Speriment

Sep. 27th, 2010 05:57 pm
radegund: (Default)
It turns out, right, that living in squalor is really not where I want to be.

But all our housekeeping mechanisms broke down in the onslaught of 2009 (the construction of the south wing) and the early part of 2010 (my vitamin B12 deficiency), and they're only just beginning to come back.

I still feel at sea. So I'm going to take a leaf out of [livejournal.com profile] ailbhe's book and start by keeping track, every so often, on a haphazard schedule and without rigid criteria, of the stuff I do.

I think it may help, at least to pinpoint what's getting done, what areas of work are "mine", what's being neglected, and so on.

Here's today's:
click if you really need to know! )

That brings us to 17:25ish, when I started writing this. I may come back later and update when I've done some more.

Update:
if anything, even less interesting than the first list )

Moar update:
you know the drill )

There are mountains of laundry waiting upstairs, and the kitchen backlog will take a while to clear. I want to be doing things like building the new utility room shelves, but clean clothes, meals, and a usable kitchen take precedence.

Maybe I'll get to measure and mark the timber for the shelves this evening. If I can find my effing set square, dammit. I hate it when my tools go missing.

Question: Are you overwhelmed by the maintenance of your living space, or does it feel basically under control? If the latter, what are your top tips?
radegund: (clare-coast)
I think that in some past life [livejournal.com profile] niallm and I must have been burrowing creatures. We seem to have an inexorable1 need to arrange our possessions in teetering heaps all around us, with little winding pathways between them leading to the places where we want to go.

1Well. We're trying to exor it this year - wish us luck!
radegund: (cartoon)
I'm not a squeamish person. Compost delights me. I'll cheerfully clear out a blocked drain. As an emo teenager I once lay in bed and watched as ants devoured a dead woodlouse on my bedroom carpet. More recently, I developed the conviction that childbirth and early parenthood had cauterised whatever vestiges of perturbability remained to me (though I'll admit I have been known to scream at surprise poo).

Turns out I was wrong. For lo, I can be squicked. Yesterday lunchtime, I encountered a circumstance so grim that it left me gasping and retching and needing a sit-down all on my own before I could function again.

I had sliced a bagel and brought it to the toaster, which is in the corner of the counter. I reached over to stick the bagel halves into the slots, and as I withdrew my hand, one finger brushed against something. For a few seconds I couldn't even parse the sensation - it was so utterly out of place. But then I did, and I looked, and I lost it.

Click here if curiosity overwhelms you. But be warned: it's not nice. And there's a photo. )
radegund: (Default)
...I love it when you talk kitchens!

We're planning ours, and I'm gathering tips.

Kitchens You Have Known: what has worked for you, and what hasn't? What seemed like a crazy idea but ended up being invaluable? What seemed sensible but was actually a nuisance? What's the niftiest kitchen storage arrangement you've encountered? What would your Dream Kitchen feature?

Our kitchen will be medium-sized, at 4.2m by 3.2m (excluding dining area). We'll have an island unit, with everything else along two walls, but other than that it's all pretty much up for discussion. I think I get the "work triangles" principle - can anyone tell me whether it makes a difference in practice? Someone told me recently that kitchen layout should reflect [right-]handedness, but was unfortunately unable to elaborate. Anyone heard of this? (I'm mildly ambidextrous, but comfortable being right-handed in the kitchen, if that makes a difference.)

[livejournal.com profile] mollydot kindly sent me a link to this article, which I find interesting but vaguely worrisome :-) I mean to say, what if, for instance, we believe we are following the doctrines therein set out, but in fact WE ARE DELUDED FOOLZ and will therefore suffer forever from improperly positioned drawers (hurr hurr) or a surfeit of focal points? Have you picked up any nuggets of layout theory that you'd care to share?

Bring on the kitcheny wisdom! I thank you.
radegund: (Default)

Happy St Radegund's Day, one and all!



Up to what is your (perhaps less than ideally) faithful correspondent?

Click here to find out... )

That'll do for the nonce. Onwards and upwards. Vincero, etc.
radegund: (wine-pansy)
The chaotic state of our house is getting me down. I am suffering from severe Chaos Paralysis. We are progressing, but slowly, slowly, and I feel like curling up in a small ball until it's all sorted. I'm TIRED of serving dinner on the large desk that is shoved up against the piled-high kitchen table, and eating it sitting on a low sofa from which I can just stretch my chin to the table-top, and having to edge everywhere all the time, and having to move smaller furniture around the kitchen every time I want to change task, and only being able to find the limited number of things I knew we'd need within days of the big clear-out and therefore put in accessible places, and not being at all sure where my tax return letter is, which I need before the end of the month, and argh and argh and argh.

So have a meme.

What I was doing... )
radegund: (clare-coast)
Too many holidays.

So far this year:

First weekend in March: Choir trip to Galway. Two nights. First night just me and Oisín; [livejournal.com profile] niallm came down the following day. Pretty packed schedule, featuring a three-hour rehearsal on the Saturday morning, which I spent following Oisín around the church. Choir folk mostly unchilded, poor understanding that minding a toddler may not actually be as relaxing and easy as it looks. Good time had nonetheless. Rocking concert; got to go out for drinks afterwards.

Mid-March: Long weekend away in a guest house in Midleton, Co. Cork - finally using a voucher we got for our wedding in February 2005. Beautiful Georgian country house, full to the brim of knick-knacks and books and toys. Biggest bed I've ever seen (easily 7 feet wide) - nice surprise, since we were used to the three of us being squeezed into a double on holiday. Lunch in the Café Paradiso in Cork: gobsmackingly good. Fota Wildlife Park: magnificent. Lovely trip.

Mid-April: Quick visit to Belfast to see Niall's family there. Warm and welcoming as always. Very serene, hospitable people. Good chats with Niall's cousins, and much admiring of Oisín's small second cousin. Dog desensitisation programme initiated with resident canine. Flying visit, mostly spent in the house.

Easter: Week away in rented cottages in Connemara with about 90 of my relatives (somebody said the headcount was 93 this year). Fabulously relaxing for me; pretty excellent for Oisín to meet so many adoring fans, not to mention a BIG DONKEY and several more dogs. I read almost a whole book.

May bank holiday: Cork Choral Festival. Four rehearsals and three performances in three days, one of which was a major international competition. Great fun, but a pretty gruelling schedule - even though my sister (also in the choir) and a second cousin (who lives in Cork) helped out with the wrangling, I almost didn't make it to the final gig. Poor Niall put his back out on the Sunday morning, lifting Oisín in a park. We stayed in two of the mankiest rooms in Cork, if not Ireland: the first one reeked of poo, so we asked to be moved; the second one had been smoked and drunk in for two weeks, then aired through its one small window for a few hours before we moved in. Oisín's pyjamas smelled of smoke in the morning. Impossible to describe how much I hated that. I didn't get to hear any of the other choirs perform, which was a pity, but on the other hand we did take my sister out to the Café P. for her birthday. Yum.

Mid-May: Twelve-day trip wherein we went to Harpenden for a gaming weekend, then Niall went to Seattle for work, and Oisín and I swooped down upon Reading and stayed with [livejournal.com profile] ailbhe, [livejournal.com profile] rrc and the inimitable Linnea. Chronicled elsewhere. Brilliant fun. Took a certain amount of getting over.

Mid-June: Annual week on the Dingle peninsula with college friends of Niall's. Fabulous weather. Company much more clued-in than last year about the exigencies of child wrangling. Beaches, games, good food. Trip to the astonishing Great Blasket (seals, precipices, sheep, donkeys, green roads and ruins); Niall went on a boat trip around the islands (including INISHVICKILLANE! I know! We're not worthy!) and took pictures of puffins. Gradual acquisition of important new skills: Walking On Sand and Paddling. Mild sandcastle construction. Oisín slept in his own room - and I remembered to bring blackout lining to darken the window so he wouldn't wake up at the crack of dawn. (He woke up anyway, but it wasn't because of the light, dammit.) Horrendous hay-fever, complete with racking, bubbly wheeze, undented by over-the-counter antihistamine, necessitated ruinously expensive trip to the doctor and cocktail of drugs, one of which gave me an unpleasant wobbly-shaky side-effect. Bah. Leisurely journey home, stopping at Listowel for tea with an old friend, and at Limerick overnight with cousins. Overall, a pretty fantastic holiday.

But I've had ENOUGH. Seven trips in four months is ... many. I'll enjoy going nowhere for a while now, and with a bit of luck Oisín will get into a beneficial sleep rhythm after a bit. He's not in one now, is all I'll say about that.
radegund: (Default)
I was ringing drain-clearing companies yesterday to talk about an ongoing problem we have, when I stumbled into the following little cesspit:

The phone at [company] was answered by a man with a large, gentle, gravelly voice, who responded to my initial query by asking for my name, address and phone number. Feeling a little crowded, I explained that I was just making preliminary enquiries and was hoping to get a rough price over the phone. He told me their rates and procedures happily enough. So far so good, I thought, and began to set aside my first impression. I next mentioned that the company advertises itself as a member of the National Guild of Master Craftsmen, and asked what that involved. Inspections, said he, and gave a vague account of men coming to look at their work and talk to their customers. I was almost warming to him by now: he was so clearly untainted by Celtic-Tiger rhetoric. But then, apparently thinking that he had found a kindred spirit, he continued: "Another thing about us, now, we will not take on foreigners. Our men are ... well, they're not old, but they'd be in their forties. Reliable, you know?"

To which I had nothing to say. I should, of course, have said something along the lines of, "Excuse me, I'll stop you there, because I have no intention of giving my business to a company that admits to operating a racist, ageist hiring policy - good bye", but words failed me. I mumbled something about maybe getting back to him and hung up.

Looking back on it, I wouldn't be surprised if this man were (e.g.) the proprietor's retired father, minding the phone over lunch. But I mean, seriously, what sort of idiot would claim racism and ageism as company policy in 21st-century Europe? (That's even leaving aside the inherent sexism of an industry where "our men" is the unquestioned default.) And does anyone know off the top of their head where I should report them, if I can muster the time to write the letter?

(I was tempted to call this post "Ethnic Cleansing", but ... no, I am apparently not quite that crass.)
radegund: (Default)
Well, I appear to have made it to the end of January without dying, which was the principal aim. Other aims, such as to finish the project I was working on in good time, tidy my desk, file my e-mail, take some time to myself before surrendering unto the wide blue toddler: these were not so rigorously executed. But that's OK. I'm there, that's it, we're here, I'm on my career break. Wow. Phew.

It really freaks me out that Oisín doesn't know that he won't be going back to the creche in a few days. He's apparently been really enjoying himself there since Christmas. We turned up to collect him yesterday, and one of the carers said she reckoned he knew there was something different going on. But he doesn't know what it is. And we can't explain it to him. I'm uncomfortable about that.

Today was calm and pleasant. We got up quite late (that is, after several wakings in the small hours), had a leisurely breakfast (it's such a boon not to have to hurry Oisín!), then read books and played ball for a bit. The unfortunate [livejournal.com profile] niallm is at home with the tail-end of a thoroughly nasty 'flu, so the adult:child ratio was pretty favourable. After his lunch Oisín went for a nap, then Niall and I ate and I showered. Later, I took Oisín out to a park, where we played ball in the dusk. We had dinner out of our new slow-cooker. (It turns out that I am a person who makes extensive use of our bread-maker and deliberately bought a slow-cooker because I knew I'd use it too. Who'd have thought it?)

I have a good feeling about this...

Happy Imbolc, one and all! :-)
radegund: (swans)
Why I love [livejournal.com profile] niallm, reason no. 400,003:

[our kitchen, end of dinner; Niall's clearing up, I'm seeing if the Oyster would like a Petit Filou*]
Radzer: Would you like this, sweetheart?
Oyster: [reaches for unopened pot and starts to play with it]
Radzer: Here, let me open it for you. [takes pot, lifts corner of lid]
Oyster: [shakes head, takes pot back and continues to play with it]
Radzer: OK, he doesn't want to eat it.
Niall (over his shoulder): How do you know?
Radzer: He doesn't want me to open it.
Niall: Well ... that would tend to inhibit his ingestive relationship with it, all right.

Pack of wordos.

* Yes, I'm apparently enough of a pedant to give it the grammatically correct singular. OH WELL.
radegund: (wine-pansy)
Well, I knew it was a while since I'd updated, but I didn't quite grasp that it's been three and a half weeks. Oy. One of my aims in this journal is to keep some kind of record (yes, and Jane...came...by etc.), but obviously when life is happening thick and fast it tends to obliterate whatever free time I have for posting. Sigh.

(Mind you, I've been writing in my paper diary a bit this past while, for the first time in ages, which is a sign of ... something, I suppose. Probably that I'm glum and woebegone. I really miss Morning Pages. I used to do them very regularly indeed, and I found them incredibly helpful. But getting the time to do them these mornings? Ahahaha. It is to laugh.)

* * * * *

Here's a brief run-down of what I've been up to since my last appearance in these parts. )

* * * * *

Today was my first day back at work, and it wasn't too bad, all things considered. The next four weeks are looking perhaps alarmingly social, what with houseguests, three family birthdays (including the Oyster's, in TWO WEEKS howdidthathappen???) and two weddings. Plus work. Plus an attempt to implement some of the suggestions put forth in The No-Cry Sleep Solution. (It's a plausible read, and I'm hopeful that it may work, but I must state for the record that a woman who knowingly allows her defenceless baby son to be named Coleton Pantley - I wish I was joking - has got to be at least mildly suspect...)

There was a delicious hint of mist, a whiff of a chill in the air on Saturday night when I went out to get butter. I may love the turn from summer to autumn best of all.
radegund: (stone-sparkles)
The life of the Radzer has improved greatly since the Bad Wednesday of ill memory. Factors influencing this upturn in wellbeing include:

1. Oisín! He's great. He has a beautiful, slow, confiding smile that just whomps my heart whenever it's directed at me. He can wave bye-bye (although not always on cue); he can walk along the furniture; he can give you what he's holding when you ask him for it (and he's now even remembering to let go of it most of the time). He's fascinated by balls. They roll! They hit off each other and go in unexpected directions! He gives out this deep gut-chuckle when you blow raspberries on his neck or beep his nose or eat his fingers, and he loves playing frog-on-the-head (you'd have to be there ... maybe I should take some pictures). Also, alleluia, he's eating vegetables again (thanks, [livejournal.com profile] ailbhe - your suggestion about consistency seems to have been the key: he doesn't like lumps). He'll be ten months old tomorrow, and I love him more fiercely than I would have believed possible.

2. [livejournal.com profile] niallm! He's also great. We've had a fairly ropey week, sleep-wise, and he's been a rock and a pillar and a tower and ... maybe some other less phallic images of strength. On Saturday and Sunday he took the morning shift, allowing me to sleep on. There's nothing quite so stonkingly cool as the grin he sometimes gets from Oisín when he comes into view.

3. Delightful phone call with [livejournal.com profile] glitzfrau on Thursday, in two phases, punctuated by an unheralded visit from a friend I hadn't seen in ages. It's good to talk to my old friends. I miss having people around who've known me for years - who remember what I was like when I was twenty - who get my in-jokes. [livejournal.com profile] niallm has many excellent friends, with whom I love spending time, but nearly all of my crew have moved away from Dublin now, and I feel the lack of them. I went to bed on Thursday all happy and relaxed.

4. Denis Cotter, proprietor of Ireland's best vegetarian restaurant, the Café Paradiso in Cork city. More specifically, his recipe for lemon-chickpea pasta, from Paradiso Seasons. For two people, assemble 250g ribbony pasta, some cooked chickpeas (about half a 400g can, if you're using canned, which I did on Thursday), a bunch of flat parsley: tear off the leaves and finely chop any stalks that you consider tender enough, the rind of a lemon and the juice of half thereof, and a chunk of pecorino cheese (or other hard cheese, I suppose, but pecorino is DIVINE in this dish) - maybe about as much as you could comfortably close your fist around. Put lots of olive oil (like, 60ml) in a saucepan big enough to hold the cooked pasta. Add the chickpeas, parsley, lemon rind and lemon juice, and heat for a few minutes while you cook the pasta in another saucepan. Grate the cheese. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Mix in half of the grated cheese and some salt and pepper. Serve with the rest of the cheese on top. Die of the delish.

5. Doctor Whooooooooooooo! (We have our curmudgeonly reservations, but in general, eeeeeeeeeeee!)

6. My application to move to a four-day week has been approved! I'll start in July, for six months initially. The hope is that Oisín will be sleeping longer by then, but we'll see how it goes. Even better, the latest increases under Benchmarking and Sustaining Progress mean that the cut in my net salary is substantially less drastic than I'd feared.

7. [livejournal.com profile] pleidhce's novel has arrived in the post! An actual, real-life, walking, talking, dancing book by one of my best friends! It can be done! (I'm crawling through the second draft of my front runner at the moment, and I need all the encouragement I can get...)

On a completely different note, why do I have the following rhyme prancing through the wastes of my sleep-deprived brain?

On old Olympus's torrid top,
A Finn and German picked some hops.


Is it real or did I make it up? A Google search has proved fruitless. Anyone?

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radegund

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