Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com rockpool in the kitchen: 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005

Thursday, June 30, 2005

saint scan

Granny is fed up with Haloscan; it refuses to acknowledge existance of some comments, fails to mention others on emails. Some it doesn't recognise either way. And she's paid for it....What's up? She gathers others are disillusioned too; Mark G for one. But according to his experience, if she does eradicate it - hard - all your lovely words will be lost; including the ones its fails to acknowledge. So now what? (Come back, Blogger Comments. All is forgiven.)

BBC news website has just come up with this - I mean what an achievement... I thought it meant Everest at least. I suppose if you're a balloonist... 'Duck a l'orange at 24,000 feet sets a record'.... Seems, according to something else today, that now feeding/housing ourselves doesn't take up all our efforts we have a lot of time to work out how to boost our self esteem by other means. Granny can think of less elaborate, less pointless ways - like feeding 500,000,000 million with less high-flying (in all senses) dishes; but there you go.

Granny tastes sour today. Maybe it shows. She will sweeten things shortly by attempting a honey and saffron icecream from Claudia Roden's Mediterranean cookbook. She might report on the result. Whatever it is; a 'distinguished' author, after all, can come up with 'disappointing' recipes/ mss/ whatever you like. Interesting contrast if you think about it of the effect of putting 'dis' upfront. What's in a prefix?

Everything is as far as the prefixes - and suffixes - on official documents are concerned. Try operating without them in Spanish society - where you have to carry identification with you at all times. If you don't have ID plus driving licence when pulled up for traffic offence/accident they jail you. Hence it WAS very nice of whoever ran off with Beloved and BBD's bags to put his residence card, driving licence etc in place from which they were likely to make their way home.

Second attempt to locate postman in northern town was otherwise as abortive as the first. Not because this time he - unlike his car his onions his coil of old rope - wasn't there. He was. But not the bags or their more financially valuable contents. The documents, neatly enfolded in Beloved's spectacle case - minus spectacles - had been dumped, the postman said, in the post box outside his this time open door. A kind of honour among thieves you might think. Camera, mobile, specs, sunspecs etc happily appropriated he had time to think about the inconvenience to his victims of their lack of official ID, all of it useless to him. Their non-reappearance would have entailed granny, as official, if not very good, translator, in hanging around a lot more official offices with not always obvious opening times. She is grateful, at least.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


The thing is - seems to be - that Granny is lacking in/has run out of steam/steam has run out of her. She could write an acute observation of animal behaviour - the dynamics of the chicken run - a bit like a class of little girls - best friends, bullies, soulful outsiders, smartypants(s) etc etc. She won't. She could write a piece of humorous local observation about search for Post Office and its minder in northern town with Saturday market where Beloved's and Beloved's daughter's bags were lost 10 days ago and from which documents out of said bags reappeared mysteriously by post, yesterday. Were bags at Post Office then? Who knows. Postman wasn't at Post Office in defiance of stated hours of opening. Sundry, toothless locals informed them in accents even more indecipherable than those on rest of island 'this is his car, those are his onions etc. He's delivering mail/ should be back soon.' (Postman lives on site, evidently plus garden; if picture in your head spoke English rural post office boot it out.) Sundry other equally frustrated customers came and went. So did Granny and Beloved eventually. But that's all she's going to say about it. She could do a weather report -last week's haze and warm, good for hammock, replaced by brilliant light/sun, cold wind, not good for hammock - but that's it. Sorry. Manana. Perhaps. Or perhaps not. Maybe the smoke from the fires of the festival of St John last week (Spanish equivalent of bonfire night; pagan midsummer festival with Christian trappings) have addled her brain. Or maybe not.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

bad smells before breakfast

Every winter morning when Granny was a child she used to come downstairs to breakfast to find her dad opening up the bottom oven of the Aga and heaving out the saucepan in which he cooked his chicken food. She can't remember what was in it; old veggies probably, left-over scraps of this and that. All she does know is that it STANK. And that nothing would persuade him to wait till after breakfast to do this, ever. They had to sit and eat (a full English breakfast too, this was insisted on, from cornflakes through egg, bacon, etc to toast, cooked by him) amid the lingering reek; intensified by the time he took to mash it all up and add meal. Also, amid the cold air he left behind him when he opened the door to the garden to take the feed out to the chickens. This at least got rid of some of the smell, but by no means all.

Granny came into the kitchen this morning to find another bad smell. One of the worst perpetrated by Beloved - boiled up prawnshells. 'Couldn't you wait till after breakfast?' she asks him. 'No' he says, 'It's for the chickens.' 'Lucky them', she says. And retreats into the office. Which is why she is now in here writing this, instead of making coffee. Not in the best of tempers. The wind blows, the cloud cover is down, her arm aches. Across neighbouring fields they've been picking up onions. The agaves over the wall have produced a small forest this year. Any minute now the flowers on the arms of the trees will be bright yellow. Now they are still a fluorescent green.

Beloved takes watercress out of the fridge. 'They must grow this on Tenerife.' he says. 'There's running water there.' RUNNING WATER!! Granny has a brief but agonised moment of longing. Green fields, dark water, standing up to your knees in the eddies with a net, trying to catch minnows.... Though, come to think of it, mud between her toes might no longer seem for her the most desirable of sensations - and what's minnow when you can catch shrimps; or octopus? No more would she yearn to experience again the smell of her Dad's chicken food. But on this dry, cactus-breeding island she does miss the sound of running streams. (She COULD call them 'babbling brooks.' But after nearly 3 hours last night of listening, via the internet, to Andrew Murray's match on Radio Five Live, she defers to those masters, those ph.d doctorates of cliche, of mixed metaphor, the tennis commentators - Max Robertson where are you? - and does not seek to compete.)

She will now try to obliterate the boiled up prawnshells with the smell of coffee. Not quite heaven, more like addiction. It will do for now.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Dead mothers; grieving children

It’s not just the sins of the fathers that get visited on following generations. In Granny’s experience, the deaths of the mothers are dumped on them still harder.

In previous generation this was of course much more common than now. Before the twentieth century few women lived long enough to be grandmothers. Too many of them died in childbirth, or else worn out by overwork. But Granny’s family has seen the story persist.

About one early death she only learned recently, with the help of the internet and the British Library. That is the death of her great grandmother, Frances, aged 31, when her grandmother was only 9. (Frances had lost her mother, aged 48, eight years before – but at least she was more or less grown up by then, unlike her younger sisters. But that is another story.) The reason Granny knew so little about any of this – till her research she did not even know her great grandmother’s name – was that her grandfather – Granny’s great grandfather – took a second wife, an American called Betty, who did her best to obliterate the previous marriage and its one offspring, Granny’s grandmother. After her stepdaughter’s death she even succeeded in persuading her husband to remove the equal billing given, in his will, to his son by her and the daughter from his first marriage – and, after her death, to her children, his grandchildren, Granny’s mother and aunt. (But for that Granny's mother would have been a rich woman; so might she be; richer anyway. Not that it matters.)

The American did more than that. Granny’s great grandfather was a notable enough man - an MP, among other things. Finding him in the records is not difficult. Yet not one of them refers to his first marriage, to his daughter, let alone to his descendents by her, only to his second wife and her son and granddaughter. (This son, Granny, must add, paid her mother’s wedding. Big deal. Charity to a poor relation, who, but for his mother, wouldn’t have been.)

How to obliterate women from history in one easy lesson.

Her mother hated her American step-grandmother – and not simply for this. She seems to have been an unpleasant woman altogether. But she did tell Granny one astonishing fact about her; that she NEVER IN HER WHOLE LIFE WASHED HER HAIR. Instead, every night and every morning, for half an hour, she had it brushed by her maid, thereby saving a great deal on soap (shampoo didn’t exist then.) The hair-brushing maid would have had the job anyway. She would have been paid a lot less no doubt than we spend on our hair now. Still, reader; take this advice. If you want to save on the wages of the maid, let alone on the stuff that can give you more than one orgasm if you use it right (according to one recent commercial)BRUSH YOUR OWN HAIR HALF AN HOUR EVERY MORNING AND EVERY NIGHT.

(It is too late for Granny to act on her own advice. As the man who has cut her hair for more than fifteen years suggests, delicately, her hair has aged along with her; it is no longer so straight or dark or thick, the natural reddish tints have all gone. Some grey has crept in even if brown still predominates. Even if she cheats and paints most of the grey out one way or another. Oh the glory days; gone without her realising that they had, for her hair, been glory days. It is cut short now. She will stick with Herbal Hair Health: or whatever it is called; even though she doubts if it will have the same effect on her as the young woman in the commercial. Those glory days too are not quite what they were. As for her step-great grandmother – she’s long dead; she has no idea if her hair retained its youth the better with all that brushing.)

Still, retrospectively, she mourns for her grandmother, made motherless, aged 9. By 1891 according to that year's census, she has been banished, aged 14 to a boarding establishment in Brighton run by three spinster sisters who gave her a no doubt genteel education – sewing and a little French – along with 15 girls of a similar age. Her father, stepmother and infant half-brother lived an hour or so’s coach drive away. Clearly she was not wanted. What happened to her between then and her marriage in 1904 aged 27, Granny has not been able to establish. Nor probably will she ever be able to. All she has of her from that time is a portrait painted of her in her early 20's, wearing a blue-green dress and looking ridiculously young for a grandmother, which still hangs on her own wall. (This picture went to Granny's sister in Australia for a while. The Australian customs, told it was a picture of her grandmother, lost it for several weeks; 'it doesn't look like a grandmother,' they protested. They are not the only people to forget that all grandmothers were once young women,)

Granny does know what happened to her grandmother after. Happily married to a naval officer, living in a naval town, she gave birth to little two little girls. From then on ‘Mother’ is the only name she allows herself in the captions to family photos. This is the more ironic in that she only was a mother for six years. Aged 36, pregnant with her third child she fell downstairs and died along with the baby - a longed for son. Granny’s mother was 3 and her elder sister 6 at the time. The carefully kept albums of their childhood end abruptly in blank pages. More motherless children. It goes on.

It's a bit like watching a tragedy on stage. You know the inevitable ending - yet still you find yourself saying under your breath, 'Desdemona don't drop the handkerchief...' When Granny thinks of her grandmother she sees her at the top of the stairs - transposed to the little house with a very steep staircase that she once lived in herself. 'Don't fall,' she hisses to her grandmother. 'Keep your footing, LIVE.' All in vain, obviously. She often wonders what her family's life have been had her grandmother not slipped that day. Granny herself wouldn't be here most likely. She doesn't know for sure if that's any consolation. For her mother and grandmother most probably not. As for the baby - he'd have been just the age to be sent to fight in the second world war. Maybe he was better off then. Or maybe not.


Thursday, June 23, 2005


Heaven is: hot sun, cool breeze, strategic shade, a good book and A HAMMOCK.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


This blog has two functions - one is to send news to Granny's family and friends - the other to communicate more generally - giving her the chance to try out new writing - pieces about the past - etc. Very often these functions coincide. Sometimes, though, she is aware that a more general audience might find practical updates boring; sorry about that. They can always switch over to more inviting bloggers... please do!

Let's itemise it.

1.Flying visit of the BBD - Beloved's Beloved Daughter- here to catch up with them and her mother, the Attic Woman.
2. Much alcohol consumed in celebration. Hence G's hangover - see last post.
3. Visit planned to good Saturday market in the north of the island; the only place to buy organic vegetables, cheese etc. It was decided to take Attic Woman there for an outing.
4. All well and good; except that Beloved, loading the wheelchair into the truck, puts down his and BBD's bag - containing his residence card - both their driving licences - camera - mobile - credit cards etc etc and forgets to pick them up. When it is realised that bags are missing he rushes back to collect them; naturally the bags have gone. Granny reports loss in her best Spanish to friendly lurking Local Policeman who takes her phone number etc, but says all has to be reported to the Guardia Civil, because if the bags are found, they can't be returned unless the requisite piece of paper is produced. When they do report to the local Guardia - as requested - the representative - sitting at his desk and taking phonecalls throughout - professes bafflement - it's nothing to do with him, he says, there has to be a crime reported, a 'denuncia'. Stalemate. Beloved is going to the central Guardia Civil today plus Handsome, whose Spanish is rather better than Granny's. At least he understands the Lanzarote accent. They will express suspicion that bags have been stolen. This may help.
5. Beloved's bad back - which had recovered by this time - promptly relapses because of the above stress; problem is added to exponentially by instant worry about bad back. Added to still more by bombshell yesterday from a morose Mr Handsome.
6. His proposed 'amicable separation' from Mrs Handsome is turning out far from amicable. As a result he is considering leaving the island altogether. This is by no means certain, but more than possible - he admits he 'knows where he'll go when/if he does.' Granny suspects he is thinking of setting up house with partner in last year's shenanigan. She can't be sure, he's not saying. Not a good idea anyway. Granny and Beloved throw round all the cliches; 'out of the frying pan into the fire', 'don't throw the baby out with the bathwater' - 'look before you leap.' etc etc. (Very useful cliches these; much less dangerous - less liable to be misinterpreted and so on -than newly coined ones. In such circumstances, literary skill/veracity is not a requirement. Quite the reverse.)
7. All ways round, if Handsome does decide to leave G and B will have problems running this place.... who will feed the chooks, for instance, when they are away? Who will fix roof etc, lug things Beloved can't (see above.) (Handsome has demonstrated his extreme usefulness this very morning showing Granny how to get in and out of her hammock without doing herself a mischief. Actually this is one thing she could have worked out for herself. Never mind.
7. Beloved is going to have do some marital arbitration. The thought of this is not doing his back any good either. Better him than Granny, it was decided - Handsome's tendency to MCPigness (pigs maligned yet again, sorry, pigs) is liable to get her hot under the collar at wrong moment. Beloved does neutral better.
8. Granny is 'hot under the collar' all too literally. Sore arm has revealed itself as recurrence of many years past neck problems. She currently sits with a bag of frozen broad beans on affected part and is stuffing herself with Ibufren. Neck problem no worse anyway and if she can continue this way she should persuade it to go away altogether. Meantime the air of the farm resounds with groans - stifled by Beloved - not at all stifled by Granny - if they happen to make the wrong kinds of movements...
9. Cloudy weekend - poor BBD, misses the first English heatwave, then gets onto the plane here just as cloud and gloom is succeeded by sun and warmth.

Granny is aware that all the above problems are just life and nothing like the real miseries in the world generally. She is also made aware - all over again - how nothing ever stays the same; how the world, socially as otherwise is continually changing; people coming, people going, relationships shifting minute to minute. Births marriages deaths tack things down briefly, along with reversing them. HANG ONTO THE MOMENT. What else can you do? Ever.

It all changes in Blogland, no less.One blogger ceases to write, another goes away on holiday, a third succumbs to depression, a fourth separates from her partner. No good expecting even virtual things to stay the same. Your virtual, after all, is someone else's actual.

The chooks meantime - in case you were wondering - continue to grow and flourish. Chicken relationships too keep shifting. Cora of the white tail is definitely turning herself into top chook. All of them stalk around like kings raising their feet high -when they are not running round like old women, low-slung, bottoms wagging. The sparrows continue to hop about their feet and steal their food. Granny is happy that over the years she and Beloved seem to have created an ever-growing flock of sparrows. (Not to mention a passion flower-plant roosting shrike.)

A pair of ring-doves join the chook food larceny, if rather more discreetly. In betweenwhiles they fly up on to the new agave spikes on the other side of the wall and sit cooing quietly. Such a lovely calming sound when far enough away, as opposed to on your roof when you're trying to work or sleep. Grab it, Granny. (She's trying.)

Saturday, June 18, 2005


Granny lying in bed with hangover came up with this.

The trade winds do blow
The rains do not flow
So what do the sparrows do then,
Poor things?
To keep themselves fed
They nick corn and veg
From under the chooks' very wings,
Poor things.

Should she apologise for this?

Even though it's true?


Friday, June 17, 2005

Not Spanish fly..

Spanish fly some kind of VD I think.... no this post isn't about that, just some other curiosities of Spanish/Canarian life. (Though she divides them, most of the below apply to both, as far as Granny can tell.)

Camino Cortado. Otherwise known as 'road closed.' This can happen for all kinds of reasons - visit of local bigwig, fiesta, digging up of pipes... now and then it appears to be just for the hell of it. What all have in common is that warning is rarely if ever provided in advance, to enable you to take an alternative route; nor are diversions are signed. You just have to head off into the unknown and hope you can find your way back onto a route which will get you where you were trying to get to in the first place... The problem is somewhat less acute on this island than on the mainland - being an island, it's hard to get lost for long; directions are basically to the hills - or to the sea; else, simply, north, south, east, west. Via any of which you end up in the Atlantic Ocean if you don't stop. Also, thanks to tourists - lost tourists milling about can inconvenience locals - they do here offer alternative routes for longer-term roadworks. Longer-term as in LONGER-TERM; a road once dug up is often left for MONTHS. Granny was pleased to see that, at last, on the camino cortado currently inconveniencing her there was some sign of activity. (At least until siesta time when for four hours it all stopped dead.)

Planning laws. As in labyrinthine planning laws. You can do little, even on your own property without applying for expensive - and tortuously long in coming - permission. On the other hand if you go ahead blithely without permission - most people do - your come-uppance or not depends on the following;

1. Neighbour malice. If you upset your neighbours they may - they will - inform on you... In which case police will arrive and stop you building your toolshed, raising your wall, digging your swimming-pool. And if you persist action WILL BE TAKEN.

2. Whim. Sometimes the planning authorities - their local agents - will get you for what appears to be the hell of it. Or maybe because for once in a while they need to be seen to apply their own rules. Mostly they don't, because the people who sell you materials - bloques etc - are very often the people who run local affairs. The ironmonger here, for instance, was mayor for several years. It was not in his interests to block DIY, was it?

3. Influence. If you have influence (ie are rich, powerful, sell bloques, etc) you can get away with anything on this island. If you haven't, ploy is to cosy up to those who do. (Learning good Spanish helps.)

4. Bribery. This of course can backfire. But not if you have pull with the above. Present head of ruling party is in prison for corruption. Doubt if this harmed those who bribed him. They got away with what they wanted to get away with a long time ago.

Fiestas Frequent. At time it feels like once a week - often they celebrate saints too obscure to be heard of anywhere else. Everything shuts. (Very inconvenient if you don't know, have invited 10 people to dinner and left shopping till the day. You can get round this by heading for tourist resorts where the shops stay open. Unfortunately they tend to specialise in many varieties of German sausage, fish fingers, frozen pizza, etc, to cater for visitors; their vegetables - not a wide variety - can sell for the prices they might do in the far north of Norway in mid-winter. (10 euros for a cauliflower... yes, really.) If you have planned on recipes needing wide variety of local fish, spices, fresh chillies etc, forget it. (Unless you grow the latter of course.)

Organic or fairtrade anything. According to owner of nearest health food shop, the only places you get such things in Spain is either near the coast/on the islands: (foreign visitors/expats into such things) or in Catalonia or Basque country (both - coincidentally? - having some of the best and most interesting food in Spain.) The Castilians, she said - ferociously - obviously she was not Castilian - are not interested in anything like that. Canarians themselves aren't interested in such things either, she added. Evidently she is not a Canarian either. (This was obvious. Granny could understand her Spanish.)

Following unguarded (very unguarded) comment by Granny, Beloved is now muttering about raising rabbits. (As if they didn't already raise themselves, happily, all over their land.) Granny herself, meantime, is still proposing to write about chickens. Can you wait?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Good words

No: granny has nothing to say here herself; she just wants to recommend everybody read this. About the media. What it is to have an archbishop who is not only intelligent but prepared to sound it. A philosopher and poet who reads widely. Who does not resort to platitudinous generalisations about 'the British People,' but recognises the incorporated differences.

If anything makes Granny switch off it is that phrase: THE BRITISH PEOPLE. Not that she's above unfair generalisations herself; especially vis a vis representatives of the British People met round here: largely buyers of the Sun to judge by the British papers available on the International Press stands. Sun, Mail, Express, Star. Compare them with serious broadsheets offered all other nationalities... (not that the UK broadsheets are let off lightly either. Rowan Williams is compulsory reading. Please go there.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Old and dear friend from California added these about old age.

'Old age is not for sissies.' (Bette Davis. A sissy she WASN'T.)

And: '"old" is always 10 years older than you are now.'

This reminds granny of her dad aged 80 odd in a convalescent home alongside a lot of 70 odd year old women crying 'I never expected to find myself in a place with old ducks like this.'

Hung-over Granny and Beloved defied their age - old or young- this morning by clipping the wings of Connie, Cora, Kitty, Caron, Cassie, Cathy and, of course, Colin. They made a fuss - some more than others. Some are smarter than others at escaping - gradually Granny begins to learn them. Beloved is less interested in identifying them individually. But even he knows which is Colin - he's getting agressive. He PECKS.

To go right to the other end of things; gorgeous granddaughters, all with wings unclipped, all crying 'Happy Birthday.' Middle one - aged 7 - added; 'I'm going to tell you a story.'


This is of course Granny at her worst, relaying grandchild's bon(s) mot(s.) Too bad.

ENJOY. (Or not as the case may be.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Clear view

The sun is out - some of the time. For the last two days - the first time since Granny and Beloved arrived back - the light is strong, the sea and islands visible. The shades of brown, red orange and yellow across the dry landscape are vividly differentiated, not shrouded to monochrome. As for the green green vines.... in the mornings and evenings men are out with cans on their backs spraying assiduously. Granny doesn't like to think what with. (Growing grapes for wine is something done by all ages, unlike other kinds of agriculture here, mostly carried on the middle-aged and old.)

It's her birthday today; she wishes it wasn't... she had too many years on her already without this added one. Beloved has produced a hammock for her to rock in and a picture of her on her travels, pack on back. Her passport, mobile, ticket etc, are shown running away from her on little legs..... She'd like to state, for the record, that his ditto have been known to do the same. It's nice, though,

She's still working on this. It's amazing how adding - better still removing words - changes things. She hopes it does. It's called editing...why not? Meantime too, apart from the merry domestic round, she reads. In Elizabeth Jane Howard's Slipstream, a memoir, recommended to to her by Morphess - alas, currently silent - she finds this: she's not sure if she finds it comforting or not: or if it isn't just another version of Growing Old Gracefully; in which she's not the least interested. (Though she will admit to admiring the dignity of the still black-clad widows here - as against the half-naked pastel-clad visiting ones down in the tourist resorts. Would she wear black as a widow? Probably not.)

One of the good things about living longer is that we have more time to learn HOW to be old. It's clear to me now that inside the conspiracy of silence about age [..] there is the possibility of art: that is it can be made into something worth trying to do well...

nd of course EJH is right. All the old people Granny has admired from Dora Russell to Naomi Mitchison, to name but two, do just that.

On the other hand... Granny and Beloved both have been suffering a bit this week. Their heads may feel lively, as ever, shame their bodies don't follow that good example. Beloved's chronic back problems have walked off in a new direction. Granny has a long-term ache in the top of her left arm- difficult to rest because she is left-handed - which has lately got much worse. Earlier in the week it was compounded by painful arthritic twinges in her right wrist - an old problem which comes and goes mysteriously for no reason she can fathom. She's been lucky for quite a while - then this: on Sunday use of either hand was accompanied by 'OUCH.' It's gone again now, though the sore arm remains. And both remind her of how her body is likely to go on. If old age can be turned into ART it's Francis Bacon, say, at his most distorted- or Frida Kalho with her iron splints and nails in. Renoir it definitely isn't.

Granny can't complain really. Compared to many her body - for her age - is still pretty spring chicken. But such aches make her realise this may not last.

The real chickens in their English garden shed turned chicken house, though eggless as yet, are a great comfort. She has named them all; Connie, Cora, Kitty, Karen, Cassie and Cathy; not forgetting Colin who is growing wattles and aggressive both, but is not yet able to crow. Maybe she will write about them tomorrow- once she's recovered from her hangover. Beloved, bless him, is taking her out to dinner.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Who am I

Granny has had a series of professional blows this week which leaves her wondering if she is a writer any more.... Forgive her if takes a day or two to pick herself up off the floor.

However, she has meantime opened another blog within this site. She has posted in it a story she wrote some time back, and which she has just thoroughly revised. It's too long for a proper blog, but plays around with material from the memoirs she's been posting. The characters are all real. The story never happened. But it could have done. Anyway if this interests you in the slightest here is where to go. (No comments enabled on that. If you have any post here.)

The clouds forecast - the rain - have not been forthcoming. The wind has dropped, the sun shone nicely all week. Idyllic weather. For this she is grateful. She has also decided that what she's going to do now is work, seriously, on her Spanish.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Don't You Dare Laugh...

A schedule pended this morning; in the form of communication from old and dear friend in Berkeley, California. It seems to Granny to deserve still wider currency: so here it is: (thanks Dick!)

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's winners:

1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself made for the purpose of getting laid.

5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.

10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

And the pick of the literature:

18. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

OK; that's it. Granny is now off to do some real writing. Whatever that is... (Definitions please.)

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Itty bitty stuff..

1. Radio 3 is devoting itself to Beethoven for AN ENTIRE WEEK. Could be good, could be tiresome. Right now good enough - his variations on God Save the Queen. Does it leave Granny feeling patriotic? No. Added to which:

2. The sun is out again at last! - after over a week. So patriotic or not, nice or not, Granny is about to abandon Mr B for the garden, and her precious copy of Giardian Review of Books, picked up this morning; though not without a brief reflection on:

3.This curiousity. Her new system incorporates Microsoft's so-called upgrade of Outlook Express called 'Entourage.' It's fine, though she can't see why it should be considered any improvement. Also why, rather than saying 'no new messages' it pronounces, grandly, 'no pending schedules? Is the word 'message' too domestic for business men - meaning could be note to plumber, instruction to or from wife, amorous/lewd note to/from lover/mistress? Whereas pending schedule sounds important enough to make them feel better or at least more resigned to having to spend all the lives at desk/in meetings instead of on wife, children, mistress, garden, DIY - or the Guardian Review of Books? Or is just that Microsoft enjoys being POMPOUS?

These businessmen. They outlaw words like passenger, user, etc etc for 'customer.' (Read consumer.) Now this. Why can't they leave the English language alone. Teenage argot is expressive at least. Granny likes that often enough - was there ever a more evocative instruction than 'get sorted.' But this...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Getting to Moscow - revised

The Lady with the Big and Little Dogs came to dinner - minus dogs. The Lady explained her flit. The long and the short of it is that a) she now has a boyfriend - a member of the Guardia Civil, no less; that b) Beloved, upon leaving for England, locked her out of his and granny's part of the house, thinking she was already off on holiday till after their return - she wasn't; that c) the electricity then tripped cutting off her water light fridge shower etc, all of which she assumed was Mr Handsome playing games with her, owing to previous dissensions (details of which were also divulged; but had better remain private.) You'll leave says Mr Policeman, or I'll beat Handsome up. So out she comes; though she had not expected Mr Policeman to remove every last bit of her stuff in her subsequent three week absence on holiday - presumably to make sure she did not change her mind. That was as much as a surprise to her as it was to Beloved and Granny.

She is regretful. 'I loved my little house,' she said wistfully as she and granny stood outside on what had been her patio. And 'It felt like a family here' - a nice way of putting it, that Granny, also wistfully, concurred with. So did the shrike, who appears to have taken to roosting overnight in the passion flower beginning to cover the pergola. He startled them by rustling it, and poking out his head, seemingly cross at being disturbed in middle of the night.

The Lady is now presumably living with the policeman. She was too coy to say. 'I've told him the relationship is nice but will only last until I get myself to Canada,' she says. If it breaks up for other reasons, Granny suspects she will be back. She hopes so. Lady is curious mixture of prim, prickly and extensive, not to say dubious, new age health theories that glaze the eyes of Beloved as soon as she starts on them. But Granny is fond of her all the same.

Canada? Moscow? Ever since Granny has met her, the Lady has proclaimed a desire to live in Canada. She has never been there; she just once did a course on American Indians. Nor does she seem any nearer even visiting than she did two years ago. If her dog(s) connect her in Granny's eyes to Chekov's lady from Yalta, her yen for the Rockies reminds her of all those frustrated ladies in his plays, all of them yearning for Moscow. She suspects that the Lady may not succeed in reaching her goal any more than they did.

Granny, observing Beloved through both the exchanges with the Lady and those with Mr and Mrs Handsome, realises how differently he deals with people from the way most councillors, psychotherapists, concerned friends do, from the way she does. Unlike them he does not empathise, imagine himself in similar situations. People's emotional vagaries, their marital strayings are incomprehensible to him. He can't imagine behaving in such ways himself. What he does, observing, directing, persuading, is apply his knowledge of animal behaviour. It works.

When they were not discussing the fallout from her feud with Mr Handsome, the Lady also informed G and her B that the only things you can erect on this island, without permission are wooden huts (means chicken house is OK; phew, what a relief) or dry-stone walls. Otherwise even pergolas are supposed to be applied for. As for the new patios Mr Handsome is building for them....Oh dear. Only reason for getting permission of course is that you have to pay fat sum to the Cabildo, the island council; else something in kind. Man down the road - who, incidentally, makes his living out of the drug dealing - something police know perfectly well, but since he's not a Mr Big merely keep him under observation - got permission to build very elaborate stone wall in front of his house by ceding two metres of his land: if the Cabildo ever wants to widen and tarmac road in front of him they can. Granny and Beloved have no such inducements to offer.

One of their neighbours comes from the family that used to live in this house; she was asked by local police to inform them if the previous owner, the Englishman who restored its ruin, erected anything not in the original building. She said, fortunately, 'why should I unless you pay me?' As a result the police don't know - even if the local Ayuntamiento - the Town Hall - does - that the house has been sold on.

So maybe they won't get a visit from the police demanding they rip down everything - pergolas, raised walls, patios. But they could. It happens.

(Also, Granny wonders - what WILL they do without the Lady passing on all such local information/gossip? Oh dear.)

Friday, June 03, 2005


The MAC owner can breathe again. Lovely machine is now charged up and working, thanks to investigations by nice Internet cafe man up the road. Who, despite the problem he was trying to fix, claimed to be envious of me; he has worked in computers for 19 years and has always liked them, but never owned one. Turned out cable had fused not only in plug but in connector to adaptor; partly because connection to laptop itself wonky. Laptop will have to be looked at on our return to UK, but meantime can be kept going. What a relief. I LOVE IT. (Too heartfelt to write in 3rd person.)

Enough of technology. Will list other (un)interesting events, before heading off to write another serious family piece, offline.

1. Feline Houdini has canine rival; granny thinks seriously of changing Beautiful Wimp's name. The last month or so has seen the appearance of serious gates with bolts, new walls etc, all round house, in order to keep dogs in and stop them digging up neighbour's veggies. Only problem is: BW has learned he can squeeze through railings.... Which is why he is presently sitting at Granny's feet. What to do now? Fatten him up?

2. Lady with Big and Little Dog has reappeared from holiday; claims she wishes to explain her mysterious flitting, plus dark hints it's to do with Mr Handsome. She is coming to dinner tonight, so all will be revealed. Granny has tried many times to explain Handsome to Lady and vice versa. 'You mean he/she has been having a hard time lately/had a rough childhood?....what do you think I had?' Etc. A fruitless exercise. Why does she bother? To keep both of them onside, she suppose. All in vain.

3. Mr and Mrs Handsome have decided to separate or, rather, to live separately. Granny and Beloved have been playing Elder Statesmen/ Marriage Guidance. 'You are the only people I can talk to?..' etc - how did we get into this? Is it inevitable result of being the oldest? Actually both Handsomes seem happier and to like each other better as a result. More than like each other. 'I respect her at last' claims Mr H of Mrs. (Is Mrs H getting to wear her Janet Reger underwear, Granny wonders, naughtily? Sounds like it.) Baby Handsomes are coming out here to live. Whoopee. At least the guidance sessions are cheerful again,

4. The trade winds have settled in. It's permanently murky up here in the hills. To get a sun ration B and G have to disappear to south or east. Upside is that sometimes cloud is right down in morning and it rains a bit. No more watering. Good. Saddest thing is that Monday's fiesta - Canary Day (blue white and yellow flags everywhere; waiters etc in restaurants etc in local dress: pretty coloured pictures in salt - ephemeral art if there ever was - laid in road round main square; campers down by the shore; they take such events seriously on these island as well as shutting up the shops) was pretty much blown - even at times - rained -off. Pity. But on our side of things they must be used to it; it's always like that at this time of year.

Last scene of Gotterdamerung on Radio Three has just laid its final chords... Good bathetic time to close...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

electric scream

No. Granny has no interesting thoughts of any kind today. Just total technical frustration...here she is, MAC all sorted and understood, 3 in 1 printer installed, plus flickr plus mozilla firefox so she can do the HTML thing. And guess what - today she comes down, boots up, discovers there is no electrical power coming in. Does she have the bill here? No. Is there an Apple dealer on this island? No? Will the Spanish Apple send stuff to this island direct? No! (Import problems, would you believe it, one Spanish province to another.) She has now extracted bill from London, so at least whatever needs be done can be done under guarantee, has located dealer on main island of province, will take the machine to a local computer shop to get the power checked to see if it just needs a new adaptor (which will have to be sent from Madrid via main island and will take at least 2 weeks (think 3-4, from previous experience); or if whole machine will have to be sent to main island to get a new logic board. Whatever that is. So here she is back on the borrowed (from Beloved) pc, which is so mini she gets eye and finger ache and is 100% times slower. Scream.

Interested anyone? She isn't, so why should you be.... Cheers.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A wedding

Granny has been struggling to work this out. She's done it.

Here is photo of her younger Aunt's wedding circa 1924, with admiring onlookers. Skirt shoes hairstyle persisted throughout aunt's life. She never saw spats on the uncle though.

More anon. She'll rest on her technical laurels for the moment...

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