Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Learning in the dark

So why would anybody want to buy a laptop? Well the power has gone off for the forth time today and there is not much you can do in a modern home, albeit one that is a hundred and sixty years old, at 21.45 without power on some sort. This wee beauty is all charged up now that I know not to leave it in sleep mode! Spooky backlit keyboard glowing in the darkness, life goes on. Power went off some days ago during the really cold spell, food was cooking and had five minutes before the potatoes would be ready, we just kept sipping our glass of wine and chatting to our guest who had even brought most of the food due to her guests stuck in snow. No panic, in the days of “T” I would have probably rushed around looking to find emergency light and make suredoors etc were closed to conserve heat. Sometimes now I think that I am too relaxed but when the car slides on ice it gets corrected without drama and heightened sense of urgency, I do not miss the “T” high alert mode at all. Days ago power was restored in less than an hour and we hardly noticed, this is starting to look more serious. On the positive side temperatures are not too low outside so the water pipes will not freeze if this goes on too long but it is no longer cold enough to keep the contents of the freezer cold. We once visited an old privately owned stone tower house using our name and it’s being the same as an excuse. The owners were very friendly and delighted to show us round, they said that if the heating went off it took eleven days before the walls stopped radiating stored heat but it also took eleven days to warm the place up! This house is not dissimilar with two foot thick stone walls and cold air circulating behind the plaster interior walls. I never thought I would end up living in a mseum piece like this house since I had been dreaming of building a functional modern house since I was running round the foundation trenches of the house my parents were building from the age of eighteen months till I was three. The house they built was single story because my father had lost a leg during the second world war and since most of the building stock had been damaged in the air raids there was little choice of suitable accommodation available. The house was the envy of all their friends and was much better than most I ever visited as a child but already I could see the faults I would not build into a house when my time came. I aproved of most of the plumbing being kept simple and direct to the outside, little chance of damaging the fabric of the building with a pipe freeze, no drain ever got blocked like it does with modern narrow plastic pipes. What really frustrated me most was the siting of the house central on the plot and fore-square to the road completely failing to utilise the sun. This house is exactly the same, positioned to not absorb any solar heat except on a blank gable wall and a little in the bathroom in the mornings! Victorians, often praised for their ingenuity and drive were a bunch of fools and not as good at building as their reputations would have you believe. We have to spend a large proportion on ever increasingly expensive energy to keep this place habitable when just turning the building ninety degrees to face a better view and moving it’s position by ten feet would have given a house with solar heated rooms for most of the hose and a fully utiisable garden. I would also have been able to sunbathe in the house without being overlooked and never had to suffer the winter SAD syndrome.

BPC, earlier today we were able to get the car out onto the road because of yesterday’s effort to drain away the melt water. This allowed us to visit broken arm girl who said she could not get up her driveway and therefore could not attend her hospital appointment to check out her bones and bone density. We arrived to find that she was not joking or just being over cautious, the drive made ours seem like nothing, this we could not even stand on because the dripping from an enormous tree had created a beautifully thick curved ice sheet. The only option I could see was to drive down then chip out tracks in the ice to allow us to drive out again. Getting a lot of exercise at the moment!

While the bones were being checked we headed for the cafe, hardly needed to have organised ipod and reading matter since this was the lace to be to met people! Three cousins stopped to chat, two visiting old friends incarcerated in the hospital and the other just in to negotiate an early retirement from the madness of the hospital, who will see to our skin defects now? His son inlaw works in emergency in another hospital where they have lost count of the broken bones due to the uncleared pathways and roads, would you stop keeping fire extinguishers just because there had not been a fire for awhile! Stopped off for messages (supplies to you) then returned broken arm home, In a year or two full function may return, take care out there. Gale has promised us only a short respite before more snow, perhaps this time it will be something I can use the cross country skis on.

Ideas for my exhibition at the end of may are setting now, it has to be portable enough to fit into our wee car for the thousand mile trip there and look good when up. I have not given up all hope of sales but it is an unknown market and anything which comes back will find a new use in the future. Really this is a vanity project which will liven up my wilting CV. As you may remember it is an interesting old chapel building in a village within sight of the Mediterranean and the show runs for three weeks from the end of May. When I have been asked what I am up to this is the most interesting thing I have planned for the year, the rest is house repairs, so I tell them about it and casually say that they can come to the opening if they want. Seems that quite a few want!

tI am not to sure why they want to come to this opening but I have had to phone my sister inlaw and give her the news that there are going to be ten of us flying, training or driving in for the event and a few days each side. Perhaps I have oversold this event or the draw of time in the south is a stronger draw, anyhow we have a house party of some of my closest family and friends. At this point I loose track of reality for a while and drift into a world of speculation, what if we are all enjoying ourselves at a beach party or having a celebratory meal back home with some of our French friends joining us, would this not be an ideal time to slip in a declaration of who and what I am while everyone is relaxed on the local produce, it is the countries' largest wine region! If we go to the beach I may have to confess anyway though I doubt many would want to come to my favourite beach where confessions should be unnecessary if they just use their eyes.

Two hours and the town is still in darkness. The hater of candles has given up and decided to go to bed, not a romantic bone in her body. It is a couple of hours early for me but before it gets cold I think I shall join her but take the iPod incase she starts to get noisy.

We survived, after a couple of hours of random music I paid a visit and between entering the bedroom and reaching the bed the led on the radio alarm came on. A quick walk about the house to switch off anything which had come on by it's self then went to see why the heating was not making any background noise, it took nearly two minutes to work out that I was in a cupboard with a torch and the power had gone off again! I know it came on again soon after four am because a friend was woken with her bed vibrating! She had been looking after the neighbours young kids and they had found something interesting to play with!

The world is grey dim and wet today but after nearly a month we can get out to the movies and it is cheap tuesday, even better so Avatar here we come at last.

Laptops are a bit quirky and this pages file did not want to open on the old imac not on snow leopard, any ideas why?




  1. Avatar in 3D is amazing!
    It would be an interesting trip if you take your friends to your favourite beach.
    I honestly would be to shy to go to a beach like that though LOL

    If I had the spare time and money I would love to come to your opening but I will be there in spirit.

    Glad the power is back on for you.

  2. When I first moved out here, my power used to go out all the time. You almost always had warning first. The lights would dim or flicker once, twice, three times, then all would go black. It appeared to be a substation breaker trying to automatically reset itself, but ultimately failing. The outages usually lasted no more than an hour or two, and often just for a few minutes, but you would still have to go around and reset all of the flashing LED digital timers in the house on VCR's, coffee pots, microwaves, etc. This was a near weekly occurrence. Apparently Central Virginia Electrical Cooperative has upgraded their equipment, because with the exception of lines downed by storms, the power has been pretty reliable for the past few years. It did go out one afternoon last winter, and after about four hours the house was getting cold and it was starting to get dark outside. The temperature was supposed to dip into the teens that night, and I was worried about freezing if the electric heat didn't come back on, so I went out to the shed schlepped a five gallon can of kerosene back into the house, and filled a large kerosene heater I bought a dozen years earlier, but never used. I let it sit for another fifteen minutes to make sure the wick was fully soaked, and was just about to light it, when the power came back on. The kerosene heater has been sitting in the front foyer ever since, filled with kerosene but never once lit. By the time I ever have to use it again, the wick will probably be so gummed up with oily residue, that it will smoke and stink up the house.

    I will patiently await your review of Avatar. I hear it is quite a spectacle.

    Melissa XX

  3. Sometimes, when the power goes off, isn't there a feeling of calm? Complete silence. Peace. Sounds you never noticed have gone away. Dinner by candlelight. Chatting with others in the room rather than watching the television. As Depeche Mode says...Enjoy the Silence. I guess I am just a hopeless romantic...

    A hopeless romantic, even with the T. I have written in my own blog that the very T I think has poisoned my body is probably what gives me the strength to fight my continuing battle not to transition. If it has calmed down your life, Caroline, all the better.

    Calie xxx


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