Posts Tagged ‘zen’

Run-up to Christmas ’08

December 24, 2008

Looks like our heroes are SOL.

A Christmas ornament box *shrug* That’s my seester and me in the photo.

If there’s one thing keeping community halls open in this country it’s the need of the British person (apparently) to hold fundraising events. These events have led to the evolution of a number of games that one must pay to play. We went to a village Christmas Fayre and came out with what are, I have to say, the worst Tombola prizes ever. The chocolate buttons would have been a winner, but for the fact that the box had obviously been opened already and hastily taped shut again.. I’m not sure what’s worse, the Miller beer Joseph won, or the scary finger puppet.

The household naughties in a moment of cute repose.

Nyny’s first choir concert! Look at her stance and her gaping mouth–she’s a natural! 🙂

My pear cheese! It’s got pear schnapps in it or something..I dunno, I saw it in a deli and just needed it!

This we did not need–a pork liver jelly. Afficionados of American 60’s-style Jello side dishes should take heart; their British cousins are keeping the beastly tradition alive and well.

The annual gingerbread day–this is the girls’ cake.

The boys’–I like the snow drifts. Also like Joseph’s bug cookies.

Me screwing up with the camera..looks sorta trippy.

Our Christmas tree (dur)

Owls are way better than angels. Besides, I stuck my swarovski (love) star on the leader.

Joseph appropriated the mantle to display the contents of his Lego advent calendar. I gave up trying to control the decor of the room not long thereafter–to be fair, Joseph has at least as much flair for that sort of thing as I do. He made a very nice little centrepiece with tree clippings and a little bird ornament.

Ha! Caught with a corm! If I haven’t said, we call those packing corn-based pellets ‘corms’..because we’re LOL-idiots. Mittens has been put on a diet and so has taken to inspecting our many packages for these things. He hoards them and snacks on them when he wants food. He also rips open bags of the corn-based cat litter when particularly desperate..poor fattypuss.

Look what we found in a junk shop in Perth! I’m a tacky SOB, so rather than paying the 6 quid to own a bit of my heritage, I just took a picture.

But we did buy these! James was dead impressed to find what he calls my new ‘titchy boots.’ They’re just like his army boots, but, er, titchy! 🙂

Trippy photo of the kids while we’re waiting for the panto to start. We saw The Snow Queen this year.

Merry Christmas from Dynarod–a big hole into the sewage system in the yard, which they won’t likely get to filling in until the new year. 😛

Joseph, defying the homeschooler stereotype of the anti-videogame household. Xbox Lego games are his primary holiday occupation (apart from actual Lego).

Nyssa, performing her primary occupation–devouring books.

Christmas cookie-making, as overseen by Mitu. The messy kitchen would be his fault. *cough*

Hope everyone has a lovely Christmas!

Meet Classroom Assistant Mittens

October 27, 2008

The economic downturn has meant some tough choices. The parents’ minds are obviously too bogged down crunching budget numbers so the kids needed a math tutor. This is what we could afford:

He’s a thoroughgoing professional.

“Let’s have a look here at your sums..”

“You’re doing it wrong. I don’t see why you think it’s so funny.”

“Your numbers look appalling. Borrow my straightedge.”

“What. Did you or did you not hire me to be the ass-istant??”

Sale at Purlescence..

October 12, 2008

I’ve had some very pretty Rowan yarn sitting around that I got at a huge discount (as it’s discontinued, meh) and the weather getting cool has reminded me that perhaps something made out of it would be very nice.

I found the pattern Alpine in the Rowan 42 magazine, and was contemplating having to buy the thing (they always cost £11 or so) when I came across a link to the pattern for free on Ravelry! If you make it up, note that the last stitch on row 37 should be K1, not K2.

I’ve made up one of the triangles. I think the yarn works rather well, though to get what I’ve worked out the measurements to be, I knitted 4 fewer rows. Shall see how it ends up fitting.

After doing one section on straight needles, my wrists were dying. A combination of too much typing, gardening, and such is just too much for the puny things, and the only 10mm circular needles I have are 1. much too short and 2. MIA. The UK lux knitting webshop Purlescence happened to have a sale on needles, so I picked up a few sets..

Some indian rosewood Colonials, 10mm

Coconut palm Lantern Moons, 12mm.

I got some 10mm dpns as well, as I’m always wishing I had some, some bag handles, a couple buttons..

A few other things..

Mitu shares my feelings about the news recently..

Gratuitous paw shot

We’ve tried to make Mittens any number of bespoke beds. This is what he goes for *sigh*

Or this, aw

The couch is also a part-time venue for war-making. *sighsighsigh*

That would be before they rounded up the pillows and all chaos ensued. This would be the real reason I try to keep non-essential items in the living room to a minimum.

Fringe ’08

September 29, 2008

As promised, I’ve been trying to catch up with the summer’s photos. I’ve become one of those annoying touristy people, always snapping pictures of things (albeit strange things usually), but I’ve found that if I take a picture I’m much more likely to remember some commentary on the lives we lead. I could scribble notes, but they get lost. And let’s be honest..photoless posts are a lot more tedious to read.

So, our first show of the season was a Star Wars-themed drama workshop for Joseph. He thought that was quite grand, so well done me. He generally gives me that ‘no thank you’ with the hopeful ‘please don’t force me to do this’ expression on his face when I suggest drama activities.

Then, once we managed finally to find the venue (a most awful little box constructed in a parking lot), we saw A History of Scotland in 60 Minutes or less, which was really really brilliant. The cast is just charming. I never would have thought of so many prop uses for a crappy Argos rolling clothing rail. We then found the next venue. The kids didn’t mind waiting, the reason for which you can see below:

There were bins of candy. Freee candeeeee.

The show itself was a sort of experimental dark comedy for children called ‘Shut Up Stupid.’ I thought, from the description, that it was going to be a semi-educational show that focused on the naughtier side of linguistics. It was, er, not. It was a play about a fantastically, violently dysfunctional couple. There were a lot of parents sort of looking around a few minutes into it, wondering if we were indeed in the right place. Now, I’m not one to talk down to kids, but I do believe certain forms of humour evolve at certain ages and wasn’t sure the kids would like it. They appreciated the absurdist elements, predictably, and had a good time so fair enough I suppose.

Our last show was Bale de Rua, a dance show put on by a couple dozen men and one female from Brazil.

Quite the venue.

Nyssa reveling in the rain.

It was fantastic. Joseph initially was really upset by the loud drumming and I hoped and hoped I could convince him to tolerate it, because Nyssa and I were really enjoying ourselves. The performance included elements of samba, hip hop, capoiera, break dance, interpretive dance, etc. etc. The following two videos are ones I found on Youtube of the group from their tour in Paris. The last one shows the opening number as we saw it in Edinburgh. Granted, it’s a crappy audience member video, but the music and smiling dancers make me quite happy, and the troupe in their trilbies and white suit jackets are quite, quite attractive.

Our next day in Edinburgh was less successful. We had a great deal of flooding in Scotland this summer, and this was Edinburgh’s day for it. This is a shot of the tracks I got on the way home:

The flooded tracks meant we got into and out of the station at a crawl, and we managed to miss Nyssa’s drama workshop, boo. We did have just enough time before the next show to run to Cafe Nero where the most notable occurrence was my not seeing the ‘no debit or credit cards’ sign and having to go find an ATM to pay for my coffee. We hustled to see the drama class’ proper adult theatre company put on a Star Wars-themed showing of Rapunzel. Honestly, it was painful. I didn’t know it was possible to mangle an American accent so badly, but there it was, plus bonus bravado. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if they hadn’t taken away my coffee.. In any case, the kids adored it, so I suppose it was worth going. I can’t remember what we did for the rest of the day, but I imagine it involved warm drinks and indoor activities. We tried to get a pre-rush hour train home, knowing how awful getting out of the city was going to be, and did succeed in getting home at a reasonable time.

The next week our day to Edinburgh was sort of a wash..sort of literally. My public transport alarms should have gone off as soon as we got on the bus:

Your eyes are not deceiving you..the floor of the bus, the first run of the day, is flooded. I should have known better. I told the driver I had heard that there was flooding on the way to Ladybank, where we were to catch the train. He said he hadn’t tried it yet. *sigh* So I paid him the money and we were off. A couple miles out and we practically needed oars.

At least Nyssa enjoyed the huge sprays of water hitting the window. Goof. We did make it to Ladybank. The bus pulled away, and we made our way to the station. We got as far as the parking lot when a Scotrail lady came and told us that there would be no trains. The way north to Dundee is flooded and there has been a landslide on the way south to Markinch. FFS. So we went to see about catching the bus to Edinburgh. We waited a couple hours until we were finally informed by those cripplingly uninformed people at Traveline that no buses would be coming either. We waited for a bus back home. We waited and waited. We dinked around in a town with only a corner shop to its name for a couple hours until we were informed that there wouldn’t even be any buses back home. How they managed to get us there in the first place was some great mystery to them. So, I grudgingly paid the £20 or so to get a taxi all the way back. I was a lovely storm cloud walking in the front door.

I was really disappointed because we had the kids’ expensive circus skills workshop booked, Nyssa and I were going to see Hair, Joseph and James were going to see some kid-oriented standup comedy, and then James was going to see a talk by one of his favourite authors, Iain M. Banks. Hoping I could salvage something, I rang around and around, trying to get a hold of someone at the circus company. They were kind enough to let me use the tickets for the next day’s workshops. Hooray! So I penciled in some other shows the kids and I could go to afterward and we tried once more to get into Edinburgh.

This time we were successful, on time even! It required my first navigation via Edinburgh’s city buses, and that wasn’t any trouble either. For the circus workshop we had to go to a Scout Camp on the edge of town.

Some definite contrast in scenery.

And now for some skills!

(I love the smile on his face!)

Joseph was really hesitant to come and try this stuff, but he put on his bravest face and he did it! He can be his own worst enemy at times and will cripple himself with self-doubt. Sometimes we have to be really mean and push him fairly forcefully, but so far he’s had no regrets and has more reasons to be confident. Fingers crossed that this sort of parenting doesn’t land him in therapy later..:P

The next show is something I picked because it was at the right time and looked intriguing. It is called Wheels of Life and is comprised of fantastical machines made by eccentric Russian sculptor Eduard Bersudsky (creator of the Millenium Clock Tower in Edinburgh’s Royal Museum) which are choreographed by Tatyana Jakovsyaka to sounds and music that is vintage, charming, frenetic, old worldly, at times a bit frightening.

Please, please look through this gallery and the other collections to see his ‘kinemats’ (kinetic sculptures). If nothing else, you’ll never have seen more unique repurposing of old sewing machines.

I adore this kinemat, called ‘Self-portrait with Monkey’, who moved along to a gorgeous, husky Russian folk song.

Our next stop was a production of Seussical the Musical put on by kids from an American high school in Utah, of all places. They were quite wonderful, the boy who placed The Cat, in particular. Horton had a beautiful voice, and his little bird friend was adorable. We hung around afterwards to chat with them, give our grateful congratulations, etc. It’s sometimes just nice to see Americans en masse. Not too often, mind. 😉

This face makes all the trouble of making her happy worth it.

A few other random things we saw..

African children singing and dancing and drumming in Jenners. No, the irony wasn’t lost on me, thanks.

The Fringe wouldn’t be the same without silver 80s dancing guy.

A more familiar sight, though far, far from home.

I dunno, a double-decker bus with learner plates struck me as funny.

Two nice enough girls being accosted by some creepy man.

Meeting Francesca Simon, the author of Horrid Henry, Nyn’s favorite series of books.

A more modern take on Highland Dance at the Royal Museum.

The weekend of the book festival friend Kirsten was hugely kind enough to take Nyssa and Joseph to her house for the night so James and I, gasp, could do something grownup. So we did–we saw Rich Hall (who made fun of my coming from Idaho..which is really something as he comes from Montana, generally seen by us as the hick neighbors, but I digress) who I adore and Jimmy Carr, who was actually a bit obnoxiously offensive. I must be getting old. Particularly as we left early due to a guy behind us making life unbearable. Imagine the most grotesque, nightmarish snoring you’ve ever heard. Translate that into a laugh, plug it into an amp and sit right in front of it. It was either leave or get myself arrested for assault. Fortunately, we had a nightclub sort of event to go to in the very same building, bless. I danced for ages to vintagey music and James, er, drank Moscow Mules and watched all the very pretty people. After that we bought crepes from a street vendor and, oh my goodness, went to a hotel without kids in tow. I ordered a huge room service breakfast. Our now very funny-seeming end to our day was stopping into the Bank of Scotland museum. I took a long look at the big engraved chart showing its history of acquisitions and changings of hand, haha. I love morbid hindsight. James had wanted to visit for a while, so I suppose it’s good that he did before the place shut down. I can’t imagine they’re going to keep it open and rename it the Lloyds TSB Museum of Buying Up Scotland’s Fiscal Heritage…

Oh yes, on a slightly less dour note (sorta), James and I did hang out in the National Museum for a while. There was a special exhibition on life in the Arctic North. I took this picture of a picture to show the kids when they start whining about their chores:

Scaredy People Don’t Look

September 23, 2008

Hehe. It’s those black eyes what steal your soul.

Crieff and suchlike

September 9, 2008

The kids’ grandparents were nice enough to let James and I tag along on their holidays with the kids. We weren’t able to go for more than a couple days, due to James’ work and Joseph’s prescription fiasco (still don’t have it, btw), but it was nifty to get out of town.

The place we stayed in Crieff was something else. It was the tower flat in the St. Ninian’s church conversion (see link)–that’s right; for two days I had a tower! Buahahahaha. I did plot mightily the myriad ways I could use such a lair. I need one now.


My superstar in front of the building. They had a trippy color-changing LED light thing. Was very tacky and cool.

Window and chair in our bedroom.

A feature I was NOT impressed with. Why am I gasping? Forget that this was a wetroom and all the unpleasantness that entails–this window, beautiful though it was, did not block people from outside peeking in from the bedroom. If you’ve lived with James, you’ll know why this is neurosis-inducing. If you look carefully, you’ll see not one, but two naughty faces depriving me of privacy. I’m not impressed with Joseph for succumbing to James’ teachings.

Nyn enjoying the trippy tower.

On the road to Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest ‘mountain’.

I’m not sure what I was doing, probably grinning and saying, “Whaaaaaat?” I’ve been overly fond of photographing James since the beard went (YAYAYAYAY). He doesn’t share my enthusiasm.

On the gondola. Aint he cute? I can see why he’s a bit paranoid people will think he’s a lot younger. Maybe it’s my age, but I have no sympathy. Only, as evident in the picture, an apparent inability to keep my hat on my head.

The view from the top. Have to say, this sort of scenery doesn’t do anything for me. In fact, apart from farmland and forests, not much about the Scottish scenery is that exciting to me, visually. I think I’ve sussed it out–it’s the color scheme. I don’t like yellowed greens. I really really don’t. They remind of things that are unpleasant. It occurs to me now the reason perhaps that those strange sort of colors always end up in Rowan tweed yarns. The air is also fairly oppressive–for the most part there’s a sort of haze that washes out the color, at least to my eyes. It’s like I’ve not seen anything clearly since I moved abroad. Yes I’ve had my eyes checked. Yes, I’m also probably overstating the point. It just makes me happier still with our house, as our view is over stone walls and wheat fields and trees that are dark green for the most part. The rain and haze just make them more picturesque.

I think the gondola workings are pretty interesting to look at. Thinking about it detachedly helps me forget that I’m about to willingly step onto a glorified zip wire.

Neener neener.

My lazy, surly kids. Hehe.

Jamie’s cunning new way to torment and confuse monitor the cats when we’re not at home: the USB Missile Launcher with Integrated Spyscope Webcam. He can log into it remotely from anywhere he has an internet connection. I’ll let your imaginations run wild. Poor kitties.

The kids are now in Nairn with the grandparents, hopefully having seen porpoises yesterday! I’d be jealous, except that I know how windy and cold it probably is out on the water. I’m such a wimp.

Friday I’ll be going with Kosmic (more interesting than just K, and she’ll surely know I’m talking about her, buaha) to the Learning Without Limits conference. They’ve managed to snag John Taylor Gatto as keynote speaker, which is quite something. It also means there’s been a lot of interest outside our little homeschooler network. Have I actually read Dumbing Us Down…, etc.? No, but I can appreciate reputation I suppose. It will also be funny to see the mommy worship. Should make cheeky fandom t-shirts or something. Pfft.

Other than that, not really doing much. When the weather is nice I work in the garden, and when it’s not I work on gutting Nyssa’s room. Ugh. Speaking of Nyn, I’ve taken delivery of most of the presents we’ll be giving her:

She’s still got a CD player coming as well as a few other small things, along with all the mountains of things she gets from her adoring family. Is she not utterly spoilt? The Sylvanian set is actually very, very cute. It’s from the Japanese range and is a little house with a cafe on the front. Sort of ideal for her, really. Also got her a little juice bar, a teeny sewing machine, a wee bureau..hee hee. I do wonder how much of this is my living vicariously through Nyn the childhood with all the toys I would have wanted…ah well.

Speaking also of gardening, I plucked a pretty orange flower the other day and wondered what else I might come up with for a bouquet. I was quite impressed at the variety of things I found!


August 18, 2008

Look at what they’re bringing back! The Banana Splits!


I love that it’s such news that it made the BBC most popular stories linklist. I will be watching teh youtubes with anticipation. Damn Freeview and its lack of Cartoon Network.


Don’t piss off a math geek

July 27, 2008

An amusing link from a math home-ed list: click.

Hehehe. Makes me want to pay my gas bill in Esperanto.

Some of this and that..

July 22, 2008

Hard to believe, but we’ve just about been in the house 2 weeks. The sky high pile of boxes behind me seems to indicate otherwise. Mostly things are fine, just little niggles. Like the gardener who doesn’t clean up his clippings. Or the leak in the downstairs bathroom. Or this:

We were left a gift by the former tenants. The washer wouldn’t drain properly, so I dug around in the pump filter and pulled out about a week’s worth of bus fare, a key, and other assorted goodies. And this was after I had cleaned out rusting metal shards from the rubber whatsit next to the door. If I die of lockjaw, you know who to pin it on. Ugh.

On to nicer things..

Possibly the most ridiculous thing we’ve come up with yet–taking our cat for a walk. Thing is, we feel bad that they look so desperate to explore outside and they’re too crap to be outdoor cats. Surely we can train them to walk on a lead. Surely? Mitu has been the bravest. On his first attempt he did explore the perimeter of the house, and we were encouraged in our lunatic idea. But then the next time he just kept bolting back inside. I think we might need to enlist the help of tuna.

I love catching the kids in ‘ARGH!’ moments. James made Joseph a CD of Star Wars music..but made the first track ‘Zurg’s Planet’ from Toy Story, which Joseph is decidedly *NOT INTO* anymore. Hahahahaha.

When I picked up this log, I was so enchanted with the myriad assorted sizes of Roly Poly bug that lived on it that I went to get the camera. I got back and there weren’t any on it anymore. I think this visitor to our yard might have something to do with it..

You see the landscape whizzing by? We are on a highway. I worry for the mental health of our bus drivers.

Just around the hills from our place is a brilliant organic farm and wee shop called Pillars of Hercules. Now being an area resident I couldn’t wait to start volunteering. This morning was our first go, and aside from Joseph being extremely unimpressed by our 7am wake-up time and his allergies being fairly nasty, it was a lovely morning. These are my two children in the broad bean patch.

I have many beans.

I adore this photo. And so many people will enjoy the beans we picked. 🙂 Afterwards we were asked to pick some blackcurrants. Poor Joseph was so hay fevery that he was holding a kleenex to his nose with one hand and trying to sort berries with the other. I thought that perhaps was a bit too organic (ew..) so retired him for the day. The bell rang shortly thereafter, and we went in for a very nice tea break. Someone made me a cappucino and spoiled the kids with organic sodas and we all had toast with set honey. All the workers sat around a rough-hewn table and it was just very, very pleasant. Hopefully we’ll make it once a week or so.

Organic farm kitty.

That’s my girl, showing off the John Deere. That’s her having-just-said-‘Aww Yeah’ face.

I didn’t take this, found it on a google image search for Strathmiglo. It’s nice to live in a place pretty enough that you’d look for a picture of it to use as your desktop wallpaper.

That 7am wake-up time is catching up with me. *yawn*

Girl you know it’s true..

June 30, 2008 friend is so rad. Seriously, have a look at my birthday present from K!

She has fashioned a bowl and plate and gift box out of a Milli Vanilli double album–that she had in her attic! I’m just so overwhelmed that not only did she make something so freaking cool for me herself, but she would have remembered whatever random conversation we had in which I would have indicated the influence of this band in my formative years. 😀

Lots of other random things, beginning with:

an instance of cute..

..followed by an instance of WTF McGyvering. Any ideas what this is? The yarn should be a clue. It’s a ghetto DIY yarn swift! How to make: get a camera tripod, a drill, and a gently sloping circular laundry basket. I think you can figure out the rest. Because the tripod is so short, I did also need a small end table. It works stupid well.

I told Joseph to make an ‘unimpressed’ face.

Speaking of unimpressed, I know it’s unhealthy to fan the flames of resentment that ever burn within me, but I need to vent. You’ve all been bowling, you’ve all strategically placed your shopping bags and children to help conceal from the staff the fact that you’ve refused to wear their funky-ass shoes (right? have I become too OCD?), and I know you’ve all latched on to the one special ball they have that is a reasonable weight, doesn’t pop all your fingers when you bowl, and doesn’t smell of mystery grease. Well, you can imagine my ire when the wee boy in the following photo stole my ball! Let’s forget for a moment that the combined children of our party had hoarded 20 or so on our own racks. Why did he have come and take mine?!

Just to rub it in, Turd Boy’s mum handles my ball! Later she had the gumption to come ask for one of our ramps. I plotted ways to save my ball, but alas I’m only inwardly nervy. So instead I creepily took photos of them.

My ball..

So, on to less insane things..

Or not..this cake makes me weep with squee:

Your initial impression of this tool may be as mine, that it looks fairly lame. But pick a couple colors and see what eye candy comes up. It generates a selection of flickr photos that have been labelled as ‘interesting’ that include your choices. Pretty fun. Found a good wallpaper that way anyway.

This article, posted by the Humanist Society Scotland on the positions of various political parties with regard to education, is interesting. I can sum it up fairly quickly. It covers issues such as secularism, religious practice, diversity, ethics, and creationism. Scottish Government’s position: how quickly they’ve learned to speak cop out! Greens, Liberal Democrats, and Socialists: thank you for being mostly reassuring that all in government is not insanity. Conservatives: predictably, ugh. Labour: ha, didn’t bother to comment at all. Telling? *sigh*

It’s almost 3 in the morning and I have a full day of shopping tomorrow. Not the fun kind. The ‘oh shit, this is my last free day before the move’ kind. Where we’re moving everything must be mail order or acquired with the help of public transport. That said, our new ‘shopping town’ is going to be Perth, a definite improvement I’m hoping.