Monthly Archives: November 2023

Z just wants to have fun. In a sensible way, obvs

I’m reminding myself – that is, my behaviour is reminding me – of the winter after Russell died, when I cooked obsessively, even though I couldn’t eat much. I eat more now than I did then – I was too thin and now I’m too fat – but it’s the same need. I’m channeling it (should there be two lls in channelling? I don’t get the red line in either, so maybe it doesn’t matter) into making Christmas presents for the family, so I won’t say more, but it will be fabulously delicious (in case any of my children is reading this).

I made a list. When I do that, I’m either determined or anxious about forgetting things, but it’s the former this time. I’ve even ticked off half the items (15, but I haven’t finished one of them). That’s since Friday. The Z is doing good (sorry, BW).

There are things I want to do and I keep planning, but I don’t decide on any of them. Russell and I were so good for each other about that sort of thing. We encouraged each other in our wacky plans, but somehow, only the doable ones happened. The Wall, for example. There was a privet hedge and, over a few years, it gradually died and we didn’t know why. Possibly simply drought, because the end next to the outdoor tap didn’t die, but it happened steadily from one end, which was odd. We didn’t feel able to replace it with another hedge, in case there was a disease and I said it would be a bit dull to have a fence, so how about a wall? The Sage was enthusiastic, so I then said, wouldn’t it be fun to build it ourselves? I mean, how daft an idea. But it happened. Some of my other ‘ooh, wouldn’t it be fun?’ suggestions didn’t ever happen and nor did some of his. My suggestion of having a third baby took several years to turn into Russell’s idea. But now, I have no one to bounce ideas off and for those ideas to turn into something workable. So I don’t do anything, which isn’t any fun at all.

Z has beans

I spent the morning cooking – vegetables, mostly. I soaked some lima beans yesterday and have made them into a casserole, I made mushroom soup and a batch of minestrone. Of course, it’s all far more than I can eat, so most of it will go into the freezer. I’ll be glad of it all, eventually. This afternoon, I was planning to do the ironing, but I forgot. Now 4.30, it seems a bit late to start…

My guest left a week ago, all is well domestically with her and partner now and the two of them are working out how things won’t go wrong again. Space to work things out was good, as there was goodwill on both sides, underneath the difficulties. The house feels bigger than ever now.

I often wonder if I’ll ever move from here. It is absurdly big, yet I like having lots of rooms and I also like having big rooms and space outside. Our last house was large, but my grand piano was in an octagonal bay window and I didn’t realise for a few years that I could be heard playing it from the road. No one can hear me now – except Wink, of course. I don’t have the grand any more, there wasn’t anywhere here for it to go, sadly. I have my mother’s pianola, which is also a good piano. I rarely play though, it’s wasted on me. I would love to think that I’ll start playing music again next year. Maybe. This sudden burst of cooking may mean I’m starting to recover my old Z again. One can always hope.

Z relishes relishes

Both a verb and a noun.

Each of my families loves my chilli relish – that is, not everyone in each offspring’s family, but some of them – and so I make a couple of batches in the autumn. It’s a labour of love, but worth it as it’s so very good. It should be made with jalapeños but one can’t buy them by the kilo and I only grew one plant this year, so the long red chillies you can get at the greengrocer are a decent substitute, being spicy but not blastingly hot.

I made the mistake of mentioning it on Facebook, whereupon friends asked for some too. I’ve made 10 jars, from 2 kilos of peppers, plus onion and carrot – not sure if that’ll be enough. I can make them any time of the year but the autumn harvested chillies are the best. While I was surprisingly enthusiastic, I also made a couple of batches of spicy tomato relish – as it’s past tomato season, I added some purée too and, for the second batch, used 600g fresh tomatoes plus a tin. I must check each against the other, to see how well that worked. If it’s good with a tin of tomatoes, it would be a doddle to make in the winter.

I also – really surprised myself here – bought some medlars. They aren’t overripe yet – bletted is the term for virtually rotten medlars, by which time they’re not too astringent to eat. I think a mixture of ripe and less ripe is best for jelly. It’s not as flavoursome as quince, but goes well with various meats, especially poultry and game.

I didn’t think, apart from the chilli relish, which is a given, that I’d bother with preserves any more. Tim and I enjoyed making them from various vegetables and fruits in their season and I haven’t had the heart to do it since he died. I haven’t used up all I made previously, in any case. But I do miss feeling cheerful. I’m pleased that I felt so much enthusiasm.

I’m trying to plan a holiday for the end of winter or early spring – February/March is probably going to be the time I’m least busy for a couple of weeks. I can do anything I want, which is why it’s so hard to decide what I do want. I do need to renew my passport, however, or I won’t be going anywhere – not at that time of the year, anyway. I’d like to be a bit warmer than in Britain.

Z puts down the phone

I am still here. but I’m not especially fond of blogging from my phone and I haven’t been at the computer much, except for genuine work. I’ve got a fairly free week, in terms of appointments, however, so I hope I’ll blog a bit more. I miss it when I don’t, but not enough to actually do it…

I have had a friend staying for the last six weeks. She and her partner had some domestic issues and it was felt that giving each other some space would be more helpful than anything. This has worked and she has moved back home. There’s plenty of room here and we’re good friends, so happy to spend time together, but also fine with one or the other wanting some time alone. There was no question of a longterm arrangement, this isn’t a convenient house to split and, without Tim – and if Russell hadn’t died nine years ago, there would have been no Tim – I only want to live alone. For as long as I could help, I was glad to. But it didn’t lead to blogging.

Now, all is quiet at the Zedery. Wink invited me through for dinner and, as I said, I’ve got a nearly empty diary, so I have turning-out plans, which she’s sweetly offered to help with. I sorted out the study for the friend to have as a sitting room, which has left the surplus from the study in the hall. I deliberately didn’t put it anywhere less obvious, so that I’ll be forced to deal with it.

My daughter Weeza and family have invited us for Christmas (apologies if it’s too early to use the C word) so I can skip the need for a tree and so on. I’ll do a nice arrangement of evergreens, with a few suitable flowers, for the drawing room mantelpiece and the dining table, but otherwise it’ll be business as usual.

I’ve been thinking about the music, that I mentioned in my last post. Maybe it’ll be something to elaborate upon. I always enjoy a spot of reminiscing.

When driving home from Norwich the other day, I surprised a lovely roe deer, who ran across the road in front of me – well in front luckily, no danger of hitting her. I was less pleased by the muntjac that skittered away when I went to feed the barn cats yesterday. And yet, there’s no real difference, except that one is so bold as to come and eat my flowers and the other is wild and timid. And a British native too, though I don’t want to consider myself racist. Does that count, with native plants and animals?

Z cancels 6 engagements, but not the best one

I came down with a really filthy cold, my first since 2019 (I sailed through the Covid years) and was poleaxed for a couple of days. I had to cancel a lot of things, sadly – two theatre trips and a visit to London amongst them. The London visit should be tomorrow but, though I feel completely well again, my sister isn’t (she has enough sinus problems at the best of times, as well as asthma) and I wouldn’t really want to push myself to anything too tiring as yet. But I did go to a fabulous live-streamed (from the Royal Opera House) performance of Don Quixote at the local theatre and came home recommending to Wink, who didn’t feel up to it, that she see if she can watch it online. The leading roles (not Don Q himself, the young couple) were played by Mayara Magri and Matthew Ball, a couple themselves in real life. They were dazzlingly superb in demanding performances. Other dancers have also played the parts during the six-week run, which isn’t surprising as it would be a huge strain to dance, night after night. If you’ve been to see it, I envy you and, if you can catch it online (it is possible to subscribe but there’s a free 14 day trial) then it’s worth watching.

It made me think of other memorable performances and musical revelations in my life and I’m happy to realise that I appreciated so many of them. I’d like to recall them, set them down so that they’re renewed in my mind. Sometimes, a single performance (not necessarily live) has opened my ears to something new altogether and I feel very lucky to have recognised that at the time, on those occasions.

I went with a friend, who lives in Yagnub. She would usually walk to the theatre and I’d drive her half a mile home, but now that it’s dark early, I pick her up too. She’s in her late 80s and was a little daunted to find that, though the performance itself was a couple of hours long, there were two 25 minute intervals, which made it a latish finish. So I suggested that we could, if she liked, leave after the second act and that’s what we did. I dropped her off, went back and parked again and was in plenty of time for the third act. I was enjoying it far too much to miss.

Raining again

If only builders would turn up – that’s the trouble with knowing them personally and also not being one to nag. People expect to be nagged and it’s not my way. But I hope no rain is coming in at present.

The auction went well, I thoroughly enjoyed it and am still attempting to negotiate the sale of a couple more pieces. If I can, that will be great. But we’ll see – 80% of lots sold and I’m happy with that. One client sent me a cheque for the pieces he hoped to buy – my face fell as he assumed he’d buy them all at his maximum price and that’s what he put. Of course, it was not going to happen so neatly, nor had he added anything for postage – but, in the event, he only bought one piece, though it’s a nice one, so he owes me over £3,000 less than the cheque was made out for.

Sadly, I put away the cheque very safely and I’ve no idea where. I’ve looked where I thought it was and found the empty envelope. i’ve also found the card on which he wrote the bids. Why on earth I didn’t keep them together, I don’t remember. Of course, he blithely asked for his cheque back so he could tear it up and write another one. I’m going to have to phone (he must be in his 90s and not online) and confess. Ho hum. I really need a PA. I do have something of an excuse for being absent-minded, I was unexpectedly taken up, being helpful with a friend’s disarrayed life, while Wink was away – I will be free to talk about that eventually, but not yet. It was very distracting, though not at all a burden – and the reason I was turning out the study.

We had a bonfire party last Saturday, as that suited the family better than this weekend. I’d only picked up Wink from Norwich (home from India) that afternoon, so she felt somewhat spaced out after a very long journey. But it went very well, with 15 of us – some extended family but minus Weeza and co, who were having a few days away for half term. I’d taken them (Weeza etc) out for lunch a couple of Sundays earlier, as I wouldn’t have seen them for a couple of months otherwise.

Squiffany came along on Saturday, which was really great as I hadn’t seen her since early September, before she started university. She’s having a good time – a very good social life, anyway, I didn’t ask about her maths course, because I didn’t intend to be a boring grandmother and I’m most pleased that she’s happy, making friends and feeling at home. Everyone in the hall of residence gets on well and they’re already looking for two houses to share next year – they’d like to be quite close, one for boys and one for girls (the girls say the boys are too untidy….) and remain a social group. Though it’s early days, of course and if anyone changes their mind, there will be plenty of time to get a replacement, I’m sure. She’s been too busy to go home and visit her parents, anyway.

I have a great wish to watch old films at present, because I went to a talk on the subject today, which was very enjoyable. Before I start searching for them, I’ll go and feed the cats, because it’s not raining much at present. There’s even some blue sky.

Apart from the two pieces I’m still waiting to hear from a potential buyer about and two that haven’t yet been paid for (one with the missing but safe cheque), all I have to do is the income and expenses sheet and then that’s that for a few years. Though I already have some pieces booked in for next October, so am toying with the radical idea of starting the spreadsheet now, to get ahead. I may yet come to my senses, though.