Sunday, 31 December 2017

A dog's life


Yes, we do spoil her, and the other Spanish greyhound who (and I say who as they are beings, although regarded largely in Spain as objects, along with wardrobes, shoes, etc) live under our roof. By some happy little twist of fate - for them, and us - they ended up gracing our sofas rather than slumped miserably in a concrete pen somewhere.
Anyone looking to take on a 'second-hand' dog, consider one of these magnificent hounds.

Amongst their many attributes:

Sweet nature, playful (when not too psychologically damaged by their previous existence)
non-smelling, except for a slight odour of warm toast,
practically no hair-dropping,
will walk for hours, or will make do with a couple of half hour walkies per day and then flop to any available soft surface (preferably a sofa) and remain immobile until food/more walks happen,
and, so beautiful to look at - rather like sharing one's abode with a couple of elegant deer - with long waggy tails.

Bali, in the top photo, is, I think, a true example of what these dogs would be like if they were not beaten, dragged behind vans, stabbed to make them go faster, and all the other horrors they see and/or experience.
She is completely confident, funny and utterly loving, having escaped the normal 'Galgos' life at an early age (abandoned pup). Our other dog - Gala is gradually becoming less neurotic over the years. She would always scarper at the sight of Mark, and just about any other man for the first two years, but with the introduction of Bali, her fear has slowly dissipated. Now she will share the sofa with him, take food from him and generally is part of the pack.


A link to one of the Galgos adoption sites who operate in the UK, France, Netherlands, etc.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Christmas day walk

Up somewhere as high as possible . . . this is a good one. Up at Saint Salvayre above Alet les Bains where there is one house and a minuscule church. It seems to be becoming a small ritual each 25th December - a sit in the church, which is always open, and a think about what all the day's celebrations are founded on, then a long dog walk over the moor-like hills, chat about the year passed and year to come; and home for presents and nut roast.

Happy Christmas 2017 to any readers out there in Blog-Land.

Tiny church at St Salvayre

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Friday, 22 December 2017

getting things into perspective

Worrying about whether you've got everything ready for the festive-madness? There might well be a few other life-forms out there with similar anxieties . . . or not . . .
I preferred to watch without sound.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Let there be light

A new sub-sub blog featuring weird lamps. I think if I had my time at art school again, I might have chosen light design. What a wonderful thing to create objects that are beautiful and have a useful function. However, I probably would have turned out things that were not un-akin to these beauties I found recently at our local junk/recycling emporium.
Straight from a room that might have featured in Blue Velvet - number one: a bizarre but intricately made, 1950s? lamp with small drawer in which to keep your earplugs, condoms or false teeth, teamed with a later added lamp with tasseled lampshade from about 1973? Rewired by Mark and now gracing my bed-side table - also an abandoned item from 1950, (table not Mark)

Number two: An angry-looking red ceramic bear grasping a green ceramic tree, complete with plastic fluted red and white lampshade and red matching flex/switch.
I assume this was produced for a kid's bedroom . . . happy dreams . . .
Anyway, I love it and it now sits on a small shelf in our kitchen overlooking the breakfast scenario each morning.


Friday, 8 December 2017

The world belongs to those who check


I read this sentence somewhere a couple of months ago and it's taken up residence in my brain. As I am a checker anyway - doors, windows, gas off, crossing off elements on lists, etc, the phrase made me feel comfortable with this odd side of myself - someone often rather too spontaneous in other ways.
Anyway, a couple of days ago I had an MRI scan booked in and I didn't check what I was supposed to take until late in the preceding evening. When I did look, there was all the stuff I had imagined I would round up: medical card, forms to fill in, etc, and . . . oops, a product that would be injected into my veins that I had to go and obtain from a chemist.
Arg. Scan at 10.30; not a good idea to turn up without the required fluid as there might be much sighing and 'c'est pas possible!' - ing, from some scary reception woman. Extra stupid also as this could well be some special thing that should be ordered. Why hadn't I checked? I'd thought about it a few times, but kept putting it off until way after shops would be shut. Some internal subconscious revolt perhaps? True, my memory kept presenting me with images and recordings of a small constricted place filled with resounding pneumatic drill noise - something I was not overly keen to revisit.
I drove to a pharmacy and the assistant searched out the required box, placing it on the counter with a frown. 'Madame, this is this bit here on the 'ordinance' but that bit there - we don't have it'.
'What is that bit' I asked. She went to check and didn't know but reiterated that they didn't have it. And then said I couldn't have the first bit as there was no signature on the 'ordonnnance'. 'But it was sent to me like that' I protested, looking a little wild as the scan RDV time was looming. After some more checking I was allowed the box without the other bit. I drove to two other chemists who also didn't have the 'other bit' and then to another where the pharmacist informed me I didn't need another bit as it was all inside the box I already had from the first pharmacy. Mm.
So, I did get there on time and the receptionist was actually really friendly, although there seemed to be some confusion over what sort of scan I was having and why I had an ordonnance for a box of blue fluid anyway. She went to check and nope, not needed, so I donated it to them in case someone like me hadn't checked what they needed to take with them, and took my place in the waiting area while trying to ignore the now vivid thoughts my brain was presenting of potholing and other claustrophobic situations.
'Madame 'Ardy?'
'Huh? Oh . . . yes.'
I followed the efficient assistant to a changing room, removed all metal from my person, handed her my carefully translated 'histoire' of what I personally thought they should be looking for in my neck/jaw and then followed someone else to the machine.
Things have changed since the last time I was slid into one of these things some years ago. No music in the headphones (utterly useless as the drilling, whapping sounds overpowered all other noise by 100%); more comfortable, and there was a  rubber HELP!' bell, which I'm sure I wasn't offered before.
Weirdly it was quite pleasant lying there analysing the different beats, rather like reclining after one too many mojitos in an (admittedly over-lit) techno dance club, especially as two of the medical team had a quick dance in the adjoining room that I could see into - hands above their heads, styrophome cups waving about as the pitch increased to 'donk, donk, donk, donk, don,don, don,don, do,do,do,do d,d,d,d, baaaaaaarp'.
I was removed, asked if it had 'passed well' - 'bien passé?' and shown back to the changing room.
Out in the reception area after a few minutes I was handed one of the large, beige, scan envelopes. 'No chat with doctor'? It was all in the envelope. 'Au revoir, Madame'.
Had they read my rambling notes? Possibly not. Anyway, there was nothing sinister noted, everything in the right place and no explanation for the trigeminal pains (see a few posts back).
This particular version of Trigeminal Neuralgia I negotiate around every now and then seems to be termed 'Atypical' or in fact, Atypical of an Atypical form, i.e no one has a clue what it is and/or what I can do about it, other than to smother it with fairly hefty drugs every day.
I'd rather just live with the attacks, and work out what's not good to do - another system of checking. It's rather like having a small sadistic personal trainer living within myself - check: don't drink coffee, not too much tea . . . oo, steady on, is that the third cup today? Very little alcohol, check: are you sitting in a good position, check: how long have you been sitting at the computer - enough. Get off your arse and go and do some digging/walking/looking at stuff long distance. OK, sorry. Yes, you're right. I was slumping and yes, it's time I got off this.


MIR scanner with its placid grey coating and one without. Might be more difficult to convince people to be slid into the second . . . and no wonder it's a tad noisy . . .

Monday, 4 December 2017

Things that turn out to be a good idea

This year when the chimney sweep arrived back in September he sighed at the sight of our awful old fireplace.
"Madame, il faut que vous débarrassez de ce truc. Vraiment, c'est dangereux!"
He swept, sighed more and handed me the piece of paper stating he has done the deed - with the box marked 'unfit', for the third year running.
I watched his van fart off down the road and thought, okay, I suppose we'd better do it then.


                        Bizarre fireplace we had inherited

So, we did.
The demolition was interesting, the selling of the apparatus on the 'Bon Coin' even more so. A bloke turned from Montpellier with a van and a mate. Even with them and the two builders it was almost impossible to get it in the van - the biggest, heaviest fire 'insert' any of them had ever seen. They did eventually tip it in then set off back up the motorway to install the thing, hopefully more carefully than it had been in our house.



The stove arrived. We'd gone for a 'Jotul' model, as although it was scarily expensive, I wanted something from a country where they really know about cold - Norway. It was installed, terrible 'making good' work done which had to be re-done when I complained to the shop owner (I've rarely seen a French man look embarrassed). I filled and patched up the remaining defects, painted the wall and we lit the first fire even though it was about 35 degrees outside.

Now, in December, I'm thanking the chimney sweep: no smoke-filled house, less wood used, more space in the sitting room, and above all, we are warm! all the time; it even heats upstairs by a simple operation of 'leaving the doors open'.
If you are reading this and considering buying a stove - get one. A big one, and, although it's an investment, preferably one made where they really know about cold.

More space, less soot, and total warmth