scribbles tagged ‘list-o-philia’

exhaust

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

International relocations are exhausting. The most emotionally disruptive, painful, experiences are consistent:

  1. Ensuring minimum disruption and pain for the cats. This move meant rehoming Sampo. Made me very unhappy, but the best thing for her. No more cats in the Wendy home for the foreseeable future.
  2. Saying ‘goodbye’ to people in the country that have been strong friends. Visits, small gatherings.
  3. Selling my car. I always get emotionally attached to my car and the process of selling this big, expensive, mechanical item is ‘fiddly’.
  4. Going to the airport. Leaving the UK I’ve always taken someone on the flight with me which eases this pain. Leaving the USA was a very lonely experience.
  5. Seemingly infinite sorting and packing detail decisions. Will someone want this? Should I take it to a thrift store, should I keep it? Will this go in the sea shipment, air shipment, checked baggage, hand baggage? Will it fit?
  6. Selling my house (home), Realtors, Solicitors, buyers etc. Surprising that this somehow seems less stressful than the others. I’ve been lucky in each of my International moves. Selling to move within the UK was always more stressful, probably because of always being in a ‘chain’.
  7. Buying a home. This is actually fun and I’m normally able to calibrate myself well to the market to find what I want given what’s on offer. Nonetheless the logistics and timing of the process is often a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

I’m looking forward to some peace in my home life. It will come about 2 months after I’ve moved into my (to.be found) new home. Maybe March 2015.

The new Wendy House will not be a house, it will be a loft apartment…   …exciting!


what do you think of that »

piles

Thursday, September 25th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

Fewer, shorter and lower quality blog posts as pre-move activities churn the wendy house into piles of pre-move things. The meaning of the many emerging piles is not obvious to the innocent bystander, but I know they are for:

  • Trip to the local tip
  • Gift to local charities store
  • For family
  • Paper recycle (the bin outside my house fills quicker than it’s collected)
  • Some one I know must want this, I should ask around
  • Must sort out this pile  – it’s not going back into the cupboard or under the bed until everything’s been fully assessed

That innocent bystander is probably guilty of something and their dudes will involve having to deal with their befuddlement. My above mentioned piles have joined the normal collections of things that need to be

  • Washed
  • Ironed (I now pretend to be a proper business person in a shirt)
  • Put away (filed, drawered or hung)
  • Read

 


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Sampo instruction manual

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Basic interactions

  • Cautious. Ignore her and she’ll come to within an arms length of you – stroking distance
  • Companiable. She likes to be in the same room as everyone else, out of reach, where she can see and hear but not be ‘hassled’. She’s companionable in a cautious way.
  • Picking her up. Not easy. She doesn’t like it. With me she’ll tolerate it for a few minutes. I’ll pick her up, stroke her then put her down before she starts to struggle. Best to pick her up when she’s dozing in a favourite place before she’s fully awake to run away.
  • Toys. Her favourites are small balls, she’ll watch string and ribbons but rarely really goes to the kill
  • Night singing. In the evening, sometimes at night. She will wander empty rooms ‘calling’ in a deep howling sound. As if she’s calling her kittens to her. I normally let her call a few times then call back. She reacts by running to me in an excited way then we have an intensive stroking session as if she’s pleased and relieved to have found me.
  • Other cats. She is fascinated by them, likes to watch them. Is terrified when there is no ‘glass’ between her and them. One neighbours cat gave her nightmares and made her jumpy for days. She hasn’t learnt that her sheer size makes her scary. She doesn’t chase them off, but she runs after them when they’ve runaway from me!
  • Tail wagging. She uses her tail to express her emotions. Very cute, almost like a dog! She chases her tail when she’s bored or frustrated
  • Chatting. When I come home after a trip she will ‘chat’, meow, for 10 to 30mins depending on how long I’ve been away. She also chats when she wants me to go to bed or something is happening (another cat in the garden). She’s used to this being a ‘conversation’ she meows, I imitate her…  …feels good to me, I think she likes it too

Bodily functions

  • Food. She appears to have a poor sense of smell, she doesn’t react to catnip, cheese, fish or fresh meets. I’ve tried her on all sorts of cat ‘treats’ she doesn’t seem to react to any of them. Prefers dried food. She’s used to being fed twice a day (8am, 7pm)  on dry food. She prefers her water to be placed on her normal house roaming route rather than by her food. In my house this turns out to be on the landing or in the hallway. She does drink out of the toilet if the lid is left up.  She likes to eat spiders, flies and butterflies. Spiders are fun.
  • Regularity. She’s fairly regular within an hour or so of eating. She likes to be fed around 6am but can be ignored
  • Sight. Laser lights?  She doesn’t appear to see them, don’t bother
  • Sound. She is more sensitive to sounds than the average cat. Talk softly to her and she’ll warm to you
  • Sheds. Loves to be brushed. Needs to be brushed. Moults more than the average cat. The sound of running your hand over the brush will normally bring her running towards you.
  • Sleep. She likes me to go to bed around 10pm. She goes to my bedroom and starts calling me. If I ignore her she comes downstairs and starts walking on and around me. She’s used to sleeping on the bed with me at night

Equipment

  • 6 beds. I mainly use these to reduce the amount of cleaning in the places she likes to sleep
  • Green chenille throw. Once it was nice, then she got her claws into it. When I put one of her beds on it she prefers to sleep next to her bed on the throw
  • Scratching post. She likes to run to this, and around it. Its as much about being a toy as a scratching post
  • Jute hall rug. Her clear enjoyment of lying on this has made it hers
  • Clockwork feeder. Good for weekend trips away
  • Continuous food dispenser. For 3 night trips
  • 2 carry cases. One is the case she flew into Britain in. I find it too big for standard vets trips because she’s so heavy. The wicker basket works well to take her to the vet for her annual check-up
  • Micro chips. She has 2 microchips in her neck, a USA and a European standard chip. They were used to record her rabies status, and the USA one is associated with a long since unused website that has my Seattle address registered as owner. Only a USA vet can change this.  I’ve let her rabies vaccinations lapse.
  • Balls. For fun, I’ll bring her current collection with her
  • Brush. Only the one at the moment. Probably good to have a few. Always brush her outside because of the sheer volume of fluff generated
  • Nail clippers. She actually bites her nails, keeping them short herself. This is a good way of her cleaning her teeth. I check them every now and then by stroking her when she’s next to me then quickly whipping out the clippers and doing a claw at a time. For some reason she seems to be fairly tolerant of this as if she knows it makes her life more comfortable

 


1 wonderful musing »

picture this

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

International relocation info graphic


3 bits of fabulous banter »

Moving decisions

Monday, April 28th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Minneapolis city skyline at dawn I’ve been driven around different desirable areas in Minneapolis (thanks Peggy Pearl!) and will get some home choosing advice from a professional realtor. For now, these are the things influencing my likely choice of Wendy House in Minneapolis.

Warehouse conversion in downtown Minneapolis as a home because:

  1. Meeting neighbours.  Making friends, in lifts, in corridors, in the shared facilities – garden, gym, swimming pool, garage, other social spaces
  2. Managing structural maintenance. Apartments have management companies. I won’t need to find, interview service providers and make arrangement to let them have secure access then check their work and follow-up if there are any problems.
  3. Size appropriateness: Not too big, not too small, not too many bathrooms to clean, no huge basement or loft to fill with stuff that I don’t need or use. Under the bed is enough space for unused stuff….
  4. No snow shovelling to get my car out. A warehouse apartment must come with some form of covered, maintained garage.
  5. In home Sampo care. Some apartments provide a service for caring for your pet while you’re away
  6. Walking places. The sidewalks downtown will allow me to walk to places (temperature permitting) like a range of restaurants, shops and galleries
  7. Bus services nearby. The Minneapolis bus services were pretty good, the city centre provides a central hub enabling me to get all over the place easily, not just use the ‘local’ route that goes through the village.
  8. More people like me. Single, no children living with them and elderly.

Arts and Craft’s house in a village style location in suburbia as a home because:

  1. Commute time and traffic. My work place is in a suburb with some very nice villages within easy distance with relatively light traffic (compared to Berkshire or Seattle)
  2. Can’t hear neighbours. I love living in a detached home, though I’ve had a lucky history in town homes (terraced housing)
  3. Garden for Sampo. Sampo has always been an indoor cat, but she does enjoy a wander in the current Wendy House garden and watching the other cats and birds play there
  4. Property space for the price. I can get more square footage for my dollar. Feels like more of an ‘investment’.
  5. Gardening. The relaxing pleasure of planning, planting, caring for,  and watching my own garden grow

Have I missed anything that you think it’s important to consider? How would you rate the value of things. Not hearing the neighbours is a fairly weighty requirement…


3 bits of fabulous banter »

Sated sofa search

Saturday, April 26th, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

sofaI bought my first sofa aged 31 in 1994. At £899.00 it was a BIG purchase. Only the house and car cost more. We visited many sofa shops, we asked friends, we searched online. I saved up for a year and we used interest free credit for 3 years. It was a cast iron frame, hand made, sofa bed. I loved that sofa, it was so comfortable, in forest green, mustard and rust colours. The sofa moved several houses with me and eventually went to Seattle.

After 10 years of intensive use, in 2004, it looked its age. The arms had faded, the pattern was dated. It was still awesome to sit and sleep on, but I’d tired of it. I tried selling it on Craigslist as an imported, handmade classic British sofa. But even for $50.00, there were no takers. Eventually I got to a point where I was grateful that someone just took it away. It left to adorn a nice fellow’s mountain cabin porch where his Great Dane would enjoy lounging on it.

I’ve procrastinated on buying another sofa since then. 10 years of procrastinating, that deserves some kind of award. Close friends have pointed out that a front room without a comfortable sofa is not really good enough. I’ve got individual chairs, I’ve got a 17th century ‘Settle’, I’ve got a love seat. There are places to ‘sit’ comfortably. But a sofa seems a social necessity.

sofaSince moving back to the UK I’ve been searching. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to my search for a sofa. I’ve sat and bounced on sofa’s in stores, on my own and with friends. This has helped me to refine my awareness of my sofa purchase criteria to:

  • Enough room for a cat to run underneath it
  • Enough room for a vacuum cleaner to run underneath it
  • Classic or innovative design
  • A  tight proportion of seat-space to sofa-size. No big arms or areas not used for sitting-on
  • Plush, something that says ‘luxury’
  • I can fall asleep on it (sat-upright and lying down)
  • It can fit through my cottage front door and round the immediate hallway corner
  • Must tone in with my golden and orange Persian rug

Finally I took my credit card to Bright of Nettlebed and commissioned a 2.5 seated Coleridge with claw and ball mahogany legs, feather seat cushions. The photograph was taken in the Nettlebed showroom. I’ve placed my choice of fabric over the back.  The gold is a thick thread that has a delicate pattern as part of the weave using different textures. The orange thread is thick, like a dense chenille. It reminds me of the

  • Designs of Charles Rene Macintosh
  • Warmth of fire
  • Symmetry of Japanese designs
  • Gentle curves of nature.

The sofa will arrive in August… …when they’ve made it.


3 bits of fabulous banter »

because my minutiae are fab

Thursday, January 17th, 2013 | tags:  |

A selection of tweets you’ve missed because for some reason, that I haven’t quite fathomed, you’re not following my awesome self on twitter: @WendyHouse

  • Getting distracted from work by imagining the back stories to these requests for information http://www.whatdotheyknow.com
  • Ready to date…   ….Fig and walnut
  • Defrosting archaic frdige. My hidden talents from the 1960’s are multitudinous
  • “I can hear your voice like real in my head when I read the emails you sent me”  But I’d never sent her any emails.
  • My voice was captured by Cornish piskies. Negotiations for its return are ongoing. Inbetween floods.
  • I washed my dreams in a hot white cycle. Distracted, I left them fermenting in the machine. Now a scent of garlic taints my aspirations

what do you think of that »

Good kit: BRONZE highlight

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Yay! The awards for highlights of our teams’ recent Snowdonia hiking trip starting in reverse order start with 3rd place:

Bronze winner: Good kit

pathway across the screeThere was good kit all over the place. Good kit made people feel happy, warm, dry, loved and wrapped in just oodles of lusciousness. The key good kit that got hugs galore from me included:

  • Boots – that fit (NO BLISTERS), are waterproof (Goretex), green and by Berghaus in 1995. The hike guides had insightfully bought some compede plasters along to ward off blisters for the few people did suffer.
  • Jacket – early Sprayway goretext (DRY) in a rather fetching royal blue from 1995. Between us we managed a full rainbow of colours
  • Daypack – hung low on my hips carrying lots of yummy food, drink and holding emergency warm gear.  On the two times that I fell over I landed on my bum and this 2004 Arcteryx bum bag gave me a wonderfully soft landing.
  • Flapjack – sticky-sweet and freshly made by LargeOutdoors staff Saul and Gareth at the Hostel. Everyone enjoyed the benefit of the flapjack, no hike should leave home without some good home cooking that includes honey!
  • Welsh water – Oh my! The water in wales tastes SO good! I wish the suppliers would do a deal with Thames water.
  • Outstanding guides – the LargeOutdoor guide, Sian, was a local Welsh lass who really knew how to herd a large group of inexperienced hikers through the basics of outdoor health and safety and make sure their spirits are kept high.
  • Excellent company – friendly adults of all ages. I mainly work with people in their 30’s so it was really refreshing to meet some more plucky ladies in thier late 40s. Yoga teachers, Engineers, Working in Child protection services, Project managers…. all sorts…

This experience achieved ‘3 Smiles’ :)  :)  :) on the Wendy House rating scale –  Ratings explained

I hope that you’ll agree that this highlight feels all the more fabulous when set against the scurrilous backdrop of the recently winning downsides:


2 bits of fabulous banter »

cushion cover creativity

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

Ready to sew Finished bench cushion cover I kicked a bedspread into bench-cushion-cover shape during the long bank holiday weekend!

Not a trivial achievement:

  • getting all the bits to mumzie’s house (where the sewing machine lives)
  • working out how to cut-the bedspread so the patterns line-up sensibly on the cushion cover
  • threading the sewing-machine (including loading and installing the bobbin)
  • cutting the bedspread, pinning it together in the right arrangement
  • troubleshooting the elderly sewing machine idiosynchracies while putting my foot to the pedal – vrrrrrroooooom
  • clearing up the debris from the table, floor and up my not insubstantial nose

1 wonderful musing »

Pop goes the weasel

Monday, March 19th, 2012 | tags: , ,  |

(warning: long budgety scribble heavily influenced by Excel)

Money’s not yet too tight to mention, but the UK budget announcements on Wednesday may tip the balance for many people . The average UK salary is near £26,000 per annum. I’m lucky enough to earn more than average, a ‘middling’ salary that helps me support my 1st luxury of living alone in a house that demonstrates my detachment. My purchase-ability has been steadily dropping since returning to England in 2007. My expenses have also steadily dropped. I am lucky enough to be able to live within my means, and like most people, my means are systematically shrinking

Once my salary has gotten into my bank account this is approximately how it leaves:

50% on home mortgage and insurances

Ground Floor PlanMy 4th mortgage. Each home more gorgeous than the last. This upscaling is why, after 20 years, I still only own half of my home. Some friends  have repaid their mortgages because they’ve lived in one house for a long time. In Reading town I’m primarily paying a premium for living near a station with a 25 minute one-stop commuter ride to London. Spending this money is both a ‘basic’ because I need a home and a luxury because I could rent, or live further from London,  in a place that would only take 25% of my salary.  Being able to  choose to live here and invest in ‘property’ makes me feel like I am a rich person

6% on home services

Water rates, electricity, gas, council tax for local services like rubbish disposal, police etc

12% on home maintenance and improvements

Replacing broken equipment (e.g. washing machine) paying for plumbers, electricians, roofers, cleaning equipment,  painting equipment and plants

12% on transport

Thomas V2Being able to travel any way other than on foot feels like a luxury. My 2nd big luxury expense is tanking Thomas for petrol, insurance, servicing and parts. Some money goes on public transport for holiday journeys like my train ride down to St. Ives at Christmas

10% on health, food and appearance

Toast, marmite, tea, socks, pants, shampoo etc  The stuff that makes up most of my weekly shops

10% on entertainment, friends and family – mainly eating and drinking

Pub and phone boxYAY! My 3rd luxury – a fabulous regular expense that brings me a lot of happiness….

0% on savings

Um never really managed to save. I have managed to get ‘Savings’ this happened when I started jobs that paid ‘Bonuses‘ for good performance – in 2000. This amount is nothing like the size of Bankers bonus! Normally, It could cover the cost of an extra pint of beer a week.

 

Before my salary gets to my bank account a lot is deducted in tax and:

20% on pension

I got my first job after completing my PhD in 1991. Having missed years of making pension contributions, which meant I had some catching up to do. I started by contributing 15% of my salary to my pension in1991. As pensions have become less reliable and effective saving schemes, I’ve increased my contribution to 20%

 

What do you do? How do families with only one income cope?  How do couples use the extra income that joint expenses release?  How can families earning less than average income afford to provide for children?

How will the budget affect you?


5 bits of fabulous banter »

upping the sparkle quotient (part 1)

Thursday, March 1st, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

(WARNING: BORING – this is a DIY story)

  1. Paint tester potsDecide on a colour – Deciding what colour to paint the hallway and bathroom has taken 4 years. 4YEARS! Currently the bathroom is white – too clinical and boring. The hallway is a pale custard-yellow. Too insipidly polite for my taste.  The colours I like are too dark for these rooms which have small or north facing windows. Then INSPIRATION! –  during a particularly dark dream about people being abducted (for their body-parts on the healthcare black market) from an Opium den that I was ejoying – I saw the wall colour sparkling through the candle-light and smoke…. GOLD!
  2. Purchase 3 test paint pots – all marked as ‘gold’ looking like slight variations on the colour and damn sparkly. Each with a slightly different product names, produced by different companies, brands. Minor tea-fest to celebrate
  3. Move furniture and plants – out of the to-be-sparkled dark hallway and bathroom into the sun filled Orangerie. Had a cup of tea
  4. Sugar soap the walls – standing on my fabulous bauhaus bar stool to reach the high bits. Discover the bathroom was painted either before the plaster dried or without adequate priming….unexpected…. Chorus: wash hands, moisturize hands, have a cup of tea
  5. Bathroom paint peeled-offPeel-off poorly applied paint – peel the ploosely attached paint. A satisfying experience. Chorus…
  6. Paint 3 test squares on west, north and south facing walls then spend the daylight hours drinking tea and pondering how the natural light affects them at different times of day and artificial lights in the evening…  Chorus…
  7. Cut-in Hallway edges – a time consuming task because one of the main characteristics of hallways is that they have lots of doors (4 in this hall) and windows. Chorus…
  8. Sleep – overnight while the paint dries
  9. Cut-in the Hallway edges 2nd coat  and leave for 4hrs to dry Chorus…
  10. Prime bathroom bare wall. Chorus….
  11. Visit city recycle centre. Oh! Errrr! this is where the th 40-something attactive men hang-out on a Sunday afternoon….   ……I’ll be doing a tad more spring cleaning this spring…  Chorus…
  12. Paint hallway 1st coat. Then pack stuff away ready to finish with a coat or two next weekend Chorus…

 (DIY story on pause until the redecoration is finished… )


4 bits of fabulous banter »

keeping a roof on it

Sunday, January 1st, 2012 | tags: , , ,  |

I enjoy reflecting on the last year, remembering all the fun things that happened and then weighing those up against the things that have caused pain. So this is an uncharacteristically long scribble. You’ll see from the bullet points below, this year has been a good year :-)

Highlights of 2011:

Fun with friends – Including a

  • Porthminster BeachSolstice celebration with some Berkshire locals
  • Barcelona holidaywith friends from University, Seattle, and work
  • Loughborough get together with some Doctors and an Italian from my University days
  • St. Ives meeting with a real lumberjack and an exceptionally engaging blogger
  • Bunch of local Reading town house parties – Reading town people have a wonderful community spirit
  • Wrote, illustrated, got feedback on, revised then submitted a short story to a competition (unplaced). Thoroughly enjpyed my friends generous feedback on their experiences of the story. Listening to their interpretations was fun and inspiring
  • Regular blog readers, some of you have been dropping by for all of the 6 years that I’ve been blogging! You deserve long-term service awards :-) thank you for all the encouragement

Fun with family – several family trips including:

  • Christmas pantomime – seeing ‘The Hoff’ play captain Hooke at the Bristol Hippodrome. The man can sing!
  • Birthday outing to see ‘We will rock you’ lots of audience participation!
  • Holiday in Hull uncovering family history from my favourite Aunt then meeting her daughter in Barcelona…
  • Wandering around the ‘See no evil’ graffiti in Bristol with my brother was fascinating – more public art please!

Fun on my own – included

  • Hat #20: English FoxyLong weekend in Dungeness - Derek Jarmans garden, light houses, power stations, bleak beaches and fabulous locals
  • Studying for and getting a PRINCE2 practioners Project Managers qualification
  • The fabulous funky barnet giving me a new Bob which appears to be a crowd pleaser!
  • Writing an article that was selected for publication in an international, professional, magazine
  • Fabulous new Miele washing machine and HTC Desire  phone!
  • Successfully completing all last year’s resolutions! Writing ink-pen letters, completing another painting, producing an illustrated story for a competition, home grown edible crops of  raddishes, spring onions and courgettes
  • finding a fabulous foxy hat – for me!
  • A pay rise and a bonus that funded my trip to Barcelona

Lowlights of 2011

  • No new roof – Waiting 7 months and making many phone calls to get the results of a pre-application for planning permission to install solar tiles on the wendy house roof. The pre-application resulted in advice to use different tiles and the builder recommended not bothering to install alternative tiles. A builder turning down work?! I took the builders advice
  • Taking a break from working as a Samaritans in favour of supporting the emotions of people nearer to home

Resolutions for 2012

Healthier lifestyle – including things like

  • Proactively use Reading’s True food co-operative more often
  • Continue using my garden to grow plants that I subsequently eat. Yummy – fresh from the garden
  • Reduce my alcohol consumption and shift to drinking wine rather than ale
  • More regular exercise of some kind built into my daily activities.
  • Get out some more. I’m still a bit of a hermit, enjoying my home and the company of Sampo

Something ‘Housey’ – maybe one of the following…

  • Paint some rooms to change their ‘mood’
  • Replace the bath – its gradually falling apart but works ok
  • Replace the fitted mdf cupboards with fitted tongue and groove cupboards
  • Get a furniture maker to design and build Edwardian style fitted cupboards around the fireplace
  • Replace the ceilings in the bedroom by opening-up the space to see the rafters and adding modern insulation to the roof from the inside

Step back up to make more socially valuable contributions – this could be

  • Re-joining the Samaritans
  • Finding, engaging in, or setting-up, a mentoring scheme for women in the IT industry
  • Investigating ways to encourage the British Psychological Society to systematically contribute to the IT industry
  • Changing the focus, content, of this blog to be more effectively supportive of a wendy-worthy cause

 

I hope your 2011  bought you some heart-felt smiles and 2012 will bring you more. I’d love to hear your suggestions for ways I could make this blog more valuable, relevant, to you…


6 bits of fabulous banter »

quirky collective nouns

Saturday, November 19th, 2011 | tags: ,  |

The English language has some fun collective nouns for animal groups:

Picture showing two crows with the title 'attempted murder'a shrewdness of Apes
a cloud of Bats
a flutter of Butterflies
a murder of Crows
a seething of Eels
a business of Ferrets
an implausibility of Gnus
a troubling of Goldfish
a loveliness of Ladybirds
a parliament of Owls
a mutation of Thrushes
a chime of Wrens

As the winter nights draw-in the endless possibilities of entertaining new collective nouns snuggle into the wendy house:

a ________________ of celebrities
a ________________ of Journalists
a ________________ of activists
a ________________ of celebrities
a ________________ of lawyers
a ________________ of bankers
a ________________ of MPs
a ________________ of commuters
a ________________ of cyclists
a ________________ of doctors

 


11 bits of fabulous banter »

Vieno Tuulikki Kolehmainen

Thursday, November 17th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

Vieno Tuulikki KolehmainenI recently checked out a few details with my Dad, about his mother – Vieno Tuulikki (born) Kolehmainen. I met my her only once in 1968, when she visited our family in England for a couple of weeks. I was 4 years old. She was a quiet, affectionate, frail old lady

This is what I’ve found out about Vieno Tuulikki Kolehmainen:

  • Studied Medieval English (probably at the University of Helsinki)
  • First son, dad,  born when she was 24 in Viipuri – 1933
  • Arrived in England 1934 aged 25 when her Lutheran minister husband was posted to Hull
  • Daughter born in 1937, died less than a year later in 1938
  • Vieno’s home in Hull bombed in 1941
  • Russia attacked Finland in 1939
  • Finland attacked Russia in 1941. England was an ally to Russia. Russia declared war on Finland and Vieno was included in the exchange of diplomats. Pressumably returning to Helsinki
  • Dad evacuated to safety with a family in neutral Sweden – Linkoping
  • Helsinki home was bombed one month after the birth of her second son – 1944
  • Returned to England 1947 – suffered from clinical depression
  • Returned to Finland 1948 – without her children – divorced 1950
  • Visited England in 1968 – stayed with dad and met her grandchildren – but never met her second son who refused to visit out of loyalty to his father – Vieno’s ex-husband
  • Died from a heart attack following slipping on doorstep ice in 1969

I see so many unanswered questions in this storyine….


2 bits of fabulous banter »

weekly, on sunday afternoon

Thursday, September 15th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

In 2004, when I first started blogging, the people I followed (Jenn, Lacroix, Raymond, Jen) posted* between 1 and 3 times a day. Over the years, I’ve seen novice bloggers start with the enthusiasm of daily posting then watched that proliferation fade with one or more of these symptoms:

  • not posting every day, sporadically missing a days
  • posting every other day
  • posting a couple of times a week
  • taking a break from posting for a while – a week, 2 weeks, a month, a season….
  • posting once a week on a pre-arranged day – Darlings I’ll post on Sunday…
  • deleting or ‘hiding’ the blog
  • dropping one blog and moving onto another or rebranding the blog with a new name and theme
  • stop posting altogether

Green post boxRaymond is the only blogger that I followed in 2004 who persistently, reliably, posts once a day. Most bloggers seemed to stop posting within 3 or 4 years of starting.  Sunday afternoon posting won’t be a reality for me while I keep recieving encouraging personal emails

* Posting is not a euphemism for any other activity. No, definitiely not, I can’t protest enough that this post should be read at face value without drawing analogies between posting and any other activities
PS 198 word post before the PS

9 bits of fabulous banter »

wendy’s occupying the house

Friday, June 10th, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

As we walk into the 1930’s building that houses the Reading Fine Arts degree show we are passed a clip-board with a pen attached on a long string. The

Building Occupants Register

A dedicated labelled plynth proudly holds the list of visitors on a smartly painted brick wall above what was once a modern radiator.

As I leave the building I wonder whether my name should be struck from the list. I’m no longer an occupant. Where does visiting end and occupancy begin? For a firefighter, tackling a blaze, “who’s in the building?” is the key question. A partailly accurate paper list will not help them.

Building Occupants Register


2 bits of fabulous banter »

can you improve cemetery junction?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

A4 going east approaching Cemetery JunctionCan you improve Cemetery Junction?

Is it so gorgeous that any changes are more likely to ruin its existing gorgeousity?

Is it so icky that people have given up hope of being able to improve it without first obliterating it?

The question raises all sorts of emotionally charged, creative, cynical, optimistic, pragmatic and other reactions from people who live near, or pass through, the infamous local junction of the A4 (London Road) and A329 (Kings/Wokingham Road).

A local councilor, Rob White, is working with local action groups to improve the Cemetery Junction area. At the moment he’s consulting with locals. The co-op has a big cardboard suggestions box decorated with a collage of magazine pictures of pretty things. Excellent stuff. It made me feel like being back at school where having a go was important, encouraged and easy.

I’m loving the humour and creativity evident in this summary of suggestions to improve cemetery junction made on a ‘Get Reading’ news article:

  • i’m thinking giant dinosaurs
  • how about a cinema or a roller disco?
  • Napalm
  • Make it a spooky theme park
  • How about a monorail?
  • A small tactical thermo-nuclear device
  • Bit of paint and a clean should do it….or if you really wanna prettify it, hanging baskets
  • An underpass
  • make a big roundabout where resturant is
  • Nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure
  • re-install the gallows that used to stand on the site now occupied by The Granby? It might act as a deterrent to the hoodies and wannbie gangsters in that area
  • What about an H Bomb?
  • Prevent shop keepers and traders from parking cars and vans on the pavements
  • The overhanging bushes on the London Rd side need trimming… …new paving and signage
  • can’t be improved – its a dead loss
  • A Tesco supermarket each side of the road, with a couple of Tesco Expresses sprinkled around Liverpool and Cholmeley Roads
  • big ornamental archway would brighten up the area considerably
  • Give me some explosives and a bulldozer and Ill give you instant results. Guaranteed
  • Zombie Apocalypse

6 bits of fabulous banter »

365 things to do in a Bath part 1

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 | tags: ,  |

a diffuse back glow on my feet in the bathInspired by Ms Scarlet’s facebook advertisement. Here are the first 36 things that you can try, some in combination, others take the whole bath to complete:

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. make up a story
  2. grow tomatoe plants
  3. Launder a duvet
  4. Defrost a large Turkey
  5. Store the contents of the Freezer during a power cut
  6. blow bubbles
  7. re-enact the sinking of the Spanish Armada using rubber duckies
  8. squeeze some zits
  9. sculpt freshly fallen hot candle-wax
  10. improvise a scene from jaws
  11. teach the rubber ducky how to dive
  12. epilate at liesure
  13. wash your hair
  14. sculpt a soap bar
  15. trim the split ends of any long hairs
  16. launder a bucketful of socks
  17. henna your hair
  18. sort out your fingers with a warm steamy manicure
  19. sort out your feet with a soft soggy pedicure
  20. read Graham Swift’s Waterlands
  21. sleep – ideally with some comfy cushoins and blankets
  22. pretend you’re in a sleep chamber – close your eyes and float
  23. sing harmonies with the cat
  24. send a text message
  25. make a phone call
  26. build bubble mountains
  27. engage in reflective thought
  28. practice reflexology
  29. count moles
  30. plan a vacation
  31. check for absense of cancerous lumps
  32. drink a frothy coffee
  33. meditate
  34. sink a pumice stone
  35. exfoliate
  36. remove a facepack

1 wonderful musing »

replacing the ink cartridge

Monday, January 10th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

changing the ink cartridgereplacing the ink cartridge in a fountain pen, not a dot-matrix or jet printer

Do you remember the experience of your pen sporadically supplying ink, tapping the nib on a spare piece of paper to make sure the ink is all at the bottom of the cartridge? That time when you still have ink, but the inconsistent flow makes your writing messy. Unscrewing my pen confirmed that the cartridge was near-as-damn-it empty

The 5 page letter below is to a friend who rarely uses the computer, email, her mobile phone and she definitely doesn’t have a facebook account. Rebel!

Letter writing involved

  • a traditional format – senders address on the top right hand side above the date
  • a traditional opening phrase ‘Dear (name),’
  • the first spelling challenge in the 3rd sentence
  • hastily omited letters retrospectively inserted into words (squishing, writing a letter above the word and placing an arrow below it)
  • smudges,I’m not sure how, they just arrived
  • crossing-out letters that had over-enthusiastically added to words where they did not belong. I round the letter ‘r’ was the biggest offender, wishing to be in every word it can be. Liquid paper (Tippex) might head-off these rogue arse in future letters
  • hand-ache by the 2nd page
  • writing on only one side of the page
  • use of blotting-paper
  • an illustrative sketch per page
  • Regular tea breaks helped prevent my pulling a muscle
  • a pleasing end result that fitted in the envelope and awaits carrying to a letter-box

5 page letterI made the squiggly white lines using ‘Paint‘ to obscure the personal contents.

PS 254 word post before the PS

5 bits of fabulous banter »

Nappy Yew Hear

Friday, December 31st, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

highlights of 2010 included

  • Suprise snow - getting snow-stranded in Pangbourne and meeting the other people stranded by the snow and the excellent Hotel staff who turned no-one away and made sure we were all warm, safe and fed
  • Fun with friends - Highlights included a winter solstice and Lunar eclipse on a snow covered Streatly hill drinking some hot non-alcoholic glug, mead, some simple pagan ritual and then sledding fun followed by cooked vegetarian breakfast.  A Dr. Who and Torchwood tour of film sites in Cardiff with a quiz on the coach and lots of lovely people.
  • Travel - discovering Turin with spottydog and meeting with US friends in Paris, several fund and inspiring weekends at the writers retreat in Sheepwash
  • Positive departures – I left the Bank I’d been with since 1983, my home insurance company, and my internet service provider. Replacing them with potentially superior services. Saved a decent amount on my monthly bills. Hoorah!
  • New arrivals – a Stovax woodburning stove that Matrix enjoyed before leaving, a woodshed, log store and stove-top kettle
  • Kitty healthSampo’s diet is having a slow, sure effect. She’s more of a melon than a pumpkin at the moment
  • Creativity - completing my first portrait painting for over 3 years
  • Family - the 3rd Annual ‘House’ family trip to the Bath Theatre Royal Christmas pantomime where 3 generations gather to produce dangerous decibels of laughter at dangerously poor quality jokes
  • Focus. Successfully completing all last year’s resolutions - though one was tweaked slightly from a Llloyd Loom Sofa to a garden set where some of the chairs are also indoor chairs. Achieving some stuff at work that was not easy, feeling good about how I’m contributing to my employers business.

lowlights of 2010 included

  • Kitty health – Matrix’s old cat wobbliness from 2009 was the beginning of a trend. She suffered several fits, numerous visits to the vet and eventually I decided to let her go before she suffered too much. After 15 years together it was heartbreaking to lose such a beautiful friend.
  • Creativity - spending the best part of my evenings in May troubeshooting upgrading my SQL 4 to SQL 5 database for wordpress 3.1 compatibility. 3 different organisiations (database service, hosting service, wordpress communities) failed to help, each pointing me to another. Eventually I tracked the problem down to the WordPress default labelling of their tables. Once diagnosed only took 5 minutes to fix – all three organisations should have known this was a likely problem and been able to provide quick easy problem diagnoisis feedback. Disappointing.
  • Austerity. Friends loosing jobs, homes, looking for work and all the stress and sadness that comes with such things.

Resolutions for 2011

  • Creativity. Write more using an ink pen, and other antique writting implements, to regularly write and post hand-written letters to friends, family, and occassionally an odd organisation. I’ve been practicing. Paint more, I’m already planning my next painting and it will be of people rather than pets.  Painting the Hallway Bathroom and Kitchen is a distinct possibility…
  • Self sufficiency. Attempt to grow some tasty plants in the garden – Beetroot, potatoes and raddishes
  • Get out more. Travelling ‘oop Norf’ to visit friends and family who live above the Watf0rd Gap. Hull and Helsinki are possibilities. Locally, visit people more, I have a tendancy to be a bit of a home-bod, happily sat infront of the fire with Sampo for company.

Basildon Bond


6 bits of fabulous banter »

virgin member

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 | tags: , , , , ,  |

My overdue trip to join Reading library. Overdue will not turn into a relationship theme

Palmers Park library Membership packI walked up to the desk opposite the door with the large sign saying membership. A young lady watched me as I picked up a leaflet describing how to join. easy, fill in this form provide evidence of address (Driving license) and normal signature (Debit card). As I reached for a pen from the pot on the far side of the desk the young lady walked over.  She picked and passed me a pen as she sat down good, I get to sit down now

wendy: can I take a photograph of that sign?

staff: Oh! No-one’s ever asked that before…Um…if there are no people in the picture

Excellent, the Saturday staff feel able to make decisions on unusual requests. The girl sweetly listened to me tell her about Kevin’s blog as I completed the form. Then she went into coorporation style ‘rote-retell’ mode as she desciribed the contents of the new member’s pack before handing it to me.

  • 2 hours of free internet access a day
  • The addresses and opening times of all the branches, including one in Palmers park that opens ’till 7pm 2 nights midweek
  • A free CD/DVD loan because of my new membership
  • charge-rates
  • Frequently Asking Questions
  • Special services (alas all the ‘coffee mornings’ are on weekdays, when I can’t join in)
  • Adult services (adult book groups. OH! who’d have guessed?! One group meets in the ‘Back of Beyond‘)
  • Children services (they have Pyjamma evenings in the library – wish I was a real child!)
  • Toy library

After this preliminary dance I was let-loose on the stock. …..ooOOOOooooo…. I left with an unabridged Audio book; Ian McEwan’s ‘On chesil beach’ read by the author.  It may not smell of book, but the commute to work this week will be a joy….

Goodies, lovely goodies…


7 bits of fabulous banter »

would you drink tea with this person?

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 | tags: ,  |

Would you stop by for a cup of tea with the person who’s Saturday shopping trip included

  • cat food and litter
  • a large axe
  • soda crystals
  • the axe is still quite large
  • WD 40
  • that axe has a handle for swinging
  • long handled matches
  • the axe has a blade protector
  • lavendar shampoo
  • the axe is in the corner of the front room, for the moment

Saturday shopping


9 bits of fabulous banter »

bulllying is a leadership quality

Thursday, February 25th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

The UK’s National Bullying Helpline (Charity) cited  number 10 Downing Street as being a place where  the bullying of 4 staff members happened.   Who did it?   The main assumption appears to have been that the Prime Minister is a bully.  

The reaction of members of the labour party to the accusation of bullying at 10 downing street probably demonstrates something of British attitudes toward bullying.     I’m not impressed.    These are the  responses I’ve heard so far.

  • Not me.   Gordon Brown is my friend, he’s never bullied me.   The most common response from Labour party members.
  • Not Witnessed.     I’ve never seen or even thought of  Gordon bullying anyone.    For example, the BBC  reports Alan Johnson as saying “ in 17 years he had “never” heard Mr Brown raise his voice”.   The Telegraph  cites Ed Balls as saying “I’ve known Gordon Brown for 20 years and at no point has it ever occurred to me that Gordon Brown is or would ever be a bully”
  • Honest behaviour.   I’d rather be lead by a real person who has weaknesses and shows them than by someone calmly insincere. For example, part of this argument is illustrated by the Telegraph  citing Gordon’s wife Sarah as saying “‘What you see is what you get”   While this is not the dominant discourse it has been expressed by several individuals and news papers.
  • Expected behaviour. Gordon’s got a tough job, tensions run high, he cares about what he does, people should expect that he’s going to loose his temper and shout sometimes.
  • Desired behaviour. Bully’s have the qualities to be exceptional leaders you don’t want a wuss leading the country.   For example, the Telegraph  cites Ed Balls as saying “constituent…     …would say he gets things done, he is tough, he is a leader, and that’s what we need.’
  • Desired behaviour. Supporters actually demonstrating that bullying behaviour is acceptable. For example, in the Telegraph:   ”I think this attack on him by this prat of a woman down in – where’s she from, Swindon? – I think that’s backfiring on her”

The BBC is one of the few sources that mentions Downing Street’s processes for dealing with bullying, calling it “rigorous” but providing no evidence of the process or rigor.  

I’ve set up an anti-bullying hotline for the fluffballs but they still persist, Sampo ambushes Matrix on her way to the food bowl and Matrix pushes Sampo out of all the best sleepy spots.   My rigorous processes have failed to ameliorate the problem.


3 bits of fabulous banter »

from 09 to 10

Thursday, December 31st, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

List-i-ness abounds.

Highlights of 09:

Lowlights of 09:

  • Just a bit  Brrrrrr in the house on cold days
  • Some of  my guests have to sit on stools at parties…
  • Someone broke into the Wendy House!
  • Matrix starting to get extreme  old-cat wobbliness
  • Sampo’s new nickname is ‘the pumpkin’
  • Never got around to blogging on the books I’d read

New year resolutions for 2010:

  • replace the wendy house front room  gas fire with  a wood (pellet) burning stove  that will reduce my carbon footprint and increase the wendy house warmth and energy efficiency
  • buy a Lloyd Loom sofa
  • arrange a diet for Sampo
  • do more  health related  non-profit work

These are possibilities rather than commitments…

  • replace wendy house original 1840’s slate roof with felt-lined, insulated slate roof
  • tile the kitchen and refit the kitchen worksurfaces
  • design a garden mosaic based on the tree of life
  • enroll as a student on a counselling course

4 bits of fabulous banter »

cumulative evidence

Saturday, November 14th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

I have old lady

I wonder what comes  next…


5 bits of fabulous banter »

Happy trio reading scheme

Saturday, November 7th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

1969 School Report.  Age 5After my first 6 months in the English school system, in 1969,   the school headmaster observed me to be:

confident

left-handed

quiet

producing interesting conversation

enjoying drawing

a slow reader

occassionally shedding tears


3 bits of fabulous banter »

animadversions

Thursday, October 29th, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

animadversions is not a creative pastiche  of

  • animal
  • advert
  • versions

Animadversions is used by the Foriegn Office (FO)  to describe the contents of the last despatch (message) by the British Ambassador to Oslo in 1975, Ralph Selby.   For Ralph, being a diplomat was a family business, his father and wife’s grandfather were ambassadors.   The style of expression within the despatch is rather fun,   I particularly liked this phrase

‘I agree with the gentleman who’s signature resembles a trombone’

In honour of this outstanding phrase I am considering changing my signature to resemble a swan.

Ralph’s animadversions  included

  • Newer diplomats did not put sufficient time and effort into studying languages
  • Diplomats circulate way too much paper “the flood of paper which has grown in a single generation is fantastic”
  • Diplomat’s wives are not paid for their valuable contributions – this disadvantages diplomats who’s wives choose to have a career.
  • Domestic staff are exensive and time-demanding ‘I do not nowadays find it easy to recruit staff who are willing to lick other people’s boots’
  • Retirement provisions are insufficient
  • There is a temptation to eat and drink well – exercise is needed “our specific calling’s snare is drink; and it is profoundly depressing to see the number of members of the service who are engaged in the process of destroying themselves by it
  • Not enough freedom of thought  

what do you think of that »

snippets

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

Wandering around the stunningly topiaried gardens of a stately seat in Kent.  There some some significant, and in significant, discoveries:

  • a pole dancing topiary bear
  • a Virgin balloon full of hot stagnent air
  • Woodwormed Jacobean panels beside a spiral stair
  • Ms Scarlet’s radical stealth mohican-style crop of not-ginger hair
  • some bushes (not Scarlet’s)

topiary-tastic


3 bits of fabulous banter »

‘in my day’ threshold

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

This week I passed a threshold.   The ‘in my day’ threshold.   In my day…

  • Phones were connected by cables to walls in the hallways of homes or in red-boxes on the street.
  • Televisions had a dial with 4 positions on it,   one for each of the known channels and one spare channel

And much much more or less


7 bits of fabulous banter »

the cooking conversation. again.

Friday, July 31st, 2009 | tags: , , ,  |

Popular conversational topics #5: cooking competencies

Tomatoeswhat do you cook? unless you include toast and porridge I dont really cook.   You don’t cook?   Do you eat out all the time? the question is asked with the intonation of shock,   disapproval or possibly repulsion.   I eat out once or twice a week,  having a quality meal produced for me is one of my  favourite luxuries.

If you don’t cook and you don’t eat out,   what do you eat, microwave meals? My questioner is still intoning in a disapproving manner.   For a few moments I wished that I had aspirations to conform to the social norm of interest or pride in the preparing and cooking of food.   Those moments pass quickly.    My lack of indugence in use of the  microwave,   only for porridge,   allows my  interregator to release a wrinkly or two from her brow.   I mostly eat cheese, tomatoes, cheese cucumber, cheese,  coleslaw,  cheese, necturines, cheese,  toast, cheese, marmite, cheese, twiglets, cheese, triffle,  cheesecake, peanut butter, date and walnut or battenburg cake.   All raw,   no cooking involved.     You like cheese then? My interregator appears to be reasonably satisfied with this reply.   But still their hangs a a niggling doubt over my ability to be a fully functioning member of society if I don’t cook.

can you cook? It had never occured to me that people don’t cook because they can’t.   At high school all girls were required to take cookery classes, under the title of ‘home economics’ classes.   They taught me to do things I’d been doing at home for years.   I used to cook, a lot.   As a student I rarely ate out and hand’t yet lost my verve for food preparation.    In my 30’s I used to host about one dinner party per month and the food seemed well appreciated,   in my 40’s I hosted fewer parties with more guests and they seemed well appreciated.   I can cook.   I only really enjoy it when I’m cooking for others and not doing it in a rush.   My interregator appears convinced that I can cook.

All my lasting lovers have been excellent cooks,   deriving pleasure from whipping up food to whet my palatte and I certainly enjoyed them doing so.


5 bits of fabulous banter »