Kerry Miranda

Can you believe this guy is a professional photographer?  WTH – I have a plant growing out of my head.  It is hard to imagine but there was a life before the Pandemic hit.  Every year Houston hosts the largest Rodeo in the world, natch.  As much as I would love to visit, there are just too many people in one place.  This year we decided to go to our nearest town, Tomball, where the Sam Houston Trail Riders arrive by horses and wagons from Plantersville for a reception/meal/bunk.  It was cold but gloriously bright (which is maybe why Teddy couldn’t see the plant), so we arrived early in great anticipation.  The location was around the old railway station so we had a look inside, for the first time in 16 years.  Why do we always ignore the history right beside us?

Which one is real?

My husband looks like a real cowboy – until he opens his mouth…  It has been a long time since there was a working station office at Teague or Tomball but there is still a working commercial railroad.  I was 20 minutes late for a dental appointment when I had to wait patiently on the other side of the line.  We met a charming docent who told us all about the train museum.  He was fascinated by our Scottish accents and had another regular Scottish visitor who comes to the museum when he sees family in Texas.  The world is full of train geeks.

Kerry got friendly with the station master…

Halfway through the rodeo, we got news that the Pandemic had reached us and for the first time in the Houston Rodeo’s history it was cancelled.  One of the first patients in our county had visited the Rodeo but had not traveled anywhere else.  After a month in our local hospital, he finally recovered and got to go home.  It was touch and go but he was one of the lucky ones.  More posts about the trail ride to come.

 

From negativity to positivity

As my Nana would say, “You can almost see her breakfast…” Thank goodness for skorts on windy days.

This is my second draft of a post because the first was a tirade about the Dystopian nightmare that I feel I am living in.  I keep looking up to the skies for a plague of locusts or frogs to accompany the Pandemic and violence.  Ultimately, I decided that there was no point in adding my angry comments and opinion to the melee.  Instead I retreated to my containment pond where the water is full of ducklings from both the Muscovy and Whistling Ducks.

Muscovy Mama with her head in the pond and gorgeous ducklings (eight are still with us)

I have been sitting on the edge of the culvert, frightening the green heron because I walk so softly and delighting in nature.  The dragonflies, of every hue, come close to me and land on my head.  Teddy has counted over 30 species of dragonfly in that pond alone.  We watched their very active mating and then saw a female dip her tail, with the fertilized eggs in the pond.  By August, it feels like you are in fairyland with a rainbow of dragonflies fluttering around you.  They stick close to humans to catch the mosquitoes that bite us.

So far in 2020, Teddy has rescued a really large Turtle who was stranded upside down and yesterday I found a tiny little one, about 2 inches across, who was dropped by a predator in the grass.  I lifted him up and we were able to take a close look at his cute little face.  He was hot and bothered so I delicately popped him in the pond and off he swam having lost one of his nine lives (or whatever turtles have).  Today I stopped on the path as Mama Muscovy and her eight big babies walked up the bank and onto the grass for shade.  Mama kept on walking with a trail of ducklings waddling, with me at the tail end.  They have become used to my presence so know no fear.

The Whistling Ducks have tiny little spotted ducklings and they are a little more wary.  There are at least 8 pairs of ducks with a variety of little ones.  The ducks have a really cute squeak but I haven’t heard them whistling yet.  The frogs that bleat like sheep are back – and it is quite unnerving.  I keep looking for a flock of lambs to no avail.  There is a GIANT carcass of an Armadillo in the grass.  It is about the size of a large cat.  I guess it was run over and then the predators had some tasty lunch.

Whistling (squeaking) ducks – their babies are spotted!

I mentioned before that Muscovy Ducks are called Backyard Ducks in Mexico where they originate.  That means they are a tasty lunch in Mexico…  While I was sitting at the pond I spotted an older Mexican couple who were gardening at one of the houses.  They were taking quite an interest in all the ducks and I watched them with trepidation.  ‘You can’t eat these ones – they have names!!’  I was overreacting because they just wanted to ooh and aah over the ducklings like all of us.  In Baja, Teddy and I had the most delicious duck and pomegranate tacos but I didn’t name those ones…  What a hypocrite I am, especially since I have eaten many interesting animals in our travels across the world.  Alligator is chewy, BTW, as is camel.

As much as I still enjoy my pond and its critters, I realize that I live in an idyll far removed from many Americans.  In our township, you are not allowed to discharge a weapon for any reason, especially not to hunt.  There are no fireworks allowed at any time and a million other regulations.  As frustrating as our quarantine has been, I can only imagine what it is like in crowded public housing with no job to go to.

Great Heron walking in Pond Weeds

May we exit this pandemic in peace and live more equitably with compassion for every member of society.

All these photos are taken by the marvelously talented Teddy who has a new exhibit for his photography.

 

Our first date…

 

…since the Pandemic started.  We moved into our ‘new’ house 16 years ago when we moved to Texas from Cairo.  One of the reasons was that it was a 5 minute walk from our house to a local steakhouse and bar.  We don’t go that often as it is expensive but it is a lovely treat at happy hour.  Now you have to make reservations and observe restaurant social distancing.  It was a tad weird to see our usual servers in masks and gloves but lovely at the same time.  They welcomed us like old friends.  We both had to sit at the same side of the booth to be the requisite distance from the next booth which was very romantic.

It’s a fancy place but not pretentious and we dressed up.  Teddy has lost so much weight that his Tommy Bahama’s good shirt could have fitted both of us in it – time for the charity box.  I can fit into my old skinny clothes and I am wearing my favorite cream Max Studio dress worn with an ‘antique’ brown velvet jacket from Bandera, Texas.  I am pretty sure the previous owner has passed on but I love to think of the events she may have worn it to.  At the restaurant I ate my steak like a ravenous wolf and devoured the whipped potatoes.  Then we had a bottle of wine AND DESSERT.  It was all gluten free – just like my life now.

Like many of us, I have spent quite some time on introspective thought.  My mental health has been good given the circumstances and I realize that I enjoy social isolation (and the calm that comes with that).  Rather sadly, I went into the airport and handed back my badge and keys.  I have been volunteering for 11 years or so and it was the strangest sensation to see how quiet everything was.  The volunteering program has been suspended temporarily but I had already decided before the pandemic that it was time for me to do something new.  I doubt I will have any VIP work for the next year but that might pick up in the future.  It is a special birthday for me in July when I turn 60 – WHAT!!!!  We had vague plans of a short trip somewhere but who knows.  We could spend the rest of our lives just exploring Texas…

Is anyone else totally fed up with the Pandemic euphemisms?   These Challenging times, Unusual circumstances or The New Normal.  It’s a bloody Pandemic – just call it what it is.  The best new word I came across is Covidiot which means someone who doesn’t follow Pandemic Protocol.  On that note I was scolded at two separate grocery stores.  ME – compliant citizen exemplified!  The first time I waited patiently in the line to go in a smaller store, wore my mask and kept my distance.  At the checkout I stood behind the plexiglass but wasn’t standing in the taped yellow box.  The older gentleman, checking my groceries out, asked me to move back, and I apologized profusely.  I was mortified.  Today, I went through the 15 items only checkout at another store.  I guess I had about 20 items which has never been a problem in the past.  This time I had to pay for the first 15 items, and then the extra items separately.  This time I almost blushed.  I sheepishly left the store reminding myself to count the items next time.

Some very classy citizens have been behaving very badly during these ‘challenging times’ and I don’t want to be part of that mob.  One mother created a ruckus at Red Lobster (a seafood chain of restaurants) because she had to wait.  I guess nobody knew she was Mother of the Year??  It doesn’t sit well when so many of our population are food hungry right now.  Thank you once again to all the essential workers who have worked so hard to keep us safe.  The least we could do is to make their jobs easier.

Happy Memorial Day – E Pluribus Unum.

Mask Couture

Finally, our masks arrived from China!  I made Teddy dress up for the photograph – you may as well rock social distancing!  I put on eye makeup for the first time in months and had to take it off as soon as the photo was taken…  As I look at celebrity and other videos, I wonder if we will be less vain when the Pandemic is over?

I noticed a change at the store today – there was hand sanitizer and toilet tissue and paper towels!!  My gluten free shelf was all stocked up and I breathed a sigh of relief.  As soon as I did, waves of guilt washed over me for all the people who have no food.  I read Reuters World news to keep a real perspective of Covid-19’s effect on the world.

On a happier note, I saw Mama and Papa Bluebird on their nesting box today, along with a large but young Great Heron and a family who had adopted a rescue dog during the lock-down.  Bravo to them!

Keep safe, keep well and thank you to all our essential workers.

A Little Levity

It drives me crazy that of all the lovely shots I had taken of me in my wedding dress for our thirtieth wedding anniversary, this is the one blown up on my husband’s office wall.  I guess that is the Kerry that he really loves.  Right now at this crossroad in history we need some lightness.  The last time I felt panicked about going out was in 2003 in Cairo, Egypt.  The Second Gulf war had started and there was a perceived threat of weapons of mass destruction.  We were advised to stay home in case Westerners were a target.

Don’t you love the vista behind our balcony?

Since I looked like I did above, it was obvious that I wasn’t Middle Eastern but I couldn’t stand being in the house.  I strode out silently daring anyone to harass me.  Nobody did…I probably looked like a crazy lady.  Then I felt silly.  Now we have to socially distance.  I went to Trader Joe today (our Marks and Spencer sorta) and there were little yellow lines painted 6 ft. distance.  They were only allowing a limited amount of shoppers and it was the quietest I have ever seen the shop – bliss.  As you approached the shop, the Trader Joe artists (there are always some on staff to paint the signs) had put little encouraging words on the yellow stripes.

“Getting closer…”

“Almost there…”

When I got to the checkout desk, I had a little chat with the lady. “I look ridiculous with these black hair dye gloves,” I said.  “Oh, no, I have seen much worse…” she returned with a chuckle.  Then my imagination went into overdrive with WWII gas masks and Breaking Bad yellow boiler suits.  Then I went home and disinfected my purchases.  Earlier in the day, Teddy was convinced he had appendicitis.  I reassured him that it was probably gas and this wasn’t a good time to go to our doctor’s office.  It is right across the road from a retirement community that has been quarantined because of a significant outbreak of Covid 19.  I checked his temperature and poked the sore bit, made him bend over to check for sciatica.  Then I scolded him for being hypochondriacal at the wrong time in human history.  He seems to be fine now – usually Dr. Kerry can scare most illnesses away.  The gas came out eventually – so much so that I fell about laughing and sprayed air freshener in our house.

It hasn’t been long since I had a major bout of depression and anxiety.  I have good days and bad during this crisis but so does everyone.  For the first time, most of you can empathize with how a chronically mentally ill person feels ALL THE TIME.  It is so exhausting to be terrified and worried about everything.  Now there is a pandemic and I am doing okay.  After I reassured Teddy that he wasn’t dying, I went for a walk around the pond and up to the reservoir.  Many years ago, my friend Anne and I took our bikes many miles to our nearest reservoir in Glasgow at Cathkin Braes.  The sign said, “NO TRESPASSING!” but we were about 13 years old with that ‘who cares’ attitude.  We were having a lovely time when the warden found us.  Oh dear… we got a dreadful row about how dangerous reservoirs were and to go home immediately.

Boris and Natasha, the Muscovy Ducks

I REALLY wanted to ignore the NO TRESPASSING sign, at my reservoir today, but two Sheriffs had already passed me.  I just stood and enjoyed the ozonic breeze wafting down from the water.  A Great Heron was fishing for her lunch at the spillway.  She must have caught a dozen little silvery fish that sparkled before disappearing down her gullet.  She was pretty husky for a heron…  Back at the pond I almost stood on the fattest Muscovy duck – I think the neighbors feed her because she isn’t afraid of me.  Teddy usually lumbers after me on walks round the pond – he has a big actual footprint and frightens all the critters away.  This time I was able to see around 20 little turtles sitting on a mud bank with a single White Egret.

I saw a variety of neighbors and we all kept our 6ft distance, shouting the news at one another.  The great leveler is how awful we all look.  Grey roots, no makeup, stubbly beards, Walmart clothes and no one cares.  My Walmart tops are all from the thrift store so I have Eco Brownie points.  Our cul de sac is in a state of excitement right now because we have a new nest with a Black Crowned Night Heron.  They aren’t particularly common round here.  Teddy and I sat out on our deck on Sunday and a perfect little Downy Woodpecker came really close in the tree right above our head.  She had no red markings yet and seemed to be fascinated by the humans.  She tapped and tapped, entertaining us for a full hour.  Take comfort in small moments of joy and be as safe as you can be.

THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD  – POSTSCRIPT 

As I was writing this post, I heard an inordinate amount of sirens – police, fire engines and ambulance.  We live close to one of our major routes within the forest but we haven’t heard them for weeks since everything went pandemic crazy.  I was so bored that I considered going out to see what idiot had sped through our cross stop or ran over a pedestrian but decided to keep watching Animal Planet.  Then our neighbors sent a round robin to say that some desperate guy had robbed people at gunpoint in one of our furthest subdivisions and sped away.  He had gone into our sleepy little street to escape the police and then exited only to wreck his scooter in front of the pediatric hospital across the road.  He is now in critical condition – I guess God decided he deserved a Darwin award.  To give some perspective, this is a sleepy backwater with very little crime so this is unprecedented.  Today was a strange day for me, not just because of the weird robber, and I had already been considering opening a bottle of wine.  The wine is finished…  On a really sad note, two of the elderly residents of the retirement community have died – may they rest in peace.

 

Heaven und Hell

This is St, Mary’s old church, or die alt Kirchee in Fredericksburg, Texas.  Below is a closeup of the marker.  We still use the work Kirk in Scotland to refer to Protestant churches, usually Church of Scotland.  I knew a Scottish lady here in Texas who hunted fruitlessly for a church that resembled anything like churches in Scotland.  Everything was either too Mega, think Joel Olsteen, or Happy Clappy as we refer to evangelists in Scotland.  I suggested she try the Catholic Church as they are pretty similar all over the world.  Her look of dismay could have turned me to stone…😈

Just across the road from these lovely churches is a dark, imposing building…

Doesn’t that look scary???  It is right across from both the courts and Catholic Cathedral just to enhance what poor life choices you made, back in the day.  They don’t play around with Crime and Punishment in Texas.

I try to be a good citizen and I lit a candle in the church for my recently departed uncle.  Then Teddy and I raised a glass of wine for him and he would have thoroughly approved.  To add more brownie points for my ‘trying to get to Heaven’ profile, I intervened with a tourist situation in the fudge store.  I saw a family of white Latin Americans, maybe Argentinean, speaking softly, in Spanish, while looking at the wonderful, delicioso fudge.  The girl behind the counter couldn’t hear that they were speaking another language and she said, rather loudly, “Do y’alls want chocolate coated fudge?”  They looked at her, perplexed, and I asked if I could help them. “Mi espanol es malo, voy a tratar!”  They smiled and said they were just looking.  I passed on the translation to the girl behind the counter who looked with astonishment at the German looking lady (me) who spoke Spanish.  It is a small, strange world.

BTW, according to family records my Dellinger relative came to North Carolina from Oberacker in Bavaria.  No wonder I like living in a forest…🌲🌲🌲

How to cope…

…during this toilet tissue crisis.  It seems we are globally asinine regarding hoarding toilet tissue, from the comments of my followers on my last post.  Teddy reminded me that we were young, back in the 60’s, it was not uncommon for people to have outside toilets (cludgies in Scottish dialect) which would have a piece of string with carefully cut out newspaper squares hanging off it.  He was horrified at the idea of black ink over his bottom.  Think of all the ways we could passive aggressively make a statement.  The National Enquirer seems like a natural start but then you could try out The Epoch Times or go in the opposite direction with the Socialist Worker Newspaper.  There is something for everyone whether you are right or left wing.  My favorite would be The Super Soaraway Sun – a terrible rag in the UK that always had a topless wench on Page 3.  Dirty old men on buses in Glasgow would leer at you while looking at said page.

At this point in my dissertation on ways to cope, I need to segue into a brief story from an old workplace in Scotland.  It was a small oil service company that Teddy and I both worked at.  They had employed a young gal, as a cleaner, whose assets were ample.  She had the dubious pleasure of being the youngest girl to star on the aforementioned Page 3.  There was a company noticeboard and she put up a notice to this effect.

EXOTIC DANCING – £10

TOPPLES EXTRA

That’s what happens when you don’t finish school…and I am not making this up.

Back to the important discussion about toilet paper – on my first visit to Cairo INTERNATIONAL airport, the cleaning lady handed me two sheets of paper.  That was your limit unless you ate nuts from the airport bar like my stupid husband did.  Then you need to shout for a full roll and a hose down while you are at it.  I spoke to my aunt Maureen in Ireland today and she told me that they used a Dock leaf to wipe your bum when they lived at the farm in Sligo.  Not sure how useful that would be in the middle of Dublin but just giving my readers options.  As I walked around the containment pond with Teddy today, I looked for Dock leaf equivalents but I am pretty sure that I would pick poison ivy or its equivalent in Texas.  That would be a whole other hospital experience.

Teddy and I ventured out to the supermarket yesterday.  I wore my plastic hair color gloves that are free in every packet – why would you bother to wear gloves when you are putting the dye all over your head?  There was an elderly man wearing a fetching black pair that looked like something the Forensic Team might wear.  There were no toilet rolls, wet wipes or paper towels.  I had a light bulb moment and picked up ONE packet of white serviettes/paper napkins which would work for bum or kitchen counter.  Someone looked at me and had the same thought.  I bet there are no napkins today…  I started to wonder what my Nana did because we didn’t have paper towels back in the day.  We must have used dishcloths for everything.  Old habits die hard so I keep all the old t-shirts/bleached towels and reuse them for dirty jobs.  If you are really stuck you could cut up an old towel into small pieces to wipe personal areas.  Then you could bleach them in a diaper bucket.  Now you all know why bidets are the most marvelous invention – no toilet paper needed!  I loved mine in Egypt – great for nosy cats, dirty feet and bottoms.  If I ever remodel the bathroom, I am going to try to get one installed.

I hope this carefully thought out article has helped during this pandemic.  Keep laughing and keep safe.  This too will pass but you will never run out of toilet tissue ever again.

Yellow Pollen or Pandemic?

 

I watered the garden yesterday and this is the pollen that washed off the drive.  It is everywhere and each year the residents in our little forest cough profusely.  The yellow pollen is from the Pine trees but Oak pollen is around at the same time to add to our misery.  Tree pollen is larger than other types and tends to get stuck up your nose (on your clothes, hair, car…)

I washed the deck yesterday…

Once the news of Covid 19 reached us my OCD habits kicked in and I stocked up on reasonable amounts of disinfectant and cleaning products.  Over the last month or so, I have been really depressed and anxious.  I stopped all my work and volunteering which was unnecessary as for the foreseeable future, I will have no work as it relies on people traveling.  I laugh wryly.  Then I increased my anti-depressant and feel much better.  But I am stuck in the house with Teddy…  He had flu a couple of weeks ago or at least we think it was.  I disinfected every part of the house and really wanted to spray him in a light bleach solution but I know that is unreasonable (but I really wanted to).

The PERP

This morning I went to Kroger at 8 am and the locusts had descended.  I considered asking one woman why she needed to fill her WHOLE trolley with toilet tissue but thought better of it despite a devilish thought about how big her butt was.  Three hurricanes gives you plenty of experience of mentally unstable residents in supermarkets.  During Hurricane Ike we had fully armed officers in supermarkets to keep control – where are you when we need toilet tissue??

So, during this low period I have been hunkered down in the house, square eyed from watching too much TV, unable to write blogs and now I want to PLAY!!!  Talk about timing.  I am ready to go back to work, go for lunch or go on vacation. After the stressful supermarket expedition, I looked in the mirror and saw my gray roots.  My hairdresser cut my hair really short in case I couldn’t see her for a while.  Think GI Jane, except older.

Sally Beauty won’t be busy, I thought.  It was wonderfully quiet until a lady (with the same gray root situation as me) needed to look at Clairol hair colors.  We were being terribly polite and trying to keep our distance.  Then I felt a yellow pollen tickle and coughed – loudly.  Both of us looked at each other in horror and I shouted, “ALLERGIES!” and we burst out laughing.  Then we started talking about realities of catching COVID 19 and agreed that we could catch it anywhere.  Even in a beauty shop, because nobody wants to be in isolation with your gray roots showing. 👩‍🦳

Fredericksburg ist Wunderbar!


It took us many hours to drive to Fredericksburg, mostly because it is 235 miles from our home but also it was Christmas time and we had to pass south of Austin. Austin has the unfortunate title of most congested city in Texas (and you thought Houston traffic was bad…) Would y’alls please stop moving to Texas??? We tried to stop in Bastrop but they were queuing out the door for the only open restaurant downtown on Sunday and it was bloody freezing. There is a distinct difference in weather between our house in the swampy south and the drier climate of the middle of Texas in hill country. We ended up at a Dunkin Donuts but it was fine.


When we finally reached Fredericksburg, we quickly unpacked and left our hotel which was disappointing. Ah well, the weather was beautiful – vividly blue skies with cool, clear weather and sunshine. It seemed that most of Austin and San Antonio was visiting Fredericksburg but there was a fun atmosphere. There seemed to be more wineries since we last visited and now you can drink wine in a disposable cup along the main street, meandering between wineries, on a SUNDAY! I bet some of the original inhabitants were turning in their graves… When we moved to Texas, almost 16 years, I was delighted and fascinated that many counties were still dry (no alcohol). Modern life has reached us but you still can’t buy hard liquor on a Sunday.

If you are wondering about my hypocrisy – ‘unwanted people moving to Texas” – of course I have German ancestors in the Heinz 57 variety of my DNA! My great grandparents were Dellingers who settled in North Texas in the 1880s. The original Dellinger was from Baden in Germany. I think that gives me a legitimate claim to thoroughly enjoy all aspects of German Texas… 😊 Just recently an Irish cousin discovered that our Leonard ancestors in Ireland were originally Leinnarts from Germany – that was a real surprise. It shouldn’t have though been because several people spoke to me in German on both visits to Fredericksburg. I just pretend that I am REALLY German because it makes visitors happy. When I was 7, I went on a trip to the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. I was wearing a kilt and Aran sweater with long dark ringlets. A group of American tourists wanted to take photographs of the cute little Irish colleen and my mum whispered, “Don’t tell them you are American.”

By the time Teddy and I reached the end of the Main Street we were desperate for a drink and enjoyed a gorgeous local rose wine from a winery which quenched our thirst. We started talking to another couple, about our age, with that excitement you get when meeting another couple on vacation. They were just visiting for the day but we enjoyed chatting together, losing our inhibitions. On our solo return we realized that our tummies were empty. I could smell an amazing smell right behind this winery – Fischer and Weiser. They were only serving snacks when we went in but told us that the smell emanated from a tiny shack behind the street. I would have missed it, if the staff hadn’t pointed it out.

I haven’t eaten a burger since the ‘80s but this was the best that I have ever had! The delightful owner, Jennie, makes the burgers from smoked brisket and they were soooo good. When she told me she was from Peru then it all made sense – Peru is the gastronomic capital of Latin America. Everything tastes amazing, even the bread. So we go all the way to Fredericksburg and eat a burger made by a lovely Peruvian lady – but I bet it was local beef! It was the Sunday before Christmas but warm enough to eat outside in twilight. Welcome to Texas.

Fredericksburg Fox Squirrel

As we meandered along the beautiful High Street, we noticed that the visitors had changed. At one time it was mostly white local visitors but now the Far East and Latin America were represented. Many of them seemed like family groups – I guess this might be one of the destinations for visitors arriving at Houston. So many hundreds of thousands of snowbirds fly in during the winter holidays. On that note, I read a hilarious piece in my news feed about flocks of Grackles terrifying the North! They are migratory sub tropical birds that settle in vast roosts – so successful in the Houston area that they are spreading North.

Grackle, courtesy of Pixabay

There was too much sunshine to make this a good shot but I just love Teddy surrounded by giant Cacti!

2020, eh?

pink hue

The jury’s out but so far 2020 has been less than good.  Catastrophic world news has saddened me but I hope February is better for us all.

On a much lighter note, Teddy noted that our water bill was higher than normal during September and October before the sprinkler system was turned off.  He worried the problem to death until I said I would use a hose in 2020.  He completely ignored that we live in a bubble of oil and gas, I work at an airport so should have Flygskam/flight shame  and we drive two large but old Coupés with little or no public transport available.  What’s a little water – Lord knows enough rain has fallen in Houston??  I jest, of course, and am scrupulous in using water efficiently.  Last month we used $24 of water so keep downwind of us…

Then our dishwasher (15½ years old) starting making death rattles – our appliance guy said he couldn’t repair any of our old stuff anymore.  Our microwave is rusty, also.  Once I started researching models and prices, I realized it would be cost efficient to replace almost everything (and pay for them to be recycled to avoid new appliance shame/Ny apparat skam).  Thank goodness the laundry is fine and the oven looks brand new because I don’t use it.  When I was young, we had to get a new gas fire for the living room.  There were no savings because my mum was a mentally ill alcoholic on disability.  She bought it on HP and worried about every payment.  That is why I have scrimped and saved our whole lives.

My girlfriend in Scotland had a similar situation with a dangerous gas fire in her bedroom when we were school girls.  She only discovered it was really leaking carbon monoxide when two of us left her room and fell over.  I guess it could have been much worse??  We shared the experience of neglectful alcoholic parents but can still laugh about some of it.  On that note, I have stopped drinking alcohol (until I start again).  I would really like to stop completely but I know myself.  Teddy and I shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio a few days ago and I still feel like I was hit by a bus – or I have a virus!!!!

I had a huge contract job with a manifest that was inches deep – and thousands of clients came from all over the world.  By the third day, I could see that I had feet but could no longer feel them.  Ever loving Teddy kindly drove me to work on the third day.  I can tell that my mood is ‘interesting’ as my hair has been PINK, rose gold and now boring dark blonde, all in one month.

Finally, I was completely shocked by a ‘#MeToo situation’ that had passed me by.  When I worked in Scotland, Alex Salmond, the first Minister of Scotland lived in the next village.  I had met him on several occasions, some connected to my work with local communities.  He seemed utterly charming although I didn’t agree with his politics.  Last week, I noticed in the news that his trial for sexual assault against a variety of women is starting in March.  It is not often that you know the celebrity predators (allegedly) but I am shocked – he didn’t seem the type.  My American friend asked me if he had predated me but luckily I was fat with dark hair then, so flew underneath most men’s radar.

Life is absurd, isn’t it?  One minute you narrowly dodge death by leaky gas fire, the next you avoid a predator’s attention by eating too much crap.  Got to keep laughing…😁