End of the season

I started season of mellow fruitfulness mainly as a writing exercise, to get myself typing instead of thinking and to allow other people to read what I wrote. When I started I set myself a few rules – don’t talk about having ME/CFS, don’t set posting targets and never apologise for not posting for ages.

I’ve stuck to the last one, I think, and I didn’t set any public goals, though I did set some private ones from time to time. Writing about my experience of having ME/CFS crept in as it became clear that the hopes of recovery that I had when I started were not going to be fulfilled.

It’s been fun, a good learning experience and I’ve “met” some lovely people along the way. But (you could see the “but” coming couldn’t you?) it’s now time to wrap it up, to say a big thank you to followers, commenters and supporters, and to move on to something else.

I had intended to keep going with this blog until I had a follow-on lined up, but over the last couple of weeks I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to do a bit of space clearing before I start whatever comes next. I have several ideas, but I need some time to play around with them to see what emerges.

Feeling that I “ought” to write a post on here when I’m no longer mentally engaged with the project causes a small, but unnecessary drain on my creative energy. I mention it just in case anyone reading is mulling over a similar decision – if whatever it is has run it’s course, let it go and stop the energy drain!

Thank you all again for sharing this venture with me and best wishes to you all.


Teabread


I’m still somewhat in the doldrums health-wise and all I can do about that is rest a lot and be patient. But starting a fresh new year and a visit from my brother has, thankfully, given my spirits a bit of a lift. So, in between long rests (when I mentally plan things I haven’t a hope of achieving!), I’ve been joining the rest of the world in doing a bit of space-clearing.

January is traditionally a month for eating from the store-cupboards, sorting out what needs to be used up and chucking out the lost causes. Since I started on (relatively) low-carb eating a few things have languished in the cupboards including some odds and ends of dried fruit. I did consider giving the tired old raisins etc to the birds, but having a) reached my target weight (yay!) and b) not had any Christmas cake or mince pies during the festive season I decided to have a go at making a gluten-free teabread.

My original recipe (which I’ve had since my teens) is as follows:

3/4pt cold tea
7oz soft brown sugar
12oz mixed dried fruit
10oz SR flour
1 beaten egg

Put cold tea, sugar and dried fruit in a bowl and leave to soak overnight. Stir in flour and beaten egg to make a smooth sloppy mixture.
Pour mixture into a greased and lined 8sq” cafe tin or 2lb loaf tin.
Bake at 180C for approx 1 hour (until skewer comes out clean).

Heaven know how long it is since I last used the recipe, but my mind boggled at the ingredients – SEVEN ounces of sugar?! As well as all that dried fruit? Yukkity yuk! Gluten-free flours are sweeter than wheat too, which would have made the end result inedible as far as I was concerned, so I left the sugar out. I also added an extra egg hoping it would reduce the GL a bit.

Actual ingredients:

large mugful of strong cold redbush tea
300g (approx) dried fruit and mixed peel
80g ground almonds
150g buckwheat flour
50g rice flour
30g chopped walnuts (because they needed using up too)
2 medium eggs
splash of lemon juice

The fruit hadn’t taken up all the tea after soaking overnight, so I spooned off some of the excess liquid on the basis that I could add it back if necessary, but wouldn’t be able to extract it of the mix was too runny. This turned out to be a Good Idea especially with the extra egg.

The result is very good indeed, though still on the sweet side for my taste. After several experiments to establish the optimum slice to butter ratio, the loaf been portioned and frozen for times when I crave a sweet carby treat. It’s amazing how much my appetite for sweet things has diminished lately. I’m not sure if it’s a feature of getting older or simply because I eat so little sugar nowadays that my tastebuds have become more sensitive to sweetness.

Do you have a favorite teabread recipe?


Summer review


Summer is fading fast into autumn and this very beautiful first day of September seems as good a day as any to end my “summer holiday” and start a new phase. I haven’t been away from home, my break from routine has been more about shifting the emphasis of my day to day activities a bit. This has freed up time to deal with some things I’ve had on my “to do” list, but not felt I had time or energy to deal with. So what did I actually do?

I sorted through nearly forty years worth of photographic prints and threw about three quarters of them away. As a by-product of what I though was purely an admin task, my perspective of my past shifted into a new and much kinder light. An unexpected, but very uplifting and empowering experience.

I replaced my “office” chair, so I no longer get back-ache from sitting at the computer. I only mildly castisgated myself for not doing that sooner…

I changed my eating habits using Mark Sisson’s guidelines and FitDay.com. My intention was to lose weight, which is happening nice and steadily with no feelings of deprivation. An unexpected and very welcome side effect has been a small, but noticeable, improvement in my general energy levels. And I’m feeling a pleasant uplift in my spirits as I move steadily towards my goal and the flab fades away. I’ll post about what I eat at greater length another time.

I got my grubby carpets cleaned. This involved moving a lot of “stuff” to reveal said carpets for cleaning. Much was thrown away or taken to the charity shop and proper homes were found for various things that had been popped into corners temporarily three years ago. The carpets are still ugly and not my choice, but they are clean and I’ve no longer got “must do something about those bloody carpets” hovering at the back of my mind all the time.

I took a bootful of beyond-redemption tat to the local tip. It’s a job I anticipate with dread, but since I last went the very unpleasant local tip has been transformed into a super-whizzo Household Recycling and Waste Facility and it was almost a pleasure to visit it. No more tip-dread for me – next time I’ll make time to have a squint round the shop where they sell off item that are unwanted by their previous owner, but still in good condition.

As this is starting to be unbrief, I’ll just add that I started tweeting (see sidebar) and I’ll tell you about my plans for the next few months another day…

P.S. The picture is a view from the tip – I liked the contrast with the industrial estate behind me.


Changes in the garden this year

I had quite a clear out in the garden this spring. I found a nice young man to come and clear the rubbish from the bottom of the plot and trim the big viburnum back. S did a brilliant job wielding the chainsaw while I directed operations. I had to nip back to the house periodically to check how it looked – nicely shaped, well thinned, but still blocking the view of the house that backs onto mine.

S was totally sympathetic to what I wanted and we worked well together, so for me it was a bit like making a sculpture by remote control – great fun! For S it was a lot of hard work, but he seemed to enjoy it and is obviously very fit. I did take before and after photos, but managed to lose the before versions, making the after a bit pointless.

I now have  an area which I’m hoping to make into a sort of mini woodland glade with useful plants such as ramsons and wild strawberries as well as decorative plants like foxgloves, bluebells and violets. There’s much more light coming through the viburnum now and the loganberry and blackberry bushes are growing with renewed vigour. As is the bindweed…

I also got rid of a number of sad old pot-bound shrubs which couldn’t be rehomed and now have a tidier “patio” with fewer tubs to water. I find it quite hard to discard plants I’ve nurtured for many years, but there comes a time when they are so far past their best that it’s pointless hanging on to them. I’ve made cuttings from some special favourites, so they live on in more comfortable quarters. Note to self: Don’t succumb to the curvy delights of pot-bellied terracotta urns which won’t release their occupants for repotting without being broken!


Recovering hoardaholic

It was a miserable cold wet day yesterday so I abandoned my plan to do things in the garden and had another decluttering session. Shredding the only photograph I had of a man I was (unrequitedly) in love with nearly 25 years ago wasn’t that painful really!

It’s in there with a load of old correspondence that I’ll soon forget I ever had, won’t miss and no longer have to find houseroom for.

It occurred to me as the shredder whirred that one of the reasons that I hang onto “stuff” is simply because I can. You can’t keep a person if they want to (or have to) go from your life, but you can keep an object that reminds you of them.

It’s nice to look back fondly and indulge in a bit of nostalgia when an old picture turns up in a box of “stuff’, but there comes a time when things have to go. In this case realising we are now nearly twice as old as we were when we were friends did the trick.

What was that quote I mentioned a while back? Oh yes:

“A lot of clutter is a lack of acceptance that a moment has passed.”
Peter Walsh

If I’m honest, that particular moment never even really took place and I’ve wasted quite a bit of time musing on “What might have been”… Ouch! Not a very comfortable admission, but at least I’ve done it now instead of leaving the stuff for my heirs to look at and think “WTF did she keep that for?”

I feel mildly liberated – this decluttering lark is quite a learning process. It seems to go in stages, I peel off a layer of “stuff”, then pause for a while to assimilate what I’ve learnt before peeling off the next layer. Some people make a grand gesture of getting rid of all their non-essential possessions at once, but this slow unwrapping suits me for now. I wonder what I’ll find inside?

Even as I wrote that last paragraph I learnt something else – I’m no longer thinking in terms of losing things/letting go of the past, but of gain/revelation/looking forward. Interesting.


Thursday

Today was a good day:

The weather was sunny. A welcome respite from damp greyness.
I didn’t have a migraine (most of yesterday was a write-off).
I gave a friend my old Olympus compact camera. She gave me some money for it, which wasn’t at all necessary, but was very nice of her.
I delivered a big bag of clothes and a small bag of bric-a-brac to the CS. And didn’t buy anything (though I did look for a set of 3mm DPNs).
I was given a lovely big rhubarb crown in a pot by another kind friend.
I made a cake. And ate several slices.
My brother’s job interview went well (fingers crossed – he’ll hear on Monday).
I had egg and chips and spring greens for tea. Which was cheap and delicious.
I’ve knitted another inch of sock.
I saw a new bird in the garden – a dunnock, I think.


WIP – tweed bag fail

I’ve finished making the tweed bag I started before Christmas and although it would serve its purpose as a tote for the junk I lug around with me, it’s just not “right”. I know I’ll never use it, so it’s gone straight in the charity shop pile.

I’m a bit disappointed that it didn’t turn out as I hoped, but it was an experiment using (mostly) recycled materials, so the main loss was my time. At least I gave it a go and you learn as much, if not more, from failures as successes.

I must find myself a new bag soon though – my old one is embarrassingly shabby and has been for some time!