Saturday, January 24, 2015

How big is a Maine Coon?

Thursday 22 January 2015

Icy with bright sun later

Wake up with sick headache and churning stomach.  OH offers me his universal cure - surprisingly effective.

Go to meet a representative of a French bank.  Lovely lady who I have not seen in yonks. We have coffee in the art deco hotel in town and she is wowwed by the stunning plasterwork and chandeliers.  She shows me notaires stats for purchases throughout the country and the surprising development is how many Belgians are now buying.  Italians and Russians still prevalent in the Capital and the far south.  My area is, as I am well aware, one of the most expensive but I was surprised at how very low the values are in the more central locations.  Interest rates very low and I need to start suggesting them to cash buyers who may not have thought of using this option.

Back home to some more manic cleaning and then to completion in early afternoon.  Arrive a minute before the appointed time at the notaires and find that I am the only one there. Purchasers arrive ten minutes late, and are excited at becoming owners.  Seller's proxy is even later and I discover that she has already given the purchasers the key and that they are moving in, as we speak.   Tell her that this is not the norm and she says 'oh fuck it'. Must stop associating with these foul mouthed mature ladies.  She then presents the purchasers with a bill for the fuel oil, which was not previously included in any of the documentation, and is for a substantial sum.  Purchasers are somewhat taken aback but fortunately pay up.

Notary is one with whom I haven't worked before.  He likes the sound of his own voice and prattles on about the seismicity of the Region.  The buyers come from an area which has no seismicity.  The lady purchaser turns to me and asks how long have I have lived here and I tell her that it is x years and I have never felt a tremor.  Notary assures them that the earth is trembling all the time and everyone is thinking 'shut the hell up'.  I manage to divert him back to the signature and all goes smoothly.   Go back to the house with the now new owners and read the meters.  Many members of the family already there and two huge lorries full of stuff.  Self moving.  Meet the dogs.  The cats are hiding in the toilet - one is a rare Maine Coon with ears like a lynx.  Also known as an American longhair, they are the largest breed of domesticated cat.

 thankyou Daily Telegraph

Couple in rental unit ring and say that they are leaving at 8 am and can I come and get the keys at 7.45.  I have a full day's viewings tomorrow.  I turn into foul mouthed mature lady and pass out on sofa at 10 pm.

Hightailing around, hootenannies and shuffling off this mortal coil

Wednesday 21 January 2015

6 degrees, misty with sun later

Insisted yesterday that we start at 9.45 and on time.  Relieved to see them ready to roll when I arrived.  We headed off into a village 15 kms away to a property owned by an English couple.  I have had this house for sale for a number of years and the main reason it hasn't sold is the village in which it finds itself.  There are no shops there, not even a bread shop, and it is an equidistant 15 kms from the two nearby towns.  Having said that, it is a charming property with large open lounge, US style kitchen and good sized bedrooms.  The garden is a particular feature and is set to lawns and beautiful flowering shrubs and trees. The lady decides this is now her favourite - she isn't having financial input and it is the man and his business partner who will decide.  The best option if they want to let out periodically is the town house with swimming pool and parking where you can walk into town.  Apart from mistaking a free standing wardrobe for a toilet 'Jesus, my brain has gone' and thinking that the gypsies leaning out of their windows and smoking fags were traders (they probably are but not in anything she or I would wish to buy), nothing untoward was said.

I dropped them back off in my town and went home to clean as there is a visit upcoming on our house and alas it is still in an unviewable state.  Discovered that the bathroom walls have taken the opportunity to grow some mould.  Bastards.   It did come off quite easily.  I then moved onto the grouting, which was like the 'before' example in bathroom cleaner ads. Unfortunately the tile paint came off too.  We decided to tell the visitors that we were waiting for a man to come and do the bathroom.  We won't tell them that the man is OH...  OH spent hours outside with the Karcher.  Dog enjoyed being squirted too.

A number of notable deaths this week, Anne Kirkbride who played Dierdre Barlow for 44 of her 60 years; Leon Brittan former conservative MP and barrister aged 75 and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia aged 90.

Watched recording of Jules Holland's Hootenanny.   Ruby Turner, Ronnie Specter, Paloma Faith and Paolo Nutini were excellent.  Surprised to find that Boss Scags is not a black guy. OH says I am musical ignoramus.  I challenge him to spell ignoramus.  What a meany I am!

In case you wanted to know more about the origins of the word Hootenanny, and were afraid to ask:

Hootenanny is a Scottish word meaning "celebration" and / or "party", most closely associated with Hogmanay—the Scots New Year celebration which, traditionally, is the biggest celebration on the Scottish calendar.
With the Scots being one of the biggest groups of settlers in the Appalachian region of North America (bringing with them their whisky-making tradition and methods, leading to the area's "moon shining" tradition) it is not surprising that hootenanny became an Appalachian colloquialism, although it became used in early 20th-century America as a placeholder name to refer to things whose names were forgotten or unknown. In this usage it was synonymous with thingamajig or whatchamacallit, as in: "Hand me that hootenanny." Hootenanny was also an old country word for "party". Nowadays the word most commonly refers to a folk music party with an open mike at which different performers are welcome to get up and play in front of an audience.
"Hootenanny" was also used by the leadership of early firefighting battalions to describe a "meeting of the minds" of higher ups or various department heads. The term has trickled down to working companies and is now used, with some frequency, at working incidents and other circumstances that require a focused discussion between key individuals. Most recently it was adopted for use during the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference.  Logistics professionals for the conference employ the word to call together the required personnel needed to accomplish the prodigious assignments placed on them.   Thank you Wikipedia

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cheaper than Merthyr Tydfil!

Tuesday 20 January 2015

0 degrees

Up and down town early to sort out insurance on rental unit.  Transpires that our town office is closed Monday and Tuesday of each week.  Great.  Waited outside rental unit.  Very cold. Text arrived to say that the lady guest was having trouble 'coming round';  Wondered if man had given in a completely natural urge to knock her out.  Apparently not.  Could I come back in half an hour.  Of course, I have sod all else to do.

Go into the lovely coffee shop and have to insist that I do not want to join in the Tuesday morning cultural exchange group.  People who speak bad French converse with people who speak bad English.  One of my sellers is there and is delighted and promptly uses me as breathing dictionary.  I don't know the word for bed springs.  It is ressort.  So I learn something too.  A French lady is running through a list of English words which came up in last week's conversation, and which she is having trouble pronouncing.   Heaven, hell, urges, commitment, self worth.  Feel I should have been here last week as this one they are discussing wonky springs and bad nights' sleep.

Ten thirty comes around I go to the front door of rental unit building.  No one there.  I go up the 42 stairs and knock on the door.  No reply.  I go back down the 42 stairs and ring them. Man picks up phone and says they are in the flat and he thought he had just heard someone knocking.  I go back up 42 stairs and man is ready and woman is still farting about.  She farts about until 10.50.  I am fuming.  She finally emerges and says hello! brightly and doesnt apologise.  I so deplore bad manners.  

Get them out and into the car and we have to go and see the second house first because we are now running so late.   Man takes pictures of everything.  Woman talks incessantly and trips over steps, carpets, mats, table legs and walls.  We leave and then go to the next house which is their favourite.

They absolutely love this.  The woman, who is parsimonious to put it mildly, is thrilled with the price.  You couldn't buy at that price - even in Merthyr! She exclaims.  She asks if the 1920's wooden floors are real and mistakes a wooden infil in a bedroom fireplace for a rug. I need coffee or I am going to start shrieking.  Go back to lovely coffee shop and the class have gone and woman goes to the loo and the man and I enjoy the silence.  The woman comes back and attempts to find a postcard for a price she is willing to pay.  I take the opportunity to talk the man through the buying process.  

We leave the café and I point out the local restaurants.  They decide to go back and have a ham sandwich with the lovely bleached white bread she had found in the supermarket yesterday.  Called, disparagingly, industrial bread by the locals.

I go back and eat a banana and a pear and head for the dentist.  My dentist is so beautiful and has the most wonderful teeth.  The prognosis is not good - my crown is very fragile and can't be repaired.and I have an infection above a fortunately devitalised tooth on the other side.  900 euro quote.  Thank heavens for 30% state contribution plus top up health insurance.  Have a McChicken sandwich as feel quite faint.

Back home.  The man rings twice to say he is lost and can't find the flat.   Our town only has four main streets.  Are they fuck wits enquires OH?  I tell him about quote from dentist and he suggests I get dentures.  I don't think he was joking either.

Supermarket sweep and airhead alert

Monday 19 January 2015

Nippy and wet

Down the rental unit to do final clean before guests arrive.  Substantial amounts of dust everywhere and two brand new shelves.  Discover one of the window blinds is off its runners and a small window won't shut.  Icy wind rattles through.  We restrain it with some wire and pull down the blind to hide it.   I didn't imagine coming out here would involve so much cleaning.  In the UK it wasn't OH who had a secret woman - it was me and she was my cleaner.  The joy of going into a pristine room that I havent had to do myself is something well worth paying for.

Back home and wrestle with paperwork and phone calls.  Busy for January!  Back down town again to meet the guests.  Five o'clock.  Five thirty.  They ring our home and say they have just arrived at the supermarket at the other end of town and are just doing a little shopping.

I get to the supermarket and do a quick sweep to see if I can spot them.  They are in matching Bargain Hunt red parkas and are dithering over which water to buy.  The man keeps on putting large sizes of things into the basket and the woman keeps taking them out. Every time I get them to the check out, they remember something else.  An hour goes by. I finally get them through the door, down to the rental unit and up the stairs.  They coo in a very Welsh way when they see the flat and I give them quick instruction on how to use the hot plate and put down the fold out bed.  The woman looks confused - is this the only toilet?The flat is 26m2 and has separate kitchen, living room, bedroom, shower room and loo. Resist urge to reply I have hidden extra toilet behind the door.

OH rings me at 7.30 to find out if I am still alive.   I inform him that I have aged more than the passage of two and a half hours and that I will need wine at the ready when I arrive back home.

Watch Notorious.  Glorious costumes.  Cary Grant is as wooden as ever.  Ingrid Bergman so classy.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Lazy Sunday and le désordre anglais

Sunday 18 January 2015

Frosty with sun later

Had a lovely long lazy morning lying in bed and writing.  Frost shining on the cars but my bed is warm and cosy with a big fluffy duvet and snuggly green and white chenille throw. Drink tea and edit for spelling and typing errors.  Am amazed to find I have written over 20000 words since the start of the Leaving Normal project.  I have always wanted to write a book and now I am doing it, one day at a time, at an average of 645 words a day.

I write between 8 and 9 am in the mornings, before OH is awake, and when the time is quiet and the brain is free of chatter.  A good time and conducive to thoughts about all sorts of things.

There is a visit on our house at the end of the week and the main courtyard is looking sad, full of dead plants.  We head to the one nursery which opens its doors on a Sunday.  There are a number of young families in there, enjoying the warmth and the opportunity to run around the aisles.  30% off polar bears, an offer I find very tempting, but OH says we are to keep focused.  Alas, no coffee shop.  OH stands in the middle of the house plant section and is horrified by the prices.  I take him by the elbow and steer him towards the bedding plant section.  I want to get something tasteful - some cyclamen and heather and ivy.  OH is more price driven and we end up getting a dozen garish plants which claim to be of the primrose family.  They are the plant versions of Jordan.  Oh look! I exclaim to OH, they have aquarium fish!   OH reminds me that we have bought two lots of goldfish from here.  Oh dear.  Must be the lack of coffee.  Must start taking ginkgo again.

We have a goldfish pond in the garden.  It measures about 3m2 and is the depth of half way up my thighs.  (more oh dear, I have just had to look up the word for upper half of legs - I blame learning so much French so quickly).  We put in 11 goldfish (the French version of a baker's dozen) and they bred with insane rapidity.  Before the arrival of the heron, they were very tame and would respond to our fingers, waving in the water.  Now they are fewer and very nervous.  Even so, there are well over 100 in there, varying from tiny brown slivers to fat, deep orange submarine original fish.  Over to Google Answers

Goldfish will grow faster if they are fed a higher protein food, or are fed more often, and, given an adequate food supply, they will grow faster the warmer the water temperature. In ponds, goldfish usually grow quite slowly, as their growth rate is minimal over winter. 
They may grow to around 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) but possibly more. If kept indoors in large, or heated, aquaria they will reach this size sooner and potentially grow even larger. Straight-tailed varieties will attain a greater length than twin-tailed types, but since twin-tails are fatter, their actual mass may be even more. 
Like the maximum size, the lifespan of goldfish is also variable. The record is 43 years, but it is uncommon for goldfish to live this long. Goldfish usually live quite long when kept in large aquaria or outdoor ponds, up to 15 to 20 years is not unheard of. In smaller or heated aquaria, a lifespan of five to ten years is quite achievable. 

Ours eat pond flakes but we don't tend to feed in the winter and the fish stay out of sight. We also have a wildlife pond which has returning generations of frogs and salamanders. OH has ongoing war against pond beetles which are bad for some reason or other and I can't be bothered looking up.

The ponds attract the velvet winged damsel flies with their shockingly iridescent bodies and massive eyes.  The wings are so dark purple as to appear almost black, until revealed by an angle of the light.

Dragonfly Profile | Erez Marom

We also have many dragon flies.  There are some wonderful pictures of these complex and savage insects and if you want to find out more about their habits and talents, go here

Take the dog around the lake.  All of the joggers are older than us and some go around the lake three times for our one.  I am never convinced all that running is good for you.  Must rejoin the swimming club.

Back home and rip out all the dead stuff and plant the little Jordans.  It is an improvement. Am suitably motivated to start cutting back the shorter long border.  I have not been in here since early Summer and it is a morass of old plant growth and weeds.  Gingerly hack at the immense brambles latticing their way over, under and through the mess.  You will get an idea of the chaos when I tell you that I came across a 6' tree sapling.  The Michaelmas daisy stalks were brittle enough to snap off but I had to get up close and personal with the Gaura Lindheimerai, a plant for which I had longed when in chillier climes, not knowing what a complete thug it is


It ramps over the front of the borders and flowers for months, so I do appreciate it, but it does tend to throttle slower growing plants.  The Gaura battles it out with a variety of Evening Primrose, given to me by a passionate plant person, which has beautiful apricot buds before opening into the classic silky yellow flowers with their spicy evening perfume. The Evening Primrose is easily 6 feet tall and is a biennial which I leave to self seed.


I was also pleased to see many seedlings of Acanthus Mollis, a great structural plant and one which gives year round interest.  I let them seed and then move them in the Spring before they get time to put down their roots properly.


My style is what the French call 'le désordre anglais'

OH came out and said he was turning off the electric in the house.  A lot of clanging and swearing ensued from my bedroom.  He emerged, flushed with success, an hour later and announced, with biblical overtones, that now I had light.  I used to have a lovely mini chandelier in my bedroom, with many sparkling little crystals.  RJ had hung it and had not attached it to the beams properly, with the result that the wiring always showed and it used to descend slowly over a period of weeks before I shoved it back into the ceiling.  Too heavy alas.  OH decided it looked bad for house visitors, and had just cut off the wire, meaning I had no main lighting for about six months.  I now had light and revelled in the luxury of it. The upstairs light circuits have decided to work again which is just as well, as the electrician says he is ill and can't come.  The thing with OH is not to nag, and to invite people to come and see the house.  

When the boys were small, and a visit from MIL was in the offing, we would make a big effort.  I used to say 'don't tell her we have spent a week, cleaning the mess'.  MIL would duly arrive and say to the boys 'well, what have you been up?' and the little rats used to exclaim 'we have been cleaning ALL week!'  I didn't think I did much cleaning, until I started writing this blog.  This is how I feel about cleaning

I do love watching Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners.  Must sign off, I seem to have done something to the text editor which means it is centring all text.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Why my man can't work a hotplate

Saturday 17 January 2015

Wet and windy 4 degrees - some sun later

Imminent arrival of guests drove us down town to rental unit this morning - me to clean and OH to fit new shelving.  Old shelving bowing in scary manner.  He unpacked the new hotplate, purchased yesterday, and took out the instruction manual.  In typical fashion, he then just pressed buttons.  The hotplate made a piercing beeping noise.  Nothing else happened.  I read the manual - you have to select the temperature and then the time and then press go.  It is an induction plate and heated a pan of water in truly amazing time.

Back home for lunch and I rang some suspects (unqualified prospects).  Most of them were out but talked to charming couple who are over soon and who are just looking for a straightforward holiday home.  Saints be praised!  Holiday home buyers are a mountain less difficult to please than people who intend being resident all year.

Rain lashed down and had to pin back the shutters.  Decidedly nippy.   Skies cleared later so I took the dog out and armed myself with dog bashing stick.  All was quiet - no barking even.

Made lemon meringue pie and fixed appointments for next week.  Felt very tired.

Somewhat shaken with good news later

Friday 16 January 2015

Misty 4 degrees cold and rain later

Took the dog out early to clear my head.  Really stuffed up and had slept very badly. Glorious morning with tiny wreaths of cloud wrapped around the highest tree branches.  Dog delighted to be out early and ran around happily.  We descended the hill from our house and suddenly, across a large field, two dogs appeared and streaked towards us with alarming speed.  The larger one resembled a Doberman and the slightly smaller one, a mongrel. They halted at the stream, fortunately full from the recent rainfall, and barked aggressively. They have started doing this recently but we ignore them and they stay on their side of the stream. 

I walked the dog on, quickly, but they followed us the length of the stream and their barking became louder and louder.  To my horror, they then crossed the stream and ran across the maize stalks and onto the road.  The dog was pleased and wagged his tail.  He is a moron of some order.  The dogs surrounded him and growled.  The dog smiled and started sniffing their bottoms.  I got to a safe distance and bellowed for the dog to join me and eventually he did, with the other dogs growling and following him.  They must have followed us for a good 200 metres so I arrived home in quite a shaken state.  Would they have been so interested if I had been on my own?  I rang the local police and reported the incident and they promised to go around and see the owner.

Two hours later the phone rang and it was the policeman who was at the owners house.  He passed the phone to me - no client confidentiality here obviously - and the owner told me that her dogs were adorable and not bad at all and I must have made a mistake.  I told her that the dogs were not at all adorable, no I didn't want to come to her house to see how adorable they were, and that I would report her if they did it again.

OH went to local city to obtain building materials and I had peaceful day putting on new properties.  Peace somewhat disturbed when I get an email from the agency saying do I know anything about the collapsed wall.   I ring the notary who updates me to the effect that the buyer has refused to pull out and is insisting that the seller puts the property back into the condition as seen on the last visit.   Later on in the day, I am sent photos.  It is a retaining wall down in the garden - fortunately not part of the house as we would then have had issues with the surveyor as well.  I ring the owner and tell him he needs to get a quote.  He of course doesn't want to get a quote as this amount will then be retained by the notary against the works.  I ring the notary back and ask him to write in no uncertain terms to the seller and tell him what he must do.  Notary confirms that the seller cant back out without having to pay indemnities which are considerably in excess of the value of the wall repairs.

Have cup of tea in garden and smile and say HA!!!  Thank fate for having my back.

Make fire and OH arrives back at the end of five hours shopping and driving.  Update him and then appraise him of my insight, obtained whilst weeding the other day.  When I think of making a sale, I get a sinking feeling in my stomach - a 'here we go again' feeling. Subconsciously I may be blocking making sales because they are so much stress and worry.  OH regards me over the top of his tea cup and says I had better stop it, we need the money.   I give myself permission to make trouble free sales and have help from all quarters from loving people.

Go to bed early and spend night waking up with bone dry mouth.  Don't feel as ill as I used to do when I attraped a non UK cold.  French and Spanish colds used to knock me for six for at least a week.