Monday, 3 May 2021

Bank Holiday Monday 3rd May - The predawn of the new era?

 I had my second covid vaccination last Tuesday - how pleasant it was, standing idly in the car park in the warm sunshine, waving to friends further down the queue... everyone keeping their distance, oh well, a bit of a hard stare at the couple behind me; they had a tendency to shuffle a little closer to the person in front but they sort of 'came to' and realized what they were doing...

'This is going to be fine, like the last one', I thought as later that evening I could barely feel the vaccination spot on my arm. Oh ho ho and no no. Nothing serious, but as the next day wore on I began to wear out - eventually rescheduling the last piano lesson of the evening to Friday. On Thursday morning I cancelled that evening's teaching, and spent another day sitting about, tottering around the garden for fresh air, knitting, listening to old episodes of 'The Kitchen Cabinet' on BBCSounds. On Friday I taught the one rescheduled lesson (she is an exam candidate and I didn't want to leave her for a fortnight) and found myself breaking into a sweat - what!? - and promptly cancelled the three lessons I usually teach on Saturday mornings. 

Now it's Monday, a week later, and I am feeling 'normal' again - what passes for 'normal' these days - for a day or so. Just as well, as I have a chatty social zoom and three challenging piano lessons to teach this afternoon. That's as good a test of the level of my recovery as any I can think of.

Challenging? One is a hard-working advanced student who is learning a Beethoven sonata which I used to be able to play, the other two are younger, and require a different set of skills to make the lesson go well...

Monday morning is the day for recycling the coffee pods.

 It seems like such a small task; but also creates a lot of dirty bowls and mess. Clockwise from left; emptied pods, coffee grounds, the contraption that does the work (plastic thing with green top) and last few pods waiting to be emptied. Back in the days of the cafetiere we just swilled out the dregs (making sure they were at least cool if not cold) into the nearest flowerbed. Pre-cafetiere we just chucked the whole paper filter into the compost. 

Now here's what I do;

I put the pod onto the green thing, press down with the dark grey lid which inverts the pod so the grounds go into the base of the green thing, put the emptied pod into a tray for rinsing, and every dozen pods empty the grounds into another tray. Got that? Then I rinse all the pods and put them in the general recycling, pour the rinse water through a sieve lined with a piece of kitchen paper to collect the grounds and prevent them from blocking our idiosyncratic plumbing arrangements. 

Nearly done now.

Take the grounds and the soggy piece of kitchen paper to the compost bin, and finally wash everything else up.

There. It now takes two paragraphs instead of two sentences to deal with the coffee grounds. 

Have I saved energy? It's hard to know. I can't wait until I can get back to John Lewis and just dump all the used pods into their collection point for Nespresso to deal with.

I have used up some of my energy, though - it is a little bit of a work out, pushing down on the pods to expel the grounds.

(I should add that this is over a week's worth for two people - we try and limit ourselves to three coffees per day, although some days do require a second 'second' cup of coffee late morning, or even a third 'third' cup of coffee after lunch).  

'Pre dawn of the new era' is the title of this post - and in a sense, the coffee palaver, and possible end of it, is part of that sense of expectation. I am being strict with myself about waiting for three weeks before I start going out and about, visiting shops, going to a cafe, walking around a National Trust garden. By my calculations, assuming the covid infection numbers continue to fall, this 'pre-dawn' has only two more weeks to run, and sometime after 18th May I can consider venturing out into the big wide world again.


Monday, 26 April 2021

Monday 26th April - Mostly about our cats

 Just thought I'd let you know in advance about the cat 'events' so you can skip this post - although there is some knitting, and some gardening, and the usual trivial day-to-day rambling...   

Leo and McCavity are the wrong side of about 18 years old now, and feeling their age. Some cats get fatter with old age - ours are going thin and bony. I thought McCavity was looking a bit cold the other evening, and when I stroked her, she felt cold as well. So I wrapped her up in the blanket I started knitting for her this time last year;

I think she appreciated the attention;

But she wasn't so happy when the blanket came too when it was time to go to bed (that's her bed in the bottom of the kitchen trolley behind her)

Today we discovered Leo perched on top of this cushion, on the floor. I'm not sure how this happened; the cushion is usually on top of the wicker basket behind her, which is one of my various hidey holes for storing wool.

 She wasn't very happy about the situation and very pleased to have everything returned to normal. 

This isn't 'normal' either - somehow she has climbed inside the two layers of the cushion...

Leo had an unscheduled adventure this afternoon; she was pestering to have the kitchen door opened so she could go upstairs, not something we encourage because her personal hygiene isn't what it used to be, but I was busy making cake and getting fed up with her meowling.

Himself went to see what she was up to; and found himself doing a cat-rescue. Leo can climb up the ladder to get onto the high sleeper bed (which number 1 son still sleeps in when he comes to stay - 'something will have to be done about that' but we've been saying that for nearly a decade now). However, Leo was stranded, as the windowsill, which is her method of getting down, is now completely covered with my pelargoniums (what used to be called geraniums). Himself was greeted with glad cried, and more meowls of encouragement when he cleared the plants to create sufficient space for Leo to get down.

I went up to assess the state of the bedroom; we were in the early stages of clearing, decluttering, taking stuff to dump and recycle and charity shops after years of just closing the door on it all, when lockdown started last March. We had also just finished clearing my god-mother's house - we still have bags and boxes waiting to be rehomed, and as for the resolution of taking two bags of stuff per month to charity shops - forget it. Another couple of years of just shutting the door on it all looks likely. If anyone comes to stay we still have the tent and the airbeds.

I have taken cuttings of the pelagonigeraniums; one website instructs people to take them in the Autumn, and the other says 'April is the best time'. The bathroom windowsill is now full. That shouldn't incommode Leo - her only use for the bathroom is to demand that the cold tap for the bath be set to a gentle trickle in the mornings while I brush my teeth, partly for entertainment, partly to enjoy drinking from it. (I once set the hot tap going by accident; she was most indignant.)

Today's piano teaching was a hit and miss affair (it was last Monday too). The first student has got all kinds of GCSE stuff over-filling her life and had arranged to miss her lesson this week. The second one (a young child) hid on the windowsill of his bedroom and wouldn't come out - we have rescheduled for tomorrow - but the third student was there, seated, all ready with her music on the stand, and, once we had got her sound working, we had a good lesson.

I'm making steady progress on reviving a Schubert Impromptu I learned over 40 years ago, and a Mozart sonata 331 from 30 years ago, and learning a Bartok rondo, new to me but fun to play. All set for the current Grade 8 syllabus. All I have to do is persuade the student that these would be really good choices...

I also sowed some Marigold seeds today, before lunch. I had a look at them this afternoon but they haven't come up yet. I'll keep you posted... 

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Wednesday 21st April 2021 - Family, friends, and cream teas

 We did have a cream tea on Monday with the family after all. 

 I made plain scones and cheese'n'onion scones and melting moments biscuits, and daughter brought 'pink cake' and Kinder Eggs (which strictly speaking, don't feature in the usual Sunday Tea but provided plenty of amusement).

The cream? A friend who lives 'round the corner'  read my Saturday blog post and turned up on Sunday morning with two tubs of proper Cornish Clotted Cream, as sold by our wonderful local shop. Oh me oh my, I had forgotten how close to Paradise you can be when having clotted cream and jam scones and tea with family all together on a sunny day.

We finished up the second pot with more scones and jam and cream on Tuesday afternoon with the lovely friends who brought the cream on Sunday. 

To visit Paradise twice in one week is a bit special.

Tuesday afternoon's piano teaching became a bit chaotic as I discovered that my perfectly organised new timetable wasn't. Perfectly organised, that is. Thankfully everyone is very accommodating, and so with three phone calls and a couple of texts I was able to un-double-book the first lesson, and reschedule Thursdays to make everything work again. It is a bit of a win, because although we will miss 'Richard Osmans House of Games' on Thursday' - boo - we will be able to watch it on Tuesdays - hurray.

I came down to start typing up the notes that I needed to send out after yesterday's lessons, to find the cat asleep on my chair hidden under the table.

So, rather than cause any disturbance, I pulled over the 'sacrificial stool' and balanced my books and lap top at the end of the table

Of course the cat had relocated herself somewhere else. That is just how things go. 'Sacrificial Stool'? I hear you ask? It is a very cheap IKEA stool; the one item of furniture that the cats were allowed to sharpen their claws upon. It now has an extremely textured finish to the legs 

but still has a function as it is a good height for smaller pupils when they were having lessons here (with a cushion to hide the scratches). The crossbars meant that they had somewhere to put their feet, which helped them to sit up in a balanced posture at the piano.

Right - I'm clock-watching - eight minutes until I start teaching - time to go.