dimanche 30 octobre 2016
CHAPTER NINETY :
I have already told you that I think September is the right month to make a fresh start.
Most of the time, Summer has given us the opportunity to cool down, to pamper ourselves, laze in the sunny afternoons, well, you know, all the trifles we can't do the rest of the year.
So, yes, when September comes, we feel just like a marathon runner on the starting blocks : carbo-loaded, determined not to shy away any longer, ready to challenge ourselves and craving for a new way of life.
In October we are usually still in the mood (a perky one,of course !). Foggy mornings and chilly evenings haven't got the better of our sunny Summer memories ! We flutter about cheerfully and hopefully !
And then, without warning, November is on ! No need to flick through our diaries ! Just peek through the window : the sky is overcast, shy sunbeams play hide and seek, and leaves swirl off the trees.
Overnight things get different. Our " joie de vivre " fades away with lightning speed, and, as days go by, grumpiness is more and more in the air.
Whose fault ? The increasingly early sunsets ? The miserable weather ?
Well, don't ask me : sorry, I don't know everything !
But remember : I am a perky busy bee, so what matters in that dull and grey period is to keep in a state of well-being through thick and thin.
And then, what's better than to adopt the motto :
" A healthy mind in a healthy body "
You see, whatever the season, my inner food-lover always has the upper hand !
My secret to fight under-the-weather blues and move full steam ahead ?
A comfort soup a day !!
No kidding ! That's the cosiest and heartiest dish for Autumn dinners !
The fragrance of a pumpkin soup simmering and filling the kitchen always delights me, and, I guess, delights my guests, too !
Except once, perhaps ...
You already know that I am a poor cook (chapter 49 : Add a pinch of humour and Bob's your uncle),but making a pumpkin soup is no fuss !
So, why on earth, did I decide on one Halloween Day , to change my usual recipe and treat my friends with something more original ?
A pumpkin soup made directly inside the pumpkin !
The hardest part was to carve it out,but fortunately Dearhubby lent me a hand.
Afterwards I followed the instructions step by step, and everything went on smoothly. I just had to bake my Halloween soup gently.
As easy as ABC !! Once the thermostat was set, I could get ready for my guests quietly.
I even had time to indulge myself with a warm bath, to languish in and soak away the ' cooking stress ' (yes, preparing meals for my friends always turns me into a bundle of nerves !).
Once out of the bathroom, and while dressing, I was a bit puzzled and disappointed, cause there was no smell of pumpkin in the air.
Well, after all, the kitchen door was closed, and perhaps the soup baking in the oven was not as fragrant as when simmering in a pan ...
It was a top-rated and reviewed recipe, so no need to worry !!
Then, I took time to do my hair as well as I could (no picnic as I told you in chapter 84 " A bad hair day "), slipped into my shoes and trod to the kitchen.
As soon as I stepped in, I noticed it was scorching hot inside ! No heating on, so maybe the oven ??
Well, I had no time to think it over, cause my guests were about to arrive.
I had to take my creamy soup out of the oven, otherwise they would burn their tastebuds !!
The oven glass door was blurred, so I couldn't see how my pumkin was behaving inside.
I pulled the door, but it didn't open.
A second attempt : no way !!
Then ,I caught sight of a red light flashing on and on .
Jeez !! Instead of setting the thermostat, I had hit the self-clean button ...
Nothing to be done till the lock completed its cycle and came back to the unlock position, which meant 60 minutes later !!
And then, my poor pumpkin would be in such a bad condition that it could not even be turned into a Jack-o'-lantern !!
Wallowing in self-pity ?
No time ! The knell, I mean the doorbell, was ringing !
I pulled myself together, opened the door,and said,as cheerfully as I could :
" Welcome to our Halloween party ! Trick or treat ? Well, no treat today, but just a trick : I have ruined the first course, so you'll have to do with the main course and the dessert, but anyway, don't worry,neither is home-made !! ".
That's all for this week, my sweet pumpkins (a bit familiar, isn't it, but we have known each other for long now ,so...)
Don't forget : life is a one-time offer, so use it well, and be perky !!
dimanche 23 octobre 2016
CHAPTER EIGHTY-NINE :
Three weeks ago I told you about my book addiction, and how hard it is to curb it !
But, do I really want to ?
Well, actually, I don't think so.
Books are my best leisure-time friends. Novels change my mind off things, and thrillers can keep me awake all night long, either because the plot is engrossing, or because they are so true-to-life that I need to get up again to check all the doors are locked (see chapter 57 : thrill-seeker).
When I snuggle in bed with a book and begin reading, I am so excited about the adventure to come that I hardly ever fall asleep !
Yes, I'm a sleepless reader !
Fortunately, I'm a short sleeper,as well. I can get by with just five hours of sleep. I am both a night owl and an early bird.
I can turn in well after midnight, then get up a few hours later, and barrel through the day without needing to take naps or load up on caffeine.
So, how come that when watching TV, I can't help dozing off, or even worse, falling asleep.
No kidding ! I can't remember the last time I've made it all the way through a movie, while on the couch !
I have tried all the tips I could find :
. Nibbling worked pretty well, but my weighing scales didn't agree and
threatened to go on strike if I continued confusing a handful of raw
almonds and the whole harvest of an almond tree ! So, ...
. Sipping a hot drink (no herbal tea, of course !): once was enough to
make me forget about that !
My eyelids closed without warning, I dropped my cup, soaked my
pants and nearly burnt my lap !
. Twiddling my thumbs and wiggling my toes turned out to be not only
useless, but painful, cause it triggered my first rheumatic experience !
No need to tell you that when the GP asked me if I had had a kind of
repetitive physical workload over the last few days, I answered a
straightforward " No ".
Fortunately, Dearhubby was not with me, otherwise he would have
spilled the beans !!
Whatever the tips and tricks, relevant or wacky, my eyelids were stronger. They ruled the roost, and reaching an agreement on their closing time was too much to ask for !!
Not being able to concentrate on the babble box, even when one of my favourite broadcasts was on, was rather frustrating !
Then, I thought that lying or snuggling on the couch was perhaps too comfy, and thus not really suitable to keep eyes wide open.
Yes, I needed to swap my soft sofa for a merciless seat, I mean , an armless one with a straight back and a paper thin pad .
And there I was,the day after, sitting upright on my office chair, ready to watch an episode of one of my favourite series.
How hazardous it was ....
Half-an-hour later I jerked my head up, just in time not to fall off my sneaky chair !!
Once more Mr Sandman had won the game !!
A few days later, a re-run of " Mulholland Drive " was on . I had already seen that film, but I had not got really the point of it. So, if I wanted to get a chance to catch the things I had missed, there was only one way out :
Sitting on the wooden floor !
And that's what I did !
At nine sharp, I was sitting cross-legged on the floor with, I must confess, a cushion under my bottom (a budding yogi needs some comfort).
Then David Lynch film started.....and then " Silencio " the last word of that great movie was spreading on the screen !!
Heck !!! I had fallen asleep one more time and missed a masterpiece !
I staggered up and caught sight of my dog Charlie (RIP) lying on the sofa, watching the TV set, and I guess, expecting the dotted puppies of " The 101 Dalmatians " to frolick on the screen soon !!
The world had gone crazy !!
That's all folks !
By the way, if you have seen " Mulholland Drive ", your helpful clues are welcome !
PS : Thanks a million Laurence B. for your recent phone-call . It really made my day and encourages me to keep on trying to entertain you with my weekly stories !!
lundi 17 octobre 2016
CHAPTER EIGHTY-EIGHT :
Have you noticed ? There's something different in the air. Still ' perky ', of course, but a bit chillier in the early mornings and the late afternoons,isn't it ?
Yes, Autumn has definitely set in ! Even though the sun does its best to warm us, its pale and weak rays have nothing to do with July and August scorching ones !
So, it's time to shelve our Summer t-shirts,shorts,bermuda shorts,low-backed dresses, flip-flops and sandals, and slip into our Autumn clothing.
When you live in the city, it usually means swapping cotton and linen for thicker fabrics.
But, when you live in the countryside or at the seaside, forget about it !
Your stylish blazer will let the sneaky gusts of wind go through and chill you to the bones, the drizzle or the seaspray will ruin your leather jacket in no time, and the early dew will soak your suede boots and your toes,as well !
No, " far from the madding crowd " and the hustle and bustle of big cities, fleece jackets and rubber boots are the only perfect outfit to head into Autumn !
So you see, wherever you are, whatever you do and whether you like it or not, there's always somehow a kind of dress code.
But, don't get me wrong !
If this month you play the layered clothing game, it does not mean you are a country dweller ! Perhaps, you're just sensitive to the cold weather.
You can't judge a book by its cover,can you ? ...Though ....
Well, let me tell you something, and then you will decide whether that old saying is true or not.
When I started teaching adults, I was in my late twenties. As surprising as it may seem in the age of Botox and obsession with youth, teaching is one profession where a youthful look does not always inspire initial confidence.
So, when I was offered to give one-to-one tuitions to a ghost writer ( I was about to say " famous ", but the adjective doesn't match the job), I thought my late twenties could jeopardize that six-month exciting contract.
I really needed to look more mature, more experienced, more self-confident !
And that's how, one year, from January to June, twice a week, I used to swap my casual clothing for something more formal, something more
' I'm an old hand at teaching English, just trust me and everything's gonna be alright ! '.
Good opportunity to give a breath of fresh air to the skirts and pantsuits I had bought on an impulse and never worn afterwards !
The ghost writer turned out to be studious and eager to learn, but always snowed under, on edge, and thus moody. I quickly guessed he often flared up, and then the staff knew they had to lie low ...
Fortunately, in those days I was already a perky busy bee, and most of the time I managed to turn his scowling into a grin by the end of our tuition.
Is that the reason why his personal assistant, who didn't know what I was in the office for, mistook me for a kind of psychotherapist, a kind of shrink ??
Or, was she impressed by my suit and my black satchel (crammed with her boss's hidden secrets ) ??
Anyway, one day, as she was leading me back to the door, she asked me if I could spare her a few minutes :
" Sorry, doctor ", she said, " but I have been in the doldrums for nearly two weeks, and I really don't know how to get through ! What do you think I should do ? ".
She looked so sad and at the end of her rope that I didn't have the courage to tell her I was just an English teacher, with ups and downs like everybody !
" Er...well ", I answered, " no miracle pill for that ! Just concentrate on what you enjoy and try not to focus on the negative ! Be good to yourself, keep smiling and you'll get through this ! ".
She thanked and I left.
Once outside, I looked at myself in the reflection of a shop-window, glanced quickly around and gave a discreet wave to the new Mrs Freud (lol).
The week after, when I stepped into the ghost writer's office, the secretary had a beaming smile on her face. On our way to the boss's room, she whispered :
" You were right, doctor ! Life is a one time offer, we must use it
well ! ".
So, what do you think ? Can or can't you judge abook by its cover ??
Think it over and give me your opinion on :
Make the most of each day, and don't forget : be perky !!
dimanche 9 octobre 2016
CHAPTER EIGHTY-SEVEN :
Last week I received a mail from one of my early days' readers telling me that it had been long since I last asked you about your opinion,your experience or your feelings.
Even though I was cut to the quick, I must admit,dear Wally S., that you are absolutely right !
I had to scrowl down to chapter 87 "A bucket list ? A hot potato issue ", to find out the last question I asked you.
It was about your bucket list, you remember, the list of things you want to do before you die, or just to challenge yourself.
You laughed a lot at what topped my own bucket list, but you also really amazed me ! Your goals, your dreams, and what some of you call " the adrenaline rush" that comes from scratching them off from your bucket list, all that was for me a kind of energy booster !
So, why deprive myself of such a benefit ?
I guess an oversight due to my sidetracked side !
So, let me make up for lost time and ask you this week's question.
Don't sweat it out ! You won't have to ponder a lot ! This blog is to have fun and change your minds off things, so no convoluted question !
Just a kind of trivia quiz ...
To play, you just need a stopwatcher or any kind of timer.
Now set it for two minutes : that's the time allocated to answer what follows :
Can you name 10 streets in your district ? (except yours, of course !).
When the countdown is over, rate your knowledge of the place where you live.
1-4 names : either you rely too much on Street View or any GPS navigation apps to find your way or help strangers lost in your district, or you don't walk enough around.
5-8 names : either you've got a good memory or a good sense of observation. Anyway, watch your step, cause street plates are usually high and pavements not always that smooth !
9-10 names : Congrats ! You know your district like the back of your hand. A vacancy at the nearby Tourism Information Office ? Don't hesitate ! Apply for it ! Otherwise, why not offer your services to replace faulty GPS ?
Hey, nosy you ! I guess you want to know about my own results !
Er...rather poor, unfortunately !
How come ?
Well, first because countdowns, whatever the game and its aim, are kind of stress-triggers for me !
No kidding !
I mean, I usually waste nearly one minute to calm down my internal commotion and get to the question ! Then, two minutes elapse rather quickly, don't they ?
That's one thing. For the rest, let me explain my lousy results !
When we were living in Paris, we didn't have a car, and we used to walk a lot. At weekends we enjoyed criss-crossing the city and exploring
off-the-beaten tracks areas.
After a few years, whatever the district we were in, we could nearly always help people and show them the way, even the shortcuts sometimes !
At the time, if I had been asked to name 10 streets in my district, it would have been as easy as pie !
But, when we settled down here, things got different.
It is the place where I used to spend my childhood and teens holidays at my grand-parents' ,so I know the place quite well.
But in those days, some streets had names, others didn't. Or, if they had, nobody cared !
People just knew how to get from one place to another, and street names were the least of their worries.
And, I realized last week that they have always been mine, as well !
I was walking the dog in the surroundings, when I caught sight of a neighbour of mine leaning against a high stone wall.
He is in his eighties, but still a jolly walker (nothing to do with Johny Walker !).
When I asked him if everything was ok, he answered that, as the road is rather steep, he prefered to stop mid-way, get his breath back and enjoy the landscape.
We were chatting casually about the gorgeous weather in Brittany, the quietness of the place after July and August hustle and bustle, when a car stopped near us.
The driver asked us if we knew the area ( of course, we did !), and if we could tell him where G.V. street was.
He had not updated his GPS and had been driving around for nearly half-an-hour, in vain !!
He knew the street was not far, but where exactly ...
After racking our brains for a while, my neighbour and I had to admit we were not a great help. What a shame !! Born there, and unable to show the way to someone in need !!
The man thanked us anyway, and left.
As my jolly walker was fit again, we decided to walk the rest of the way together and continue our conversation about the endless number of advantages of living in Brittany !
As soon as he stepped foreward, I immediately saw he had been leaning his back against a street plate.
Guess what !!
It was G.V. street !!!
When I pointed it out to him, he roared with laughter and so did I !!
So, now you know why I could not name 10 streets in my place.
Are my poor results forgiven ? I hope so !!
That's all for this week, folks !
Make the most of each day, and don't forget : be perky !
for sharing !
dimanche 2 octobre 2016
CHAPTER EIGHTY-SIX :
Do you remember "The Top Shelf Challenge " (chapter 66) ? I hope some of you do, and still use it. With the kick-off of Autumn it could be worth reading it again to make a fresh start...
By the way, thanks a million to the new readers who, when they scroll down my blog and come across the Top Shelf Challenge, never fail to send me mails (email@example.com) to tell me how efficient and funny that tip is !
It is true that it works for top shelves, as its name suggests, but for drawers, garages, cellars and attics,as well!
Decluttering, when you roll up your sleeves and decide to spend the whole day, and even burn the midnight oïl, throwing and putting away,can be deadly boring and nerve-racking ! For sure !!
But a 15 minutes'clear-out is peanuts ! No fuss, no pain, no rage !
So, if " an apple a day keeps the doctor away " proves to be true, why not make out our own saying, such as, for example, " A quarter a day keeps the clutter away " ?
Great,isn't it ?
Well, yes, as long as you don't think the other way round is true-to-life,too ...
I mean, " A quarter a day is enough to pile up stuff " !
Honestly, which saying matches you better ?
Come on, play it fair ! Whatever your answer,it doesn't mean you are a cleanliness freak or a hoarder !
I am just asking about a tendency to ! Nothing to be ashamed of !
Well, to make you feel comfortable, let me show you which rung of the Clutter Hoarding Scale I stand on !
As far as I can remember, I have always enjoyed reading. I can even say that reading has always been my favourite leisure activity.
When a child, I used to spend weekends and days off poring through the exciting adventures of " The Five Find-outers ", the famous series by Enid Blyton.
A bit later, at the local library I came across "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ", and I immediately became a die-hard fan of all the short stories by Roald Dahl.
I think I should send a thank-you letter to those two authors (fort the first, posthumously, unfortunately), cause they really foster my lifelong love of books !!
Years have gone by and I've grown up into a bookworm.
Wherever I go, I always make sure I've got a book in my totebag.
By the way, have you noticed how dingy, dog-eared and boring , reviews in waiting-rooms are !
Are we all suposed to be avid readers of cars and motorbikes magazines, or medical journals ?
Well, let's say no more about it !
After all, lugging around books is not that bad, is it ?
Depending on the weight of the volume, of course !
Some can play havoc on your shoulders !
( You see how careful I am about your health !).
No, what is wrong with major book readers is that whenever they walk into a bookstore, they get sidetracked in a wink.
Most of the time, they get out of their favourite haunt, crushed under their purchases, I mean, the book they were to buy, plus all the ones they browsed through and couldn't put back on the display,cause of
" you never know " or " why not ? " hesitations.
And that's my case !!
The last time we moved, I realized I should have curbed that 'cumbersome ' liking long ago ...
Packing books can be tricky !
Have you evr tried to pick up an over-packed box full of books ? Back breaking !!
Anyway, during our last removal, I decided to get rid of some volumes and donate them to a nearby charity.
Sorting them out was no picnic, but I took up the challenge quite bravely and bade farewell to some books I thought I would never read again.
Once I was done with that chore, I had to admit we had far fewer cardboard boxes to carry into our new home.
For once we would not have to buy new bookshelves to accommodate our ' ever-growing ' book collection !
But we had not taken into account the local bookfairs,and that's when things went wrong, or to be more precise, from bad to worse.
First, because I couldn't help visiting one of those fairs, where I found that special something : a collection of 10 books about " Writing through the centuries "!
They were just like new, and I came back home as a happy as a lark ( or I should say, as perky as a busy bee ), and I must confess, pretty proud of my good bargain !
And then, it was just like entering the ring ...
First round : first blow !
Dearhubby told me that two years before, when we had moved, I had got rid of that collection without any hesitation, claiming that they were just deadly boring and old-fashioned !
Second round : knocked out !
Dearhubby, mercilessly,dealt a fatal blow to the impulsive buyer-reader I was, when he said :
" You see, Perky, the bookshelves are crammed, no more room for your stuff ! You'll have to put them away on one of the top-shelves of the pantries ! ".
Help, help !! Help me get out of that tight spot , please !
Not only had I crammed my top-shelves again, but I absolutely had to get a handbook on how to cure book addiction !
Could you recommend one worth buying ? Thanks in advance !
That's all for this week, folks !
Make the most of each day and don't forget : be perky !