Saturday, 25 October 2014

Happy Day 72: Christmas Cake

#100HappyDays Day 72: I helped Middle B make Christmas Cake today. I know it's a bit early to be thinking about all that, but this is the kind of cake that needs 'feeding' with brandy, so best get started early. I haven't baked in a while so it was fun.

We used the Christmas Cake recipe from Delia Smith - you can't beat a bit of Delia!

We also made mince and bottled it so that we can make mince pies closer to Christmas. We used Mary Berry's Mincemeat recipe though we added in some apricots and some walnuts as well.

  • 175g currants
  • 175g raisins
  • 175g sultanas
  • 175g dried cranberries
  • 100g mixed peel
  • 1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 125g butter, cut into cubes
  • 50g whole blanched almonds, roughly chopped
  • 225g light muscovado sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • 200ml brandy, rum or sherry
Makes 4 x 370g jars
  1. Measure all of the ingredients except the alcohol into a large pan. Heat gently, allowing the butter to melt, then simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  2. Allow the mixture to cool completely then stir in the brandy, rum or sherry.
  3. Spoon the mincemeat into sterilised jam jars, seal tightly, label and store in a cool place.
 Make the mincemeat up to six months ahead and store in a cool place. It’s not necessary to freeze mincemeat as it stores so well.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Happy Day 70: Mock Exam

#100HappyDays Day 70: We had our mock test for our first sign language exam today - it was 5 minutes of conversation with our assessor introducing ourselves, our names, the weather, transport and directions to the cafe. I was a bit nervous before hand but our teacher is lovely and made me feel comfortable. I passed! Here's hoping the real test next week goes as well...

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The Lightness of Being

It's been a long time that I've been holding a little rock of emotion in my heart, all balled up and heavy. I went to my grandma's burial, it was a simple small thing, we were there just over two days and then came back to normality. I started a new term at work. Things chugged along. It gave other people closure, while I continued to have sleepless nights.

I went for acupuncture and my lady said that the emotions are there but I haven't quite connected with them, but I will, and when I do I will sleep properly again. I don't know what I thought would happen - that I would tear my hair out? that I would weep with wild abandon? that I would well up every time I think of her? I have a painting on my wall of my grandma now, and some pictures from her house. In the beginning they made me a little sad, but one day I had a wee cry and I felt a bit better. It felt so feeble compared with the way that grieving takes place in books and plays and TV, but the way we react - the way I react - is never how people think you ought, and books and plays and TV they go for the dramatic, and real life isn't like that sometimes.

Grieving is a funny emotion - of all the emotions I've ever felt, it is the one that is most composite, most strange, with a liquid form, and a strange distortion of time. I have been questioning what I'm grieving over, not just the loss of someone's physical presence in the world, but what she meant, our shared history, the ways she contributed to my life, and what lives on from that. Some people say 'She's not gone, she's still with you' but funnily I don't find that to be entirely true, nor entirely comforting. She is not here. But she is not gone completely either.

I went to her burial and I wore a black dress. I am not comfortable in black dresses, but this one had small bits of orangey red, so it felt alright. There were four of us there, we will hold a memorial in December, but this was small and quick and I hadn't even thought to bring flowers. What do you do at a burial? None of us really knew. The rest of the day I sat with other people and listened to them talk, and my mum was concerned and kept asking if I was alright. I was alright. I was just quiet. I was just sitting. I was just being, how I was. And I was alright with that. Because there is still some discomfort, I didn't have a grand epiphany, and I didn't get closure.

And when I came back to normality, I still couldn't sleep. I had some days where things felt stuck somehow, where I couldn't move. And Middle B knew that things were't quite right. And I had a meditation where I saw her as she used to be - she would smile this sweet smile, and wrinkle her nose at me, and call me sweet names in German. I saw her when she was still mobile and alive, when we went places and drank coffee together and I told her nonsense stories that children do and she was happy, where I used to tread on her heels sometimes because my body was growing into itself and my stride was much bigger than I realised, where I would tell her that I painted and that made her happy. I have not slept, I have not painted, I have not made any clothes. I have not wanted to somehow, not strongly or obstinately but it just didn't feel right, what would I paint? what would I produce? from these feelings?

I don't know what I thought would happen to these feelings, maybe a big bang? I'd have a big cry and somehow through all the tears and the wailing I would be healed? Or suddenly I would have some vision, I would change and I would know that she has left me for somewhere much happier? I don't know. But I think that things are getting lighter slowly, things are shifting around. Piece by piece drifting away at its own pace. My heart is still a little heavy, but I think that at some point soon I'll be alright. I might even have another wee cry. I think I'll be alright with that.

Happy Day 69: Homeward Bound

#100HappyDays Day 69: I'm starting to get a little bit sick so I popped into Boots on the way to work and stocked up on Vitamin C and Olbas Oil and Fisherman's Friend. I enjoyed work today but by the end I was pretty tired. When I get to this point down the hill, I know that I am not far from home - and I was happy to get home and rest up and have dinner with Middle B. Cosy.