Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy 2014

A Hamsa by Jo

This is not good. It's New Year's Eve and a holiday tomorrow, and we are all not 100%. Bwo has a bad back, I have stones, and Roxy tore one of her back nails off, and limping about unhappily. I was planning a nice walk in the country tomorrow, but I'm afraid it's not to be. We will spend another holiday stuck in front of Netflix. I asked bso for some recommendations, as he is into foreign films. He recommended "Old Boy" a South Korean thriller. My God, it was horrifying, violent, quite sick, but "very well made".

Anyway, because it's 31 December today, it's time to look back on 2013. Not a bad year for us. We moved to the UK for a while. I took on more work, walked a lot, saw a lot of the countryside. I also spent way too much time in airports and airplanes. It was a year where our kids had to be more independent, which I'm proud to say, they managed well. Bwo also had a good and quiet year. We got to see my family in the USA with my mom's 90th as well some of the USA and SA family at the Goldsmith 50th anniversary and on their visits to the UK. It has been a peaceful time for us, a good year. I hope 2014 goes as well.

All that is left is to wish everyone a successful, healthy and peaceful 2014. May it be filled with joy and laughter and good things.

Monday, December 30, 2013


Owl by Jo
I counted and we have 20 different types of light bulbs in this house. Twenty. Many of them are funky in the ceiling types that are hard to change and quite expensive. So I hit amazon.co.uk and bought a bunch on line. They were much cheaper. But, you know, you get what you pay for. They don't seem to be lasting two months at the moment. So I'm constantly up the ladder changing light bulbs. We have all sorts in this house. I have learned the difference between normal screw type, bayonet, SES, GU-10, the type with two wires sticking out, amongst others. The worst are these GU-10 halogens that are all over the house, they are a bitch to insert into the in-ceiling fittings and seem to burn out all the time. I thought of going with LED replacements but these are around five punds each (at the cheapest), whereas I got 12 of the halogens for a fiver on amazon. Why so many kinds of bulbs I want to know? 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Slow Sunday

Three Trees by Jo
Today we took it easy (for a change, right). Usually we go somewhere on the weekends. It's often somewhere pretty where I can walk Roxy and bwo can have tea. But bwo's back is feeling a little fragile and with the amount of liquids I am drinking it's not good to be too far away from a toilet. So I walked Roxy in the area and watched football and Netflix. I am currently into foreign movies (bwo hates them because she can't tangle and read subtitles at the same time). I saw two Japanese movies today. One stupid Samurai story, the other called "Departures" was strange, sort of kitsch but moving. It's all about the Japanese encoffinning ceremony, where professional undertakers prepare and dress the bodies of the dead. If you have Netflix and are interested in something quite different, try it, I liked it. Sort of a Japanese Hevrah Kedish movie - it's better than it sounds.

It was another beautiful, sunny but freezing, day. There was deep frost on the ground this morning, and the puddles were actually completely iced over on our walk. Roxy slipped and slid, but man, does she love the cold weather. Tail up, head in the air, she pranced and paraded, dragging sticks and chasing squirrels. It was a fine time to be out.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Roxy by Jo
The thing about bwo is that she tends to get hyper-focused. Lately I am happy to say, she has been pretty much single-mindedly zentangling. This is some sort of, what she calls, "therapeutic doodling". She is, of course, brilliant at it. She pretty much spends a few hours (sometimes more than a few) each day on these, what she calls, "trivial pieces". Well, I think they are great. And so, I will post one each day. Zentangles. Google it if you want to know more. She has had the whole family doing them, from young to old. Hers are still the best. That's Roxy in case you did not know.

I'm feeling a lot better, by the way. Even took Roxy for two walks, as it was a beautiful day here with sunny blue skies. I am drinking a lot of water and so can't stray far from a bathroom. Hopefully, this, like all else, too will pass.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Story of a Stone

Well that was unpleasant. I have been having attacks of lower abdominal pain for the last few days. I just have not felt right. Sometimes it comes on strong and then goes away after an hour or two. Last night I woke at midnight feeling very uncomfortable. The pain increased over the next few hours until I finally accepted the fact that I would have to go to the hospital. This was our first experience at NHS hospitals in the UK so we did not know what to expect. Off bwo drove me to Kingston General. It's not too far to the south of us. Think of Meir in Kfar Sava but with nurses that speak accented English, rather than Hebrew.

By the time I got to the hospital it was 4am. Luckily it was very quiet and they took me straight away. They brought me some pain killers and took a blood sample. All the time the pain got worse until I could not stand still and needed to pace up and down. Eventually they gave me a pain killer suppository, unpleasant but effective. Anyway it was decided that seeing as there was nothing more they can do, they ordered me a CT scan and sent me home.

Once home I suddenly was able to pee again (just a sad dribble came out before, no matter how much I drank) and almost immediately I felt a lot better. The hospital called and arranged the CT scan for 2pm. So after a 2 hour rest, off we chuffed once again to Kingston General. We just got home (6:30pm). The CT took just a few minutes and gave us a false sense of optimism that all would be over soon. We then waited and waited for the results and explanations. This took forever, as the A+E (accident and emergency - ER) was very busy by this time. (And they seemed to lose our papers once or twice).

It seems I still have a 5mm kidney stone in me. It has passed from the kidney through the ureter and is at the top of the bladder (The passing through the ureter is the sore part apparently). I need to drink a lot to get it to pass completely. They gave me some pain killers (tylenol) and something called Tamsulosin (loosens the bladder and makes urination easier). Well at least I am currently not feeling too sore, so there's that. At least the whole A+E deal is free, which is nice.

Hopefully peeing out a 5mm stone will not cause masses of pain and screaming. As I tell my kids, hopefully "this like all else, too will pass".

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Fallen Tree

We have had some atrocious weather here in the UK lately, although today was quite beautiful, but cold. As my brother said "someone has broken the weather:. In the high winds we had this week, a tree in our garden blew down. It fell across the path to the "ecoden", and made a general mess of things. Now we need to figure out what to do. Call to the landlady and now to find some people to cut it up and take it away. There are many trees down in the area, including some huge oaks in the fields near the river. Roxy is not in the least impressed with it all and sniffs around them in disgust. It is really wet and boggy everywhere and wellies are necessary for even the shortest walk in the fields.

We spent a quiet Christmas bwo, Roxy and I, reading watching Netflix and eating too much. Bwo has been furiously zentangling (more on this some other time). All in all a lovely few days. We are actually entertaining some people tomorrow night. We have been slack at this. In our past moves we were always quick to invite people over and to make friends, but here it has not seemed necessary. We are happy in our quiet lives. We have had many visitors, family and friends. I walk a lot. Read a lot and work is always there.

I promised someone very dear to me who is having some medical issues that I would think of them each time I blog. If I had to blog each time I thought of them, I would quickly run out of what to say. Get well, OK! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Weather

In all the year we have been in the UK I have not seen rain like we are having this week in Israel. It's hailing now, and Jerusalem is completely snowed in. I have not been walking for days, streets are flooded, pools of water everywhere. I don't have the right wardrobe for this here in Israel. No wellies or bright yellow jackets, no gloves or scarves or beanies.  It has been a good visit, lots of work, lots of family, lots of bdo's food (she is quite the cook).We have a busy weekend of friends and family planned, then early Sunday morning, back to Richmond and Roxy.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Fitting Tribute

Woolworths Parkview and Soweto Gospel Choir Mandela Tribute Flashmob. Well worth watching.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Park

Today was the big 50th anniversary. Bwo's parents have been married that long. A fine affair indeed. Bso made a good speech, short and honest. It rained.

The event was held at the cafe at the little lake at the Park. This dispenser really caught my eye. While in the rest of the world they have condom machines, in Israel for 10NIS you can get emergency sunscreen. You know you are in a country when the sun shines.

Friday, December 6, 2013

RIP Madiba

Mandela died last night. He was one man I truly admired. A great, great human. Thank you Madiba, for showing us just what is possible.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Driving Lesson No. 2

I must be one of the worst drivers out there. I just had my second two hour driving lesson and it appears I should not be on the road at all, not even with a horse and cart. Even though I have been driving for thirty or so years these lessons are necessary to pass the UK practical driving test. I studied really hard for the theory and did pass (I got two out of 50 wrong, which surprised me because I really studied), but this practical driving test is another matter. That have all manner of things they test you on and apparently are really strict. Reversing around a corner is a favorite, and I am just terrible at it. Also the whole MSM (mirror, signal, maneuver) is just not natural. Anyway, Jon my perfectly nice and patient driving instructor seems to think that with only a further 4 hours of lessons I should be ready. My practical test is at 8am on January 2nd, hopefully all the testers will be hung over from their New Years Eve parties.

I decided, somewhat foolishly perhaps, to take my test on a manual (not automatic) car. Here is much of my problem. I have been driving automatics for many, many years with only the very occasional manual rental car for practice. So besides worrying about the mirrors, the blind spot, which lane to be in on the roundabouts and the correct time to signal, I have to also worry about not "coasting" too much (driving with my foot on the clutch). Truly, the train and buses are looking more reasonable by the minute.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Badger and a Bass

Who said an evening walk cannot be exciting? Last night while strolling past the copse on Meadland Drive, Roxy and I came upon a badger. It gets dark very early at this time of the year, and around 4:30pm it's already pitch black. So we stay out of the forests and bush lands, and stick to the streets which have street lamps and the avenues, which don't. We were walking past the houses on Meadland Drive, when we nearly tripped over a badger sniffing about on the grassy verge. Roxy never noticed it at first, when it moved, she stopped, gave a squeak and started pulling furiously at her lead to get closer. The badger looked at her, she looked at the badger - I swear they on the spot decided the other was cool, they both have black faces with white lining after all. Unhurriedly the badger crossed the road, stopped in the middle to look back at us to make sure we were not following her home and then waddled off into the copse. Roxy, more surprised than alarmed, looked at me, then at the badger sort of shrugged her shoulders and on we walked. Not a sound besides the initial squeak of surprise.

We carried on over Sandy Lane and into Arlington Road and its very nice houses, then turned into Lauderdale Drive with its even nicer houses. Roxy spotted something black and big on the pavement ahead and stopped dead. It was a double bass, complete with case, just laying on its side on the pavement. Now I know this is a nice area, and sometimes people put out old, but reusable furniture for the masses to collect, but this looked like a perfectly good, huge double bass. We decided that the best thing to do would be to ring someone's doorbell and ask, because there was little doubt that this was not a discard. Just then I noticed someone a few houses down futzing around in his garage. I "excused me" and mentioned that there was a "large musical instrument on the pavement (US: sidewalk) opposite". The man ran out his gate and nearly hugged me. He exclaimed (words I can certainly relate to) "My Daughter!". It seems, she plays in a local orchestra and apparently arrived home a few hours back, unpacked her bag and double bass, and promptly left it on the pavement, while her ride drove off. "8000 pounds you just saved me". The grateful father thanked Roxy and I profusely. We continued our walk back home. There is lots happening around Petersham of an evening. The little fox we spotted at the end of the lane behind the house as we got home is not even worth mentioning (although Roxy is was very interested).

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Nine Years

It's hard to believe it's been 9 years since my dad passed away. I think of him often. He is the little bird sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear. I hope I am listening well.

It's the fifth candle of Hanukah tonight and his yatseit. We struggled to find a yaseit candle here in this Christian land, but they finally came through for bwo at Waitrose. The only problem it's such bad quality it keeps going out. Dad would not be impressed.