Thursday, 12 January 2017

Rat apocalypse

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!)


cruella said...

No, sorry, nothing to live for due to self-imposed January on the wagon. Not quite sure why I subject myself to such masochism. Blaming it all on my husband who proudly announced he was going to go all healthy (don't want to appear the drunk housewife in front of his disapproving face - note, this is all in my head) and possibly on my Procedure, ie kidneystone blasting thingy the 23. Not that they suggest banning alcohol but I figure no harm in beeing My Best Self moahahaha *croaky witch laugh*

Happy New Year and such.

MargotLeadbetter said...

I was on the wagon, briefly, but 3 dreadful nights sleep later...chin chin!

My current greatest source of happiness is my Fitbit. I know I'm very dull but I find its inaccurate summaries of my life endlessly fascinating. It's mostly because it keeps suggesting I'm highly active and have the appetite of a tiny bird. It's not going to make me fit but I may get addicted to the constant validation it provides.

CJ said...

Some people go an entire lifetime without finding the perfect woolly hat, you have been truly blessed. Have put off New Year's Resolutions until I am strong enough to face them which is likely to be tomorrow. So I am living in dread of sugar withdrawal and have no bright spots to offer. I do have a book on Fermenting Vegetables which promises to provide interest and excitement in the form of a build up of gas and maybe even the odd explosion. Such is the stuff of January.

Anonymous said...

This is enormously cheering despite there being no explosions and some sad demises,
but don't you now want a tree pangolin and a snake necked turtle to add to the chickens and tortoises - and goats, please let 2017 be the year Waffle gets goats.

Andrea Bird said...

I await a photo of the lovely sounding perfect woolly hat!

Waffle said...

Margot - Oh god, me too, even though I know it lies. When the activity thing goes green and it tells me "you are absolutely crushing it" I get an ungodly thrill. My husband didn't understand why I had fetched so much wood from the basement, but it was to appease the fitbit.

belalumo said...

Small bright spots of the month so far: Your comment about the tortoises in your crisper left me with many questions. This led to me watching a rather long video of a man "unboxing" his tortoise and very lovingly waking him up from his hibernation. It was a bit strange and also quite touching. Also, this corgi with a heart shaved on it's backside is still making me laugh many days later.

Anonymous said...

Dear Waffle, I wish you an excellent year in 2017, filled with the best things in life!

I received a FitBit for Christmas but it's still in the box because I've been caught up in a frenzy of work and various different stressful events ever since (it seems at least one thing has gone wrong every day since NY's Eve, so I must be nearing the bottom of the curve, right?). It's cheering to know that when I get around to configuring it and remembering to wear it, there will be fun involved. I could definitely do with some fun and encouragement, even if it comes from a wearable device!

I am glad you managed to get along well with everyone in a confined space during the holidays. A veil shall be drawn over my experience in that regard, but I will certainly be putting more thought into planning next year's downtime at this time of year. My only few days off in months turned into an absolute hell, walking on eggshells around a relative's moods, smoothing the edges for everyone else that was baffled by the situation and having to prepare meals for even more people than usual, when all I wanted to do was lie in bed, have a cup of tea now and again, read a little and chill the f*ck out for a while before launching back into work again. Turns out beautiful isolated locations lose a lot of their charm when you realize there are no eateries within miles and you never get a moment's peace without someone wanting something or another.

Please share the salad spinner details because I think I would find some sensory gratification in pulling a cord to make it spin around. Less waterlogged salads would be an additional plus.

Oh dear, this is being very negative and I don't think I should be spreading any more negative because everyone already has enough of their own negative to deal with.
Happy things:

1) The FitBit, when I get around to setting it up

2) The remote possibility of returning to dance classes at some point in the next few weeks when work abates somewhat

3) My daughter, who is a lovely person and has learned how to make me cups of tea so perfect I could cry (admittedly, she does this when she wants me to extend her screentime, but still, it's a welcome change to just whining)

4) Lots of lovely books I have been accumulating in the hope of reading them at some point this year. I'm reading Nan Shepherd's The Living Mountain in short bursts and loving it. There is a new edition of The Weatherhouse with a foreword by Amy Liptrot (of The Outrun) and it is next on my list. Such a gorgeous cover as well!

5) Various family members have had babies in the last year and seeing their lovely happy baby faces popping up on my WhatsApp every now and again brings great joy even on the darkest of days.

6) This article about a man who knits and travels to various landmarks:

Anonymous said...

On the subject of January, resolutions and office kitchens, this article hits the nail on the head quite a few times:
That bowl at the end...who comes up with these things???!!!

Anonymous said...

Cinnamon buns - I've been searching for the perfect recipe (although not hard enough); are you using this one: ?

Waffle said...

Anon - Yes! But I can't work the dough by hand at ALL, it's far too sticky. OK with dough hook.

WOL said...

Am looking forward to having to wrestle the octopus of a mindless government bureaucracy in order to try to get adequate medical treatment without having to drive 300 miles to and from to get it, all the while being chronically ill and having no energy whatsoever. Said treatment, in addition to other hilarious side effects, will very likely make all my hair fall out, which my mom, who thinks short, furiously backcombed hairdos that have been laminated into immobility with hairspray are totally attractive, will find delightful because she's been trying to get me to cut "that long stringy hair of yours and get it out of your face" for 50 years now. At least, I will be able to knit my own woolly hat to cover my baldness, in the event.

Your cinnamon rolls sound like luscious little morsels of heaven.

Anonymous said...

Read this and thought you'd like it, Waffle:

swiss is the life said...

Lovely to see you back. I dream of a functioning salad spinner. Mine, a new one, leaves me weary and the leaves soggy. Life, huh?

Speranza said...

Your writing is so, so good and equal parts hilarious and spot-on. The hat reference to Benny from Crossroads really made me laugh after having a day (read:week) that was, shall we say, less than stellar. Thank you for that alone.

Leanne Burrell said...

Yay!!! You're back!

Bytowner said...

Please, what is kitchen roll?

Patience_Crabstick said...

Happy New Year! I have to admit, I am fascinated by the notion of four separate state-issued garbage bag colors. Somehow, I don't think that would fly in the US. Maybe in California. We do recycle, of course, but our city uses a "single stream" method, which I believe involves using prison inmates to fish all the recycleables out of a stream of trash. That sounds like something Trump would enact, but it has been in place for years.

Anonymous said...

Lol, did you tell the story about the salad spinner just so you could call it 'kink-shaming' - ?

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