Thursday, 22 December 2011

A December miscellany

Reading Buck's various musings like this one here and two things jumped out at me. One, perhaps, should not have surprised me. Come to that, I suppose neither should have. I'm talking here about differences in attitude and way of life on either side of the Big Pond. Buck mentioned that he was eating dinner at 1715. Dinner at a quarter past five? I thought. No, that's uncivilised. Five o'clock is tea time; dinner is at eight o'clock. (Actually, we eat at about a quarter to seven when we are at home. If we eat out it is at about 7.30 or 8.00) Then I remembered a trip we made to the States some years back. We were due to land at Dulles, Washington, and drive into Maryland to spend a night with Lion friends. They had promised to take us out for a meal at the best restaurant in the area. We duly landed at about 4.00pm, eventually picked up our hire car and set off to follow the directions I had been given by Kent. Unfortunately, there was one place where he had not been very clear and we ended up getting lost. However, it was still quite early so I wasn't too bothered and I thought nothing of it when we arrived at about 7.30. Our hosts, however, were getting frantic and had already rung the restaurant to cancel the reservation - which was probably for about 6.30. We, being accustomed to English habits, had expected to eat at about 8.00 and hadn't appreciated that Americans eat so much earlier than us.

This is something I have come across in other respects. Social activities in England, such as club meetings, usually start at 8.00pm, sometimes 7.30, but that is really considered a bit early. It came as a shock when I discovered that Lions Clubs in America can meet as early as 6.30.

The other thing that struck me when reading Buck's post was the difference in ur attitudes to driving, in particular, the distance one drives. Buck implied that a drive of an hour or two was no big deal. In England, an hour's drive is a long way - and two hours! My word, that's an expedition, not just a short drive.

A couple of weeks ago the paper reported a reservoir near here as being 12% full. They made no mention of what would be considered the normal percentage for this time of the year, but implicit in the report was that 12% is very low. I gathered that (I'm pretty quick on the uptake) as the article was talking about how dry this autumn has been and how water shortages and drought measures are forecast for next spring and summer. Yes, I know there has not been the usual amount of rain as I have seldom come home wet from walking the dog. But why are the paths in the woods so muddy if we have had so little rain? And why is the vegetable patch too wet for me to dig?

The wetness of the soil is but one excuse for not digging. The other is closer to home. There have been remarkably few days these last several months when I have not had twinges of arthritis either threatening to start or causing pain and/or stiffness in one joint or another. Arthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis, is something I have had for many years. When it was first diagnosed I was given a prescription for an anti-inflammatory drug and told to take two capsules a day. I did for a while but gradually left off and in the end only took the medication when I felt it necessary. This way, the usual one month's supply often lasted me a year and, one time, even eighteen months. Instead of drugs, I took - and still do take - cod liver oil capsules and the Old Bat ensured that our diet contained a good mixture, especially with suitably oily fish. Then I developed this allergy and, in the summer, was prescribed a drug I take with an inhaler. Since then the arthritis has been much worse. Coincidence, or can the inhaler be the cause? When I think the allergy is better under control, I will leave off the inhaler and see if the arthritis is easier.

I followed my usual habit of writing the title first and now I can't remember why I included the word 'December'. Oh well, I don't suppose it really matters. But to get back to December, I'm off shortly to fetch the turkey.


Stephen Hayes said...

I think the reason Mrs. Chatterbox and I have never had a good meal in Europe is because we eat too early and restaurants pass along all the bad or left over stuff. They know we're tourists. Being diabetics means we generally eat early, around six o'clockish.

Buck said...

Thanks for the link, BP. I used to eat a lot later than I do now, but that was when I was still working and mainly because it was a VERY rare day when I was home before 1800 hrs. "Normal" dinner hour for The Second Mrs. Pennington and I back then was around 1930.

As for your arthritis and the inhaler... here in the US we have reams and reams of gov'mt-mandated cautions and possible interactions with other drugs, which I never bother to read for the two meds I take. Is it possible there could be information in those cautions?

#1Nana said...

I first became aware of my American perspective of time when I lived in Nicaragua. Americans are much more driven by the clock. I think we try to fit a lot of activity into one day and because of that we are very scheduled. Now that i have retired, i eat when I'm hungry. Unfortunately, the spouse is still working and on a we eat at 6:30.

SP said...

we eat our main meal at lunchtime here in France, it took some getting used to but we prefer it now.