Friday, 29 May 2009

Progress! I think...

Well, Schieffer the Vomitting Cat is asleep on the new doormat and I have just found a little pile of green and frothy cat puke on the wood floor by the dishwasher. So that's good, right?

Saturday, 23 May 2009

I can feel the hatred searing into my back...

I am sorry to report that there is a member of my family I have upset . Really, really upset. I can tell this because every time I look round I am being glared at balefully from the corner of the kitchen. The cat is miffed. Miffed in the regal, how-dare-you? way that only a cat can be. My crime? I threw out the mat that used to sit by the back door.

To explain, Schieffer lives in the kitchen. She has a cat flap in the back door so she can come and go as she pleases, wandering around the garden, falling asleep on the back step when it is sunny and hunkering down in the warm kitchen when it is not. She has a little cat bed, tucked neatly under the radiator, which she sleeps in quite happily. She even has it customised just how she likes it: coated with so much cat hair that a stray bolt of lightning would probably result in a completely new household pet. However, for those in-between times when she doesn't want to sleep, when it's too warm for the bed but not warm enough to stretch out like a mangy impersonation of a tigerskin rug on the patio, she likes the mat by the door. Or rather, she used to like it.

In cat terms, the mat was perfect: comfy enough to loaf on, suitably decorated with the spare cat hair she hadn't applied to her little tartan bed, and close enough to the cat flap so she could keep an eye on those pesky birds in the garden. She had adopted this mat, made it her own. Oh, and did I mention she had puked on it? Repeatedly? I had attempted to clean it a few times but her habit of eating grass (or my mint!) in the garden and then coming indoors to throw up was a bit difficult to keep up with. With a whole kitchen floored in easy-to-wipe-clean-and-disinfect laminate wood stuff, she always ALWAYS chose to yak up on the mat, and she did so regularly. The other morning I came downstairs to discover that she had done it again, during the night, and this time there were.......(deep breath).........lumps. Dried lumps. Eurgh. Whole mat went into the bin.

I have replaced the mat with a nice new one but the cat is not happy. The new, clean, mat does not have the patina of the old one. It does not smell of old cat and regurgitated vegetation (yet). So the cat is in a huff. Look.That is Schieffer sulking, pointedly sitting on old newspaper, squashed in beside her food bowls, rather than deigning to grace the new mat with her royal backside. She is also, I suspect, telepathically trying to tell me how much she hates me and how, if she had opposable thumbs and could open cat food pouches herself, I would be history. I wonder how long she will be able to keep this up?

EDITED TO ADD: I went through to the kitchen after posting this AND SHE HAD PUKED ON THE NEW MAT! A huge pile of semi-digested cat food. She still won't sit on the mat, but is perfectly happy to throw up on it. She really hates me.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

It's that time of year again

Another exciting weekend Chez Loth has flown by and, as FB has just pointed out, I still haven't managed to wash his school jumper for him. Pshaw. I have reminded him that we do not live on the Arctic tundra and he will in all probability survive a May day at school in Edinburgh without incurring significant frostbite. He was not convinced and walked off muttering about how you can't trust the weather forecast. Such a little prophet of doom we have bred. (He's right about the weather forecast mind you, but that is a subject for another rant post.)

My excuse for the lack of clean laundry is that we spent Saturday in Troon visiting my father-in-law, known to the boys as Grandad-in-Troon. FIL hasn't been too well recently but we were delighted to find him yesterday in excellent form - probably the best he has been for about 2 years - and we had a great visit. Husband's sister came with us so we also had a chance to have a good chat during the car journeys there and back. It was about 9.30pm when we got home which is normally well beyond the boys' bedtime. Given the special nature of the day, however, we decided to let them stay up. It was, after all, Eurovision song contest day.

I'll just wait while the readers with highly developed musical taste and discernment click away elsewhere. All gone? Right. We love Eurovision in this house as I think I have said before. We were not sure whether to watch this year given that Terry Wogan is no longer providing the slightly sarcastic commentary which progressed to positively acidic in direct proportion with his consumption of Bailey's. Graham Norton has taken over and we just didn't know if he'd be a worthy replacement. He is.

We had set the programme to record (what? Couldn't risk missing any!) and were able to all sit down together and watch from the start, Husband and I, the boys, SIL and her partner. The first sign that it was going to be a good night was the dress worn by the hostess. Remember those knitted dolls your gran used to make to put over the spare loo roll? She looked exactly like a shiny peach one of those. Fabulous. And Graham Norton's commentary was spot on. During the Cirque du Soleil opening he wondered why wee Jeanette Krankie had been tied to some balloons and I just about spat my tea over the carpet. (If you are not Scottish, you won't know who Jeanette Krankie is. I recommend keeping it that way. Seriously. Google The Krankies at your peril.)

We quite liked the song from Iceland even though the poor girl singing it was wearing what looked like a badly re-dyed bridesmaid's dress from 1983 (Graham Norton's accurate observation again.) There were, sadly, not too many truly mad Eurovision moments. Very few performers' costumes came off, no-one was dressed as an Orc and wearing 14 inch platform boots. Mind you the Albanian entry was bit disconcerting - some chap in all over turquoise blue lycra (including over his face) and two very short and acrobatic clowns doing their best to distract a blond teenager in a tutu. I wish I was making that up. But I am not. I checked. Don't click on that link if you are prone to nightmares, you'll be up for weeks.

If you want a blow-by-blow account of the whole spectacle, The Guardian live blog by Heidi is hilarious. Find it here but be warned, it gets a bit rude! The comments are a hoot in places too with many commenters chiming in with their versions of the Eurovision drinking game. One of them states that he will be having a drink every time there is an appearance of the wind machine or an ill-advised key change. "I do not expect to live to see tomorrow" he says. Having seen the show, I don't expect he did. The only bit the blog misses out is the interval entertainment which was........big plastic bottomed swimming pools suspended above the auditorium with people swimming about in them. These were gradually lowered down to just above head height so the audience could touch them. Hmmm. Not quite "Riverdance" but maybe that's a good thing.

We did decide that recording Eurovision is the way to go: you can fast forward through the duff parts and through all of the voting (you can only watch so many shiny women in evening frocks congratulating Moscow on the great show before you lose the will to live) and get to the end to see who won and whether anyone voted for Britain. Surprisingly, we came fifth despite having a turgid turkey of a song written by Andrew Lloyd Webber as our entry. There truly is no accounting for taste. Anyway, we enjoyed ourselves, Iceland did well and no-one woke in the middle of the night screaming that they were being attacked by wee Jeanette Krankie in turquoise lycra. A good night all round.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

There's a lost civilisation in there somewhere

I re-read that last post and it occurred to me that all you loyal readers out there might think I occasionally exaggerate for comic effect. Shame on you if you are nodding right now. How could you harbour such unjustified suspicions? In fact, I nearly always exaggerate for comic effect. My life is not nearly as interesting as I make out, and given that my posts revolve around such excitement as hoovering under my furniture, you can imagine how scintillating the real version is.

However, when it comes to the wilderness that is my garden, I promise I have been nothing but truthful. You really could mislay a household pet or two in our grass. Look. This is our back garden yesterday. (You can click to enlarge for the full glorious effect) On the left by the wall, you can see where the trellis that was there when we moved in has fallen down under the weight of that ivy stuff. What is that? The little purple flowers are quite cute but it is slowly choking the life out of everything and it is spreading across the garden. If the lawn doesn't get the cat, the ivy might.

Ah, now this is our front garden. The grass here has actually been cut this year already although you could be forgiven for being a tad sceptical about that claim. I tend to cut this more often because, being the front garden, people, and specifically our neighbours, can see it. The motivating influence of pure shame cannot be overestimated.

Which is why I finally got round to cutting it, front and back, yesterday after I took these snaps for posterity. While I was down on my hands and knees with the camera, I noticed a whole load of these little blue flowers had suddenly appeared out of nowhere: Given that they have materialised on their own, I am presuming they are some sort of madly invasive weed that will take over our entire house by the weekend. Can anyone out there identify them? Just so I know what to call the plant monster as it devours our car.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The Green Green Grass of Home (always needs cut, dammit)

I am still cheerfully pretending I am a gardener and can grow stuff that doesn't immediately go brown and crispy or limp and slimy. The main indicator of this is the grass in the front and back garden which has not been cut for ages. We are now in real danger of losing the cat if she strays too far from the kitchen door. Maybe I should tether her with some string so we can haul her in if she gets in over her head?

My little herb garden is also thriving and I even planted garlic. Someone at work told me you can just......plant garlic cloves, and they'll grow and stuff. So I did and now promising little green spikes are poking out of the ground. I can't believe I might be able to eat garlic I grew myself! (By the way, come the time, how do you know when it's ready, short of digging it up for a look-see?)

There is also a basil plant on my kitchen window sill - one of those ones you buy at the supermarket and which usually die in 10 days. But this one is flourishing. I have had it for weeks, have had many wonderfully squashy cheese, tomato and basil sandwiches from it (just the basil part, obviously, not the cheese and tomato. I'm good but I'm not that good) and it is still growing and is now flowering! Another flowering plant in my house! My mother is frankly astonished. (Oh and, by the way, if flowers appearing on your Sainsbury's basil plant is a sure sign of imminent plant death, please don't tell me. I am enjoying the pretence of being a capable gardener.)

Last but not least, my mint which I re-potted all by myself continues to sprout, vigourously trying to escape the confines of the pot. Unfortunately, the aforesaid cat, who used to content herself with eating grass, has discovered the joy of mint ("It's in a pot! On the patio! Like a little gift! I don't even have to get my paws wet if I want a wee snack!) She has been having a fly chew when I'm not looking. Or rather when she thinks I'm not looking. She hasn't quite grasped the concept of windows. So my mint is looking a little nibbled at the moment. On the plus side, when she throws up what she has eaten on the kitchen floor, as she most surely will, it might smell a little fresher than usual.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

This is turning into a weekly update

I seem to have lost the habit of posting during the week. Must do better. I do have things I would like to post about on weekdays but just don't seem to get round to doing it. And I know you are all out there, desparate for updates on the state of my carpets and whether I ever managed to round up all those damn lentils. (I wish.)

The week itself was rather uneventful. Oh, I did have my almost-at-the-end-of-my-probationary period interview at work and it looks like I am not about to be ordered from the premises any time soon, and will, in a couple of weeks, be the proud owner of a permanent contract. So that's good. I am always slightly worried that my particular brand of mild and flippant sarcasm might be misinterpreted (example: suggesting that when the computer system identifies random cases to be sent to me for audit checking, there should be a sound effect to announce the selection. I suggested a crack of thunder and that bit of Vincent Price laughing from "Thriller"). My habit of occasionally bringing in batches of home-baked muffins for my co-workers seems to have warded off any moves to have me drummed out of the building. So far.

Saturday was a hectic day this weekend. I got up early to take SB along to a children's open morning at a nearby tennis club, as SB has expressed an interest in learning to play tennis. (This might have something to do with the fact that the astroturf football pitches at school on which he plays every breaktime are, at this time of year, converted to tennis courts. He is missing his running-around-and-barging-violently-into-his-mates time.) I dutifully hunted around on the internet looking for venues where he could try out tennis, found the club in question, discovered it had an open morning for kids and promised SB I would take him. On getting out of bed early on Saturday I discovered he had changed his mind. Naturally he did not tell me this until I was up, showered, dressed and ready to go. Sigh. Bang go the dreams of being the mother of the next Andy Murray. So I went to Sainsbury's instead. At least we have bread and milk in the house.

On Saturday afternoon we acquired two additional boys as I had promised our two a treat for various good deeds done and they chose to each have a friend round for the day. The plan was to go to the cinema. Apart from the pain of having to part with £20 or so for 4 bags of popcorn, this had the advantage of being a relatively unstressful way to manage 4 boys for a few hours on a rainy day. And since the film was in 3D I would get to wear glasses and so could doze off unnoticed. (If you put me in a warm, dark place and force me to sit still for 2 hours, I WILL fall asleep.) Of course you can only doze off unnoticed if you don't snore or drool onto your own shoulder - or worse, your neighbour's shoulder - but that's a risk I was willing to take.

However fate intervened and we turned up to find the cinema closed due to lack of lights. What to do with the 4 hyper boys? I took them to the arcade at the tenpin bowling.......rink? Arena? Place. The tenpin bowling place. The boys had a blast playing full-size Mario Kart and riding kiddy-on motorbikes. Myself, I had no wish to spend £1 for the privilege of blasting away at computer-generated zombies. I toyed with the idea of playing the "Deal or no Deal?" machine but decided that would just be sad. Why don't these arcades have a sort of grown-up creche? A wee cordoned-off area with old Space Invaders, Asteroids and Pac-Man games? I can't be the only one who would love that, surely?

Anyway, after emptying my purse into the various machines, I took the boys back home, made them two enormous bowls of popcorn (cheap, home-made popcorn!) and let them hang out in the spare bedroom watching Kung Fu Panda on DVD. We have a triple sleeper bunk bed (double bed on the bottom, single on top) in there and SB and his friend decided the best vantage point from which to watch TV was........underneath the bed. I popped in at one point and all I could see were two small hands occasionally reaching out from the gloom to grab pawfuls of popcorn. I didn't ask. I was sure I wouldn't understand the explanation.

The afternoon was rounded off with a session of colouring in pictures of buses. Buses full of aliens, mostly. (I suspect these would be buses found in Edinburgh during the Festival. Aliens are par for the course here in August.) We celebrated a good day in the traditional Scottish manner: by eating chips. Very satisfying.

Sunday has been more low key. Husband and I had work to do - real, paid work rather than housework - and the boys were very good about occupying themselves and letting us get on with it. We managed to get two thirds of the work finished as well as all the usual laundry, cooking, preparing for the week ahead stuff and are quite pleased with that. A relaxing evening wandering the blogosphere rounded off the day nicely.

I promise I will try to post more often and with a little more originality next week.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Mrs Mopp lives!

I am not a naturally domesticated type. This may shock you (unless you actually know me, in which case you will be snorting to yourself and muttering "Understatement!"). It would shock you even more if you knew my mother who most definitely is domesticated. She has been known to iron socks.

In fact, when she used to look after the boys (the halcyon days when I never had to hoover my own carpets!) I once came in from work to find my mum wearing the expression she normally reserved for days when either she or the kids had broken something or she had hit something in our car. "I hope you don't mind," she said nervously, "but I ironed your husband's handkerchiefs". Yeah, she got a kick out of ironing my hubbie's cotton hankies. That, my friends, is domesticity squared.

I, on the other hand, do not iron anything. I have been known to go for days weeks without hoovering and dusting seems to me to be a pointless exercise because the dust always comes back. Today, however, I have been channelling my inner housewife. I have scrubbed our shower room to within an inch of its life, discovering in the process the colour our tiles are actually supposed to be. I have hoovered bits of our upstairs that have not seen a hoover in....let's see, we moved in here in 1999........

In particular I hoovered under the Humpty box. This is not, as its name suggests, a box for keeping Humpties in (in my experience, Humpties refuse to be kept in anything - they tend to roam our house unchecked). It is in fact an old wooden blanket box that used to belong to Husband's grandmother and which now sits in our upstairs hall outside the boys' bedroom. The Humpties, of which we have many, hang out on top of it, hence the name. I haven't moved this box for, ummm, quite a while. When I did so today, I nearly ran out of the house. There was a creature under there the likes of which I have never seen before. It was made entirely from old slippers, bits of lego and dust. The dust was holding it all together. One stray burst of static electricity and I swear it would have started breathing.

Bravely I held my nose and dived in to dismantle the creature. The slippers were beyond saving and even if they weren't, they scared me so I shovelled the whole lot into a bin bag and threw them out. Then I hoovered like my life depended on it. I am now hugely, unjustifiably proud of my upstairs hall - reasonably clean and devoid of odd dust-based lifeforms.

There is however one part of me which genuinely does seem to resemble the sort of woman who appears in Persil adverts. I absolutely love being able to hang up my laundry outdoors. I derive enormous pleasure from hanging washing out and even more from bringing it in again, all fresh and smelling lovely - this due largely to the fact that I have a whirligig (rotary clothes dryer to the non-Scots out there) and it is positioned to drag my washing through a large rosemary bush every time it rotates. Better than any fabric softener, I tell you.

So, do you think there is hope for me yet? Could I yet morph into another Anthea Turner? And if so, how the hell do I stop that happening?!

Edited to add: Croila tells me that house dust barely qualifies as such if you can roll it up in a sheet and stick it in the bin. And no, she does not want to come round and do my hoovering for me. Can't imagine why not........