Broken or fractured your humerus at the shoulder? Me too.  Let’s share tips – #BrokenLeftArm

Broken or fractured your humerus at the shoulder? Me too. Let’s share tips – #BrokenLeftArm

We’re idiots, what are we? If you have helpful suggestions and hacks please add them in the comments because I’m in week 3 and it seems there are months to go before I can whirl my left arm like a windmill and in the meantime life has to go on. If you also live alone, you too may have struggled to find advice. We can combine what we’ve learned!

Sleeping – sitting up against a pile of pillows is definitely the easiest. We can – and I occasionally do – sleep lying on the sound side or on your back but the arm always hurts more when I sleep flat. Sleep comes in slabs of a couple of hours. Don’t fret it, and don’t take pills unless in real pain. Restack the pillows or change position and go back to sleep.  

Getting dressed

Luckily I lost weight some time ago and hung on to some favourite blouses which are therefore suitably loose-fitting.

Button-up type – feed the sleeve onto your hand, rest your fingers on a window-ledge or counter at the comfortable height, and feed the blouse up your wincing arm. Getting the other arm in is just wriggling. It’s slow and a bit painful.  Meh.

Quick dressing – sacrifice suitable pull-on shirts for super-quick dressing. Cut off the affected sleeve and the side hem to just below elbow level. The head and sound arm pull on as normal, the crock arm is fed through the seam, on with the sling and Bob’s your uncle. Your beautiful bruise is on view to impress all who see it (useful for hospital checkups) but the rest of you is decently covered. Well – I say decent – If you do have access to a second handy pair of hands, sew press studs into the side seam so you can be closed up. But your immobilised arm and sling will keep you basically covered up.

For online teaching I have to present a normal pair of shoulders to the webcam, so I unpicked the sleeve seam and side seam to just below elbow level of my red polo-collar teaching shirts. Sorted and I’ll be able to sew it up again when normal mobility has returned.

My sling is the strappy type that goes round the waist as well as up and over my shoulder. I never undo the waist, just step in and out. The end of the strap over my shoulder goes between my teeth until my arm is fed properly in the pre-shaped sling and I can then Velcro the strap to the right height.

A year or so back I bought a light knitted cape which I never wore very much but is turning out to be the most useful garment I possess now . . .

Elastic-waist slacks are our friends. Lean against the wall to put on knickers and pull on the slacks. Prevents overbalancing completely – after all, sudden hopping hurts, and falling over is probably not advisable.

Pets

If you have a dog which was formerly in a harness for walks, because it needs more control than a collar affords, your best option is a slip lead. 

In the beginning leaning forward or bending down tugs at the shoulder quite painfully so I feed her on the stairs. A saucepan with long handle has become the new dog bowl.

If you have a cat litter tray – my cat is old, drinks vast amounts of water, and pisses like a horse. The soaked sand sets like cement and is a bugger to shift one handed. I moved his tray to a compromise height both he and I can reach (that’s really a benefit with old Spanish houses, lots of deep window ledges at various heights) and lined it with a sturdy heavy plastic shopping bag with the handles and corners protruding from the sand. It’s easy to tug at either handles or corners to shift the sand around and then scoop out the clumped bits. A long-handled soup ladle is proving ideal for fresh sand out of the sack to top up the tray.

My favourite purchase has been a long-handled dustpan which proved endlessly useful for picking stuff up off the floor while bending or crouching down was painful. I seemed to drop everything at a rate never known before, that’s not happening so much now but the dustpan is still my go-to little helper.  

Can you add more tips in the comments?

Ever researching on your behalf

Elegsabiff

Getting too old to bounce, tchah. Living with a #Podenco

In books when a character doesn’t return within a reasonable time from a dog walk other characters notice. “Harold”, for example, grabs his keys saying gruffly that something must be wrong, and off he goes. In books. So after I managed to roll over and sit up, and realized no WAY was I achieving the vertical with only one working arm, I rather wished I was in a book. Reality – I live alone, and although I’m in fairly constant email contact with a Harold of sorts, he wasn’t likely to start wondering at the silence for at least 3 hours. He wouldn’t come looking for at least 6 hours since we live in different towns – at best he’d phone my neighbours to say I was unusually silent (as I would with his).  I teach online and was due to start in 2 hours, but the school is Chinese and would just put in a replacement tutor and dock my pay. One puzzled man had walked by in the quiet street flanking the wasteland where we had been walking, and there would be others, and I even knew the necessary Spanish (ayudame, please aid me) but Purdey, my podenco, was in an absolute panic at my peculiar behaviour already and would attack anyone who came near me.

Purdey is an absolute sweetie but very OTT and protective. I said in the first blog I ever wrote about her that pods were timid and if trouble struck would lead the way to safety, expecting you to follow. I was wrong. She is still timid, but with a home and owner to protect she has become extraordinarily fierce.  She’s particularly wary of men, and rarely lets herself be stroked or patted, preferring to keep a safe distance unless they are sitting down and, even better, offering treats. My invaluable friend Nick, who did most of the work on this house, visited – when he stood up and started waving his arms she bit him. Oops. The fact that he was pointing to where the walls had to be replastered, and had been peacefully drinking coffee until then, held no sway. Even worse, a guest who had been using the laundry walked back past my door and paused to look in – to call me, being inquisitive, who knows – and Purdey went for her, too. Just a nip, and didn’t break skin, but honestly a warning bark or growl would have more than met requirements, stupid dog, plus saved me grovelling apologies and a brimming glassful of my best brandy. So we are working on that, and very nice local brave friends pop in every now and then to get her used to the idea that people do come and go, and she watches them narrowly and with deep suspicion. Since in normal non-Covid times I let holiday rooms this is a Problem. Normally there would have been a constant if erratic stream of guests from the time she came to live here but of course that’s been impossible and continues to be unlikely for weeks yet. We will get this sorted by then. I hope. She’ll hate being locked up.  

In every other way she is an absolute joy. She and the cat have a truce so long as he doesn’t want too much affection from me – she resents that very much. She’s stopped scavenging, and although she occasionally disembowels one of the potted geraniums it doesn’t happen very often and she is very apologetic about it. We house-sat a young terrier for a day and he was so enthralled by Leela’s old toys that Purdey has learned to play – she gallumps after a ball, even occasionally returning it, and is charmed by squeaky toys, keeping all her treats upstairs on the patio and returning them there after play.

Still squeaking. She’s giving it a chance to catch its breath.

She is ‘clean’ to the point of obsession and waits hours longer than normal for a walk if there’s an unexpected delay, although she’s nearly cross-eyed with strain by the time we reach the great outdoors.  She’s good with other dogs – there’s a pitbull with personality issues often met on our morning walks. When he’s off-lead in the wasteland he’s violently friendly, but we met him once in the street on-lead and he lunged at her, snarling and growling. She defended herself vigorously and we went on our way. A minute or two later there was a despairing Spanish scream of warning – Lou had slipped his collar and was charging after us. He grovelled apologetically (didn’t realize it was you, so sorry?) and she behaved impeccably while his owner puffed up to reclaim him. My last dog, Leela, would have resumed hostilities instantly!

She has been for one long hike in the mountains, with the company of Nick’s quite elderly pod, and proved she can be trusted to return when called back.  While I keep her on the lead in the streets I can now let her off in the wasteland and she can stretch her hunting legs in a gallop or two before returning to the lead.

2 pods on a walk

The wasteland was once a large allotment for a small herd of goats, and is surrounded by well-maintained allotments which probably wouldn’t welcome a digging dog. The last time she’d returned with muddy paws so this time I was trotting gently after her to see what she was destroying. One minute trotting, the next minute face down with an unceasing blaze of agony from my left arm . . .

Eventually I got to my feet using her as a support – she stood like a rock, never buckling, little heroine – and got home and Nick collected me to go to hospital and I had impacted my humerus and am out of action for, apparently, months. Oh great. I may do a blog on living alone with one working arm and two working hands because that’s proving a learning curve of note. From Purdey’s point of view the two main changes are that she’s now fed on the stairs out of an old saucepan with a long handle, and there’s no more harness. She’s now walked on a slip-lead, which is much easier for one hand, and so solicitous, and keeping so protectively close, I am in constant danger of tripping over her.

Having a pod was the reason I’m in this one-armed pickle, but it’s hardly her fault I’m a clumsy clot and she has been quite possibly the nicest dog I have ever adopted. Time and patience are being repaid with devotion and fun and even as I type this she is dozing on her blanket on the sofa, one eye on me to make sure I don’t suddenly do something else inexplicable and need her help . . .

Talking SLOWER and LOUDER worth a try, guys . . . #LivinginSpain

Last week was a very Spanish week, testing my shrunken vocabulary well past its limits.  Monday I knew I could no longer ignore my high temperature, complete loss of appetite, and other slightly alarming  symptoms:  definitely not covid, equally definitely needing antibiotics of some kind. Thanks to being registered as an autónoma, I have a “health card” (tarjeta sanitaria) but how to use it in these viral times? Turns out – write a note (in Spanish) describing your symptoms, go to the local clinic, hand in the note and card, they will hand back the card after checking they have all your contact details on computer, and a doctor will phone you at home for consultation / advice. Simple. The reality was they kept the card for ages, as they puzzled through what Google thought I wanted to say, but it was no hardship queueing at suitably-spaced intervals in the sunny street. They finally called me inside to provide a urine sample  before handing the card back.

Colour me impressed, I got the phone call (in English) within 10 minutes of getting home, the sample had been tested, a UTI confirmed, antibiotics and painkillers prescribed. Colour me VERY impressed, I didn’t need to pick up the script, just go to the farmacia and hand in my card, all the details had been loaded on the card. I was in and out with my meds in 10 minutes and of course nothing to pay because the social may cost a lot but it covers everything.  So much for Monday.

Tuesday morning woken at sparrows by a very voluble Spanish gent on the phone. The English system of talking to stupid furriners, Slower And Louder, may be mocked but I can’t see the Spanish way of dealing with stupid furriners, Use Different Words With Every Try and Talk Faster, really works either. After ten minutes of getting nowhere I scraped up enough Spanish to ask him to send a Whatsapp so I could translate it. Aha! He was an Inspector from the Tourist Department, and he was coming to inspect the place on Thursday morning.  So much for a day or two recovering in bed with languid cups of tea. The house hasn’t seen a paying guest since October, thank you covid, and I’m not dedicated to immaculate  when it is only me.  When I applied for my temporary hosting licence back in 2018 I was told I’d have an inspection within the month and then I’d get my permanent licence. Instead I got the permanent licence by post and now, finally, the place was to be checked. WHIRLWIND of activity! He was in fact very nice, very quick and efficient, and with us both using our phone translators I could show him not only the rooms but the laundry and the first aid facilities. However I couldn’t show him my Vivienda Rural signboard, because I didn’t have one, and I couldn’t show him official complaint forms, those had to be acquired. I’m still waiting for his official email re ‘deficiencies’ but it seems those are the only problems, phew. He did purse his lips at the low doorway to the sunroom but hey, it is an old house, that’s part of its eccentricities. Hope I don’t have to rebuild.

I do have contacts in Velez also newly in the holiday accommodation side who were agog for news about the inspection and the wife, oh thank you, speaks good Spanish after 17 years living here. We found a local guy licenced to issue our official signboards, and that was sorted in another flurry of Spanish.

Another requirement of Turismo  is that hosts keep records of every guest, and routinely register them on the police website as soon as they check in. I’ve kept scrupulous records but access to the website has been an ongoing frustration – it won’t let you in without a password, and the password can only be got in person from the policia.  The Policia Local said not them. I went through to the Policia Nacional  in Motril and they said not them. My efficient friend took me off to the Guardia Civil (I didn’t even know we had a branch in Velez) and translated like a whizz and the next day, Friday, I could nip back and pick up my certificado with official password.  

Velez municipality is once again off the lockdown list (when the lockdown trigger is 500 sick in a hundred thousand, and the population is under 3000 people, it only takes one or two either way) so I also shot through to Salobreña to stock up at Mercadona, as Motril is still closed off to the outside world. So there we were, Friday, time at last after school to take to my bed with those languid cups of tea but it all felt a bit pointless by then so I got up again to admire my lovely immaculate house. Life in Spain. Never dull.

For those who read the blogs because of my podenco Purdey, oops, I had to lock her away during the inspection as she’s a bit nippy around men. There’ll be a blog coming up about that as she (hopefully) responds to therapy but she remains in every other way a delight and a joy.

The Postman Always Rings Twice – okay, leans on the bell and hammers on the door for good measure #livinginSpain

I was online in my virtual classroom when the familiar dingdongdingdongdingdong bang Bang BANG sounded at the door and there was nothing to be done about it – my junior pupils pay through the nose for their 25 minute classes (at least five times what I am paid for teaching them, at a guess) and there’s no question of putting them on hold and sauntering off to deal with a delivery. Strictly verboten. When school was over for the day I collected the notification from my postbox and made a mental note to get up early in the morning.

We’re lucky, in Velez, to have a correos at all because as towns go we are tiny. Stamps, and weighing of letters, is actually done at the tabacos and parcels have to be sent from Motril but we do have a tiny branch office and it is much appreciated. It opens early and at 10 am the local Postmistress General* shuts up shop and sets off on foot to deliver post so the window of opportunity, for a night owl like me, is narrow. I glumly reasoned it was probably an official letter from yet another authority with the sudden passionate desire to see my NIE, (tax document) there had been a couple of those lately, so I wasn’t hugely motivated and when roadworks rattled me awake at 9 I went back to dozing. The alarm went off at 9.30 (snooze) and only when it went off at 9.45 did I remember the delivery. Bugggerrrrr I was up and in yesterday’s outer clothing, hair hastily brushed, face still unwashed (masks do have their uses), dog in harness and striding down the street in 4 minutes. It took a minute or so to register it was raining a little. It does, even here, and normally is very welcome but bugggerrrrr. The farmacia street clock said 10:02 (no way) but we quickened our pace anyway. The rain quickened a little, too, and as I rounded the corner of the correos I peered in the window. Open, but a queue. Buggggerrrrr! Leela, my former dog, was stoical about being tied to the school railings and left for a few minutes, even in rain (she’d lived in Scotland, after all, rain was no novelty) but the very last word that could be ever applied to Purdey, my fairly new rescue podenco, is stoical. She is excessively timid, very flighty, and a Houdini into the bargain, and we’ve not started working yet on Waiting Outside On A Lead. I wasn’t prepared to emerge to an empty harness. I squared my shoulders and took her in with me.

I do love living in a small town in Spain, you know. The postmistress blinked, vanished for a second, and reappeared with a beaming smile to hurry past the queue with my delivery. We were out and on our way for the important business of the walk with barely a check. (Best of all, the delivery was a parcel for Christmas, YAY, well worth the collecting!)

*I don’t know if she’s the Postmistress General but a recent official had-to-be-signed-for letter about presenting my NIE to the water department within 10 days or be disconnected was signed by our “Mayor President” so I think she probably is. As a teacher I am, in Spanish, a Profesora or a Maestro. We do nice titles.

That was a mission in itself – I don’t work on Mondays, so trotted up to the ayuntimiento on the following Monday with my NIE, oops, long weekend. Returned on Wednesday to learn the policia have taken over the offices. The policeman was nice, even spoke a little English, and told me where to find the ayuntamiento, opposite the Casa de la Cultura. Except – not. The first person I could find in the Casa de la Cultura said the ayuntamiento was now next to the Jardin Nazari. And so it was, no sign up whatsoever but a long queue because there was temporarily no electricity. I had to fill in a form, in Spanish, saying what service I wanted (Mayor President he may be but his letter was obviously not sufficiently explanatory for burocracia) and the whole business of showing the authorities my NIE and letting them take a copy took a lot of walking and the best part of an hour – the other side of living in Spain.

Next time I go to the ayuntamiento I might take Purdey, it could work as a queuebuster again.

Living with a #podenco – a month later

Purdey the podenco has now been with me for a month – my lovely Dutch neighbour, who handles animal rescues and rehomes dogs all round Europe, borrowed a chip reader from the policia and there was a truly nasty moment when it pinged – she was chipped after all, against all expectations. Oh hell. She hadn’t been emaciated when found, she had adjusted so very quickly to walking on a lead, was she a loved runaway pet after all? The law requires notifying the owner, who has three weeks to respond. M got the owner details from her vet – she’d been chipped 3 years ago, reported as missing shortly after. M rang him from my house and all was well, he didn’t even remember her, was intrigued to learn she’d been found near Los Tablones, didn’t want her back. In Spain we are in municipal lockdown and my small municipality doesn’t have a veterinarian, so an appointment was made with a vet in Motril. Armed with the confirmation on my phone to show to the policia if I was stopped, I drove into town for the first time in WEEKS and got the chip officially changed to my name. The vet, who by the way looked like a teenager, hell I must be getting old, did her shots, created her ‘passport’, and gave me a printout authorising buying dogfood while I was in town. Although we have mini supermarkets in Velez their range of petfood is very limited and the cat went on a hunger strike in protest at the range they carried, living on dry food and tuna and tripping over his lip. CATS. I grabbed the chance to buy other things the local minimarkets don’t stock for their predominantly Spanish customers – Ryvita, marmite, Bournville cocoa, cheddar – my stocks were alarmingly low as the lockdown extends, and extends, and extends.

We’ve got our Christmas guidelines, by the way, while on the subject of permission to cross municipal borders  – the message is please stay at home but if you MUST go out, family gatherings of up to ten people only. Curfew is extended to 01h30 on special days (including, naturally, NYE). Family being important to Spanish life, municipal, provincial, even regional, borders can be crossed, depending on local restrictions.  Close friends is a bit hazy – some authorities say si, some say no way José. The burning issue of whether this will be an honour system or whether permission must be obtained in advance is still hanging. While the thought of spending a whole day with a good friend after all these weeks and weeks of almost uninterrupted solitude is dizzying, neither of us fancy being stopped at a checkpoint by armed officials expecting a fluent well-worded plea to continue outside municipal limits. Bugger. Watch this space.

Back briefly to Purdey. She and the cat have signed a peace treaty and are now locked in a quiet but determined struggle for territory. Anything the cat can do, Purdey feels she surely can too – I do have washable covers on the sofa and bed so had no objection to her getting up on either, but it took a while before she did. The cat has his own preferred baby blanket and she folded herself up onto that first . . .

It took a while but a chilly evening, a fire, and a long day for both of them, achieved a breakthrough.

The Spanish couple who rescued Purdey from a tumbledown finca in the middle of nowhere had advertised extensively for her most recent owner and got a reply last week – a month after he took her hunting. She vanished the first time he fired a shot. He doesn’t want her back as she is of no use to him, but he’s glad she has found a home.  She does HATE shots, the first time she heard the hunters in the hills round Velez she turned firmly for home and led me straight to the door. That was a few days in – I was pleased she knew the way, pleased she sees home as a safe refuge.

Oh and yay, we  had a breakthrough on using the great outdoors as the bathroom of choice. It took a while, filling her to the brim with food and water before long long walks, and she still prefers the privacy of the terrace, but since it seems to please me so very much when she uses the outdoors, and  she likes to make me happy, she now performs dutifully. She does still insist on kicking over her traces when outdoors so pavements are still out, but we have patches of wasteland a few minutes away in two directions which are patronised by other town dogs and fascinate her. She’s shy with other dogs, but slowly making the occasional friendly contact, ducking behind me to avoid unfriendly or bossy dogs. Like other pods, she communicates through dance – springs about like Tigger when walks or food are in the offing, sits hopefully in front of me (sometimes nearly tripping me) when wanting attention or treats or me to stop stroking the cat please, and jiggles from foot to foot when she needs a walk.

Living with a podenco? It’s great. Three walks a day is doing me a world of good, too –

The learning curve of living with a #podenco – a truly Spanish dog

I’m no expert. Total newbie, in fact. There have been many dogs in my past and for a large chunk of that past they’ve been rescue dogs of the bullbreed type, mainly staffies. The last 8 years, for example, was spent with a bulldog / Frenchie cross with a will of iron who only went into rescue because her doting owners unexpectedly produced a baby and she refused pointblank to accept the interloper. To the end of her long life she wasn’t to be trusted near a crying baby. Difficult rescue dogs? Been there, done that. A podenco couldn’t be more different, and I hadn’t expected such a learning curve.  So here’s what I’ve learned so far: some of it I looked up, some of it was passed on from others, and most of it from Purdey.

The Spanish have a reputation for cruelty to animals – it must immediately be said I’ve had Spanish guests here at the Casa with their dogs and even, in two cases, their cats, and they were devoted to their pets and couldn’t bear to be separated from them. The town has a conventional complement of much-loved house pets, often met out on walks. Like many generalisations it is not true of the majority. But – podencos (it literally means hound), a group of Mediterranean hare-hunting sighthounds, differing slightly by region (eg Ibiza, Andalusia, Canary Islands, etc) aren’t often as lucky. They are quite literally considered tools.

A working pod will often be kept in a dark shed, and is generally half-starved during hunting season to make it keener for the hunt. When the season ends, many are turned out to fend for themselves, and the persistent are driven miles away to be dumped, or worse. Pods have been dealt a fairly crappy hand in life and many people, both in Spain and out, are stepping up to adopt rescued ones. They make marvellous pets but they are not like other dogs. They are not, by the way, a breed as such, more an unmistakable type, with enormous ears, jaunty tails, and strong wiry frames.  They come in three sizes, small, medium, and large, and can be rough or smooth coat.

Purdey is a almost classic Andalusian medium-sized rough coat pod but has no tail – I don’t know whether it was deliberately docked, amputated after a mishap, or is a birth abnormality. She is around 3 years old, was found living alone in a tumble-down house in the campo, and handed over to me a fortnight ago. She looks dainty and rangy by turns, is immensely strong for her size, and uses her wonderful ears like semaphore flags.

So far she has proved charming, gentle, and increasingly affectionate. I was concerned that I’d not be able to give her marathon walks and runs, and that the household, especially during this covid year, is excessively quiet – me and an elderly cat.  After all, research says that they like children, love a bustling household with a lot going on, and many have taken to agility training and enjoy it very much. Turns out, though, they don’t need to be galloped twice a day, or worn out before they can sleep, but they do need regular walking. Great for me – that’s why I wanted a dog.

Loving and affectionate, yes. Lapdogs, not so much. Purdey likes to be near me, or where she can see me, but far from having to be chased off the bed or sofa, she won’t even sleep on a thickly padded dog bed and prefers a knobbly old dog rug with no padding whatsoever. She’s used to alone-time and doesn’t nag for constant attention, although when I do reappear she is flatteringly delighted. She would probably stand rockstill to the end of time if I would just keep brushing her – it is one of her passions in life. When it stops she sighs, does a nose-poke thank you, and heads to the knobbly old rug. Great for me – I don’t like dogs that demand constant entertainment and playing. She has no concept of play at all, and looks oddly at me when I bounce a ball, or squeak a toy. The one exception is the kong, which she considers an admirable way of serving dog pâté. We’re working on play.

As dogs they are hardy, robust, and fend remarkably well for themselves when turned out, as so many are, after hunting season. The downside is that they are skilled scavengers, and she ransacked the rubbish bin the first time I left her alone. She’ll also pinch the cat’s food and anything left out, even when she’s just had a meal, and gives me a guilty grin when I scold. That’s improving already, with regular food, but I don’t think she’ll ever completely lose the habit.

I’m warned I may never be able to let her off the lead on a walk because however devoted they are to owners, they are insatiably curious explorers.  Be aware, also, that a podenco puts Houdini to shame when it comes to wriggling out of collars and harnesses. A collar will likely not be enough and a harness must be fitted snugly. Purdey’s was adjusted by another half inch on each side after she showed me just how good she is. That was an exciting half hour through the streets of Velez, with her trotting anywhere between ten to fifty yards ahead, sublimely unaware of my cold dread that she would pop out in front of a car as I panted in pursuit.

They are gently stubborn – once they have decided a course of action, it is hard to convince them otherwise.  Purdey learned instantly, when I squawked, that peeing in the middle of the atrium was not going to be popular.  Her home loo became the terrace, which is near the hosepipe and easily washed down. It has also become her only loo. She loves walks, she is fascinated by what other dogs have left on the street and in the rough grass, but no matter how long we stay out, she pops up to the terrace with a sigh of relief when we get back. After the first week with me she did start peeing occasionally when out, and seemed embarrassed by my lavish praise. I’d welcome any advice on getting her preferring outdoors to indoors.

They are sighthounds, those huge ears are like radar antenna, and they have hunter reflexes. Introductions to cats must be handled carefully. There was no problem introducing them, but my cat is furtive around dogs, and likes to make quick dashes from hiding, especially outside at night. With a bulldog, no problem, he was out of range before she had her legs sorted out. With a sighthound, a couple of heart-stopping dashes until Purdey finally accepted his resemblance to a rabbit was purely coincidental. Me shouting NO devastated her: telling her she was a Bad Dog, the second time, reduced her to quivering jelly. Sprinting after small animals is what she was bred to do. In this pic (I’m a rubbish photographer) the cat looks nearly her size but is merely nearer the camera. They’re not friends, not yet, but settling down together.

Pods may be hunters, but they are unexpectedly timid. I’m used to imposing my will on difficult stubborn dogs – hence the shout NO. Purdey is highly intelligent and desperate to please, and that’s characteristic of the type too. If danger beckons they will remove themselves and expect you to have the sense to do the same. Your pod will not be challenging visitors, or bringing up the rear barking defiantly while you get to safety. On the bright side, they won’t pick fights with other dogs, and will go out of their way to avoid confrontation. This is proving immensely restful after all those years of bull breeds.

She was so timid at first that I tried her in a thunderjacket – she didn’t object, but then she never does. It could help for high-stress outings like vet visits. I might need to change to a female vet as she is definitely afraid of men.

If you want a roly-poly bundle of lively fun which will chase after balls and bring them back, be delighted by toys, and protect you to its dying breath, a pod won’t suit. My friend has had his eight years and Purdey is newly moved in, but in these things they are the same – very traditional dogs, bred to work for their keep, self-effacing, independent, needing only food and exercise, gratefully returning kindness and a place in your home with affection and the desire to fit in. His dog barks at the approach of cars (but then that’s out in the campo, so it usually means a visitor) and both dogs literally dance with delight at moments of high excitement.   

My phone takes awful photos which don’t do her justice. She’s utterly lovely.

My phone wants me to jump. Do I bin it or ask ‘how high?’

During lockdown  my phone became my companion to the outside world and I let it live by my bed at night, because any notification could be important, and checked it over morning coffee while my computer was still warming up. I noticed it occasionally notified me about the weather – told me what the temperature was, for example. Or what it would be tomorrow. I hadn’t asked it to, but that seemed harmless enough.

More recently it decided I need to see news items, including news items from media which don’t share my views at all. As fast as I swipe left, more take their place. It loads games I don’t want, which take up space. It tracks my movements and tries to control my banking (with the support of my bank, which has some functions which can ONLY be done by phone). There’s talk the tracking app may be optional now but all future phones will have it built in.

I’m – puzzled. A little concerned. Add a tiny dash of paranoid, if you like. I’m not on iPhone so Siri can’t start telling me what to do but at what point will Alexa, or another of the android options, load themselves? Will the wake-up be when my phone decides to ignore my alarm settings and wake me earlier? How bossy is my phone going to get?

evil smartphone

Oh, that was all I really had to say, the rest of this I’m just bumping my gums. Phones and I go way way back.  We had black Bakelite phones in the 60s when I was a kid  – and yes, phones plural, one upstairs, pretty cutting edge. Back then extra jacks cost, and not a little. An extension phone was something you thought seriously about and budgeted for. Was it really necessary?

bakelite phone

Technology whizzed on but there were still reminders of the not-so-far past – in my teens I had a horse stabled in the country and if I needed to phone from the stables I had to pick up the headset and whirr away on a little handle to reach a switchboard operator. I couldn’t, of course, if someone was already using the party line.

In my first job in the 70s  I was expected, as a junior, to do lunchtime cover on the plug-in switchboard, which gave all us quivering juniors nasty little shocks as we pulled plugs in and out. You booked international calls in advance back then and I accidentally disconnected the CEO who was on a Hong Kong call which had taken two hours to come through. Rite of passage. He shouldn’t have been making calls during lunch if he didn’t want to be disconnected, am I right?  I found the identical, I swear, photo but this board is circa 1900. Evil old thing, but phones really lasted back then.

plug in switchboard

The last really big catering function I worked on, we were re-opening a major shopping centre with several thousand guests expected. Four bar points, eight catering points, the function kitchen set up in the parking garage, hectic. As function overseer I had cellphone in one breast pocket and walkie-talkie in the other. They were both enormous and weighed a ton and oh my the years have flown, that was 25 years ago.

old cellphone

Cellphones got much smaller over the next few years. I moved to the UK and learned to call them mobile phones. I enjoyed my flip phone (beam me up), then a slimmer phone, which was tiny, the last of the truly tiny phones because they started getting bigger again as they got smarter. I was late to Smartphones – all I really wanted was a phone for when people wanted to reach me, and to get hold of people I wanted to reach, but the slimline phone / text type was nearly obsolete by 2015. I wasn’t crazy about the upgrade, half the time I forgot to put it in my handbag. It wasn’t a big deal.  The fact that I could send emails and photos and stuff was handy but not vital. My next Smartphone was bigger and could do more, but I could still take it or leave it, I wasn’t addicted. I really wasn’t.

And now – it is trying to influence me. I bet that old plug-in switchboard is spluttering with laughter.

 

 

Buckle up, and other irritating safety laws #livinginSpain

Just as well the whole safety-belt-in-car business was hammered out before we all became so aggressive or you can imagine the furore now. Furious complaints about being constrained. Argument that it stops you being able to reverse easily, or reach a crying child in the back seat. PROOF that wearing a safety belt won’t stop you being injured or killed in an accident. Passionate refusal to be immobilised in the car. How DARE you tell me what to do? Toys being thrown from a million cots.
Look at the stubbornness when it comes to texting while driving. To some, it is so obviously stupid that to do it at all should carry an automatic charge of attempted manslaughter. Others will argue they’ve never died or killed anyone as a result so it is ipso facto ridiculous to think that it is dangerous. The belligerent will insist that if they need to read or send a text while driving, they will.
Whatever.
Wearing a mask, even a scarf or a bandana over your nose and mouth, won’t stop the spread of this virus in its tracks. It won’t guarantee you won’t get the virus. It won’t guarantee you don’t spread the virus. I know we’ve been told we shouldn’t, then told we should, then confused further by the muppets in the public spotlight who don’t. Our leaders have lost some credibility in recent months, and we are all loudly forging our own paths. I’m not shouting about much and I actually hate wearing a mask. It’s like putting on a safety belt when driving. It’s a nuisance, hot, uncomfortable, and yes you have to live with your own halitosis while in public. 🙂 Grow up, shut up, put it on and improve all our chances just that little bit more.

Our law here right now in Spain as we move into the prolonged stage between “Alarmed” and “100% Normality” is that we must wear one “when contact is unavoidable” – shopping, public transport, etc. Already I can see some who carry one but only put it on if a policeman hoves into view. Seriously? It isn’t about tricking the authorities, you gloop. It’s about reducing the impact and spread of the bloody virus. You enjoyed lockdown so much?
ONE HUNDRED DAYS IN A STATE OF ALARM WAS SO MUCH FUN?
It’s about never having to go back into lockdown. If an occasional mask in the fierce heat of Spanish summer is the price of avoiding that, it is one I pay gladly and it won’t actually kill you to do the same basic courtesy to your community. Kill you hell, it might save your life. Just like that nuisance of a safety belt.
Peevishly yours
Elegsabiff

trikini

Not me. Sigh.

Solitary confinement #livinginSpain

I’m about to go out, so I have spent 20 minutes dressing and putting on (eye) makeup (masks are a great timesaver) and doing my hair, humming under my breath.  There’s a full bag of rubbish waiting by the front door, I’m planning to take that up to the town’s central bins. I’ve always liked the Spanish system of big central bins emptied daily anyway, and now it’s a double boon.  You poor buggers who have your bins on your own properties!

quarantine mask

Was a time I’d have struggled up there laden under the bag and the recycling bags to save extra trips, oho, none of that now, play my cards right there’s three good outings in that lot. Life is change.

There was, until Tuesday past, dog walking – quarantine law allows for a dog to be taken up to 100 metres from the house. There’s less clarity on whether owners must then turn back or can traipse back and forth until nature takes its course. The cantankerous old trout who inspired the dog Maggie as far back as Three Four Knock On My Door in 2013 has mellowed and faded a great deal over the years and on Tuesday her story had to end. In the weeks of quarantine it has been I wistful for walks and she who groaned reluctantly and humoured me. This pic was taken back in Scotland. RIP old girl. You are missed.

15 OCt 002

I’m used to friends popping by, work intermittently being done on the house, Spanish classes and trying out my abominable Spanish on the patient. Since May 2018 the house has also had a steady trickle of guests. Being alone was sometimes a luxury. I won’t deny that a month into enforced solitary I’ve not felt the strain sometimes. Lurked at the window to watch for people walking by, that sort of thing. Red letter day when someone goes by without a mask and I can feast my eyes on actual features. Ooh!  A nose! A mouth!

I did get one unexpected social outing one day  – my battery-powered thermometer became, I think, unreliable (25 degrees is quite low – but on the bright side, no fever) so I decided to walk to the local farmacia for another. Wow, unplanned treat!  Five of us were at one point queued in the street, 2 metres apart, all masked and gloved, and as all the gloves were all different colours there was a definite air of fiesta. Everyone talked at once, the colourful hands flew, I was dizzied by the sociability of it all. Sold out of thermometers, though.

I did see a bloke from my  Spanish class the other day and we stood on opposite sides of the street catching up on quick news. He and his wife had bought a house just before we went into lockdown a month ago. He said they’re living in it now. Well – camping in it now. The furniture couldn’t get through in time.  They seem to be coping okay. He was on his own but then under Spanish quarantine only one member of each household can leave home without specific, written, dispensation. They mean it, too. Fines are becoming epic, thousands issued, doubling and tripling (or serving a future jail sentence) for repeat offenders. This couple always came across as companionable and affectionate  but he was still probably pleased to have a break, I’ve seen jokes about couples stuck in quarantine together, you know, begging each other not to blink so loudly.

This is a big (10 roomed) house, would it have been fun with someone else sharing the space or would we be planning murders by now? I’ll never know. It’s quiet.

Very very quiet.

Oops, that’s it, siesta over, I can sally out with my rubbish bag and maybe there will be glimpses of other people taking theirs. This is so EXCITING!

The Dance Defence #LivingInSpain #quarantine

It seems to me that this wretched virus seems to bounce fairly lightly off the young and/or active and home in on the sedentary and if that’s true, lockdown is more than just the opportunity to write uninterrupted but presents some unusual challenges.

typing

We’re in full lockdown in Spain and my elderly dog, who entirely approves of brief constitutional outings, is slightly indignant at being hauled out several times a day instead of the usual morning and evening. I do also have the whole house to paint, alone, since my usual support and helper is similarly locked down, but it isn’t enough to keep me as active as I suspect I need to be.

uh oh
 

So that’s it, back to my Zumba DVD 20 minute workout three times a week. It turns out all the work of running and maintaining a guesthouse, plus the dog-walking, didn’t keep me as fit as I had thought (puff puff). I’m planning now also to download some of the more hectic songs from my teens and create a playlist to dance away the virus on non-zumba days. Who’s with me?

head banger ”