Saturday, April 22, 2017

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Just because I like it

Life with the Dragon: Pixie Family Album part 2

"I wouldn't worry about the dragon. It's the Pixie that's the problem."

"Yes, Dear, he's the one."

Perils of Dragon Parenthood: "Yes, Kat, it's a very pretty dress, but it's way too short for school, and it's not raining."

Life with the dragon: A Pixie Family Album

In no particular order, these 'family photos' illustrate my life with my pet, shape-shifting dragon.

First Date: A contented dragon

Newly Married: Lots of Snuggles

You really need to stop getting spit in my ear!

Sure. Fly off to work and leave me to make the bed ...

Melting her Dad's Heart

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Random Thoughts, Or Pixies, Religion, Sex and Dragons

            Be prepared. This is another rambling post with almost no meaningful content.

            I lost significant work even though it was backed up. Both files went “poof.” My task, should I care to accept it, is to recreate it all today. But ... I’m writing this instead.
            Three of my daughters, the three oldest, are committed to a socially conservative, authoritarian religion. I don’t object. They’re mature enough to make that decision. Last night was their only Holy Day. They celebrate communion annually, arguably Jesus’ intent. I often attend that meeting. I write about this group. So I have some interest in their meetings, even though I write about their fairly distant past.
            The speaker’s name was Oscar. I know him from some years ago. He’s one of the few university educated among their pastors. He is not a fluent speaker, but he’s a personable one. Their public prayers are ritualized. Jesus prayed to his ‘father.’ They pray to their “dear heavenly Father, Jehovah God.” I think they believe that many words, flowery words, make their prayer more acceptable. Oscar prayed last. It was the highpoint of the evening. It’s not that he isn’t afflicted by the same stilted vocabulary, but his prayer was heartfelt, personal. It was something to which every Christian, no matter how they differ in doctrine, could say Amen.
            One of their pastors never fails to be offensive. We had a brief conversation, and I fended off his personal questions. He believes he should control all others. He’s an organization man in the guise of a pastor. That’s not uncommon among this group. Their opinions matter more than scripture.

            Goat Boy [AKA my husband] is working from home for the next few days with his phone turned off. Apparently there’s a significant contract available. He’s working on the bid. I’ll distract him only a little. He’s more than just Goat Boy. He’s also, when the mood strikes, a shape-shifting Dragon.
            I’ve told the girls to leave him alone while he’s working. (Two of them are home with some virus.) If there’s any distracting to do, I’ll do it, thanks.

 Distracting the Dragon

            If it doesn’t rain, our shoot it up group will meet and distance shoot. I’ll bring my 45-70 Highwall this time.

            I found some worked agate this morning. It was poking out of the pasture. These are roughly worked arrowheads, never finished things. They show up in pockets. Whoever worked them set them aside for later. They’re really lovely. I have an iron kettle full of similar. I’ll add these to the pot. Not long after we bought the land we found a lovely spear. The University of Idaho came out and worked the summer in out pasture. It was exciting.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Just Because I like It

Evil Washing Machines, Peeves, Writing History

            I’m in the process of closing down our history blog. The prime reason is abusive comments from a few readers, but there are other reasons as well. I won’t go into those. They’re secondary. Well, maybe I will discuss that later. We’ll see.
            The old washing machine goes bye-bye on Tuesday. [That’s tomorrow.] The new one is supposed to arrive same day. We had to remove a door to get the old one out. I did that all by myself with the help of my trusty screw driver and little hammer. I’ll probably need help putting the door back. 

            I’ve been peevish for days. I don’t like it when people present alternatives to my decisions. They’re mine to make. People who do that usually start by saying something such as, “Well, it is your choice, but ...” Rarely, someone who does that has a good idea. Usually, they just wish I was more like them. I’m happy being me, bad decisions and all.
            I’m tired of political moronism, political opinions based on feelings instead of thought. You can think differently than I do. But if your ‘feelings’ about right and wrong are based on the idiotic idea of equivalence, then I won’t like you much. I’m tired of self-entitled authority figures. LEO’s should not break the law to enforce it. Pastors are not God’s gift to mankind. Educators should educate, not put their personal opinions in place of parental judgment. Not every personal preference someone might have is an automatic right. I may want to throttle your sister, but it’s not my right to do so, no matter how good it might make me feel.
            Calling me names because of political difference will displease me. I probably won’t forgive you in the absence of an abject apology. The same is true if you call my friends names or insult them.
            My peeves are accentuated by my declining health. I can’t stay warm, even with the heating blanket turned up as high as it will go.

Other things:

            Since her stroke, my aunt blurts out what ever comes to mind. Sometimes what she says hurts others’ feelings. No-one seems to have a remedy except understanding and tolerance.
            Our research frustrates me. We’re writing two chapters that should be straightforward narrative. Some of the original source material leaves me with questions that we will probably not address. One reoccurring question is, “How can otherwise rational people believe this stuff?” The answer is multifaceted, sometimes nonexistent.
            I have an increasing dislike for several of the main characters. It won’t keep me from writing accurate history, and I hope my distaste does not show.  That’s not accurate. I don’t care if my personal distaste shows, as long as we write accurate narrative. I mean that I don’t want to be accused of unfairness.
            I have a mixture of suspicion and repulsion. One of these guys was an obvious fornicator. We have not reached the point of absolute proof, so we won’t say P* was a child-abusing creep. Of the three or four most prominent in this history, none of them was rational when it came to self. They all believed they were God’s special messenger, the bearer of advanced spiritual light. This derives from Christian Mysticism. We have to identify that as an antecedent belief system. We haven’t decided if we do that in this volume or in the next.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Sunday, April 02, 2017

The Madness of Pixes Part 178

We can title this post “The Mad Plan.”

            Those who read this blog regularly know I collect stamps, write history and herd children. Oh and raise goats, French Alpines to be exact. And if you don’t regularly read my blog, you now know ...

Goat Girl in her Element

            I don’t have a huge amount of money to spend on stamps, but patience sometimes brings stellar stuff my way. I have a generalist collection in the old Scott brown International Albums [1849-1940] and individual country collections for Austria, Germany and France. My Austria collection brought me a gold medal at an APS exhibit. But I’ve concentrated on my Germany collection for several years. I’m proud of it.
            We’re always in need of money to pay research expenses. Original research is often an expensive proposition. For example, we traced an 1881 booklet to a university in Georgia. A photocopy cost me over fifty dollars. It was an obscene fee. But they own the only known copy, and it’s key to part of the story we tell.
            We raise money through yard sales; we use royalty money from the sale of our already published books. We receive an occasional small donation. But we’re always in need for money.

Killing two birds with one stone ...

            So ... I’m off on ebay, ignoring the racket my girls are making, and LO! I find a lot of stamps on album pages. They’re German stamps. I have all of these but two. Some stamp dealers do not describe large lots. They post pictures and leave everything up to you. I always look closely, sometimes copying the dealer’s pictures into my photo editor for a better look. This lot had been bid up to ten dollars. I usually spend that or less.
           Most of it is common, things I have; some are ‘second choice’ stamps. But, there are three, maybe four [Bad photo], that are very expensive. Two of them I do not have. The key stamp is a Bavaria ‘Reich’ overprint in type II. So I bid. In the hours before the auction ends a minor bidding war starts. It ends with me winning. Total cost with postage is forty US dollars. I cringe, but I know very well that I can break this lot down into individual lots and probably [very probably] raise two hundred dollars. It’s worth the work. I end up with two pricey stamps I’d probably never own otherwise. [Scott Cat. about $500.00] And I replenish our research fund.
            Some pages I can sell as is. Some stamps will need a gentle soak to remove soil and old stamp hinges. But, dear heart, our research account is at less than ten dollars and I need to buy stuff. So that’s my mad plan.

 The 4 Mark stamp is Type II. I don't have this one in type II, or didn't. Now it's mine.

Other insanity.

            Probably no-one who reads this blog is really interested in my re-do the house project. I have boxes and baskets of things piled up near the foot of the south stairs, all of which need to be sorted. That’s this week’s project. Much of this is yard sale or Goodwill Store bound. A long-time friend has fallen into need. I’ve sorted out sheets and pillows for her. I gave her our extra vacuum. [Pet man bought me a new one.] The pillows are new, not used. I bought them hoping they’d give me some support post surgery. They’re nice and fluffy but they hurt my neck. So I have four pillows to give her if she wants that many.

            A good pillow is a life essential.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Monday, March 27, 2017

Junk shopping


            Aunt S. unexpectedly showed up at my door. The natural result was ... well ... we went shopping. I promised Goat Boy I’d buy a new switch for the washing machine. So off we went, stopping first at a fast food place to eat poorly prepared food and a Diet Coke that tasted like some sort of spray cleaner. I didn’t finish mine. This is my second bad experience at that McDonald’s. I probably won’t return.
            The appliance guy was very helpful. The cost was low, lower than I expected by half. So, what next? Why off to the nearest thrift store, of course. Aunty headed for the clothes racks; I went straight to the books. And I found some. Last school year I loaned out my copy of Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider and never got it back. That’s okay. I buy second hand children’s books knowing that most of those I lend won’t make it home. I found a new, unread copy. Nice. Ninety-nine cents nice. I also found two of the Spiderwick books I’ve never read and an Amelia Peabody mystery I’ve not read. Nice. All as new and cheap. It puzzles me that people buy a book and never read it. When new the Peabody mystery [Elizabeth Peters: He Shall Thunder in the Sky] cost almost thirty dollars. Why would one buy a book that expensive and never crack it open? Maybe it was an unappreciated gift.
            The Goodwill Store has one of the world’s most obnoxious clerks. He tells everyone he was a Marine and that he did two tours of duty in Iraq. I know some Marines; some of my relatives are or were Marines. This buzzard no more acts as one than an ant acts like an elephant. Last time I was there a very old man called him out on his behavior – a real soldier scolding a fake one. It didn’t do much good. But today, he wasn’t there. I mean the obnoxious clerk wasn’t there. I was much relieved.
            After the books I examined the china and glassware. There wasn’t much of interest, but I found two nice things. The first was a porcelain bell, blue and gold on white. It was very expensive new and is undamaged, certainly worth the two dollars they wanted. The other item is a child’s teapot, part of a larger set, but only the pot survived. It’s German, made in the inter-war period. The whole set cost some parent an arm and a leg back in the day. I collect antique children’s dishes. This was a nice find. It’s flawless.

            Aunty bought two blouses. She’s a very deliberate shopper, which is a nice way of saying she’s very slow and touches almost everything. So while she continued to shop, I looked at the shoes. Nothing for me there. But I found some nice boots that fit my baby half-sister, just the sort of thing she likes. Kids that age grow quickly. These were lightly worn if worn at all.
            Aunty is staying the night. That’s mostly because I insisted. It’s too late in the day for a slightly visually impaired old woman to drive the Interstate.   
            So, I’m today’s queen of junk shopping. And you are?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The toe cure ...

            Imagine the scene. It’s about five AM. I wake to find the other side of the bed empty. This isn’t unusual during the week. Goat Boy is up by then. But it’s unusual for a Saturday. I go exploring. He’s not in the potty. He’s not in the kitchen. But Lo! He is in the living room [parlor to you, maybe], on his back staring at the ceiling. A couch pillow is under his head.
            “Why are you on the floor?” I ask.
            “Hurt my back,” he says.
            I do not say, “But we didn’t have sex this morning ...” If his back is hurt, that might make him laugh, and then he’d hurt more. What I say is, “How?”
            He explains. He helped unload a heavy box at a job site. Now executives aren’t supposed to do that. Are they? But hey, the man on the floor is Goat Boy. He feels compelled to do things like that. Sticks his hand in everything. Very helpful.
            He moans.
            “Let’s take you to ER,” I suggest.
            He shakes his head. “I’ll be all right.” His health philosophy is that if you ignore a problem it will go away. Of course, that’s wrong headed. Ignore a problem and it usually worsens.  
            “Roll over,” I say.
            He’s skeptical. “Can’t. It hurts.”
            I insist. He complies.
            Now, dear-heart, this is morning. I’m in my pink, footed jammies. No sharp shoe heel, just the soft sole of my pajamas. I step onto his back and more or less squish his back from tailbone to neck. I’m greeted with a series of pops and moans. “Don’t stop,” he says.  
            “Lovely,” he says, when I step off. Okay, so I lost my balance and more or less fell off. But he is fixed. Well not fixed. That’s an unfortunate word in this context. His back is better.
            “Any time,” I say.
            I toddle off to the kitchen, making coffee and buttered toast. I smear strawberry jam on his. I like mine plain except for an obscene amount of butter. He likes his middling brown. I like mine burnt.
            We have a companionable moment over coffee and toast, talking quietly so we don’t wake anyone. It’s drizzling out but warm inside.

 The Toe Cure

Saturday, March 25, 2017

All sorts of things ...

All Sorts of Stuff.

            A few weeks ago my writing partner and I set aside the chapter on which we were working while we waited for some photocopies. We started another chapter, much easier to write because almost all the original source material is in once place. I’m not pleased with the writing, but the content is good. We’ll fix the writing later. There are some rough spots where we’re uncertain of the original writer’s intent. Usually that problem is resolved by reading and re-reading the source material. This author was grammar challenged. His questionable grammar poses a problem for many who write about him – and for us too. So much that fits into the abeyant chapter is found in the same paper that we’ve returned to writing it too. We’re writing both, concurrently.
            The principal character in this history is a mixture of self-deluded, sometimes shrewdly insightful, always slightly emotional personality traits. He was willing to believe improbable doctrine based on its cleverness. He believed in something called “Israel’s Double,” a view of end-times chronology based on a Hebrew word that has no relationship to passing time. He consulted Strong’s dictionary for meaning but missed the point entirely. So we deal with that, report it, and we will explain the logic fault.
            Our explanations must be sensitive. That’s probably the wrong word. He was wrong. We tell our readers he was wrong. But some of our readers still believe the “Double” doctrine. We will do all of this without insulting anyone – if we can.

            During the inflation era, Germany printed many stamps to address the progressive devaluation of its currency. In the early 1920s the postal authorities issued a numeral of value set first with a lozenge watermark, then with a web or network watermark. The lozenge watermarked stamps are inexpensive in basic type, though some of the varieties are expensive. The network varieties include three or four with high catalogue values, some over three hundred dollars. I’ve finally completed that set, and on the cheap. The last to come my way is the 30 pfennig, green. I bought it for five dollars and postage from a desperate stamp dealer in India. [Isn’t the Internet wonderful?] Now that I’ve completed the set, I’ve remade the album page.
            I’m helped in my quest for the rarer German stamps by the current stamp market. Germany is not a high demand area, especially in the United States which remains the primary market for philatelic items. So examples I could not afford say two years ago are showing up for little money. 

 The Stamps

            One of my best buddies is an illustrator. If you read fantasy fiction, you’ve probably seen her cover art. She introduces me to the work of others, sometimes to the artists themselves. [I’m not exactly jealous of their talent, but I wish I had time to develop my own artistic ability.] Many of them draw or paint fairly erotic art. You don’t see it on my blog ... because this is a mostly PG blog. But some of this is just amazing. Most recently she sent me pen sketches by F. J., a Japanese artist. Can’t post them, and keep my PG rating, but I like them. They remind me of my pixie characters.

Use your imagination. Why I'm not posting the artwork.

            I continue to terrorize our house. I’m replacing an antique cabinet with a regular bookshelf. I’ll sell the cabinet. I will yard sale two tables. I need my pet man’s help in the laundry room. I want to turn part of it into a pantry of sorts. With a large family and a smallish kitchen, we never have enough room to store food. I’m moving furniture in the family room, sometimes only to return it to where it was. I want a place for two watercolor sketches and an antique mirror. I’m still thinking about that. I will sell two small oil paintings. They’re nice but not that nice. I’m thinkin’ ‘bout selling a small desk.

            Now that spring is here we can resume our distance shooting matches. I want but probably won’t buy a three band Enfield. Way too expensive and I already have four nice long rifles. The last to come my way was a gift from a relative. It’s a Chilean Mauser with matching numbers and a very clear crest. I haven’t fired it yet.

            I’m still wobbly on my feet, but I am getting out more.

            I ordered the dress. See below.

            My oldest is traveling to Central America in April.

            My pet man is still a really, really good kisser.


From Anthony

Why Pixies don't like cats.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Dress

This comes in my size. Girls 12-14. Yes, I know I'm small and scrawny. [4 10 and 89 lbs as of this AM] Not expensive really. I have a 'fancy dress' family thing coming up mid year. So what do you think? Like it?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Struggling on ...

I'm still terrorizing my house. This is my current project.

Terror in the Night, Or O. Readers' Further Adventures.

“With voices together we sing”        

            One the most annoying Christmas novelties in the British Isles was Billy Bass. Billy was an automated fish head that was stuck on the wall, whose mouth moved as he sang in your face: We wish you a Merry Christmas...
            For many it was a good jolly joke on Christmas morn. They were taking an ax to it by the end of the day.
            A similar product was the large snowman that people had in the gardens during the festive season. Set off by movement - e.g. you walking by, or even going to knock on the door in a visitation work - it would suddenly go “Yo Ho Ho” and sing something equally annoying. I remember one garden had about twenty of these things in it, and they were all triggered at one second intervals. The melodious sound of a round blasted away to annoy both the occupants and the rest of the street.
            Anyhow, why I am going on about such things, when, as some here know, I don’t even do Christmas?
            Well, we bought something of similar ilk that can actually annoy a household all the year round.
            It was this clock that had different bird songs for the twelve hours on the dial. The idea was that budding ornithologists could learn the various bird calls, to then identify them in the wild.
            In practice it never worked. We would recognize sounds sure enough, but never what they meant. Oooh - that’s the four o’clock tweet. Aaah - that’s the eight o’clock chirrup...
            It very quickly drove Mrs O mad so I took out the batteries. Ultimately the remaining battery for the actual clock mechanism ran down.

            So, dear O, please would I put a new battery in. Now, I thought she said put batteries (plural) in. The conversation later went, why would I say batteries (plural) when I meant battery (singular)? Response - Why would I put batteries (singular) in when you said batteries (plural)? It was one of those circular discussions that repetition somehow never resolved.
            Anyhow - I put the batteries (plural) in. The problem was - as well as the sounds of the forest at inappropriate times - I didn’t realize that the thing has to be set up to match the pictures on the dial.
            Thoughtfully the whole thing was designed to shut down at eleven in the evening and gives you peace until breakfast. Unless, of course you didn’t set it up and on a twelve hour clock it worked at all the wrong times. As happened here.
            In the middle of last night there was the mighty sound of what was possibly the mating call of the lesser spotted woodpecker, somehow mingled with the angry cheeping of another feathered friend.
            What? Hey? Huh?
            Mrs O dug me in the ribs. I told you not to put the other batteries in? But why I would I put batteries (singular) in when you said batteries (plural), etc. - the chorus started again.
            So I padded along the hall, taking care in my sleepy state not to fall down the stairs, and neutered the clock.
            Of course, no-one got back to sleep then. And guess what, dear readers, I am in the frame for that. So I sat down at the computer at some unearthly hour and battered this out on the keyboard.
            Anyone want a tweeting clock, to go with their Billy Bass?
            One not very careful owner.
            Going cheep...

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Doing "Stuff" with Goat Boy

I usually go to bed early. But last night I sat in my chair reading a boring book. I read many boring books. I cannot find what I want unless I do. So … at least one of you is curious about the book. It was Lloyd Douglas’ Doctor Hudson’s Secret Journal, 1930s religious philosophy in the guise of fiction. Nasty book, nasty philosophy.
So the book put me to sleep. My pet man gently shook me awake. You might think he was solicitous, willing to shepherd me off to bed and a snuggle. Or maybe he wished to remind me to take my pill. No. Not so. Not at all so.
“I’m hungry,” he says.
“I don’t want to cook,” I reply. With some effort, I focus my eyes. “What time is it, anyway?”
“Eleven-thirty. Let’s go to …” [I’ll call it Sam’s. Not its real name. It’s an all night coffee, sandwich and soup place.]
“What about the kids?”
“They’re all asleep except for Arpita.” Arpita is our oldest but third to enter our family. Her sisters alternately adore her and find her irritating. She’s in bed texting a friend who lives in Ohio.
“Your mom and I are going out,” Goat Boy says.
“It’s really late,” Arpita says. Her eyes reflect suspicion. “Where are you going?”
“Sam’s,” he says. “Just us.”
She asks why.
“We’re hungry,”
She asks how long we’ll be gone.
“Don’t know,” he says. “Hours maybe.”
“Dad!” she says.
“We’ll get home when we get home. Call if you need us. … Might be a while. I may take your mom to a secluded spot, and we might kiss and …”
“Dad,” she repeats. “I don’t want to know … and you should stop teasing me.”

We take my old Mercury. I’m short and the seats adjust to my height. I drive. I seldom do anymore because post-surgery I’m mostly housebound.
Sam’s is right on the edge of the seedier side of town. It’s been there since the late 1940s. It hasn’t been updated since probably 1980 or so. But it’s clean (usually), and they have really good food.
I yawn as we enter, a long, un-ladylike yawn. We’re served coffee without being asked. That’s not novel. Go there once, and they’re likely to remember your preferences. Goat Boy orders a toasted cheese and ham sandwich. I ask for a Reuben with slaw and fries.      
We chat. Almost none of our conversation matters. We exchange ideas, complaints about the day, concerns, talk about my newish black shoes. He likes them. So do I. He pats my hand, asking how I am. Much better.
The food comes. It smells delicious. I think but do not say that the waiter should wash the grease out of his hair. It’s rude to say things like that to strangers, but it’s not rude to think it.
The waiter pours a second cup of coffee for us both. It’s good coffee. Pet Man orders pumpkin pie. I consider that, but decide on banana cream pie.
We pay and leave.
I yawn again, neglecting to cover my mouth. “That was good,” he says.
I agree.

In the dim light of a distant street lamp ...

He drives. He does not head home.
“Where are you taking me? … Are you abducting me?” I ask.
“Prospect,” he says. Prospect Point isn’t its real name, but that’s what people call it. It overlooks the river. The road dead ends there; back in the day it was a place to park and snuggle. And stuff … Now it attracts old guys with fishing poles.
I turn 40 this year, but snuggling [and stuff] in the dim light of a distant street lamp was as fun as it was when I was 20.

My phone binged. That’s the text message sound. It’s Arpita. “I’m not waiting up for you,” she’s written. I text back, “Okay.” Sometimes she thinks she's the mother and we’re the children.
We get home sometime after two-thirty. He has to hold my arm; I’m loopy from lack of sleep and stuff … It usually takes me fifteen or twenty minutes to fall asleep. I don’t remember putting my head on the pillow.

And … how was your night?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Goat Girl

How we see ourselves often differs from what we are ...

Pet man's view of goat-pixies:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

 This reminds me of my girls, Elizabeth and Isabella most. They would comb and try to braid their dad's hair while keeping up a chattering conversation.

And this one reminds me of Kat, always reaching for something.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

O Reader's Adventures in the back garden

Or, undiscovered country, perils therein and hidden treasure ...

The hills are alive...

            Two quotes come to mind when I think of Wales. The first is Julie Andrews spinning around and trilling “The hills are alive with the sound of music...” OK - so that was about Austria, but it applies to Wales. Music and hills. The other is from the British sitcom Blackadder. The main character describes Wales as a ghastly place, “Huge gangs of tough sinewy men roam the valleys terrorising people with their close-harmony singing.”
            Wales has the singing. Wales has the valleys. And it goes without saying that if you have valleys, then you have hills. Lots of hills. Everywhere. Nearly everything is built on a hill. Some streets go up and down them. If you come out into the road in the snow, you will immediately find yourself 100 yards further down the hill in a heap.
            But most are sensible and go ALONG the valleys. Ours does.
            If you drew a short straw, you would have the hill rising at the back. So the rear of your property is in permanent shade, and you need a mountaineering course to reach your garden. We are on other side - so we are on the ground level at the front, while the rear garden disappears below us. Further up the street the hill is so steep that houses have two more stories underneath what Brits call “ground floor” and Americans call “first floor”. [Americans say both – ed.] It makes for more space and lots of exercise.
            For us, you go down steps to the garden and we just have a head high cellar.
            But out of the back door is a patio area and then steps down to the garden.
            The original steps that came with the house in the 1880s were positively lethal. They were obviously designed for people with very small feet who burrowed underground for a living; it approached what appeared to be almost a sheer drop.
            So when we came here, one of the first things we did was to rebuild the steps. To extend them we created a platform and it just suited the lay-out to put in a manhole cover at that point to reach the sewer. It was discreetly overlaid with a decorative flagstone and then you stumbled through raised flower beds to finally reach the garden.
            But now, the big plan for 2017 is to have a raised decking area, so we will come out onto a large flat area, with much shallower and wider steps at one end down the side of garden. We will be able to bask on our veranda in the two annual days of Welsh sunshine and look at the panorama of other people’s washing... The height of the proposed structure and interminable laws about health and safety meant it took some time to get planning permission, but my son-in-law works in a family engineering business, and he and my daughter have designed it all for us. It is to be of metal but powder coated to resemble wood, and then covered with special boards that will not rot. An earthquake could hit the village and this decking will be the one structure still standing. It is just as well. Just before the law required such detailed checks, our neighbor built his own huge decking area, and after less than ten years had to rebuild it all in the interests of his family not ending up in the hospital.
            We are of an age when that is not a desired option.
            The problem though is that in taking out the steps in readiness this last week, our manhole to the sewer was suddenly revealed, now rising phoenix-like above the level of garden. So we got the builders to re-build it and drastically reduce its height. There was one dodgy moment when they asked us not to use the downstairs smallest room. But just at that moment our home was invaded by gaggle of volunteer workers (R will know who I mean) and all the girls in the cold weather wanted to visit the Welsh “tŷ bach”. I went to put up a sign not to flush, but it was too late - all of a sudden there was an agonized bellow from the garden. It was so expressive. The builder put such a lot of thought into it.
            Anyhow, the workmen have now gone, and my garden is full of rubble. I have just spent a day with rubble sacks transporting it to a local facility that takes it free of charge. I just hope my auto’s suspension survives the experience. I ache, therefore I am.
            All the rockeries and raised beds that were alongside the house have now been transferred to the other end of the garden. And I have to say that I’ve enjoyed the creative aspect of dry stone walling, as I did when I built the originals back in the 1980s.    
            Of course Mrs O has been out there with her phone and her tablet taking pics, and has put it all on Instagram for her circle. It means that when I attend meetings twice a week, I am invariably greeted by individuals who point fingers and chortle. Fortunately nearly all you dear readers haven’t a clue as to who I really am, and you’ll never get anywhere near Mrs O’s account.
            So if I continue this saga I can get away with telling whatever fibs I like.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Flour and Feed - Mystery Photo

So ... in the process of re-doing bits of my house, I found a small box of old family photos I've never sorted. I've posted one of these below. Other than somewhere in the United States, I have no clue where this was taken. The sign is out of focus, and I cannot read all of it. If you're a super detective, maybe you can figure out the location. ...