Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005

Thursday, December 23, 2004


Granny's plane a bit later than she thought. Time for one last mini-blog, amid all the things she hopes she hasn't forgotten. Sun across the landscape. Her land still in shadow. Across it from the far side her orange cat wends his way to breakfast. Almost all of the land green now. Granny, despite longing for London, leaves it regretfully - she always does. A sense of exile either way. She doesn't mind - wouldn't be much use if she did, would it? Mixed feelings, she thinks, are the productive ones.

One last lot of chestnuts to shell for Beloved and Beloved's Beloved Daughter's Christmas. OVER AND OUT

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Fathers Christmas

Granny crawls down to the kitchen, as usual half-asleep, to find - or rather smell - Beloved cooking up fish-stock. It stinks. 'But it's a kitchen,' he protests when challenged. 'Also a place for eating breakfast,' Granny points out. (She forebears to add that it is also her office. She has chosen this. Sort of. Not least it's the only place she can connect to the Internet and so blog.) Beloved remains unmoved. In this at least reminding her of her own dad, years ago, opening the Aga, at 8am, just when everybody appeared, to get out his pot of chicken-feed, which smelled even worse than the fish-stock. He was never moved by protests either.

Here he is, aged Dad, aged 3 with his Dad. (Who was sixty when he was born, so more like his grandfather.) This picture makes Granny ache a bit. Partly it's the cricket bat - her dad never lost his passion for this. Partly it's knowledge of what an often hideous childhood was in store for this beautiful child - English upper-middle classes, for the best of motives, went in for despatching their sons to be brutalised at boarding-school - the pretty ones suffered more than most. And partly it's the realisation that this is the first Christmas in Granny's life when she doesn't have to rack her brains for what to give him a) for his birthday (December 3rd) b) for Christmas. The problem became harder and harder as he got older and older. Fortunately he still kept reading, if with less and less enthusiasm.

Granny is pleased that last -his last - Christmas she found a book full of soldier's letters and journals from the Peninsular War, the one where Wellington first got up Napoleon's nose. 'Oh,' he said. 'What a wonderful book. When I was nine I knew everything about the peninsular war. This brought it all back.' And for a moment his old spark and life returned, the still lurking little boy shone out of his eyes; his beenness, his beingness coinciding. (See last post for 'beenness.' If Philip Roth can get away with it, so can Granny.) Now Granny is feeling along with grief, a gladness for him, a tenderness and pain together for the ongoingness of life, the persistance of a self within ancient flesh. She hopes that if there is a heaven, her old dad is, presently, playing cricket in it.

One last thought about ageing: yesterday's boast 'we are changing old age' should perhaps be a little challenged by Granny's sudden memory of a social-worker friend's client, over 40 years ago. All of 80, she breezed into friend's office wearing a new hat, crying I've got a new lover.' Even the very young Granny was impressed. So you can still live when you're old, she thought? Yes!! Good. Maybe it's not all so new after all.

Beloved's Beloved Daughter is here. 'Why is it always windy when I'm here?' she asks. It's true, the moment she arrives here the wind starts blowing. As now this minute.

She'a upstairs meanwhile doing yoga. Blogging, Granny thinks, is her kind of yoga. It may be infrequent for a while. She's off tomorrow, followed by Beloved a few days later. She will miss the arrival of flowers on her land, but she can't have everything. The Lady with the Big Dog and Handsome from Blackburn will be in charge here for a month. Let's hope they don't fall out. (More than possible. Though Mr B is happier just now, having fought through the system - with the help of the police, to get his swimming-pool fixed by the next-door builders who wrecked it. Another little island tale.) Granny returns at the beginning of February. She and Beloved are (very temporarily) joining the Blue Rinses. More of this when and if she can get connected. HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE.

Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Old Tales

Still thinking about Pepy's lonely wife. Nothing changes (but at least he noticed...). It's always the small personal details that strike through from the past. Perhaps of all the things Granny has ever seen in a museum, the ones affected her most were in a museum in Luxor, from 2400BC. A comb she could use herself, a chair she could sit in. So commonplace. And in context so profound.

Time for quote 2. About age this time. Philip Roth: a book called The Dying Animal, about an old man (younger than Granny too!) and his love-affair with a much younger woman. (Not actually her favourite subject, but never mind this.) He says: to those not yet old, being old means you've been. But being old means that, despite, in addition, and in excess of your beenness, you still are. Your beanness is very much alive. You still are, and one is as haunted by the still being and its fullness as by the having-already-been and it's pastness. .....One cannot evade knowing what shortly awaits one.....Otherwise it's all the same. Otherwise one is immortal for as long as one lives.

Oh to dare use a non-word like 'beenness.' Wonderful. And he goes on.

Not many years ago, there was a ready-made way to be old, just as there was a ready-made way to be young. Neither obtains any longer. A great fight about the permissable took place here -and a great overturning. ....What can I do about the fact that as far as I can tell nothing, nothing is put to rest however old a man may be?

There's some special pleading about sexuality here of course, but nothing wrong with that - Granny applauds the woman of 67 who advertised for lovers so she could experience real sexual love before it was too late; and then wrote about it all. Good on her, she says. Even though it wouldn't be her way - she's perfectly happy to admit that at her age sex can still be a pleasure, but that's it. But the main argument stands. The lives of the old are still life, 'ares' maybe, and still lives as they choose to make them, mind and body allowing. (Am reminded again here, of visiting a cancer hospital years ago, with an artist friend who ran a class there; and coming away thinking; the important fact about these people is not that they were dying; but that they were ALIVE.) And we - our generation are re-making these lives. That's what so interesting. Writing about them, too, maybe. Not like Kingsley Amis - 'The Old Boys' was about the unregenerated way of being old; miserable old gits decaying in the pub. We can do better than that. We do. We will.


Monday, December 20, 2004

Telling Tales

Two quotes: 1) from The Devil that Danced on Water, a wonderful book by the daughter of a judicially murdered politician from Sierra Leone, about her father, about the disintegration of her country, like so many other African countries, through greed, corruption, poverty, British colonial hangovers, etc, etc, aided and abetted by World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Big Power manoevres. etc.

'In the African Oral Tradition great events and insignificant moments, the ordinary and the extraordinary, are notches on the same wheel. They exist in relation to each other. The little occurrences are as important as the grand design: the threads are the texture of truth that separate man-made myth from fact.'

This reminds Granny of a comment she heard about Russian conversation; the samovar in one breath, God in the next. Either are good advice for for novelists; and, just as much, for bloggers. Here we are all of us bloggers, yattering out into the ether, about work and motherhood in Paris, aidworking in Zambia, a farm in New South Wales, cafes in Bangalore, fatherhood in Hampstead, God knows what in the USA, so on and so forth, hopping from ideas, principles, world problems, to struggles with machinery, Christmas decorations, kiddy bathtime, office parties, what to do with mushrooms, risotto rice, AIDS, aid, Amnesty international....What makes for a good blog then? What would remain interesting in 2300? The domestic detail possibly? (Who reads Pepys for his official life when they can get his wife, 'troubled with her lonely life' the 'best fritters I ever met in my life' and a 'silk suit which cost me much money and I pray God to make me able to pay for it. ')

Beloved has just appeared, so quote two will have to remain for further blog. Granny's trivia for anyone interested is 1) it's cloudy, windy, and trying to rain. 2) her dog - the Beautiful Wimp- has just walked across Mr Handsome from Blackburn's freshly laid concrete, much to his fury. 3) The Big Dog and the Little Dog are sitting next to her, again, - the Lady is off interpreting for something or someone or other. Feline Houdini is miffed. 4) Beloved is eating cheese, tomatoes and a slice of his own bread before heading for the supermarket. 5) Granny has still to shell yet another million bloody chestnuts. Hail and farewell.

Big dog, little dog

Lady with the Big Dog (also with little dog) has moved in. Plus dogs. She has gone off for a furious day's work at airport where all hell will be let loose today as Christmas revellers arrrive. (Poor them.) Granny's dog-yard can't contain her dogs - a merry cross country chase followed discovery of this - Granny haring after fleeing canines, still in (fairly) well done-up dressing-gown and not much else, an interesting sight to her neighbours, no doubt. A very cross Mr Handsome, who is cross most of the time anyway these days, is now constructing another dog-yard on the land. (Whoopee. At last, what will be in due course Granny's chicken-run. It's taken a crisis to achieve this.) Meantime still-dressing-gowned Granny is trapped in the kitchen with Lady w BD's grieving pair. Writing this. Confronting more Christmas email, and the lurking chestnuts. The sky is grey, rain threatened. Beloved's Beloved Daughter arrives today. Faint whines from behind her. Never mind.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

A kilo of chestnuts..

Well, lunch is over. And went alright, despite (daily) problem of Granny rarely starting anything till a couple of hours before and Beloved having to have everything ready by yesterday - in a state of rare anxiety if it isn't.

Now (contrary to above) Granny is faced with shelling a kilo and a half of chestnuts. Along with requesting her baby-sitting services for the whole of Christmas Eve, Beloved (truly) Daughter-in-law asked 'could you make your Christmas stuffing?' Granny can and will. But since shelling the things for latter, incompatible with fulfilling former, it has to be done here. Can't imagine too many of her fellow passengers will have large bag of Spanish chestnuts, processed as above, on flight home. The chestnuts are a yearly event in her family - long-used French recipe from Elizabeth David, always in demand. (The secret is adding apples and leaving out the bread, and the sausage-meat.) You can use tinned chestnuts but it isn't the same.

There are few years that Granny hasn't spent Christmas with sore finger-nails - the chestnut shells pierce into the quick. Only year she didn't suffer them was because she went to Timbuctu. Yes, really. It was an attempt - wholly successful, not to say bizarre not to say wonderful- to get away from being, she was a lone woman then, the ghost at everyone else's feast. Not so long ago. But in life with Beloved now, it seems so. (They are not in fact spending Christmas day with each other this year; his family's needs duties and hers are at odds. It doesn't matter. New Year's Eve will do. Not to mention all those other, many, days and nights.)

Raising Ravens

Thought I'd better add something to acknowledge Christmas - even if it's January 5th - last years -the other end of it..

Sunday morning: usual slow crawl out of bed. Saved by Beloved's coffee-making. (To add to virtue he doesn't even drink it.) He of course is a lark. Granny has always been a nightingale - the bad news is that though larks continue to leap happily out of bed as they get older, and nightingales go on propping their eyes open with difficulty, nightingales no longer make up for it by being lively at midnight. Or even 10pm. It's comatose both ends. Not fair.

So what to do? Yet more email Christmas cards, sort clothes, wrap local presents, make bed for Beloved's Beloved Daughter, due to arrive tomorrow, cook Granny's share of lunch, walk dogs, sort out Mr and Mrs Handsome due to come to eat; granny and Beloved back in marriage guidance - Handsomes seem to be at odds again. Oh dear.

Much of yesterday was spent trawling for local presents in shopping centre in tourist trap on other side of island (shivering tourists in shorts and skinny strap tops. Sensible locals in wool. The travel agents - 'islands of eternal summer' - have a lot to answer for. ) Not much bought. Amazon via internet much more useful.

Other blogs I read are full of world, soul, serious issues. What world? Granny has little time to think here, except on domestic issues and, occasionally, lurking manuscript. (Discover straight off that baby, female on page one, has changed sex by page twenty. Preserve as interesting plot twist? Perhaps not.)

Oh and birds. Little brown bees or whatever they were have been and gone. Odd that. Why? Whence? Whither? (Rare chance to use such words). Ravens gather. The only kind of crow-type on this island. The rarest sort back on Granny's other home island. She knows where they come from; in the National Park, where they used to remain mostly, among the volcanoes - now they appear frequently, even have set-tos sometimes with seagulls. Not much food among the lava probably. While granny was walking dogs yesterday, one appeared overhead cawing madly. A minute later there were four of them - Granny wondered hopefully if they had their hungry eyes on Tiresome Terrier ....as usual all too intent on digging up neighbours' newly-growing plants in pursuit of lizards - not good local PR - no such luck.

Raising ravens. Crios Cuervos. Wonderful title of excellent Spanish film -made, I think, by the director of one of Granny's favourites, Spirit of the Beehive. Beloved, alas, unlike her, did not mispend his youth in the Scala in Walton Street, let alone the Academy in Oxford Street, let alone the National Film Theatre, definitely does not share Gs enthusiasm for celluloid, prefers his dramas live. (G once spent a very wearing evening trying to explain/ justify Regles du Jeu to him;- decided in future this was too much like hard work.) So, what else but titles. And falling into every film possible when back in London, whatever time she has left from babysitting. Etc. No films here; no anything except what's on telly.

No, not too much of a moan. Sun out. Stuff - lots of it - is growing everywhere. Potatoes come up, maize, sweet potatoes, etc, etc. Planting here, for sweet potatoes, maize, involves laboriously raising a small pyramid of earth for each one. Fields are little pyramids all over. An old man of 73 does a whole field next door to us unaided.

Old age. Young age. Short spans, long spans. LIFE. GOOD. HERE. Wish it was so everywhere. Happy Christmas everyone.

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Friday, December 17, 2004

Back to earth

Sunny morning. Empty kitchen. Washing-machine spinning. Something forgotten by Beloved is bubbling on the stove. (Turn it off, Granny, we don't need yet another burned saucepan.) There's a smell of woodsmoke- just beyond granny's wall someone is burning vine-shoots. Across the whole landscape other people are planting in no-longer dead land. Grass is poking up all over her land too; the top right hand side, always the first for some reason, is green already. Good. Good. Good. No flowers yet. Don't be impatient, Granny.

(Peace rudely broken suddenly by sound of electric drill from next-door studio which Granny and Beloved are about to let to the Lady with the Big Dog (this one never saw Yalta) in order to raise money for the Attic Woman's care. Bugger. Still, you can't have everything, can you?)

An odd week. Aged cousin, awaiting hip operation so in considerable pain, didn't want to be parted from his Beloved for one moment. She, in between rainstorms (considerable) wanted to see something of the island. He would have preferred to sit, yet insisted on accompanying her. Aside from his stoic agonies getting in and out of vehicle, Aged C was inconveniently prone to car-sickness, a problem where roads are up, down and circuitous, as here. Chauffeur Granny, glancing anxiously sideways from time to time at the now green yet still stoic countenance of Aged Cousin, concluded that love and stoicism, both, are over-rated qualities.

Beloved meanwhile always had convenient assignations with carpenters, banks, mechanics etc. Lucky him. Only delightful Spanish Girlfriend suffered along with Granny and Aged C. She too, fortunately, though devoted to her Beloved, has a ribald sense of humour. While Beloved and Aged C - such family likeness in manner and aura - such otherness in terms of outlook and interests - talked past each other ever more loudly over the dinner-table wine bottles, she and Granny giggled complicitly in the kitchen and exchanged life-stories, their growing friendship the best part of an otherwise exhausting week. One of the chief pleasures of exile in a delightful place - and the main drawback - Granny realises is that people come to stay. And stay. And stay. Beloved is OK. He just keeps on cooking. Granny, on the other hand, makes friends. Or doesn't.

The lights went on and off. The rain fell. Granny and Beloved's bed ended in middle of the floor, while the water dripped where their heads had been. When the wind shifted next day, the roof leaked in the corner of the Aged C's room. The main town was in chaos, half the buildings flooded, roads deep in water. The Christmas lights everywhere seemed strangely unaffected. On the worst night of all, Aged Cousin invited everyone out to dinner - they drove back at midnight to see the huge electric windmill at the entrance to the local community manically turning and flashing amid driving wind and rain. A sudden short-circuit might have been even more spectacular. But whatever the other limitations of electrical systems here, these lights seem inviolate; the political future of the mostly - spectacularly -bent town-hall and island maffias depending on such things - their role in this community so far as Granny and Beloved can see, is far less bread than circuses. The bread is being won across the landscape, now, by their electorate.

To work. AT LONG LAST.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

How about an unblog?

Granny is exhausted....

The sun is out again. Another insect tale... little brown beelike things this time. They never allowed Granny close enough to see. (There are all kinds of bee-imitators here. In the summer, around the lavender, charming little black-and-white striped things. ) Aged cousin and entirely delightful girlfriend have gone. So have the raging rain storms. No more leaking roofs and electrical short circuits. (In this island, as far as utilities go, rain like British snow, is always 'the wrong kind of snow.')

Paying guests, granny observes, go out and don't need entertaining, unlike family ones. Old men in love she also observes are just as silly as young ones.

More tomorrow.

(Granny has finished at least the first draft of her book!!! God knows how.)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

wind from the southwest

The wind direction is significant here. Southwest brings rain. It also makes the stove smoke, knocks out the water heater and - when rain comes - soaks some significant part of electricity cable so the circuit which connects phone/internet, fridge, freezer, CD player, etc, blows. It's raining again now. Could be this blog will come to sad and sudden end and Granny's not so immortal prose will disappear into the stratosphere. Don't bother to weep.

Yesterday Granny too busy escorting altogether lovely Spanish girlfriend - improving her Spanish thereby - to write anything. They visited among other things the half-made made Belen - Bethlehem, otherwise Christmas crib- on the other side of the National (volcanic) Park; the most elaborate one on the island. These Belens are a feature of every community in Spain at Christmas - as also the procession of the three kings on January 6th, on camels, or imitation camels. (Here, of course, camels bred on the island, there are so many available that not only the kings appear riding them, each king is followed by train of more camels bearing his harem. Kings and harems alike throw sweets at the crowd- throw them so very hard, they hurt. The myrrh part of the gift, no doubt. )

Most Belens cover a big tract of ground, some very elaborate, showing sea, volcanoes, farmland, growing plants every form of local activity surrounding the main figures of the crib. In the main town on the island one has been set up in a marquee next to the church. It has a succession of little rooms, ending with Mary and Joseph more or less life-size - opposite them a laundry in which baby clothes are strung on a line; a nice touch.

Lately, Christmas lights, trees, Father Christmas have begun to figure in the island Christmas. Communities compete over these too. Our local one has decided to lead the field - last year there was a plantation of flashing palm trees on the main roundabout leading into the town. This year a large windmill will be flashing and flashing. In general though Christmas here is not a consumer fest as in England. Only signs of this arrive - a little bit -in shopping arcades patronised by British expats. But mainly on Channel Four via satellite. The many versions of the holy family do NOT feature the Beckhams for sure; never mind Real Madrid. (Catholic Bishop's thundrous response to Madame Tussaud's installation: 'trivialisation of the sacred'. Anglican Bishop's far from thundrous response. 'Deary me.' ) . The main supermarket, this year as last year, plays a non-stop tape of children singing Christmas songs, as dreadful as British esquivalent, but never mind that.

The expat Germans meanwhile go in for Christmas kitsch; lights, gold paint, plastic fir trees, figures looking like wood actually plastic, Also less of a consumer fest. Visually horrible, but ethically pleasanter.

What is it about the Brits then? Granny will miss most of the horror - not due to arrive back in London till December 23rd. She is thankful.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Life with Beloved

Nestling side by side on internet favourites Granny finds the following: kilns and kiln building: advice for problem dogs: news about chickens.. and a little further down: getting married: save you tax. (Married dogs? Chickens?)

Land greening. Verdi Requiem on Radio. A raven on the roof. (Honestly!) An hour free to write. Whoopee.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Definitely not a yabbie

live-in hoopoe

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Dead Men's Cars

Bureaucracy around cars in Spain leads to conclusion that bureaucrats want nothing to change, ever.

Beloved found out this week that his bank had paid up insurance for car written off and recorded as such two years ago. Luckily he saw it before the payment was irreversible. (Nothing so useful as internet banking here - only way of dealing with anything is frequent visits to bank and standing in long queue.)

Beloved and Granny have been driving a Landrover for 2 years which still belonged to dead man and had done through previous change of owner. (Previous one assured Beloved and Granny that it didn't matter. Not so. Especially if you want to sell the vehicle later. ) Car documentation here has to be both correct and produced instantly in case of random checks by police let alone accidents; changing it needs irrefutable proofs of identity, guaranteed signatures, tax records - not available except to registered owner; - if owner dead and executor wife uncooperative then what? Much expensive legal and notary input. (To be a notary, as far as Granny can make out, is to pass the odd exam then make fortune out of merely countersigning documents.) Fortunately G and B found a friendly policeman who wanted their problem. He of course could bypass all restrictions. He did. Car sold.

Friendly mechanic has 12 year old Mercedes knocking about for half price given for Landrover. Whoopee they say, and buy it. Well, wait to buy it while all processes are gone through - see above. In this case slowed up by immaculate conceptions, constitutions (ie fiestas) and registered owner being in Portugal. Meantime they borrow it. First time out on visit to Attic Woman, battery failed on Granny. What with first trying to contact then waiting for Beloved to find jump leads and drive down in their truck, then revisiting mechanic, etc, etc, to get new battery it took two and half hours to get home - (20 minute journey.) Granny for once was without either book or mobile phone. Sods law. (See previous post.)

Aged cousin has arrived. Is ponderously spoken, but still, Granny thinks, dishy (visiting Mrs Handsome from Blackburn concurs; is he younger than Beloved she asks? Oh dear. Beloved, fortunately, doesn't care either way.) He is white bearded, wears fetching black leather jeans and leather hat with feather; dishyness and tendency to wear black leather jeans etc might help explain the many girlfriends. His main claim to fame except for successful career as surgeon is that in the 60's he went on a bus-ride with Lee Harvey Oswald -unknowingly till visited much later by suspicious FBI . Main problem now is that he can't walk - or barely. Is having a hip operation in two weeks time. Present - Spanish - girlfriend, much younger (this figures) and nice - good for granny's Spanish too - looks after him. Weather has gone back to perfect. They sit in the sun. Their baggage has not turned up so girlfriend sports white t-shirt, matching shorts and slippers labelled 'Iberia' provided by airline. Is currently on telephone trying to get luggage back. So far vainly.

A man in Nuneaton had his ear cut off while walking down some street at midnight. Life - awful and lovely life- goes on.

Oh for two days ENTIRELY ALONE thinks Granny.

Dream on.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Granny transported

She wishes...

(Never trust a Mercedes. Donkey carts are quicker.)

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Rock Pool Aggro

Rock pool replenished against arrival of aged cousin. Some fancy weed stuff waving in the (artificial) current. Last night an anenome was seen roughing-up (eating?) a limpet. Is that possible? Another anenome was being transported here and there on the back of a hermit crab. (Possibly a thought for the future if all other transport packs up.)

Rain on a Hot Glass Roof

A hot tin roof would be even better. (Don't be greedy Granny. You can't have everything.) Started early; is clearing. A few dabs of sun and a range of mother-of-pearl colours creep across the landscape. Earth dark, stone walls pale, the home-made spiral on the far side out the land stands out boldly. Lone palm trees on the horizon are still. The wind will be up later, the sun brilliant. But not yet. Still Atlantic softness.

The cat is wet and mewling.

How's all that for a bit of half-cock poetic prose first thing? (Granny's first thing. A lark she isn't.)

Aged cousin arrives tomorrow. Busyness abounds.... alas, Gp has to join it. To encourage herself will go to admire the first (small) (pink) flower to arrive on her land - one of the geranium family probably. (No botanist, granny. She just likes miraculous - for here - flowers.)

Fleas have been vanquished. (Famous last words?) But Granny is still itching.

Itching to get time to finish first draft of book, too. So nearly there. Some hope. Better, nostalgically, read someone's Ode to Solitude. Hastening to add that she knows, really, that nostalgia for solitude is enough. To much of the real thing can be wearing. Writing life alongside retired Beloved reminds her though sometimes of long-ago writing life alongside toddlers. (Will they sleep for two hours today? Or is half an hour all I've got, before it's walk/meal/entertain them time?) Naughty.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Still Yummier Mummy

El (los) senor(es) pulga(s) is (are) still among those present. No Granny is not the lone unclean...evidently, place is colonised. Today will be CLEANSED. Sprayed, hoovered etc etc. Tomorrow, Tiresome Terrier, Beautiful Wimp, Feline Houdini will be shampooed mercilessly (today and Wednesday are yet more FIESTAS. Today the Spanish Constitution is ?celebrated : on Wednesday the Immaculate Conception. All shops and the vet are shut.) Granny will continue to apply tea-tree oil. Fastidious insects may like oestrogen but don't like strong flavours. Why is Beloved totally unscathed??

(Granny is becoming aware that there are too many insects in this blog.)

Yesterday one triumph over technology; new modem at last installed. Granny and Beloved can dial up on the instant. Downside - no faster than old modem, page-overs all blocked (no more bankstatements, crosswords, BBC radio 3, etc) and if disconnected causes whole machine to crash: followed by nasty notice. 'This computer has recovered from serious ailment' (or something like that. ) Now what?

Granny is also wrestling in vain with inserting links on this thing.

More good/bad news. Good; eldest granddaughter is to be Mary in her school Nativity Play - with a lot of lines about woman's difficult lot (pc teacher) her unworthiness etc (same, but also religious teacher.) Bad: Granny of course can't get there; the price of sun and exile - and Beloved really, since that's what exile is about. He has to be worth it; is mostly.

In the Guardian yesterday they discovered the original Mr Rochester's attic! (Article pointed out to Granny by her very own Mr Rochester, otherwise known as Beloved.) Seems the attic woman was real and lived in a house near Haworth. Charlotte Bronte knew the house and story - this was known - but it was thought she'd made up the attic. A sad sad story - turned mythic, epic, universal by a piece of fiction -is that what novelists are all (vainly) hoping for? Dream on Granny. But I guess the real story is sadder. It always is. Reader, I didn't marry him.

As for NHS psychiatric wards. Oh God.

Granny yesterday also did what Grannies are supposed to do. Delectable smells and flavours - cardomum, lemon, walnuts - maybe when feeling kind she will copy out the recipe and blog it. No time now. Lame (and aged) cousin with new girlfriend - both Spanish and a travel agent - turning up on Wednesday. House has to be purged of grot - not just insects. Agent could, might, send Granny and Beloved punters.... They cannot afford to send her home fleabitten.
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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Yummy Mummy.

Flea is still among those present......

Eyeing her bitten feet last night, Granny says: thoughtfully. 'The only part of my anatomy that I've really liked are (is?) my feet.' A thought evoked by lunch with the Bottle Blondshell whose much more decorated tootsies are not the best part of her otherwise far more desirable anatomy. Beloved, a man to whom vanity is a total mystery, says in a puzzled voice 'But why should it matter what your feet look like?' Adds, later- he's often said this; 'It's what's above the neck that matters.'

He's totally unfazed by his own looks. (Alright, actually.) He always has been, according to his family. Granny is sort of envious. Sort of not. Vanity can be fun. Bless him all the same. (Maybe it doesn't matter then that lack of the swimming pool is turning her flabby? It does to her. Vanity oh vanity. )

Saturday morning: CD review on radio 3, apart from mysterious blips when internet connection gets cut for no apparent reason. Beloved off for morning. Granny, ignoring battlefield which is kitchen (Beloved uses a lot of saucepans, and doesn't think wiping stove after culinary marathon is necessary) has nothing to do but write. Sun is out, weeds a-growing. Bliss.

Friday, December 03, 2004

A heron flew over

Yes: close down over this house - granny's and beloved's house - on their desert island, around lunchtime yesterday, as it was beginning to rain. It made Granny's day. What strange things can lift you - equally strange can knock you down. (Like mysterious disappearance of ancient but much loved brown shoes from Hobbes. How can they disappear? - only two or three places where they could be. They aren't there!!!)

From distance, land looks arid as ever. Close up little miraculous green shoots and leaves are coming. Miracle of a dry land. Snails know it; they are appearing from nowhere, stuck to walls and fences.

Actionman has done his job. His dog tried to savage granny in her own house. His wife brought a Christmas present - some kind of aromatic oil in a bag with a Father Christmas on it. Christmas??? What's that???
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Thursday, December 02, 2004

Whoopee..false alarm. German Actionman coming tomorrow. Granny celebrates by walking dogs round land, putting up now resident pair of hoopoes and a covy (bevy) (flight) (chatter) of local sparrows. Atlantic weather these days with wind from west; clear early, cloud building up, dumping rain, retreating again as sun heats, building up again later. A comfortingly familiar pattern to exile from another Atlantic island. The wide, drifting Atlantic skies ditto. Sometimes, homesick, granny repudiates the landscape out of her writing window across which the sky shifts its light and dark - it's much too subtle to look good in photos or paintings. But she never gets tired of it.

INSECT TALES. Hurriedly though - Granny caught today between very big and very small. Very big is German handyman, cross between Actionman and Frankenstein's monster who is coming to fit a door in the kitchen next to where Granny works. Neither the banging nor Actionman's presence conducive to anything. Yery small is fact that despite vast amounts spent on flea prevention in dogs and feline, one of them seems to have by-passed the prevention and has become infested - worse, a flea has moved on to colonise granny who is now covered in red spots and itches. 'Must mean you've still got some oestregen,' says Beloved (Not helpful.) Adding that women's cleavage used to be used as flea traps because of fleas' liking for this hormone. (Oh dear.) 'Try scrubbing yourself with anti-flea dog shampoo' he says. Granny not impressed by this either, thinks offered remedy worse than affliction so will content herself with removing all clothes and dumping them in wash and immersing herself in bath with tea-tree oil. Then we'll see. (An excuse to have a bath anyway. She feels guilty about it here, given the lack of water. )

Having animals, children seems to lay you open to such things. Granny caught headlice once from eldest granddaughter - the ultimate in grandparently experience... tho' she was better off she discovered than Georges Sand who caught a bad case of whooping-cough from her grandchildren. Long after her liaison with Chopin fortunately.

Furiously barking dogs probably means arrive of Actionman.

Barking false alarm: good. Locusts are in retreat. Only 4 seen on land yesterday. However this island seems to have got off lightly compared to next door island - pictures on TV news of people running in clouds of them, beaches, roads etc carpeted with little red bodies. All too tired to eat though (a sweet picture somehow) so no damage done, and no sprays used, unlike here where, up north, they sprayed galleons of insecticide; another remedy worse than the disease, particularly as it seems to have been unnecessary; poor things all dying of exhaustion anyway.

A rather sleepless granny these days empathises; will head for her bath and maybe fall into bed for a while. Good. Beloved off for the morning; lucky him.

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