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][20/03/2019 - giving up. I don't have enough time to update the blog atm, let alone edit old entries!]
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!
Thursday, May 28, 2020
Why is it, when one of the family manages to get some very nasty ailment, it always sounds innocuous? I mean, Kai's aplastic anaemia, and now my cellulitis...
What's the big deal with cellulite? I asked myself. Then I was given more details...
So - this is the ward. Photos of my leg underneath if you want to risk it.
The jet engine above my bed!!
What my legs should look like. (Excuse the foreshortening, not easy to get a good angle.)
Right leg Sun 10th May.
Right leg after fall and admission into hospital 15.5.20. The purple line was the doctor marking the extent of the infection so they could check if it increased or decreased during treatment. You can't see the massive purple splotches around the lower part of the leg here.
Brief rundown of events - as best I can remember them. Apparently I was rather more ill than I realised and a combination of cellulitis, kidney problems and the flucloxacillin antibio (which did NOT suit me at all) had my temperature spiking a lot. So they switched me to intravenous tazocin for 48 hours, which worked better, while they took umpteen blood tests to try to establish what the hell was going on.
Stopped my BP meds immediately, as apparently they (indapamide and ramipril), along with the ibuprofen I rely on for pain control for the back and hip problems, were combining with the infection and the antibios to have me headed for kidney failure. At least, that's what I understood from what they were saying. They kept taking blood samples, anyway, and reporting back, and on Monday(? I think?) one of the microbiologist (lovely black guy with the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen) was able to tell me that the markers were heading in the right direction and the kidneys were going to be OK. But I must stop taking 'pufen for good. Oh joy. Paracetamol just doesn't have the same effect...
They took me off the i/v taz and tried me on tablets instead - my temperature went right back up. So they started yet another antibio - co-amoxiclav, first by injection via the cannula, then as tablets, which I'm still taking at home. They do seem to be working: the swelling has reduced significantly and my skin feels soft as usual on my calf and the outside of my leg (shin is still bruised and painful from the fall - and it feels as though there may be a small lump under the skin on the inner side. May have to ring surgery about that if it doesn't go. It feels softer and less obvious today, so fingers crossed...) All the skin is peeling off my leg though, and it itches like hell. Small price for healing...
I'm back on ramipril, but only half the dose I was on, and I've been told to skip the indapamide altogether, so may need to find an alternative once everything's healed. Already missing the prufen though.
But the worst was the nights. I wasn't sleeping well anyway - combination of pain and meds and dropping off during the day - but I kept waking up to nightmares. I don't usually get nightmares. Yes, the occasional unpleasant dream, but nothing too scary. But here...
It didn't help that the ward walls were pale and tended to recede into the background at night unless there were lights on (which there mostly weren't). First time - around 4 am Sun I think - I woke up believing we were all in the morgue, and wondering why we were all still breathing as we were supposed to be dead. Second time - again 4 am-ish but not sure what day - L had some kind of episode and the nurses rushed in, talking loudly and with lights everywhere: I could have sworn we were in the middle of some kind of black ops where we were all linked up telepathically and trying to contract aliens! Was sure I heard helicopters (which I might have done, BRI has a helipad for the air ambulance). I remember being thoroughly pissed off at that point, a mood that lasted until half way through the next morning. Third time - again around 4 am. What is it with 4 am?? - I woke with absolutely no idea where I was. I actually had to hobble to the ward door and ask the night nurses where I was. They told me, but I was absolutely certain the entire ward had somehow been physically moved, and if I walked out the entrance I'd find myself in Pinhoe, in Exeter...
Fourth time - yes, 4 am-ish - I thought we were on an open plain, waiting to be picked up for some sort of experimentation under some sort of government coverup.
Can you tell I don't like hospitals much?
FINALLY, on my last night there, I worked out that the way to stop this was to leave my reading light on, tucked down behind the head of my bed, so when I woke I'd be able to see I was just in the ward with the others. And what do you know, it worked. Just annoyed it took me that long to work it out, as the previous nights had been absolutely terrifying - and I don't scare easily these days.
I told Ken about it later, and his reply was interesting and instructive. He said that it sounds similar to how dementia sufferers feel (he has dealings with such matters in his work at BCC). I have a new understanding of the awfulness of it.
So to now. K&K managed really well while I was away, but I think they're quite glad I'm back. Kai is learning to cook. Tyjer spent the week sleeping on my pillow, I understand: when he came in and saw me in my recliner he froze, and his eyes went huge - then he went to be petted by Kai. I got the cold shoulder for a few hours, which I'd expected, then he came and sat on my head, so we're all back to normal now.
All for now - have to go put leg up for a few hours. Films etc next update.
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Well, that was... interesting.
After my trip to Downend temporary health clinic (set up in Downend Dental Clinic) and ultrasound confirmation that it was NOT a deep vein thrombosis - and after a late night nasty fall due to dizziness caused by the antibio I was initially given - I was summoned to our own surgery for blood tests... Next thing I knew I was rushing to the BRI (oh, the taxi fares this week!) as the blood tests had thrown up what the hospital discharge notes call 'acute kidney injury'. (Will go into details next post. Can't sit for long, supposed to be keeping my leg raised near-permanently for the next two weeks.)
Wheeled up to ward A522, usually for liver problems but pressed into service for other ailments during the lockdown. Poke, prod, attempts to draw blood: my veins had decided they didn't want to play and getting a needle or cannula into one proved increasingly difficult. Three holes in right elbow crook. Two in left. Five holes in back of left hand (OUCH). Eventually juuuust managed to draw enough for further tests, a cannula half inserted into back of left hand and intravenous antibios started.
Then the fun started.
Opposite me was a lovely lady - AB, early 80s - who had fallen and torn all the ligaments in her right knee and was in a LOT of pain. Next to her was 'Jean' (not her real name), a dour, grumpy, five foot nothing Scots-born early 90s who was suffering breathing problems. Next to me was Ann, who did nothing but groan in pain for 24 hours. We found out later she had shingles all down her left side and the powerful meds she was supposed to be taking hadn't reached the hospital pharmacy, so she spent the first two days in excruciating pain. She was actually in because she'd fallen in the morning and her daughter hadn't found her until 6 pm. Once they'd got her stabilised she volunteered to move to a solitary room so we could take L - early 50s, hooked up to umpteen monitors and receiving meds practically 24/7.
AB and I introduced ourselves. In keeping with my usual attempts to stay cheerful, I started joking around, which AB enjoyed and joined in. It got very very silly. Even the nurses were laughing. And 'Jean', once she was more settled and feeling a little better, sat up and listened in, occasionally, in a deep growly voice, coming out with her own funny that had us in stitches. Turned out she's a real treasure, lovely woman with a pretty awful background who nevertheless kept her chin up (when she wasn't sleeping curled around herself like a kitten!)
And the rollicking fun continued the whole time I was there. It helped keep our minds off our pain.
Others joined in. I swear the nurses loved handling our ward (well, all except for one, but I'll deal with her in another post) and joined in the fun (and the decidedly risqué jokes and comments!) Our lovely little cleaner - didn't get her name, but I think she was Polish and looked very young for someone 10 years married with two children - joined in the banter with delight - and later on thanked us all for being so nice, as she's usually ignored when she's doing her job (I hate humans sometimes). She kept dropping in for a few minutes throughout the day for another dose of fun...
Then there was Eva. Eva is tiny, and she sparkles. I thought she was a student when she first came in (there were a lot of students, working during the lockdown to make their qualifications), but then she started handling the meds, so I knew I was wrong. She was a delight, kind and funny. Turned out we share the same birthdate! (Our greeting after that was 'Happy Birthday!') I remember mentioning this to another nurse who was nearby when Eva was administering iv antibios, adding, "But we're several decades apart, of course."
She went quiet, then said, "Not so much."
I looked at her, and she said quietly, "I'm 44."
I swear my metaphorical jaw hit the metaphysical floor. "WHAT???"
She nodded. I said - "No way, I'd say you're 28 at the absolute maximum." Which is true, by the way. She looks that young.
She grinned and said. "It must be the mask."
"Can you move it a mo?"
She did, and she is absolutely beautiful. And looks no older than 28 at the most. I shook my head.
"Whatever it is, you should bottle it and sell it on the open market. You'd make an absolute fortune, Young Eva."
I swear she floated out of the ward to continue to the next one - after giving me a virtual hug and saying I'd made her week!
Then there were the cute young male nurses. Haseem, who looked like an Indian prince and was delightfully easy to (very gently) tease, and Muhammed, the only person to immediately, efficiently and painlessly find a vein for my daily bloods.
And too many truly awesome nurses to remember, with such pretty names - Mia and Maria and Leila and Crystal and Kira and Benedicta - and every accent under the sun. Goddesses, every one of them.
So what should have been a nightmare experience turned out to be almost a holiday, and AB and 'Jean', especially, simply wonderful people.
We will most likely never meet again, but you will always have a special place in my heart, and I wish you all the joy in the world.
Monday, May 11, 2020
Oh boy. What a wonderful weekend. Not.
Friday evening we watched a Dr Who ep, and then A Field In England (don't bother. We tried very hard to understand it, and enjoy it, and find anything of merit it in, but alas, it is but pretentious twaddle, an incomprehensible triumph of style without substance, and ultimately pointless. Julian Barrett was in for about 30 seconds at the very beginning before he was killed, so even that pleasure was denied me). Midnight came, and I was thinking should maybe check a couple of thing, when completely out of the blue, and in a matter of seconds, I suddenly felt dizzy and light-headed, then nauseous. Managed to close down and stumble upstairs, got into bed shivering, and an hour later took my temperature. 40.3° (104.54 in American money). K&K tried to ring 111, they were absolutely snowed under and advised to ring 999. Twenty minutes later ambulance pulled up outside: temperature confirmed, heart rate and BP high (but not dangerously so), but most importantly lungs and chest completely clear of any congestion. So not COVID-19. Advised to 'sleep' (hah!) with windows open to help lower temperature, and to try to keep down crushed and mixed with water paracetamol, and keep an eye on temperature. Nothing else to be done, it was a flu virus of some sort, hopefully short lived as came on so quickly, but to contact them again if it got worse.
Spent next 13 hours throwing up and in horrible pain (as well as whatever this was something bit the back of my right leg overnight and I got the usual allergic reaction - pain, bright red tight skin, and bruised looking veins.) Saturday evening the nausea eased off, and I was able to take solid pills again, but Sunday was also miserably spent in bed. However, temp on Saturday was 39°, then 38.1 on Sunday, so heading in the right direction.
Not so bad today, able to get out of bed and sit here for a little while. Definitely improving, but I would only wish this whatever this is on trump and BND. Slight silver lining is I lost over half a stone, but I wouldn't advise it as a slimming aid!
There was a fox and a cub in the garden earlier. Very cute but upset Tyjer horribly.
Heading back to bed for an hour. Catch you later.
Friday, May 08, 2020
Finally, an update!
Why am I busier now than before the lockdown? Where does the time go? (Rhetorical questions, by the way, no need to reply!)
So what have we been up to? A lot of film and series watching - see below. A lot of gardening: I found a site that sells heritage tomato seeds - Tomato Eden in Poland - and ordered some packets of the most interesting looking ones! All but one have sprouted in the greenhouse (will replace the odd one as have seeds left) and will get photos when they start fruiting. Also have climbing courgettes and mini munch cucumbers on the go in the greenhouse, runner beans, sugar snap peas, two lots of dwarf beans and our asparagus in the raised beds. Pear and apple trees are full of fruit buds (will have to pull off a whole lot to ensure the rest develop properly, a nuisance but essential), the blueberry and raspberry bushes are doing well, and I've bought some potato growbags to try. The potatoes are coming along well in one - going to try planting some heritage carrots in the other.
The front garden is looking pretty good too. My irises go from strength to strength
The bench is now down on the patio, much to Tyjer's approval...
My indoor plants are doing their usual slightly odd thing too.
On the health front, Kai is now registered as 'extremely vulnerable' on the government's list, and we're all shielding. So, not much different than before then. Main thing is it gives Ken ammunition to continue working at home if the BCC want their homeworkers to return to the office. Which is probably not going to happen until the danger is completely over - roll on the vaccines - but it's another source of stress relieved. His BP is a little high at the moment, but not enough to worry about. Must remember to check mine later.
Which is the complete opposite of Inside No. 9 (how strange! I copied that link from the IMDb twice and neither time did it link properly. Though that, to be honest, is really quite apposite for the series! Try this one instead? Ah, no, that doesn't work either. Just type in the title into IMDb if you're interested), which is just superb. Some eps are better than others, of course, and the 5th season was decidedly grim, but they are never less than thought-provoking, and season 4 is wonderful!
In a fit of nostalgia I ordered The Assassination Bureau, which we all thoroughly enjoyed, although it reminded me quite strongly of The Tourist. Heh. Maybe I'm getting so old I've seen it all before!
Kai and I are working our way through Silent Witness, which is variable but in general superior TV. As a family we're now working through the Peter Capaldi Doctor Who season 9, which we bought because it contains what I consider the best and most chilling DW ep ever, Heaven Sent. Well deserving of its 9.6 rating. (I just adore Capaldi's Doctor.)
Last time we went out for a walk someone had put a bag of DVDs on their wall for passers-by to take if they wanted (a fairly new innovation that a lot of people, including me, have found very useful). I took Vampires Suck, purely to see what it was like (I absolutely loathed the Twilight series, which I had to read/see (the first film) when I was writing Vampires). Opened the case when we got home to find it empty, so ended up buying it second hand online (the postage cost more than the disc!) I knew it's rated very poorly and people hate it - but actually, I found it OK. Very funny in a couple of places, and the acting was pretty good! Not going to recommend it, but if you know the Twilight series, it pokes fun remorselessly.
On the strength of that, I've also picked up Meet the Spartans, despite its 2.8 rating. Yes, OK, that the synopsis mentions Autobots also helped... Aiming to watch that soon. Not expecting much, but might be surprised. Fingers crossed.
That's about it for now. We recently invested in a 4 terrabyte external hard drive to archive EVERYTHING on all our computers and put in the strongbox with the wills etc, and Ken and I picked up a little 2 terrabyte external drives for additional backup. We're now in the incredibly long, laborious process of scanning/photographing all our very early work (my notebooks etc are in a pile beside my desk which is almost as high as the desk itself. Wat fun...), all the stuff on our pc hard drives, everything on teh old external, Nigel, and I'm aiming to transfer all the old photos currently on spindles of discs inside the strongbox. Probably going to take the three of us the rest of the year...
Stay safe, everyone!
Friday, April 10, 2020
Warning. We've had a harvestman (we call them airspiders) sitting at the top of the wall in the lounge - completely unmoving - for a week or two. Kai took a closer look yesterday and we found out why - it's holding an eggsac in its pedipalps! At some point we're going to have a horde of teeny harvestmen rampaging through the house. Kai took a photo - you can actually see the eggs! - and I've posted it at the bottom of this update. Please note - harvestmen are not spiders!
And in other news...
So of course, after having to buy a new fridge, we find on Thursday we had a leaking pipe over the kitchen window...
Luckily, Tom, our plumber, is still working, although wearing a mask and keeping his distance from customers, and came to see what he could do Friday am. Bless him! The leak upstairs - where the cold water pipe goes into the cistern - had soaked the floorboards without us realising, so the lino is raised in the corner to allow them to dry out and Tom replaced the leaking section of pipe. Downstairs, he had to remove the panel that runs from wall to wall along the back wall and replace the pipes there, which will mean a trip to B&Q when it's safe to buy a replacement wooden one. Still, winter's behind us, so it won't be too cold, and it'll match the replacement vertical panel we had to fit when he replaced the vertical pipes last year...
The garden is doing its usual spring thing...
Plum tree. Fingers crossed for a good harvest. I love plums!
Tried the new BP meds for two weeks, but the side effects didn't stop, so I contacted the surgery who advised me to stop taking them. Feeling better now.
I miss swimming. Kim and I had worked up to 24 lengths. And will have to postpone Bath Spa treatment til... no idea when...
Forgot to mention - Ken gave me Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars for Yule. It's brilliant! Very funny and very clever - with an oddly poignant ending. He gave me a gorgeous hand painted Japanese postcard for my birthday, and I've finally put it in its frame and hung it up in the bedroom: -
The other pic - fireflies over a lake - is at last on the wall in this room:-
(Yes, my clock is backwards. The words are 'seilf emit'.)
Media... I watched Noughts and Crosses. Found it very interesting, but anticlimactic. Ken and I are working our way through Jason King, with Kai joining us for the odd ep. It's absolutely bonkers but an awful lot of fun. We rewatched Now You See Me in order to remind ourselves of the story before watching Now You See Me 2. It's fun, but not quite as good as the first film.
This was amusing... How generous! Promise I won't spend it all at once!
I missed it last week (I was in the shower) but this week Kai clapped from his window and I went out to the front porch to add my hands. Looks like it's going to be a weekly thing so shall make sure to keep 8 pm Thursday free for a while.
Things are trundling along here. And the air is so clean at the moment, all my coughing and snuffling has cleared up now there's so much less air pollution. If only we can keep it going once the lockdown is over...
Sign of the times... Just around the corner from us (well, half a mile away really...)
Stay safe and well, everyone.
And finally, the harvestman...
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Oh, abso-fragging-lutely typical.
Everything was going well, I had three weeks' worth of food in the freezer and pantry, came down to make brunch on Sunday to find the bloody fridge had packed up. It's not even five years old yet!
[growl] So ten minutes online with Curry's and I'd ordered a new one - Bosch, my favourite make - and paid the extra to have it delivered on Monday. We managed to make the old one limp along by leaving the superfast frost setting on, which, with not opening the freezer compartment, kept everything just cold enough I didn't have to ditch any food. New one arrived about 2.15 p.m. and by 7 I'd transferred everything over. We now have a large fridge freezer sitting in the garden with no way to get rid of it until the crisis is over and recycling centres and BCC collections are up and running again.
But the new fridge is great! Quite a bit bigger than the old one and so quiet. I keep thinking it's not working - the old one was forever creaking and groaning, this one just purrs. Delivery guys - who wouldn't carry it into the house, so Kai and I had to manouevre it in ourselves, and what fun that was - said it should be good for at least 15 years (pretty much what I'd expect from Bosch) so fingers crossed.
Apart from that, we've been fine. Now self-isolating, which is working out OK. I managed to grab a Sains delivery for tomorrow, which hopefully will set us up for the next couple of weeks, though we may have to switch to powdered milk for K&K's cereal. (Not keen on milk myself. Mild intolerance, I suspect. Never drink the stuff.) And I managed to get a phone consult for Tyjer - he's running out of Metacam for his hip joints - and Pets@Home are happy, on this occasion, to accept the prescription request over the phone. K&K will walk up there to collect it when Ken signs off work later.
We have, naturally, been watching a lot of films and series. We're onto the last two eps of the last season of Lucky Man, which we will hopefully finish tonight, and will probably watch Jason King next - before we start the major project that is Deep Space 9 complete.
Media... The Reluctant Fundamentalist which was disturbingly good. We finally sat down for Oklahoma!, which I bought years ago (primarily because of Hugh Jackman) and hadn't found the time to watch to date. Kai wasn't sure: I suggested he watch the first few minutes and then go up if he wasn't drawn in. Ended up staying for the whole film and we all thoroughly enjoyed it!
In the evening it was
Mindhorn. I found this quite by accident when looking up something else on the IMDb, thought it sounded good - and I like Julian Barratt - so ordered it from amazon. And it's great! Very funny, and a fantastic cast. And the end credits song - You Can't Handcuff the Wind - is terrific, so I bought it. It's now on my phone playlist.
On Sat last Ken and I watched West Side Story, really because it's considered a classic, we knew a lot of the music, and had never watched it. Can't say I enjoyed it.
Wendy included two DVDs with my returned Good Omens (glad you enjoyed it!) - The Prestige, which I think we rented donkey's ago and really enjoyed, and The Tourist, which Ken and I watched yesterday and loved! Many thanks!
Have to finish putting all the magnets on the new fridge, hoover, then get dinner organised. Hoping to update soon with pix of the garden, as everything is coming into flower and looking beautiful. But before I go, this is the sign on Kai's door, from GoodTwin for his birthday! Very apt. I don't dare go in there...
Friday, March 20, 2020
COVID-19. Interesting times, ne?
We've been advised, by Kai's BMT trials nurse Peter, that as his immune system is still compromised, we should be very careful not to take any unnecessary risks. So Ken is now working from home (with BCC-supplied laptop and phone), and we've had to postpone Wendy's visit. I've shopped at both Sainsbury's (because I can't get a delivery slot for the next three weeks) and Tesco (which did still have delivery slots so I've booked them for the next four weeks - not next week as there were none left - which of course does not guarantee I'll get everything I've ordered!) and I've never seen anything like it. Aisles of loo roll, tissues and kitchen towels completely empty. Ditto nappies, soap, fresh packaged meat, bread, milk (almost), tinned fish, beans and veg, pasta, rice - and tea (how very British!!) We're actually quite well placed, as I always keep at least two weeks worth of groceries in larder and freezer, so we can manage until the rush of panic stockpiling has died down a little. I hope, anyway.
K&K have started going out for a walk when Ken signs off work for the day, for a change of air and some exercise. There are far fewer people around than previously, so it's fairly safe.
Apart from the lurgy, it's been quite a nice few weeks. Last Saturday Ken and I bussed to Midsomer Norton via Bath, where we stopped for half an hour for me to check out the Bath Thermae Spa and ask a few questions about my proposed visit (which I'll now have to postpone until the autumn, but that's OK). Almost as soon as we got out of the bus station I heard this amazing music... it sounded a bit like a harp, and a bit like a guitar, and a bit like a cello... The route to the Spa took us up the pedestrian shopping area, and we found the source - this guy -
He's Amadou Diagne, and the instrument he's playing is a kora: Wiki says "It doesn't fit into any one category of musical instrument, but rather several, and must be classified as a "double-bridge-harp-lute".", so my initial thinking was more or less correct. He was selling Journey CDs, so I bought one. The music is absolutely beautiful...
Now decided I need to explore other countries' music.
(This track is on the album.)
Back on the bus and off to Midsomer Norton. Nice ride through B&NES rolling countryside and down the hill to the centre of town.
I have a particular fondness for Midsomer Norton. Even on a dull day it's pretty...
There are a lot of charity shops, as well as indie shops, like Out of Asia, a gorgeous little gift shop where I spotted this adorable - metal! - little unicorn ring holder with diamond eyes...
We also picked up a set of five Transformers Prime illustrated kids books, which look quite daftly funny, and this for £2.50!! Haven't read it yet but it looks fun. The same charity shop - Sue Ryder I think - also had this little cutie:
All in all it was a great day!
Media... Ken and I watched TC 2000 last week (Kai was busy with friends online so didn't join us). It was dire. Its main feature was a fight every 1.5 to 3 mins all the way through. Dreadful film. -2 out of 10, would not recommend. So we then lightened the mood and had a Three Musketeers Sunday matinée: The Three Musketeers after lunch and The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge after dinner. I'd forgotten how funny they are! Kai chuckled all the way through and we all thoroughly enjoyed them.
I picked up Limitless at a charity shop a while back. Can't remember if we'd already seen it: I think we did, a long time ago, but didn't remember any of it and really enjoyed it. We've now all started watching Stan Lee's Lucky Man season 3. It'll be interesting to see how it pans out.
We will most likely be watching a lot more films/TV over the next few weeks/months. We still have quite a backlog of films, Jason King, and I'm now collecting Deep Space 9 boxed sets (found season 6 in St Pete's Hospice shop): it was always my favourite ST series.
TransTech Starscream has arrived!
And he's gorgeous!
He now joins Carscream, Steelscream, ShatteredGlassscream, and Dinobot on the faves shelf!
Thursday, March 12, 2020
So where were we?
GoodTwin and Sue's visit was great fun. I opened my birthday presents early - now have Jason King to enjoy! Also some of the most divine chocolates I've ever tasted...
The maple-and-miso aubergine recipe worked well (the paste itself is delicious and would go easily with chicken or pork too, so that was a very useful discovery) although next time I'll skip the cucumber salad.
On my actual birthday I took myself over to Keynsham for a spell of shopping, which was quite successful - and it was a gloriously sunny day too, for once. All nicely relaxing.
On the Thursday Kai helped me put Optimus Starscream together - ye gods it's a big figure!
Then assembled Furai Starscream for me... Not joking, the pieces were too small for my fingers. And there were hundreds of them...
I did manage to put in his eyes (a minute red plastic C shape that fits behind his faceplate and that I dropped and nearly lost three times) but Kai did the rest. Including the tiny tiny piece of silver foil that fitted behind his eyes so they reflect light. (My main job was finding each piece and snipping them from the plastic thingies they were in as he called for them.) But the end result...
... is rather gorgeous. See those tiny tiny black triangles on his chest and knees? Tiny stickers! I could barely see them, let alone handle them! Kai had to use cocktail sticks to manipulate them, and even they were a bit big! This is a figure for a dedicated modeller, I think.
(Rather amusingly, the inside of his knees make the pilots' seats!)
This is the new display case, by the way. Still not entirely sure I have enough space for them all!
Kim and I went out to Almondsbury last Wed. Picked up a stake and wrap for the pittasporus, which has suffered badly with the storms and was leaning over at an obvious angle. Between myself and K&K, we got the stake in (3.5 foot underground and at a slight opposing angle) and the tree is now looking a lot more stable. I can always get a second, longer stake if we have any further storms.
Also picked up three beautifully bright and contrasting heucheras and a lovely copper coloured pot for them, for mum-in-law's birthday: the tiny bit of patio to the side of her front door gets no sun at all, and heucheras will thrive there. However, now that we have COVID-19 in Bristol (and given that Ken has to get a crowded - standing room only usually - bus to and from work every day) we're delaying our proposed trip down to Babbacombe. We'd never forgive ourselves if we took the blasted thing down there. She is 94, after all, and even tough as old boots as she is, there's still a significant risk.
K&K went out to Stockwood open space on the Saturday - and spotted a small stag!
I do like synchronicity. Wednesday I was meeting Ken for lunch, so decided to get into town a bit earlier than necessary to pick up some back-up chocolates for mum-in-law for her birthday from Hotel Chocolat in Cabot Circus - we'll take down the plants when it's safe - and as I was heading over to Broadmead I met a man with a hawk.
Yes, a hawk. A Harris hawk, to be exact. The handler wore a hi-vis vest and carried official badges and stuff, and said he was taking it up to the roof (I assume to frighten off pigeons/seagulls, as they do occasionally in Bristol) Couple of minutes earlier or later I'd have missed them...
It was a good day, all told. Lunch was nice - I tried the soup, courgette and pepper, for a change as they didn't have my favourite ham and Emmenthal paninis - and my favourite Oriental supermarket (Wah Yan Hong) had everything I needed except the cooking sake. I came home via Sains too, and picked up the three packs of chicken thighs they didn't bring with the delivery.
Media... we finished watching Department S, which actually picked up considerably in the second season, once they stopped taking themselves so seriously. In the end it was really rather enjoyable!
We finished watching Falling Skies last night. Very satisfying ending! On the whole an interesting and thought-provoking series.
On the film side... Finally watched The Revenant. Hm. Slow, very very bloody, not exactly enjoyable, but from my recent reading (and yes, Indigenous People's History was as depressing as expected and left me loathing the human species - again...) pretty accurate in its depiction of life at the time. Then we moved on to The Three Musketeers as a bit of light relief! I now have two versions of the story, this and the Keifer Sutherland 2011 film, so ordered (and now received) the first version I saw, 1973, with Oliver Reed and Michael York, which is in two parts - The Three Musketeers, and The Four Musketeers: Milady's Revenge. Also seen - Alita: Battle Angel, which is fantastic. I really really hope there's a sequel.
Next on the list to watch is the aforementioned Jason King, and Lucky Man season 3. Kai and I have been watching the first two and Ken will join us to watch the last ep of the second season, then we'll all watch the third.
And so to today, that I've had to spend in the house awaiting dr's phone call. Was supposed to be over lunchtime, ended up at 5.30. Bloody nuisance as I could have gone to Wells with Kai and had a bit of sunshine and fresh air... Anyway, BP is too high so she's now prescribing a third BP med, bugger it. This one opens up the veins. The other two protect kidneys and liver, I found out today.
Had a first attempt at making vegan soft cheese. It worked quite well - certainly was nice in my smoked salmon and soft cheese bagel today.
This is the current state of the fence section BND falsely accused us of breaking. It's been like this for several weeks now, getting worse as the winds keep up. Looks like he's not going to ask his minion of the month to pull it back over his side. We shouldn't touch it (he said in writing it's his fence and he'd take legal action if we did, the stupid old fart. Talk about cutting one's own throat!) but I may have to if it gets any worse. At the moment it's perilously close to damaging my very expensive robinia.
And finally, this made me chuckle. According to the 'Can we guess your age' Fb quiz - I am 11 years old. Heh. They're only 50 years out!
Sunday, February 23, 2020
That was the weirdest start to a new year that I can remember experiencing.
Almost as if She was trying to help me cheer up.
First, I had a visit from a carer's rep (I'd forgotten about it over Yule) for a carers' assessment. You might remember a couple of years ago I was given a one-off payment to get something that had to be a treat for myself, and I bought my bike (and helmet). I thought that was, literally, a one-off payment.
I was wrong. If eligible, a carer can have the same one-off payment every year that they're a carer.
So we went through the list of questions, with me answering honestly, and even though Kai is now a lot more independent, I'm still doing enough for him for me to qualify.
So BCC have given me £300 for things to treat myself!
I've already bought three very nice eye masks - one for travel, one for a complete blackout, and one full of lavender buds and flax seeds that can be heated or cooled for tired eyes. I've booked a callus peel and pedicure (and eyelash tint while I'm at it) for 5th of March at Premier Beauty, just around the corner in Sandy Park Rd, and then I shall be organising a thermae trilogy treat at Bath Spa. That'll be one to cross off my bucket list. Actually, that's an ugly way of phrasing it. One to cross off my life ambitions list... Haven't decided what to do with the rest yet, but no doubt something will come to mind!
And THEN I find out from Chelsey that The Wisdom Of Unicorns had won Soul and Spirit magazine's Best Mythological Creatures Book award. (Would have been nice if they'd thought to let me know at the time!) No prize or anything like that, but the kudos are good!
And THEN Kamil got back in touch with me about the Transtech Starscream I tried to commission a year ago. She'd changed emails - and had a baby - and only found my addie when looking through old files. She accepted the commission and has sent me photos of how it's coming along (fantastically!) and I'm hoping he'll be finished soon after my birthday.
And I won a book. The Soil Association had a raffle: all I had to do was enter my addresses. Rebel Recipes, a feast of vegan recipes. Heh. The only other raffle prize I've ever won was a bottle of Hai Karate aftershave back when I was working a Saturday job at Boots the Chemist! I've tried one of the recipes already - this one - which was a qualified success (i.e. a bit bland, if filling and more or less tasty. Considering how to make it a little spicier) - and planning to try miso and maple-glazed aubergines with sticky coconut rice next - possibly Tues or Thurs this week. It's a nice book, although some of the recipes involve 20 or more vegan ingredients...
For instance... there's a recipe for vegan kimcheese on toast which sounds tasty - but the kimchi itself has 13 ingredients...
And my copy of the second edition of The Book of Celtic Symbols arrived. It's gorgeous...
Our local sparrowhawk perched on the fence just outside the patio doors - wasn't there for long enough for me to get a photo, but it was still fantastic to see him.
There are snowdrops blooming along the path to Tesco.
K&K went up to the St Pete's Hospice furniture charity shop down in Brislington Village, and rang me to say there was a display cabinet there for £35 (+ £15 delivery) and silver rather than black - would I like it? Of course I would: I don't have room in the current two for all the figures I already have! When it arrived it was the same make (which cost me £200 each with delivery), just three inches wider - and the glass doors scraped along the base, which I think may have been why it ended up in a charity shop. Luckily the original owner didn't know that you only have to adjust the hinges to make it open properly, which took Kai two minutes...
Of course we've had to move stuff around, and the reorg's still not finished, but it's a very nice problem to have (if a little tiring, carrying piles of books upstairs)!
I found the perfect umbrella stand, and spice rack, on amazon - exactly what I'd been looking for. And at the YMCA charity shop at Broadwalk I saw the most gloriously coloured picture (real paint: an art student's final project I think, a sunset woodland lake with the air filled with dragonflies): only £6. I nearly bought it, but it's very slightly squint - I think, I might be wrong - so left it. Then kept thinking about it. Went back a week later - after all, I can always take it off the wooden frame and make a slightly smaller one to correct the squint if needed - and not only was it still there, it was half price at £3.
Of course I bought it... Photo when I've got it on the wall.
We watched Utopia Seasons 1 & 2... Hm. A difficult one. I couldn't bring myself to like ANY of the characters, and the basic premise is distinctly dodgy, but... it had something. I had to agree with a lot of the content. It's compulsive viewing after the first couple of eps. But not at all a pleasant experience.
(I had much the same response to the recent BBC's version of His Dark Materials, but in that case I didn't enjoy the books in the first place and watched because I hoped I'd enjoy the live action version. I didn't. Will probably still watch the second part, but I'm not looking forward to it.)
We're currently working our way through Falling Skies (just started season 3) which is not at all bad. Very watchable, interesting exploration of characters.
Kai and I have watched the whole of Blood Ties, which is very good, and have now started re-watching Stan Lee's Lucky Man. We've already seen seasons 1 and 2, but I bought season 3 at the end of last year: we decided a reminder might be a good idea before watching that one.
Had blood taken and saw the dr for my annual checkup over the last two weeks. Most everything is fine, but my BP is too high - again - so I have to take it over the next couple of weeks and let her know the five or six lowest readings when she rings for a phone consult. I mentioned the persistent low, and she suggested taking St John's Wort, so I added a pack to my last Tesco delivery and have been taking it since last Thurs (had to check with the pharmacy that it was OK to take with amitriptyline and omeprazole, as the booklet included advised. Seems to be OK so far...)
That's about it for now. GoodTwin and Sue are coming for a visit tomorrow, which should be as much fun as usual.
Will try to update sooner next time.