Monthly Archives: December 2008

Z is Even Calmer, now that she’s Postponed Christmas

I’ve just been talking to Weeza on the phone. Phil has come down with a bad cold that may be ‘flu. He went in to work for the morning and should be home soon – he felt able to make the 4+ mile bike ride, which he probably wouldn’t be up to if it is ‘flu, so let’s hope for the best.

He’s going to spend the rest of the day in bed and see how it goes. If he’s not feeling up to much, he won’t come over with Weeza and Zerlina tomorrow – also, he doesn’t want to pass on nasty germs to us.

So, I pondered briefly. It was just going to be the six of us, the Sage, me, Ro, Weeza, Phil and Zerlina. However, on Friday, Wink is due to arrive and on Saturday Al, Dilly, Squiffany and Pugsley are coming for lunch.

“How would it be if we postponed Christmas dinner until Saturday?” I suggested. “Hopefully, Phil will be better by then and we could all be together. I’ve got all sorts of things, which I was planning to do for a relaxed Saturday meal, like pâté, smoked salmon, cheeses, salads and things, and we could have them for lunch tomorrow instead.”

Weeza thought it was a fine idea. They will have to leave by 2.15 as they’re going to a party, and a friend of hers may be coming over, but she can come here (we’ve known her forever and she won’t feel out of place with us all) and our 12lb rib of beef will stretch for us all. I think it’ll be 9 adults and 3 children, one a baby, if Susie comes, and the table seats 12 and I have polished all the cutlery already. It’ll be just as easy to feed 12 as 6. It isn’t like having turkey again, they won’t have had beef so it will still be special. We can be really relaxed all day here tomorrow, and chilling, opening presents, relaxing and having fun can be the focus of the day rather than the big meal. On Saturday, I’ll aim to serve up at about 12.30 so we don’t rush the meal.

Oh, and I don’t think I’ve mentioned that Al has decided to shut the shop for 4 whole days. This has never happened before, and he wishes Christmas could be on Thursday every year. He doesn’t think he’d be selling much on Saturday and he’s warned all his customers so they won’t come in and be frustrated.

The tree is up. I’ll get out the decorations and leave it for Ro to decorate.

Z is Surprisingly Calm

I’ve had two breakfasts four hours apart, worked in between times and had a good nap. Next, I’ll call round to elderly friends and (if they’re in) be given sherry and a mince pie. After that, if the Sage is home, we’ll put up the Christmas tree and if not I’ll wrap the presents. Phil’s has arrived; some books for Zerlina haven’t but there’s still time for a last delivery, if that’s what the Post Office does nowadays and if not, a 4-month-old won’t mind if she hasn’t got quite enough to read. Her mother can always read her Miff Heehog in any case.

I hope you have a lovely Christmas and thank you all for being there.

Z xx

Z is Cheery

I was just getting up at 5 o’clock this morning when I heard Al’s van start. I dressed and breakfasted and joined him in the shop half an hour later. We stacked shelves and got things ready until 8, when the second delivery van turned up and we started all over again. I had to leave to be ready to babysit in time for Dilly’s 9 o’clock hair appointment. This afternoon, I went into town again and Al was making up a fruit basket, so I took over serving to help out. I went back at 5 to help him pack up. There are people in the town who have assumed I spent the whole day working there, but it’s only Al who can cope with that. He’s back there now, making up orders for the morning, with the salad, grapes and other more perishable items to be added from tomorrow’s new stock. Tim is helping tonight, which is good.

I trotted along and bought the last of the presents, but the Sage and I have both admitted that we haven’t found what we wanted for each other, so we’ll have to hit the shops sometime together and mutually spoil ourselves. We’re not bothered. I am waiting for one more postal delivery – it’s not overdue, I ordered it at the last minute – and Phil’s presents will be a bit meagre if it doesn’t turn up. I hope Dilly likes what I’ve bought her, as I quite badly wanted to keep it for myself. I did buy a pair of trousers though. I said to the shop owner that I will probably have to take them up a bit and she suggested I wash them before wearing them in case they shrink a little. I agreed, but frankly do I look the sort of woman who washes clean clothes? I’ll just wear them a bit long until they need washing and then see. I’ll probably wear them tomorrow for my organ-fest. Did I tell you about that? Probably. I’m playing simultaneous organ and clarinet for our own carol service at 6, then whipping down the road for a service at 10 and then another in the next village at 11.30. I am going to schedule a nap in the afternoon, I may be a fool but I’m not an idiot.

Anyhoo, all seems to be sorted. I haven’t wrapped anything yet, but that’s more fun done at the last minute. We haven’t got the tree up yet come to that, but plenty of time for that tomorrow. We keep the tree up throughout Christmas until Twelfth Night, so there will be a whole fortnight to get the pleasure or possibly have had enough of it. Actually, it might come down a couple of days early on Sunday 4th, as I’ll be too busy after that as Al and his family will be on holiday.

I’ve made a final three wreaths – one was ordered and I might as well do a couple more. I expect Al will sell them and if not I’ll find a home for them.

I got all high and happy this afternoon. It entertained the customers mightily.

Z displays rather more self-assurance than is warranted

Oh darlings, two posts in a day, and you can hardly believe your luck. Or can you?

i realise that I’ve relaxed into Christmas, which is all well and good but I’ve done it a couple of days early. You see, I’ve always had it as a rule that the deadline is the end of the day before Christmas Eve. CE counts as Christmas and besides, it leaves space for sorting out problems. A secondary deadline, if you see what I mean.

Of course, this rule applied long before Al had his shop, when CE (excuse the familiarity; I know I could copy’n’paste Christmas Eve but the repetition would pall on us all) became his busiest day of the year, but business is excluded. So is church-related stuff. Gradually, CE has become a very busy day for me too, but still a relaxed one, as all should be under control and it’s too late to do much about it anyway.

Today, I got up far too early, as you know, and actually had got a lot done by mid-morning. I went into town after lunch and first of all (flouting a whole raft of traffic rules – oh, the joys of being on a bike and going the wrong way round the roundabout and the wrong way down a one-way street) visited Al for veggies. He was serving a customer. When said customer left, he wondered if I had a few minutes? He had a lot of orders to write in his book. Well, this was no problem as I wanted to talk to him about the demands of customers’ orders anyway. We talked. I served. He listed. It all took an hour or so. It was a good job I’d brought a light for my bike.

Finally I left, and didn’t do the shopping I’d intended except to go to the hardware shop and buy a new tea infuser to tide me over until I find the one I’ve mislaid. *Sigh* It’ll turn up. Then I freewheeled down the hill and had to stop at the junction and then go uphill again to the Little Green Shop. I didn’t half wobble. I don’t usually take that hill from halfway up with a couple of stone of veggies in my panniers. Still, I made it and went and stocked up on Highly Desirable chocolate, some of which might even be reserved for myself, hem hem.

You can tell how relaxed I am. I had dinner in the bag already; or at any rate in a handsome blue-enamelled Le Creuset casserole dish. But I haven’t wrapped anything and a couple of family members haven’t actually got much in the way of presents yet. I’m confident it’ll all work out.

Oh, and my charming lunch companion from Thursday brought wine. As it was a special occasion – the Eating of the Lost Venison – the bottle has been broached. It’s very good. I’ve drunk two glassfuls already.

Z finds the Venison

The five o’clock bulletin – I just opened the fridge to put in the soup from last night, which had still been warm so had been left in the cold larder. There was the missing venison. Right there in plain view.

I’d checked the fridge three times for it, moving everything to make sure it wasn’t lurking. I’ve opened the fridge innumerable times since to get things out or put them in. That venison was not there. Now it is. Well, it isn’t any more. I’ve taken it out and if it’s still fit to be eaten, I’ll make a casserole and if it isn’t, I’ll throw it away.

It wasn’t there. I looked properly. Then it was. I have no explanation.


It is now 5.50am. The venison was fine. No apparent deterioration took place during its period of dematerialisation. I made a casserole with the vegetables I had – I’d used some of the ones I’d planned to add during the past couple of days. So it has in it onions, shallots, carrots and a tin of tomatoes, as well as red wine. Now it reposes, cooking gently, in the bottom oven where it will stay for the next couple of hours or more.

I’m eating porridge now. I had a most restful afternoon and evening. I made soup, from onions, celeriac and a stray turnip and decided to watch a film whilst making wreaths. In the mood for amusement, I picked The Hudsucker Proxy, which screwball comedy bears re-watching every so often. I started wreathing and finished as the film ended, having used up all my materials and made five wreaths.

After dinner, I turned the lights off and lit some candles. No, I lit a candle first, then turned the lights off, then lit the other candles. It was very relaxing. I listened to music, chatted to the Sage, read blogs – I’ve caught up with feed-reader saved posts – and read the paper; this last a bit slowly as I could only see a bit of the page at a time. In between whiles, the Sage was making phone calls. I think he must have flagged on the card writing, and was ringing friends instead. As good if not better, to speak to people whom we rarely see.

I was in bed by 11.30, asleep an hour later and awake two hours after that. At 5 o’clock, I gave up on attempting to sleep and got dressed. After breakfast, I’ll polish the cutlery. It can do with it, and I’d be pushed to have another opportunity.

It is 3 minutes past 6. This will be a long day. At least we’re past the shortest, so more of it will be light than yesterday was.

Z gives peace a chance

I realised, when I arrived home, how tense and overwrought I felt. I poured a glass of wine, scrambled some eggs, which I ate with virtuously unbuttered toast, and am looking forward to a nice glass of buttermilk. The diet continues but is tempered with sensible nutritious enjoyment of food. Fourteen months ago, I’d have hit the chocolate biscuits. Not that I’ve a thing against chocolate, but nowadays it would be a single square of extremely good dark chocolate which would satisfy without increasing the craving. I don’t have chocolate or biscuits in the house at present anyway, so it doesn’t arise.

Particularly since several other bloggers have referred to it too, I’ve been particularly looking forward to today’s Winter Solstice. I’ve always found December difficult and I know many others do too. It’s an incredibly busy month when we’re at our physically lowest ebb, with dark days and the bugs and viruses of winter kicking in. It only slowly improves – after all, January is as dark as December – but it’s looking forward to the light so it feels better. And if we’re lucky enough to have snow, the reflection of light doubles its effect. I don’t become depressed in the winter, but I do have very little energy.

I love the idea of Candle Night and I’ll be following it this evening. It’s come at exactly the right time for me, when an evening of candle-lit tranquillity will, I hope, prepare me for a busy week. Thank you, Blue Witch, for drawing it to my attention.

I’ll spend the afternoon making holly wreaths, and I hope that there won’t be too many of them to do after that. The Sage has been writing Christmas cards. I agree that they matter in one sense, but not in another. It’s like money – it’s not important, or shouldn’t be, unless you don’t have any at all. I hope that those people who don’t get a card from us, or receive it late, will have had so many that we won’t be missed.

There’s been a degree of negativity around me (not in the family, and not among my blogging friends) that I’ve been finding it hard to rise above*, of late. As I see myself as a peacemaker and calmer-down of agitation, I try to absorb the stress of others, in an endeavour to help them cope**. Trouble shared is a trouble halved and all that. Whilst I’m not near the stage of being unable to do that, I’m finding it harder than usual to absorb and dissipate negative feelings, especially if I can’t actually do anything to help in a practical sense.

So, today, I’ll take an emotional break. I’ll tranquilly make the holly wreaths in front of an unnecessary fire (for it’s a mild day) and hug my Sage and my dog (not together, Chester loved group hugs but Tilly is less outgoing) and then enjoy a candle-lit evening.

*Ooh, dodgy grammar alert!
**This does not necessarily apply in my immediate family, where I reserve the right to be a drama queen and the centre of needy attention.

Z, at sixes and sevens, contemplates going one over the eight

It was all going well. I’d taken Ro to the station, which was only open until 3.15 – the ticket office, that is. He wanted to renew his railcard as well so couldn’t get the ticket on the train. I went home via the town, as I wanted to buy ricecakes and plain yoghurt. I eat a lot of those.

I arrived home, gave Tilly her dinner and went to get the venison out of the fridge to make a casserole. It wasn’t there. I pondered. I’d bought it the other day at the same time as some sausages. We’d eaten the sausages, so I’d brought them home. I went and checked the car. I looked in the cupboards. I peered in the freezer. I went back to the fridge and then looked in all my shopping bags. It was nowhere to be seen.

I’m still rather anxious. That venison isn’t getting any fresher and I’m concerned that we’ll eventually track it down by the smell.

I went to the freezer and got out a couple of sirloin steaks and put them to defrost. I went to empty the dishwasher. Something had fallen partly over the drain filter and nothing was very clean. I emptied the dishwasher, scrubbed the filter and decided to clean the whole thing. I’d got a tablet of cleaner, so read the instructions – put it in the cutlery container and put on a mimimum 40 degree wash with nothing else in the machine. I did that. I put all the china in the sink and poured hot water on. I cleaned all the tannin marks off the mugs. There was something awry with the water softener a few weeks ago, so we turned the controls to bypass it, but the dishwasher is gradually becoming less efficient with the harder water, even though we use softener. I decided to give the water softener unit another chance and went to fetch the salt blocks. I knelt at the cupboard beneath the sink and opened the salt blocks, which were stuck together and needed throwing round the kitchen a bit. Eventually, they divided and I inserted them and turned the three taps to make water go through the unit. Unfortunately, in so doing, I knocked over a bottle of hand-washing liquid (for clothes) which splashed on my jeans. I sponged my knee, leaving a 9″x6″ wet patch with an artificially flowery smell. I couldn’t be bothered to change. Now that it’s dry, I only notice the smell when I bend over and sniff.

Later, I went to restack the dishwasher as the programme had finished. I discovered that I should have unwrapped the cleansing tablet, which was therefore still intact. Still, at least it’s all had a good rinse.

I can’t remember what else went awry, but there were a few things. Still, I’m not dismayed. Well, I am, but not by that.

I had a letter a couple of days ago from someone resigning from a committee. I wrote back, saying how sorry I was and hoping she might reconsider. I had her emailed reply today (I’d said I’d phone her to talk it over after the weekend unless she emailed to say she’d rather I didn’t), which went into more details about why she is quitting.

There has been a lack of tact and a lack of kindness; the heavy-handedness by more than one party; the snappiness was not unprovoked but was unnecessary. I’m pretty keen on politeness, myself. I can be forthright, but when I am I try to be kind with it, especially if I don’t know the person or their sensitivities very well. You may have noticed that I attempt to smooth over disagreements, even in my comment box. I think there’s little lasting joy in scoring points and it’s better to respond to what someone should have said (and surely, in their heart, meant) rather than to words that could hurt or offend at first reaction. I’ve learnt this lesson, of course, by making mistakes.

This is not the matter I referred to earlier.

I’m going to read all evening and have an early night. Well, before midnight. At least, i’ll go up for a bath before midnight, or soon after.

The Sage dealt splendidly with his steak, by the way. He’s still a bit sore, but making no fuss.

Z is chauffeuse

I spent the morning in the church, where several of us were doing the decorations and I was getting things ready for the service tomorrow as well. There were some people I haven’t seen for a while, so I stopped for a chat with each of them – this sounds as if I’ve got an inflated sense of self-importance and I can only apologise, acknowledge it, but explain that it’s not all self-imposed – and praised and thanked them for what they were doing. It’s not me as me, it’s me in the role I have accepted.

One lovely friend stayed until the end and we were able to chat too about some local matters that we’re somewhat concerned about, and it’s good to have someone you can speak freely to, when you are both on the same wavelength and both know it’ll go no further. There are things sometimes that I’d love to talk about here but can’t as they involve other people and it wouldn’t be right.

In a few minutes, I’m taking Ro to the station as he’s spending a couple of days in London with friends. It feels quiet already. Weeza is also going to London tomorrow; in fact they all are but Phil will spend one night and then go in to work on Monday from there, whilst Weeza and Zerlina are staying on for another night.

Time to go.

Z welcomes a Guest (part 2)

I had no doubt that I’d enjoy the day. It was to be only the third time I’d met our guest, but on the first occasion the waitress dropped the heavy hint of putting chairs on tables before we left the restaurant, and the second time of meeting, I outstayed the duration of a ‘cup of tea’ visit by some time.

It did all turn out to be a bit of a rush though. When I sent the invitation, I had a completely free day, but the whole week filled up – in fact, I received an invitation myself for lunch on Thursday.

Then the Sage had an appointment with the dentist on Wednesday too. I had to drive him, it was only kind.

So I decided on a simple menu which nevertheless included a proper pudding.

It was a pity I hadn’t had time to cut back the brambles that sneak their way through the gates at the end of the drive, nor clear away the grass growing through the drain in the tarmac.

My guest, as expected, was charm personified. Every time I’ve met a fellow blogger, I’ve found that we slip into an easy conversation. If we like each other enough to want to meet, we’ve already got the advantage of not needing to go through polite preliminary conversational skirmishes, as we’ve probably let enough be known about our personal lives – possibly more than we’ve told some close friends – to move into a comfortable conversation.

There’s still some of the pudding left. I suspect Ro will polish it off later, however.

A slightly early seasonal picture. Jesus doesn’t look at all like a potato. Though he’s being shy. You must click on the picture for him to appear.