Head in the Clouds

IMG_2765

This the view from the balcony this evening…..somewhat subfusc, you might think; not at all your idea of Costa Rica.

But this is the rainy season, and we are up in the clouds.

We have been in and out of San Jose all week for hospital and legal appointments – with a bit of light relief at a meeting of a writers’ group – and with impeccable timing just as we have alighted from the bus the heavens have opened, the Central American version of Thor has made a nuisance of himself and by the time we have reached the car we are like two drookit hens – and just about as voluble.

The road – the back road – to the house has become a river: two vast piles of hoggin dumped by the council in a gesture designed to mollify local residents sit just where they were a week ago as the council bulldozer has gone down with the lurgy yet again.
By the time the machine recovers from its latest malady various enterprising persons will have half inched the hoggin for their own purposes and the ritual dance will begin again.

Residents apply to the council for road repairs.
Council, sucking its collective teeth, declines to make extraordinary provision.
Residents – in greater number – apply again.
Council, relying on an old favourite of an excuse, announce that the bulldozer is out of action – again.

Now, each time the bulldozer is out of action it apparently costs forty million colones ($80,000) to have it repaired, and it breaks down every time it is put into service.
Thus, announces the council’s lawyer, it is best not to use the thing at all.

Residents, rising in their wrath, point out certain irregularities in council proceedings and payments to councillors.

The council produce the bulldozer.
It breaks down.

The dance resumes.
As a participant, you feel rather like Mr. Pastry dancing The Lancers…

There is something that you just don’t seem able to grasp…

Still, given the power of blackmail, things might improve.

The council has been showing its less attractive profile just lately.

One of its members took exception to the Peruvian couple who regularly play their pan pipes in the corner of the park by the taxi stand.
We remain in ignorance as to the origin of the incident – perhaps he had asked for and been refused a performance of the Magic Flute, who knows?…but the taxi drivers assembled in their shelter nearby saw him grab the Peruvian lady by the arm and in turn be felled by a well placed kick from her husband.
He was carted off to hospital with a broken leg.

Then the council’s lawyer published a letter on the council’s Facebook page announcing that those who wanted the installation of a Walmart in the town were thinking not with their heads – but with their livers.
This apparently curled a number of said livers and the lawyer has retreated under heavy pressure which centred on his relationship with a member of the family running the local supermarket monopoly.

And to cap it all it has been discovered that:
A…one of the councillors hasn’t attended a single meeting since her appointment:
B…said lady denies ever being a councillor
and
C…the witch hunt is up for who it is that has been pocketing her allowances.

The bulldozer might yet make a miraculous recovery.

We have had to leave the puppies rather longer than is desirable in terms of their socialising routine…..
IMG_2762

But they have clearly made their own arrangements and who are we to quibble..

The older dogs are doing a good job on the pair, working on the principle that if older dogs can’t do that there ‘ere, then neither can two upstart puppies

Yet some fine tuning remains to be achieved….
They happily accept collars and leads…but insist on carrying the leads themselves…
But they follow the terms of employment in the collier brigs sailing out of the Tyne as recorded by Hervey Benham, maritime historian of the East coast of England

Duff out
Dumpling home
Poop in the cabin foul weather.

Advertisements

Coffee Break

water damage 039A sunny mid morning finds us on the balcony with coffee, cake…and friends.
Dona Mery, Dona Estrella, Don Freddy and ourselves chewing the fat on life in the three valleys and the upcoming project to concrete part of the road from town.

As no mayor or eminent politician lives in the three valleys the road when we first arrived was simply a wide track with hardcore rolled into it from time to time when the lorry from the pig farm could no longer get traction.
It ran from the main road at the entrance to town downhill all the way to a small bridge whose supports were eaten away by the torrent below and then it rose again on the other side, where it forked.

One track led uphill and is supposed to be the emergency exit from town if the main road were to be damaged by an earthquake: this road runs over a well developed faultline and thanks to a mixture of meddling and neglect on the part of the council is next to unusable, turning into a river bed in the heavy rains.

The other track led downhill alongside our coffee plantation and now continues to the embryo massage parlour project on the other side of a large stream.
It is an embryo project because unless the owner combines it with a zipline the clients are going to have one heck of a job reaching the welcoming ladies in their individual cabinas with all mod cons – well, water anyway – as every attempt to install a bridge has resulted in said bridge being washed away by the stream.

Then the developer appeared – he preceded the massage parlour chap who bought him out when the courts chucked out the development project – and one day, the developer having influence, the bridge supports were replaced and safety rails were installed.
The safety rails lasted about three days before a lorry bringing materials to the development took them out, but the supports are still there.

Then the man who owns a big finca up near the main road decided to get together with his neighbours…a garage, a general store, a man hiring out bouncy castles and sundry others….and concrete the track from the main road down to the entrance to his property.
The developer was all for this and used his influence to get a grant to pay for the materials – hardcore, metal mesh, sand and cement – while the neighbours would supply the manpower.

Except that there were not enough neighbours to supply it, so fundraising to pay for labour was necessary.
Raffle tickets, dances, chicharone (pork crackling) feasts – all were hawked up and down the three valleys for, as the people organising it said, everyone downhill used that stretch of road so it was only right that everyone should contribute.

But not everyone downhill was content to do so.
Those who did not have a car said they didn’t mind what the road was like as they would still be walking.
Those with cars said that those who drove lorries should pay as it was lorries that wrecked the road.
Those with lorries said that the people who said that they walked actually took taxis so they should pay too.
The Indians half way down the hill said that they were indigenous people and should not have to pay.
Everyone who was not an Indian said that they jolly well should.

No one, significantly, said that the local council should pay. There are some things it is not even worth discussing.

Most people coughed up something and the stretch of road was built….a concrete section (known as the motorway) reaching about a quarter of the way to the bridge which is when the materials ran out.

Things stayed like this for a few years until a female dynamo moved into the three valleys.
She and her husband built a modern house enclosed by walls and an expensive ironwork gate; they planted palms along the verge to their house….but something was lacking in her House and Garden world.
A proper road.

She had, of course, joined the development association and she started the ball rolling on improvements.
Her first project was to collect enough money to put down hardcore on the section leading down from the end of the concrete road.
Quite a few people, ourselves included, said it was a waste of money that could be put to extending the motorway.

With a toss of her elegant head she proceeded to beguile the association into backing her project and now, a year later, the road is as bad as ever.

So now she is fundraising for a concrete stretch.

But it won’t follow on from the existing stretch.
No…that would be too simple.

The owner of the pig farm by the bridge has managed to get a grant for materials….but as he suspects the money won’t buy enough to reach from the existing stretch to the bridge, he wants to start at the bridge and work upwards.

It is this that we are discussing when Don Anselmo appears, bearing gifts.
He has brought us pickling onions from Santa Ana and tomatoes from San Ramon, stopping in on his way to check his cattle on grazing he has rented down by the stream.
Fresh coffee and cake circulate and discussion continues.

Well, says Don Freddy, people are putting more in this time than last.

They would, says Dona Estrella. There’s more people down here than up top and most of them have someone working. Apart from that there’s a fair few young lads willing to do the work.

And even Carlos is putting his hand in his pocket, says his aunt, Dona Mery. He’s giving a calf for a raffle.

What’s the matter with him…ill or something? Normally he wouldn’t even give you the time of day! Must fancy his chances with the new senora!

And Mito at the pig farm is giving a porker for chicharones which is decent of him since he was the one that got the grant.

I’m putting in too, says Don Anselmo, as my lorry uses the road a bit, but it’s not a good moment.

What’s the problem?

Well, you know I buy and sell a bit and last week I bought six calves at auction and put them down on the grazing here.
Well, one’s missing. A nice black brahma calf.
I’ve looked everywhere…upstream and down, along the roads, but no one’s seen anything.
I hadn’t even had time to brand them….’

That’s a loss, all right!

Yes…it’s always something with farming…
I must be off. I’ll nip round on Tuesday if you’re fishing out your tilapia then and make you some ceviche! Give me a ring!

He takes his leave and we hear his lorry start up ouside.

I was thinking, said Don Freddy.
From what Mito says, the grant won’t be enough to take the road right up to the existing bit.
The new senora is going to find that she has concrete uphill and downhill of her…but the same old rocks outside her house.

And I’ve been thinking too, says Dona Mery, rising to her feet.
I’m just going round to Carlos’ place to have a look at that calf he’s giving.

Bet you it’s black, says Don Freddy.

Becoming an Expat…Costa Rica

BECR eReader coverWe first came to Costa Rica almost by chance…

It was a foul winter in rural France, the cold just seemed to go on and on and we wanted a break. More than a fortnight.
Friends agreed to house sit and we looked for a destination.

In his working life my husband had travelled widely…but apart from a promotional trip to Miami on Concorde had never visited any of the Americas.
So the Americas it was…the warmer bits thereof.

He had also been worrying for some time about climate change as it affected us in France.
When we were first there you could almost always have Christmas Day lunch outside in a sheltered garden…by the time we were looking for a holiday destination you’d have needed six layers of thermals and a death wish to have attempted anything of the sort.
The summers were rainy and dull, too and there were bursts of extreme weather, both hot and cold.
We needed to explore other options.
He had been thinking about it and came up with the idea that the tropics at altitude would see the least change….so that again narrowed the field of destinations.

So not just a holiday….a recce.

This changed the focus…not just a break somewhere warm…but somewhere we might think about living.
On to the internet to check out residence requirements and, most importantly, affordable and adequate health provision.

I fancied Uraguay…not tropical enough.
Ecuador? Costa Rica?

The flights to Costa Rica were decidedly cheaper….so that’s where we went.
We came, we saw and were conquered.
We bought a house in the country to escape the winters in France and, over time, decided to make the permanent move.

We did our research ‘on the hoof’….but the book whose cover features at the top of the page would have saved us a lot of legwork….and here’s my review of it.

Becoming an Expat in Costa Rica by Shannon Enete

I really rate this book for anyone contemplating a move to this country.
It is chiefly aimed at the U.S. would-be expat – you’ll note this in particular in the sections on tax and education – but the major part of the content has value for everyone.

It covers the usual path…residency, rent or buy, description of various areas of the country, but also takes you through the bus or car decision, the health options and how to move without tearing out your hair.
It is detailed…it lays things out for you.

It gives the author’s personal views, interviews with settled expats and well researched background material and for me it rings true to the Costa Rica I know.

Are there things I would suggest?
Yes, one or two….

Not all Ticos are ‘Angels’ – though a lot of them are: there can be Tico and Gringo prices where these are not clearly marked, and, if you’re buying property or doing a deal out in the sticks, there is the international phenomenon whereby a countryman thinks that if you don’t speak his language or patois you are an idiot and can have the wool pulled over your eyes.
Some can be quite annoyed when you can’t…..

A warning about not trusting someone from your own country just because he or she speaks your language might have been apposite too….the unscrupulous and exploitative expat is also an international phenomenon.

I would have liked a section on San Jose itself….but I’m prejudiced – I love the city and it has some wonderful places to live as well as to visit.

Yes, Costa Rica has greedy politicans intent on running the country into the ground…but tell me where hasn’t!
It is still a good place to live, and this book would be a great help in making up your mind whether it would be for you.

The book is available from Shannon’s own website

http://www.becominganexpat.com/%23!costa-rica/cxbx…

She tells me that Amazon have a wait of between 1 to 3 weeks….or by order from Barnes N’Nobles,and is also available in Kindle, Nook and iBook editions.

Hard Pounding

Jim Goldstein photography

One of the fixed tasks of the day is that of letting out the chickens and ducks, once egg laying duties have been performed, releasing the ducklings into their wired enclosure and opening the outer door of the sheep pen under the gaze of its ruminating occupants.

No problem here….it is dry and sunny, the water and food bowls can be cleaned out, fresh bedding laid, the ducks’ drinking water, full of wasted maize flour, fed to the tilapia and a return to the house for a cup of tea.

Another point of the day is far from fixed in the rainy season.
The point of feeding and banging up for the night all those enumerated above.

The sheep are no problem at all…..they will return to base bawling for food at a quarter to three on the dot as that is the hour when Danilo brings down swathes of sugar cane and camaroon – a tall red grass – and passes it all through the cane cutter.
On Sundays, Danilo’s day off, this is my job.

I am distinctly wary of that cane cutter….it sucks in sugar cane that seems as hard as bars of iron and spits it out in grated fashion into the trough.
Having no wish to turn myself into mince I switch it on, its roar echoing off the valley walls, and feed it the stems from a distance…being careful not to have any catching my hands or arms…and turn it off only when there is clear ground between me and it.

Rake the minced grass down the length of the trough, shut the outer door and leave the sheep feeding greedily.
Easy peasy.

Later I will return with a bucket of sliced bananas, at which point they will climb up me to get at the bucket while I’m trying to close the inner door and there will be an unseemly jostling for position around the two tubs during which I will make my escape.
With the sheep, you’re only the belle of the ball while you have the bananas.
When they have the bananas you are Cinderella at one minute past midnight.
I know people like this, but the sheep are less hypocritical about it.

So where is the problem?

More like what is the problem.

This is the rainy season. You can be reading on the balcony, the sun shining, soft breezes playing about you and then it will start.
The sky will begin to cloud over….this is when to put down your book and head for the feed supplies which you have laid down in the morning.

If you are lucky, you will return from the sheep pen just as the first drops start to fall and a curtain of cloud makes the valley invisible. You can hear the main force of the rain hitting the hill across the stream…just time to leg it to safety.
If not lucky, you will be imprisoned as a lightning bolt hits the field next door, thunder rolls overhead, and the rain does not just pour…it pounds down on the tin roof.

You can see it running down the drive in torrents…the drain from the house gutters filling the area between you and your base with water well over ankle height…

You can be an interested spectator as a gust sends coconuts flying from the tree onto the roof of the house, rousing the dogs to howling fury….

You can wonder if your husband has remembered to turn off the computer…

You can be assaulted by indignant sheep as the tubs are emptied of bananas…

The neighbour’s dog will sprint past you heading for your house….and, inevitably, the sofa. He resembles a drowned rat.

And that’s just the sheep.

The chickens will generally be hanging about if it is dark…they like to be inside and tucked up on their perches in less than clement conditions…but the ducks are something else.

First the ducklings.
You have left it as long as you could, hoping that the rain will stop, or at least become less intense…but the moment has come.
Up to the enclosure carrying food in one hand and bearing an umbrella in the other.
Ducklings object to umbrella and scoot round to the back of the enclosure under the passion flower vine in which you entangle your umbrella and roar expletives.
This attracts mother duck who has spent the day outside the enclosure and now wishes to return to protect her offspring – or, more likely, get more of the food than she would among the other adult ducks.
From the outside, she leads them round past the back of their house…where you cannot follow.
They sit, ten pairs of beady eyes watching you rave.
You go outside the enclosure and shoo them out of their lair with a stick rattled through the wire.
Mother attacks you….if you’re not wearing wellies you’ll have a purple mark for days as ducks have a sort of hook under the top part of the beak which gives rise to a sensation for which the word peck is totally inadequate.

Now for the ducks, most of whom are disporting themselves in the tilapia ponds among the flowering water hyacinths.
Down the steps, umbrella in hand, to find the spring at the bottom in full action and nothing but waterlogged ground between you and your prey.
You advance in a flanking movement to avoid the brutes legging it further down the garden and then doubling back up the hill through the rice.
You turn, you advance on them and get very wet as you use the umbrella as a sort of reverse bullfighter’s cape to encourage them to retreat from you up the steps while dashing forward to prevent the black one from making a jink to the side and disappearing into the papyrus.
From the papyrus no duck extraction is possible.

You get them up the steps…and find them huddled in the doorway of the duck house.
The broody has chosen this moment to manifest itself, leaving its nest to eat and, puffed up and hissing, is refusing to let any other duck pass her.
You leave the open umbrella in the gangway to prevent the ducks returning the way they came, seize the broody and cast her forth, while guiding the others in with your foot.
You shut the door.
You retrieve the umbrella.
The broody, furious, flies up to her nest above the door and voids her bowels.
Depending on your timing you are
A. Unscathed.
B. The umbrella gets it.
C. You do.

in any case you head for the shower.

So the race between yourself and the rain could be described as Wellington described Waterloo….
‘A damned nice thing – the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life’.

On a daily basis. For six months of the year.

Around the House

the road to the house
the road to the house
I did promise pictures in the comments on my last post, so here are a few which might give you some idea of the area around the house.
Clicking on the photograph to enlarge.

This, somewhat overgrown in the rainy season, is what you see as you enter the gates.
The cactus, called ‘tuna’ here, was the first thing which met our eyes when we first visited the finca…but then it stood alone on a bare slope above the house, solitary guardian of the property.
Things have changed somewhat since then.

A view from the front door
A view from the front door
This hasn’t though. From the porch we look across a neighbour’s land and the two large trees centre right are ‘higeron’….a parasite which starts from a seed being lodged in the bark of a tree and goes on to strangle and kill it, building itself into a massive tree around the dead body of its host.
In season these are full of parrots…small green ones…tearing the tiny fruit from the branches and making a din like a school outing on the helter skelter.

all mARCH 13 037 Moving to the left from the preceding photograph there is a ‘madera negra’ tree….here seen bare in its summer guise and harbouring a frequent morning caller….an iguana sunning itself in the top branches to give it the energy to start its day.
The tree is useful in supplying living posts for fences and buildings….push a small branch in the ground and it will root and sprout in no time at all which can give a bizarre air to small structures whose supports bear green leaves and flowers in season.

Fruit and veg corner
Fruit and veg corner
Onthe corner of the balcony a sprouting broccoli plant that stubbornly refuses to sprout anything but leaves sulks alongside the blue flowers of the climber and the tomato plant, with succulents and odds and ends planted out in milk cartons until they can take outdoor conditions. They don’t need to tell us to recycle…nothing gets thrown out here.

Any idea what these are?
Any idea what these are?
Though some pretty strange stuff comes in….these whoppers are grown from a seed given us by Don Melo who buys plantains from us….I’ve seen beans in my time but these take the biscuit…
They remind me of runner beans in appearance…but even when young the pod is very tough so no slicing and putting them down in salt, only the pink beans can be used. Having no broad beans here – they flower but do not set seed – I used them in a paella and the taste differed from that of a runner bean seed…more mealy but very nice indeed.

rainbow at sunrise
rainbow at sunrise
This is the only time I have seen a rainbow here, over the hills to the left. The early sun has risen over the top of the mountain behind us to light up the bare top of Grifo Alto, but it will be some minutes yet before the valley comes to life.
This is my view every morning – minus the rainbow – guaranteed to start the day on a note as high as the hills themselves.

The Green Season

Chinese cabbage and avocado...picked this morning from the garden
Chinese cabbage and avocado…picked this morning from the garden
The Green Season is what hoteliers and others in the tourist trade in Costa Rica call the rainy season – a phrase which does not have quite the same allure, conjuring up as it does the reality of life between May and November when the sunshine of morning is replaced with alarming swiftness by a lightning bolt, a peal of thunder fit for the worst excesses of Wagner and rain fit to soak you in seconds.

I have to admit to liking the rainy season….coming from the U.K. rain has no terrors for me and an afternoon on a balcony in the clouds is an ideal time to settle down to read the books I have ordered from Better World Books U.K. who not only supply used books in good condition at sensible prices but also devote the income to promoting literacy. You could do worse than give them a try.

Still it does mean I have to bustle about a little to make the most of the morning….the washing has to go out early and the veg has to come up in good time unless I fancy seeking out the watercress for the evening’s beef with a black plastic sack over the head and shoulders while Gotterdamerung plays out in the skies above.

I’m particularly pleased with this morning’s veg haul….not just the Chinese cabbage which defeated every attempt to grow it in France, but with the avocados.

Before we moved permanently to Costa Rica we used to come over to avoid the worst of a European winter and on our first visit my husband planted the stones from the avocados we were enjoying.
The fruit on the table are from the tree which sprang from one of those stones…so very much our own avocados.
They are a bit scabby….but they are ours. Untouched by chemicals. Unknown to Monsanto.

The table they are sitting on was made by my husband over forty years ago from an old wreck found in a house he was renovating, using Italian tiles left over from laying new floors.
It has traveled with him where other – ostensibly more valuable – furniture has been jettisoned and it is still in daily use for everything from butchering meat for the freezer to drinks at sundown.
It’s a bit bashed about..not in the first style of elegance…but it’s ours and it serves its purpose.

It’s a quiet life now that the courts have thrown out the proposed development further down the valley….except for collecting and collating the deeds we will need prior to the inspection of the water systems disrupted by the would-be developer’s henchman.

The said henchman has quietened down….still a would-be bully, but now cowed by the courts and by loss of face following a failed machete attack on a sturdy but unarmed gentleman which ended in loss of henchman’s machete and a rock through the windscreen of his van as he reversed from the scene of his humiliation.

Not that initiative does not rear its head….a chap appeared at the door last week trying to interest us in a contribution to laying hardcore on the road from the bridge down to his property (bought from the would-be developer) to benefit his new business.

What might be the nature of his business?

Massage parlours installed in log cabins. He was sure it would attract foreign tourists but no American would travel down the road in the state it was in at present…so, as it would benefit everyone on the road, would we like to contribute?

How would it benefit the neighbours?

We could set up a restaurant.

We declined with thanks.

Life, though pleasant, is not without its inconveniences…

For example, I would be delighted if we could sell the house in France and be free from the taxes and maintenance associated with it.

Much though I love France and the friends we have there, I dread to think what new schemes this or successive governments will dream up to extract blood from already squeezed stones.
I see today there are proposals to tax the use of computers, laptops and tablets the justification being that they access public broadcasting channels….
They might better spend their energies mending the finance ministry’s computer which blew a fuse last week and is not yet up and running again.

Until recently when you bought a television set in France the shop asked for your details and forwarded them to the appropriate official body who would put you on their list.
Therefore anyone with half a brain paid in cash and gave a false name and address.
Some shops winked at this…others demanded ID.

To counter this act of civil disobedience, measures provided that every house would be deemed to have a television set unless it could prove otherwise…
And the standard of proof is high.

If you have never declared ownership, you might get away with it but if you used to have one and then threw it in the bin in disgust at the moronic level of programming you are in trouble.
You can’t just dump a television. France being France you will need proof of disposal.

Burglary? Certificate from the gendarmerie.

Dumped? Certificate from the guardian of the dump.

Put it on the bonfire? Fine for pollution.

No such problem here. You put it out and it promptly disappears. No questions asked.

I know which system I prefer.

Some things are too good to keep to yourself….

We are building an extension which does not entail anything like the disruption to daily life experienced with the kitchen makeover, as it is, after all…an extension.
On the end of the house.
Away from me.
Dust is blown away into the garden…..
Nothing has had to be moved out to remain infuriatingly elusive for weeks….

The Men need feeding, true…but they do anyway.

We had planned to build a new house up in the cafetal and had gone so far as to have plans drawn up, install a septic tank and plant trees in readinesss…..and then we thought…
No.
The views are beautiful up there it is true and we would still be sheltered from the strong winds of December by the mountain behind but we’ve grown to love this little house and the garden we’ve made around it and, at our age, what on earth do we want with a whopping Italianate villa on two floors with a tower!

So…the extension.

The Men are at the stage of painting the inner walls and yesterday, having a number of things to do in town, went to buy more paint to match the wall they had started on, taking the paint lid with them as well as the mix number.
The young man in the shop set up his machine…and looked puzzled.

It’s not the same.

He called his boss who confirmed that it was not the same colour. The Men concurred.
My husband suggested that perhaps one of the nozzles was blocked.

No, no, I’ve done everything properly.

But we’ve started painting….

The boss intervened.

I’ll tell you what….I’ll give you double the paint in this colour for the price and then you can paint over what you’ve done and it will be all right.

Agreement was reached and, other errands accomplished the Men returned in the late afternoon to take coffee and discuss the next day’s programme.

There was the noise of a motorcycle engine and the Alsatian took off…he is not keen on anything disturbing his slumbers and a motorcycle rates at the top of his dislike list.
The engine stopped somewhere up the road and a voice was heard calling.

My husband went out to find the Alsatian sitting at the gates and the motorcyclist standing very still behind his machine. While actually a peaceful animal the dog has a certain way of sitting and looking that reminds one of the immovable object…and it was clear that the motorcyclist did not intend to be the irresistible force.

It was the young man from the shop. Cautiously he held out a small plastic wrapped packet.
It was paint, to add to the mix to get the proper colour. The boss had dismantled the machine and found that, indeed, one of the nozzles was blocked and this was the colour that should have come from it.

Just mix it in and you’ve got the paint you wanted.

My husband thanked him and went to get the money for the extra paint they had been given.

No! The boss said it was our fault….and he sent me out straight away in case you had started to use the paint.

Would the young man take a coffee…a beer?

No…he would not. He had to get back to work….and, once the gates were closed between him and the Alsatian, that is what he did, his motorcycle kicking up dust and stones on the road up the hill.

To me, this is something too good to keep to myself….that a shopkeeper is not only willing to get you out of a mess by giving extra materials…but also sends his shopman out with the pukka gear to get to you before you’ve started with the new stuff…..
Not just service…but thoughtfulness.

It wasn’t the only good thing that happened yesterday…..
There’s a new prosecutor at the Fiscalia….and he’s been getting to grips with his job.

My husband had been summoned to see him by telephone that morning and dropped in on his shopping trip…to find about half the inhabitants of the Three Valleys in the waiting area.

The new prosecutor had unearthed the files on the would be developer and his Mr. Fix-it…The Neighbour.

The people giving us all trouble with our water supply.

The new prosecutor wanted to know why all the complaints had been filed and parked in a cupboard.

From the noises coming from the offices it sounded as though these were not the only files parked out of sight and out of mind…….

From the noises coming from the offices it also seemed that the new Prosecutor was not very happy….

Secretaries came and went at the gallop…people were ushered in and out of offices at speed….my husband’s turn came.

Did he uphold his complaints ?

Yes, he did.

Sign here.

What will happen?

Well, the files won’t be going back into the cupboard….

So, a new judge up at the court and a new prosecutor at the Fiscalia……The Neighbour had better watch his step.

And the best of all…an improvement in my husband’s health.

He has been diagnosed with something enchantingly known as Miller Fisher/ CANOMAD…..which always has me thinking of Noel Coward singing ‘Mad Dogs and Englishmen….which is related to the better known syndrome Guillain-Barre.

What it means for him is that should he catch a ‘flu, his antibodies – instead of going for the intruder – go for the sheathing of his nerves, leaving him progressively paralysed.

And it’s a quick progression.

From a tingling in the hands and lips it can be complete paralysis and coma within  two hours. Treatment has to be fast and has to follow a particular cycle to avoid death or permanent damage to the nervous system.

Well, over the years, over many attacks, the treatment hasn’t always been fast enough and the cycle hasn’t always been respected.

There are many consequences, but one in particular has been that his blood pressure swings alarmingly from high to low and back again…migraines at one extreme, faintness at the other. It doesn’t make life fun.

We’ve always taken precautions against high blood pressure…I don’t use salt, I use as few prepared foods as possible….but it’s the swings which have proved insoluble.

Until recently.

He has been reading  up on blood pressure and discovered that it is controlled by three elements…the kidneys, the nervous system and sodium and potassium ‘pumps’.

Well, the kidneys are fine…but the nervous system is shot to bits…so he reckoned his potassium levels needed to be upped to compensate.

He bought a tub of salt substitute…potassium iodide and potassium chloride (I think)….sprinkled it on his food…and not only is his blood pressure stable but it is that of a young man.

With Mad Dog syndrome he could still drop dead tomorrow…..but in the meantime his quality of life has improved out of all measure!

That is certainly something too good to keep to myself!