That’s a longer way of saying serendipity and synchronicity – both events being a part of this weekend.
It started rather well, in a delicious new restaurant on Auckland Harbour’s edge, at a birthday party for a very old friend. Gathered together for her seventieth birthday were old school friends, bridesmaids, long-standing friends like me, and of course family and children and grandchildren gathered in from around the globe.
I sat with two other old friends, by the windows which flowed straight out onto the concourse where people dis-embarked from the ferries from the islands and from the harbour crossings, so that we felt part of the stream of this life too.
As I was telling the girls (a euphemism) about an amazing story of a springer spaniel who roamed Dartmoor with a bottle of milk in his mouth to feed the various orphaned lambs, another ferry docked. Pictures of this mothering spaniel showed her as a brown and white one. And as I described her, a couple walked past from the ferry, being towed along by a brown and white springer spaniel, a breed rarely seen here!
Well, one synchronicity down! The friend I was talking to always says you’re on track when synchronicities happen in your life, so I felt a great sense of well-being at this little flag from the universe, telling me, I assumed, that I’d got it all together for the moment, at any rate…
Serendipity, the happy accident next day wasn’t quite an accident, but an unexpected joy. My busy busy daughter rang to say they were coming up to do some housekeeping on their holiday house next door, and they’d come and have dinner with us. I had no fatted calf to kill, but a deep frozen organic corn fed chicken to defrost seemed a good substitute.
More serendipity, she came over and spent the afternoon with me too. Our conversations are a series of interruptions: “did you see ‘ – yes, but what did you think he? – well, he should have – yes, but when he – I suppose so, but she shouldn’t have- well, wouldn’t you – true. What about? Yes, I thought so too -you should have heard – really, did he refuse – no, when he offered – he didn’t! I thought – I know, so did I….”
Neither my husband, or her husband, have any idea what we’re talking about, but we know exactly. The only confusion was at the dinner table when she referred to “her ex,” and I thought she meant the long ago ex-husband of a friend, whereas she was referring to a recent ex-boyfriend. That snafoo ironed out, we were off again.
Apart from nattering, we played around on Trademe, and I ended up thinking it would be worthwhile getting rid of my ancient and uncomfortable ladder back dining chairs, and exchanging them for some comfortable modern ladder back chairs. That decided, we began to mull over the attractive dining table that came with them, and with a bit of prodding from her like: “well, I’d want my room to work, rather than look charming”, I decided to sell the elegant round table in the window, move my present dining table there to use as a desk, and paint the incoming dining table white to match everything else.
We clicked the Buy Now button, and now I’m shuddering at the huge upheaval of moving every stick of furniture and every piece of china, heaps of books, side tables with books and lamps and knick-knacks piled on them, a heavy antique bench and all the chairs, in order to get one table out, and another in!
My husband emerged from his study to find us up to our ears in re-organisation. Refreshed and invigorated! My daughter went off next door to tidy up for dinner, while I basted the chicken and made the cream, garlic and mushroom sauce instead of gravy. Dinner was good, chicken perfectly cooked, the stuffing divine, and minted new potatoes, the first spring asparagus, paired with roasted pumpkin and parsnips, meant that I had two very satisfied men at the table.
Come the pudding, my daughter had said she’d do it, so she arrived with the first strawberries of the season, whipped cream, sweet grapes, and a moist lemon cake from our favourite bakery – the only cake, we both agree, that we’d ever buy.
And then occurred one of those moments that I treasure – complicit laughter with my daughter. The old chap complimented her on the lemon cake, asking if she’d made it, and jokingly she replied yes, thinking he’d know she hadn’t. But his response showed us he believed her. Eugenie and I then went into over-drive at his expense.
We gave them clues, but they didn’t catch on. I said conversationally to her that I always found that the base of cardboard and silver paper made a difference to the texture when baking, to which she added her own refinement, while we laughed ourselves silly, developing the theme to heights of ridiculous nonsense , and the hapless men had no idea what was so funny. Trivial, silly, but oh the joy of laughing with the ones you love.
Serendipity indeed, and I still feel warm with it a day later as I tell you this. So a happy week to you all, too. Musical tables begins three days from now, when the carrier has fitted them into his schedule. Think of me with compassion.
Food for Threadbare Gourmets
The stuffing for the chicken is easy but delicious, quite unlike those awful packets and the sort in basted chickens from the supermarket. It doesn’t go into a hard ball, but is moist and melting.
It must be good quality bread. I always use stale sour dough bread, but a friend made a lovely stuffing once with very grainy whole meal bread and apricots. But I love the classic sage and onion.
So grate two to three cups of stale sour dough into a bowl. Chop very finely and fry a large onion. Chop half a dozen mushrooms finely, and add to the onion when it’s nearly cooked, plus a big knob of butter. Meanwhile chop a handful of fresh sage leaves and plenty of fresh parsley. I also add a generous sprinkling of dried sage, to give it a bit of extra kick. Add salt and pepper and enough cold water to make it moist enough to push inside the chicken cavity. And that’s it.
Food for Thought
A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror.
Ken Keyes Jr 1921 – 1995 Personal growth author and lecturer