Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Fox and Ducks

This mural in Shoreditch, by street artist Fanakapan, is called "Follow the Leader." I love the skillful way he rendered the glass fox and the gullible ducks. I have other shots showing the mural without people, but I prefer this one, with all the street activity. I'm not sure why there are two P's in "Trump," unless Fanakapan was trying to avoid a lawsuit over use of the name. Surely the fact that it's backwards is a message, though.

I'm still plugging away, popping my antibiotics and painkillers on regular 6- and 4-hour rotations. I keep thinking it's about time I turn the corner on this tooth problem, but it hasn't happened yet. At least I'm able to go to work and keep up my daily routines. Dave and I talked about how lucky I am to live now, when antibiotic therapy is an option. Imagine having this condition 200 years ago! I suppose it would not only be incredibly painful, but perhaps ultimately fatal.

In other news, I've been getting very peculiar e-mails from, of all places, trying to draw me back to the site with new potential matches. I haven't been active on Match for at least 11 years, if not longer, and why they've started contacting me now I'm not sure. But I can't unsubscribe from the e-mails without signing in to the site, which annoys me to death. I have no idea what my login is, and frankly, I don't want to sign in to at all. I have found my match, thank you very much! (And doesn't it seem a bit cynical on their part to assume I'm still single, 11 years later?!) They recently tried to hook me up with someone called "newbountyhunter," which, just based on the name itself, seems an unlikely match for me.

Dave and I finished "The Sopranos" on Monday night. I have to say the critics are right -- it was excellent television. And as I've said before, I am generally not a fan of mafia-related productions. I'm sorry to see it  come to an end. I can understand the furor over the ending, which at first seems ambiguous -- but I tend to agree with this guy that the more one ponders it, the less ambiguous it becomes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Drug-Induced Rambling

Yesterday afternoon, just as my tooth/face/neck pain was hitting truly unpleasant levels, I had my appointment with the dentist. The upshot is, I have an infection in my jaw below the root of my back molar. The dentist thinks it originated in the tooth, and the first order of business is to clear it up with antibiotics. I am now on erythromycin.

Healing that infection should ease the pain over the next few days, but it won't solve the problem -- the dentist said the infection, given time, would simply come back. Whatever's going on in the tooth would essentially recontaminate my jaw. So I have a root canal scheduled for Jan. 30 and Feb. 13 (apparently it takes two visits?), and the tooth will be crowned. No more gold inlay.

(Maybe I can make an earring out of it?)

I'm a bit curious about how the crown is going to work, since, as I recall, the dentist who created the inlay 10 years ago seemed to think too much of the tooth had been removed by earlier drilling to make a crown practical. But clearly something has to be done, and I'm willing to take the risk. If worse comes to worst, they can just pull the whole thing.

Meanwhile, I am on pain meds. Yesterday, aspirin stopped working. So my boss gave me an Aleve, and that little blue pill was freaking wonderful. When I went to the drugstore, I asked for my very own bottle of Aleve -- but the pharmacist informed me I can't buy that painkiller over the counter in the UK. Instead he recommended Nurofen with codeine (!) which apparently I can (and did) buy over the counter.

It's all very mysterious. Bottom line: Hopefully I am on the mend and this root canal odyssey won't be too much of a nightmare. I've never had a root canal, so this will be a whole new experience for me.

In other news: Why, you are probably wondering, have I posted this picture of an aluminum can?

Because, look closely at that can. It bears a very old logo for Diet Pepsi -- one that I haven't seen in decades. And it also has a pull tab, not a pop-top.

That can, which I spotted along the LOOP while I was walking in a West London park on Saturday, has got to be about 35 years old, if not more. I don't know about you, but I find that impressive. I didn't pick it up, but I did send a picture of it to my brother, who used to collect soda cans when he was a kid. (I blogged about his collection here.) "How long has it been since you've seen one of these bad boys?" I asked him. (Can a diet soda be a "bad boy," or is it inherently goody-goody? Anyway...)

"Ha! That's pretty crazy. Old can!" he replied, and sent a picture of the same type of can in his collection, which is now housed on special shelves in his garage.

As a former beer can collector myself, not to mention a trash geek, I found it all pretty interesting and blogworthy. Plus I'm high on codeine, so you'll have to excuse me.

(Top photo: A winter dawn in West Hampstead.)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Cooped-Up Dog

Olga and I took a couple of long walks yesterday. She was brimming with energy after being cooped up inside all day Saturday -- in fact she was a little annoying, staring at us imploringly -- so it was good to get her outside where she could blow off steam.

In the morning she took me up into Cricklewood again -- this is her new thing, for some reason. I think there's often a lot of edible trash lying around on busy Cricklewood Broadway, like discarded french fries and chicken bones and that kind of thing. Even though I do my best to prevent her from eating it, her foraging skills have told her that's the place to walk. That's my theory, anyway. And she did manage a few french fries on the sly.

We came back and rested a bit, and then in the afternoon went on our usual West Heath walk. On the far side of Hampstead Heath Extension, Olga posed for some quick photos in the tidy neighborhood of Hampstead Garden Suburb, with the towering modern spire of St. Jude's Church in the background (top).

The snowdrops are back on the West Heath. It seems early; the ones in our garden haven't raised their snowy heads yet. I think I photograph this clump every year.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Uxbridge to Moor Park

I tackled two more segments of the LOOP yesterday, walking about ten miles from Uxbridge to Moor Park in Northwest London. (I did this partly to take my mind off my dentistry -- as I told a friend, "Hopefully achy legs and back will distract from achy tooth!")

Above is Uxbridge Lock, near the beginning of my walk along the Grand Union Canal. The locks allow for changes in elevation along the canal's route.

In Uxbridge, before I started, I came across this incredibly groovy utility box. If only they all looked like this, rather than just olive drab!

The first half of the walk followed the canal. The map called it the "bluest" section of the LOOP, because of all the water -- but there was nothing particularly blue about it yesterday. I enjoyed looking at all the boats, as usual, with names like Firefly, Tiger and Hedgehog, and this apparently nameless craft with a Snoopy theme.

Next to one boat, someone had set out what looked like a tea party for weathered stuffed animals.

And as a Florida boy, I had to appreciate this house, with its big fake gator sitting on the canal bank. (There's a disembodied mannequin arm lying next to the gator's mouth --  someone has a sense of humor.)

Just before I left the canal, I passed these colorful flats near Harefield.

And then my route turned eastward and I found myself walking across farmland and through a conifer forest.

These two passed me along the way -- which surprised me a bit, because I walk pretty fast and usually I'm the one passing other people! Clearly they are seasoned trekkers. I loved their matching headgear.

I found this old U.S. Air Force truck in a horse pasture. The USAF used to have a base somewhere near Ruislip in West London, I believe, as well as other bases around England -- so who knows where it came from. It looked pretty old.

Here are the conifers in Bishop's Wood, near Moor Park. The pathway on this section of the walk was a nightmare -- very churned up and muddy. It bore the telltale imprint of horseshoes, but it seemed like it would have been treacherous going for a horse.

I stopped at a pub called Ye Olde Greene Manne for a hamburger and a pint of London Pride, before ending amid the well-groomed suburbia of Moor Park. And the walk did distract me from my tooth!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Orchid Report

For years, I told people that I was no good with orchids -- on the rare occasion when I got one (and I can think of only once), it died or would never bloom again. I'm going to have to revise that assessment, though.

Our little home orchid collection is going gangbusters at the moment. This is at least the second batch of flowers from all of these plants. The two above live on a windowsill in the living room, and the two below live in the bathroom, where they seem to appreciate the humidity.

I think the secret to orchids -- and you may already know this -- is to not allow them to stand in water. They don't like having wet feet. Instead, they need excellent drainage and a good, fresh rinsing every now and then. I always picture them living on a rocky cliff or tree branch in a Himalayan forest, which I think (?) is their natural habitat, and getting rinsed by rain which quickly drains away.

Not that I am any kind of expert.

This (above) is our oldest orchid, the one I got from my coworker when she retired a couple of years ago. It's still looking good, and it's on -- I believe -- its third batch of flowers.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Dentally Challenged

In what is an all-time first for me, I seem to be developing a toothache.

My tricky back molar, the one with the almost 10-year-old gold inlay that has given me fits on and off for the entire decade that I've had it, is causing problems again. As I've written before, the tooth has gradually become extremely sensitive to temperature changes. Drinking cold water feels like sticking a live wire in my cheek. I tried Sensodyne toothpaste at the suggestion of the dentist, but that didn't seem to do much.

At my last dental checkup, just a few weeks ago, I asked the dentist about this tooth and he X-rayed it and said it looked fine. But the pain is getting worse, and now the entire side of my face and neck feels a bit swollen and strange. I don't see any visible swelling, but I know something's not right. Fortunately I can still eat and drink, as long as I protect the tooth from temperature extremes.

So I've made another dental appointment for Monday -- the earliest I could get in. I'm also using this opportunity to change dentists to one in my neighborhood (rather than our old neighborhood of Notting Hill). I asked some coworkers who live nearby which dentist they attend and got a recommendation.

I'm just not sure what the future holds for this tooth. Here's the back story, for those of you who are dentophiles (if that's a word). About 22 years ago, when I lived in Florida, I had a cavity filled, and the dentist drilled out a very large area of the tooth -- almost half of it, I think. He put in a conventional filling, but after a little more than a decade, the filling seemed to be degrading. A subsequent dentist (in New York, now) suggested replacing the filling, which he said was really too large to be stable. He said a crown might be an option, but he was afraid so much of the tooth was already gone that there might not be enough left to anchor a crown. So he went with the gold inlay.

In the years since, that inlay has popped out twice, forcing me to make emergency trips to the dentist to have it re-installed. And the tooth has never felt quite right.

So -- a root canal? A crown? Either would be a first for me. We'll see what this new guy suggests!

(Photo: Shoreditch, East London.)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The 'Hood, 1894

A few days ago, someone donated some odds and ends to the library where I work. The papers included reproductions of old survey maps from 1894 depicting various parts of North London, including the areas around West Hampstead. I got a kick out of looking at these maps and since they show areas I often mention in this blog, I thought you might like them too.

Above you'll see what the region around Fortune Green and Hampstead Cemetery, where I often walk Olga, looked like 124 years ago. To the left of Fortune Green are the so-called "Greek streets," named after heroes like Agamemnon and Ajax. North of the cemetery, it's all just farmland.

This is what the same area looks like today. As you can see, west of the "Greek streets" and surrounding the former reservoir, more neighborhoods were built -- including Gondar Gardens, where I also frequently walk with Olga. And north of the cemetery there are now athletic fields and more neighborhoods.

That reservoir, incidentally, is still open space, but it's the subject of occasional development schemes. The most current, I believe, is a plan to turn it into an upmarket retirement community. Unfortunately the property is fenced off and inaccessible, so I don't walk Olga there.

Even more pertinent, at least to me, is this area -- which is where Dave and I now live. You can see West End Lane, which is West Hampstead's main street, running north-south about a third of the way from the left side of the map. To the left (west) of West End Lane are lots of houses on streets like Pandora and Sumatra roads (where, yes, I also walk Olga). You can also see, at the upper right, a short segment of Finchley Road.

In between West End Lane and Finchley Road, and to the west of the Hampstead Cricket Ground, there was just open land with three large houses -- Canterbury House, Treherne House and West End Hall.

This is what that same area looks like today. The neighborhoods west of West End Lane haven't changed much, but between West End Lane and the cricket ground, a whole "new" neighborhood has been built. That's where Dave and I live. (I hasten to add that it's not really new -- it's probably 100 years old at this point!) Those three large houses are gone entirely.

It's also interesting to see how much has been built just north of the railroad tracks, such as the relatively modern housing estate between Lymington Road and Dresden Close where, yes, I walk Olga.

It's even more surprising to look at the whole map, because lots of the land beyond what I've shown here was empty in 1894. Nowadays it's just houses and houses and houses -- West Hampstead runs into Cricklewood which runs into Willesden Green and Dollis Hill. In the late Victorian and Edwardian years, London's growth mushroomed and much of the city's housing stock was built. We're all still living in it today!