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


Thursday, November 30, 2006

I'm 26. I'm past the hormonal-teenager stage. I look after my skin.

So why, oh mother of god, am I still getting spots?!?! When I used to complain about my skin at the age of fifteen, I was told that it would all be different when I grew up and it was just cause I was 'at that age'. My ass! No sooner has one cleared up than another appears!

I feel so cheated.

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This has nothing to do with my wedding.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

There's been a bit of soul-searching going on at the moment regarding blogging in general, blogging etiquette, effects on friends and family and so forth. Drama Queen, Elisabeth and Sarah to name, well three, and I've been thinking about the same topics.

In addition to Fiance, only two friends know about my blog. One of these friends was off work with a ruptured Achilles Tendon (oww!) and the other is Drama Queen. I told both of these friends as the topic of blogging came up in a 'maybe-I-should-start-a-blog' kind of way. Although I hadn't mentioned it to them or anyone else, I didn't want to start telling downright lies about it and revealed my secret.

But none of my family know. Not that I'm ashamed, or that I think they'll be offended by anything I've written, I've just never gotten round to telling them. When I started this, I just wanted to write something every day.* I never expected anyone to read it, and wasn't bothered whether anyone did - it meant I could write about farting without worrying what people think of me (I fart A LOT).

But now I feel like I'm keeping something from my rellies because this here blawg has become quite important to me. It's somewhere I can come and express my thoughts, opinions and feelings in a way that lets me EDIT. I sound more intelligent on this blog than I do in real life - I'm a mumbling, sputtering idiot in my day-to-day life. But also, it has got me writing pretty much every day - even if I don't publish what I write I save it. This means a) I'm learning to edit my own writing, and b) there's always a substandard post that I can put up in a pinch. I'm also starting to feel that it's another way to socialise and make new friends - albeit in a strange, virtual kind of way.

So I think over the next few days I'm going to do a bit of spring cleaning to make sure there's nothing too mortifying for me or them. And then I'm going to think seriously about telling my folks of the existence of NotJustAHatStand.***

*Well, every other day**

**Oh ok - as often as I could be assed.

***Let the record show that I only said I'd think about it.


It's not the first wedding-related freak out, and it certainly won't be the last

Monday, November 27, 2006

So I've found my wedding dress.

It turns out that I was right in this post - the one I kind-of-almost thought was the one, is the one. I've not ordered it yet because that would involve committing to get married and at the moment there's nothing really stopping me from running away and hiding come 7th September next year, because we've not handed over any money to anyone.*

I tried on a number of dresses on Saturday, but none of them really made me feel all that special. As soon as I put on The Dress however, I felt like someone had sprinkled Instant Bride Powder over me - despite the fact my hair was all windswept and I'd cut my leg whilst shaving and I had on blue pants. The only thing that worries me (other than the possibility I may put on my blue pants come the wedding day), is that the dress isn't how I pictured it. I had pictured something lacy and pretty like this but it's not. At all.**

I don't know if this is a bad thing or not. Is it? Help me please, Internet.

Sidenote: The hefty price tag was also put into perspective in the first bridal shop we went to. I was handed a questionnaire by the po-faced assistant asking all the usual questions about the wedding date/location etc, and there was a section at the bottom relating to my budget, asking me to tick the bracket that matched my budget. The top bracket was £7000-£9000, which thankfully, is waaay more than my dress. When I saw this I nearly swallowed my clipboard, and decided that I wasn't going to tick any of the boxes, because I'm pig-headed. And because I didn't want them to think I couldn't easily afford the most expensive dress in the shop.

Typical of Fiance and I we haven't really made any other wedding progress, although our hall cupboard is in great shape. We went back to the venue with both mums - cue much oohing and aahing. We asked if the place had their seal of approval for the wedding and the reply was that if we didn't book it, they would. So I think that's a goer.

But we still don't have a photographer, or a band. Or a finalised guest list. Or an estimate of how much it's all going to cost (other than 'a lot'). Or kilts, bridesmaids dresses, a florist, menu, seating plan, first song, last song, favours or most importantly of all - all honeymoon.

After arranging all that, I'm going to need a holiday. And possibly a mild sedative.

*I'm KIDDING, of course...

**I should clarify here that The Dress is very pretty, it's just not lacy or vintagey which is what I pictured. This post is just badly written.


yon Empress of the North

Friday, November 24, 2006

I love Edinburgh but you have to have a strong constitution to live here. It likes to scare you, see?

There's always the odd surprise waiting round the next corner. Yesterday I was walking along Princes Street, in that Novemberish way (i.e. at a 30 degree angle against the howling wind) when all of a sudden there was an almighty explosion, just off to my left in the Gardens. I nearly flung myself to the ground for cover, but thankfully I remembered I had a cream coat on and decided to take the hit standing.

Once my breathing and heart rate had returned to normal and I realised I wasn't dead, I quickly figured out that the noise was a fireworks display, which was part of the Christmas Light-Switching-On Ceremony. Now I'm used to the big ol fireworks they like to put on to give the tourists a good sending-off at the end of the Festival, and at Hogmanay, but I wasn't expecting this one on my way home from work and I nearly wet my pants. Thankfully I wasn't the only one to get a wee start, and when 200 people stopped in their tracks to see what was going on over there, there were numerous shunting incidents to distract people from my yelp of shock.

And as if major deflagrations aren't enough, there are other things that will scare the bejeesus out of you during a typical day in Auld Reekie. Despite living here for 26 years, I still sometimes get a fright at 1 o'clock when the dirty great gun goes off (although like most Edinburgh residents I try not to show it in front of the tourists - we like them to think we're immune to it). All the ghost stories that keep the Royal Mile in business are fine in August when it stays light till 9pm and the place is crowded with Japanese tourists and their cameras, but in November when it's dark and you have to pass Greyfriars Kirkyard or take a short cut through Fleshmarket Close? Not funny. Then there's the man who paints himself white and stands in front of Jenners pretending he's a marble statue (SO freaky). And if you have the misfortune to wander into the midst of the opening of the Next sale? Well, you can incur serious injury (or death) if you don't stay on your toes.


Maybe baby, but not for a looong time

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Babies. They're everywhere! Two of my close friends are pregnant, two colleagues are pregnant, one ex-colleague is pregnant, and one colleague has just given birth.

I, thankfully, am most definitely NOT pregnant. And if I am? Well, I'll sue. I don't know who, but SOMEBODY WILL PAY.

But I know people will expect me to start popping out babies once I'm married, and quite frankly the thought terrifies me even more than the bill for our wedding. Not just the thought of giving birth (which: ohmyGOD), but the actual wrangling of the thing once it arrives, and for 18 years or so afterwards.

I know I'll feel differently when all the babies start arriving and being all cute and smooshy (I did when the last round of babies were born) but for the moment I'm staying well away from Fiance and his swimmers, just in case.



Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I can't wait for my wedding. As terrified as I am about the whole thing, I can't wait to put on my dress and make Fiance REALLY mean it when he says in his speech that I'm the girl of his dreams.* I'm excited at the prospect of being married, and being Fiance's trouble and strife (even more so than I am already).

However, I'm VERY excited about the honeymoon. Fiance and I have agreed that we're going to splash out as much as we can without having to file for bankruptcy and have the holiday of a lifetime, so I kind of feel like the world's my oyster (Fiance: 'Don't you mean OUR oyster? And while we're at it, it's OUR wedding remember!').

I'd always figured we'd end up somewhere like Mexico or the Caribbean but then I got this for my desk at work (my boss is fairly relaxed about the desk accessories we purchase on the departmental budget), and ever since I've been like a kid in a sweetshop. Whenever I have a spare minute at work I pore over my miniature world, picking out interesting destinations and planning itineraries that would keep us occupied for months on end, never mind the three weeks max that we'll be able to afford (or not as the case may be).

Fiance is fully on board about the whole 'holiday of a lifetime' thing, but he's a bit more practical than me when it comes to paying for the thing. He realises that, much as we would like to, we can't do both North and South America. Or China then Japan. Or Malaysia then the Maldives. Or Australia then Fiji. Or the Ice Hotel in Sweden then somewhere else to warm up.

It's such a shame, I have such a lot of good ideas. There's so many places in the world I want to see, I'm never going to be able to pin it down to just one. Still, it's not a bad decision to have to make!

*Not that I'm hinting or anything.

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My name is Katrina, and I am a Book Geek

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I have become worryingly obsessive about my book collection.

I love pottering around charity shops for cheap paperbacks that I'd have to pay £7-8 for in one of the big bookshops, and a second hand bookshop is my idea of heaven.* However my fascination with rare/antiquarian books has reached new heights in the last couple of months, and I'm beginning to worry that I'll end up living in a manky old bedsit with only my books for company, driven mad at the prospect of having to pick one to sell in order to make the rent.

It started with an Antiquarian Book Fair in the Assembly Rooms earlier this year. I found out about it by chance, and went along because I love anything to do with books - old or not. I had browsed on eBay for the odd title that I specifically wanted but hadn't really pursued it any further than that. So I wandered around amongst the bibliophiles for ages, enjoying being in the presence of like-minded individuals and ALL THOSE BOOKS, but at the same time a bit disappointed because I wasn't interested in the Regimental Orders of the 4th East Surrey Regiment or the Land and Labours of Belgium.**

I was about to leave when I stumbled across a first edition of The House At Pooh Corner for £90. As a Pooh-lover I nabbed it, feeling quite chuffed with my wee bargain. Then I saw a matching third edition of Winnie The Pooh, for £30. Of course, I couldn't buy one without having the other - they were a natural pair - so I decided to buy that as well. THEN I saw a 1966 edition of The Hobbit, with the original dust jacket, for £120. A quick, pleading, phonecall to Fiance later and I was trotting out of the place, clutching my treasures - the first pieces of my collection (one of which was to be Fiance's birthday present to me). I had a collection!

Since then I've bought a signed presentation copy of Vincent Starrett's 'Penny Wise Book Foolish' (a book about book collecting), a signed book of poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow printed in 1889, a 1920's edition of Little Women with a beautiful Art Nouveau cover, and as of 6pm today, a 1931 edition of The Wind In The Willows, the first edition to be illustrated by E.H. Shepard (he of Winnie the Pooh fame). This last one was another fairly pricey one and Fiance was exasperated when I told him I'd bought it. He knew I had my eye on it, but I think he was hoping I'd restrain myself. Unfortunately for him, The Wind in the Willows is one of the books that mean a lot to me and I just had to have it. The worrying thing is that I didn't even really make a conscious decision to buy it, I just found myself clicking and typing and before I knew it I'd made a bid... I got it for the starting price of £125, but it's still a pretty expensive book to me.

Next time it might not be £125 I'm bidding though, it might be something more like this. I'll have to watch myself. Maybe I'll steer clear of eBay for a while.

*My favourite one is West Port Books at the top of Lady Lawson Street - it's full to the gunnels with thousands of pre-owned books of all description, all higgeldy-piggeldy and crammed in any old way. I could spend days in there.

**Is anyone?!?



Monday, November 13, 2006

... was the worst year of my life.

In the January of that year Fiance's dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer. It turned out to be too advanced for them to treat and he died, after a courageous battle with the disease, on the 2nd May aged 58. Watching Fiance and his mum reel from their loss, I was made to realise how thankful I was for my own happy little family.

On 11th November, Fiance got an early morning phonecall from his mum to tell him that his uncle (her brother) had died suddenly in his sleep. He was 52. We were stunned by this news, partly because Billy was such a character he seemed invincible, but partly because we couldn't believe one family could be so unlucky. I now wonder if our saying over and over at this time that things couldn't get any worse, had anything to do with what followed.

Two days later, on 13th November, I was having lunch with friends and got a phonecall from my mum to tell me that my dad had collapsed and been rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack. I raced to the hospital, praying that everything would be ok but knowing deep in the pit of my stomach that it wasn't. By the time I got there my dad had passed away. He was also 58.

My father worked all his life, and in everything he did he gave 100%. He could do anything (or so it seemed to me when I was younger). He knew how to put up wallpaper, change a tyre, read a novel in one sitting (something I have never managed), lay concrete, fit carpet, put together a killer PowerPoint presentation, write a fantastic CV, do long division and he had a knack for keeping young children amused for hours on end. If he didn't know how to do something, he gave it a bash and generally ended up succeeding in whatever he was doing.

He worked for 30 years in Ferranti and all its various incarnations. He studied part time for an MBA in the six years before he left Ferranti (or BAE Systems as it was by then), and two weeks after he graduated he handed in his notice, and went off to a fairly senior post in a large luxury car manufacturer where he stayed for six years, before becoming disillusioned with it. He then left to work in Scottish Enterprise, which he adored. In the short time he was there (a year) he had managed to cause some ripples in the calm, but inefficient, pond that was Scottish Enterprise. In short, my father was a driven man, but he also loved his family and would do anything he could to help us - his career was important, but nothing compared to his devotion to his family.

For the last year, Fiance and I have been trying to deal with the fact that we both lost our fathers at a fairly young age, and to support our mothers as best we can. Back in November last year I didn't see how everything could go on as normal without my dad in this world. But life has gone on, difficult as it's been, and it will continue to do so. In one way it feels like we just lost him yesterday - like how could a whole year have passed without me talking to my dad (or asking him to nip round with his drill and put some shelves up)?

But in another way it feels like a whole lifetime ago that both dads were just at the end of the phone, and we didn't have to worry about our mums being lonely or taken advantage of by dishonest tradesmen. I get a horrible tight feeling in my chest every time I leave my mum's house, and see her standing there waving me goodbye - alone. I picture my dad standing behind her, making faces, tickling her or just giving her a hug, which is what he used to do and which meant I could leave satisfied that they had everything they needed, in each other. I'm grateful that I had such a shining example of a happy marriage right in front of me for 25 years - I just wish it had lasted a few more years. But it will stay with me when I embark on my own marriage with Fiance and I hope we'll be as happy as our parents.

I can't imagine being at this stage but I guess it'll happen in the blink of an eye. So much has changed in the last year and a half, I feel like a different person. Even this time NEXT year I'll be a different person than I am today (I'll be married for one thing - ohmygoodgod). I'll always miss my dad, and I'm so sad that he won't be walking me down the aisle next September, but I know he'll be watching me, and I know he'll approve. Even if he did used to call Fiance 'Meatballs' (his name is Campbell).

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Rumsfeld Gets Cute At The Podium

Saturday, November 11, 2006

This made me wee myself a tiny bit.

I hate YouTube. I went on to show Fiance a clip I'd been sent by a girl at work, and it sucked me into it's vortex of swearing celebrities (LiLo you naughty girl!) and cute animals - before I know it's 12.30 at night, Fiance is asleep on the sofa, and my eye twitch has worsened considerably.

Just as I was about to step away from the PC I stumbled across a clip of a sex scene between Sawyer and Kate from Lost Season 3* (oh come on, it was blatantly obvious they were going to boink at some point, it's not like I'm spoiling anything for you is it?!), and oh my word! Evangeline Frilly is a lucky lady.

*Which starts in the UK on on 19th November. I'll be buying the DVD as it is NO LONGER TO BE SHOWN on council TV or Freeview. Bastards.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

This post on Amalah got me thinking about my ... foibles. I am slightly obsessive about certain things (other things, like opening mail and paying bills, not so much), to the point that people must think I am slightly strange.

I have to have the toilet paper away from the wall. If I see the toilet paper facing the wrong way, I HAVE to fix it. Fiance doesn't care which way the toilet paper goes, and just sticks it on the holder any old way. Which of course means I have to come along and fix it because IT'S WRONG AND OMG WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT?! I also flip toilet paper in other people's houses. I figure I'm doing them a favour.

I have to go for a pee before I go to bed. This is in itself isn't unusual, but it has to be the last thing I do otherwise I lie there in the dark thinking 'I should've gone for a pee. I don't need now but I'm gonna wake up in an hour and have to go so I might as well go now'. Even if there IS NO PEE, I have to go and sit on the loo for a minute, just to make sure.

I can't drink tea out of a mug that I have previously used for Cup-A-Soup. It doesn't matter if the mug last had soup in it 6 months ago and it has since been washed with boiling water AND bleach, the tea tastes like soup and makes me want to vomit. I have to have a special soup mug, that I use specifically for soup and nothing else.

This one scares me slightly because the psycho husband in Sleeping With The Enemy did the same thing: tins/bottles/packets in my cupboards have to have the label facing outwards, and be grouped together in families (e.g. if I have two tins of beans they have to be next to each other). I HATE seeing the back of something staring out of my cupboard at me. It makes my teeth itch. It's also partly just good sense, because you can see at a glance everything that's in there (at least, that's what I tell myself).

So there you go, these are my cute little idiosyncrasies (read: reasons why I will never find anyone to marry me except Fiance).

What are yours?*

*Tell me I'm not alone


Office conversation, inspired by the return of 'I'm a Celebrity...'

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Colleague 1: What would you rather eat, a live bug or an eyeball?

Colleague 2: Definitely the bug. Could I kill it first? I'd have to kill it.

Colleague 3: I'd rather eat the eyeball.

All: EURGH! How could you prefer the eyeball?!!

Colleague 3: Because that's like, just another piece of meat. A bug would be crunchy.

Colleague 1: Ok then, would you prefer to eat an eyeball or a testicle?

Colleague 3: Probably the testicle.

Colleague 2: *dry heaving*


In which Teeny gets up on her High Horse, resulting in flagrant overuse of the caps lock

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'm so glad Planet Earth is back on BBC1. This is what they should be using my licence fee for (well, this and Dog Borstal on BBC3, which I LOVE)! I did get a little upset at one point however. They had been following this poor old polar bear who had gotten stranded when the sea ice melted prematurely. He'd been swimming around for days, and when he finally found land it was covered in walrus (What is the plural of walrus? Walruses? Walrii?) .

The poor bear was hungry enough to try and catch one of these monsters (walrus, as well as being spectacularly ugly, are also very large and ferocious) and ended up getting speared by a tusk. He wasn't fatally injured but it was enough to stop him walking, which meant he couldn't catch any food, which meant he was just going to lay down and die. David Attenborough's thoughtful voiceover, with the swelling music in the background and the full technicolour glory of the photography on my stupid new TV, was enough to make me burst into tears, not just for this bear, but for ALL THE BEARS. Because it's all OUR FAULT that these lovely aminals are either going to end up becoming extinct or growing fins and not being bears anymore. The arctic sea ice melts faster every year because of global warming, and it's all OUR FAULT.

Anyway, Fiance heard the snuffling coming from the other end of the sofa, looked over and asked in disbelief 'are you CRYING?!'. He doesn't get as emotionally involved in this kind of thing as me. Don't get me wrong, he likes animals, but he's not the kind of person who cried at Animal Hospital.

This was bad enough, but I also found myself welling up on the bus this morning, when I read about the jungle fires in Indonesia that are threatening the country's orangutans. Plantation owners (probably palm oil plantations) are setting fires to clear huge areas of forest, which are driving orangutans out of their natural habitat, many of them having suffered burns (there I go again *sniff*). As if they don't have enough to worry about with illegal logging and poaching, now they are being burnt alive because supermarket chains can't be ARSED to source ecologically sound vegetable oil to provide us with cheap margarine and plantation owners are too CHEAP AND LAZY to chop down the beautiful rainforest the HARD WAY to provide the supermarket chains with the palm oil. *Breathes hard, nostrils flaring and lips pursed*

I've just been and joined WWF because I feel rather strongly about this (as you may have gathered). You can too if you are so inclined, just click here.

**Update: BBC News have caught up on the orangutan problem - I was right about the palm oil thing.


Giving new meaning to the word 'random'

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Oy. I've just realised it's Saturday night and I've not posted anything since Tuesday. I've not really been up to anything very interesting (until today, but I'll get to that later), and to tell the truth I've not really had anything to say. We've been pottering around the flat, shopping, eating, gardening (I know!), and just generally enjoying not being at work.

We had our mums round for dinner, which means I cooked an entire meal for four (homemade lasagne with salad and tarte tatin with creme anglaise for dessert, thankyouverymuch) without poisoning anyone or setting anything on fire. Both mums seemed to enjoy it, but they may have just been saying that because I was still holding the bread knife.

We also took Coco to the vet to have her stitches removed, so she is no longer my little Frankenstein cat, and is MUCH happier without that nasty buster collar on:
She's now back to her old self - terrorising poor old Roo and eating my houseplants.

On Hallowe'en we did the friendly-neighbour bit and had six groups of guisers round, including one child I wanted to keep for myself, purely for entertainment purposes and the odd bit of smooshing cause he was just so darn cute. He came round with his dad (while all the other kids had come round in groups), and when I opened the door he told me he was going to sing a song. I don't know what I expected, The Alphabet Song or something relating to the Teletubbies maybe. I certainly did not expect him to start belting out Blue Suede Shoes in a pretty darn good impression of Elvis. I was so impressed with both his voice and his guts for standing in front of a complete stranger and singing all by himself, I gave the wee lad extra sweeties and a round of applause.

But today, I actually did do something interesting - I went shopping for my wedding dress. We only went to two bridal shops but I think I may have found The Dress. I had an idea of what I didn't want, and I tried on a few nice dresses that kind of almost fitted the bill in the first shop. Then we got to the second place (a tiny boutique owned by a mad Polish lady who designs dresses and makes jewellery), and I realised the nice dresses I'd tried on in the first shop were actually nothing special at all. The last dress I tried on was one the mad Polish lady suggested, and not one I would have picked out myself but MY GOD that woman was a genius. I loved it. I'm trying not to allow myself to get too excited as it was probably only the 10th or 11th dress I've tried and it was also the most expensive dress of any I looked at today - by a long shot...

[Insert sarky comment from Fiance here.]

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*Logan Pearsall Smith

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