Sunday, 29 November 2009

Air and water

Since Christmas is on a budget this year I am already looking at ideas for Christmas dinner with just the four of us, and Boxing Day for twelve of us. Christmas dinner will be simple and tasty and easy, it is the larger gathering that will be testing. The offerings of the freezer stores with their large packs and exciting so-called sophisticated adverts have been sort of appealing but each time I go in and look around I am taken aback by the air and water used to bulk out the food. When I cook and eat I like to feel like I have eaten and that I feel good and I just know that after an over-indulgence of these freezer celebration foods is the fastest way to need the toilet a lot! And then I reckon I could make something nicer for much less.

Laying in bed this morning I am thinking I wouldn't mind so much if the turkey was injected with water as it is in the freezer shops, but water alone is no flavour enhancer. And then bingo, the penny drops. Son has been raving about and requesting our favourite Christmas Turkey recipe, especially as he likes the idea of leftovers and being able to graze for a few days, and as space is limited in our new home and finding somewhere convenient and cool to keep a turkey in a bucket of brine would be a challenge, why not by-pass the soaking and just inject the flavouring and let that marinade a bit. That way I can control what flavouring goes in and can actually reduce the quite expensive shopping list required for the marinade of our favourite brine recipe.

Though I now need to acquire one of these flavour injectors and make sure I get one that is robust enough. I'll look through the various online recipes until I find one that really appeals. Our oven is not so big so that will be fun to juggle cooking the vegetables and roasting what needs roasting but that can be done when the turkey is resting after it has cooked. Once again some military precision is required. And I'll be the picture of cool, I hope.

I haven't said what my plans are for pudding but once again on a budget and homemade but I am quite excited. It involves getting Mr Doris (as he is now the master cake maker of the household) to make five Victoria sponges in traditional Victoria sponge tins which we have. These will be made a couple of days before hand. I'll lay them on top of each other and carve out a sort of ball. The carved off pieces of cake will be left to dry out to make a trifle for Boxing day. The ball cake will be layered with some filling that works for everyone and then the whole lot covered in a rolled out brown fondant icing. The resulting ball will have a layer of white dribbled over the top and decorated as a Christmas Pudding. No-one in our house eats Christmas Pudding or fruit cake (despite me making it year after year!) and the kids generally don't like it but this could be fun and work. It will certainly make a good disposable centrepiece for the table.

We are celebrating this Christmas even if I have to do it single handed. We have made it through another year and have positioned ourselves to move forwards in the year ahead. Very unlike the misery I have been in the run up to the last few years. It's December soon and I can get the advent calendars out. Yaaay!

Friday, 27 November 2009


Embraced, I feel
your warm arms
wrapped around
holding tight
so I can let go.

Embraced, nuzzled
into your chest
hearing the familiar
heartbeat grateful
with love.

Embracing, you keep
holding, not wanting
to let go, or for
this moment
to pass.

Embraced, each
time rebuilds
lost strength
easing the
bruised soul.

Dedicated to the darling Mr Doris
by Doris Mash

PS Uh-oh, it is pass the puke bucket time again! :-)

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Manual Patience

Today was great: after doing some work this morning I went out on an errand which brought me back through our little town in the late afternoon. I purposefully took the route which took me over the stone bridge, past the mock Tudor new builds and then the assortment of real Tudor buildings and the tall Gothic Victorian terrace. Past the parish church which has stood for 150 years amidst its gravestones that are kept well. The houses and church give way to shops and there is a magical assortment of unusual and independent shops in Victorian and Georgian buildings with small windows that one could imagine laden with frost and snow at Christmas time in years gone by with children pressing their noses to cold glass to see the wares on offer. Within a few shops the road turns to cobbles and past the beautiful cobbled town square with pubs all round. The Christmas lights have been strung up in anticipation of the grand switch-on this weekend once the tree has been installed. Carols round the tree seem a little pre-emptive in November but I'm looking forward to it. Wrapped up in scarf and gloves stood in the chill and sharing the celebration. The excited child in me is emerging.

Talking of children, son told us this evening that he has been given a sixth form place in his excellent school for next September. Only subject to a good next report!

Windows computers has a game called Solitaire which in the past I have disabled because it is rather addictive. Just lately, as a break from other things, I have taken to playing Solitaire, or Patience, with a real set of cards. It is the oddest thing to lay down the cards and not have sound effects or, when you win, for the cards to not cascade down and, for the score to not show up. As for using ones arms and hands to manually lay the cards down, it is such a novel idea. Addendum: Below is a cartoon that the lovely Anji found and mentioned in her comment - I love it!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Tree of life

It is the middle of November and I have put up our Christmas tree! I wouldn't have put it up quite so soon except I bumped into our lovely neighbour yesterday as I was on my way out and she was busy putting up her Christmas wreath on the front door and delightedly showed me inside to see the full compliment of her Christmas decorations and tree that she had put up. On account of being a bit bored she said! I was reminiscing about my younger days before kids when I would enjoy putting up decorations and leaving them up year round because they made me smile.

We don't have the full scale thing yet, but I have changed the dining table round to change the dynamics of meal times, and installed our stylish lit twigs adorned with tiny baubles and glass snowflakes. The latter I had stored from Christmases past but otherwise we have had to start again in our new home. A world of new possibilities.

The latest episode of Dr Who, "The Waters of Mars" has kept us glued to the sofa this evening. With the strong and powerful Adelaide Brooke knowing the difference between right and wrong as the Dr begins to fall off his perch. I shall be very sad to see David Tenant go, but then I was mortified at the idea of Christopher Middleton leaving the role of the Dr and didn't think anyone could replace him, but he was ably followed. Roll forward Christmas for the next episodes of Dr Who :-)

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Sunny Saturday

This is my seventh post in seven days, and in those same seven days I have been very busy working, attended to domestic things, started planning Christmas, made long overdue contact with a couple of people, and helped outside the house. That makes a really promising week in which I managed to combine enjoyable things like blogging with getting on. Something to do with not beating myself up so much for the things I haven't done and instead continually saying I am doing good and this is OK or this is enough.

If anything my cough has gotten worse in the early part of this week but I am hoping that a change in my attitude may help towards the healing of that.

A really good and amazing thing that has happened is a conversation I had with son yesterday about Christmas. He has been reacting against my poverty mentality of the last few years and if anything wanting more and more but yesterday I put to him an idea that we have something of an ethical Christmas and make it more about being together and having fun. I told him about my best Christmas as a kid, the only good one: when my dad's business had gone belly up and we were very poor but mum decided she would make up for it and that year we had a simple but enjoyable meal and cheap toys but most of all no pressure on any one. That year I didn't have to stress about what to get my mother and how I was going to do it and knowing that she would find some reason to hate it anyway. Although our situation now is not the same there was something in that experience. So I suggested that instead of an obscene number of presents under the tree we have just one present each of between ten to twenty pounds in cost. That one present would be from everyone else in the family which means that the kids wouldn't have to spend but could have some help and choice in the present for the others, though in effect us parents would be doing it all. Son embraced it all and even took it a stage further and suggested that it was a TV and X-box free Christmas and we play games, but not Scrabble! I wonder how that would turn out in practise.

This morning he is enjoying brie on toast for the first time which is something Mr Doris and I have recently discovered. He is smiling at me and it is melting my built-up anger towards him. This is good. Very good.

And yes, despite the weather forecasts it is very sunny here for now.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Pet shop on the corner

There is a pet shop on the corner of our road, in our small English town with a population of just over 16,000. It is a rural area with plenty of farms and real proper cows and sheep. What I don't understand is that I never see the pet shop busy with customers nor anyone leaving with large packages. Yet, almost daily there are deliveries to this pet shop. Big vans, even bigger trucks and all size of vehicles. Definitely deliveries and not collections. Which I find rather curious to imagine just what is going on in the pet shop in the corner? Is it a front for some illegal activity, a black market or something else. All in our little pet shop on the corner of our road.

Thursday, 12 November 2009


Last night I made beef stew and dumplings. This is the first time I have probably made dumplings and they were, er, most interesting. They fluffed up and filled the tum and worked well as seconds for lunch today. An interesting achievement. :-)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Coughing the plague

When this cough first started over four weeks ago I stayed indoors and was poorly with it but as time has gone on and I've gone through various remedies, one of which involved lots of lemons, honey and nearly a full bottle of whiskey (three or four glasses of that a day soon makes damage on the bottle but luckily Aldi do a great priced version!), and although I am no longer poorly the cough is persistent. It isn't possible to stay indoors 24/7 any more - I did that the first week or so - so now when I go out I can't help feeling I am viewed as if I am carrying the plague. Well yes, I know I am carrying germs and I make sure I am not in unnecessary confined proximity with non-consenting others, and I take good care that I cough into a large tissue, but I do feel like an outcast. As if I am being irresponsible for venturing out of the house. As if I am personally responsible for the national increased incidence of swine flu. As if it is much fun having this cough that goes on and on and depressingly seems to be getting worse at times. Oh joy.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Good news day

Daughter texted to say that she has a new job within her company which takes her out of the call centre and into operations. She has done really well on the phones and occasionally been pulled out to do special jobs and now she succeeded in her latest interview. Which is now a 9 to 5 job and means she won't have to work shifts any more. And she was also pleased to tell us this meant she could come to us for Christmas after all. Ahhhh.

Last night I scored some cash for a small job I do and this morning heard that someone wants me to do a new job for them.

And this afternoon the house will be full of kids again as we're babysitting.

Contented sigh.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Minus one

There are three temperature gadgets on my computer desktop. The first is for my own corner of England's green and pleasant land which reads -1 C. It is November 9th and still we have not had to put the heating on for which I am very grateful. Dear Mr Doris likes our home to be warm and I am more a "throw open the window" sort of person. So far we seem to be finding a happy medium as we live in a new build that seems to have been properly designed and keeps in the heat as it is insulated by the flats above and below.

The second temperature gadget is for a town in Germany where a girlfriend lives. They have been having unusually lower temperatures these last couple of months, and certainly significantly lower than ours but not today as they have a reading of 4 C with rain.

And then there is the third temperature gadget for a city in Australia where my cousin lives. They are heading into summer and already reading stonking temperatures, currently 34 C.

As I sit at my desk I can imagine I am in these other places with people I also love, deciding what clothes I need to wear for the weather, embracing the day and what it has to offer.

Thanking the world for our amazing planet.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

There's a hole in my bucket

The more I fill it the more it leaks. So much so it is hard to know whether the bucket is ever half full or half empty and to that end I decided to do myself a Tarot spread with the question "What do I need to do in order to feel more confident about myself and happier with life?".

It has been nearly a year since I posted here and life hasn't stood still. In fact there has been some really big stuff and big head clearing going on, but how much head clearing and sorting does one person need? And with that criticism I have another thing to scold myself with, more self-chastising because if it has gone wrong it is my fault and if it has gone well then that is just good luck or good fortune but not due to my own hand. And that contradiction is not lost on me.  So I can self-examine and still more stuff keeps coming up. I just want to be. To be me and for that to be good enough. But somewhere deep inside there is a monstrous me I work hard to suppress, so that no-one can discover her. So that she doesn't leak out. Probably that ugly, mean, sneaky and selfish child I was told I was in childhood. Yet here I am all these decades later and surely those ghosts don't still have a grip but more than ever seem to have an impact on me.

These are wobbly times just now, and according to my cards quite a big time. Perhaps this is the final clear out or at least a major fundamental one. I am trying to move forward a big project and although I am tinkering away and making progress I feel it is so slow (but it really is) a big hand has me gripped round the throat throwing diversions my way. The latest being discontent with my youngest who is now 15 years old. What I need to remember is that I am not a failure and to not let myself be diverted down the self-pitying route. That remembering that as a teenager he really is not so bad and that actually I have had it really good with him for much longer than I ever did with my daughter. So, this seems like a good point to take stock and put it out there publicly as a means to get it through to my core just how full my cup is.

Reasons to be cheerful:
  1. Darling Mr Doris and I have been happily married for over ten years. He is my stalwart partner and rock. He puts up with my emotions and he still chooses to hold my hand, and makes me frothy coffee and puddings and much more.
  2. Daughter is now 20 years old and previously I have talked about the pain and anguish I felt in my non-existent relationship with her as a teen, but now she and I are very close and she is a darling to me. She has acknowledged who we are as parents and how we are and talks to me as if I might have something useful to say!
  3. Son is actually a good kid on the whole. He does not do drugs (except the alcoholic fuelled mishap a few months ago), has some nice friends and is mostly polite. He has ideas about his future and occasionally sounds intelligent.
  4. We live in a lovely home. It is very compact but it does. It is energy efficient, warm and cosy and a very good rent in a lovely little English town with essential shops just a minute away.
  5. We have tenants living in our old house which we were not able to sell but having tenants is a viable alternative. Magically, within three weeks of us taking the risk to leap from our old house leaving it empty to be where we are now our tenants materialised and signed the contract. There have been issues with unpaid rent which have been a tad challenging but these are resolved and the prospects are good. One day, when the markets have recovered, we'll be able to sell it and end up with something in hand but if we had managed to sell it in the past year or so it would have been for very little and swallowed up by debts. So this appears to be a good investment after all.
  6. Financially we have taken a huge dive but thank you to a very generous gift we have gotten by, and with me finally getting a grip on our finances, we will one day be in a very strong position. It is very tight just now and has been for a while but we'll be okay.
  7. I have great siblings, especially the one we now live near who is wonderful along with her family.
  8. And then I have some amazing friends and for that I am very honoured. I love them and they love me and this is a state of affairs for which I am very grateful. In the last year there has been some ups and downs due to my own actions concerning a couple of friends that has been very painful but these are thankfully resolved.
There are many more things for me to give thanks but this is a start in thanking for all the treasures that are part of my life.

As one of the curiosities of life, I have found myself in a most extraordinary position this year with my mother being potentially seriously ill. This woman who cut through my young life like a mad woman and whose love I once wanted but was cured of at the age of 30, and with whom I have had a tolerating relationship in recent years. But this year I have held her hand through some scary stuff and been her advocate with the health people being an intermediary to help them cope with her and to help her to cope with this foreign world of hospitals. She is not in any immediate danger but who knows what the months ahead may show. I have sat with her as she has told consultants about her terrible childhood with not a single blink of acknowledgement as to what happened to me and what she did. She has said that I have been like a mother to her during these months. And so I have. It has been all so bloody odd. It is like watching a movie of someone else's life which is perhaps no bad thing as a means of coping as one's once all powerful mother shows signs of fragility and a possible end.

That picture above is my Celtic Cross spread using the Gilded Tarot. One possible reading says that the Page of Cups is me holding the mirror up to my life considering the question was "What do I need to do in order to feel more confident about myself and happier with life?". The Queen of Swords probably represents my mother and the effect of her cutting words on my life. The Lovers above represents the positive impression I give out to the world whilst the 10 of swords below reveals my depression hidden underneath, but that I can choose to get up and not be depressed. And so it goes on ultimately to say I will get out of it but I need to let go and to stop trying quite so hard. Living for the present and enjoying what I have is not a bad strategy and obvious really. Putting it into practise is easy to say and rationalise but I have concerns for the doing.

It has been beneficial in the past so I may be back. Who knows. Each day is as it comes.

Love and hugs to the world.