On peppers in November

(posted on the 1st, but somehow got stuck in the works)

One of my customers brought me a chili-pepper plant today. He wanted to thank me for getting his glass stuff finished so quickly. I didn’t actually have very much to do with his glass, my colleague did 95% of the work, but I do appreciate the pepper. (And obviously my 5% was the most important 5% ;))

Look at how pretty it is!

Talking of peppers, someone told me it’s November today… Apparently that means something to some people..

On the joys of living in a small town

There was a festival in my town today. A whole street full of small market stalls in celebration of local root vegetables (!!). The butcher sold special sausages and other people sold various other things. I had a hot one when I arrived, and planned to buy a packet of raw sausages to take home, once I’d been round the rest of the market stalls. By the time I got back to the butcher’s stall, I was out of money. When I asked whether they’d continue selling them during the next week the saleslady said they’d freeze and sell whatever was left after the market, but wouldn’t be making any more until next year. Then she asked where I lived. I told her and she wrote a number on the back of a business card and handed it to me. The butcher is apparently based a couple of towns away, but the saleslady’s mother lives on my street. She’ll leave a packet here when she packs up, and I should phone her to arrange a collection time…

..Where else would that happen??

On the best thing about having one’s own freezer

You can fill it with icecream – and it’s nobody’s business but your own πŸ™‚

A couple of years ago, the last tenant bought a fridge freezer unit to fit the kitchen, and because it’s a weird size, she left it here when she left.

If it was officially made part of the flat’s inventory, the landlord would be responsible for making sure it works which he didn’t want to be or do.

Getting rid of it in order to buy a new one would be ridiculous, so he offered it to me, for free, to use as long as it lives (and to theoretically take with me when I leave).

So it’s mine.

And it’s full of ice cream πŸ™‚

(And pizza, though that’s not as exciting)

***

Once upon a time, in my other flat, I had a chest freezer… Theoretically I still do, it’s just 50 miles away and full of sensible things like homemade ready meals and bread which need eating before it’s moveable. It’s huge, and that’s good too, in a different way from the tiny one I have here. The best thing about it is always having space for leftovers πŸ™‚ and having loads of things to choose from when you don’t feel like cooking.

***

Back to the ice cream.

When your house is full of boxes and things that need cleaning, sometimes the best thing to do is find something to lean on, and lean on it while you eat ice cream directly out of the tub and look at all the things you will do ‘later’…

Which is what I spent a very pleasant half hour or so doing just now πŸ™‚

On ice cream and no spoon

My younger self spent many (MANY) hours sitting on benches in various parks and town squares, eating icecream. Sometimes by myself, sometimes with friends, sometimes (and probably most often) with my siblings.

This was such a common occurrence, that we each kept an emergency spoon in our bags or wallets.

Yesterday I found myself alone in a new town, with a couple of hours to kill. It was incredibly warm, I had my luggage with me so I couldn’t do much easy sight seeing,  and to be honest, I really couldn’t be bothered to go anywhere or do anything. Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing to spend time doing.

On the other hand, I hadn’t drunk anything since early in the morning, and dehydration isn’t fun. 

I walked from the train station to the nearest supermarket and looked at all the ice creams on offer. Then I remembered that I no longer carry my spoon with me.

It’s been years since I had opportunity to use it… That was extraordinarily upsetting. I don’t know how I let such an integral part of my identity slide so far without even realising it.

In the end, I bought a packet of mini-milks. They have wooden sticks and taste like walking home from school as a little kid.

That was an adequate substitute, but I intend to find my spoon when I get back, and put it back in its rightful place in my purse.

πŸ™‚

On green cards, chocolate and a small flashing light

That very short list just about covers the things I’m living for at the moment.

The stacks of carefully written green and blue cards prove I’m revising, the chocolate provides motivation to carry on writing, and the small flashing light makes me smile as it blinks to tell me someone’s written to me.

​

On planting my lunch

A seed fell out of my lunch yesterday:

It had already started growing, so I planted it. (People without access to compost and plant pots in their lunch break are obviously missing out πŸ˜‰ *)

Even if I don’t really have room for an apple tree in my garden, I figured it should have a chance to do its thing. And there are always other people with bigger gardens if it ever gets too big for a tub.

Then I opened the other seed cavities and found two more ready-germinated seeds, so I planted them too.

In a couple of years I’ll need a volunteer who’s willing to host my orchard :).
* I only do as of yesterday morning – my tomato plants were shooting up without enough light to make them strong. The office at work faces mostly south, which is often a pain, but is probably good for the tomatoes…

On making the first mince pies of the season (or ever)

I don’t remember the last time I waited until this close to Christmas to start making mince pies…

Last night, a friend came over. She’s German and had never even heard of mince pies, let alone thought about making one. That obviously had to be rectified. Here’s the process of rectification:

Pre-rolled puff pastry. It was supposed to be specially amazing with extra butter, but it was sticky and soft and just generally hard to work with – next time I’ll stick to the usual stuff πŸ™‚
Normal sized tray – miniature moulds
6 rolls of puff pastry later there was still mince meat left in the first of 6 litre-tubs…
No way I’m going to faff about with a pastry brush – I dunk the lids in a mixture of milk and beaten egg, push one side into the top of a pile of sugar and hope they land sugar side up when I throw them towards the cases…
The first plateful (proper sized) – mostly straight out of the oven

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I think she done good πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
(Photos feature my friend’s hands – I was wielding the camera :))

On breaking the spoon

It’s nearly my birthday, which means it’s mincemeat making month πŸ™‚

Originally I planned to spend Sunday afternoon chopping apples and peeling lemons and squeezing oranges in a yearly tradition of stickiness. Then a phone conversation happened and I ran out of afternoon before I ran out of things to say.

When I got home from work today, I discovered that the first of the lemons I washed on Sunday were peacefully going mouldy at the bottom of the fruit bowl.

Time to wash the rest, and get started on the mincemeat project.

Just when everything was in the saucepan and I thought I was almost finished, I broke my wooden spoon.

Luckily I have a second wooden spoon spare…

On firsts

Today was a day of firsts.

Not only did I drive the best part of 600km across Germany, I also ate at a restaurant by myself :).

In addition, there were a whole heap of smaller and/or tiny firsts, including mending/editing the directory of the work’s computer to get it to recognise the user profile, diluting antifreeze for my windscreen wiper water, buying my first own iced coffees in a supermarket (I’ve only ever drunk/stolen DBs’ up to now), poking the button on a car park machine to provide me with a ticket and make the barrier go up (had to back up and try again to be anywhere near close enough to reach it! ;)), unwrapping and eating toffees while driving, changing the radio station while driving, driving on a motorway in the rain, overtaking 3 lorries at once (admittedly not in the rain), driving at 160-170kph (for more than a few seconds), driving through an 8km tunnel, navigating the million traffic cones in a roadworks-labyrinth in the dark, driving in a pedestrian precinct (by mistake), not finishing a meal in a restaurant..

The pedestrian precinct by day. This is where I found the way out πŸ™‚

I am now incredibly proud of myself, and even more incredibly sleepy.

πŸ™‚

πŸ™‚

πŸ™‚

Good night all.

πŸ™‚ zzzzzzzzz

On choosing

(From late January…)

Some people know exactly what they want, what they like. When they have to choose something, anything, they make their choices based on pre-decided ideas.

Say they like strawberry ice cream. If they want ice cream they will find an ice cream shop or van or stand or other vendor (probably the first one they see, or one they already know) and buy one. It doesn’t matter if they’re faced with a full range of ice cream flavours, they will choose strawberry. They won’t bother paying much attention to the mint choc chip or the coconut or the pineapple (or all the rest) because they already know that they want strawberry. They will walk away from the ice cream stand, enjoying their strawberry ice cream, totally satisfied with their choice. The rest of the day is free for new thoughts and new choices.

I am not that person (and this post isn’t really about icecream).

I probably won’t think about ice cream until I see someone eating one. Then I have to choose where to go, which of the many salespeople to support. Is it better to pay more for the person who makes it herself, but has chosen the warmest place for her stand (increasing the electricity consumption, and probably the rent, but who already has people queueing up along the pavement and is unlikely to go out of business, and maybe she doesn’t actually make it herself anyway), or to make the effort to walk that bit further to the one in the shade which looks like it could do with a paint job (but may be unable to afford the scaffolding, because everyone else is going to the new, brightly coloured place which might put them out of business completely soon, which would make the paintwork even less worthwhile. Although they might have better ice cream, because they’ve been there for ages and they wouldn’t have lasted so long otherwise, would they?) or would the newly opened frozen yoghurt place be a better option? Maybe I should wait until I go to the supermarket later? That’s better value. But then it’s not supporting anyone personally, they won’t even notice, and they aren’t environmentally friendly or efficient with their freezer lorries. But making icecream en masse is bound to be more efficient than in small batches. Except they will use preservatives and food colourings and sweeteners and…. Oh look! There’s another ice cream stand!

And that’s before I’ve even got round to looking at the flavours…

You get the idea. I won’t elaborate further.

Once I buy my icecream and walk out of the shop, all the flavours I didn’t choose start running through my head. I start wondering if I made the best choice. Maybe the peach would’ve been a good choice after all. They had sorbet, I haven’t had a sorbet for ages. Perhaps lemon would’ve been more refreshing than the coconut? Maybe they have the most amazing chocolate icecream in the whole world and I missed it because I decided I can get chocolate icecream everywhere and went for something uncommon instead. I tend to do that. If I know most of the flavours on offer (or most of the meals on the menu) I will choose something I don’t know.*

I will still be wondering if it was the best choice when I finish eating. Especially if the people I’m with are busy enthusing about how awesome their’s is/was.

***

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see talk to my favourite optician. (Told you it wasn’t a post about icecream)

I’d been to the German eye-doctor, and she’d given me the go ahead to get glasses made up and a sick note to let me off work until the end of the month.

DB was at work.
The electrician wasn’t due until the next day.

I had time on my hands.

Luckily.

***

Usually sight tests begin with the optician trying to blind you with bright lights.

My optician skipped that part because, as she said, I’d “had more than [my] fair share of bright lights shone in [my] eyes recently”. Did I mention that she’s my favourite optician?

The first test lenses brought back the outlines – exhilarating, after almost a month of blur. After the initial leap towards sight, we started fine tuning and the world, my world, slowly came [back] into focus. A couple of degrees more or less, a quarter of a dioptre here or there, B is suddenly better than A and you can look across the street and read the adverts in the shop windows. The ones you only knew were there because all shops have windows and most of them advertise something. Incredible really.

After witnessing the world become clearer and clearer, I was reluctant to take the test glasses off.

(A side note for anyone who has perfect eyesight and never had need of an eye test: the test glasses are bulky, heavy, uncomfortable things. They slot various lenses in and out of the chunky frame, asking whether A is better or worse than B. Usually it’s tedious and you want to take them off as soon as possible. This time it was amazing and I wanted to keep them on.)

I did though, hard as it was, when she promised to get my glasses made up as soon as possible.

***

Turns out that was the easy part.

The hard part was choosing a pair of glasses that I liked, that I could wear everywhere and with everything, that didn’t block my view, but that didn’t dig into my cheeks. A pair that would be strong enough to cope with nights next to the tissue box on my bedside table, and being squished every time I pull a jumper over my head without thinking about it, without being too heavy. I don’t like seeing the frame when I’m trying to look at the world, although to be honest, I don’t really like seeing ANYthing get in the way of what I’m looking at. I don’t like it when the lenses are so tiny that you end up peering at things, and yet I also don’t like the HUGE lenses that make you look like a fly. I don’t want the corners to turn upwards or downwards. I don’t want Harry Potter style round ones.

(Yes, I’m a fusspot, tell me something new..).

Why don’t they only stock 3 frames?! There could be a range of colours, the same for each design.. but it would make it easier to choose. πŸ™‚

***

The optician is amazingly patient, in a way I can only dream of imitating. She handed me pair after pair of glasses, alternately held the mirror or the next pair, suggesting this or that and guiding me slowly towards a final choice.

2 hours later (see? there’s a reason for my favouritism!) I left the shop with a small collection-reminder-card, not that I really needed it. She knows me and my prescription (and presumeably) most of her other customers, by heart. She had my contact lenses, back when I wore them, in her hand ready for me between seeing me walk through the gate and actually entering the shop.. And she’d promised to phone me when they were ready to collect, so I didn’t even need it for the date.

But anyway. There I was with the card.

The card that meant I’d made a choice, and that in a couple of minutes when she’d phoned the order through, it would be too late to change my mind.

I walked home in a fuzzy haze. You miss seeing so much more when you’ve just been shown how much you’d see if you could see. If that makes sense.

Weather was good though πŸ™‚

***

A niggly thought crept up to me on the way home and ran round my head for the next couple of days.

“What if they look really stupid? Maybe I should have chosen those other ones. Maybe I should have taken DB in with me after all. Maybe they’re meant to be for old people and I’ll age 40 years when I put them on. Maybe the colour’s wrong, there were some other colours in the same style, maybe I should have gone for them instead? Maybe maybe maybe…..

Argh.

Sometimes I could do with an off-switch in my head.

******

They turned out to be 3 parts of perfect πŸ™‚

– not that they could have been anything else really, my optician would never let me out with something she couldn’t be proud of –

Now I just need to work on being happy with my choices at the time I make them! πŸ™‚

******

 

* Note to other adventurous icecream eaters: Indian “sugar apple” is not a good flavour for icecream (nor, according to my one real, born-and-grown-up-in-India, Indian friend, for anything else). That was the first and only time I have ever been unable to eat more than a couple of teaspoons of icecream. Ever. And I am a pretty good icecream eater πŸ˜‰ Luckily, on that rare occasion, my brother was here to stay. Even though we’d agreed to buy two unknown flavours and go halves he came to my rescue and ate my half for me. He even forfeited most of his half of the lychee icecream (which I also won’t order again, but which was a whole lot more edible than sugar apple) AND he still speaks to me πŸ™‚ Isn’t he awesome?! Obviously, he’s awesome for a million reasons, but saving me from the horrors of sugar apple icecream is a very important factor ;).