pantry pants and procrastinations..

Saturday Night

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Last Saturday..

Contents of the pantry :

A lot of flour
A lot of spices
A lot of cat biscuits
Bird Seed.
Approx 15 ml No Added Sugar Apple Squash.
A lot of porridge oats
5 ice cream cornets
Lentils & a lot of other things resembling assorted gravel unless boiled & soaked for 36 hours
One crust of Multiseed Bread, dehydrated
Yeast
6 sachets of Cat Food
1 tin of Low Fat Custard. ( almost as good as Parmesan cheese

On account of this we decided to Go for a Curry. Spent about 2 hours deciding where…

Him ( on bog) We always go to Mumbai
Me( scrubbing fossilised bits of nuclear porridge bomb from inside microwave )yeah it’s good.They get us a nice table & they bring us our drinks without even asking
Him : we could try somewhere else?
Me : ….hmmm..ok then..but it may not be so good..
Him: it would be different..
Me: ok, well..I suppose.We could go to Chutney
him: the Raj?
Me: Service meant to be crap there…
( a Tripadvisor interlude ensues…)
Me: the Viceroy?
Him: The Mumtaz?
Me: The Taj Mahal?
Him: Orchid Indienne?
Him: the Tigress?
Me: that’s Thai. And they had that thing in the paper
Him: about the lice and the plug hole
Me: Aubergine?
Him: Its vegetarian, I’m not having bloody vegetarian
Me: yeah the doors are narrow there..
Him: eh?
Me: ..& your mind is so broad your head might not fit through..
Him: eh?
Me: they won’t let you in
Him: let’s go to Chutney. We haven’t been there in….
Me: it’s tiny.
Him: we havent been there for, ages, it would be different
Me: they practically make you sit on someone else’s lap.
Him: we always go to Mumbai, let’s go to Chutney..
Me: Ok, but there better not be people there.People go there you know..People from Work, even..
Him: it’ll be empty. It’s 7 o’clock, it’s the school holidays.
Him: It’s Saturday.Its pouring with rain
Me: ( its school holidays.Its Saturday)….we live in a holiday resort. We should book..
Him: itll be fine
Me: ok, you better bring your Ear Trumpet. I’m not shouting at you across…..particularly if there’s people from work,..
Him: What about the Raj?
Me: What about the Raj?
Both: Sod it, let’s go to the Raj…

So, last Saturday, we went to the Raj.We ordered poppadums and chutneys including one which was a thrilling shade of green. Then pilau rice, chicken tikka chilli masala and tandoori chicken wings. Totally yum.
This aside, the Raj was nice: big, airy etc and apart from its view directly over the Cricket ground, was salubrious and agreeable. Were it a view over some more attractive sporting facility, say, one of those places where real men in kilts toss tree trunks about, then this would seal the deal for the Raj. However, as many of the mighty sisterhood and some of our more enlightened brothers recognise, Cricket is a horrid excuse for a sport at which anyone with half a brain weeps buckets of despair.
Me: ( pensively) I hate cricket.
Him:Well you could ask them for a fork, they wouldn’t mind..,
Me: It’s chicken wings, you are meant to pick it…no, I don’t want a fork, look, I was talking about Cricket..
Him: I’ll get you a fork (waggles hand in direction of passing waiter) hang on, excuse me but…
Me: (glancing hopefully at his trouser pocket, which is where he hides the ear trumpet..)..so.. The Ear Trumpet, could you, er..
Him: ..eh?

Time shifts in my head. Blazing, red shift backwards. I am Mummy. I am ever loving, ever loveable. My value lies in the indisputable fact that the two vibrant little clothes bundles of life who accompany me everywhere, permanently attached to my leg, know indisputably that I indisputably know Everything. They can ask me anything, and I can respond, and in their absolute trust they believe that I am right. Some time in the future, they become aware that this is total rubbish, however, within the rosily tinted time shift they still know that I am right.
I can confidently answer any question, no matter how inane..
Eg Mummy, why is the moon?
A: Because it is the great big moon, poppet, and it just is..
Mummy, why is the moon big?
Because its the moon.
(holding teddy up to the moon)…it’s only as big as teddys hand, look..
(O…God..this could go on..) Well, that’s because it’s got moon magic.
Why is moon magic?
Well, it can make itself look really really really small…
Really small..really little like a sweetcorn thing?
Ohhhh much smaller than that..
Can it disappear, with moon magic?
Of course it can ! ( slight snuggle..) you know what, if you close your eyes now, in the mornings the moon will be gone..
Will it come again tomorrow..?
Oh yes….but sometimes it has to go to bed for a little while too..
..moon goes to bed???
Yep, but it comes out again then. It has a great big moon bed behind the clouds, that’s why there’s clouds, to keep the moon cosy
Are they soft?
Really soft. Just like your pillow..
(sitting up rapidly) Clouds are like my pillow?
Just like it poppet. All soft and fluffy, just like your pillow!
( whingefully) mmmmmwwwwwwwnnnnnrghEEEEEEE
What?
I don’t like my pillow wee!!
What?
It weeeeee!! My pillow WEEEEEEEEEE..
( Right. ok.) Of course it won’t, silly sausage! Its a pillow ! It can’t wee!!
(Oh!Oh!Oh! Nooooooh!! At best, am now about to be forced to explain anatomical details of why a pillow cannot wee!) Rapidly become aware of a Motorway Moment, ie overwhelming need to find/ take next exit, any exit, to avoid becoming committed to many hours of hideous tedium..)
But Daddy said when we were in the park we have to go home because the clouds are going to do a rude word that means have a wee and we have to go home and..
Well he was just being silly! OOOOh!! Look ! I can see Big Wheels ( ie picture book re diggers and tractors and truck stuff so criminally boring it can fossilise any sensate being within 30 secs of opening..)
Eeeeeeeeh!Eeeeeeeeh! Big Wheeeeeeeels!!! I want Big Wheeeeeels!!
( accepting fate) OK then.
“Big Wheels work for us. Big Wheels are on the Low Loader. Big wheels are on the tractor.Big wheels are..” etc etc etc

etc etc

Reverse shift. Returning to the restaurant.
Him..what did you say?
Me: I said where’s your Ear Trumpet????
Him: ( to passing waiter) Excuse me, could we have a fork please? She needs a fork…
Waiter directs a glance of disbelief/ disgust in my direction. I snatch at His fork and brandish it.
Me: A Fork!! A Fork, please!!!
Waiter departs, many suspicious backward glances.
Me: I didn’t even NEED a bloody fork!!! What is WRONG with you?
Him: Mighty.I am a mighty man. I got you your fork..
Me: ( give me strength..)..Can you hear me?
Him:..AND I got you nice chicken..
MOTORWAY MOMENT!!
” Look! Look! Theres a Big Screen just over there!!!
Him: eh?
Me : hey look, there’s a Big Screen, and Foopball !!!
Him: ( suddenly animated) FOOPBALL
A beautiful silence ensues during which I retrieve the nice lumps out of the mango chutney whilst he undertakes cosmic shift between my universe, and alternative one which contains foopball..
I don’t know how many calories there are in Mango lumps. A lot, probably, but I can eat them very slowly.

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The Incredible Lightness of Hormoneless Being

(Sometimes, you read another blog and it kind of gets you going, and you just have to say more. So it was that when I happened on CracTpot’s excellent ‘T is for Testosterone’ (cractpot.wordpress.com) I somehow needed to to get going with this little comment..)

No, I don’t have periods any more. No, I can’t have children any more. No, I don’t feel like a worthless sexless pointless hag. Perhaps I look like one but no, I don’t think so. No, I don’t mourn the monthly torment of being manipulated into someone I never knew by the evil master puppeteer Hormone. And yes it makes me want to eat my own haglike head when I see others fear and dread that time when the Oestrogen strings are finally cut, and they will be allowed to be themselves again. Thank you popular culture. I believe you are a man

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Ha! Fear not sisters. The truth awaits – it goes a bit like this…

Indecision – the glorious state of intellectual rediscovery when one is allowed to consider things in depth without someone screaming about the Gruffalo in the wardrobe.

 

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Lifeless hair/eyes – mostly occurs after being kept awake by a snorting, shape shifting bristling ( possibly loveable) fart of increasing encroachment sharing same bed-space for more moons than you ever thought possible.

Forgetful – well there’s been a lot of stuff offloaded into the wondrous hard-drive that is your head over the last quarter century, much of it by others. Your Storage is Almost Full. You can Manage your Storage in “Settings”. Personally I like the setting that involves infinite white sands, crashing seas and being served Kir Royal, preferably by exotic youths.

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Lack of energy – oops sorry I must have gone fora cycle/run/ mega tasting session in the gin bar & forgot I did it

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Hot flushes – Rosy cheeks. What happens when you can go for a walk. A long one. With a hip flask in your rucksack, not a shedload of tampons.

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Irritable – No dear. It’s not because of the hormones. I don’t have any. Now please piss off, I need to eat some cheese and howl at the moon.971780_10200687344859526_519085400_n

Weight gain – Nature’s cushion. I ran around the last 30 years and now Nature says I need something to sit comfy to sit on.

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Oh yes indeedy.

It’s a tough journey, but hang on in there.

Onwards and upwards ladies.

 

 

Laptop nirvana part 2

( YAWN )
On reflection….

I love this laptop, because it provides me with countless opportunities to explore my capacity for patience, and every time it reassures me that my capacity for patience is infinitesimal and eternal, and this reminds me that since patience is a virtue I am exceptionally virtuous and should I ever relinquish my current utterly frustrating vocation I could realistically consider becoming a saint or at least a vicar….and for this small reason, I truly Love my LaptopIMG_2802

Laptop nirvana part 1

( YAWN )nbsp;

 

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Allow me to introduce you to my work buddy – Mr OutoftheArk Laptop. Generously bestowed on me by my employer, OutoftheArk here lives in his own cosy laptop rucksack and has only one role. Namely, to politely receive and carefully safeguard the many thousands of words which I am forced by my employer to produce in the form of boring professional reports. Then, to return those reports to me, exactly when I say, so that they may meet the statutory deadlines for which they are required. Preferably containing exactly the same words as I wrote in them, displayed in real letters, not a brain blasting cacophony of square things and squiggles.

No biggie.

However, following several years accompanied by Mr Laptop, the time has come for a horrible admission. That behind the unassuming charcoal grey corporate exterior of my buddy lurks a mean spirited oppositional git. Since the beginning of time it appears I have attempted to engage him.

The conversation typically goes something like this:

“Hey, remember that report we made last night… Well ok technically all last night and very early this morning…? ”

input password”

“I need it. Please, show me that report now….”

Running startup scripts……..running startup scripts……running startup scripts”

“Now, please.. .If you can just open it up for me I promise I will plug you into the magic yellow lead and you can have an Internet Rush, and you can see all sorts of wonders including the Urgent email my boss sent me. About that report. Which he wants to see. I know it’s there, I saw it on Big PC.”

Running Startup Scripts…….running startup scripts……running startup scripts…”

So, that report. I need it ..right now !!!  Correction – I need it ten minutes ago . In fact, if what Big PC says is to be believed, I need it last Tuesday at the latest !!!

“Running Startup Scripts……Running startup scripts……running startup scripts ….running startup scripts”

“Listen, this is a Deadline Disaster!! A Performance Indicator Pisser and potentially a Career Catastrophe”

Running startup scripts running startup Applying  registry Applying Registry Applying Registry Applying Registry Applying Registry..”

“YES!! O Thank you most merciful and wonderful creature of grey plastic crap ……”

Applying Registry”

Righto

Checking settings checking settings checking settings checking settings checking settings checking settings checking settings checking settings checking settings checking settings checking settings…..”

“Bring me my documents???? You have still got them??

input password”

Again???? “Whatever you require, O most powerful and omnipotent one…”

Running startup scripts running startup scripts running startup scripts running applying registry applying registry applying registry applying registry checking settings checking settings checking settings”

” phew!…..”

Applying Weekly Scheduled Scan. Checking item 43 out of 968,864375 items…………

Scheduled Scan. Please Do Not Turn Your Laptop Off ( and while you wait I’ll let you into a secret:

Microsoft Word is Not Responding

HAAAAAAAH!!)”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Highway 93: The Icefields Parkway, Alberta

Sometimes, browsing around blogland, things present themselves unexpectedly. Like, for me, happening upon the amazing images of the Canadian winter of christophermartinphotography.com. 

I live in an area that is truly blessed and beautiful, and it is always amazing to find other, parallel areas where Nature shows us its outrageous best, amped up to full volume. Once, I was fortunate enough to spend a cold, clear winter’s day driving the Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada, a place so spectacular it hurts. 

There was nothing I could do but write about it…( and start saving for the next visit!)

“At first, straightlining between dark firs, the journey was pretty much like any other. The road unfurled steadily ahead, a broad white ribbon, rising now and then to loop around crags of storm-petrel grey, dipping to the broad plains of valley floor. River-empty snow plains stretched laterally to the toeholds of soaring mountains.canada 025.JPG

Occasionally, a solitary wooden finger post at the roadside distinguishing one or other peak, jabbing at the sky..canada 081

Since leaving Banff at 10.20, we had passed two trucks and a van. Now, as the car clock showed 1.00, the white world began a slow advance. Creeping inwards, the land rose up, bearing its vastness down onto the highway , pools of shadow flowing in increasingly across the sun…

The seemingly infinite snow fields now gathered and hunched closer to the roadside, occasional steam rising spirit-like from hidden rivers,.

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Cathedral-high waterfalls hung precariously where they had frozen, spilling from cliff-edge to roadside,. Captured light raged turquoise from inside the icicles.

Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls

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We turned the heating up, and the radio off, and watched as the mountains hauled themselves close enough to squeeze the sun out of the sky at the end of the road.

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We had some way to go. We stopped in the shadow of a tree, unravelled by winter and stepped out, the sharp air catching our breath.

gigantic Canadian crow on icepark highway

Time waited. The silence roared…..”

Ice at edge of the Athabasca Glacier

Of Dark Days and Rugby..

So, work has resumed, and fun things like writing and sharing into this whole exciting new world are now on hold for several days each week. But, hopefully, back up there with a vengeance over the weekend.

Traditionally, the post-return to work weekend is a time for solemnity and washing many pants.
It is a time to put on ones most shamefully ragged pjs at 4 pm and hunker down with a nice bit of fish for tea. It is the season when safe in the knowledge that you have done your sociable best for the last two months, you may use whatever terminology is appropriate to tell the world to piss off and leave you alone. January is the true season of peace.

A subtle tide of greyness flows across the days as we lapse back into normality. Apart from the returning sense of control, this mundane month provides a ideal opportunity for several other stratospherically boring pursuits to get a look-in. Like Dry January, Choosing Seeds and Rugby.

Several weeks previously, whilst in the throes of an important pre-Christmas gin-sampling exercise with the ladies of our village I became tremendously inspired as to how it would be possible to take advantage of this in terms of providing the other with a Christmas present. It would cost me very little, would thrill the beloved one’s very cockles and best of all would preserve me from having to spend precious hours brooding over Internet man-sock catalogues into the wee small hours.

This year, in the interests of economy and goodwill, I decided to provide the old guy with an Experience amongst his most major and love-inspired Christmas presents, ie I would agree to go the the Rugby with him.

As Ms Austen would have said , gentle reader, please understand that this obvious act of fallibility was no more than a kindly attempt to fulfil a bucket list entry for said man, which he had been trying to achieve for around 20 years, along with Catching the Big Bass and being Man of the Match.

His escorted visit would take place on condition that he paid, provided chips and a comely hipflask filled with something even comelier. It seemed a fair deal.

Well the hour arrived, and having wrapped myself up like Nanook of the North and filled the hipflask generously to ward off the cold and dull the pain of the rugby, I dutifully accompanied the happy recipient to the house where we had agreed to meet the 14 other fools who actually claim to enjoy such things.

Now,the Rugby is held on the other side of town in a filthy field surrounded by a concrete monolith containing on its inner side ranks of foul concrete seats on which around 3,000 spectators can perch under the blaze of lights so bright they almost certainly cause light pollution in outer space. We had almost finished packing the necessary stash of blankets into the cars, and people were beginning to offer up excited versions of the inane anthems that seem a prerequisite when attending ball games.

Then suddenly, by grace of a merciful ping, we were suddenly granted a blissful escape as someone’s phone delivered the awful news …..the toilets in the rugby place were frozen, so tragically the rugby was cancelled .

There was nothing to do but default en masse to the kitchen of the rugby-departure house where we were able to help them clear out any remaining vestiges of Christmas snacks which may have been lurking at the back of the cupboards. Then we helped them clear the garage, which contained many bottles of homemade moonshine made from local hedgerow fruits, and potatoes. It was an excellent decluttering and most productive for all concerned.

The next day sadly they reinstated the rugby so I had to go after all, and bloody boring it was too. I am told that it’s better if you sit right at the front because you can ‘feel the vibrations and smell the men’. Is this true?730749-rugby.jpg

 

We shall skip across the full horrendous detail of the Rugby match – suffice to say it eventually passed and we were able to get home and I was released to regroup whilst the delighted old fart went off to watch a documentary about men catching cod. It appeared that order was restored.

Later that same day however there was a very colourful postscript to the day when the ‘soil pipe’ connecting the toilet to the mains drainage system, assumed a quiet moment of evil and surreptitiously blocked itself, also cutting off every overflow in the bathroom. Our daughter, an impeccably clean young woman, had gone to enjoy her thrice daily worship at the shower whilst the cod-father and myself were sat polishing off a nice piece of Stilton in front of the fire, accompanied by a suitable amount of port and a couple of custard creams. I was quietly contemplating whether to paint my toenails Magenta or Screaming Green and he had begun to deliver a favourite lecture on the plural of the word ‘mongoose’ when it happened.

For no good reason the ceiling seemed to loom ominously close and without warning we were deluged with the entire contents of the bath, Tresemme and all. Well I don’t mind sharing, I was hysterical as we had to use even more pans than for Christmas dinner and the mop and any other absorbent thing around. I can only say that the cats are lucky they can run away because I am sure they would offer very good mopping-potential…

In fact I swear that I caught one of them laughing….

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Christmas past, or when we had colds and snow.

So, now that Christmas has properly done its bit and gone, back up into the attic with the decorations, its time to make a start on my have a go at blog thing.

I am always glad when Christmas has passed. I have a small family, but many friends – real human ones, who live close by. Not having the perfect ingredients for a mass-media ideal Christmas, involving a cast of at least 26 adoring, bickering family members, it can leave me feeing a little sad, and then guilty for feeling sad. We are not alone, or scared, or hungry. And we have our own special rituals and traditions which we know, and love and value and understand. Last Christmas, even these were disrupted by the unexpected arrival of snow AND  of a particularly virulent cold which crept out of a tissue at one end of our village and rampaged through to the other end in record time. Before I close the lid on all things Christmas, I am going to share an excerpt from a letter written at this time – just to get me going on this blog-thing!

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‘As for our festive fun, well as you can tell this was somewhat curtailed by events this year. There was a minor incident Christmas eve morning when the Lovely Man managed to pull down the curtains in the front room. We did manage to pull together a couple of sniffling gatherings whereby those of us able to prise ourselves from our beds indulged in some mutual consumption of medicinal alcohol.

By Christmas Eve, there was not a sofa between us  that was not occupied by a great shape-shifting mound of testosterone moaning and snorting like some creature from the primeval bog. Driven from our homes by the eyewatering quality of air that can only result from the presence of someone large constantly anointing themselves with Vick, six of us ladies bolstered up our bosoms and set off for a Walk.IMG_2502 (1)

Our coastline sings and sparkles, constantly. Silver cliffs plummet towards pale, sandy beaches. In winter, blackthorn spikes cut dark shapes into the white sky, and the warm almond scent of gorse blends with earth and salty mist. Christmas Eve requires a traditional route-march around these cliffs, however we found the cliff path, precipitous even on the most mellow spring day, to be hidden under sheet ice.10868134_10204639383378019_6143147561594121266_n

Recognising that many  would think it unsporting of us to kill ourselves just hours before the annual Feast of Peeling 956 sprouts, we were forced to forgo our lengthy trek in favour of supporting local business instead by sitting outside the delightful Surfside beach cafe wrapped in blankies with hot choccie, like the venerable ladies we truly are. We had no sooner settled into our outside seats and wrapped ourselves in the obligatory blankets, when our act of altruism was instantly rewarded by the spectacle of a muscle-man in orange speedos, clearly one of the local lunatics, wading into the sea and training for a cross-channel swim. Later,filled with the spirit of festive generosity, we were able to help the coffee shop ensure that none of their complementary mulled wine was wasted. It all made for a a very pleasant afternoon.

At 10pm we gathered all those who were not Catholics (and thereby already praying somewhere else), marooned by snot, or already unconscious, in our living room where vast quantities of delightful liquers made from the local hedgerows and pantries were sampled – sloe gin, cassis, ginger vodka etc. Thereafter, and once sufficiently warmed, we repaired to church, where we then all rejoiced very enthusiastically.

The usual Christmas morning hosts were unable to meet their obligations this year, having been laid-low with manflu then traumatised by having to return from their home in Ireland. Given the weather conditions this involved a monster trek via the wastes of North Wales courtesy of about twenty taxis and six Little Trains, their flight to Cardiff having been cancelled.

So our own house stood in for the festive drinks morning, meaning that by 6 a.m. preparations had to begin.Now, this time should never be referred to as Morning because clearly it is pitch black and the moon is on high etc and only weird creatures like dog walkers and those things in the zoo with big scary eyes are out and about. Forced like this to to engage with the kitchen in the middle of the night I began to experiment with matronly concepts like ‘Slaving Over a Hot Stove’ and to crave the days when we were ‘grateful for a tangerine and a handful of walnuts’.

There is nothing more to report really, as the whole turkey thing went off as expected. As proceedings at the table drew to an end, the horrid moment approached when it would be necessary to remove the gigantic heap of vegetable peelings from their holding position outside the back door, to the compost bin at the bottom of the garden. Genuinely, this task makes me feel great sympathy with the central character in that traditional English custom where some guy prances about covered fimages-8rom head to foot in bits of tree and greenery. Peering from beneath  discarded cabbage leaves and potato peelings I eyed the slush-covered slope before me with mounting trepidation. What occurred next was straight out of the Ladies Downhill in Lake Louise. With cabbage. It began gently but quickly became astonishingly fast, ending with a screaming descent into the trees below the compost.I think the word for the experience is very ‘gnarly’. At least that is what some bored teenager with a phone told me.

If nothng else this spectacle at least encouraged the neighbours to stay away, no doubt exacerbated by the sounds of honking, snot-evacuating and hacking coughs from the other side of the hedge.By 4 pm the invalid man  had retired to bed and did not emerge till 2pm the next day, reeking festively of Vick. The rest of us sat around, played Balderdash, and calmly collapsed giant Jenga on each others heads. it was a very philosophical evening…..