Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Buildings And Stoves (More Songs) ...

So, as is my wont, I took Jara and Emma out for their evening piddle the other night: this is usually around 23:00 just to make sure they're ready for it. (Believe me, it's so much better not to have to clean up crap in the verandah first thing in the moaning.) It's about five or six km for the round trip by the time we've headed up the road that leads out and under the autoroute and made it up to the old four à chaux, so it's often midnight by the time we get back home.

And as usual, we came back past old Henri Bataille's mausoleum (actually not exclusively his, it belongs to the mostly deceased Huc family, of which he was a member), which would be relatively unimpressive were it not set in a park of cypress trees behind a high stone wall (into which, incidentally, are set - in letters of gold - some of Bataille's less banal verses, he must have been channeling Baudelaire at the time) with, plonked directly in front of it, a replica of Squelette by Ligier-Richier: because, for some reason, he wanted that. A décadent manqué, if you ask me ...

Anyways, in principle a mausoleum is as quiet as the grave, there's generally little to worry about if you've not been over-doing the absinthe, but as we went past late that night there was a shuffling and a clattering and a low, weary snuffling, as it might be some fell fangèd beast tearing unenthusiastically at the cere-cloths. Or possibly the Hell Horse - "old, lame, and weary unto death, and who shall look on it shall die". The dogs seemed anxious, and then as a cloud drifted over the moon there came a clomping, and a great sigh and a snorting, and then a large friendly donkey poked its head over the wall. Hoping, I think, for a sugar cube.

None of this, of course, prepared me for last night's episode. We'd given old Henri a wide berth (just saying, no point in taking unnecessary risks, what with the undead and all) and were coming back along l'avenue de l'Alaric, a road which is basically the southern boundary of Moux, and south of that there are fields, and vines, then the autoroute and beyond that the last ridges of our little mountain. We were not troubled by donkeys, nor by faceless abominations beyond the imagination of man, but as we got up to one of the sparse streetlamps I could not help but notice, four or five metres off to my right in the field, two wild boar cheerily munching away. The dogs were too surprised to say anything - probably just as well - and the sangliers looked up, spotted us, and trotted off into the darkness.

That's rather more excitement than I really need for an evening. Also, we were probably lucky that they decided to trot off, because you really do not want to mess with one of those things.

The living room here at The Shamblings™ is now painted in a fetching combination of sage green and pale cream, which means that in a couple of days the plumber can come back past and put up the huge radiator in there, as well as one in bedroom #2 on the first floor and one in my office, and then we can push the go-tit on the central heating. Which'll be rather nice, as the Cers is blowing and they're predicting highs of 8° during the day for the next week or so. (This was not, incidentally, in the brochures when we bought down here, and Margo in particular wishes to make her discontentment known.)

Two things not to do: start plastering, and look for replacement stoves on the innatübz. I say this from personal experience. The plastering I have already mentioned: you start, you just can't stop. I take some solace in the fact that when furniture is back occupying most of the room, the defects in the walls will be pretty much hidden. In the future dinning room I shall have to be more careful with my work, as thanks to decades of rising damp there are large chunks of plaster that are only hanging on to the walls by faith, or quantum inter-connectedness, or something. Also, when previous persons bogged up holes in the walls due to - as it might be - running power cables down there, or whatever, they did a job that even I would sneer at as being amateurish, and sanding back was obviously an optional extra which they weren't getting paid for and what the hell, who'll look?

I see that I am going to get extremely dusty, because I do look, and incidentally believe in sanding. Which reminds me that the Velcro plate on my elderly Bosch triangular sander finally gave up the ghost (just when I really needed it, of course) and so I tracked down a replacement and ordered it. (Not that easy to find, actually. The thing's twenty years old and has seen heavy use: the Bosch part would've cost as much as just buying a new sander. Luckily, Wolfcraft have a more reasonable pricing structure.) About a week later a huge heavy box arrived: instead of my long-awaited sanding plate it contained three nattily boxed sets of conduit saws, such as you use for drilling nice circular holes in walls for mounting power points and such.

Nice to have, may come in useful, three is still two too many and in any case it doesn't help my sanding problems - so I rang the supplier and said as much. "Ah yes", said the helpful woman on the hell-desk, "there seems to have been an error. We shall send you the right article straight away."

"And I may assume that your delivery-person will remove these three elegant cases of saws? Because I neither want nor need them, to be brutally honest with you."

"Oh no, keep them. We have already wasted enough money sending them to you by mistake, we do not need to pay even more to have them returned to us. Besides, we already got one." Ah well, I shall ask around friends and neighbours, see if I can't find someone to give them a good home.

But as for the oven - five burners (one a triple couronne, for woks and such) is non-negotiable, and I'm not going to pay fuck-all to buy a piece of crap (because I'm too poor to not buy quality), but do I want one huge oven, or would three smaller ones (one with a proper grill) make me happier? One gas and two electric would delight me, but there we're wandering off into hand-crafted stratospheric prices so I'll forget that. (I mean, the stoves are hand-crafted, lovingly assembled by maîtres-artisans from the finest materials, each signed with the craftsman's name. The prices too are hand-crafted, invented by the marketing people droids, and are designed to deter the hoi polloi from having nice things. Hey, I could buy a wood-fired one if I wanted, but then again I could buy a small Mercedes for the same price ...)

At this point I'd rather thought of inserting the minutes of the latest meeting of the Moux Dinning Club, but the napkin on which I jotted them down seems to have been used to mop up a massive wine spill at some point in the afternoon ...

Because we went off - about fourteen of us - to the chateau de Cavanac, a tad south-west of Carcasonne, for a birthday lunch the other Sunday. Lovely place, a good choice if you have visitors who want to try some très correcte traditional Frog cuisine: you'll not be startled by the originality of the menu but you'll not be disappointed by the quality either. Also, it's one of those rare beasts offering a fixed menu: apéro, four courses (with about six choices for each course), coffee and digestif plus all the wine you can drink for the outrageous price of 45€. The foie gras was excellent - only complaint there is one I have at every restaurant, which is "not enough thin, nicely grilled toast to go with it".

But then, although I am not French I have picked up a few French traits, and as anyone who's lived here for any length of time can tell you, the English may be a nation of shopkeepers but the French are a nation of râleurs. Show me a French-person with nothing to complain about, and I will show you a very miserable Frenchman.

Anyways, after a long quiet time I see that spam is back in my inbox, and those lovely girls Vera, Olga, Ekaterina and Inna (of the Tübz family, I assume) are reminding me just what a nice time we had a little while back. Individually, or possibly collectively - odd that I can't recall that, must be old age creeping up on me ...

I am a very conservative person and I hate chucking anything out, but I am having to seriously consider giving up my long relationship with Firefox. It was bad enough that the tabs are now hideous rectangular bricks - I guess the marketing consultants decided that "ugly" is what people want on-screen these days - but worse is that the latest version has bricked my more useful add-ons. Things like FireSSH, FireFTP, NoScript (without which I feel seriously and rather embarrassingly naked, not a pretty sight at my age): I am aware of the justification for this, I know that developers had plenty of warning if they wished to upgrade and yes, if I want to open an SSH session I can always use PuTTY but the thing is, I don't want to.

So I went back to version 52, and see I shall see how things go. Poorly, I suspect, and I shall have to change my working habits, which is always annoying.

And in other, unrelated news, the mayor's idiot nephew and the rest of the équipe municipale have been sent off to paint the railings and the park benches in the little square beside us. There are four of them: one to look after the paintpot, another to hold the brush, and two to move the benches back and forth.

Whatever, I'll leave you there. Those boxes of books are not going to shift out of the room by themselves.

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