Tag Archives: Environment

Wussy Malone and the Mystery of the Missing Courage

It’s a strange thing, but one of my weirdest adult terrors has always been with taking my car to the garage to have work done. Obviously it’s ridiculous, a mature, well educated woman who turns into a cowering wreck when faced with a man whose job is changing oil and windscreen wipers for a living. Please don’t get me wrong, being a mechanic is a job requiring skill and dexterity and some mechanics really are wonderful, it’s just very sad that a few of these men seem to take great delight in their ability to patronise any woman who dares to set foot inside their realm. For five years now, we’ve used the same garage for all the work on our car, and they have mostly proved to be reliable and honest. There was the time when I arrived at eleven in the morning to book the car in, only to be told to come back in an hour when they had finished their sandwiches, and the patronising way the owner treated me when I first went in and he assumed that because I didn’t know the Norwegian for head-light, that I was generally an idiot, but on the whole they good has outweighed the bad, hence the reason we have continued to return.

The first inkling I had that I might have to go back in this time after the service was when one of the small light-bulb-covers over the number plate fell off when I closed the boot, just the day after the car had been returned. When I looked at it, it had obviously been broken at one end, and rather than order another, they presumably stuck it back in place and hoped that we would just never notice. I wondered whether I should go in and say something, but it seemed such a little thing that I shoved it back in place, and hoped that it would stay on.

The next setback came when we received the bill. Checking through it, I noticed sadly that they had charged me for new windscreen wiper blades. All very well, but the blades had been changed literally the day before I took the car in for service. Obviously that sounds stupid, but I was due to drive to the airport at night, and stormy weather was forecast, and they were really awful. So bad that driving with them was a nightmare. Again, I wondered about going in, but was put off by thinking that really it was my own fault for not telling them when I took the car in that the blades had been changed. I went to see my friend Lynne on Monday, and she said she would go in and at least ask… and again I toyed with the idea and procrastinated because of my fear, and the additional mental block I have because I know that if I go in, I would have to try to ask in Norwegian. There is definitely something about speaking a language not my own that makes me feel insecure when going in to discuss anything. I even use English when I go to see my GP because he patronises me a whole lot less when it’s him that’s struggling to find the words.

Anyway, several days later, and yesterday another midnight trip to the airport, and another dreadful drive because one of the dipped headlights wasn’t working, and that was the last straw. This morning I finally took a deep breath and marched into the garage with my list of woes. I managed it all in Norwegian, and I don’t know if that was what tipped the balance, but the garage owner couldn’t have been more helpful. He has ordered a new cover for the light, he changed the bulb in the headlight without charging me (he’s charged me twelve pounds before once for doing it) and best of all, he told me that as Charlie has already paid the bill, I should remind him next time I’m in, and he won’t charge me for the wiper blades. Given that they cost about fifty pounds, that’s a significant saving. I left the place with my heart singing. I’d like to think that the next time I have a problem, that I will sail through, but I suspect that my innate cowardice might reassert itself.

When I popped into the Co-Op afterwards I was delighted to find that they had both lobster and sashimi salmon going cheap, so there’ll be a good (and easy) dinner tonight.

In other news, Marion is too unwell today to go for our Vernal Equinox celebratory walk. I’d very much like to return to a place we went on one of the evening walks from Charlie’s work. It would be lovely to see it in daylight.
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Marion and I have done a few good walks lately, so here are some pictures.
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Hope you feel better next week Marion.

And now I have to go and bake. Due to my poor housewifery skills, I have somehow managed to let some milk go sour. I can feel some scones coming on. Anyone for afternoon tea?

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Revelling in inefficiency – and a cause for celebration

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It’s not the driest of weather today. In fact, it’s been pouring all morning and as it’s only about three degrees above zero, it isn’t conducive to going out. I was meant to go for a walk today with my friend Marian, however when she called to suggest coming round for a coffee, and perhaps a trip to the Co-Op, I wasn’t in the mood to say no to the change of plan.

I’ve never really understood those who love to shop, and yet this morning, bathed in the brightness of the fluorescent lighting, and with parts of the store all set out for Christmas, it was infinitely more cheering than going to the beach. On the way home, she mentioned that she had to do the hoovering. It’s a hard job, she told me because they have two cats and a dog but, she added, it always helped nowadays that she could think about all the exercise she was doing as she manoeuvred back and forth.

Funnily enough, I too have been feeling the same about certain aspects of life here. Charlie (my husband) has set me up so that I can use the Striiv app on my i-Phone. It used to be, as I went outside and hauled the wood into the house (for the wood-burning stove) that I would thrust as much wood as I could into a bucket, and then stagger back into the house with it, making as few journeys as I possibly could. We didn’t light the fire so very often. This year however, I find myself happily wandering back and forth to the woodpile in the garage carrying three or four logs at a time and smugly thinking of all the steps I am taking, of the energy I am building up to buy new things in MyLand, and how many calories extra I will be able to eat as it transfers its step information over to MyFitnessPal. Obviously this is all very sad (it may be that there is going to be a recurring theme of me being sad in my blog), but somehow I seem to get pleasure these days from so many small things.

At this time of year here in south-west Norway, it seems that there is almost invariably a spell when there is just rain on rain on rain. It can come down for days on end, and the skies are grey and the days are short. It would be easy to get down. So it’s just as well for me, that every year, at this time, I have a wonderful cause for celebration. For three years in a row, 2009-2011, every year, at about this time as the rain came down, the ground water began to rise.

And in each of those years, as the waters rose, into our cellar came a delightful surge… of sewage from the septic tank. This would result in a sickening stench throughout the whole house and days of having to wade through diluted human faeces every time I wanted to get to the washing machine. Somehow, it invariably happened when Charlie was away on a trip.

The first time it happened, we thought it was just a septic-tank blockage. At great expense ( to the insurance company) a massive hole was dug in the driveway and the waste pipe from the tank was replaced. The man who came to help also told us that maybe the blockage was to do with the ground water. Thirty year floods, he said comfortingly, leaving us with the impression it would be a long time before there was likely to be any recurrence. So when it returned the next year, we were somewhat disappointed to say the least. And when it came back the year after that, we decided that whatever the cost, we had to do something about it. When you sell a house in Norway, you are obliged to buy insurance to cover for any problems the buyer might have and we had high hopes… however sadly you have to claim within three to five months of the original problem. The fact that we hadn’t known it was a problem until it recurred was not relevant apparently, so we had to cover the cost ourselves.

Nonetheless, we did so, and so, every year at about this time, as the heavens open and the deluge comes… at least I am able to celebrate in the happy knowledge that however high the water may rise… at least the contents of our toilets have travelled safely away into some unseen sewer. And I am enduringly glad that I won’t have to spend Christmas looking at them again.