Monday, December 25, 2006

Santa Claus Was Coming to Town

Yesterday afternoon I received a call from my ward, Dmitri (aka Little Brother). "Can diabetics have chocolates?" "Only if they're special chocolates for diabetics." "What can I get for Eleanor (his stepmother) then?" "Dmitri, Eleanor isn't diabetic, she's epileptic." "But I've already bought them." "Well if you've already bought them.."

Katy's voice from the kitchen "Cross out diabetic, and write in epileptic!".

And may all your Christmases be .......

Ho Ho Ho to anyone bored enough to be reading this today.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Have Yourselves a Merry Little


Have a wonderful Yule. It's a festival that can be shared by believers and non-believers of every sphere.

May the Lord of Mis-rule bring fun and happiness to your homes.

And if nothing inspires me to post again before January,

Happy New Year to All!

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Rush of Blood to the Head

Yesterday, over at Pickled Politics, I had what the Chairman used to call A Rush of Blood to the Head.

I was almost indiscreet.

I revealed more about myself and my life than I normally do. I also promised more.

I am not about to renege, but I am going to give some thought to what I say and how to say it, so not a great deal today.

As a teaser however, I will say that just before they went on stage at Live Aid, an over-excited Freddie Mercury was heard to offer a bj to the first man to drop his trousers.

And as someone who hasn't taken anything recreational for over 20 years (when I stubbed out my last Gitane, it was the last non-prescribed drug I took), I had my first spliff with a pre-Led Zep Pagey in the back of a Transit on the way to a gig.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Mother of All Government Think Tanks

For years I have been irritated (flattered, but irritated) by my friends asking me for advice. There have been several reasons for this: I am bothered by the responsibility; it gave my husband an opportunity to poke fun at my friends (at one stage a certain friend of mine had a disorder of the nether regions, the details of which she regaled me with at length. Every time the phone rang and it was she, said husband would say 'Oh Christ, it's the daily c--- check'); and the phone calls invariably came whilst I was doing something really important like watching 'Friends'.

Since I have been confined to the chair, however, I have, sometimes, welcomed the diversion. Now that there is nobody to laugh at the conversation, and as I have grown in what could be termed either confidence, or more accurately, foolhardiness, I have dispensed erudite half-baked off the wall wisdom at length over the telecommunications network.

How pride cometh before a fall.

I don't know whether this is a precursor to senility, or whether it is time to bow out gracefully, but I just looked at the comments on my daughter's blog (Everything is Electric. Sorry, don't have the technical know-how to link to it), and one of her commenters has described her as being better than a government think tank.

Oracle to Cassandra in one smooth move.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Chickening Out

Back in 1988 the UK property market went into hyperdrive. For those unfamiliar with the scenario, tax laws regarding mortgages were changing, and if a mortgage hadn't been arranged by August of that year, one would be at a disadvantage. This meant that everyone who didn't have a property was desperate to buy one, and everyone who had one, wanted a more expensive one. Anyway, the price of property rocketed, and there weren't enough properties to meet the demand, and new developments started springing up everywhere.

It was during this highly- charged period that the first letter arrived. It was from an Estate Agent (Realtor), to cut a long story short, he suggested that he held a meeting with all the property owners on our block, there were 16 of us, with a view to buying all our properties, at a premium, pulling them down, and putting up a large block of flats. They gave us the figure their client was prepared to pay. and told us to divide it among themselves. Our block was unusual in as much as the houses weren't uniform, they'd gone up at different times. There were big houses with fairly big gardens (ours), a big house with a big garden, medium houses with medium gardens, and smallish houses with big gardens. Sort it out amongst ourselves, you've got to be joking. Everybody agreed that the big house with the big garden should get the most, but apart from that, everybody thought their house, or at least their type of house, was entitled to more than the other types. Things were getting a little fraught, when Estate Agent 2's letter arrived. He too wanted to have a meeting with all of us. So we met with him. The developer he was representing was extremely well-known, reputable, and offering considerably more money than the first people. All things being equal, and all people being greedy, we unanimously agreed to go with number 2. They appeared altogether more serious. One of their directors came to meet with us, I remember noticing that he was wearing Gucci loafers, he put the deal to us, he mentioned the total figure, and then said that he would make individual offers to each householder, from that amount. He stood up, and we filed past him. It was like the receiving line at a wedding in reverse. We shook his hand, and he gave us each a white envelope with our names on it.

I would like you to imagine what went on afterwards. I'll give you a brief rundown of the occupants of the houses, there was one Chinese family, five British/Jewish, two Indian/Jewish, one Indian/Hindu, one Indian/Muslim and six indigenous British. We didn't have Bhutros Bhutros Galli, but, goodness, we needed him. We quickly formed splinter groups. Our alliances were diverse. They weren't split along ethnic lines, nor was the divide house-size related. All I know is that there were meetings going on in all of the houses, all of the time. At least that's how it seemed. During that time, the group our house was in actually remained constant. There was the Chairman and I (Large house fairly large garden), our best friends and near neighbours Colin and Lizzie (large house very large garden), elderly market traders Frank and Eva and retired solicitor Laurence (medium houses medium gardens). We considered ourselves to be the pragmatic ones, who were prepared to compromise to let the deal go through. The offer was so good, that we agreed amongst ourselves that if the money was divided equally between all houses, it would still be a fantastic offer. The others weren't so agreeable. People started arguing in the street. One hot summers day, I had the pleasure of seeing two Jewish men in their late sixties pushing and swearing at each other outside my house. It was a time of extreme tension. It seemed to me nobody slept for weeks. People would be knocking on peoples doors at all hours of the day and night. Plans were hatched and discarded, suggestions were made and rejected. Frankly it was hell.

And then, one Saturday morning, while the plotting went on around me, I opened the front door. I have always been an early riser, and before the supermarkets opened 24 hours a day (and obviously, before the chair), I liked to be at the supermarket when it opened at 8 am. Anyway, I opened the front door, and there, on the doormat, were a pair of crossed chicken feet. This both surprised and baffled me. Now I must confess that I have always been a bit squeamish about chicken feet when they were not actually attached to a living chicken. My grandmother always included them in her chicken soup. and I hated to see them bobbing away in the pan next to the kneidlach (matzo balls) and carrots. So when I saw them outside my house, I was, frankly, disgusted. I woke up the Chairman, and dragged him to the door to inspect them. He was also baffled (actually, he spent a lot of time being baffled, apparently it's a Newtonian trait), and phoned Colin. Colin came up the road, and we all stood and looked at the feet. 'Isn't this some sort of Jewish warning?', said Colin. He and the Chairman looked at me expectantly. I was the Jewish one, but I didn't know. I had always lived in North West London, not in the East End or the Shteitl in Poland. These things were as alien to me as to them. So I consulted the oracle, or Mum, as I called her. She cast her mind back to her childhood, and decided that Colin might be right.

We sat and drank coffee, and pondered (Tesco would have to wait). Who could it be? The obvious culprit was the Estate Agent who was (a) fed up with the time we were taking to arrive at a solution and (b) Jewish. As I was a bit of a mover and shaker in the deal, being the only person who was talking to everyone all the time, he obviously thought it was time to give the protaganists a proverbial kick in the rear. Then the Chairman and Colin went to have a further look on the front step, and discovered that that the chicken feet had been wrapped in an old utility bill from a flat a couple of streets away.

They decided to investigate.

I want you to imagine two broad, youngish men over six feet tall, with beards and sunglasses. Off they went to the block of flats a couple of streets away, where they rifled through the communal rubbish bins for signs of chicken innards or carcases. Now this was a bit of a no-brainer, for this was a very Jewish block, on a Saturday morning, where most people had eaten chicken the night before.

So they knocked on the door of the flat where the utility bill had been sent.

At this point I would like to remind you that we were all demented.

A small Jewish woman looked through the peephole. She could see two large men with beards and sunglasses. She didn't open the door. 'Yes?' she said 'Can I help you?'. ' We're investigating an incident of intimidation by chicken feet' said Colin. 'Are you the police' asked the small Jewish woman. 'No' said Colin. 'Well then' she said, 'Who are you?' they looked at each other, got out their Visa cards, and solemnly passed them under the door.

Three weeks later, the property market nose-dived, and the deal fell through.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Occupational Hazard

I really have no intention of turning this into a medical- related blog, but I have been concerned with medical matters over the past couple of weeks.

Now that I am getting active treatment for my condition, it's all systems go on the medical front. There's physiotherapy, exercise, minor weight training, regular visits to the Consultant, and of course the Special Compression Stockings made to measure somewhere in Germany. Added to all of this, may I introduce, Occupational Therapy.

It's a strange thing. I have struggled, and Katy has struggled with me (with mini accompanying struggles from Little Brother), virtually unaided by any official medical agency, apart of course, for my heroic GP, who has indeed been a brick, and almost as demented as the rest of us, for 3 years. Now that there is an extremely small glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, all this help has miraculously appeared.

This week brought a visit from the Occupational Therapist.

I had already had a telephone interview with the Duty OT last week, where I had supplied all my personal and medical details, so that there would be no forms to fill in when she arrived, she would just make an assessment as to what the Local Authority could do to help me around the house. So basically, I will now be getting help as I become more mobile, but when I was getting less mobile every day, there was no help.

But as usual, I digress. I had asked The Tezter and his LSW to be here at the same time as the OT, as I am not keen on turning my house into 'Holby City', and wanted someone else to hear her suggestions, and to discuss them after she'd left. Anyway, true to form, they arrived about 2 minutes before the OT, and I shunted them off with Little Brother into the dining rooom, so that I could initially have a brief private conversation with her. Little Brother, who has a mild Autistic Spectrum Disorder, really communicates with The Tezter despite the 35 years age difference, but their friendship is somewhat bizarre, and much of their communication consists of The Tezter lecturing Little Brother on the exploits of various SS Panzer Divisions in WW2, or them calling each other lewd names amongst much raucous giggling.

Well, I, and the extremely proper young lady from The Local Authority discussed my 'condition', while from the dining room, I could hear whispers of 'You're a ----', 'No, you're a ----', followed by muffled male laughter, and exasperated sighs from the LSW. Then I called The Tezter in while we discussed what could be done for me, a chairlift and a leglift (means tested) so that I could go to bed again, but not before April as the Local Authority has no money until then, or I could have them fitted now, at my own expense, and be re-imbursed in the next financial year, if I was entitled to a grant. And that was that.

Or rather, it wasn't. Having been with me for the best part of an hour, she said that there were a couple of things she needed to know, and then she proceeded to ask me all the questions I'd answered previously over the phone, And then some. I put my hands above my head, I wiggled my toes, I answered questions about my previous illnesses (none), stays in hospital (childbirth), incontinence (no), and washing ability (Look at me. I'm clean!). Then she asked me if I knew my date of birth, the same one I'd given her 5 minutes previously, and who the Prime Minister is.

I turned my head extremely slowly, and fixed her with what best may be described as an icy stare. She stood up 'Well, that'll be all thank you Mrs. Newton.'


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Non ER

Lists are extremely popular these days. We have lists of the best performing schools and hospitals, least/most expensive towns to buy a house in the UK, smallest/largest immigrant populations in the UK, best/worst rubbish collection. Frankly, the list of lists seems endless.

A list that has not yet been compiled, probably because it's a minority interest, is a list of The Best Public Places to Get a Large Wheelchair. Here is my list:

1) JFK Airport, NY, NY
2) London Heathrow Airport
3) London Stanstead Airport

Here is my list of The Worst Public Places to Get a Large Wheelchair:

A Certain World Famous Teaching Hospital In North West London

Let me digress. I have a medical condition called Lymphodoema. for me, this means that my knees are extremely swollen, and I can't walk very far. this also means that, together, my knees are bigger than my body. So, although my bottom fits comfortably into a standard wheel chair, my legs are over the wheels, and the chair cannot move. I am receiving excellent medical attention at a Certain World Famous Teaching Hospital In North West London, and I have to attend not only my Consultant's (all bow down and worship him. He is not only clever and charming, but also gorgeous) clinic, but also Physiotherapy. Now, Katy usually takes me to my Consultant's appointments, as they are only about once every six weeks, but I have to attend Physio rather more often. As Katy has a Very Important Job, and is often Very Busy Indeed, alternative arrangements have to be made.

The CWFTHinNWL has a service where ambulances, with attendants, more like coaches actually, who will collect raddled old cripples like myself from their homes, wheel them to the vehicle in a wheelchair, deposit them at the appropriate clinic, collect them after their appointments, and drop them home again afterwards. It was decided that that was the road which I would travel. Arrangements were made, and a note was placed on my file to tell transport that I needed the large wheelchair. We all knew it existed, because I was sitting in it in the CWFTHinNWL as the arrangements were being made. It was also suggested that I telephone Transport the day previous to the appointment to remind them about the chair. Which I did. I was assured that they knew everything, and that I was to be ready at 11.30am.

Do you remember the story of the Three Little Pigs, and how they got up earlier and earlier to beat the Big Bad Wolf? This was obviously the premis on which the Transport service works, for they arrived at 9.30am. Anyway, they agreed to wait while I got ready, a long and tedious process, but eventually, ready I was, and the smiling attendant came in with THE STANDARD WHEELCHAIR. Of course, this was no good to woman nor beast, so he phoned his Despatcher, and I phoned my Physiotherapist, who changed the appointment for another day, and I put my feet back up, and though a little put out, thought no more of it.

The next day the Physiotherapist telephoned me. Transport had told her that the CWFTHinNWL didn't have a large wheelchair. This was ridiculous for 2 reasons, firstly the hospital sees people my size and larger all the time, I have seen them there. I have also seen some of them in wheelchairs. Secondly, as mentioned earlier, I have, myself, sat, and been seen sitting, in the large wheelchair. More to-ing and fro-ing continued, until eventually Transport came up with this solution. It went like this, 'If we can find the large wheelchair, we will put it on an ambulance, but we can't guarantee that the ambulance that goes to the Chairwoman's house, will be the one with the large wheelchair on it'.

I have made alternative arrangements. My friend's husband comes here early in the morning,
he then switches to my car, drives me and my mobility scooter to the CWFTHinNWL, I then switch from car to scooter and zoom (!!) off to my appointment with a cheery wave, and at lunchtime he collects me and we reverse the procedure. It may be a little clumsy, but it works.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The North West London Chainsaw Massacre

Most of the time The Tezter could pass as almost normal. There are his little eccentricities, the way he always wears his t-shirts inside out, the way he stands with his hands turned back to front, the fact that he always paints the frames of his glasses with blackboard paint, and his obsession with the Waffen SS. Little things that just hint that what you see isn't exactly what you're going to get.

There are, however, other 'special' times, for The Tezter is bi-polar, not a phrase he likes. He prefers the older 'manic depressive', as indeed he should, because when The Tezter is 'up', manic hardly starts to describe his personality. Apart from the drinking and ranting, there's the cleaning and bathing, and of course the wearing of the Special Clothes. When he's being manic, The Tezter dresses in black. Black trousers, black shirt, black waistcoat, his special religious medals (he's a product of a strict RC education and upbringing), and slung across his chest, like a Mexican bandit's cartridge belt, a dog's lead.

To go with the clothes, there is, of course, the bizarre behaviour. There are many stories I could tell, but this one, I think is my favourite. The Tezter and his long suffering wife, henceforth known as The LSW live in area that has residents' parking. They have such a permit (£90 per annum and cheap at twice the price), which has to be regulalrly renewed. One time, the renewal time came during one of his episodes, and they forgot to renew the permit. Well, we all know what Parking Attendants are like, and this one was waiting outside Tezter Towers as the controlled hour arrived, and quick as a flash, stuck a ticket on his car. And when The LSW went to take the dog for a walk, there it was, waiting for her to discover it.

When she returned from the walk, to find him dressed in his Special Clothes, and washing everything in sight, she foolishly mentioned it to him. Now The Tezter does battle with authority at the best of times, but when he's having an episode, the battling takes on a status that could best be described as monumental. The Local Authority obviously had to be punished, and he was the man for the job. He went in search of his chainsaw. The LSW, obviously in fear that the NW London Chainsaw Massacre was about to take place phoned Katy for some legal advice. While she was advising her, she heard The LSW cry 'Oh no!!' followed by a distant buzzing sound. 'What's happened?', shouted Katy. There was no reply. Then Katy heard the buzzing getting louder. 'Oh Jesus! You haven't!' she heard The LSW exclaim. The buzzing sound had increased.

The Tezter was in the house. In the right hand he held the still whirring chainsaw, and in the left, sawn off at ground level, the 'Residents Only' parking sign.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Angry Young Man

I can't actually remember how it started. I'm not sure if it's because it was a long time ago, or whether it was just one of those marital rows that appear from nowhere and go back to the same place.

When we were younger, both the late Chairman and I were pretty volatile. Whether it was youth, stubborness, ego, or the delightful combination of all three, I'm not sure, but anyhow, that's how it was. Anyway, that afternoon, one of those trivial domestics blew into a full-scale shouting match. Ladies, you know the kind; you sit on the sofa trying to get a word in, while a red-faced troll lumbers up and down the sitting room enumerating your faults (and if you don't recognise the situation, you're probably not actually married). After he'd done this for what seemed like a very long time indeed, I managed to get a word in. Obviously the word (I can't remember exactly which one it was) was not the one he wanted to hear. So he was off again, only this time he'd really show me.

Really showing me generally consisted of him destroying something that he owned and was fond of. I never actually understood the philosophy behind this, but it was what a young Chairman did. I had recently bought him a large, hardbacked, artbook (appropriately, Surrealism). He triumphantly took it down from the shelf and brandished it. He then proceeded to attempt to rip it in two. It was an expensive and well-made book, and despite his strength, he was able to make very little impression upon it. But he was not to be beaten. Goodness he was going to punish me. He left the room and returned with his electric drill (every home should have one). He plugged it in, picked up the book, and perforated it by drilling very small holes, very close together, through the book, in a straight line. Then he dilligently tore along the dotted line and holding a half in each hand, waved them at me. I said and did nothing.

So he ate my rubber plant.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Reservoir Dogs

Before La Fluffita there were Nefertiti and Ptolomy. Nefertiti was a huge and beautiful Doberman/German Shepherd cross, rescued from a house full of small children somewhere in South London, and Ptolomy was her son, the result of the union between her and an opportunistic, prize winning stud Golden Retriever called Olaf. Olaf's owner was totally horrified when her beloved cash dog leapt upon Nefertiti and ravished her as the late Chairman walked her back to the car. The Chairman then had to engage her in light conversation while her dog ravished ours. I gather it was an interesting walk.

Anyway, 9 weeks later, she produced 10 adorable black puppies. One by one they left home to live with new owners. 2 went to train as guard dogs, as we called one of them the Bitey Boy, as he mauled his gentle brothers and sisters, I think it was an appropriate career, but the other one, I am sure, only looked the part. Ptolomy however, never showed any desire to leave home. When people came to see the puppies, the others surged forward enthusiastically. Ptolomy didn't. Ptolomy didn't surge at all. He always hid next to me or the Chairman. We had decided to keep one of the puppies but couldn't choose one. It was fine. Ptolomy chose us.

Every morning the Chairman would take them out for an hour around the local reservoir. After he died, my neighbour took them out for a couple of weeks, then I went with them, then it was Katy and I, then Katy. We had avoided the reservoir as the Chairman had enjoyed taking them there so much, but after a couple of months it seemed wrong to deprive them of their favourite place, and Nefi loved to swim. So Katy took them there. They had a lovely time, it was often quiet, actually I suppose it isn't really the place for a girl to walk by herself, but they were big dogs. As she was walking back to the car she passed another dog walker. He stopped her and smiled. 'I know these dogs' he said, 'A tall, bald, guy usually walks them, I haven't seen him for some time.' 'That's my father' said Katy, 'He had a heart attack'. 'How is he?' said the d.w., 'He's dead' said Katy. There was a pause. 'Ah' said the d.w. 'Not too good then'.

The Saturday Night Special

When I was 9 or 10, we got our first television. This, of course, was a very big deal indeed. It was purchased to coincide with the start of commercial television. Oh, how excited I was at the thought of Muffin the Mule being in my very own sitting room. We actually started to sit in the sitting room in the evenings, instead of cosily round the kitchen table, listening to the wireless. This meant that the coal fire would be lit (it was autumn) , and my parents and I (I'm an only child) would sit on the sofa, in front of the fire, gazing at the flickering black and white screen. My grandparents, who lived with us, as was quite common in the fifties, stayed in the kitchen, and talked about old times.

Saturday night was my favourite night of the week. The prgrammes were geared more for children then. There was Robin Hood (riding through the glen), followed by the Buccaneers (roving across the ocean), followed by The Strange world of Planet X, which I wasn't allowed to watch alone, and sometimes wasn't allowed to watch at all as my mother considered it too scary for me. Anyway, the Saturday night in question I was sitting by myself in front of the television watching The Buccaneers, eating a pomegranate that my grandfather had brought home from his fruit shop, along with the bananas*, apples and pears, when I heard this tap-tap-tapping in the grate. I looked down, and there was the biggest, hairiest, spider I have ever seen in the flesh, so to speak.

It sauntered, eight-leggedly around the fireplace, while I sat, initially petrified with terror. And then I screamed, and then I screamed again. My mother, a woman prone to imagining the worst, came running in. I was standing on the sofa, I was pointing, I was totally hysterical. My mother, despite her fear of most things (especially wasps, which don't actually bother me much unless they're actually bothering me, if you see what I mean), was not bothered by spiders, but this one was a horse of a different colour. This was not a put-a-glass-over-it job. My mother looked at the spider and took off her slipper, and slapped the spider hard with the slipper, the spider turned around, saw my mother, slipper raised, and rather than running for its life, fought her. It was an unequal battle, the spider was no match for my mother and her slipper. In a scene reminiscent of the shower scene in Psycho, my mother beat the spider to death. It was so big, it neither squashed nor shrivelled, it just lay there dead. My mother picked it up with the coal shovel, and threw it on the fire. My goodness those were tough old days.

I've been terrified of them ever since. But I don't want them to die either.

*I forgot to mention that the spider appeared to have come home with the bananas!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A fresh start


Not a good start to the day. Wakened at about 5.30 am by restless dog was unable to go back to sleep. Didn't have a book to hand, and it was much too early to call anyone, so sat here, in the chair, and listened to the wireless. My usual night-time listening is Talk Sport Radio, I love the fact that there are lunatics awake and frothing at the mouth in the early hours, but as it approaches 6 am, it's time for the talk to stop, and the sport to begin. During the week, the sport is inevitably something rough and sweaty, ie. football, but at the weekends it's more relaxed, a little something called 'Fisherman's Blues' the theme tune of which is, for the cogniscenti, a gentle tune of the same name by the Hothouse Flowers, but today I wasn't in the mood to imagine myself languishing beside a gentle English river, whilst fluffy white clouds scudded across a metallic blue sky, so I reached towards the remote control and ......aaarrghh!!! there it was, all eight legs of it, one waving languidly in the air, my bete noir, the horny autumnal male house spider.

Seeing a spider at 6am is bad enough, seeing a spider when you can only move and walk very slowly is pas un joke, not funny, no no not at all. So I did the only thing possible, I intercommed Katy. Now Katy, as her regular readers will know, went on the Friendly Spider course last year,
so although she is generally very displeased to be called that early, she immediately cheered up, and rushed downstairs ready to exhibit her spider catching skills. When she entered the sitting room, I was leaning in the chair as far as possible in the opposite direction to the spider with my eyes tightly shut and face screwed up like a three year old muttering 'No, no', under my breath.

My goodness, you should have seen Katy go, she whisked herself into the kitchen, and came back with a small pyrex bowl. Meanwhile, I struggled to my feet and shuffled off to the dining room. You know how they tell you that fear gives the crippled the ability to rise to their feet and run at times of deep fear and danger? Forget it. Didn't happen. Dragged myself with my customery gait of the wounded hyena into the dining room, and listened to Katy busying herself in the sitting room.

Of course the damn not so itsy-bitsy thing had vanished. Katy was tremendously brave, or perhaps not as the Friendly Spider course had supposedly rid her of fear, and she certainly didn't sound frightened. Then she brought my handbag (which she had searched!) and other impedimenta into the dining room, and told me that she couldn't find it. Then she went back and searched some more. There it was, nestling under a nectarine, which let me tell you was delicious (the nectarine, not the spider), but it's not easy to put a pyrex bowl over a nectarine and trap a spider, so off it went, like a greyhound out of its' trap, scuttling into the relative safety of underneath the radiator. And it hasn't been seen since.

I spent the next 3 hours in the dining room, defying doctors' orders to keep my legs elevated, until I could legitimately call her again. So I thought that I'd catch up on my much neglected blogging, only to find that I'd been away so long that blogger wouldn't let me post on my old site. So, here I am, old title, new url, and I will try to find something interesting to say more often.