Tuesday, 28 June 2011

fenngirl is on the move...

I have decided to dip my toes into the Wordpress waters and have moved my content lock, stock and barrel over to fenngirl.wordpress.com. Please follow me over there - it will be more of the same and maybe something a little different....

It's a work in progress, so don't be alarmed at the rank amateurism! I hope you want to follow me on the new one. I'm hoping it'll give me a new blogtastic lease of life...

Saturday, 11 June 2011

In the park on our own...

One sunny evening, it was just me and O...

YouTube Video

We made music and did silly photos....

It had been a very hard week, but chilling out with the squirrels made it better...

I am determined to keep finding the joy in the little things - those things really are the ones that make life worth living...

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Eating book corners and leaping off a mountain...

I was tagged by two lovely bloggy chums, the comical Laura at Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy and Elsie Anderton at Babylon Lane Tales. The meme was created by Kerry at Mrs Lister Writes and is based on the Q&A in the Guardian Weekend supplement. I have been reading these articles on a Saturday for years, so the chance to answer my own was a pleasure and also strangely difficult. Laura and Elsie did themselves proud with their answers -  here's my go...

Which living person do you most admire, and why? 
Oh, bugger. All I can think of is people who are dead or who I fancy - I'm so emo and shallow.

When were you last happiest?
One lazy afternoon a few weeks ago, when time stood still and I felt like me again.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
There are many, but the one that springs to mind is a body-racking, nose-snorting uncontrollable fit of hysteria on a non-fixed pew during Midnight Mass. It still makes me want to curl up in a ball...

Aside from property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
My car - she's only a Skoda Fabia, but she's sleek and black and has the most amazing grille. I fell in love with that grille and had to have her. I didn't realise that I had a latent love of shiny car grilles till I met Flash Fabia...

What is your most treasured possession? 
Old Teddy - my Gran's teddy. He's in his eighties and I love him so. He's fragile and his wood shaving innards are poking out of his chin, but he's lovely...

Where would you like to live?
I am a real home bird - I want to live at home with my friends and family around me. I'd like my house to grow more rooms and a bigger garden, but I'm not really as bothered as I used to be. Am trying to live life in a contented way and live it now. It's not in my nature - I hardly ever live in the moment, but I keep trying...

What’s your favourite smell?
Sun-warmed cat and my Gran's Ponds cream and Max Factor powder scent...

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Would have to be Winona Ryder or if I was really pushing it, my idol, Twin Peaks' Audrey Horne, the wonderful Sherilyn Fenn. Oh, I love her....

What is your favourite book? 
So many, I can't choose. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitzyn, The Diary of Anne Frank, Wuthering Heights and What Katy Did at School spring to mind...

What is your most unappealing habit?
Eating the corners of my books. I really have to rein it in when I'm reading ones I've borrowed. The taste of book leaves is something earthy and splendid. *cackles insanely*

What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
Something with a corset, pinched in and pushed up. Perhaps with stockings. That's is the way I roll.

What is your earliest memory?
In my cot, licking my finger and making little wet marks on the kittens wallpaper of my bedroom. I can still remember the feeling of satisfaction and peace it gave me.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Sleep, or failing that, just lying down. I am slothful by nature and hibernation is my default setting. Don't judge me - I am so good at it, it would be a crime not to.

What do you owe your parents?
Where do you start with this? Without them and the start they gave me, where would I be today?

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
To my mum and dad for inadvertently giving them so much grief during my late teens. So sorry.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
M. I loves him....

What does love feel like?
It's a ball of cosy warmth, shot through with sparks of lust

What was the best kiss of your life?
Pressed up against a dirty, sweaty nightclub wall. Aren't all the best ones?

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
"I can't find it"
"I'm tired"
"Cock weasel"

What is the worst job you’ve done?
Packing during summer holidays at university. £4 an hour, packing all manner of crap. The worst had to be packing the cheap toiletries in shredded tissue paper. After a morning's work packing the lilac tissue into the little basket, I would blow my nose and the snot would be pure lilac. Hideous...

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I'd have worn a helmet on my recent return to roller-skating. Skull fractures are no fun for anyone, least of all a long-suffering family who have done enough looking after the invalid.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Sat in Ward 15 after my first chemo, waiting for CT scan results to see whether a shadow on my lung was secondary breast cancer. The remembrance of the searing fear and horror of those two days still makes my heart pound. I am thankful every day that it turned out to be a chest infection.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I am a total scaredy-cat, but I once jumped off a 6500 foot mountain which was like an enormous 'fuck-you' to the anxiety I have battled all my life. I'm a simple soul, with delusions of incipient greatness. I haven't done anything particularly outstanding in my life, but discovering that I'm good at being a mother is a pleasing revelation.

When did you last cry, and why?
Today when I was too tired to think straight.

How do you relax?
Reading, preferably in a prone position on the bed, even better if under the duvet. Also having the most fantastic tickle fights with little O.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
For someone to tell me that I will never have cancer again

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
For fuck's sake, stop mithering about and just get on with it. I struggle to adhere to this one, but keep on trying. Oh - and always wear a helmet when roller-skating.

My turn to tag. I am late to the party as usual, so they may have done the deed, but I pick:

'kin Hogkin's

I hope you are up for it, ladies. Would love to nosy at your answers...

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Gallery - Green

I wasn't going to do a Gallery post this week, but here I am live- blogging as we walk (actually I'm plonked on the grass as O and M play 'throw the rocket'. The photo was too green and cheeky to miss out, plus our Gallery-mistress, Tara, loves a good tree.

Spot Cranidos (O's latest Pokemon incarnation) lurking in the foliage...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, 18 April 2011

Religious education...

A conversation in our house this week...

O: Mummy, what colour do you think Easter is?

Me: Well, yellow I think. All the Easter chicks and the daffodils...

O: (cutting in) Mummy, daffodils are not Easter. Anyway, I think it's brown.

Me: Oh, OK...

O: For the Cross and for the crown of thorns...

Me: (eagerly) And the chocolate eggs

O: (with a look of haughty and pitying disdain): Mummy, I am talking about the TRUE meaning of Easter...

Me: Oh, right. Sorry about that....

I was definitely put in my place....

Monday, 28 March 2011

Hairstyling - or borderline child cruelty...

Week 52 of Tara's Gallery. It doesn't seem two minutes, etc, etc. This week the theme is Hair and I am so looking forward to seeing the bad hairstyles on offer from my fellow bloggers.

In 2008, I was recovering from breast cancer treatment and my hair was growing back slowly. For a pictorial demonstration of the loss and the regrowth, pop to this previous Gallery post. It was good to have it back, don't get me wrong, but I missed my long locks and straightening my pixie crop with mini-straighteners just didn't cut the mustard. What could I do? How could I sate my lust for rampant hairstyling?

It was then that my eyes fell upon 4 year old O. A boy with lucious curly locks, tousled and bouncy. AND RIPE FOR THE STRAIGHTENING!

He was pliant and still as I impressed upon him the need not to move as I brandished the scorching GHDs. He went from this:

to this, in a matter of minutes:

I know he looks sad - but it was a transient sadness. I do have a beaming photo - look!

Yes, it was wrong, but these were desperate times. Now I've got my own wild curly mane (chemo can make your hair come back curly) and my straightening days are long behind me. It takes far to long to even achieve a wavy kink out of the new hair. But O is safe too - I think at the ripe old age of six, he would tell me in no uncertain terms to PUT THE STRAIGHTENERS DOWN, MUMMY!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Liebster Award - spreading some bloggy love

I received this lovely award from Kerry over at Kerry on Living and was moved to blushing by her kind comments. The idea behind the award is to spread a little loving into quiet corners of the blogging world and hopefully introduce readers to new and amazing blogs. I was grinning like a fool when I got my award! Thank you, Kerry, for my award - I am touched and grateful.

My mission, which I have accepted is:

1) Create a post on my blog and add the Liebster blog image.

2) Link back to the person who gave me the award and say if I accept.

3) Choose 3-5 of my favourite blogs, link to these in my post and tell these lucky bloggers that they've been tagged.

So, who to choose? There are so many blogs I visit and enjoy and it has been difficult, but here are my three picks:

The utterly delightful and talented Doodlemum, whose blog is a riot of fantastic drawings, documenting her everyday (and often fantastical) life with her children. I don't think I can convey in words just how much I love this blog! The drawings are tender, funny and honest and I want one on my bedroom wall...

Jane @ How I Like My Coffee is an inspiration to me. She writes funny and intelligent stuff on her blog and takes some great photographs too. She's got a wild leaping cat called Tao who is totally awesome and her writing always says something to me. Jane has leukaemia, but her blog is not a well of hideous cancer misery - it is life-affirming and I love it.

Suzanne over at Sky Blue Sea is a talented artist and makes beautiful things. I love her blog as her art and the way she writes about it has a nostalgic air and love just comes tumbling out of the pages as you read. She is warm and friendly and an all-round good sort. Get over there and check out her wares!

So there are my bloggy-loves. Please go and check them out and please spread a little blog love around yourselves if you'd like to.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Gallery - Tree elf

It's Week 50 of the Gallery and the theme this week is trees. Tara over at Sticky Fingers loves trees with a passion.

I share this love. Some of my happiest memories are of walks in the woods with M - long, lazy walks just enjoying the silence under the leafy canopy. We take O on these walks now and I'm hoping he too will grow to love trees as much as I do.

Growing up in Halifax, we were lucky to have the most wonderful woods as our playground. There were rocks and gnarled old oaks and we had the freedom to roam free. It was a magical place - away from the strictures of parents and prying eyes. We could let our imaginations run riot - I remember one alarming incident with a burning candle and a large dry pile of leaves. Thank goodness parents didn't know what we were up to. This fills my parental heart with trepidation - what on earth will O get up to when his independence grows?!

I can't wait for the trees to burst out into greenery and blossom this year. Winter has seemed so long this year - it will be a relief to wave goodbye to it.

My photo for the Gallery this week celebrates the joy to be had in the woods - a little bit of tree-hugging if you like, by my very own little tree elf.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, 7 March 2011

The woes of homework

As I sit here, six year old O is doing his homework and I am surreptitiously blogging on my phone. It is 7.30 and most definitely not the time to be doing homework for a tired little boy. The idea was to do the homework at the weekend when we were all a little more relaxed and had time to devote to the devoirs.

However, O seems to have inherited my dreamy, lackadaisical approach to organisation and although the homework sheet was handed out last Tuesday, it only made it home today. I had instructed him to remember it every single day last week and even written in his diary so his teacher could prod him but to no avail. The sheet remained in his drawer.

I was going to leave the homework undone and leave him to face the consequences (doing the homework at playtime). I toyed with writing a note for his teacher asking her to emphasise the importance of bringing his homework home and to reinforce my words.

O's desperate face of horror made me relent and hence, we are sat here doing the homework when he should be in bed. I hope we are finished before midnight.

I am not a big fan of homework for primary school children - it seems to me that they do enough at school and extra work is total overkill. Surely there should be time for relaxing or playing or watching TV when you're six, especially after six hours at school. We've got spelling and maths to tackle as well, but not tonight.

The only saving grace is that he seems to be enjoying writing his story about Magnoman. I just wish it wasn't past bedtime.

Along with O's homework and school diary, we had a letter home from school about a company which offers 'a home based complement' to schoolwork. It made me fizz a little. The school say they don't actively endorse the service, but the leaflet is attached to a letter on school letter-headed paper. It seems a little odd to me. What message is the school sending out? Do they think it's a good idea? Obviously only children with parents who can afford the service will be able to benefit and again, children are giving up their playtime to study. It makes me feel uncomfortable. Perhaps I'm being naive, but I really don't like the implications behind this letter.

Am I alone in feeling this way? How do the rest of you feel?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 27 February 2011

The Haunted Wood - bringing a 70s childhood to a 21st century child

I was born in 1974 (I know - you're all stunned). This post looks back to the 70s. Those of you who remember a 70s childhood will hopefully be taken back to your own  infanthood and those who are too young will be briefly and magically transported to those crazy times.

A few weeks ago I was going to Leeds with O to meet friends. Unfortunately, I had no change for the parking, so we popped into one of the local charity shops to get some. I told O to look on the toy shelf and pick something under a pound so we could get the change. He was about to suggest a slightly scuffed toy car when I saw the following box tucked away at the bottom of the stand.

How my inner 70s child rejoiced! We had to have it! I knew this was the ideal opportunity to share cosy, yet slightly sinister aspects of my girlhood with my son. We children of the 70s were subjected to all manner of creepily alluring images in our books, our TV programmes and our comics. Why should the 21st century child miss out on such treats?

On our return home, I opened the Haunted Wood box, and to my great excitement, the box revealed many unsavoury and downright alarming delights. Unused to the vagaries of such a gem, O spent an age inspecting the game board with a very puzzled look on his face. What on earth was going on in the early seventies that made adults subject poor, innocent children to the following images? It's like something from Hieronymous Bosch's Garden of Heavenly Delights...

Ah, the traditional 'evil pointy nosed caterpillar with legs and a bun' lurking ominously by a tower. I often wonder why I used to gallop down the stairs to my parents, racked with the most horrific nightmares. Surely it can't be the games I played with or the books I read...

Ooh, look! A rabid orange dog, apparently without a body, and a blue faced...THING...with a penis-shaped blue nose. Nothing strange there. Move along now...

A lunatic - up a tree with some strange Inspector Clousseau types scuttling along underneath. A typical woodland scene, I'm sure you all agree...

*is speechless*

Watch out, little 70s children. There's a wonk-faced pirate with an enormous hand just above you and an aadvark-style monster about to nibble on your ankles. But - quick! You'll be fine on that swing. Daddy put it up - with some old nails and a dodgy bit of rope. It won't fall down and maim you for life....

A flashback

"Now come on, Melanie! Get back to bed. What are you talking about - scary blue and grey men in a bush? There's no such thing - why don't you go back up to bed and read your 365 Days Nursery Rhymes book to help you drop off?"

"OK, Mummy...."


I don't think I've ever fully recovered....

Silent Sunday - L O L A - Lola...

Silent Sunday's over at Jay's. Ssssh....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Silent Sunday

Friday, 25 February 2011

Meat theft, the Co-op Cat and Elvis the parrot...

I love my village.It's just a little place outside Bradford, but to me it's home and there are a few little things about it that make it special.

1.  Purdie the cat. He does not spend much time at home. This is Purdie near the automatic door and lounging in the window of the Co-op, on his favourite spot on top of the ice cream cabinet. Purdie used to be chased from the shop, as he spent quite a lot of his time lurking by the cooked meats section, but I think the staff have finally given up and let him enjoy the warmth and comfort of his spiritual home.

Purdie, the Co-op lurking cat

2. Meat theft. This poster appeared in the window of the Co-op a couple of months ago.

There was confusion as to whether the culprit was Purdie or whether Jay at Mocha Bean Mummy (aka @cosmicgirlie) had been in town, prowling for bacon...

3.  Elvis the Parrot. Elvis used to fly freely around the village, screeching wildly, visiting the children in the village school and landing on roofs.He would squawk 'Elvis'  and the odd swearword at passers-by and generally entertained the good people of the village.

But Elvis had a dark side - a penchant for pulling slates and fittings from village roofs and occasionally dive-bombing the residents. Some folk in the village were not happy about Elvis' naughty antics and he was reported to Bradford Council. Elvis was subsequently monitored by the antisocial behaviour officer and he narrowly escaped being issued with an ASBO. He was sent into exile in Shropshire, but now is back, although sadly, he is caged and now living in the garden centre.

I love living here. When I worked full time before O was born, I didn't feel part of village life, as I commuted and spent most of my time away in the city. Maternity leave and part-time working, plus a year of sick leave allowed me the time to get to know the people and the place and to involve myself in the life of the village. My life and my family's lives are enriched by this sense of belonging and the friendships of the people we've met. Now that I am working more days and O is at school, I realise how lucky I was to have that gift of time to be part of the daily fabric of my local community.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Gallery - Expressions

It's Tara's Gallery once more and this week the demand is 'Expressions'. My entry is created via a marvellous iPhone app called Pocket Booth. I was introduced by Laura on a boozy night out in the Fighting Cock (we're so sophisticated). It recreates the photobooth photo strips of old. I love this app - it is so pleasingly retro.

My boy has an alarmingly rubbery face for one so cherubic. I often wonder whether a Lee Evan-esque career awaits him...

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Ninjas - The Gallery

It's Gallery time again. The theme is Children - I can't wait to see the photographs submitted.

I've picked these two ninjas. The curly boy is O and the lovely girl is Laura from Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy's 6yo. We were camping in the Lakes and the children were ninjaing wildly by the side of a beautiful lake...

Monday, 24 January 2011

BRCA1, BRCA2 or none at all? Me and Doreen...

I never met my great grandmother, Doreen. She died before I was born, a big, happy woman, but troubled with some ill health. My dad's beloved gran, he always speaks so fondly of her - she was Mop, and his eyes shine and he smiles as he mentions her. Mum and Dad have a photograph of Doreen up on the wall. She's young, in her late teens, dressed up in a frilly dress and bloomers, with a bonnet and parasol - and the very strange thing is she looks like me. Even the same expression. How funny that you can look at a picture of someone you never knew and see yourself staring back.

Legacy, likeness, family trees, the past - how these things have whirled around in my head these past two weeks. I look at the picture of Doreen and I wish I could speak to her. We have more in common than our wayward dark curls, brown eyes and smiles (and love of frilly parasols).

Doreen was 34 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was 1939. In those days, the treatment for breast cancer was brutal. A radical mastectomy, lymph nodes and muscles out from under the arm and I imagine some horrendous radiation treatment too, although that is conjecture on my part as Dad doesn't know. He remembers her terrible scars though and the fact that she couldn't play the piano due to the pain and constricture of that scarring. I have thought a lot about Doreen since I was diagnosed at 33 - did she feel the same fear that I felt? What was her experience all those years ago? Doreen beat her cancer and carried on with life. She died of something completely unrelated at the age of 68. I have often looked at her photograph and smiled - she was a survivor, she was a talisman.

When you are diagnosed with breast cancer at a relatively young age, it is suggested that you investigate the possibility of a hereditary link, a genetic thread running through the generations. I had my clinical genetics appointment on the 13 January. I knew about my great gran's breast cancer, but she is the only other sufferer apart from me in my entire family. I expected to be told that it was just one of those things, random, just chance - all the things that people have been telling me since that fateful day back in 2007.

The shocking reality for me is that because Doreen had breast cancer at 34 and there are only males in the direct line between me and her (my grandad and my dad), two genetic consultants have put me in the high risk category for having a genetic cause for my breast cancer and I have some stark and difficult choices ahead.

It is possible that I carry either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, which would increase the risk of my breast cancer recurring and give me an increased risk of ovarian cancer. I can decide not to have the genetic testing and take my chances or have the test and deal with the consequences of a possible positive result.

I don't like uncertainty. I'm going to have the test. I really fear a positive result. It will mean choosing again between screening, touching wood and crossing my fingers, or preventive surgery - a double mastectomy and an oophrectomy (my ovaries removed). At the moment, I'm scared, angry, frightened, consumed once more with the overwhelming headfuck that is breast cancer. I have really had enough. Yes, actually I'm really bloody angry that it's taking me back to hospitals and appointments and uncertainty and worrying. I was slowly getting away from all that.

But then, I know that it's never really going to leave me anyway. This is one more obstacle in the race I never in my wildest dreams thought I'd ever have to run. I did do it once, I can do it again. It is stripping me down to the quick, but I've proved I can get through and smile and live. I am wounded by breast cancer - there's no denying it's left its mark on my mind and my life, but at the same time, what point is there in getting through if I'm going to weep and moan and give up?

So - bear with me. I am going to be a pain in the arse. I am going to cry and sulk and be a hermit. I'm also going to be a normal mother and a vaguely normal librarian. I'm also going to rail and scream and worry and fret.

I might get that negative result - I pray and pray that I do. But I look at that photo of Doreen and her parasol and all I can think at the moment is that we're linked. Her face is my face and her genes just might be too.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Gallery - Mother Nature. The slither...

It's time again for Tara's Gallery.

The theme is Mother Nature and there are a wealth of posts over there with some wonderful photographs. Pop on over there for a glimpse or two...

I've picked this beautiful specimen, who currently resides at Tropical World in Leeds. I imagine he will divide the Gallery gang - not everyone loves a slithery sort...

I have a vivid memory of one particular day at infant school. The teacher told us we were going to have a very special visitor. Imagine the frisson of excitement and dread that ran through the class when it was revealed that the special visitor was a man. A man with a snake!

I can recall the fear I felt as I stood there in the hall with my classmates. The snake was huge and was coiled around his owner, his tongue flickering lazily in and out. We were asked if we wanted to come and touch the snake and most of us said no as we were convinced it would be slimy and cold. I don't remember how the next bit came about, but suddenly I was stood next to the snake man and stroking the warm, dry scales of the beautiful snake and feeling utterly brave, fearless and in love. When I got home, dad got me a book on snake care down from the loft (no idea why he had it). I read this book over and over again. I must have been the only six year old in Yorkshire who knew how to milk a snake for its venom.

Ever since that landmark snake-touching day, I have been fascinated with snakes and can stand for hours watching their slightly sinister eyes and sinuous movements. I had to be physically dragged from the reptile house at Tropical World the last time we were there. I believe that M and O may both have indulged in some epic eye-rolling.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The history of time according to O, aged 6

O, sat at the table eating his tea:

"So, first of all there was God *waves arms all around* and he created the universe and alternative universes with stars and dead stars. Then there were dinosaurs and then the meteor killed them all. Well, apart from the mammals. Then the Ice Age came and it was really cold and then people came. Then it was 1000 years later and baby Jesus was born and then people did all sorts of stuff and then 2000 years later we are here now. And that's it."

(Hard at work, playing Club Penguin)

Silent Sunday - Nostalgia

Silent Sunday

This is my entry for Jay @ Mocha Beanie Mummy's Silent Sunday.

Pop over there for more quiet posts. But don't say a word...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone