Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Onward and Upward

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
baby potatoes

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. 


  1. That's it...start thinking about keeping warm this winter and take it from there.
    That sounds like a lovely supper menu....and why slave when you can produce something good with minimum effort - except for thinking what to offer.

  2. I totally agree with you, Friko. I live for the here and now and plan little in advance, which is the opposite of how I used to be. Oh, there are appointments I must keep and occasions I must attend and I put them all in my iPad calendar and don’t look at them till a reminder comes up the day before. Not really knowing till the last minute saves so much anxiety. I do keep to do lists but I always seem to misplace them.

  3. You need a list to be able to tick some things off and feel a sense of achievement. But don't add any more to the list. Your dinner menu sounds very nice, except for the dessert but that is about my taste, not what you served.

  4. I'm glad you had an enjoyable get together with your friends. And to be honest, I find that keeping things simple these days really does work better for all. As to what needs doing, just take it one step at a time. It'll all get done eventually.

  5. Day by day is the only way to move forward. None of us know what lies immediately ahead whether we are 50 or 90. We must focus on the week ahead and include goals, some fun stuff and people. It is hardest for me to be social. I love the people that I know and I really think a simple meal with the freshest food is all t hat anyone expects. But I do not like small talk and waiting for a conversation to be enjoyable. I am guessing your friends were happy to see you reaching out after the passing of your partner.

  6. It was so much nicer to have my hubby to make all those household decisions with. I had an electrician here today for a bid on a new attic ceiling fan and an exterior electrical outlet in the back of the house near where I aim to have a sump pump, to pump rain water away from the house. So many decisions. By the way, the first bid was $1800 and the second $500. I am liking the second one LOL.

  7. Oh great Friko - what a well set up post ... and so right for you; glad things are happening and you're introducing new ones. Love the lunch ... and yes I've found if I have a sort of smorgasbord of edibles ... mix and match = everyone gets what they like ... and as I bought the stuff ... I enjoy the left overs for the coming days. However I bet they thoroughly enjoyed your choices ... sounds good to me. We all have different opinions ... the way of the world, but we can all enjoy company and have a natter.

    Good having sensible thermostats will be most welcome, as too easy to use water taps ... well done ... and hope you can enjoy some of what's left of summer ... take care - cheers Hilary

  8. Sounds like a fun evening, and good for you. Sorry about your leg but you sound well. I take each day as it comes, make lists and tackle things in order of priority. Best to you and I hope your women friends keep you laughing and well for years to come.

  9. Last week Rick started taking a paint scraper to the cottage windows/shutters and realized the windows need to be reglazed. Which means windows pulled out of their "sockets" and things done I have no idea about. Then painting not just the shutters but the trim and the insides. I am not God's gift to maintenance and I should be. Looks like we'll both be in for some happy homeowner fix-ups.

    I'm delighted you had such a wonderful evening with friends. It sounds like a grand time and the menu delicious. Yes, once we get over the idea we have to make every single thing ourselves, dinners become much more pleasant!

  10. Your dinner for three sounds delicious, entertaining and - dare I say it - useful in that it lead to the three (not very surprising) lessons :-)
    I completely agree with you that asking your son's advice about most of the things mentioned would not be a good idea. I don't know him and how his look at the world differs from yours, but he is your son and not the person to make decisions for you while you are still able-minded.
    How is your garden doing these days?

  11. Ah, Friko! What an enlightening post!

  12. I too do my (variable) best to live in the here and now.
    Your dinner menu sounds absolutely delicious. I hope there were leftovers for you too.
    Hooray for pleasant evenings with friends.

  13. I so enjoyed reading your post, friend Friko … as it is clear that you are starting to live again … So glad for you. So from now on you will be my favourite "Steh Auf Maennchen/ Weibchen Beispiel" … smiles … Wishing you more healing every day, bummed leg and all … smiles... My leg from the recent fall will still be in cast for another 4 weeks, then? weeks of physio, and hopefully back to work by the beginning of November. Not sure how to deal with that kind of grief, Friko, so right now I mostly just sit/ lay there feeling sorry for myself. Oh, well … at least I know that my tear ducts are in good shape … smiles … Anyway, thank you again, hmmm ? Love, cat.

  14. Well ... you've packed a lot of wisdom into this one short post. I might have to memorize it!

  15. Live in the present, remember the past but don't flounder in it, look to the future is my advice to myself. It's good that you're following your own path and finding some enjoyment in life.

  16. Excellent food, excellent conversation, the best sort of evening. I like evenings that just seem to evolve ...

  17. Your supper menu sounded like a good one. As a guest, I would have been very pleased to share your table that evening. -glad to read that you are well.

  18. I would happily come to dinner at your house, no matter the menu. Hats off to you for inviting friends over—an excellent thing to have done and one that I trust you will continue to do. I had a laugh at your longevity appointment, although a friend my own age recently did this to reassure herself before taking on a bigger mortgage. I thought this was wonderfully naive. All in all, an excellent decision to focus on the near future.

  19. Simplicity is good. We live in a world that seems increasingly given to making a production out of everything, but it's not necessary where entertaining, friendship, and relaxation are involved. The last time I had a friend over for dinner, I produced a nice pasta salad, some fresh peaches and strawberries, and a good, crusty bread. With a nice Texas tempranillo, it was perfect -- and I had enough pasta salad left over for a couple of lunches the next week.

    I had the nicest experience tonight. The discussion of the scissor-tailed flycatcher at my place turned to skylarks, and I remembered Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending. I'd not listened to it in ages, and really enjoyed it. I'd never read George Meredith's poem of the same name, either, so I did that. I wonder if you have larks there in your beautiful place in the world. I can imagine them spiraling up above the hills.

  20. Accomplishment of mundane domestic maintenance is a tonic!

  21. Lesson three particularly rings a loud bell with me. It has taken me decades to realize that spinning out a thread from first step to last of all the things that must be addressed, all in the guise of “planning,” only ends in cranking up anxiety, and nothing gets done. One step at a time, that’s the ticket. Or at least that’s my current theory!

  22. I've copied that menu. I've been baffled as to what to serve here in my apartment. Thanks for the hints :)

    Glad to hear your leg is healing nicely.


  23. "be here now." it's been one of the guiding principles of my life. certainly we must have some long term goals but between now and then I try to deal with life on a daily basis. what needs be done today and deal with that. any plans I make for the next few days are always nebulous (unless I'm going on a trip or have an appointment or something). and good for you for having a small dinner party!


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