15 May 2011

One of my beautiful Peonies

Dear Sophisticated Ladies

A delightfully rich week again; full of diversity, variety and a sprinkling tiny feline frolics. I couldn’t help myself, the pink spotted harness, (featured in the last missive), called to me from the miscellaneous items basket in the corner of the kitchen. Perhaps you too have such a receptacle? It must be attractive and add to the decor of the room suitably concealing the less attractive contents.

The end of random tubes from a periodic emptying of one’s hand bag lip salve (various flavours); concealer for those morning’s when the dark circles define the pretence of a good night’s sleep; paper clips; keys for doors in houses you once lived in and can’t part with for some reason; and odd indigestion tablets! The receipts you kept to support a reward scheme; vouchers for computers or gardening tools for schools even though you are childless; the odd glove; cat toys; the handle of a coffee pot; pens that no longer work; an unremarkable shell someone special picked up on a beach walk almost a decade ago; and a Telegraph book of Codeword’s.

Collectively the scraps that form the back drop to our lives in the way the radio, an iPod shuffle list and a DVD collection can be an equally vivid soundscape. Memories are always something that has fascinated me, in particular the way members of the same family can recall the same event quite differently. How often have I done a mental double take when a close blood relative emphatically stamps their fist if their version of events is questioned!

 Curiously my granny who died twenty years ago in 2012 had perfect recall of her childhood events, always accurate and factually precise. Always able to whip a photograph out of the tin box to support her assertion. I was thinking about her today as I had a little turn round the garden to see what damage the wind had done last night. The mini cyclone (or so it sounded) had stripped the white Montana clematis flowers. The central stem end still there but no sign of the petals not even in the flower beds underneath. But the swathes of flowers on the Montana Marjorie, planted in memory of my granny, are steadfast. The complex multilayered flower heads untouched remarkably. I still miss her today. Arabella is a delight in quite a different way as well as a challenge at times. My logic of having one kitten instead of two was in part because she would be forced to bond with me in the absence of another sentient being. That sound’s quite mean and stalkerish when baldly confessed thus! There is of course a flipside to this logic; she also has to develop self reliance as she is often left on her own. And yes it doesn’t impress me when she chooses to sleep on the cushion instead of my knee in the evening! But last night we did watch Vera together – I do love Brenda Blethyn although I wasn’t entirely convinced by her Geordie accent! On such matters I speak with an element of authority having had an affair de Coeur with a Gas man from the region. An on off arrangement that covered a period of almost four years for which the Open University play a not insignificant role. He was a late developer pursuing said route to enlightenment via a late teenage moi. The gentleman (I deliberately abuse the term, ironically of course), shared the same Christian name as my beloved father who remains a true old fashioned gentleman. There the similarities end thankfully! I can see the logic to being attracted to people with the characteristics of our fathers (or our mothers) but nevertheless it isn’t a comfortable feeling; at least not for me. Oh as usual I have given into deviation and slipped down a side road once more (or a back alley more accurately on this occasion).

So back to Arabella and a shared moment with Vera. Tiny puss and I had a traumatic episode in the kitchen earlier in the evening. You may recall two things about the Contemporary Spinster: my poor co-ordination on (many) occasions and a tendency to (attempt to) multitask (I am awfully busy you understand). So on this particular Saturday evening I was rather tired as I had been at a long full on meeting in the morning which as a consequence had meant trying to pack a full domestic weekend day into a short afternoon. One thing lead to another with time not so much dripping as gushing ever rapidly down the plughole of the day.

I have put on a pot of coffee, my favourite Berlotti stove top coffee pot (one of four), and am making an omelette in the special pan of which I have written many times. The inch and a bit thick oak butchers block worktop, next to the sink. Is heaving with fruit waiting to be chopped. Two pineapples (one large, one GIANT), four ripe mangoes, three grapefruit, two boxes of red seedless grapes (on offer hence the excess packaging; apologies planet) and two bags of carrots. The carrots are crunchy and for eating raw with a satisfying menacing CRUNCH)!

 The mini green food waste caddy (not bin) is yawning expectantly in the midst of this Morrison harvest alongside a glass kilner style jar. Bella is attempting a delicate mince amongst the obstacles. When she puts her head inside the sizeable jar I giggle brimming with amusement as I lurch over to stop her getting further inside!

I turn round to attend to the omelette adding cheese to the egg mixture in the pan. The careful refreshment paring of the golden lump is complete i.e. I have meticulously removed the mould! Whilst my attention is otherwise diverted Mini Minx knocks the glass vessel off the work surface and it smashes spectacularly on the ceramic tiled floor.

Of course I only have socks on! Not even wearing an apron! Kitty puss is shaking and thankfully still on the work top although is attempting to jump off. I scoop her up whilst trying to avoid standing in the glass – fat chance as it’s everywhere and in every size imaginable. Looking hurriedly for something to distract her with I can only find a peach and a grape! Bella runs after the grape and I have less than a minute to prioritise what to do next.

The smoke alarm is going off because the omelette is ever so slightly smoking. Negotiating the glass I remove the battery from the alarm and turn on the cooker hood – often don’t use it as I can’t hear the radio over it. Bella is running back minus the grape (or the peach). I see an envelope and screw it up, toss it in her direction and reach into the cupboard for the dust pan and brush. The coffee is now coming up and the omelette is at risk of really burning. Conclude the best thing is to turn everything off and try to get rid of the glass; can this have all come from one jar? It wasn’t even one of the giant ones.

 Realise that Bella’s food will all have to be thrown away in case it’s got glass in it. The brushing movement catches the cats eyes (ha ha) and she starts to come down the steps. There is only one thing for it she’s going to have to be shut in the hall way until the glass is gone. So evil mummy puts shaken 10 week old baby alone in the dark hall way at the bottom of the stairs. I felt sooo guilty!

 Eventually the glass is all in the kitchen sink and fresh feline sustenance has been prepared. By this time Bella is scratching the door and crying! She needs a cuddle I think but she dashes passed me as I open the door. By this time I am frazzled and no longer hungry.

But finish the omelette I will! Bella it turns out like’s cheese so she is bribed with cheddar after I’ve found her about to jump into a sink brimming with broken glass! The preparations over I have wiped out the special pan, one does not wash it, and it is cooling on the stove top. Minx jumps onto the perching stool in front of the oven and decides to help clean the pan. I am memorised by the vision of Bella standing in the pan licking delicately round the edge; it will be washed this time.

By the time we finally sit down to watch Vera we are both exhausted. I stroke her tiny forehead as she curls up on my chest and smile. I recall the previous evening when I was on my way out to my book club, the back of my trouser leg caught my eye and I look more closely. The medium slate smart casual trousers are spattered with blood where Bella has run up the backs of my legs! The careful ironing that morning was rather a waste of time for a single day’s wear.

I wonder does our June Salon guest have similar stories to share. The elegance of an international harpist must surely be a little ruffled on occasions. Catrin Finch is an intriguing young extremely talented musician with a university department named after her. I do hope you will be available to join me on the 27 June – it’s the first time I’ll be navigating the ship alone so please come along and support the Sophisticated Spinster!

In exhausted sophistication

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