Wednesday, October 18, 2017

God, the prat and the banana cakes

(I am cheating today and putting the same post up on this blog and my slimming blog. Or rather my 'attempt to slim' blog.)

banana cakes
I made banana cakes for Zac's last night. Banana cakes have two things going for them:
a) they use up over-ripe bananas;
b) I hate them so won't be tempted to eat them.

I haven't made anything with bananas for thirty-two years. That's a very precise time I hear you saying. Well, yes, because I have good - or perhaps bad - reason to remember it clearly.

Younger Son was a tiny baby and I had made some banana flapjacks. I ate one even though I wasn't keen on anything flavoured with banana - even though I adore bananas in themselves, as long as they're only just ripe. It was ... alright but I didn't eat any more of them.

Then, that very same day, I was struck down by a bout of vertigo; for a week I was in bed with a spinning head. But before the spinning started I was sick and all I could taste as I vomited was banana cake. Oh yucky.

Hence my refusal to eat cooked bananas again.

It seems other people don't have my horror though as they went down very well and, indeed, people said they were yummy.

Zac's bible study went well too. I had prepared very thoroughly, people joined in the discussions and all in all it was a peaceful gathering. We've had a number of these now where our more, um, disruptive guests have been absent. I can't help feeling we must be due for an eruption.

I was praying about the study on my way to Zac's. I was chatting away nicely to God when suddenly I said, 'Oh, you prat!' I had to quickly explain to God that it wasn't him I was addressing in that rude manner but the driver of the big car coming towards me taking up three-quarters of the narrow road. He didn't seem to mind. (God not the driver who was oblivious.)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mysterious happenings in the woods

Somebody - not me this time - has been having fun.

But this one puzzled me.
Fortunately I had an instant answer from a passing student. He is doing his dissertation on how birds feed, from which angles they approach their food, and he was leaving these tasty bites up even when he wasn't there to get the birds used to the target.

And as for me, well, I wanted to prove how hard it is to catch a falling leaf ...

Music: Lucky Day by RogerThat

Saturday, October 14, 2017

First annual Libraries Week

Flu jab this morning though it seems like it happened days ago. Last year I was invited in error and we had to think up an excuse so they could still do it - I was classed as a carer for looking after my grandchildren - but this year, as it's the year in which I will be sixty-five, I really am entitled to it. Surprisingly sharp needle.

Followed by a flying visit to Homebase to pick up some paint charts: we are about to redecorate our bedroom. Two things to note regarding that sentence: I say 'we' but I mean Husband although I make the important decisions like what colour; and the fact that having a colour chart doesn't necessarily mean the bedroom will get painted in the next few weeks or even this year. It's been on the autumn to-do list for a few years now.

From there to Sainsburys and to the - best bit - library. Today is the last day of Libraries Week and spotting a frame just begging to be used - even though it was partly hidden on a window sill behind a table - I took the opportunity.
first libraries week
I do love libraries. 

Home for lunch - yet more carrot and leek soup. Good news: there's only one bowlful left. Then off to Caswell to join Daughter and family on the beach. The tide was in so there wasn't much beach and what there was was highly populated both with people and jellyfish. 

Much discussion over what was what. I am fairly certain this isn't a Portuguese man o'war.

This on the other hand probably is although it's a lot smaller than I expected.

And this was a beautiful stone I found ... that GrandDaughter1 then buried never to be seen again. Stone not granddaughter.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Better than me?

Grammar nerd
My last post leads me nicely into this one as I included the phrase '.... my children are all smarter than I am ...'

I was writing that post in my head when walking George and I began an argument with myself - with George originally but he lost interest very quickly - over whether it should be 'smarter than me' or 'smarter than I'. In my post I got round the problem by writing 'smarter than I am' but
I think smarter than me sounds better. But does it matter? 

There was only one thing to do: I consulted Mr Fowler and his handy guide to English usage. (I wouldn't trust the internet on an important topic like this.)

According to Mr Fowler it depends whether you're using 'than' as a conjunction or a preposition. If as a conjunction then it's I as you are 'implying the ellipsis of am after I'.
To wit, if you write 'smarter than I' you're pretending 'am' is there.

If than is being used as a preposition then it's 'smarter than me'. Mr Fowler agrees this is less formal but perfectly acceptable. 

Mr Fowler goes on to say you can avoid the problem by using a reflexive pronoun, in this case, 'smarter than myself', and I'm sure you'll agree with me and the good gentleman when we say this is 'less than satisfactory.'

In answer to the question I posed earlier - does it matter? - by now you've probably come to the conclusion you don't care whether it does or not. But being a college-educated woman I am happy.

They'll learn much more than I'll ever know

Listening to Louis Armstrong on the radio the other day set me thinking.

"I hear babies cry, I watch then grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know"

Will they?

I'm not sure. Yes, there is more to know these days. More has been discovered, invented, learned; teaching methods have changed and hopefully improved; and the internet is a wonderful resource for research. But some things will stay the same: the maths I learned at school still applies today.

But what I think is different is the way children are living. Today's children don't have the freedom we had to play outside - not that they'd want to when they can play on their tablets. (Or so the media tells me.) So it's possible that children could miss out on a lot, most importantly, the development of an enquiring mind.

We take our grandchildren to the woods and the beaches. We encourage them to jump in puddles, climb on trees, pick up things, both living and non-, we ask questions, we answer questions, we definitely favour getting dirty and trying. 

Schools do a wonderful job but one teacher shared between twenty to thirty children can't possibly devote as much time to a rather boring piece of stick that a grandparent can. 'It's not a stick! It's a conductor's baton: listen to the music! It's a magic wand - I can make you disappear! It's a .. light sabre? Okay.'

So I wonder if they will know more than we do. They'll have the chance and the resources to find out and learn more but will they have the curiosity, the enquiring mind, the inventor's creativity?

Having said that I know my children are all smarter than I am but I like to think that's because we gave them a good start. And Husband's brains.

Death cleaning

Uncle downsized first from a large house in Nottingham to a cottage in Mumbles and then to an apartment so he had already disposed of a lot of life's clutter before he died. I had comparatively little to sort and throw but it did make me aware of all the junk in my own home. So since then I've tried to begin de-cluttering or death cleaning as the Swedes prefer to think of it. 

Broken irreparable Fitbit
I'd taken a short break but today I began again with a vengeance. I began with my Fitbit. Broken, apparently irreparable and useless - my Fitbit not me - I was still reluctant to throw it out. But I did. 

And I followed it with my cow. It's been on my bookshelf in pieces since two Christmases ago when a grandchild dropped it. I was living with the hope that, one day, Husband would turn up with the superglue and all would be well in bovine world once more. Looking at it today I realised it's in an awful lot of pieces. I think it would take a master potter to mend this broken cow.

I also discovered evidence of my slimming history.

Apparently I joined Weightwatchers in 1998. I say 'apparently' because it has my name on it but I have no memory of it. It didn't last long: I weighed 9st 12lbs on joining and 9st 11 and a half lbs on leaving five weeks later.

I tried again more successfully in 2011, this time with Rosemary Conley.

It's fascinating what you forget.

Mindless drivel

Lunch today: carrot and leek soup (again - the benefit/disadvantage of making a big panful), cucumber, melon and two hard-boiled eggs (I really needed something substantial). Odd but at least I'm sated. Bored but replete.

* * * * * *

I've noticed that the only time I am really tempted to say, 'Oh for f's sake!' is in bible study. Not sure what this says about me.

* * * * * *

I shouldn't be sitting here writing drivel. It would be much more beneficial to my surroundings and thus to me if I got up and did ... something.

I'll do it now in a minute.

Trying to be a politically correct granny

Fisher Price dolls houseGrandDaughter2 came to play on Wednesday morning. We keep a selection of toys under the table in the lounge with easy access for such occasions. the toys are either from charity shops or from my own children's growing-up. Some last better than others obviously but Fisher Price is a reliable favourite.

The dolls' house may be a bit tatty but all the grandchildren love it and have played with it. The people have got a bit mixed up: we seem to have a construction worker and the circus ring leader living with the family now but that's okay; we're very in favour of communal housing.

So, anyway, we were playing with the people. I set the chairs and table out for dinner and GrandDaughter2 added the people so we ended up with this arrangement.

'There's Mummy coming home from the shops with food to get dinner for Daddy and Baby,' I said. And then I checked myself. 'No, I mean, there's Mummy coming home from work ready to sit down to dinner that Daddy's cooked for her.'

It's difficult. I was a stay-at-home mother and my grandchildren all benefit from the same with their mums so the thing they, indeed we are most used to is the idea of mummy shopping and cooking and daddy going out to work and I reflect that in my words.

But I realise I must be careful not to set any constraints on my grandchildren, not to make them assume that's the norm and what they should be expected to do, especially the girls I suppose.

Fortunately both my sons are keen cooks and do a lot of the cooking in the home and Elder Son cooks with his boys. (I'm sure Younger Son will too but at 13 months GrandSon4 is bit little to be let loose in the kitchen yet. Although considering his great enthusiasm for food I think they might have a job keeping him out of there when he's a bit older.)

So I shall try. I suspect that GrandDaughter1 may be the one to keep me in line anyway. She is a very independent and original thinker and at seven is already refusing to be like everyone else.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

I passed!

With flying colours! Even though they asked me lots of questions.

My ECG showed my heart was fine, my blood pressure was perfect and all my answers were excellent. And a chat with the anaesthetist reassured me, after Husband had scared me by suggesting that if they did keyhole surgery I wouldn't be unconscious. 'I shall have to warn them,' I'd told him, 'that I may be conscious at the start of the operation but very soon I won't be.' After all, I've fainted in blood tests, the optician's and even hospital visiting. And I've been banned from giving blood. I applied to join the International Fainting Goat Association but they turned me down on the grounds that I'm not a goat.

Fainting Goat Association

Now I just have to wait for a date, which could be in two weeks or two months. I thought about asking if I could wait until after Christmas as a) I've joined Slimming World and paid up front; and b) I have an exercise class until Christmas. But I guess it's better to get it over and done with. And it may not happen for months anyway.

No pics please

I'm at hospital this afternoon for a pre-op assessment. I've never had one before so I don't know what it involves.

I hope they won't look me up and down and say, 'Oh, no, I don't think so.'

Or that it's not like an interview where they ask me lots of questions. I've never been successful at interviews.

Well, I'll find out soon and don't worry: I'll be sure to update you later! I know you can't wait ...

P.S. Just looked on google for a suitable image. Only succeeded in terrifying myself.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

An update on my non-stick pans - because I know you really want to hear more

Walking in the woods it occurred to me that if flaky non-stick pans are dangerous I should get rid of both of the old ones. Husband had already ordered me to dispose of one. 'If you're getting a new one, throw away an old one,' a theory he is less than adept at sticking to himself I should add. But the cupboard is getting full so it makes sense.

But if I get rid of the other one too then I can get a new big non-non-stick pan! Win, win. Like this one.
Le Creuset frying pan stainless steel
Which I discover is a Le Creuset stainless steel pan and costs £125. Big sigh.

A rolling stone gathers no Moss

I felt like moss in the woods. I'll write that again correctly. I felt like Moss in the woods. You see people say these things don't matter but they obviously do. Moss and Moss are completely different.

Anyway as I was saying, in the woods a man over-took us and, as he passed, we exchanged pleasantries.
'Lovely day,' he said,
'Yes, beautiful.'
'A bit better than last week,' he continued as he sped past.
'Oh gosh yes, much better.'

Did you spot it? My last statement: I have absolutely no idea what the weather was like last weekend. And I immediately thought of Moss.

Let me tell you a bit about Moss. He is a character, played by Richard Ayoade, from a television sitcom called The IT Crowd. Moss and Roy are computer nerds who work in the basement of a large company. They are managed - loosely by Jen who knows nothing about IT - and the comedy's strength I think lies in the two main characters.

A typical - and very clever - nerd, Moss lives at home with his mum and never has a girlfriend but sometimes he likes to pretend that he's just one of the lads, so when the mailman comes in Moss engages him in football banter, fed to him by a computer program. (It would probably be an app on his phone these days.) Somehow as a result of sharing this with Roy they end up being invited to a football match with the lads.

To stick or not to stick?

tefal non-stick pan
That is the question I should have asked before going shopping.

I have only very recently embraced non-stick pans.

Yes, I know, a bit behind the times, but I do like a pan you can scrub with a bit of wire wool. But having somehow acquired two non-stick frying pans (old - possibly from children student years and uncovered in the attic clear-out?) I can see the benefits of having an unbroken fried egg. Or rather, being able to avoid the stress of worrying about whether I can get the egg out of the pan without breaking it.

When I was in the outlet centre the other day I browsed kitchen shops and had definite pan envy. But the choice! How was I to decide between the stainless steel, ceramic and cast iron? And as the prices ranged from £40 - £ever-such-a-lot, I decided to come home and investigate before buying.

So I came home and promptly forgot about it. 

Until I was in Sainsburys yesterday when I went mad and just bought one. As I am notoriously bad at looking after my equipment I went for a £16 Tefal one.

And now, having this minute googled non-stick I find the advice is either buy a cheap one (good) or preferably don't bother as the Tefal coating contains something nasty that has been shown to cause cancer (bad).

I think that's only if it flakes off so perhaps I'll keep this pan for eggs and pancake and omelettes. And I was thought I was doing so well ...

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Augustine, Ignatius and George Bush

Mary at Shorty PJs is an excellent writer and a wise woman. in her most recent post she writes about when it's right to pray and when it's right to do more. I was reminded of the old saying, 'Pray as if all depends on God; work as though it all depends on you.'

Its etymology, if that's the right word, is doubtful. Some attribute it Augustine, others to Ignatius. And many people have tried to make it their own over the years including George Bush. Whoever said it, it's true.

But sometimes we try to cure too many of the world's ills on our own. If that's your problem then heed these words from Ignatius - who sounds like a very wise man - '... must make up his mind to do what he can, without afflicting himself if he cannot do all that he wishes. You must have patience and not think that God our Lord requires what man cannot accomplish.
'There is no need to wear yourself out, but make a competent and sufficient effort, and leave the rest to him who can do all he pleases.'