Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Avatar (*spoiler alert*)

Went to see James Cameron's film 'Avatar' today. We don't go to the cinema very often, largely because we fail to organise our leisure time properly, but rather enjoy it when we manage it. It tends to be a school holiday activity, when amusing the troops is a high priority and we have plenty of unoccupied hours. Daughter #3 had spotted the trailers for it on TV, and it was generally agreed that it looked pretty interesting. So we took ourselves of to York City Screen, a very pleasant, smallish venue complete with cafe/wine bar/bistro attached, where they don't mind you taking your wine or coffee into the screen with you, which is very civilised. Donning our 3D specs we sat back and were enthralled by technical wizardry for three whole hours. The storyline was a bit cheesy (noble race of indigenous creatures threatened by nasty corporate greedsters, some love-interest and a big old battle) and rather PC, but the CGI was absolutely fantastic, and I say that as someone who has no particular interest in that sort of thing. The best bits were the 3D rainforests and landscapes and the little insects and creatures that appeared to come out from their depths and actually hover in the middle of the auditorium. The 'dragon'-flying and the battle scenes were mesmerising and gut-grippingly involving and when we emerged, blinking, into the chilly York twilight, we agreed that Dr Who would seem a bit dull in comparison. It was like entering another exotic, far more vivid, world for a portion of the day. You can quite see why people might make use of substances that would engender the same effect - only I don't think a trip to the cinema rates quite as highly on the 'injurious to health' scale. Well worth seeing.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Digital Madness

I read TWO very interesting pieces in the Times today which seemed to confirm what I've been increasingly thinking over the past year/eighteen months: that it is easier to assimilate information from a paper, rather than a digital source.
In the course of my research I find myself reading many, many PDFs (mostly from JSTOR online digital journals) and a lot of Google Books (how I hate the way vital pages are always missing from the 'preview'). Ideally, I would print them (the PDFs, that is) all off to read at leisure, but because printer ink is unreasonably expensive and lots of documents are nigh-on forty pages long, I tend to print off only the ones that will definitely be useful. These I store in colour-coded files under relevant headings. Easy-peasy. However, the ones that aren't printed off, I save to my computer in a similarly logical fashion: PhD>PDFs>Linguistics; Socio-Historical; NT Texts etc., etc.
But I find it very hard to recall, at a distance from the initial reading, what relevant snippet of information I have read where amongst my digital resources, and when I attempt to scan through the documents to re-find it, I feel not only a rather unpleasant sensation of disorientation, but a real inability to absorb what it being relayed. In fact, sometimes when I do this, I often find myself thinking 'I really can't be bothered' which is quite disturbing, given that I am now actually being paid to do this! I far prefer to read stuff on paper, and the following speculative article from the Times seems to back this up.

Constant Digital Stupidity

When you're constantly scanning mobile phones and computer screens, your attention is so fragmented that you can't concentrate on one thing. That's known as constant partial attention. The next stage is that you'll start forgetting things, missing important pieces of information and making mistakes, and you'll never get round to quality thinking. This matters at work when you're scanning masses of fast-moving information, you're under pressure to react quickly and you're rushing. At home you have so many pass-words in your head that you forget your PIN and can't get money out, then you phone your bank and can't remember that password.
research will confirm that multitasking is a myth, we'll see phrases such as slow media emerge as people realise that if you read things on paper you are more relaxed, you register more, you reflect and see the big picture. This is why paper is not dead and why,while news will be mostly delivered online, serious comment and analysis and novels will largely stay on paper.

Vindicated! I knew it!
A second piece, from today's Times business section, states that 'print advertising is more than twice as effective as television advertising'. Research, carried out by Microsoft Advertising, confirms that ever £1 spent on print advertising yields £5, compared with £2.15 for television and £3.44 for online advertising. The study recommende that retailers increased online and print advertising budgets by 10% and decreased television advertising by that amount. Not surprisingly, an executive from a television marketing body didn't think much to the findings.

I have to say that I am actually oblivious when it comes to advertising. I tend to like the things I like and am not tempted to diversify. Household and grooming products are not things I ever spend any time thinking about - I do my shopping online because I hate wasting time in supermarkets. Buying white goods, carpeting or furniture is something that I delegate to the Husband. I'm not that bothered about what we end up with. I am not a great target for marketing! Advertising campaigns are just not on my event-horizon. Similarly, if I'm online I find it easy to ignore irrelevance, and our pop-up blocker screens out the majority of unwanted stuff.
That's not to say that I dislike shopping completely - but I am never persuaded to buy things that I wouldn't already be buying, and the stuff I like to buy (second-hand books, bags and deli food) aren't advertised anyway!

Another paragraph in the first article discusses the rather more worrying tendency towards 'digital isolation' where the world is ever-more connected but increasing remote from its fellow-man. Looking around this seems to be true. People look past you in the street as they talk on their mobile phones, are talking as they are served in shops, are isolated from their surroundings with a cocoon of head-phoned, non-stop music. Once upon a time you'd think a person was mad if they were walking along talking to themselves: now you just assume they're using their blue-tooth hands-free! Even in our house, everyone huddles over their own digital gadget. Everyone has a phone and an iPod of some sort; the Husband and I have a laptop each (his is a work one, admittedly) and there is a 'house' PC (pretty bloody temperamental) for general use.

Even in offices people don't communicate, they stare at screens all day. Lunchtime has gone, the dining room has gone, the family sitting around one television has gone.

The piece end with a pretty bleak prediction for the coming years:

Loneliness and depression will become even bigger issues.

Ah! digitalia! Where would we be without it?
Instant gratification, but no true satisfaction. Everywhere and everyone can be accessed, but never really reached. As the article notes, this is why Starbucks is so successful, it gives the isolated home-based laptopper somewhere to work, where they feel part of a (even if somewhat illusory) community. I've certainly taken advantage of their venti lattes over the years!
And this is why I have decided that this coming year our family will be following a partial defragmentation regime. Dinner will take place more regularly around the dining table (we've been slipping into on-knee mode lately), where mobiles will be banned. We will be attending Mass together on a regular basis (never mind about the Sunday morning sporting activities, we'll all make the effort to go to the Saturday night vigil, or the Sunday evening Mass).
Call these my New Year's resolutions....that, plus redoubling my commitment to my PhD (but that, dear reader, is another blog posting....)

Talking to my supervisor at our last meeting about the vast resources of information now available for scholars, I rather stupidly mused on how people managed before the advent of the internet.
He fixed me with a cool eye:
'We went to the library, of course, and met our friends, and then we went for coffee or a drink...'

And no doubt it was a far more sociable and pleasant experience than sitting hunched alone over a computer......

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Drifting Towards the New Year

Boxing Day: a day out of time. I awoke before 5am with creasing stomach pains (almost certainly due to conspicuous overindulgence over the preceding 18 hours) and took myself off downstairs to get a cup of tea and a hot-water bottle. Propping myself up in bed, I attempted to tackle a few pages of Vygotsky's Thought and Language and before long, slid slowly down the pillows into a comfortable enough doze which lasted until gone 9am. By the time we'd all got downstairs it was eleven o'clock and the rest of the day has followed a similar chronologically dislocated form. We've just had French bread, cheese and grapes for lunch, but it's actually just getting dark! Taking the Dog out earlier, the Bright-Eyed Boy and I skittered about perilously on the icy pavement hummocks and decided to forge rather more safely across the still-virgin snow in the park. It's meteorologically very strange: not really freezing, but lethally slippy underfoot where the untreated footpaths have been compacted down. Glad we don't have far to go in the next few days.
When I was very young (three or four) at this time of year we regularly made our way down in our three-wheeler car, in all winds and weather, from the central Highlands of Scotland to visit my widowed granny in her freezing bungalow that smelt of furniture polish. She wasn't the most affectionate or attentive of grandparents and I remember being stupefyingly bored, with nothing to do (no telly) and no-one to talk to, or to play with. Because it was a very long way from Perthshire to Gloucestershire, we generally stayed for a few days, sleeping in the chilly guest room. Never a late riser, I would join Granny first thing in the kitchen as she lit the range and prepared a gloopy sort of porridge, sweetened with saccharine (she was diabetic) on the hotplate. All this was accompanied by a sort of muttered German commentary, the contents of which were a mystery to me. Occasionally we would drop over to visit my paternal uncle and his three children (all older than me) who lived in the next village. I remember the year when there were the most tremendously high snowdrifts (probably the winter of 62-63) and we played out until our hands ached and our feet were blue with the cold inside grown-up sized wellies. Tea at their house generally ended with an enormous sherry trifle, and the taste of sherry trifle can still take me right back to those twilit days.

It could go either way over the next few days: we could carry on feeling relaxed and drowsy - and the snowy weather is certainly conducive to that - or we could start to feel irritable and confined. After we have eaten and drunk as much as we really want, and move on to eating and drinking because it's there, there is a risk that discontentment and boredom will set in, ungrateful wretches that we are. I think we might need a pre-emptive strike. Sadly, the traditional panacea of long walks are off the agenda until the council decide to grit. Daughter #3 could go to rowing tomorrow, which would mean rather an early start but would at least guarantee that we got motivated nice and early. Foraging for wood and chopping logs is very therapeutic, but everything near us is still covered in snow - plus we still have plenty of wood from the summer. So what to do......

A strange time, this dying of the year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Calm

Christmas Eve and all is well. Daughter #3 took part in the annual Christmas Eve mixed quad racing at the rowing club today. It was really atmospheric, the dark water contrasted with the snowy banks and the tops of the Minster towers gradually disappeared into the mist. Everyone was cheerfully decked out in silly costumes and funny hats and threw themselves into the races with enthusiasm. It was a bit parky standing in the snow, but the racers themsleves managed to work up a head of steam. After three lots of three heats, the winners were rewarded with selection boxes and everyone tucked into hotdogs and buns.
This afternoon we went to my elderly parents where we were treated to a lovely curry with all the trimmings, mango jelly, and finally, mince pies and coffee. After a leisurely few hours of chatting we arrived back in York in time to attend the first Mass of Christmas at our local church. It was packed to the rafters, literally standing room only with many people attending that aren't what you'd call regulars....well, they are regular: once a year, at Christmas!!!

So now we are home again: I've decorated the rooms with evergreens, mistletoe is hung above the door, the turkey is thawing, the fire is laid in the grate for tomorrow, the wine is chilling.....

All that remains is a bit of last-minute present wrapping, to be completed when the children are in bed (NOT asleep, that'd be asking too much), and to relax before the onslaught of the day itself. Nine people for Christmas dinner, including daughter #2, her husband and this year's best present so far, my grandson the Bouncing Babba!
Happy Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our Barque Slowly Sails the Christmas Sea

Have resigned myself to the inexorably downward slide to Christmas Day and, like the drowning man who gives up struggling and surrenders his vital processes to the waves, I have decided to give in and enjoy it. We spent a splendidly anarchic day (for us, anyway) yesterday rising late, consuming pastries for breakfast and then drifting into town. We spent some time looking in a leisurely fashion around the shops, stocking up on ingredients for proposed festive sweetmeats and then adjourned for lunch at a little Italian cafe/deli where the Bright-Eyed Boy and I were lucky enough to nab a recently vacated table while the Husband stocked up on vin santo, cantuccini and panettone. Several panini, lattes and biscotti later we stumbled off into some more shops where we indulged -yes, that's what we did indeed INDULGED (courtesy of the good old AHRC grant) in various bottles of alcohol (Illy coffee liqueur, Bombay Sapphire gin and Limoncello) small presents and trimmings. It felt goooood not to worry too much about what the January Mastercard bill would bring: all the more so as we are more than familiar with the stomach-clenching sensation of opening an unexpectedly large demand. I know it's a temporary blessed state, but we intend to make the very most of our current good fortune. The B-E-B and I (inspired by his tasty lunch, which he devoured totally) made a rosemary focaccia later in the afternoon which made the basis for a delicious buffet tea of cold meats, cheeses, pickles, olives, wine and the like which had the unfortunate effect of making us supremely thirsty for the remainder of the evening, and needed several cups of tea to slake the craving.
Today, again, we have had a relaxed start to the day and the Husband and daughter #3 have headed townwards to pick up the last few requisites. Soon the B-E-B and myself are going to make some chocolate torrone, which requires a lot of almond toasting and crunching (it is an extraordinarily rich confection, several heart-attacks waiting to happen) but I need to prise him off his latest football game which arrived in the post this morning as a reward for being brave over the past few weeks.

Later, before lighting both the log fires, I intend to head out to pick up some evergreenery to deck the house in Yuletide splendour. I just love doing this task at Christmas: I feel like some medieval peasant, plodding out, breath steaming, hands frozen and this year the snow - certainly deep AND crisp AND even - will add extra atmosphere and a timeless feel to the whole procedure, just like the Breugel painting above.

Monday, December 21, 2009

In the Dark

Daughter #3 hosted a rather lovely soiree at our house last night. I say 'lovely' not because of the hosting arrangements (oh no! they were all rather carefree and ad hoc) but because the girls who attended - all #3's peers - were a simply delightful advertisment for 'the youth of today'. They represented a mix of friends old and new that have coalesced into a band of like-minded allies. Not that there was anything clone-like about them: each one seemed to represent a slightly different facet of young teenagerhood. They were an amusing, polite, gregarious and good-natured crowd and I was more than impressed by the fact that they managed to just sit there and chat and laugh for two hours and (more importantly) NOT SPILL A THING!!! It made me almost nostalgic for the days of ground-in jam sandwiches and trampled sausage rolls.
However, by the time the last liftless girl had been deposited safely home and I had hoovered some errant pine needles, my mind/body - tricked by the bonhomie of the previous few hours - was raring to go. Not even a fairly large glass of wine and the suitably soporific Match of the Day 2 was able to stop me revving in overdrive: Chelsea drew with West Ham? Yay! The Husband, who has decided that today will be his last day at work until after the New Year, was mindful that it was getting late and he was tired. So we adjourned to bed where I sat up reading Saturday's review section until he was snoring gently and I started to worry that the rustle of newsprint would wake him again. Consequently, I moved onto the glossy mag (less rustling) until bored by its silly vanity and cringing hand-wringing. By this time it was ten past midnight, so I lay myself down and turned off the bedside light hoping that sleep would come soon. Not a chance. An hour later I found myself increasingly convinced that I was getting colder and colder under the duvet and remembered that we'd fail to click the heating back on at bedtime. I grudgingly hauled myself to the airing cupboard and fumbled around for the on-switch and turned the thermostat right down. I'd been back in bed for about twenty minutes when it occurred to me that I'd not heard the heating pump come on, which meant that it was still, in effect, getting colder and colder in the bedroom. Indeed, I was convinced that I could feel my steaming breath in the dark. So up again I got and readjusted the thermostat to a slightly higher setting. I paused on the landing for a moment until the pump kicked in and I could stop worrying that the entire central heating system had broken down. That's a major concern in the middle of winter, and in the middle of the night - that, and the oven breaking on Christmas Day, or the freezer in the preceding week.
Well, that was it for the remainder of the night. Worry mode. I should, in hindsight, have just turned the light on and forestalled it all with some cheerful reading, but I was still partially convinced that I would fall asleep before too long. But no, my mind wandered and fretted around the usual unpleasant and cobwebby mental annexes that only open up during the hours of darkness: mortal illness, death, financial straits, and the most recurrent one for me at the moment - the feeling that I will most certainly flunk out of my PhD programme.
I've tried analysing this, and I think it's down to a lack of confidence in my own ability. Certainly my supervisor seems happy enough with my progress at this point in time. He does keep going on about word counts though, as if writing up research on a words-per-day basis can guaranteee its success. I'm not convinced this is true, considering that the early stages of a thesis will mostly consist of reading and making notes and that the donkey-work of writing-up happens at the latter-end when you have a clear model in your head of how (or if!) your proposal really works. I think that if you write up too early, you can run into problems if you come across a staggering piece of scholarship that impacts greatly on your ideas (and that is always a real possibility). It can become a major, major task to weave new revelations into a 'done' text, far more trouble and work than if you were still operating at a notes-and-ideas level. You don't know what you don't know, as Donald Rumsfeld said, until you know it. I am acutely aware that I have done no writing on my chapter since my last supervisory meeting a couple of weeks ago, and yet I seem incapable of doing anything about it: my mind keeps skidding away from the topic as if I have an aversion to it. I think it may be because I feel that I am losing control of the project: my supervisor has very definite ideas about what should be said and I often find myself chivvied down avenues that weren't part of my original plan. Still, I remind myself, he is the expert appointed to keep me on the straight and narrow, and to make sure that I deliver a PhD on target. When I was self-funded and part-time I felt that the PhD was mine: I was the client, was paying the university for their expertise, calling the tune, almost. When I got funding (mirabile dictu!), I ceded control. Other people now have a vested interest in my success and thus my progress. Research has ceased to be a delightful stroll around the charming groves of Academe, with ample pauses to sniff at random wayside blooms, it has become a goal-driven, progress assessed slog, with value-added, transferable-skill distractions en route.
When I was a child - and indeed as I grew older, my life seemd to consist of a series of disappointments. I never got the presents I really, really wanted for Christmas (and they were never extravagant) - I got the cheaper, less-desirable version. My friends were always less fun and cheerful than I had expected them to be, having been a voracious reader of Enid Blyton's Mallory Towers. Summer holidays were not golden and tranquilly idyllic, but long and dull and spent trawing around garden centres. My teenage clothes were a home-made approximation of what was then in the achingly fashionable Chelsea Girl chain. My boyfriends were generally off-hand and distant, and likewise an early doomed marriage was characterised by my husband's reluctance to be more than token, beery presence in his children's lives. All in all it seemed to me that, somehow, I always got less than the best because I probably wasn't worth anyone's full attention or effort. I was easy to ignore, write-off, dismiss as trivial, as a winging, neurotic perfectionist who should be damned happy she'd actually got what she'd got.

It wasn't until much later when I met someone who thought I was actually pretty remarkable that my self-confidence grew to the degree that I felt that...yes, I was worth the effort and, yes, I did have something to contribute, and I was utterly transformed and went from strength to strength.

But still deep down, there is that little girl who expects to be let down and feels that she is probably not up to much, who can't bring herself to 'waste' money on a decent haircut for herself and who is not surprised when 'friends' cancel a lunch engagement. And thus (I guess) it is with my doctoral studies. Surely the AHRC must have been mistaken in giving me funding? Me? They expect me to produce something worthwhile? Don't they realise that I will probably let the side down, fail to deliver? Last year, because I was 'in the driving seat', so to speak, I was only ever going to disappoint myself if I did not complete. No biggy. Now that there additional factors, parties and expectations attached to my PhD, I feel burdened by self-doubt and guilt. I am a shabby investment. It's not a great feeling, and one that, in the dark, in the middle of the night dammit!, returns to haunt me again and again.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Honour Killings: An Unpleasant Look at the Truth

The murder - with the apparent knowledge of her family - of the Turkish teenager Tulay Goren has once again brought into focus the nastier side of family life. Many will no doubt have thrown up their hands in horror at this tale of patriarchalism, oppression of women, pride and shame, and thank God that we Anglo-Saxons are so much more enlightened and liberal.
Oh really?

Isn't it a matter of fact that this honour-culture is really not so very far removed from the sort of behaviour that has been rife in Western culture since the year dot? The mind-set that saw a father hunt down, tie-up, drug and eventually kill his own flesh and blood is at one end of a continuum which has its roots just as firmly in middle England as in Southern Turkey.

It's no so very long ago that a young woman, finding herself pregnant and unmarried, faced social ostracism, with recourse only to highly risky abortions or banishment until the illegitimate child was born, to distant relations or in special homes where they were treated as moral degenerates. A veil of secrecy and silence cloaked these 'shameful' events. Family members colluded with one another to suppress the truth and save face in the community. Children were raised in strange, dislocated relationships where the 'mother' was actually the grandmother, or a childless cousin. There are many stories in the media of these poor, sad birth-mothers being reunited after many, many decades of separation from their offspring, lamenting the wasted years of mourning babies who grew up without them, and of the children whose lives were often rocked or ruined by the revelation that 'we aren't actually your biological parents'. How is that sort of collusion and covert manipulation of lives any different from what we are reading in the papers this very day?

There's a lot of it about under the thin veneer of liberalism and nominal equality of our society, a poisonous, conditional love that is often granted to the very people that deserve our absolutely unequivocal support and devotion, for they are flesh of our flesh, blood of our blood, our children, our families.

How often - even nowadays - do we hear of parents who 'lose' contact with children who disappoint in some way? Because these oft-labelled mavericks 'fail' the parents by attaching themselves to a partner deemed 'unsuitable' in class, creed or colour; by leading lives that the family fail to comprehend (as if real love should depend at all on comprehension or approval!), by being gay, converting or marrying out of a religion, or unemployed, mentally ill, a substance abuser, or merely humanly fallible, not measuring up in some way - 'different' from the rest of the brood, and against whom the cudgel of expectation and normality is wielded?

Snivelling humanity has a history of trying to claw its way up the social pile, careless of treading on one another in an attempt to make it to the top of the heap. There being strength in numbers, it helps if there are other climbers singing off the same hymn sheet and giving one another a bunk up on the way. Strength in numbers and all that. And while this is a seemingly altruist family-friendly scramble, the concealed underbelly revealed is that people who aren't going with the family flow and kow-towing to the pack leader are seen as endangering the ascent of the entire upwardly mobile mass.

It all has its genesis in post-WW2 Britain: A nation frightened to death by the ravening maw of totalitarian otherness, shrank into itself, wrapping desperate material greed and social aspiration around its chipper, mustn't-grumble respectability. A nation emerged that increasingly prided itself on 'having', on competing with the neighbours with one eye cocked over the top of the Daily Express and the privet hedge. Anything that compromised keeping up with the Joneses, or being seen as socially acceptable and upwardly mobile was given as short a shrift as an unwanted kitten in a weighted sack. No room for sentiment or regret. Far better if you cut out the poisoned flesh. Your child has let you down? Cast them off without a backward glance as an aberration, a bad seed. Certainly let your disapproval be felt, loud and clear - but behind bolted doors and tighly pulled curtains. Smile at the neighbours and continue as if nothing has happened: let no trace of sentiment show...this child has betrayed you, your way of life and all that you stand for!
[You say my daughter hasn't been seen around for many weeks? I shrug and smile and voice some banality about the unpredictability of girls. My family will not be shamed, I will countenance no stain on its honour, no matter the cost or the suffering. We are all united in this!]

Conditional love, love that is doled out as a reward for keeping to the script is no love at all. It is a depressing fact that many people only love those around them if they bolster their own self-image. Witness the Mums that deck their toddler girls as mini-me's to prance around in front of the X-factor. Or Dads who shout abuse at their sons from the touchlines of junior football leagues. Or husbands discarding no-longer young or desirable wives, or wives discarding newly redundant husbands.

It is a selfish 'love', one that is concerned with rewarding what a person does, not what they are. And while we are rightly appalled at the murder of a fifteen year old girl who took up with an 'unsuitable' man, we would do well to reflect on the difference between a mote and a plank, and the subtle gradations between the two.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas looms.....

The last week before the schools break up for Christmas and, as usual I am torn between relief and alarm. Relief that, from Monday next, we won't have to get up at the crack of dawn for a while (dawn?...it was still pitch black an hour after that, at 7.30 this morning) to set the family juggernaut in motion: Alarm that, as usual, I have achieved far less than I'd hoped to have done academically by this point in time. It's been particularly hard over the past few weeks, what with the Bright-Eyed Boy's ongoing virus/anxiety problems and the distractions of the German reading skills assignment/assessments. I keep looking at my marked up thesis chapter and putting it down again - I need to spend a good few hours at a stretch to make inroads on my supervisor's comments. Today, for example, I have grudgingly done the usual bare-minimum household stuff (plus some Christmas card writing) and now find myself staring at German verb tables in preparation for tommorrow's in-class grammar test. I am annoyed that I care how I do in it - I really cannot afford the time, but feel compelled to put in a good performance. Tch! What a pain!
I think that I'm going to have to start using my satellite (bedroom) study again over Christmas, as the ground floor will be given over to toys, games, telly watching and (after Christmas Day itself) two electric guitars! It was a real God-send having that bit of personal space in the summer and meant that I felt I was actually maintaining control over the doctoral process, rather than letting everything slip during the holidays. It will probably help if I have some sort of rudimentary plan to stick to as well, so that - even on the most unproductive of Yule-tide days - I manage to feel that I've achieved at least something, which is absolutely essential so that panic doesn't set in come January! Parsing Greek verbs is always a good task: working my way through the Pauline epistles in this way is really quite dull (but absolutely esssential for helping me spot discourse prominence) - but like most dull and mechanical tasks, can be done with less than 100% concentration and can become soothing and even therapeutic. I shall shut my laptop down soon and head of into town. I am acutely aware that I need a bit of a break, and will be doing myself no favours by flogging an unwilling horse.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Turning the Corner

After a pretty horrendous few weeks of assorted illness and stress we seem to have turned a corner. The Bright-Eyed Boy is certainly a lot better than he was seven days ago, and whatever was wrong with him (and I suspect that a rather nasty, but seemingly innocuous, virus had thoroughly disrupted his chemistry) seems to be finally leaving his system. Daughter #3 ,who last week uncharacteristically spent an entire day in bed laid up with the snottiest cold ever, returned to rowing-training last night. She was pretty pooped after it, but still managed to stay up way past her bed-time organising her friends' end-of-term party (chez nous - don't ask how that happened). The dog's upset stomach also seems to be getting better. Thank goodness! I was dreading an extended and expensive session at the vet.
I am also feeling...well...less despairing actually, which is a massive relief (DG) because I certainly didn't like the way I was feeling this time last week. The extremely low mood was probably largely due to worry about the Boy, disrupted sleep and the lack of sunlight.

However, the husband woke early this morning complaining that 'all the bones' in his face ached and the B-E-B started complaining about a sore throat. Daughter #3's cold is making its way around the household no doubt. But strangely enough everyone is pretty cheerful. I just hope that, in an effort to keep going until Christmas, I don't get another virus like the one that laid me out and robbed me of my seasonal enthusiasm last year!