Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Dogged planting. Pools of water on track, man and woman out with plastic bucket at dusk, planting up already. Local warbler - spectacled - thinks it's time to sing. Cool is back too - means better sleeping. Clouds heavy with rain. Drop it. House will leak - all houses do here. Never mind.

Granny's resolutions for winter:
1) get into this (blogging) system properly, technologically speaking; put on more photos, add a profile, links, etc, etc.
2) Finish book - climax fast approaching - a dreaded moment: not least it means, shortly, reading the whole thing through. Other people's prose - like other people's food - always tastes much better; fresher.
3) buy chocolate and finish coating over-dried so chewy candied peel...

It's rained at last! (Therefore wiping out satellite connection. Let it.) Bottom of land now deep puddle, which is sign of proper rain here. This seems to have done for locusts too. No sign of any during morning tramp round except for one drowned-looking specimen being roughed up by Beautiful Wimp. Turns out our local infestation was minor. Elsewhere - eg in Bottle-Blondshell's garden - whole swarms flew in, settled; this freaked-out BBs, predictably; she is not attuned to the fascination and beauty of them. Meanwhile Canary Island admin had lined up heavy duty sprayers etc to prevent us turning into Mauretania. Rain and return to (relative) cold should have pre-empted that.

Granny and Beloved have been suffering from sleeplessness; hence blog silence . Yesterday was wipe-out day. Last night dormadina (good sleeping-pill available over the counter here, like every other prescription-only pharmaceutical wonder; odd that) sorted them. Granny woke up at one point with inextinguishable giggles over events of dream she can't now remember, thereby driving Beloved to bed downstairs.

She spent much of yesterday finishing Alan Hollingsworth's Booker winner 'The Line of Beauty' - she nearly gave up on it at first - sensitive analysis of callow youth's first love too boring too wrestle with - gay version much like anything else, give or take the orifices used. (What with all that and the endless lines of Coke, doubt if this book will be big in Texas. One of Grannyp's books was banned there once too. A matter of deep pride. As was the bans imposed in the old South Africa on other books of hers, for a) obscenity, and b) blasphemy). But the brilliant and bitterly funny social analyses of 80's London caught her bit by bit - and in the end the descriptions of f.l more than justified themselves given that AIDS was the background and main metaphor throughout.

Has there ever been a better description of Margaret Thatcher?

'she came in at her gracious scuttle, with its hint of a long-suppressed embarrassment, of clumsiness transmuted into power....The high hall mirrors welcomed her, and in it the faces of the welcomers, some of whom, grand though they were, had a look beyond pride, a kind of rapture, that was bold and shy at once. She seemed pleased by the attention, and countered it cheerfully and practically like modern royalty....'

Later on, the behaviour of her male courtiers is described as ' heterosexual queenery.' Also brilliant. At best this book is as fine - and bitter - and sad - as The Way We Live Now.

(Why the lady was so dangerously unassailable for so long, of course, was the reason Bush is. They believe(d) unshakeably they were (are) right.)

Technical problems remain unresolved; but granny has managed to restore internet access to pre 'por telefonica' state, so that it no longer blocks access to bank statements and the Independent Easy Crossword. etc etc. No more bondage either.

More rain promised. Good. Grannyp

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Two steps forward, three back. Try re-installing the phone, advises Beloved. Granny does. She had got system acknowledging existance of new hardware, if still refusing to dial up from it. Now once more it cries 'telefono no existe.' Her only achievement is that Internet Explorer has started claiming to be 'proporcionado por Telefonica.' And offers 'Hotmail gratuito' - and 'Personalizar vinculos' - both of which sound faintly pornographic - anyone for bondage then? Give up. Remain at snail's pace , in the technological dark ages. Lie in wait for some unwary computer nerd and set them to it.

Maybe it's the locusts jinxing things - little red devils with bright eyes and flighty habits erupting white winged from the ever deader landscape where noone these days bothers to work. They swivel and blow and fall to earth suddenly, plop, like dead souls. Terrible terrier caught one and spat it out. She and Beautiful Wimp then found a dead goat and rolled in it, so were banned from the house for the night, leaving Feline Houdini to rule all by himself OK. He caught a mouse to celebrate. Death everywhere these days. Wind now south, still furious, if no longer locust bearing. Rain promised for tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, November 26, 2004

The locusts have landed. A few on Granny's land; many more further down the hill when she walked the dogs. Last year, in March, they were pink or yellow. This year they are all RED. She will have to investigate this. They fly like little birds. They are indecently large for insects. She has changed her mind about the merits of a plague. Not only her plants decimated but everyone's. They work hard for them here.

Technology a little further advanced. But still not connected. Beloved is ever more elaborately cooking.

Locusts have arrived at the airport. Fortunately their plane did not also land up here.....The Handsomes down on the eastern plain have found some - 'what's this?' screamed Mrs H, entering pursued not by bear but large yellow insect. There aren't any on Granny's land: yet; maybe there won't be. Landings due to the strong East wind yesterday - the Calima (almost certainly a corruption of Spanish 'calina' meaning 'haze'.) Yesterday the islands weren't visible, the volcanoes veiled, the sky murky and you could smell the dust in the air. Today the wind is still furious but south-east, so all is clearer and sunnier.

Granny looks up locusts in handy reference book, wondering whether the visitors might breed and swarm (there have been plagues of locusts here in the past.) She ends up none the wiser as to breeding: but definitely awed.

'The houses in Southern Russia had to be closed in 1879/80 in order to keep the masses of insects outside; the streets were impassable. Elsewhere it was necessary to filter tthe water, because canals and streams were full of dead locusts. Even the ovens were stuffed with masses of locusts, so that noone could bake bread. The railroad trains in the Don steppes ceased to travel; the rails were so well lubricated by the bodies of insects that the wheels had no traction."

Well, even given the disappearance of bread ovens here and lack of trains, that should do a lot for local tourist trade.

(According to same book locusts only swarm when over-populated. This, the author suggests darkly, might have implications for over-population of human beings.)

Granny's feelings are mixed as to outcomes. Horror at thought of her garden being decimated is one thing. But she is still mildly curious to know what it would really be like to experience such a biblical plague. Locusts are strange and interesting creatures. Beloved daughter used to be in charge of her school locusts in the holidays; they lived in a cage in her bedroom. But caged locusts are one thing. When they fly in the haze or half-dark - as they did last year after another series of calimas - they are creepy - the air is full of little ghostly rattles.

Telefonica engineer reappeared, amazingly. This must be a record. Even though he couldn't fix the problem -it's origin was in Madrid- Madrid in due course could and did. Granny can now write her blog without disabling the phone. He brought, though, a new phone to accelerate the connection process. Granny has been trying to instal this ever since - in vain; automatic installation process could only be done when using a serial port, while her system works with USB connections meaning it has to be done manually. By the time she had indentified this problem she had succeeded in getting rid of the driver for the new modem. Heigh ho. The wonders of technology are by no means equal to the horrors. In this case exacerbated by all instructions being in Spanish. Around 6 hours work and all for bloody nothing.

She rings Telefonica for help - first is connected to Broadband helpline and told she isn't registered for it. (She knows.) Goes back to Telefonica and is told her system cannot be used where she lives. (So why's she been given it?) Deadlock.

Contemplate enlisting help of expensive engineer. (Last one who came took two hours discovering that system to be connected was defective; charged 80 euros for information and went away.) So now what? Revert to old system. New phone sits reproachfully, alongside Feline Houdini, on Granny's desk. Grannyp

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Rattle, bang, rattle. Wind is back. Yesterday it was easterly and warmish. Today has returned to easterly but much more furious. Birds blown about, wispy cloud blown about, granny blown about. Much more of this and the locusts will be blown our way from Mauretania. And then what? Even on an island the world catches up with us - we have our very own mafia according to the chief carer. They organise the beating up of helpless but rich ancients like the Texan millionairess, the Attic Woman's housemate.

In any case, a mere 40 miles of choppy sea separates our island from Africa - on the far side of which Americans are beating up Iraqis and Iraqis are beating up each other, the limbs of the wretched Margaret Hassan are thrown to the dogs like Jezebel's, and children are denied access to hospitals and painkillers. Get on the internet and read all about it. Even get the horrid pics and videos if you want. 'The new theatre of cruelty' says granny's journalist friend on the phone last night.

What a world. Still Biblical and Koranic cruelties. Nothing changes; even in rock pools. All sides end up dead. And most likely not in any non-existent heaven. (An octopus heaven? Heavens!)

4 small ripe figs from one of her trees another sign of the strangeness of the world this year; a third if not fourth crop, though small. Granny sinks her teeth into the sweetness of one fig, and tries to forget yet another restless night contemplating horrors. Rain is forecast next week at last. Good.

Beloved is experimenting with bread. Yesterday the bread had cardomum in. Today coriander. Granny points out it doesn't go well with breakfast marmalade. 'I don't eat marmalade' says Beloved. Of course not; he's diabetic. Granny is not diabetic and when she doesn't breakfast off healthy muesli quite likes the taste of her own, very dark, very bitter marmalade - made with Seville oranges carted from London - but not when offset by cardomum; or coriander. Let alone chilli..

Wonder of wonder, Telefonica came yesterday as promised. Only problem: they couldn't sort the problem and went away again. Granny still cuts off her phone by writing this. Grannyp

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Jacobean drama comes to the rockpool. Granny too disheartened to write about it all yesterday.

Octopus' pearly colour nothing to do with happiness. Was actually a deathly pallor. Having polished off crab, an attempted hit on sea cucumber appears to have poisoned him. Around four in the afternoon, the peaceful if pallid el senor Pulpo popped his many clogs. Granny realised it when she saw a gobie trying to eat one tentacle, not a liberty likely to be permitted by live octopus. After removing the corpse from tank, Beloved and Granny noticed that the sea cucumber too was in a bad way, from combating its would-be predator. His corpse too has been removed. Tank just like the Duchess of Malfi except for the lack of dying soliloquies -all protagonists dead on stage. Gobies and hermit crabs play the role of cynical survivors.

This of course what you have to call (yuk) a 'earning experience' - what you can and can't keep in the same rockpool. No comfort to dead animalitos though. Even if they can be replaced. Granny made a start on refilling tank yesterday on visit to swimmable beach at low tide where many hermits lurk on the rocks. Lacking bag, jar, net, she had to shove them down her swimming costume and swim back with little claws of hermits scrabbling round her bare tits rare, not to say interesting sensation. (Men lacking upper swim wear might face still a more interesting one. Beloved does not try it.)

Beloved by the way disputes theory about changing colours. What about people turning pale, going red, getting blue with cold? he says. When Granny protests that these are physiological states not 'moods' he says moods are physiological states. Granny feels there's a difference but hasn't the knowledge or language to combat this. She and Beloved are always running into such semantic and othewise problems. Inevitable, with the two cultures co-existing (if happily) under the same roof.

Still sun sun sun. Minimal cloud. Cleaner Nieves too is complaining. 'Mucho pulvo' - dust - she says, it's given her four year old swollen glands. Noone planting. Including us. Our newly planted vines seem to have given up the ghost. (Unless the rabbits ate the leaves, which is possible.)

Dishwasher is going wrong. Telephone is going wrong - being on the internet cuts off telephone line. Wonder of wonders, reporting latter problem this morning has brought a flurry of phone calls from usually reluctant local engineers: one says he's appearing; any minute. We'll see. Radio Classica meantime seems to have given this island a much stronger signal. Granny is now listening to Death and the Maiden without accompanying fades and buzzes. GREAT. Grannyp


Monday, November 22, 2004

What news? Octopus, for instance? Crab? WAIT.

1) There are no flies around. Or mice.(Global warming?)

2)In our rainy season, no clouds, little wind, no rain. Sun sun sun. (Also global warming?) Noone is yet planting.

3) Tiresome terrier has rooted up half granny's carefully cultivated nasturtiums in search of lizards; she is in disgrace.

4) Granny's first batch of candied peel is drying out in the oven (beware anyone who turns it up. Beloved please note.) The second lot is boiled up, awaits its sugaring. Impatiently; no doubt. It all, still, smells nice.

5) The swimming-pool frequented by Granny and Beloved is closed till late December. (How will they keep their aged limbs from creaking?)

6) THE OCTOPUS HAS EATEN THE CRAB. Was found this morning cosied up besides the crab shell. Had also been at the sea cucumber, judging by the little flower which had opened to its rear and through which its guts etc had been extruded - little translucent swollen strands of stuff that Beloved removed with tongs. Strange habits sea creatures have. It would be ?speciest to consider them nasty. This one protects sea cucumbers from harm so isn't nasty for it.

Octopus meantime sprawls, looking sated. Eyes open for a while; now shut. He has completely changed colour - is a delicate pearly grey, bluish in places, almost pink in others. This maybe because he's lying on pale sand instead of hiding under black plastic. (He was blackish before.) Also, maybe, because, no longer hungry, he's happier. Octopus do change colour with mood according to Beloved's acquarium bible. Granny likes this. Animal man Beloved would scoff at notion of happiness as such in animals. Still a pink and blue octopus when well fed? Suppose we - humans - did the same? Does our use of colour names for mood 'in the pink' 'blue' etc reflects some atavistic memory of evolution from invertebrates? Beloved, the scientist, would indoubtedly call this, too, crude thinking; never mind. Granny does not propose to let such practicalities inhibit her.

The carnage in our tank, though, makes her reflect on discussion in another blog, around ethics of hunting, killing animals, eating meat etc. She can hardly take a moral highline can she, as long as she allows nature red in tooth and claw to flourish in her (and her Beloved's) kitchen?

How come it's taken till her downhill plod towards the grave to discover the (morbid? no not morbid) fascination of all this? Grannyp

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Crab still untouched. It lurks unhappily on rocks at far end of tank, his former hidey-hole now inhabited by the octopus, el senor Pulpo. Granny thinks crab survives because too big for octopus to manage. Beloved says 'wait and see.' El senor came out once this morning when offered half a baby squid. Has not eaten it, though it looks like crab did make a meal of the other half. Octopus' head is hidden now. Previously the little jutting part of the head with eyes on stuck out. Eyes closed - dark slits in round white eyeballs. When octopus investigated squid they were open and dark. It is such a beautiful creature in its monstrous way. As with last octopus that got suffocated by powercut - a problem with tanks here - granny finds it hard to do anything but watch it. Same applies to anyone else who visits. Beloved, the animal scientist, once shared a laboratory with the octopus researchers so he knows a bit, and is (a little) more blase.

Esoteric information for anyone who wants it:
1) octopus ink is lethal for everything else, so you have to be careful not to alarm them enough to release it.
2) Octopus urine is very strong; this means seawater has to be changed more often to avoid amoniacal deaths to other species.
3)Octopus are clever escapologists. Looking up information about them on the internet, granny happened on case of goldfish-fed one, which used to get out of its own tank, cross the floor to the goldfish tank, catch a fish and return home with it. This caused its two owners to fall out as both assumed the other was the reason for the inexplicable decline in goldfish population. We just keep the lid on our tank, firmly.

Beloved, currently, is opposite of lithe Senor Pulpo; has sore and swollen knee, is hobbling a bit. Granny urges him to sit around and do nothing. 'I don't know how to do nothing,' he complains sadly. Pity she's not the same, she thinks: she knows exactly how to do nothing - and enjoy it. Another difference between them. It applies especially now when she is trying to restart her book and finding it hard - like re-animating a dead rhinocerous. Any excuse for idleness is better. Getting back into a book is always like that: writing in general is rarely pleasant except in retrospect. (Why do it then? Because not doing it is worse. Silly answer to silly question.)

Weather continues glorious. Sunny, not too much wind, not hot either, just nice. Seems churlish of Granny to long for rain. But she does. Grannyp

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Today we have an octopus! Granny and Beloved needed fresh seawater for the kitchen rockpool, so went down to the once ghost village on the west coast (now taken over by locals at the weekend; who restore the houses, sit on the beach, play bolas, have barbecues; it was humming today.) Nieves on the beach with her children came over suddenly bearing a bucket plus octopus - occasionally they get stranded at low tide. Did we want it? We did. Octopus has now taken over crab's hiding place under the filter. The previously all powerful, all-devouring crab shows every sign of knowing that crab is an octopus' favourite snack; it's cowering at the top of the tank. Beloved and Granny are hoping that in fact it's too big for the octopus to manage - one this size last year was, though it polished off smaller ones.

The octopus has made one swift foray already - immediately retreated. If the crab is too big for him, the hermits will continue to suffer. If not the octopus had better enjoy his feast. Thereafter his diet will be frozen squid or shrimp. (By eyes if not hands on experience, Granny has learned a lot in the last year as to the diet of invertebrates. Octopus eat fish too. But everything seems to leave gobies and blennies alone. It must mean they don't taste nice. ) Grannyp

Friday, November 19, 2004

Frisky wind all day has died. Grannyp not so frisky by inclination, only necessity - it's been that sort of day - not quite dying thanks to an injection of malt whisky.

Morning: she went with Beloved to buy bookcase (at last.) Rest of morning spent sorting out ads (Craters and Rockpools..) for next year's poetry workshop to be run by Granny's dear poet friend, while Beloved and Handsome chopped other bookcases in half. Most of the afternoon she lugged books to now established bookcases- miraculously they all fitted in - for now.....Strange nostalgias caused by emergence of long-lost beloveds. Tatty Penguin edition of Anna Karenina eg, once carted round India, cannot possibly be thrown away. A mysterious large tome bound in blue turned out to be phD. thesis of dead twin - granny sat down on bunk beds acquired for her granddaughters and read hunk of it; feeling impressed -it's very authoritative - and sad, both. (Reading is inevitable part of sorting and putting away books. Granny thinks. Beloved doesn't; fortunately he was asleep at this stage..)

So many good old literary friends reappeared; but not all. How can books just disappear?? Lent? Lost? The rest are now all exiled here too like granny; - exile is condition she reflects on constantly but hasn't time to write about now. Beloved is cooking. (Again.) She has to scrape the flesh off yet more orange peel. Feline Houdini is daintily crunching up his cat chow, Tiresome Terrier creating outside. Beautiful Wimp shut out from kitchen while Feline Houdini eats, complains at gate between kitchen and dining-room, but not seriously. He may take the chance to take off and sit on the sofa next door (forbidden; it's white, foolishly.) Granny will shortly have to inspect.

Wind has swung round from north to south in the course of the day before disappearing- strange to see wispy cloud meaning storms in Atlantic which aren't going to come our way. Such signs in Granny's northerly island always mean trouble, not so here; though they can.

Northerly island. Sigh. On the other hand a whisky sitting in a hot tub in November watching the moon rise has its charms. Yesterday in London it rained eight hours without stopping. We could do with some more rain here, but not like that. Grannyp

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Out of granny's window now, this moment, a swathe of dark land - beyond white buildings sit brilliantly in sunlight, slowly turning pink; now fading altogether as the colours deepen in the sky. Sunset comes fast here to Granny's irredeemably northern eyes.

Odd sort of day. Lackadaisical, neither sun nor cloud concerned which won, half-hearted light, half-hearted shade. Cloud seemed to win in the end, but sun is making a come-back at the last minute. Granny spent large part of day down in main town, at post office (a lengthy process here, tho' today better than sometimes.) She had to send off Beloved's passport for an India visa which had to be done double express to make sure of it's not getting lost. Then lost herself in town - an ordinary Spanish town, not the least touristy, of which she is fond - the few tourists in shorts and t-shirts as usual, the locals huddled up in sweaters: it's always like this in winter, or coming winter. No grid system here, though, hence her erratic process. Got back to find books everywhere, various bookcases having been emptied in attempts at re-arrangement. (Unsuccessful. Still no new bookcases.) Also to find cheerful Mr and Mrs Handsome from Blackburn (things are very good..) insisting on taking her and Beloved out to lunch at local tapas place. Gambas al ajillo. B and G both falling asleep.

They are still suffering from re-entry problems somewhat. Beloved claims he hasn't any, doesn't even know what they are and sets to work as usual. Just the same he looks wearier than usual. Granny continues to drifts, vaguely. Does what she has to. Orange peels are boiling behind her - at least she's begun on that. The scent of them fills the kitchen - closely related to hot marmalade, one of her favourite smells. It's almost worth the efforts to come.

Clouds now brilliant pink; sky behind the islands purple.

Realise that November here is like September back in England; the time the year turns, an end and a beginning.

Beautiful Wimp has very nearly learned to walk to heel. Good. Give or take the odd lunge after passing motorcyclists. Not so good. But he will learn.

Cries of anguish behind - Beloved has thrown what turns out to be sugared Greek yoghourt into his aubergines. All Granny's fault - she brought it. Whoever does put sugar into Greek yoghourt? The Spanish, evidently. You have to look for a very small red mark on the packet and it's easily missed. Wth bi-focal contact lenses Granny can't put her failure entirely down to ageing sight, can she?

Enough. In the half-dark Granny and Beloved propose a brief sybaritic recline in the hot tub along with a glass of wine. The sunset has retreated to the west; is almost over.
Granny p

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

No picture today... Granny, despite complaints about cold, has been sitting in the sun, gently cooking.

Melancholy. Last night it was reported that the wretched Margaret Hassan had been murdered in Iraq (0nly comfort; she was not the mutilated corpse, nor beheaded; just shot. On the other hand there's no press coverage of the Polish woman, the mutilated one; no international cries of distress. Why?) In world of awful things, whether generated by Saddam, or G.Bush, or anyone else, why does one awful thing in particular seem to sum up all the rest? Granny didn't know MH, had barely heard of her before her capture, yet this gratuitous slaughter, by Iraqis, of someone not far off her own age, who spent her life working for Iraqis makes her weep, not to say despair. Haunted face of the husband begging for return of her body, images of his imprisoned, brutalised, terrified wife's lonely last weeks, before her as lonely dying, fill not only granny's head, for sure.

Back to more minor not to say mundane not to say unimportant matters. Running the Attic Woman's Care Home has its problems. Over the weekend no water, TV on the blink. (Chief Carer makes frantic calls to Granny in London, who does her best.) Problems resolved, water should flow from hereon in, but Handsome from Blackburn who deals with such technical things now seems to be upsetting carers. Another hassle.

Handsome on very good terms with his wife again, though. (He claims. Her version will be heard tomorrow.)

No bookshelves found - Beloved has been looking. Books still in boxes. Some loved ones mysteriously missing. Not sure what rather beautifully bound - gilded - mid-nineteenth century children's books from England can have to say in this landscape - but noone in London wanted to buy or even take them, and trashing books is not something Granny can manage. In future years her kids will not want to transport such gems of her library back to England, will most likely trash them then; it's all very perverse. But there you are. Book addicts. Equals shelf shortages.

To do: wash clothes. Boil up large amounts of orange peel, ready to make candied peel. (Tiresome.) Granny unfortunately has reputation for producing chocolate coated candied peel at Christmas which HAS TO BE KEPT UP. (Why does she let this happen?) Write book. (Ha.) Sort out ads for poetry course next year in very desirable location. (ie Granny and Beloved's house.) Make macaroni cheese. (Sudden nostalgia for standard and filling English dishes due to weather cooling.) Prepare bed in due course for Beloved's cousin, the one of umpteen lady friends, coming here - aged 70 odd- with yet another new one. Drive to see Attic Woman. Etc etc. To it. Granny p

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

2 weeks from the grave meets 6 weeks from birth Posted by Hello

On Sunday night, en route to their island, Beloved and Granny stay with Granny's brother down at the house alongside which her aged dad lived for fifteen not always happy years after losing his second wife, their stepmother. A family house - or it was. The final daughter has grown up, the marriage of her parents is over and the old man - thankfully for himself - is dead. House is cold and empty and full of the past. The baby is the first great-grandson from Granny's long-dead twinsister - only the second boy in a litany of girls (all of whom he adored but he is - was - of the generation that favoured males.) Granny feels thankful and sad both. The picture makes her laugh at one and the same time. The weeping is for all their pasts, for her twin sister, her old dad, her long-dead mum and for this baby, too, for whom what? when? A kind of desolate feeling always, amid the joy. Such little lives we have. And here Granny and her Beloved spend theirs miles from home. Looking out at pink and purple hills and blue and golden sky. Night fall over the islands. Beloved is cooking prawns - not G's favourite smell - though one of her favourite tastes. Baby now 6 months is with adoring parents in once insalubrious part of London (now more winebars by the week) twin sister and aged dad lie in cold earth and here B and G are ready to eat Moroccan food and light fires against the chilly evening. Strange really. Grannyp

Home again. Chilly by granny's standards - but not compared to London. Sun and cloud, hills greener after rains. birds all out. This morning the cheeky shrike sat almost besides granny, a pair of hoopoe pecked about the land beneath the bathroom window, flock of sparrows was here there everywhere. Plants also flourishing, ditto the kitchen rockpool where all species are still alive apart from hermit crabs and snails, mostly devoured by crab to judge from littered remains of their shells. Tiresome terrier and beautiful wimp back on site, still barking loudly with excitement. Feline Houdini who arrived with Granny and Beloved takes them and everything for granted, cool cat that he is. No sign of mice for him to catch. Good. No cockroaches either or flies. Autumn/winter has its merits. Last night granny and beloved lit their first fire. This morning the sitting-room still smells of woodsmoke.

The long-awaited shipment arrived in Granny's absence. There is now a book crisis. Beloved's search for bookcases this morning not successful. Books remain in boxes.

Back in London meanwhile, mouse tales continue. Beloved Goddaughter's mother declared last week, 'Nibble looks fat.' Granny going to investigate finds five little pink things in mousehouse. Nibble evidently no male, even if Chomp is. BG's mother mildly hysterical - running a mouse farm not on her agenda. Pet Shop merely declares 'Mistakes will happen,' and offers to take them back. Four days later Nibble still looking fat, BG's m reinspects mousehouse only to find a thinner Nibble and four or more new pink babies. 'Inevitable mistake' has happened twice over: mother number one was Chomp, evidently. At least it means same sex Chomp and Nibble can both remain with BG - living chastely from now on. Infants will be dispatched to pet shop.

So life starts again in all senses. Granny has that glazed sense of not quite achieved re-entry. Besides which she is COLD. (Considers putting on heaters - would that be too wimpish? Beloved not cold; he never is. Suit yourself, he says.) She has also had bad night, haunted by dreams of Margaret Hassan who if she is the mutilated corpse found in Falluja - noone is yet saying - has come to an especially awful end, courtesy, possibly, of Saddam's former torturers, getting in more practice. (This last is Granny's theory: nooone knows exactly who holds/held her.) Anyway, whoever the corpse turns out to be, it's terrible. Life is terrible. Better not to know such things - but how to avoid them in information-soaked world? (Information which Granny of course like everyone else can't stop herself looking for.)

Enough. This afternoon visit to Attic Woman. And search for bookcase. Grannyp

Friday, November 05, 2004

FIREWORKS. Yesterday granny bought two mice. Some compensation maybe for the rodent slaughter for which she - via feline Houdini - has been responsible on her Canary Island. Said mice were birthday present to Beloved Goddaughter aged 8, are now endlessly running round and round a wheel (doesn't that sound familiar to us, if not the 8 year old?) in a plastic cage next to her bed. Both male mice, no rodent farms required. I will call them, announced delighted BG, with all the solemnity of Adam in Eden, Chomp and Nibble. So there they are chomping and nibbling but not on granny's muesli, let alone granny's books. (The reason for the importation of Feline Houdini. The purloined muesli granny can live with; her books turned into mousebeds, no.) These mice at least will have no such diets or beds: also they are prettier and come with a book called GET TO KNOW YOUR MICE.

Canary Island seems a long way away, ditto Beloved - who is though flying into this one at such an ungodly hour of Sunday morning that he has been persuaded by Granny and his Beloved Daughter - with difficulty - to take a taxi rather than expect collection by either of them.

This much bigger island is in mourning. The Guardian second section yesterday gave over its whole front page to black. And the words; OH, GOD. Granny's email inbox is stuffed with despairing messages from American friends. The fireworks this evening, wails, bangs, shrieks, seem prescient - if also like the pet mice, much prettier than the feral version. Enough. We are weary. Grannyp

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

London: lacking in sleep. Email from friend in California just says SHIT!! So it is; four more years of bible bashers looking likely - planet goes to pot, ditto poor, middle-east stays unsorted, US and Israel cosying up together in search of Armegeddon, and worst of all in the short term will be days weeks months of Holy Rollers noisily thanking God - he's on our side!! etc. If so above mess is all god's fault, as is Granny's current crashing migraine, though sleepless night with telly might have helped. And poor sodding Margaret Hassan is likely to be handed over to the head cutters. Is that God's fault? Bush's, for sure. Not a happy morning, though some kind of sun is out. Grannyp

Monday, November 01, 2004

Yesterday was Halloween, today is All Saint's Day; tomorrow - November 2nd - is the Day of the Dead. Now at last w've got that sorted. Latter seems appropriate day for this year's US election. Granny's many ghosts will be walking tomorrow alongside candidates B&K.

B&K in her youth, of course, meant Bulganin and Krushchev - oh those long ago days when we were scared of nuclear bombs lobbed from without, rather than god knows what exploded suicidally within. (Is always being frightened of something a necessary componant of survival, she wonders. Or just a means of exerting political control? A fiendish alliance, possibly.) Granny's ghosts don't scare her: just make her a little sad; among them this year for the first time her so aged dad. Shame she can't put paper money on all their tombs, as in Chinese festival of hungry ghosts... that would lay them; assuming she wanted them laid. Problem is all her tombs are scattered and so very far away.

Last morning on this Canarian island for two whole weeks. To dislocation of clock change, summer to winter (t'other way about for Aussie sister) add change of homes. In each home she aches for the other. In London she will no longer to be woken by dogs in the night, only by cars and people outside the window. Light like shots in dark velvet, leaves on the ground. Here no leaves fall - light is stronger for being lower, wind cooler, that's all. And up in our high place, sun in early morning is quickly replaced by cloud; if we're lucky then again by sun. Maybe when granny returns in two weeks time the miraculous skin of green will have crept across the hills. Maybe - she's never sure of their dates - the pop pop of hunters will no longer be legal on Wednesdays Sundays and fiestas like today and feline Houdini will no longer have to be kept indoors in case hunting dogs mistake him for a rabbit.

A Catholic country is always having fiestas; nice if it means you don't have to work; not so nice if you run out of milk or fruit, the electricity fails or you are waiting for something to be delivered. Our load from UK still has not arrived. Tomorrow they say. Beloved will now have to deal with it alone. Granny meanwhile will be living it up with friends and minding small children. Merrily merrily. She had better go and pack.

In one supermarket here they have taken to selling someone's brand of 99% chocolate; a weird, severe, not to say penitential treat. 'Lay a small piece on your tongue' the packet urges. 'Let it melt.' And so it does, ever more seductively as you warm to the bitterness. 'Chocolate - cocoa - is addictive, that's all,' urges the scientist who granny loves. Whom she will be without for the next few days.

This last treat - being alone - she thinks is a bit like the chocolate treat; a guilty and bitter pleasure. Loving someone does not mean ceasing to enjoy your own company, and grabbing that with both hands if offered. (This last view of course cannot be offered to Beloved, who like most men cannot understand how someone can love you and yet want to be free of you, some - but not much - of the time. ) ENOUGH. Might post from London. Might not. Big tidy up now. Then off. Grannypx

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