Domestic dramas and our daily bread

100_0392Life’s rich pageant is sometimes not quite what I expect. The last week or so was one of those times.  I’ll start with the good times… coffee with Friend at a garden cafe. At the entrance the glade of persimmon trees was a flaming circle, though the trees have shed half their leaves. Those that are left hanging are tawny orange, and round ripe red fruit hang from every branch, decorating every twig like an elegant Christmas tree. The whole grove was a blaze of glowing colour and sound, birds perched in every tree, singing, whistling and feasting.

There were tuis whose bright turquoise plumage glistened richly against the red of the fruit, acid green silver eyes flitting from branch to twig, and a host of sparrows, a few thrushes and blackbirds. The green grass sprouting after all the rain was littered with the empty flame- red carcasses of persimmons expertly cleaned out by tiny beaks. It was a busy and happy scene.

The next day began at seven am with me pulling back the curtains of the French windows from where I can glimpse the road. I saw a flash of white, and then another … just too big to be a dog. Oh no, I thought, Anna and Mike’s new baby goats. No time to ring someone to catch them they were going so fast. It was down to me! Luckily I had my slippers on (fluffy), and I prayed that it was too early for any friendly village pervs to be going about their business, as I dashed out in my pyjamas. (Age is irrelevant … the mere word pyjamas electrifies some elderly gents!)

Rushing up to the top of the garden, and down the road, I clapped my hands and called them – they are known as the little darlings. Easy-peasy, they came running, relieved to find a person who would look after them. Slowly I edged and skipped sideways in the fluffy slippers, and led them back down the cul de sac to where their field lay. Robert, the in-house, elderly billy-goat gave them heaps when I pushed them back into the field. They have little white pointed faces, sensitive and exquisite. Saanen goats originally came from Switzerland – these two from the SPCA shelter – neutered, and male, so unwanted since they can’t produce milk! The official description of these goats is rather charming – they are described as large, kind, and friendly. These ones are little, sweet and friendly.

I thought I’d give them a handful of goat treats, and had to crawl into the back of their hut up on the side of the hill-side to get their bowl out. Before I could say knife, all three goats were in and around me, as I scrabbled for the bowl on my hands and knees and was jostled by three determined bodies, and twelve dainty legs. I finally retrieved my dignity and the bowl, and fobbed them off with the goodies.

Back home and off to the big smoke with Friend for a farewell lunch with the various sprightly and foot-loose octogenarians who were about to leave for energetic tours around Germany, Italy or Alaska, we two returning to our frail husbands who cannot be left. “We were lucky to find a tour that would let over – eighties join,” said one… “We have to carry our own luggage around Italy,” chirped another.

The next morning, overcome by tooth-ache, the dentist squeezed me in, and an hour later and some thousands of dollars lighter, I was the bemused possessor of half a bridge, until the whole one had been made to measure. Things went from ache to worse in that department, and I was back again, if not writhing in pain, certainly not a happy camper, a few days later. And there’s more today!

Later, as I backed out of the garage in the rain to return a book to a neighbour, I heard a horrendous bang, and slammed on the brakes. Shaken I climbed out of the car to survey the damage. A wicked squalling wind had just blown off the sea, caught the very high tilt door, designed to let boats in, and slammed it down on the back of the moving car. The electric door was hanging dangerously off the runners at an angle, and badly dented, while the back of the car was chewed up, red glass from the lights scattered everywhere. I backed it out while I could still get it out of the garage.

So now we need a new door, and a new back on the car. Insurance, yes, but by the time the excess is paid on both, it’s a sizeable chunk of money just for a second in the wind. Later, as I searched my soul for the reason for this kick in the back-side, I got the message. Just regretful now that I must have been so dense, and that it took something so dramatic to learn a life’s lesson!

And all the while there’s blogs to read, and birds to feed. The tuis and wax-eyes, and blackbirds love the apples and persimmons I nail onto the fence-line, so I can watch them from the sitting room window. And now I’m looking for a Perspex or glass bowl to hold frozen peas and frozen sweet corn. This is food for wood pigeons. Both the loquat fruit and the guava harvest having failed after the drought this year, the pigeons are hungry and likely to starve through the winter. A bird rescue centre advises us to put the food in a glass bowl so the pigeons can see them, and wedge the said bowl in a pururi tree… in my case, it’ll be the guava tree which they already know, and which I can reach easily.

“Bit expensive, isn’t it?” murmured my other half un-easily.

“That’s the price we have to pay for preserving our wild life,” I returned briskly and pompously. But it did the trick, and silenced the poor chap.

So this is life these days… in ‘The Pursuit of LoveNancy Mitford once described this humdrum of ordinary existence as the wholemeal bread of life… and so it is… but even so, I sometimes long, like Kubla Khan, to feed on honeydew and drink the milk of paradise.

So as I went to put another log on the fire last night, I was thinking to myself that yet again, I hadn’t done much with my day, when I remembered Michel de Montaigne’s wonderful words. He was a lovely man and a writer and philosopher in sixteenth century France, who has often cheered me up and given me confidence, since most of his writing is about himself and his thoughts… like mine!  In his essays he used anecdotes and personal ruminations which his contemporaries thought was self-indulgent, and detrimental to proper style. But he said: ‘I am myself the matter of my book’, and his popularity has lasted, while his critics have disappeared.

His words which came into my mind were: “Alas, I have done nothing this day! What! Have you not lived? It is not only the fundamental but the noblest of your occupations”.  Thank you Michel de Montaigne – that gives me a whole new appreciation of my wholemeal bread! Persimmons and pigeons, goats and garage, the daily bread of life, they all have a place in the hidden scheme of things… and my part is to love them and live with them, and value them, and to remember that this is a noble occupation.

Food for Threadbare Gourmets

Wet, cold wintry weather demands hot, satisfying stodge, so to ring the changes I decided we’d have onion tart. First step is the shortcrust pastry shell, in this case I’m afraid, ready-made, not my normal style, but needs must…. While it’s baking blind in the oven for ten minutes, I peeled and gently sautéed eight big onions – plenty- in four ounces of butter. Don’t let them brown, but gently cook until they’re a soft yellow mass. Beat an egg with two tablesp of white wine, stir in quarter of a pint of cream, salt and black pepper and a good pinch or grind of nutmeg. Stir into the onions, and cook very gently until it begins to thicken, then pour into the pastry case. Return to a moderately hot oven for about thirty minutes, until the top is lightly browned. You can also add two ounces of dry grated cheese like Gruyere.

Food for Thought

Kindness in another’s trouble, courage in one’s own … motto of Princess Diana 1961- 1997.

She also practised and advocated: ‘random acts of kindness.’





Filed under animals/pets, birds, cookery/recipes, great days, happiness, life/style, philosophy, spiritual, The Sound of Water, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

48 responses to “Domestic dramas and our daily bread

  1. elisaruland

    You had a hectic week, but still so full of love and humor. Your mention of Princess Diana and her motto took my breath away. I cried for an entire year after her death.


    • Dear Elisa, it broke my heart too. I write about her in my book The Sound of Water, and I did a blog post back in Aug/Sep last year, at the anniversary of her death…
      She was so precious.. and of course, we’ll only every think of her as young and beautiful like Marilyn Monroe !


  2. I am very fond of wholemeal bread. It makes for good eating and a good life overall. When I look at your photos and read your words, I think you do Kubla Khan rather well too. I think the birds in your garden would agree for they feast on the equivalent of honeydew and the milk of paradise. As for the teeth and the garage door and the scrunched car; that’s like finding those gritty stones in your wholemeal bread. Happens rarely but very unpleasant all the same. Now I will raise a cup of tea and give a toast to LIVING.


  3. Lovely heartfelt post, Valarie. As we Americans say ..making lemonade out of lemons. You indeed accomplished much that day. I love the early morning romp with the goats in your slippers and pajamas. This is the best of memories…the teeth and car issues are inconveniences and will clear up. Love your wisdom and wholemeal bread.


  4. Juliet

    Well, I’d call it a very eventful day! – delighted by persimmons, butted by goats, farewelling friends, and then over the next days dealing with accidents but still able to feed the wood pigeons, read blogs and write it all up, with reflections on Montaigne; it’s all so rich. I hope your teeth will settle and your finances recover.


    • Oh Juliet, lovely to hear from you, and what a delicious comment !Glad you enjoyed Montaigne !
      Staggering on with the teeth – three injections yesterday which still didn’t numb the pain… feel as tough my jaw has been punched today !!!!
      Nil desperandum ….


    • Dear Juliet,
      This a a very roundabout way of contacting you, but it’s the only way I can find!
      Can’t wait to see you to see how to work out how to get onto your blog.
      Do you have a spare day in the next two or three weeks when we could meet? Dentist again tomorrow, and then I’m free most days except Thursday Tai Chi.
      Hope you find this ! Love valerie..


  5. LOVED the goat story! And wishing I had goats too….


  6. This was so good to read – at this dreadful hour after having spent the last hour and a half coughing – er I mean living. 😉 Thank you.


    • Dear Liz, so sorry to hear about your cough… it really wears you out and wears you down, doesn’t it …. If all else fails, have you tried Stone’s ginger wine, a quarter of a glass, filled up with hot water, honey, and the juice of an orange… it’s often made a difference to me….Hope you’re feeling better by now…


  7. Michele Seminara

    Ah Valerie, life just keeps coming at you doesn’t it? But you handle it with grace, and are always remembering others…Certainly a life well lived; I am sure Michel de Montaigne would agree! (Hope the teeth feel better soon) x


  8. MisBehaved Woman

    Love the way you find the beauty and treasures even in less-than-perfect times. Hope you are feeling 100% again soon!


  9. Amy

    Beautiful persimmon image! You’ve handled gracefully… Hope you will feel much better soon. Thank you for sharing Princess Diana’s motto


    • Hello Amy, thank you – as you can see I can’t resist persimmons – even the name enchants me ! Thank you for your good wishes… things are a bit worse than they were, but they have to get better with doses of disprin and salt water rinses!!


  10. What an alarming experience!!! I am so glad it was the back of the car and not the front of the car…like the window glass with you sitting right behind it! I sent prayer upward for thanks that you were not harmed or disfigured or hurt!!!!



  11. Dommage! Goats in the garden, wind playing havoc, teeth grinding stuff! Whether you stay at home or go out, it seems drama some days is unavoidable. I’m not sure what the life lesson was with the wind and backing the car out – unless the neighbour was within easy walking distance, but do continue to lend and borrow books 🙂

    Perhaps it has saved you from a worse occurrence, one never knows. I always need to find some good reason, even if it doesn’t outweigh the negative consequence. Your deeds all had good intentions 🙂 Onward tomorrow!


    • Ha-ha, Claire – thank you for your cheery comments ! Yes, life is never dull – my life’s lesson – the compulsion and attachment to keeping my word, even when it wasn’t important and was rather inconvenient – learning to put my needs before others !!!!!


  12. Oh how I enjoyed your goat herding escapade……you certainly earned your achievement badge on that day! As for teeth and the wretched pain from those at times….my heartfelt commiserations and then the wallet feels the pain too. I do hope all that work has now settled and you can continue to enjoy chewing the delicious treats you concoct
    Are the Keruru eating their frozen mixed veg? I was intrigued to learn that they would eat those things. Let’s hope they survive and if they do it will be, in good part, thanks to your stirling efforts.
    I hope you are warm and dry as this drenching weather system saturates us all and with bitter cold to come!


    • Good morning friend – thank you for all your comments and commiserations!… things slowly coming right !!!
      Oh what a storm, isn’t it. We lost our power for twelve hours a couple of nights ago, and with the gales and squalls I won’t be surprised if it happens again – memo, go and fill some saucepans with water !
      The main thing is to have lots of dry logs for the fire !!!


  13. Though not a perve I must admit the thought of you in your fuzzy slippers and PJ’s chasing goats, well it did bring a smile. Okay, it brought a great smile and some giggles.

    I am so sorry for your teeth aches, these are the worst. I hope you are feeling better soon. There is nearly nothing worse and it sends misery throughout. I am sending you love in the hope it helps.

    You know as you talked about all your birds, I had forgotten it is winter where you are. Is the glass bowl working?


  14. Hello Val. so glad you had a giggle ! Yes, it really is winter at the moment…real midwinter icy squalls, wind, rain and hail… I don’t feel like going out in it to get my hair cut this afternoon… thank you for your loving thoughts… am now nursing a bruised jaw after three injections, none of which worked!
    I think the glass bowl will take some getting used to… it always takes the birds a few days… but the wheat for cooing doves and sparrows and chaffinches disappears pronto, as does the fruit on the fence! Lovely to be in touch across the world ….


  15. Good one!
    I must look up some of those birds. New names for me.


  16. I love to read your descriptions of life how you experience it, Valerie!
    Many of us seem to have hectic times, these days. My trip to Berlin during the start of this week had its hectic moments, too – as well as its beautiful ones.
    I hope that a feeling of peace and balance comes back to you, soon, and am sending you, once more, much love! 🙂


    • Lovely to find your comment, Stephanie, yes, it’s strange – everyone I know has been having hectic or stressful times just now…. roll on peace and calm ! Thank you for your loving message .. once I get the dentist ordeal sorted, I’ll be fine – it’s just dragging on a bit !!!! Hope all is well with you, much love, Valerie


      • Yeah, here is to peace and calm!!!

        All is well, here, although it still seems to get challenging, once in a while. In my experience things usually work out fine when (if, haha!) I manage to center and focus on love and inner peace, first. Might be that works for you as well, to get along with the dentist ordeal.

        By the way, here is my message on G+ for today:

        Much love – and I appreciate you, too!


      • Thank you Stephanie for all your comments and good wishes… I’m back to normal now,… I can’t take anti-biotics, pain killers, dental injections or anything else, so three injections from the dentist was a long drawn out ordeal, until they had worked themselves out of the system !!!
        Hope you’re enjoying the weekend… high summer where you are – deep winter here


      • I’m glad to hear that you are getting back to normal, again. I totally hear you regarding strong medication! – Our high summer is rather feeling like spring and fall, most of the time… Well, that’s fine with me! 😀 – Enjoy your weekend as well, now that all the “poison” has left the system!


  17. Oh, Valerie – so gorgeous to back in your world after my internet holiday. I’ve missed your wisdom! (You’ve also reminded me that I need to book an appointment with my dentist…)


    • Gabriela, how lovely to hear from you, I’d been wondering where you’d disappeared to… Thank you for your kindly comments… but any wisdom feels in short supply after I’ve battled my way through my allergic reactions to injections !!! Looking forward to reading your thoughts now you’re back…


  18. You make everyday extraordinary, Valerie!!! And I agree with the idea of just living. It is a simple task, that seems to be very difficult for humanity to grasp except one day at a time. It is in the daily routine that life gives unexpected glimpses – singular moments of belonging, of connection, of hope and courage. It is nothing short of a miracle. 🙂


  19. Luanne

    Sorry about the car! but the post is beautiful, as usual, and I’m “tweeting” it in hopes that others will partake of the fruit that is your writing.


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