Well, the lunch with friends happened and was lovely, but the peaceful floating was chipped and chipped away. Starting at 4.31 when Little Fish threw a Little Wobbly and had to be de-Nippy'd in a hurry.
She then settled back into bed, but I was then fairly awake. Time to potter about sorting laundry and emptying bins, taking advantage of the pre-dawn gloom to add embarrassing amounts of rubbish to the commual heap (our dustbin men collect all the rubbish from our street from a large pile at the end of our driveway. This is awkward when people need to come onto our drive but rather jolly handy when there are defunct hoovers and festering nappy sacks to be added to the pile). Coffee and emails and last night's washing up, and meds drawn up for the girls, and enjoying the quietness, deciding not to wake Little Fish until Mog's carer arrives; racing Mog to get dressed is a good motivator and cuts out some of the four year old faffiness we have to live with otherwise. And then the phone rings, and I realise it is now 7.36, and it is The Office informing me that our carer, the one due at 7.30, is off sick.
Panic mode: on. Mog is whisked into her clothes with almost burtal efficiency, and finds herself sitting in her wheelchair before she has realised she is awake. Little Fish is planted on a stool and finds herself having a large fruit smoothie via gastrostomy as she nibbles delicately on a piece of toast; no time to cajole her into eating more. A hairbrush is waved in the general direction of three heads, faces are de-crusted and somehow shoes are located. Mog's bus does not help matters by being early; I scramble her school kit together as they load her on and manage to produce it before they drive off. Little Fish plods on with her toast, refusing to be infected by her mother's hurry, and slowly, deliberately, she chews and swallows and consents to feet being splinted and be-shoed as she does so. And finally she is in her powerchair, wrapped up warmly, and we are inching our way to school, the last bit of toast in her mouth as we leave the house and somehow still being chewed as we squeak into school at the end of the queue and before the doors have been locked.
The photographer had a slot early in the morning, the only slot we could both make this week, so with Little Fish finally at school, I galloped home and then raced into town to go and look at pretty photographs. And as I left, the phone rang informing me the gasman was coming to quote for a new boiler as soon as I got home. Parked the bus, remembered I had no children with me so actually had to pay for parking, shocking. Burst into the photographer's studio, to find him looking at me in a slightly puzzled fashion, before consulting his diary, taking the last mouthful of a bacon sandwich and apologising for it not being Wednesday. Could I give him 15 minutes to set up please?
No problem, into the co-op and buy yummies for lunch, decide baking definitely not going to happen this morning and find a coffee cake, grab some ham for LF, and back around to the photographer.
Interlude. 60 photos whittled down to 25, then 11, and then a second mortgage raised to pay for the few we decided were best. They'll be ready "definitely by Christmas but possibly only just. Sorry."
Back home, via a new and enticing patisserie. A blueberry and raspberry torte (query: why is torte instantly more delicious sounding than tart? And what's the difference? Tart is margarine and almond essence and oranges, torte is butter and ground almonds and grand marnier? And is a sweet tart an oxymoron?), and I resist the many many variations on almond and sweet bread (not sweetbreads).
Our new cleaner, she who has restored my bathroom to glory I never knew it formerly had, came back - a two hour visit half an hour before friends due for lunch. And if you think I turned her away, you're crazy. But it did mean when they arrived, the sitting room furniture was all piled in the middle of the room, great teetering stacks of clutter around the edges as our wonderful new cleaner actually cleaned underneath everything and not just vaguely around it. She even took the cushions off and hoovered underneath them. The finds she didn't immediately bin included seven picture dominoes, two unopened packets of crisps, half a dozen pens and an unread magazine from August. Oops.
It is, of course, in the middle of this process that our first friends arrive. Swiftly followed by the gas man, and then by our other friends. Our cleaner remains unruffled even by the addition of a busily helpful two year old, and continues to restore my sitting room to a clean and delightful freshness. The gasman and I take up a station in the kitchen, whilst friends post themselves through to the playroom and perch uncomfortably on the piano stool wrapping a delicate child in many layers of blankets rather than turn on the radiator. I'm such a great hostess.
They do appreciate the coffee cake though, much munching ensues as the gasman and I discuss the practicalities of replacing our asbestos laden boiler with something new and shinily efficient. Am intrigued to note that even with the asbestos removal, the quotation is substantially cheaper than the quote we received from Big National Gas Company a few months ago pre-asbestos issues. Shan't be using them then.
Finally the gasman goes, and the cleaner decides the sitting room is more or less up to her standards. She spends approximately three minutes in the bathroom bringing back the gleam she achieved on Monday, and departs in his wake. We head back to comfortable chairs and glistening surfaces. Bookcases which take me weeks to tidy have been ruthlessly straightened, space has somehow been found for pictures to be displayed not merely stacked, and the contrast between the rest of the room and my computer table (which I asked her not to touch) is embarrassingly obvious now.
Lunch happens. Conversation happens. We think of friends who are ill, friends with ill children. Marvel at the ability of more than one child to prove the doctors wrong yet again, and refuse to die despite being discharged in order to do so. Push more food onto each others' plates and at the same time discuss the differences diet and medication and medical conditions can make to poo. Drink tea and debate different cathing techniques and the benefits of a bladder washout with Domestos. Eat grapes and mince pies and talk about the difficulties which follow when your child doesn't die.
The phone rings intermittently; more appointments being set up, crowding December days until the 25th is beginning to look like our quietest day this month. Pity the therapists too; with three of us in the room the phone gets passed around, and one appointment becomes two or three.
A surprising lack of cats during our chat, and as friends bundle up to go I track them down, trapped in a bedroom. No puddles though, no piles of poo, despite having been in the bedroom all day long. Definite progress there. Or it would be definite progress, if one hadn't immediately celebrated freedom by spraying the front door whilst the other tackled the bathtub. At least they are consistent in where they go; the areas of the house where I need to watch my step are now limited to a handful. Did you know though that cat urine if frequently reapplied can dissolve floor varnish? I wouldn't recommend it as a stripper though; the fumes are not pretty.
And so friends go, cats are fed, children return from school, Mary Poppins is played again, the Advent book has another chapter, and we the curtains are drawn against the darkening night. Two girls and then myself into bed, and I am asleep before Mog.
So it wasn't the quiet floaty sort of day I'd semi-planned. And I didn't knit a row of Mog's cardigan - which needs finishing by Tuesday evening, in an ideal world. But any day which includes lunch, and ends with three of us sleeping peacefully can't be a bad day, no matter what gets thrown at us in the middle.