Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Crunching snow underfoot

It is official. Christmas is here and the sort of run up to Christmas that I dream of ... walking down a real British High Street in and out of little shops with snow crunching underfoot, icicles growing wondrously down the side of a drain pipe, a bird flitting from branch to branch knocking powdery dry snow from the overladen branches, and me with my little list of recipes for the big event, all organised and feeling more in hand now. The vegetables are yet to be purchased and just one or two more things. Sadly, I have neglected friends and family that are not here and do not feel good about that, but I can only cope with so much. At least this bit that I am doing I feel calm about and that the days will be well enjoyed.

The BBC news site carried a relevant article today about the competition over the Christmas cooking and I would have to admit that although I do not feel in competition, there is certainly a feeling of achievement concerning pulling off a meal for 13 people that is well timed, well constructed, delicious and presses all the right buttons. Gilding a turkey is a tad too far but it did make me laugh rather than feel righteous indignation over the perceived cost of it or its ostentatiousness. If I had a spare book of gold leaf at £4 I'm sure I would have had fun gilding a pudding or some sausages. I just don't fancy eating such a concoction.

Monday, 20 December 2010


Something has switched in me and I am willingly up early. Wanting to crack on and get sorting of piles of stuff in between a busy work schedule this week. Will be good to see how much better the intentions pan out in reality. I am intent on being optimistic!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

12 years ago today....

... we moved in with the darling Mr Doris. So this is our 12th Christmas together.


Friday, 17 December 2010

One of those people

Exam today was rather tougher. Considering it is all multiple choice it is a tad oo-er that it should give more than pause for thought. At least we will have our results for these first three exams in three weeks.

Over lunch at college there was some chit-chat about who had done what for Christmas and it is interesting the impressions we have of other people. For example, there is a young lass, younger than my daughter and with a young child of her own, who has one of those pale pallid complexions and takes a while to wake up in the morning. She looks a bit of a heroin head with the way she can look so spaced out and yet since early November she had been sharing how she had already done all her Christmas shopping. Meanwhile, as I gave out Christmas cards to my colleagues today I shared that these were the only cards I had managed to write and give out this year, and that I had only just started Christmas shopping. To which one of my colleagues expressed surprise that she had thought I was one of those people who would have Christmas all wrapped up by August. The curious thing is that it would not be the first time I had been wrongly attributed such organisational skills, and I suppose I would not have the nickname "Monica" (from Friends) if I didn't sometimes pull it out of a hat. It is not a bad thing to be associated with, and I can see it is a whole lot kinder than "heroin head".

The serious point to this is that old chestnut of what happens when people find out I bluff it just like anyone else and do not have any special organisational qualities. It is just that sometimes I do manage to get it together. The other thing I wonder is what is it that gives people that impression about me and I think I had better re-assess how I look to the world and perhaps I do not look anywhere near as shambolic as I think I do. Maybe I do look neat and tidy most of the time. They certainly have not seen my desk (and the floor around it) piling high and needing clearing before the Christmas visitors start.

Thursday, 16 December 2010


That is another exam ticked off and one more tomorrow.

The cranberry sauce was made and frozen the other day from fresh cranberries on special offer. Today, the slightly stale loaf of white bread bought at a fraction, has been made into the bread sauce also to go into the freezer. Small details but less to think about come the big day, which in this household will be on Boxing Day with about thirteen of us around the table. Christmas Day will be a simpler affair. The advent calenders are looking good with Father Christmas grotto looking busy and the stable scene is filling up. Large plump flakes of snow fell hard and fast this afternoon but the recent rain and the not quite low enough temperatures ensured it did not stay. Fingers crossed that we do not have sheets of ice on the roads tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Crucifying Carols

There is a charming medieval-rebuilt-in-the-1800s parish church in the centre of our town. A setting fit for wonderful marriages, festive Thanksgivings, and the annual Christmas concert from one of the town's secondary schools. But not the school traditionally known for its musical excellence and as such we were treated to an ear bleeding array of concert pieces, bands and choirs. Some of it was alright but most was definitely not. And I am not even a music snob and will applaud a brick wall if it was trying to make an effort. I'd go again next year in order to support and encourage but I think I might gird my loins with a snifter of something a bit strong.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Constructing Reality

We each have our lives with its various constructs living in our cosy castles but what is it that gives us our strength? That keeps us going and gives a sense of purpose? In my case, strip away my dear Mr Doris, my kids, my family and my friends and what is there? Who am I then? There has to be something in each of us that gives us our own identity and reasons for being otherwise we are just empty shells slotting into a jigsaw, and should that jigsaw fall apart we could be awash without any anchor.

In my case, I feel that inside tiny me is a something that has always held on, through the tough and the alone times. That demanded that there should be justice in this world and always had hope that things should get better. In a way, a something that just never gave up. It is curious because although I had this sense of justice and of what is right, it was a voice that I carried for others, rarely for me but this year I am finding that justice voice for me too. Finally utilising its essential nature in ways that have surprised me but have been inconsequential in the scheme of things inasmuch as I opened my mouth on my account but the world did not fall in.

With the idea of our constructed realities it is like a skeleton of a building with a lift shaft. As we each go up and down to each floor, it is like each is a whole new plane of thought with different concerns and issues. For that period of time on that floor, for however long we are there, we are in that groove: sometimes stuck, sometimes floating free, whatever it is that is to be our experience. And it seems that if we do not handle things differently, or better, we are consigned to come back to those floors that create the most mayhem. Again and again and I wonder if in the next life too until we deal with things better.

There are silly things in my life I still have issues with such as some aspects of procrastination, or how I feel the world sometimes expects more of me than I can deliver. Stuff in my head that takes more time than it deserves and would be quicker to deal with the tasks in hand than worry about them. Then, there are those floors that are just complete travesties and tragedies for which I am grateful have not been my lot. We survive and we cope, or we don't. Those are the events outside of us that cut swathes through lives. The wars, the bombs, the murders, the accidents and so forth.

So what makes us survive? When there appears to be nothing else in life or it is all too much. There has to be just a smallest grain of hope. A hope that one day things will be better. Remembering that we are stuck on this floor at the moment but we will not always. The world is an amazing place. Bad things happen but it is a place of incredible beauty and awe. Human kind is amazing. We grow from just a simple egg and seed into this most complex bit of machinery that imagines structures and art and music. Green shoots and tiny flowers insist on growing from the most inhospitable side-walks or a rocky crevasse up a mountain. And whilst those little shoots continue to blossom there is always hope for us. Strip away those constructs, that plane of reality that insists this or that is important and let the core of who we are just be. We are vital just as we are.

It is eighteen days until the new year. This year I was big and bold and brave and did so very many things differently and can see my life has shifted gear after some years of being stuck. It is not all perfect and I have a journey to continue along but it feels like a good place to be. Any moment those ivory towers could be rocked and then I'd have to start all over again, but I hope not. There is much to be thankful for, even on those years I didn't feel things were going my way.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Ooops! Again!

Another day I did not manage to post but interestingly another day of more Christmas shopping, helping out a friend and her daughter, sorting out something for my parents and washing-up the Christmas china. No excuse really not to post ;-)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Christmas shopping

First thing yesterday did lots of studying for my next exam on Wednesday and then decided to start a bit of Christmas shopping. Lovely mild weather and not too manic out there but still have a way to go with it all. Foggy day today and interestingly grey.

Saturday, 11 December 2010


No post today. Didn't even switch on the computer.

Friday, 10 December 2010


This afternoon we have our first exam which shouldn't be too difficult in the scheme of things but are still an unknown beast. Before that, we will have busy salon conditions to which I have been asked to be salon manager for which I will be assessed. There will be lots of assessments going on so it is not as if everyone will be watched every second but just generally, and specifically on occasion. I am looking forward to getting things signed off for my coursework as there is so much more to to do. Perhaps a tad nervous about the exam but it should be fine.

Does this sound like December?

Thursday, 9 December 2010


I have a mother who could be on her last legs. She is in so much pain and wanting to give up but she is holding on for our Boxing Day "do" and dear Mr Doris' special birthday outing the day after. Considering that she has misbehaved exceedingly badly at a very important recent event, the sort of unforgivable, over the top, bad behaviour because the world revolves entirely around her, she has alienated significant family members. But amazingly, those members can see the pain she is in and are prepared to let things go even though she is blaming them, and then on the other hand I am working hard beneath the surface delicately keeping the lines of communication open and diplomatically orchestrating what could be a wonderful reunion. Just yesterday I looked at the calender and realised it is only one more week at college and then one more week until Christmas and I've not bought a single present or sent a single card. Plus a family party or two to arrange, friends to stay and some travelling as well. Oh joy.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Frozen door

This morning I discovered that a car door can freeze open. Or rather, the shutting mechanism can freeze so it is a flappy door and not really the sort of door one can drive around with. At first it all seemed a breeze: the key went into the lock and opened the driver door and the engine started first time. I had just offered an impromptu lift to my neighbour who works at the local school and she sat in the passenger seat as I scraped the solid ice from the windows. It was only when we were set to go she said this door is not shutting properly. The poor girl heard my full range of expletives as I was baffled as what to do about it when I flippantly asked her how she felt about holding the door shut as I drove and she said she would. I drove off gently as she probably realised the full implications of what she had agreed to and held on for dear life. At the school she wanted to help but there was nothing to be done and I figured that either we had smashed the door mechanism or it was frozen and would defrost. A luggage strap and a bungy from the boot, held the door to the passenger seat and I drove off to pick up my regular car share and her daughter. They both sat safely in the back with straps criss-crossing in the front seat. By the time we had arrived at college the door had defrosted and worked perfectly. A very interesting experience.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010


I so love youtube! But then, I suppose I am attributing the good to the mode rather than to the hands of the users/producers. Just like we blame guns or porn rather than the people behind them but heyho that is another matter. Yesterday I could have been off massacring my local populace but instead I had a most productive time watching youtubes on threading and eyebrow definition. Who'd have thought it wasn't rocket science to pick up threading but indeed it does take skill and experience to learn to get it brilliant. Nevertheless, together with my existing beauty skills and increasing confidence (did I really cut my eyebrow hairs that much and they really look good still?!) I have a pretty good rendition of what is fast becoming known as HD brows. They are darker, more shapely and cleanly defined. I know that I have more work to do on them but I am pretty impressed. And the threading really helped with cleaning up around the brows in a way that waxing doesn't always manage. Who'd have thought all you needed was a little bit of thread from a sewing reel to do all that magic.

I know someone at college who has the most naturally amazing eyelashes and eyebrows which apparently have been assisted by a product in the region of over £40 to help them grow. Youtube advice from a number of sources suggest the nightly use of castor oil on said hairs. £1.40 from the chemist and I have begun to road test that tip.

It was a good job I decided to go out earlier in the car to do some college work with a friend only to discover the car battery is as flat as a pancake. The charger is on and fingers crossed we have a working car tomorrow morning. So instead of going out I am on Youtube picking and choosing my way through some more excellent make up videos. Some of it is rubbish but some is excellent. Thank you wonderful people who produce them.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Meaningful Spaghetti

On the floor, between our desks is a worrying pile of cables. Coming out of back-up power blocks or regular power blocks. Black cables, white cables and grey cables. Loose ends and USB ends twisting and winding from one tower to another. Into the scanner and out of the printer and seemingly all points in between. Then there are the junction blocks and cables so that one piece of hardware works for at least two computers. In the darkness of the night with all the machines off, the little snake eyes of the LEDs glow as if ready to pounce.

This morning I am trying to back up my telephone prior to sending it back to have it finally fixed or replaced whilst it is still in warranty. And I need a cable. Just the one. That goes from the phone to the USB junction box. But I have extracted three such cables in the spaghetti that would have fitted my old phone but not this one. I feel sure that there was a time a year ago when I needed that cable but could not find even one. Oh joys.

Sunday, 5 December 2010


Not sure what happened to yesterday but within an hour of writing my last post, and feeling all smug, I was continuing with my college assignment and my eyes went ping. In a pre-migraine kind of way. It is difficult to study and concentrate when lights and objects slide around your vision and make you feel queasy. So as a result, I was up and down from the sofa. Sleeping it off and then returning to my studies, then resting again. Thank goodness no-one accepted my invitations to come and eat with us last night as I ended up quite out of action. But at least two of my five assignments are done and dusted and I'll try and do some more today. It will be so good to get them out of the way.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Saturday Snuggles

Snuggles followed by breakfast in bed served by the wonderful Mr Doris. What more could a girl want on a snowy Saturday morning in December. With an empty diary and now doing my homework assignments it all feels good. Progress without pressure is what I think it is.

Friday, 3 December 2010

College Days

Since September I have been at college and don't they say that your college days are your happiest? But I am not sure that happiness is not attributable to plenty of indulgence, partying and general mayhem rather than being in an institution of learning, growth and potential opportunity. You can tell I am old and I am certainly the oldest in our class and in our department. And that probably includes the teachers too!

Over lunch yesterday I was asked by one of the youngest in our class of mature students (about 21 years old) what made me decide to become a beauty therapist and I regaled her with my mid life crisis at the beginning of this year and my complete career change. As part of that I spoke about how I felt so much better about how I looked for the very first time in my life and these very big tears pricked my eyes with appreciation. Big hugs were dished out to me and then I continued to tell how each of my friends had helped. This young person seemed so very interested in me and my business experience and shared what she wanted to do. It was amazing. And to think once upon a time I would have dismissed a beauty therapist as a bit of a bimbo airhead. Maybe I could joke and say maybe that is what I am but actually we learn so much and will be tested to the nth degree and must pass everything either 100% or pretty much up there. They have changed the standards this year to raise them so it is new territory for all the teachers and as such we have much more homework than I ever anticipated. Oh the joys of college life and fitting it in around running a home and a new business. But I would not change it for anything.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Writing from the heart

It is just after six thirty in the morning sat here having just showered and with my porridge bubbling gently on the cooker. With half a dozen flitting ideas for topics to write about I start, stop, erase and start again. Not happy with any of it and I realise that I am trying, and when you try the words just do not flow and they can sound contrived. At least to me they do when I write like that and this morning I am trying to sound intelligent or witty or something and that never works. Writing from the heart does work for me and having not written for such a long time I remember that is the case and is the best way for me. In any case, with a tight schedule and needing to leave in less than an hour to scrape the car and to get on with the day I am rather pushing it trying to be all creative.

Breakfast is to be eaten, a flask of coffee to be made and me looking like a professional is yet to achieved. Oh yes, each day is a lovely achievement just living it.

So there we are. The second day of December and I have written again. Wahey!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

December Dailies

In 2007 I took part in Holidailies where everyone tried to post a blog every day during December. I can not find a 2010 Holidailies project so I am attempting my singular attempt at December Dailies, which, considering I post just maybe a couple of times a year these days is a tad ambitious. Nevertheless, here I am, grateful for the year that has been for me so far and wanting to post some updates and tidbits.

December the first and my beloved advent calendars are out and the star is above the manger on one, and one of Santa's helpers stands waiting in Santa's grotto on the other. Yesterday snow fell and lay all about here and as I did not have any college or clients to run off to I ended up decorating the house for Christmas. It looks gorgeous with its pencil thin tree (saves on space) touching the ceiling bedecked with silver, grey, glass and mirror baubles graduating from medium size to tiny ones at the top, paper chains around the walls and fairy lights twinkling along the bookshelves. Scrooge of years gone by has gone and I am happy.

More snow this morning and I am rather cautious about my early morning trip to college and our cute country roads. It is fingers crossed, blankets packed in the car along with supplies and hopefully a hazard free trip.

A happy December to you.

Saturday, 19 June 2010


The day began with a communication from my mother once again waxing lyrical about my childhood. About the recordings of us as kids and me all laughing fit to bust. Along with the photographs we all knew we had to pose for, she has every evidence for our charming childhoods. The stains of our youth wrapped up in pretty gauze and ribbon. It stung me as I read and it bounced around my brain pointing a finger at me laughing.

The night before I had a new client and found myself agreeing to work in the smoky atmosphere of her house as she volunteered to open the windows and put on a fan. Two young women, soon expecting babies, and it is I who was bothered about the smell in case it gave me a headache. Then I am waxing eyebrows in a bad-for-me bending over position because I am working within her environment and not in my own carefully set out beauty salon. On the way home I realised how accommodating I had been and no longer wish to be in life.

Mixed in with my monthly hormones, by mid-morning, I was feeling a fist I so wanted to use against the world. Angry. This has to be a good thing that instead of my previous imploding I was turning my anger elsewhere. Pity son chose this time to question something I had said. His sixteen year old self not knowing where to draw the line and me getting angrier by the moment was not a pretty sight so by the time I reached over to get a sharp knife from the washing up son jumped back and I felt the world stop as even dearest Mr Doris looked on concerned. As angry as I was, I did know where to draw the line and just needed to cut up my lunch.

Two bars of chocolate later, and for someone who hasn't eaten that much sugar in six months, I was on my pre-booked train to London and quite high on a sugar-rush. A whole £4.99 spent on a glossy magazine with a freebie Celia Aherne novel, along with the two bars of chocolate. It was not until I was on a tube train and saw my headless reflection in the curved door that I felt a calm descend. Looking at my trim shoulders encased in a thin peacock blue cardigan atop a fitted fuschia top, and then a circular gingham skirt I looked quite striking. My bare legs set off with lovely toenails, a fashionable cuff (which I learned was so from the purchased glossy) on one wrist as my manicured fingers held onto the handle, giving the picture of a well looked after person. It was a moment of reflection that said I looked good and I had not needed to hide in a cave.

For two days I stayed with a friend and lived her life. She is blind and not "just" visually impaired but utterly and totally in the dark. No longer any light or shadows. No flickers. I watched as she washed up and sorted her fridge after the dinner she had prepared us. Darkness had fallen and the street lights shone just a little into the kitchen but I made no attempt to switch on the light. When she descended into the dark cellar to sort out her recycling for the collection the next day it really hit me the way she happily lives life and not only gets on but does some amazing stuff. Using public transport she gets across London quicker than a sighted person. Between her and her seeing dog, they know where all the tunnels are, where to turn to get to the lifts and how to make detours when some lines are closed. Using my eyes I couldn't work it out quicker than her.

On the Manchester bound train from London, several chapters into my Celia Aherne novel, the passing world absorbs my attention. Clouds heavy with greyness crowned with the late afternoon sun, float above green English hills. A wicker sculpture of a man fishing sits beside a pond, and cattle pose by water as if in a Constable painting. Passing by a distant country house, winding canals and old stone bridges as the chirrup-chirrup of someone's mobile in the next row along draws my attention to the fine suspension in the Pendolino train I am travelling as it tilts deeply into each bend and then straightens out. Reflecting on the Celia Aherne novel I had been reading and the child lost before it was even born and I wonder about my own children lost since their childhood. They are here or are around, but not the same sparkling eyes that looked back at me when they were little. Different eyes from different people. I feel like a bad mother floating with the clouds, inconsistent with my love and affection and there is simply no denying that. It just is.

At least I am returning with my passion softened and my anger gone. The hormones have done their work. Son's hired white tuxedo for his prom is delivered and I see him wearing it looking all delighted and happy with it. He went the whole hog and ordered up a fancy waistcoat and cane which along with his afro and dark skin he looks for all the world like some sharp pimp from a 1970s movie. I manage to crack a smile at him for a change.

The world revolves and I have to grow up. There are some good bits to me and there are some not so good bits. And just like the protagonist in the "Naughtiest Girl in the School" books, when she is good, she is very, very good and when she is bad she is awful. And that is okay.

Friday, 11 June 2010

A beautiful world

I have a brilliant new career as a beauty therapist. Who'd have thunk it. A career change within a few short  months and so wildly different to the geeky-making-websites-me. Little ole me being in demand already by paying clients and doing some very nice work. It has been a journey and a half, with confidence building being the tricky one, but I'm getting there. Anyone who sees me can just see the sparkles in my eyes and face.

In my previous post I might have been a little jubilant about developments with son and I have to say some days are not as bad as others. I look at the pictures of him when he was cute and his eyes twinkled back at me but I can not conjure up that person when I am with him and so he gets the grumpy me. And he is typically teenagerish and belligerent. Oh joys.

Big family get together tomorrow for a birthday. Clothes are ironed so son looks smart for a change and darling Mr Doris's hair has been trimmed and I have chosen which dress to wear. Looking fab on this occasion is important for me as I want to show off my trim new look, long hair and great skin. So it is an early one to allow the extra time for this beauty malarkey. Me shallow? Nah! Having fun though.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Jigsaws and Bridges

Another parental achievement deftly pulled off after more than a few months of teen angst. These successes have felt very few and far between with son constantly feeling "less than" and having "less than". Whilst any attempts from us to build him up have been rebuffed or minimised as he sunk deeper and deeper into Xbox giving lip service to all the homework and studying he reckoned he was doing for his GCSEs in a matter of months.

Today he is sweet sixteen. The "sweet" is an interesting adjective because he has been quite sweet this morning! As we are sending him paintballing with a few friends that is his main present, though now have negotiated postponing until the weather is just not so freezing or wet. Disappointing stuff when he wants everything and he wants it now. But if we spent all that money and it was just a disaster from beginning to end it would be a waste. With that backdrop trying to salvage something of his sixteenth was a challenge. A couple of days ago I was near one of those outlet centres where the prices were still not special enough, but  a sports shop had some great deals on clothes and for once I have chosen him a hoody and two tee shirts that he seemed genuinely pleased with, and then travelled round finding a store that sold zippo lighters. He had wanted one for his birthday, and although we had categorically said no, I knew he only wanted it to flick and light and he was neither into smoking or arson.

It was a huge measure of how much we trusted him after all, and I think he was pretty wrapped up with his little gifts. For me, with the difficult relationship I had with him since his drinking episode last summer, it was like a small wooden bridge had been created which he and I could both begin to make tentative steps across to the other. Feeling brave I launched into voicing an idea that involved him selling his Xbox and us putting the extra money towards either a customised skateboard or a BMX bike, and paying for him to go to one of the big skate parks once a month. Once I had clarified his paintball outing was safe and nothing to do with this, he actually embraced the idea. We'll talk some more about it when he comes home tonight, and has his chosen Chinese takeaway for his birthday dinner. He has gone off to school smiling and with a spring in his step. Gosh. My baby is growing up. And me too.

These last few months have been so very interesting in my life with little jigsaw pieces falling into place until, suddenly, the bigger picture has shown itself. And the extraordinary thing, for which I have been so especially grateful, is that each of these pieces have been borne by friends. A piece from November suddenly comes into it's own in February and so forth until what I have now is a very different  me having found a direction in my life and not just thinking or talking about but instead out there training and getting qualified and experienced. More about that another time as it is so amazing to me I want to travel just a bit further along the path before saying more.

Recent times have shown me as starting projects or activities with all the gusto necessary, theorised and explained as being right, and then melting away into another good idea. So that is a huge fear sitting there as to whether this is the same. Only time will show. Meanwhile I am doing things that I am feeling confident about to some extent, with only more practise needed. I am soaking up information and retaining it very easily, and generally everything is flowing so easily. That has to be a good sign.

Talking of travelling, I have some very exciting weeks ahead as I am honoured that I have been asked to accompany a dear girlfriend of mine to another country where she will have some important facial surgery. It will be another of life's adventures to be there for her through this time. On the flip side, I will not have been away from my darling Mr Doris for this long before so that will be an effort and a half but should make the reunion more special.