Saturday 28 February 2009

I should have said

...that I was going to be away for a week. But I forgot, and then I *was* away, somewhere blissfully so remote that i had no computer, no phone, no nothing, and no ability to say hey, I'm away for a week. And things have happened! People have passed court! And I haven't had a chance to congratulate them yet!

But now I'm back. And I have BEADS!! And not just beads I bought off the internet either - beads from people! Real, live people! On MY doormat! I. Am. So. Excited.

Other exciting holiday news - I convinced J to read a book that hadn't been previously read and approved by me (this is a big, big milestone in our relationship - he really likes to read, but he likes me to guarantee that the book is going to be good beforehand) and he's finishing it off now. That doesnt' look so exciting when I write it down, but while he's distracted I've had a chance to start catching up on things... better make the most of it!

Friday 20 February 2009


I got tagged! Thanks so much for tagging me for this, filoli - and sorry it's taken me so long - it pulled me out of my blogging funk. I'm a little dubious about whether any of these addictions are actually fabulous, (TV! Food! The Internet! Craft! More food! That woman really DOES lead a fascinating life!) but hey, I'm going with what I've got.

My current top 5 addictions are:

1) The West Wing
I know, I know, everyone else discovered this in about 2002. I thought I was immune - in fact, I thought it looked pretty stupid - but a critical mass of my friends told me 'wow, you should really see the west wing, it's amazingly great, although it's not as good after Aaron Sorkin leaves' and suddenly, a moment of madness during my Christmas shopping saw me adding the complete seven season box set to my trolley. (It was very, VERY heavily discounted, she said hastily). I was with a friend at the time and he said 'hey! The west wing! That's so great! You're going to love it! But it's not as good after Aaron Sorkin leaves.'

I went home, time passed. I watched a few episodes. I liked it quite a lot but wasn't raving, until suddenly a few discs in I was hooked. As in, H.O.O.K.E.D. So much so that i had to call the original friend who recommended it, just to tell her how right she had been.
'I know!' she said. 'It's so great! But enjoy these first seasons, because it's really not as good after Aaron Sorkin leaves'.

I cannot tell you how much of my time over the last few weeks and months has been spent on my sofa, knitting and watching this programme. Life has been not the funnest, lately, and it's really good to know that whatever happens, Josh, Toby, Leo and CJ will be there for me. (If one of them dies / leaves, I am going to be SO MAD. I wasn't sad when Sam left - his pretty-boy hair was annoying me).

I'm on series five now, and I'm still really enjoying it. I think you should all watch it too. But you know what? I feel I need to warn you about one thing - it's really not the same after Aaron Sorkin leaves.

2) Oreos.
As the future white mother of a black child*, I have major guilt feelings about loving oreos so much. I worry - does this love affair reveal some kind of subconscious unresolved issues about race? And then I eat one and think - gosh, no. I love these because they taste so darn YUMMY! And because they come in handy snack packs.

Ironically, (and yes I believe I am using that word correctly) I got hooked on oreos because of WeightWatchers. Two cookies is only 1 1/2 points. Considering a slice of bread is 1 point, and so is an apple - that's pretty fan-spanking-tastic. Bring it on. I might have another one right now.

*I'm already white. It's motherhood that's in the future. Just in case you thought I was going all Michael Jackson on you. And also - 'black' is the correct, PC term here. AA is all wrong (for very obvious reasons). I hope it doesn't offend anyone. If so, please suggest another word that isn't US-centric!

3) Reading all your blogs
Do I have to explain this? No, I thought not. Suffice to say that my husband REALLY rues the day he encouraged me to buy an internet phone, because now I can do it anywhere, anytime.

4) Buying beads on the internet.
Oh, wow. This one sure snuck up on me. It all started so innocently. I thought beads were for, you know... other people. But then I discovered the world of semi-precious gem beads and I'm just... a goner. I've become like some kind of cartoon character with a chest full of treasure - I keep opening up my packets of beads so I can just... hold them. This is especially the case with a set of 14mm amethysts I ordered- I keep on stroking them in a way that is probably not entirely healthy. I'm not even sure I want to make a necklace out of them because then I won't be able to trickle them through my fingers anymore. And, of course, one thing leads to another. What these amethysts need is some smaller amethysts to put between them, and some black onyx to set them off. So I bought them too. And isn't that a gorgeous string of faceted purple jade? Oh, here I am again on the website of my favourite supplier again. How did that happen? That rock crystal sure is pretty! And will go with everything! Oh hey, these guys don't sell silver beads. But hey - here's someone who does! And look what else they have!

I ordered some more beads yesterday (rose quartz, since you ask) and already, I'm smacking myself on the forehead and saying to myself: 'Iolite! I didn't buy any iolite! Well, one strand can't hurt. Better go back and get some, because a nice blue really is incredibly useful. And while I'm here, let's see what else they've got....' AS IF IT HAS CHANGED SINCE YESTERDAY.

Of all my addictions, this is the only one that is likely to see me default on my mortgage payments.

But really, it's fine. I can stop anytime. Anytime.

In fact, I have bought so many beads recently, and made so many necklaces, that I'm never going to get a chance to wear them all unless I sprout another neck. Or three. Turns out it's the making I really like, rather than the wearing. It's therapeutic, and I'm too repressed to get actual therapy so that's very handy. It's definitely time to set up an etsy shop. Actually, I've already done that. I guess it's time to actually take the photographs and write the descriptions, rather than rely on buyers' psychic powers to sell these objects. And then I HAVE to buy more beads, because it's actually a business expense. Right? You don't have to sell anything to actually be a business, do you? Right? Right???

But really. I can stop anytime.

5) Two food addictions is a little embarrassing. But if you asked me what I wanted, right NOW, what would add most to my happiness, I'd have to say:

A handful of these guys. I'm a fickle person, and my addictions and obsessions wax and wane over time. But M&Ms have been a staple craving for about the last ten years, and I don't see them being bumped off this list anytime soon. I have to tightly ration myself (if I told you how tightly, you'd mock me, so I won't) but it's good to know that whenever the going gets REALLY tough, they'll be waiting for me.

Now - some fabulous blogs. You're ALL fabulous! But today I tag:

CINDY - partly because I want to know how many times 'cheese' can appear in a five-part list

AMY - because her blog is a hilarious, marvellous public service and I think the whole world should read it - it would definitely become a much chic-er place,

ANNA - because she always lifts my spirits

COLLEEN - because I think you should all visit her blog and check out her cute new haircut

MISTY - because it might give her something to post about while she waits six more days for court!

The rules are pretty straightforward - list five of your fabulous addictions, and tag five blogs that you think are ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS.

**Updated a day later to say** - I bought the iolite. So sue me.

Monday 16 February 2009


I'm sad (very sad) to tell you that my grandmother passed away last night - or this morning, depending on what timezone you're in. When you're not even on the right day of the week when someone passes away, maybe that's nature's way of telling you you're too far away from your family.

I spoke to my mother and my grandfather this morning (my time) and that really did help. My mother assured me that it was the right time - she had been in a lot of pain, and it wasn't possible for her to keep on as she was. The family had been taking it in turns to be on 24 hour bedside vigil for the last few days, and my aunt (who was at her side in the hospital) called my grandfather about 4am and asked him to come - he came - they were both there at the end. I'm glad of this. I'm glad she was surrounded by those she loved in death, as she was in life. She was a wonderful grandmother. I will miss her terribly. If I have grandchildren, I hope they have a tenth of the happy memories of me that I have of her.

My grandfather told me that she has asked to have her ashes scattered here (not a very good photo): which is the town where she grew up.

I so much wanted her to meet our baby. I'm so sad that she will not.

I've been so disappointed that it's going to take longer to bring our baby home than I had thought. But today I've been thinking. Maybe it's right. You only have to read my last few posts to see that this is a pretty sad house at the moment. This probably isn't the best place for a hurting baby to come home to, right now, needing super-parenting. I'm not saying I want to wait until the end of the year (which is looking more and more likely) but... I think it's going to take a while for things to feel okay again here. In a week I might be cursing myself for writing that. But. I don't think even 'the call' would make me feel happy at the moment. So it's just as well it's not going to come.

Thursday 12 February 2009

In No Particular Order

  • This is going to be one of those bullet point posts.

  • I hardly know where to start on this last week. Forgive me if I sound disengaged from all this - I'm not - but I'm writing this on my work computer (see below) and now is not the time for me to start crying.

  • So first the easy stuff. Our internet at home is on the fritz (<--------- joke for the benefit of my sister) and it's making me crazy. I was ordering beads(!) on Saturday and I had to keep restarting the computer so often (to kick the modem into life) that I nearly threw it against the wall. Only the thought of finally being able to send off some beads out kept me going. Now those days of restarting to make it work seem joyous because now all it will say is 'remote computer is not responding' or 'modem is not responding to poll commands'. We've got to get a proper internet connection. But (as I'm sure everyone else has noticed) the most efficient way to arrange an internet connection is ... over the internet. Which we don't have. We'll have to sort it out from work, but in the meantime I'm reading blogs on my phone but that won't let me comment. Which is making me crazy.

  • Trivial but annoying. On monday I broke a tooth on a stone in my breakfast cereal. It's only chipped, really, but I wish it hadn't happened. I keep trying to make a dental appointment with my local NHS practice, but I feel like I'm trapped in a Kafka novel again. I do not want to be That Person - the person who demands payment from a breakfast cereal company for a dental repair - but if I have to get this done privately that may happen. On the realities of the NHS - all I can say is, if you saw 'Sicko', don't believe everything Michael Moore tells you about healthcare in the UK. But hopefully you would already know that.

  • Harder. J's father got the results of his tests back, and much to our relief his c.ancer seems to be operable. Three weeks ago, I would never have believed that we would be so pleased that J's father would be going into hospital for such a serious operation. We know this is the best outcome we could have hoped for but it's really tough for him, for the family, and especially J's mother. He's going in on the 24th.

  • Harder still. The funeral of J's uncle Peter (known in the family as U.P.) was on Tuesday, in Yorkshire, which is about 3 hours from where we live. It was a really difficult, long day - in some ways much harder than I expected. By the time I met U.P, about five years ago, he was beginning to be very infirm in body and mind, and I never really knew him properly because of that. This makes me sad - and I feel sadder about it after his death than I did during his life. In stark contrast to my family, whose motto seems to be 'breed early and breed often', J's family is very very small. UP was J's father's only sibling, and he never married, so J's parents, together with J, me, his two brothers and their wives, were 'The Family' at the services. And I hardly knew him, really. It was a hard day.

  • Hardest. I spoke to my mother yesterday and it seems that my beloved Grandmother is rapidly approaching death. I feel like I cannot bear the thought that she will go. I keep feeling - 'It's too early! You can't take her yet! She's only 82!' and I know how stupid that sounds, but it's never, never going to feel like I'm ready to lose her. And not only that I'm not ready, (although I'm not) as that I know she is not. I could face losing her, despite the pain it would cause me, if I could look forward with joyful hope to knowing she was passing from death into life, and going to meet her saviour (I know that sounds hokey to some of you. I don't care). But her mix of atheism / agnosticism doesn't allow me that hope. It would be disrespectful if I were to talk as if she was looking forward to going to a heaven she doesn't believe in, to meet a God she has rejected. Disrespectful both of her and of God, both of whom I love. So I cannot. But I wish I could.

  • On Sunday, before I found out about my grandmother, I was telling a friend that it feels like every time we get a phone call it is unwelcome news. She said - at the moment, it probably feels like you can't take any more. But other things will happen, and you will bear them too. Wise words, as it turns out.

  • Emotionally, I'm still having a really hard time with the 'hey I'm an expectant parent too' feelings. Not all the spare baby equipment needs to go to someone who is physically pregnant, surely? I'm sitting right here, right next to the pregnant lady who you just gave that stuff to 'because she might need it'. Do I need to carry a placard?

  • I'm going to see this tonight. Really looking forward to it. How can I not want to see a person who describes himself as the child of an unlikely liaison between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Wigan Social Services?

  • One bright spot - my bead order has arrived. I'm hoping to send out some today. Incidentally, people, I can't send you a bead unless I have your address. Just sayin'.

  • I'm exhausted now. Thanks for sticking with it.

Thursday 5 February 2009

Do I hear a wagon?

If you listen very carefully, you might hear the sound of a wagon rolling through the land of blog. Not just any wagon - a BANDwagon (which is by far the best kind of wagon) - and once you've heard it, you will also hear me running after it and hollering and demanding to be let on board.

I'm not quite sure what to hand over for my ticket. One of these?

Or maybe one of these?

This, perhaps?

Nah. Maybe one of these:
I'm guessing at least 90% of you know what I'm talking about by this point. The driver of this bandwagon is the inestimable, inimitable Courtney, who is approximately a hair's breadth away from her referral. Last week she asked her blog friends to send her a bead. If you haven't read this post yet - read it. Read it now.

I think this is a wonderful idea, and I really want to join in. So much of this post touched me that I'm at risk of typing it all out again so I can say how meaningful I thought it was - I won't. But for me it really tapped into a need to feel - togetherness - on this crazy journey. I feel so alone sometimes, doing this. Nobody in my real life is doing this. If I needed breastfeeding advice, I would have people to ask. If I needed maternity clothes, I would have people to borrow from. If I had an ultrasound photo, I would have people to show it off to. If I needed morning sickness remedies, I would have people to call. But on this journey, in my life, where I live, I... don't.

On this path, I've been surprised by how much it has hurt not to be part of the collective female experience of giving birth to the next generation. I would like to have taken that baton from my mother and passed it on to my daughter. I would like to have taken it for granted. And I would like to have taken for granted a sisterhood that has been through what I am going through. And I don't use words like 'sisterhood' easily, so that's an indication of how much pain it has caused.

I love Courtney's idea because it is a reminder that there are other ways to create collective experience and lift each other up. You don't have to live close to someone for them to encourage you. You don't have to have met someone to send each other a bead.

I would so much love it if any of you wanted to send a bead to me. You don't have to be a mother, and you don't have to be adopting, and I don't have to know who you are - if you're reading this, and you'd like to send a bead, then I would absolutely love to receive one. And of course, anyone who wants one - wherever and whoever you are - I'll send you one back. I'll put my address in the top corner of my blog.

It. Would. Mean. So. Much.

Monday 2 February 2009

The Menagerie

I'll be honest and say that this new phase of waiting is getting me down a lot more than I expected. You know, at this point, I really thought it would start to get easier to buy baby presents for other people. I thought I would hear the big announcement ('it's a boy! We've decided to name him Krazy Klingon Kupcake the Third!) and, rather than feeling nauseous with jealousy, and also angry because Kupcake was MY choice of name, I would just swing by the baby store on the way home, buy the obligatory tiny jumper with a frog (or a weasel, or a cat, or whatever) on it, maybe check out the nursery furniture while I'm there and then just happily trot home.

Yeah, not so much, as it turns out. I'm left wondering: when does this start to get easier? When does the fact that we will have a child in the future start to feel more real than the fact that we don't have one today? I thought it would be now. I was wrong.

Maybe it's not just the waiting, though. I just feel like a fool because I assumed January was going to be a great month. Finally, our time to start with all the preparations that normal parents make! It will be a halcyon time of love and laughter! Instead, it's brought wave after wave of unwelcome news: telescoping timescales, family illness, uncertain immigration requirements and a bereavement. All the adoption bad news feels really messed up with other difficulties until I hardly know what it is that I feel sad about.

So: when your head's in a mess, engage in unnecessary craft activities. That's what I'm telling myself. I haven't been a crafter at all for about twenty years until I picked up the kneedles a few months ago. In fact, I had some very unkind things to say about people who crafted. Mostly including the words 'if you wouldn't buy it, why would you make it?' and 'honestly, who needs a macrame duck?' and 'does she really have that much spare time on her hands?' And then one thing led to another and now I've been crocheting too, and sewing - an activity I swore I'd never engage in. And I'm forced to eat my words.

I love the William Morris quote ' Have nothing about you that is neither beautiful nor useful'. I think beautiful is out of the question, at my level of skill, so I probably should ry making something useful, but so far, no. Instead, I've been going crazy making baby toys. I think my subconscious believes that, if I can just make enough toys, a baby will be irresistibly drawn to our house because of the sheer density of playthings.

So. Meet monster.

He was the first thing I sewed (and I had a bit of trouble with the tension on his mouth, as you can see). J finds him a bit mystifying. He hasn't quite said 'face it, Claudia, no child is so deprived that they are going to want to play with THAT' but I know he's thinking it. At least he was made from an actual pattern, which is more than can be said for sketchy lion:

who was loosely based on the monster pattern, but, errr, obviously completely different. Sketchy lion is not just any lion - he's culturally appropriate (check out the dark brown in his mane, like an Ethiopian Lion) and mildly educational (his mane is made of ribbon tags, for little fingers to play with, and the ribbons are varying textures: grosgrain and satin). Also he has a very fetching tail (although due to practical difficulties it appears to be located halfway up his imaginary spine).

And in the interests of finishing before everybody reading this slips into a coma, here is the rest of the family portrait (so far):

Including blue bear & brown bear (brown bear taught me an important lesson - STAY AWAY from fuzzy angora yarn. It's pleasantly soft, but the heartache of trying to find your next stich just isn't worth it) and mini-kevin (who you have already met).

I think that's probably enough, but I've begun to think about finding a good pattern for a penguin. It seems that the aim is, by the time the baby arrives, to have filled the cot with so many random animals that there will be no room for an actual baby. At the rate I'm going, and the rate that the DC.SF is processing paperwork, I don't think that's unrealistic.