Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A sad state of affairs

Perhaps it is the New Year. There are a number of things which need to be fixed in the house. Some are very trivial. This house has high ceilings, and I do not have a big tall ladder. Nor do I want to buy one, as it probably is not prudent to clamber up ladders to change light globes in high ceilings. Visions of falling and needing help assail me. Prudence dictates I find handymen to do all these repairs. And one thing leads to another.

I have made a list. Yesterday I went to the hardware shops to buy some things. Hardware shops are pretty fascinating places, full of things which you either need, or might need. And there are endless temptations. I came away with a couple of microfibre cloths. Them, when I got around to checking and tidying kitchen drawers I found I already had some, sitting there tamely and quietly, unused. Why don't they make things which beep if you don't use them?

Speaking of not using things, somehow or other, I found myself checking the contents of the pantry.Oh dear! How embarrassing. There were many jars in the pantry dating back to the days when I used to do a lot of interesting cooking. The use-by dates were rather embarrassing. They said things like Best Before 2005.  The contents went into the bin, and I washed the jars. It takes ages to soak off the labels. It is now necessary to make some more jam to use up the jars. But I already have lots of jars of jam. I hope all the friends to whom I have given jam are ready for some more.

I used to be such a good and adventurous cook. These days I worry about setting off the smoke alarms. The sound of the alarms ought not to be quite so alarming. And these days I eat such very simple meals. Lots of raw vegetables, and very little stir frying. If I make pesto it lasts me three meals. A couple of weeks ago I made a curry. That gave me four meals. No wonder I had to throw out the sesame paste and the hot bean paste, not to mention the mysterious jar of sweet mustard chutney. I don't even like mustard, except for a thin smear of it when I bake salmon in the oven. (I no longer fry the salmon in case it sets off the smoke alarm, and thus triggers a heart attack.)

So all this prowling around the house revealed that the windows should be looked at, and some blinds really need to be replaced. The hand rail from the garage to the house level needs to be replaced. The Chinese star jasmine needs severe pruning, and the bay tree is now too tall for me to be able to spray all the insects which infest it. The garage gutter needs fixing, having languished for years since being severely damaged by a truck hitting it some years ago. From time to time trucks go through the very narrow lanes in this area. Quite often they hit walls.

Some cupboard doors need fixing. My doorbells do not work. The clothesline needs re-threading.  I have to get the phone number of a man who did some work for me some years ago, but who is not in the telephone directory. And I clambered around the windows, cleaning the frames, and checking the blinds. This sudden energy surge must not be wasted. And I have ordered a new vacuum cleaner. (This is one of the least exciting things that I can think of.)

On my way home from the local shops I encountered one of my neighbours, a very pleasant young man, who I usually encounter only once or twice a year. He rides a bicycle, is a amazingly keen gardener, and recovered some years ago from a nasty cancer. He has been pruning. You should see his back garden: pots and plants everywhere, and there are just as many in his front garden.We fell into conversation, and he has promised to come around and prune the Chinese star jasmine, and to prune the bay tree. In return - well, I do not really know what return I can make, other than giving him an indefinite supply of bay leaves, but perhaps he might like some jam, and he might like a self-seeded curry leaf tree ( from the murraya family). I have a very vigorous one, and it self seeds everywhere, but what a pleasant and easy tree it is. It can be pruned, and never complains, just keeps growing. A more intractable problem is that some years ago I bought a cardamon plant and put it into my planter box. It seems to spread by its roots, and it seems bent on overpowering any other plants in its vicinity, and obviously it needs manpower, not female power, to remove more than three quarters of it.

The garden is actually looking quite good, despite being ridiculously over-planted. I do keep trying to squeeze in more plants. My daughter gave me a Wollemi pine, a tree which is a survivor from prehistoric times, and which was only discovered relatively recently. It lives in a forest, and does not like to get too wet. Yesterday it rained heavily, so I hope that my plant will not suffer.

While at the nursery yesterday I ventured into the garden part, to look at pots (very dreary) and plants (a monotonous lack of variety) and thus came away empty-handed. I can do better at the local market, and shall hie me thither this weekend. And perhaps I will resist temptation. But perhaps not...


Elephant's Child said...

Snap on the 'rather a lot of things which need doing' front.
Our garden is not at its best. We have had no rain this year, and none since before Christmas. Very dry. And I think overplanting saves rather a lot of things. Perhaps I need to go to the markets and indulge again. Or perhaps not.

Isabelle said...

As well as the garden, I think you should cultivate that young man.