Sunday, 31 January 2010


I had a lovely, lovely day yesterday.  Which, frankly, I feel like I deserved after more than 6 weeks of a chest infection with added norovirus* which was making me feel like I was 100 years old and well past my sell-by date.  I still sound like I have a cold, apparently, and can't sing yet, which is a bugger, but otherwise I feel ok.  Hurrah.

So.  Birthday. 

Mr WithaY woke me early as he was off out for the morning, and presented me with some lovely gifts.  He got me a book of unpublished letters to the Telegraph, and a collection of Punch cartoons.  I used to buy Punch regularly when I was a student, and made a scrapbook of my favourite cartoons.  I wish I'd kept it.  I found a postcard of one of them recently, a group of men and one woman sat round a conference table, with the chairman saying "That's an excellent suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men would like to make it."  I can remember going to meetings like that when I started working, hundreds of years ago in the 80s. 

He also got me some very posh toiletries which I look forward to trying out.  I shall smell all sophisticated and grown-up.  Marvellous.

I spent much of the morning baking, as we had arranged to have some mates round for dinner in the evening. 

I made:

A treacle tart with lemon pastry, which worked well.  I just sieved a tablespoon of icing sugar into the flour/fat mixture and used fresh lemon juice instead of ice water to mix it up.  I'd have taken a picture, but we ate it all last night.  And jolly good it was too. 

A quiche with all the leftover cheese lurking in the fridge.  Well, it's more of a cheese tart, really, although I sliced a fresh tomato on the top to try and assuage the vegetable gods. 

A cake.  Last weekend's cake was so nice that I thought I'd try to do it again.  Less celery, more sugar stars this time though.

It's slightly less tidy than the one I made last week, but as it's rather lovely home-made strawberry jam oozing out, I don't feel too bad about it. 

Mr WithaY came home mid-afternoon and prepared the main course of fillet of venison with duchesse potatoes and veg, which was jolly fine.  It was a very nice evening, and as the last dinner party we had ended for me at 9.30 when I went to bed feeling like death on a stick, it was particularly enjoyable.

I had three bouquets of flowers yesterday.  THREE.  I felt like a film star.

These are from my lovely Mum, and are on the sitting room table.  Those tulips are magnificent.

These are from Mr WithaY and are on the kitchen table.  The jonquils smell like Spring.

These are from some of our lovely mates and are on the little table next to the sofa in the sitting room.  The photo doesn't do the dark purple flowers justice.  I have no idea what they are.  Anemones maybe?

I love having flowers in the house.  I think I might have birthdays more often.  But without getting older, of course.

Other news:  While I was leaving father-in-law WithaY's nursing home the other evening, there was a truly splendid sunset going on.  I took some pictures on my phone, as I didn't have my camera with me.   I ought to keep it in my bag, really.


That dark shape to the lower right is the same urn I took a picture of the frosted cobweb on.  In case you're not keeping track. 

I completed my first "proper" week back at work for many weeks, and it was ok.  The journey feels like a marathon, but I am sure I'll soon get back into the swing of it, and of course the days are getting longer so there'll be more daylight as the weeks go on.  That helps.  Leaving the house at 6.30am is much more bearable when the sun is up and the birds are singing.  Birds that aren't bloody owls, I mean. 

The walks between Waterloo and the office were not as exhausting as I had been anticipating, and the exercise is certainly good for me.  Maybe all those supplements I'm taking are kicking in.  I certainly feel much more like myself than I have done for a long time.

Oh, we have had some fish fatalities.  One of the female gourami was floating upside-down and twitching last Sunday.  We left her there for a little while, and she stopped twitching, but the upside-down floating continued.  Flushed, I'm afraid.  

There was an outbreak of fish-eat-fish yesterday too, nasty little buggers.  Mr WithaY bought a few more shrimps, stripy blue and white ones this time, as the pink ones had all vanished.  As soon as the new shrimp were put in the tank, the pink ones emerged from wherever they had been lurking.  Bastards.

Anyhoo, I saw one of the new shrimp lying on one of the plant leaves, unmoving.  As I watched, he fell off and drifted down to the bottom of the tank, upside-down.  I'm no expert, but I was pretty sure he wasn't feeling well.  I made a mental note to tell Mr WithaY when he got home, and thought no more of it.  A couple of hours later, we went to check the situation.  The shrimp had vanished, and the cory were looking suspiciously innocent.

Later that same day, I spotted a couple of the tetra fighting over a lump of Something Pink.  It was a bit of one of the pink shrimp.  We looked, and sure enough, there was a little corpse at the back of the tank.  Mr WithaY fished it out and conducted an autopsy. 

We can confirm that the cause of death was not a gunshot  wound, other than that, no idea.   We had no luck gathering epithelials.  I understand from my extensive research** that they are useful in an investigation.

We're feeding them less, as the fish shop man advised, but I am a bit anxious that they'll just start eating each other.  Gah.

Oh, and we still haven't had our oil delivery.  Bloody useless Boilerjuice.  We'll not be using them again.  Over 2 weeks since we ordered it, and no sign.  Fuckers.  And we had snow again yesterday and this morning. 

*The doctor diagnosed me over the phone. Clearly he didn't want me and my filthy vomit-making germs anywhere near him.  A wise man. 

**watching CSI.  It looks pretty straighforward. 


@eloh said...

An excellent update. Glad you are getting better.
The food sounds wonderful and three bouquets!

I have three videos from the internet on my favorites. One about a little girl and her dead fish. She looks and sounds like what I imagine my son's fiance was like as a child...and therefore what a grandchild of mine may look and be like (if, please God, she would take after her mother and not my son).

Anyway, I wanted to pass on to you the proper way to flush a fish.

badgerdaddy said...

The tomato fruit/vegetable thing is forgiven, as you used one of the great words of the English language in there, beautifully: assuage. Brilliant, ta.

livesbythewoods said...

Eloh, yes, much better at long last. That video was deeply moving, thank you for sharing it with us.

Badgerdaddy, yes, thank you for pointing out my schoolboy error re: fruit/vegetable recognition. Glad you liked the use of language though.