Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Our Madonna With Cherries

There are hundreds of representations of The Madonna With Cherries , all of them beautiful . But today I stood admiring our local version and had to think that it was one of the best I've ever seen .

It used to stand , almost unnoticed , in a corner by the lift in the old hospital ... the one that was run by the nuns ,

and is still remembered with gratitude by generations of ailing Leeuwarders . The town now has a spiffy new hospital with dozens of lifts and every machine known to man and the old Bonnehûs   ( St Bonifatius hospital  ) has been demolished with exec. residences put up on the land instead .
But dotted about the splendid shiny new Medical Center  (I still think Bonnehûs sounds more comforting )   there are little reminders .
This statue is perfect and children , in particular , must have loved it . Symbolically , cherries represent sweetness of character derived from good works and cherries in the hand of The Christ Child suggest the delights of the blessed  .
And over his ears ?

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Cindy , Jumbo And The Three Charlies

The couple next door have a dog . Tiny , completely round with a curly coat and silent , Cindy resembles nothing so much as a pom-pom on a lead . She and her owner ; a pleasant mild mannered man as silent as she is , stroll sedately round the park three times a day . A model of urban pet ownership .
But there's a new cat round the corner ... a gigantic ginger tom called , appropriately , Jumbo . He's already terrorised the man downstairs'  three  cats  ( all called Charlie for some reason ) and they've taken to hiding under the hedge and peering out nervously before crossing the road .
As I came home yesterday , neighbour and Cindy , wagging her tail politely in greeting , were off on their constitutional . Imagine my surprise when I heard her suddenly give a miniscule snuffly squeak   . Neighbour pulled her to heel briskly .
"Now , now Cindy . Don't bully the cat ! ".  Jumbo , who could disembowel us all , turned , smirked and swept off  .
The local vet might consider giving self-defence lessons , perhaps .

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Autumn again .

It's that time of year again  . I never seem to have put the right coat on and am usually overheated or rainsoaked .

Still , it definitely isn't this windswept and bleak  , either . This is the cover of a 1947 pamphlet , advertising the Friese Agricultural Fair in September when , by the look of it , you'd have been advised to put on winter woolies and a hat , complete with hatpin . Proof of climate warming , if we still need it  .
But , it prompted me to think about knitting again . Nothing complicated ... until the other cataract is removed , I have no depth perception  , making sewing impossible , knitting interesting and cycling alarming . Well , I say nothing complicated , but led astray by Friend who'd discovered a new
 woolshop , I found myself taking home rainbow wool and circular needles ... which I've never tried before . I'm a great fan of YouTube though , and  always believe that there's the perfect video that will show me exactly How To ....

and there was . Or would have done  had I paid attention  .  It turns out that when Miss Kaufman says ,  "make sure the cast on row isn't twisted " ,
 she means just that . So I've now started again . Properly  . This time it'll look less weird . I love the way it feels  .

Friend had found a new cafè , too , that does delicious steak sandwiches . No photo since we ate them all up the second they hit the table so I'll show you their menu instead ... the bit where they explain their policy . Good food , responsibly sourced and served with a smile , preferably to smiling customers . So we smiled widely .

I saw today that the cafè in our local library has a more take-it-or-leave-it policy , judging by their sign outside ... 'geen' meaning no , in this case .  They do have very nice coffee , though . 

And , finally , a photo my colour therapy lunch today . Remarkably cheering . I even smiled .

Thursday, 18 September 2014

A Splendid Girls' Day Out

On Tuesday , YD and I had a Girls' Day Out . After a hideously early start ... when did you last voluntarily get up at five in the morning ? ... it included taxi rides , endless coffees and the latest glossy magazines , a special hat for me , small displays of beautifully arranged antiques and excellent , friendly personal service with a smile .  
Where did we go ? The local hospital's eye department and their cataract removal clinic . I'd been terrified ... scalpels ? stitches in my eyeball ?  what would I see ? ... so it was perhaps just as well that YD kept a firm grip on my elbow while we went in but , once we were there , everyone was so welcoming that it would have been churlish to turn and run back whimpering  into the dawn light .
And now it's done and I can see everything clearly again with my left eye , I only have one slight complaint . I've got to wait seven more weeks for the right eye to be done . Why can't I go back tomorrow ?

            Me in my nifty new eye cap ... fortunately only to be worn at night . It keeps on sliding
            down to my chin .

Before she left YD pointed out that I'd wrongly attributed the Henry VIII and his wives drawing to her . Apparently it was by Smitonius . "I couldn't have done anything so good . Besides I'd have given them mouse ears ".  And , it's true . She'd have made dancing mice of them all . My abject apologies , meanwhile , to my eldest daughter

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Hoarder Or Archivist ?

 I've spent most of the last week rummaging , looking for an old photo for Middle Daughter . Elder Grandson is at the gappy stage , when teeth suddenly fall out , usually at inconvenient moments resulting in reverently wrapping tooth in a paper napkin and Not Losing It Till They Get Home . He's now keen to see how his parents looked when they were losing their front teeth ...
 "If he just waits a few more years , he can see for himself . We'll be doing it again  " , said his mother , obviously feeling her age .
 Meanwhile , I'm hunting for a snap of a seven year-old MD in a poncho and toothless . Needless to say , I've found everything but . He'll have to content himself with images of toothless aunts , great aunts , grandmother , second cousins once removed ... even a dentally challenged , much younger Opa .
 Which has made me wonder why I've still got all this stuff . How many generations of photos does one keep ? The one of a great uncle , aged one , propped in a chair playing a large drum is rather sweet , for instance and must be guarded . But a fuzzy-ish black and white shot of  great grandmother's anonymous cousin's small son in full Highland dress , while equally sweet , seems less necessary , somehow . But I religiously put them all back in boxes , which will eventually be left to my daughters to store in their turn .
In the same case , I was amused to find a stash of drawings which I'd kept from their early school years

 This one caught my eye , since I'm reading an historical novel , at the moment , about Henry II * . YD  must have been doing English History at the time . I'm particularly intrigued by her depiction of Anne Boleyn ... the eyes ! ... The sheer brazen tilt of the hussy's head ! . Still YD's  teacher was , after all , a Spanish nun so La Boleyna wasn't going to be kindly viewed , I suppose . One day I must organise it all and hand them on but I'm too fond of them to do it yet .

* Elizabeth Chadwick's "The Time Of Singing ."

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Time To Dust Myself Down

O.K.  While not going overboard , I've done the mumpy bit and  it's time to do something that involves less sighing ... so tiring ...

 Given that Mrs. Laxmi Devi hasn't suddenly appeared outside my front door , rolling up her umbrella à la Mary Poppins , we've just been eating cottage pie or chicken fillets , slightly cheered by the last of the Dutch strawberries for pud. I've stoically eaten the last leaden Polenta Muffin and I've got Yotam Ottolenghi's  "Plenty" out of the library to see if it can inspire me to cook something a bit more inspiring  . I like his recipes ... so unjudgemental and very comforting . And  I do like aubergines .

The trip to the library helped in another way , too . At last I'd managed to creep towards the end of  "Incredibly Loud etc."  and returned it , glad to have read it but in need of something more relaxing . And I found Kate Atkinson's "Life after Life" on the New Book shelves ( English books take a while to get up here ) . "Oh , " said the librarian , "you'll love it ! " ,  And I did .

I finally got a haircut that doesn't make me look like an elderly Milly Molly Mandy

But more Christopher Robin-ish , which is an improvement ... I think .

 And today we visited a Care Farm

that Husband liked and seems happy to go to one day a week . Chickens and cows , loads of cats and a beautiful Friesian horse , not too many people and the freedom to help out or just to sit in the conservatory admiring the view . It's beautifully and imaginitively run by a couple who watched their small farm become steadily less viable , while looking for a friendly day care place for a relation , and decided to kill two birds with one stone . The prospect of feeding the calves and the presence of a pair of very fat pigs clinched the deal . He goes for a trial day next week . His clogs and Benny-from-Crossroads wooly hat are ready and waiting . I could see the farmer looking at them with approval .

Thursday, 14 August 2014

What I'm Doing After My Holiday

The same as I did before , really ... without the football avoidance .

 Admiring the boats as they chug past , especially the huge ones whose masts tower above our three-storey building . Cycling through town , down Maria Luisa street and Button street to the gym and the odd desultory bit of exercise . Googling anything and everything ... pig gelatine and what  it's doing in Becel Light , for instance . Cooking rather badly ( does anyone else have spells when they just can't cook anything edible , or is it just me ? ) and sewing something rather uninspired that will end up in the scrap box .
Having a post-holiday dip , in other words .
Luckily I haven't forgotten how to read . At the moment , I'm reading Jonathan Safran Foer's  Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close in tiny bites ... it's Incredibly In Your Face and too sad and weird to read in one go . I've worked with quite a few autistic and ADHD children and  tend to get sucked in , perhaps  . But , while I can't say I'm enjoying it , I'm fascinated .
And , perforce , I'm plunking food on the table , edible or not . Çooking blight notwithstanding , I've found a chaas formula I like ( can't call it a recipe , really , since it's just buttermilk with spices and herbs , but wonderfully refreshing and good for you ) and , unexpectedly , a Cold Cure which I must share with you . In a little book titled Nepalese Kitchen , a Mrs. Laxmi Devi writes
 "Doctor Turmeric ! For instant relief of cold , add 1/2 tsp. turmeric to a glass of hot milk and drink it ." 
Not being fond of yellow milk I probably won't , but do let me know if it helps . She's obviously a splendid woman to have around ... her hiccup cure sounds failsafe , if less technicolour .
"Roast some peppercorns and breathe in deeply" .
 She would probably whip me and my saucepans into shape in a trice  .