Happy New Year! The world is a roiling pit of terror and awfulness. However, here are a few things that are ok over here. I very much hope you have some too.
1. I have a new salad spinner after years of fighting with a really shit, broken one and it is a thing of wonder. You pull a string and it’s a total sensual pleasure, what, shut up, that is a fully legitimate source of pleasure and anyone who says otherwise is kink-shaming.
2. My children also purchased some new kitchen scales for me for Christmas (no, they did not come up with that on their own) and there is great joy to be found is scales that:
(i) do not switch themselves off arbitrarily when you are halfway through measuring something
(ii) have a non cracked bowl (actually, they don't have a bowl at all, that is the modern way, apparently)
(ii) have not been used to weigh tortoises (everyone is still hibernating in the fridge, bodyweight loss is stable at an acceptable 2%, so I am not getting my crisper back anytime soon).
3. The degree of gratification I experienced when our Alpine Air BnB lady wrote “appartement laissé en très bon état” is… well, quite honestly it’s a little disturbing, but I’ll own it.
4. We all got on relatively well in a tiny confined space in a snow-bereft ski resort over New Year with no feasting on spinal fluid, which is little short of a miracle. Although I feel bad for the people who like skiing, I myself, as a ski refusenik, was perfectly content with walks in the mountains (we saw chamois! And put up a black grouse! According to the mountain guide, a genial man who did not stop talking for five solid hours, god help us all, if that happens twice in really cold weather, the black grouse DIES, because it no longer has the energy to fly and just gives up and expires #teamblackgrouse), reading, goggling at the profusion of terrifying fur garments, testing various types of tarte aux myrtilles, etc. Here is my elder son totally enjoying that five hour hike for which he was not bribed with the offer of actual money, no that definitely did not happen.
This walk was organised by, I dunno, the Megève tourist board or something and there was only one other participant: A FOURTEEN YEAR OLD BOY. ON HIS OWN. I keep trying to imagine my children volunteering for a five hour hike with strangers, participating cheerfully whilst asking questions on local flora and fauna, then choking on my own tongue laughing.
5. My sister gave me the perfect woolly hat (large, soft, plain, colour “bramble”) for Christmas and it fills me with love and makes my head cosy without giving me the full Benny from Crossroads vibe.
6. Brussels, in its wisdom, has given us a fourth colour of rubbish bag which we are instructed to fill with a mystifying selection of household waste. As a person wholly committed to slavishly following arbitrary instructions to the very letter, my new orange bag is filling me with joy. Who knew, before the orange bag, how much kitchen roll we use? No one. And now I do. And no one else wants to hear about it, but never mind. (So much. So much kitchen roll)
7. No Offence is so great. I hadn't realised it was back and am thrilled.
8. I have totally mastered making proper, fluffy, delicious cinnamon rolls, even though the dough (Felicity Cloake) is a right sticky, ornery bastard and terrifies me. My freezer is now full of cinnamon rolls, individually shrouded in blue bags. When I get anxious and have no recycling to sort obsessively, I can open the freezer and count cinnamon rolls. I am flooded with calm and satisfaction. It is good. Here are my cinnamon rolls pre-freezing:
(ndlr: no one else in this house likes cinnamon rolls, they are mine all mine)
9. Having been hideously sick over New Year (réveillon meal: 1 stick of chewing gum, 1 cup of tea, half a plain yoghurt) and thus missing out on four days of good eating and drinking, I feel fully justified in eating cinnamon rolls whenever the mood takes me.
10. Belgium is its usual insane self, as poorly represented by this random selection of pictures I have taken recently:
(I also have a picture of a man on my tram talking on the phone to someone listed in his phone as "Pigeon", but sadly "Pigeon" was illegible in my stealth pic)
My New Year's resolution is to engage more deeply with Belgian culture. Let's see what that brings.
You? What tiny bright spots are softening the rat apocalpyse for you?
(PS - What can I do about all the fucking witch doctor spam comments? Z is being driven mad by them, but I can't see any option to allow anonymous comments yet still banish witch doctor testimonials. Help!)