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Apparently it's the International Day of People With Disabilities (IDPWD).  So there you are.

  Do you know someone with a disability, Dear Reader, or are you, yourself, disabled?  And if you do/are, be thankful you live where you do, however hard it might be.  If you lived in most of the world, you might not be able, or allowed, to get out of the house.  Either because you wouldn't have the 'aids' we in the West can access, or because your disability was so stigmatised that people thought you were under a curse and being near you would get them cursed too.  It happens.

  Even in the West we've a long way to go.  There's a big bash at Chap's Palace* in London, tonight, for those who can get there.  That's for people with disabilities.  There are plenty of places which cater for the rest of us.

  Meanwhile several provinces in China have laws giving female workforces a day or two off every month for 'that time of the month'.

  A good idea?  Yes if you get it badly each month, and I know many women do, some needing the whole five to seven days off.  I only got it badly for one or two days every six to twelve months, though it could be pretty uncomfortable other months.  Mostly it was just messy.

  On the other hand, companies are already somewhat shy of employing younger women.

  'What do we do if they get pregnant?'  They wonder (to themselves cos to do so out loud is roundly condemned as 'sexual discrimination')  'We'd have to hold her job open for all of her maternity leave, and then she might not want to return.  So we'd have held the post for a year (I dunno, how long is Maternity Leave?) And then we'd have to advertise it  It could be eighteen months before we found a replacement and if it was another woman . . .'

  Just think how they'd feel about employing someone who would be taking a day or two paid leave per per month just for being female?  I mean, I can see the male staff getting huffy and complaining that not only did they not get that leave, they had to work harder each month to cover for those absent.

  And you'd need male staff.  Get a group of women together and pretty soon their menstrual cycles tend to synchronise.  Consequently they could all be taking their 'menstrual leave' in the same week - a real disadvantage if the firm has a 'push' on that week!

  Hmmm, I know a particularly bad 'period' can be somewhat disabling, are they worth treating as 'disabilities' and women as 'disabled'?

  What do you think, Dear Reader?

  And Finally - how would you like a postcard from Timbuktu?  For only $10 (£8) you can send a message to a group of erstwhile tour guides in Mali.  They'll then transcribe it onto a postcard, stamp and post it back to you, or whoever's address you've given them.  Read on down the article, you could get one with an Antarctica stamp instead.

  'Wish you were here', Dear Reader!

  *Or maybe it's Chav's Palace.  Listen to the link, see what you think.
Current Location:
Dancing the Nottingham Swing to 'English Country Garden'!
Current Mood:
amused amused
Current Music:
In an English Country Garden - Percy Grainger
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Aujour d'hui il fait sombre.  Bleah!  Ah well, it's been gloriously sunny all week, so I suppose I can manage one day without sun.

  The trip to the Dentist yesterday was ok.  A couple of small fillings, one large filling (where a previous one had fallen out) and the removal of some old roots (that tooth collapsed back in early 2010.)  Also the two lighter duvets taken to the Dry Cleaner's and the two heavier ones brought home, which was nice as we had the thick, winter, duvet on the bed last night.  As it's terrifically overcast this morning I reckon it wasn't nearly as cold last night, but it was nice to have the thicker duvet.

  We had Borscht again for tea last night.  Not cos my gnashers weren't up to solid food, I had an apple for 'afters', but because we'd had borscht last time and it was delicious.  Besides, soup is a great way of getting your 'five a day' without too much trouble.  You just cook them, liquidise them and drink them.  In this case beetroot (natch), carrot, celery and onion - see, four with no trouble.

  The only problem with Borscht is that the beetroot in it will stain any and everything it gets on, given half a chance.  Heigh ho!  It's said that sprinkling salt on the mark left by beetroot dropped onto cloth will help prevent it staining, provided you do it immediately.  Otherwise there are some pretty effective stain removers available these days!

  Meanwhile - how to get water where there apparently isn't any. Harvesting fog.   Good idea, no?    A man in Lima, Peru, has started erecting nets to catch the water droplets in the fog which hits the city daily (or maybe it's nightly.)  This is providing water for (mostly poor) people who live on the heights around the city and are not on the city's water grid.

  At present the water is used for growing vegetables, thus boosting people's diets and lowering food bills, but he hopes to add purification processes to turn it into drinking water.

  I was watching the new BBC/David Attenborough series Planet Earth II the other evening.  Apparently there's a beetle in the Namib desert which also gets water by harvesting fog (third clip in link).  Though it does so by standing on the top of sand dunes and sticking its abdomen up into the fog, rather than using nets.  Grooves on its carapace then funnel the condensed fog droplets down into its mouth.  Of course, there is then a chameleon which waits slightly further down the dunes to prey on the beetles coming back down again (second clip in the link!).  Such is liff!

  And finally - more Nature.  Apparently the Diamondback moth has been busy this year.  Also known as the Cabbage moth, it feeds on Brassicas as and where it finds them.  Particularly fields of Brassicas.  This year it's picked fields of Brussels Sprouts, which are regarded by some as de rigeur for Christmas dinners.

Diamondback moth
Diamondback Moth

  Only this year there will be fewer available thanks due to the moth epidemic.  Oh dear.  How sad.  Can you tell I don't like Brussels Sprouts, Dear Reader.  During my childhood they used to turn up at winter meals with depressing frequency.  Mum would cook them nicely, not boiled to a khaki pulp. I still loathed them.  I'd eat them first to get them out of the way and done with - we were brought up to eat what was on our plates.  Fussy eaters were not encouraged.

  Since I've been in charge of meals, we rarely have sprouts, which is a shame for H as he likes them.  I suppose I might, if I can find any, serve some for Christmas dinner.  Or I might just blame the Diamondback Moth epidemic and give them a miss this year.  Poor ol' H!

  Ah well.  The question today is, have the past three (really cold) days (and nights) been sufficient for the plaster in the middle bedroom to dry out?  Can I finish painting the walls today?  Or should I wait until Monday, when it will definitely be dry, I hope?  Hmmm.

  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
amused amused
Current Music:
Cello Concerto no2 in D major (3) - Hayden
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That's the two lighter duvets wrassled into their vacuum bags.  It was easier this time, these two are a lot smaller.  Or maybe it's that they're lighter weight duvets.  Yes, Dear Reader, it's another trip to the Dentist this afternoon for more reparative work.  It's also another trip to the Dry Cleaners to get these two duvets cleaned and the other two back.  And not before time.  It was another cold and frosty night last night.  This morning the roofs are covered in frost, even in the centre of the city.  I think we may be needing the winter-weight duvet!  Though we've managed with snuggling together thus far.

  I was out last evening, another trip to 'Artypotz' to decorate biscuitware.  I had been intending, nay commissioned, to do a straight sided small milk jug; so that H could have a proper jug for frothing up milk when he makes frothy coffee.  Alas, they didn't have anything suitable.

  So I decorated another bowl similar to the one I did on the previous visit.  Then did a water bowl for Mum's dog (!) and, still having an hour to go, a vase.  I'd have liked to put something on the back of the vase, but didn't have time for that.  Ah well.  Pix will be posted in due course (don't hold your breath, Dear Reader, it'll be around two weeks and then I'll have to get the right sort of lighting).

  As it was so cold last night I looked up especially to see if there were any stars visible.  Did it Monday night too.

  Nuffin!  Just a plane passing over last night.  I felt really short-changed!  Usually when it's this cold and clear the stars are magnificent.  Not this week, so far.

  Right, the washing is out; yesterday's load dried well, particularly considering there was barely a breeze.  Have a thought for the first of December, Dear Reader, specially with the foodfest that Christmas has become fast approaching.

                                                                      Poem by Pam Ayres.

  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual, or at the dentist's
Current Mood:
creative creative
Current Music:
Symphony no8 in G Major (3) - Dvorak
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Yesterday afternoon I got the Gosport Ferry, across to Gosport obvs, walked up the High St and visited the Gosport Discovery Centre Gallery to see their Love Thy Denim exhibition.  This comprised a short history of Denim - its putative origins, its use as workwear particularly in the US (miners, railroad workers, farmers, cowboys), and its transition to fashion statement through the mid and late twentieth century.

  There were even a few fragments of denim garments from the late 1800s - which is realy good going considering the use the garments were put to.  Generally denim garments (usually in the form of dungarees or jeans) have been worn to destruction, then patched and worn some more, a little like the traditional Japanese technique of Boro.

  There were also specially commissioned garments - like this by ISKO which purportedly referenced 18th century fashions (style of garment, corseting, panniers, skirt length) and Punk fashions (choker, chain and corset boning on the outside) with lots of different techniques treating the five different weights of denim cloth used. More images here.

  I found all that interesting.  I dare say the actual exhibition might be larger in a larger gallery.

  Then into Gosport Discovery Centre (formerly Gosport Central Library) for tea, some bread pudding and a sit down - mainly to persuade my left hip that I could walk back down the High St to the Ferry pontoon.  It was a chilly day, but gloriously sunny, so I didn't mind.  Apparently last night was the coldest so far this season.  We may have a cold winter this year.  Yay!  Cold is usually brighter, which is always a Good Thing.  Last winter's gloom, torrential rain, storms and flooding . . .

  This morning is bright, crisp and frosted.  The washing is out, whether it'll dry depends on whether there's any breeze today.  I'm looking forward to my chocolate porridge.

  It's a bad time to be homeless.  However there is something we can do, Dear Reader.  Apparently British Gas will give £1 to Shelter for every tweet using the hashtag #TweetForShelter.  I don't have a Twitter account, but maybe you could participate?  Please.

  Y'all have a good St Andrew's day now!
Current Location:
as usual, wearing a coat and two pairs of mitts!
Current Mood:
bouncy bouncy
Current Music:
On the Steppes of Central Asia - Borodin
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Apparently last night was the coldest so far this winter.  We snuggled up in bed and barely noticed, though the cars parked outside had frost on them earlier this morning.  Apparently it's due to be cold again tonight.  We shan't get the winter duvet back from the cleaners til Thursday, by which time it's forecast to be getting (relatively) warmer again!  Now it is beautifully sunny, although still cold.  Later on I shall go out.  Sorting stuff to be ditched can wait for another day!

  You've got to see this, Dear Reader.  Attitude or what?
Eye contact by Guy Edwardes, UK

  It's a Dalmatian Pelican*, photographed on Leke Kerkinin, Greece, by Guy Edwardes as his winning entry for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year (People's Choice). More shots here, I particularly like the humming bird and the salicin crystals.  The Pushmipullyou Rhino is pretty good too!

  Dalmatian Pelicans are currently under pressure, mainly due to loss of habitat, particularly wetlands.  'Tis the same the whole world over.

  Right, I'm going out, so have a thought for the day, Dear Reader.

  "The planet does not need more successful people.

  "The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellerys and lovers of all kinds."  The Dalai Lama.

  Y'all have a good, peacemaking, healing, restoring, storytelling and loving day now!

  *Bet it's either an adolescent, or a parent at the end of it's tether!  Specially for you, Missy.
Or maybe it was just having a bad feather day!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
cheerful cheerful
Current Music:
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Scherzo - Felix Mendelssohn
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So, washing on, done, pegged out.  The sun is a-shining and there's a bit of a breeze.  Here's hoping it dries.

  Wall skimmed and as flat as I can make it.  It's not 'professional plasterer' flat by any means, but it's a lot better than it was.  My technique has improved by leaps and bounds  It was 'fun' skimming white plaster onto white plaster with the sun glaring off both, but at least the room will be warm enough for the plaster to dry properly.  Which is always a consideration at this time of year.

  Mmmmm, chocolate porridge.  Reckon I deserved that!

Interior DecoratingCollapse )

  So now there's just the usual Monday dusting and vacuuming to do.  Hmmm, have you seen the marks on the paintwork?  Guess there's some washing and scrubbing to be done there too.  Maybe I should get to it.

  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
accomplished accomplished
Current Music:
William Tell Overture - Rossini (Hey-ho, Silver!)
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I finally got on with plastering the bedroom wall yesterday (effectively the lower third to half of the wall) only to find that I had sufficient plaster for the top part of what needed plastering.  Heigh ho!  Repeat trip to B&Q, where I grabbed a sandwich and coffee and vegged out on one of their settees for a while.  Also went into Benson's (for Beds) and enquired about prices and delivery in time for Christmas for a 4' bed.

  Back home, unload, recover, go plaster the rest of the wall.  Oooh look!  You can see how my technique has improved!  The lower part of the wall, which wil ultimately be behind the bed, is so much smoother than the upper part.  Skimmed the upper part in an attempt to smooth it out.  Didn't use all the plaster, just in case.

  The question now is do I try skimming the upper (will remain visible) part again in an attempt to get it smoother?  Thus risking a large bump which might end up pushing the bed out into the middle of the room.  Or do I try sanding the plaster smooth?  And risk taking it off the wall, again.  Apart from which I don't think we have sufficiently fine sandpaper.  Oh noes, not another trip to B&Q!

DIY "Joys"Collapse )

  I shall look at the wall in a bit, then decide - skim or sand?  Darn, I just want to get it painted (fourth day after plastering) and get on with getting the room finished!

  That was my Black Friday.  No fighting through packed shops for 'bargains' which were actually stock the shops were trying desperately to shift so they could bring in newer stuff.  The weather was brightly sunny, cloudless skies, although the nor-easter wind was a tad chilly.  The washing dried.  Yay!

  It's similar today.  I hope the washing is drying again.  Right!  Time to check on that wall, sort out more rubbish and arrange for someone to come and take it away, including the old carpet.  Then time to get a new carpet and arrange for that to be delivered and fitted, before the bed!

Dancing for Joy!Collapse )
  Y'all have a good day now!

  *Yet another import from the US.  Some shops have decided that having Black Friday events is just too much trouble and aren't getting involved.  Others are having 'Black Friday weeks, or, in the case of B&Q, fortnights.  With all these sales I begin to wonder quite what the real price of various commodities is.  And does that have any bearing on their value?
Current Location:
as usual, considering plastering
Current Mood:
creative creative
Current Music:
Conga de Fuego - Arturo Marquez
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Having achieved power Donald Trump is apparently already disappointing his supporters and those who voted for him.

  He's said he's now not going to prosecute Hillary Clinton; when a major part of his campaign was how evil she is, how untrustworthy and how she should be in prison.

  He's called for his supporters to 'lay off' the racism etc he'd stirred up so enthusiastically on his way to the White House.

  And in an address for Thanksgiving he's calling for national unity.

  Seems like he's trying hard to undo all the damage done in his campaigning over the past eighteen months.  He says he realises that this could take time.  Go him!

  What he has really done is uncover some of the deep divisions in American society and make it apparently ok to actively hold some points of view which have, for maybe sixty or more years, been regarded as socially unacceptable.

  As I've written before, it's going to take a lot more than that to make the expression of such opinions go away.  Let alone the actual opinions.

  I wonder quite what Trump stands for, or is going to try to do; he seems to change what he's saying to try to suit his audience so much.  What he says now seems to contradict so many of his 'headline policies' while he was campaigning.

  Ah well, that's the kind of thing a politician does.  Trump may have come to power as an 'Outsider' and a businessman.  He's now The Insider and seems to have the doublespeak down pat already.

  Then there is the possible 'conflict of interests'.  As a businessman Trump has lots of real estate assets.  As President he's supposed to at least distance himself from his business and other interests.  This could prove interesting.  It could even provide a way to get rid of him!
  Hey, the future might not be as bleak; though could the US (not to mention the rest of us) face another Presidential election campaign so soon?

  Right.  That'll do.  I still have to plaster the bedroom wall.  I know, I've been putting it off.  Tomorrow (Friday) I'll do it.  There, I have something other than fighting my way around overcrowded shops lined up for Black Friday!

  Happy Thanksgiving, Dear American Reader.  If you're currently juggling beans, greens, taters, tomatoes etc, be thankful.  As the Pastor goes on to sing, not everyone has all that, or a roof over their heads.

  And to every Reader, remember, Black Friday 'sales' are just an excuse to get you to spend money on stuff you probably don't need!  How about being Thankful for what you already have, and doing something else/going somewhere other than overcrowded shops?

  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual, raiding the market
Current Mood:
thankful thankful
Current Music:
Beans, greens, taters, tomatoes!
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The middle bedroom progresses slowly.  Monday I got some ready-mixed wall plaster.  Monday evening H Googled 'How to Plaster a Wall' and came up with videos and all sorts.  Fortunately it's not the whole wall, just the bottom part.

  "You might need to paint the area over with PVA solution, let it dry for 24 hours, then paint it again and then plaster on top."  H reported from his researches.  "Do we have any PVA?"

  ""There was a tube of it in the craft room, somewhere on the desk, if you can get to it." I replied.  "And you had a tube of it too, in the tool cupboard."  Both these tubes were bought last century.

  H found the PVA in the craft room.  I tipped it up and lo, after a while, PVA came out.  We haz gloo!

  Yesterday I had a good look at the wall.  Brushed off the loose stuff.  Decided it might not need painting with PVA, though there were a couple of seriously deep holes that seemed to go back into the mortar of the brickwork!

  I would have done some plastering then and there, honest, Dear Reader.  But I couldn't find my painting clothes and there was no way I was going to plaster even part of a wall in my best skirt.  (That's me in my best skirt, not the wall!)

  Last night we both had a shufti round and found my painting clothes.  So I'd better have a go at the wall this morning.  Here's hoping there's sufficient plaster.  *Le sigh!*

  Then the thing to Google will be "How soon can I paint a newly plastered wall?"

  Also, though not to Google, "Can you fit/deliver this carpet/bed wot I am buying before Christmas?"

  Heigh ho!

  Right, better go peg out - if it looks like being dry enough for long enough, then plaster.

  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual, plastering
Current Mood:
creative creative
Current Music:
Clarinet Concerto in A major (3) - Mozart
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The Government still seems to be believing George Osborne's lies that the country does not have enough (or even very much) money.  This being one of the richest countries in the world.

  The NHS continues to be squeezed.  "Look," say the Government.  "We are giving the NHS £x millions!"

  What they don't say is that they have cut £y millions (where y=x+ a lot) over the past ten or more years.  That the £x millions are being given over the next four years, and 'Significant Savings' are expected to be made.  That's Governmentspeak for 'job cuts and service cuts'.

  There has been talk of cutting Housing Benefits for those in 'social housing', because some, a few, are doing really well out of the present system.  The fact that most are not is ignored.  They've decided to drop this cut, for now.

  Less and less money is being spent on schools, and standards of education, already poor in some places, are dropping.  The Department for Education continues to micromanage and get in the way of teachers actually teaching!

  There is a chronic shortage of housing.  What is available is often extremely expensive, far beyond the reach of traditional 'first time buyers'; unless you want to move to areas of the North East, where there are very few job prospects.

  There is a diminishing stock of 'social housing' - what with the 'Right to Buy' and the government's unwillingness to actually get anyone building 'affordable housing'.
  "Oh no," they bleat.  "We can't force the market to build more affordable housing."  So those building firms who do build houses build four and five bedroom 'executive homes' .  More and more people find themselves in private rented accommodation, on short term leases and, increasingly, out on the street.

  The numbers of homeless people are rising, yet the government has squeezed what little provision there was for helping those homeless back into housing that it's virtually non-existant.  Charities have come forward to help 'take up the slack', but there's an awful lot of slack!

  More people, more families than ever are dependent upon handouts from Food Banks.

  More people than ever are Just About Managing.  As long as they and their families are healthy, they can work extra hours and everything else is favourable.  It's a precarious position in which to have to live.

  I could continue, there are examples aplenty.

  Just one more - the government owes the Iranian government a large debt, around £500million, for goods it didn't in the end provide.  Our government refuses to pay.  So Iran periodically abducts British citizens in Iran, keeping them as 'bargaining chips' - including an aid worker visiting her family and her baby.

  Sometimes the government acts to have such people released.  Sometimes it doesn't - Story here.

  Picture from a happier time.

  However, it was announced Monday that the Government does actually have £69 million available to re-roof, re-plumb and re-wire Buckingham Palace.  £69 million!!!

  I mean, I know it's virtually a National Monument, and I'm not anti-Royalist, but . . .  Surely the Royal  Family have independent incomes?  That's independent of the Civil List (what they get 'paid'.)  Surely they could make a substantial contribution?

  Dear Labour Party, and Lib-Dem party, get your collective asses into gear.  There will be a General Election in a few year's time.  It would be Really Good, if not Necessary to have an alternative credible to sufficient voters to get someone in power who believed in caring for people.  Caring for all the people in the country, not just those who already had more than enough money (whatever they might think!)

  Heck, we are one of the richest countries in the world.  Yet this Conservative government acts as if it thinks it doesn't have two pennies to rub together.

  Back in 1947, when that was far more true and with a country to rebuild, the then government set up a massive house-building programme, rearranged the school system and started the NHS.  But that was a Labour government.  Whether the modern Labour Party, particularly those in parliament, would have such vision is another matter.


  Y'all have a good day now!
Current Location:
as usual
Current Mood:
angry angry
Current Music:
Finale's Cave - Mendelssohn
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