Zone Doubt, a.k.a. 'Surreal Я Us'...
Joules, trusted by... dozens... to make a drama out of your crisis...
:: JAT :: WaveWrights :: Publications :: Joules... on writing [on hiatus] ::
I live to write. It's not wise to get in my way.
August 2011: the earlier posts in this blog are a mess, the result of me changing the format some time ago. I'm working to edit the entire blog from the beginning, but with over 4K posts and sodall time for such luxuries it's going to take a while... [02/09/16 - Now reached 09/10/2004]
If you come across any words you don't recognise in this blog, take a look at the Taylorspeke Glossary in the left-hand infopane, you'll usually find a definition there.
First, a recommendation. Dive over to The Jonathan Day Fiction Site and try some of the stories. I love this author's writing - it's funny, bitingly witty, dryly incisive, chilling, and deliciously subversive by turns. Absolutely well worth a look!
Sunday, June 17, 2018
Quickest of all possible updates: GoodTwin and Adrian are coming over from Winchester next week to take us on the first stage of The Quest for the Car!
It's all getting quite exciting!
[GLOMPS] GoodTwin. Be fantastic to see you again.
Oh, and we watched The Nines, which is just amazing. Wonderful, complex film. My respect for Reynolds' range grows with every film I see.
Friday, June 15, 2018
Tch'. I forgot the other automatic louvre opener. Add another £30 to the greenhouse cost - £910...
Last night we had drilling, hammering and sawing next door until gone midnight, which led to a disturbed night for me. Very tired, stressed and frazzled today, so when my instructor arrived I asked if we could just review everything we'd done so far, in quiet roads, instead of the reverse-parking, hill starts and venturing out onto faster roads we'd planned (and told him why, and what had happened last Fri.) He said of course, that would be fine - then almost inconspicuously guided me into doing what we'd originally planned anyway, the sneaky erbert!
Actually, once I got started, it all went incredibly well. My positioning was really good this week, hill starts (which I always used to be good at) perfect three times in a row on a rather steep hill, and although it took several attempts, my final reverse parking (into a parking bay with a pavement and a tree behind us) was perfect, if I do say so myself. (I find it much easier to perform that manoeuvre if there's an obstacle behind me. I may be the only person in the world to feel this way...) Clutch control is almost as good as it used to be, and I'm confident enough now I'm not bothered by other traffic. All in all a very good lesson, he thinks I'd be fine now to go buy a car and be safe to drive it, and made my week by saying I must have been a very good driver back when I drove before!
And I thoroughly enjoyed it. So that's all good.
Of course I'm now really tired and heading bedwards in a wee while (will let the amitriptyline start working first). We have a relaxed weekend planned: it's Ken's birthday on Sunday, which is also Father's Day this year, and he's taking Mon as annual leave, so has a nice long weekend ahead. Kai should have venesection on Sun, but has gone down with a throat infection and is feeling a bit rough, so I've rescheduled it for the 1st July. Dr told him to double his penicillin meds for 10 days and get back to her if it hasn't eased in a week. He doesn't have a temperature, and Bronchostop and honey and lemon drinks and lozenges seem to be helping, so I'm not too worried. It's annoying for him, but this is, unfortunately, going to keep happening as his immune system is never going to get back to normal. But he's accepted that and is learning to cope. It's all we can do really, and he's not letting it get him down too much...
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Brief edit to the last post. Looked out the receipts to show the police: the greenhouse cost £880 (28/5/16), construction another £1,285 (early Sept 2016), so a total of £2,165. Damn right I'm angry.
Forgot to mention: a month or so ago we watched Black Mirror season 3, which was excellent, with both the nicest - San Junipero - and the nastiest - Shut Up And Dance - episodes so far.
Yesterday's swim was another 36 length (in 50 mins), and felt really good. I think the weekly swim is the only time I'm completely free of pain. Pity about the walk home afterwards, but at least it's all downhill. Last night we watched Self / Less, which is wonderful. A really excellent film - deserves higher than it gets on the IMDb.
Today is business: some book ideas to send to our agent, and for me to finally sort out my pension. Oh joy...
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
[sigh] Perhaps if I say - "don't expect me to have time to write anything for three weeks" I might be able to update more regularly? Like some kind of reverse psychology? The other method ain't working...
Let's see how much I can remember.
Flower spike on the everlasting orchid.
The garden - first peas and mange tout appeared in the raised beds, first sweet and bell peppers in the greenhouse. We've decided on the design for the drive (well, mostly me but Kai loves the idea and Ken is OK with it, so it'll probably happen). Gravel isn't permitted by Bristol City Council, so we're going to go for yellow pebbles instead (six drives along the other half of the road have them, so it looks like it's 1, perfectly acceptable, and 2, there's precedent). Going to plant blue flowers around the edges to give the effect of a beach surrounded by water... We don't have a price for it yet, but it's going to be a little while before we can afford it in any case. I'm planning to have an extra wide entrance: I've had to get Kai into hospital three times in the last couple of years, so want to make sure there's space for an ambulance if needed.
Have some garden pics!
Kai's copse, shady and safe for him to sit out when it's sunny.
Our crow. This one fishes tadpoles out of Roeg's pool for snacks!
Tyjer's new shelter when it rains...
The painting is coming along, but very slowly: I can only hold a paintbrush for about ten minutes before my hand starts going numb (the carpel tunnel has resurfaced with a vengeance. Should probably go see dr and ask for another steroid injection). It's going to be weeks before everything's done, but it is going to look lovely, so that's something.
We're still waiting for the quote to replace the downpipe - actually I'd better email our WeCare person to find out what's happened to it.
We've had the plumber this morning: the ballcock to the extension tank up in the roof had packed up and over the last four days (over the weekend, of course, when no-one's available to come out) Kai's heard running water going out in the guttering. All fixed now - for once it was a nice easy job - but not looking forward to the bill. This summer is turning out to be rather expensive...
Food porn for Lutra - Korean Beef (except it's not really Korean, but it is extremely tasty and is now on the repertoire).
Health: dentist has refilled the problem tooth, but if it gets another infection or starts causing pain, I'm to get there as quickly as I can to have it extracted (she left notes to that effect on my records). I may be lucky - it could go for years with no further problems. On the other hand it could start hurting later today - there's no telling. Keeping fingers crossed for the first option!
Also, happy to report that the amitriptyline is working: the sciatica has all but gone, which is a huge relief. Haven't needed to increase the dose either, one tablet before bed is proving to be enough at the moment.
Media: We've finished watching Touch season 1, and will probably start on season 2 next week. Ken and I have a sneaking suspicion it's not as good as season 1 so we didn't want to spoil 1's enjoyment. Caught Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle on FilmFLex and thoroughly enjoyed it. Dwayne is brilliant, and it's the first film I've seen where I actually like Jack Black. We'll be buying it when it comes down in price - so I picked up the original Jumanji for 49p at St Pete's (for completeness sake). We watched it last week and to my surprise, although I thought I'd seen it before, it was completely new to me. And fun.
I watched Buried by myself. It's very good, but not an easy watch... I found Definitely Maybe in a charity shop in Wells - Kai and I went there last Saturday for a day out. Had a great time - as it looks like I'm now idly collecting Ryan Reynolds films.
The much-touted Bumblebee film is out in Dec. I wasn't too fussed, as he's not a favourite character - but the design looks good, and Starscream is in it, so I will be buying it, and no doubt there'll be an associated Starscream action figure in due course, so that'll be one to look out for.
Swimming - week before last made 24 lengths, and last week 36, which is a full one half of a mile! Quite proud of myself. Of course, this means I now have to try to reach that every week...
Except for this week. I did too much gardening with Kai and can barely move today, dammit. Will this teach me? I hope so!
Driving - the week before's lesson went really well, and last week's even better: we focussed on reversing, parking and manoeuvring. I get the impression he thinks another lesson, maybe two, and I'll be good to go. Kai and I will start scouring Autotrader asap...
Of course, there's always something. After such a great week, I went out to water in the greenhouse, to find that the poisonous, hateful old waste of oxygen next door has sprayed fence paint all over the side and roof, right down to the ground. For no reason. And it has to be deliberate: I had it built a good 7 foot from the fence so he could spray his side without causing any damage. My greenhouse is less than 2 years old and cost me £2,000 in total.
Needless to say I am absolutely furious. Got straight onto the police, reopened my complaint against him, got a crime report case number back, and am now waiting for them to visit. And this time I'm bloody well pressing charges. Gods I loathe him!!
Monday, May 21, 2018
Right. [rubs hands together and cracks knuckles] Let's try to get this written before Kai wakes up...
First, while I remember, Kai fixed my computer speaker for me (GoodTwin and Sue may remember the plug thingie on the master speaker broke off when they were here last). The pair of speakers are ancient - decades before USB speakers appeared on the scene - but really really good. The volume on them is window-rattlingly loud at just half-mast... Anyway, Kai handed it to me with a grin and said I shouldn't nag him about his boxes full of old computer bits any more, as he found the replacement plug amongst them. (I promised I wouldn't - not that I did much, anyway - but asked him to try to keep them tidy...)
It's wonderful to have music again!
Last post Lutra commented - "First the tetra of immortality, now the everlasting orchid... I'm detecting a theme!" Well, it gets odder. Every time we've had workmen come in the last year and a half, their partners have either just had babies, or are about to. Tom the plumber, Steve and boss's son the Crystal Clear window installers, even the guy who came to fix the fridge freezer!
Gravity goes a bit strange in this house too, occasionally, especially in the greenhouse. I usually start the salad leaves off there, and bring them into the house when they're big enough to use...
Didn't quite work last time!
Greenhouse, last sowing.
What they should look like (although this is only half the usual amount as the rest has been used in sandwiches etc.)
(The recipe for the Japanese pickles is at the end of this post, btw.)
We seem to have a (semi)resident fox... Back in March, after the snow had melted, I saw something moving in the garden. At first I thought it was another cat - but Tyjer was sitting watching it rather than attacking, so I looked a little closer. It was a very poorly fox, all the fur gone from its tail and left shoulder and limping badly...
I rang the RSPCA, who asked if it was mobile (which it was, if only just: they can't do anything if it's still walking around) and said could we try feeding it for a few days to see if it improved. We keep dog food in anyway, to put out for the foxes when the weather is really bad, so we gave it a go. Fox visited every lunchtime for five days, obviously improving, ears perking up and the limp getting better, then stopped coming. We thought that either it was self-sufficient now, or had died (we didn't know what had caused all the fur loss: it could have been from an accident, maybe with a car?, or mange, which we know can be deadly.)
Then last week Ken said he'd seen a fox wander down through the garden. That's not unusual, but this wasn't the usual fox, who we recognise because he is a magnificent specimen, big, strong and with a bushy full tail. Then on Friday last Kai went out to fill the bird feeders at the top of the garden, only to see a fox lying in a sunny spot up behind the privet he has planted at the edge of the new meadow. It saw him and slunk away through the damaged fence panel - but it was there the next day too, and he got a better look. If it is our poorly fox, it's made a full recovery, although its tail fur still hasn't quite regrown completely. And the hole in the ground in the new meadow is a lot bigger than it used to be... We put some food out for it, which vanished fairly quickly.
Kind of tickled that it feels safe enough to use the garden in daylight!
So, quick run-down of last week.
Mon: major shop at Wilko for me - paint, wall hooks to hang up the mower, pair of telescopic grass shears that I can use without bending over - and Kai said the exam wasn't too bad.
Tues: Kai's second exam, also not too bad, he thinks/hopes. I couldn't go swimming as the end of Hampstead road was closed for roadworks (like half the bloody city at the moment) Tues and Wed (and in fact was still closed to traffic on Thurs...) Spent much of the day getting ready for the window installers, shifting stuff away from the windows as best we could. Watched Kingsman: the Golden Circle in the evening, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Wed: Crystal Clear arrived at 9... There followed an extraordinary amount of noise, drilling, sawing, and kicking down the kitchen door as I couldn't find the old key!
They actually got the windows completely in on Wed, and just had to finish off tidying up on the Thurs.
It all looks fantastic - and it's so quiet. And warm - the temperature is the same right the way through the house now, so much better than having to go out of a warm room into a cold one (no more ill-fitting Critalls windows that we couldn't even close properly). Not to mention the security aspect! We've waited 25 years to get it done, but it's been worth it.
Fri: young Will came to install the stair rail - it's lovely pine, so is wonderfully in keeping with the natural unpainted look we're aiming for for the wooden fittings in the house. And it makes getting up and down the stairs so much easier.
Sat: I started painting in the kitchen while Ken bought and sawed the wood for the shelves I wanted across the new panel that's replaced the old kitchen door. Great big non-opening window for my indoor food plants!
Sun: shopping and chilling. And finishing watching Stan Lee's Lucky Man season 2 - great stuff. Waiting now for season 3...
Other bits of news... Driving lesson on Thurs went OK, though I was very tired and had to cut it short after just over an hour as I was losing focus and (obviously) didn't want to cause an accident. Next lesson is tomorrow, 4 - 6 (rush hour, oh joy... Still, I have to do it sometime so why not now...)
Dr has given me new meds to see if they help with the pain in my back, hips and legs - amitriptyline, which confused me as it's primarily an anti-depressant, but also used in neuropathic conditions, which is what I have. Felt positively dopey when waking the first week: that's now eased off, but the pain is worse. Though apparently it takes 4 - 6 weeks for it to start working, so hopefully the effects will kick in in a week or so. Fingers crossed.
We have a Wecare technician coming at 1, with a contractor, to give us a price for replacing our downpipe with a new one. The old is asbestos and came with the house: about 12 years ago it developed a hole - which we patched up with butyl rubber and superglue (Blue Peter fans, anyone?) - then a leak, which we treated the same. It's done well since then, but now it's got rather beyond us and is a health risk: we really need it replaced. I'm dreading the cost, but it needs to be done. More later.
Go read Jonathan Day's Enlightenment. It had me LOLing loud enough to wake the neighbours!
Lastly, I've treated myself to four films going really cheaply (like, 1p and 50p) on amazon and ebay - Buried (because I like Ryan Reynolds, although I know I'm going to find the film claustrophobic), and - because Keanu Reeves is my guilty pleasure - Little Buddha, A Walk in the Clouds, and Dangerous Liaisons, an early film in which he only has a smallish role (I think?), but having recently watched the Korean version of this classic, I thought I'd get an English one as well...
And that's the most of the news! Later, all...
Tyjer on the back of my recliner...
Monday, May 14, 2018
How did I ever have time to update every day?...
I declare this the Year of the Radish (in this house, anyway...)
First pick, to thin them out rather than anything else. I did say everything is hurrying to catch up after the snowy start to the spring...
Shall be making some Japanese pickles later (radish, carrot and cucumber in a mirin and white wine vinegar and sugar syrup).
So, what's been happening?
Watching... Kai had said he'd heard good things about Stan Lee's Lucky Man: found a copy cheap on amazon so bought it. It's actually rather good - we found ourselves watching at least two eps a night, and liked it enough to order the second season (it's a speedy watch, only 10 x 45 minute eps per season so easily done). I also found The Café on the Ioffer site (specialises in TV films/series' that never got officially released - I've bought from them before and found them pretty good). This one isn't perfect - the season 2 second disc stalls in a couple of places - but most of it is fine, and most enjoyable. I picked up Kingsman: the Golden Circle cheaply, but we had to watch Kingsman: Secret Service first, as Kai hadn't seen it. Did that last night and loved it!
In the house... I now have an over-the-bath seat, and this morning young Will from the council fitted the bath grab rail and the curved rail on the newel post at the top of the stairs (he's coming back to fit the stair rail asap). I've started redecorating the stairwell and hall (we're going for cream and gold - or possibly moss green - this time): most of it will be done once the last of the windows have been replaced (Wed and Thurs this week). Ken has started stripping the six or so layers of paint off the banisters - the wood underneath seems to be a mix of pine and possibly oak - rather nice and beautifully grained. Kai has said he'll carry on stripping the paint off the main rail this summer: once it's all finished it will look pretty good.
My everlasting orchid is doing its thing again...
Yes, that's another flower spike coming off the current flower spike...
Kai's had his two vivas and sits his first (of four) exams this afternoon. Not looking forward to it, but he's studied hard and just has to pass it, so fingers crossed. This is the one he's most worried about, so we'll be glad when it's over. He has another tricky one tomorrow but again, has done a lot of work towards it. His last two are next Thurs and Fri - then he's on summer break. Until October. We have a lot of things planned for the summer...
In the garden... Everything is going well. Most of my seeds have sprouted now, and some sweetcorn is ready to be planted out (sprouting's been uneven this year). The tomatoes and peppers have started flowering in the greenhouse, and - a small miracle - the spindle tree seeds that I planted two years ago have now sprouted. I've repotted them in compost mixed with chalk dust (from GoodTwin's Salisbury Plain chunks of chalk from a very long time ago - I still have a fair number left!) Mum T wants one, Kai another, the third will probably go into the front garden. They can grow very big though...
Kai had a go at using the lawn mower - and it packed up, blowing the fuses in the shed as it did so. Not his fault, it's a mechanical fault somewhere. We've bought a Flymo instead - lighter and easier to use!
There's more - there always is - but that's the most memorable (for me). Later!
Thursday, May 03, 2018
First refresher driving lesson 11 - 1 today. Instructor is young (late 20s, I'd guess) even-tempered and patient - pretty much perfect. Drove us to Knowle then swapped seats and went through all the car controls - quite a few of which I'd never seen before (well, the Petal was old in 1986: things have come on a bit since then. Love the customisation!) Once I knew what everything did, he let me take over...
Knowle is lots of small quiet residential streets, cars parked half on pavements on both sides of the road, several mini-roundabouts and lots of turnings - pretty good place for a first refresher...
Quite surprised myself. My clutch control is not at all bad given the 25 years since I last drove (used to be excellent so I expect to get back to that level quickly): observation also pretty good (though needs some work as I'm not used to using both wing mirrors), and general handling of the car is surprisingly good too.
And then I turned sharp left into a small side road, just over a speed bump, with someone driving a bit too close behind me for comfort, and a cyclist (teen, no helmet) in the middle of the road I was turning into. Veered too close to the kerb...
And punctured the sidewall of the front nearside tyre.
[sigh]. Obviously this is why the lessons are so expensive, to cover insurance for damage. He was OK though - said I'd actually done very well, all things considered, and was happy to book another lesson for the week after next (and will make up the half an hour we had to call short, as the car wasn't safely driveable after I broke it). He also rang for a taxi for me to get home, which was very good of him.
So, not an unqualified success, but much better than I anticipated, and more importantly, I enjoyed it. Going to take it slowly, see how I do next lesson then book another, as I need to try driving in town (which I always hated) even though we'll mostly be using the car for countryside trips and occasional shopping (and I know all the routes around Bristol to avoid the centre. But just in case of emergencies I need to be able to navigate around the city centre, oh joy). Kai has exams this month, so we're going to start car-hunting early June in the hopes we'll have the car by the middle of the month. Once we have it I can apply for my Blue Badge, and ask how I go about organising a disabled parking bay to be painted outside the house (because we can't afford the hard standing until end of this year/beginning of next at the moment.) And we can start having fun days out!
All quite exciting!
In other news...
Ken and I bussed to Hurrans last Sunday, to pick up a trough and some more seeds. I've started clearing the grass away from the patio area (we want to get rid of as much as possible: Ken hates mowing, and although Kai has offered to take over, it would be easiest if he just mowed the bits he wants to keep - which is NOT the patio or my growing area up by the raised beds and greenhouse...) and set up the trough and newly cleared manhole cover -
In the trough are oregano (transplanted - and much happier for it - from a tub up by the greenhouse), thyme and sage from Hurrans, with garden mint (nearer) and chocolate mint (further - tastes like After 8s) in the manhole cover (there's chives and rocket seeds there too, as yet unsprouted). My potted bay tree and rosemary - far right - aren't in the right places yet: once the grass is dead we plan to put down artificial grass (or stone slabs if we can afford it this year) and add another trough or tubs with other herbs (I've started using them more in cooking so it makes sense to have them all close to the house). It's coming along nicely. Oh, and the bamboo? FULL of happily sprouting new leaves! Now looking for larger, prettier tubs for it, with room for a base support so I can get it growing a little more upwards rather than out.
And because she loves my garden, here's a current panorama from the patio for Lutra.
As you can see, there's now netting on the higher bed, as my mange tout and dwarf beans are sprouting. (Actually, so is everything else: two different sorts of onions, three of carrots, three radish varieties and a row of spring onions). Everything's trying to make up for lost time...
Watching: we finally finished House. All 176 eps of it. Never again.
Next up is Starhunter, then Touch, but we probably won't be starting until next week: tonight the next ep of Marvel's Runaways is on, followed by the first two eps of Siren (what can I say, I love mermaids...) And with the weather suddenly improving, I think we plan to spend as much time outside as we can, although on Sat, while K&K are out exploring woods at Portbury, I will be starting the hall/stairwell/landing repaint, as we're having a secondary banister put in opposite the one that came with the house to make it easier for me to get up and down the stairs, and I need to paint the wall before it goes in. Had the over the bath seat delivered now and it's brilliant!.
Hm. Anything else? I think that's it for now. Off for a lie-down I think - the driving was quite tiring!
Saturday, April 28, 2018
First, a recommendation. Dive over to The Jonathan Day Fiction Site and try some of the stories. I love this author's writing - it's funny, bitingly witty, dryly incisive and deliciously subversive by turns. And free fiction? What's not to love?
Go check them out, but bear in mind they may be addictive, as I suddenly found at 3 am when I had to get up early the next day and had to make myself stop reading.
Onto the garden...
Sue's little Valentine apple tree! Not sure if it will fruit this year, but it's looking very happy and has settled in nicely.
Watched: Tiny Robots, which is 45 minutes of my life I want back. It's dire. The Opera Australia version of The Mikado, which was a blast (although some of the politicised verses were a bit beyond us...). Pathfinder, which is so-so. And Kai and I are now on season 8 (the last one) of House. It's now a matter of gritting teeth and finishing the course, as I absolutely loathe the character.
May is going to be extra busy: Kai has exams, I have drs appts (hoping to try to persuade her to book me for another steroid injection in my right hip - fingers crossed) and people coming to fit grab rails around the house (and a slatted seat over the bath so I can get in and out safely to shower), and Ken has a week off now and is hoping to get out and about a little. And of course there's the garden every day too. Well, it's all good exercise! (Which reminds me, swam 24 lengths at the pool last week and didn't suffer too much the following day, which is good news!)
Off to make lunch - sossij and Puy lentil soup as it's ridiculously cold today.
Friday, April 20, 2018
Just a quick one.
With the warmer weather the garden and greenhouse have exploded. My seedlings seem to have doubled in size every time I check them (the first climbing beans - only planted in peat pots last week - need planting out today and I haven't finished the framework for them yet!) Radishes, spring onions, and even the first carrots have sprouted in the higher raised bed, and the bamboo seems to be recovering well, although it's a bit early to be completely sure. We have a pair of long tailed tits now regularly visiting the patio feeder: they are so cute. They take a fruit suet nugget in their beak, flit to the physocarpus, hang upside down from one of the thicker branches, then take the nugget into a claw and delicately eat it in little nips.
Beautiful little tree. (Your valentine apple tree is coming on well too, but the leaves start out red and don't photograph well against the wall backdrop. Will try later.)
Watched THX 1138. I saw it first at uni Film Club, but rather to my surprise remembered practically none of it. It's pretty good, though will never be a favourite. Kai enjoyed it though. He also really enjoyed Split, which I found extra cheap at Tesco and bought because of McAvoy, who is a very fine actor. And he was excellent in this too - but I hadn't noticed it's a Shyamalan directed film. I don't like his films. They all start off really well, but have horribly anti-climactic and/or stupidly unbelievable ends. This was, alas, no exception.
But that's just my opinion. Hundreds of thousands of people disagree.
Time to get started on the garden!