Friday, 25 May 2007

Descent of the Spawn.

A brief word about the previous post, as I've just reread it and made myself laugh (the height of self-centredness, I know) by writing:

"That's all that's happened today, of interest. Oh - we drove past a field with two horses in it."

My life really is a thrill a minute. It has at least been slightly more interesting over the past 24 hours by the arrival of Sister and sons, who arrived in typical typhoon manner and soon created a fair degree of very welcome havoc. I like HC to look lived in, and having children's clothes, toys and general paraphernalia all over the place certainly lends a homeliness to the place.

They arrived a couple of hours after Sister's original estimate, as her meeting with the architect who's planning the rebuild of the White House (not that one) took an hour or so longer than predicted. When they did arrive, it was clear Gemmill was delighted to see us. He made some impressive gun noises and thrust his green Power Ranger in my face, declaring he was out to save the world. On the other hand, Wrecker was far less enthusiastic. He'd just woken up and was all crumpled, and couldn't have given two curly turds about his aunties. Once all were ushered into the kitchen, Gemmill's first proper words turned out to be:

"Auntie Seshat, is there a surprise for me?"

Cheeky fecker. And, of course, I'd completely forgotten to pick anything up for him. I improvised and said there wasn't anything at the moment but that if he waited, he might have a surprise later. His little face fell to his boots, but apart from looking like someone had just drowned his puppy, he said not a word. Naturally, this made me leap in my car, drive to St Andrews and buy him a Green Power Ranger Minotaur Dragon. Frankly, I was pretty excited about it. It's a bit like a transformer, in that it goes from the Green Ranger into an actual dragon. You tuck the head into its chest and flip forward the dragon's head instead. Then you pull out the wings from behind the ranger's forearms, pull feet from behind his shoulders, and attach the battleaxe to his feet so it looks like the end of his tail. A mighty beast!

As you can tell, I was pretty jealous of Gemmill. Anyway, when I got home they'd all gone up the hill to visit the Faerie Tree, with dogs (which was great, because our dogs hadn't had a proper walk in ages and were probably fit to explode with the amount of stored poop within them), so I hid the Power Ranger under Gemmill's duvet and headed out to join them. Naturally, I searched for them in entirely the wrong direction, and even making loud Siamang noises (the family signal) didn't alert them to my presence. I only found them after I'd gone back down the hill and Tali ran up to greet me, wagging her tail like crazy and threatening to put muddy paws all over my clean jeans. I fended her off, but when I found Fisher and Sister & sons, Baffie - who was even more covered in mud than Tali - planted big paw-dollops all over me. Then, when Bridie eventually deigned to join us, no doubt having killed and devoured whatever it was she was chasing, she only had to brush against me to cover me in the worst smelling mud I've ever had the dubious privilege of encountering. According to Fisher, she'd found a puddle and literally wiped herself from ear to tail in the most noxious part, while Baffie ground her butt into it.

On the walk home, Gemmill pinched a tulip from one of our neigbour's gardens. He then fell on his face and set up a great howling, which was quickly diverted by me showing him the scrape on my knee I'd given myself by falling over during tennis on Monday. (I'd just like to point out that, while I was scrabbling about on my knees, the opposition fired the ball at me! Not exactly sporting behaviour - and therefore something I have the utmost respect for). Because my scrape was considerably more impressive than his, and he was allowed to poke it, serious tears were diverted. He'd also managed to avoid crushing the tulip, so all was well.

That is, all was well until he fell over a second time, utterly crushed the tulip, and remained inconsolable until we got back to the house and I told him I'd play "hot and cold" with him, and that the thing he had to find was his Surprise. What joy! He didn't quite understand what I meant by "hot and cold" but was willing to give my lunacy the benefit of the doubt if it meant a prize at the end for him. He had to wait while we hosed down the dogs, which he did with remarkable patience, and then I told him, in excited tones:

"Somewhere in this house is your Surprise! You start looking for it, and if you're close I'll say 'hot hot hot' and if you're far away I'll say 'cold cold cold'. All right?"

He agreed that the rules of this game were acceptable, and when I said "go" ... he went straight into his bedroom and flipped back the duvet. So much for "hot and cold." And his reaction to the toy?

"Oh look. Another green Power Ranger."

Actually, as soon as he'd figured out that it was different to his motorbike-riding Ranger (I believe it's called a 'Mystic Racer') he was quite thrilled. I showed him how to put it all together, and then how to change him from Green Power Ranger to Dragon mode, and how he stood up in both forms, and how his weapon works as both battleaxe and tail, and how best to play with him, and how best to play with him and the Mystic Racer, and after that I let him hold it for a while - but that was a mistake, because then he wouldn't give it back. He even took it into the bath with him, and I bet the joints all stiffen up - and I bet he loses the battleaxe, too.

Yes. Anyway, it was a success.

I think I mentioned I'd planned on having Minstrel and Brave Bird round for supper. Brave Bird had a hysterectomy about a month ago and is off work, so I wanted to have her round to see how she's doing. Unfortunately, I woke up feeling that the last thing I wanted to do was have a dinner party, and recognised that it was probably the last thing Sister wanted, either - so I cancelled. We'd seen her the day before, so at least we'd had a chance to catch up with her. She's doing well - back to driving next week, so she won't be quite so housebound. Although, it seems to me that her myriad of friends takes good care of her. Her 50th birthday (50!!!?? She looks 1o years younger) is coming up in ... er ... sometime ... and she's got a list of 150 people already. I struggled to find 10 people to forward some crappy email to (although I did have to try and find 10 people who wouldn't automatically disown me for sending crappy chain emails). But then, she is chirpy, funny and immediately likeable while I am serious, grumpy and immediately frightening (according to Janus, anyway) so it's not that surprising our circles of friends differ so widely in size.

I digress, but considering I digress from events that aren't particularly fascinating in themselves, I may as well continue to do so. The reason we took Brave Bird out for coffee yesterday was because I went for a run, followed by a swim, while Fisher went swimming. I set out from home and headed the back way to Cupar - which it turns out is really quite hilly. I was doing ok when I got the most unbearable pain in my lower belly. I ran with it for about a mile, but I simply had to stop. It's the first time I've ever had to stop before my goal was achieved, and I was truly pissed off about it. I sat at the side of the road and tried to stretch it out, but nothing worked. Before I'd had time to get rid of it, Fisher drove by. She'd given me 30 minutes before leaving the house, so that I could run 5k. I managed 2.8 miles, which I did in 34 1/2 minutes, and it still pisses me off now that I couldn't finish. I have no idea what happened, but it was pretty excrutiating. I don't feel that I was particulatly tired, and considering all the hills I'm still content with the time I managed (reckon I'd have done 5k in under 37 minutes, as the last bit was all downhill), but the pain simply knocked me over, and I couldn't run it off. At least I did all the hills and didn't stop at the bottom of the last one, which was when I said, out loud:

"That's it! I'm done!"

I then told myself to run as far as that tree, and then that tree, and then I may as well get to the top of the hill. I ran another twenty paces after that, and then simply stopped. And lay down.

Interesting that 2 cars passed by as I lay by the side of the road, and neither of them thought to check if I was all right. Feckers.

Anyway, Fisher came and sat beside me until I'd recovered enough to get into the car. The pain did pass, so I can only think it was running on too full a stomach or something. By the time we'd reached the Sports Centre I was just about ready to have my swim, although I wasn't exactly thrilled about it. Christ, swimming is tiring - and even more boring than running! I managed about 6 or 7 sets of 4 lengths, with 2 lengths crawl, 2 lengths breast-stroke, followed by a rest. Then I just couldn't stand the idea of doing any more through sheer boredom. It was about 30 minutes in total.

Oh - Fisher couldn't resist challenging me to a race - despite the fact it was the least fair thing in the world, with me knackered from the outset. But she appears to need to beat me at stuff, so fair enough. She beat me. I swim with the speed and grace of a rotten log - something I feel is a source of shame to my ultra-speedy mother, who is like greased lightning in a pool. I remember when, at school, there was a 'parents, teachers and pupils' relay race. My Mum was up against some flashy teenager and Mr Rosen the woodwork teacher who, while older than her, was incredibly fit.

She sooo kicked their arses. And she started behind them. The whole audience just watched with dropped jaws as this middle-aged woman cut through the water like a hungry swordfish, utterly destroying the opposition. I was so very chuffed ... until the end of her length when she hoisted herself out and put on the skankiest, most threadbare, shittiest-brown dressing gown you've ever seen - and then began roaring with laughter and pulling dog biscuit crumbs out of the pockets.

Where the hell was I?

Oh yes, digressing.

Back to Sister & sons - after the walk, the boys were fed, watered, bathed and put to bed while I went out and collected some Thai food to answer Sister's traditional craving when she comes to stay. I'd recommend the Rama Thai to anyone if they're in Dundee. The only Thai that's bettered it was Thai Me Up in Edinburgh, and that didn't manage to survive. By the time I got it home, the boys were in bed - but Gemmill was far from asleep. He came through to say hello and Sister allowed him to sit with us, on the understanding that this was grown-up time and he had to be very quiet. He wasn't - but nor was he in any way interested in sleeping. He was made to go back to bed at 9pm, but was still chattering to himself and making occasional forays into the corridor at 10. Eventually he fell asleep, leaving us to watch TV and talk about Sister's plans for the White House, which sound extremely exciting. Not that I can remember what they are, but I was enthused at the time so they must be good.

Today we were woken at 7.30 by the little darlings racing about and hollering, but managed another hour in bed before hauling ourselves into the shower for baby-sitting duties while Sister went to get her car radio fixed in Cupar. Fisher took charge of Wrecker, who is her God-son and can do no wrong, while I tried to entertain a Gemmill who was determined not to be entertained. TV occupied him for a while. They he played with his plastic boats until he needed "to play with something more exciting." He wanted me to play Power Rangers with him, but my imagination had been deadened by poor sleep, so I found a Power Rangers site on t'interweb with a game on it. Bad idea. He was utterly unable to grasp making the little red Ranger jump in a direction, despite me showing him over and over again. He's not, in any way, a co-ordinated child, and simply couldn't hold one button down while pressing another. It didn't help that he wouldn't listen either, or even watch properly. He wanted to press the buttons, but became frustrated when he kept dying because he'd made the Ranger run into a fiery pit of some description, or get frazzled by a fireball. Still, he was having a good time. Trouble came when Sister returned and I decided that a) the game really wasn't progressing, b) my knee was starting to develop a child-buttock indentation and c) it would be nice if Gem greeted his mother upon her return.

He didn't want to greet his mother. He wanted to play the Power Rangers game. A tantrum followed, which I was perfectly happy to ignore - and after attempting to coax him out of it and failing - so was Sister. We made plans to go and see the robot at Sensation, knowing that Gem was enchanted by it last time he saw it, and luckily this new distraction was enough to dissipate the storm and bring smiles to his cherubic, punchable little face. (There was a slight hiccup when he suddenly bellowed "I DON'T WANT to go anywhere!" followed bafflingly by "I WANT to go and see the robots!" Assured that he would see the robots, all was calm once more. The child's a fruit loop).

To the robots at Sensation we went, but while Gem was happy with a few things, like the machine that builds a simple plastic robot to your specifications and the platform that plays musical notes when you tread on it, he was mostly a little overwhelmed. Unlike the other times we've been there, it was packed to the rafters with children and the bustle was a bit much for him. He had a good nosey, but when he found very little to his liking, he was relatively easily persuaded to go to the DCA for some lunch. Meanwhile, Wrecker was happy enough just toddling about trying to break things, and seeking out as many dangerous stairways as possible. Auntie Fisher became very frazzled very quickly.

Lunch at the DCA is always a little hit and miss, and I'd say it was - for me - a major miss. I ordered an onion-loaf sandwich of roast beef, only to be given a slush sandwich. As well as thin slices of roast beef, they'd filled the bread with a mess of fried onions and mushrooms, which was texturally repulsive and, remarkably, tasted of very little. I'm not sure how they managed to make onions taste of nothing, but there we go. Sister's beef nachos were a disappointment too, as they weren't spicy enough - but the kiddie plates were good, and Fisher's flatbread sarnie was fine. Gem was adorable during lunch, insisting on giving me a kiss on my hand, and a big hug, as well as entertaining the baby behind us with a 3 year old's version of peekaboo, which was a little more boisterous than Sister was comfortable with.

After a quick trip to the DCA shop, where Sister picked up some great whisky tumblers for a friend's birthday, the visit was over. They went Oban-wards, while we headed home with many fond waves. As usual, the house seemed empty and quiet without them. It's astonishing how quickly you become used to the noise and bustle of a family. We briefly discussed having Christmas at HC, which would be perfect for us - but who knows what Ma & Pa, or Brother & Gaura want to do. But that's a concern for another day. We've got more than enough on our plate with Spain, Iceland, Ireland and Skye to look forward to ... plus a potential trip to the States, which has to be high on my agenda.



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