Sunday, January 8, 2017

my condensed book

For decades now I've had the vaguest notion, like yourself, of writing a book. Something that will fly off the eye-level shelves, perhaps 'The Hue-Chooser's Daughter: a Guide to Land Rover Restoration' or some annotated minutes from meetings I've had the great pleasure to attend.

But the years chug past, and I am in my forties, although I don't consider them to be 'my' forties, but rather forties that someone else has gracelessly foisted upon me with an exhortation not to stay up for them. So I am thinking now that I will bypass the cinema screen and go straight to DVD, as it were, by writing the condensed version of my book. This approach avoids the nitty-gritty of character-development and nuance, and frees me to hone in on plot-line. No doubt there are fine plots on the internet that I can steal. And there we are.

Golf-playing honchos of the Reader's Digest who are reading this, I invite you to get in touch now. The Condensed Books Commissioning Editor, the CEO or other C-Level executives only please: someone who is empowered to sign the uncondensed cheques.  I am here ready to put down my doughnut the very second the phone rings.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Golf Biscuits through the mists of time

O lost friend of my youth rediscovered. Golf Biscuits were a staple when I was a child, from the hefty Good Housekeeping volume that the President gave Mother. I believe she still has the book, but that much-used page is gone.  And then one day the recipe appeared on the trusty old Internet, in the Vintage Cookbook Trials!

The good, kind person who posted it there does not speak highly of them but they are as delicious as ever, either plain or with chocolate.

That rustic look is Entirely Intentional, excuse me.  I add chocolate to biscuits by placing a few lovely Callebaut chocolate chips on top of them and returning to the oven for a minute, then spreading. No doubt you have a better way.

Note that they contain 2 oz sugar.  1 oz suffices, really.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Siberian Sourdough Bread

It doesn't matter one little bit that I seldom post here any more, because I have been baking my own sourdough bread.

The sourdough starter, a token of thanks, borne in Tupperware on Aeroflot to Ireland by Dame Ada Lamb and her companion on their last Grand Tour of Europe, is fresh from the Gulags or Steppes of Siberia; I forget which they said exactly.

It is centuries old.

The French, with their finer sensibilities, appreciate that sort of posturing. The phone rang and it was Canal Levain++ asking me whether I would appear on their panel discussion on over-sized jugs and whether to hang curtains across the washing-machine alcove.

At first I said No, as I say No to everything, but then I asked myself, "What would Samuel Beckett have said?", and I said Yes.  We aesthetes must stick together.

So all these months have been stamped with the knead and rise and bake of the sourdough bread to the beat of the warming world. And now great fame.

I will have to turn off the comments here. It has been so long since I commented over at your blog; certainly for no less love of you and your fabulous flowers and slipcovers but rather through languor and, ultimately, moral turpitude.

Not commenting makes me feel guilt-stricken and nervy. I am prone to that.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Still waiting for the cakes

We are still here on our lengthy vigil for the cakes that have yet to reach us. Meanwhile, struggling on, we make our own, wonky though they may be.

The above is a 9th birthday nest, but I should have made it in the shape of a lone frail tree, faltering in the forest.  Why?, you politely ask. It is because I sense that the dear old amateur lifestyle blogging community is losing its fizz.

No one, now, proudly shows off their low-carbohydrate courgette spaghetti. Chairs sit round, un-reupholstered. Nothing is painted a milky shade of grey. Everyone is too busy following their desk exercise regime to note that they saw a sparrow in the east this morning, and liken it to Jesus.

People have decamped to other rides in the great social media funfair, rides that are faster and shinier and where there is a promise of coins, or at least a fake watch or a small teddy.  A stern, chill wind blows across our collective refurbished verandah.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

down these green streets a woman must go who is not herself green

Thanks to a flat tyre
I went to no St. Patrick's Day parade
Drank nothing green
Stood in no chill breeze
Took no photos
(Here are no photos)
Hid from no hearty people
Queued in no queues
Passed no remarks on how fine the fiddles are,
and your hair, my dear, and coat.

But, rather, stayed at home,
muttering to myself in my minority language
as I transplanted a rose,
curmudgeonly as I pleased.
O joy, O joy, O joy.
O flat tyre of perpetual joy.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

we dare not entertain

The done thing in rural Gloucestershire, where Scottish Husband had settled down before he moved to Ireland, is to have one's friends and neighbours around for Christmas or New Year. Drinks 6-8 is the formula for the invitation: a restrained occasion involving delicate canap├ęs and mutual admiration of lawns and distant royal connections.

[Jane Ray, from the Guardian]

He asks me whether we should host the same sort of event here in the Pretty Far West. Unhesitatingly, I shoot the idea down. Our friends and neighbours would have no truck with Drinks 6-8. They would arrive whenever it suited them, leave in February, if then, and wonder why we were being so glaringly parsimonious as to limit drinks to only 6 to 8 per person.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

where is the hill?

Looking up from their pot noodles, my daughters engage one another in a sudden burst of dinner-table conversation on whether their mother is over the hill.  

“Where is the hill?” the younger one asks.  

[the flowers are lasting mightily well this autumn]

Buoyed by my application of a free sample of face cream that will re-activate my youth and regenerate my radiance, I place the hill firmly and confidently at 90, aeons away from me.  “The race is not to the quick, nor the so forth to the so forth,” I tell them, “but it is up that hill.“

In the excitement of the pot noodles moving on to instant jelly, the topic is abandoned.  Later, struggling with my entry in the best Lego ninja turbo-destroyer contest, I wonder whether the face cream might have been a placebo, yielding only imagined radiance.

[experimenting with homemade chocolates]
I ask Google where the hill is.  Google is usually so definite, so helpful: Banjarmasin is the second largest city in Borneo, coconut oil is the answer to climate change, slight backache is a sure sign of smallpox. Information at our fingertips, Power to the People. But Google is not sure. 

And so I ask you: where is the hill?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Now that this is Heaven (op. 351)

Pink Daughter has gleaned notions of Heaven from her reading.  She asks me whether it is possible that we are all dead and that this is Heaven.

[We dry the lavender over the range]

This thought has never occurred to me before so I give it some consideration and reply that yes, it is highly likely.

[When we tire of the lavender fluttering down into our pans of goulash and risotto, we dry the lavender elsewhere.]

As this is now Heaven, it is important to make it seem thus. We order a four-tier box of chocolates, the fancy sort with drawers and gilding on the coffee creams, and send the rest of our money to ease poverty in Uganda.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

National Geographic (op. 350)

"Everything I know, I learned from the National Geographic magazine," I told my distant neighbour, Mary Assumpta.

I could see her taking that on board. She nodded respectfully, clearly understanding at once that here was a force to be reckoned with, a font of information, someone whom she should invite to be on her team at the next table quiz held by the Ladies of the Parish as part of their ongoing fundraising for the flat earth hypothesis.  She patted my arm and asked me to tea. Mary Assumpta is a good baker. I accepted.

A tribeswoman of the Western Atlantic Seaboard poses by her scant crop of sunflowers and cornflowers. Her land has been hit by the rains this summer and her south lawn is impassable. 

What Mary Assumpta didn't realise is that I meant just one issue of the National Geographic magazine.  Last month's, to be precise. If you want to know about the Jade Sea, Laos, taxidermy or Pope Francis, I am your woman.  Anything else: no.

Thank you all for your lovely comments on my last post. It is a matter of honour with me to reply effusively and individually to all commentators (or acerbically to the meanies) but occasionally my honour lets me down.



Monday, August 31, 2015

Quickly before it's September (Op. 349)

It will be time tomorrow morning to start once more on my winning ways with bread and cheese in school lunches. So this post is a marker to say that I am just about still here

as are my Nutella scones 

and my dainty pink bucket such as is suitable for a harvest of fuchsia flowers picked by small visitors -- there is no need to write censoriously in; we left thousands for the bees, who like it here where no one turns on the radio to disturb their hum with running jumps at the human condition

and my pretty bunches of flowers from the garden, emblematic of an imagined utopia in which there is no impending tax return.

Those were three (3) things. To recap: scones, fuchsia, bunches of flowers. Now that Bloglovin' is bombarding me with its top posts, I note that they are all counted items. Seven ways to exercise at your desk. Six second chances at life. Ten steps to a better you. A better me!  Four super Scandi suppers. This is my 349th post. Opus 349 if you will. Containing three things.

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