Skip to main content


Showing posts from January, 2013

Of beds, chromosomes and naughty boys

Boys! Aaargh! Why is the 'Y' chromosome so called? Pause to consider this for a moment before I get onto the subject of beds. The X chromosome - the one, that when expressed as XX,  confers the female genotype - is aptly named. Xs are symmetrical (pointy, but in a rounded sort of way) and elsewhere, they are used to represent kisses. Female relatives - mums, daughters, grannies, aunts - tend to be the great kissers in our lives, so the X chromosome is aptly named. (And yes, I do actually realise that the X in the X chromosome and the X  representing kisses have nothing to do with each other! But as coincidences go, it's a pretty happy one). Anyway, why might Y be the name given to the rather stumpy-looking male chromosome? Does it look like a little man with both fists in the air, ready to pummel another little man? Is he perhaps holding his hands up in surrender to the more elegant female chromosome? Or waving in desperation as he drowns in the sea of 45 other chrom

To a mouse: 25th January

Written to a mouse that drowned in my watering can. Happy Burns Night to all my fellow Scots. Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie, Thou cannae swim – nae crawl nor breastie. Thou shoudnae ha climbed intae ma pail sae hasty Wi' oot a paddle. I wad be laith tae flood an' drown thee Wi' murdering puddle. I doubt na, whyles, thou may ha thieved; What then? Poor beastie, thou that lived! A seedling frae my glass-housie tray Was but a sma' request; An' when the summer comes this way I'll get a garden wi' the rest. In my housie, too, thou thought to dwell, Till crash! Trap sheared your tail of a’its stibble That wee bit heap o’ wires an’ felt Cost thee monie a weary nibble! An’ me an electrician’s bill, for a’ thy trouble! An’ bleak my mind turned murdering-bold An’ my heart ran full carnreuch cauld. But the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley, An’ before more traps I could deploy Thou thought tae swim. An’

A little bit of squashing. And unfreezing Littlest.

Still it snows. And as AA Milne wrote - 'The more it goes (tiddly pom) On snowing Nobody knows (tiddly pom) How cold my toes (tiddly pom) Are growing.' Littlest as Pooh. Littlest with frozen, red toes. Littlest determined (despite the insides of her wellies harbouring sloshy puddles) to go out into the land of snow. To hum (tiddly pom - actually, to sing Castle on a Cloud from Les Mis; something to do with the sweeping?) and work to keep warm - Hat belongs to big brother - he'll never know! Next job - got to keep busy in the cold - is creation of a snowman.  When introduced later, Four-legged-friend clearly thought he could startle Mr Snow into dropping his nose, but so far the barking has failed to gift him the carrot. Rehydration, hot chocolate style. Hot! Followed by a spot of Littlest-squashing, when the snow-ball-rolling got out of control (this is - just to reassure you, a reconstruction of what I witnessed throug

Freezing Littlest

Snow! On and on it snows. And the undefined becomes defined in cold black and white: Snow can, can't water Gates - so provocative: whither which path? Snowy seat  Walking the dogs and an idle, fun, but chilly way to travel Long walk to home, heat and dry clothes  Bertie Baggins doesn't mind the cold ... as long as there's a bit of bread making him pose for the camera Four-legged-friend would do anything for a bit of bread - "Snow on my nose? What snow? I'm posing! I'm getting bread!!" Littlest - well ... wellies full of compacted snow - so full that feet were plugged firmly; a plaster-cast of wet sock, a thin film of melting snow, and outer layers of hard snow and unpliable, frozen, wellie rubber. Took half an hour or so of hot chocolate, feet up my jumper (don't ask), two dry vests, two jumpers and a warm hooded fleecy before the sensation came back and toe colour went from red to healthy

Snow! Chasing sunsets and a golden escapee

You either love or hate snow. If you were to ask my children, they would probably be of the opinion that I fall firmly into the hating-snow camp. But this isn't - always - true. Yes - the over-protective curmudgeon in me hates driving in it; or trudging through it in an attempt to arrive at the school gate with Littlest, rather than get there and find she has stopped somewhere en route between car and school, dreamily ambling between snow-laden trees looking for "fairy footprints." I also hate falling over in it; don't like it's disintegration into wet, greyish slush, or worse, yellow slush, and am not that keen on snow ball fights. However, I do like the definition snow gives to the normally undefined - such as the old cart-wheel above; the way it outlines branches of trees; blurs contours and turns the world black and white; and how it somehow softens noise. Suddenly, on a snowy walk, I can see what the dogs are smelling - rabbits!

The muddy world of disobedience

This is what happens when Littlest is told not to walk through the mud And this is her not-very-guilty face ... plus a sheet of puddle-ice ... when she squelches out the other side of it Swiftly followed by screams of "I've got mud running up my sleeves!" What is it with modern parenting and the need to try out the 'do as I say' bit ... before shrugging and taking advantage of the photo opportunity when the child does as it pleases? Am I a soft touch? ... no don't answer that question - I know the answer. So often, I find myself saying "Don't do that" or "No, you can't" and facing a barrage of indignant questioning, which inevitably leads to my reflecting on the justification of what I said. So often, the child - usually Littlest - is right: I had no good reason ... other than perhaps 'I can't be bothered with the consequences right now' - such as the muddy boots. So soft touch or grouch? ... hmmm - p


If he/she looks stressed walks stressed talks stressed he/she probably needs ... a little longer on holiday ... another glass of wine ... a hug ... Littlest to say 'I love you' ... a warm Four-legged-friend to curl up at his/her feet ... a literary agent to write something encouraging ... a law against rejection letters/rudeness/people who fail to pick up their dog's poo ... a good night's sleep ... to wake up a stone lighter and without the appetite of a marathon runner ... a candle-lit bath, with a good book and another glass of wine ... a long walk on a sunny day without any muddy puddles and the consequent three tons of mud clinging to the bottom of his/her wellies ... French onion soup and crusty bread ... tiramisu ... a glass of drambuie ... the view and air at the top of a Scottish mountain ... his/her tax return to be magically completed and spirited away to a land of benevolent tax men ... I could go on. And on. And on. Why stressed? Why me? Why now?