Tag Archives: New beginnings

By bread alone

Man does not not live by bread alone. At least goes the biblical quote from Matthew 4:4. Which is kind of the introduction into a matter of diet. Mrs S and I have given up bread. And rice, pasta, flour, noodles and potatoes.

So apparently have brother and sister in law in the fabled land of Oz. Like us they’ve given up on chocolate and sugar entirely. Which some might find a little extreme, but honestly chums, I feel much better for it. Now you might be forgiven for thinking this expensive, but considering the price of bread over here, the cost of two reasonable quality loaves buys a pound and a half of steak once a week. The elimination of chocolate, sugar and other candy pays for more fish like Salmon, which is almost a basic staple over here. And of course there’s room in the budget for more bacon. Especially as I’ve found a decent butcher in our locale who actually knows their meats. They do four (Thank you God) varieties of proper dry cured bacon although I eschew the sugar maple cured stuff.

For her part Mrs S is eating more full fat yoghurt rather than that awful low-fat garbage with the strange aftertaste, and I’ve even taken a liking to garlic stir fried Taiwanese Cabbage of all things. Indeed our consumption of low carbohydrate vegetables has more than doubled. Which pleases Mrs S because she harbours the idea that vegetarianism is somehow virtuous. Odd how a lot of women feel this way. I of course, choose to differ. Meat is my métier.

Essentially what we’ve done is cut all the fattening starch and stodge out of our diets. Which does lead to a few strange looks from waiting staff when we go out for lunch and stipulate no fries or potato and definitely no bread. However, a good steak with buttered Asparagus is always a sound choice. We snack on Hickory smoked Almonds instead of popcorn or sweets when we rent or go and see a movie. I’ve even got to the point where I can easily out-stare a large bar of Cadbury’s Dairy milk fruit and nut without a single pang.

One issue I’ve been struggling with is sauces. So many require a roux of flour and water as a thickener, I’d almost given up hope of tasting the delights of a good thick gravy like substitute. And I do love lovely thick British style gravy. Fortunately, the jolly old interweb has ridden to the rescue to provide the outline recipe for a remoulade Cajun sauce. Which I have since refined to the recipe below.

A quarter of a large Red Pepper (Fresh Red cabbage can be substituted if no peppers)
Half a stalk of Celery
One Green (Spring) Onion
A quarter cup of fresh Parsley (Not dried)
Half a cup of full on Mayonnaise
Half a cup of full fat Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche (Creme Fraiche is best)
Two heaped teaspoons of Dijon Mustard
Two heaped teaspoons of Horseradish
A shake or two of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
A shake or two of Tabasco
Two heaped teaspoons of Paprika
Four heaped teaspoons of crushed Tomatoes or two medium size tomatoes
A third of a teaspoon of Cayenne pepper

Throw it all in a blender and puree until relatively smooth. It will come out pink, but this is good stuff which warms the mouth without setting it ablaze. Serve hot or cold. Just don’t boil it on the reheat. If you’ve gone down the red cabbage route, this sauce develops a fresh crunchy texture that never tires.

To serve, put a small amount in a side dish bowl, something about three or four inches across for immediate use at the table. Heat it in the microwave if you like. Stick the rest in the fridge or freezer. This sauce keeps. If it lasts that long. It also survives being repeatedly thawed and heated, even in a microwave. Goes pretty well with Steak, Chicken, Pork or Fish. Which is nice. It’s an all rounder with plenty of roundness and flavour.

Haven’t tried it with poached eggs, but I’ve found a quick and easy way to make fresh Hollandaise which is wonderfully buttery and mouthwateringly moreish over Asparagus. Then there’s the delight of French style omelettes, which kick the dessicated flat North American type into touch.  See Below.

Yes the dropping of starch and sugar has been challenging from a cooks perspective, but I don’t miss the rice, potatoes or starch and my waistline is thanking me for it. As for the substitute for cornstarch for a roux, I’ve been experimenting with Psyllium Husk powder, although so far some of the results have been disturbingly motile.

Will report back on this topic once I’ve cracked the method.

TTFN.

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The future of transport

There’s a lot of political motion about transport at the present moment. First there’s the ban on sales of Internal Combustion Engine powered vehicles from 2040, which California looks like replicating in order to ‘save the planet’. These impending bans to reduce air pollution due to ICE powered vehicles are all well intentioned but one is tempted to ask, what will said proscriptions actually achieve?

For practical purposes not much, because the nature of logistics within cities is already changing. But the future does not lie with self driving electric cars. Nor electric cars or any variant thereof. Except on an extremely limited scale. For reasons as discussed here. The changes that are coming are more far reaching than a simple change in how tin boxes are powered and controlled. For a given value of ‘simple’. Which has already turned into a whole different, and over-subsidised bunch of complicated.

For example; both Mrs S and I ‘telecommute’ every day using video and other online messaging services, rarely needing to physically visit clients or sites more than once a year. Up until ten years ago our jobs didn’t, couldn’t exist. But thanks to the dear old Interweb, we earn a reasonable crust and pay our way in the world without too much drama. Yes, we have a car, and in the next five years this will have to be replaced and a motorcycle added to our means of getting about two or three times a week. But we don’t need to commute every day. Which adds hours to our productive working days. Which means we can pick our time of day to go out to enjoy a bit of a drive. As well as keep things up to snuff at home without losing precious ‘us’ time. And there’s a growing number like us who don’t have to turn up at the office to put in a (very) full day’s work. We’re also contractors, so we don’t show up in public employment stats. Like the people who run small businesses off a laptop over a coffee shops wi-fi link and cell phone. There’s part of the future, and it’s already here.

The coming changes will be as radical as the migration of methods between travel by horse and the first steam powered railways and they are right on our doorstep. Indeed, delivery companies and start-ups are already experimenting with what was up until recently merely a toy. Especially in heavily congested areas. Particularly for small, highly specialised manufacturers and distributors. Amazon have been running trials and there are a bunch of other startups which recognise that where drones will really come into their own is in the short run courier business, at first as an adjunct to, then as a replacement for, inner city bicycle and motorcycle couriers. Point to point small packages, high speed and high security with the capability to home in on a mobile phone or tablet so that no matter where the recipient is within a given radius, they will be able to receive a physical document or critical replacement part at exactly the time the text or component are required. Or medical supplies on a Just in time basis.

As for personal transport, no matter how it is powered, as the ability to deliver to a precise location at an exact time improves, the need for someone to physically get in a car and drive across town to an appointment or to hire an expensive courier will slowly decrease, therefore so will the road congestion of the inner cities. In short, we’ll stop needing to drive everywhere quite so much. That’s where the future lies. Not Electric Self driving cars. Batteries will never be that good, but they will be good enough to transport small packages a hundred miles or so. Like John Hopkins Medicine managed with this trial, beating Team Roadrunners previous 97 mile record, set in May 2017. In the UK, Centrica have run trials for remote inspection of production sites out in Morecambe bay. And that’s only three examples.

This is the way real change for the better begins. Not with governments, but with people utilising an idea in new ways.

Now there is a major impediment. Legislation. Whether lawmakers fail or succeed to address the benefits of point to point lightweight deliveries. From a purely safety perspective, Drones with semi-autonomous Artificial Intelligence packages can be made to navigate crowded airspace to and from sensitive locations, but this must be mandated by clear laws that lay down a simple legal framework for the new technology to operate within. Simply banning their use does nothing but stave off the inevitable.

Of course, early adopters will (and probably do) already include your friendly local illicit substance provider and smuggler. A drone that can fly more than twenty plus kilometres carrying a kilo or two of whatever substance the market demands is no more detectable than a bird. The only real risks to drones being the territorial instincts of large birds, such as with Wedge Tailed Eagles in Australia, or the French and Dutch Police training Bald Eagles to take down unauthorised UAV’s.

On the topic of drone interdiction, Mr Trumps much vaunted border wall is no more use than the proverbial chocolate teapot at preventing cross border drug trafficking by drone. Short of shooting at everything that crosses a certain line, and that would be simply impractical. For example, two people with backpack sized controls and half a dozen drones could run rings around any number of border guards, eliminating the risks and expense of human ‘mules’ and couriers across say, the US-Mexican or US-Canadian borders. Who is to say this is not already happening. Because it already is.

Thus far, even prison walls have proved little use against drones, like with this smuggling operation into a prison. Although contrariwise, Enforcement monitoring Drones will be, (are and have been) used to remotely monitor and detect illegal activity so that flying squads of border agents can home in and make arrests. However, so far these drones are of the larger, military types and have so far proven uneconomic, but as quadcopter technology improves, the cost per enforcement unit will decrease. For example; Los Angeles Police Department is even experimenting with smaller drones.

What overall effect this technology may have on cities is covered in this interesting little TED talk by Julio Gil (See below). And he’s right. The technology is almost with us. In fact it’s so close early adopters are already using much of it. The rest is trying methodologies until we find one that really works.

I particularly like his idea of the mobile drone delivery platform. Post office or delivery van pootles down suburban or rural road while a squadron of drones busily drop mail and small packages off on doorsteps leaving the driver (and maybe a helper for the heavier stuff) free to concentrate on dropping off the bigger packages. Maybe even some form of pickup device could be provided to save on postal delivery people having to traipse around emptying mailboxes. Drone picks up your mail, reads a printed address bar code or number and pre-sorts it before the delivery van even arrives back at the distribution hub.

While much of the above may be conjecture one thing is certain; the future is almost here, and that future contains Drones.

Update:  You know that naughty man (Well, most of the lamestream pundits say he is) who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC?  Well, kiddies, he’s just signed an executive order enabling the testing of Drone Technology for deliveries and the FAA has just given CNN a waiver for camera drone flights to take place over crowds.  So yes, the future is closer than we think.  Cool.

I know those streets


…the streets of Barcelona. It’s one of the jewels of continental Europe and now the ground zero of the Catalan secession movement. I’ve sat and drunk coffee in front of the main cathedral, listened to the chatter around me, navigated the nearby flagstoned alleyways and peoplewatched the other tourists being startled by the dozen or so living statue mime artists that make a living at the foot of the Cathedral steps. It is one of my favourite European cities, one with a cultural identity you could bend rebar around. Like Seville, but not so much Madrid.

Now the Catelonians have voted for independence in a referendum the Madrid government and probably the EU, didn’t want them to have. The actions of the National Police riot squad have become global news which the Madrid government has totally mishandled. See this report from CGTN Africa below.

Regardless of whether the referendum itself was illegal, riot police beating up old ladies people for no better reason than they wanted to vote is like pointing a loaded gun at your foot, pulling the trigger and wondering why it hurts so bloody much. There is no way that is protecting anyone’s rights, or any form of justice, as claimed by the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, save that of wielding naked power for it’s own sake. Reporters on the ground say even the local city cops or ‘Mossos’, got in the way of the cruise shipped in riot police when ‘unofficial’ polling stations were raided. See the France24 video below and the linked story on RT.

And you thought that BREXIT was a big issue. Think of it this way, the Catalans are getting a dose of what the Spanish authorities have been doling out to the Basque since before 1876. This time however, the ‘rebels’ have tried to do things the right way, the peaceful and democratic way, yet the heavy hand of the Spanish authoritarian state has fallen upon them. As many libertarians and those who have fallen foul of any government department would say; “The State is not your friend.”

Update: After reading around and doing a little historical background I note that this is not the first ‘illegal’ referendum on Catalan independence.  The last was 2014 and before that smaller versions throughout 2009 to 2011.

Here’s a post referendum interview from Vlogger Tim Pool of expat journalist Simon Harris who is based in Barcelona.  Very enlightening insider perspective on Spanish political attitudes.

 

Interesting times

My, my. We do live in interesting times. Niall Ferguson argues in his “Five ingredients for a populist backlash” talk about why we are where we are using history, from 1873 onwards;

While he doesn’t give any definitive answers, he does give a broad brushstroke picture of what will result. Which for small time investors and currency speculators like me are useful straws in the wind. I like Niall, he’s not afraid to admit when he gets it wrong, especially over BREXIT. Unlike so many others in academia.

What I’m hearing about is political and economic forces similar to those which resulted in ‘la Belle Epoque’. There will be a few hiccups along the way, but as the EU collapses because that organisation is correctly observed to be little better than a hollow bureaucratic shell to fund lavish lifestyles for European ‘elites’. I foresee a new, more localist optimism driving economic growth, and the fading of many bugaboos like the anti-human notions of man made climate change and similarly pointless divisiveness of identity politics. A new liberalism of less government, greater individualism and wealth awaits over the next decade or two for those who are willing to embrace this nascent trend. Those that do not face obscurity and the scratching pens of scholars trying to work out how ‘progressive’ politics got it so badly wrong. The ‘elites’ amongst them. Word is leaking out that they’re beginning to lose big, and like Soros and his ilk, are doubling down on political interventionism while billions leak out of their back pockets.

There’s a lot going on out in the big wide financial world with talk of Marine Le Pen’s bid for the French Presidency and possible ‘FREXIT’ vote. Not to mention the possible Italian ‘Uscitalia’ (Thanks Peter) I’ll also be keeping a close eye on the proposed Catalonia referendum vote scheduled for late 2017. As well as the Chinese doing a possible deal with the US over Alaskan oil. Which will spell yet more pain for the politically hobbled Alberta oil sands. Which are some of the reasons why I’ll be going short on the Euro and Canadian Dollar but long on the US Dollar and Sterling.

Woodwork and nail guns

Well that’s it, the Drinks cabinet is finished and the house smells of varnish and woodstain, which will go away after a few days. Frankly I’ve stopped noticing it already. Everything works and Mrs S has a better looking reading corner. Job done.

One nice surprise was my electric stapling gun. An Arrow ETF50PBN, which is fine for what I need it for, and makes stapling domestic cable runs a breeze. Only good for softwoods though, but I don’t need anything heavy duty. What amused me was it is able to shoot nails too. Well, one type of nail, a 5/8th inch BN1810 to be precise which will require a last tap with a light hammer to drive home, but this is good. I now have a capability I didn’t think I had. No more bent nails because my hammering technique is on a par with a Tourettes sufferer with a bad case of sleep deprivation, and using a nail gun there’s no denting of the wood.

Home Depot still stocks the nails and staples, so despite being over fifteen years old my electric stapler / nail gun will do all I need it for. Which was the final nailing of the finished back over the rear of our pine drinks cabinet. This final phase took longer because I stained the outer skin, so that was another two hours drying time out in the garage (We have a garage! For the first time in absolute yonks!), so fixing the back happened about seven pm last night.

The new home is taking better shape after six weeks. Pictures are finally going up on walls with more to do. Mrs S and I are discussing ways to make the place look a little more homelike, a little less stark whilst retaining the lack of clutter and not spending a bloody fortune. Things have been worse.

eutanic-rock-and-a-hard-placeI’m also keeping a weather eye on the currency markets and looking at taking a serious (for me) short position on the Euro. The Euro is going to take a big hit over the next few months due to the French and Dutch elections because of the strong showing Euro-sceptic candidates of Le Pen in France and Wilders in the Netherlands garnering popular support. The news coming out of Sweden and France regarding Immigrant riots and the large uptick in sex crime will give them extra momentum. So it’s a fairly safe bet to say that if the Euro sceptics don’t win, they will at least come in a close second. In the meantime, I’ll be shorting the Euro. I may lose a bit at first, but what with BREXIT looking a bit more steady, the EUtanic will be going down and I’ll be able to trade out at a reasonable profit. We may even see the return of the Franc and Guilder. That will be interesting.

Another little bit of woodwork

Well, I’ve reached the half way point in the Drinks Cabinet project and proved to Mrs S yet again, that she may be married to one of the world’s few real multi-tasking men. Even if I had to cheat a bit. Having said that I think I’ve perfected my recipe for fish stew, but the Lemon and Garlic Couscous to go with it needs a little work. Less lemon, a spot of butter, and a trifle more seasoning with a scattering of finely chopped bell peppers should do it. I’ll post the method and ingredients under cooking for conspiracy theorists when I’ve nailed it all down.

drinks-cabinet-during-01A small job popped in via email and was quickly dealt with, then I busied myself with the usual chores and a bit of furniture redistribution before removing the shonky looking backing of the cabinet to expose the rebate (See before and after pictures). Why someone fitted that rubbishy looking 3/8th inch square Cedar beading in there is beyond me. I took it out anyway.

drinks-cabinet-during-02Next was staining one side of the inner back section and giving it a double coat of varnish. While that was drying, I fitted a small LED strip light under the shelf, running the cable to the left and left rear of the cabinet out of the back. Then once the inner panel was dry, I dropped it into place and fixed with a few panel pins and some carpenters glue. In the words of Cinderella overheard by palace servants just after her wedding to Prince Charming “It fits! OMG! IT FITS!” Have you any idea what they were up to? Me neither.

drinks-cabinet-during-03So how far have we got? Well, not much further to go. I’ve sanded the outer panel and got rid of the labels and manufacturing stain. The light fitting works nicely, and I should be finished by supper time tomorrow. No more groping around in the semi darkness of the single malt lottery and having to squint at wine labels for us. Although the wine rack is empty as we’ve been buying 3 litre boxes of reasonable Australian and Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignons for the last few months. Which saves all the fuss and palaver with Wine Savers and other such widgets if you just aren’t in the mood to quaff a full bottle.

I’ll restock properly in a month or two when the weather improves enough for an afternoon glass or three out on the deck watching shipping drift past along the Juan De Fuca and trying to ignore all the panicky hand waving over something someone has said on the Interweb, or Donald Trumps latest policy implementation, or BREXIT, and possibly even a FREXIT if the French electorate decides to bet on Ms Le Pen. That could be fun.

In the meantime that’s it really. Same stuff, different day. Life plods on.

Out of Synch

At the moment I’m a bit out of sorts, a weird sort of pseudo jet lag where my body hasn’t moved but it’s behaving like I’m living on Atlantic time rather than Pacific Standard. Which means I’ve been waking up at 4am like it’s 8am and doing almost a days work before breakfast. Then come early evening I’m ready to flake out. Feels like my body clock is having a bout of jet lag without any travel involved.

Which helps when you’re talking transatlantic to other people on the phone for an hour every time. But it’s no fun when the weekend comes as Mr Boring here is going to sleep at the wrong times during social occasions. Still, I don’t mind as there’s a potential big payday on the other end and in recent years I’ve gotten into the habit of working to the job, not the clock. Getting in early to finish early, or finishing when the work is done and not before. At least working from home I don’t have to face commuter traffic with the proverbial matchsticks holding up my eyelids like I used to.

This WorksafeBC thing is still hanging over us, and we’re seriously contemplating Mrs S moving into a more consultant like role where she doesn’t have the security of a regular work contract, but isn’t being transformed back into a wage slave, which she says she hates the idea of. Funny thing about freelancing. Once you start, you never really want to go back to the dreary old nine to five. Which is where our major objection lies. None of her colleagues want to be reduced to clocking in and out either. Not to mention the power of entry and control WorksafeBC can exercise on ‘workplaces’. You might like the way you’ve set up your screen and keyboard in your own home, but if the guy with the measuring tape disagrees, they can shut you down on the spot. In your own home. Mind you, from what I’ve heard, their inspectors are rarely seen up country, even when people do call them about real safety violations. So we might be thinking about buying a place that is somewhere a little too far out for them, but still has a reasonable Internet service. Or shutting down altogether. From what I hear, some of my wife’s colleagues and support workers have already done so rather than lose their privacy. The rest are busy giving their MLA’s and everyone else in range serious earache. The consensus seems to be that they will submit to the intrusion, but only under extreme protest and very grudgingly. This is, as I have observed to my wife several times, not going to end well.

Anyway, Mrs S is off to Jolly old Londinium in May and is currently obsessing over flights and hotels. I’m thinking of popping over to the old country to see what it looks like and go visit friends and relatives oop norf. However, I haven’t decided yet, so watch this space.

Squirrel!

Over at Longriders, I picked up the story of UK Government ‘health’ advice for people between 40 and 60 to get more sleep so as not to burden the ‘wonderful’ (Snarky guffaw) NHS with more of our unwelcome ickiness than necessary. What is it with these people? Don’t they know there’s a pensions crisis? Too many people (Including my good self) who are hurtling towards old age and presumed infirmity for the nations finances to afford. Not that I intend to use or expect much from the system. I have my own resources, and intend to keep them well out of the reach of HMRC through every legal avenue available. Yet I’m left with the thought, if ‘unhealthy’ living causes people to pop their clogs in an untimely manner, isn’t that a good thing, economically speaking? Eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow ye certainly die, yes? Fewer ‘seniors’ pottering around with their walkers, using ‘precious’ health resources, nonchalantly trying to avoid the questing gaze of the old grim reaper. Good, not so good? You tell me. If the options are between dying of a massive coronary at age 79, or facing the mercy of the Liverpool care pathway at age 81, it’s not much of a choice, is it?

There’s a lot of contradictory ‘advice’ that squitters out of the anus of Government propaganda via the lamestream media. Save, don’t save, spend, don’t spend. This is bad for you, oops, no it’s not but this is, oh sorry, wrong again. The Earth is warming out of control and it’s all your fault but if we tax you more it’ll be fine don’t you worry, but we’ll spend the tax on things like ‘outreach’ groups and other pork barrel promises to buy minority votes. To which my response is always WTF? Even if the lamestream told me the Earth was about to be hit by a ten mile wide asteroid I wouldn’t believe them. I’d be out in the back yard at night trying to spot it with my 20×50’s and a nice big mug of hot chocolate. The only people I’d actually believe would be the first hand sources like the less hysterical astrophysicists and Astronomers who can prove they know their stuff about orbital mechanics.

As for my Canadian GP, he’s a bit old school which I’m quite happy with. He doesn’t lecture or fuss over the latest directive, just deals with whatever problem we come in with. Which is quite refreshing. “Yeah, that’s healing nicely.” He said, checking over Mrs S’s busted wing having read the Orthopedic surgeons report from the rehab clinic. No other questions like “How much do you eat, drink, sleep, smoke and shit?” Our health is our concern. His job is to fix it when it’s broke. Which is as it should be.

For our part, we emulate the Squirrel. Building up resources against the Winter of infirmity and old age so the state doesn’t have to.

And we have a lively local population of tree rats. Mostly Greys, but there is a tribe of Blacks across and down the street. One of the Greys regularly makes a racket using our front guttering as a rodents rat run from one side of the property to the next, then three others which have been busily raiding next doors Walnut tree up to three nuts at a time each. Don’t believe me? Here’s three shots I took late yesterday afternoon.Squirrel raider 0 Here’s one, on his first Walnut raid of the day, legging it across the carport roof outside my office window as though all the voraciousness of the world were on his heels. Which for a squirrel is quite possible. They’re a prey species for just about everything short of Mule Deer.
Squirrel raider 1 Now see the little tinker, taking three(!) nuts at a time off to some store for what may be a harsh Winter. It might be a rerun of 2013/4 where we saw icicles as big as Elephant tusks as far south as Langford and Esquimalt. So, these squirrels are obviously ‘prepping’. Which is a sensible precaution, and probably why there are so many healthy looking squirrels in the neighbourhood.
Squirrel raider 2In this shot, here is our little interloper, selecting the biggest nut he can find (I think it’s a he, but with squirrels it’s hard to tell). For my part I am emulating the Squirrels provision gathering. Nothing fancy, just basics. Rendering Landladies abundance of tomatoes into litres of a very nice pasta sauce which reside in the freezer with the curry and soups. Picking up flour and yeast when it’s on a deal to bake my own artisan breads when necessity dictates. Squirreling comestibles into storage so that when relatives descend upon us from across the globe this September and December, they will leave for warmer climes (Australia, Tanzania and elsewhere) with full stomachs and happy memories while we will have spare in the larder for the cold months from January to March. All you have to do is keep your stocks rotated, and Robert is one’s Father’s brother.

Not that I believe there’s going to be any worldwide disaster, just that things will carry on being a bit tighter than they should be, and the wise man will always emulate the Squirrel, putting a little by in the Summer for when the hard times inevitably come.

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

In praise of rain

What is it? Just condensed water vapour, falling from the clouds. Yet there is a poetry in it; a soft lilting cadence in even the most torrid downpour. Even when raindrops are coming down so hard they splash and meet themselves coming back up a foot above the ground, forming a sparkling fairy carpet of silver. When even trees provide scant cover against an aqueous bombardment rattling their leaves. Must be the Irish in me that sees such beauty in torrential rain.

Back in my foot patrol days, I liked being out in the rain. Unlike so many of my contemporaries, for whom the mere occlusion of a cloud over the sun was cause to stay close to base. Days when I’d go out bang on time, spending my day under trees and lurking in doorways, and having done my stint, get back to base only to find I was the last man out there. Not that I minded. Even when the rest of our crew said it made them ‘look bad’. As if I cared. Being paid to take a walk, which was my definition of the job, was my idea of heaven. In any weather. The authoritarian part of it was an inconvenience, but I was never the most enthusiastic enforcer, only resorting to that part of the job when contravention was so blatant that even the most liberal would cry “Oh FFS, Bill! Book him!” in frustration. The general dyslexic still kept me busy. Was it that long ago? Well I never.

Today I’m watching rain fall from our tiny Parisian apartment as the skies dump a cleansing dollop of airborne water over our little Arondissement. The Plane trees in the centre courtyard occasionally thrashing like manic dancers under periodic downdraughts. Cafe owners glowering up at the leaden grey and counting the Euros lost. Locals and smokers lurking under their umbrellas or in cafe’s until the pleut passes.

Then the clouds, having divested their skirts of so much water vapour, will sail sedately on like fat women after liposuction and the sun will bless the world again. Umbrellas will be returned to their stands, cafe proprietors will lay out their tables, people will stop by on their way back from work and a cleaner world will turn once more. Then there will be the warm, clean smell of wet earth replacing the odd ammoniac whiff of Eau de Tramp, garbage, traffic fumes and spilt diesel. At least for a while.