10 April 2010

Back a week now

It's been a week now since I flew back from North Carolina to France. What a week! Even when you are officially retired, the pace of life sometimes makes your head spin.

Just as I was getting over jet lag, the attic conversion work, with all the hammering and sawing, dust and dirt, got started, last Tuesday. At this point, the attic is completely insulated, and the crew even started putting up some sheetrock yesterday.

Morehead City, N.C., on Bogue Sound

Now the builder's crew has gone away for a few days. They did a good clean-up yesterday afternoon, taking down the plastic sheeting that helped protect the rest of the house while they were working in the entryway and stair well. They swept. They put boards over the big stair cavity so that there is less air flow out there. They'll be back next Wednesday, they said.

The old downtown in Morehead — a train runs through it

Now Bertie the tomcat has arrived. We are keeping him separated from Callie for the time being. Bertie seems to be doing fine from the dietary and bodily-functions point of view. He's eating normally, in other words, and using his litter box.

This morning, however, we noticed that he has a sore on the side of his head, just in front of his right ear. It looks more like some kind of ulcer rather than an injury. Have any of you ever heard of any such thing? Could it be stress-related?

The beach seen from the top of the bridge — that's the ocean
on the other side of the narrow strip of barrier island.

Meanwhile, I'm posting some pictures I took in my home town in North Carolina just over a week ago. It was the last day of my "vacation" — more a visit than a holiday, in fact, and a really good time — and the weather had turned beautiful. I parked the car in town near the high-rise bridge that goes over to the beach. I walked out to the highest part of the bridge and took some pictures.

A motorboat speeding into the noonday sun, under the bridge

Morehead City was a small town when I was growing up there in the 1950s and 1960s. It's still a small town, but the population has doubled or even tripled. A lot of retirees have moved in from both the north (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, New England, Ohio, Michigan, etc.) and the south (Florida), attracted by the area's mild climate.

People in Morehead City lived in little houses
like this one as late as the 1970s.

The roads are wider and traffic is heavier. Compared to the area around Saint-Aignan, my little N.C. town feels quite urban and, to me, over-developed. The beach bridge, for example, is the third such bridge I have known in my lifetime. The first two were drawbridges, but boat traffic got so heavy that a high-rise span had to be built. Car traffic to and from the beach (40 km/25 miles of sand and water) is tremendous from May through September.

Here's the structure called "the beach bridge" —
it replaced two earlier draw bridges

Anyway, here are a few pictures. The landscape there — actually, there is a lot more water than land — is strikingly horizontal.


  1. maybe he tried to squeeze into a space that was too narrow? or did he scratch a tick or something? maybe some neosporin? cats can usually lick their own wounds except maybe on their heads...maybe it was a nocturnal house vole

  2. That little raw spot could be self-inflicted. Our current cat used to get stress-related raw spots and triple antibiotic ointment cured that over a few days. I have the tube here: it's polymyxin B sulfate, bacitracin zinc, neomycin sulfate, and pramoxine HCL.

    Seems to me that's quadruple, but what do I know?

  3. Cats are prone to abscesses, Ken. That's what this sounds like to me. When they get a wound, such as a bite wound from a spat with another cat, it sometimes heals over too quickly on the surface and an infection builds up inside.

    Some people just ignore abscesses and let them finally burst and heal on their own. My cats get antibiotics and warm compresses to ease the pain and speed up the healing process.

  4. I hope you get to the bottom or Bertie's sore. He's a lucky guy to have two new loving parents :)

    I love the new banner photo, and the speedboat photo is marvelous! It feels, here, like Spring snuck in and flared up in glory over just a few days... everything is in bloom here and the sun is bright, and it's great!

    p.s. Ken, do you two still have to do US taxes?

  5. You guys are lucky to get such a good crew.

  6. Chris, Carolyn, Melinda, I will try antibiotic cream. I put some Bactine on the abcess or ulcer this morning and it already seems better.

    Judy, yes, we are still required to file U.S. income taxes. There's no double taxation however. France is our primary tax residence. We pay taxes in one country, and then a supplement to the other country if taxes are higher there. Taxes are generally higher in France, but with the low dollar, it can go either way.

  7. To add to what Chris said, cats' skin has remarkable healing properties -- resulting in the outer layer closing up over a wound faster than the underlying tissue can heal. I second (third? fourth?) the suggestion for antibiotics. If Bertie tolerates it (and tolerates you applying it), so much the better.

    Funny you mention the horizontal scenery around Morehead City. It's something Ray's mom used to comment on when she visited -- how hilly the area around us is. Not the parts we thought of as hills, but the parts that seemed flat to me. She'd remind me how far one needs to go inland from the Tidewater area to see even a 1" rise in elevation, much less 1'.


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