I haven’t mentioned yet that Ros and I have had to move out of our house. We moved out on Friday, actually. Our house has got mould. I’d wondered if we had for a while now, since my repeated attempts with air purifiers and HEPA-filter vacuums haven’t decreased my sneezing and allergies one bit. I was beginning to suspect that it wasn’t just dust that I was allergic to. And then mushrooms started growing in the bathroom…

Fortunately, unlike the bedbug incident, my landlords this time have been great (surprisingly so) and we’ve been put up in a guest house down the road. I was worried that they would blame the mould on us — that we weren’t airing out the bathroom enough or whatever — but when they tore up the shower the mould was so bad that it was clearly a problem that predated our move into the house. Thank goodness? We don’t know how long it will take to fix, which isn’t something I like to think about very much. Hence you’ve been getting book posts. They’re easy to write.

The good thing is, though, the place where we’re staying has a really lovely garden and a cat. Miss Amber Eyes, I call her, though her name is actually Toffee. She’s very friendly and has already taken to running to me with little chirrups. (Focusing on the silver lining here, as you can tell.)

Isn’t she pretty? And the garden is nice to sit in, too. Continue reading

Our Garden, Part 7

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about the garden. It’s also been a long time since I’ve been in my garden. While Ros was kindly making dinner I went out to reacquaint myself. I am amazed at how things grew in the three weeks I’ve been away. I came back into the house with a marrow and four courgettes (a.k.a. zucchini), two of which Ros promptly added to our dinner.

One of the sunflowers has bloomed en masse: at least six heads, if not more. The other sunflowers are starting to bloom, too. The corn stalks are growing stoutly despite the Scottish climate, and the pumpkins are stretching out their long vines.The rhubarb has recovered from whatever it was suffering from last month and we now have a new supply of rhubarb. Most impressively, the courgettes have turned into a jungle.

Courgettes will now become a staple in our diet. Ros is dreaming of quiche and I’m thinking of zucchini bread. Yum. The blackcurrant bush is ripe and Ros harvested some to make crumble. Soon I will be making chutneys with our courgettes and blackcurrant jam.

At long last

With JuNoWriMo only 10 days away, I decided to finally put my room into order. I know, it’s only taken me nine months to finish moving into my bedroom, but there you have it. Hoovering, dusting, filing, hanging up the clock I bought months ago, posting pictures on the bulletin board – it was a day for being industrious. My room now is the cleanest, most organised it will probably ever be. And the desk – at last – is actually at a point where I can use it.

My folklore books will be at hand; the postcards used as inspiration for the previous two WriMos I’ve done in Scotland are arranged on the board, along with a NaNoWriMo guilt monkey ready to make sure I write.

More on JuNoWriMo as we draw closer to June – I’ll only say now that I’m really excited for it and my mind is bubbling with ideas…

Mischief Managed

Months ago, Ros told me about a dream she had (‘nightmare’, she says) in which she woke up one morning to find that I had covered the kitchen with chalk board and written to-do lists for myself…

Waking up to a nightmare...

Very big sunflower! Teeny tiny daffodil.

The inside reads, 'APRIL FOOLS!'

The other cupboards were covered, too… After Ros got over the initial shock (she had, after all, only just woken up when she saw it, and doubted that she was fully awake), she thought it was quite funny.

I do hope my previous housemates from Oxford approve…

Sunday evening

A quiet evening at home features Ros marking essays at the table and me knitting in my chair, both of us listening to The Phantom of the Opera (film) soundtrack, and mostly singing along. She sang soprano and I sang tenor (as much as I could, anyway). It was a lot of fun.

On Housework

I veer between not minding housework and hating it. I’m currently in the latter phase and have been for quite some time. Really, tidying the kitchen and taking out the trash and hoovering the floor shouldn’t be all that much, but my heart sank at the effort of it. I did it anyway (well, not hoovering, but I cleaned the toilet), which is better than say, three or four months ago.

It amazes me how much effort is needed to keep up a certain level of tidyness — and yes, I might have a more meticulous standard than most for my own living space, no doubt from living in quite small spaces (e.g., a single room of dwindling size) for six of  the past eight years — especially when one has a full-time PhD, an avid reading habit, choir rehearsals, skype dates, a knitting hobby, never-ending appointments at the hospital, and now my GP wants me to add swimming or running or yoga in. I’m holding things together, just, when really all I want to do is sleep, because holding things together by sheer force of will is exhausting.

All this to say, I haven’t a clue how my friends with families manage it all. Melinda, Rebecca, Casey, and Anna with her menagerie to boot! Keeping up a house is a full-time job in itself, let alone being a parent (or soon-to-be), too. In case no one’s told you recently, you’re incredible and amazing, and not just because you manage to feed multiple mouths and wash dishes. And before you say that some days are worse or better than others, even doing what needs doing is cause for admiration, because heaven (and Ros) knows how difficult I can find even that.

Thank goodness my mum arrives tomorrow. I still don’t have a hang of this whole ‘grown-up’ thing.

Ladies of letters

I fear that our house is quickly becoming the Penguin House:

Not only do we have a poster of Penguin Books hanging in our sitting room; courtesy of Ros’s box of 100 Penguin Postcards (I want one, too!), each of the rooms in our house now has a particular book: Plats du jour (or Foreign Food) by Patience Gray and Primrose Boyd, Dangerous Curves by Peter Cheyney, Civilization by Clive Bell, Mantrap by Sinclair Lewis, and Hotel Splendide by Ludwig Bemelmans. They were put up with a tremendous amount of irony…