Tag Archives: Family

Nothing new under the sun

Life trundles on with no big deals apart from several ongoing sagas over legacies and banks. I won’t bore you with the details. That’s for my lawyers (Lye, Cheetham and Runne). Suffice it to say, someone was trying to dip into my cookie jar and I’ve cried ‘havoc’ and set the dogs of law onto them.

Nice display of Sundogs in the late afternoon a couple of days ago. Nothing unusual for August. Although they do presage a change to cooler, rainy weather which will have everyone crying for the return of unremitting sunshine after three days. Mrs S and I are now both getting back into the swing of work before relatives descend upon us in the latter half of September. ‘Les Girls’ (Wife and sisters) are off to Seattle while I play host to Youngest, which will give me a fine excuse to go see all the movies and go a few places Mrs S doesn’t much care for. The Imax beckons.

The only thing of any note is attending various lectures at UVIC, oh and Neil McCollum over at Forgotten Weapons has uncovered this little gem (See video below). A Gyrojet carbine? Well I never.

As he says. No flying cars or jet packs, but a rocket rifle? What fun.

Seriously, I’m quite a fan of Neils videos because unlike so many firearms blogs he brings a thoughtful and considered approach to studying antique and not so antique firearms, often field stripping them on camera so you can see the innovation that made the gun either ground breaking or prematurely obsolescent.

Happiness is…..

….a full bookshelf. The Sticker household is nine books richer this afternoon. Eight hard and one paperback. Awesome Books delivered a series of secondhand and brand new volumes for me, while Amazon deposited two heavyweight historical tomes upon our doorstep. After over eight years, my once almost complete Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams Hardback book collection is gradually being rebuilt.

This promises to be a curl up in a corner and read weekend. With real books made of real paper. With real alcohol in real glasses, and possibly a side trip to see some real furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. And a few real guffaws. Which will be very good for my nervous and cardiovascular systems.

First dickhead to say ‘but eBooks are better’ in the comments will be mocked unmercifully. Religious nutters and political cold callers, between whom there is no neurological difference if you believe what Stefan Molyneux has to say, (see video below) will be left to bake on our doorstep.

I’m almost inclined to put a clear plastic cover over the doorbell with an ‘Emergency use only’ sticker on it. Wonder if Canadian Tire do such an item?

All I know is that we’re going to need considerably bigger bookshelves……
New BooksThe Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites, Maskerade, Jingo, Interesting Times and the Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents.

Un mauvais quart d’heure

Yeah. Today has not been as happy a day as might have been. A creeping sense of FTW has shadowed my every waking thought, casting a pall over what has otherwise been a pleasant day. I know why. It’s been a year to the day when first my Mother, then my dog, died. I really don’t know whether to feel hopeless, sad or just plain angry. This mood will pass, I’m just having a bad quarter of an hour, that’s all. These feelings always fade like a morning fog, but while with you, serve as a reminder that you’re just as full of shit as the next guy. Kind of reassuring really.

Anyway. Tomorrow Mrs S and I set out on a little road trip which will eventually take us down south of the border for a little drive around the US of A. Just dodging the wildfires through Washington and Oregon. Nothing fancy. See the sights, sample the food and wine. Watch the people. Ignore the mass media. Intwerweb stuff will be patchy, but if I see anything vaguely noteworthy I’ll probably post about it, Wi-Fi permitting.

Routine shizzle

Not much happening chez Maison Sticker apart from hanging around for Mrs S’s appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon. She needs to talk to one to get a proper referral for rehab. Because she broke her arm out of country, she needs to follow procedure to get into the BC system. Which means a BC Orthopod has to give her busted wing the once over before she can get any physio. No matter our health insurance is paid up to date, and we’ve got cover coming out of her ears, the niceties must be observed. It’s a pain, but it’s slack season as far as work is concerned, so it’s not like we’re having to juggle two dozen other items at the same time. Just a case of hurry up and wait. So long as we can make our conference next week, we can easily shift arrangements. There’s also a little road trip dahn sarf to see how the folks across the border are faring and take a pootle along the Oregon and Washington scenic coastlines.

As for the Greek business, our investments aren’t going to be hit as we’ve no real exposure in the affected markets. The whole schemozzle, at least from this side of the pond and the FT’s pages, looks like it’s devolved into some kind of bizarre economic winking contest. No-one is actually dumb enough to take the last support from under their respective houses of cards, but it does look like the financial penny is dropping regarding the Euro. The ‘one-size-fits-all’ top down financial philosophy is showing a pair of Achilles heels which anyone with any real financial acumen could see a mile off. Real life economies are subject to the financial whims of populaces, politicians, banks and corporations, which tend, at least in Europe, to be a bit more locally focussed. The financial systems of the USA evolved from a roughly common culture with the same basic language. Europe can’t be like the USA, no matter how much the federalists would like it to be, because Europe doesn’t have the basis of that roughly common culture. It’s too, well, Balkan if you catch my drift. Not literally, but kind of. While the Common Market wasn’t a bad idea as far as promoting free trade was concerned, trying to shoehorn all the splendid diversities of mainland Europe into a centrally governed Federal republic was always a step too far. Various empire builders have had a go by assimilation and even military invasion, but in the end the locals always end up having their say.

And the centralisers wanted to bring Turkey and the Ukraine into their hegemony? Oh dearie me. Soo not a good idea.

What else? Various mini sagas over property etcetera grumble on. As far as that’s concerned I’m just biding my time. New neighbours downstairs. Some sociable, others not so much. Landlady is looking after a yappy little Yorkshire Terrier with a habit of shitting on doorsteps. Which can make walking through the back yard a very eyes down affair. Its owners will return next week, so by the time we come back from our conference and road trip, the little bastard will be gone. You can’t even make friends with the territorial little sod, it just runs away and yaps at you, as it it were his territory alone. Then when you turn away, tries to sneak after your ankles.

In my more evil moments, most of them between waking up and going to bed, I’m minded to remember a small rural adventure from my younger days regarding stupid dogs that have no off switch; a mate was shagging his girlfriend. Both of them a little shy of their sixteenth birthday, but this was in the 70’s and everyone involved but me is no longer around. No injury, no foul – right Officer? In the way of hormonally charged youth everywhere, he begged me as his best friend to keep his intrusive twelve year old brother out of the way. In my youthful lack of judgement I agreed, providing we could go rough shooting the following day with his Dads then-legal pump action shotgun. The lovers arranged their horizontal jogging, I baby sat younger brother downstairs and out of the lovers tryst. His and her lust was satisfied and all was well. Up until we were exiting the house. As we did, next doors Jack Russell broached the fence and began having a go at my friends ankles as we made our way out of said girlfriends back garden gate (That is not a euphemism BTW). I still have to work hard not to collapse in fits of giggles as I recall the rapidly dopplering ‘Yap-yap-yap-yap-yeellpppp!’ as my friend perfectly drop kicked the noisy little tyke back over the garden fence to where it belonged.

The temptation to do likewise to Landladies friends’ Yorkie is sometimes quite hard to resist.

Cast off

Pirate breath fresh advert bArrh me hearties! We be a-putting back to sea to flog the oggin once again. Back to work ye swabs and fetch me a fresh roast cabin boy!

No, no, no, no, wrong! Not that type of casting off. Nor are we cannibalising the crew of the good ship Bill Sticker (or even doing other unspeakable things to them – even if the little scamps thoroughly deserve it). Yet. Although if the mutinous mutterings I’ve been hearing from the mob below decks continue, there may be floggings. If we’re lucky I’ll get a Groat for each of the devils rejects. Honestly, they’re so low they need a telescope to look up to the scum of the Earth.

No. The sun is above the yardarm, celebrations are afoot, and the Hummingbirds are visiting. I am enjoying a large Vodka and Tonic, and so is Mrs S, who has finally had the cast removed from her arm. Nice job by the French Orthopaedic surgeon BTW. Another month or two and you’ll hardly know there was a scar there. Very neat.

Mrs S has been in the shower, singing happily as she gets properly clean, and my heart is so light you’d think ’twere filled with Helium.

The outside world can do what it pleases.

Hands up the mittens Mister Bosun, full speed ahead and damn your tomatoes!

Just another day at the office

We’re filling in travel insurance forms today to ensure the paper trail on Mrs S’s injured arm is up to snuff and all treatment gets paid for. Our travel insurance company is coughing up like a good ‘un, but we’re still covering our backs just in case someone, somewhere down the line says; “Oi! Mon-sewer. Vous n’avez pas paid for this!” and sends us a large demand with added Garlic (and Gallic) menaces.

Filling in forms has never been one of my favourite occupations. I always find myself asking the question; “What on Earth do you want my Mother’s old cats maiden name for?” Especially if it’s for a Dog licence. Fortunately the depth of information we’ve been asked for this time round is simply to do with Mrs S’s little tumble and subsequent treatment. We’ve copied all the original treatment documents, which are in French, but easy enough to get the gist of if you’ve spent any time working in and around hospitals. Although having carted all said treatment notes and prescriptions back across the pond, we’re still wondering what to do with the X-rays. No-one here seems to want them, so I toyed out loud with the notion of having them framed. To which Mrs S simply said; “Bill. Get them framed by all means, but I won’t let you hang them on my wall. Or anywhere else in the house.” When she said that, she had that certain, how shall I put it, uncompromising look in her eye which I know of old. So like the wise fool I am, I’ve backed down and squirreled the offending black and whites in our refurbished closet along with all our old photographic negatives.

As she’s having trouble typing, having only one effective hand, the fracture being well up the forearm towards the wrist the cast itself all but immobilises the fine motor movements needed for keyboard work. Seeing as I have no urgent jobs on, this means I’ve become my wife’s ‘Scribe’. Effectively, I sit at her desk and type up whatever reports she tells me to. Which has been an education in Educationalese, and has provided a few moments of innocent merriment as I have been learning to read between the lines. Oh what a tangled web. Then there’s showering, and a host of other little things she needs help with, like getting dressed, putting in ear rings (Which is a pet hate of mine – no idea why) and a whole raft of other personal tasks short of going to the toilet. There’s also been the interrupted sleep when she unconsciously thumps me with her cast clad arm in the wee small hours and around the back of my head. At times like these the night time sofa beckons, as a nights uninterrupted kip is well worth the price of a stiff neck in the morning. It’s better than bruises.

Nevertheless, the tasks aren’t onerous, I’m getting an extra beer ration, so no real complaints. We’re off ‘oop norf’ to our old homestead up island tomorrow to see some friends and make some work related house calls. So probably no posting. Unless something really dramatic happens, in which case I’ll be back nose to keyboard like a flash.

Anything else? Not really. The cast comes off next week, and Mrs S starts physio. We’re planning a cross border road trip to see how our Southern cousins are doing first hand and maybe do a little bit of shopping if the prices are right. The sun is shining, and for the moment we’re still ahead of the game. So, no complaints.

TTFN

Nothing much to say

……and no real inclination to say it. Life trundles on. On the downside, I’ve just had to set the lawyers on a family member. A situation I’ve striven manfully to avoid, but they’ve been so dumb and plain obstructive I feel that a quick lick of the legal cat o’nine tails might bring them to their senses. If not, well, That’ll be their tough luck. Not that this gives me any satisfaction. We left the last chance saloon late last week and are now in the alley out back. It could get messy and expensive. For them, certainly.

Now excuse me, I have a trip to Paris to organise.

Soup day

Every so often on non-work days, maybe once every month I have what I call a ‘cooking day’. Not really a day, usually just four hours maximum, where I cast my cares aside and focus on a manual task while my subconscious does all the heavy lifting. At the moment this is because I have a knotty legal problem which I am reluctant to hand on to my legal Piranhas because it involves a family member. However, I have firmly informed said family member that while we may not quite be in the last chance saloon, I’m definitely outside the door perusing the menu. As a last ditch measure I’ve enlisted the assistance of other family members who are trying to intercede on my behalf and talk some sense into him. I’m also trying to stay away from Mrs S, who is stressing over pension transfers, future payments and UK tax forms. Not only that, but she’s being clueless about the document feed settings on the office scanner. All the information is but a web search away, and she’s giving me grief about it. The kitchen is currently my only refuge from the stress and I’m trying to utilise some downtime in a positive way. Then there’s our trip to Paris to organise.

Notwithstanding; today I’ve been making soup. Two varieties; firstly Carrot and Coriander, then Asparagus and Parmesan. Seven litres of the stuff are cooling, ready to go into the freezer. I picked up the ingredients for less than fifteen bucks, so they’re cheap eats. They’re also jolly good for vegetarian(ish) type soups and should see us until the warm weather arrives.

For the Carrot and Coriander you will need;
5lb carrots
Two medium onions
1 bunch fresh Coriander (a.k.a Cilantro) A handful
A large teaspoon of bacon grease (I did say Vegetarian-ish didn’t I?)
Half a teaspoon of dried chili flakes or 2 dried chilis
Half a teaspoon of garlic powder or three cloves of garlic (that’s three segments of a bulb)
A teaspoon of salt
Black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cornflour
Four litres of water (Maybe more, maybe less)
A large pasta pan
A liquidiser or blender
A second large saucepan
A frying pan

Put the frying pan on a low heat, add the bacon grease, fine chop the two onions and drop them in the frying pan. Add the garlic or garlic powder and chili and let the onions sweat until they are very soft. Take off heat and put aside for the next phase.
Wash and clean your carrots, cutting off the green tops which should be discarded. Put four, possibly even five litres of water in your big pasta pan, chop the carrots, add half the salt and bring to the boil before leaving them to simmer for at least half an hour until the carrots can be mashed into a mush with a fork. If they aren’t soft enough to be mashed, they ain’t ready.
Fine chop Coriander (Cilantro) and enjoy the smell. Dried Coriander or powder simply doesn’t work so well. It’s okay, but not that brilliant.
In suitable batches, depending on your blender or food processor, put the carrots, their cooking liquor and Coriander through blender, adding a large dollop of the onion garlic and chili mash with each batch, decanting each blendeed batch into second large pan until the onion mash and boiled carrots are thoroughly blended.
Put Carrot and Coriander mix on a low to medium heat.
Now put a few tablespoons of water in the cornflour and mix to a milky liquid. As soup mix starts to bubble a little, stir this liquid in until thoroughly mixed. Keep on the heat until you have a smooth, orange liquid dappled with dark green specks. Add rest of salt and black pepper to taste. Serve with bread of choice. A crusty bun is nice.
Let the rest to cool before decanting into a plastic container and putting in the freezer for future use.

For the Asparagus and Parmesan recipe, you will need;

Around 3lbs (2 Bunches) of fresh Asparagus (Providing it’s being sold off cheap)
Two medium onions
A large teaspoon of bacon grease
Half a teaspoon of dried chili flakes or 2 dried chilis
Half a teaspoon of garlic powder or three cloves of garlic (that’s three segments of a bulb)
A teaspoon of salt
Black pepper to taste
4 ounces salted butter
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 ounce grated Parmesan (Or more)
Half a pint (Quarter litre-ish) of milk
Three litres of water (Maybe more, maybe less)
A large pasta pan
A liquidiser or blender
A second large saucepan
A frying pan

Prepare the onion mash as per the carrot and coriander recipe. This forms the base of the soup.
Chop the Asparagus into one inch lengths, cutting off the last quarter inch of the asparagus tips. Put the asparagus tips aside for later. Put the one inch lengths of asparagus into a pan with half the salt and three litres of water. Bring to boil and simmer for half an hour.
Melt butter and mix in Cornflower, add milk and stir thoroughly until a paste is formed, add milk and Parmesan to create a moderate cheesy sauce.
Blend the onion mash, Asparagus and cooking liquor in batches, decant into second pan until all is thoroughly liquidised. Put pan over heat and when bubbles start to rise, begin adding the Parmesan sauce to the onion and Asparagus mix. Add remaining salt and black pepper to taste. Add tips of Asparagus, simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Enjoy with a crusty bun. Put remainder aside to chill in freezer for future use.

Please note; this blog takes no responsibility for failure to observe the most basic of hygiene and safety precautions. They’re your fingers, and dear reader, we sternly admonish you not to cut them off as they will ruin the flavour of the soups. Nor do we accept any responsibility for your failure to keep preparation equipment in a suitable state of repair. Your exploding blenders, burned saucepans, broken utensils, ruined kitchens and subsequent breakups or divorces due to your inattention and carelessness are nothing to do with me. We also take no responsibility for your culinary expertise or lack thereof; we can only assure our reader that a soupcon of common sense will produce results that will be most acceptable.

Have fun. Or not.

Now, gods…….

Shakespeare had it; why bastard, wherefore base? Indeed. History is liberally seasoned with those of us of (Cough) uncertain (cough, cough) parentage who have made good against the odds. Some would even say that condition can act as a spur for success. As far as I’ve been concerned it’s always been used as a sideways ‘shut up or we’ll tell everyone, slaphead’ or ‘Bill, don’t embarass your poor old Mum’.

As an aside to that topic, today I have found myself dancing a careful conversational Gavotte with UK lawyers and tax advisers. Dipping my toes in turgid legal waters to map out a fiscal path from A to Z. Not that this is a Machiavellian ploy on my part to asset strip another family member, more a sidestep to avoid being asset stripped. Both by family and ultimately, HMRC. The closest metaphor I can come up with is it’s like tapdancing through a minefield wearing outsize divers boots. Every leaden step becomes future threatening. Every decision must be taken only after consulting at least three sources.

When I’ve told friends and acquaintances of my difficulties, it’s interesting how quickly the old chestnut ‘blood is thicker than water’ is trotted out. In other words “Oo, you can’t call him out as a lying, cheating whoreson ‘cos you share some familial DNA.” Sorry chums but that’s just emotional blackmail, in effect saying that you can’t claim your rightful and legal due because you might hurt someone’s feelings and they’ll never talk to you again? Hmm. Now there’s a fine howdy-do and no mistake. What do I choose? Modest wealth and security for myself and my little clan of wife and stepkids who I have come to love as dearly as life itself? Or do I let my originating family, with whom I have little real emotional attachment actively prevent me from managing my own assets and leave me with a massive UK tax bill? No contest really. Hell, I’ve even emigrated.

‘Coming out’ to being a public bastard rapidly opens your eyes to the faults of others, especially when you suspect they think you’re some kind of total eejit, simply through the lottery of birth. Particularly when you think they’re going to screw you over. It’s also amazing how complex apparently simple matters can become. Especially when there’s a glint of gold in the air. So here I am. Do I, in thinking that there are financial and legal shenanigans afoot, cry ‘havoc’ and let slip the dogs of law? Or do I continue to solicit, beg, cajole, play nice and gently persuade the offending party, who has so far ignored requests to deal with matters to my satisfaction?

There’s the rub. Now if the letters speed, and my intention thrive………..We shall see.