Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields

This is the second of Shield's novels I've read - I picked up 'Unless' from the library last year. I really enjoyed that, feeling like I'd found my slightly deeper Anita Shreve. I bought the book from a colleague's husband's friend who had come by a large remainder from an out of business bookshop - I think it cost £2.

The book takes the form of a fictional biography cum family history - following an individual woman from birth to death (literally). I warmed to the central character of Daisy as she seemed in many ways just to be piece of flotsam on the sea of other people's dramas. Her mother died in childbirth and she was given up by her father to be raised by a neighbour woman - who shortly after left her husband and went to live with her son in the big city. When she died Daisy went to live with her father for the first time. She marries but her husband dies by falling from a balcony drunk on their European honeymoon - their marriage was unconsummated. She marries several years later - this time to the son of the woman she was raised by and lived with as a child. When her second husband dies of old age Daisy retires to Florida where she lives out her days playing cards with a group of ladies who call themselves the 'Flowers'.

In many ways the book is very reflective - on the vagaries of life, love and passage of time - but in most cases it is not Daisy reflecting on her own life (not until she is on her death bed) but the others in her life reflecting on her. Shields uses letters and other documents to tell substantial sections of the story placing the reader outside of the narrative.

As I said, I did enjoy the book but I think it may be worth a second read in a few years time to fully appreciate its messages.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Long time no blog

Ok, after my list of threes I though it might also be time for a normal post as its been a little while and a lot has happened.

Last week was my first time as committee secretary at work. Bit stressful but I was so glad when it was over. Minutes have now been approved by the chair and apart from the fact that I was having a flowery language day they seemed to go down alright with him. Just have to wait to see what everyone else says.

Spent three days last week in Brussels. Decided I could quite happily live in that city - manageable size, nice cafe culture, knackered old buildings and tons and tons of chocolate. But I'm not going to bore you with pictures of the Grand Place, Bourse or Palais Royale. These are my two favourite sights:

The event went well - except for the stifling heat and me running around like a headless chicken for two days. I think I only managed to insult one Board member so I don't think that is too bad. Absolutely knackered me and I've spent the last three days in bed. Feeling really guilty about not being at work - and rather shocked that this had such a bad affect on me - really wasn't expecting to feel this terrible. Off to the Docs on Monday to moan and gain sympathy. Tis the life I lead.

3 Things?

Right I've been tagged by adventuring to do this - and then as I read back through her responses I realised that I could well give many of the same answers - oh well..... I'll try to be original but apologies to Jen for stealing her thoughts.

1. Three things that scare me
Being an adult
Having kids/not ever having kids

2. Three people that make me laugh
Eddie Izzard
My Husband
Stephen Fry

3. Three things I hate the most
Being ill
My dad being ill

4. Three things I don't understand
Nietzsche (tried and failed, my only 3rd class mark at Uni)
People drinking and driving
The rules of cricket

5. Three things I'm doing right now
Drinking a cup of coffee
Half watching/listening to an episode of Star Trek: Next Generation
Watching Mr Lyle climb through a big bush (actually now he's walking on the keyboard)

6. Three things I want to do before I die
Be well (continuing the theme)
Have no debt
Get a PhD

7. Three things I can do
Bake fabulous cakes
Have 'inappropriate' conversations very loudly in public without caring
Be a hostess with the most-ess

8. Three ways to describe my personality

9. Three things I can't do
Move at any great speed unaided
Kill Daddy Long Legs

10. Three things I think you should listen to
10,000 Maniacs version of 'Because the Night'
Push (acoustic version) by Moist
One Cool Remove by Shawn Colvin & Mary Chapin Carpenter

11. Three things I'd like to learn
Psycho-sexual counseling
jewelry making

12. Three favourite foods
Divine milk chocolate
Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' Tadkha Dhaal
Marmite sandwiches

13. Three beverages I drink regularly
Starbucks Soy Milk Latte
Fizzy water
Clipper Tea

14. Three shows I watched as a kid
Rent-a-Ghost (when Mum and Dad weren't looking, its the occult you know)
Chronicles of Narnia

15. Three people I'm tagging (to do this)
I'll get back to you on that one.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bag of dreams

I always wondered if it was possible to fall in love with a bag. I've been lusting after a proper work bag for many moons. Now I finally feel I have the job to justify it and love them as I do my everyday tote's from deepening just don't quite cut it on a proper business trip. They do alright as they kind of fit documents in, but they certainly don't seal completely or keep out the elements.

I've been hunting around the web tonight as Husband watches the Champion's League on Sky Sports and I was almost totally convinced that I was going to go down the Radley line. High quality, not too fashionable design so will last..... I then I came across I know they may not quite be to everybody's taste - the logo print a little Louis Vuitton - but I want one, and I want it now. But which one? Business tote, Briefcase or Fashion Tote? All water and stain resistant - and so well designed! And will that mean I need the matching wallet...... I've already picked out a Hidesign briefcase for Husband so I'm thinking mutual present to excuse the lavishness.

Okay, that's enough wittering. I'm generally having a crappola of a weak. Kicked off by a super-horrible migraine on Sunday night - which instead of making me sick seemed to get the other end of my digestive system going. That laid me in bed on Monday due to no sleep and total wooziness. Last two days at work have since been manic - and I think I've managed to piss off most of the people on the new committee that I'm secretary for and that's even before the first meeting.

At least Husband has booked his time off work for his birthday surprise next month. Can't wait as it will be just what we need. Must get on to buying a few birthday presents soon - thank goodness I get paid on Friday!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


If anybody ever tells me that they think travelling internationally for work is glamorous I will smack them round the head with whatever large object is to hand. Just logged my hours on my time sheet for Tuesday and Wednesday - I did two 11 1/2 hour days. All I saw of Paris was the Eiffel tower as we were landing and the inside of a Ministry of Education office block. Still very interesting, great opportunity and the meeting went well. Roll on Brussels in two weeks....

Husband picked me up at the airport (sweetie) and we drove home through heavy rain with me semi-comatose in the passenger seat. Arrived home to find that Tate had missed me so much that he had brought me a wonderful present - a large, dead rat. I suppose a dead rat is better than a live rat, but it still wasn't quite what I had asked for. Did make me realise that there are 'country' rats and 'town' rats. Our local rats in Leeds used to be evil brown/black things with beady eyes. This chap was quite cute with a mottled brown back and white tummy.

Obviously disturbed at my lack of enthusaism for his first offering Tate decided to have another go. At about 4.30am I heard a noise which I can only describe as a cat trying to impersonate an air raid siren. This went on for 2 or 3 minutes and when Husband failed to wake I made my way downstairs. Tate had captured an absoloutely tiny mouse which he was playing with (still alive). I tried to get it from him and a chase around the downstairs ensured with the mouse either in Tate's mouse or close enough that he could grab it again. Anyway, managed to get the poor fella in a box and put him in the front garden - don't hold out much hope for his survival though.

Well, the working day is nearly over so I had better make a move - just hoping there are no more 'presents' when we get home.xx

Monday, September 04, 2006

One wedding down, one to go!

Got back from H&S's wedding at midnight last night - absoloutely knackered.

Sights of the M5:

  • 4 life size plastic cows (4 black and white, one brown and white) on a trailer
  • an 'F' reg perfect condition Nissan micra (that's a whole person able to vote old)

Worth the effort though as it was a lovely day. Very classy. Helen looked stunning - I always forget how mini she is, tiny waist. Same figure as me minus about 2-3stone.... slightly depressing. Best thing about it was catching up with Grace, Becca and their men. Grace and I got rather hyperactive on some kind of vodka based fruit punch and I started talking very loudly about subjects that weren't really for public consumption.

Ben did the man thing and drove us home. We have discovered some 'new' services - ones that Ben had always claimed you couldn't get to from the M1 - Donnington Park. Very shiny and new with a funky integrated Travelodge for those of that persuasion. Had to stop for a 'comfort' break where I managed to pick the only loo with a broken seat. One of the hinges was busted so I kept sliding around - but as I had started... I had to finish.

Totally overwhelmed at work at the moment - can't believe I was ever bored and constantly hunting around for things to do. Still trying to work out some dodgy accountancy practices, running a new management committee, chasing up a new accreditation scheme steering group..... and I'm off to Paris tomorrow to spend 8 hours in a room and not see any of the city - Booooooo!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Multiple Muffkins!

Ok so my first serious post has to be about the cats! Apart from my husband these little chaps have got to be the best thing(s) that has happened to me in ages....

They've been with us about six weeks now and although they've settled in pretty well there are still the odd antics. This weeks' comedy moment involves a toy cat called 'Abbey' that I've had for years - Mum and Dad bought her to keep me company. Abbey was on the bed and Husband thought that 'animating' her might amuse Lyle. To a certain extent it did, as he became extremely agitated as if another cat had invaded his territory this led to fisticuffs with Abbey and then scooting off the bed to hide. Ok, maybe you had to be there.

Tate (ginger) is continuing to regress to kittenhood as he increasingly wants to sit on my lap, lick my arm and make kneading movements with his front poors. He obviously hasn't twigged that this won't get him any milk as my forearm doesn't tend to lactate. At least it shows he's chilled out since the chimney-bath-vet incident.

Everyone else is doing it.....

So I might as well have a go!

Disillusioned by the 'tweenieness' of MySpace and wanting to post rude comment on other people's blogs I decided that it was only right and fair that I set one up of my own. Can't say my life will be worth reporting to the average man/woman/man on the street but maybe my far flung friends will appreciate it.