Sunday, 29 September 2013

Modena and more: Verdi country.

The visit to Modena was lovely.  When we arrived we parked near the old ducal gardens where lots of ducks and other birds fished for dinner, in a very grotty pond which needeid a good clean. In particular I wanted to see the Duomo. On my previous visit, when I arrived at the piazza adjacent, there was a philosophy conference there in the open air, with proceedings broadcast by loudspeakers. It was not possible to enter the Duomo as a wedding was in progress, but I did manage to find the art gallery.

This is the area where red marble lions sit outside cathedrals. I love them.

Yesterday, when we arrived in Modena, another wedding had just taken place, and the happy couple and their family and friends were outside cheering and blowing horns and shaking rattles.

The Duomo is superb. Superlative. Absolutely beautiful in its architecture, art, complexity, my Blue Guide describes it as a splendid Romanesque building, combining red brick with red marble, and there is so much in its art, architecture, sculpture to see that I cannot begin to describe it today, and can only say it made my heart bound with joy. We were not able to see the art gallery as restorations following the earthquake are still being done.

This afternoon we visited Cremona, where we had a long lunch, waiting for the Duomo to reopen, during which we talked to a pianist, here with her pianist/composer husband for musical gatherings and concerts. Afterwards the Duomo opened and during our visit there was an ordination ceremony of deacons, with choir, organ and trumpets, all glorious, and the duomo is absolutely spectacular.  A different kind of beauty and splendour from those of the more famous cathedrals.

As well as all these wonders we have spent time in Verdi country. We visited the house and estate, Sant'Agata, which was most interesting and very moving. Verdi could be a difficult person, but from the tours, the talks given by the guides, the house, the furnishings, the grounds and the land, and from the theatre and museum in Busseto, I feel I have a greater understanding of, and sympathy for this remarkable man whose music has given so much pleasure, joy and emotion to the world. To see his death mask, to read the newspaper reports of his death and to undersatnd how greatly he was - and is- revered, has been a great and emotional experiece for us.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

The day is cloudy. So was yesterday morning but the sun did come out, and it was a pleasant warm day. We drove to Modena. John drives more often than Nora, and she navigatios. The car has a GPS called Lucy, but the directions are not always clear, and there is a lot of answeing back from both driver and navigator. In my back seat, I spurn the traditional role, and keep quiet, offering no opinions. At all. The autostrade are daunting enough, and the roundabouts terrifying. But then, I am a sook about driving in unfamiliar territory, not the least bit intrepid.

We found Modena. The only map we had was in my guide book and it was rather small. However we found our way, through various streets where there were a lot of works of various  sorts going on, some extremely deep. And there were some rather unpleasant odours.  We parked the car outside the military academy, from which later, by dint of peering through the bars atop the severe walls, soldiers in training running round and round while doing the military sing song chant. 

The leaves are changing colour, and the trees are all large and beautiful. Some I cannot identify, but future research will help. I find that many other travellers do not share my interest in the vegeation.

On my previous trip to Modena, there was an outdoors philosophy conference taking place  - have to finish this later, Nora has knocked on door, departure is imminent. We are off to Verdi's home at Sant'Agata,

Thursday, 26 September 2013

It is lovely sunny morning, and I am sitting here enjoying the weather, having done the handwashing and put it out to dry.

It bodes to be a quiet day as all three of us have been smitten by a bug - not very severe or painful, but it is clearly inadvisable to gad around for the day.

Yesterday we went by car to Busseto,  which was very pleasant, and as all three of us love opera, it was  very special. We spent some time in a bar, having not realised it did not serve coffee, only wine, and bread and prosciutto. So we sat and talked, enjoying the music of Verdi, and watched the nearby men sit  and talk. We had a quick whizz around the house of Antonio Barezzi, Verdi's benefactor and father in law,  and admired the piazza and the Teatro Verdi.

When we first drove into Busseto, looking to see what was where, and drove mback out so as to drive back in again to have another tr, we were fmollowed by a man in a red car, who must have helped many other appassionati, and he gave us nice clear directions. To be where Verdi's talent was fostered was very special to all three of us.

We then drove to Fidenza but could not manage to find the duomo, so abandoned the attempt, we drjove to Salsomag,giore instead, which looksg very prosperous. I have stayed there when on a group tour, but could not remember much about it, other than it is a good place to have a sporting holiday, and has a most grandiose art deco building which houses thermal springs. After that we returned  to base, where we developed our various afflictions. It will be a quiet day. We seem to be a long way from the station.

Reggio is not a touristy town, it is very flat, like the adjoining terrain, and many people of all ages travel around by bicycle. John and I set off to find a shop where we could buy insecticide, but the supermarkets are quite some distance away . We tried a petrol station, but to no avail.

The three of us have been smitten by a gastric  bug and we cannot work out just what we did to allow said bug entry to our systems, so today will be quiet, with little venturing out. So apart from reading and admiring and evaluating the photos, and avoiding the mozzies, little will be achieved.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

With friends

Arezzo. Off the train, looking for my friends. I wait. Am I waiting in the wrong place? What. Did we agree? After a while we find each other. There had been an accident on the road.  We squeeze my suitcase into their car, and set off for an all day jaunt. It is so good to see them. We talk and talk, and never run out of things to say.

First we stopped at Poppi, a lovely small town, where we found an open air cafe and had coffee and panini. I'd had to get to the station before breakfast. We next visited Anghiari, and after that it seemed a good idea to head for San Leo,  quite a distance away, through winding roads that go through the mountains. The weather is warm and sunny, and the scenery beautiful. Traffic was very light. We stopped to take photos often. We overlooked a dam, which seemed to have, at each end, a road atop of high pylons which ended in the dam. We'll probably never know the how or the why.

Suddenly, after driving for a long way with scarcely another car to be seen, many more cars were on the road, and then we came across car after car parked on the roadside. The explanation was that in the middle of nowhere, there was a sale/demonstration of agricultural machinery. With stalls selling onions, garlic, figs. It was absolutely crowded.

We pressed on, and after tantalising views of San Leo, perched high on a precipitous rocky peak, which seemed still to be a long way off, we went around a few more exciting bends in the road, and we were there. It seems that every hill or mountain peak had to have a fortified castle on the top. Thinking about the lugging of all the materials needed for construction, these fortications and castles seem incredible. But San Leo even had quite a large car park.

After a gelato apiece and a wander around, except that the ascent to the castello was too daunting,we commenced the drive to Reggio Emilia, where we are spending a week, using it as a base to visit other cities nearby. We got onto the autostrada, but were delayed quite some time by an accident far ahead. Once past that, getting off the autostrada and finding the way to our destination proved rather tricky. The GPS instructions are not really clear and it was dark by this time. But here we are,settled into our apartments, and today we walked into thecity centre, where we had awonderful lunch, to celebrate the 37th anniversary of John and Nora's wedding. 

 I am a great believer in asking people for help, and so asked a young woman to direct us to asupermarket where we could buy food, and also asked could she tell us of a good rkestaurant where we could celebrate the wedding anniversary. She did both, we found the restaurant and despite having bo booking, wewere given a table. I told them of the anniversary, and we had a wonderful meal, which finished with specially decorated desserts for my friends, inscribed in chocolate with "auguri".

Staggering off to the supermarket to buy groceries could have seemed an anticlimax, but we had agood time talking to the young woman in the delicatessen section. We staggered back to the apartments and will soon reassemble for pasta with pesto.

 It is good to have more room and a couch, as well as a small balcony where we could put our washing out to dry. The exigencies of life ! Now to plan the next day.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Leaving Florence

On the train to Arezzo, to meet my friends, we are travelling through the city and are arriving  at Campo di Marte. It seems that  arranging to travel early was a good idea as there is yet another bicycle on today.

I fell into a panic as I could not find a couple of money cards or the cash  I withdrew yesterday, nor the credit card, which fortunately was discovered  in time to pay the hotel. These stupid panics.

It is a sunny day, a little misty, with somelos cloud., and the countryside is hilly. There are orchards, olives,greenhouses and the river! And buildings on top of hills. Colours are just starting to turn golden, just that hint of change, and the morning light is lovely. Most of the passengers from Forences have left the train by now, which is just pullimg out of Rignano.

The next  stop was Incisa and there I saw my first glimpse of the moon, now waning. There was no opportunity to see the full moon, which  makes me feel deprived.

At Arezzo my friends will be waiting to meet me - so good and kind, so thoughtful and reliable. I bet they never misplace their credit cards or money. We are then driving to Reggio Emilia to stay at apartments for a week, and will use it as a base to explore the many lovely cities in the vicinity.
I anticipate we will have a delightful time together, as well as improving our Italian.

Yesterday I went by bus to Fiesole, and enjoyed the countryside, the views, the Roman amphitheatre and museum,and even the rather muddy Etruscan tomb, the church and  little art gallery, and the people. On my return i decided to wander over to Santa Croce, but found myself at a corner  at a part of the route through the city of the bicycle race, with many keen spectators lining the route, a man in  a red t-shirt and a whistle directing things so that no one was allowed to  cross at the few places where there was a break in the barriers. Having stopped for a look it became apparent that the helicopters which had been noisily flying over the city were there because of these international trials. I foung myself standing next to a family and their friends and their accents revealed they were Australians, so we fell into conversation. The man, Darren, was one of these mad keen cyclists, and  this race/trial/whatever was one of the reasons for their trip. He explained  lots of salient things about the race,so that now all these bicycles flashing past have more meaning for me. Travel does broaden the mind, it seems, even for subjects which, prima facie, suggest you would die of boredom.

 As this train trip progresses, I am calming down, and enjoying the scenery, although if the windows were cleaner I could take better photos through them.

And I am most grateful for the comment about south instead of north. Should have realised, but didn't. Che stupidone.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Sunday in Florence

Over breakfast this morning, after a wakeful night, I ponder the day. Generally i make it up as I go along. Like I did yesterday. It had been my intention to go by bus to Fiesole, but it never happened, so perhaps today. Yesterday was a wandering day. Tkhe queues for galleries are very long, but in the late afternoon, after completing the  appointed tasks, I found myself near the Pitti Palace, and as the queue was not too daunting, got inside without much delay.

 What a wonderful place it is. I did not go to the Boboli Gardens , or other parts, only to the Palatine,, to see the painting. There are so many, up and down the walls, and not all the labels are easily legible, but the staff in the rooms know a lot about the paintings and the history of Florence and the Medici, and are happy to communicate.

 Also on the agenda was the Medici Riccardi? Chapel with the frescoes  of the procession of the magi by Bennnozzo Gozzoli and  I always go back for another look. 
While in the Oltrarno I looked at the pietra dura workshop/shop in via Guicciardini and had a lovely long conversation with the woman there.  Such exquisitely beautiful, precise and detailed decorative work. Having just visited the Pitti Palace, and seen those fabulously decorated tables, I was afire with enthusiasm.
 But it is time to set out for the day. A piu tardi.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

At the end of the day

They say travel broadens the mind, and so far so good. The aching feet don't fare as well. And my shoes are probably wearing out rather quickly. All in a good cause, say I.

This rather lovely little hotel, despite its antiquated keys, which have minds of their own, has a table full of possiblilities for tourists. There was a leaflet advertising an exhibition at Prato of the work of Fra Filippo Lippi, at the newly re-opened Prato museum di Palazzo Pretorio,, which has been closed for more than 16 years for restoration Prato is not far from Florence, so I went by train.
First you buy your ticket. The queues are extremely long and most tickets are bought from vending machines. I tried one but it would not accept cash. Then i recalled that someone said you could buy train and bus tickeys from Tabbacchi stands, and lo and behold, this worked, and the queue moved quickly.
 The brochure said you could go by  one or other station, one being 12 km from the gallery, and the other a mere 500 metres. I chose the Prato Centrale option, but this meant I had to take a bus. Then i fell into conversation with an older woman who lived somewhere in the countryside, and a younger eoman who owns a dress shop in Prato. What with their help, I got onto the bus, ehich was packed like sardines, and the young woman got off at the same stop and showed me where to go.

It was a lovely exhibition. Fra Filippo Lippi has always been one of my fabourite painters.  Not only were the paintings described,but they were accompanied by poems by a modern writer, of children's books, I think, very expressive and whimsical. He even suggested that the Chinese must have been in Italy as the Baby Jesus looked Chinese, but I think he was quite wrong there.

After seeing the exhibition I set off to find the bus stop. I couldn't. Eventually i found a woman in a bookshop, who at first declred she was not from Prato, but, suddenlt smitten by a bright light, told me to go straight ahead to the Duomo (cathedral) and turn right, and there would be the other station. So i did, and so it was.
 After that I tramped around browsing generally for some time, before returning rather late  and  and  wondering where to go for dinner. The man at the desk made a reservation for me so i set off. It seemed to be quite a distance. My hotel is not in the main tourist areas. Then I encountered a family withou map even more lost than I was. And my map has such small print it was very difficult to read.. Eventually I sent them on their possibly erroneous way, and then found the restaurant.

One of the things I dislike about travelling on my own is having to eat by myself. However last night another couple sat at the next table and they turned out to be Australian, so we chatted happily togethet. Tonight's lost couple were also Australians. (We are everywhere.) Then an American couple sat at the adjoing table. (Tables are placed very close together.) So again I had pleasant company for dinner, which was good as being by yourself at meal times is not easy.

Tomorrow I might indulge in more cultural pursuits, although never let it be said that I failed to enter any church I pass by.

It is late. The iPad needs charging and so do I. The American woman gave me some helpul hints about the iPad, and in return I demonstrated the advantages of the offline Italian dictionaries. Tutto uguale!

Friday, 20 September 2013

On the train

This lovely smooth train, the Freccia argento is taking me toFlorence, and it just went through a tunnel, so my ears blocked. Thecountryside is lovely to see.the route goes through fiumicino , the airport site and until then the train goes past innumerable blocks of apartments, about 8 stories high. There seems to be a link to the insulae of ancient Rome, in which the ordinary people lived.
Before long we will pass Orvieto, which sits high on a hill of tufa - a stunning sight, and a beautiful city. It would be pleasant to visit it again, but impossible to fulfill all one's wishes.
I am feeling under par. A cold and I are struggling and neither of us is winning. And last night, I felt faint, sat down and then fainted anf fell, hitting my head. It bled a lot. Head wounds do. And the frames of my glasses were badlybent, so  I had to go Termini to get them straightened as much as possible, but they are uncomfortable and will have  to be replaced when I get home.

Yesterday afternoon I went to a TIM shop to buy a sim card for the iPad, and the man who served me did not explain that to access the  internet, a PIN had to be used. Nor did he give me the card containing the PIN, so that once closed, the internet stayed closed, and the entire iPad was frozen. To rectify this I had to go to another TIM shop, but because (they said) all the shops are separate, they would not rectify it and thus I have had to buy it all over again. Grrr.

Thus I need to pull myself together.

The first part of the day went well, with a visit to Villa Torlonia, where Mussolini and family used to live. Having checked the route i caught two buses, and asked various  people where the bus stops were, etc, it turned out there was a simpler route, but had I taken it I would not have met this nice  grandmother pushing her little grandaugher along. She was actally Polish, and left during the struggles for democracy, married an Italian and stayed here. These casual conversations are most enjoyable.

The area of Villa Torlonia is lovely. Obviously prosperous, with large houses and gardens and lovely tall trees. I heard one guide explain to her group that despite Rome's size and industry, etc, it remains remarkably unpolluted, because there is so much greenery, parks, gardens, etc. In the same large park, close to the Villa Torlonia, is the Casa delle Civette,a smallish house with much decorative stained glass.  And nearby there was an annexe with an exhibition of violins, all painted and decorated.

The last building, la Casa del Principe, had a sculpture exhibition, mainly of animals, glazed and fired in highly decorative colours.  I think his name was Biagini.

I arrived safely in Florence, and two men helped get my suitcase off the train. I took a taxi to the hotel, and the room, although they told me it was their smallest, is larger than the room in Rome. After siting about recovering from the train (!) I  went out. My son happened to suggest Face Time, so we had a lovely long chat, although he agreed with my lack of a sense of direction, and seemed perplexed that I could not work out Florence' s orienation, but  I will try and have it worked out by tomorrow. I then sent out and explored how to get anywhere, and managed to go to wherever and back without problems. I have been here before but not in this neck of the woods.

The city is packed and you  hear a lot of American accents. There also seem to me to be many more Asians, and I noticed this in Rome too, and Italy is like many other countries changing a lot. Italy gets huge numbers of refugees.

After all this excitement  I kwill relax tonight, and think about shat to do tomorrow. A domani.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

 Resting my feet, and waiting for the sore back to subside, the iPad and i meet for the day. I swear that it invents 90 per cent of the typos .

 Today I went to the montemartinipart of the capitoline museums,  please excuse the two words run together, it did it, i certainly did not. Perhaps i should stop and go intorno settings, to see of i can turn off predictive  text especially  in italian. I just found the check spelling option, so here is hoping. Honestly, i type it, i check it and change it and a minute later it sneakily does it again. And they say that machines save time and effort, but bring back the penny post is what the outraged historian in me is shrieking.

It took a while for the desk staff to help me discover how to get to Montemartini. It is the old power station, and you can read all about it at

When they dug up the termini area to build Termini station, which is vast, they discovered an enormous number of old roman statues, artifacts, and objects, and years after the power station was decommissioned, it was decided to use it as a museum. So there they are, all these remarkable statues, some quite gigantic, distribute amongst the old machinery. The contrast is stunning, and made me ponder human achievements and inventiveness. When i arrived there were only a few people ther and others dribbled in, but it was very quiet, although an attendant trailed around keeping a beady eye on us. A French man asked me to take his photo beside an enormous head, so i obliged, and he took a couple of me. If i had packed the camera connections I could load them, but never mind.

 Inspired by this success and the proximity of the Basilica of St Paul, i hopped on the train again and found the basilica. It is vast. My sister and I saw it on my first trip.  I look at these buildings and wonder how on earth they managed to build them. With such huge blocks of marble and granite, and I wonder how many were injured and died.

On to less cultural matters.
Last night the hotel staff member helped me buy my train ticket to florence. The  queues and the machines and how to insert the credit card were too daunting for me.
Last. Night i had takeaway pizza for dinner, but it was. Not very nice so I shall
 venture out again tonight, I thought about buying some wine, but here the bottles still use corks and have no corkscrew. So that put paid to that idea.

 I have had a little rest. Out I go.

But I must marvel at the train system. They arrive every few minutes, they are fast, and I ask how it is that we don't. Have such a system. Why does James Packer build a $50 million house, and want to build another - ANOTHER casino. Why does he not build a railway system and have it named after himself, then we could say we could all be Packerd in!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Aching feet and no one would hire me as a guide

Alas, the hotel room is not very comfortable, and certainly no cats could be swung in it. The room is very narrow, the tv is on top of the wardrobe, and there is no armchair, the bed is narrow. I hope sleep comes easily as I need a lot of it.

As the museums I want to visit were closed today, and set off to explore the Aventino. I took the metro, noticing after the first station that i was travelling in the wrong direction, got off, chaned trains and got it right, and having emerged, tried to orient myself. Naturally I headed in the opposite direction. Both my maps  finished just at the point where I needed them, but I can get lost, map or no map. Eventually (after a few minutes) I realised that it was actually rather simple. St. Peter's was visible up one end and that made me realise which way was up, so to speak. I walked up to Santa Sabrina  and to the knights of Malta, famous for their keyhole through which the dome of st peter'S is perfectly framed. Hordes of tourists lined up to take a photo, but for such lesser mortal and our cameras it just did not work.. My photos reveal only what was right in front of it and nothing at all from the other side.

 Retracing my steps, I went to s Maria in comedian, aka  as la Boccaccio della veritable. Many people queued up to out their hands in the mouth, and there was a man who obligingly and most likely profitably, took everyone' s photos. A sign said there would be only one photo per person, but this was honoured in the breach, and in fact, he took three if me.

I love looking at such very old places, especially churches, and those in Rome have been such an important part of our history, both good and bad, and our achievements, I love the stones, the marbles used, the wonderful   mosaics, the inlaid stones, and, especially with the really ancient churches, the simplicity.

The camera was worked so hard that by the end of the day, the battery was exhausted. I photograph street signs and other indications of place, so that after my return, so that it won't all be one big blur, it will be possible to work out what is in the photos.

I walked  along the Tiber  for a while, crossing the river to view the Ponte Rotto and the isola Tiberino, which I love, bought water and a gelato in , and set off again, having in fact gone in a big loop. This way I could tell where I was, and the I managed to find Piramide, which is covered in scaffolding and is in restauro. The, despite waking around the block instead of the other way, I succeeded in finding the cimiterio acattolico, and wandered around it for a while, to see Keats'  and Shelley's tombs. The cemetery is run by volunteers, and I noticed a new grave of a woman from,  I think, New Zealand. Next door, in some old ruin, there are quite a number  of stray cats, Who look actually quite healthy and well fed, and  it seems  that some people, mostly women, feed them, and they come inside  the cemetery, and loll about looking  prosperous  and as though  they own the place. There seem to have been  mosquitos  there is a bite  on
my heel.

This iPad thinks  it is writing  in italian and i don't know nto c,hange it over so here this post endeth.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Sore feet already but marching on

Here I am in Rome already feeling weary and with sore feet. The flights seemed interminable although the transit proved a bit of a battle, with so many passengers to get through security. And the airline was not wonderful, blinds pulled down and lights turned off hours before sunset.  I did almost finish a book. However, as usual it was impossible to get comfortable, and it gets very tedious.
The man in the seat beside me on the second flight was pleasant and interesting. It was an early arrival and as we approached the airport it became cloudy. A pity.

The hotel I am in is in a different part of Rome - not far away but I have had to reorient myself and I am not known for an infallible sense of direction. Proceed with not only caution but with dollops of confusion. I have revisited a few places and this afternoon went to the Palazzo Massimo, which is fabulous. The statues, mosaics, and frescoes are stupendous. I was very taken by a couple with a little  girl of 3 , and they were showing her all sorts of things to notice about the sculptures. They permitted me to take a photo of them.

Packing takes me ages, putting things in and taking them out again, and so on and so forth. I left the umbrella  behind so naturally today it rained, I got quite wet, but resisted all the pedlars.  Museums are good places to go when it rains.

We tourists are everywhere, out in our hordes, being importuned by most and sundry. I have not yet had resort to buying bus tickets, but it is on the agenda, as there are places not within walking distance. Today I popped in to Santa Maria della Vittoria, to see Bernini's St Teresa in Ecstasy and then to Santa Maria degli Angeli, to view the meridian line again, as well as the rest of it.  As well as revisiting places I intend to see other places, and just wander around generally,
the Aventino and Testaccio.
I hope I soon get day and night sorted out.  But onwards, regardless. I am doing this on the iPad, which does not think quite the way I do, and it thinks it knows better. Sometimes it does...

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Goodbye to all that - for the time being.

This could be the last post for some time. On Friday I leave for a month's holiday in Italy. Notwithstanding the last minute packing decisions and the long list of things that must be done before departure, I anticipate having a very good time. Just as well.

Of course, there has been an election here, and a convincing result for those I do not vote for. Alas and woe.

My local member was returned. She is excellent. I handed out how to vote cards on her behalf, and am happy to say that no one was rude, or horrible. I do like election days. It seems to me that they are quite festive occasions, in which, by virtue of our system of compulsory voting, everyone comes out to vote. On election day we celebrate our democratic system. And so we should. We are indeed a lucky country, although I cannot look forward to the in-coming government's agenda.

The Murdoch press has been incredible hostile and unfair to the government,  with biased and unfair reporting, and distortion of issues. Many of the radio shock jocks have distorted the reality, in a way that seems to me to be deliberately corrupt. I do not know how such press power can be countered, let alone controlled. Money talks. I suppose that one cannot expect better from the type of journalism that hacked mobile phones and created false realities. There is little right of reply or capacity to correct factual inaccuracies and distortions. And blatant bias.

In between checking the papers and awaiting the latest election statistics, I work at my packing. I overpack. I consider the contingenices. and the what ifs. Then I consider the weight of the suitcase, and the number of occasions I will have to lug my suitcase up and down and in and out of railways stations.

The what-ifs are winning. The issue of which shoes to take vexes me somewhat. And should I take an umbrella? And which books, and how many? And will I be ready to catch the plane?

In between all of these dilemmas, all of which involve the minutiae of life, I have been to a podiatrist to do as much as possible for my aching and painful feet, which need all the help they can get.

There is another day, and then a morning in which to get everything done.  I hope that I will be sufficiently competent to use the new iPad effectively. At present I keep finding myself rather confused and unable to take away the number I first thought of.

Keep calm and carry on.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Never believe a word they say..

What a day! So domestic. As I had to hang around waiting for the technician, it seemed that a good way to pass the time was to do quite a lot of (hitherto neglected) housework. I washed the floors, cleaned the bathrooms, vacuumed all the carpets, in all three levels, did things in the garden, put out the rubbish, etcetera etcetera. I waited and I waited. (The styles changed three times while I waited.)

By 4 pm I was getting rather anxious. Then a text message arrived to say that the lines were clear and to cancel the diverting of calls. As there had been no sign of a technician, and no calls diversion had been arranged, I popped outside to see what I could see. There was a technician, but all he was doing was checking the lines, which he said were working. But what about my non-working telephone, and the T Hub, I asked? He knew nothing of this, it was not his job, but he obligingly came into the house and had a squizz. He concluded (as I had) that they did not work: the power was working, but the telephone and its near relatives were defunct, kaput, indeed an unendearing form of still life.

Sigh. Now I have to ring The Philippines again and go through the whole story again. Omi..

The technique must be decided. More in sorrow than in anger? Righteous indignation? Solitary little old lady? Outraged customer? Who knows! Perhaps all of the above.

It is a nuisance. Today was a free day, tomorrow is not. Nor is Thursday. Or Friday.

While all of this was not happening, having exhausted myself vacuuming with a tiny pull-along machine, which made my back ache like billy-oh, a friend called around.  We had a cup of tea and a deep and meaningful conversation about technology, husbands, the vicissitudes of life, and Italian dictionaries, and the mysteries, vagaries and delights of iPads. She had come around to help me with my new iPad, but we had plenty of other things to discuss.

Then there was another knock at the door. Surely it could not be the technician for the T Hub and the telephone? Alas, it was not. Instead, it was a pleasant surprise: a friend and former colleague from Canberra. He used to do the statistics for me. He wound up staying, and we went out for a good fish dinner nearby. Then we watched an interview with Clive James, which was excellent. He set out for Canberra and, having attended to the re-charging needs of my devices, I sat down to do my Italian for tomorrow's class. This is what I started yesterday until my biro expired.

It is finished now, or as finished as possible until Barbara, our teacher,  does all the corrections at the class. We always have lots of mistakes which need to be corrected. But even if it is only Italian rather than technical problems, I live in hope.

Monday, 2 September 2013

The terrible horrible no good very bad day

No, it was not quite as bad as all that - it is just that the title of a book which I used to read to my children popped into my head as I wrestled with this and that. Nothing very serious. Except that there is something about dealing with technical issues which can make me want to jump off the nearest skyscraper.

The telephone and its appendage have not been working, and sent me messages on its handy little screen telling me that things were not right. So I did a bit of a fiddle, and tested this and that, and neither worked. Right, I thought, I will go down to the shop and tell them that these things which I bought only a few months ago, need to be replaced.

Oh no, they don't do things like replace equipment. They just sell stuff. I had to ring Technical Support, and talk to someone far far away with an accent difficult to understand, talking about things equally  incomprehensible. I sulked off home, and tried the one telephone in the house that inexplicably worked, but somehow or other, the person on the other end of the phone lost the connection and failed to ring back.  This meant I had to try again, and not give way to the full gamut of fragility. And technical woes make me want to scream and rant. And I did a bit of that, too.

Eventually I got through to a person who has organised for a technician to come tomorrow and check both inside and outside. I live in hope. All of this took two hours, during which I could have done things which were far more pleasant and interesting.

Why is it that technical hassles are so stressful? They make me weep and rant. These are not logical reactions, although understandable. They seem to represent aspects of life which are out of our control but which purport to be essential, significant, and an everyday part of life. Do the problems make us feel abnormal? I suspect in my case this is so. This evening I still feel quite wiped out by it all. I could burst into tears again at any minute.

 Most of the rest of the day was spent getting myself to the specialist and having my annual check for breast cancer. All is fine. The most stressful thing was to find a parking spot and then to discover how little change I had.  In fact the meter had expired 15 minutes before I got back to the car. Atleast I did not get a parking ticket. Expecting the long wait, I took lots of things to do. The iPad, and the book about the iPad. Some crochet. And pen and paper, to start preparing for the Italian class on Wednesday - it being my turn to write something. Now usually I travel equipped with several pens, but this time with only one. The pen ran out. This was most aggravating, as I was on a compositional roll. Now I have writer's block.

Generally with these check ups you get sent off for a mammogram, but the receptionist did not check this with me, or give me a form. After about half an hour I asked about it. Oh yes, she said. Then she found the form! Sometimes I am too accommodating! I am lucky in that generally I find the mammograms are not painful - just somewhat uncomfortable. An hour and a half after the appointment time I saw the specialist. All is well. It is 15 years since my surgery and treatment, so I have been fortunate. The disease killed my mother. What with two generations of breast cancer, I hope that my daughters start getting themselves checked.

The rest of the day I have been creeping around emotionally. Some wine, and pesto and pasta for dinner. And then watching the Prime Minister and a studio audience. The election is this coming Saturday. It bodes ill, I think.

I have just finished the edging of yet another wrap, so at least there has been something achieved today.