That’s Life

Family-friendly recipes and snippets of family life from an Irish kitchen. Irish Recipes, Chef Recipes, Baking Recipes, Dessert Recipes, Dessert Food, Rachel Allen, Apple Desserts, Apple Recipes, Cooking Forever

I lost my blog, and had no idea how to get it back until dear Linda at coloradofarmlife.com told me how to find it, after I told her how frustrated and helpless I was. However, I was still writing, and this is the result of my labours:

Dearest Alice,
I know what you mean about time getting away from you… it’s got away from me…
What an interesting letter, thank you… loved the stuff about the trees drinking the water…. have been fascinated by the life in them ever since I read how they communicate with each other through their roots, and there is a mother tree who is leader of the pack !!!
Like all animals… It broke my heart to read that when a grandmother elephant was returned to a zoo recently where her daughter and granddaughter were, after a twelve year parting, she immediately entwined trunks and showed how she remembered them… we break up animal families without a second thought… years ago I read about a sheep farmer who milked her sheep for feta cheese, and she told how when she banged on the bucket to milk them, they all came to her in their family groups of three or four generations, great grandmothers and all their offspring…

Wild swimming, we did it without thinking when we were young didn’t we – swam in rivers and lakes without ever thinking it was wild swimming! – lovely for you to find a place where you can… do you feel you’re settling into your new home?

Huntington’s chorea – ugh – a terrible illness… we also knew a family with it, and all the children in this generation decided not to have children…

We’ve been having strange times here… got back from the dentist in Thames the other day to find a snowstorm up here, and drifts of it lying around for ages it was so cold. We’ve never had snow in this temperate region with a podocarp – almost tropical forest… The night before last we were awakened by a stiff earthquake, the rattling of everything in the house woke us, and then we felt the tremors… we went back to sleep and slept through the after-shocks… then last night another earthquake…
Strange times … first snow, then earthquakes, maybe a plague of frogs next – I hope they’re the environmentally threatened Archey’s that we protect here !!!

D- is busy putting an elegant coved ceiling in the sitting room, it feels so snug and light and airy… plus a lovely wrought iron chandelier a friend gave us when she didn’t want it… I painted it cream and it looks great…
And now a small gang of quail have arrived for a snack of bird seed… they’re eating us out of house and home, but D- adores them…

I was thinking about spring coming soon, and an old memory came back… when we were at Guildford you gave me a book of funny rhymes, and I still remember :
In the springtime come the breezes.
With the breezes come the squeezes,
With the squeezes come the maybe’s
With the maybe’s come the babies !!!

It was my twenty first birthday, and you also gave me a beautiful silk scarf of pink and white squares which I loved. Very useful when you had the hood down in your MGA.

Just off to make a fudge icing for an apple cake I’ve made to take to some very old friends. There isn’t a swish restaurant in Thames where they live and we wanted to take them out to lunch. So I’m taking everything to their lovely house, oyster bisque and rolls, cheeses and pates, and the cake and champagne… I’ve known them since we were neighbours back in 1975….

Andrew was lovely, and I’m so glad you have such happy memories to comfort you…
Much love, dear friend,

To a grandson

Darling, when you rang yesterday, you explained / apologised for not ringing me last week.
I Really want you to know that there is no onus on you to ring me regularly. I always simply love it, and feel smiling and happy when we ring off, because it is a gift…
But I do not expect it, and know too that you Are busy so I always appreciate it when you think of me, but would never start wondering why you hadn’t – if you didn’t!
D- always says it’s a ‘bloody miracle’ when you ring me, (meaning that so few young people remember oldies ) he thinks you’re so wonderful to think of me, and usually makes me a tray of tea when you ring, so I can sit and enjoy talking to you and sip my lapsang souchong at the same time…
I think you’re wonderful too, to include me in your busy days, so thank you, thank you for making the time, and know that it’s a bonus for me, not something expected.
You have always been so special to me from the moment you were born and I held you while V-  had a shower – and that too I felt was such an unexpected joy and a gift…. and when you were fretful in the days after you were born because your head had been so squished out of shape and it must have been so painful, I used to hold you to my chest
and sing Tallis’s Canon over and over so that the sound would reverberate and throb and beat against your heart to try to comfort you.
In e.e.cumming’s words, I have always held you in my heart.
So much love from your Grannie XXXXXXX

To my son,

Hi darling, thought you’d be interested in this comment about Sophia’s video from Jilly, I had sent it to her. She wrote:

I must comment on your amazing step-grand daughter’s video. Thank you for sending it, and what a great story it is. She readily admits her family had to make huge adjustments, and I do know just what that means. It is a lovely uplifting story and I felt she is a very strong and gracious young woman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ahGz2nhOps

I’ve watched it again, and it’s amazing just what a person with tetraplegia can do and what she is making of her life.

Such courage and persistence.

From Daughter:

Got these lovely beeswax candles in Wanaka at lavendar garden and put in Great Grannie’s candlesticks today…

Me: Oh, how gorgeous… they always smell divine…. you can get more at the church shop on the corner of the Ellerlie off ramp. I hate the ordinary candles, which burn paraffin, and I discovered, because we burn candles quite a lot, that they actually leave grime on the windows… funnily enough D- bought me a pack of beeswax candles while I was at the dentist on Thursday, to cheer me up…. we’ve even explored the internet to buy beeswax, and make our own, but it’s just as expensive as buying them….

I’ve often thought I’d like to tell the family that I don’t need any birthday or Christmas presents – just beeswax candles !!!

Daughter:

Found these on Trademe. $12 for the pair which is cheaper than church shop. It’s a shop in Hawkes Bay that makes their own…

Me: Thank you darling.

To another grandchild….

Lovely to see you darling… to continue our conversation – I knew how you felt about BLM when it started… I really hadn’t realised how subtle  much racism is (and simply bad-mannered) until you explained, and I could really sympathise with the movement in its beginnings. But I now feel differently. It was the last straw for me when the German director of the treasured British Museum said ‘we’ (obviously forgetting Germany’s painful past) had to face up to the painful facts of British colonial history and ‘cancelled’ Sir Hans Sloane.

He was the person born in 1660 who funded the British Museum, the British Library, the Natural History Museum, Chelsea Physic Garden, gave medical attention to the poor every morning for free, and gave his salary to the Foundling Hospital, as well as being a scientist and naturalist who was a benefactor to these fields of English endeavour as well.

His wife owned slaves in the colonies, so Sir Hans, a kind, good man and generous philanthropist, has been symbolically tarred and feathered, and his statue moved out of sight. I wonder what these fanatics thought people living in those times should have done. If Sir Hans had freed his wife’s slaves, how would they have survived in the society in which they had been enslaved. No-one would have employed them when they had their own free labour – their slaves… so these freed slaves would have faced a life of starvation or deprivation and outlawry, having no place in society.

I read this comment below, in a newspaper  story dealing with all the destruction of treasured heroes of the American past from Washington, to Lincoln and U.S. Grant, whose crime was to be given a slave by his father in law and to free him within a year, at some cost to himself since he was  on the bare bones of existence at the time.

“This describes a lot of us. Tread lightly! My tolerance is running out. I never cared what colour you were until you started blaming me for your problems. I never cared about your political affiliation until you started to condemn me for mine. I never cared where you were from in this great Republic until you began condemning people based on where they were born and the history that makes them who they are. I have never cared if you were well off or poor because I’ve been both.

“Until you started calling me names for working hard and bettering myself, I’ve never cared if your beliefs are different than mine. Until you said I am not entitled to my beliefs, now I care. I’ve given all the tolerance I have to give. This is no longer my problem. It’s your problem. You can still fix it. It’s not too late, but it soon will be.  I’m a very patient person at times. But I’m about out of patience. There are literally millions of people just like me. We have had enough.”

I know where he’s coming from! We’re never going to make a better world for all those who feel deprived or victims, until we stop shaming and blaming everyone for the colour of their skin. Many white people don’t feel privileged at all! Many of them are descended from ancestors who lived lives very nearly as hard as slaves, working crippling hours in mines, being impressed into the navy, making lace in badly lit attics and going blind to mention only a few instances… history is full of injustices.

So is the present, with slavery still being practised /endured all over the Middle East and Africa… and China too, in all but name. Those are the people who are suffering today. BLM being victims of the past doesn’t solve the present. Patience, tolerance, kindness and generosity are the things that may. And until we all try them we will never know.

I’m still learning all the new terms to keep myself up to date! –  have mastered woke, and now there’s cis-gender, transgender, AFAB – that’s a funny one – Assigned Female At Birth – don’t think anyone bothered to do that with me – they just supposed that on the evidence I was a girl!

Looking forward to seeing you when lockdown is over again…

Dearest Dick and Bella,
What a lovely, lovely occasion…. it was lovely to see you both, and so sweet of you both to make it such a beautiful occasion, flowers, champagne and fun and good conversation… Douglas and I loved every minute, thank you so much XXX
And I loved hearing about Lily, what a precious person she sounds … you brought up special people…Lily’s beauty is something really
rare…
It was such a celebratory event…you are so good at them, thank you !!
And then, to get home and savour more generosity, all your beautiful gifts… The beautiful posy is sitting in a big pink paisley patterned
mug, with the word love on it… not quite as unique as your mother’s gorgeous green vase, but it works!
Oh Bella, what a collection of treats in your beautiful hamper – so spoily and undeserved – you are amazing… I slowly unwrapped each treat, feeling more and more amazed at your imagination as well as your generosity… the eggs – what a precious way of presenting them… it made me realise just how exquisite eggs are… the ginger puddings – echoes of childhood when we Always had a pudding – steamed ginger, apple pie, treacle tart, or just stewed apple or plums or rhubarb with rice pudding or custard… I shall savour them, as well as all the other beautiful handmade goodies… the extra special chocolate, and the lovely scented soap…and that darling delicious little bell… so delicate and beautiful… thank you so much for all those thoughtful imaginative treats… The lemons look lovely in an antique French provincial pottery bowl I recognised in the op shop, and which they sold disdainfully ( ‘tatty old pottery thing’ ) for five dollars… and  I can’t wait for the house to be back in order after all D-‘s efforts when we had already planned to celebrate with lighting some beeswax candles, and now we have them, thanks to you !
I feel really moved and quite overwhelmed with your generosity dear friend… thank you thank you… I do hope you’ll feel like the journey here when the weather improves, so we can try to spoil you XXX

Now, the apple fudge cake – I still have the 1987 cutting from the Herald in my scrapbook… Elizabeth Pedersen, a nice Dutchwoman I think she was… The recipe calls for three fresh Grannie Smith type apples, but as I mentioned I do it the lazy way now with a tin of apple, chopped small…she says vegetable oil, so I tend to use grape oil… and I usually use slightly less milk in the fudge topping so it’s a bit dryer and more manageable as a cake…and I use SR flour instead of plain plus baking soda ( a lazy cook !)
12 oz SR flour
tsp salt (I just use a generous pinch)
10 ozs vegetable oil
13 oz caster sugar
3 eggs
3 medium sliced apples ( or one tin )
few drops of vanilla essence – (I use nearer a teaspoon)
Oven gas 4 or 175 C
Cream oil with sugar till light and smooth. Beat in the eggs one by one, vanilla, then the flour in three batches, and then stir in apples. Bake for one to one and a half hours. When it’s cool, spread the topping…six generous ozs brown sugar
60 ml milk
125 ml unsalted butter
vanilla (I use half a teaspoon)

Melt, and stir until smooth, boil for two minutes, then cool, stirring occasionally. Stir the topping over ice until it begins to stiffen, then spread over
the cake, letting it drip down the sides…
As you can see – so easy.

So that’s some writing in the life of… letters…and now to catch up on all my blog housekeeping, and with all the other old friends around the world linked by our network of golden threads called WordPress.

13 Comments

Filed under beauty, consciousness, family, happiness, love, philosophy, Thoughts on writing and life, Uncategorized

13 responses to “That’s Life

  1. That’s life! And it seems to be a full and satisfying one. Sophia and her video are wonderful. I think I saw an earlier one some time ago which was also great.

    Like

  2. Dear Valerie,

    How lovely to read your voice. I think of the two of you often. I appreciate your comments on BLM. I, too, was sympathetic in the beginning. I often find myself singing the lyrics to “For What it’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield. “Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong…”
    At any rate, I enjoyed your letters and am in the process of watching the video. Sophia’s an amazing young woman. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve often wondered how she’s doing.
    My love to you and Himself.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Like

    • Hello Rochelle,
      So good to see your smiling face – hope the coffee’s still hot!
      I Like – ‘ nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong’ maybe it’s time we were all right so nobody’s wrong ! Win-win…
      What a funny old world.. including the anti-Covid marches -one gripe is as good as another, I suppose if being offended is one’s ambition!!
      So glad you enjoyed Sophia;s video… she is amazing, and so I think is her stepfather, my son – it has totally changed their life…
      He sends his love …
      Happy birthday !
      Much love, Valerie

      Like

  3. Ah, what a relief and pleasure to see your name and blog this morning! I was just about to send an email (which I may still do) but I was getting a bit concerned. As always, thank you for sharing from the heart and about so many thought- and feeling-provoking issues, although it does make it difficult to comment cogently because it’s difficult to choose the items for a response. 🙂 First world problem, I know.

    I would be devastated as well if I thought I’d lost my blog, so I’m very happy (from an unselfish point of view) that you got it back. (From a selfish one as well.) Your cake looks as delicious as your letters. Your package sounds absolutely delightful. I’ve been writing postcards and notes to friends, even though they take so much longer to arrive these days. I’m thinking perhaps the post office has gone back to Pony Express here and shipping for overseas. At any rate, I’m hesitant to send packages anywhere but the US because of that, even though I’d love to send one to my s-i-l in France.

    My thought on BLM is that I believe black lives matter while not subscribing to much/most of Black Lives Matters. I know you catch the distinction. As far as the rest here (and elsewhere) goes, it’s convenient that people seem to have forgotten Jesus’ words: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and what a joy to find that there are so many perfect people these days while I yet live in imperfection. 🙂 Hmm, did I just bite my tongue while it was in my cheek?

    Anyway, as always, much love. Stay healthy and happy, my friends. ❤

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love reading your witty perceptive replies…such a treat – as was your letter which will be answered when I’ve unpacked the over flowing bags of groceries cluttering up.the kitchen !
      It’s so good to know that my apology for a blog this time, found a receptive audience from friends, and I really appreciated your words ‘sharing from the heart’ !
      Yes, I think all of us who have a shred of sanity feel the same about the conflicts which are tearing apart our peaceful communities, I try not to judge, and just hope that all these seemingly crazy events have some larger purpose, which my small mind cannot comprehend… as I said to Jane, lower down… these are the times that try men’s souls… again !!!
      Will be back to you, Much love, Valerie

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow no writers block there. Wondered where you were.
    Stay safe
    David W

    Like

    • Good to hear from you David…
      Hope all is well with you…
      No, journalism kills any drama over writer’s block…a deadline is a deadline, and a great training !
      Thank you as ever for your self- appointed task – much appreciated,
      Valerie

      Like

  5. Valerie, it’s good to hear from you and share in your correspondence and shared life snippets. I was getting concerned and I am glad you have your blog back. It is uplifting to see Sophia doing so well and to feel the loving energy she radiates. We absolutely need open and vulnerable conversations about discrimination. I do not agree with some items on the BLM manifesto, especially defunding the police. I also feel that all lives matter. The second the racism accusation flag is flown it shuts the conversation down, thereby having the opposite effect to what is needed. Our conversations are being censored through the ‘woke’ movement and it smacks of control. I spent my teenage years in Africa and once commented that I did not see skin colour yet I see the colour of people’s energy. I was told I was racist for that comment. The pendulum is swinging wildly and here’s hoping it settles where we are all seen and heard. Much love flowing to you both. ❤ ❤

    Like

    • Jane, lovely to hear from you, and I hope all is well with you… though we both know that all is well always, don’t we…
      Yes, ‘”these are the times that try men’s souls” ( I love that quote from Benjamin Franklin)… it seems to me that most of the times I’ve lived through have tried men’s souls!!
      I hope the pendulum swings back before too many precious things – not just statues – but values and ideals have been destroyed… I try to see the bigger picture, and do know that it’s as though nothing can be hidden any more, lies, dishonesties, hypocrisies, and all the rest , all seem to be found out in the end, in this strange un-private society…
      I know exactly what you mean by the colour of people’s energy… more important than skin colour, race, nationality and everything else.
      It’s the thing that makes it good to be with someone, or painful…
      Wish we were near enough to sit down and natter over a cup of coffee…
      Much love, Valerie

      Like

      • Hello Valerie, yes, the veil is lifting at speed now. We can imagine sitting nattering over a coffee, hopefully with a piece of your delicious toffee apple cake. Much love flowing to you both, always. ❤ Xxxx

        Like

  6. There you are! YAY! You arrived in my email box perfectly There! I’m so glad you are doing much better. I’m also glad to read all those lovely letters to your friends and family. Thank you so much for sharing.
    As for BLM, methinks all lives matter, no matter the race, the orientation, or the religion…I am for each and every person— body and soul.
    But you know that!
    Hugs to you and Himself!
    Linda

    Like

  7. hello Linda, thanks to you I am back – and it was so simple – thank you so much… yes, there’s really no argument about the central premise of BLM – it’s the unnecessary violence and irrationality of it which ruins the
    movement for me…
    Just watched a documentary about the Battle of Antietam, and the bloodiest day in the Civil War, a war in which over 380.000 men of the North died , and couldn’t help thinking what a debt all those angry rioting people owe to those men and their bereft families…
    Love to you XXXXXXXXX

    Like

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