Saturday, August 26, 2006

Kitty life.

"Okay, so it`s your chair. And? Whatcha gonna do about it?"

Friday, August 25, 2006

Life in general.

Lots of little general updates today.

1)We had the first on site meeting about the repairs, which was a bit dull as it wasn`t really about us, it was for the builders to come and work out a general plan of attack and where they were going to put all their stuff. However I know know the start is scheduled for October and that it`s going to take fourteen weeks. When exactly in October, hmmm? Well, that depends on the sucessful lodging of all the myriad pieces of official paper into the correct legal and office pigeonholes. We`re turning around our pieces of paper as fast as they arrive, but of course there are also our two co roof owners and the dilatory council to worry about. So if the work start at the beginning of October, I`ll be amazed to the point of needing smelling salts. Incidentally I`ve also figured out that whenever in October the work starts, the house will be covered in scaffolding and the kitchen half destroyed at Christmas time. You might think this is a bad thing but oh no, I`m almost pleased. It was going to be my turn to "do" the family Christmas this year, you see. Reprieve!

2)My car is an official insurance write-off, did I say? I`m still driving it around because the garage said it was still safe to do so, but as the work needed was going to cost £2000-3000 and the car is worth about £400 then for the insurance company there`s no contest. I`m waiting for the phone call to tell me when it`s going to be picked up to go to the great scrap yard in the sky. The tax runs out at the end of the month, so basically the car will be no more after then as even if it hasn`t been collected it will be illegal to drive it. Crying shame, because it was the best car we ever owned, a Renault Savanna 2.1 litre turbo diesel seven seater estate. We could load it up with two adults, two kids, three tandems, four bikes, camping gear to the roof, hitch a 600Kg trailer tent on the back and it would still cruise effortlessly despite being nearly 12 years old. (Let`s not talk about hills here though.)
RIP, Savanna. Well never find another one like you. Especially for £400 minus the excess!

3)Mairi`s first week at school has gone well for her, though she`s a bit disgruntled as to why she has to do things exactly when she`s told. The constant comment is "It`s not like nursery!", which is very true as the school nursery was very free-flowing and liberal and let the kids do more or less what they liked by way of activities within a certain framework. She`s an independant soul and not keen on doing things anyone else`s way, as I can testify! However, she`s also very bright, and she`ll work out for herself that it`s easier and more rewarding to cooperate. Gawd help us (the family) at the weekends, though......

4)Haven`t mentioned it much lately, but my health hasn`t improved much since I last posted about the constant and often overwhelming fatigue I`m feeling. Well, it`s been a busy and fraught summer, I suppose, but there`s nothing normal about having to take about every third day off to recuperate especially if I`ve been doing a lot of very physical stuff. I`m only 47, with no obvious signs of anything wrong unless you count the perimenopause as "wrong", which I don`t. I can`t afford to carry on feeling like this, not with Hubby, two kids and two cats to look after, not to mention the house repairs. I do try to eat properly, go to bed at a reasonable hour and get some fresh air and exercise every day but I still end up on the sofa asleep every third afternoon, or I`m dragging myself around all day. Can`t be normal. I`m off to see the doctor again next week.

5)Last but not least, the kittens. Where did they go??? They`re fifteen weeks old on Sunday and to be honest they`re not kittens any more, they`re young cats. They eat every one of their four meals per day like they haven`t seen food for weeks, race around the house playing and fighting each other for hours, sleep anywhere and everywhere and are growing into sleek, beautiful, healthy young cats, just like they should. I do rather regret that the little kitten phase has gone past so quickly but as compensation, they`re also becoming very affectionate. Before they were always to busy or preoccupied with playing to come and sit on or by you to be fussed over, but just recently both of them have started sitting on knees or, in the evening, lying around on the desk while I`m on the PC and evetyone else is asleep our out. They love human company, and can`t abide not being in the thick of things to find out what`s going on.
Incidentally I guessed their personalities 100% right when they arrived. Missy is the boss, the nosey one, Missy Mischief as we call her here. Theo is definately the "little" brother (Though he`s bigger than her now) usually two steps behind and letting her go first. He`s always the one caught standing over whatever mayhem they`ve wreaked though, because he`s not quite sharp enough to scarper from the scene of the crime. But he`s definately the cuddlier of the two and is going to grow into a big milksop of a cat that goes around sniffing daisies for a hobby...that and eating. Oh boy, does he love his food? He`s never two steps behind at dinner time!

(Pix to follow....Blogger is up to the usual again.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Fig Rolls and Caffeine

Well, now the girl has gone to school, the next big milestone is the communal repair we`re having done to the building in which we live. We`ve been trying to get this moving since back in the dawn of prehistory...well, we`ve been living here for eight years now, and the repairs that were obviously due then are still outstanding. Partially the delay was due to Robbie getting ill within a year of us moving can`t do that sort of major works when you`re dealing with a child on chemo and we were the driving force behind wanting to get the repairs done. Then after he died we decided to get moving on the repairs again because water was starting to come through the ceiling, into the then newborn Mairi`s bedroom, eek!

Except one of the shops below us (we live in a double flat over the top of two shops) had changed hands, and the new owner was having nothing to do with roof repairs, communal or otherwise. So the last four years have been spent trying to persuade him to fulfil his legal responsiblity to keep the building in safe and good order. It was only when bits started to fall off our crumbling window mullions into the street that the local Council moved in and did a bit of "persuading" of their own.

So since last January we`ve been ploughing through the paperwork, surveys, permissions, meeting etc etc, and though we are getting there, we`re getting there very slowly. However the contract has been awarded, the relevant sigatures obtained and we are having the first on site planning meeting with the contractors, the surveyors and the Council chap on Friday. Of course, this doesn`t mean we have a start date yet, oh dearie me no.

What are we having done? The roof has to be stripped and renewed, both the slate pitched roof at the front and the flat felt roof at the back. The window lintels, mullions and sills are being removed and replaced. All the outside pipes, from the rhones to the drains, is being redone. The render is being completely refurbished, patched and painted. Stone surrounds to our front doorway and the shop frontage refurbished. Doesn`t sound too bad? Well, this flat alone has 14 windows. The pitched roof is 45 feet long. Our gable end (that`s` OUR gable end, not a communal one) is about 40 feet high Etc. This is a BIG building, and tall. They estimate the scaffolding alone will be up for three months..if (big IF) they don`t find anything nasty when they open up the roof and wall voids, like skulls or bats or dry rot.

And yes, even our share, with grants, is going to cost us one arm, one leg and a mortgage on our souls for all perpetuity. Don`t ask. It makes me feel ill to think about it.

Also someone here had the bright idea that while they were ripping out the window lintels, they might as well get new windows put in to replace the ghastly non-functional 70`s ones here at present. You think it`s impossible to design a window that cuts out 50% of light transmission and provides only 10% of necessary ventilation? Wanna picture? I`ve got 14 of them. So the workmen will have to be inside the house as well, at least for that. And for the huge gaping holes they have to knock through above the windows to replace the lintels, of course. Did I mention that we have 14 windows? They`re going to have to knock a hole through the wall of every single room in the house.

So after, we`ll have to redecorate every single room in the house. So about getting the new boiler and central heating we so badly need before we redecorate? Yup, we`ll do that. Except we need to renew the old 30`s water pipes to take the pressure of the new boiler. And if we have a new boiler installed in the kitchen, then the old kitchen will need remodelled round the boiler. Just as well the workmen will have to take down all the kitchen wall cabinets to put the new mullions in, yup? And of course, the floorboards (and carpets) will have to come up to lay the new central heating pipework, and the old radiators will have to be removed and they`ll leave gaping holes because the new ones aren`t going in the right place.

Other arm, other leg. Redecorate? I`ll be doing that. We won`t have any money left to buy food by then,let alone employ anyone to do it. Hey, I might even get thin for the first time in my life. Usually I need copious quantities of fig rolls and caffeine in the form of strong tea to see me through this sort of thing. I don`t think we can afford enough fig rolls, not if we have to buy paint too..

Today, however, is a dejunking day. Because we don`t have a start date I have all this jittery home improvement adrenaline that needs dissapaited, and what better way than getting rid of some of the junk? Less to move around while the builders are here, and less stuff to scrape dust and stour off afterwards. I have set myself a target of one 80 litre bin bag per day...and I`m achieving this effortlessly. Nearly twenty bags gone in the last week.

(House doesn`t look any tidier though...)

Monday, August 21, 2006

First day at school.

Today the school term started again after the summer holidays here in East Lothian...and for my girl Mairi, aged not quite five, it was her first day at school.

For the non-UK folk amongst you...yes, like the overwhelming majority of schools here, our school requires the children wear school uniform. I`m hugely in favour of school uniform, myself. She was extremely proud of her school dress, let me tell you.

The routine on the first day at our school, anyway, is for mum and/or dad to accompany the child into class, stay for a few minutes to settle the child then leave them and go to the main hall for a cup of tea. The tea is to soothe the parental nerves at their chickie flying the nest, I think! There were quite a lot of tears, from both children and parents.

Mairi doesn`t go in for the clingy routine. She`s been looking forwards to this for months. For her it was more a question of "Right mum, I`m here, now you can go, ok?"

As for myself? Well, this is the third time round for me, so I wasn`t one of the red-eyed parents, no! I`m happy she`s started...she`s a bright girl, loves being busy and the company of other kids and she had a great time in nursery. She`s well ready for school.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Spinning a peacock.

It occurs to me that I`d better blog something about spinning or start calling this blog another name, like Digging Fishwife or Camping Fishwife or even Mother-of-two-on-school-holidays Fishwife, eh? Truth is, not much spinning has been perpetrated since Woolfest, despite all the swag I picked up there. Who`s bright idea was it to put Woolfest on the weekend that our Scottish schools broke up for the summer? I haven`t even got round to blogging about the stuff I bought there, ho hum.

Anyway, the wheels were sitting there looking reproachful and I was getting itchy fingers, so last Wednesday I picked up Old Man Louet and took him out to Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum, where Gourdongirl and I spend a greater portion of our spare time in the cafe, listening to the distant screams of our children rampaging around in the woods.

I thought I might get a quiet hour or so of spinning done, sitting outside the cafe in the sunshine, but not a bit of it. There were a couple of families visiting the museum hoping that they had one of their childrens` craft sessions on. "No", sez Malcolm, one of the museum assistants, "But one of the mums has her spinning wheel here and would be delighted to give you a demonstration." Sigh. Thanks, Malcolm! (He`s actually a really nice guy, and felts. You can forgive anything in a guy who opened his first felting exhibition last weekend, no?)

So instead of my quiet afternoon spinning, I ended up giving a demo and letting several pre-teen girls have a try at spinning instead. Fortunately I had brought the Louet, because it can stand up to this sort of abuse. And there`s always odds and ends of roving and a spare bobbin or two in the bottom of the spinning bag. I`ve never taken a wheel out in public and not had someone wanting to try spinning, come to think of it.

I did get a little bit done at the end, though. I started this yarn back in June (eek!!) when I was demonstrating "fancy yarn" spinning at the Edinburgh Guild Open Day. I`d decided to try to create something that would catch your eye if you saw it in a wool shop, so it had to have a bit of glitz and colour. Back at SkipNorth in Feburary we had gone to Wingham Wool Work, where they had an entire shed that contained nothing but huge coils of pre-dyed rovings. It was like a sweetie shop! I went around with several bags making up mixtures of coulours that I meantally labelled "Peacock" and "Indian Spices" etc etc, and the yarn I`m spinning at the moment is from the peacock bag.

Basically I`ve been lightly carding together six colours of pre-dyed roving (royal blue, lime green, emerald green, turquoise, jade and purple) plus some cut sari silk threads in purple, turquoise and emerald, plus some fine gold angelina fibre for the glitz.

Making rolags...

...and spinning singles. This is the second bobbin.

When plied, it`s going to come out as a lightweight DK or four ply...3.25 to 3.75 mm needles, probably.

No idea what I`m going to make with it, though. I`ll wait till I know the total yardage, though given the size of the Louet bobbins, I`ll probably have about 300 yards. Any suggestions?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Book destash.

I`ve been having a bit of a tidy up and clear out of the stash, and found a lot of old knitting books (dating from around the 80`s)that are surplus to requirements. Anyone want any of them? Happy to swap for anything knitting or spinning related, just to cover the postage charges. Send me an email (Link on profile) if you want anything.

(Click on the pix for a bigger view. Hopefully all the titles are fully legible, otherwise I`ll add a list when I have five spare minutes.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sheep Challenge.

Woolywormhead is asking for pix of sheep. No, not real sheep, but...erm, alternative sheep. "Daft, imaginary or artificial sheep."

Okay, here`s a few that just happen to be lying around my desk...

Pencil case sheep, bought last night from Asda, £1. (And I got one for you already, Shonze, so don`t rush out specially....)

A rainbow of Fimo sheep, as bought from Ebay last year from a seller called weegreenfrog.....

Weegreenfrog also made my daughter a special bespoke pink Fimo sheep, after Mairi complained about there being no pink sheep in the rainbow. (Sent it to her as a gift as well. Nice lady!)

(My fingernail included for scale. Sorry it`s so grubby...I was gardening today.)

In my next life...

In my next life I want to come back as one of my cats.....

Nothing to do but lie around sleeping, eat tinned sardines (note the little fat tummy on that cat...she likes sardines), sleep, preen, sleep and play. Tough life, eh?

We didn`t go to Wales. Did I mention that someone hit my completely legally parked car the week before we planned to go? She hit the corner of the driver`s side bumper, right on the place where three panels join. Not hard, but just enough to dislodge the rust a bit. All three panels need replaced, and currently the bumper is tied on. The garage told me that it would be all right for local trips, but not a six hour drive to Wales.

So, after a major kerfuffle getting the big bike racks (for the tandems/triplet tandems) moved over to Hubby`s Citreon, we set out on Wednesday for Wales, with a full camping load, trailer tent and five bikes. The sort of load my Renault sneers at pulling. The 1.9 litre diesel Citreon Xantia? We got three miles down the road and red lights started flashing everywhere. The fancy hydraulic suspension wasn`t going to make it, Captain.

So we did the only thing possible in the circumstances...went home, cancelled the Welsh campsite, hooked up the trailer tent to the Renault and went to Peebles in the Scottish Borders instead, 25 miles away. Wales, Jim, but not as we know it. The kids didn`t care anyway, it was a great campsite, lots of things to see and do and we had a lovely ten days there instead. And I certainly didn`t miss the six hour drive to Wales and back. Was a shame Hubby missed seeing his pal Huw though. He was upset about that.

I did miss going to Colinette though! I went round Woolfest determinely ignoring all the Colinette because I thought I was going to vist their millshop when in Wales, bah!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Gone to.....

I`m off to Wales
today, for a couple of weeks of camping and to look at the sheep. The fleece for Huw the Sheep came from a sheep on a farm not three miles from the campsite. So who knows...I might see him.

There has been a bit of doubt as to whether this holiday was going to happen...over the last week we have had an attempted break in, a heatwave (In Scotland??????), Hubby has been snowed under at work, the kittens have arrived and, crucially, my car was hit by a dozy female muppet while she was attempting to park twenty feet in front of mine. Looks like it`s going to be an insurance write-off, and of course it was the tow car for the trailer tent, eek! so on Saturday there was a mad scramble to get Hubby`s car fixed up with towball and bike racks etc. (Whether it can actually get that far while towing 600Kg of trailer tent is another thought. Will let you know.)

So apologies to my lack of blogging. I have been harrassed! Also many apologies to Sue..I didn`t get back to you about Colinette because (1) I didn`t know till yesterday if we were going to Wales at all (2) We may not be staying the two weeks planned because of Hubby`s work so (3) I have no flip of an idea as to whether I`ll get to Colinette or not, so didn`t want to arrange something and then have it fall through.

Off to jam everything in the car. Did I mention the boot of Hubby`s car is considerably smaller than that of my my Renault, so I can`t take the little spinning wheel? Baaaaaaah!