Sunday 29 November 2009

Today I dropped a screw

Oh not from out of my head did the screw drop, although sometimes I do think there are screws lose within the scaffolding of my mind. No, today I dropped a screw which I was endeavouring to fit back into the side of my glasses so that they would have two sides, thus ensuring that the glasses stay on my face and not keep falling off. Glasses with only one arm are, quite frankly, useless. One has to use one of one's hands to keep them up in place on one's face, therefore limiting the tasks that one can do.

The screw which has loosened and fallen out is a tiny little thing, and has to be fitted in the tiniest of holes on the frame of the glasses. It is the most fiddliest of jobs trying to get them joined up again.

Now anyone sensible would probably try to do this fiddley job over a surface which would be condusive to retrieval of the screw should it tumble from one's fingers. I, myself, did it over the keyboard of my computer. The inevitable happened, and into the keyboard itself fell the screw.

So I flipped the keyboard over, gave it a bit of a tap in the hopes that the little screw would fall out. It did. Along with a large amount of other detritus. Such as the head of a fly, with one wing still atached, a few assorted insect legs, bits of cake, fragments of leaves, other more microscopic insects too small to observe with the naked eye, and a couple of mouse droppings. And one tiny screw.

I still haven't fixed my glasses. Probably never will if I keep trying to get the screw into the hole. An idea popped into my head to try some jewellery wire and wire the side arm to the frame so will follow through with that thought.

But I am fascinated with all that stuff that came out of my keyboard. All those bits. LIke the way my head feels sometimes: all full of unconnected bits. And an oddness, because the keyboard is not sticking so much. It seems looser and types the words faster.

Which is perhaps why the words flow out of my mind with great vigour sometimes, and other times I seem to suffer from mental constipation. When all those bits of lose thoughts are floating round my head, and the screws feel lose within in, then that is when I become mentally clogged up. But when the bits have evacuated my head, I seem to become unclogged and the words tumble out.

Obviously the key to getting the words out is to keep a clear head and a detritus-free computer keyboard. The latter is easy. Upend and tap every few days. Can't do that with my head. Might help if I could.

Task of the day: Will try to monitor the detritus of thoughts, those flotsam of extraneous thinkings, that clutter my mental processes up, thus endeavouring to keep those screws nicely tightened, hopefully creating a calm mental space for the words to pour out. Is this likely to happen? Nope. But I can try.

As for my glasses. I will try the wire. As for my head. I will try to make some calm moments. Off out to walk the Bools and Gus now. That should produce an opportunity for calmness albeit a soggy calmness because it is pelting down with rain at the moment.

Sending you blessings for calmness within your day.....

Message to self: Try as best you can, but don't try so hard that you stress yourself out.
Message to self (2): You have already managed to write one book, create one website, done loads of other writing including managing a blog for almost a year, so perhaps your screws are not as loose as you thought.
And self answers back: Yes but I have a list of books I want to write. Mental constipation keeps hitting. And.....
Message to self (3): Oh do shut up and go walk your dogs! xxxxxxx

Friday 27 November 2009

In memory of the Little Washer.

On arrival: The now-bedroom caravan, the rear end of. Parked up by the Pig / Chicken Hut now the Hutto 'office'. In the doorway Hubs's generator. To the fore of that, a petite green stool used for sitting my posterior on. To the left of the stool, water bottles. Centre is a once upon a time wine making container, again being used as a water container. Beside that lies the black plastic thermal shower bags. Two.

And gracing the entire photo is the blue washing machine, the Little Washer. It is a twin tub. You put the clothes in one side, the machine gives them a swirl. You then take the clothes out of that side, putting them into the spin dryer side, not forgetting to put the water outlet pipe into the wine making container so that the outgoing water from the spinner can be recycled back into the washing water, the heat of which has been provided by water from a kettle, and some more water (lukewarm) from the thermal shower bags.

The electricity to run the whole operation came from the generator. It was noisy and coughed up a fairly large quantity of fumes. Not to worry, at least we had electricity. That was before we had mains supply. When we did, the generator was retired from ops and I graduated to an extension lead.

It is surprising how much washing can get done in this way, even though the constant recycling of the washing water as the pile of clothes is worked through turns the colour of the water not far of black.

At the end of the washing, that water is finally emptied out, and fresh water put into the washing machine, carried to the machine by the water containers. This was before we graduated to a hosepipe.

Then the whole procedure of washing starts over again for the rinsing of the clothes, only this time clean water is used to top up the machine as the rinsed clothes are removed and put into the spinner. Hence the stool for my botty. It is a long process. But, heyho, we are camping, and at least we can have clean clothes. And surprisingly enough, the clothes do come out clean.

People visited during one of the washing ops. When the Little Washer was in its second home, which was the gazebo. Down her jaw dropped as she surveyed the machine. Quite frankly she was shocked, herself being only forty and conditioned to automatic washing machines. This twin tub thingy was too primitive for her to comprehend, so she kindly donated her old top loader. Wow! I had become upgraded!

This is the 'before' photo, when the gazebo was pristine. It didn't stay that way for long. One blast of a summer storm made us realise that it was really a 'in-waiting' kite. Thereafter it became covered in big green tarpaulins anchored down with loads of rocks.

Which worked for five months until this happened. A big tempest blew in and squashed it flat. It was either that, or letting it take flight. We said it couldn't do that, so it sank down in a heap instead, helped along in the sinking by an almight blast of the fiercest wind. (The bedroom caravan had now been moved to the other side of the courtyard).

But beneath the tarps the Little Washer was safe, which was just as well because the front loader died a couple of months later, and back into ops the twin tub came. As you can see, I had now graduated to a proper washing basket, proper buckets and bowls, with the electrics running off the main supply but via the kitchen caravan (which replaced the gazebo). Out of view is a hosepipe.

And then a bit of a weeny problem started. "Ouch!" I said. "What happened there!" And "Ouch!" again as I pushed some clothes into the washing water. It felt like pin pricks. Not hurtful pin pricks. Just prods really. But surprising nevertheless.

I was being electrically shocked by the Little Washer.

Hubs came running over to investigate my squeals. Banned me from using the machine ever again. Suggested a new washing machine. But: roof not on. Nowhere to put a new machine. So moi said "No, I will soldier on." In grand manner did I say those words.

In true 'Dunkirk spirit' I did.

However: it all got a bit silly. Over the weeks the machine kept snapping back at me. I started phantasizing about my body being belted through the air in a great curving arc of electric shock. I started to become afraid of my friend, the Little Washer.

It was eventually taking me all day to get the washing done because I had to keep taking the electrical plug from its socket to break the electrical current coming from that, through the washer, and from thence into me. Enough!

Roof partly on. Time up for the Little Washer. I am sure it would never have deceased me, the shocks were only tiny, but it was the fear of what it might do which finished me off with it. That, and the time it was taking to do the washing. I am back in the saddle with my work now, and need to find more time.

So last Saturday Hubs marched me to the shop and here is the new equipment. Whoooopppppeee for Hubs! Whoooooopppppeeeee for the Little Washer! Woweeeeee for the New Washer!

Now all that has to happen is for the water to be connected, which Hubs is having trouble with but I am sure he will fix it, being my Hubs / Head Gardner / super duper IT man / and now DIY fixer.

And so I say in all gratitude to Bruv Bill who donated both the Little Washer and the gazebo: Many thanks, and Hoorahhh to you for having the forethought to donate two such necessary pieces of equipment.

Now: what to do to the Little Washer. A plant pot perhaps?

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Oh now look at this!

And over our heads, just as sunset, came this rainbow yesterday. But we have found our 'pot of gold'. We are living here, in France, being endlessly stretched mentally, physically and emotionally, but we feel stimulated and alive. I think that will be sufficient for our 'pot of gold'.

So sending this rainbow over to you, so that you can hopefully find your own 'pot of gold' at the end of your rainbow.

Friday 13 November 2009

We've moved in!

OK, so I am exaggerating more than somewhat. But you can see by the photo above (Bedroom caravan to left, kitchen caravan to centre, Hutto out of picture to the right) that the piles of stuff are diminishing, the evidence being the tarps lying all about the place, their job now done.

And, joy of joys, I did not become interred beneath the tarps in the tall barn.(Yesterday's blog) Instead, me and Hubs manage to diminish the pile to under half its original size.

Now here is a table. Not any old table. This is a special table, having been used for several family get togethers in the past. It's a bit mildewy, but has survived its internment beneath the tarps. It feels strange. I remember sitting up at it, and wondering if we were ever going to get out of the UK. And here we are. And here it is.

We've moved in. Not literally. Just our stuff. A bit of drying off, washing down, polishing up, and all will look quite pristine, myself included. Because I feel so grubby, that a flannel in the sink wash is not going to work, so I have promised myself a shower on Sunday night. Meanwhile, we were rather surprised, early afternoon, to see a mouse peering down from us from the top wall of the Hutto. Then it skipped along the top of the wall, merrily flicking its tail from side to side as it went, obviously in defiance of our policy of No Furry Animals in the Hutto. It felt like it was letting us know that it was here to stay. We'll see about that!

All quiet down at Sara's, so I guess that the lama is now sorted out. All quiet here, as we continue to endeavour to get control of the jumble beneath the tarps and as we do so, we finally feel like we have finished moving. We came here from the UK June 2008. In November 2009, we finally get all our gear into the house, well most of it apart from what is still in the awning of the kitchen caravan, which is anchoring the awning down in case we have another almighty wind come along to try and take it away with it.

It feels like we have come home. Lots to do yet. Like half of the roof is still not tiled, there are no ceilings downstairs, the walls are a mess, no windows, no doors, no loo, no proper shower. But we've moved in! Yippppeeeeee!!!!! We are still in the caravans for the winter, but hey ho: we are now finished with tarps.

What I have learnt today: that a woman needs a home to make herself feel anchored. Well this one does anyway. I hope you have a home which you love as well, and I hope you are surrounded by people who love you, even if they are living a long way away and you don't get to see them often.

Thursday 12 November 2009

Oh, so anyway....

Actually, what I am supposed to be doing at the moment is excavating our belongings from out of the tarp under which they were put last January after the tempest hit us. It is not a pleasant job. Not that I mind doing mucky jobs. Oh no. It is just that, well, I seem to have spent quite a considerable chunk of my life moving me and my belongings from one place to another.

However: back to the tarp project of today. Having just spent the morning excavating the deep dark corners of the Hutto (the once upon a time pig / chick hut which is now our office) and cleaning up from the foraging of four footed little creatures, slightly bigger four footed *****bag creatures, sundry other carcasses from the rich insect life who inhabit the walls of our Hutto, etc, we are now clean and tidy in that zone. For the moment. But it will not stay as it is unless we block up the quite largish hole in the corner by the door. It is quite large and well able to give entrance to furry creatures: I am not exaggerating.

Lester is out of the Hutto at the moment. He has been summonsed by Sara of the Camels to help remove a deceased lama which is at this moment lying on the floor of her sitting room. Having become sick yesterday, and we all being caught up in a drenching of rain day, she had decided that it be better off inside. In her front room. Down on the floor went copious amounts of hay, and there the lama lay down and eventually breathed its last late evening. Bless. A bit of a struggle down at her place at the moment. The canal beside her house has been quite full, threatening to spill out into her farmyard, and Carla (see Labels for other posts about Carla, pot bellied lady pig) went on the hunt for some acorns yesterday morning which were unfortunately in the field on the other side of the canal, didn't seem to realise that the water was five feet deepish, and she got caught up in the strength of the water flow and ended up being swept away down the canal.

Fortunately her dislike for finding herself in such dire trouble was heard, and all rushed out to see Carla's snout and ears just above the water, jammed against the little bridge which crosses the canal, with airways open sufficiently wide enough for her to squeal her outrage.

In went a young friend of Sara's. Into the water he did dive. To get behind the rump of Carla and hoik her back out of the water. Carla was last seen going to bed in their chicken coop. The young man, none the worse for the dunking, was given a box of Twiglets from Sara to say 'thankyou'.

Anyway, Lester is helping with getting the lama out of the house. I am supposed to be excavating under the big tarp.

And you know when you want to do anything other than what you are supposed to be doing? Well I was struck by just such a moment a while ago. Into my head came an almighty urge to tell you what was happening down here in France, just as I ducked my head into the depths of the pile. So that's what I am doing.

Two hours twenty mins later: Slow going with the tarp project. Have just taken boxes, stuff, etc from one place and dumped it in the other place, which is the house. All in a heap. Had ten minutes slumped comotose over a bedside cabinet by the water tap, all worn out by my efforts, during which Lester made an appearance from Sara's. Lama update: it is now out of the house, but it was decided to build a funeral pyre to dispose of the body. Apparently the cost to have it removed by the authorities was prohibitive. So Project Cook The Lama is now underway.

Oh, so anyway, I did manage to achieve a more pleasant environment in which to work. And if you look at my PC very closely you can see this blog in its creation! The lama is mid-way through its cremation, and Bools and Gus have just had a fight. What was it over? Well, Gus is little. To get over this minor problem, he has taken to perching his bum up high. On the box just removed from the Hutto in this case (the topmost photo). This piddles Bools off no end. So somewhere in the time ahead he will reprimand Gussy and remind him that he is littler than him. Bools usually picks his moment to achieve full effect which is usually right in front of us, and he normally likes to look up mid-way to see if we are noticing his efforts to keep Gussy in his place. Bless.

So I leave you with this thought:

Oh, so that bit fizzled out as 'the thought to leave you with' flipped into my head and then equally as fast flipped back out again! A cup of coffee I think! And then back under that tarp I go for another session. If you never hear from me again, then you know where I can be found!

Waving cheerfully from France, I bid you 'bye for now'.

Monday 9 November 2009

The rains arrive, and so do the words.

The rains arrive and I fetch up with doggies who are not too impressed by the lack of sun. Bools, above, and Gussy below. Having been on a long two hour trek, all they want to do is laze away the day stretched out sunbathing. No chance of that today.

Actually Gus us waiting to have a look-see under the tarps which has been my project of late: cutting the old tarps up ready to burn when the weather permits. The boxes you can see house Hubs's collection of wine bottles for when he decides to uptake his on-off hobby of winemaking. The removal men, when packing up our home in the UK prior to moving us down here, obligingly packed these large glass bottles so they wouldn't break. In newspaper.

Well, you remember that we seem to have a bit of a problem with mice. It would seem that the building blocks for their homes came from the contents of these boxes. The newspaper is all shredded up. Not only that but there is a very neat round hole in the bottom of one of the boxes, suggesting that the mice were using it as their downstairs entrance and exit.

Not wanting to do a raid on their houses, the boxes have been left. They are now soaked.

And this is the state of our courtyard, looking windswept but minus some heaps of stuff which has been filling the space up. In between showers I have been having a go at tidying it up. You wouldn't think so, would you! Ah well.

There has recently been an empty space in my head where the words for these blogs should have been. Unlike some people I know, who can think up a subject then wrap text round that thought, I can't. If the words come into my head I can write them down. If they aren't there then I can't. For the blogs this isn't so bad, but when writing my books this is a problem. I sit at my PC with an empty head. Then from out of the emptyness comes the words. Sometimes. Sometimes not. Where do these words come from! Not out of thought. If I plan what to write then the words come out stiff and dull. But if the words arrive in my head, to be written down immediately or else they are gone for good, they carry a fluidity which I cannot own. And yet they come from me. But from where inside this head of mine.

The inside of my head is like the photo of the courtyard. All higgley-piggley most of the time, despite my best efforts to get it straightened up.

The rains have arrived. The river Adour is busy rearranging the efforts of the men with the diggers who took our river beach over to the other side of the river. Gus is minus his plastic collar, and is starting to find confidence with living here despite being batted around like ball beneath the eight feet of two huge alsations into whose garden he thought it a lark to wander into this morning, Bools is continuing to try and discipline him into behaving but is most times OK with him, Hubs is up on some scaffolding in the halfbarn at the moment filling in the holes in the wall. Hopefully the bats who we have just realised live in those walls, would have vacated said holes in the wall. Last night, upon squirting some water into a hole in preparation to filling it, Hubs was surprised to receive a sharp string of expletives from the inhabitant. He filled the hole anyway. I have not checked to see if a hole was remade signalling the safe withdrawal of its occupant.

No bats tonight. They are either avoiding the cold weather, or decided to evacuate our halfbarn. And as I write this, (10 pm) I can hear, up in the starry coldness above my head, the geese. Flying south. Towards warmer climes. Yesterday another great flock of other birds passed by overhead. For ten, fifteen minutes, that is the time it took the flock to fly past. I wished them well. I love that I am on a migration flight path. I love that those little creatures are making that most magnificent of efforts to follow a need to be somewhere else.

So wet doggies were towelled off, and given a lovely roast infront of the fire. That, I think, was almost as good as a dollop of sunshine to them.

And a thought: It is good to have a head which wants to do things, wants to explore things, wants to say things because it keeps a freshness in one's life which the years cannot diminish.
Au revoir mes amis.

Ps. I don't think that it was Gus who upset the wild boar who swam across the river and ran across Claudine's garden and then Bruno's field with Fleur in full chase behind it. I don't think it was. Even though the direction from whence it came was the very same direction in which we had been dog walking that very hour.