Monday, April 15, 2013

Time for Reflection

It is said that we keep all memories stored in our brains.  It's just trying to hit the right button that becomes more difficult with age.  Already I'm forgetting names, but only at the time needed, as these are usually remembered when it is too late for it to matter.  B begins talking to me, which gives me a reason to ask him a question, but he doesn't like me 'interrupting', so by the time he's finished what he wanted to say (and he can go on for quite a long time), I've then forgotten what I wanted to ask.

On the good side (depending how you look at it), the recent 'chat' I've been giving about my early life has unlocked other memory doors, which is a good thing (or not according to the memory), and although for several years felt I'd not done very much with my life compared to other 'girls' who went out, got good jobs, became 'professionals',  as B said when I told him how I felt - "well, you raised four children haven't you? What more do you want?"  Typical man's reasoning, that's all a woman is useful for, raising HIS offspring, and being his 'housekeeper'.  But I KNOW I could have done so much more, but didn't, and it's now almost too late.   Perhaps still time for me to get out my paints and brushes and begin painting again.  Another 'Grandma Moses' perhaps?

Another type of 'reflection' is that caused by mirrors.  I've stopped looking in those years ago, at least from the neck down (and in hindsight, perhaps I should have kept an eye on the whole 'package', then it wouldn't have expanded so much), and although we have many mirrors hanging in various rooms, it's quite easy to pass by each without even realising they are there.  We have one in this dining room.  Quite large and 'made' by B.   I'd gone into the local antique shop in Leeds where I was able to buy 'bric-a-brac' really cheaply, they normally selling 'quality stuff', so any oddments that came from a sale were put in a room upstairs 'to get rid of', and they let me wander and choose what I wanted.  I found a large gilt 'carved' frame (approx 4ft x 3ft) that I bought for £1, B bought some glass to fit the frame, then had this 'silvered/mirrored' on one side, put it in the fame and - including the frame - the total cost was only £8!

Mirrors can be very useful for all sorts of things.  Mirrored glass can be placed on a table as a 'mat' to stand a bowl of fruit or flowers,  and one placed behind a small Christmas tree will make it look twice the size.  One of the best ways to take advantage of the reflection is to place them behind plants so light is reflected back onto them (from behind).  This gives reflected warmth as well when the sun is shining, and windowsill plants will grow upright instead of leaning towards the (outside) light.

We had a small - but fairly deep - window on one wall in our Leeds kitchen. Originally the kitchen was slightly smaller, the far end being taken up by a coal shed (reached from outside) and a tiny scullery - this having the little window.  Previous owners had removed the scullery and coal shed walls and the kitchen had been extended (but still under the original ceiling. 
To let more light into the little window, we stuck mirror tiles down the sides of the inner 'recess', and luckily these fitted exactly, one width across and four down.  When looking diagonally across at the window it looked as though the window was almost twice the width and the hidden parts of the garden were then visible.   Facing east, we also got a lot more sun as it was reflected back into the room.

Was very impressed with your thrift when reading your comment Sarina. Seems you are doing everything right.  It would still be possible to 'share' family food costs if between you there was a decision of what foods you both needed, then these could be divided and taken home when the family get together.  It doesn't always have to be fresh foods, although some could be frozen to be shared later, there are plenty of dry goods that have a long shelf-life.  Sugar keeps forever, and is cheaper when bought in 5kg bags (useful if a fair amount of baking and preserving is done throughout the year).

I've been reading newspaper criticisms about The Great British Sewing Bee.  Mainly Claudia Winkleman's fringe almost obliterating her eyes, and most critics feel she is not the best presenter they could have chosen.  Myself am getting more and more annoyed by the way she keeps saying "Thank you SO much", to the competitors.   The feeling is that this series is turning out to be a damp squib, which is a pity as it is badly needed to inspire young and old to being making their own clothes/furnishing etc.   At least we have been shown (and rather too rapidly) how to make a laundry bag, and a cushion, neither of which needed much imagination.   Perhaps this week we will be shown how to make a pincushion!  Well, why not?  I used to make loads of these and sell them through crafts shops.  The best 'fillings' for pincushions (as it stops the pins rusting) are dried coffee grounds, or unwashed sheep's wool (that I used to collect from the barbed wire around fields where the sheep had brushed past them).

Pincushions are dead easy to make, it is just two squares of material stitched on three sides, turned inside out, stuffed very firmly, then the fourth side hand stitched to close the cushion.  For one side of some pincushions I would use one square of 'log-cabin' patchwork, but my favourite cushions were these made of velvet (remnants bought very cheaply), and these might have the seams trimmed with lace (or not), but would always stud the top with pins, pressed right in so only the heads could be seen, to form a message.  Either the name of the town, the year, or just 'Mum', or 'Grandma'.

Not sure if we give a welcome to Trish (W.Lancs), or would this be a welcome back ? So many names come and go, and often the same name but not always the same person.  Hard to keep track, but thanks for writing.  Hope you will continue 'keeping in touch'.

Your normal - seasonal - weather in Texas Pam, does seem to cause a lot more problems than in the UK.  Mostly subsidence here is caused by trees planted too close to a house, and after many years their roots can move the foundations.   In some mining areas there have been cases of the ground collapsing under houses (where the underground mines were), but generally the only problems we have are flooding (and this due mainly to excessive rain), which can cause some landslips as well as street flooding.

Many people now are having solar panels fitted on their roofs because this can make quite a difference to the electricity bill.  Apparently it is not necessary for the sun to always shine as these windows gather 'power' just from daylight, but of course a lot more power from sunlight.
Not sure if solar panels are used in the US Pam, but having these 'roof- fitted' (or they could be freestanding), could help to reduce the higher electricity bills in the summer (due to using the air-conditioning).  With Texas also being a windy area, surely there would be a lot of 'wind farms' (as there are now here), to gather the power from the wind and use this for the public sector?  Or even individual homes having a 'wind vane' on the roof (or in the garden) to make their own electricity.

I believe, what happens is a house does not store the electricity made by the above devices. Instead, any  power 'collected' is fed into the 'national grid', via the meters in the house, which then run backwards, deducting the amount of electricity 'made' by the house-owners so in actuality this then becomes 'free power'.  Perhaps a bit too simplistic an explanation, but on the right track.

Thanks also to Dottiebird for her comment.  Like many others of this nation, she too is a 'Thatcherite', and myself (and am sure others) agree with what has also been said - that most of those who will be 'celebrating' the funeral will are too young to even know anything about politics in those days.  As always happens, give the young any excuse to make a nuisance of themselves and they surely will.

Of course "I blame the parents" (and how often we here those words today), but in a way we do tend to follow our parents lead when it comes to politics.  My B's mother and father always voted for a different party than did mine.  We still followed their example, until more recently when we have both moved over to a different party (but not necessarily the same one).  In this country it is not obligatory to vote, and myself believe it should be as only then can we get a true representation of who the people wish to rule our country.  Often voting in some areas can be as low as 50% and it could be those who didn't bother to vote could have swung the result over to the other main party.
Don't think many people are interested in who votes for which party.  In the same way none of us are really interested in what religion someone may (or may not) follow.  It's their business, not ours. Only those who are a bit 'fanatical' tend to be 'in your face' with both, and myself believe when it gets to that point, this also means they have 'closed minds'.  Not always the best thing to have.  On the other hand, their 'offspring' with normal teenage rebellion, can then be more 'open to suggestion', this leading to worse things happening (like terrorism).   Have you noticed how the leaders of terrorism always keep themselves safe, always brainwashing youngsters who go out and do their dirty work for them, getting killed in the process?

Going back to 'parent power', the newspapers we have (Daily Mail six days a week, the Express on Sundays) are the ones that my parents always read.  If a similar (but wrong) paper gets delivered by mistake, even though the contents would be very much the same, we still don't care for it, and return it to the newsagent so we are given the correct one.  Perhaps much of this is to do with the 'puzzle pages' that we work through each day.  Live wouldn't be the same for us if we didn't have several crosswords to do, and (in my case) numerous sudokus, even though most newspapers have them, somehow its not the same.

There have been some occasions where the newspaper layout or type-face has been slightly altered, and this too is irritating, in much the same way as when we go into our favourite supermarket and find the manager has changed the placement of foods.  Am sure readers agree with me that when we shop we like to know exactly where things are, so can write our shopping list out accordingly, moving seamlessly from one aisle to another, removing foods from shelves that we want.
What happens when the food isn't where it is supposed to be, and neither are the rest?  We can get into quite a panic, and it can take AGES just to fill a small shopping basket, let alone a trolley.

This has happened to me more than once, and one time, shopping for a large buffet that I would be preparing for that day (and the next) had gone into Safeways (as it was then) to collect what I needed, and during the previous night, there had been that dreaded change-around.  I had a long list of foods to purchase and was at a complete loss as to where most of them were.  After about half an hour and only part of my order complete,I went to the manager, showed him my list and told him I hadn't time to play 'hunt and seek', shoved my trolley at him and told him to go and replace the items on the shelves, and was now going to purchase everything from Sainsbury's as there I would know where everything was.  I also wrote to head office to complain, and it did seem soon after foods tended to stay on the same shelves (or at least close by in the same aisle) in all stores, mainly because customers HAD begun to complain about this 'moving around'. 

Funny how one thing leads to another.  There was I chatting about politics, and this led me to talking about food.   As if I want to talk about much else, but sometimes even a woman (that's me folks) can be a little less 'domestic' and more 'worldly'. Or should I know my place?

My place seems firmly set in the Goode kitchen, with a respite in the living room sitting in my chair watching TV (but even that is mostly cookery progs.).  Have taken a liking to watching Anna Olsen's series on baking (Food Network) as particularly like her way of taking a basic recipe, showing us how to make/bake this, and then she moves on to show other ways to improve, ending with something really spectacular.  This is something UK cooks should do - show us how to make a basic (pref savoury) dish, then demonstrate how to improve it, and finally serve it 'gourmet style'.

Have a busy week ahead of me as have several trips 'out' (surgery, kitchen shop, supermarket...) then time taken by Norma the Hair tomorrow (instead of Thursday as she can't then do it), and not sure yet whether I'll be taking 'time off' to watch the funeral on Wednesday.  Maybe I should, out of respect, but am a bit afraid there might be trouble 'en route', and don't wish to see any of that.
So any time I have left I'll be busy doing 'cooking and chores'.

One recipe today, a simple one but the type that helps to put a bit more 'life' into what could be a rather bland dish.  Serve this with something simple as steamed white fish, or a slender chicken 'escalope'.
Spiced Rice:  serves 4
5 oz (150g) easy-cook long-grain rice
1 tblsp curry powder (or curry paste)
2 oz (50g) frozen peas
half a red bell pepper, diced
Put the rice, curry powder (or paste), peas, and pepper into a pan of boiling water, then simmer for 10 minutes or until the rice is just tender.  Drain well, then serve with what you will.

Another windy day, but brightening up so hopefully no rain.  The buds on the lilac bush are now very visible, but still no sign of any on our apple tree.  Normally, this time of year trees are beginning to show spring growth, and look really lovely.  If it wasn't for the spring bulbs, and now the forsythia flowering, you would think it was still winter.

Despite being busy, will return each day this week to meet up with you for our daily 'get-together', although my blog may be shorter than normal.  Much depends on what time I wake each morning.  Keep those comments coming, and I'll make sure of finding time to answer any queries.  TTFN.