Monday, February 09, 2009

Thinking of Australia

It's hard to know what to say about the fires in southern Australia. So many killed, and so many more homeless; and it's still going on. Even for those who are safe, it's such a terrible thing to have to contemplate.

Words just fail. But we are thinking of you, Australians.

First daffodils of the year

I didn't post over the weekend, though I started writing an entry which I still haven't finished. Maybe tomorrow.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Six things

The Holistic Knitter (in her guise of http://lyndasbookblog.blogspot.com/) has tagged me for a meme. I do memes all the time on LJ, but I'm not sure anyone's ever actually tagged me before! Here are the rules:

Link to the person who has tagged you.Write down six things that make you happy.Post the rules, tag six others and let them know you did it.Then tell the person when your entry is complete.

1 Reading. This must have brought me more pleasure in life than any other activity, since I've been doing it constantly from an early age. I am shamelessly addicted to stories; although I enjoy non-fiction as well, there is nothing quite like having a new book from a favourite author. I always have a book in my bag, and love reading on-screen more than I ever thought I would, as well.
2 My family - see last entry: my parents are pretty nice too :) I include J's family, who are the best in-laws one could ask for.
3 Reading in the bath. This may be a subset of number 1, but there is no better place to read. My ideal bath is deep, and the water is hot enough to last at least 100 pages. Sadly, with environmental considerations (and because I'm so busy) I mostly have showers these days. Haven't worked out how to read in those.
4 The natural world, and our imitations of it in gardens and parks. I love flowers, and I love... landscape. Woods, hills, shores. I'm fortunate enough to live in a place where all of these are fairly easy to get to.
5 Making things. Whether it's baking, drawing, sewing or knitting, or just putting flat-pack furniture together, I find the process very satisfying. I am always disproportionately pleased with the results, maybe because I don't truly believe it's going to work.
6 Sitting in caf├ęs. This may be a slightly odd one. I like good coffee, but it's not just that; I enjoy sitting in a place apart from the cares of home or work for a bit, whether I'm with friends or on my own just reading or people-watching.

Tagging. Hmmm. As I've never been tagged, I don't think I've ever tagged, either. Isabelle, scoliyogi, Rosemary Grace, Loth, Jeni and Anna - please don't feel obliged, but I'm waving at you.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Siblings

My sister's company moved offices a week or so ago, and handily for me, her new workplace is a stone's throw from mine - I can even see part of the building out of my office window. So we've decided to have a sisterly lunch every Thursday. This week, my brother was in town as well, and he came along too.

I get on well with both my sibs, though we're all very different. I will never be either as organised, imaginative, or stylish as my sister, and I'll never be as witty or grounded as my brother. They're very good company.

We've always got on well. Apparently when my sister was brought home from the hospital, I thought she was the best thing ever, and she was my boss from then on. When my brother arrived, she and I instantly co-opted him as an extra doll. The poor kid spent the first few years being dressed up in a variety of outfits, put in a doll's pram, and arbitrarily re-named for whatever imaginary game we were playing.

We did this a lot. My sister was always the guiding spirit, and there are plenty of pictures of us dressed up to play circuses, schools or Peter Pan. We also drew and made things with paper and sellotape ("There are lots of little bits of paper all over the carpet again...") and built intricate structures out of Lego. We didn't always do the same things - my brother was a big car enthusiast from an early age - but we did often play together, and were closer than most siblings I know. I'm glad we all still like each other!

Back garden

This photo was taken almost 22 years ago - I'm seven, and the others are almost six and two. Doesn't the weather look lovely?

It is minus 5 degrees (only celsius, but still) outside at the moment. It seems impossible that sandal weather will ever arrive again. But it will. Patience.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

What we did at the weekend

I may not have mentioned this before, but my husband has a lively interest in audiovisual and broadcasting technology. Not just the programmes, but the methods of transmission and recording. He also likes to be well-supplied with equipment for receiving and recording transmissions, though he doesn't require it to be new - in fact, he'd rather have something old if he can get it to work. He also likes his hi-fi to sound as good as possible.

As a result, this is what the corner of the sitting room looked like until last Saturday. Lots of boxes and wires.I'm certain that I've mentioned that the TV in the picture above was on the blink. Latterly, it was switching itself off almost immediately after being switched on, which made watching it a bit difficult.
However, the corner of the sitting room now looks like this. Better, isn't it?
(That's an episode of Frasier - the one where a basketball player rubs Niles's head for good luck.)
It took a while to select and buy the TV, partly because we are cautious people when it comes to buying new stuff, and partly because it is impossible to buy new cathode ray TVs any more, and the flat ones seem to sell out very quickly. However, the decision to buy a corner unit was taken and carried out in about 24 hours, mostly because a family trip to IKEA happened to coincide with TV Delivery Day. (If you're reading, Shauna, it's a Leksvik.) I'm so glad we went for it.
Still, you're not interested in our TV. What you really want to know is whether Linds's carrot cake turned out well.
I think this picture speaks for itself. (Goodness, Cupcake looks huge. Maybe she's actually an albino wombat or something.)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Better day

The snow was all gone by the morning. I'm sure that the high spirits were just because this much snow is so rare, as Anna said in the comments. It's not often that there's enough snow for a snowball here (and there still wasn't really enough for good snowman-building).

Earlier in the day I had walked into town along the bike path. I wouldn't have dared to bike in the snow, but some hardy souls evidently had, from the tracks. It was fairly pleasant walking, as the track had hardly been used, so the snow was still white and "dry". There were a few footprints, covered over a little; by the time I had been to Homebase and returned, my outward footprints had disappeared under more snow. (This probably doesn't seem unusual if you live in a snowy country.)

I was buying matchpots (for the ongoing hall-redecoration project), tie-back hooks, and two underbed storage boxes. I slightly regretted this as I was trying to walk home carrying two unwieldy plastic boxes - fortunately not heavy. But it's worth it. I now have a tidy bedroom. When I got home I hemmed the new red curtains for the spare room and hung them up, and they look very good. So it was a pretty productive day, really, up until the trauma.

Today wasn't quite so productive, although I did manage to paint the matchpots on to the wall (they look completely different in the light conditions at the top and bottom of the stairs - it's so confusing). And I made this carrot cake. I like baking, but we tend to make the same three cakes over and over, and they're all out of How To Be A Domestic Goddess. Time to branch out.

My brother-in-law is coming at the weekend, so we had an excuse. I hope he likes carrot cake. This is a BIG mixture - we got a loaf tin and nine largish cupcakes out of it. The icing is delicious, though we haven't actually tasted the cake yet! Aren't we restrained?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Mixed kind of day

At about 6pm today, I was all set to write a nice upbeat post about the constructive day I'd had - I got quite a lot done and went for a snowy walk. Apparently Britain has had more snow today than it has for eighteen years!

Then, just as I was waiting for J to come home from work, some boys came past our house and decided to pelt our windows with snowballs. Big teenagers. Hard.

We live in an area of Edinburgh which used to have a bad reputation, and is undergoing regeneration. I've honestly never had any regrets about moving here, or much to complain of regarding neighbourly behaviour. We live between a young doctor and a retired couple. The place seems perfectly civilised.

This didn't. When I heard the boys throwing snowballs at the elderly couple's house next door, I went to the window to see what was happening, which was obviously a mistake. I'm sure it wasn't personal, and I'm sure it was just high spirits really, but they were shouting and swearing and I was genuinely frightened that the windows were going to break. I don't think they could tell how much noise it made for the person inside.

I ended up calling my mum and the local police, in that order (but by then the boys had moved off). The policeman on the phone said that they were getting a lot of similar complaints - and it was happening all over Edinburgh - and they had just sent a police car to patrol the streets, but they wouldn't send anyone out to our house unless we had property damage. Which was fine. Nothing to see here. The boys didn't come back.

J came home just after that, and we had our tea and watched University Challenge and I felt a bit better, but he's now worried that our windows will be broken when we aren't here. He's rationalised that we are under pretty much constant surveillance from the old people's home across the road, so disaster is unlikely to occur, but he's unnerved.

So maybe you'll get a cheery upbeat blog tomorrow. I like snow, and I like people, but I'm feeling a little bit jaded about both just at the moment.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

So that was January

Oh, I didn't post much, did I?

One reason is that I haven't been doing anything for my course, so I haven't had the computer on nearly as much. The other is that I've been unusually tired, and haven't really done much to blog about or felt like blogging. I have been twittering a bit, and if you read them you might have noticed that notable events this month have mostly involved falling off my bike.

Right. New month, new resolutions to blog properly and get on with things. I successfully did NaBloPoMo last November (one post per day for the whole month). Let's see if I can do it again. February is a short month, anyway.

In months that aren't November, NaBloPoMo does themes. This month's is WANT. So here goes. In February, I want to blog daily and I don't want to fall off my bike again.