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Thirty at eight

This week: Computer ire; Going to the vets; How to give a cat a pill; Thirty at eight; Equipment failure; First fruit;

Morning sun
Morning sun on the garden Oleander

Things have not gone to plan this week. It’s been hot, day and night. Microsoft Office® has been playing up and I’ve not done as much work as I would have liked to have done.

That said, I have finished moving the boxes around between stores and my small store is CFFTB.

I seem to have lots of “wurds” in this week’s blog and not many “pitures”! But I hope you like the ones which are here…

Computer ire

I’m still using software that I purchased years ago, in some cases. Take my favourite file finder programme “Where is it”, a small programme I bought around 1998 I think.

With a lot of files and photographs, going back three decades, which have all been safely archived to DVD discs, and in the case of the very old files to CD’s (remember them?) I need a programme that will find something and tell me on which disc, in which folder it is located.

Just for good measure and following the recommended best practice of museums and organisations like The Smithsonian in Washington DC, every disc has a duplicate copy, on a different make of media, just in case one fails.

This week there were several occasions when I tried to open a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and the programme hung, saying the file was corrupt. When I checked backup files and they were also read as corrupt, I surmised it was a programme fault.

I discovered this because I wanted to update my weather file and to see how far above the average, this week’s heat has been.

I reinstalled the programme from the original DVD discs, and for a couple of days it was OK, then on Friday, the same thing happened.

So as it was 34.2ºC outside, and everyone and everything bar the Cicadas and I were asleep, I decided I would reinstall the complete Office suite.

Isabijela asleep
Isabijela asleep on the study windowsill – she has a comfy bed too

This apparently simple activity set off a chain of events which took me the full day to recover from.

Using the Windows “Apps and Features” application I was able to delete all the files, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, everything.

It was only after I had deleted everything that I suddenly wondered if Outlook was still working. I had in mind it was a separate programme. No it had gone too.

I hadn’t backed up my emails – silly me! That’ll teach me to be more careful in future.

Another of the programmes I have bought is Stella Phoenix Data Recovery. This is because when you delete a programme, a folder or a file, it will disappear from you system. However until the location where the data was saved is overwritten, the file is still there on the memory device, invisible but recoverable.

Stella Phoenix data recovery
Stella Phoenix data recovery

Stella Phoenix will bring your files back, whole, from their fiery grave.

I ran the programme and found the email files, recovered them to a spare hard drive and then reinstalled Microsoft office. Success!! Everything works and I’ve not lost any emails…

Going to the vets

We were at the vets office on Tuesday at 8.45 am sharp for Gizmo to have his “little operation”. I collected him at 11.00 and brought him home.

He was still sleeping after his anaesthetic and really didn’t wake up until 4 pm when he wanted to go out. By Wednesday morning he was right as rain and hasn’t looked back since.

Gizmo asleep
Gizmo – let sleeping cats lie

What I did come across this week was a short treatise on giving a pill to a cat. I’d rather like to translate it and take it to the vets!


  1. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of the cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.
  2. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.
  3. Retrieve cat from under the bed and throw soggy pill away.
  4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm while holding rear paws tightly with left hand Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.
  5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call partner from outside.
  6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees. Hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold cat firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat’s throat vigorously.
  7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.
  8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil and blow down drinking straw.
  9. Check label to make sure pill is not harmful to humans. Drink glass of red wine to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse’s forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water.
  10. Retrieve cat from neighbour’s shed. Get another pill. Pour another glass of wine. Place cat in cupboard and close door on neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.
  11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Empty wine bottle into glass and drink. Fetch bottle of Rakja. Pour glass of Rakja and drink. Apply cold compress to cheek and check record for date of last tetanus vaccination. Apply Rakja compress to cheek to disinfect. Drink another glass of Rakja. Throw shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.
  12. Call Vatrogasci to retrieve cat from Black Pine tree across the road. Apologise to neighbour who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.

13. Tie the little darlings front legs to rear legs with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table. Find heavy duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of steak. Be rough about it. Hold cat’s head vertically and pour a litre of water down throat to wash pill down.

14. Consume remainder of Rakija. Get spouse to drive you to Ambulancia in Stari Grad. Sit quietly while Doctor Planja stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call at Volat on way home to order new table.

15. Call Dr Prosper at the vets and ask if he can give the cat an injection as run out of pills. Look for a cage and decide the next time cat brings you a live rat you will keep it as it will be easier to look after.


  1. Wrap pill in a piece of meat
  2. Toss it in the air and watch as dog jumps and swallows it whole
  3. Enjoy bottle of wine on terrace watching the sun set.

P.S. Gizmo hasn’t been given any pills. He had received a slow release antibiotic injection while in the recovery room at the vets, so no animals were harmed (at least by me!).

Thirty at eight

Throughout the year, I tend to get up and with the sun. That means early mornings in the summer and nice lie-ins in the winter, when there is a nip in the air outside.

Being up early has several advantages, mainly one of temperature. Winter and summer, the coolest part of the day is just before the sun peeks over the hills to the east.

In summer when everything stops at lunchtime here, it is really comfortable working in the orchards at 05:30. I often hear my neighbours about before 05:00 getting ready to go to their olive groves.

My experience is that the hottest weeks of the year are the last week of July and the first fortnight in August. This is borne out by the statistics from my weather station.

2019 Average temperatures
2019 Average temperatures

But this week it has been much hotter than normal for the first week of July. The average changes as each years passes because more data is available, but the difference is stark.

2020 Jan June temperatures
2020 Jan June temperatures

The chart from my station shows we are six to eight degrees Celsius above the average.

I have been out weeding early, as usual, but before the temperature has made it unpleasant. At the end of the week, I have had to finish by 08:00 because it has just been too hot.

On Thursday when I gave up early because the perspiration was dripping off me, I looked at the temperature in the shade, just as the Church clock was striking eight and it was already 30.6ºC.

Later in the day the air temperature was over 34ºC, with 55% humidity. Realistically the only thing you can do is have a siesta…..

Equipment failure

I keep my cameras batteries charged, ready, along with the battery drills, in fact everything that has a battery inside. You never know when you are going to need something in a hurry, so as they say, “The motto of the wise is, be prepared for surprises”.

When the house cools at night to 29ºC,and without air conditioning, it means that you tend to only sleep lightly. I was startled awake just before midnight one night this week with a call outside the open window. I listened, there it was again.

This was the call of an illusive owl.

As I looked out, I could see the outline of the bird, only slightly larger than a Blackbird on the electric wire which runs between my home and the supply pole on a neighbours house. It was bobbing up and down calling every few seconds.

I have been waiting to get a good recording of the Scops owl and so my Sony pocket digital recorded was already on the windowsill.

Not wanting to frighten the bird with a light, I turned the recorder on in the dark and pressed record. I thought it should have “beeped” but it didn’t.

The owl called several more times, then flew onto my electric supply pole just above the window and continued calling. It sounded quite agitated.

Cue to turn the light on. As soon as I did, I saw “low battery” was flashing on the recorder’s screen. Nothing had been recorded. As the owl was still calling, I quickly replaced the two AA batteries, tuned the recorder on and pressed the record button.

Now this device is quite sensitive, so I tried to move without making a noise. Meanwhile the owl had flown back to the wire where it first was.

I opened the screen door without making a noise. The almost full moon had just risen above the southern hills behind my home, so there was plenty of light as I carefully moved round the building towards the bird.

At that moment it flew off, because I heard the call again but from further along the lane.

Looking round the corner of the building, movement on the roof close to the wire caught my eye.

For a moment, I wondered if it had young on the roof and that was why it was agitated. Then as the shape moved towards me, I saw it was Gizmo.

The owl is a Little Owl, Athene noctune, a year round resident here but although I have often heard the call, this is the first time I have seen one.

The Little Owl
The Little Owl

You can imagine that I was less than impressed with myself at the battery failure. They were OK when I last checked and have obviously just run down.

I will not make that mistake again. I’m not going to tell my ornithologist neighbour Steve as he would be really disappointed….

Because its nesting habit is in old buildings, crevices and holes in walls, I wonder if it has a nest in my adjoining property, which is slowly becoming derelict.

Especially it’s agitation with Gizmo on the roof, flying backwards and forwards and calling suggests I need to investigate with binoculars to see if I can see something in one of the many gaps in the stonework and roof.

Although I did record a few calls, I would be embarrassed to put them onto my soundcloud page, so you will have to settle for a recording made in the Eastern Mediterranean, but this is what it sounded like!


First fruit

As the temperature rises I’ve noticed that most flowers are dying back.

Generally I have planted things which I like, which are useful, give fruit, add colour in different seasons or are just “nice to have”.

There are three varieties of Passiflora flowers in different locations.

Red Passion Flower Rubra
Red Passion Flower Rubra

Two I would say are “existing” in the heat rather than flourishing, but as I passed my green wall this week, I saw there were several large fruit on the Blue Passion Flower, Passiflora caerulea .

Blue Passion Flower
Blue Passion Flower

Although the weather has been hot and dry, this plant has had more flowers this year than ever it has had previously. This is the first time that it has had fruit too.

Ripening Passion Flower fruit
Ripening Passion Flower fruit

I’m letting it intertwine in the branches of my red plum which, because Passifloras’ are woody vines, this is a favourable habitat where it can extend upwards for 15 meters.

Although a South American native, it is widely planted and grown throughout the world. Clearly it has found a corner in my garden which is to its liking.

I will look forward to picking the fruit in a few weeks and making some ice cream. NRC

One Response

  1. Brian Homans

    Another interesting read, Norman. We did have a week or two of extremely hot weather a fortnight ago when we were very grateful for the air conditioning our son had installed in our bedroom. (It is his trade, so cost of parts only). I am able to switch it in from my mobile phone so when we eventually go up to bed, the room is chilled to 22C which suits us and allow a good night’s sleep. Currently we have windy, showery weather and would like the sun back as we are still pretty much in isolation.