On happy fish

Last weekend I went back to the fish market. I didn’t get there until about half an hour before the end, thanks to yoga, but there were still fish on offer.

Some of the sellers remembered me from last time, and some I spoke to for the first time.

One, when I asked him what his fish needed in order to be happy, shook with laughter and said he’d never heard of happy fish before. Apparently I am the first person he’s spoken to who wants their fish to be happy, as opposed to healthy, or the right colour, or good at producing young.

I think happy is a good criteria.

I came home with 21 new fish…

I’m going to need a fourth aquarium soon, at this rate ;).

On using the wrong strap

Backpacks, like suitcases, are something I ought to know more about than I do. I have carried some kind of backpack/rucksack/satchel/shoulder bag/handbag/bookbag/shopping bag/sport-kit-bag/…. almost every day for the last 25 years, on average probably multiple times per day.

Having said that, and considering how long quarter of a century sounds, I haven’t actually had that many different bags.

This is mostly because I get attached to them but also because I don’t like shopping much. This means I wear (/use?) them until they wear out or fall to bits, whichever comes first.

My latest is no exception.

It was one of the last in a box in Aldi. It was (and is :)) purple and perfectly tined to coincide with finally having to admit that a bag with 2 broken zips is more than defunct. It was perfect, in the way that only Aldi-backpacks can be perfect.

I bought it and ignored the small voice telling me it was probably sewn together by small Chinese children, pacifying my conscience with the knowledge that if I bought it it would almost definitely get more use than leaving it for someone else (which admittedly is no excuse for child labour).

That was a couple of years ago.

These days, as a result of daily maltreatment, 3 tonnes of textbooks and a couple of bottles of water, it looks like this:

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This is a very good example of not heeding the stitch-in-time proverb. I am now looking at a whole lot more than nine stitches! 🙁

My bag is in the process of losing a strap, and I am in the process of coming to terms with the fact that I will need to mend it.

 

 

In the meantime I am learning, or at least trying to learn, to use the other strap instead. It’s a whole lot harder than it sounds.

***

I wear my backpack on both shoulders if I’m walking any distance, but I heave it onto my left shoulder first, and leave it there if I’m only going a couple of paces. If I need to take anything out of it without putting it down, I’ll swing it off my right shoulder and rummage through the contents, leaning the weight on the left strap.

I think this left-shoulderism stems back to a black leather shoulder bag I inherited from a friend (who goes through bags at an astounding rate of knots (or bags) in year 8 or 9. It only had one strap and I had to choose a side. I don’t remember what I did before that.

Moving to Germany meant multiple flights (and other journeys) made with a wheeled suitcase and a laptop bag. I, probably automatically by then, wore my laptop bag on my left (although strangely, often with the strap on my right shoulder), leaving my right side free for a suitcase. Having the suitcase on the right also meant that it was usually between me and the road which I think is generally a good thing.

After 5 or 6 years I had a fight with a suitcase . Now, 11 years on, I am almost incapable of changing sides. It feels so wrong, and my entire stance  unstable,  but I suppose that just means there’s more reason to practise.

Apparently, according to an article I read a while ago (and which I can no longer find), using the wrong hand to do routine activities (like brushing your teeth) can improve all kinds of things like memory or creativity etc. Here’s a link to a different but similar article. Maybe it works with carrying bags too…
…then maybe I’ll remember to mend it at the weekend (and be creative enough to get a load more revision cards written. 🙂

On perfume shopping (part 2)

The perfume fiasco didn’t go unnoticed by my dearest DB. We didn’t have enough time to rectify the situation before the wedding and I thought I’d got away without buying one until we were on the boat to England a couple of weeks later.

The trouble with ferries is they are equipped with dutyfree shops and more time than most people can bear to sit and stare out of the window. I happily agreed to accompany DB in, and to watch him buy whisky and stickers for the van’s headlights. I wasn’t aware though, just how sneaky he can be. After choosing his whisky and picking up the stickers, he steered me not towards the tills, but towards the smelly part of the shop I’d been avoiding – the perfume department. It didn’t look like I was getting out of it. We sprayed numerous paper strips, but neither of us had a pen to write the names down, so by the time we’d sprayed the 4th or 5th scent and mixed up the strips, we had no hope of ever figuring out which was which.

When the helpful voice in the overhead speakers told us it was almost time to land and that the shop would be closing shortly, we bought the one we could remember having sniffed twice.

It smells like rather artificial lemons. But I guess I wanted one which had a recognisable scent.

On perfume shopping (part 1)

– or shopping with SD continued-

I’ve experimented with perfume even less than with make-up.

I hate it when people leave scent trails, unless they’re REALLY good ones, and then I stalk them MWAHAHAHAHAA!!! No. I don’t really stalk people. I’m just really fussy about the ones I would stalk if it was down to smell.

My dearest DB asked me to buy myself a perfume, which he would then pay for when he next saw me. I wasn’t keen on the idea, but it seemed important to him (I don’t think he was trying to tell me something…) and I’m one of those people who love to please 😉 so we went into one of the smelliest shops in the city……and failed.

I sprayed a million strips of what felt like good drawing paper with a million different chemical offerings. Nowhere in the whole shop was a perfume to be found that actually smelt of a specific thing, be it peaches, roses, lavender, cloves, or bleach*. SD thought the idea that perfume should represent anything hilarious. Also, it is impossible to sniff more than about 5 or 6 different perfumes without deadening your nose to everything. I have no idea how anyone chooses a perfume based on anything other than the bottle or the name.

After a very long time, and even more persuasion, I sprayed one onto me instead of the paper strips. SD chose one she wanted to buy and we left.

SD’s boyfriend was waiting for us when we came out. SD held my arm up to his nose and asked what he thought. Confusion doesn’t come close to describing his expression. Once she’d explained that he was supposed to give us his opinion on the perfume, he duly obliged, sniffing and saying it was ‘very nice’ in that polite way people do when they don’t actually care, but don’t want to offend. I could understand his lack of interest – if anyone had asked me a week earlier I wouldn’t’ve reacted any differently. We wandered towards the clothes and jewellery shop, chatting about random things, until SD remembered she’d been successful and waved her own wrist at him. He pulled a face and said, “what on earth’s THAT???” Which was much more honest, but didn’t go down very well, especially since mine had received a rather different reaction.

She stomped off ahead, leaving us to exchange glances, and trail after her.

We didn’t make things better when she asked us what we thought of a salmon coloured shirt. As a style-no-hoper, I got away with saying I didn’t like the colour much, her dear boyfriend, who also didn’t appreciate the delicate orange tones, got the full brunt of her displeasure. I can’t say I was jealous 😉

I bought earrings and a couple of flowery hairslides – they’d at least keep the hair out of my eyes if nothing else – and I was fully kitted out to go to the party.

Once we were all thoroughly tired of shopping, we went to buy icecream.

Icecream can make a lot of things better, and I can’t actually say I hadn’t enjoyed myself, but I think in future I need a fairy Godmother with a magic wand – getting all prettied up was never that much work in the fairytales!

Oh yeah, and the sandals had made holes in my toes while I was walking.

 

* No. I don’t want to smell like bleach. I just wanted them to make their perfume smell like something.

On make-up shopping

– or shopping with Swimming-D –

I don’t wear make-up.

I was going to add ‘ever’ but that would be lying. I dabbled in it a lot, or rather dabbled in a lot of it, as a toddler, smearing lipstick over my forehead, cheeks and chin while my mother wasn’t looking*, and again as a teenager, for parties where I had to be a pirate or a goth. I’d even tried ‘normal’ make-up a couple of times, but it hadn’t been a hit – my boyfriend at the time said he preferred me without any – and I was too lazy to learn to do it properly and/or fast enough for it to be an integral part of my being. I decided at some point that it’s much better to be “naturally beautiful” [insert cheesy smile here] and banished all things make-up related from my vocabulary and thoughts.

Recently though, I was caught on camera wearing make-up at a wedding.

Apparently going to weddings not only calls for pretty dresses, it also calls for make-up. Even if you don’t wear any the rest of the time.

Swimming-D told me this.

She was at my house to help me choose a dress and shoes and jewellery (serious business this wedding lark I tell you!) and asked where my make-up was. When I finished searching through my [newly organised] bathroom cupboard and [not so organised] jewellery box and presented her with a mascara, a bottle of bright red nail varnish and a couple of eyeshadows, she was appalled. Even more so when she discovered that the mascara had dried up (probably years ago) and most of the eyeshadow had seen more solid days. She decided we were going shopping.

This wedding had better be worth it – I’ve already been dress shopping this year!

SD went home, more in despair than disgust, having arranged to meet up in town the next day.

I wore one of my other new dresses to go shopping in. SD had said I should wear it “just because”, instead of just on ‘special occasions’ so I did. I figured going shopping for make-up needs different attire than my usual plain T-shirt and floppy skirt. One obviously can’t go out in a posh(ish) dress without wearing matching shoes (obviously!), so I wore the sandals I’d bought with E last year and hadn’t worn properly since, and I left my hair down. I hardly ever leave my hair ‘open’ because it flops in my eyes, gets in my way, makes my neck sweat. In turn, these factors have a tendency to make me aggressive. I’d only just had it cut though, and both Swimming-D and my DB (= dear Boyfriend) had told me I had to leave it down for the wedding. So I was practising.

She only just recognised me when we met up in town. Her bf had no idea who I was until SD made a beeline for me and hugged me.. To be fair I’ve only ever met him a handful of times, and if he stood with his back to me outside a shop wearing an army uniform (as an example of something I can’t imagine him ever wearing) I almost definitely wouldn’t recognise him either.

It’s quite disturbing how much of an impression clothes make.

So anyway.

There we both were in town. Me dressed up in a dress and high-heeled sandals, SD in her usual ‘chic-but-not-too-chic’ going shopping clothes.

As we made our way through the crowds of milling-about-people towards the closest make-up shop, I felt like a small child being dragged somewhere it really doesn’t want to go, but knows it has no choice. I generally steer away from the sort of shop that sells make-up, feeling out of place among the thousands of scantily-clad, but thickly-masked ladies, but on this occasion I was a woman on a mission. Or at least WITH a woman on a mission. SD led me directly to mascara aisle. Okay, so the aisle wasn’t entirely devoted to mascara, but every shelf along the aisle had its own mascara section. Why they have to sort the shop out by brand and not by product I don’t know. It seems a silly idea. If they tried doing the same thing in a supermarket they might as well open a dozen smaller shops inside the main building, as well as a load of stalls for the companies too small to warrant a whole shop.

Apparently mascara-application is a science. Each manufacturer has a range of brushes and they’re accompanied by a variety of silly names.. volcano for example. I think I’d actually rather not look like a volcano, nor would I like one to go off in my face. But there we are. I don’t have a clue.

Once we decided Volcano Mascara was the one to go for, it was time to look at face powder. I’ve never been at all convinced it’s necessary, but even I could see it was sneaky stuff. You can make the bags-under-your-eyes blend into the rest of your face, so even though you look worse close up, from a distance no one can see you haven’t slept enough for the last 3 years.

We chose one that doubles up as foundation if you apply it wet. It hadn’t got nearly as interesting a name. Not even the colour was exciting. It appears my face is beige. Well isn’t that dandy?! I’ve always wanted to know I have a beige face.

Next we moved onto nail varnish. I’d brought my dress with me, so we colour matched. The best match was naturally on the shelf marked ‘expensive nail varnish’ (or numbers to that effect),

I added it to my basket, along with a white pearly one, and 2 different clear lacks. Yes, I suppose I got carried away, but nail varnish is something I know more about, and actually wore on a regular basis until I started school here and my mother gave them to my aupair daughter. Okay, I didn’t wear them plain, the way most people do, I wore multiple colours, or stripes, or spots, or flowers or anything else I could be bothered to paint with them. I didn’t ever go as far as getting them done professionally though.

SD dragged me away from the brochure telling the world how fantastically cool it is to wear a different colour on each finger (amen!) with the words, “ARGH! You’re going to a WEDDING…”

The finishing touch was provided by an ‘enhancing’ lipstick, supposed to amplify your original colour. SD was more taken with various shades of pink, but I was adamant.

I paid, and the contents of the barely lined mini-basket cost as much as, if not more than, a weekly grocery shop.

Next stop perfume.

ARGH.

On Perfect days

(Anyone who read my earlier posts – or spoke to me during May – knows I was invited to spend a week “messing about on a river” (and connecting lakes). This post should have been posted directly after getting back (mid June) but somehow wasn’t. I’m going to post it now anyway)

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Some days are just so perfect nothing could make them better. They’re even perfect in the moment you’re living them, not just in your memory afterwards.

They’re pretty few-and-far-between, but they do exist.

The first Saturday of the boat trip was one of them. The rest of the boat trip was fantastic too, but there’s something about doing things for the first time that makes them special.

This post won’t do it justice, but I’m going to write about it anyway in the hope I can convey a fraction of the amazingness to screen-paper.

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I arrived on Friday, was picked up from the station, fed, watered and sent to bed.

I woke to the promise of warm breadbuns for breakfast. By the time I was up and dressed the promise was reallife and waiting for me on the table.

We packed the car and after a brief detour to the workshop to do some last-minute finishing off, we found ourselves parked in a playground on the banks of a huge lake on the outskirts of the city looking at a row of motor and sailing boats, one of which was to be our home for the next week-and-a-bit.

We unloaded the contents of the car into a heap on the pier and I misused a kid’s trampoline while R parked the car where it wouldn’t disturb anyone. I love trampolining, even if the sign forbids anyone over 14 the pleasure of bouncing. Luckily the trampoline police were on duty elsewhere and I got off with being laughed at by R as he came back to start loading the boat.

The only way onto the boat was a thin wooden plank leading off the wooden pier and across the water.

The plank wobbled.

Also the boat rocked if you touched it. I don’t balance better when holding onto something unstable.

I’m not particularly scared of walking on curbstones, and the plank was considerably wider than a curbstone. However. Something in the knowledge that the plank was at least a metre above the water, whereas the curbstone is a maximum of maybe 10cm above the road, made walking along it that much more nervewracking.

Having made it to the boat carrying considerably less than I could carry along a curbstone, R wisely decided I ought to stay inside the boat. He fetched the rest of our stuff while I stowed it somewhere it’d be out-of-the-way yet accessible for the rest of the week.

As soon as the pier was empty we were off 🙂

R’s friend A and A’s nephew D were already onboard A’s boat and waiting for us to get our butts in gear and catch them up.

The first port-of-call was the filling-station.

Filling a boat is very strange. For starters you have to pull up alongside the fuel pump in your boat and then tie it up before you can fill it. I don’t drive, but I’ve never seen anyone tie their car up, and I don’t remember ever tying my motorbike up. I clambered out of the boat and stood on the ‘bank’ out of the way.

When the tanks were full, we untied the boats, moved 50yards up the river and ‘parked’ (involving more tying up) so we could go shopping. We didn’t want to leave the boats unattended, so A and D went shopping first, then it was our turn. The shop was a good 5 minute walk from the river so they brought the shopping trolley back with them. We laughed, took photos 🙂 and walked the empty trolley back to the shop. R refused to walk the trolley back after we’d shopped, so we left it in its trolley shed and carried our shopping back to the boat.

We now had food for the boat and food for us. We needed water. We stopped at a very small port, where a man threw the end of a hosepipe at us and wished us a good day when we threw it back to him.

All things being sorted, we were finally ready to go.

 

It didn’t take long before R suggested I drive. Drive? Steer? Whatever one does to boats to make them go where you want them to go.

As I said above, I don’t drive, but I was curious and 8km/h is a speed even I can handle, so I agreed and he set about telling me how it works. I slid onto his side of the ‘sofa’ and took the wheel. A drove in front of us setting both the speed and the direction, so I just had to follow him without ramming him, the banks of the river, the other boats, or anything else really. There’s also a guage to tell you how deep the water is. Running aground does you no favours.

It seems I am surprisingly good at steering a boat :).

Having discovered this, R relaxed and lay back in the sun. I can’t watch people being lazy if I’m not 😉 and I was supposed to be revising for my upcoming Glass-Theory-Exam, so I dug my 400 painstakingly written 13×7 cards out and handed them to R with the request to go through and ask me the questions. The rest of the day was spent with me behind the wheel and R behind the cards.

Turns out R is dyslexic and, apparently, my handwriting is appalling. Reading is something that came pretty naturally to me, so I don’t really understand how it must feel not to be able to, even if I can understand not making out other peoples’ handwriting. He stumbled through the question while I tried to work out what I might have written, then I answered and he tried to work out what I might have written and whether it coincided with what I answered.

R knows loads – often more than the teacher – and can [usually] explain it in a way that makes me want to listen, so each card became the starting point for a mini-lesson.

 

After a while we arrived at the lake. A threw the anchors out and R and D attached our boat to theirs and we all went swimming (very cold, but okay once you were in).

I lay on deck “to dry” ;). R brought me a Thermarest which meant I lay there a lot longer than strictly necessary.. 🙂

A started washing his boat, I can’t watch people being lazy when I can’t, but I can’t watch people being quite so active while I’m laying around doing nothing (actively watching them be busy doesn’t count) so I washed ‘our’ windows. I’d been irritated by all the dead flies and gunk on the windscreen while driving but hadn’t wanted to say anything… This was a fantastic opportunity to do something about it – and prove my year of washing school windows was good for something.

R sunbathed – apparently watching people clean stuff helps him sleep ;).

As soon as everything on A’s boat and the windows on ours gleamed and glistened (wonderful words :)) we settled down for a BBQ and an evening in. Our boats were joined together so that we were practically all in one ‘room’. The BBQ was on theirs, so we were able to relax (even more) and wait to be served :).

In our supermarket dash it seems R and I had stumbled across the best lamb ever. I wouldn’t recognise the packaging if I was looking for it, and I don’t even remember what the shop was called, which is a bummer, but maybe its bestness wasn’t entirely due to the sheep…

 

D is clumsier than I am 🙂 He was our dinner-entertainment, dropping and spilling things to the amusement of all (and he laughed with the rest of us, so either he’s a fantastic actor or he really didn’t care).

A washed up, R lit the oil lamps and anti-fly-candles and I sat with a Baileys-and-milk listening to the Irish country band giving a concert on the far side of the lake (even if I didn’t believe R had booked them especially) and watching the stars come out.

 

I don’t think anything could have added to the “idylle” (idyllic-ness).

On shopping successfully

I don’t much like shopping.

Food-shopping is bearable, clothes-shopping generally isn’t, although it is marginally better than shoe-shopping, and a whole lot better than bra-shopping.

I tend to avoid it if at all possible.

However.

Sometimes life strikes, and I get invited somewhere that calls for something other than jeans.

It seems life has struck.

I have been invited to not one but THREE weddings in the next 2 months.

I have a dress I wear to everything; graduations, parties.. everything. It’s long and dark chocolatey brown and fits and I would have worn it to all the weddings. Luckily none of them know each other, so I can get away with wearing the same outfit if I want. Except after consulting with H and A it became apparent that brown isn’t a good wedding colour. It seems ankle/floor length isn’t a good wedding-watching-dress length either.

Well that sucks.

I’m at home with my folks at the moment.

When I asked my mother for her opinion on what one wears to weddings and told her I was going to wear my brown dress, she suggested we went shopping.

The ensuing groaning noises were ignored, and I was whisked away to a rather lovely city to find something suitable.

3 hours later my brother was considerably more bored and my wallet would have been considerably lighter if I hadn’t paid with plastic.

In the past year I have been on 3 memorable shopping trips, for new things other than food. There may have been other trips, but I don’t remember them.

Each time I have surpassed all expectations and been awed by my success.

Last summer I bought 4 pairs of ‘shoes’ (= 2 pairs of going-out sandals, 1 pair of everyday sandals and 1 pair of summer shoes), last month I bought 4 bras (in just over half an hour before they kicked me out of the shop), and today I bought 4* dresses.

They are all delightful in their own way. If someone had asked me to describe the sort of thing I was looking for I wouldn’t have described any of them, but they are really really pretty and they fit and they weren’t even horrendously expensive.

Sometimes I amaze myself.

I’m going to need more invitations to dress up now.

*no idea what’s going on with all the 4s…

On bikes, breadbuns and guilty conciences

Once upon a time there was a little girl. She learned to ride a bike (slowly) and when she grew up she still liked cycling.

That little girl was me.

Now I’m a whole lot older, even if not that much bigger.

When I started work, I lived in a house half an hour’s walk away from the workshop. Someone told me about the annual bike-sale in the town; I went, saw and conquered and came away with the most amazing bike ever.

Anyway.

That’s all history.

My bike was stolen in June last year.

I was not amused.

I moped and refused to think about getting a replacement.

A long while later, I was asked if I cycled; “I used to..” I said, and told him the sad tale.

Shortly afterwards, [practically] on my birthday, I received an answerphone message offering me a bike. She’d bought one recently and got too ill to ride it anymore. She had wanted to donate it to the church jumble sale, but since she’d heard mine had been stolen, she felt it would be more sensible to give it to me instead.

Who turns down that kind of offer??

After dropping my parents and brother at the airport, I went to fetch it and brought it home.

And felt incredibly guilty.

I just couldn’t manage to be as grateful as I knew I ought to be.

It’s not that I usually spend my time looking in horses mouths, but this horse had an attractive tongue..

I’d just been given an almost brand-new bike…

…and I didn’t like it.

The reason?

It was the sort of bike that stops if you pedal backwards.

Other than that it was pretty cool.

But it was enough for me not to want it. That and the knowledge that somewhere out there, someone was still happily riding MY bike.

It sat, or ‘stood’ if you’re a fussy German person, in my hall since then. I kept meaning to take it out for a ride and to get myself used to the stoopid brake-system, but I never got round to it. It was too icy, too cold, too windy, too wet, too dark, there was too much snow, I was too tired, I had to go out soon, I’d just got back and it was late… etc etc etc.

The days turned to weeks, the weeks turned to months, and the months were threatening to turn into a year. The more I didn’t ride it, the more I didn’t want to and the more guilty I felt about my ungratefulness.

Then, last week, one of my Hauskreis ladies asked us what we knew about the bike-exchange. We all emparted out assorted wisdom on her, and asked her why she wanted to know. Turns out her bike had just been written off, and she was on the lookout for a new one…

… one with backward-pedalling brakes.

Wow – seems people actually WANT the things.. I was astounded

As soon as I could speak, I immediately offered her mine and they all stared at me as if I’d turned into a buffalo.

I explained and they stopped staring and we arranged for her to come over on Saturday (with breakfast) and look at it, and maybe/probably pick it up. Then we would go to the Bike-Exchange and choose a bike for me.

And that’s what we did. I spent the morning tidying my house so they could have breakfast with me. When they came they brought breadbuns, but had already eaten and wanted to get on with their day. I put the buns onto the freshly washed sideboard and wheeled the bike out for inspection. She loved it and it was duly packed into the car.

I followed it in and we were off to the bike-exchange.

3 drizzly hours later I was the proud, if slightly soggy, owner of a ‘new’ bike.

The best part of it was that the pedals were there for pedalling and not for braking 🙂

On supermarkets and inefficiency

ARGH!!

Not that I’m at all p****d off.

At myself as much as at them.

I went shopping this morning (why I’m home on a workday is another story).

I wanted to buy milk, among other things.

One of the 50.000 milk sorts was on offer.

One that’s produced by happy, non-genetically-modified-feed-fed, local cows.

It’s usually more expensive than I can justify paying for milk.

As I said, today it was on offer. So I bought 3L. I’m cooking for a party on Saturday so 3L isn’t really that much. If I hadn’t been aware that I’d have to carry it, I might have bought more.

I’d just been to the dentist and my entire mouth tasted gross. There should be laws against what dentists are allowed to put in people’s mouths. But I digress. The point is, I couldn’t wait to get home and clean my teeth.

I packed the milk (and other stuff) in my super-eco-friendly cloth bags* and didn’t check the receipt.

Sitting here, trying to convince myself that balancing the books is a good way to spend a sunny Friday morning, I just noticed the lack of on-offerness in the price of my milk.

ARGH.

Why is it not possible to transfer the price on the shelf to the till?

Do we not live in the most technologically advanced age ever? Is Germany not one of the leading machine-producing countries?

Even if it wasn’t, it can’t be that difficult to get a minion to run to the cashiers and tell them when milk is on offer.

I don’t understand why these things don’t just work without having to think about them.

ARGH.

On the positive side, I guess the cows are happy.

 

* YES! I remembered to take them with me for a change 🙂

On Babushka and the curse of the holey sock

Babushka, for anyone who doesn’t know, was the lady who wanted to go with the wise men to see baby Jesus (and bring him presents and toys), but who hadn’t finished tidying her house yet, so she stayed behind, promising to follow them as soon as she was finished. The thing is, when she was finally satisfied everything was tidy eough to leave, the snow had covered their trail, and she didn’t know where to go.. Legend has it, she went from house to house, asking if the inhabitants knew where Jesus was (they didn’t) and sometimes leaving the children one of the presents she’d been meaning to give him.

 

I, like the heroine of the story, almost always end up running late… Mostly it’s due to trying to do too much before I can leave the house, but sometimes it’s because I have to try on a handful of socks before finding one with no hole(s).

From now on, as I pair my socks up*, I will get rid of the holey ones instead of putting them in the drawer. I expect I will need to buy quite a lot of new ones, but that’s quite exciting – nothing like wearing new socks for the first time 🙂

Also, and this is unlikely to ever happen for more than a few days at a time, I am aiming to get my house to the stage where I could leave it if I needed to 😉 (Or invite people in without handing out obligatory eye-patches at the door)

 

* I don’t match my socks in the traditional sense… I think it’s far more satisfying to wear socks which go together imaginatively, and not identically… like green-and-black-stripes and blue with miniature pandas.. Or blue-with-light-blue-hearts and light-pink-with-dark-pink-hearts.. Or rainbow-stripes and grey-and-black-stripes. That kind of thing. It’s easy when you know how 🙂

On doing things I’m good at…

Today I excelled at the things I do well 🙂

I went to bed in the early hours of the morning, far later than I originally wanted to, after distracting myself with other peoples’ blogs and cooking a galoptious potfull of almost inedible brown gloop.

I slept until almost midday, whereupon I proceded to lounge about in bed until about half past midday alternately reading email on my phone, updating my phone book (my old phone is back from the dead :)) and sleeping.

A friend phoned me. I phoned her back (I don’t pay to phone people*) and we talked. And talked. And talked. For 4 and a half hours 🙂 And that didn’t officially break my record 😉 Was good though. And as well as enjoyable, parts of it were even productive – she’s back at school so I asked her lots of questions about what she knows (= lots). A couple of years ago I did the same course, so I have the course book (and a big head ;))

Once we decided we’d talked long enough we hung up and texted each other instead 🙂

At some point after that I fell asleep. Again.

When I woke up and noticed that it was dark outside I remembered all the plans I’d had for the day. One of my more urgent plans had been to go shopping and buy more looroll. Sometimes (read “extremely often”) it gets to Saturday evening and I decide I have enough food to get me through until Monday and don’t bother going out. Sometimes, like today, this isn’t really a viable option. I looked at bustimetables and figured I needed to leave in 10 minutes – which left me no time to shower, and I really needed to shower – or 40 minutes – which gave me plenty of time to do nothing for a while before I went through the whole, get undressed-wet-dry-dressed rigmarole. I obviously did nothing long enough to miss both busses, and a couple of others.

I hadn’t eaten all day, what with hardly leaving the bedroom and all, so I was starving by the time I was washed, dressed and ready to go out. I cooked a load of spaghetti and warmed up some of the brown gloop. Being left overnight often does wonders for food. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case, and all the posh-mushroom flavour I’d carefully disguised yesterday had come back in full force. I did some more disguise work and managed to eat about 3 forkfulls before realising I had 4 minutes to be at the busstop in time to catch the last bus to the shop-I-don’t-mind-going-to-if-I’m-late-remembering-I-need-to-buy-things.. I left the house in a bit of a hurry, remembering just in time to take my purse out of my work bag and put it in my coat pocket.

This is a post about things I’m good at. It would obviously not be complete if it didn’t include getting to within 200 yards of a busstop in time to see the bus pull away. I could have made it (I think) if I’d run (like I usually do). The thing was, it had snowed, and the ground was that kind of slippery where you’re not sure which bits are safe and which bits are going to make you fall over. I don’t particularly like running at the best of times, and any running which results in me falling over is my least favourite kind of running. I walked sedately up the hill, watched the bus drive sedately up the hill past me and off into the distance then walked sedately past the busstop and into town, quietly cursing the fact that this meant I’d have to go to my least favourite supermarket. It’s the biggest, most confusingest, longest-opening supermarket in my town and while it’s not actually as bad as some of its brothers and sisters (which take up 2 floors) I think it’s pretty grim, in a I’m-still-thankfull-it’s-open-and-willing-to-sell-me-looroll-at-10pm-on-a-Saturday kind of way.

One of the things I most dislike about the shop is its maze-like qualities, and its inability to arrange things in the same way as other supermarkets. I am generally in favour of difference, but I appreciate things being logical, and putting milk in a completely different section from things like yogurt and cheese just baffles me. However. I’m slowly getting the hang of their reasoning and made it to the looroll department without too many problems. As I got there I stepped onto a piece of thick packaging paper which someone had kindly left on the floor, skidded, just about managed to get off the paper and back on to the floor without damaging myself or knocking anything off the shelves and came to a halt 3 cm away from some bloke who looked bemused and carried on with his last minute shopping.

A minute or so later, as I was faced with the near impossible task of choosing between 57 varieties of Vitamin B12, the bemused bloke approached me (of all people) to ask if I knew where the sugar might be hidden. Not having much of an idea, but not liking to be unhelpful, I pointed him in the direction of the baking things. I hope I was right. In that shop it’s liable to be kept next to the biscuits (because people put it in tea I suppose) or the fruit and veg (think strawberries and cream), or the shower gel/olive oil (sugar scrub). Or somewhere even less logical. Like I said, I hope I was right. He might have been there all night otherwise. Is it mean to be glad other people have the same problem finding things as me?

I nosed through most of an article about sexism-at-work and only thought about paying and going home when the speakers stopped playing elevator supermarket music to annouce that they were about to shut and would I please like to make my way to the checkout. I put the magazine back on its shelf, found my way to the checkout desk, paid and, surprisingly, caught the bus home without having to wait 27 minutes first.

People warn me not to go shopping hungry. I was, but I was also tired/not-particularly-awake so I didn’t buy loads of random stuff. I only barely remembered what I was there for. In the end I bought looroll, 3 boxes of milk, 2 boxes of cocoa, more B12 tablets and a small tube of water-and-heat-resistant glue apparently suitable for sticking glass together. The checkout lady must wonder about the lives people lead.

Once I was home I ignored 3 years of cooking lessons and re-reheated the spaghetti mixture which I ate in front of the computer and a lot more blog posts with the odd Youtube video/picture-of-a-cat thrown in for good measure.

I didn’t declutter anything. I didn’t start the new project I promised myself I was going to start in February. I didn’t wash the floor in the kitchen or take the organic-waste outside to the bin. I didn’t do any washing.. And I didn’t finish my calendar page.

I am about to go to bed. It’s much later than I’d planned. Tomorrow I will wish I’d gone to bed earlier. That, too, is something I’m good at.

*okay, so obviously I do pay the phone company, it just doesn’t bother them if I phone anyone or not..

On mushroomsauce

Don’t try this at home.

It is a waste of time, energy, electricity, ingredients and willpower.

You have been warned.

I [re]started taking B12 supplements this week. They’re [supposedly] good against tiredness, grouchyness, depression, energy-deficiency and a whole load of other stuff. The catch is, you have to take then half an hour after eating. This means you not only have to eat, you have to finish eating at least half an hour before you go to bed. This means cooking it in time to eat, in turn meaning starting to cook in time to finish cooking, eat and still have half an hour before bed. I suppose the only options are get organised or cancel out the energy benefits by sleeping less. Unfortunately the second option seems most likely.

I came home from work late and tired as a tired thing. I would have gone straight to bed if it wasn’t for needing to eat and wanting to post. I took a bag of semi-posh frozen ‘forest mushrooms’ and a pack of minced beef out of the freezer on my way in (my freezer’s on the landing outside my second front door) dumped them on the counter in the kitchen and turned the computer on. I officially wanted to read my email and write a post for day-1-month-2. So much for planning. Instead I stalked the people who’d liked my posts, the people who’d liked their posts and some people who came up in a search including my post, and here I am 6 hours later wondering why I’m not asleep yet.

The seemingly only connecting factor between all these things is this saucepan of brown gloop resting on my knee.

I remembered I didn’t like the slimy texture of the forest mushrooms last time I ate them, and that I’d whizzed them into a sauce and mixed it in to… something. And there was the first hurdle. I couldn’t remember what I’d mixed it into. No problem I thought, I’ll make something different. Mushrooms are good I thought, I shall make something like bolognaise sauce but with mushrooms instead of tomatoes.

Famous last words.

Because I am lazy and it was late and I really need to go shopping, I limited myself to very few ingredients. I whizzed the mushrooms (probably waking up my neighbours – they must love me :)), fried the beef mince, added a couple of chopped onions, fried everything a bit more so I was sure the meat was done, and added the mushroom goo. So far so good.

Then I tasted it.

BLEUGH!!

That was something I hopefully won’t repeat too soon.

So anyway. There I am with half a saucepan of grey-brown sludge. I am a big believer of not throwing food away, especially if it’s got animal in it, and even more of a believer in my ability to rescuing things which go wrong. Besides. I had a B12 tablet and a ravenous stomach waiting for me to eat and not a lot more edible options. I looked around and opened drawers and the fridge and found the following things:

  • black pepper
  • 2 beef oxo cubes
  • a lump of cheese
  • a tin of kidney beans
  • 3/4 of a tube of tomato puree
  • curry powder
  • worcester sauce
  • marmite
  • cumin seeds
  • paprika

and maybe some other herbs/spices which I’ve forgotten about.

Half an hour later and with the help of these things, I’d created something slightly more edible than my initial creation. I am sitting here eating it as I write.

I don’t think I will make it again. I think by the time I’ve figured out how to trick myself into eating the rest of the saucepanfull I will be thoroughly cured of the idea that posh mushrooms must be better than normal ones, or at least as good as people say. Hopefully I’ll remember not to [ever] buy them again. I’ll stick to ‘proper’ mushrooms in future. By proper mushrooms I mean the sort you buy fresh, in blue (or black or green) plastic trays with cellaphane/clingfilm over the top 😉

Also, I shall aim to keep enough milk about the place, that I can eat muesli and go to bed without braving the weird world of unknown cuisine.

Dear ticketmachine…

Thank you so much dear ticket machine. You must know how much I love getting to stations on time with the right money, typing my destination and how many tickets I need into your slightly greasy screen only to then miss the train I came to catch because you don’t like the taste of my money. It must make your day just that much sweeter!

I appreciate the care you go to, to give me the right change and print the right details on my ticket.. and you put up with all the grubby fingers poking your screen all day, and all the abuse from impatient people…

But is it really asking too much, to want to catch a train on time for once?

I might also be impatient, but at least I’m polite… and I didn’t punch or kick you.. I very patiently fed you my 20€ note 57 times (plus/minus a few) and you rudely spat it back out 57 times.That’s hardly helpful, is it? Hardly Customer Service. When I finally gave up and asked the other machine it obliged first time.. Can I suggest you ask it to teach you some manners?

I really hope that we will one day be successful ‘business partners’. Until then I will go directly to the other machine and you won’t get the chance to spit my money back at me.

Your friendly but frustrated Ticketbuyer

On fireworks and busfares

I went to watch the advent fireworks in my town just now. They went off at 11pm. I caught the bus down and was there just in time to glance around the bargainboxes in MediaMarkt (late-night-opening tonight) and make my way to the square.

The fireworks were spectacular in the sense that all fireworks are spectacular, but not in the way some shows are just breathtakingly astounding. I could probably have seen them from my house – I live on a hill and have a pretty good view of the town – but if someone’s going to sponsor them, I think showing up is the least one can do. Besides I didn’t want to miss them, just supposing I couldn’t see them from here.

As I was waiting for the bus back home, a slightly drunken elderly gentleman joined me at the bus stop. He peered at me and announced that he’d seen me before. I hadn’t really looked at him until then, but when I did, he did indeed seem familiar. There ensued a short pause followed by a bout of questioning while we figured out the connection. He shares an allotment with a guy who works in the same building as one of the people who used to work for someone who spends a lot of time sitting in my workshop. At some point during the summer I had been invited to a barbecue party in the allotment and had presumably seen him there. What was that about less than 7 connections to anyone?

About then the bus came. I had my buspass with me this time so I just got on and sat down, expecting the half-stranger to do the same. He got on, but the busdriver wouldn’t let him pay with a 50€ note. So I bought him a bus ticket. :).

At some point (assuming he remembers once he’s got home and slept and sober), he’s going to give the money to the guy he shares an allotment with……

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.

🙂