Nothing Is Trivial

It’s ten thirty in the morning, and already I feel as though I’ve lived through several days. I awoke to my usual pattern, get up and put the kettle on to take a tray of tea back to bed. While the kettle’s boiling, I pull back the curtains and check the stats and read any messages. Then back to bed with the tea tray, followed by meditation, and getting myself going.

Before breakfast I looked at the e-mails, and answered a query to the printer about the cover of a new book. Packed up some other books to send to a library supplier, and calculated that I had to get some more muesli for the old chap’s breakfast, and some undercoat to start the process of painting the new table and chairs – every-one is appalled by this vandalism – but I always have white rooms, and there’s no way I’m going to live with an expanse of heavy dark wood.

It got so late that I decided to skip breakfast, and go straight into the next door big village to get all the posting parcels and shopping done first thing, and then leave the day free for checking proofs, getting on with the washing, reading and commenting on blogs, and planning some stories for a magazine deadline.

At the big village, I bought my groceries, and checked up on Prasad, the Indian genius who’s transformed the tatty old shop into a spick and span grocery. He’s leaving, and all my friends have charged me with the office of finding out where he’s going … he’s given some of us nick names, and mine is ‘Girl”. Off to the hardware store for the paint, and a discussion about cockerels, as one of the genus was stretching its lungs somewhere nearby. We discussed the cockerel in town which has taken up residence with the vet, and sits on his veranda nestled up to his cats when it’s not strutting around the court rooms next door.

On to the lovely coffee place, where I enjoyed a good flat white with chocolate sprinkled on it, and a piece of iced lemon yogurt cake with cream, and raspberry coulis (oh dear). I sat in the window by the river, and watched the village cat peering into the ornamental runnels of water stocked with goldfish which edge the market square. My amusement turned to horror as the little black rascal leaned over and fished out a struggling orange body. I FELT the crunch of the sharp teeth piercing through the scales of the wriggling, doomed goldfish, then the cat ran off with it between her jaws.

When the girl delivered my coffee I mentioned to her the cat’s shameless bite and run, and she told me her mother had eight cats and a goldfish pond. “She put one in the water, and they gave up hunting the fish then,” she laughed. She then began to list the dogs they owned, starting with a pit bull. “Oh, the darling thing”, I exclaimed, to which she replied, “Oh, I expected quite a different response from you – everyone shudders when I say pit bull”. We discussed the sad fate of pit bulls owned by people who brutalise them, and the goodness which is the birthright of all creatures until man degrades them.

Feeling refreshed, I sailed off to the village bookshop presided over by a green eyed black haired goddess. “I’ve come to make a complaint,” I smiled.  She beamed back: “Go head – make my day”!  “You’re not feeding the cat,” I accused her. “She’s just murdered a goldfish.”

The goddess laughed, “I’ve just given her breakfast,” she replied. The cat technically lives in the pub across the road, but has taken up with everyone else in the market place. Sometimes when I’m in the cinema I see her prowling across the back of the seats, and one day at the opera, the chap next door to me put his sweater under his seat. I had to warn him to leave it there for the rest of the film, because the cat was nestled on it.

The green eyed goddess said she’d been at the cinema the night before, and the cat had found her and jumped up on her lap, and spent the whole film stretched out across her legs purring. “It was just like being at home with my cat on my lap”, she laughed. Before getting back in the car, I dropped in on the florist to order a big bunch of gypsophila when it comes into season, and she had also watched the violence in the market square. “What with the cat and the grey heron, there’s going to be no goldfish left”, she exclaimed feelingly. “I saw it happen. She didn’t even eat it. She just dropped it – it’s dead”, she assured me seeing the horror on my face. I drove home rather later than I’d planned, but feeling that the waters of life had been flowing strongly.

The great philosopher Martin Buber wrote that everything in our lives has a hidden significance. “ The people we live with or meet with, the animals that help us with our farm-work, the soil we till, the materials we shape, the tools we use, they all contain a mysterious spiritual substance which depends on us for helping it towards its pure form, its perfection. If we neglect this spiritual substance sent across our path, if we think only in terms of momentary purposes, without developing a genuine relationship to the beings and things in whose life we ought to take part, as they in ours, then we shall ourselves be debarred from true fulfilled existence….the highest culture of the soul remains basically arid and barren unless, day by day, waters of life pour forth into the soul from those little encounters to which we give our due…”

Yes, it felt like that as I drove home, and now I feel too, that the waters of life flow not just through our individual lives but through our internet connections as well, and through all the little encounters we have with other souls and other lives around the world. And they certainly feel like genuine relationships in our little blogging village. This Must make a difference to the planet.

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

Though it’s supposed to be spring, it’s still cold, so I rustled up a quick soup for lunch. Broccoli soup is one of my favourite soups, and I love it hot and I love it cold. Chop an onion and a generous sized head of broccoli into small pieces, and sauté the harder green stems to start with. As they soften, add the rest of the green head, keeping some sprigs aside. Chop in a potato and then add enough chicken stock, about three to four cupfuls. If I haven’t any stock, the good old bouillon cube has to do.

Simmer till everything is soft. Put some milk in the blender, and then add the broccoli mixture, until it’s all liquidised. At this stage add the bright green broccoli  sprigs and liquidise them- they give some bright greenness to the soup. Re-heat long enough to cook the added broccoli fragments. Add grated nutmeg to taste, and salt and black pepper. Serve immediately, or let it cool and put in the fridge to chill. When the soup is iced, you may need to add stronger flavourings – more nutmeg, salt and pepper… needless to say I often add a dollop of cream to either version. This amount serves two people heartily, or four daintily.

Food for Thought

To organise work in such a manner that it becomes meaningless, boring, stultifying, or nerve-wracking for the worker would be little short of criminal; it would indicate a greater concern with goods than with people, an evil lack of compassion and a soul-destroying degree of attachment to the most primitive side of this worldly existence.                                                                                                                              Equally, to strive for leisure as an alternative to work would be considered a complete misunderstanding of one of the basic truths of human existence, namely that work and leisure are complementary parts of the same living process and cannot be separated  without destroying the joy of work and the bliss of leisure.                                                                                                                                                                      E.F. Schumacher discussing Buddhist economics in ‘Small is Beautiful’.

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49 Comments

Filed under cookery/recipes, food, great days, humour, life/style, philosophy, spiritual, sustainability, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, village life

49 responses to “Nothing Is Trivial

  1. I love broccoli soup too but I never thought to make it myself. It sounds pretty simple. Thanks for the recipe! Your day sounds very nice except for the poor goldfish. I would have been so sad for the poor little thing. And you’re right, all of the interactions we have, all the things we do, have some sort of meaning. And I absolutely agree that bloggy relationships feel as genuine as those I have with people who I see in person! I think it all helps make things nicer somehow.

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  2. I agree – nothing is trivial – everything is connected, even though we may never know how or why.. I thought you would like to hear from Quentin Crisp, a favourite of mine who always had something witty to say: “The formula for achieving a successful relationship is simple: you should treat all disasters as if they were trivialities but never treat a triviality as if it were a disaster.”

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  3. Brilliant! – so true – witty and wise enough to have been one of Oscar Wilde’s aphorisms !!!

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  4. Finding the purpose in acts from the mundane to the profound, seeing the connections between the broccoli soup and the departing grocer, the murderous cat and the devoted pit bull..all so beautifully written and evocative.

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    • That was such a lovely comment thank you… It’s so encouraging to know that you’ve seen the connections and understood what I was saying…thank you for your generous comments…so much appreciated…

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  5. I’m going to try that broccoli soup on Friday. I’ll be at the market tomorrow, so I can grab a good head of fresh broccoli, then. Looking forward to that!
    Always enjoy reading your blog. You’re just so …… good! 🙂

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  6. I met with a literary agent last week, who told me that a work I had shown her needed more drama. Nobody, she said, wants to hear about an ordinary day. I disagree. When told beautifully, as you do, and make characters come alive and actions appear to be real makes for exciting reading. For my taste the drama of the cat and the goldfish are excitement enough.

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    • Love your comment… re the literary agent – what appeals to one, doesn’t appeal to another. Years ago I wrote a novel, and the agent ( a man!) said there was too much about food in it! – and yet in my latest book The Sound of Water, people are always commenting on the food and recipes, and buying more copies! Same with blogging, isn’t it – what one person thinks is a wonderful blog, and another person just doesn’t get it. Hope you don’t let your agent put you off your putt! So glad you enjoyed the drama of my day!!!!

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  7. Everything about your day was significant…reminding me of Virginia Wolfe’s book Mrs. Dalloway, the portrait of a single day in a woman’s life.
    I do have to chuckle at this muderous cat who is the same one that curls up in laps at the theater. Just to prove that everything is connected.

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    • Thank you for commenting – though I don’t know how you do – are you still strolling through Balinese padi-fields? I really love it that you ‘got’ what I was writing about… thank you, with great appreciation

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      • Actually I haven’t traveled in a year. Bali was last year. Right now I am blogging about previous travels and care giver for my mother-in-law. Since we can’t travel at this time, I decided to create the blog…a creative outlet to offset the responsibilities we face this year. (I probably sound like I’m never home…in my blogs.)

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      • Well, whenever you travelled, it’s a joy to read about now – I hope the lovely memories you have are sustaining you now… care-giving is tough, I know…

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  8. This just proves that there is some evil in good as well. Nice post!

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  9. Once again, a delightful post about real stuff! I enjoy the comments made by your readers too. That Quentin Crisp quotation is perfect, I too like the bloggy relationships that develop.

    That cat sounds like Seven Dinner Sid, the cat who lives in a street and everyone feeds him. That your murderous cat likes the theater-goers laps too is lovely. It’s only her nature, after all.

    Love the soup and E.F. Schumacher ‘s words.

    Thanks again 🙂

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  10. I love the world you share with your readers. Your writing is so soothing. My cat hunted and killed a little vole this morning even though I kept trying to interfere. Instinct is a tough thing to overcome.

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    • I wouldn’t mind if they’d just kill mice and the like, and get it over – it’s the playing with it, and its futile attempts to escape, which tells me the mice know what’s going in, and are as terrified as you or me in the same situation !
      Lovely to hear from you…

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  11. Nothing in life should be treated as trivial…there is meaning to every moment! Cherish the moments for they all too quickly fade into oblivion right before our eyes…blink quickly…there just may be a lost moment! LOL:>) Our Foxie presented us with her prize of the day…a field rat. Not a mouse…a rat! The joys of living in the country…LOL:>)

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  12. Cats really are creatures of themselves they love us and they use us, and they do like mice and fish,,,,sometimes just for the sport. Sad to say.

    You are so right about the pit bulls…you would NOT believe how many come into the shelter from owners who have ‘grown’ tired of them. These lovely, sweet dogs are always so totally stunned and shocked by the ‘drop off’. As I am. Gradually they are adopted out, but often times most people are TERRIFIED because they are pit bulls.

    Sad really.
    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com
    http://deltacountyhistoricalsociety.wordpress.com

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  13. You sure do have a full day…but I like how you start it, tea and meditation. Great combination! Other than going back to bed I do the same thing it is a great way to start my day.

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    • It’s too hard to break the habit of a life-time, and for as many years as I’ve been able, I’ve started the day with a cup of tea in bed. Even at boarding school, I managed this as a prefect!!!

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  14. Just Magnificent! Thank you for such insightful and meaningful contribution from your heart and wisdom tendered writings…I am so grateful and enriched for the reading!! LoveLinda

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  15. Love the way the write about the ebb and flo of your days and the interconnectedness of all things and all that happens. You have such a gentle, fluid, endearing way of drawing in all who read your words. What a gift you have. You also have such a love of animals. We recently took in a kitten which had been abandoned and now rules the roost too. So like the cat you talk about. Thanks again my friend. Leanne

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    • Thank you Leanne for your lovely words. I’m sure you’ll understand if I say that I don’t feel that I’m alone when I’m writing, and that really, everything flows through us, so we can’t take the credit!
      So glad one little creature has landed on his feet ! love, Valerie

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  16. Yes yes yes! Our connections to one another are everything. Just beautiful

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  17. Amy

    Not a trivial day, but, it’s a peaceful and beautiful day. I feel the connections “that we have with other souls and other lives” through reading your beautiful posts. Thank you, Valerie!

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  18. You’re right, and I think our busy lives sometimes stop us from seeing the significance in the trivial. Maybe the blogging village is like the deep underwater currents – change is there, but it may take time to show up on the surface 🙂

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    • Thank you Alarna Rose for taking More time to communicate!
      Yes,I think being busy is the bane of mindfulness. Even walking, instead of driving, used to give us a little more time for reflection….

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  19. What I loved were those encounters that occurred as a result of the cat and the goldfish – talking to the girl who brought you coffee, and the green eyed goddess. That to me is why nothing is trivial, because everything often seems part of a very meaningful chain of events.

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  20. Thank you Gabriela, you’re right, and you never know where those little chains lead… life is a mystery when we take the time to savour it…,Lovely to have your perceptive comments

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  21. Made the soup for lunch today and added some cream cheese (using stuff up from the fridge before we go away) and it was delicious! Thank you 🙂

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  22. So glad it worked for you! Bon voyage !

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  23. Valerie,

    I loved the cat story – poor little goldfish and all. Cats are just hunters and have that in their spirits. I think it’s wonderful it can come in the theater and curl up on someone’s lap! I would love that!

    It sounds like you live in a great little village.

    Sunni

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  24. We’re travelling quite fruqeently, and Agata took care of our three cats during almost all of our travels.At the beginning we’ve been a bit afraid how the cats will react to a new person, but we quickly realized that our unease was entirely unfounded; the cats just loved her, even the most shy one.With her usual thoroughness, Agata collected all information about our cats before starting to work with them, so she already has known all about their habits, behavioural quirks and food preferences, and she put that knowledge to an excellent use. The cats were fruqeently petted, fed properly and cleaned as needed, and Agata was also able to administer eye drops to one of our cats (and let me assure you, that it’s not an easy task!).She kept us informed all the time via texts and IM messages, so there was never a time we hadn’t known what’s happening with our pets.I can heartily recommend Agata’s White Cat Care to everyone in need of an excellent cat care service!

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