Monthly Archives: November 2022

Fermenting mothers

I don’t waste food, normally. But I haven’t been great about rigorous attention to fridge recently, which is why so much was frozen over the last few days. I really must use what I’ve frozen, which is my next problem. I used to love shopping for food, cooking and eating, now it’s just the shopping part. If only that transferred into being thinner…

My latest thing is making kefir. The starter I ordered was a week in the post, I don’t know why. I duly added it to milk and it took several days to thicken, which the instructions said might happen. But it was so sour by then that I rather lost my nerve after two sips and have started again, trusting that it will have settled down by tomorrow. I have also ordered a kombucha starter, known as a scoby, because I’m all about fermentation nowadays. And I fed the sourdough starter. I must be really, really bored.

I am not fond of sauerkraut. Just putting that out there. Much as I like cabbage.

That’s about it for today, darlings. I haven’t left the house. House and garden, that is, of course. The extra tabby, now named Solo, hasn’t appeared for a couple of days, but I’m sure he’s okay. I always do an extra plate of food, but if he doesn’t come for it then I put it away for the next time, as there’s no point in putting out too much. There are rats about.

Z is freezing

I’ve been sorting out the fridge. This has involved putting things in containers and freezing them. It’s not easy to use things up before they go off, if you don’t like to keep eating the same thing for days.

2 box of chicken casserole, 2 boxes of bolognese sauce, 5 little tubs of nduja, 4 of red Thai curry paste, 4 of black bean sauce. I box of tofu. I buy tofu every so often and always regret it. If tofu tasted of anything, which it doesn’t, it would be the taste of regret. Of course, what one does is marinate it and so on, but I really must remember that it is simply not worth the bother.

I was going to make broccoli and Stilton soup but can’t quite be arsed, so that’s for tomorrow. Now I just have to think what to have for dinner, because nothing I’ve seen yet has tempted me. Luckily, I still have quite a lot of Cava, so have poured a glass.

I have 2 ripe avocados. The market stall guy stupidly put oranges on top of them and bruised them, so they need to be eaten. Can one freeze avocados? I’ll check. I don’t feel like eating avocado either.

All well

Good news all round. When I went to feed the cats this morning, all five of them were there as usual (Barney is the most likely to have hunted well enough to skip breakfast with me) and then the injured tabby appeared, mewing for food again. He was bold or anxious enough to jump on to the table where the others are fed, which worried Freddy and Barney enough so they skittered off for a few minutes. They didn’t all eat together, but they all got fed in the end. Newbie’s face is healing, there’s still a big red area but it’s much smaller than on Sunday. If he keeps coming along, he’ll get named (certainly not Newbie!) but I’ll wait until he’s a regular and then see what name comes to me.

I went into town to get food to cook for Rose and family. I don’t often visit the butcher, excellent though it is, but did today. While I was there, I remembered that it’s market day and the excellent baker who made the fabulous rye bread I bought at the food market now has a weekly stall there. I wasn’t able to go for his first two weeks, but I trotted down the road and had a chat. He’s a really nice man, is Pete and very friendly. I complimented him on the rye bread, saying that I’ve had to stop putting rye flour in my sourdough bread, it made it so heavy. He said that the secret is giving it a really long rise – I told him I leave it overnight for the first rise and most of the day for the second. I’m now using half white wheat and half wholemeal spelt flour, plus five different seeds. It isn’t the lightest bread, I said, but it’s very good to eat.

He’d cut up a “Not Cross Bun” – same recipe as the pre-Easter ones, obviously without the Good Friday cross and offered me a bit. It was delicious and I bought one, which I had for lunch. Not that I’d normally have a bun for lunch. Another time, I’d have half and save the rest for another day, it was very filling.

Rose is doing very well. She’s very tired but already feeling and looking so much better.

Rose is rising!

The main news, for long-time blog friends, is that Rose has had her operation successfully and is recovering well. She should, if all goes to plan, go home tomorrow and I’m going to visit in the afternoon, taking something for their dinner, though the main reason is to Rose-sit while John picks up his daughter from school.

On Monday, I picked up a lot of china for the next auction – none of it worth much, it’s nearly all damaged and nothing especially rare. I left it in the car overnight, which wasn’t at all wise, but it was raining all evening, so I just went out to feed the cats and then hunkered down indoors for the night. I think it must have been on Sunday, because I was out much earlier to feed them, that the tabby who visits occasionally came to ask for food – he mewed anxiously, I know cat talk enough to recognise what he wanted – and I put down plenty for him. He’d had a nasty mishap, his face is badly torn. I couldn’t tell whether it was a fight or an accident, but a large area on the right side of his face was red raw. He ate a lot, he is too cautious to trust me, but evidently recognised that i’d look after him. Nothing to do about it, I couldn’t trap him. I haven’t seen him since, but I suspect he’s holed up somewhere while he heals and will come for food again when he needs it, if he survives. He has a broad face just like RasPutin’s and I suspect he’s a son of Ras.

Today, I’ve been listing the china, but had to break off at lunchtime for a school training session on Safeguarding, luckily conducted online, so I didn’t have to go anywhere. I carried on afterwards until 5 o’clock, but I was too tired for the last 20 or so items. I was listing all the damage, the pattern and so on, which is quite hard on the eyes. It will have to wait until Friday, there’s no rush.

Eloise cat does not appreciate the wet weather. She asks to go out, stands at the door looking upset, then comes in again, whining at me. When she does venture out, she returns complaining that she’s wet. It’s funny. I’m very sympathetic, though, except when she’s not looking. Although the weather isn’t cold, it was so bleak that I wanted to light the fire this morning, except I had no coal. I didn’t want, being lazier even than the cat, to go out to the coal shed, but it occurred to me that Wink might have some, and so she did, half a scuttle-full. So I fetched logs from the front porch and I’ve been lovely and warm all day. I hope it isn’t raining tomorrow though, because then kind Wince will stock up again for me.

I made a fool of myself yesterday. My car assured me that I needed to pump up the tyres. So I looked up the pressure required, which is inside the driver’s door, but it was in a completely different format to that used on the pumps – it said 2000. I had to look it up. 36psi. ok. I went to the petrol station and waited to use the air thingy. I removed all the caps from the nozzles – doing well so far, until I dropped the last one and it rolled under the car. I discovered that I couldn’t see the gauge while I was filling the tyre, because I’m too short, but it didn’t matter too much as I’d entered the required pressure before starting. Wasn’t I doing well? Yes, for the first two tyres. Then, I have no idea what I did wrong, but I managed to let the air out of the other two tyres. I couldn’t do anything about it, it just wasn’t working. I looked around for help. Luckily, a staff member came out to replenish the paper towels at the petrol pumps and I asked for help. I know him slightly, his son was at school with Ro. He looked a bit anxious, he probably was supposed to go straight back, but he came to help and did the job for me. It was embarrassing. But luckily, at least, my £1 for 5 minutes lasted, with about 20 seconds to spare.

Getting together

I was somewhat cryptic yesterday, but necessarily so. I’ve talked to Rose today, just to confide in someone who doesn’t know any of the parties concerned. Very kindly, because she is not at all well, she listened and helped. And I took her to her appointment and have offered more help, because we are true friends and look out for each other. Thanks, Rose.

Having spent an hour with Ro yesterday, Al came over here, just because he had a bit of time on his hands after work. Having had a long chat with Weeza on Sunday, I feel much more composed about life in general. It doesn’t take much for me to become sad and distressed, but I’m not depressed. That feels different.

Tomorrow morning, the paperwork I didn’t do today. But otherwise, a free weekend.

Venturing into a social scene

I went to gardening club on Tuesday, I’ve been a member for many years but didn’t go all last year because I funked it. I just didn’t feel ready to go and be smiling and sociable and I’d lost my nerve. Last month, when it reopened after the summer break, I couldn’t go because it was the night before my auction, so I decided I really must just go. After a wet day, I wasn’t really keen on going out, but I’m glad I did.

It’s not a club where you garden, but a sociable thing, with a speaker. Last month’s was about plants for dry gardens, which I really would have liked to go to. This time, it was a talk about pelargoniums. Not the zonal bedding sort, much more interesting than that – the speaker is a great enthusiast and I will visit her nursery next year. She and her business partner specialise in pelargoniums, day lilies, auricula and … oh, can’t remember the other plant.

I had a chance to catch up with a very good friend with whom I’ve slightly lost touch, in that we haven’t seen each other for about three years (lockdown having intervened, of course), though we don’t live far apart. She knows our blog friends Mike and Ann and asked after them. I said, I’d been speaking on the phone to Ann a couple of weeks ago and she’d asked after her. She didn’t know about Mike’s memory loss, so of course was sorry to hear that.

Bearded iris. That’s the fourth speciality.

I’ve had a very peculiar email from a relation-in-law that I’d really like to be able to talk about with someone, but it’s sort of confidential, so I can’t. I wish Wink were here. I’m not sure how to respond. I think I’ll have to print it out and read it more carefully, for a start, but it’s rather upset me and I don’t know what to do about it. I think the person concerned should have written it and then left it a few days before reading it again, then might have decided not to send it. It would have been better not said, I think. But too late for that.

Z ticks jobs off the list

I’ve finished doing the auction accounts which, as a bonus, means that they are also nearly ready for the accountant next year too. Not quite, because some items come up in different auction years from tax years, so I just have to adjust that, but it’s okay. I wouldn’t bother, but just go by the tax year, if I didn’t have a business partner to share the profits.

I nearly got them all done yesterday, but we were chatting on the family WhatsApp group and, as Weeza and I were doing most of the conversation after a while, I thought I might as well phone her and have an actual chat. That delayed my accounting and then, when nearly finished, I remembered an adjustment that had to be made and I knew that midnight was no time to be doing it, I’d finish in the morning. However, there was a power cut for several hours this morning – I’d had a text to warn me about it – and I had to go out after that.

My sister has left for the first leg of her visit to India. She came through this morning, asking for help putting her case in the car. I went and lifted it – how much is her weight allowance? Is that overall or per case?

I weighed the bigger case and it was about 4 kilos over. So we started to adjust between big and small suitcase until, in the end, she went to fetch her bigger one. She’s allowed two checked-in cases, as well as hand baggage, but her Indian friends asked for rather more things to be brought over than she had expected. So I lent her two cases, but in the end my big one and her medium one crammed everything in within weight. She left, feeling slightly dismal. Neither of us likes travelling heavy, we had enough of that with our mum. I suggested, on the way home, packing the smaller suitcase and fitting it inside the bigger one, so that she didn’t have so much to lug around.

So I’ll be here alone for a few days, but then Rose is coming to stay, so that will be lovely and I’ll be able to look after her after her operation.

Z is none the wiser

I’m torn, at present, between feeling that I’ve done enough and want only to have a peaceful, maybe self-indulgent life and the recognition that it’s up to me to make what I want to out of life, before I’m too old. I’m stuck right in the middle. Sense and sensibility, maybe? But more of this at another time.

Coming back to Sense and Sensibility, in the Jane Austen way, they’ve really mucked up the book at the BBC. They did it with Mansfield Park recently, kept putting in bits that JA didn’t say, to flag up ISSUES. It’s even worse with S&S, I haven’t even managed to listen to the whole of the first episode. Leave Jane alone.

Mind you, the other day, I had a great problem listening to a radio programme where the reader, whose blushes I’ll spare though she’s a well known actress and old enough to know better, referred several times to Manderlay, as in the Road to, instead of Manderley, from Daphne du Maurier’s book Rebecca. It destroyed it. The first sentence, starting – Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again – is one of the perfect sentences of English literature. Manderlay wrecks it. MANderley versus ManderLAY. The rhythm is completely wrong. I had to turn off the programme, though the Manderley bit was only a small part of it. Instead, I listened to Dorothy L. Sayers’ Have His Carcase. The great thing about detective novels, for me, is that they are forgettable. Apart from a few, I don’t remember whodunnit, they’re new every time, however many times I’ve read the book or heard the dramatisation. With this one, I remembered the plot twist, but that was about all. I’d even forgotten that the body was washed out to sea. I did note the fair hints at the said plot twist and I’d guessed the murderer, which was fairly obvious really, but the finer points of the plot were lost to me. I can listen to the next repeat in a year or two and be none the wiser.

11th November is the 99th anniversary of my mother’s birth. When I was growing up, I always thought she was quite proud of having been born on Armistice Day as it was distinctive. Many years later, she told me it had been difficult, to have had her birthday on what was, in those days, a day of national mourning.


Funerals aren’t much fun, I seem to be surrounded by the death of dear friends. Arthur was in his 90s and in failing health, Freda was only 80 but had had Alzheimer’s for some years, Lionel was 95. The latter two’s funerals are in the next two days and Arthur’s wife has opted for a party to celebrate his life, on Saturday. I’ll go to all three occasions and, for what it’s worth, I’ll pray for them. It’s just thinking lovingly, whatever belief I may or may not have is nebulous and for myself alone, anyway.

I visited Jan this afternoon. Fond as I am of her, she’s quite difficult. She’s been in a nursing home since mid-August, initially for a fortnight’s respite care, but once Social Services got involved, it was decided that she shouldn’t move home without an overnight carer. That is correct, she really can’t manage alone – and now the care plan has been updated to include a daytime carer too. She is 90, very intelligent and aware and quite awkward. Her willpower, which is considerable, is channelled to won’tpower. I don’t know if she will get home, but not if she doesn’t agree to any constructive suggestion and I’m very sorry and sympathetic, but her objections aren’t helping her.

But there, what will be, will be. I am going to try to help – frankly, behind her back – even without her cooperation. I know I might fail, but I’ll have tried my best.

Z buys matches

I went to the library today. It was the first time for ages. I used to go regularly, at least once a week but, some years ago, I wasn’t reading so much and I stopped. Then, there was a possibility of libraries closing, so I started visiting again. It was disappointing to see that there were far fewer books, but one could always order them – however, I’ve always used libraries to try out different genres and subjects – a fantasy novel or a book on chemistry, why not? Give it a go, I might love it or learn something, I just liked to browse and pick up something that caught my eye. If I found an author I liked, I’d buy their books.

I last visited about 3 years ago, pre-pandemic lockdown. I have no reason not to have gone back, just inertia. But today, I asked my sister if there was any shopping she needed? Or maybe would like to come with me? She was doing housework, but asked me to post a birthday card and deliver her books back to the library.

I’ll just digress for a moment, to say that the main reason I needed to shop was to buy matches, because no. 1 son had accidentally taken mine home, after lighting the bonfire and fireworks…

The library was lovely. I went to the desk, explained I needed a new card because mine, which I couldn’t find, was out of date. I gave my name and the librarian remembered me – her son was a friend of Ronan’s at middle school. I’d sort-of known her face, but hadn’t placed her, we had a good catch-up. As I went to choose some books, I asked how many you’re allowed, nowadays? 20, for 3 weeks. We laughed. But that was about how many I read, back in the day, though I bought several books a week and re-read them too. Still. And I have borrowed 8 books, or maybe 9, so I’m not sure what I was laughing about.

The other lovely thing was that there were three pairs of women, my age or older, playing Scrabble and it was obviously something of a regular social group. They congratulated others’ good words, were chatting and having fun, trying hard to do well but not being overly competitive. It was a good morning out. Libraries have to offer more nowadays, ours was built because of the generosity of a local woman, who donated £250,000, some 35 years ago, to provide a new one. Not many people can do solid good work, almost unsung, but Kathleen Bowerbank was one who did. She gave a similar sum, some years later, towards the building of the new doctors’ surgery and also gave, maybe bequeathed, I’m not sure, money for a meeting room at the town centre church.