It hardly seems possible that it’s the last day of the month already, and so the end of JusJoJan for this year… I’ve not managed to post every day this month but I’ve done OK, I’ve managed to write something most days, so I’m happy enough with what I’ve achieved… 🙂
The Glow of Gardening
I must admit I’ve never been a gym bunny, I’m just not into treadmills and rowing machines and static cycles, or the kind of en masse exercise classes where everyone does aerobics or hot yoga or zumba together deliberately working up a sweat.
I’m not a naturally sporty girl, either, no running or gymnastics or hockey or netball or badminton or table tennis for me. I do like walking and swimming, although nowadays I have to be careful not to overdo anything with my arthritic hip. I have to do enough to maintain strength in my muscles but not so much that I put any further stress onto my crumbling joint, so it’s just a case of trying to get the balance right between doing and not doing the things I like that keep me active.
I really do enjoy gardening though, it’s such a good way for me to get a reasonably relaxing workout in the fresh air and I usually come in afterwards with a healthy glow in my cheeks, more from satisfaction than exertion… 🙂
I don’t know why I get depressed. Or at least, I don’t always know why I get depressed.
Sometimes it’s a reaction to something – like right now, I’ve recently been made redundant and it’s left me feeling very vulnerable and a bit lost, so perhaps it’s not too surprising I’m struggling a bit emotionally at the moment, up and down in mood, frustrated and fearful and tearful at the drop of a hat.
But at other times there’s no real rhyme nor reason to it, yet I start to feel the familiar tensions and anxieties that are the precursor to a full-blown depressive episode and so I try harder to force my everyday life activities to over-ride that restless black void hovering so close on the periphery of my vision.
Sometimes that avoidance strategy works, my mood starts to lift before I descend into the darkness and all is well, but at other times I realise with sadness I’m already there, being sucked down silently into the welcoming blackness in a well-oiled elevator with no emergency stop button.
Once I’m at the bottom, I stop fighting it and just throw in the towel. The panic subsides, a lost cause in a chasm of despair. Like being sucked into emotional quicksand I just keep emotionally still, force myself to relax as best I can, let it all flow under me and over me and all around me and envelop me.
I am surrounded in thick black fog and yet I can still breathe, so I just do that – I breathe. I keep calm and hold my heart safe and instinctively feel my way through, going about the barest minimum of everyday activities of life as best I can, until eventually the darkness recedes and the light returns and I find myself free again, until the next time…
In any home, two of the most important amenities to be found are the bathroom and the kitchen.
In our home, we knew when we moved in three and a half years ago that at some point, both the master bathroom and kitchen would have to be not only updated but replaced. But, oh, how difficult it is to decide exactly what to do with them! We look at kitchen designs and bathroom designs and just when I think we might have made a decision on what may be best, we change our minds again. That level of renovation and remodeling is just so expensive it’s really important to make the right choice – the right style, the right colour, the right feel…
Neither room currently works as well as we would like, but neither doesn’t work, either, so in one sense there’s no rush, but in another way we’re in danger of having got so used to it as it is, we almost don’t notice the inconvenience any more… almost… but not quite… 🙂
Family memories seem to be order of the day today – the JusJoJan prompt word is Family and Amanda at Something to Ponder About asks us about memories of our grandparents, so it seems sensible to cover both at once…
My paternal grandparents lived on a coastal farm set high on the cliffs on the North-East coast of Scotland, just South of Aberdeen. It was mainly an arable farm but they kept a couple of cows for milk and chickens for eggs, and always kept a vegetable garden. The busy square-roomed farmhouse kitchen was large and multi-purposed, and as I picture it in my mind’s eye I see it from the simplistic perspective of childhood.
The door was in the top right hand corner, and on your right as you entered the kitchen was a huge carved wooden sideboard filled with boundless treasures, or so it seemed at the time. On the wall facing you was the fire – an old range when I was younger, later replaced with a ‘modern’ tiled fireplace as I grew older. In the right-hand corner corner was the hot water tank housed in a slatted-shelf airing cupboard, heated by the back boiler behind the fire. In front of the fire were the tired old armchairs where my grandparents sat in the evenings, although not so much during the day, constantly busy as they were. There was a small black and white TV tucked in to the left-hand corner, behind my grandmother’s chair, but I honestly don’t remember it being on much.
Along the left hand wall sat a solidly huge extending kitchen dining table, with heavy wooden carved legs and an almost-out-of-place cream formica-style top. I know it was an extending table because of the seams in the surface but I never saw it other than fully opened. There were mis-matched chairs pushed in all around the table, maybe nine in place constantly, but often seating twelve at a push. On the back wall was the big stone sink with draining board, a standard electric cooker, a small fridge and the kitchen ‘press’ – a 1950s-style larder cupboard with a hinged pull-down door creating an extra work surface as needed. Inside the press sat a large white enamel bread bin with blue trim.
The pantry was a separate deep-shelved small storage room off the hallway, and it was in this room external to the kitchen that the big, bulky pots and pans and suchlike were stored, and the milk-house (an outside stone-built cool-room close to the back door) was where meat and dairy were traditionally stored and where jams and jellies were cooled and set. I remember the old wooden butter churn being kept in the milk-house, but by the time I was born butter was regularly made using the much-prized electric bowl mixer that was stored in the pantry until needed. The milk was still left to settle on the marble work top of the milk-house, though, with the cream being skimmed off carefully as it separated.
So this was the big old kitchen in which I learned to cook – my mum has never enjoyed cooking, for her it was always a chore, but my paternal grandmother was a typical farmer’s wife and an excellent cook, and it was from her I learned to make the hearty soups and stews and everyday cakes and bakes that traditionally fed a farming family back in the day. My dad remembers his mum making oatcakes on the old range when he was a boy, but by the time the grandchildren came along oatcakes were generally bought in. Pancakes, however, were made almost daily, a staple sweet treat. Not thin crepes, but thick, fluffy Scotch pancakes, lined up in rows and cooled in a folded tea-towel before being transferred to the table.
One of my dad’s cousins regularly made a variety of cheeses, so oatcakes and home-made cheese (plus home-made butter) were the usual mid-meal snack eaten hungrily around the table, along with the home-made pancakes dripped with thick, sticky golden syrup. Meals I particularly remember eating there include boiled eggs in egg cups dipped with toast ‘soldiers’, mince and tatties and peas, smoked kippers, boiled crabs collected fresh from the fishermen, tasty cauliflower cheese with baked ham. Soup and pudding was a regular on the menu, too – a big bowl of thick soup with hunks of bread, followed by crumble and custard was a surprisingly filling meal without a ‘main’ course in between.
My dad was one of six children, so I grew up with myriad cousins and aunts and uncles and my grandparents’ farmhouse kitchen is the space where I picture us all in various combinations of family groupings at different times of the day and year, preparing meals, eating meals, and the inevitable clearing up afterwards. Another of dad’s cousins regularly avoided the washing up by always going to the toilet immediately after each meal, and always showing surprise on her return that the dishes had all been done already. This little trick was known within the family as ‘doing a (family member’s name)’ although we always had to remember not to say it when any of her immediate family were present!
I later realised as an adult just how hard a life it must have been for my grandmother, bringing up a large family as she did with minimal mod cons at the time, but for me as a child it was simply the perfect family environment, always warm and welcoming, always busy and bustling, always a place I loved to be. And I realise in my heart of hearts that’s the feeling I want people to get in my kitchen when they come to visit me. We don’t live in a farmhouse, or on a farm, but I try to make sure there’s still a warm welcome and wholesome, homely food on offer for all everyone we invite across our threshold… 🙂
In an ideal world I would have written this post yesterday instead of leaving it until today, but then it probably wouldn’t have been a one-liner… 🙂
What can I say… I haven’t picked up my paintbrush all winter….
Looking back the last water-colour painting I attempted was in early November. I don’t really know why I’m not feeling particularly creative just now, sometimes I think about getting all my painting stuff out again but for some reason I keep putting it off.
I suppose it’ll come to me again when I’m ready? I hope so, anyway…
Every winter I close myself in
Wrapped in layers keep cosy within
Mugs of steaming hot tea
Heat the lifeblood in me
Warm my heart until spring can begin
JusJoJan: Count on it
Hmmm… If I sit here long enough I’m sure I’ll think of something to write for today’s prompt, you can count on it…
This is a phantom post…It’s not real, just a figment of your imagination…