Daily Prompt: The Day The Scaffolding Went Down

Scaffolding Removal

I have a feeling that I am sometimes being watched by WordPress. Of course not, but their suggestions for a prompt often cover my present state of affairs. It began this morning when I was greeted by a troop of workers heading for my appartment block. Yes, it was the day of the scaffolding removal. It is now 4 o’clock in the afternoon and peace reigns. There was a clank of metal against metal, but the builders worked silently. They had no need for communication, because each of them knew his part in the play.

Over the past 7 months we had lived in noise, it became part of our life. The worst was the removal of the outside walls and insulation. This could not be done by hand, but machines were needed. After lunch you settled for a midday sleep and it was a signal. At first just a little hammering noise to say “hello, time to work” and this developed into a crescendo when there were 2 or 3 pneumatic chisels all working in accord with each other. I slept on and the noise amalgamated itself in my dreams, it became part of the sleep. Nino, the chief of sorts told me constantly, “only this week and then it will be quiet”, but Nino’s idea of time measurement was a little different to mine.

Scaffolding Removal

The weeks became months and we greeted the insulation experts with their welding machines. The regular bangs and chiselling noises became flame throwing effects. There was also background noise. Eventually the balconies above were given the new tiles, but the sizes were not exactly as they should be. This was no problem. There was even a machine to deal with this, a size grinder. It was equipped with a circular stone cutter and each individual tile (there were at least 2-300) was ground to shape. The cutter was placed near enough to be heard during the working time, and it seemed that the person involved in this work had an 8 hour day, although we were all glad when he had his lunch break. This repetitive grinding noise did improve when one of the neighbours noticed that the grinding saw was no longer as sharp as it should be. We still had the annoyance of the screeching of the saw, but the job went quicker.

When the painters arrived, it was almost a recuperation, a lull: their paint brushes made no noise. It was the interlude to the symphony, something like the William Tell Ouverture. The middle part represents the lulling of the waves on the lake.

And oday was the grand finale, the storm on the lake: the crescendo with nuts and bolts being thrown from the second floor and pieces of now unwanted scaffolding being removed, leaving a space where they once were. Even Mr. Swiss joined in with the broom sweeping the small bits and pieces away. At the end of day silence reigned. I clapped as the last worker left us and took a walk around our block to admire the unscaffolded building.

The day the scaffolding went down

Behold our new freedom without bars in front of the porch. See our newly painted light green walls, very light green and our clean windows which will no longer have to be cared for almost daily. We can breathe again, we now only have the sound of silence. I think I will have to play some music, perhaps the 1812 Ouverture, to liven the place up.

The Day the Scaffolding Went Down

Daily Prompt: Lets Google It

Magpie Nest

There is a tree opposite the room where my computer lives. In summer the tree is covered with leaves, as most trees are. When the season changes the leaves fall and discloses the secrets of the tree.

In the top branches there is a collection of twigs. They are not growing on the tree, but are a collection placed in a strategic place to hold them firmly. It has been there for a few years. There must be a reason. It is too big for a sparrow or tit and the crow colony do their own thing in a group of trees surrounding our apparment block.

It can only be the magpie. I decided to enlighten myself and asked Internet. There were similar photos of magpie nests which confirmed my suspicions.

There is no reason not to know something today if you have a computer, even an ipad or smartphone: just google it, and you will find the answer, complete with illustrations and perhaps even a film in this case. I had really been wondering about this tree assembly and my suspicion is confirmed. It has been in this particular tree for a few years. Either the magpies just leave it when the babies fly the nest, or they are a lazy bunch and use it every year.

I am a researcher, like to know the reason why, although not everything can be relied on googling it. My neurologist expressly warned me about googling information of my MS illness,  as not all sources can be relied upon. There is always a certain amount of “common sense” to be applied in googling.

Some time ago I was searching for a weird growth on a basil plant I bought at the supermarket.

Basil and Dodder 23.09 (4)

It began as a few white threads and I really thought it was producing new roots from a joint in the stem. However it grew and was slowly winding itself around the plant and even itself. I asked my gardner and he had never seen anything like it. I posted it on my site here and I was lucky. A very helpful fellow blogger saw my photo. He lives in a valley somewhere in California, but informed me that this was probably something known as dodder, which I had never heard of living in the wilds of Europe.

Of course I checked this and found it to be a parasite common in California that engulfs plants to the extent that you only see the dodder growth eventually. European dodder does exist, according to Internet, but this Californian species seems to be the daddy of them all. How it arrived in Switzerland I do not know, it was probably lurking in the earth waiting for a chance to go forth and multiply. There would have been a danger of it spreading to other plants. I learned something new and also met a very helpful colleague in connection with plant knowledge.

Advice was offered from Facebook colleagues that it was probably common bindweed, but this specimen had no flowers, just an eerie looking stalk that curled everywhere. If someone had suggested it was a triffid I would have probably believed it.

So if you really want to be enlightened then ask Google, but remember Google is man-made and we tend to misinterpret the facts, or adapt their answer to suit ourselves. In the words of my dad “What came first, the chicken or the egg”. Google and my dad never found the answer to that question and dad passed away two years ago aged 100 and 7 months, so perhaps it is better if we google it. You have a 50% chance of getting the right answer.

Daily Prompt: Let’s Google It

Daily Prompt: Daily Disapointments

Vermicelles

Life is full of disappointments. This morning Mr. Swiss was in town for a few food week-end bits and pieces and brought home for each of us Vermicelles. Ok it is something Swiss, although might be available in other countries. The brown spaghetti stuff is actually mashed chestnuts, mixed with sugar, and forced through a spaghetti shape making device. It is served topped with whipped cream . It should also be balancing on whipped cream but this was the unexpected as some sort of yellow substitute cream had been used on the base. It was obvious that someone somewhere was saving money on this production.

Expectations are not always what they should be. When I awake in the morning why stop hugging the bed when you can stay, stretch out a hand and grip your iPad. The world is OK, everything is where it should be and so you check on your mails first of all – it is routine. You discover that your e-mails were updated yesterday, but what about today? On further examination there is a dottd circule that is turning and finding no rest. Beneath the page is says  “no connection possible to bluewin” which happense to be my e-mail server. The next visit is Facebook, but the words “no internet connection” on a red background to emphasise the point appear. Your world is upside down. Perhaps if I forget the whole thing for a few minutes it will go away and so I place the iPad on the bedside table and turn over.

In the meanwhile Mr. Swiss enters the bedroom, he is an early riser and does his own thing. Before I could ask the burning question, he already informs me that our Internet connection is down. This happend about a week ago, where you get that exclamation mark on your wheel of WIFI. We still do not know why, but neighbours of ours said it happened to them as well and it all disappeared after half an hour. However this time it was not half an hour. I decided to leave the bed and make some breakfast. In the meanwhile my computer was now up and running, although no internet. Mr. Swiss had no internet. Was it just us, or the complete world – our modem was functioning.

There is always a positive side to the negative, as I could eat my breakfast with no online interruptions, as online seemed to be permanently offline. I even got through my cleaning programme and shower half an hour earlier. I could not even read the online daily local newspaper to check on who had died yesterday. I just asked what Mr. Swiss missed most of all, and he said more or less the same, although I believe he has more interest in the world developments, although he admitted that he also reads the obits.

His newly rediscovered Facebook page was also out of action, although I am also a facebooker, but mainly an observer. However, it was all missing and today is his birthday.

Eventually Mr. Swiss went into action and called by our local provider’s office in town. It seems there was a cable problem and they even had to call out an emergency repair troop. Both the villages of Biberist and Feldbrunnen were suffereing. They were cut off from their online world. In the meanwhile I took a few photos outside to pass time and processed them on my computer, but could not upload them to my photo site. Mr. Swiss phoned again to check, but I had to disappoint him that our internet world was still hovering somewhere between death and disaster. As I put the phone down there was a thunderbolt and lightening from above, fanfares and a halo surrounded my computer. The exclamation mark disappeared and I was online again.

It was now 11.00 a.m., at least 4 hours of conscious non-online life, but I realised something. I can live without it, even if I did check my computer every 5 minutes to see if anything had happened in the meanwhile. Who needs Internet, we can alwas read a book or knit.

Clouds 21.10 (1)

Daily Prompt: Daily Disapointments

Daily Prompt: Let me Out

Entrance to remand prison, Solothurn

A photo of the local remand prison is always a good symbol for not being released. It is at the beginning of the path to the local hospital. If you happen to be an inmate in the hospital, as I was once, you can hear the prisoners calling through the windows to their wives and girlfriends who wait outside in the evenings for a word from those that are not released. It is alarming to hear it when laying in a hospital bed, but I eventually got used to it. Of course it is not allowed, but it happens regularly.

I am no longer inspired by the Daily Prompt Words. I see a word and should write something about it. I am not locked in anywhere, so how come I must write about being released. Do you really want to hear about being released from my schooldays. I have written about that so often it even bores me.

Entering a working life – another 40-50 years of doing things you have to do. That is also now behind me, but I never felt that I was imprisoned. I had to live and so I was paid to do a job. Food costs money. Now I am really on my own. I get a monthly pension, can do what I want and when I want. Oh, just a minute, I have a doctor’s appointment this week, I have to visit the store for food. I have a meal to cook, and the garden needs looking after.

And life is now one big holiday, because I am free, although my sickness insurance has to be paid. There are a few other bills that should be organised and now I have got a new credit card because the other one is expiring: no problem. Dates of expiry should be altered, but it can all be dealt with by computer if I find the place where I have to do it.

You are never really released from anything, there is always something that should be done. But one day there will be nothing more to do, it will be over. I will at last be released from everything I have to do and only do what I want to do, although then it will be too late, because there will be nothing left that you have to do. The others will do it for you, like I did it for those that were released from their burdens.

Daily Prompt: Let Me Out

Daily Prompt: Express is just a word

Renovation

Since amost 7 months builders have been renovating our appartment block. 7 months is a long time. Suddently in the last couple of weeks everyone is here: the electrician, the painter, the plumber. It seems to be the end spurt, the scaffolding will be removed next week and so they can no longer climb onto the roof or the various balconies. Those working above just drop the empty cans of cola from the top floors. They collect them before they go home.

When I was an export clerk in my working life, everything had to be despatched express. There seemed to be machines standing still all over the world waiting for the delivery of our tools. Some of the tools were not even manufactured, but still shapeless pieces of metal in the machine waiting to be formed. If you had a contract to fulfil, it all had to go express. Telephone calls to the factory asking when the tool series would be finished were daily routine. Somehow the job got completed, but it was all luck. I sometimes wonder how I survived, but did I?

When I began to work in the field of Swiss industry 30 years before I was retired, it was work to be proud of. Your job was to send tools according to the customer’s orders, and the customers were the king. They paid your wages indirectly and gave you work.  You followed the orders until despatch. Telephone calls were made to other countries to clarify urgent details. You had a telex machine to write to your customers, which was later replaced with a fax because it was quicker. And then computer communication arrived. Suddenly things were even faster. You were handling independently. There was no need for a boss because you knew what had to be done. I am glad I am retired, because I got a taste of the future in my last months when express became a daily word and my health began to suffer. I had to stop working, according to the doctor as I was heading for no-man’s land.

Since being retired I can look at it all from a distance and realise how things have developed something like a science fiction novel. In my parents and grandparents time you had a job and a wage. Today a job has become an automatic process and it is not certain that it will exist forever, A does one part of the job, B does the next and then it passed onto C etc. etc. In a larger company you no longer have alone responsibility. There is no interest in what you are doing. I know that my job no longer exists. The products are now delivered to a centre over the border where there are delivered direct to the end customers, and no longer via your agents. This began when I was working and now has been completed. There is no longer responsibility, just a conveyer belt of work process churning out results. Interest is what you are doing? Forget it, just do it.

Of course, it is much quicker, and a day after the order is received the tools are on the machine in another country and everyone is happy. But are the workers really happy. I was happy the day I walked out of my workplace and knew that I had got my life back. I was now the unwanted material and even that gets recycled.

Tool School

Daily Prompt: Bravery at the Steering Wheel

Feldbrunnen to Langendorf 19.01 (11)

They are lurking everywhere, waiting for an innocent person like me to make a mistake, but I have fooled them all, because if  I enter a car it is on the passenger side. I was a late starter  and was 36 years old when I took the driving test. It was a long job, and I almost gave up in between. Even my instructor had doubts. but we still greet each other today if we meet in the supermarket. He survived me so I suppose I should congratulate him. I had a total of approximately 90 driving lessons, which almost deserves an entry in the Guiness Book of Records. However, I still have my driving licence today, although I no longer really drive.

Everyone thought a miracle had happened when I passed the test the first time and at last I had a licence to kill drive. When I was a working woman I did not have a big choice, and had my own car. With time Mr. Swiss and I became golden oldies and only needed one car for various shopping safaris. I now had a chauffeur, so why drive a car. After half a year as a passenger Mr. Swiss found I should drive now and again otherwise I might forget how it works. I was quite happy sitting in the passenger seat.

When I became 70 years old I had to take a driving intelligence test to see if my body was still qualified to grip a steering wheel. I was driving now and again, but only if I had to and suddenly everyone began to encourage me to drive again. In the meanwhile I had been diagnosed with MS, but even my neurologist found it would be important for me to keep my driving licence and so I reported to my doc for the golden oldie test.  Of course I passed. It was all ablout putting a cross in the right place on the form. I was supposed to walk backwards in a straight line, but we left that one, because I could not even walk forwards in a straight line.

Eventually I was finished and everyone clapped and said I could keep my driving licence. I still drive today, but only when necessary. Mr. Swiss can do it much better than I can. I am now the emergency driver. I told my neurologist that I have difficulties with my left foot and leg. He found that as I was driving an automatic car I did not need anything left of my body because I would brake with my right foot and did not have to change gears. What a lovely man.

Today I really only drive if absolutely necessary. I do not like or enjoy driving, and prefer to take photos from the passenger seat.

This photo is posed for the camera. I am standing next to door on the passenger side of the car.

Me and car

Daily Prompt: Bravery at the Steering Wheel

Daily Prompt: A risky visit to town

Solothurn cobbles

A few thousand years ago there was a Roman holiday and the Romans  came to Switzerland. There were no tunnels through the alps so they had to walk over the top in their leather sandals. They probably had frostbite if they were wearing their togas. Perhaps they had a few sheepskins.

They eventually arrived in Switzerland and for some reason they decided to stay and even form a few settlements. One of them was a town they called Solodorum, which today is known as Solothurn and is a five minute drive along the road from my village. Today we decided to walk in the steps of the Romans and pay a visit to this town. Mr. Swiss has walking problems due to his back and I walk with a cane.

Actually the purpose behind the visit was to organise a smartphone for No. 1 son. He still had one of the original mobile phones. It was working OK, but you had to use a magnifying glass to read the screen. Mr. Swiss and I parted after the car was parked as I would be slowing everyone down with my pace and I had my camera with me, taking photos of what the Romans left behind. Of course we have modernised the town since their visit, or did we?

This is the risky bit. I am not a super walker, but I can do it – no problem. However about 20 years ago our town authorities decided to do it like the Romans. We have no traffic in the old town of Solothurn, only for bringing goods and delivering hotel guests. The rest is walking. So back to the authorities and their bright idea. The Romans did it their own way and we decided to do a modern copy. All roads in the old town are now the proud possessors of cobblestones. I do not wear high heels on my shoes, I am tall enough, which would be an advantage. If you happen to have feet that do not fit the stones, you feel every edge and circular surface of these wonderful lookalike Roman cobbles. You might even trip on the edge of a stone.

Today I survived, although there were a few near accidents. I caught up with Mr. Swiss in the telephone place and son No. 1 was now the proud possessor of a new mobile iPhone 7. The guy in the shop even organised it all for him. The next obstacle will be to show him how to do it. He might be autistic, but he is quite good at working things out. He is the best furniture builder if we get a flat pack. Whilst we are till working it out and searching for the missing screws, he has already assembled the foundations of the cupboard or whatever it is to build, We tend to do the work by uttering profanities, but he remains silent and concentrated.

After purchasing the phone we parted ways. I offered to carry the bag with the phone home for him as he wanted to stay in town. He insisted on keeping it himself. I am sure he has no problem with understanding this new masterpiece of technology.

After a refreshment Mr. Swiss and I continued on our way to the car, which was not easy, after battling our way over cobblestones. Did those Romans have a secret recipe for making leather sandals? Perhaps they shaped the soles of their shoes according to the size and shape of the cobbles or perhaps their feet were cobble shaped. Photo: an original from the afternoon walk.

Daily Prompt: A risky visit to town