Happy Accidents and Meaningful Coincidences

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




Filed under animals/pets, cookery/recipes, family, food, great days, humour, life/style, love, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life

46 responses to “Happy Accidents and Meaningful Coincidences

  1. What a wonderful day! “There is always room for coincidence.” Alva Noto.


  2. Wow, what a fascinating person! I’d never heard of him before, but good Wiki stood by me – thank you for that little detour!


  3. Times like that don’t happen everyday. I know you enjoyed it. It’s always great fun to laugh with loved ones.



  4. As ever, I love reading your stories. I love the quotation at the end and the tasty sounding stuffing but best of all I love the warmth in your stories , of your old friends and synchronicity and, even more your complicity with your daughter and the love that is implicit therein.
    I will indeed be thinking of you when you start to play musical tables. We’ve decided we want to be rid of our( very beautiful) dark, old oak dining furniture but the upheaval is off putting!
    Serendipity, one of my favourite words, is a beautiful thing. 🙂


    • And what a lovely warm comment, thank you, while you’re so busy in Spain… am I right?
      Lovely to know that you enjoyed my meanderings about life – dining tables… they matter don’t they! all that laughter and nurturing round the table……. hope you’re having a serendipitious time away!!!


      • We love the times around the dining table too.
        In fact, I had more free time staying with D and A in Spain than I ever do at home as the Senegalese culture means I’m not allowed to do much! 🙂


  5. Lesley Davies

    Hi valerie

    Loved below blog – sounds like you had wonderful day, so thrilled. xxx



  6. Wonderful Post. Such happiness shared in reading about the delights and companionship between you and your daughter especially…written in a way that I could picture each moment vividly and beautifully! Thank you… Love, Linda


  7. As always such honesty and warmth in your writing. I really enjoyed this 🙂


    • Thank you so much for your generous and appreciative comment, Gabriela – this is one of the gifts of blogging,- to receive real understanding about one’s writing. Thank you again (:)
      PS have tried to do one of those yellow smiling thingies – hope it gets to you!!!!


  8. I always love your stories. Your vocabulary adds some very charming words I don’t hear much — i.e., nattering and knob of butter. It’s so good to come away from a story feeling warm and fuzzy inside.


  9. Alice

    I have the same recipe for lemon cake! Heehee


  10. I love day’s like that with my daughter(s). It always leaves my heart full. Another wonderful post! Thank you!



  11. The description of your relationship with your daughter is so beautiful! What a thing to cherish. 🙂


  12. Your post makes me smile Valerie. What a lovely day! there is not enough laughter in this world, so thank you for sharing some of it with us. I am cooking a chicken for friends this week, I will try the stuffing, the cream, garlic and mushrooms sound good, in Normandy we add a little bit of calvados too! :0) and we substitute the mushrooms for apples.


    • Hello Veronique, lovely to hear from you, hope your lovely quiet times, and gentle meetings with gentle friends are still with you!
      A French friend gave me the mushroom, garlic and cream recipe, which also has parsley in it, years ago. Since then, I’ve played around with it, using it instead of gravy, and adding a crumbled bouillon cube to give the cream more savour. I rather like the idea of a little calavados…
      I’ve tried that with apples and sausages and potatoes all cooked together, and my recipe for that also contained a little mustard and some grated nutmeg. Do you do that?


  13. It IS so lovely to share laughs with your daughter. While my mother and I have a good relationship, and I’m blessed to still have her around, the relationship with my daughter has many more belly laughs with it! xoM


    • Lovely to hear from you Margarita – I rather envy you your mother, however she comes, never having had one myself!
      So yes, I find it really precious to be a mother myself.


      • I’m sorry you didn’t experience being a daughter, Valerie. Having both experiences, I appreciate just how special each role is…and, as a mother, I very much appreciate how much my mother loves me and my siblings! xoM


  14. I feel like I have just been given a warm fuzzy reading this lovely story of family fun. Nothing artificial…real honest relationships that bring out the best in each other. I’m also left exhausted with all the moving that must be done. 🙂


    • Hello Lynne, lovely to hear from you. And lovely to have your warm fuzzies too! So glad you enjoyed it, it’s one of the gifts of blogging to receive perceptive understanding and appreciation like yours, thank you.


  15. I’ve just smiled all the way through this post, how lovely and thank you for sharing and the smiles !
    And so true about great stuffing, nothing beats homemade 🙂


  16. Pat

    Sounds like a lovely time.
    I’m a great believer in serendipity and synchronicity. Go with the flow, and life treats you well.
    A simply delightful day simply told. Thank you for sharing. 🙂


    • Pat, thank you so much for your comments, you’re so right aout life treating you well when you just accept what comes. If ;I’ve already replied, don’t think I’ve gone mad, but checking through recent posts, and your lovely friendly comments, there are no replies from me, though I remember writing them. I hope you got them, even if they’re not recorded here, but if you didn’t, – many regrets, some gremlin is coming between you and me. I really appreciate your spontaneous remarks..


      • Pat

        There is definitely a gremlin on here sometimes. I will check my spam box. Have had some really nice comments popped in there from people who follow, so not sure what that’s about. Someone pinged me the other day and I didn’t know for days – it was in the spam box. Why? Oh, well – just technology I suppose.


  17. Amy

    The serendipity and synchronicity are wonderfully expressed through your stories of friend gathering and complicit laughter with your daughter. Enjoyed the reading. Thank you, Valerie. 🙂


  18. I don’t believe in coincidence. All those quinky-dinks are planned…I’m the one not in on the plan because I’d constantly be trying to improve it. Love your quotes.


  19. You and your daughter are lucky to have each other. What a smile filled post..don’t know if you got my reply to your comment on my blog so I’ll repeat here that a friend of mine loves your posts (she is not a blogger) but doesn’t comment, so I wanted you to know this. Leanne


    • Yes, I did find your comment, thank you Leanne, and was very touched and pleased of course, that your friend enjoyed my pieces. Please thank her for me.
      Yes, I am lucky to have my daughter, and we have our MOMENTS… as I’m sure everyone does! But not having had a mother myself I tend to take it all very seriously!!!
      Hope things are going well with you, so glad you’re enjoying my book. love V


      • Valerie, we all have our moments with our children, believe me. That’s reality and that’s parenting….well in my house with 5 children and step parenting, it’s certainly the case. Not having had a mother and worse, being abandoned by your mother seems to have put such extra love and attentiveness into your parenting. I so admire you for that. Thank you for your comments…I appreciate them so much…I appreciate you. All goes well here. Off to visit my friend tomorrow who has just had a hip replacement…quite young but she had suffered from childhood arthritis.She is a very dear friend who actually was boss many moons ago. I’m delighted because she is doing really well and recovering quickly. Regards Leanne PS sometimes I get your posts and book mixed up and go to discuss something I read there……silly me


  20. This post made me so happy. I can’t wait for those days with my girls and I miss my mom!!! I am so glad you found my blog and I could find yours!


  21. There is indeed so much joy in laughing with the ones you love. Even in the blogosphere, the smiles and laughter abound…imagine what it would be like if we all had a bloggers reunion! What a celebration that would be!


  22. This was a good one!


  23. Lindsey

    Valerie, so glad I found you! I consider you one of the people I call “insta-friends”–I have been blessed with the gift of friendship, and all of my life I have had the joy of meeting people that I instantly connect with. It is if I meet them and my soul recognizes them at once and just says, “oh, THERE you are!” Love your writing and agree there is absolutely nothing better in this world than spending time and laughing with the ones you love! Cheers, Lindsey


  24. LIndsay, what a lovely message, and I’m delighted to be an insta-friend! So glad you enjoyed the post, and look forward to connecting more, warm wishes, Valerie


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s