On bright lights (and hospital beds)

Sometimes, I think I should just stop making plans.

I mean, I know they never work out the way I intended them to, so I could save myself the bother of making them in the first place.

Also, maybe God would stop laughing at them/me.

***

This year, the company I work for closes between Christmas and New Year. This means I have ‘ZwangsUrlaub’ or compulsory holiday.

I was planning to relax until Sunday, doing jigsaws and folding stars and making Gingerbread houses (which I still have to post, sorry) and other Christmas Things, and then spend the compulsory week off work (Mo-Fr) tidying up my corner, finding the bottom of the washing box, hopefully finally getting some paintings finished, maybe even getting some pictures on the wall, before flying away with DB on Saturday for 2 weeks of sunshine and more relaxing (dear theoretical burglars, please note – we have housesitters with a dog).

We were also going to visit a couple of DB’s friends and celebrate the new year with fireworks and copious amounts of food (me) and alcohol (DB).

What I wasn’t planning on doing, was spending time in hospital. Not as a visitor, not as an outpatient and most certainly not as an inpatient.

***

Turns out I have Keratitis and have the dubious privilege of at least one, probably two, possibly more, overnight stay(s) in hospital where the night-nurse has the dubious pleasure of waking me up every couple of hours to drop eye-drops into my sleep-deprived eyes.

***

This is my bed:

Hospital bed with fairy lights
“I want to see the [fairy] lights tonight” – adapted from Richard Thompson’s ‘Bright lights’ lyrics
Apparently I’m the first patient to bring fairy lights with them.

However, it appears to be a Good Thing because it means I can leave them on and the nurse doesn’t have to turn the main lights on and wake everyone up.

***

According to the doctor I saw after 4 and a half hours in the waiting room, and who shined multiple very shiny lights in my eyes, it (Keratitis) can be a dangerous thing to have.

Mine doesn’t seem too bad, but I could use any spare prayers you have…

(Eyesight is crazily important, and I’m going to do all they say I need to do to get better, but they’re contemplating cancelling my holiday – to ensure that I can be monitored – and that would suck big time. DB needs a break, and we chose not to book cancellation-insurance, so the money would be gone too…)

***

Thank you 🙂

***

P.S. I’ll write some of the background story tomorrow..

On Boxing Day bowling with the boys

…or the second day of Christmas for anyone who doesn’t know what boxing day is…

Once upon a time, about 20 years ago,  DB and a crowd of friends decided to go [10-pin] bowling on the 26th of December.

Since then it’s become a tradition.

This year was the first time I went with them.

Unlike them, I think I’ve been bowling 4 times in my entire life.

I didn’t do too badly though, all things considered. I even got a couple of strikes. A lot of balls rolled off to the sides, completely missing all the pins, but I wasn’t the only one throwing them, so it wasn’t all that embarrassing 🙂

We played 4 rounds, all the others improved over time. Despite getting weaker and weaker and even dropping a ball before I could throw it, I scored 60-70 each round (of 10×2 throws).

3 hours of good company and left over Christmas chocolate, cakes and biscuits is something I could agree to repeat – it was a good way to spend an evening.

***

Yesterday, my fingers hurt.
Today, my whole arm hurts.

This proves that I do have muscles.
Muscles that I rudely woke up in the middle of their hibernation.

On Christmas Jigsaws – day 1

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Every Christmas, my family does a jigsaw puzzle.

This year they’re doing one without me, so I’m doing one without them… 🙂

DB is helping, but hasn’t had nearly as much practice…

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On Crumbs for Christmas

This morning, after breakfast, DB and I made up some biscuit bags:

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More accurately, I put the biscuits in the bags and cut the ribbons and DB tied the bows. Partly because he does that better than me, and partly because we were already running late.

I placed them carefully into my satchel, filled my 1,5L bottle and, in a typical Tuesday morning rush, crammed it in on top, squashing most of the biscuits in the process – nothing like giving someone a bag of crumbs for Christmas…

As it turned out, two of the secretaries I was planning to give them to weren’t in today.

I ate most of the worst bashed packet, and handed out three more (newspaper salesman, secretary, colleague).

I’m on the way home now and there’s one bag left, I wonder who’ll cross my path looking hungry on the way home…

***

Here’s hoping the recipients find them as tasty as I do 🙂

***

Edit: I gave the last one to a homeless guy selling Motz magazines in the train 🙂

(First part 18:00, edited ca. 21:30)

On decorating the workshop

Decorations – not just for Christmas!

This is the wall on your right as you come into the workshop:

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Kolonnenköpfe

These are on the wall on your left:

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All of these Glass Things were hidden in the workshop, gathering dust. As part of our Christmas cleaning marathon, we decided to put them on display instead.

On Christmas cleaning

My colleague and I cleaned the workshop today. Every. Last. Inch. Of. It.

It took ALL DAY. From 9am until 5pm, with half an hour for lunch, we scrubbed and wiped and vacuumed and washed and dried and sorted and tidied…

…and decorated.

And now it looks all sparkly and clean and luffly…..and we feel justified in spending some of tomorrow playing with glass instead of working with it!

***

There’s a lot to be said for having a colleague with whom you can clean for 8 hours [almost] straight, without killing shouting at each other.

🙂

On mince pies and cheesy trees

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Line the tins with pastry circles
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..and fill with mincemeat
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Cut out circles...
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..and trees
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Brush the lids with egg
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Sprinkle sugar on top - I like the crunchy granulated stuff, but caster's fine too
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Bake

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Et voila!

*****

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Leftover pastry
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Coated in Parmesan cheese and baked, then coated with a gouda tree and baked again..

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On making mincemeat of it – part 1

Every year, I make a load of mincemeat, for myself, my family, and anyone else who wants some.

Every year, I make it up as I go along, and no one’s complained yet.

This is part 1 of the recipe – insofar as it can be called a recipe – for 2015.

***

A word of caution to anyone who wants to actually use this recipe:
Please wait until I’ve finished and got it into jars, BEFORE starting. I tweak recipes as I go, and that’s probably annoying for people who follow instructions… (or who live further away from shops than I do).

***

Take one huge saucepan…

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…the rind and juice from 8 oranges (ca 2kg) and 8 lemons (ca. 1kg)…

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…16 grated apples (or half grated, half chopped) (ca.3kg). I took the cores out, but I suppose you could leave them in…

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…6-8 packets (ca.1,5kg) of raisins/sultanas, checking for bits of twig first…

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….a tub of chopped prunes/dried plums…

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…a tray of dried figs…

…4/3 cup of soft light brown sugar and 4/3 cup of soft dark brown sugar. (It probably doesn’t matter what kind of sugar, and I might add more tomorrow)…

…and a lot of allspice (2-3 tablespoons).

Stir well, and leave to sit overnight.
(A couple of pictures are missing – I’ll add them later)

On buying problems in a wine bottle

I lugged my suitcase up the steps and onto the train and breathed out – unaware that I’d even been holding my breath..

Looking around, it became apparent that I’d landed in the first class carriage. I would have to wrangle my suitcase and an unwieldy bag of picture frames* through the restaurant car and past the private cabins, but at least I was on the train.

***

The station had been full of people walking slowly, and I’d got stuck behind a deaf couple going just fast enough to make it hard to overtake without bashing someone.

They were too busy signing with each other to notice me, and since asking them to either hurry up or let me through was a hopeless case, I tried not to think about the time, and instead concentrated on not ramming them with my luggage.

The train was already there and the platform was mostly empty by the time I’d made my way up the escalator. Luckily.

I ran, or stumbled, unhindered (except by myself) along the platform and hurled myself at an unblocked door.

***

The train left before I’d had a chance to find a seat. I lurched forwards, trying not to fall on anyone, and still panting from running along the platform.

I asked the first person sitting by themselves if the seat next to them was free and flopped into place as they moved over to the window seat.

After getting [most of] my breath back, I checked my phone, told DB I’d caught the train ok, repositioned the picture frames so that they weren’t poking my legs more than necessary and took out the biscuit tin.

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One of the guys at the meeting on Saturday had provided 3 tins of Christmas biscuits and since we hadn’t eaten them all yet, they were offered to whoever wanted them.

It’s still a bit early for Christmas biscuits, but they are good ones, and they are easy to eat on trains so I volunteered to take one of the tins off their hands :).

Anyway. It’s a little bit rude to eat biscuits by oneself, even if you don’t know your neighbours, so I turned to the window-seat-man and offered him the tin. He looked a little bit lot perplexed, but ate one regardless. 🙂

Then he reached down into his bag and produced a slim black tin which he presented me..

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For some reason I first thought it must be cigars, but it turned out to be chocolates – “from Dubai”, he said casually, as if everyone carried excess tins of Dubai chocolates with them**..

A surprisingly interesting conversation ensued – he’s an on-call pilot for a rich Russian bloke with a private jet and a string of inportant worldwide business meetings (hence the chocolates from Dubai ;)) – and I was a bit disappointed that he was changing trains after only a couple of stops.

As the train pulled up to his station, he started gathering his stuff together. A coat, a suitcase, a laptop bag….and a very large cardboard box.

“That’s a bottle of wine. A very big bottle of wine. A huge bottle. I bought it in Italy and it’s the reason I’m on the train. I usually fly home, but I wasn’t allowed to take it on the plane! Taking liquid on my bosses plane is ok, but not on passenger machines… I should have known that I wasn’t buying wine, I was buying problems in a bottle!”

And with that, a smile and a wave, he was gone, leaving me with a small black tin of chocolates and a story for my travel collection – and a post! 🙂

* Three were almost exactly what I’d been looking for, for a project I’m working on, two were simple and colourful and would go well on my wall. And besides, they weren’t very expensive and I don’t go shopping much ;).

** If they do, can someone tell me why I knew nothing about it?