Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fresh from the garden

Four weeks ago, I planted seeds. Today, we ate salad -- picked in between torrential downpours. This was SO easy: tip seeds into rows, cover with a little soil, let the July rains do their work, and hey presto -- food!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Woody perennials

Buddleia is, in gardening circles, also known as the butterfly bush. This morning, it was easy to see why: the purple flowers on the bush outside our front door were covered in them. Luckily, these were too high up to make playthings for the cats -- others that have flown into the conservatory by mistake have not been so lucky. Pretty, aren't they?

Sexism in the home

A Southern Electricity employee comes round to read the meter. This is no easy task, as it sits behind a fixed panel, near the ceiling in the office downstairs. As the taller member of our domestic partnership is away for the day, I haul out the stairs and the tool kit. "Right, Phillips head screwdriver" I mutter to myself.

"Oooh," cries the meter man. "Well done! Not many women know what a Phillips head screwdriver even is!"

I take a deep breath and refrain from plunging said screwdriver into his head and removing an eyeball and what few brains sit behind it. After all, I would hate to perpetuate the boring notion that feminists don't have a sense of humor. Or ruin a perfectly good Phillips head screwdriver.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Best sentence of the week

Yes, I know it's only Monday, but I doubt anything will top this:

"Being a vegetarian in France is like being an intellectual in Ipswich. You stand out like a sore thumb, no one understands you and frankly everyone just wishes you’d leave – as quickly as possible."

Thank you, Woman in Black.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Spine flu

Bantam Books, you're on notice (as Stephen Colbert would say). Why are they the target of my (righteous or otherwise) ire? Because they publish the Bryant & May novels by Christopher Fowler -- a series of seven books so far -- and they've already changed the spine design THREE times. To whit:

The first two books in the series: Author above, title below in thick caps, and a box around. Even here, they have two variations on a theme, with the author name in yellow and then white.

The next two: Author above in multicolored font, title below in thin caps, no box, but a story-related icon at the bottom of the spine.

The final two (that I own): Author either above or alongside the title but in very thin, spiky caps; title in white, near-cursive font. No box, icons at the bottom.

It's infuriating! Why would you keep changing the spine design for a series? Not only does it make it harder to pick the books out from a bookstore shelf, but they don't look connected on MY bookshelf. Orion did the same thing with Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus novels, changing the spine font halfway through the series -- highly annoying when you're collecting all 20. Everyone knows that a row of classic Penguins — be they orange for literature, green for detective fiction, or blue for science — is a thing of beauty because of its standardization, not despite it.

And don't get me started on the year-long wait for the paperback version of the B&M novels to be released after the hard-back ...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's just not my day

Two mice -- dead.

Two packets of Felix "As Good As It Gets" (or whatever the more expensive stuff is called) -- uneaten.

And now this. My beautifully folded laundry -- sullied.

Don't test my patience (any further), kittens. I am NOT in the mood.

Oh, am I boring you? Tough! And look at me when I'm talking to you!

Oi, Fungi! No!

Not again! Why me? Why my lawn? Why why why?

Yes, I'm really quite upset about this.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Did you know?

That there are seagulls in Bath?

And that seagulls don't sleep?

And that they prefer to squawk loudly at each other -- All. Night. Long?

You would probably only know this if you stayed in a hotel room in Bath that overlooked the River Avon, home of said seagulls.

ASBOs are too good for 'em; pass me my air rifle.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I'm impressed

Alibris: I owe you an apology. I received an email this morning from a named customer service rep, telling me that I didn't need to return the book they wrongly sent me. She suggested that if I didn't want it, I should pass it on to a friend or donate it to a library. Fast, efficient, thoughtful service -- outstanding!

Monday, July 06, 2009

A dilemma

I receive two packages from Alibris. One contains the book I ordered. The other contains an art book that someone in Australia ordered but that Alibris decided to ship to me instead.

Being a good global citizen, I head over to the Web site to check out what I should do. Hmm. It's easy enough to return books that YOU ordered and that YOU don't want; it's less obvious how you print out a return slip for a book that you didn't order and don't want.

Let's see, Contact Us -- that should do it. The only phone number is a US one -- not that they tell you that, of course. Right, an automated email form. They want an order number -- let's use the one from the Australian order. And off it goes, into the ether.

I am somewhat skeptical that I will ever receive a (helpful) response. Oh well, looks like I'll be able to learn to read Chinese paintings, should the mood take me.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

We hear voices in the allotment

"Can we go home now please, Dad?"

There is no reply. The rain continues to pour down.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Does my Shin look fat in this?

No, no she doesn't.* And you know why? Because she's lost more than half a kilo in weight! We took the girls to the vet this morning for their checkup and vaccination booster, and she had come down from 4.3 kg in February to 3.7 now. This is great news, although it means we won't qualify for Sky's highly educational "Fat Pets, Fat Owners" show. Damn.

*Well, maybe a little.