Posted in Books, Health Issues, Videos

Humming to Myself on a Grey Day

Snippet from my private diary…

16 June 2018

Another grey and rainy day.

The song in my head: Colours (Donovan). Blue is the colour of the sky, ay, ay, in the morning, when we rise, that’s the time, that’s the time, I love the best. Freedom is a word I rarely use without thinking, mm hm, without thinking, uh huh, of the time, of the time, when I’ve been loved.

Have watched a YouTube video already:

The EU Are Trying to Ban My YouTube Channel [Politics UK]

Politics UK is Stephen Edginton, a young fellow who interviews people across the UK and wider Europe… ordinary people in the street as well as politicians. He was talking about Article 13 and is really keen that we all write to our MEPs.

Have just bought a book called ‘Lost Connections’ (by Johann Hari) from Amazon. Renatha (is that the right name?) was talking about it in her blog, and it sounds good. I can’t read it yet, but it’s in my reading queue.

Here’s a bit of the blurb:

“What really causes depression and anxiety – and how can we really solve them? Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and started taking anti-depressants when he was a teenager. He was told that his problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate whether this was true – and he learned that almost everything we have been told about depression and anxiety is wrong.”

Then I discovered from another video that sometimes the helpless bees who need saving are humans:

The kind-hearted whale

I love it. 🙂

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Posted in Dreams and Nightmares, Life and Family, Observations, Reluctant Landlord

New Beginnings

She moved on — the friend I talked about in Kablooie.

I already knew we were finished. No deal is better than a bad deal, and I wasn’t going to put up with any more. I thought it might be possible to pull back just enough to allow the friendship to drift away without further hurt feelings and angry words, but she chose to end it formally.

Well, she is right — a clean break is best. I can now be who I want to be without questioning myself and feeling dragged down. We were good for each other in the past and had a few things in common, but ultimately we became incompatible.

The following isn’t connected, but lately I’ve had trouble keeping my private diary going. It was hopping along in fits and starts, but I’ve been trying again in a different app. An edited version follows:

Sunday 10 June 2018

I have a mental barrier against journalling. I keep thinking, “not now… maybe later,” and end up watching videos in YouTube. I was watching a video about Ambien by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, and in one of the comments underneath was a short list of things with addictive qualities — video games, social media and YouTube! Maybe that’s what happened to me. The commenter said potent, short-acting ‘drugs’ are the ones that get you addicted.

Monday 11 June 2018

I’m definitely at war with myself when it comes to this diary. I really want to write it, and there’s constant chatter in my head about the things I want to say, but then when it comes to writing, I don’t want to. Perhaps I’ve got tired of actually expressing my thoughts about everything.

I dreamed a while ago that the tenant’s wife came to us and said for a long time she hadn’t been able to pay the full rent, so had been paying only part of the rent every month, and nobody even noticed. She now had all the funds and would be able to pay back what she still owed me, though we’d need to plan it out so she could pay back gradually. The agents instantly flew into a passion, saying that wasn’t within the terms of my lease and she should have been upfront with us from the beginning. When I woke in the morning I felt very uncomfortable and thought to myself “I never dream about the tenants! Why would I do so now?” I thought of writing it down in my diary but worried it might tempt fate, so I didn’t.

About a month after that dream, I got an email from the agency saying the tenant had been in touch to say he’d lost his job and could we discount the rent? The money would come from his wife, who was still working.

13 June 2018

Just back from a walk. Lovely sunny day with a warm, playful breeze. I took my camera but it ran out of power before I’d gone very far. Went past the duck pond (dozing ducks and a couple of fuzzy ducklings), across the bridge, over the top of the hill and back to the house. There was a slightly plump couple canoodling in the grass, but I didn’t have to pass too close! On the other side of me was a lady with her spaniel, which was off the leash and rooting through the vegetation. It didn’t approach me… the long damp grass was probably more interesting than I was.

When I checked my messages at home, someone sent the nicest note I’ve had in a while: “Knowing you, your ‘average’ will be really good:).” Wow.

Another friend said he needs to find a woman and is planning a road trip on his bicycle, and I said he sounds like a country song. I said I was walking out to take photographs, and he said, “Don’t do it tomorrow… there are strong gales forecast.”

It’s certainly got pretty cool and there are big splashes of rain. The sun went behind a cloud some time ago.

I told Mum my joke, that I was planning to walk to Mordor but there was a red sign saying ‘FOOTPATH CLOSED’. She gave me a confused look, and said, “You were going to walk to WHERE?”

I said it’s something people do… they know what the distances are, so they walk that distance and say, “I’ve been to Mordor.”

“Oh,” she said.

22:41: Was out in the garden at twilight ‘saving the pinks’ and other things from the ferocious gale that’s due to hit. The breeze was picking up already.

Donald Trump came on the news. ‘A tired Trump touched down and said risk of war with North Korea is over, so sleep well tonight.’ The words are not exact; they’re from memory, but I thought it was lovely. The news are usually doom, gloom and tension.

14 June 2018

05:58: The first thing I did was peek through my bedroom blinds to see if there’s a roaring gale outside. The blossom tree is swaying, but not really. I feel happy thinking about my walk. It’s like there’s a corner of my mind that’s pure sunshine and hope.

13:08: Sunny day again. I took a few dull videos of the trees thrashing around at the back. The only damage I can see is that our large red poppies and most of the clematis flowers have suffered — their petals strewn across the ground. The snails dragged a stray lupin plant round the back of the hedge, and a potted golden rose lost a single bloom. The pinks in their shady little cranny are barely moving at all.

In Messenger, someone sent a video about bonding with a wingless bee. She gave it sugary water and flowers, took it in, and looked after it till it died. I was touched, and had to reach for a tissue, but after I recovered, our conversation went as follows:

Me: “MY bee drank the sugary water and then left. Ungrateful varmint.”

Friend: “Well, that is the whole point… One doesn’t expect them to have to hang around.”

“I wonder if we showed the video to angry wild bees in the woods, would they become more peaceful?”

“Different species.”

“Donald Trump showed an encouraging video to Kim Jong Un. It seemed to work.”

“I don’t want to know anything about Trump & co.”

“It was just a joke.”

I was crushed! I expected her to know about the video, but I don’t think she did. Now I feel like I live in a different world… and I’m the one who’s changed.

Posted in Life and Family

New GDPR Regulation

Dear Sister,

In our effort to comply with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws, we must let you know how we use your data. As you are our elder sister, we may contact you in the future to update you on all our trials and tribulations. Things like defaulting tenants and ISP servers going down, which probably means we will use your mobile phone number to scream at you via SMS. We might also post things to your Facebook timeline, tag you in our cat photos or send stickers to you in Messenger.

We assume you will still want to be signed up to all this. If you don’t, we will have to send you to complete an 88-page webform on the internet when we get it ready. That might take months.

Until then, we will send you regular invitations to shop for us, weed our garden and take us out for coffee.

Yours sincerely,

The CEO of Generally Messing About

Posted in Music I Like, Political and Social Issues, TV and Films

Eurovision 2018 Semi-Final One: brief thoughts

I haven’t forgotten about this blog! It wasn’t possible. Every few days I got a spammy email subscription or two, which always brought it to the forefront of my mind. In the end I gathered up enough energy to wade into my settings and turn the email subs off.

Tonight I was watching the first semi-final for the Eurovision Song Contest. The good news is, Ireland has got in. The bad news is, four entries I rated the very lowest also got in!

These were my favourite five from the first semi-final:

  • Bulgaria — Equinox “Bones”
  • Armenia — Sevak Khanagyan “Qami”
  • Finland — Saara Aalto “Monsters”
  • Ireland — Ryan O’Shaughnessy “Together”
  • Azerbaijan — Aisel “X My Heart”

Israel and Greece were also high on my list.

There are videos for all the songs here.

A little while before the song show tonight, I turned on my TV upstairs and checked the soundbar was working. Cranked up the volume till things started to boom a bit, and the BBC News just happened to be on. They were waiting for Donald Trump, so I saw and heard his entire speech about withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran. He signed a document and held it up for the cameras. Here in Scotland, his words echoed in the cool evening air.

The song contest was somewhat trumped by that little bit of political drama! In my view, Donald Trump’s the first real president America has had for decades.

I got nervous at that bit of my post, but Jordan Peterson said, “Always speak the truth,” and that rings in my ears. It’s as simple as that really.

Posted in Blogging, Books, Quizzes and Memes, Writing

Random Selection of Stolen Tags

“I’ve been working on this for hours now… It’s too much to find questions and people (that would be like 100 people if I did these correctly) to tag in it. So maybe I’ll go with a cop-out and say “Hey, if you want to answer any of these questions, then go ahead! I nominate you!”

– Life of Chaz

Wow! Reading Chaz’s award catch-up post, I realize just how many of these are buzzing around out there. I confess I was tagged once and didn’t respond in any shape or form, even to say ‘thank you’. I still feel guilty. It happened just as I was screaming around the house getting ready for a rare family vacation, and at the same time was retreating mentally, which meant I probably wouldn’t respond to anybody online for a long while. I’m not sure what that was about, and it’s years ago now. Perhaps I can make up for it a bit?

From Chaz’s post I picked out 15 questions I could answer, along with a couple of short lists at the bottom.

1. What qualities do you like most in others and why?

A gentle sense of humour, genuine interest in others, patience and tolerance (though not loud and confrontational… I mean a quiet understanding of people with a willingness to listen and think).

2. What qualities do you like most in leaders and why?

Direct and discreet honesty. Supportiveness; tolerant sense of humour. Strength and determination (obviously!) but no blind arrogance.

3. Describe one moment in your past that you would say changed your entire life.

Becoming more aware of people outside my little bubble… I won’t say how that happened. 😛

4. What qualities do you look for in a friend?

Kind sense of humour, predominantly positive outlook, friendly patience, chattiness and responsiveness (though I don’t require that they write every day — life can be too disruptive!) A good conversation is balanced between two people… if it’s too one-sided, you feel frustrated and unheard, and the friendship is likely to founder.

5. What’s your favorite book?

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien — I read it four to six times AND it was first to mind, so I really have to nominate that. There are other frequently read and loved books too, but I’ve only been asked for one…

6. What advice would you give a new blogger?

I’m not much of a blogging personage, but I believe in caution. We don’t have the protections professional journalists do, so I’d say everyone on social media should read Blogging and Tweeting Without Getting Sued (Mark Pearson).

7. Are you a book person, digital person, audio person, or combo person and why?

Combo without the audio. I’m too deaf to listen to audio books. Amazon probably can’t understand why I never respond to its emails about the audio books I could download! eReaders are amazing because you can have access to a huge library without cluttering up your house with paperbacks or visiting the library. The town library doesn’t even have a smattering of what I could read on Kindle. Yet I have a big collection of books in print… cookery books, textbooks, some poetry, art and photography books, comic books and some old sentimental paperbacks.

8. Do you have a particular reading spot?

A solid and comfortable Parker Knoll sofa protected by a bright throw, with my feet up on a huge padded footstool. It’s also my favourite blogging spot.

9. Who is your all time favorite author?

Tove Jansson. Does that contradict The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien) as ‘favourite book’? Well, I’ve thought about it, and both my answers are still the same.

10. What’s one insecurity you have about yourself?

My speech is very, very quiet and I pronounce a lot of things wrong (born severely deaf). I hate speaking, so clam up if I’m not comfortable with someone or in a particular situation. I’ve been amazed, on the other hand, how I can prattle away at a total stranger, one I’ve taken to for no reason that I know of… other than that I like them and they seem kind.

11. What’s one exotic animal you wish you could have as a pet?

Albino hedgehog. I don’t know if that counts as ‘exotic’, but it should.

12. What is one thing you can’t live without?

I’m torn between iPad and wheelie shopping trolley…………

13. What’s the best thing you’ve learned or experienced from blogging?

What my own writing strengths and weaknesses are. Also that the vast majority of people are kinder than you fear. 🙂

14. If you’re not blogging what are you doing?

Cooking, laundry, housework, shopping for groceries, feeding the cats, taking the rubbish out and putting out bins for the bin men, walking outside with camera, reading other people’s blogs, having coffee in town, chatting with friends, listening to music, watching TV or DVDs, reading the news, watching YouTube videos (mostly about Brexit), writing in my private diary, composing the odd weak haiku, editing photos and (when I have time, which I haven’t lately) digital art.

15. What’s the last record/album/mp3 you bought?

I bought two together — Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and 1989 by Taylor Swift.

‘One Lovely Blog’ tag: Share 7 facts about yourself.

1. Aargh! The Mini-Beast is here. (Snow whirling past window).

2. I hate excessive swearing and sudden bodily references (e.g. ‘he has balls’ or ‘all that shit’) because they genuinely distract me from the point that’s being made. 😛 I’m not a prude… it’s partly because it points to strong negative emotions, so when you feel that someone is angry or aggressive, your brain promptly clouds up and you want to retreat. Message lost.

3. I have brown eyes.

4. My best friend at university said she can never ‘read’ people with brown eyes, whereas it’s always clear what people with blue or grey eyes (like herself) are thinking. I’m not so sure about that, because people have a horrible habit of knowing exactly what I’m thinking without me saying a SINGLE WORD! Phweee.

5. A recent discovery in the local supermarket: stonebaked wholemeal pitta breads. They aren’t big tough ones… they’re soft and full of flavour.

6. In my blog’s side bar are the posts I’ve recently liked… more about that further down.

7. We’re having chicken, carrot and courgette bake for supper tonight (homemade, of course!)

‘Listicale Tag’; prompt given: Top Five Favorite Villains (in no particular order):

1. Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman’s character in The Fifth Element)
2. Bill (Oliver Twist)
3. Any villain played by Alan Rickman, like in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves
4. Count Olaf (as played by Jim Carrey in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events)
5. Gru (Despicable Me)

Blog posts I recently ‘liked’ in WordPress:

This isn’t a tag, though you can run with it if you like. 😛 I mentioned it above as one of my ‘facts’. I read and ‘like’ so many posts that they must disappear quite quickly. By tonight, the five at the foot of ‘Posts I Like’ in my sidebar will almost certainly be gone:

1. Other People’s Lives (Strange Codex)

2. Being Preachy Doesn’t Sell (James Harrington’s Blog of Geek and Writing)

3. A Short Analysis of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s ‘The Rainy Day’ (Interesting Literature)

4. The Part of Me (MW the Mermaid)

5. Dealing With Anger (Discovering Your Happiness)

Posted in Cooking, Lost in Thought

Song Ghosts and Baked Potatoes

I haven’t written in my private diary for a few months. Was wondering if I might kickstart it again by writing descriptions of my surroundings rather than keeping a record of what’s going on. That’s something better done during the day: an attempt at written snapshots instead of photographic! Right now there’s nothing I feel like describing.

Well OK, just a short paragraph…

The only light comes from a single spotlight bulb. The lamp is a white twin spotlight, so I could have both, but that seems wasteful! It’s nicer with both on… I’m trying it out. The second bulb is shining straight at the goblin print, which makes me nervous, because too much light on pictures isn’t good for them. Goblins don’t like sunlight, I’ve heard, though I don’t know what they make of too-bright artificial lighting.

Considerately switching back to one bulb now. It was giving me a headache, so goblin blood must run in my veins.

Enola Gay (OMD) has been in my head for a few days, though I’ve not listened to music since my mother returned from the hospital. I found this old Daily Mail piece about earworms here.

Someone in the comments section prefers the term ‘song wedgie’, claiming ‘earworm’ is too unpleasant. I don’t like ‘earworm’ either, but ‘song wedgie’ is worse! I don’t know if earworms affect my mood or result from something already affecting my mood… sometimes one; sometimes the other? At any rate, I feel earworms deserve a better label; something more dignified. They can be quite haunting… would ‘ghost tune’ do? Or ‘song ghost’?

On to food…

The other day I was trying to eat raw celery and it was bitter, so I left it till supper time and roasted it using the mixture described here: Maple Dijon Roasted Winter Vegetables.

I liked it. It would have been better if I’d added onions and carrots rather than use the celery on its own. Still, it slipped down more easily than when I was trying to eat it raw. 🙂 A friend said she mixed celery with carrots in a soup, and found the celery gave it an extra kick… I might try that some time.

A few days back I wrote a recipe for a baked potato filling. Tonight we had baked potatoes again, but this time I opted for plain butter, cheese, steamed vegetables and a dab of mayonnaise.

Usually we microwave our baked potatoes but I always felt uneasy about it. I liked a tip I read recently, and have done our potatoes that way twice:

Wash the spuds well. Prick with a fork so they do not burst when cooking. Microwave for about five minutes. Put on a baking tray, lightly drizzle with oil and season with salt / pepper, and bake in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes. Foil not needed, though a bit of greaseproof paper under mine kept the baking tray clean.

The texture of the potato is better this way… mine positively melted in the mouth. I grated a small amount of cheddar cheese using the fine bit of the grater… it comes out like a light fluffy cloud.

Hope I’m not setting a bunch of blogging tummies rumbling! 😈

Posted in Cooking, Injury and Mishap, Life and Family

A Few Changes

Yesterday when my sister came for coffee, my mother made a few suggestions for change.

The soda bread (all the way from Ireland) isn’t right. The only one that will do is the big round one from the cheese shop in town. More urgently, Fairy washing powder simply won’t do. I washed her clothes with it, and she leapt up in the middle of the night to change. She couldn’t stand the airy aroma, so my sister must bring the washing powder she prefers.

I will carry on with Fairy myself, as I like the fresh scent, but must redo my mother’s washing. Meant to wash her bed sheets yesterday but am absolutely not allowed to touch them till the Persil arrives.

Well, I washed the bath mat instead. A single day can’t be allowed to go by without washing something, otherwise you feel you’re falling behind. I decided Fairy would be OK for bath mat, as it’s nowhere near your nose unless you slip and fall… and bath mats are good at stopping you from doing that.

It’s good, though, to be told off and asked for things — food especially. The worst is when she’s so tired or ill that she just doesn’t care.

I’m beginning to feel my life revolves around supper… “When should I start making tonight’s? What are we having tomorrow? Do we have all the ingredients we need? Is there anything I need to defrost? Are there enough clean bowls for the soup, or do I need to put the dishwasher on now?”

I also spend a lot of time worrying what the food contains. There were three or four different cartons of breadcrumbs in the supermarket, and I picked the one with the lowest amount of salt — criteria I wouldn’t have employed just six weeks ago. Did you know commercial breadcrumbs only last about six to nine months? The carton I bought the other day is stamped ‘Best Before Sept 2018’. I checked the others on the shelf and they said the same. That’s a lot of dipping we must do!

In the supermarket a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a tiny tub of dessert (previously a favourite of my mother’s). Checked the salt content and thought, “You’re kidding!” Only realized I’d said it out loud when someone standing near me swung round and looked over.

Anyhow we’re no longer buying that particular product, and, just to be on the safe side, I threw away the old crumbs to replace with new.

Crumbs? Trivia, I know…

Over a year ago there was another change, small but significant. I grew up using a straight potato peeler and never thought anything of it. Around Christmas 2016 our old one broke, so I was using a strange black one a lot over one period of a few days. I realized it was cutting into my skin because of its poor design. There was too long a gap between the sharp bit and the handle, so I was gripping the metal above the handle and below the blade… sort of…

I hate plasters on my fingers, so decided I had to buy a new peeler. As I couldn’t leave the house, I was ordering food from Tesco, to be brought by home delivery, so added a straight peeler to the order. I marked a lot of food ‘don’t swap’, but it didn’t cross my mind to do the same with the utensil. When the goodies arrived, I was surprised to be presented with a Y peeler!

Hrmm.

I’d never used this Y peeler design before, and was both intimidated and intrigued. My mother would probably have sent it straight back, but after reading up on it on the internet, I wanted to give it a go. Typically I handle it gingerly, as though it might bite (which it definitely could), but I love it. It’s particularly good on long, thin vegetables like carrots, parsnips and cucumbers. I just set the vegetable on end and spin it round, then flip it to do the other end.

Like with my sea-salt grinder, I’m possessive… in theory it’s there for everyone to use, but I think of it as mine. I wash it by hand, then carefully dry the blade by pushing the dishtowel into the corners. I never stroke the towel along the blade… just press gently. I’ve had no accidents with it since I bought it… fingers crossed that’s how it will stay!

I never used to baby the old peelers that way.

There have been a lot of changes lately, both big and small. The above-mentioned are only a few, with some corrections back to baseline by Mum — but only some! 😈

Posted in Cooking

Baked Potato with Cheese and Sweetcorn

We all have our own favourite fillings for baked potatoes. Ultimately we go for what’s most convenient and familiar, even if it’s just baked beans or butter and salt.

If you are looking for ideas, however, this is what I came up with tonight:

Serves one.

Ingredients for baked potato filling:

  • One shallot, peeled and chopped
  • One clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • Tinned sweetcorn
  • Tinned garden peas
  • Butter
  • Mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • Coconut oil or fat

Gently heat the coconut oil in a small saucepan. Cook the shallot and garlic. Add as much sweetcorn as you think you will eat (I used four dessertspoonfuls). Heat the mixture through.

Heat garden peas in a separate pan.

When potato is baked and split, put butter in to melt, then add grated cheese. Heap corn mixture on top. Serve with garden peas at the side.

I grated sea salt on mine, and my mother had hers with a prawn filling (she doesn’t like sweetcorn). They were tasty enough for us to want to do the same again tomorrow.

Have you a favourite filling for jacket potatoes?

BBC Good Food has more tips here. I’m going along to see what they said about coleslaw…

Posted in Life and Family

Some Fish to Fry

Meant to write this at the end of the night when I got some rest, but have run out of energy. Oh boy! Trying to write it anyway.

It is hard finding foods my mother will eat. She is more likely to shake her head and say she doesn’t like something than she is to accept it. It’s almost a reflex reaction.

A week ago I was telling her about stripy ‘Pink Tiger’ lemons I saw in Marks & Spencers. I’d never seen them before, so it was just a matter of curiosity. I didn’t buy them, but when I was describing them, all she said, very clearly, was, “I don’t like lemons.”

Well, I know! These were awfy pretty, though. Can you buy lemons just because they’re pretty?

Decided to fry some fish for supper tonight. I absolutely hate asking over the counter for anything, and could have asked my sister to do it instead, but I decided it was time I screwed my courage to the sticking place and did some things for myself. So I ended up at the supermarket fish counter just as someone else was leaving. Previously I’d had a surreptitious look at the fishmonger and decided he would probably be quite kind… and so it proved!

I’m extremely softly spoken, so, even as I spoke, I instinctively reached over to show him my shopping list, which was quite long! But near the top it said ‘2 small fillets haddock’.

He smiled, showed me the small fillets, then wrapped them up with the price sticker on, and handed them over, still smiling.

Sometimes there’s absolutely no reason to be nervous! I still felt slightly on edge, out of habit, and while he was wrapping the fillets, passed the time by studying the other fish and similar squirmy things on display. Right in front of me were a couple of octopuses.

Ooooh…

That makes me sad. Of all the things we fish out of the sea, octopuses seem more like personalities… though perhaps fish, crabs and limpets are personalities too. I sympathized with the lady I saw on TV the other day who said it always upsets her to see rays in the fish barrels. She said in the water they seem to smile, but in the market they all have downturned mouths.

It upset me too when she said that.

At home I told my mother about the two octopuses just in front of me. She frowned.

“Don’t think I would eat those,” she said.

As to the haddock… they tasted very good. My mother normally cooks them herself, whereas I’m weird about fish, so this is the first time in my life I’ve ever fried any. Don’t tell her I said so, but mine tasted better than hers. 🙂 I tried harder to get good coverage with the breadcrumbs, and they tasted absolutely perfect with chips and mushy peas.

I have one of those ‘grinding’ sea-salt cellars, which I bought in Aldi’s ages ago. I thought it would have to be disposed of after the salt was used up, but to my surprise, I was able to unscrew the top and refill it. I’m quite possessive about it, and when it was empty, wouldn’t let anybody dispose of it on my behalf. I’m sure I filled it up with salt again purely to stop people throwing it out anyway. Which they would have done eventually. So.

I put salt on my plate of food in the kitchen so my mother doesn’t have to watch me having something I can have but she can’t. Meanwhile I feel sure she reaches for a little cat-shaped salt cellar that sits smirking nearby… never when I’m looking, of course! We have become a shifty-eyed household who only salts food when nobody’s looking. Don’t tell anybody.

I don’t know why the song ‘Never on a Sunday’ (by Nana Mouskouri) has been in my head all day.

It was a lovely sunny day and quite mild, but my sister said the weather is forecast to become very cold again in a day or two.

“Ice, and that sort of thing, you mean?”

“Yep.”

Oh boy. According to the TV, we have Canada to blame. All of their frosty weather and chilliness is billowing ominously in this direction, if not already here. The sky was a funny colour tonight.

There was a short, quiet period after lunch when my mother was having a nap, and I felt sure somebody had come into the house. A door opened softly, and a shadow crossed the pool of sunlight at the back of the house. I didn’t move… just watched quietly, but the shadows seemed formless and flickering. What where they… the leaves of trees facing the street?

Then I noticed Samson (one of my cats) staring fixedly out towards the front door.

I got up and went softly out into the hall… if someone was lurking outside the house, I didn’t know if I wanted to draw their attention. Somehow I didn’t suspect a burglar, though there are reports of a sneak thief in the locality, and we are all supposed to keep our doors locked.

There was a bouquet of yellow roses which hadn’t been there before… also a carton of fresh Cullen Skink soup.

The roses were obviously for my mother, who frightened all her friends with her illness, but I didn’t know who had brought them. For no particular reason, I searched online to find out what yellow roses mean… they stand for joy, happiness, and true friendship.

When she got up at teatime, I showed her the carton of Cullen Skink soup… and waited.

A cloud crossed her face. “I don’t like Cullen Skink soup.”

“Not my thing, either,” I said.

I’m weird about fish, remember. My sister is vegetarian, so as a family we’re a bit stuck about what to do with it. Don’t get me wrong… it was a nice surprise, and kind. There is no good reason why any of us should be funny about fish soup… it’s sheer bad luck.

Posted in Christmas and New Year, Trolleys

Santa Baby

Feeling quite Christmassy so I changed my blog theme to something softer. I like this better than the last one. I looked at it on my desktop Mac last night, and could barely see the snow as there was too much white… I hope it shows up better against this theme?

I’m exhausted after beetling around town… my sister goes so much faster than I do, and my legs were wearing out! I was a favourite of the shop assistants — my shopping trolley was dressed as a little Santa with a sparkling beard. At least I have more gifts now. I did better than I feared, as my mother is notoriously difficult to buy for.

Is it everyone who is seriously fussy about things? For instance:

– only wears certain colours
– only likes white gadgets
– doesn’t like turtlenecks or polo necks
– doesn’t like socks with tight cuffs
– doesn’t like four out of five versions of Turkish Delight
– can’t eat spices or drink alcohol
– only eats cashew nuts
– some perfumes will seriously annoy
– prefers decaffeinated coffee at home and milky latte in town
– doesn’t like fat pens
– rejected all the slippers she looked at in town
– likes chocolate but some are too sweet
– won’t listen to music except on her terms
– ‘hates’ films (but loves Shrek)

It makes you scared to buy anything.

I like to think I’m easy to please… I love pens and stationery of all types, absolutely any CD will be tried several times till I fall in love with it, all DVDs will be eventually watched and probably kept, I love bears, I love all types of coffee, even weird flavoured ones, love mugs, love most chocolates and sweets, wear all socks (no matter how garish), don’t turn my nose up at perfumes or toiletries (unless it’s the type of perfume that gives me a headache, like Yardley’s Rose or Anais Anais).

That’s what I think, anyway… in practice, other people might not agree, and would complain that I turn my nose up at things like grey jerseys, second-hand jerseys in general (from charity shops), flimsy spotted skirts, 100% nylon or polyester bed linen, some cheap ‘gift’ toiletries, a book or CD I’ve got already, the kind of gift or book vouchers you have to remember to spend in local shops before they expire, prints you must go to the trouble of mounting and framing, dog ornaments, hand-blenders, chewy nougat, hard toffees, almonds and I don’t know what else. I suppose the fact that I’ve got a list of “don’t like so much” is telling!

At least I’ve done some of the things hanging over my head… posted cards, paid a bill, got some of the treats I feel we really ought to have at Christmas…

What about the rest of you… all ready for the festivities yet?