Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Root Canal

Regarding yesterday's post, my brother has reminded me that my memory is faulty (as usual): "The hole," in my father's house, is not the storage space under the stairs, but rather the closet upstairs under the eaves.

It still makes sense to call our closet here "the hole," though, so in the end the story is the same, unaffected by that small detail. So never mind that, and let's move on to the big news of the day... ROOT CANAL!

I know -- you really, really want to hear about this. I would not dream of disappointing you.

Seriously, it went mostly fine. It was just a matter of holding my mouth open for 45 minutes or so, and dealing with a rubber dental dam meant to keep things from falling down my throat. I never had to wear one of those before, and in fact in the '80s and '90s I remember hearing recommendations that they be used for safer sex. (I am not making this up.) Having now worn one for dentistry, I can't imagine using one for sex. But anyway.

I wouldn't say the root canal was painless, exactly -- there were a few times when the dentist hit the nerve and I felt it, and he had to numb me up a bit more. There was also a brief moment of equipment failure, when he couldn't get one of his drill thingies to work, and I was lying there thinking, "Uh-oh." But finally the hygienist got it going again, and the procedure overall wasn't too bad. It's a heck of a lot better than living with a painful tooth.

When the dentist first removed the gold inlay I've had in that tooth for almost ten years, he saw evidence of both decay and infection beneath it. So the inlay was leaking or somehow allowing the tooth to deteriorate. I've never liked that thing and I'm glad to have it gone. (I saved it to take to a scrap gold dealer -- another bizarre errand to run one of these days.)

Now, I have no pain -- just a gritty temporary filling. A chunk of it came out last night; the dentist warned me that might happen and not to worry. It also tastes terrible, like sucking on a quinine lozenge, but I've read online that that's normal, so I'm not concerned. I think the taste will go away, and I go back in two weeks for a permanent crown. I think the dentist wants me to wait that long to make sure problems don't develop with the root canal itself -- to make sure it's "successful," as he put it.

So now I can say I've had a root canal. Chalk that off my bucket list!

(Photo: A pizza place in Shoreditch.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Hole and the Grammys

We have a little storage closet beneath the stairs off our entrance hall -- a sort of triangular space with a slanted roof, way too small to step into but large enough to hold boxes and shelves. My Dad's house in Florida has one just like it, which we've always called "the hole" -- so it's not surprising that I call our London version by the same name.

The hole tends to gather empty boxes from Amazon and plastic bags from those shopping trips when we don't have our reusable bags handy. Plus gift bags, tote bags, wine bags, used bubble wrap and all manner of small household repair items, like extra pieces of tile and painting supplies from the last time this flat was painted (which, trust me, must have been a long time ago).

This heap of stuff -- some of which pre-exists our tenancy -- had grown to mountainous proportions by the time I opened the hole last week and finally realized it had to be cleaned out. So Sunday night I pulled all the bags, boxes and packaging out into the foyer, and separated it into piles for recycling. I took whatever bags could be reused to work, where we sometimes give them to library patrons who check out a lot of books. I saved a few for us, but only a few.

Somewhat disturbingly, I found evidence of past rodent activity at the bottom of the heap -- scattered droppings (or what I think were droppings) on the lowest layer of bags and floor. But I don't think it's a sign of any current infestation. Nowadays, there's nothing to eat in "the hole." We used to keep bags of bird seed in there but we stopped specifically because I was afraid we'd get mice. I guess we didn't stop early enough, though I never saw any chew marks on the bird-seed bags or anything like that.

Anyway, I threw away the bottom-most bags and vacuumed it all out and now the hole is bare and tidy. And we have a mountain of stuff for the recycling pickup on Friday. You're welcome, Ms. Landlord.

In other news, I've been reading about the Grammy awards. I must say I know virtually none of the artists who won the top trophies -- I've vaguely heard of Bruno Mars but I couldn't tell you what he sings or even what he looks like, really. (I do know Kraftwerk and Leonard Cohen, for what it's worth.) I've listened to some of the nominated stuff on iTunes but it's mostly not my bag. A Times critic seems to feel that the awards still haven't fully acknowledged the power of hip-hop and, because of forces like subtle racism and ageism, the show remains "unimaginative and risk-averse." I just think that, at 51, I am officially too old for the Grammys.

(Photo: Near Aldwych, east London, last month.)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Moor Park to Hatch End

Yesterday, given a partly cloudy day and several hours of free time, I tackled what I thought would be a fairly easy 3.8-mile segment of the LOOP, from Moor Park to Hatch End in northwest London.

It turned out to not be so easy. For one thing, getting up to Moor Park was a challenge because the Metropolitan Line was down for a "trackside fire" (!) and then the train I took stank of smoke. It was pulled out of service a few stops shy of Moor Park, so then I had to wait for another train.

And then, once I finally got on the trail, it was mud-o-rama! I sort of expected that, since we've had a fair amount of rain lately, but I didn't anticipate it being this bad. I was ankle-deep in a few places and for every step forward, it seemed I slid a half-step back.

I came across some blooming gorse -- apparently it flowers year-round. According to my LOOP guide, there's an expression: "When gorse is out of blossom, kissing's out of fashion."

"Pat's Bird Table" was laid out like a smorgasbord in Oxhey Woods. I didn't see any birds, but of course with me standing there, they were probably steering clear.

The path went through a horse farm -- and I mean right through. I was walking past the barns and stables and the trailers and the trash heap, where I saw this little bedraggled hobby horse sitting on top.

And then I passed Pinnerwood House, from the 1700s, the former home of Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton. He's probably best known for being the true author of the famous opening line, "It was a dark and stormy night..." A contest is named for him in which entrants deliberately try to compose a terrible opening sentence for an imaginary novel.

The final part of the walk involved crossing a pasture that was so slippery and full of water that I exclaimed "Oh Lord!" at every step. I felt like Eddie Murphy's aunt falling down the stairs. "Oh Lord! Oh Lord! Oh Lordy!"

Anyway, it was all more challenging than expected and when it was over, I was quite happy to blunder muddily into a pub in Hatch End for a hamburger!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Congo

Olga and I took a long walk to Gladstone Park yesterday morning, just for a change of pace. Olga was excited because she got to look for discarded snacks on Cricklewood Broadway -- she did wolf down some moldy bread and something else from a wrapper before I could stop her, to no apparent ill effect -- and she got to hunt squirrels amid the clustered trees of the park.

I took her earlier in the day because it was supposed to rain yesterday afternoon. But whatever rain we got turned out to be pretty mild.

Otherwise, I would be hard-pressed to tell you where yesterday went. I did some journal transcribing. I Skyped with my mom, and told her how I'd deposited her check electronically and how remarkable that seemed. I did laundry.

I just finished the most amazing book, "Blood River: A Journey into Africa's Broken Heart" by Tim Butcher. It's a non-fiction account of Butcher's attempt in 2004 to retrace the trail of African explorer Henry Morton Stanley through the Congo river basin. That may not sound very remarkable in the modern world, but the Congo -- racked by decades of war, neglect, corruption and violence -- no longer is the modern world. While acknowledging the ravages of colonialism, Butcher shows how the infrastructure that in 1958 enabled his mother to travel from Rhodesia to the Atlantic Coast of the Congo by train and boat has so thoroughly disappeared that towns in the Congolese forest are now stranded islands with little contact with the outside world.

Arriving in one village by motorbike on a rutted, narrow jungle track, Butcher spoke to a tribal elder who remembered cars coming through his village once every few days, decades ago. Now the village is continually pillaged by marauding soldiers, forcing villagers to flee repeatedly into the jungle before returning to rebuild.
"Over the years, things have got worse and worse. We have lost the things we once had. Apart from what we can carry into the bush, we have nothing. I think the last time I saw a vehicle near here was in 1985, but I cannot be sure. All these children you see around you now are staring because I have told them about cars and motorbikes that I saw as a child, but they have never seen one before you arrived." 
He carried on talking, but I was still computing what he had just said. The normal laws of development are inverted here in the Congo. The forest, not the town, offers the safest sanctuary and it is grandfathers who have been more exposed to modernity than their grandchildren. I can think of nowhere else on the planet where the same can be true.
I've always been interested in that part of the world -- ever since I was a child and heard the "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" stories about Stanley and his expeditions. When I collected stamps, I was entranced by those showing the African wildlife, the distant cities with their colonial architecture, the great lakes of the Rift Valley. As a senior in high school in 1984 I wrote a lengthy footnoted paper about history and political conditions in the Congo, then known as Zaire. I called it "a nation in the dark" and "on the edge of total collapse." I still have the paper -- I got a 96, and since then, the collapse has pretty much occurred.

I used to dream of visiting the Congo, taking a steamer on the river and a safari through its vast forests. I've had to get used to the fact that it's just not possible. I'm never going to see it with my own eyes. Butcher is lucky he survived his own journey and was able to write his book.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

River Update

I learned a few interesting things about our river.

For one thing, and most importantly, it is no longer flowing. The workers were out on Thursday and seem to have wrapped up the problem, though there was still a torrent in the gutter on Thursday evening. Later that night it stopped and yesterday, from what I saw, the street was dry -- but there's still a big barricaded hole.

Apparently the crew had been prepared to entirely repair the pipe on Wednesday night, but one of the neighbors complained about noise. So they had to pack up and let the water flow all night before re-attacking the problem the next day. Several of my other neighbors were incensed at this wasteful delay, as I found out at an informal riverside gathering on Thursday morning, and I have to admit I don't know why the water company didn't simply tell the complainers this is an emergency and to suck it up.

Also, Dave said the workers told him that while repairing the broken pipe, another section broke -- so they had to enlarge the hole and fix that too.

We're just happy because we have water again -- we always had it, through this whole ordeal, but sometimes the pressure was incredibly low. Now we're back to normal, the street is dry, and hopefully (cross fingers) we'll stay that way!

(Photo: A friendly street cat in Shoreditch, late last month.)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Winter Lights at Canary Wharf

Last night I went to London't other big light-art show, Winter Lights at Canary Wharf in East London. Unlike the unfortunately brief Lumiere London, this show lasts for ten days and includes 33 artworks both indoors and out. Again, I didn't try to see everything, but I did make it to the largest outdoor installations. Some of the indoor ones proved challenging -- I wound up wandering through acres of glass and marble and escalators and I still couldn't locate a few of them.

"Sonic Light Bubble" by Eness glowed like a big jellyfish in front of the Canary Wharf tube station. It emitted sounds and shifting light patterns, responding to the touch of visitors.

"The Cube," by Ottotto, created a cage of light around a public walkway over the water.

"Halo," by Venividimultiplex, created a glowing solar double-image in one of Canary Wharf's reflecting ponds.

LBO Lichtbank's "Lightbenches" and Kasjo Studios' "Urban Patterns" (rear) brightened Columbus Courtyard. Apparently the benches are a permanent feature.

"Apparatus Florius," by Tom Dekyvere, was a shifting, growing light show meant to symbolize the growth of plants, as I understand it.

"Dazzling Dodecahedron," by Amberlights, may have been my favorite. Visitors were able to climb inside this colorful box and it did indeed seem to dazzle, as you can see from the expression of the boy in my photo. (I didn't go in because I didn't want to wait in line.)

"Intrude" by Amanda Parer brought a trio of inflated, glowing bunnies to Jubilee Park. The bunnies are "intrusive" because they're an ecological pest in the artist's native Australia.

I went to Winter Lights two years ago and saw another work by Parer, as well as Julius Popp's "Bit.Fall," which was on display once again this year. (I think it's also a permanent fixture.)

Anyway, it was fun to get out and do something after work for a change, and unlike my last visit I wasn't pressed for time. (And it wasn't crazy windy or bitterly cold, conditions I seem to remember contending with in 2016.) I had a modest dinner at a sandwich shop while I was there, and lingered long enough to get a good look around -- this is just a selection of all the works I saw.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Our Own Little River

There's a river flowing past our front door.

Yesterday, when I took Olga out early in the morning, I noticed a fairly substantial amount of water running down the gutter -- definitely more than the trickle that would come with a rainstorm. Plus, there was no rain to speak of. So I walked about five houses up the street and found the water bubbling up from a seam between the concrete gutter and the asphalt roadway.

I called our local water supplier, and the woman on the phone said no one had yet reported the leak. She said they'd send a crew "within the next 24 hours," which seemed like a rather blasé response. "It's a fair amount of water," I reiterated to her.

Sure enough, when I got home yesterday evening, it was still flowing. But -- progress! A couple of guys were at the site of the leak, sitting in a truck in their yellow work uniforms, waiting for the authorities to come and close the road. This morning, barricades have been erected, the site of the leak has been excavated and there's more water flowing than ever:

I can even hear it while standing in the front room of the house.

Our own water pressure is down, but the water doesn't seem to be off entirely. I could make coffee, thank God. I wonder why they didn't turn off the main overnight? Maybe they can't, for some reason.

Anyway, it makes me wonder about the state of our pipes. Remember when I was in Florida a couple of years ago, and we had a broken main right in front of our house?

We had another named storm yesterday, too -- Georgina, I think -- but she wasn't of much consequence here. Rain and a bit of wind but nothing scary.

And last night, Dave tried a new vegetarian dish -- a kind of vegetable stew with mushrooms served over riced celeriac. Dave didn't much care for the celeriac -- he called it "baby teeth," and after he said that, that's all I could see in my bowl. Baby teeth. Disturbing! Maybe next time we'll stick with plain old rice.

(Top photo: Phone booths on Whitehall near Parliament Square.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Finding Light in the Dark

Remember Lumiere London, which I wrote about a few days ago? It's one of at least two light-art shows in London at this dark, dark time of year. Another is the Winter Lights show at Canary Wharf, which I hope to get to later this week (and which I've attended in the past).

But light art is going on all around us in the darkness of winter. For example, on Sunday I found these bright images from an advertising screen in Piccadilly Circus being reflected in a beautiful arched window in one of the old buildings there.

It's interesting how the mouth of the model in the advertisement -- and it was different women, appearing on the screen in rotation -- always reflects in that upper left circle of the window. I didn't do that intentionally. It was just where I was standing relative to the window and the advertisement, which must have been very consistent in its placement of the models.

I didn't even notice what the advertisement was for. I know there's a big Coke screen in Piccadilly Circus, but this seems more like fashion or makeup.

Anyway, my point is: A dark urban environment is a festival of light and art!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

New Oven, Old Tooth

I can't believe I haven't told you this yet, considering how much of a stink I've made about it, but we did get our new oven on Saturday morning. Woo hoo! Dave used it last night to make baked stuffed peppers. The appliance guy showed up and swapped it out pretty quickly, and hauled the old one away -- which was great because it needed to be cleaned and now I don't have to think about that at all!

My tooth, meanwhile, feels more or less OK. I have to admit that makes me think, "Why am I having this root canal, again?" But it's just a temporary interlude. The dentist said the pain would go away when the infection cleared, but it would all eventually return unless the tooth is fixed. So I still have to hang around for a week, waiting to get that done. I promise not to talk about it every day.

I just finished an excellent book called "London and the Southeast" by David Szalay. It's about an English salesman whose life spirals into chaos because of a series of bad choices and addictive behaviors. I saw it in the "briefly noted" column in The New Yorker a couple of weeks ago, and ordered it for the library. The weird thing is, though -- it's a 10-year-old book! I'm not sure why it was reviewed now, unless it's just being published in the states -- in which case, what took so long?

(Photo: Near Brent Cross, the day before Christmas.)

Monday, January 22, 2018


A couple of years ago, when Lumiere London was held, I missed it. It's only a few days long, so like many ephemeral manifestations of light, you've got to get out and see it quickly before it fades away.

So this year I made a concerted effort to get into town yesterday -- even though it was raining, and conditions weren't optimal for watching light sculpture.

First I went to an afternoon showing of "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," which was an excellent if disturbing movie. By the time I emerged from the theater it was dark, and time to go looking for the lights.

I found "Flamingo Flyway" by Lantern Company with Jo Pocock -- a trio of illuminated flamingoes flapping gracefully through the streets of Chinatown.

Then there was "Nightlife," a garden of fantastic nocturnal beasts and flowers in Leicester Square, by the same group of artists.

From there I passed Trafalgar Square, where I briefly enjoyed the pulsing light and sound of "Child Hood" by Collectif Coin, described as "a cloud made up of a large number of luminous balloons." I wish I'd gotten closer, but I was on the way to see my main goal...

...Patrice Warrener's shifting, colorful illuminations of the facade of Westminster Abbey.

Known as "The Light of the Spirit (Chapter 2)," the work "paints" the abbey's doorway with incredibly focused, almost psychedelic light.

Pretty amazing, right? That's all just beige sandstone in the normal light of day.

Finally I went to Berkeley Square, in Mayfair, to see "Was That a Dream?" -- a shiny nightingale by Cédric Le Borgne perched in the trees there. (You know how much I like that song, which was playing from a nearby speaker to remind us of the work's inspiration.)

It was a challenge visiting all these works in the rain, but I managed! My only complaint about Lumiere is that it's so short -- only four nights. I wish the sculptures and artworks could stick around longer.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Return of the Goldfinches

Dave and I were surprised to see at least four European goldfinches on our feeder yesterday morning. I wouldn't have thought it was the time of year to see them -- goldfinches supposedly migrate as far south as Spain during the winter -- but there they were, chowing down on our thistle seed.

As you can probably tell from those pictures, it was pretty rainy yesterday. The forecast initially said it would rain only in the morning, so -- being stupidly trusting -- I took Olga for a walk in the afternoon. We got to Fortune Green and had enough time to play fetch with the Kong five or six times, and then went to the cemetery, where we got caught in a drizzly rain of steadily increasing intensity. Pretty soon Olga was huddled under a tree, looking at me imploringly -- and when the dog throws in the towel, I know it's time to go home.

Last night Dave and I went to see "All the Money in the World," which we liked. Christopher Plummer is so terrific as John Paul Getty that it's hard to imagine Kevin Spacey ever had the part. Afterwards we went to dinner in St. John's Wood -- we had a gift card to a restaurant there from one of Dave's students, but by the time we arrived the restaurant was closing. So we went somewhere else. We'll have to save the gift card for another day!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Deposit from a Distance

My mom mailed Dave a check for Christmas, which was very nice of her. But we were left wondering what to do with the check. We could take it to our British bank and deposit it, but then it gets converted to pounds and we lose money on the conversion -- and I think there might be some kind of fee, too. So I had resolved to set it aside and take it back to Florida when I visit in February, and deposit it there in our American bank account.

Then I got to reading online and learned that you can deposit a check electronically. All you have to do is take a picture of it, front and back, with your phone, and submit it to the bank via an app. So I did that, and voila! The check has cleared. No fees, no conversion, nothing.

It's mind-blowing to me, but I'm glad it works!

In other news, there's a committee at work putting on a "global festival," in which we all celebrate our diverse backgrounds and that sort of thing. They asked employees to recommend books that tell "our stories," so I recommended "Cross Creek," by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. It's long been one of my favorite Florida books, and although it was published a quarter of a century before I was born, I still recognize the state where I grew up in its pages. I had to include a little cautionary note about it being a "product of its time," because Rawlings' descriptions of her black neighbors make some people angry these days. Hopefully one or two people will read it. (I thought afterwards that I probably should have chosen "The Yearling" instead, given that it is a young adult book and is somewhat under-read these days -- but oh well.)

My recommendation and the others will be depicted on a poster or book display or some such. I'm honestly not sure yet.

I hope Marge, in The Great Beyond, appreciates the publicity!

My tooth is feeling better, and my antibiotics run out today. But I'm still not feeling quite right -- kind of achy around the lower face. I guess it takes a while for the remnants of the infection to clear. As long as I'm cured enough to get this root canal done in ten days -- that's the important thing!

(Photo: Shopfronts in West Drayton, London, a couple of weeks ago.)

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Wandering Christmas Tree

Yesterday, as I was leaving the house with Olga to go for our morning walk, I found that the night's windstorm had left a gift on our doorstep: someone else's old Christmas tree.

My guess is they put it out with their trash, and the wind blew it to the front of our house.

This was a mild annoyance, but it was mitigated by the fact that the tree was still decorated!

This is one for the "I just don't understand people" files. Who throws away a decorated Christmas tree? (And I'm sure it was thrown away and not just someone's patio decoration -- I never saw it during the Christmas season, and some of the neighbors had put their rubbish out.)

It's the second one I've seen this year -- I passed one the other day lying on the curb, still loaded with strands of lights. In that case I wasn't in a position to unstring the lights and salvage them, but I did take the ornaments off the wayward tree in front of our house. Now Dave and I have more ornaments for next year!

Then I picked up the bare tree -- it was fairly small, just a few feet high -- and carried it to Fortune Green to be recycled. (Top photo)

I just want to shake whoever threw it out and ask them what they're thinking. They're too lazy to store their ornaments? They just can't be bothered with the fact that the planet is groaning beneath the weight of all the useless crap that factories churn out every hour on the hour, so they want to add to the waste by buying more ornaments next year for no reason whatsoever?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

More Wind and Another Orchid

We've had another wild and windy night, with the strange thumps and shudders of falling objects and architectural stresses sounding amid the gusts. I got up at 2:30 a.m. and moved the newly repotted plants from the top of the patio mantel just in case it came crashing down again -- but so far it hasn't. We've got to find a way to attach that thing to the fence, even if we just use an eye hook and some wire. I can't get up and wander around on the patio clutching my bathrobe every time we have a windy night.

Despite that, I had a fairly good night's sleep -- better than the previous two nights, when I slept very lightly due to nocturnal dental pain. I bummed some more Aleve from my boss yesterday and one of those got me through. Plus I think my antibiotics are working. Progress!

Even more exciting: We are reportedly due for the delivery of a new oven on Saturday morning. Woo hoo! I'm sure Dave will be ready to bake or roast something, though we've lately been going pretty much vegetarian because Dave has found that suits his digestive system better. (As a lapsed vegetarian myself, I'm always happy to eat veg.) We probably won't be putting any roast beast in the oven right away.

Another of our orchids has bloomed. We only have one plant (of 7) that has never produced flowers -- one that I rescued from the curb after someone threw it away. I think it was traumatized and just hasn't yet become strong enough. Hopefully it's only a matter of time. I'll be eager to see what color it is!

Finally, I have to say a quick RIP for Dolores O'Riordan, the lead singer for the Cranberries. I was a fan of the Cranberries in the '90s -- I had at at least four of their albums, and I still listen to them on my iTunes. Like almost everyone, I especially love their aching song "Linger." When it became popular I was in the midst of a lingering, painful romantic situation myself, and although the circumstances were different from those depicted in the song I always identified with the lyrics: "You know I'm such a fool for you have to let it linger?"

(Top photo: Fungus on Hampstead Heath.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Fox and Ducks

This mural in Shoreditch, by street artist Fanakapan, is called "Follow the Leader." I love the skillful way he rendered the glass fox and the gullible ducks. I have other shots showing the mural without people, but I prefer this one, with all the street activity. I'm not sure why there are two P's in "Trump," unless Fanakapan was trying to avoid a lawsuit over use of the name. Surely the fact that it's backwards is a message, though.

I'm still plugging away, popping my antibiotics and painkillers on regular 6- and 4-hour rotations. I keep thinking it's about time I turn the corner on this tooth problem, but it hasn't happened yet. At least I'm able to go to work and keep up my daily routines. Dave and I talked about how lucky I am to live now, when antibiotic therapy is an option. Imagine having this condition 200 years ago! I suppose it would not only be incredibly painful, but perhaps ultimately fatal.

In other news, I've been getting very peculiar e-mails from, of all places, trying to draw me back to the site with new potential matches. I haven't been active on Match for at least 11 years, if not longer, and why they've started contacting me now I'm not sure. But I can't unsubscribe from the e-mails without signing in to the site, which annoys me to death. I have no idea what my login is, and frankly, I don't want to sign in to at all. I have found my match, thank you very much! (And doesn't it seem a bit cynical on their part to assume I'm still single, 11 years later?!) They recently tried to hook me up with someone called "newbountyhunter," which, just based on the name itself, seems an unlikely match for me.

Dave and I finished "The Sopranos" on Monday night. I have to say the critics are right -- it was excellent television. And as I've said before, I am generally not a fan of mafia-related productions. I'm sorry to see it  come to an end. I can understand the furor over the ending, which at first seems ambiguous -- but I tend to agree with this guy that the more one ponders it, the less ambiguous it becomes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Drug-Induced Rambling

Yesterday afternoon, just as my tooth/face/neck pain was hitting truly unpleasant levels, I had my appointment with the dentist. The upshot is, I have an infection in my jaw below the root of my back molar. The dentist thinks it originated in the tooth, and the first order of business is to clear it up with antibiotics. I am now on erythromycin.

Healing that infection should ease the pain over the next few days, but it won't solve the problem -- the dentist said the infection, given time, would simply come back. Whatever's going on in the tooth would essentially recontaminate my jaw. So I have a root canal scheduled for Jan. 30 and Feb. 13 (apparently it takes two visits?), and the tooth will be crowned. No more gold inlay.

(Maybe I can make an earring out of it?)

I'm a bit curious about how the crown is going to work, since, as I recall, the dentist who created the inlay 10 years ago seemed to think too much of the tooth had been removed by earlier drilling to make a crown practical. But clearly something has to be done, and I'm willing to take the risk. If worse comes to worst, they can just pull the whole thing.

Meanwhile, I am on pain meds. Yesterday, aspirin stopped working. So my boss gave me an Aleve, and that little blue pill was freaking wonderful. When I went to the drugstore, I asked for my very own bottle of Aleve -- but the pharmacist informed me I can't buy that painkiller over the counter in the UK. Instead he recommended Nurofen with codeine (!) which apparently I can (and did) buy over the counter.

It's all very mysterious. Bottom line: Hopefully I am on the mend and this root canal odyssey won't be too much of a nightmare. I've never had a root canal, so this will be a whole new experience for me.

In other news: Why, you are probably wondering, have I posted this picture of an aluminum can?

Because, look closely at that can. It bears a very old logo for Diet Pepsi -- one that I haven't seen in decades. And it also has a pull tab, not a pop-top.

That can, which I spotted along the LOOP while I was walking in a West London park on Saturday, has got to be about 35 years old, if not more. I don't know about you, but I find that impressive. I didn't pick it up, but I did send a picture of it to my brother, who used to collect soda cans when he was a kid. (I blogged about his collection here.) "How long has it been since you've seen one of these bad boys?" I asked him. (Can a diet soda be a "bad boy," or is it inherently goody-goody? Anyway...)

"Ha! That's pretty crazy. Old can!" he replied, and sent a picture of the same type of can in his collection, which is now housed on special shelves in his garage.

As a former beer can collector myself, not to mention a trash geek, I found it all pretty interesting and blogworthy. Plus I'm high on codeine, so you'll have to excuse me.

(Top photo: A winter dawn in West Hampstead.)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Cooped-Up Dog

Olga and I took a couple of long walks yesterday. She was brimming with energy after being cooped up inside all day Saturday -- in fact she was a little annoying, staring at us imploringly -- so it was good to get her outside where she could blow off steam.

In the morning she took me up into Cricklewood again -- this is her new thing, for some reason. I think there's often a lot of edible trash lying around on busy Cricklewood Broadway, like discarded french fries and chicken bones and that kind of thing. Even though I do my best to prevent her from eating it, her foraging skills have told her that's the place to walk. That's my theory, anyway. And she did manage a few french fries on the sly.

We came back and rested a bit, and then in the afternoon went on our usual West Heath walk. On the far side of Hampstead Heath Extension, Olga posed for some quick photos in the tidy neighborhood of Hampstead Garden Suburb, with the towering modern spire of St. Jude's Church in the background (top).

The snowdrops are back on the West Heath. It seems early; the ones in our garden haven't raised their snowy heads yet. I think I photograph this clump every year.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Uxbridge to Moor Park

I tackled two more segments of the LOOP yesterday, walking about ten miles from Uxbridge to Moor Park in Northwest London. (I did this partly to take my mind off my dentistry -- as I told a friend, "Hopefully achy legs and back will distract from achy tooth!")

Above is Uxbridge Lock, near the beginning of my walk along the Grand Union Canal. The locks allow for changes in elevation along the canal's route.

In Uxbridge, before I started, I came across this incredibly groovy utility box. If only they all looked like this, rather than just olive drab!

The first half of the walk followed the canal. The map called it the "bluest" section of the LOOP, because of all the water -- but there was nothing particularly blue about it yesterday. I enjoyed looking at all the boats, as usual, with names like Firefly, Tiger and Hedgehog, and this apparently nameless craft with a Snoopy theme.

Next to one boat, someone had set out what looked like a tea party for weathered stuffed animals.

And as a Florida boy, I had to appreciate this house, with its big fake gator sitting on the canal bank. (There's a disembodied mannequin arm lying next to the gator's mouth --  someone has a sense of humor.)

Just before I left the canal, I passed these colorful flats near Harefield.

And then my route turned eastward and I found myself walking across farmland and through a conifer forest.

These two passed me along the way -- which surprised me a bit, because I walk pretty fast and usually I'm the one passing other people! Clearly they are seasoned trekkers. I loved their matching headgear.

I found this old U.S. Air Force truck in a horse pasture. The USAF used to have a base somewhere near Ruislip in West London, I believe, as well as other bases around England -- so who knows where it came from. It looked pretty old.

Here are the conifers in Bishop's Wood, near Moor Park. The pathway on this section of the walk was a nightmare -- very churned up and muddy. It bore the telltale imprint of horseshoes, but it seemed like it would have been treacherous going for a horse.

I stopped at a pub called Ye Olde Greene Manne for a hamburger and a pint of London Pride, before ending amid the well-groomed suburbia of Moor Park. And the walk did distract me from my tooth!