May yours be even better than good.
Whilst flipping through a 1950’s copy of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, I came across this cracking gem.
I’m not sure which of the concepts snared my attention first. Was it the glaring absence of ‘mindfulness’ (that lady is definitely not living in the moment) or was it the odd collection of pastimes that she defined as ‘pleasant’? I mean, does the mental picture of striking your partner across the head with a golf club make the vacuuming easier? Do thoughts of being caught in a gale force wind on a yacht get the washing dry any faster? And really, visions of reclining on sand in formal dress would not prompt me to scrub any harder. Perhaps though, images of dancing with your lover while your husband looks on enviously, could make the ironing less tedious….
However, after spending a relatively extended period of time on this planet, I have come to understand that chores are what they are, and the sooner (meaning younger) we come to grips with this, the more internally settled we become. (And that philosophy forms the basis of why the dependents in this household are destined to become indentured servants.)
The plan is, rather than wistful thoughts of gaming parlours or train surfing, their focus will be on the spokes of the wheel, and should any notions of nightclubs or bars creep in, they will be rapidly suppressed by the passion to remove every leaf from an outdoor crevice.
And hopefully by the time they reach a decent age, any dream of a casino or like gambling den will be fiercely overshadowed by the love of freshly cut grass.
All flippancy aside, what I have learnt is that the dread and reluctance toward a chore is inversely proportional to the personal reward gained at its completion. To stand back and admire a neatly clipped garden bed, a freshly made bed or a tidied out cupboard, remarkably outweighs the initial abhorrence of the prospect. And what I do know for sure, is that there are opportunities to experience this pleasure time and time again.
Postscript: There’s a verandah that needs sweeping, so I’m off to harbor me some pleasant ones……
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Depending upon how fortunate you have been across the years, you will have, positioned securely in the background of your life, a handful of souls who simply by the knowledge of their existence, will provide a level of psychological solidarity to your life that cannot be purchased or generated overnight. The significance of these people has been shaped through time and experience and they carry a history of you within them. Various life stages may mean that for extended periods we may see little of them, but neither the passage of time nor geographical distance will weaken the connective threadwork that has been firmly reinforced through hours of conversation, shared moments and candid disclosure. I am referring of course, to old friends.
It is so easy to fall prey to the sheer volume of ‘to dos’, that in a blink turn your days into weeks, months and sometimes years. The difficulty lies in recognising this so that before long you have a thousand loads of laundry done, one hundred kilometres of floor vacuumed, five hundred kilograms of vegetables peeled and one meaningful conversation with a friend. While I’m not advocating stained garb, a filthy house or packaged meals, I’m just being time-keeper, signalling that enough time has elapsed in one life station and it’s time to move to the next.
What prompts you to stare down the predatory time-eating beast clothed in schedules, chores and responsibilities may be a phone reminder, a calendar jotting or a strategically placed photograph. Whatever method you choose, embrace it, strut past this brute and seek out your friend. No doubt you will find them where you last left them, now filled with many new stories to relate and genuine interest absorb all of yours.
There are very few days that cannot be salvaged with a generous serving of grilled cheese on toast and a cup of tea – preferably consumed in bed.
I realise statements like these catalyse nutritional authorities to lunge for their soap boxes, but I’m certain physicians of the psyche would applaud the mental payoffs gained from a good crunch of toasted cheese and an absorbing read.
Be it bitter weather, late arrival or hectic schedule, there are times where no straight thinking soul would consider assembling pots, pans and utensils. These are the junctures in life when a knife and a plate is all that is needed to see one happily sated. Feed this to tired children, antsy teenagers or to a drop-ins-for-coffee and witness storm clouds transform to rainbows.
With the encyclopedic range of cheeses and breads at our disposal, this delicious snack/meal can be as sophisticated or restrained as you like. In typical P and S fashion, mine comprises crusty white and tasty. With grill set on high, the kettle boiling and the anticipation of quality time spent with some engaging text, what hours ago seemed like an insurmountable day, suddenly appears golden.
As we prepare to touch down into another weekend filled with ‘projects’ to tick off, ‘engagements’ to keep and ‘leisure activities’ to cover, don’t overlook the spine that supports all of this activity – rest.
In an age where we can artificially illuminate our lives beyond moonrise, we skew our natural sleep patterns by adhering to odd work shift hours, scheduling recreational pursuits well into the night and being lured by the temptation of digital entertainment, long after our bodies would benefit from simply being tucked into the sheets. Sleep, once a respected commodity, has now been relegated to the backstalls of our life choices.
However, short of returning to the Paleolithic age, we are not about to be forcibly blacked out from 7pm to 7am in the near future (mind you, with all of the current hype that surrounds the Paleo Diet it may not be surprising to see an emergence of a ‘darkness lifestyle trend’) so it’s nice to factor it in for yourself, where possible.
We have fauna in our midst that achieve this brilliantly.
Having said this, I cannot kip for all the tea in China, so rest defined by me, will be a quiet flip of a magazine or the week-end paper – enough time to turn a barking session into a casual shoulder shrug as I catch a glimpse of a teenage bedroom on my way down the hallway.
Finding a patch of peace somewhere, for a short space, is often all it takes to turn an Everest climb of an afternoon ahead, into a pleasant stroll among wild flowers. Even if sleep eludes, or may interfere with your night pattern, time out from the motion of life is a good thing – for us all.
Postscript: I really need to take a leaf out of the two and four-legged creatures under my roof – they all have the art perfected.
There will be a break in proceedings whilst some holiday camping takes place.
There has been plenty of opportunity to consider 2013 posts. Look forward to sharing them with you.
These beans are reaching their potential – how are you doing?
Steadfastly focused on reaching the top of the frame, these climber beans have been progressively wrapping their tendrils from rung to rung, whilst fanning out their leaves to extract as much energy from the sun as they possibly can to fuel the task. This week they finally made it, but the journey has not been without its challenges.
Recent days have served them random temperature spikes, sudden downpours and blustery winds. On those days their desire to let go and sink back onto the earth was strong – but they held their line. It was during these arduous times that their community came to the rescue – the broad beans providing a windbreak, the frame supported their limbs and the zucchini, absorbing the excess rainfall, put a halt to root rot.
Bolstered by the neighborly support, the beans forged on, weaving and winding their way upward. At this point, buoyed with confidence, they believed they were immortal and could climb forever. Until this:
Their dewy, pristine leaves began to dapple – eyelets and peepholes appearing where a ravenous caterpillar’s appetite had paid visit.
The beans did not falter, however. Secure in the knowledge that appearances are not everything – despite external imperfection, a productive life can still be lead.
The beans are flowering now and soon we will reap their fruit.
The coming year will not always be flawless or without hurdle, but during these times remember the beans. Maintain the climb, ignore the tattered bits, reach out to your community and surge to the top of your frame – and beyond.
There aren’t many places more grounding than a vegetable plot.
To potter amongst the growth, inspecting leaves for bugs and looking for signs of a budding flower – or better – a spent flower giving life to its fruit, is a most pleasant way of expending time. A quick morning reconnaissance with a cup of coffee in hand, can become an hour in what seems like no time.
A vegetable patch, aside from the obvious benefits of bountiful produce, provides a place of introspection and digestion of all that has taken place in your busy world prior. With only snails and the occasional thrip to hear your thoughts, your mind is given licence to open itself to broader pastures, normally fenced off by the chatter of indoor living. New resolve, clarification and acceptance are often arrived at as a tomato branch is secured to a stake or withered foliage is removed to make way for new. The patch is a place to reassess, formulate and commit to future steps.
Gardening expertise comes not from books, a degree or birthrite but by simply – gardening. The former will certainly put the icing on your earthy cake but the latter: turning over soil, planting and watering provides the knowledge that embeds itself and becomes second nature – over time.
Start small. Mark out an area to dig and fertilise. Mine is located several steps from the kitchen door, to ensure quick retrieval of herbs in mid-stir or a greater likelihood of a visit when the weather becomes inclement. Choose a few vegetables that appeal and some herbs for instant gratification. No doubt some will flourish, others will die or be feasted upon by invertebrates before you, but inevitably your place of inner sanctum has been established.
Postscript: and your horticultural career has begun.