Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky
On summer nights, star of stars,
Orion’s Dog they call it, brightest
Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat
And fevers to suffering humanity.
— The Iliad
The dogs started barking at 6:00am.
Then the crunch of wheels on the gravel. Then voices. About a dozen men talking.
Hunting season is open in our area. This was the first hunt on our farm.
Send in the dogs
The hunters assembled in front of the farmhouse across the road.
A leader drew them — mostly middle-aged farmers from the surrounding area — together.
Then he explained the strategy.
They were to take positions around one of the large woods in the area…spreading themselves out in a line…and keeping about 100 meters between each of them. Then they were to send in the dogs.
The dogs would drive the wild boar out of the woods and into the open. The hunters would fire their guns only when they had a clear shot…and be careful not to shoot one of the other hunters, each of whom wore a bright orange jacket to avoid being mistaken for a boar.
There are strict rules and local customs. Licenses are required. Ammunition can only be sold to a licensed hunter. And every group of hunters must report to the local authorities and get permission before organising a hunt.
The hunters got their orders. They went back to their trucks and left for the rendezvous point, about a half-mile from here. As we write, at 7:00am, we have heard the dogs but not yet any shots.
In the financial world…
The US stock market continues to dillydally, with no clear destination.
These are the ‘dog days’ of summer: hot…slow…with little happening. But there are evil portents…and fevers to come.
In Italy, an earthquake has killed 250 people…
Here in France, the gendarmes in Nice have forced a woman on the beach to remove her ‘burkini’.
Wearing it, she was obeying Muslim law. But the city of Nice…along with 14 other local authorities…requires her to obey their secular law. One law says she must cover up; the other says she must uncover.
And the German government is now advising its citizens to prepare for ‘emergencies’.
As reported in German newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, for the first time since the Cold War, Germans are being urged to stock food, medical supplies and, significantly, cash.
And Deutsche Welle, Germany’s equivalent of the BBC, elaborated:
‘A wad of cash is another important part of any household’s emergency supplies. There may not be time to rush to a bank, and ATMs won’t work if the power is out.’
It’s part of a ‘civil defence’ plan being debated in the German cabinet. The plan says people should prepare for an unspecified event that ‘could threaten our existence.’
Here at the Diary, we always hope for the best. But it’s not a bad idea to take precautions against the worst.
Note that a mystery hacker group known as the Shadow Brokers breached the NSA’s elite hacking unit and stole some of the agency’s most powerful ‘cyber weapons’.
The hacker group is now holding a Bitcoin auction for them. Whoever is the highest bidder will receive a file with the crypto-booty.
If mercenary hackers can break into one of the most secure systems in the world, couldn’t they also breach the electronic money system and wipe out all bank account records?
Our advice: Follow the Germans’ lead. Stock some food and some cash.
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Meanwhile, with Elizabeth still laid up after her horse-riding accident, we are growing accustomed to household work.
On Monday, we learned how to cook a mushroom omelette.
Yesterday, we figured out how to operate the washing machine and how to give a sponge bath to an immobile patient.
Later, we hung up the clothes on the line to dry.
Yes, we are learning useful things — things we’d rather not learn at all.
The first thing we learned is how much time it takes to look after an invalid.
There must be millions of older people who know this routine well…calling the doctor…arranging visits with a nurse to give shots…going to the pharmacy to buy drugs…raising the patient…lowering the patient…preparing the meals…cleaning the house…phew!
Yesterday, the local doctor came to visit. Dr Resnier is a colourful man who looks a little like Otto von Bismarck, with a bushy moustache and a belly that hangs over his belt. He drove up in a Jaguar, an unusually expensive car for these parts.
We explained what had happened. He examined the patient. He called the emergency service for a discussion with the doctors there.
‘Didn’t they tell you?’
‘Tell us what?’
‘There’s no wonder she’s in such pain and is fainting. Her back is broken.’
‘No, it’s not a serious break…and not the kind of break that will cause permanent damage. Just little splinters. They are not really dangerous, but very painful.’
He prescribed more painkillers…charged €33 ($37) for the home visit…and was on his way.
Friends have been helpful, too. Word is getting around that Elizabeth is bedridden. Knowing that she now relies on her husband for everything, they must feel sorry for her.
One neighbour came with hot soup. Another left an entire meal on the table. Our part-time gardener collected some tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden, sliced them up, and sprinkled them with onions.
It was a shock seeing him in the kitchen. He is a rough man, only half-shaven, with hands as hard as nails, and a cigarette permanently dangling from the side of his mouth.
‘Damien…I didn’t know you were a chef.’
‘Well, when you’re single, you have to know how to cook. Otherwise, you’ll starve.’
For Markets and Money, Australia