Every Cloud

Apparently every one of them has a shiny metallic inside covering.

Today we were awake and ready to rise from 8am. That was the earliest the “Rat Man” would arrive. With that in mind, Scamp was up and out by 9.30. I was much more relaxed and waited ‘till the end of the chapter of the excellent “Lies Sleeping”, well actually it was the end to the second chapter as it turned out. Still, I’m trying to meter myself with this book, because I know it will be another year before the next one gets published. After coffee and the first run through of today’s Sudoku puzzle, it was time to go back up stairs to clear out the top three shelves of the ‘tank press’ cupboard. It’s been called that since we moved in to the house thirty odd years ago and about twenty years since the actual hot water tank was removed. We waded into the multiple tins of paint, varnish and paint remover. We sorted through boxes of hammers, saws, chisels and gouges. We threw out a fair bit of what might be called antiques, but were really just rubbish and we put the rest back in a much more orderly manner. All this because we worried that the rodents might have built themselves a nest in that cupboard. They hadn’t, thankfully, but as Scamp said, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” I have to agree the cupboard looks a lot more organised. She also said that we should look, next, at the ‘towel cupboard’. So called because it has towels in it. It’s also got loads of cables, cardboard boxes, more cables, boxes of Lego and even more cables. This may take a little longer.

After lunch the “Rat Man” phoned to say he’d be with us in about an hour, and he was as good as his word. He still seemed determined that the rodents were in the loft, but we insisted that we’d heard them last night in the ceiling void. He inspected my handiwork blocking up the hole in the downstairs cupboard and seemed very impressed. What did he expect from an ex-woodwork teacher? He did a fairly extensive survey of the outside of the house back and front and agreed with the lady on the phone who had suggested that he’d probably put down an external box with poison that it’s hoped the rodents will carry in under the house and feed the family in the nest. A sort of rodent Trojan Horse. With that done he went to inspect the house at No 26 where he thought he had seen a possible access hole near the steps to their back door. We bid him farewell and hoped that when he returned in a week’s time we’d have a quieter house.

It was a dull, dreary day, but I’d already got a PoD. While we were waiting for the “Rat Man” I had taken a few shots of Scamp’s Christmas Rose plant on the back step. The flowers are beautiful and just seem to keep coming. The best shot it at the top of the page. Camera on a Gorilla Pod allowed me to use low ISO and remote control from the phone app. That prevented me from getting grain like golfballs in the low light.

That was about it for the day. I think we may be going in to Glasgow tomorrow so I can get my hair cut. New year, New hair.

The Plan – 3 January 2019

The plan was to get up early and fix the kitchen light. It didn’t work out that way, neither did the kitchen light.

Ok, we did get up fairly early. Before 10am is fairly early these days. Started the fix on the kitchen light, with limited success. That translates as it didn’t work. It looked like the fluorescent tube was a goner. So, it was time to have a coffee, start to solve today’s sudoku and take stock. In the mean time I got a text to say that my pills were ready in Boots. Scamp suggested we go to Tesco (surprise!) where she could get milk and stuff and post the calendars.  At the same time I could go to Boots to get my pills. Then we’d go to B&Q to get a new lamp for the kitchen. On the way we could drop the old HP computer off at the dump. That sounded like a solid Plan B.

Tesco and Boots were no problem, nor was the council dump, it was when we got to B&Q that the problems started. We’d had the old fluorescent light for so long we’d forgotten that they are no longer made or to be more accurate, they’ve been superseded by LED units. The LED lamps seem to have no user replaceable parts in them any more, are simpler to fit and are more expensive, of course. No problem, we got one.

Got home and fitting was simpler than the previous one, once I’d drilled the fitting holes in the right place (second time lucky). Also lucky not to electrocute myself when I accidentally crossed two live wires. Silly bugger. Turn the power off at the box before doing anything with ‘lecky. Those tiny little LEDs don’t half provide a powerful light. Nice white light too. Apparently they have a five year lifespan. We’ll see.

Today’s PoD was taken in the front garden and processed in ON1 2019 where it did a magic trick called Focus Stacking. To prevent your eyes glazing over I’ll leave it at that. If you want to know any more Google it. Green shoots in the first week of January. Maybe Hazy is right and spring is just round the corner. We’ll see.

Lady from the pest control company phoned to say that someone will be here tomorrow to set down some poison outside the house in the hope that the rodents will take it to their nest and kill off the whole lot of them. Now last night the rodents were running around like mad thing right above my head and I was getting a bit upset, so Scamp suggested we email our MSP and see if he could do anything. Suddenly today we get a call from the pest control company suggesting their own Plan B. Coincidence?

It wasn’t the brightest of days today, in fact it was pretty dull all day so we didn’t get very far, but we do have a bright new sun in the kitchen. Maybe tomorrow we’ll get out somewhere nice, after the “Rat Man” has been.

Out to Lunch – 29 December 2018

So, should we got to Glasgow? Should we go to Stirling? Maybe neither.

Instead of these two destinations we chose Cumbersheugh. To be exact, we went to Milano and Scamp was driving. Scamp had a massive bowl of mussels well coated in tomato and garlic. I had a pizza with Italian sausage. With Scamp driving, I could even indulge myself with a glass of wine while Scamp had the soda water and lime. After a delicious lunch (no sarcasm for once) we drove to Tesco for milk and walked out with three bags of various provisions, and the milk.

Once we got parked again and deposited the food, I took a couple of cameras for a walk in St Mo’s because we still had sunshine and blue skies. I found an interesting shot of the hawthorn bush you see at the top of the page. For once it didn’t take a lot of work to get a decent image out of it.

When I came home from St Mo’s tonight I drilled a small hole in the plasterboard wall in the back bedroom and dropped some poison mixed with sugar into the cavity. Let’s hope a spoonful of sugar will help the medicine go down. Murdo’s suggestion. Apparently the sugar entices the rodents to take the poison. We’ll see. Later I spoke to the woman next door at 36 and she has the same problems as us. She has the “Rat Man” coming to visit on the 3rd January and will direct him to us when he is done. Val says he had the same problem years ago and the only way he got satisfaction was to get everyone on the block to keep at the council until the problem was solved. That’s what we’ll have to do to.

Tonight we had our ‘essential’ Churros from my Boxing Day walk. Despite being a little less crunchy than ‘real’ churros, they were very tasty. Now watching “Guys and Dolls” and drinking Black Rum ’n’ Cokes. One each.

No plans for tomorrow. We’ll take it as it comes.

Rain, sleet, snow, freezing rain, ice, plagues of frogs – 15 December 2018

We were amply warned about all of the above, except the plagues of frogs, but only the rain and a thin covering of snow appeared.

Woke to a dull leaden sky and a thin scraping of snow and expected the worst. By midday the dull leaden sky was still there, but the snow was disappearing and it was raining. Still the weather fairies predicted rain, sleet, snow and freezing rain with roads and paths being reduced to treacherous skating rinks. It rained some more.

We had decided not to go to Embra today, not because of the weather fairies predictions, but because it was just so dull. What was the point when it would be equally dull in Embra. We could save money and do some work in the house instead. I volunteered to take apart the back bedroom in the search for the rodent that still evades us. I moved my art cupboard and lifted the carpet, found a convenient floorboard to lift and found no evidence of there ever having been a rodent in that area. Before I put everything back in place, I took the opportunity to fill a big IKEA bag with a load of unwanted painting canvases and also some odds and sods from the chest of drawers. The rain was getting heavier so I postponed the dumping of the rubbish until tomorrow … at least.

That was the high point of the day. By then it was about 2pm and we were almost at twilight. Tidied the room back to its usual chaotic level and had a cup of coffee. Realised I’d very little coffee left, so ordered some from the Perth shop. Also ordered a new Toy off the Rack. A Raspberry Pi Zero W. The ‘W’ stands for WiFi.

<Technospeak>
This is a miniature computer with a 1.2GHz processor half a gig of memory WiFi and Bluetooth for the princely sum of just under £10. Ok, you have to supply your own keyboard and mouse and also a TV to see what’s going on. I runs on Linux which is a Windows-like OS that is totally free. The best part is that the whole shebang can be powered by a battery pack and is smaller than a cigarette packet. Great for experimenting with and getting your fingers burned when you have to solder some connections but if it all goes off with a bang, you’ve only spent a tenner.
</Technospeak>

Dinner was a plate and a half of Scamp’s delicious soup which is officially called “Just Broth”. Later we had a second go with the ‘Air Fryer’ and this time it was a lot more successful. Made potato wedges that tasted just like my usual ones.

PoD is a wee Lego model of a snail, or maybe it’s a tortoise. It’s hard to tell with Lego. Anyway, I wasn’t going out today, so this was it.

Tomorrow we go searching for food for dinner, hopefully the rain will have stopped and the plagues of frogs will have dissipated by then.

The wanderer returns – 10 December 2018

Scamp was on the road this morning on the return journey from Blackpool.

I was on the road even earlier, but I was walking. Just a gentle stroll around St Mo’s ponds then a walk through the trees. I’d been up earlier to check the traps and found I’d got one rodent. I thought at first it was a mouse, but later realised it was probably a small rat. Either way, it wasn’t going anywhere so I left it to go and get some photos in the hoar frost that lay over everything. Some beautiful lighting at that time in the morning. It was one of those shots that made PoD.

Finished my walk by going in to Condorrat to get bread and a couple of rolls. One of the latter would be eaten with butter and jam, washed down with a cup of my new blend 2 parts Cuban and 1 part Kenyan beans. Count the air miles and therefore the amount of CO2 that has been spread across the world all because of my desire to drink coffee. It’s worth it.
The other roll would hold a medium-rare square sausage. So called because it’s square and it’s made of sausage meat. Clever use of language there.

After my coffee and the roll ’n’ jam, I disposed of the rodent in the trap and nearly lost a finger resetting the trap. Checked the other traps, but they were empty. Next I set to work on cutting and laying the new carpet tiles in the downstairs toilet. As usual with these things, I started out very slowly and deliberately, and finished by cutting corners, literally. You’d never tell. Strangely only one of the six tiles had its nap running the wrong way. It looks good, so good that Scamp didn’t even notice that it had been done. Not surprising as the colour of the tiles is remarkably close to the original. It’s only when you walk on the new tiles you realise the quality is much better than the thin tiles that are now in the boot of the car, ready to be taken to the dump. I think I earned that medium-rare square sausage on a well-fired roll.

Scamp eventually returned about 4pm and after dinner we went out to Salsa where we learned or for us, re-learned an old move: Setenta Batman. One of the moves which look impossible until you actually try it. Jamie G described part of it as a “Matrix style turn”. I agree, but I can do it.

Tomorrow, a lazy day, maybe a bit less cold than today, but today was much less cold than a year ago. Go look here!

Feelin’ Good – 8 December 2018

Thankfully, just after ‘Hump Day’ the middle day of the antibiotic course I’m feeling a lot more like myself, crabbit, sarcastic and generally a nuisance.

I didn’t venture out again today although it was a beautiful bright day, well, it was for a while. After that the clouds rolled in and the bright light disappeared. At least the wind had finally calmed down. Scamp was busy writing Christmas cards and I had a pile to sign. After that we had to run the gauntlet of mail merging the addresses database with the MS Word template that holds the place markers. It’s always a bit of a faff. It should be easy, but somehow Word never saves the settings, no matter how many different ways I change the settings. It really is a clever thing, the mail merge and once it’s set up it should be simplicity itself to run, but it isn’t. I shouldn’t complain. At least Word has a mail merge facility. There’s nothing like one in Pages, Apple’s little toy word processor. That might be because I’ve a really old version and haven’t updated it for years. Back at the PC we finally linked to the database and printed out the address labels. So I’ve got a big bundle of cards to stuff into a post box tomorrow.

Today’s PoD is of the wee man plant pot holder that sits in the downstairs toilet. He makes me smile and look at those luminous green eyes.

I meant to mention yesterday that the Christmas Tree is now up and Fairy Nuff is in her rightful place at the top. Her second in command Grumpy Bear is also sitting among the branches. The Christmas lights box was opened and the letter from last year was read. Heads were nodded at achievements and “Hmm”s were hummed at things not done, that should have been. If this means nothing to you, it’s just that you’re not ‘family’ and therefore not party to this annual event.

I said back there that I have to post some cards tomorrow. Since Scamp will probably be half way to Blackpool for her Witches Short Break, I will have to drive the car, my car, myself. This should be achievable as I’ve managed to sit at the computer for an hour or so at a time today without too much discomfort. That, therefore, is the target for tomorrow:

To Drive To Tesco And Post Some Christmas Cards.

The Duel – 5 December 2018

Another Place Marker

Feeling better than yesterday, but still not ready to go out in the world.

The tablets are working. They must be really good because they taste terrible and take ages to go down. Another restless night, just not as bad as the two previous ones.

The “Rat Man” returned today, checked the trap and the bait.  As neither had been touched he declared us free of rodents.

Scamp drove in to Glasgow herself and did some shopping. I did some snoozing. However, when I got up I felt much better and a hot shower definitely helped.

So, I’m on the mend and the rodent problem seems to be over, at least for the present.

Tomorrow’s target it to get out for a walk.

A place marker – 4 December 2018

This is a very short post.

After a very rough night last night, at 8am I phoned the surgery to try to get an appointment with a doc. After asking what specifically was wrong (difficulty passing water) I got an appointment for 10.40am. Doc examined me, asked for a sample which I gave her. This apparently indicated a urine infection so she prescribed a course of antibiotics. Started them right away and they’re working.

The “Rat Man” came in the afternoon and confirmed that there were rat and squirrel droppings in the loft. He didn’t think they were new droppings but he set a squirrel trap and rat poison.

He’ll be back tomorrow to check.

PoD is of one of my new pharmaceutical best friends.

Not intending to go far tomorrow because now that the tablets are working I’m going to the toilet every half hour at least. Finding it awkward sitting on chairs so can’t sit at the computer to process photos.

Avoiding the Christmas party – 3 December 2018

Today, being Scamp’s Gems Christmas party, I had already made plans to avoid it.

The day began around 8.30 when worries started demolishing next door’s bathroom. By the noise, I thought there was a whole squad of them with sledgehammers and maybe a small JCB, but there were only two and they must have been working on piecework by the look of things. Toilet, wash hand basin and loads of pipe work littered the garden. I’d say it was the noise that got us up, but we too had work to do. The preparations for the party wouldn’t fix themselves.

Most of the work was down to Scamp, but I did help with the tidying up, even to the extent of Dysonning the living room and the downstairs hall. Between us we increased the size of the table by inserting an additional leaf. I carried the iMac upstairs and cleared away more of the clutter. Finally, when Scamp went to collect Margie, I made myself scarce and drove in to Glasgow.

My first stop was Tiso to see what they had in the way of waterproof boots. My two or three year old Clarks Goretex boots simply aren’t doing the job any more. Last week I returned home with two wet feet after a less than demanding walk across some boggy fields. I think I need to put the old boots out to pasture and buy a new pair of good walking boots. In Tiso I spoke to a really helpful Latvian sales girl (I couldn’t place her accent, so I had to ask her) who explained the difference between fabric boots and leather ones. Yes, I know it’s obvious, but she explained the science part. That the water in boggy areas is acid and it rots the fabric, but more importantly the thread that holds the boots together. Leather boots have less parts, so less thread. It may be nonsense, but it sounded logical. Once I’ve looked around and seen what’s on offer elsewhere I’ll start trying some on.

Next I wandered round Glasgow’s Winter Wonderland. Well, it was Winter and I was Wondering where all these people were going. The town was mobbed and it was a Monday and just at the start of December too. Gave up eventually and drove home, but not before I got today’s PoD which is almost a panorama of the Glasgow skyline.

Salsa tonight was interesting, but the 7.30 class is getting smaller, much smaller. I fear for its survival. We danced one new one without a name and one called Pan Cortado which sounds like a mixture of a dessert and a coffee drink. Not sure if he’s got it quite right.

Tomorrow we are waiting for the ‘Rat Man’ to come, although with all the banging and drilling with next door’s new bathroom, I think the rodent will have packed its bags and gone somewhere quiet.

Back in the cold country – 23 November 2018

First things first, get rid of the egg!

Breakfast then a visit to the doc’s. Receptionist gave me an appointment for 3.15 THE SAME DAY!! Wow, it must be serious! You don’t usually get an appointment for at least a week in advance.

Back home and Scamp made a valiant attempt to buy Tesco. She almost managed it, I thought the trolley was going to collapse under the weight of the goods in it. Unloaded the car and had lunch then started writing up the blogs from the shorthand notes I’d made on my iPhone. It’s actually easier to write up the blog on my phone than on the PC laptop, but transferring them from the phone to a PC is almost impossible. I finally settled on emailing them from the phone to the iMac, cutting out the middle man of the PC. There’s got to be a simpler way than this Apple.

The big hand had reached 11 and the little hand was crawling towards 3 and it was time to go to the doc’s to see if they would simply chop off my left hand above the elbow or try to decontaminate it a different way. Nurse had a look and said “Wow!” I showed her the photo Scamp had taken on Thursday morning and she said “WOW!!”. She decided that a course of penicillin would do the trick, after questioning me if I’d fallen or banged my elbow. I could see her thinking that I’d probably been under the influence and had fallen without remembering it, but unfortunately I’d been (nearly) sober all the time. She finally agreed that it was probably an infected insect bite. I thought again about the mosquito’s doc asking it if it had taken any controlled substances in the last 24 hours, and it replying “Well, there was this one bloke who must have been taking some strange concoction of pills …”

I’d about 15 mins to wait for my prescription in the chemist so I took a walk into Tesco to see what was on the Black Friday sale. There seemed to be quite a buzz around the TV stand. Folk weren’t exactly fighting for them, but they were certainly going out the store at quite a lick. I spotted one of those No-Oil fryers and thought “Why not!” I don’t think Scamp was too impressed, but we’ll see how it works when I can get round to it tomorrow.

PoD was a flower a Lisianthus to be more exact. Flooers are never a good sign. Must get out tomorrow and get some photos.