Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blue Velvet.... now officially the colour of my hair. I dyed it late last night and earned myself purple fingernails, scalp, toenails sand feet for my trouble, not to mention a blue ring around the bath and a blue spattered shower curtain. My hair is blue..ish, although not as deep a colour as I'd hoped for. It's certainly not as vibrant a blue as Emily's was a green, but I guess that's to be expected since my hair's much darker than hers.

I did try to take a picture of it, but it's not showing up at all well on camera and just looks black, so I'll spare you ;-)

Went to visit Hazel, Romy, Tansy and their adorable new rats today, which was a nice break. Was briefly rather concerned when I tried out Hazel's blood pressure machine only to find that it gave some sky high reading...and then gave an even worse one after that. Fortunately, "Nurse Hazel" came to the rescue and took it a third time for me, while I thought nice thoughts, and it turned out to be "ideal". I should think so. Thank goodness for that!

Nothing formally educational today as I spent all morning working on a deadline which turned out to be not required after all (breathe, breathe) and then we went out, but on the plus side I've tidied a bit. Which is always worth reporting as it happens so rarely. The morning's procedures weren't helped by a parrot who seems to think my new blue plumage is rather attractive and wants to sit on my head and preen it, lol.

Speaking of Lulu, she's being a darling at the moment. She's become so good at stepping up when requested that now she absent-mindedly waves her foot in the air if anyone mentions "step up" even if you're nowhere near her, bless her! She's very comical and still super-affectionate to Jon, affectionate to me and getting there with Emily. Lulu has discovered that custard creams and/or unbuttered scones are heaven on earth and will do just about anything if you mention the magic word "biscuit". Not that we'd resort to bribery or anything. Perish the thought.

I just remembered that I never did put up any photographs of Lulu's rope in the dining room; it's been up for a few weeks now and she absolutely LOVES it. It runs the whole width of the dining room, with lots and lots of hanging toys and ladders and climbing things on it and the giant hanging cube that Gramps made for her too, plus she has her hanging swing perch at the other end of the room, the hanging hexagon climbing thingy (technical term) and her downstairs playstand in there too, so it's parrot heaven :-)) Lulu's getting to grips with the fine art of foraging too, so now we can attach little cereal boxes and paper bags and things to her various toys stuffed with her foot toys or treats and she knows to tear them open to find what she wants :-)) She has a passion for baby rattles and things like that, so I've bought a few job lots of second hand baby toys from ebay for her to play with and chew to bits. Little love is extremely acrobatic on the rope and hanging toys and frequently swings from one toenail whilst squawking manically, usually just when Emily's supposed to be concentrating on maths. Perhaps they have a telepathic link!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Emily's New Blog

... is at

Various things and people have heartily annoyed me today, so it hasn't been one of my better days all round. We did squeeze in a bit of education this afternoon, looking at the rise of communism and facism following the end of the first world war. Emily keeps asking intelligent questions.... to which I don't know the answers... so that's either an indication that I'm stupid or that she's growing up to be an insightful and thoughtful young woman. I think I prefer the latter option.

I did finish some work for the press agency first thing this morning, which is a weight off my mind, but there has to be a way out of having to meet those deadlines for the rest of my life. Hey ho. Colour me "out of sorts".

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Great War and the Kindness of a Stranger

Education has been happening. Emily's firmly getting to grips with So You Really Want to Learn Maths Book 2...funny how her enthusiasm for maths has quadrupled since she discovered that she'll probably need some kind of maths evidence if she wants to study programming at college, lol.

History has been happening too, as someone has discovered an absolute fascination for World Wars I and II. Emily's been learning about and writing about the causes and build up to WW1 and about life in the trenches, with lots of background reading too and intelligent questions. We've got some videos of newsreel from the first and second world wars that she'll be watching and we're going to take a look at some famous war poems too. Naturally, it's also a good excuse to watch some more Blackadder. Tomorrow we're finding out about the Treaty of Versailles - funny how I'm learning far more about both wars now, with Emily, than I was ever taught at school, even at my supposedly outstanding girls' senior school. Sigh.

When it comes to WW2, Emily wants to read Anne Frank's diary and I suppose we could watch Carrie's War, among other things, although I was never that keen on that one. She also has a great resource in my Mum, who lived through the blitz as a young child in London; her father was (damn, I forget the correct title) one of those responsible for finding accommodation, shelter, support etc for those who had been bombed out of their homes. We have lots of other books and sites to look at too - it's odd how Emily has re-found her enthusiasm for history over this. She was such a history buff when she was younger - we spent months and months on end looking at Tudors, Victorians, Egyptians etc - but then she went off it all. I think it's the fact that this is modern history, within living memory of people she loves, and that she can see how it has had a direct impact on some of the world's situations today.

Emily has also expressed an interest in properly studying a Shakespeare play; probably either Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth. I did Julius Caesar at school and loved it, but I can't interest her in that one particularly. I'm rather enjoying getting our teeth back into some hard work, education wise. I still wish we were more organised and had more hours in the day, though. Don't we all?

Meanwhile, Jon was stopped in the street by a very kind lady today. She wanted to tell him that she was the one who had found kibby Voldy - she had knocked on various doors looking for his owners but it was someone else who eventually came to find us, so we didn't know who had found him. She said that she had come across him in the road and she felt that it had only just happened at that time. She picked him up out of the road and laid him on the side, out of further harm's way, bless her heart. She was able to confirm that he had died outright, or at least that he hadn't moved from where he had been hit and had passed by the time she got to him, thereby laying to rest my nightmares that he'd struggled to the side of the road himself or had lingered in pain. She said a lot of very kind things to Jon and reduced me to tears again when he came back in and told me. We're very thankful to her, that someone showed such kindness to kibby Voldy's body, moved him and set off the chain of events that then found us.....otherwise who knows what might have happened if he'd been left in the road.

Severus is still very lost; he seems to have grown up all of a sudden without his brother around to be a kitten-cat with :-((

On a happier note, we have all three of us discovered the "joys" of facebook (yes, I know, we're late starters). Lots of hours have been wasted this week sending one another daft things and catching up with old friends from school!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Green Hair, a Wedding Dress and My Life's Lesson

Thank you for your kind comments about Voldy. There have been lots of tears here and it still hasn't really sunk in. Emily has been distraught at times and her howls of utter misery when Jon and I first told her, late on Saturday night, will stay in my head for a very long time. She experienced losing Merlin, of course, and all the sadness and heartbreak of that, but this is different yet again; not any easier or harder, but different, perhaps because Emily was prepared for losing Merlin as he'd been ill for such a long time and we'd discussed it. With Voldy, it was such a shock and he was still a baby.

February and romantic moments are clearly not good times for our cats - we lost Merlin the day after our wedding anniversary two years ago and now Voldy on Valentine's Day.

I'm haunted by uncertainties over exactly how Voldy died; can we be sure it was a car or motorbike not a deliberate act of cruelty? If we'd got to him sooner, was there something we could have done? Was he conscious of what was happening to him? What silly, trivial thing were we doing, inside the house, when he was hurt? Was his spirit sad at not being initially recognised? You can imagine the thoughts, I'm sure and I'm sure others who have lost pets in similar circumstances have felt the same too. It's been doubly hard because I was so sure initially, finding the body, that it wasn't him. He just didn't look like our fluffy baby... or perhaps we were just desperate for it not to be him. He was jet black all over, with no distinguishing marks as such and it was very dark outside and there are a number of other black cats around here apart from ours. Alive of course, we could recognise him instantly, but although it sounds silly we just couldn't be sure at first. So although we picked him up and took him back to our home, we did so initially thinking it was someone else's pet - we took him off the pavement because we couldn't leave *any cat* there on a Saturday night with the drunks walking past and because we knew we would have wanted someone else to take our baby's body somewhere safe too. We did all that, still thinking it wasn't him and still calling for him and searching for him. It wasn't until much later, on yet another close look with a torch that we finally realised the worst.

But, life goes on, of course.

Today in an effort to take Emily's mind off things, we dyed her hair green. As you do. It's now Sonic Green from the lovely people at Bee Unique. We'd bought the dye about a week ago and I also bought Blue Velvet for me too, although we haven't got round to doing mine yet. The coverage isn't absolutely salon perfect, since I'm a novice at dying anyone else's hair, but it's pretty good and I think Emily's hair looks beautiful (just as well as she's got to live with it now for a month or two at least, lol) - she's very happy with it :-))) Plus, as only ever so slightly an ulterior motive, it didn't hurt to point out to her that she wouldn't be allowed to dye her hair that colour if she was attending school..... ROFL! Never being one to post one picture when half a dozen will do, here she is in all her sonic green glory, including one cuddling our poor bereft Severus.

On Valentine's Day, before our hearts broke, we opened up the box containing my wedding dress, the first time Emily had ever seen the real thing. Of course, she had to wear it. And of course, I was thrilled that she did. It's obviously far too big, but she looked so pretty :-))

Work went out of the window on Sunday as we were all a bit numb, so I've only just now finished my deadlines that were due first thing this morning. Emily's gone off to kickboxing and to play with Jacki's girls - she wasn't going to go (didn't go to karate on Sunday morning because she was too tearful), but I guess it's better that she carries on with her routines rather than sitting moping. I think the green hair helped since she was then keen to show it off ;-) Lulu is doing well. We're going to have to start leaving her loose at the same time as the cats are around, provided we're there to supervise. We can't keep shutting cats out forever.

And of course, that's yet another thing to feel guilty about. Since Lulu arrived in early January, Voldy spent much of the last month of his life being shut out of various rooms at various times. Of course, he still had oodles of love and attention...but these things prey on your mind when it's too late. The night before he died, I was really cross to be woken up at 3.30 am by Voldy wanting to go out and threatening to rip his claws out under the door if he didn't get his way ... heck, most nights for the last few months I was really cross to be woken up at 3.30 by Voldy wanting to go out (you could almost set your clock by him). And when you're grieving, these are the things you have to go through remembering and feeling horrid about.

I'm beginning to seriously think that it might be my life's lesson to learn - to appreciate things while you still have them and not take them for granted. When Merlin died, I felt that I'd taken him for granted for a long time; now the same with Voldy. When I had my wobble about Emily being so suddenly grown up, just before her 10th birthday, I was in bits over the times I'd resented this and that instead of just loving every single day of her life. I'm really making a conscious effort now to just enjoy the people and animals in my life; it's hard when you tend to suffer from depression and when you live in utter chaos, lol - but I'm working on it. I get the message.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sweet Dreams, Voldy

Baby kibbie Voldy was hit on the road last night and killed. We didn't find out until someone came to knock at our door to ask if one of our cats was missing; it must have happened an hour or two before we were told; we didn't hear it happen. He was on the pavement, within sight of our front door, with a lot of injury to his head..... we couldn't be sure it was him, for a while. But it was. Haunted now by wondering whether he was killed outright but some kind soul moved him out of the road or whether he lingered and made it to the pavement himself. Poor baby was only 20 months old. Sev Sev is completely lost without him.

Jon's buried him in the garden next to Merlin. Emily's beside herself :-((((

Sweet dreams, baby Fuffles. I know you'll be walking alongside Sev Sev as he grows up; when summer comes I know you'll be around watching the butterflies and hiding treasures under your treasure bush. Emily has put the feathered peacock ornament you kept trying to steal on to your grave; it's yours now. She's sitting at your grave as I type, reading to you. We love you.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

So...Lots of Snow

Lots of snow indeed over the last eight days. It tickled me at one point when I looked at CNN and found that the UK's snow "issues" were suddenly headline news in the US. Weird. It's always seemed rather unfair to me that when it snows here everyone lines up to moan that we can't cope. Of course we can't cope. Because it rarely snows in England more than a light dusting. So we're not used to it. The transport systems aren't used to it. We don't have the equipment and logistics in place. It's not what we do. England is outstanding at many things, but snow isn't one of them. So? I don't expect colder parts of the world would cope well with a sudden heatwave either. Kudos to those essential workers here who carried on regardless....for everyone else, who cares if there are some days off? Sounds like a healthy excuse to have some fun for once.

We certainly had fun in the snow, although a heavy dose of yukky cold in the middle of the week meant we unfortunately had to cancel a visit to friends. Snowy pictures from various points in the week, from barely there dusting to full on fluffy white stuff, in assorted stages of unsuitable clothing!

In the middle of the week, a letter arrived from the grammar school in Gainsborough, giving the dates for the 11+ exams and open days etc and wanting a signed confirmation that Emily would be doing the exams. Oh yes. It had all seemed such a good idea until that point. Reading it in black and white was a different matter and a horrid, horrid feeling. We had A Serious Family Talk. Emily had been worried that she wouldn't be able to follow her chosen career with taking exams and that to take those exams she'd have to go to secondary school. She's worrying far ahead of her years, of course, but all credit to her for taking her future so seriously. Duly reassured that there are ways and means of accomplishing just about anything without the S-word, she was adamant that she didn't want to go to school and we were adamant that we didn't want to send her. So that was that. She's not going, but we are going to seriously look into alternative routes towards various qualifications when she's a little bit older.

Meanwhile, Emily made some beautiful beeswax candles to celebrate Imbolc, which we burned with our dinner that evening. Although we had to miss seeing friends mid week, we did see Hazel and her girls on Friday, which was good. Emily's been busy texting and phoning Mei Lin and Jasmine like mad, since they were away last week. It was Jasmine's 14th birthday on Wednesday..... !!!! 14!! Where are the years going??

This morning Emily came back from karate as pleased as punch because she'd asked George, on the spur of the moment, about kickboxing classes and he'd said she could join the ladies class rather than the kids class. That's on Monday evenings, so it's a bit of a logistical hiccup since Jon always goes to psychic circle on Monday nights and Emily always goes with him so she can play with Mei Lin and Jasmine while the adults are doing their stuff. Turns out though that Jon can just drop Emily off at kickboxing, go on to Jacki's and start the circle and then George will bring Emily back to theirs when they pack up after the class, so she still gets to play with her friends. Looks like Emily will also be going to the Tuesday kickboxing class in the village, so that's All Good.

What else? There's been lots of wii-ing in the cold evenings; I confess to being unhealthily addicted to Super Mario Galaxy and Emily and Jon love racing people from around the world in Mario Kart. We're still failing to watch any TV that is actually on at the time, lol, but we've been watching various DVDs. As a family we've watched The Waterhorse, Independence Day and X Files: I Want To Believe, the latter much anticipated now that Emily has finally watched every episode ever made (!). The assortment of films prompted much discussion over film ratings, with Emily wanting to know why the X Files film was a certificate 15 as opposed to a 12 (largely due to its references to paedophilia and some fairly strong medical horror). By the way, the British Board of Film Classification has a great site, with a children's section where kids can review/classify trailers and see if they match the official decision and on the main site it gives very detailed information about the whys and wherefores of recent classification decisions.

Meanwhile, Jon and I have been ploughing through some late night DVDs, notably Cold Blood starring Matthew Kelly and John Hannah - I only really knew Matthew Kelly from Game for a Laugh and Stars in their Eyes, but he was absolutely superb as the serial killer in this. We also watched the latest series of Wire in the Blood and now we're on more Robson Green with Touching Evil (although I preferred Wire in the Blood).

On the 6th Feb it was our 12th wedding anniversary :-)) Emily made us Cream Cheese Brownies for a treat, which were absolutely superb!