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!
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Well, it's been even more manic than usual...
Brief run down. Fill in the gaps with shopping, gardening, cooking etc.
On the gardening side... Everything is doing well, the greenhouse is now providing us with all our tomatoes, cucumbers, and most recently peppers. They don't grow as big as the bought ones, but they are really nice. We now have a nice load of runner beans in the freezer ready for winter too.
Kai has started constructing the dry stone wall he wants between the slope and the 'dewpond' up in his slowly evolving mini-meadow at the top of the garden. A little while ago we caught an item in a news programme with an artist who balances stones, and Kai fancied having a go. It was astonishingly successful...
Photos © Kai Taylor.
(He disassembled it by blowing on it! The top stone just tumbled down.)
Thursday 20th we went for our first bike ride - not far, just down along the river. Rode down to the end of our road, walked through the park and down to the start of the pathway, rode across Sparke Evans bridge and along to the railway bridge, then back again.
Dotted line was walking, solid line was cycling. By no means a long ride - possibly a mile in total? Less? - but I managed it (wobbling all the way but hey, you try riding with vertigo!), and to my amazement not only did it not make my legs or back hurt, but the painlessness lasted for several hours after we got home.
I was going to get rid of the exercise bike, but Tom (Kai's physioterrorist) recommended him using it as a source of gentle exercise - don't have the time to go riding every day, we'll be lucky if we can manage once a week at the moment - and given it does me so much good too, I now have to make space for it.
Oh, and the new train service from Bristol Temple Meads to Severn Beach has, I believe, space for bikes, so with a little luck (and some decent weather) by the end of the summer we'll be able to take the bikes to Severn Beach and ride up (or down) the estuary. Nice wide paths and flat terrain - should be great!
On that Saturday Ken and I went to Wells/Glastonbury/Street for a day out and to scour the charity shops. I found a pair of pullup 'jeans' which will do nicely for shopping in the winter, and a double DVD of B movies, Galaxina (of which, more later) and Hunk. Looked bad, but we like bad sometimes, and at only £1 we decided to risk it.
It was a lovely day out, and a good break from Bristol for us both.
Media... Films watched: Logan. Hm. Well, as a portrayal of life for aging mutants trying to survive in a hostile world it was feasible and very good. I didn't like it, personally. It was grimy, unnecessarily foul-mouthed, extremely violent (then again, when was anything Wolverine not?), and really rather unpleasant. Parsecs away from the usual Marvel fare, which I knew going in, but... not for me. Kai enjoyed it. Ken didn't offer an opinion.
Galaxina. Oh dear... We knew it was going to be bad, but hadn't quite expected approaching Plan 9 bad. Overall idea OK, full of jokes and sight gags that in any other film would have been hysterically funny, here delivered so badly they were just cringe-worthy. And yet as the film ended Kai and I both burst out laughing. Not sure if it was relief, or disbelief that a film could be so bad, or hysteria, but something tickled us both.
And just for the hell of it, I've ordered both Plan 9, as Kai has never seen it, and First Spaceship on Venus, which is the film being watched by the crew in Galaxina. Never heard of it but it sounds interesting...
The Time Travellers. This was the last of the B movies on Ken's birthday DVD. After reading the blurb I was sure I'd seen it, but I didn't recognise the opening, so we carried on watching. Fifteen minutes in I realised that I had seen it before - on my parent's black and white TV when I was a child. It's a strange film, the acting and sfx standard for the time (1964), but the story is amazing, and introduces a time paradox not usually explored in films. The middle section is pretty naff, but the rest - yeah! It prefigures some much better known titles, and is a little gem, in my opinion. Well worth checking out. And if you hate it, all you've lost is an hour and a half of your time.
Virtual Nightmare. Well, it had obviously been recorded from the TV, but the quality was pretty good, the sound excellent, and overall it's something of an unknown gem. Australian, no actors I recognised (great performances), and obviously with a fairly low budget, it nevertheless kept us gripped. And the ending came as a surprise, which doesn't happen often these days!
Kai and I are now half way through B5 season5. When we've finished, either the five related films are next, or Crusade, which Kai has never seen and which I remember enjoying immensely. Ken will probably watch these with us.
Last Friday GoodTwin and Sue came to visit! The usual fun day was had, with quizzes and Zoolander 2 (I like that film more and more. Why is there no fanfic!?) and the pilot ep of The Expanse, which Sue had heard of but not yet seen. I think she may now buy it! (Can't wait for season 2 on DVD...)
GoodTwin brought over a hamper -
With the most adorable fox mug we've ever seen. I might just reserve that one for me...
Thank you, both. I had a fantastic day!
Kai's last venesection (last Sunday) went well and quickly, and his last ferritin reading was 1,553: at present it seems to be coming down by 200 points every time. This is excellent news, and with a bit of luck the end is in sight.
Yesterday evening Kai came with me to the Showcase De Lux at Cabot Circus to finally see Transformers: The Last Knight in 3D (the 19.00 hour screening: it ends its run tomorrow so we were just in time).
... oh dear...
It was worse than I was expecting, and deserves less than its IMDb rating, although it did at least more or less follow on more or less from AoE. Oh yes, the sfx and production were as stellar as usual, beautifully designed and portrayed Cybertronians, but the acting was dreadful, the action rushed beyond all hope of making sense of it, and the story even more incoherent and inconsistent than usual. I'll get the DVD when it becomes available, of course, but it's not likely to be watched all that often (and even then I'll probably skip the 'human' parts, which were absolutely abysmal). Very, very disappointing.
I think I'll just ignore it and continue Poppy as though it never existed.
However, the trailers before it looked very interesting. The Dark Tower (Idris Elba is always a great watch), Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - a must-see at the cinema in 3D for the sheer awesomeness of the visuals - and Thor: Ragnarok, which looks to be fun and daft. Geostorm also looks interesting, but might be one to simply buy rather than go see in 3D. Lots to look forward to.
I've finally had to give in and accept I no longer have the strength to drag heavy loads of shopping back, and have got a Tesco account for home delivery. (£36 per year for mid-week delivery and no extra charge if the shop is over £40, which it always is). Most of the heavy stuff comes from Tesco these days - Tyjer's gone off Sains cat food in favour of Tesco's own, and Sains no longer produce their organic orange juice: Tesco does and Ken gets through about four litres a week. Add to that bottles of tonic, coke, cooking wine, vodka, tetrapaks of organic beans and tomatoes... well, having someone else bring it home is wonderful. First delivery arrived this morning. Great!
And that's about up to date for now. No doubt I've missed something, I always do, so if I remember I'll add later. Time to make lunch, then make a start on Kai's wardrobe curtain...
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
I love living in a mini nature reserve. This morning, as I was coming back to the house with my hands full of three different varieties of cherry tomatoes from the greenhouse, our native sparrowhawk swooped down from one of the trees a few doors up, flew at eye level right past me, caught a sparrow in our medlar, then flew off to its nest in (I believe) the huge tree at the back of the PDSA... Yes, a tiny tragedy for the sparrow, but even sparrowhawks have to eat (or, I suspect, feed their chicks).
I still think we're feeding half the birds in Brislington. We have dozens of sparrows and starlings eating and drinking at the feeders, two families of blackbirds sharing the garden (I found that hard to believe given how territorial they are, but I've watched them, and there's definitely two. I suppose there's always such good feedins' here they've tacitly agreed to ignore each other...), and yesterday I counted seven (maybe eight) magpies. I'm very fond of them, despite the raucous cries that frequently wake me around dawn. They're usually warning cries about strange cats in the garden. We even have at least one owl in the vicinity - we hear it hooting quite often.
I heard foxes last night too.
Garden-wise, I now have the second sowing of mange tout and dwarf French beans in (and hopefully protected from pigeons by the sparkly chains of mirror circles and dangly silver xmas ornaments I found in the shed!): second sowing of peas will be in the next few days. And we're now using homegrown garlic:
I found an old-fashioned storage pot, 99p, in St Pete's Hospice when I took our latest donations 'round yesterday. Very pleased with that find! My plum tree produced precisely two plums this year - two more than expected as you may remember we moved the entire tree earlier in the year - but they were delicious, and hopefully prove that the move was successful. Keeping fingers crossed for next year's harvest!
The Red Devil apple tree is looking good: the fruit is already ripening, thanks to the weird weather we've had this year. There are a goodly number of pears on the tree, and the green apples are also coming on nicely (we moved that tree too, so the harvest won't be quite as good as last year, but that's fine, it survived and is doing OK). I caught an ep of the Beechgrove Garden earlier in the year, and apparently the best way to store surplus apples is to wrap them in magazine paper and keep them in lidded boxes in a cool place, like our shed. So I've saved last year's xmas TV Times and the boxes from our last three new pairs of shoes, and will give it a go come autumn.
And on the subject of food...
Food porn for Lutra
Joules 'mixed salad' served with Tesco's cheese and chutney cob. This one is made with tinned salmon and home grown tomatoes and cucumber: to the tinned tuna version I usually add little cheese cubes (Bavarian smoked and/or Gruyère are tastiest) with help-yourself hard boiled egg on the side. Disgustingly healthy!
(Tesco also do individual pots of dressings: we've tried and liked the smoked pepper and the pineapple and sweet chilli. I think they may also sell bottles of the smoked pepper - will check next time I go over.)
Kai fixed my sewing machine for me! It's an ancient Singer 99K, and I may have mentioned I've never been able to get the bobbin-winder to work. Well, that's now working, and he manoeuvred the little base plate (it was loose and I could never get it to stay in place) back into place as well. I've started making the new bits and pieces we need - Kai's blue radiator now has a brown cover (even radiator paint eventually flakes off, as I've found to my cost, and Kai never uses his radiator anyway, since he's in the warmest room in the house) which pretty much matches the brown paint. Next up is the curtain for his wardrobe - photo later - and a new voile curtain for the lounge (needs to be in three parts as the middle top window is the one we're using most and it's a nuisance pulling up the current curtain to reach the handle). Might make new voiles for our room, too: the old ones are looking very sad.
(Not the best lighting, it's dull today and the colours don't show at their best. Will try again when sunny.) The work space in Kai's room - not quite finished as we still have to put up his corkboard and several pictures. The curtains were a lucky find in a charity shop in Street a year ago. I think they're terrific! The display cabinet is actually a plate display thing that would normally live on top of a sideboard: we found it in a front garden down the road with a 'Please help yourself' sign and Ken carried it home. It's very nicely made, good solid wood that polished up well.
We've watched The Man from Planet X - which is pretty bad - and yesterday I picked up Logan - planning to watch it on Fri after dinner. Last week we had the horror channel on in the background, and an interesting Australian film was playing - Virtual Nightmare. (I ended up switching channels half way through as I wanted to watch the whole thing). It's not available to buy commercially, but I found a site offering it (and for a very good price) so decided to risk ordering. It's arrived, but we haven't had time to watch it yet. Fingers crossed it plays OK! (It should: our new DVD player claims to play every format there is...)
Planning to go see Transformers: The Last Knight in the next couple of weeks. Not holding out much hope - it's a Michael Bay film, it's likely to be as incoherent, confused and inconsistent as the rest of them - but of course I have to see it, and will buy it when it becomes available. Don't know yet whether Kai will come with me or if I watch it by myself. I don't mind either way!
Half-way through season 4 of Babylon 5 now. There are depressing similarities between the series and current political (geopolitical to some extent) affairs that make watching it less enjoyable than it was the first and second times around. Or perhaps I'm just more politically aware these days...
Pondering re-watching Alien Nation next. Kai's never seen it, and I thoroughly enjoyed it first time 'round.
And... I think that's about it. We haven't managed to get out much yet. Kai's physio Tom tells us that the fatigue Kai is suffering is a recognised effect from the procedures he's undergone, and has advised him how to slowly build up his stamina again, but it's going to take some time. But the relief of knowing what it is makes the whole thing a lot less stressful. Now we both need to pace ourselves. It'll come with practise!
Wednesday, July 05, 2017
Right - I have a few minutes while Kai finishes the last little bit of glossing in his room (then all the painting is done. 'Oooray!)
You may have guessed it's been a bit busy, so this is just a quick catch up with photos. Kai's BMT clinic on the 21st went OK, I think (I don't go in with him any more). On the 25th he had his latest venesection (which reminds me, I need to book the next two...) and his ferritin level is down again (around 1,700 if I recall correctly. Heading in the right direction at any rate.)
On the 28th and 29th Crystal Clear installed the new windows and wow, they're gorgeous! (If I can say that of windows.) But it meant a lot of clearing out - of Kai's room particularly - to make space for the installers. We'd planned to redecorate Kai's room afterwards. He wanted a retro-distressed-Tudor look ([rolls eyes] of course he did...) which has been... interesting trying to accomplish. We've ended up with the walls from floor to radiator height in warm oak brown, and everything above that 'crushed almond', which is a warm, traditional cream colour (with a wisteria pinkish-mauvish feature 'wall' - i.e. the chimney breast). Actually it looks really nice, and from the door it looks like the room is full of sunlight. But it's taken five days to do, as we had to move furniture around to reach everything. And we still have to put up the new curtain pole for the new curtains (going to need a lot of drilling so that has to wait for Saturday when Ken can do it. Yes, I can drill, but the electric drill is too heavy for me to handle safely these days, and Kai hasn't used it yet. Given the state of our plaster, best leave it to someone who knows what they're doing!)
If he'll let me, I'll take a couple of photos once everything's finished and post them here.
The garden continues apace...
At the moment we're pretty much self-sufficient in veg, which was what I wanted. I'm finding it tricky to get my successional planting organised, but am fumbling through it. And making notes so I can get it more right next year. Need to get more maincrop peas on the go in the next few days. Will also plant more mange tout and less sugarsnap peas next year.
That's a misshapen purple carrot - actually very tasty!
Although almost too pretty to eat...
Bought these when Ken and I were last at Hurrans - dianthus 'Pearl'. They are very pretty, and they smell of chocolate! Yes, truly. I'm going to have to put one in a pot though: I can't bend down low enough to sniff them anymore...
We're onto Babylon 5 season 4 (watching two eps a night), and still thoroughly enjoying it. We're also working through the B-movies we got Ken for his birthday. He caught part of an old sci-fi film on TV and fancied watching the whole thing: all he could tell me was it was set in Scotland and involved an alien creature... Well, you know I like a challenge. Narrowed it down to two films, and found them on amazon, one of them on a DVD with three other films. As it happened, the film Ken caught was X the Unknown, which is actually not bad. Of the other DVD, we've caught The Angry Red Planet which is... mm, yeah, well, OK for the time it was made, I suppose, and Beyond the Time Barrier (which unfortunately saw me dozing off for a few seconds through it - mostly because I was stupidly tired rather than the film's content, although what I did catch didn't impress me. Kai liked it though).
So, busy as ever. Which has not been great for my joint problems, alas.
No doubt I've forgotten a few things I meant to say: will add them later if I remember. In the meantime, have a hot cat catching the fall of cooler air from the wide-open window just out of frame above!