Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Indian Summer

    One of the sweetest things we grow here is a pear, a variety called Fertility because its pollen will fertilise all other pear varieties. My mother I think had the idea that we'd have more pear trees in the orchard than in fact we ended up with. Its pears are small and they don't keep, but they are juicy and very pleasant to eat. I've spent today doing a bit of cooking with these pears, and have reduced a jug of very sweet and sticky pear syrup and used the resulting pear pulp in a cake. If you've never used apples or pears in baking, you should give it a try.
    We're enjoying an Indian summer here in Southern England. The nights are drawing in and there's a suspicion that frost can't be far away, but the days are bright and sunny with temperatures warm enough to wear a t-shirt, if not to make you sweat. It's summer's last hurrah before the descent into damp and cold, mud and rotting vegetation.
    So this'll be my first full winter at my parents place in quite a while. At home most of the time as I'm working for myself and conserving my money, the rural idyl can become an oppressive prison of crushing loneliness if I'm not careful. I should be used to it after forty years, but I remember the period when I came back from university and felt as if my life had been cut off. I'm not without friends locally so it's not all doom and gloom, but sometimes a rural winter can be hard going.
    In a couple of weeks I'll be off to Cambridgeshire, my friend C's newborn is to be baptised. If we're lucky the Indian summer will still provide, but it's more likely to be a thick tights and boots kind of day. Welcome really, what with no longer working in an office and that it's been so long since I went to anything like this I've not had the excuse to dress up for ages.
    At least I've not reached that point of any rarely-worn nice clothes I own having become unfashionable.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Day After Tomorrow

    A friend of mine has a date with a surgeon next week, down in Brighton. Not that surgeon, because my friend is having his top surgery. And I'm giving him a lift down there because I have a car and the flexibility of a self-employed person, and he doesn't.
    In a way that particular trip will be a little challenging. Not because the M25 is a particularly scary road or because Brighton is a difficult place to drive around. Or even because the Rollerskate's engine met its end there. No, it's because it's that hospital, the one where as well as FtMs getting their top surgery a significant number of UK MtF people including quite a few friends go to get their GRS done.
    I have never been speed transitioner. I've met people who see GRS as the Only Thing That Makes Them A Woman, and in some cases ignore the other far more important aspects of transition to their ultimate detriment. I have another acquaintance who had her GRS in the last month or two at the earliest possible opportunity for instance, over whom I have serious concerns about the competence of the psychiatrists who signed her off for the procedure because I don't think her Real Life Test has been as real as it should have.
    Instead I have always reserved an open mind about the procedure. It's always been something I can only qualify for at some time in the distant future, so I've concentrated instead on getting on with the job in hand. Living the life and all that, why make any decisions now. In my mind better slow and right than quick and wrong.
    So back to next week.  And next year, and the year after that. What was something I'd safely be asked about in the far distant future has become something a bit closer. I'm not quite sure I'm ready for that.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Uncle Sandor's Buick

    Stephanie Plum is one of my weaknesses. If this leaves you none the wiser, she's an accident-prone bounty hunter from Trenton, New Jersey, and she's the heroine of a long-running series of books written by Janet Evanovich. It ain't high-class literature by any means, but it's entertaining.
    A long-running thread in the Stephanie Plum novels is her inability to hold on to a succession of comedic junkyard cars. She's had them stolen, blown up, burned out, the works. And when she loses a car she always spends a while driving her family's spare car, an immaculate 1953 Buick formerly owned by her deceased Uncle Sandor. This car is indestructible and tirelessly reliable, yet she hates it as it's a behemoth in the way only 1950s American cars can be and it represents her failure to hang on to a car of her own.
    I don't share Stephanie's attitude to the Buick, I'd rather like the option of a '53, portholes and all. In fact I'd probably run it as my daily if it were mine, after all it has supernatural levels of reliability. But if Stephanie has Uncle Sandor's Buick, I have the Wreck. For most of my adult life it's been my spare car, and in times of car trouble it's been my only car.
    So with the Rollerskate suffering an embarrassingly terminal failure I've been relying on the Wreck for the last six weeks. It's nice to be bimbling around the British countryside in a five decade old car for a while, but truth be told it does get a little old. Double-declutching, brakes from another era and a touchy choke that means on the first twenty minutes of a journey that the engine doesn't like idling get to you after a while.
    A replacement for the Rollerskate has come courtesy of an elderly neighbour. The Barge was cheap and timely, but not the car I'd have chosen. A twenty year old large estate car with a somewhat agricultural diesel engine, from some perspectives it's faultless. Well maintained and a model with a reputation for reliability I can see it'll be like the Buick, a car that refuses to die.
    The Rollerskate was the only car I've ever bought new, and probably will be the only one I'll ever buy new. It could be repaired for a hefty price and I'll hang on to it in that hope, but I suspect I'd be better off finding another of the same model and using it for spares. It's another chapter of my life over, another piece of What Went Before severed. It's silly to upset myself over a car, but this one represents more than just transport.