Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Lime Lamborghini is Back

I've blogged this lime-green Lamborghini a couple of times before. I just can't help photographing it, it's so eye-catching. And I'm not even a car person.

I came home from work yesterday during lunch to let Olga out and give her her medicine. She's still not ready to resume her walks with the dog-walkers, but she seems like she's continuing to heal. She grabbed the Kong and leaped around, ready to play. It's a major pain for me to get on the tube, walk to the house, tend to her and scarf down a meal and then reverse the journey back to work, all inside one hour. I'll be glad when the dog-walkers can come back. I depend on those people.

We have a huge yucca plant by the back door, and just last week I was telling Dave I thought it might be one of our most successful houseplants. And then over the weekend, I discovered that its lower leaves are infested with scale, a tiny brown plant-sucking insect. Argh! I trimmed off the worst leaves, and got out a pan of water and mild dish soap and wiped down the rest. I don't have any illusions that I have eliminated the scale entirely, but I've knocked it back, at least.

Also, I think I've figured out a way to eliminate our vast oversupply of cinnamon. I've been sprinkling it into my morning coffee, and it's not bad. With six containers to work through, I'll be drinking spicy coffee through at least 2027!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Dogs and Cats and Dinosaurs

It rained almost all weekend here, so I don't have much activity to report. Time for another mishmash of photos from my trusty iPhone, taken in recent weeks mainly while walking Olga!

First, some interesting packing tape on a box in a trash bin. Dogs and cats! (Or are they just dogs?) Regardless -- real good times indeed.

I call this "Suggestive Autumnal Still Life."

When Olga and I walked past this house, those cats were transfixed by her. They couldn't have cared less about me.

I loved this lost dinosaur wellie outside a house near Fortune Green. I want a pair! Unfortunately, by the standards of my feet, it was a size negative two.

Olga, sharing some very sage Buddhist advice...

...and soon afterwards, riding on the prow of a submarine. Or maybe beneath the prow. Which means she's swimming.

There's anarchy at the recently-renovated flat where all the beautiful flowers used to be.

And in the window of the minimalist antique store, which is also now closed and appears to be in mid-renovation, I found these ancient computer manuals. According to my very quick and possibly inaccurate Internet research, the Amstrad DMP 3000 was a dot-matrix printer from the mid-1980s, and Macintosh Performa computers were from the mid-'90s. Antiques in the computer world, at least!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Clean Tennis Balls

To celebrate Olga's clean bill of health, I washed her tennis ball collection.

I realize this is slightly insane, particularly in a world where many people don't have easy access to clean laundry.

But some of those balls were really filthy. She has a tendency to find them lying around in parks and on the heath, where they've been mouthed by countless other dogs, and somehow the cumulative grossness just became obvious to me yesterday morning.

I wish I'd taken a "before" shot, but I didn't. As you can see from the "after" shot above, running them through the washing machine worked really well! (I put it on the delicate synthetics cycle, which is the shortest wash cycle we have. And I guess tennis balls are pretty darn synthetic.)

I cleaned the rest of the house, too, top to bottom -- at least everything I could think of that needed cleaning. It's turning out to be a very rainy weekend, so opportunities for getting out and about are few. It seems like ages since I've taken a real photography walk, but I don't think it's happening this weekend!

In the afternoon I watched "Gone With the Wind," which I hadn't seen in ages. I've always loved that movie, even though so many aspects seem wrong now -- the romanticization (is that a word?) of slavery and Southern culture, Rhett's infantilizing treatment of Scarlett, the depiction of black characters as willing helpers rather than subjugated servants. It's still a great film, beautifully made, and it's amazing to think Olivia de Havilland is still alive! (She's 102.) She and the boy who played Beau are the only living cast members, from what I can tell.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Gods Smile

We took Olga back to the vet last night for a quick post-surgical checkup. The doctor and nurse took off her remaining bandage and looked her over, and she seems to be healing well. Olga has always seemed oblivious to pain, charging heedlessly through thickets and brambles on our walks, and she's no different at the moment -- she acts like the huge lines of stitches on both haunches aren't there at all. (We're still giving her a daily dose of pain medicine.)

Best of all, her pathology reports were already back, and the lumps removed from her legs were benign. Dave and I were both expecting the worst -- I don't know why, except that I always have a tendency to think "worst case scenario" in situations like that, just to prepare myself. Needless to say, we're relieved our worries were unfounded.

I finished "Educated" by Tara Westover -- I definitely recommend it. It's a harrowing and not always pleasant book, but it's also a remarkable story that questions our concepts not only of education but of identity and family. You probably know the story: She was raised in Idaho by survivalists who traffic in scrap metal and herbal medicine and believe school is a government brain-washing plot, and who stockpile food and fuel, believing the End of Days is imminent. Yet she managed to extricate herself and become a rational human being with a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Pretty amazing!

(Photo: The time of unusual fall leaves has begun!)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Bronagh and No. 9

I'm typing this post without my glasses, just FYI. I hereby absolve myself from any typos and/or spelling errors. My glasses are in the next room but I can't be bothered to stand up and go get them. (Why is it a rule that whatever room you're in, your glasses are somewhere else?)

I remember when I first got my reading glasses, a couple of years ago, and the optician asked me whether I needed them to see the computer screen. "Oh, no!" I laughed. "My eyes aren't that bad! I just need them for close-up reading."

Well, now I need them for the computer screen. I probably need new glasses, in fact.

We had a crazy night here. The wind blew and blew. I thought it was all part of Storm Ali, our first named storm of the season, but on reading the news I think it might actually have been Storm Bronagh, the second one, which came hot on the heels of Ali. Anyway, it was so windy that for a couple of hours, between midnight and 2 a.m., I couldn't sleep. There's something about a strong wind that puts a person on edge, you know? Like maybe a tree or a helicopter are going to come crashing through the ceiling.

Those are also the "hot hours," when I am likely to wake up and feel overheated. I don't know why -- something about biorhythms, I suppose -- but I get incredibly hot between midnight and 3 a.m. Then I fall back asleep and I'm cool as a cucumber when I wake up in the morning, even with the same blankets and the same dog/heater sleeping next to me.

Anyway, I went out this morning and we didn't have any wind damage to speak of -- the cosmos were knocked over and one of the buddleias lost a branch, but otherwise things seemed pretty normal.

Olga seems fine. We took off one of her bandages because it was slipping away by itself, and I thought it would be better to get some air to the stitched wound. Fortunately she has shown no tendency at all to nibble or lick her stitches, so although I put a t-shirt on her yesterday when I went to work, I think today I'll let her go without one. She goes back to the vet tonight for a quick follow-up appointment.

(Photos: A house (I think?) on Gondar Gardens, not far from our flat. The creative house number is in the center of the wall, and on this day was festooned with some dead leaves and a feather.)

Thursday, September 20, 2018


I posted this photo of some colorful recycling and rubbish on Facebook, and my aunt called it "interesting." Is that what's known as "damning with faint praise," do you think? "Interesting" always seems to imply a kind of skepticism.

I remember hearing a story years and years ago about Queen Elizabeth II trying a hot dog and pronouncing it "interesting," but I have no idea whether it's really true. I just did an internet search and can't turn up any references to the episode, so maybe it never happened. (There is, however, a rather thorough piece about the likelihood that Prince William has ever eaten a hot dog.)

Anyway, I've buried the lead here, because I know you all want to hear about Olga and her surgery. As you can see, she came through fine, although she was seriously stoned when we picked her up last night. The first thing she did when she got home is go out in the back garden and lie in the grass.

As dark fell we finally coaxed her inside and since then, she's been sleeping heavily. She barely moved all night, from what I can tell, and she's snoring now.

The good news is, the vet said the x-rays showed no serious issues with her back legs. She has some spots that could be mildly arthritic, and causing her a bit of pain, and she gave us some pain medicine for whenever they flare up. No surgery is needed, though.

The bad news -- or the potential bad news -- involves the skin lumps. The doc removed them and sent them away for pathology, but apparently there's a chance that they're mast cell tumors, which can range from benign to very serious and even fatal. We caught them early, but I'll still be on edge about that until we get the pathology report next week. Apparently mast cell tumors are more common in so-called bull breeds like Olga, and they often appear on a dog's hindquarters around the age of 8 or 9 -- which is the right time and the right place. We can only hope, if that's what these were, that they aren't a particularly aggressive type.

We've cancelled Olga's dog walks for the rest of the week, and next week too, so I'll be coming home for lunch to let her outside and check on her. So far she hasn't shown any inclination to nibble on her bandages, but if she does we're supposed to put an old t-shirt on the lower half of her body. She's going to hate that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Ghost Light

Here's another household still life -- we can call it "Computer with Laundry and Crappy Drapes." I was going to bed the other night when I noticed the weird, cold light given off by the computer, and decided to take some shots. Our drapes, like our carpets, really are crappy. They belong to the landlord, and although we're trying to get the carpets replaced we've decided to ignore the drapes (or, as in the living room, take them down completely).

You've got to pick your battles.

I've had that brown blanket ever since I lived in Morocco in the early '90s. It's a brand called Mazafil, which is well-known in Morocco, and it's a great blanket.

Olga is off to the vet this morning -- I'm going to drop her at 8:15. My plan is to take her on her morning walk and then go straight there. That way I don't have to face denying her a customary end-of-walk treat. (She can't eat this morning before her surgery.) I know if I brought her home first and didn't give her a treat she'd hang around the kitchen, looking at me quizzically, and I can't stand those hungry eyes.

Dave and I saw "King of Thieves" over the weekend -- the movie about the Hatton Gardens jewelry heist. It's a good film, made all the more enjoyable by the performances of screen legends like Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent and Tom Courtenay. That burglary was a major event when it occurred over Easter weekend in 2015 -- in fact, I'm surprised I didn't write about it at the time, but apparently I didn't -- so it's interesting to see how a gang of criminal retirees pulled it off.