but not looking solely towards the future rather than being in the here and now. Continual learning is an essential part of life. (I looked up the difference between continual and continuous and have plumped for the former, continuous learning might be too headache-inducing).
Anyway, I had one of those lightbulb moments the other day. I took courage and invited three friends to supper, two came and one cried off; the three of us had a lovely evening. These ladies are easy to get along with, chatty, we had a conversation consisting of personal details, a bit of gossip, a few remarks about the state of the world; a friendly conversation in spite of quite marked differences in opinion. There was the first lesson: you can be on good terms even if you are not in agreement about quite serious matters. I had decided to go easy on the work involved, no hours of preparation, slaving over a hot stove; this was the menu:
cold smoked wafer-thin meats
olives and feta cheese
crusty French bread
ice cold Zinfandel to drink
marinated lemon and herb chicken breast filets
roasted mediterranean vegetables
chocolate fudge brownie and cream
Looked at quickly it seems quite impressive but none of it was work. Shoving a dish of chicken filets and a dish of vegetables in the oven is no work at all. I burnt the fudge round the edges but as we were only three and not four as planned the middle of the dish was sufficient for our appetites. Second lesson: even when half the food served is bought at the deli the meal can still be interesting and good to eat. Something to remember for my next supper, I might even invite a chap or two, although I may have to put more effort into ‘sparkling’ conversation.
At the moment I am rather obsessed with the near future. I made two appointments with my favourite doctor, just to ask him for his educated guess as to my longevity or otherwise. I cancelled both appointments. You can’t just walk into the surgery and demand “how long have I got”; “what plans should I make” ; what hassle can I spare myself?” Solicitors and legal matters, house renovations, finance plans, even holidays. Round and round in my head they go. No longer having the person with whom you used to make decisions near leaves you a bit breathless. I don’t have family to consult - well, I have my son, of course, but I don’t think that I’d find his advice totally acceptable. He is a lovely man but we differ in basic ways of looking at the world.
Apart from the damaged leg I am actually quite well at the moment, there is no reason to think that I might not survive for a good few years yet. Which is more or less what one of my friends said. She sounded quite nonplussed at my dithering about what needs doing. “But you’ve decided to stay in the house,” she said, implying that " there are maintenance jobs pending, there are legal matters after your husband’s death to settle, there are financial provisions to sort out". How right she is.
There is no need for advice on the necessity of doing these jobs, just maybe on how to do them. (Just to clarify: this lady is ninety and has been a very active widow since her husband died some years ago.)
So, lesson three: don’t go round and round in circles, look at the actual, current, situation and start at the beginning, in the here and now, not in a nebulous and possibly frightening future. So today I have booked a plumber to change some taps and sort out my aged radiator thermostat systems.