Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Environmental damage

In this country is very difficult to do your bit for the environment, mainly due to the lack of household recycling. It hurts to throw all the rubbish for normal collection. I try to buy goods with as little packaging as possible, or in large sizes, which reduces packaging although it makes the shopping heavy. I also take my own shopping bags, so I don't need plastic bags, but if I overshop the bags I acquire are reused, mainly as rubbish bags. At home, I limit the use of chemicals, preferring to use white vinegar to bleach, and ecolaundry products etc. I have some (though I must get more) long-life bulbs and I try not to leave electric goods on standby or lights on. I'm sure there is more I could do, but I hope my little helps.

You can imagine my horror on Sunday when the management company of the flat subjected me to compulsory pest control. They turned up early and sprayed toxic chemicals on my bed, bedding, settee, cushions, and curtains, making the air unbreathable and me choke. They were spraying for bedbugs, and were doing every flat to stop cross-contamination. Do I can see out at the oil-field camps they have to do every room if they get an outbreak, because there are guys moving into and out of the camp all the time, so bedbugs can spread, but an apartment building? Do they think it's a brothel and everyone is bedhopping? I hope not!

But that wasn't all... late afternoon a man came and pumped evil smelling stuff in the bathroom, and kitchen to kill cockroaches, which we do have a few. I normally wash up as soon as possible. If I see a roach, I squish it, then carefully wipe it up, and use lots of vinegar in the drains. I only see an occasional one, so I guess it works. Roaches can be a big problem if left, so I can see the sense in doing the whole building. Problem was yesterday, I saw the biggest roach in my kitchen since I moved in happily wandering around the kitchen. So much for chemicals!

On a more cheerful note, last night I went to hear the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra play again. It was late 19th century Russian music, which is not my favourite classical style, although the orchestra played it well. However, as the programme stated "the finale is a jolly romp, wholly un-serious... It slithers through many extraordinary keys... but the irreverent main tune has the last laugh". Couldn't have said it better myself! ha ha Who wrote that? Actually, the last movement of the Prokofiev was quite fun, and the orchestra seemed to enjoy playing it, but I wouldn't describe it as a "jolly romp".

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Shocks, buggies, & reindeer

I was drying my face this morning when something fell out of the towel and landed with a loud PLOP in the bin. Looking down I saw a large, fat gecko, acting like a bike on a Wall of Death, it took 2 laps around the inside of the bin, and launched itself off, out, and up the wall. It scuttled off somewhere else, obviously to make me jump again when I come across it unexpectedly later today.

I'm now back in Muscat after a too short visit to mum and dad's in UK. The highlight of the return trip was that I got a ride in one of the buggies to the gate at Heathrow, all flashing lights and annoying bleeping noise. I never realised how fast they can go and was quite worried I would fall out on some of the down slopes. I had to take the buggy as I'm recovering pathetically slowly from the op, and still find it difficult to walk distances and take stairs. Am I the only one who thinks that it was gross to be given a video of the surgery? I can watch tv shows like ER, but to see inside myself... ugh. Back to travelling, I have to say, with the exception of the ground crew on arrival at Heathrow, all the BA staff were fantastic, especially both flight crews.

I finished the novel set in the Arctic Circle yesterday. It was a bit strange, but because dad & I had watched a documentary on the Sami reindeer herders the evening I started the book, and a big part of the novel was set around the Sami community and their herding, it gave the book some sense. This morning I started an autobiography, Days of Obligation: An argument with my Mexican father by Richard Rodriguez, a mestizo writer who compares his Mexican origins with life in America; sort of an anthropological study humanised. His prose is great and after a few "easy reads" these last few weeks, it is nice to read something well written.

Finally another shock, last October a colony of Omani bees set up home on the doorframe of my kitchen terrace. They stayed all through winter, and kept expanding the hive, despite my being told they would only stay a few months. Then, suddenly last month, 90% of them left for a new terrace, with the stragglers leaving whilst I was in hospital. This morning, due to wasps eating the cone, the hive was knocked down and a very nice surprise... At the top of the hive, they had left honey! I now have a container of my own Omani honey yum. Sx

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Virtual travel

More travelling both virtual, through books, and for real! Ten days after being discharged from hospital I (stupidly because it was too soon) flew to UK to be looked after by mum and dad. Due to immobility I was wheelchaired to the plane, and got the unique experience of going up in the lift (where the meals get sent up) onto the plane... Not an experience I wish to repeat as it was very wobbly and jerky and I thought the wheelchair was going to wheel itself off into space, sending me crashing onto the tarmac. Due to BA incompetence at Heathrow - not the new T5 but at T4- I was made to walk down the stairs so didn't have to. When I return to Muscat tomorrow I shall limp slowly on and off board ;) It will be nice to get back to the warmth, but I'm not looking forward to being back in Muscat. It's a lovely place, but I guess I'll soon be ready to leave.

Onto the virtual travelling, I read Carol Drinkwater's The Olive Farm, which is a true account of her buying and restoring a house in southern France. I followed this with a trip over the water and an easy read set in America's Shenandoah. It brought back fabulous memories of driving through that region one autumn. It also made me miss the friend I travelled with, along with the beautiful scenery. Next, and the book I've just sarted, off to Lapland brrrr. Not got an opinion on it yet as only read a few pages.

That's it for now, I'll let you know how the flight goes and my latest plans chiao - that's a hint ;)

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Bed-rest boredom?

The week started with a hospital stay to have a minor operation, and here I am almost six days later finally feeling the confines of my flat, so must be feeling better. The bed-rest is good in that I've been doing lots of reading, and watched some DVD's, but has been bad in the amount of tv I have watched, though I've drawn the line at American soaps and Eastenders. It's also bad in that I have ideas for some drawings and paintings, but they will have to stay in my head a while longer until I can sit for longer than 5 minute intervals. Plus I don't have internet access, enough said? I'm currently reading a book by Russian author Olga Grushin The Dream Life of Sukhanov. The book's good, beautifully written, but I keep having to turn back pages as I confuse the characters; the names seem very similar. Yesterday I read the beach book Undercurrents by Tamara McKinley set in Queensland, Australia and it made me want to revisit there. I was shocked to work out that I was there EIGHTEEN years ago; made me feel very old. The book I took to hospital was the heavyweight Travelling with Djinns by Jamal Mahjoub, which is an account of man's journey with his son through Europe. I'm not sure what others have thought of this book, but I felt the author was trying to show off with his constant references to various works of literature, Persian poets, history etc., which distracted me from the tale. So you can tell, in my reading I'm bouncing around the world even if I can't physically leave my flat yet.