‘Eldest Daughter’ had her first baby yesterday (both doing fine) and I am now in a quandry for a couple of reasons:
No pictures yet, so me cuddling a cute dog will have to do instead – at least it qualifies as practice….. of a kind!
Well, the ‘Phoney War’ is over and we are about to ‘Go over the top’ and charge full speed ahead at another academic year.
All my best wishes and hopes go with you throughout your efforts to secure the qualifications (but more importantly the knowledge and the confidence) to be able to develop and further your chosen career and interest.
I am also writing this on the day I have become a grandmother (of sorts) to ‘Our Eldest’, as we call her…. So I am off to toast the new arrival!
Just turned 18,
A tousled headed venetian blonde,
Or that’s how I like to think of him,
A head taller than his Mum,
A head a half more than his Dad.
Shoulders like a rugby prop,
Waggling to the tectonic wave,
A winning smile and a troubled brow,
The first, courtesy of a devoted dentist,
The second, a legacy from an uncertain future
For that lost generation now
Just turned 18.
You’d be proud of him, Dad, if you could see him.
Of his gentleness, an innate sensitivity,
His awful, terrible, brilliant sense of humour
That livens long car journeys, and family meals on Sundays.
Not of his dress sense, though:
Ramstein T-shirts and slashed black jeans
No belt in the world can hold up,
Giving the world an unflattering preview
Of his stepfather’s best set of underwear and his own ass
I suck my teeth and tell myself ‘this too will pass’.
He is after all, only
Just turned 18.
He prefers people to books, work to studying,
When he can heave himself out of bed, that is,
A rare phenomenon and a typical teenager,
Enjoying his salad days, eager for action.
A good friend, a faithful companion,
The ’social worker’ of his High School class
The one those in trouble depend on.
A man in the making, a boy in the leaving,
Shouting his need for more and more freedom,
And his Mum’s cooking, his own choosing
Of a future existence.
The strange and potent cocktail of one
Just turned 18.
In April of this year I visited the home of Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell et al ‘Bloomsbury in Sussex’ otherwise known as Charleston. See the link www.charleston.org.uk
My interest in Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell is a long standing obsession and I was curious to see the place in which this group of literary and visual artists, critics and journalists had made their spiritual home as early as 1916. The house is beautifully restored and decorated by the Charleston Trust with the aid of Ms. Gage and you can tour on specific days and see the lives and works of these artists in situ. It is like walking into somebody’s house, temporarily as if they had just popped out to get the dog in from the garden, and you anticipate their return any moment. The artwork is fabulously bizarre and faded in places as Vanessa & Duncan cared little for posterity: what if damp and time effaced them? They could always whitewash them over and begin again.. The beautiful garden has been replanted and was at its zenith florally speaking, and the visit is pure delight. Apparently people come again and again to visit and I can well see why; events and exhibitions are maintained in true Bloomsbury style. Thanks to Penny for a brilliantly informative visit.
Just a few miles away in Rodmell is Monk’s House, the home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf from 1919-1969, as far as Leonard is concerned; VW took her own life by drowning herself in the river Ouse in 1941. Here is a far more low-key setting, a house no more than a basic country cottage decorated by the Omega workshop group (Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and others) but with a splendid garden which is well documented in LW’s and Quentin Bells’ diaries and biographies. Virginia’s garden writing lodge is the most poignant part of the visit; a sparse, bare place, totally isolated from the main house, as if she could not work with even the comparatively little bustle produced by her political journalist of a husband, dogs, two live-in servants, soon to be replaced by a daily. The rooms are set deep into the garden and have an underwater aspect to them as if one were surrounded by waving seaweed. Books and writing materials abound, as one would expect, and a throwback to Charleston in the decor. Monk’s House is set right in the middle of the village, somewhat strange for someone who found ‘ordinary people’ generally exasperating, while the relative isolation of Charleston was offset by a gregarious and lively group of bohemians who made their own rules and defied the legal and political etiquette of the times, along with a healthy form of disrespect for accepted sexual and social mores. Thoughts to ponder in an age of total conformity. http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-monkshouse Those of you who are interested in Virginia Woolf’s novels will be surprised by the elegant complexity of her prose and the country simplicity of her surroundings: proof that she really did lead ‘a life of the mind’.
So we caved in, we admit it! Phoebe arrived today: a white Golden Retriever of some eight weeks of age. She is already finding her way around the house and falls asleep on my shoulder …. just like being a new ‘Mum’ (again!).
She will never replace Minty, who died 2 weeks ago, because no dog ever replaces another, but she is a lovely addition to the household in her own right. We haven’t seen Katy wagging her tail so much for a while now – so from day one it looks like they’re going to be firm friends…. so we are well and truly back to being a ‘two dog family’!
More pictures to follow as soon as I can work out how to get them off my camera, on to the PC and off the PC onto the website! It is the year of the letter ‘E’ for the registration of dogs, but we take some delight in giving our dogs the name we want then reverse-engineering things back to the official forms, so her ‘official’ name is actually ‘Euphemia’, which gives us Phoebe……..and to give you an idea of her size, she can fit into Tony’s shoe……ahhhhhhhhh!
I am anticipating that our in-class discussions and debates may well need recording.
Here is where I will be placing such material…..
Christmas cards? New Year cards?
Just how much DO we actually spend telling people we already know that we are thinking of them as they already well know?
1 x Euro on a card and 60 Centimes on a stamp? Times how many friends? 50? Conservatively?
50 x 1.60 = 80 Euros. Perhaps 80% of this goes straight into the pocket of the state or the card retailer and a little on paper, packgaing and envelopes.
But what if we were to change the dynamic here?
What if we were to say:
‘OK, I’ll send my friends ‘cards’ by email, but with the money saved I’ll send a cow to Africa which will become a family’s revenue for a year or I’ll sponsor a child’s education or a community’s water supply???’
Wouldn’t that be more vital, more worthwhile, more valuable?
Well, I’m now getting into this, but it takes a bit of time: you choose a template that looks nice and simple and then, inevitably, you find yourself fighting its limitations. For example, I would have loved to have had spring-out menus leaping out from each of the unit names cascading from under the top line ‘Courses’ tab, but somehow it doesn’t quite happen. Quite why some of my CAPES files wind up on a menu to the left I am not sure (ignore them there, please and use the ‘Courses’ tab on the top line: that is where thing are suposed to go!).
That said, it is much easier for me than fighting Moodle or Nomad or Dokeos – at least it is mine and I can do pretty much what I want with it!
So, bear with me for the little ‘glitches’ …. I’ll get there!
…..And for those of you doing the CAPES…. this’ll be you in a couple of years time, so don’t laugh too loudly will you?!
As many of you will know, we lost our beloved ‘red’ dog this week on 20th October…at the not so ripe age of 4 and a half years old. She had suffered from a cardiac malformation since birth which left her with a heart which grew to the size of a football and two deficient mitral and tri-cuspid valves. Despite the physical difficulty, she was a happy and inquisitive animal who was the focus of love for Tony and myself and the kids. Fortunately for us, we didn’t have to make any drastic decisions at the vet’s; she made them for us. She died in her sleep a about 6am on Tuesday morning of a massive stroke and her big heart stopped beating….she is sorely missed by all the family and friends who came in contact with her. She will always be our ‘first’ dog…so special in her intuitive understanding and freely given affection. Go well, my darling dog.