Saturday, July 30, 2011

Blogger, Can You Spare a Dime?

BloggebbBlogger My youngest sister assures me that she is not in the slightest worried about the debt ceiling crises that is receiving so  much coverage on this side of the Pond. I hope she is right. More worrying to me is that year by year the United States seems to becoming more and more impossible to govern. Some Constitutionalists even argue that this is a good thing as it ensures that no one branch of the government becomes too powerful -- to me it ensures that laws become law when things get desperate. Michelle Bachmann appeared on my television screen yesterday and used the example of 'Europe' as what the United States does not want to become. It is interesting to me how American politicians use the example of 'Europe' as a scare tactic.

Well I have lived in England, France and Germany in the past 30 years and I suggest to her that she should try it. Not everything is perfect -- taxes are high, but just knowing we have medical care when we need it increases the quality of life immeasurably -- for example. It's funny but I do believe that the American example did help to democratize the rest of us -- however, Europe did not become a slave to the ideology of Capitalism at all costs and this makes Americans nervous. The word 'socialism' is a 'bad' word in America.

As powerful as the United States Economy is, I do believe that the debt crises is a global crises that is beyond the power of any one government to solve. It seems to me it is even more impossible to solve when political minds seek political advantage rather than strategic methods to work together as a global community. If the United States cannot act together for the greater public good, than how on earth can the larger global economy ever avert disaster.

I see that this has become a battle of ideologies. I do not believe that there is any one ideology that works for all the people for all the time. We must learn to balance our need for 'progress' with the need for social equality and stability -- that is what I think can best be done by a democratic society. As soon as people find themselves entrenched in a position they become slaves to that position. We must learn to think beyond that which we already think we know. That is not the same thing as being 'fickle' -- it is about learning to grow. It does not apply to only the United States. Or Europe. Or China. It applies to everyone needing to acquire the wisdom of Solomon!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Now Quickly -- St. Cere!

Gosh it's difficult to keep up the blogging when limited to two hours a time on the Internet. Today I'm in St. Cere -- the town that started us on our adventure in the Lot. There I am in the picture above -- behind the balcony on the first floor -- way in the back!!! Behind, overlooking the town are the St. Laurent les Tours -- now a  museum to the artist Jean Lurcat and his beautiful tapestries.

And my goodness how St. Cere has changed since 1986, the first year we came. At that time it was a bit woe-be-gone. Like most of the small towns here at that time.

This past Tuesday was the first of two nocturnal markets held each summer. It was hard to believe that less than an hour before the rains had been relentless -- subsiding just in time for the bargaining to begin. Unfortunately we had cancelled our dinner plans expecting the rain to spoil everything -- but we still enjoyed the atmosphere and the entertainment that was provided in the square where we didn't have dinner!

The Bave River finds its way picturesquely through the town. Though the bridges are modern they are nevertheless designed to blend in with the town and are beautifully decorated with flowers and hanging baskets. The Man and I have just arrived and were happy to find a convenient parking place -- due I am sure to the inclement weather people thought they would have and didn't!

When I say St. Cere has change I mean it has been 'cleaned-up'. The town itself is still the charming medieval place it has been for hundreds of years. But the buildings have now got a 'golden tinge' to them instead of the dusty grey we first encountered. Here we are on the main thoroughfare, just beginning to fill up with locals and tourists.

Well my time is up. So a short visit it is. Hope I'll be getting to check in again soon!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Idyllic but not for the Idle!

To be sure, there is a huge difference living in France and summering here. For me France is an Idyll, not reality. It is our escape into a dream where we spend dreamy days, hopefully in the sunshine and surrounded by extraordinarily beautiful countryside and food to die for!

Nevertheless, the maintenance of our ‘Idyll’ is considerable and our little farmhouse and small orchard require The Man a great deal of hard work – which he more or less enjoys – I would bet that at nearly 70 years of age, ‘less’ enjoyment at the necessary jobs that need doing. In addition is the trudge all the way down to the Lot and this year a long period of torrential rain which make it rather difficult to see to the damp wall, a major issue and a roof tile that upon investigation was split in two and easily replaced. The Man has as of an hour or so ago replaced the tile and within a few days will tackle the damp wall, which requires much more extensive work – again on the roof. 

However, I’ve managed to digress from my point that our chosen place of Idyll is one hell of a long drive, that requires at least two overnight stays and leaves us rather exhausted by the end of it. So here are some photos of how the place looked upon arrival:

Everything looks best in the sunshine and the place looked much better than expected. April, May, and June were extremely hot and the result was that the growth of weeds and grass was stilted. In the next day or so we will be buying some hanging baskets of flowers and fill our tubs with geraniums and other annuals such as 'bizzy lizzies' and begonias. 

The Man 'scrubbing' the patio -- so glad I don't get to do this! This year the surface is extremely grubby and taking longer than expected to complete. Of course endless torrents of rain do nothing to speed up the process...

The orchard is its usual mess. The first cut is with something called an 'Allen Sythe', I believe. It has huge teeth in the front that move back and forth as sit 'saws' through the grass. In true Lotois style this machine is at least 40 years old!

Oh Ugh! Not again. This problem confronts us every year. This wall backs directly on to the neighbouring farmer's 'atelier' and the problem is the guttering between the two roofs. The Man attempted to solve the problem last year -- obviously to no avail -- What looks like it might be 'mold' is not, but where The Man has scraped of the wet plaster and paintwork in the first step to trying to dry out the wall -- not easily done when it's constantly pouring down rain!!!


However, the living room is snug and dry and the fireplace is working perfectly. Last night, the perfect relaxing end to a busy day. Maybe next week sunshine will prevail ... More anon, an Internet connection providing!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rippin', Syncin', and Playin'

Grandson's team mascot, keeping me company while I type!
I love it when I discover that I am still -- though somewhat in a limited fashion -- technically competent! When I first got my now 'newish' phone last December -- its a Nokia N8 -- I tried to download some music to it and failed miserably. So I gave it a rest for the moment as something to come back to later when I was in a more 'accessible' frame of mind! (One of the advantages for me in my doddering years is the ability to do this easily and without malice!)

So several months later and a few short days before having to set off on our French journey, with many things to do, I felt the sudden need for a diversion and decided to once again tackle the business of figuring out how to download music to the cell phone. I very quickly managed to discover, after some trial and error I won't describe,  that the method was very simple and much much quicker than the last time I had done it for my Treo 650! I chose several best loved CD's, opened up the media player, plugged  in the phone appropriately, and synched away quite happily for an evening -- all the while patting myself on the back at how clever I could be after all!

On our way down to the South of England -- I am now in Tadworth, Surrey -- I sat happily with my earphones on listening to the end result of all my efforts. As I prefer to listen to classical music above all others and The Man prefers popular music, we were able to satisfy both of us. I especially like to listen to opera -- especially the genre of romantic bel canto and my choice was an old favorite that I'd not listened fully to for years and years: Rossini's La Siege de Corinthe. My recording was a performance in La Scala with the late Beverly Sills and Marilyn Horne. I can remember listening to it as a teenager as it was broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera with tears streaming down my cheeks -- emotional as only teenagers can be -- because I knew that Sills' daughter was deaf and it had struck me that her daughter would never be able to hear her mother sing ... I digress ... My goodness, the music is delicious, Sills and Horne were divine. It is s shame it is not seen and heard more often.

I was only able to listen to the first half of this favorite when we arrived at our destination, but am looking forward to concluding it tomorrow when we once must again 'hit the road'! Ahhhh bliss!!! Now, should there be any other classical music lovers reading this, the  Proms begins on Friday and I want to recommend that you watch or listen to a very very talented and young British pianist, Benjamin Grosvenor. I have been following the career of the young man since the age of 11 and I promise he will knock your socks off! I hope to have the TV set up in France and watching on BBC 2 in time!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The 'Eyes' Have It!

Yesterday was one of those days when things go wrong, but everything works out in the end! One of my ailments is that I have glaucoma -- it's an hereditary condition that my sister and my mother also have. If caught in time medication arrests further development of the disease. However, it is important to have regular checkups and since my diagnosis I have had annual checkups at the local eye clinic. Or I did have ...

A few years ago, I missed an appointment because I was in the States and forgot to cancel it. In fact I didn't remember until some months later and then when I remembered, I was unable after several attempts to reach the clinic on the phone. In addition to glaucoma, I also have type 2 diabetes and so this to means that I need to attend the eye clinic regularly. It was through my regular twice yearly appointments with the local diabetic clinic at our doctors' surgery that I was able to be again referred to the eye clinic.

In June upon my return to the UK from my last visit to my mother, I found waiting for me an appointment to the eye clinic for the day of my return. Needless to say, I rescheduled the appointment for another day. Subsequently the day of the new appointment came and went and even though it was written in my diary, which lies open on my desk to my right as I type now -- I missed it -- again!

Embarrassed and ashamed -- and also worried about my vision as I have been having some difficulty focusing lately and my glasses aren't that old -- with trepidation I called the National Health Service number provided and with many apologies on my part, obtained another appointment -- a cancellation, which meant I could be seen before going away to France. Greatly relieved, I again wrote the appointment in big letters in my diary and put it on my cell phone, with an alarm, and vowed with steel determination not to forget. I even noted it down on Sunday, to remind myself to take the phone upstairs with me so I would hear it when the alarm went off. The appointment was for 9.00 a.m.

You all know what happened don't you? At 11.30 a.m. yesterday, my phone alarm went off as I sat here having a 'this and that chat' with The Man. Mildly curious, I looked at it -- in total disbelief and very loud intake of breath! Had I looked at my calendar? Had I taken my phone upstairs with me to hear the alarm go off? With deeper trepidation than ever before I called the NHS number I had and then very sheepishly apologized again and explained that the following day (today) I would be leaving for three months. I said I would call again for another appointment when I got back -- they don't make appointments that far in advance -- but was there by any chance a cancellation for later on that day. And there WAS at 1.30 -- 90 minutes later and I remembered to go and my eyes are fine. So you see, it all worked out in the end. And I must commend the staff for their unfailing patience with me when I called with my saga of apologies.

I also found out that that trouble focusing I've had from time to time, is a result of a sugar count that is too high -- a result of too much dessert temptation while in the U.S.A.! Oh and one more thing -- I love the National Health Service ... AND, I am abashedly a DIMWIT!!!

It was later in the day, but I did manage to make my blueberry muffins in time for tea!

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Time Will Have to Wait

This has gotta be quick! Perpetually in Transit has invited me to take part in the Seven Links Project and as I am off to France tomorrow I will not have the time to participate until later. I had a quick look through my blog and I really really need to fix a lot of things before I can delve into my past efforts and come up with Seven posts that answer the criteria set out by Ayak of Ayak's Turkish Delight. Then I have to nominate five more bloggers to do the same. Already two of those I had in mind have been taken up so I'm gonna have to work on that when I have some more leisure.

My problems with the blog are a result of Blogger no longer support FTP and I when I switched to the Blogger server I lost all the links to my pictures -- and there are quite a number of them so it will be a bit of a chore. I started blogging in 2005 and in  re-reading the earlier posts, I was surprised to remember how politically oriented they were. Anyway, more about all of that anon. My next job is making blueberry muffins so I'll love ya and leave ya!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Weighty Problems

Once upon a time long ago I couldn't get enough of  'fashion'! Now I am content to a very simple and boring uniform of trousers, jackets, shirts and or t-shirts. Occasionally I will wear a skirt -- if I can steel myself into wearing shoes with a not-too-high heel. Of course if I were still a size 8 instead of -- well never mind what -- then maybe even at the age of 66 I wouldn't be so nonchalant about it.

 This does not mean, however, that I do not have a sense of  'style'. My favourite look for myself is trousers and linen shirts. This style helps to camouflage a number of bulge faults and imperfections to a svelte outcome. As long as the detail on my costume of choice does not include ruffles and other frills this works rather well for me. I also find that jewelry in the form of necklaces and bracelets work wonders in bringing an otherwise boring outfit to life.

While I am well aware of what will look well on me, I am still nevertheless prone to severe and troublesome temptation at the time of the Summer Sale -- which is here and now!!! It occurred to me while looking over the offerings online last week that I could be doing with a nice summer dress -- for going out to dinner while in France -- and I saw one I thought would 'do the trick'. A smudged animal print in my kind of colours and a very simple cut: a cross cut bodice, sleeveless, with a flared skirt. When it arrived I was thrilled. It looked divine. I would have to wear something with sleeves as my upper arms are definitely something not to behold,  but I was really really pleased. I even got my closest friend to come in so I could show it to her and she also thought it was wonderful. And a huge bargain to boot!

Then I tried it on...

I'm still debating whether to take it back or not ...

The thing is I forgot about having to put  all the svelte-making stuff on underneath -- you know the stuff that holds you in and lifts you up! and my hair was ugh! And it was the end of the day and the face hadn't been fixed -- I'll have to try it on again and make more of an effort and I'll have to put on my highest heels. Oh the palaver of getting dressed up. It's just not fun anymore ... it's -- well it's definitely Hard Work. And days of time ...

I really must learn to stick to handbags and sandals and other accessories, like a Mad Boy, maybe if I see one in The Sales ...