26 September 2011

Yesterday I started using the e-cigarette. It's not bad but I am secretly sort of wanting a 'real' cigarette and contemplating a quick run to the newsie for a packet-an urge I shall resist fairly well since the e-cigarette does work to substitute for 'real' cigarettes for the most part. It is a bit strong and a lot heavier than a 'real' cigarette of course, but other than that it is remarkably like and I think I'll stick with it.

The battery is disguised as the business end of a 'real' cigarette and even has a logo at the top near where the filter attaches-just like a 'real' cigarette; the tip glows when the smoker inhales, and exhaling yields a very realistic smoke stream that is in actuality a harmless water vapor.

The filter screws in to the battery. In e-cigarette terms it's called a cartomiser (I chose to go with a company called VIP Electronic Cigarettes and they have their own names for things, the other companies call the filter an atomisers, a cartridge, and the nicotine in the hidden vial is termed e-liquid) that has a concealed vial of nicotine; when activated by both inhalation and the battery the nicotine becomes a vapor that is so low in nicotine the exhalation tests out to have only bare traces. The taste takes some getting used to, as does the weight.

I printed out the glossary, lol, there is an entire lexicon for using an e-cigarette. Users don't smoke, they 'vape', for example, and 'real' cigarettes are known as 'analogue' cigarettes, ROFLOL!

So I smoked the thing all over the house yesterday and there was no odor, no yellow film over everything, and it was fairly satisfying as a smoke. I wish I'd listened to my son while I was in the States, who tried mightily to get me to try the thing. He was so right about the e-cigarette!

Yesterday I also did something for Paul I never did for Crusty. I made real nachos for Paul to enjoy while he watched Formula1 racing. The nachos came out rather well, and now Paul is looking at the Betty Crocker cookbook I schlepped back to Scotland with a much less jaundiced eye. I've never made nachos before and I'm rather pleased at how well the recipe came out.

OK, I did substitute a small onion for the zucchini-who the heck puts zucchini in nachos?! And I used chile con carne instead of plain chile and beans, plus I used Red Leicester cheese instead of Monterey Jack-hey, this is Scotland, you can't get Monterey Jack at the Co-Op. Paul said he could get used to this kind of wifely activity.

Then for supper I made a nice beef roast with potatoes and onions, and broccoli on the side. Paul said he could get used to this as well. It's the second Sunday in a row that I've made a roast. We watch the sales and get them on offer, then I stick them in the freezer. In Scotland if one watches the sales one can fill the freezer with all sorts of goodies.

I had to laugh last week whilst sitting in the dentist chair trying not to think about what was going on in my poor mouth-the radio was on a talk show and the presenters were gasping about the tough lot of Baby Boomers who have to manage on a mere £24 ($37) a day. ROFLOL, Paul and I'd think we were living in the lap of luxury if we felt able to blow £24 every day!

I kept my thoughts to myself, however. The plain truth is that for most Baby Boomers there is still a mortgage to pay, credit cards and other loans (car, university for the children), and little to no skills at grocery shopping-veg gardening-making do/using up/repurposing. They're in a world of hurt because they owe-owe-owe, and have no clue how to cut down their expenses. It's so strange to think about, when I was a girl visiting here people were so careful with money, so frugal, and so sensible. Nowadays though, it's different here, everyone seems to have got this notion they need to have THINGS to prove they are worth something, and so there are almost as many McMansion estates here as there are McMansion subdivisions back in the US. While the 'fancy' pick-up trucks are not at all a common sight on the roads here, the behemoth SUVs are, and because the cost is so high, I know there are car loans on nearly every one we see.

Meanwhile Paul and I own the house with no mortgage, have a veg garden (which reminds me, hopefully we really will get that Indian Summer forecast for this week, and the tomatoes will be able to be left to ripen on the vine in the ground), have no car, and repurpose with ruthless skilz!

I can understand the problems in the US, there $37 a day is not enough most of the time. Having lived in several of the large metro areas of the US, I know from personal experience that using mass transit is almost an impossibility-it's dirty, dangerous, and unacceptably depressing. Decent grocery shops are few and far, far, far between. Housing prices were so high for so long that people are mortgaged and remortgaged to the hilt. Thrift shops are located in the worst parts of town and one needs personal transport to use thrift shops anyway for the most part.

But it's different here. Mass transit is clean and safe-I can get anywhere I need to go with a bit of planning, and we live out in the country. We don't have nor do we need a car available 24/7, it saves us no end of money! Every now and again we hire one for a couple of weeks, which is fun, but when it goes back to Arnold Clark (the Avis of the UK, lol), we are happy to see the forecourt (driveway) again.

We have and use bicycles, but it's simpler to walk down to the shops (which are clean, close-everything within a half mile including lovely charity shops, and did I mention clean?) towing a shopping trolley for heavier loads-LOL, Saturday morning I trundled off with a load of library books to return and my grocery list tucked into the trolley. I returned two hours later with a new load of library books, and several grocery items, I confess pulling the trolley up the hill to the house wasn't as easy as I would have liked. My point is that I was able to get a weekly shop and library trip accomplished on foot in less than two hours-without rushing. Never something I was able to do in the US.

Paul bought this house at a very good price and then worked himself to the bone to pay it off right away; he bought the house in '96 and by 2007 it was paid for. So, no mortgage.

I could go on but it's starting to sound smug and braggy. I really love my husband, it's great to be married to a man who appreciates the finer things in life-being debt free and living a simple life:)

Today I am sewing him a new pair of pyjamas, cut from flannel sheets in excellent nick bought from the British Red Cross charity shop. We've rearranged the furniture yet again-think we've finally got it where we want it now-and I have a dedicated workroom, YEA!!!!! Paul's old desk works perfectly as a cutting table and Saturday after I got back from the weekly shop I was able to get the cutting done, today I will do the sewing. It's fantastic to have the ironing board on permanent set-up, and the sewing machine in its cabinet awaiting a bobbin and some thread. The light in that room is amazing, too, so this afternoon I will be sewing to my heart's content!

Best part is that with the money we're saving by my not spending £6 a day on a packet of cigarettes, we'll be able to have a cat in the house. I feel guilty about that-I do feel I abandoned Mozart and Gonzo and wonder if I even deserve to have a cat in my life again. I think that's because I cannot get any information from the people who took them, they've changed their phone number and email addresses, and I can't get in touch with them. I have daymares about them out in the woods alone and frightened and wondering where I've gone...

23 September 2011

Wednesday Paul couldn't go with me to the dentist so I had to ride up on the bus alone.

We had it planned that I would travel back by taxi. I was not looking forward to the travel or the dentist appointment as the previous visit had been so very difficult. On that return journey I was reeling with pain and nausea, and bleeding badly-the ride back on the bus was a nightmare and the walk home wasn't any better. The wind howled louder than I did, and it was so cold it took me three days to warm up!

So Wednesday afternoon, trembling and faintly nauseous already, I managed to get myself onto the correct bus and purchase a ticket for the next village up. I arrived in time, bought some paper towels and persuaded the clerk to give me an extra bag (to spit blood out into, I just knew I was going to be in rough shape). I got into the dentist office and waited to be called, by which time I was shaking so badly I worried I would throw off the dentist aim!

Suffice it to say this appointment was considerably nicer than the last one. I rode the bus home, no trouble; walked home, no trouble. Sat up in bed the rest of the evening, and only needed aspirin to cope with the pain. Yesterday I didn't need anything and had to remind myself I'd had two teeth pulled.

I was so sick the time before that for the first time in my life I was afraid to go to the dentist. However I only lost two teeth instead of the four the dentist had planned on taking. Oh yes, I am happy!

Re the mass transit in our little corner of the Kingdom: it's very nicely done. Quite unlike the chicken buses in Central America, the only animals allowed on the bus are domestic ones with vax tags and they must be restrained by either cage or leash. Music may be enjoyed only via headphones, people say please and thank-you, and even the school children try to behave. This was my first bus journey alone and it went so well that I am sure I could get myself to Dundee if I wanted to go alone (a distinct possibility, they have fabric shoppes in Dundee!) I felt strange, though, this was the first time ever that I have taken public transportation in a foreign country, it was a bit scary. Because even though we have a somewhat common language, there are differences and I worried I would do or say the wrong thing. But I got there and back, and am feeling able to wander a bit on my own now. It's a really wonderful feeling. I don't feel up to trying to drive-it really is confusing, this driving on the left, and the roundabouts are very intimidating!

Paul couldn't go with me to the dentist Wednesday because he had to be home to accept two different shipments. One was my e-cigarette, something my son tried to get me to try while I was visiting in the States this past spring. I was so sick then I couldn't get the research done (heh, I was so sick I could barely move, my grandson must think I'm a real lump) but I've been doing the research and have found the right brand. We ordered it Tuesday afternoon and it was delivered Wednesday while I was at the dentist. As soon as the wounds heal I will be able to try it-REALLY looking forward to not being a smoker. I plan to cut down on strengths to the zero nicotine atomiser-yippee, all the things I enjoy about smoking with none of the nicotine. I feel like a winner already because all of the chemicals have been eliminated with the atomisers from the e-cigarette company, though. But I am really looking forward to being a total quitter and I think the e-cigarette is the way to go for me.


And we have a working, licensed TV in our house. A 22" colour TV was scheduled for delivery while I was at the dentist and Paul had to be here to sign for it. The license was paid for Wednesday night, the aerial installer arrived yesterday afternoon, and we were watching FreeView by 1530hrs.

British television is different than in America. First of all, when a television is purchased new or used the seller is required by law to communicate said purchase to the licensing ministry (seriously), as are aerial installers-who ask to see the license when they arrive to install the aerial without which there is no TV reception. It is highly illegal to watch live television (as it is broadcast on the airwaves) without a license, and they DO have monitoring vans that go through the street searching for unlicensed TV viewing. Officially the license fee is paid to the BBC, and it covers television, online, and radio use. There are tiers of the fees, we unfortunately do not qualify for another twenty years to have the senior citizen advantage of the free license, lol!

Most of the BBC programmes are very highbrow, lol, but actually very good and interesting, and then of course there is Dr Who on Saturday evenings. And there is the very distinct plus of no commercials-the licensing fee of £146 ($225) per year gives us four BBC channels commercial (called adverts in the UK) free, and the right to watch several other channels (very advert heavy).

So far as I can tell from channel surfing yesterday afternoon and evening, telly in the UK consists of the BBC channels, and several channels of other stuff. Like in the US, there are scrambled channels, and one can pay for premium a' la cart (dratted spell check!) choices that are loaded onto a card inserted into a slot on the telly, or one can (like in the US) order from a cable company.

The commercials are not like the ones in the US, but are charming for the most part although some of the adverts seem to be trying for the US style and are awful. It is a little funny to hear the American accents in the some of the adverts (not well done, I'm afraid, hmmm, I wonder if I could get a job doing voice overs?)

The programming on the BBC is excellent. Last night I watched a fantastic programme on art history that focussed on Charles the First's official portrait painter. We also get several other channels and a couple of those feature programming from the US! Last night I was able to catch up on The Big Bang Theory OMGsh, Penny and Leonard are going to be getting back together? WOOHOO!! Now, if I could just catch up on House I would be content, LOL. It does run here, so I just need to figure out when it is on. It did feel odd to be watching TV, and American TV at that, whilst sitting in my little Scottish bedroom, lol!

I am also now hooked on Downton Abbey, oh wow, what a spectacular programme! And I got to watch Midsomer Murders, that was splendid! I've been hooked on that programme since the first time I saw it on PBS years ago, and followed it as best as I could through they years-now I can keep up with it:)

It's strange though, to have TV in the UK, in this house. Paul always said he hated TV and we wouldn't have one, it was theone thing he insisted on and I decided it wasn't that big a deal, I could always keep up with the news online and use the iPlayers for things like Dr Who, Midsomer Murders, etc. But he came home from a walk a week ago and said we were getting a TV-I think to compensate for dropping the forum (he hasn't been posting, and I don't even think logging in except to answer PMs). And then it turns out he missed watching Formula1 racing. ROFLOL!

He went out yesterday afternoon to pick up a few things from the grocery and came home with a What's On, a UK television viewing guide. LOL, he said he looked around to make sure no-one saw him buying it. My husband is very well known in this small town, and everyone knows (even the children) that he is vehemently anti-TV. (Insert laughing smiley with rolling eyes)

People stop me in the street to chat-they are all curious about the woman who married Paul, the town misanthrope, lol, and now our house sports a TV aerial! I'm sure they're all thinking that on Halloween we'll have a Jack 'O Lantern and give out treats, lol, and have a holiday wreath on the door this Christmas.

Well, yes, actually, we will:)

17 September 2011

Hmmm. I get busy IRL and Blogger changes it's 'interface'-uhm, would that be the old dashboard thingy? Sigh.

OH BOY!!!!! Update on the new interface-DOES. NOT. WORK. To get this post in properly I had to copy and paste it into the old 'interface'.

HMPH! @Blogger-if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

@Zippy, Sadie, et al's mum-you are SO right! On this past Labor Day I read a Washington Post op-ed that Americans should have marched on the White House, and I agree. Non-violent but obvious protest against what is happening in the US. I hope it happens soon, but I wonder if it will happen at all. There seems to be a drive against the working poor and their cousins (the New Working Poor, formerly known as The Middle Class)

Meanwhile, I am so glad to hear your DH is coming home from hospital and is on the mend from NF-oh wow, I almost fell off the chair when I read about it! Thank-God you were there, thank-God you got 911 there so quickly, thank-God he responded to the antibiotics!

Sadly, there is a global drive on several fronts against the Common Man. There are things being put into place here in the UK that will strip the people of their ability to protest overdevelopment, and there are constant attacks on the NHS. There are so many attacks on civil liberties all over the world that it easy to believe the Doomers who say we're on a Highway to Hell. In Paris it is now against the law to pray in the streets-should we be in Paris and I make the Sign of The Cross when I see or hear an ambulance, for example, I will be arrested. The law is being enforced due to the increasing number of Muslim men who prostrate themselves in the middle of busy Parisian boulevards at prayer time. But last night it was announced that this law will cover all form of prayer-which a Sign of The Cross is. Guess we won't be going to Paris anytime soon.

I've stopped posting at the forum, in fact I've deleted my account. Paul is leaving his account there because he's part owner and admin, but he tells me he won't be posting either (LOL, we'll see, he loves that place, and men have a strange notion of what constitutes loyalty).

Someone said something a few weeks ago that has stuck in my head (that no-one on that forum is there to talk, they're there to spout and spew), and after several incidents of trolling/cyber-bullying I decided to end my association. Yes, I still believe Peak Oil is going to jump up and bite us all in the face; yes, I still believe that preparing for the potential ensuing chaos is the right thing to do.

But I also believe in the goodness of people, and to be honest, a group of cyber-bullies have taken over the forum who are merciless to anyone who is religious, hopeful, and not 'edgy' enough for them. And my darling (dense) Paul preferred to hope they would shut it and go away rather than smack them down every time they raised their pointed little heads. Two in particular were especially difficult and when it got to a certain point, that was it for me. I won't be going back. I'm sure I won't be missed.

Something that has been particularly painful/hilarious are the people who know my private email address but are choosing to use the forum messaging system to ask my husband to tell me how much they will miss me. Funny, I never saw them standing up for me when I was being attacked (but then they never saw my husband and our forum co-owner do so either, someone I thought was a personal friend, God knows he's been a guest in our home and broken bread with us. Never again, but my husband doesn't need to know that).

"Let's be lights in this age of darkness" Someone sent that saying to me after I left the forum a couple of days ago. They no longer post there, either.

'This little light of mine/I'm gonna let it shine..."

We're getting a TV (I almost fell over when Paul said that, and I wonder if he really thinks I'm that easily bought).

We're getting a cat. Not the older one we'd thought we were going to have, but a kitten who will grow up an indoor cat. There have been anti-freeze poisonings and fox attacks, and there are increasing attacks on cats by yobs-often in front of the horrified owner (usually a child). Not in our town as far as we know, but in nearby towns. Enough for us. Mozart (oh Lord I miss those two!) was right-In IS better!

As for my health, the antibiotics had to be extended for a second course but the infections are beat! I had starting walking before I knew how sick I was-thought I was just lazy and out of shape so I would FORCE myself around the track enough times to make two miles. Well, a couple of days ago I was halfway through the second mile when I realised not only was I striding comfortably and vigourously, but that I was indeed halfway through the second mile. I stopped on the track for a few minutes, shocked to understand yet again just how sick I'd let myself become, just how bad the pain had been (now that there was a no-pain condition to compare), just how little I was willing to accept from Life.

And that the leaves are beginning to turn colour. Autumn has fallen.

07 September 2011

6 Sept 1974 I arrived in Cape May New Jersey to begin basic training, USCGR. I was one of the first women to go through basic training since WWII. I've always been proud of that.

Years later and I am sitting in a dental surgery having a WHOLE LOT of dental work done. I feel as though I've been hit in the face by a telephone pole. I've had three teeth pulled yesterday, and while he was pulling those three he determined I have three separate infections two on the left and one in the front. I'm on a high dose of antibiotic, I feel woozy, and I feel angry.

Not at the dentist, he didn't do anything except arrange for me to be treated-he's doing a fantastic job!

I'm angry at the dentist back in Ozark who knew I was in trouble back in 1998 and pulled treatment because he believed my soon to be ex that I was the one who'd strayed. I'll never forget that. I'm sitting in the chair and he comes in saying "Someone's been a very bad girl" I asked him what the hell he meant and he told me my soon to be ex had rung round that morning. We got it cleared up but I also told him to go to hell and I'd find a new dentist.

But the divorce became so dangerously ugly that I was busy sorting that out, plus Fox was in terrible shape.

I didn't see a dentist again until 2004, and he was doing an incredible job getting things sorted out until one day my boss told me if I went to my next dental appointment I might as well not return to the office/apartment. The pain was bad but bearable and I quit in 05 and moved to No GA where I thought I would be able to use my new job dental insurance.

Before it kicked in, though, three months before it kicked in, I had what I thought was a sinus infection, and I was terrified, and broke, and sucked it up for days although the pain was horrific. My roommate had an old prescription of antibiotics and he gave it to me, and I seemed to recover.

Then the insurance kicked in and I went to find out about finishing getting my teeth fixed only to find there was so much wrong with my teeth that the dentist wanted $20K plus what the insurance would pay, and he wanted it up front because since the divorce I had no credit...

Off and on through the following years I've had horrible pain come and go on both sides of my face, and thought it was my sinus', something else I couldn't afford to treat.

I was sick the whole time I was in the States with my son, keeping the pain at something of a dull roar with a combination of high dose aspirin and sinus pills I bought over the counter.

A few weeks after I got home to Scotland I knew something was really, really wrong, and then two teeth broke while I was flossing. My husband made me an appointment with his dentist. I didn't want to go because I didn't need to hear how badly things were in there, and that the dentist would want £20K...except he didn't want that much. He wanted a little less than £300 and we paid it, and I went to the dentist yesterday for the second treatment.

It hurt beyond belief, I lay there last night moaning and crying and telling my husband I can not do this.

My husband set the alarm so that it goes off when my next antibiotic pill is due to be taken.

I left the dentist office yesterday minus teeth and plus a prescription for high dose antibiotics. Because I have a raging infection on the lower left side of my face where he took the remnants of two teeth out; I have a raging infection on the upper left side of my face where he took out a badly abscessed tooth; and I have a raging infection across the upper front where he'll be removing three teeth as soon as the infections are knocked down.

He'll be replacing them with a temporary bridge and tell me as soon as the trauma is healed and the gums shrink back to a normal size, we'll discuss better alternatives. He was quite firm that I should take the antibiotics to the finish, that I should 'swish' with warm salted water three times a day. And he told me in an amazed tone that he can't believe I'm ambulatory but since I am he'll keep me out of hospital. For now.

A few weeks ago a young American man died because he couldn't afford the treatment I'm getting. He couldn't afford the pain killer and the antibiotic so he chose the pain killer, and the infection in his one abscessed tooth migrated to his brain and killed him.

I'm angry-I could have had this taken care of years ago if not for the divorce, if not for my former employers, if not for the greedy Atlanta dentist who let me leave his office knowing I was sick. Because my Scottish dentist tells me it's obvious I've had these infections over and again for YEARS.

And I am sickened and angry because a young man in America is dead because he couldn't afford dental care; because a dentist, and then and emergency room let him walk out of their facilities without proper medical care, and he died.

My son is in America. He doesn't have insurance, either. He can't afford dental or dental care either. So I'm scared, too.

Forgive any typos, I'm sick from the surgery and the antibiotics.