Wednesday, 29 September 2021

What is it?


This message keeps appearing on my screen when I try and open my hotmail account. It has been happening for several days on my desktop computer which uses Windows 7, and blocks access to the account. I don´t know whether it is a genuine Microsoft message or something nefarious.

Apparently if I click on 'open' I am agreeing to give access to my data by third parties for all sorts of activities. For starters there is no 'open' to click on. There are random letters below the message and in the blue box which change every time I try to open my account. Presumably if I click on the blue box I am giving the required permission. There is nowhere I can click to refuse this or get rid of this message to unblock my account. I will not be held to ransom like this and intend to wait and see if the message eventually goes away by itself. Thankfully I can access my hotmail account on my phone and laptop (which has Windows 10) without any trouble.

Saturday, 25 September 2021


We are in the middle of a tropical storm at the moment, the full works with lightning and thunder so loud it is making Toby jump and bark even though he is practically deaf now. Although we need the rain badly for the reservoirs it is sod´s law as I was planning on going out to buy some lights today. 

These are the lights I have throughout the flat except for the kitchen and bathroom. There are eight of them and they are so high up that it is impossible to clean them properly. They are looking very grubby and changing a bulb is a balancing act on top of the ladder - I´m getting past the age for such tricks. They´ve been there for twenty years and I´ve decided it is time to change them all for something more practical. 

I really like my kitchen light which I installed a couple of years ago. It is easy to reach for cleaning and bulb changing. I want to try and get something similar for the rest of the flat, not all the same of course, but hopefully all equally practical. I was looking forward to my outing today until the heavens opened - oh well, maybe tomorrow!

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Power cuts

I woke up this morning at six thirty to no electricity. I didn´t know if the problem was just in my flat or a general power cut. Anyway I decided to wait a while and see if it came back as it was rather early to ring the supervisor.

It is amazing how much we take electricity for granted. I had to really stop and think how to heat the milk for my morning coffee, normally I just pop it in the microwave . My stove is gas but uses electricity for ignition...what to do. It took a while for the penny to drop that I could use matches (duh!) and even longer to find some. Mission accomplished I went back to bed with my coffee for a nice read, as I usually do, except that it was not light enough for me to see the page properly as my Kindle screen does not light up. Grumble, grumble.

The lights came on a couple of hours later so it must have been a general power failure. We do get them occasionally but they don´t usually last long. I hope this is not a sign of things to come because our water reservoirs are very low, one is at only 25%, and this affects the power supply. What we need is rain and lots of it. Meanwhile I am getting in a supply of candles and more matches!

Monday, 20 September 2021

Out and about

I went shopping at another street market today, thankfully without incident. We have them every Tuesday and Sunday. This one is a bit further from home but still walk-able.

                                                                Before it got too busy.

                                                                        A few bananas!

I took my phone with me in order to take some photos, normally when I am on foot I don´t carry it as muggings for phones are commonplace. They have increased greatly ever since a new bank transfer app enables the mugger to force you to transfer money to them. In the last nine months there have been 160,000 phones stolen in the state of São Paulo alone. 

Going out and about is very necessary for me, not only for practical purposes like shopping but also for my sanity. After being confined for so long with the threat of Covid I need a change of scenery although things seem to be riskier than ever on the streets. I don´t want to hark on about crime but the following news item left me stunned. An armed criminal and partner broke into a house where the family was at dinner and fled with money, jewels and a car. They were subsequently caught and the police discovered the criminal was a convict, out of prison on temporary leave, who was serving thirty years for five murders!

´Nuff said...

Saturday, 18 September 2021

On becoming a vegetarian

I became a vegetarian for a couple of years in my mid-forties for health reasons after being diagnosed with MS, as a plant-based diet was supposed to be beneficial. Thank goodness it turned out the diagnosis was wrong and after living with that worry for two years I thankfully went back to a normal life and being a dedicated carnivore.

Fast forward to my 60´s and although still eating meat (mostly chicken) I was becoming more and more bothered about the way it was produced while at the same time I still enjoyed eating it. It was difficult to conciliate the two opposites.

I used to have a small studio apartment in Santos, on the beach, near one of Brazil´s largest ports where I went for long weekends or holidays. A few years ago, while I was down there, there was a problem in the port. There was a ship, fully loaded with live cattle for export to the Middle East which was held up for some reason. I don´t know whether it was a mechanical problem, red tape or something else but the poor cows were stuck in cramped quarters on board in soaring temperatures with inadequate care, food or water. After a few days they started dying and the bodies were being thrown overboard.

The stench emanating from the ship was so bad it was carried several miles to the beach where I was staying and it broke my heart to think about how the poor animals were suffering. I have never eaten meat since.

I may occasionally remember how much (like John at Going Gently) I enjoyed scotch eggs or some bacon in a quiche lorraine but I don´t really miss eating meat, the very thought of it makes me feel queasy.



Thursday, 16 September 2021

Bath time

How does he know? Toby does NOT like his bath. What I can´t figure out is how he knows what is about to happen before I have made any preparations whatsoever. He goes to ground under the bathroom unit and I have to ignore him until he thinks it is safe to come out...I won´t force him as he gets too stressed.

He went to ground there yesterday too when the vet made a house call to give him his annual shots, I should have closed the bathroom door before she arrived. She´s smarter than he is, though. She went out again and rang the doorbell so naturally he popped out to see who was there!

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

More about books...

As I have mentioned previously I do the majority of my reading nowadays on my Kindle. Books in English are expensive to buy here as they are naturally imported, which makes it rather costly when you get through two to three books a week! What I do is get my books from Amazon, from the 100 Bestsellers free list which is constantly updated. I do occasionally treat myself to a "good" book but usually go for the free ones.

This is my good old Kindle which I have had for many years. It has about 300 books on it, which I have read. I usually delete a book after reading it (after all they are free) unless it is exceptional good otherwise at some point I will run out of space. Amazon also has free travel books, some of which are worth reading.

I usually 'buy' about ten books at a time and get rid of those I realise I chose by mistake. There are a few readable books amongst the dross on the bestseller list and occasionally a real gem, it is knowing how to pick them - I avoid any with a cowboy in a stetson on the cover or a man with his shirt artistically unbuttoned, couples in a suggestive clinch, historical ones with the heroine wearing a costume from the wrong period, anything with 'hot' in the title (usually soft porn), witches, cosy mysteries etc. If the hero and heroine come over all unnecessary the first time they clap eyes on each other that is a no no too. All in all I usually manage to find a few worth trying and also of course there are the classics, anything out of copyright is free.

I think many of the writers are first-time authors trying to get a foot on the ladder of publication. Plots can be very repetitive, a favourite is...heroine discovers her boyfriend/fiancé/husband has betrayed her/died tragically so she flees to remote cottage/run down business/beach house fortuitously left to her by a distant/unknown relative, meets local handyman/vet/farmer with a troubled get the picture. Halfway through the synopsis I know what is coming next and can´t be bothered to find out if I am right! Crime fiction, which I like, can be quite good if the author isn´t too fixated on gory detail.

All in all it is fun going through the list to see what I can find and over the years I must have read a couple of thousand books on my Kindle, I wouldn´t be without it.

Sunday, 12 September 2021


I have managed to reduce the number of books I have after some severe weeding out, but they still fill two large bookcases.

This is one of them, full of old friends I cannot bring myself to part with. Gerald Durrell, Georgette Heyer, Paul Theroux, Jodi Picoult, Rosamunde Pilcher, Jane Austen,  a whole shelf of books on Tibet and another on travel amongst many others. I have collected them over many years and although I mostly read on my Kindle nowadays I still re-read some from time to time.

It occurred to me the other day that when I pop my clogs all my books will probably get dumped, a sad end for them. None of my family are really readers and those who do occasionally pick up a book only read in Portuguese. There are no charity shops as such here where they could be donated, either.

Friday, 10 September 2021

An unusual syringe

I have finally finished administering the course of fourteen injections in my abdomen, which is now covered in bruises. Thank goodness that´s over.  The syringes I used looked very unusual, at least to me, I´ve never come across anything quite like them before. I am used to the common or garden type with a barrel, plunger and needle on the end. Maybe I am out of touch.

This is an example of a used one with the yellow plunger fully in. You buy them already containing the medication, ready to use. After giving the injection you give the plunger an extra squeeze and a tube shoots out to encase the needle. You can see the coils of the spring which causes this to happen in the photo. I can only imagine this elaborate precaution is because most homes don´t have a "sharps" container for the safe disposal of used syringes. Since you can buy over-the-counter disposable syringes in any pharmacy here that would seem to be overkill to me.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Never a dull moment

Well, yesterday seemed to pass off without too much trouble thank goodness. Here in São Paulo at least, the police managed to keep the opposing demonstrators apart by about two miles. What happens next remains to be seen. It is uncanny how the situation here appears to mirror what happened pre-election in the US. President Bolsonaro is an ardent Trump supporter...

Since the protests were happening some way away, my friend and I decided to go to the farmers market which is held on a nearby side street. The market is about three blocks long and the stalls run down either side of the road with a passage in between for customers to walk along and make their purchases. The road is naturally closed to traffic on market day.

I was selecting some fruit when I began to hear police sirens getting ever louder and closer until they sounded as if they were driving into the market. The sirens kept going and there was some sort of disturbance about thirty yards away in the middle of the crowded market. Suddenly we heard shots being fired. My friend and I took one look at each other, dropped what we were doing and walked quickly to the end of the market away from the disturbance, as did quite a few others. Some people, believe it or not, just carried on shopping!

We waited on a pavement sheltering against a wall behind a stall, wanting to know what was going on before risking walking home - after all you never know what you might walk into going round a corner and because of my op I can neither run nor fling myself under a stall table. More police cars appeared and started racing up and down the surrounding roads, evidently in pursuit of someone. 

It turns out the police were chasing two bandits on a motorbike, who tried to escape through the market. The passenger fell off and was captured and a policeman fired (in a crowded street!!!!!!) at the other one who was getting away. Whether he was caught or not I don´t know, we didn´t hang around to find out. There was nothing on the local news last night as, unless someone is killed, it is not considered newsworthy.

Monday, 6 September 2021

Independence Day

Tomorrow is the 7th of September, Brazil´s Independence Day. There are demonstrations planned for and against the President and concerns it will turn unruly and violent, a sort of Brazilian January 6 Capitol riot. Senior politicians both here and abroad are worried there may be some sort of coup planned

As a foreigner all I can do is stay home and keep my head down and hope it all blows over. With the current pandemic and climate problems we really don´t need any more turmoil.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Home again

Well, that wasn´t a barrel of laughs but I´m home now and recovering nicely. I must say the hospital vegetarian food was atrocious - fried rissoles and hamburgers which were dry as dust and almost impossible to swallow, accompanied by a boiled unidentifiable vegetable (pumpkin?), not a green leaf in sight. Just what is required to tempt the appetite of a queasy patient. My daughter, who stayed with me, was slipping me bits of her salad to keep me going!

Anyway that is all in the past now. Toby, needless to say, was delighted when I came home and is sticking to me like glue. The only fly in the ointment is that I have to give myself a daily injection in the stomach for 14 days. As a former nurse needles don´t bother me but it is a different cup of tea when you have to stick it in your own stomach. Still, eleven down and three to go...