Monday, 16 October 2006

Blog swansong

Blogging has been so therapeutic for me and utterly worth it. I'd recommend everyone to at least blog for a while in their lives. For some it may be a short lived activity and for others longer. I should hope there is no judgement either way but I'm done with blogging. May you enjoy your process because I certainly have.

Lately I've not been having a great time in myself so something has to give. I am a survivor. Simple as that. I need to walk away completely and move on. To think about other projects. Space clearing I guess. It is a positive decision and feels good.

I'm sorry I haven't gone around and said goodbye to my favourite haunts but know that I have given you a cheery wave and a smile. For those of us whose lives have touched, I am the richer for those special moments of connection. May you be very happy and love and peace fill your lives. I will carry your memories and treasure them.

Blog copier

I can recommend and download their free to use open source software to copy your entire blog and the comments too. (Click on the options on the second page and click on "include link" and then as the Criterion select "Links containing" and then put in the beginning of the url to your comments field. For me it was and then voila, blog with comments!) The file structure is rather large, and maybe not suitable as a back-up copy but at least you can have a copy of your blog and messages kept for safe keeping for whatever reasons. If I so wish, I can now look back over old posts and enjoy them and the comments made.

[Comments switched off and all posts to date were removed from blog]

Friday, 13 October 2006


This is a great book to read but I wouldn't go quite so far as the front cover blurb "Non-stop fun" or on the back cover: "Dazzling ... a delight".

The Tractor book had on its reverse, "An extraordinary read ... nothing short of amazing. A rare treat, all too easy to gulp down in one greedy sitting".

As it happens I very much enjoyed both books (buy 1 get 1 ½ priced at WH Smith!) but I wonder about the cover reviews they add to books. Such outrageously over the top comments (proabably taken out of context) that leads one to perhaps have higher expectations of the contents than one might ordinarily expect. Perhaps even leading to dissapointment for some readers?

On the other hand, I wonder if quite so many copies would be sold if they didn't put such sensational reviews on the covers? It feels almost deceptive to me. Luckily, on this occasion for me, these books turn out to be good reads but I would be less than impressed if I had been duped by the sensationalism.

My latest book, Emotional rollercoaster, a journey through the science of feelings has a rather more fitting review on it's cover: "An entertaining, informed guide to the responses that drive and colour our lives". I think that is already a far more balanced comment but then this book was tucked up on the 3rd floor and not on the best seller shelves.

Anyway, Freakonomics. It was a fascinating look at economics in terms of number crunching but applied to everyday life social situations. One of the authors took a lot of flack a few years ago for his research which suggested that the massive drop in crime in the US was due to the legalisation of abortion back in the early 70s rather than any crime measures put into place. So that by the time the late 1990s came there just wasn't the numbers of teenaged youth. What made his research so distasteful was his pointing the finger at single, unmarried mothers from low income and mainly Black families that produced the most criminals. And who would make the most use of the low-cost legal abortions. Having been a single parent on a low income of course that raises my hackles but, in the book, he does take it carefully and I didn't get the feeling he was being judgemental as well as he acknowledges the myriad of issues involved.

Other subjects he looks at includes "Why do drug dealers still live with their moms" and "How is the Klu Klu Klan like a group of estate agents" and others. Overall the whole book was thought provoking, funny in places and worth reading. It makes one look at the world, or rather question it, from a different viewpoint.

Original Comments:

Milt Bogs said...
That is a very nice template you've got there Gran.
"Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?" sounds interesting.
Friday, October 13, 2006 1:54:00 PM
Atyllah said...
Deceptive? Book blurbs? No, Doris dear, it's just marketing! ;-)
Saturday, October 14, 2006 9:01:00 AM

ella m. said...
I liked most of Freakonomics....until the last chapter. While the rest of the book was firmly steeped in research, the chapter on the connection between baby names and status contains way too much anecdotal fluff (inclusing an old urban legend) for my liking.

I'm glad to see you are feeling a little better, as you sounded very stressed and depleted a few posts ago.
Saturday, October 14, 2006 8:28:00 PM

Gerald Ford said...
"Klu Klu Klan like a group of estate agents"

Didn't you know?

Actually neither did I. ;P

Hm, I will have to screen my next real estate agent by asking what they do in their spare time (like to dress in costumes, take part in community events, etc).

None of that for me, thanks.
Sunday, October 15, 2006 1:23:00 AM

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Dark black clouds

There are times when they just descend. Sometimes, as if out of nowhere. For a few days I can feel that something is not right but nothing specific and nothing to put my finger on.

Having our car broken into was a nuisance, a pain, really crap, but that wasn't it. Having a son who started the second year of secondary school last week after having a year and a half away being home educated was more worrying. At 9.15am on his first day he is getting a sick note to excuse himself out the lesson. Sometime during the week he was pulled up by staff for not tucking his shirt into his trousers and on the Friday of this short 3.5 day school week he was sent out of class (the first he had attended with this teacher) for laughing. I walked the 2 mile journey (each way) to and from school 3 times with him and his friends to find that the other boys made no pretence of being on best behaviour on my account. The first journey home took us meandering over roads with disregard of traffic; in and out of sweet shops spending on junk that just ended up being thrown around; trespassing across private property which lead to a choice of scaling the 15 foot fence or doing a spiderman and hanging from the fence and edging along the ledge for about 10 yards until one clambered over a mini bridge and around the fence. I climbed the fence (which admittedly utterly impressed my son).

Oh yes, then there was stopping off at the cheap supermarket for four x 2 litre bottles of fizzy drink which they then had wild fun shaking up and smashing on the ground spraying each other in their new clean school uniforms and passers by with with gunk. One kid ran across the busy road to avoid the spray causing a car to brake and beep their horn. In the park a few of the kids have a grudge against the pigeons and armed themselves with stones and pelted the birds.

These are my son's peers. The people most likely to have an influence over him. I'd say this was pretty depressing.

Meanwhile my daughter is living beyond her means and like her brother swans in and out without thought of helping run the community of our house. That's depressing.

But there is something more and unidentifiable. These are the bleak clouds, like acrid smoke from a fire, it curls in slowly and then takes its grip. Throughout the early stages so that one day I am performing OK and being jolly and then the next day it has fully taken hold. Tears keep flowing and I just can't cope. I'm upset and angry but I don't get loud or shouty. Nor have any desire to except in respect of the kids when I fear I would be way out of control so try desperately to say nothing and keep away.

For nearly 24 hours I am oppressed and under. I'm drowning. Mr Doris is there trying to be nice to me but he can't get through. Nothing touches me. I am cold and dispassionate except for the tears. I try to suppress the tears in bed and sob quietly, sometimes making little gasping for air noises.

Then the clouds start to lift. I'm still susceptible to tears. I'm still close to the edge but not quite so precarious now. In hours even I could be back to my good ole jolly reliable self. This has happened on occasions in the past on and off during my life.

Original Comments:

Stegbeetle said...
I hope some ray of sunshine breaks through your dark clouds, Doris.

Hopefully your son will find some less objectionable friends but I'm sure he'll soon get back into the swing of "the school thing" but don't sweat the small stuff - I was always getting pulled up for "shirt not tucked in" as well as "top button not done up".


Tuesday, October 10, 2006 12:40:00 PM
Stegbeetle said...
*apologises for grammatically horrible comment*

I hear the sound of English teachers spinnig in their graves.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 12:41:00 PM

Doris said...
Thanks Steggie I've now had a choccie or two!

About the teachers, I love the idea of these bat caped English teachers with cobwebs hanging from their peaked hats as they "spinnig (sic) in their graves". LOL that right cheered me up :-)

But you know, it is not the small stuff I am worrying about - I'd have thought that in the first he'd have been trying hard to do the right thing by the school. But I live in a world of my own making that doesn't exist. I am more worried about the road dangers.

Still, things are better with him today. It has to get better.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 4:25:00 PM

Doris said...
"I'd have thought that in the first he'd have been trying hard"

should read

"I'd have thought that in the first week he'd have been trying hard"

Tch. More spinnig dost thou teachers do-est ;-)
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 4:26:00 PM
Atyllah said...
Doris, dear, the feeling of disempowerment and an inability to control the circumstances around us will reduce anyone, not just you, to a miserable heap.
You poor thing - horrible and worrying to witness all that and feel unable to do anything about it.
You can but hope that everything you've put into your son to date will shine through and he'll find his way through this and make friends who are less intent on needing to prove themselves.
I do hope the dark clouds pass soon and light floods into your life.
Can I send over some sinful Turkish Delight ice-cream - discovered it today, thought I'd died and gone to heaven. (Such a pity I'm dairy intolerant!)
Tuesday, October 10, 2006 7:43:00 PM
Ally said...
I hope you're feeling better - hang in there.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006 12:02:00 AM

Doris said...
Thanks Atyllah and Ally

I must be on the mend otherwise I'd not have managed that post yesterday and then after that, actually had a once in a rare blue moon good evening as son worked with me to make dinner (the conversation and the learning of culinary skills was good) and daughter was more communicative at dinner, quite jolly really, and helped clear up afterwards.

Did you know Atyllah that I have a thing for Turkish Delight? And now there is an ice cream!!! OK - must seek it out!

I am concerned about my son's friends and will keep an eye out for which way he goes. My son is a nice kid with a really lovely nature which I hope he can keep some of that for his adult self rather than this testosterone charged aggressive teen.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006 7:54:00 AM

Anji said...
I hope you're feeling better as the time passes. I remember olivier going back into school after a 6 month break. I just sat and waited at home until it was time to collect him, feeling sick. It did get better. I'm sure he'll sort some decent friends out "water always finds it's own level"
Wednesday, October 11, 2006 5:20:00 PM

Chandira said...
Aw.. Love.

I know, I get days like that too, it feels like a weight is sitting there in your stomach, and nothing will shift it. It can hit you for no apparent reason sometimes too.

If it gives you any hope, I survived high school, despite being a near alcoholic in my teens, I did survive, and life is good. Mostly. If I can get through that in one piece, I'm sure your son can!!

Let it out though, don't sit on all that emotion. A pillow over the face will cover up most screams.

Good for you, climbing the fence.. lol
Wednesday, October 11, 2006 5:45:00 PM
Carol said...
Gosh, Doris. Hopefully all these things are teething problems that will be ironed out as time passes. Here's hoping. Hugs to you
Wednesday, October 11, 2006 7:54:00 PM
Britmum said...
Doris I can totally relate to how you are feeling in so many ways.

Take care xx
Thursday, October 12, 2006 1:36:00 AM
jane said...
Doris, I'm sorry you've been feeling down. It is very difficult having to let go a bit of our children. Knowing the influence others have on them is a scary thing, especially when the influental ones are deliquents. With grown kids, the best advice I can offer is to keep close to your kids. Kids ALWAYS want boundaries, even though they may say they don't. Boundaries keep them safe.
And your wonderful, wonderful Mr.Doris...he's a gem.
Bless you, friend.
Friday, October 13, 2006 4:40:00 AM

Doris said...
~ Thank you ~
Friday, October 13, 2006 8:03:00 AM

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Crap stereo

Oh the irony of it all. Some time during the night, probably after the local police stuck a booklet on our windscreen about car security, our car was broken into and the stereo and CD changer taken.

Having forced the lock, completely breaking it and damaging the door skin, they then smashed the glass on the passenger side. The only reason the stereo was in the car was because it was a crap model and the buttons had broken and we couldn't remove it nor even open the flap to change the CD. It was a crap stereo.

The car was parked within yards of the security camera. We park under the lime trees of the park and put up with the sticky drippings because of the security camera. We used to park round the corner but similar happened just before Easter of this year so we didn't park there anymore.

Ths time we had the police crime detection people out. A young scrap of a lass who looked younger than my daughter! She did a good job, though the stickiness of the lime trees meant no finger prints were forthcoming, there was a tool imprint she took with a rubber substance.

We will not be getting a replacement stereo. I like to have music and news when I'm driving so we will find a different way for that. This is all such crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.

Original Comments:

Cheryl said...

Oh Bollocks.

Poor you.... I don't know what else to say.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006 2:31:00 PM

Ally said...

Oh dear, I am so sorry. The same happened to me years ago and I drove around with the windows open singing madly to keep myself awake on long journeys for about six months. It was a very long winter.

Stupid bollocksy thiefs. May their crowbars slip and permanently damage them.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 12:20:00 AM

Britmum said...

Oh Doris I am sorry for all the crapiness. We had that a few times when we were residing in the U.K. Trouble is the old houses don't have garages and you have no choice but to park in the street. Bloody gits that think its ok to steal and damage peoples property.

Thinking of you.

Take care xx

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 7:13:00 AM

ella m. said...

My sympathies, having something stolen from you in that fashion is one of the most unpleasant things that can happen to a person.

As far as alternatives, how about the subscription service sattelite radio (XM or Sirius)? As I recall most of their recievers are portable and could be taken back into the house with you at night.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 1:46:00 PM

Mike said...

Very sad that things like this happen. Trouble is it's almost accepted in many places as being the norm.

A big bar of chocolate sometimes helps! Mike.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 8:41:00 PM

Milt Bogs said...

I assume that the security camera wasn't working or that the boggers were 'hoodied up'. The police always get excellent results from security tapes - but unfortunately that's only on The Bill.
I left a car unlocked once and the prats still smashed the window.

Thursday, October 05, 2006 9:46:00 AM

Neutron said...

Arghhh...I have experienced this twice...the one occasion in Italy where - amongst other things - our passports and ferry tickets for Greece were stolen and the other in Germany - yes, Germany - where my guitar and all my equipment was nicked. You really don't realise what it's like until it happens.

Friday, October 06, 2006 10:24:00 PM

Anji said...

I'd love to have seen their faces when they realised it wasn't up to much; Think Karma, perhaps when they're old and deaf someone will steal their hearing aids!

We had a neighbour who used to leave her car unlocked so they wouldn't do any damage when they 'broke in'

Saturday, October 07, 2006 4:11:00 PM

Kurt Reply said...

Hello, Doris,
Sorry to hear of your car stereo theft. It's always a violation isn't it...I had someone enter my unlocked car years ago to swipe some coins and rifle through the glove compartment. I felt violated.
Doris, on another topic: I spend much time listening to radio while I work, and whereas you also expressed an interest in radio I thought you might enjoy this humorous weekly show. National Public Radio in the US has the best programming and this show, "What d'Ya Know," is funny and entertaining. I write this to you as I listen to its Oct.7 broadcast from Duluth, Minnesota. The humour is local yet still understood by generally everyone. It's the highlight of my week, and after you listen to a couple of episodes using this archive, you may be hooked as well. I hope you enjoy it.
Best wishes,

Saturday, October 07, 2006 5:07:00 PM

Astryngia said...

Difficult to think of anything adequate to say! How tiringly tiresome. B****y 'beep' B******s

Saturday, October 07, 2006 11:27:00 PM

Le laquet said...

Makes me want to slap them!!

Sunday, October 08, 2006 7:31:00 AM

Atyllah said...

Oh horrors. The sad thing is down in this neck of the woods that sort of thing is considered completely normal. In fact, we consider ourselves lucky if it's just the stereo that gets nicked and we get away with our lives in tact.

Monday, October 09, 2006 5:48:00 PM

Sunday, 1 October 2006

Toshiba apples

The trouble with reading a good book is that I end up talking to myself, with that ever eternal, inner monologue, in the style of whichever writer I have just read. "A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian" was not the corset ripping comedy I was lead to believe from various reviewers over the last months but it was still an excellent yarn with a sense of wry humour and at times a complete farce that worked well. Ultimately though, it was poignant and clever.

After their mother dies, two grown up sisters are horrified when their elderly father remarries a much younger and voluptuous Ukrainian woman, Valentina, seeking to legitimately stay in the UK with her son. The tractor history bit is something that is interwoven throughout and is an extremely novel way of constructing the story.

An undercurrent of the book is the way the two sisters are so different. One is the war child (WWII) aware of the horrors and the other born just after, in peace time UK, and a time of hope and re-birth. There are only a matter of 8 years between them but there is a whole universe of difference with each living their own life until Valentina comes on the scene and they then have a common enemy and resolve their differences.

As for those internal monologues.... this afternoon a call out the blue from son's genetic father (Mr Y Chromosone) who happens to be not that far away dropping off his youngest daughter to university. "Great" says I, "come on over" [after all we never hear from you from almost one year to the next thinks I]. Mr Y is about an hour or so away. Ten minutes later he phones again and says his daughter is coming too and is that alright and am I sure. Without hesitation, of course I say "yes". [I think family is important and they should have more contact now that his children are all adults. A little notice wouldn't have gone amiss though but I say nothing.]

Mr Y coming is one thing and does not require me to do much, but bringing a 20 year old daughter who has never knowingly met me and suddenly I have a desperate need to make sure that the house is reasonably ship-shape and tidy, which it isn't. I am almost the Valentina character from the book. For many years I was the interloper, or perhaps the dark shadow over the lives of Mr Y's children and here his Youngest was braving the visit. Youngest and son are siblings through the father. I am delighted that connections are being made. Son has met Youngest once before and the socialising is like water off a duck's back to him - he has inherited this characteristic from me.

But Youngest is a young woman. The thought she would meet me must have crossed her mind. Is she expecting a Valentina character, all hussy and frou-frou? I know I'm not that but I can't have her thinking what a sluttish house I keep. [It isn't a sluttish house either, it is actually OK but just in need of a little spruce round the edges.]

Whatever Mr Doris must have made of me like a whirling dervlish round the house barking out commands and flapping and cleaning and polishing. He must be wondering why I am making such an effort. And all the while the internal dialogue about this or that continues. At least the house did well out of it and has a fast spring clean.

Mr Y and Youngest have arrived. Youngest was ever so lovely and I reckon we clicked as soon as I loudly acknowledged (within minutes!) that her father was pushing her through University to do courses he thought were good for her rather than making the choices herself.

Mr Doris nipped round to the corner shop to find some cake and biscuits to serve with tea and after a short while into this flying visit I excused myself and Mr Doris and we left them to it. Silly having us all round politely talking: wonderful Mr Doris; the ex-love-of-my-life Mr Y; and me the hussy [which I'm not] with son [my son that Mr Y never contributed to and originally accused me of getting pregnant with on purpose who is now the apple of his eye] and his Youngest. All polite tea and cake. But we left them to it.

I was delighted that my Daughter showed her face and went and said hello. Mr Doris had asked her to do so and she could have avoided it but she didn't. I am grateful.

It wasn't a long visit but extremely pleasant and went well. Youngest hugged us all, including me, "goodbye". We even swapped mobile numbers as she offered to come and braid son's hair next time it was needed. She offered that she was only one stop away on the train. Gosh.

The Toshiba apples are a curious recipe from the book. The eccentric elderly father found a way to prepare the multitude of apples that fell from the tree in the garden. It involved cooking them in the Toshiba microwave until a warm sticky mass. It doesn't appeal to me but I tried to think of an equally quick way to prepare a meal for our guests but as they have to rush I, and they, are spared.

It is an interesting Sunday afternoon.

Original Comments:

Atyllah said...
Definitely an interesting afternoon. Manic cleaning aside (I know the tendency all too well), I think you did a stunning job in potentially difficult circumstances. Well done, you! And, having wondered about it for ages, I am now going to doddle off and get myself a copy of a "A Short History..."
Sunday, October 01, 2006 7:38:00 PM
Cheryl said...
I got it out of the library this Easter when it was new out - like you I made the choice based on reviews - but took it back after one chapter. It was so bloody miserable and boring and all about interfering and putting each other down, and wow just written from the perspective of a whiny professional victim and grumbler, I thought. All dirty laundry and no air.
You did better than me to plough through all that self involved and depressing stodge - three cheers for you.
Oh, oops, did I mention I didn't like the book? I guess you gathered that ;-)
Sunday, October 01, 2006 8:42:00 PM
Britmum said...
Wow what a whirlwind day you had. I am glad that it turned out well for you.

Does your son have long hair? I am just curious.

The book sounds brilliant too.

Take care xx
Monday, October 02, 2006 2:18:00 AM

Doris said...
In reverse order!

Britmum Hiya :-) Yes, son does have long hair. This is a pic of it before Christmas so it is much longer now and he keeps it in canerows which are easier to manage. And when he has it out he has a huge 70's afro. Quite a dude!

Cheryl I'm glad I am not the only one who gives up on books that just do not appeal! I think the book was definitely worth perservering with especially as the relationships and the different stand points (or as you put it the "whiny professional victim and grumbler") mellow and at the end even explains why. That took us into the history of the consequences of World War II and was well explained but not until the end. Also, seeing as I can be a bit thick at times, even I picked up on the double standards in bringing up kids.

PS. I think Blogger have sorted their technology and none-beta bloggers can post comments OK now. Or maybe I am wrong!

Atyllah I'd be very interested to hear views from others who have read the book so let me know some time - or maybe you might blog it.
Monday, October 02, 2006 8:00:00 AM

Pookie65 said...
Wow, Doris, you did have a interesting Sunday. I'm glad it went smoothly for you. That Mr. Doris sounds just perfect. Out of curiousity was he already this good when you met him or did you have to train him? ;-)

Monday, October 02, 2006 12:24:00 PM

Doris said...
LOL Pookie! Mr Doris required no training from me on these sorts of things. However, in other areas of life he may have needed a little training from me and he most definitely has trained me to become [this will be hard to believe, I grant you ;-) ] a nicer person and to be more chilled out.
Monday, October 02, 2006 3:07:00 PM

Astryngia said...
How the circle of life comes around - just a stop away. Life making another transition...

Must get around to reading that book!!
Saturday, October 07, 2006 10:12:00 PM