On Power – of chocolate and of people

Okay. I add ‘and of Mozilla’s moodswings’ to that.

My post was pretty much finished and now it’s gone.

The gist of it was that I am easily swayable by external factors: things, situations, people…and chocolate.

That and the fact that I spend too much time and energy trying to placate people who make life harder than it needs to be and not enough time being thankful for the ones who make it better.

 

[Edit: I have since found the post in question, you can read it here)

On leftovers, menu-planning and how not to roast parsnips

I can’t see how menu planning is supposed to work.

The idea is great – decide what you’re going to eat when and then buy the ingredients for those meals. Super. You don’t buy ‘extras’ or ‘rubbish’, you have a plan so you don’t have to decide what you’re going to cook when you’re too tired to think, you have everything you need when you need it, you have balanced meals and balanced weeks, and all manner of other delightful benefits.

My problem is what happens when life strikes?

Like last Sunday when I just wasn’t hungry, or when things work out differently to the way I thought they would. What happens to the food planned for those days? Do you shift everything along a day (ie, Sunday’s dinner is then eaten on Monday)? But what if you have to make something easy on Monday so you can go out? Do you wait until Thursday when you have time? Leaving all the ingredients until then might mean they go mouldy in the meantime and you’re no better off than with no plan. Do you ignore Sunday altogether and carry on with Monday as per plan? Sunday’s food is then effectively scrapped before it’s had a chance to think about mould.. Do you incorperate the ingredients in the rest of the plan, thereby in effect replanning the week (making the first plan redundant)?

As I said, I haven’t figured it out yet. I try to buy things I can use in more than one meal and then use them up as and when, preferably before they run (or ooze) away of their own accord.

Whatever. I still had parsnips in my fridge from an idea I’d had a week ago. Parsnips are pretty rare over here and one of my favourite vegetables. Occasionally they’re to be found in fruit&veg shops, but they’re certainly not as widespread as in the UK. I found these in a supermarket which really surprised me. I would hate for them not to be eaten, but I somehow hadn’t got round to doing anything with them.

This evening was a stay-at-home kind of evening so I decided to grill them. It’s like roasting only quicker. And more exciting if you use baking paper. I am incredibly lazy as far as washing up goes.

What’s left of the paper..

However, I don’t think there’s a way around washing the tray when grillling. I set my oven on fire while putting the tray-with-paper-and-parsnips-on in it.

I decided washing the tray was marginally better than burning down the house (MY HOUSE!) and took what was left of the greaseproof paper off the tray. I added some peppers, cheese and ham, waited for just the right degree of burnt and settled down to a feast.

🙂

On complaints, halos and air conditioning

(- or “apparently it does work” -)

I have been bemoaning the state of the air conditioning unit at work for about the last 3 years; pretty much as long as I’ve been there. I don’t [think I] moan much, but when I do find something I consider worth moaning about, I’m pretty consistent. In this case I feel especially justified. I work with glass and gasflames and have my nose directly over the resulting noxious fumes. But, and this is a meaningful but, we do actually have an air conditioning unit, which is more than some workshops, and for that I ought to be eternally thankful, despite thinking it’s situated too far over my nose to be any use.

Naja.

Today I found out that it works, at least part time.

My halo was apparently sucked up into it, and is now gone. 🙁

I hadn’t actually noticed, no idea how I managed to miss something that catastrophic, but luckily my colleague was good enough to tell me.

I’m left wondering how I’m going to deal with this monumental loss. If anyone has any ideas, or has seen one floating around looking lonely, please let me know. Thanks.

On the danger of over-eating on a Saturday.

I ate LOTS on Saturday evening. I hadn’t had much lunch apart from the cake at the sale, and there was a galoptious potfull of leftovers to eat up. We didn’t quite achieve empty, even with 15 of us, but I did my best ;). Not sure to what extent my stomach would agree with me on that – on top of actually eating too much, lentils seem to expand once you’ve eaten them. I went home with the feeling I’d narrowly escaped exploding.

I tend to eat too much, then curl up to digest, a bit like a snake. This meant that I wasn’t really hungry on Sunday, in turn meaning I didn’t really eat (apart from yogurt, the most amazing chocolate muesli and the left over crisps from my ‘party’).

This morning, I woke up to the sound of my meanest alarm clock blaring in my ears. I have several and the mean one’s really only for emergencies – I usually wake up to one of the milder ones and turn the mean one off before it wakes the whole street up or someone calls the fire brigade. This morning I’d slept through the others and even this one had somehow managed to work its way into my dream and escape detection.

The reason for my ‘out-like-a-light’ sleep? Not sure, but it probably has to do with not going to bed early enough. I was trying to fill in a form. Or, more accurately, trying to write my CV so I can send it off with the already-filled-in-form to the nice lady who wants it. I probably haven’t done many more exciting/relevant things than the average person, but the manner in which we moved around while I was small, means I went to a LOT of schools. Then, despite changing schools again in order to do my selection of A-Levels, I ended up attending yet another school parallel to the first (eighth) because they cancelled the course after AS. But I digress.

Being a Brit living in Germany generally confuses things anyway, but in this case makes things especially complicated because I don’t have the same sort of report as they do. We have a final exam/coursework based grade and a certificate for each subject, they have a report with the result of every test they’ve ever taken on it. Someone works out the average overall grade, based on how many hours over how many years were spent learning which subject and [probably] what the headteacher eats for breakfast. At least I think that’s what they do. What sort of school you went to, and in which county, determines what people think of the number produced at the end of all the calculations. Whatever. I don’t have one. So I have to explain what my string of letters mean to the official people who are expecting a solitary number.

Oh yeah, and I spent a year ‘dossing’ between sixth form and starting my apprenticeship. At least on paper I dossed. In reality, chasing after small children didn’t feel much like dossing.

I haven’t figured out how to fit all that on one side of A4, so that it’s still readable, and fits the requirements of being in reverse chronological order. Yet.

I would be quite happy to spend the next few weeks working on it (like playing Tetris), but it should already be lying on the nice lady’s desk. And it’s worth something like 1500€. *sighs* With a price tag like that it ought to be at the top of my priority list. Which it was for about 3 minutes, and then life happened. Which is why I was still up at 12:30 last night. At one point it looked quite hopeful that I was going to have something to show for my lack of sleep, until my printer decided it was going to have a headache and print one stripy line a minute. ARGH.

I gave up, washed my hair and went to bed. I did admittedly sleep remarkably well, until the lorry reversed into my room anyway.

I left the house at least 6 minutes too late, realised it was raining, rushed back upstairs for my umbrella, rushed back down my stairs and then up the next flight of steps to the street (oh the joys of living on a hill ;)). I arrived, with wet feet and my jeans a couple of shades darker than usual, 1 (or 3) minutes late, depending on which clock you go by. This remarkably didn’t translate into decibels, but rather into a scowl which, while not being particularly upcheering, was at least gentler on the ears.


The connection to the title? Pff.. Isn’t that obvious? I didn’t eat much yesterday, and didn’t leave myself time for breakfast. Running while hungry is silly, and much harder than it ought to be. The rain didn’t help, but I can usually make the journey in about 9 minutes if I run compared to 17 if I walk, today I needed 14 despite attempting to run between alternate lampposts.

Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an overkill, but I need something to blame 🙂

On being recognised

On the way back from church this morning, I walked past a group of small bundles which I presumed were children. From the identical noses and blonde pigtails – only just about visible under the hats – I decided 2 of them must be the twins from Sunday School. There can’t be that many small blonde twins within walking distance of my church after all. I said hi in a vague ‘good-morning-to-strangers’ kind of way and carried on homewards. The women standing with them ignored me completely, but the kids said (in a stage whisper loud enough for me to hear them several paces away), “That’s the new lady from Sunday School!” This was followed by some kind of mumbling which I assume must have been their reply, whereupon they told them who I was for a second time.

I’ve been in Sunday School exactly twice; 3 weeks ago and a month before that. Way back when I was 4 I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t’ve been able to recognise someone walking past, having only seen them twice. Specially if they were dressed differently and I was playing a game..

Quite liked being recognised tho 😉

On the danger of helping at Jumble Sales

My new stool rocks! 🙂
Someone apparently thought I was responsible enough to sell lunch tickets..

I have just got back from the church bazaar. I set out to help sell lunch tokens (which I think I already mentioned ;)) and since I was offered a lift home and a meal as a reward, I stuck around to help out with tidying up.

As a result, I’ve ended up with 40 books, 4 boxes of “stuff”, 2 tubs of leftover “Linsen mit Spaetzle” and a new rocking stool  (fantastic things – apparently good for your back muscles too).

Once the official selling time ran out, everything was sorted into boxes to keep for next year or to throw away. Boxes of ceramics and pottery, boxes of glassware, boxes of wood, boxes of plastic, boxes of books. I’m not nearly as heartless as the professionals, so I wasn’t really a lot of help on the scrapping front. After half an hour of standing aimlessly in the way and asking busy people if things were to keep or throw, I decided it’d be more useful if I swept the floor and moved the boxes other people had filled. So I did that. Sweeping floors is brilliant. Not only do I quite like doing it anyway, cuz you can see it has an effect, but it also makes you look like you’re really helpful and efficient when all you’re really doing is wandering about.. *grins*

My fir cone men

I was given a jar of apple jelly, a couple of pieces of cake and 2 cups of tea. I bought some ueber cute fir cone men made by the kids at an outdoor Kindergarten.

In between wandering and sweeping, I ‘rescued’ quite a lot of things from certain ‘death’ or at least from the bin. This is where the boxes of ‘stuff’ appear on the scene.

Things like picture frames can be tarted up (I have LOTS of as yet unframed pictures), plant pots are almost always good, as are serving plates (the sort you put biscuits on when people come over for tea).

On the other hand, some of the stuff is quite obviously anything but Jessish. So why bring it back? Mostly because it would have been thrown away otherwise and I’m pretty sure I can sell it or give it to someone who’ll appreciate it. Hopefully. If I can’t, I can always throw it away myself. That’s the long-term plan anyway.

The short-term plan is to sort my kitchen out (which I still haven’t done), and find homes for all my new things, though probably not in that order…

YAY 🙂

P.S. I walked down to the church hall with this amazing sky:

I love sky 🙂

On fighting suitcases…

(-The story behind yesterday’s walk home-)

Over the years I’ve had a fair bit of practice at this. As a kid we went on holiday incredibly regularly. Mostly camping, or visiting grandparents, but nevertheless ‘going away’. This almost always calls for packing and carrying some kind of luggage. The folks packed the tent and other useful stuffages so I only had to pack MY things. Usually a backpack is enough for a short trip, but since we almost invariably drove to our final destination it didn’t really matter if things didn’t fit. We had the sort of suitcases you can sit on to do up, ones with buckles and locks. Later, ones with zips. When the family took up flying and hostelling, backpacking moved more into focus. We seemed to fly to the most distant airport from where we wanted to end up, and walk. Walking from an airport equates to carrying your backpack. We also spent considerable time travelling between towns and beaches and generally being on the move. Over time it became normal to have a really good think about whether something made the grade to stay packed, BEFORE setting out. When I started DofE I realised just how important it was to get everything into one backpack, including all the important stuff like tents, sleeping bags and stoves.. (Having a bag with decent straps is also sensible, but that’s a different story). Doing the Offa’s Dyke walk a couple of years later I was surprised to find that not everyone had had the same experience. We (as a group, so as not to name names) sent approximately 25 kg of ‘excess baggage’  home from a remote post office en route.

At some point in [my] history, suitcases with wheels became more common. I don’t know why they hadn’t been thought of before, but they’re a brilliant invention. Anyone who has tried travelling with 30kg of anything will back me up on this.

I moved to Germany 7 and a bit years ago and since then have had a lot of opportunity to fly, move house, visit people a long way off and go sightseeing. I have got through about 4 suitcases, with and without wheels, and have been known to pack my things in washing baskets. As a rule I have too much stuff and, despite all the warnings, still carry too much on a regular basis. Especially when coming back from shopping 😉

Considering all this, I don’t seem to have made a lot of progress when it comes to actually fighting the silly things.

My folks were here recently and left me a ‘broken’ suitcase which I think originally belonged to my sister. I don’t really know where or how it’s broken, so I’ve been using it since to go shopping. I had a party at work (will probably make its own post soon) which I needed to cater for and this meant lugging drinks and food from town to my house, and from my house to work. When I usually go foodshopping, I take cloth bags with me, pick up an empty box while perusing the isles and therefore know how much more I can buy before my arms drop off. Once everything’s paid for it makes its way into my rucksack and/or my cloth bags and I go home. Easy. Ish. I live by myself, so most of the time I only have to feed one person. I eat enough, but there’s only so much food a person [of normal build] can get through so I don’t often have to carry THAT much home – unless Aldi has a good deal on huge plastic tubs or duvets or papercutting devices that is..

This time I knew I was feeding most of the people I spend time with at work and had come prepared. I had my sisters ex-suitcase with me.  I felt ready to take on the world. I got a trolley. WHOO!! – No more juggling with halffilled boxes while bending down to get something off the bottom shelf. No more onehanded unpacking. No more looking for a bigger empty box when the original becomes too full. Bliss.

The bliss lasted until I reached the other side of the till and realised I was going to have to give my trolley back.

Damn.

Then I remembered I had my suitcase.. So all was not lost.

While I don’t have anything very much against alcohol, I don’t see why I should buy it for other people when I don’t drink it myself. This doesn’t go down well in Germany. But anyway. My party, my rules. I bought enough for everyone to comfortably drink their usual fill, except I didn’t buy beer, I bought I bought fizzy water and fruit juice. This would be largely irrelevant, if it wasn’t for the fact that liquid is heavy. Very heavy. Heavier, in fact, than I’m guessing the suitcase had ever been subjected to previously. 18 bottles of water a 1.5L plus 16 L of fruitjuice = 43L. Assuming the packaging weighs nothing (which blatantly isn’t true) and that water and juice both weigh 1kg/L that’s 43kg. And I didn’t only buy drinks. I also bought crisps and other frivolities like onions and lettuce.

Having got myself and my shopping out of both the trolley and the shop, I realised I had left my buspass at home with my previous pile of shopping (even I don’t try to buy real food at the same time as drinks). I phoned a friend. No luck – when faced between going out for dinner and lugging the best part of 50kg up a hill I know what I would choose. They chose it too. The other people I tried phoning – the people I know have a car – were out. Walking it is then – YAY!! And then I found a bus ticket in my pocket. Not my buspass, where I can travel for ‘free’ (as long as I pay the monthly subscription), but a proper ticket which needs stamping. Better than nothing, and certainly better than walking the “long miles” (/4km) home (thanks RT).

Once on the bus I decided that my original idea was a very silly one, and that it made no sense to take anything home which was going to be needed for the party. I got off the bus at the stop closest to where I work (luckily on the same busroute) and tried to persuade the suitcase it wanted to come with me. It took more persuasion than I care to write about, but we both ended up on the pavement so it was okay. So far so good. Now to go about getting from the busstop to the party room. It is a stretch of maybe 150m. It usually takes about 2-3 minutes to get there, including the time you have to wait for the lights to go green. For this trip I think I needed something more in the region of 23 minutes. I stopped every few metres to let the blood back into my fingers and to get my breath back. I’d swap hands and tackle the next couple of metres and then stop again. I don’t remember the last time I made such slow and painfull progress.

When we finally got there, I unloaded everything liquid out of the bag and went home.
The next day (after a remarkably short night) I packed the 3 deep trays of freshly prepared lasagne into my trusty suitcase and trudged into work. They too were heavy, but nothing compared to the ordeal of the evening before.

The party happened, or didn’t as the case may be, and the leftovers were left for the next day. The next day came and went without making much of a mark on anything, which is why I came to once more be dragging my suitcase on and off busses and fighting for blood in my fingertips. However, I did leave the juice at work, to be collected at a later date. I might be a little overenthusiastic when packing but I don’t have a death wish.

The handle is made of plastic coated cloth sewn onto the end of the case, which I guess is pretty handy, but it does mean you have to either stoop or hold the case at about 45 degrees to the floor.

It bit me. Repeatedly.

For some reason I can only really pull suitcases or trolleys with my right hand as my left one stays too close to my body and so makes whatever I’m pulling bash my ankles. I’m used to having a telescope handle on my suitcases, which helps on the ankle-bashing front, but which this particular case doesn’t have. When you take a step the re-enforced end bashes into the back of your leg, and the handle digs into your hand and pinches the skin at the joints. Even when dragging with my right hand it bashed me. It might not have been an entirely fair fight, given that I still weigh more than it does, but I don’t think that gave me any advantages over it. I didn’t give up, but it didn’t either..  I suppose I must have won overall, since both I and it made it back in one piece, but I think I have to give it points for effort. It also appears to have suffered no damage at all, whereas my leg is decidedly more bruised than it was when I started.