Yep, with exquisite timing, tomorrow (28th June) is mine and Jenny’s Wedding Anniversary! 33 years wed, and proud of it. This auspicious day will be followed by my birthday on 30th June. That will be my 56th, which doesn’t sound much, considering I feel more like 156! LOL! Jenny, being the utterly wonderful person that she is, and always loving, braved a journey into the town centre – a place we detest visiting – to obtain my present (which is for both events!): a wireless mini-keyboard and mouse set from Maplins. It’s fantastic. No more trailing cables meaning I have to quickly set them aside for people to be able to get past me. They are excellent quality, too – with a protective membrane that lies on top of the keyboard and a tiny usb ‘dongle’ which can be fitted into the mouse for transport, so it doesn’t get lost. But there’s a huge downside! Because the ink is extremely low in our printer – I can’t print anything out. That means that, not only have I been able to buy Jenny an anniversary gift – I’ve also failed, for the first time in years, to make her a card. I am extremely unhappy on both counts. I hate myself for it, and for the health problems that have robbed me of the ability to do what’s not only right, but what has always been a delight.
You read that right! This is a message from the ‘hood – fatherhood, in fact. Oh come on! I’m well past the middle of my fifties – no way would I know where to start talking about any other kind of ‘hood!
Here in the UK, it was Fathers Day. Now, that’s a funny kind of ‘special day’. I mean Mothers Day is simply a rebranding of the Christian ‘Mothering Sunday’. That’s very definitely an ‘occasion’. It’s a celebration of Christ’s mother, Mary, and all mothers as an extension of that. I’m afraid that Christ’s poor old dad, Joseph, doesn’t seem to have rated similar treatment. Naturally, that didn’t stop Business from making sure that they invented a matching ‘day’ – there was a good profit to be made from it, after all.
Now, don’t get me wrong! I have absolutely no objection to Fathers Day, any more than I object to Mothers Day. As an agnostic, the religious origins of Mothers Day have less significance to me, so the lack of the same for Fathers Day is no big deal. In fact, I very much approve of both days! Good parents should be celebrated. I feel for those who were not blessed with them. Happily, I have to say that my parents were excellent and I owe them a debt beyond any ability to repay. The only way I could possibly hope to go some way to paying that debt was to try to be as good a father as I was able. Only my children can determine whether I succeeded.
I was contemplating putting a dedication to my father in one of my books. I really think it would be appropriate, and long overdue. The problem I hit was a question of which book. I’ve already got a dedication in the book I’m writing at the moment, and which is close to completion, and that is such that I would be guilt ridden if I changed it! I guess it can go in a future book, of course. I know that I really must do it, whatever happens.
I owe so much to my father. He taught me a great deal and has always been there when needed. He would be now, but for his bad health. But the important thing is that he gave me gifts you can’t buy! He taught me about nature, walking silently in even dense woodlands, so that wild animals could be seen. He taught me caring and honesty, loyalty and integrity. He gave a love of books and reading by example, being a voracious reader himself. He even had a go at writing but couldn’t devote himself to it with other things that were important to him. He taught me not to judge by the standards of others, but by my own conscience, which is why I have always detested any kind of prejudice. He taught me to hate hypocrisy and to always keep an open mind on matters of faith. He taught me, above all else, that being a father, a Dad, is so very, very much more than being a mother’s spouse! When I was little, he had to work 12 hour shifts, but whenever he wasn’t working, he was always ready to do the unexpected, from waking us up to watch a cartoon on TV to getting us into the car and going off to discover new places. He demanded little of us in return: respect, honesty and consideration. And he knew that those things come most easily when they have been earned! But, in truth, the most precious thing he taught us was to be the best parents we possibly could be!
I am proud to share the echoes of my father’s wisdom as they travel down the years with me. If I have achieved even a fraction of what he achieved, as a father, with my own children, then I am content.
Until the right book comes along and deserves a dedication:
To my father, Ken, who gave me everything!
Summer, Summer, Wherefore Art Thou Summer?
I know I have a habit of falling asleep at odd times, mainly through either medications taken or excessive pain levels, but did I miss something? I thought this was June? You know, that very nice month that blazes into Summer. Instead, the skies have been grey for ages, the maximum temperature each day is a bad joke, and there’s strong winds and/or rain many days. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the script for the seasons of the year says. or have we got a new script writer? Perhaps it’s in the hands of the writers of a certain BBC soap opera notorious for depressing its actors even faster than it does its viewers! I demand a return to the correct seasonal weather, with immediate effect. If this doesn’t happen (Government espionage systems take note) we’ll have to place the blame on the Government and have a revolution!
Seeking Inspiration: Recipes?
There comes a time in everybody’s life when endless repetitions of the same basic meals becomes just a little tedious. Now, I’m talking as somebody who eats because it’s kind of necessary to continued living. There are very few foods that make me enthusiastic about eating. Most of those are desserts, especially certain fruit based ones. At the moment, I’ve even reached a point where I’m struggling to be interested in sandwiches, let alone full meals! I just can’t think of anything appetising, and that leads to more waste. I mean, i have a small appetite at best, so there’s usually something left. When I’m as I am right now, the leftovers quantity can more than double. Considering that I’m still trying to regain weight lost, this is not a happy situation.
Now, let me detail the stumbling blocks to creating meals for me. I am an extremely ‘picky’ eater. I’m a vegetarian – who doesn’t like the majority of vegetables! Quorn™ is pure poison to me, especially if eaten in any significant quantity. Tofu is an unbearably obnoxious chewy, glutinous lump that takes on flavouring less fast than a lump of rock! I can take good quality TVP (textured vegetable protein), as long as it hasn’t been turned into something like chilli or other highly spiced food. Garlic and olive oil will lay me out for at least a week, in agony! I can tolerate only the minute traces of garlic found in things like brown table sauce. I can take eggs, cheese, dairy in general. Note that when I say that I’m a vegetarian that means I don’t eat red meat, white meat, poultry, game, fish, seafood, or the extracts and by-products of these. Oh yes, and I can eat small amounts of nuts but things like ‘nutloaf’ are inviting disaster. I have an acute sense of taste, so things need to genuinely taste good. So-called ‘acquired tastes’ are out! They’re just unpleasantly flavoured things that you can get used to sufficiently to tolerate the flavour.
What do I eat? Cheese & onion dishes, like quiche, ‘rolls’, ‘pasties’ and similar. Egg dishes – fried egg, cheese omelette (never plan!) and cheesy scrambled egg (again, never plain!) – very rarely poached or boiled egg. Lots of different potato dishes, including adding potato to the recipes for things like cheese & onion ‘roll’ and ‘pasties’, cheese & potato pie (preferably baked), and such. Chips (’fries’ over there in the USA) and sauté potatoes. Mashed, boiled or (infrequently) baked potato. Fried smashed-up boiled/mashed potato- sometimes with additions. Baked beans (especially refried so they go really sticky) and peas (garden or marrowfat but not ‘mushy’). Fried chopped tinned tomatoes (especially with brown table sauce added – fairly liberally). On odd occasions, tinned spaghetti in tomato sauce (hoops but straight might do). Golden vegetable rice, but not other forms of rice (milk rice pudding as an extreme rarity, for dessert). Macaroni cheese (or macaroni pudding for dessert, made with evaporated milk).
The vast majority of vegetarian ‘ready meals’ and pre-made products are, to me, vile. I never touch them unless forced to do so. For example, I’d rather have homemade Veggie sausages made using the proprietary sausage mixes than the pre-made sausages that become iron on the outside, have inedible ends and are often either too spicy or just taste foul. In fact, I like fairly ‘plain’ food, English food! I don’t take well to exotic dishes, including things like curry or stir-fry.
Over the years, I’ve created a few recipes for myself, but some of those were based on a time when I had a larger appetite and our kids were still at home and happy to have the same things, from time to time. While Jenny may enjoy some Veggie dishes, that’s not often enough to make the larger quantity recipes worthwhile. Unfortunately, by the nature of how some of the constituents involved, making scaled down versions is virtually impossible. So I’ve been trying to concoct some new recipes. The problem is: I’m rapidly running out of ideas for things I can feel confident about liking…
Challenging, or what?