends that I have. I'm a Bloggy-No-Mates.

*Disclaimer: This is not the real Pooh. The REAL Pooh (before those Disney bastards got hold of him and turned him into the heinous, orange monstrosity in the above link) looks like this. This is something of a pet hate of mine, by the way, in case you hadn't guessed.

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First Lines

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I recently started reading Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier, which begins with the famous line "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

Although I've never read Rebecca before the first line was familiar to me and I started thinking about how reading the first line of a favourite book can feel like meeting up with an old friend. For instance "'Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents', grumbled Jo, lying on the rug' feels like a big fluffy hug to me, being the opening line of one of my favourite books of all time* - Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

I seized upon this idea as an excuse to a) have a look at some of my old favourites that I missed so much when they were boxed up and out of reach, and therefore b) not do my ironing.

Here are some of the first lines that I picked out:

"What a lot of hairy-faced men there are around nowadays."
The Twits, Roald Dahl

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

"We slept in what had once been the gymnasium."
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (I read this, my first Margaret Atwood book, at school when I was 16 on the advice of my lovely English teacher, Mrs Nelken. This stood out for me as when I saw Margaret Atwood at the Queen's Hall last week she spoke about putting her high school gym into The Handmaid's Tale.)

"The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home."
The Wind In The Willows, Kenneth Grahame

"I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to."
The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson (I know this is technically the first TWO lines, but you can't NOT have the punchline to that joke)

"No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be a heroine."
Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen

"Marley was dead, to begin with."
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

"When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle, everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen."
The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett

"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice."
A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving

"'Where's papa going with that axe?' said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast."

And then later from the same book, a description which had me begging my parents for a baby pig that I would name Wilbur:

"As she approached her chair, the carton wobbled, and there was a scratching noise. Fern looked at her father. Then she lifted the lid of the carton. There, inside, looking up at her, was the newborn pig. It was a white one. The morning light shone through its ears, turning them pink."
Charlotte's Web, E.B. White

These are in no particular order, just the order in which I picked them off my bookshelves, lovingly caressed their worn pages, gave them a hug and replaced them on the shelf.

I also found this series of quizzes on opening lines of all sorts of books, which kept me occupied for far longer than it should have today.

*I have tried many times to pin down my one favourite book, and I just can't do it. There are too many that I love far too much to be able to pick one over the other - it would feel like a betrayal.



Monday, October 16, 2006

Well, I finally managed to sort out my blogroll - as you will see if you look down and to the left a wee bit. And yes, I am THAT stupid that I didn't know how to do it before. These are in no particular order, other than the only possible order for someone who catalogues her books in an Excel spreadsheet by author surname - alphabetical.

Which means, unfortunately for Sarah, that her wonderful Whoopdedoo (which is her blog's title, not a euphemism) is waaay down near the bottom. So I thought she deserved a special mention, especially since she is my sole reciprocal link. Well, until Drama Queen gets me a mention on HER site, of course!

I intend to expand my Luscious Linkages of Love, but as we STILL don't have broadband at home (WAAAH!), I am somewhat limited in the amount of time I can spend searching for new blogs to read. They expect me to work, when I'm at my desk you see! Pah!

Any blog suggestions gratefully received for the Linkylove Extravaganza...

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The first, but surely not the last...

Friday, October 13, 2006

I woke up in a cold sweat at approx 4am yesterday morning after a dream about my wedding day.

My dress had gone missing, and I'd spent all morning looking for it. As a result, I wasn't able to get my hair and make up done, and I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. It came time to leave, and the whole wedding party was immaculately turned out and looking lovely, and there was me denim clad with bare face and greasy hair - they said there wasn't time to sort myself out and that I had to go as I was.

For some reason, before the wedding, I was to be paraded around my home town on a float (I know - WTF?!), and the whole town had turned out and were lining the streets looking disappointed at the state of the bride.

It was awful!

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"Wanting to meet a writer because you like his work is like wanting to meet a duck because you like pâté."

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I don't know why I chose to write about Coco and her reproductive woes yesterday (as it's an ongoing problem for the poor wee sausage), when I had a very interesting and informative evening the night before. I guess I just got carried away with the Medical Marvel thing.

I was at the final event of the Book Festival's Autumn Series - Margaret Atwood reading from her newest book and talking with Jenny Brown (former director of the Book Festival and literary agent). I always try to see her when she's in Edinburgh (Atwood, not Brown), which thankfully she is quite often, and it's always worth the money. She spoke about the night she won the Booker (the award ceremony was taking place in the Guild Hall at the time of the event) and how awkward it was to not spill your veg with a camera hovering nearby.

I found it most interesting to hear about her approach to writing a novel. This is the bit I have trouble with (the actual STARTING of the thing). It seems to be:

1) start writing
2) figure out where you're going with it as you're writing, and
3) research it afterwards to make sure you've not written a load of tosh.

I've perhaps oversimplified (I really hope Margaret Atwood never stumbles across my dusty little corner of the web, I think she'd probably sue). As always though, I came away feeling inspired and thinking 'I can do that!'. But then I get carried away with everyday life and before I know it it's the weekend and I've not written a thing except some guff about my cat. I love my little Coco, but it's hardly Booker-winning material now is it?

During the question and answer session at the end, Atwood pointed out someone in the upper level who was being ignored every time they looked for another question from the audience. She obviously felt the injustice of this and when the Chair tried to go to someone else, Atwood pointed at this person and said, in her Canadian draaawl, 'you had a question, yell it out and I'll repeat it'. The question wasn't forthcoming so she said again 'just yell it out'. This went on for a minute or so (presumably while the person sat frozen with a rabbit-in-headlights look upon their face) and then 'where's that microphone-'. It was at this point that she realised she had been trying to coax the mike runner who worked in the venue, into asking a question! The poor man, being barked at by a scary haired Booker winner in front of 300 people.

He was probably a student just trying to make some beer money, but he got a little more than he bargained for.

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My Little Miracle

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My little cat Coco is officially a Medical Marvel.

She was only a kitten when we adopted her, so when she was old enough we took her to the vet to be neutered. While they were operating on her, I got a phonecall from the actual vet who was doing the operation (which may I say was TERRIFYING - hearing her say 'we've got Coco under anaesthetic and I wanted to phone you'. She went on to say 'don't worry, everything's fine' but by that time my heart was pounding, my hands were shaking and I was close to freaking out and running to the surgery to get my baby).

It turns out that due to Coco's... differences... the vet was unable to find and remove all of her kitten-making bits. She is supposed to have two uterine horns and the vet was only able to find one. Unfortunately this means that Coco's operation was unsuccessful - she seems to still be producing the hormones that make her come into season and pine for a hunky boy cat to come and give her a good seeing to. This is of course difficult for poor wee horny (in more than one sense of the word) Coco, but also for the rest of our household, as she becomes particularly noisy and rambunctious when she is in season. She constantly calls for a mate (by miaowing VERY loudly), and the only way to stop this is to give her lots of cuddles or switch the central heating on (because the warmth makes her sleepy).

I called the vet the other day to find out what to do and the verdict was that she will need another operation, a more major one this time as they have to open up her little fat tummy and root around for this missing bit of the jigsaw. As it's a major op however, the vet suggested a blood test to find out if she does actually have all these hormones in her wee body, as there's no point putting her through all this if it's not necessary. The vet doesn't actually know if this blood test is possible, because Coco's is a unique case apparently (see, she's a Medical Marvel!). She is waiting to hear back from the lab whether they can do this or not.

I am dreading this 'major operation'. Coco on the other hand, is supremely unconcerned. She can be seen here on the right (Coco: 'Whatevah! Let me sleep.'):

Chalk and Cheese

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

One of the reasons I like public transport is that you get to listen in to other people's conversations and occasionally these are priceless. Last night on the way home, I overheard two conversations between two COMPLETELY different couples.

Couple number 1 were... how to put this delicately... a bit chavvy. But they weren't bothering anyone, they were just sitting at the back chatting. Because the bus was quiet I could hear every word they were saying.* It seemed that the girl thought she was pregnant, but hadn't been to the doctor yet. It sounded like she was trying to persuade the guy to commit to doing something and he wasn't having it until the doctor had confirmed the pregnancy, and he wanted it in writing! A few minutes later he started preparing to get off the bus, and his girlfriend asked him what his plans were. He told her he was 'going begging' and would be home later. She then asked how long she would have to beg for and he told her 'as long as you need to babes'. Any child of those two is going to be delightful.

Couple number two were a sweet little couple who were about to move in together. They were discussing their plan of attack for getting all their stuff from their respective houses to their new flat. The girl wanted to go together to each of their houses, and pick up their stuff. The guy was taking a more practical approach, and took the view that it would save time if they both went to their own houses separately, picked up their stuff and met back at the new flat. The girl then put on a voice and tone that I recognised well and said 'but then if we do it that way it's like we're just students and we're not - we're a couple'. This was met with silence and I laughed because although I couldn't see her boyfriend, I could sense him rolling his eyes just like the many occasions where Fiance has rolled his eyes at me.

*I go through phases when I can't be bothered with other people and just hide behind a book with my iPod on. When I want to listen in, a book serves as a good screen so that people think I'm engrossed and not actually eavesdropping on their conversations.

Note to self: Mustn't Grumble

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Unfortunately the work-related torture doth continue. It's after 6pm and I'm still at my desk, so this will only be a litte 'un.

I've worked LOTS of overtime the last week-and-a-bit, and although I'm going to get lots of spondoolies for it (spondoolies! hee!), I'm thoroughly sick of looking at my PC, then at a printed sheet, then back to my PC, then back to the printed sheet because I've forgotten the thing I was supposed to remember, then back to the PC again. I've got a lovely new house, and a lovely new suite (whee!) that I can't properly enjoy because by the time I trudge into the house all I want to do is eat, have a bath and clamber into my bed (ahhh, bed....).


But I'm consoling myself that it's only temporary and I will soon be able to skip home at a normal hour to my pretty new house where the sounds of food cooking and bath running abound. I'm sure the squint I've developed will disappear of it's own accord, in time, and I'll be able to post regularly, in a non-rambling, coherent fashion (umm, maybe not that last bit).

*Logan Pearsall Smith

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