Saturday, November 07, 2009

Let there be light

I finally rang the guy to come and see about installing lights and he came last week and had a look and told me what I need to buy. So I did a quick search on the internet and found the details for this place, which is basically a big warehouse selling end of line lights and seconds and that kind of thing. I had bought one lamp from a big DIY place not long after I moved in as I at least wanted to put one up in the bathroom. Turns out that like so many of those chain DIY places, the staff hadn't a clue/didn't care about what they told me and what I bought isn't suitable for a bathroom at all. So, I'll put that up in the bedroom, which is also where I have the sewing machine set up and it'll be a good worklight and I can continue to just use the bedside lamp for those times when I don't need a bright light. The place I was at today had two guys who really did seem to know what they were on about and they were very helpful. I dithered about the light for the kitchen for ages and finally chickened out of getting the blue one and went for a more standard three-light arrangement. It had nice white glass fittings but one was broken and another broke when he was taking it down off the wall but he had already told me that since they couldn't find any others of that type I could take a different colour glass fitting from a different light if I wanted so I got some nice bright orangey/yellow ones instead. I may go back and get that blue one I was looking at though - I wasn't sure it would provide enough light for the whole kitchen but I might go back with the chair cushions and if the colour matches well enough get it anyway and see if it would work. I'll wait and see how money goes for the rest of the month. As well as those I bought a very simple red lampshade for the sitting room. It is very slightly damaged on one side at the top but you can't really see it, I could just feel where the chip was when I was holding it. And I got a properly enclosed one for the bathroom (plus an explanation from the guy on what to look out for in future which was handy). At a grand total of 85 euro for all three, including bulbs (the three bulbs for the kitchen light are energy saving ones, the other two just ordinary incandescents but sure spares are always handy to have) I think I didn't do too badly. I saw about five other lights which I really liked, some of them more expensive but all for far less than you would pay in a 'normal' shop. I got chatting to another customer while I was there and she said she had also used the services of an electrician they had given her the name for before and he was really good and very competitively priced so I also got his number from them. Always handy to have that kind of a contact. All in all it was an hour very well spent.

As it was raining this morning we didn't do any outside work in the garden. I wouldn't have minded but the head gardener decided we would work on seed saving instead. During the year at whatever time the seeds are ready for harvesting the flowers or stems are put into paper bags and then during the winter the seeds are actually removed and sorted. So today I tried to get at the seeds for meadowsweet, which are so tiny it's impossible to completely separate them from their hulls. Then I did something which was a member of the mauve family and finally some hollyhocks, just so I could have something easy to do before I went home.

In two weeks time there won't be any working in the garden but two of the members of the 'workers' cirlce' are going to give a talk on propogating, which should be interesting. On that Saturday I won't have to be there until 11 o'clock so I am going to take the chance to go to a shop I found up the road from me which sells wallpaper and carpets etc. The bathroom here has horrible lino tiles laid on the floor and I'd really like to get proper tiles in there (with proper grouting rather than the lines of dirt which seem to line the lino tiles in there at the moment) but although I could probably get tiles relatively cheaply, getting someone to fit them could be expensive so I thought in the meantime maybe I could try buying an offcut of ordinary lino and just laying that myself. I couldn't do a worse job that what's down there at the moment I don't think and at least with one piece of lino the dirt wouldn't be collecting in the cracks. Besides, a gray floor is just depressing to look at. They also had large offcuts of carpet in that shop (I window shopped for about twenty minutes there last Sunday) and I was thinking I might get one big enough to use as a rug in the sitting room. It would protect the wooden floor somewhat and be a bit cosier in winter I think. I'll have to measure the floor space but they had fairly big pieces for about fifteen euro so it might be possible to do. Rugs to cover that much space, even cheap ones, cost at least sixty or seventy euro and hundreds if I wanted to try and buy one I actually like. I was half thinking it might be possible to use the sewing machine to sew an edging onto a piece of carpet but I'm not sure how feasible that would be. Am getting caught up in a lot of plans at the moment but it's good to keep chipping away at the various things to do around the place so that I can make the place a bit more homey for myself. The lights will make a big difference and as soon as they are installed I am going to invite some people over for dinner.

Monday, November 02, 2009


I had a lovely weekend. Up early on Saturday to get to the market before heading to the community garden. Picked the last of the tomatoes there then pulled up and chopped up the remaining plants and removed the stakes and string which had been holding them up. Picked the dried parts of another plant as well. I did ask what it was but since I didn't have anything to write with the name didn't stay with me for long. Some kind of an oriental which had a lovely scent to it, a bit citrusy and really good. The master gardener said that we'll harvest the seeds out of those dried pods on one of the days in winter when it might be too cold to work outside. The parts of the plant which weren't dried were chopped right back then. And finally I dug a big hole so that the buckets of jerusalem artichokes packed in sand could be buried. We put the buckets in, covered them with other slightly bigger buckets placed upside down over them and then packed the earth back in around and over them.

Then I had an hour to myself at home before heading out to a Darkness Ritual. This was at the same place I went to the Harvest Thanks Ritual at the end of September. This time the idea was all about accepting the darkness of winter into your life and letting go. It was a far more introspective ritual than the harvest one was, much more meditative. I didn't enjoy it as much and found it difficult to focus really but when trying to concentrate on what it was in my life that I needed to let go off I found myself thinking that it wasn't letting go I needed to do but rather holding on. I was thinking about my oldest sister, who hasn't spoken to me (or most of my other siblings) for about three years now. As is the way things always go in our family there hasn't been any big argument or anything so there's nothing to work on to try and figure out what the matter is. It sort of started when she was going through a hard time after her hubby had been sick and she really just wanted to retreat from the world for a while so we gave her her space as requested but she just got less and less interested in keeping in touch with any of us at all. I persevered for longer than the others, even calling in unexpectedly once but you do get tired of the two minute phone calls which end with a sudden "I have to be somewhere else" and always being the person making contact and when she didn't even bother to show any interest in our youngest sister's wedding I had had enough. I've been through so many stages on this whole roundabout that it was impossible to keep track. I'd decide it was her tough luck and if she wanted to be like that then fine, whatever. Then it'd be her birthday and I'd think well, I'll just ring and say happy birthday. Or I heard her hubby was sick again (and bear in mind, this is a guy who married into my family when I was nine, so he has been around for a long part of my life) and would ring to find out how he was. I don't think I actually managed to speak to her for the last three years or so though. Either no-one or her hubby would answer the phone. But last week I had a really strong compulsion to just phone her and ask if we could start talking again. Don't know where it came from although part of it was because I realised that I hadn't turned my calendar onto October and I know it was because I didn't want to have to think about her birthday (it didn't work and her birthday really preyed on my mind this year, more so than usual). So, I decided that the thing I needed to let go off was all the hurt and anger and grief that this whole situation has caused me and then I just needed to make contact with her. So when I came home after the ritual I gave her a ring, her middle son was just heading out so answered the phone and almost immediately said "hang on, here she is now" (I'll never know whether, if her hubby had answered the phone, she might have realised it was me and made signs at him that she wasn't there, which I suspect happened more than once in the past) and put me on to her. I didn't go with the self-pitying, somewhat dramatic "please can we start talking again" in the end but was able to use halloween as my excuse for ringing and start a conversation by asking if she had dressed up or done up the house or anything. It was a bit of a stilted conversation in a way, felt like it was taking a lot of effort, if you know what I mean, but we did talk (well, mostly I talked) for about twenty minutes which is a good start. I've just decided that I'm going to ring her at least once every two months and talk to her whether she wants it or not and that I am not going to give her the opportunity to turn around in 20 years time and tell me that it was all because I was so wrapped up in my own life that I was never interested in what was happening with her. I'm just going to keep on keeping in touch and she can like it or lump it but if she wants to lump it, she's going to have to say that directly.

There you have it. Despite the fact that I didn't like the ritual as much as the last one, I am glad I went and have signed up for the solstice one in December. Something good (hopefully) came of the whole thing at least. And I do really like the idea of marking the seasons in some way.

Yesterday then I had my fabulous session of trying on clothes I thought would still be too small but weren't. While doing that I cleared a proper space in my wardrobe to store the dried goods I've been trying to stock up on a bit. I also started a spreadsheet to make sure I keep track of exactly what I have and when it's good until. It was good to see it all in one place. I realised that I have plenty of pasta but really should get some more rice and some other pulses as well. I'm going to ask at the fair trade shop if they can buy in a big sack of rice and depending on how much that is, might just buy one big sack and make it into little ones myself.

After doing that I headed out for a walk. Did the same round as before so about two hours of walking. I'll probably do it again another two or three times (maybe with a slightly heavier bag) before looking at a different route.

When I got home I did the few bits of washing up from the day before, put some pasta leftovers covered with cheese into the oven to heat for dinner and chopped up some apples for the dehydrator. Once I had eaten, I set about chopping stuff up to make tomato ketchup and while that was cooking I chopped veg to make soup, using up the curly kale that I had brought home from the garden. I also chopped up veg and tomatoes to make a sauce for lunches during this week. Once the ketchup was made and bottled (only two 120 ml jars, I swear I get less and less out of that recipe every time I make it) I put the onions, courgettes, garlic and tomatoes on to cook with a load of herbs and when that had softened up well I added in some chopped chicken breast. I left it cooking but it never really seemed to start smelling good so I finally dumped a slug of balsamic vinegar and a few crushed dried little chillies into it. It remained uninspiring but I got four good sized portions out of it. What a difference a night makes though. I had the first one for lunch today, just bought a roll to eat it with and it was delicious. I think I'm finally starting to be able to use chillies in cooking properly.

I left some porridge steeping in milk overnight and had the first porridge of the winter for breakfast this morning. Hmmm, I love porridge. Off to put more steeping now for tomorrow and will add a handful of the dried berries from earlier this year. They were a delicious addition this morning.

WW - week 12

1.1kg down today, which is nearly 2.5lbs. Total loss since August = 7.4kg or 16.3lbs.

I decided to give myself something to aim for yesterday by trying on my good hiking trousers and seeing how far I needed to go to fit into them. Haven't worn them for probably two and a half years. And they fit. Actually, they're even a tiny bit loose so I'll have to find the belt now too. I'm sooo pleased. I pulled out a pile of trousers to try on and there's one other pair of nice casual black trousers that fit again as well. And some tracksuit bottoms, which I bought in Aldi once but then couldn't get into when I got them home. New wardrobe without having to spend any money (now)!