Monday, 29 April 2013

High expectations, high precipitation

It rains and rains, which plainly sucks. We got kicked out in Arles, too rainy for plants, good enough for sightseeing. I saw St. Trophime, tried to recollect whatever knowledge remained from the most excellent lectures on French Romanesque (which didn't work), got a postcard, learned that stamp is timbre in French (live and learn) and got lost. I yet need to see the map of Arles but I strongly suspect some urbanistic catch compared to Florence – Roman street plan with some unexpected alteration. Or, worse, my otherwise excellent sense of space is going the way of dodo. Also, Arles lacks mailboxes. The plan was changed, instead of going somewhere to Pyrennees-Orientales and then to Cape Creus, these two were switched as it should be beyond the mountains and warmer down south, which it was. Meantime, we stopped somewhere off Perpignan at a gas station for peeing, coffee and whatever. Someone checked the curb, found orchids and El Minimo Lider decided to take one hour of a break (we had one and half for Arles, by the way) to check plants. I got out, found some Allium roseum and a storm came. Within 20 seconds, I was drenched and my mood got down to absolute zero. Everything gets worse with wet feet. We got to the general area of Figueres. Been there some 20 years ago and since then, street signs and stuff changed to Catalan. I just need to learn this language, pity I didn't start back at the university, there was a handful of courses going on in our building. Or, maybe it would have sucked. I had actually downloaded a textbook back in January but had no time to study since. Next time. Catspotting: One tabby at a gas station somewhere in France. When I called her, she gave me a disgusted look and went away. One tuxedo, one calico, one red and white, all three of them pretty big, in a courtyard of a country house somewhere off Figueres where we stopped for plant hunting.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

A long sigh of relief

The chaos on wheels which is one of my current jobs has been sorted out a little bit. We hired a few people so I don't need to do a job meant for five, actually, I can only do my shit and steer my deputy (of sorts) who is new to the place and needs (1) some of his enthusiasm culled (2) to be shown where things and places are. After a long and dreary winter, the cold white crap dissolved even up in the mountains. I was somewhat annoyed watching the brown plant matter emerging from under heaps upon heaps of snow, knowing that down back home where my first work and mommy dearest reside, there're crocuses and stuff in full bloom and I'm missing all that and when I'll get back up there, I'll miss the very start of spring as well. Now I should pull up a pic from my botanizing trip from, say, October, but it's stacked on a portable drive somewhere out there. No, I didn't have time to sort out pictures or herbary entries or just about anything. Life got out of reins, that's it. My dad had some long-standing health issues of somewhat unidentifiable nature which the honorable members of medical profession waved away as You're getting old, my good man, live with it, or It's idiopathic pain, we can't do anything. Or, the worst, You're just fine, it's all in your head. When dad got to a stage when he was barely able to walk, someone got the idea that leg pains might have their source not in the ankles but somewhere upwards, ordered a sCT of the whole spine and there it was, some bone growth that pressed on the nerves and wrought havoc in everything. The solution was a surgery ASAP, hopefully the guy doesn't get paralyzed meantime. The whole process of finding out took half a year and one of the consequences was that I got a bunch of keys thrown at me with an instruction of Run the business. The rest is hinted here. I'm not good with people. I'm introverted and insecure, with my negativist tendencies thrown in. I've worked in very intellectual environment... and I ended up trying to manage a bunch of people ranging from 'somewhat normal, working hard' to individuals dumber than a box of rocks, museum-worthy specimens of laziness and thieving scum. Admittedly, thieving scum might not be sheer thieving scum but chaotic idiots with a bit of theft and scummery thrown in but I don't want to know. I had to step away from the idealist view that all people, if they try at least a bit, can behave in a reasonable way, that they have manners, common sense and a vague idea of what they are doing. Wrong on all counts. I still need to learn that saying Could you kindly do this? doesn't yield anything, that I have to say or sometimes yell Go and do it now! and repeat it a few times. The worst thing... the guests. I know I know, a hotel can't work well without guests but I only have a certain limit of tolerance for people. Make it too long, too many, too willing to interact - and my brain changes into cortisol-laden jelly. At least the Food and Beverages Manager, generally known as Chef, is happily messing around and chattering. Most importantly, on Saturday, I'm going for a holiday. Two weeks of botanizing, folks. I'm terribly unprepared, under normal conditions, I'd already learned some Catalan just for the heck of it and made extensive notes on places and things to see. So far, I've noted down to take my copy of Polunin and Smythies and asked a friend to lend me a tent which I need to pick yet. I hope I'll gather up some energy to start blogging somewhat more intensively than as of late. (I was told that my writing style resembles that of Helen Fielding of Bridget Jones' Diaries fame; this certainly creates a sort of obligation.) There're plants, knitting, possibly some gratuitous cat pics, I kept a bottle of Guerlain's Dawamesk on my table for months before I moved it back to safe storage. I also should take a few shots, I somewhat got pissed with my hair colour and I've already booked an appointment at my hairdresser to do something about it. Which will be funny as I've worn the same bleached hair for some 15 years and adapted my wardrobe to it. Well, things to do, places to go, stuff to blog about. I'll try to be back earlier than in six weeks.