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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Still in the Highlands

The wind has risen, blowing mild from the south, buffeting the house, making it rattle. I persuaded mum to come out for a while. We went to the Black Isle, over the Kessock Bridge via Munlochie to Fort Rose. A rising westerly gale blew directly down the grey waters of the Moray Firth, the rougher for blowing against the flood.
"You walk the dogs. I'll stay in the car."
Mum would prefer to stay in her house but forces herself to go on expeditions when she's not feeling like it. She was glad to be home, to read and have tea.
"I do like the Black Isle. It always feels like it got passed by. It's not an island and certainly not since the Kessock Bridge but it feels like it's cut off from the mainland....He may have been a groper but I'm sure Strauss-Kahn was set up. Don't you think?"
She's finished a piece in the December NYRB by Edward Jay Epstein with schematics of the first and 28th floor of the New York Sofitel. I so like that magazine. It reminds me there are intelligent people out there thinking and writing about the world. I've enjoyed The Revolutionary Shias by Malise Ruthven in the same edition. reviewing Shi’ism: A Religion of Protest by Hamid Dabashi. I appreciate reading this the more for what I've learned from Dhiaa.
Shiism, as Hamid Dabashi explains in his challenging and brilliant new book, is a perfect foil for power but unimpressive as a modern state ideology..
I am avoiding all chores. Sharon feeds us - apart from snacks for lunch and tea, a succession of suppers - spagetti bolognese, kedgeree, shepherd's pie, steak and chips, macaroni cheese, biryani, rack of lamb, sausages and mash...All with extra treats, plus wine and cava and tea and coffee, along with puddings - crème brûlée, pot au chocolate, crème caramel, apple crumble, apple charlotte...Lin's tart on the phone, knowing all this, while she's fielding work at home, having succeeded in selling the Handsworth Helping Hands* tipper for a far better price than first quoted, giving us a healthy float to plan work using our transit van and all the tools, arranging meetings...
Hi All. I've arranged a meeting with Barry Toon (who runs the Selly Oak project) for Tuesday afternoon at 1.30p.m. Mike has already said he'd like to come. If Rachel from Trident Reach comes, that'll be three of us, which is enough really, but let me know if you particularly want to come as well. Questions we'll be asking Barry:
1. What free services do you offer and who to?
2. What 'paid for' services do you offer and who to?
3. How much do you charge for 'paid for' services?
4. What are your main grant sources?
We'll also be talking about charitable status, running costs, man-hours worked per week, employees, pay and employment rights, how clients are found, how 'membership' of the project works, how much admin time is necessary, work and finance recording systems.........if you think of anything to add to the list, please let me know before Tuesday. See you at the meeting on Thursday. Lin
She's also doing our tax returns including Amy's, and looking after her dad, taking him to Cheshire for his first preparatory appointment for radiotherapy.
Once back from our drive to the Black Isle, I left mum at home, content, and set out for a walk with the dogs, clambering up a steep slope through the pine plantation over ploughed ridges, fallen trunks, ditches, dodging low branches, the dogs dashing blithely about as I struggle to ascend the rough terrain of the wood.
In the woods above Inverarnie
I knew I'd meet a track before I was caught in the dark. I carry a torch. Once on the high forest road, I rested a moment, ate some chocolate, walked back to Westerlairgs which I've passed four times this last week. Then home to scones with butter, strawberry jam and tea. Mum asked me about my walk. She knows the ground so well; even though she's not been on her feet unaided for several years, she re-lives my walks, turn by turn. It's almost as if I'm competing with her in knowledge of local terrain, catching her with accounts of things that have changed. We got out things she and Sharon had bought for Amy, sorting and folding, for me to carry them home on Tuesday.
Sorting baby things
*formerly Central Handsworth Practical Care Project
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Latest reports within the IMF (via Jim Potts' blog). As the prospect of rescuing the Republic's economy weakens, people have been making choices....
Helena Smith for the Guardian, 13 May 2011 Greek crisis forces thousands of Athenians into rural migration. Comment on Democracy Street  and see 'the puzzling invisibility of the new'
Rachel Donadio for the New York Times 8 January 2012  With Work Scarce in Athens, Greeks Go Back to the Land
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Mark in Ano Korakiana has sent me a note:
Hi Simon...just letting you know that your xmas cards have arrived today... so many thanks for them will deliver around the village tomorrow...also just got my sister's xmas cards as well so - yes - the postal service is crap here. I am still waiting on a parcel that left the UK on the 13th of December and was last tracked in Andorra on the 23rd after that it has vanished. Cheers Mark
Blimey. Lin and I posted ours - to Mark and Sally, Paul and Cinta, Lefteris and Vasilik, Fortis and family and Effie and Adoni - about the same time as the parcel Mark says got lost in Andorra - over 1300 miles from Corfu. So did they lose it there or was it lost in Greece? No idea.

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