Friday, 14 March 2014

Moths In The Garden, M's Wrist Gets The All-Clear, Homework Shenanigans and Dogs In The Mist

'So,' I say to L at about 6.30 last night, 'have you got any homework that needs doing?'
'No,' he replies, in that vague-I'm-not-really-hearing-what-you're-saying kind of way that teenage boys have.
'Really?' I prod, in that I'm-not-sure-I-entirely-believe-you kind of way that parents gain from bitter experience.
'Urm, well I have one or two bits,' he concedes.
'Due in tomorrow?' I persist.
'Then can you come off the computer by 8pm to do them please?'

8pm is reached and duly passes and of course there is no sign of L. I was in lax-parent-mode because we were watching Line of Duty and it had got to a particularly gripping bit, so I didn't remind him (which is parent-code for pulling the plug out of the wall and running off with it, thereby forcing a Full Computer Shut Down and ensuring - after the howls of protest have died down - homework compliance), so it was actually 8.50 by the time said small person stuck his head round the door, waved a sheet of paper airily about and announced breezily: 'I have to make a Sacred Cupboard for a Religious Book. So where is the cardboard, paint, glue and something I can use to make a book with, please?'

I sometimes feel I am stuck in Groundhog Day when it comes to L and his homework. You could set your watch by his unfailing ability to ignore it until the last possible second, and then suddenly realise he needs to paint the equivalent of the Sistine Chapel by morning, oh, and he requires some help to get the paint mix right, and could I also possibly round up and supply the models for the painting, as well as fixing some spare lighting, and while I'm at it, would I mind also knocking up dinner for eight people too please?

'There isn't any cardboard,' I reply.
He looks, crestfallen, in mute appeal at his step-father, who is also well-used to this routine of last-minute-homework. M sighs, puts down his pint, gets up and goes to look in the garage. He comes back with a box which he gives to L (who had been beadily eyeing up the box I use to keep my moth paraphernalia in) who then trots off to the other room. Within few seconds ominous sounds of scissors hacking away at the box and ripping noises of copious quantities of sellotape being destroyed reach our ears.

I have a rule that is in force to attempt to persuade L of the value of doing homework at a reasonable hour, and that is: I do not get involved after 6pm (which is wine and crisps by the fire time- or G&T and chocolate time, depending on how the day has gone). However, he knows that whatever I say I will not abandon him and so, after a few more minutes of chopping and sticking noises, I could bear it no longer and went to investigate. He actually hadn't done too bad a job and with a few tweaks and a liberal dab of strategically positioned glue here and there it was about finished.

We stood back to admire our handiwork.

'Not bad,' I say 'considering it's another classic Bodge-It-And-Scarper-Production from the stable of L.'
'I thank you,' he replies, graciously inclining his head and sweeping me a low and elegant bow that I very much fear he's been practicing on the girls at school.
'The only thing,' I say, turning the massacred cardboard box  Sacred Cupboard round, 'is, I wonder whether it's strictly speaking acceptable to hand in a piece of RE homework that is supposed to represent a sacred cupboard for a holy text, when the sacred cupboard itself says very plainly on the back in Rather Large Black Letters that are a Bit Hard To Miss: 'Brewery Store: For All Your Home Brew Needs?'

L grins.
'Have we got any tin foil?' he asks.

And so we ended up with a sacred cupboard housing a holy text that would not have looked out of place on a Dr Who set. Where would we be without cardboard and tin foil?

The accompanying notes (typed up by the artist) complimented the thing perfectly: 'If you have a sacred text, you must not touch it with your fingers: you poke it with a sharp stick.' 

I think I may have forgotten to tell you all that M's wrist has now been officially Signed Off. We saw the nympho-consultant on Monday (for once, dressed convincingly like a consultant rather than a Woman Of The Night) who cooed and oohed and ahhed over said wrist and moved it here there and everywhere, rotating it and holding it for a just a little bit longer than I felt was strictly necessary.
'Ahhh,' she said, at last. 'But it 'az 'eeled perfectly! 'Ow did you do eet?' (I don't know why she's speaking in a French accent, because I think she is Polish).
M smiled at me. 'You'd better ask my wife, ' he said (rather gallantly, I thought).
Apparently noticing me for the first time, she cast me a rather pitying look (typically, I had rushed out to the hosp without putting on any makeup, my hair is about two months overdue for a cut and was therefore scraped back a la Essex facelift styley with a serviceable but not very pretty clip, and to cap it all I realised, as I looked down, that I had mud from that morning's dog walk splattered up my legs to the knees and an ominous stain, the origin of which was lost long ago in the mists of time, on my t-shirt. Lord knows what she must have thought of me- no, actually, her face said very plainly what she thought: 'what eez thees 'andsome, cultured, well-spoken man doing wiz thees knackered muddy pear-sonne?')
'I'm a healer,' I said, stoutly, 'so he's had arnica and symphytum, zinc and healing. It's old medicine, but it works.'
'Indeed.' She smiled politely. 'I vill aff to try eet' (and now she's got a dodgy German accent- sorry!).

All joking aside, the hospital has been fantastic and I can't sing their praises highly enough. It's a HUGE relief to have the wrist all healed up and tickety-boo and I can stop worrying about it now.

I have been flat out this week producing a Lab Report (yawn) for college. It is based on spectrophotometry and chromatography and concentrated solutions of 2,4,6,8 and 10 parts per million (yawn to the point of falling asleep Very Quickly Indeed). Suffice to say I AM NOT enjoying it one tiny little bit. It's taken me all bloody week to get to grips with the bloody thing, and it has driven me to gin and tonic, as well as wine and chocolate in the evenings (and then to running, to counter the effects of gin and tonic, wine and chocolate). So this morning I went on strike, downed tools and met ma for a decidedly lovely and very nearly two hour walk round the estate path with the dogs in the fog. 

Poppy is being utterly disgusting at the moment. She has developed a penchant for eating Cleo's poos dug fresh out of the new flower bed (which Cleo clearly considers has been constructed as a very elaborate and generously-sized lavatory for her - Cleo is our puss cat, not a heathen daughter with no manners, just in case you were wondering). Anyway, Pops brings the poos into the house for a good old munch and on at least two separate occasions has convinced me she was actually choking on a bulb, which (given that the last time she ate a bulb it resulted in a £100 trip to the vet and a valentine's day immortalised by puppy diarrhoea) has resulted in me putting my hands down her throat and pulling the 'bulb' out, only to discover it was a half-chewed lump of cat poo- ewww, as our daughter would say. 

She further disgraced herself out on the walk by woofing furiously at these inquisitive cattle who came to see what all the fuss was about. They looked Very Surprised Indeed when they realised it wasn't some terrifyingly massive hound uttering these blood-curling sounds, but a pint-sized ball of scruffy fluff with an attitude......



After that Dougal decided to go for a swim....

And they all had Great Fun chasing each other through the fog....

I put the Moth Box out last night for the first time in a while and had Good Results. 41 moths in total, 11 different species, 7 of which were Brand New for me. Here are a selection....

Common Quaker

Paler version of the Common Quaker

Early Grey

Red Chestnut- very please about this one, there are very few records in Hampshire for this moth at this time of year

 Satellite, a moth I have wanted to see for a while, even if this particular one is a tad dog-eared (or moth eaten).

Small Brindled Beauty. Fluffy face-on

Small Brindled Beauty

Small Quaker

Twin-Spotted Quaker

Another Twin-Spotted Quaker (demonstrating how different forms of the same species can look, and therefore why it can be hard to ID them)

A third Twin-Spotted Quaker (different again from the other two!)

Twin-Spotted Quaker
Oak Beauty

Camo In Action: Oak Beauty hiding on the Willow Tree- can you spot him?

Here he is!

The totals for last night were:
5 oak beauties
12 common quakers
2 early greys
10 clouded drabs
3 twin-spotted quakers
1 small quaker
1 small brindled beauty
2 diurmea fagella
1 red chestnut
1 satellite

I hope you've all had a good week. I am planning to get out in the garden this weekend as there are seeds to sow and ancient shrubs to take out. I'm also hoping to see more bees and butterflies, as last weekend was excellent for them. I start butterfly transects for both the National Trust and Butterfly Conservation in April, which I am really looking forward to. The sites both have a good range of species, some of whom I have never seen before. Can't wait.

Wishing you all a peaceful evening,

CT :-)


  1. Great news on M's wrist.
    Oak Beauty is indeed. Presumably he would blend in even more if he had alighted on the right tree?

    1. Ah, yes, that would be my fault for putting him on the willow to stop him flapping about in his box... :-)

  2. Oh you could have been writing about my son.. he was a last-minute-day-before-the-home-works-due-in kind of guy too. Why do they do it.. I got fed up of constantly saying have you done your homework.. Thankfully that's all behind us as he's 22 this year.. but he still tends to leave things to the last minute though, I think it's with him for life!

    1. Oh no! Don't tell me that Julie- I was holding on to the fact that he'd grow out of it. Boys, heh? ;-)

  3. So pleased to hear M's wrist has healed so well. Maybe you could turn things around and get L to help you with your homework! That is a good start to your Moth box.
    Sarah x

    1. I have suggested it Sarah, but apparently you're meant to have help with school work but it's against the law for a degree! x

  4. Oh, this is hilarious!! You had me in stitches!! I had to read it out loud to my husband because he demanded to know what I was laughing about!!! I love the polish doctor with the different accents! I just hope that I never have the misfortune to come across her as I won't be able to keep a straight face after your write up of her and she will think even less of me than she did of you, so that will not help matters!! Thank you for this, just what I needed to lift my spirits! I hope that your weekend is less stressful. Oh and hubby says that your moth pictures are amazing - I agree! xx

    1. Thank you Amy- glad it gave you a giggle! We joke about the doc (or rather, I do) but she did a good job and I am very pleased the wrist has healed as well as it has, so if you do ever come across her you'll be in good (if skimpily dressed) hands :-) Glad you both enjoyed the moth pics- there will be a lot more as the year progresses! x

  5. That did make me laugh! Reminds me of a friend`s child who announced at 8pm on Sunday evening that she had to "build a model cathedral" for RE the next day........ Not sure what the outcome of that was!

    Good news about the wrist :-)

    1. They are priceless, kids, aren't they? These are the things I shall look back on and smile about when he's an adult. Yes, huge relief about the wrist- all back to normal now :-)

  6. HI CT Good news about the wrist. Well you must be in your element now that you have your Moths back. You know I know nothing about them however I love seeing your shots of them. They are amazing so kep them coming. Thanks for comments on my blog.

    1. Big relief the wrist has healed up- I can forget about it now :-)

      Glad you are enjoying the mothy folk- loved your snipe pic.

  7. Crockery, Missus! What a busy bee week. I hope you are having serenity this weekend to recharge the batteries? Love the cow pics. I think cows are very entertaining! They always like like they know something, but aren't letting on! (And Phoebe, Tybalt and FBM all agree that Poppy is quite revolting - even they wouldn't eat cat poo and they are cats!) xx

    1. Of course, when I said, 'Crockery' I meant 'Crikey!' Curses to auto-predict typing and the inability to proof read effectively!

    2. Ah, see now, I thought you were being clever and creative and starting a whole new trend of exclamatory expressions. I think I shall use 'crockery!' as an expletive when one is required from now on.

      Busy week, yes, but then, what's new pussy cat? Do tell the furry gang at MMM that they are quite right to find the eating of feline poo disgusting. I shall pass their opprobrium on to Poppy, but I'm afraid it will make no difference at all xx

  8. Enjoyed all the photos
    Dogs in the fog :)
    The Oak moth camouflage is amazing isn't it !

    1. The Oak Beauty is one of my favourite moths- really stunning and the camo is brilliant. Clever things :-)

  9. I love all the photos of the moths and your butterfly work sounds fascinating. Love all the dogs, too - Poppy still seems as fearless as ever.
    I'm pleased about M's wrist - that is good news.
    Not sure what you mean about the Essex facelift though...

    1. Oops! I forgot you were an Essex lady... :-)

      Yes, really hoping to get some photos of rarer butterflies this year- a good opportunity, as I'll be going out with people much more knowledgeable than me. Fingers crossed.

  10. Poo eating is pretty bad round here too CT., usually of the fox variety, leaving enough to roll in too obviously. Loved the homework story. OB is not yet getting enough to make it too much of a core. Only two a week, but it's going to be a similar story in a year or so I fear! That Oak Beauty is brilliant! xx

    1. Fox is even worse than cat and rolling in it probably takes the prize for disgustingness. WHY do they do it?!!!

      Yes, I fear OB will probably follow in L's (and just about every other boy I know) footsteps. At least you'll know you're not alone and it isn't unusual for parents to be driven to distraction over it!! xx

  11. Good news re: M's wrist and a great selection of moths :) There seem far more around this year than at a similar time last year :)

    Still have similar problems with my son re: leaving things to the last minute - he can't seem to motivate himself until the deadline starts looming ever closer!

    1. That's interesting re more moths about this spring than last- as you know, I wasn't trapping this time last year so have nothing to go on. Hopefully that bodes well for this year as a whole.

  12. I have to say I really love your wine and crisps or G&T and chocolate evening drinkies...I feel I am seriously missing out here!
    Dogs and cat poo-a disgusting combination, especially when they still have bits of it between their teeth, poor you!
    Love the moths , it's so nice to have them back-love their very cute faces. The Oak Beauty is fab.
    I feel for you with the spectrophotometry and chromatography. If there was one thing that could send me to sleep after frazzling my brain it was trying to understand that.

    1. I can highly recommend G&T and chocs and/ or wine and crisps as an end-of-day wind down :-)

      Hope your London trip was bearable- it sounded horrendous x


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