Saturday, November 25, 2006


Why do people say they've got the flu? It feels like the flu's got me - in hard, sharp talons.

Mind you, at least my son is ten now. I got flu when he was about two, and he used to come and hit me on the head with a toy car so I'd get up and play with him. Now he gives me hugs and sympathetic little pats.

Once when he was, I think, four, I told him I couldn't play because I was full of cold. Ten minutes later he came back and asked, "Are you empty of cold yet, Mummy?"

I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Yesterday I took my son Julio to the oculist. He'd been complaining of headaches and seeing funny things. I thought it was probably just that he needed new glasses, but we both thought it was best to get it checked out properly.

Why do they give people an appointment for 3:45 if they're not going to see you until 4:30? and then after the briefest look he said that Julio needed much stronger glasses, but to get it just right he needed to dilate the pupils. So we went back out to reception where they put stingy drops in his eyes, and said we had to wait 20 minutes for it to take effect. Julio was already very bored, so we popped out to a bar. (Julio wanted to go to a games arcade because he hasn't for some time, but I insisted that there wasn't time.)

We got back on time. And then we waited another 20 minutes. And then the doctor saw Julio again, and said that his prescription had more than doubled. In fact the difference was so great that if we gave Julio his new prescription, he'd feel sick and dizzy. So he recommended a change now (he wrote it down) and the rest in three months. Then he had a good conversation with Julio about Pokemon and we left. Fifty euros please.

Julio couldn't see too well with his pupils dilated. I was very glad it was cloudy. I thought we'd better get the new glasses ordered straight away, so we went to the opticians. They said they had the lenses in stock and could fit them in about 20 minutes. Please to come back then.

So Julio got his trip to the games arcade. Although when we got there, half of it had been converted to a cyber-cafe, and most of the rest was bust. But we had two good games of table football.

Then we went back for the glasses (22 euros please - not nearly as bad as I'd feared). Julio still had his pupils very dilated (or as he said, diluted!) and with the new glasses he kept saying it felt like he was a head or more taller.

This morning Julio's pupils were still dilated (or even diluted) but he could read the back of a cereal packet so I sent him to school.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Things are looking up

Things are going rather well here.

Inky's face is getting better. The infection's gone, the wound's scabbed over and shrunk, and she has a little bit of fur growing back where the vet had to shave her. Believe me, on a black cat, 1 mm of fur looks a lot better than bare skin. She's happier too, and very affectionate.

I finally made a little money with Adsense - the targeted ads on my web site. Not a lot, but now that I've earned a little, I feel I can probably earn more.

Recently I've been setting myself one writing target and one domestic target every morning, and usually meeting them. The result is that I have an almost-finished short story and a house that's almost recovered from last month's exhibition.

Best of all, my son's working more at school, and got a good mark in his Language exam. So we had pancakes for tea.

And we still live on La Palma. Every time I see a charter jet leaving the island, I think of all the tourists going home and I think, "Nyer nyer na nyer nyer." I know it's immature, but even after almost 16 years here, I can't help it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

More wild mushrooms

I went hunting wild mushrooms again with the same group as last week. I found out it's a formal society, so I've joined (only 20 Euros). The fungi in the photos beside this paragraph aren't edible, just photogenic, but we found plenty of others. There were the same sort as I took home last time - Russula turci - but when I took tiny nibbles they all burned my mouth, which meant they weren't edible. I also found three large fungi which I hoped were Russula delica. There's another, inedible muchroom that looks very similar, but the cut stem stayed white and they didn't burn my tongue, so Russula delica they are. We also found a lot of Lyophylum ovisporum which i haven't tried before. Unfortunately most of them were too old to eat, but I've got enough for past sauce for two. Oh, and I got a few little nacidas Rhizopogon obtextus, which look very like new potatoes poking out of the ground, plus two Niscalos - Lactarius sanguifluus - which look dreadful but everyone said, "Oh you lucky thing!"

Lyophylum ovisporum
Russula delica

And this time I didn't dash back to my family as soon as the fungi had been identified. I stayed and joined in the picnic. There was russula omlet and pizza, plus bread with local sausage and cheese, nuts, crisps, and tiramisu and chantarel liquer to finish. I'm already looking forward to next Sunday.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Making some Noise

We're going to have a new cultural magazine on the island, called Ruido, which means "Noise". I volunteered to sort out the web site, but then someone else volunteered, and to be honest, I was relieved.

My friend Norma is one of the editorial team for the magazine, and she came round this afternoon. She's a musician, and we spent some time on her web site ( Then she mentioned that the person who was going to do Ruido's website might not work out. The upshot was that we created a "Ruido" page for her web site, then an English version of the same page, and then I added the English page to my own site. You can see it at

And then I changed the background colour for my own site, to pale green. I think it goes better with the photos. Please let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Toadstool,part 2

Well on Wednesday I finally got time to clean the russula fungi and stew them. It took a while because the pine needles were well stuck onto the top, and because I had to take a tiny nibble of each one. Any hot ones had to be dicarded. And we finally ate them last night, with cream and pasta.

They were delicious. And we're all still alive.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Poor little Inky

We have two cats, Bib and Inky. Both are black, but Bib, the mother, has a white bib under her chin.

Last week Inky came home with her face all swollen. I only just had time to get her to the vet before they shut at 8pm, so the vet said to leave her overnight. It was an abscess almost as big as a golf ball and she'd need a small operation under general anaesthetic.

When I collected her on Wednesday, the poor thing had a dirty great drainage tube poking out of her cheek, and the vet said I'd need to squirt hydrogen peroxide into the hole every day for five days to prevent re-infection. He gave me a seringe without a needle to do it with.

Can you imagine a cat sitting still while you do that? In his autobiography (On Writing) Stephen King describes the daily cleaning of the pins into his broken leg as being "like someone poured gasoline over my leg and then set light to it." That sounds like hydrogen peroxide.

On Wednesday morning I wrapped her in a towel so she couldn't escape or scratch me. Then I squirted the stuff into the wound.

It was like a cartoon. The cat shot at least a foot into the air and whizzed out of the door. I didn't see her again until late evening.

On Thursday it was surprisingly easy to catch her, and I wrapped her up much more tightly, so I could do the job properly. Boy, did the poor thing howl.

On Friday and Saturday I couldn't get near her, although I did manage another squirt on Sunday.

And on Monday the drainage tube was supposed to come out. Well I finally caught her in the evening, wrapped her, and pulled on the tube. Nothing doing. My husband went for some tweezers. I managed to get a grip on it, but it still wouldn't come. Then I noticed that there was a stitch going through it. My heart hammered, but I managed to cut the stitch and pull it out, and Inky didn't seem too bothered by my efforts. After that the tube came easily, but there was pus with it, so I had to give the poor thing another squirt of the dreaded H2O2.

And to my astonishment she didn't even leave the room afterwards, and she was letting me stroke her again within ten minutes.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


One of my friends goes hunting wild mushrooms every Sunday, and today I went with her.

We were in a group of about twenty people, all spread out over the hillside in the pine forest. I was hoping to find nacidas - the only wild fungus I can reliably recognise on the island, because they look like little new potatoes poking out of the ground. Well I did find nacidas. I found three, and they were all too old to eat. (When they're old the inside turns from white to grey.)

What I did find was lots of a mushroom called Russula Turci. They grow under the pine needles and it's easy to walk over them before you see them. I pulled up enough to fill my basket.

And then everybody got together to show the expert (a high-school science teacher called Pepe) what they'd found and have it identified. And we got a little lecture on how to collect fungi so that it could fruit again. You don't pull it up, you cut it.