Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Five tiny triumphs

1. I defeat the forces of calcium carbonate

For the first time in several years I am drinking a cup of tea without each mouthful coming with a teaspoon of suspended limescale. Man, if I had known the obscure satisfaction of descaling the kettle before, I would have being doing it obsessively.

2. I reclaim my Saturdays

Despite it claiming to be full, I have, by dint of pleading and flattery and prayer, managed to enroll both my children in DORK SCHOOL on Saturday afternoons. It isn't called Dork School, of course. It is called something seductive and science related. I can't pretend they were white hot with enthusiasm but I do not much care, particularly since Lashes's only other suggestion for an extra-curricular activity was a faintly insolent "golf?" followed by some Muttley style sniggering. It is three hours on a Saturday afternoon and they will learn about circuitry or the water cycle or something. Perhaps they will love it, perhaps they won't. We all have our cross to bear. I will go and buy the English papers and go to "boring" shops filled with soft furnishings and clothes rather than mangas and Bakugans. I will go to exhibitions and drink cups of tea peacefully. Imagine, I'd even have time for a FILM, or better still, I could finally go to the Plasticarium. A hundred and fifty euros for a year of peaceful Saturday afternoons is an even bigger bargain than that time I got an 800 quid pashmina from Pickett for 80 quid, back when it wasn't shameful to admit to having a pashmina. This is transformative stuff (until they get expelled).

3. I accomplish ninja level administrative fuckwittery

I have tackled the complex Electrabel telephone "help"line ("si vous avez votre numéro de dossier à portée de main, tapez 1 et attendez jusqu'à ce qu'on vous remet tout au début du menu téléphonique, mais cette fois en néerlandais, crétin") without giving in to my impulse to throw the phone out of the attic window AND with alleged success (doubtful). AND I finished "plastifying" all the exercise books (AKA the world's most futile task) with only one complete catastrophe) AND I finished my VAT. AND I to the Post Office, AND it was empty AND I remembered to stock up on stamps andzzzzzzz. Ok, you can wake up now. Boring admini-boasting over.

4. I plan to leave the house

Later today I am going to assist my cleaning lady with a photo shoot I have roped her into. Mainly my rôle will probably involve saying "I am very sorry I roped you into this, please do not sack me", but it's an outing. On Thursday I am going to a dishwasher sponsored fashion show. This is deeply mysterious but my FREE tickets say they are worth €68 each (how???), so I can only assume there is a shred of entertainment, or possibly a free drink, to be had. Then next week I am going to London by myself like an adult for a couple of days (including to a party with an '80s dress code, I am thinking this) which is always cause for rejoicing, and planning how much Marks & Spencer's convenience food I can fit into my wheely case.

5. I walk the dog without simmering resentment

I have spoken before of my fundamental misunderstanding of the "walking" bit of dog ownership. In my head, pre-dog, I had assumed that the dog would come with me, in the manner of an elegant accessory, on nice walks to the shop and cafés. When we both got older, it could sit on my knee in Le Cirio and eat biscuits apéritifs while I got gently sozzled on 'alf en 'alf. I was soon disabused of this notion by weepette's intense fondness for running fast, pulling me along obnoxiously, entwining himself with my legs, grossly licking up puddles of other dogs' pee, barking at wastepaper baskets and other idiocies. Instead, I found myself condemned to daily trips to the park, a place I ordinarily avoid at all costs, due to having a head that is a ball and frisbee magnet. Occasionally, however, against my better judgment, I find myself enjoying it. Today was one of those days. We went to the wood and it was cold, with a pale wash of autumnal sun. On arrival a large fox trotted casually past us, jogging along the line of trees and ducking under the fence. Have there always been urban foxes? I don't remember ever seeing a fox in York growing up. I like them, anyway, them and the screeching green parakeets and the chipmunks I keep seeing in the Bois de la Cambre. All this odd, displaced fauna going about its business.

Weepette did not even notice the fox, anyway, nor did he harass me endlessly with vast, inappropriate half trees dropped at my feet every twenty seconds. The ground was littered with perfect fat conkers it was hard not to pick up and fill my pockets with. Annecy, the cold blooded attack terrier did not try to kill either of us. I did not have to talk to the Italian guy with the obese labrador. My ipod did not insist, as it usually does, that I listen to endless The XX tracks (I tired very quickly of The XX). It was a good morning.

Tell me your five tiny triumphs of recent weeks?


MargotLeadbetter said...

1) I took my small boy to school for the first time and did not cry until after I had left the building.

2) I only gained half a stone on holiday.

3) I am back at work but have managed to avoid catching the notice of any of my superiors as yet.

4) I brought some shoe boxes to work (we collect them; long story) that had only been cluttering up my hallway/car boot for a mere few months.

5) The half a bottle of wine I drank last night was Zinfandel, which is hardly alcoholic at all and, indeed, is practically a 'fruit-based beverage'.

normalityandme said...

ANOTHER medal for you! I think you're just showing off now ;)

Sarah said...

1. I successfully grilled zucchini.
2. I re-potted four houseplants.
3. I came home from a party without a single regret about anything I said.
4. I finally finished that giant bottle of Canadian Club.

katarney said...

1- I remembered to buy a mop as I was walking past a pound shop, not while I was trying to avoid spending all my wages in Waitrose, thus saving roughly £11.50

2- I managed to set up a digital radio hi-fi in 20 minutes, after the boyfriend sat staring at the unopened box for 5 days...

3- ...and managed to buy the required batteries for the remote control in less than a week.

4- The stickers and postcards I ordered for my band have arrived and they are fine and I didn't screw it up.

5- Putting the towels on a very hot wash so our bedroom no longer smells of mould.

Love your blog - I have been reading it for ages and can only apologise for never commenting before.

Lola said...

The world of the Interwebnet is very strange - I recognised your previous commenter from listening to the Naked Scientists podcasts (Hi Dr Kat! you don't know me), which doesn't intersect my world of blog. Anyway:

1. I have applied for two jobs (count them! two!) without missing the application deadline. It doesn't look as though they will give me interviews, though.

2. I have applied weedkiller to the patio, and realised that as soon as one lot of weeds are gone, another lot will grow, and I need something to annihilate Mother Nature instead.

3. I have maintained my weight loss. This does not belong in this list, because it is a Fucking Huge triumph rather than a tiny one.

4. I have cleaned the oven. Nuff said.

5. I have moved my entire online life into various Google environments, and now feel very vulnerable and scared.

wv: phyonize, which is what I shall be doing next to the weeds on the patio

katarney said...

Hi Lola! It is a small world on the intertube... Thanks for listening :)

Z said...

I completed Aqueduct on my iPad, the last level taking three days. Not continued daysworth of effort, you understand, I did eat and sleep, but several hours altogether.

On discovering that I was in the process of inviting most of the family for Sunday lunch, I turned a pound of mince and four pork steaks into food for 9 people, with enough left over to feed me and my husband for two further meals. In an hour and a half, including cooking time (which I spent in the supermarket buying puddings).

I succeeded in relaxing during the second half of August and didn't send a single business-related email.

I bought a birthday present for my son-in-law which received the enthusiastic response "Wow, I wasn't expecting this."

Today, my second-youngest grandson, aged around 14 weeks, finally stopped blanking me, looked me in the eye and gave me a big beaming smile. I'm the last in the family he's smiled at (my sister got the benefit the first time she met him) but I do not hold a grudge and I'm thrilled.

You have a cleaning lady? Damn. Everyone has a cleaning lady but me. I would get a cleaning lady, but I've got to clean the house first or die of shame. And when it's relatively clean, I think that wasn't so bad and if I did a bit every day I wouldn't need one, but then I don't for the next eight weeks and it's all so appalling that I can't let anyone see it again.

Aspasie said...

"...tapez 1 et attendez jusqu'à ce qu'on vous remet tout au début du menu téléphonique, mais cette fois en néerlandais, crétin"

This happens all the time, even the belgian consulate here in the states does this... I get all my hotmail notifications in flemmish, I've given up asking for the french speaking line and just started using the English one sigh.

B said...

1) Did not kill self at first Monday at new job.

2) Did not kill self when "handyman" ripped up ill-fitted new wooden floors in front bedroom and proclaimed that the problem is structural (although the floors before never had this problem).

3) Did not kill self when mopey partner insisted on watching the remake of "Clash of the Titans" upon my return from 14-hour workday at new job.

4) Did not kill self when doing hundreds of pounds of damage to partner's car first time driving in country to which I have just recently moved in which one is forced to drive on the bizarre side of the road.

5) Did not kill self for missing Waffle so very goddamn much.

6) Drank a shitton of whisky last night by oneself.

MsCaroline said...

Congratulations to you on all you've accomplished, and I love the name 'dork school.' Our dog is presently in Canada living with my cousin while we are in Seoul, but reading about your walks with Weepette (who I cannot help thinking of as female, due to the 'ette' ending, sorry) makes me think fondly of our labrador, who specializes in rolling in shxt(other dogs', but anyone's, really) and anything that is decomposing.

Debbie said...

Snap. I saw an urban fox this morning too. He made quite a show of pretending to chase mice in the field beside the parking lot, but I think he probably just eats out of the garbage bins.

J. said...

Dang, BW, you are on a roll. You would be an inspiration to me if I wasn't so damn lazy.

5 tiny triumphs:
-I didn't gain any weight over the last seven days between my prenatal MD appointments. (I've gained more than enough already.)
-While at the grocery store I remembered that the 8 family members we'd invited round for pre-dinner drinks and post-dinner dessert would probably be expecting to be fed and watered, and so was able to shop accordingly.
-I showed up at the birthday dinner with enough cash to pay my share of the bill.
-I remembered to use up some slightly dodgy produce before it went totally off (I even baked zucchini bread).
-I actually productively worked all 10 of the hours I spent at my place of employment today instead of alternately staring into space and obsessively Googling stuff that may get me fired one day.

Anonymous said...

1. began diet and have shifted the scale -down- 2 lb in 3 days (this rate of progress won't last but it is thrilling, and I am counting it as 1, 2 and 3)
4. climbed into the attic and remedied the problem whereby the air conditioner circulating vent was sucking attic insulation into the filter, choking it and setting off the top floor smoke alarm with the dust
5. damaged (oops!) and then repaired (yay!) giant urn fountain that dominates my tiny garden, only getting stainy glue on one knee.

Margaret said...

Z: Exactly why I don't have a housekeeper. I need to stop doing this. Here's my plan: Watch a marathon of "Hoarders: Buried Alive," look around my home and realize how horrifying it isn't, and call a damn cleaning woman already.

1. Finally got around to grouting the kitchen counter/backsplash edge.

2. Did not go on murderous, stressed-out rampage of killing and mayhem when my long-awaited and desperately needed vacation was fucked over by Hurricane Irene.

3. Made a mammogram appointment.

4. Did NOT scream and cry at spouse for picking the absolute worst time to decide to refinance our mortgage. (Is there ever a good time to fill out reams of paperwork? No, there is not.)

5. Have continued to remove my makeup and moisturize EVERY SINGLE NIGHT before bed. I still have the complexion of Burgess Meredith, but I feel virtuous.

frau antje said...

Anti-triumphs (?), as follows:

1. Can't find the several boxes of Calgon for the clothes washer that I obsessively bought--which means no laundry at present, because I am obsessive. And then there's that fucking cross to bear. I'm not even coordinated enough to mend cashmere while wearing it. It's so comforting, who knew?

2. Am only tempted to throw self out attic window, but there's one or two I'd like to squish, so it's way too complicated.

3. Sure, leave the house. You might just be the type.

4. No admin boasting here, I vaguely remember that accounts receivable means money (somebody pointed it out), that's the extent of it.

5. We do have to bark at our trash receptacles in Holland. Saw a guy kick it last week. Joy. I am the only thing around that screeches, however, odd, displaced fauna that I am.

(Word to the wise, they WILL be expelled for drunken brawling, especially if you've had this problem with them before.)

Fat Controller said...

Difficult to muster five triumphs this week, even small ones, even infinitessimal, irrelevant ones. Better luck next week, eh?

However I do have a top tip as to what to do with all those conkers when you're tired of sticking cocktail sticks into them and making little animal figures out of them.

A bowl of conkers in a room will allegedly keep spiders at bay.

tracy said...

I can only think of one. Is that okay? If I just keep alert for others?

Only refreshed email screen eight times every ten minutes in anxious desire to get response from someone, even though I know it will be six months before they even open my email, let alone answer it.

Xtreme English said...

Five tiny accomplishments?

1. I got a new library card after poking along for 18 months without one.

2. I got the kitchen drain working again in my new place with my miracle, nobody-will-believe-me cure of washing a small handful of kosher salt (the chunky kind) down the disposal with BOILING WATER. I do this a couple times a week whenever I think of it and have half a kettle of boiling water on hand from making tea. And now the damn thing drains!!

3. I contacted the network company with which I've registered my domain name and asked them how to get a website going so I can drive off the squatters who have been using my domain name in the meantime.

4. I identified a number of very small pieces of china--what you call them, and who makes them--that a busy friend wanted to evaluate. I was sorry to tell her that, though decorative, they're practically worthless.

5. I cooked a very tasty Thai chicken curry from a recipe that calls for 1/2 a cup of fresh ginger! Definitely a first.

Patience_Crabstick said...

I wish I knew how to descale a teakettle.
My triumphs:
1. I finished a big project at work.
2. I got up the courage to put my bike on one of those bike racks on the front of a bus and nothing horribly embarrassing happened.
3. I didn't force myself to finish a book I wasn't enjoying.
4. I went to a wedding to which everyone in Charlottesville who hates me was also invited. (I had NO idea the bride was friends with all these terrible people. But I drank several glasses of wine and had fun anyway.

Margaret said...

Patience: is your picture Cherry Ames, Dude Ranch Nurse? What did you do to make all these Charlottesville folk hate you? Is it a Southern thing? I'm a Yankee so I'm
fascinated by this. I have a friend who is hated in Lexington, but she's lovely so I dont understand why.

The Reluctant Launderer said...

I packed for self, two ugrateful offspring, and an even more ungrateful spouse for a two week family holiday (or rather "holiday"). As a result we ran out of clothes two days ago (three days after arriving) and I'm back to being a laundry slave. But on the plus side we have enough nappies and sunscreen for the entire resort.
That achievement - plus the laundry, plus trying not to shriek too much at the Boy in public - has more or less wiped me out I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Descaling the kettle is one of the most satisfying things in the world.
I do it with vinegar - just pour it in, leave it, rinse when all the crap is dissolved. You can hear it fizzle! Awesome.

Waffle said...

You are all WINNEUSES.

Kat - Hello! You know I know your sister, right?

B - I keep looking at the postcard of the puffin YOU ATE and choking back tears. Grave times.

Tracy - One tiny triumph is more than I've mustered in several days. You still get to claim TOTAL WINNEUSE status.

Nimble said...

1. Started new job. Have fought off waves of feeling inadequate. Have learned a few ways to be useful. Am tap dancing for the rest.
2. Got kids started in their new school year. Have to keep reminding myself that oldest is in 4th grade. Next year will be her last of elementary school . Oy.
3. Got my husband to set up our new hand-me-down computer. I announced that we should have it set up by the middle of this month. Have made a note to use my Power of Announcement wisely.
4. Put beeswax shoe polish on my shoes this morning and they look so much better. Have only been meaning to do that for 20 months or so.
5. The fruit flies that infest my new workplace have not killed me. I did have one get up my nose yesterday which had known was coming. I kill *them* when I can. (which is rarely because they're tiny erratic fliers.)

Jessica said...

1) Have booked my first ever dr's appointment in Belgium, all by myself, and will go there comme une grande, toute seule.

2) Finally had a reason and the guts to tell my employer that if I am hurt according to my doctor, I will not work until he says I can. (risky business, being sensible like this, when you work in HORECA.)

3) Have bought into a year's worth of spanish lessons. Have been slowly working on my spanish in little bits here and there, but this is the first *real démarche* into making this language another I could communicate in.

4) Have found not one, but two or three possible courses which could be the next step in my culinary/chocolatier progress. Deciding between them and booking into one will of course be the bigger victory.

5) Have resisted purchasing stationary supplies, despite the alluring piles of the stuff placed in practically every store for the moment. I, too am being 'virtuous' and telling myself that until I use what I have I cannot have any more.