Today was much the same as yesterday, which was not very different from the day before. The night was a bit better, though – I was only awake for 2 hours instead of 4. Thank god for the magic boobs which console even the most miserable feverish babe.

Yesterday’s lack of fuss just lulled us all into a false sense of security. Today Ingrid had lots more spots, proper fever, her worst night ever, and all the other stuff that goes with serious illness.

Among the good news, she didn’t mind sitting in the pushchair and was in fact happier there than in the baby carrier. Less warm and itchy, maybe? She even leaned back and rested in the pushchair and finally fell asleep for a while – I cannot even remember the last time she did that. Must be months ago.

A clear sign of sickness: she just sat in the bathtub instead of crawling around, and by the end of her bath time some of the bottles were still standing on the ledge. I think she liked being in the bath, though.

Ingrid was sent home from the nursery about an hour after getting there, because she turned out to have chickenpox. She had no spots when I changed her in the morning, and lots of spots just 2 hours later. Luckily she doesn’t seem to be bothered by this at all – a bit less energetic than usual, but generally happy.

I stopped following daily news years ago. The vast majority of news stories are superficial, irrelevant to my life, and filled with negativity. I don’t buy newspapers, don’t watch the news on TV, and most days don’t open a news site either. (I keep up with the big stuff by reading The Economist to make sure I’m not completely ignorant of what is going on in the world.)

My news avoidance has become more pronounced over the past year. Firstly, of course, I have less spare time. But now I also find myself actively avoiding the news, because so much of the headline news is about bad things happening to people.

Some kind of wiring deep in the brain must change when you become a mother. I find it almost impossible to read/see news or books or movies about children being harmed or dying. Getting sick, run over, mugged… The closer the children are in age to Ingrid, the more the stories affect me. I feel tears coming up, and a sense of vicarious grief / panic / distress. I have to turn another page or walk away. If I don’t, I can all to easily imagine what it might feel like to have that happen to my child. And I cannot face that. I stop myself the moment I feel my thoughts going in that direction, because if I continue, I will be overwhelmed.

We’re planning a vacation. That means booking flights.

After half a dozen failed attempts to book one on BA’s web site (all ending with a cryptic error message) I called their support line. The first thing the guy asked me was if I had, by any chance, entered first and middle name in the box for first name. Well, yes, because it says “Enter name exactly as in passport”, I said. No no no, we don’t actually mean that, we only want the first name, he says. I tried again, and when I only entered the first name, it worked.

The BA support staff are so familiar with this problem that they immediately knew to suggest this as a potential cause… and yet they have done absolutely nothing about it. There is no clarification next to the box, no validation (but they do validate my phone number, so they are obviously familiar with the concept) and no clue about this in the error message you get. Is it really cheaper to have support staff sit in a call centre than to add a few lines to the web page?

Morning: hospital for my regular blood test. Early afternoon: toy library. Late afternoon: grocery shopping.

Ingrid was in a better mood than I’ve seen recently, so I guess she simply needs more action, places to see, people to meet.

London Freewheel: a good long stretch of central London streets closed for traffic and full of bicycles. Saw some funky bikes being ridden – the various family options were especially interesting – tandems, trail-a-bikes, trailers, child seats, Christiania bikes and so on.

Had a haircut in the afternoon (long overdue!). I’m happy with the place I found (just off Brick Lane): cheap, quick, efficient and the result looks good. Exactly what I wanted.

From the back cover:

It was Sita Dulip who discovered, whilst stuck in an airport, unable to get anywhere, how to change planes – literally. By a mere kind of twist and a slipping bend, easier to do than to describe, she could go anywhere – be anywhere – because she was already between planes… and on the way back from her sister’s wedding she missed her plane in Chicago and found herself in Choom.

Changing Planes is a (smallish) collection of brief glimpses of these different planes. Nothing much happens in these stories, but they are still very lively and don’t feel like mere descriptions. They are like memories of trips you yourself might have taken, described more eloquently than you could have done. When we describe a foreign country, we do not necessarily tell of particular events, but of the landscape, the people, their habits, their history. And this is what Le Guin does as well. It’s sort of like Gulliver’s Travels but with less action and less absurd worlds – and far more ideas per page.

As always in Le Guin’s books, the worlds are close enough to ours to give us something to recognise and respond to, but alien enough to remain interesting. Here, for example, is a plane where the people give up speech as they grow up, and only children talk. A plane where people migrate north and south with the seasons, like birds, and each life lasts only three (long) seasons. There is a plane where almost everyone is of royal blood, and where the tabloids are full of juicy stories about the few commoners that are left.

The book has that unmistakable Le Guin tone, quietly charming, sophisticated, humourous and somehow wistful. It is like her eyes see a more beautiful world than most of us do. (She is also a bit of a romantic – her nice worlds tend to be pastoral anarchies, and all unpleasantness stems from capitalism and the desire for progress.)

Altogether a lovely book.

Amazon UK, Amazon US.

Unusually quiet day at the office, with about half the team out for various reasons. That felt quite strange, but led to a productive day.

Everything just seems to have gone right. She slept until 7, was happy during the morning, and didn’t even complain much when I left for work.

When I picked her up at the nursery, they said she had eaten well, slept well and been happy. Often they say she starts crying just about when it’s time for me to arrive but today she was still in a good mood when I got there. She didn’t immediately go into a need-breast-now panic when we got home, so I could change out of work clothes without a rush.

After she had eaten she played with me in the armchair. Then she climbed down and played on her own for a while. She didn’t complain when I lay her down on her back to get her dirty nappy off for her bath, nor when I got her out of her bath, or when brushing her teeth, or when putting a new nappy on, or when going to bed. We breastfed again, she let go of the breast, turned on her tummy and went to sleep within 2 minutes.

Contented little baby, indeed!