Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Mellow fruitfulness

The equinox is past, autumn is here, the leaves are starting to change colours. There has been an eclipse of the sun in the northern hemisphere, and we in the south have seen amazing photographs. I nearly wrote down south, but why is the south considered to be down, rather than up? Is there some reason apart from northern mindsets?

The culling of my books has slowed down. I have managed to weed some light fiction. But not the Flashman novels, which are entertaining with their alternative and cynical interpretation of political events of the 19th century. The Barbara Trapido novels are going, as they now seem to be seriously dated. And the science fiction collection has been reduced.

Apart from such mundane aspects of life, I am considering getting a cat, or rather a kitten, if I can manage to find a source of kittens. A Burmese is my preferred choice, but all the breeders seem to be located in Far Outer Woop Woop, and getting hither and thither is a daunting prospect. I can get very lost very easily.

I have made two batches of quince jelly and, perhaps foolishly, have bought more quinces for a third batch. I ran out of jars, so had to buy more. Even as I type, the quinces are simmering. Making jam is a most absorbing process, what with sterilising the jars, making sure the sugar dissolves before the mixture boils, and watching out for the setting point. I wish I had a source of cumquats, to make cumquat marmalade.  Surely somewhere there is someone who will donate their cumquats to a good home?

In between times I produce crocheted squares and am now arranging them in what I hope is the best possible design. There will be a lot of ends of wool to darn in. This is a tedious process. But it must be done.

Monday, 9 March 2015

What can be shown?

Tonight I watched the ABC programme QandA, which dealt with feminism. It left me somewhat bemused. The mix of panelists seemed designed to provoke, and to enable the discussion to lurch all over the place. Lots of good things were said, But with such a format, it simply is not possible to discuss most issues in any depth.

Julie Bishop, Foreign Minister and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, was very good. Germaine Greer was herself, playing to the audience, and to her own self image. She still makes a lot of sense, despite a tendency to try to be a bit outrageous. The other panelists were varied and interesting, and the audience, both physically present and off line, rampaged through most of the possible permutations, some good, some bad and others fair to middling. Which is what you might expect really.

The audience was interesting. It was predominantly female. As the camera panned around, I looked at them. Hairstyles varied, some quite tizzied up. Makeup, lipstick, some plunging necklines. Quite different from a male audience, with suits and ties, etc. The females conformed to many of the stereotypes, and to the expectation to present themselves predominantly as sexual objects.

The preceding programme was about a doctor, a good man, a Muslim. He wore ordinary western clothes. But the females in his family, wife and daughter, wore head scarves. I find head scarves and veils very confronting and objectionable. It seems to me that it is truly inconsistent with equality of women and men, to insist on covering female parts - such as hair, head and most of the body, while the men can get about showing their fine hairy chests, and their faces and heads, without being covered. It makes me very upset to see such evidence of inequality.

Suddenly I recall scenes from my youth, being at a ball, wearing a scooped, (but not low) neckline and being chided not to lean forward, in case my breasts became visible to other people. The male in my life said that those breasts were his, and should not be glimpsed by other males. I was too silly to tell him that the breasts were not his, but mine.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Plumbing the depths - or at least the middle of the house

For the past year there has been a leak in the bathroom, which has had me frantically worried and petrified. It seemed likely that very expensive repairs would be necessary, and that, like getting my rotting dining room floor replaced, it would take months. And I could not face it, or decide what to do.

Eventually I looked at the house plans, at my local council. They were no use whatsoever. They showed the layout of the house and the discussions between the owner, the house next door and the council. No plumbing, wiring or fittings. Nothing useful, but least I discovered when the house was built, only about 25 years ago.

Last Tuesday, while I was outside, on my balcony, idly watching men repairing the road - a frequent event in this area - one of the workers  told me there was someone knocking at my door. So there was. It was a plumber, with no work that morning, who was using his spare time to distribute his card.  I told him I did have a plumbing problem. He said he could do some tests, make a diagnosis and give me a quote for repairs. What the hell, I said to myself, I can't go on like this, fearing the worst and not doing anything. Right, I said to him, have a go!

He ran various tests, turning on each bathroom tap in turn, while I trembled below, fearing an imminent collapse of the dining room ceiling. He ascertained that the bath was the problem.The next step was to cut a hole in the ceiling of the dining room. My trembling worsened. It then transpired that the valve thingy part of the bath could not be reached from the ceiling hole.

 Back upstairs we went, and the plumber had to destroy a tile. He was then able to reach in and fix the leaking valve. Then he went out to buy a cover/grille for the ceiling hole.  He has contacted a handyman mate of his to come and insert a grille to replace the broken tile, so that if the problem recurs there will be access. He fixed the dripping tap underneath the hand basin, and he changed a light globe for me.

Next week I can chase up the handyman.

I am relieved and delighted that after all my angst, the problem has been fixed, and will try not to be such a sook in future. It has been difficult, dealing with such things since Dr P died. But I do wonder about building practices! Why would you put tiles over a connection that might start leaking? Why would you not put a grille over it, in case of a leak? Why are plumbing details not put on plans?

Perhaps my next go at being a big brave girl might be to investigate getting a better exhaust fan over the gas hotplates? But I will have a little rest first. And I hope that if other things go wrong I will feel more capable of getting them rectified. And my house visitors will have a bathroom to themselves, instead of having to share mine.