Sunday, December 31, 2006

Goodbye to 2006

Today is the last day of the year.
Today I bear absolutely no resemblance to the woman who started the year. None what so ever. On the surface I may appear the same, but there is not a single part of me that has not been altered in one way or another. You know, for years I have ended the year saying "Thank heavens that is over. Next year cannot be as difficult / bad / challenging etc etc". I have posted about this before, and about how my daughter pulled me up short and said that bad things will always happen, and that it is how we respond to them that is the point. Wise child.

Last year, though, my prayer was simply that no matter what life threw at me, I wanted to retain the ability to smile, and to find something to laugh about. Such a simple wish. I thought. 2006 has been a doozie. A mega-doozie. And there have been times when even smiling has required herculean efforts. My head has been exploding. And I have learnt that just getting through one day at a time is the only possible way to do it. It is not all about me, and it never has been. It is about all the people who surround me, who love me, about the strength of my family, and the strength of my faith.

None of us are islands. We all live in community. With family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and even strangers. We are supposed to be accountable. We are supposed to be there for the hard times and the good. For the tears and the laughter. For the memories and the disasters. The unthinkable does happen, and it is how we cope with it that counts. I have learned things I would rather not have had to learn. I have discovered things that have hurt me. I have watched as some take a step towards you and some take a step away. I know what a feeling of isolation is like. I have learnt more about fear and anger and frustration, and alone-ness, and responsibility, and worry and pain and guilt than I thought anyone should know. And I have learned more too about love and empathy and determination and sacrifice and faith.

I have watched my three wonderful children grow up over night. I have seen the gentling of their spirit, and the maturity and acceptance of responsibility that loss brings. I have heard them say the words that sometimes we forget to say. I have seen them step up and stand alongside me. How great a gift is that. I am very blessed. And I have made the time to walk with them, talk with them and listen to them that perhaps might not have happened as much before.

I have learned to stifle impatience, and strive for grace and dignity. I have learned that I am not invincible after all, and that trying to do everything is simply not possible. Tears are ok. It is fine to cry. I have leared how hard it is when you have no idea what to do. I have had to learn how to trust. I have learned that sleep is an optional extra at times, and I have learned to say that I need time and space for myself without feeling guilty. I have also learned that my brain's capacity for learning is just fine. I know more about cardiothoracic medicine than any layman should know.

After 31 years as a stay at home Mum with 3 children, and a mother to look after, I have learned that I can get a full time job, and do it well. I am enough. Good enough. I can adapt. I can change. I can learn. Isn't that what life is all about? Change, growth and development? What I want and what I need are two separate things. I have what I need. What I really want is irrelevant. For 6 months, we have lived largely on faith. God has been good. Amazingly good. Maybe I needed to be tossed out of the boat, so that I would have to walk on the water in faith.

So how do I sum up 2006? A year of shock, sadness, pain and loss? Or a year of astounding growth and change? A year of memories and reflection? A year of financial chaos? A year of hope or bewilderment? A year that marked a turning point in all our lives? A year of development and discovery? All of them apply. Maybe to describe 2006 as a seismic year in my family's life would be most accurate.

On the 7th January, it will be just 6 months since Geoff died. 6 months is just 24 weeks really. Weeks. Just weeks. Heaven knows when the inquest will be and there is so much still to be sorted. My family is scattered across the world, and so, of course, is my heart. But I am looking back, and I am smiling, because we are creeping forwards, not marking time, not going backwards. I am proud of me. I am proud of my children. I think Geoff would be too. I have the most amazing sister in the world, and a Mum who is like a rock. I am eternally thankful for a loving community of friends and family who have made absolutely certain that we are not alone.

So here I am. A little battered and bashed. But my eyes are not on the mountains ahead, but on the God who loves me just as I am, and whose faith in me and plans for me are unlimited. And who makes those mountains just disappear. I am blessed.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

We are home again

Hello all..... I am back! I have tried to catch up with some of my favourite blogs this morning, and am sinking under the weight of all the unread news awaiting me. I need a holiday (another one) to catch up!

David and I got home last night after a week on Scotland. I am so glad I made the decision to go somewhere completely different for Christmas this year. It was just what we needed, and staying with my dear friends, who have known me since the beginning of time it seems, was just perfect. New memories made, and at a distance from all the old ones. I really wanted David to enjoy being 17 and normal. Sure, there were moments of sadness, but interspersed with moments of hilarity and joy too. It worked for us.

The turkey was cooked on the BBQ and was a revelation. An excellent idea, and having the oven free on Christmas morning is a miracle in itself. It was hilarious, as the fog was swirling about the patio, and there was the BBQ roaring away. Certainly amusing for my friends in the southern hemisphere! The table was groaning with all the wonderful food....Cheryl is an amazing cook, and I "supervised" from a chair in the corner. Really, she would not let me do a thing, and there I sat, just keeping a running commentary going while she worked. She said having someone to chat to was all she needed.

And I can heartily recommend Nigella's recipe for ham cooked in cherry coke. I know it sounds revolting, but it has to be tasted. Absolutely wonderful. (If you havbe not discovered Nigella Lawson's cookbooks yet, you are in for a real treat!)

I do believe that the most strenuous thing we did during the week was take a gentle stroll up the road through the village one evening. Hmm. Yes, that would be serious exercise. Scrabble in front of the fire, next to the chocolates of course, and mind-numbingly awful tv to watch, and huge comfortable couches, and more cake, more wine, more damson gin, rumpot, laughter and conversation, the lot. See.... I told you it was perfect. The boys disappeared into the loft to play the new computer games, and watch their DVDs, and only emerged when they ran out of chocolate. And I have to admit that there were mornings when I only crawled out of bed at 10.30. Ish. Maybe later. In time for lunch anyway! I was spoilt rotten. It was good.

The fog didn't lift until yesterday, so I am glad I took those photos the day we arrived. And yesterday brought howling gales and rain too, so the drive home was difficult until we got south into England. The wind was unbelievable, and we stopped a couple of times to rest as my arms were aching from the strain of holding the car on the road. Not pleasant driving conditions at all. I love driving, but this was different.

David flew in the front door, and immediately opened all his forgotten presents. It was actually really nice, as, for a short while, my living room looked like Christmas, with paper all over the place, and a happy son grinning. Cheryl and Robin had thoroughly spoilt us anyway, and he did not lack presents to open on Christmas morning!

I spoke to both my older children on Christmas day, and they were having a good time with family or friends. And to Mum and Marge in Switzerland as well. So many different traditions, and different places and experiences. But the most important thing is that we all made it through the first big hurdle, and celebrated the birth of Jesus with joy and thanksgiving, with people who are special to us.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Stupid computer. Or stupid blogger.

Shriek................ here I am on a strange computer and I post something which I can see but no-one else can. I am abandoning all and am off to taste the damson gin. Again.

Merry Christmas!

Bonnie Scotland

Hello all.... we are here in Scotland, after crawling north through the abominable fog that disrupted the nation's travel plans. Complete with all the vital essentials, except for every one of David's presents. I forgot them at home. How bad a mother is that. The worst thing is that he thinks it is funny. I do not. I am appalled at myself. Oh well. He will have 2 Christmas present opening thingys.

We spent 2 nights with Ros and family outside Glasgow, and that included a dash into the city to get a couple of presents, and then headed east to Cheryl and Robin. These are views taken from their home. Absolutely stunning. Today the fog has caught up with us, and you can't see a thing, so I am glad I ventured out yesterday. That is Loch Leven, by the way.

I appear to have trapped a nerve in my back, which is not convenient at all. I do not recommend sneezing either. Not good at all. But the turkey is being brined, the damson gin is wonderful. The brussels are peeled, and the ham is being glazed. Now if I could just cease resembling a 170 year old crone, life would be just peachy.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Two more days to go

The last few days of school before the holidays....... Trying to get the kids to work is almost impossible at this time of the year, so work today was somwhat challenging. Emotions seem to be running high with some of the teenagers, but then Christmas is never an easy time for troubled people, is it. One more full day of classes left and then holiday time. Quite a few of the staff are leaving now, and so who knows what the new year will bring. More challenges, without a doubt!

After work, I had a meeting re the next stage of the hospital saga, and then went to visit the babes, and view their tree. Excitement levels in their home are rising by the minute! And Bekah showed me the most amazing drawing she did of Chinese New Year, which has been put on the front of the school calendar. The child is only 5 and is clearly an artistic genius, I feel. Not that I am biased or anything of course!

And happily, I can report that the last things have been posted for Christmas. I am an optimist. They can get there in time. I hope.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

3rd Sunday in Advent

Here is Marge's tree in her lounge. (see the post below this one)

This one is of the tree in the entrance hall. She has 3 trees, and they are all beautiful. Even her doll's house has the Christmas decorations up, and a lit tree in front of it.

Here is another view from her house. Just before I left, there were children playing in the snow on that field, and Marge said they looked just like the village scene she had built across the units in her lounge of lit cottages. Amazing.

And here are my 2 sons with my daughter-in-law. David is grinning as he was standing on tip-toes, to appear even taller. It is a great bone of contention that he towers over his older brother, who is about 6ft anyway! Strangely, my tree looks huge when I look at it, and here it is completely hidden by my children.

I love this photo.

And my daughter, in New Zealand. Just because she is on the other side of the world that does not mean she does not get to feature here too! (more double negatives, but I know what I mean. I am tired.....)

I have great kids.

An unusual weekend

Grrrrrrrrrrr..... I had just finished doing a post and the internet explorer thingy decided to close so I LOST it. I am not happy. Here we go again........

Popping over to Switzerland for the day is not something I would recommend. For longer, yes, of course, but a day?? Maybe not.

However, just look how lovely it is. It was the Engelberg leg of the World Cup ski jumping competition this weekend, so there were thousands there for it, and we had a bird's eye view from my sister's home.

I got a little closer to the action than I had anticipated when their dog, Naxos, ran away from friends who were walking him, and we all barrelled out of the house to go and find him. He was retrieved, I am happy to say, and arrived home quite pleased with himself.

The day started very early, with Louise fetching Mum and me at 4am to take us to the airport. Thank heavens we were early, and got through relatively fast, as the queues for check in and security were taking an hour each within 15 mins of our arrival, and the flight was delayed as half the passengers were caught in the chaos. So we arrived late, missed the train I wanted to catch, and had an extra hour in Basel, which we spent having coffee and croissants in a lovely warm cafe. Then on to Luzern, where Alex met us, and took us up the mountain to Engelberg, and my sister. Mum was so relieved to get there. There was more snow than I thought there would be, and and it really is such a beautiful alpine village.

I had 2 and a half hours to soak in the scenery, drink 2 cups of coffee, and then it was off to the station to get the train down the mountain, and make my way back to Basel and the plane. Marge's home is very Christmassy, and it is absolutely lovely. Here is a photo for you to see part of it. No, Blogger is refusing to load the photos. I will do another post then and add them there.

The flight home (it takes about 1hr 20mins) was early, and a friend fetched me. Everything was going smoothly until we tried to get back on the motorway to drive the 40 mins home. Hah. The slip road was closed for roadworks. So we followed the diversion signs, and headed south. Through the roadworks. To the next junction. Oh no. That slip road was also closed so we went south again, and saw the endless queues of traffic and decided to keep heading in the opposite direction to the way we need to go to the M25, and round to the A1, and up home. It took 2 and a half hours. I got home at 1am. My friend was a saint. And very tired too!

But Mum is now with Marge for the Christmas season, and I got there and back safely. Andrew and Ann arrived for the weekend yesterday, and took David to see Glynis in hospital, and then to Casino Royale, which they all thoroughly enjoyed. It was lovely to have them all here today, and this morning, they brought me tea in bed, and all camped out on it to chat. Now that is the best part of Christmas for me.

So tomorrow it is off to work again, and more meetings, and I must post my cards, and drop the local ones. And the list seems to grow daily. The washing machine is whirring, and so is the dryer, and I think the house is under control for now. Peter is back from South Africa with Matt, and so relieved to see Glynis for himself. 2 and a half more days of school and then it is holiday time. At last!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thursday thoughts

The week is flying by. Maybe you have noticed this too. How come time speeds up so much as you get older? Christmas is coming, and I may have a twinkling tree, but no time to sit and enjoy any of it yet. Finally I have got the next few days sorted. I am taking Mum to Marge on Saturday, I get 3 hours in Switzerland, and then fly home in the evening. Andrew and Ann will be here for the weekend, and I will see them for Sunday at least. Glynis is on the mend, and should be home soon, and Katherine is arriving back tomorrow evening.

Tomorrow........ letting the dogs out early, more phone calls to make, then work, collecting currency, home to get Mum to take her shopping to get the last few things she needs, visiting Glynis, feeding dogs, cooking, taking David to youth club, collecting Katherine, packing, washing hair, and maybe a few hours of sleep before we leave at 4am for the airport. I lead such a calm and unhurried life. Boring, in fact. Uneventful. What did you do yesterday? Oh I went to Switzerland. Of course. For coffee.

And remember how smug I was about my presents being wrapped in September? Oh yes. I was ahead of myself. Well, some of the labels have fallen off, and now I have no idea who the assorted presents are for. And although I got the few things I still needed, they have yet to be wrapped, and I will have to sort out everything again. And I only did my cards yesterday, and I have yet to post any. Not to mention the parcels I have not posted. I operate on the assumption that "final posting dates" do not apply to me. I have the idea that if I leave it really late, then my parcels will be the only ones on the plane so will get special treatment, and arrive in style. And the postmen will be bored with little to deliver, so will delight in taking my parcels to the addressee. Yes, well. I will see.

The parcels I wrapped still have to be delivered, and so do the local cards. Here in the village, we all walk around hand-delivering ours. Or drive, in my case, usually with my son doing the running back and forth with the cards. It all takes time. And time is what I am running out of.

I could hear tomorrow exactly what I will be doing at work. Intriguing, but a little frustrating waiting for them to make up their minds. I still thoroughly enjoy what I am doing and that is good. So here are the 5 things am thankful for today:
  1. Confirmed air tickets
  2. A job I love
  3. Family support
  4. Glynis's recovery
  5. Blogs that inspire me

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Heidi, hilarity and hospitals

Before I say anything....Heidi, I have been trying to comment on your blog and it keeps saying they don't recognise my password, but then mysteriously, I appeared logged on when I went to post this, so I may have left a few messages, or not. But I love your tree and butterflies! Very appropriate.

Today started with a hilarious class. The textile class had a supply teacher. Get this, we were making Christmas cards using fabric, glue etc. The supply teacher was about 26, 6ft 3" of very attractive male, rugby player, in his tracksuit. Turns out he was a PE teacher, who had never seen a textile class (or kids quite like this challenging 14 year old bunch). I do believe he had never used scissors in his life either. Or dreamt of making a card from fabric. I grinned and said..... I think you may need some help. Oh boy. Did he ever. Then the only fabric I could find was black, dull pink or orange. Not good for Christmas cards. I unstuffed a model and showed them how to cut snowmen from wadding (batting in the US), and hacked away at some netting. He looked on in horror. He had no paper out or glue, or pencils. (These kids never bring anything they need to class.) Between retrieving kids who tried to go walkabout, dealing with strange kids who decided to randomly join the class, and discovering that if you start talking loudly in a foreign language, the kids stop their unappealing behavior, we made it through the class. At one stage, they asked for sequins. Well, I said, if someone had not thought fit to toss the entire class supply into the playground, we would have had plenty. The next minute, all the girls had vanished. I found them crawling about the quad outside picking up sequins. I told you it was an interesting job, didn't I. And at least 3 of the 20 cards were vaguely recognisable as Christmas cards. This is good. It could have been 2.

This evening, after fielding dozens of calls re Glynis, I went to see her at the hospital, and she looked much better, though she is still very weak. She is waiting for test results, and has more scheduled for the next few days. I think she will be there for the rest of the week, and thankfully Peter will be back on Sunday. Katherine (her daughter) read her my last post. She was amused.

I still find it very difficult to be in the hospital though. And the worst was when I had to take her to the section where I took Geoff when he was admitted. I had not been there since then, and as I wheeled her along, I really struggled. I saw the place we had to pause for him to catch his breath. The place where his consultant was standing chatting. The desk where I checked him in, and the cubicle where I effectively handed him into their care. It was very very difficult. Once she was settled, I had to go outside for a walk in the cold air. Her cubicle was opposite the one he had. Isn't it strange how things matter. I told her about what I had felt today when I saw her. I am just glad she was so out of it at the time that she could not have seen my face. But I am ok, I hasten to add. These moments will happen.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A little tired.....

Ok, so I never did go to bed last night. I still haven't but believe me, I am on my way now. My friend got worse and at midnight, I took her to hospital, and we only got onto a ward after 5 in the morning, so after going to check her place, and sort dogs, contacting her husband on the other side of the world, and daughter too, there was no point in going to bed. I went to work, and we had yet another exam. I told the little angel that if I fell asleep, he was to prod me with his pencil before I made a complete fool of myself by keeling over onto the floor and causing a memorable diversion. He looked forward to the opportunity with considerable glee, but I stayed awake. I survived. Just. Now I am on my 44th wind I think. Not in the least tired. But Glynis is resting in hospital, having more tests, and much better, and friends are all rallying round the way they always do. I have said more than once that this is a great place to be, and our friends are exceptional.

At this point I will add that at some stage of the very long night, she did say in a whisper.....if you put any of this on your blog you are dead meat, or words to that effect. I would not DREAM of detailing the night. Not would I have dreamt of leaving her there alone. But when she is home and better, all bets are off!

Now I am going to crawl into bed. Night.........

Sunday, December 10, 2006

2nd Sunday in Advent

Hello. I am here. This has been a crazy weekend. Again. I thought I would be sitting in my lounge relaxing right now. Instead I am at a friend's home, looking after her, as she is not well. It is late, and I will probably stay the night, to make sure she is ok.

Today we were up early, as Ros and Martyn were here from Glasgow, and said they would pop in for coffee early. They did, and we did some catching up, before they left to see their parents and deliver parcels. Then Mum, David and I whizzed down to Andrew and Ann in London for lunch, bearing our parcels. We got there in record time, and had a lovely lunch with them, and spent the afternoon chatting and just enjoying all being together. They also put their tree up yesterday so it was all very Christmassy too. Ginny popped round with the most beautiful fruit cake she had made for us, and a basket of spring bulbs as well. Thanks so much Ginny!

Then back in rain and howling gales and traffic from hell to drop David at Liz to help move stuff, and home. The tree looks really lovely, and all the other decorations I am putting up are in place. 2 Mins to put the kettle on, and the phone rang and it was my friend to say she had had a lousy day, please could I feed the dogs. So I came, sorted the hounds, and settled her, and went back home. An hour later, her daughter called me to say she had just spoken to her mum and please could I go back, so here I am. Everything is ok, and she is asleep, so I found the computer and decided to say hello.

I have been sitting in the conservatory thinking. You know, this is a reminder of how I have always been lucky enough to have had the time to be there for my friends when I have been needed. I am the one people called to fix things, or help or sort. Until now. And now I am working, and I can't be there for everyone any more. I am finding this hard. I have been on the phone sorting out people to step in tomorrow if they are needed, but I am the one who usually does this. It should be me. I want it to be me. But I can't be everywhere, and so I am feeling a little displaced. By myself, if you see what I mean. Not in a controlling way, but it feels like I am losing part of who I am. I don't want to not be able to help (and I know all about double negatives!) And I am thinking of all the friends I usually have time to talk to, to listen to and who I have not spoken to in the last 2 weeks. Now I feel more guilty. I don't want anything to be more important than the people who matter to me. They need to come first. So how do I get the balance right? This is going to be a challenge. I need to get it right.

I am also aware that I am so busy at the moment, and have so much going on in my head, that I am shelving the tough stuff. I don't have time to grieve or be sad. And I have a sneaking suspicion that this is not that good. I wish I had just some of the answers. I wish I knew if I was doing the right thing. I just have to trust and keep plodding on.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I promised

Oh yes, I did promise a photo of the Father Christmas that drives all adults crazy, and keeps the babes in a frenzy. Here he is in all his glory. If I had a way to get you to "share" in the demented singing that starts when you walk past, bump the table, touch anything, believe me, you would be sharing. And he rises slowly out of the chimney and starts dancing about, and so do the babes. They came round this afternoon, and did indeed dance. Without pausing for breath. So help me, when we put him on the top of my display cupboard to have tea in peace, he started again for no apparent reason. More dancing and shrieking with delight. He may well find his way back to the loft in a few days.

My tree is up, and I am nearly finished putting up the lights and garlands in the kitchen. It has rafters and skylights, so they look great. And I am happy to report that we have hot water again. Thanks to Jane at work who suggested the fuse might be blown. It was. I fixed it! And the leaves are swept up in the garden and I am now going to doze in front of the TV.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Please note!!!

Beta blogger is not letting me comment on some blogs, so I am just here to say I am checking in, and will keep trying!

Here is a little silver tree, made for me years ago by my friend Lynda, when she first started working with silver. And it is engraved on the back. How special is that!

And this is one of the many many home made decorations I have made over the years, and given away too. When I go to my friends' homes, it is such a lovely warm feeling when I see the things I have made on their trees!

And here is my tree. It is all gold and has a zillion lights on it and a gold star on the top. The kitchen/family room is the brightly coloured part of the house! I have lights and garlands on the rafters, but that you can see when Boomama has her tour. Normally I have a lot more Christmas stuff out all over the house, but not this year. It still looks good though!

Christmas tree treasures

Morning Glory is hosting Christmas tree treasures today, and I had every intention of putting some of mine up for you to see, but MY TREE IS NOT UP. My boxes are not down from the loft. I am a failure.

Tomorrow our tree will go up, so I am going to post more photos then, but for now, I have one photo of my little scene of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus on a donkey with sheep to show you. It is out as I speak, and it is so sweet. I bought it a few years ago in Switzerland, and I just love it. And don't even think about commenting on the dust. That is tomorrow too.

I hope I am not the only one who will be posting after the day. I will just add them to this one, so the linky thing will stay the same. Sorry, Morning Glory!

Update: The tree is up and it looks lovely. Here is a little Swarowski crystal angel, that I got a few years ago. Really special. And with the lights, it shimmers in the tree.

And here is one of my Hummel decoartaions that I just love. My sister and Mum got these when they went to Germany a few years ago.

Blogger won't let me add any more photos. Screech. I will post them with the next one up.


And I lay in bed last night thinking about my memories, and had to add the one when Andrew was about 7 and got a remote controlled boat. His father, grandpa and great-uncle wouldn't let him play with it in the pool until they had "tested" it. That meant until all 12 very large batteries had died. I have that on video! Poor kid was dancing around the 3 men pleading for his turn for ages.

Isn't it great... I had a comment from Colin, one of my childhood friends who used to be at those open evenings at my parents home, and he has great memories of a shared childhood too. They went on into our adulthood, and in turn, the children of those early years brought with them their husbands, wives and children too.

Right, I need to go to work. And so help me, the hot water has ceased. As in there is something wrong with it. I can't cope with that right now. Geoff always fixed those things. Later. I will think about it later.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christmas Memories

MomRN2 is hosting a Christmas Memories day, and I am delighted to join her in her Quiet Corner with some of my own.

My favourite Christmas memory.....

I too have lived for over 50 Christmas celebrations, so there are many wonderful memories. My parents always had an open house on Christmas night, and usually there were about 30 - 50 people who turned up. No-one was ever invited, they just arrived, and the house was overflowing with people, kids in the pool and adults out on the veranda, around the tree, games played and tables groaning with wondeful food. Carols sung together and so much laughter and love. And noise too of course. Wonderful memories. There was always a present for anyone who came, and anyone was welcome. I grew up in the southern hemisphere, so it was the middle of summer, and life was very different then.

I remember how we had to get to church an hour before the 7.30am service on Christmas mornings, just to get a seat, and how there was always the sound of toys throughout the service, which was followed by a second one straight afterwards, and how everyone stayed outside to exchange greetings on Christmas mornings, with 2 congregations mingling. So many hugs and smiles. Walking to my grandparents afterwards for breakfast.

I am trying to think of one particular memory, and I can't. Too many crowd my mind. There was the Christmas when I was expecting David, and Geoff was on an oil tanker that was sinking off the coast, with a salvage team, and so could not be home. He called on Christmas afternoon, and said that he and another officer were bringing the Gemini craft ashore, so the kids and I raced down to the beach to meet him for an hour, and sat on the rocks catching up and showing Daddy presents before he had to go back. What a perfect gift for my children, seeing their Dad unexpectedly. The year our whole family went to my sister in Switzerland for Christmas. In fact, thinking about it, that was the very last time we were all together. Dad and Geoff were alive then, and we had a glorious time in the snow. I must find those photos. Last year, when we celebrated Christmas in Andrew and Ann's new home. Another special memory. More special now that Christmas will be so different without Geoff. Memories of all the people who have joined us to celebrate over the years. All special and so much a part of our lives.

I have been very blessed. I know this is disjointed and not one particular event. I just can't think of one year that stood out. They have all been the best I could have wished for. I have a wonderful family, and wonderful friends. There will be more beautiful memories in the years ahead too.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I am an elf

You will be happy to know that my Christmas Elf Name is Chipper Twinkle Toes. Do not ask. I found that out on one of the bloggy things you can click on. Diana, you are Happy Sugar Socks. You will be delighted to hear that. Chipper Twinkle Toes. Good grief.

Today I came home to a welcome party of the babes and Jackie. What a lovely noisy happy surprise. They raced about the house, happy and having fun, and I flopped in a chair and just loved having them all around. Simon came in search of his family, and has valiantly agreed to check the Christmas tree box in the shed to make QUITE sure that there is no mouse, dead or alive in it before I allow it in the house this weekend. I don't do rodents, as I have said before, and after my close encounter with one in the summer in the shed, and my industrial strength rodent dispatching stuff, I want to be certain it worked. The dispatching stuff. The babes can't wait to see the Santa which emerges from a chimney and dances and sings when you bump the table. They remember it from last year. So does every adult who heard it. It was banished to the kitchen, and still it danced and sang. I did offer to lend it to Jackie, but she said she didn't have any room. Sigh. Don't worry. You will get to see a photo.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


And can I add that the little horror thought I was 65. I clearly need a make-over. Or something.

Exam lectures

Today's highlight was the RE exam. Same little darling. He finished in 10 mins, saying I don't know to all the questions. Hope departed. I discovered that making paper aeroplanes out of unused exam paper is definitely frowned upon. Him not me. He was removed for a stern telling off. I was heard to mutter plaintively that "there is nothing in the handbook about making paper planes being a mortal sin". Hmmm. He had no intention of throwing it. I don't think. Oh well. Oops. While playing noughts and crosses on the scrap paper for 1 hour and 50 mins, we had a whispered discussion about the necessity of being able to have an intelligent conversation when one is older. That means learning something in school. That means listening in class. That means studying for exams. I informed the little cherub that even cooking required English, Maths, Science and Art. He was horrified. Any ideas for the subject of the next lecture after tomorrow's exam???????????

Monday, December 04, 2006

Monday mumblings

Christmas is no nearer happening in my home. I have nothing out yet, and I have good intentions, but not enough hours. Maybe tomorrow.

I have just come back from bookclub, which was excellent, and we managed to discuss where we are going for our 150th meeting in Feb. We are looking at renting a house in the countryside and have every intention of slobbing about in pjs all day with comfy chairs and books and plenty of wine and indulgent food. 10 women together for a weekend. Sounds fun to me. We definitely need a fireplace too.

Mock exams are on the go at school at the moment. That means sitting with individual special needs kids and reading the paper to them, and watching them write their answers. We can't help at all of course, but some of the things they write are imaginitive to say the least. The difference between the X and Y chromosomes is, you will be pleased to know, that the X chromosome has extra bits. The sweetest lad I was with today looked at me in the middle of the maths paper, and said..... maybe I should have listened in class. I grinned. There is hope.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

First Sunday of Advent

Well, the weekend did not go quite as planned, and in a way that was good, but in a way not. Normal in other words. Today we were supposed to go down to London to see Andrew and Ann, but he phoned early to tell us that the boiler had ceased to work, and they were expecting the gas man to arrive, so I suggested we come another time, and they agreed. So I got to stay in bed a little longer and relax with my book. I have just finished reading "The Island", by Victoria Hislop, and I can highly recommend it to you all. It is one of my bookclub books (bookclub is tomorrow and I will amaze the girls yet again, because I have managed to read at least 2 of the books) and it is quite brilliant.

Not going to London was good for another reason too. The weather last night (and all today) was just foul. Torrential rain, gale force winds and hail. Louise and James are stranded on Jura as I speak, because the ferries cannot run. They may be there a while as the weather does not look like improving in the next day or 2 either. So I had a lazy-ish day. I contemplated getting the Christmas decorations down from the loft, but decided to wait. The ladder was wet. It is in the garden. In the rain. And flopping is good. We did light the first Advent candle tonight, though. Now it feels as though Christmas is coming at last. Morning Glory is hosting her Christmas Tree Treasures day on December 8th, so get those special ornaments and your stories ready. I have NO idea how to do the linky thingy, but will give it a go on the 8th.

On Friday, while I was battling the little darlings at work, Mum decided to be helpful, and empty the biggest cupboard in my kitchen. I have been talking about sorting the cupboards for months, I know, but she chose Friday. I came home to 3 inches of counter space available in the kitchen. Hmmm. Anyway, I leapt out of bed yesterday in a manner more suited to a 20 year old, and decided This Was The Day To Conquer The House. So I zapped through the new room downstairs, packing away craft fair things, and throwing stuff into the pile for the tip, and recycling bin. Then did the same with all the things out in the kitchen. All the ancient baking trays are gone. So are the mis-matched cups and saucers. Pot lids (do you also have zillions that belong to nothing?) old frying pans, breadboards etc. Gone. I made an epic trip to the tip, and came back, packed away all the woodwork things, and I now have my kitchen back. After months of alternative use. 5 loads of washing and more tidying, and taking a broom to the cobwebs around the ceiling..... the feather duster thingy is hiding somewhere..... and I was finished in time to watch Strictly Come Dancing, then out to dinner at friends. So you see, I deserved the lazy day. Not that it would not have been great to see A and A of course.

Tonight I have been preparing for house group on Tuesday, and finding papers I need to make calls about in my breaks at school. The calls, and paperwork don't stop just because I have to work. I will have to get out all the medical papers this week too, as the Hospital has to respond to my official complaint by the 12th, and it takes me ages to get back into the medical mode. I need to be ready for the meetings that will follow. Sigh. Oh, and David is walking Humphrey, Glynis and Pete's brown lab for the next 2 weeks, and I am still feeding Louise's cat, so that was another 2 trips on my lazy day as well.

And another book thing........ if any of you have NOT read "If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat" by John Ortberg, then read it now! We are doing it at house group, and it is wonderful.

Friday, December 01, 2006


I lay in bed in a stupour last night, and I thought of endless intelligent and fascinating subjects to blog about. That was yesterday. Today I can't think of a single one. (Note to self: put pen and paper closer to edge of bedside table.) I am flagging after the first week at work. Today was volcano time at school. As in the pressure was released after the good behaviour of the inspection days, and with a high percentage of the staff absent, the kids had a field day. We were crawling by the end of school. I didn't stay for the celebration party, but came home to try to sort things here. I failed. It can all wait till tomorrow. Procrastination is good. has been a good week. I have met super people. I have survived a new experience, learned a lot and have enjoyed most of it too. I just need a few more hours in the day really. I will try to remember those fascinating topics for tomorrow.