j4: (orange)
So over the last couple of days I've been thinking about "having it all".

a busy few days, recounted at tedious length )

The thing is... I've pretty much always lived like this. The only difference is that now there's a child in the mix as well. I have always ended up cycling frantically to and from home, work, meetings, pubs, the station, choir rehearsals/concerts, orchestra rehearsals/concerts, whatever. It's always been an endless game of fox/goose/grain with different modes of transport and assorted instruments/laptops/luggage/shoes/clothes/partners. I had to slow down a bit when I was off on maternity leave (I took a long time to get usefully mobile/functional again, I couldn't cycle with Img, and I wasn't going to work), but otherwise basically I've been "trying to have it all" for the last 20 years or so. Even more so when I was going out with Owen and he still lived in London, so we were trying to live together 90 miles apart and go to every gig/concert/film/party available and each hold down a full-time job. Why is "having it all" only used to apply to a woman trying to look after a child and does a not-working-from-home job? Why not anybody who has, say, a job and a time-consuming hobby and a long-distance partner and a garden to look after and... you know, all the kinds of things that people do whether or not they have children? And yes, I know the answer to that "why not" is "because patriarchy", and because if you're looking after children you're supposed to (or at least supposed to want to) do that 24/7 and never do anything else except [vague handwave] child things ... but, well, it's still silly. So let's stop saying it. PROBLEM SOLVED!

(I have a separate rant about the phrase "work/life balance" and the implied idea that your work is not ACTUALLY PART OF YOUR LIFE, but that will have to wait for another time.)
j4: (badgers)
I took Friday and Monday off work with no more concrete plans than "catch up on sleep and chill out a bit". so how did that work out? )

Every time I take a couple of days off like this I'm reminded how much easier it would be to keep all the 'life admin' tasks under control if I didn't have to go to work, and how I wouldn't actually get bored because I still do plenty of other stuff (and would be able to commit to doing more). This is either a very good time or a very bad time to be thinking "what would I do if I didn't go to work?" -- on the one hand I am intending to go back to work after maternity leave (and will have to go back for at least 3 months otherwise I'd have to pay back all the maternity pay!), but on the other hand, am I just doing that because I feel I have to? Financially I'd have to do some kind of work, but there's nothing that says I have to spend the next 30 years doing what I'm doing now. I'm not going to go into detail about this now because it's late and I'm tired (and anyway I think it would be foolish to try to make too firm a decision before seeing what it's really like for me spending at least 9 months off work), but it has made me think about the extent to which I'm defining myself by my work (or by the fact that I go to work), and whether I'm doing what I want to do or what I think I ought to do, and it's probably good to be forced to think those things a bit more clearly. Otherwise, you know, I might wake up in 30 years' time and think "is that what I wanted to do with my life?" and by then it'll be a bit too late to change anything.

The subject line of this post, by the way, refers to a game I used to play with my best friend Kerry when we were about 4 or 5. I had a toy farm with lots of different animals (including some things that were from a 'zoo' set, so the 'farm' had elephants and a panda and a walrus and all sorts of other miscellaneous animals), and in our game, the animals would all ESCAPE! Oh noes! So we'd round them up and make them go back into the farm, and then we'd shout "STAY THERE FOR DAYS!" at them to make sure they stayed put. But then they'd ESCAPE again! ... and thus the whole sorry cycle would repeat itself. For hours on end. Would it be cynical of me to try to relate this to the experience of work in some way? Probably.
j4: (knitting)
This is not the thing I was going to post about today, but just for the record, I have had a productive day. I'm writing this down because it feels like I haven't had very many of those for a Very Long Time. Today I have:

* got lots of work done, including a) making inroads on some very boring documentation that I've been procrastinating about, and b) writing a perl script that I've been meaning to write for about 3 years (to do a tedious bit of testing/admin that I have to keep doing badly by hand, so now a) I can do it better and b) I can let someone else do it)

* been to an Oxford Cycle Workshop seminar about safe cycling (which was jolly good, and I wish it was compulsory for anybody who's planning to ride a bike on the roads, & I may write about that separately too)

done some other smallish admin/household things )

This burst of energy coincides with ACTUAL MOVEMENT INSIDE from the little alien baby (sorry but it still does look like an alien to me on the scans). Yes, it appears that what I need to stop me procrastinating about stuff is for someone to kick me from the inside.
j4: (badgers)
I was hoping to get further than day 6 before dropping the ball, but yes, I totally forgot to post anything yesterday. We went to the shops (took some books to Oxfam, bought food for us & food for the birds), had friends round for tea & biscuits (& sparklers in the garden!), then went out for dinner with them (the friends, not the biscuits or sparklers). That's more going-out and socialising and walking-around than I've done for weeks, & was a very welcome change from hiding under a rock (though I kind of wish I could hide under a rock a bit today instead of having to go out & meet people for lunch & go into town & do more stuff). When we got back I had a bath, & nearly fell asleep over the Guardian crossword (finished it this morning). Exciting life. I don't even remember thinking "I should have posted something on LJ", even when I woke up in the middle of the night (as I always do now). Normally that's when the should-haves come and ambush me. Perhaps I was actually too tired to worry about them.

I realise this is now sort of cheating on today's entry. Will try to post some real content later today instead of what-I-did-at-the-weekend.
j4: (badgers)
Today my mum took me and [livejournal.com profile] addedentry to a garden centre and bought us an apple tree (a Worcester Pearmain), as well as some other smaller tasty plants (tomatoes, peppers, and blueberry bushes). Digging a hole big enough for even such a tiny tree takes a surprising amount of time and effort. We also planted the hazel sapling from my parents' garden; meanwhile, the hawthorn saplings [livejournal.com profile] cleanskies gave us are flourishing. We are literally putting down roots here.

The eventual plan for the garden is that everything should be edible; the main exceptions at the moment are the daffodils, crocuses, and rather lurid primulas which we planted hastily to stop the garden looking quite so much like a post-apocalyptic wasteland (it worked!), though our definition of 'edible' includes anything Richard Mabey thinks you can eat, which allows quite a lot of leeway.

The best thing about the garden, though, is that we have a BADGER! OK, we've only actually seen it in next door's garden, not ours (we've seen a fox and a hedgehog in ours, though) but given the mess it's made of theirs I'm quite happy with that. I tried to get a photo but you can only really tell it's a badger if you already know. But, really, an ACTUAL LIVE BADGER!

We've definitely made more progress with the garden than with the house; while the garden's growing, the house is falling down. OK, that's a slight exaggeration: it's suffering from a small amount of subsidence, which has caused cracks to appear all over the place. The buildings insurance people think this is a) probably due to defective drains (as opposed to, say, tunnelling badgers), and b) probably not covered by our insurance because we were sort of warned that it was a possibility in the survey. It has taken them weeks and weeks to do anything, and we're still waiting for the results of the investigation of the drains. I was horribly worried about it at first, and it certainly added to the general hiding-under-a-rock stress; but you can't sustain that level of worry for this long, and the house hasn't actually fallen down, so now I am just wishing they would hurry up and tell us how much it will cost.

The subsidence does mean that pretty much everything else to do with the inside of the house is suffering from planning blight, though; realistically, we weren't going to have redecorated everything by now (my parents still haven't redecorated everything in their house, and they've lived there for 24 years now), but we were hoping to get started on sorting out the kitchen. We still don't have an oven, but it's not a big deal. Maybe we don't need an oven after all (at least two people now have said we should get a Remoska instead). It would feel slightly odd making a deliberate choice not to have an oven, to get the kitchen refitted without leaving room for one; but probably no odder than it would feel to a lot of people not to have a TV.

On the other hand, not having a TV doesn't really mean it's impossible to watch TV; it's just impossible to watch it live. We watched the whole first series of Glee (if you don't know what Glee is -- and given that I don't often watch TV, I don't take it for granted that everybody knows about every TV show -- then the Wikipedia entry will explain with no spoilers above the fold) suffering the indignity of being a week behind the rest of the UK because 4OD didn't release the episodes until they'd shown the repeat. Episodes! Repeats! Things I hadn't thought about at all since I last watched TV regularly, back in the late 1990s. I tried to persuade [livejournal.com profile] addedentry to do the bittorrent thing so we could get the next episodes quicker, but he wouldn't, and I don't know how (honestly! I've just never done it). We also watched the first episode of the new Dr Who (it is probably internet heresy to say that I don't really get Dr Who, but, well) despite nearly being put off by the utterly rubbish bit with the food at the beginning.

There's lots of other things I want to write about but I don't really know where to start, and more and more I feel as though LiveJournal isn't really the place to write about them, because I feel like I don't know anybody here very well any more. I don't have real conversations with very many people any more at all, and that's my fault for not being good at keeping up friendships, but it still feels like I've retreated into a dark empty room somehow and I don't quite know how to come back to the party, because everything is elsewhere, and I'm not totally sure that it wouldn't be better just to slip away home in the dark without another word.
j4: (badgers)
Hey, I totally wasn't going to do the diary thing this month because I don't think that counts as Proper Blogging, but I had to get up ridiculously early this morning to get the 7:53 train to London for an excellent Perl course (with added badgers), got back to Oxford in time for another great Oxford Geek Night at the Jericho Tavern, drank some very tasty raspberry beer, and now am really far too tired to blog coherently about anything. Also, I wrote a Wordpress blog post (for one of the other blogs) on the iPhone on the train home, saved it as a local draft, decided I'd be better off uploading it and tried to save it as a full draft, at which point the Wordpress app threw up its hands, showed the spinning wheel of death for a bit, then crashed. Guess where my post ended up? No, I don't know either, but it's not on wordpress.com and it's not on the iPhone. :-( Also, one of our fence-panels got torn off one of our fence-posts, presumably in last night's tempestuous winds (which kept me awake when I was trying to get to sleep in preparation for getting up early); can be fixed, but it'll take more time, more faff, more money.

So, I have a massive list of things I haven't done, minor guilt about things I have done, and general worries about the two sets of things; but I'm feeling enthusiastic about Perl, happy to be in our house even though the fence is falling down, and incredibly positive about the prospect of going to sleep within the next 20 minutes. Good night. :-)

Post hoc

Oct. 7th, 2009 10:48 pm
j4: (hair)
You may have noticed that the attempt to post something every day has gone the same way as pretty much everything else this month, viz., the way of EPIC FAIL.

Work continues mostly stressful and unhappy for reasons which are mostly completely outwith my control; the weather has gone all drizzly and miserable; choir has become less of a respite from work-style stress because of personality clashes; I keep getting bitten by nasty insects; and now the boiler has just packed in, leaking all over the kitchen floor (thankfully before we started getting a new kitchen fitted).

þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg.

To try to offset the fail, a short list of positive things:

* the Installation of the new Vice-Chancellor yesterday was interesting, and a good chance to swan (jackdaw?) around in a borrowed gown
* I have pulled up about a million miles of deeply-embedded nettle roots from something that may one day be a flower-bed in our garden
* Warneford Meadow Apple Day one weekend, and Wolvercote Community Orchard's Apple Day the next, have together allowed us to sample a lot of tasty apples and local produce (it is amusing that "produce" nearly always means jam and cake rather than, say, soup, or bread).
* We have discovered that Tesco on Cowley Road do an incredible range of interesting Polish and Jamaican foods. Salt fish! Apple mint juice! Weird biscuity things! Tasty snack! ([livejournal.com profile] addedentry vetoed the gigantic jar of sauerkraut, sadly.)
* It is lovely having a piano in the house and being able to play it while knowing that there is nobody behind the adjoining wall who might be tutting and objecting to the noise (I am competent enough that it's mostly fairly tuneful noise, but the music might not be to everybody's taste).
* Friends and kittens are a great comfort.

Listing

Nov. 20th, 2008 11:09 pm
j4: (hair)
Not a poem, just a list.

Morning gloom.
Stomach hurts.
Team meeting:
interesting plans.
Phone calls.
Email backlog.
IRC messaging.
Shopping trip:
cycle ride,
bought stuff.
Quick lunch.
Committee meeting:
long debates.
Brief chat.
Dark already.
Volunteer shift:
book shuffling.
Crazy people.
Cycle ride,
home again.
Baking time:
burnt gingerbread.
Stomach hurts.
Throat hurts.
Evening gloom.
Pointless blog.
Bed time.
j4: (badgers)
Today I have: managed to book Glasto tickets for me and my mum and EIGHT other people despite EPIC FAIL on the part of seetickets (amazingly there are STILL TICKETS LEFT after several HOURS); tidied the house (a bit); sorted out some stuff to go to charity shops; filed all the boring admin BORING BORING BORING; helped Owen pair A MILLION AND ONE socks (he is very good at pairing my infinite supply of black socks, but we still ended up with about 7 really-definitely-odd ones); played piano (probably pissing off the new neighbours with incompetently-played Rachmaninov preludes); listened to Owen's piano practice (recognisable tunes with BOTH HANDS AT ONCE! did I learn that fast? I wish I could remember); identified all the tasks that we need to do for planning our w*dd*ng (and even made some Decisions, amazingly); made tasty roast chicken (I say 'made', but really, all you do is shove half a lemon up its arse and put it in the oven for an hour and a half, and the 'tasty' owed more to evolution than to the lemon) and tastier plum tart (which I actually did make); and replied to a couple of emails (though the backlog is still doomful).

Today I have not: done the work I was going to do this weekend; got any further with any of the on-the-go knitting projects; written up the EIGHT PAGES OF RANT triggered by the mini-conference I went to on Thursday; read any more of Ulysses.
j4: (badgers)
We had plans to go away at Easter but a combination of disorganisation and weather meant that in the end we mostly just hid under a rock. On the plus side it's now much tidier under the rock: making this metaphor work for its money, the woodlice have been evicted, the lichen have been watered, and you can see the glinty streaks of quartz shining through. In real terms this means we got some stuff sorted out )

[livejournal.com profile] addedentry and I didn't buy each other loads of chocolate for Easter, partly because we still have so much chocolate from Christmas (!); but he surprised & delighted me by having baked me some Easter biscuits, which were so tasty I decided not to take them into work today so I didn't have to even consider sharing them with anybody except Owen, OMNOMNOM. :-) And I did roast pork with all the whatnots on Sunday, which was very tasty if I do say so myself, and then made the leftovers of it into some kind of casserole-kind-of-thing yesterday (fry sadly-not-crackling-but-very-garlicky pork fat and a red onion, add rest of leftover pork, add carrots and parsnips and mushrooms and a pint of stock and a couple of glasses of red wine, leave simmering for ages while fettling Ubuntu, stick the leftover yorkies on top for a few minutes at the end) which was also pretty tasty. ALSO also, Warburton's hot cross bun loaf for the win! Exactly like hot cross buns but easier to stick in the toaster, and very tasty with home-made marmalade.

And despite all the vegging out and eating and drinking over the weekend I still managed to run 5 miles today. My new sports socks are the business (and the shorts from the same place are also so comfy I bought a second pair). I am also grateful for the ongoing support of Shock Absorber [warning! site features JIGGLY BREASTS, eventually!].
j4: (badgers)
SO UNBELIEVABLY TIRED. But how am I supposed to do all the things I want to do if I have to sleep as well? Yes, yes, I know.

Things I have done this evening )
j4: (badgers)
Hello! I'm not dead. But I do seem to have lost my LiveJournal mojo a bit. I have plans for Strategies for sorting this out. But for now, as an example of the way my exciting life is pottering along, this weekend (starting from Friday night) I have:

- been to a gig (Daedelus, at the Luminaire in Kilburn; review to follow...)
- been to a play (of sorts: "Potted Potter", all the Harry Potter books in 60 minutes; review to follow for that, too, hopefully...)
- nearly scored a goal in Quidditch as part of the above :-)
- met up with [livejournal.com profile] smallbeds and [livejournal.com profile] rgl for a coffee
- played Boggle in the Far From The Madding Crowd
- written some perl (for work)
- finished reading two books
- sorted out a stack of documentation, mostly car-related
- tried to register for an OU course in digital photography (need to phone them tomorrow, their online registration is rubbish)
- got all my personal email inboxes down to under 100 (but not my work one)
- emailed one friend and phoned another, both of whom been meaning to phone/email for about 2 months
- fixed my mac laptop (which had decided it didn't want to have a Bluetooth thingy any more)
- got my mac to sync with my phone at last
- phoned my parents
- catalogued some more of our books on LibraryThing

I rather feel as though I'm always busy and never actually getting very much done. I also feel as though I'm losing touch with people a lot, though I'm delighted that so many more people are on Facebook now -- I do find it a good way of keeping people on my radar. So this is a sort of LJ keeping-in-touch amnesty: if you feel neglected or not-kept-in-touch-with or you just want a reply to something, please comment here, and I promise I will reply to your comment.
j4: (badgers)
Yes, hello, I have been hiding under a rock for a while. In lieu of tedious diaryism, here are some things I have done for the first time in the last couple of weeks:

Installed Ubuntu. What feels like several hundred times, though I've actually only done two installs, and the rest has been booting live CDs/DVDs, and CD images in virtual machines, testing boot times. ... I have now been in the new job for two and a half weeks, and I've got so little done, and my colleagues are all cool and interesting and frighteningly clever, and I sometimes feel like they must have hired me out of pity.

Walked to the top of Boar's Hill to see the dreaming spires. Okay, we only walked from Wootton, but still. And you can't see the spires unless you're nine feet tall and have a telephoto lens the length of a telegraph pole. I am five foot one and a bit and have a point-and-click Canon Ixus, and got a photo of my feet, though that was deliberate. There is a thing you can stand on, which you're not meant to stand on. I will post photos. ("The photos are in the next post" is the LJ equivalent of "The cheque's in the post".) We saw llamas mating on the way back down the hill. I won't post photos of that, don't worry.

Tried to fix my grandad's hair... in Second Life. He's inspired by the whole idea, and currently determined to build a virtual Switzerland, and to recreate the voyage of the Titanic. We had trouble getting the "dignified" look he wanted for his hair. He turned 80 last year.

Bought a computer on eBay. It doesn't have a hard drive. I may have to buy another one. Or a hard drive. Or both. I'm hedging my bets.

Executive summary in pictures: [Ubuntu | Standing on maps | Scary llama ]
j4: (hair)
Today got off to a good start with the discovery that [livejournal.com profile] addedentry and I were one of the runners-up in the LibraryThing Book Pile Bonanza photo contest, and that the photo has been favourited on Flickr by the most famous librarian on the interwub. Squee! I have added "being a library groupie" to my LJ interests list to celebrate these little successes.

In sillier photo news, I've recently been quite disproportionately amused by [livejournal.com profile] cat_macros, to the extent of persuading [livejournal.com profile] brrm and [livejournal.com profile] saffie1981 to let me stick text on their cat. I don't have any of those five-foot-high freestanding letters in outlined Impact that the regular cat_macros posters seem to have, but I thought I captured the general effect... What? What? Is there an easier way to do it??

[livejournal.com profile] brrm and [livejournal.com profile] saffie1981 and their cats are lovely hosts, very generous with pasta puttanesca, port, paws and purrs (you can work out which were provided by whom!); and dinner with them was a lovely conclusion to a busy Saturday: lunch with [livejournal.com profile] emperor, followed by volunteering at Oxfam books with [livejournal.com profile] cleanskies, [livejournal.com profile] sea_bright, [livejournal.com profile] mr_snips and other people who may or may not have LJs. After all that hectic socialising we felt entirely justified in spending Sunday being lazy and decadent, eating caviar on toast and drinking TEA.

The caviar was left over from last Wednesday, which reminds me that I have been very remiss in not thanking my anonymous valentinr-senders! I have my suspicions about their identity, and may be commenting in an anonymous-comments-fest some time soon. I have been equally bad at thanking the senders of real actual paper cards: one anonymous card-sender whose writing I recognise ;-) and one signed card-sender: you know who you are, you are both very dear to me, and if I don't name you here it's not because I'm embarrassed but because I don't want to risk embarrassing you.

Strange moods at the moment; angry and hopeful and detached and passionate all at the same time. Staying afloat, positively buoyant a lot of the time but not very sure where I'm headed. Sometimes I wish I was out there saving the world, but I reckon a lot of the time I'm not doing it much harm, and maybe that sort of lack-of-evil is a kind of good (maybe all that is required for good to triumph is for people to do no harm). Other times, I wonder if we're all just shuffling deckchairs on the Titanic. Me, I'm going to be tap-dancing on the deck of the Titanic: if we're all going down anyway, I'm damn well going to make somebody smile as we go.
j4: (kanji)
So we spent Thursday and Friday getting [livejournal.com profile] acronym safely installed in his really quite excellent flat on the cool side of town, which gave me another chance to play White Van Jan. This one wasn't quite as much fun as last time, as the gears on the van seemed to be somewhat suboptimally arranged (for "suboptimally arranged" read "cocking awkward"), in a way that all too often left me unsure about whether I was moving into first or third, or second or fourth. I'd like to be able to say that "hilarious consequences ensued", but in fact the main consequences were stalling at a couple of junctions, mild panic at Mitcham's Corner when several seconds of stick-waggling failed to locate first gear at all, and a hell of a lot of swearing. The van shenanigans also involved some frankly hilarious reversing manoeuvres, but thanks to helpful friends and neighbours I managed to avoid damaging Practical's property or anybody's houses/bins/cats/etc.

A big thumbs-up for Practical, by the way, if anybody's after van-hire recommendations; they were reasonably-priced, and very friendly and helpful. They were also unsurprised but amused when I told them I'd been recommended to them by cam.misc. ("So where did you hear about us? No, wait, it's the internet. Everybody always gets our name off the internet.")

I was certainly very glad of their laid-back attitude when we were over half an hour late returning the van. This was largely due to my own mis-estimation of times and distances: I cycled from Greenwich House to Cowley Road in 20 minutes on Thursday after work, and I can cycle from home to work in 20 minutes in the morning, so I couldn't quite believe that it could take an hour to drive from home to Cowley Road, but it did, more or less. Being this late meant that [livejournal.com profile] addedentry and I didn't have time to pick bikes up in the van, so we ended up walking from Cowley Road; it's always strange being a foot-traveller in a place which is built for four-wheeled access, but it was a beautiful day for a walk, so we strolled along in the sunshine and picked handfuls of blackberries from a hedge that was heavy with fruit.

In retrospect we might have been better not trying to avoid the Milton Road roadworks with a "short cut" through the Science Park, though it was quite an entertaining detour. In the end, fearful of going round in a fruitless (no blackberries here) loop, I gave up and asked a friendly passing cyclist (not knowing that another friendly passing cyclist in the shape of [livejournal.com profile] beckyc would pass us a minute later!) who directed us through his company's car-park and through a hole in the hedge. We crossed the old overgrown railway track and emerged into an Arbury cul-de-sac just in time to catch the ice-cream van whose bells we'd heard from the car-park.

Later we had to stop and ask another friendly cyclist (this time [livejournal.com profile] ewx for directions from Armitage Way to the other side of the Arbury. (I'd have probably packed a map if I'd realised it was going to turn into such an expedition, but we were never lost, just not really sure of the best route from A to B.) It was growing dark by the time we eventually made it home with our bikes; it gets dark so quickly at this time of year, from low-hanging sunshine to blue-black gloom in barely 20 minutes.

On Sunday we had another chance to discover new roads as we cycled over to [livejournal.com profile] acronym's for afternoon tea. I've never had occasion to cut across the common from Coldham's Lane to Newmarket Road before, but it reminded me so strongly of Marston Rec that for a moment in my mind it was 1997 again and I was back in Oxford. There were heaps of brambles along the Rec, too, and we'd see people gathering the berries in tupperwares, and when I'd cycle home in the small hours of the morning the grass would be slightly frosted and the cows would be dark sleepy mountains looming out of the mist, coming out of nowhere like the nine years (nine years!) between now and then. I've talked about this before, I know; it's just one of the many well-worn roads through my mind, and sometimes when my feet are sleepy they fall back on the paths they know.
j4: (kanji)
Gosh, I feel like I've spent half the weekend fighting, but in a good way; a bit of a mental and physical workout, if you like. Saturday morning was all the usual battles at the Oxfam bookshop (why we throw usable books away, why we're not allowed to price things at 99p, why we're clearing out three whole sections of books to make room for some more vastly overpriced stationery, etc.), but in the midst of all that we also managed to sell a lot of books and get a lot of clearing up done. Less successful was a skirmish with HSBC on the way home, as the ongoing attempt to actually close my account with them ate up another hour of my time. Still, the time wasn't entirely wasted, as I spent it curled up in a plush armchair reading Terry Eagleton's After Theory (thoroughly recommended), savouring the irony (or possibly post-irony) of enjoying post-Marxist post-cultural post-theory from within the maw of the Big Four.

[livejournal.com profile] fanf's party on Saturday evening featured battles of a different nature, in the shape of some friendly debates, including "Why Tagging Is Rubbish" (interesting, but I remained incompletely unconvinced by the arguments of [livejournal.com profile] chrislightfoot, who doesn't have a LiveJournal, and whom I may have accidentally scared off by knitting and/or threatening to cover people in chocolate) and "So, What's Christianity All About Then" (with SJK, who really doesn't have a LiveJournal). The latter debate turned into one of those conversations that really didn't want to end, and while it might be a bit silly to extend your journey home by an extra 2 miles at 2 a.m. just so you can keep on talking for a bit longer to somebody who's actually travelling in a different direction, I'd forgotten quite how much fun it could be.

I then spent most of Sunday afternoon wrestling with thorny plant life, incurring myriad minor injuries to my hands, arms and legs, and (more distressingly) a noticeable tear in my Idlewild t-shirt. However, our garden is now about 6 feet longer than it was before, as what I thought was land forever lost to lawless leaves turned out to be a few sensible trees and shrubs (mostly prickly) cocooned in over-enthusiastic bramble runners, bindweed and ivy.

"Are blackberries a weed, then?" asked [livejournal.com profile] addedentry (as he manfully chopped the prickly heap into sensible green-binnable lengths). Now, I don't want to descend into trite fridgemagnetry like "A weed is just a flower in the wrong place", but really, I'd like to think that there's no such thing as a "weed": there are merely subordinate plants and insubordinate plants. Brambles are lovely, but they're also wilful, unruly, untameable; trying to keep them in order is a full-time battle that few people can face when there are so many more docile alternatives. It seems somewhat ungrateful to enjoy great big finger-purpling handfuls of fresh blackberries and then mercilessly mutilate the plants that provided them; but while there may well be places in the world for ten-foot-tall bramble runners with inch-thick stems, small suburban gardens are not one of those places. Besides, they'll have grown back by the time I've finished writing this.

Giving blood tonight (the brambles should have left me at least an armful), which is pretty simple by comparison with God or gardening, and gives me a bit more time for tea and Terry Eagleton. It's a lovely life, really, most of the time.
j4: (gagged)
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I thought Peterhouse choir dinner would be a mostly-pleasant but slightly awkward affair in which I made polite conversation with Fellows and tried not to feel left out while the students talked of supervisions and exams. I did not expect to end up draping myself around a young don in an attempt to distract him from the fact that I was trying to steal his cigar. I blame the port. It's always the port that's to blame, really, though in this case the previous champagne, white wine, red wine, and dessert wine may have contributed...

I staggered home at some unimaginable time in the morning, not really having realised quite how late it had gotten, and I am lucky that [livejournal.com profile] addedentry was more amused by my sorry state than cross with me for not giving him any good idea of when I'd be back. I am even luckier that he looked after me and helped me to (eventually) get to bed despite (apparently) much resistance on my part.

Saturday morning was completely wiped out in feeling miserable, alternately sorry for myself and cross with myself, determined to get well enough to go out but unable to walk more than three steps without feeling queasy... but we finally made it to [livejournal.com profile] taimatsu's picnic at about 5pm, having (I now realised) missed several nice people but being in time to see lots of other nice people. There was enough food to feed an army, and lots of folky singing, and general lazing around in the sunshine.

Sunday was the last Evensong of the year, and we went out on a high note (metaphorically at least), with a robust reprise of Stainer's I Saw The Lord (which we'd done last term) and a moving a capella rendition of the lovely "Christ be with me, Christ within me" bit in the middle of Patrick's Breastplate ("I bind unto myself today..."), which, incidentally, is the BEST HYMN EVER.

I also took the opportunity on Sunday to apologise to everybody for anything I might have said or done on Friday, and got an awkward blushing grin from the senior organ scholar (I only hugged him, honest, but he probably thinks I'm a scary predatory older woman -- sometimes I forget that I'm seven years older than the oldest of these people) and a chuckle and a general-purpose drinks invitation from the nice young don (who's very Peterhouse, so I really don't think there's any danger of us confusing each other there).

The moral of the story? When life gives you port, drink port.
j4: (badgers)
The weekend was pretty much pure Bank Holiday: unpredictable weather, car maintenance, shuffling furniture around, and gardening. How much stuff can you fit in one weekend? )

Oh, and, I know I still haven't written about singing, but I do still intend to, honest. It's on the to-do list, along with the other 1,596,253 things that may or may not get finished in this lifetime. What do you mean we don't get another? I want my money back!

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