Every week or so, as I walk to work, there's a busker setting up his keyboard and I walk for a good five minutes listening to the gentle strains of Debussy. It's a lovely way to start the day, and today was no different. In fact the whole day was better than yesterday.
Except for the bit where OldBloke took YoungBloke to school only to discover that school starts tomorrow. Actually, that was quite funny.
I've been suffering strange headaches for a couple of weeks now - a throb in the temples followed by a flush of pins and needles down the right side of my scalp and face - so last week `i took them to my GP. I was advised to get my eyes tested, have a set of blood tests, and have an ECG as I mentioned on questioning about chest pain that I occasionally have palpitations. I also got a scrip for a low dose of amitriptylline.
The optician was quite happy with my eyes. I'm slightly shortsighted, not enough for glasses, hurrah.
The blood test and ECG were booked for this morning. The bloods were pretty painless, the ECG totally painless. Now, I've never had an ECG before, but I suspect the expected reaction from the Gp isn't supposed to be "well, there appears to be an anomaly in this area so I'd like you to go to hospital for a check over, I'll ring them now and let them know you're on your way".
We hadn't planned on a trip to Halifax today. I personally had planned to go through my work inbox to clear anything I could before getting back to the office tomorrow. OB had intended to trim the back hedge. The best laid plans, eh?!
The ambulatory assessment unit was quiet so I was seen quite quickly. Second ECG done. New doctor, thorough assessment, and the verdict. Absolutely fine, no problems, nothing wrong with the ECG, probably a glitch with the trace at the GP's. Huge relief all round!
Still no idea what's going on with the headaches, though.
Day 2 - a happy ECG.
Good grief, I didn't mean to go offline for that long!
Had a good half-term here, with a trip to Alderley Edge, pizza in Manchester, a quiet day in, bowling and McDs, grocery shopping, a trip to Blackshaw Edge to watch for Team Sky (got cold after 90 mins, drove home and saw them leaving Hebden Bridge heading for Cragg Vale) and a day at home having a bonfire.
While YB was still at nursery one of OB's colleague's donated a garden swing her kids had outgrown. Today, for the first time ever, YB went into the garden of his own accord to play on the swing. For ages before dinner, between courses, and after dinner. He had loads of fun, and it was great watching him.
So I'm calling that my shot for day one of #100happydays
Half-term was a good break. Once I went back to work it was noticeably lighter when I left the house in the morning, and when I got home in the evening. This week it has actually been daylight at both ends. On the walk to the station in the morning I pass a green area which is carpeted in crocuses, purple lilac and white, the occasional yellow, a joy to behold; on the walk back there's a stand of wild daffodils coming into flower. OldBloke has had two loads of laundry dry outside this week too. Spring!
Of course, that also means
NimrodSmogg has started hunting again. So far this week, one rodent and one bird.
"I didn't actually notice you'd done your hair straight away. Then when I did it was a bit late to say anything. It is a nice colour, though."
We took YB to a school-friend's 10th birthday party today. It was a pool party and a bunch of the parents hung around while the kids swam, nattering about how our babies are growing up. A mixture of breast buds, leg hair, puppy feet, desire for increased independence coupled with a complete inability to make a sandwich or get dressed without constant supervision and redirection. Because I'm not at the school gate all that often it's a good reality check and quite reassuring to hear other mums say "ooh, yours does that too? I thought it was just mine!"Apparently the village is populated by parents of 9-10 year olds saying "you need to put some socks on. Socks. Get some socks. Put on your socks. Why are you barefoot? Please get your socks. Socks. Now. SOCKS. What do you mean, you forgot?"
This evening I am enjoying the fruits of my brewer's labour. A pint of sorghum mild, dark, mellow and fruity, followed by a lighter, lemony sorghum lager.
My hair goes on a three-month cycle:
Month one - cut hair
Month two - colour hair
Month three - enjoy colour.
I got a bit out of sequence but finally got around to colouring.
Schwarzkopf Live Color XXL works on grey hair quite nicely then!
Yesterday I finished a shawl: first finished project of the year.
Today, arguing with YB about going out of the house, then going bowling (with him, tempting though it may have been to leave him behind).
Me: You are soft. The cat's sleeping in your corner of the settee so you're sitting next to him. I'd've moved him.
OB: I thought about moving him but then I thought nah.
OB: then I thought about moving this stuff and sitting closer to you.
Me: but then you thought nah.
Mum had a GP appointment today. Yes, on a Saturday. With our lovely Muslim GP. A few weeks ago he went to her house for a consultation, which was lovely and unexpected. Today he was very careful to confirm with Mum that she was okay with us staying I the room, and equally carefully wrote our names down for his records. He went through her drugs, and then did a memory test and a depression test.
The memory test was interesting. She scored fine - but her ability to remember three words (apple, table, penny) was definitely impaired - penny was never recalled after the repetition round. Spelling words forwards and backwards and repeating and writing down a sentence were good, and she was definitely oriented to space, but time? Today is, apparently, 14 October 2014. So, mild short-term impairment, but not enough to warrant medication. Yet.
The depression test was interesting in a different way. Mum confirmed that she feels down every day, and that she has difficulty sleeping, "but I have a glass of whisky to help", which led to a discussion about her drinking and the advice that if she cut that out she'd feel better, sleep better and be less depressed. She also s aid her concentration was fine, but with OB and I both shaking our heads and frowning we were allowed to point out that she often watched an episode of Morse or similar that she'd seen before and still not have a clue what had happened by the end.
After all that, Dr M decided to do weight (45kg), height (157cm) and BP (164/74). We left with an appointment for blood tests and the advice to get some some weight on her - a stone or so would be good, and, to check that it wasn't white-coat syndrome, to buy or borrow a blood pressure machine. We decided to go for weekly weights and BP on a Sunday at ours, so picked up a BP machine from Boots.
The appointment was booked for 10:30. We went into the consultation room about 30 minutes late. It was almost midday when we came out. As OB said, while we've still got an NHS we'll make the most of it. Mum can remember when you had to pay for the GP to come round, and is of an age where you don't bother the doctor until. or even if, you're actually dying...
People, if you can suggest anything that an elderly type-2 diabetic with no interest in food or cooking could eat to gain weight, I'm accepting advice. She used to have Build-up but that was stopped because of the sugar levels. I've suggested smoked salmon, avocado and boiled eggs, not necessarily together. She has full-fat milk. What else, lovely people?
I got baby cuddles today! Adam's wife had a tiny 2kg baby in December and he was in charge of her today. He knows who rules at work so brought baby R to my office so I could have a go. Sensible chap.
This evening was a Warhammer night, so I had a good long bath with Sara Cox's 80s show from Saturday! having a nostalgia I kick.
And now it's half term, so I can have plenty of rest and time to read and knit, and enjoy my Blokes.
There's something cheering about leaving the house as daybreaks, and walking to work in daylight - even cloudy, rainy daylight is still daylight. It's pretty much similar but in reverse on the way home: daylight when I leave the office, luminous twilight as I get off the train allowing me to watch the stars start to appear on the short walk home (provided it's not too cloudy).
I know we still have to go through changing the clocks but I can feel the change. And I get to hear the birds again too!
YB has to talk at cubs tomorrow about "someone who has done something good or achieved something". We knew about this a few weeks ago but all forgot, so in view of the lack of time, OldBloke suggested writing about Lewis Hamilton, as the first Black F1 driver. YB was reluctant, so I suggested he write about his great-great grandmother the suffragette who did jujitsu and ran a cub pack. Ding ding, we have a winner.
We had interviews today. Five candidates, so five presentations in the morning and then the interviews in the afternoon. This makes my day fraught with panic from turning the data projector on at 08:30 (ohgodohgod why won't it bloody turn on?) to the point when I get to turn everything off after the decision-making, at 17:15 (ohgodohgod did they turn off Skype after that interview?). But the worst bit is how much it disrupts my day. Check an expense claim, greet a candidate, explain the format of the day, take them to the
holding cell waiting area, return to office, write a fee letter, greet a candidate, explain the format of the day, take them to the holding cell waiting area, return to office, greet a visitor, send them to HR, greet a candidate, explain the format of the day, take them to the holding cell waiting area, return to office...
On the plus side, we decided that we could appoint to both the vacant posts, so hey, if both candidates accept, I only have five more posts to appoint to. This year. With any luck.
Just a lovely chat with Mum's sister Dorothy. She's 73 and was diagnosed with cancer last year. There isn't a lot that can be done - there are lesions on the pancreas, but they don't warrant treatment at the moment (side effects would outweigh benefits), but they've just found one on her liver so there may be chemo, she'll find out in May (the gaps between appointments indicate to me the non-urgent nature of the illness, and I pointed out last year when she was first diagnosed that at her age, cancers are usually slow-growers and less likely to be lethal on their own. She is more likely to die with cancer than of cancer).
In the meantime, she's off on holiday next week with her daughter, son-in-law and grand-daughter for the annual skiing holiday, and this year, for the first time, she won't be baby-sitting, she'll actually have lessons and take to the nursery slopes. She said, "I've got a list of things I want to do, in case I am going to die. Skiing isn't the most important, obviously, but since I'm going to be there..."
I am so proud of her.
I wanted to go to Hebden Bridge today for some retail therapy so we decided to make an afternoon of it with a trip to the cinema to see Mr Peabody and Sherman. It was quite good, but not brilliant. There were jokes for the grown-ups, one or two of which were well flagged up, and while the story involved a boy and a girl together I wasn't particularly impressed with the idea of them being 7 (and a half) but interested in each other.
We've had plenty of rain this week - the local beck's been near flood levels and the river in Hebden looked very lively, but we got there and back without trouble.
Tonight we're watching Dr No. YB was very vocal in his opposition but hey..
You know how it is.
A student came to my door today.
Student: where is the office of Dr Mumble?
Me: I'm sorry, who are you looking for?
S: Dr Julie.
M: I'm afraid I don't know anyone of that name. Can you tell me the surname?
S: *confused look*
M: Okay, what course are you doing?
S: mumble assessment.
S: No, risk mumble.
M: Right, if you go downstairs to the undergraduate office ... Is this an undergraduate course?
M: I think the best thing would be for you to go and find out the name of the course and the name of the lecturer and I may be able to help you.
Obviously my mind-reading skills are failing.
Shortly after, another student appeared.
S: Can you tell me why Dr Ed is not here?
M: (I know Dr Ed, he's one of mine) I'm afraid I don't hold academic diaries, but have you checked his office door for his office hours?
S: No but I did his course in semester 1 and the notes said he is supposed to be here for students now.
M: I'm afraid he teaches different courses in semester 2 so his office hours are different. I would suggest you email him and he'll get back to you.
We had our team brief and managers' meeting today. Team brief is a mechanism by which information is cascaded from the top reaches of the university administration to all corners of the PSS (professional & Support services) staff, theoretically each layer losing the irrelevant material (what the VC is doing) and adding more relevant local information. So, The Registrar (Head of admin overall) briefs the Heads of Faculty Admins (HoFAs) who brief the heads of School Admin (HoSAs) who brief the middle managers, who brief the junior managers, and we brief our teams. In theory, information and reaction is supposed to go back up the tree too. In theory.
My line manager, and the divisional managers with whom I work, have worked together a long time. We've seen a lot of changes at the university over those years (hell, we've seen a whole new university). Our meetings tend to be half an hour of cynicism which, frankly is well not to be cascaded back up the tree.
After team brief, the four School executive administrators (project manager, PAs to head of School etc) leave and the divisional managers have our monthly hour-long managers' meeting. I say meeting, it's more of a support group for five menopausal, hysterical women almost broken by the demands and expectations of 200-plus academics. Today one of my colleagues was regaling us with the problems she was having with one of her academics, in particular. After some discussion of the matter our manager said "well, one thing we could do, have you considered all moving to get experience in a different division?".
There was a pause, and a look of horror crossed all our faces. Then five minutes of cacophony that resolved into
No, because then it would look like A couldn't cope with the problem (when actually it isn't her problem to deal with but the head of division isn't sorting it out so everyone goes to her to rant and moan); because we've got good working relationships with our academics; because B's division works completely differently from any of the others and the rest of us want no part of that; because none of the rest of us want A's people harassing us and basically because reasons.
I said the meeting is an hour long. Team brief started at 11am. We were ejected from the meeting room at 1pm purely because the UG team had the room booked for their own team brief, then walked to the point where we all go in different directions and stood there talking for another half hour. It's actually really helpful for us all to express the cynicism, sarcasm, bemusement and disillusionment together instead of in the faces of the people who cause the cynicism, sarcasm, bemusement and disillusionment.
Then we go back to our offices and it all starts over again.
It's a bit breezy out. Isn't it! I was in a meeting on the 10th floor this afternoon and we were mostly listening to the wind and watching the blinds rattle despite the windows being closed. To add insult to injury it was a two-hour meeting with no refreshments.
On the way home I was hit by debris blown off a building and injured. Look! BLOOD!
We had snow today. First snow of the year. Heck, first snow of the winter. Sadly there is only what is technically called 'a light sprinkling' and what there was first melted because it wasn't that cold, then froze as the clouds cleared and the air temperature dropped - the gritter's been up the hill but the corner of the cul-de-sac will be interesting in the morning.
We have, of course, nothing on America's snowmageddon, and for once we don't have flooding either, but I hope all my friends in affected areas are coping okay.
Yesterday I finished Candy Crush. 485 levels of Saga? Done. 65 levels of Dreams, or whatever it's called? Done. Despite that bloody owl falling off his perch frequently.
Last night I noticed there were updates on the App Store. For Candy Crush. Another 30 or so night levels, another 15 of Saga.
Excuse me, I may be some time.
We decided to go to the cinema this weekend and finally chose this morning's showing of The Lego Movie. Really good fun, some good voice cameos and nostalgia for the adults (80s space guy - we had those!). The animation was stop-motion and CGI and worked well - they'd made a proper effort to make everything Lego, so fire was those plastic flames, water was the little clear blue single rounds, smoke the grey ones. It was really well done! We all had a good time and YB and I walked out singing the theme tune.
If you have kids who like Lego or like Lego yourself you could do worse than spend a wet evening in the cinema enjoying some family entertainment.