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.
Saturday, December 31, 2016
I usually like to go out on a positive note, but in general this year has been fucking awful.
Not for us personally - it's been mostly good. The 25 year debt of the mortgage was cleared and the property is now ours. Kai is two years and three months post transplant, and physically all is going very well (although he's now on citalopram and having counselling, but I think we're coping). Ken has finished his 12 week course of Sofosbuvir, the latest and most effective course of treatment for Hep C, and although we won't know for sure until his next blood test (in about a month), so far everything is looking very good. Fingers crossed.
But the rest... The disaster that is Brexit. The appalling situation in the States, and in the Middle East. The deaths of so many supremely talented and much loved people... Of my personal favourites, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, Anton Yelchin, Victoria Wood, Richard Adams, Jerry Doyle...
And can't forget Prince, Gene Wilder, Robert Vaughn, Leonard Cohen, Debbie Reynolds, Muhammad Ali, Caroline Aherne, George Kennedy, Frank Finlay, Zsa Zsa Gabor...
And dad T, of course.
And all the rest.
And in their place we're left with Toadface Farage, and that hideous, unholy offspring of a pig and a mudskipper over the pond, and the poisonous excrescence that drags on its miserable, pointless existence as a putrescent carbuncle on the arse of our neighbourhood.
Life - and death - can be very unfair.
Oh, and adding insult to injury, I've developed an allergy to platinum. I can't wear my wedding ring any more without the skin under it going red and blistering, itching like hell and painful at the same time - it's called wedding ring dermatitis and it's a bloody nuisance. It's uncommon with platinum - more often caused by nickel - but once you have it, it never goes away. Needless to say I am not happy.
So, while I'm glad to see the back of 2016, I find myself unable to summon up any optimism for 2017. Just please, please, please let it not be as bad as this year has been.
Friday, December 30, 2016
Where were we? Ah, yes...
Food porn for Lutra.
Boxing Day Buffet. Went down so well I'm doing something very similar for New Year's Brunch too!
The afternoon was sunny: Ken took advantage of the weather to adjust my bike seat (Kai and I weren't strong enough to turn the bolts: even Ken struggled!) and get the root barrier in the ground up on the slope, then the next day we planted the photinia (finally! Much happier now...) I planted low-growing thyme around the plum tree in an attempt to keep the long grass from getting too close (and save me a job keeping it under control). Will need to pick up some more - or split my oregano plants and move them - but in principle it's a good plan.
Wed 28th Ken was back to work and since the weather was glorious, Kai and I went to Wells for the afternoon...
Lovely day, and we bussed back in the sunset.
Films. We've now watched most of the new DVDs: Mulan, probably my favourite Disney ever, Bambi, which Kai had never seen, Princess Mononoke, which is absolutely extraordinary, and Spy. Before we watched this I took a look at the reviews/comments on the IMDb, and found something quite interesting. Most of the US watchers hated it, gave it a 1 or 2. Most of the UK and European watchers loved it and gave it 6 and above. Given that, we went into it with open minds...
And loved it! It's gloriously funny, witty, surprisingly subtle in places, and a damn good watch. The only annoying bit were the dick pics - can't work out why they were included, unless for shock value, as as far as I could see they added nothing to the plot. But regarding the reviews/comments - I would tentatively conclude that the humour was a bit too restrained for American tastes, and/or most of the reviewers were males whose whiny, fragile egos couldn't cope with a strong, skilled, superbly competent, FAT woman. In other words, a perfectly normal woman doing what perfectly normal women do (well, OK, we're not all spies, but the vast majority of us are strong, skilled multi-taskers. And a lot of us are plus-sized too...) I assume these were the same whiners who hated the new Ghostbusters, and for exactly the same reasons. Personally, I'm delighted to see women being represented more accurately in films!
And Jason Statham was hysterical in it.
Yesterday was a relaxed day - cleared up some emails, and it was sunny again, Kai helped me with the Tesco shop. Today I make a start on a general cleanup, so we can start 2017 with a clean house. Not my favourite of jobs but very satisfying when done.
Welcome back Lutra! Glad the laptop is now fixed and you're online again.
Monday, December 26, 2016
Thanks GoodTwin! Love it!
It's been a strange 25th. Woke at 8.20, made coffee for Ken - then the phone went. Mum T, with the sad news that dad T had died in the night. Arfs and Chris were on their way over, so at least she had family with her today. As you know, it was expected, and we said our goodbyes when we went down there, but not at all a nice way to start xmas for mum...
The rest of the day went well. Brunch was crepes with smoked salmon, asparagus and scrambled egg for Ken and I (Kai had crepes with golden syrup), then we opened presents... Oh my, what a wonderful haul! In DVDs - The Draughtsman's Contract and an amazing looking LotR Trivial Pursuit quiz from GoodTwin, and Vampire Princess Miyu (the first one), Blood, the Last Vampire (live action version), and Space Battleship Yamato (again, live action - really looking forward to watching that one!) from Sue - and from Wendy, with a note that said "This was sooo silly we just had to let you share!", Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. Which we watched this evening. Uh... yerrs. Thanks for that. I think. It ranks with Plan 9 for cinematic brilliance and comprehensible plot. The best things about it were child Pia Zadora as a Martian youngster, and the wonderful line, "... with the power of twelve megatrons..." Very very silly indeed...
Over the last two days K&K have moved the green apple and the plum trees to their final growing spots. There's space now to put in root barrier and get the photinia into place, move the dogwood, and transplant the native privet up in Kai's meadow. But not all at once. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks. It's a great start though, and meant they both got a little bit of exercise in today's sunny spells.
I made roast duck for dinner. Gressingham now sell their ducks in a roasting bag, which I tried, and ye gods it makes everything so much easier! Tender succulent meat instead of dry and overcooked, which I normally manage to do, crisp golden skin with just one basting... Served with creamed mash, honey-glazed whole tiny carrots and peas, Brussel's sprouts with chestnuts, warmed plum and hoisin sauce (which Kai really liked!), fine beans, pigs in a blanket, and a couple of very tasty (bought) individual stuffings - small balls, and stars of outdoor bred pork, cranberry, and apple, which were delicious. And we had Prosecco to drink. (Sorry, bit of food porn for Lutra there!) Kai had chosen a very nice Iceland Yule log for dessert: he pointed out he'd never had one. Ken and I put Bailey's double cream with ours. Tasty!
Tired now, it's been a long but really nice day (despite the news). Although I was less than delighted to find out Matt Lucas is apparently going to be the next Dr Who (co-)companion. I'm not at all fond of him.
I'm all organised for tomorrow as well, making the usual brunch buffet but with tastier, more unusual and better quality items than in the past. Will try to take photos for you, Lutra! Dinner will be mixed cold meats and salad - and I picked up some chocolate mousse stars while at Iceland. Should be good!
Friday, December 23, 2016
Did Tesco and Sains small shops, just to pick up the last few bits. K&K went to Whitchurch again, and found the grave they were looking for. Then after dinner we watched Suicide Squad, which was... disappointing. Not bad, exactly, just... not that good.
Photos of commissions. Haven't had time to get them into the frame yet: will try to do that tomorrow.
They look much better in real life!
And then it all got busy again...
Monday night we watched TMNT2, which is daft and silly and makes very little sense (Bay had a hand in it. 'Nuff said). It was fun though, and the characters appealing. Very much 'park brain at door' fare, but enjoyable.
Tuesday I'd planned to get into town with Kai for shopping, but he was too tired so went in alone: Wild Oats, Better Food, Vinegar Hill (gorgeous cards), Fopp: had Studio Ghibli DVDs at £13 each or two for £20, so picked up Princess Mononoke, which Kai has been asking for, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which I've wanted to see for ages, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which is a classic we've never seen and not to be left behind at only £3 - and Zoolander 2. Which absolutely does NOT deserve its low rating. It spoofs itself remorselessly, takes the piss, has homages to all sorts of other films all the way through, is very strange and very funny. We watched it that night. I loved it, K&K enjoyed it, and I now want to watch both films back to back.
Yesterday was our anniversary, of course - 27th! We had a mellow morning, then Kai had a drs appt in the afternoon, so I took advantage of being at Broadwalk to finally get my Musa commissions printed (going to try to trim and frame them tomorrow, there will be photos!) and pick up bird food. We ordered an extremely nice curry out and watched Warcraft: The Beginning, which - once you get past the visual similarities to LotR - is an absolutely crackin' film! Wonderful, complex characters, most intriguing story, and very nice CG fx. Can't wait for the sequel!
The 27th anniversary isn't one of the regular ones, but the modern take is 'sculpture'. I found Ken a heavy chunk of umpteen million year old fossilised seabed that had been carved into a letter holder: Ken gave me this...
It's a jade chop - a Chinese seal which is stamped on letters etc as a signature. One of his workmates went back to Singapore in the summer, and he asked her if it could be made for me. It's absolutely beautiful: the top is a double headed dragon, the images on the sides are (I'm told) the mushrooms of immortality, and the character is 'yuan' "which means the source of energy. Traditionally it indicates a source like a spring (the three lines on the left are water), but nowadays it means the source of electrical energy too. It also has connotations of wealth". So, Joules (= units of energy)! (It's also comprised of 13 strokes, which is my lucky number.) I love it, and will be using it when I can. Pity you can't stamp emails!
Today was two lots of shopping, and taking Kai to The Zone (our hairdresser in Sandy Park Rd) to get his ears pierced. He's wanted it done for a while, but Prof Marks said to wait two years post transplant. He's now at 2 years 3 months, and since he's terrible at giving me wish lists - gets it from his dad, Ken is the same - I said we'd pay for it as a Yule present, which he was very happy with. He's gone for tiny 'emerald' studs, which are subtle and discreet and look great! In six weeks he can exchange them for others - so we now have the fun of finding out what suits him/what he prefers. And presents for the next couple of years are sorted, at least!
He's also shaved off his beard and moustache, partly because he has a touch of dermatitis on his lower face and wants to see if he can clear it with the cream he's been given, and partly for a change. He looks great - it really suits him and makes him look younger. I expect we'll see the beard again, but now he's happy with both looks so he can vary it.
Tonight we watched Space Cowbioys, another film Kai fancied. Most enjoyable!
Ken's brother Arfs rang during it: their dad has been taken ill (more ill than he was before, that is) and Arfs wanted to know if Ken wanted to be kept advised (which of course he does). I'm grateful Arfs and Chris are so close to Babbacombe: at least they can be there, even if we can't. We don't think it will be long, now.
Monday, December 19, 2016
... WOW... a whole day with no appts, and no need to go shopping. Quick, get blog updated!!
So, following on from the last update... After lunch, Kai and I went back into town for his appt: I did a little shopping. The Yule market is taking up most of Broadmead: will take Kai there when we're next in for a good look round.
The rest of that week and the start of last was mainly shopping, washing, general housekeeping, Yule card (and accompanying letter) writing and posting, and trying to get organised so I can have some time off!
Last week Kai was suffering with another bug - a bit nasty this one, swollen glands and very sore throat - so since most of his classes had finished I had him stay here and work from home. (Got his last project in early this morning, so now he can relax until the New Year. He has one exam, on the 10th of Jan, I think.) He was well enough to go to the carol service on Thursday, however.
It was lovely! We had a very funny MC to introduce all the musician and choirs, and the speakers - a doctor, a senior staff nurse, the Chief Executive of the charity, and three ex-patients, fund raisers all, who'd all benefited from the work of the BHOC, BHI and BRI as a whole (Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre, Bristol Heart Institute, and Bristol Royal Infirmary, for anyone not sure.) We were treated to the Bristol Citadel Brass band, the Cosmos Children's Community Choir, the Above and Beyond Singers, the Welsh Wizard (Byron Jones) Organist, two members of the Bristol Opera - Abigail Rogers and Georgia Katsiroumpa, and the Thornbury Ukeaholics. Our ex-patient speakers were Tom, a 16 yr old who'd been diagnosed with and treated for a brain tumour when he was just 5, Simon, who'd suffered a heart attack at 40, and a Michelle, a grandmother who'd had a liver transplant a few years ago.
The best news was that the charity have reached their £6,000,000 goal. The funds raised have supported the BHOC and BHI, funded the haploidentical allogeneic stem cell transplant trials which saved Kai's life (the only 'silver lining' in the whole experience of the last four years is that what we - he and I - did will now go on to help hundreds of other people), and bought a microwave ablation system for the BRI. And the fund raising continues!
It was a wonderful celebration of life (and made me tearful in a couple of places). We both sang (Kai usually won't) and really enjoyed the whole event. A fantastic introduction to the festive season!
On the 17th GoodTwin and Sue visited, which was, as usual, a wonderfully happy and funny and stress-busting occasion, in which I learned I know soddall about the Carry On films but that I can, sometimes, read GoodTwin's mind.
And we all loved Sue's card! (It's by Newton and the Apple - must give them due credit!)
Thank you both - I had a fabulous day!
Yesterday was stupidly manic. Ken came with me to help with the shopping - of course Sains was full, so it took much longer than usual. Then it occurred to me that I'd need to watch the Strictly Come Dancing finals on replay before we went to the BHOC for Kai's venesection, in case someone talked about it - only to find that the programme was 2 hours 15 mins long and we only had an hour before we had to get the bus! Cue fast-forwarding through most of it and only stopping for the dances... This season has been the most fantastic fun - I somehow doubt anyone who watched will ever be able to get the image of Ed Balls dancing Gangnam Style out of their head. I don't think even brain bleach will work!
And then no-one mentioned it...
But we got in in plenty of time, and since the day unit is usually quiet on a Sunday, Kai was able to get the whole thing over early and speedily, and we came back on the number 2 bus, walking down Talbot Hill and admiring all the sparkly Yule lights. His last ferritin level was down to 2,100 odd, so heading in the right direction!
And that's me now about up to date. There's still a fair bit to do (and buy), we have a couple of appts still this week, but the main rush is over. Ken is taking annual leave Wed through Fri, and Mon and Tues next week are Bank Holidays, so he has a clear week off over Yule. We're planning a quiet holiday -
with lots of DVD watching. Over and above the Yule-related films I've picked up over the years - Santa Claus The Movie, Scrooged, Frozen, Rise of the Guardians, The Polar Express, Jingle All the Way, and of course Love, Actually (which I adore and which is the only chickflick I've ever liked), this year I've picked up a whole slew of new films, including Spy, Suicide Squad and Warcraft: the Beginning. (No, never played the game but the blurb suggest you don't need to know the background for the film to make sense...) Should be fun!
Finally - food porn for Lutra. This is our new Sains bakery (late in the day, alas, when some of the cakes are completely sold out). All extremely tempting!
Tuesday, December 06, 2016
I have an hour or so before Kai arrives back for lunch, should be time for an update...
Rang for my blood test results on Fri - I need to have my levothyroxine dose increased. Oh joy. Have a telephone consultation with my dr booked for this Fri, will find out the details then.
On Sat we got the train down to Babbacombe. Dad T was moved into the hospice (just over the road from their home, two minute amble away) a day ago, so we went to visit with mum T and the two little dogs (Pomeranians, Poppy and her son Misty, absolutely adorable and such a comfort to mum).
He's looking so frail and small. I've always known him as a sturdy, determined man, and to see him like this is awful. His mind is as sharp as ever though, and he told us a little bit of his history that he's never mentioned before. Strictly speaking it comes under the Official Secrets Act, which he signed as an army engineer during the war, so I can't say much (though I am very strongly tempted to turn it into a story - or maybe a book), but it was obviously very important to him that we knew before he goes. I am honoured to be so trusted.
We didn't stay long - he tires very easily - but I believe he enjoyed the visit. And he was very happy to see Kai, and very proud of him (his smile when we told him Kai is studying for his Master of Engineering degree was wonderful). All in all I think we made his day.
Afterwards Ken helped his mum back to the flat, and Kai and I took a (freezing cold and extremely windy) walk along Babbacombe Downs. I'd forgotten my camera (still cursing myself for that) so I'm afraid there are no pics, but the sea was gloriously grey and stormy, with white caps almost out to the horizon.
When we got back, mum let me read dad's will (Ken can't read anything without his glasses these days, so I usually do the reading for us both), so we know what's what and what dad has organised for his own funeral.
On the way back we had a 55 minute wait at Newton Abbot, so found a fast food place where we could eat in at the sole table, and had rather tasty beefburgers. The trains were very quiet (until Taunton, when we got a group of foul mouthed but non-aggressive yobs sitting behind us) and the trip as a whole reasonably pleasant. And it's made us both consider our own plans. We really need to rewrite our wills, and think about whether we want to appoint a solicitor as executor. It would save a lot of hassle. I want the cheapest possible thing (basically, if the medical profession can use anything they're welcome to it: if not, bung me in a cardboard box and stick me in the garden (well, OK, a field or wood or something) and plant a tree over me. Preferably a thorn tree!
Ken says that's one of the more expensive funerals, cremation is cheaper. But that causes pollution, so... I'm exploring options.
In any event, there's to be no service or anything like that. I'd like everyone to have a drink at my expense though, and I want Linking Park's What I've Done played. I love this song. You can all imagine me singing it!
Sunday was catch up day, a whole load of shopping, washing and organising for the week.
Yesterday Ken had a day off, and Andrew from Crystal Clear arrived at 2.30 to measure up the windows. We're opting for the simplest configuration (which is helpfully also the cheapest!) to allow as much light in as possible while still providing security and complying with fire regulations. To my surprise and delight the cost is about half what I was expecting, so we will be going ahead with at least some of the work early next summer. Can't do it before then, both financially and because Kai wants his room redecorated, so I'll use the window replacement to tackle that job. Everything needs to be moved out of the way for the window installers in any event, and I'd rather not have to do it twice!
Kai and I have decided to pool our Yule present money from the folks and buy one of these. I've always wanted a telescope (asked for one for my 18th birthday but was told it was a boy's thing so I couldn't have one. Then Ian got one for his...) and this seems to be a good one. It doesn't come with a motor, but we can pick one up in the future: found an appropriate EQ3 for £70, so we will probably pool our birthday present money too and get one next year.
Then all we need are some cloudless nights!
Right - up to date. Later, all!
Thursday, December 01, 2016
Meteorologically speaking anyway, although it's certainly cold enough. The ice hasn't melted in 48 hours and I believe it's still -2° out there...
Very brief catch up before lunch. Monday I had the latest blood test to check my levothyroxine levels (need to ring surgery for results tomorrow pm). Tuesday was the Carers' Steering Group meeting in town from 11 - 1 (useful, although it does look like everyone has assumed I am going to volunteer as a Carers Rep, even though I've said I don't have the time to commit right now...), then I got a little shopping done in the Galleries before physio at 3, where I got read the riot act for doing too much. (Heh, someone get me a robotic servant and I'll stop!)
Yesterday was relatively relaxed. Today I've got all the Yule decorations in from the shed and this evening, if we've time, we'll start putting them up. Main tree is already up - though not yet decorated - in the lounge, and I'll do my black tree out here after lunch. I've bought some outdoor lights for the wisteria, too, this year!
The next couple of weeks will be busy as usual. We need to get to Babbacombe at some point, to visit mum and dad Taylor. It will probably be the last time we see them: dad T has cancer (melanoma on his face: it was removed, but has come back and gone inwards and there's nothing they can do now), and mum T has macular degeneration which wasn't caught early enough: she's all but blind. Added to that they're in their 90s... Andrew from Crystal Clear is visiting to measure up and give us a quote to replace the windows, Kai has venesection, BMT Clinic, dr's appt, and another counselling appt, and we're going to the Above and Beyond Carol Service at Bristol cathedral. I know, it's a bit 'traditional' for us, but I like singing carols and Kai fancied something traditional. Plus the money all goes to a very personally important charity.
Then GoodTwin and Sue are coming to visit!
I'm cautiously hopeful this Yule will be good. Kai is much stronger and fitter than the last four years (two years three months post transplant now) and fighting off bugs that much more easily. It's going to be quiet, as usual (though if the weather is nice it might be possible to go for a walk or even a bike ride), but we like that.
Right, lunch, the tree and then next!Poppy started...